Freeq takes a close look at happenings in the worlds of Music, Gigs, Art, Fashion & Nightlife, and we bring it to you in a lovely, easy to read format.
Bloc Party – Earls Court, London
After roughly a decade of gigging, Bloc Party had finally reached a zenith by playing their biggest UK show to date at the spacious but, slightly soulless, Earls Court.
It was the band’s final night of their European tour, which seems to have reignited their passion for the Bloc Party manifesto, as during frontman Kele Okereke’s solo phase the band’s future had been cast into doubt.
From the outset, Bloc Party and the audience themselves were in no mood to mess around. Starting with ‘So He Begins to Lie’, the energy and physicality down the front was ferociously intense, belying their reputation as angular indie purveyors. This was very much a deep, down and dirty rock show. To be frank, the moshpit carnage was beginning to get out of hand as they charged through old favourites, ‘Hunting for Witches’ and ‘Positive Tension’. Even more doleful moments such as ‘Waiting for the 7.18’ were greeted as beastly rock numbers. At the end of the day, it was Friday and Earls Court was ready to go insane and no quarter was given.
Such is the depth of the band’s back catalogue these days that old classics like ‘Banquet’ just feel part of the set, not necessarily the standout track.
After a marginal drop-off in quality, a thumping, glorious version of ‘The Prayer’, and the disco-infused ‘One More Chance’ quickly help us return to the high standards that permeate the majority of the show.
Adopting the policy of a double encore, their first one is a little mixed. The dreary ‘Kreuzberg’, followed by the uninspiring ‘Ares’ provide a brief lull, but it is quickly forgotten as they drop in ‘This Modern Love’, a favourite of their original angular-indie incarnation. The first encore climaxes with, arguably, their greatest song – ‘Flux’. As ever, it provides a futuristic soundscape eliciting a communal uprising in an Earls Court crowd now in a state of nirvana.
As for the introduction to their final encore, Bloc Party play a new track, Ratchet, which immediately grabs you due to a funky groove, supplemented by Okereke’s pseudo-rapping. Next is ‘Truth’, which feels like a makeweight before they play a set-closer that everyone is anticipating.
Okereke offers the usual gig-closing platitudes and urges those who haven’t to mosh. He shouldn’t have bothered as soon as he the opening riff of old-school classic ‘Helicopter’ is heard, chaos engulfs Earls Court, sparking an intensity and devotion that will hopefully inspire Bloc Party to carry on a few more years. There ain’t no party like a Bloc Party!
For Coventry’s Godiva Festival in the summer, the weather proved to be its death knell cancelling the three-day extravaganza. As a consolation, Coventry City Council decided to organise a one-day concert in Union Square under the Godiva banner.
However, the ‘Great’ British weather once again proved to be an achilles heel, although the event still went ahead, climaxing in performances by two rock bands at different stages in their career trajectories.
All day the rain had been a consistent presence, meaning the expected 5,000 visitors never materialised, and even when Twisted Wheel the support act to the headliner came on, there were still plenty of pavements unoccupied. A number of people chose to watch from the designated indoor bar tent.
The weather and small crowd made it a difficult gig for Twisted Wheel, a band who were a late replacement for The Twang, who pulled out at the last minute.
Their derivative Oasis-influenced rock sounds like the arse-end of Britpop, making you think that Shed Seven were actually decent.
The dull, militant playing failed to inspire a sparse crowd, though the inclement weather didn’t aid their cause, but it was a set containing plenty of perspiration, not inspiration.
Numbers had increased a little for The Subways, the headline act, but the torrential rain hadn’t dissipated meaning the usual moshpit carnage that accompanies Subways gigs was absent.
The lack of crowd participation did nothing to quell the ever excitable Subways frontman Billy Lunn, who still plays with a youthful vigour and abandon that you can’t help but admire, even if sometimes it feels a little clunky.
As ever, the interplay between Lunn and bassist, Charlotte Cooper provides a significant part of the stage patter. Her responses seemed a little forced, and suggested potential tensions at Lunn’s behaviour.
In the end, the soaked and downtrodden audience embraced Lunn’s numerous requests to pogo and created a circle pit. A flurry of hits like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen’, ‘Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang’, and ‘Shake, Shake’ were bounced around to in a fashion.
The Subways have a knack of providing energetic live shows despite a limited back catalogue, but there was a feeling that Lunn’s bandmates were going through the motions, maybe yearning for a band with more substance.
Joy Formidable – Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
Support: Kill It Kid
Meteorologically speaking, March 1st is the commencement of spring. The Friday evening chill contradicts this theory.
Fortunately, the latest offering from EmmaScottPresents is enough to warm the body and the soul.
Kill It Kid are a peculiar, idiosyncratic bunch who combine elements of roots, rock and blues to create intriguing soundscapes that recall a cross between Nirvana’s more reflective moments and The White Stripes.
Siblings Chris Turpin and Stephanie Ward share vocal duties, producing some eccentric interplay to provide a compelling backdrop to the bluesy anthems.
There’s enough character and distinct musical flavour to interest the Joy Formidable fanbase to see them again.
A week earlier, The Joy Formidable were playing a support slot to Bloc Party to respectful applause, but tonight their display elicits far more reverence and energy from a crowd clearly in thrall to the enigmatic bundle of playful rock ‘n’ roll abandon that is frontwoman Ritzy Bryan.
For a three piece, they can make one hell of a cacophonous noise. Their futuristic indie-rock pounds the gloomy confines of the Wulfrun Hall, creating a communal bouncing at the front that feels friendlier than the brutal moshpits that you can encounter.
A turbo-charged barrage of ‘Cholla’, fan favourite, ‘Austere’ and ‘This Ladder is Ours’ set the tempo for the majority of the evening, with the occasional interlude for something lighter and plaintive. I’d like to see this side employed more in future, as despite the visceral thrills of the harder stuff, you get a better idea of Bryan’s vocal capability on the tender tracks.
As the opening to their encore, they dedicate ‘Bats’ to a long-serving fan who is celebrating his 71st birthday. It is touching to know that a septuagenarian is still rocking out, particularly when you hear twentysomethings expressing their gig fatigue.
The Joy Formidable play with boundless energy, Welsh spunk and a ferocious drive that makes you think they’re playing the gig as if it is their last.
By the end, the insane closing track ‘Whirring’ left everyone safe in the knowledge that most of us have got a few decades left in us to rock hard.
FEEDER – Wolverhampton Civic Hall
A few years back, Feeder were threatening to elevate themselves into the upper echelons of the rock mainstream.
Like many a guitar band, Feeder have found their commercial stock waning in recent years.
However, there’s still a sizeable turnout at the Civic, many who were introduced to Feeder through their ubiquitous ‘Buck Rogers’, others influenced by the Coldplay-lite sounds of ‘Comfort in Sound and ‘Pushing the Senses’.
Tonight’s setlist encompasses enough of the Feeder back catalogue to satisfy a slightly passive, but appreciative audience. As the band has aged, inevitably the crowd follows suit, giving us less moshing down the front than in the bands earlier years. A point reinforced by the largely muted response to grunge-pop classic ‘Insomnia’.
If anything, it’s the sing-alongs that elicit the largest reaction, starting with the rousing reflection of ‘Feeling the Moment’, the first sign that the gig had shifted into something like top gear. There were equally powerful renditions of ‘Just the Way I’m Feeling’ and ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’ and ‘High’ that proved to be the set’s benchmark moments.
That said, when Feeder treated us to more riff-heavy offerings such as the aforementioned ‘Buck Rogers’ and cuts from the latest album, ‘Generation Freakshow’ the hardcore fans still were whipped into an energetic frenzy as if it was 2001 again.
It is fan favourite ‘Just a Day’ that instigates the most carnage, pulling many a reluctant mosher into the chaos, as everyone went insane.
Feeder have made a conscious decision to return to their rock roots on the last two albums, which was a pleasing U-turn from the Keane-esque balladry that was becoming omnipresent within their arsenal.
The pretensions of integrating themselves into the rock firmament are probably done with, but the strong connection between band and audience on evidence here, should give Feeder fresh impetus as they plough their feel good-tinged existentialism through their forties. I think they’re gonna make it.
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