Ok these are extremely late. I have been meaning to write them up for ages but with one thing and another I never quite got round to it. But in only a few short days time I’ll be heading off to London for part 1 of my EuroWAStravaganza so I thought I’d better get cracking with these first.
OK that may need some explanation – WAStravaganza was a term Abby Williamson used to describe her and her friends’ road trip down the west coast of the States to see several We Are Scientist shows. We Are Scientists → WAS → WAStravaganza. So now We Are Scientists are on the European leg of their tour, it has become EuroWAStravaganza. See?
You can expect a lot more comment on We Are Scientists in the next few weeks, I’m surprised at how little I have written about them on here so far, but all going well that will change. Watch this space…..
But for now I am going to tell you about 3 other gigs I have been to (fairly) recently.
First up – I Am Arrows, King Tuts, 19th September (see I told you I was mega-late)
I Am Arrows is essentially Andy Burrows who used to be the drummer in Razorlight. Now I was never really a fan of Razorlight, but I came to hear about Andy through his work with We Are Scientists (woops, there they are again!). He recorded the drums for their latest album (Barbara – go listen!) and in various publicity /facebook / twitter etc his solo stuff was mentioned so I thought I’d check it out. It was nothing like I expected, it was neither Razorlight-y nor WAS-y but it was good. I don’t like catogorising, but it is kind of acoustic, sometimes folky, sometimes bluesy, some soulful, some cheerful songs with beautiful melodies and great rhythms and overall it is just good. I’m not very good at describing music and I don’t want to compare him to anyone else in case you love that person and then are disappointed or hate them and are put off. Anyway when I found out he was coming to Glasgow I had to go and see what he was like live.
Again the live show was nothing like I expected, but it was nice to be surprised. The acoustic-y stuff had been zooped up with electric guitars and amps and it was a lot louder that I anticipated, but again it just seemed to work. It was still the same songs, and Andy himself sang lead while rocking out with an acoustic guitar but he had a full on electrified band behind him. It gave the show a great energy and got everyone singing along and dancing along if they didn’t know the words. King Tuts usually has a good vibe, and that night was no exception despite a lot of the audience not being that familiar with the band.
Some good banter from Andy, who seems to be a really nice guy, an impromptu jam of “Hey Mona” (blast from the past!) and a cover of Tears for Fears (definitely not Scottish) made for a thoroughly enjoyable night out.
Support – 2 bands, neither of which I can remember the names of right now and I can’t be bothered to look up cos it’s late and I’ve still got 2 more shows to write about. 1 was good and the other was not, that’s all I remember. I might dig out the details and add later.
Merch – I got a t-shirt with I Am Arrow’s Sun Comes Up Again album art on the front which is pretty cool. Bonus points for having shirts in ladies sizes 🙂
Next – KT Tunstall, Barrowlands, 23rd October
I love KT Tunstall. Some people think she is really bland and boring and only does soppy love ballads, but she isn’t and she doesn’t! She is cool and rocks and does loads of interesting songs and I love her so there!
Her latest album is a bit of a departure from her previous two and she got some stick for it, but I prefer artists to try new things rather than churn out the same old predictable stuff again and again. Although the production is different, it reminds me a lot of her Acoustic Extravaganza album (or was it an LP? not sure what difference it makes in the download age…) which I really liked.
I have seen her live once before a couple of years ago at the Glasgow Academy (then the Carling Academy, now the O2 Academy I think? Although O2 have the ABC now. Are they taking over all venues?) and she was excellent live, so I really wanted to see her again. However this time was the Barrowlands. I know the Barrowlands has a great history etc etc but I don’t particularly like it. So I approached with trepidation.
We positioned ourselves at the side of the hall so my pregnant cousin-in-law wouldn’t get crushed but we had a pretty good view (until a group of, I don’t know, some kind of traditional Jewish guys came in complete with hats – WTF?). KT was awesome, the new songs sounded great, she did all the old hits and chatted to the crowd quite a bit. She did a cool solo version of Other Side of the World and the usual pedal-recording thing with Black Horse, but had to re-start cos the audience were clapping too quickly and it ended up in her words, “like a rap”. Ok she may have put a sweary word in there but I don’t want to write that here.
Unfortunately the Barrowlands lived up to my poor expectations, people around us at the side seemed think it was ok to talk loudly all through the show, particularly during the new songs that they evidently didn’t know or care about hearing. After she did Black Horse about half of them left to go to the loo/bar etc, as if that was all they came to hear. There was the usual contingent of drunk obnoxious guys who must just go to every gig there and drink themselves stupid and cause fights. But despite all that we still had a good night, and KT as usual put on an excellent show.
Support – we got there too late to really hear them I think. Didn’t really pay attention, can’t remember who it was.
Merch – lots of tiger themed stuff as per her album title, I wasn’t sure I could pull off going around with a half KT / half tiger head on my chest, so I opted for a red and black striped tour t-shirt with dates on the back. Again, points for having ladies sizes (but then I’d expect that from a female artiste) but extra bonus points for selling tea towels! Yes, you can buy a KT Tunstall tea towel. I didn’t though, would be weird drying dishes on KT Tunstall’s face.
And last but not least Mystery Jets, ABC, 30th October
Hmm what can I say about the Mystery Jets? I bought tickets to this gig as soon as they went on sale cos I had such fun the last time I saw them, but I didn’t get round to buying the latest album until much later, then I was so obsessed with KT Tunstall’s album that I didn’t start listening to Serotonin until really close to the gig. At first I wasn’t sure about the new material, it was a lot more mainstream then their previous two albums, altogether more conventional. What I like about the Jets is their quirkiness, that their personalities come through in their music, that they have personalities. Their earlier stuff was full of weird stories, characters, unconventional structures, rhythms and arrangements. It took me a while to get into it, but once I got it I was an avid fan. I’ve got to be honest I was a little disappointed that Serotonin lacked those characteristics.
However at the gig we managed to get right up front at the barrier and when they came on and started playing Alice Springs it all just clicked with me. I saw the new songs in a new light live, a far better light. I don’t know if that was how they were always intended to be heard, or whether seeing them being performed and the additional expression that goes with that made a difference, but it was so much better than I had expected.
We were over at William’s side, and I could have happily just watched him all night. He looked like he was having such a good time, quite often looking into the crowd and smiling at people or laughing at us singing and dancing along. Something has to be said about his guitar technique. It is crazy. He doesn’t use a pick or plectrum, he just strums and batters away with his fingers all the time. I have no idea how he manages not to rip them to shreds. It is a sight to behold.
Last time I saw them playing Blaine was the one to watch, he had a whole percussion set near him, as well as his guitar and keys and would enthusiastically shake rattle and roll throughout each song, almost falling off his stool with the vigorousness of his accompaniment. This time however he was more restrained. I’m not sure if it was just more in keeping with the tone of the new material, or maybe he wasn’t feeling quite so energetic this time. They played a really short set, about 45 mins, with no encore so maybe he wasn’t feeling too good. So he stuck to singing and guitar / keys I think but delivered the goods with that. They played Melt which was beautiful and Flakes, apparently at the request of someone in the audience, and that was one of the highlights for me too. I was really hoping they’d do Dreaming of Another World but they didn’t. After being a bit ambivalent about the new songs I ended up wanted to hear more of them.
Afterwards we tried some stalking to see if we could meet the band but failed miserably. William emerged briefly and I approached him hoping to say hello, but he was chatting to someone else and I was too polite to interrupt, then he darted off. Kai came out later and went for some food, and some other girls followed him but I wasn’t really interested in talking to him (truth be told I couldn’t even remember his name at the time, I had to look it up after). We waited at the door for about 90 mins, told the bouncer we were waiting for them, even tried Tweeting them but to no avail. It was the night before Halloween so there was some theme party club night happening at the same venue after the gig, and there was a ghostbusters car parked outside blasting out the theme music, so at least we had some entertainment while we waited.
Support – again we only saw the end of the set, can’t remember the name but they weren’t very good.
Merch – I got a tour t-shirt with the album art on the front, but no ladies sizes, I had to get a small man’s! Better than last time when I had to get a junior size. Come on Mystery Jets, get it together, we need ladies size t-shirts!
Phew, ok that is that. So they are not really reviews as such, I only go to see bands I like, so I don’t write critiques, just my thoughts on my experiences. Hope you found it vaguely interesting.
The first band to support I Am Arrows were called Fiction Faction. They were the good one, right? The second one was David J Roch. I didn’t think he was bad, exactly, but I didn’t like him much.
I’m afraid I preferred David J Roch. Fiction Faction were ok, they were good enough musicians, but nothing particularly interesting or distinguishable. David J Roch stood out more, his voice was quite amazing and there was something unusual about his sound. Not necessarily my cup of tea either, but it was interesting to hear something a bit different.