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Kendal Calling 2016 Roundup (Part 1)

 
By on Wednesday, 10th August 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

In the process of researching for this review (by which I mean spending lots of time in various sunny fields listening to a lot of excellent music and chatting to a lot of talented people), I found myself face-to-face with Andy Smith, a founder of and head honcho at Kendal Calling. Considering the number of priceless moments his event has provided me with over the years – countless superb bands seen; friends, belongings, and marbles found, lost, and then found again; memorable impromptu jams and karaoke sessions – one would hope to do better in summing the whole deal up with a blokey “Cool festival, man.”

So, here is my homage to Kendal Calling, and considering I have more time to prepare it, I shall attempt to be more fulsome than the above. 2016 was the safest, most grown up version of Kendal Calling yet, and though there is plenty I miss about what was subtly different to previous years, all things considered this was the best installment yet. Apart from a shower early on the Thursday, the sun shone consistently throughout the weekend, which makes an enormous difference to one’s perception and enjoyment of a festival. Speaking of Thursday, I can remember when the evening’s entertainment for those hardy souls who volunteered for a pre-festival night’s camping was a bonfire and vintage clothing stall. Not so of late, and it fell to The Charlatans to close the main stage on Thursday. Surely one of the most well-known bands in Britain, the survivors of the baggy scene do make a delightful, funky racket, and if familiarity has dampened their ability to seem truly special, their sheer exuberance, not to mention liberal applications of Hammond organ, always makes them a compelling watch.

There’s more to Thursday night than the main stage anyway. After hours, the Chai Wallahs tent takes the strain of thousands of people looking to start their weekend with a bang. I’d managed to misplace the new campsite friends I’d only known a few hours, leaving them to buy beer only to realise that it’s impossible to find anyone again at Kendal if you’re actually looking for them. Best to go with the flow, meet people who fate wants you to meet, and take it from there. I remember speaking to a couple of guys who’d come up from Brighton, pretty much the farthest distance it’s possible to travel from on the mainland, and proof of Kendal’s nationwide reach. In true get-it-out-of-your-system style, late Thursday evening was spent mooching around various camps, joining in impromptu singalongs, mostly of songs written by a certain Mr Gallagher

Kendal Calling 2016 - Too Many Ts-7915

None of which shenanigans prevents a large crowd gathering first thing in the afternoon for the lively flow of Too Many T’s. I’m personally not sure where these guys have sprung from all of a sudden, but they seem to be all over the place, with a brand of witty hip-pop that’s perfect for an afternoon at a festival. They’ve got a lot of decent tunes that don’t seem to have appeared on record yet. Come on lads, you could have some hits on your hands!

Kendal Calling 2016 - The Big Moon-7964

One of the enormous pleasures of Kendal Calling is the undercard in the Calling Out tent, or what should actually be called the New Favourite Bands tent. The Big Moon are four girls from London who make a brilliant racket, perfectly poised between sweetly innocent melodies and flip-the-bird punkiness. There’s such hooks here that even on the first listen to something like ‘Cupid’, it’s impossible not to sing along in raucous joy. Brilliant stuff. And so to our first band of the day that have actually released an album. Hooton Tennis Club betray their Merseyside origins with lazy yet rock-steady beats, some lovely discordant guitar work and jaunty lyrics. Like early Blur crossed with the Lemonheads. And they’ve got an amazingly enthusiastic bass player. Who doesn’t want that?

Kendal Calling 2016 - Hooton Tennis Club-8024

Manchester’s Gideon Conn was a highlight of my festival last year, and he’s back this with a longer set, except he doesn’t seem to know he’s actually got a full hour to showcase his delicately funky looped observational pieces, so his set climaxes about 15 minutes too early. No matter, because all the ingredients are still present and correct. His wordplay is second to none, and despite the sparse arrangements (keyboard, guitar, occasionally at the same time) he really can get a crowd going. Particularly when he ventures over the barrier and sings amongst the crowd. This year he ended up on someone’s shoulders in a particularly wobbly-looking shoulder lift. At least some random out of the crowd didn’t get hold of the microphone again. Despite the confusion there’s still nothing quite like a Gideon Conn set. Or Gideon Conn, for that matter – one is quite enough for this world.

Kendal Calling 2016 - Gideon Conn-8031

Catfish and the Bottlemen are astonishingly popular. I was told countless times by people that they’d bought tickets simply on the strength of their appearance. Van McCann’s words from my chat with him at Kendal a couple of years ago were still ringing in my ears: “I want to be bigger than Oasis.” Well, second on the bill here when Noel himself is headlining (a different day, but still) means that he’s still on the perfect trajectory to achieve his dream. It is difficult to objectively understand exactly what it is that Catfish do that countless bands that have gone before haven’t managed. Perhaps it simply comes down to the charisma of the frontman, because despite how well the songs work on a stage and with a crowd as big as they were blessed with here, what they’re peddling really isn’t anything new. But fair play to them – what next? Breaking America? [Something Oasis never did, did they? – Ed.]

Kendal Calling 2016 - Catfish 2-7290050

Rudimental put on a good show. They’re a big dance band, totally professional, and remind me of Basement Jaxx‘s set on the Friday a couple of years ago. It’s really what the first night of a festival needs: big beats, big tunes, more of which you recognise than you might think, and a really good show. So you wouldn’t think it’s possible for an act to follow that? Step forward the Conservatoire Folk Ensemble, led by violinist Joe Broughton. Who, if they haven’t got the prize for the most number of folk musicians on a single stage, really do deserve an honourable mention. A performance of the most remarkable power, primarily down to the sober dedication of the players – faced with a midnight crowd of hyped-up revellers, no mean feat. Their repertoire is varied, but it’s when they really let rip that their true power is unveiled. Bows fly unhinged across strings, a cajon is thwacked within an inch of its life, even the harp player throws a few shapes. There are even a couple of electric guitarists hidden in the middle somewhere, completely disguised by the swarm of instruments around them. This is traditional folk given an enormous shot in the arm. Exactly what it needs. A truly remarkable experience.

Kendal Calling 2016 - Conservertoire Folk Ensemble-7290060

 

Charlatans / December 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 25th August 2015 at 9:00 am
 

Charlatans will round off 2015 with a second run of live dates in the UK this December following their autumn live dates in Europe and America.  The band released their 12th studio album ‘Modern Nature’ back in January and followed the release with a sold out UK tour back in March.  You can find the official video for album track ‘Let The Good Times Be Never Ending’ just below the tour date listing.

Tickets for the following shows will be available starting on Friday the 28th of August at 9 AM.  Previous TGTF coverage of the Charlatans, including their recent appearance at the 6 Music Festival, can be found right back here.

Tuesday 8th December 2015 – Nottingham Rock City
Wednesday 9th December 2015 – Cardiff Tramshed
Friday 11th December 2015 – Norwich UEA
Saturday 12th December 2015 – Birmingham Academy
Monday 14th December 2015 – Edinburgh Usher Hall
Tuesday 15th December 2015 – Dundee Caird Hall
Thursday 17th December 2015 – Newcastle Academy
Friday 18th December 2015 – Liverpool Academy
Saturday 19th December 2015 – London Brixton Academy

[youtube]https://youtu.be/TI3yayV6vhE[/youtube]

 

6 Music Festival 2015 on Tyneside: Sunday Roundup (Part 2)

 
By on Tuesday, 3rd March 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

To catch up on the first half of Martin’s review of Sunday at the 6 Music Festival 2015, click here.

An event should never be defined by its headliners – and for such a prestigious event, it could be argued that 6 Music weren’t too bothered about the halo effect of an international superstar topping the bill. Headlining the dark ‘n’ moody dance room (usually known as the Northern Rock Foundation Hall) was Daniel Avery, whose set provoked some discussion. Specifically, what do dance music producers actually *do* live? He presses the odd button, tweaks the odd knob, but mostly spends his time gyrating with his headphones over one ear. The plinth is arranged so we punters can’t see what equipment he’s got or what he’s doing, so one has to assume he’s booted up a MacBook Air and just pressed play. Musically, it’s inventive stuff, both danceable and listenable, but I’d like a bit more of a live performance.

One thing’s for sure, people really love The Charlatans. When I say people, I mean the middle-class-of-a-certain-age that occupy Hall One tonight. Surely nobody in 1990 would have predicted that they would become one of the country’s most durable and sought-after live acts. Perhaps it’s their dogged tenacity that people like; their sound hasn’t really developed beyond the baggy themes that they’ve purveyed for the past 25 years. Tim Burgess is becoming a bit of an icon, despite only a moderately interesting voice and his unusual hinting-at-transvesticism shock of blonde hair and oversized cardigan. Or maybe it’s the ever-present Hammond organ that’s the secret to their success. It’s difficult to argue that The Charlatans are as important a band and the Blurs, Suedes and Stone Roses of this world, but they could certainly teach their contemporaries a thing or two about persistence, and it’s paid off in their well-received headline show tonight.

A quick glance at The Maccabees is enough to know they’re not going to outdo The Charlatans in the indie-rock stakes, and so it falls to Teleman to be unlikely winner of the ‘Headliner of the Day’ award. Their subtle, Krautrock-influenced songs are tinged with wide-eyed innocence, not to say the ghost of Sparks, and they manage to end up in a brilliant crescendo courtesy of an extended version of ‘I’m Not in Control’. Teleman have a refreshing, shiny newness to them that neither The Charlatans’ greatest hits set nor The Maccabees’ laddish jollity can compete with. It is perhaps surprising that 6 Music went with such safe, established headliners (Teleman excepted, of course), as the absence of Jon Hopkins was sorely felt. (Get well soon!)

I’ve been somewhat critical of the Sage Gateshead in the past: for being too uptight, too high-brow, and too authoritarian to really enjoy a night out there. But tonight, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s ironic that the combination of two deeply establishment entities should actually give rise to an event as comparatively anarchic as tonight, but that is what happened. In the year of her 10th birthday, Sage let her hair down – and it was beautiful. The most obvious example of which is the never-before-seen removal of the seats in Hall One, which your faithful correspondent accurately predicted would happen in a Tweet to the Sage – they were naturally tight-lipped about it in advance, of course, but it shows how much clout the BBC had over how the evening was run, and the Sage management deserve a huge amount of credit for taking the leap of faith and going along with it.

Tonight proved what power for simultaneous multi-disciplinary performance Sage has until now kept hidden beneath her taffeta. I’m prepared to stand corrected, but tonight was the first time that pints were thrown and spliffs were smoked in the Sage. A small victory for people with souls. The door staff even seemed to let their hair down a little and go with the relaxed atmosphere. Not entirely though: I got told off for standing on a step. It’s ironic that it should be the BBC, one of the biggest, most tarnished, most confused bureaucracies that the world has ever seen (let’s not forget that in a uniquely misguided spasm of dithering the powers that be came very close to shutting down 6 Music itself) that should encourage Sage to effectively shed her staid overclothes and teach her how to have a good time. At the age of 10.

Or perhaps that’s the one thing that the BBC’s good at, I forget. At any rate, whether through an honest desire to bring good music and the spotlight of publicity to the regions, or alternatively a desperate attempt to inject some much-needed credibility and goodwill into an ailing institution, this was a brilliantly-conceived and superbly-executed weekend that only a churl would see as anything less than a roaring success. Where next? Nottingham, Glasgow, Bristol? They’re going to have to work hard to top Tyneside.

Performances from across the weekend can be found on the BBC iPlayer or via the red button on any digital TV. Massive thanks to Kate and the festival publicity team for sorting out out accreditation.

 

Charlatans / March 2015 UK Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 22nd October 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Charlatans have announced a string of March tour dates to follow the January 2015 release of their 12th studio album ‘Modern Nature’. The veteran alt-rockers are pushing forward after the passing of their drummer Jon Brookes, who insisted on the completion of the new LP. In Brookes’ stead, The Verve drummer Pete Salisbury, who played on ‘Modern Nature’, will accompany the band for these live shows. Tickets go on sale this Friday, the 24th of October, at 9 AM.

Tuesday 3rd March 2015 – Bristol Academy
Thursday 5th March 2015 – Manchester Albert Hall
Saturday 7th March 2015 – Leeds Academy
Monday 9th March 2015 – Hull University Main Room
Tuesday 10th March 2015 – Glasgow Barrowland
Friday 13th March 2015 – Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Saturday 14th March 2015 – Leicester Academy
Monday 16th March 2015 – London Roundhouse

 

Live Gig Videos: Fred Perry Subculture featuring the Charlatans, Willy Mason and the Drums

 
By on Monday, 7th January 2013 at 4:00 pm
 

2012 marked the 60th anniversary of the Fred Perry brand and the relaunch of the Fred Perry Subculture Web site. The brand had a series of celebrations in honour of the anniversary last year but just because it’s 2013, it doesn’t mean the partying has stopped. They’ve provided us some great live videos from their birthday party in September 2012 at London Garage, starring the Charlatans (performing ‘The Only One I Know’), Willy Mason (playing ‘I Got Gold’ from his new album ‘Carry On’ released in December on Fiction Records) and the Drums (playing the fab ‘Days’ from 2011’s ‘Portamento’). Watch them all below.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/54082460[/vimeo]

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/54357482[/vimeo]

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/54359034[/vimeo]

 

The Charlatans / June 2012 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 21st February 2012 at 9:00 am
 

The Charlatans will be playing the entirety of their celebrated UK number 1 album ‘Tellin’ Stories’ live at three UK gigs this June. Glasgow and London shows were previously announced; Glasgow is already sold out, but the London Hammersmith Apollo date on the 8th of June still has tickets available. A third date, at the Manchester Apollo on the 1st of June, will be on sale this Friday (24 February) at 9 AM.

To re-live those days 15 years ago (yes, it has been that long since ‘Tellin’ Stories’), watch the video for ‘One to Another’ below.

Friday 1st June 2012 – Manchester Apollo
Friday 8th June 2012 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Saturday 9th June 2012 – Glasgow Barrowlands (sold out)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXs8zmfqXvg[/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.

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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