Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Boris @ Sacred Trinity Church, Manchester, 26th June 2007

Tue 26 Jun – BORIS
Tonight's gig - Japanese rockers Boris playing in a small church in Manchester.

Very unusual gig! Well, unusual compared with most other concerts I guess; I have heard of, and seen, church gigs before, this wasn't unique by a long shot. But it was still very interesting watching a band like Boris playing in such a tiny venue. After all, they play at Festivals for thousands of people at one time, so a small venue of just over 100 people is a bit like a break from the norm.

The show was good, nice enough venue, as far as churches go this one seemed quite liberal. A liberal church! You heard it here first. There's a strange piece of artwork on the wall in there of what appears to be a vampire biting a girl's neck, a big old piece of canvas art with fangs and blood and all that. In a church. Underneath it there's a small quote from the bible, something about wives honouring their husbands, next to it was a £250 price tag to buy the artwork. So, churches are also being used as vampiric art house these days. I wonder if the Vatican knows about all this?

Let's get to the Boris gig and their set. We saw the support band, Day for Airstrikes, we watched for a good while from the back of the room through a crowd at least, they sounded fine to me. After they were finished on the stage, the area was taken over with guys acting as roadies for the Boris performance. Then 2 of the band came down to the stage area (the altar) - it was Takeshi & Wata, who play the guitars. They started the set soon after, just the 2 of them. But no drummer... where was he? Then my gig buddy tapped me on the shoulder and I turned just in time to see Atsuo leap over a pew and past us, marched to his kit and away they went.

After they played Pink Takeshi beckoned everyone to come close to the band, everyone piled forward and stood about 2 metres away from the stage for the rest of the show.

Boring sidenote: I kneeled in 'seiza' (the formal japanese kneeling position) under the pulpit for the whole set from there on in, this was because it was the only space I could find to get a good view of the band because space was so cramped. It was very ironic to be watching a Japanese band while kneeling in seiza. I got some great photos from that point of view.

The set list, all you doom geeks out there, went something like:

1. Farewell
2. Rainbow
3. Pink
4. (song with Japanese title)
5. Ibistu
6. Sun Flower Rain
7. Just Abandoned My-Self
8. over 30 minutes of Flood

The above vid is a clip that I took of the last song - a song which was about half an hour long - this is the intro of the second part of "Flood", you can see from that we were quite close to the stage area, about 2 or 3 meters away from Wata and her Les Paul. I took a few more vids and a pile of photos too (mainly of Wata). What can I say: I'm a Wataphile.

Anyway, great show. I enjoyed it a lot anyway. Kudos to the promoters. You don't get many doom metal gigs in churches, especially in Northwest England, so when they come around you should go to em if you can. I look forward to the next one. The merchandise at Boris shows is always very good too, I got myself a new double vinyl record by them called "Doomriders vs Boris", which will probably be played once and put away on my shelf with the rest of my Boris records, and I got a nice tshirt as well. The white one.

We've got tickets to see Boris again next Monday when they play in London - I dunno right now if I can make it along because of work commitments, I also dunno whether it's going be be such a good idea traveling to London for a 3rd time in 2 weeks! But I do like Boris a lot, and it would looked good on my "Gigs attended in 2007" list, so perhaps I will make it along after all. Who knows! If not, well, I have 4 tickets spare for the London show that will inevitably go to waste.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Sunn @ Southbank Centre, London, 18th June 2007

We saw Sunn in concert again yesterday, at a venue right on the waterfront of the River Thames no less, about 400 yards from the London Eye ferris wheel and in view of Big Ben and the Houses Of Parliament. The venue they played at was the Southbank Centre which is located in on the Thames riverside between Golden Jubilee and Waterloo Bridges, in Central London. The venue has lots of concert halls inside it, the gig was held in somewhere called The Queen Elizabeth Hall - very posh sounding - it usually gets used for chamber orchestra recitals, I don't know if it's ever been used for anything like Sunn before (or if it will again).

This was part of an event called "Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown". Jarvis Cocker, in case you aren't sure, is a musician from Sheffield who used to be in an indie band called Pulp. My sister liked Pulp, never really my thing though. Cocker's best moment was when he ran on stage at the Brit Awards show and disrupted Michael Jackson on a stage full of young children. For that one stunt, Jarvis Cocker is forever infamous and awesome. Oh lets not forget that he wrote some good tunes too, I guess.

The Sunn show was great, different than the previous Sunn gigs that I've been to (5 now) but it reminded me of the time I saw them in a venue over in Dublin that's called The Crawdaddy. I say that mainly because we were seated for the performance in Dublin and we were again here in London. The mood of the gig was similar to Dublin as well, not the same, but similar. I don't think Sunn ever play the same set twice. By the nature of their music I don't think it's possible to.

Every time this band performs it seems to have a different amount of players on stage. The core of the band is just 2 guys - Greg Anderson and Stephen O'Malley. Then they will usually add a vocalist, this time it was Attila Csihar (a Hungarian bloke who we met for the first time earlier this year in Norway and in Holland, the second time we met him he was much more relaxed and spent half an hour talking with us after their gig). When they played in Liverpool last year they had a different guy (Wrest) doing vocals. Sometimes a keyboard player will join them on stage - other times they employ synthesizers instead of keyboards. During this gig they used both. In other shows they've used a third guitarist, they even had a trombone when they played in Norway. In Dublin they had 7 guys in the band. Really, it's seems that they never quite have the same line up for any two tours in succession.

Fot this show in London they performed as a 5-piece; I think it was 3 guitars, 1 keyboard and Attila's vocals. Attila's performance this time round was very striking, sometimes chanting like a Gregorian monk, other time using his mouth and throat to make sinister sounding breathing, grunting and even squeaking noises. During the initial vocals all of the lights in the concert hall were off apart from two green spotlights shining up onto Attila, who was stood alone at the front of the stage. He was dressed in the now familiar Sunn robes (the band always dress in full-length robes with Cowls covering their faces). The set began with acapella for 5 or 10 minutes, then keyboards joined him, then the droning guitars joined in for the full-on Sunn performance.

Sunn are not going to appeal to everyone who sees them live, they are loud (very loud), slow (VERY slow) and to an untrained ear there's no apparent rhythm to their songs, there's no drum keeping a beat. Lots of people in the hall got up and left about half an hour into the performance - not their cup of tea. Also I noticed a lot of people sat in my vicinity were falling asleep in their seats during the performance. This might be out of boredom, but I have seen this before at gigs being attended by full-on Sunn listeners and I figure that drone must have some kind of hypnotic effect when played loud enough in a venue with the right kind of acoustics. You can feel the vibrations from the speakers shaking your clothes and, if you are sat down, you can feel your chair rattling underneath you. Sound you can feel - sonic art!

Towards the end of the performance Attila left the stage and came back on dressed in a strange potato sack outfit and blonde wig - he uses this on stage with another band, Burial Chamber Trio. The show ended after about 90 minutes, it finished with more Attila acapella and then all of the lights went out - when they came back on all of the band where lying about on the floor by their equipment, like something from a murder mystery play, as though they were all dead on the stage. A very theatrical end to another unique display from a very unique set of performers.

We never did see Jarvis Cocker though.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Thee Great Donington Break-In

Thee Claw went to Donington to see the Download festival. These days they officially refer to the event as Download, but let's just call it Donington... for old time's sake. We weren't ever assured of getting in there, so I haven't mentioned it before, but we have been talking amongst ourselves about going down there to try and get in for a week or so.

We had a little help from a man called Alan North who's birthday should be a national holiday. This is in spite of his disgusting habit of cupping his hand over his arse when farting then putting into your face and holding it there like chloroform on a rag while you struggle about in panic trying to escape. He still helped us get in though, so for that we can forgive him and his farting fetish just this once.

We arrived just in time to hear Mastodon playing on the main stage, but all of the stuff we wanted to see was in a tent at the far end of the event, called The Dimebag Darrel Tent. Before we got there Suicidal Tendencies had already played, shame we never got to Donington earlier. We saw:

Orange Goblin
Orange Goblin are doom metal, or stoner rock maybe. Think of Black Sabbath on the Master Of Reality album or the song Supernaut even, that's what Orange Goblin sound like to me. They came on and we ran down to the front, then past the pit (when it finally happened 3 songs into the set) and stood close to the barrier, getting shoved in the back and loving it. I remember Patchie saying "I love Orange Goblin!". Then - I saw it - I noticed that the singer (Ben Ward) has got a big L.F.C. tattoo on his left shoulder. I pointed it out to Patchie, who then looked away in disgust saying "I hate Orange Goblin!". Haha, nah he never said that really, but it was something to that effect. They played a good set and set the rest of day up nicely.

Paradise Lost
Last time I saw Paradise Lost was in Liverpool about ten years ago, they were touring with Die Krupps at the time. Die Krupps were really good, Paradise Lost were pretty shit. When we saw them at Donington I ran down the front with Northy's missus and when we got there we stayed for about 5 minutes and then walked back to the rest of the gang. The PD crowd is very still, no dancing at the front of the crowd at all. I didn't enjoy this set much, which is a shame. I always like the album "Icon" by Paradise Lost too. Ah well, seen them twice now anyway.

Napalm Death
Napalm are playing here in Liverpool on Thursday night and I don't think I can make it along to see them because I am working and can't get leave. Just as well I bunked into Donington to see them instead then eh! As soon as they got on Barney (vocals) started running around on the stage as though he was in a pit, all on his own, bouncing about off thin air. Then the music started and I don't remember much else because I was right down at the front (again) pitting with aplomb. They played about 20 songs in 20 minutes and finished their set with their cover of Nazi Punks Fuck Off - I used to have that on 7" but sold it on ebay when I was broke. As for the set, I think this was the most fun I had at Donington.

The Lauren Harris Band
We never really saw much of this band - I ran into the tent where they were playing especially to have a look for roughly 2 songs, then left. I made sure to go and check them out especially so I could write this small paragraph for you to read... now that it's here in print, was it really worth it??

Cult Of Luna
COL played in the same tent as the Lauren Harris lot, and again I ran in and had a quick blimp, nothing more than that. But that still counts as having seen them live... right?

Okay this is getting a bit boring now. Yes, they played, yes, we were there. But no, we never actually saw them per se, we just happened to be stood there chatting amogst ourselves while Evanesence did their thing over on the main stage. I remember the singer chick saying "Thank you Download! We love you!" at the end of their set. I also recognised a few of their songs. Sorry, I am not into this band at all, although I am sure the kids down by the stage loved every second of it.

Iron Maiden
If you are interested, there is a video of this complete set available for download here. Maiden were great. Well, I remember them as being great, but this is the main reason that I went along to this festival so really they could have come out on stage and stood waving at the crowd for 2 hours and I would still have wrote a review about it saying that they were great. They played a stack of new stuff to begin with, then a stack of old stuff to end with. I was pleased with the lot of it! Apparently Bruce Dickinson fell over while running across the stage at one point, proper went arse-over-tit. I didn't get a very good view of that from the middle of the crowd though! We went down to the front a few times, just for the sake of being at the front for Maiden at Donington. It was too much to bare for much more than a couple of songs, after that we retreated back up the hill to actually watch the band and not get squashed by the thousands of idiots cramming together and not hearing the songs properly for 2 hours. They only did one encore before the night was over, then the band left the stage and Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life started up, signaling the end of the set. Towards the end of the show you could see plumes of smoke billowing from piles of rubbish all around the festival site - gangs of kids were steaming about the place (a criminal act where gangs use sheer force of numbers to intimidate) and setting fire to anything they could get their hands on.

That about covers it. It was a great day though, sun shining for most of it. I really enjoyed it. Napalm Death was particularly awesome.