Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Wonderstuff, Holmfirth Picturedrome

Hunt rocking the Vic Reeves look.
What the hell is wrong with Miles Hunt?

During their pomp (they did have a number one single, you know), a Wonderstuff gig or interview never went by without Hunt spitting out some vicious barbed attack on his contemporaries. Interviews with Hunt were always worth reading, as he couldn't help himself when offered an opportunity to comment on whoever was filling the pages of the NME/Melody Maker at the time, even though he always came across as a bit of a spoilt brat and an unlikeable sort of chap.  So it was very interesting to see Hunt bounce onto the stage this evening with a huge grin on his face and perform a greatest hits set to an up for it crowd as if he was having the time of his life.

With his partner, Erica Nockalls and original band member, Malcom Treece by his side, Hunt joyously belted out songs from the band's first three albums, and instead of firing off insults, he recounted the early days of the band, including a heartfelt tribute to the late, great Kirsty MaColl.  And while anyone turning up to hear that number one single may have been disappointed, the rest of us sang ourselves hoarse to the likes of Welcome to the Cheapseats, Size of a Cow and Golden Green. 

This definitely was a mellower, may I suggest, happier Miles Hunt to the one I saw on the Hup tour in 1989/90 (supported by the Sandkings - who went on to become?) and I felt songs such as A Wish Away and Unbearable were all the better for it. These are songs that should be sang out loud with glee and not shrouded in spite and vitriol. All in all a great night, made all the better by the band appearing to have as much fun playing the songs as we were hearing them again.

The answer to the Sandkings question? Babylon Zoo. A cup of tea and a hobnob to you if you answered correctly.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Velvet Owl Turn Ons - July 2011

The Velvet Owl are making their annual pilgrimage to the Green Man Festival in August, so to celebrate we have handed over the July turn ons selection to our favourite Frenchmen and fellow GM attendee, Cedric Besnard, who has picked out the acts we don't want to miss at the UK's greatest festival.

Having made a possible contender for album of the year, Destroyer's set at GM could be one of those 'get there early to avoid disappointment' affairs even though he is up against the mighty Fleet Foxes on the main stage. Eagle-eyed readers of the VO blog may have noticed that this is the second time the band have featured in our Turn Ons section.

Jack Tatum's Kate Bush covering one-man band should be another big draw at this year's festival. His debut album Gemini featured in Pitchfork's top 50 albums of 2010.

Another one who will no doubt pull in a huge crowd when he headlines the Far Out stage on Sunday evening. Rhys' gig at the Irish Centre in Leeds has also been chosen as the official Velvet Owl night for October so watch out for our review.

Quite possibly the set that will have the whole of Glanusk Park fruggin' like madmen. One not to be missed. 

The unofficial 'Daddy' of Green Man.  Make sure his set is circled in your GM programme.

One of the best kept secrets of the eighties. Morrissey at Glastonbury? Pah! This is the real deal.

The glorious harmonies of TfS will go down a treat whether the sun is shining or the rain is lashing down (like it did last year).

Velvet Owl favourites Y Niwl return to Glanusk Park once again. We're hoping to see the Mucca Mad Boys down the front shaking their tailfeather.  

Psychkrautrock ahoy!

Excellent lo-fi garage rockers from San Francisco should entice a large crowd to hear their Nuggets influenced sound.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Secret Sisters, Norwich Arts Centre

To state the bleedin' obvious, yes, these ladies can sing.  For non-musos like ourselves, the harmonies rang out, the guitar-playing was pitch perfect and the renditions of tunes old and new were incredibly faithful and on the money.  Did that make the gig exciting? An event?  In a word, no. 
If this is your thing, then there was much to savour.  But upon leaving the venue and hearing one attendee comment that "it was ok, but my legs are aching from all that standing up", it was clear that, for some, the Owl included, there was just something missing.  
But by means of a review, that's all you're getting, because the real action happened after the show, when the Norwich Owl members achieved something we thought may be beyond our wildest dreams, and threw down the gauntlet to our friends in the north. In short, we Drank With The Band.  See, while y'all may dream about it, and Nick Hornby may write fiction about it (loser), we actually made it happen as, after some drunken badgering and much promise of us getting a round in, the band (well, one of them.  And the support act) joined us over the road in The Ten Bells, Norwich's finest post-gig boozer, to talk tunes and influences.
At least, that's what happened in our heads, and we are fairly certain that Lydia (our new secret sister) was absolute charm personified, dissecting the night's gig, filling us in on future shows (Hop Farm! We were drinking with royalty!) and letting us in on the glamorous life on the road we always thought was just like  Motley Crue told us it was, only with maybe slightly less shagging. ( It isn't.  It involves Premier Inn.) No, the problem was, the Owl were absolutely twatted, and therefore probably didn't provide the kind of post-gig relaxation our esteemed guests were after.
So, Lydia, if you should read this, then we are sorry.  Sorry for calling you "secret sister", and not Lydia.  Sorry for telling you over and over again that you really should be listening to the new Wild Beasts album, and for insisting that you need to check out the great, wonderful, amazing (etc) Laura Marling.  Sorry for promising to buy you a drink and then having to pool all our change just to make it happen.  Sorry for shouting, ranting, gesticulating and pointing and being unable to maintain an upright posture for very long.  Sorry sorry sorry.
But we remember (we think) a hug as you left us, and a claim that you had enjoyed our company.  So we look forward to doing it again.  And next time?  We won't drink so much.  As long as you don't play "Homeward Bound".


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Spoilt Lincolnian Child & the best of the last 6 months

Funny thing music lists.  Usually end up looking a bit silly a few years down the line as most of these can verify. Either you get it totally wrong or the information is about as inspiring as a Reef reunion. 
My current art concerns the manipulation of banal band information (often discographies/gigographies) creating a new language that is mostly unreadable but still with enough data to make for an interactive spectacle for an audience. These lists are intended to reflect my own concerns with modern social networking and the seemingly impenetrable mush of unnecessary internet nostalgia. However, I am as immersed in internet culture as the rest of us, so until I find a way out I guess I'll continue to pour over missed gigs, Britpop trivia and the setlist of Leeds Festival 2002 and wish I had have chosen to watch Aphex Twin OR Ladytron OR the White Stripes OR ANYTHING ELSE other than Feeder that Friday night.
Who cares what your top ten Fall songs are anyway?

A Snowflake Arrangement of every Stone Roses Concert I Never went to 

Alas, like the beloved internet, too much has already been said so I will keep it brief.  In no more than 5 words (ish) here is a list of my top 10 albums of the year at the midpoint with handy little links:


Sounding ‘refreshingly’ like Loveless 2011

Mogwai: are Slint. . . Again. GREAT.”


“Is ‘gypsy-folk two words?”

Like a clinically depressed CAN” (Not me, Stewart Lee)

Pain. Pain. Never Again.” Lovely

love affair of the decade?

Sonic Mary Dinosaur Chain Youth

Norwich folk drone Fuzz Buttons

And if the list were longer (and in no more than two words) it would also include Echo Lake (Cocteau-Triplets), Esben & the Witch (glorious gloom), Metronomy (seaside bop), Explosions in the Sky (Softly LOUD), the Suede reissues (Britpop Nitrate) and if there has been another Fall album released that I may have missed.

Finally, in no more than one word the last 6 months has seen renewed interest/new found love for Spacemen3 Reccurring (COCK), Boo Radleys Everything’s Alright Forever  (PISS) and Pulp Different Class (PARTRIDGE).

So if I were you and weren’t me and had just over a hundred quid knocking about, I would go and buy the lot. Or at least make a list of every Oasis song that mentions the weather.  Then put it online for all to see. Forever.


An Arrangement of Everyone and Everything that appears on the cover of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

An Arrangement of Every Mogwai song recorded up to March 2011