Until last year I was only dimly aware of them. But my friend Neil dragged me along to see them at the Borderline. I've been hooked ever since. Darren from Hefner produced the new album Beer in the Breakers and he knew exactly what to do about that. Basically roll the tapes and let them play. This is a band who are completely simpatico and telepathic with one another. Maybe it's a feature of three-piece bands. But the playing, and the writing, and the performing find them all locked into their own little world. The guitar player and main songwriter David draws much of the attention. His playing is just beyond belief and his singing, and writing with lots of images of ordinary life sketched and held up for a closer look are just great. Allied to wonderful tunes and heartfelt playing. There's an atmosphere of celebration and warmth and you come out from a wave pictures show feeling better somehow. The drummer Johnny and the bass player Franic are just as good and deliver the spine of the music on which David Tattersall's words and playing dance. I do not understand how it is possible for this band not to be so much better known. Greatness beckons. Hopefully.
With King Creosote having provided the most amazing live music moment of the previous year, it was going to be difficult to beat that. He played at the Union Chapel with John Hopkins. Performing their diamond mine album in its entirety and a bunch of gorgeous encores. The atmosphere was intense and reverential because here whether real hard-core fans hanging on every note and every smile and every gesture from Kenny, John Hopkins and the guest players from geese. His most ardent fan was there as before calling out and whooping after each song. We had seen this guy last year in the slaughtered Lamb. But here the sense of occasion and the overwhelming atmosphere of wanting to hear the music overcame even his most fanatical follower. He played everything I wanted to hear and more, including a lovely version of nothing compares 2U which has been helpfully uploaded to you Tube. He played Leslie and he played And the racket they made.
There was nothing else I could have asked for.Atmospheric, unrepeatable and wonderful.
Appropriately enough I am with one of my oldest friends from back in the day in Leeds. Familiar faces are all around. It's almost like some gathering of the ancient clans. They have heard the call but the are Mekons are in town and they are gathering, one more time. Inside the venue we stand near a couple who are making a video. John Langford announces that after 38 years they are having a documentary film made about them. This makes little difference to the way they go about things. Apart from, after messing up two new songs when Langford says why should I care after 38 years have I written enough songs. Everyone is on great form. My favourite songs still come from fear and whiskey and me cons rock 'n' roll. Down the front of the stage a new generation of me cons are having the time of their lives and slowly and gently staking their claim and pushing aside the older never been in a riot fraternity. A great night as always
I had seen M Ward play before. But never at the union Chapel. It was a first for him as well. He makes the most beautiful, timeless sound from his guitars and it all look so effortless. Like it has always been easy for him. But this particular skill is hard one and not as simple as he makes out. The union Chapel is packed and hushed. The atmosphere is warm and Sunday night. So many of my favourites are played, including the Sandman the brakeman and me from the monsters of folk album. He plays a Nick Drake song, Place to Be, and his immaculate cover of Let's Dance both songs performed because he is in England. There is no new material but when you have been as prolific as he has at turning out atmospheric beautiful music for more than a decade you don't need to have new material. A short but beautiful set.
He had a picture of one of his daughters on his guitar.He had some great younger musicians with him. He played those beautiful songs which I loved from the album A town called amen.
And even though Jailbird did not go quite according to plan it was still very beautiful.
Again, how is it that this man is not so much more well known?
Down at the Slaughtered Lamb he came on stage, or rather he walked into the middle of the room, looking like no one else. He was tired and emotional. I don't mean he was drunk. I mean, he was tired and emotional. There was an atmosphere of reverence in the room. Here were people who could not believe they had stumbled across the uncut singer of the month in person no more than 20 feet away at the furthest point. He played most of last of the country gentleman. Reviews have pitched his voice, delivery and subject matter somewhere between Ian Curtis and Johnny Cash. Neither of these reference points really does justice to the experience of seeing him play live. The guitar is used as an extension of the voice not as an accompaniment. Chords are not played so much as used to prop what emerges from somewhere beneath the long hair and beard and 10 years of living, loving and troubling his mind with altered states since the implosion of Lift to Experience, his former band. What emerges, is a spine tingling but also worryingly, essentially voyeuristic expedition into some particularly dark places and sad experiences. No one writes a song called Sweetheart I ain't your Christ because they feel light of heart and that they might make the Kiss 100 playlist. He seems as surprised as anyone else in the room at the fact that this music which appears to be on the point of collapse into nothing at several points actually works. And moves. This surprise extends to catching sight of the actual CD for the first time at the end of the night when my friend offers his pre-release copy to him for his signature. “This is the first one of these I've seen” is what he tells him. And this night and this music too is something the like of which I have not quite seen before.
This blog is for reviews of the various live shows that we go to as well as being about the music we enjoy listening to…along with some pointers to videos and music tracks we’ve enjoyed…along with links to music blogs we’ve enjoyed. In spite of what friends and family might assume, this is not going to be exclusively limited to what gets called “Americana” by Uncut (though that’s not necessarily a bad thing – in fact quite the reverse!) but includes a wide variety of music we’re interested in. The only consistent connecting theme is it seems to be about music made by people who are mainly off the really giant commercial radar (with some exceptions) but who seem to be in it because they enjoy working with those few chords and twisting them into something new and timeless. Or something like that. So we’ll reference things we’ve been to see recently and in the recent past and years ago and just yesterday and maybe even at the time.
Those of you familiar with King Creosote will recoginse the title of this blog as being part of a great song of his. We really don’t intend to take this name in vain but to take it as an inspirational title. Last April at the Slaughtered Lamb he played my favourite song “And the Racket They Made” by request *after* the show was finished and people were leaving. He didn’t have to do this and he could have politely asked me to back off and leave him alone (there I was whining that he hadn’t played it after an immaculate 2 hour set). There were no cameras recording this lovely extra performance and this song in particular – but it happened. Really. And the only thing recording it is this, a post on my other blog and memory.
So this blog is a means of recording some of what happens out there in the still beautiful and unpredictable world of live music (away from most of the corporate venues at least).
Hope you like it.