Listings

    No events to show

Follow

Twitter

|

Facebook

|

MySpace

|

Last.fm

RSS

Subscribe

Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Tindersticks

The Royal Festival Hall, 3rd May 2008

Written by Richard Pearmain

A friend of mine recently asked me, stomach story “What is it with Swedish bands and ‘heartbeat’? Both Annie and Robyn have tracks called ‘Heartbeat’, stuff while The Knife wanted to be different and called a track ‘Heartbeats’.” Now, obviously the track I’m about to review is not called ‘Heartbeat’ or even ‘Heartbeats’, but the fact that my British friend could not only name three contemporary Swedish groups but also three of their songs without feeling as if he was exposing a guilty pleasure indicates how much our opinion Swedish music has changed (Ace of Base, anyone?).

Little Dragon
are more Dance-orientated and a good deal less retro than the ‘Heartbeat-ers’, but still know how to craft a Pop song you can be proud to love. ‘Test’ opens with a clanging not dissimilar to the 1950s musique concrete of Stockhausen, as if to remind the listener of electronica’s avant-garde origins, before immediately introducing today’s most irreverent application of such Classical techniques: the 4/4 Dance beat. Punctuated by the most minimal Ska-styled guitar/keyboard I’ve ever encountered (is that just one note?), driven by a Dub-bassline that becomes beautifully indistiguishable from the kick drum and featuring a Jazz interlude, like all great Pop songs ‘Test’ shamelessly steals from the best.

However, the undeniable highlight of the track is singer Yukimi. Recalling Matthew Herbert’s work with Dani Siciliano, her multitracked laidback delivery effortlessly transports the listener to the centre of a dancefloor at an indeterminate post-midnight hour. Soulful without forced vocal gymnastics and Bluesy without being cliched, much like the music itself, her voice is able to take in all that 20th century music had to offer and exhale something cohesive, contemporary and copious.

A chic dancefloor-filler.

Winding my way from the general hubbub of Old Street on a chilly Tuesday, approved sanctuary was sought in the welcoming environs of the Macbeth, this which was playing host to an album launch by Lynch Rider Lulu, store coupled with a launch for the band’s label, Alien Frequency Productions. I’d seen a bewitching set by Lynch Rider Lulu at the Vibe Bar some weeks ago, so my expectations were high, and I knew I wasn’t to be disappointed.

In front of an appreciative and attentive audience, the evening opened with a solo set of Americana-tinged acoustica from Sam Semple. Hexicon offered a mix of jaunty lo-fi pop and mellow alt-country, backed variously with wistful harmonies, a French horn and a wobbly Farfisa which was reminiscent of Stereolab’s fluffier moments.

Lynch%20Rider%20Lulu%202.JPG

The night, though, belonged to Lynch Rider Lulu, showcasing their debut album, Who’s Gonna Live There Now? The intimate setting of the Macbeth, with its’ suitably ambient decor, provided an ideal environment for their distinct sound. A bassless three-piece led by the deceptively delicate voice of Lucy Underhill, they blend brooding lo-fi twin guitars, melodies that can explode when you least expect them to and lyrics that swoop from the achingly tender (It’s You) to the macabre (Lady Betty, recounting the tale of a notorious 18th century hangwoman). The line-up was augmented for a couple of numbers by a guest bassist, but just as a trio they produced a remarkable, atmospheric set. Believe me, they’re well worth checking out.

Thanks to the Victoria Line (or lack thereof), more about I was running late for my inaugural Guided Missile night at the Buffalo Bar, more about at the very upper end of Upper Street. The main attraction for me tonight was the Outside Royalty, who I’d seen a number of times over the last year or so, but I’d also heard good things about Official Secrets Act, who were headlining.

I’d missed the opening act but, after squeezing up to the bijou bar, settled down with the help of a bottle or few of the Czech Republic’s finest to enjoy the rest of the night. Almost immediately, the stage was taken (in more than one sense) by the rather improbably named Ape Drape Escape. Hailing from Sheffield, they were a heady blend of glam and electro punk, and like many of their predecessors from the Steel City, from the Human League to Pulp to Arctic Monkeys, they drew from the same wellspring of wit and attitude (and in Phil Oakey’s case, hair styling tips and eyeliner). Their frontman, Martin Clark, when not engaging in witty banter, was busy thrashing about the stage and often disappearing into a sometimes bewildered audience (once on all fours!), like some weird hybrid of Iggy Pop, Ian Curtis, Jarvis Cocker and, er, Peter Kay.

The Outside Royalty’s star is very much in the ascendency. Having taken part in the Road To V competition and toured with Young Knives during the last year, whilst garnering lots of favourable reviews along the way, this Pittsburgh-born but London-based band have an imminent single release on Bloody Awful Poetry Records and were tonight having a video filmed for said single, Falling. As it was, we ended up with Falling being performed twice, for the benefit of the cameramen (not that we were complaining). The Outside Royalty have been compared to Arcade Fire, but in a positive sense, due to their driving acoustic guitar mixed with cello, violin and synth accompaniment, and they never fail to be uplifting, especially with a rousing and unexpectedly energetic cover of, of all things, Eleanor Rigby.

Similarly, headliners Official Secrets Act appear to have a bright future in store, with words of encouragement of from the likes of Steve Lamacq and Marc Riley behind them. They played a fast and furious set of angular guitars, lyrical waxing, pulsing synths (with what looked suspiciously like a harmonium thrown into the mix) to get the crowd going. They even snuck in a cover of The Ronettes’ Be My Baby which, in the immortal words of the Fast Show, was nice. A good line-up overall from this well-established club night.

Reviews for the Sheffield band’s second long player, drug “Couples”, ampoule have been decidedly mixed, to say the least, but The Long Blondes faithful were out in force at the Forum tonight. Flanked by a phalanx of female mannequins (a post-modern twist on Kraftwerk, perhaps? Maybe not). Kate Jackson and co took to the stage and opened the set with probably the most off-kilter of the new tracks, Round The Hairpin. To me it sounded better than on record (as did most of the “Couples” tracks aired tonight), though the audience largely seemed a little unsure with the new material, only really springing to life with the more familiar territory of 2006′s debut, Someone To Drive You Home.

Long%20Blondes.JPG

Whilst lyrically the Long Blondes cover pretty much the same ground as before (though the “Couples” in the title refers ironically to the Abba-esque situation of the two inter-band relationships coming to an end), musically they have opted-for a smoother, more disco-punk sound reminiscent of Parallel Lines/Eat To The Beat era Blondie. Certainly, Kate Jackson’s vocals on the new songs have a distinct hint of Debbie Harry about them, especially on Century. The band’s detractors have often focussed on her often one dimensionally bombastic delivery in the past, though she is much more nuanced and controlled on the new songs.

A quick encore of Lust In The Movies sent the audience home happy into the Kentish Town night, and though “Couples” may not be a great album, it certainly shows a rare willingness for a (reasonably) new band to change direction stylistically so quickly.

A Monday night venture into an extremely damp Soho led me to the welcoming bosom of Madame Jo Jo’s, side effects hosting a single launch by up-and-coming band The Outside Royalty. Sheltering from the elements, more about we were treated to two other acts in support, so a big “big up” to the wonderful Penny Black Remedy and their mix of psychobilly country skank and to the powerful voice and big piano sound of Ciara Haidar.

Outside%20Royalty%20single%20launch.JPG

A couple of years ago the Outside Royalty took an almighty leap of faith and moved from their native Pittsburgh to London, acquiring an English bassist and French cellist along the way. They’ve quickly built up a sizeable and dedicated following, garnered some favourable reviews and late last year supported Young Knives on tour. Tonight we were promised the last airing of some favourites from their current repertoire before they disappear on a mini UK tour, road testing some new material.

Musically, the Outside Royalty blend electro-acoustic guitar, violin, cello and synths to create a euphoric blend that is by turns reminiscent of Arcade Fire, Pulp and early Roxy Music (amongst others), and vocalist Adam Billings’ voice has a definite hint of the Ferries and Bowies about it. Before launching into their renowned version of Eleanor Rigby, they joked that they haven’t yet made it to Liverpool, so they don’t know what sort of reception their cover would receive round those parts. The debut single, Falling, is an insistent track with a memorable chorus that quickly embeds itself in the little grey cells and, after a bit of a false start of an encore, they finished with the driving Liquid.

Stepping back into the sodden Soho streets, I think it is time for people to welcome in the Outside Royalty. Watch this space.

From the music of delightfully eccentric GaBLé comes a darkly humourous video made by Yannick Lecoeur.


GaBLé / Drunk fox in London from Yannick Lecoeur on Vimeo.

7 Guitars With A Cloud of Milk is out on Loaf on the 19th of May.
Full of short ditties, viagra 60mg none lasting more than two and a half minutes; this album reminds me of listening to short stories being read on tape – but the musical version. 7 Guitars With A Cloud of Milk is a thoroughly engaging album; taking you on a journey through a number of different scenes – all coloured in with GaBLé’s swinging accents; at times distinctively French, and at others almost Cockney, innit. The songs move quickly; trotting away with you before you even know that you’re following, wreaking havoc just like their drunken fox in the video by Monsier Lecoeur of the so-named ten minute album closer.

Not the usual suavé Frenchies – but alluring and captivating all the same…Vive le GaBLé (and their drunk fox in London).
Changes have been afoot in the Tindersticks camp ahead of tonight’s show, cost the band’s first in London since their appearance in the Don’t Look Back series of retrospective gigs a couple of years ago. The original line-up is in somewhat reduced circumstances, salve now comprising a core of singer Stuart Staples, keyboard player Dave Boulter and guitarist Neil Fraser, whilst their first album as a three-piece, the Hungry Saw, provided the bedrock for this performance in the reverential hush of the Royal Festival Hall.
The new album sounds fresher than their last couple of outings, though there are no radical departures, musically or lyrically. There are still the sweeping strings, as well as the more soulful inflections that have characterised their sound since the late ‘90s, whilst the interjection of jarring, off-tempo guitar during Mother Dear is a nod to their murkier, edgier (untitled) debut album. As always, there are the dolorous tones of Stuart Staples, whose delivery has in the past been unfavourably compared in some quarters to Vic Reeves’ pub singer!
As a long term fan of Nottingham’s finest, and having seen them a couple of times before, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the new look band. We began with a solo Dave Boulter playing the simple piano motif of the album’s opening track, the rather sensibly titled Introduction, a piece very reminiscent of a score from a French indie film (in which Tindersticks have form, having twice collaborated in the past with French director Claire Denis). Gradually he was joined onstage by the various additional musicians (including a full string section and a horn section led by the redoubtable Terry Edwards) and the rest of the band.
The Hungry Saw was played in its’ entirety, and though not exactly a Year Zero style statement of intent, it did make sense to focus on the restructured Tindersticks’ present and future, rather than dwell on the past. There was a brief intermission of older songs, including the aching Travelling Light from the masterful second (again, untitled) album and the gorgeously laidback cover of Odyssey’s If You’re Looking for A Way Out from 1999′s Simple Pleasures, by which time the audience were feeling brave enough to cheer on their heroes rather than offer polite applause between numbers (though between-song banter with the crowd was never the band’s forte).
Tindersticks lit up two encores with the blackly humorous My Sister (always a favourite with this reviewer) and the playful She’s Gone, but on the strength of their new material, I’d say the future for the new band looks bright.

Similar Posts:

Leave a Reply