Were Jammin’

The Mars Volta @ Brixton Academy, Brixton, London
14th March 2008

There really isn’t a band out there in the world who biggest attraction are the active attempts to alienate their music to all comers. Despite their best efforts to go their own way, do their own thing, make undecipherable music and explore creatively the stranger side of life, they have a huge fanbase. This in part is due to their former incarnation as alt rockers in the cult 90’s band At The Drive In. Still me and Mr Flowers were here to sample the weirdness and delve into progressive funked up latino fantasyland that is a Mars Volta Show.

Arriving early to avoid missing any decent warm-ups we were pretty shocked to find that the headline act had already taken to the stage, 30 minutes ago in fact, shocker! In fact the Mars Volta had done away with the entire gigging rulebook. In typical prog style they played for a non-stop marathon 3 Hours. The fact that there only seemed to be about 5 moments of silence the whole time shows just how long some these songs were. They switched between slow quieter low key moments, those which allowed chatting and beer runs, to huge spiking crescendos of inundated wailing instruments pushed to their limits.

Usually here I’d write my favourite tracks, but considering all the tracks are in latin and they were very different here from any recorded material, I could hardly tell them apart. I think I managed to picked out the main riff to Wax Simulacra in there somewhere, which is a pretty sure bet seeing as it’s their latest single.

The odd and randomness of the show was unrivaled in my experience and the adoring crowd lapped it up! This was a gargantuan effort from one of the leaders in boundary breaking weirded out progressive jams. 3 hours have never flown by quite so fast and despite the sheer length and bizarre nature of the show, I really enjoyed it…strangely!

Ageing Superhero?

Newton Faulkner @ The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
6th March 2008

So Chalk Farm was the place for the return leg of the gigging xmas presents between me and my friend Nic. A pop gig with serious radio appeal, which also showcases great talent was the show this evening. So after grabbing dinner on the Camden Lock, we rambled down to the Roundhouse, which is exactly that…round!

This being my first visit to the Roundhouse, I feel obliged to sing its praises as a live music venue. This place really has it all, good size for medium to large fan based artists, superb design, clearly had a sparkling refit, yet still retains the rustic charm of the age old cavernous building which once housed a huge turntable to rotate trains. The venue soars high into the night sky and the sound is perfectly resonated throughout the building. The elated atmosphere bounces so perfectly off these walls in abundance!

Newton Faulkner
Newton Faulkner

Newton Faulkner is a rare talent in the current crop pop and radio friendly singer songwriters. For a start he doesn’t take himself to seriously. His rather unique appearance with his ginger dreadlocks plus his amazing talent for crafting superb pop songs with some really inventive stripped down guitar melodies. The full range of acoustic double tapping, body drumming, harmonic pinching, finger picking, with great vocals and amusing comical banter were on show with minimal need for a backing band.

Newton Faulkner

The charm of the oddity on stage was highly evident and with his very funny between track ramblings, you just really like the guy. Faulkner floated through the majority of his debut album with expert ease with the top tracks being Ageing Superhero, I Need Something and Gone In The Morning fresh with an funny extended improvised ba-ba, de-de-lums & do-wop vocal solo.

Newton Faulkner

Where the crowd was lacking here this evening was the knowledge of album tracks as most here were clearly radio one junkies who have heard the singles. Yet Newton engaged all with a stupendous (if not strange) compelling cover version of Bohemian Rhapsody, classic…hmmm! But sadly the time had come to leave so droves of gatherers piled onto the streets with smiles on their faces, a song in their hearts and a spring in their steps, thus is the Faulkner Effect!

Stand Up For Rock & Roll!

Airbourne, Skirtbox @ Borderline, Soho, London
18th February 2008

This has to be one, if not the of the most insane gigs I’ve ever been to. There were thrills, blood spilled, substance abuse and rock and roll spirit in abundance.

Arriving at the tiny 200 capacity venue I was shocked to see a substantial queue had formed outside. After pondering why we were in a queue, we investigated the reason for such an oddity. It was in fact for individuals who have turned up on a whim in the faint hope they may gain admission. This is pretty unheard of in my experience, good job we had tickets though! So me and classic rock amigo Matt Wall pootled inside avoiding the glares of the ticketless, only to be greeted by the overwhelming smell of leather and booze, we had the right place then!

Skirtbox kicked off the music this evening with a very tight set of unashamedly camped up 80’s hair metal tunes. Their lyrics and vocals leave a lot to be desired. I vaguely remember one track being about screwing your best mate’s sister, poetic stuff! Given credit Skirtbox have some nice instrumental fills and solo guitar work going on. But they have a long way to go if they are going to make it out of their niche, or even sustain a following without some catchy ass anthemic sounds.

Airbourne are in every way you look listen and feel like a true rock and party band who love AcDc. Looks, Shaggy blonde permed locks. Listen, Huge power chords fuel big riffs and stadium size anthems. Feels, like a fantastic rock party in a damp and dark club in the arse end of nowhere. Now it was immediately clear the lead singer wasn’t 100% within his mind after stumbling on stage with his stare showing iris’ the size of pinheads. His piercing menacing glare was rather freaky and damn scary all which added to the intensity of the performance.

Showing no regards for the audiences hearing, the triple full sized Marshall stacks pumped out enough ampage to make spinal tap shiver in amazement. The Ac Dc homage was complete with the great raw raucous vocals of Joel O’Keeffe and power chords big enough to run the national grid. Top tracks were without doubt Runnin’ Wild, Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women, Too Much Too Young Too Fast.

The gigs defining rock and roll riot moment was not the necking of a bottle Jack Daniels, or being pelted with beer with containers in tow. It was during a high octane performance of Girls In Black where Joel decided he was thirsty. So he took off from the stage and circled the venue through the crowd, all while still playing some fantastic lead guitar. He came to rest behind the bar where he proceeded to pour himself a pint while busting out another solo. Finally after leaping the bar he returned and received a huge roar at the effort put in to get a beer in this place!

Once the dust had settled, most peeps filtered out only to be greeted with 2 guys on the floor with the police in close proximity, apparently they didn’t get on much! Despite the carnage… Airbourne rocked London this evening and they played one hell of a show, I’m rather scared for them though. If this was a Monday night, god only knows what happens on a Friday!