THE DAMNED: Brixton Academy, 26th November 2016.

27 11 2016

damned_-_damned_damned_damned_album_cover

 

 

There are some feelings in the world that cannot be replicated. Seeing one of the bands that changed your life, the band you absolutely adore and play religious every day live for the first time is one of those feelings. Last night after waiting for what seemed an eternity, I finally saw mine- I saw The Damned live. To make it even better, it was their first record in full. The record I play every morning whilst I get ready for work. The record that can sometimes keep a brewing panic attack at bay. This show was going to mean more to me than just seeing a band I love live. It was something else.

The crowd, I have to say, were amazing. Everyone was so friendly and just genuine, lovely people.  I’ve been to too many shows where some dickhead spoils it for everyone. It was a dickhead free zone last night. Everyone knew of the importance of the show, the importance of The Damned. The next 2 hours were going to justify this.

The band walk on to the stage, Captain Sensible tells the sound guy to turn the music on the PA off. He blames Genesis and YES for Punk starting; for the bad we all got the good. The band rip into Neat Neat Neat and Dave glides onto the stage like some kind of messiah. Is this how people feel when they are faced with a religious experience? For me, this went deeper.

The first part of the show is their debut record in full. I was finally seeing the songs that keep me together right before me. The songs that clear my mind and make everything alright for a short amount of time. The songs that made me fall for Punk at such a young age. Maybe it is a typical thing to pick up on, but the way in which Dave leans into the crowd and says, “Is she really going out with him?” And they launch right into New Rose just blows my mind and is easily one of the best moments in the set. That song started it all 40 years ago and it still feels brand new.

I Fall and See Her Tonite are two from the first set that really stood out for me, just because I love them and the energy they all have when they play them. At one point during the set, Captain Sensible chases Stu round the stage in a playful schoolboy manner. It is so endearing and beautiful to watch. To see a band that have been around for so long and play with this wealth of energy is astounding. They are still one of the most influential bands around, and last night truly showed that.

Anyone who has seen The Damned over the past 20 years will know about Monty. He is someone you cannot take your eyes away from. He moves about on the stage as if he has successfully done a stage invasion but nobody minded, so he stays. He’s hilarious and a joy to watch. His energy feels like the backbone of their live shows. He sings along to the first set as if he is a fan in the crowd.

I’ve been to so many gigs but I doubt any will leave this kind of imprint in my mind. There is something about seeing one of your favourite bands of all time live that just does something to you that nothing else can. You just know that it will always stay with you.

Some may assume that Punk is dead but it really isn’t. It’s an attitude. It sure as hell isn’t taking a bunch of artefacts and burning them because you don’t agree with certain people backing 40 years of Punk. No names need to be mentioned. For me, The Damned last night showed us exactly why and how Punk will never die out. Before they went into their second set Captain said that a lot of people expected them to just go away after the first record- how wrong they were!

The Damned are a band that I hold so dear to me for so many reason, and to have finally seen them live and to see Damned Damned Damned performed in its entirety is just everything to me. I know I sound like a boring old so and so, but it was truly one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. They all conduct the crowd in their own way, and when Captain through his red beret into the crowd at the end, and Dave threw his arms around him- that’s when you knew. You just knew that this band are going to always have a firm plac





GARBAGE. O2 Brixton Academy. 8th November 2015.

9 11 2015

For some reason I never thought I would see my favourite band of all time live. I thought after the tour in 2004 that I had tickets for was cancelled, I wouldn’t have the chance again. Time wasn’t on my side and any dates announced after I couldn’t make. Would I really never see the songs that saved my life in the flesh? Would I never get the chance to see the band that gave me hope when I was a miserable teenager with no clear way out?

It happened. It finally happened. This evening I finally got to see Garbage live and it was everything I hoped it would be. I was stood downstairs in the midst of it all. And in the seating area was a friend from secondary school who loves them as much as I do. To know she was up there watching made the gig mean more. Two kids from a small island in the middle of south London watching the best band in the world.
The gig was a celebration of 20 years since the release of their debut record. I was about 9 years old when it came out. The video to Vow gripped me. I was old before my years. My father had just died and I was dealing with it however a kid is meant to. For me it was music, and that set in stone how I was to face daily life-through music.
The band walked on stage and I, like a wuss, cried. I cried because it was finally happening. I cried because everything that had happened in the lead up to this started to slip away. I’ll never be tough but I can work on being brave. That’s what Garbage’s music means to me and has taught me. Shirley Manson has ALWAYS been such a huge part in my life. Through knowing someone dealt with life in an unconventional way like I did when I was a teenager to making it to adulthood with a few scraps along the way. I made it, they made it. We all made it.
The anniversary shows consist of songs from the debut record and the gorgeous b-sides that came along for the ride also. Last week I watched in awe Patti Smith rip apart the Roundhouse. On the other side of the river I watched my other heroes do the same. From Shirley forgetting to put her underwear on to the euphoria that erupted as they tore into Only Happy When It Rains. It was such a beautiful sight and such a great thing to be part of.
Garbage welcome anyone and their music speaks to so many. They found me when I was lost, and to this day they continue to do so. I have my good days and I have my bad days, but one thing that’s always constant is this bands ability to drag me through hell and back.
As I looked on, I felt glad that I went the right way and ended up here. I finally got to see the band that own every inch of my heart and soul in the flesh. I’ll never see the Velvet Underground but Garbage created my love for music, the rest just followed. In some respects I was catapulted back to my teenage years but it felt like a blur and it was over far too quickly. In the best way possible, this was the most emotionally draining gig I’d ever been to. I guess it is because I had been waiting for so long and it got to the point where it just became this blur in my mind. But I’ll cling onto everything I witnessed and felt.
You don’t forget the songs that saved your life, the first band you fell in love with or things like that. Those things stick with you because they are what spurs you on and drags you along. I felt like I was watching Garbage 20 years ago. I felt like I was watching them back in 95/96, I didn’t feel like I was watching a band who have been around for so long. That’s what made it great and it felt like home.
Every generation needs a voice, a person who stands up and tells those in the wrong to fuck off. I regard Shirley as highly as Patti Smith. She stalks the stage like a majestic panther, pacing up and down. With her candy floss pink hair flowing around as she runs around the stage with determination and power.  Creating shadow boxing like moves on the stage. The stage is her ring. She’s a fucking fighter and that’s why she’s on another level compared to most. The band sound stronger than most bands I’ve seen, and they make you feel like you’re watching a new band rather than one that’s been around for some time.  It just adds to the reasons as to why they’re the best.
This obviously isn’t a typical review, and if you want something that will tell you what they wore etc you won’t find it here.  Live music has this ability to bring something out of you that nothing else and no one else can. I guess you could call Garbage superheroes. They’re my heroes and have been for the past 20 years. It was emotionally draining to experience but it was for the greater good. Even writing it feels exhausting, but I think the show was a body of inspiration. I’ll probably never feel like this again seeing any other band, but that’s okay. I love a lot of bands, but none hold such weight in my heart like Garbage do. I probably sound like an overly sensitive mess, and maybe that’s what I am. But this band kept me going when nothing else did. They sometimes still do. You can feel this at any age, and as I get older I start to feel less ashamed about how I feel about things or how certain things make me feel.
This gig will stay with me a hell of a long time, and much like the music, perhaps it will serve as a crutch.
If by some weird bout of fate the band see this, thank you and I love you.




JESSIE WARE-Brixton Academy. 29th January 2015.

1 02 2015

 

 

Writing about Jessie Ware is impossible at times because her live shows are at times, beyond words. I’ll treat this as less of a review and more of an appreciation of a career of this country’s finest singer.

Before I get into my take on the live show, just watch one of the first clips of Jessie to emerge:

A dream of her’s was to always play Brixton Academy, and for two nights she did it. Her voice is one that is constantly brilliant. There’s no way she could put on a bad show, ever. It would be impossible. There aren’t many that are consistently good. But I like to think the bands that I love and go see always are. That’s why I go see them, of course.

Just before Jessie stepped onto the stage, the PA blasted out More Than A Woman by Aaliyah. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I couldn’t help but feel she should be playing here too. Anywhere. It’s a loss you never really get over, you know. It’s never felt right, and it never will.

Jessie steps onto the stage as the intro to Running starts. He voice and presence causes an immediate frenzy. One person, just one person oozes infectious stage presence that some bands can’t muster. Her on stage talk is all over the place and full of swear words. This is why I love her. You can tell just by that massive smile on her face that playing Brixton means more to her than anyone else, it means more to her than any other venue would. It was a truly special show that was a long time coming.

After she performs 110%, the crowd went ballistic. I’ve never been at a show where this reaction happens, ever. Every song is performed in a way that makes you wish you had even an ounce of her talent. She’s undeniably the best singer around. She captures that 80s classy R&B sound that Sade gave us and mixed with something different, much like Aaliyah did. Her lyrics are vulnerable and honest. The way she brings them to life on stage is on a different level, almost like you can’t believe a voice like this exists.

For me, the most important moment of the set is her bringing back the gorgeous Taking In Water to her set. This song is definitely one of the highlights from her 2012 debut, Devotion. The song was written for her baby brother Alex, and when she performs this song you really do feel as if you are intruding on a personal moment between them. The song is so delicate and beautifully written, to see it again live is for me the best part of the show.

The set is the perfect mix of both records and with a couple of bonus tracks such as Valentine (she brings out her former drummer and current support Dornik to sing with her) and The Way We Are. You know what else would be an ideal Jessie show? If she did b-sides and tracks off the deluxe editions.

When you see a band/singer you love live, a part of you should always come away either wanting to be in that moment forever or wishing you could do it. Sometimes both. Maybe always both.

These two shows at Brixton just show how rare a talent like Jessie’s is, and how needed a voice like hers is. Everything about her music is approachable and so easy to relate to. From when she hits THAT note during Running and THAT certain part during Say You Love Me, plus much more, it is all evident as to why she has finally sold out Brixton. TWICE. She gives it her all, and so do her band. Her bassist (who I believe is a fellow Italian!) is a delight to watch, he really gets into it. As I was leaving the venue, I heard two people behind me slag the guy off by saying “The way he moves just makes him look like he’s full of himself, and he really has no need to be.” 1- He’s not. He moves like that because he evidently is having the time of his life up there and is blood good. And 2- Are you selling out two nights at Brixton? No love, you’re not. So you know, be quiet. Another group decided that Jessie shouldn’t have played The Way We Are. But there are idiots everywhere, even at shows.

Jessie’s got the voice of an angel and the mouth of a sailor. I don’t get how anyone could ignore such a talent and turn onto something else. She’s got soul in her words, music and voice. It doesn’t happen too often, remember that.





EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS. Brixton Academy 11/02/2014.

13 02 2014

 

 

With the tube strikes being cancelled I was able to go see a band last night that I’ve been waiting to see for far too long. It seems of late I have fortunately been able to see bands/singers that really mean something to me after waiting for so long. My ability to plan and do things is sometimes questionable. However, if it is music related I am more than likely to be motivated to do something about it. Everything else can wait.

Of course when you are in the seated area of a venue you have the dilemma of “Do I stand or sit? Oh..they’re standing..I can’t see. I’m now standing. Oh we’re back to sitting, alright then!” A bit of light exercise for this fatty, right?

I like bands that are duos because there is something magical about them, but when a band has more than 5 members then I’m not sure what happens to my interest in them. Of course you have the likes of Wu Tang Clan who have a lot of members and they’re one of the greatest groups ever. And if I’m honest I really don’t care for Folk like bands. Over the PA Mumford & that lot was playing, and I felt a bit queasy. I can’t stand them or any band/singer like them, so why do I like Edward Sharpe? That’s easy- because their songs have a lot of meaning, they make you feel alive and make you forget all the bad you have done and all the bad that has been done to you. I can’t say the same for the band I mentioned above (not Wu Tang, obviously!) With Edward Sharpe you get something else. You get the feeling that you are part of something. My girlfriend did turn to me a few times during and questioned if they were a cult. I think she was convinced we were going to leave the show and now be part of some cult. There are worse things to happen. If you’re going to end up in a cult, it might as well be with the love of your life by your side, right?

The setlist was beautiful. Alex asked the crowd what they wanted to hear and we got the delights of Jade, Life Is Hard and Up From Below. Their cover of Nina Simone’s Ain’t Got No was exceptional. It was a real highlight of the show and really made you glad to be alive. During one of the songs (I’m writing this 2 days after, my memory isn’t too great) Alex handed the mic to a girl in the crowd who had this voice that was unworldly. If I was in the band, I’d have asked her to join. Her brief solo caused the whole place to just be taken back and give her the greatest reception I’ve seen in a long time from a crowd. I hope someone tracks her down and gives her a record deal. If any of her pals see this, or if she does- let it be known she has a gorgeous voice that needs to be heard. Jade and Alex’s vocals are on a different planet. Jade has this way of making you think “Where the hell did that voice come from??!!” and Alex just grips you with the power he has in his voice. They chase each other around the stage in a playful and adoring manner. Alex ends up in the crowd during the middle of their first song.  This isn’t just a band; they are truly a family unit.

I could write thousands of words about how Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros are pretty much one of the best bands around and the most exciting bands to see live, but I think it is obvious they are. You really don’t need someone like me telling you that. I can only hope the crowd at their show last night at Shepherd’s Bush got the same feeling. When you listen to their music you immediately feel as if someone is giving you a great big hug. When you see them live, you just feel as if everything shit in the world no longer matters. It shouldn’t matter, but at times it does. Live music is a healer. Trust no one who doesn’t believe in the power of music.

I’m going to try rounding this up by attempting to sum up the feelings this show gave me. As I was watching the band, I was just in awe of how extremely talented they all are. Of course I knew this as I’m a fan, but to see it live is just something else. Their music is that constant feeling of falling in love over and over. You feel as if you could die and it wouldn’t matter because you’d be listening to this beautiful music that just soothes you. On the other hand, their music makes you feel really REALLY alive and you feel as if nothing in this world can touch you. They make you feel part of something truly special, and that goes beyond words. Sure I like music that is the polar opposite of me- aggressive, loud and bold but sometimes I just want to hear something like Edward Sharpe and feel something I haven’t felt before. And what I felt will stay with me for as long as my memory will allow.





WARPAINT. Brixton Academy. 30th October 2013.

31 10 2013

 

For the past few years I had been waiting to write this. It’s pretty obvious how much Warpaint mean to me. I wouldn’t just have any band’s logo tattooed on me!

The bands/singer supporting Warpaint last night were incredible. Martina Topley-Bird set the tone for what was a night that felt like one massive escapism of the mind. Her vocal skills (with questionable sounding from the soundmen) are excellent. Her songs are short, but feel like you are wavering in and out of a fairytale; like you’ve reached the dark side. She’s brilliant, of course she is though. She was on Tricky’s debut record.

Secondly, Manchester’s finest, PINS are on (I’m ignoring the DJs because I don’t think you can really review a DJ set and I wasn’t really paying attention.) PINS are fucking AMAZING. Girls Like Us is a ritualistic listen for me. I play it most days as I make the delightful Met Line journey into work. Faith is one of the best front-women around, she stalks the stage and glares like a panther, and sings with real purpose. I’d been waiting for some time to see PINS live, and to see them supporting Warpaint was an honour.  I was pretty happy to have seen LUVU4LYF live. I bloody adore that song. It fueled my love for them last year. They played as if they were headlining Brixton Academy. I’m pretty sure by the Summer of next year they will be. Anna, Lois, Sophie and Faith all play with this intensity that is missing in a lot of bands. On record you can hear hints of certain eras in music, but when you see them live all of these lame comparisons that (lazy) music journalists lob about just fade away immediately.

You cannot compare PINS to anyone else. When you see them live it is like they are the soundtrack to a reoccuring nightmare that you really don’t mind having; there’s some form of security in Faith’s delicate voice. As I was watching PINS, I started to hate the fact that I have NO musical talent. Oh and let it be known that the best drummers’ names begin with an S; Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) Sandy Vu (Dum Dum Girls) and Sophie from PINS. There are some bands you could quite happily watch live over and over, PINS are easily one of them. I cannot wait to see them with Dum Dum Girls in December.

I must add that before Martina Topley-Bird came on stage, over the PA they were playing Velvet Underground’s debut record. Without that record, a lot of bands that we love never would have formed. Martina dedicated a song to Lou. He lives on in those that love, respect and admire him. Music can never die.

Warpaint walk on to the stage. I feel as if I’m going to throw up. I’ve waited years for this moment. I’m right at the front. It’s happening.

They open with new song, Keep It Healthy. They play some new songs from their second record, which is self-titled. Love Is To Die sounds divine live. Theresa’s vocals live sound stronger than they do on record, and the way she and Emily merge their vocals is just stunning. There is a bond between all of them that makes you want to start your own band. They make you want to ignore the world you are forced to live in, and to go create something else. They create this magical and mysterious world with their music. Of course it is Undertow which sees the crowd make a loud and questionable sound. The jam at the end just reinforces your love for them and your desire to go start your own band.

On record, Warpaint have been the band I’ve used when I cannot sleep or when I’m on the train and all I can see outside is streetlights. They are comfort and they are hope. Witnessing it all live was just as perfect as I hoped it would be. I closed my eyes, I swayed, I sang, I felt like a human being again. I felt as if no one else was in the room. My love for Warpaint has grown, and I’m really not sure how it could. It’s not just their music that makes you love them, it’s the way they are on stage with each other. Jenny and Stella are at the back like two disruptive kids in school. One look from either can make the other erupt into a fit of giggles. This is chemistry at its best. This is how a band should be. Warpaint make you wish you were in their band.

Warpaint aren’t a band that you just listen to in the background or go see live once. They become everything because their music just frees you in the most gentle way possible. They guide you delicately into a world where nothing matters apart from the moments their music creates. Certain parts in songs just set you off, and everything you feel is heightened. Watching them play Majesty live was beautiful. I remember interviewing Theresa three years ago, and I spoke to her about that song. There was something about that song, at that point that just meant a lot. Seeing it live fortunately brought nothing back. If anything, I just appreciated the song even more. Elephants was a riot in the mind. It felt like a catharsis in the purest form seeing it live. But for me, my highlight was Emily coming back on stage on her own to sing Baby. For the most part, their songs feel as if you are floating on water in a dream, a daze. But there is something about Baby that doesn’t distant you from real life. It feels like it is really happening, and the connection is different. It’s a very open and vulnerable song, and that’s probably why I love it. She also sang a bit of Patti Smith/Bruce Springsteen’s Because The Night during it.

As the evening came to a close, I started to think about everything Warpaint mean to me. I had finally seen the band live, after waiting for so long. The wait was made up of frustration and the need to just see them live because live music can give you something that just sitting and listening through headphones can’t.

This was a massive struggle to write because I feel as if I should have written more, or gone into more detail. All I know is that this was one of the best shows I’ve been to. There’s a private feeling that cannot be put into words when describing what seeing Warpaint live is like. I think those who have seen them live and TRULY feel their music will know exactly what I mean.