Thursday, May 22, 2014

Nine Inch Nails (leftover photos)

Nine Inch Nails (Live at the LG Arena 18/5/14)

I remember In Trent's interview with Zane Lowe last year he spoke about how the new shows were inspired by the Talking Heads concert film 'Stop Making Sense. I could see the similarities right from the beginning. Much like the film things started small, with Trent  playing 'Me I'm Not' in front of the floodlit blue stage, swaying back and forth while screaming out the lyrics. From here it only got bigger and bolder, rather than the usual video screens, NIN used projections, curtains and rotating lights. Due to the abundance of red and blue lights in places it really felt as if I was watching the whole thing in 3D.
A lot of the material was from latter period NIN, including 5 songs from 'year zero'. An album which is arguably Reznor's true masterpiece, while it lacks the emotional power of his earlier material, few albums managed to capture the mood of the mid 00's as well as he did on that record.

'Survivalism', me im not' and The Warning' both were on the setlist, and when Trent said he'd play us 'something noisy' we were treated to 'The Great Destroyer'. Thankfully little off 'Hesitation Marks was on the list with just Copy of A, Came back Haunted' and Disappointed (my one word review of that album) being played. The songs off Pretty hate machine that got played have had a real update, the tacky 80's production has been replaced with a much more modern sound*.
Trent kept audience interaction to a minimum, not saying an awful lot because he didn't really have to, apart from a gripe about 'playing those fucking festivals'.
Despite being treated to one of the most amazing visual spectacles I've ever witnessed, it almost felt as if he was testing us. As if seeing us go crazy for the lesser known tracks and fan favourites would mean we'd go mental for the classics. So imagine my joy when hearing the double whammy of 'The hand that feeds' and 'Head like a Hole'.
Following that double whammy, the stage went black and a massive NIN logo appeared on the screen, this 'encore' lead to the performance of 'Hurt'. Everyone in this massive room knew every single word to this incredible song. and everybody sung in unison. Hurt is one of the greatest songs ever written and it was awe-inspiring being able to hear it in all it's glory. 

and to the girl I met at this show, I'm very glad I've met you, fancy getting a coffee?

*though those drum machines and synths are a big part of why I love that Album.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cold Cave (live at the LG Arena, 18/5/14)

The B-town Blog: Telling you about much more than just the music. 

I was in the perfect mood for a nine inch nails gig by the time I'd got to see the supports, Cold Cave open. After showing up to the NIA, to find a Kids wrestling match, I looked at the ticket and realised for the first time that the NIA and LG arena's are not the same place. i also realised that the ticket said the show started at 7:30.  It was 7:30. I ask the taxi driver next to me how much it would cost to get a lift to the LG and he says £28(!) I tell him to fuck off and end up getting there for £20. the first thing i saw when i got inside the arena was about 10 stands selling food, a SEAT and a woman trying to give me a flyer.  the LG Arena is a very modern looking place, but it has a very corporate family friendly vibe to it. It was made to host Disney on ice, not heavy metal gigs.

I'm still a bit miffed that I'm there by myself, but I manage to sneak up pretty close to the front while Cold Cave are playing.

Cold Cave make the sort of music  you didn't realise people made any more. Gothtronica that sounds like it came straight from the 80's. A guy singing in a deep voice about how sad he is (probably) and a girl(?) making New Order-ish waves of beats. I over heard a few NIN fans saying they were shit, but I kind of enjoyed them. The singer made an interesting point about how there are no rules any more. You can make music in your bedroom and end up in an arena in a few years later. If there ever was a band whose sole purpose was to support nine inch nails then it's Cold Cave. If you own everything that New Order, The Cure, Depeche mode, Sisters of Mercy - and all those other goth bands from the 80's that I'm not cool enough to know all about- have made then you should definitely check out Cold Cave. Otherwise you should just enjoy them, if you do find yourself waiting for a better band to play.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Catfish and the Bottlemen (Live at the Institute review)

Ever been to a gig just because there was someone you wanted to be with?

I'd heard of Catfish and the Bottlemen before of course and had enjoyed hearing the songs on the radio, but it was only after hearing the uninspiring indie rock of Sabella that I really became excited about seeing CB+TM. You may have heard them on Radio One before or just heard of the hype. The story goes that a bunch of young welsh lads formed a band and used a Bed and breakfast in rural Wales as a base to launch their career from. The hype brewed and people started going to the B&B just to see the band play. Now the band have sold out gigs on this run, will be playing America soon and putting out a Debut album in September.
They remind me a bit of Stereophonics too, it might seem a little obvious due to the welsh link but Catfish wear black, sound reasonably similar and like Kelly Jones, Van Mcann is a singer who tells stories. He makes a brilliant frontman live, a genuinely cool guy fronting a great band. He can connect with an audience in a way few others can, engaging in banter and even talking selfies with the audience half way through the gig. Overall this was a very short show, which is forgiveable in such a young band, especially when that band has a run of singles such as 'Kathleen' 'Rango' and 'Homesick' to keep the crowd entertained. The little temple room of the institute was totally packed out, and while the crowd was nowhere near as rowdy as the bunch who saw Peace with me there last year, there were still plenty of people jumping about, waving, cheering and giving the place a great atmosphere.

Catfish and the Bottlemen are a strangely unique prospect in today's wave of indie bands. They don't come from any particular scene, and they aren't really up there with your trendy hipster bands. Despite the silly name they might actually be one of the few rock bands who could gain mainstream success without being either super trendy or totally wet.

Being lovely chaps they are, the band did a signing + greeting for all the fans (mostly ladies). I met Van, and he's a very friendly bloke. as it turns out 'Van Mcann' is actually his real name, he was named after Van Morisson and while his mum hated the name, it eventually stuck. I also said that I wasn't there by myself and that the girl I was with had gone off, he said 'maybe she didn't like the tunes'.
He signed my ticket and CD too.  I also got this photo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

KILLR PUNX Acoustic Show

Modern minds cancelled their headline set at the Killr Punx Acoustic night at TALK at the very last minute, despite the whole thing being first booked 2 months ago. Needless to say, they won't get booked again. This left  TALK looking very empty, with the two other acts Alex Moir  and Charlie Boswell  to fill in themselves.

Charlie was First, he's a talented bloke, a skinny guy in moddish clothes playing covers of songs by acts such as Oasis, the Verve, even a cover of 'Hurt'. The guy has clearly gone through a bad break up or two as his own songs are detailed confessions of heartbreak. Beautiful, melancholy pieces they were, but after about half an hour. Sitting there drinking a beer and listening to these songs in a pretty much empty pub made me feel a little bit depressed. It wasn't the guys fault of course but it takes a very special singer-songwriter to captivate an audience for 45 minutes. This sort of set would have worked at an open mic, but not this night.

Alex Moir is just about talented enough to pull it off. Coming across as a sort of hybrid of Joe Strummer, Marcus Mumford and Eddie Izzard. Some of his songs cover social issues, but without coming across as preachy or politicised. Every song sounded like he actually had something worth saying, which is refreshing these days. The Marcus Mumford comparison comes from his voice, a similar sort of howl to everyone's favourite waist-coat wearer. While his vintage shirt, bright blonde hair and air of general camp-but-definitely- not-gay-ness earned him the Eddie Izzard comparison.

He's a very talented guitarist and entertaining guy, and the banter kept on rolling non stop from the moment he walked into the room. Overall this was a bit of a flop. There was 10 people there including performers and staff.  So not a great night, but better than staying home watching Dr Who re-runs.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Rick Wakeman: Journey To the Centre of the Earth (Live at the NIA)

The B-Town Blog... bringing you the best in new, hip music.
Strangely enough this is the second time I have seen Rick Wakeman live. I think I once served him a coffee at my Starbucks too, though it only occurred to me later that it may have been him.  Anyway me and my dad went to see him perform Journey To the Centre of the Earth at the NIA the other night so I might as well tell you all what it was like.

The first half was just Rick in a blue suit talking and playing piano. He was introducing the people he'd be performing with and telling jokes and stories about how he first managed to get this project off the ground. David Bowie was a major influence, one of those people who kept on telling him to trust his own instincts and not let anybody else try to influence his view. Many of the anecdotes he told are published in his two brilliant grumpy old man memoirs and I'd heard a few during the last time I saw him. But It was still great to hear these funny stories again.
This section of the gig was only about 40 minutes long but  it proved that Rick doesn't really need to the orchestras or stage props to out on a good show. It was easy to lose yourself in the beauty of his playing, as a pianist the man is second to none.
The second half of course saw him trade his blue suit for his trademark cape. And one keyboard for about 5. Apart from the Narrator, and the lyrics in the songs there was not much else to tell Jules Verne's story.  there was no back projection, stage props or anything like that. In fact compared to what I've heard about the original 1970's performances this was pretty low-key. Having said that he was playing with an orchestra and a pretty huge light show.
While the story itself is a classic, the music wasn't quite my thing. Classical music is timeless yet Ricks Keyboard noises could only be from the 70's. Ricks Journey to the centre of the Earth really was a testament to the excess of the 70's and it makes an odd memento of that era in rock n roll.  In fact it was only rock n roll in an incredibly vague sense, with a handful of musicians playing guitar, bass and drums. For me at least the whole thing was much easier to enjoy as a live spectacle than an album. It was nice to sit back and enjoy the amazing musicianship, the story being told and the visual spectacle.  It was pretty good value for money at roughly two hours long and I did really enjoy the show. Once the story was over they played us an encore which included a keytar/guitar stand off and Rick walking around the arena in full cape playing Keytar solos (which sadly I couldn't get a good pic of). The crowd clearly loved every minute, the applause was immense and Rick was clearly touched by the reaction this show gets. What a great guy.

I almost bought a T shirt, which i thought I could wear ironically. This made quite a change from the more Punk rock gigs i've been going to lately. Cool? no. Not in the slightest, but still pretty darn good