Seeing as I haven’t been to The Junction is ages, this was a perfect re-introduction. In my love for smaller venues I’d forgotten just how much of a buzz it can be to be smack in the middle of a big crowd all getting down to the same music.
The support band, Ambershades, were not anyone I’d heard of before but carried themselves off very well in the face of an uninterested crowd. Very melodic pop, with a tinge of Status Quo, but only the good stuff. I’ll be listening out for them in future.
Of course there was the usual jockying to get into a good position for the headliners, The Bluetones, and this time we managed to get closer to the stage than ever before in The Junction. I’d not heard much of this lot’s music either, but they came highly recommended and quite rightly so. A mixture of The Jam and Primal Scream with a harder edge to it, they absolutely tore the place down. The normally quite staid Cambridge crowd went mad with excitement and there was much pogoing and screaming to be had. I even lost it myself, in spite of the ties being worn by the band, and went ballistic. The lead guitarist was one of the best I’ve ever heard live and indeed deserved the man of the match award.
As gigs go tonight’s was brilliant. If you can imagine a concert with three bands, each of which was worthy of headlining on their own, you might get the picture.
First up was Byrne who I can only describe as indescribable. They were rocktastic, musical, and just god damn lovely. They really should be at Wembley rather than a tiny club in Cambridge. Great things will come of them, I promise you.
After a brief interlude Saloon came on who were a lot more pedestrian (much to my embarrassment since I mentioned to the bass and violin player how much I preferred Byrne). They sounded an awful lot like Stereolab.
The Broken Family Band were, as always, fantastic. Not as much banter as usual, but I think it’s because they were nervous. Instead of the usual floating backing singer (Mary happened to be in Bulgaria) they had a guy playing the accordion/squeezebox and I have to say it worked rather well, lending a very Cajun sound to the proceedings. I would hope that both accordion and female backing singers become a permanent fixture as this would give them a much needed boost to their sound.
And to top it off, some of us headed to KamBar, which on alternate Saturday nights is indie. T’was rather good and to prove what a small town Cambridge is Mick, the drummer from the Broken Family Band was there, giving the sign of the horns as was strange Forbidden Planet guy.
The first gig of 2003 turned out to absolutely fantastic. We went to see The Broken Family Band, Herman Dune, and Of Montreal at the Portland Arms. All three bands were great, but Broken Family Band stole the show with their mixture of Crowded House style jangles, country affectations, and tongue in cheek humour. They’re a local Cambridge band and seem to be destined for big things – keep an eye out for their EP that’s just out.
Herman Dune were very different. A strange mixture of the Velvet Underground and They Might be Giants they sported some regulation length CAMRA beards and made for a fun and interesting kind of band.
Of Montreal were more typical Indie rock and ended the night with the crowd going wild, which wasn’t bad considering the venue was smaller than our living room. Very much a standard punky sort of thing, they had a great sound and seemd to enjoy what they were doing. Ending on Black Sabbath’s War Pigs made sure that we all left feeling pretty high. Those of us who knew what War Pigs was – naming no names, of course…
The 100 Acres that was on in Longstanton the Saturday before last was the first festival of it’s kind in Cambridge and appeared to be a rousing success.
Alabama 3, the headliners, were every bit as good as expected, though the American accents started to slip back towards Edinburgh and Brixton towards the end. Cornershop were great as well, despite the lead singer’s seeming boredom with the whole event. They played a fantastic sitar jam at the end of their set which blew us all away.
A couple of new bands there seem to be worth watching out for. Other Garden (who impressed me with an impromptu cover version of Lazy Sunday Afternoon) and Silverfish.
Last night I managed to head off see The Flaming Lips in the Junction. Having never heard the band before I was ready for anything, but I’ve had good luck and not a little help in getting to see good bands since I’ve been here so why not.
All I can say is, “Bloody hell! Was that just the most orgasmic musical experience I’ve ever had or what?” The Lips had us eating out of the palms of their hands. Consummate showmen without a hint of arrogance or bravado, they played over an hour of the best rawk music I’ve heard. Of course they’re well known for She Don’t Use Jelly (a song I was delighted to recognise), their new album is absolutely fantastic. I’d recommend you all run, don’t walk to the web site for a listen and then go out and buy the bloody thing.
As if that wasn’t a perfect night, the support bands were excellent too. The young Silverfish with an interesting Travis-like sound and Bob Mould who is indescribable. Picture it: a bald thirtyish man plaing heavy indie rock accompanied by a drum machine and various electronic sounds. No it’s not Beck, it’s much less depressing than that.
So there you go. Two nice records to go find and rock to.
After only four matches it’s all over for us. Despite playing their little hearts out, the Irish team are heading home to a heroes welcome. Continuing the tactic of letting in an early goal and clawing through ninety minutes to a spectacular draw, McCarthy’s Eleven went on to take shot after shot at the Spanish goal before losing on penalties. The irony when compared to Italy 1990 is far from lost on me.
On the other hand I did go to see Spiderman during the week. What a fantastic movie. This is everything the Episode II should have been and now with Ang Lee‘s Hulk coming up, it looks like it’s going to be a good year for comic book fans.
Another hint: Check out The Libertines. I saw them at the Peterborough Met on Friday and even though they only played for a half hour, they were amazing. I’ve a feeling these guys are going to be bigger than Blur or Oasis combined. Punk isn’t dead – there is finally life after Steps.