THE DAMNED: Brixton Academy, 26th November 2016.

27 11 2016

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There are some feelings in the world that cannot be replicated. Seeing one of the bands that changed your life, the band you absolutely adore and play religious every day live for the first time is one of those feelings. Last night after waiting for what seemed an eternity, I finally saw mine- I saw The Damned live. To make it even better, it was their first record in full. The record I play every morning whilst I get ready for work. The record that can sometimes keep a brewing panic attack at bay. This show was going to mean more to me than just seeing a band I love live. It was something else.

The crowd, I have to say, were amazing. Everyone was so friendly and just genuine, lovely people.  I’ve been to too many shows where some dickhead spoils it for everyone. It was a dickhead free zone last night. Everyone knew of the importance of the show, the importance of The Damned. The next 2 hours were going to justify this.

The band walk on to the stage, Captain Sensible tells the sound guy to turn the music on the PA off. He blames Genesis and YES for Punk starting; for the bad we all got the good. The band rip into Neat Neat Neat and Dave glides onto the stage like some kind of messiah. Is this how people feel when they are faced with a religious experience? For me, this went deeper.

The first part of the show is their debut record in full. I was finally seeing the songs that keep me together right before me. The songs that clear my mind and make everything alright for a short amount of time. The songs that made me fall for Punk at such a young age. Maybe it is a typical thing to pick up on, but the way in which Dave leans into the crowd and says, “Is she really going out with him?” And they launch right into New Rose just blows my mind and is easily one of the best moments in the set. That song started it all 40 years ago and it still feels brand new.

I Fall and See Her Tonite are two from the first set that really stood out for me, just because I love them and the energy they all have when they play them. At one point during the set, Captain Sensible chases Stu round the stage in a playful schoolboy manner. It is so endearing and beautiful to watch. To see a band that have been around for so long and play with this wealth of energy is astounding. They are still one of the most influential bands around, and last night truly showed that.

Anyone who has seen The Damned over the past 20 years will know about Monty. He is someone you cannot take your eyes away from. He moves about on the stage as if he has successfully done a stage invasion but nobody minded, so he stays. He’s hilarious and a joy to watch. His energy feels like the backbone of their live shows. He sings along to the first set as if he is a fan in the crowd.

I’ve been to so many gigs but I doubt any will leave this kind of imprint in my mind. There is something about seeing one of your favourite bands of all time live that just does something to you that nothing else can. You just know that it will always stay with you.

Some may assume that Punk is dead but it really isn’t. It’s an attitude. It sure as hell isn’t taking a bunch of artefacts and burning them because you don’t agree with certain people backing 40 years of Punk. No names need to be mentioned. For me, The Damned last night showed us exactly why and how Punk will never die out. Before they went into their second set Captain said that a lot of people expected them to just go away after the first record- how wrong they were!

The Damned are a band that I hold so dear to me for so many reason, and to have finally seen them live and to see Damned Damned Damned performed in its entirety is just everything to me. I know I sound like a boring old so and so, but it was truly one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. They all conduct the crowd in their own way, and when Captain through his red beret into the crowd at the end, and Dave threw his arms around him- that’s when you knew. You just knew that this band are going to always have a firm plac





THE STOOGES:The Stooges.

24 11 2016

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“And I’ll lay right down in my favorite place
And now I wanna be your dog.”

1969. A year that gave us a band that would, at the start be looked down on but eventually become one of the most influential bands of all time. Fronted by one of the most charismatic and courageous human beings, ever.

On Monday I went to the cinema to see Gimme Danger. The brilliant film about The Stooges. As I watched it, every part of me wished I was born at the right time to have appreciated them at the start. Instead I came into the world a couple of decades later. I couldn’t understand how or why The Stooges were the underdogs, why they were given so much shit. Maybe it’s because they were completely misunderstood. Their debut record is one of the most remarkable and most raw records of all, and for a debut to sound like that? Shit. You can just tell that they were on the verge of creating something that would make some feel uncomfortable, but what good comes from feeling otherwise?

I was very young when I first heard The Stooges, very young. I wasn’t aware of how important they would end up being to me but I remember instantly being hooked on Iggy. He seemed like someone that nobody could touch. He was like a fictional character brought to life and this character heightened when on a stage. The way he would whirl about on stage and how he would launch himself into the crowd. It wasn’t like anything else, he’s not like anyone else. He moves on stage like a gorilla ready to attack, especially when he crouches down and moves in this way that just makes you wonder what he’s going to do next. When a band can keep you on constant edge like that, that’s when you truly connect and know you’ve got a band to love for life.

Their debut record is a collection of songs that mess with your head. I mean that intro to I Wanna Be Your Dog is probably the greatest intros of all time. As soon as I hear it my ears prick up and I’m covered in goose bumps. I can’t describe what it sounds like but every time I play it, it feels like I’m hearing it for the first time. That new sensation takes over every time I hear it. We Will Fall is 10 minutes of chanting and bliss. It doesn’t sound like anything else on the record or really anything else they’ve ever done. No Fun is 5 minutes of summing up how boring life can sometimes be if you let yourself fall into a bland routine.

This recorded guided a generation into the 70s and brought to life a movement that would establish one of the most influential styles of music ever. Maybe I’m biased in my thoughts there, but for me, Punk is the backbone of everything I love. It isn’t just a 2 minute song telling the world to go fuck itself. It’s more than you or I can describe or explain. It’s a sound, a feeling, an attitude and I’m happy it found its way to me. The more I listen to The Stooges, the more I hear things I may not have initially picked up on. I can hear just how frantic Scott’s drumming was, and I think that’s part of the charm. Scott’s drumming was out of this world and he played in a way that made you want to make your own noise. Hell, The Stooges just made you want to make your own noise.

Their first record is smutty, off the wall and just wonderfully weird. These are the traits that got me hooked on them the first time around, and it is still apparent now decades later. The songs ooze frustration, desperation and the need for something. The need to search and destroy (different record, I know) and this record everlastingly and loving grabs you by the throat and unapologetically plants one right on the kisser. It’s just a brilliant listen, from start to finish. There’s no bad song on the record and each song is a side to The Stooges that we all grew to love and admire.

It took them a long time to get the respect and admiration that they rightfully deserved, and maybe if it happened straight away this raw and urgent sound they constantly possessed may never have been there. If you’re looking for a band that define going against what people expect or a band that just don’t care what you think- The Stooges are for you. The Stooges are for everyone. Everyone deserves to feel that “oh fuck!!” feeling when they hear I Wanna Be Your Dog for the first time. It’s feeling like no other, and man…it’s so timeless.





THE VACANT LOTS: Berlin EP.

23 11 2016

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On Sunday I finally saw The Vacant Lots live and I’m still in some sort of daze from amazing it was. I reckon anyone who has seen them live or just loves their music will know exactly what I mean. I sometimes find after going to a show, listening to the band afterwards doesn’t always feel right, as if something was missing. Fortunately this did not happen on Sunday and I’ve been constantly listening to The Vacant Lots.

This  Friday their Berlin EP will be released. The record is produced (and mixed) by Anton Newcombe. To have a band I love work with someone I hugely admire is, as a fan, a bloody brilliant thing. It’s perfect, just utterly perfect. Many years ago when I was doing a work placement at a music magazine, I was in the same room as the editor as he interviewed Anton on the phone. We both bonded over our love for him and afterwards were both just in awe of what happened. Fortunately I am shy enough to keep my gob shut and didn’t not chime in with some questions of my own.

The Berlin EP perfectly picks up from where Departure left us. They remain loyal to the sound that I fell in love with a few years ago. The EP is made up of 4 songs that send the listener (regardless of how big a fan they are) into a daze, into a trance. You can shut the world off when you play this record. It takes you to the belly of an underworld that is yet to be found by others. Maybe it truly sums up the sound of Berlin, maybe it sums up the sound and images in your mind. Whatever it sums up, just let it take you there.

The psychedelic artwork is ideal to gaze at as you listen to the songs, especially on Promise Me. The sound that they have created is projected beautifully from Anton’s production. As I listen back to the songs, I can’t help but feel that nobody else but Anton could get this sound. I know people say that perfection doesn’t exist, but they’ve clearly never listened to The Vacant Lots.

The Vacant Lots have a few more shows left in Europe but unfortunately copies of the Berlin EP have sold out. I say unfortunately but I’m proud of them and really happy for them. The Berlin EP is a body of work that oozes dedication, blood, sweat, hours, fears and tears. The songs may torment you but they may also soothe you- just like Departure did. I’ve never been to Berlin, I sometimes feel like the only person in the world who hasn’t, but this record makes me feel like I have and that it is home. Home can be whatever you create in your mind and heart. It can also be wherever a band or record takes you. It’s a feeling, and you can feel it as many times as you want.

Some bands sound better in certain settings, and I think The Vacant Lots are a band that you can carry with you anywhere you go. They are perfect to listen to at 7:30am on the way to work or at 4am when you cannot sleep. They let you dream in your own way. They thrash the insides of your mind with their hypnotic sound. I’ve said it before, but they are one of those bands that make you wish you were in band. They leave you with this feeling as if you just have to do something. But take your time to figure it out.

As mentioned, the Berlin EP is sold out on tour but you might be able to get some copies from Cargo Records if you live in Europe/UK and Forced Exposure if you’re in the states. In my mind they are one of the greatest bands since Suicide. They tear down walls of what is deemed as “normal” or “typical.” On the Berlin EP, Land is the track that really evokes this and is probably one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year. Not just lyrically do I adore it but the music is so moving. They have this wonderfully ability to tap into your mind, and they do it so beautifully on Land.

Go see them the next time they play near you and allow every part of you to be moved.





SHITKID.

22 11 2016

 

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Sometimes you need to listen to something that others may deem as uncomfortable. Mainly because they are far too uptight and conservative. Don’t surround yourself with those people, they’ll only try ruin you to make you like them. Before you know it, bland sounds will echo in your ear. Stick your middle finger up to them, and go about your day. A band that are perfect to do this to are Gothenburg based ShitKid.

The support band for The Vacant Lots on Sunday were ShitKid. They had the tough task of playing to only a handful of us, but I was hooked. They claimed to be hungover but that did not stop them from putting on a great show. Their sound reminds you of a band who are having fun making a wealth of noise in their cramped bedroom waiting for the world to listen. The world will listen, it just takes time for some to catch up.

What I adore about ShitKid is that they have this slumped sound. It is effortlessly woeful and the three of them just have this excellent Punk approach. Some bands are evidently trying too hard to capture a certain sound, but Shit Kid make it look so easy. They make you want to make your own noise and that for me, is enough. If you can get that feeling across then I reckon it is a job well done.

From their set on Sunday, I really loved their performance of Whyte and Poobrain.  I think they are one of those bands that you’ve really got to see live to get it. You get the attitude and meaning when you see them perform the songs live. I am that irritating person who has to always see the support band but I went to the show on my own on Sunday so it was fine. In this case I think I proved my idea right that you should always check out the support. I enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed The Vacant Lots.

It is really no surprise that ShitKid are on the highly influential label, PNKSLM Recordings. They are home to a lot of bands I love and Shit Kid is most definitely the perfect home for them. Their songs make you want to stay home, gaze out the window and do a whole load of nothing. It’s totally fine to have those days where you just want to waste them away. I feel like it all the time, but the doctor has told me it’s depression. Don’t go down my route, kids.

The EP was all done by  Åsa, and ShitKid is pretty much just her bar her live shows where she has 2 equally talented friends with her. You really pick up on the shyness in her voice and lyrics on the EP, and I think that makes the music so endearing and so easy to get into. I think this is the EP that was recorded on a semi broken computer and this DIY mind-set is so evident on the recordings. For me having that kind of approach to music makes a band more accessible and easy to just love.

They’re playing The Old Blue Last tomorrow night (23rd) and tickets are only £5.





L.A.WITCH. The Shacklewell Arms, 18th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Much like last night with FINALLY getting to see The Vacant Lots live after waiting for what seemed an age- I started it off with L.A. Witch on Friday at The Shacklewell Arms. There’s something truly moving about seeing a band you’re really into, in your favourite venue.

I first wrote about L.A. Witch in 2013, and since then I’ve just been waiting and waiting to see them live. When I heard they were supporting The Kills on their US tour this year, every part of me wish I had a lot of money and wasn’t scared of flying so I could go see them. There’s really no better band to support The Kills, that’s for sure. When I heard they were playing London I bought myself a ticket the second they went on sale. I didn’t care if I was the only one there or if it was going to be rammed- I was going. Nothing and no one would get in my way.

They opened their set with the insane Kill My Baby Tonight and ended with Get Lost. What happened in between was a mind-blowing affair and something I wish I could experience all of the time. It’s a high, a sensation that stays with you and you find yourself comparing every show to it. This was their first ever London show, and I kept thinking, “Is this how people felt when they saw the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free?” Maybe. Maybe not. I’m going with a firm yes on this one because it was THAT good.

The band are fronted by Sade who projects this captivating voice that makes you feel as if Ronnie Spector has picked up a guitar and listened to some Garage Rock. Maybe that’s what drew me in this first place all those years ago. Everything about L.A. Witch is just so effortlessly brilliant and the right kind of cool. Yeah, I know the word “cool” is so redundant but certain people are worthy of it. L.A. Witch most definitely are.

I’m pretty sure that the venue was filled over capacity but who cares? Our crammed and sweaty bodies were too busy falling in love with the band. Nothing mattered. The outside world wasn’t getting in and rules weren’t not being applied. And rightfully so. If you’ve ever formed an attachment to a band and just wanted to go to every show they do, then you might understand my love for L.A. Witch and why one show just doesn’t feel enough. If I had the holiday time and the money, I would have happily done the whole tour.

I was in awe of their performance and how much everyone loved them. When a band you’ve backed for so long come to the place where you live, it just means so much to you. And I am not ashamed in stating that I felt like a proud parent as I gazed at the stage at these 3 wonderfully talented people. Some people spend their Friday nights getting wasted, but I’ll take seeing a band like this any day. I always thought that when I finally saw L.A. Witch live, it would have to be in a cramped and sweaty setting. My wish was granted. This is how they should be heard.

Irita makes you wish you could play bass, Ellie makes you want to beat the shit out of the drums and Sade makes you wish you could make a crowd swoon and sway with your hypnotic guitar grooves and vocals. Three is truly the magic number, L.A. Witch completely and utterly back this theory.

I’ve said it many times before but there really is something special about seeing a band you’ve loved for so long live. It’s a feeling that stays with you, it’s a feeling you constantly crave. Once is most certainly not enough here, so here’s hoping they come back soon!





THE VACANT LOTS: Moth Club, 20th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Ever waited what seemed an eternity to see a band you absolutely adore? Have you tried to see them previously and things get in your way? Was nothing going to stop you this time? I get it, I really do. It happened twice to me this weekend and I’m going to write about both- starting with last night.

I first wrote about The Vacant Lots around 2 years ago. I wrote about them after spending a few months listening to them prior and trying to process what they meant to me, and how the music made me feel. I’ve probably been too quick at times writing about a band without taking the time to understand what’s going on, but I write as a fan and not some person who’s employed to over hype a load of bullshit gullible souls will buy into. Last night I took myself on a 5 minute bus journey to the Moth Club. The perks of being close to decent venues in a city I’ve grown to dislike. Get me out, please. Live music is my escape for the things that weigh me down. The Vacant Lots felt like something else last night. Whatever happened for that hour or so will stay with me. I wasn’t trapped in a place that harms my mind, it was taken elsewhere. But you want to know about the show, right?

Their set opens with Departure. If this wasn’t going to make the crowd pumped, I really don’t know what would. I was internally praying for High And Low to be played but I was also hoping for Paint This City because that’s on the same level. Paint The City made the set and I’m pretty sure I had my eyes closed for that whole song. When you hear the songs that get you out of any jam your brain traps you in, you do your best to zone out. Zone out was exactly what I did. I felt like no one was around me and everything was as alright as can be.

The Vacant Lots are a fascinating band to watch. As Jared shuts his eyes during the songs, you wonder where his mind is going. Brian’s face expresses so much during certain songs- you identify with everything that is happening on stage because these are the songs that have held you together so for some time. The way Jared prowls about on the stage holding his guitar as if it is a weapon, and at the end of the set bashes it up against the ceiling to create even more noise. Exactly 2 years ago I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain for the first time in Manchester, and I left with a comforting ringing in my ear. Go forward 2 years and it is happening again. Nothing really happened last year, mind. The Vacant Lots are part dreamy, part riot. You don’t know what you’re going to get and they leave you on edge. As someone who has really shit anxiety, I, for some reason find this massively comforting. I didn’t know what to expect during every song and I love that. I love when a band takes you right into the belly of the unknown and away from what surrounds you.

Mad Mary Jones sends everyone off into a whirl but I’m standing by Paint This City being the highlight for me. Some bands, as I’ve mentioned many times before, hold this notion of being something sacred. Something that is your escape, and yours to keep. For me, The Vacant Lots capture this so well. I didn’t make their last London show, but I saw photos of Jared’s bloody guitar. Part of me was hoping for blood last night but I got something better- I saw the real heart of The Vacant Lots.

Their Berlin EP comes out this Friday and I’ll put a review up this week as they are selling copies at their shows this week. If you go see them, buy a copy.

As I mentioned at the start, when you wait so long to see a band you absolutely adore- it means the world to you and it stays with you. I can safely say that this was one of the most emotional and intense shows I’ve been to in a long time.





THE CRAMPS: A Date With Elvis.

19 11 2016

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“I know a place that’s far from here
Where the squares they won’t come near.”

Last Saturday I turned 30. Nothing feels different, and I still look about 15. Maybe I made a pact with the devil at an early age, and I don’t recall it. Anyway, as someone who isn’t really a fan of birthdays I have someone who wanted me to have a damn good day. She did just that, and more. She got me a record that I had no idea I was getting. A month earlier I ruined a surprise by attempting to buy one she had already got me. I don’t pick up on signals, I need to be told. Even if it involves me potentially ruining a surprise! This one record she got me has blown my mind and I find myself playing it every day. I either play it whilst I get ready for work or when I get home. Sometimes both. My love for The Cramps started in 1996. I was 10 years old and I was going through a cupboard in the house. I was looking for something, not sure what but I found a mixtape. I picked it up and asked my stepdad if I could listen to it- being the cool person he is, he said yes. He told me all about the band before I went upstairs to my room and fell in love with Lux’s voice.

I wish I could remember what song was on the tape, but I’m pretty sure it might have been Human Fly. There was a Sisters Of Mercy live tape that I took also. Along with The Cure. I was being exposed at a young age to the bands that would form something inside of me that is still there. It’s never going to go. Its one thing about me I won’t ever fight off.

The record I was given on my birthday last Saturday was A Date With Elvis. She had gone through their records, listened to them all and found the one she thought I’d love the most. I think this proves just how well she knows me and how bloody great she is. A Date With Elvis is such a great record, and for me to shows everything about The Cramps that I love, and fell in love with 20 years ago. I love the raw and creepy sound that is consistent on all their records but there’s something about A Date With Elvis that heightens all of this.

The record opens with one of the greatest songs by them, How Far Can Too Far Go? Alright so some may say it isn’t their greatest but it’s pretty much my favourite. I love the words and I absolutely adore Lux’s voice on this song. The record came out the year I entered the world and it was produced by the beautiful Poison Ivy. Three is the magic number, kids and The Cramps proved that so easily with this record. Everything about the wonderfully sexualised lyrics and dirty guitar makes it for pleasurable listening. It is the record you should take home with you, to meet the parents. It’s the record you play as loud as you want. It’s the one you play to take you down a road of self-discovery. For some, the lyrics may be too much- but hey, don’t surround yourself with prudes. Let it all out. Let The Cramps drag it out of you.

A Date With Elvis is the kind of record that brings you to your knees because you can’t get over how great it is.  For me it just embodies everything I love about music and everything I look for in music. It’s the right level of creepy, it’s loud and it’s in your face but not in an intrusive manner. It’s so beautifully produced and created. That brilliant Psychobilly mixed with a bit of Punk sound that they were known for comes alive on this record, maybe it is more apparent on this one. Maybe I’m just being biased because I wholeheartedly love this record, with all I have. I don’t have the best record player in the world but it is currently making Aloha From Hell sound like the masterpiece that it truly is.

There are many reasons why I am fascinated with certain bands, but I’ve never really set myself a reason for doing so with The Cramps. It just comes down to a whole bunch of reasons. Mainly that it’s completely fine to live outside of certain “norms” and to just be whoever and whatever the hell you want to be.