Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Yuck, Sheffield Leadmill

Unlike The Leisure Society or The Pastels for example, Yuck don't have the kind of band name that I would expect to appeal to the more discerning listener. The onomatopoeic band name would probably be best suited for American college bands who are influenced by underground noiseniks such as Fugazi or Jawbox, and not - as is the case - with a band lumped in with the shoegaze revival. Wearing their influences (Dinosaur Jr, Sonic Youth, Swervedriver) on their sleeves, Yuck's self titled debut album ticked all the boxes for those of us still missing the fuzzy indie sounds of the nineties, and the number of 'older' heads in attendance tonight, suggests it was very much welcome. Album standout tracks 'The Wall' and 'Georgia' come far too early in the set for my liking, but this is a minor gripe as 'Get Away' and 'Rubber' that close the show sound incredible. Reports suggest the band have been below par on other legs of the tour, but tonight there was an energy and fizziness about Yuck, that even the two goons behind us chatting about the Great British Bake-Off final couldn't spoil.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dad Rocks! Olive's Coffee Shop, Norwich

In a bid to extend the Norwich Owl's range of gig venues, November's gig sees us treading the boards at one of the city's premier coffee houses.  Yes, you read that right, we are at the home of frothy macchiatos and cinnamon syrup. Not, you would imagine, a place where rock and roll dreams come true.  And if you think that, well, you'd be right...This is awful.
Arriving in a painfully quiet venue, with four quid bottles of ale freely available, the Owl are treated to the acoustic stylings of support act Shoes and Socks Off, who consist of a beanie-hatted Badly Drawn Boy lookalike playing the sort of acoustic meanderings that merely start and end, with little in the way of tune and melody to draw us in.  The theatre-like surroundings merely add to the "difficult" nature of the gig, with only a mid-set trip to the toilet from one of our number adding to the excitement levels, as the sound of piss hitting pan detracts from the dirge being served up stage-front. 
But we remain positive, and as the similarly dreadfully-monikered headliner takes to the stage, we await confirmation that all is not lost.  And, predictably, we are left disappointed by a set heavy on proficient strumming, but light on inspiration and anything in the way of a tune.  And throughout the whole thing, we are scared to breathe for fear of upsetting the six people ahead of us who are finding the event enlightening.  Guess there's no accounting for taste.
In short, coffee shops are not the place where the zeitgeist is to be found, and as the evening progressed, the chap to our right who snoozed on a sofa throughout the show, increasingly seemed to have the best seat in the house.  Avoid.


Friday, 11 November 2011

Gruff Rhys, The Cockpit, Leeds

With three albums and now the inaugural Welsh Music Prize under his belt, Super Furry Animal front man, Gruff Rhys, is starting to establish himself as a solo artist of some note. As he strides out onto the stage this evening - bedecked in a crumpled white suit - Rhys appears relaxed and eager to entertain. Backed by the cracking support band Y Niwl, Rhys' thick tones help whisk the audience away into a world of myths, legends, car journeys and soap operas. The use of projected images and comedy 'applause' placards add to Rhys' eccentricity, which is lapped up by the small but devoted crowd. Live, songs from the new album, Hotel Shampoo, such as Honey All Over and Shark Ridden Waters, are a little scruffy around the edges, but this adds to the DIY feel to the gig. However, it is the enthusiastically received finale of Candylion's Skylon - including a mid-song recap 'pilot foils the bomber, gets the girl' - that shows off Rhys' skill as a songwriter and performer. Tonight was not about the full-on, psychedelic, soundclash that we have come to expect from a SFA show, but a stripped back, sometime shambolic, but often mesmerising performance from Wales' new national treasure.