Monthly Archive: December 2013

Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party featuring Nik Kershaw @ 02 Academy Birmingham, 19 December 2013

It’s Christmmmmmassssss! (in a Noddy Holder like scream!) And tonight we’re invited to a party with an 80’s festive vibe, Kim Wilde’s Christmas Party to be precise with support from former snood wearer Nik Kershaw.

Ticket sales sadly aren’t the best tonight – if you are lucky there’s 500 people in the main Academy tonight. But that hasn’t stopped some punters wearing Christmas hats and reindeer antlers and hopefully that won’t stop the party either.

Starting off at 8pm we have Nik Kershaw. His star shone pretty brightly in the early 80’s – his first two albums selling well, singles spending in excess of an accumulative 60 weeks in the UK charts in 1984 and he got to appear at Live Aid at Wembley in ‘85. Commercial success may have waned since them but he’s continually recorded and regularly plays live.  And at 8pm he appears on stage, minus the snood these days! “Good evening… are you looking forward to Christmas? I’ve borrowed Kim’s band. If you know some of these join in – if you don’t don’t ‘cos that’ll be rubbish.”

First up a cracking rendition of ‘Wide Boy’ – before the drums start up and the tune comes in  and we’re into ‘The Riddle’. And we all sing along…

“Near a tree by a river there’s a hole in the ground, where the old man of Aran goes around and around, in his mind is a beacon, in the veil of the knight, for a strange kind of fashion, there’s a wrong and a right, but he’ll never, never fight over you…”

photoFor some bizarre reason I can quote these lyrics off pat. This may be a small crowd, but we don’t care; everyone cheers.  And then we’re into ‘The One and Only.’ Chesney eat your heart out (this be a Number 1 hit Kershaw wrote it for him). We sing along, Kershaw gets a great response. He needs to clear space in his garage (album plug here), so a track from his latest album ‘The Sky’s the Limit’ before we get ‘Wouldn’t It Be Good.’ We’re happy and we’re dancing and we’re singing. Kershaw still has great talent and vocals – he’s friendly and engaging, the party has started. And we clock that the bass player in Kim’s band is Nick Beggs formerly of KajaGooGoo.

We’re loving this little set; it may be Christmas but right here, right now it’s summer as we join in to ‘Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.’ We grin and sing and Kershaw gets us singing the line alone, conducting the audience. Short and immensely fun set to get us in the party mood.

Kim Wilde holds the record of being the most charted female solo artist of the 80’s with 17 top 40 hits. And they just love her in Germany and Switzerland. With 80s a huge nostalgia, she’s gained recent record contracts with major labels and this year issued another album – it being Christmas, smattered with festive tracks, it’s called ‘Wilde’s Winter Wonderland.’

With just a 15 minute internal, Santa blares out hohoho! And Wilde takes to the stage belting out first track ‘Trust a Stranger’.  She too gets a great response. Next up ‘View from a Bridge’. Again gets a good response; these are the hits and she’s belting them out one after one. Next up ‘Chequered Love’.

“Fantastic to be here…” as she’s tells us what’s going to happen in this evening’s entertainment. She’s well chatty, bantering with the audience and is clearly excited to be here.  As she goes for it on ‘Walking on Glass’. As do the band, who are truly professional and class. Begg’s too is giving it some on his bass, the band contain a family affair – brother Nicky, who has written her hits over the past thirty years is on guitar and niece Scarlett is on backing vocals.

She hasn’t done any Christmas shopping yet – it’s overrated. And so to cover version ‘If I Can’t Have You.’ She’s good at getting the audience participating and we’re all clearly having a good time, people are boogying, dancing away. She says she’s got a lot to smile about these days, she’s so happy to be here after all these years. And then to a classic: ‘Cambodia’. Which we clap, clap, clap. Big cheers, before she sings the last line with Scarlett as the track rolls on. This is 80’s. So we get 12″ remix.

The band have “buggered off” leaving Wilde with the two family members. Someone shouts, “I love you!” “Are you an English person?” she asks? He’s Welsh. “I love you too…” She refers to her brother “…being a really good person to her drunk with on the tube…” (Check out the link on YouTube as her and her brother serenaded commuters…. this entertaining video has had over 2 million views). First track of this segment is ‘Four Lettered Word.’  Wilde is chatty, yakking away with the punters; apparently she’s getting forgetful in her old age – she doesn’t know why? She wants it to snow, so she can make a snowman. Queue song: ‘Hey Mr. Snowman.’ A few tracks off her new album, ‘New Life’ has a ditty that rolls and rolls and is overlaid with vocals; with rising tunes the new tracks roll around the venue. “This is the last of the Christmassy song for a while…I recorded it with daddy…” who is 60’s legend Marty Wilde, and who also is still performing today, after 50 years in the business. He’s not here tonight but the other family members take on his duties. With a Japanese feel it’s ‘White Winter Hymnai’. Apparently we will be returning to Christmas later “in a very different way.”

She declares she’s an 80’s girl and she loves singing 80’s song. And so her take on Erasure’s ‘A Little Respect.’ The band belt it out. Wilde and her band are very professional “… Thank you for coming out… thanks from an old girl… This one is for you.” She does yak, as they say she has the gift of the gab. And here is ‘You Came.’  And the set starts to crank to up again to ‘Keep Me Hanging On.’

Quick break and back on akin with bunny ears and white fluffy coat, as this is Christmas! Kershaw is back too (on guitar not singing); he really is a tiny person. Wilde acknowledges local legends and goes for a Holder in her own unique style. Scream everybody: ‘It’s Christmasssssssssss….’ And now for a bit of Wizard ‘I Wish it could be Christmas Everyday.’ It’s literally snowing in the Academy. We’re all feeling festive; Wilde places festive reindeer antlers on Kershaw’s head. This is her drunken tube song and the one she sang it with the late great Mel Smith for Comic Relief; ‘Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.’ Kershaw stands in for Smith in this one, except he’s singing. The entire band have reindeer antlers on.  And we get Santas rocking out on the screens behind.

“Thank you. Goodnight. Adieu.”

And for one final encore which starts up with electronic beat. Crowd clap. The not so Christmassy ‘Kids in America’.  “Thanks so much – have a safe journey home and have a Happy Christmas!”

Well this was billed as a festive party. Nik Kershaw started us off by putting us in the mood and we grinned and danced and sung. Wilde and her band gave us a party – make us smile, feel festive and have a good time. This was a ‘smiley’ gig. Happy Christmas to one and all indeed.

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Nik Kershaw Setlist:

Wide Boy
The Riddle
The One and Only
The Sky’s the Limit
Wouldn’t it be Good
I Won’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me

Kim Wilde Setlist:
Trust a Stranger
View from a Bridge
Chequered Love
Water on Glass
The Second Time
If I Can’t Have You
Stone
Love in the Natural Way
Cambodia

Acoustic set:
Four Letter Word
Love Blonde
Wonderful Life
Hey Mr Snowman
New Life
Hope
White Winter Hymnai

A Little Respect (Erasure Cover)
You Came
You Keep Me Hangin’ On

Christmas Encore:
Merry Christmas Everybody (Slade Cover)
I Wish it Could be Christmas Everyday (Wizard Cover)
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (with Nik Kershaw)

Encore II:
Kids in America

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Revelations featuring The Mission + Field of the Nephilim @ 02 Academy, Birmingham 17 December 2013.

And all we want for Christmas? Well we’ll take a bit of nostalgic Gothness as Revelations rolls into town. Featuring the Fields of the Nephilim and The Mission, this gig was ‘announced’ well over a year ago. In September 2012 The Mish supported The Cult (initially with the intention of Killing Joke in tow) at this very venue (downgraded from the LG Arena) in one of their first full band reformations in a few years. In the middle of the gig Hussey announced he was talking to his mate Carl McCoy (who surprisingly few in the audience recognised) about a December gig. Well it wasn’t December 2012 – 2013 it was and here we be…

So we’re here early and so are a good few of the punters, at 7.40 there’s probably a good 1,000 here as the Nephilm are due to take the stage at 7.30 (okay so they are a tad later than billed). The Fields of The Nephilim formed in Stevenage in ’84, gaining cult success. With mythical and magical themes and Aleister Crowley influences they pulled in fans of Goth but the music scene of the time was split, the subcultures of different genres fussy in who they would follow. FOTN gained a loyal following but not necessarily those who followed The Sisters, The Mish and Bauhaus before.  I caught them early on, in a darkened tiny room that was the original legendary JBs in Dudley. By ’91 lead singer McCoy walked – he formed the Nefilim, whilst the other band members continued under the name of Rubicon. Over the years there’s been differing line-ups, sporadic appearances as The Nephilim and once again as the Fields of the Nephilim, the occasional album and emerging in 2008 to play live gigs. This is FOTN first outing in a few years – there must be a full moon, set in the right time, with the right spiritual aligning…

We’re expecting a darkened stage, full of dry ice, FOTN in the shadows, McCoy singing in his deep dark growl. And so the dry ice starts to slowly waft across the stage and over the audience, expectations are coming true. Minutes now, I suspect we wait.

McCoy still has the hat, the hair and the voice. Oh and the shades. And he still looks like he’s walked out of a dustbowl. This is 80s goth in full flow; think Sisters with a truly darkened rolling vibe…. FOTN still remain far more powerful than the insipid inspired Goth groups that followed. Is there a space in modern rock for these guys? Hell yes. And then some. Far more stage, presence and image and atmosphere than many of such indie ilk, but don’t expect conversation. McCoy is not chatty; this is performance, possibly spiritual experience for him, who knows, as he morphs into character.

FOTN are hyper serious. It’s image. It’s pure heavy rock goth. The bass beat. The band is tight; the full experience that is FOTN permeates the Academy. They are loud and are getting a great, well deserved response from the crowd. Occasionally we get men in the crowd standing on the shoulders of others – quite precariously as it happens. Arms out wide – but not moving. Epically dark. McCoy just stands between songs, head bowed, back to the audience. This is indeed the church of the Nephilm.

He speaks. “Thank you.”

An hour’s set and a break. Revelations is clearly, in reality, a double headliner.  Ethereal musical interlude as we wait for their return, then silence and they’re back. Big cheers for the band and especially for McCoy. ‘Moonchild’. I have been transported in time. Set completed with ‘Last Exit for the Lost’; arms in the air, fans mesmerized.

Four more words: “Thank you very much.”

After an hour and 10 they leave the stage.  An epic performance indeed.

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And the crowd swaps. FOTN fans move to back; some leave. Oh, the subculture of genres still exists.

The Mission morphed out of the Sisters of Mercy, becoming the Sisterhood (which Eldritch then claimed) and then re-incarnating themselves as The Mission. Single ‘Serpent’s Kiss’, off ‘Last Chapter,’ soared high on the indie charts and album ‘God’s Own Medicine’ went gold.  ‘93 was their last chart success with ‘Tower of Strength’, as lineups continually changed; the band struggled on and eventually split in ’96, before a variety of incarnations and recordings over the years. Appearing last year with The Cult, this year they’ve been in the studio and recorded album ‘The Brightest Light.’

And so we wait. And wait. It’s after 9.30 – the lights go down to what appears to be a classical ‘Dam Busters’ theme, which morphs into a dirge. Finally they appear on the darkened stage. A cheer, as in the darkness, Hussey is spotted.

A drumbeat starts up; first song a newbie and The Mish clearly need warming up. In their defence the sound in this venue has notoriety for being poor. This version of Hussey is the lesser grey haired, black-sunshaded variety that looks like he’s just walked out his house – akin in jeans and shirt – no black or floppy be-scarfed hat in sight. The audience appears initially confused, and then they wake up and chuck beer as we get ‘Beyond The Pale’. Sound remains poor, but the faithful have their hands in the air and up goes the paper confetti.

Hussey: “Cheers – how the f*** are you?” Then a dig at the support for being “…a Goth Christmas road show…” He’s telling hecklers to f*** off, threatening them with his friends. He says he was in a really good mood. Clearly he isn’t now – Hussey appears to be having a hissy and as he garbles, he admits he doesn’t know what he’s saying. Methinks he’s already partaken in too much falling down water. Next track “…breathe deep, then deeper still…” – ‘Naked and Savage.’

Another new track from their new album; “Have you got it?” the crowd respond positively – though Hussey doesn’t believe them – they haven’t sold many. He says he’d too download it for free if he could. The new stuff live doesn’t have the same power or carry as the older.  Tonight, in Brum, his niece is here. Her name is Sophie and it’s her fourth Mission gig. And it’s her birthday. So we sing the song. The Mish play another newbie ‘Belief.’

‘Severina’, as people stand on the shoulders of men, is somehow lacklustre. ‘Butterfly on a Wheel’ is a tad better. ‘Sacrilege’ has the potential to deliver – there are indeed highlights within the song – the potential of what should be from The Mission – but it’s not quite there. Arms in the air to another classic, the epic ‘Wasteland’ albeit delivered manically fast. But the faithful don’t care.

Last song is another newbie. ‘Swan Song.’ Lots of people are leaving… some have departed already as the Academy crowd starts to thin out – the completed set gets a lukewarm response and we wait quietly and expectantly… Will they return?

As the bass player returns he sarcastically says “… and the crowd went wild…” Uh-oh. A complication with iPad and mike stand (?) and we’re trying to shake, shake, shake to the ‘Crystal Ocean.’ Hussey sounds more pissed. ‘Like a Hurricane’ we sing along and indeed men and girls are on shoulders again. It’s now 11pm. Curfew time. The bar closes shutters down. ‘Blood Blothers’ is delivered at breakneck speed. Then another ‘Deliverance’ rambles, but the faithful sing back. Hussey is wandering, around the stage, in the pit; offering his near empty bottle of red wine to the front of the audience. The bass player is somehow precariously lying on the amp at the side of the stage attempting to play. The song completed with Hussey singing the final line with just the drummer. And they’re off. People are still leaving. There’s no rapturous applause – a response yes – but some confusion. Will they return one again – they’re well after the venue curfew? But they do. The bass player returns to tell the audience he’s totally twatted. We’ve noticed.

The finale, once again, has glimpses of what The Mish can deliver – ‘Tower of Strength’ gets hands in the air and a potential people pyramid. Hussey goes a-wandering again – he’s in the pit, lauding the attention. As the track comes to a close, bizarrely Hussey starts singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ before telling a heckler to “shut the f*** up!” and meandering off stage. The bass player, so blasted, has once again managed to lie on the amp, in a vague attempt to play horizontally. He’s too obliterated to get down; he’s carried off over a roadie’s shoulder, to which the crowd cheers.

Tonight was a weird one in loads of ways. What a mixture. FOTN were surprisingly relevant. The stars and mystical forces were clearly aligned. Atmospheric, though not overblown, tight and powerful. They delivered and then some. They may not have the commercial back catalogue that The Mish have but they delivered on every other level. Well worth catching for the experience if you can and should McCoy choose, their time may well be here, now that genres are intermixed, playing festivals outside of their genre is a huge option. Lesser known bands have done more.

And so to The Mish. I’ve seen these guys’ lots of time, from The Powerhouse as ‘Serpent’s Kiss’ broke, to a vague memory of their dizzy heights at the NEC. And I’ve seen them when they’ve been pissed up before. They’ve a powerful back catalogue, songs like ‘Tower of Strength’ stand out when played on Kerrang! radio. With an announcement of this gig over a year ago, tour dates released months ago, a new album in tow, this could have been so much more. The rare performance of FOTN didn’t just blow The Mish of stage – they totally annihilated them. Rock n’ roll pissed up performances may have a coolness to them but only if you deliver.  This Mish set was definitely one for the faithful. What a shame.

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Setlist

Fields of the Nephilim
(Dead but Dreaming)
Chord of Souls
For Her Light
At the Gates of Silent Memory
Love Under Will
The Watchman
New Gold Dawn
Psychonaut
Mourning Sun

Encore:
Moonchild
Last Exit for the Lost

 

The Mission
Black Cat Bone
Beyond the Pale
Hands Across the Ocean
Naked and Savage
The Girl in a Furskin Rug
Belief
Severina
Butterfly on a Wheel
Everything but the Squeal
The Crystal Ocean
Wasteland
Swan Song

Encore 1:
Crystal Ocean
Like a Hurricane
Blood Brothers
Deliverance

Encore 2:
Tower of Strength

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Review for Gig Junkies. Pictures Ken Harrison