Archive for Live From London

Live From London : Frankie Lee, St Pancras Old Church (12/11/2015)

Frankie Lee is a travelling man, that much was plain to see straight from the opening lines of his set opener at St Pancras Old Church, “East Side Blues”; “When I’m on the south side, I got nowhere to roam, sit and watch the sky fall down, a stranger in your own damn town”. The track speaks of pining for a simpler past, and described in the writer’s own words as, “An ode to the capitalist investors and developers who’ve destroyed every side of town and built shit that won’t last”.

Many of Lee’s songs adopt this weary traveller lens on the world. “Queen Of Carolina” sees Lee observe, “I’m rolling down the back lanes of my mind, a switchblade girl is carving up a star, she can be the world for blind and bleeding hearts”. In between the miles that roll by, Lee sets to reflect on tracks such as the eponymous track from his debut album, “American Dreamer”; “Everything is the same as it was before, the rich keep killing off the poor”. Set against the familiar Americana smokey voice and harmonica and acoustic guitars, one is left in no doubt that Lee is one of the new generation of disaffected American youth, drifting through the neighbourhoods left behind and ignored Wall Street bankers and Washington policy-makers. One cannot help but be reminded, while watching Lee, of those lines from Father John Misty’s, “Bored In America”;“They gave me a useless education, a subprime loan, on a craftman’s home”.

It’s clear where Lee finds refuge in the modern America where the same old problems are still to be found. On “High And Dry”, dedicated tonight to Lee’s home “right in the middle of America”, he sweetly praises his father’s trusty old motor and his mother’s “songs from the rodeo”, before telling us all to “grow your own”, though what crops is left to the imagination.

All these songs seem to give off the radiation of swampy heat, rusty convertibles and the polka dot shirt and cowboy hat that Lee is sporting tonight. Its gives a warming effect on a rather windy and wet evening, where the barren autumn branches can be seen through the windows of The St Pancras Old Church. Lee’s sincerity and candour can be seen through the between song chatter, and I can certainly see London taking to the infectious persona of Lee.

Live From London : The Cribs, The Roundhouse (28/10/2015)

More than a decade has passed since Wakefield’s famous sons, The Jarmans burst onto the early Noughties indie scene. Fittingly, this Roundhouse show was presented by the band as their rightful return to Camden; a place that has launched them into the consciousnesses of the London based music industry. “I think we’ve now played every venue in Camden” observed bassist, Gary, and he can’t be far wrong. I have personally seen them play Koko at the opposite end of the road, as well as The Forum in Kentish Town, less than a mile’s walk northwards.

Unlike bands who jettison their old crowd favourites for new songs in order to promote a new album, The Cribs’ setlist draws mostly from their 2007 release, “Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever”. Set opener comes in the form of album track from said album, “Ancient History”, and it is greeted as rapturously by the crowd as any of the indie club favourites The Cribs are known for. Just as timeless as their set selection is the crowd’s reaction; within 3 songs, the front rows are already giving off the unique evaporation of chucked beer and spilt sweat. The band accordingly go through the early songs with helter skelter haste, blasting through the likes of “I’m A Realist” and “C’mon Be A No-One”, while the first airing of a song from their latest album, “For All My Sisters” in the form of “Different Angle” sees it shorn of its subtler pop sensibilities for a fast and furious live rendition. The pace relents little until breakthrough 2002 hit, “Another Number”, a vintage demonstration of an era when a wiry guitar riff can form the entirety of a bands persona. The crowd obligingly chant along, “duh duh daduh doo de duh”. While the old favourites keep on coming in the form of “Hey Scenesters”, “You’re Gonna Lose Us” and “Mirror Kissers”, new tracks, “Summer Of Chances” and “Pacific Time” demonstrate why “All My Sisters” was so well received by critics. The Cribs now can write a pop song to sway rather than jump to, and lyrical content take on a philosophical edge too, with lines such as, “Nature versus nurture, which one is the stronger?”

The encore is another music industry custom the ever-rebellious Jarmans do not conform to. After a suitably drained floor erupt in one final bop-along to arguably the band’s best known song, “Men’s Needs”, Ryan tells us “This is the final song, there will be no encore” in the manner of a conference host preparing their guests for the need to check up on their travel plans. Set closer, “Pink Snow” is well worth staying for however, an epic seven minute song blending their ability to combine reverb driven riffs with moments of punky energy. With this demonstration of a decade of career hits, The Cribs continue to cement their position as one of the leaders of their generation of bands.

Live From London : The Cadillac Three, Dingwalls (10/3/2015)

With a name that sounds like the re-imagining of a violin trio by the cast of Easy Rider, it should have come as no surprise that The Cadillac Three drew to Dingwalls a crowd packed out with denim jackets, plaid shirts and free-flowing male hair. Viewed by many as much needed purists on the country rock scene, Nashville natives, The Cadillac Three are certainly unashamed of living up to Southern cliches ; swigging JD from the bottle? Check. Trucker caps? Check. Shouting “grab your partner by the hand”? Well, not quite . . .

What is beyond debate is that The Three love their home region. “The South” name-checks Southern states from Carolina to Florida like a continuation of the train travel narrative of Johnny Cash’s “Hey Porter”. If that was not enough to get the message through, “I’m Southern” finds singer, Jared Johnston proudly declaring, “I’m Southern, and it ain’t my fault!”

A muscly live proposition, The Cadillac Three bang out the meaty riffs with baccy-spittin’ ferocity. “Tennessee Mojo” is a case in point; a three chord head-banger that lives up to its title, with Johnston proclaiming, “All the pretty ladies wanna hold my hand” like he was Matthew McConnaughey reincarnate. The audience certainly showered the band with enthusiasm, moving Johnston enough for him to compliment London as being like a second home. The year spent touring debut album, “Tennessee Mojo” has paid dividends with lyrics sung back from the audience with impressive frequency and accuracy.

With rock legend endorsement from the likes of Chrissie Hynde, found lurking at the back of the venue on the evening, The Cadillac Three certainly have the songs with attitude that radiates cruising down an empty freeway for the summer holidays. Though as it stands, the lack of variety in the subject matter and song structure of The Cadillac Three repertoire still makes 80 minutes in their company seem like time spent with Kings Of Leons’ less travelled and less interesting cousins.

Live From London : The Wytches, Scala (03/12/2014)

Despite their fresh-faced appearance, Brighton trio, The Wytches draw on the lineage of feedback-drenched rock running from the Pixies to Nirvana via 00s Brit bands, Nine Black Alps and The Subways, with a sprinkling of The Horrors debut LP’s cartoon goth-ness. As The Libertines’ recent comeback shows prove, audience appetites haven’t faded for down and dirty rock n’ roll, and tonight at Scala, the crowd head-bang from the first song onwards, with crowd-surfers already emerging by second song, “Burn Out The Bruise”. By the first change of pace offered by “Wide At Midnight”, spots left untainted by spilt beer after the support acts had been lost, and any December chill had been well and truly shaken off.

Singer-guitarist, Kristian Bell flits between murmuring and screeching his scratchy vocals, which evoke Vines’ frontman, Craig Nicholls. This is best exemplified on opening track,“Digsaw” from debut LP, “Annabel Dream Reader”; the record has been referred to as a break-up album, but it is far from typical; many of the lyrics on the LP read like a young lost soul wrestling with their post-relationship self in a shroud of psychedelics-fuelled allegory, such as the cryptic lines from “Beehive Queen”, “If I beat in a plastic bottle could I be a boy? She said “no”.

As enchanting as The Wytches can be with their psych-surf riffs and menacing thrash-outs, when they slow things down for “Weights And Ties”, it is hard to discern the emotional fragility that the band seems to want to convey. It can be a difficult balancing act to both wear the mystical aura of goth-rockers and to also make grown-men well up. Perhaps, they may be best advised to look at The Horrors’ approach to break-up songs, with Faris’ eery rendition of “He Cried” by The Shangri-La’s in “Who Can Say”, a palimpsest in how to speak of pain in a detached and aloof way.

Live From London : Pale, Shoreditch House (24/11/2014)

Pale are a London-based electronica band who make pensive, emotive tunes. Currently gigging as a two-piece, their show at Shoreditch House in East London tonight saw their songs stripped bare and reliant on vocalist Alan’s silvery delivery and sparse guitar riffs, with mid-tempo beats coming from his partner, Lee’s drum machine.

Showing influences from chil-lwave bands from the US and the stripped-bare aesthetics of the debut James Blake album, several of Pale’s songs deal with romantic entanglements and heartbreak. This theme runs through from older songs such as “Too Much” to songs on their latest EP, released via Soundcloud this September. Particularly impressive tonight is “New Man” off “The Comeback EP”, which sees Alan repeat “I’m a new man, I’m a new man, I’m a happy man” with the air of dissonance of a patient asked to repeat these words by a relationship therapist.

The band also have songs aimed at getting the crowd swaying their hips. “Two Wrongs” displays traces of Sebastien Tellier-like disco flair, while “Silence” has a mature and broody feel. Pale’s set befitted the mood of Shoreditch House’s intimate library bar, with the shimmering light from the room overlooking the nearby skylines of Bishopsgate and the Square Mile. It will be interesting to see Pale perform their new EP in bigger rooms in the future.

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