Archive for the ‘ MUSIC ’ Category

THE FILTHY TONGUES: LIQUID ROOMS, EDINBURGH

The Filthy Tongues: Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh December 2nd 2017

A swirling cape alternating blue and red light bathes the stage while the audience in encircled by a heavy fog of dry ice- the Edinburgh outdoors is one of the few cities which appears just as beautiful in a swirling mist although I am not sure that this atmospheric translates itself so readily to the already darkened Liquid Rooms- as The Filthy Tongues languidly take their places in preparation for a show which takes its audience on a deep and mystical journey.
Paving the way for a very lyrical set the band launched into a rousing instrumental before drawing heavily on last year’s dynamic Jacob’s Ladder opus.
First out the traps is Children of the Filthy rapidly followed by Crew Cut, Long Time Dead and the aforementioned album’s title track before they are joined onstage by the glamorous Stacey Chavis aka Isa Tongue for a brief interlude wherein the band change dynamic and take on a more Velvet Underground vibe as they run through Jim’s Killer and Normal Boy. Just as quickly they shift tack again and are straight into Holy Brothers.
Being able to diversify as seemingly as effortlessly as this simply shows the musical chops this band has at their disposal without ever losing their identity as a band.
Next up is Green Turns Red before finishing the set proper with the much loved Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie number ‘The Rattler.
The encore numbers were the brooding Bowhead Saint before the show concluded with the perennial crowd favourite Goodwill City.
Definitely a powerful gig the Filthy Tongues are still going from strength to strength and although their sound is very much informed by Nick Cave they are no mere copyists or imitators; there is enough originality and musical strength for them to carve out a niche territory of their own.
Dark, brooding, mystical and uplifting the Filthy Tongues are definitely one of the hottest bands in Scotland at the moment!

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BLOODLIGHT AND BAMI

Bloodlight and Bami

Grace Jones: icon, diva, untouchable goddess, fearsome adversary and real life, live genuine superstar. A bullet-proof façade or so you might think until you see this Sophie Fiennes documentary on the Grace Jones behind the armour; how much behind the armour is still unclear at the film’s conclusion but this is probably just how the irrepressible Ms. Jones wants it.
Essentially it is a film of two halves, one half the diva and public persona whilst the other focuses on her family life back in her original home of Jamaica.
Hence we witness the typical superstar strops as she bawls someone out over the telephone for not meeting her specific demands, ending with her throwing the phone across the luxurious hotel suite; the next minute however we are ensconced in a shanty town in a sunny and breezy Jamaica where she effortlessly slips into the local patois with childhood acquaintances, smoking a spliff emerging altogether as a much softer character, although the charisma remains firmly intact.
Likewise the glamour alternates between body-con Azzedine Aliah mixed with the structured futurism of Issey Miyake in her role as superstar. This contrasts with the more relaxed diaphanous loose dresses, baggy fatigues topped by the Philip Treacy sunhats and caps of her Jamaican self. Both are constructions however, both she wears impeccably and both are very much Grace Jones.
A new side for many viewing this film however is the reveal that her grandfather –Mas.P- was an extremely religious preacher and violent disciplinarian and that Grace and her siblings endured many beatings and punishments as children. Apparently it is the fearful presence that he used to command to instil terror in them that she distils in the icy, detached and cool demeanour of her stalking, skulking, marauding and intimidating stage presence.
The live shots which inter-cut with backstage shots and the Jamaican home life seem to originate from her 2009 Hurricane tour and one backstage conversation returns to her infamous altercation with Russell Harty, which propelled her to household name status, which she initially dismisses with a flippant ‘He’s dead but I didn’t kill him’ before offering her explanation of what actually happened on that 1980 show.
Of course it wouldn’t be a film about Grace Jones if we didn’t actually witness some true diva style tantrums; the aforementioned phone throwing sequence is typical but another sees her refuse to perform on a stage set miming to La Vie En Rose surrounded by female dancers as it makes her look like a Madame in a brothel. Another sees her try to restrain this side in Jamaica when long-time collaborator Robbie Shakespeare- one half of the legendary rhythm section Sly ‘n’ Robbie- fails to turn up for a recording session and she tries to reason then intimidate him into appearing much to the consternation of the engineer who keeps worriedly insisting ‘don’t piss him off’.
Ultimately this portrait attempts to unravel the mysteries behind the enigma and reveal another side to a very public demeanour and it does so successfully. To an extent. One can’t help feeling that despite the other side of Grace that emerges from the film is in deep contrast to the more recognised one it is still very much what she wants us to see and how she should be seen. It is still a fascinating ideology however and having her in control of how she is observed is just quintessential Grace Jones and frankly we really wouldn’t want it any other way!

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS- GLASGOW HYDRO

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Glasgow, SSE Hydro

This gig was already shrouded in controversy due to Cave agreeing to play in Tel Aviv. He is not alone in this however as Radiohead, The Pretenders and of course the King of Controversy, Morrissey have all played there recently and although it is expected that some of those listed can be a little-shall we say- misguided in their principles and beliefs at times Nick Cave always seemed, to me at least, to be navigated by a moral compass which lent itself to the right thing.
I did deliberate over whether to go or not but being a huge fan of Cave I eventually succumbed.
Quite a lot has changed in the two and a half years since I last saw Cave what with personal tragedy striking him in the most horrendous way and the trajectory of his profile with the general public increasing not only because of said tragedy, which featured heavily in the mainstream press, but also the inclusion of his music in the hit show Peaky Blinders which introduced him to a whole new audience.
This transference to the mainstream was abundantly clear from the size of the venue he appeared in last night and the gulf between this cavernous arena and the sweaty club I first saw him in is immeasurable.
Opening with a trio of songs from last year’s Skeleton Tree opus – The Anthrocene, Jesus Alone and Magneto- proved from the outset that Cave and his amazing band are more than adept at taking intimate songs of darkness and mournful fragility to such a vast audience and space. The sound was amazing- it lost a little of its customary warmth but that was more to where we were positioned than any lack of musical skill- and after this low key start creating a mood he was off into Higgs Boson’s Blues swiftly followed by a threatening From her to Eternity and a rumbling Tupelo.
This was followed by a riveting Jubilee Street, a mesmerising Ship Song and a beautiful Into My Arms.
The latter however was when I first noticed the change in Cave’s approach to his audience – a few uncharacteristically witty asides had preceded this- when he held his microphone out to the audience and let them sing the final chorus. It was a very moving and tender moment but it had the feel of Gothic Karaoke about it.
Things swiftly got back on track though and drawing from his impressive back catalogue we were entreated to such delights as an atmospheric Red Right Hand, the white knuckle ride of The Mercy Seat, a transcendent Distant Sky before finishing with Skeleton Tree.
Then we were into the encores!
This is where things started to go a bit wrong for me personally…
Starting with a powerful Weeping Song things were fine until Cave decided to attempt some sort of Iggy messianic, idolatory pose and disappeared into the crowd only to reappear again in the midst of them on a platform. Decidedly shaky on his legs he went into his preacher man role – I have seen him do this many times before successfully and convincingly- and within seconds he was surrounded by his adulating and adoring public who couldn’t believe their luck and did what is now expected of such situations and pulled out their phones and started snapping and filming away. Meanwhile the band played on as Cave played up to this and seemed to be enjoying it.
Things didn’t improve much for the next song Stagger Lee where making his way back to the stage he invited several of the locals with him so the rest of us were treated to the sight of rhythmically challenged wannabe’s crowding out the stage area and any tension of the song was lost amidst the mayhem. The closing number, Push the Sky Away, saw Cave back down amongst the audience again and once again an amazing song lost much of its impact due to the cheap theatrics.
I am not sure why Cave has chosen to pursue this Robbie Williams as Redcoat routine but whilst it is good to see him having fun- if anyone deserves fun after the tragedy he has suffered then it is him- but for me personally it cheapened the music by turning it into Karaoke and diminishing its mystique. I am sure for those who were close to their idol it was a great moment but the problem with vast arenas such as this is if you only play to one small section then inevitably you lose the interest and support of others.
Perhaps this is what we can expect from Cave from now on- next step Las Vegas maybe?- and certainly if anyone deserves recognition and success for his music then it is him. Up until the encore I admit his performance was flawless but despite this I felt a little bit of him was lost last night and I only hope he manages to find it again.

PJ HARVEY

PJ Harvey

Marching onto the stage against a minimalist but effective backdrop with stark lighting a lone, slight female figure amongst a ten piece male band, PJ Harvey stands holding a big saxophone and in possession of an even bigger voice intones the opening number Chain Of Keys.
From this atmospheric opener she proceeds to launch in and out of last year’s’ The Hope Six Demolition Project’ album interspersed with favourites from her impressive back catalogue.
An imperious Ministry of Self Defence follows the subtle opener and ramps the ante up and we are off on a journey which brings in a percussive and pulsing The Wheel, the melancholy of Ether and White Chalk, the crunching 50 ft Queenie, the murky blues of To Bring You My Love, the political Words That Maketh Murder and This Glorious Land then rounds it all off with a dreamy, persuasive River Anacostia before returning for an encore.
Fronting the ten piece band Harvey cuts a diminutive and ethereal figure shrouded in black feathers. The band themselves are faultless and provide an excellent soundscape for her to paint her songs onto. Make no mistake this is as much theatre as it is a rock concert.
Focussing solely on her performance Harvey only speaks once during this one hour forty minute show and only then to introduce the band, including the ever-present John Parrish and long time collaborator Mick Harvey.
The music speaks for itself however and last night proved that she is one of our great musical icons whose talent is overwhelming and can never be under exaggerated. Never afraid to take a left turn in her musical ambitions-2008’s White Chalk is proof of this- the fact she is able to bring such diverse musical styles and turn them into a cohesive whole shows a breadth of vision most artists can only ever dream about.
Definitely a Festival highlight, it was excellent in its execution and profoundly moving in its conclusions. As the last notes died away I felt privileged to have been part of something so special.

THE FILTHY TONGUES/BOOTS FOR DANCING

The Filthy Tongues / Boots For Dancing
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Edinburgh receives a bad rep in terms of live music these days which is due to lack of decent venues, council noise restrictions and apathy on behalf of the punters rather than a shortage of any decent music. This gig however brought the cognoscenti of the Edinburgh scene into the spotlight- as much as a spotlight as is possible in the impossibly dark Liquid Rooms- and anyone who has ever been anyone was in attendance for this gig pairing local legends Boots for Dancing and the newly vitalised Filthy Tongues together in an immaculate pairing.
Unfortunately I missed the opening band Birdhead which is unfortunate as I have been meaning to catch them for some time now.
However from the moment Boots for Dancing hit the stage I was completely captivated. A tight as a gnat’s twat rhythm section in Russell Burn and Colin Whitson perfectly complemented the sublime guitar work of Mike Barclay and ‘Dancing’ Dave Carson’s front-man duties. A too short but perfect set consisting of a mere five songs : Parachute, Hesitate, Ride On, Midnight Moses and Oh Bop/ Boots. It was almost over too soon but still it perfectly whetted appetites for The Filthy Tongues.
A stunning new album to promote- ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ which if you haven’t heard yet then I strongly urge you to do so- the band opened with a storming instrumental that was a statement of intent; this band is on fire and you are about to be scorched in their flames!
Drawing heavily on the new album including the title track, ‘Long Time Dead’ and an emotional ‘Holy Brothers’ their set also included a brooding and menacing version of The Stooges’ ‘Sick of You’ The Mackenzie’s ‘The Rattler’ a rousing and arousing ‘Amsterdam’ and perennial crowd favourite ‘Goodwill City’.
Musically the set was faultless with frontman Martin Metcalfe, bassist Finn Wilson and Derek Kelly providing the core nucleus alongside three other musicians drafted in providing seasoning and colour. Metcalfe in particular proved he is as strong a performer as he ever was and his voice is in finer form than ever.
Definitely a gig highlight of this year- and music has been excellent in this turbulent and tumultuous year of loss and frightening change- it saw an audience united in the fact they were seeing something really rather special.
Goodwill City indeed!

ONE MORE TIME WITH FEELING

One More Time With Feeling- Nick Cave
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‘You’re a cold mist rolling off the sea’ is just one poignant line in ‘Jesus Alone’, the new single by Nick Cave, a song in which heartache drips from every word and sorrow permeates every musical nuance to create an intense work of tragic beauty which leaves his contemporaries floundering at the starting line. It is also however how this Andrew Dominik film, capturing Cave as he records and prepares his new album ‘The Skeleton Tree’,makes us feel as a distinct chill permeates proceedings and envelopes you throughout following the death of his fifteen year old son Arthur last year in tragic circumstances.
It is impossible to separate this film and accompanying album from the context of Cave’s personal grief as it seems to be some part of his artistic grieving process and in complete contrast to his previous film, 20,000 Days On Earth, which was essentially a contrived vanity project as it captures him unguarded and raw; deep in tumult and trying to make sense of the chaos constantly in his head.
At one point he gives possibly the most concise description of loss I have ever heard when he compares it to being like an elastic band which stretches and allows you to move a forward a certain distance only to suddenly pull you right back to the centre of the heartache forcing you to try to move forward all over again.
I can’t imagine anyone seeing this film would not be aware of the tragedy that lies at its core and in the scenes his wife, former model Susie Bick, and Arthur’s twin brother Earl appear it becomes clear that is this is very much a family pulling together to try to deal with a situation no family should ever have to go through. A scene where Susie holds a painting the five year old Arthur had done of the very place he died ten years later is not only heartbreaking but also eerily prescient.
The music is, of course, stunning. I doubt if a record has ever been recorded with its audience knowing so much about the tragic circumstances which surround its genesis. Certainly Cave, looking like a ‘ragged monument’, has confronted his situation head on and this lies in line with the uncompromising stance of his whole career only this time it comes from emotions and situations he no longer has any handle on.
A totally compelling, riveting and emotionally raw film ‘One More Time with Feeling’ deals with emotions we will all have to deal with or have already dealt with at some point in our lives and captures that disconnected, dislocated feeling true sorrow generates. It is a film which will certainly stay with you for sometime after as anyone ever affected by loss can truly relate to its central theme.

ANOHNI -HOPELESSNESS, THE PLAYHOUSE EDINBURGH

Anohni-The Playhouse, Edinburgh
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Having already released one of the best albums of the year, Hopelessness, and what also must rate as one of the most cohesive and affecting protest albums of all time Anohni delivers a live show of unparalleled strength, beauty and inventiveness.
Drawing heavily on her New York performance art background and connections, the Hopelessness live outing brings new intrigues and intelligence to rock as theater and in the process creates a live show unlike any other.
Opening with a twenty minute film of Naomi Campbell- admittedly an incongruous choice to promote a performance which centres around the un-justness of the world; a spoilt supermodel who demands diamonds as payment and hits assistants with mobile phones- dancing in a cavernous bunker clad only in a bikini, heels and a hat which resembles the crown of the Statue of Liberty accompanied by a soundtrack which sounded like a crashing wave synthesised with white noise.
Obviously timed to test the audience’s patience, it was only during the last two minutes that a restless edginess set in and people started to talk amongst themselves, they were soon silenced as the instantly recognisable voice of Anohni broke through from out of the darkness and gave a stunning rendition of Hopelessness.
It wasn’t until the second number 4 Degrees that she made her way onto the stage and then all that could be seen was a series of black silhouettes clad in what resembled a burqa crossed with a beekeeper’s outfit.
Obviously never comfortable in the spotlight- her uneasiness was apparent when I saw her before in her previous incarnation of Antony- this is as much of Anohni as will be seen throughout this performance, instead a series of women on a huge screen at the back of the stage mouth the lyrics in perfect synchronicity. It is a highly effective way of getting the lyrics across and their faces bear the pain of the emotional content in the songs. Anohni herself makes only the briefest of appearances on the screen thus letting others present the lyrics for her.
When she does move across the stage it is minimal but highly effective; during the bleak attack of ‘Obama’ she strides back and forward like John Merrick, the Elephant Man, in the David Lynch film.
The music itself is faultlessly performed by Daniel Lopatin and Hudson Mohawke creating banks of sound from either side of the stage to great effect. None of her old repertoire or recordings are aired in this show and there is neither a cello or piano in sight or within earshot; this is a whole new phase of Anohni’s career and one she obviously wishes to stand on its own very impressive merits.
It is a totally innovative show crackling with inventiveness- it does adopt a theme and stick with it but it is an extremely effective theme-and modernity. Definitely one to beat as far as live music goes as it gives the whole genre a brand new context and perspective.