Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Live Review: Interpol and the Maccabees.

So last night I went to the Birmingham Academy to see Interpol. I got there at 6.55 and there was already a rather long line from the door. After getting in and realizing I'd forgotten my camera (annoying considering we got past security without even a glance and they were confiscating cameras from other people) I got a place as close to the front as we could. Alas, tall people with big hair got even closer but ho hum.

The Maccabees were the very-out-of-place support, although the three Maccabees fans in the audience went crazy for them. Generic British Indie. There was some nice guitar lines and the rhythm section was very competant but the singer's voice just annoyed the bejesus out of me.

Still. They were over pretty quick and they we had to stand around for an hour in the ridiculous heat waiting.

Pioneer to the Falls opened the set and made that wait worthwhile. It's a great big lush epic of a song and I was pleased that there were people singing along. I was afraid it might be an ultra-serious crowd. They proved themselves to be anything but, and there was dancing apleanty to Slow Hands and the like.

Carlos D commanded the right side of the stage, dressed in his usual dandy/cowboy attire and working a bass guitar like only he can, whilst Daniel Kessler played some mighy fine guitar on the opposite side. There was a wonderful moment where Daniel hit a wrong note and Carlos and him shared a look. Interpol: They're human beings now, no longer robots! As if to prove that Paul talked to the audience a bit. Mostly just "Thank you" but also "That one's called Mammoth" and "This one's a love song". I'm not joking. There was a nice mix of material from all three albums and Say Hello to the Angels, NARC and Pace Is the Trick alike all sounded great.

The main set ended with the epic Antics highlight Not Even Jail followed by PDA which arguably has one of the finest endings to a song ever.

We then had to work very hard for the encore. I think it may well have been a full five minutes of clapping and cheering and chanting. Once again the effort was worth it though, and we were rewarded with the midtempo brooding Leif Erikson and the storming full on post-punk attack of Obstacle 1

A good time was had by all. I believe Interpol's current tour is sold out, but do your damndest to catch them when they return in November. Our Love to Admire is out now and whilst perhaps not being as good as the first two albums, is still definitely worth purchasing. Failing that, the Mammoth single is out September 3rd.

Stay groovy. Next live review: Rilo Kiley.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer Sundae 2007 Review

In which Miles reviews his lovely local music festival, Summer Sundae, which is held in and around De Montfort Hall, Leicester.

So I've been putting this off for a week due to laziness.

Let's begin with an overview: SSW07 was absolutely brilliant. It is my favourite music festival, by far.

What? What do you mean it's the only one I go to? I don't see how THAT is at all relevant.

I'll get the dross out the way first. The Pigeon Detectives were completely awful. In fact, Neil of eFestivals said that "they bored much of the crowd rigid, to the point where said Pigeons were slagging off the crowd between each song for ignoring them". Awful awful awful. No talent, no charisma, no good songs.

All three of those could also be applied to Kate Nash whom I obviously avoided seeing but could hear from the campsite. Her voice still hurts and her lyrics are still rubbish. I guess I do get to do my Nash bit again: If you think Kate Nash's lyrics are "so true", that doesn't mean she's a good songwriter. That means you've made some TERRIBLE life choices.

!!! turned out to be a bunch of rather good musicians fronted by an extremely irritating frontman who I would not mind shooting. He totally ruined them for me.

Right, The Good Stuff!

Spoon were always going to be a highlight for me. They played a great set (including my favourite Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga cut, Black Like Me which I wasn't expecting) and I met Rob afterwards and got him to sign their setlist and he was lovely. Other highlights: Don't Make Me a Target and The Beast and Dragon, Adored. Oh and of course The Way We Get By got a good audience reaction.

Jeremy Warmsley was a nice surprise. Prior to the festival I only knew Dirty Blue Jeans and was expecting either a one-man-and-his-laptop or an acoustic-singer-songwritery set. But no! Full band indie pop was the order of the day, and rather wonderful it was too. Dirty Blue Jeans was a real stormer and a somewaht epic piano ballad closed the set in great style.

Low are a band I've always meant to investigate and never got round to, but I was instantly converted by this live performance. Their vocal harmonies are just astounding, I think I could listen to them forever. Highlights: Canada (which I am now addicted to), (That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace and Dragonfly but really their whole set was one big highlight.

Oh and I high-fived Alan Sparhawk. It was awesome.

The Divine Comedy were thoroughly wonderful on Friday night, bringing sophisticated lush chamber pop, spot on critique of modern society and, um, smut to the main stage. Neil Hannon sounded amazing and probably had the best rapport with the audience of any act I saw this year. Highlights: Opener To die a virgin, unexpected Regeneration slow burner Mastermind, the romantic gallop of Tonight We Fly and dramatic mini-epic closer Sunrise.

Malcolm Middleton was wonderful on the main stage midway through Sunday afternoon. Break My Heart and We're All Going To Die may be gloomy, sad songs but they certainly made me happy.

Maps put on a great live show and packed out the indoor stage, sounding much more expansive than on record. I'm still not sure what to call them. Shoegazey-postrocky-electrotwee? To The Sky was a highlight for me because it's the only one I know.

Candie Payne was unexpectedly quite good. Bond-themes, circa the 1960s. Also this might be a big lie but I want to say it: surf-rock meets Northern Soul.

Gruff Rhys put on a great show on the indoor stage a little later, from behind his giant cardboard TV. In fact at the moment where, after playing and looping a whole variety of different instruments to build up a giant wall of sound, he sat back and put on a pair of 3D glasses - he was the coolest man on Earth. The full 19 minutes of Skylon! was great and the two girls who danced (and I mean properly danced) all the way through it are my heroes.

Ending the festival on Sunday was Spiritualized doing their Acoustic Mainlines show which, frankly dear reader, was nothing short of beautiful. Possibly the most amazing thing I've ever seen live. Highlights: Anything More, Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space (which inspired a mass sing-a-long) and a new song called Soul On Fire.

So, yeah, great weekend. Roll on next year. Or in my case, Monday. Weeeeee, Interpol!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

An August Update

Hello. My, it has been a while. Just a few quick things.

1. The Hard Fi album art thing. The "No Cover Art" thing. They've failed, it quite clearly has cover art. Deliberatley chosen colours, font, words. That's cover art. And so there is as little to be excited about on the outside of the album as there is on the inside.

Oh come on, it's Hard Fi. They're rubbish. FACT.

2. The new Rilo Kiley album. HMMMMMMM. On the one hand, I am sad that there is none of Blake's usual giant walls of guitar rock. On the other, they're making really really nice pop music. I think I'm gonna like it, but sort of wish they hadn't brought in the hip hop producers.

Go here and listen to Silver Lining from it. And admire the album art. Oh, Jenny. *swoons*

3. GIGS. I'm actually attending some for once. I know, natty. 1 - Summer Sundae this weekend. 2. Interpol at Birmingham Academy on August 20th. 3. Rilo Kiley at Birmingham Academy 2 on August 31st. Feel free to say hi, on the tiny tiny tiny off-chance that anyone reads this that doesn't know me already.

4. I may work up a full review but if not: Spoon's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is fantastic. Buy it already.

Right, y'all stay groovy. I'll try and remember this thing exists more often.