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

24 11 2015

shannon-too-late

 

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.






PINS- The Lexington. 27th May 2015.

29 05 2015

Everyone has a handful of bands they don’t ever get tired of listening to or seeing live. I’ve probably got more than a person should, but there are worse things I could spend my money on.

Prior to seeing PINS on Wednesday night, my pal and I were stood outside the venue whilst he had a cigarette. A man comes up to him and asks if he can buy a cigarette off him. I catch a glimpse of him and on his shoulder he has a pet rat. A white thing with horrible pinky/red eyes. He sees us look at his pet, and he plants a kiss on it. He walks off happily with his pet and cigarette. Not much can shock you I suppose when you’re constantly in a busy city. But this? It was just weird. If it gets him through the day, then so be it. Also, I had a really good photo of the band on stage to use, but guess who dropped their phone down the toilet at work yesterday. Yes, this idiot writing this.

PINS are fascinating to see live. You see there are some bands who seem almost scared or probably too uptight to look like they’re enjoying themselves on stage, but with PINS you can tell that they really love playing live. Faith sings in the crowd, Sophie beats the shit out of the drums, Anna makes you wish you could play bass in a band like PINS and Lois likes to wander off a bit on stage. She got behind something on the stage at The Lexington and every so often you saw her glorious blonde hair peer over the side.

The show on Wednesday was a launch for the new record (Wild Nights) which is out on Monday. Some copies were being sold afterwards and of course, it is one of the best records to come out this year. As I’ve called Crocodiles as having the record of the year, I’ll say that PINS have put out the best record in the country. I’ll write about why I love the record this evening.

I’ve seen PINS either 5 or 6 times now and I probably should have run out of things to say about them, or I’m likely to repeat myself. They’re a band you just don’t ever get tired of seeing. The only thing that annoys me are the creeps right at the front who really need to stop taking photos of the body parts of the band (everyone can see you zoom in on the bums and such, just stop.) Other than that, those who go to see PINS are those who really get what the band are about and aren’t there just to hear one song. Everyone still goes nuts to LUVU4LYF and Girls Like Us. But new songs such as House Of Love and Too Little Too Late are starting to get the same reaction as old favourites.

From seeing them a few times, it is just bloody brilliant to see a band develop into something truly wonderful. Their shows aren’t as dark and as moody as their records, but there is something sinister that flows through songs like Oh Lord that come alive when you witness it live. Watching them live is like being at decent house party and your mates band come along to play some songs. There probably are words to describe their live shows, but it isn’t good enough. You’ve just got to see it. They drag people on stage for their take on Hybrid Moments by the Misfits. Girls Like Us is mashed with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. You just want them to play forever and go a bit louder each time. They go mental at the end of Dazed By You which is amazing to witness. They can do the slowest of songs and they can go off the rails on another. They’re showing everyone what they are made of, not just live but on the new record.

I’ve seen them support bands I love and I’ve seen them headline their own shows. Ain’t no party like a PINS party. I wish it was home time so I could unleash my thoughts on their new record.

What I love about PINS is that they evidently have something in them that’s going to fuel younger generations to pick up an instrument and make their own noise. PINS are quite simply one of the best bands from Manchester, and there are loads of them. PINS have got this thing about them that make you want to sack off your 9 to 5 and start a band. To hell with it, you might as well do it. Their sound could intimidate some, but once you’ve met them you’ll realise that they’re just proper lovely people who make the kind of music you wish you could. I’m sort of holding back a little because I’m reserving it all for my thoughts on Wild Nights.

They’ve just announced a tour for September and you can get tickets here: https://www.songkick.com/search?page=1&per_page=10&query=PINS+UK&type=upcoming

It’s pretty tempting to go see them in Manchester. Pretty sure a home crowd is as good as it gets. The record is out Monday and you can buy tickets to their new tour now. You know what to do.





2:54: Manchester/London February 2015

5 02 2015

 

 

Seeing a band you adore live is a great feeling. Sometimes, well for the most part, it seems to be a sort of release and a purely cathartic experience. That’s what music should be about and when you see it performed in front of you it becomes heightened and more important.

2:54 have just finished a 3 day tour in the UK. I did 2 out of 3 dates and I won’t lie, I wish I did all 3. If you’ve seen them live you will know how addictive it can be. You leave wishing to be in that moment solidly for the rest of time. You want to tell the words back to Sugar. You want to lose yourself during No Better Prize. You air drum along to Creeping. These moments become you. Don’t part from them.

Manchester was the first show. There is something really special about seeing bands in Manchester. The venue was idyllic and the crowd were a beautiful lot. Manchester crowds aren’t afraid to move. The last time I saw 2:54 was a month or so before when they did a secret show at the Shacklewell Arms to about 50 people. This show however, was dark and loud. Euphoric filled moments. Alex’s intense drumming. Rich’s brutal bass playing. Hannah’s inspiring guitar playing. Colette’s delicate but powerful voice. You will not find a better constructed band. With no need to talk in between songs, this band have gorgeous stage presence. In short, they make you want to start a band.

Last night they played historic Camden venue, Dingwalls. This show had a real Punk vibe about it. You can find this if you look hard enough. Colette said there was a strong Punk feel to the show last night, and she wasn’t wrong. Bodies were moving in time and some off beat. The music was rightfully being felt in all the right places.

I’ve loved them since I heard Creeping a few years ago. If I could find the word to describe how it made me feel and how it hit me, I would. It all comes to life when you see them live.
A strong sense of pride. The band I adore are nothing short of excellent and are making the kind of music that really moves you.

I interviewed Colette and Hannah in Manchester( I will type it up soon) and it felt like I was talking to two friends. Their bond is so pure and lovely to witness. You know how some people can communicate without saying a word? That’s them. I don’t think any other band has a bond as strong as that. Quite simply, the sisters are the most gracious and kind individuals I’ve met in a long time. Their music may be heavy and intense but personality wise they are just wonderful people. If you go see them, talk to them afterwards. Tell them I sent you!

And now it is all over. America is getting them next. Is it too late to have a Kickstarter page to find me to go out there? I’m too much of a wuss to get on a plane for 8 hours anyway!
Their on stage presence just makes you want to start a band. I think I spent most of the time staring at Alex and being in awe of how great a drummer he is. He makes you want to do exactly what he does. He truly is phenomenal and I hope if anyone ever made a list of the best drummers around he would be the top choice. But please know that during each song, all band members truly do shine but during some songs you take notice of a certain band member. No Better Prize sees you staring at awe at Hannah’s guitar skills. This song is a real intimate part of the show- it’s just Hannah and Colette on stage playing this. They perform it with such power, you don’t realise that there are other people in the room. Sure Hannah nails it during the end of Scarlet, but there is something extremely fragile and poignant about this song and how they do it live.Speaking of Scarlet, that’s the one where you really focus on Rich and how great a bass player he is. He moves furiously and plays with such purpose, making you wish you could play like that. Scarlet is the song that everyone goes nuts to, and I reckon it’s the bass that sets us all off. How could it not?! Blindfold is a personal song, whoever you are you will feel this song. You’ll see yourself in it and for this reason and how Colette sings it makes it her moment. Of course she’s got a brilliant voice, but there is really something about Blindfold that really makes you connect with the song. That’s the job of the singer, and she does it perfectly. Colette’s voice reminds me of singers I love such as Shirley Manson and Patti Smith. She can sound so delicate in one song but can flip to being dominant. Regardless, you pay attention and you listen. Alex Robins. Where do you begin on his drumming. After much thought I think I’ll go with Creeping. Inititally I was going with Crest because it’s so brutal and is one of the louder tracks on the record. But, I’ll stick with Creeping. He smacks the cymbal like a wave crashing crumbling and faded rocks. His drumming on Creeping sends the song swirling all around you and no part of you feels like you are where you are. Put all of these factors together from each of them, and you truly do have, hand on heart, the perfect/ideal band.

When I listen to 2:54, I just want to sit and write about what their music does and it all it stirrs inside of you. When I see them live I wish to cast real life aside and do something other than what I have to do every day. There is truly something special about them and I feel for anyone who has yet to see it, or who has yet to listen to them or has disregarded them. They’re easy to write about because they are just everything I love about music and why I probably won’t be satisfied until I’ve made some kind of career out of writing about music. 9-5 doesn’t sit well with me, it makes me feel uncomfortable. I don’t adapt to routine.

Music should do something to you that a person can’t. It should take you to a place that no mode of transport can drag you too. It’s a wave of emotions and moments of realisation. If you’re feeling lost, go to a gig. Go to a record store. Go into the unknown and be transported towards something else. Something you have probably been looking for. I recommend you start with 2:54. Listen to them on the move, in your room. Go to their shows and allow yourself to feel something so gloriously sacred.
 

*Note: This was written at 9 this morning on the train to work in about 20 minutes, 2:54 make it so easy to write about music and all it means to a person.





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.