Friday, 11 September 2009

Dinotour : Okkervil River - Birmingham - 05.09.09

Before this gig, I hadn't seen anyone on dinotour for far too long but when OR tour: I always go. Simple reason for that being that they're the best band going today. Big plaudit to get from an esteemed site like this one, I know. Congratulations Okkervil River.

I hadn't seen a show in Birmingham since Ryan Adams & The Sedatives were in town a while back slowly jamming everyone to slezzzzzzzzzz. For this reason I was pleased for the city of Birmingham to have another opportunity to leave me with pleasant, nay, more awake memories of a gig in their fine city. The people of Birmingham are, of course, spoilt for choice when it comes to live shows and the like as reflected in the picture below. This is just who is in town in the coming weeks in one venue! L-U-C-K-Y!
Have you ever seen what Bring Me The Horizon look like?! Holy shit.

Editors! The Twang! Bowling For Soup! Calvin Harris! What company OR are in! God, it's like arriving on the LOST island only to find the only other inhabitants are Robert Mugabe, Nikki From Big Brother and well, that really fat one is who actually is on it. Also, I'd like to draw attention to the event occurring on the 27th August - 'New Found Glory vs International Superheroes of Hardcore'. Now, maybe it's just me but how can *that* be on in a mainstream and relatively well lit venue on a (probably) rainy Thursday night?! Sounds like some Amsterdam side street 10 euro entry shit. Jokes of course. I'm fully aware that New Found Glory are a dreadful punk pop band that probably now spend most of their time forlornly tracing the lines of their dated tattoos and thinking about what once was, what could've been and what will never be again.

Down with this sort of thing.

Okkervil have been playing similar set lists for a while now. Usually, when bands do this it gets kinda boring but when a band are largely drawing songs from albums like 'Black Sheep Boy', 'The Stage Names' and 'The Stand Ins' you really can't complain can you. A fair few of the song arrangements (and the band lineup!) have been changed from the last time I caught them so for me, it was no issue at all. I say 'for me' there. I probably mean ' for silly little fan boys like myself who would be happy if the band came out, farted in the mic and left".

Will Sheff: Not the lady killing sort.

Kicking off with the pop culture reference laden 'Plus Ones' the band kept a solid pace going through the entirety of the show. Both in tempo and time, the concert seemed to be over a long time before the usual "I'm quite liking this but I wouldn't mind them finishing because I would love a little sit down" protestations set in. Drawing more on the rockier side of their sound 'The Latest Toughs', 'Our Life is Not a Movie or Maybe' and 'Unless It's Kicks' ensured that the people who had turned up just to watch a band they hadn't heard of on a Saturday night (and there seemed to be a fair few) remained interested and more importantly at an indie rock concert; got involved on some hardcore arm crossing and subtle head nodding action. I couldn't write this review without singling out 'A Stone'. It's always been a special song to me but live, it's just beautiful. Also, I'm yet to hear song with a better closing verse (copied and pasted from - expect special spelling and grammar).*

And when that Queen's daughter
came of age,
I think she'd be lovely
and stubborn and brave,
and suitors would journey
from Kingdoms away
just to make themselves known.

And I think that I know the bitter dismay of a lover who brought
fresh bouquets every day
when she turned him away
to remember some knave
who once gave
just one rose, one day, years ago.

Sheff has started singing this last verse acapella. It works pretty well but I do have my suspicions that he's actually just trying to highlight how well written it is. His face had "Do you dorks even hear what I'm singing up here? Put your damn iPhone down!" written all over it. What else? The newish lineup seem to get on well and for me, a touring Okkervil and a touring Shearwater is better than just one or the other. The guitar interplay on 'For Real' is now more visceral than I can recall ever seeing it before and OR now seem to have finally nailed the power of that song live. So much so that you now don't miss the brilliant "...and real life really fills my mind" calm before the storm that works so so well on record. 'Lost Coastlines' ran a little flat this time out which was dissapointing and the no show of 'On Tour With Zykos' made me want to cry but other than that, I really couldn't have any compliants. Will Sheff had a little (controlled, natch) rant about the venue saying that it was too new and 'had no soul' and how big companies were now"drip feeding" us our music at their own leisure. It all felt a bit 'Rage Against The Machine fan wearing a "Fuck Mcdonalds" t-shirt' but in essence, he does have a point. Still good spirits were shared by both band and crowd and more importantly: Man, Meet Dinosaur. For the rest of the night. Loads of spirits in fact. Spirits of all colours and quantities until we didn't know our own names anymore but went to the bed smiling none the less whilst trying to sing 'Girl In Port' and get the girls names in the right order.

"Hoist up the John B. sail..."

Some roadie guy came up to me as the gig was finishing and handed me a setlist which you can see below. I'd like to think that a couple of the band members write this list out on a few paper plates pre show and then completely load them up with food before giving them to the rest of the band. Just for fun like. "Yo Will! what are we playing first tonight?" " those sausage rolls and cheese and pineapple on a stick and you will find out." Kinda mix things up a bit. Must get boring out on the road, right? ANYWAY:

1. Plus Ones
2. Pop Lie
3. A Hand to Take Hold of The Scene
4. The Latest Toughs
5. Girl In Port
6. John Allyn Smith Sails
7. A Stone
8. For Real
9. Lost Coastlines
10. Our Life Is Not a Movie or Maybe
11. Unless It's Kicks
12. Black
13. Westfall

God, that plate looks grim and boring there. I should've taken it to Disney to photograph it or something. Somewhere fun. I don't live in a prison or anything.

*when I say 'A Stone' has the best closing verse I have ever heard. I obviously don't include Just Jack's 'The Day I Died' in it because I, for one, never saw that coming. Just like the protaganist never saw that taxi. Thanks for exposing me to this song Radio 1! Legends! Random good times! etzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

God. Radio 1 DJs. Gotta hate 'em all!

Okkervil River - Unless It's Kicks

"...When I've been fixed I'm convinced that I will not get so broke up again"

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