Monday, 21 December 2009

Dinotour : Modest Mouse - The Ritz, Manchester - 13.12.09

"That's what we're waiting for, that's what we're waiting for, that's what we're waiting for aren't we?"

That's a couple of lines from 'Little Motel' by Modest Mouse. I was going to run that into some amusing chatter about how its taken me ages to write this review but it always takes me ages so I sort of think why keep apologising. You expect the review to be late and I'm not really that sincere with the apology anyway.? To keep things topical, ya really think it makes any difference to Tiger Woods' wife when he apologises yet again after ohidontknow the 26th woman comes out of the woodwork? Exactly.

A liar and apologist, yesterday. I bet his name isn't even really Tiger.

So, when I attended this show it was still summer and Christmas seemed so far away it looked like a melting ice cap but time, as is its wont, rolled on and here we are, 22nd December and no review written. I'll do my best. Frightened Rabbit supported which (and no disrespect to support bands, everyone has to start somewhere etc.) made a really welcome change because I both have heard of Frightened Rabbit and more importantly, quite like them. For these reasons and these reasons only, we got to the show on time. People had been queueing for a while even before then which sort of amused me because, well, why bother? It's the curse of this country, the queue. You could hand out STDs or gypsie curses and these fools'd be there queueing their little asses off for hours. I guarantee it.

Frightened Rabbit. New song 'Swim Until You Can't See Land' assumes an unfair amount of athletic prowess of the song's protagonist in my view.

Frightened Rabbit looked and sounded like they were really enjoying themselves. The drummer in the photo there was a true drummer. Bit mad but just fully immersed in what he was doing. He was sporting a 'Where The Wild Things Are' t shirt which not only did he not buy from Urban Outfitters but he actually obtained from the ..Wild Things island where they actually live. Apparently he had to fight off the one with the perversely long nose for it so yeah, he was actually wild to give him his due. FR mainly stuck to material from breakthrough 'The Midnight Organ Flight' and were warmly received by the crowd which I was pleased with. I really want to cry when support bands roll on to the stage and play to a crowd of people that are still talking amongst themselves about last weeks X Factor or whatever. I wonder if people at the X Factor shows talk about recent Frightened Rabbit news. New single 'Swim Until You Can't See Land' sounded instantly recognisable and I've only heard it a couple of times. It's very Snow Patrol actually *ducks*, I think it'll do well for the band.

After FR, it was time to wait. We waited like Penelope did for Odysseus in The Iliad and then some. Let me just briefly put that in perspective for you, Odysseus left his wife and embarked on his incredible voyage which took him away from home for ten years. My legs felt like anvils, I had about ten toilet breaks and by the time Modest Mouse hit the stage, I was more than ready. Ripe teetering on going off, that was me. The band were met with a raptourous welcome. They've got one of those fanbases you see. Super keen guys that care big time about selling out and setlists and band related tattoos. Yes, I'm stereotyping. Kicking off with 'The Whale Song' from this year's 'No One's First and You're Next' they found their groove pretty rapidly. After a punchy run through of 'Paper Thin Walls' Isaac Brock informed the crowd that he had a sore throat and that singing was a pain for him. He didn't really need to say that because he sounded great to my ears and some of the songs he would later perform in the night are harsh on the vocals to say the least ("THIS PLANE IS DEFINITELY CRASHING!"). General life tip here: Unless someone confronts you angrily and violently about something, don't own up to anything until you really need to. I pushed the emergency stop button on an escalator in Marks & Spencer when I was about 6 and when I was pushed by the store manager all I did was point vaguely Northwards and say "He did it." I was off scot free like OJ up in that mother mayne.

Modest Mouse in background. Someone with a woollen beanie on INDOORS in foreground. Sigh.

The crowd were pretty packed in and probably evenly split between "older material" fans and post 'Moon and/Good News....' fans. I'm sort of in both camps (although my coolness also transcends both obv.) because although I've known of the band for a fair while, I probably actually prefer those newer records. I know I'm not meant to say that, I know but that's the rub of the green. This considered, the song selection was perfect. 'Bukowski', 'Gravity Rides Everything', 'Missed The Boat' and 'Dramamine' would actually feature in my dream setlist so for that, I was pretty pleased.
Totally siiiiiiiccckk.
The band interacted with the crowd a fair bit more than I expected which I like when it is done well. I mean, it gets to me when you get the feeling that you're putting the band out by buying tickets and travelling miles to watch them do their thing so to see the band enjoy themselves was a welcome sight. The amount of times I've watched bands (and bought dreadful merchandise I'll never wear/use) and they've looked downright miserable as sin, God, you wouldn't believe. Yo! Interpol! How yo' doin?! Isaac, in particular, seemed in good spirits and I think that was partly down to playing to a really responsive crowd and also because their last gigs would've been in a damn Butlins at ATP to (probably) a load of thirtysomethings with unkempt beards and penchants for cardigans and playing scrabble. Hell an audience with various unsavoury despots and the WI would seem a scream after that lot. Much love ATP. Talking of, I saw this band there once and was pretty dissapointed/admittedly hungover. The two drumkit thing worked great in the Manchester Ritz in contrast to that floaty 'arena' they have at ATP. Really loud, sounded proper punctual.

Again, I promise this who I say it is. It's Isaac Brock. Not Captain Pugwash.

'Spitting Venom' closed proceedings in all its glory and my God it was long. Must've been about 15 minutes by the time they wound that up with mouths open and venom splattered all over the front row. The crowd then had this novel idea of how to force the band to keep playing *after* they had left the stage...they just kept clapping and you will never guess what? The band actually came back out! Unbelievable. Pleased I hung around for this event (an orn call? Orrncore? New to me) as we were treated to 'The Waydown', 'Float On' and 'Doin' The Cockroach' which, let's be honest, is a pretty good run. Wish they played 'Little Motel' always gets me feeling all wistful and in the mood to drive to Mexico. I've never worked out why. Beautiful song.

Before I go, gotta give a shout out to the crowd. Lot of dickheads. I hate saying that because y'know, there was some alright folk too but people were crowdsuring during 'Missed The Boat' and some other guy I overheard talking about "It's sometimes hard to truly appreciate the dynamics and logistics of the old Modest Mouse setup." Like, what does that even mean?! Guy should be working in office management with lines like that to just throw down without any forewarning. Seems the band weren't the only people 'Spitting Venom'. See what I did there etc.

10 points for the nerdlinger trying to take a photo with a wingmirror. Snigger.

All in all, a strong show I'm pleased I made the journey for. 450 miles no less that was. I'm pretty sure if I added up all the miles I've clocked up following small to medium size alternative bands around the globe I could drive to the planet Avatar* is set in by now.

*Not seen it. Know little about it. If the film is set in Finland or something I'm going to look stoopid. These are the risks I take. This is my life.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Dinotour : The Antlers - Bristol - 29.11.09

Yes that does say 29th November up there. I haven't written this review up during the week because I've been busy. I'm not making apologies. It's been a good week actually. "How?" you ask. Well, I don't like to brag but I've been doing my bit in the community for the last few days. Giving a little summin back y'know. I spent a couple of lunches with the old guys in the residential home at the start of the week just talking to them and running little errands that they can't do so easily anymore. Wednesday I was at the primary school helping those little cats with their reading. Boy, they've come a long way since last week the little blighters. I topped up this beautiful week of sharing and giving by doing a bit of weeding on a couple of local roundabouts. It's really important we take care of our community isn't it, after all, we're all in this together.

Yeah, this is all bullshit. I ain't been doin' nutin. In fact, the only thing I've been doing is actively avoiding writing up this review. I can't even remember the gig. It was that long ago. In fact, I was going to walk out on this blog like a disgruntled and disenchanted father might on his family but then I played 'Izzo (H.O.V.A)' four times in a row and before I knew it I had my damn hands up and was logging on to this bitch. "Can't leave blogs alone the web needs me."


A while ago I posted a poorly written entry about 'Hospice' by The Antlers in which I probably said how it was the best album of all time and that I was selling all my other CDs or something reactionary like that. Time usually changes opinions, that's just the way things are. I don't think I utterly detested Dannii Minogue two years ago, for example. Still, 'Hospice' is a very special record and whatever I said about it a few posts back, I probably more than stand by. It really is incredible. Over the course of it's ten tracks you really start to feel how intensely personal it is. It sounds strange to say but on occasion you almost feel like your prying by simply listening to it. It demands attention and once its got you, it doesn't let go until that last second of Epilogue is done. And when it is, where are you left? In your hospital bed when its very quiet and your heads spinning because all your visitors have now left and you feel very alone.

Peter Silberman. "Letting people in..." apparently. Get him. Captain social.

Still, the gig. It was at a little place called the Louisiana in Bristol. We got there early and the band were enjoying a pre show carvery. Bit of a WTF moment but what can I say? Sure beats hospital food. Arf! Forgive me for this but I can't recall the name of the support. Something about hills (not Lauren Conrad et al). The Downhills perhaps? Either way, they were aight. Sounded a bit like Editors and yes I know that Editors are copyists of all and sundry, "...sounded a bit like Editors" is not really a compliment anyway. The band arrived at 2130 sharp (oh fascinating ! thanks for including the little details MMD. Bores) and launched straight into
'Prologue' which is all Kid A swells and twinkles and I was already thinking "That sounds a lot better than I thought it would."

They continued to play 'Hospice' in track order which I thought was a nice touch. It's such a cohesive record as one statement that doing it any other way would be foolish. The songs segued into one another beautifully which is a big compliment to Darby Cicci who was manning all those little Korg machines that no one knows how to operate. 'Keys 'n Synths 'n Shit' I often refer to them as. Peter Silberman's voice sat beautifully layered within the songs, rising and falling with the tumbles of the music. Michael Lerner's drumming was really well measured. I'm not a drummer but like with actors, I think I know when I see a really good or bad one. Lerner drums to precision only adding what he needs to. It's a difficult skill to master but when you're performing songs like these, it's absolutely crucial. Colour me very impressed with him basically.. I was going to make a stupid point back then about him being a machine you can rely on and comparing him to a jumbo jet but then I realised I only trust planes as far as I could throw 'em (not far) and I'm utterly convinced I'll die on one. Probably in economy class too to add insult to injur...grizzly death.

Yes. Rubbish photos again. I know. I had to use my phone FFS. Next time I'm just going to do sketches like they do in court. Mine will be of musicians though, not murderers and burglars.

I posted 'Two' on here a while ago and as lead single, it was this song that got the biggest cheer of the night. The fantastically frantic second half of the song was reproduced so well. I could've watched it all night in all honesty. It remains the best Arcade Fire song that those nerds never wrote for me. By this point even the dullards chatting by the bar had worked out that the setlist corresponded to the album tracklist but more importantly, with 'Two' being track seven, we were nearing the end of the gig. I was really excited to hear 'Wake' as its breathtaking on record and again, I wasn't dissapointed. The 'in' on that "...letting people innnnnnnnnnnnnnn" line is so stunning that I knew they wouldn't be able to completely carry it off live but they had a good stab at it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, listen to 'Wake' immediately. It's just over four minutes in. I know because I checked when listening to it in bed the other night. Hairs on my neck all pricked up and tears streaming down my face like I was in Pokemon. It's second only to the "Oh my Gooooooooddddddd" line in Sufjan's 'John Wayne Gacy Jr' in the world-stops-for-a-moment stakes. If you haven't heard THAT then you're an idiot that should be in prison.

Sufjan Stevens - John Wayne Gacy Jr.

As a new band that have just released their first proper album, material was a bit thin on the ground. The band were in and out in an hour a bit like erm...a film that needs to be developed. I really welcome this approach because although I'm nails and could beat anyone up in a fight up to and including Van Damme, I get a bit tired stood at gigs sometimes, regardless of who is playing and how good/bad they are. I think its my attention span thats to blame.. I reckon I've got attention deficit disorder actually. By that I mean the"BLAHBLAHLOOKATMEPUTTINGAPENCILUPMYNOSEANDDOINGACARTWHEEL" sort and not the album by Wale because you can't get the latter for love nor money. I'm pretty sure that Wale posts more tweets in a day on his twitter than there are people in the world who have a copy of 'Attention Deficit"

In conclusion, a truly memorable show from a band I predict great things for. Where they'll go after 'Hospice' I really don't know but I can guarantee you it'll be better than home help with a disinterested nurse.

The Antlers - Kettering