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

21 11 2016




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



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: