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Luke’s Alphabet Tour – R: Race Horses at London Lexington – 25th September 2012

 
By on Wednesday, 3rd October 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Sometimes it takes a Tuesday night out to prove that not everything in the world is bad. The weather might be continually awful, the economy is still in decline and the X Factor still exists, but outside, in the upstairs function rooms across Britain, smiley poptastic fun can still be had. Travelling all the way from Cardiff, the Welsh quintet Race Horses have ridden into London town to launch the brand spanking new LP ‘Furniture’.

The sold out crowd arrive early to load up on drink and take in the atmosphere before everyone’s favourite equine-related indie-poppers play their new album, plus a few extra treats. Wasting no time with pleasantries, Race Horses gallop through the opening tracks of ‘Furniture’, rousing an already hyped audience. Free single ‘Mates’ opens the voice strings of certain crowd members who have played it to death on their laptops, but it’s the mid-section that proves most interesting.

‘Nobody’s Son’ and ‘Old and New’ smack of Dexys with its inherent 80s vibe, and frontman Meilyr Jones vocals are staggering similar to Everything Everything‘s Jonathan Higgs. It’s during ‘Nobody’s Son’ that Jones looks his most vulnerable as he screams, “I’m just a hotel, I’m just a place you stay”, while attacking a bass drum. But throughout the performance he commands the stage with his jittery dance moves (that begin to resemble starting a fight with the invisible man), while his counterparts constantly switch instruments, keeping the sound fresh and visually exciting – there’s even a bassoon and a harp, what more do you need?

The obligatory encore is met with open arms and ears as the rabble of on stage prove their worth with yet more danceable, catchy tunes to the elation of the packed venue. ‘Cysur a Cyffro’ and ‘Hanes Cymru’ ring out joyfully in the dimly lit, booze-soaked room, as London laps up every sugar-coated morsel of fun-loving indie-pop and washes it down with a double helping of Cardiff happiness. Just what the doctor ordered on a Tuesday.

 

Live Review: Richard Hawley with Lisa Hannigan at Lincoln Engine Shed – 30th September 2012

 
By on Tuesday, 2nd October 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

You can tell when you enter a room how revered an artist is by the demeanour of their fans, for this gig it was obvious that the respect in the room was huge. Sunday the 30th of September saw 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated singer/songwriter Richard Hawley and Lisa Hannigan grace the Engine Shed and a beautiful gig ensued. The stage was kitted out with a plethora of floral arrangements. What for? Well, that was difficult to know. But it didn’t half look nice!

The setting was perfect for the ethereal acoustic driven melodies of support act Lisa Hannigan, who was playing her first gig in Lincoln. Hannigan opened her set in a typically understated way, with just her, the audience and an acoustic guitar during opener ‘Little Birds’. The song was a brilliant statement from Hannigan, as it showed off her fantastic voice and had the audience on her side immediately.

‘Passenger’ was an equally ethereal and beautiful track which showcased her astounding vocal range and showed everyone the talents of her full band. The softly-spoken Irish songstress wasn’t just there to leave everyone spellbound by her fantastic acoustic music. No, she was also ready for a casual rock-off, which during ‘Kind’ saw Hannigan don her rock shoes and stomp around.

To finish off her short set the three members of her band, Hannigan included, huddled around a microphone for the finale. It was a stirringly, soulful effort which had the entire audience encapsulated. Many of them may have just come for Hawley, but I can imagine many left with Hannigan fresh in their minds.

The atmosphere in the room changed as the lights dropped for the main attraction, Richard Hawley, who entered the stage and the crowd of 40-somethings proceeded to roar in approval. Their hero had arrived.

The set chugged into life with the title track of Hawley’s new album, ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge’. As a slow-burning, heavy brute of a song, it had the entire crowd bobbing their heads to the massive beat. Hawley’s legendary status meant that once the epic of a song finished he could take a breather and generally just have a chat with the audience.

Now while he may only have been to Lincoln for the first time today, the crowd were obviously warming to him. His regular anecdotes in-between songs provided a witty commentary to an intimate gig. His crooning style of delivery made for a slightly one-toned gig; however, the sheer force and power of the music it was played to made up for it wholeheartedly.

Songs like ‘Remorse Code’ and ‘Soldier On’ were performed with a power the Engine Shed hadn’t seen for a while. Sure, the Subways may have ran a great 30-minute set the night before, but they can’t even compete with the level of epic Hawley was reaching for in this gig.

The gig finished with a well-earned encore where Hawley tore through renditions of ‘Lady Solitude’ and ‘The Ocean’. Let’s be honest, Hawley could have come on stage and rested on his laurels, but he instead Hawley rose to the occasion and delivered a set which made me realise how much he deserves his legendary status.

 

Split Festival 2012: Day 2 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 1st October 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Missed Martin’s field report of the Saturday of Split Festival? You’re in luck; read it here.

Where Saturday at Split Festival 2012 was noisy in the main tent and more subtle in the other, the situation is roughly reversed on Sunday. Field Music turn in a lithe, precise set on the main stage. Since this writer has, more by coincidence than anything else, seen them four times this year so far, I can safely say that they are better every time, and have never played the same set twice. A hometown gig is always a bit more special, and the crowd are duly appreciative.

Saint Etienne’s comeback continues apace – Sarah Cracknell looks glorious, her sparkly mini-dress picked out by a central spotlight, and she sounds just as good. In a set heavy with material from this year’s ‘Words and Music’, the synth-pop sound is just as present and correct as in years gone by. The volume and tempo is gently increased as we proceed, Cracknell elegantly gyrating, flourishing a feather boa. Close your eyes, and new songs like ‘When I Was Seventeen’ can make you believe it’s 1992 again; Neil Young has never sounded as warmly glorious as when they cover ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’.

A guilty candy-floss pleasure compared to the gristle of Future of the Left, whose noisy Welsh surrealist punk deafens everyone in the small tent. Andy Falkous, drenched in sweat, screams out such deadpan masterpieces such as ‘Sheena was a T-shirt Salesman’ and ‘Failed Olympic Bid’. The humour perhaps isn’t immediately apparent, but the skit climax, “if Margaret Thatcher was alive I’d ask her what her favourite film was” surely clinches the deal.

What’s the point in running a festival if you can’t headline it yourselves? After last year’s absence, The Futureheads are back with what is essentially a greatest hits set. They kick off with the superb ‘Beeswing’ from this year’s a capella album ‘Rant’; four-part harmonised vocals have always been an essential part of the ‘heads sound, but this song, shorn of any instrumentation, demonstrates just how accurate and heartfelt they can be with just four voices.

But it’s not long before the electric guitars come out, and the band rattle through the best bits of their back catalogue, climaxing with a majestic ‘Hounds of Love’. The audience are enraptured throughout, as well they might be: this event is more than just another show, it’s a celebration of Sunderland, its people and its music. And on the evidence of Split 2012, Sunderland is in very rude health indeed.

 

Live Gig Video: Two Door Cinema Club perform ‘What You Know’ in the Fuse studios

 
By on Friday, 28th September 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Two Door Cinema Club are currently in America, bringing ‘Beacon’ to North American shores this autumn. They stopped by Fuse tv station to record this version of ‘What You Know’. Watch it below.

 

Split Festival 2012: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Friday, 28th September 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

Split Festival has the finest grass in all of fest-dom. Even though the square of the Ashbrooke Cricket Club at which it is held is fenced off, the outfield still proudly displays its evenly-cropped blades, a far cry from the slopping mud too often endured by festival-goers elsewhere. This year sees Split subtly bigger and improved: there is a vintage tent, an arts tent selling the crop of local music photographers’ work and a veritable globe’s worth of international cuisine. The Creole food deserves a particular mention. But the real treat is a comprehensive musical programme, with a distinct tilt towards the regional – unsurprisingly, as local heroes the Futureheads are in charge of the whole thing.

As with all good, small festivals, there are two stages; as one band finishes in one arena, another starts in its counterpart. The slight figure of Kyla La Grange belies her impact; her epic gothic-tinged songs are as if designed to be played on an outdoor stage, at once majestically swooping and delicate. The avuncular King Creosote is up next in the acoustic-themed tent: his performance is a masterclass in understated delivery; with just a djembe and bass for accompaniment, there’s a surprising amount of dynamic on offer, and with material as strong as his, it’s a fine way to gently shift gear into evening.

And shift gear is what Leeds’ Pulled Apart by Horses most certainly do, in a whirlwind of coruscating grungy noise and a frenetic stage show. Nobody seems to be injured – a rarity apparently for a PABH gig. Whilst not strictly punk, one has the feeling that the noise and aggression on display here is directly inspired by the antics of Rotten and his peers over 30 years ago.

Before we get to him, there’s folk headliners the Unthanks. Sisters Becky and Rachel, backed up by a string quartet, grand piano, and band, produce a captivating set of gentle drama and fragile beauty. There’s no artifice or pretention; the sisters’ best trick is taking the sound of authentic Northumberland-influenced folk music, updating it with more mainstream arrangements for a wider audience. That and the clog dancing. Probably the most unlikely support act that Johnny Rotten has ever had, but not less effective for that.

The anticipation in the air of the main tent before Public Image Ltd take the stage is palpable, and to cut to the chase, the crowd are not disappointed. Rotten has an instantly recognisable stage persona, at once cheekily humourous yet genuinely threatening. His singing voice is a strange thing – one can’t really claim that his vocal lines have proper melodies, but it’s never really out of tune; his oft-employed keynote-drone-with-microtonal-variations technique wouldn’t sound out of place reciting echoing Koran verses in some dusty Eastern European mosque. His lyrical content wouldn’t be welcome, however. Naturally, there’s plenty of anti-establishment rhetoric, and even a moment towards the end of the set where the audience is exhorted to worship Rotten-as-musical-deity, which they are only too happy to do.

The band are razor-sharp, particularly Fagin-esque unsung guitar virtuoso Lu Edmonds: swathes and shards of his guitar overlay the pulsing, deep bass and tireless drums. Lydon is an enthusiast of dub reggae, and there’s plenty of this influence on display, but towards the end of the set the band turn up the tempo and become essentially a live dance music act, more akin to the now defunct Faithless than any traditional punk outfit in spirit and sound, with Lydon gargling brandy and preaching from the pulpit like a demon priest.

His one misstep involves a throwaway comment about the police, cumulating in the line, “the boys in blue aren’t all bad… well maybe they are,” a clanger of monumental bad taste considering the tragedy in Manchester just a few days previously. His opinion on Jools Holland is too scabrous to repeat here, and considerably more amusing, considering the band’s date on his show the following week. In case nobody knew, PiL are a challenging, uncompromising listen, led by one of the greatest frontmen of all time, still firing on all cylinders. Is there any higher praise?

Stay tuned: Martin’s roundup of Sunday’s bands at Split 2012 will post early next week.

 

Live Gig Video: Mumford and Sons make their Saturday Night Live debut with ‘I Will Wait’

 
By on Wednesday, 26th September 2012 at 4:00 pm
 

Mumford and Sons appeared this past weekend on American late night tv programme Saturday Night Live, and from all accounts, it went down a treat. Watch this video of them performing ‘I Will Wait’ below.

Catch the quartet on the road in November and December, as they bring their new album ‘Babel’ to clubs and arenas across the UK and Ireland.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5t7B-ia8Y0[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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.

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