Thursday, September 29, 2005

Editors LIVE

An absolute hellacious 90 minute journey to Manchester didn't bode well for the evening in prospect, although the sight of the Gee already on his way to drunkeness as I arrived certainly was hilarious. The long-haired foreign-looking idiot who was clearly off his head was a minor annoyance, although more of my energy was being put towards eyeing up the bintage on display in the pub. Quality teasely.

Anyway, we wandered into the venue in time to catch a bit of the support act We Are Scientists. They were quite good in a "I'll never actually buy one of their records" kind of way.

The Editors on the other hand were good in a "I might actually trade in my Cd-R copy of the album for a proper copy" kind of way. Of course, being so early in their career, the concert was more or less their debut album live, but even the weaker album tracks were injected with a steely intensity that made them rise above the versions we already know.

Quite simply, this was a top notch crew night, and for once the hype is justified. The Editors are going places.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Super Furry Animals LIVE

A day of insanely heavy drinking, for sure. I was half cut before I even met the Gee, and we carried on from there. About 15 minutes before bell time, the venue seemed empty and we feared the worst, and we took the opportunity to push our way quite a way up to the front of the crowd...which turned out to be a bit of mistake once the crowds belatedly filled up.

An hilarious video package set the scene, (and who can fail to sing along with the A-Team theme whenever they hear it?) and the band made their big entrance on something akin to a golf cart. So far, so good. But then it went a little pear-shaped. I'm not a huge SFA fan so it was obvious I wasn't going to know all the songs, but the ones they did play at first were totally unfamiliar to me. Coupled with a being in close proximity to a load of idiots, being hot and sweaty and getting high of the smell of, shall we say, controlled substances and the evening was taking a bit of a bad turn.

However a diplomatic retreat for water supplies and a more spacious view towards the back did the trick as SFA pumped out some of their biggest hits. And not even the technological problems during the encore could spoil the mood from there. A frustrating night in some respects, but in the end, it was all gravy.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Fun Lovin' Criminals LIVE

So it was time again to see THE coolest man on the planet and his band.

What can I say about FLC other than they are a bloody good live act who never fail to entertain. As you would expect, there was a heavy emphasis on tracks from the latest album, some of which were great, some of which were less so. But really, its the hits, such as Scooby Snacks, The Fun Lovin' Criminal, Loco, Love Unlimited etc. that you go for, and you can't help but bounce along with the vibe.

I could have done without the Al Green cover "Let's Stay Together", which really was a bit crap, but other than that it is impossible to have many complaints about another great evening of entertainment.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Laura Veirs - Year Of Meteors

A Seattle based folk musician, whose first four albums managed to completely pass me by, doing a loosely based concept album about travelling on the road doesnt't sound like much of a thing, but fear not. Laura Veirs is the girl who "put an enema into folk music" in the words of one critic.

For the first thing, whilst it is clearly allegorical in terms of the "travelling tales" idea, you wouldn't know it without deeper inspection of the lyrics. The setting is an eerie world, with unsuspected imagery drawing the listener in. Veirs sees the universe through a prism of eels, spiders, homing pigeons and snakes and yet I, for one, never sat back thinking "what the hell is she on about?"

Of course, all this may still be failling to convince anyone to whom "folk music" is a dirty phrase. Well be assured that "Galaxies" adds a layer of fuzzy guitars (that's the technical term you know) and synthesisers whilst "Black Gold Blues" turns out more like something the likes of Liz Phair or Sheryl Crow would come up with than a "folk musician".

But no matter what arrangements play behind her, its the voice that constantly grabs your attention. Constantly knowing, articulate and hauntingly beautiful throughout, always drawing the listener in deeper and deeper with each play.

Icon's View - 4 1/2 out of 5

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dandy Warhols - Odditorium or The Warlords of Mars

I read it somewhere that every great band does a bad album at some point in their careers. This may well be the Dandy Warhols effort on that score.

You can always rely on the Dandy's for a good single or two, and lead single "Smoke It" doesn't disappoint. "All The Money or the Simple Life Honey" and "Down With Disco" are two other songs which would comfortably sit up there in a best of... collection. But after this, it is rapidly downhill.

"Love Is The New Feel Awful" is a great opening track, for two and a half minutes. The problem is that the track goes on for nearly 10 minutes, disintergrating into a pseudo jam session. Close in spirit to the ethos of the Dandy's live shows it may be, but on record, with skipping facility I doubt even hardened fans will listen to it all for a second time. It's pure musical heaven though compared to the closing track "A Loan Tonight", which meanders on for nearly 12 minutes to no discernable effect.

When this album is good, its bloody brilliant, but sadly it isn't good often enough. They've reverted back to the languid, sprawling sound of their debut album (Dandy's Rule Ok) yet without the hazy charm that shone through on that effort. The Dandy's have always been clouded by their apparent emptiness, but usually there's enough smart, slick and slighltly smug genius to over-shadow on it. On this occasion, the balance has tipped the wrong way.

Icon's View - 2 1/2 out of 5.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fun Lovin Criminals - Livin In The City

First of all, let me get my bias out of the way. Huey Morgan is, in my opinion, THE coolest man on the planet. There is no shaking my belief in that fact, so don't even try. But still, I am more than prepared to admit that FLC haven't always hit the mark. Come Find Yourself remains their high point, 9 years after it's release, and whilst 2003's Welcome To Poppy's album was somewhat of a (patchy) return to form, 100% Coumbian was half genius, half retread and the less said about Loco the better.

The bad news is that Come Find Yourself STILL remains the greatest collection of FLC's career...the good news is that Livin In The City is definately their best since then. "Mi Corazon" is their best single since Big Night Out and "That Ain't Right" could comfortably sit on Come Find Yourself. There are also some surprises, such as the piano driven "Gave Up On God" and "How It Be", which brilliantly switches pace halfway through. Sadly there is some drivel, but nothing as bad as the low-points of Loco, which were very low indeed.

If you don't like FLC, then this album will do nothing to change your mind; it preaches to the converted 100%. But whilst sticking to what you are good at might not win too much critical acclaim, it has resulted in a very entertaining album which is a must for any one who has ever liked more than one FLC song.

Icon's View - 3 1/2 out of 5

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tennant/Lowe - Battleship Potemkin

What could possibly be better than my favourite band ever (no sarcasm there) doing a soundtrack to the greatest flim ever made EVER (slight saracsm there)? Well a fair bit actually.

First things first though, what other "pop" act would have been asked to undertake such a task? None that I can think of. Battleship Potemkin is one of the silent cinema's most celebrated films and given the boys fondess for playing with Russian imagery (the "from Lake Geneva to the Finland station " line in West End Girls charts Lenin's route back into Russia from exile in April 1917 - SEE, you learn some stuff in these reviews too) it seems as ideal a match as you are likely to get.

The end result is good rather than great, and needless to say it pretty much loses the point of the exercise to listen to the music as a stand-alone piece. There are only two "songs" on the collection as such, the best being No Time For Tears, but where these fall into the overall PSB cannon, i.e. about halfway down the list at best, tells you all you need to know.

This isn't a bad record, and it is an interesting exercise, but it falls someway short of being a great record. Still as something to tide over until the next proper PSB album (due in 2006) it just about does its job.

Icon's View - 3 out of 5.