Archive | April, 2013

Adam Green and Binki Shapiro – Live

19 Apr


The Haunt: Monday, April 15 2013

It’s a sad state of affairs when most of the hype around this gig centred on whether Macaulay Caulkin – whose only claim to fame since Home Alone appears to be escaping unscathed from Michael Jackson’s bed – would again join Green and Shapiro on stage.

He finally appeared for the climax – a chaotic cover of the Beach Boy’s Kokomo – which judging by the number of camera phones that were whipped out was probably the highlight for two thirds of those here. Which was a shame, because the NY (him) and LA (her) duo don’t really need cheap or wacky stunts to attract attention – they’ve already got enough quirks and quality to stand out from the crowd.

The set was interspersed with several of Green’s anarchic solo offerings, allowing him to ditch his acoustic guitar and unleash his hyped-up Cocker-esque moves, complete with flailing limbs, cheeky shimmies and hand gestures like a deranged puppeteer – but the undoubted highlights were when they combined to perform songs from their first collective, self-titled, release.

The dual vocals on the classical 60s pop noir of the likes of Pity Love and Just To Make Me Feel Good were perfectly complimentary – with his deeper burr a perfect foil to her winsome peaks – while their toing and froing on Casanova would make a fine soundtrack to a deliberately hammy prom night movie.

Just keep Caulkin out of the camera shot, though, or it would probably end up going straight to DVD.


Boothby Graffoe: Nomad. No Sane Either – Live

19 Apr


Komedia: Thursday, April 11 2013

Boothby Graffoe is a master of contradictions, simultaneously acting the comic clown while effortlessly spinning the plates of wry observational humour and improvised wit.

You are never quite sure which tangent he’s likely to go off on next. And part of his charm is that it doesn’t look like he does either.

It’s all for show though, because there’s no way he could skip from musings about the downgrading of the economy, talking rabbits and dodgy uncles in the space of 30 seconds – and make it work – if it wasn’t painstakingly constructed.

Graffoe is probably best known for his off-kilter musical offerings, and he didn’t disappoint in this regard either. ‘Hartlepool’ reflected on the hanging of a monkey in the town during the Napoleonic War – complete with some fine audience participation – while the animal theme continued with the absurd ‘Baseball Playing Spider’ – “he was afraid of killing Arabs, he was Iraq-no-phobic”.

It’s his ability to mix the weird and wonderful with some cutting comment that makes Graffoe a real treat, though.

Imagining the privatisation of the police, he said dialling 999 would lead to a recorded message stating “press one if you are being attacked; press two if you are being attacked by a man with a weapon; or get the attacker to press three if you think fingerprints would be useful in this case.”

Everyone here would have liked the option of pressing four to listen to Graffoe again.

Alan Francis – Live

3 Apr


Komedia: Friday, March 29, 2013

Alan Francis is the least flashy comedian you are likely to see.

The veteran Scottish stand-up doesn’t do bravado or theatrics – instead he delivered a beautifully crafted comedic monologue that railed against the many things that get his goat.

Some of the subjects  have been done to death for years – such as suicide bombers, automated toilet doors on trains and the march of technology – but Francis’ mastery of language, story-telling skill and eye for the absurd managed to make any stale subject matter fizz.

His take on phone sex, for instance, eschewed the predictable gags and instead imagined Alexander Graham Bell making the first seedy call, while a rant against the tyranny of email ended with him composing a spam telegram.

Politics, however, is his main passion and he berated all of the parties for wasting what he said should be a golden age for everyone. In a succinct and withering indictment of the political class, he admits to preferring Ed Miliband over David Cameron, but only in the way he prefers “hard shit over diarrhoea”.

Despite his evident discontent, he avoided slipping into grumpy old man territory by maintaining an overwhelming sense of optimism – typified by an impassioned piece of oratory in praise of the kids who took part in the Occupy protests.

At a time when any rent-a-gob in a pair of skinny jeans can get on the television, Francis’ considered insights and intelligent musings are the perfect antidote.

Stornoway – Live

3 Apr


Concorde 2: Wednesday, March 20, 2013

There are more instruments on Stornoway’s stage than on display in the Shoreditch branch of Cash Converters; there’s everything from the standard guitars, drums and bass to mandolins and a mass of keyboards, violins and a double bass.

If you’ve got them, you might as well use them, especially when you are a bunch of sickeningly talented multi-instrumentalists who at times tonight seamlessly fused the artistry of true craftsmen with some stomping, crowd-pleasing tunes.

At other times, though, they could frustrate the hell out of you with songs that would require CPR for a week to get going.

The fact they knew how to play was instantly evident to the sell-out crowd as they entered the stage to the stirring violin beginnings of recent single Knock To The Head until it was skillfully submerged by deep bass drum booms and singer Brian Briggs’ punchy acoustic guitar.

The more demonstrative The Coldharbour Road was also dispatched with aplomb , powered by some echoey drums and additional beats created by one of the band hitting a handheld wooden concoction that looked like it had been made on Blue Peter while the presenter was under the influence.

But there were also a hefty number of tracks which were either woefully flimsy and limp throughout, or took an age to burst into life.

So for every anthemic Fuel Up there was an anemic The Bigger Picture – which with these lot, is exactly what you have to keep in mind. Because, for all their inconsistencies, when they are on the money, they’re not far from being priceless.

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