London Gig Guide 29th Jan – 4th Feb Maximo Park, Stabbing A Dead Horse, John Otway

Seven days, seven great gigs, seven great venues. Well, technically I’ve only been to six of the seven personally, but I’m sure the Finsbury is loverly too.

Hidden Cameras / Melissa Laveaux – Bush Hall Wednesday 29th January

Canadian indie pop band The Hidden Cameras bring their gay church folk music to the Bush Hall.

They were part of the best live gig I have ever seen, supporting Broken Social Scene at a festerval of Canadian indie music in Vevey, Switzerland, organised by the Canadian government for Reasons Unknown To Me.

The vid to their recent single Gay Goth Scene is excellent btw, as is the tune.

Rachael Dadd / Ichi – Green Note, Camden Thursday 30th January

Experimental folk multi-instrumentalist Rachael Dadd splits her time between Japan and England, constantly touring, constantly writing, skipping from one fleetingly romantic show to another- whether it be a church in England, a gallery in Japan or atop a mountain in Switzerland.

Her recordings are often born from late nights at home plugged into her 4-track.

When she’s not playing, she’s sewing album sleeves and record bags – a true DIY artist in every sense of the word.

Her time in Japan has had a great impact on her sound, and this influence is most apparent in the songs on her recent album Bite The Mountain.

Rachae is supported by her husband Ichi, and by that I don’t mean he pays all the bills, I mean he will be playing some songs before she comes on.

John Otway – The Ivy House, Nunhead, Friday 31st January

The Ivy House in Nunhead is London’s first co-operatively owned pub, which makes them worthy of your custom straight away.

Even better than that, rock’n’roll’s most talented failure John Otway is playing.

This clip from the Old Grey Whistle Test in 1977 is nothing short of genius.

Cat Bear Tree – The Finsbury, Saturday 1st February

Named after a kick-ass cat and a cowardly bear (and for all we know, an even-tempered oak), Cat Bear Tree have got … something about them for sure.

This is the launch of their debut single “Spces In Between” following on from the “Let’s Share Hearts” EP. Sweet and tuneful to begin with but builds brilliantly.

Stabbing A Dead Horse Tour – Slight Return – Barfly, Camden, Sunday 2nd February

A few months ago three superb new prog-rock bands Knifeworld, The Fierce & The Dead and Trojan Horse set out on a UK tour under the banner “Stabbing A Dead Horse”, the banner title coming from a conflation of the three bands’ names. And possibly, lots of beer.

Billed as “Stabbing A Dead Horse – Slight Return” this one-off London date promises to be the first great live gig of 2014.

Here’s the vlog from the previous tour. And as always at a Sunday gig in Camden, you can spend the day in Regent’s Park or dahn the markets. Or in bed, it’s up to you, whatever.

Maximo Park – Sebright Arms, Monday 3rd February

Indie faves Maximo Park descend upon us once again to tour their new album “Too Much Information”. Sounds a LOT like it was made in 1981, which is just fine and dandy by this old punk.

Stealing Dan & Don – Bulls Head, Barnes, Tuesday 4h February

Excellent to see the new owners of legendary jazz/blues music pub the Bulls Head are maintaining the tradition, seemingly with quite a few of the regular acts retaining their regular slots – Alan Price and the Humphrey Lyttleton Big Band later in the month and on Tuesday, the best Steely Dan tribute band you’re likely to hear.

Hope you can still get a curry delivered to the front bar from the Thai restaurant next door, mind.

Gotta be something in there for everybody, surely? See you dahn the front !

London Gig Guide 2014 w/e Mon 13th Jan

London Gig Guide w/e Monday 13th January

Promoters are all gearing up for the new gigging year with Winter Sprinters, Ones To Watch and Pandamonium a go-go!

Here’s a gig to check out in the capital for every day of the week

Tuesday – Let’s Wrestle – Lexington

Fortuna Pop’s “Winter Sprinter” gigs at the Lexington provide everything you need to get back into the swing of live music after the festive period.

Let’s Wrestle have been peddling their shambolic Art Brutal sounds around London for five or six years now.

Frankly, I thought they were a bit unfocussed to really move punters in great numbers but if this new, Kinksy track is anything to go by, the forthcoming album’s going to be a leap forward. Definitely be featuring this on the next Beat City podcast (details at the bottom of the Gig Guide)

Wednesday – Dragons That Make Love To Pandas – Water Rats

If all they had was the name, they would be epic. But check out this slightly rough live footage and what we appear to have here is a bona fide decent white funk tune … see you down the front!

Thursday – Tom Hickox – Borderline

Tom Hickox has musical pedigree in spades, being the son of a conductor (hence the majestic sweeping orchestral backing) and a timpanist (hence the beats). But what you can’t breed into somebody is a voice and Tom’s is exceptional, reminiscent of Matt Berninger of the National after his pneumonia has cleared up a little bit.

Friday – The Wave Pictures – Buffalo Bar

Check out the magnificent Wave Pictures in a small, intimate venue that Homer Simpson would describe as “intamit”. Their double album “Cold Forgiveness” was a highlight of last year and the unassuming appearance of singer / songwriter / guitarist David Tattersall hides a TOTAL GUITAR LEGEND!

Saturday – The 1975 (Islington O2 Academy)

Stadium indie or Motown influenced pop-rock? The 1975 are wisely hedging ther bets for the moment. One of the more interesting bands around – you don’t get the usual bland soundbites from these boys. Here’s singer Matt Healy:

“We’re a band that defines a certain generation at a certain time. Nobody my age consumes media in a linear, straightforward way; it’s like a human eye, light coming in from everywhere. You can expect a 17-year-old girl to be listening to Kendrick Lamar and to Carole King. I think we’re the first band to really embrace the fact there aren’t many rules left.”

Pretentious? More than somewhat. But you have to admit the boy has a point.

Oh, and Matt is the son of Tim Healy from Auf Wiedersehen Pet and also the lead singer of folk band Half A Shilling:

Sunday – The Black Feathers (Green Note, Camden)

English folk duo who incorporate elements of Americana and some loverly bluegrass harmonies into their music. The excellent Green Note seems the perfect setting. Try the organic lager.

Monday – Neck Deep – Barfly

Sprightly and unashamed pop-punk – the vid gives a really good flavour of what they do live.
Album out very soon.

Los Campesinos! Camden, Sunday

In all of music history, there aren’t too many bands where ALL the members of the band have the same surname. The Ramones. The Osmonds. The Fureys and Davey Arthur – almost…

So what are the odds of seven – SEVEN!  – people in one band, completely unrelated to each other, having the same surname?!  Mad!

As if that wasn’t enough… Los Campesinos! all met at Cardiff University – but none of them are Welsh!

They’re a band I’ve only been vaguely aware of down the years – I only really knew their jolly-sounding “You, Me, Dancing” but I’ve heard great things about their live shows.

So – a couple of weeks ago I was on Twitter  and up pops a tweet from Los Campesinos! announcing a lunchtime warm-up gig for their UK tour at the Barfly in Camden. This is a first – a gig I attended because I was on twitter at the right time! And they’re only charging a fiver, which I really appreciate – they could easily have doubled that, given their cultish level of popularity, so hurrah for Los Campesinos!

I’m still quite tired and emotional from the previous evening spent watching Airborne Toxic Event (more on THAT in the next blog entry), and a lunchtime gig is not ideal but still…

Sunday in Camden is always a great place to be anyway. So I head over on the tube, full of families heading to Regent’s Park and the museums for a day out. The market is teeming, as always. Cooler than the West End, with better shops and better – and cheaper – food, it’s no wonder people congregate here on a Sunday.

Now, the core of the music I listen to is modern indie, broadly speaking, so I’m pretty used to being the Oldest Guy At The Gig. People generally assume I’m either a parent of one of the band or I’m selling drugs but under normal circumstances it’s the evening and it’s dark and nobody bats an eyelid.

This is slightly different.

Its daylight and there is a queue of about 200 students and teenagers down the Chalk Farm Road, with me at the end trying not to look dodgy. The queue starts shuffling forward like the bit at the end of the Benny Hill Show in slo-mo.

Now, indie fans are a pretty friendly bunch. They can be a bit quiescent, leading to a slightly dull audience reaction, but on the other hand you’d be hard pressed to start a fight. An incident at the bar illustrates this. There’s three of us waiting to be served. The barman, working on the principle of age before beauty – points to me. I say “no – he was first” and point to the chap on the end. He in turn points to the guy next to him, who then points to me again.

This could have ended in jostling, maybe even fisticuffs at a metal gig but indie kids are not natural fighters and have a strong sense of irony if nothing else. We all smile and nod wryly at each other. Morrissey would be proud.

And I get served first in the end anyway. Hah!

So, the band play a blistering, tight set of around an hour (couldn’t swear to it, who puts a stopwatch on a gig?)

I really like this band. I really like singer Gareth Campesinos!’s onstage banter, funny and sarcastic but also – crucially – just a little bit self-effacing.

Always good to see an articulate and funny frontman, not quite in the Steven Adams league but then who is?

I’m not familiar with the band’s oeuvre but odd lyrics filter through making me keen to check out the back catalogue. There’s intelligence here as well as tunes.

Quite a few from the new album “Hello Sadness” (yeah, the Morrissey vacuum has been well and truly filled here)

They play their Hit (“You! Me! Dancing!”) somewhat reluctantly, with singer Gareth informing the crowd that “we have to play this – its like if you went to see the Dandy Warhols and they didn’t play Bohemian Like You”. Well, not quite, mate. The Dandy Warhols don’t really have any songs other than that one. Whereas Los Camps! are well on their way to creating a really good body of work.

And the importance of the words is recognised by the band in that you can hear every bloody word Gareth sings / says.

These lyrics are unique. There are echoes of Morrissey, the Broken Family Band “and The Beautiful South (no greater praise imho). Hard to pick anything out specifically but the odd phrase leaps out at you causing a “Huh? What did he say”? reaction. Always a good thing.

The tunes are sometimes not all that, but with the lyrics and the sheer drive of a band with huge numbers helps create a groove which gets them through just fine.

Three quid for a Subway Italian Salami and a bottle of water.

Two pounds for a diet coke.

Five pounds for a Los Campesinos! Gig? Priceless.


By Your Hand

Romance Is Boring

Death To Los Campesinos!

Life Is A Long Time

A Heat Rash In The Shape Of The Show me State; or Letters From Me To Charlotte

Songs About your Girlfriend

We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed

Straight In at 101

To Tundra

Documented Minor Emotional Breakdown #1

The Black Bird, The Dark Slope

You! Me! Dancing!

The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future

Hello Sadness

Baby I Got The Death Rattle