Archive for the ‘Live’ Category

h1 Beach House live review

February 19, 2010


Bit of a Ronseal post, this one.

Link here.


AU61: Dälek/Charles Hayward live review

January 4, 2010


This is a night for adventure, headed by an act that has achieved the impressive feat of sounding like precisely noone else. But before Dälek’s bizarre yet invigorating collision of noise and rap, it’s fitting that the support comes from Charles Hayward, a man who has spent the last 30 years resolutely going his own way. Best known as the drummer in English experimental group This Heat during the late Seventies and early Eighties, he now tours alone. Naturally enough, his masterful, expressive drumming is the main focus, but this is no smug wankathon – it’s gritty and creative, Hayward using his feet to control a phalanx of machines, layering ambient soundscapes and shards of noise under the rhythms. And there are songs, too – awkward and unlovely at times, but sung and played with real intensity. This man is pushing 60, but he puts many a young buck to shame.

Not Dälek, though. The New Jersey duo may look like a couple of meatheads when they take the stage – DJ Oktopus’s wifebeater, MC Dälek’s enormously oversized clothes on his already enormously oversized frame, topped off with a pair of sunglasses in a room that’s just a shade above pitch black – but there’s no idiotic bluster here, just an hour of surging noise, beats and rhymes. If you imagine Kevin Shields adding his guitar onslaught to Public Enemy, you’re halfway there. Despite the underlying sonics, though, the rhythms and words make Dälek no more or less than a hip-hop act, and they are keen to prove their credentials. Towards the end of the show, MC Dälek addresses the crowd for only the second time, giving heartfelt shout-outs to the late Jam Master Jay and J Dilla, amongst others. “This is my culture,” he exclaims, “these are my words, this is my motherfuckin’ life!” It’s almost as if he feels the need to publicly connect to these figures, since his band is signed to a predominantly (though nowhere near exclusively) rock label in Mike Patton’s Ipecac Recordings, and the vast majority of the crowd tonight is, to go on appearances alone, from the rock and metal fraternity. And sure enough, you can – and do – get lost in the blizzard of noise coming from DJ Oktopus’s laptops. But this isn’t shoegaze with a bit of rapping over the top – it’s hip-hop that’s adventurous and broad-minded enough to use a totally different sound palette to any other comparable act. And its sheer power leaves you breathless.


AU61: No Age live review

January 4, 2010

(Pic via Karl McDonald’s Those Geese Were Stupified)


No Age’s Saturday night gig at Crawdaddy was postponed due to Ryanair being their usual belligerent selves (or Dean Spunt not knowing the rules on hand luggage; you choose) so here we are at an all-ages venue on Sunday afternoon instead, primed for some daylight scuzz. It’s a weird atmosphere all round – everyone is sober, the venue is bright and clean and you get the sense some people have fit the gig in around their Sunday shopping. But though a band as raw as No Age would doubtless benefit from grimier surroundings, they do their best to engage the crowd, Spunt riffing on Ryanair’s inadequacies (always a popular theme) and beckoning the reticent crowd towards the stage. And they play fucking loud, so loud in fact that at one point the Gardai show up, before being reassured that everything is above board.

Opening with Nouns (and career) highlight ‘Teen Creeps’, drummer/vocalist Spunt and guitarist Randy Randall rip through tracks from both albums and the new EP Losing Feeling, with ‘You’re A Target’s soaring fuzz-punk an early winner. No doubt relieved to be playing in Dublin at all, the pair extol the virtues of The Exchange, surely drawing parallels with their beloved The Smell back home in LA. Spunt isn’t the greatest drummer in the world (nor the greatest singer, for that matter), but his enthusiasm is infectious, and you find yourself amusedly watching his facial expressions as he attacks his ride cymbal with barely disguised glee, particularly during the scorching ‘Sleeper Hold’. This won’t have been the best show of No Age’s European tour (nor the best of the day – they played a hastily arranged show at the Academy 2 later that night), but it sure beats traipsing around H&M on a rainy Sunday afternoon.


AU60: The Bug live review

November 17, 2009

When I posted my interview with Kevin Martin (aka The Bug), I mentioned that the gig was a total belter. Here’s the review.


In our last issue, Kevin Martin (for The Bug is he) promised that the live show would be “fucking all over the shop”, “confrontational” and “physical” but “enjoyable”. He wasn’t kidding, as tonight deserves to go down as one of the gigs of the year. It’s nearly over before it begins, though. A deafening blast of noise announces his arrival and demands attention before Martin, alone behind a desk of equipment at the back of the stage, powers into versions of ‘Angry’ and ‘Poison Dart’ from last year’s extraordinary London Zoo album. And then, as abruptly as it starts, the sound and lights cut out. Oops. 10 minutes of uncomfortable shuffling about later, Martin is back and this time there are no familiar bangers to cling on to. For half an hour until ragga MC Daddy Freddy arrives, it’s a sonic battlefield of harsh noise, dancehall beats and teeth-rattling bass – aggressive and deafeningly loud, yes, but compellingly danceable as well.

Eventually, Daddy Freddy does turn up and the mood changes, taking us from confrontation and aural punishment to a chaotic dance party. The familiar tunes are back – ‘Jah War’, ‘Warning’, the peerless ‘Skeng’ and reprises of both ‘Angry’ and ‘Poison Dart’, each with Daddy Freddy completely ignoring the original vocal and letting rip over the top in his own ultra-fast style. It’s a total riot, the MC’s charisma matched to the mood of the crowd and Martin solemnly going about the business of making us move, hard. They are originally scheduled to play for an hour, but once the hour is up the encores begin – largely led by Daddy Freddy, it must be said. Running out of his own material, Bug (as the MC addresses him) starts to DJ, playing fucked-up, noisy versions of dubstep producer 2562’s smooth, spacious ‘Techno Dread’ and even Dawn Penn’s classic ‘No, No, No’. Thought you’ve never heard it quite as gnarled as this before. We hit 2am and the lights come up, closing support act Filaria not even getting a chance to play. It’s a shame, but how would you follow that anyway?


AU60: Electric Picnic live review

November 17, 2009

Here’s a slightly longer version of my weekend round-up than appeared in the magazine – we were very stuck for space, so it got trimmed. It was a bit of a whistlestop tour as it was, but there you go.

Electric Picnic


Friday starts at a slow drift. I flit in and out of tents, catching morsels of The Temper Trap, Boy 8 Bit, Lykke Li and Major Lazer before settling on Efterklang. Alas, the Danes’ pop symphonies get lost in the tent, going some way to confirm my view of them as little more than pleasant background music. ABC fare better – punchy and fun, the Eighties pop icons on stage are at odds with the filthy weather outside. Thereafter, it’s up to two more reformed crowd-pullers – alt. rock heavyweights Dinosaur Jr. and techno boffins Orbital – to make the evening. They don’t quite. Dinosaur are bracingly loud and energetic in front of their massed amps, but the sound is muddy and some of the material stodgy. Then to Orbital. For an hour, an up-for-it crowd lose their shit to ‘Belfast’, ‘Satan’ and ‘Chime’, but the last half hour drags interminably. They go through the motions, and I slope off to my sleeping bag.

Saturday is the pick. Canadian folk-popsters Ohbijou ease me in before The xx arrive in the Electric Arena. It’s too widescreen a venue for their sultry, intimate sound, but they pull it off by playing those glorious songs to perfection. Later, Jape disappoints and Bat For Lashes cancels, so it’s up to James Murphy and Pat Mahoney to kick-start a busy evening. That they do, with a freshly squeezed DJ set full of classic disco and house. Brian Wilson next, and one of the highlights of the weekend, the weirdly immodest legend running through a magical Beach Boys greatest hits set. From Californian sunshine to a Swedish haze, as The Field’s organic, hypnotic hybrid of techno, trance and Krautrock captivates a packed dance tent. Next, Chic elicit grins of pure joy with the gig of the weekend, Nile Rodgers packing in a host of his productions for Sister Sledge, Diana Ross and David Bowie alongside the likes of ‘I Want Your Love’, ‘Le Freak’ and ‘Good Times’. Moderat’s headline set starts disappointingly, but by the end the atmospherics, beats and rolling subbass make it a triumph of textured dub techno.

Sunday dawns swathed in mud. Two Door Cinema Club’s perky indie-pop lifts the spirits before The Sugarhill Gang’s farcical karaoke dampens them again. The Acorn’s Canuck charm and rustic indie-rock proves diverting, but Simian Mobile Disco are the main attraction this early in the day. James Ford points to his watch in mock surprise (it’s 4:30pm). It’s a slick, dancefloor-ready live set that thrills the glow-stick wielding kids. Later, we dip into The Big Pink in time for a thundering ‘Velvet’, then swoon to Fleet Foxes’ harmonies as they drift over the site. Royskopp are the band of the day, though, trumping SMD. Forget that chill-out tag, this is a festival dance gig par excellence – pop hits, dancefloor bangers and tons of energy. Next, a disaster, as Skream and Benga’s dubstep gig is thwarted by a blown PA, but that only benefits the safe hands of Erol Alkan. He keeps kids dancing, you know.


NME: BATS live review

October 16, 2009

This ran in NME last week – the issue with Kurt Cobain on the front, though granted that doesn’t narrow it down all that much! He’s probably been on there 10 times more since he died than when he was alive. Anyway, here’s the review…

BATS live
Photo from a different gig taken by Nay McArdle (I think) and nicked from the band’s MySpace.


“BATS will destroy you!” they roar on opener ‘Death To Kent Hovind’, skewering the US creationist of the title with a short, sharp shock of bug-eyed righteousness. Then comes bespectacled Rupert Morris’ sneering pay-off: “The facts will destroy you.” The five Dubliners are science geeks and deliver explosive treatises on physics, genetics and superstition. Dry? Not a bit – it’s all declaimed over thrashy dance-punk, Converge-style hardcore and enough cowbell to keep Christopher Walken happy for months. Dance? Headbang? Do both and hope your spine stays aligned.


AU59: Oneida live review

October 12, 2009



Oneida are on their 10th studio album, and it’s a triple, so only a fool would have come to the Black Box expecting anything close to restraint or concision. And, true enough, after a cursory greeting of “We’re Oneida, see ya round,” the Brooklyn band (normally a quartet, but swollen to five tonight) launch into an opening instrumental of patience-trying proportions. The band are well known for their love of monotony and repetition, but only when you experience a track that takes several minutes to meet its first sonic shift do you really understand the extent of that fixation. In the end, the subtle, drummer-led alterations every few minutes drag you along just as you’re starting to become infuriated, but its near-20 minutes of head-down, linear power come across more clever-clever than anything else; a band staring its audience out – literally, in the case of the keyboardist.

In truth, it’s a slightly disappointing evening. The sound doesn’t help, the band’s crisp Krautrock jams getting lost in the echoey room, and because of that it’s hard to be too critical, but even aside from that, there’s a lack of nuance that renders the whole experience exhausting. Nearly every song blasts into view at high speed and keeps on accelerating, and while the drumming especially is a marvel, it starts to feel like aural – and physical – punishment. But then, in a moment of pure serendipity, they introduce ‘Up With People’ – the best track from 2006’s Happy New Year album – and it becomes the perfect closer, its neoprene-tight groove as irresistible live as on record, provoking dancefloor joy among those left at the end. It’s fair reward for sticking with an occasionally trying show.

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