Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is re-issued and out now on
Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is re-issued and out now on
Richard Thompson/Joseinne Clark & Ben Walker
Edinburgh Usher Hall, October 17, 2017
I’ve seen a number of gigs at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall before. However, tonight there is a mobile phone ban in place, which whilst fair enough from stopping people posting ropey video online or – God forbid, having phone conversations, makes trying to remember details for a review rather hard if you phone is the medium for making notes.
That irritant aside, Richard Thompson’s latest visit to the Scottish capital showed just why his reputation continues to grow fifty years into his career. The support act of Joseinne Clarke and Ben Walker are aptly chosen to warm up the crowd. Clarke’s self-deprecating brand of humour is lovely – and should she ever decide to give up singing, comedy would be an excellent alternative. Their set is bookended with Thompson connections – starting with a cover of Fairport Convention’s ‘Reynardine’ and finishing with their take on Nick Drake’s ‘Time Has Told Me’; on which Thompson played (along with no less than three Fairport Convention albums that year). They have recently released a new EP The Birds on Rough Trade – and the title track also gets an airing. It’s a fantastic place to start with their music.
With Richard Thompson, I must confess to finding it harder and harder to write reviews. Not because he isn’t good, he’s bloody fantastic. It’s more about trying to avoid cliché and repetition, and to avoid simply fawning. This year has seen him release two new acoustic albums (Acoustic Classics Volume II and Rarities), as well as playing with Fairport at their annual Cropredy Festival. He sets the bar extremely high by opening with ‘Gethsemane’ and ‘The Ghost Of You Walks.’
Trying to examine exactly why it is that he is such a compelling performer, whether solo or not, it’s a mixture of certain things. Guitar playing that is intense – but is inclusive and draws you in, rather than feeling that it is a virtuoso trying to keep you at bay. Equally it’s matched with that baritone – oh, and a wonderful sense of humour.
As is the case, the set is a mixture of well-known songs from across his career, and well as a few unknown gems. So we get an acknowledgement of his half-century with his respectful interpretation of Fairport’s ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’ paying tribute to Sandy Denny, the song’s writer. From the Rarities album we get ‘They Tore The Hippodrome Down’ which deserves to be elevated from rarity to the Thompson Classic songbook.
He acknowledges that he’s not always had a lot of chart success – but when he plays the should have been a chart hit ‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’ you can’t help thinking that it’s the public’s loss, not his fault. He’s understandably still smirking about an event a few years later when his then latest album debuted above that of his seventies contemporaries Yes’ latest album. When the set includes classics like ‘I Feel So Good,’ ‘Beeswing’ and ‘From Galway To Graceland’ who could fail to be wowed? That’s before you consider the masterclass in songwriting that is ‘Vincent Black Lightning 1952,’ his contribution to making sure that Britain had songs about the road to rival America.
There’s so much musicality seeping form his every pore that it seems not to matter whether he plays with a band or not. He manages to play the guitar in such a way that it seems that a rhythm section is present within it. There may be countless imitators – but there’s no-one who can touch him.
Last Sunday I went along to Glasgow’s O2 ABC to finally see The Breeders – and they did not disappoint. Also great to hear was the support band, PINS.
You can check out my review over on God Is In The TV, and why not get a musical sample before you do?
Pale Honey – ‘Devotion.’ (Bolero Recordings)
Looking back at previous pieces I have done on Pale Honey it is clear that somehow I always end up referring to what their previous steps have been. Their early releases were rightly critically acclaimed, and it’s great to watch an act grow.
No musical act grows in a vacuum – and it’s so cliched to compare them to other duos, so I won’t here -but with the release of a handful of tracks over the last twelve months, it’s clear that they have *cough* broadened their musical palate.
Sometimes a band’s determination to grow beyond their first album can end up giving listeners that seems to have no connection with what preceded it. Pale Honey have managed to draw links with their self-titled debut, but managed not to repeat the tricks of it (aside from writing great songs, that is). The atmosphere of ‘The Heaviest Of Storms’ is a particular highlight. It shows off their Nordic-noir take on Scandi-pop at its best.
Do they sound like a different band? No -‘ Real Thing’ provides the strongest link with their debut -but Devotion is a huge leap forward, and gets even better on repeated listens.
Glasgow 02 Academy, October 6 2017
How good was Tori Amos live? Even three days later, I’ve still got a glorious glow just thinking about the gig…
The gig was the final night of the European tour supporting her new album Native Invader. A quarter of a century since she appeared with her debut Little Earthquakes, she still seems like very few before or after her. Sure, comparisons may be made with (insert name here) or (insert name here) if you must. But as she walked out onto a stage – just her, her faithful Bosendorfer concert grand piano and a couple of keyboards – she gets a standing ovation just walking on stage. It probably is easier if you’re playing to an adoring crowd, rather than struggling to be heard amongst people who aren’t there to see you, but what is clear is that she has won fans over, and they aren’t about to let her go.
She’s clearly had a great tour – and the warmth of Glasgow audiences is rightly legendary. With a pretty damn impressive back catalogue, she’s never going to be able to play every one of the favourites and promote the new album. But the gig felt like a great crowd supporting a great artist.
I first heard her in 1991, a few months before the album came out when ‘Silent All These Years’ came out (it would later make the top 40; she’s had a number of bona fide hits here in Britain over the years). It sounded like nothing else at the time. So to finally hear it live is a dream come true and the sense that it’s just as magical and bewitching as it always was.
Many of the crowd are delirious to hear ‘Baker Baker’ – but me, I’m delighted to hear favourites like ‘Sparkle’ -‘she’s addicted to nicotine patches’ indeed, and I realise that ‘Winter’ may indeed be my favourite song of hers after all (for a long time I might have plumped for ‘Sister Janet’, b-side to ‘Cornflake Girl,’ her forst top ten hit). Her cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ is as heartbreaking as the original, and she also weaves in the Eurythmics’ ‘Here Comes The Rain Again’ into the set.
Perhaps most revelatory is hearing ‘Blood Roses’ live. On record I’d found the track from Boys For Pele unsettling and alienating. Yet hearing it live, it all makes sense. I’d been privilged to be able to review the gig for free – but within a very short time, I felt that I would have been delighted if I had paid for both mine and my fiancees tickets.
4AD continue to be one of the most consistently brilliant independent labels, nearly forty years after they were founded. A mere couple of days after new music from The Breeders (see below), Meg Remy (AKA U.S. Girls) has released her new subversively pop tune ‘Mad As Hell’ – and it’s absolutely fabulous.
The press release – accurately – describes it as a ‘candy-coated Trojan horse for her powerful call to action for pacifism and impassioned critique of military spending.’ Protest music takes many forms – not least with the video. Directed by Remy with Emily Pelstring, it brings together historic, patriotic and military imagery. Remy performs throughout the video duplicated in synchronized dance moves flipping off her subjects recalling backup dancers of ‘60s pop girl groups. Indeed the song sounds like an alt-pop take on an 80s take on 60s girl bands.
Struggling to make sense of that? Watch the video below. The track is taken from the follow-up to 2015’s Half Free, about which more details are set to follow…
It’s a double cause for celebration as The Breeders return, not only with new music – but with the line-up that recorded 1993’s seminal Last Splash. Twin front-women Kim and Kelley Deal (vocals, guitar) are joined by Josephine Wiggs (bass) and Jim MacPherson (drums).
The first track to be released is ‘Wait In The Car’ which from the very first listen is prime Breeders. It’s available to download now (yup, I already have) and stream, and it’s part of three singles due to be released on 7″ vinyl: Single One will be available at the band’s upcoming tour dates, starting October 15 (pressed on orange vinyl, featuring a cover of Amon Düül II’s 1970 track ‘Archangel’s Thunderbird’, recorded with Steve Albini in Chicago). Single Two will be available exclusively at select independent record stores from October 27 (pressed on red vinyl, featuring Kim’s dreamy reimagining of Mike Nesmith’s ‘Joanne’). Details of Single Three (featuring a cover of Devo’s ‘Gates of Steel’ and pressed on yellow vinyl) are to announced later in the year. Each version is limited to 1,500 copies worldwide.
The video for ‘Wait In The Car’ can be seen below. ‘Wait in the Car’ was directed by Chris Bigg (formerly of the v23 team who worked on the band’s previous 4AD releases) and Martin Andersen, with the video piecing together 800 still images.
“It all started with a brick,” the pair say. “We both liked the idea of using something iconic yet quite banal. An old brick has a story and it’s a beautiful raw object. We started collecting more and more (some intact, some broken) and realised how different they all appear, each one having its own identity.”
The band are on tour this month and next:
10 – NEWPORT, KY, The Southgate House Revival
15 – GLASGOW, ABC
16 – DUBLIN, Vicar Street
17 – MANCHESTER, Academy 2 **SOLD OUT**
18 – LONDON, Electric Ballroom **SOLD OUT**
22 – AMSTERDAM, Melkweg Max
23 – ANTWERP, Trix
24 – BERLIN, Heimathafen
25 – COPENHAGEN, Vega
27 – PARIS, Le Gaite Lyrique **SOLD OUT**
29 – ST. PAUL, MN, XCEL Energy Centre (w/ Arcade Fire)
30 – CHICAGO, IL, United Center (w/ Arcade Fire)
1 – DETROIT, MI, Magic Stick
3 – BOSTON, MA, The Sinclair **SOLD OUT**
4 – WASHINGTON, DC, Lincoln Theatre
5 – NEW YORK, NY, Bowery Ballroom **SOLD OUT**
6 – PHILADELPHIA, PA, Union Transfer
8 – PORTLAND, OR, Wonder Ballroom **SOLD OUT**
9 – SEATTLE, WA, Showbox at Market **SOLD OUT**
11 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA, The Rickshaw Stop **SOLD OUT**
12 – SAN FRANCISCO, CA, The Rickshaw Stop **SOLD OUT**
13 – LOS ANGELES, CA, El Rey Theatre **SOLD OUT**
It’s still great, even in my forties, to have a submission drop into my inbox (in amongst the excessive amouint of stuff in there and the people who keep sending follow-up emails, despite the fact I ask people so nicely not to do so) and think ‘Yes! This is my new favourite band.’
Austrian band DIVES are a surf-pop trio consisting of Dora de Goederen (drums), Viktoria Kirner (bass), and Tamara Leichtfried (vocals, guitar) and they come from Vienna.
The trio draw from the 60s – girl-bands like the Shangri-La’s, as well as both the post-punk c-81 sound and the c-86 indie-pop attitude. Amongst their influences are 17 Seconds’ faves The Shop Assistants. They will release their debut EP on November 3. The first track to be made available is ‘Shrimp’ and you can see the video below.
The EP will be available digitally and on vinyl and CD on Siluh Records. It’s only available for p[rivate stream at the moment, but you will have to take my word for it that it’s very good indeed.
The tracklisting is as follows:
There’s only dates in Austria and Germany announced at the moment, but they are as follows:
October 20 – Linz, Willyfried
November 18 – Vienna, Fluc (EP launch)
November 29 – Munich, Milla
December 1 – Leipzig, Tiff
December 2 – Berlin, Schokoladen