Ruth's Manuvas


My musical ramblings – gig and album reviews, music news and views

Jamie T @ The Kasbah, Coventry, 19/06/09

The Jamie Train rolled into Coventry on Friday June 19th, announcing the arrival of the genre-bending wordsmith to the Kasbah, with his particular brand of raw indie-pop singed with rap influences and now, a hint of ska too added to the mix.


The artist has so far won over a throng of followers and rightly so after his debut album, Panic Prevention, introduced some refreshingly different yet catchy tunes and storytelling lyrics gaining him mass appeal and critical acclaim. And on Friday this charming faux-chav personality from Wimbledon attracted a 14+ audience which oozed an odd sort of diversity. Evidently the 2,000 plus people at this stop on his pre-Sticks and Stones EP release tour would only be crossing paths on an occasion like this.


Jamie spat out his opener, ‘British Intelligence’, raising the testosterone levels in the Kasbah and setting the tone for the night as a group of teen-year-olds began their violently ecstatic one hour fifteen minute moshpit. This emphatic start continued with ‘Operation’ – a highlight on Panic Prevention – and by this time two thirds of the crowd were lapping up every half-sung half-shouted word. It was as if someone had wound up Jamie’s internal spring, turned up the volume and released him onto the stage to wreak havoc.


And this was, in part, the problem.


 As the younger half of the audience, the lairy lads and luddites thoroughly got into the gig, much of the latter two thirds of the crowd barely managed a bop as he ploughed through his set at maximum volume, maximum speed, but with an unexpectedly low dose of panache, vocal sensitivity and expression that we had come to expect.


He unleashed several new tracks including the well received chant-a-long “368”, which amongst the rest of some very average ska-influenced comeback tracks was easily the stand out. By then, you got the feeling that most preferred his older material and this was not just due to the comfy old sweater factor.


By the time Calm Down Dearest arrived, the disappointment was faintly palatable. Instead of the track being a softer more tuneful nudge at lovers’ tiffs, it was stripped of the finer points and the lack of interaction behind the frenzied teen moshpit said it all.


Somehow, the gig missed the mark. Jamie’s charm was still there – with a cheeky grin he even dedicated a song to the popular channel 4 programme, Come Dine With Me – but on the night he was without sparkle.


With the encore arrived the eagerly awaited Salvador and a sure fire future hit, Sticks and Stones. And it was then that light finally dawned on why the boredom had set in long ago. Amongst Jamie T’s troops, the drummer had just one beat which he – ALL NIGHT – played at different speeds and the lead guitarist, instead of playing the intricacies and light riffs so familiar to the material, played them like he was part of a wha wha pedalling dad band.


Doubtless, some of the problem was and is down to the Kasbah as a venue which always attracts a crowd akin to a bunch of Skins extras – and Coventry isn’t a city known for its live music pedigree.

But Jamie T should have been more than just a loveable rogue with a few good tunes and you get the feeling he still could be, provided that he ditches a band which detracts from and waters down his renegade lyrical genius and personality. 


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Kasabian @Wolves Civic 08/08

Another one of my fave gigs of last year…

Intimate warm-up shows for big festival events can only go one of two ways; Either the band lacklusterly conserve energy, using their audience as guinea pigs for a predictable list of their popular hits, peppered with plugs for the upcoming album.


Or, in Kasabian’s case on Thursday, August 21st at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, they are a chance for the ultimate raucous dress rehearsal – hugely energetic and designed to please, complete with a laser show and backdrop fit for 20,000 fans, let alone the venue’s 5,000 capacity.


No one really should have doubted whether the five-piece from Leicester would muster up the effort to put on a show just three nights prior to their Creamfields debut. After all, the band had a score to settle after whispered criticisms of the new look indie/psychedelic retro genre-bending headliners the organisers had picked for 2008.


‘Shoot The Runner’ teed off the set and was obviously designed to induce a frenzied start to seamlessly introduce the band onto the big dance stage with its psychedelic electro sound. The indie rockers have often been scoffed at for sticking to a ‘Kasabian By Numbers’ template for each of their selected ‘barnstormers’ and indeed, they are not a band to miss the chance to bring out their best bits. But the Wolverhampton gig was deliciously self-indulgent, leaving the crowd in no doubt of their class and intentions for their inaugural dance-fest appearance.


Tom Meighan’s charm offensive wooed the hoards of converted Kasabianites on the back of their self-titled debut and follow-up, ‘Empire’, whose stand out tracks blew through the hardcore indie naysayers like a tank through a feeble front line.


Two new album tracks, ‘Fast Fuse’, with its big beat middle section and the bluesy ‘Fire’ were instant hits at the Civic. By the time the Leicester troupe unleashed the spine tingling ‘Doberman’, complete with faultless trumpet solo and ‘Reason Is Treason’, the crowd were theirs. The swaggering Tom sufficiently warmed and kneaded his congregation until they were putty in his hands and genuinely applauded their efforts after most of the tracks. Nice touch Tom.


Perhaps the laser and animated graphics show, which by the way would have impressed in a venue ten times the size, was the icing on the Kasabian-cake. But no one would underestimate the juggernaut of sound the band produced at the gig, nor what was, under any circumstances, an amazing, charismatic performance.


The band ended fittingly with the sing-along ‘LSF’ – another track to win over the dance masses at Creamfields and leave them singing along into the night, chewing on their gums.


One thing’s for sure, although Tom, Serge and the rest of the band’s egos might appear as big as their sound, they are still humbled by the success and multi-genre acceptance they receive. And it is richly deserved.

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Chemical Brothers @ London Olympia 08/08

An old review, but the best gig I’ve ever been to…

Take the most consistently present dance act the world has ever seen, add 10,000 revellers ages 14 to 60, mix in a hangar-like warehouse space the size of two football pitches, sprinkle festival strength strobes and lighting, together with animated, giddying graphics on a screen the size of two houses. Fold in a sound system made to induce ear bleeding and ’Dust’ the ‘Brothers’ on top – two unassuming sound boffins, with a talent for producing the most anthemic electro-hip-hop-big-beat soundtrack of many a hedonist’s life.


There was always a risk in ending The Chemical Brothers’ world tour with a show of such magnitude – it could result in a predictable hit-filled rout. And even though the big ones were far from thin on the ground at the London Olympia gig, instead of reeling the favourites off like a new year’s honours list, Tom and Ed methodically weaved each gem in and out of each other to create a tapestry wall of sound, so that it became new and exciting to the senses. This was an unexpected art which The Chemicals fittingly revealed on this, the first musical event to grace the gargantuan space since The Cure performed there in 1992.


The beginning of the whistle-stop adventure into the five albums was introduced with pops of sound, synth-esque squeals and a starry backdrop to light up ‘Galvanize’. The graphics were startlingly good and freakishly contorted clown faces appeared for ‘Do It Again’ and ‘Get Yourself High’ – as if the throng needed prompting – most were already surging on their own euphoric dance wave.


Two sets later and with ‘Hey Boy Hey Girl’, ‘Star Guitar’ and ‘Saturate’ added to the list, it was a defining occasion. The hairs on the neck were weary from standing up out of their recliners as the bass lines rumbled and The Chemical Brothers, from behind their stacks of knobs and decks did what they do best – building crescendos and dropping in melodic riffs just when you think the tension of waiting for the hook to kick in would make you burst.


Perhaps the most beautiful moment was when 40ft watery gymnasts floated and tumbled across the screen whilst ‘Surface To Air’ filled the domed rafters. Ed and Tom even had time to throw in a taster of their singles album, ‘Brotherhood’ – released on Monday, September 1 – with ‘Midnight Madness’, a melodic, beat filled beauty which deserved a more ecstatic reaction from the crowd than it got.


The encore unpacked ‘Block Rockin’ Beats’ and although the last track, ‘The Pills Won’t Help You Now’ was unpredictable, a slightly more classic choice would have polished off an otherwise flawless experience.

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Bear with me

Well this appears to be my first blog.

I’m not really sure where to start so I might just post a few of my old reviews later so there’s at least some material up here!

All I know is that I’ve been meaning to do this for ages as my reviewing attempts for websites have been a bit sporadic and fruitless – mainly because I go to about 5 gigs in one month then none the next, so it never really gets off the ground.

At least from here I will be able to satisfy my need to ramble on in a semi-creative way about the latest albums I’ve heard, comedians I’ve seen, bands I’ve loved/hated/felt nonplussed about and general goings on in the world of music.

And it can’t be bad combining the two (well two-and-a-half if you count my, as yet, burgeoning love for live comedy) things I love to do most…

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