Tag Archive: Wolverhampton

Simple Minds @ Wolverhampton Civic, 5 April 2103

Simple Minds flatly refuse to give up and go away. Na no. Stadia shows may be a few years ago (although arenas are a’ beckoning later in the year) this is the second time in just over 12 months they’ve played a mid-sized venue, playing all their hits from days gone by. And by all accounts it’s a great idea – tonight’s gig is totally sold out.

Last trip out was ‘5 from 5’ – five tracks from their first five albums. This time we have the full spread of hits – from the classic cult dance hit ‘I Travel’ right through to brand new tracks on their new greatest hits release ‘Celebrate.’ The 2 set CD features 36 songs, from 12 albums over 34 years.  Go up a notch – the 3 set CD features 50 songs off 13 albums over 36 years. As you do. According to Mr. Kerr as part of the press release: “One of the things I’m most proud of is that people say to me what Simple Minds are you talking about? The avant-garde, the art-rock, the pop, the ambient, the instrumental group, the political, the folk, the stadium band? We’ve been on one hell of a journey. To play all those different styles but at the same time be quintessentially Simple Minds is an amazing thing.”

Tonight is indeed a time warp, go back to the time of the ‘New Romantics’ when mobile phones were those red telephone kiosks on street corners, Apple had just released the Macintosh computer, you brought an album on cassette tape and on the round black stuff and social media entailed a pen, paper, a stamp and a few days to get a response. We’ve all come a long way since then – tonight is an opportunity to put on the rose tinted glasses and remember those ‘fab’ good old days. I would suspect many who attempted the new 7 shades of social class calculator probably come out in the category of ‘New Affluent Worker or above – average age 44, economically secure, go to gigs, live in the Midlands….

To a potted bit of Simple Minds history – formed way back in ’78, they 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, comparable to U2 in success.

According to their Twitter profile: “Simple Minds are Scotland’s most successful rock group to date. Having topped America’s Billboard chart, the Glasgow band have achieved six UK No.1 albums.” But for Simple Minds this ridiculously huge commercial success began to wane, not that has stopped them; they’ve continued to this day, both recording and playing live, and tonight here, once again in an intimate venue to celebrate with their loyal fans.

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).  And tonight it’s just them, no support. Times for a double-setted gig – 7.45pm-9pm – twenty minute break (we need one as we’re all getting on I guess) – then 9.20pm til 10.30pm.

So 15 minutes late (according to the above released times) on a darkened dry ice covered stage, to a dramatic entrance Simple Minds appear through the clouds. Encouraging the crowd to clap, Kerr dressed in black, draped in pink scarf, starts off the set with new song ‘Broken Glass Park.’ “We’re please to come and visit you in Wolverhampton… let me see your hands…. say hello to…. Charlie Burchill….. 1…2….3….4…” and we’re into ‘Waterfront.’ The crowd buzzed as the track rambles with that bass riff. Huge cheer as we’re then plunged into total darkness. Kerr’s voice emerges with “Everything okay?” before we’re into ‘Once Upon A Time’ which merges seamlessly into ‘Up On The Catwalk’. The crowd chant back the chorus “I will be there, I will be there, I will be there” as we’re all transported back to early 80s memories of ‘being there.’ ‘Catwalk’ is the standout track so far.

Kerr: “How are you? Thanks every one of you for coming to see Simple Minds…. We’ll do this set and then take a little break so you can get your energy back…. First time in Wolverhampton, unless anyone can tell me otherwise. We’ve been in Dudley…..” (a reference to the OLD blackened ‘garage’ that was the legendary JB’s methinks). And then we start to roll, to the dance track that achieved cult like status in it’s time, when as kids we went to discos…. “I Travel”. 12” (vinyl) extended edition.

First part of the set over, we take the break. Then after around 15-20 minutes, they’re back – instrumental ‘Book of Brilliant Things’, followed by their cover of Kraftwerk’s ‘Neon Lights.’  It’s song three before a white floppy shirted Kerr is back on stage for the song with the S’s ‘Someone Somewhere in Summertime.’

Couple of later career hits and then the new – ‘Blood Diamonds’ – before back to the old – ‘The American’ – as the crowd chant the chorus – this is what they crave for. Again from Kerr: “Everyone okay” as we return to the bass riff and  ‘Love Song’ another standout track. And then we get to dream about watching movies, curled up with pop and popcorn – ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ theme to The Breakfast Club. And a kinda interlude as Kerr has a go at some over-enthusiastic fans pushing too much and crushing others at the front. Fair play by all accounts.

The set finished on a smattering of time-warp – ‘Promised You A Miracle’, ‘Glittering Prize’ and ‘New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)’. The crowd are loving it. Break and then an encore – ‘Sanctify Yourself’, ‘Space’ and to finish up ‘Alive and Kicking’. And as the set finishes Bowie’s ‘The Jean Jeanie’ blasts from the speakers – the line “So simple minded” the inspiration for the band’s name.

Simple Minds were indeed mega-huge, but unlike U2 who conquered the world and then some, it didn’t quite play out in the same way. The major hits were certainly mostly during the 80’s and so tonight was a celebration of true nostalgia and most were here to hear tracks from a couple of decades past. And very probably for most here tonight – the older the track the better.

Tonight’s gig wasn’t cheap – tickets were between about £38 and £48 each, then you could buy the T-shirt (£20), the program (£10) and the regularly plugged ‘limited edition’ CD recording (£20 on the night) of tonight’s performance (only available at this and two other gigs on this tour). Putting this aside – it was clear everyone in the audience had a blast.  And if you are an avid fan undoubtedly you already have a ticket to their NIA gig in Birmingham on 29th November 13 (tickets up to £55) with support – superstars of moody electronica the reformed and resurgent Ultravox. So another opportunity to timewarp – it’ll be a New Romantic electronic extravaganza.

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Setlist:

  1. Broken Glass Park [New]
  2. Waterfront
  3. Once Upon A Time
  4. Up On the Catwalk
  5. Let There Be Love
  6. All The Things She Said
  7. War Babies
  8. I Travel

[Break]

  1. Book of Brilliant Things
  2. Neon Lights (Kraftwerk Cover)
  3. Someone Somewhere in Summertime
  4. She’s a River
  5. This is Your Land
  6. Blood Diamonds [New]
  7. The American
  8. Love Song
  9. See the Lights
  10. Don’t You (Forget About Me)
  11. Promised You A Miracle
  12. Glittering Prize
  13. New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84)

[Encore]

  1. Sanctify Yourself
  2. Space
  3. Alive and Kicking

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Listening:

Celebrate (Greatest Hits + Collection) [2013]

Sons and Fascination / Sister Feelings Call [1981]

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

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Reviewed for Gig Junkies.

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.

Alice Cooper + Ugly Kid Joe + Duff McKagan’s Loaded @Wolverhampton Civic Hall 25th October 2012

Review for Gig Junkies. Pictures: Bianca Barrett.

It’s All Hallows Eve (well nearly), the festival of the dead, and the rock god of shock horror macabre theatrics, Alice Cooper is in Wolves with his annual Hallowe’en Night of Fear tour. Promo says to dress up – so the audience should feature a few outrageous costumes, as there will be cash prizes for the winners!

And in support, kinda bizarrely, we have Duff McKagan’s Loaded and returning 80s Californian rock n’ roll surfers Ugly Kid Joe. Tonight doors at Wolves Civic are opened half and hour earlier to fit in all three acts with decently long sets.

I arrive as Duff McKagan’s Loaded are giving it some, rock wise, so to speak. Loaded are former Gunner and Velvet Revolver axe merchant McKagan, Mike Squires on lead guitar, Jeff Rouse on bass, Isaac Carpenter on drumming duties. Performing energetic punk rock, to a surprisingly full Civic, even though it’s just before 7.30pm. “I thought this was Wolverhampton not fuckin’ Birmingham…” as McKagan encourages a response from the crowd. Final song of the set the GnR classic: ‘It’s So Easy’. It’s got far more bass than the original (as you would expect from the former GnR bassist), it suits Loaded to play this – all full of attitude. “We are from Seattle, we will be back…we are Loaded.” A suitably good response, from a suitably good performance – they’re off after a 40 minute set.

Next up Ugly Kid Joe. They split in ’97 only to re-emerge in 2011. With new EP ‘Stairway to Hell’ released June 2012, they played a few festivals across Europe this year including Download. UKJ are Whitfield Crane on vocals, Klaus Eichstadt and Dave Fortman on guitar, Cordell Crockett on bass and drummer Shannon Larkin.

Now I may have seen then in their previous life – its vague I can’t quite remember. And I have to admit, I’m not quite sure what to expect. As the lights go down- the crowd scream – I’m guessing that’s for the vaguely good looking Crane. He’s dressed as I guess you would expect, in baggy three quarter surfer shorts, t-shirt, knee high socks and baseball cap on back to front.  He does the rock horns, the crowd cheer and give the horns back! He’s already winding them up –  live UKJ are far more rocky and slightly more screamy than their commercial hits and first song is reminiscent of the Crue’s ‘Dr Feelgood.’   Next up, I know the words to this, ‘Neighbourhood’ and I realise that somewhere on my shelves at home, I brought this CD!

Crane’s voice is still on song, ripping and shredding and screaming. He gets the crowd to “woohooo”, as he bows. “It’s real good to be here … how you all feeling? New song at end of set – jump when you see me jump.” After banter, singing away, Crane’s climbing up to the balcony, which is pretty high here at the Civic. He takes photo with someone’s phone – “Put your hands in the air and scream” He’s walking round the balcony (another reviewer here tonight gets to touch him, apparently he’s very sweaty but very muscular!) He walks right round the edge of the balcony; people stand to let him by and he sits on balcony edge of the opposite side to compete the song.

I have to say, I’m suitably surprised, he’s great with the crowd – he has everyone in the palm of his hand – like a maestro conducting an orchestra. “Everybody scream for me…..”  “aaaahhhh….” come the response. “How you doing motherf*****ers? Crane jumps and the audience jump!

Crane: “You guys are awesome…. twenty years… grateful to be standing here…fifteen years since we played here – this one is for everyone here…” And everyone sings along, come on readers you know the words “Cats in the Cradle….” Hands wave from side to side – this is a great feel-good factor gig! Puts a big grin on your face on a cold autumnal evening.

He’s still going – speaks to audience member Peter, “Say hi to Pete” – “Hi Pete” responds the audience. “Walk up towards me five steps – everyone…that’s all of you…I want to see you…. Everybody on the floor jump!” And they do, it’s UKJ’s new song!

Then it’s the final sing of their set – another one to sing along to: “Everything about you.” The last line is spoken on the song, the crowd: “Everything about…..” Crane stops us, and counts us in to the last word – hands in the air – “You!” Wowsers – I have to say, tonight, Ugly Kid Joe, your totally rocked Wolves Civic.

So to a break – and to catch our breath in preparation for Alice’s arrival.

The crowd is quite a mixture – the rockers, a lot of them enjoyed Duff. Then we have peeps of a slightly older age, clearly into Alice in his hey-day. And there is a few younger ones – come to check out the shock horror that is Cooper, and some little people. I’ve always been amazed at the numbers of small kids that frequent Alice Cooper gigs, given that they are, in general, pretty bloodthirsty.

And then we have the ones who have gone to town in fancy dress – from faked up Goth, to blood splattered faces. Oh and a devil. Horns included. And a witch. And a white zombie blood soaked man. Man with creepy baby on shoulder (not a real one I hasten to add).

As we wait for Alice we have the competition for fancy ghoulish dress – several individuals on stage for which the audience vote for by the loudest cheer. The Mad Jester just about defeats the Shining Twins into second place.

And the lights drop; the stage is a backdrop with a canopy where two red eyes beam down onto the crowd below. To ‘The Underture’ we have a curtain of fireworks right across the stage (I bet the Civics’ health & safety team took a sharp intake of breath) and through the veil of fireworks Alice appears, in full garb, red and black-stripped jacket and full war paint.

The set and the band are typically over the top. Alice’s band doesn’t just feature one, or two, but a trio of guitarists – Orianthi, Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henricksen plus bassist Chuck Garric and drummer Glen Sobel, with a kit Tommy Lee would be proud of. (Although they are visually very reminiscent of 80s rock glam rockers Cinderella). Tonight’s set will feature the old and classic, plus songs from his latest album ‘Welcome 2 My Nightmare’ – and a few cover versions.

‘Hello Hurray!’ Alice is pacing the stage, baton in hand, twirling it round and around. Tonight he is the ringmeister. Into ‘House of Fire’ – Alice is master of this genre, he slaps his baton on his legs and he is the one in command. He poses, in classic Alice pose – the crowd cheer.  Jacket off – now he’s ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy.’

And if you were thinking of a title of a song, in true Alice style – next up we have ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off.’ As you do. Okay we’ve had fireworks, you and your band are truly professional, tight, amazing, your voice is still menacing – where’s the blood? Now I don’t usually ask such a question at a gig, it is indeed, something in general I do not want to see. But this is Alice. I’ve seen you before, ripping heads of teddy bears and guts spewing everywhere; decapitations, guillotines, a 101 ways to kill yourself on stage…..

‘Billion Dollar Babies’ – the trio of guitarists open this track up phenomenally well. Alice is back, studded jacket on. He’s got a sword, stabbed onto it are dollar notes, as he sings he struts the stage, shaking the notes off over the audience. Maybe he’ll stab a guitarist? Decapitate one? Er. No. Clearly tonight’s set is ‘straight’ Alice, less theatrics, not quite as gruesome. In saying that, Vincent Furnier himself, is totally ensconced in being Alice – and it’s a great theatrical performance.

“Hey….Hey…Hey… Hey…” ‘Hey Stoopid’ goes down well. ‘Dirty Diamonds’ he’s chucking diamond necklaces into the audience, and we have a bloody….. erm, drum solo, then the bassist, then the guitarists – clearly a musical interlude for Alice to catch his breath.

Light’s flicker, thunder comes through the speakers, a single spotlight is on Alice. ‘Welcome to my Nightmare’ – he makes Freddie Kruger look soft and cuddly. He scowls his way through the track, two minions appear and tie him into a straight jacket, from which he dutifully escapes by the end of the song. ‘The Man Behind The Mask’: a fake paparazzi cameraman gets escorted off the stage. By Frankenstein

Alice is indeed class. He’s been doing this so long, he knows how to deliver it to exact perfection. And blows all those wannabes off stage. If you’ve not seen him, he’s well worth it, not doubt next Hallowe’en he will rise and appear to scare us once more. I had to leave before the end of the gig (it wasn’t local gig for me, train beckoned), so there may have been more theatrics at the end. It’s Alice and my expectation was for blood, guts and gore, especially at Halowe’en…

But all in all, what a cracking night! Great venue (if you’ve never visited Wolves Civic for a gig before, it is indeed, one of the best live venues in the Midlands). And for 36 nicker, this Halowe’en, Duff got us Loaded, Ugly Kid Joe were a revelation, and as for Alice, you didn’t have to ask him what was the matter. He’d have ‘bitten your face off.’

 

Garbage + The Jezabels @ Wolverhampton Civic, 2nd July 2012

Tonight’s band were ‘manufactured’. Full stop. Polar opposite to the usual mates or friends of friends coming together to form a band – two producers and a sound engineer thought it would be a rather good idea to form a band. Then they found a wee Scottish lass to front it. And while this particular path may not have been the easiest ‘Vow’ blew everyone away; four albums sold over 17 million albums in a decade – and then they disappeared from view. Tonight they’re back; they’re far from rubbish – they are, indeed, Garbage.

Formed nearly 20 years ago, producers Butch Vig (who famously produced Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’, let alone countless others) and Duke Ericson and sound engineer Steve Marker wanted to come from behind production and use their expertise to create a band. After watching a documentary they came across Angelfish’s Shirley Manson and knew she was the girl for them. A multitude of hits later, they went on a sudden hiatus in 2005; it’s took them 8 years to come back out of the woodwork, to release new album ‘Not Your Kind of People’ and come back out on a world tour.

Support tonight is from Australian alternative rockers The Jezabels. Big down under, they’ve also received airplay in the States, predominantly through US college radio. With female lead Hayley Mary on vocals they’re pretty rocky, Cranberries-esque in sound; the songs are indie rock epics. Clearly enjoying their journey round the UK, they are supporting Garbage across their UK dates.

Garbage are playing just four dates in the UK as part of their ‘Not You Kind of People’ world tour – Wolves Civic is, quite surprising, just about half full.  At 9am they appear starting up with ‘Supervixen’.  Next up, sweetly, sweetly then in your face – ‘I Think I’m Paranoid’. Manson commands the stage, most the blokes in the audience drool, she’s strutting and posing – this is very much HER domain. We sing along. It’s the classics where she takes total control; for ‘Queer’ the immaculate stage lighting tonight, a white beacon of light shines directly onto her – you get that classic Garbage Manson imagery.

‘Stupid Girl’ commences with a dance beat similar to Donna’ Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’ and slowly morphs into full-on rock version. Finally Manson speaks: “Good to see you all Wolverhampton! It’s been more than eight years!” She chats while she changes shoes: “it’s party time….” Then asks the audience “So, while we’ve been away, have you been good? Been to school?…. University?… Got a job?…..Found a girl?… Found a boy?…… Argued?…. Got back together?…. We did all of the above and some darker stuff… This goes out to all the Garbage fans….thank you for sticking with us!” and we’re back into the tracks: ‘Why Do You Love Me’ and ‘Control’ the later, with industrial rock boomerang feel. The audience rise to the poppy hit ‘Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)’ – Manson: “Absolutely beautiful to watch you all change and grow … as you watch us… we are watching you!”

Then we get new track ‘Blood for Poppies’ followed by ‘Special’ which morphs, albeit briefly, into ‘Talk of the Town’.  Mason complains the fan keeping her cool is useless “…put on shopping list for tomorrow…” and we get some more of their new tracks before the uber-hits of ‘Push It’ and the classic ‘Vow.’

Off and back on for the encore, we get a rising orgasmic introduction to each band member from Mason, who goes on to do the same for the road crew. “Shirley, Shirley, Shirley…” chant the crowd. “All present and correct…” To the audience: “Are you here? You as quiet as little church mice… I can make a bigger noise than you….” Then to new tracks ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’, title track ‘Not You Kind of People’ completed with the aptly titled ‘Only Happy When it Rains’ – another stand out track of the night.

Garbage are hugely professional – the lads rock out, the music in perfect sync. Manson is IN CHARGE of the stage – she has a hugely iconic stage presence  – “slightly scary” as one person said to me, tonight her vocals were all well on song. Few women in rock can command a stage like she can. A shout out also has to go to the lighting guy – lots of comments on how good and clear it was – stage lit to perfection.

Garbage tend to scoot between genres, from the grunge power tracks of ‘Vow’, through to their more pop hits – on a couple of tracks Manson raps, which is just a tad odd. Some songs are stronger than others: it is the grunge indie industrial rock where they show their true power.  For this new album Garbage are doing it all by themselves – no record label in tow. Tracks are getting airtime – and the album is getting mixed reviews from a range of people I’ve spoken to. However, Garbage LIVE are well wortha punt seeing – they certainly deserved more than a half full Civic Hall tonight. And as this was the second in the four UK dates if you haven’t seen them – don’t know when the next chance will be – given their recent 8 year gap.

But given the crazy British Summer we’re currently experiencing, there was more than one happy fan that walked away singing…. “I’m Only Happy When It Rains…”

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Setlist:

  1. Supervixen
  2. I Think I’m Paranoid
  3. Shut Your Mouth
  4. Metal Heart
  5. Queer
  6. Stupid Girl
  7. Why Do You Love Me
  8. Control
  9. #1 Crush
  10. Cheery Lips (Go Baby Go!)
  11. Blood for Poppies
  12. Special
  13. Trick is to Keep Breathing
  14. Battle In Me
  15. Big Bright World
  16. Bad Boyfriend
  17. Push It
  18. Vow

Encore:

  1. Automatic Systematic Habit
  2. Not Your Kind of People
  3. Only Happy When It Rains

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Listening:

Garbage [1995]

Version 2.0 [1998]

Beautiful Garbage [2001]

Bleed Like Me [2005]

Not Your Kind of People [2012]

Blancmange + Light Cascades + The Audacity @ HMV Institute Temple, 19th May 2012

Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures: Ken Harrison

After having moved venues twice in as many days – we climb to the top of the HMV Institute to see the iconic electronic Blancmange, back again, for the second time in less that a year after a twenty five year hiatus.

This gig started out life in the 02 Academy 2, then moved to the Academy 3, before a last minute move to The Temple at the HMV Institute across town. We don’t know why, but maybe it was because a “lesser known, small band” with the name of Black Sabbath were performing an intimate gig in the 02 Academy 1…

So after a traipse across town and a climb pretty much to the rooftop of the HMV Institute to the Temple (not sure why they’ve gone for this room – The Library would have made more sense – and there’s nowt else on at the Institute tonight). Though fair play to The Institute, the staff are all very friendly and they’ve opened up the VIP Conservatory, with bar and area for those fans who want a fag, without having to traipse down two flights of stairs.

The teeny Temple is three-quarters full – couple of hundred fans – probably due to the fact they’re playing The Slade Rooms in Wolvo the following night. Blancmange were indeed one of the influential pioneers in their hey day –  ‘Living on The Ceiling’, ‘Feel Me’ and “Blind Vision” are just some of their stand out tracks. Over recent years, they’ve been acknowledged as inspirational by bands such as La Roux, Hot Chip and Faithless.

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

Sadly Luscombe once again has been advised not to tour having been diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurism near his spine (you can read his message on the front of the Blancmange website) . And so again, it’s down to Arthur to continue with the tour accompanied on the teeny stage tonight by Graham Henderson “twiddling the knobs…”

Local bands are tonight’s support’s – first up – The Audacity – inspired by early Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and New Order. Next up – Light Cascades – another young indie electronica band, with female lead plus bass and guitar; they are very early 80s in sound. Set includes cover of The Cure’s ‘Pictures of You.’

And at 9pm, Arthur and his side kick Henderson appear on the darkened stage, with arty screen backdrop accompaniment and we’re into the first track of the night  ‘Game Above My Head.’ Arthur stoops and sheltering his eyes from the spotlight, peers into the crowd. His voice still is the iconic sound of Blancmange. With Lancastrian accent “That’s very nice of you Birmingham, find ya way ‘ere did you? We got lost….” (comment on venue change from an audience member) Arthur joking – “that’s what I meant!”  Next track “I Can’t Explain “ shows how early Blancmange gained their early influence – very Kraftwerk inspired. Tonight’s set it the old and the new (from 2011’s Blanc Burn); from the first single ‘God’s Kitchen’ to tracks such as ‘Radio Therapy’ …. And Arthur is keeping track of the footie score – “What’s the score?” (Nil-Nil) “ooooo”

The stand out tracks tonight are the main hits of the past – a track that was released thirty years ago this September – ‘Living on the Ceiling’ is still as classy as Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tears Us Apart’. And as the number closes, and the music rolls, Arthurs disappears off stage – to re-appear slap bang in front of us in the audience – before nipping back. “Always wanted to see Blancmange… wish I was thirty years younger” he quips. Few more tracks – then the classic ‘Blind Vision’, followed by Blanc Burn track ‘Starfucker’ then ‘Feel Me’ – a track that Talking Heads would have been proud of.

Off and back on for encore with an unsuspecting audience member he grabbed “while she was on the way to the loo…”  The we get the ABBA cover ‘The Day Before You Came’ and ‘Probably Nothing.’ Arthur and Henderson bow to the crowd.

Arthur is chatty – and loves to engage with the fans – he’ll be chatting by the merchandising stand after the gig, and as we leave – most people stay behind for the opportunity……

Tonight’s gig wasn’t as good as their gig last year at The Academy 2 – but that could well have been down to the venue move. There is something very classy about Blancmange, they truly deserve a bigger take-up from those fans who love electronica. They deserved more than the couple of hundred that turned up tonight – however loyal those few are. So go check em out – you will not be disappointed. And to Arthur, and Luscombe, keep it up boys, it’s great to hear you once again.

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Brum Live photographer Ken Harrison got to see Blancmange the following night at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton with support from local lad Johnny Normal. This gig was indeed Blancmange back on full form (everyone is entitled to a bit of an off night especially with last minute swap-around on venues!) – far better sound and more space on stage. They were also joined by long time associate, Pandit Dinesh, on percussion. Setlist was a bit different – they finished the set with the melodic ‘Waves’.

Ken caught up with Neil Arthur after the gig – and gave an acknowledgment to Birmingham Live! “They’re great!”  Cheers matey – we look forward to see Blancmange back in the Midlands very soon!

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Setlist:

  1. Game Above My Head
  2. I Can’t Explain
  3. WDYF
  4. God’s Kitchen
  5. Radio Therapy
  6. Drive Me
  1. The Western
  2. Living on the Celling
  3. By the Bus Stop @ Woolies
  4. Don’t Let These Days
  5. Blind Vision
  6. Star Fucker
  7. Feel Me

 

Encore:

14. The Day Before You Came

15. Probably Nothing

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Listening:

Happy Families (1982)

Mange Tout (1984)

Believe You Me (1985)

Blanc Burn (2011)

Black Veil Brides + D.R.U.G.S + Reckless Love @ Wolverhampton Civic Hall, 24 March 2012

Review for Birmingham Live! Pictures: Katja Orgin.

Clad in black, leather and chains, black spiked hair, oh and don’t forget the face-paint – tonight in a warm Wolverhampton, all the way from Hollywood, California, comes the crazy world that is the world of the Black Veil Brides.  It’s the highly anticipated re-scheduled date, after lead singer Biersack had an argument with a drum riser, sustaining concussion and a broken nose at a Luxembourg gig last year. 

The Black Veil Brides consist of Andy Biersack on vocal duties, Ashley Purdy on bass, Jack Pitts lead guitar, Jinxx on guitar and Christian “C.C.” Coma on drums. 2011 saw a series of accolades on the back of their second studio album ‘Set the World on Fire’ including MTV Favourite Breakthrough Band and Revolver magazine 20 best albums of 2011. This is part of a seven day run that sees them throughout the UK, tonight here in Wolves it’s a sold out gig – tickets just £15.

First up support comes from Finnish glam metal band Reckless Love. I didn’t get there in time to catch them – but if you want to find out more – check them out on their website.

Up at 8.30 – D.R.U.G.S (acronym for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows) – an American post hard core rock band formed in 2010. Debut album ‘Sex Life’ was released on the 22nd February 2011 – lighter in parts but still full on rock featuring addictive choruses. Live they are far heavier – and tonight are very loud and very screamy, with a commercial twist. And they get the crowd screaming too. Clearly the “new” rock breed, full of youthful angst – vocalist Craig Owens is energetic, leaping around the stage getting the crowd fully engaged in clapping and singing along. He climbs on the security railing, a walking balancing act – singing above the crowd, “That’s one of my favourite shirts – ripping it off my fucking body” – he’s shirtless now – much the girls’ delight. “One last time – make some fucking noise – we are D.R.U.G.S.”. Half hour set of energetic, heavy, addictive full on rock – with great stage craft from the boys – these guys won’t be playing the support fiddle for much longer. And just to add to that – when I escaped, Owens was out the front, by the merchandising stand, having his picture taken with fans.

Wolves Civic is, and always has been, a great venue. It’s high ceiling gives space to a mid-sized venue, and it’s a pleasure to come here to a sold out gig and not feel crammed in like a sardine. And there’s always a good vibe here – cosy, yet not claustrophobic. Tonight’s audience is very young and full of face-paint (girls and boys – some more successful than others) and they start chanting – “Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides, Black Veil Brides” – it’s 9.15pm – they really should check out the twitter feed for when the band is due on – 9.30pm. And bizarrely, as we wait, the speakers play out Foreigner’s “Cold As Ice”….

So after lots of chanting, screaming as the roadies do a full on, serious, rock gig sound check (the drums are gonna be loud tonight)  – then to a massive eardrum exploding scream from the crowd, and on time, on come Black Veiled Brides, to hundreds of hands in the air, half of them capturing the moment on cameras and phones.

Black Veil Brides are a big stage band – Biersack encourages the screaming fans and they lead off with  ‘New Religion’ followed by ‘Youth and Whiskey’ –  the whole band are hugely energetic, full on rock n roll. “Wolverhampton – we are the Black Veil Brides – been a while since we’ve been here – you fucking okay?”  After a couple of tracks we’re presented with ‘Rebel Yell.’ Yes that track originally done by one Billy Idol. A faithful and direct cover version – with twice as much drumming – the drummer “C.C.” clearly thinks he’s Tommy Lee (as shown even more by the blindfolded drum solo later in the set)  – and he is indeed highly proficient.  And to fit the rock n’ roll image – there’s all the sexual innuendos you would expect – the band “dressed” in black, well – from the lower torso down – just about.

“This is from our first record – last tour before we start making another record…” and an ‘exclusive’ hint that the new album with go “back to basics” and we’re into ‘Children Surrender’.

Biersack is certainly an enigmatic frontman – energetic, giving it all – “I have a confession – I’ve fucked up the entire setlist – this one called ‘Love Isn’t Always Fair’” and next up more chat –  “Wolverhampton – this is one of our favourite shows in a long time – if you follow me on twitter – think should have more songs which are hygiene-based – this ones called I want Shampoo”(aka ‘God Bless You’) an “in” joke with his twitterati.

A complaint that there isn’t enough bras and panties on stage “this is a rock n’ roll show you know…” For the lead in to ‘The Legacy’, we’re told they’re here for all the “outcasts” and that the one thing they stand by is “…in this life you can either fall by the wayside or you can leave a fucking legacy…”

Well the one thing that you would not say about Black Veil Brides is that they are original. They are the bastard offspring of KISS and Motley Crue – that is clear – and they have taken every single element and brought it to 2012. From the make-up, the glam rock n roll persona for the ladies and smaltzy expletive ridden “are you having a fuckin good time?” – they have taken the template that made the original bands multi-millionaires. In saying that – they do a hell of a job of it – they are great fun – and if you like your rock on the glam face-painted side, then they’re for you. And they’re hugely professional and very talented. The world of rock goes in cycles – so is it really time for good fashioned old glammed up rock n’ roll to re-appear? Whichever way it goes – it’s great to see a new generation rising up to bring kids into the world of rock n’ roll baby. So look out Black Veil Brides, and for D.R.U.G.S, ‘cos I’ve a feeling they’re about take on the world.

KISS sang “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” way back in ’91. They certainly gave it to the boys of Black Veil Brides. In bucket loads.

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Listening:

Black Veil Brides: Set The World On Fire [2011]

D.R.U.G.S.: Sex Life [2011]

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