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Live: Tom McRae and the Artistes of Hotel Cafe at the Islington Academy – 28th November 2006

By on Wednesday, 29th November 2006 at 1:53 pm

“Tonight is all about something that doesn’t happen enough these days – Musicians helping each other” announced Tom McRae last night as the Hotel Café tour rolled into London after a year long tour of the USA. The feeling was great: a series of artists who are all too small on their own to undertake a full UK tour, but altogether they have the ability to sell out a venue in days.

Taking a revue style to the evening, Tom opened proceedings at 8:30, and we then witnessed an amazing 2 hours and 40 minutes of non stop music. No lengthy change over’s with houselights up, we’re talking one person walks off as the next comes on, with different people joining in on different tracks when they felt the urge to, before “we start to bump each to each other, drop guitars, and generally run headlong into chaos until someone makes us leave the stage”.

First song, Hawaii and the sound goes halfway through. No problem: he just keeps on strumming and talks to the crowd, explaining the tour and how the evening is going to work. One more song and he’s off, to be replaced by Steve Reynolds, who has a voice that sounds like he’s lived in a musty back-street pub for most of his life. Two songs from Steve, and he’s quickly replaced by Joe Purdy, who has, quite frankly, legendary facial hair (which leads to a comment from Tom that he “shaves once a month and if Joe doesn’t for an hour he ends up like this….”). Joe Purdy managed to be a skilled guitarist and harmonica player, a genius if ever there was one. Next up was Cary Brothers, who was one of the main reasons I had been to see the evening: his two songs “Ride” and “Blue Eyes” are some of the best around. He played “Ride” first then “Honestly”, both from his forthcoming album next year.

Then we had a very nice surprise: Aqualung. In the spirit of the real Hotel Café in LA, bands are quite welcome to turn up and play a few songs, or just sit around and get trashed with the other artists. Aqualung came and played a new song and then “Brighter than Sunshine” – just fab, and they stuck around to play keys on “Blue Eyes” later in the evening.

After this point things got a bit blurry: the artists came back on, joined each other, did different songs, until about 10:50 when Tom came back, did “Silent Boulevard”, “Boy with the Bubblegum” and “My Vampire Heart”. By this point everyone was in very high spirits, and things were getting a bit more ragged, but still very coherent, and had everyone in the crowd in exceptionally high spirits not seen since the Pipettes swept through the capital.

All in all an excellent evening of entertainment, well worth the money: not many bands this year put on 2 hours 40 minutes of non stop music: they’re playing at Kings College Student Union next week, so go and see Tom and the artistes of the Hotel Café: it’s well worth the money, and you will have one of the best evenings of the year.


Live: Thirteen Senses – Luminaire 13th November 2006

By on Tuesday, 14th November 2006 at 7:29 pm

Monday night saw Thirteen Senses play the second of their three dates at The Luminaire in Kilburn, and were on top form ahead of their exciting 2007 plans.

Opening up were two fifths of Newsum Turn, who quite simply are ones to watch in 2007. Imagine a bigger Coldplay with more layers and a cheeky smile and you’ve got Newsum. If they’re not big in coming months, things aren’t right in this world. From their opening “Take a Bow” to their closer of “Home” they just blew everyone away – they were just as good as Thirteen Senses, and could have played more than their six songs for people and we’d still have enjoyed.

9:30 rolled round and Thirteen Senses came on, launching straight into “Contact”, and moving through their set at a decent pace. The band filled the small Luminaire with sound, making everyone feel like they’re down the front, and a real family feeling. Their new songs feel like they could make everyone at Wembley feel cosy and involved, and are truly epic. “Spirals” was a masterpiece, as was their forthcoming single “All the Love In Your Hands”.

Towards the end of the set they played “History” from their debut album, which, having not heard it before live, was just pure bliss. Angelic vocals, amazing guitars and keys, collectively combined for the penultimate song. The closing song of the set was new one “Ones and Zeros”, another anthemic song from the four-piece from Cornwall.

Overall Thirteen Senses seem to be on top of their game at the moment, and look sure to storm the UK next year with the absence of Keane and Coldplay et al releasing albums, so watch out for these boys storming the album charts soon!

Thru The Glass
Follow Me
Call Someone
Do No Wrong
Under The Sun
A Lot of Silence Here
Into The Fire
All The Love In Your Hands
Final Call
Ones and Zeroes


Scissor Sisters – Ta-Dah

By on Friday, 10th November 2006 at 2:31 pm

Quite possibly New York’s campest band, the Scissor Sisters have returned with a triumphant second album that is almost as enjoyable as their debut spectacular. None of the traditional pitfalls of having a second album are evident, even though the band went through a tough time with two close friends passing away during the recording of it. This is reflected in some of the downbeat songs, however the album is still a masterpiece of camp party anthems.

Opening up with their first UK number 1, “I don’t feel like Dancin'”, the album gets off to an incredibly strong start, with a catchy disco strut and a distinctly psychedelic feel that is replicated in the video. The song was co-written with Elton John, one of their many star-friends, and his influence is very obvious throughout both this and the other track he co-wrote, “Intermission”.

“She’s My Man”, the second track of the album is another disco stomper, perfect for a satirical Halloween or a debauched night out on the town: it would have been perfect for the zombie killing scene which uses “Don’t stop me now” in “Shaun of the Dead”. “She’s My Man” then moves into “I Can’t Decide”, a more downbeat song, quite a British sounding song, reminiscent of 1920’s songs played on the pier on the beach (although a somewhat debauched version!)

“Lights” reminds us of the Beegees “Stayin’ alive”, with a great disco-strut that would challenge the Begees in a dance-off. Fifth track, “Land of a thousand words” is reminiscent of “Mary” from the first album, and is set to be their second single from the album. It is a bit more epic than “Mary” was, with a bigger crescendo, and is one of the standout tracks of the album (however, at this point of the collection every track is a stand-out one). This is closely followed by “Intermission”, a complete change in style for the Sisters. Most reviewers have slated it, but I love it: it’s simple, colourful, reminiscent of “The Wizard of Oz”, and a very welcome departure from the normal.

“Kiss You Off” is the last of the “singles” quality material on the album, with a distinctive argumentative / two sided feel to it, akin to “Filthy / Gorgeous” from the first album, with a slightly angry feel to it, but still a great song for it: live it’s great, with Ana giving it the full strength of her voice.

“Paul McCartney” is a great song, instantly danceable to, with a distinctive urgency that means you can’t stay still whilst listening to it. Pure genius, mixed in with Jakes and Ana’s banter in the middle 8. “The other side” sees the scissors go back to pure mushroom induced psychcadelia, slow, and the layers of Del’s guitar shine through, adding extra depth to the swirling nature of the layers.

“Might tell you Tonight” has a feel similar to “Intermission”, and is one of the weakest tracks of the album, being a sort of “Scissor Sisters” by numbers. Final track of the album, “Everybody wants the same thing” was debuted at London’s Live8 gig last summer and is a typical Scissor Sisters track: memorable, hummable, camp, and genius.

Overall their second album is just as strong as their debut album, if not stronger. More consistent in quality, and a great one for warming up for a night out, this album only shows off the growth from the Sisters, and if they continue like this they’ll be filling mega-stadiums weekly in a few albums time.


Live: The Feeling – Shepherds Bush Empire – 2nd November 2006

By on Friday, 3rd November 2006 at 8:32 pm

Last night saw the first evening of The Feeling’s three night stand in London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, and the culmination of a year’s explosive growth for the typically British lads.

Opening for the evening was Luke Toms, a rather vibrant guy with an interesting support band that looks something like Napolean Dynamite wannabes. His (rather scary) ‘tash reminded us of a fair ground entertainer in the mid 1920’s, but on the whole were quite a melodic bunch, if a bunch of outcasts. They sounded quite similar to the Feeling, but a bit more extravagant, and had a hint of Magic Numbers around them. Could be one to watch next year!

Then a few minutes past nine the whole stage went dark and the intro tape kicked in, for The Feeling to bound on stage to “I want You Now”, and the crowd erupted. Dan Gillespie Sells was clearly on top form, and wouldn’t stop proclaiming his love for being back in London, after spending months touring the USA and Canada. He introduced us to his mum up on the balcony, who was having a very good time, giving most of us younger people a run for her money with her dancing and screaming skills.

They ripped through their set, going at breakneck speed through their album, playing Sewn very early and spacing the hits a nice distance apart. Strange was introduced by referring to the band as a bunch of oddballs, and was a great rendition. Before “Rose” Dan explained that “some people think this song is about confused sexuality, some people think this is a song about red wine… I’ll let you decide what it’s about”, which was quite amusing, and made us realise the several different interpretations of a song there might be. Throughout the set they were always polite, and very British: looking after the audience, following the corporate line: they almost seemed like a boyband, indeed much of what they did could be said to be very similar to McFly.

After Rose came a bit of a surprise: a cover of “Video killed the Radio star” by the Buggles, which was very camp but very enjoyable. “Fill my little world right up” took several attempts to get right for Dan, deciding that it was his guitar that didn’t sound right, before getting off to a stonking start, that could have closed the set. Instead, they played on and rounded off with “Love it when you call,” their new single. At first we thought that would be it, with no encore, but Dan crept round the front of the stage to come up, hidden from most of the audience’s sight and do the album closer “Blue Picadilly”, which was pretty awesome, and very melodic.

Overall they put on a very entertaining evening, though very corporate line-toeing, but good family friendly entertainment: their songs are ace, easy listening stuff, but aren’t going to be setting the world on fire with controversy or genius lyrics.


El Presidente

By on Sunday, 22nd October 2006 at 4:33 pm

Debut album from Scotland’s El Presidente is quite possibly the campest release of the last year, with their album sounding a mix between Prince and the Beegees. Oh yes, it’s really that good. The band beat other Scottish bands Franz Ferdinand and KT Tunstall to the title of most stylish Scottish Band of the Year in 2005, however one wonders if this might have taken priority over the music, which whilst incredibly catchy and memorable, isn’t anything particularly memorable.

First song “Without you” starts with brilliant and instantly memorable drums and guitars, before falling into an unfortunate repetitive and extremely catchy chrorus.

“Rocket” can get a bit grating and repetitive, but is still a great disco song with a catchy guitar and effects.

“Count on me” has some of the highest vocals possible by a guy, and Dante’s voice will have you either hooked on the album or loathing it, unable to listen anymore past the end of the track.

“If you say you love me” reminds me of some cheesy mid 90’s boy-band / girl-band choreographed dancing, however much like those mid-90’s bands, you can’t help but be addicted to it: you can imagine 12 year old girls dancing to it, and radio stations loving it.

Much of the album could be used in an expensive stage musical, with a massive carefully choreographed cast dancing to tracks like “Hangin’ Around” (could fit into Bugsy Malone extremely easily) “Old Times”.

So much like a sickly sweet desert, you know its not any good for you, but just can’t stop listening. It’s memorable, yet so cheesy and camp it hurts.


Mew – And the Glass Handed Kites

By on Sunday, 24th September 2006 at 10:45 am

Mew have never been a band to be hastened, never ones to hurry up and “burst onto the scene” a la Artic Monkeys, Killers, James Blunt. They released their debut album in 1997 but only started getting critical acclaim in 2003, and since then have been on triumphant tours with REM and Bloc Party, whilst quietly building a large fanbase.

In line with this, when I first listened to “And the Glass Handed Kites” I found it unlistenable. Hated it. Just as I was prepared to write my first sominty review that slates a band outright, I gave it another go. And found it grew on me. So I postponed reviewing it for another week, during which time it’s just grown and grown on me.

Opening with “Circuitry of the Wolf” the album gets off to a rocky beginning, slowly climbing into a massive crescendo that climaxes at the start of “Chinaberry Tree”. Whilst lead singer Jonas Bjerre’s lyrics are sometimes hard to distinguish, they do add to the epic nature of the album, and if you just let them fall over you his lyrics become an extra, vibrant instrument.

“Special” is the most radio-friendly track of the album, and as such its disco-stomp will either be your favourite track of the album, or your most hated as its not as orchestral as some tracks, but is immediately hummable.

Many of the songs fade into each other with no distinguishable gap between them, showing that the album is designed to be listened to in one sitting and viewed as one epic piece of work, and as such its all the stronger: it sounds like one prolonged soundtrack, telling the story of some epic journey across treacherous seas and mountainous terrain. As such, “Special” blurs into “Zookeeper’s Boy” where Jonas’ voice comes into its own: Sounding confident, yet still quiet and gentle he manages to get some truly ingenious lyrics out: “But if there’s a glitch, You’re an ostrich, You’ve got your head in the sand”.

Whilst the first half of the album may be more immediately accessible, its second half can be more rewarding to the more long term listener. Layers of music and lyrics build and wash over the patient listener, the most obvious example being “Louise Louisa”, with its multiple parts allowing for a more epic ending to the album.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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