Archive | August, 2011

Live Review: Washed Out

16 Aug


Haunt: Wednesday, August 10 2011

If, like me, the music media tag ‘chillwave’ makes you want to kick a child, then there’s a chance the talents of one its pioneers, Ernest Greene, aka Washed Out, have passed you by.

Not only does ‘chillwave’ sounds like the music of choice for people who are one stressful day away from buying a panpipes CD, but it’s also woefully inadequate when it comes to describing Washed Out’s bolshie live sound. This wasn’t laid-back, it was a heady, intoxicating mix of Balearic beats and booms, polished samples and enchanting vocals.

For someone who once doubted if his admittedly hazy bedroom-created songs could successfully be played live, on stage Greene is full of energy and confidence as he and his band genre-hop at will and brazenly mash together influences.

There’s a reggae-centred number which fuses a mass of clattering cymbals with a louche, looping rhythm, a cast-iron dance anthem which morphs into an 80s Springsteen-style finale (don’t knock it until you’ve danced to it), and a hip shaking stomper that sounds like the Pet Shop Boys having a late-night scuffle with OMD before Underworld put the boot in and finish them both off.

There’s also a couple of fuzzed-up, floor-fillers with hooks so sharp they’d snare the most jaded, worn-out raver at five in the morning and a thudding final track which appears to have kidnapped the tune of Dubstar’s Not So Manic Now and pumped it full of Red Bull.

They’ve nailed their live act, let’s hope they can one day capture its energy and fun in the studio too.


Live Review: Chris Simmons

16 Aug

Pavilion Theatre, August 6, 2011

Sussex singer-songwriter Chris Simmons will never play to a more supportive crowd than that at the Pavilion Theatre.

The partisan audience – here to celebrate the launch of his album – had to be told to pipe down so he could start his set.

Accompanied by a string quartet and a three-piece backing band, he wasted little time in repaying the abundance of goodwill.

The Watchmaker – written with Chris Difford from Squeeze – was a no-holds barred depiction of the sorrows of everyday life. By far his strongest song lyrically, it picked apart the seams of its characters’ lives like Brett Anderson did in his prime.

Simmons vocal style, however, is far removed from the Suede frontman’s occasional operatics; it’s richer, velvet-like and on most songs, more akin to a soothing lull.

There’s plenty of inter- song banter to enhance the party atmosphere with Simmons’ picking out his mates’ shouts – ‘that was Swanny’, he told us at one point.

He also got the audience to provide a rudimentary hand-clap rhythm, but probably quickly wished he hadn’t. ‘You’re the tightest rhythm section ever’, he said, tongue firmly in cheek.  Other highlights included Written Request, which could easily have been on Damien Rice’s majestic debut album O, and Accelerate – the one track where he really let’s his voice rip and it’s all the better for it.

The commercial difficulty Simmons might have is that he doesn’t offer anything markedly different from the likes of Rice, David Ford and the late Matthew Jay.

That said, it’s not bad company to keep, is it?

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