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.

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!

Pete And The Pirates

October 4th, Scala London

After years of managing to miss Pete And The Pirates through bad luck, sheer indolence, a bad cold, and simply being in the wrong town or, in some cases, the wrong country, I got to see them twice in two months.

Pete And The Pirates gigs are like buses. You wait ages for one and then when you get on its all crowded and sweaty.

“Its 1979 and Heart Of Glass is playing…”

I take a look around the mosh pit. The cheerful, heterogenous crowd ranges from teenage kids through balding 30-something men who can’t quite kick the gigging habit to, well me. I can’t see too many people who would be likely to even have been alive in 1979 when Blondie were in their pomp, let alone attending the Scala…

This place has memories for me.

I used to go come here often back then with my first serious girlfriend Tessa. She got me into a lot of good stuff art and culture wise.

The Scala was a cinema then, showing art films that triumphantly straddled the line between art and porn.

We saw Jubilee there, Derek Jarman’s legendary punk film which featured a cameo from a young Adam Ant, and a plot involving a just-around-the-corner future Britain in which anarchy reigns and Buckingham Palace has been converted into a giant recording studio. The support bill was a selection of homoerotic porn shorts by the cult film-maker Kenneth Anger, including “Scorpio Rising”, which certainly opened my 17-year-old eyes to another side of biker culture.

Back to the present and a packed and enthusiastic crowd greets Pete And The Pirates. They’ve been around for a couple of years now, touting their brand of tuneful indie, and they’ve built up a devoted following.

They’re from Reading. In their early days they used to go to the Reading Festival every year as punters and plant a Pirate flag in an appropriate location. They would then proceed to play an impromptu acoustic sets and hand round flyers to people. Gotta say, that’s a fantastic marketing idea for any bands reading this.

Unassuming to look at, maybe even a bit reticent to talk to the crowd much, they play a fantastic set comprising much of their two albums. “Come To The Bar” is an obvious highlight. Lyrically they have a way with the wry one-liner lyrics – “Get out of bed, its the wrong one” for starters.

(NB – Incidentally, a quick scout round that Interweb reveals that the Scala I attended back in the day was in fact in a completely different London location. Funny how the memory plays tricks. I’ll never forget “Scorpio Rising” though. And if I ever come across a biker with no trousers on, I always give him a wide berth)

November 22nd, Buffalo Bar, London

The more recent gig was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Buffalo Bar, and I have to be honest, although the band were great, the crowd were not up to much at all.

Gig etiquette surely dictates that if you get to a gig early enough to take up a position at the front, the least you can do is dance. Or move. Or react in some way to what’s happening on stage, not just stand there in silence.

Don’t get me wrong, each to their own and I know some people like standing and watching quietly. Fair enough. But FFS do it at the BACK of the gig, will you? In the case of the excellent Buffalo Bar, the back of the gig is still pretty close to the stage anyway.

That’s where me and my mate Craig are. Craig is only a couple of years younger than me and another ageing punk. He’s recently come back from four months unpaid leave in LA trailing his missus, looking after their young kid during the daytime and checking out the LA scene in the evenings.

He tells me a great story about his first pilgrimage to the legendary punk club The Roxy.

A large well-dressed man sidles up to him and says “Hey, are you on your own?” “Yes” says Craig. “Well, do you want to come to the bathroom with me?” “No!” he replies. The guy goes to the bathroom anyway and doesn’t come back. Craig spends the rest of the evening digging the bands and not going to the bathroom, ending up having to piss on the wall outside the club. Which I suppose is quite a punk thing to do.

He professes outrage at these events, but I think he’s secretly kind of pleased that he’s still got it. This sort of thing never happens to me, although I did have my bottom squeezed by a woman at the Scala – not in its porn cinema phase but during a Broken Family Band gig – but I suspect she was just trying to annoy her boyfriend.

So, the gig is enjoyable and the band are playing their hearts out but there’s not much to be done about a lot of the crowd. There’s a few people making an effort at the back though.

Afterwards we notice the guitarist outside chatting to a girl. They’re very polite about being interrupted by two large middle-aged men telling him how great the band is. We complain about the audience but he won’t have it and says something like “they were enjoying it in a different way”, which I think shows a tremendous amount of class.

Pete And The Pirates. A great band, and a great bunch of lads.