Bits and pieces from the Shepherd's Bush Empire

Michael Kiwanuka: Tell me a soul tale
Michael Kiwanuka, Jake Bugg 23/05/12 I've been fairly taken by this new music soul of British neo-soul music ever since I heard Tell Me A Tale - the opener of his beautiful debut Home Again. The title track itself, I discovered later, is equally moving. If Kiwanuka cites Bill Withers and Otis Redding as influences, I can see rays of their warmth in his voice; touches of soul substance that don't allow you to doubt the stories he's recounting. You have to feel - and you're ultimately happy that you do, even if you start to feel "lost again, lost again...". The delivery of those songs was equally genuine on stage - though I have to admit that, far from an avid soul fan, I hardly paid attention to much else (altogether a bit understated for my taste). I do enjoy seeing musicians like Kiwanuka get the merit they deserve once in a while - as opposed to the usual loud (on the outside much more than the inside) one-hit wonder rockers we usually see and hear. Opening for him was Nottingham's up-and-coming singer-songwriter Jake Bugg, whose love of Bob Dylan I discerned pretty much on the first few notes. I've been seeing him all over music publications and websites since, but I can't say that personally I was as taken. The guy did show some promise, and he's still young (hardly 19)...
The Offspring: Come out and play
The Offspring 06/06/12 I had seen the band live a few years ago, and even though I had been happy to relive my wild teenage nights, I hadn't ended up that excited after their performance. I generally find The Offspring something between Green Day's attention-grabbing (well, they try their best!) pop punk and NOFX's more underground punk credibility (I'll get back to this later); the mainstream band punks could dance to without feeling they joined a naughty frat boy party (which is the Green Day case, and it's a foul feeling indeed...). Beyond my expectations, I had great fun at their second Empire gig. Ignition, which that night celebrated its' 20th anniversary and was performed in its' entirety, is a great light punk album - and I've just added it to my "listen to more thoroughly" list (probably along with a few other clueless people). The band was in great form, ultra lively and fun, and it quickly managed to inebriate us with their lasting punk rock anthems - and a bit of Days Go By, their brand new album. Some crowd-surfing there, which security tried to diminish, and a few sing-a-longs, expectedly at the encore's "Self Esteem" and "Come Out And Play", made great memories (I was at work, but I gave it my best). Awesome night!
NOFX: I don't have great things to say about their music, but that's one thing we agree on
 NOFX, The Varukers 16/06/12 If NOFX have more underground credibility than The Offspring and their MTV/major label ilk, they definitely don't have as much as The Varukers: The hardcore punk bombs that opened for them and, as far as I'm concerned, were the real attraction to the show. Heavy, authentic (even though they played a London Empire), wild - they're my kind of band. The headliners, however, were the ones that super-excited the audience, which crowd-surfed constantly, completely defying security this time. Much appreciated - but that fact aside, their whoopee, childish punk rock put me off anything they had to say. In all honesty, I haven't bothered much with their lyrics, I don't even know if I'm missing any important messages between the lines. Maybe I am. But just the sound (and attitude) of silly punk kids partying doesn't really do it for me. Like they're 15 and they sneak out the window while their parents are asleep. I like punks consciously rule-breaking, hardcore in their sound and mindset and, ideally, heavily political.  If I'm to get in a silly mood, I'll listen to The Offspring, who might be less underground, but even they keep a more grown-up profile in comparison. That's as whoopee as I can get.

Review by Danai Molocha, photography found here and there...

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