Monday 25 March 2024

Feeder, Rock City, Nottingham

 

Thursday 14 March 2024

Feeder, Engine Shed, Lincoln

Supported By The Pearl Harts

Support tonight is from The Pearl Harts from East London. They are an all female two-piece in the style of Honeyblood or maybe Blood Red Shoes e.g. just guitar and drums. That's Kirsty Lowrey on guitar and Sara Shaw on drums. They have been around since 2014 with their DIY punk\grunge rock and have songs with great titles like the raucous ‘Pullin My Brains Out’. Which is as lively and as loud as it sounds, like most of their material. 

And so to Feeder. We know that they are due on when their own '20th Century Trip' comes across the PA although this is followed by Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir which is probably one of Grant Nicholas’s favourites and perhaps his latest inspiration.

This current tour is Feeder's longest for many a year and it also comes before their new album 'Black/Red' is released, it is due out in April. Personally I don’t think playing a new album before it’s out works terribly well as not even their most hardcore fans are very familiar with the tracks and therefore cannot carry the rest of crowd. I guess having invested the time and money in to what is a double album they are hoping this approach maximises sales. I'm not sure that'll work but what do I know. Maybe if they were touring after release as well but they'll be straight into festival shows after this tour where they won't be able to get away with playing much off it.

Mid-set Nicholas himself turns salesman and attempts a sales pitch by urge the audience to be really old skool and buy the actual physical product. That may of course be aimed at those with CD players in their brand new Jaguars, leather sets optional.

The length of the tour also seems to have resulted in shorter sets which got even shorter when Nicholas fell ill early on in the tour. Just maybe they have taken on a bit too much here. That said you can't fault the band's performance tonight even if it is only a bare thirteen song set with a two song encore.

The new material showcased is very early/late Feeder in that it's very rocky. Only perhaps 'Lost in the Wilderness' and 'Hey You' really had choruses the crowd could latch on to.

There are six tracks in total from 'Black/Red' alongside the usual batch of crowd pleasers from their 'mid' pop period when they had their hits but overall it's not the hits-laden night some casual fans may have been expecting. Thankfully for regulars like me their tours are now longer quite that predictable but there is still only room tonight for two more obscure tracks for us Feeder nerds both of which come from their last but one album 'Tallullah'. 'Kyoto' which grows on me a bit more each time I hear them play it live and the always brilliant 'Fear of Flying'.

The band are just a four-piece on this tour with no Dean Deavall their usual keyboard player in attendance. This aids their recent rockier approach, which is all good, yet means some segments are clearly on tape.

After an effervescent double of ‘Come Back Around’ and 'Insomnia', that finally got the room jumping, we nearly got an extra track which, according to the set list, would have seen either 'My Perfect Day' or 'Tangerine' played but after a debate they opted for neither. Early on in the tour they were playing both as a fabulous foursome from the band's d├ębut album 'Polythene' along with 'Polythene Girl' and the ever present 'High' which is what they skipped on to before ending the set with the obligatory finale of 'Buck Rogers' followed by 'Just A Day' in the encore after another 'Black/Red' track 'Soldiers of Love'.

The band are as ever excellent, performance wise, but tonight did feel a bit like one they wanted to get their lead singer through safely while not taking too many extra risks.

Feeder Setlist The Engine Shed, Lincoln, England 2024, Black/Red

Monday 19 February 2024

The Vaccines, Octagon, Sheffield

Supported By Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers & Divorce

                                      

 




Wednesday 24 January 2024

Depeche Mode, National Indoor Arena, Birmingham

Supported By Nadine Shah

The last time I saw Depeche Mode was way back in 1986 on the Black Celebration tour which is obviously a very long time ago. That was at the NEC and that gig was one of the reasons that I decided that I don't like big arena shows but here I am now in a big arena seeing them again 38 years on. Of course Depeche Mode don't do anything other than arena shows and since they are showing no signs of coming down to my level here I am. This show at the Utilita Arena (aka the NIA) in Birmingham is their second UK date as part of their massive Memento Mori World Tour which began in March 2023 and will not finish until this April.

My partner is with me, tempted by seeing the band but fast regretting it now as I have insisted on standing up. The last time we were here for Arcade Fire we had seats that were so far way I could barely see or even hear the band properly. To get anywhere near the front tonight we had to be relatively early which means a lot of standing and waiting. Thankfully Depeche Mode hit the stage bang on time at 8.45.

In the meantime there is a distraction from the waiting in the form of Nadine Shah. Shah is from Tyneside but with a part Norwegian mother and a Pakistani father. She’s been around since 2009 and has supported Depeche Mode before, ten years ago. Still I haven’t heard of her.

I feel a bit sorry for her because her band seem dwarfed by their surroundings perched as they are on a small proportion of the massive staging playing to a not very attentive audience in such a cavernous arena. She’s fine, a polished performer who can sing but she’s not really my thing. Then after only six songs she’s gone.

Then it’s Depeche Mode who start off with a couple from their new album 'Memento Mori', the brooding 'My Cosmos Is Mine' and the rather excellent 'Wagging Tongue'. The new album is pretty good and the likes of 'Wagging Tongue' and 'Ghosts Again' which comes later stand up well against most of their older material. The album is probably their best since 2005's ‘Playing The Angel’ which gets three tracks itself tonight, and I’m a little disappointingly they play only two more from it tonight but then when you have fifteen albums to pick from set lists are a nightmare.

We haven't got the greatest spot in the world but we're near enough to get the full benefit of the sound which is much better than I expected for such a big arena and I've got a good view but then I'm a bit taller than my partner who says she hasn't. Hopefully she is enthralled by the impressive visuals on the big backdrop behind the band that accompany every song.  

 

The band then move on to a journey through some of their finest moment starting with 'Walking In My Shoes' and which is followed by the even better `It’s No Good`.

Depeche Mode are now vocalist Dave Gahan, whose voice still sounds great, and everything else-ist Martin Gore. They are assisted on stage by Christian Eigner on drums and Peter Gordeno on bass\keyboards.

As ever I will disagree with the set choices as I’m not a great fan of 'In Your Room' nor ‘I Feel You’ but there’s plenty I love. The likes of 'Policy Of Truth' hit the spot, 'Precious' is terrific and the classic `Everything Counts` from way back in 1983 sees Gahan and Gore sharing vocals along with most of the crowd.

After 'Speak To Me' Gahan disappears for a lie down leaving us with a Martin Gore solo segment. He has varied his two tracks throughout the tour and tonight it is 'Strangelove', one of two from 1987's 'Music for the Masses', followed by 'Heaven', the only one tonight from 2013's 'Delta Machine'. Interesting choices but he has been doing 'Home' from my favourite album ‘Ultra’ from 1997 and he doesn't do that tonight. The bastard.

Gahan is back for the finale which includes the `World in My Eyes` performed alongside images of Andrew Fletcher who sadly passed away in May 2022. It was a nice touch.

 

Then with some form of weird symmetry of 38 years ago they surprisingly play 'Black Celebration' itself. Then it's the brilliant 'Stripped' and a personal favourite of mine 'John The Revelator' from the aforementioned ‘Playing The Angel’ before closing out with `Enjoy the Silence`.

If you thought that maybe 'Violator' was not getting enough love tonight they put that right when it clocks up its fourth and fifth tracks in the encore starting with 'Waiting For The Night'. Then it’s the mega oldie 'Just Can’t Get Enough' with a lot of bad dancing from Gahan, 'Never Let Me Down Again' and finally 'Personal Jesus' that ends the night. Even I have to admit it was a pretty well thought out set list.

Depeche Mode were in the past known as quite a gloomy bunch and maybe it looked as if they were not always totally enjoying themselves on stage but now, perhaps as they get older, the two remaining members of the band look like they're having a ball and long may it continue.

Sunday 17 December 2023

Ruts DC, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Supported By Voodoo Radio

Support comes from Voodoo Radio who are a father and daughter two 2-piece. It’s not often you see that. Particularly as he, Tony on guitar, is 64. Paige plays drums, just a tom-tom and a snare, standing up and does most of the vocals. This limited set up is surprisingly effective as the two of them play their generally short but lively numbers but it’s not just about the music with them.

She’s not shy, introducing songs such as ‘Basic Bitch’ which is a song about what her brother calls her. While he acts as a straight man to her ramblings. They are quite a combo, playing well off each other.

Apparently where they are from in Barrow in Furness, a coal mining town, ‘Slag Bank’ means something completely different to what is does down south. While she says ‘Turn Out The Light’ is about a one night stand. He says it’s about saving electricity.

Voodoo Radio are quite a thing, unique and very entertaining. Well worth seeing.

Then it’s time for the Ruts DC. I came to the Ruts late, after they had finished, but was taken by their take on punk despite their occasional reggae diversions that I wasn't so struck on. They only released two albums and the second of those was actually released after their front man Malcolm Owen died from a heroin overdose in 1980 at the age of 26.

The band continued for while under the name Ruts DC but eventually disbanded in 1983. At which point I discovered them.

The band had a 24-year break but when another original member Paul Fox died of cancer the two remaining members bassist John ‘Segs’ Jennings and drummer Dave Ruffy got back together and have continued ever since. They have recorded and released plenty of new music, not wanting to be a Ruts tribute act.

 

Those two, along with Leigh Heggarty on guitar, stroll onto the stage, smartly attired. Suited and booted. Looking very cool.

They open with ‘Faces in the Sky’ from their latest ‘Counterculture’ album, then seamlessly go back several decades for the Ruts classic ‘SUS’.

 

For ninety minutes or so they deliver all the oldies such as ‘Something That I Said’, ‘West One (Shine On Me)’ and yes the reggae of ‘Jah War’ but their never songs are equally appreciated.

‘In a Rut’ turns into a medley that includes the Pogues ‘Dirty Old Town’ as a tribute to the recently departed Shane McGowan. While the set closer is the epic ‘Babylon’s Burning’.

 

They return for an encore that sandwiches the 1979 single ‘Staring at the Rude Boys’ between two newer tracks, closing with ‘Psychic Attack’ from the 2016 album ‘Music Must Destroy’, before sending us out into the cold night seriously warmed up.

Ruts DC Setlist Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England 2023

Thursday 30 November 2023

Tom Robinson, The Old Cold Store, Nottingham

 Supported By Rob Green

Tonight I am at Nottingham’s Old Cold Store to see Tom Robinson. The Old Cold Store is part of the Vat and Fiddle pub owned by Castle Rock Brewery so the audience is at least assured a good pint.

The Cold Store is also really cold. This is partly because it’s late November but also because it appears that the venue is just the pub’s backyard that they’ve (sort of) put a roof on. This is also (sort of) a seated gig and they’ve put chairs out for us old folks. Although you can stand at the back if you’re hardcore and/or you want to jump around to keep warm. Note to self: bring gloves next time.

 

Support comes from a chap called Rob Green who is originally from Nottingham. As always with a Tom Robinson show the support artist has been featured on his 6 Music Show and is introduced by the man himself. Green plays a short 20 minute set which only consists of three songs, a poem and a medley of covers but then he is hauled back on stage for one more called ‘I’ll Be Around’ which is the best one he does. He’s decent and hits some amazingly high notes with his voice.

After giving us a chance to get another beer, Robinson comes on stage, rolls his sleeves up, and launches into the first of two 45 minutes sets with a track I didn’t know ‘You Tattooed Me’ from his 1986 album ‘Still Loving You’. One of several songs that he plays tonight that I’ve not heard before.

 

This evening it is just him, without his band, and 'up close and personal' is the title of the show and that is what we get. Just Tom, his guitar and his keyboard.

The two sets will have an intermission in between. This is presumably another innovation along with the chairs for us oldies and for himself, a sprightly 73 year old.

During his reworking of ‘Fifty’ as in ‘what if we live to be fifty’ that he has now called ‘Eighty’ out of necessity as he’s now obviously way past being fifty, he tells of the three things getting older has changed in his performances. Firstly that he has to write down any new song lyrics or else he’ll forget then. Secondly, that having written them down he can’t actually read them. The third thing slips his memory.

His memory is strong though concerning his former TRB band colleague Danny Kustow to which he dedicates ‘Too Good To Be True’. A tale about Kustow is just one of his many recollections about his songs he tells tonight.

 

Robinson is also still a vocal critic of everything wrong in the world and also of abuses of power hence one of his newer songs ‘The Mighty Sword of Justice’. Then after ‘Atmospherics: Listen to the Radio’ he takes a break, so that we can all have a lie down.

Part two includes such classics as ‘Grey Cortina’, ‘War Baby’, ‘Glad to Be Gay’ and ‘Up Against the Wall’ before he closes with a ‘short medley of my greatest hit’ i.e. ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’.

He treats us to one more which is the rather poignant ‘Only the Now’. It’s a personal favourite of his about the reality that the past is the past but that the future is always unknown and we all have to live in the moment. Sound advice and an excellent night.