Looking for previews and reviews of SXSW 2019? Right this way.

SXSW 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2018 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012

Don't forget to like There Goes the Fear on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Live Review: The Divine Comedy with Jealous of the Birds at Birmingham Institute – 24th November 2017

 
By on Thursday, 7th December 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

It had been a good 11 years since I’d first visited Birmingham in the West Midlands. What better reason to return is there but a gig? Formerly the HMV Institute and now part of the O2 empire, the Institute was once a church and even a civic hall of Birmingham City Council. But these days, the only collars you’ll likely see in here are those on leather jackets. Brum was only the third stop on The Divine Comedy’s winter 2017 tour, following Edinburgh and Leeds and in support of Neil Hannon’s most recent album ‘Foreverland’, released in September 2016. My review of the LP is through here.

Opening for Hannon and crew was Naomi Hamilton, better known in the indie music blogosphere by her more fanciful nom de plume Jealous of the Birds. She performed solely with her voice and guitar. The heavily pierced songwriter commented that her stage setup was decidedly ‘granny chic’; it included a Divine Comedy mug she admitted she nicked from the merch table outside. She began with the catchy ‘Goji Berry Sunset’, a single that was a longtime staple on BBC 6 Music long before we caught up with her at SXSW 2016. There was something enchantingly arresting by her performance, as she sung and played the title track of her 2016 album ‘Parma Violets’ completely at ease. She ended her all too short set with a haunting cover of ‘Suzanne’, a wonderful tribute to the late Leonard Cohen.

Jealous of the Birds Birmingham

Trying to describe the numerous emotions and topics Neil Hannon has touched upon during the many years The Divine Comedy have been in action would be a difficult exercise. He’s gone through a good number of phases over nearly 3 decades, most recently being funny about cricket with the Duckworth Lewis Method in 2009, guffawing at the unlikelihood of being recognised by the Queen in 2010’s ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’ and last year’s ‘Foreverland’. On his latest album, it appears his preoccupation with things French (‘Napoleon Complex’), female monarchs (‘Catherine the Great’) and indeed, the female he holds dearest in his life, fellow musician and partner Cathy Davey, have directed him artistically as of late.

In the ‘90s version of The Divine Comedy, back when there were actually other members of the band besides Hannon, songs like ‘Everybody Knows (Except You)’ showed his sweeter, cuddlier innocent side. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘Generation Sex’, ‘Something for the Weekend’ and ‘Becoming More Like Alfie’ proved there was a naughtier, sleazier version of the songwriter all too eager to come out. He was the kind of artist who could get away with this kind of frank songwriting because ultimately, he was singing of the things that didn’t come up in polite conversation but the rest of us were dying to say.

Divine Comedy Birmingham 1

He sings all too joyfully about the ‘National Express’ – which, incidentally, brought me from Manchester Airport to Birmingham that afternoon – without it coming across too schmaltzy. The brilliance that is ‘At the Indie Disco’ even came across fresher than its first airing around the release of ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’: at the mention of “she makes my heart beat the same way / as at the start of ‘Blue Monday’”, he and his band launched into an entirely unexpected interlude, a cover of the New Order classic, complete with seizure-inducing strobe lighting. Hannon clearly has wonderful rapport with his current live band, calling his piano- and accordion-playing bandmate a man with a “squeezy” and thanking his guitar tech for bringing him one of his axes with, “yes, I know what that is! A strummy strum strum!” If I didn’t know he was nearly 50 and could only hear him, I’d guess he was probably half his actual age. Do men ever grow up? Ha, I guess not.

Martin previously wrote about The Divine Comedy’s headline appearance at this year’s Deer Shed, proclaiming that Hannon was the best headliner to date of the family-friendly festival in Baldersby Park. Certainly, seeing an artist like him in a listed building like the Institute is going to be an entirely different experience than you’d have at an open-air festival. While I did enjoy the show, the gimmickry of Hannon’s Napoleon-esque costume, along with a refusal to lay down in the pit as he has in other places such as in Bristol because the floor was gross seemed a bit prima donna. I guess of all people, Neil Hannon is allowed to be so. As an Irish national treasure and a songwriting genius, he’s earned that right.

Divine Comedy Birmingham 2

After the cut: The Divine Comedy’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: The Divine Comedy with Jealous of the Birds at Birmingham Institute – 24th November 2017

 

Deer Shed Festival 2017: Day 3 Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 15th August 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Words and photos by Martin Sharman, formerly Head Photographer at TGTF

Sunday morning at Deer Shed Festival 2017 dawns brightly, and last night’s storm in a teacup is but a fading memory. Traditional Sunday morning activities are executed: the consumption of coffee and pork products in bread, playing in a giant cardboard city, perhaps a tutorial on how to write (hint: let your consciousness stream away, don’t edit as you go, grammar and spelling can go hang). There’s only a few hours left of the big activities like the science tent, so it’s time to get on it again. But by lunchtime, the kids had been offloaded onto some friendly passers-by, which meant a good opportunity to sit down in one place and let the main stage do its thing.

Flamingods at Deer Shed 2017

And what a thing it was. SXSW 2017 alums Flamingods bring Bahraini psychedelic shoegaze – not a genre you encounter every day – and it’s superb. Frontman Kamal Rasool plays a bizarre traditional guitar-ish instrument (not unlike the three-string cigar box guitars being sold by Chickenbone John elsewhere on site), there’s much instrument-swapping and the ever-present thwack of crazy drums. They end with an epic 10-minute jam, the sort you can sway around to seemingly for hours on end. The crowd is massed and appreciative, and it becomes clear that this particular Sunday isn’t the traditional Deer Shed warm down. It’s actually shaping up to be something very special indeed.

Teleman at Deer Shed 2017

Teleman have quietly matured into a band of great importance. In the early days, they could be a bit too aloof for their own good, but two albums in, today’s performance presents their delicate songs in a muscular, festival-ready form. Classics like ‘Cristina’ and ‘Dusseldorf’ carry mass appeal hidden in their precise arrangements, and they properly rock out towards the end. They’ve surely made a plethora of new fans here today.

And so we come to what is arguably, in this writer’s opinion, the finest bill-topper in Deer Shed history. Neil Hannon as The Divine Comedy marches on stage in full French Revolutionary regalia, as the note-perfect band launch into ‘Napoleon Complex’. And thus begins a masterclass in how to do witty, tuneful, intelligent – and most importantly, inclusive – social commentary through pop music. ‘A Woman of a Certain Age’ is a touching discourse on advancing years from a female perspective, and ‘Catherine The Great’ takes on a further poignancy when dedicated to his partner and fellow musician Cathy Davey. After a quick costume change, ‘The Complete Banker’ gently knives society’s favourite punching-bag profession to musical accompaniment that the Sherman brothers would be proud to claim for their own back catalogue, yet Hannon has the good grace to apologise to any bankers actually in the crowd.

Neil Hannon as The Divine Comedy at Deer Shed 2017

But they know what we’re all waiting for. Unafraid to delve into the earliest reaches of their back catalogue to please a crowd, we lap up ‘Generation Sex’, ‘Something for the Weekend’, and, gloriously, ‘National Express’. Moments when an entire crowd – and possibly an entire festival – are united around one band, one song, one line of lyrics, are rare indeed, and The Divine Comedy deliver. A brilliant moment of joy, togetherness and love amidst the turbulence of modern life. That’s what Deer Shed is all about.

Regardless of my personal views on one or two of the acts, it should not be inferred that this was anything other than yet another brilliant chapter in the Deer Shed story. Stuff that is taken for granted but really shouldn’t be – superb food, properly clean toilets, ample camping space, decent beer – was all present and correct. I’m very excited about what a little birdie whispered about a potential lady headliner for next year. And thus Deer Shed grows with the kids that revel within it – every year is different, bringing new challenges and fresh joys – and we love it all the same.

 

The Divine Comedy / November and December 2017 UK/Irish Tour

 
By on Wednesday, 31st May 2017 at 9:00 am
 

Neil Hannon’s very existence will always be linked to the band he has fronted and masterminded for over 2 decades, The Divine Comedy. Last year, he released ‘Foreverland’, the 11th Divine Comedy album. My review of it before its September 2016 release is through here. Tickets to the shows from mid-November in the UK into mid-December in Ireland are on sale now. To catch up on all of TGTF’s coverage on The Divine Comedy, follow this link.

Wednesday 22nd November 2017 – Edinburgh Usher Hall
Thursday 23rd November 2017 – Leeds Academy
Friday 24th November 2017 – Birmingham Institute
Sat 25th November 2017 – Cardiff University Great Hall
Sunday 26th November 2017 – Bristol Colston Hall
Tuesday 28th November 2017 – Manchester Ritz
Wednesday 29th November 2017 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 30th November 2017 – Bournemouth Academy
Friday 1st December 2017 – Brighton Dome
Saturday 2nd December 2017 – Norwich LCR at the UEA
Monday 4th December 2017 – Cork Opera House
Tuesday 5th December 2017 – Limerick University Concert Hall
Wednesday 6th December 2017 – Derry Millennium Forum
Thursday 7th December 2017 – Belfast Ulster Hall
Friday 8th December 2017 – Dublin Olympia

 

RTÉ Choice Music Prize Awards Roundup

 
By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 12:00 pm
 

Earlier this month, I headed out to The RTÉ Choice Prize Awards at the jam-packed Vicar Street in Dublin 8, south of the Liffey. Arriving early, we grabbed ourselves a pint of Guinness’ Hop House 13 and took our seats in anticipation of an exciting, music-filled evening. During the course of the night, we were treated to a range of live performances, as well as the announcement of the winner of both the RTÉ Choice Music Prize single and album of 2016.

The first act of the night was Wallis Bird, whose yellow-white hair glowed onstage like a beacon of light. Bird captivated the audience with her heartfelt a capella as she stood alone onstage during ‘Home’, the title track of the album for which she was nominated. On another track, she banged against a microphone and used a loop pedal to create a rhythmic and organic backdrop for her incredible lungs. It was a raw and vulnerable performance. In a post-performance interview, Bird recounted the significance of ‘Home’ and living in the house where she first met her girlfriend.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmd3wDnRJpM[/youtube]

Next up was Bantum (Ruairi Lynch), nominated for his album ‘Move’, who I’d had the pleasure of seeing before at the Shortlist Sessions, but the last time I saw him he was alone onstage with his laptop and guitar. This time, he was joined onstage by the singers who feature on his tracks. The first track ‘Feel It Out’ featured Farah, and the second featured Loah and two backing singers on the song ‘Take It’. It made a huge difference with the singers being live, really fleshing out the music, and he looked like he was a lot more comfortable. After the performance, he discussed his love for funk sounds, and how the album was released completely independently.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky1xy600BKc[/youtube]

We Cut Corners, who I’d also seen at the Shortlist event, took to the stage next and played a hugely varied set in terms of tempo and sound. Nominated for their album ‘The Cadence of Others’ the duo confidently took to the stage to perform their tracks ‘Middle Kids’ and ‘Of Whatever’. Considering their smart and wonderfully wordy lyrics, you’d never guess the pair are teachers. At one point, the two stood side by side at the microphone, singing a capella with a smoky, moody spotlight allowing their voices to carry over the crowd. Then, at other times, Conall Ó Breacháin was banging one handed against a drum kit with one hand whilst John Duignan was strumming away at his guitar.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gl1sJLwtmUo[/youtube]

Next to the stage was indie legends and former winner of the Choice Prize, The Divine Comedy. Neil Hannon,sat at a piano to perform some tracks from his latest effort ‘Foreverland’, Divine Comedy’s 11th studio album, reviewed by editor Mary back here. He and his live band kicked off their three-song set with ‘Catherine the Great’, before playing the witty and evocative ‘How Can You Leave Me On My Own?’ and drawing a number of laughs from the audience.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehxil2jZiok[/youtube]

Following The Divine Comedy’s performance, the winner of the Song of the Year was announced. Unable to be there on the night, winners Picture This (winning for ‘Take My Hand’) had recorded a video accepting the award and thanking all who had voted from a studio in the States where they are recording their new album. You can listen to Carrie’s interview with Picture This in Austin after that recording experience here.

Lisa Hannigan then took to the stage. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t heard Hannigan sing live just how powerful, yet calming her voice is. Ethereal and waif-like, Hannigan seems to command the stage without really trying to draw attention. I’m trying not to sound like a super fan. Armed with a banjo on one track, and what I believe was a tabletop accordion on another, Hannigan’s album ‘At Swim’ (reviewed by Carrie here) was nominated for the Album of the Year, and she played a few tracks from the album, including the spooky and slow-marching ‘We, The Drowned’ and the folky ‘Undertow’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSnaQAv77JE[/youtube]

The sixth act of the evening was the all-in-black Katie Kim, nominated for her third studio album ‘Salt’, whose morose, moody sound I fell in love with right away. Standing at first with her guitar, then moving onto a keyboard, Kim’s unusual and rich sound filled the room, and in particular her tracks ‘Ghosts’ and ‘Day is Coming which are the first two tracks on the album. ‘Salt’ is an emotive and powerful piece of work, and seems even more incredible when considering Kim is a solo artist.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cspN1Zk3L7Q[/youtube]

A little different to Kim’s haunting melodies, eventual Album of the Year winners Rusangano Family (for ‘Let the Dead Bury the Dead’) virtually erupted into life and had the audience on their feet during their fast-paced set. The title track of their LP opens with the tolling of a funeral bell, before MCs God Knows and MuRli began to do what they excel at, capturing the crowd’s attention with their fast-paced and lyrical verses.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ap_P-poNuY[/youtube]

Rapping about Irish identity and asylum seekers, they engaged the crowd by dancing and jumping enthusiastically throughout the set, even joining the audience out on the floor, while DJ mynameisjOhn was at the decks. After just a few minutes of their performance, former TGTF contributor Tom turned to me and said, “I want these guys to win”.

RTE Choice Music Prize 2016 winners Rusangano Family

Then we had All Tvvins, the enigmatic indie pop duo Conor Adams and Lar Kaye, nominated for their album ‘IIVV’, which Adam reviewed back here. They started with the catchy ‘Thank You’, a track with a seriously addictive guitar hook. Up next they played ‘These 4 Words’, followed by ‘Darkest Ocean’, receiving huge cheers from the audience. Bouncing around the stage, the pair looked like they were having a great time.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6agMJjr2TK0[/youtube]

The final act of the night was Overhead the Albatross, nominated for their album ‘Learning to Growl’. An instrumental-only act, live they have what seemed like 6 million guitars, a drum set and a violin. They finished up with a well-earned standing ovation and certainly deserve some real props for making instrumental-only music so interesting and feel so accessible. I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t tell you what tracks from their nominated album were played, but they were certainly impressive with a mixture of funky rhythms, moments of slower paced violin solos, and with an evident passion for the music that they were playing.

All in all, we had a pretty spectacular night. It was great to catch a glimpse of what the all too underrated Irish music scene has too offer. Perhaps underrated isn’t the best term, as the people that I’ve spoken to in my newly adopted home can’t help but rave about the music that is out there by Irish artists. This is music too often under the radar in terms of the global picture aside from the occasional artist that will break through: Hozier jumps to mind here.

I can definitely say that I’m excited to see what’s in store for the future of Irish music, particularly now that I’m able to access more of it living on Irish soil. If the eclectic and talented mixture of music that I heard at Vicar Street is any indication of the variety of music there, then I’ve got high hopes for the music that I’m going to be discovering over the coming months (maybe even years) now that I’m rooted here in Dublin.

 

Album Review: The Divine Comedy – Foreverland

 
By on Wednesday, 31st August 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

The Divine Comedy Foreverland album coverNeil Hannon is often referred to as an “unlikely pop star”, and that’s fine by him. At the age of 45 and with an incredible 10 wit-filled albums under his belt as the guiding light of The Divine Comedy, not to mention his notable association with the incomparable Father Ted in the ’90s, the Northern Irish singer/songwriter should be allowed whatever sobriquet he wants. His most recent records have allowed him the latitude to lambast the rich (2010’s ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’) and indulge in his love of cricket through The Duckworth Lewis Method’s two albums in 2010 and 2012.

With ‘Foreverland’, which will be available starting this Friday, he’s chosen to focus in on his now domesticated life in Dublin. In Hannon’s words, “it’s about meeting your soul mate and living happily ever after… and then what comes after happily ever after”. The album seems to begin on an inexplicable note with ‘Napoleon Complex’. The catchy little number can’t be mistaken for anything else but a jab at himself for being a genius despite only being 5 foot 7. However, I like this as a start to an album, as it signals to the listener that you’re in for an enjoyable time and things aren’t likely to ever get too serious. Or are they?

There are two things that Neil Hannon has always done well with the Divine Comedy: a gentle grace, often accompanied with humour. The sweet-sounding title track follows the wee little Frenchman, the lilt in Hannon’s voice accompanied with restrained piano and flute and backing vocals, taking things down a notch in tempo. Hannon’s ‘Foreverland’ isn’t so much a physical place but a mental one you can reach when everything finally falls into place. For Hannon, this means living in a nice house with his wife Cathy Davey and enjoying being a dad. The journeys in life we take often prove arduous but in this song, Hannon offers solace that it does indeed exist: “everybody thinks it’s all lies / until they can see Foreverland”.

‘Funny Peculiar’ is an engaging duet between him and Davey, its simplistic nature managing to strike just the right balance of lovey-doveyness without being cloying. Of a similar disposition, ‘My Happy Place’ is a strange, albeit sweetly inoffensive entry. You’re left imagining Neil Hannon in the lotus position, trying to achieve zen. Do the Irish meditate? It’s difficult to picture. ‘Other People’ allows him a more believable angle. In his unique storytelling way, Hannon sings in this understated, soothingly orchestrated Broadway-style number the facts of being in a relationship later on life. There’s a resignation that partners have had lovers before and but this is for the best, as past lovers have made said partners better. Oh, and jealousy is an absurd waste of time.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4V7WBq72Gg[/youtube]

As mentioned previously, this album has droll wit down pat too, though perhaps in insufficient amount for the casual listener. In tuneful lead single ‘Catherine the Great’, he describes one of Russia’s greatest monarchs with the hilarious lyrics “She could defeat anyone that she liked / and she looked so bloody good on a horse / that they couldn’t wait for her to invade”. Exhibiting ELO and 10cc’s influences on this record, you can’t deny the silliness of stomper ‘How Can You Leave Me on Your Own’. Without his better half and left to his own devices, he’s useless, lost and prone to eating too many biscuits, and he’s not afraid to admit it.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehxil2jZiok[/youtube]

There is also additional heft to this album that might be missed in a cursory listen of it. While ‘The Pact’ could be viewed as a lightweight nod to the bond of marriage, I became convinced after reading this interview with European arts channel Arte that the song and the resolute ‘To the Rescue’ might have a political meaning. Last November, Hannon won the Oh Yeah Legend Award as part of Sound of Belfast 2015, noting in the interview that it was terrible what should have been a great day and honour was tainted by the Paris terror attacks that occurred the same day. While he’s not known to tackle heavy subjects regularly, I doff my cap to him.

While ‘Foreverland’ might not chart as highly as its predecessor ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’, this LP is Neil Hannon’s collective ode to finding ‘The One Who Loves You’. The person who will hold your hand into the sunset, while a banjo gaily jangles in the background. And Neil Hannon, firmly in the grip of middle age, is okay with that.

7.5/10

‘Foreverland’, the 11th Divine Comedy album helmed by Neil Hannon, will be released this Friday, the 2nd of September, on his own Divine Comedy Records. The tour to support this new album will begin in early October, on the 7th of October at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and continue through the end of the month, then start up again in February 2017 with a short run of dates that includes 2 nights at the London Palladium. Tour dates are listed here; for more of TGTF’s coverage on The Divine Comedy, follow this link.

 

Video of the Moment #2120: The Divine Comedy

 
By on Tuesday, 21st June 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

Ahead of the release of the eleventh album from The Divine Comedy, ‘Foreverland’, due out in September, Neil Hannon has revealed the promo video for lead single ‘Catherine the Great’. In a style usual to Hannon, he takes what might be a serious topic – the longest-ruling leader of Russia and from all accounts, not altogether a bad ruler in the grand scheme of things – and provides a cheeky commentary on the life of the enlightened despot. Try not to guffaw out loud like I did when you watch the video below. On second thought, let it all out. We all need a laugh every now and again, don’t we?

‘Foreverland’ will be released on the 2nd of September on Divine Comedy Records. Details to previously announced tour dates are listed here. For more on the Divine Comedy on TGTF, check out our coverage of Neil Hannon’s doings here.

[youtube]Http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4V7WBq72Gg[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

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.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

RSS Feed   RSS Feed  

Learn More About Us