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Live Review: City Reign at Kentish Town Bull and Gate – 19th November 2011

 
By on Monday, 28th November 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: I would have gotten this review on the site earlier, had I not succumbed to some sort of cold / lurgy that took me out of commission for a couple gigs and that made me lose my voice (!) so apologies. Photos now on here as of 03/12/2011…

Due to planned engineering works over the weekend (thanks every so much, TFL) I arrived just in time for Manchester-based four-piece City Reign‘s set but missed both the openers. Next time. But no matter: as you probably have guessed if you’ve read my coverage on them, I was really there for the headliner. I feel a bit smug to say that I tipped this band nearly a year before Steve Lamacq did; these days you can hear the band’s single ‘Making Plans’ on his 6music drivetime programme. Firstly though, I want to clear up a few things that were explained to me in detail on this evening. I had thought there were 2 bandmates from London and two from Manchester: false. Singer/guitarist Chris Bull and guitarist Michael Grice are from London, that is true. Bass player Michael Glaze is from Brum and not Manchester; their new drummer Duncan Bolton is not English at all, he’s Scottish! This all came down to me as a startling revelation, but I suppose if you consider that Manchester is a hotbed of creative musical energy drawing young, eager musicians like moths to a flame, it’s not surprising they ended up in Manchester and quite happily so.

City Reign have a new EP out called ‘Numbers for Street Names’, released this past Monday (21 November) so essentially this show was the London launch party. ‘Making Plans’ is the most recognisable tune by far on this night (not surprising with the plays it’s gotten so far on 6) and it goes down a treat (watch it below). Being a ‘young’ band they haven’t been around all that long, so their set, while sounding great, is too short. Here’s to hoping to more songs being written, recorded and released to the general public very shortly.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnWCwZ265zM[/youtube]

After ‘Daybreak’ received a rapturous reception, the band paused. That was all that was on their original set list. But then Bull quipped, “since you were all so well behaved and you’re nice to your mothers”, they were going to give us another song. Called ‘Tired Eyes’ (I think that is the name; I didn’t recognise the title), it was a nice way to end a rousing and spirited night.

It was obvious that this London hometown crowd have adopted “City Reign! La la la!” as their fight anthem. I don’t think you really have arrived until you have your own football chant. Maybe “arrived” is the wrong word. City Reign are here and I hope they will be around for a long, long time.

 

Live Review: I Dream in Colour with Heroics and Anchor and the Wolf at Kentish Town Bull and Gate – 18th November 2011

 
By on Monday, 21st November 2011 at 2:00 pm
 

My first gig in Kentish Town, at a Club Fandango night at the Bull and Gate, allowed me to make a comparison between a small DC venue like DC9 to this similar one in North London. I can say for certain that the sound system at the Bull and Gate is incredible and blows our venues out of the water, even the ones that are twice its size (sorry, Washington) and aesthetically, the lighting options are a lot better as well. But enough with the pedantic, jaundiced eye: you’re here to read about the I Dream in Colour gig you couldn’t get into, because it was sold out, right? I have come to your aid, even if I was running on 3 hours of sleep and I nearly walked into a wall down a corridor towards the Northern line (why didn’t anyone warn me that changing from the Central to Northern line required heading down a corridor that has a slanted floor? Not good for someone still woozy from motion sickness medication, but I digress…)

The openers’ band names are a good study on how to (or not to) come up with a proper name for a band. Heroics were up first; their name conjures up good deeds of Biblical proportions like David taking down Goliath. Or maybe something closer to home, like the art of sport and competition with respect to next summer’s Olympics. In the right light, the lead singer ** looks like Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, and this band plays likable indie rock. I’m guessing the folks milling about in the bar directly outside the performance room would have really liked them, if they gave this band half a chance. What was heard was pretty good for a band I’d never heard of; with their energy, they sound like they could be a commercial hit, if promoted properly. They have an EP out on the 8th of December, so keep an eye on these guys.

Portsmouth’s Anchor and the Wolf, on the other hand, has a name that makes you wonder if they consulted a clairvoyant when pressed for a name. Are we supposed to believe that the backing band is the anchor, and the singer out front is the wolf? Or vice versa? And what is a predatory wild animal doing with something that belongs deep in the ocean, anyway? Zoe Mead sings like she’s trying to be Adele, which seems strange given the context: she plays acoustic guitar and xylophone and wears denim shorts Adele would never be caught in. But there’s also an element of Alessi Laurent-Marke (Alessi’s Ark), if she’d gone more rock. The xylophone of course is prominently placed front and centre, but sadly it’s more of a gimmick than anything else, not adding anything of value to their performance. “Only love can set you free”? Can we say ‘cliché’?

Of course everyone has come out to the Bull and Gate for tonight’s headliners. This is the closest to a hometown gig for these boys from Essex, and there are plenty of loud and proud family and friends in the audience. What is interesting (or disappointing, depending on your musical taste) is the band’s progression to a more commercial sound. ‘Get Along’ (video at the bottom of the main part of this post), one of the band’s earliest songs, has a bit of country twang with indie rock. But newer track (and freebie as a former MP3 of the Day here) ‘Long Cold Lonely Winter’ has the band, at least according to a punter that wished to remain anonymous, “sounding more like Coldplay”. What drew me first to the band was the power chords and heavy guitars (say hello to guitarist Michael Thackeray’s pedal board, which is probably as wide as I am tall) and while I like piano in rock music surely and am not against it, if I Dream in Colour is going this direction, they’re heading into what is already a very crowded market, going against behemoths Keane and Chris Martin and co. (My guess is that if Tom Chaplin makes good on his wish to work with Kanye on the next Keane album and continue the way of last year’s ‘Night Train’ (EP review here), IDIC will fill in their vacated spot easily.) But I will say that Richard Judge’s songwriting, indicated by hearing bits and bobs of demos he’s worked on with just his voice and the keys, will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.

We’re here tonight for the single launch party for ‘Strangest Place’, another piano-led track. Still, it is clear that their fans, widely ranging in age from uni kids to people in their 40s and 50s and refreshingly, an even mix of males and females (usually a rarity at male-heavy rock gigs and female-heavy pop gigs), like the way this band is headed and already know every word to every song. For a band who hasn’t even put out a proper album yet, this is very promising, watching everyone clap their hands with frontman Judge’s encouragement. At the end, women vie for half-drunk water bottles, which generally only happen to pinup bands, right? The vibe was so electric that if this band wants mainstream success, it should come. Soon.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QuQiqGHsXW8[/youtube]

After the cut: more photos and set list.
Continue reading Live Review: I Dream in Colour with Heroics and Anchor and the Wolf at Kentish Town Bull and Gate – 18th November 2011

 
 
 

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