Thursday 30 September 2021

The Subways + Art Brut, Rock City, Nottingham

Without an album in five years, although working on their fifth, in March 2020 The Subways started re-touring their debut album 'Young for Eternity' on its 15th anniversary. Then, like everyone else, they had to stop due to the pandemic. Now, eighteen months later, they are picking up where they left off and finishing off that tour.

Alongside them, also celebrating 15 years since their first album (well 16 now obviously) are old friends of mine Art Brut. I haven’t seen them for a while and I’m delighted to say they haven't changed one bit. Well Eddie Argos hasn't anyway or perhaps he’s just grown into his age. The band play themselves on with Guns N’ Roses 'Welcome To The Jungle' and proceed as if they are headlining. Which they probably think they are.

That debut album 'Bang Bang Rock & Roll' doesn't get the album in full treatment, and we instead get treated to a mix of all five of their albums, but they do open (of course) with 'Formed a Band' and then follow this with an updated version of 'My Little Brother'. It turns out his little brother, who 15 years ago had just discovered Rock N Roll, is now nearly 40 and a teacher e.g. not so out of control now. Cue updated and extended monologue that goes on almost forever.


As usual their show is part music, part stand-up comedy and part Jackanory. Delivered particularly excellently tonight. Can I take back what I said about them not having changed? They are usually pretty shambolic but tonight they are actually pretty slick once they get going. It’s probably the best performance I’ve seen them do. While the band, and particularly Argos, are clearly having a blast.

They play for almost a full hour, although 'My Little Brother' was most of that. As I said, they probably thought they were headlining.

Art Brut Setlist Rock City, Nottingham, England 2021

I may appear biased (and I’m also a big Subways fan) but I fear the Subways are going to have some problem topping that and I’m right. Upgraded from the smaller Rescue Rooms last time, due to the pre-pandemic lure of the classic album I suppose, it’s not that busy. On the upside though that leaves plenty of room for everyone to get lively, which is made good use of.


‘Young for Eternity' is delivered in full and in order. The music is as good as ever, it’s lively, it is delivered enthusiastically by the band and received just as enthusiastically by the crowd while Billy Lunn delivers some interesting stories of his own but... it all still seemed a bit flat.

Perhaps that’s what happens when what was going to be a brief look back at your debut album takes over 18 months to complete. On top of that Lunn and Charlotte Cooper are now officially without drummer Josh Morgan, Billy's brother, who has struggled with the touring for some years and has now left the band. His place tonight is filled by the Ramona's Camille Phillips.

With the classic album delivered the band play just five more on top from their other albums, which seemed a bit stingy. This included a track from their upcoming album, their new single 'Fight'. I think they desperately need that new album.

Then they finish by playing 'Rock & Roll Queen' for a second time. I'm not sure we needed it twice given the decent back catalogue they've got but Billy thought we did. They are off stage after only 75 minutes. Perhaps they also thought Art Brut here headlining?

The Subways Setlist Rock City, Nottingham, England 2021

Monday 13 September 2021

The Vaccines, NTSU The Level, Nottingham

Tonight's it's another of those 'free' gig when you by a band's new CD courtesy of Rough Trade who normally host these things upstairs at their shop. Clearly hosting the lively Vaccines crowd there wasn't deemed a good idea. Which is why I am at Nottingham Trent Students Union aka The Level for the first time since 2006 (The Automatic since you ask) and only the second time since 1995 (Belly since you ask). It has had not so much a refit as a rebuild since then e.g. it is brand new building.

The gig itself space is impressive, quite long and thin with a long stage and a good sound system. That the band with probably the most googled name on the planet, well what do you expect in a pandemic, is my second gig back after venues reopened and my first to be rammed full is perhaps fitting.

There is no support band (unless they were on really really early?) which sees everyone simply milling around for a considerable amount of time before the band come on at 9pm. 
They open with Wanderlust from that new CD 'Back to Love City' and all hell breaks loose which is quite an achievement for a new song that not everyone will know but then, this is probably so many folks first gig back after a long time denied them. Clearly lost time needs to be made up for.

The opener is is quickly followed by the much more widely known favourites, 'I Can't Quit' and 'I Always Knew'. Cue even greater mayhem. They then intersperse material from the new album will plenty of other favourites along the way. As is the way these days multiple tracks from the new record have been trailed ahead of its release as 'singles' and tracks such the likes of 'Headphones Baby' and 'Jump Off the Top' are already well known by a lot of the crowd.
As usual they round things up in around an hour and that includes returning for an encore of 'Wreckin Bar' and 'All in White'.

They are excellent as always. It's good to have them and music back.

The Vaccines Setlist The Level, Nottingham, England 2021