Snow Patrol 05/09/11
Gotta hand it to that Gary Lightbody. He took over with his guitar since the very start and kept ridiculing this special gig, which translates to competition winners/VIP only - in a good way. The guy has a sense of humour.
As there was no support band, he warmed up a packed up Empire in an intimate acoustic performance. And as the band followed, he kept up his stint as an improv stand-up comedian.
I wouldn't say I'm into any of the Snow Patrol highlights that were heard, and lawfully sang along by hundreds - Run, Chasing Cars, Just Say Yes etc, etc. Call them cheesy, call them romantic, they ain't my thing. But, somehow, Called Out in the Dark manages to move me.
We are listening, Gary, and we're not blind. You're alright...
Joan as Police Woman 09/09/11
A weird case of an artist, in my case. There's the voice - sensual, sexy, deep. The songwriting - Furious, To Be Lonely; the violin - The Dambuilders, Antony and the Johnsons; Rufus, Lou Reed. All kinds of collaborations and a bunch of albums with dignity and soul.
But when that Stevie Wonder spirit kicks in, I can't help but get pissed.
Wasser can be unconventional, a badass, she can different. But singles like Chemmie, from her latest fourth album The Deep Field, bring up that erotic mumbling which, far from a much welcome courtship, makes me vomit. She even somehow managed to make Buckley (junior) as close to repulsive as he can get, by inspiring songs like Everybody Here Wants You - the one that had him "soulfully" whining and moaning instead of performing in that breathtaking rollercoaster of a voice he usually does.
Anyways... she knows music, she has the band, I just wish she let out more the no nonsense, bold, original chick I believe she is and give us something a little more brash.
Oh...and change at last that crap of a name. Nothing good can ever come from anything that comprises the word Policewoman. Unless it starts with Attack A...
Nerina Pallot 06/10/11
What do Joan Wasser and Nerina Pallot have in common, apart from four albums and imaginatively orchestrated songwriting?
They both left their previous shows at the Empire crying, apparently. And they looked equally grateful that their present performances were joined by an audience attentive, kind and... not as scarce as I suspect it was the last time.
Nerina makes for an abundant performer - sweet, clever, funny and, of course, with a handful of beautiful, rich melodies and a competent band. A softy and indifferent for a big chunk of the time; but when she hits it, piano or guitar-wise, she does it well. Her recently released Year of the Wolf produced rather... cute singles like Put Your Hands Up; and all the way back to her debut (which she revisited while trying to please the last demanding fan) there were attractive harmonies and feeling there. A red backdrop and a sparse set of lights coloured the Empire stage.
Nerina's world can be a deceptively naive fairytale at times; it's good she can balance it with a glimpse on "war and misery" here and there.
All in all, Mrs Pallot, not that bad...
Iron and Wine 10/10/11
Samuel Beam's stage outfit accesorized with a full live band, courtesy of his London-New York-Montreal-Toronto tour. His fourth album Kiss Each Other Clean, released earlier this year, expectedly provided a main axe, while older highlights (Boy With A Coin, House By The Sea etc.) reminded me why so many people were there to see him.
Not that I get it.. I found Flightless Bird, American Mouth - his Twilight hit - pretty awful, and while I'm afraid of coming dangerously close to those two old guys from Muppet Show with my grumpy objections in the above snippets, I have to say it:
I often find Beam an exceptional songwriter and his melodies this October Monday night, from time to time, gave me the chills. But then there was that lady duo in the backing vocals, those ultra-folk cameos and the general softness in Beam's voice that turned everything into butter. I am no arranger, but he pissed me off so bad I was tempted to take them and add a sinister dark streak, make them a little bit more menacing. They could be grand...
Instead, it's like he's scared of any real excitement; God forbid if he makes them anything but overwhelmingly mellow! He soaks them into music conditioner. He irons the big feeling flat and intoxicates us, in truth, with conservative harmonies, as if terrified that any real intensity will be a deal-breaker.
The live was good, by the way; if you like butter. But I can't help but feel dissapointed. It must be all the cholesterol...
Review (with photography borrowed from the web) by Danai Molocha, aka rockets4solitude