Saturday 23 October 2021

Sea Power, The Venue, Derby

Tonight’s support band Pale Blue Eyes probably need to chill out a bit more. Perhaps wear their guitars a bit lower, the short guitar strap is always a bit of a red flag for me, and the drummer needs to take her coat off or something. They are undeniably pleasant and make a nice enough sound but I just find them a bit lacking that is apart from the outstanding use of the dry ice. Sorry. 

The band formerly known as British Sea Power play their first gigs in two years on a tour delayed from 2020 that I made sure I bought a ticket for to help support tonight’s venue through lockdown as well as contributing to the Save Our Venues campaign.


The band are never predictable and they certainly aren’t with tonight’s opening which is the long meandering (in a nice way) prog rock-ish instrumental Heavenly Waters that appeared as a b-side on the 2003 single for Carrion. From there on things are slightly more predictable with welcome airings for the likes of ‘The Lonely’ and ‘North Hanging Rock’ among others.

There is plenty from the new album, ‘Everything Was Forever’ due out in February 2022, in the form of the rocky Doppelgänger, the more sing-along Two Fingers, We Only Want To Make You Happy and Folly, their current single.


Along with the name change, they have dropped the ‘British’, apparently the bear has been retired, although the foliage strewn stage clearly hasn’t and nor has violinist Abi despite her absence tonight.

She is stuck sheep sitting on the remote croft on the Isle of Skye that she shares with Neil where they have had three new-borns this year. Probably the best excuse ever.


The encore features Waving Flags, their pro-immigration and open borders anthem, a song which would probably get the right wing press’ backs up (if they knew about it) as much as the name change did (they noticed that). It also explains why they did it, what with people getting the wrong idea about the politics of a band who are far from nationalistic.


After that and after a two hour set, in a bizarre ending, but then aren’t they always, Yan and Martin are in the crowd. Yan is crowd surfing and Martin climbing on the beams (again) amid an impromptu (not on the set list) The Spirit of St. Louis. I wonder if they have to stress test the beams beforehand.

Sunday 3 October 2021

The Slow Readers Club, Rock City, Nottingham

We have three bands this evening and a late finish (a rarity for Rock City) so I get to see all three with local mini-legends Eyre Llew opening proceedings at a relaxed 7.45pm. This Nottingham trio have been around for seven years but this is the first time (I think) that I have crossed paths with them, in what is their first gig since lockdown. They are also the first band I know to have chosen to sign a song in Korean. Allegedly that is, as I couldn't prove whether it was Korean or not and they are one of those bands where you struggle to make out the words anyway. As lead singer and guitarist Sam Heaton says, try writing a song in a language that isn’t your own. Not easy I'm sure but clearly he's up for a challenge.

They're ambient style is very niche which is no bad thing but it's also not really my thing. Something which can't be said for Sheffield's Sheafs.

The first thing I think is that they're impersonating the Sisters of Mercy. On track one anyway, not so much after that as front man Lawrence Feenstra apologises for the husky gothic vocals because his voice is going.

After that his voice does seem to improve and it becomes clear that they have many styles to their bow. However the pounding drums, throbbing bass and chunky guitars remain. It's so 'Indie' cliche but also so good. Then I do love a band that grabs their audience by the throat from the off. I think you can tell I’m impressed. It's not just the tunes though, there’s a good line in banter and stage presence too. 

The other thing is that they're not all from Sheffield either and two of them are from Nottingham. Do you need any more reasons to check them out? They're well good.

So to a band with a fairly similar style, if a little more polished after years of gigging. Manchester’s The Slow Readers Club originally intended this tour to be for their 4th album ‘The Joy Of The Return’ but of course it didn't happen. Instead they released a 5th album in lockdown ’91 Days in Isolation’ and now have a single ‘Tell No Lies’ out from what will be their 6th when they get around to releasing it.


‘The Joy Of The Return’ is a very appropriate phrase given the current situation where bands are clearing loving the joy of returning to the stage and being back in front of a live crowd again. Aaron Starkie and his band, always effervescent, are no exception.

Both new records are thoroughly plundered tonight along with many of back catalogue favourites and as always they delight in mixing the set up and not always playing the obvious.

The finale was fairly obvious though... but when it’s as good as ‘Block Out the Sun’, ‘Feet on Fire’, ‘I Saw a Ghost’, ‘On The TV’ and ‘Lunatic’ with a little break for the new single, who’s complaining? Exceptional as ever.

The Slow Readers Club Setlist Rock City, Nottingham, England, UK Tour 2021