Archive for May, 2009

The Whitest Boy Alive - Scala, 16 April 2009

May 22nd, 2009

photo by graham Racher - contrast from the Sisters of Mercy show, this gig was filled with the short-haired brigade - not a single mullet or teased up coiffeur in sight. I wasn’t expecting it to be that popular, and almost didn’t go myself, but the gig turned out to be sold out.

The Whitest Boy Alive came out at 9:15pm and lived up to their name, the drummer with his moustache and pineapple shaker, the lead singer in big school teacher glasses, and the bass player in tight white pants. If nerds wrote catchy rock / pop, this what be it. Like The New Wine before them, they’d done away with the lead guitar, opting for rhythm guitar, leaving the riffs and lead melody to a capable keyboard. Interestingly, they also all switched instruments at one point, in mid song, which was quite impressive.

I’ve always considered The Whitest Boy Alive to be alittle bit Royksopp, and alittle bit early The Cure, while they were still punk-pop (Three Imaginary Boys sorta era), but in performance they seemed more upbeat and electronic than I expected. They slowly wound up the audience into a bouncing frenzy, at one point even doing a parody of a parody - The Prodigy’s ‘Out of Space’.

Overall it was an unassuming, and energized set, with the band interacting with the crowd more and more. In their final encore the lead singer even did a full lap off the room and moshed on the dance floor, after being sung back onto stage by the audience.

heres a sample from the night:


Photo by Graham Racher:

The New Wine - Scala, 16 April, 2009

May 21st, 2009

I should have expected these guys to be good after the lead singer of The Whitest Boy Alive introduced them. Regardless, they started playing, and it was instantly clear that while they had there own style, they were quite similar to The Whitest Boy Alive’s sound. For such a young band, they played really well together, and are talented players, especially their keyboard player who wasn’t afraid to rock out the riffs (instead of the usual pad-playing keys man).

Their enthusiasm and music was strong enough that the audience were cheering and dancing, which is a response I haven’t seen much of from an opening act. Their demo was £3 well spent - I’m not sure if these guys are signed yet, but if they continue with their current form, it shouldnt be long before they are. They have a bright future ahead of them. If you get a chance, go see The New Wine and make up your mind for yourself!

Tori Amos - Savoy Theatre, 11 May, 2009

May 13th, 2009

Tori AmosTori once said ‘I may not always be caramel, but I hope I’m like a red wine that gets better with age’… And Monday nights performance certainly rang true to this. I was abit anxious about spending almost £100 on 2 tickets, even though I was one of the lucky ones to get some after her postponement… You see, I was half expecting a full preview of all her new album, but I still couldnt resist the idea of seeing Tori in an acoustic setting - something I haven’t experienced since my first (amazing) Tori gig in 1995.

From the first notes of her first song, my conscience was vindicated - as soon as I realized she was starting into a rarely performed cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, I was totally gobsmacked, in thrown into awe. This was quickly followed by a few new tracks from her to-be-released album Abnormally Addicted To Sin. In all, she played 5 new tracks, despite having said that most of the new album wouldn’t translate acoustically.

The red-haired Diva, like the fine wine she is, then powered through a swathe of known material, showing the depth of her back catalogue, without (suprisingly) even playing anything from ‘Under The Pink’. ‘Cool On Your Island’ made an appearance, though - which I suppose shouldnt be such a suprise considering its recent renaissance in her setlists - but still greatly appreciated.

Anyone who’s seen Tori live is well aware of her different voices, from furious devil woman to pure angel and back again. This was no more apparent than in ‘Welcome to England’, which, compared to its official recording, sounded alot more emotive - sweet and pure verses, and darker choruses.

Between Tori and Scott Matthews opening, this was definately a memorable night, and potentially the best gig of the year for me. Of course, its easy as a typically dedicated Tori fan to say that she was amazing, but she was in exceptionally fine form. If you get a chance to see her when she tours again with her band, do it!

heres a few samplers:
Tori_Amos-Mary_Jane.mp3 (link fixed…)

EDIT: Due to lots of requests, heres the acoustic ‘Welcome To England’ :

Scott Matthews - Savoy Theatre, 11 May, 2009

May 13th, 2009

Scott Matthews Scott was opening for Tori Amos, and as with alot of openers, you dont expect much, and hope that the main act will be on soon. But I found myself smiling when Scott started up…

As someone who is quite familiar with Jeff Buckley’s live music, I was quite suprised the amount of simularities between Scott and Jeff. From the moment Scott opened his mouth, you could almost hear bits of Jeffs lower register and turn of melody calling out to you, combined with his dreamy guitar style and Jeff-like use of reverb. Thankfully this wasnt some poor imitation - Scott clearly defined himself as his own voice with his own style music, and with songwriting simple and emotive. True his own unique sound, as other folk stylists like Laura Marling, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), even a solo Ray Lamontagne, to name a few.

As I was never fortunate enough to see Jeff live, I’m thankful to have experienced Scott. Surely one the best openers I’ve ever heard… I’ll definately be watching his career develop.

Heres some samples… He’s got a 2nd album coming out later this month called ‘Elsewhere’ - go buy it - I will be!


Eskimo Joe - Koko, 8 April, 2009

May 8th, 2009

photo by Kikishua - recent years, Eskimo Joehas been one of those bands that has successfully crossed from alternative to pop. Initially Eskimo Joe got alot of airplay on Triple J radio in Australia (the countries leading alternative radio station), but its with their last triple platinum album, ‘Black Fingernails, Red Wine’, they found their pop songwriting chops, and commercial success.

Evidently, their success wasnt just based on their album - their live show was energetic, well executed, while their new material was catchy and well rehearsed. Their ability didnt just end with their instruments - all but the drummer swapped between each instrument at least once; I’ve noticed its a prerequisite of success to be multi-instrumentalists these days…

Overall, it was quite an impressive show, and their new songs off the soon-to-be-released album ‘Inshallah’ sounded like good progress, and will sell as strongly as the last. Not bad for a bunch of boys from Freo!

Heres a few samples of old and new songs:

photo by Kikishua -