I’m planning to combine two pastimes and get a bit more into taking photos at some of the gigs I go to through this year. First up Wild Flag who rocked the boat at Thekla on the first night of their UK tour. With low light levels and a lot of movement, gig photography presents some very particular challenges. For this attempt I went with the 5D (classic) and the trusty 50mm f1.8 prime and made sure to get in nice and early to take up a front row position (to the side, away from one of the particular challenges – Big Jeff’s waving arms and hair).
The pick of the results are below. Carrie Brownstein, all lips and hair, was striking a lot of poses which helped to get some good shots! Cranking up the ISO resulted in a fair amount of colour noise which means I’ve converted a lot of them to black and white. I’m quite a fan of the high contrast black and white look anyway (T-MAX style!) so not a big deal.
Right, first gig of the year and an overdue return for me to The Louisiana, a venue I haven’t visited in quite some time for atmospheric folk popster Kyla La Grange.
Joined by a very tight band who were gratefully modelling the “free shit” they’d received from their sponsors for the night – purveyors of over-priced knitwear, Lyle & Scott – parts of this gig were also being filmed for Channel 4 so expect to see the bouncing hair of Big Jeff on your TV some time soon!
It’s a shame that at The Louisiana the ceiling is so low that the stage level is only slightly higher than the crowd so that even just a few rows back my view was quite obstructed by the people in front of me. On the plus-side the sound was excellent for such an awkward room.
Musical highlights for me were Been Better and Heavy Stone and I was disappointed not to hear You Let It Go but I imagine it’d be difficult to play live. SoundClouds below and more here…
Probably still best known for adding her distinctive vocals to Damien Rice’s albums O and 9, Lisa Hannigan has since been carving out a singer-songwriter career of her own and stopped off at St George’s last night as part of a tour promoting her latest album Passenger.
Following an impressive warm up by band-member Gavin Glass, Lisa took to the stage with the rest of an extensive band, who would spend the rest of the evening switching between an even more extensive array of instruments.
A few songs in I began to wonder whether Hannigan could really cut it as a solo artist. Her soft and floaty voice worked brilliantly as a counterpoint to Rice’s on the albums they made together but without that interplay it did feel for a while that something was missing. However, what also became apparent is that with her husky, airy voice at the lower end of her range, shiny youthfulness at the top end and a constant playful oscillation between the two through, it didn’t really matter what she was singing about, or even if there were lyrics at all, it was all beautiful sounds.
Musical highlights for me were unfortunately probably the highlights from the first album Sea Sew rather than the new stuff – Venn Diagram and Pistachio for example.
As Glass pointed out during his short support set, St George’s is a great venue for the style of music they were bringing. The devil may have all the best tunes but “Jesus has all the best venues”. However, as the evening progressed and the band got into the swing I found myself wishing that I wasn’t hearing this in the middle-class, Radio 2 surroundings of St George’s but instead a crowded country pub on the rainy Irish coast with a whiskey. This is music to sit by the fire with.
Despite comparisons with Laura Marling (who sold out Bristol Cathedral earlier this month) and her music being featured as the theme tunes for two BBC dramas (The Shadow Line and Wallander) it seems like the word about Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo playing The Fleece last week didn’t get out to the right people.
Despite the venue offering free tickets through the mailing list and Twitter, the size of the audience would probably be classed as “slightly disappointing”. It’s a shame because those of us that were there were treated to a set full of whimsical lyrics sung in beautiful harmonies by Emily and the three other women that make up The Red Clay Halo. On the plus side the small crowd in attendance were certainly appreciative (with none of the murmur of chatter from the back that usually plagues quieter Fleece gigs) and the enthusiasm of the applause after each song felt almost apologetic that Bristol hadn’t been able to turn out a few more punters.
Musical highlights for me were Pause and Bones and generally I preferred the slightly heavier songs for which Emily switched to electric guitar (a rather pretty semi-hollow Tele). Bristolian Jo Silverston’s cello playing also made me wish I hadn’t given up on that so easily at school!
I appreciate the diversity of acts that The Fleece tend to put on but I don’t think it was the right place for this band. I suspect somewhere more likely to appeal to the Radio 2 crowd, like St George’s or the Folk House, would be a better choice of venue for a return visit. I would have preferred to have been sitting down with a coffee for this one rather than standing up drinking Red Stripe!
Last night’s entertainment was a sold out Benjamin Francis Leftwich gig at The Fleece with support provided by Daughter. I would’ve liked a longer set from Daughter and actually was in the mood for something a bit heavier overall but here’s my two highlights… (there’s more Daughter here if you want it!)
I saw Dave Hause and others on The Revival Tour at the Academy last week. Since then I’ve been enjoying his album, Resolutions. Here he is with Chuck Ragan’s fiddler and double bass player (who has an awesome moustache)…