karohemd: (Photo)
Bitter Ruin played a half hour gig at St. Pancras Station last night (as part of the Station Sessions). The small, flat stage was set up in the middle of the busy shopping arcade with at this time of day (6pm) hundreds of commuters bustling past. There was obviously a group of fans but the duo's strong, unmistakable (and hard to put in genres, they are still looking for one themselves) quickly gathered a sizeable crowd. The sound was superb, despite the huge, noisy space and the tiny looking speakers (tall, thin bose contraptions) which coped perfectly with Georgia's incredible tonal and volume range.
They played a mix of favourites (Trust, Soldier, Beware) and one of their new songs (Leather for Hell) and, almost bizarrely, music that's more suitable for small, intimate venues really worked in this big space. They created, as a friend called it, an "island of difference".
If you have a chance to see them live, do.

Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station
Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station Bitter Ruin at St. Pancras Station

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karohemd: (Photo)
I had bought a ticket for this a while ago because I like Robin Ince's bits he's been doing on Infinite Monkey Cage and his introduction to Brian Cox' Douglas Adams memorial lecture was brilliant, too.
In this show he basically talks about and reads from random books he's found (mostly at charity shops), mostly bad romance novels (Mills & Boon and the like), Giant Crabs, fundie Christian lit and random lifestyle advice books (The Secrets of Picking Up Sexy Girls, rabbit keeping, amateur taxidermy etc.). He also goes off on tangents a lot (or all the time) so everything is a bit random but it's brilliantly performed and very funny.

Support was from Philip Jeays who sings lovely, fun and evil songs about various things with a rather Brecht/Weill feel. Very expressive, a lot of fun.

Philip Jeays Robin Ince Robin Ince
Robin Ince Philip Jeays

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karohemd: (Photo)
Spucktute who are doing I'd like to describe as beat poetry with an electronica soundtrack. Quite bleak and angry lyrics.

Last July in their new lineup with Nevla on guitar. A decent PA and the extra layer of the electric guitar made them so much more fun to watch than last time I saw them. A really excellent gig. I predict a great future for them. :D

I probably don't need to introduce Devilish Presley who play dirty and fun Rock'n'Roll with great impact and charisma while only consisting of a guitar duo and a drum machine.

The light during the first two acts was poor but DP had two extra lights pointing up from the floor which helped a lot.


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Yet more on flickr.
karohemd: by sogoth.livejournal.com (Music)
I got there just after the doors opened and managed to secure my favourite spot in front of the mixer desk. Weirdly, the stage at The Junction is at the long rather than the short side so even if you're at the back in front of the mixer you're close enough to the stage to see all the faces clearly, you have a barrier to lean against and you get the best sound (which was really good and well mixed and balanced).
Bellowhead brought even their own beer called Hedonism (named after their current album) but it had run out sometime after 8 already so I'm glad I got there early because it was quite nice.

By the time the support act (Julie and Johnny? something like that), the Junction was quite packed and warm already so when they sang glumly and boringly on stage, I almost fell asleep twice. They weren't bad, just not exciting in any way. They also looked not very confident.

After a short stage reset, Bellowhead took the stage and what a difference that was, and not just because there were eleven of them. Yep, eleven, pretty much filling the stage of the Junction. Bellowhead are basically a large folk outfit (various fiddles, guitar/other strings, drums) plus a four-piece horn section (trumpet, trombone, sax, tuba/susaphone) which is responsible for their unique sound and style.
It's not all straight folk, either, there are lots of crossover elements from gypsy to funk and jazz. Hearing someone play a bouzouki through a Wah-Wah pedal is quite something. ;o) There was a great variety in speed, too, from atmospheric ballads to all-out pelters with everyone jumping around the stage like mad monkeys.

In short, about 90 minutes of nonstop energy, music and banter. The band members aren't just excellent musicians but actors, too. I had a fantastic time and it took me several hours to come down from that high.

There should be more great gigs like that in Cambridge (or at least bands I want to see), I love being able to be back home well before midnight, especially on a weeknight.
karohemd: by sogoth.livejournal.com (Music)
I first heard of Son of Dave on Later... with Jools Holland (like so many other recent musical discoveries) where he was the weird new act. His combination of blues harp, beatboxing, percussion and singing using a digital loop and other effects which produced an incredible groove immediately pushed my musical buttons.
When I recently saw that he was playing at The Junction 2, I obviously had to go and see him. The ticket was only a tenner, too.
I got there at doors open at 7, picked up my ticket and waited for the venue to open. First, there was only one other guy. Various hipsters came in, looking lost and were told to go to the other Junction for Yann Tiersen. It was funny that you could exactly tell who people had come to see.
They finally let us in 10 to 8 and I got a seat in the front row, dead center. :) The venue actually filled up quite a bit but wasn't sold out so maybe about 100 people, maybe a few more.

Support was Gil Karpas who was OK (vocals and guitar). Nothing special but not exactly bad, either.

After a short break, Son of Dave came on stage, wearing a thin red, patterned coat (see website) and a black and white striped shirt/trouser outfit, a bit like a classic comic prison's outfit but with a red heart stitched onto the breast pocket; two pairs of shades and a huge hat.
In front of his chair were two microphone stands (one for a vocal mic, one for percussion), there was a table with a selection of harmonicas and percussion instruments, a handheld mic for harp and beatboxing, one mic on the floor for recording the stomping and an effects/sampling/looping controller.

He would start a song by creating a beat and background (either vocally or with the harp), recording and looping it and then singing and playing harp and percussion (various shakers or tambourines) over it, sometimes recording and looping parts of that as well or replacing the previous loop, creating several layers of sound in the process. His main influences are Blues but also other areas of music. It's really difficult to describe. Have a listen on myspace or find some videos on YouTube.
ETA: Oh, Alabama 3 would fit into this category as well with the difference that they're a full band.

One side I hadn't known from his albums is that he's a really funny guy, either in his interaction with the audience or telling little stories (like the one about his great-great-grandfather who invented the encore).
After a few songs, he randomly picked a couple from the audience, took them backstage and came back with a set of seats and a table for them, told them to sit down and then took a pack of Kettlechips, a bottle of wine, two glasses and some fruit out of his suitcase for them. He even turned one of his monitors so they could hear better. In return they had to join in during a few songs playing percussion (wine bottle and tambourine). It was hilarious and the two while clearly a bit overwhelmed (especially the girl) also had the time of their lives.

The gig was a lot of fun and the music very infective, I certainly couldn't sit and was constantly moving, stomping, clapping or clicking my fingers. Shame it was a seated gig, really.
During the grand finale he handed me a huge, inflatable banana which I had to blow up and which was then thrown around the audience. Very random.

I'm still buzzing, not from the volume because that was nicely understated but from the sheer energy of this one man on the stage creating such fantastic music. Another great gig this year.

No photos because I stupidly left my G10 at home when I rushed out of the house this morning. It would have been tricky, anyway. There was generally enough light but his face would have been mostly in shadow. Also, I was just having too much fun and grooving too much for taking photos.

Next gig: Bellowhead on the 25th.
karohemd: by sogoth.livejournal.com (Music)
Last night I went down to London to see Grinderman live, Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' side project that's rather different from the Bad Seeds' music, harder, harsher, dirtier (both in terms of music and lyrics). They just released their second album.
I only had the G10 and got pushed away from the front rather quickly by the frothing masses but I managed to get a few shots in.

karohemd: (Photo)
Buddy Guy was amazing.
He's 73 but you don't really notice it. He's still got the blues, his guitar playing is wonderful, his rapport with the audience is inspiring (he even went on a little tour through the main auditorium, making his way through the standing audience) and he clearly has a lot of fun doing it.
The light was brilliant and I managed to take some awesome pics with my G10. The shots could be a little sharper as focusing with a compact isn't great but the light was good and I could keep the ISO down to 400 which is important with the G10. The improved noise reduction in Lightroom 3 helped as well.

The main album is here on flickr which also contains a few more shots of Bjørn Berge, the support act.


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karohemd: by sogoth.livejournal.com (Music)
The first time I saw Buddy Guy was a few years ago when he supported Jeff Beck (who was rubbish) at one of the Tower of London gigs. He was absolutely brilliant then but I only saw a little bit of him when he wandered down the aisle during one track.
This time it was a headline gig at the Shepherd's Bush Empire and I was bright and early so ended up in the second row standing, probably about 3m from his microphone.
Support was by Bjørn Berge, just a Norwegian and his two acoustic guitars (a 12 and a 6-string) and a Seasick Steve-ish stomp box thing (but smaller, he just tapped it with his toes) playing anything from acoustic blues to some really wild multi-level picking madness, a bit like Rodrigo y Gabriela. Very good fun.
Just before I'd left I thought, 'ooh, I have a standing ticket and will be early, I could take the G10' which I did and I had an almost perfect spot. Just one shot, there'll be more when I'm done with The Perch.

After stage reset, Buddy Guy came on and played about one hour and 20 minutes of blues, fun and banter with the audience. He's 73 but still young at heart and you can tell that he's doing it because he has all the fun in the world going out and bringing his music to the audience. His voice is still strong with an amazing range from a deep bass to a wondrous falsetto and his guitar playing is top notch, be it traditional blues, emulating Hendrix or Clapton or playing with a drumstick, piece of cloth or his teeth.
What a wonderful, gracious, modest artist. Catch him while you can.


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The light was awesome: Canon G10 at ISO400, 1/60th-1/100th, f3.5-f4.5
karohemd: (Photo)
Finally I managed to edit and publish the photos from Saturday night. The sequence of the show was the same, with "The Lost Airman" (Thomas Dolby) taking the role of compere.

The full set is again on flickr.


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karohemd: (Photo)
Evelyn Evelyn is a new acit discovered and produced by Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley. Their manager, Sxip Shirey, was unfortunately unable to attend due to volcanic activity so his role of compere was taken over by Adrian Stout of the Tiger Lillies for the evening.

The evening consisted of four segments:
- Bitter Ruin as support act, again filling in for Sxip Shirey. Only a duo, vocals and (Flamenco) acoustic guitar but very powerful music and lyrics and and utter joy to watch and listen to.
- Evelyn Evelyn performing a mix of their own songs and two covers. They play the piano, accordion, guitar, kazoo and ukulele with astounding proficiency and their chemistry is apparent. They also dabble in divination.
- Jason Webley solo. He is a street performer through and through and a mad wizard on stage. His recording do not do him justice, you have to see him live to believe it. For those interested, he said he's planning a UK tour in the autumn.
- Amanda Palmer solo, performing a mix of songs from her solo album and Dresden Dolls back catalogue as well as duets with Jason Webley and Georgia of Bitter Ruin.
- Grand Finale with everyone on stage, including Neil Gaiman on tambourine and a few lucky fans.

The light wasn't too bad, just a little too much red (even more so on the Saturday). As I was sitting, I didn't have the freedom to move around so they are a bit static and microphones and other gear are in the way quite often. Still, I think I got some reasonable results.


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Even more on flickr.
karohemd: (Photo)
They opened for Nitzer Ebb on Thursday, had good sound and gave an enjoyable performance. Even worse light issues than for Mechanical Cabaret as there were no front lights whatsoever and some sections were red.
Still, I think, some came out great.


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A few more on flickr.
karohemd: (Photo)
The lights were difficult as most of it was from the back or side with very little from the front but Roi Robertson is a pleasure to shoot. Too bad I couldn't document some of his antics off stage because of the inadequate lights (and that's despite my ridiculous ISO capabilities). So all in all, a pleasurable performance.


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karohemd: (Photo)
The Neutrinos were my favourite band at Strawberry Fair this year. The played an acoustic set (acoustic guitar, acoustic bass guitar and singer) of their relatively hard to describe style. Lounge Punk? Something like that. The singer was excellent and one of the most expressive I've seen. A joy to photograph as well.
So here are a few impressions:


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karohemd: (Photo)
was good. The weather held until I left 9:30ish because my feet were telling me they wanted to be put up and wouldn't support me much longer. I made it there just after 12 and met up with a number of friends. I picked up my press pass and stuck it to my hat. ;o) I moved between the stages all day. Except for Special Preserve (great blues) and The Neutrinos (both in the acoustic tent, the latter will get a separate post), music was nothing special this year and except for that world music group and again The Neutrinos not particularly interesting to photograph, either. Shame, really.
I also had my usual food selection (falafel for lunch, curry goat for dinner and a crepe for afters) but didn't buy anything else. So, here's them photos:


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Still more on flickr (which will be expanded over the next week or so)
karohemd: (Photo)
at the New Players Theatre, London on Saturday, 16/05/09.
The Tiger Lillies are hard to describe, their music encompasses various styles from classic French chansons, Brecht/Weill style dark ballads, gypsy music and other influences. Have a look at their myspace and YouTube sites linked from the main website to get an idea.
The trio (Martyn Jaques on vocals, accordion and piano; Adrian Strong on drums and percussion and Adrian Stout on double bass, theremin and singing saw) are currently celebrating their 20th stage anniversary with The Songs of Shockheaded Peter and Other Gory Verses at the New Players Theatre in Soho, London. Well worth a visit, it's still on until the 23rd.


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The whole set is on flickr.

April 2016

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