Tanya Donelly & Throwing Muses (Waterfront, Norwich, 21 Sept 2014)

I’ve been to a few concerts where I’m not necessarily that into the band, Warpaint springs to mind as a recent example. But normally I recognise a handful of the songs they play, because J will’ve been listening to whoever it might be in the run up to the gig at the very least. This was therefore an unusually odd gig for me, in that I recognised the names of both the acts and even know some songs by them but I didn’t actually recognise a single song played on the night!

Tanya DonellyTanya Donelly

Tanya Donelly was the support act, and was the reason we had tickets – J has been a fan for 20 years or thereabouts. She used to be in Throwing Muses, then Breeders then Belly before doing solo stuff. This was in the nature of a farewell tour for her, I think, so played songs from across her career. I know one Belly song pretty well (Feed the Tree) & recognise one or two more, but she didn’t play any of those ones. It didn’t matter tho, even tho I couldn’t tell you what any of the songs were I did enjoy what she played. And she has an amazing voice.

Throwing Muses

I wouldn’t’ve thought I knew any Throwing Muses songs, but J pointed out that Bright Yellow Gun is on one of my compilation albums so I do know that rather well. I just didn’t know who did the song. Of course, they didn’t play that although I gather it did come out as an encore somewhere else on the tour. They were high energy & rocky, not music to stand still to πŸ™‚ Tanya joined them on stage towards the end of the main set for a couple of songs, too.

Throwing MusesThrowing Muses

Overall a good gig, despite the slight strangeness of not knowing the songs! I’ll leave this post with a youtube vid from the gig we were at:

Arcade Fire (Earls Court, 6 June 2014)

A couple of days after we saw Warpaint play in Norwich (post) we went to London to see Arcade Fire play. This was quite a different scale of gig – it was in the main venue at Earls Court, which is a really quite enormous space compared to the LCR at UEA. When we arrived to join the queue just after doors opened there was a Mariachi band playing in the front door – I think we must’ve just missed them arriving in a limo. They serenaded the audience as we walked into the venue.

Mariachi BandOwen Pallett

Once we were inside we headed to the merch desk for a t-shirt each, and then off into the hall to try & get a good spot. We ended up not that far back, about 10-15 people from the front. I think we could’ve pushed further forward at that point, but it would’ve involved more pushing & shoving. First up was a set from Owen Pallett and his band – he played electric violin most of the time as well as singing. I didn’t warm to his music much, it was very technically proficient but it felt rather like that was all it was if you see what I mean. After his set I popped out to the loos, so I apparently missed a piΓ±ata on stage and the start of the DJ set. At that point I was glad we hadn’t pushed further forward as for the first time ever I was worried I wouldn’t make it back through the crowd to where J was standing – I thought it was a fairly grumpy audience overall, not keen to let people through and very defensive about their personal space.

Arcade FireArcade Fire

Arcade Fire were great! πŸ™‚ There’s quite a lot of people in their touring band (I think they’re not all in the band per se) so there’s always something to watch even if the people standing in front of you block the view of bits of the stage. The band also all look like they’re enjoying themselves, one guy in particular runs about the stage playing drums and various bits of stage equipment as drums (always in time, despite the manic antics), but everyone seems to be having fun. There was a second stage in the middle that they used for bits of their show – dancers sometimes, and for one song Regine was singing from over there too. It wasn’t overused, so it didn’t feel like you had to watch two ways at once, but it made for a different dynamic for some of the songs. There was also a surprise special guest for one of the songs – Ian McCulloch from Echo & the Bunnymen, and they did a cover of The Cutter.

Here’s a video of one of the songs from the gig we were at – filmed from the seated bit so nothing like the view we got πŸ™‚

Warpaint (UEA, Norwich 4 June 2014)

It’s always a little odd going back somewhere you used to go a lot after a gap of several years – and going to UEA (where I used to work) for a gig on 4 June was no exception. It was kinda the same, but not. And gave us a feeling old sensation as we realised how young the students looked πŸ˜‰ The gig was in the LCR which is quite a nice space for a concert because about halfway back from the stage the floor goes up a bit (with steps) so there’s not so much of a rush to the front – the audience starts equally divided between people near the stage (like us) and people on the steps. However they could do with cleaning the floor a bit more as it was unpleasantly sticky even at the beginning of the gig :/ The audience was really studenty as you’d expect, tho we weren’t the oldest in the crowd. And mostly nice or at least inoffensive, except the troglodyte near us who managed to have about half the audience turn and tell him to shut up & stop being a dick just after the concert started (he did shut up, after a poor attempt to look unconcerned by general opinion).


Warpaint are an all woman four piece band who J has got into recently (one of his favourite bands of the last year or two). I’ve not listened to them much, but what I’ve heard I like – they’re sort of poppy/rocky sort of stuff. (And I’m bad at describing music, as always.) In a way the stage layout/mix of musicians made me think a bit of The Beatles – two at the front, both of whom sang lead and/or played guitar, a bass player and a drummer (both of whom sang backing vocals). This was really a warm-up gig for a festival they were playing at the weekend, so it was just them and no support. I really enjoyed their set πŸ™‚ The video below is from someone who was pretty much just in front of us in the audience:

Maximo Park (Manchester Academy, 15 March 2014)

The reason we went to see J’s sister and family on the weekend that we did was because Maxïmo Park were playing at the Manchester Academy on the Saturday evening (15th March). J & I had spent the day in Manchester at the museum (post) and we had a brisk dinner in a restuarant in the China Town area before meeting Jo and Chris outside the venue at pretty much spot on doors time. I’m sure I’ve seen someone play at the Academy before but it seems it was long enough ago that the outside of the building had changed and I didn’t really remember the inside either!

Iron Maiden Beer

Out of deference to the fact that Jo was 6 months pregnant we hung around in the bar area where we could sit down until the support act started – and obviously the rest of us sampled some of their beers over the course of the evening. They had rather a good selection of things I’d not tried before – including the Iron Maiden beer (had to be tried) and some by a local brewery (Brightside), all pretty good.


The support act were Teleman, who I’d never heard of (or heard) before. I remember liking them at the time – quite rocky and appropriate as the opener for a Maxïmo Park set. But I must confess as I’m writing this nearly 3 weeks later I don’t actually remember them that well. J bought the CD from the merch desk at the end of the gig so clearly he liked them too. I should listen to it some time πŸ™‚

Maximo Park

And then on to the main event! Maxïmo Park were fantastic, as usual. There’s a real energy to their sets, and even though we were further back than we often are (about halfway, I think) there was still a really good atmosphere and the people around us were clearly really into it. And by the end of the set people were jumping up and down all around and even behind us. Obviously there were quite a few songs from the most recent album, but after that I think the next most represented album was their first one. That’s still my favourite, and my go to album when I think I want to listen to some Maxïmo Park, so that was pretty good for me πŸ™‚

After the gig was over we bought some beer at the merch desk – they had a Maxïmo Park No. 5 beer brewed to be sold after the gigs. We picked up a bottle each, J and I drank ours on the Sunday evening when we got home to finish off the weekend πŸ™‚ Rather nice, quite citrus-y and flavourful. (If I wanted to be pretentious about it I suppose I could say: Fresh & energetic, like the band …)

Crimson ProjeKct (12 March 2014, Shepherd’s Bush Empire)

A couple of weeks ago we went to our second concert of the year. Crimson ProjeKct are not King Crimson, but they contain three people who’ve been in various King Crimson line-ups (namely Adrian Belew, Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto) and they have King Crimson’s blessing to tour King Crimson material. So J jumped at the chance to get tickets for this concert as it might be the closest we’ll get to seeing King Crimson live.

The show was at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and I’m not that fond of it as a venue. I’d wondered if it would be different for a seated gig, as my issues are mostly about how difficult it is to see anything there, but it wasn’t much better. The stage is too low, and the floor isn’t sloped at all, so everyone else’s heads get in the way, and they’d lined the seats up so you were sitting directly behind the person in front. Still my least favourite London venue …

Crimson ProjeKct

The band is composed of two trios. One is The Adrian Belew Power Trio – who I thought of as the “having a fantastic time” trio because all three of them looked like they were really, really enjoying being part of the concert. Notably they have a female bass player, which is notable partly because of how surprised I was that there was a woman in the band. The other trio is Stick Men – who I thought of as the “funny instruments” trio, Tony Levin plays chapman stick most of the time, Pat Mastelotto augments his drum kit with a variety of odd objects, the “guitarist” played something that didn’t quite work the way a guitar normally does. Instead of performing first as each trio, then all together (as they’d done on some previous shows) they mixed things up a bit. So we’d see some of one trio (playing their own stuff and King Crimson stuff), then some of the other, or some of all together. This meant that all the performers got regular breaks, so we actually had a three hour set without an interval.

I’m not, to be honest, that much of a King Crimson fan. On record quite a lot of it tends to pass me by – it’s all about the technical virtuosity and I’m very focussed on songs when I listen to music. But there are also several “proper” songs that I like, and we got some of them during the evening. The ones that particularly stand out in my memory are Dinosaur (one of my favourites), Elephant Talk and Indiscipline. The last of these is a song I like (once the words start) and it also included a drum – duet? duel? – it was hard to tell which. The two drummers would each in turn play a bit making it as complicated as they could, then seamlessly switch to the other drummer who’d try and top the previous section. And somehow they also made it an interesting piece of music that flowed and so on, despite being improv (and almost all drums). On record I’d’ve been bored by it, but watching it was awe inspiring!

I’ll finish this post off with a youtube clip – this was recorded about a week before I saw the band, at their Tel Aviv show:

Blackfield (Koko, Camden 5 February 2014)

On Wednesday there was a tube strike but we had tickets to see Blackfield play in Camden so we went in anyway. We changed our plans for the rest of the day a little because I didn’t want to buy timed entry tickets to an exhibition when we weren’t quite sure how the journey would work out. In the end it all worked out OK – I had an app on my phone (Citymapper) that gave us bus routes and times to & from Cockfosters (where we parked) and showed us where to walk while we were in Central London. We got lunch at the Northumberland Arms near Euston station, which was very tasty (and I had a rather nice pint of Bateman’s Chocolate Biscuit Beer). Then off to the British Museum for the afternoon – we didn’t have a plan there, we just wandered through a few galleries looking at the things that caught our eye.

picture of Babylonian lion

Including a Babylonian lion – I’d forgotten they had one on loan at the moment. No camera with me just my phone, which I’m trying to use the camera on more when it’s all I’ve got there. I’ve put an album of photos up on G+ here.

We met up with our usual gig going companions (Paul and Ady) around half five and had dinner in a pizza place in near the venue called Chicco’s – enormous portions of rather tasty food. The starters were a mistake, given the size of the pizzas – my fault, I was too tempted by the prawn cocktail so I persuaded everyone to join me in having a starter. Besides, the prices were quite cheap so I didn’t think the portions would be large.

Outside of Koko Inside of Koko

And then onwards to Koko. Not somewhere I’d been before – I think Paul had seen Marillion play there, but it was a gig J & I hadn’t gone to. Outside quite plain (although rather pink) but it was quite an eye catching venue inside – lit in red with ornate decoration. And a fairly varied selection at the bar too (I had Theakston’s Lightfoot, which I hadn’t seen before).

The Red Paintings

The first support act were an Australian band called The Red Paintings. They said they were playing stripped down versions of their songs – just two musicians and one artist on stage, rather than a full band and more artists. They were unique, that’s the only way to describe them – and it was very much a performance rather than just some music, if that makes sense. The two musicians were a singer/guitarist and an electric violin player, I’m not quite sure how to describe their music except that it was energetic. Oh, and they opened with a bit of audio from Donnie Darko and did a cover of Tears for Fears “Mad World” later on so that gives some of the ambience. Part way through the first song an artist came on stage dressed in black with lights making patterns (an “alien”) and painted a painting on stage while the musicians played. I’m not sure I particularly need or want to see the band again, but it was a fun start to the gig.

Dave McPherson

The second support act was Dave McPherson who was billed as being “from InMe” – to which my only reaction was “who?”. It was a one man & his guitar show, and although when it started I was a little dubious once he settled into the performance he was rather good.

After his set as is traditional the tallest man in the venue decided to stand directly in front of me. I was a little startled as I thought I already had someone fairly tall in front of me! But the one that showed up just before Blackfield was significantly taller – and significantly taller than J, too. Oh well, I still managed to see a bit, then later the way things moved around meant he was off to one side so that was a lot better. Talking of the audience I also discovered that while I don’t mind people taking photos of the bands (I do it too, after all) I find audience shots, panoramas/photospheres including the audience and people resting their arms on my head to steady the camera all deeply deeply tedious! Particularly the last.


Blackfield are a project that is a collaboration between Steven Wilson (of Porcupine Tree) and Aviv Geffen (an Israeli rockstar), with a band of Israeli musicians. Originally Wilson & Geffen were co-leaders of the band, but Wilson’s been stepping back recently due to other bits of his career taking up more time – after this European tour he’s not going to be part of the band at all. Their music is towards the poppy end of the rock spectrum and while I wouldn’t call it happier than other Steven Wilson related stuff it sounds more upbeat and cheerful (and then you listen to the words … πŸ˜‰ ). I think my favourite of the albums is the first one – and this gig included a lot of tracks off that album so that was cool πŸ™‚ Here’s someone else’s video of one of the tracks off that album, played in Philadelphia a couple of years ago:

It was a good day out, and a good gig πŸ™‚

Marillion (Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, 9/11/2013)

Marillion have played a couple of UK dates recently and we went to see them play in Aylesbury. This was, apparently, the first time in 29 years that the band have played at that venue, and as Aylesbury is where they’re based it was a sort of homecoming gig. The Waterside Theatre is relatively newly rebuilt, and Aylesbury seem very pleased with it – we drove into Aylesbury twice* from different directions & you’re sign-posted to the theatre right from the outskirts of town both times. It’s quite nice, and the staff were all astonishingly friendly and cheerful.

*On purpose – we were staying with my parents in Oxford and so drove round the edge of Aylesbury on the way there before returning for the evening.

Waterside TheatreMe, Pre-gig

The support “band” was Jacob Moon – who does guitar+singing. His most recent album is a collection of covers, and so as well as original stuff we were treated to his version of Kayleigh and also of a Rush song (I don’t know Rush well enough to remember what it was). He was good, and built up some quite complex songs by layering guitar loops. Obviously he got the best response to Kayleigh, as you’d expect.

Jacob Moon

Then it was Marillion. Overall they played two hours – a main set plus 3 encores. Apart from the very last encore it was a very recent setlist, heavily biased towards things off Sounds That Can’t Be Made (as you might expect). But the setlist had been shaken up a bit from when we’ve previously seen them while they were touring this album – in particular they started with Invisible Man (from Marbles) rather than with Gaza. There were also no A Few Words for the Dead this time. I put the camera away for the last encore once they started playing – this one was two Fish-era songs, Garden Party and Market Square Heroes (appropriately as we were right near the Market Square in question). And it was very bouncy πŸ˜€

MarillionMarillionSteve HogarthSteve HogarthSteve HogarthConfetti!

A good evening! I’ve got some more pictures up on flickr, here.

Steven Wilson (Royal Albert Hall, 20/10/13)

Nearly a month ago J and I went to see Steven Wilson play at the Royal Albert Hall. As this was shortly after we’d got home from Turin we didn’t spend the day in London beforehand, just headed in in time for the concert. After meeting up with Paul and Ady we had dinner at Wagamamas and headed off to find our seats. Paul had bought the tickets some time before* and we’d all forgotten what we’d done about seats – just remembered we’d gone for fairly cheap tickets so assumed we were up in the nosebleed seats somewhere. But it turned out we’d got seats on the main floor seating area, only about 20 or 30 rows back from the front, which was pretty awesome.

*We’d learnt from last time’s organisational fail!

I find talking about solo gigs for Steven Wilson a bit difficult – I don’t often (if at all) listen to the albums at home. So I don’t know the music particularly well, and often can’t name the tracks even when I do know them. There’s something about the atmosphere of him & his band live, in combination with the visuals, that makes the music work for me in a way it doesn’t really do on record. And I do like the videos that go with the songs. The concert even opened with a short video set to music about a busker who no-one notices (which is also the subject of one of Wilson’s songs – “Luminol”), which segued seamlessly into the start of the concert proper. I can’t remember the setlist now (and as I said at the beginning of this paragraph I likely couldn’t’ve told you it immediately after the gig either) – I do remember we got Postcard (which I like quite a lot, but J’s not that fond of), and Watchmaker, and The Raven that Refused to Sing, because I remember all the visuals for those ones πŸ™‚ And they finished up with Radioactive Toy as the encore, just like in March πŸ™‚

They were fairly strict about no photography during the show, so I don’t have any photos (and the one I tried to take on my phone to show where we were in the venue didn’t come out at all). I’ll finish up the post with a video from youtube instead, of Postcard as played in Mexico City last year:

Fish (The Junction Cambridge, 16/9/2013)

A couple of days after the Roger Waters gig (post) we went to another concert – not quite at the opposite end of the size spectrum, but certainly close! At pretty near the last minute J decided that he did want to see Fish on this leg of his tour for his new album, and picked up tickets for the gig at the Junction in Cambridge on 16th Sept.

The support band was Lu Cozma. There was just herself & her guitarist on stage, and to be honest I found her set fairly unmemorable. She had a good voice, and the songs were pleasant enough but the only one I really liked or remembered was her cover of Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”.

Lu Cozma

The Fish set was memorable though πŸ™‚ It’s been a while since we’ve been to a Fish concert where he’s had a full band – the last couple have been on the acoustic tour that he did for the last few years. The set obviously had a selection of songs from his new album (“A Feast of Consequences”), including three of the five song group about the First World War. As well as older Fish songs, there were also several Marillion songs from early albums – including “Script for a Jester’s Tear” which is one of my favourite Marillion songs, and now I’ve heard both Marillion and Fish play it live this year, so that’s pretty cool πŸ˜€

FishSteve Vantsis
FishRobin Boult

It was a good evening πŸ™‚ I’ve a few more photos up on flickr here.

Roger Waters The Wall Live (Wembley Stadium, 14 Sept 2013)

On Saturday we went into London to see Roger Waters playing The Wall at Wembley Stadium. Photos are up on flickr (here) with some highlights in this post.

Unusually for us for a gig we’d decided to get seated rather than stand up, because it’s really more of a show than just a concert. I’m glad we did, it would’ve been very frustrating to not have a good view of the stage & the wall, and I’m pretty sure as a not very tall person I wouldn’t’ve had a good view. Despite not springing for the more expensive seats we had a pretty good view from where we were, which was the second tier of seating (i.e. not the ones at the side of the pitch, the ones at the bottom of the next level up). What we couldn’t quite see was the central screen, because there was a speaker in the way, but that was only really in use for the first half of the show anyway.

The Wall Live TicketsThe Wall Live

The format of the show was Roger Waters & his band playing through The Wall in its entirety (plus one extra new song between the second part of Another Brick in the Wall and Mother). The show opened with fireworks & a fighter plane (model) flying across the stadium and “going up in flames” backstage. During the first half the wall was gradually built up piece by piece (generally while the audience were distracted). The original meanings of the songs & album 30-something years ago were fairly personal to Roger Waters & his reaction to fame, this show kept some of that feel but also emphasised & made overt the political nature of the songs which was fairly heavy on the anti-capitalism. (This last was perhaps a little ironic to be watching after having spent rather a lot of money on a t-shirt & a programme, and felt even more ironic later when we checked the online prices for the hoodies and found they were half the price that they were at the merch stall …)

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Then there was a 15 minute intermission, where the completed wall was used to display pictures & brief bios of people killed by war.

The Wall Live

The second half was mostly performed around the completed wall – initially with Roger Waters (and other band members during Comfortably Numb) hidden or looking small & insignificant against the wall, moving onto some fairly uncomfortable fascist-esque imagery (including a less viscerally disturbing inflatable capitalist pig that floated out over the crowd). This bit also made good use of the surround sound to give the impression that the audience were all chanting. Then the trial, which was all animated & projected on the wall with Waters standing in front, and the bringing down of the wall and the capitalist pig.

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The Wall Live
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A good show, glad I saw it even tho I’m not actually that much of a Pink Floyd fan πŸ™‚