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Fall Out Boy - Bournemouth

Fall Out Boy: Bournemouth – live review

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.

Professor Green

Professor Green

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.

Matt & Kim

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.

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy

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.

Beans On Toast – Wedgwood Rooms Dec 9 2014

Jay McAllister is an uncompromising UK based folk singer, better known to his fans as ‘Beans on Toast’.  His uncompromising, down to earth style combined with irreverent lyrics, delivered with a sense of fun has won him legions of fans up and down the country.  To date he has released 5 albums, appeared at numerous festivals, including several appearances at Glastonbury, and toured with his friend, collaborator and label mate Frank Turner.

‘Beans on Toast’ is currently on a 16 date headlining tour which covers the length and breadth of the UK.  I managed to catch up with Jay before his show at Portsmouth’s Wedgwood Rooms last night.  As always McAllister was relaxed and smiling despite the fact that he had been rushing around all afternoon getting set up and playing an in store set before the gig.  Jay told me that he has really enjoyed the current ‘Beans On Toast ‘tour, he had played in great venues to great crowds and that he had a great time with support act Will Varley.  The tour was in support of his 6th album ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’, released on his birthday, Dec 1.Beans on Toast-10

I suggested to McAllister that this album was a little bit of a departure from his previous offerings, that there was more of an ‘Americana’ feel to it and that he was perhaps showing his softer side.  He felt that he has always written about his life experiences and that this hasn’t changed.  Jay went on to say that ‘I am more settled now, I am getting married a week on Sunday so I am writing about things like that.  I can’t spend my life writing songs about drink, drugs and getting wrecked’.  After the wedding Jay will be taking Lizzy to have the ‘New Orleans Honeymoon’ that he sings about on the album.

Jays experiences touring in the USA  have clearly influenced his sound on this album, several songs have a distinct Country feel, most notable in ‘Fuck you Nashville’. McAllister acknowledges that there is a country feel to some of the songs but that this was just the way they came out, there was no deliberate plan, it just felt right for the song.  He will be returning to the USA for some more shows in 2015 and will also be playing in South Africa in the Spring.

Beans on Toast-5Throughout this ‘Beans on Toast’  tour, support has been from Will Varley and tonights show also featured a short set from McAllister’s long time friend and local boy Sam McCarthy who played a short but very well received solo set.  Varley played a 40 minute solo set which again was very well received by the crowd.  Varley has a very nice guitar style and creates a lovely sound from his nylon stringed classic guitar.  He plays self penned folk songs that have a touch of ‘Americana’ about them.  The majority of his songs were from his recent album ‘As The Crow Flies’ I was particularly taken with ‘Weddings and Wars’, ‘I Got This e-mail’ and ‘She’s Been Drinking’ all of which are engaging, interesting and well written songs.

Beans On Toast began his set at 10 p.m. and as you would expect the focus was on ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ with ‘Folk Singer, ‘War On War’, ‘Fuck You Nashville’, ‘A Whole Lot Of Loving’ and others getting a run out.  McAllister clearly enjoyed being so close to the crowd, there were no barriers so they were within touching distance.  In his usual inimitable style Jay was very soon performing from the middle of the crowd rather than from the stage.  He was certainly enjoying himself when he agreed with the crowd that they would take turns picking songs.  There are no set-lists at ‘Beans on Toast’ gigs and this meant that a string of crowd favourites were played.  There was one sour moment when Jay invited a young man onto the stage and the less than friendly security promptly threw him out.  This did drag the atmosphere down but Jay soon got things back on track by delivering the Chicken Song.  Jay also ensured that he showed who’s side he was on by going back into the crowd, climbing on a fans shoulders to sing and inviting the crowd to get up on each others shoulders to join in.  Irreverent and no-holds-barred as usual.  As the show grew to a close ‘Beans on Toast’ invited dozens of fans onto the stage to form a ‘virtual’ campfire circle whilst he played ‘Flying Clothes Line’.Beans on Toast-10

As the show closed it was clear that everyone had enjoyed a very solid show from an artist who can be relied on to deliver on every occasion, an artist who enjoys performing and who does his utmost to ensure everyone at his shows goes home happy.

Beans on Toast – The Grand Scheme of Things

Jay McAllister is an uncompromising UK based folk singer, better known to his fans as Beans on Toast.  His uncompromising, down to earth style combined with reverent lyrics delivered with a sense of fun has won him legions of fans up and down the country.  To date he has released 5 albums, appeared at numerous festivals, including several appearances at Glastonbury, and toured with his friend, collaborator and label mate Frank Turner.

2014 has been quite a year for Beans, he has played to his biggest audiences to date, he is currently out on a headlining tour which covers the length and breadth of the UK, he has become engaged to Lizzy Bee and today, 1st December sees the release of his 6th album ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’.  The album, as is his tradition is released on his birthday.Beans on Toast-10

McAllister has never shied away from difficult subjects and ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ is no different in that respect.  Sex, drugs, politics and social affairs all get a run out in his usual no-holds-barred style.  He tackles the political agendas of UKIP & Russell Brand in ‘Whole Lot of Loving’ alongside his experiences of being shunted between London areas by ever-increasing gentrification-generated rent hikes (‘All I See Is Wagamama’) with his customary irreverent nous.

Whilst Beans has undoubtably kept his political edge and sense of fun ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ does take a couple of interesting new turns.  He shows his more tender side by expressing his love of Lizzy and of home life in ‘Lizzy’s Cooking’ and in ‘New Orleans Honeymoon’, an interesting turn for a man who regaled us with stories of recreational drug taking.

His touring in the USA  has clearly influenced his sound on this album, several songs have a distinct Country feel, most notable in ‘Fuck you Nashville’ which tells the story of his experiences touring in the USA.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by this as Beans has always written about what he observes in his everyday life.  This is amply demonstrated in the hilarious look at animal welfare in the ‘Chicken Song’.  Make no mistake, it may be amusing but there is a very clear message about the dangers of modern farming methods.

‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ features and was produced by Sam Beer who taught Beans on Toast his first song on the guitar over eighteen years ago on a camping holiday in SBeans on Toastpain.  It also features contributions from  Will Varley who is supporting Beans on his current tour.  It is certainly true that the Grand Scheme of things takes a different track but what hasn’t changed is Beans on Toast’s unrivalled ability to tell a tale, his no holds barred social commentary and his ability to tackle difficult subjects from an everyday point of view. He continues to deliver his thoughts with honesty, humour belief and passion.   This is an album that broadens his musical horizons, it will delight his fans and doubtless win him many new ones.

Tracklisting

1. Folk Singer 2. The War on War 3. Fuck You Nashville 4. The Chicken Song 5. Stinging Nettles 6. Lizzy’s Cooking 7. A Whole Lot of Loving 8. Flying Clothes Line 9. All I see is Wagamama 10. NOLA Honeymoon 11. NYE

 

Nikon D750 – First Look

Well I finally took the plunge and laid out a fairly major investment on a new camera.  Until recently I have been using an Olympus E-520 4/3 cropped sensor camera.  It has undoubtably served me well but it is now 6 years old and it is now very limiting for the type of photography I favour, live gigs.  The Olympus is limited to 1600 ISO and Olympus have phased out the 4/3 line moving to micro fit and mirrors cameras.  My Olympus lenses are also fairly limited in that they are not fast enough and the auto-focus in the very variable lighting conditions of gigs mean that I have a real struggle to get sharp shots.

A bit of research brought me down to a choice of 4 cameras.  I couldn’t justify the £5k for a camera body that the Canon EOS 1DX or Nikon D4S required so the choices were Canon 5D Mkiii, Canon 7DMkii, Nikon D810 or Nikon D750.  These are undoubtably all fantastic cameras and all have their own unique selling points.  I ruled out the 7D Mkii for one reason alone, the cropped sensor.  I was finding that with a 55 – 200mm lens on a cropped sensor I could not get full length shots when I was in the orchestra pit at gigs and for that reason alone I passed on the 7D.d750lens

I ruled out the Nikon D810 because at 36M pixels I felt the resolution was too high for my needs.  I doubt whether I will ever have to print beyond A3 so the resolution was probably overkill for my needs.  I was torn and almost went for it but the file sizes for processing etc put me off.  That left me with the Canon 5D Mkiii or the Nikon D750.  Again both have their advantages and for me it really was a toss up.  The AF system, frames per second and resolution were all broadly equivalent, both have 14bit raw resolution.  The Canon has a wider ISO range, the Nikon has wi-fi connectivity.  In the end my wallet made the final decision as the Nikon was some £500 cheaper.  I also purchased the camera from a company called SLR Hut.  It was imported from the USA with all import duties paid, and that saved me close to another £500.  Those saving allowed me to buy both a 24 – 120G F4 VR lens and a 70 – 200G F2.8 lens.  I need both lenses and had I bought the canon I could not have afforded both straight away.  Money talks!

Camera and lenses arrived earlier this week Courtesy of DHL.  Everything was beautifully and securely packaged.  Considering the package came from the USA the box didn’t even have a mark on it.d750back

As you are entitled to expect when you pay this amount of cash for a camera it is beautifully made, very solid and tactile and it is weather sealed, very important in English conditions.  At first glance it does look pretty complicated, a feeling added to when you look in the manual, which weighs in at 500 pages (all in English).  Thankfully if you are comfortable with an SLR the controls are pretty intuitive once you switch it on.  All of the main functions are available without having to resort to the menu’s.  Most controls are available simply by pressing and holding a button and using one of the two control wheels.  All of the buttons feel solid and positive.

I took the camera out when I walked my dogs this morning and had a bit of a play around.  The first thing I notices (and loved) is that the auto focus is lightning fast, it also indicates in the view finder exactly where the focus is locked.  It acts intelligently, for example in the image below that has a tree on the right of the image the camera told me that it was locked onto the tree despite the fact that that the tree was not centrally positioned.  I found the same with closer up shots for example the focus on the fungi on the side of the tree trunk was instantaneous.lens

On downloading the pictures when I got home the biggest difference I noticed was in the depth and vibrancy of the colours.  With my olympus I had got used to shots of the heathland looking fairly uniform and a bit ‘washed out’ in terms of colour.  The Nikon captures the colour much more accurately and the colours look more rich and vibrant.  This was very much a first look at the camera and I won’t pretend that I have either totally got to grips with it or that I have challenged the camera in any way.  I have only tried out the F4 lens in decent light.  I am however very impressed with what I have seen so far.  I look forward to checking out the F2.8 lens at a live gig next Saturday.  I will let you know how I get on.

Incidentally, the Native ISO on the D750 is 100 – 12600, expandable to 50 – 51200.  The camera has two slots for SD cards, I have two  64Gb cards which gives me around 2,500 images when shooting 14bit Raw files.  I expect that will be a lot of jpegs if I ever shoot in Jpeg 😉  The cards can be configured in a variety of ways, you can shoot in Raw + Jpeg and have each image type on a different card.  If you are on a really important shoot you could have the file saved to slot 1 and a back up on slot 2 or you can just use slot 2 as an overflow.

Kasabian – Bournemouth International centre, 25th Nov 2014

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.Kasabian

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.Kasabian2

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:

  1. Bumblebee
  2. Shoot the Runner
  3. Underdog
  4. Where Did All the Love Go?
  5. Days Are Forgotten
  6. Clouds
  7. Eez-ez
  8. Cutt Off
  9. Thick as Thieves (Including ‘People Are Strange’ ending)
  10. Bow
  11. Goodbye Kiss
  12. Club Foot
  13. Re‐Wired (Including ‘Word Up’ Interlude)
  14. Treat
  15. Switchblade Smiles
  16. Empire
  17. Fire
     Encore:
  18. Stevie
  19. Vlad the Impaler
  20. Praise You (Fatboy Slim cover)
  21. L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)

The Leylines – Let it Go EP

The Leylines are a five piece band of musicians from England’s West Country.  The band are currently based in Weston-Super-mare.  I first came across them playing live at ‘Something Else in The Dean’ a grassroots music festival in the forest of dean.  I was very impressed with their live performance.  They were, for me, one of the highlights of a great weekend of music.

The band are currently working on their debut album release but I did manage to get hold of their four track EP ‘Let it Go’ so that I could get a flavour of their recorded output.  It must be said that the band picked four excellent songs to showcase their talents.

Vocalist Steve Mitchell is a great focus for the band.  He has a slightly gruff, slightly throaty singing voice which, especially on ‘Sorry my friends’, really reminded me of the Levellers Mark Chadwick.  In fact that track would not have been out of place on Chadwick’s recent solo album ‘Moment’.  The track both opens and closes with lovely fiddle pieces by Hannah Johns and once the vocals kick in the song is driven along by a very tight rhythm section, the guitars and fiddle playing a sympathetic supporting role. Backing vocals are understated and add a nice depth and texture.Leylines3

‘Save your soul’ is a simply gorgeous and a fantastic showcase for Mitchells vocals.  The track opens with just a simple finger picking guitar before the vocal starts with ‘Save your soul, not mine, save your heart not mine’, it is mournful, it tugs at the heart strings.   The fiddle comes in adding a gentle melancholic feel as Mitchell sings ‘You’re just not the one for me’.  The guitars drums and bass are added in layers as that line is repeated over and over, it builds and incredible feeling of love lost, of heartbreak, of sadness.  Its the sort of song you can imagine being played in front of a huge crowd who sing along with their cigarette lighters illuminating tear filled eyes.  It is simply beautiful.

The title track ‘let it go’ is an altogether more upbeat affair. It paints a picture of the North devon moors, of freedom, of wandering outdoors of the trees and the sea.   The urgent rhythm of the drums and the flowing fiddle playing are sure to get feet moving, it is a very danceable track but you just have the feeling that there is a hint of darkness underneath the outward dynamic jollity.Leylines2

Runaway is again upbeat but you do detect that all is not well in the world as the commentator runs away to a place in his mind.  You get the feeling that here is someone trying to remain positive in a fractured world, who is withdrawing into himself to draw on an inner strength in his determination to overcome adversity.

The leylines are in their infancy as a band but there is a maturity in their sound.  They draw inspiration from the sort of socially aware folk rock that has been espoused so successfully by the likes of the Levellers and the Oysterband.  The musicianship is strong and the songs hold up very well as a piece of work.  This is an extremely enjoyable EP, the forerunner of what I am sure will be an excellent album. The songs are catchy and have good chorus line hooks that you can easily see festival crowds singing along too.  The one piece of advice I would offer is to use these hooks a little more sparingly as there is a tendency across all four tracks to use the same couple of lines time and again to draw the listener in.  This works fine on an EP and would be fine on four songs out of a 12 track album but I suspect it could be easily overdone.

So in conclusion this is an excellent debut from a very exciting new folk rock band.  I can’t wait to hear their album and I look forward to catching them live again sometime very soon.

Joely & Wilmor – Acoustic Movement September 2014

Joely Powell and Wilmor Lott met just a few months ago in their home town of Swindon.  Initially they were looking to form a band but when that didn’t work out they felt that they could work together as a duo and set about making that happen.  6 months of rehearsing together has allowed them to build a dynamic, work out a set of songs and begin th0001Joely & Wilmor_wmeir journey as performing musicians.  It is early days of course but a saturday afternoon slot at the inaugural ‘Acoustic Movement’ festival in Dorset gave them the opportunity to show how far they have come in a short time.

Wilmor learnt his musical craft playing clarinet in a South African military band.  He plays keyboards and has been playing guitar for around ten years.  His background as a multi instrumentalist lays a very solid foundation for his rhythm playing as part of this duo.  Wilmor lays down a very relaxed groove and there is a sense of african rhythm in his playing.  His playing is very sympathetic to Joely’s vocals and perfect for the style of music the pair perform.

Where Wilmor plays a supporting role it is Joely’s vocals that take centre stage.  Make no mistake this girl can sing.  Her voice is incredibly powerful, strong and deep with a three octave range.  At present the pair are covering classic soul and blues songs, a style that seems to suit them both perfectly.  Their set ranged from the contemporary with Amy Winehouse’s ‘Valerie’ to the classic with Frankie Valli’s “Cant take my eyes off you”.  The highlight of the set, at least to th0004Joely & Wilmor_wmis listeners ears, was a fantastic version of Etta James’ “I would rather go blind”.  This really allowed Joely to showcase the amazing power of her voice though to be fair she did put every song over very well.  It is clear that all of the songs are well chosen and well loved.  In many ways Joely reminds me of Alison Moyet, she has a similar look and she certainly has a similar power and range to her voice.  If Wilmor went back to playing keyboards they could be a modern day Yazoo.

I really liked this pair both onstage and off.  They were very good onstage and very friendly and open when I grabbed a few minutes with them after their set.  At present they are honing their craft and building their understanding by performing at open mic’s, weddings and in the pubs and clubs.  This will obviously stand them in good stead as they progress.  Artists like this thou0005Joely & Wilmor_wmgh have a very difficult paradox to overcome.  It is increasingly difficult to get gigs unless you are playing covers but if you want to progress beyond the pub and club circuit and ultimately to make a living from your music you do need to be playing good quality original material.  Joely and Wilmor are in the process of putting some of their own material together and I look forward to hearing it in due course.  I sense that they are enthusiastic and ambitious enough to make the step up to the next level but they will need the material if they are to break out of the cover and tribute scene.  I would love to see them do so and wish them every success.