Tramlines 2014 – Day One

Friday 25th July 2014

Braver Than Fiction

Opening up with the prestigious 7pm slot at the Leadmill, Braver Than Fiction are mostly Sheffielders.

The songs show a variety of styles. There’s hints of the Stranglers on a couple of songs, with the organ heavily to the fore and the guitar used as a tool (oh behave!) rather than an end in itself. When the guitarist does solo, its funky and tuneful rather than rocking out with yer cock out, which is just fine by me, don’t get me started on bleeding guitarists.

Braver Than Fiction are incredibly tight musically, that’s all covered. Looking forward to seeing which direction they go in as their sound coalesces. Deffo a band to watch.

Influences? The band themselves mention “the grotesque glamour of Tom Waits” which is a fine thing to aspire to in moderation but the other comparison to the “dysfunctional family” of Fleetwood Mac is an interesting one, and to the fore on this track

Cut Ribbons

I’d heard the single “In The Rain” from Llanelli’s Cut Ribbons as well as a couple of other tracks. Thought they’d be pleasant enough.

Oh man, did I underrate them.

Absurdly danceable, gorgeous melodies and some great boy-girl vocals from with Anna Griffiths’ breath chanteuse counterpointed beautifully by some extremely high almost choirboy notes hit by male singer/guitarist Aled Jones – sorry, Aled Rees.

Just noticed they’re playing Long Division in Wakefield over the weekend of the 12th/13th August, which should be good.

On the long walk from the Leadmill to the Harley I heard snippets of Toddla T Sound from the main stage, which I wasn’t too sure about, and I managed to catch one song by psychobilly two-piece Death Rays Of Ardzilla which intrigued me.

Cholombian

I really love Cholombian’s dreamy soundscapes and will definitely seek him out again live – he does a really good job of transferring it from the bedroom to the live setting, but it seems not too many people in the early evening crowd at the Harley agree as they’re chatting as though at a cocktail party. This is a bloody shame – yeah, it works as background music but you get so much more from it by immersing yourself. Shame on you, young people, I know you’re all waiting for much-hyped London boy East India Youth but there’s some great music, made by a local Sheffielder, right there in front of you. Embrace and enjoy.

Back to the Forum via the excellent Betty’s Chip Shop where my British Sea Power “Heron Addict” T-shirt causes hilarity. “I thought it said you were a heroin addict”. Not a bad idea if you do want to break any addiction I guess. “I am an addict, do not offer me drugs”. “I am a fat bastard, do not sell me chips”

Walking back past the main stage area I caught a brief glimpse of Katy B. I knew it was Katy B cos it said “Katy B” in bloody great big letters above the stage.Sounded OK if you like that sort of thing and she’s a Palace fan so is therefore Fine By Me.

Arrows Of Love

A bonus late addition to the festerval line-up. Last time I saw Arrows Of Love they were headlining Xoyo in London, and played a long, blistering set which was so loud it finally persuaded me to start wearing earplugs at gigs. They’re not as loud tonight but it’s even more intense as they play a stripped-down thirty minutes.

Visually absolutely stunning, aurally tight, brash and very very loud, I was flagging a bit before their set (and when I say “flagging” I mean falling asleep in a corner) but Jesus, they woke me up, big time.

Bang Bang Romeo

I’d heard the We Were Born EP by this band and was intrigued, and their set at not only did not disappoint, it was a revelation.

If you say a band is influenced by sixties music it usually means one of two things, either a Beatles / Small Faces jangly guitar band or an indie girl band with ironic girl group vocals.

Bang Bang Romeo are neither. Their music has the dramatic rise and fall of an old film soundtrack coupled with huge in-yer-face vocals from excellent singer Anastasia Walker. I’d say she reminded me of Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick and there’s certainly the odd nod to Airplane’s sound, but she has better frontwoman skills, really engaging with the crowd at a packed Frog & Parrot.

I urge you to see this band. I could go on for hours about them and I probably will some day soon. This is the moody and atmospheric “Carnival”, a Bond theme waiting to happen.

Troumaca

Managed to grab a brief power nap while waiting for these to come on. Got to that stage in life where I’m like a baby and can sleep anywhere, the louder the better in fact.

Brilliant set from Birmingham’s Troumaca. I’m slightly lost for reference points but there’s three-part gospelly harmonies over African-tinged guitars complex, insistent beats from live drums and what seems to be programmed basslines, with big keyboard washes and appropriate plinky-plonky bits. They really got the midnight crowd at the Forum moving.

An excellent, unexpected find to complete a great first day of the festerval. I was going to stay for theFamily? Certainly in terms of band members getting their cocks out on stage) but since I had already forgotten where I had parked I thought I’d better go look for the car.

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Beat City 31 Tramlines Special

Saturday’s highlights for me should include Esben & The Witch, Her Name Is Calla, Liz Green and a Sister Sledge metal tribute band called Sister Sludge.t

I swear I am not making this up. Review to come. Watch this space.

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Gig Guide – w/e Sun 25th August

This week is far more promising than last week for LDN gigs. Must be coming up to summer’s end or something, which is sad as we’ve had the best summer for years. OTOH, it does mean the autumn giggage season will soon be upon us, woo hoo!

Spector – Madame Jojos, Soho, Tuesday

One of the most exciting mainstream indie prospects in years. Watch this half-hour set from Reading last year. Then imagine how great they’d be in a sleazy club environment.

Then get a ticket for their White Heat gig at Madame Jojo’s in Soho.

Arbouretum – Borderline, Tuesday

Nobody sounds quite like these guys, who have something of The Band about their ragged, doomy classic folk-rock sound. Touring their fifth album “Coming Out Of The Fog”

Lloyd Bradley talk – Rough Trade West, Thursday (6pm)

I first encountered Lloyd Bradley as the black music guy at the NME, and while I am eternally grateful to him for showing me there was more to music than Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, his body of work is far more impressive than simply contributing to the inky music papers.

This is the launch of his new book on the hidden history of Britain’s black music, tracing the journey from Lord Kitchener’s calypso to Dizzee Rascal’s Glastonbury triumphs with a panel of special guests the steel pan maestro and music historian Dr Lionel McCalman and Norman Jay MBE.

The Evening will be soundtracked by an exclusive mix inspired by the book by DJ Zed Bias.

Black music has been part of London’s landscape since the First World War, when the Southern Syncopated Orchestra brought jazz to the capital. Following the wave of Commonwealth immigration, its sounds and styles took up residence to become the foundation of the city’s youth culture.

Sounds like London tells the story of the music and the larger-than-life characters making it, journeying from Soho jazz clubs to Brixton blues parties to King’s Cross warehouse raves to the streets of Notting Hill – and onto soundsystems everywhere.

As well as a journey through the musical history of London, Sounds Like London is about the shaping of a city, and in turn the whole country, through different waves of immigration, which shows how the soul of the capital and the soul of its music cannot be separated.

Essential for anyone with an interest in the history of black music.

Deaf School – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, Friday

Liverpool’s Deaf School were one of the great unsung bands of the late seventies, perhaps the only thing stopping them being huge was simply that they weren’t punk. They still kick arse live to this day in their all-too infrequent live shows.

Sun Ra Arkestra – Cafe Oto (5 days from Friday)

Sun Ra was one of the most controversial and innovative figures in jazz music. In 2011 the legendary jazz big band played a sellout three night residency at Cafe Oto. Fronted by sax man Marshall Allen since Sun Ra’s untimely demise in 1993, they’re returning to play five nights straight at the same venue. This is a full hour’s worth of concert footage from 2009 to give you some idea of what to expect.

Arrows Of Love – Buffalo Bar, Friday

I first saw Arrows Of Love about five years ago supporting somebody at the 100 Club, and loved them. They went quiet for a while but reappeared about a year ago with some excellent new material. Definitely worth catching live.

Hawkwind – Shepherds Bush Empire, Saturday

The lords of Space Rock perform their classic 1975 album “Warrior On The Edge Of Time” in its entirety, and pretty damned good it is too if this clip from a gig at the Komedia in Bath earlier this year is anything to go by.

The Rutles / John Otway – “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” – Borderline, Sunday (afternoon)

Just like the real Beatles, there are only two members of the Rutles left, but since one of them is Neil Innes, this promises to be an excellent run through the Prefab Four’s finest hits.

Support from the legendary John Otway

which makes this the gig of the week, no question. See you down the front!