Some Gigs

It’s been a busy few weeks for gigs. I thought you might be interested in a summary of what I’ve seen recently.

9 Oct: The Sixteen

Starting with something a bit different. A nice drop of Thomas Tallis (and a few other things) in a local church. The Sixteen are great – but I’m not sure why there were eighteen of them singing.

10 Oct: Kirsty MacColl Tribute

It seems amazing that it’s ten years since Kirsty MacColl died. This tribute concert brought together many famous names to sing Kirsty’s songs with her backing band. It was good to see that it wasn’t just old gits like Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader and Alison Moyet who wanted to play tribute to her. There were plenty of younger people like Amy MacDonald and Ellie Goulding there too. Shame Macgowan was supposed to be there but he was indisposed. No-one was surprised.

21 Oct: Hallogallo 2010

Michael Rother was one half of the German band Neu in the 1970s. Hallogallo is the name of the first track on Neu’s first album. Hallogallo 2010 is the name of a group that Rother has gathered together to play some Neu music along with other music in the same style. The style got a bit monotonous at first, but eventually monotonous turns into into hypnotic and I found myself being drawn in. I’m not sure I’d rush to see them again, but I’m glad I was there.

27 Oct: Norma Waterson and Eiiza Carthy

I’ve been listening to various combinations of the Waterson/Carthy family for decades. I’ve seen Eliza Carhy about four times this year already, but I hadn’t seen Norma Waterson for several years. They’re on tour together as they’ve just released their first album as a duo and very nice it is too. The Union Chapel was the perfect setting for this evening of two fabulous singers singing some great songs.

28 Oct: The Psychedelic Furs

This was postponed from last year for reasons that I never discovered. The first half was the album Talk Talk Talk played all the way through and then after a very short break the band came back and played pretty much every other Furs song that you wanted to hear. It’s always a bit worrying seeing old bands like this as there’s a strong likelihood that they’ve lost it. But, happily, that’s not true of the Furs. They put in a great performance.

2 Nov: Afro Celt Sound System

I love African music and I love Irish folk music – so what’s not to love about a band who fuse the two forms together and make irresistible dance music? This was their first time in London for something like seven years and they were very good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much dancing in the Barbican Hall. Oh and a tip to other bands – the Afrocelts were selling t-shirts for a tenner. That’s how you get me to buy one.

3 Nov: Lloyd Cole

Another blast from the past and another “has he still got it?” moment. And he has. Rather than a band, Cole now plays with two other chaps and all three of them play acoustic guitars. This means that the old Commotions stuff needs to be drastically rearranged and some of the new versions work better than others. But I’d never seen Lloyd Cole play before and I’m glad that I have now. It made me think that maybe I should track down some gigs by Edwyn Collins or Roddy Frame.

6 Nov: Tunng

After a few oldies, Tunng brings us right up to date. I hadn’t even heard of Tunng until a friend recommended them to me about a year ago. Now I have all of their albums and, on the evidence of this gig, I’d definitely go and see them again. I think this was the end of the tour so there was a bit of a party atmosphere going on. There was also a special guest star – former member Sam Genders joined them on stage for a few numbers. It’s a modern kind of folk music with a bit of other bits and pieces thrown in. I like it a lot.

10 Nov: The Divine Comedy

Bringing us right up to date, last night I was at the Royal Festival Hall to see The Divine Comedy. Actually, these days that’s just Neil Hannon performing solo. It’s been over ten years since I listened to a new Divine Comedy album, but it was great to hear the songs live – mostly played on piano but occasionally on acoustic guitar. Hannon is a great entertainer and he loves to chat to the audience both between and during the songs. I’ll certainly be checking out some of his more recent work.


Flaming June and Fire Up Mary

Over the last couple of years I’ve been getting back into the habit of seeing live music. But most of the gigs I’ve seen recently have been at relatively large venues. I haven’t been going to places like Wembley Arena, but I’ve seen a lot of gigs at places like the Union Chapel and the Barbican Centre.

One thing that I haven’t done for ages is to just go and see some bands in a small venue like a pub. Last night I put that right and went to the Monto Water Rats on Gray’s Inn Road.

There were four bands on the bill. The night started with Flaming June. They are an “alternative folk” band from Suffolk. Their music certainly has a folky feel to it, but it’s presented in an enjoyably modern manner. In some ways they remind me of the (much missed) Boothill Foot-tappers. They got even better when the lead singer remembered to plug her guitar in! They don’t seem to have any music available to buy or download yet, but they mentioned an EP which will hopefully be released soon. I’ll be looking out for it. If you see them on a bill then they’r definitely worth checking out.

Next up were a band who I think were called Pirate Jenny but I can’t find any evidence of a British band of that name (note to bands: if no-one is likely to know who you are then it’s worth telling us several times). Just before they appeared on-stage I overheard a friend of theirs in the audience saying how they hadn’t had time for a soundcheck. That would explain why it took them ages to set up and get going. They told us that it was their first London gig and that fact combined with the lack of a soundcheck meant that they seemed rather nervous. There were a couple of false starts and the sound really wasn’t very good. But despite that, there was an enthusiasm that to their performance that meant I enjoyed it immensely. They were selling an EP, but I didn’t buy a copy as I thought I’d get a download from the internet. I’m regretting that now as I can’t find any kind of web presence for them. I suspect I’ve got their name wrong.

[Update: Thanks to the efforts of FiddlersMrs (a member of Flaming June) I now know that this second band was actually called Fire Up Mary. Guess that shows just how bad the sound was!]

The third act was called The Raven. They were a more traditional folk duo. It was nice stuff, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first two acts.

Throughout those first three acts I had a pretty good spot near the front of the room. But it was starting to get a bit crowded there so I moved to the back of the room to get a bit more space before Eliza Carthy came on. It didn’t really work. The venue seemed to have sold far too many tickets for the night and the place had become uncomfortably overcrowded. I was tired, too hot and couldn’t really see the stage from my new spot. I’m ashamed to admit it, but after Eliza had done three or four songs I sloped off and went home. I’ll need to make plans to see her again soon to make up for that.

I don’t feel too bad though. In Flaming June and Pirate Jenny (or whatever they are called) I’ve discovered two news bands that I’m really excited about.

I call that a successful night out.

social media

A Twitter Story

People often ask me what is the point of Twitter. What do I get out of it. The answer to those questions change from day to day. Here is today’s answer.

Tonight I’m going to see the Twisted Christmas show at the Barbican. It features a number of performers taking a slightly different look at christmas. Before leaving for work this morning I twittered that I was looking forward to the evening. I only had 140 characters so I just mentioned that the show included Polly Scattergood and Eliza Carthy. There are, of course, many other great acts performing as well.

Before long I had a reply from a Twitterer called FiddlersMrs. She’s with a band called Flaming June who are supporting Eliza Carthy at a gig next March. I was considering going to that gig too, but I hadn’t got round to buying a ticket yet. FiddlersMrs pointed out that through their web site they were selling a limited number of tickets for £8 rather than the normal price of £17. That made up my mind and I bought one of their reduced price tickets. I also followed both FiddlersMrs and flamingjuneuk on Twitter.

So within a couple of hours of getting up today I had bought tickets for a gig at less than half price, discovered an interesting-sounding new band and made a couple of new friends on Twitter. I call that a successful start to the day.

That’s just one reason why I find Twitter useful. But I have a story like that to tell every couple of days. A different story every time, but something just as useful. Connections like that are being made all the time on Twitter. It’s the immediacy of the contact that is so useful. It’s simple to find people who are talking about the same things as you and to get in touch with them.

I’m largely preaching to the converted here. Most of my blog readers are, I’m sure, already Twitter users. You probably already have your own little stories about how it’s made your life better in lots of tiny ways. But if you haven’t, why not give it a try?

I’m @davorg on Twitter. Feel free to follow me.

Oh, and why not come and see Eliza Carthy and Flaming June on 18th March. Tickets (while they last) are only £8 from the Flaming June web site.