A summary of the past 3 months…..
I have been unfathomably useless at writing any form of review in the past 3 months despite the sheer amount of incredible gigs, albums, happenings etc. that have occurred since the start of October and this megablog is a vow to rectify that before I run out of time and it’s 2014.
End of year lists are both my favourite and least favourite thing to do and this place is no exception, since writing my H&H lists I’ve remembered at least a thousand things I’ve missed so here’s where I’m fixing it, but first i figured, instead of trying to review each one individually which I have made a dastardly (4 paragraphs to cover at least 8 gigs,but only actually covering 1/3 of one and 1/4 of another, both Suede) attempt at so far, I figured I’d do a little bit about each all in one blog so I can forgive myself without having to spend the next six months trying to finish all 8 and then stick up my lists/what you need to hear if you haven’t already/what’s up in 2014/will I stop talking about Suede for a bit now they’ve disappeared for a while decisions at the end in segments for an hour up to the clock striking midnight, while we all get suitably pissed and no one reads them anyway, but the concept is there. If you read all of this, I salute you my friend.
Anyway, we last left off after I’d seen Spector back at the start of October and next up were the events I’d been looking forward to since the end of March, Suede tour, and by the Monday prior, after a call from XFM, the (sort of) gig level had risen to 4 and first up was undoubtedly the most exciting one o’ the lot, The Garage.
I’ve never seen a band I’ve loved so much in a venue so small, and having queued all day, awkwardly complimented Brett Anderson on his hat and got some incredibly brilliant strange looks, along with the ace members of the queue and gang, finding myself at the barrier being deafened by The Graveltones not even a metre away where Suede would soon be, the excitement had understandably risen. Anyway, sooner or later the inevitable happened and barely 3 songs in, everyone was crushed to death and gasping for air while curiously watching Banderson have a diva strop, splay himself across the fan and demand all the doors open because he was too hot, now that may sound like a negative, but the tightly packed madness that was occurring was a key factor in making it the best one of the lot. The setlist was impeccable too, rare tracks like Moving, amongst those that even I didn’t know exactly all the words to (see Painted People), made things all seem a bit 1993 again, and I for one, despite being biologically -3 at the time, believed it was, with a few welcome lineup alterations, naturally.
The highlight undoubtedly though, was Daddy’s Speeding, I didn’t know the words, I disliked the song and never really listened to it, but the intensity with which it was played live was incomprehensible and was a performance like I’ve never seen and probably will never see again, I don’t remember all that much of the gig after it, but it remained at the level of complete brilliance and by the time the encore had been played, nobody could quite believe what had just happened and we all stared at each other unsure of how to voice it. Naturally things got more surreal after the decision to peacefully ambush them afterwards, and landing in an ibis at 1am in whitechapel suddenly realising what had just happened remains the biggest ‘fucking hell that was unbelieveable’ moment of my life. I’m sat here writing this over 2 months later on New Years Eve and I still get that feeling in my stomach, it was incredible. And I got to do it all again on Friday, sort of.
With barely 24 hours to recover from that one, I’d feigned illness at college and found myself back on a train to London facing frantic tweets of “just seen Brett, wasn’t prepared and hid, where are you?!” that made my stomach flip slightly more than it already was at the prospect of facing Suede, 2 guitars and a tambourine, yet again in a tiny studio with only 29 other people. Nonetheless, after getting lost in Leicester Square at rush hour, I found myself sat with extra sparkly wristband enjoying free skittles & fanta (like the complete child I remain) next to 3 members of Suede recalling tales of kids parks, I noted this was the strangest situation I’d found myself in yet, even more so than the horse incident the night before, but was enjoying it nonetheless. After that had happened and we’d been packed into a room through which the band sat behind a glass screen playing as if in some kind of awkward zoo exhibit, and really did sound good.
They played a few acoustic tracks from the new album, all the standard expected ones in nicely rearranged acoustical manner that still blow my mind a little bit, before finally launching into an acoustic version of Still Life, I’d never expected to hear it live in any form at all, letalone here, it’s my favourite off that entire album, but I haven’t ever heard anything as simply beautiful as it sounded before, and have constantly listened to it since just to remind myself. Anyway it was all too soon over and sprinting through London streets entailed, I had a gig to get to back in Guildford, and I was already late, but equally have never felt better than I did gazing from the lit up Southbank having just experienced that thinking that possibly my life could not improve anymore now, naturally it did, but I had to wait nearly a whole week to see them again first.
The gig in question was Red Kites hitting The Boileroom, i made it as they were onstage and they played a blinder, then I got given free noodles and as you all should know, The Boileroom does the best noodles in the world. I couldn’t decide what was the best part about that day to be honest.
Onwards, Southampton was always gonna be an odd one, excited nonetheless I was hiding in the station outside college where the only Southampton train left from risking life and limb to avoid all teachers and friends trying to inconspicuously slouch in a fur coat reading articles about the newly appointed Q Icons whose official tour started tonight, though already halfway through my lot. I ended up there much earlier than anticipated, having pre drunk (it had just about gone 12) I headed off in search of food and the Guildhall, it was only 1pm. Naturally it was completely deserted, having seen the lack of Garage queue til later I was cool with it and wandered, Southampton’s a good place for that evidently but by 5 I was still sat in a cafe opposite the venue desperate for signs of life from anyone and anything, and strictly paranoid of being alone and seeing anyone and anything to do with the band in question. thankfully, when a guy not much older than myself appeared in Suede t shirt and sat down on the steps opposite began reading the Suede book, i stopped being paranoid I was in the wrong place altogether (it had reached those lengths) and fired up a conversation, out of nowhere within 2 minutes we were sat outside a pub with another man I’d never met in my life before, every “stranger danger” rule of life broken, but as per Suede fan standards, they turned out to be some of the nicest people I’ve ever spoken to. Soon 1/2 the gang were assembled and the barrier was easily upon us. Teleman were even better than they were at Kenwood and Suede hit the stage.
The crowd was admittedly more than a bit lifeless, we tried to compensate on their behalf as best we could. We didn’t even realise til the intro of Faultlines occurred and we were repeatedly going “When the hell are they going to do something not new??? This is seriously lagging now” that they’d just played the whole of Bloodsports in full, as Banderson remarked mere minutes later with a sly grin at the unfortunate despair of ‘we really need something to jump to’ on our faces. It was a brilliant run through to be fair, but it’s a very intense album towards the end, and one that doesn’t play out so well with a room of people 90% of which are there for a nostalgia trip and couldnt care less about the first half of the set, at least we tried, the album remains one of my favourites. Then they hit back in full style, every single in chronological order gave it all a strange structured take for a Suede show, but we welcomed them all and the crowd woke up again, it was really another incredible Suede show after all. They even did Stay Together which was unbelievable, not that anyone could hit the high notes no matter how hard we tried. It wasn’t til I was sat on the wall outside at about midnight that it suddenly hit me they hadn’t played Flashboy, undoubtedly their best live song ever, or any other b sides, I felt a little cheated but nonetheless, if a bit strange of a day, it was an ace night.
Albeit too soon, the final leg was Birmingham, the day the whole of the gang – after many failed attempts – finally met and saw Suede together, and if that wasn’t the best thing on earth, nothing was. However being the eager queueing fiend and insisting we had to be there a day early (unfortunately later to find it was more probably an hour), the night before I found myself lost in The Bull Ring HMV being near trampled by screaming pre-teens because Union J were doing a signing at the back, they’d roped off the R-V section of CD’s and we swiftly escaped back.
Having stayed up til midnight throwing excitable tweets at each other, I’ve never been happier to wake up on a rock hard bed overlooking a shifty intercity car park because I knew this would make up for all Southampton’s slight disappointments and somehow it might even beat The Garage. Naturally for the first time in living history, by 1pm the entire gang had assembled outside the o2 slightly freezing and talking about micras, standard procedure. Things got worse and worse and eventually we resorted to playing with a balloon, while edgily wondering if the others round the back had seen any signs of life yet. In telepathic style we suddenly decided to go have a look, no one else was joining the queue anyway, and as if by magic as we did they were all standing there, nobody knew what to do and after trying to look inconspicuous we were recognised and swiftly ran back round the front. The surreal trend of all Suede gigs had started again. By the time the doors had opened, we’d snuck ourselves into the priority queue (we were suedegang, after all) and hit the barrier one final time, Teleman kept getting better (really, go see them live) and all too soon we were looking at each other in fear as the Rachminoff kicked in, we’d been waiting for this since early April.
Birmingham was polar opposite to the scale of Southampton, having been informed of a not so great crowd the night before, the band seemed to lap up the fact it was nearly as rowdy as The Garage was and tearing about the stage at full blast. The setlist too seemed the absolute perfect balance of everything and it seemed nothing could go wrong from the first haunting bars of High Rising (probably the best & most powerful live song I’ve ever seen next to Daddy’s Speeding) right through to the inevitable whistling of New Generation (he tries, bless) and it didn’t. The Living Dead absolutely floored everyone and took on a whole new level of hard hitting, I think I was more than one of a few cases that nearly had tears pouring down their faces at it, and Modern Boys was the least expected and most brilliant one of the lot. The second they left the stage we were unsure what to do next, and to be honest I still am, we figured we hadn’t had a proper chance to say thanks yet and dived for the doors out the back, a decoy led us away and we managed to miss them, but only to be approached a few minutes later with a handful of setlists all individually named and signed for us, despite having never really established ourselves as a gang except at the hands of Codling’s twitter, which made things all too surreal and incomprehensible for my small brain again and the only option was to return to the hotel, drink a lot of cider and wonder what to do with the rest of our lives. I’m still in that state now, I was intendin gthese to be short summaries of the gigs but I’ve typed too much again haven’t I? Suede are the best thing that’s happened to me all year and that moment was like no other will ever be, it’s framed on my wall now.
(if you filmed this, i believe you were stood next to me, sorry for my singing)
November was then a horrible month, not a gig, not a whisper, just no Suede, but as endless college work, UCAS interviews and such prevailed, it was soon 4th December, the start to the second best gigging week of the year and Palma Violets were hitting Concorde 2, though on the journey down, realising I was in London the next day anyway, I’d swiftly tweeted to nab a ticket for them at The Coronet the next day aswell, first things first though, Brighton.
Telegram hit the stage promptly after doors and they were secretly who I was looking forward to most, like an episode of The Mighty Boosh/the 118 men and the air of the 70s, the AngloWelsh outfit spent forty minutes thrashing out some of the best psych-rock genius I’ve ever heard, and were immensely savouring every moment – show stolen and it wasn’t even 8 yet. Childhood were up next, I hadn’t really listened to them beforehand, and despite interjections of Harry Violent being, well, Harry Violent (and causing my drink to be swiftly lost in a sea of arms) and the distraction of their really quite undeniably beautiful guitarist (as seen on Burberry campaigns across the land friends), they took me by complete surprise and were utterly brilliant.Their summer synth-y shoegaze sound seemed (check that for sibilance) out of place sandwiched among the two raging rockers but was something else entirely in it’s own right and worked a treat, Solemn Skies is a contender for the catchiest song of 2013.
Then Palmas hit, I hadnt seen them properly since Reading 2012 and they were incredible then, but in the sweltering cavern that is Concorde, they were one of the best live bands I have ever seen. Rampaging around the stage like the hailed stars they may aswell be, with ever amusing stone cold aura of calm surrouding Pete admist the chaos, they tore through the majority of 180’s endless racous offerings in next to no time and disappeared leaving a crowd (with an average age of probably about 13, the only great pain of the night, i might not be much older but it was definitely at least 50% of all’s first gig, and they had utterly no idea how to do it right) at a loss for words and breath. Naturally they returned for an encore of simple insanity, and rounding up not with Brand New Song, but with the Nasties’ Invasion Of The Tribbles that took the track to a level the original recording could only ever wish to be half as good as and stormed off the stage. Brighton was well & truly taken.
(there are none of brighton, sorry)
Waking up at 6am to get to Fulham for an interview for your top choice uni is not something recommended after a Palma Violets gig like that, nor should it be, nor should agreeing to go see them again tonight in Lambeth, especially when you’re seeing Basement Jaxx at Brixton the night after that and have college inbetween, but I have a problem with saying no to PV’s, and quite rightly so. Having trapsed Oxford St shopping all day (not by any means my idea) and promptly falling asleep in Waterloo station waking 10 minutes before doors, I hotfooted it over to Lambeth for round two. Due to seedy, undisclosed – and probably for the best – reasons all the girls were escorted in first just as Telegram were taking to the stage, in the next half hour they solidified the fact they are absolutely my favourite new band and have insanely big things to come in 2014, all the genius of the night before and then some.
Childhood swiftly appeared again in yesterday’s outfits and were even better when paying close attention, some small children overhearing my conversation whispered timidly “is it going to get worse than this *gesturing to the swirling soup of people* when palmas come on?” and I delivered the news just as they took to the stage, safe to say the girls in question disappeared quite quickly and Palmas took the venue by storm once again. The Hot Nasties cover closed proceedings again and I’m not sure even I can think of better ways to end a tour than the moment of every person crammed onto a stage, Telegram mainly in dinasour onsies, thrashing about and clearly having one hell of a party – the crowd followed and we all emerged fighting for air but completely worth it. Palma Violets know how to gig, and they easily put on some of the best of the year.
Unneeeded to say, college wasn’t graced with my presence that morning – or afternoon – and i jumped out of bed at 2pm to get myself ready and head up to Brixton to see Basement Jaxx, 6 days into December and the third gig of the month, and also in a row, I had to congratulate myself for still being alive at least. We got there as Clean Bandit were onstage, they were very good and dancey. The Jaxx didn’t take long and the whole place was like a disco of people much older than myself, I was without a doubt the youngest person I saw all night by about 15 years, not necessarily a bad thing, but it did feel very out of place. They are a spectacle live, the singers are just incredible and I’ve never heard voices quite like it, nor seen outfits, it was expected. They tore through a 2 hour set of the best stuff, by no means the best live act in the world, but certainly a good one, and a dancey way to finish the mad week.
What followed next should’ve been a week of no gigs, I had none left planned for the year infact, I was going to see Jarvis give a film talk on Saturday, but in another not so epic battle of britpop, I never did, Trans announced a matinee show and after little debate and very much “it’s bernard fucking butler and the ep’s incredible and it’s free how can i not”, I left Jarvis to his own devices and plummeted through Oxford street in search of The Social. Walking into bands unexpectedly is something I’ve always thought was inevitable but never actually done, so when opening the doors to come face to face with Chilli, so shocked that I don’t even notice Butler walking past and smiling at us til it’s later mentioned that that was why it was thought I was freaking out, then notice Will, Pete & Sam in quick succession, all stood infront of Butler, McKeown and friends, I was a bit shamefully floored.Nonetheless, we shuffled to an empty spot in far too close proximity of an ultimate guitar hero, and stared in awe for the next hour.
(again no social videos, thankfully just as great though)
It’s an upmost cliche but I’ve never seen anyone play guitar quite like that, despite the relaxed air of it all (that only made things even more so surreal), interludes of christmas classics on guitar and jokes that “shall we leave the experimental ones? it’s a Saturday afternoon, no one can put up with him playing 10 minutes of guitar solo, I can’t, even” due to the unneeded addition of a setlist, Trans are deadly serious on the musical side of things. The sound is comprised of talent that I can only sit in my room with a guitar wishing to obtain, every track is just brilliant and so obviously and effortlessly built from actually wanting to do it and enjoying to do so, and for no other reason, i salute them entirely for the series of EP’s only thing – even if it does mean spending far too much time on youtube listening to poorly recorded live versions of the ace tracks (all of them) that aren’t on the Red EP – it’s a great thing to experience, and one I’d be welcome to much more of, they’re touring in March, I’m going, I wont be strictly over the age limit, but no one needs to know that do they, you should do the same.
The final gig of the year (at least I think) was Easy On The Amoeba, headlining the commie again and fresh from the uni breaks and release of their first single Circuit (iTunes now, fucking brilliant, check it out). They hit the stage with full thunder as per standards and tore through standouts from their EP Talk Back before launching into Circuit and closing proceedings with All I Want For Christmas. I could say more, but there’s no need, they’re top and that’s all you need to know.
If you read all this, good on you friend, There’s my gig bit done, and we’re all up to date, now about the best year for music yet…..give it half an hour