Archive for August, 2009


Review: Chlöe/New Beautiful South (M-Club, 22-Aug-2009)

Having never been to a full-fat gig at the M Club, I can safely say the 1,000-capacity venue works a lot better when there’s more than a handful of people in attendance; the crowd was about 400 strong, and it was a whole different place!

Opening proceedings was Chlöe with a solo acoustic set, and while the lack of a backing band made the performance quieter than normal it was in no way less powerful, and despite being all on her own on the M’s somewhat voluminous stage she avoided looking lost and showed that she’s got the talent and presence to stand out from the crowd, so if you’ve somehow managed to miss any of her many local performances these past few months make sure you head to Live in the Park this Saturday.

I’ve never really considered myself much of a fan of the Beautiful South so was surprised to find I knew pretty much everything they played; the “New” lineup consists of three original members and six additional musicians but the loss of some familiar faces doesn’t seem to have affected their sound at all, so if you own one of the seven million or so records they’ve shifted in the past 20 years you would have been happy to hear the familiar sound. They did occasionally stray into bland easy-listening territory and gave a rather frightening light-jazz Kenny-G style interpretation of an ELO classic, but despite my misgivings I found myself unexpectedly singing along to the chorus on more than one occasion and had far more fun than I felt I had a right to!


Review: Sumo Kings + Support (Box, 14-Aug-2009)

I’ve just got back from an impromptu holiday — sun, sea, sand, and tacky amusements over in Scarborough — so thanks to occasional contributer and all-round superstar Mhari Gordon for this review of the Sumos headliner at the Box.

Well done to The Box, who dished-up another budget-friendly night of live music, three bands for a fiver. First-up was Saskia May. They’re a four-piece playing meaty, metally, rocking indie, which varies from thrashy, to the lighter, American end of the indie spectrum, so something to please everyone.

The singer’s petite frame belied a deep, rich, gutsy voice. Her vocals harmonised well with the rest of the band’s sound. Sadly on the night, something wasn’t quite right with the vocals, possibly due to a rushed soundcheck. The guitar, bass and drums all did their job.

Saskia May have a decent sound and they delivered promising material, but I look forward to them gaining more stage confidence and a greater complexity in their playing. I wanted them to show a bit of passion, a bit of movement, a bit of energy – I’m sure they’ve got those elements; they just need to release them on stage.

The Electric Kools came next. They opened with strong, strung-out chords – their musical recipe probably includes three grams of 1960s and a tab of pyschedelia – which immediately demanded attention.

The drums, bass and guitar come together well, creating a cohesive sound. Extracting sitar-like noises from the guitars, while remaining fast and rocky they create a drawn-out and spacey soundscape, akin to late-era Beatles or Kula Shaker. Occasional use of effects on the vocals contributes to the heard-from-a-distance, trippy sound.

Late-on in the set, another influence appears, with the vocals referencing South Asian music. I can’t quite pin it down, but I’m thinking classical Indian chanting by way of 1960s Bollywood soundtrack. The singer has a Roger Daltrey circa 1968 haircut, always good to see a bit of classic retro.

The Electric Kools’ set might benefit from more changes in pace, but I definitely enjoyed them, there was energy, creativity and good interaction with the crowd. They’ve inspired me to re-read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

Playing their first Box headliner were the Sumo Kings. No surprise to anyone when the Sumos kicked-off in straight-at-ya style, the dancefloor filled quickly. The Sumos have been working on a demo EP with producer Mike Bell (Babyshambles, etc) and their sound is definitely evolving; tonight they were sharper, with a paring-back in the guitars.
There’s no shortage of energy at a Sumo Kings gig, epitomised by the crescendos of Steve (guitar and backing vocals) and Faz (vocals and guitar) singing on Disco Lights, and by the ferocious, driving drums and bass. At the break of Space Monkey, the Faz directs the mic at the crowd and we duly oblige by yelling, “Space Monkey has gone missing!” right back at him.

After a proper showman build-up, Faz finally jumps off the stage and dances about with his guitar among the crowd. The stage is too high to climb back onto though, so he’s a bit late returning onstage, but no problem as Steve, Ad (bass) and Jamie (drums) keep it all together. And the audience is able to sing, “You should know, I’m not a sex machina” until he gets back to the mic.

Sometime later, the Sumos pick-up their instruments again, for a very unofficial after-show party, playing a couple of their own numbers and then a few, shall we say experimental, Oasis covers. All in all, the Sumos’ natural mix of mayhem and lightly-worn professionalism.


Playing catch-up

A week’s worth of stuff all condensed into one (short) post…

Studio Promo at the M was more of the same, with a wide range of genres and degress of competence on show; with four bands for a measly quid it’s a pretty good night out and if you’ve not been to one yet they’re well worth a punt (although if you’re over the age of 21 prepare to feel old compared to the vast majority of the audience!)

On Thursday Flight 505 played at the Raven (which, despite it being 100 yards from home I’d not yet got round to visiting) and as always gave a solid performance of some classic 60s/70s rock — it’s not really my era so there were only a couple of tracks that I recognised, but if you like the Stones, the Who, and other bands of that ilk then Al and the boys should be right up your street.

Speaking of Al, he provided the PA for Saturday’s Vinefest, and although I only caught a few hours of it it was a great show.  Inclement weather rmarred the first hour or so, but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the bands or the crowd.  I only caught the end of the opening act (there was a hefty queue at the bar!) but what I heard was pretty solid (although Voodoo Chile was perhaps a bit overlong).  They were followed by Firestorm who seemed to have one or two sound issues (the guitar was barely audible) and still have a ways to go — putting their rendition of Enter Sandman against the Junkyard Dogs’ version was rather telling.  Chloë did what they do best, and new drummer Goose performed brilliantly on his first appearance; I won’t go in to too much detail as it may cause unrest and I’ve covered them several times before, but you should definitely make an effort to catch them at work!  Hair Metal coverists Junkyard Dogs gave an inspired performance, belting out a non-stop barrage of Whitesnake, Ozzy, Metallica, Bon Jovi, and many more classics; the frontman could have easily passed for David Coverdale, with the full range of rock poses and microphone antics, and their sound perfectly captured the spandex-laden era that refuses to die.  A combination of beer and other commitments meant I had to skip the Barflys, but I had a cracking time and look forward to Vinefest ’10!


I’m back!

Ok, vacation over, and I’m feeling refreshed and invigorated so it’s back to the grind. I’ve got a few odds and sods from the past couple of weeks to cover (Flight Five-O-Five, Studio Promo, Vinefest, etc.) which I’ll update over the next day or so, and having not been paying much attention this week the only gigs I’m currently aware of are Foulplay at the Brunswick this Friday and Studio Promo at the M on Wednesday. More to follow when I’ve got my act together…

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