Idles – Nottingham Bodega Social Club – March 29th

It’s time to rip up the notebook (or at least to stop trying to make notes on my phone). You see, that’s what i do at gigs. Those notes help to jog the memory when I come to write about what I’ve just witnessed. I’ve got pretty rubbish recall otherwise. 

Such is the immediacy of Idles, seducing us with their every sinew, here in Nottingham at the Bodega, I’ve got to just live in this moment. For this short blast of punk, spit and throb, I’ve just got to be. Fuck my phone – I’d probably drop it in the mosh pit anyway. 

(Click on page 2 for my review..of sorts)

 

The Blue Aeroplanes – Welcome Stranger!

Christmas is done for another year. Miles have been driven and much has been spent on petrol and snacks in service stations. I’ve quite enjoyed it but it’s nice to be home knowing that I can leave my car alone for a few days.

I used the time whilst driving to get to know some promo CDs that I’ve recently been sent. There was one CD that I listened to more than any other, regularly on repeat, and that’s the forthcoming release from The Blue Aeroplanes, ‘Welcome, Stranger!’. 

(Click next page to read on)

Idles – Well Done

Your blog’s a bit Radio 2 innit“, said somebody to me the other week.

“No, it’s not. It’s eclectic”, I protested. “It’s basically things that catch my ear and excite me.”

But then I looked back over old posts and I saw what they meant. There’s a fair few fiddles and enough acoustic guitars to shake a tambourine at. 

Well, all I can say is fuck you today! I couldn’t sleep last night and so found myself listening to new music at 4AM. Maybe noise and energetic aggression hadn’t been doing it for me but then I heard this new track, Well Done, by Bristolian band, Idles. I certainly couldn’t sleep after that.

It’s spit-simplistic and shouty, punky and direct. It name-checks Mary Berry, Trevor Nelson, reggae and a chap called Tarquin in what sounds like an angry protest against ‘stuff’. I want to believe that this ‘well done’ is a two-fingered salute against conformity and blindly accepting whatever might be popular. 

I hear that Idles live show is something else. They’re touring at the moment and, whilst not touching Leicester, there are options not far away with a gig at Derby’s Hairy Dog on November 11th being the obvious time for me to check them out. 

Well done Idles for giving Sonic Breakfast a shove and a kick. Love it. I’d still rather cut my nose off to spite my face.

 

 

 

The Allergies (featuring Andy Cooper) – Rock Rock

I take no blame. I did warn readers yesterday that the Kinjac video might be a bit gruesome to accompany your breakfast snack – so I consider the complaints received invalid.

“Can’t you just post something a bit more uplifting and cheery?” I was asked. 

“Oh, go on then”, I conceded. 

Bristol based production duo, The Allergies, have teamed up with Andy Cooper from the pretty legendary hip-hop act, Ugly Duckling, to release Rock Rock, an exuberant blast of tongue-twisting, mixed-up madness. Andy only seems to pause for breath when he punches the title  out; for the rest of this energetic extravaganza, he’s juggernauting along at breakneck speed uttering phrases quicker than my head can compute.

It truly makes for an exhiliarating ride. The crisp, soulful funky swagger given to the track by The Allergies’ production would probably be enough to carry this cake as an instrumental but the addition of the lyrical topping gives it a sweeter taste. I see that The Allergies are booked for a fair few festivals this year. It makes a lot of sense. Boomtown will go wild for this sort of thing.

Not only is this a top tune but it has a happy video as well. The puppet show towards the end is delightful. Andy’s clearly quite a character. 

What’s that you’re saying? You’d love to be able to exorcise the demons of yesterday by rapping along to ‘Rock Rock’? As a very special treat – and as long as you promise to watch the main video first – I’ll attach the lyric video as well… Good luck, you’ll need it.

 

 

Ben Watt – Bristol Fiddlers – Friday October 24th

It is never good form to turn up late to a gig. Aside from being rude, you’re never quite able to fully enjoy what’s going on. When punctual audience members laugh at jokes that are clear callbacks to something that has gone before you smile and nod in a pretence of understanding, hoping to not be exposed for the fraud you most certainly are. You resist the urge to shout out when prompted for ‘any requests’ for fear of requesting a song that’s already been played. You are on the outside looking in.

But, sometimes late arrival is impossible to avoid. Such is the situation I find myself in on this Friday night in Bristol; a combination of terrible traffic and the need to eat means that the Ben Watt Trio have already been playing for half an hour or so when I walk into Bristol’s Fiddlers. I’ve completely missed support act, Meadowlark – a shame for I have previously blogged about them here.

Ben Watt’s new album, ‘Hendra’, has been a late-night listen in my house over the past months. The man who takes the back seat in ‘Everything But The Girl’ comes into the limelight thirty years after releasing his only other solo album and shows that he shouldn’t be in the shadows. ‘Hendra’ is a spirited album about grievance and loss. Written and recorded whilst reflecting upon the sudden death of his sister, Jennie, it’s at times an emotionally wrought listen – but it’s also a positive statement about hope and resilience.

It’s a state of relaxed contemplation that we find Watt in tonight; at times, it’s just him behind electric piano; at other times, it’s a full trio with Bernard Butler on guitar (Suede) and Martin Ditcham (Talk Talk) on drums and percussion. Whatever the musical combo, we rarely get more than a pedestrian shuffle, the slightest of peaks before a return to the downbeat, dark and morose that permeates throughout. There are strained smiles from Watt, Butler and Ditcham but you suspect they’d feel more comfortable if they didn’t have to.

And for many of the audience gathered this is exactly what they want from a Friday night in Bristol. I’d guess at an average age of 45. These are people who are perhaps on their second or third marriages. They cling to Watt’s words because his poetry means something to them. Since the EBTG days, he has written the soundtrack to their lives. Yes, there are a few Friday night revellers expecting Butler to break out into a ‘suede classic’ but mostly the people here don’t want any surprises. “Who am I fooling when I say I have no regrets?” sings Watt on current single, ‘Forget’, and the audience tap their toes and nod their heads in recognition of the emotion on display.

“I always think I write songs about some form of resilience. There is some form of hope, even in the darker moments,” explained Watt in a recent interview. There are few here tonight, even those who arrived late, who will disagree that this has been a pretty brilliant exercise in subdued positivity.

 

Elder Island – What It’s Worth

According to Wikipedia, ‘Elder Island is an irregularly shaped island located at the eastern opening of the Fury and Hecla Strait. Situated in Nunavut’s Qikiqtaaluk Region within the northern Canadian Arctic, the island is north of the Melville Peninsula and Ormonde Island. It is approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) south of Baffin Island, while the Foxe Basin is to the east.’

I am still none the wiser where it is if I’m honest. But, it sounds cold there and it’s uninhabited by all accounts – apart from polar bears. There are, arguably, better places to go on holiday.

Elder Island are also a soulful, three piece from Bristol. They’ve got an EP coming out in June/July and in advance of that, they’ve elected to release ‘What It’s Worth’ to the world – or at least to Soundcloud.

They’ve played slots at the ace Shambala festival and, I believe, are listed to play this year. For what it’s worth, I’ll look to check them out. I’m sure they put on quite a show.

For the first couple of minutes of this tune, the handclaps and bass drum beats create icy spikes and troughs in the Soundcloud player view that might well replicate the angular, jagged, irregularly shaped landscape of the Canadian Island. But, as the song progresses, a flurry of snowflakes fall and we are drawn to the question of the day, ‘What’s it all worth?’.

No conclusive answer is drawn but the polar bears are moving their feet tonight.