Friday 26 September 2008

White Lies, Leadmill

Tonight we take a trip up to the Leadmill in Sheffield to see the promising new band 'White Lies'. They sound excellent, early Killers with a touch of Editors in there. So I couldn't really pass that one up.

We arrive early to find that the gig is in the Leadmill's cosy backroom, nice and intimate. We catch some of the set by the Post War Years. Hailing from Leamington Spa, they produce a nice mish-mash of pop, rock and electro. Lots of keyboards and the like but with some rocking guitar riffs added in, and a touch of wailing vocals.
They remind me a little of our own Late of the Pier, perhaps with a dose of Cold War Kids mixed in. Their stuff perhaps needs some work but it sounds promising.

Following them on to the stage are the Joy Formidable. Bleach blonde vocalist and guitarist Ritzy (female) and bass player Rhydian (male) are both from Wales. A drummer called Justin from Devon completes their line up. I thought Ritzy was making eyes at her Devonian percussionist but actually it's Rhydian who's her partner. Oops, hope I've not stoked up any sexual tension in the band.

I do like their sound, early 90's though it may be. They remind me a lot of the girl fronted rock bands of that era. There are certainly comparisons to be made to bands such as Echobelly, Breeders, Belly and one of my lesser known faves springs to mind, the Heart Throbs. In fact, there's a lot of Tanya Donnelly about lead singer Ritzy, even though she's Welsh. She's definite the focal point, doing lead vocals and sashaying around giving her guitar a hard time. She's also a girl who seems to like to spend a lot of time on her knees... nothing wrong with that... and she spends a fair proportion of the gig down there, fiddling with her guitar strings and her effect pedals.

Overall, they look quite a prospect. Their debut single ‘Austere’ is just out and they close their set with it. I hope to hear a lot more from them. Excellent. White Lies certainly have something to live up to.

As well as support band threatening to upstage them, White Lies also have a lot of hype to live up to, previously known as 'Fear Of Flying', a band who received lots of acclaim but little success. The band has now seemingly reinvented themselves and are creating a bit of buzz.

The opener 'Farewell To The Fairground' gives grounds to their tag of Killers wannabes. It's rather too heavy on the keyboards and on the drums for that matter. Lead singer and guitarist Harry McVeigh obviously realises this too and appeals to the sound engineer to turn the guitars up, which he duly does and they metamorphose from the Killers into something more beefy, resembling, perhaps, I have to offer these comparisons, the Psychedelic Furs.

Charles Cave is on bass, Jack Brown on drums and they have an unofficial fourth member on keyboards who is rumoured to have been in the now obsolete Mumm-ra. Oh dear, never mind, he's obviously got over it.

Draped in black and trying to look as miserable as possible, the band showcase tracks from their forthcoming debut album, barely pausing to take breath between tracks.

April's debut single 'Unfinished Business' is third up and sounds much better than the download blagged off the internet. The crowd are really getting into the gig but after 'From The Stars', which means three of the first four tracks they play have been available on the net, the audience go a bit subdued, as the band play stuff they don't know. White Lies do a nice line in bleakness and at this point, they descend heavily into it for about four tracks. This is wonderful but the crowd do kind of watch in awe rather than join in.

They then finish with the current single 'Death' which reignites the crowd but I can't help but feel that putting this somewhere in the middle would have made it a better set.

The album is apparently finished but isn't due out until January. I don't understand that, if it's ready, release it for Gods sake.

Thursday 25 September 2008

Glasvegas, Rescue Rooms

We've been here before, done that, bought the t-shirt. Well L did, when we saw Glasvegas a few months ago in Derby.

It wasn't that long ago but it still seems ages since we've been to a gig. Well tonight, starts off the traditional autumn gigging season. Glasvegas themselves are back in Nottingham in December, we might be there too. Suppose it depends how tonight's sold out gig goes. Tickets were £8 only but have been going for £30 on eBay.

First up are Infa Red from Kent, or right down south as they helpfully explain. They are a five piece indie band although the keyboard player needn't have bothered as you can barely hear his tinklings over the guitars. Their Myspace describes their music as 'dynamic, driven anthems'. I'm not sure about that. There's definitely a large dose of early Editors about them. That at least appears to be what the lead guitarist listens to on his Ipod. You can also hear it in the singer's voice.

The lead guitarist cuts a strange figure tonight. We reckon he's left his best jeans scrunched up on his bedroom floor and forgot to give them his mum to put in the wash because the pair he's wearing are well knackered. You can see he's tried to repair the broken fly with a safety pin but he seems to have even botched that up. He's conscious of it because he keeps pulling his shirt down to cover the debacle. It kinds of takes our attention away from his guitar playing which isn't actually too bad. L reckons he's just trying to get a mention in my blog. Well it worked but honestly, the lengths people will go to get a mention.

There seems to have been a lot of water under the bridge since we last saw Glasvegas. They now have an album out, which is number two in the charts, kept off the top by the new Metallica album, as evetone keeps saying, even Infa Red mention it. There's also been a lot of off-putting tabloid hysteria written about them. Which is a shame really because it means that the boozed up lager boys are in tonight, punching the air, putting on fake Scottish accents and throwing their beer around. Particularly annoying for us because we've blagged a spot right in the line of fire, down the front.

They kick off as they did when we saw them in June with 'Flowers And Football Tops' and then proceed to play pretty much the same set as before, in almost the same order. They add just one track, managing now to fit in a whole nine tracks.

The one track they add, 'S.A.D. Light' is excellent tonight and a definite highlight. It is such an insignificant song on the album but like much of their material, it takes on a different life live. From this point on they seem to find their stride. 'Polmont On My Mind' which follows it, also sounds fantastic live. Then comes the always excellent 'Geraldine', again sounding superb. This is proper 'Geraldine', not the polished near-disco version that's included on the album, where I'm sure they've used a drum machine.

(photo - James Arnold)

Personally, I find the album, rather dull and disappointing. For a start half of it, including the four singles, has been around for three years now but mainly because the record simply doesn't catch the band's sound at all. They've taken away all the rawness of those much loved demo tapes and smoothed down all the rough edges. You can even hear and understand James Allen's words without looking them up on the internet, which is unforgiveable.

Thankfully, live they still sound pretty raw. 'Go Square Go', slowed down to practically a ballad on the album, is back to full throttle tonight and the lager boys love it, drunkenly chanting 'Here we f***ing go'.

James Allen is really getting the hang of this rock star lark, with his shades in place for most of the night. Although he lowers them briefly when the crowd ask him to 'show us your eyes', he still says little, letting the songs do all the talking.

(photo - James Arnold)

'Ice Cream Van' leads us into the predicable finale of 'Daddy’s Gone', which is as good as ever. Although he does the unforgivable and hands the mob vocal duty half way through.

When it's over the crowd pick up where he's left off, continuing with 'he's gone, he's gone' but yep they've gone. Still only 45 minutes and still no encore. We know they have other older songs, we know they do a cover of 'Be My Baby', we know they have an new EP being readied for Christmas. They could even have played 'Stabbed', maybe the upbeat 'I'm Gonna Get' version.

Tonight Glasvegas are still excellent, still powerful, still distinctive ... but it feels as if they're simply on autopilot, being told what to play, in what order and no more. There's no spontaneity, no surprises. I suppose it's too much to ask to be blown away twice by the same band but if they want people to keep coming back, they're going to have to offer a bit more.

The photos are thanks to James Arnold, who I don't personally know, but I reckon he was stood next to me. There are more great photos of the gig on his fickr site here