Archive | November, 2013

Sweet Baboo – Live

22 Nov


Green Door Store: Tuesday, November 19

Returning to the venue where he was responsible for one of this year’s Great Escape festival highlights, Sweet Baboo (Steve Black to his pals) suggested this show might not be quite as exuberant.

“We’ve just spent £60 on meat at the World’s End pub so we’re bound to be a bit lethargic,” he said.

Admittedly this lacked some of the high jinks of the May show, but he did his tales of love, loss and giddy romance proud.

Black’s approach is to treat his experiences of adversity and affection with the same medicine – an almighty dose of fizzy pop crammed with sweet melodies that just stay on the right side of sickly.

‘The Morse Code For Love Is Beep Beep, Beep Beep, The Binary Code Is One One’ showed both his unique lyrical approach and penchant for a bob-along tune, while ‘C’mon Let’s Mosh’ channelled the nous of Neil Hannon by simultaneously harnessing wry one-liners with proper song-writing craft.

While several of the songs on his recent album ‘Ships’ are buoyed by hearty brass sections, they’re given a more straightforward workout live, not least on his crowning glory ‘If I Died…’ which juxtaposed some showpiece strutting and a heady rush of squalling guitars alongside a niggling sense of artistic doubt, “Daniel Johnston has written hundreds of great songs, and I’ve got six,” he sang.

On this evidence, he can at least change that line to twelve.


Steve Mason – Live

12 Nov
Concorde 2: October 28, 2013
One of the most glaring omissions from this year’s much-derided Mercury Music Prize shortlist was Steve Mason’s stunning 20 song-strong polemic Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time.

The former Beta Band main man has never been shy to wear his heart on his sleeve – be it personally or politically – but as tonight’s passion-fuelled set showed, his zeal and steal is stronger than ever.

Stand out track from the latest album, Fire!, introduced as “us raining down retribution from a great height on the establishment”, was a revolutionary revelation with Mason’s disarmingly calm yet cutting vocals roughed-up by menacing bass and piercing guitars amid an almost debilitating lighting display which flooded the stage in a fiery mix of oranges and reds.

“Where do we go from here?,” he chanted, “It’s clear”.

It was the first of several calls to arms, but Mason was careful to make sure this didn’t descend into a soap box set, perfectly offsetting some of his barricade-manning missives with the more mellow offerings from 2010’s Boys Outside, such as the expansive and lush All Come Down which was a poignant sea of calm amid the agit-pop storm.

As for the Mercury Prize, Mason doesn’t seem to give a monkey’s. He’s clearly got far bigger fish to fry.

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