It is now 2 days after this gig, and my ears are still ringing. To say that it was loud with be a gross understatement. Superfluous descriptions just dont do it justice… To the untrained ear (heck, to most trained ears), this is was the sort of noise you’d frantically try to turn off if you heard it coming down your headphones.
Regardless, the Fuck Buttons domain is noise. the kind you don’t want to hear. Grating square waves, saw waves, distortion, screaming - its all there. So about now your wondering why anyone would bother, and theres a few very good reasons. They have found something. somewhere inbetween their noise there is a peacefulness and calm you just don’t expect. Its like an hard electronic version of Sigur Ros, perhaps mixed with God is an Astronaut. They have reached cult status in the experimental scene, and their most recent album, Tarot Sport is a testament to this, with a cohesiveness end to end, that you seldom see in albums these days.
If you like abit of hardcore post modern stuff, and you can get your head around the headache inducing aspects of it, there is alot to learn and enjoy from their music. check out the sample below, and go see em live, if you dare.
Those strangely beautiful lads of Mumford and Sons opened the night with a scorching set, filled with their quirky mix of blue grass, folk, country and rock. Its a testament to their music that they’ve reached cult status with the under 21’s - a somewhat unexpected feat for a bluegrass/folk band. While it wasn’t long before they had a pleasant mosh pit happening, that it was just as quickly cut short by their short slot. Naturally the crowd was much aggrieved by this, with boo’s echoing out after shouts of ‘more’ fell on deaf ears. (I have to agree - Q Awards - the format was an epic fail… Next time only do 2 bands and give them decent set lengths!!) Mr Hudson came out and did well to turn a hostile crowd into an appreciative one, but that glamor pixie Paloma Faith came out and proved why we will likely be hearing alot more from her in the coming year, with her Amy-Winehose-without-the-fail, sexy style.
Any fans of Mumford or Paloma would do well to catch them live - check out some samples:
Much like the beautiful gamalan band Sekar Enggal that opened, you could just close your eyes and float away to the serene music. Max Richter was supported by a string quintet - 2 violins, a voila and 2 cellos - and ensemble and sound put Clint Mansells night at the Union Chapel to shame. Which is ironic, I suppose, considering he got a standing ovation, while this night the Chapel was (pleasantly) not even sold out.
The very first piece, from Memory House, encapsulated the whole night for me - layers upon layers of sublime melody, starting in the cello’s, the in each violin, and before you notice it, you hear the subtle viola singing out in reply. The last track before interval began quietly, but built up until a gutteral bassline thundered under the music, like an organ playing the low pipes with all the stops pulled out. It was startling, and quite effective, making me want to hear Max in a Church with an organ that could do him justice on that piece. The crescendo in the finale, too, was also executed with such empathy and finesse that it made the hairs on the back of you neck stand up. It was not suprising after a night of silent reverence from the audience that he received a standing ovation. I suspect this show will end up in my Top 5 shows attended in London… only time will tell!
The night was part of the Marginalised series, supporting the Margins Project for homeless people… its a good cause, so go check it out if your so inclined.
heres the first track sample:
Another gig, another new folk darling… This time Johnny Flynn at Transgressive Records 5 year anniversary showcase. Union Chapel was full to the brim with adoring fans, none of whom were disappointed as Johnny launched into tracks from his debut album A Larum, with full band.
Always the consummate musician, Johnny played guitar, mandolin, violin, trumpet and banjo flawlessly. Even without his wonderful songs this was an impressive feat, and only made the performance more amazing.
I first discovered Johnny at Laura Marling’s Royal Festival Hall folk showcase, when he played a satisfyingly rootsy version of one of his tracks. I hoping to hear a few more rootsy, freetime solo tracks, but realistically with full band backing this was unlikely. We did get a solo performance of ‘trains’ from his upcoming EP as encore, which served as a good consolation. Never-the-less, this was a enjoyable, solid performance that went down extremely well with his fans, even earning him a standing ovation at the end.
heres a sample:
For the 2nd week in a row I find myself in awe of the production and sound at a live show, this time with Massive Attack. The style in which the executed their show was an awesome experience. The ever dynamic ensemble of Massive Attack performed with any number between 2 and over 7 people on stage, yet the sound never seemed to be compromised. In full flight - double drums, brooding bass, ripping synth and guitar riffs, silky vocal melodies - and for all the layers, there still seemed to be space in their music.
While so many other bands of their generation are washed out parodies of themselves, Massive Attack have kept their vision and resolve, and are still very much relevant today. Apart from musically hitting the mark, their show was well targetted. The weekly trash-filled headlines flashed across their backing screens, followed by more thought provoking political newslines, as if beckoning us to form our own opinions. Then, in a simply epic 8 minute version of ‘Safe From Harm’, inspirational quotes on freedom and current politics encouraging the audience to think for themselves.
They are just about to release a new EP - ‘Splitting The Atom’, to precurse a new album arriving early next year. So steam on the Massive Attack Juggernaut - if you get a chance, go check them out - I was suprised how much I enjoyed this show.
Tori, Tori, Tori - does she ever get tired? and do we ever get tired of her? its unlikely judging by the show Tori put on last night. Adorned in bright orange, spandex-like leggings and what was more like a long cape than a miniskirt, she looked like some intergalactic shamen with long bright orange hair to boot. Her show also puts many other artists to shame with fantastic lighting and a cohesive, contrasting sound in comparison. It clearly pays off to have a good ear for sound and a Sound Engineer as a husband!
She played alot more of her newer stuff, and at that, a strange collection of her more stadium oriented bits and pieces. I must confess of course, that I much prefer Cabaret Tori (like the Savoy show earlier this year) than Stadium Tori - give me Tori and a piano any day! She even said at the Savoy show that she would get to play alot of stuff she wouldn’t be attempting (ie her more acoustic repertoire) on her main tour. None the less, this made no difference to my appreciation of the night -Tori is always abit of a religious experience for me, like going on a pilgrimage to see old friends.
Having seen a pretty disturbing ‘one under’ on the tube over to see her, I was hoping Tori would play ‘Happy Phantom’ (which doesn’t feature much in her setlists these days) to put myself at ease with seeing Death up that close… So to whoever you where, I hope your life was full, and that you moved on quickly. You will be missed by those around you, and by one passing stranger too. rip.
Beth Orton provided an opportunity to reminisce the 90’s with a retrospective tour following the ‘legacy’ rerelease of one of her earlier albums, ‘Trailer Park’. La Pigalle was also the perfect place to catch her in an intimate acoustic setting, although this time around we had to do without chairs, as it was standing room only (probably due to the kitchen being closed).
She started loudly with her vocal processing playing up abit, but very quickly grew into her stride, singing classic after classic. I’ve never considered myself a diehard fan, but the conviction of her performance and strength of her writing was self evident and drew everyone there into her world. She seemed quite scatty and insecure sometimes, but this only helped enamor her to the audience.
heres a few tracks:
Sarah Blasko is yet another impressive young singer songwriter with perhaps not as much coverage as like that which mainstream contemporaries like Missy Higgins enjoy. I cant say I was hugely familiar with her work, but her myspace, Triple J airplay, and well priced tickets encouraged me to give her show a punt.
Suprisingly, unlike the folk/pop on her current album, she took to stage with a jazz trio supporting. The reinterpretation of her songs was quite pleasing in this format and she mixed it up with a range of old and new. She has quite an interesting voice, reminding me abit of Angie Hart from Frente!, or Yael Naim at times.Check out her new album ‘As Day Follows Night’ - she’s worth the listen!
London festivals are a dime a dozen, but Get Loaded In The Park seems to have audience vote - maintaining a reputation for being a small, quirky festival with a good atmosphere. This and the fact its one of the last festivals on the summer calendar attracts a wide range of londoners up for their last summer fling.
This years Get Loaded fare was a strictly electronic menu. On inspecting the programme, it turned out i’d be missing 2 (The Bloody Beetroots, Mstrkrft) of the 7 I was interested in, but fortunately my more prized choices remained intact (Miss Kitten and The Hacker, Royksopp, Orbital, Steve Aoki, Peaches).
My timetable for the day was:
Marina and the Diamonds
Sneaky Sound System
Felix Da Housecat
Miss Kitten and The Hacker
The only thing that detracted from the day unfortunately, was the sound. the Dim Mak tent suited the DJ’s well, but naturally was the least complicated tent. Miss Kitten suffered from no vocals for a good 5-10 minutes of her 30 minute set in the Clash tent. Royksopp could have been farting into the vocal mics for all we knew it was so woofy. The Main stage, directly in front about 20 metres back, (where there should have been perfect sound) lacked body, and suffered from phase issues (high speaker set where not fixed to the frame, but hanging in the wind). Fair enough i’m probably harder on sound systems and engineers than most, having come from that background, but - I paid for a ticket - I expected better sound, and professional engineering. For the final headliners, Orbital, we resorted to standing next to the left speaker stack, which, turned out not being such a bad idea - sound was great, and we edged into the front row, about 10 metres off center, giving us a great view also.
Heres set 3 of 3 30 minute sets by Orbital:
Proceedings for the night began in much of the same vein as it continued through out - a short film introducing a small community of friends and folk musicians who work with, and influence each other. They are the babes of the new folk scene in London which is slowly growing, and tonight included stirling performances by Laura Marling and band, Alessi’s Ark, Ethan Johns, Andrew Bird, Johnny Flynn, Mumford & Sons, Pete Roe, Peggy Sue and Sons of Noel and Adrian.
It sounds like quite a large gathering, and it was - a truly eclectic mix of styles with a total of 24 songs for the night. One would expect that the additional acts would be merely a distraction to the main event, but this certainly was not the case. Laura introduced the audience to the wonderful music of her friends, who put a convincing case together that this was also just scratching the surface of the untapped folk talent out there. I’m certainly going to be listening to many of them in alot more detail in the weeks to come.
It was great to see Laura in a different context to the solo aspect I experienced at the Hoxton gig some months back. Tonight she was accompanied by a keys, drums, cello, fiddle and bass, which all filled out the textures in her songs nicely. I couldnt help but draw some comparison between her and Nick Drake’s ‘Way To Blue’ when she sang with the cello. While I think she has already attained alot of the influence on others that Nick Drake had, I hope she has a much longer and prosperous life than he acheived. Her new album tracks are as good as - if not a growth from - her debut album, and I still strongly believe she has alot of potential as an era defining songwriter - the next Joni, Suzanne or Tori, and I personally cant wait!
Heres a few tracks from the night: