NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: Manchester Arena- 25/09/2017

28 09 2017

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Never in my life did I ever think I would see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live. I treated them like mythical god-like beings that I would worship but never see. It all changed last night. Everything changed last night. I know I always say it but, I can honestly say that Monday night’s show was the best gig I had ever been to. Nothing is ever going to top it. I don’t want anything to ever top it. It was something I thought I could prepare myself for, but honestly nothing can prepare you for ever seeing your idol.
I’ve allowed a few days to pass so I can process what I saw and felt on Monday night and to be honest I think it is one of those things I’ll never get my head around. Prior to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds arriving on stage, the atmosphere was tense. A lot of people had picked up on it and it was just so heavy. I heard people mention what had happened and how they could sense it. It was an odd environment but as soon they stepped on stage, everything changed.

As soon as they graced the stage, tears fell from my eyes. The tears were from years and years of waiting. Years of admiring this poster I remember seeing to having the man himself stood in close proximity. It was entirely surreal.

The bulk of the set was Skeleton Tree. I’ve only listened to the record a handful of times. It’s such a gorgeous record but the circumstance surrounding it is heartbreaking. However, seeing these songs live changed it all. The emotion was there but more so- I was in awe of all of them. Every single person on that stage is a genius and the best musicians I have ever seen.

For me, the way Warren takes an instrument like the violin and turns it into this wild weapon like a machine gun blew my mind. He took something calming and whipped up a heavenly storm. It felt like the inside of my head when I have a panic attack, except I felt totally at ease with it all.

I know it is utterly expected but I need to write about Into My Arms. It’s a song that has come to mean everything to me. It’s always reminded me of someone, and to finally be able to hold her close as they performed this perfect dedication of love meant the world. And I could see just how much it meant to everyone in the venue.

From Her To Eternity sent me off on a whirlwind. If I could live in the moment of any song, it would have to be that. It’s one of the most important song to me by anyone. From the lyrics, the music, the title and Nick’s voice- it is just a perfect work of art that I always remember being one of the first Bad Seeds songs I ever heard. Those moments stay with you, and so does seeing it live. It’s a moment that you want to always stay in.

From Her To Eternity went right into Tupelo. It was like a storm arriving. It was wild and it was untameable. Every little detail just made you fall deeply in love with the band. More than you already were, and to think it wasn’t possible!

One moment in the set made me cry harder than most. I really didn’t think Jubilee Street would make me cry at all. It’s a song I’ve loved but never did I think I’d get myself in a state. Towards the end of the song when Nick powerfully and beautifully  (I’m getting goosebumps writing this) sings “I’m transforming, I’m vibrating, I’m glowing. Look at me now!” If I could describe in a way that does this moment justice, I would. But if you were there or if you’ve ever seen them do this live, I hope you understand what I mean and what I’m getting at.

Higgs Boson Blues felt like a punch to the face, like your soul was being shaken up. There are songs I wish they did but honestly they could have sung the weather and I’d have been happy, and still declared it as the best gig I’ve ever been to.

As I watched Nick be propped up by the crowd with their hands reaching out to him waiting to be touched and held- I kept thinking it was like a sermon. The stage is their altar and we are their dedicated followers. At one point Nick announces how gorgeous Warren is and he also discusses his purple socks with a guy in the crowd. At the encore, I think he hands him one of his socks. There was also an idiot who twice yelled at Nick, “Get your dick out!” I don’t condone violence, but I wish Nick found the doofus and smacked him in the choppers.

I’m not a religious person, but this gig felt like a religious experience. I’m totally fine with Nick being my god and my teacher. I clung onto every word he sang with such hope, love and admiration. Nothing has felt the same since. I feel as if I could be okay with never going to a gig again after seeing them because let’s face it, nothing in this world is ever going to top it. As I gazed up at the stage, I felt 3 years old again staring at the poster on my uncle’s wall with curious eyes and anticipating what would happen if I delved deeper.

I loved when Nick walked into the crowd in the seating area. He stood like a majestic creature. Controlling the crowd with hand claps and silencing us when he wished. We would do anything he wanted. The stage invasion was such a beautiful moment. To see that many people on stage with the band they adore was just beautiful, and as the set ended with Push The Sky Away everything felt alright. What comes next is going to be okay, no matter what.

I’m sure I have missed out many things that happened, but I’m still trying to stay in that moment of seeing them live, finally. Of course if I had the money I’d have happily done the whole tour. The crowd were wonderful, the band were phenomenal. There are so many reasons as to why this is the best gig I’ve ever been to and if you were there, you’d understand.

Nick Cave. The Bad Seeds. From Them To Eternity….

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THE VACANT LOTS: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. 13th June 2017.

14 06 2017
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Photo credit: Olivia Cellamare

 

Last night I saw The Vacant Lots for the second time. I wondered if they could top the first time I saw them. If I could relive that feeling again. And again. There was clearly no need for me to even question this. The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands I have ever seen live, and I honestly wish I could be in that moment of watching them every single day.

Their set opens with Departure. This is the perfect song to open with, it makes you feel like Brian and Jared are welcoming you into this world of theirs. It’s a noisy world but still the most peaceful place to go. Every song they play just makes me wish I had some musical talent. Instead I just write about it, sorry!

It’s hard to work out who to watch when you go to a show by The Vacant Lots. Brian lurks over his side of the stage, hiding sweetly behind a case with TVL written on it. He crashes the cymbal next to him as if something has come over him. Every word he sings is projected with this feeling that gets you right in the gut. For me, the way he sings Paint This City is one if the greatest moments. It’s my favourite song by them and to see it performed with this beautiful emotion is an honour to see. It’s his workstation and the noises that come from there are like a scientist at work. It’s just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Jared performs Funeral Rites in a way that makes you want to get on the stage and sing it with him. Taken from the Berlin EP, which came out last year, this song is on the same level as what Brian does with Paint This City. These moments in the set really show just how amazing they are. It’s the only song in the set where Jared doesn’t play guitar. I need to talk about Jared and his guitar. If you’ve ever seen, or just listened to The Vacant Lots you’ll know just how great a guitarist Jared is. He’s got this effortless way of making you wish you could do what he does. But what he does is so rare. The noise that comes out of his guitar is like nothing I’ve heard before. It truly whirls its way around you then slowly finds its way into your soul. The band really come alive when you see their show. The songs take on a different meaning. Of course Mad Mary Jones is another stand out part of the show. Jared holds his guitar close and you cannot take your eyes off the stage.

The Vacant Lots are that band you discover on your own and you realise quickly what an impact they have on you. They’ll make you want to make your own noise, write your own words down in a scuffed notebook- sacred thoughts that no one rarely sees. They make you want to step into this world they create with their sound and to never leave. It’s home. It feels how home should feel. When you go to one of their shows, your surroundings don’t matter. You could be with a group of friends or you can be on your own- but you zone out and feel like you are the only one there. They are such a powerful band and criminally underrated.

Bands like this are rare. Bands that can evoke this kind of feeling and drive within you are so rare. We simply must treasure them. What I love about Jared and Brian is that they sound like they are from far, far away. The sound they have created changes with each record and EP they release, and for me that’s what keeps their live shows so influential and exciting. I can only hope the younger generation go to one of their shows and think, “One day, I’ll do that.”

I’ve got a few bands I always say that I could happily go to their show every night and not get bored with it- The Vacant Lots are no doubt in that list. Last night was a truly brilliant show. They don’t need to engage in pointless small talk- the music says it all. Also, I finally bought a TVL shirt so I’ll probably be living in that from now on.

Go see them. Stand at the front. Get your eardrums and mind blown.

 





BANKS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 10th March 2017.

11 03 2017

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One of the best feelings you can experience is waiting years and years to see a band or singer you adore. Not only do you adore them, but they’ve undoubtedly saved your life and made it easy for you to face those days where getting out of bed seems damn near impossible. You’re not brave, but the music and words give you this strength that you never thought you could possess. You don’t know what to do with this strength, but when no one else is around at 3am when you wake yourself up from having a panic attack, the music keeps you safe. The music keeps you sane. You have a small support network but those people aren’t close by. You cling to what you can, when you can.

Since 2013 I’ve been obsessed with Banks. Her words got me through something that in some ways, I put myself through a few years before. A situation I was too immature and fucked up to handle. The songs on Goddess made me see how badly I had hurt someone I loved and adored. Fast forward a few years, and we’re together. The songs don’t hurt as much. We’ve both healed. Time can heal. Goddess is built on songs that ooze hurt and pain, but they give you strength. The Altar is a body of work that shows honesty and vulnerability in a way that again, gives strength. That’s what Banks embodies- strength and love for yourself. Her songs are a form of healing and clarity.

Her set opens with the chilling Poltergeist. Using two microphones to distort the vocals, Banks has this stage presence that hits you right away. The way she focuses on the dance routine during this song is nothing short of hypnotising. Your eyes are hooked on every mood she and her dancers make, and the songs suddenly take on a whole new meaning. Banks moves like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Her moves are so delicate and well thought out. She reminds me so much of Aaliyah with the way she carries herself and glides across the stage.

There are so many stand out moments from the show last night that made me realise that her songs are more than just words and music. To see them come to life like this was mind blowing. Every part of me just wanted to sing a long, but all I could do was gaze in awe. The person I’ve been using as a crutch for so long was right there. One of the most beautiful points of the show was her asking everyone to put their phones away, and she performed a fragile version of Better. This song performed this way just changed everything. It took the song elsewhere, and you just connected in a completely different way. Mother Earth was the song I feel broke and fixed hearts and minds. Lyrically, it is probably one of the best songs Banks has written so far. The way she is so open and so pure when she performs this song just melts your heart. I knew it would be the song to break me and make me cry, it just has this power but in the best way imaginable. You just feel when you hear it that you can possibly take anything on and that she is right there with you going through it all. She gives you so much hope with this song, and I cannot thank her enough for it.

This Is What It Feels Like is one of the songs I was massively looking forward to. It was one of the first songs I heard from her, and she dedicated it to all those who had been there from the start. The way she choreographed her hands as she sang This Is What It Feels Like is so captivating. Drowning also left me hypnotised. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the stage and it was sung with such determination and power. Beggin’ For Thread was just absolutely one of my favourite songs from the set, and it just made me so happy to see this song come to life like this. Her dancers add this eerie feeling to the whole set that just lures you in, deep into this world in the most comforting way.

A large part of the show was songs from The Altar which was easily one of the best and most underrated records of last year. Since September I’ve played it religiously. It’s been a record that has eased me out of a state after I’ve had a panic attack, and her voice just soothes my head. Trainwreck is performed with such attitude as is Gemini Feed and of course, Fuck With Myself. The way she performs these songs just gives you this belief that you’re as tough as her. Weaker Girl is again, another mind blowing performance. The way everyone shouts “I’ma need a bad motherfucker like me” is incredible. Every song is just screamed back at her, it makes you feel like you’re in an arena not an old church in the middle of Manchester. She has the crowd right where they should be, and none of us want to ever leave.

Judas and Haunt again bring out this bold and brave side. Judas especially is performed with this venom that makes you feel the hurt she’s experienced from whoever or whatever has hurt her. I know I’ve said it countless of times before about her, but when she does this you just truly connect to the music. She’s so easy to connect with and to feel, and believe in every single word. I don’t even know what I did before I had her music.

The set ends with 27 Hours followed by This Is Not About Us. Of course there are other songs I would have loved to have heard but that’s just for my own personal sentimental value. The set was nothing short of perfect, and if anything, I’d have just wanted her to stay on stage for hours. Her dancers, her band, and her stage presence- just everything felt like something that came purely from the heart and soul. Wherever she goes when she performs these songs, she takes you with her.

It didn’t end just there. Before we went to the show, I wrote a letter to give her. The letter consisted of me telling her how much her music has helped and healed. How it still does, and how it gets me through my own hell. I handed the letter to her, and as we hugged, I had to tell her something I had needed to say for so long. I told her that she had saved my life. A bold and big statement that is entirely the truth. This was more than just a concert. It did something that no other show has ever done to me. I’ll keep its meaning close to me and go to it when it all seems too much. There is so much more I could say about the show last night, but if you were there or if you’ve seen her live- then you’ll understand exactly what it is that her music and her presence does.





L.A. WITCH: The Lexington, 18th February 2017.

20 02 2017

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If you’re a fan of the phenomenal L.A. Witch you’ll have seen that some low life decided to steal some of their gear after their show in Bristol last week. For some, they may have just packed up, cancelled the tour and headed home. Not L.A. Witch. They’re doing this tour until the very end and putting their all into every single show. The kindness and love from fellow fans and musicians has been overwhelming and just beautiful to see. I don’t think I’ve seen a bunch of people rally round like this, and it’s just a wonderful thing to see. For every shitty situation, there’s always some good. It’s the kindness of others that gets you through in instances like this.

I saw their first ever show in London in November at the Shacklewell Arms. A bunch of us crammed into a small, sweaty room to finally witness one of the best bands around. I’ve been going on and on about their music for 3 or 4 years now, and to have finally seen them last November was just a real highlight for me. To see them on Saturday? Oh man, it towers over that show for sure.

Their show at The Lexington was nothing short of divine. You could tell that they were playing with slight caution at the start, especially Sade as she was borrowing a guitar and pedals. However, the nerves slipped away with ease as she held that guitar as if it was her own. The way they played had no indication of what had happened a few nights before, but I noticed there was something about them this time that really hit me. They played with this unbelievable force and passion that made you just want to jump on stage and join in. They made you want to be part of their gang. It must be said that Ellie is a fantastic drummer and the way she basically annihilates the drums during Kill My Baby and Ain’t Comin’ Home is insane. For the most part she makes you wish you could play the drums, but for the remainder you just stare in awe of her beating the shit out of the drum kit.

Hearing songs like Good Guys and You Love Nothing was so great, especially as I don’t think Good Guys is really played much, or maybe at all. Heart Of Darkness closes the set. Irita really owns the set with her bass on Drive Your Car, and Sade rips into the song, Brian with this fury that is so wonderfully captivating.

As I gazed upon the stage, no part of me could think of a band that they reminded me of. I really cannot think of anyone or anything I have heard before, and I was instantly shot back in time to when I first heard them in 2013. It just smacks you blissfully in the face. I love being able to hear songs like Get Lost live because these early songs are the ones that had me hooked completely. Get Lost is a real highlight of the set because at the end, they just really let rip. It’s such a raucous song and they just do it so perfectly well in their set.  I guess part of me really loves them so much because if I had any musical talent, I’d want to sound like L.A. Witch. I stood with my eyes closed a lot and swayed during a few of their songs, just letting the music take me wherever. I’m having a really shit time at the moment, and I just wanted to hear something that would take me out of my mind and body. They most certainly did that, and for that hour or so- nothing in the world, nothing in my head mattered. I remember vividly closing my eyes during Ain’t Comin’ Home and just being covered in goose bumps. Most definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time and easily one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.

Each song is played with this way of just leaving you stunned, there is simply no denying just how great this band is and with their debut record FINALLY coming out this summer- I think everyone is finally going to realise just how brilliant they are and I have every ounce of faith that their debut record is probably going to get played to death by me, easily.

I managed to get the set list from the show, so if you’re interested they played:

Intro

You Love Nothing

Kill My Baby Tonight

Brian

Untitled

Ain’t Comin’ Home

Sleep

Feel Alright

Drive Your Car

Baby In Blue

Get Lost

Encore:

Good Guys

Heart Of Darkness.

 





MACHIINE: The Shacklewell Arms, 20th January 2017.

20 01 2017

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I’m fairly sure I have just witnessed one of the best live bands around and have probably been to a gig that might end up being my best of the year. I’ve got others lined up, but this one is staying etched upon my brain. I can’t unsee any of it and nor do I want to.

Made up of members from The Underground Youth, Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali and PINS- Machiine just ripped a hole right through the Shacklewell Arms with no apologies. They completely and utterly destroyed the place with their destructive and rambunctious sound. The kind of sound that makes you want to make your own noise.

I have seen many great shows at this venue and I can honestly say I’ve not seen anything like this before. They blitz through their debut Teaser EP with also a phenomenal cover of Garland Jeffreys track, Wild In The Streets. I remember hearing that song when I was super young on MTV and it stuck with me. To hear a band like Machiine turn it into a brilliantly smutty affair was great, they made it theirs and more.

Craig and Mark prowl on the stage and circle the floor. The stage is too small to hold all seven of them. Each band member plays as if they have been in Machiine for decades and decades, they don’t sound brand new- but their sound is so unique. I think also, not knowing what to expect truly made this show what it was- sensational. That’s the only word. I’ve left wanting to start my own band but I have no musical talent, so I’ll just write about it instead. I can happily say that this is one of the most in your face and most rowdy shows I’ve been to. It was the right kind of confrontational and the way Mark and Craig are with each other is brilliant. Mark has this impish grin on his face as they rip through What Bad Boys Do whereas Craig leaves you in awe wondering where he goes when he performs the songs. Each band member takes you on their own journey. Ola bangs the drums and shakes the tambourine as if her life depends on it, and keeps the steady pace and groove of the sounds. Honestly, if you weren’t there- you messed up. You missed out.

I hope this is only just the start, a taster of what is to come because there is sincerely nothing stopping Machiine from not only being YOUR favourite band, but a band that rule the airwaves and the world. Give them the world, save us all. The crowd did seem a little reserved but maybe they just didn’t know what to expect, but trust me when they come your way and into town- go see them. Don’t pay attention to the crowd, just do whatever the hell you want.

 





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





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!