Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's Spanish for "You robbing bastards"?

Wow, that photo looks familiar. I've emailed their managing director. Let's see what happens.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Well, will you?

While you ponder that, here's Helen Boulding from last night...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Indelicates live at Manchester Ruby Lounge

Delighted that The Indelicates were just as good live as on record - an excellent show tonight, comprising most of the new album. Hope to see them venture North again soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

KT Tunstall - Preston

Another good set from KT last night - I've lost count of the number of her shows I've seen now. I do feel that some of the spontaneity has gone - or at least, the evolution - it used to be that every time I saw her (even at short intervals) the arrangements of the songs had developed, which seems to be less the case now, with little changing since the shows I saw last autumn.

Having said that, it was an excellent set, good value for money, and her banter has taken a turn for the demented which certainly kept people entertained. Not the best audience, and not the best venue - Preston Guid Hall is not really designed for standing shows and has terrible sight lines if you're at the back or in some of the seats.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Half Century

Yes, I count the comedy shows. I believe this makes 50 for 2008... and it's only April. With 11 gigs, April is the joint busiest gigging month I've ever had, equalled only by February 2005 - but one of those shows was an in-store, and these are all full shows.

January 31st - Stars, Manchester Academy 3

February 4th - Laura Veirs, Night & Day
February 14th - Sheryl Crow, Scala
February 15th - Smashing Pumpkins, MEN Arena
February 23rd- Tegan & Sara, Leeds Met
February 26th - Kate walsh, The Lowry

March 1st - Tegan & Sara, Manchester Academy 2
March 8th - Laura Marling, Manchester Academy 2
March 16th - Lucy Porter, The Lowry
March 19th - Kathryn Williams, Bury Met
March 21st - Spamalot, London
March 24th - Long Blondes, Faversham, Leeds

April 6th - Sorry I Haven't A Clue, The Lowry
April 8th - Long Blondes, Manchester Academy 2
April 9th - Portishead, Manchester Apollo
April 11th - Bjork, Apollo
April 12th - James, Liverpool Academy
April 13th - Portishead, Wolverhampton Civic
April 15th - KT Tunstall, Preston Guild Hall
April 17th - Indelicates, Ruby Lounge, Manchester
April 20th - Helen Boulding, Sheffield Boardwalk
April 22nd - Hotel Cafe Tour, Manchester Club Academy
April 30th - Adele, The Lowry

May 2nd - Gemma Hayes, Manchester Academy
May 22nd - Feist, Palace Theatre
May 25th - Martha Wainwright, Bridgewater Hall
May 26th - Paul Merton, The Lowry
May 28th - Bruce Springsteen, Old Trafford
May 29th - Avril Lavigne, MEN Arena
May 30th - Feeder, Manchester Academy 3

June 4th - Bat For Lashes, Liverpool Academy
June 7th - Thea Gilmore, Manchester Club Academy
June 10th - Robyn, Manchester Academy
June 15th - KT Tunstall, Delamere Forest
June 17th - The Police, Manchester Evening News Arena
June 20th - Def Leppard, MEN Arena
June 21st - Crowded House, Westonbirt
June 23rd - Goldfrapp, Bridgewater Hall

July 4th - Bangles, Sheffield Academy
July 5th-6th - Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire
July 9th - Ben Folds, Liverpool Academy
July 11th - Kylie, MEN Arena
July 14th - Kylie, MEN Arena
July 17th - Kylie, MEN Arena
July 29th - kd lang, Bridgewater Hall

August 17th - V Festival, Staffordshire
August 24th - REM, LCCC
August 25th - REM, Cardiff

October 12th - Glen Tilbrook, Manchester Club Academy

December 19th - James, Manchester Central

Any votes for "Need to stay in more"?

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Another good set from Portishead tonight at Wolverhampton, marred slightly by drunken morons who pushed to the front shortly before the start of the set, and then proceeded to talk until the crowd told them to shut up. Last seen in the entrace to the women's toilets crying at the end of the show. Ho hum.

Set list exactly the same as Manchester (I must have imagined 'Only You' because they didn't play it tonight) but the 'wow' factor hadn't disappeared with a repeat viewing.

Portishead live in Wolverhampton, April 13th 2008
Portishead live in Wolverhampton, April 13th 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Come Home

So tonight was the third time I've seen James play live (four if you count a 3 song promo appearance for a Birmingham radio station, but I don't - so it's three). I'd previously seen James perform two very different sets, the first a peversely hit-free festival set and the second a deliberately fan friendly homecoming gig to celebrate their reunion.

Tonight's Liverpool Academy show struck the correct balance between the new album, of which they played the majority, and doing some old for the faithful which went down a treat. Tim Booth still dances like his limbs are independent of his body and a good time was had by all. Despite missing the likes of Laid and Sit Down there was plenty to keep everyone happy over the course of a two hour set. Oh, and they were introduced by someone quite famous... see the photos below.

In contrast to Bjork, seeing James tonight certainly made my mind up, and I'll be booking to see them again in December with Athlete as soon as I can.

Peter Kay introduces James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08

Friday, April 11, 2008

Declare Independence

It's not been a good week for support acts. Tonight's was a DJ who basically seemed to be playing ambient effects more than anything else, before changing horses mid-stream and giving the audience some Bowie (Fashion) and Rockstar (N*E*R*D). Either way it was a waste of 45 minutes from my perspective. I never caught her name. Don't care to find out.

As I alluded to yesterday, I've never been quite sure about Bjork. She's someone who I know that I should like, but never quite find myself reaching for the records. My usual process with this is to just get on with it and go to a gig where I'm forced to listen to the artist and make my mind up once and for all. Sometimes it converts me completely (see Ben Folds), other times less so (Amy MacDonald)

Her show tonight was something of a mixed bag, musically. No real complaints about the set list - lots of the new album, but plenty of the older material - Hunter, Army Of Me, Pagan Poetry and quite a few others, but it sagged a little in the middle with some of the newer material and the associate skittering beats and electronic noodling.

The one thing I can say unreservedly is that she knows how to put on a show - from the opening burst of fire for Earth Intruders, to the laser show, flags, projections, costumes, a spider web type contraption that she threw out into the audience during Hunter and the epic glitter strewn finale of Declare Independence it was impossible to take your eyes off the stage. By the end the crowd had lost their collective minds and the gig had turned into a massive beat driven rave with all hands in the air and Bjork leading a call and response of "Raise Your Flag / Higher Higher" conducted amid a seemingly endless flurry of glitter.

Strangely, I still don't know what I think about her. She's a great show-woman but I still don't particularly want to listen to the records!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Firstly, I'm sorry to say this, but A Hawk And A Hacksaw are among the worst support acts I've ever stood through. The crowd were more than respectful to them, but it wasn't the best 45 minutes I've ever wasted at 'the barrier'.

But that's beside the point. It's been nigh on 11 years since I last saw Portishead live, so last night at the Apollo was pretty special. It's amazing how little has changed - Beth hasn't changed a bit, Adrian seems to have gained a bit of weight but that's about it.

It was a great performance, if a little brief, and I've never heard the sound so good there. Nice to hear all the old stuff (who knew I'd be so glad to hear 'Cowboys' which I previously thought of as something of an act of sonic terrorism) and it was a nice new arrangement of Wandering Star - the rest of the evening was pretty much as on record. The new stuff is growing on me - slowly, but the crowd gave Machine Gun a good reaction. When "Mysterons" started, it's fair to say they went nuts.

Beth's an amazing vocalist but not the most charismatic frontwoman, and her stage fright still shows. She seemed incapable of anything more than apologies for her silence between songs. The lighting was subdued, and she never ventured more than a third of the way to the front of the stage. Good projections - very good use of the single handheld camera at the front of the stage.

I'll be glad to see them again on Sunday in Wolverhampton - I'll be over the "Bloody hell, that's Portishead!" factor and watch the show a little more objectively, maybe.

Set list:
The Rip
Glory Box
Magic Door
Wandering Star
Machine Gun
Sour Times
Only You
Nylon Smile
-- Encore Break --
We Carry On

Bjork tomorrow, also at the Apollo. A bit of trepidation about this one - I've always felt I should like her more than I actually do, but have never previously had the chance to see her live. I'm hoping she does some of the older stuff (Army Of Me et al) but I'll take it as it comes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Back to the angry, then. Why must every single album I buy these days have an "iTunes exclusive" version with a couple of extra tracks?

Long Blondes - 2 extra tracks
REM - live tracks
James - track by track commentary

Stop it. Now. Thank you.


I devote an unnecessarily large amount of this blog to complaining, so it's somewhat surprising to say that I found my fellow gig goer today to be a complete delight.

Early this morning I picked up a wristband for the James in-store session at HMV in Manchester, and was told not to be late, as they'd be "on stage at 12:30".

Suffice it to say that we were still stood outside in the freezing cold at 12:55 and my hopes of seeing the set, much less getting the album signed in my lunch hour were pretty much nil. When we finally did get down to the room where the set was to take place, it was after one, and I decided to give up.

Step forward the couple in front of me in the queue (her at least six months pregnant) - "We'll get your album signed for you, it's no problem."

And come three o'clock, I met them in the Coffee Republic near work, and they passed me a fully signed copy of the album, complete with the comments "missed you" and "here now" from the band.

Signed James album

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


So, the new B-52's track on the Word CD is pretty good, and I've lined up a signed copy of the album from Newbury Comics, so when the news reached me that they were playing Manchester Academy, I thought I might pop along. Until I saw the price tag, that is - £26 + fees.

I will be very surprised indeed if they manage to sell it out.

Conversely, Feeder are playing and it's £15. Both of those gigs for me would be marginal as to whether I'd bother going. At £15, I'll take a punt. Once you're over the £25 barrier, I'm out.

It feels like gigs are getting more and more expensive at all levels, and not for any fundamentally good reason. I suspect (and might well be wrong) that the upshot will be more and more two-thirds full mid size gigs... did the music industry not get the memo that a recession is on the cards?

Top Of The Pops

I quite fancied seeing Blondie/The Stranglers at Liverpool Pops this summer, but the promoter has deemed everything up to Row X (!) on the floor to be gold circle, and has also decided not to sell any of the front 'few' rows (I never saw anything further forward than Row T!) at anything less than £180 along with drinks and a buffet.

Here's an idea. If it's not close enough that I can make out the artist clearly or indeed from Row X, be certain that it's the artist I've paid to see on stage, it's not really sensible to classify it as "Gold Circle".

So fuck it. I won't be seeing Paul Simon at the summer pops. I won't be seeing Blondie. I won't be seeing Crowded House, and I'll keep my £150. All of them have this same idiot ticketing structure. I hope they're left with a load of unsold seats and the bands play to an empty front half of the venue. Or best case, the bands will be playing to people who've availed themselves of the free bar to make their money back and have more money than sense and more alcohol in them than interest in the band. Good luck to them.

The Liverpool Pops has always been a shambles, from over zealous security (New Order) to hospitality idiots ruining it for everyone by talking (and indeed taking drugs openly) (Pet Shop Boys) and their ticketing has always been ludicrously tiered, but they used to at least sell a few of the front rows to the people who want to the band. Apparently no more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


It turns out that Liz Phair's career is not dead after all, despite the low sales of Somebody's Miracle. A re-issue of Exile In Guyville is in the pipelines and a new album in autumn. Billboard article

I'm not sure how much market there is for a Guyville re-issue, especially one with just 4 bonus tracks considering the wealth of unreleased material (the Girlysound tapes really need a proper remastering job and official issue much as Lisa Loeb did with Purple Tape earlier this year) - so it feels like a bit of an opportunity missed, but I'd be surprised if I don't find myself with a copy come June...