Archives for category: Live

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

I’m sorry The Arches, but it’s not me – it’s you.

I can no longer stand near the front of your set without the music going fuzzy and ringing in my ears after 45 minutes. You put doors on at 7pm and despite me showing up at 8pm; a full hour after billing. There was no support or even a DJ set to get into while I waited for Omar to show up at 9pm. While I waited, I paid your mad over-inflated prices for the last time.
When he did show, he stuck around until 10pm – an hour’s worth of live music – for the Arabian princely sum of £15 (plus booking fee).

Despite the quality acts you put on, I don’t think I can afford to have another potentially awesome gig spoiled by you. It’ll take someone truly special for me to be back at your venue. We’re done.

Let’s move on to the music.

If you haven’t heard Omar Souleyman’s music, take a Syrian wedding singer and then add some beats and you’ve got the instant party from last night.

Listening to him live is exactly what you would expect – 100% boogeylicious! Up, down and side-to-side, Omar and his keyboardist took a sparse Saturday night crowd who had spent the majority of their evening waiting for him to appear, and moved it into motion.

However, as mentioned above, he did step off the stage after 45 minutes only to come back on stage for 15 minutes more before saying his abrupt farewell to the crowd, who were standing around waiting for a reappearance. In the face of his 5 album back-catalogue and wealth of songs to choose from, they had every right to be hoping for more. Souleyman’s appearance was sweet, but short.

If you see his name on live music listings and you need somewhere new to go to shake your thing to, Souleyman will provide a proper wee treat. If he sticks around longer next next time, you might even be able to make a night of it as a substitute for the regular pubs and clubs in Glasgow.


Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

“The bass, ROCKS! The drums, ROCK!” – Dick Knubbler, Dethklok producer before losing his eyes to sea pressure after being chased by a giant mutant sea horse. 

What’s it been, 12… 13 days since I saw this band? Their songs are still ringing in my ears. I don’t know what to say about a gig that was so… SO! 2 weeks on and I’m still struggling to find the words to describe how good they were.

I knew how good this gig was going to be weeks in advance and yet I was still suprised at how blown away I would be when it came.

The opening track, “Eunoia”, from their latest album echoed in and got everyone going nicely. I even got to start a wee clap along from the side of the small O2 ABC stage, belying how huge ASIWYFA’s sound would be. From there it was all a blur as the band showcased their new album almost in it’s entirety showing the strength of the record. If you haven’t already heard “All Hail Bright Futures” yet then Arnold has something to say…

In between the flurry of you-must-not-stop-jumping songs they managed to splice in massive tunes from earlier works like the back-to-back delight of  “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” and “Gangs” and even “S Is For Salamander”. If there was a moment in the set that saw less jumping it was during “Mend and Make Safe” and considering it’s my favourite track off the new work, I was jumping around on empty.

Like true showmen ASIWYFA saved the best bits for last. They returned to the stage for an encore beginning with the epic “Set Guitars To Kill” and climaxing with guitarist Rory Friers stepping into the crowd to be hoisted into the air by the maddening crowd on “The Voiceless”. That last stunt should never have worked and yet somehow they pulled everything off. Amazing, not a step wrong.

Stepping out of the venue, I staggered and chuckled my way through Glasgow with my gigging comrade. We were stunned. We talked about how the show was all about the music, all about dancing around, clapping, moving… just living. Right there. In that moment. Nothing else mattered.

It’s early yet but that was most likely the gig of my year. I’ve no idea how I’m going to top it.

Charlottefield, sadly now no longer together, make the best kind of horrible, grubby noise; the kind of music you imagine a serial rapist might listen to on a bad day. It’s hard to find their material anywhere now so you’re going to have to endure the full frontal nastiness of their live sound:

P.S. The drummer is amazing! This song doesn’t showcase him at his best but go find their other material and listen out for him.

I’ve finally got around to separating the musical content from onto this dedicated music-related blog. You’ll find all my past reviews below this post, so from here on in you’ll be getting fresh content on gigs that I’ve been to.

In the mean time, there were some other gigs that I had been to but hadn’t managed to cobble together a full review for. The main two were My Bloody Valentine at the Barrowlands and the Jagermeister Tour 2013 with Gojira and Ghost.

My Bloody Valentine impressed less than I expected. They floored the crowd with the anticipated wall of sound that they’re reknowned for (and handed out free earplugs before the gig to reinforce this) but rather than being able to focus on the music I was brought back time and again from a dream-like state to be awakened by really rude, ignorant morons in the crowd: people pushing through a really packed crowd constantly to go get beer instead of just listening to music, people storming past other crowd members to spill aforementioned beverages – it just wasn’t a good atmosphere and it really spoiled the gig. Instead of being wow’d by and impressed by the spectacle I found myself watching my back.

The Jagermeister Tour went down much better and for 5 quid, I struggled to see how it couldn’t! Gojira romped the stage just as much as they did the last time around I got the chance to see them and Ghost weren’t half bad either with their own brand of spectacle-over-music shenanigans.

Coming soon – a review for And So I Will Watch You From Afar at the O2 ABC2.

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

Unlike my last gig, this one took me a little by surprise and so I wasn’t nearly as prepared for it. With full time work and loads of outside commitments to my local games club keeping me busy, I didn’t look into the support act Blanck Mass.

So you could say I was a little surprised to find out from one of my two co-conspirators going to this gig that Fuck Buttons were playing! How could I not have known this?

This resolved itself relatively quickly once we arrived at the gig on a fresher, lighter than usual, Spring Saturday evening where we quickly spotted Blanck Mass tees at the merch stand and – guize srsly… srsly guize – £40 Sigur Rós hoodies. My word.

The Saturday night gigging, that I could get used to (particularly seeing as Kvelertak and My Bloody Valentine are both playing this coming Saturday – expect an upcoming review on the latter) but holee carp – The Prices! It had been a while since I’d had to attend an SECC gig but if there was any doubt, truly the moolah involved indicated that I had arrived.

4 quid for a pint – BANG! 4 quid more for a burger – horse meat no extra charge – BANG! BANG!…And the money is gone. Cillit Bang it ain’t.

The one cheap thing about the gig was the free set of ear protectors at the first-aid tent that I picked up in anticipation of walking into a wall of sound from the solo project of one of the founding members of Fuck Buttons and their ear destroying loop-based build ups.

I’m almost sad to say that I didn’t need them. I was just getting into Benjamin John Power’s hypnotic loops in spite of a lot of the power of the music fading out into the vast open acoustics of the hall (the SECC being designed more for trade shows and events than music shows) when, from my standing point 12 rows or so back, I started to hear the buzz of conversation behind me over the top of the music. It seemed that Blanck Mass didn’t succeed in capturing the attention of the audience.

With hindsight, I think that Blanck Mass were always going to be fighting a bit of an uphill battle with the crowd, what with the nature of the project and Benjamin being a one-man band behind a laptop with only a few visuals to entertain the crowd. That’s without looking at the music itself; it’s more the kind of thing that you might sit and listen to in a static environment like your house or on the commute to work than music you would want to dance, stand or even scratch your chin to. All the same, I don’t think Blanck Mass went down badly since the cheers when Mr Power finished his, “one long track” (as one of my co-conspirators put it) were much louder than the odd boo you could hear coming from the back of the crowd.

If there was anything I felt boo’ing about, it was the one hour and thirty minute wait before any sign of an act came on prior to Blanck Mass. I’m always really disappointed when bands open doors early (6.30pm in this case) only for them to keep keener fans waiting around. It made me all the more glad that I hadn’t attended this one alone and I managed to chat everything music and gaming with two good friends during that time. I feel for anyone who was caught waiting around with little to do.

Moving on to the good stuff though, headliners Sigur Rós were sublime. They were greeted with a couple of exuberant screams and yells which were laughed off by most of the crowd as the band meandered into the set.

Filling the stage with approximately 10 or so players, they played the risky gambit of opening with two new tracks from an as yet unreleased album and although I don’t think it really drew the crowd in as opening with a classic might have, it allowed us to focus on the visual spectacle of the light show they put on which involved a large see-through curtain, which caught light displays of icy landscapes and frozen effects. The aforementioned Blanck Mass also took advantage of this unique set-up but to less startling effect.

It wasn’t until 3 long tracks in when we were greeted with the moody, atmospheric, bass-driven classic “Ný Batterí”. The track set the tone for the gig both in mood and effect.

While “Ný Batterí” set the gig off on a low, darker point, with “Vaka” and “E-Bow” adding to that atmosphere, half-way through I noticed how the band picked up the tone to a lighter and in some cases, ecstatic mood with long-awaited Takk album tracks, “Hoppípolla” and “Glósóli” eventually making appearances. My memories of “Svefn-g-englar” from the gig are particularly poignant, perhaps highlighted by the light bulbs around the set chiming in time to the sonar-like sound throughout the song adding to my memory and rounding off the spine-tinglingly beautiful enders.

Popplagið” closed the set off perfectly by encapsulating those beautiful moments that were towards the end of the set, only to pick up to a climactic fever-pitch in which the band displayed perhaps what was the closest they get to ‘heavy’, reminding us of the mood that they had set earlier.

The number of songs referred to above in the last 2 paragraphs does nothing to exemplify just how many strong, strong songs the band have in a star-studded back catalogue of tunes. Some how, I had actually forgotten Sigur Rós amongst all the other bands that I’ve been listening to over the past couple of years despite instantly needing to hear more of them after being linked to the “Glósóli” video over 10 years ago now.

More so than anything Sigur Rós live are a spectacle of a different stripe than I’m used to. Where I’ve seen crazy shows that blow your mind from the metal and punk spectrum or sheer volume from the likes of drone bands, the Icelandic band are more of a musical powerhouse, which their front man, Jónsi exemplified more than anything as the clear star of the show. Whether he was opening tracks with his trademark violin bow and guitar to create sweeping soundscapes that would make the likes of Boris green with envy or spotlighted on stage holding unreplicatable falsetto notes for impossible periods of time, he demonstrates that he can push boundaries further than us mere mortals.

As if to test him, in the final track, “Popplagið”, mentioned above, he faced technical difficulties with his guitar as it appeared to cut out only for him to continue on and power through the vocal section of the track until the guitar managed to fix itself. Star power: activated.

Since it’s Wendesday and already 4 days after the gig, quite a few other reviewers have got to reviewing this ahead of me. I really appreciate their input and getting feedback on their views as it helps me come to my own conclusions just that little bit more readily.

However, one review stands out to me – mostly because I agree with it on just about everything except one issue. The Glasgow Herald wrote this review, inferring that Sigur Rós didn’t connect with the audience.

Although the reviewer accepts that they don’t really need to – that’s not what the band do – at least not in a traditional sense any way, they suggest that perhaps taking an hour to greet the crowd might have caused a disconnection. Having seen bands who simply do not greet their listeners at all, I don’t think this was the issue at all.

If there was a flaw to be addressed in the set, I feel that the airy venue of the SECC caused the disconnection between band and audience: massive, climactic moments simply weren’t quite what they could’ve been if the band’s music had filled the room as it should have. As a result, a band who are known to produce albums that give audiophiles wet dreams had a diminished effect.  The same could be said for Blanck Mass who were similarly hampered. If the Glasgow Herald was correct in this, we wouldn’t be seeing the heaps and heaps of praise being poured upon the band for this gig around the Internet as we are now. Go take a look!

Now for some of those visuals:

(First posted on on 04/12/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

Awesome: 5 out of 5, 10 out of 10 and brϋtal with an umlaut. End of story – review = done!

How lame would that be if I ended a review of one of the best gigs I’ve been to in a very long time that way?

And what a gig it was set to be. Instead of making the mistake I made with Gojira, I remembered my boy scout days and got prepared; arming myself with knowledge of how the support acts would sound and which ones to get in early to see, creating a set list of recently played Converge gigs and getting plenty of listens to their tunes. If I hadn’t prepared this way, I wouldn’t have known what songs the headliners would have played to be prepared to jump around to and I wouldn’t have discovered… well, I’ll get to that later – I’m getting ahead of myself.

With a line-up of 4 acts and a 6:30pm start ahead of me I had decided to get in early. After liking what I had seen of Jacob Bannon’s art, I knew that I wanted to buy up some Converge merch and went to the nearby Crystal Palace for some grub with the aim of getting in early. I left the pub at 6:10pm with the intention of getting chewing gum and to doss around in Waterstones and other nearby shops only to see that there was already a queue forming outside the Classic Grand.

Did the people in the queue know something that I didn’t? Were they queuing up because the first act was due to begin at 6:30pm? I was pretty sure Touché Amore were first because they were named first on the ticket and on and after the week that I had just had, I really could’ve done with jumping around to the aforementioned tracks from their album “Parting the Sea of Brightness and Me”. I bowed to the pressure and joined the queue.

As I got in, I had loads of time to get my bags in the locker room and change from my Coheed and Cambria hoodie from last week into a newly bought Converge hoodie fresh from the merch table. I took my place near the front of the venue with some other members of the crowd in anticipation for the band listed at the front of the ticket to see that there was no barrier between the crowd and the band – aw yeah boi! Proper gig to the max! After my initial excitement, to my surprise and with a half-full venue, The Secret were first up.

I hadn’t heard of them before and couldn’t find much about them online when I was preparing for the gig, so I probably shouldn’t have been all that surprised that they played first. All the same, they broke in my ears with their dark, broody, metal-infused sound. I’ve heard it said that the first three songs of any opening act are pretty much a write-off and it certainly felt that way with The Secret, not because of their performance, but simply because I was trying to watch the drummer and follow where the music was going. However, that didn’t stop those around me at the front from head banging along to the rapid drumming. Despite a certain intensity to the band, what with the front man giving long stares into the crowd while screaming in our faces from within striking distance and the long pauses between songs being broken up only by droning bass or guitar lines followed by more white-eyed gawping, the crowd took to them very well with cheers going up for them towards the end of their set as the room filled out more. For me, that a half-packed crowd would cheer for a band that few of them had likely heard of was a testament that the crowd was a good one. My gut instincts would be proven right as the night progressed.

By that point, I was pretty certain that A Storm of Light were up next. From my preliminary listens, I wasn’t especially taken with them despite similarities and (historically) sharing members with the mighty Red Sparrowes. I took my place at the back of the Classic Grand and parked my ass on a kind of mezzanine area near the sound booth, which was probably the one move that ensured I’ll have my hearing when I hit my 40s.

Holy shit were they loud. The band came on with different looped videos of different riot scenes and vocal checks. As they warmed up, I couldn’t quite tell if we had a maestro guitar tech on our hands (until I realised that all of the bands did their own checks – respect to them) or if they had begun to play tunes – at least that was until they kicked in as a 4-piece and almost took my eardrums with them. It felt like there was no escape from the noise in the small venue! For all my preparation, I had forgotten ear plugs.

Back to the music though: like many of their contemporaries (Godspeed You! Black Emperor came to mind), A Storm Of Light kept things quiet in between songs and didn’t do the whole crowd interaction schtick, with perhaps the exception of the odd video clip or sound byte to introduce songs. All in though, personally I was left unimpressed by the slow roar of the band’s apocalyptic musings but the crowd gave them a motionless, yet warm reception so maybe we’ll be hearing more from them in the future?

As artistic and experimental as Converge are I didn’t come to one of their gigs to stand still and neither did the younger members of the crowd it seemed; you could visibly see the age demographic of the crowd split as members of Touché Amore came to the front to sound check. Well, them and the solitary post-hardcore grandpa at the front of the venue at this point – I swear, one of these days I’ll stop doing gigs on a school night. As I took my place with the youngsters my paternalistic feelings came out as I saw some of the youngsters in their knitted hats up the front where the barriers should’ve been and couldn’t help wondering how they would manage in the heat when the jumping started.

And start it did. As Touch Amore opened up with scream-along “~” hair and bobble-hats alike  started bouncing as far as I could see from where I was at the front. A gap between those who weren’t really up for jumping around opened up while those who wanted to surged forward only for some to land on the stage, turn and jump off and back into the crowd. The youthful set pogo’d into a blur of 18-19 songs of pure delight. Despite guitar faults on the ethereal introduction on “Home Away From Here” I still went nuts for it.  I’ll admit that I couldn’t have hoped to have screamed along with all the words to even a majority of the songs, but it really didn’t matter; Touché Amore gave me the opportunity to move my feet and that was all I needed – nothing else mattered.

It was only afterwards that I realised that a large segment of the crowd had sat back and it was then that I met my co-conspirator for this gig who had some criticisms of Touché’s crowd banter – notably their pause to tell us how “Glasgow is the greatest city in the world” what with our amazing music scene (hmm, it’s no quite New York or Tokyo mate) and how great our city was (try living in it…) which to be fair, did come off as a bit disingenuous; if you have to cite Belle and Sebastian at an alternative metal/punk gig to tell us how good our musicians are then our musicians of those genres are simply not cutting the mustard. For the record FUCK BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, FUCK THAT ONE SONG OF THEIRS!. Big-upping Mogwai was a great shout though. While we’re name checking though feel free to check out the lesser known Amongst The Arrows, the defunct Take A Worm For A Walk Week or even the Edinburgh-based Boards of Canada for a start on alternative Scottish bands you might be interested in if you like Mogwai or any of the bands at this gig.

All of that hot air said and done, if I’m going to critique a band, it’s going to be on the music and not on their opinions and Touché Amore did a damn fine job of getting the crowd going and giving me an exciting reason to be at the gig early beyond scoffing merch up. After getting a taste of the new material they played 3 or 4 tracks from the end, I’m pretty excited for their new music and hope they pick up lots of new followers through it. Had the gig ended there I would’ve been pretty damn chuffed. Good job lads and come back soon.

But wait, there’s more! Converge front man, Jacob Bannon, popped out to do some warm-ups while the rest of the band completed a quick sound-check and off we went into the breach with Jane Doe’s “Concubine”. By this point I was half done-in from jumping around to Touché Amore and just being plain old, overweight and out of shape – so I waited around. Truth be told, I was really waiting to lose my shit for the next track which was another album opener: Axe To Fall’s “Dark Horse”. By this point it felt like most of the crowd were in jumping around and pitting and the atmosphere was that of a ‘big boys’ or adult gig. Truly, the heavyweights had arrived.

Despite people throwing themselves around and non-stop crowd-surfing I never felt that there was an atmosphere of anger or tension between the people throwing down in the pit or landing on others’ heads, which most bands and venues simply struggle to replicate; it felt like a community of people there for the same reason, watching out for one another while pulling crazy stunts you just don’t see at other gigs. Anything could happen but you knew you could get out of the kitchen if it got too hot – or alternatively, just take your bobble hat off.

Bannon’s short pauses about every three tracks to give quick-fire exchanges of wit with the audience helped with that, as did the crowd’s knowledge of what to expect as they chanted for “Trespasses” when the front man tested if they knew which track was coming next on the fifth song in. For me, it was that knowledge of what to expect from a band I didn’t previously know as well as I should have that was so integral to my enjoyment of the gig. So much so, that I think I’ll need to try and do this for every future show I go to.

And yet, in spite of my geeking out over their music and studying it beforehand, I wasn’t expecting “Sadness Comes Home” to be such a big tune. The ability for a band to surprise you when you’ve been listening to them non-stop for over a week, over a decade perhaps – is the mark of a great live performance and one that will make me go back and listen to them again and again. It’ll come as no surprise that I’m listening to that very track right now.

It was an amazing, amazing gig and one that’ll have me listening to Converge again and again – from the 4-5 tracks of new material that they played during the course of this gig, to the closer “Saddest Day” from 1996’s Petitioning the Empty Sky. Simply.Superb.

As a side note, I heard that there was another metal gig in town that night. How could two musicians who have seen the best of their career pass them by performing at the SECC ever compare to this? I read reviews on that particular gig and from what I heard, it didn’t.

See you next time Converge come around.

The Secret

A Storm Of Light

Touche Amore


(First posted on on 26/11/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

In the lead up to Converge and their amazing support act line-up coming on Wednesday, I wasn’t really as up for this one as I could’ve been. It was my first time in Oran Mor and the west end venue meant that I would have to power-walk 25-30 minutes to get back in time to reach my last train home in the centre of town. That’s not to mention the gig landed on a Sunday and I have a big week lined up ahead of me, both at work and in my personal life. Then my laptop died on me on the Saturday before and I almost never bothered to show up. Ho-hum!

But my circumstances weren’t the only barrier to my excitement for Dirty Three. You’d think I’d have been jumping at the chance to see them considering my short, sharp introduction to the band. After that gig, I listened to the band over and over and simply failed to capture the experience I had in listening to them live. No shivers went up my spine and I if anything I just felt truly morose while listening to them on different public transport journeys; nothing like the uplifting peaks and climaxes that I remembered at the show.

I had tried to punt my ticket over Facebook without success and decided that I would head along any how. Fuelled by Touche Amore in preparation for Wednesday, I really wasn’t in the right mindset for this one.

However, I did manage to get a sneaky listen to Zun Zun Egui a week or so beforehand and was pretty impressed with them to the point where I considered picking up an album at the gig, especially for the title track “Katang” After hearing their record and reading some online reviews praising their hipster chic, I had concluded that if anything they reminded me of Frank Zappa.

After seeing their short live set though, my opinion changed from seeing them as more than just an ode to the legend (whom I still struggle to really get into – more listens for me required). The stage lights came up, leaving me with the impression that they were just about every band from the 80s ever, combined into one fantastic orchestrated mess with choral, almost African-like folk singing over the top – good stuff all in all. They’re a great wee band that I’m hoping to see do well. I hope they produce a lot more music but, at the same time, they left the crowd digesting what had just been played rather than feeling awed or excited. I’d be glad to see them in the support slot again.

And I don’t think Oran Mor helped in that. It was my first time in the venue beyond a work Christmas function some years ago and the first thing that hit me were rainbow murals and Christian messages scattered all the way up to the rafters in the tall ceiling – presumably left-over from the time when the building was a church. Stylistically, it meant that the venue was pretty apt looking for the ϋber-indie All-Tomorrow’s-Parties type bands that were playing but the tall ceiling meant that the drums drowned out a lot of the guitaring, piano, keyboard and violin of both bands on the set list from where I was standing.

In the short interlude, I didn’t have much time to worry about when the headliners were going to show, or how quickly I’d have to leave to get to my train on time, as without any audible queues beyond a quick whoop from the crowd, Warren Ellis and his filthy trio of noise-makers had arrived.

The memories I had of the original live show returned to me pretty quickly, as I’d forgotten how well Warren was able to talk to a crowd in an intimate environment with a whimsical, nonsensical candour that came across at times like a rock-and-roll grandfather telling stories of his glory days – not making any sense while remaining equal parts enviable, hilarious and inspiring. Every song was introduced at length, to the point where Mick Turner and Jim White had begun playing the next song to try and have Ellis hurry up and get on with it. Like any good storyteller, he wouldn’t be rushed, sometimes to the point of frustration – particularly later on in the set.

Then they would open up with a slow building song and the shivers up my spine had come back, and I remembered what it was like to hear Dirty Three for what they really are; exclusively as a live experience. The recorded music doesn’t capture the expression and strength of every drum-pound or the strength of plucked violin strings. Openers, “Rain Song” and “Sometimes I Forget What You’ve Done” stood out to me, while the crowd saved their cheers for “The Pier” and “The Restless Waves” where the latter saw Ellis interrupt his violin playing to gurn and pose on top of a speaker-stack.

Again, Oran Mor’s acoustics marred the show as I really couldn’t hear the guitar lines and lost some of the expression in the quieter moments of the violin as the drums echoed and pounded over the top of everything. Thankfully, Jim White makes the instrument his own and that in and of itself was interesting enough to listen to but… not a venue I’ll be excited to come back to, particularly if it means cutting a gig short like I had to.

In summary, I feel the same way I do about Dirty Three as I do about most bands of their genre – they can be hit or miss. As with Mono last year, I felt that a number of variables could mess up the show, whether it’s a crappy support act or venue issues. Again, like Mono, I’d be happy to see them as a larger set of bands or at a festival (All Tomorrow’s Parties springs to mind again) but I’d be risking getting my money’s worth out of the ticket price if I saw them as headliners of a small show like this one again.

(First posted on on 15/11/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

A glance at the ticket in the morning to ensure that I have the correct O2 venue this time and… wait, what’s this? Doors 6.30pm? On a Friday?!  This requires further investigation.

As with my Gojira gig, I hadn’t managed to get a listen to Coheed and Cambria‘s latest effort “The Afterman: Ascension” but quickly remedied that thanks to some Youtube listening at work and holy shit are they back! The title track holds up to the likes of “Feathers” while “Key Entity Extraction I: Domino the Destitute”  is sure to stand out as a long-term fan favourite,  while the rest of the ‘Key Entity’ series on the album adds a crunchy, heaviness that was only ever really hinted at through the likes of “We Are Juggernaught” and “Welcome Home” on previous albums. If I wasn’t sure about this gig beforehand, I was now!

And what’s more, a cursory glance at Setlistfm revealed that despite the fact that there was only one support in Fighting With Wire, the 6.30pm start was an indicator of some truly epic news: in their previous gigs in London, the headliners played an accoustic set before unleashing a full regular set. THIS was the Coheed and Cambria I missed when I saw them in Tokyo, where Claudio himself was looking at the crowd’s complete silence after their polite claps and shrugging his shoulders only to make cactus blowing motions with his hands and over the mic (it’s a cultural thing dude, don’t sweat it).

I also had a look at the support and unfortunately their music just never really grabbed me and so I didn’t mind heading in until 7pm where I caught the last half of their set, picked up a hoody from the headliners for 35 quid and bought a cider and blackcurrant for £3.70 – ouch! I’m glad to support the band though, if not the venue.

But unfortunately, things did not bode well. Not unlike Tokyo, I was stuck behind two staggering, beer-guzzlers and although they were less obnoxious than Captain America from that particular festival, I swore to myself I wouldn’t allow anyone like that to ruin my gigs in future and so, I ventured further into the crowd. Normally this wouldn’t be so noteworthy but as I motioned through there was a noticeable change in the demographic as I slid through 25-35 year olds and couples at the back into the mostly teenage throng at the front. Although, I was really happy to see the diversity of fans that Coheed and Cambria have picked up over the years I couldn’t help but feel a little old…

All differences were cast aside when Claudio Sanchez took to the stage alone with an acoustic guitar and started to belt out “Pearl of the Stars” for what felt like the whole room to sing along with every word he put out. He was soon joined by the rest of the band and as they folded in behind him, I hoped for “A Favour House Atlantic” since it was a song a listened to a lot when I missed my girlfriend when I was abroad. And true enough, there it was, second song on the list. Good times.

Truly a fantastic set. “Mother Superior” and Wake Up” were tracks that I would skip or not give much attention to when listening through their albums (so much so that I was suprised that I remembered most of the words to sing along with them) but hearing them again gave me new pause to focus attention on them, just as Gojira had done with their live show only 3 days prior.

And yet there was so much more to come. The band returned to the stage with more of a fan fare at 8.30pm for their full set, which included old stalwarts like “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial)”, “Everything Evil” and of course “Welcome Home” all the while throwing in new hits periodically without smothering the set with them like bands promoting a new album are often prone to doing. Personally, I came for “Here We Are Juggernaut” and I wasn’t disappointed despite feeling like a bit of a juggernaut myself amongst the younger crowd as I threw my head back upon hearing the opening riff and started jumping.

Speaking of bouncing, the one noteworthy vibe I got from the gig compared to previous ones was that it was less bouncy than I remember Coheed ever being – perhaps due to the evolution in direction they’ve had from punky routes to an increasingly showy, progressive feel. I don’t think the band have suffered for it, as we saw with fans young and old singing from the same hymn sheet for the acoustic set: it’s just a little different to the band I got into back when “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth – 3” was released.

Naturally, if they come back, I’ll be there to see them again but this time I hope that they return to Scotland – not to promote a new album, but simply to come and play music. You could argue that they did just that with this gig but to my mind there are just so many songs that they don’t seem to play very often any more that deserve recognition in their own tour.

How amazing would that be? A tour comprised of songs based purely on the tunes that get the highest votes from an online vote… stranger things could happen – Coheed and Cambria have been and will always be a band of possibilities.

Acoustic Music:

Regular set:

(I think I’m right behind the camera on this particular video)

(First posted on on 11/11/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

Man, my neck hurts; it’s been too long. I’ve missed a few gig reviews on this blog like last week’s Bloc Party amongst others but now that I’m working again I’ve got more time to focus on blog updates instead of searching like crazy for jobs. The other upshot is that I can also go to a lot more gigs, which this ought to be the first review of what looks to be many. Enough padding, enter the destructive mammoth hybrid of technology and nature, Gojira

The last, and only time, I saw them was at the Barras supporting In Flames and it was the only gig that I have ever went to see the support band exclusively and not stuck around to see the main act. Why? Well, Gojira are a pretty hard act to follow. Between bone-crushing heaviness punctuated by off-the-wall drum rhythms, punch-along guitar screeches and vocals that just sound painful to produce from a band with ridiculous, unfailing talent coming from all corners of the 4-pillars of the band, you’d need to have a pretty special line-up to have people stick around to see the rest of the program that they weren’t at the top of. At the Barras, I only got to see a condensed version of what they had on offer and even there they managed to squeeze in a 5 minute drum solo.

This time, I was out for the full thing and that was in spite of having not heard their latest work and fifth studio album, “L’Enfant Sauvage”, so I had a minor worry that I wouldn’t know much of the material that they were going to play as I entered the venue. Klone took those concerns from me as I caught the last three songs of their set. As such, I can’t offer much of an opinion of them, but what I did hear reminded me of metal in the 90s and the rise of nu-metal and to me they came across as a less progressive, less inspiring Tool. However, they put a big smile on my face as I really never thought I’d hear Björk at a metal gig and was pleasantly surprised when they played an “Army of Me” cover to end their set.

From big smiles to bigger smiles with groove metal (or whatever other sub-genre in the ever growing sea of sub genres you want to label them as) on the cards from Trepalium in the Garage’s all French line-up. When they opened up with their first track, red back-lighting and significant output from a smoke machine, I wasn’t originally taken with them; at the time, I thought that they took a while to get into things and the first guitar solo almost felt like an afterthought. The crowd was tellingly sparse too. However, three tracks later and the slow start had become an afterthought – the closest thing I had heard to Trepalium before was probably… I dunno, Pantera? And even so, I had no idea that anything comparable to the creators of ‘Cowboys from Hell’ could be even remotely jazzy. Some of the crowd really liked it too and after a small, bouncy pit and cries of anguish as they announced their last song, they left with some new fans. Now, having heard them, I’d gladly go see them in the support role again. Time for me to get listening to their albums methinks… But not before listening to “L’Enfant Sauvage”, which I’m doing right now.

I small part of me regrets not having listened to it before going out to see them as I wasn’t able to throw myself into their new songs as much as I did their old favourites like “Backbone”, “Wisdom Comes” and “Toxic Garbage Island” but a larger part of me is glad I didn’t. Discovering the new songs like “The Axe” and that holy shit… moment I had upon first hearing the fading conclusion to the song made me realise why I go to gigs all over again; to rediscover music.

The last time that I had listened to Gojira must have been in 2009 or so when I managed to get a hold of a physical copy of their debut, Terra Incognita. As a result, I was hanging onto the hope that they would play songs like “Love”, knowing futilely that they were unlikely to play many, if any, tracks off an album that was produced over a decade ago.

However, upon exiting the gig, I realised that Gojira didn’t need to rely on those tracks. They have continued to create amazing album after amazing album. Reknowned for their flawless live performances in this, their six hundred and sixty sixth gig, having rarely put a foot wrong in all that time, they go from strength to strength. The crazy, tribal drum solos to showcase Mario Duplantier’s skill on the skins were still there as were the trademark screeching slides of the guitars spliced with neck-breaking heaviness. For a band to reinvent that formula 5 times over and then blow away your expectations again and again really takes something.

As a quick side-note, take a look at their Lastfm stats: you’ll notice that as of writing this, their most played songs are ones mostly ones from their latest albums.

What their stats won’t show is that this translates live too. They were truly sublime. If you like Gojira, hell, if you like metal at all, and you didn’t find a reason to go to this then you missed out in a big way. If, no… when Gojira come back to Glasgow, you really, really need to be there. Old fan or first time listener – go (re)discover them.

The live footage of the gig below gives you a taste of what you missed. My Coheed and Cambria gig coming up three days after the Gojira one had a lot to live up to…

Now for the live footage:

And a 40 minute corker:

(First posted on on 13/03/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question.

“nos·tal·gi·a  n. 1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.”

I was a little late to the Presidents of the United States party – don’t get me wrong just about anyone of a certain age has at least heard “Peaches” and can sing along to the refrain or wax nostalgic about the ninjas in the video – as could I, but I didn’t start listening to them on repeat until a friend of mine out in Japan reintroduced me to their self-titled album. After that I got a hold of their other material but never really knew where to go with it and what albums to listen to and so I ended up on settling for the smile-along, sing-along adventures of small animals on their original record. After one listen too many I could’ve sworn that album was a concept album…

And then they put on this gig. Sah-WEEEEEEEEET!

As I arrived, there was a support band. Moving on…

The crowd was about half-full, perhaps reflecting the timing of the Sunday evening event or just the nature of a band that released their biggest album over 15 years ago. The band arrived with a quirky voice-over with what I imagine were in-jokes and references to things I didn’t quite get (“Razzle Magazine?”) but had everyone cheering and laughing before they had set foot on the stage.

The first 5 or 6 songs or so were a showcase of material from other albums and as I was sitting at the back of the crowd mostly seemed to be sitting watching the performance without too much interaction beyond some laughs at comments about repealing a jazz tax that they had just set – a reference to the bluesy jazz music they had playing in between sets which came as an “additional extra – no charge!”.

The band’s interaction was good humoured enough but I felt slightly like I had just entered a Christian rock band gig with the odd sweary word thrown in for good measure. I had been promised their eponymous debut album and was starting to wonder if I had been successfully trolled by someone on Lastfm who had said they would play the full album.

Then singer, bassist and general all-star of the show, Chis Ballew made an announcement a little something like this: “[How rude of us. We haven’t even mentioned our self-titled album. We’re gonna play it from start to finish now,]” at which point the first 4-8 rows of the crowd just started pogo-ing and I was compelled to join them from my place at the back of the ABC. Said jumping lasted from the grunge-era fuelled “Kitty” and with its cowbells and backing singer-lead meowing until The Presidents ended the first part of their set. This main part of the gig was accompanied by the majority of the crowd singing EVERY word of EVERY song.

After checking a setlist website, I can now confirm that that was precisely 15 songs of middle-aged bouncers with massive smiles on their faces jumping up and down, singing along all the while. Even the quiet songs like “Body”, an ode to a salamander and a frog, had a cat’s choir of fans jumping around on invisible trampolines.

The earlier Christian-rock like banter had slowed down for the most part and the band got on with playing and the odd piece of interaction as the crowd reacted to Presidents’ own-brand cure for the back-to-work Sunday blues. Although appointing stand-out tracks doesn’t really do the Presidents justice; everyone I could see from the front sang and danced to every song. Stand-outs included more bouncing from “Lump”, the funk of “Boll Weevil” and of course, the point where I remember my legs giving out – the end of “Peaches”. I’ve since added “Go back to judo and LOSE SOME DAMN WEIGHT!” to my Things To Do List.

I had come and done what I’d come to do by the time they left the stage before returning for an encore. After getting my fill of their first album performed live, I resumed my place at the back of the crowd again for the encore. They returned to the stage to play material from more of their albums and of that I really enjoyed the jazz factor of the 2nd song from closing, “Froggy” which has since given me reason to go back and listen to their other material again.

I suspect the gig gave a rare but very satisfying Monday morning to those who had to wake up early for work the next day, or in my case the job centre. For me, The Presidents of the USA rewrote the meaning of the word of nostalgia – there wasn’t anything bittersweet about the experience at all. Here’s hoping they come back again soon and this time with some solid support!

I’m lacking any proper footage of the gig so here’s the aforementioned ninja fighting antics of “Peaches”: