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Live Review: Frank Turner at Oxford O2 Academy – 20th October 2009

 
By on Wednesday, 21st October 2009 at 1:06 am
 

Frank Turner (side live)Last night was my first Frank Turner live experience. I was pointed in his direction by the marvellous Winston’s Zen earlier in the year, and since then he’s rarely been out of my top 10 last.fm most played artists of the week. Not entirely sure what to expect, I took my sister along to the (jam-packed) Oxford O2 Academy to check him out.

First support was the ace Beans on Toast. Normally first supports are a load of cack, but Beans on Toast rose to the occasion giving a strong collection of amusing anthems that were both topical and entertaining. Though I wouldn’t have minded if he laid off his “I’ve got a GCSE in Crowd Control” spiel which he seemed to use to fill the time between songs.

Next up were Fake Problems. They’ve been on our radar at TGTF for a while, (indeed, Steve reviewed their album back in March), but if I’m honest they just weren’t my sort of thing. Beans on Toast seemed to connect with the crowd much more (at least, from where I was standing near the mixing desk), and Fake Problems just went for the “deafen them into submission” approach. It sort of worked, but just wasn’t my cup of tea. Sorry.

Finally, 9:30 rolled around and Frank came on to one of the biggest cheers I’ve heard since that fateful McFly gig last summer (yes, I still don’t know why I was dragged to see them either…). I always forget just how many amazing songs he has – just about every song on the setlist was a crowd-singalong, from the opening trio of “Live Fast Die Old”, “The Road” and “Long Live The Queen” to the closing bars of “Photosynthesis”.

“Long Live the Queen” morphed itself into a celebration of life rather than the loss of a close one, “The Real Damage” a sing-along that most bands can only dream of, and “Reasons not to be an Idiot” became a jubilant exploration of our faults. Having the audience in his hand, banter was kept to a minimum (other than a quick introduction of his Mum who was watching on the side of the stage), Frank letting his songs do the talking.

Personally, the highlight was was a gorgeous cover of The Postal Service‘s District Sleeps Alone – completely different to his own songs, he re-vamped it and gave it a unique touch. Something I completely was not expecting, and one that summed up my evening.

Unsure of what to expect at the start of the evening, it turns out that Frank Turner may well be one of the UK’s best live performers at the moment. Entertaining, aware of the current climate and talented, he is one guy that I have firmly put on my list of  “bands to see again, and again, and again”, along with Bloc Party, Ben Folds, Idlewild, Friendly Fires and Delays.

Frank Turner‘s UK tour continues till next Thursday, with all dates (except Plymouth) sold out at the moment. After the jump: some pictures.

Continue reading Live Review: Frank Turner at Oxford O2 Academy – 20th October 2009

 

Live Review: Joshua Radin at Oxford Academy – 22nd July 2009

 
By on Thursday, 23rd July 2009 at 12:27 am
 

Meiko (side)When choosing what gigs to go to, two things come into mind for me: do I like their music (i.e. Does it make me feel something / make me want to dance), and live would they offer something more than a CD would? Joshua Radin firmly ticks both these boxes, with a great range of (mostly sad) story telling songs, and live he is funny, witty and engaging – just what I like in a live show.

I’ve only see Josh twice, and both times his support act has given him a good run for his money in terms of talent and entertainment. Last time it was Maria Taylor, tonight it was the rather lovely Meiko (pictured right).

Clearly nervous, she got the applause worthy of a headliner, and had tunes to boot – we’re talking the heart-rending stuff that producers of One Tree Hill, Greys Anatomy and the OC so love. Indeed, her second song, “” was featured on Grey’s Anatomy. Quick witted (her beer fizzed over – “oh well, 3 minutes and it’ll go down. Ohhhh! That’s what she said!!” to much laughter). She had the crowd on side immediately, and seemed genuinely touched at the reaction she got – think a one woman Tegan and Sara, mixed with a hint of Tom McRae and you’re halfway there

Joshua Radin (london live)Then the stage was set for Ohio’s Josh Radin, who, needless to say, did not disappoint, feeding off the audience from the start to give a blistering show. Giving us exactly what we’d come to see, he was both amusing, entertaining and on top musical form. Treating us to some new tracks he’s been writing on the road these past few weeks, they sounded fuller, almost happier than the majority of his two albums. Taking full advantage of the backing of a full band, Josh and the band wasn’t afraid to stretch their legs musically, offering a welcome break from the sometimes morose subject matter.

A quick cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” was a personal highlight – completely acoustic, unplugged (a la Tom McRae’s 2007 rendition of Bloodless in London), along with welcoming Meiko back for “Today”. There’s so much I could talk about, but if I’m not careful I’ll descend into crazy fanboy mode, so just take my word when I say that it was absolutely fantastic.

Finally, it was time for Josh to leave, but not before delivering the great news that he’ll be back in October, playing another UK tour, including a show at London’s Koko and somewhere in Manchester, which will be great to catch him again.

Please note: in a moment of stupidity, I forgot my camera at last night’s gig, so there are unfortunately no pictures (other than some very dodgy phone pics which I won’t be inflicting on you). Apologies. After the jump is the setlist.
Continue reading Live Review: Joshua Radin at Oxford Academy – 22nd July 2009

 

Live Review: Silversun Pickups – Oxford Academy 2 – Monday 6th July 2009

 
By on Tuesday, 7th July 2009 at 12:43 am
 

Silversun Pickups (side)I’m going to keep this short, as I’m no expert on the Silversun Pickups and their music. I caught them tonight at Oxford’s Academy 2, thinking they’d provide a nice 45 minutes or so of music. Instead, they provided an amazing soundscape for almost 100 minutes, merging material from their two albums with a decent sized bit of banter from Brian Aubert and co.

The material from their debut album, Carnavas got the biggest cheers of the night, however their new stuff manages to sound bigger and filled the hot and sweaty venue. Playing over their curfew, it was clear from the off that they were having fun and enjoying their time in the UK.

Support came from Animal Kingdom, who offered a blend of Editors / Athlete / Thirteen Senses stuff, all of which were capably delivered, but a bit bland. Possibly ones to watch once they’ve found their niche.

After the jump: pictures. Silversun Pickups’ UK tour finishes tomorrow night at London’s Heaven.
Continue reading Live Review: Silversun Pickups – Oxford Academy 2 – Monday 6th July 2009

 

Live Review: The Sunshine Underground at Oxford Academy – 5th May 2009

 
By on Wednesday, 6th May 2009 at 12:52 am
 

Sunshine Underground live (side)It’s late 2006 and a friend pushes a CD into my hands. “You’ll love this”, she whispered. Bearing in mind that this same friend had said that I’d love the new Britney album at the time, I wasn’t holding out much hope. However, when I pressed play, The Sunshine Underground blew me away. It was like the early 90s had come back, got good and very very catchy. Sadly I missed them on the NME tour in 2007 when they toured with Klaxons and CSS but finally they decided to come to Oxford, where I caught them tonight.

First, however, we had the sypport, Exit Calm and hotly tipped Boy Crisis

Take the crazy lovechild of The Verve of the mid 90s on their most drug hazed days, kasabian on their most reverb filled days and sigur ros on a very bad day and you end up with Exit Calm. Multi coloured search lights spread out over the Academy 2 (probably better known as the Zodiac for those of you who remember the days before Oxford’s premier music venue was refurbed). Perfectly competent, their 30 minute set featured dreamy, reverb filled numbers and potential titans of the record buying public. The downside? Vocals buried beneath the layers of effects peddles, barely audible. Shame, as I think Nicky Smith probably has some interesting things to say, if only we could hear them.

When Newsweek ran a cover story about falling standards among young men, a problem the magazine attributed to the “biologically disrespectful education system” as well as to the different ways in which male (compared to female) brains are hardwired. Their term for this phenomenon was “Boy Crisis”, and with that passing comment, five Brooklyn based boys thought it would be good to call themselves that, and in the process become a new buzz band of the blogging elite. But after that quick biology lesson, do they live up to the hype? Well, much like MGMT, Hockey, LCD Soundsystem and most US party bands before them, you need to be drunk to get the best out of them. Unlike MGMT and LCD Soundsystem however, when you’re sober Boy Crisis aren’t up to much – fun and funky they maybe, but ultimately they’re a poor younger “me-too” step brother to the indie dance megastars. Feel free to crucify me now, readers of Pitchfork, Stereogum et al.

After a quick clean of the stage, time for the headliners, Leeds based Sunshine Underground. Having overheard someone comment from a fellow audience member about them playing mostly new stuff, I was a tad concerned – most of times that bands do this it’s to show their “radical new direction” that ultimately leads to their lack of a record deal in coming months and a drastically shortened publicity trail and tour. However, it was great to see that this was far from the case.

The vast majority of the songs they played during their 70 minute set were new ones, and whilst I had no idea of the lyrics, they’re frankly amazing. Any band that can get their fans jumping around as much for a new track as their old album tracks is definately on to a winner in my eyes. The old songs took on a bigger sound, fuller and with a few nice changes – “Borders” with a slow and tender beginning before plunging straight in. The new stuff sounds absolutely huge – if their first album was meant to fill pubs and small clubs, their forthcoming album is going to be filling Academies, such is the power – they’re not quite at stadium sized yet, but certainly huge anthems.

“This is “The Way it Is”, and it’s my favourite track from “Raise the Alarm” – FACT!” joked Craig just over halfway through. Not the chattiest frontman I’ve seen, he lets the songs do the talking, with The Way It Is sounding particuarly huge – hypnotic at times, it seems all the “Raise the Alarm” tracks have been given a massive make over to become, well, huge.

Have I expressed my love for these four Leeds lads enough yet? Their second album is sounding amazing from their show at the Oxford Academy, be sure to check them out on tour (though many of the dates are sold out now). They’ll also be blogging their way through their tour on their official website.

MP3: The Sunshine Underground & FC Kahuna – From The City To The Sea

After the jump: More pictures.
Continue reading Live Review: The Sunshine Underground at Oxford Academy – 5th May 2009

 

Live Review: NME Radar tour @ Oxford O2 Academy – 2nd May 2009

 
By on Sunday, 3rd May 2009 at 3:16 am
 

La Roux (live side)It seems you can’t go anywhere these days without La Roux being played or someone proclaiming their love for the duo, or better known to many as simply 21 year old frontwoman Elly Jackson. Catchy, 80’s synth laden mega hits abound – but live can she hack it? She’s currently touring the UK with The Chapman Family, Magistrates and Heartbreak as part of the NME Radar tour.

Sadly we missed the hotly tipped Chapman Family after not getting our heads around the idea of doors at 6:30 and finishing work at 5… Still, the half filled Oxford Academy 2 were well up for Magistrates who ambled on a few minutes after we arrived.

Like Klaxons but fronted by a guy who looked suspiciously like Dr Chase of ‘House’ fame, only the singer really seemed into it – the bassist, drummer and guitarist either need to losen up or get off of whatever fabulous substance they’re on. Producing a brand of perfectly acceptable first album electro pop but nothing amazing, in the long run they may possibly be 2009’s Palladium – some good songs but on balance really rather rubbish.

Next up was European duo Heartbreaks – Freddie Mercury and Mick Hucknell lookalikes, we immediately hated the look of this trio, however they quickly had us coming round with their thumping drums, and amazingly crazy frontman, the Freddie styled, romanian vampire esque Sebastian Muravchix. Struggling at first to get everyone going with their lack of hooks, everyone came around their Justice-lite european charms, resulting in more arms in the air than Magistrates managed. Things are looking good for La Roux if this is what the support bands can do.

She ambled on at 9:20 and did not disappoint. Plunging straight into quicksand it was easy to see that she isn’t jaded yet – still relishing every moment on stage. When someone throws underwear on stage (“and not a boy’s!” she gasped), Elly turns it into a recurring theme of the night, showing that she’s able to hold the crowd in the palm of her hand after so few shows. We were treated to a number of new songs from her forthcoming self titled album, with plenty of between song banter from Elly.

Quite honestly, her hair was amazing. Something that Shockwaves would be in awe at, it fitted in perfectly with Elly’s “budget trousers made for me by a friend”, which were pretty amazing. Asking for the lighters out for “As if by Magic” (“don’t worry, I’ll only take major offence if you don’t have a lighter!), by the halfway mark of the show everyone was in love with La Roux’ anthems. Closing out with the amazing Bulletproof, there was never any question of there being an encore – leaving out “In for the Kill” was just not going to be possible, such was the noise.

There’s no denying that La Roux is going to be a huge star this year, but if you have some spare time definately check out Magistrates and Heartbreak.

After the jump: La Roux’s setlist and photos.
Continue reading Live Review: NME Radar tour @ Oxford O2 Academy – 2nd May 2009

 

Daily Roundup: Friday 23rd January 2009

 
By on Friday, 23rd January 2009 at 8:25 pm
 

Tommy Reilly (side)Just a quick one to round up the week, before we sign off for the weekend.

As we all know, Sundays were made for relaxing. I myself plan on doing absolutely zilch this Sunday – a chance to recharge the batteries and relax. However, this week (for once) there’s a reasonable amount worth watching on TV. If you’re suffering from a hangover after a big Saturday night, why not lie back on the sofar to catch the final of Orange unsignedAct with Sony Ericsson on Channel 4 from 1-2pm, with the results at 2:35pm. It’s between three pretty great artists: Tommy Reilly, Hip Parade and Scarlet Harlots. Read our introduction to the show here, and then our interviews with Hip Parade and Scarlet Harlots to get a picture of what to expect. I’m rooting for Tommy, but who knows who could win!

Later on Sunday evening, MTV One spends a day in the life of Pete Doherty (pictured top), which is quite fun to watch before that dreaded sleep before Monday Morning rolls around again. It’s on at 10pm, and we got a sneak peek last week – full details here.

This week we were fortunate enough to catch the Kerrang tour and In Case of Fire as it pulled into Oxford’s O2 Academy – read our review here. There is a chance that next week we’ll be bringing you a review of Bloc Party at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Before we leave you for the weekend, enjoy the below video. It’s Frank Turner‘s “Reasons not to be an Idiot”. I’m slow on the Frank Turner love train, but he’s realy amazing. Check out the video below, and we’ll catch you next week.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T5NUB1vyu4]

 
 
 

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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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