Scissor Sisters @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

Do you feel like dancing?

16 & 17/05/12

...I, for one, did; courtesy of Scissor Sisters. And I can't say my system is built for all that jolly pop. I was already beginning to feel disc-a-llergic after only a couple of songs.
The audience, of course, looked addicted. To a wild Ana Matronic (I've always been a fan, she's hilarious. The show's joke was, naturally, the Bush); and a restless Jake Shears.
My favorite of them all, though, were the back-up singers stage left, and their perfect little outfits: Short black tops and golden Lycra hot pants with see-through zebra tights (day one); tight zebra overalls (day two). It doesn't get any better than that (though Jake's extravagant fashion choices, naturally, beat them to the punch).
You'll think why such an obsession with outfits in a freaking music review. Well, maybe cause that's half the point in a Scissor Sisters gig: Sport the darn Lycra, sing-a-long Let's Have A Kiki (as in having a good time, in NY slang, according to professor Matronic) and dance your ass off. The song is part of their upcoming fourth album Magic Hour (due end of May) and it was decidedly one of the highlights - especially as it was accompanied by a super dance routine, performed by the two lead singers and the sassy back-ups.
We had a Manhattan kiki alright.
Only The Horses, the album's first single, rather unfortunately reminded me of any other pop factory single in the charts (but it is, quite honestly, more bearable than most). But there was also those old crowd-pleasers: Take Your Mama, Mary, I Don't Feel Like Dancing - ironically, since most vigorously of them all danced the singers that sang it, of course.
Thursday's show, inescapably, was blackened by the passing of disco diva Donna Summer ("she is our angel now"), the voice that breathed life to the Scissor Sisters soul. And thus, she will continue to live through them hereafter.
Stonewall Inn: where Pride began and Scissor Sister continue
The Stonewall riots, the first great rebellion of the gay community against a hateful homophobic government, which took place in NY's Greenwich Village back in 1969, was the second notable event that turned the Sisters all serious. And dead set to bring across a vital message - that of owning up to who you are, your freedom against their oppression.
They might make you shake your ass a lot (and they shake theirs), but they do know how to accompany it with a brain. That's exactly where they differ from all those other bottoms at the top of the charts.

P.S. Hail to the fan who observed me quietly, struggling with additions on a calculator while the whole club was dancing. When I later openly joined them, he said to me upright: "Thank God! I saw you with that calculator and I said "what the hell is she doing?!!"... It's alright, man. I'm cured now.

Review and photography of Stonewall Inn, New York City, by Danai Molocha.

The Hawke and the desert @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

Tinariwen 03/05/12  I looked forward to witnessing once more the live power of those (both politically and musically) impressive sort of desert bluesmen.
Before that, though, there were Jose Gonzalez's opening guitar ballads - among which, popular covers of the Knife's Heartbeats and Massive Attack's Teardrop that imposed a welcome silence over the auditorium. However moving for some, I will have to declare, personally, that his lack of tension rather resulted to a lack of interest where I was concerned.
I had much higher expectations for Tinariwen - a mighty bunch from the Sahara desert, that fight to be heard through their electricity-ridden music, as much as their dedicated acts of resistance. The seemingly ever-present figure of founder Ibrahim Ag Alhabib was immediately conspicuous by its absence. He stayed in Mali in order to help fellow Tuareg refugees (which fact, alone, was enough to instantly launch the band among my most esteemed musicians). Having already experienced their heady mix of sand deep Tuareg tradition and guitar magic, it took me a while to warm up to their performance this time. Maybe it was their latest, fifth album Tassili that didn't quite agree with me, or maybe Alhabib's mandatory... absence for that matter. Surely something got lost in translation.
The biggest excitement of the show came near the end, and it was, unfortunately, non musical: Channel 4's Jon Snow handed the band Songlines magazine's Best Group Award in full glory, followed by a Grammy for Best World Music Album for Tassili. Despite my objections to that particular live show, if anyone deserves it, it's them.
Ladyhawke 11/05/12 Don't let me bore you with the details. I got bored enough myself... waiting for something from Ladyhawke that never actually came. This was a familiar feeling while listening to her eponymous debut in the past, which I was hoping she would be able to overturn during one of her live shows (and therefore justify her inexplicable hipness).
She didn't.
 Her remarks had a friendly air but, the rest of the time, she put on an indifferent facade I found rather snobby. Boring? Definitely... Despite a backdrop of giant light boards flashing her name pompously, the only flashes of excitement I got (barely) were when she played Paris Is Burning and Delirium - the highlight of the show no doubt (and we had to wait till the encore for that one). The rest, pretty pointless..

Review and Tinariwen photography (from their Athens gig ) by Danai Molocha

The Rapture, Factory Floor @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

House of crazy dancers


The Rapture
As a true fan of the authentic US punk/hardcore wave of the seventies and early eighties (don't even get me started on the protopunk explosion of the sixties...) I have looked at many of their more recent reincarnations with suspicion. Peculiarly so, New York's dance-punk wave, in the noughties, stroke a chord. Not that I find a deep purpose or meaning to it; but it does make me want to dance - with a twist.
Awaiting The Rapture, the big surprise came a bit early, in the form of Factory Floor. I caught them soundchecking and I pretty much thought they were a bomb; but I wasn't quite convinced till I witnessed their live show.
That threesome rules.
I was a bit too busy to notice the vocals, which I now discover on their recordings online (I funnily even wonder if they sang live at all...). My eyes were completely drawn by the wild drummer on the left front of the stage, rocking it under a dance attack of noisy electronics (which you couldn't miss, no matter how work-driven you were). From the Joy Division-oriented Francis Francis to their groovy latest video Two Different Ways (and all the remixes by the likes of New Order/Joy Division's Stephen Morris and Throbbing Gristle/Chris & Cosey's Chris Carter in between) Factory Floor are an amazing new-industrial number to get into. And I normally tend to distrust those too.
 Back to The Rapture, they were admittedly less captivating than their support band. Which didn't really make them bad at all.

Factory Floor were pretty edgy m***f****; which made the headliners more tame and accessible dance fashions sound a tad repetitive, in comparison. Funny thing, since it was precisely FF's dynamic industrial repetitiveness that made them so addictive.
But The Rapture standards, like House of Jealous Lovers and Echoes, always do it for me. Their recent third release In The Grace Of Your Love, on James Murphy's DFA, also came with melodic beats like How Deep Is Your Love. Which basically means that the guys belong in the present, as much as they did when they first broke the scene.
All in all, we shook it and swung it and had some pretty cool times. Factory Floor were the biggest discovery of talented support bands I've made since Other Lives (when they opened for Chapel Club last October). Naturally, it has a lot to do with the fact that both bands have accomplished a bit more than just support bigger names (where the hell have I been?!)...
And we expect a lot more.

Review by Danai Molocha, photography fished from the web.

Global Noise Attack (and a few other people) @ The Elecrtrowerkz

Sonic Attack


A rainy Saturday was ideal for a marathon electro-industrial night. Four bands alternated black eyeliner with menacing masks and quirky outfits, building up the energy for the coming Slimelight after-party. 
Ghost in the Static opened up theatrically, enhancing their electro-industrial mix with Goth looks inspired by The Crow.
 Solo Null White combined futuristic electronics with keyboards.  Luckily he wasn't deterred by persisting technical problems.
Bad sound tried to get in the way of Global Noise Attack's Goth extravaganza. But nothing could stop them..

Purposefully exhibitionist frontman Brian Stewart led the band through industrial GNA classics, like
Shapeshifter, Memories and Desperate Culture.
 The frontman wandered around, physically engaging the crowd in the performance, while the bass and the guitar kept up with the dynamic on-stage attack.
Suddenly, spirited Mexican music took over and a colorful Piñata – a papier-mâché donkey, full of sweets - got smashed over our heads. A spectacular close to the show.
Headliners Dreams Divide had a tough act to follow; and they were definitely less eye-catching. But their uplifting energy and melodic electro beats, like Complex and Faces, filled up the dance floor. 

 Review and photography of GNA by Danai Molocha for Live At Your Local,

Ane Brun @ Shepherd's Bush Empire

Nordic pleasures


Ane Brun
 Let me get this straight... How does Ane Brun manage to transform from a dark exotic elf into a lyrical mammal singing carefree in the Nordic shores, sometimes within the same song? The deep musicality and outlandishness of her melodies make her work intriguing, for the most part; yet, at times, her seemingly innocent and naive lyricism (which I'm sure, behind the surface, it's not...) make it hard to listen to her at all.
Linnea Olsson
David Byrne played One (from 2011's It All Starts With One) on a loop on his online radio ( - and deservingly so. A talented backing band (great timing on the quirky harmonies and melodic atmospheres), along with impeccable projections and lighting moods contributed to a show that was both beautiful to listen and to look at. I admire Ane in songs like To Let Myself Go ( But, then, comes Do You Remember (; and though I love the video's style, it's way too peasant opera for my taste...
Dear Ane, excuse my meanness - I wouldn't even write down these lines if I thought you weren't worth it. (that's the best I can say...).
Gemma Ray
Opening act Linnea Olsson also(n) balanced dangerously between gifted and... allergy-inducing. More than once, I found her lyrics a bit simplistic, but her cello counted for quite a few interesting moments. Her debut album Ah! is out now (and here's the single of the same name
As for support No2 Gemma Ray, I had high expectations... 2010's It's A Shame About Gemma Ray held a bunch of sinister, sensually menacing covers of Shirley Bassey's Big Spender (, or Etta James' I'd Rather Go Blind ( - and there was also some Gun Club and Sonic Youth in there; stuff that easily made me adore her. And none other than Monsieur Jimmy Page himself is a fan. Unfortunately, I'm under the impression that, in her new release Island Fire, her noir sensibilities (and the fire, for that matter), have subsided a little. I have yet to listen to the CD itself to have an honest opinion but, despite the smashing reviews, I was slightly let down.

Review by Danai Molocha - photography by the web talented and (consciously or not) generous artists.