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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Touriste & Blue Sky Band

Purple Turtle, London, 8 Nov 2006

Written by Amelia Gregory

Chan Marshall is a confusing character, viagra sale you hope for her to be brilliant live but there’s always the niggling feeling that it might just go pear-shaped. She’s always been a little fragile; undoubtedly it’s part of her charm. However as soon a she skips onto stage you realise that tonight’s performance is going to be different.

Chan seems to have overcome, approved or at least learnt to deal with her performance issues. She arrives with a curtsey and a gigantic grin on her face, symptoms and it seems immediately obvious that this isn’t going to be one of her infamous ‘two songs and I’m off’ performances. The crowd sense that she’s on good form and welcome her with a roar of applause, perhaps out of relief as well as appreciation.

Keeping the chit-chat to an absolute minimum, the audience are treated to a brilliant mix of covers including I Can’t Get No (Satisfaction) and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’ (giving us a taste of her upcoming release) as well as songs from her latest and much-celebrated album; The Greatest. A set of pure blues, however the replacement of the Memphis Rhythm Band with The Dirty Delta Blues seemed to leave the arrangement blues-light and admittedly I missed that extra layer of soulful vocals from her regular group of backup singers.

At times I longed for a break from the rather slow pace and the absence of any of her pre-Greatest material was a disappointment. However, there’s very little to criticise about the woman herself and the audience were quick to give encouraging yelps and cheers at every opportunity. At times she seemed overwhelmed and kind of surprised that we’d even turned up, ‘You guys are amazing, you’re going to make me cry’. Of course, her unmistakeable voice was as incredible as ever, she’s one of those rare performers who understands the power of restraint.

Chan isn’t out to prove her vocal abilities by show-off jazz grandstanding; there are no self-indulgent runs or vocal acrobatics. Perhaps a skill born out of self-preservation, Chan sings as if no one is watching. And it’s beautiful.
Well, and I have just spent the last three days intensively shooting the Sheffield band the Harrisons for their press shots – they are currently putting the finishing touches to their debut album in a remote studio called The Chapel in Lincolnshire with reknowned producer Hugh Jones, who has worked with such luminaries as Echo and the Bunnymen. The studio has seen many famous bands pass through it’s environs – the Arctic Monkeys being the most recent to record their block-busting album in what would once have been the alter of the chapel and is now a cosy wood panelled studio. It was really fun, if hard work – getting the boys out of bed early enough in the morning to get moving and actually get enough shots done before a) they had to return to carry on recording and b) the sun went in for good – jeez the days are short, especially in the north-east – was quite a lot of effort. They range in age evenly from 20 – 23 yrs old and it’s just not very rock ‘n’ roll to get up before lunchtime anyway.

I got to sit in on quite a lot of the polishing-up sessions for the final album tracks, and I have to say I love their tunes – they probably won’t thank me for this but the tracks that I’ve heard sound a little Bruce Springsteen-esque, and what with the success of the latest Killers offering this can be no bad thing. Lead singer Jobby has a wonderful voice, (if a rather ridiculous name) that belies his age with it’s rich resonance, and on one of the slower tracks they sound more like The Doors meets the Happy Mondays. I even offered to help out with some hand claps on one track but sadly wasn’t needed.

The Harrisons are happy to be called indie-pop, although they might want to rethink that sharpish, as the last thing they would want is to be lumped in with the likes of The Kooks and anyway their stuff is way better than such standard indie-pop fodder, even if possessed of great melody. Lead guitarist Ben has also penned a song alone and does a great job on the lead vocals. He’s also bloody gorgeous, a real sweetie and major heartthrob in the making – check out the pics. I got on best with the really lovely, cheeky shaggy-haired and teddybear-like bassist Birchy, and Jobby, who is also a great little artist – posting his latest masterpieces on the fridge every day to share with the crew.

We sat around a lot on squashy sofas (which I greatly miss at home), watched a lot of football (well, to be accurate they watched football whilst I carried on editing the mag), ate a communal roast on Sunday, and generally had quite a laff – it was nice to be holed up in a cute cottage in the middle of nowhere. Harrisons are definitely ones to watch for next year, and will hopefully manage to escape the inevitable Arctic Monkeys comparisons, as they couldn’t sound more different.
Running extremely late, order it’s lucky that I now have a boyfriend to keep me company on the phone in the stairwell. Two Gallants are currently at the centre of an interesting newspiece – they were involved in a brawl with an overly eager policeman in Texas, who proceeded to tazer a bunch of the audience at one of their gigs – all because the sound was not turned down in a licensed venue!

Like wizened old men trapped in the bodies of skinny indie boys, Two Gallants provoke the sort of intensity from their instruments that seems to come from another era. They are humbled, the drummer says, to be amongst so many friends. “It can be lonely travelling for so long away from friends and family.” He says this through a curtain of lank hair that shields his face and swings wildly as he clatters against his drums. They make a hell of a noise for only two people, and can swing from beautifully mild, with some gorgeous whistling, to absolute mayhem. By the time they sing of their collection of regrets I turn, open mouthed, to see the entire crowd is singing along.

Well, ask the Purple Turtle is nothing like I expected; after years of cycling past it I finally got to go to a gig there, troche and I was very pleasantly surprised. It looks like a studenty-goth cum fantasy games shop from the outside, and yet it is spacious with a cute little stage and a great little lighting rig. The website is really user-friendly too, so all in all a good egg.

First up are Touriste, which come across as a sort of Coldplay for chavs – the multi-instrumentalist Lonsdale-wearing singer swigging pints whilst swapping between keyboards and guitar.

“Fuck it – well out of tune” he says, as he bounces his Adidas-clad legs through another epic number. I thought they were reasonably good and would have given them a weak thumbs up for enthusiasm alone, had the singer not got in an unprovoked altercation with the guitarist from my mate’s band Blue Sky Band, (who were headlining the night) and was unceremoniously ejected by the bouncer. Obviously a nobber, then.

Having had a hellish journey down from Birmingham – which resulted in car breakdowns and borrowage of parents car to get there in time, -Blue Sky Band are somewhat flustered and un-sound checked. This is to result in large amounts of feedback, but that is often-times drowned out by the reverb from the bassist. The songs are a mixed bunch, sung with fervour by their angel-voiced, shaven-headed singer. Some are instant classics and some don’t quite drag you in by the balls as they should. They need to start working on new material and hitting the gig circuit with more ambition, and then they could well be on their way to bigger and better things than breaking down on the M1. Tourbus, boys, and a proper tour, that’s what you need!

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