We Had Some Massive Nights, Every Song Was Right

The Hold Steady @ Borderline, Soho, London
18th February 2007

It’s a normal Sunday evening in London. Well so I thought. Not only was it Chinese new year hence the huge crowds lining the west end, but a very special band were gracing the London stage tonight.

After battling the crowds at Leicester sq, and attempting to find Mr Flowers in the predominantly Chinese crowd we settled down in spoons for a few cheap ones and a quick fire reunion. Arriving at the venue the lack of activity was a worry, the reason for this was to become apparent as soon as we entered. Borderline is the smallest of the three Mean fiddler venues within 200yrds of each other just off Charing Cross road. The venue can only hold 250 people and the setup was awesome, sunken stage front area, tiered standing behind, a raised bar area and an even higher stage.

The New York Fund
The New York Fund

After getting here at 8 we were actually early for the opening act, Shocker!!! Who in fact were the same guys i missed at the Ok Go gig, Redemption!! We found ourselves in prime position, that’s 5 feet from both stage and bar with perfect view we gazed on as The New York Fund Guitarist and singer kicked off the eve with a slow lighter worthy ballad. Now joined by the rest of the band they play folk edged indie rock with a definite pop appeal. Most tracks were very lively and sounded great in this small basement club, with good catchy chorus’s and a huge handfuls of melody.

The Hold Steady
The Hold Steady

Being such a small venue, the need for roadies was vanquished, hence why all except the lead singer was up on stage pre-set to organize their stage trying to decide exactly where they should keep the cool box full of beer. So The Hold Steady made their 10 foot trek onto stage from boozing stage left and kicked off the set with a energy bursting rendition of the lead track from their new LP Boys and Girls In America, Stuck Between Stations. The energy of singer Craig Finn is unparalleled in my experience. He bolts and bounces while slinging his guitar around the stage, shouts, flings his arms crowdwards, all while managing to expertly swig from his can of Carlsberg, here’s a front man who you immediately just like, not just for his energy and the fact he’s a thirytysomething drunk bum drifter, but the sheer passion he puts into each lyric spoken from his gravelly toned vocal chords.

The Hold Steady

The first half of the gig was ruled by sheer energy and lust for rock and roll and the substances which come as a result. The new album figured heavily with tracks sounding even better live with pounding bass and crunching guitars such as, Chips Ahoy, Massive Nights, “Hot Soft Light”, You can make her love you as well as older treasures. One such gem was Hornets! Hornets! In which the accapella opening lines were a teasing stop start affair as they were impossible to get out, seeing as the tiny crowd were singing them for him.

The Hold Steady

With the band being so close to pretty much everything in the room, the atmosphere was electric. Where shout outs from the crowd would spark jokes and reactions that showed a great human side to the band. This you just don’t get in a larger venue and it’s totally refreshing. as the set wore on they were wobbling more and more violently with more amusing comments, one which stood out was from the lead guitarist “Its at times like these when I wish I had the operation” while wiping the steam from his glasses” to which Craig responded “I didn’t think a vasectomy could do that?”. Was superb, not only can the rock but they can heckle pretty good too! Meanwhile to be outdone by Craig in the pished stakes the guitarist and keyboardist were playing hot potato with a bottle of Jamesons necking increasing amount with each pass.

The Hold Steady

After much booze, rock and raw energy the Hold Steady finally called an end to a great show as they disappeared after signing off with the awesome Little Hoodrat Friend. The crowd who were baying for more, were satisfied 2 minutes later with a acoustic performance of the superb ballad Citrus, The room fell into silence and were waiting on each breath, especially when they played an unreleased B-Side. Diving off stage once more, they couldn’t resist but come back for a second encore, much to the delight and surprise of the eager crowd.

Craig Finn
Craig Finn

This was to be the crowning glory of the night with a lone piano accompanying the stirring lyrics of Certain Songs. This line “certain songs, they just get scratched into you souls” is so true to life and this lyric is to stay with me forever, as is this literally show stopping finale.

As if the night couldn’t get any better it somehow found a way. Firstly got chatting to Franz, the Hold Steady’s keyboardist. Then After agreeing to purchase an Ep of The New York Fund’s guitarist, managed to get backstage and get the rest of the bands to sign it. Was cool to chat to them about the crazy Swedes after their gig the week before at KoKo, “They were just Mental” whooped the drummer. After appearing from backstage, was greeted by the guitarist followed by a long chat with the improbable hero of the night, Craig Finn himself. Most stories he told revolved around booze and a huge Dr. Dre birthday party in Minneapolis, not forgetting his apparent attempts to play glasto this year!

The Hold Steady
Thats me, and some other awesome random guitarist/lyricist

On a high we left for the tube and put to rest one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to, setting a new standard for all to follow. Whether it will be beaten, that’s a tough question, but then I won’t know unless I keep trying! Here’s to the Hold Steady and an absolutely Massive Night.

Reformations, Reformations, Reformations…

Seems as if 2007 is going to be a big year for music as 3 era defining bands are reforming and will play take their shows on tour once more ready to revel in the tours cash fund for the next decade!

1) The Police: Those ska and reggae rhythm makers are definitely back together and touring after a 30 year hiatus. Glasto?

2) Rage Against the Machine: As much as I am saddened at the disbanding of Audioslave, but things can only get better as these 90’s funk, rap-metallers are back!! Now we just need to pray these will come to the UK for festival season. Reading? oh I hope so!!

3) Van Halen: It’s looking more and more likely that Eddie Van Halen, 80’s guitar virtuoso will return alongside original singer David Lee Roth with his son on bass guitar (keeping it in the family). But the extremely volatile relationship between Eddie and David could get douse the flames on this re-union. Monsters Of Rock Festival? How can they resist!!

“Im off to go pray for RATM and the Van Halen to add UK legs to their tours!!”

Here we OK GO Again

OK GO @ KoKo, Camden Town, London
4th Feb 2007

Following my first paycheck from my new graduate position, I found myself with money but nowhere to spend it. So being so close to London, it would be rude not to go into town and see some bands, wouldn’t it? the first of such jaunts into town starts with a trip to Camden town to see OK GO of backyard and treadmill fame. Attendees this time out were Jenks and The Docktor and we all met in a nice chilled out London pub next door, not before crashing a non-existent private party at the Purple Turtle. We sat chatted and guzzled cheap beers while the opening act “New York Fund” were playing in the venue, not great loss there then!

Now I haven’t been to KoKo before, and its a cracking venue for live music. The stage was high, standing was more than adequately sized but the sheer height of the venue its its selling point. nearly 4 tiers of people lines the red and gold themed palace on balconies rising to the roof, very impressive.

Venue aside the first act we saw were Quit Your Day Job, a hard rocking electronic duo form Sweden. These guys made short sharp punchy punk tracks with its tongue firmly in cheek. tracks with thrashy guitar followed by repeated chorus of “Look A Dollar!” sung in a variety of comical voices. They are not going to make it onto the cover of NME but it certainly gave us a good giggle, and excellent light entertainment, especially at the leg kicking action of the slightly overweight semi-naked keyboardist (not a nice sight believe me).

OK GO up against the rails!

On strut Ok Go after having a cool chat to 2 Americans from D.C who went to see one of Arcade Fires ultra exclusive, sell your organs to get tickets, tiny church shows, gits! This started as any other gig, but turned into one of the most eclectic and different shows I’ve been witness to. Even though the guys in front of us were total twats and were intent on shoving anyone in the local area including a tiny Bulgarian girl who copped one in the face, Tits!! Hence why me and jenks played security guards for while restraining the tossers! After playing a few of their hits and album tracks from the new LP “Oh No”, they disappeared from the stage, much to the disappointment of all. 2 Minutes later a spotlight fell onto the first floor balcony where singer, bassist and guitarist had gathered with acoustic guitars and a xylophone. They played really different spins on couple of tracks including the superb “Million Ways”. Returning to the stage they rattled through an strange ELO cover and other classics such as “Your So Damn Hot”, “Get Over It” before finally sending us off with a stonking high octane rendition of “Here it Goes Again” leaving all feeling slightly disappointed that they didn’t bring their treadmills with them.

OK GO Dancing!

A quick fire encore followed in usual fashion, then not to disappoint the mass of ok go’ers the lead singer addresses the crowd. “We couldn’t bring the treadmills… But we did bring the backyard!” followed by the opening bars to Million ways for the second time this time accompanied by some cracking comical dance moves. That little bald dude can’t half strut the funky chicken like a diva! Only flaw of the venue was to be found at the conclusion, that the only way in a small tunnel no more that 3 people wide, was also the only exit. and with gig goes merging from all multiple floors from all directions this gets a bit tricky. Anywho this was a great gig from a band destined for greatness! Just as long as they keep producing more, now trademark, dance routines.

Monthly Mixtapes: January 2007

My Mixtape
So here goes with a attempted monthly feature (Look even a little graphic, cue game show audience ooooohs and ahhhhs) about what im listening to right now, you never know maybe you’ll discover something you like. Of course not all of these opinions are relevant to the month of January. Hell were not even in January any more, so no dumbass comments please… pretty please!!

Mixtape#1 – Jan 07

1, Cooper Temple Clause – Homo Sapiens … huge chugging fuzz riff
2, The Sunshine Underground – Commercial Breakdown … Brandon Flowers singalikey with catchy melodies
3, Shiny Toy Guns – Le Disko… funky electro beats
4, Ok Go – Don’t Ask Me… Played an awesome gig in Camden Town!
5, 747s – Night and Day … Album opener from this new band
6, DragonForce – Through The Fires And The Flames … Utterly Uplifting Power/Fantasy/Speed Metal, you need to experience this track in its full glory!!
7, The Noisettes – Bridge To Canada … I wish there was, but good track nonetheless
8, The Sword – Iron Swan … QOTSA reminicant classic rock
9, Klaxons – Gravitys Rainbow … Great rockin’ electro/sample tune
10, Cobra Starship – It’s Warmer In The Basement … Panic at the Disco style pop punk
11, Switchfoot – Dirty Second Hands … Mellow classic from american band back on form with new album
12, The Datsuns – Maximum Heartbreak .. Datsuns produce another classic garage rock anthem!
13, Enter Shikari – Sorry Your Not A Winner … Rock, Techno, Hardcore, Pop, Mega Riffage, i mean what more d’ya need?
14, Blood Brothers – Laser, Life … Off the wall vocals on this uber catchy track
15, Monty Are I – Between The Sheets … My guilty pleasure pop punk anthem of the month!