Thursday, October 27, 2011

Did you Hear the '59 Sound?

The Revival Tour - O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire - 15th October 2011
I feel somewhat ill-equipped to provide a write-up of the Revival Tour because I know virtually nothing about Chuck Ragan, Dave Hause and Dan Andriano. I went for Brian Fallon after spending the past year getting heavily into The Gaslight Anthem. I almost didn't go because sharing the bill with 3 other musicians, I wasn't sure whether he'd get enough stage time to justify the trip to London. The deciding factor was the debut album from Fallon's side project, The Horrible Crowes. 'Elsie' was release about a month ago and I've had it on repeat since. As far as I could tell, the Revival Tour is Fallon's only planned live performances of the Crowes' songs, and I'm obsessed with the album enough to make sure I caught this show.
My company for the evening was a tiny Hungarian named Rita who befriended me in the ticket queue. She earned points by insisting on buying me a drink, lost points by admitting that the last band she saw at the empire was Papa Roach (Those guys are actually still touring?!? and people are going to see them?!).
The night wasn't structured like a standard rock gig. I arrived a little late, figuring that Brian Fallon's set would be late in the evening, but walking into the theatre, found that all of the musicians were onstage together playing a bluegrass inspired tune. They played a few songs together, including a Gaslight track, and then worked through each musician's solo set. Yet solo isn't the right word. There were about 10 different musicians onstage during the evening and they kept popping in and out of each other's sets, providing accompaniment or back up vocals.

I didn't know of Hause or Andriano before the show, but Ragan seems to know what he's doing when he puts together the line-up for these tours. Stripped down to acoustic sets, all of the singers had certain sounds in common.

Fallon's set was the highlight. 'Elsie' was a collaboration between him and Ian Perkins, a guitar tech who wonderfully was with him on tour, and performed the songs live with him. The live and acoustic arrangements of the Crowes songs were different, but worked really well. 4 songs from the album wasn't enough and I wish there was going to be a dedicated Horrible Crowes tour.

Then came the Gaslight tracks, and it was clear that that's what a large percentage of the audience was there to see. Fallon did a couple on his own and then started bringing other musicians on. His set culminated in the rest of the line up contributing to a brilliant version of American Slang. Fallon went all Springsteen style and plucked a girl out of the front row to sing back up vocals. The poor thing spent the entire time looking like she was on the verge of wetting herself.

I can't really fault the tour. It's an interesting concept and the quality of the musicians involved ensured that's it was a brilliant night of music, even for someone unfamilar with most of the people on stage.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Summertown Wine Cafe

This cafe became my second home in Oxford. Good coffee, cheap baguettes, free wifi, super friendly staff and a great wine list, it's the perfect place to spend a couple of hours. Their house wines would regularly change and were guaranteed to be quality. I only left Oxford two weeks ago, but I miss spending my afternoons here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What does Canberra taste like?

Firestone is a small chain of pizza restaurants. We visited the one in Oxford a couple of times. The menu is divided into continents and has a pizza named after home, sweet home. J's a fan and it cracks me up to hear him order a 'Canberra'.

Monday, October 17, 2011

And I know that we've still got time

Enter Shikari - O2 Oxford Academy - 6th October 2011

I've seen Enter Shikari twice at big festivals and have alway been impressed with how much noise and energy they manage to create, despite not being massively popular. On both occasions their sets took place in broad daylight and I've always felt that I was missing part of the experience. I found that missing part by seeing them play a club show in Oxford. The energy was still there, but this time in a packed room with wonderfully appropriate smoke machines and lasers. They are loud and thrashy, but such a tight live band that it holds together instead of descending into a mess of sound.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Time II

Sculpture by Antony Gormley, installed on the corner of Broad Street and Turl Street in Oxford's City Centre.