Get Down With Dave Adair

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Get Down With Dave Adair!

It’s comin’ up, it’s comin’ up, it’s comin’ up – it’s Adair!

Wotcha trakMARXists, cheeky Northern scamp Dave Adair in the area! As usual, I’ve been busy scanning the parameters of populist culture for you these past couple of months. I’ve been gigging, shopping & generally assessing the cut of pop’s jib on your behalf once again.

Designer Magazine Presents - Shepherds Pi with support from The Tigerpicks, Dear Eskimo and The Spoons (Night & Day Café)

There is no better way to commence a preview to Manchester’s celebration of music (and launch pad for small bands!) that is the annual In The City Event than by giving a band their first gig.

Mixed gender quartet The Tigerpicks use a thrusting electro base to set the stage for the glam/trash dolls vocal pairing of Ches Ross and Emma Leatherbarrow, whose vibrancy and passion make up for the lack of any real vocal cohesion. Early on, the frivolity of Domebadthings is mixed with the provocative pinch of Robots In Disguise to be topped off with the inaudible tension release of Whirlwhind Heat. From the blasé and brittle foundations of this fledgling troupe, ‘Hot Rock’ sticks out for its vocal screeches (à la Jemina Pearl) that bear out exuberance and feistiness. This time the dual vocals slide along neatly with the new wave era accompaniments. Time is needed in the rehearsal room (or house/garage) to make the vocals more compatible with the accomplished single guitar element that provides their traditional Rock & Roll touch. Their weakest link - ‘Pow, Pow, Pow’ - is a vocal/lyrical rip off of Salt N’ Peppa - and has to go! – so that the potential new-wave-reviving and inhibition-releasing ‘Livewire’ can be expanded upon. For this romp they utilise the full power of the synths. This local outfit is definitely made for a Friday or Saturday night as you will need energy in abundance to keep up with them and join in the high jinx.

Regulars of the In The City event (and the local Manchester scene) Dear Eskiimo, use the dual gender vocal approach of Katie and the acoustic guitar commander Simon, blending together a stark approach akin to contemporaries Viva Voce - with Alisha’s Attic and Bjork bursting in intermittently - something that is most prevalent on opener ‘Patience’ - from the promising ‘Be Patient EP’ (2005). The song steps up a notch tonight with assistance from Katie’s hovering vocals - although the vibrant to-and-fro betwixt the front pair during the outro kind of catches out spectators who are revelling in the pop ambience. The transgender blanketing ‘Jack and Jill’ is given a digital toe to add a bit of punch to their most popular offering. Flashes of punk exhilaration help ‘What’s The Matter’ hit home, imbuing it with a bit of rawness that makes this set of five songs ooze out grass-roots authenticity.

Spoons are perfect for this sort of event - they aid the promoters by bringing a high spirited bunch of friends down. Unfortunately, for them, this probably going to be their finite audience in future days as their lack of vocal power and inconsistent instrumental pace renders them uninspiring & redundant. They eventually find their pitch on the Slaughter And The Dogs spirited punk out ‘Facial Control’ - but the dire and lifeless cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ is probably best left without further comment.

The time that celebrity seekers have been preening themselves for arrives - and Rupert Hill (aka Jamie from Corrie) leads his Shepherds Pi outfit into a Bright Eyes veined and country coated, life-bearing sojourn. They have learned lessons from their defeat in the final of the high profile O2 Undiscovered Music Competition, by gelling together with ease from the off. Their cheeky, rambling vocal range unites Chas and Dave and Bob Dylan and raises a few eyebrows! You would struggle to find too many bands like Shepherds Pi around at moment. The dreamy Beatles flirtation - ‘Whistling Tune’ - allows the dual gender rovers to impart a slight blues feel into their make up - and demonstrates inter-band understanding - largely promoted in this combined vocal stroll. A varied evening closes and this quaint outfit do enough to justify their headline slot. On the whole, In The City promises to continue to build upon its reputation for showcasing the broad and often understated talent that lurks in the shadows of the mainstream.

The Long Blondes - ‘Once And Never Again’ (Rough Trade Records)

The stark vocals of Kate Jackson combine the free spiritedness of Chrissie Hynde with the rough n’ ready pitch of Debbie Harry to extol the virtues of maturity over youth. A mish-mash of roving bass and creaky guitars provide a rough edge to the track that gives it it’s rock & roll assuredness. ‘Once And Never Again’ will surely guide yet another Sheffield outfit to victory over the mainstream press and all you music lovers out there.

Klaxons – ‘Magick’ (Polydor)

Ever wondered what music would be played on a space buggy ride between the picturesque planets of Jupiter & Saturn? It would probably be the hovering electro bustle of the truly atmospheric ‘Magick’. Jamie Reynolds’ vocals hover in a groovy fashion occupying the galaxy betwixt the sounds of Chicane and Joseph K to keep up the thrust of the expansive crescendo building back-drop. ‘Hall Of Records’ grows from a slower core groove whilst the vocals take on a drop of soul - the accompaniment represents more of a consistent climb - & slots them closer to the mainstream in the process.

Humanzi – ‘Out On A Wire’ (Fiction)

This veracious quartet recently caused thousands of Juliette Lewis & The Licks fans to do a double take on a recent tour of the UK - with their molten riffing and tension spouting vocals provided by Shaun Mulrooney. With ‘Out On A Wire’ - their third release from the fresh and throbbing debut album, ‘Tremors’ - the demonstrative Dubliners display a tender side via this prowling rock parade of disgruntled, romantic fayre. The song has a jangling feel that builds from a rumbling bass-line foundation (provided by Gary Lonergan) to elevate the reflectively passion-fuelled lyrics and draws out parallels with The Jesus and Mary Chain. Humanzi are growing into a varied and earnest rock outfit and it is certainly a case of the more the merrier in this category.

The Horrors – ‘Count In Fives’ (Loog Records)

So, it’s racing garage/techno/indie with a growl that’s the getting press and trendy musos’ motors running at the moment, is it? Stalking vocals (and lyrics to boot) leap out from a rugged base to create a vacuum of gnarly tension. It’s the sort of stuff you’d listen to on repeat whilst trying to run a marathon dressed up as a Clingon from Star Trek - to keep your energy for the obscure circulating. ‘Night Of The Long Knives’, sounds like a The Libertines demo recorded in Pete’s garage just after his stash has been stolen by the paperboy. ‘Count In Fives’ possesses mainstream affectations in spades but features enough witty asides gruff intonations to keep them a band apart.

The Dears – ‘Whites Only Party’ (V2 Music)

Surly and serious on the outside - but this six strong Montreal outfit have demonstrated with their three albums so far that this veils an appreciation for range and rhythm - making for the perfect forum for their dark lyrical edge. ‘Whites Only Party’ is the second single from the recent ‘Gang Of Losers’ album and it has seen the band become the subject of more media seculation than Wayne Rooney’s goal drought. ‘Whites Only Party’ perfectly encapsulates their sprightly musical prowess and the slightly peeved edge that has gained them this recognition. Singer Murray Lightburn’s soulfully sure touch toes along the jazzy guitars - and Natalia Yanchak’s high profile keyboard pitch and is topped off by some stroking percussion:

“We ain’t here to steal your women/at least that wasn’t planned
 There’s that closet smell/think you’ve bin inside their too long”

With their Stone Rose’s style gang mentality - The Dears are finding a way of reaching out.

The Bronx with support from Ladyfinger and Winnebago Deal (The Roadhouse, Manchester)

Austere, backward-gazing rock with hurried tension and boldly caustic vocals provided by Chris introduce Omaha, Nebraska’s Ladyfinger. Defying common convention by reaching a snappy pace with percussion and guitar rhythm - being able to maintain it for four minutes via ‘Who Believes Enough’ - gives these feral rockers their edge. Their grunge-speckled vocals are at their most pronounced on this groovy number and highlight their lyrical snap:

“Who has enough patience/ to wait for something better to come?  
I know that I am not the one/
Who knows a face that you can trust?” 

Slowly, this intriguing mixture of adventurous indiekids and gnarly rockers drop their guard and let Ladyfinger finger their minds and push their bodies just a little bit more. The shimmering 70s British rock-out of ‘Too Cool For School’ facilitates this the aim succinctly. The set picks up pace in a post-rock fashion - with a melodic grind that keeps thinks ticking over. Even a snapped guitar string during the peddle-to-the-metal closer ‘Smuggler’ doesn’t put this focused and fiery quartet off one bit.

The Oxfordshire pairing of Ben Perrier and Ben Thomas have been crashing round the UK with steadfast belief in their tension ripping sound for several years now. Winnebago Deal’s early EP - ‘Plato O Plomo’ - lit the blue touch paper - and they just kept on building. Tonight they display variety as well as the customary ram-raiding percussion and bolting guitars. Perrier’s throaty vocal bite has grown in focus and intensity - as the Fu Manchu styled ‘Black Spider’ draws out. It has taken time for the slash and burn of the Deal to catch on - but impartial observers tonight soon joined the freewheeling bandwagon.

The main difference between the headliners and the two support acts this evening has nothing to do with ability - just approach. Bronx front man, Matt Caughthran, sports a cocky and strutting presence - often adding one extra member to an already tightly packed crowd - but generally implies that modern rock is still shrouded in a veil of pretension. The Bronx are somewhat perfunctory at times – despite their Emo leanings.

Of the new album tracks on display tonight - ‘Your Shitty Future’ harks back to the inception of punk - combing bewilderment with angst - helping to revive a flagging set - and causing ruptures in the crowd. However, it’s the raw and searing, metal-skirting ‘Stop The Bleeding’ - from the ‘La Muerta Viva’ EP (2003) - that captures the true determination and combined force of The Bronx. The brazen ‘False Alarm’ assures an energetic and sincere end to proceedings.

Betty Curse – ‘Here Lies Betty Curse’ (Universal Records)

Manufactured prima-Madonna actress - or off-kilter attitude chick with her finger on the pulse of the alternative scene? As usual in these cases, the answer lies in a murky mixture between the two standpoints. The spiralling goth/rock/ache-out of ‘God This Hurts’ boasts a poignant vocal grip that reeks of defiance - but the accompanying sounds are as polished as a shiny happy brass knob - detracting slightly from the rawness. ‘Girl With Yellow Hair’ is puerile kiddie-punk – harmless, feisty and catchy. The fat bass lines of Adam Curse (all five band members are cursed with the same surname) rumble along like a gorilla’s stomach on the jungle floor propelling the disdain of this young vixen as she draws you into her outsider world where the piercing chorus is her coup de grace. The instrumentation drops into Cure territory on occasion - taking on an atmospheric stance where booming choruses are swerved in favour of sultry song building. ‘Do You Mind (If I Cry)?’ and ‘Dark Dark World’ exemplify this approach - reading like lonely teenager’s poetry. The romantic interlude - ’Beautiful Together’ - illustrates the group’s tender side behind all the blood and goth. This slower and more thoughtful facet continues on ‘The Look On Tony’s Face’ - where haughty vocals are propelled by insistent guitars. ‘Rot In Heaven’ is truly what Betty Curse are about - a simple rock song that turns around conventions and uncovers the sleaze in everyday life with punchy provocation. This closes a surprisingly varied and hearty offering that belies the one dimensional off-spin tag their name implies.

The Young Knives with support from Fortune Drive and The Grates (Liverpool Academy 2)

Ranging instrumental strolls and gritty but soulful/folk spiked vocals punctuate the Bristol outfit Fortune Drive’s set. The way the polished piano kick collides with the rustic blues vocals of Bobby Anderson and thrusting percussion of Mark Bent provide a delectable meeting of contrast. This element, along with false endings and cohesive build-ups, makes for an enticing prelude to their forthcoming dates with Idlewild. The rumbling 70s rock howl of ‘My Girlfriend’s An Arsonist’ is fired out with heated gusto - turning heads at the bar - and drawing people closer. Fortune Drive are a band who suffer a tad on their cross of variety - but their general approach will certainly grow on you.

The leading lady of Australian trio The Grates - Patience Hodgson - grabs life by the scruff of the neck and dances playfully with it. Clad in angelic get-up, she springs into action for a Kills style yelping bound through ‘Trampoline’. Animated stage antics are complemented by focused musical flanking in the form of the heavy bass drum utilising Alan Skyring - as well as the spiralling guitars of John Patterson. Patience sings to each member of the crowd in between her buoyant gyration - spending the between-song intervals playfully pointing out the peccadilloes of buzzing crowd members. With the release of debut album - ‘Gravity Won’t Get High’ - having been put back more times than the date of Tony Blair’s departure, this is the first opportunity for many people to see these colourful Antipodeans. ’19-20-20’ demands a buoyant atmosphere with it’s catchy disco-for-a-Friday-night, feel. The sauntering single - ‘Science Is Golden’- also oozes enthusiasm and spirit. It is left to the punchy disco-meets-new-wave spark of ‘Inside Outside’ to ensure that The Grates are bathed in applause upon their exit.

Not long after the bluesy intro to opener ‘Part Timer’ (that also opens their recent album, ‘Voices of Animals and Men’) - The Young Knives strike you as a beefed up version The Futureheads. Pouncing, oft-repeated choruses shake up a packed venue. Lead singer Henry Dartnall - flanked by bassist, House Of Lords (aka Thomas Dartnall) - get into their snapping stride. B-sides pad out album tracks and display a slightly more experiment side to this outfit. ‘Guess The Baby’s Weight’ draws out a lighter guitar and bass edge. At the close of play, The Young Knives do just enough to keep the attention erect throughout - but you can’t help wondering if the occasional keyboard lick (or some other instrumental addition) would brighten up their increasingly dull, well-trodden indie-garden path.

Red Mojo (FU Bar, Padgate Campus, Warrington)

In a Student Bar - on a Monday night - the patrons are eagerly watching a below-par Middlesborough team desperately trying to eek their way back into the game against a Pearce-propelled Man City. Suddenly, the bland commentary is interrupted the prominent, jazzy, thrusting, bass lines of Pete Kenny on ‘Mind If I Cut In’ - and local quintet Red Mojo have taken over. Lee Leonard’s vocals stroll along the tops of the pattering percussion and wiry guitars. If the opener slowly turned heads away from the soccer, then ‘Kaleidoscope Land’ - with its Beck elements – demonstrates the kind of tightness and adventure that Middlesborough would sell their red shirts for. This song is bound to form the crux of their forthcoming debut album and makes full use of the homely acoustics.

The epic soundscapes concealed within ‘Suddenly Unexpected Man’ set a Mogwai-style agenda and build to a crushing crescendo with a nod and a wink towards The Super Furry Animals’ ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’. Appreciation of da blues gives ‘Debris’ its kick causing sullen looks of contemplation to appear on the bewildered faces of those gathered tonight. A rangy set culminates with the band’s gritty answer to ‘I Am The Resurrection’: ‘What Am I To You?’. This marathon climax utilises every sound the Mojo’s have amassed thus far. Lenn’s vocals reach a punk pitch at points. Atmospheric rushes, free-spirited jamming and rhythm gushing interludes ensure that Red Mojo exit the stage having left a lingering impression.

Dave Adair – tMx 27 – 11/06
Contact: - Writing About Music Is Like Dancing To Architecture