8 November 2007
I’ve been busy going to quite a few gigs recently, so here’s a summary post of the last four I’ve been to. Sorry it’s another long post. I really should learn to write and publish these things straight after the event...
Klaxons – Wednesday 10th October 2007
You may have read in my previous post that while we were in Canada last month, we went to see Klaxons at The Opera House. It was touch-and-go whether we got to see them though. First of all, we went to the wrong venue. Then we heard people in the queue saying that it had sold out. And then the door staff thought that Suzy didn’t look nineteen and reckoned they couldn’t let us in without any ID. Anyway, for some reason they changed their minds and let us in after we explained that we were just stupid Brits who didn’t usually take our passports to gigs.
After a bit of waiting around, support band OPOPO appeared on stage and played some of their crazy disco house punk tunes. This isn’t really my kind of music, but I thought these three lads from Toronto were pretty good; they certainly know how to have a good time on stage and definitely made sure the audience knew what they were called and knew how to find them online. (Young British bands, take a leaf out of OPOPO’s book!) My personal favourite of their set was the song where the lead singer was shouting something about his computer having a virus. Since he’d been playing samples from his MacBook and some loud noise was now filling the venue, I thought for a moment he might have been serious. Turns out it was one of their tunes called Computer Menace... I think...
It seems like Klaxons mustn’t be that big in Canada yet as this place seemed pretty small – probably not even one thousand capacity – which always makes a more intimate gig. Since we got there early so we could buy our tickets, we were right at the front of the queue and first into the venue, so we were two rows from the front too. In total contrast to gigs in the UK, there was no barrier or security between the crowd and the stage. And they served alcohol in glass bottles.
I hadn’t listened to much Klaxons stuff before this gig and there was a strange mix of people in the crowd too, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew some of their tunes – like Golden Skans, Gravity’s Rainbow and It’s Not Over Yet – but I’d not listened to their album. Not knowing all the tunes can sometimes make a gig less enjoyable, but not in this case because Klaxons know how to get a crowd going and play some amazing music.
For some reason, something quite simple that’s always impresses me is when band members swap instruments for different songs. Jamie Reynolds and James Righton exchange bass guitar and keyboard between some of their songs and also switch who sings lead vocals, which really helps to bring a bit of variation into the set. Admittedly, some of the tracks weren’t really to my taste, but that didn’t spoil the gig at all. (Which is more than can be said for Ash... see below.)
I’ve now been listening to their album quite a bit since we got back. Apart from a couple of dodgy tracks, I’d say this is probably one of my most favourite albums this year.
Editors – Monday 22nd October 2007
I’d only been back from Canada for the weekend and then I had another gig to go to on the Monday, this time at The University of Sheffield’s Octagon Centre, a venue where I’ve been to club nights, seen bands play, sat my university exams and attended my graduation. Anyway...
To be honest, I’m a bit of a late-comer to Editors. Even Chris Riley – who has very little decent musical knowledge and still thinks that The Stones Roses, Guns N’ Roses and Rolling Stones are the same band – was listening to them almost two years ago. I knew he’d be up for seeing them live, so I thought I’d give them a go seeing as though I liked their strong single releases which I’d heard on the radio. And I’m glad I did.
These guys sound great live; their tight drum beats, clean guitar melodies and faultless vocals really mean they own the stage and the audience. Although being able to watch the lead guitarist made me realise how little he appears to do (i.e. lots of arpeggiated picking without really moving his fingers) but his riffs and licks are perfect and help to give Editors their unique sound almost as much as Tom Smith’s vocals do, so I can’t really fault him. Anyway, I thought the entire show was amazing. There’s no need to just take my word for it either, because you can read what Chris thought about the gig on his blog.
So, Editors rock. It’s official.
Ash – Thursday 25th October 2007
Three days later and I was back in Octagon to see Ash. I wouldn’t really say that I’m an Ash fan, but I used to listen to their stuff in the mid-to-late 1990s and thought it would be good to see them live. (In fact, I’d completely forgotten until we left the gig that I’d seen them a couple of years ago when they were supporting The Darkness who were on their first arena tour at the time.)
Ash released a new album earlier this year, so they obviously played quite a bit of new stuff to help promote it. Unfortunately, I thought that most of the songs I didn’t recognise were all a bit rubbish. Perhaps I should’ve listened to the new album before the gig, just in case there were some “growers” in there, but you shouldn’t really need to do that if the songs are half decent in the first place.
Also, I couldn’t help thinking that the gig was all about Tim Wheeler (lead vocals and lead guitar). I know there are only three of them in the band and he writes all the songs, but he had a spotlight on him for pretty much the entire gig and liked to go off on his own doing some overly long guitar solos. Don’t get me wrong, I love overly long guitar solos when they’re played in the right place at the right time, but these just seemed to unnecessarily prolong songs and meant I was more tired at work the day after the gig that I should have been.
I thought 1977 was a really good album, but perhaps I’m just relating the songs on that album with my college days (particularly the “Sick Party” hidden track at the end of the CD). I enjoyed those songs at the gig, so it was a shame about the rest...
The Pigeon Detectives – Saturday 3rd November 2007
Although I originally thought this gig was going to be in the Foundry at the Student Union, we ended up back in the Octagon again for the third time in two weeks. Thankfully this gig wasn’t on a school night though!
I’d actually bought tickets for this gig before I was properly aware of any songs by The Pigeon Detectives. Having listened to a few samples on iTunes, Suzy bought me the album for my birthday in July and I’ve been listening to it ever since. This is now another one of my most favourite albums this year.
One of the great things about The Pigeon Detectives is that you can actually tell what they’re singing, which means you can sing (or shout) along when you see them live. Of course, if you’re going to sing along, you should really get down the front and jump around at the same time. However, despite Coco Riley claiming that he “might even attempt a mosh” at this gig, I couldn’t convince him to get down the front to get all sweaty and squashed with me and Jo.
If I had to use just one word to describe what The Pigeon Detectives were like on stage, I would have to say: “Energetic!” I think there’s something about a classic five-piece band – i.e. lead vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass guitar and drums – where the singer doesn’t have to play a guitar, meaning he can actually be a proper front-man, running about the stage, climbing on the speakers and interacting with the audience. Having said that, throwing the microphone into the crowd probably doesn’t keep the sound men very happy!
One thing that annoys me at gigs is when bands disappear, pretending to be leaving the stage for the night, and then they come back on for an “encore” regardless of how much the audience is clapping and cheering. So, it made a refreshing change when The Pigeon Detectives played their final song, left the stage and the lights came up so that the clearing up could begin. (And the cheesy Phoenix-Nights-esque version of I’m Not Sorry which played as the venue emptied was an excellent touch!)
Despite a couple of over-excited dickheads who were pushing people around a bit too much and tried to start the odd fight, I’d say this was my second favourite gig of the year, only just being beaten by the Arctic Monkeys gig in August. That’s because The Pigeon Detectives really know how to write and play awesome songs which really get the crowd going. And that includes their new stuff.
(Chris Riley – who has very little decent musical knowledge and still thinks that The Stones Roses, Guns N’ Roses and Rolling Stones are the same band – enjoyed himself so much that he posted what he thought of the gig as soon as he got home, even though he was still a bit tipsy! Personally, I think he’s going of the rails a bit now that he’s started going to gigs...)