Monday 23 April 2012

The Dandy Warhols at the HMV Forum

So, last Saturday my mate Glenn and I ventured down to that there London on the train to see the ever-cool Dandy Warhols rock Kentish Town's HMV Forum.

Amazingly, it's been over 3 years since I last saw the Dandy's, at a low-key, truncated gig at Wolverhampton's Wulfrun Hall. So it was definitely well past time for some more Tales from Urban Bohemia.
The Forum ( formerly the Town & Country Club ) is an impressive venue: a 1930's art deco cinema, converted into a 2000+ capacity concert hall, with a pretty decent sound and light system. The surrounding area of Kentish Town wasn't too pretty, so we didn't linger long outside.

The support band were AK/DK ( no, not UK Decay, for any old Goths reading this ) - an arty duo who generated a hypnotic, free-form noise from two drum-kits, old synths and samples - and who reminded me somewhat of the first ( and only ) time I saw The Flaming Lips. But without the nun hand-puppets. An unusual band whose compelling sound made a change from the usual indie fare and who, bizarrely, covered Bow Wow Wow's venerable C30 C60 C90 Go...

The last time I reviewed the Dandy's I said they have "a big, warm, sexy sound and a too cool for school image, a bit arty at times but no worse for that." And that still stands. But they also rock as much as any sweaty, pogoing Punk band... but in a cool kind of way. Songs like Horse Pills and new single Sad Vacation are Rock monsters from Planet Groove, and the intros to Bohemian Like You and Get Off caused mass outbreaks of moshing down the front. The pace slowed down as Courtney Taylor-Taylor ( looking like a less craggy Neil Young with his long hair ) strummed a solo Every Day Should Be A Holiday and rattled off a hilarious, unintelligible Texan monologue to introduce The Last Of The Outlaw Truckers. According to keyboard player Zia, Courtney had been suffering from a sore throat but it didn't seem to affect his vocals or put a dent in his superhuman charisma. The band appeared genuinely touched by the rabid reaction of the fans, even coming back for an encore, unlike the last time I saw them. They thanked us for giving the new songs as much attention as the old classics, Zia did her acapella spot, and then they were gone. A great gig in a decent venue - well worth travelling down for - and the night wasn't over quite yet...

Above: Glenn looking like the ( cool ) cat who got the cream, after enjoying another excellent gig by his favourite band.
We'd been handed a flyer on the way in, advertising a Dandy Warhol's DJ set at Camden's world famous Barfly, so what else could we do but hop on the Tube and head for Camden Town?

Upstairs in the Barfly ( £5 admission ) we found this bunch: a very retro-styled band called Maker, playing the Casino Royale club night.

Maker are a very tight, enthusiastic band with some great tunes, a Faces/Stones/Primal Scream sound and a fine Robert Plant-like vocalist in Alessandro Marinelli. It's all very retro and unlikely to cross over to a mass audience, but Glenn and I were definitely impressed with Maker's good time Rock 'n' Roll. Worth checking out for the haircuts alone!

After Maker had finished tearing the roof off the place, the Dandy's evening continued as Zia took to the decks for the DJ set.

Zia was awesome! Dancing, singing, chatting with the punters and generally having a great time, she was a delight to watch and listen to. She played a cracking selection of indie classics from Primal Scream, Pulp, Talking Heads, Echo & The Bunnymen and, as they say, many more. "When I play this stuff in the States, no-one knows the words" she laughed as she spun Pulp's Sorted For E's And Whizz. ( Which we weren't, sadly. )

After an hour or so of indie choons, Zia headed downstairs to play old school Soul and R 'n' B, with some classics from Stevie Wonder and The Temptations amongst the more obscure oldies. Sometime after 3:00am we headed for home, leaving Zia still dancing around the Barfly, having first got our gig tickets signed by the lovely lady herself. I think we both fell for her that night... just a little...

The evening ended with a walk through Camden, past more messed-up revellers than I've seen in my life, with a quick detour to Subway for sustenance and a photo-shoot with the regal lady below:

Bed at 4:00am - up for breakfast at 8:00am - and back to Camden for shopping and sightseeing - Phew!

More London wafflings to follow :-)

Soundtrack: Run And Hide ep by Maker

Thursday 19 April 2012

Levon Helm

"The whole congregation was standing on the banks of the river
We are gathered here to give a little thanks..."
The River Hymn by The Band

Very sad to hear today of the passing of the great Levon Helm, singer, drummer and mandolin player with The Band. Levon was the Arkansas-born Rebel who gave a gritty authenticity to Robbie Robertson's sepia-toned dreams of the Old South in such wonderful songs as The Weight, Up On Cripple Creek and, of course, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down. The trademark Band combination of Levon's tough, forceful style with Rick Danko's heartfelt, country vocals and Richard Manuel's blue-eyed soul stylings gave their best songs a magic unlike any other. I've written about what The Band's music means to me over at 15 Albums so I won't repeat myself here. I'll just say that Levon was a unique and inspiring musician who, against the odds, fought a brave battle with illness for many years, and continued to play and sing when many others would have given up, even winning a Grammy for his Dirt Farmer album at the age of 67.

"You take what you need and you leave the rest
But you should never have taken the very best..."

Mark Lavon ( "Levon" ) Helm
26th May 1940 to 19th April 2012

Saturday 14 April 2012

My favourite new song

Feel To Follow by The Maccabees

I had previously dismissed this band as Arcade Fire copyists, but now they've proven me wrong with their great new songs like this one and Pelican, both from the album Given To The Wild. Feel To Follow builds from a quiet indie ballad to full-on Floyd-esque psychedelia. And what a trippy video, maaaaan...

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Pink and green Iron Man

In answer to literally one request ( yes, it's your fault, Steve W ) here's another page from my ragged copy of Terrific no.1 from 1967, featuring the amazing pink and green Iron Man, coloured by yours truly. ( I was very young at the time... )

And if you think that's bad, you should see Orange Thor and Yellow Thor...

Juxtaposed With U by Super Furry Animals
Bridging The Gap by Nas ( featuring Olu Dara )

Monday 9 April 2012

Rainy Bank Holiday Monday ( with Cylons )

In the time-honoured tradition of English Bank Holidays the weather is bloody awful outside, so I've spent most of the day indoors, doing essential things like messing about on Facebook and watching TV. I know I could have been doing some DIY or having another go at that Play Guitar In A Day manual or even starting that long-postponed first novel...
But I went for a Battlestar Galactica marathon instead.

I admit I was embarrassingly late for the BSG party. When it was first shown in the UK we didn't have Sky so I couldn't catch it when it was broadcast, and my long-standing bias against macho "military" Science Fiction meant I didn't make any kind of effort to seek it out. However, all the rave reviews in SFX and elsewhere finally convinced me to buy the Season One box set last year. And I loved it! It's a gripping, exciting, complex and mature series with some fantastic effects and fine performances.
( And, it has to be said, some serious eye-candy in the shapes of Tricia Helfer, Grace Park and Katee Sackhoff. OK, so I'm superficial... ) Episode One, "33", in particular is one of the most tense, exciting and morally demanding pieces of TV SF ever, with the ragtag fleet of spaceships that comprises the remains of the human race desperately trying to escape the dreaded Cylons, whilst under almost constant attack. It's just a great episode! The only problem for me was that it started with a "Previously on..." caption, because the 2003 mini-series wasn't included in the box set :-(

Anyway, I finally tracked the mini-series down this weekend and jumped straight into the story of the destruction of the Twelve Colonies Of Kobol by the Cylons and the emergence of the Galactica as the last, best hope for humanity. ( Or is that a different show? ) I've got hooked all over again and am working my way through Season One - it's frakkin' awesome!

To while away the rainy hours I've also been listening to some LCD Soundsystem, Flaming Lips and a Was ( Not Was ) Greatest Hits compilation I bought for a quid in a charity shop. I always used to like those mutant funksters back in the day, when they produced such cool songs as Shake Your Head, Out Come The Freaks and Spy In The House Of Love. My CD features all these but, surprisingly, not Walk The Dinosaur, which was their biggest UK hit. Sarah walked in when one of their more trad-Soul songs was playing and she laughed "What's this? Lionel Richie?"
I'm surrounded by Philistines :-)

I don't think Lionel Rich Tea ( as he's known in our house ) would have given us a song like this:

Saturday 7 April 2012

Back home

...and wishing I was still on the beach.

More photos from our holiday in beautiful Dorset to follow...


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