I am not good in words, I am not a music connoisseur.. and I am not a lot of other things.. I will stick to what I know: sharing (my biased) music appreciation.
Jon Hopkins @TheForum, KentishTown, 22/02/2014
I bought tickets for Jon Hopkins in September when Shan had told me that his set at Bestival was amazing plus I had fallen in love with his album Immunity, nominated for a Mercury Prize last year. The night was sold out months ago and the anticipation was big, so big that I had to cut my holidays in Amsterdam a day short to make it back in time for Jon Hopkins.
The news at his official site read : “I am playing my biggest live AV show to date on Feb 22nd at the London Forum.”, so I have to admit I had great expectation for the night.
He came on stage around 11:30, after an unexplained 45′ minutes of uncomfortable standing around time. Yet 50 minutes later i couldn’t feel reconciled. Having read his quote on his official site and knowing that he would play only for an hour, I was expecting a set for the fans, a set for festival people. Afterall, it was a Saturday night at the Forum, a dark enough place to dance off to electronic music.
His set had brilliant moments (see Collider) but it lacked continuation. Many times I felt like a kid who was given a cone of ice cream and as I was about to take a bite of my favourite part, the ice cream fell down on the floor. One of those moments was during Open Eye Signal, mainly because I was expecting an extended version rather than exactly the album version, and not even as loud as I usually play it at home.
Disappointed as I was, I still enjoyed him on stage. He has a great dynamic and I loved his dance moves. In general I was receiving a good vibe from him and during his limited great moments, his talent and originality overpowered everything else.
Support came from Daphni, Luke Abbott and Objekt, with the last one taking over after Hopkins with a very good dance set. Despite feeling personally hurt by Jon Hopkins, it was still a good Saturday night as I got to feel “kinda” cool arriving at the venue straight after the airport carrying a suitcase, I got to catch up with friends and listen to Jon Hopkins.
2013 was undoubtedly the year of guitar music’s comeback, meaning not that guitar music ever left us, but there was nothing new out there for a while. Yet in 2013 we witnessed the rise of guitar music from new or existing acts (like Jake Bugg, Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire…). So when a friend mentioned the name Lola Colt with a description as weird as psychedelic pop cinematic guitar music, I was curious to see if 2013 was hiding another surprise in guitar music.
Lola Colt is a London- based band who rehearses twice a week in Stoke Newington, confirming East London is musically happening strong. Their name sounds like a show animal but it’s after a 1967 spaghetti western film, with all clichés included. Their soundcloud page includes five songs with the older one Diamonds dated 10 months ago. Their newest tracks Jackson and Time to Burn are included in their second single named Jackson which was released on the 2nd of December. It is this same single’s release that the band celebrated last Tuesday night at the Lexington.
I haven’t been on the first floor of The Lexington before, and I really liked the venue. It is a very intimate venue with a red light spread all around making you feel comfortable and relaxed. There was a great mixture of people around and although the night was officially sold out, there was plenty of room for each one of us to stand and enjoy the gig.
The opening act was Neils Children a London band with four members (guitar/vocals, bass, drums, keyboards). Their sound (I really don’t like genre tags but something like indie-psychedelic-pop-rock) was interesting although I would prefer them with no vocals, not as without the vocalist/guitarist and co-creator of the band, but as in music with no lyrics and less responsibility to the guitarist. I really believe that this idea would help him, as he seemed distracted during most of the performance, while the rest of the time he was trying to perform all the tricks he has learnt in guitar and demonstrate all the skills acquired during many years at once. Interesting bass line and ideas though.
And then three guys and three girls took over the stage and I couldn’t help finding myself being attracted to all of them, men and women. Their sound was warm and seductive and her voice is powerful and full of emotions. I found myself remaining thoughtless, which never happens, for several minutes. I was just listening to them, just watching them, just enjoying the moment. The multi-coloured lights on their faces along side with their powerful performances created a great psychedelic atmosphere. The one that doesn’t require acid consumption in order to be enjoyed.
I knew I was watching a great performance by great musicians and their individual body language said that they were all enjoying it as much as we were. Deep, emotional sound with brilliant alterations. I can definitely detect their influence from Nick Cave, as when I saw him a couple months ago performing with the Bad Seeds I remember having very similar reactions. The quality and the time spent behind their sound make them as professional as Nick Cave. It was the next day that I found out that their album will be produced next year by Jim Sclavunos, current member of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Grinderman.
Although I am looking forward to seeing them perform on an outdoor stage with much more space for them to move, I consider myself lucky to be one of the few that saw them on this small, intimate stage just before they become famous. I don’t know their names, I don’t know the names of their songs but I know this, I absolutely loved them. You have to catch them live.
@KOKO, Camden Town, London
The first signs of winter arrived yesterday night in London with the mass appearance of people wearing scarfs and gloves as they queued outside KOKO with anticipation for the performance of Dominic Maker and Kai Campos, aka Mount Kimbie.
The London duo was formed in 2008 and recently released their second album Cold Spring Fault Less Youth through Warp records joining the celebrated list of bands including Nightmares On Wax, Grizzly Bear, Boards of Canada etc. The genre of Mount Kimbie is often described as dubsteb, a false label to both my ears and my brain as the album also contains strong elements from electronic, indie rock even the jazz scene. The release of their album was great timing for me personally, appearing just when I questioned whether the English electronic scene could ever offer anything new.
KOKO remains a great venue to find a mixed crowd and have a great music night, although on this occasion the venue was so packed that you literally had to fight for your right to get a view to the stage. But the fight was undoubtedly worth it as the boys were changing instruments, changing positions, calling other artists on stage, enjoying their show as much as we were.
The great quality of the sound, due to both the band and their sound engineer, became clear on Home Recording, a personal favourite, which is a so atmospheric, emotional, headphones song that I thought it would be difficult to capture outside of a studio recording, yet the live experience was brilliant. Blood & Form gained a new personality during the live performance, overcoming the controversial album version.
The duo was thanking the crowd after almost every song, which to me seemed as a sign of modesty and appreciation to London crowd. King Krule came on stage to sing along You Took Your Time to crowds acclaim. The structure of the live was cleverly put as there was a constant uphill to the tempo and mood. The last twenty minutes of the night (including Made to Stray) reassured me that there is in fact a new London electronic scene.
@TheForum, KentishTown, London
After reading about Trentemøller coming to London for the first of his tour gig to partake in the LEAF – or the London Electronic Arts Festival, you find yourself buying tickets and anticipating for the date. That was still the mood I was in when I entered the Forum, in Kentish Town and saw a very nice mixture of people spread out in a great for gigs venue.
Mystical and misty atmosphere but a milder than expected and hoped for intro. Anders seemed disconnected from the crowd maybe anxious about his first of the planned gigs just after the release of his last album titled Lost. Too many guitars on the stage and a half times visible base alongside with a great drummer and Anders in the middle with his deck and keyboards, a very unexpected rock band format probably influenced by their recent tour supporting Depeche Mode. Copenhagen vocalist Marie Fisker seemed to occupy a large part of the act, but undoubtedly a sexy talented part. Everyone including Trentemøller seemed to have equal place and time in the show making Trentemøller a band rather than a lone act which is rather weird, if you consider that Trentemøller is in fact Anders’ last name. You are certain that it wasn’t a good night for Trentemøller, when you pick Even Though You’re With Another Girl as the most memorable moment of the night.
The background setting with light and shape alternations alongside with the dance routine by the girls of the band made it clear that they really wanted the show to go well. However, in terms of getting to the crowd , it was a home victory for “dry ice” smoke effect against a rather awkward performance from Trentemøller.
I had a constant feeling of anxiety, as I was trying to convince myself to enjoy it. It was as if you were on a plane that was speeding on the runway but never took off. It wasn’t until the last twenty minutes of the performance that I decided to stop expecting the night to be better than it actually is and stepped back to enjoy the rest of it. A night of an uncomfortable performance by an otherwise brilliant artist.
Tindersticks – Across Six Leap Years
Across twenty-one musically vibrant years, the band from Nottingham marks their anniversary with the release of their tenth studio album. Across Six Leap Years becomes part of the proud list of albums recorded in Abbey Road Studios by bands as famous as The Beatles or Pink Floyd. The sound of a band can change over twenty years and if these ten songs from the past were first recorded today, this is how they would sound.
The message that this isn’t an attempt to correct old songs is established by the first two tracks. Both Friday Night and and Marseilles Sunshine retain their originality while gaining fresh layers of new sound. Stuart Staples’ baritone voice keeps seductive and sentimental with a new sense of confidence, only a result Abbey Road studio can bring. He has one of those riveting voices that you would find yourself being hooked by its timbre even if he was just reading a shopping list out loud.
The new ending of Sleepy Song with the dithyrambic trumpets, violins and cymbals, is almost like an emotional outburst of the song itself after being trapped for many years in a pre-sleep state. Dying Slowly, originally written as a response to Cobain’s death, seems to lose its former negation of life and becomes, instead, an emotional narrative that tells a story. If You’re Looking For a Way Out brings a new swing and Say Goodbye To The City gains new life with the female vocals.
With two decades of experience, reworking old songs while keeping their essence solid can yield great outcomes. On this occasion, even if the only difference had been the Abbey Road recording, undoubtedly it was worth it. This album is for fans and for fans only.