Monday, 26 September 2011

The Others: Live @ The Lexington

It had been something like seven years since I had first seen The Others.

It has been six years since the release of their eponymous debut album in January 2005, five years since their second, and last album to date, followed just 18 months later and it has been four years since I last saw them live at Camden's Proud Galleries, whilst a little known Liverpudlian band called The Wombats were supporting.

The Others crashed onto a music scene in an age still basking in the reflected glow of The Libertines swiftly peaking upwards trajectory.

When Alan McGee would have swooped on any band that had ever had the fortune to share a pint with Pete Doherty, when 7" singles enjoyed a renaissance, and if the vinyl didn't appeal, then you could still pick it up on CD from your local HMV.
It was during these glory years that I spent my 21st birthday in Hyde Park with my friends, vodka, The Others and a bunch of assorted fans, groupies and hangers-on.

They had just played one of their much celebrated 'guerilla gigs', ramshackle affairs planned and spread via online forums, in the foyer of a BBC radio station in Great Portland Street, before decamping to the central London park for a second ad-hoc performance that saw the bassist playing whilst up a tree.

In a few short years I developed a taste for dodgy east-end venues, crowd surfing and stage diving, and gig-going was an at least weekly occurrence.

My, how times change.

Now, aged 28 my disposable income has been greatly reduced by household bills and a mortgage, my ears are damaged by tinnitus and the gigs attended are a lot more selective.

But I just couldn't resist The Other's recent live return.

Taking to the stage at The Lexington in Islington with a wealth of old favourites that soon saw me in thick of things, moshing with the best of them, alongside fans pogo-ing to songs that still bring back memories and still manage to unite people, despite all the years that have passed and the band's own falling out of favour with a fickle music press.

New tracks that the reunited band have been working on slotted right alongside the old standards, reminding us that they have away with a chorus that is distinctly recognisable as their own.

And even after all this time, I still couldn't resist the traditional stage invasion that accompanies the last song of the set, when the band become lost onstage amongst revellers and soon enough the drum-kit is fighting for space, and it felt like just like the old days again as The Others brought proceedings to a chaotically-joyfull, sweat-drenched close.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Crystal Fighters: Live @ Shepherds Bush Empire

Crystal Fighters' debut album 'Star Of Love' has pretty much been on constant rotation in my girlfriend's car for everything from the supermarket run to trips down motorways on course for weddings and back again.

The vastly layered and intriguingly experimental long player has now been deeply embedded in both our minds and trepidation and excitement of seeing how this translates live has brought us into the heart of the Shepherds Bush Empire.

I was genuinely surprised, and possibly a little downheartened as opener Solar System was played by something resembling a rather standard band set-up, with a pounding drum-kit and ferocious guitar sound wrapping itself around what on record is a bass-driven stomper of a dance-influenced beast.

But this was merely a tease, as three songs in and the familiar, assimilated dub-step drop of Swallow remains wholly intact for the live rendition, prompting me further into the throng of bodies tossed around with abandon before the stage as I throw my own shapes with joy.

It is within the crush of the crowd that you truly experience Crystal Fighters and all of their energy, delivered by the movement of people, and yet it is still possible to find yourself, with your hands in the air and with your own personal space to dance and be free, whilst the sweat drips down your back and spilt beer squelches and slips underfoot.

The band follow the twists and turns of the album live, proving themselves evermore eclectic and fascinating with each song, whether it be the manic pneumatic drumlines and harsh dance vibes of I Love London that is tailor-made for a Shoreditch scenester's rave, or the blissed out summer calypso sound of Plage that transports you to far-away beaches with dreams of dancing without end.  Every track is delivered effortlessly to a crowd that truly believe in this band, and by closing track At Home, with the lights up, the entire venue, from the lower stalls, to the ascending balconies, are in thrall, and singing back the chorus' simple refrain with unbelievable passion.

A crowd this dedicated are not fooled though, and no sooner have the band exited the stage do the cries for Xtatic Truth begin.  And sure enough they return, taking a brief detour via a cover of a 'Golpes Bajos' number before arriving at the called for crowd pleaser.  This is it, the end of the night, and the nearing of the end of the journey that Crystal Fighters have taken in support of their spectacular debut album.

Xtatic Truth pulls no punches, it is what everyone wanted and everyone gets exactly what they expected.  One last chance to jump around, dance around and sing, a dizzying euphoria flows in waves as the heaving, sweaty mass move together as one, jubilation spread by a powerful and hypnotic performance before being evicted from this fantasy and back onto the streets of Shepherds Bush and the ever nearing signs of Autumn.

At Home by Crystal Fighters

Saturday, 10 September 2011

9Blind: Live @ Camden Underworld

'We're 9Blind'

Those unacquainted with the North London rock band were served the briefest of introductions before the four-piece lunged headlong into their opening salvo of all new tracks, played in celebration of the 'Union EP' that had been uploaded to stream earlier in the week, ahead of its forthcoming official release.

Those that have followed 9Blind and contributed to their ongoing success had already familiarised themselves with the likes of Sincere Regards and Deleted Scenes, avoiding potentially embarrassing scenes of eager crowds shuffling awkwardly to dreaded 'new songs'.

The tracks played from the EP held no real surprises, and I doubt their fans would have it any other way, a change of direction would have been unwelcome, soaring guitars, drums being pounded into submission and vocals that flit from a screamo tendency to heartfelt and rousing singing are all part of the 9Blind signature sound that stands firm and these new songs bolster an already impressive arsenal of metal standards.

The wrapping up of new tracks laid out for those gathered was quickly followed by a diversionary blast through The Killers' Mr Brightside, given a testosterone injection and cranked up to 11 so that all the indie sheen falls away, leaving a chugging, metal monstrosity of a cover version.  And the singalongs continued with a brief clutch of familiar tracks plucked from last year's Negative Response To Change rounded out the night, headed up by my personal favourite, My Heart Bleeds.

One lowly drunk's careless and selfish moshing sadly halted the band whilst he was quickly ejected by the close-knit North London Bromance Core that follow 9Blind, this hold-up, combined with over-running supports and an impending clubnight in the same venue vastly truncated the headline set.

Having time for just two more songs before having to leave the stage, the evening was a joyful exhibition of a band's creations, though also troubled by minor inconveniences along the way, the most inconvenient of all being that physical copies of the EP that was due to be launched this very night, was sadly unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances.

Watching a band that hail from the same suburb as I do, facing such adversity when given an opportunity to shine is frustrating, but it is rewarding to watch 9Blind admirably battle on regardless.

credit where it's due:
photos courtesy of Chris Lawrence (DotCLP)

Monday, 5 September 2011


Through my many years as a musical connoisseur and journeys of discovery I have acquired a taste for more eclectic stylings and more obscure artists.

But occasionally the timeless combination of guitar, bass and drums will rescue me from the possibility of disappearing up my own arse.

And the latest addition to my generic mp3 player, sends thoughts of electronic noodlings scurrying with its rollicking rock'n'roll sound.

The Essex and London based three-piece, Getaway released their 6 track mini-album, IC, earlier in the summer, following on from their debut EP last december.

It unabashedly ploughs its influences from a fertile field of rock history repeating itself, delivered with a no-nonsense policy.

Recorded and mixed entirely in a garage in Waltham Abbey, it is a very true representation of a down-to-earth band that i have keenly watched flourish since their very first gig last March.

As the mini-album kicks off with The Stomp, Getaway assert themselves with a pounding drumline twinned with a toe-tapping guitar riff that builds as the track courses and swells with a playfull bounce.

The slightly more brooding 7A follows with a harder edge to the bluesy sound set out in the opener before Walk The Line lyrically gives a more whimsical and upbeat stance atop their take on the deep south-via-essex that carries the release to its halfway point.

It quickly becomes possible to pinpoint a number of musical touchstones referenced by Getaway's sound, the recycled garage rock sound that saw The Vines and The Datsuns hailed at the start of the decade and the grunge-hangover of Queens Of The Stone Age.

The remaining three tracks travel a similar path, with Benny's Carmen and Gemstone both owing a debt to the likes of The Black Keys and The Raconteuers.

Indeed, the influence of renaissance man, Jack White looms heavily through his incarnations in the White Stripes and The Dead Weather, with a new-take-on-an-old-sound guiding their sonic identity right through to closer Never Wanna See You Again, following a quiet-loud-quiet formula that yet again mixes up the various styles that have already served them well.

Getaway could hardly claim to be reinventing the wheel with their sound, but until we've finally mastered and mass-marketed hoverboards, what's wrong with the wheel exactly the way it is?

 download Getaway - Never Wanna See You Again
taken from the EP, IC

Thursday, 1 September 2011

glasswerk review roundup: august

as we bid adieu to the month of august i thought perhaps i should point you off in the directions of the various reviews that i have cultivated for glasswerk and have a quick recap of what they have had me listening to.

and to be honest, this month just gone i have mostly been listening to Crystal Fighters.  With a re-release for their album and standout single Plage both coming out early in August, and both of them arriving for me to review i must admit that i really can't get enough of their monumental dose of uplifting energy that takes its cues from so many disparate sources and filters both spanish folk music and bass-heavy dance music into perfect summertime listening.

Plage single review here.

Star Of Love album review here.

  stream Plage by Crystal Fighters

I was also lucky enough to get my name down to see the sold-out solo gig from Scroobius Pip as he worked his way through his debut album live infront of an audience for the very first time, some fans may have walked away disappointed that the setlist was entirely void of Dan le Sac collaborations, but the new material showcased held it's own without falling back on past glories and showed a much heavier side musically than was present on Angles and The Logic Of Chance.

Scroobius Pip live review here.

less impressive and hardly worth a mention was the album Veritas by Alex Skolnick Trio, which was practically a jazz-metal fusion album made for dinner parties.

by a strange twist of fate, my 9blind article also debuted on glasswerk before hitting this blog, and tonight I shall be attending the album launch of Gazelle Twin, whose album The Entire City, i reviewed for glasswerk in June.

  stream Gazelle Twin - The Entire City