Live reviews published in Record Collector 2004 0nwards (small selection)

Kilkenny Roots

1 – 4 May 2015

Kilkenny, Ireland

View: Craic-ed up

The “friendliest little festival in the world” got off to a sensational start with a searing performance from John Murry. Looking and acting increasingly like a baddie in some deranged silent movie, Murry with his pick-up band killed Pavement’s Shady Lane before debuting new songs that indicate that his next album might even outdo the award-winning Graceless Age. Nominal Kilkenny bill-toppers were Calexico, whose panoramic and super-slick show at the plush Set Theatre ended up in mass partying. Male / female folk duos slugged it out in the form of London’s The Rails and Saskatoon’s Kacy And Clayton, both vying for the title of the new Fairports. In terms of commercial appeal, the highly-accessible Sons Of Bill seem set for mainstream success, but the band that Kilkenny clasped closest to its bosom was Montreal’s Barr Brothers. Their category-defying world / folk / blues virtuosity proved that there really is room for a harp in rock and roll.

 

South By South West Festival

Austin, Texas

17 – 22 March 2015

View: Dampish

After last year’s overcrowding and huge headliners, it felt like a conscious move back towards the original spirit of sxsw. With the help of some rain, it was quiet enough to return to the core task of seeking out hot new bands. American Aquarium, a Springsteenesque outfit from North Carolina, drew attention, as did Virginia’s classic rockers Sons Of Bill. On the country front, Andrew Combs looks set for stardom. At Hotel San Jose, a slightly damp showcase symbolised the genre-bending line-ups that make sxsw so special: Carl Barât, Gang Of Four and cool new band Houndmouth mixed it with The Zombies. Who’d have thought that the voice of the festival would be that of 70 year old Colin Blunstone? The best live band in the world right now is Chuck Prophet And The Mission Express, who were stalked by RC as they did nine shows in three days. Imminent breathroughs included Australia’s Courtney Barnett and Germany’s super-accessible Milky Chance, but only one outfit demonstrated the clear power to conquer the States. The ridiculously frantic energy levels and in-your-face enthusiasm of the Pogues-ish Skinny Lister mean that a Mumford-style triumph is inevitable. And you haven’t lived until you’ve been crowd-surfed over by someone playing a double bass.

 

Sleaford Mods

Joiners, Southampton

12.3.15

View: Behind a six foot seven man

If this is the future of rock, forget it. Not because they aren’t any good, but simply because of the audience’s demographic: forties and fifties. If Sleaford Mods revive the spirit of punk (which they sort of do), it’s not an introduction of punk to a new generation, it’s old punks reliving their youth. Sleaford Mods are a lot of entertaining fun. There’s Jason Williamson with a severe case of Tourettes, who jogs round in circles, gobs on the stage and wiggles his tongue, shouting like a cross between Eminem and John Cooper Clarke. Arguably even more entertaining is Andrew Fearn, whose role is to swig Corona, check his phone, do a mild grandad dance and, every ninety seconds, press a button on his laptop, like a grinning, emaciated John Shuttleworth. Williamson’s profane lyrics are actually very clever, with nifty wordplay, relevant themes and caring attitudes, rewarding repeated listening on the vinyl which, interestingly, at least a quarter of the audience walked away with. They ain’t here for the long haul (there aren’t enough real tunes for that), but go see them while they last. They sure are different, and in a bland musical environment, that counts for a lot.

 

Judith Owen

The Cellars, Southsea

10.3.15

View: Hunched on a stool

This was a strange show. Why has a flame-haired Welsh songstress recorded an album of her songs with some of the finest session musicians America has to offer? And what enables her to bring those very musicians to a cosy back street pub in Southsea? There’s legendary drummer Russ Kunkel and dreamy bassist Lee Sklar, although advertised guitarist Waddy Wachtel is inexplicably absent. It may possibly be to do with Judith’s husband, none other than Spinal Tap’s Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer). The band is promoting Judith’s new album Ebb And Flow and the show contains not only some of the rambling songs of Laurel Canyon philosophy it contains, but also some reworkings of songs by artists they originally worked with, such as Carole King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September” and James Taylor’s “Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox”. More bizarrely still, Judith likes to completely rework some popular classics, in this case Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” and David Dundas’ “Jeans On”. The musicians, despite barely breaking into a sweat, are sublime, but the question is, is the world ready for a cross between Tori Amos and Lyndsey De Paul? Maybe. “This is just the start of something much bigger”, says Judith, confidently. We shall see.

 

Eels

Salisbury City Hall

26.7.14

View: Air-conditioned

Desperately eager to please, it would be hard to imagine a less suitable Eels support act then toothsome duo Daughters of Davis. It was probably a typical bit of ghoulish E-style humour paving the way for a long series of what the dapper Everett called “soft rock bummers” – two minute laments such as “Parallels” from new album The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett, culminating in the saddest song ever written, “It’s A Motherfucker”. There was a valedictory feel to this last date of a 53-date tour (“nursing 52 hangovers”, as E put it). Bookended by two tear-jerking standards, “When You Wish Upon A Star” and “Can’t Help Falling In Love”, were energetic re-workings of Eels favourites “Fresh Feeling” And “I Like Birds”. Not since Chuck Berry has an artist been so adept at recycling his own songs while still retaining the affection of his audience. We’ll forgive him anything.

 

Jesse Malin

Dingwalls, London

26.11.14

View: Crouching

It’s been four years since Jesse Malin played in the UK and the audience was psyched up after a strong introductory set from Hollis Brown. The interim has been spent writing and recording a new album, which on first live hearing sounds to be stuffed with characteristically affecting songs. The diminutive New York road warrior exudes rock and roll charm and comes with the band that helped him record the new material, featuring guitarist Mike Montali and extremely dapper bassist Don DiLego. Apart from a confusing incident when too much instrument swopping went wrong and they lost their way, this made for a storming show with some moments of pure beauty, such as when the whole audience sat down, hippie-style, for the gorgeous “Bar Life”. Jesse has a great way with an anecdote and charmed the midweek audience with his fury at press accusations of being “alt-country”. New songs like “Addicted” and “Year I was Born” vied for attention with old favourites “Wendy” and “Hotel Columbia”. Let’s hope this marks the start of a Malin revival.

 

End Of The Road Festival

Dorset

29 August – 21 September 2014

View: Bucolic

Considering that half the bands here have been influenced by Pavement, it was a joy to hear Stephen Malkmus, master of the contorted guitar, in action. By contrast, Jenny Lewis was as poppy as this festival gets, as the chill wind blew around her. The first exclusive was the cumbersomely-named Gene Clark – No Other Band (featuring Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes and the often sadly overlooked Iain Matthews, plus a Vegas-style compère). There were some truly beautiful voices here and a blockbusting encore of Eight Miles High.

New names making breakthroughs included Montreal’s Barr Brothers, cementing the role of the harp in rock and roll and sounding uncannily like The Low Anthem in so doing. Andrew Combs also charmed, as did the fragile but bewitching Tiny Ruins. Forthcoming plaudits for young Benjamin Booker as the new indie Hendrix are inevitable – and deserved. One exciting and unexpected show was the blazing psychedelia of Sean Lennon’s new band The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger, almost giving the Flaming Lips a run for their money.

Talking of whom … It was a joyful enough festival anyway, but Wayne Coyne and gang ratcheted up the happiness meter to the level of ecstasy. With their skill at turning a potential shambles into a technological multi-media masterpiece, they amazed and thrilled everyone from kids to grandparents. The organisers of this brilliant festival will have to go some to top this next year.

 

Oliver Gray

Wickham Festival

Wickham

14 – 17 August 2014

View: “VIP”

From Bellowhead to James Blunt, Wickham Festival 2014 enhanced its reputation for relaxed musical randomness. Equally reviled and adored, Blunt boosted attendance figures to the extent that camping chairs were banned – controversial. The energetic skanking of Neville Staple (close your eyes and it’s the Specials) interrupted the general drowsiness of Friday afternoon. Hazel O’Connor is still playing Breaking Glass songs but now in a quite charming cabaret trio format. An almost unchanged Hugh Cornwell played some Stranglers numbers (close your eyes and it’s definitely not the Stranglers) and embarrassingly got an enthusiastic response when asking how many audience members read the Daily Mail. Among the enormous sub bill, two new acts stood out – Tankus The Henge and Connecticut’s Caravan Of Thieves – so good they were asked to play twice. They covered Bohemian Rhapsody and lived to tell the tale. It was left to a genial Steve Earle to be crowned as the highlight by delivering a crowd-pleasing set of hits. Wickham’s Boomers wear their bus passes with pride, and have a lot of fun on the way.

 

Truck Festival

Steventon, Oxford

17 -19 July 2014

View: Hobgolinned

In past years, Truck has endured travails such as floods and insolvency. Not this time, though. Happiness was the keynote of the weekend, as a sell-out crowd escaped the corporate nature of bigger festivals and concentrated on the music. The main stage paid host to a stream of slightly dated synth-based indie rock from the likes of White Lies and The Twilight Sad, all of them dwarfed by a dramatic set from local heroes Stornoway. Slow Club’s performance was frustrating, starting off enthusiastically and fizzling out in a bunch of mediocre songs, before Roots Manuva got things moving again. Of the main headliners, The Cribs were the most polished, while riotous duo Deap Vally caused the most controversy and a discreet veil needs to be drawn over the latest version of Gang Of Four. Continung the cheerful eclecticism, British soul-rockers Danny And The Champions Of The World brought the house down – twice, while musical joy could be found in adventurous sets from lesser-known (but very Truckish) acts like Chris T-T, Co-Pilgrim and the twinkling Steven James Adams (ex of the Broken Family Band). Pure fun in the sun.

 

The Delines

The Art Bar, Oxford

14 June 2014

View: Comfy

The vibe is that of a smoky nightclub as the Delines hit the fourth show of their debut UK tour. Intended originally as a side project from Richmond Fontaine, this band has taken off in an unexpected way, with sell-out notices every night. Amy Boone’s voice has been compared to Dusty Springfield – the ultimate accolade, and what is striking is that Willy Vlautin has written his most affecting set of songs ever. There’s a satisfyingly organic vibe to songs like Colfax Avenue and I Won’t Slip Up, country soul that grabs your heart, but the variety is clever too – from the almost trip-hop of Flight 31 to a brace of drinking songs, one of them a cover of What One Bottle Can Do by Al James of Dolorean. Bassist Freddy Trujillo chips in with his own Freddy Fender while pianist Cory Gray adds colour to some of the songs with virtuoso trumpet. You get the feeling this is a story that’s only just beginning.

 

Caravan

Salisbury City Hall

6.3.14

View: Unimpeded

The significant looks when a mistake is made, the relieved grins at the end of each song – such are the tell-tale signs of the first night of a tour. Mind you, it’s forgivable when your benchmark track is the 23-minute long “Nine Feet Underground”, written in 1971 by the absent David Sinclair. Indeed, only the statuesque Pye Hastings remains from the original line-up, although stalwarts like Geoff Richardson and Jan Schelhaas have been around for a long while. Caravan have a new album called Paradise Filter and it’s not very proggy. Many of the new songs which formed the bulk of the set, including I’ll Be There For You and the title track, are actually quite conventional rock / pop tunes, played mainly with great competence by the multi-instrumentalist Richardson. Among the small selection of oldies was a rather inappropriately funked-up version of Golf Girl. Back in the day, there was much swopping of members between Caravan and Camel. Now, in the battle of the unlikely prog comebacks, Camel are winning hands down.

 

Camel

The Barbican, London

28.10.13

View: Unimpeded

When a show starts with a standing ovation before a note has been played, something special is going on. “It’s good to be here”, said Andy Latimer. “At my age, it’s good to be anywhere”. Knowing his recent history of severe health problems, there was hardly a dry eye in the house; most of the audience had thought they’d never see this day. What’s more, as sole original member, Andy is on tip-top form, his guitar playing as rich as ever in tone and melody, and tough and gritty when required. The historic run-through of The Snow Goose (the first since the mid seventies) took up the first half, the musicianship precise, the atmosphere joyful. Nothing could replace the silken Hammond of Peter Bardens, but keyboardists Jason Hart and Guy LeBlanc do a grand job. This is one band for which “prog” never meant ”pretentious”. Part two saw an eclectic selection of Camel classics, some less successful than others. An acoustic intro to Never Let Go was scrappy and Fox Hill was ill-chosen, but For Today was reminiscent of Gary Moore at his best and by the time an ecstatic audience was being entranced by their biggest “hit” Lady Fantasy, it looked, sounded and felt as if Camel is back for good.

 

The Hoax

The Railway, Winchester

28.8.2013

View: Squashed

An amazing fifteen years since their last studio album, the audience thought they were witnessing a miracle as the original Hoax line-up reconvened to present their new crowd-funded effort “Big City Blues”. This was the first date and the capacity blues addict audience was pleasingly tolerant of support act Well Hung Heart, featuring Hoax bassist Robin Davey and his wife Greta, sporting – yes – a lampshade, as she covered Radiohead’s “Creep”. You had to be there to appreciate the fun. With great courage, The Hoax blasted out the whole of the new album, which consists of snappy, grunge-bluesy two minuters like “Hipslicker” and “Let It Shine”, each with the kind of attention-grabbing hooks that got people joining in even though they had never heard them before. This is a new, leaner Hoax with the guitar battles between Jon Amor and Jesse Davey now heavily edited and all the more impressive for it. The band is, amazingly, hotter than it’s ever been before.

 

Wickham Festival

1 – 4 August

View: Among the picnic chairs

Wickham has discovered a lucrative way to attract festival-goers: Combine a trad folk fest with a bunch of retro pop and rock acts and pull in a crossover audience. It worked, as it was a sellout. A laidback crowd of mellow grandparents enjoyed the likes of Seth Lakeman, who could use some new creative input, and Show of Hands, whose eclectic approach and super-smooth professionalism mean they are always entertaining. The Waterboys impressed on their comeback and a version of 10CC hit the nostalgia button, while Dexys riled the audience by ignoring their hits. The seemingly never-ending supply of hoedown specialists (don’t mention the Peatbog Faeries’ bagpipes please) gave way on the final day to some classic and much-loved rockers. Wilko Johnson stormed through a high-energy set and even joined the Blockheads later. Not much in the way of new bands here, it’s not that sort of festival, but Public Service Broadcasting shone like a beacon of innovation and Southampton’s Sean McGowan triumphed against some leaking sound from the dire covers band in the next-door tent.

 

Palmfest

The Palmeira, Hove

1.6.13

View: Trampled underfoot

You may think that a festival of UK Americana and folk would be a laid-back affair but not in this case. By the time Danny George Wilson was leading his eight-piece Champions Of The World towards the late-night climax, the Palmeira pub had been turned into a massive, sweaty, pogoing moshpit, consisting largely of artists who’d previously been on stage and were now letting their hair down. Peter Bruntnell and his electric band had just finished a set of psychedelic rock of such power that the audience, after a day of hard drinking, was almost hysterical with joy. Two stages alternated throughout the day, with acoustic sets from gruff-voiced Jack Day and Radio Two’s favourite Liverpudlian Robert Vincent. But things took off with Welsh scallywags The Caves, sounding like a cross between The Hollies and Ash, and then the beautiful, wafting songs of Devon’s Small Town Jones, accompanied by guitarist of the day, the extraordinarily gifted Dave Little. Oxford’s Dreaming Spires added an indie touch before the Champs almost literally brought the house (well, the chandelier) down. Wild stuff.

 

John Murry

Bush Hall, London

8.5.13

View: Comfy

John Murry and his band Dark Matter’s show benefited the from the intimacy of what is surely London’s most atmospheric venue outside the Union Chapel. Murry was onstage during the support, duetting with Peter Bruntnell on the lovely Handful Of Stars. Starting the set dressed in a soon-abandoned flat cap, Murry had the audience transfixed as he revisited tracks from his extraordinary Graceless Age album. The music is squally rock, not the fey “Americana” with which he has been lazily tagged and Murry’s stage presence defies description, wavering between super rockstar confidence, nervous diffidence, wry humour, baffled innocence and twitchy edginess. He also plays a mean Telecaster, entwined with the potent lead guitar of Sean Coleman. But in the end, it’s all about the songs and the story of salvation from drug addiction. While the album is lushly produced, beautiful songs like California and Southern Sky take on harsh new dimensions, with the tour de force Little Colored Balloons being one of the world’s great live music experiences. Murry gives it absolutely everything every night and the audience simply melts. How does he do it?

 

World Party

Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

26.4.13

View: Among friends

A rotund but chipper figure, Kark Wallinger shared the stage with a stripped down World Party consisting of the Blockheads’ Jon Turnbull on guitar and regular violinist David Duffy. The big mystery was how such a canon of genius songs can’t even fill a little venue like this. The avuncular Wallinger, seemingly a picture of contentment, took charge of every song from his substantial back catalogue, and out they tumbled. An interlude at the piano featured a celebratory “She’s The One”, while Duffy switched to mandolin for “Is It Like Today”. There wasn’t a person in the house not bellowing out the uniquely irresistible choruses of “Put The Message In The Box” and “Ship Of Fools”. The band were clearly relishing every moment and by the time they were encoring with Way Down Now, the audience was consumed with a wave of emotion, shouting out their love for Wallinger. “Don’t be silly now” was all the self-deprecating star would say, as the audience continued to bellow the Stonesian “whoo whoos” out into the night.

 

Ray Davies

Southampton Guildhall

6.10.12

View: Installed in the stalls

Why does Ray Davies keep running off stage every few minutes? Speculation was rife. Surely not drugs at his age? A weak bladder, maybe? Suddenly, someone spotted it: “Look, he’s changed his shoes!” This was a fun, nostalgic evening of hits, but the workmanlike band made it a long way away from the excitement of the Kinks. You definitely had the feeling of a job being done the same way as every night, with singalongs encouraged and compliments paid to the wonderful Southampton crowd (same as any other). The most poignant moments came not with the throwaway versions of the hit singles but rather with the beautiful and still tear-jerking “Celluloid Heroes” and a lovely acapella version of “Days”. Ray almost met his match in the form of support act Small Town Jones, drafted in at the last minute to melt the audience’s hearts and empty their pockets at the merch stand.

 

Alabama Shakes
Birmingham HMV Institute
11 May 2012
View: Squashed

Alabama Shakes must be feeling strange right now. Just months after their UK debut in a London pub, here they found their show being upgraded from the Institute’’s smallest room to its largest. With just the one Boys And Girls album and less than an hour’’s worth of music to play, they faced a rowdy and inattentive Friday night audience and, frankly, didn’’t deliver. The number of people complaining about their neighbours chatting loudly through all the (many) quiet sections must reveal something about the band’’s ability to grip an audience. The most common comment in the room was “”Give it six months and Brittany Howard will be a solo artist”” and the most noticeable thing about the band was the complete absence of any interpersonal communication or indeed enthusiasm. Which is a real shame, because Howard is an undisputed talent. She uses that extraordinary voice in clever and subtle ways (perhaps too clever for this goodtime crowd, who only seemed to recognize “Hold On”) and her underrated guitar playing is particularly impressive. The band? Well, remember the expression Sleeperblokes? They’’re back, folks. Those expecting Adele-style rapture were deeply disappointed.

 

Richmond Fontaine / Richard Buckner / Peter Bruntnell
Cecil Sharp House, London
7.5.12
View: Reverential

The folkies of Cecil Sharp House had never heard the like. Guitarist Dan Eccles was on all fours as a good five minutes of controlled feedback provided the coda to an extraordinary re-working by Richard Buckner of The Cars’’ Candy-O. This was the climax of a show which reinvented the package tour, as Buckner, designated driver Peter Bruntnell and the Richmond Fontaine duo of Eccles and Willy Vlautin first did their own sets and then linked up for the finale. Bruntnell’’s invariably excellent songwriting went down well (new songs included London Clay and Caroline). Using all manner of guitar trickery, Richard Buckner presented a career-spanning set in the form of clusters of five or six songs, merging into each other in mesmerising fashion. As for Richmond Fontaine, there’’s a uniqueness in the way their gripping songs of death and disappointment are presented in an atmosphere of the utmost good humour. This rainy London evening provided fantastic value for the sold-out crowd.

Kathleen Edwards
Islington Academy
28.2.12
View: Plush balcony

It was one of those never-to-be-forgotten moments. Alone on stage, battling to articulate the meaning of her song “House Full Of Empty Rooms”, Kathleen Edwards gives up. “”Shit, fuck”,” she spits, and the tears begin to flow both from her and the audience. Such a sassy, confident, stomping stage performer and yet so vulnerable to pent-up emotion. Something about London seems to bring out the best in her, as she seemed truly emotional about the audience’’s reaction to her performance. Starting with a cool double whammy from the new Bon Iver-produced Voyageur album (Empty Threat and Chameleon / Comedian), Kathleen satisfied all wishes with a chunk of new songs and a ready scattering of favourites such as Asking For Flowers and a truly storming Back To Me. She sure knows how to pick a band too. Long-standing bassist John Dinsmore is joined by drummer Lyle Molzan, Daniel Ledwell on keys (causing hysterics on stage and in the audience with emergency mid-song repairs) and a stunning replacement for Colin Cripps in the form of long tall guitarist Gord Tough. Cool and calm, his soloing nevertheless elicited several outbursts of mid-song applause. Kathleen has a beautiful voice, intriguing onstage manner, gorgeous songs and she bows a mean violin too. It was quite a night.

Dawes
Windmill, Brixton
17.2.12
View: Slightly damp

Taylor Goldsmith has got the frontman thing down to a tee. Unbroken eye contact with the front row and others behind ensures that the ladies in the audience gently melt (almost literally, as the heat means that droplets of warm rain are falling on their heads). Then, as he throws out the very precise and tuneful guitar solos which pepper each song, the musos are entranced as well. Add in an entire album’s worth of killer songs and you have a band whose future is secure. Goldsmith has a happy knack of pronouncing all his lyrics in such a way that you can hear every word – – very unusual in rock and roll. No wonder Dawes’ fans and collaborators include Glen Dampbell and Jackson Browne. Playing pretty much the whole of their aptly-titled “Nothing Is Wrong” album (although not necessarily in the right order) means that one melodic gem after the other tumbles out, accompanied by an audience which knows them all by heart. Not even a recalcitrant Wurlitzer can ruin the general joy, with drummer (and brother) Griffin Goldsmith providing vital extra vocal muscle and a languid backbeat worthy of Mercury Rev. Following a truly majestic “So Well”, the climax is reached with the lyrically surreal “Time Spent In Los Angeles”. One of those “”I was there”” gigs.

Mark Eitzel / Richard Buckner
Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
9.11.11.
View: Over a Buffalo Burger

A triple bill of extraordinary quality was kicked of by Sacri Cuori, an Italian minimalist instrumental trio with strong Calexico connections. Next up, the brilliant Mark Eitzel. Currently between albums, Mark here displayed his torch singing ability with classics like “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and favourites such as “Gravity Talks” and “Nothing Changes”. If he sings anything new, he says, it’’s leaked on the internet within hours.
Performing his first UK shows in eight years, Richard Buckner was worried about following Eitzel, but it worked out fine. Backed with sympathetic precision by Sacri Cuori, the big man’’s downbeat, laconic melodies as displayed on his new album “Our Blood” were an understated treat.
A certain awkwardness about addressing the audience was summed up by an incident involving an injured finger and a snack in the front row. “”I’’m bleeding over your nuts”, observed Buckner wryly. “I bet you don’’t hear that every day”.

Truck Festival
Steventon, Oxford
22 – 24 July 2011
View: Sun-kissed

Big names were absent from the expanded Truck, unless you count Graham Coxon or St Etienne. Instead, the voguish Americana mode was embraced, making for a pleasant, low-key event. The over-clever Bellowhead contrasted with a triumphant set by the folk-soul of The Duke And The King, arguably band of the festival. Flop of the weekend was Philip Selway, who managed to empty the tent of people who were not angry, just bored. Following on, John Grant showed his accolades are deserved. There was an exciting breakthrough by the innovative Sea Of Bees and a life-affirming set from a hearteningly sprightly Edwyn Collins with his great session band. Caitlin Rose and Richmond Fontaine had acoustic fun in the sun, while, on the pop front, Young Knives revealed a debt to Blur. Interesting new acts included Oxford’s Spring Offensive and young Danes Treefight For Sunlight (although they should have refrained from destroying “Wuthering Heights”). Not a bad way to spend a weekend at all.

The Flaming Lips
Eden Project, Cornwall
30 June 2011

Free admission to the domes and an all-day programme featuring the likes the excellent OK Go (full marks for the multicoloured outfits) made this a grand value day out. And what more appropriate setting could be imagined for Wayne Coyne’’s traditional audience excursion in his very own geometric dome? The balloons, confetti and general bonhomie ensure that the audience is up and in a state of hysteria before the show is three minutes old. Among the newer material they resurrect “She Don’’t Use Jelly”, allowing some breathing space before a storming “Yoshimi” and encores of the ever-stunning “Race For The Prize” and “Do You Realize?” bring us back to fever pitch (not to mention a tear to the eye). Still endearing is the falsetto “”Thank You”” that Steven Drodz uses to acknowledge the adulation. He is the evil genius behind it all, after all. Meanwhile, they’’ll still be picking up the confetti from the Cornwall countryside this time next year.

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter
Monto Water Rats, London
21 April 2011
View: Close

It was one of those classic London gig scenarios featuring noise leaking in from next door and endless support bands from hell, but nothing could faze these seasoned Seattle pros. Boldly easing themselves in with a lengthy instrumental (Weight Of Cancer), they had the audience entranced from the off. Playing almost all of their new album Marble Son (which deserves success of at least Fleet Foxian proportions), guitarist Phil Wandscher is very much to the fore with brilliantly broody, effect-laden soling. On the proggy Pleasuring The Divine he sounds much like the criminally under-rated Andrew Latimer of Camel. Between all this come Jesse’’s atmospheric close harmony songs such as Be It Me Or Be It None and the Sykes classic The Air