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What Came First, The Obnoxious, or The Internet?

February 22, 2011
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I’ve never used this blog to express my feelings on gig etiquette before, but I think that now is the time to delve into the subject and I’m sure that I’ve read things on this subject before, but it still needs to be said. When did we go from experiencing music, to consuming it? I was stood in the crowd yesterday, and like many times before I found myself having to supress the urge to cause physical harm to the two girls stood in front of me simply because they put their hands in the air while I was trying to catch that one magical glimpse of the band on the stage. I’m not trying to deny them their enjoyment, but the thing that bugs me the most is the fact that in their hands, held up in the air shining brightly was a camera pointed straight at the screen above us recording every sound, and every move of the 5 guys on stage playing their hearts out. These girls had a clear shot at the stage, and yet they chose to stare the screen instead, through the tiny lens of their camera. You might as well be at the back if you’re going to focus all your attention on the large moving image projected in front of you instead of one person from the barrier, plus it would come with the undeniable bonus of being able to throw your hands up in the air taking pictures, or making a heart with your fingers to your hearts content and I won’t want to cause you physical harm. The amount of people who are looking at the stage through camera viewfinders while they capture video to post to their facebook, or youtube account or whatever when they get home makes me feel sad. You’re supposed to be there to experience it, not hide behind some gadget and focus more on documenting what you paid so much, and waited so long to see. They’re not going to have real memories from when they were there, they won’t remember how the band made them feel, or how they screamed so hard they felt their lungs were going to burst in their chest, they’re not going to savour the moment that their favourite band member looked their way, or how it felt so good to be stood there amongst other people who love that band as much as you. All they’ll come away with is a shitty, grainy video with some asshole’s head weaving in and out of the frame and some fuzzy audio of a song that they’ll barely be able to identify once it’s been uploaded. When did it become more important to show other people where you’ve been than to actually enjoy being there in the moment? What is wrong with these people that they need to constantly document their lives instead of just living them.

This also brings me to another thing I hate, people who take photos of themselves in the crowd. All crowds look the sameand your facebook page will do just fine without that awkward shot of you taken from above with a bunch of angry, sweaty people around you, no one is going to know where you are, you’re probably not even going to remember where you are. Just put down the camera/phone and enjoy yourselves for god sake.

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My Chemical Romance, Cardiff International Arena

February 22, 2011


My Chemical Romance are a band I have loved for a long time. I first saw them supporting Taking Back Sunday and it still seems crazy to me that they’ve been selling out arenas for years now. The show would have been made a whole lot better in my opinion if they’d have had a different support band, having to suffer through The Blackout and their ridiculous shout of ‘This songs dedicated to all the girls here, because they’re all fucking liars’ did not really get me, personally in the mood to see one of the best live bands going, however as soon as they stepped on stage all thoughts of any other bands hastily left my mind as the spoken word intro to ‘Na Na Na’ pumped through the speakers to a tumultuous roar of screams that grew so loud they almost drowned out any sound from the stage.

My Chemical Romance never fail to put on a good show, which is evidenced by the fact that this will mark the eighth time I’ve seen them, and I wouldn’t keep coming back if there wasn’t something special that happens on that stage. The charisma of Gerard Way is undeniable, and even a photograph of him on the big screens beside the stage produce ear shattering screams. He commands the stage effortlessly, playing the part of the showman with ease. This is a band who inspire legions of obsessive fans, and they are out in force tonight. The crowd roar the lyrics back at the stage, with no clear difference between the songs from Three Cheers, to the album they are touring in support of, Danger Days (an album that won the top spot in the Albums of 2010 here). The new songs come into their own live and sound even better than they do on record and the new direction spills over into the older songs, with slight chances being made as they played crowd pleasers from previous albums. Highlights from the set were the fast-paced ‘Vampire Money’, a song that even people who claim to hate My Chem seem to enjoy and ‘I’m Not Okay (I Promise) purely for the massive jump in volume and passion that came from the crowd as they shouted along with the words at the top of their voices and I have no doubt that many throats will be in dire need of relief after tonight, mine included. There were a few notable omissions from the set list tonight, namely ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’ and ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’ the two tracks from Bullets that have been played at the other dates on the tour. They put on an exceptionally good show as expected but I can’t help thinking that it would have just kicked it up a notch if they’d have played those two tracks from Bullets, if only as a small nod to how they started, if only to show how far they’ve come.

My Chemical Romance play the shockwaves NME awards tomorrow (Wednesday 23rd February) to be in with a chance of winning two tickets comments on their status on their Facebook page here

Set List

Look Alive, Sunshine (Intro)
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
Give ‘Em Hell, Kid
Planetary (GO!)
You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison
SING
Vampire Money
Mama
The Only Hope For Me Is You
Summertime
I’m Not Okay (I Promise)
Famous Last Words
DESTROYA
Welcome To The Black Parade
Teenagers
Helena
Cancer

Encore:

Bulletproof Heart Play Video

Ben Folds, HMV Institute, Birmingham

February 22, 2011

Ben Folds is someone who I’ve wanted to see for a long time and there was a small doubt in my mind that he’d be able to live up to the idea of how good I thought he’d be. Thankfully, within the first few verses I was safe in the knowledge that in some cases you definitely should believe the hype. Ben Folds is a consummate performer, he commands both the attention of the crowd and the music that he plays with an ease and skill that is rare. He addresses the crowd frequently and responds to their heckles, singing a song on the subject of the shouting themselves, weaving in references and asides to the words screamed as they interrupt his song. He also panders to a shouted request, playing ‘Hiro’s Song’ A Capella as he claims he can’t remember the chords, an act that is met with rapturous applause. The tracks from his recently collaboration with Nick Hornby on the album Lonely Avenue (No. 6 in the Top Tens of 2010 here) sound brilliant live, with the catchy hooks inspiring sing-a-longs from the crowd.

Highlights of the set included ‘Rockin’ The Suburbs’ and ‘Zac & Sara’ simply for the ferver that they inspired in the crowd as they sang along at the top of their voices. A cover of the Kesha song ‘Sleazy’ also proved to be a high point in the set on the strength of its execution, the song sounded infinitely better in the hands of an accomplished musician. Ben Folds explained the choice of song by stating that it had been chosen because it was at the top of the iTunes chart when they came to deciding on a song to cover for the tour, and even though minutes later it had been replaced, by another Kesha song they’d stuck with it and I’m glad they did. Ben Folds is definitely an artist that I’d jump at the chance at seeing again and if you haven’t yet experienced him live, then I’d suggest you do.

Set List

Levi Johnston’s Blues
Gone
Doc Pomus
Belinda
Sleazy (Kesha cover)
You to Thank
Cologne
Rock This Bitch
Bastard
Still Fighting It
Landed Play Video
Fred Jones Pt. 2
Last Polka
Picture Window
Hiro’s Song
Annie Waits
Hiroshima
From Above (with Kate Miller-Heidke)
You Don’t Know Me (with Kate Miller-Heidke)
Saskia Hamilton
Effington
Zak and Sara
Bitch Went Nutz
Kate (Ben Folds Five)
Rockin’ the Suburbs
Army (Ben Folds Five)

Encore

One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces (Ben Folds Five)

Patrick Stump A Capella

January 20, 2011

Patrick Stump (formerly of Fall Out Boy) performing an a capella medley of Empire State Of Mind – Jay-Z & Alicia Keys, Love The Way You Lie – Eminem Featuring Rihanna, Need You Now – Lady Antebellum, Nothin’ On You – B.o.B Featuring Bruno Mars and Fuck You – Cee Lo Green

Belle & Sebastian – Colston Hall, Bristol 16/12/10

January 13, 2011

Before I tell you about the gig, let me just say, what a nightmare it was getting to Bristol for this. The last Thursday before Christmas and it appears everyone is trying to go late night shopping. It took nearly two and half hours to get from Cardiff, if the gig had been anything less than amazing I would have been pretty annoyed. Luckily, I walked out feeling like I would have happily sat in traffic all day to have seen tonight’s show.

I had only purchased my tickets the night before, thanks to the aid of Twitter and a friendly gentleman who could no longer make the gig due to illness in the family and having to look after kids. His loss however was my gain. I had some slight trepidation before making the journey as the band had cancelled their date in Leicester two nights previous due to ATP – Bowlie 2 which they had just played at and currated, taking it’s toll on them. Thankfully this was not the case tonight and they were at Colston Hall in Bristol ready to put on quite the show.

The Colston Hall might seem like a odd venue for tonight’s show when the Bristol Academy is right next door, but I have a lot of love for the Colston Hall. It’s a beautiful venue, and has fantastic acoustics. Belle & Sebastian aren’t exactly the sort of band that inspire crazy mosh pits, it’s usually gentle swaying at the best of times so a building with tiered seating in the general admittance area was nice. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to sit down, see perfectly and soak up the show.

The bands performance itself was lots of fun, and about as far removed from the first and only time I have seem them before, at Reading Festival. There was some great interaction between band members and the band and the audience. Lead singer Stuart and guitarist Stevie have a lovely back and forth, the kind which comes from being friends with someone for 15+ years. At one point Stevie winds up doing a spot on rendition of ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ in the style of Elvis Costello. It’s little things like that which made this night to remember. Here’s band that can seamlessly swap between the downright depressing and the comical and that takes some considerable doing.

Another exchange consisted of having a young lady come on stage from the crowd in order to put mascara on Stuart at the correct moment during the song ‘Lord Anthony’, the young lady didn’t play ball and spent the majority of the song chasing him round stage trying to put it on before time with Stuart ducking and weaving trying to get away before finally conceding to her.

The set was a perfect mixture of songs new and old alike. It was in essence the cream of the Belle and Sebastian crop. A particular highlight included ‘Step Into My Office, Baby’ which sounded the best I’ve ever heard it with the brass section there to do their bit. This was also one of those rare shows that I could have gone home very happy without an encore as the band did such a through and excellent job before first departing the stage.

But, come back for round 2 they did and went out on a high before finishing the show and heading home to Glasgow to perform a number of homecoming shows.

Setlist:

I Didn’t See It Coming

Dirty Dream #2

Step Into My Office Baby

A Century of Fakers

I’m Not Living In The Real World

Piazza, New York Catcher

I Want The World To Stop

Lord Anthony

Sukie in the Graveyeard

The Sun Has Got His Hat On

Read the Blessed Pages

(I Believe In) Travellin’Light

Dog On Wheels

Write About Love

The Stars of Track & Field

The Boy With the Arab Strap

If You Find Yourself Caught In Love

Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying

Sleep the Clock Around

Encore:

Judy & the Dream of Horses

Legal Man

Me and the Major

Top 10 for 2010

January 11, 2011
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I have been convinced by Julie to follow in her footsteps and compose my own top 10 albums of the year.  My understanding is that I have to do this in order for the blog to continue,  as end of year lists are required by law.

Without further ado, my list is as follows:

LCD Soundsytem - This Is Happening1 . LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening

The 3rd and apparently last album from James Murphy’s LCD Soundsystem, this for me was the album I spent the  year listening to. I drove up and down the country with this more or less permanently in my CD player. Tracks such as ‘You Wanted a Hit’, ‘Dance Yrself Clean’ & ‘Drunk Girls’ are all something special.

The Indelicates - Songs for Swining Lovers

2 – The Indelicates – Songs for Swining Lovers

The Indelicates only truly came to my attention in 2010 and I’m very thankful that they did. This album is witty and dark and doesn’t make a misstep. With a dark cabaret style, they could be compared stylistically somewhat to The Dresden Dolls. The Indelicates differ in that Simon and Julia Indelicate share vocal duties on the album. The swapping of vocal duties has a nice back and forth to it, and on the songs where they duet I really enjoy the juxtaposition of male and female vocals. Special love for the track ‘Your Money’ and the 1984 reference.

3 – Los Campesinos! – Romance is Boring

Good work, Los Campesinos! This album is pretty great. Whilst many people I know are seemingly put off of Los Campesinos! because of Gareth’s voice, or simply because they went to university with the band I for one am a big fan, and this album is my favourite thing they have done to date.  It sounds trite to say, but I think the reason I can get behind this album is it speaks to me in the place in life I find myself at the moment. The timing of this album may have a lot to do with why I think it’s so good, and it might now have featured in my top 10 a couple of years previously, or a couple of years in to the future. That is not to say however, that this album is without merit as that would be ridiculous. There are some fantastic songs here, whilst non of them as poppy sounding as anything off the first album, this is a very natural progression sound wise and the song writing and musicianship of the band has only improved over the years.  Check out ‘Romance is Boring’, ‘These Are Listed Buildings’ & ‘(Plan A)’ are all a good place to start with this.

 And the rest….

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Sleigh Bells – Treats

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Belle & Sebastian – Write About Love

Of Montreal – False Priest

Top 10 Albums of 2010

January 4, 2011

Just as I did last year, I bring to you my top 10 albums of the year, with special attention to the top three.

1. Danger Days (The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys) – My Chemical Romance

Danger Days was one of the most hotly anticipated albums of this year, especially since the release date was pushed back from a spring release to a November one, but it was more than worth the wait. The highly conceptual album detailing the post-apocalyptical world in which the killjoys from the album title are living was a neon explosion of colour, the complete antithesis of in their previous offering, the somber Black Parade. The cinematic way in which they introduced the characters, through trailers and beautifully shot music videos tied in perfectly with Gerard Way’s other career of comic book creator. Danger Days is a varied album, showcasing My Chemical Romance’s love of various styles of music and perfectly demonstrates level of musical talent needed to draw from it, and create something entirely new and they sound all the better live. Highlights include the undeniably dance-tastic Planetary (GO!) and album closer Vampire Money.

My Chemical Romance will be touring in February, and it is a testament to the success of this record that all of the dates sold out on the day of release.

2. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

The Suburbs is the third studio album by Arcade Fire and boasts some of their most upbeat tracks to date, the double A side that was released prior to the album (reviewed here) was a perfect taster of the new direction that they had taken their music. The Month of May sounds eerily similar to something by Brakes, and the urgent, almost punk feel to the song is a welcome surprise, something that I’d definitely like to hear live which, to me is the mark of a good song. The album is consistent from start to finish, unlike Funeral, which I found to be more of a grower than an instant favourite, The Suburbs is good from the first listen and only gets better on each subsequent listen. The songs are tighter, and it feels like the band have really hit their stride with this album and I can’t wait to see what they’ll produce next.

A review of Arcade Fire’s tour for the album can be read here

3. Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young Man

Any year with a Manic Street Preachers release is going to see it in my top ten, because they are one of my favourite bands. Bias aside, Postcards From A Young Man continues their streak of releases (and they have been quite prolific of late) that have gained praise from critics, almost making up for the memory of the poorly received Lifeblood. Postcards From A Young Man see the Manics continuing with what they do best, sweeping, almost anthemic rock songs perfect for the fans to sing along to as fervently as to the old classics, something that I witnessed at their recent date at the Birmingham O2 Academy. A review of which can be read here. The Manics are masters of their craft, managing to turn mostly negative lyrics into uplifting pop songs that you can’t help but smile when you hear. For that alone they deserve to be in the top ten.

 

4. The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Hold Steady – Heaven is Whenever

 

 

 

 

 

6. Ben Folds & Nick Hornby – Lonely Avenue

 

 

 

 

7. My Dinosaur Life – Motion City Soundtrack

 

 

 

 

 

8. The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards

 

 

 

 

 

9. Alkaline Trio – This Addiction

 

 

 

 

 

10. The Black Keys – Brothers