Monthly Archive: March 2011

Cee Lo Green + Ebony Bones! @ 02 Academy, 28 March 2011

Review for Birmingham Live.

American singer songwriter Thomas DeCarlo Callaway is a talented soul. Also a rapper and producer, originally part of southern hip-hop group Goodie Mob, he then went onto form Gnarls Barkley with Dangermouse. Tonight we see him in his own right at The Academy – “laydees” and gentlemen welcome Cee Lo Green.

On stage at 8.15 come support act Ebony Bones! Before coming to tonight’s gig, I caught a bit of the 2009 album ‘Bone of My Bones’ and they seem an eclectic mix of dance meets 80s Bowwowwow, with full on African drum beat. The band appear on stage in bizarre costume including the guitarist in a wooly hat with red bobble and two male singers in face masks with beaks! The singers rat-tat-tat on metal percussion instruments in line to a full on drum beat. The on comes front woman Ebony Thomas in a bright green long stringed dress with massive beaded necklace and pink tie-dyed leggings accompanying her massive bleached Afro hairdo.

‘We Know All About You’ features an infectious beat, while bizarrely, the house lights are switched on and off on time to the beat. She’s a full on character, full of energy, bouncing around the stage – at one point rolling around on it. Ebony Bones! are a tad out of place with this audience (the Academy is half full made up of middle aged woman, younger couples and little people) – they would do far better supporting a dance act, RnB act like Tinie Tempah or indie band. She tries in vain, to get the audience to bounce left, then right, then forwards, then back. “Birmingham stand up …clap along – it doesn’t matter about the person next door to you – you won’t see them tomorrow.”

Then they run off stage and back on – now she’s dressed in a full length white sheet, with poles to extend the arms – producing a fan effect when she holds her arms aloft. Last song ‘Guess We’ll Always Have New York’ is extended by another – which comes to an abrupt halt less than a verse in, much to her apologies. Technical problems or booted off stage for the set running on too long? Hmmmnnnn…. an interesting if somewhat unique band.

The main man is due to appear onstage at 9.15. Meanwhile laid back 70s soul is played through the sound system. 9.25 the roadies are still sound checking “one, two…. two…. two… one, two…” Dry ice is squirted across the stage, the crowd cheer expectantly. “One, two…” goes the roadie. 9.30 he’s still not on, we’re bored, the crowd are talking (not the type of crowd to heckle).

Finally 50 minutes after the support act departed, at 9.40 the lights go down and there’s a deep spoken voice over piano, with words for the “laydees” that Marvin Gaye would have been impressed with. Then a rock sound with scream and on comes Cee Lo Green, a larger man, dressed in gold shirt and shades, accompanied by an all female band dressed in gold cat suits – think Robert Palmer’s ‘Addicted to Love’ video.

For the first song the sound balance is out and it takes until the second ‘Bright Lights Bigger City’ for the crowd to fully wake up and engage, repeating back the “oh yeahs”. He rolls through the songs from his 2010 album ‘The Ladykiller’. ‘I Want You” is followed by the Gnarls Barclay hit ‘Crazy’ which live, comes across as one of the more stand out tracks.

He’s quite chatty, engaging rather than charismatic, speaking fast with a small American voice, sometimes difficult to understand, specifically to the “laydees” in the audience. The songs are very much in the format of the three-minute pop song and appear to stop abruptly. Then to the end of the set and the net sensation ‘Fuck You’, which gets the crowd going and morphs into what bizarrely appears to be The Clash’s ‘Rock The Casbah’.

Back on for the encore – “Forget You’ – an acoustic accompaniment with piano in tow. Then into a cover of the Lou Reed classic “A Perfect Day’ which starts off as a highlight of the show, Cee Lo hitting very high notes – but it grinds to a halt after one verse and one chorus. “You keep me hanging on – see you all at the afterparty…”

Cee Lo Green isn’t someone to really watch, better on the radio than live and he dances like a telly tubby! But he undoubtedly has a great soul voice, not really shown to its full capability in a venue such as the Academy, where the sound is not always the best; at times tonight there’s terrible feedback. Tonight’s gig cost £23.50 – for a just about an hour set, for which he was nearly half an hour late. If he’s out supporting a bigger act, worth seeing, but as for in his own right, to be honest I’d save your monies.

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Listening:
Ebony Bones! ‘Bone of My Bones’ (2009)
Cee Lo Green ‘The Ladykiller’ (2010)
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Review – Zyllah Moranne-Brown

Unfortunately no photographs were permitted for this concert.

The Stranglers + Wilko Johnson @02 Academy, 17th March 2011

Review for Birmingham Live!

Tonight at The Academy it’s to see one of the most enduring bands – The Stranglers. Initially renowned through pub rock, then punk, then more commercial and then more rocky, The Stranglers unique style has lead to 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums. A true stubbornness to call it quits, even with the loss of more than one lead singer; they’ve successfully achieved a career spanning four decades.

Formed in ’74 by founding members Jean Jaques Burnel, Jet Black and Hugh Cornwell, Dave Greenfield joined them within a year. A series of successful punk hits, then embracing a more commercial yet unique sound during the eighties, The Stranglers became a regular not only in the charts, but on the touring scene, until Hugh Cornwell split to go solo 1990. Not to be outdone, The Stranglers became one of the few bands, especially at that time, to replace their lead singer and carry on, employing Paul Roberts on vocals. Roberts left 11 years ago, but that was no stopping the boys, bringing in guitarist Baz Warne on vocals – a shared duty with JJ Burnel. Now rolling into their fifth decade – clearly nothing stops them, with Brunel nearing 60, and the incredible Jet Black, now 72, putting many of the audience to shame, drumming his way through an hour and a half set.

Support tonight comes from another enduring singer, Wilko Johnson, creating music since ’74 initially with Dr. Feelgood and then for a period of time with Ian Dury’s band The Blockheads. Tonight he gives a half hour set, with snippets of Dr. Feelgood, slightly punk in sound – with rocking horse rhythm and blues. He gets a good response from the crowd.

Then turn 9pm, and on come The Stranglers dressed, as usual, all in black, to the cheeky impish ‘Waltzinblack’ intro. Immediately in to the politically incorrectly titled ‘I Feel Like A Wog’ the first part of the set rattles through a series of their classic tracks.

The enquiring ‘Was It You?’ and the sleazy classic ‘Peaches’ and a few words from Warne: “Believe we’re in fucking Birmingham….. Any behaviour completely excused, so get off your fuckin’ heads. Ok?” And then we’re off again into the rip-roaring ‘(Get A ) Grip (On Yourself)’.

The Stranglers audience are stubbornly loyal, just like the band. The Academy is just over half full, average age span between forties to fifties (though few punks are in the audience – clearly now grown up and responsible) and whilst chilled, are very responsive, willing to participate and respond to the band.

Couple of tracks later, and they sings along to ‘Always The Sun’ before the beautiful cords to the melting classic that is ‘Golden Brown’, still after all these years, a song that makes the hackles stand up on the back of your neck.

The set continues with slightly lesser known tracks – the crowd still engaged and up for it, some bouncing along, beer being thrown.

Warne, comfortable as band spokesman and main vocalist: “How we doing on this Saturday and ‘super moon’ ( a reference to the closest the moon has been to the earth in 18 years and the so- called pending doom this will cause). Next some for ladies. I see a few lasses and girlies but are their any ladies?” and then into ‘Two Sunspots’. Then a few more songs, including the harmonies of the rolling ‘Relentless’ from the 2006 album ‘Suit XVI’ and close of the main set to ‘Nuclear Device (Wizard Of Oz)’.

Then back on for the encore – Warne: ‘Thankyou, thank you, thank you – thank you to our support and Wilko fuckin’ Johnson. Apparently.” Then into ‘Go Buddy Go’ the crowd singing the ‘GoGoGo’ bits and getting the timing spot on for “two, three, four…”. Song two and we’re into ‘Hanging Around.”

And it’s not over yet – another encore to the thumping ‘All The Day And All Of The Night’ with Warne chatting to the audience halfway through. Then Burnel dabbling on the bass, here come the riffs and we’re into the classic ‘No More Heroes.’ To an acknowledgement that they’ll return next year – Burnel strips off his shirt and chucks it into the crowd.

The Stranglers are totally uncompromising. After all these years they have lost none of their stamina, none of their edge, none of that punk attitude, they sound great musically whether in punk vengeance or great harmonies on tracks such as  ‘Golden Brown’ and ‘Relentless’. The Stranglers are one of those bands who have been touring so long, that if you like going to gigs, you’re likely to have seen them at least once ( I think this is at least the fourth time for me.) They’re really good fun, you will bop along to some many songs you know. Full respect to them. Long may they continue. They’ll be back next year. Go and see.

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Setlist:

Intro – Waltzinblack

  1. I Feel Like A Wog
  2. Was It You?
  3. Peaches
  4. (Get A ) Grip ( On Yourself)
  5. Freedom Is Insane
  6. Always The Sun
  7. Golden Brown
  8. Nice ‘N’ Sleazy
  9. Tramp
  10. Baroque Bordello
  11. 5 Minutes
  12. Never Look Back
  13. Two Sunspots
  14. Dead Loss Angeles
  15. Threatened
  16. Something Better Change
  17. Sweden ( All Quiet On The Eastern Front)
  18. Relentless
  19. Nuclear Device (Wizard Of Aus)

Encore

20. Go Buddy Go

21. Duchess

Encore 2

22. All The Day And All Of The Night

23. No More Heroes

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Listening: Take your pick from way too many albums!

 

The Levellers performing ‘Levelling The Land’ + The Wonder Stuff @02 Academy, 17 March 2011

Review for Birmingham Live!

Back to the 02 Academy again for what is probably the gig of the week. The Levellers performing ‘Levelling the Land’ plus (in the words of Miles Hunt) ‘special guests’ The Wonder Stuff. This gig is, in real terms, a double headliner – local lads The Stuffies are still likely to sell out The Academy, while The Levellers on a normal tour, would probably fill just over half capacity. Subsequently tonight’s gig is sold out, the place is absolutely rammed.

And so to Part 1 of tonight’s performance. The Wonder Stuff formed 25 years ago (the actually ‘date’ is celebrated at their London gig of this particular tour) out of the ruins of ‘From Eden’ whose members would also go onto form the other Stourbridge Grebo band Pop Will Eat Itself. Being at Stourbridge Art College and a regular of the drinking dens of the Turf, Exchange and Mitre in Stourbridge, I saw them come together, form and have success. Stourbridge would empty and relocate to local gigs at The Hummingbird or Powerhouse when the lads were playing. So it’s kinda bizarre after all this time that I get to review them.

The version of the band twenty-five years ago is far different from today’s band. Current members Miles Hunt and Malcolm Treece were joined by Martin Gilkes and Rob ‘ Bass Thing’ Jones (both of whom have sadly departed this mortal coil all too early.) Their timing was spot on, indie music was king, 12” vinyl sold like nobody’s business and the initial vinyl’s of ‘Unbearable’, ‘Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More’, “A Wish Away’ and the chart success ‘It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby’ put them in the right place at the right time, with hard touring that gave their first album ‘Eight Legged Grove Machine’ great tracks – exceptional live. Three albums later, the band split in ’94, never again to record original tracks, only to occasionally re-emerge to play the nostalgia hits.

Their current line-up in addition to Hunt and Treece includes Mark McCarthy, Hunt’s current collaborator fiddler Erica Nockalls and one time member of The Poppies drummer Fuzz Townsend. As Hunt points out later in the gig: “Looking at here at start of a Stourbridge supergroup – Fuzz Townsend from Pop Will Eat Itself agreed to join us on this tour…. (To the audience) Fuck off! I’m talking. It would be like members of Duran Duran joining Spandau Ballet! Cos it fucking is.…”(to laughter from the crowd).

So just before 8pm, on they come Hunt: “Aye, Aye Birmingham” straight into “Red Berry Joy Town”. Hunt has returned to his former self – long tousled hair, leather jacket and cowboy shirt. He’s still pretty vocal, although maybe not so cutting as he once was. Hunt: “Over to you brother Treece” and into ‘Here Comes Everyone.’  Hunt: “Nothing Like Coming Home ey? We wrote this song about a 1,000 years ago. We wrote it in Pigeon Park. Wrote it about Birmingham” straight into ‘Caught In My Shadow.”

‘Welcome To The Cheap Seats’ Hunt makes an acknowledgment to lost talent Kirsty MacColl, who featured on the single. The crowd complete the girlie vocals. Then a track by Hunt and Nockalls ‘Fill Her Up and Foot Down’ before back to Stuffies hits and a plug to the 25th Anniversary T-Shirts being sold tonight.

Then to the older and class tracks of the night, ‘Give, Give, Give….’, ‘Unbearable’ and probably the Stuffies at their best, the venomous and tub-stomping B-Side, played at the original gigs “Ten Trenches Deep.” Worth seeing for this alone.

The set ends and they receive rapturous applause from the audience. Far out? Not sure – this version of The Stuffies are a shadow of their former Grebo selves, the original model contained far more clout, venom and kick back to mid-eighties recession. But Miles is still pretty captivating, still up for the put-downs. A guy in the audience was seen to be wearing  a typical Stuffie / Poppy T-shirt from the day – “The Stuffies Ripped Us Off At The Powerhouse” 1988. They didn’t rip us off tonight. Quite good fun. So if you fancy a re-run they’ll be back on the 15thDecember to play “Never Loved Elvis” in its entirety.

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Setlist:

1. Red Berry Joy Town

2. On The Ropes

3. Here Comes Everyone

4. Caught In My Shadow

5. Mission Drive

6. Circle Square

7. Welcome To The Cheap Seats

8. Fill Her Up and Foot Down (Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls track)

9. Animals and Me

10. Mother and I

11. Golden Green

12. Size of a Cow

13. Don’t Let Me Down, Gently

14. A Wish Away

15. Give, Give, Give Me More, More, More

16. Unbearable

17.  Ten Trenches Deep

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Listening:

For the Stuffies at their best: ‘Eight Legged Groove Machine’ (1988)

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And now onto Part 2 –  The Levellers performing their classic “Levelling the Land” on its twentieth anniversary – one time anthem for the traveling, eco warrior and indie communities. Set starts of with video footage of the ‘fight’: eco warriors, Thatcher, music of the time and on come the raggle, taggle family troupe that is The Levellers complete with dreads, long hair and a mixture of hats.

The current line up of Mark Chadwick, Jeremy Cunningham, Charlie Heather, Simon Friend, Jonathan Sevink and Matt Savage fill the stage, bouncing around – they are hugely energetic live, opening to the classic ‘One Way’ eco-anthem for the masses – the crowd enthusiastically sing and bounce along.

The main tracks including ‘Fifteen Years’ are cracking tonight. One of the main pluses about The Levellers is Sevink the fiddler, a very tall dude, who leaps around the stage and is stunning in his playing.  They are not a chatty band – they just do what they do very well: punk, folk, Irish-inspired, fiddly, bouncy music.

A cover to split the album ‘Devil Went Down To Georgia’, complete with red back-lit set, Chadwick raising his hands as horns, audience clapping along and the welling dervish fiddler. ‘Battle of The Beanfield’ (about the ’85 police repression of a peace convoy attempting to set up a festival) still has all the angst and venom about the times – audience in full participation of the words.

‘Levelling the Land’ over – back on for the encore – ‘Hope Street’, ‘ Carry Me’ and ‘Cholera Wall’  – Chadwick getting the audience to clap along, Sevink winding the track up and up on his fiddle. Off and back on for a second encore: the happy-go-lucky ‘Beautiful Day’.

The Levellers are, in general, good fun, with lots of energy, and lots of people of stage, continuously bouncing along. The New Model Army (somewhat surprisingly) do the eco-rebel-against-the-system angst much better. Don’t get me wrong, some Levellers tracks are great eco warrior anthems – but after a while – the songs can get a bit samey, and murge into one another.

But if you like them – you can totter on down to their ‘Beautiful Days’ festival in August, now in it’s 9th year, featuring The Levellers, Carter USM, Big Audio Dynamite and gypsy kings Gorgol Bordello. No sponsorship or branding – like that idea.

And a problem with bands playing an album in its entirety, is that there is lulls between the hits and classic tracks – it was the same with Primal Scream, reviewed earlier in the week. ‘Cos if you’re touring on playing an album you’ve got to play the lot.

On the whole I have to say, tonight’s gig was fun. It certainly wasn’t Unbearable. There was quite a distinction between the Stuffies fans and Levellers fans (made up of stalwart fans, usual eco warriors and family tribe who usually follow them around). With the fiddly links between the two bands, I’m guessing that both bands made more fans tonight. The place was packed from the start at 8pm to 11pm finish. All for 25 nicker. Enjoyable night. Hup!

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Set List:

1.  One Way

2. The Game

3. Fifteen Years

4. The Boatman

5.  Liberty

6.  Far from Home

7.  Hard Fight

8.  The Dance Before The Storm

9. Sell Out

10. Another Man’s Cause

11. Devil Went Down To Georgia

12.The Road

13. Riverflow

14. Battle of the Beanfield

Encore:

15. Hope Street

16.Carry Me

17. The Cholera Well

Encore 2

18. Beautiful day

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Listening:

Levelling The Land (1992)

Levellers (1994)

Zeitgeist (1995)

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More information on the Beautiful Days festival 19-21 August 2011at www.beautifuldays.org

Primal Scream presents ‘Screamadelica’ Live + Andrew Wakeman + Kassidy @ 02 Academy – 15 March 2011

An increasing common feature amongst some older bands is to tour and play one of their ‘classic’ albums in full. Tonight is the first of two such bands I’m reviewing this week. A rare treat for fans to reminisce over past classics. So tonight it’s back to the early ’90s, to rave and acid house. After a series of successful dates, tonight Primal Scream are making their way to Birmingham to mark the twentieth anniversary of their seminal album ‘Screamadelica’.

Primal Scream were formed in ‘82 by Bobbie Gillespie and Jim Beattie. The 2011 line up includes Gillespie (who played drums with The Jesus and Marychain in the 80s), Andrew Lines (guitar), Brummie Martin Duffy (keyboards), former Stone Roses member Gary ‘Mani’ Mountford (bass) and Darrin Mooney (drums).

Initially an indie band (I saw them support Julian H. Cope in this guise) they then found acid house. With the assistance of producer Andrew Wakeman (who’s here tonight doing a DJ set) they produced the classic ‘Screamadelica’, packed with hits (including ‘Loaded’ and ‘Movin’ on Up’) and rolling mellow psychedelic tracks. While the album was a massive commercial success, the then members of the band were too wasted to play it live. They won the first Mercury Music Prize for it and promptly lost the award on the way home as they were too out of it.

Just as the audience is still arriving, to start tonight’s events on stage at 7.30pm, come support band Kassidy. Very different from Primal Scream, the band were confident with good songs, musicianship and harmonies accompanied by the lead singer’s pretty impressively deep voice. Quite an eclectic set, a mix of soft and heavy rock, yet fast and slow, in some respects similar to Nirvana with a mix of fellow Scots Franz Ferdinand when their music got ‘spikey’. Fashion wise they were an interesting mix, ranging from bearded hippy to 60’s mod with striped trousers! The band finished with a crashing finale and left the stage. The audience really seemed to appreciate them.  Maybe worth taking a look – they’re back in the Midlands soon at Wolverhampton Slade Rooms on 24th April 2011.

Then onto an hour of producer and DJ Andrew Wakeman playing a range of tracks. Unlike Heaven 17 and Tinie Tempah who have both included DJ support sets, where said DJ was playing the decks in stage, unfortunately Wakeman was invisible. The only comment I can make is that he played a PIL track.

Then it turns 9pm and it’s down to the main act – here come Primal Scream, Gillespie “Good evening Birmingham, are you ready to testify?” and onto the first track ‘Movin’ On Up’.

I have in previous reviews, questioned the sound system at the Academy. Over more recent gigs, it’s certainly improved. However, this was something different. In both of the corners at the back of the Academy were large speaker stacks. Playing bass and drums LOUD. Incredibly LOUD. Ear-bleedingly LOUD. The floor was vibrating. Now I’m used to loud gigs, I’m seen more loud rock acts than most people have had hot dinners, but this was ridiculous – probably one of the loudest gigs I’ve ever been to. (I should say that a barman took pity on us and sneaked us a pair of earplugs – we owe him a big drink!)

As such for ‘Movin’ On Up’ there was no sound balance and subsequently the vocals and the other half of the expectant sounds, were wiped out. The audience meanwhile, whilst moving away from being too close to the stacks, appeared to be on the whole reveling in the nostalgia of it all, the now late thirty/ forty-somethings able to forget their responsibilities and take a trip on back to the days of festivals and raves.

Gillespie isn’t the chatty type. Lanky and slightly scrawny and dressed in red shirt plus jacket, but looking pretty good given his previous hard-living reputation, he barely spoke, dancing around in a manner Bez would be impressed with.

‘Don’t Fight It, Feel It’ was a great song to revel in, while the lighter, more melodic trippy tracks ‘Higher than the Sun’ and ‘Inner Flight’ took you right back to the summer of hedonism, of being out your face at open air festivals, lying on the grass in the sun. The set was fully accompanied by dry ice and orange and red lazer effects. And as the set went on the tracks extended and became longer and longer, and rolled on, and on….

Then the crowd came out of their trance, the bass got LOUDER and here came ‘Loaded’ followed by even LOUDER sirens introducing ‘Come Together’  – an excuse for people to let rip on the old rave – clearly now a form of bad dad dancing!

Then ‘Screamadelica’ was over and so to the encore, Gillespie “We’re gonna play some rock n roll” and so onto Primal Scream’s next guise of rock and roll band.  So here were their three main hits from this genre ‘Country Girl’, ‘Jailbird’ and the addictive ‘Rocks’.

Primal Scream were never a truly great band. But what they did achieve was ‘Screamadelica’ – capturing a moment in time when dance and rave was the main scene. It is indeed a classic album. And ‘Rocks’ is one of those tracks that you instantly click into when you hear it on the radio. And they did give a great show tonight and the audience clearly enjoyed it.

The spoiler on it for me, there was no need to ramp the speakers up so loudly, it really was wholly unnecessary and took away from the gig. Tickets were £30 – and if this is your thang, then go along, you will enjoy the nostalgia and reveling. But seriously, just make sure you take earplugs – cos if it’s anything like tonight – it’s gonna be a loud one!

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Setlist:

Screamadelia (in full)

Encore:

1. Country Girl

2. Jailbird

3. Rocks

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Listening:

Screamadelia (1991) remastered (2011)

Give Out But Don’t Give Up (1994)

Blancmange @ Birmingham Academy 2, 11th March 2011

Review for Birmingham Live! Pics by Ken Harrison.

Now it’s back to one of those bands that shone brightly for a time, producing truly classic tracks, before disappearing off into the twilight, feeling their time was done. And now, after a TWENTY-FIVE year break, they’re back. Tonight, at the 02 Academy 2, welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the newly reformed Blancmange.

Tonight we’re welcomed to the O2 Academy by a Big Issue seller – “Who are you seeing?” “Blancmange.” Explanation added. “Oh – did you like Spandau as well?” Er….

The 02Academy 2 is three-quarters full of forty somethings, predominantly male, who can clearly remember Blancmange first time round. According to Blancmange’s press release they sound as if they never went away. They were certainly influential in their original hey-day, ‘Living on The Ceiling’, ‘Feel Me’ and “Blind Vision” are just some of their stand out tracks. Over recent years, they’ve been acknowledged as inspirational by bands such as La Roux, Hot Chip and Faithless.

Blancmange formed in ‘79, inspired by Joy Division, early Human League and the godfathers of electronica, Kraftwerk. Stephen Luscombe and Neil Arthur didn’t have a plan; they went along with the ride. And by the mid eighties, they felt their time was as a band was over – but kept their friendship in tact. And so, turn to 2010; they started working on their fourth album “Blanc Burn”. This mini eight-day tour is to promote its release.

Now I should point out here that sadly Luscombe had been advised by doctors not to tour having been diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurism near his spine. So for Arthur to continue with the tour, without his ‘partner in crime’, on stage as Blancmange for the first time in twenty-five years is a massively brave thing to do. He’s accompanied on stage tonight by Indian percussionist Pandit Dinesh and Graham Henderson on the digital / keyboard side of things.

So in a small set, with back screen showing arty images, musical interlude starts with ‘Vishnu’ and on they come. First song is from the new ‘Blanc (pronounced Blank) Burn’ album, the poppy ‘I’m Having a Coffee’. “Hello”, says Arthur in truly northern accent – a cross between Sean Bean and the Churchill bulldog – “Long time innit – bloody ‘ell fire.”

Track two is the rolling ‘I Can’t Explain’ which surprisingly, wouldn’t have been out of place had Trent Reznor been singing it. Arthur: “Well you gotta get it out your system – if you were singing away, I changed a few words around – you kinda get carried away!”

Next up the Talking Heads inspired ‘God’s Kitchen’ to which the crowd responds with loud applause. Arthur: “Spoke to Stephen before tonight’s gig – he gave me a hard time – said it better not be another twenty five years before we do this again.”

Neil Arthur has lost none of his distinct voice and is enjoying playing live, but truly totally stunned that people will turn out to see them after all this time. He’s quite a character with Bean / Churchill-like voice and is thoroughly engaging. Musically live, there is something still current and fresh, in the both new and old tracks. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ starts off wrong Arthur: “That was somebody else’s song (laughing) we were listening to Donna Summer earlier…”

The melodic ‘Waves’ Arthur is definitely stunned by the response. “We made the video in Cornwall – never been so sick on a ship.… kept thinking about the blasted video .” For new song ‘The Western’ with fast ‘do-bo-do-bo-do- bo’ vocals at the end – Arthur gets Denish to complete the song. “Didn’t realize how difficult this would be to sing live when I recorded it!”

Then to the classic ‘Living on the Ceiling’ the audience is in full sing-a-long – completed with a bow from Arthur. Audience member: “Do it again…” Arthur – “Noh”. Shouts from audience. Arthur- “Anything else to add?” Audience member “ Feel Me”. Arthur – “Noh!”

Then set completes with pure class ‘Blind Vision’ and another Talking Head’s inspired track ‘Feel Me.’ Then back on for the encore “ I’m gonna sign stuff afters” – Blancmange complete the set with new song ‘Starfucker’.

Arthur: “Hope it’s not another 25 years before I see u again!”

Blancmange have some great songs. And at tonight’s gig they were still fresh and current, in lots of ways. They weren’t out of step or out of time. They were definitely not, a bunch of old men on stage. Audience members were heard to say they’re definitely going to look out the new album. If they do appear in the next twenty-five years (and this time I am sure they will) with hopefully a healed Luscombe, they are more than well worth a punt.

Everyone wishes Stephen Luscombe a speedy recovery – so he can come along and join in, what is a wholly surprising, but great ride.

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Neil Arthur spent a while signing and chatting to the audience after the gig and gave Brum Live photographer Ken Harrison an opportunity to catch a couple of words with him and to take some more shots.

KH: “Do you mind if I take some pictures here (at the merchandising stall) .The stage lighting was so low, it was hard work to get good shots.”
NA: “It was hard work for me as well!!”
KH: “Neil, why did you leave it so long?”
NA: “I didn’t want to do it, and Steven didn’t need the money”
KH: “Have you got the taste for it again?”
NA: “The response has been great and we’ve got an album of remixes coming.”

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Set List:
Intro: Vishnu
1.I’m Having a Coffee
2.I Can’t Explain
3.God’s Kitchen
4.Drive me
5.Don’t Tell Me
6.Waves
7.The Western
8.Probably Nothing
9.Living on the Ceiling
10. Game above my head
11. Blind Vision
12.Fell Me

Encore:
13.Starfucker

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Listening:
Happy Families (1982)
Mange Tout (1984)
Believe You Me (1985)
Blanc Burn (2011)

Are Gig tickets getting cheaper?

I’ve had a minor rant in a previous post about the cost of tickets to see bands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut I’ve recently seen a few bands and tickets appear to be costing less for your average gig. Where a gig at the Academy would have set you back, on average,  £28-£35 a few months ago (less booking fee and all the other little hidden extras) – there appears to be a cut in the prices…..

Now maybe some are “loss leaders”. Tinie Tempah recently played the Academy. Although sold out, and online reseller were selling them at a lot more, face price on tickets was £16.50. For two supports and a DJ set as well as  the main man. A great gig, and pure value for your pound. The new and shiny kiwis, The Naked and Famous tickets sold at £7.00 (less than a round of drinks).

I’m reviewing some more gigs for Brum Live and Fused – Ticket prices for these mid range venues range from £12 – £29, with the average being £22. So looks like the cost of tickets are clearly dropping.

Is that to do with an assessment of what punters will pay, spesh given that money is tight? Or the fact that there’s a new kid in town – The HMV Institute?

But by all accounts – if live gigs are becoming cheaper  – that can only be a good thing to keep the punters involved and enjoying the experience, whether you be an established or new and spangly band. Keep Music Live!