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Live Gig Video: Brandon Flowers performs ‘I Can Change’ at London Brixton Academy

 
By on Monday, 27th July 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Back in May, Brandon Flowers played two back-to-back nights at London Brixton Academy. Lucky for us and anyone out there who weren’t able to be at either gig, he has recorded this live performance of ‘I Can Change’. The soulful, r&b-tinged song – sampling Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’ and guesting Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys, no less – floats through the rafters as punters file into the venue from the queue outside and continues on as Flowers take the stage. Watch the drama unfold below.

‘The Desired Effect’, Brandon Flowers’ second solo album following the release of ‘Flamingo’ in 2010, is out now.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKtijtMPhnQ[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: Slaves perform upcoming single ‘Sockets’ at London Scala

 
By on Monday, 13th July 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Irrepressible punks Slaves will be releasing “a high octane love song”, ‘Sockets’, on the 4th of September on Virgin EMI. To celebrate the release, they’re sharing this live video from one of their gigs in May 2015 at London Scala performing the track. If you know anything about the hard-rocking duo, you know that at least one of them (usually two) go shirtless at shows, they can be very funny and they’re loud and unapologetic about their music, all to the delight of their fans. (And I should know: I saw this all unfold at Brighton Coalition back in that month during The Great Escape 2015.) Watch the blistering performance below.

All of our past coverage on Slaves is here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJdBXD3Bm5w[/youtube]

 

Live Gig Video: HEALTH play new song ‘New Coke’ from upcoming album ‘Death Magic’ at Primavera Sound 2015 in Barcelona

 
By on Friday, 10th July 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

Just under a month now to go before the release of HEALTH‘s new album ‘Death Magic’, their first in 6 years, on the 7th of August, and we’re about to make your Friday afternoon a little less heinous. The LA experimental / noise band performed at this year’s Primavera Sound 2015 festival in Barcelona, Spain, and Pitchfork were there to film their performance of ‘New Coke’, off the new album. You can watch the performance below.

For comparison, you can watch the admittedly gross promo video for ‘New Coke’ in this previous Video of the Moment feature. All of TGTF’s past coverage on HEALTH is through here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt654DbT8yk[/youtube]

 

Liverpool Sound City 2015: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 12th June 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Header photo by Niall Lea

For more of John’s coverage of Liverpool Sound City 2015, read his day 1 and day 2 round-ups.

As people finally got used to the bizarre layout of the new look of this year’s Liverpool Sound City, the third day had crept up. Brains were frazzled from the night before by the orgy for the senses served up by The Flaming Lips. Revellers who had crept into the city centre to keep the party going after the Lips now had hangovers galore from day 2’s festivities, so the bars were still looking bereft of people on Sunday.

As for the bars, I’ve never seen a festival better prepared. The area was about as long as the similar installations at Reading and Leeds Festivals staffed by just as many luminous vest clad volunteers. Problem was, with just a fraction of the expected clientele walking through, the facilities looked hilariously empty for most of the day. Additionally, planning that saw pints pre-poured for quick service, meant that during the dearth of customers, pints were sitting poured in the baking midday sun. Definitely a decision to review, methinks. Nobody wants a warm pint of Strongbow on the third day of festival if they’re paying through the nose for it.

Aside from logistical issues and the numerous punters moaning and groaning about the health of their legs after an hour long trudge back to their hotel in the city centre, the festival site was a hub of activity on the final day, with the corporate sponsorship’s Red Bull-mobile blasting out crap drum ‘n’ bass remixes of classic tracks as you entered the festival It was a reminder that although until quite recently, the festival had a DIY feeling, everyone has to sell their souls in the end to the corporate monsters. Still, you could be at Creamfields, and count your lucky stars you’re not there.

Because at Creamfields, you certainly wouldn’t be treated to the psychedelic grooves of Moon King, who graced the abandoned warehouse of The Baltic Stage around mid-afternoon as the shroud of grey cloud disappeared from over the site. The Canadian duo of Daniel Benjamin and Maddy Wilde exuded energy and all male eyes were transfixed to the baseball cap-cladded shredder providing the trademark ‘buzz-saw’ guitars, as Benjamin did his best Justin Hayward-Young impression, with about 50% of the balls and swagger of the former. (7/10)

Houdini Dax came highly recommended to me, and with a packed out Cavern Stage to greet me as I arrived, it was obvious I wasn’t alone in hearing of the charms of the Welsh three-piece. From start to finish, the boys exuded an infectious energy to the relatively lethargic crowd, and with a few charming smiles and sing-alongs, they laced the kind of hooks you’ll be humming for days, going down as stern favourites for day 3. Their set closed with ‘Get Your Goo On’: in title it sounds utterly ridiculous, but the song brought a lively 30 minutes to a close with a bit of swagger, some Beach Boys-style call and repeat and at least a 100 new likes on Facebook post set! (9/10)

From melt in your mouth harmonies to a complete disaster was sadly what awaited me with Clarence Clarity. The highly-rated Londoners would probably go down great at a smoky acid-house/post-dub night in Brixton. But, after the splendid chords of Houdini Dax, the semi-glitter pop mash-ups they served in the warehouse ended up sounding like an utter sonic catastrophe. The reverb screamed around the enclosed space and within minutes those without earplugs were vacating the area for something less audibly offensive.

They’ve done their best to sound like a 21st century turn on Outkast, but in doing, so it’s just ended up as a bit of a mess,with Eastern influences mashed crudely into your run-of-the-mill British drum ‘n’ bass. Perhaps this sound would work in a different setting and at another time – but as a prelude to Gaz Coombes, Peace and Belle and Sebastian at about 6 o’clock with the sun still shining, they simply jarred and sounded like a mess. (4/10)

Calming things down on The Atlantic Stage were the gentle tones of Bill Ryder-Jones who cut a lonely figure in the middle of the vast stage. He has all the hallmarks of any 18 year-old music fans crush, with sweeping good looks and swishy hair, plus a moody expression cut upon his face permanently. Sadly, Bill was nothing special at Liverpool Sound City, pumping out a couple of mediocre covers, some staggeringly uninventive, along with three chord originals and all at a pace that sent me daydreaming into thoughts about what delectable burger van food I could chomp on and whether the Premiership season had finished yet. With time I’m sure he’ll find his sound, as his songwriting seemed to hold up, but for now he just felt very vanilla on a day which could have done with some rum and raisin. (5/10)

Now while I was trying to escape Clarence Clarity’s sonic bombardment, I bumped into a young German girl who asked me for tips on who would blow her mind (aside from the obvious), to which I replied the next act on the Cargo Stage, “Findlay is nothing short of phenomenal every time I see her”.

Of course, by doing this, I inevitably delivered the kiss of death to her set.

For an act that normally struts about the stage with an incredible swagger and presence, I was shocked when she delivered a terribly staccato performance, bereft of showmanship and craft. Instead, it just felt like another day at the office. The fierce Debbie Harry-lite figure of Findlay had been neutered and stayed locked behind a set of oversize sunglasses. Whether it was a poorly-thought-out change of tact, to go from ferocious female aggressor to a sultry parlour singer grated on me. Because for the main part, barring from a rousing rendition of ‘On and Off’, she delivered a pedestrian performance stripped of the trademark character I’d promised to my new friend from Central Europe. In fact, it was so disappointing out the corner of my eye I saw the very Fraulein make for the exit after three songs. (6/10) Probably to get a good space for the next band on The Atlantic Stage…

Kings of the indie singalong The Cribs looked every bit the seasoned pros they are compared to some of the green-behind-the-ears acts gracing every one of the stages over the weekend. They easily drew the biggest crowd of the day so far, being probably one of the most recognisable names on the bill, and it’s probably to no surprise as well. Quite easily the three-piece could have turned up, delivered the hits and been on their way with a big smile on their faces – cash in pocket – job done. But instead they threw every bit of themselves into it, to the delight of the Liverpudlian crowd. The three-piece choral harmonies were great and really lifted the entire set, whilst the new poppier material lifted what could have been a bog-standard Cribs set to something far more. (7/10)

In fact, it was the perfect preface to former Supergrass frontman Gaz Coombes, the penultimate act on The Atlantic Stage. As expected, there were no frills and bells like the night before. No gimmicky matching jackets like Everything Everything and The Vaccines, despite Coombes definitely putting a bid in for Best Dressed Man at the festival with his attire. Instead, one of Britpop’s finest men on stage, guitar in hand, was trying his hand at going solo to good results.

Now, while his second solo album ‘Matador’ may have only debuted at number 18 in the Official UK Albums chart, in circles like Liverpool Sound City he was always going to get far more respect and credence than at another festival. Effortlessly cool and with the gently soaring masterpiece that is ‘Detroit’ in Coombes’ arsenal, he commanded the slowly fading light surrounding The Atlantic Stage. Although there were rumblings of ‘is he going to play ‘Alright’?’, in the crowd after a few of his originals, everyone seemed to settle down to enjoy a true legend of his era going out on his own. (8/10)

From one legend, to another. Belle and Sebastian carry with them the baggage of being cult stars. In fact, it’s difficult to find somebody these days that enjoys alternative music who DOESN’T name an experience watching Stuart Murdoch and co. as one of the crowning moments in their musical history. I waited with trepidation, as I’ve never GOT Belle and Sebastian; they’ve just never managed to excite me in the way I want music to. It’s all just felt like wallpaper–jazzy elevator music to me.

The group of Glaswegians manage to captivate the crowd, myself included, with their phenomenally deep songwriting. ‘Nobody’s Empire’ is a personal highlight, as Murdoch’s intensity is poured into every single lyric, as if he was living the experience right there in front of the crowd. It wasn’t the spectacular of colour The Flaming Lips served up, or the singalong, lad-rock frenzy of The Vaccines. But in their own way, Belle and Sebastian delivered one of the most soulful, warm and encapsulating sets of the weekend. (8/10)

So what did I learn this weekend? Delving into the unknown on highly-tipped acts like The Serpent Power and Clarence Clarity can sometimes be a dangerous endeavour, which can lead to your willy being commented upon on social media alongside pictures of genitals being sent to you. But bands like Houdini Dax, The People and the Poet and Hollysiz can come from left-field sources and end up being the highlights of the festival. That’s the joy of events like Liverpool Sound City and The Great Escape: while you can walk in on some absolute duds, it’s unlikely you’ll have a weekend of it with the sheer glut of musical talent on show. Just work on the stage layout guys, or The People and the Poet won’t be back…

 

Live Gig Videos: Slaves play ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Hey’ at the VEVO UK stage at Great Escape 2015

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 4:00 pm
 

One of the biggest live gig and festival draws for a hard rock band, Slaves made three appearances at last month’s at the Great Escape 2015. Shows at Coalition down by the seafront Friday reviewed by me here and at the Corn Exchange early Saturday night were followed by the irrepressible duo closing out the proceedings Saturday night at the VEVO UK stage, hosted this year at Wagner Hall. In the videos below, you can feel like you were there to witness all the action, as VEVO UK have shared live footage of ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Hey’ with all of us. Watch and enjoy them below.

Slaves‘ debut album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ is out this week on Virgin EMI.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYjNatEyB3g[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDF0rHVqDTg[/youtube]

 

Liverpool Sound City 2015: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 5th June 2015 at 3:00 pm
 

Ten years ago, staring at MTV Rocks on the television with my Dad, the lyrics “she don’t use butter, she don’t use cheese, she don’t use jelly or any of these” set me on a path. A path which started with me purchasing the rest of The Flaming Lips‘ back catalogue in one bulk purchase, and ended at Liverpool Sound City on The Atlantic Stage, with a sensory overload courtesy of Wayne Coyne and co. A fantastic booking for the festival.

But before then, I of course had to get to the festival, which as I learnt on the Thursday, is no mean feat – seeing as it is a good 30 minute walk from the main Liverpool city centre. My solution? A rented bike, a tactic that when I whizzed past the thousands of revellers waiting for taxis (for an hour and a half in some cases) and stumbling drunkenly back to the City Centre made me incredibly smug, and the revellers entirely mugged off.

Once I’d locked up outside of the new festival site, which looks certain to be the festival’s home for the foreseeable future, I ventured to The Atlantic Stage for a set that would begin a week of social media awkwardness. Almost supergroup The Serpent Power were gracing the stage, made up of Ian Skelly (The Coral) and Paul Molloy (The Zutons) and a few other less well-knowns…

The result, an utterly forgettable set full of wallpaper music:- the kind of self-indulgent psychedelia with noodling solos galore that you’d expect from a super group, but perhaps not one with the song-writing credentials The Serpent Power brought with them. With droves of punters at The Atlantic Stage deciding to make haste somewhere else, it was obvious their brand of new indie was really striking accord with the flower crown in their hair bunch and not much else.

So when I tweeted the following:


I didn’t really expect to wake up the next day with The Serpent Power feeling I had struck a nerve:

Now while they may have got it spot on about my run-of-the-mill willy, the set was still sub-par. The ‘banter’ was probably the highlight, so maybe social-media comedy is the way to go? But as the cliché goes, don’t give up your day jobs. (5/10)

From the largest stage, to the smallest: Service Bells were next up on The Record Store stage, which effectively was just a small tent with speakers and the ability to sell records. The intimate surroundings lent to Service Bells’ set superbly, as their Queens of the Stone Age-influenced rock bounced and reverberated within the tight confines. Over waves of feedback, Fraser Harvey’s cutting vocals hit the back of the tent, their visceral drum and guitar assault working to draw a packed out crowd into the tight confines. Although their set was brief, they teased perfectly to their later performance on The Kraken Stage, by giving just a taste of the aggression of their music. (7/10)

From blood and guts rock ‘n’ roll, it was on to alternative new wave electronica with Dutch Uncles on The Atlantic Stage. It’s a bit of a departure but a welcome one, as the four-piece pull out all the stops to make it a feast for the senses. Despite the rather overcast and glum setting in Liverpool, Dutch Uncles serve up an almost samba beat, with hips shaking and a calypso rhythm uniting the audience in their booty shaking. Duncan Wallis juts and throws his way around the stage as Andy Proudfoot, Robin Richards and Peter Broadhead provide a glittering calypso boogie. Their colourful backdrop and the verve and enthusiasm imbued in their performance meant gave a summery outlook for what was a rather gloomy setting, as they transported us to a beach, ‘Club Tropicana’ style.

Striking an uncanny resemblance to Game Of Thrones character plump, yet loveable buffoon Samwell Tarly, lead singer of the next band Leon Stanford captured the entire crowd with his wit and lack of comprehension for how close all the stages were. In honesty, the Tarly lookalike had a point seeing as what could be made of his beautiful Gaslight Anthem-esque vocals was mostly drowned out by the thumping bass emerging from The Cargo Stage behind him.

Despite these facts, The People and the Poet cut through the walls of sonic obscurity as well as they could and played a brilliant set. The storytelling was encapsulating and Stanford’s cutting wit meant your attention was affixed to the Welsh four-piece. My only confusion was how Welsh they sounded speaking, and how un-Welsh they sounded making music. In fact, it felt more like a band from the Midwest of America, which did have me scratching my head. Despite the tonal confusions, The People and the Poet stood out on the Saturday as arguably the stand out band with their brilliant turns of phrase and superb delivery, even in the face of adversity… (8/10)

The joyful summer party atmosphere of Dutch Uncles was supplanted at The Baltic Stage, giant empty warehouse, by the feeling of a proper old-school punk show, courtesy of aged-retainers The Membranes. Old-school punk has a certain, er, look. The Membranes, quite simply ARE that look: shirts off, muscles rippling, dodgy haircuts that they probably couldn’t pull off 30 years ago and are no closer to doing so now and a menacing look upon the frontman’s face. They were every bit the grizzled bunch of punkers that the tagline ‘still inspired by punk rock but believe music has no boundaries’ conjures up.

It’s not exactly note perfect, and ‘gritty’ is probably the best word to describe it as, with most of the audience affixed to the wrinkled prune John Robb marauding menacingly around the front echelons of the stage. For most of the set, regrettably for the aged-retainers, their post-punk growls and riffs just didn’t strike an accord, until their final hurrah when the band rallied for a rousing call and return effort. Stellar work for guys who look like they may need a defibrillator post-set. (7/10)

After a brief top-up at one of the beer tents, which looked drastically overstaffed and dramatically overegged for the actual level of trade they would be receiving throughout the weekend, I made my way to the end of the pier at The Atlantic Stage for a moment I’d waited more than a decade for. As the light of the sun disappeared and the artificial light began to illuminate the small strip of tarmac the crowd were kettled into, the stage was draped with various plastic tubes for the light-fantastic The Flaming Lips were about to set up. In true Wayne Coyne style, he helped with the soundcheck resplendent in his green latex froggy suit, with the rest of the band dressed equally as colourfully and dotted around the stage, intertwined in the maze of dangling tubes.

Coyne and co. began with a ballad in the form of ‘The Abandoned Hospital Ship’, a jangling soaring journey through the psyche of this era-defining trio. That’s all before The Flaming Lips really begin their orgy for the senses, with cannons full of ticker tape and a ‘Fight Test’ singalong, as giant blow up aliens join Coyne on stage. As Coyne takes us through a quick tour of the bands most successful singles, he stops the audience midway through a slowed down singalong of ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Part 1’. “I don’t know whether you KNOW how important the HYAH HYAH bit of Yoshimi is, but Coyne bellows, “it’s a marker as to the level of crazy the audience is”. Most of the crowd loomed around baffled, but as it came to the HYAH HYAH portion of the song, we got a proper shout from the audience.

The set never really peaked to a mass singalong, simply for the fact that most of the audience didn’t know a lot of the songs. But the encore of ‘Do You Realize?’ was a soaring chorus across Liverpool Sound City with everyone getting caught up in the lights and excitement of The Flaming Lips.

Despite this, disappointingly due to the niche market The Flaming Lips occupy the crowd never really fully got on board with the set on a musical level. As far as a feast for the eyes, they delivered a 10/10 performance, but musically there was a lack of connection as a band who have disappointed with its last three records struggled to hold the interest of the crowd. (7/10)

 
 
 

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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.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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