April 05

Tuesday 5th April

Hugh Cornwell
Fleece & Firkin, Bristol

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Hugh touring his new album Beyond Elysian Fields arrived to a comfortably full Fleece. The crowd was a mix of curious younger punks and long term Stranglers heads, the latter taking their position to the front of the stage and easily spotted by their black attire. Looking relaxed and as confident as he did nearly 30 years ago, the crowd lapped it up. Working as a three piece made the sound tight and carefully weaving old Stranglers songs in-between solo material kept everybody happy. Highlights included Grip, Nubiles, Nuclear Device, Out of my Mind, Tank and a blistering version of Down in the Sewer as the closing song blew everyone away. Rumours that Jet Black can't play it anymore as it's too fast and long are of course cruel and untrue... Despite a joker stealing the only set list just before the encore, “man of the people”, Hugh, came out shortly after the end of the gig to chat with fans and sign merch. A musical journey of over 1 hour and 40 minutes left those who witnessed promising not to leave it so long next time before seeing how an old friend is getting along. He's really doing fine and the latest album shows he's still got what it takes. See  www.hughcornwell.com.

Wednesday 6th April

We Are Scientists, The Editors
Barfly, Cardiff

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Last minute replacements for the Moving Units, Californians We Are Scientists hit the stage at the half-full Barfly, looking, well, like Young Scientists of the Year (circa 1978!), but sounding like everyone’s favorite new band. Ripping through their set like a whippet on speed, the three-piece left the room stunned and most of the CDs they brought with them for the tour (The Wolfs Hour) sold out. Highlight of the set The Great Escape is a slice of classic guitar rock and you should own one today. Try: www.wearescientists.com

How could Brum’s The Editors follow that? Well by turning in their own charged set of guitar rock which would suit a stadium rather than the tiny confides of a Barfly. More confident and polished than their appearance at the start of the year the band flew through debut single Bullets and gained a massive cheer for upcoming single Munich which looks like it may be the break for the boys. Singer Tom joked that he had tied his shoe laces properly as he’d fallen over the last time they played Barfly but it didn’t stop him throwing his tall frame around the stage and finally his telecaster to the floor during the final song. Another tight set and only time before they will be in venues much bigger than this. A blistering night for guitar music but where were you Cardiff? The Editors can be found at www.editorsofficial.com

 

Thursday 7th April

The Delays, Manic Street Preachers
Brangwyn Hall, Swansea

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You can’t help feeling sorry for The Manics. Ever since the success of Everything Must Go they’ve been struggling, trying to find a direction, and let’s face it, as far as the music press are concerned they can’t win. They go back to their punk roots. ”Try again lads, you’re too old for that angry punk nonsense” they make a mature pop album” you’ve sold out again lads, hang your heads in shame, you fat middle aged bastards!”.

Anyway they may have disappointed us now and again on record (well only the once, with Know Your Enemy as far as I’m concerned), but they rarely disappoint live, and once again at the Brangwyn Hall they remind us (even though we should know better) how much pleasure we can get from loud guitars, beer and sweating profusely! And sweat we did (or maybe it was all coming from the head of Diddy Davis standing in front of me), in a venue so small EVERYONE was down the front! this was rock & roll, and we were making the most of it! (holds hand aloft in that two fingered rawk salute manner). Though I admit to being slightly concerned that the American documentary crew present might have captured a middle aged bloke bouncing up and down to Motorcycle Emptiness!..immortalised on some DVD release for my kids to watch! eek!..

Fair do’s The Manics have never sounded better. The small venue helping even Ocean Spray, Let Robeson Sing and the glossy pop of the Lifeblood material sound raw and exciting. From the moment they came on stage, Nicky Wire, resplendent in his cap and gown (from a ceremony earlier, awarding him an honorary fellowship to Swansea University), they didn’t let up. The glaring omissions of Australia, Kevin Carter and surprisingly, Faster indicated this was no greatest hits set, but one for the fan and the fans were happy! Everyone was happy!..even the fella standing next to me who, during the intro to Motown Junk, voiced his slight disappointment they didn’t play all of Paradise City was happy! heh heh..

Oh, I should mention the support band, shouldn’t I? I was looking forward to seeing The Delays as much as The Manics, and despite ‘technical difficulties’ they were a joy to behold. Opening as usual with the sublime pop of Wanderlust.. They followed with the sublime pop of the rest of their set. Treating us to material from their new album, as well as Nearer To Heaven, Long Time Coming and other poptastic faves. I like The Delays..and so should everyone else..

A great night!..and the British Empire Panels remain intact..phew..

Our Local Scoop

Monday 11th April

Blind River Scare, Lone Pine
Meze Lounge, Newport

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First time at this venue. A split level club where you go up a small set of steps to see the band or stay in the bottom deck and drink yourself into oblivion with Pitchers of cheap beer. The latter seemed to be what most of Newport was doing (while discussing the Armed Bank Robbery which had happened around the corner earlier!).
Missed Blind River Scare when they played the Riverfront last month, but it seems that beards are back for this quartet (except for the female violinist!). Top notch bass and drums backed some clever, well crafted tunes, sung with a quirky vocal. Final song, Keep Saying Sorry showed how tight they are. Somewhere between a folk and an indie band, they are worth checking out. A home produced 2 track CD is available at their gigs 

Lone Pine launched into the first two songs with passion and  vigour. Come Around and It Wasn’t Very Kind are simply great tunes that Mick and Keef would be proud of. As well as the rocked-up numbers, these chaps show their more tender side and do some rather nice soulful slower songs such as Hold On. With the guitar players swapping their Gibson’s and Fender’s for Mandolin and Lap Steel every other song, the sound changes and  the interest levels stay up in the chatty crowd throughout the set. Not so sure about the 10 minute blues jam that broke out mid-way though (keep it for the rehearsal room or that difficult third album boys). These guys just get better and more confident with each gig and we just love that lap steel guitar thang....

 

Tuesday 19th April

The Arlenes
St Bonaventures Club, Bristol

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Set in the bowels of the large church of St Bonaventures, the Social Club is one of the friendliest venues in Britain. Red velvet curtains, good Guinness and a top PA help, but the music has never failed to disappoint. Didn’t catch the name of the local boys who were on first, but if they really had only rehearsed the night before with new Norwegian (and giant!) stand up bass player, it didn’t show. Some mellow country rock with a bit of indie jangle chucked in on a few songs.
Then the mighty Arlenes hit the stage, but what’s this? no Mrs Arlene! Big Steve’s wife was missing from the line up! Steve quickly reassured the crowd that Stephanie was in London resolving some immigration legalities and stand-in wife for the evening, Oz singer Emily Barker from the Low Country knew the songs better than himself. Well it might be acceptable to have two wives in certain US States mate, but not in Avon & Somerset! The band kicked off with Stuck on Love and then ripped through most of their two full Loose records albums Stuck on Love and Going to California. Big Steve was on top form, his lanky frame brushing the low ceiling throughout. He seemed to talk between the songs for longer than it actually took to sing them! Forever giving insight into the inspiration behind them, be it into the H-Eyed guitar thief that spurred Six Junkie ús, the difference between having a holiday and living in the States for Going to California and sibling rivalry in Baby Brother. Ending the main set with their own version of Love Will Tear Us Apart took many by surprise. Sceptical at first it soon became apparent that this is going to be a crowd pleaser as they seem to have treated it with respect and honesty while adding their own country tinged slant on a classic. It’s getting a lot of college radio play in the US, so you never know.. The band were tighter than the soundsnew.com editor, especially the rhythm section flown in from Sacramento, California and even though the usual husband and wife chemistry was missing tonight, they still rocked better than most name bands could only dream of. Top venue, top band, top night. Check them out the next time they’re over... www.thearlenes.com
www.loosemusic.com

Thursday 21st April

Duels, Nine Black Alps, Kaiser Chiefs
University Great Hall, Cardiff

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The “Chiefs” Street Team diligently collected names for the mailing list out the front of the sold out gig, the reward being an official luggage tag like that you see to the left. Well, what do you expect for giving a false email address?

First up were band Duels a 5 piece with a drums, guitar, bass, singer, keyboard set up. The first few songs sounded promising then it descended into Blur copyist territory and initial interest was lost....

Next up, the hotly tipped Mancs Nine Black Alps. We’d liked their spirited single Shot Down but they were very disappointing. Spending most of their set fighting a bad sound mix, their songs just aren’t melodically strong enough to be the new Pixies or have enough hooks to get away with out-distorting the Jesus & Mary Chain..

On came the Kaiser Chiefs at 9:45pm prompt. Hitting the stage looking like outcasts from an unlisted public school in threadbare blazers and ties, rather than the mod look posed for in the press. Singer Ricky was quick to say the gig was nearly cancelled as he had a throat infection while they launched into Na Na Na Na Naa. A highly energetic performance by the front man made for interesting viewing while the rest of the band looked down and plodded away at their instruments. The singles were received well. Highlight being the second half of the classic 45, I Predict A Riot when Ricky disappeared into the crowd not to reappear for some time. The album seemed to be played in its entirety - but is it just me or does that “Woooooaaaaah” vocal that seems to appear in every song grate after a while?! Only when they played Oh My God did I twig why they have become so popular. The lyric “Oh my God, I’ve never been so far way from home before” seems to have hit a raw nerve with fresh faced students across Cardiff as the entire crowd joined in. Especially the girl next to me who said “why did you bother coming” when  I heckled “only if you’ve got decent songs this time” to Rickys call of “do you want some more?” during the rather dull encore! Enjoyable gig, but only for Rickys enthusiasm. The bands songwriting needs to step up a notch if they are going to be able to make a second album. Big tip from soundsnew, stop that bloody Woooaaah thing mate, its really tedious!!    

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