Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra – Live at Village Underground – 20-June 2012

Amanda Palmer has been big news of late, not for being dicked over by a record label, or for controversy over a video, or happening to be married to Neil Gaiman, but instead she is famous right now for the fact that she has mobilised her fans to a quite extraordinary degree. No musical kickstarter or similar has even come close to the level of funding of this, and it has to be wondered if this really is the push that this kind of independent music making needed, or whether AFP is a special case. Read more “Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra – Live at Village Underground – 20-June 2012”

She Wants Revenge – Live at O2 Academy Islington – 17-June 2012

Being dicked around by venue staff before even getting through the door is never a great start, but the annoyance it caused resulted in me being in just the right mood to watch Cold In Berlin. And then, to have me question exactly how I hadn’t caught them before. Read more “She Wants Revenge – Live at O2 Academy Islington – 17-June 2012”

SunnO))) – Live at KOKO – 12-June 2012

I have to confess that I was somewhat nervous about this gig. Were my earplugs up to the job, would I make it through the whole thing, etc. And this isn’t something I say lightly. Over seventeen years of gig-going, and hundreds and hundreds of bands I’ve seen, there are few that I’ve seen, I thought, that would be as loud as Sunn O))), or so I was told. Read more “SunnO))) – Live at KOKO – 12-June 2012”

Tuesday Ten: 156: Tracks of the Month (May 2012)

Another month – so it’s time for a quick rundown of the ten tracks I think you should all hear. It’s a rather wider range of music than I’ve been posting of late, too, I think. Read more “Tuesday Ten: 156: Tracks of the Month (May 2012)”

Mazzy Star – Live at Shepherds Bush – 03-June 2012

The gig the night before this was a late addition to the roster, so this, in some respects, was the gig that was the planned beginning of a long summer of shows. Ten gigs between 03-June and 22-July, before I get a break in the run-up to Infest. Like last year, I’m going to have issues picking the best shows from the multitude I’ve already seen, never mind what is to come. Read more “Mazzy Star – Live at Shepherds Bush – 03-June 2012”

Pretentious, Moi? – Live at Electrowerkz – 02-June 2012

The first night of two consecutive (again!) nights of gigs over this extra-long bank-holiday weekend, and this first one took me back to Electrowerkz for a live show a second time in six months. Ostensibly the gig was headlined by The Danse Society, but we had no great desire to see them so left after the third band (and judging on what I heard later from various friends, this was a good move).

Pretentious, Moi?
The Ghost of Lemora
Terminal Gods
The Danse Society also played but were not seen
Live @ Electrowerkz, London N1
02 June 2012

As it turned out, getting there later than the start time didn’t make a difference. The whole thing running very late indeed meant that we had the opportunity to see all of the bands, if we so wanted to. And first off, I got to see what all the fuss was about when it came to Terminal Gods – a band a large number of my friends have been raving about for some time.

So, first impressions (I’d not heard anything of theirs in advance): 45 min late, a fog of dry ice, a drum machine…and a lead singer in shades and leather, with a booming voice. Oh, and they say they are a ‘rock and roll band’. Hey, it’s a Sisters tribute! Not quite, but they do do what they do quite well, really. This is solid, drum-machine assisted goth that was impressive in the attention to detail – in that it did every single thing right in re-creating the sound of the eighties.

But it did get me wondering, and I ask this out of genuine interest – is the goth scene really happy with the fact that absolutely nothing has changed in twenty-five years? That the sounds being released now are pretty much exactly the same as they were in the 80s? Is progress really that much of a bad thing? Can a scene continually sustain itself by looking inward, by refusing to adapt and evolve? There are some fascinating artists across the world that are doing some really interesting things with music that might be termed “goth”: US artists Light Asylum and The Soft Moon, for a start. But the inward-looking scene appear uninterested, therefore we end up with the same idea being endlessly recycled and appearing on the same stages (just look at the gig lineups in London as elsewhere).

The Ghost of Lemora were next up, and I think I lasted two songs. More gothic (or “dark”) rock, and plainly and simply they are just not my bag any more: I saw them some years ago in Sheffield, and what they do now offering nothing new for me to make me change my mind. Others close to me love the band, so I will simply agree to disagree on that one…

Much, much better were Pretentious, Moi?, one of the few British Goth bands in recent years to have actually caught my attention and kept it. After admittedly taking a while to listen to it, it ended up in my top albums of 2010, and with good reason – while it was more Gothic Rock, it was an album built around songcraft, that had a top production, and an accessibility rare in this genre nowadays. And somehow, until this show, I had managed not to see them live.

And as well as that, I hadn’t paid attention too much to the band origins (aside from a few members of Manuskript, of course). And perhaps this helps explain quite why they are so good: a band of people who have done their time in other bands, of various styles, and have been able to help create a sound with wider-influences than just the narrow band of goth.

So live, it was a mix of old songs, and at least one or two new ones, and those new songs helped to reinforce that the brilliant debut album wasn’t just a one off. And, unlike so many of their peers, it was clear that they absolutely love what they do. Not just from the effort they clearly put in, but also from the fact that there were smiles from all of the band, they were throwing shapes all over the place, and that enthusiasm really helped in pulling a raucous (and perhaps quite drunk) crowd along with them. However, it was pretty difficult to tell too much else from this performance, as sadly the sound was all over the place. Rachel’s vocals were hidden in the mix somewhere (at points pretty much inaudible), Tim’s vocals were generally ok but suffered a similar fate on occasions, and everything else seemed simply imbalanced, with some songs sounding nearly unrecognisable until choruses kicked in. Even so, the sweeping power of Faith and Reason Part Company still sounded wonderful, while One Last Wish betters the classic goth that influenced it by plainly and simply having a better tune, and a killer chorus.

But back to those sound issues: I don’t quite understand how this can happen at nearly every gig in this venue. Seriously? After lengthy soundchecks that delayed the start by nearly an hour, for Pretentious, Moi?’s sound to be this poor was inexcusable, and certainly affected enjoyment of what was otherwise a great set.

As noted above, we decided not to bother with The Danse Society, but we might as well have done – it took us 90 minutes to get home, just the other side of Finsbury Park, thanks to traffic chaos sparked by the Coldplay gig at the Emirates Stadium. Ah, the fun of living in north London sometimes…