Monthly Archive: April 2014

Manic Street Preachers + Wolf Alice @ Wolverhampton Civic, UK – 6 April 2014

Tonight we’re back in Wolverhampton to see a band who took on the world, and then refused to go away. From the Gig Junkies team on our musical journey of the UK,  we bring you the boys from the Welsh valleys; formed nearly 30 years ago, in Blackwood, Wales, these guys are here to show us their best – that this is their truth – and they’ll be preaching Manic Street Preachers style.

Manic Street Preachers, like I need to say, are James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore. Formed in ’86 – they started out full of punk and indie angst – with a mentality of short-term take on the world, with critical intellectual social lyrics and a view of we’re not going to be doing this beyond 30. Well life takes a curious course, if at times truly difficult course. The Manics rose out of indieness for their  ‘Everything Must Go’ ’96 album, using lyrics from recently disappeared Richie Edwards. Through their career had 11 top ten albums, 15 top ten singles and have been back recording recently, with so much stuff to say they’re issuing it in two parts. ‘Rewind the Film’ came out in 2013 to critical acclaim, ‘Futurology’ is due to be released shortly. Tonight’s gig we’re promised songs from ‘Rewind…’ , a selection of their old back catalogue and a preview of the future.

Tonight’s gig is sold out. 3,000 punters will be here tonight, and as the Hall fills, we expectantly wait as support Wolf Alice, take to the stage. Wolf Alice are a four-piece hailing from North London consisting of  Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis. Releasing a self titled EP and single ‘Leaving You’ they gained air play from BBC Radio 1 and plaudits from NME. In October they issued new EP ‘Blush’ and official single ‘She’, and in may they will release next EP ‘Creature Songs.’ With female lead Rowsell, they are indie at times, or full of angst, whilst others more heavy. Think Hole meets Cocteau Twins meets Naked and Famous. They get a good response from the crowd.

ManicsSo at 9.10, on the huge screen that fills the backdrop behind the set – a video of a soldier girl walking through hills and street – and words…‘Future is our only objective.’ We watch and wait – the expectant crowd clapping as the Manics take to the stage.

First up ‘La Tristessa’ as we sing and join in – Wire in shades and black suit – Bradfield singing in grey suit. Big cheer from the crowd as they enjoyed listening, followed by another which we all sing loudly, every single word: ‘You Stole the Sun from My Heart.’ “I love you all the same….” we sing.

So let’s make it a trio – as they deliver ‘Mototorcycle Emptiness.’ The Manics are cranking out the hits: the crowd sing ever louder as we watch the screen of old footage, video footage of the band from the time – including Richie. He’s still here in spirit.

“Hello there,” welcome Bradfield, “Thanks for coming out on a Sunday and making it feel like a Saturday – great to be back in such a rock and roll mega city…” as they roll into recent single ‘(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love’. We clap along.

And so to the preview of the future – from the forthcoming album “raging against the dying of rights and all that bollocks…” this track features German singer – who isn’t here tonight. As it’s in German and Bradfield tells us his German skills are bollocks  we should expect to hear her voice through the speakers and imagine that she was here. This is not the first time a guest vocalist who is on a track is not here – Bradfield tells us we’ll have to put up with him instead. But as usual he delivers a great performance regardless. And so to this German Track ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’ – English translation adorn the screen over her German words.

‘Everything Must Go’ we’re in full voice agin – the packed crowd enjoying themselves. The screen shows 3D squares and houses and building and corridors.

“Give yourselves a break – and your heads a rest” as we’re into title track of their previous album ‘Rewind the Film’. As stated above Richard Hawley isn’t here – so Bradfield is on vocal duties, as we watch a film of a man opening a social club, the locals laying bingo and then closing up. The Manics still remain in reflective social observational mood.

Bradfield asks us if they played here on ‘The Holy Bible’ tour – “harding f***ing core” and dedicates the next track to the “… superb f***ing intellect of Richie Edwards” as they take us into ‘Die in Summertime’.  Bit of a f*** up as Bradfield gets the setlist order wrong – apparently by this time in a tour he’s usually done this five times by now – but this is the first. “Must be the suit..” quips Wire. And we’re back on track with the correct track ‘Your Love Alone is Not Enough.’ And so the track Bradfield announced previously – written in a big Chateaux in France – ‘Enola Alone.’

As the set turns red, we immediately recognise the next track – ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ – and we sing as the track rolls and rolls.

The band desert Bradfield he’s left alone, mid stage with acoustic guitar. He’s not taking requests. ‘This is Yesterday’ morphs into ‘From Despair to Where’ – we join his singing – before he delivers us ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ (which should actually feature Lucy Rose, who incredibly recorded it in just two takes, but as previously said is not here tonight). Bradfield vocals are the usual reliable sublime yet powerful.

Band back on and we’re delivered ‘Masses Against The Classes’ – before the Manics go back to their angry against the world youth with ‘You Love Us.’ ‘Tsumani’ washes over us, before ’30 year War’, ‘Motown Junk’ completed by ‘Design For Life.’

The Manics have had one hell of a journey since they started out in the mid 80’s as angry young Welshmen preaching of culture, alienation, boredom and despair. Edwards may be long gone – but he’s certainly not forgotten – he remains the core, the floating spirit of the band. So from anarchy to commerciality – they went on to have great success, critically acclaimed, but have never lost the need to say something. To use intellect in their lyric not mundanity. The Manics ‘live’ have never disappointed, solid, professional – a reliable performance to enjoy – from old to new and then the future.

There was no need to tolerate tonight’s gig – the Manics gave us an insight into who they are and what they stand for in their own unique way. Looks like the future is ‘Futurology’ indeed.

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Setlist:
La Tristessa
You Stole the Sun from My Heart
Motorcycle Emptiness
(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love
Europa Geht Durch Mich
Stay Beautiful
Everything Must Go
Rewind the Film
Die in Summertime
Your Love Alone is Not Enough
Enola Alone
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
This is Yesterday
From Despair to Where
This Sullen Welsh Heart
Archives of Pain
Futurology
The Masses Against the Classes
You Love Us
Tsumani
30-Year War
Motown Junk
A Design for Life

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

elbow + Jimi Goodwin @ LG Arena, Birmingham, UK – 5 April 2014

Second gig of the weekend and to music from England: we’re off to the LG Arena to a band with their own truly unique style. From kids that may be seldom seen – maybe they’ll be off building rockets – who knows? Just think of how you handle everything, take off and land – raise your beer glasses and chill-out to the beautiful and unique tones of elbow.

elbow_kenharrisonThe guys in elbow were together long before they formed elbow in ’97. Guy Garvey, Mark Potter, Craig Potter, Richard Jupp, Pete Turner have done things their own way – commercial success has followed them: all 6 of their studio albums have made the top 40, ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ winning the Mercury Music Prize. 2011’s ‘Build a Rocket Boys!’ made 2 in the album charts, in 2012 we couldn’t get away from them – ‘One Day Like This’ was the BBC theme for the  London 2012 Olympics and their newbie ‘The Take Off and Handling of Everything’ has made Number 1. New single ‘New York Morning’ is out now.

Influences permeate their music, early Genesis, and the stuff we all grew up with and were inspired by – the legendary (if undervalued in their heyday) Talk Talk and prog-rock alternates Radiohead. elbow’s music permeates our lives – I suggest there’s not a day goes by when a soundtrack to a TV program doesn’t contact an interlude of elbow.

To mark their return with a new album – why not do a release in the way that you love to? The pre-release of the album was available to hear across the UK in a brewery chain of pubs. Sit down. Listen and drink a pint of Marston’s Charge (named after a track on the new album) – a golden pale ale that elbow created – in Garvey’s words - “a perfect accompaniment to the album.”

This Birmingham gig is the first date of their 7 date UK tour, before a trip to the States and returning for Festival season – which includes T in the Park and V’and the recently announced Glastonbury.

Sooo – supports tonight comes from Doves member (Doves on hiatus, they haven’t split, they’re just doing their own things) and Garvey friend, Jimi Goodwin – who’s taking his own personal journey by going solo.  He’s just released his solo album ‘Odludek’ – a deeply personal effort. The title means loner or pilgrim in Polish and is where he’s at at the moment. Goodwin can’t wait: “I feel like I’ve been in hibernation, and now I’m emerging out in to the sunlight again, and it feels great.” As he takes to the stage – one or two of tonight’s punters shout “Com’on Jimi…” “How are we Birmingham?” – he explains he’s nervous and will be waffling. Goodwin’s new stuff is indie rising sounds, with a positive vibe that roll on and on. ‘Live Like A River’ pumps along full of indieness. The increasing crowd are enjoying his set. “Are you all well? Are you psyched up for elbow? It’s going to be magical…it’s gonna be beautiful…” as he leads us into ‘Whiskey’ an uplifting track, featuring acoustic guitars and harmonicas.  ‘The Panic Room’ was written with buddy Garvey – Goodwin’s set goes down well. Check his album out – well worth a listen.

So after an interlude we wait – The Cure and PJ Harvey (with her little fishes swimming in the river) plays out, and dry ice permeates the stage as the LG Arena fills to capacity.

Lights go down and here they come. Garvey waves to the audience – the set includes a ramp that goes into the middle of the crowd – dropping to floor level and then stepping up to a platform. Garvey is there waving to the crowd as the synth chug starts up with “I am electric. With a bottle in me….” beautifully delivered … “Hey!” - it’s new track “Charge.’ elbow are here tonight with a simple stage set; the band set up as if they were in a rehearsal studio, just like they’re just jamming, huddled closely with strings and brass musicians in support. And hey, they’ve kinda invited 15,000 friends along.

“Good evening Birmingham – looking beautiful… let’s see your hands everyone..” Garvey is engaging – just a ‘normal’ everyday bloke. We clap, clap, clap: from ‘Seldom Seen Kid’ – it’s the beautifully delivered ‘The Bones of You.’

“Some real talent on that side of the stage…” Garvey indicates to the ladies of the strings and brass section… “This is a new song about international air travel, my love of smoking, drinking and the back of women’s necks…..” as you do: ‘Fly Boy Blue.’

There are no superfluous additions to elbow – they’ve just playing, beautifully. Floating HD screens as a backdrop – video cameras showing the band as they play – and you are mesmerized by the men dressed in black. The arena roof has a line of circular lights – we wonder if they are usually there?  Inspired by being powerless to help someone after heartbreak, new track ‘Real Life (Angel)’ is once again beautifully delivered, floating round the stadia before Garvey is in the middle again – with the haunting and sublime and delectably beautiful ‘The Night Will Always Win’ – hairs prickle on 15,000 peoples’ arms.

“It was good wasn’t it?” as Garvey acknowledges the crowds reaction. He’s gossiping with the audience – like we’re a bunch of mates he’s chatting with in the pub. And to a tale about moisturizer (!)  There’s no airs or graces. elbow just are. As we’re taken on their journey into new single ‘New York Morning.’

“Cheers.” as we sway our arms from side to side; as atmosphere takes over the entire arena and a beautiful rising rendition of ‘The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver.’ Garvey is chatting again – he’d be a great comedian in his own right. elbow have been having children. Well a couple of them have, and even though it’s the first night of the tour – they’re already being missed – we’re invited to say hi to Ted Turner and Nancy Potter – the crowd shout out the names – Garvey suggests they should be turned into ringtones on their father’s phones….

So in the centre on the ramp, there’s a piano and Turner, Potter and Garvey are playing a song about a secret wedding – where even the bride didn’t know it had taken place ‘Great Expectations’; followed by ‘The Blanket of Night’ – another beautiful track.

“Everyone okay? I feel like we’re on a first date Birmingham?” Garvey enquires as to whether there is indeed, anyone here on a first date…”Ey – good one. Take her to an elbow gig – they’re soft bastards…”

And as the guitar gently chimes in unison with keyboards – a huge mirrorball drops from the top of the main set, to accompany the track of the same name – Garvey encourages us all to raise our arms and wiggle our fingers at the bouncing light. Arms are swaying from side to side. “Look at you, you beautiful creatures.” “Yeah I know”, he encourages us to respond. “And who said not so bad yourself?”

And  now – as we clap – elbow finally rock out, elbow style – with the immense ‘The Birds’;  the guitar crunch heavier live than on the album – it powers round the stadia – all 8 minutes plus of it. Awesome. And then another, jangly guitar, and then quietly  “Mondays is for drinking to the seldom seen kid…” before we get the power grind and “I’ve been working on a cocktail called “Grounds For Divorce”, whoa…” as we “whoa” - we’re rocking and dancing – Garvey takes to drums to power the track out. Our jaws are on the floor.

“Last song….” Huge boo from the crowd. “Very last song… the very last….” as Garvey starts to quip: “….we’re thinking of f***in’ off the tour… this is the last song we’re ever gonna  play…” (Consults with band). “Nah… it’s definitely our last song…” He considers us all old friends – encouraging those first-daters to have a snog. “Bloody ‘ell it works!” as we wave our arms from side to side once again – and back to beautiful and sublime elbow with ‘My Sad Captains.’

And so to the break for encore (we hope) – crowd are going crazy – desperate for the band to return – the cameras are turned on the audience – people make daft faces and are broadcast for all to see.

Well of curse they didn’t mean it – they’re back  – our arms are once swaying from side to side “…like long grass in a Hawaiian breeze…” as we’re presented with the beautiful ‘Starlings.’

“Birmingham – is this love?” Big cheer. “Thanks everyone – talk about backing a house that’s good for glue – did anyone else win?” – in reference to the Grand National. Elbow’s manager did – but everyone refused to pay him!  Next track and acknowledgement to support Jimi Goodwin – and a dedication to him – cos the next track is kinda about him ‘Lippy Kids.’ Garvey whistles and 15,000 people whistle back. “…build a rocket boys….” in unison we sing. Really quite beautiful.

“Cheers Birmingham – what an extraordinary evening…” (all 15,000 of us are in agreement0. “You are absolutely f***ing lovely Birmingham – you joyous bunch….” “One last order of business…..Glasgow are pretty good at this…” (to which we all boo – after encouragement to get competitive.) “We are elbow from Manchester – goodnight…”

Music affects us in so many ways. And the music we love takes us to a point where we remember, where we feel, smell, touch a memory.And as the violins start up – the hair on our skins reacts – and stands on edge, emotional ties are made – civic pride appears from nowhere – us usually cynical bunch are as one…. “One Day Like This…” and we sing and we smile – it’s delivered with immaculate power. And those lights that live the arena – suddenly drop in unison – they’re inflatable lighted balls – they bounce round the crowd. And we end this song we’re singing louder and louder… “Throw those curtains wide One day like this a year would see me right ……Throw those curtains wide One day like this a year would see me right…..” and even when it ends and the band sign off and we’re cheering – Garvey encourages us to sing the chorus again as they leave stage. And all 15,000 of us do.

I see lots of bands. I see good bands. I see great bands. And very rarely, you see something beyond, even better – head and shoulder above great. These self effacing bunch of guys you would merrily hang out and take a beer with in your local pub, tonight,  were up there with the legends. Beautiful and sublime – funny – yet all encompassing.  One of those gigs you will remember for years. I’m going leave you singing…over and over agin.. with a big broad grin on your face, and that pride of being part of something bigger:

“Throw those curtains wide

One day like this a year would see me right……

Throw those curtains wide

One day like this a year would see me right….”

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Setlist:
Intro: Slow Moving Water
Charge
The Bones of You
Fly Boy Blue
Real Life (Angel)
The Night Will Always Win
New York Morning
The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver
Great Expectations
The Blanket of Night
Mirrorball
The Birds
Grounds for Divorce
My Sad Captains

Encore:
Starlings
Lippy Kids
One Day Like This

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Listening:
The Seldom Seen Kid [2010]
Build a Rocket Boys! [2011]
Take Off and Landing of Everything [2014]

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.

Therapy? + Lonely the Brave @ Wulfrun, Wolverhampton Civic, UK – Friday 4th April 2014

Here at Gig Junkies we’re busy, busy, busy and this weekend is the first of three over three days for this little team – as we cover bands from across the UK. First gig of the weekend comes from the Emerald Isles courtesy of a Northern Irish alternative metal band, who according to their website have been ‘helping the afflicted since 1990.’ They are here to bring us their most successful and very possibly legendary album, celebrating it’s twentieth anniversary release – ‘Troublegum’ – we, the afflicted are here for a bit of Therapy?

Therapy? hail from Larne in Northern Ireland. Formed in ’89, line-up consists of guitarist and lead singer Andy Cairns, bass player Michael ‘Evil Priest’ McKeegan and thundergod Neil Cooper. While Therapy? may no longer touch the commercial world of the charts these days – they’ve continued to record and tour on a regular basis and throughout their career have sold over 2 million albums. Inspired by metal stalwarts Metallica – it was ’93’s ‘Shortsharpshock’ EP which brought Therapy? to our attention. The following year came ‘Troublegum’. Award winning, it’s 20 and to celebrate comes this UK mini tour along with the prerequisite reissues.  As for the ? In their name. A design quirk – a space filler when Cairns was Letrasetting (back in the days when artwork was done by hand) the band’s first record sleeve.

So for tonight’s gig we’re promised the album in full with additional smatterings of ‘B’ Sides and songs from their early EPs: ‘Shortsharpshock’, ‘Face the Strange’ and ‘Opal Mantra’.

Support tonight comes from Lonely The Brave. Hailing from Cambridge, they are “…four men trying to be someone…” These four men being Gavin Edgeley (drums), Mark Trotter (guitar), Andrew Bushen (bass) and David Jakes (who sings). Rock Sound believe they could be the biggest band on the planet, the NME say their name will be up in lights, whether they like it or not. Kerrang! think they’re phenomenal. No pressure then. The tour PR have told us to take a look they’re so good. So here we are early and waiting with eager anticipation. LTB are polite, but musically are metal with rising, rhythmic melodies – there is indeed something fresh about them – something different. Energetic, powerful, indie metal, singer Jakes has an uncomfortable edge about him, singing sideways from the audience – hands clasped in front of him. For the audience who knew little to start of with buy the end of their set – they get a good response – there is definitely something addictive here – and worth checking out their album and seeing them live if you get the opportunity. These new upstarts have a new album ‘The Days War’ due out on 2nd June 2014 and are supporting Therapy? throughout this mini-tour.

Tonight’s Wulfrun Hall is getting pretty full, a lot of metal-heads are here – T-shirts a-blazed with Judas Priest, Van Halen, Machine Head, NIN. The set is well lit – with a simple vinyl backdrop of the Therapy? logo – large and obvious and in your face. Big cheer as the lights go down, as a voice gives a long introduction…. “…this is Therapy?”

To violins as the guys take up their instrument, and we’re off – loud and bangy – metal in full flow – it’s ‘Knives’ which receives a huge cheer. Then get frenetic, run like a million miles an hour – shout: “I’ve got nothing to do but get screwed up on you…” – ‘Screamager’.

“Hello Wolverhampton”. This Northern Irish Men in Black make a HELL OF A LOT OF NOISE sound for just three of them. And they are clearing enjoying it – McKeegan spins in circles – as he delivers ‘Hellbelly.’ – “F***ing brilliant Wolverhampton – lovely to be back – we do appreciate it….” he tells the equally appreciative crowd. “Let’s make some f***ing noise tonight…” as the punters are encouraged to clap – ‘Stop It You’re Killing Me’ before the with the Pistol’s ‘Pretty Vacant’ inspired intro – we’re into ‘Nowhere.’

A brief interlude to catch our breath, Cairns acknowledges Kurt Cobain (who killed himself 20 years ago today), legendary Thin Lizzie vocalist Phil Lynott, and the maverick statesman and MP Tony Benn – as we ‘Die Laughing’:  “I think I’m going insane, I can’t remember my own name…” and as the song completes the crowd chant back – “Can’t remember…..can’t remember…. can’t remember…”

An intro to the ‘Evil Priest’ (aka McKeegan) as we cross our arms in the air to acknowledge THE ONE, as we continue our journey through the album with ‘Unbeliever’. Cairns asks if anyone was here in 1994 when the album was released. A few cheers go up and we’re frenetic once again: “Trigger Inside” which indeed is “… one in the eye for the beautiful people….”

For the next one we only need to sing one word – “Christ!” – which indeed we do – (and probably the rest of the lyrics) but we’re happy to should this one in particular, with venom and spleen – ‘Lunancy Booth’ – probably the best delivered track of the night.

‘Isolation’ we bounce: this is a great nostalgia trip for metal heads. It’s heavy and frenetic – and makes you remember what a class album ‘Troublegum’ was. ‘Turn’ delivers, ‘Femtex’ gets a intro to outlaw domestic violence: “Time to f***ing stop it..” with a derogatory comment about the Police. This is thrash Metallica inspired – almost ‘One’-like. This part of the set is completed with ‘Unrequited’ and ‘Chainsaw’ – what an album.

Quick break – the next part of the set gives us E.P.s and B-Sides – of ‘Evil Elvis’, ‘Misery’, ‘Opal Mantra’ and Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law….’

So what have we learnt from tonight’s metal gig. Lonely The Brave live up to the plaudits – and will be interesting to watch out for. Whether the Metal Gods with shine their little ray of light and give them the break, or whether they will do it the hard way – gig after gig after gig after gig (see Twin Atlantic for this recent journey) – only time will tell. Listen out in June – check out their album.

As for Therapy? When ‘Troublegum’ was released indie music had tuned cool (or uncool) depending on your point of view and given us Britpop, Seattle music kicked back against the mainstream and went cool (or uncool) and few bands toured as there was no money in it. There also was few decent sized venues in the Midlands  – around this time only the Civic was around.  As grunge grew then faded, and Cobain sadly demised  Therapy? issued ‘Troublegum.’ Angry, manic, 3 minute pop-twisted, metal inflicted classic. We’ve all brought albums (back in the day I guess) – and with most, there was always a couple of stand outs tracks – you got bored with the rest. ‘Troublegum’ gave us it all and then some from from start to finish – tonight everyone knew all the words, to EVERY song. Cheers Therapy? – you may not have conquered our affliction, maybe contributed to it – but you’ve certainly encouraged us to dig through the cobwebs and dust and find that album of your. Don’t stop it –  you’ve not killed us quite yet.

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Lonely The Brave Setlist
Black Saucers
Victory Line
Trick of the Light
Bass Start
Deserter
Backroads
Call of Horses

Therapy? Setlist:
Troublegum:
Knives
Screamager
Hellbelly
Stop It You’re Killing Me
Nowhere
Die Laughing
Unbeliever
Trigger Inside
Lunacy Booth
Isolation
Turn
Femtex
Unrequited
Brainsaw
[You Are By Sunshine]

B Sides, EPS and additional songs
Evil Elvis
Auto Surgery
Misery
Pantopon Rose
Totally Random Man
Speedball
Bloody Blue
Accelerator
Opal Mantra
Breaking The Law [Judas Priest]
Potato Junkie

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.