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last week – marielyst and odense plus moullettes @ loppen

Last week I was in Marielyst on the Thursday night at the newly renovated and much larger Café Daisy.  They came with cake for me in the break, having found out that it was my birthday!  Very fun night with very fun people…will be back there in the summer (outside if the weather’s good) both solo and with Strong Ale.

On Friday I did the early set at The Old Irish Pub in Odense followed by 2 sets with Strong Ale.  Quite a lot of people I know there and a fab evening with a very drunk Leprechaun and Miss Monkey.  Saturday night I did the late set after the Strong Ale sets.  Fabulous evening again once the crowd got into gear.

On Sunday The Leprechaun and I went to Copenhagen, and, after eating at Pairøen (Copenhagen Street Food) we watched Moulettes play at Loppen in Christiania.  Amazing musicians and terrific use of cello and harmony vocals, and very inventive guitar playing and fantastic drumming, combined with Loppen’s brilliant sound…but still somewhat disappointing.  The interaction with the audience was embarrassingly ill-thought out and awkward, and the band really looked like they didn’t want to be there.  Still, we had a great night – rounded off nicely with drinks at Downtown Copenhagen where the greatest bar staff looked after us and a bunch of English visitors.  Happy days.

My Cd collection pt. 1

I’ve finally moved to a permanent address, which means that I’ve finally unpacked my CD collection which has been in storage for about 7 years.  Having set them up on shelves in the studio I’ve started playing through them in alphebetic order.  So far I’ve got through:

The Adventure Babies: Laugh

The last album released on Factory Records and recorded at Mad Hat Studios in Wolverhampton.  I was going out with an engineer from Mad Hat while it was being made and knew some members of the band and the engineer Mark Stuart.  I met Steve Lilywhite, who produced the album (with Mark) at the Newhampton Pub one evening.  I always liked TAB’s catchy tunes and clever, unorthodox lyrics, and it’s a good quirky, feelgood album

Aerosmith: Big Ones

I never consider myself a fan, but listening to this, it’s astounding how many great songs they crammed onto this.  And you really can’t question the musicianship.  Brilliant stuff and full of deserved hits.

AfroCelt Soundsystem: Vol 1 Sound Magic

The first Afro Celts album is still the best I think and it’s great to hear it again.  Whirl-y-reel was briefly included in Rumpus and The Rhythm Maniacs set when we had Matt playing Bass, whistle and Sax.  Still as good as ever, and – having recently seen the new Emerson fronted line up – it’s got the visual element of a record by a band I’ve seen live (although most of this line up wasn’t there).  Great and ground breaking record.

All About Eve: best of

I’m not a big fan of “best of” albums, but this has nearly the whole first album on it – which is what I really wanted, but this was on offer for a fiver!  Martha’s Harbour, Every Angel must die, Gypsy dance…amazing stuff.  Shame they didn’t keep the magic going longer.

Alphabeat: This is

An Ok album if you can ignore the terrible lyrics, and the out of place cover of Public Image.  You can hear why they made such an impact when they came out, but in retospect, you can also hear that they didn’t have enough substance to back it up with a second bearable album.  Brainless fun for a party.

Altan: Best of

I know…another best of.  Great band and this is one of my most played CD’s (it never made storage in the cellar and has been with me the whole way through!)  Concentrates mostly on the early years and is thus more whistle dominated than later stuff.  Which is no bad thing.

Tori Amos: Tales from a Librarian

Terrific songs from a terrific artist.  Crucify should zap straight on to my Spotify “Greatest Songs Ever Written” playlist

Anthony and The Johnsons: I am a bird now

I bought this on impulse after hearing Anthony do one song on a tribute show (I can’t remember what show).  I rather like his bizarre voice, the music is atmospheric and the theme of gender identity interesting…but a whole album is a lot to take at one time

Atomic Swing: In their finest hour

A great example of why the Swedish music scene has for years been one of the best.  A real band playing real music with real songs about real things.  The bass is beautifully abstract – he does exactly what you don’t expect all the time.  Love this band.  Shame they didn’t do more – I think this is a compilation of 2 albums.  I knew Meat Swap Bossanova, from which many of the songs are taken, and I think they did one more.  Weird in retrospect to hear Phil Spector singing on “So in need of a change”.

B52’s – Planet Clare

Early stuff from the great B52’s – most of this is from 1979, and is the same material by and large they played when we saw them 2 years ago.  Good live band, and that live vibe is captured perfectly on record.  You can’t help but love em!

I’ll keep you posted as I continue…

Afro celt soundsystem

I don’t get to as many gigs (of other artists!) as I’d like to (except at festivals), so when I finally get the chance to see an act I really like it is double the pleasure.  So when my good friend and ex-Rumpus partner Ed Conway suggested seeing Afro Celt Sound System at Birmingham City Hall while I was in England last week, I jumped at the chance.

First, I will get the only negatives out of the way.  They looked awful.  Dressed in the clothes they did their shopping in and with (in the case of the piper, Griogair Labhruidh) a sweater your uncle wouldn’t even wear at Christmas, they hadn’t made an effort on the visual side.  With the exception of the one (hugely talented) African member, N’Faly Kouyate, who donned a long colourful jacket, and the dancers, in their traditional Indian costumes.  And Griogair rapped.  Rapping is shite in any language – even Gaelic.

Right.  That’s the negatives out of the way.  The music more than made up for it.  I had always considered ACSS to be a very electronic project, with the acoustic, traditional instruments laid over computer-based rhythms and synthesizers.  The electronic side, actually, played a much smaller role than I expected and the bulk of the sound was produced by the pipes/flutes/whistles, guitars, kora, drums, percussion and bodhrán augmented by terrific harmony vocals.  The synth was mostly providing bass (I would have preferred a bass guitar, but that’s just a question of taste). One of those who made the biggest impression on me was Rioghnach Connelly on vocals and flute.  A hugely talented lady with great on-stage attitude.  But they were all amazing, and took turns coming to the front before stepping back into the huge African, Asian and Celtic sound soup.

The set was mostly from the new album “Source”, but with a few pieces I recognised from the early Afro Celt albums.  The members of the “other” band who share the name may be threatening legal action and disclaiming the project, but it was very much a Simon Emmerson project in the beginning, as I understand it, and he pulled off a spectacular show with this line-up, featuring all the elements we loved from the early records.

Fab night.

The Great Malarkey in Odense

Last gig I went to (that wasn’t my own) was The Great Malarkey at Dexters in Odense.  If you know the Great Malarkey, you’ll know that they put on an energetic, fun show.  They started the show by getting everyone to stand up and move forward.  Great for those at the front – unfortunately, Dexters being a sit down jazz venue, half the audience were left out of the experience from the start.  The sound at the back was awful, and visibility zero.  However, those of us young enough (haha) and keen enough, sneaked up to the front where the sound was great and a full-blooded gypsy punk party was in full flow.  The singer is a terrific front figure, the drummer looks mad (in a good way), the band look like they enjoy themselves, the trumpet player is (a very young) virtuoso, and they have a french horn.  What more could you want?  Great band – go see them if they play near you.  Just hope it isn’t a jazz venue.

Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party – Old Adam

This week’s recommended album: Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party – Old Adam

To capture so perfectly all the details and nuances of a bunch of acoustic instruments is a feat for which we have to take our collective hats off to Andy Bell, producer of the first Fay Hield album since the terrific Full English project.

But a great sound alone makes not a great album.  Next up the musicians:  Some of the top heavyweights of the current folk scene – Sam Sweeny, John Boden, Martin Simpson, and I’m going to have to add to these category Ben Nicholls, who I saw with Kings of the South Seas, singing and playing concertina, last year, not realising he was the bassist in, amongst others, the Full English.  His double bass playing on Old Adam is stunning, particularly on the opening track. Rob Harbron, Roger Wilson and Toby Kearney all play fabulously too.

Add to this the ever able singing of Fay Hield herself, and an excellent selection of songs – varied in style, mood and content.  All in all a terrific album, and so far album of the year…although it is only February.