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Friday, September 21, 2007

Turisas - Islington Academy 19/09/07

As with my recent trip to see Maiden, Wednesday night's Turisas gig was a great reminder of why I love metal gigs: the fun. A great crowd*, a fantastic performance by the band who managed to replicate the big sound of their new album, loud, chunky riffs and just a general good vibe. And yes, they dress like this:

Which can be seen as a silly gimmick (actually, is pretty indefensible as anything but) but is just fucking great fun. Let alone the fact that they have fiddle and accordian players. I have always maintained that metal needs more fiddle and accordian.

Oh, c'mon! How could I not like this band. If you like a bit of bombastic metal (I'm looking at you Bruce), then check these guys out. If you don't, then you're probably not even still reading.

*Except for the mosh pit. I went down the front for the encore, and nobody was moshing! I think all the hardcore guys streamed out when the initial set finished, but everbody left was just waving their hands in the air or taking photos! Photos! In the mosh pit (or lack thereof)! Kids these days...

Carry on reading...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mr Boobytrap Rides Again

Last week I went to the launch night of the mighty Jon Chandler's exhibition down Brick Lane way (which also handily doubled as his leaving do and his dad's birthday). I got in early as Jon and Leon were doing the last of the setup and left just as the crowds really started to build (and as my body temperature began to hit nova-like levels - it was fucking hot in there!)

"And this is where I keep my bone saw..."

It's well worth a look, featuring art from a number of notaries, including the terrifyingly talented triumvirate of Lord Hurk, Tony Hype and the legendary but lackluster-ly linkless Linky Bodges (whose lovely lady's birthday we had the pleasure of celebrating last weekend)!

London folk should go and see it while they can! It's been extended for a little longer and is on at Bodhi, the cafe and gallery (with downstairs Japanese language manga library) at 214 Brick Lane. Go! Now! Before Jon suits up and rides his lawmaster to the shores of the exotic East!

"Sayonara suckers!"

Carry on reading...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Battle Metal

The other day I had the joy of hearing Finnish metal outfit Turisas on the Bruce Dickinson Rock Show. So I was happy to find out they are playing here on the 19th September. Needless to say, tickets have been purchased.

Turisas - Rasputin

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Your mileage may, as always, vary.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Polyphonic Spree - Astoria, London 03/09/07

If you have never seen the Polyphonic Spree live, you're doing yourself a disservice. I know and can understand that their albums might not be for everyone; fair enough. But as a live band I have seen very few acts that top their intensity and none that leave me on such a natural high.

The gig started with what has become a bit of a London tradition, with this town crier guy (and son) coming out and reading a bit of panto-like audience participation "Hear Ye" material. It's all good fun. And then a red sheet of material was raised in front of the stage to obscure the band coming on.

Then lead singer Tim DeLaughter began chopping his way through, cutting out the shape of a heart (yeah, I know, it all sounds cheesy as hell, but it's great fun).

He then chopped up to clear the sheet and they were off! There are 23 band members in the Spree, so their sound is understandably pretty big. Brass section, two drummers, chorus, flute, guitars, two keyboards, harp and so on.

That, I think, is their great failing as recording artists (as much as I love the albums), as it is impossible to capture the power they have as a live act. By the second or third song you're swept up in it, and it all just feels so goddamn good.

And that good feeling is as much down to the infectious enthusiasm of the band. They're all smiling, dancing, jumping about, giving it their all. The backing singers all swing back and forth and leap about in unison, DeLaughter constantly leaps on top of his monitor, punching the air, whoopin' and hollerin'. Again, describing it just doesn't convey what a joy the entire band is to behold.

Anyway, they played a number of tracks from the first two albums, as well as new material. They play with the material a little but the anthemic nature of their material still gets the crowd going. Then, one by one, the band members left the stage, finally leaving only DeLaughter (holding up his heart cut-out) and the harpist, who each respectively left.

And then the other great Spree tradition: the crowd walk-through. Sure enough the band appeared walking in a line up on the balcony, where they walked from the side up to the rear exits, then downstairs and through the middle of the crowd, the trombonist holding his instrument up like a tour operator's umbrella. But DeLaughter came back on a different path, following our friend Aaron as he came back from the bar and so walked right by us.

He's the sweaty head of hair the guy in the olive shirt is staring at.

And so they all got back to the stage for an amazing encore, decked out in their old white robes, no less (the origins of why many people think they're some kind of cult).

I just can't understand why they get that idea...

Anyway, once back, they launched into a cover of Nirvana's "Lithium" which sent the place crazy. A long suite of their own material followed, one song flowing into the next, before finishing up with "When The Fool Becomes a King". Grinning like a madman, DeLaughter kept thanking the audience and then did what always sends a gig up a notch for me: an unscheduled encore. With three minutes to curfew, they cranked out a rendition of Tripping Daisy song "Sonic Bloom".

Great show. Great band. And if I had one photo that sums it all up, it'd be this:

Smiles, everyone, smiles!

Carry on reading...