L.A.WITCH. The Shacklewell Arms, 18th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Much like last night with FINALLY getting to see The Vacant Lots live after waiting for what seemed an age- I started it off with L.A. Witch on Friday at The Shacklewell Arms. There’s something truly moving about seeing a band you’re really into, in your favourite venue.

I first wrote about L.A. Witch in 2013, and since then I’ve just been waiting and waiting to see them live. When I heard they were supporting The Kills on their US tour this year, every part of me wish I had a lot of money and wasn’t scared of flying so I could go see them. There’s really no better band to support The Kills, that’s for sure. When I heard they were playing London I bought myself a ticket the second they went on sale. I didn’t care if I was the only one there or if it was going to be rammed- I was going. Nothing and no one would get in my way.

They opened their set with the insane Kill My Baby Tonight and ended with Get Lost. What happened in between was a mind-blowing affair and something I wish I could experience all of the time. It’s a high, a sensation that stays with you and you find yourself comparing every show to it. This was their first ever London show, and I kept thinking, “Is this how people felt when they saw the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free?” Maybe. Maybe not. I’m going with a firm yes on this one because it was THAT good.

The band are fronted by Sade who projects this captivating voice that makes you feel as if Ronnie Spector has picked up a guitar and listened to some Garage Rock. Maybe that’s what drew me in this first place all those years ago. Everything about L.A. Witch is just so effortlessly brilliant and the right kind of cool. Yeah, I know the word “cool” is so redundant but certain people are worthy of it. L.A. Witch most definitely are.

I’m pretty sure that the venue was filled over capacity but who cares? Our crammed and sweaty bodies were too busy falling in love with the band. Nothing mattered. The outside world wasn’t getting in and rules weren’t not being applied. And rightfully so. If you’ve ever formed an attachment to a band and just wanted to go to every show they do, then you might understand my love for L.A. Witch and why one show just doesn’t feel enough. If I had the holiday time and the money, I would have happily done the whole tour.

I was in awe of their performance and how much everyone loved them. When a band you’ve backed for so long come to the place where you live, it just means so much to you. And I am not ashamed in stating that I felt like a proud parent as I gazed at the stage at these 3 wonderfully talented people. Some people spend their Friday nights getting wasted, but I’ll take seeing a band like this any day. I always thought that when I finally saw L.A. Witch live, it would have to be in a cramped and sweaty setting. My wish was granted. This is how they should be heard.

Irita makes you wish you could play bass, Ellie makes you want to beat the shit out of the drums and Sade makes you wish you could make a crowd swoon and sway with your hypnotic guitar grooves and vocals. Three is truly the magic number, L.A. Witch completely and utterly back this theory.

I’ve said it many times before but there really is something special about seeing a band you’ve loved for so long live. It’s a feeling that stays with you, it’s a feeling you constantly crave. Once is most certainly not enough here, so here’s hoping they come back soon!





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.





THE KILLS: Roundhouse. 7th October 2016

8 10 2016


The thing about the aftermath of a gig is the comedown that ruins you. For those couple of hours when you’re crammed in a room full of people who are there with the same motives and thoughts as you is comforting. It becomes your own little world. A world you normally create within the walls of your mind, and in your bedroom. For those few hours you’re not on your own, you feel like you’re home. That’s the power and that’s the beauty of live music. It gives us all a place.

The Roundhouse is a venue I’ve never really felt anything towards. I’m not into big venues. I last went there last year to see Patti Smith and I had a great time. Last night, I saw The Kills on the last date of their UK tour. Was it the best place to see them? Yes. Easily. I saw them 8 days before on the opening night of the tour in Manchester, and even though they’ve been on the road for so long, their show last night looked as if they were just getting started.

Their set is made up of tender moments such as when Alison rests her head on Jamie’s shoulder at the end of Pots And Pans. To when he glides over to her holding his gun like a weapon, then facing it onto the crowd. The way they look at each other, the way they scale the crowd with their eyes, how Jamie is easily the best guitarist I’ve ever seen, how Alison bends her body backwards during Whirling Eye and you think she’s about to snap, how Alison stalks the stage- all these moments and more lock you in. You know where to look. But are you aware of how it’s going to make you feel?
There is something truly, truly special about seeing your favourite band live. Being at the front and one of them look at you as they sing a song you love. You wish you could thank them for these moments- so, I guess writing this is my thank you. Eyes locked and a line from Hard Habit To Break is sung at me. Aware but unaware. I can keep that moment locked somewhere forever.
The set is similar to Manchester but along the way they’ve added songs- they added Love Is A Deserter and Let It Drop. I hadn’t given much attention to Let It Drop, but sometimes when you witness a song live, it changes your view on it. The lyrics are great, and I’m not sure why I’ve not played it as much as others off Ash & Ice.

Let’s go back to the tender moments of the show. For the encore, Alison takes to the stage to perform That Love. A heartbreaker of a song, but if your mind is in a rut, play it and it will help. Trust me. I mean, you’ll cry but that’s okay. What comes after That Love? The Last Goodbye. I’ve always had a hard time listening to that song, and for a period of time when Blood Pressures came out, that song meant the world to me. It in a sense, became my world. For sentimental reasons, that record was my glue for a long time. I thought seeing it live would just break my heart. I’m not in that place anymore, so why would it? Because the lyrics are gorgeous. I don’t know where Alison goes in her mind when she sings this, but there’s no way I could do it. Despite all that, it was truly a beautiful song to finally see live. The lyrics are just beautiful, and the care and feeling that is within them is mind blowing.
The set ends with Sour Cherry. The perfect song to end on (check the lyrics.) But you just don’t want it to be over. It is over far too soon. You feel as if it has just started, and it is done.

The Kills are a band that have no bounds with regard to who is a fan of theirs or who goes to their shows. There is a beautiful mixture of people at their shows irrespective of age, gender, race etc. There’s just nothing there to pin point what kind of person loves this band, and that shows the power they have. It’s amazing to be part of, and as mentioned many times before, being in that moment where it’s just you, them and others who love them as much as you- it makes nothing matter. All that matters is the music.

The gentle songs like Echo Home break your heart (the lyrics are perfect) are intertwined with rowdy limb flailing Whirling Eye to U.R.A Fever. When you think you know what you’re going to get, they upper cut you and you are constantly left in awe. Your head is swimming, jaw on the floor and you want more, and more. I could quite happy watch them play every night and cling on to this feeling as tight as I possibly can. There’s no replica for this. You can’t substitute it for something else.
Your favourite band will always be your world. Live music will always be a way to escape whatever you need, and part of the escapism is finding something you need. And when you get it, cling. Cling. The Kills are medicine for the mind, body and soul. They create moments for you to live in. You feel powerful with their words ringing in your ear. Everyone does mention this bond they have, and it is truly one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see. 

I could quite happily write thousands and thousands of words about them and their live shows, but words don’t do any of it justice at all.

*all photos from the show are mine.





THE KILLS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 29th September 2016.

30 09 2016

I’ve had next to no sleep so what you are about to read is the ramblings of someone who has trouble sleeping at the best of times, but this time it is coming from a better place. 
In 2003 I remember vividly sitting in my room with my ears pressed again my stereo. Not too loud because I had school the next day and of course, I didn’t want my mum to know I was still awake. I was listening to a John Peel show and he had a band called The Kills doing a session. They did Gypsy Death & You, and I was hooked. A few years later I would name this blog after that. And over the years, that song became my crutch. It still is. I saw them live in 2008 at The Sugarmill in Stoke. I was right at the front and my mind was blown and I was in a daze as I looked up at the two people I absolutely idolise. Move forward 8 years and after missing out in the years between due to circumstances out of my hands, I saw them last night in Manchester.
The setlist was perfect. They are perfect and this was easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. It’s the way they look at each other, it’s the way Alison bends herself in a way that makes you think she’s going to snap, it’s the way Jamie holds his guitar like a machine gun and aims at us. It’s the way that they put everything into it and you cannot help but stare at them in awe. You just don’t know who to watch.


There’s so much importance within their songs for me and it’s the songs that you can probably say, saved a life a few times. Their music has been keeping me sane for well over a decade and from them, I’ve learnt that you just need one person on your side and all is alright.
There’s a moment in the set where Jamie stands at the front with his guitar and at the end, Alison lovingly kisses his shoulder and it’s moments like this that make you see just how beautiful their friendship is. He walks up to her as she sings, strutting with his guitar in a way that looks like a big brother endearingly winding up their little sister. They look at each other with an emotion that not everyone gets to experience, and when you do- you just know.
The setlist is perfect, it truly is. In an ideal world they would play each record from start to finish and I’d just stand all day watching them, ha. Their is a brilliant mix of all 5 records, and hearing Dead Road 7 live is something that leaves you with goosebumps all over. 
For the encore, Alison takes to the stage on her own and does That Love. I remember when I got my copy of the new record, Ash & Ice and before I played it, I read the lyrics. I had the record next to me to place on my record player, and I sat and studied the lyrics first. I always do this. I read the lyrics to That Love and instead of playing it all in order, I went straight for that song. The words meant something at the time and gave me something I needed. This can be said for a lot of their songs. To hear it stripped back like this was truly gorgeous and we got to see just how strong her voice is. 

There is something special about the way they perform Siberian Nights and Fried My Little Brains. It just leaves you again, with goosebumps all over and the inability to speak afterwards. They are truly mind-blowing to watch, for so many reasons. Songs like Tape Song and Black Balloon give you courage and the beauty in Baby Says just leaves you frozen. 


As I watched Alison stalk the stage like a lioness waiting on their prey, and how she moves across the stage looking at the crowd-how she performs reminds me so much of the greats such as Iggy Pop, Patti Smith. The ones who are fearless and captivating. I looked at Jamie and all I could think was, “you make it look so easy.” And again, I just wished I could play the guitar. His machine gun stance and her prowling are just the perfect combination. It goes beyond music, it always has. Their shows are made up of moments that the person watching will take with them forever. Moments that become so sacred to them. At times you also feel you are looking in on something private yet exposed at their shows, and I think that it part of what lures you in and makes you unsure of where to look. They don’t need to engage with small talk to the crowd, they really don’t. Their music and the looks on their faces do it all. That for me, makes them tower over most. That for me just explains everything I love about them. The music says it all. Always has, always will. It’s just so powerful and enthralling.

At 1am this morning, after waiting in the rain since the show ended and after waiting 13 years- I met Alison Mosshart. I didn’t by no means get to tell her what I wanted/needed to, and maybe one day in the future our paths will cross again and I can tell her. But I met her. I met the person I have looked up to for so long, and when this happens something inside of you changes. The same feeling I got when I met Patti Smith hit me-but without the ugly crying. For me, this show had so much sentimental value for reasons you, dear reader, you don’t need to know. Maybe you already know why. I could write so much more about last night, but I’ll save it up for the next show.

Meet your heroes. Go watch them play. I’m seeing The Kills again a week today in London. The first and last show. My brain will be fried once more.

*photos of the show taken by me. 





TALL JUAN: The Shacklewell Arms. 27th July 2016.

30 07 2016

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When a singer you adore plays a venue you absolutely love for free, it doesn’t matter that you have to be up at stupid o’clock the next day to go to work. Nothing matters when you’re completely immersed in music and your surroundings.

A few months ago I saw Juan play The Lock Tavern and Shacklewell Arms the night after, both shows were insane and with a full band. This time, it was just Juan and his guitar. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it would be something that would stay on my mind for some time. If you’ve ever seen one of Tall Juan’s shows, you’ll see just how much he puts into it and how everything that watches him just ends up being besotted with him. He’s got this beautiful and endearing personality that just draws you in, and makes you love his music even more. His music is Rockabilly clashing with the Ramones.

His set is fast, brutally fast. His songs are played with such urgency and a passion that is highly addictive. He takes you back to when Punk first emerged, and you can’t help but think Joey Ramones soul is buried inside of Juan. Somehow. He makes his acoustic guitar sound like a ferocious weapon but at the same time makes you want to dance, or just through your body round in an unconventional manner.

He played a couple of covers in his set, and ended with his brilliant cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog. He nails the opening to the song in a way that The Stooges didn’t, and makes you question if you still like the original or not (you do, of course you do but this is something else.) He blasts his way through Commando by the Ramones but from a personal view there’s one cover he does that just made my night. Last year when I first wrote about Juan, I mentioned my love for his take on Chinese Rock by the Ramones and any chance I get to talk about Juan or to Juan, I always mention it. So on Wednesday evening, just before he ripped into his perfect version of Chinese Rock, he dedicated it to me. Sure I felt like I won the lottery but I was also super proud of my friend on stage making all these people feel good and getting them to move about. His love for the Ramones is obvious, it’s obvious in everyone who loves that band. And just like Juan, I first heard them when I was 7/8 years ago- it stays with you and their music influences you in so many ways. To see someone like Juan emulate in a way, all that Joey Ramone was is such a lovely thing to see- he makes you believe in music again. There’s no one else that’s quite like Juan, and this passion he has for making music and playing shows is nothing short of admirable.

I always feel much better after I’ve been to one of his shows, it’s like a kickstart to the gut. I’d highly recommend seeing him wherever and whenever you can. His music is for those who like to put on some headphones and zone out from the world for a while. I like to listen to him on my way to work because I can’t deal with how rude some people are in London at the moment, it’s the ideal way to block it all out. I’m just not cut out for a busy place and Juan’s music is that perfect escape. His shows are exactly the same.

I’ve said it many times before about Juan- he’s the Punk hero we need. Punk isn’t dead, far from it. It’s in people like Juan. It’s still there, and always will be.

Once you’ve listened to his music, shall we all just pack up our stuff and run off to Far Rockaway?





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

 





GROSS NET/GIRLS NAMES. The Lexington. 19th February 2016.

20 02 2016

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I shouldn’t have gone out last night. I’m ill, I guess. But not in a conventional “I have a cold” kind of way but in a “no one knows what’s wrong with me, I’m in pain and I want to cry” kind of me. Apparently it’s the nerves in my neck. I’m a clumsy fucker at the best of times, but I know I’ve not done anything recently to warrant doing such damage. Although, I have a slight disregard for my general well-being so who knows! Standing for a few hours was the dumbest thing I could have done, and I’ve only just managed to get out of bed. I’ve got my own playlist sorted for my MRI scan next week/week after, and as someone who can’t sit still I’ve most definitely picked the wrong kind of songs to listen to. Moving on and pain aside. Gross Net. Girls Names. Last night.

Gross Net is Phil from Girls Names making a lot of noise and probably terrifying the crowd. In certain places, I’m sure they wouldn’t “get” it. Places like London and Manchester would and did. As Gross Net, Phil pretty much seems like a young Nick Cave circa Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party. When he’s not holding his guitar, he grips the mic and flails it around as if his life depends on it. Seeing a band or singer expose themselves like this what makes them believable and it is what makes them so easy to relate to. To make his set even better, I got a song dedication. If I was in a band, I’d probably pick people out and aim songs at them. Be fruity kids, it’s fine. With a knowing point and my name spoken through the mic, Phil rips into a song that I was pretty pleased to have dedicated to me. He closed his set with a song for those on the dole. I’m fairly sure most weren’t expecting this kind of declaration on a Friday night, but who cares. I loved every minute of it, and I was immediately back in 2010-2011 when I spent too much time on the dole and having my soul crushed by the job centre every Friday for £70 a week. I coped, just about. Time changes everything to an extent. Phil ends this song screaming into the mic in the crowd, as the end of the song draws near he places the mic around the neck of a bewildered person in the crowd and walks off. The guy had no idea what to do, gave it a few minutes and removed the mic from his neck and placed it on the ground. Far too polite.

I’ve been a fan of Girls Names for ages but this was the first time seeing them live. I was immediately drawn to bassist, Claire and how she is probably one of the best bassist I’ve ever seen. Now, if I was going to list my favourite live bands I would easily put Girls Names in the top 5. Maybe it’s because they were playing one of the best venues in the country or maybe, maybe it’s because they are just so fucking(sorry) good. I firmly believe that when you go to a gig, you should leave wanting to start a band. Girls Names did more than this. I felt like I was watching The Fall or The Jesus And Mary Chain for the first time. I felt like I had gone back in time and I was anywhere but in London. Maybe I was in the depths of Berlin or maybe I was in an alleyway in Manchester; I don’t know. But I do know that gigs like this just stick in my mind for a long, long time.

What I loved about their show last night was that each person in the band got their chance to show us all what they’re made of. I loved during the encore Phil was going into Claire’s bass as if he was telling her to get out of his space. It was in a sibling kind of way- a gentle shove and neither was going to back down. Cathal was ramming his guitar into the speaker behind him giving off this excess feedback which just made you wish the show wasn’t about to end. Gib was beating the crap out of the drums with such fury. These Belfast bruisers make enough noise for anyone to go slightly deaf, and that’s part of the charm. If a band is wonderfully and obnoxiously loud, I’ll probably love them. Girls Names last night easily cemented why they are probably one of the best bands around. I could go on for ages about how great they were and hope they just sum up everything I love about music. They have a sound that I’m always looking for. They remind me of bands I love such as Bauhaus and Cold Cave but they also sound like nothing else. They are a band to be treasured and seen at any chance one gets.

On record they are noisy but I firmly believe that Girls Names are one of those bands that you just have to see, and sometimes London crowds have a rep of being a bunch of stale dicks but in this case, they really weren’t. This was one of the best crowds I’ve seen and I’m fairly sure that’s part of what made the show last night nothing short of perfect. Their dark but entirely comforting sound may be a turn off for those who want conventional and tame sounds- don’t surround yourself with people who want that. Go find those who aren’t afraid to be engulfed by sounds so dark, creepy and loud. Let the sounds rip through you and let the lyrics make you question everything, and everyone. They’re the kind of band I wish I was in. I’ve said it loads but this is the kind of music I’d probably make if I had any musical talent.

Go see them, let them deafen you and buy one of Phil’s “reasonably priced tapes.”