Tag Archive: Ken Harrison

New Model Army @ Nottingham Rock City, 13 December 2014

To a city filled with the myth of the legend on the man who robbed the rich to feed the poor, we’re here to see Cromwell’s army as the ‘family’ roll into town for a special and unique take of this particular band’s 34 year career. With just two dates in the UK – welcome all to ‘Between Blood and Wine’ with New Model Army.

New Model Army formed way back in 1980 in Bradford, Yorkshire, releasing their first album in ‘Vengeance’ in ‘84.  Led by Justin Sullivan, NMA  attract a truly loyal following and as a band, been overtly political, never fearful of being confrontational, is part of their DNA. They’ve never chosen the easy route, sticking to their guns and principals throughout.  The journey has never been easy for the band throughout their history either. Resilient to the last – lineup changes, personal tragedies are all part of the band’s history and are part of who they are.

NMA2014

And everyone is here for an incredibly early start to a gig – the main band are due stage on at 6.45pm according to their website and Facebook feeds (curfew is 10 – club night after – a usual with such venues these days) and will deliver a two part, over 2 ½ hour one-off set – with additional musical guests and experimentation’s on the old.  NMA are excited about the possibilities as are the early fans who tuned up tonight.

NMA take to the stage around 7.15pm – the venue is already rammed to the hilt, with punters from all corners of the UK and beyond, the faithful, the devotees, the fan, the new the old, punks, rockers, goths, people in suits and fancy dresses, little people – a whole eclectic mix to see these Bradford stalwarts.

The set is dripping with dry ice, spot lights give effect and the menace of Sullivan is already on show. ‘Guessing’ – he’s ranting at the stars. To huge applause from the fans. ‘Rumour & Rapture’ and ‘Christian Militia’ set the tone – and Sullivan thanks and tells us every year is some kind f anniversary – this in particular ‘1984’.  And then to a drum-punching beat (there’s double drummers on stage tonight) to add to the power. Ke’s been to some interesting place and went to one and came back with this ‘Red Rain’ – red set, crankily powerful song, NMA are ramping it up. ‘Stormclouds’ from their latest and up there with their best album ‘ Between Dog and Wolf’ is storming quite literally, followed by their 80’s hit ‘ No Rest. “By God – What is this evil we have done?” we all chant as a question.

To a song “about lots of things, ‘Knievel’ – to song from their other great album ‘Thunder and Consolation’ ‘Family’ to the title track of the new ‘Between Dod and Wolf.’

Part one is over – and we all stop to take breath. NMA are on form tonight and the crowd buzz with anticipation for part 2. It’s very warm inside the packed Rock City and they return ‘ here we go. First start starts with ‘Ballad’ – and starts quietly. Sullivan stops are the first attempt – the crowd is noisy, some tell others to shut up. Again he starts, and again he stops. “Com’on give us a break..” requests Sullivan. “ We’ll ask you very rudely to shut the f** up “ [to cheers from the fans]”… or we’ll f*** off. If you didn’t want to come you shouldn’t have brought ticket.” Shhhhhhh goes the crowd and third time lucky we’re off – and expanded Army on stage, two violinists, cello-ist. The faithful are singing.Next us ‘ Someone Like Jesus’ – haunting rendition.

Wether ballad on full on venomous angst – NMA are in the zone and the faithful be at one. ‘Orange Tree Roads’ about choices in life – the crowd are bopping, heads bouncing, arms the air. And everyone know the words and chants to all lyrics float through the venue. ‘March in September’ we “ooooooo” – ‘Devil’s Bargain’ the stage drenched in red light – a drumbeaten chant.

This one’s a young person’s song. As the young look up to the adults. Sullivan ponders that our own children may be doing the same to us. He hope’s this is not want they are thinking as they give us ‘A Liberal Education’ – the ‘towers’ of fans in force again – a line of five plus people standing on literally the shoulders of others – punching out to the tune.

MA are giving us everything from all their extensive catalos tonight – ‘No Mirror, No Shadow’ from 2007’s ‘High’ – “As you get older you carry more baggage with you?” ponders Sullivan. Tonight we  are part of something. We are chosen. As we chant out way through ‘One of the Chosen’. ‘Family’ starts off in a more acoustic stripped back manner – and then we sing. “Give me some place that I can go, Where I don’t have to justify myself, Swimming out alone against this tide. Looking for family, looking for tribe.” Sullivan ponders that it is an unlikely song to sing along to and the crowd spontaneously  bust into ‘Merry Christmas Everyone…’

“Innocent days….” Sullivan comments, and we’re into the next epic. ‘No Pain.’ And the tracks power along – ‘Angry Planet’, ‘Purity’ and it’s abdicate accompaniment ‘Poison Street’. And the set complete, with the venom angst and chant that is ‘What A Wonderful Way To Go…’

Set complete – the band soak it up 0- mutual appreciation from band and crowd. But it’s not over.
In full violin flow ‘Vagabonds’ – before a huge drum crank – it’s vicious, and venomous and we sing “We are old, we are young, we are in this together, Vagabonds and children, prisoners forever
With pulses a-raging and eyes full of wonder, Kicking out behind us again…” And then we get their take on a Kinks cover, ‘Daylight’. Sullivan tells us that Ray Davies wimped out when heard it.  But hey, f*** it they thought, they’d do it anyway. Before the totally frenetic ‘225’ from ‘Thunder and Consolation’. Rampant.

And another encore – ‘Vengeance and we chant “I believe in getting the b*****ds, getting the b*****ds, getting the b*****ds….” Thanks to all, their crew and their kinda Christmas take, dedicated to Tommy Lee, everyone is singing. We’re in the valleys of the ‘Green and Grey’, where we think most clearly.

Nottingham Rock City. As soon as we walked into the doors decision was made. In all the years, I’ve been gong to gigs, I’ve never made it here before. The dark environment, sticky floors cavernous celling, mezzanine floor, atmosphere and awesome sound system. We’d like to swap Rock City with Brum’s o2 Academy please? Thanks.

I’ve seen NMA a few times over the years – invariably, whatever the line-up, however many fans are there they give EVERYTHING. They are tough. Rugged. Tonight, it was great to see them play probably one their largest solo gigs in the UK for years to the 2,500 punters. NMA and the family in full glorious, in your face, glory.  Track were not old, this was no retro tour, this is current, this is now – bizarrely probably more so then in their entire career. With the incredibly talented group of musicians and this special guests tonight, this was indeed more than special. Tonight, we’re grinning – awesome gig – we all know this is what this band deserve and then some.

Look for family? Looking for tribe? Then join the Model Army.  It’s a Wonderful Way to Go….

**************************************

Setlist I:
Guessing
Rumour & Rapture
Christian Militia
1984
Red Earth
Stormclouds
No Rest
Knievel
Waiting
Family
Between Dog and Wolf

Setlist II:
Ballad
Someone Like Jesus
Into the Wind
Orange Tree Roads
March in September
Devil’s Bargain
A Liberal Education,
No Mirror, No Shadow
One of the Chosen
Family Life
No Pain
Angry Planet
Purity
Poison Street
Wonderful Way to Go

Encore I:
Vagabonds
Daylight [The Kinks Cover]
225

Encore II:
Vengeance
Green and Grey

*************************
Listening: New Model Army
Thunder and Consolation [1989]
Between Dog and Wolf [2013]
*************************

Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies

Peter Gabriel + Jenny & Linnea @ LG Arena, Birmingham, 28 November 2014

Tonight to the last time for this particular Gig Junkies team at the LG Arena before it morphs into the Genting Arena. We’re here to see a performer who founded one of the biggest bands in rock history way back in 1967, who became prog rock legends. Just seven years in he left, they went on to sell over 140 million records – but he didn’t do too bad, businessman, singer-songwriter, record producer, humanitarian activist, and a solo performer in his own right – tonight he’ll be performing his classic,  most commercial and ridiculously successful 1986 album in it’s entirety – welcome tonight Mr. Peter Gabriel, performing “Back to Front’ including ‘So’ in it’s entirety.
PG-11
When Genesis started out in the late 60’s early 70’s they were different, prog rock, bizarre costumes and art. Internal frictions amongst other reasons meant in the mid 70’s Gabriel walked – paving the way for drummer Phil Collins to take up the vocal mantel and the commercial success the other members went on to have as Genesis, solo artists and supergroups is legendary. Meanwhile Gabriel stuck to his creative roots issuing his own unique solo albums. Then came ‘So’. To put in context just how successful this album went fivefold platinum in the states, triple platinum the UK, spawning five singles and a Grammy nomination. Single ‘Sledgehammer’ with the iconic plasticine animation, reached #1 in the US Billboard charts and won a record ten MTV awards. It is still the most played music video ever on MTV.

But commerciality isn’t, and never has been, what Peter Gabriel is about. It’s concept, music, journey, detail, art, performance. Tonight we will be treated to yes, ‘So.’ in it’s entirety – but also other songs in an entirely different manner.

First up at 8pm we have two ladies on stage, who will both be part of Gabriel’s band later in the evening, Jennie Abrahamson and Linnea Olsson; Abrahamson being accompanied by Olsson on cello.  Abrahamson is from Sweden, a place known for breeding bands and artists in the line of “northern melancholy”; she’s only  kept a slight tint of that moodiness in her richly coloured and playful pop tunes. Critics have called her a “younger, more accessible Kate Bush”.

And then – slightly earlier than planned – Peter Gabriel takes to the stage. Tonight he’ll be performing with his ‘So’ live band – bass-wizard Tony Levin, guitarist David Rhodes, keyboardist David Sancious and drummer Manu Katche. The set appears clutter with equipment,  blazing white light blast across the stage from the sides. Gabriel gives us a hint of tonight’s performance. It will be a ‘meal’ of three courses – the starter is semi acoustic and experimental, the second, a savoury dish, is electronic, the third, “if you survive that far that is”, the complete album of ‘So.’

‘What Lies Ahead’ is a work in progress, with Levin on guitar and Olsson on cello, Gabriel sings from his piano – beautifully haunting. The arena house lights are still on as the other band members join him on stage.  ‘Come Talk to Me’ has an acoustic drumbeat, and Celtish rising melody – the crowd give a big cheer upon completion. This entree is laid back, like a studio music session we’re invited into. And then the next song starts up – stripped back – but we recognise it – ‘Shock the Monkey’ which rises to a funky beat. He get’s up clapping – and we’re singing. Class.

Next up ‘Family Snapshot’ – Gabriel on piano – just his voice – before the house light’s drop, the lights shone in monotone, ballad, power, beauty, ballad. And the cluttered stage comes alive – there are five triple lighted mobile rigs – like triffids rising from the shadows.

We’re into part 2. ‘Digging in the Dirt’ is dark electronic funk – the ‘triffids’ float around the stage, up and down, round and round, the two screens at the side of the stage take the feeds from many stage cameras, edited monotone, industrial effect – white circles on the floor – filmed from above, him in the centre. Gabriel takes to the front of the stage – he’s walking around, becoming a character – tambourine in hand – to huge applause. ‘The Family & the Fishing Net’ is prog rock electronic darkness, one of the lighting ‘triffids’ travels to the front of the stage – the crew dressed in boilers suits and masks – the ‘triffid’ becomes part of the performance – a camera is in its lit ‘head’ – and we can see Gabriel interacting in detail on the screens. And next up – ‘triffid’ back to is place behind the set – the band ‘fights’ with all five of them in ‘No Self Control’ – almost a fight against industry. ‘Solsbury Hill’ written about the real spiritual place in Somerset, the set is finally sepia from monotone – Gabriel and the band are skipping – we’re singing – an upbeat, joyful, smiley song.

Big Cheer – ‘Why Don’t You Show Yourself’ – is the last track from part 2 – and then here we go. Part 3. ‘So.’

The rising ‘Red Rain’ sets the stage bright red – heavier and far more powerful live than on album – beautifully performed. Then a cheeky little beat – before THAT melody – ’Slegehammer.’ We’re singing, Gabriel’s doing the Pop’eye biceps move – a reminder of the video – before him and his band put their best feet forward and put the moves in.

‘Don’t Give Up’ is quite beautiful – Abrahamson taking on Kate Bush’s vocals and doing them more than justice as at the end of the song, Gabriel and Abrahamson embrace. The album rolls on and the band delivers – we’re entranced. ‘Mercy Street’ starts off stripped back before the haunting dark melodies, the triffids are on the move, Gabriel lying on the floor in his circle – the ‘triffids’ have surrounded him, and gaze down at him.

And then the set is garish and bright. The song is big, everything is big. It’s ‘Big time’. We’re singing. It’s bigger than big. ‘We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)’ is dark and menacing – very ‘1984’ atmospheric chant.’In Your Eyes’ an African rhythm, Abrahamson , joins with Arabesque vocals. “ … I am complete…. in your eyes, I see the doorway to a thousand churches…. in your eyes, the resolution of all the fruitless searches…. in your eyes …I see the light and the heat…. in your eyes….”

‘So.’ maybe over – but what a treat – a standing ovation and total applause as Gabriel introduces the band. Band introduced, and he acknowledges the road crew – however, said crew have nicked another crew member’s wombat – and we chant ‘let the wombat go.’ Needless to say a huge applause to the crew – who tonight have done an amazing job. The band bow, and back by poplar demand, turn their backs to the audience and bow again.

And to encore – ‘The Tower that Ate People’ electronic, industrial despair, that even Reznor couldn’t compete with.  The ‘triffids’ march to the front of the stage and line up in a barrier, the band and Gabriel immersed in red smoke. And Gabriel is indeed eaten by a tower. Wow.

“For all the liberties won by young people. For the 43 young Mexican students who recently handed themselves across to be assassinated – this is for all the young people who stand up for the freedom we take for granted. For all those young people who are risking their lives….”

This can only be one song. ‘Biko’.
Stephen Biko was a black South African anti-apartheid activist, arrested in 1977, badly beaten and who later died of his injuries – fighting to stand up from freedom.

And we sing. Our fist in the air in Gabriel solidarity. The cameras focuses in on his face – even today, this track released in 1980, raises the hairs on your arms, and brings a tear to Gabriel’s eye. We chant along as one by one the band members leaving the stage – leaving the drummer beating away, encased by the ‘triffids’…..

Peter Gabriel’s “Back to Front’ is performance, art, beauty, power, fragility, darkness and the light. It is an entirety – from semi acoustic, to full on raging electronic enthralling visual and audio delight. Every element from sound through to rig, film on screen, and beautiful vocals is considered in detail. Pure treat, stunning and a pure delight.

Towers may not have eaten the punters tonight, but the monkey was well and truly shocked.

******************************
Setlist:
What Lies Ahead
Come Talk to Me
Shock the Monkey
Family Snapshot
Digging in the Dirt
Secret World
The Family & the Fishing Net
No Self Control
Solsbury Hill
Why Don’t You Show Yourself

So (in it’s entirety)
Red Rain
Sledgehammer
Don’t Give Up
That Voice Again
Mercy Street
Big Time
We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)
This is the Picture (Excellent Birds)
In Your Eyes

Encore:
The Tower that Ate People
Biko

******************************

Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies.

Hugh Cornwell + Hazel O’Connor @ The Robin 2, Bilston, West Midlands, 25 November 2014

Tonight, Gig Junkies friends, we are in Bilston, in the Black Country and the delectable little venue that is the Robin 2 to see two blasts from the past – two icons of punk / new wave on a double headlining set - Hazel O’Connor and Hugh Cornwell.

First up, and so a potted bit of history, is Hazel O’Connor. Ms O’Connor is best know for ‘Breaking Glass.’ ‘Breaking Glass’ was a 1980 British film featuring O’Connor, Phil Daniels and Jonathan Price  but it was probably most notable for O’Connor’s debut album and soundtrack to the film, which went platinum and made #5 in the UK Charts with a string of classic hits. This was O’Connor and her most commercially successful. She has continued to record, issuing a plethora of albums since and to coincide with her 2014 album ‘Her She Comes’ she here tonight, with the two legendary performers who feature on the album – saxophonist Clare Hirst (Bellestars, Communards, David Bowie) and Sarah Fisher (Eurythmics) on keyboards.

And indeed her set features an eclectic mix of much of ‘Breaking Glass’ and some new stuff. This trio of women perform well together, O’Connor’s voice remains as powerful, and the interpretation of the old by the trio goes down well as the first track from that album is delivered – ‘If Only.’ “We are three women…” announces O’Connor. “Unless one of us is a transvestite.”

‘Don’t Call Me Darling’ is off the new album – and includes some French lyrics – a protest against sexism in the music industry. She’s definitely NOT your baby.  Back to ‘Breaking Glass’ we have the track inspired by the story of Blair Peach, who died as a result of injuries received in a fall at an anti-racism demonstration in Southall in 1979 – ‘Who Calls the Tune.’

O’Connor is a local lass, originally from Coventry (though she now lives in Ireland).  Chatty and engaging, she tells us she doesn’t do planes – she does boats. Likes tea (which she can drink in peace on said boat) and bags (which will be in her car on said boat and which she won’t loose!). The next song is written for her mother, who was in a hospice. During this difficult time, and to cheer her mom up, there had been a blizzard, so she built a snowman to make her smile and named him ‘Harry.’ This song is dedicated to her mom – ‘I Give You My Sunshine.’

‘Blackman’ from THAT album, is a jazzier version, and somewhat faster; as is ‘Shape of Things to Come.’  And then the cup of tea – it must be THAT track. The last dance in the ballroom as they say. ‘Will You?’ and we sing, and Hirst gives the classic sax tune. Big cheer and thank you.

Encore gives us her rendition of Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’ – a laid back version and then the ‘Eighth Day.’ Forever and ever amen, amen, amen indeed.  Great response from the 500 or so punters here tonight. And to complete a sing a-long – with the Bilston Robin 2 Choir (that’s us lot then) – ‘Hey ho I’m Still Breathing.’

And so to a quick break before set number 2. Hugh Cornwell. Cornwell was the original lead singer of iconic The Stranglers and the vocalist and guitarist on some of their classic hits. With them for 16 years, he was on 10 albums and 21 top 40 singing’s before leaving the band in 1990. His latest outing ‘Totem and Taboo’ was released in 2013 to rave reviews and he’ll be playing Strangler’s hits and songs from this recent album for us tonight.

So him and his drummer and female bass player take to the stage and, without saying anything to the crowd, spend 5 minutes tuning, as the crowd wait expectantly before the title track from his latest album ‘Totem & Taboo.’ Then Stranglers track ‘Skin Deep’  and then another from ‘Totem’, the songs intermixed. Cornwell is not happy with the lighting, northe sound, and it takes a few tracks before he settles in and is more comfortable and starts chatting.

‘Duchess’ is given in true Cornwell style, before an older track – requested – ‘Hooverdam’. The crowd chant – “Hughie, Hughie, Hughie” the group of former punks keen to engage with their idol.

For classic ‘Strange Little Girl’ finally we get Cornwell – the voice – the track – he still has those classic vocals. ‘God is a Woman’, again from ‘Totem’ – “….and now we’ve established that – let’s go down to the beach…” – ‘Peaches’ style, which receives the biggest cheer of the night so far. Whilst the ‘Totem’ tracks are delivered well – it is invariably those Strangler’s tracks the punters want to here – ‘Get a Grip (On Yourself)’  from 1977’s ‘Rattus Norvegicus’ (probabaly better known as ‘The Stranglers IV)’get’s those punks pogoing -Cornwell’s version tonight  is raw and stripped back.

Encore starts with a bass rhythm as we go into ‘Totem’ – ‘In the Dead of the Night’ which rambles and stomps – you can hear the core origination from The Stranglers sound. And back to his former band – with ‘Nice n Sleazy’ (which it is), ‘Tank’ and ‘No More Heroes.’ Cornwell’s sound is rawer and punkier – it takes some getting used to as his renditions of these classics exclude the keyboards, which you end up playing as a backing track i your mind.

And another Encore – gives us ‘Bad Vibrations’ and then O’Connor and her females buddies are back as she gives us her take on ‘Hanging Around.’

Tonight’s show was a blast from the past – while there are new tracks there invariably the punters are there to see the classics. O’Connor gave us a good set – the old and the new – but the stand out was probably always likely to be ‘Will You?” Cornwell was punkier and rawer. He’s clearly still angry and snarly. It was great to hear his vocals and at times they really did take you to that place  especially with ‘Strange Little Girl’. It’s a difficult challenge when his former band are out and about and delivering every year – better and better and you have to park aside The Stranglers version 2014 from Hugh Cornwell version 2014, and take’s Cornwell’s version of those tracks in the way he delivers them.

For the fans there tonight – a thoroughly enjoyable evening with their punk new wave idols. Punk aint dead –  this variety of new wave punk is still very much alive and kicking. And is sure as hell isn’t  stuck in Daily Mail Land…

*******************************

Hugh Cornwell Setlist:
Totem & Taboo
Skin Deep
Stuck in Daily Mail Land
DagDave
I Want One of Those
Duchess
Hooverdam
Strange Little Girl
God is a Woman
Peaches
Gods Guns and Gays
Get a Grip on Yourself
A Street Called Carroll
Straighten Out

Encore I
In the Dead of the Night
Nice n Sleazy
Tank
No More Heroes

Encore II
Bad Vibrations
Hanging Around

*******************************

Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies

La Roux + Meanwhile @ The Institute, Birmingham – Saturday 8th November 2014

Tonight we’re borrowing the good Doctor’s Tardis for time travel paradoxically back in time to the modern day. A retro- inspired synth-pop dance-athon back to the future courtesy of 1983, but actually right here, and right now – as we take a trip to The Institute courtesy of Grammy-winning act, La Roux.

La Roux formed in 2006, made up of singer Elly Jackson and record producer Ben Langmaid. Their debut self titled album was a commercial and critical success – winning a Grammy and spawning hit singles ‘In for the Kill’ and ‘Bulletproof.’  The album sold 2 million and spawned 6 million singles sales.The follow up proved a somewhat difficult feet, and Langmaid walked, leaving Jackson on her own, taking the bands name and finally releasing the second La Roux album ‘Trouble in Paradise’ in 2014. Following some low-key dates over the summer, she’s here at the Institute tonight – part of a string of UK dates and then off to Europe.

La Roux-12

Meanwhile…. we still thinking. We’ll maybe not – but we are transported back to precisely 1983 with support band Meanwhile. Think of electronic pop funk – tune that could merrily be the soundtrack to Miami Vice or The Breakfast Club. Lead singer and keyboardist has the blonde lock of Sylvian, with rock out vocals. They’re newbies – and have their debut EP out ‘The Element Yes’ on the 1 December 2014.  If commercial American retro-pop electronica is your scene take a look at em – and maybe give them a like on Facebook to get their likes over 970 and follow ‘em on Twitter – they’ve just 355 followers…

And in between performers tonight, the lights been to the glitter ball in the center of the high ceiling venue – party is a-coming. And  a little after 8.30 (we have a 10pm curfew on the venue tonight before Drum and Bass party night appears) dry ice permeates the stage, lights go down – we’re in darkness. La Roux take to the stage; a panting chant starts up, repeating and repeating as the keyboards join in to screams and cheers from the crowd. This is recent single ‘Let Me Down Gently’ and as Jackson is illuminated from the darkness and the song starts to rise the crowd cheer.

“Hello Birmingham – tech problems as we started up – thanks for coming out… Cold outside innit…?” as Jackson takes us into the next track ‘Fascination’ a full on retro dance track, which get the crowd clapping before morphing into ‘Kiss and Not Tell’ an upbeat clippity clappy track.

Jackson imparts that she forgot to say happy birthday to someone – Mr. Moses clearly isn’t here – “well you try and do something nice….” she quips.  For hit ‘In for the Kill’ many people in the audience get their cameras out – a sea of LED screens – as the spectacular light show gets the crowd bopping.

And the cheers get bigger after each song – and the screams – people ae partaking in falling down water – a young lad in front of us, with his cider mix – clearly things he’s dancing is far cooler than his dads. ‘Cruel Sexuality’ rolls and extends into a bass beat driven dance track. ‘I’m Not Your Toy’ is clearly recognised by the crowd and the fans bop more and hands are in the air.

‘Uptight Downtown’ has a Bowiesque ‘Let’s Dance’ rhythm and the track once again raves down as Jackson takes guitar in hand. “We’d play all night if we could….’ Jackson rues the venue curfew – and we’re in a  Yazoo-inspired tap-tap-tap on the keyboards as we’re delivered  ‘Colourless Colour’  – Jackson’s goals seeming getting higher,  and the crowd clap clap clap as it cranks up the rhythm.

And the dancing man wobbles, his dad dancing days over for now, I fear his legs won’t carry him much longer as he totters off….. ‘Silent Partner’ has a rave vibe – and I almost get to sing Donna Summer’s ‘I fell Love’ though the track doesn’t quite morph.

Encore – stomping drumbeat – ‘Tigerlily’ all atmosphere – and the wobbly man is back – and slumps across his mate. The screaming and cheering is getting louder – and then the main hit ‘Bulletproof’ get’s arms in the air and everyone jumping and singing. With an abrupt stop to the track and it’s over to a huge reponse from the crowd and applause to their reaction from the band. And at just 9.45pm we make our way homeward (or party ward).

La Roux are upbeat – that sort of happy smily synth-pop. It is difficult to know why the second album was quite so hard there didn’t seem to be much of a departure live from the previous album – and nowt particularly revolutionary going on here. But La Roux do what La Roux do best and the crowd do indeed love it. New stuff probably a better fit overseas rather than in the UK, is it bulletproof? Only time will tell.

********************************************

Setlist
Let Me Down Gently
Fascination
Kiss and Not Tell
In for the Kill
Quicksand
Sexotheque
Cruel Sexuality
I’m Not Your Toy
Tropical Chancer
Uptight Downtown
Colourless Colour
Silent Partner

Encore:
Tigerlily
Bulletproof

********************************************

Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

John Cooper Clarke + Mike Garry + Luke Wright @ Town Hall, Birmingham, 23 October 2014

Tonight we’re at the beautiful Town Hall in Birmingham, to see a full on punk-rock gig, with a twist. There is no music, no musicians, no instruments, it is the words that are the lyrics and the melody. Tonight we’re here for rock with words, the punk god-father of the satirical, the political and the scathing courtesy of Doctor John Cooper Clarke.
JCC-15
Q Magazine’s Poet Laureate John Cooper Clarke remains as important these days,  as he was when he first burst onto the scene in a blaze of vitriol in the ‘70s. Thanks to his biting, satirical, and overtly political verse, delivered in a unique rapid-fire performance style, he became firmly entrenched in the punk movement and toured with the likes of The Sex Pistols and The Clash, while Joy Division and subsequently New Order supported him.

Now armed with an honorary Doctorate of Arts, he brings his treasury of punk poetry and two ‘up and coming’ poets – Luke Wright and Mike Garry – for the holiest of punk poet trinities.

Up first Luke Wright takes to the stage – giving us manic, quick fire poetry. He claims he’s  “a stay at home dandy” – he’s been out on his tour in the Autumn with ‘Fat Dandy.’ A poet and sometime broadcaster he writes a new shows each years and touts it round the country – not as some claim he says to “take poetry to the people” but because it pays his mortgage – and he loves it!  He tells us he met  Lenny Henry, asked him if he was stating in a Premiere Inn – response – “Of course not!” Henry didn’t get the irony and quick witted comedy of Wright in that one. He’s books and CDs – well worth checking out – find out more on his website.

Next up - Mike Garry – he’s from Manchester. His poetry is observational, ranting and a raving and social commentary. And he’s fast – the poetry is the rhythm of his music – the ability to recant the lyrics of his poetry at speed with no reference is pretty incredible and mesmerising to watch. He loves Birmingham. And gives us a poem about a s**t club – the Embassy – and the characters that are there, their lives are maybe what they may seem to be. He’s impressing himself here – and now for a sonnet –  another look at societies throw away attitude – ‘Pay As You Go.’ He’s here with books (a merchandising plug – he be there after his act)  and as one falls off stage he tells us not to knick it. He’s a good as stand up comedian as talented poet, next one to the local Manchester legend Tony Wilson – written after his death and performed with New Order. ‘Antony H Wilson’ another social look on life and Wilson’s impact – and the words take on the alphabet letter by letter – clever and emotive. Birmingham is beautiful, although he’s less complimentary about local councils, and at the end of his set he will jump off the stage – “un-risk-assessed”. “Have you been involved in an accident….” a satirical take on the adverts we see on TV, before a poetry eulogy to his mother who died. Funny but sad too – and we feel.

And now to THE main man. The Godfather of punk poetry – Doctor John Cooper Clarke. “Evening. ” He’s the chairman of the board, dressed in top to tail in black, blackened hair spiked, darkened glasses.

He got here late, he tells us, he’s gonna read ‘the Guest List’. “Would it kill ‘em to buy a ticket?” he quips and leaps into a fast paced rendition of everyone he knows, names rhyming. Apparently Birmingham is an ‘Atomic City.’

And tells of ‘generalisation’ ( we all do it),  which comes with two other important factors ‘Prejudice’ and ‘Judgement’ – a three pronged trilogy. And poetry to recant in full on observational vitriol as only Dr Clarke can do – “Get Back On The Drugs You Fat F**k” . He’s funny and whitty and fast paced and flies off at tangents – continually challenging, asking questions, pointing out the bleeding obvious. “Dr. Clarke how did you get here?” on birth and life and how he got here rather than the car he travelled in, before he leaps into ‘Hire Car.’

A punter’s question to “Is there a God?” doesn’t get the straight answer, but a tangent circle of responses. As he says “the public are in charge – the public is the governor” as he gives us the old and new in his poetry treasury – including his love story in reverse “T**t!” And his poetry can be two lines, limericks, sonnets, Hiaku or the long ones. He’s the “peoples balladeer; the high court judge” in newbie “The People’s Republic of Doktor Klarke.”

From is back catalogue ‘Beasley Street’ – a real life place and it’s social life, plus a an update to the way the place has changed ‘Beasley Boulevard’ – all ‘Urban Splash!’ Irony, and observation – on ‘golf audiences’ and age. “Age. The silent killer” – he’s been around our entire lives, before “Bed Blocker Blues.

He’s been experiments with Hiaku – poems of 17 syllables. he has a list and number 1 will be the final he reads to us. “Smarter than I have ever been, total idiots. I have met them all.” And his number 1. “To freeze the moment in seventeen syllables is very diffic…”

And he completes with his personal favourite – the classic ‘Chickentown’ – used in the penultimate episode of the Sopranos. When played on the BBC in ’78 the bleep operators got repetitive strain injury. Before thanks to the Arctic Monkeys, who closed their critically acclaimed album AM with a version of  ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ which we receive the Doctor Clarke version – in it’s full and scathing and dark glory.

This trilogy of social commentators were tonight, funny and witty, scathing with vitriol, yet caring and thought provoking.  The good Doctor was mesmerising in his words the hour and a half set whizzed by, with that inherent knack of making people laugh.  Doctor Clarke – part poet, part stand up. And still relevant.

********************************************

Pictures courtesy of Ken Harrison. Review for Gig Junkies and 102.5 The Bridge.

Holly Johnson @ The Library, The Institute, Birmingham, 19 October 2014

In 1984 a few people got very hot under the collar about a single. It got banned from airplay on Radio 1 at a time when most the world listened to the station. An outrage many people said. But the people behind this song grinned broadly and merrily wound them up even more. This single became the most controversial and most commercial single of the decade, selling over 2 million copies.There was even T-Shirts. We love a bit of anti-establishment at the best of times. So roll on 30 years to 2014, “Welcome” to a bit of “Frankie Says Relax” with former Frankie Goes to Hollywood frontman Holly Johnson.
Holly Johnson
Wow. It’s been 30 years since the release of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s debut album  ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome.’ Over 30 years since that controversial single ‘Relax’. Frankie literally took over the airwaves for a brief moment in time.  ‘Pleasuredome’ had reported advanced album sales (in the days of the vinyl record) of over a million copies. Second album ‘Liverpool’ was a harder sell for a number of reasons, and Johnson walked releasing three solo albums  including his platinum selling number 1 debut solo album ‘Blast’ in 1989, ‘Dreams That Money Can’t Buy’ in 1991 and ‘Soulstream’ in 1999. And this year, 15 years on, he’s back with new album ‘Europa.’ Whilst he’s played the odd festival – this will be his first solo tour since 1987… so welcome to Holly Johnson: Unleashed from the Pleasuredome.

There’s no support tonight, although a DJ, Dave Kendrick, gives some tunes including remixes featuring Kraftwerk, Kate Bush and Heaven 17 and a snippet of Frankie. I have to say, we’re too busy chatting to take too much notice.

And just after 9, Johnson takes to the stage with full band in tow and starts off with ‘Atomic City’ and receives a big cheer from the audience – before here comes Frankie – ‘Warriors of the Wasteland’ and the rising epic ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome.’ Johnson may have recorded these over 30 years ago but his voice remains spot on, the band tight, and we know all the words.

“I’m not allowed to talk… or we won’t get many songs done….” he says in his quiet Liverpudlian accent. Another Frankie -‘Rage Hard’ – the crowd are dancing and clapping and the cheers getting bigger. And now to a solo hit ‘Love Train’ before… “we’re gonna risk a new one on you now… Dare we?” and we’re into a segment of newbies and solo stuff.

‘Heavens Here’ – “a festival treat” and ‘Americanos’ gets us dancing and a cheer on the closing line… “In the land of the free, you can be who you want to be…”

Holly Johnson-12
“Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. There are moments when you’re feeling all alone….” “Aaaahhhhh goes the crowd in sympathy. “Not tonight!” shouts a punter. And he delivers us ‘Lonesome Town’ before “scaring us with another new one” – title track from his new album – ‘Europa.’

Another excuse to dance. “You are a bit like sardines aren’t you?” he comments on the cosy crowd, “Not much room…..you can always rub up to the person in front of you….” as we’re into ‘Dancing With No Fear.’  He was on ‘Later….with Jools Holland’ and played this one – a ballad and his favourite song on the album ‘So Much it Hurts.’

And then we’re back in time, to  Frankie song he hasn’t sung since ’87, ‘Watching the Wildlife.’ Before a song he calls “the money shot.” Asking is we are ready – hey we know what’s coming – ‘Relax’ – in all it’s beating glory. Johnson has a flashlight and shines it over the audience. We’re a-dancing and singing. Timewarp baby. Awesome rendition – massive cheer.

A quick break and he’s back – with a change of jacket. Apparently he stopped the cold war with this one (so a comedian told him). ‘Two Tribes’. Class. And then to the special one. And it’s not just for Christmas – “I’ll protect you from the hooded claw, keep the vampires from your door” – it’s the epic ‘Power of Love’ The hairs stand up on our arms and we’re singing away. It’s amazing how many of us knew all the words. Spine-chingling.

Holly Johnson is affable and funny. And he likes his songs epic. And no count, those Frankie hits were special. It was great to hear them in full totally overblown and truly glorious colour. Johnson is out for a few dates – go check him out – it’s well worth it. Hopefully, he’ll be out and about far more than he has been for the last few years.
Holly makes you smile. And you can’t ask for much more than that….. according to his website:  Holly Johnson Cosmos Mariner, destination unknown. The Odyssey Continues…

***************************
Setlist:
Atomic City
Warriors of the Wasteland
Welcome to the Pleasuredome
Rage Hard
Love Train
Follow Your Heart
In and Out of Love
Heavens Here
Americanos
Lonesome Town
Europa
Disco Heaven
Dancing With No Fear
Penny Arcade
So Much it Hurts
Watching the Wildlife
Relax

Encore:
Two Tribes
Power of Love

***************************

Pictures couresty of Ken Harrison – Review for Gig Junkies.

Older posts «