Friday night saw me head off to Bournemouth O2 Academy for an evenings entertainment that I confidently predict will not be bettered this year. Bowling For Soup, The Dolly Rots, Lacey and MC Lars put on a very special evening of pop-punk entertainment. Here are a handful of my photographs from the evening. I will be putting a full review on louder Than War later today. Be sure to check it out.
Fall Out Boy
Bournemouth International Centre
10 October 2015
What do you get when you mix a long established pop punk band with a UK hip-hop artist and a couple of alt-dance acts? Alan Ewart went along to the Bournemouth International Centre to find out and discovered a damn fine evenings entertainment.
Back in February this year my son asked me to buy tickets for Fall Out Boy’s gig in Bournemouth for him and his mates. Being an obedient parent I complied and last night saw me packing my camera and heading off to bournemouth’s international centre with four 17-year-olds. I have to confess I was a little bemused when I looked up the acts that were supporting Fall Out Boy. UK hip-hop star Professor Green was obviously already familiar to me but both Matt & Kim and Charley Marley were new to me. It is hard to categorise the later two acts but I guess you would plump for Alternative Dance if you were pushed.
My interest was piqued when Fall Out Boy’s UK PR company dropped me a note advising me not to miss Matt & Kim as they are great to photograph. As a result we were at the venue nice an early to catch all four bands.
I guess it is a sure sign that you are getting older when your kids are amongst the oldest at a gig. I may be an old fart but, as i keep telling my son, at least I’m not a boring old fart. The vast majority of the crowd were under 21 and female which I guess goes with the territory when it comes to “pop-punk” music these days. I was a little surprised that most of the audience seemed to know all the words to Charley Marley’s songs, especially given that I had never heard of him before. His dance groove was not my bag but he went down really well with the audience who were bouncing and singing along to his four or five song set. To his credit he was very entertaining and very energetic.
Matt & Kim also fell into that sort of dance groove but in a different way. They were a massively entertaining duo with Matt playing the Mac Book Pro and Kim playing drums and thrilling the crowd with her antics. Kim was on top of the drums, leaping around the platform and even went onto the hands of the crowd to shake her booty during one of their songs. Whilst this is certainly not my kind of music you can’t help but be entertained by Matt and Kim.
I have seen Professor Green a couple of times over the course of this summer and again he is entertaining and one of the best around at what he does. His backing singer was excellent and his set was packed full of crowd pleasing sing-alongs.
The main event was of course Fall Out Boy. The Chicago based pop-punk heroes have been around since 2001 and have an extensive back catalogue to draw on. I must confess that their most recent album American Beauty/American Psycho left me a little cold as it is most definitely more pop than punk. That said I try not to write something off until I hear it live and to be fair the seven songs from American Beauty did come over better live than on disc.
The show opened with a video screen that spread the width of the stage as a Cathe style news reel played. The crowd went totally nuts as the screen was raised to reveal the band. Front man Patrick Stump and Bass man Pete Wentz were straight into their stride as the bounded around the stage leaping onto little platforms and waving their guitars around. Starting out with sing-along favourites like Sugar We’re Going Down and The Phoenix got the crowd onside quickly and the concert seemed to be really into it’s stride when the video screens came down and the band disappeared.
I must confess I was confused. From my position at the side of the stage I could see that roadies were running around resetting aspects of the stage and then we were treated to something I have never seen before. A separate small stage had been set up at the back of the vast room and Stump, Went and Joe Trohman popped up to play a couple of acoustic numbers. This was the sort of creativity that was evident throughout a show that was full of surprises and entertaining from first note to last. We even had on stage fireworks complete with explosions that almost gave me a heart attack.
The video screens at the rear of the stage and above the stage ensured that everyone had a great view of on-stage proceedings and I must say the camera work and light show were the best that I have seen in a very long time. After no fewer than 20 songs Fall Out Boy left the stage after nothing more than a mumbled “thanks” from stump. They returned about a minute later to play a two song encore with “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” and “Saturday.”
With a total of four acts in evidence, a set of just over 90 minutes from the headliners, a superb set list, a ton of energy and the best light show I have seen in a very long time this was an incredibly good evenings entertainment. I would rate the evening a solid 9/10. It’s hard to imagine a better way to spend a Saturday evening.
Incidentally all of the kids agreed that it was one of the best shows they had ever seen.
2015 saw the 24th edition of Stiff Little Fingers annual St Patricks day gig at Glasgow’s Barrowlands. The venue is a real old school standing only venue in a less than salubrious part of Glasgow’s East End. Frankly both the venue and the area have seen much better days.
This particular gig is no less than legendary among punk fans and it is one that I have always wanted to attend. Sadly a combination of work commitments, distance and a lack of opportunity meant that this was the first time I actually managed to get there.
I met up with some friends and looked forward to a couple of great days of great company and great music. We met up at the hotel and headed off for a few beers before heading down to the East End for the gig. We stayed in the pub a little bit too long and missed the opening act, “Electric River” but we arrived in time to catch the second of the support acts “Love Zombies”.
Love Zombies were good fun in a female fronted,seen it all before, punk band. I enjoyed watching them and they were a good warm up for the main event, but I and most of the crowd were there for Stiff Little Fingers.
After Love Zombies finished the setting up of the stage for SLF seemed to take forever and frankly it should not have taken as long as it did. The delay seemed to cause the atmosphere to go a bit flat. When SLF did emerge the sound was just not up to scratch and this did not help the atmosphere either.
SLF played a very good set-list with songs from across their extensive back catalogue. The opening of the set was strong with a popular trio of songs in “Nobody’s Hero’s,” “At The Edge” and “Roots, Radical’s, Rockers and Reggae.” SLF aficionados will have appreciated a run of lesser known songs that followed the openers but a run of six less well known songs meant that people could be seen drifting off to the bar or the toilet.
I personally love to hear less well known songs but on nights like this people are there to hear their favourites and such a long run of less familiar tunes depressed the atmosphere still further. “Bits of Kids” and “Straw Dogs” lifted the atmosphere a little but it really took to the last couple of songs “Tin Soldiers” and “Suspect Device” before the gig really exploded into life and by then the band were leaving the stage.
SLF returned with a cover of Elvis Costello’s “Peace, Love & Understanding” before finishing the set with “Wasted Life” and “Alternative Ulster” and suddenly it was all over. It was an enjoyable gig with a decent set-list but it didn’t really hit the heights that a St Patricks night gig at Barrowlands deserves.
As we left the venue and headed back down Argyll Street we all felt pretty much the same. A good gig but not one of the best SLF gigs we had seen. No matter I suspect that we will all be back to do it all again next year for the silver anniversary gig.
Last night saw Leicester’s finest Indie Rock band, Kasabian, roll into town with a show in support of their 48:13 album release. I have been looking forward to the gig for some time. I had requested a Photopass from the Bands PR agents but didn’t even receive an acknowledgement of my request. I do realise that each company has their own way of working and that some work through agencies but it costs nothing but 15 seconds of someones time to send a polite negative reply. Simply ignoring messages is rude and just pisses people off.
Anyway, to the music. Kasabian were supported by London based Indie band The Maccabees who played an excellent 45 minute set of about a dozen songs. Now I have never seen the band before but they come over really well live. Their set drew on all of their back catalogue and they included a few songs from their forthcoming album. I recognised a few songs from their first album, in particular, Toothpaste Kisses, ‘First Love’ and ‘Precious Time’ . I can’t claim to know a huge amount about The Macabees but on the strength of this performance I will be digging deeper into their catalogue. They certainly worked the crowd and got everyone pumped up for the main event.
Kasabian hit the stage at 9pm and opened with ‘Bumblebee’ a track from the new album, it has been a staple of the setlist on this tour and it immediately got the crowd on side especially as Sergio leap onto monitors for guitar parts and generally wound the crowd up. To be fair it wasn’t hard to get the crowd going because they were right up for it from the off.
I may be becoming a bit of a curmudgeon, but considering that kasabian have been around for a fair time now the vast majority of the audience were in the 16 – 21 age bracket. Now I enjoy a crowd who get right into the gig, jumping, bouncing and really enjoying themselves. That said it really pisses me off that some people seem to think that climbing on their mates shoulders to block the view of everyone behind them, crowd surfing so they can kick as many people in the head as possible and trying to push their mates to the floor in a packed arena is an acceptable way to have fun. Sadly there was a lot of this last night and the event security did nothing to stop it. I would be lying if I said it didn’t affect my own enjoyment, it most certainly did.
Along with the opener we had a total of six songs from the new album with Bow, Clouds, Eeez-eh, Stevie & Treat all getting an an outing. We also had five songs from ‘Lunatic Asylum’ including brilliant versions of ‘Fire’, ‘Vlad the Impaler’ and especially ‘Thick as Thieves. It was clear throughout that both crowd and band were having a great time. Both Sergio and Tom having fun and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. It has to be said that Kasabian really do put on an excellent show, the lights and theatrics were great, the energy didn’t drop for a moment throughout the set. The show was played out in front of a huge active screen, this was fun to keep an eye on but didn’t distract from the band, in truth more could probably have been made of it.
The show drew to a close after 21 songs and 1:45 sending an exhausted crowd home very happy. This was a very very fine evening of Indie Rock, showcasing a band having a good time on the road and at the peak of its powers. Long may it continue.
The set list for those interested in such things:
Shoot the Runner
Where Did All the Love Go?
Days Are Forgotten
Thick as Thieves (Including ‘People Are Strange’ ending)
Re‐Wired (Including ‘Word Up’ Interlude)
Vlad the Impaler
Praise You (Fatboy Slim cover)
L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)
It is fair to say that the Levellers live reputation is very much based on their numerous festival appearances up and down the UK and across Europe. One could say that their entire reputation is festival based especially since they launched their own Beautiful Days Festival. Whilst they are a brilliant festival band it would be wrong to dismiss them as just another festival band.
Last night my son and I took the 60 minute drive down to Portsmouth to catch the Levellers on their latest ‘Greatest Hits’ tour. Many would argue that the Levellers always put on a greatest hits show and to some degree this is true, this tour is to support their recently released Greatest Hits album. With support from Ska Legends, The Selecter and newcomer ‘She Makes War‘ (Laura Kidd) all for the princely sum of £22.50 this promised to be a great evenings entertainment.
With a capacity of around 2,500, great acoustics and easy access Portsmouths Guildhall is a superb little venue. It has been a favourite of mine since I saw The Tubes on the remote control tour there in around 1980. I also saw The Selecter on Tour with The Specials around the same time but I can’t recall whether that was in the Guildhall or the nearby Mecca Ballroom. Anyway, back to the business at hand.
I arrived at the venue in plenty of time and was able to grab a beer and to ensconce my son right up on the barrier centre stage. She makes War took the stage at around 7.25 and played a 30 minute set. Her music was new to me and I must confess she was a very pleasant surprise. She is one of a growing band of solo artists who record elements of their performance and then play it back on loops. It makes for an interesting multi layered sound. I thoroughly enjoyed her set and will be sure to keep an eye out for her in future.
The Selecter as always were absolutely brilliant. Their set included all the old favourites, 3 minute hero, Too much pressure, They make me mad, James Bond, Train to Skaville and on my radio were all in a superb set which lasted some 55 minutes. I swear that Pauline Black must have a time machine because she doesn’t look a day older than when I first saw her all those years ago. She is still a bundle of energy and attitude. She certainly had the whole audience jumping.
The main event was of course still to come and it arrived at around 9.20pm in a flurry of ticker tape as the levellers took the stage. As might be expected on a greatest hits tour the setlist was a veritable cornucopia of the levellers best loved songs. To be fair the show did take a few minutes to hit its stride as there seemed to be a few problems on Marks microphone on the opening number ‘Beautiful Day’. I felt that this knocked Mark a bit out of his stride and he was halfway through ’15 Years’ before he settled into his usual groove and really started to enjoy himself.
It was nice to see Pauline invited onto the stage for together all the way and we also saw Selecters horn section for a couple of songs before Laura Kidd made a return to the stage for This Garden. Of course no levellers show is complete without an appearance from Steve Boakes on his didgeridoo, on this occasion he joined us for three songs. The middle of the show had a lovely little run of songs with Exodus, Boatman, Julie, This Garden, One Way, Too Real and Hope Street. Julie was especially brilliant with the stage in virtual darkness and Mark right into it.
The crowd were right up for it and the mosh pit did get a little brutal at times, I must confess at one point I did get slightly worried about my camera gear but everything was very good natured and everyone was having a brilliant time. There was some anxiety from the security staff who did speak to some people in the crowd but considering that the venue had a fatality a couple of days ago when a young man fell from the balcony I think that security were very restrained and professional it would have been very easy for them to over react and spoil peoples enjoyment.
The closing run of songs with Carry Me, Come on, Cholera Well and Liberty Song really had the place going mad. The boys left the stage at around 10.40 before reemerging to do an encore of Just The One and Devil Went Down To Georgia they then rounded off the evening with a brilliant Carry Me. The later was a real treat as it was clear that the band were really having fun and of course Mark was getting the audience to sing the words. It really was a brilliant set, the atmosphere was terrific and the guys were enjoying themselves. When the Levellers are having fun everyone else does to.
I think that this was the best Levellers show I have seen if not ever then certainly my favourite show in the last 10 years or so. My son did say he thought their set at Beautiful Days was better but that had a lot to do with the size of the crowd the pyrotechnics and the fireworks.
I really feel blessed to have seen the Levellers so many times down the years. I never get bored seeing them and when they consistently turn in performances like this I don’t think I ever will. I just hope that, seeing how much their shows are appreciated by their fans, the band will remain motivated to keep performing and to keep sharing these magic evenings with us for many years to come. Hats off to one of the most high energy and consistent bands it has ever been my pleasure to see.