Monday, 28 September 2009

Live Review: Massive Attack, Birmingham Academy, 22/09/2009

GAZZ ON THE RAZZ, DARK SECRETS FROM MEGAN FOX, BOY 12 TURNS INTO GIRL, TESCO BANS JEDI, MALE BOOB OPS SOAR... New ID card scheme to be launched in Britain, UK Government to install cameras in private homes, Mandelson: filesharers will lose internet connection...
Tonight’s opening act is Martina Topley Bird, her set of light, jazzy songs are all very nice, but with the exception of rocking closer Too Tough To Die they fail to capture the full attention of the chatty audience.

Massive Attack, on the other hand, are impossible to ignore. Live, original members Robert “3D” Del Naja and Grant “Daddy G” Marshall are joined by a full band, a string of guest vocalists, and a video display almost as big as their leftist political messages.

The early part of the set is made up of all new songs, their beats as dark, brooding and atmospheric as anything in the band has done before.

As good as the new songs are, it is the classics that get the greatest response tonight. On Risingson 3D and Daddy G trade choruses while the music builds and builds, til the familiar ‘Dream On’ sample brings the song back down to earth.

Touching lyrics and beams of white light fill the room as Martina Topley Bird returns to the stage to sing a beautiful version of Teardrop.

Fifty-eight year old rasta and long time Massive Attack collaborator Horace Andy makes his second appearance of the night for Angel. His seemingly happy singing and dancing is in perfect contrast to the menacing baseline being played by the band.

As the set progresses Massive Attack get more overt in pushing their message: Safe From Harm is dedicated with an f--- you to the BNP, and Inertia Creeps is played out in front of a ticker tape of news headlines, alternating between tabloid trash and under-reported intrusions into the civil liberties of British society.

After a short break the band come back to play Splitting the Atom, the dark reggae beat title track from their new EP, before diva/vocalist Deborah Miller returns lifting the roof on Unfinished Sympathy. The encore ends with a CIA rendition flight departures board ticking over on the giant video screens and the band playing Marrakesh.

The 11pm curfew has been broken when the band return to the stage for a second encore, finishing the show with 3D and Daddy G rapping Karmacoma.

Twenty years in and on the eve of their fifth album Massive Attack have the songs, a live show and a social conscious of a band that could go on for another twenty years.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Thom Yorke and Banksy

Thom Yorke has a new single: Felling Pulled Apart By Horses, is a radical reworking of the same 2001 track that spawned Radiohead's Reckoner.

The B-side to Felling Pulled Apart... is The Hollow Earth a glitchy song which Thom describes as a bass menace that developed from Eraser period leftovers.

The single is available now on 12 inch vinyl via w.a.s.t.e and will be in all the usual download stores from October 6th.

Ahead of this a video for The Hollow Earth has popped up on the web. The video directed by Raymond Salvatore Harmon couples Yorke's blips with images of London and retina burning flashes of Banksy's subversive graphics.

If you rather just listen cover your eyes and hit play:


Live Review: Editors, Birmingham Academy, 10/09/2009

Perhaps it was fitting that the new Birmingham Academy’s debut would be played by Editors, Birmingham’s biggest export (in recent years), themselves debuting a new sound.

Like the Academy of old, the new building boasts a three sided balcony overhanging the large square floor. Small additions such as tiered seating on the balcony and outdoor area look to have bumped up the capacity, but that doesn’t mean any more personal space tonight as the room is rammed.

Sadly I arrive too late to catch opening acts The Northwestern and Bombay Bicycle Club, in fact I barely have time to get a drink in before Editors begin their show.

Starting with the title track to their yet to be released third album, In This Light and On This Evening is a signal of intent: tonight’s show will be as much about the new Editors as the old.

It is the old Editors material that draws the biggest response tonight. Set highlights are the older screaming guitar and sing-along chorus (Joy Division/Interpol-lite) type tracks such as Lights, Munich and Smokers Outside of Hospital Doors.

The new Editors tracks have dropped the guitars and big choruses in favour of atmosphere and synths, of the new tracks it is only radio single Papillion that really gets the crowd moving.

I don’t doubt that the new tracks and audience response will improve with familiarity but tonight the alternating new song-old song set list makes for a something of a stop-start performance.

In the end the new Birmingham Academy succeeded in its debut night by delivering more of the same, where Editors perhaps lost a few points by trying one new trick too many.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Landfill Indie, now a real word.

Landfill Indie (or Indie Landfill) the term coined by The Word magazine's Andrew Harrison has been added to the Collins English Dictionary.

Expect the Collins entry to read something like
Indie Landfill: a derogatory term for indie music considered to be mediocre.
I think the definition of Landfill Indie should be expanded to cover
Landfill Indie: a type of bland, crowd-pleasing guitar based indie music, which propelled indie music from being independently spirited to the most mundane of mainstream pop genres. Especially popular in the last half of the 00’s indie landfill achieved it success in a way which Britpop, despite its hit records, never did. By 2007 a generation of teen TV presenters and rock wannabies rode a wave of mediocre pseudo-indie as youth TV schedules were filled with woeful, will-this-do music shows sponsored by phone companies.
Of course the definition would have to include a photo of The Kooks, Scouting For Girls, The Wombats, Pigeon Detectives, Cold War Kids, The Fratellis, The Hoosiers, Snow Patrol, The View, Keane, Travis, Razorlight, Hamfatter, The Maccabees, or maybe just a guy with a trendy haircut and a guitar.