Monday, 7 July 2008

Gigs Gigs Gigs

Since my last update..... I've seen Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan, Leonard Cohen in Dublin, My Bloody Valentine, The Transmitters and most recently Pentangle.
So here's my update and some photos....
First up, Campbell and Lanegan. Went with Debbie to see them at Shepherds Bush. Playing tracks from their new collaboration as well as a mixture of tracks from their first album and a sprinkling of Lanegan classics. Was great, got there early and got front row Tier 1 seats. Marvellous!
Campbell has pulled together another great album and used the magic of Lanegan's awesome voice, their harmonies complementary...... stunning. And they finished with "Wedding Dress", a Lanegan classic, his bourbon growl leaving me most happy!

Next up, Leonard Cohen, after being robbed blind by his accountant whilst in a bhuddist retreat, the now skint poet and singer songwriter needed this tour. As the O2 was sold out, we flew over to Dublin for 1p return (15 quid with tax!), I expected a downbeat gig, melancholic, reflective, the audience was comprised of all ages, pensioners to young goth girls. The weather looked miserable, clouds swirled and darkened as he began his set and I thought here goes.... But he surprised me, Deb had told me it wouldn't be depressing, his songs *are* full of joy, and I was geniunely moved by the passion, dignity and graciousness of the man. The rain was threatening, and eventually it came, but it didn't matter. For half an hour it poured, and as the clouds cleared, he upped it a level. His lyrics are beautiful, complex without being contrived. He sings of love, sex, religion, the human spirit....well worth seeing him if you ever get a chance.... I am honoured to have been there. He's 74 now, I would hope he would tour again, but this may be the last time I will meet him (he made it feel personal for me...ok!)

My Bloody Valentine at the Roundhouse.... muuurrrghhhhhhhh (that's the sound of me drooling). Extreme shoegazing... I was so excited about this one, was playing both of their albums at ear bleeding volume in the car before the gig as gig training. They were magnificent! I was too young and skint to see them the first time round, so this was kid in a candy shop time. Got seats and saw them with John from work. I would reccomend seats at the roundhouse, a couple of dodgy pillars can restrict the view of the stage, but the views are pretty much clear from any seat.
And so it began, Bilinda Butcher at one end of the stage, Kevin Shields at the other, dwarfed by mega-sized amps, almost lazilly thrashing out their melodic noise onslaught, harmonising their vocals and building up the wall of sound that crashed into us wave after wave. One reviewer described Butcher as looking like she was doing the dishes, a little faraway smile on her face. It was reverb, pitch bending and shearing metal, but underneath it all, glorious pop songs. The rythym section in the middle was more animated, Debbie Googe side on to the stage bouncing around and bludgeoning her bass and Colm O'Ciosoig battering the shit out of his kit.
It was wonderful. Feed Me With Your Kiss was a highlight for me, so much more to it live, and it's a big tune already! Apparantley they were handing out ear plugs before the gig. Missed out on that, but being in seats I was lucky to be far enough away for it not to be uncomfortable when they finished with You Made Me Realise. Being a newbie to the live experience, I had no idea I was to witness a traditional 25 minute white noise, one chord frenzy. On the Friday and Saturday I am told they played this for 15 minutes, we got the 25 minute special :)
It was like the military were testing a new sound weapon, people were wincing and dropping like flies, leaving the auditorium. It was like having your fillings electrocuted, your ears gouged out with a spanner and your chest pounded by four gorrillas fighting over a sledgehammer. I didn't quite see anyone's head explode, but the guy sitting in front of us, a middle aged man who was moments before swapping tongues with his wife, was suddenly holding his head and writhing in some noise-induced-sado-masochistic ecstacy. His wife (embarrassed) sort of shuffled across to an empty seat, (vacated by a noise casualty) and twiddled her thumbs until her hubby calmed down enough to stop his mind-wank. I know I shouldn't laugh, but I did, heartily, and as it was so loud, no one could hear me scream.
Here is a youtube link to the carnage. I will look forward to their new album, my ears are now thankfully tinitus free.
My Bloody Valentine White Noise Onslaught
Who next? The Transmitters, my second time to see the Transmitters, this time at a fave venue of mine the Water Rats. Good to see Matt before the gig, and Gloria the new singer was great, did justice to the established songs and made her mark with the new too. Glad to see the band won the war of nerves and played through Dirty Sister in the dark until the lights came back on!
Here's some pics. First up, me, Bossman and Laura Bossman cheesing it up! I've got 5 chins in this though. I must sort out my fitness!

Finally, if you are still awake, I was excited about seeing the Folk-Jazz-Blues supergroup of the 60's and early 70's, Pentangle. This was their reunion tour. 40 years to the day, they played Queen Elizabeth Hall, and here they were again. Me and Deb were joined by Sue (it was her b'day pressie having been present at the first gig 40 years previously) and her friend Annie.
And they were great, it was the classic line up, John Renbourn and Bert Jansch are two of the best blues/folk guitarists around, backed up by the tight jazz duo of Terry Cox on drums and Danny Thompson on upright bass, who he affectionately calls Victoria, he's had her over 50 years! Thompson is a bit of a legend, he's worked with many seminal artists (John Lee Hooker, Tim Buckley, Kate Bush, Nick Drake, John Martyn, David Sylvian to sprinkle a few names) and I was surprised and pleased to hear he sessioned on Spirit of Eden by Talk Talk, probably one of the finest albums ever written.
And on vocals Jacqui Mcshee, who's voice seems to have got better with age.
An example of their work here....
Travelling Song by Pentangle
And how they look today (I would have taken more photos but we were "encouraged" not to, on pain of medieval torture)