Live Review Archive | 2012

Live Review Archive | 2012

Live Reviews | 2012

Trembling Bells and Maia, The Band Room, Low Mill, 15th December 2012

So first up the winner is always this venue, this smashing little tin hut, tucked away in a hamlet on the North Yorkshire moors was built for a brass band in the 1920’s, lit with fairy lights, previous gigs; Jessie Sykes, Handsome Family, Eilen Jewel etc. have always been intimate quality affairs. This was not to be a night like this however. At first it had the feel of a 6th form talent show, with…
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Bella Hardy, Yorkshire Waterway Museum, 5th December 2012

In case you missed "it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas", and nothing says 'Winterval' like bobbing about on a massive barge come art gallery in Goole. Lit only by a selection of festive lights folk empress Bella Hardy, and her fantastic concertina accompanist Chris Sherburn, and guitar player Anna Massey, play acoustic, without a PA a set of just Christmas/seasonal songs. It’s difficult to know which sparkles more, Bella or her fabulous dress…
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Great Lake Swimmers (support Dusted), Bush Hall, London, 26th November 2012

All reviews of gigs at Bush Hall are required to pass comment on what a nice venue it is. The main reason for this is that it is a really nice venue - well staffed, attractive performance space, two bars - and also, and perhaps as a consequence of the foregoing, it seems to attract an audience that are interested in hearing the band (or, if more interested in talking at least have the decency…
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Oh Susanna & Jasmine Kennedy, The Live Room, Saltaire, 23 Nov 12

Shuffling on to the stage, it didn’t look promising, overtly twee, a little awkward, bashful even but, Jasmine Kennedy, resplendent with guitar strap covered in Girl Guide badges, lulled me at least into a false sense of security. She ambled through a great set self-penned tunes with tricksy lyrics. She was as adept as any Brit schooler but Kate Nash or Adele a-like she is not, more Chapman or Armatrading. True the songs have that…
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Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge - View Two Gallery, Liverpool - Friday 23rd November 2012

Liverpool Acoustic Live has been around for some time now as a spin off from the Liverpool Acoustic website, launched in 2008 as a central resource for the thriving acoustic music scene in and around Liverpool, and to say it's been a success to date is something of an understatement, having only last week won the accolade for the Live Music Event of the Year (at the newly launched Liverpool Music Awards). Each evening usually…
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Bellowhead, The Alban Arena, St. Albans, 8th November 2012

A packed out Alban Arena is greeted by a stage dressed as the good ship Bellowhead - the back drop looks like a sail emblazoned with the band's name, there are rigging ropes running up to the rafters, and the drum riser could be the poop deck. Before the crew clamber aboard from their various drunken and debauched billets the decks are swabbed by Mama Rosin - a French three piece who cover Cajun and…
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Peter Bruntnell & Blue Rose Code Live@ York House Concerts 10th November

Opener Ross, trades under the moniker of the Blue Rose Code, why was never made clear.He offered up a dose of workman like finger picked guitar with his soft Edinburgh tones.Imagine a chilly walk on a stone shore, briskly and windy, you’ll get the flavour, add in holding hands with your girl and you’ll have it nailed. Other than briefly being disturbed by the cat nipping through the cat flap on stage left, it was…
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Israel Nash Gripka, Stereo, Glasgow, Nov 9, 2012

Moving from the concrete jungle life of New York to a 20-acre Texan ranch, the dad-to-be for the first time was in superb voice in this pared back show at a venue he graced with his band a year ago.It was a powerful performance with the new songs aired for the first time sounding as rounded and emotional as those from most recent offering 'Barn Doors And Concrete Floor,' Euro Americana’s album of the year…
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The Dreaming Spires, Pivo Pivo, Glasgow, November 2, 2012

If you were to put on music deck rotation songs by Teenage Fanclub, The Byrds, The Jayhawks, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Tom Petty and the mighty Neil Young, I reckon this would please a lot of people.And when you get these sounds live and condensed into a vibrant, hour-long set, as happened here, it was a tempting mix guaranteed to treat. But three-piece band, The Dreaming Spires manage to bring their own quality, imagination and inventiveness,…
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Michael Nesmith, Oran Mor, Glasgow, October 26, 2012

Modest and gentlemanly, interesting and thoughtful, playful and moving, Michael Nesmith’s appearance in Glasgow for the first time was a historic moment, one of only a handful of gigs he has lined up in the UK. A music legend with a career spanning almost 50 years, most definitely in the same category as Gram Parsons in helping form country rock music as we know it today, the quiet Californian enthralled fans who have followed him…
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John Grant, The Arches, Glasgow, October 25, 2012

It is easy to suggest that this utterly absorbing performance included new songs that will feature on what surely stands every chance of being one of the top CD releases of 2013. Those who rated John Grant’s compelling confessional CD 'Queen of Denmark' so highly – it was Mojo’s album of the year in 2010 – have been waiting patiently for the follow up, so hearts were lifted when he said it would be out…
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Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three, Oran Mor, Glasgow, 24th October 2012

Having seen Pokey and his gang several times before a good time tonight was all but guaranteed. However months of touring with Jack White in the states and playing in amphitheatres such as Red Rocks in Colorado to around 9,000 folk has acted somewhat like a physical fitness programme to the extent that having honed their act for larger crowds in a tight space such as Oran Mor they are positively explosive. All the familiar…
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Steve Forbert, Junction 2, Cambridge 15th October 2012

Steve knew he was up against it - a Monday night crowd (I think that's shorthand for "not quite sold out, huh?"), in Autumn, and it was raining. Add in that there had been some reluctance to sit too far forward so the front row only had two people in it - and they both had colds. Doubtless you'll already have picked up that the J2 is an all seated venue and it has a…
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My Darling Clementine, The Live Room ,Caroline Social Club, Saltaire, 19 Oct 12

Gig openers PlumHall are pleasant enough, doing what any support should: warming us up. Michelle Plum, formally of Chumbawamba, has a good voice (like early Emmylou with the crisp fragility of Sandy Denny) and a set of her songs would be a treat. Partner in rhyme is Nick B Hall who does a great “bloke from The Levellers” sound alike and he knows his way round a guitar; think 2 o’clock in the afternoon at…
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Peter Case, Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham, 7th October 2012

I remember at the time of Richard Thompson’s ‘Mirror Blue’ album that Q magazine declared “When will the world wise up to this remarkable man?” Having seen Peter Case in Birmingham, I can’t help feeling that the same quote should now be applied to Buffalo’s greatest musical export. Case did actually name drop the Thompo Kid when introducing ‘Every 24 Hours’, a song that Thompson’s contributes to on Case’s superb 2007 album ‘ Let Us…
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Sam Baker, Glasgow Americana Festival, CCA, Glasgow, October 6, 2012

The chap at the bar asked for a pint of Sam Baker and, with a smile, corrected himself to order a pint of Sam Adams. While too much alcohol does no-one any good, I can’t quite get enough of Mr Baker – and, on the evidence of the rapturous applause he enjoyed throughout this sell-out show, I am definitely not alone in this addiction. He was at his story-telling, engrossing and engaging best.Two years have…
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The Nebraska Sessions - A Tribute,The Slaughtered Lamb, London, 30th September 2012

"in 1982 a 32 year old man from New Jersey settled down in his spare room beside a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder. 30 years later a new generation of artists inspired by the album the world would come to know as 'Nebraska' climb the stairs of a Dickensian pub in the city of London to do the same." That pub was the Betsy Trotwood, a couple of weeks later they descended the stairs of another…
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AJ Roach, Glasgow Americana Festival, Glasgow Art Club, October 4, 2012

In the gorgeous setting of the Glasgow Art Club, surrounded by dramatic paintings, dark, wood paneled walls and subdued lighting, the million mile-plus, traveling troubadour proved, once again, to be the consummate artist. Who knows how many songs he has performed on his journeys, but here again they were coloured by his creative, intriguing lyrics that demand examination while defying intensive explanation. AJ Roach’s approach is never less than delicate, yet commanding. His palette of…
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Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick, The Junction 2, Cambridge, 1st October 2012

The old campaigners are back on the road again for their traditional autumn tour. The simplest of stage setups greets the audience - two wooden chairs, two microphones, a single monitor and off to one side of the stage the merchandise stall all ready for the interval sales. There's no support act and so with a lack of fanfare what must surely be folk music's longest running duo wander on stage for the first of…
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Howlin' Rain (support by Sleepy Suns), 12th September 2012, The Garage, London

Sleepy Suns might sound like they'd be a nice pastoral psych-folk band - well they are anything but. Psychedelic noise merchants channeling '60's fuzzed up guitar sounds though a filter of - could that be - Echo and the Bunnymen? If it wasn't for knowing that they are a West coast band you could easily believe that they were sons of the Liverpool music scene. Kicking off their hour long set with a twenty minute…
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Dan Stuart and Sacri Cuori, King Tut’s, Glasgow, September 5, 2012

I bet the star of the show has rarely, if ever, been upbraided by the support act for turning up to work too early. But, hilariously, this happened at this utterly brilliant gig. Italian instrumental band with big hints to Ennio Morricone soundtracks, Sacri Cuori were about to play their final tune when Dan Stuart wandered into the bar carrying a glass of wine and two white, carrier bags. The band, smiling, said hold on…
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Hurray for the Riff Raff, Pivo Pivo, Glasgow, August 30, 2012

The start was rocking, the end really touching and the bits in between flew by gloriously. Hurray for the Riff Raff’s hour-plus set was a joyful and appealing jaunt through roots and country and swamp and blues and folk – plus yodeling – all smothered in care, passion and verve. And how the full house for this first night of the band’s UK tour loved it. We all left wishing we could travel onwards with…
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Dr John & The Lower 911, Under The Bridge, London, 18th July 2012

Just one look, that's all it took. Happiness arrived on cue when the taped to the stage set list revealed that not only was it a different night; it was a different set list. Same selections from new album 'Locked Down' - nothing from 'Gris-Gris', but plenty of 'Dr John's Gumbo' as well as some jazz and American songbook standards. Looks like an interesting, if a little laid-back, list - still it's probably unreasonable to…
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Dr John & The Lower 911, Under The Bridge, London, 19th July 2012

Lotta firsts tonight, lotta firsts. Ain't never been to Under The Bridge, which is a relatively new music venue that is located under the Chelsea soccer ground at Stamford Bridge. It's a basement venue and is something of a cross between The Jazz Cafe and The 100 Club. Only clean - real clean - and not malodourous in the least. Let’s see how long that can last. Small too - capacity is 550 and this…
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Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, The Forum, London, 12th July 2012

And as the minute hands continues its inexorable march past 9 o'clock it became ever more apparent that there is no epic length Led Zeppelin style set coming our way any time soon. Just any set would be welcome though, it's hot and humid in The Forum - a combination of the place being rammed to the rafters and the same sell-out crowd being in various stages of wet following the endless summer rain that…
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The Whybirds, Rhythms of the World Festival, Hitchin, 15th July 2012

On the second day of a festival that had been turned into a clinging mud-trudge-fest on its first day there was a definite need for some sunshine and something a bit up-tempo to lift the spirits. Sunday delivered on both - as the ground dried up the Nettlebed Stage was graced by an appearance from The Whybirds. This year is their fifth as a gigging band, and with a couple of albums under their belt…
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The Tallest Man On Earth, Hackney Empire, London, 03 July

Kristian Matsson is not, in fact, The actual Tallest Man On Earth. According to the Guinness World Records that is Sultan Kosen, a 29 year old Turkish farmer. It is possible that 1200+ people would pay £20.00 a ticket to see Kosen on a Tuesday night at the Hackney Empire, but not because he was playing a one off gig in support of his third album. Wikipedia says that: He [Matsson] performs under the stage…
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Alejandro Escovedo and The Sensitive Boys, Stereo, Glasgow, July 5, 2012

It was as hot and sticky and steamy as a Texan bar, noted Alejandro Escovedo, and he would know, as those venues are is regular habitat. He cranked up the on-stage heat and the volume on his return to a different subterranean Glasgow venue for the Fallen Angels’ Club, showcasing another facet of the well-honed musical style and virtuosity he’s rolled out to great effect over the last three decades. Last time in the city…
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Phantom Limb, The Lexington, London, 21 Jun 12

There is a danger in expecting too much from a live performance. I had been waiting to see Phantom Limb play live for most of the year. I missed a gig by a day back in February (or maybe early March) through not checking their website properly and I was not able to make a recent showing at the Gladstone due to a clash. This meant that their first London headlining show was my first…
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Mike Doughty, The Borderline, London, 11 Jun 2012

Yes, the weather was foul; persistent rain all day. Yes, there was football on with England opening their account at Euro 2012. Yes there was a strong line up of Americana acts at the Borderline for the rest of the week. But, even so, I would have expected more than fifty or so people to turn up. Then there was the talking; the proper loud, “my conversation is so much more important than anything else”,…
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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Royal Albert Hall, London, 20th June 2012

What a complete joy to be returning to the Royal Albert Hall for the second of Tom Petty & The Heartbrekers' sold out nights at this legendary venue. There are only two real mysteries - what will Jonathan Wilson do - the same set as before? And which of the couple of alternate songs from this tour's set lists will Petty and the band be doing tonight. Simply because I love it, I'm hoping for…
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Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, The Barfly - Camden, London, 29 May 2012

Slim Cessna, the ‘Gothic Country’ band from Denver Colorado formed 20 years ago. They are, along with 16 Horsepower, a mainstay of the distinctive Denver sound that combines southern gospel with country and blues into something that continually teeters on the edge of madness. They have an intensity that few can come anywhere near to matching. In that twenty years they had never toured the UK and this was a one off gig en-route to…
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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Royal Albert Hall, London, 18th June 2012

So many people are fussing about 2012 - the year of this, the anniversary of that but really if a fuss is to be made of anything it is this - the first European tour by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers in fifteen years. This gig represents the realisation of my personal goal of seeing them play live - with my last realistic opportunity having been 1987 when they toured with Dylan. That time was…
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Big Star - Third, The Barbican, London, 28th May 2012

As we all know, there is precious little of the original line up of Big Star left, which clearly makes this production of Big Star's 'Third' (aka Sister Lovers) a somewhat odd proposition. Yet here it is, and I guess it's a celebration of all that this band could have been or might have achieved - their troubles of their own and their record company's making are too well known to warrant repeating. In truth,…
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Quiet Loner, Greedy Magicians Live Recording, Sacred Trinity Church, Salford, 10th May 12

As any churchgoer (lapsed or other) will agree, pews are uncomfortable for a reason. To bear witness is to be restless, to be aware. The live recording of Greedy Magicians at Sacred Trinity, Salford May 10th, was perfect for that very reason. These latest offerings from Matt Hill (Quiet Loner) are very urgent. Distinctly political, they cover a wide range of topics – the resurgence of British fascism (The Ghost of Oswald Mosely), the experiences…
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The Handsome Family, St Andrews in the Square, Glasgow, May 17, 2012

Never less than laconic and laced with a delicious undercurrent of desire to be menacing, albeit with gentle smiles included, The Handsome Family were at their glorious best before a full house in a refined, former church setting that Rennie reckoned was “not too shabby.” Sixteen songs, including a Christmas one – and why not as it was Baltic outside? – led us willingly once again into their weird yet wonderful world of darkness, and…
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Paul Brady, Junction 2, Cambridge, 9th may 2012

To my shame I can't recall his name - but there was a late Friday night into Saturday morning DJ on Capital radio back in the '80's who could be relied on to play, somewhere around 2AM Saturday morning, either a John Stewart track (something off the Blondes album) or Paul Brady & Andy Irvine's take on Arthur McBride. There was no internet, let alone internet music streaming, back then, so if you wanted to…
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The Sadies, Jazz Cafe, London. May 1st 2012

A busy, but not overly full (the balcony area was closed, and they hadn't bothered opening the back bar) Jazz Cafe prepared for the opening salvo from The Sadies on their four date UK tour. Warm up came from Billy Vincent, five ragamuffins who shambled on stage somewhat behind schedule and used this time pressure to their advantage powering through their set to get in their full allotted quota of songs from their forthcoming album.…
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Craig Finn, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London, 29 Mar 2012

For the first time I realised the the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen is a very good venue – well gig part of it is. It’s a rectangular space, not far off being square with the stage to the front, a bar to the back and a few bench seats down the sides. The stage is high so unless you’re stuck behind a giant with a hat you’ll see the show wherever you are in the…
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Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three. Stereo. Glasgow 21st March

Ah, the power of television. Pokey and his band’s previous appearances in Glasgow were intimate affairs (other than a Celtic Connections show) but tonight several hundred paying punters piled into the very hot cellar of Stereo to see the band who were the standout act on the new Year Hootenanny Jools Holland show. Standing by the merch table before and after the gig it was noticeable that the majority who were snapping up discs like…
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Kathleen Edwards, Islington Academy, London, 28 February 2012

I was not expecting for this to be such a rocky gig; I was not expecting the drums to be quite so loud and the bass to be quite so heavy and it took a bit a getting used to – about half of the opening track ‘Empty Threat’ for my ears to adjust and the first 30 seconds of ‘Chameleon/Comedian’ to realise that it was highly likely that the majority of the next 90…
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The Floating Palace, The Barbican, London, 8th February 2012

The Floating Palace is a loose collection of musical collaborators which was put together by musical collaborator extraordinaire, Robyn Hitchcock, first for The Celtic Connections festival and then given a few more outings presumably because it's such a good idea. The Floating Palace is also Howe Gelb (another arch-collaborator) who has been described previously on these very pages and by this very reviewer as "unable to do any wrong" and "just gets better and better…
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Laura Veirs, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London 30th January 2012

Someone should tell the South Bank Centre that 7:30 is too early to start things off - it's bad enough if you're in London, but even worse if you have to travel in any distance. Nonetheless it is at 7:30 that Alessi's Ark (which is just Alessi Laurent-Marke and her guitar) takes the stage for a short opening set of clipped syllables and songs that cut of as if they too have been clipped off…
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Jonathan Wilson, Celtic Connections, The Arches, Glasgow, February 2, 2012

From Laurel Canyon to the cavern vaults below one Scotland’s busiest railway stations was Jonathan Wilson’s journey for this show – and the music travelled well, especially when he strapped on the electric guitar. Bitterly cold outside, he and his cool band brought the warmth and laid back vibes of his hippy-style hit CD ‘Gentle Spirit’ to a city where flowers in your hair are not a common fashion sight. I didn’t spot anyone wearing…
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The Long Count (UK Premiere), The Barbican Theatre, London 2nd February 2012

Astonishing. Just astonishing. I suppose I should elaborate. The Long Count production is primarily the creation of The National's twin guitarists Aaron and Bryce Dessner - with input on lyrics from Matt Berninger, who also sang one of the parts in earlier productions. The Dessners had been thinking about writing a baseball inspired piece, but their collaborator, visual artist Matthew Ritchie, steered them along a somewhat different path when he regaled them with the Mayan…
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Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Celtic Connections, Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow, January 29, 2012

My heart sank at the end of this gig but only because it had been such a glorious two hours in the presence of the man of many monikers, currently happy with his present guise. He was brilliant and sheer greed made me wish for even more. With impish, wild-eyed charm, innuendo and no shortage of beguiling tracks he enthralled throughout, teasing and pleasing his audience with his enthralling stories of sex and lust, horses…
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CW Stoneking, New Country Rehab, Tiny Ruins. Celtic Connections, Oran Mor, Glasgow. 26th January.

A triple bill for this cellar gig in a venerable old converted church saw a sizeable crowd turn out on a cold night with at least four other fine Celtic Connection shows in competition. Kicking off the show was New Zealand based Tiny Ruins, otherwise known as Hollie Fullbrook. Armed only with her guitar she delivered an all too short set of songs from her debut album 'Some Were Meant For Sea' with a delightfully…
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