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MP3(s) of the Day #804: Little Comets

By on Monday, 6th January 2014 at 10:00 am

It’s January. Have the post-holiday blues got you down? Chin up, because you’re in luck, folks. Little Comets, the band that landed at #1 on my Top Gigs of 2013 list, gave away two lovely acoustic tracks on Christmas Day to their fans. Visit their official Web site to grab special versions of ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Western Boy’.


Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks

By on Tuesday, 17th December 2013 at 11:00 am

2013 did not disappoint to deliver another year of brilliant live performances for me here in America and in Britain. Which shows will I remember the most from 20-13? (I wrote it out that way, because I was told this last time in England that me pronouncing it that way makes it obvious I am an American. Do you reckon that’s true? I’m trying, folks, I’m trying, but as the majority of you know, I am American, born and bred!) Read on about the most exciting shows I’ve been to this year…

5. the 1975 at U Street Music Hall (20th June 2013) – I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the 1975 5 times this year, with 3 of those times in DC, and unusually, the one show that sticks out in my mind among all others is not their largest show in DC, nor their smallest, but the one in between.

The energy at U Street Music Hall, coupled with the screaming fans down the front, made it clear I was witnessing history. So what if “she’s got a boyfriend anyway”? We’ll be singing and bopping to the music like we don’t care, that’s what.

The 1975 Washington June 2013 1

4. Savoir Adore at DC9 (25th September 2013) – DC9 doesn’t have a great reputation for sound quality, but on this Wednesday night, all the stars aligned for a near perfect sounding show, highlighting the shiny, glittery ambiance that Savoir Adore brings to their shows.

Deidre Muro and Paul Hammer now have an impressive back catalogue to draw from, and this was just a wonderful gig to showcase their music, with punters having such a good time dancing to their tunes.

Savoir Adore Washington 2013 live 2

3. the Crookes at Sheffield Shakespeare (19th May 2013) – as the American editor of a UK-centric music site, all too often I’m left banging my head against a table or a wall when I come to the disappointing conclusion that I can’t attend a show I really want to be at. (Maybe one day when I have my own private plane…)

While the travel to Sheff was a pain in the arse – I must have taken the slowest Sunday train known to man from St. Pancras to the North East – and I’d not slept the night before, as John and I had been in Brighton all weekend to cover the Great Escape, it was all worth it for this chance to see one of my favourite bands in a teeny tiny gig in their hometown. As soon as I’d arrived at the place, I knew I’d made the right decision, having been greeted with the singing talents of a good friend wafting ‘Dance in Colour’ out of the top windows of the pub. You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Read my review for further musings.

2. OMD at Gateshead Sage (13th May 2013) – where do you go to see a favourite Northern band when possible? The North, of course. Martin had alerted me ahead of time that the Sage was quite a posh place and to expect people to be dressed fancier than I was used to seeing in clubs.

Hate people talking on their phones at gigs? The Sage has high-tech mobile phone blocking technology. The beautifully lit, swiveling panels suspended in the air above us and the band were awe-inspiring, as were Andy McCluskey’s seemingly inexhaustible singing and dad-dancing talents. ‘Electricity’? Why, yes.

OMD Gateshead live 1

1. Little Comets at the Hamilton (13th August 2013) – for the longest time, it seemed all my music friends had seen this Geordie band live and I hadn’t; further, so many of the bands I was personally friends with either had toured with them or had become friends with them after being impressed by their live show at a festival.

Well, it took 4 long years but I finally got to see Little Comets live, and I’m pleased to report they were well worth the wait. The dinner theatre-style setup of the Hamilton means at most shows, punters will remain sat at their tables, chewing on their tapas. Not this night: with fans shrieking and letting out catcalls of delight, stomping to their favourite songs and singing along word for word to tracks like ‘Isles’, it was definitely a moment in time I will never forget. More of this, please!

Little Comets Washington 2

Honourable mentions:

Franz Ferdinand at Strathmore Hall (17th October 2013) – I was under the distinct impression I would never see Franz Ferdinand live, unless maybe I was lucky enough to catch them at a festival. It had been 7 years since they’d played in DC. Great show punctuated with Alex Kapranos’ Olympic-effort leaps and bounds, and I have to say, you haven’t lived until you’ve been sat next to Nick McCarthy’s extended family at a show. Just saying.

Kodaline at Jammin’ Java (13th October 2013) – it must be nice to be on your first headline tour of North America and arrive in a city to find out you’ve sold out your gig there. I’ve seen quite a few post-gig fan queues in my day, but this one for Kodaline stretched to about forever. We hung around for over an hour and a half, watching the band say hello, sign autographs and take photos with each and every fan that wanted to meet them. If only all bands were as considerate.

the Static Jacks at DC9 (2nd October 2013) – this guys just get better and better every time I see them. They managed to turn a humdrum Wednesday night in Washington into a disco, with appreciative fans cutting a rug to their music. Doesn’t really get any better than that.

Villagers at Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (13th June 2013) – this was the first time I’d see the Villagers full band setup, having only seen Conor J. O’Brien solo in 2010. If you had reservations that ‘Becoming a Jackal’ was a whimper-y kind of record and you weren’t sold on their new direction in ‘{Awayland}’, go see them live now and watch them rock out.

the Joy Formidable at 9:30 Club (21st April 2013) – I prefer to see this Welsh band in smaller, dingier confines because I think their music suits that kind of environment better, but still, this was an amazing show. Hard to believe the first time I saw them was in November 2010, barely filling half of Black Cat Backstage’s capacity of 200.

After the cut: the full list of all the gigs, in reverse chronological order, that I’ve been to in 2013. The runner-up gigs are also marked.

Continue reading Top Gigs of 2013: Editor’s Picks


Live Gig Video: Little Comets perform ‘Jennifer’ in New York City for Relix

By on Friday, 11th October 2013 at 4:00 pm

The North East’s latest act to break America Little Comets, who I had the pleasure to see gig at the Hamilton and chat with when they stopped through DC in August.

Just 2 months after the release of ‘Life is Elsewhere’ on American indie Dualtone Records, they’re coming back this way to America in a couple days, and I couldn’t be happier for them. (Admittedly, I’m just sad they can’t come to Washington again!) Here is live video they’ve shared of their time visiting with Relix while in the Big Apple. Performing ‘Jennifer’ in a water heater shack on a rooftop never sounded so good. Watch the video below.



Little Comets / February 2014 UK/Irish Tour

By on Tuesday, 10th September 2013 at 8:00 am

Those lovable Geordies Little Comets will be getting back on “the touring horse” as they described earlier this week, touring the UK in February 2014. Tickets are on sale on Friday.

I interviewed Rob and Matt from the band when they were in DC for a gig last month; more details on that here.

Wednesday 5th February 2013 – Manchester Academy 2
Thursday 6th February 2013 – Leeds Cockpit
Friday 7th February 2013 – Edinburgh Cabaret Voltaire
Saturday 8th February 2013 – Belfast Limelight
Sunday 9th February 2013 – Dublin Academy
Tuesday 11th February 2013 – Birmingham Library
Wednesday 12th February 2013 – Sheffield Leadmill
Thursday 13th February 2013 – Stoke Sugarmill
Saturday 15th February 2013 – Cambridge Junction
Sunday 16th February 2013 – Brighton Concorde 2
Monday 17th February 2013 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Tuesday 18th February 2013 – Bath Komedia
Thursday 20th February 2013 – London Electric Ballroom
Friday 21st February 2013 – Newcastle Academy


Interview: Rob Coles and Matt Hall of Little Comets

By on Thursday, 22nd August 2013 at 11:00 am

At the outset, the Hamilton, sat just a stone’s throw away from the east side of the White House grounds, seemed like a strange venue choice for Little Comets‘ debut appearance in Washington DC last week. However, it turned out to be a fortuitous stroke of luck, as you will hear in my interview with Rob Coles (lead vocals / guitar / lyrics) and Matt Hall (bass guitar / backing vocals), this allowed the Geordie band to enjoy their performance more, playing in a place where the sound system was excellent, and generally much more excellent than the average British band will play upon their first visit to the Nation’s Capital.

Listen in as the band describes Leeds Brudenell Social Club as “an extremely dilapidated version” of the Hamilton (sorry Leeds); their tumultuous and bizarre record deals; how Rob and Mickey’s moving out of the North East has affected their lives; their involvement with social media and why they would never sign off a Facebook post with “LC HQ”; and much more. Even the legendary touring drummer David “Greenie” Green chimes in on some YouTube videos you need to check out that Rob calls “the dark side of YouTube”. (And one video in particular you probably should, because there is a singing parrot with a death metal band called Hatebeak that I was encouraged to investigate.) And as Greenie likes to say, “have a good time…all the time”. Words to live by, folks, words to live by.

Big thanks to Rob and Matt for chilling with me after the show in DC and being total sweethearts and Steve and Ed for sorting this meeting of the minds that I’d waited 4 long years for. Cheers everyone!


Live Review: Little Comets with the Dig at the Hamilton, Washington DC – 13th August 2013

By on Thursday, 15th August 2013 at 2:00 pm

When you’ve waited nearly 4 years to see a beloved band play, it becomes an event. When it was revealed to me earlier this summer that Newcastle’s Little Comets had signed to Nashville label Dualtone Records and they were coming over for their first headline U.S. headline tour, making a stop in DC, well, putting it mildly, I was beside myself. I wrote this In the Post article on the band’s ‘Adultery’ single in October 2009. That seems like ages ago and to be fair, it really is, as back in those days, I was still pretty new to the music writing business. Little (no pun intended) did I know that on this night, I would be pleasantly surprised by my city’s music brethren.

I’m one of those people that believes in fate and I just got the feeling very early on, even before I’d met them on this night, that they were good people. They have a very good knack on picking good support bands to tour with, and just this year, it feels like a bit more than coincidence they’ve been on tours with or are due to go on tour with bands that are all friends of mine. They toured the UK in April with Sheffield’s Crookes in April, and later this month, they’re doing an intimate (snort) acoustic gig sponsored by Durex in Manchester supported by Bromley’s Van Susans. On Tuesday night, the opening band were New Yorkers the Dig, who I’ve known since they came to DC in February 2010 to support Editors. They would be supporting Little Comets in DC and on the next night at Philadelphia’s North Star Bar.

The Dig Washington Aug 2013 2

How far the Dig have come and how they’ve evolved. Now with two albums (2010’s ‘Electric Toys’ and 2012’s ‘Midnight Flowers’) and an EP ‘Tired Hearts’, I feel like they’re truly coming into their own as the American band poised to hit the big time. (They just supported the Lumineers 3 weeks ago at Merriweather Post Pavilion. You do the math, folks.) While the crowd at the Hamilton generally kept a respectful distance from the band, there was one woman wearing a leopard print bra, holding up a beer can and who appeared to be quite inebriated despite the early starting time of 7:30 PM. She kept yelling and squealing all through their set, including shouting happy birthday at belated birthday boy and bassist Emile Mosseri.

The Dig Washington Aug 2013 1

Besides this one distracting fan, there were clearly other Dig fans from way back who preferred to be seated; they made their presence known by shouting for requests for the band to play songs from ‘Electric Toys’ that sadly went unheeded. Instead, the band focused on songs from the 2012 release, including my personal favourite ‘I Already Forgot Everything You Said’ with its memorably thumping bass line, ‘Animal Screams’ and the dreamy album opener ‘Red Rose in the Cold Winter Ground’. The Dig are a fun band to watch; alternating lead singers Mosseri and David Baldwin have different vocal styles but uniquely compelling voices, and I find myself getting drawn in by their rhythms and my body just naturally goes with them. If you haven’t heard of them yet, have a listen to their music, I’ll bet you they’ll be touring in the UK in short order.

And then for the main event starting at the very early headlining set time of 8:30 PM came Little Comets. Even before they got onstage, there was one part to their stage setup that had me baffled. Hanging from what appeared to be a clothesline that traversed the length of the stage were, stage right to left a shaker gourd, a tambourine shaped like a moon and some kind of metal contraption. These were later employed by the band in a Clock Opera ‘A Piece of String’-kind of fashion at specific times throughout the set. I can’t really explain it any better than that but just imagine a band onstage playing guitars but then manically hitting these things hanging from a clothesline and you can sort of imagine the mental scene.

Little Comets Washington 2

The band began their set with a taster of ‘Bridge Burn’, one of the special tracks added to the American version of Little Comets’ second album ‘Life is Elsewhere’ that will be available to us stateside next week. I think this song is brilliant, so it was with some disappointment that the song was truncated to segue quickly yet seamlessly into ‘W-O-E’, the band’s current single in Britain. When trying to explain to newcomers to Little Comets what they’re about, this is as good an example as any: lyrically erudite words by singer Rob Coles are sung in an distinctive way, backed up by brother and guitarist Mickey and bassist Matt Hall, all accompanied by unique and unpredictable song structures.

Since they’re basically touring this new American release, I was under the assumption that songs from ‘In Search of Elusive Little Comets’, their debut album that went through great birthing pains (thanks a lot, Columbia) wouldn’t even be touched. However, the band next launched into ‘Isles’, with its spelling out of “B-R-I-T-I-S-H British Isles!” chorus. (They skipped the bridge naming so many great British cities, which was a shame.) Afterwards, Rob Coles commented with amusement, “it’s a little bizarre when people know the words…”, referring to the multitudes of fans including myself who were singing along to his every word. To be honest, I was surprised too; the first album was never released here, so I guess those kids got it off iTunes? (Let’s hope…) Song after song was met by admittedly strange whoops of glee from punters, including some that Coles himself complimented as sounding remarkably like that of cats meowing. Yeah, I know….but these fans were doing this out of love for the band and their music, so I’m not going to judge. To each his own!

Little Comets Washington 3

Naturally, the rhythmically jaunty singles of “girls with three syllable names” – ‘Joanna’ and ‘Jennifer’ – went down a treat, as did other upbeat numbers ‘Dancing Song’ and ‘A Little Opus’. The inclusion of ‘One Night in October’ was particularly poignant, as Coles explained it was the first song they’d written in a bedroom back home in the North East and what an amazing thing it was, being able to play this song in a place they never imagined they would ever get to like Washington DC. It reminded me of something that my mother once said to me when I was very young and a massive Beatles fan. I asked her, “why are the Beatles so good?” Her response: “British bands are hungrier. And they have so much more to prove. If they want to come to the United States, they have to work that much harder and be the best.”

At the time and that age, I couldn’t really relate to what she said, but now I’ve come to know this first hand from the bands I now have the pleasure to call friends. It is truth. I’d add to her thoughts that nearly every single band I’ve met from the UK has a huge amount of heart and want so much in those hearts to make their passion for music their lives. Even though the guys of Little Comets have now settled down with partners and have children of their own, they remain uncompromising in their approach to making the kind of music they want to. And to watch them from their humble beginnings to where they are now, living out their dream out here in America, is something very special indeed. Thank you Little Comets, I feel privileged to have been part of your journey.

Stay tuned here for my post-gig interview with Rob and Matt, coming soon on TGTF.

After the cut: Little Comets’ set list.
Little Comets Washington 1

Continue reading Live Review: Little Comets with the Dig at the Hamilton, Washington DC – 13th August 2013


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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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