More gigs, more musings part 1

So a few months ago a lot of bands that I like announced tours, so I went and bought tickets, and it turned out that 4 bands were coming to Glasgow in the space of 3 weeks. Nothing for months then they all come along at once – anyway here’s how the first 2 went…

First up was The Last Shadow Puppets at the Carling Academy. Good venue, good crowd, a fairly mixed audience. This was a proper show – big stage, orchestra up back, Alex and Miles up front with their band. They played most of their album, a few new ones and a couple of covers in just the right mix. The people down the front were doing the usual mosh-pit stuff but given the type of material they were performing it didn’t feel like a normal rock concert and I didn’t feel like getting down and dirty with them. We were fairly far back, but on a raised bit so we got a good view and I was content just to stand back and watch. We got a bit of chat from the guys and a bit of banter between them, but they mainly just got on with it and did their stuff. The songs were pretty much as you hear on the album, there didn’t seem to be much added extra in the live performance, but they are cracking good tunes so that’s not a bad thing.

Support Band – 4 girls who looked like they should be in London fashion week looking very aloof while producing tedious bland pop-rock – 2/10

Merchandise – £18 for a t-shirt that just had TLSP on it – didn’t buy anything – 3/10

Then we had The Mystery Jets at the QMU. It was a bit weird going back to my old student union after so long, but I soon got over that. Audience were mainly students, though there were a few older people there, indeed someone’s mother elbowed me out the way trying to get a better view. This time I would have liked to have been front and centre (well probably front and right to get a better view of William’s insane guitar technique) but I was with Tony and he refuses to go near the front. Instead we positioned ourselves again on a raised bit but this time at the side and much nearer the stage so we got a very good view. The Jets put on a great show – very energetic, enthusiastic, they looked like they were having a good time. They chatted a bit, introduced songs etc but didn’t talk too much. I did like how they all said something (except the drummer). Blaine did more guitar playing than I’ve seen him do on tv / video clips etc which was good, and I thought he was going to do himself an injury smashing his tambourine against his chest so vigorously. I also thought William was going to knock Blaine off his stool a couple of times (accidentally!) but thankfully he remained safely perched. Bassist Kai seemed to have a lot of admirers in the crowd, a bunch of girls near us kept yelling out their love for him at every opportunity which was quite annoying. Otherwise the crowd were fine, and sang, danced and jumped along throughout. Even Tony started getting into it towards the end! They did a good mix of old and newer material, and did change their delivery so that the live versions were different from the recorded versions, and made the effort to make it interesting for the audience and give us something a bit more unique which I like.

After the show we were waiting in the queue for the cloakroom and the band came out and started chatting to people, posing for photos and signing things etc. I spoke to Kapil, William and Blaine (Kai was probably hiding from that group of marauding women), and they all signed my ticket. They all seemed like really nice, friendly, down-to-earth people. They were genuinely interested in whether we’d enjoyed the show and chatted to people about where they were from etc. It was a nice bonus and made the evening extra special.

Ticket signed by 3 of 4 Jets
Ticket signed by 3 of 4 Jets

Support Band – we got there too late to see the first ones, but the second ones were a serious 80s throwback affair channelling Soft Cell – 6/10

Merchandise – £10 for a cool geometric-abstract design with the band name and logo incorporated and a free badge – 9/10 (only cos they didn’t have girls sizes and I had to get a medium boys L )

Next up: Elliot Minor and MGMT

On learning the guitar

(Originally published on my MySpace blog on 29th September 2008)
So a few months ago my neighbour was throwing out an old guitar and rather than see it go in the bin I salvaged it and took it in. I’d played a wee bit in school but got so bored of endless slow, painful whole-class renditions of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” that I quickly gave up and took up the drums instead. Then while I was in Sweden a 10-year old boy taught me a few chords in return for some drum lessons but that never really got off the ground. So with my bin-find I thought I’d have another go, and I’ve really enjoyed playing about with it. I got a chord book and racked my brain for stuff that I learned before and I really started to get into it. Unfortunately it turned out that my bin-find was a piece of old junk after all, it was a classical guitar that had been strung badly with steel strings and was all out of sorts. I decided that I wanted to pursue learning, so I bought myself a decent second hand guitar and have been having so much fun learning and playing.
As well as drums I’d played trumpet and keyboards before. I was told that I could never get a good clean sound out of the trumpet because I had the wrong embouchure, so that didn’t last. I still have a keyboard and play about from time to time but it’s all too, well, electronic. Even with pressure sensitive keys etc the sound is still generated by a chip and you only prod it with your fingers, and press buttons to get different sounds. Perhaps playing the piano would be different, but my parents were never middle-class enough to send us for piano lessons, and we certainly would never have had one in the house. The guitar is much more part of you when you play it, you almost hug it into yourself, rather than keeping it at arms length. I really like how you can have much more of an effect on the sound by the way you play, just by subtle changes in position, pressure or movement. Although let me be clear, it’s early days for me yet and there’s not much subtlety about my playing! I can understand now why guitarists give their instruments names. I’ve yet to name mine, usually you hear of men giving their’s female names, so I guess I should give mine a male name, but I’ve not come up with one yet.
The only downside is being exposed to guitar culture. Somehow people expect you to want to learn to play Hendrix or Van Halen or some other virtuoso that I’ve ever even heard of, never mind listened to, never mind want to emulate. I must say that the guys in the wee guitar shop that I go to have been very helpful and not at all patronising or sexist or anything, but I am quite nervous when trying out guitars in the store, because they just pick them up and rip right into some amazing solo and I pick my way falteringly through a wee 2-bar riff that took me days to learn. I’ve mostly been playing stuff from bands that I’m listening to – We Are Scientists, Editors, KT Tunstall. Franz Ferdinand etc. I’m not in this to show off or perform for anyone, just for my own enjoyment. Thing is, now I’m getting interested in electric guitar too. Seems like a lot of girls who play get into playing bass. Not that I’m not interested in that, but I’m more interested in rhythm or lead guitar stuff. I saw a really nice telecaster-style guitar in the shop window today and am sorely tempted to buy it… 

New acoustic
New acoustic




New electic
New electic

Musings on gig-going and audiences

(Originally published on my MySpace blog on 2nd June 2008)
I’ve been to a few gigs recently had quite different experiences at each, largely due to the composition of the rest of the crowd there, which got me thinking…..

We Are Scientists: (Glasgow) The audience was young. Very Young. They had to rush home cos they had school the next day kind of young. Which I didn’t expect cos the band themselves are in their 30s and they have this whole smart-funny persona which most rock/pop bands aimed at kids eschew for fear of alienating them. Mostly girls and gay blokes as far as I could tell, Keith particularly being the object of their affections (poor guy) but there was no trouble and it was a good, friendly atmosphere.

Royworld: Saw them supporting WAS (Aberdeen) and they were so good that I jumped at the chance to see them in King Tut’s in their own right. Not sure if it was mostly a WAS crowd there too, but because it’s a bar there were no kids there and more of a gender balance in the audience, which I found more comfortable. It wasn’t a big crowd which was a shame cos they played a great set and both support bands (Le Reno Amps & The Rushes) were really good too.

Life of Riley / Jason Manns: Girl, girls and more girls. A few blokes had been dragged along by their girlfriends, and all except one looked miserable. His girlfriend ought to have a word with him… I had more sense and dragged along a (female) friend. As for WAS, most of the audience seemed to be there as much to throw themselves at the performers as for the music and they could only communicate in shrieks. Their response to any utterance by Riley or Jason was “Woohoo!!!” which again must be weird for the guys. I found it quite unsettling to be surrounded by so many wailing and apparently sexually-frustrated women, maybe I’m just too used to male company (that’s what taking up a martial art gets you) or maybe it’s cos I wasn’t chasing after the guys but all in all it was very strange. The music was good, however, which was the main thing. Small venue, perfect for an acoustic set.

The Rascals: I went to see them cos I’d been listening to the Last Shadow Puppets and thought that Miles Kane’s day-job band might be worth checking out. This time King Tut’s was heaving and it was 95% young drunken lads. I suppose on reflection it shouldn’t have been a surprise, and the thought of hordes of drunken lads would stop me from going to an Arctic Monkeys gig for example, but all 3 bands’ music is actually quite sophisticated lyrically and musically. I may be being unfair, but that’s probably lost on these blokes. I did enjoy the show, but it was spoiled somewhat by having rugby players jump on my feet and knock me sideways and then throw beer all over the place. I pity whoever had to clean up the floor afterwards cos it was beyond sticky with spilt beer, it was swimming. Maybe I’m just too old for that kind of thing. Too female, or not drunk enough anyway.

So not sure who I’ll be seeing next, I have tickets to the Connect Festival but that’s not till August. L