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Live Review: Arcade Fire with Owen Pallett, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons at London Hyde Park – 30th June 2011

 
By on Monday, 11th July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: We imagine that Arcade Fire’s show at Manchester’s MEN Arena won’t have the same curfew issues as this Hyde Park show. So why not enter our contest for a pair of tickets to the show, if you haven’t all ready? Full contest details here.

Montreal outfit Arcade Fire’s trips to England are often something of conversation and big steps. Last year came the controversial decision to have the group as headliners for Leeds and Reading festivals, which was quickly followed by a huge European and world tour which hit some of the most prominent arenas in the world. Follow this with Grammy and Brits success, and last year was a big year for The Subu..I mean Arcade Fire (sorry Barbra Streisand) all in all, and now with the deluxe version of their third record, ‘The Suburbs’, in stores and the Spike Jones short film released, the troupe have assembled at a bigger stage once more at Hyde Park, London.

Not that you can hear them though. Due to the restrictions at Hyde Park, Win Butler and Co. aren’t running at 11, more 7 and you can tell that it’s irritating them. “The neighbourhood wants you to be quieter”, shouts Win during ‘Power Out’. It’s greated by a muffled cheer. Sadly, this hasn’t been an issue earlier in the evening as volume levels have been relatively high all afternoon. First up was Owen Pallett. Specially chosen by tonight’s headliners and later joining them on stage as an extra to their live setup, Pallet played a selection of his finest tracks and began to warm up a crowd who, mostly, hadn’t heard of him.

The Vaccines are riding on the back of their debut album at the moment, which has seen them become one of the hype bands of the year. Their catchy tunes storm over Hyde Park and they go down a treat for many. Their Strokes-esque style gives the crowd a lot to jump about, even if sometimes, it’s hard to explain where one track ends and another begins.  Beirut then bring a renaissance to the park, giving everyone a much needed refreshing sound. It’s different to anything else you’ll hear in such a huge venue, and the crowd warm to it well, even without knowing many of the tracks.

After a long changeover comes 70 minutes of Mumford and Sons. For many here, the group are the main attraction, and in glimpses, you can see why. ‘Little Lion Man’ brings a huge singalong and jig from the thousands assembled in a now boiling Hyde Park. Playing a selection of songs from their second album, which should be released by the end of the year, the indie-folk men are in high spirits. I can’t help but feel like Mumford and Sons miss something though and at times, they bore me immensely. Their style becomes monotonous and when you know about the band as people, you start to question where their lyrical choices stop being heartfelt and start being cliches It is however a riotous end with ‘The Cave’ bringing their set to a close.

Twenty minutes later, Arcade Fire step out into their biggest UK show to date and they’ve decided to change it around a bit. Gone is the air of predictability that has been building around them and instead the usual set closer ‘Wake Up’ is played second so “we can see people’s reaction,” says Win Butler. It’s a night that really shows that Arcade Fire have begun their transition from the band that made ‘The Suburbs’ to a seriously big group about to progress to their fourth album. Every part of their careers has been a steady progression from a band of relative unknowns to a group on the verge of Stadium Rock and when a track like ‘Month Of May’ comes along, there’s pandemonium in both crowd and stage. Everyone seems to be on board watching a band in the form of their lives realise who they can be.

Giving their UK debut to deluxe ‘Suburbs’ track ‘Speaking in Tongues’ and prompting an echo with every singalong part to their music, the dedication in the area is huge. For a band with so many mid-power songs, you can hardly compare them to the Eno sound that Glastonbury headliners Coldplay and U2 demonstrated the week before, but you can certainly see them at the top of the Pyramid stage billing in 2 years time. Especially with huge tracks such as set opener ‘Ready To Start’ and ‘Keep the Car Running’ that features in their encore. Over the period of 90 minutes, Arcade Fire do have a few lapses. They’ve still not quite got the full singles collection to fill such a huge occasion, however when you’ve written album tracks as good as ‘Rococo’, who really minds?

Tonight then, whilst not being a huge triumph, has seen the Canadian group cement their position in the record collections of all present and given a tip of the hat to those who questioned their capacity to do huge shows. Closing with ‘Sprawl II’, Regine Chassange’s crowning moment in ‘The Suburbs’ leaves everyone feeling just as warm as they were when the sun was beating down just a few hours ago. If they can turn up the volume again, they could just conquer.

More photos from this concert after the cut.
Continue reading Live Review: Arcade Fire with Owen Pallett, the Vaccines and Mumford and Sons at London Hyde Park – 30th June 2011

 

Glastonbury 2011: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 7th July 2011 at 1:00 pm
 

At last the sun was shining, and all I could think about is how badly I was going to burn in this unbearable heat, the summer sheer had to come out at some point though and who better to provoke such cheers then American hero Don McLean. He comes on and the first thing he says is, “I’ve got a couple of songs you may like to hear, and one really long one that you definitely will”. At least he’s honest! The set is long enough for him to get the crowd on their feet this early in the day, but it’s the anthemic ‘American Pie’ and its numerous verses which really get the crowd animated. The crowd hang on his every word throughout and the atmosphere is buoyant and one indicative of what a great day of music this will be.

Who better to follow up an elderly Yank with a guitar and a backing band then a young English woman with a guitar and a backing band? Laura Marling ambles on stage nervously but automatically already has the crowd in the palm of her hands with her unique brand of folk, rock n’roll. Opener ‘Devils Spoke’ ensures that the set starts strongly, with the pounding drum beat and haunting vocals projecting beautifully across the fields of Avalon. Noticeably though, even though Marling can’t admit it she grows in confidence as the gig goes on culminating in a foot stamping finale to get even the harshest folk purist square dancing.

Occupying the mid-afternoon “Living Legend” spot this weekend is one half of American duo Simon and Garfunkel, Paul Simon. Simon admits straight off that he has a throat infection and sadly for the veteran singer songwriter it shows, as if the “2nd best to Dylan” comments weren’t enough, his big moment on the Pyramid Stage was ruined by illness, a shame if ever I’ve seen one. The hits aren’t out in abundance with Simon opting for more from his new record; however, an encore of ‘You Can Call Me Al’ you would think would be enough to save him. However even this cannot rescue the poor guy’s set and sadly the set ends not with a bang, but a whimper.

Out with the old then, and in with the new, rapper turned soul star Ben Drew (AKA Plan B) is up next and is introduced by a beat boxer. While a lot of these acts are often gimmicks to disguise weak sets etc. this one is anything but, it leaves me thinking if this is what he can do, what is ‘Plan B’s’ actual set going to be like. Nothing short of a master class, ‘Drew’ has the audience in his hands from the first note of ‘Prayin’ to the last screech of ‘Stay Too Long’. Big things lie ahead for the London born star and if he carries on at this pace there is no telling how big he could be.

For many my next decision would have been looked upon as mad, leaving the Pyramid Stage before Pendulum and Beyonce, you must be mad? Well sadly, the drum ‘n’ bass assault of the Aussies from Pendulum just wasn’t for me today and well while Beyonce is cool, who can resist the sleazy desert rock of Queens of the Stone Age?

So I headed to the John Peel Stage to catch Manchester born and bred Hurts. If you only can say one thing about these guys, it’s that they don’t do half measures. Arriving on stage with the band of two are, in order of height, a 7-foot tall opera singer, a drummer, guitarist, backing pianist, all female string section and two dancers with flags. All in black. Naturally. They burst into single ‘Wonderful Life’ and immediately the sheer power if their live show is apparent, Theo Hutchcraft stands statuesque for much of the performance but there are moments when the rock star within escapes, as he rampages around the stage thrashing the microphone stand from side to side. ‘Illuminated’ is as powerful as any U2 ballad and closer ‘Stay’ is a fitting end to one of the best sets of the weekend.

Next it’s off to the Other Stage to catch Leeds rockers Kaiser Chiefs, who are starting to look (not sound) more like a played down Who every passing day. They are here promoting their new record ‘The Future is Medieval’ and you can tell this without even looking at the backdrop, the hits are there but the frequent new tracks don’t give the set any fluency, so not even number 1 hit ‘I Predict a Riot’ and crowd live favourite ‘Oh My God’ can save there ailing set. New track ‘Little Shocks’ though is s a surprise, managing to sound slick and sexy. Yes: the Kaiser Chiefs, slick and sexy, whod’a thunk it eh?

Finally to close the weekend on the Pyramid Stage American r&b / pop behemoth Beyonce comes onstage to volley after volley of fireworks. On the Other Stage though for the rock purists the entry is incognito and Queens of the Stone Age (pictured at top), announce their arrival with ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’s’ trademark lyrics “nicotine, valium, Vicodin, marijuana, Ecstasy and alcohol!” Playing a set chosen by the Radio1 public means it’s all the way and every song turns into a crowdpleaser with some sherry mind-boggling riffing from giant frontman Josh Homme. The crowd hang on Homme’s every word and when it comes to hit ‘No One Knows’, he announces he wants Beyonce to feel this one in her bones. No doubt after a performance that good, she would have, and hey Zane Lowe chose these guys over her (read more here): they must have done something right.

 

Live Review: Grouplove with Dylan LeBlanc at Camden Barfly – 29th June 2011

 
By on Wednesday, 6th July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

It’s all gone a bit mad at Barfly. There’s people dancing like there’s no tomorrow in the venue and the band have been finished for about 10 minutes. Grouplove, then, have inspired an atmosphere that just refuses to die. How? Well, with their debut EP being full of happy-go-lucky folk-pop with a bit of indie rock thrown in for good measure, it’s plain to see that Grouplove have formed a winning combination to make people smile.

Having been warmed up by what started out as a country set from Dylan LeBlanc and eventually turned into a rock show with guitar solos and steel guitar madness, LeBlanc’s humble charm eventually won over a room full of new and old fans. Beginning with a set of tracks that brought southern America to Camden for a while, LeBlanc took his time to get going but his powerful set of vocal chords made up for what was a weak start. Just as you feared things might get boring though, Pink Floyd at their most  powerful appeared to channel themselves through the band and all were left cheering after his set came to an end.

After gaining fans in the UK sharing the bill with Los Campesinos! in November and playing fantastic sets at the Great Escape and Glastonbury (where they opened the festival on the Park Stage), Grouplove have been building up hype for about a year now. ‘Colours’ found its way onto the internet last year and along with their friends’ track ‘Pumped up Kicks’ by Foster the People, made its way onto a fair few playlists over the year. Their debut EP featured 22 minutes of summer brilliance and their new album, ‘Never Trust a Happy Song’, was announced to be released in September. It’s safe to say, tonight’s crowd (and last night’s, they sold out two dates) are eager to hear what Grouplove have in store. New tracks such as ‘Itchin on a Photograph’ don’t stand out as new due to crowd participation, but at the same time don’t really raise the roof nearly as much as the likes of ‘Gold Coast’ and the heartwarming sound of ‘Naked Kids’ (err…did I just write those words?) whilst ‘Dim the Lights brings a kind of pandemonium’ from both bassist turned speed vocalist Sean Gadd and crowd.

I’ve found that the best gigs make where and who you are irrelevant and as I look around, the front 6 rows are full of people who have forgotten themselves and are simply enjoying the music in front of them. They’re completely on the mark too as Grouplove appear to have taken a room in Camden to the beaches of Los Angeles and brought the party with them. In a big way tonight, the smiling band have brought their hybrid sounds to London and conquered. Finishing the night with an encore of ‘Colours’ requires a lot of dancing and singing from everyone in the room, and with that last burst of energy, Grouplove are done for the night. Breaking England? Job done.

Photos behind the cut.
Continue reading Live Review: Grouplove with Dylan LeBlanc at Camden Barfly – 29th June 2011

 

Glastonbury 2011: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 4th July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Saturday’s opener were the Gaslight Anthem who, while only having played Pilton Farm once before, made one hell of an impression when they did. None other than The Boss himself joined the New Jersey boys on stage to power through their anthem ‘The 59 Sound’ before he hit the Pyramid Stage to headline 2 years ago. The Gaslight Anthem this time around were gracing the Pyramid Stage and at first they looked like they were a little overawed by it all. Who can blame them when you have upwards of 10,000 people staring at you? However, the band got into their stride and delivered a formidable set dripping with hooks and old fashioned riffs. No Boss this time though, however there are signs of a band on the up.

Next on my hit list was the big story of 2010, Mr. Tinie Tempah, armed with arguably the biggest single of last year (the infectious club anthem ‘Pass Out’) and a set list of songs that most of the UK will be familiar with. Tinie is the next in line of hip hop stars gracing the Pyramid Stage after Jay-Z’s monumental set in 2008 and Dizzee Rascal’s triumphs in previous years, hip hop looks set for a bright future at Glastonbury. First sing-along ‘Wonderman’ is a tad weak though and ‘Invincible’ is not much better in all honesty. However Tinie is saved by the slick, sexy Labrinth-infused rhymes of hit ‘Frisky’ and ‘Pass Out.’

Rushing over to the Other Stage I was able to catch veteran punks Jimmy Eat World as they blasted through a back catalogue of hits. ‘Bleed American’ sounded utterly epic in the setting and set the tone for a gig which this stage was made for: fist-pumping was rife and the choruses were as infectious as they ever have been. However, it is hit single ‘The Middle’ which provokes the mass sing-along and shows Jimmy Eat World at their anthemic best. A clinically underrated band that pull out all the stops live, any day, any way.

It was to my misfortune though that Paolo Nutini was on when I arrived back at the Pyramid Stage. It isn’t enough that he is noticeably stoned and drunk on stage and staggers about with all the swagger you would expect of a taller Cher Lloyd. Hits such as ‘Pencil Full Of Lead’ and ‘New Shoes’ grated on the ear as expected and his set went on for much too long. Little else I can say about this man’s set. Yes, the brass band backing is cool, I enjoyed that. Nutini himself though did exactly what expected, irritated and enraged me to the point that only a mass sing-along of truly epic proportions would take me from the edge.

Thank the lord then that Elbow were on next. Guy Garvey and co. came out to rapturous applause and flew into opener ‘The Birds’. However, it wasn’t until ‘The Bones of You’ was played that the crowd really came to their side. Garvey though was the king of the show, getting the crowd on his side at any opportunity possible, whether it was by downing a pint in true Manchester styling or whether it was with a terrific backwards Mexican wave, which from looking out from the Pyramid stage must have looked truly majestic for the Mancunian 5-piece. ‘Grounds For Divorce’ was played out with the kind of power you just don’t get from any other frontman and band, while ‘Open Arms’ was buoyed by two giant blow-up men each side of the stage. There were no guesses though as to which song they played out with; ‘One Day like This’ truly was the perfect song to go out on.

Coldplay’s headline set had to be something special then to follow the sheer brilliance of Elbow, but when you see Coldplay (pictured at top), you never expect anything less than brilliance. If U2 turned up with their A game the night before, Coldplay were A+++. Sure they opened with a new song, but what is wrong with taking a chance when you headline Glastonbury. Kings of Leon did it and Jay-Z opened with ‘Wonderwall’, so it seems truly monumental Glastonbury shows open like this. Chris Martin was from the start of the show until the end at his buoyant, if not a little self-deprecating best, whether he was hammering out ‘Clocks’ from behind the piano, or acting like the true frontman he is with a guitar at the front of the Pyramid Stage. ‘Viva La Vida’ was truly majestic but it was the encore of ‘Fix You’ where everyone on the crowd could truly realise that Coldplay are as brilliant as ever and look set to be for a long, long time.

 

Live Gig Video: Sharks Took the Rest at BBC Introducing Stage, Glastonbury 2011

 
By on Friday, 1st July 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Unsigned Newcastle-based septet Sharks Took the Rest was one of contributor John’s standouts at Glasto this year, so we definitely wanted to feature them here on TGTF. Watch them below play the gorgeous song ‘We Climbed as High as We Could’ and the upbeat, almost tropical ‘Restaurant’.

 

Live Gig Video: Elbow at Pyramid Stage, Glastonbury 2011

 
By on Thursday, 30th June 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Elbow really can’t do anything wrong in my book. And this trend continues with the band’s performance at Pyramid Stage Saturday night, just before Coldplay. This is undoubtedly the Mancunian band’s biggest performance since playing their arena tour in March that hit the MEN Arena and the O2 Arena, among other massive venues. Watch them perform ‘Open Arms’ from their new album ‘build a rocket boys!’ (John’s review of the album here) below.

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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