Ruth's Manuvas


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

Hockey @ Nottingham Bodega Social Club, Friday 25th September 2009

With a bit of imagination, the hazy smoke-machine induced fog that hung over Hockey’s Nottingham Bodega Social Club leg of their tour could have given the gig a touch of Stars In Their Eyes about it. The American four-piece resembled a handful of artists throughout the set, some with frightening, albeit unwitting accuracy.

In reality, whilst Hockey are described as new rave soulsters, they have melting pot of styles and influences which occasionally stray over the lines into the territories of the likes of Bob Dylan and Bon Jovi. But it is only when they stick to their original musical definition that they really hit the musical nail on the head.

This touch of negativity perhaps belies the true story. After all, the band has notched up rave reviews in the music press and even at the Bodega, the crowd seemed to be perfectly happy with the gig, showing approval at their more upbeat disco-infiltrated grooves and soulful melodies with wiggling hips and gentle bops.  

Yet to honest ears, three or four of the tracks ever so slightly whiffed of clichéd American rock, showing that there are a few flies in the Hockey ointment that could do with being picked out.

Main support, Little Comets prepared the way with a fusion of indie pop which brought a smile to everyone’s faces, as did the blue rope suspended across the stage from which their percussion instruments hung

Then Hockey kicked off with ‘Work’, a brooding and soulful track tinged with beats and lyrics which spoke of woe at the daily 9am to 5pm grind. Faint comparisons can and have been drawn with the throb of LCD Soundsystem and The Strokes, because of lead singer, Benjamin Grubin’s American drawled vocals – but don’t let that be the measuring stick, because as yet, that bar is set too high.

Launching into ‘Learn to Lose’ the mood was still up tempo and Hockey’s funk-punk combo with a peppering of “du du du’s”, a catchy guitar solo across the bridge and the sing-a-long chorus of “Oh I’ve got to learn to lose for a while” are inspired – in a roller disco 70s kind of way.

3 am Spanish, Curse This City and Wanna Be Black, were definitely a bit more appealing on the album Mind Chaos, as the subtlety seemed to be lost live. Nevertheless, all had that same lyrical witticism and danceable, likeable quality about them.

But when Hockey took off their skates and dropped the funk, they lost their initial charm and started to sound like something else, something less individual. On Four Holy Photos, the image of Benjamin sat on a stool in the middle of the stage with an acoustic guitar, harmonica, country-esque harmonies and half-sung half-talked fast paced lyrics was too Bob Dylan for words. His impression was second to none.

Song Away adopted a cringe worthy Bon Jovi style chorus and the slow ballad of Everyone’s The Same Age went down a similar road.

Luckily they stepped up a few notches with another of the album’s highlights, Too Fake, with that same effortless purr of the drums, guitars and vocals declaring, “Look out, I’ve got too much soul for the world!”

Everything was polished off nicely with Put The Game Down – a tune adding a little more fuel to the fire of comparisons with The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas’ vocals.

Hockey’s Bodega appearance mirrored many a first time experience of seeing a band. At times they impressed, at times they bewildered and down right grated, but nevertheless this was a good gig. It’s what you’d get if you crossed a DJ set from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy with his disco-tinged grooves, a bit of soul from the likes of James Brown, together with husky softer rock vocals. Which is why on the whole it works well; sometimes it’s even inspired, but occasionally it’s a bit too pedestrian and familiar.

Hockey @ Nottingham Bodega

Hockey @ Nottingham Bodega (Apologies for the rubbish pic - rubbish phone camera + smoke = poor photo)


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2 Responses

  1. JimmyBean says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. Jo Davies says:

    Have to agree with previous comment, you have fantastic creative writing style and real musical knowledge and substance to match. Hope word gets around about your blog – too good to be exclusive! Thanks from me too!
    Jo 🙂

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