Review: The Lemon Twigs – Roundhouse, London – February 27th, 2019

The Roundhouse is probably the handiest venue for me currently. A short journey on the Thameslink rail line from Luton to Kentish Town station and then a 20 minute walk from there to the venue. Easy!

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I arrived early enough, around 7.20pm. Support act Matt Maltese wasn’t due on until 8pm.

I found myself stood at almost the exact same spot I was in at the Franz Ferdinand gig last September…and I was getting a little apprehensive about it. I had fainted at the gig. The first time anything like that had happened to me. It was starting to play on my mind. But I just kept talking to myself, reassuring myself. Shortly after, I got chatting to a man next to me and it took my mind off it and distracted me enough for me not to worry and dwell on it. I also made sure that this time I had ample food and drink in me (and had water to hand should I feel the need to keep myself hydrated).

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Matt Maltese was quite good. I liked what I heard. He’s got a fairly “lo-fi” quality to him. Quite laid back. He performed several songs, of which Hello Black Dog was the standout for me. You’ll find a little snippet of it below. I’ll give his album a listen in the next few days. I really do think it’ll be something I’ll enjoy.

There wasn’t too much of a wait before The Twigs appeared. As soon as it hit 9pm, the crowd were getting restless…clapping and cheering for the guys to appear. On the Roundhouse FB page it stated they’d be on at 9.05 and there they were, almost on the dot and straight into Go To School opener Never In My Arms, Always In My Heart.

Michael had some of the girls in the crowd screaming from the off. Using all he gained from his years as a child actor, giving the most Jagger-esque of “rock star stud” performances.

Once done, Michael starts to talk about his meeting with legendary U.S. songwriter, Paul Williams, and how some mutual appreciation went on. To the point in which he says, “so I thought ‘fuck it, you know…and I sucked him off’.” Erm, okay Michael! Thanks for sharing! Lol. I got the distinct impression it was all bravado and very much tongue-in-cheek (or perhaps cock-in-cheek in this instance) and on they went into Foolin’ Around (which obviously he had been doing with his felating Paul Williams story).

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There is quite a distinction between the D’Addario boys. Michael is definitely the showman. All front, bravado, then pretend nonchalance. But, of course, the musicianship is there. Brian, conversely, brings the musicianship more to the fore with sublime vocals and maestro guitar playing (as well as some time behind the keyboard too). But he can let his hair down as well, but it’s always more controlled and more restrained to Michael’s bold theatrics.

It’s then Brian’s turn to shine, leading a wonderful version of Small Victories. Also on the amazing “influences worn unapologetically on sleeves” I Wanna Prove To You.

Other songs in the set included (sandwiched between the two songs just mentioned) This Is My Street, The Lesson, Hi & Lo, Light & Love, the beautiful These Words, Queen Of My School, Baby Baby, Tailor Made, Home Of A Heart, then a full showman display for The Fire – excerpt below – and finally As Long As We’re Together.

Instruments down. Guitars left playing feedback…the crowd were left wanting more. Only a few minutes were we left waiting for a solitary song encore of If You Give Enough.

Had this gig been on at the Roundhouse 50 years ago, it would not seem at all out of place. The D’Addario brothers really are not shy in melding all their influences together and spewing them forth. Everything is there. And that interplay between the studious Brian and the miscreant Michael is one that makes a Lemon Twigs gig really work. It’s showy, rocky, theatrical, brash yet sublimely rich musically. I left the gig wanting more. And I left so downhearted I had to miss seeing them play Saint Luke’s in Glasgow last week. But I also left knowing I’ll want to see them again and again!

Review: Ruts DC – O2 Academy Oxford – February 18th, 2019

My first time for a gig at Oxford – and at this particular venue. The venue is pretty small…would maybe hold 750 tops. I like these size venues though, esp. for GA standing gigs.

The support act was The Professionals, with drummer (and Sex Pistols legend) Paul Cook the only existing original member of the lineup. I didn’t really look up the support act before the gig, so it was somewhat of a surprise when my friend and companion for the gig said that Cookie was playing as part of the support act. I’m getting my quota of drumming legends in these days!

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And as I didn’t know the support act that well, I didn’t know much of the material performed, although of course Silly Thing sounded familiar to me when it started. I think if I have things right they also performed Just Another Dream and Join The Professionals. Pretty sure they also performed I Didn’t See It Coming, and probably did 1-2-3 as well. It was a fast pace set as you would expect from a punk outfit. Short, punchy songs. Lots of energy. I enjoyed their set. Sound level was loud. My ears were stuffed before the Ruts even came on!

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And as for The Ruts? Well, we were given the full theatrical intro for what is a 40th anniversary tour of their debut album, The Crack. With a backdrop of a huge canvas print of the album’s artwork, they played the whole album in tracklist order, starting with their biggest hit, Babylon’s Burning – which I filmed.

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And of course, they just got tighter and tighter through the set. Segs seems like he should have been the frontman all along to me. No disrespect to Malcolm Owen intended at all, just me wanting to give credit to Segs. He’s fab and just takes it in his stride. They found an absolute gem of a guitarist in Leigh and, speaking as I did earlier of drumming legends…hell! For me, Dave Ruffy is right up there as one of the best drummers around. Sublime effortlessness.

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The setlist is pictured above. Nearly 24 hours later, and my ears are STILL ringing. If you’ve never seen them live and you like this genre of music (punk/ska/rock/pub rock), get along to one of their gigs. You won’t be disappointed. Honestly, they really are one of the best live bands going round right now. They never disappoint, and last night was no exception.

Review: John Grant – Cambridge Corn Exchange – Feb 7th, 2019

Again, support was from E.B. The Younger, performing tracks from his upcoming release, To Each His Own. Songs performed included lead single from the album, Used To Be. Also performed were Out Of The Woods, On An Island, and Don’t Forget Me.

The harmonies that Pulido and Creamer have together are rather wonderful. Pulido says on his website that Harry Nilsson is a major musical influence, and it is certainly evident in Pulido’s own sound.

I will give the album a few listens on release, and will probably invest in a copy. I have enjoyed watching both of his performances. Below is a clip of him and Dan performing When The Time Comes. Also captured is Pulido’s banter and engagement with the crowd. He likes a natter, and that’s a cool thing in my eyes.

Once again, the crew went quickly into action to have John out on stage promptly at 8.45pm.

The first thing I have to say about the venue, Cambridge Corn Exchange, is it has great acoustics! And whoever is doing JGs sound gets it absolutely spot on, no matter what venue he’s at. Outdoors at festivals, indoors in mid-sized capacity theatres, or in more intimate places like Union Chapel in London – I am always impressed by the sound quality and volume.

The lighting on this tour has also been superb.

The show started with (possibly my favourite track on Love Is Magic – I grapple with either this or Metamorphosis being my fave track on the album) Tempest. Again, we were treated to all bar the complete Love Is Magic album (the only track off the album not performed was The Common Snipe), interspersed with tracks from his previous three albums. Tracks included Grey Tickles, Black Pressure – Pale Green Ghosts – Sensitive New Age Guy – Global Warming – Glacier – Sigourney Weaver – Fireflies – Outer Space – JC Hates Faggots – Queen Of Denmark – Black Belt – GMF – and the most beautiful version of TC And Honeybear…I was in a flood of tears. I find it just the most heart-wrenching beautiful song.

It’s an extensive set and was much appreciated by the crowd in Cambridge. And John was feeling the love too. I thought Glasgow was amazing last week, but everything was just somehow taken up a notch again at Cambridge.

I could watch John perform every single night for the rest of my life and be in raptures. He’s both funny and humble, can take the piss out of himself, throw shapes about the stage and look like a dancefloor mega god, and then sit at his keyboard and deliver songs with such elegance and poignancy. The man is absolutely amazing.

Review: John Grant at Celtic Connections – King’s Theatre, Glasgow – Feb 1st, 2019

Support was by E.B. the Younger – the moniker of Midlake vocalist Eric Pulido, soon to release his solo debut. Now THERE’S the connection – John, of course, working with Midlake for his Queen Of Denmark debut.

Eric was joined on stage by keyboardist Dan. The pair of them have great vocal harmonies. He performed songs from his new album set for release in early March.

His music is quite easy going and he established a good rapport with the audience and was even piggybacked off stage by Dan at the end of the set. I look forward to seeing him again on Thursday night.

The stage crew set to work very quickly to get things set up for John. Only a short break was endured before he arrived on stage with regular, established band members, including the incomparable Budgie on drums. The more I watch him, the more I fall in love with his style and realise what a truly incredible drummer he is.

All was flowing well. I have to confess, once inside the King’s, it did seem a little strange a venue for what is essentially a rock gig but the crowd were into it and we were enjoying ourselves.

About the fifth song in they started to play album opener, Metamorphosis, and there was a technical problem. The song was halted, crew rushed on stage to sort it out, and while the problem was being rectified, John sat is his still fully functioning (and unaffected by the fault) keyboard to perform TC And Honeybear – which is just the most stunning and beautiful song. I wasn’t expecting him to perform too many of his older tunes, so it was a real treat. Was almost thankful for the technical hiccup!

By the time TC And Honeybear was through, the problem had been sorted and off we went with Metamorphosis again.

Others in the set included Preppy Boy, Smug Cunt, He’s Got His Mother’s Hips, Tempest, Love Is Magic, Is He Strange, Touch And Go – pretty much the whole album bar The Common Snipe (at least I think he did Diet Gum as well).

Those in the set not on Love Is Magic performed were Grey Tickles-Black Pressure, Pale Green Ghosts, Global Warming, Queen Of Denmark, JC Hates Faggots, Sensitive New Age Guy, GMF, Black Belt, Glacier, Fireflies, Caramel and Sigourney Weaver.

The surprise…or perhaps disappointment…of the night was that he DIDN’T perform Marz! I was okay with that, but I’m sure other fans would have been disappointed. If they were, it didn’t show in the crowd’s reception. Standing ovations towards the end of the set and after every song performed as an encore.

The crowd loved it. You could feel it. And apart from the technical fault at the start of Metamorphosis, the acoustics and sound levels were great.

I get taken to another place at a JG gig. I just lose myself, esp. on the more emotional tracks. Glacier was beautiful and epic, as was Queen Of Denmark. And…Budgie has me in awe. I love that man!

Top class, as always. I don’t think JG could ever do a shit gig. Well, I’ve never seen one.

Bring on Thursday and Cambridge!

Getting Twiggy With It!

These guys really have been my new find and love over the summer. If it had not been for the Green Man festival and seeing some of their set there, I may not have discovered them. But, boy, am I glad I did!

Sadly, at the moment, Brian is off the tour with Arctic Monkeys, as he has taken ill. But hopefully he will be fully recovered for February’s headline tour of the UK. I’ve already booked myself for their London gig at the Roundhouse, and I am now seriously considering adding Glasgow to that list…but I’ll have to check how many days they are apart, and whether there are actually any tickets for Glasgow left! I’ll let you know…

(Magazine article from this month’s Classic Rock)

 

February 2019 – The Start Of Next Year’s Gig List

They are starting to line up like dominos! Firstly, today John Grant announced more gigs for early next year, including Cambridge Corn Exchange on Feb 7th. Caezar play Oran Mor again on Feb 15th – I’m def. going! I’ve also committed to Ruts DC in Oxford on Feb 18th, and now, the Lemon Twigs have just announced a gig at the Roundhouse on Feb 27th.

February is already getting very full. Wow!

Tossing The Coin – Real To Real Cacophony Advert And Reviews – 1979, 1980

I’m putting these two snippets together, as they are both to do with Real To Real Cacophony. One advert from a copy of the NME dated Feb 9th, 1980, with two glowing reviews from David McCullough and Ian Cranna (spelled incorrectly in the ad) – as well as a dedicated (and horribly scathing!) review from Paul Du Noyer in the NME, dated November 24th, 1979.

Mr Du Noyer…I’ve got to hand it to you, you didn’t sugar-coat things! But you also had enough self-awareness to take in that maybe you did lack some heart not to get any emotion from R2R. It isn’t all doodling and pretentiousness! Yes! It was dystopian in its outlook…but, fuck me! How many other 20 year olds were making music like that? It’s a travelogue precursor to Empires And Dance. Glorious in its objective to be so left field, so far removed from Life In A Day as to almost come from a different band just NINE MONTHS later. Listen to Citizen, just for starters. Fans take the piss out of Veldt…but I adore it. Genuinely! It has an exotic air to it. It’s an aural jungle…with a humidity and a sweat. Factory – seriously, man? You get NOTHING from Factory? You don’t know what it’s saying? Fuck! It’s a fucking Lawry painting as a song, you fuck! JESUS! He probably never “got” art, either, this guy. He says SM’s music expresses no emotion…yet he sounds like a fucking automaton! Scar…IT’S JG BALLARD, bellend! Sorry…people who don’t get their early stuff just endlessly get on my wick. Especially pricks like this bloke, accusing them of being overly clever-clever and up their own arse, when he’s just too much of a blinkered automaton not to see it. Dick.

Sorry. Rant over. Anyway. Enjoy. Lol