Sunday, 27 June 2010

Broken Social Scene - Birmingham

Conceivably the hottest day of the year; England at its June best. Young Binmouth and the Fair Nicola cruised by for a spot of lunch and a quick look around the HC ‘manor’ before affording me a rare luxury of being driven up the Brum to meet up with IDS and see the indescribably brilliant Broken Social Scene.

Its seems an age ago that the Lad and I saw BSS at the old Brum Academy around the time of the eponymous album release (when Bill Priddle broke his collar bone just prior to the gig), I remember it being a tad too ‘out there’ for the Lad at the time at a tender 14 or 15 years. Earlier this year Binmouth (aka Peeblemeister - better decide what to call him methinks!)and I saw BSS rip it up as support for Pavement in London only serving to whet the appetite for a full headline set.

I will draw a veil over Sky Larkin as support, nothing terrible just didn’t do it for me.

Stage was set with a million mics and kit showing up how tight it would be to squeeze the whole BSS crew on stage and with no cheesy fanfare there they were and off into World Sick. Impossible to keep track of the set list but as well as the new album stuff (how drop dead gorgeous is Sweetest Kill the truly fab and brilliant stuff form afore and especially the eponymous album stuff – the extraordinary 7/4 Shoreline, Fire-Eyed Boy and Super Connected to name but a few.

The playing is of course uniformly sparkling, Justin Peroff’s drumming inspired, jazzy and magnificent; Andrew Whiteman has that slightly spacey/starey look but plays a mean Gretsch Tennessean with some intriguing leg poses going on (physical tip for Binmouth??); Brendan Canning a little like a blond/grey Jarvis Cocker according to the Fair Nicola and Kevin Drew the essential lynch pin, disarmingly looking a little like a talented Russell Brand. Lisa Lobsinger bringing an other-wordly quality with her dreamy, Stevie Nicks-esque delivery, and her wafting on and off stage. With the full nine(or was it ten?) BSS-ers on stage, including the horns section, there is that wonderful sense of barely contained musical chaos, except you know full well that it is rock solid and they are just too good not to know where it’s all heading.

The hour and a half set disappeared all too soon, a strict curfew for the grim club session that was to follow. You just knew that they would have played and played given the chance. The fabulous and unsettling thing about a collective such as BSS is that the very fragility of the set up makes it something special, an intensity that others only dream of, yet it could all fall apart so easily. So thanks be to be able to experience it whilst it’s here, a thing of beauty, passion and inspiration. The monumental and triumphant Meet Me in the Basement still in our ears we buy our shirts (a big Boo to Mrs IDS for not liking them!) and rejoin the Brummies outside just starting their own sweaty club nights.

Pix – RHC and IDS more here and from Binmouth here (sorry 'bout the pix placement, Blogger is mental)

Oh and the new Alpine Earplugs work a real treat!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Band of Horses - Roundhouse and Wolverhampton

Two years ago the Lad and I saw band of Horses deliver a roaring set at the Shepherds Bush Empire and here we are in 2010 and I get to see them twice within a couple of days: first off with the Lad at the Roundhouse and second time around with IDS at Wulfren Hall in Wolverhampton.

Infinite Arms as an album struck me initially as a disappointment, too laid back and just lacking the verve of the first two. But Arms has turned out to be a collection of songs that have wheedled their way in and but the time we rocked up at the Roundhouse I was looking forward to hearing it all live.

The Roundhouse is a great venue, large enough but no so large to be impersonal and we grabbed our place on the raised patch in front of the sound desk (the Lad isn’t fond of the crush bar area for some reason). Darker My Love did nothing to really endear themselves to us, they sounded a bit ragged, the vocals sounding like a six inch nail being dragged down a window pane and generally the sound was awful. The Lad couldn’t wait for them to go – never one to miss a chance for an immediate judgment!

BoH entered after In the Air Tonight ushered them on stage at the celebrated drum point. Ok a very cheesy entrance but it was so bad it was good. There is a little review of the Roundhouse show from ‘Eggs’ Oakley which most helpfully has a full set list. BoH rocked through the set pretty darned well, the new songs fitting in well with the older ones, and felt stronger, tougher and generally better. The huge back sheet had a continuous run of great monochrome and just off monochrome pictures of rural America, a perfect visual accompaniment for the music they play. Funeral certainly got the most vociferous welcome, a masterful song delivered powerfully, wonderful.

We had to slip away after Detlef Schrempf to get the last train back to Swindon. A good, perhaps very good show spoilt only by being so far back in the crowd.

Wolverhampton was the one that did it for me though. IDS and I were at the doors with acres of time, straight to the front and our spot at the bar – perfect. Wulfren Hall, an almost identical smaller brother to the Civic is a perfect size venue.

Darker My Love came on and my expectations were low given the previous experience. However the sound was better, they played better and actually they were pretty good, if I hadn’t seen the first show I would have thought them very good.

No cheesy Phil Collins intro tonight, a much more regular and appropriate stage entry. From the off BoH seemed more relaxed, chatty, happy and up for it. Straight into a stonking set (details can be seen here) Banter between band members, a crowd that couldn’t get enough, a set of songs that was perfect, playing at the top of their form... ah magic. I could have stayed all night. The addition of 13 Days (JJ Cale cover) and the final Am I A Good Man (a Them Two cover) were brilliant. All too soon it was over

It’s always a bit of schlep up to Wolverhampton especially after a bit of crap few days, but just how worth it was it? One of the best of gigs, super loud (might finally have to succumb to gig ear plugs), great to share it with IDS, ah great times, wonderful band, uplifting and transcendent.

Pix courtesy of IDS