THE VACANT LOTS: Moth Club, 20th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Ever waited what seemed an eternity to see a band you absolutely adore? Have you tried to see them previously and things get in your way? Was nothing going to stop you this time? I get it, I really do. It happened twice to me this weekend and I’m going to write about both- starting with last night.

I first wrote about The Vacant Lots around 2 years ago. I wrote about them after spending a few months listening to them prior and trying to process what they meant to me, and how the music made me feel. I’ve probably been too quick at times writing about a band without taking the time to understand what’s going on, but I write as a fan and not some person who’s employed to over hype a load of bullshit gullible souls will buy into. Last night I took myself on a 5 minute bus journey to the Moth Club. The perks of being close to decent venues in a city I’ve grown to dislike. Get me out, please. Live music is my escape for the things that weigh me down. The Vacant Lots felt like something else last night. Whatever happened for that hour or so will stay with me. I wasn’t trapped in a place that harms my mind, it was taken elsewhere. But you want to know about the show, right?

Their set opens with Departure. If this wasn’t going to make the crowd pumped, I really don’t know what would. I was internally praying for High And Low to be played but I was also hoping for Paint This City because that’s on the same level. Paint The City made the set and I’m pretty sure I had my eyes closed for that whole song. When you hear the songs that get you out of any jam your brain traps you in, you do your best to zone out. Zone out was exactly what I did. I felt like no one was around me and everything was as alright as can be.

The Vacant Lots are a fascinating band to watch. As Jared shuts his eyes during the songs, you wonder where his mind is going. Brian’s face expresses so much during certain songs- you identify with everything that is happening on stage because these are the songs that have held you together so for some time. The way Jared prowls about on the stage holding his guitar as if it is a weapon, and at the end of the set bashes it up against the ceiling to create even more noise. Exactly 2 years ago I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain for the first time in Manchester, and I left with a comforting ringing in my ear. Go forward 2 years and it is happening again. Nothing really happened last year, mind. The Vacant Lots are part dreamy, part riot. You don’t know what you’re going to get and they leave you on edge. As someone who has really shit anxiety, I, for some reason find this massively comforting. I didn’t know what to expect during every song and I love that. I love when a band takes you right into the belly of the unknown and away from what surrounds you.

Mad Mary Jones sends everyone off into a whirl but I’m standing by Paint This City being the highlight for me. Some bands, as I’ve mentioned many times before, hold this notion of being something sacred. Something that is your escape, and yours to keep. For me, The Vacant Lots capture this so well. I didn’t make their last London show, but I saw photos of Jared’s bloody guitar. Part of me was hoping for blood last night but I got something better- I saw the real heart of The Vacant Lots.

Their Berlin EP comes out this Friday and I’ll put a review up this week as they are selling copies at their shows this week. If you go see them, buy a copy.

As I mentioned at the start, when you wait so long to see a band you absolutely adore- it means the world to you and it stays with you. I can safely say that this was one of the most emotional and intense shows I’ve been to in a long time.





THOMAS COHEN- Moth Club. 7th March 2016.

9 03 2016

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Prior to the show on Monday, the only solo show Thomas Cohen had done was his slot at the Village Underground last month as part of the PIAS Nights. His set was short but enough to make you believe that his debut solo record will not only blow our minds but it will also expand them. The hypnotic sounds and his magnetising voice make for an ideal combination for those who don’t mind going down the escape route from time to time. How did his first headline show work out? Pretty damn well. If you’ve ever been to the Moth Club you’ll probably have spent a lot of time gazing at the glittered and gold ceiling. The PA (a playlist chosen by Thomas) blasts out In The Navy, Dancing Queen and Freedom (George Michael.) The perfect songs to set your Monday night around.

Before his set he joined the support band (Blueprint Blue- which consist of Melissa and Hew from S.C.U.M) on stage for an exceptional cover of Beast Of  Burden by the Rolling Stones. Lyrically it is one of my favourite songs by the Rolling Stones and it’s one of the first ones I remember hearing. My dad used to play Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones- I don’t have many memories of him but I’m always able to connect music to most things. Blueprint Blue and Thomas did an exceptional version of this song, and I was left convinced that THEY had written it. It didn’t feel like a cover. Thomas moved on stage like a young Mick Jagger but with more attitude. He oozed a wealth of infectious confidence that left you wishing you could dance and sing like this. The way he was singing “Am I rough enough?” and moving his body in a demanding and charming manner made you really think that the song was written by him. He made it is own, and that’s what anyone should do when covering a song.

Thomas took to the stage in a gorgeous floral print suit. I normally don’t care for what a musician wears, but on Monday night I made an exception because I really don’t get how anyone could not be in awe of such a stunning outfit. His set consisted of songs from his debut record, Bloom Forever which is out  in May. By no means did it feel strange for Thomas to play his first headline show on Townes Van Zandt’s birthday, he has stated in recent interviews that he is someone he has listened to whilst making the record and taken some inspiration from. Much like Townes he gets to the core of a feeling, takes you with him and doesn’t let you do. I think for most Country Home is the song that really hits the audience. The vulnerability of love and life, and all that happens in between and after is captured perfectly in this song. It is hard to listen to, especially when you know what it is about- but Thomas does it in such a beautiful way, the sadness doesn’t hit you as hard as you would expect.

On stage and on record, Thomas makes you listen. On stage you cannot help but look at him in awe of how captivating he is. When he was in S.C.U.M, I remember seeing them play the Sugarmill in Stoke. There was no more than 20 of us there. It was an eerie show and it reinforced my love for the band. The music was otherworldly, and on his own Thomas manages to still have that about him. There is something about him and his music that just draws you in. The music delicate and the fragility in the songs is one of the many things that keep you hooked. His gentle hand gestures as he sings make you feel calm, as if he’s reassuring you that all is okay. Everything can and will be alright. The last song they play (forgive me, I’ve forgotten the name!) is possibly their loudest number in the set and as Thomas lets go as he plays his guitar, you just know that this is something truly, truly special.

After seeing both his live shows, it is fair to say that Bloom Forever is going to be a record to treasure, to love and to possibly use as a guide. His eloquent and thoughtful way with words makes you see things in a way you may never have done before. This poignant record is to be adored whilst listening on your own in your room, and to be celebrated at his live shows.

Bloom Forever is released on 6th May via Stolen Recordings, and you can pre-order a copy here: https://stolenrecordings.officialstore.co.uk/Shop/PhysicalDetails?pid=SRD_PH_55

 





THE CREEPING IVIES/SHANNON AND THE CLAMS. Oslo, Hackney. 11th November 2015.

24 11 2015

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A week or so (okay maybe 2 now)after a gig is the perfect time to write a review, obviously. I’m good at being disorganised. The Creeping Ivies and Shannon played a venue near my house the day before my birthday (I’m now 29, and everything still feels the same. For better and worse.)

I’ve been a fan of The Creeping Ivies for some time, and to be honest I was at the gig for them. To see a band you really love the day before your birthday, well you can’t say no. I’d spent the week seeing bands considering my desire to spend my birthday “celebrating” it seems to decrease by the year- it made perfect sense to see a band instead. Their set consisted of old and new gems. Becca’s voiced ripped through the crowd like a screaming banshee. It was bloody brilliant, and there was no better venue for them (okay there probably is but you know.) The venue made you feel like you were the outcast at a school prom that was designed for the weirdos. Why would you want to be around anyone else? The Creeping Ivies warmed the crowd up perfectly with their Rockabilly/Punk sound. The band initally started as two, but as a three-piece they work equally as well. The songs sound bigger and creepier when you see them play live, you sort of imagine them to be like that off stage. This isn’t the case. It was so good to finally meet Becca after years of writing about her band, and they’re just a solid bunch of people. Neither of us understood why Shannon’s rider had baby carrots but each to their own. The Creeping Ivies put on a set that made you want more. They made you feel as if you weren’t in the depths of Hackney watching them. It didn’t feel like 2015. I felt like I was on another planet. For the most part, I usually am. Anywhere but here. They were easily one of the best bands I’ve seen live this year, and I’d urge anyone in Scotland to go see them. And when they venture down here again, I’d urge you to go see them. They’re the kind of band that John Peel would play on his show- at first at the wrong speed, then he’d keep playing it just so you understood the band. The Creeping Ivies are from another world and they sure as hell take you there with their eerie sound.

It dawned on me that I had written about Shannon And The Clams before. I think I’ve probably gone on about their girl group style to someone, they probably weren’t listening. On record Shannon And The Clams have this massive sound- so how can they bring that to a dingy stage in Hackney? Quite easily. They make you forget you’d ever heard of them before now. I forgot how they sounded on record, and since then I’ve realised not much will compare to their live shows. Shannon’s voice could make the toughest of the tough stand to attention. She calls out some doofus in the crowd who shouts obscenties at her, she plays the bass like a wild animal who’s been let loose from their cage, she makes you feel like you can take on the world. They are a superb live band, and I think anyone who hasn’t seen them is missing out. Each member has such a gorgeous presence on stage and it is so nice and fucking refreshing to watch a band who love what they do and see the love they have for each other. The kids in the crowd were going nuts for them, I’ve not seen this kind of reaction in a long time and it is so good to see kids really get into music like this. Totally letting go and not giving a fuck about anyone/anything other than the music. That’s how it is supposed to be. You know, a lot of London crowds are slated as being pretentious- and to an extent that’s true. It can happen anywhere. I’ve seen it in this city, but I’ve also seen crowds go apeshit to the bands they love. This gig will always stick out for me, mainly because the crowd were brilliant and both bands fed off that. They ended their set with a Del Shannon cover. They covered Runaway, and it’s a song I used to make my mum play constantly when I was younger, and I probably tried to sing a long also. Not much has changed, I still can’t carry a tune.

They are bands for the outsiders, for the kids and adults who just don’t care what you think. I was watching the crowd, and all I could see was a sea of people in awe and in love with the band in front of them. The sounds that have influenced Shannon And The Clams really shines in their live shows, and I live in hope that these kids will go home and indulge in the likes of the Shangri-Las, The Girlfriends etc. They have essence of the past mixed with something, much like The Creeping Ivies, from another planet.

Both bands put on a remarkable show in their own way. The Creeping Ivies sent you to another galaxy and Shannon And The Clams made you feel like you had gatecrashed a prom out of protest. It was brutal, it was fun and it was the perfect way to dive into my 29th year on this planet.





CROCODILES- LONDON FIELDS BREWERY. 11TH OCTOBER 2014.

12 10 2014

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With every review of Crocs I write, I always say the same thing. I always say how bloody great they are, and as someone who is rarely right- with this, I know it to be true. They are probably the best band I’ve seen live and are bloody lovely guys.

Last night they played as part of the Hackney Wonderland. I paid £10 just to see them and didn’t go see anyone else. Maybe that was foolish, but my girlfriend and I went to have pizza. As an Italian, I can’t turn down pizza. Also living right near the venue is always good!

If you’ve ever been to see Crocodiles in London you will have probably seen the guest of honor and all round brilliant guy, Omar. Omar stole the show at the end, but more of that later. He should be their hypeman. Shouting abuse at the crowd to get them moving. If you’re not moving at a Crocs show, then something is wrong with you. They aren’t a band you stand still to. No way pal.

Crocs treat us to some new songs off their new record, and judging by how good they sounded live I am confident again with declaring their new record to be the best thing to happen in 2015. The last new song they did in the set was my favourite. No idea of song names, but this one was my favourite. Crocs are one of those rare bands that sound better and different with each release. Summer Of Hate is the record that owns a large part of my heart, but each of their records just proves how marvelous they are.  Severely underrated, but the best ones usually are. Of all the times I’ve seen them, last night was possibly the best and it could be down to the magnificent stage invasion at the end to I Wanna Kill.

Personally the best moment for me was them playing Summer Of Hate. I can’t remember if I’ve seen them do it before, but last night felt like it was the first time. It’s my favourite song by them,and if you’ve ever seen a band you love play your favourite song by them live you will understand what that moment means. You don’t feel as if anyone else is around you, and you’re completely and utterly immersed in the moment. It’s a beautiful feeling and maybe, just maybe you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced it.

They opened their set with the anthem for perverts, Marquis de Sade. An anthem you’ve just got to sing a long to. Also, if you read a Marquis de Sade book on public transport, people don’t want to sit near you. It’s brilliant. He was also a fantastic and twisted writer that you need to read. His mind was obscure and perverse, and wonderful. If you don’t like conventional things, go read his work.

The last two songs were insane. They did their cover of Jet Boy Jet Girl (which I am so happy they now play) and were joined by the majestic Omar on vocals. When he isn’t yelling “ASS CLOWN” at Brandon, you can find him near the front loving life. Crocs ended their set with I Wanna Kill which was greeted with a beautiful stage invasion. It was a glorious state of chaos, and every band should do this. I don’t care who you are, you should let your fans get on stage with you and belt out a song. This bit in the set pretty much showed how much they are loved and how their fans really appreciate it when they come to town. In an ideal world I would have the funds to go to a full tour and write words like above about it. They aren’t a band you see just once and that’s it. They’re a band that you have to keep on seeing because the atmosphere at their shows is something else. They are one of the few bands that make me want to just write about music forever. It annoys me how underrated they are, but last night truly showed how loved they are and those that watched them know just how brilliant they are.

Each of them are bloody mesmerising to watch. Charlie flings his guitar about and holds it like a machine gun, Robert beats the living shit out the drums in a glorious fashion, their bassist David (he’s in Hatcham Social, a band I fell in love with at uni many moons ago!) seems to be in a trance as he plays and you fall into it also, Brandon’s voice creates this atmosphere in the room that takes you back in time. I can’t (but will always try to) emphasise enough just how bloody great they are. And also, they are the most loveliest and kind guys you’ll ever meet. I bloody well owe them.

Anyway, obligatory photo with BW and CR :

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