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Beacons Festival 2012 Review (Part 2)

 
By on Wednesday, 29th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Part 1 of Martin’s review of Beacons 2012 can be read here.

What more can be written about Wild Beasts’ ability to headline? Their double-headed fantasia redefines the potential of a modern group of musicians. The risk of repetition is one worth bearing in order to quote a phrase written about their headline performance at Constellations in Leeds last November: “To see a capacity audience in a large room transfixed by such intelligently-written and expertly-executed pop music is a wondrous thing.” To which I would add, the material is so familiar now that the crowd effortlessly sing along pretty much all the way through. Which seems natural, until you ponder the meaning of such lyrical masterpieces such as “I was thrilled as I was appalled / Courting him in fisticuffing waltz”; words worthy of Raffles the Gentleman Thug himself. The world of performing arts waits with baited breath the arrival of a fourth Wild Beasts album.

As these things are wont to do, Sunday dawns even later with the kind of melancholy that only pervades the final morning of a weekend-long shindig. What finer prescription for such malaise than a swift dose of Frankie and the Heartstrings? As my erudite companion opined, if these guys had been around 10 years ago, they’d have cleaned up, what with their jaunty melodies, whip-smart pop arrangements and a classic frontman in Frankie Francis. Their frequent appearances on the festival scene are considerable consolation.

There is no photograph of The Wave Pictures because they were so good I couldn’t drag my attention away from them to fiddle with a camera. Operating for an impressive 14 years, time has not dulled their appeal; quite the opposite: the trio are telepathic in their delivery. Whether it’s that, the clarity of the ideas contained within the casually-delivered lyrics, or perhaps the guitar which spans basic root chords and then veers off into advanced soloing in the blink of the eye, or most likely a superb blend of all three, something really clicks with these guys. Singer David Tattersall can’t help the smile creeping across his child’s face, as if he’s heard the secret of the world – and everything’s going to be OK. Like the day of meeting someone who you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, no doubt there will be many more performances by The Wave Pictures – but nothing beats the first time.

From which planet is Willis Earl Beal? Certainly he has a considerably other-worldly manner which suggests someone not quite 100% Earthling. The intensity of his performance does nothing to dissuade this notion. Accompanied by a reel-to-reel tape machine, Beal prowls the stage, howling complex, inscrutable notions to primordial beats. He wraps up by removing his thick leather belt and whacking his chair by way of improvised percussion, before swaggering offstage. He didn’t actually say, “Take me to your leader”, but one has the impression that’s what he’s thinking. [I’m not sure what to make of him either, but he is a protege of Richard Russell’s, so on that alone, he comes well recommended, doesn’t he? – Ed.]

I have it on good authority that Patrick Wolf, on grand piano and violin-as-held-like-a-guitar delivered his arch-pop with aplomb, and that Toots and the Maytals wrapped things up with – what else! – a reggae conga. And that was that. The end.

This is Beacons’ first year as Beacons – those in the know will have attended a smaller but no less vibrant event on roughly the same site called Moorfest from which Beacons has grown; yet more will have been as bitterly disappointed as the organisers were when last year’s event was cancelled due to apocalyptic flooding. Thusly, Beacons 2012 represents the culmination of many years of hopes, dreams, and the odd scary moment – the product of such a recipe was an event which had no airs or graces at all in its delivery: it simply put on top-quality entertainment in a decent bit of the countryside, and invited the punters themselves to be its beating heart.

If you sat down and thought about it for a bit, you could tell this was an early, perhaps even naïve, event – the main arena had a vast central space with nothing in it (where was the eponymous beacon?), I found programmes for sale on the last day at the back of a tent, and stuff like signage was a bit hit and miss. But by ‘eck and by gum, what am I blathering about? It’s refreshing to experience a festival that puts all its effort into the essentials, even if that means the details are a bit rough around the edges. Details can be bought, but good taste in music cannot: for that reason, Beacons deserves to flourish. And with every ticket for 2012 sold out, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. Not even the weather.

 

Video(s) of the Moment #943: Patrick Wolf

 
By on Tuesday, 28th August 2012 at 6:00 pm
 

Is it really necessary to redo the songs in your back catalogue? I would think not, but apparently the great Patrick Wolf disagrees.

There’s possibility for confusion to ensue with this version of ‘Overture’, the first song to released in video form from Patrick’s new double album out on the 15th of October. (The original is the opening track to 2007’s ‘The Magic Position’ which, incidentally, I chose as my Good Day Bad Day song when Steve Lamacq interviewed me on 6music 4 years ago.) FYI ‘Sundark and Riverlight’ are mainly reworkings of already previously released material (which strikes me as somewhat disappointing, considering how talented he is). For a comparison, I’ve embedded the live video of him and his crew performing the original version of ‘Overture’ at Glasto 2007 so you can view them side by side.

The details of his November/December acoustic tour are here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i-KqFCKa_c[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uzrggvs4XNE[/youtube]

 

Patrick Wolf / November and December 2012 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 26th June 2012 at 9:30 am
 

Though it’s seriously hard to believe, Patrick Wolf has been making music for 10 years, and he’s marking this milestone with a series of special UK dates (mostly in smaller towns) this winter, each night with a different set list. He is also making an appearance at the Old Vic in London Town at the end of August. All the details are below; tickets are on sale now.

Wednesday 29th August 2012 – London Old Vic Theatre
Tuesday 6th November 2012 – Salford Lowry
Wednesday 7th November 2012 – Cardiff Gate
Tuesday 20th November 2012 – Gateshead Sage Theatre
Saturday 24th November 2012 – Warwick Arts Centre
Sunday 25th November 2012 – Glasgow Cottiers
Sunday 9th December 2012 – Penzance Ritz Theatre
Monday 10th December 2012 – Bristol St. George’s
Tuesday 11th December 2012 – Brighton St. Mary’s Church

 

Top Albums of 2011: Editor’s Picks

 
By on Tuesday, 20th December 2011 at 1:00 pm
 

As we get ready to bid adieu to another year of fantastic music, your faithful editor has made a list and checked it twice to choose what she considers the best of the year. Agree? Disagree? As always on here on TGTF, comments are welcome.

1. Noah and the Whale – ‘Last Night on Earth’ (Mercury) – With all the bad news about the economy in our faces each day and scandals rocking public institutions and public figures, we could really use something that can lift our cynical spirits. The third album from Noah and the Whale was unfairly maligned by critics bemoaning that they sound “too American” on this effort; what’s more important to me is the strength of the songwriting on this outing compared to their previous sombre material.

Not only is Charlie Fink happy, his writing is so grand it could finally bring Noah and the Whale into the big time. The most emotional moment is proffered in ‘Waiting for My Chance to Come’: “when you’re walking next to me / I can feel my body speak”. While the song title appears in the tune ‘L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.’, the defining lyric of the album is in here as well: “what you don’t have now will come back again / you’ve got heart and you’ll go in your own way”. In March, I stated this “will be 2011′s most optimistic, inspiring, life-affirming album” and months later, I still feel strongly about this album. Read my review here.

2. Lykke Li – ‘Wounded Rhymes’ (LL) – If you were expecting more of the same from Lykke Li based on her debut ‘Youth Novels’ (1 part strange ‘folk’ music, 1 part infectious dance), you’re sorely mistaken. Instead though, the Swedish songstress pushed new boundaries with her new partner in crime, Peter Bjorn and John’s Bjorn Yttling, and showed her songwriting abilities go far beyond a forgettable pop song. Maturity suits her, and even if she herself doesn’t like her fans being fixated on her in rapt attention at her concerts instead of dancing like they just don’t care, there’s no denying that her heartbreak makes for good song. Read my review here.

3. Young Rebel Set – ‘Curse Our Love’ (EMI) – Paul Lester damned this band with faint praise in this New Band of the Day feature in 2009 and I hope he ate his words upon listening to the band’s debut album on EMI. Singalong choruses in rock have become somewhat of a cliché in these Coldplay days but I like what these guys from Stockton-on-Tees are doing: a little bit of folk on rock. Sounds like what Noah and the Whale used to do, doesn’t it? ‘Walk On’ and ‘Fall Hard’ are ready made festival winners, and ‘If I Was’ is probably the prettiest love song you haven’t heard yet. If only the Brits took to them as much as the Germans already have…

4. Patrick Wolf – ‘Lupercalia’ (Hideout) – Multi-instrumentalist Patrick Apps presented himself to the world in 2003 with ‘Lycanthropy’, filled with teenage angst. This was followed by ominous autumnal musings in 2005’s ‘Wind in the Wires’, freewheeling happiness in 2007’s ‘The Magic Position’, and “stick it to the man” ‘The Bachelor’ of 2009. This year’s album is a celebration, literally (Wolf drew from on an old Roman holiday designed to avert evil spirits and for purification for his thematic inspiration) and absent is the brooding, pensive Patrick, a mode he knows well. But who cares? The man is in love, the songwriting is top notch and this is an album you can listen to again and again. Read my review here.

5. The Whip – ‘Wired Together’ (Southern Fried) – As the year went on, I was getting really worried that there wouldn’t be a dance album in 2011 to truly stir my restless soul, to make me feel alive again. Trust Manchester to come through with a corker: the Whip’s ‘Wired Together’ ticked all the boxes. ‘Shake’ is an in your face, dirty dancing delight. It starts slow and cool before you are compelled to put your hands in the air and you start seeing the coloured lights. Read my review here.

Under the cut: albums that almost made the top 5…as well as some albums that disappointed.
Continue reading Top Albums of 2011: Editor’s Picks

 

Video of the Moment #625: Patrick Wolf

 
By on Monday, 7th November 2011 at 6:00 pm
 

Since buying ‘Wind in the Wires’ several years ago, Patrick Wolf has been a mainstay in my record collection. Here’s more proof of his genius: the video for ‘The Falcons’, which you can plainly see is a love song written for his significant other William. A happy Patrick makes me happy, so I loved his latest album ‘Lupercalia’ (review here), though there are a lot in the Wolf Pack who aren’t as impressed and are complaining about the ‘hipster triangles’…

This track shows Patrick as his optimistic, sunny best: “things are looking up, up, up for you / things are looking up, up, up for us / finally!” And if the hipster triangles are really getting on your nerves (hey, Friendly Fires had triangles on tote bags and t-shirts 3 years ago soz…) just follow the blue and pink birds and see what they become, and you will be fine.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QV9Q76s6ml4[/youtube]

 

Album Review: Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia

 
By on Thursday, 16th June 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

With bands disappearing off the musical radar after one or two albums, it’s really hard to fathom that despite changing record labels a bunch of times, Patrick Wolf, at only age 27, is about to release his fifth album next Monday. See, the thing about Patrick Apps is, we’ve watched him grow from the shy yet emotionally open boy in 2003’s ‘Lycanthropy’ to where he is now with the upcoming release of ‘Lupercalia’: a happily married man in love with his partner and the world. Where 2009’s ‘The Bachelor’ was darker and reflected disillusionment, hurt, solitude and loneliness, most of ‘Lupercalia’ is lighter and happier. Or at least is a suggestion that love, while it can be all consuming, does conquer all.

‘The City’ (single review here, video below), the first single to premiere from this new collection and the opening track from the album, managed to polarise his dedicated fanbase – whom he addresses as the “Wolf Pack” – by showing off a bright, bubbly, poppy version of Patrick. A lot of people were asking what the heck happened to the angry, darker Patrick Wolf, but I welcome this change in attitude wholeheartedly. 2007’s ‘The Magic Position’ is my favourite of all of his albums (having purchased it at the now gone Virgin Megastore in Piccadilly Circus that year), and I feel in many ways, ‘Lupercalia’ is an extension of those happier days (and not surprisingly, a previous period in time where he was also in love). And this feels like a summery record you want around the house for your sunniest holidays this year.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hBJIbSScBM[/youtube]

After ‘The City’ is ‘House’ (video here), which is a sweetly woven little tune in which Wolf extols the virtues of his current living arrangement which, of course, includes his lover. It’s the wide-eyed wonderment of someone truly in love. Wolf performed an “acoustic” version of this song for Radio2’s In Concert with Jo Whiley last week, and the piano on this track – and indeed, throughout the entire record – is probably the single best instrument on ‘Lupercalia’. I often think fondly of Two Door Cinema Club’s guitars, because they’re able to make guitars “talk”. Patrick Wolf can make his piano do similarly amazing things, and the same can be said for really any instrument he plays.

Painting this album as complete happiness would be a mistake. There’s always a harder, deeper edge to Wolf that is always appears, even if “Angry Patrick” is not as loud on a “cheerful” record like ‘Lupercalia’. He explained to Whiley that this album was constructed to reflect two lovers coming together, then losing each other, before being reunited again in a happy ending. The middle portion comprises ‘The Future’, ‘Armistice’ and ‘William’, all retaining a wistful, yet regretful quality.

Is it acceptance of something gone wrong? You get your answer in the form of ‘Time of My Life’ (single review here, lyric video below), which may seem like an odd move, as a slap in the face for someone who’s spurned you. Been dumped? This is your salvation. Seriously, Patrick Wolf is practically daring you to get on the dance floor, shouting “[I’m] happy without you!” It might seem as out of place as ‘Accident and Emergency’ was on 2005’s otherwise meditative ‘Wind in the Wires’, but it’s a refreshing salve after three pretty serious songs. Which is good because ‘The Days’ and ‘Slow Motion’ feel like he’s fallen back in love yet he’s a tough case: tough case meaning he’s so wrapped up in his feelings (being in love, yet feeling vulnerable, worried the bottom is going to fall out of this great thing he’s got going…and who hasn’t felt that in a relationship?) that all he can do is emote. And we should all be grateful that Patrick Denis Apps has chosen music as his vocation.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Boyl6Iaw2Y4[/youtube]

When you listen to a Patrick Wolf album, you’re seeing his life reflected in the music. Not surprisingly given what’s been going on in his personal life, strong romantic bonds, engagement and marriage are major themes in ‘Lupercalia’. Early on in the album, he speaks of “two kisses” of ‘Bermondsey Street’. But these themes are best explored lyrically in the last two songs. The up tempo ‘Together’ ensures that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as Wolf insists, “true love knows no sacrifice”. Then you get washed over by the truly beautiful closing track ‘The Falcons’: “with nothing left to waste but opportunity / to be the lovers we have longed to be”. Your heart soars. When Wolf is in love, he wants everyone to feel this love and all its associated emotions. And you most definitely will, the first time you put this record on.

Patrick Wolf in love is pure sunlight, pure feeling. He’s peerless. Embrace him, and embrace this record.

8.5/10

‘Lupercalia’ will be released on 20 June (next Monday) on Hideout Records.

 
 
 

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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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