Monthly Archive: February 2013

Simple Minds @ 02 Academy Birmingham, 24th February 2012

Take yourself back in time, to the late seventies early 80’s, with Kraftwerk inspired dance electronica, with a hint of alternative post punk art rock, new romantic and big arena sound. Think dodgy haircuts, Bowie trousers and men in black eyeliner. Playing a set entirely devoted to tracks from their first five vinyl (remember that?) albums, Simple Minds are in town.

Formed way back in ’78, Simple Minds took an eclectic journey up to ‘82, from the dance classic cult  ‘I Travel’ right through the big sound of the ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’ album, with splashing of arena-filling 80’s hits. Success became stratospheric – by the mid/late eighties Simple Minds were huge, playing not just arenas, but stadia, almost comparable to the success achieved by U2. But for Simple Minds their commercial success diminished, not that has stopped them; they’ve continued to this day, both recording and playing live, and tonight here, in an intimate venue to celebrate with their loyal fans, they’re playing songs from first five albums as part of their 5x5Live tour.

The Simple Minds of today are made up of original members Jim Kerr (vocals) and Charlie Burchill (guitar/keyboards), Mel Gaynor (drummer – who’s been in the line up pretty much since ’82), Andy Gillespie (keyboards – ditto since 2002) and Ged Grimes (bass – newbie and formerly a founding member of Danny Wilson).  It being a Friday night at the 02 so it’s an early end (10pm curfew) so on at precisely 7.31pm – here we go….

The set is drenched in dry ice, blue beams of light shine throughout the venue and we start of with that cult dance floor track that is ‘I Travel’ in all it’s glory, to a rapturous applause from the audience. “Thank you Birmingham – thanks for coming along to see us.” It’s an early start for most the punters but within half an hour the Academy is pretty full.

Kerr still has his voice – he hits all the vocals, dancing in that staccato manner that has become his trademark. Tonight’s set is for die-hard fans – Kerr is a man of few words – tonight it’s about the nostalgia, a time warp, the music – dry ice and beams of lights effects cloud the stage throughout the night.

‘Love Song’ gets everyone singing, Kerr enthusiastically gets them clapping and there a huge cheer after the song. “That’s wonderful – thank you.” The following track is ‘Pleasantly Disturbed’, somewhat different for Simple Minds – take a listen and see if you think it was the inspiration behind the Reznor/ Manson ‘Sweet Dreams’ and clearly inspired at the time by The Velvet Underground.  One more track ‘Room’ and we have a 10-minute ‘interlude’ while we all catch our breath and catch-up with a few people – heya Adam!

Then they’re back on and we’re into ‘The American’ – Kerr: “We’re having a ball thank you – for the past thirty five years we’ve had a ball.” A few more tracks then into “Promised You a Miracle” – the crowd go “oooooooooooooooooooooooo” at the appropriate time; a few ‘bad 80’s dancing’. Then we have “Someone Somewhere in Summertime” – a 12” inch extended version (in old money so to speak.) The crowd is thoroughly enjoying themselves, the loyal fans loving it.

Time for another break and back on at 9.30 to instrumental dance track “Theme for Great Cities.” Then a couple of tracks and we get the start of what became rise to the big heights – masses of dry ice, bright yellow beam lights and we’re into “Glittering Prize’ followed up by “New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)” a tubstomping rendition – the crowd all sing, Kerr slots into the vocals “In this room… I want to kiss you all….”, a drumming crescendo – one of the stand out tracks of the night.  The crowd bay for more – but it’s 9.55pm and curfew time – the house lights come on and all we walk out to Roxy Music’s ‘Let’s Stick Together…’

Simple Minds were huge in their hey day. Think like bands like Coldplay today – that’s the status that Simple Minds operated at. Maybe through the later decades they didn’t maintain quite that level – and the major hits were certainly mostly during the 80’s. But they’ve continued to play on, play live and record – tonight was a celebration of a long time ago – and gave the band opportunity to play tracks they must had mostly forgotten. This being the Academy, unfortunately the sound, once again, wasn’t brilliant – depending where you stood as to whether you got the full balanced sound, or where I was, an overriding blast of synth. But for true fans certainly an opportunity to see them close up and personal, performing songs they hadn’t done for years. And all certainly enjoyed it.

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Setlist:

  1. I Travel
  2. Thirty Frames in a Second
  3. Today I Died Again
  4. Celebrate
  5. This Fear of Gods
  6. Life in A Day
  7. Hunter and the Hunted
  8. Premonition
  9. Wasteland
  10. Love Song
  11. Pleasantly Disturbed
  12. Room

[Break]

  1. The American
  2. In Trance As A Mission
  3. 70 Cities as Love Brings the Fall
  4. Calling Your Name
  5. Changeling
  6. Factory
  7. Scar
  8. Promised You A Miracle
  9. Someone Somewhere in Summertime

[Encore]

  1. Theme for Great Cities
  2. Someone
  3. Chelsea Girl
  4. Glitter Prize
  5. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-83)

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Listening:

Life in a Day [1978]

Real to Real Cacophony [1979]

Empires and Dance [1980]

Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call [1981]

New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) [1982]

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Reviewed for Birmingham Live!

Kaiser Chiefs + Zulu Winter + This Many Boyfriends @ Wolverhampton Civic, 22 February 2013

Spring has disappeared, it’s gone all cold again and the weather is desperate to snow, but tonight we’ll be snuggy in the delectable Wolves Civic in the presence of the Kaiser Chiefs, almost exactly a year since they played in Birmingham and still touring to celebrate their greatest hits.

Early support tonight comes from This Many Boyfriends, a rag taggle bobtail group clearly inspired by early 80s indie – boppy with a smattering on Mary Chain and Wedding Present. Sound-wise a bit of a timewarp as it takes me back to student days. The venue starts to fill up – tonight’s gig is sold out!

And while we wait for second servings we get Slade and Stuffies and Plant’s ‘Big Log.’ Clearly intended to get the local crowd going.

“Good evening Wolverhampton – are you well, we’re very happy to be here tonight.” The polite introduction from Zulu Winter, the next support. Another indie band, with a new romantic vibe going on – pretty infective. Lead singer Will Daunt has a wide-ranging hi- pitched voice. Acknowledged quite widely on Radio 1’s indie shows Zulu Winter live are a tad like Mansun with atmospheric, rolling and rising storytelling tracks and Mick Karn inspired bass. In the right place and at the right time they have the potential to go far.

Formed way back in ‘96, The Kaiser Chiefs released their classic debut album ‘Employment’ in ‘05 featuring indie pop hits ‘I Predict a Riot’, ‘Every Day I Love You Less and Less’, ‘Oh My God’ and ‘Modern Way.’ Hugely successful, it was one of the best selling albums of ‘06, and was followed by ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’, which yielded No.1 hit ‘Ruby.’  The Kaiser consist of Ricky Wilson (vocals), Andrew ‘Whitey” White (guitar), Simon Rix (bass) and Nick ‘Peanut’ Baines (keyboards) and new drummer Vijay Mistry (of Club Smith who supported them last year) after Nick Hodgson recently moved on to pastures new.

So bang on 9.15pm, here they come, onto a blacked draped, white-spotlighted set. Just one of the many reasons Wolves Civic wins out with so many touring bands the height of the venue and luxury to get a decent set on stage.

“1. 2. 3. 4” and we’re into ‘Thank You Very Much.’ The crowd is pleased. Wilson: “Are you ready? I wanna see you all f****n enjoying yourselves!” and the band continue with ‘Kinda Girl You Are’, followed by ‘Everything Is Average Nowdays.’ The crowd responds on the “oooo” bits. Wilson is as always, hugely energetic, and leaps across the pit, over the plethora of photographers to stand on the barrier, held back by a roadie, who grabs the rear of his jeans.   Back on stage and the first trio of songs over Wilson apologises for the possible expletives during his chatting. “Isn’t it about time the photographers went? Go on – off you go! That’s it! I can take my clothes off now….” The photographers duly oblige.

Wilson has great stagecraft and the ability to ramp the audience up – it is the big hits that get the crowd going. ‘Every Time I Love You Less and Less’ – “I want to hear you scream your f****n hearts out!” And the crowd oblige too. “Let me see you hands” the lights beam on the audience as he insists the entire audience puts their hands in the air, even the ones sitting.

“In this room, in Wolverhampton, is when we found out we’d got to number 1 [in the charts] with ‘Ruby’ – we really ought to start writing more number 1s!” And so we get the only new track of the night ‘Living Underground’ – which doesn’t depart from the Kaiser’s formula, but is faster and punchier and rockier.

Now we’re into a rolling set of songs everyone will know… “Cos it’s cool, to know nothing” ‘Never Miss A Beat.’ Wilson is a-wandering, he’s climbed onto the balcony, sitting there chatting to the audience, ramping it up more and more… “When you turn it up a little, we turn it up a little…”

Back on stage the black backdrop falls to reveal a spray painted stick of rock that is the cover on their greatest hits album ‘Souvenir.’ Wilson’s back on stage, bounce, bounce, bounce go the crowd, as we all sing along to “Ruby, Ruby, Ruby.” He carries on singing the chorus and the crowd goes “ooooo.” Now we’re ‘Predicting Riots’, albeit one of the politest riots you’ll ever see!

And as we’re rioting, we’ll be an ‘Angry Mob’. We clap, clap, clap and chant en masse over and over “We are the angry mob, we read the papers every day, we like who we like, we hate who we hate. But we’re also easily swayed.” Cracking end to main set.

Quick break and we get Wilson and piano ‘Saying Goodbye’ followed by a brave cover of The Strangler’s ‘No More Heroes’, Wilson sounds similar to original Strangler singer Hugh Cornwell, this version is faster version and a tad chaotic – a good attempt.

Bit of musical dabbling and we’re into final song of the night  ‘Oh My God’ which rolls and rolls. “And even if you don’t have any strength left in your body – I know, Wolverhampton, you have it in you for another chorus or 15….” And the crowd start chanting… “Oh my god I can’t believe it, never been this far away from home….” The band rolls the track into dance remix before jamming it down! “Thanks we’ll see you next time!”

You can’t fault the energy and commitment that the Kaisers put into their sets. And they’re jolly friendly, jolly nice, down to earth chaps. The thing that the Kaiser’s did was to write effective ‘football’ chant songs that sold, that many peoples know and that are a huge win with the crowd at live shows. It really must be quite amazing to have written those songs with the lyrics that everyone knows and listen to the crowd sing them back to you. What a buzz. Regardless of future success, the Kaiser Chiefs already have a back catalogue most bands would be jealous of; I’ve seen nostalgia bands with fewer hits re-appearing after twenty years absence. Expect the Kaiser Chiefs to be rocking your town for many years to come. Go and see. You will have a blast!

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And now a quick mention about the Pilgrim Bandits. Not a band but a charity, which the Kaiser Chiefs are taking around the country on their entire tour. Formed in 2007 by a small group of Special Forces veterans, this group have the sole aim of using their unique experience to help and inspire wounded soldiers to live life to the full, through pushing boundaries, working with youth and funding research into areas such as prosthetic limbs.  Pilgrim Bandits raise monies, but don’t ask for charity, they ask for your support. Check them out and see what you can do to support them at: www.pilgrimbandits.org

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Setlist

Intro: Money for Nothing [Dire Straits]

1. Thankyou very much

2. Kinda Girl You Are

3. Everything is Average Nowdays

4. Little Shocks

5. Like It Too Much

6. Good Days Bad Days

7. Every Day I Love You Less and Less

8. Born to be a Dancer

9. Modern Way

10. Living Underground

11. Heat Lies Down

12. Loves Not A Competition (But I’m Winning)

13. Dead or Serious Trouble

14. Never Miss A Beat

15. Ruby

16. I Predict A Riot

17. Angry Mob

Encore:

18. Saying Goodbye

19. No More Heroes

20. Oh My God

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Listening:

Employment (2005)

Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007)

Off With Their Heads (2008)

The Future Is Medieval (2011)

Souvenir -The Singles 2004-2012 (2012)

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Review for Gig Junkies Pictures – Ken Harrison and Birmingham Live! Pictures – John Bentley.

Kerrang! Tour 2013 featuring Black Veil Brides + Chiodos + Tonight Alive + Fearless Vampire Killers @ 02 Academy Birmingham, 14 February 2013

So this Valentine’s night, we’ve given up a romantic meal for a night at the O2 Academy for a bit of up-and-coming rock, we’re at the Kerrang! Tour 2013. An eclectic mix of punk rock, in your face screaming and goth glam rock…

Kerrang! was once the place of denim, leather, spiral perms and Iron Maiden. Thirty odd years on, as the rock genre has spread and merged with other genres, the music that Kerrang! plays and promotes has followed suit.  So this 2013 tour is all about new talent and if it’s objective is about bringing the next generation into the world of rock n’ roll than it’s obviously worked. Because the crowd is made up of little people – max age of 15 if I’m being generous, kids with face-paint everywhere and the odd parent in tow.

Couldn’t make the 7pm start – so didn’t catch the band first up on the line-up. The Fearless Vampire Killers – great name for a band, though unfortunately I can’t tell you if they are fearless and how many vampires they may have killed during their set. But, if you fancy a listen, check them out on all their differing media platforms and on their website.

Next up Tonight Alive, with female vocalist Jenna McDougall. Think Paramore and Avril with sweary bits between songs. Commercial punk pop from down under (Australia) which goes down with lots of screaming adulation from the crowd.  “Thank you very much! Lets make some noise! We hear that Birmingham is the place to play this song on the radio – really good to be back.” And now to that song that’s getting the airplay – ‘Listening’ with incredibly loud opening drums.  If the future of rock is 15-year-olds jumping up and down giving the rock fingers than it is indeed very alive and well. As the crowd sing back – “Are you listening?” she goes into the pit to sing with the kiddies before standing on the barrier leaning over them all, slamming her fist into the air. Great rendition, followed by a big scream from the kids – Tonight Alive tonight live, go down well.

So, just before 8.45pm we have Chiodos. Formed in 2001, they undergone some substantial line-up changes and their original vocalist, Craig Owens (and one time frontman of D.R.U.G.S., who co-incidentally supported Black Veil Brides on their tour last year), has returned. We get a handful of tracks from the lads.  “We are Chiodos and we want to see everyone moving….” Chiodos are a post-hardcore metal band, hailing for Michigan, USA. Screamy like Slipknot, mixed with more traditional, pretty hard-core rock this is adult rock for the kids.

“Everybody get your hands in the air – I want to see everyone’s hands in the air – I want to see everyone go crazy in Birmingham!” Must be a tad weird playing to such a young audience, they appear to be slightly thrown by this. Owens is a charismatic frontman, the rest of the guys hugely energetic on stage, and while not many kids here have heard of them,Owens gives them no choice but to get involved. “You guys ready to have a good time tonight?”

“Happy Valentine’s day m******f*****s! This song is about dirty dirty sex!’ Interesting, if somewhat disturbing, given the average age of the audience. “How many of you hate Valentine’s day? Valentine’s day is all about f*****g anyway.” A few dragged along parents go grey… Owens spend time just standing there and the kids scream. Very loudly. Apparently he fits in with everyone here tonight – erm – okay.

“After the gig we’ll be walking round – cos we’re just a bunch of guys who give a shit about what we play…”. Owens does indeed appear within the crowd while we wait in the interval. The kids gather and he disappears to backstage equally as quickly.

As we wait for the headliners – the kids periodically chanting ‘Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides…’  a lad walks past in a onesy. Water is being handed out to the audience, as we continue to wait.

A good 45 minutes after Chiodos, bang on 10pm, the lights go out, the stage is draped in dry ice. It’s Black Veil Brides led on by ‘Exordium’; the opening spoken word interlude from their new album ‘The Wretched and the Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones.’ “The Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you. Not in a mansion of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and God is there. Lift a stone and you will find God. ” …. erm…okay.

Ridiculously loud ear-piecing screams from the kids accompany the first track, ‘I Am Bulletproof,’ and nearly drowns out the band.  BVB are heavily inspired by KISS – they are probably their bastard offspring; this clearly shows. Musicianship-wise they are very talented. Phones they be a’recording, as always at gigs these days and someone has their iPad mini in the air too.

BVB are Andy Biersack on vocal duties, Ashley Purdy on bass, Jack Pitts lead guitar, Jinxx on guitar and Christian “C.C.” Coma on drums. Biersack: “How are you crazy m******f*****s doing tonight? …. This is ‘The Church of the Wild Ones'” (aka the name of their tour. When it’s not the Kerrang! tour). Next up – ‘New Religion.’ Biersack: “This is a fun tour – one of my favourite gigs so far…” he says, clearly playing to the adoring crowd.

New album plug and we’re into ‘The Wretched and Divine.’ Clap clap clap go the audience as the band play around before going into the track. Bizarrely, as they have just released this concept album, all 19 tracks and 1 hour of rock opera story telling, they are not performing this in its entirety – tracks are intermittent between older songs. The sound on this track the sound is spot on. The band’s vocals are harmoniously in-sync and in perfect kilter to the album. Almost exactly the same.

Next up BVB’s rendition of Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’, the adoring fans are clearly well immersed in everything BVB. ‘Overture’ onto the stage comes F.E.A.R. (aka Wil Francis (of Aiden and William Control)). F.E.A.R. turns up quite a lot on the album, as intermittent spoken word Orwellian interludes.  The premise of ‘The Wretched and the Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones’ is the BVB and their fans, ‘The Wild Ones,’ overcoming these baddies (the F.E.A.R.) who seek to destroy free will and thought. (That’s it in a snapshot anyway). Biersack: “Black Veil Brides are just a bunch of guys who love playing music… You have all the power you ever need in your own heart. Do not worship false Gods.” Well Biersack – you are clearly being worshipped tonight.

‘Nobody’s Heroes’ and ‘Resurrect the Sun’ are too perfectly delivered – the anthems bellowing out to the young masses. “Last song of the night…” ‘Fallen Angels” gets the crowd singing: “We scream, we shout, we are the fallen angels”, before the encore of current single, the anthemic ‘In the End.’

As we leave the entrance to the O2 is surrounded by numerous, slightly bored parents collecting their kiddies (late night for a school night) and as I walk away one parent, walking fast encouraging his daughters to do so, and who was clearly at the gig, not outside, has “…had enough rock for tonight – we’ve a long motorway drive.”

So what of the Kerrang! 2013 Tour? While it may not have brought new to the table, it did bring rock to the new generation. Tonight Alive gave a great set, female lead Jenna McDougall was ballsy, gave it some and really got the crowd going, culminating in their current hit. Good set.

Chiodos I liked although you could say are work in progress. Owens is charismatic and the band good looking enough to gain adulation from this very young audience. They a band that are re-bonding, so clearly could do with time to build their act back together. They seemed a tad confused and clearly played such a young audience up. They’d do better playing to an older bunch and it’ll be interesting to see what they do with their impending album.

Black Veil Brides. For all their detailed creative construction of their new album, of their image of goth, glam and make-up, their technical prowess and all that goes BVB, I was disappointed. Against last year’s gig, when they returned from Biersack’s on stage accident where they delivered and then some and were out to prove a point, tonight’s gig was a promotional billboard – it could have been much more. From the make-up, the glam rock n roll persona for the ladies and smaltzy expletive ridden “are you having a f****** good time?” – BVB have taken the template that made the original bands multi-millionaires. However, amongst many rock fans they are loathed in equal measure for this lack of originality. Performance-wise, tonight, they were professional and the new generation of screaming hordes clearly adored them.

On this form they may sell their radio savvy tracks in bucket loads, they clearly continue to gather momentum – new single ‘In the End’ has nigh on 6 million You Tube views. But is this all to BVB? Will they burn brightly yet briefly? At some stage the make-up will have to go – and I guess only time will tell, as their adoring fans grow up.

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Listening:

Black Veil Brides: Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones  [2013]

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Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures by Katja Orgin