All a bit of a Blur

17 07 2009

Blur have been storming their way through their comeback gigs and are apparently theband to see this festival season. However, festivals have a nasty habit of forcing punters to make difficult decisions when it comes to choosing which bands to see, especially the headliners. Take Glastonbury for example, Blur on the Pyramid stage vs The Prodigy on the Other stage. Tough call I reckon. This got me thinking, who would be on the Other stage for me to pass on seeing Blur live.

The Prodigy: An amazing live act, their set at Glastonbury clearly proved this. The lighting alone was enough to send you crazy. Their songs are made to be enjoyed loudly with a big group of people, providing there’s enough space to jump around uncontrollably of course. Definately a band that needs to been seen live at some point but by the sounds of it they’re going to be jumping around and screaming down their illuminous mics for a while.

Muse: Many “best live act” awards have Muse etched into them meaning they must be doing something right. They always manage to create a set which blows you away through both the epic songs they have and the way they chose to visually express their music. For me, their gigs at Wembley Stadium in 2007 will go down as one of the best gigs in history. Reguarding the Blur debate I reckon I’d have to ditch Muse just this one time. I’ve seen them a few times before and they definately don’t shy away from touring. Can’t wait for the new album.

Elbow: Ever since their album The Seldom Seen Kid won the Mercury Prize they’ve been everywhere. The beautiful sound of thousands of people singing along to One Day Like This as the sun goes down is something I recommend you experience. As a headline act to rival Blur however, I don’t believe they have the right kick behind their music to end a festival with bang. Amazing live band though.

KIngs Of Leon: The last time I saw this band live I somehow ended up on the floor with a trainer squashing my face. After crowdsurfing my way out I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the set despite the muddy footprint I now modeled. If it was that manic a few years ago before the release of their number one album Only By The Night I can’t imagine how crazy it would be in their crowd now. I would be intruiged to find out.

65daysofstatic: A personal entry added to the mix. I presume I am in the minority when I say they are probably the only band that could seriously tear me away from a Blur comeback gig. Although I have seen them live many times I am still fascinated by them on stage, they truely mesmorise me and I find myself immersing into my own blissfully happy world at their gigs. This is probably a good thing as I’m not fully aware of how odd my “dancing” is! I mean how does one dance to post-rock? It’s impossible to remain motionless though. Moving on…

Oasis: Blur’s main rivals back in the day and I can’t help feeling that some of that rivalry still exists, even if it is down purely to the media. Both bands have recently played massive gigs as well as making appearances at festivals, the reprised comparisons are inevitable. Oasis are back on good form even though there have been technical hitches. However, it seems that Blur have the edge due to their absence in recent years. Their split was never properly laid to rest by fans and whether this is a chance to say a proper goodbye or welcome them back is unknown, making their gigs ones not to be missed. And that’s before mentioning that they actually look like a better live band now than the first time round.

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Dananananananana blog time! (think Batman..)

7 04 2009

Date: Friday 3rd April.  Venue: The Deaf Institute/Trof, Manchester.  Event: Bring On The Dancing Horses presents Dananananaykroyd, Favours for Sailors and Dutch Uncles.

The Deaf Institute. Not the best name for a gig venue, but what a venue. With a wall of speakers, giant disco ball and well decorated rooms this place has become my new favourite location for gigs (despite the high drink prices!). The sound is very impressive and it has got that real intimate gig vibe without feeling too overcrowded. There are even tiered pews to sit on for the chilled out few.

Right, down to business…

Now I know I appear to be picky with names today, I assure you I am not, but how could one resist on commenting on a band name such as Dananananakroyd! Surely it defeats many of the intentions of a band name? It’s hard to spell, takes a while to pronounce properly and yes, it is memorable but only in the "whats that band called with the huge Dan Akroyd name?!" But hey I guess it works as this self labled "fight-pop" band from Glasgow are making their way into the public eye having toured with Johnny Foreigner, Foals and Kaiser Chiefs.

Before the gig I’d only heard two of their tracks and although I quite liked them I wasn’t expecting anything overly different from their gig. I was wrong. The lead singer spent a lot of time in the crowd as did the guitarist who left his guitar to crowd surf for a while whilst a hyper group of teenagers fought to play it. The other singer/drummer was rarely still throughout the set as he hung off the balcony and leaped around the room in a pogo stick fashion. Surprising how he managed to get back to his drum kit right on time, everytime. Talking of drummers, there were two. Both with full kits and both drumming with a high level of skill, it was amazing to watch.
Halfway through their set all six members of the band stopped playing and joined the crowd for a dance off. Odd but very funny.

As for the music, I quite liked it. Fight-pop is an acurate description. It isn’t anything radically different or something to listen to for hours on end, in my personal opinion. After seeing them live however, their energy and enthusiasm alone is enough to convert many to be Dananananakroyd fans. And if the set didn’t work the individual hug the entire crowd got from the lead singer would have at least swayed them.

Supporting were Dutch Uncles and Favours For Sailors

Up first, thankfully an hour later than planned, were Dutch Uncles. The lead singer’s dance moves had me instantly transfixed, jolty yet fully lost in the music. As for the music it was catchy and enjoyable yet somehow different to many of the other young bands in a similar post-punk type genre. This difference is what grabs the attention whilst the energy from the music and the band members holds it. They clearly have decent musical and songwriting ability with a good, tight sound onstage. My friends and I thoroughly enjoyed their set, so much so several drinks and the bus ride home were sacrificed to buy their album. Worth it though as it has been played on repeat many a time since the gig (and they threw a free 7” copy of their single into the deal!).
With two tours of Germany already under their belt and Channel M’s constant praise Dutch Uncles are going to go far.

Favours For Sailors had a tough act to follow and personally I don’t think they did it well. Their songs sounded too similar to each other and many other indie acts around today. After the third song I must admit I struggled to keep interest. The fact the sound messed up didn’t help. I have since done a bit of googling on Favours For Sailors and read a few good reviews and after hearing a couple of tracks on MySpace I have found them to be better than I initially thought, maybe they were just having an off day…

Overall a good night. Mixed bag band wise but that makes it all the better. Far more to discuss on the long walk back!
Oh and also there were far more older people than I’d expected. "Fight-Pop" must be reaching the masses after all…





Frankly Mr T…

19 01 2009

Date: 17th January. Place: Barfly, Liverpool. Event: Frank Turner and band (support from Emily Barker and Chris T. T)

Around 6:30ish time for pre gig drinks in a bar far too trendy for its own good. Still as Becki, James, Jonny and I stumbled through the door like drowned rats we appeared to have a few less judging eyes staring at us than I had anticipated. We were enthusiastically greeted at the bar by 2 males and a female who had felt tip handlebar moustaches sketched onto their faces. Definately Frank Turner fans. Anyway after a few shots and many drinks whilst swapping stories the 7 of us, now all complete with tribute felt tip moustaches, made our way next door to the Barfly.

After somehow getting quite confused as to which room thegig was actually in we caught the second half of Emily Barker’s set. She seemed quite quiet and the beer fulled crowd were oblivious to their volume levels. I subsequently didn’t hear much of her. The small amounts I did hear  were alright although i’m sure it was just one long song with talking inbetween. Frank Turner thankfully joined her on stage at one point which made it a lot less bland than it was destined to be.

During the break between the support acts James and Becki took the opportunity to go back to the bar. Jonny and I offered to keep our spots in the crowd, a decision I later regretted as they returned seeming rather pleased with themselves. They’d not only managed to keep the majority of their drink in the cup, which I must confess was a pretty impressive achievement as the tightly packed room and hidden steps weren’t working in their favour, but they’d met the man himself -Mr Frank Turner. They’d also got a rather nice picture with him too, profile picture on facebook for both of them for the next few weeks no doubt.

Next up was Chris T. T. After seeing him on stage I realised he had been in the trendy bar before the gig getting harassed by the three Frank obsessed randomers. I had originally thought it was was due to his uncanny resemblence to Jack Black. Either the crowd had settled or he was louder (the latter, I reckon) but I was able to hear his set properly and i’m very grateful I could as I fully enjoyed it. His lyrics were actually quite funny without making him seem like he’d taken the Jack Black thing too far. One of his songs nearer the end of the set stood out inparticular, the lyrics were witty and enhanced by the fact he sang it accapella.

Finally Frank. I was quite excited at this point as I’d never seen him live before but had heard good reports. He didn’t disappoint. The setlist was as follows (according to a fan forum)
The Ballad Of Me And My Friends
Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
Imperfect Tense
Nashville
Live Fast, Die Old
Worse Things Happen At Sea
Substitute
Back In The Day
Vital Signs
Once We Were Anarchists
The Real Damage
Love Worth Keeping
Father’s Day
I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous
Long Live The Queen
Love Ire & Song
__________________________________
St. Christopher
Photosynthesis

From the second he came on stage until the strum of the last note I had a huge grin on my face. I was just so happy! He invited Emily Barker onstage to play Worse Things Happen At Sea, my personal favourite, she’d turned up with a banjo-bonus! There was such a good atmosphere in the room with everyone singing and dancing along merrily, no elbows in my face or a fight to keep a tiny bit of personal space which has become far too common and irritating, or else I may be getting old. Frank even dedicated a song to the "moustache crew" to my delight and relief as I’d been asked not long before if it was real, credit to the artiste but a huge amount of self consciousness had arisen. Turns out he was a nice guy and joking about the hideous amount of facial hair on a female but I didn’t enjoy the brief period of time where the thought of joining the circus had crossed my mind.
Frank Turner and his band seemed to be enjoying the gig as much as we were which was nice to see. I can genuinely say he exceeded my expectations and I thorougly enjoyed the gig as one of the best I have been to in a while. Roll on the next one…
In the meantime it was off to Krazyhouse for us four, where we did have elbows to the face and a fight for personal space. I have bruises and footprinted shoes to prove it!

                                                                         
                                                                                               Songwriting genius. Ace gig.