Archive for April, 2009

Sisters of Mercy - HMV Forum, 9 April, 2009

April 14th, 2009

Sisters of MercyBack in my darker days, the Sisters of Mercy where something I’d always turn up the volume to 11 and enjoy, so it seemed right to pay my respects and see them live.

The audience, suprisingly, was rather keen, and I struggled for a good seat, even tho it was just after doors had opened. Looking around the room was like stepping back in time - More Big Hair than a Kiss gig? check. Enough smoke to lose a battalion in? check. Crevats, poet shirts and fetish outfits? check. Sunglasses in a dark room? check.

The Sisters of Mercy havent recorded anything for 15 years, following a feud with their recording company, and have since become a touring band only. As such I was expecting to hear alot of new (or rather, unrecorded) stuff, but the majority of the set seemed to be released material, which I certainly wasnt complaining about. It was clear they had worked out their live act and look - lights so epic that all you saw of them was the statuesque silhouettes flashing through the thick smoke. Andrew mumbling through his apocalyptic prose in his deep dulcet voice. Guitar riffs long forgotten, but still so good.

In all the shows i’ve been to, this was clearly the most passionate audience i’ve ever come across. It was nice to be in a room full of people who felt that likewise, the music had been an important part of their lives. Considering the total lack of recent recordings, the fans have obviously decided to continue supporting Eldritch on stage.

On a personal note, they played ‘Lucretia, My Reflection‘, and for that alone I am sated. (All I want now is a Body Electric teeshirt. I tried to buy a shirt there, but sadly, it would seem unreasonable to expect the mechandise store to stock XL or L size shirts… )

The recording didnt turn out well, due to pretty bad sound on the night, but heres a track anyway: (you can hear the crowd really getting into it…)

Sisters of Mercy - Lucretia My Reflection.mp3

Laura Marling - Hoxton Bar and Kitchen, 30 March 2009

April 7th, 2009

picture by luptonn - http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=marling&w=93717952%40N00

I’ve reviewed Noah and the Whale already, but I must say I’ve been looking forward to seeing an ex member, Laura Marling more, simply because of her stunning debut album ‘Alas I Cannot Swim‘, which showed maturity and songwriting prowess well beyond her 19 years.

I went with a few friends who are fans, and my unsuspecting girlfriend, who was not yet aware of Laura Marling’s music. Hoxton Bar and Kitchen itself is a trendy place off Hoxton Square, which served quite a tasty selection of food and beer. The performance area itself was a smallish concrete room, which soon became totally packed out to 300 enthusiastic fans.

Unfortunately, even with 2-3 sound engineers chipping in it soon became apparent we were in for a long night, with each act arriving on stage later and later. First was Sixtoes, a group of guys with an acoustic Anthony and the Johnsons kind of sound, who were quite pleasant to listen to. Then came the longeur of the night - Polly Scattergood. Its been along time since I’ve suffered through such a pretentious, contrived tripe (even at the level of an opener). From the laminated setlist, bad song lyrics, and a total lack of genuineness in performance. I read somewhere a review calling her ‘the new Tori Amos’. As an avid Tori fan, all I can say is no… just… No.

Laura finally made it on stage at 11:15, (after it took 45 minutes to set up 4 or 5 microphones in an acoustic setting) and it became clear that the wait was well worth it. In contrast to Polly, Laura’s clever, honest and well written songs quenched my thirsty ears - her execution was simply honest and beautiful. She played many non album tracks, perhaps signalling that a new album may be on the way soon, either way, she was utterly captivating, holding the entire audience in awe. She had Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons performing with her, and they complimented each other really well.

If Laura continues to make music like this for the rest of her career, she’s going to be huge. I’m looking forward to her returning. Heres a few samples from the night:
Laura Marling - My Manic And I.mp3
Laura Marling - Rebecca.mp3
Laura Marling - Oh Mama How Far Ive Come.mp3
Laura Marling - Ramblin Man.mp3

heres a few cool reviews:

http://www.crazybobbles.org/2009/04/01/laura-marling-isnt-in-kansas/

http://www.egigs.co.uk/index.php?a=12900

http://www.nme.com/news/laura-marling/43799

the photo above is from Luptonn’s flickr: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=marling&w=93717952%40N00 (many thanks to him!)

Ben Lee - Indig02, 25 March 2009

April 7th, 2009

My girlfriend is a huge fan of Ben Lee’s album ‘Awake is the New Asleep‘, which is not suprising, as it was a bit of a bolt out of the blue when it was first released, even earning Ben Lee an ARIA award for Best Male Artist and Best Independent Release in 2005. (interestingly, the same year Missy Higgins won Best Female Artist - a much needed acknowledgement to young australian songwriters, rather than the usual schmaltz that wins such awards)

After managing to acquire free tickets (thanks O2 :) to see his only london show, an exclusive private show at Indigo2, I took my gf through the O2 metal detectors and pat down, and into the club. The first openers The Parlotones put on an energetic set of tight panted rock, and the second openers, The Ruby Suns, put on an interesting set of, from what I could tell, carribean-progressive-electro.

Ben Lee came on in a typically playful mood, joking around not just between songs, but also during them, adding verses, and silly solo sections. While he comes off as cocky to some (even covering the hate-song ‘Ben Lee’, by The Atari’s), I feel he doesnt take himself to seriously and just enjoys writing bouncy pop songs. Overall I enjoyed it, and my gf was over the moon when he played the big numbers from her favorite album.

so without further-a-do, heres a few tracks:
Ben Lee - Into The Dark.mp3
Ben Lee - Surrender.mp3
Ben Lee - Catch My Disease.mp3
Ben Lee - We’re All In This Together.mp3

Alex Lloyd - Troubadour, 24 March 2009

April 6th, 2009

Those of you who know Alex Lloyd are familiar with his overwhelming popularity in australia, and the recording industry poster boy image that went with it. He originally arrived on the scene as a young but talented songwriter with his unassuming debut album, ‘Black The Sun‘. With it, and the few albums after it, he cemented his place in Australian pop culture.

10 years later, things have significantly changed for Alex Lloyd - he’s married, had a kid, and like many artists are doing these days, he’s moved on from his Major (EMI). Thankfully the change appears to have brought with it freedom and a fresh perspective, in the form of his new album ‘Good In The Face Of A Stranger‘.

Alex played 3 shows at a small club in london, obviously as a warmup for the Australian tour he’s about to start. 3 of my friends and 50 or so other fans crammed into the Troubadour venue in Earls Court, and watched the 2 openers, Cosmo Jarvis, and Natalie Nahai, who were both worth listening to. Eventually, Alex came out on stage quietly, and began his acoustic set, consisting on roughly equal parts new and old songs. While he seemed to enjoy the anonymity of playing a small venue in a foreign country, but he became aware most of the audience were aussie fans. He mindfully left ‘Amazing‘ off the list (possibly due to the surrounding copyright furor), disregarding the occasional request for it, and played whatever came to mind.

Having not seen him live before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially considering the past commercial sell from his old recording company. I’m happy to say I was pleasantly suprised with his quiet musicality and simple delivery of his beautiful songs. I have a feeling he’s touring with band in australia, but I still recommend you go see him if you get the choice, as it may be a while between drinks after this tour.

heres a coupla tracks from the night:
Alex Lloyd - What We Started.mp3
Alex Lloyd - Beautiful.mp3