Monday 28 September 2009

Witness to the Beard - The Cavendish Arms

The Mighty Beard are mightily funked up tonight, with obligatory welcomes to friends and family who've travelled a long way to be hear tonight.

They're fast, they're urgent, they are storming. Tonight they are basement punk.

Less grunge than last time, more polished to, starting to come into their own, more confident. The sound of wearing wellies and jumping in muddy puddles.

"Come on strap, don't fail me now!"

The Beard Army in attendance whipped into their chant of "Witness! Witness! Witness!" Will one day Wembley echo with the same?

Aw man, Hayley, the drummer, singing a sultry cover of the Saved by the Bell theme tune, that's gotta go down in the history books of tv theme cover versions, with Clockwork Bear's cover of the Raccoons theme and The Red Bull Dozer's Littlest Hobo.

Kalorie - The Cavendish Arms

Aw man, this place is packed. Maybe picking a seat at the back to look moody and mysterious was a bad idea. Its a nice seat, but there's plenty of folk standing in front of me.

The band on stage look like Girls Aloud with guitars, sequins are in. They sound like commercial rock, raw but well designed. There's something a little disjointed about the first song, the way the guitar cuts out when the backing vocals kick in, or the quiet bits for the bass riffs, it leaves you hanging in mid-air.

I'm not sure if they actually sound like Sugarcoma or if its just my futile grasp of teengirl soft rock.

Surprised that they have a Myspace page and a busy Facebook group but there's no sign of them on Songkick. I'll soon sort that out... One show now and a couple blurrycam shots.

Well-informed howling guitar riffs, bits of soul in the vocals and mid-eighties epic soundtrack too. The mix is a little clunky, a bigger venue and more time sound checking could do them wonders.
They swiftly turn the crowd into converts.

They lose three points for using the cliche "Now we're gonna take it down a little bit".

I'm still wondering who they remind me of. Not The Sahara Hotnights, Kalorie are too commercial for that. Shakira? The one with the glasses? Anastasia?

Ooh, who were that bunch of teenage girls who played last year's Indietracks? Kalorie are better than them.

They lose another two points for a fast rock cover of 'Fever'. It probably seemed like a good idea in rehearsals, but really, even I've recorded my own version.

HDIF presents: White Town - Jamm

When I heard that White Town were playing, Jyoti Mishra's first gig in about ten years and, oddly, his first show in London, I jumped back in time to hearing 'Your Woman' on the school bus in the late nineties. It was raining and the folk on the back seat were making a racket, but the song cut through it, the trumpet sample easy to get, as we strained our ears to follow the story in the lyrics. Blonde girls trudge past wearily, the bus slowly pulls away from the stop outside the pub where I was to get my first glass collecting job a few months later. Someone far away making music on his own, in his bedroom on a laptop, wait, did they have laptops that long ago? Probably in black and white, in mono.

Tonight, Jyoti looks much like I remember seeing him in Smash Hits, he hasn't aged. He's sat centre stage with and acoustic guitar, I fear that the sample/loop/laptop original songs will be played in a stripped down acoustic MJ Hibbett style, but luckily he has backing tapes.

Its gentle friendly music, laid back and a little sleazy, but in and unthreatening way. The guitar's through handful of effect pedals and the vocals have a touch of reverb.

The songs all sound kind of familiar although I swear I've only heard two of his tracks before, Undressed and Your Woman which are saved until the end of the set. The crowd goes a little wild, cameras a videoing, singing along.

"Free gigs, you can always get your money back,"

Friday 25 September 2009

HDIF presents: Arthur and Martha - Jamm

According to some sources, I'm Arthur and Martha's biggest fan. I like them, but I feel my friend Robbie would like them more, if only he didn't live hundreds of miles away from any gigs they play.
They have great grooves. You know, a little krautrock, a little disco, a little twee. Lots of wires, they probably know arcane arts of programming too.
Neat between song banter too; chess and Gary Kasparov reference; NME reference, "They said this was our best song, and they know more about music than we do."
"The only song you'll hear tonight inspired by the works of Rachel Stevens"
They announced that this was going to be their last gig for a while as they have to write new songs. Of course if you haven't seen or heard them before they're all new songs. Or they could play mixed sets of old and new songs, there are ways and means.
Cover of Johnny Cash's Jackson, where have I heard a cover before? Was it last time with Arthur and Martha or The 10p Mixes in Sheffield? The krautrock veneer cracks slightly as they seem to be enjoying themselves a little too much.
We patiently await the new material and the return of Arthur and Martha.

HDIF presents: Cavalcade - Jamm

Aw man, it took me so long to get here. I have to make a quick getaway at the end so I drove here and forgot that I have no sense of direction.
When I finally stumble in, I've missed the first band, and I guess the first few songs of Cavalcade's set. Very lush and pastoral, a little bit jangly too, I can imagine listening to this whilst cycling through forests. Hmm, I hear drums, but see none on stage, just three chaps with two guitars and a bass. I hear keyboards too.
The place is quite full, but quiet bits between songs give way to lots of background conversations. Its a bit of a mixed crowd too, some young, some old, tonight's headliner is from the nineties. A couple of familiar faces here too.
Halfway through the set I start to hear the spirit of Muse in the lead guitar and vocals. There's a little of the Joe McAlinden to the vocals too, that breathy trailing thing. Some of the finest whammy bar work I've heard on the lead guitar in a long time.
Cavalcade have something special about, well worth catching the whole set next time they play.