Facebook Slider

Broncho, MOTH Club, London

 

Broncho's stage setup is minimal but it still looks cramped with plenty of trip hazards. Cables are woven like a tapestry all over the stage, there are 2 stacks of Fender amps, bass amps and a drum kit. Ben is missing, along with his equipment, but I'm not sure there would have even be room for him or it. The set starts off with 'All Choked Up' off their latest Bad Behaviour. 

Don't sit down, I need to say something 

I need to say another before I get choked up 
I wanna dig deep and I wanna dig deeper 
Unless you use another way to get choked up 

Their message to the audience (I was sitting down and I'm sorry) and introduction to their set, fitting I think to myself and make a note to note it. The crowd was a buzz, although some people sat no one sat still, but not in that hostile tooth-chipping way...that would come later. Through the first half of the set Ryan, Penny and Nathan are impossible to photograph (using my phone camera). Every shot is blurry because like their audience they can't sit still either. Ryan's shoulders are bouncing up and down as he strums along with his knees like pistons.  Penny's moving and swaying with her audience and long-neck-bass even taking a moment to lean down at one point to dance for someone's phone. Nathan at the back hammers at his drums like a Lichtenstein a-la rat-tat-tat-tat. 

Then about half way through 'Speed Demon' comes on off Double Vanity and the energy shifts from restrained and pleasant tunes to overdrive. I'm hearing distinct similarities to Ty Segall's 'Candy Sam', one of my favourite tunes off Emotional Mugger. The audience has finally been giving the green light to cut loose, and they do. The audience moves en masse and that energy is fed right back to Broncho and they follow up with 'China' then slow the pace down a second with 'Taj Mahal' before they're right back up again with 'Class Historian'. Everyone knows the track because it starts off with Broncho's unique non-lexible stylings, T T T T T T T D D D D D D D, coming over the speakers like an alien transmission waking up a sleeper cell on earth. The audience heeds the call lumbering to and fro like some headless beast, Broncho are all visibly sweating from the effort of non-stop-play-till-you-drop music. There is no end in sight. By the time the 10 year old French Birthday girl (see interview here) has passed out the rest of the audience is still swinging around wildly, their energy and the band's is palpable. Broncho crack out 20 tunes without a break or chatting up their audience. 

Obviously go see Broncho if they're playing near you, beg, borrow and steal to go see them. I don't get paid to say or write that by the way. If you listen to their music and you don't, you're doing yourself a disservice, but that's not how I want to end this article. During our interview Ryan dropped this one quote that really resonated with me but didn't exactly fit into the flow we had going or the line of questioning for that matter either. I didn't want to omit it though and I thought re-locating it to the end of the article as a summation might be best.  Watching Broncho play that evening, listening and re-listening to their music or how they interacted with everyone throughout the night showed me this simple philosophy works. Hopefully it'll help me the next time I find myself on the other side of the velvet rope or curtain. 

Ryan: I'm sort of like, between, act like you've been there before or also I don't expect to be anywhere, it's somewhere that I'm teetering on. I want to be comfortable but I tell myself that I'm supposed to anywhere that I'm at. And then there's also the other side that is I don't expect to be anywhere. 

Read more...

Advance Base, The Islington, London

Rolling up to Islington Town Hall for doors at 6 (6, seriously?) 'That's odd' I thought, scanning over the penned up herd waiting to be let through the doors, this doesn't look like your typical  lo-fi electro solo project crowd. I made my way along the crowd to security by the entrance hoping to jump the queue in order to get a clear view of the stage. "Good evening, I was wondering if I could get in a bit early? I'm writing a review and taking pictures of the gig tonight and it's going to be hard to see over all these giants" I motioned to Redwoods standing behind me. "No" (ouch). "The people in the queue have been there since before I even started work this morning at 11am". "I see.....weird question, it's Advance Base that's playing here tonight though, right?" "Right", and with that I threaded my way through the piles of empty bottles littering the path to the very back of the queue.

"Wrong venue mate" was what I got instead of my ticket at the collection counter when I finally got in. Sometimes life feels like a game of Snakes and Ladders, this was one of those times. The floor slithered below me as I walked out of the wrong venue more than a little embarrassed. I leaned against the massive tour bus parked outside the Town Hall with its equally massive trailer attachment. A full compliment of staff hurried about inside of it, weirdly hoovering bits of I dunno what off the floor of it while I looked in through an ajar door. If only I'd paid this much attention to where I was going I wouldn't be in this situation. The scene on the bus peaked my curiosity so before I looked up where I needed to be I investigated who'd be playing here tonight. Words would not do it justice so see below:- 

 

Korpiklaani. In hindsight the lot in the queue made a lot more sense now. I regrouped and opened up G-Maps. Finding the correct venue and its location which was fortunately only a short ride away. Arriving moments later at The Islington it seemed a much more appropriate fit for tonight's show. Billing itself as, 'best known for its open minded entertainment' inside I find a low lit cozy affair with framed pictures on it's warmly lit walls in neat order dotted with scaffolding on the outside just off the high street in Angel. It was nearing 7 as I made my way through the doors to... a completely deserted pub, cue tumble weed. What my ticket neglected to mention were doors to the pub open at 6, first act was on at 8 followed by Advance Base at 9. Great, but what's this? Out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of Owen who's just hanging out by the merchandise table. Making my way over to the empty table I'm greeted with, "the merch table is empty", Owen upon my arrival continues stating, "the merch hasn't arrived yet". He asks someone to update Instagram with set times and files out the pub with a friend. In a totally not creepy or stalkerish way I leg it out after them into the night. A few quick strides and a small hop I tap Owen on the shoulder. 'Hi' I say, he has to look down. For an instant I wonder are giant people not as impressed by the inversely proportioned as I am? FOCUS STEVEN.

Cpt: Soooooooo, doors at 6 huh?

Owen: Yeah, sorry about that, we just updated social media with the set times.

Cpt: No problem, I'm writing a small review of tonight's gig and I was wondering if I could ask a few questions.......since we've got all this free time?

Owen: Sure.

Cpt: Great. Are you a Twin Peaks fan?

Owen: No I'm not a fan, a lot of people ask me that though. It's too, 90210ish for me.

Cpt: Hmm, I wasn't prepared for this response, it's pretty much torpedoed my whole line of questioning.

Owen: Sorry.

Cpt: It's cool, I only asked because yesterday was un/officially Twin Peaks Day.

Owen: When we had our first kid my wife would be sleeping and I'd channel surf while rocking the kid to sleep. I mainly caught all of The Wire and the Sopranos, that was more my scene. Excellent music in Twin Peaks though.

Cpt: Agreed, nothing quite like that theme song and opening titles. I heard about how you left your merch at a friend's house back in 2013 it's now 7 years later and your just getting around to pick it up. What's taken you so long to get back to (touring) the UK?

Owen: Having kids. I don't really like being away from the family in case of emergencies. In the States I just drive everywhere so I can always turn the car around. They're older now so I'm stretching my legs a little. I'm back again in July too.

I thank him and we both part ways leaving unsaid the mental pinky swear we've made that we'll reconvene in just over an hour, not for ourselves, but for the fans. Fast forward nearer the set times and The Islington is filling up. Massive curtains separate the pub from stage which when drawn back expose the entrance, I make my way in. The stage and surrounding walls are draped in thick crushed velvet curtains, I'm expecting a tiny man in a red suit to pop out at any moment and start dancing. Strangely there are some chairs set up stage right a few meters from the gear, shortly thereafter Owen (Advance Base) comes to the stage, "those chairs are for people who would like to sit down, feel free to use them" he says from where he stands looming over me. I hesitate for a second and a sprightly older couple occupy the first 2 seats in the blink of an eye followed by another couple both considerably younger and drunker who crash over the PA making their way to the seats. I decide to hold fast.

I'm new to Advance Base with his latest Animal Companionship being my introduction before shuffling through the rest of his back catalogue. Listening I found myself hearing echoes of Lambchop and The Magnetic Fields which are already favourites of mine so I was pretty much primed to dig these tunes too. When doing my due diligence later for the article I learned that The Mag-Fields and L-chop-o are both on Merge Records and that they all started off about the same time as one another. Not only can you hear similarities between all 3 artists but there's even a cover of 'You And Me And The Moon' by The Magnetic Fields on Animal Companionship. Both bands came out in the early '90s, with Casiotone For The Painfully Alone emerging in the latter half of the decade metamorphosing into the Advance Base we know today. It's not hard to imagine these older siblings not playing their part in influencing Owen. Although all 3 bands pull you in with the similar(ish) warm and sweetly underlying melodies of their music with clear approachable spoken-sung vocals you'll notice there are 2 underlying differences that set Owen apart from his forerunners.

Firstly, he's a 1 man band that means every song's a solo! I've seen both aforementioned artists play Barbican Hall with a full compliment taking up most of the stage with their members and equipment, it's impressive. Advance Base by comparison fits in your pocket, also impressive! Owen's setup is like that of a Swedish masseur except he massages the keys on the back of a large rectangular case for an electric piano instead. Spilling over and outside the case are various cables, effects pedals and other unrecognizable doodads, all this is ladened atop a keyboard stand. Relatively speaking small by comparison but still packing plenty of punch. Secondly with Owen there's a constant stream of consciousness throughout his set. Breaking the magician's code Owen reveals his tricks but in the process, for me at least, the magic is not lost but instead amplified. Take his intro to Christmas in Milwaukee for example:

"This next song's about going to your brother's for Christmas when you don't want to. This isn't about my brother because I don't have a brother."  

Grappling with minor technical setbacks throughout the set he conjures the forces of dark magic in a deadpan and relaxed tone announcing,

“I'm going to lean into this echo, and hope darkness prevails"

It's hard to know where the line is between darkness and light or fact and fiction is drawn as he introduces 'Christmas In Nightmare City',

"Driving around Gary Indiana is like trying not to drink alcohol while listening to Steven King's books. You tend to notice how all the houses in the area you're driving through are completely dilapidated except for the original home where the Jackson 5 grew up which is in pristine condition by comparison and one of the only houses with a roof."

They sound like alternate lyrics for the song that you'd find on a B-side.

Yes, there is a certain melancholy woven throughout the set but he's aware of it and his chats add the necessary levity to compensate. I envy his comfortably-cool and composed pace of speaking to a room full of crowded strangers reminding me of just how much different my own behaviour is whenever I'm in a similar situation. If it wasn't for the music playing it would be practicably impossible to differentiate between song and spoken thought, but that's what I really enjoyed most about his set. There was no buffer between mind and mouth or between the audience and the musician. He ends his set promising when he comes back in a few months if we come to see him again he'll play all new songs. The set ended there and he made his way off stage by use of an emergency fire escape and appeared at the merch table as if by magic moments later as we all filed out, one more trick for the road I guess. I waited patiently as a pregnant woman bought a t-shirt (medium) and exchanged some words with Owen. On my way out I felt compelled to say, "Owen, that was really beautiful man, thanks a lot." "Thanks, have a good night" he said coolly (again) and with that for the first time since the evening started I felt like I'd finally secured a firm grip on a ladder rung instead of being ankle deep in snakes.

Read more...

RY X, St. Luke's, Glasgow

 

Had I not listened to FluxFM (a radio station from Berlin) for some time now, I’m not too sure if I’d come across RY Cuming, better known by his stage name RY X. The first time I heard one of his songs on the radio I was instantly hooked by his music, despite his tenor voice and electronic chilled music not being what I’d normally go for. So when I saw he was about to play St. Luke’s in Glasgow I knew I had to go. 

I ended up going on my own, excited to see and capture him in the setting of a beautiful church. By the time I get to the venue his support is about to finish her set. RY X comes on stage at 8:30pm dressed in layers of light coloured flowing clothes and a matching hat. He almost has the aura of a priest or preacher. The stage is only dimly lit, there’s even proper candles spotted around. It couldn’t be a more perfect setting for the soft almost soothing music he and his three band members are about to play. Apart from a drum set and RY X’s guitar there’s synthesisers and a lot of other electronic gear that is being used.

After two songs RY welcomes the audience and tells them how nice it is to be back after such a long time and that this evening is the first gig of a long tour.

He then goes on to play 'YaYaYa', a single from his recently released second album Unfurl. The start to 'Untold' is atmospheric and almost hypnotically beautiful. 'Bound' is one of the songs played live for the first time that evening, but you can tell that a lot of effort goes into coming up with the perfect arrangement for their live performances.

One song would melt into another if it wasn’t for the short breaks in between to get ready for each song. 'Berlin' (their first single, released in 2013) and 'Howling' are two of the songs that get the biggest reaction from the audience, who are otherwise in complete silence while RY X is performing for over 90 minutes. 

I leave the venue, calmly uplifted and almost feel like I’m floating through the streets of Glasgow.

Read more...

Art Brut, Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh

 

You wait years to see a band and then manage it twice in two months ...

Having seen Art Brut in January at Rockaway Beach the thought crossed my mind that, despite having wanted to see them for the past 15 years or so, I might want to knock back my review slot for tonight's show, given the rather long-winded elements of the set that night. Countering that though was the fact that Sneaky Pete's is one of Edinburgh's few remaining intimate gig venues so the overall experience was bound to be of a different tenor than that which the large hall in Bognor Regis afforded.

Support tonight comes from Glasgow's Slime City & we managed to catch three of their energetic and humorously delivered tunes. They make good use of sampled speech between the tracks & purvey an infectious punk sound (the Toy Dolls come to mind). Audience engagement was plentiful & you certainly have to like a band that rails against the safety of UK music television when personified by Jools 'Musical Parasite' Holland. I'm not though too sure about the working class credentials assigned to Top Of The Pops but we can agree to differ on that score.

Things were a tad behind schedule tonight due to Art Brut suffering a van breakdown (shows they're properly doing it for this largely sold out tour though - self-propelled via Transit van) so there was little messing about between Slime City vacating the stage & the headliners taking to it, with Eddie Argos simply joining the crowd from his spot at the bar to then jump into place as the Guns 'N' Roses joke intro was gone through.  

I'll admit now that hearing that & with the first two songs being the same as at Butlin's (complete with blether about Eddie's brother etc.) I was initially of a mind that things might be a bit of a drag, not being big on watching repeats, but as the show progressed there was enough variety & diverting audience interaction to cancel out such concerns. Two pissed-up Italian blokes were especially unique, despite it looking at one point as if one of them was about to kick off.

'Modern Art' got a run out later in the set, despite being described as a song no longer played, & occasioned a waffle about a supposed trip to the Van Gogh museum. Argos wandered amongst the crowd a couple of times, even getting the bulk of it to crouch down with him for a mass jump back up near the end of the night, the Sneaky Pete's stage height causing none of the issues witnessed in January.  

If you've had the sense to get a ticket for any of the remaining shows on the tour then you've made the right decision. If not then you'll likely be able to see the band at one or more festivals in the coming months as they seem to be popping up on a lot of bills. Which is only right & proper.

Read more...

Surfbort, MOTH Club, London

Cartoon - Alan Dempsey.

It's Valentine's Day and there's an awful lot of dudes walking around with bouquets of flowers in their hands. I chance a look down at my own hands and breathe a sigh of relief as I realize the only thing in them is a cold beer. I'm sitting in my flat by an open window on an unseasonably warm and sunny day in mid-February watching the people traffic below. Wafting in on a gentle breeze is the closest aroma to a flower that'll be getting anywhere near my schnauz on this day, the smell of weed floating in from the next-door neighbour's place. Soon this smell will be replaced with body odour from a heap of screaming fans because tonight Surfbort and guests are playing the MOTH Club.

I missed the band's free show late last year at the Shacklewell, I was super tired and Die Hard was playing on the big-screen, I run into Sean Powell (drummer for Surfbort) outside the gig. He's having a smoke as I'm locking up my bike. I've arrived super early to stake out a good spot and I put my absence at the last gig past him:- 

Sean: John McClane huh? Probably for the best. The gig was a lot of fun; the Shacklewell's cool.

Cpt: So, how'd the tour I missed treat ya?

Sean: We toured with Wolf Alice an...”

Cpt: Wait, what, Wolf Alice? Seems...a peculiar mix.

Sean: It's true, we'd get up on stage and 40% of the audience was like, 'what are you guys doing?'

Cpt: I'd personally like to see you tour with someone like The Horrors myself.

Sean: Me too, I've always wanted to as well.

Cpt: Hey man, let me ask you something, what do you think about this?

 I'm downloading a picture off an e-mail sent to me previously by my Boss at work (see below). I'm hoping to use this picture for the article in case my pictures come out blurry or my phone gets completely destroyed as it's a sold out gig and Surfbort have a reputation.

Sean: Oh man, is that me, the Re$%# Fu$%ing looking Cowboy?

Cpt: Yes.

Sean: Awesome, let me get a picture of that.

Cpt: Heck, I'll send it to you.

With that I make a move and head inside, there's a booth by the stage where I dump my gear and make my way to the bar. I grab an overpriced beer in a plastic cup because it's midway through a short month and I'm still flush. Heading back to the booth I step into my 'safe-zone'. First up on the bill Nuha Ruby Ra. A 7 piece that somehow fit on stage at the MOTH which at the best of times manages to contain a quartet with strain. Not having any idea who the support acts were before attending the gig but there I am greeted with a trouser-less Ruby (vocals) singing off stage in the audience to Surfbort's Dani who's at the front of the crowd showing support. I took some notes during the performance with descriptions like, 'monotone' and 'gimmick' and from what I remember the crowd wasn't feeling it either. The experience felt like a recipe with too many ingredients in it that ended up tasting like nothing, maybe I just wasn't 'getting it' but the audience not getting it either gave me great solace. I gave the group another listen to the next day because everyone deserves a second chance. Strike 2.

I'm back at the bar trying to erase the memory of the first act and again wandering back to my booth I return to see what appears to be 3 children setting up their gear. All I can think is they better hurry because it's almost 9 and MOTH policy explicitly states that All Children Must To Be Off The Dance Floor By 9:30pm. The well dressed 3 piece are Birmingham's own The Cosmics (@thecosmicsuk) and fuck if my sarcastic ass wasn't handed back to me. They're last preparations are to take off their shoes and start killing it, absolutely so. Their instagram bio hales the sound they make as Noisy Garage Punk but it's so much more than that, it's guitar feedback, throbbing long necked bass beats and cymbals, but most of all it's Stooges-era FUZZ. What a welcome change, I'm back on form and screaming myself hoarse from the booth cheering. Conor (Guitar) and Erin (Bass/Vocals) make use of the stage, constantly in motion while Conor's twin brother Danny (drums) is juxtaposition calm in the background keeping the beat. The Cosmics finish up and everyone clears from the front of the stage quickly like they've snapped out of a trance. I walk up to the stage as Erin's tearing down her equipment and say the only thing that comes to mind about their performance, 'Wooooooooooooooooooooow', satisfied with my review I excuse myself before things get awkward.

 

I'm about to head out the double doors for a quick pit stop at the gents when Cosmics' drummer Danny walks through the double doors.

Cpt: YOU! Too much power!

Danny who I'm slightly taller than (a first for me) has a look to him like he's getting cornered in the hallway at school by a bully.

Cpt: You guys absolutely killed it up there!

Danny (laughing hysterically/relieved): Thanks!

Cpt: I did not see you guys coming, at all, so much fuzz and fun, where are you from, are you guys local?

Danny: Naw, we're from Birmingham!

Cpt: Wow, you've got a long ride back tonight mate.

Danny: Luckily for us our parents drove us here.

Cpt: Ahahaha how absolutely adorable

Danny: Our family wanted to see us play a gig (I think he said) they've never seen us play before. The guitarist is my twin brother too and Erin our bassist is also a cousin.

Cpt: How'd you land a gig here, when can I see you guys again?

Danny: We're friends with the guys from Club The Mammoth and they suggested we open for Surfbort. I'm not sure on upcoming dates.

Cpt: Can you get me some if I holler at you guys later on?

Danny: Sure!

We exchanged pleasantries and parted ways. I got a message a few days later with some dates:

23.3.19 Birmingham 02 Institute

17.5.19 London Waiting Room with Projector

@TheRealSurfbort

There's been a lot of buzz associated with Surfbort since around the time they popped up on my radar last October which was around the time their new album dropped on Fat Possum Records. The pictures that were popping up on my feed of them were pretty gnarly but what really attracted me to them weren't their unfiltered and amateurish rough sounding punk melodies but the lyrics associated with those songs. A few tracks and lyrics below:-

'High Anxiety'

"Having an attack, having an attack, I don't know what the fuck to do. In the night you start to mend, your troubles gone now start again."

'500 Selfies A Day'

"You take 500 selfies a day, can't look away from the mirror or your camera,I'm afraid for my selfie."

'Les Be In, Les Be In Love'

"When I look away it's the only way to see. They told me there are other fish in the sea, but I've got you and you've got me."

I hope one day future anthropologists find these lyrics and realize we weren't all reality TV vapid looking lens staring idiots. Melodically 'Stalker' is my favourite tune of theirs.

The MOTH is now at capacity and the band's done tuning up and getting into their first track 'Pretty Little Fucker'. Dani comes out on stage after the tune's kicked off looking like a cross between Karen O and Juliette Lewis if they had a baby with punk rock. Her outfit looks like it was designed by the sponsors of a Nascar team (catsuit, golden sparkly docs). The rest of her band (Alex, David and Sean) look like variations of the same person, an intergalactic bounty hunter in different stages of disguise (Krombopulos Michael is that you?!).

With mic cable wrapped around her arm like a python slithering it's way up the tree of knowledge Dani spit her truth out at her audience (see lyrics above). The band is loud and like The Cosmics constantly in motion, at one point Dani even jumps into my booth, and here I thought I was safe, but then makes her way back on stage and into the crowd to dance and mosh her way through the rest of the set. Surfbort very much bring the energy of their album to stage and get the crowd involved too. It's an enjoyable way to spend Valentine's Day for sure. After their set they stuck around and took pictures with everyone who asked, there must've been like, I dunno, 500 selfies at least.

Read more...

Blood Red Shoes, Rough Trade East, London

 

@bloodredshoesuk

Skulking about Brick Lane a few weeks ago, taking in some new street art with salt beef bagel in hand, the graffiti leads us towards Rough Trade East. Grabbing a (reasonably priced and proper) cup of coffee the caffeine is quickly ingested and slinking about the aisles commences. The main objective, as always, is the giant in-store gig board at the back. A quick scan showed that Blood Red Shoes were playing a gig in a few weeks. Most excellent. An exam over the weekend prevented attendance at their sold-out London gig just this past weekend, but Musos' was going to try and worm their way into this event, but how?

Lady luck must've been sweet on us that day because on our instagram feed we saw that BRS were holding a pop-up listening and swag give-away event to celebrate the release of Get Tragic (25/1/19), their latest album, just around the corner from our dwelling. Rolling up to Mary Wyatt London there was a queue out the door, it was only 4pm. Once in we were given a tote (contents: 1 Beer tin of, 1 Polaroid of Laura and Steven in nerd poses, badges, stickers and caaaaandy) and left to wander our surroundings, think house party vibes with merch. At the back of the shop Steven was tending bar pouring wine out of an emerald green carafe for thirsty fans while Laura circulated and mingled with the crowd.

While the carafe was being replenished we took our opportunity to hit the bar for an audience......and a drink:

Disclaimer: This conversation is paraphrased, it was an open bar and in hindsight my recollection might just be a tad bit hazy. Additionally, I never sound this composed in real life. Factually, it's accurate, to the best of my recollection:

Steven (BRS: Vocals/Drums) What can I getchya?

Cpt: Hey man, congratulations on your album release, it's been a long time coming. I'll take a splash of wine when you get a sec.

Steven: Thanks a lot! One wine coming right up.

Cpt: A few months ago you did a pretty big share on the instagram leading up to the release of Get Tragic talking about what went to putting this album together and making it come to fruition, we think fans really dig the look behind the curtain into the process, not everyone's always into sharing the downs along with the ups.

Steven: Yeah, we thought, fuck-it, 5 years is a long time and we went through a lot of ups and downs to put it together and we're really proud of it so we're going to talk about it.

Cpt: Couldn't agree with you more. Listen, I've got an exam this weekend and can't make it to the already sold out London gig but saw that you're doing an in-shop-gig at Rough Trade East and were wondering if you wouldn't mind having us write a few words?

Steven: Sure man, let's make it happen.

I think my second favourite type of venue for a gig, outside of cramped dives which is the only way to hear new live music, is in a record store. Sure, the sound and atmosphere aren't as mental and you won't get the fear of death put into you from an impromptu pit forming around your person coupled with the spray of beer and human DNA going everywhere but it's where music lives. Gigs here are like free samples at the super market, it's not a meal but we've all gone back for seconds (and thirds) once we've gotten a taste for it. It's about 45 minutes before their set time and there's already people in front of the stage 3 rows deep, 45 minutes later the shop is packed, the lights go down and the band comes out.

BRS is traditionally a duo but with the new record comes growth; the duo turned quartet now has 2 new members. Playing support percussion and keys we've got James (TigerCub) and on bass, Hannah (2:54) who're the new additions to the BRS family for their current touring season.

If you haven't heard Get Tragic yet there are some bangers on there, more than a few, but for now let's talk about the gig as this isn't an album review. The set starts off in classic Tarantino fashion with 'Elijah' the last song of their new album, first. The best way to describe this song is to imagine it playing on the radio of an autonomous murder car on its path of destruction through a densely populated city at night leaving shattered souls in its wake. It's a dark and unhurried juggernaut of a tune, overbearing and large in all the right ways and certainly sets the tone for the new chapter in their career. Although the biblical names like Jezebel and Elijah really don't do much for us (played out across all of Rock 'n' Roll) the lyrics feel eerily semi-auto-biographical in terms of the album, and duo's, turbulent history:

"I heard you fucked up again, Elijah

One day you're up then you're down in this old town

and everybody around, confounded."

This is, for us, hands-down the best song on the album. Live, this track and the rest of the set, you're just left enveloped in these intense thick swelling velvety tones that you'd think you were trapped inside the Black Lodge, inescapable. Steven and Laura have been touring these new songs for a while now in anticipation of finally releasing Get Tragic. Two years ago, another sold-out show, at the Oslo we got a preview of what's to come. 'Eye to Eye' and 'Bangsar' were revealed during an encore. They were playing the tracks they couldn't release, all we kept thinking was how much bigger and louder they were with the addition of new members, distortion and reverb backed up with bass and electro tones.

Back to the present; the track ends and the past has caught up with us. Laura's Fender with emerald pick guard is bumped and bruised with chips in it, Steven's drum sticks look like they've been put through a cheese grater, they were new 5 minutes ago. A sign that tragic times might've been in their past but now it's time for the getting. Through the 15 years they've been together with all of their ups and downs, they've still got a lot of love and sibling rivalry type banter. Steven wants to get onto the next track and starts tapping the hi-hat, Laura moans she needs a drink, Steven taps the hi-hat faster as she reaches for her vino confiding in the audience about Steven's extra large toe on the hi-hat rather than his foot coming down on it, 'aw mate!' is all he can muster in rebuttal. Digs and laughs aside that show and each one that follows always end the same way, not with a tried and tested encore but with the duo in an embrace cups (often times bottles), raised in salute to their audience members who've stuck with them through the years, 'buy our album' Steven says, 'so we don't have to get real jobs and to get our parents off our backs'.

Recently having toured with Alice In Chains, a new album creeping its way up the UK Top 40 (unbelievably a first in their career) and a whole slew of tour dates coming up over Spring, Summer and Fall BRS are on their way up and bringing their fellow Brightonians in their local music scene with them. Their set ends with 'Colours Fade' but we would've preferred the second last song, 'God Complex' instead. Laura and Steven meet center stage and thank the crowd, announcing they'll be signing merchandise at the back in a few minutes and leave the stage. I hang around to grab a set list and as I'm about to tuck it away a wolf like man approaches me with a piece of carry on luggage in tow, 'can I take a picture of this set list? I've never heard of this (not a typo!) Blood Red Shoes before, I'm from Germany. I want to find their music and tell my friends'. Looking rich, well put together and totally out of his element he must've been pulled towards the cliffs by the sirens I figure and wandered in off the street. I agree and he takes the shot with a smile on his face. We part and I make my way towards the exit to hopefully snap a pic of the greet-n-meet. The queue runs the length of Rough Trade, I get there as the first fan (a regular looking suburban lady in her 40s) hands Steven and Laura something to sign. With the look and smile on their faces you'd think their endorsing a check to themselves for millions of pounds but they're just making a fan's day and it's absolutely fucking adorable.

Read more...
Subscribe to this RSS feed