Tuesday 27 September 2022

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Rock City, Nottingham

Supported By Pet Needs + Truckstop Honeymoon

Unsurprisingly Frank Turner again delivers two strong support acts tonight in Truckstop Honeymoon and Pet Needs. First up are husband and wife team Mike and Katie West aka Truckstop Honeymoon. They have been together a long long time and have a well-honed act, part comedy banter part bluegrass country music right down to the banjo and the double bass. Anyone who has song titles such as ‘Louisiana Tug Boat Captain’ and ‘Your Mother Is a Sociopath’ are fine by me. They are immensely entertaining and a great way to kick off the evening.

There is then a complete change of gear when Colchester’s unashamedly punk Pet Needs take to the stage and they take to the stage serenaded by Art Brut’s ‘Formed A Band’. Has anyone anywhere ever come on to an Art Brut song before? Other than Art Brut themselves? Eddie Argos would be so proud.

They may now be from Colchester but singer Johnny Marriott grew up in Nottingham and tells us that he saw his first punk gig at Rock City when he saw Rancid. 13 years later he’s on the same stage. It’s also a great story that their first album got picked up during lockdown. They are clearly a band on the up and they’ve brought a huge crowd with them including Johnny’s Mum and Dad. Like Truckstop Honeymoon they don’t lack for confidence although we won’t mention Johnny’s dancing but you can’t knock his and the band’s enthusiasm which is truly infectious.

They’re playing at the Bodega in December but given tonight’s reception I’m not sure that’s going to be big enough for them.

It’s been a while in the making but Frank Turner is back at his spiritual home and what he calls the ‘best gig venue in the world’. I have almost forgiven him for the two cancellations in March 2020 and February 2022. That is cancelled rather than rescheduled meaning loss of booking fees and having to fight the pre-sales all over again as getting Frank Turner tickets is no picnic. Meanwhile he plays four acoustic shows locally that, of course, you couldn’t get tickets for… but anyway. Ancient history now.

The ‘never-ending tour of everywhere’ show 2689 is now here and surprisingly Frank opens with a track that usually comes at the end in ‘Four Simple Words’ before move into ‘The Gathering’ the first of many tonight from his new record ‘FTHC’.

A couple of these new songs tell the story of his relationship with his father. First up ‘Fatherless’ telling of their estrangement and then three songs later comes the second part of the story with ‘Miranda’. His father's called Miranda these days, a proud transgender woman and, he says, they’re ok.

It’s a night of emotional songs as he also pays tribute to his late friend Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit’s lead singer who sadly took his own life in 2018, with the excellent ‘A Wave Across A Bay’.

His now customary solo section is ‘There She is’, ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ and ‘Be More Kind’ but he is sort of heckled, as usual, for other tracks including most prominently 'Thatcher Fucked The Kids'.

Once the solo section is over the Sleeping Souls return for the finale including the monstrous newbie, that harks back to his hardcore roots, ‘Non Serviam’.

When he returns for the encore he whinges a bit about the earlier 'heckling' and then adds 'Thatcher Fucked The Kids' to the set, which I think is the first time he’s ever played it at Rock City before launching into the always excellent ‘Prufrock’. 


His shows are always good but some of the ones I’ve seen in the last few years have got a bit samey but tonight he seemed to go up another gear, perhaps the enforced pandemic break did him good, as this was the best I’ve seen Frank Turner in quite some time. Although... I still think he has way too many tracks on his ‘must play’ list but I best not ‘whinge’ too much about that. 

Frank Turner Setlist Rock City, Nottingham, England 2022, The Neverending Tour of Everywhere

Monday 19 September 2022

House Of Love, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

With Support From Pete Astor

Support tonight is from Pete Astor formerly of The Loft and The Weather Prophets back in the 1980s. He’s very popular with the crowd and an impressive performer that somehow I’ve managed not to see over all these years. Most of the material tonight s from his later solo career and mostly from his new album ‘Time on Earth’ although he does include ‘Why Does The Rain’ from his Loft days. 


While having not seen Pete Astor before, I did see the House of Love four times in a sixteen month period back in the day when they were one of my favourite bands. This was 1988-1990. Isn't it amazing how you let things slide... Now Guy Chadwick is stood back in front of me 32 years on.

Of course things changed for the band when lead guitarist Terr Bickers left in late 1989, a month before I saw them for the last time at Derby Darwin Suite in January 1990. Then the band broke up completely in 1993.

I've been missing in action a bit since. In 2003 the reconciled Chadwick and Bickers reformed the band and even released new material. This reunion held until 2020 but now Chadwick is back on his own with a new line up which includes great guitarist of around ‘our age’ and a much younger bass player who seems almost styled in the band’s original image. They could be father and son and, as it turns out, they are. Keith and Harry Osborne.

Kicking off with the three opening tracks from House of Love’s debut album ‘Road’, ‘Christine’ and ‘Hope’ but not in the right order. These obviously go down well with the crowd before we are then delving heavily into the band’s impressive new album ‘A State Of Grace’ from which no less than seven tracks are pulled tonight. One of which ‘Hey Babe’ Chadwick dedicates to the Queen on the day of her funeral.

He is chattier than I recall him being in the past and among other things we find out that he lived in Chilwell for 18 months which he says ‘wasn’t great’.

There are plenty of other oldies of course including ‘Shine On’ their first single from 1987, the sheer indie brilliance of ‘Destroy The Heart’ and a hauntingly brilliant ‘Love In A Car’ which closes the set. While another belter from the old days ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’ is part of the encore. Possibly the highlight though is a thunderous ‘Burn Down The World’. 

An excellent gig and I best not leave it another 32 years.

The House of Love Setlist Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England 2022

Friday 2 September 2022

Arcade Fire, Birmingham NIA

Arcade Fire appear in Birmingham a few days after sexual misconduct allegations were made against the band's frontman Win Butler.

These allegations by four women followed an investigation by American music website Pitchfork. Allegations taken seriously by many but suspiciously by others as they were revealed just as the band were about to head off on a European tour.

The band's support, Feist, played in Dublin on the first two dates but then quit the tour and returned home to Canada. So we have no support tonight just a DJ with some maracas who goes on forever and really starts to annoy after a while.

The arena is dead quiet and there are loads of empty seats so we are starting to suspect a big boycott but in the end I think they may have just been avoiding the DJ as the place fills up as Arcade Fire take the stage at 9pm despite the arena putting out messages saying the start had been moved from 9pm to 8:30pm. Seems no one told the band.

It’s not full but then it wasn't sold out anyway so it's hard to tell how many have stayed at home. There are gaps in the seats which probably doesn’t make sense unless people have stayed away. Therefore it would have been nice if everyone had just shuffled up a bit as we were miles from the stage. It wasn't quite as bad last time I was at the NIA but this is almost binoculars territory and it reminds why I usually skip arena gigs unless I can stand at the front.

Being so far away dulls the experience a touch but that apart from that they are very good. The crowd's enthusiasm seems undimmed by what may or not may not have gone on and nor did the band look phased. It was the first time I have seen them live and they certainly didn't disappoint.

Making up for the size of the arena, the band played the first song on a second stage in the middle of the arena on which the seven-piece band somehow managed to squeeze themselves as they opened with 'Rebellion (Lies)'.

The band then transferred to the main stage for ‘Age of Anxiety I’ from the new album ‘We’, their sixth LP, from which much of the set is understandably pulled. There are some excellent oldies though ‘Ready to Start’, ‘Creature Comfort’, ‘Keep the Car Running’ and an excellent ‘The Suburbs’ among others while ‘Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)’ from the new album comes accompanied by multi-coloured inflatables rising up from the stage.

The band's sets are never predictable and they are well known for mixing up sets lists which they do tonight with first appearances of the tour for ‘We Used to Wait’ and ‘Half Light I’. Something that more bands should do.

Butler’s wife Regine Chassagne probably steals the show with ‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ heading off into the crowd in party mode with a security guard in hot pursuit.

After closing with ‘Everything Now’ the band return to the second stage for the encore playing the full nine minutes of ‘End of the Empire I-IV’ in all its pretentious glory.

The band have been doing different cover versions every night so far roughly linked to the area they are in. After U2 and the Cranberries in Ireland I'm not totally sure of the relevance The Verve, ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ and Wigan to Birmingham but then the Cranberries aren't from Dublin either. After which they close a very pleasant evening with ‘Wake Up’.