Okay so I said that The Cooper Temple Clause were bloody brilliant but tonight’s gig surpassed even that. Electric Six were even better, surpassing all levels of the Ryan Rating System and bring about a new grade of gig coolness. They were “Fuckin’ Deadly”. They rocked pretty much with the stuff that I hadn’t heard, but once GayBar came on I found myself sucked into a pit of moshing joy from whence I didn’t emerge for an hour.
A mix of disco, heavy rock, punk, and a stage presence to rival Sir Lawrence Olivier made for the perfect gig to bounce around to like a mad thing and bounce around I did. I imagine I’ll be unable to walk in the morning but it was very much worth it. Especially with their well-timed monarch dissing, and the slightly ironic timing of their cover version of Radio Ga Ga, which confused the younger members of the audience.
Yes I know it’s been a while, but I haven’t been to a gig in ages. Tonight was Harvest Time at the Portland Arms and, as usual, The Broken Family Band were headlining. It was a very poor turnout gigwise, with only myself and Red Setter attending, but turned out to be absolutely smashing.
First up was Rob Jackson and friend. The singer was pretty good in a James Taylor style and Rob’s lead guitar led to a fairly mellow but toneful start to the evening’s proceedings.
Lionshare are another band much in the Americana mold. Having a bad start where I was tempted to head to the bar, they got into the swing of things with some dark, almost gothic, country style music. Filled with harmonica, textured guitar, and a growling Johnny Cash type voice I do believe they rawked.
The Broken Family Band this time around played a lot of new stuff which will be on the album, aparantly coming at the end of June. Of course, they played old favourites like Twisted and The Devil’s in the Details but I think the highlight for me was Walking Back to Jesus: Part I, which was nice and Pink Floydy for my tastes.
Another highlight of the evening was witnessing Red Setter’s change from relative gig virgin to full fleged groupie. I feel so proud since she left with both a t-shirt and CD and chatted to the band.
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.
Fantastic night: Rich Hall playing Otis Lee Crenshaw at the Corn Exchange. As you all should know Rich Hall is a pretty funny stand up guy, but playing a redneck country singer really suits him. Faint praise, eh?
The first half wasn’t anything special but once his support band came out it turned into one of those events you tell your grandchildren about. With tunes like the Overweight Irish Song and Incest Man I couldn’t stop laughing.
Unfortunately Mr. Hall had to stop the show until I composed myself.
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.
You wouldn’t think it possible with the weather from the past few days, but I’ve been persuaded to go Californian and buy a pair of Rollerblades.
After a boozy Friday night I crawled out of bed and made it to the rollerblade shop on Mill Rd and got a lovely pair of Cylon boots with detatchable wheels on the bottom. Meeting some people at the Beehive Centre proved too much like exercise so we gave up after an hour and went drinking again.
How nice are the people at Forbidden Planet here in Cambridge? I went in a couple of weeks ago looking for Amazing Spiderman #42 a couple of weeks after it had come out and not surprisingly they had sold all their copies.
Once I asked the lovely manager if they had any, he offered to call around all the FP outlets in the UK to see if anyone had a spare copy. Eventually they had one on Coventry because aparantly no-one buys comics there, so I wandered into town yesterday on the free bus that work provides once a fortnight and picked it up. They still only charged the cover price despite the fact that it probably cost them that much to get it sent down and to phone around. Fantastic!
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.