PEACE AND LOVE BARBERSHOP MUHAMMAD ALI. Shacklewell Arms-23rd January 2016.

24 01 2016

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The Shacklewell Arms is easily one of, if not my favourite place to watch bands. The drum kit is in a cave, it’s a small venue, it’s pretty sweaty and fortunately it is 10 minutes away from my house by bus. Oh and most of the gigs they put on are free. The night before I saw Tall Juan and last night I saw Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali.

PALBMA are one of my favourite bands to see live, and I think it’s because they make me want to start a band. I know a lot of what I listen to does make me feel that way, but it’s different with PALBMA. Maybe it’s because they make it look super easy. Besides, if Kim doesn’t leave you wishing you could play bass then you were probably watching the wrong band. I saw them live last year supporting PINS at Oslo in Hackney, but I think this set was better because of the venue. This is the kind of band you need to hear in that kind of venue. Their growling and gnarly sound matches the venue entirely.

Their split 12″ with Druggy Pizza came out late last year, and it consists of 12 songs by the bands that were clearly made to melt the faces off and fry the brains of anyone who listened to it. To get this across at a live show takes some guts, which is probably why PALBMA managed to do it so effortlessly. They were joined on drums by Sophie from PINS. If you’ve seen PINS live, you’ll know how fucking brilliant she is. But because the songs with PALBMA are completely different to PINS you get to see something else. It draws you in completely but Mark, Dale and Kim all have this about them so you’re really never sure where to look. Mark holds his guitar as if it is a machine gun and unleashes a fury upon us all. This is the kind of fury that makes you wish you could do it. Have a go.

The crowd were obviously having the time of their lives watching them, although it got a touch more rowdy when headliners Claw Marks came on. There was a lot of sweat. Sure London crowds do have a rep of being quite uptight, but this was so far from the truth last night. The crowd were delightful. PALBMA for me, are one of those bands who manage to mix everything I love about music and certain bands in particular to create something mind-blowing. Their live shows enhance the thought and care that goes into the music, and that alone sets them apart from other bands. The songs may be short but it’s enough to move bodies and deafen ears. They are gloriously loud, and it’s probably why they’re one of the best bands to watch. You kind of hope some 14 year old misfit finds this band, and is inspired to start their own band as a way of dealing with the world. The fuzzy sounds are ideally to be played as loud as possible, so your neighbour our can enjoy too. Going by their live shows alone, PALBMA deserve to be massive. Regardless of how long the band may last, I’ll probably be blasting out Pretend To Try when I’m 80 telling kids on the street, “In my day this is what we had….”

Manchester is lucky because they can see them play anytime, but I guess that’s what makes you treasure them even more. Especially when they play down here. PALBMA are supporting PINS on their UK tour and they’re also supporting the brilliant BC Camplight in April on his Manchester date.





TALL JUAN. Lock Tavern/Shacklewell Arms (21st & 22nd January 2016.)

23 01 2016

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I’m pretty sure these are my first two shows of the year, and even though I’ve got a rubbish memory, I’m fairly sure I’m going to remember these shows in December. Certain gigs, bands, whatever just stick with you. You always know instantly when something is going to mean a great deal to you.

I wrote about Juan around Christmas time, I was bored at home and I accidentally found his music. I was hooked on his Ramones kind of sound and obviously instantly fell in love with what I was hearing. I caught his show last night at the Lock Tavern in Camden, I don’t think there was more than 30 people there. The stage was tiny. Perfect for a giant to flail about on stage, right? This evening he played the Shacklewell Arms which has a low ceiling. Fortunately Juan isn’t accident prone so no injuries occurred. You always (or you should) take something to treasure from a show. What I took from these two shows was that, Juan is more than just a guy who really digs the Ramones. He’s got a proper Punk sound, and his cover of I Wanna Be Your Dog is one of my favourite things I’ve seen at a show. He plays it in his own way but it’s a way that Iggy would be super proud to hear.

 

I’m not someone who ever takes the set list after a show but for some reason, I did tonight. I wanted to remember what was played during his first UK tour and there’s no way I could remember any other way. His set started with It’s True and went smack into Home. His cover of Chinese Rock  is played quite early on, and it’s one of those covers where you feel it is his song. You don’t feel like it is a Ramones song, and that’s when you know a cover is done right. My two favourite songs he plays (bar the covers) are Far Rockaway and Wake Up Daddy.Break It All is also a great one to watch as he seems to go a bit wild on that one

His energy on stage is what really sets him apart from most. He throws his body about on stage with his guitar firmly on him, knocking the mic stand in a way that makes you think someone is going to get a busted lip or black eye. His songs are gentle at times, and this is where you can hear just how great his voice is. He’s part Joey Ramone, part Buddy Holly. He merges two singers I absolutely adore and has created this sound that is evidently out of this world. The two shows he played in London were free, so I guess it is true what they say- the best things in life are free! The crowd were wonderful and you could tell  that the love was mutual. There’s this infectious passion that comes through when you watch him, and you cannot tear your eyes away. He’s got this way of making you wish you could make this kind of noise with an acoustic guitar. He plays as if his life depends on it, gripping the microphone in his mouth and you get lost in this whirlwind of sweat and fury. It could bring anyone to life. Metaphorically, of course.

 

On record you sometimes can’t imagine how it will come across on stage, but with Juan it is is so easy. He’s just like how you’d imagine him to be. He’s a pleasure to watch and you get a feeling that he can’t believe he’s  come all the way from Far Rockaway to London. Let’s hope it is the start of many more shows here, more people need to be turned onto this guy. I’ve got a few bands/singers I would happily watch live constantly, and Juan is most definitely one of them.





2:54- Shacklewell Arms. 4th December 2014.

5 12 2014

 

 

 

The best things in life are free (thanks Luther and Janet) and also, sometimes the best things are kept a secret. Yesterday afternoon whilst tearing my eyes away from work for a split second (15 minutes) I saw Bella Union’s clue as to who was their secret headliner for their Christmas show at the Shacklewell Arms. The clue was, “an East London bus route.” SO EASY. It’s 2:54. Easily. How did I guess it? Because that’s the bus I spend most of my life on. My plan after work was to go to the gym (this fatty has lost some weight) and go to sleep. Two things I enjoy. I also love 2:54. I love them more than the gym and sleep, and if I didn’t go I’d probably be a bit annoyed. So off I went!

A band called Landshapes were on first., who were mighty impressive. Their singer sounds a bit like both Emily and Jenny from Warpaint mixed with Foals-esque sounds. What I did hear/see was pretty damn good.

At around half 10 Alex, Colette and Hannah took to the stage to perform an acoustic set. Colette told me afterwards that they couldn’t get their gear out of their lock-up and get it to Shacklewell Arms in time, as they finish work at 9pm. The fact that they have day jobs makes me respect them a bit more you know? Most bands I listen to do work as well as in a band, it’s hard. It’s really hard. I can’t pretend I can relate, I wish I could. But not being paid to write about Music but having a desk job during the day isn’t really the same. Being in a band requires more effort and dedication.

I don’t know if it is old age or sheer tiredness, but I cannot remember the setlist. I know they opened with Crest and closed with Sugar. The Monaco was also played. I wish I could remember the other 2/3 songs they did, but it is half 8 and I’ve had 5 hours sleep. I hope today is gentle with me.

Seeing a band like 2:54 do an acoustic set was truly special. I don’t know how everyone else in the crowd felt (there was about 30 people, they all buggered off after Landshapes for some stupid reason) but it was beautiful. If you’ve ever seen 2:54 live you’ll know that it’s quite intense and heavy. They are gentle version of one of my favourite (and ultimately one of the greatest) bands, Sleep. My Gran has got me a Sleep t-shirt for Christmas, she’s the best. 2:54’s sound captures everything I absolutely love about music. They’ve got this heightened sensation in their sound that has really come alive on their new record, The Other I. Everything about their music is dark, ethereal and really intense. I don’t know how many times I play them at work to get me through staring at a spreadsheet. It bloody helps. I probably annoy everyone drumming along on the desk.

Alex, as I’ve said so many times, is easily my favourite drummer around. He’s a pleasure to watch and he just makes you wish you could play the drums. In their set last night he really shone during The Monaco. I love the regimented drumming on it mixed with Colette’s delicate voice. Then we have Hannah. If you ever feel the need to make a list of the best guitarists (please exclude gender as gender shouldn’t be a ruling factor) then she needs to undoubtedly be number 1. I think I spent the evening admiring her gorgeous Fender acoustic and being in awe of how brilliant she is. I could never get tired of watching them live or acoustic. I love how Colette is on stage, her enforcing hand gestures are equally as dominant during an acoustic set as they are during their normal live set-up. I’ve said it before, she moves on stage as if she could bust out a verse by say, Wu Tang Clan word for word with no problem at all. If you’re one of those people who seek to define music by gender or are constantly looking for “the best front-woman” then just look at her. However, if you want a band that have everything and know that gender shouldn’t define a person’s profession, then 2:54 are that band. What I’m trying to say is, 2:54 are bloody great and I want you to love them.

When you see a band you really love in such an intimate setting, it makes you appreciate their music a lot more and you hear the pieces you may not always hear on record. Not only are they an excellent band, they are genuinely the loveliest people I’ve met. Also, I know nothing about fashion but Colette had on a beautiful coat. Just incase you were wondering.

2:54 are out on tour in February playing Manchester, Bristol and London. A drunken decision was made last Friday with my good friend to go see them in Manchester. If I had the funds, I’d do Bristol too. But hey, 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad.

Go to your local record store and pick up the finest band on Bella Union’s new record, The Other I by 2:54. It is full of mystical wonder and heavy sounds, mixed with haunting vocals.