Friday, 30 April 2010

The Temper Trap @ Shepherds Bush 29th April 2010

The first of Temper Trap’s string of three sell out shows hit Shepherds Bush last night. The Australian quartet known for their distinctive epic pop tones, could only conjure up a 3-star show. Opening with a not so epic 4-minute instrumental, the crowd lay confused as if they had accidentally strolled into the adjacent Walkabout, but this thought was banished as soon as the familiar synths of Rest hit. But it was this miss-match in arrangement and tempo that had the crowd swaying to the bar whilst the slow-burning first half played out juxtaposed with running back as you got half way there to bop along to tracks such as Down River, Love lost and Fader. No doubt the Aussie rockers soon shall have a sizeable back catalogue to choose from to deliver a more coherent listen next time. Though the entity of Conditions was delivered with precision and energy it just seemed to lack a live element.

With an extensive touring schedule lined up for coming months, one has to wonder when their next material shall be written. Fear not TT fans, as they delivered a rather sombre new addition in their encore, maybe this is a turn for a maturing and Temper Trap trying to cultivate debut success into a career as epic as guitarist Lorenzo’s riffs. However, it seems just as Lorenzo faded into the furniture of the set so did the charisma and presence of front man Dougie. No chat and as lost as his hands were without a guitar it seems for once the outlandish Aussie stereotype had been canned. He tried to rescue this by launching into the crowd at the end of the set, maybe a little too late. Bassist Jonathon provided the most entertainment with his windmill bass playing technique, whilst using thumb-plectrum to add to his truly unique performance.

There were no hard feelings as everybody got what they wanted by the end in the form of an anthemic delivery of Sweet Disposition to finish off the set listed show. Shortly followed by new material and new single Science of Fear left reverberating around in heads until morning. Let’s hope the onslaught of festivals perks these Aussies back into the tit-pullers we all know to deliver a confident and entertaining live show.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Laura Marling @ London Palladium 25th April 2010

London Palladium? Yes that's right! Somewhat of an odd venue for a gig but what a venue it is, a truly regal venue for a royal performance. Support came from Boy and Bear, a wicked Sydney-based fivesome who fuse the likes of  Fleet Foxes and The Middle East delivering an uplifting, carefree vibe. They chucked in a cover of Bon Iver too, while not as being as mighty as the original it was a fair effort. I highly recommend these guys, so if they are playing near you soon get your behind down there! I love it when you get to a gig early, crossing your fingers that the support isn't going to be crap, and the Boy and Bear lads did just that.
With artwork like this, surely they can do nothing wrong!

Next on the bill was Alessi’s Ark - a timid duo from Hammersmith. Hell, the stage presence was floundering backstage with Boy and Bear, there was no audience interaction or engagement whatsoever! Yes she may have an interesting/good voice but charisma surely makes up for at least 15% of a performance. You could listen to the CD and it would be just as good, personally I think you need that extra dimension, giving the audience something more than just doing a live version of a current long player. The only cool thing about the act was their knitted CD cover.

OK so rant over... Right? Well I'm going to have to say, Laura Marling was astonishing. What a voice, what a band and what a venue, surely nothing could spoil this idyllic situation? But yet again a case of 'no-charisma' syndrome hit the stage. Brief shy exchanges were made with the crowd, but nothing worth writing home about. I suppose coming from a background in up tempo music may make me seem a bit raw. However, why should everyone flounder at her feet 'because she's such a great singer'? Maybe, these youngsters are just humble and want to play their music, maybe they are just overwhelmed to be so successful so young, but surely after being on the circuit for a few years, confidence surely would have prevailed?

Aside from her small talk - she brought an awesome show to her hometown. A packed palladium sat in silence taking in every blissful note. Indeed her voice was phenomenal, delivering her peaceful but meaning-felt melodies. She performed the first half of the gig with her band and the second solo, acoustically. Controversially she doesn't believe in encores. So she signposted two tracks from the end that it was her metaphorical 'encore' now as she ended on 'I Speak Because I Can'.

Overall it was a fantastic evening, where I discovered a little gem in Boy and Bear, they in some senses were the highlight for me, giving good banter and energy along with a powerful performance. Laura was excellent, I look forward to seeing her at Glastonbury this year, but I hope she manages to escape from the 'speechless' bubble she is engulfed in. I appreciate it's daunting, but its just a chat, come on love! Some sort of Gareth Gates reversal? Take a leaf out of  your boyf's book (Marcus Mumford off of Mumford & Sons, FYI)!

Here's the set list for those interested -

Set List

w/ Band
Devil’s Spoke
Hope In The Air
Rambling Man
Blackberry Stone

New One
The Needle And The Damage Done (Neil Young Cover)
Night Terror
Rest In The Bed
Made A Maid
Goodbye England (Covered In Snow)

w/ Band
What He Wrote
Alpha Shallows
Alas I Cannot Swim

ENCORE (well they didn't go off!)

My Manic & I
I Speak Because I Can

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Angus & Julia Stone Live at Shepherd's Bush Academy - 22nd April 2010

What a big night! Big in multiple senses! Last day of uni for me FOREVER and topping the celebration off in style I headed to Shepherd’s Bush Academy to see Angus & Julia Stone. The dreamy duo, hail from Australia and are siblings (however Julia’s interactions with her brother seem a little incestuous from time to time – it must be how the Aussies get down…) and not only share a second name but a host of musical talent.

After getting over the miss matching of tickets (I booked circle instead of stalls – doh!) – we assumed a decent vantage point side stage. The stage peppered with instruments, which were decorated like Christmas trees soon became the focal point of interest as the lights dimmed.  The band shimmied onto the stage, all men dressed as they were going to some outback farmers market and Angus hid behind impressive amounts of facial hair (I have seen them a couple of times now and that was a record amount of beardage), but Julia stole the fashion show in her gracious flowing turquoise dress. 

The enchanting duo opened with ‘And The Boys’ luring Shepherd’s Bush into a carefree 80 minutes. The epic ‘Yellow Brick Road’ followed, my favourite off the new long player ‘Down The Way’, with swirling pads and triumphant chords, as far as I was concerned A & J were already onto a winner.

‘Hold On’ was another dreamy highlight, typical of their updated sound.

Throughout Julia pranced around the stage like butterfly using the trail of her dress as wings as she fluttered bare foot around the stage.  Contrary was Angus’ prominence as he timidly hid behind a cap left of stage while girl’s screamed their love for him at any given silence. Angus unveiled a new track ‘Mercedes Benz’ shyly recounting a story of how he hitched a lift two hot girls in a white Mercedes, not the only song he has written about longing after a random female meeting. Nostalgia came from classics including crowd pleasers ‘Mango Tree’ and a cover of ‘You’re The One That I Want’ from Grease. This wasn’t the only cover; Julia nailed her twist of ‘Private Lawns’, which included an impressive one-handed trumpet solo!

The audiences trance ended on a perfect slow burner ‘Santa Monica Dream’, reminiscent of mellowing out on a beautiful isolated Australian beach somewhere. A beaming audience left that night from the charming indie folk duo. The new album ‘Down The Way’ is out now, though it takes a few listens, I defy any folk fan not to fall in love with it. Let’s keep these guys our little secret.