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Gig Reviews

Monday, May 9, 2016 - 18:29 by Bren

“Who bought our last album?” asks Less Than Jake guitarist and frontman Chris Demakes, two songs into their set at the O2 Academy.  The audience response is mixed, but good humoured.  “Who downloaded it for free?” he follows up, this time the audience response is slightly louder. 

“Who doesn’t give a shit about anything after Hello Rockview?” The audience response is overwhelming, laughter filling a packed out venue as the banter continues back and forth between the band and their fans.  Despite the audience’s apparent preference for their earlier material, Less Than Jake continue on regardless with the first track off their latest album See The Light, as the horns kick in for the opening of “Good Enough”, and with that the tone for the evening is set. 

Whilst ten of the eighteen songs that make up the evenings set list will come from Hello Rockview, and earlier album Losing Streak, it is doubtful that the audience response to a flippant question was the driving force for this.  This band came to play the songs they wanted to play, and over the course of 90 minutes they play a set that touches on six of the bands albums.  A set embellished with toilet paper cannons, giant yellow balloons being thrown out into the crowd by a Lucha Libre, and a first time gig goer being invited up on to stage to dance with the band.  More than just coming to “play”, Less Than Jake came to party. 

If that set the tone, then the tempo is set by the opening number “Sugar in Your Gas Tank”, with the sustain on the opening guitar chord hanging over the venue as the drums and bass gallop to the fore, leading a charge. The repeated outro of “…non stop spinning world…”, whilst originally framed to speak to the confusion of adolescence upon the songs release in 1996, tonight feels repurposed to speak to the pace of the show.  A pace that, by the chorus of second song “The Ghosts of Me and You”, has clearly been shown to be infectious; with the crowded mosh pit in front of the stage bouncing and dancing along to the music.

It is not until the fourth song, Losing Streak’s “Dopeman”, that the tempo lets up slightly.  This song gives the trombone and sax more of the spotlight, and the call and response between the trombone and the bass guitar during the bridge is as a tight as it is on the record.  Which should not come as a surprise, after all four of the five band members on stage have been playing together since 1993; they are clearly well practiced.

They keep the songs authentic by reproducing the album versions as best as they can, even down to playing the vocal samples and intros for the crowd pleasing “All My Best Friends Are Metalheads” off Hello Rockview, and Losing Streak’s “Automatic”. In terms of the stage mix the balance between the instruments is very good.  The drums sit nicely behind the rest of the band, the brass are round with rich tones, and the intricate bass lines are given the foreground, ably supported by the comping ska chords of the guitar.  

It is only around the half way point of the show, the above mentioned “All My Best Friends….”,  that any cracks appear.  While musically the instrumentation remains on point, the vocals start to waver a little in terms of timing; words are stretched and there are a couple of issues of intelligibility.  These issues do not seem to have an affect on the crowd who sing along with every word regardless.  Not just of this song, but of every song, and given that it is May 5th that means that there is time before the end for a rousing sing-along of “Cinco de Mustache”.  The entire venue joins in with the a capella song, broken voices and all. 

Crucially, it would seem, perfection in the performance is not what is needed tonight.  Instead tonight is all about singing and dancing, legs swinging like metronomes to the insistent ska rhythms while voices are sung hoarse singing along, and singing back when needed.

It is telling that the songs, the majority of which were first released in the mid 90’s, are  able to speak to an audience of all ages. “History of a Boring Town” connects with the both the ageing fan, satisfying their nostalgia for rebellion, and the young fans for who such nascent feelings and frustrations are just appearing.  

Unified under the common banner of a set firmly rooted in the bands beginnings, the crowd leave after the encore ending “Gainsville Rock City” smiling, exhausted, and clearly looking forward to future visits from this band.

(A full playlist of the set can be found as a Spotify playlist at this link: spotify:user:lastmandancing:playlist:0rqD7oUMauOdtjUzwAb2M4) 

Rating:
8
Topics:
Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 12:59 by Spindles

Amanda Fucking Palmer.

Three words that are pretty much all you'll ever need to describe this seemingly unstoppable force of an artist.

You need more than that? Okay...

It was back in 2007 that I was first introduced to her music. I'm not quite sure how it came about, but I think it was the result of Googling 'Dark Cabaret' as a musical genre and discovering Projekt Records' A Dark Cabaret album. It was on this collection of songs on which the first track was a little ditty called Coin Operated Boy by a band I'd never heard of called The Dresden Dolls. It was an amusing tune, musing on the benefits and drawbacks of an artificial partner over a real relationship, but it was the the inventive piano arrangement and an edge of dark power in her voice that sent me immediately back to Google, frantically searching for more. I think I spent the best part of the next month listening to The Dresden Dolls' album on repeat, soaking up the raft of emotions, themes and ideas that flowed through every tune. Tracks such as Half Jack even had me dusting off my own piano to figure out how they were played. It was the richness of sound that they managed to achieve with the combination of a drummer, pianist and vocals that I found was truly stunning.

So, it's safe to say that, at this point, I was a fan.

Fast-forward over eight years, several more albums including the sublime Evelyn Evelyn with Jason Webley, countless live tours, impromptu ninja gigs, joining perfectly with author Neil Gaiman, blowing apart Kickstarter and giving a TED talk that has now been viewed over 3 million times on Youtube.

It seemed very much like it was the right time for her to have written a book about her experiences. And that's exactly what she's done. It's this book and the promise of an intimate evening with the lady herself that has brought all of us here to a sold out event at St George's, a converted church in Bristol now re-fitted as a live music venue.

Seemingly it's a bit of a surprise for Amanda herself that she's performing in a church, but she turns it to her advantage, opening with a soulful a cappella song that reverberates around the hall and commands the attention of all in attendance. The first few songs of the evening are tracks from the wonderful Who Killed Amanda Palmer album and pull the audience gently into her grasp. The evening from there on is a mixture of songs covering the span of her career, engaging anecdotes, passages from her book, and much more.

I still find it amazing how she manages to take the audience on an incredible, emotional journey where, one minute you are on the verge of tears with a heart-rending tune and the next you are literally crying with laughter as she performs renditions of songs such as Dudley Moore and Peter Cook's Jump. She flows flawlessly from hilarious songs like Vegemite on the piano to the more thoughtful and ukulele powered In My Mind.

It's been obvious over the years that she has built up a deeply personal connection with her fans as evidenced tonight by her bringing them up on stage to variously choose passages from her book or lend her their iPad. The evening feels like a conversation between old friends swapping tales and sharing experiences. It is this bond that she has built upon which has allowed her to succeed so completely on platforms such as Kickstarter and now Patreon. Her audience are personally invested in her art and her music and it only works to enhance the appreciation of it.

To prove that she's not going to let a little thing like pregnancy get in the way of putting on a show, she plays and talks for over two hours, introducing us to the wonderful Whitney Moses with whom she duets perfectly for several tunes. She then vows to spend the time remaining between the end of the show and when the venue finally kicks everyone out signing books, t-shirts, boobs, arms and most other things thrust in front of her. It's nearly quarter to midnight when the queue has finally dispersed when she agrees, still with a smile on her face, to pose for a last photo to accompany this very article.

So, if you do get the chance to catch this one woman tour de force at one of her remaining dates, then I sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this evening. There are still tickets available for some of the dates and you can get details from http://amandapalmer.net/shows/

If, however, you have never had the pleasure of listening to her music or hearing her talk then go out and do so immediately. Then you too will understand why she is, simply: Amanda Fucking Palmer.

Rating:
10
Topics:
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 12:32 by David

If the truth is stranger than fiction, then surely science truths must be stranger than science fiction?

In a cosy anteroom of Chelsea Old Town Hall we get a demonstration of this. Pop-Up Screens are treating us to a series of films with an analysis of their premise from a scientific perspective.

The event covers five films: Alien, Apollo 13, Terminator 2, Good Will Hunting and Shaun Of The Dead. All well known films, touching on various disciplines from materials science, mathematics, virology and others.It's a bright, sunny London afternoon, so it's obviously time for a bright, sunny London zombie film.

The format of the day comprises an introduction to the major scientific themes of the movie in the form of a discussion between interviewer Helen Arney, virologist Karl Byrne providing the squishy science, and comedian/youtuber Richard Sandling chipping in with a view from the world of funny. 

Wait a second....Zombification? Science? Aren't those things mutually exclusive? Zombies are surely just made up stories?

Well yes...and no.

This is the nub of the matter. Whilst there are certainly arguments to say that the zombie mythos is just a recent hollywood creation, there are glimmers of older stories that the mythology draws from. 

Helen makes for an engagingly enthusiastic interviewer, clearly as fascinated by some of the revelations as the audience. She's well prepared and the structure of the lecture pieces have been compartmentalized into themes which break down well across the movie.

Richard provides commentary on the imagery of the zombie culture in films and how that plays out in Shaun of the Dead and how this symbolism has changed with the times. This particular bit of the conversation has birthed what I believe to be a brand new word after his comments on 1950's paranoia - "Zommunists". I really hope that no-one else has got to that one first!.

Karl Byrne knows his stuff, he takes us through the roots of zombie mythology in Haitian tales of Pufferfish Tetrodotoxin concoctions and plant extract created to dope up slave workers. This particular plant is, apparently, the evil cousin of the potato! But don't worry, potatoes only become evil when peeled, sliced and fried - as would anyone I suppose...

Good old human beings, they can always be trusted to be the most inventive things on the planet... Not even close.

For the true masters of controlling the will of others we get fungi, barnacles and parasitic wasps (over the course of this segment, it became glaring apparent that Karl does not like wasps). The few centuries that people have been experimenting with bending others to their will is strictly amateur hour when compared with the tricks that evolution has up its sleeve. The remote controlled cockroach is a particularly nasty example. Very clever, yes, but nasty.

It's interesting, inventive and gruesome stuff. Mind you, it's not anywhere near half as scary as what's yet to come.We get a break from the science at this point for the first half an hour of the movie itself.

I haven't seen this film for a few years and had forgotten just how good it is. There is so much to remember, with what would now be considered a huge number of notable cameos. It's a wonderful compliment to the science. To be honest I could have watched either or and still be comfortable that I had been thoroughly entertained.

And just when you're settling into the film, the pause button is pressed and we're back to the facts.

This is the real deal now. What DO we need to be scared of. Cats come out particularly badly, what with the Toxoplasma Gondii and the rabies. And, don't think just because you don't have a cat you're okay on that score, most of us have the cat virus, some get it really bad. You thought the crazy cat lady stuff was a coincidence? Just be glad you're not a rat, aroused by the smell of cat pee, they go amorously scurrying to their doom...

The problem with having enthusiastic, engaging people disseminating these sort of facts is that, because they are quite reassuring about really horrifying stuff that is fairly mundane and widespread, you can sit there and say things like "wow" and "gosh" rather than, much more appropriately, running screaming from the room to bathe in disinfectant and never come out of your home again. The other problem is that we are also assured that it wouldn't do you any good anyway and that "THE VIRUSES ARE COMING.....MWAH..HA..HAAAAAA!" and we are all eventually going to die of the flu.

We are then treated to an insight into the brain, specifically which bits you'd have to destroy in order to kill off a zombie and why. Hollywood, it appears, has been taking some liberties as normal. Why Zombies are bite-y, why teenagers are teenager-y and why the malfunction of certain parts of the brain would give those all important shuffling and shambling characteristics.

After we've been both terrified and educated in equal measure, it's back to the film for the middle act. Yup, still good! 

The final part of the lecture discusses how quickly a zombie apocalypse would spread. How many infected humans would be the minimum amount to categorically ensure the extinction of the human species (think of a whole number between 0 and 2. I'll give you a clue, you can't have 0 or 2). The maths makes an appearance in the form of survival equations and existential flowcharts. This is not simple stuff and on its own may have had your brain shutting down and you drooling vacantly in a very undead manner.

With the lecture approaching a close, we are given a slight glimmer of hope. If we were all infected with the zombie plague, we STILL wouldn't be top of the food chain. It's very likely that the everyday bugs and microbes on our bodies would happily evolve into something that could feast on zombie a la carte in about three weeks. 

So, the safe advice would be to head out into the ocean (no ships cat!) at the first sign of brain eating undead rising from the grave, wait a month or two for the human race to be converted and the zombie race to be eaten by our microscopic friends and all will be fine...until the first person dies back on shore that is and the whole thing kicks off anew.

Resuming the film for the final act, we get all the good stuff as I remembered it: the pub, the rifle, pool cues, Queen, fire, etc. 

Between the science and the film, we have a fabulous afternoons' entertainment, I'd love to do something this again. It was refreshing as well to see critique of a film that supported rather than picked it apart. The film is shown on its own merits and thoroughly enjoyed without snide or pedantic finger pointing at what it got wrong. 

Thankfully having a good laugh at the film is a good way to diffuse the creeping sensation that you're not safe. 

Yeah, actually don't think about creeping sensations, they could be the the virus creeping from your brain down your nerve endings.

Night, night, sleep tight and don't let the Necrotizing Fasciitis that is apparently already all over your body eat you alive while you are having flu nightmares...

Keep an eye out on the Pop Up Screens website for details of future events.

Rating:
9
Topics:
Tuesday, March 10, 2015 - 08:36 by Spindles

First up tonight are local Bristolian boys, Tax The Heat, who recieve a very warm welcome indeed from their home crowd. It's easy to see why. These nicely turned out gents boast a sound that is equal parts Rolling Stones, Presidents of the USA and Bad Company. They belt out blues heavy anthems for a full fourty-five minute set to rapturous applause in what has very quickly become a packed out venue before ceding the stage to tonight's main event.

It's obvious from the outset that Reef are very at home in this venue as they launch into the first part of their set. They obviously have a history here as Gary urges the crowd to give new guitarist, Jesse Wood, a warm Locarno welcome, harking back to one of the venue's previous incarnations.

Now, before we get onto the gig itself, I feel I have to share with you the fact that Gary Stringer currentl looks exactly how I imagine Andrew Lincoln might look like as Rick Grimes in a couple of season's time. Not convinced? Then you can make up your own mind.

With that little image exorcised from by brain, the gig itself was great. A nice mix of classics with a couple of brand new tunes thrown in to whet the appetite from what we can only hope will be a forthcoming album. The night felt a little heavy on tracks from Glow. Hardly surprising, given it's position as the bands most commercially successful offering, but I would like to have heard a slightly more varied set.

As for the new tunes, it feels as though the band are taking a much more mellow direction going forward with Stringer strapping ona his acoustic guitar for new track, Lone Rider.

Highlights of the evening predictably came in the form of Come Back Brighter, Consideration, the anthemic Place your Hands, and set closer Naked. Although there was a definte heart warming moment for me personally as they belted out an encore rendition of Yer Old, one I used to play for various people's birthdays in my DJ'ing days and incredibly apt as I turned one year older only a day later.

If you have the chance to catch them at one of their remaining show, I would highly recommend it as you'll get a good idea of where these guys have come from to get to where they are, and an inkling of what to expect from here.

Check out their website at http://www.reefband.com/ for tour dates.

Rating:
7
Topics:
Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 20:14 by Spindles

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The O2 Islington is one of my favourite venues. I love that you can choose whether you want to be down in the pit at the front, or take the calmer option of the mezzanine bar and watch the proceedings from on high. For me, it's the perfect venue for Skillet's first ever London headline show.

Tonight's sold out crowd is a good reflection of Skillet's popularity here in the UK. It's surprising that it's taken these guys so long to book a headlining tour of our fair isle, but, talking to lead vocalist, songwriter and bassist extraordinaire John Cooper before the gig, it's clear that they were of the opinion that they only had a small, hardcore following. This is, most definitely not the case.

The lights go down and we get a soothing violin and cello introduction before the rest of the band hit the stage to rapturous applause and launch headlong into a blistering rendition of Whispers in the Dark. The band are a whirlwind of energy around the stage as they rattle through some of their anthemic back catalogue at breakneck speed. The pace slows momentarily as drummer and co-vocalist, Jen, comes to the front of the stage to perform a beautifully stripped down introduction to Awake and Alive. I could easily have listened to an entire version of the song performed like this, but after the introduction, Jen returns to the drums and a full bodied version of the track kicks in which is just as satisfying and epic.

Depending on how fans first came to hear of Skillet means that not everyone may be aware of the fact that Skillet are a christian metal band, having first encountered them through their inclusion on the WWE musical roster. You cannot help but appreciate the level of optimism and positive energy the band promote. This is brought sharply into focus during the introduction for The Last Night which is dedicated to anyone who has, or currently is sufferring from depression. John credits his beliefs for carrying him through the darker times and, regardless of your beliefs, you cannot help but feel uplifted by the sentiment within the song.

Some of the biggest cheers of the evening belonged to Jen, who hails from just up the road in Coventry, as she performs a drum solo showcasing just how sickeningly talented she actually is. The introductions section of the night shows off some of the phenomenal talent that exists within the band comprising violinist Jonathan Chu, cellist Tate Olson, lead guitarist Seth Morrison and, finally, the ludicrously talented Korey Cooper, guitarist, pianist, vocalist and co-songwriter amongst other things.

The rest of the evening is a showcase of hits from their impressive eight album back catalogue and it's testament to the band's enthusiasm that the whole room is still jumping when their set ends with the anthemic Monster after an hour and a half of them being on the stage.

In summary, tonight was an outstanding set from a band that deserve to be a lot bigger her in the UK than they currently are. Hopefully, with the latest round of shows under their belts they will return with more shows soon. When they inevitably do, I would defy anyone to come out from one of their gigs feeling anything other than upbeat, uplifted and ready to take on the world.

Keep an eye out on the site in the next few days for not only the podcast of my interview with John Cooper, but also a competition in which we'll be giving away a bunch of CDs including Skillet's platinum certified Awake.

Rating:
9
Topics:
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 21:50 by Spindles

Reading's Sub89 is a fantastic venue. I've had the pleasure of attending several gigs there of late and I've always had a great evening. Granted the majority of the gigs I've been to have been nowhere near sold out, but there have always been enough people there to make it a good night. Tonight is no exception. As Nordic Giants take the stage, there's probably about seventy or so people there who quickly fill up the dance floor and prepare themselves to be blown away.

Having not seen Nordic Giants before, I was interested to see what they had to offer. The dual screens on the stage flicker into life and begin to weave a futuristic tale concerning the collapse of society accompanied by an intricate score from the heavily costumed duo that comprise the band. What follows is a phenomenal show from an obviously incredibly talented pair of performers who play all manner of instruments between them including trumpets and an intriguing guitar / violin bow combination. The pairing of short film visuals and the music make for an awesome immersive experience and I particulary enjoyed picking out the animated homages to films such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Ponyo, The Wall and Summer Wars among others. If you do get the opportunity to catch these guys I would highly recommend it, especially if you're a fan of horror and sci fi.

On to the main event and 65daysofstatic launch headfirst into the evening. Opening with the anthemic Heat Death Infinity Splitter sets the bar for the rest of the evening extremely high and the band look like they are not out to disappoint. The evening is justifiably focused on tracks from their most recent album, Wild Light but there are also tunes there to keep fans of their earlier releases happy including the outstanding Retreat! Retreat! with Matt DIllon's samples from Singles being the closest the band come to having a lyric over the course of the show. As the audience lose themselves to the music, so too do the band and after what feels like far too brief a period of time it's all over barring a fantastic rendition of what the band state is probably the first tune they ever wrote and which is gratefully received by a satiated crowd who see them off the stage with rapturous applause.

The UK music scene currently has some amazing talent on offer and 65daysofstatic are most definitely at the forefront of that offering. Tonight's show is absolute proof were it ever needed that we no longer live in an age where bands require a traditional line up in order to captivate audiences. The post-rock/instrumental scene is definitely on the rise and I cannot urge you enough to get out there and try some of it. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

Rating:
10
Topics:
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 23:58 by David

I confess! 

Even without the aid of Cardinal Fang, Cardinal Biggles and a comfy chair.... I confess! 

I like Monty Python... 

Controversial eh? 

No.

There's a reason for this :

1969. The end of the 60's introduced us to a few things that altered the world around us, probably forever. For me - four things made the most impression :

Apollo 11 lands on the moon. 
Led Zeppelin introduce us to the heavy sound that will spawn a million riffs. 
A long haired, bearded and ragged man introduces a strange new comedy programme with the word "IT'S!", Liberty Bell played and there was PYTHON.
And l was born. 

NASA stopped going back to the moon in the early 1970's, Led Zep disbanded in 1980 with the death of John Bonham, Monty Python went their separate ways in 1983 and the death of Graham Chapman looked like that would be that. So, for my whole life there've been three great things that influenced me, a love of science driven from the dawn of the space age, rock music (when I was old enough to appreciate it) and being SILLY. 

I would argue, and that wouldn't be the five minute argument, it would be the full half hour for £5, that being silly is the most important of the three to me. I never saw the moon landings, Zep, or Python live, I was too young for all of them, so it was TV repeats, video and then Youtube. The only thing left was being silly and after the final performance of the "Dead Chapman Sketch" (Norwegian Chapmans stun easily), there would be no Army Colonel to tell me to "Stop That!"

Forty five years after Monty Python first appeared (no - one expected them, their chief weapon was surprise....etc..), they are playing some shows, and I was lucky enough to see the first night. This is a once in a lifetime gig, if you can get to see it. These are comedy rock stars, and some of them, at least, don't want to be doing farewell tour after farewell tour. Michael Palin has said he won't go on the road, presumably having been all over the world for the BBC there must be loads of countries that wont let him back in, probably because they don't want foreigners coming around being nice to people.

This was Python without the cheap BBC sets, this was a slick, well put together stage show. BIG lights, BIG Video screens, a BIG orchestra, a BIG chorus line. This had all the hall-marks of Eric Idles' hollywood-ization stamped (possibly with a 16 ton weight) all over it. The content however was very familar. If truth be told, the Pythons could probably have stood on an empty stage and shouted into the audience,"OK - 'Spanish Inquisition' - OFF YOU GO", and then waited around for the audience to start, finish and then applaud the sketch on their own, and everyone would have had a jolly good time. 

What we did get was a replay of many of the Python's greatest and, in a few places, some not so greatest hits. There were Llamas of the Dangerous type, Albatross' of the Interval type, Penguins of the Exploding type, Kangaroos of the Philosophical type and a Parrot. There were lots of video clips from the original series that served as distractions for scenery and scene changes, only one new one, at the beginning of the show, with a time travelling blue box ... yes, that's right... the "RETARDIS".Honestly, that's what THEY called it, please don't turn up at my house with flaming torches.

The sketches had been cut together to feed from one to another a lot more smoothly than they would have ever done on the tv show, which worked particularly well in the second half alongside more of the most famous material. I don't think there were any major omissions from the famous sketches, the only thing really missing was Graham Chapman, who appears to have made some pitiful excuse about not appearing on account of death. Lazy sod, plenty of other dead stuff turned up.

Some material was updated, "Blackmail", for example, was a lot longer and contained the input from a guest celebrity. Although said celebrity managed to fluff his lines and came across very amateur dramatics.The "Penis Song" has now been extended to include all genders and preferences and has left me with a tune in my head that is deninitely not one that I can burst into song in public with or they'd stick me in the dock, and I won't...come...back!!.There was also Ballet. That's right BALLET!!

We roamed the world, from China to Finland and Australia, presumably to make Mr Palin feel at home, or is that NOT at home? On the performance front, age hasn't been too unkind, although Terry J needed queue cards quite a bit, Gilliam was, as usual, playing grotesques, Idle was clearly loving it and despite Cleese having a gravelly throat, watching him struggle not to laugh whilst performing with Palin was fantastic. It was also nice that they included Carol Cleveland, although there didn't seem to be a lot for her to do.

I have to say, especially after 2 weeks reflection before writing this, that I wish they'd tweaked things a bit more, because although it was great to see all this live, I knew it TOO well. This could, of course, be viewed as "GET A LIFE YOU SILLY MAN" so its my own faultI On the other hand, Led Zeppelin played the O2 in 2007, I didn't get to see that (damn you, other 2 Million people trying to get tickets at the same time...), no-one complained that there was no new material, there were no cries of "OH, NO , not Stairway to Heaven .. AGAIN!!, BOOOOO , WHERE'S THE NEW STUFF!"

This was also a stage show on the edge. The edge of music hall, the edge of turning into Variety (yes with a capital V), the very form of entertainment that these guys wanted to get away from in the 60's. Its easy to see why they wouldn't want to keep trotting this out and becoming a sad shadow of themselves. These are the FINAL shows. They make this very clear at the end with two slides on the big screens.

Graham Chapman 
1941 - 1989 

and 

Monty Python 
1969 to 2014 

All of the evidence points to this being the end of the road for Python. These shows are money driven and this is plainly intimated, the interval screens displayed a "Merch-O-Meter", they're getting back money that they lost in a law suit over "Spamalot" and John Cleese is paying for another divorce. So, we are left with the end of the third of my four (FOUR, there are FOUR, THINGS), life changers from 1969. There will shortly only be me left to carry the torch. What we need then is a silly, rock, astronaut to put things back in order, an "Urban Spaceman" if you will. Hang on..That's Neil Innes !  Wasn't he sort of in Monty Python as well? He wasn't in the live show!

So, was the forty-five year wait for me to see this worth it? This one's a bit of a paradox. I wish I'd been a bit more surprised by the material.The guy sitting behind me clearly was, I thought he was going to have a heart attack with laughter!

BUT...

If I hadn't known it quite so well, would I have wanted to go? After careful consideration, I'll give this one a rating of 

SPAM out of SPAM. 

Rating:
8
Topics:
Saturday, July 12, 2014 - 11:22 by Spindles

It's the perfect day for a gig at the Bowl, warm, slightly overcast and, most importantly, not raining. Just as the first band is due to hit the stage all the early birds who have staked a claim to their spot for the day recieve a surprise treat as Mr Vedder performs a solo, acoustic version of Porch to rapturous applause. This sets the over-riding tone for the day that, despite the size of the venue, the band manage to inject a wonderful feeling of intimacy into the proceedings.

Eddie calls up the first act of the afternoon, hardcore punk supergroup, Off! who rattle through a barrage of short, punchy numbers which easily get the crowd fired up for what is to come. Mike McCready then introduces Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to the stage, who present an impeccable, if slightly lacklustre performance. Don't get me wrong, they're a great band and the performance was flawless, I just felt that their level of audience interaction was a bit too low as a support act and that they started to drag a bit towards the end of their set.

Most of that feeling was probably down to the high level of anticipation ahead of Pearl Jam's eventual appearance. When they finally do arrive on stage, it's with the wonderfully melodic Pendulum which ease us gently into the set. This is followed up by the trio of Wash, Nothingman and Black which you would have to have a heart of stone not to well up by the end of. Once the crowd has been suitably emotionally satisfied the gig erupts with the explosive combination of Go, Brain of J, Comatose, Save you and Hail Hail. Eddie pauses briefly between a couple of these tunes to make sure everyone down in the pit is doing okay. The underlying reasons for which do not need re-stating here but it's clear that, as a band, they care deeply about their fan's welfare. It's during one of these moments that we get one of the funnier quips of the day as Eddie lays down the law that you should probably only be crowd surfing if you're small enough that you think he would kick your ass. His 'taking care of your neighbour' speech segues wonderfully into Mind Your Manners followed up with Do The Evolution, Got Some and Lightning Bolt. After another humorous interlude about beer carriers it's time then to take it down a notch with the beautiful Nothing As It Seems accompanied by Boom Gaspar on keys. A couple more of the bands more melodic anthems follow with Given To Fly and Sirens before everything kicks into high gear with the last few tracks of the first set: Corduroy, Even Flow, Let The Records Play, Spin The Black Circle and a phenomenal rendition of Rearviewmirror belt out across the venue leaving in their wake a lot of very happy fans.

The audience are given a brief respite as the stage is reset with chairs, the candle lamps are lowered and the universe lends its hand to the proceedings by providing a massive, glowing full moon which rises majestically over the back of the park. The band return to stage armed mostly with semi acoustics and, in the case of Jeff Ament, a particularly lovely acoustic upright bass and perform their offering of Yellow Moon back to the universe. Eddie then relates a story about music that inspired him as a youth before being joined on stage by Simon Townshend and performing a heartfelt rendition of Townshend's I'm The Answer. Next up is a rarity from the Pearl Jam vaults, Footsteps before tribute is paid to Andrew Woods with covers of Chloe Dancer and Crown of Thorns. A superbly elongated version of Better Man sets us up for the sprint to the finish line with Jeremy, Lukin and Porch, complete with a patented Vedder crowd walk in which he became so absorbed that he barely made it back to the stage just in time for the big finish.

The second encore kicks off with a cover of The Beatles' Rain and the band are accompanied for this number by George Harrison's son, Dhani. Tonight's rendition of Daughter morphs into something very different as Eddie fumes at the hypocrisy and cruelty of unjustified conflicts and killings taking place around the world. His eyes blaze as vents his frustration and the song segues into a cover of Edwin Starr's War and the audience eagerly respond in kind. We're definitely approaching the end of the evening as the big guns of Blood and the endlessly anthemic Alive whip the audience into a fury before capping off the evening with a blistering rendition of Rockin' In The Free World accompanied by the whole of Off! providing tambourine support. The relentless applause at the end of the set co-erces the whole band to the front of the stage to take a bow before heading off for either a massive party, or a well deserved end of tour rest. Playing for over three hours, Pearl Jam prove once again beyond a shadow of a doubt that their longevity and success are both hard earned and well deserved. A thoroughly enjoyable evening and one in which it felt very much like one of the biggest bands in the world just invited you into its front room for a bit of a sing, a glass of wine and a nice chat.

Rating:
9
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