Issue 8 / February 2011

bidolito

February 2011 issue of Bido Lito! Featuring FOREST SWORDS, THE WILD EYES, HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT, PAYPER TIGER RECORDS and much more.

Issue 8

February 2011

Forest Swords

The Wild Eyes

Half Man Half

Biscuit

Payper Tiger

Records

Forest Swords by John Robert Jones

www.bidolito.co.uk

FREE


Bido Lito! February 2011 3

Editorial

When does it become unacceptable to wish somebody ‘Happy New Year’? By the time you’re reading this, its

probably early February. It cheeses me off royally when people start banging on about christmas in November so,

by the same logic, going on about New Year five or six weeks after the event is a non starter. So...Happy February.

A refusal to wish someone ‘Happy New Year’ does not extend, however, to a ban on discussing what you got up

to on New Years Eve itself. I won’t rub your nose in it, but we had a blast at the Bido Lito! NYE do...bouncing round

Static Gallery at midnight, kissing strangers to the sound of Talking Heads, all carried out in the midst of some of

the most well oiled folk I’ve ever had the privilege to share an evening with. With scorching performances from The

Wild Eyes, The Lucid Dream, Owls* and The Loud, as well as a free reign of DJing mashups from some of our bestest

chums trust me, it was messy. There’s a legion of ‘whats gonna be bloomin’ ace next year’ polls kicking around, I

think you could do little better that earmarking those four bands, as well as this month’s cover star, Forest Swords,

for an exciting 12 months.

With a New Year comes a new start. A chance to take stock and reflect. There’s no Nicorette patches, drinking bans

or gym memberships on the cards at Bido Lito! HQ, no sir, but we thought we’d

take the opportunity to make some nips and tucks to our pink pages (much less

painful than nips and tucks to our pink love handles). The eagle-eyed among you

will notice the loss of our middle eight section, in favor of a new News Page (page

6), alongside the Bido Lito! Dansette and our regular monthly competition and a

further page of gig previews and short band features (page 20). These changes will

allow us to bring you even more news on what is going on musically in our city

and we hope you dig the changes. If you don’t, well, in the words of Janis Joplin,

Janis - Trying a little bit harder

Try (Just A Little Bit Harder).

To add to the previews and recommendations for shows to check out in February, and there really are some

corkers lined up (hats off to all you promoters by the way...I thought it was meant to be dead in February?!) I’d

personally like to say that I can’t wait to see The Bees back in Liverpool. The band hold a special place in my heart

ever since the shows we promoted for them with Nautical and Dead Young in 2007 and 2008. I’m a huge fan and I’ll

throwing my Left Foot Stepdown at The Stanley Theatre this month...get yer self down.

I was in London for the day yesterday and took the opportunity to harvest some of the latest Shoreditch rags for

perusal on the bus home (a tenner on the national express v eighty quid on the train...what would you do?!) and

was pleased to see Bido Lito! favorites Stealing Sheep featured in the latest edition of Loud And Quiet. However,

upon reading the piece, I was a little disappointed to take in the writer’s observations of our city’s musical offerings,

‘Liverpool does have a tendency (from personal experiences, at least) to be somewhat musically regressive, always

clinging onto something gone by and draining the life from every last pore...’ Dear dear. The guy clearly doesn’t

know his onions from his shallots and its frustrating to see a publication, which I remain a fan of, allowing such

mis-guided, lazy and plainly incorrect stereotypical bile through its editing process. Up yer game lads! Craig, Calm

Down...Calm Down, you’re starting to sound like you give a toss. Our old cockney cousins, you’ve gotta love em.

Mine’s a Cains Yozzer.

Here’s to 2011 people...well, whats left of it.

Craig G Pennington

Editor

Bido Lito!

Volume One – Issue Eight

bidolito.co.uk

Bido Lito

Static Gallery, 23 Roscoe Lane

Liverpool, L1 9JD

info@bidolito.co.uk

Editor

Craig G Pennington - info@bidolito.co.uk

Assistant Editor

Christopher Torpey - reviews@bidolito.co.uk

Photo Editor

Jennifer Pellegrini - photos@bidolito.co.uk

Designer

Luke Avery - info@earthstudios.net

Words

Craig G Pennington, James Dodd, David Lynch,

Sean Fell, Christopher Torpey, Philip Gofton,

John Still, Katy Long, Nik Glover, The Glass

Pasty, Daniel Nicholson, Richard Lewis, Anna

Torpey, Jonny Davis, Alexander Court, P. Lee,

Pete Robinson

Photographs

David Howarth, John Robert Jones, Jennifer

Pellegrini, Catherine Bourne, Keith Ainsworth,

John Johnson, Rob Rossington, Jane

MacNeill

Illustrations

Jojo Norris, Gareth Arrowsmith

Adverts

To advertise in Bido Lito! please contact

Another Media: bidolito@anothermedia.org

0151 708 2841

MAGAZINE

LAUNCH

PARTY

SATURDAY 26TH FEB

THE SHIPPING FORECAST

SLATER ST, LIVERPOOL

DJ SETS FROM DELPHIC,

KID BRITISH, GARETH BROOKS

LIVE SETS FROM PICTURE BOOK,

JANICE GRAHAM BAND

TICKETS £10 WITH ALL PROCEEDS TO CALM

BUY FROM WWW.SKIDDLE.COM


Features

8

10

12

14

FOREST SWORDS.

There are few artists out there right now who can render you this powerless.

PAYPER TIGER RECORDS.

“People are finally beginning to realise that they need to take control of their own lives.”

THE WILD EYES.

“Rock n roll needs to be plugged in and primal. This music is the preserve of freaks and weirdos.”

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT.

Clearly not a band moulded by contracts and obligations, HMHB have remained true to their own respected lives.

16 LIVERPOOL ACOUSTIC.

Regulars

Like the evolution of the orally-transmitted song, a process stemming from the people, by the people, to the people.

17 WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

It’s a pleasure to see a promoter with so much enthusiasm for what they do.

6 NEWS 18 RANTS/COMMENT

20 PREVIEWS/SHORTS

22

REVIEWS


News

Bido Lito! Dansette

Our pick of tracks for the month

Bido Lito! Launches New Podcast

Bido Lito! are thrilled to announce the launch of our new monthly podcast. Presented by Deke

Hardman of NXNW fame, along with Bido Lito! Editor Craig G Pennington and Assistant Editor

Christopher Torpey, the hour long show will showcase music from Liverpool artists featured in

the current issue of Bido Lito!, plus live sessions, guest interviews and previews of upcoming

shows. Download the first show now for free from itunes or bidolito.co.uk

The Sand Band’s LP Lands

THE SAND BAND’s long awaited debut album All Through The Night has arrived at last. The

cover stars of the first ever Bido Lito! back in June 2010, have received heavy praise for the

record from national magazines such as Q and Mojo, with The Independent saying that the

record, ‘...is what the Verve might have sounded like if they’d come from Memphis. Understated

and really rather lovely.’ We couldn’t agree more...order now from roughtrade.com

Kane’s got a Beady Eye on you

Former Rascal and one half Last Shadow Puppet MILES KANE releases his second solo single

this month. The vinyl pressing of Come Closer, released on Columbia Records, features a tasty

remix courtesy of Domino Record’s Steve Mason, formerly of The Beta Band. Following on from

his successful homecoming at Liverpool Music Week, Miles and his band play the Kazimier on 25th

February, before heading out on the road with Liam Gallagher’s, Beady Eye. Smart. mileskane.com

The Cubical are no Eurosceptics

There seems to be no stopping Liverpool’s own, Waits-ian/psych wonder kids THE CUBICAL from

their Napoleonic advancement across Europe. Fresh from last year’s adventure, including a summer

support slot with Bob Dylan in Spain, Dan Wilson and company spend February traversing a tour from

Wageningen to Bilbao. The group’s latest single Dirty Shame, along with a hip shaking video (check

it out online...we urge you!), is out now. Partido que baila. myspace.com/thecubicalthecubical

Big Pink Disco Party!

Bido Lito! have teamed up with Liquidation @ Le Bateau, to host the upstairs at their fine soiree,

each and every Saturday night. We’ll be playing the sounds of our pink pages, alongside Bido Lito!’s

psych/post-punk/garage favourites and the finest new noise. We’ve given The Bido Lito! Social Club

an overhaul too. With the help of Harvest Sun Promotions, The Tea Street Band will be appearing,

alongside Ticks and Mashemon with Bido Lito! DJs, at The Shipping Forecast on 17th February.

The Fresh & Onlys

Summer Of Love

IN THE RED

Taken from this San Francisco group’s

scintillating LP, Play It Strange,

this track forges the somewhat

uncharted link between Crystal Stilts

and The Doors. The missus bought

me it for christmas and I played it

loads on christmas day, hence it just

reminds me of feeling bloated and

sick...despite which, it still sounds

utterly glorious. Essential.

The Wild Eyes

Sweet Teardrops

UNSIGNED

THE WILD EYES...are...class. I’ll say it

again. The Wild Eyes...are...class. This

ramshackle live offering is currently

streaming on their myspace. Its The

Modern Lovers battling with The

Stooges, with Blonde On Blonde-era

Dylan wailing out front. These are

gonna be mega in 2011. No lies.

Tame Impala

Lucidity

MODULAR RECORDS

A thudding slice of ‘60s-inspired

psych blues that will melt your brain

faster than you can say “I saw Cream

at the Twisted Wheel!” Perfect for the

blowing away of those early-year

cobwebs, immerse yourself in the

world of these Aussie warpsters.

Karen Elson

The Ghost Who Walks

THIRD MAN RECORDS

Not just a pretty face, Mrs Jack

White chimes and swoons on this,

the best track from one of the best

albums released on her hubby’s

label. For fans of the ghostly Cold

Mountain soundtrack, this is pure,

unadulterated bliss.

www.bidolito.co.uk


8

Bido Lito! February 2011

FOREST SWORDS

Words: David Lynch

Photography: John Robert Jones

It’s a weird thought that something as tedious as

redundancy could give birth to a product as inspired as

FOREST SWORDS. Turns out if you give a graphic designer

with a four track and a laptop a year off, the result is

something as innovative as it is staggeringly beautiful

(Disclaimer: Any graphic designers reading this don’t quit

your job just yet). This is the case it appears for 25 year old

Matt Barnes at least, who has critics foaming at the mouth

with what essentially started as a hobby.

After finding himself at a loose end following his job

loss Matt found his passion for music returning, something

he had neglected during his pursuit of a career (fuck the

rat race, maaan). After putting a few of the tracks he had

knocked together on the internet, he was soon contacted

by New York based label Olde English Spelling Bee, offering

to put out some of his work in the form of a vinyl EP. As he

explains to me, this was an incredibly helpful promotional

tool in itself; “OESB has its own fan base that will buy

anything that’s on the label. They know what they’re getting

when they buy from them.” Several pressings later and it

appeared that the public liked what they heard; something

even Matt himself hadn’t really expected having not yet

put any excessive exertion into his musical venture. The

success of these vinyl releases meant it wasn’t long until

an English label wanted a piece of the action and so No

Pain In Pop, a London based independent, swooped in and

released the much acclaimed album Dagger Paths. Around

this time the frenzy of critics tripping over themselves like

a gang of rabies-infested monkeys with Macs began and is,

thus far, unceasing.

So what is it about Forest Swords that thrusts him above

all else in the saturated world of online music? One listen

to Dagger Paths will tell you pretty much all you need

to know. The LP doesn’t just simply avoid the concept of

genre, it slaps it in the face in a club and then ignores its

calls. It’s just ‘so’ Forest Swords. There are few artists out

right now who can render you this powerless as mesmeric

themes and meticulous loops draw you into an almost

synaesthetic state throughout each and every track. Forest

Sword’s music just feels visual and even rarely shows it is

a product of the Wirral, as you hear the roll of the Atlantic

and the roar of a sea breeze over relaxing dub beats. This

is music that feels natural and therefore it’s unsurprising

when Matt admits avoiding reading any reviews in order to

not know what it is that people like about it. When he tells

me; “I don’t consciously think I’ll make it sound like this or

this or this,” he is the first artist I can actually believe such

statements from because his music never actually does

feel contrived. It feels like a visceral product, an honest

statement straight from his darkest recesses, and that’s

what makes it such a rare and beautiful thing.

We discuss his plans to perhaps bring this splendour to

a wider audience with live shows and though he admits

that Liverpool is “a city built on live music,” he says that

live outings are “never something that has been at the

forefront of [his] mind.” Despite this, he is planning a couple

of shows with No Pain In Pop in which he is looking at

perhaps utilising a choir in order to replicate the numerous

haunting and obscure vocal samples in his work. If such

an event were to go ahead then it’s certain the clamour to

attend would be overwhelming.

With the popularity of Forest Swords being a direct

product of the download era of music, I am keen to get his

thoughts on the issue, especially on the difficulty in artists

making money these days. He states that developments

have “levelled the playing field” somewhat, in that

everyone can get their music out there and whilst he

may not now be able to make amounts of money which

he can live off through music, the converse of that issue

is that he would never have been discovered in the first

place without the internet. As he is looking to release a

new album in the Spring, which he excitedly added he is

“talking to some bigger labels” over, this issue is set to

affect him yet again. And yet, there is no bitterness over

it hurting his paycheque, as he confesses he understands

both sides of the argument (I think that means he’s

downloaded before...).

What we all must hope for is that if the last decade was

the one that contained the ‘download boom,’ then maybe

this will be the one that contains the ‘download settle down

a bit now and find a bit of rhythm?’ Starting with 2011, it’s

about time the whole thing got into some sort of swing in

order to allow more artists a chance and remove the climate

of uncertainty in the music market. If you want one thing to

be sure of in the meantime though; whatever this year does

hold, it’s going to be a big one for Forest Swords.

myspace.com/forestswords

www.bidolito.co.uk


Bido Lito! February 2011

9

www.bidolito.co.uk


10

Bido Lito! February 2011

The Art of Independence:

PAYPER TIGER RECORDS

Words: Sean Fell

Photography: Jennifer Pellegrini

“The time we’re in now with people voicing their

opinions and daring to stand up, things like Julian

Lestrange’s Wikileaks and the rioting in London over the

government’s decisions, the next couple of years are

going to be mad,” states Ash Hopkins. “People are finally

beginning to realise that they need to take control of their

own lives. It feels like for the past however many years,

people have been neglecting the fact that you need to

manage yourselves, not leaving it to someone else.” It’s

this acknowledgement of self-management and the belief

in a better place in which to exist, by Ash Hopkins and Rich

Metcalf, that provides the foundation for their independent

label PAYPER TIGER RECORDS.

We sat down with the founding force in a dimly lit

corner of an open-fire-warmed pub, comforted by the idea

of music without boardrooms, demographics and financial

obligations. This is a label that comes from the bottom of

the heart. Step inside.

With a philosophy that delves a little deeper than most,

the pair admit that their way of thinking is influenced by

watching stacks of documentaries by the likes of John

Pilger and Adam Curtis and learning about the power of

‘choice’ in Edward Bernays’ propaganda methods, and

ultimately fighting against it. The name comes from

the former Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao’s

description of US imperialism in 1956, where he said it

‘resembled a paper tiger - something which at first seems

ferocious but could easily fall apart.’

“If people get self-organised and build their own

communities then you can build your own world,” said Ash.

Payper Tiger and these lofty views are not two separate

things, they’re one and the same - Ash and Rich’s means of

taking control of their lives and offering a choice to music

fans in Liverpool, for now, and eventually elsewhere. This is an

indie label with inspiring aspirations. “In the music industry

there’s a lot of people who want to jump through hoops, so

we just wanted to create something that was our own, where

we had control over our own things,” they explain.

Payper Tiger began (and still resides) in the living room of

Rich and Ash. Two years, one accidental masters course and

a living space that resembles Steptoe’s yard later, the tiger is

ready to bare its teeth. “Last year, I saw an advert that said ‘Do

you have a good business plan? If so, send your ideas to the

following address and you may be awarded £3000 for each

person in your business.’ So at 4am of the morning the plan is

due in we finished this little plan,” laughs Ash. “Basically, we

had accidentally enrolled on a part-time

business masters degree so we’ve spent

the last six months handing in essays.”

It’s this DIY attitude mixed with the

ideology of something far greater than

placing an album with nifty artwork

in someone’s hand that is the beauty

of Payper Tiger Records. The pair recall

nights of hand-stamping track-listings on

their debut free release Dead Sound (500

with another 500 waiting to be issued

because of high demand) incorporating

assembly lines made up of friends, and

using Ash’s hand-made printing press

which was made from a few bricks, some

wood and tape. It’s this idea of going

into the unknown day after day purely for

the passion for the music that champions

the ideology of an indie label. They

take inspiration from Dischord Records,

created by Fugazi’s Ian MacKaye nearly

30 years ago - “It’s become one of the

strongest independent labels in the world,” enthuses Rich,

“It shows what an independent label can be.”

In terms of sound, the label refuses to tie itself down,

preferring to attach itself to artists that share the same

ethics and where relationships can be built and maintained,

working on the basis of trust. “We both know what we like,

like when it came to The Loud we both knew we wanted

to release something with them,” explains Rich. The Loud

will be Payper Tiger’s first official release - a 7-inch single

followed by a 12-inch six track Mini-Album. “Joe and Greg

who were in The Rascals have done an amazing remix of

The Loud’s Amy’s Gonna Get You under the pseudonym The

Arkestra, so that’s going to be the B-side for the single.

We’re really looking forward to that.”

If Payper Tiger Records have their way then they could

be at the forefront of a genuinely exciting time for Liverpool

music and, eventually, beyond. As Ash said, “life could get a

little crazy soon,” just watch Payper Tiger run along with it,

soundtracking the journey. Long live the indies and those who

are fighting to give us a choice in what we hear and see.

myspace.com/paypertigerrecords


Saturday 12 March

7.

30pm

Tickets £17, £22

ww

ww

w.liverpoolphil.com

Box Off

fi

ce 0151 709 3789

18.03.11

The Kazimier

‘What’s Happened To Soho’

EP Release / European Tour

www.thecorrespondents.co.uk


12

Bido Lito! February 2011

The Wild eyeS

in the preserve of freaks and weirdos

in the preserve of freaks and weirdos

www.bidolito.co.uk

Words: Craig G Pennington

Photography: David Howarth


Bido Lito! February 2011 13

Rock n roll has its best of halcyon adventures. Those somewhat

fortuitous journeys of discovery, the voyage for kindred spirit and the

quest to find the likely lads with whom to share a tilt at one’s musical

calling. Wrexham, via a wide-eyed awakening on a school trip in Germany,

taking in York and Saddleworth...well, its unique to say the least.

I’m drinking with Huw Roberts (Vocals and Guitar) and Sam Gill

(Drums) at Parr Street Studios in early January and the glacial assault

outside is subsiding. Together with Neal Johnson (Bass), who’s still

navigating his way here, Huw and Sam create psychedelic rock music

as THE WILD EYES.

“We (Huw and Sam) became really good friends later in school,” Huw

asserts, from behind a flopping, Mark Gardener-style fringe. “It sort of

hinged on his school field trip to Germany; we both picked German

‘cos you got to go on this holiday. I took my guitar with me, I’d only

been playing a year but I was already like ‘I can’t go anywhere without

my guitar.’ And we just bonded, over a shared love of music. And ten

years later its come full circle, we’ve both got this shared obsession

with Krautrock.”

An obsession that continued after Sam left their native Wrexham to

study in Liverpool and Huw headed east, taking root in York. The pair

communicated via a constant stream of letters and cassette’s down the

M62, before a case of celestial intervention brought Neal into their lives.

Huw, “I was up in York and one day I got this phone call. The guy at the

other end of the phone said, ‘I heard you like early Verve? Do you wanna

meet up.’ It wasn’t fashionable at all at that time to be listening to early

Verve and I was like ‘yeah alright, Ill meet you tomorrow at the minster.’

So I turn up the next day at York minster and theres Neal.” At which point

Neal appears in the bar, perfectly on cue, as if a divine apparition.

The urge to enquire as to how Neal attained Huw’s number in the

first place doesn’t come over me. The story on its own is too good. As

Huw points out, “the need to come up with a tale of a Jorvic Viking

coming to you in a dream and alining musical stars isn’t required,” and

indeed, may appear too realistic in comparison.

And so it was, The Wild Eyes were born, with Saddleworth expatriate

Neal and Huw joining Sam in Liverpool around four years ago, to devise

their deranged optical assault on our fair city. But, coming from Wrexham

and Saddleworth, did that bring a certain perspective to their music?

“Its hill music man,” Huw confirms. “I couldn’t wait to get away from

Wrexham, but in a way it does you a favor, because it turns you onto

rock n roll. The first time you hear it, that moment, it presents a world

to you, a whole new place that you can escape into. You’re hungry for

it. In a place like that, it was an event when the NME came out on a

Wednesday and you were there at your newsagents waiting for it. You

feed off it, saving up your dinner money to spend on singles.”

“We’d be down at Our Price on a Monday, just waiting for it to open,”

Sam chips in.

Its a link which ties many bands from across provincial Britain; rock

n roll providing an alternative, another world and a release. It can also

often find young minds reaching for psychedelia. The Wild Eyes are fans

and friends of Bido Lito! favorites The Lucid Dream, who still reside in their

Carlisle exile, way away from the scents and distractions of the metropolis,

but free to hone their own mind-bending, localised sonic universe.

Huw, “In a small town its about escapism, and that probably pushes

you towards psychedelia. So you take that with open arms and, with a

bit of weed, some hallucinogenics, it just creates a different world to

escape into.”

Sam, “Its completely hinged in the music. If you wanted to go

somewhere, you had to put a record on.”

The Wild Eyes early incarnations where particularly fluid, including a

drummer who, according to Neal, “...moved to China to just get as far

away from us as fucking possible...” and eventually, after the frustration

of, as Huw puts it, “trying to find a drummer, one that wasn’t mentally

ill and off having secret babies or whatever,” the band reverted to

another tactic. “In the end we gave up on trying to find a drummer and

concentrated instead on making drum backing loops. They were really

crude, there was literally just one drum beat that we could make that

would go round and round.”

Huw, “But it converged with a year when we were listening to a lot

of Krautrock and I was absolutely obsessed with the ‘Neu-beat’” (which

Sam demonstrates on the table with consummate ease...more on that

shortly), “so it worked well for what we were doing and led us down a

path where we could try to blend the bigger sounds of rock n roll with

space, and probably made us a bit more modern or forward looking,

which we’ve always tried to be.”

A forward moving outlook which allowed them to combine live

drums via Sam, with the drum loop backing tracks that, upon early

outings had been particularly divisive, resulting in the band “clearing

a few places out.”

Huw, “Yeah, we were probably more extreme than we thought we

were. To us it was just normal.”

After a while Sam picked up his guitar less and less, preferring to

sit behind the kit playing along to the drum beats, before eventually

playing the tracks live himself. And it is here where The Wild Eyes

strangeness comes to the fore, they are a diverse beast. Their New Year’s

Eve live performance at Static Gallery saw the band give a masterclass

in psych-infused, pop hooked garage...it was The Stooges circa-1968,

with Huw, a wild, lean Welsh Iggy. I Look Good On You, is as sexy and

essential as The Stones at their Pamela-Des-Barres-cavorting best. Yet,

the band’s minimal recorded output to date, could be the glorious long

lost demo tapes of Kember and Pierce; Kosmos hinting at Sound Of

Confusion’s cerebral inducement. The Wild Eyes present the possibility

of a band on the cusp of carving their own impression in the rock face

of their influences.

And this is a carving that, rest assured, will be rough round the edges,

with sagging, drug heavy bags under lustful eyes. Its one imbued with

the danger of rock music at its seductive best. Music can often now

be seen as too calculated, too careerist and just too fucking prim. A

situation Huw laments, “Rock n roll needs to be plugged in and primal.

This music is the preserve of freaks and weirdos, it belongs to us. The

money men got hold of it a long time ago and they still let the freaks

and weirdos run it while they could make money out of it, whereas

now, that’s been cut out and its getting further and further away. It used

to be that kids took sanctuary in this music and lost themselves in it.

You want to see a band that excites you and thats so limited now.”

When Neal says that, “...you’ve got to transcend your influences,” you

know that this band are comfortable with what they are looking to

achieve. The challenge presented currently is to hone their two divine

personas, into a coherent and equally attractive whole, the sensual and

attractive persona of Jane from ‘The Three Faces Of Eve.’ I’m confident

that she’ll be tasty as hell.

myspace.com/thewildeyesuk

www.bidolito.co.uk


14

Bido Lito! February 2011

HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT

“We used to play the rock clubs in Birkenhead to try and piss people off…we were

punks see. The crowds liked us though, we didn’t know what to do then!”

Words: James Dodd

Illustration: Jojo Norris

Nigel Blackwell’s HALF MAN HALF BISCUIT are

a much-discussed obscurity of a band. Often

mythologised, it’s hard to know facts from the

obvious falsifications. Did Nigel really break the

band up at the height of their success because

their schedule was interfering with his daytime

television habits? Is there really a HMHB cover band

from Sunderland called ‘It Ain’t Half Man, Mum!’?

And you’ve all heard the story behind the band

twice turning down Channel 4’s advances to have

them appear on The Tube…

The band have been described by Andy Kershaw

as, ‘The most authentic British band since The Clash,’

and John Peel cited HMHB as a national treasure.

But few in attendance at those early gigs could’ve

had the forethought to imagine that now, twenty

seven years and eleven albums later, the band

would still be making music. Nigel himself can’t

explain how or why the band has lasted; “Around

here in the eighties, you were either a smack-head

or in a band,” Nigel tells me as we chat over a cup

of

tea in Birkenhead Park. “Playing

in a band was just

something to

get us through the day, we didn’t expect anything

to come of it.”

The band’s first record, Back in the D.H.S.S was

recorded at Vulcan Studios where Nigel was working

as caretaker. “A fella had set up a little studio in one

of the rooms,” Nigel says. “Before he advertised it to

the proper bands he used us as his guinea pigs to

test his equipment.” Released through the enigmatic

Probe Plus label, the record became the biggest

selling independent album of the year, selling over

200,000 copies. A £30 investment had gone a long

way. The song’s themes found an unlikely niche

in Thatcher’s Britain, Nigel’s satirical lyrics sent up

middle class society and D-list celebrities and their

melodies were perfectly hummable. Don’t call him

a songwriter though; “I hate that term, ‘songwriter’,

it makes me think of sitting on a stool under a

spotlight with an acoustic guitar. I just write about

the things I know, it’s all I can do.”

In combining popular references with the names

of lesser known British towns (see CSI:Ambelside

and Trouble Over Bridgwater), Nigel has a canny

way of chronicling two of his greatest passions in

life; television and small-town England. Despite the

band playing to sell-out crowds at the London Astoria

and other major venues, the band’s infrequent

and sporadic tour dates typically see them pass

through towns and villages in Yorkshire

and Lancashire. I ask

Nigel if

coming from Birkenhead, a town forever shadowed

by Liverpool, has had an influence over the band’s

habitual existence. “To an extent yeah, definitely,”

Nigel says considerately. “It does my head in when

we’re referred to as a Liverpool band, Birkenhead

isn’t a suburb, and it’s a lot different to a city. That’s

what I love about England, I can cycle from one town

to another and each will be their own microcosm

with their own identity and culture.”

It would be senseless to argue that HMHB

are a band without influence, dismissive of their

observable punk roots. I can’t think of any other

band though, that could, or rather would, chant the

line ‘Husker Du Du Du, Captain Beefheart, ELO,’ to

the melody of Black Lace’s Agadoo; it’s reference

points like this, that can strike a chord with the

average British listener. The band’s loyal fan base

describe gigs as a religious experience, with the

crowd chanting back each of Nigel’s words. A fan

base that reputedly includes Robbie Williams, Tracey

Emin and Pam Ferris. Though there is no indication

that the above mentioned celebrity trio have ever

spoken of their adoration publicly, one well-known

name championed HMHB from the very beginning.

John Peel invited the band to record twelve sessions

for his show and the relationship between the two

was one of sincere respect. “Peel was the Peter Pan

of music,” Nigel muses. “He spanned music as a

whole. New bands don’t get the same recognition

now he’s gone.”

Clearly not a band moulded by contracts and

obligations, HMHB have remained true to their

own respective lives. Spanning three decades

of music and ever-changing trends isn’t easy

for a band. But as long as the world keeps

turning and the fickle ways of society are

documented, Nigel and HMHB have the

ammunition to carry on, albeit at

their own, stuttering pace.

www.bidolito.co.uk


16

Bido Lito! February 2011

Liverpool Acoustic

From The People, To The People, By The People

Words: Philip Gofton

Illustration: Gareth Arrowsmith

Whether we like it or not we are

children of capitalism. We awake

each morning to find that our world

has...changed from yesterday.

As

we simple folk meander through

ethereal dreamscapes, the capitalist

machine is busily chugging away. The

tabloids conjure fresh trivial scandals

that are about as newsworthy as

‘AN EFFIGY OF JESUS FOUND IN A

POTATO’, advertisers construct

fresh and exciting ways

for us to part with

our money while the

greedy fingers of the

mutant SiCo corp moulds

and projects their subservient

‘pop-stars’ into every crevasse of the

mass-media until they trespass our very

subconscious.

Even the NME, the longsince

bastion of the ‘thinking-man’s’ choice of

musical literature, constructs ‘cool-lists’ to help

us filter-out those meddling artists who were just

‘so...last...year’. In the early 1960’s, the principles of

‘folk’ music culture were based around a rejection

of what was felt to be a particularly pollutant,

capitalist-influenced musical hegemony. Popular music

commentator Keir Keightley describes it as, ‘emblematic

of all that was wrong with modern life: soulless songs

and

suspect success, manufactured teen idols and manipulated masses.’ Hmm...not

much has changed then. However, dear reader, fear not. As we, the perceptive

and individualistic members of society, hold our umbrellas aloft to shield

ourselves from the barrage of banal that rains down from the heavens, there

is a resistance spawned from the grass-roots. The ideology of our cause? To

detail the culture ‘of’ the people, ‘for’ the people. It seems folk/roots/acoustic

aficionado Graham Holland is also privy to this notion as by April of 2008, it

became personally clear that a proficient platform for the contemporary folk

underground was needed and taking matters into his own hands, he created

the LIVERPOOL ACOUSTIC website. Primarily to be used as a “central resource

for acoustic music events in the Greater Merseyside area,” it’s encyclopedic

thoroughness goes even further in assisting “musicians looking for acoustic

gigs or open mic events, lovers of acoustic music who just want to go out and

listen to real music in its rawest form and promoters who run their own events

wanting to keep up to date with the scene.” In other words, its serves as a one-

February 2009 then

stop-shop database for every folkie

remotely interested or active in

the scene.

Whereas other genrespecific

sites may treat their content

with hyperbolic claims to

sell the site or the artists,

Liverpool Acoustic is less

crass than that.

Is that

the idea or is that just the

‘folk’ way? Graham Holland

explains...“I’m a firm believer in

the old mantra ‘Content is King’ and

aim to provide quality content that

the visitors want to see. That’s not to

say I don’t hype the website from time

to time, but I try to be fair to everyone

who approaches me with a request for

publicity.” Liverpool Acoustic’s ‘cool-list’ is

a little less contrived, shall we say, offering

an alphabetic rundown that profiles all the

major troubadours making waves in our

region. For Graham, it’s an exhaustive

“labour of love.” Having suckled on the

folk bottle from an early age, absorbing

the likes of Ewan MacColl, Jacqui and

Bridie, and Leon Rosselson, he now

feeds with it. From co-hosting the

open floor poetry and acoustic music

event Come Strut Your Stuff

for the past 10 years,

gave birth to Liverpool Acoustic Live. As a “natural

off-shoot” to Liverpool Acoustic and celebrating it’s two year anniversary next

month, The View Two Gallery holds a monthly residence featuring the cream

of local talent alongside artists from across the pond. So who should we be

keeping tabs on locally? “Hannah Peel, Lizzie Nunnery, T-J & Murphy, KCO, and

Jessicas Ghost are all from the horse’s mouth. I’ll throw in The City Walls and

The Springtime Anchorage for good measure.” So there it is. There’s no duping

of the masses here. No pursuit in affluence, glory or acclaim can replace the

crown of creation. It’s always been the folk tradition to take from, then give

back to. Isn’t that how the equilibrium remains stable? Like the evolution of the

orally-transmitted song, a process stemming ‘from’ the people, ‘by’ the people,

‘to’ the people. Remember, as we meander through ethereal dreamscapes, the

culture-machine is busily chugging away...

liverpoolacoustic.co.uk

www.bidolito.co.uk


Bido Lito! February 2011 17

Where The Wild Things Are...

Words: John Still

Photography: Untitled, From the series The Inhabitants, 2009. © Catherine Bourne

Meet SAL, the brains behind

WHIPLASH, the premier extreme metal

night in the North-West. Since 2001,

Whiplash has grown from an offthe-cuff

discussion on the Wirral, to

bringing some of the leading lights

of the death-metal scene to Liverpool.

Frankly, before meeting Sal, I felt I’d

be a little out of my comfort zone. The

stories surrounding these genres have

become ingrained in musical folklore,

taking in everything from church

burnings, onstage ritual sacrifice

to inter-band murders. As with any

myth, there are embellishments, but

the tales combined with the onstage

theatrics and guttural noises have

gone to make the darker side of the

metal spectrum one of the most

subversive forms of an extreme genre.

Preconceptions are rarely ever proved

justified and mine were shattered

upon meeting Sal, a warm and friendly

mother of two, who happens to have

a passion for the heaviest of heavy

metal music.

“Whiplash started in Stairways on

the Wirral, where I knew the manager.

I was dancing to Pantera, but they

played the Prodigy straight after. I was

gutted, and had a bit of a drunken rant

and the manager asked if I could do

better! He offered me a night, which

I named after a Metallica song, and it

went from there.”

After this inauspicious nascence,

Whiplash became an established club

night, with Sal as resident DJ. After a

while friends started approaching Sal

to put live music on. “The first live

band show was a bit of a disaster,

they turned up and we didn’t have

microphones or leads for them, but it

was all ok in the end.”

The first move into Liverpool

came in 2001 to Hannahs Bar, before

moving to Heaven and Hell and to the

Zanzibar. Scene luminaries such as

Gorerotted, Behemoth and Pungent

Stench all played Whiplash, before

a massive coup for Sal; Decapitated

playing the Zanzibar in 2005, just

months before a bus crash killed

drummer, Witold ‘Vitek’ Kiełtyka, and

left vocalist Adrian ‘Covan’ Kowanek in

a coma. The Decapitated show was the

last Whiplash for four years, with Sal

taking time to expand her family and

move up in her day job. However, in

2009, Whiplash was resurrected, “I got

to the point when I didn’t know who I

was anymore, I was just getting on at

work but wanted something else. So

Whiplash came back.”

Since it’s return, Whiplash has gone

from strength to strength, attracting

some of the biggest names in extreme

metal and Sal seems to be relishing

a return to promoting, “The bands

always say nice things, they always

want to come back.” No surprise given

the effort Sal takes in looking after her

bands, “I always cater for them, I’ll do

a massive shop at the supermarket to

make sure all members of the team

are catered for. It’s good to treat bands

well. In the past I’ve sourced pigs

blood for bands shows, I’ve taken a

band member to the STI clinic. I’ve had

to buy nineteen cotton towels. Once

we had a band with a vegan singer,

so I made her a completely vegan

chocolate cake. She actually cried, she

was so pleased someone had gone

out of their way to cater for her. All

the bands ask to come back, so we’re

doing something right.”

Throughout the interview, the

passion Sal has for Whiplash almost

bubbles over. She is aware of the

music she promotes, but is eager

for there to be an outlet for it in this

region. Liverpool is never noted for its

contribution to extreme music (despite

being onetime home to Carcass and

Anathema), but Sal finds a healthy

audience from this city and beyond,

“We’ve had people come from across

the UK for these shows, and we have

bands from across the world asking to

come over.” In 2011, Whiplash continues

to attract extreme metal deities to

its stage, with a performance from

Egyptian-mythology obsessed Nile on

9th February to kickstart the year.

Sal knows that she is not providing

music for the masses (not yet anyway),

and understands the limited appeal

such a brutal form of music can have,

but is keen that people don’t dismiss it

out of hand, “I’d encourage people just

to try it. If you just think it’s noise, and

many do, then that’s fine, but it’s when

people dismiss the genre without

trying it that gets annoying.”

It’s a pleasure to see a promoter

with so much love for what they

do, regardless of genre, and Sal’s

enthusiasm alone is enough to see

why Whiplash has become one of the

leading lights to the fans of extreme

metal.

Whiplash4music.com

www.bidolito.co.uk


18

Bido Lito! February 2011

Rants/Comment

The Glass Pasty

Post-it Notes From The Cultural Abyss

Post-it Notes From The Cultural Abyss

“Lets Play Darts”

wearing arrows icon Bobby George

and former nu music disc jockey Colin

This month I emerge from the

wings of 2010, I take to the stage

with the sound of Dutch Hard House

reverberating through the audience, I

stand at the oche of popular culture,

my paunch jutting out with Olympian

poise, my eyes on the prize and my

sovereigns gleaming under labour

club lights, I caress each arrow with

Murray. The former so in love with the

sport that he has designed his house

in the shape of a dart flight.

Then there’s the wives, chain

smoking, treble drinking, double

sinking, hardly thinking Goddesses

cheering their brave warriors into

battle. Get on the darts bus people,

destination happiness.

my jittery sausage fingers and I take

aim. Fly my pretties, fly!

Discontent Fracas Blues

That’s right gentle reader in

2010 produced the coldest Christmas

uncertain times and the sub standard

offerings from The FTSE Premier

League we turn to that sacred sport of

the Gods – Darts. The game that has

everything from the worst pun-tastic

commentary team in human history

to the on screen camaraderie and

borderline flirting between medallion

Eve on record and there is no doubt

that it will be remembered as The

Winter of Winter, when temperatures

dropped and the roads iced over with

an almost annual feel. As usual in

this Fair Isle bedlam ensued, people

queued round the block at their local

Home and Bargain, panic bought

Nik Glover

Comic Book Icons: Hellblazer

Comic Book Icons: Hellblazer

Alan Moore created John

(Moore had originally wanted to call

Constantine, the Scouse warlock, to

fulfil a long-standing desire to create

a character that looked like Sting. It’s

odd to think that one of the comic

genre’s best loved rogues began life

as an avatar of the former lead singer

of the Police. Constantine debuted in

it Hellraiser, but legal complications

with Clive Barker’s series intervened).

Hellblazer is the longest running of

Vertigo’s titles, and has spawned a

not-terrible, but not in any way similar

film (the rubber stamp of any great

comic’s success).

Moore’s first really significant piece of

John Constantine is not a

work, his revolutionary stint writing

Swamp Thing. Constantine appeared

as a consultant mage, occasionally

helping Swamp Thing in his search

for the truth of his condition. He

was always eye-catching, but to fully

superhero. Perhaps he’s an anti-hero

in the purest sense, in the same way

that Milton’s Lucifer is, in that we are

never entirely sure of his motives, or

that he is even driven by some kind of

guiding principle to do what he does.

flesh out a character like Constantine

In Constantine’s world, things

required a little more elbow room.

This he received when Vertigo

launched his own title, Hellblazer

happen. His friends tend to die,

usually in gruesome ways, and

often as a direct result of his actions.

super noodles and stayed home by

the log fire for romantic nights in with

their laptops.

The icy heart of darkness descended

and mirrored the political mood

sweeping the nation; the harrowing

scenes of Prince Charles and his

Duchess of Cornwall will live on in

our collective memory. The slight

inconvenience suffered and minor

criminal damage to their limousine

after a night watching Michael

McIntyre with Joe Public convinced the

nation that the students had indeed

gone too far and the usual British

conservative backlash kicked in.

Prophetic/Pathetic

Gentle reader its time to look

beneath the pastry casing and gaze

balls deep into our crystals. What

cultural offerings will 2011 bring?

Music: It appears this year’s

saviours set to drink from the fountain

Sometimes they make questionable

moral choices (to sacrifice their

integrity to feed drug addictions),

other times they are punished simply

for knowing John Constantine. He is

an itinerant, moving from one pub to

another, busying himself in Council

Estate refuse pipes and needle parks;

friends are only friends when he

needs them, and are to be discarded

like fag ends.

Like every long running comic,

Hellblazer has passed through

different stages, its central character

showing very different faces. In the

early Alan Moore archetype, he is

reckless, dangerous, and supremely

funny. For Garth Ennis (Preacher),

Constantine’s recklessness cuts deep,

leaving behind it ghosts of dead

lovers and friends, and, for a while,

it appears his ego (and, by extension,

his whole reason for living) has been

crushed. Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets)

of musical genius are the hotly tipped

Vaccines. Related to The Horrors,

tipped by both the NME and The

BBC and championed by power folk

imbecile Mumford himself, watch this

space for massive disappointment and

conventional turd reflux. In fact such

magazine hyperbole and borderline

record company propaganda has

been so frequent in recent years that

it has started to rival Wimbledon,

Cider, general whinging about the

weather and Jeremy Clarkson for

quintessential Britishness.

Film: Times are tough, so expect

films about Aliens and the Royal

Family to guide us through such

choppy waters, oh and good old

traditional family values will be

pumped into our minds at every

opportunity, suspend your disbelief

reader: the future is ours.

Until next time …

re-created him as a shadowy spook

who followed in the wake of tragedy,

keeping the very worst company

(neo-Nazi’s,

sado-masochistic

sociopaths) and occasionally seeming

to ‘do the right thing,’ even if for very

questionable reasons.

If there is a soul inside John

Constantine, it is akin to that of a

Chester Himes street hood, feeling

his way around bloody situations,

occasionally glancing at a moral

compass (more to see which way

the wind is blowing than to where

the needle points) and eventually

triumphing, against all odds, and

never without a question: What will

become of us all, when the inevitable

cheque arrives for a life of sinning

and, what’s worse, sinning when you

know someone is watching? And who

gets to pay? And in what currency?

And can I crash at yours for a few

days?

www.bidolito.co.uk


Guest Column

Daniel Nicolson, Editor, Boss Mag

Daniel Nicolson, Editor, Boss Mag

January, let’s face it, is

undoubtedly the drabbest month of

the year. You don’t need me to tell

you that. You’ll be reminded of it

every time your alarm clock goes off

during this most dull of periods.

It’s quite possibly the fun police’s

way of balancing out the excessive

joys that December brings.

You

have, of course, got a plethora of

Christmas parties to pick from. This

year’s BOSS Mag bash was at Belle

Vue greyhound track. Adequately

described by one of the lads as a

cross between Primark and Battersea Dogs Home. Throw into the mix a

few obligatory family dos and pints with under-the-thumb-mates having

their annual drink you’re already looking at an above average number

of nights out for even the most active man-about-town.

But it’s our city’s musicians - perhaps more than artists from elsewhere

- who like to push the metaphorical boat out in the final weeks of the

year. Each festive period our local favourites seem to come out to play.

Which for us lads who put together BOSS - a Liverpool FC/music/going

out fanzine with a particular penchant for anyone with an L post code

- makes it a busy time.

With Cast’s illustrious returning shows squeezing into the tail end

of November, the month, as far as live music was concerned officially

started with The Farm on the 4th. There was anticipation for the gig

of course, the lads always put on a good show, but there was equal

excitement for the after show ‘secret’ rave, which delivered on more

levels than one.

It kicked off an incredibly Scouse few weeks with, amongst others,

the Bunnymen (back on form), McCartney (privileged), Pete Wylie (bring

back the Classic nights), The Real People (Bootleicious) and Ian McNabb

(is the aftershow still going?) stealing the light. We even managed to

conjure up an excuse to miss Newcastle away (wasn’t too hard) to take

in Arcade Fire in Manchester.

There honestly wasn’t a bad gig amongst them. So with all the

other nights December has to offer you’re left with hapless January

unashamedly sulking in it’s shadow. The poor relation. The blag jumper

of the calendar world; little context and barely an outing in it’s shoddy

self.

I can try to conjure up some positives. Obviously this a music mag,

but BOSS is first and foremost a Liverpool FC publication. So please

forgive me as I take this opportunity to exhale a massive public sigh of

relief at the appointment of Kenny. But away from the club, which for

the first time seems like a football club again, I’m struggling to find a

light. It looks like the the road works on the top of Aigburth Road are

about to come to an end but is that worth getting out the left over

crackers for? Probably not. Wake me up in February.

STORE NOW OPEN

BUY ONLINE: WWW.WEAVERSDOOR.COM

1 CAVERN WALKS HARRINGTON STREET LIVERPOOL L2 6RE TEL: 0151 236 6001


20

Bido Lito! February 2011

Previews/Shorts

LONE WOLF

STEALInG SHEEP - OWLS*

Harvest Sun Promotions have curated somewhat of a haunted farmyard

with their ‘Sounds of The Wilderness’. Featuring Bella Union darling and Wild

Beasts (missed a trick there lads...?!) tour support LONE WOLF, with STEALING

SHEEP (who celebrate their new EP at the show) and OWLS*.

The Kazimier - 5th February - Tickets from Probe Records

BRITISH SEA POWER

Flying high on praise for their latest LP, Valhalla Dancehall, the UKs finest

proponents of odd-yet-perfect nautical rock return to Liverpool. Previous

performances at a disused fort on the Wirral and aboard a chugging Mersey

Ferry are put to one side, in favor of the safer confines of Stanley Theatre.

Stanley Theatre - 19th February - Tickets from hmvtickets.com

JAMES BLAKE

Dead Cities

Craft is an art that has been overlooked by a generation of musicians, for whom

a good old thrashing of the only three chords they know, and an unintelligible

roar down the mic, constitutes cutting edge songcraft. That is a criticism that

cannot be levelled at DEAD CITIES, a collective whose catalogue of stripped-back

acoustic songs portray an aptitude for the poetic, thoughtful, lovelorn lament.

These songs also demonstrate an impressive musical talent possessed by the

band’s three members, a fact proven if you’ve ever seen Dead Cities playing live.

With vocalist Martin Stillwell up front with his acoustic guitar and winsome voice,

drummer Oli Hughes and bassist Ryan Wyatt juggle an assortment of instruments,

often mid-song, to create the intricate melodies the songs are built on.

After some encouraging support spots in 2010 (most notably with John Smith

at St. George’s Hall), this year looks like the year that Dead Cities will spread their

wings. Their most recognisable number, Old Man, has the bounce of The Band

and some catchy mandolin licks, and Hours, Dead Cities and The Killer Wave all

have a distinct Badly Drawn Boy feel to them. With a selection of these available

for download on the group’s bandcamp, why are you sitting there still reading?

Get to it! deadcities.bandcamp.com

Resident of every ‘cool-list-one-to-watch-hot-as-lava’ prediction cast thus far

in 2011, JAMES BLAKE is set to go stellar this year. While such predictions can

often be held with as much regard as those of Michael Fish, we are still hooked

on Limit To Your Love’s aching beauty. Catch him playing records @ Chibuku...

The Masque - 5th February - Tickets from 3 Beat Records & Resurrection

LE SAVY FAV

DIRE WOLFE

As part of their first birthday celebrations, Wingwalker present the revered

LES SAVY FAV, who bring their compelling noise to the city as part of an extensive

world tour. 2007’s Let’s Stay Friends was one of the most critically acclaimed

LPs of the noughties and last years’ Root For Ruin maintained the standard.

The Kazimier - 26th February - Tickets from ticketweb.co.uk

CHAPEL CLUB

DAVID’S LYRE

Riding the crest of a wave created by their excellent single releases, most

recently All The Eastern Girls, shoegazers par excellence CHAPEL CLUB embark

on a headline tour in support of the hugely anticipated Palace LP. Tickets are

sure to move fast, following their outing at Liverpool Music Week.

O2 Academy - 4th February - Tickets from ticketweb.co.uk

The Rise Of General Mezmar

The Wirral has quietly produced dozens of great bands over the past few years

and in THE RISE OF GENERAL MEZMAR, the peninsula starts the New Year in a

very healthy position indeed. Combining Creedence inspired guitar work with

Doors-esque lyrical imagery, TROGM create the kind of bluesy psychedelia usually

reserved for our neighbours ‘cross the pond. The band recently recorded their first

demo and lead track, The Lucid Dream, is a real standout. A pounding rhythm

section and relentless lead guitar is topped with a subtle, harmonious verse

culminating in a brilliantly simple, and effective Stones inspired chorus. Should

Nuggets be compiled for a new generation, The Lucid Dream should certainly be

included. Unlike other psych revival bands that have failed in winning over new

audiences, TROGM, I think, have knowingly succeeded in creating a contemporary

psych sound with all the influence of the genre’s luminaries. The five piece, who

are yet to take their sound to the stage, are keen to distance themselves from

established crowds and circuits. “We want to move forward and for people to

hear us,” says the band’s singer/guitarist Karl Gill. “It’s important to stay ambitious

though, we don’t want to be playing to the same crowds every week,” he adds.

If the band’s demo is a taste of things to come, escaping this city’s walls should

be no bother at all. myspace.con/theriseofgeneralmezmar

www.bidolito.co.uk


FEBRUARY

TUESDAYS

Parr Jazz ft special international guests every week from 7:30pm

WEDNESDAYS

The Quiz with a £50 prize, from 8:30pm

THURSDAYS

Studio 2 Stereo vintage soul, wacked-out beats and obscure music

from around the globe, from 8:00pm

FRIDAYS

04 Lucas Castro eclectic mix of beats, from 9:00pm

11 Penguin Club live indie/rock music ft Ali Ingle + guests from 9:00pm

18 Anglicana live music ft The Grande from 9:00pm

25 Claude presents The Phonetics plus guests from 9:00pm

SATURDAYS

05 CMWMSMDM ft R+R beat boxing from 9:00pm

12 Still Groovin’ Records ft Mark Kennedy + guests from 9:00pm

19 Under the Influence presents Threshold Festival acts from 9:00pm

26 Live Music ft Ashville, Salamandas + guests from 9:00pm

SUNDAYS

06 Solitaire indie/folk hosted by Thomas J Speight from 8:00pm

13 Threshold Festival after show party with Kid Blast from 9:00pm

20 Steve Macfarlane music in the afternoon from 5:00pm

27 Soul4Soul live soul music and Djs from 7:00pm

visit us on facebook for more information

Parr Street Studios

33 – 45 Parr Street

Liverpool L1 4JN

Tele

0151 707 3727

web

studio2liverpool.co.uk

email

info@studio2liverpool.co.uk

studiotwoatparrstreet

studio2atparrst


22

Bido Lito! February 2011

THE CRAZY WORLD

OF ARTHUR BROWN

The Wicked Whispers – El Toro!

Eva Petersen - Howard Be Thy Name

Static Gallery

Reviews

The marriage between Liverpool

and psychedelia is as renowned as the

reasons remain obscure. From scenetrailblazers

The Beatles, post-punk

‘shroom-heads The Teardrop Explodes,

to our West Coast revisionist neighbours

The Coral, it seems that some secret

elixir casts an hallucinogenic veil over

Merseyside. Although in recent years

the vintage-synth appears to have

shunted the hammond off its perch,

bands like Owls* and By The Sea still

exist within the parameters of the

psychedelic doctrine by leaving the

door ajar to realms of the unearthly

and the blissed-out. Tonight’s gathering

focuses upon a return to the roots

of the movement by recapturing the

halcyon days of London’s UFO club and

San Francisco’s The Matrix, birthplaces

of those throbbing oil-projections.

Thus, the visual mad-hatter himself

HOWARD BE THY NAME, has been

drafted-in to service the proceedings

with a slice of his formidable Project

O.R. multimedia show. Unfortunately

for tonight’s opener EVA PETERSEN,

her performance is muted by a

temperature so chilling it could

probably stop the aging process and

she seems positively relieved when

her set concludes. As the numbers

grow, the thaw begins and EL TORO!

hasten the process with a charged set

fusing snotty Back From The Graveera

garage-rock, with a tomb-raiding

rockabilly pulse scavenged from the

carcass of singer Jimmy O’s former

band The Straightjackets. Following

a strange interlude by a lightsaberwielding

Howard, event organisers

THE WICKED WHISPERS take to the

stage. It seems nothing much has

changed since the dismantling of

singer Michael Murphy’s hotly-tipped

prototype Whiskey Headshot, as The

Whispers revel in a ‘60s pastiche so

severe that one wonders how a band

www.bidolito.co.uk

solely living in the past can successfully

carve out a future. Moreover, the bands

they seek to emulate, The Doors, Love,

were non-conformists striving to

unearth new frontiers by destroying

the old. Isn’t that what psychedelia

was/is all about? To walk the tightrope

of the dangerous unknown, teetering

upon the brink of insanity before

all the walls start crumbling down?

Maybe I’m just missing their point.

Inevitably, it’s left to the godfather of

warped theatrics, ARTHUR BROWN, to

deliver tonight’s most accomplished

performance. Hand-picking a set from

a career spanning four decades and 22

million album sales, it’s still apparent

why rock’s royalty (from Alice Cooper

to Bruce Dickinson) cite Brown as a

major influence. While his incendiary

showmanship may have succumbed to

the biological clock, his voice is left to

lead the charge as wild falsettos soar

and carpet-bomb like a Thin White Dukeera

Bowie, over ‘60s freak-outs and

dub-reggae stomps. Brown’s signature

tune Fire even becomes a distraction

stood against feral interpretations of

Dylan’s Hard Rain and Screamin’ Jay

Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You. With his

two glaring white eye-balls breaching

the darkness, it’s though a deranged

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (John Johnson)

sermon is being conducted from the

like this can completely destroy the

stage.

vibe, particularly with music so geared

So was The Grasshopper’s Feast a

towards the dancefloor, but once

success? Well it becomes problematic

the audience is locked into step, the

to try and replicate a bygone scene

trademark Caribou performance gets

as liberal as the UFO days when

underway.

one has to vacate the premises for a

The songs are so loose the band

smoke, though it doesn’t mean that

threaten to fall out of time. but

all attempts are in vain. The Wicked

crucially they never do. This seems

Whispers are trying to conjure a visual/

to be a conscious decision to let the

sonic vibe: other Liverpool club nights

songs become something of their

should take note.

own. They are stretched and skewed

Philip Gofton

out of shape into warped psychedelic

jams that seem to exist beyond their

CARIBOU

The Kazimier

means before being whipped back into

shape by the motoric krautrock drums.

The seeds sewn by Caribou’s latest

album Swim are baked in warmth

The arrival of Dan Snaith and his band

and drenched in underwater synths to

could not be more highly anticipated

create a sound that washes over you.

as is shown by the sellout crowd at the

The set tonight contains a bold variety

Kazimier tonight. The venue is buzzing

of songs from Snaith’s repertoire and

with a real party atmosphere that

the older songs benefit greatly from

at times threatens to intrude on the

live experimentation, bridging the gap

intensity of the live music experience.

between the soundscapes of old and

CARIBOU make a low-key entrance

the tropical grooves of the new. There

so underwhelming that only those

is a sense that Caribou have really

paying close attention notice what the

learned how to enjoy themselves over

hell is going on. It is soon evident that

the course of this mammoth tour. As

the volume is far too quiet and first

they approach the final few shows they

song Kali is all but drowned out by

prove that they have really mastered

the hum of the crowd. Audio misfires

the delicate balance between accurate


Reviews Bido Lito! February 2011 23

reproduction and improvisation.

This is the sound of musicians really

enjoying themselves and Dan Snaith’s

songwriting is at an all time high, which

is a real compliment when you consider

the strength of his back catalogue. The

songs have a great urgency about

them that makes you feel compelled

to enter the band’s headspace. Once

on the same frequency it is difficult

not to wave your arms, bounce and

generally lose your inhibitions in their

presence. When they finally play Sun,

the Kazimier crowd is completely sold

on this vibe and the place goes nuts.

The praise lavished on Caribou’s

latest album Swim has certainly been

overwhelming, but it’s performances

like this that more than prove its worth.

To create such an aurally rich record

and follow it with a live show that

manages to capture that same warmth,

and simultaneously throw away the

rulebook and become its own animal,

is the mark of a true professional at the

top of his game.

Jonny Davis

THE FARM

The Bo Weevils

O2 Academy

For a glorious week in March 1991,

THE FARM’s debut album Spartacus

occupied the plum spot at the top

of the UK Album Charts. Even more

impressive, it went straight in at

number one. Putting that in some kind

of context, at the beginning of that

year, Madonna’s Immaculate Collection

and Elton John’s Greatest Hits had

been vying with each other for the top

spot and remained in the top ten for

months. With Madchester frenzy finally

on the wane, (the eponymously titled

The La’s was a stake in the coffin), the

rise and rise of The Farm was an excuse

for nothing less than an explosion of

civic pride.

I was one of those proud denizens

who took them to my youthful

powdered bosom. The last time I

went to see them was in 1991 when

I skipped school to watch them at de

Montfort University. At our first Farm

gig, my sister and I were like Pixie and

Dixie with little Peter Hootons in our

eyes. We even blagged our way into

the aftershow party at a hot Leicester

nitespot, even after initially being

turned away by a door harridan (‘We’re

WITH the band. Can’t you tell by our

accents?’)

Back to the 2010 gig, and there

may not have been much snapping of

whippers going on in that room, but

that’s because they weren’t invited.

This gig belonged to the fans.

I have to say that my sister and

I thought that local boys THE BO

WEEVILS were magnificent. I predict

great things for them, but, err… what’s

with the name fellas? Couldn’t you

change it to something that doesn’t

remind people of The Grumbleweeds?

It’s a well trodden path: Nirvana

realised that Fecal Matter probably

wouldn’t get much airplay on Radio

Washington. Even The Farm went in for

a bit of identity tinkering...

On that note, The Farm opened with

Stepping Stone which I have to admit

was never one of my favourites. The

Spartacus numbers are more suited to

Peter Hooton’s voice, which, I’m glad

to report remains as choirboy-ish as

ever. Spartacus is full of cracking, funky

tunes, and even without the wonderful

Paula David on backing vocals (who did

at least as much as the rest of the band

to create The Farm ‘sound’), the band

recreated them faithfully. Don’t Let Me

Down is a real rabble rouser, Family

of Man an exhilarating crowd pleaser;

Groovy Train, with Keith Mullin’s iconic

intro, was and is a joy; but the night

was of course all about All Together

Now. This song has been re-mixed,

re-released, and regurgitated, but like

Irn-Bru, the original is best. It is a very

clever song; the sampling is genius; Lord

Hooton of Bold Street’s voice is simply

heartbreaking; and its references and

anthemic qualities mean that it will

never go out of fashion.

It was always obvious that there were

music industry heavyweights behind

The Farm. Their meeting with Graham


24

Bido Lito! February 2011

Reviews

McPherson (aka Suggs) was fortuitous

indeed. However it has always been

a source of some annoyance to me

that both they and Madness failed to

garner the plaudits that they deserved.

All Together Now could not have been

written by a bunch of lucky scallies

(nor could Madness’s Tomorrow’s Just

Another Day come to that.) There may

not have been many giddy powdered

youths in that room, but there was a

great deal of unadulterated joy, and

yes, still, a shedload of civic pride.

Anna Torpey

ABE VIGODA

Mother Earth

The Shipping Forecast

On a rainy Monday night, deep in

The Hold of the Shipping Forecast, the

four-piece ABE VIGODA, who hail from

the always ominous sounding Inland

Empire of California, were bringing

a much needed blast of energy and

sunshine to an otherwise damp and

dreary Liverpool evening. Now, if you’re

particularly knowledgeable of actors

The Farm (Kieth Ainsworth)

who portrayed secondary characters in

The Godfather, you’ll be right in thinking

that they are named after the very

same Abe Vigoda, who had a penchant

for placing the heads of dead horses in

the beds of unsuspecting victims. The

name though is thankfully where any

similarity between the band and their

namesake ends.

After a convinving opener from local

group MOTHER EARTH, the stage was

ready to be taken by Abe Vigoda who

kicked off with Crush, the title track off

their latest album of the same name,

which started the show with a bang.

Considering that this was the beginning

of the week they had managed to draw

in a surprisingly large crowd, which just

shows the sort of audience that a band

of this calibre can attract regardless of

whether it’s a Monday or a Friday night.

Musically they have a tremendous

bounce, but it’s tempered by some really

heavy rhythm which prevents it from

ever spinning too far out of control. Key

to this is the drumming which was just

superb. Listening to it and watching

I couldn’t help but think of the Beach

Boys’ Dennis Wilson in terms of style

and just sheer raw energy. To top it

all, as if there wasn’t enough already,

there was even more rhythm laid on

with the aid of a drum machine, which

also allowed the drummer to get out

from behind his kit and get shredding

on guitar.

This is a band that knows how to

really work the audience, for after

multiple encores, the crowd and myself

included, were left still wanting more,

which says it all about the sheer quality

of their material and delivery of it. If

you missed them this time, there’s no

excuse not to catch them when they’re

next back in Liverpool, otherwise they

may well just call up their namesake to

put you right.

SPEED PETS

Alexander Court

The Moguls -

We Walk In Straight Lines

The Shipping Forecast

The Shipping Forecast is one of

those tiny venues where you can’t help

but feel like you’re only here because

someone’s let you in on a secret, as

you wander downstairs in to a small

room, dominated by a bar and a very

low stage that may as well be a big

step. Under the warm orange lights

you feel instantly at home, making it

an excellent choice for Blown Drum

Records’ launch party. And still, the

whole event seems very secretive –

few posters decorate the walls, and

there’s an air of modesty about the

whole get-up.

First on the bill are WE WALK IN

STRAIGHT LINES, or a quarter of them

at least. According to frontman Jonny

Russell, the drummer hasn’t turned up,

so instead we’ll be treated to a solo

performance from him. Thinking back

on it, it might have been a well planned

publicity stunt, but nevertheless –

it works, as Russell engages the

audience completely with his nervous

chatter. His music is completely

overwhelming – filled with power and

desperation, and has a subtle, dark

tone that is completely intriguing. The

vocals are rich and warm, equalling the

strength of the music without straining

DONʼT SIGN THAT CONTRACT!

AT LEAST, NOT UNTIL YOUʼVE HAD PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.

LIVERPOOLʼS MUSIC AND MEDIA LAWYERS

We can help you protect your career or your business with advice & support in all areas of music industry law including:

Recording & publishing contracts • Management agreements • Licensing, distribution & synchronisation

Call us to discuss your requirements in confidence & without obligation

www.bidolito.co.uk

www.mclegal.co.uk

16 COOK STREET L2 9RF T: 0151 255 0400

info@mclegal.co.uk

LIVERPOOL SCIENCE PARK L3 5TF T: 0151 705 3674


Reviews Bido Lito! February 2011 25

at all. Two other members step on

stage for a while – playing an assorted

collection of percussion instruments,

their simplicity adding another level of

obscure intensity to the songs, defining

the swells and subtlety of the music.

Even at 25%, We Walk in Straight Lines

are a formidable addition to Liverpool’s

music scene. If you need a bandwagon

to jump on, jump on this one – and

quick. It won’t disappoint.

THE MOGULS have a tough act to

follow, but straight away it’s evident

they’ll pull it off with style. Mixing

crunchy guitars and catchy riffs, The

Moguls are light and upbeat, and

enjoyable to listen to. Bound To Happen

is a beautiful piece, coupling melodic

keys with distant, confused, almost

other-worldly vocals, creating a truly

effective and gripping song, without

making you want to cry. It’s impossible

to not tap your feet or nod your head

with the beat, or even just to smile

when hearing 24 Hours In Paris. They

retain a raw, crispness in the vocals

that stops them from sounding too

‘mainstream’ and gives them the edge

over most other bands attempting

that style, and they deserve that edge

completely.

SPEED PETS are the last of what has

been an amazing line up, and prove to

be a fitting finish. Moving away from

the traditional guitar bands that have

entertained us, Speed Pets provide

a more digital sound. French Cinema

sounds like what would happen if

Kraftwerk met The Cure (it’s a good

thing, I promise), and Valium At School

wouldn’t sound out of place on a later

Radiohead album. The vocals stand

apart from the melodies, as if the

two weren’t made for each other but

conveniently work, but were layered

instead of mixed. Speed Pets are sharp

and attractive, not masking any sound

beneath another. Their simplicity does

them nothing but favours, emphasizing

every note and encouraging you to

listen to what happens next. Each song

has a dull weariness, almost apathetic

in style, like the notes really couldn’t

be bothered being played, which

works surprisingly well, balancing and

possibly countering how ‘electrical’ the

songs sound and giving them sinister

warmth, like you’re being lulled in

to a false sense of security. It’s a bit

disturbing, but you’re allowed to enjoy

it.

Blown Drum did well with this one.

Katy Long

PAUL McCARTNEY

O2 Academy

So, it’s Christmas, and the ice clings

to the pavement like a viscous coat of

vandal grease. Inside the O2 Academy

the atmosphere is almost spiritual, and

TV cameras with lenses whipped from a

space observatory have commandeered

the balcony, accompanied by gleaming

spotlights which pierce through the

dark with such force you’re expecting

Rowan Atkinson to be shot at the back

of the stage...then, PAUL McCARTNEY

skips forward.

“We’ve been around the weerld

this year, so coming back here is just

greet,” he proclaims. He’s scoused up

to the max and he’s doing that familiar

Speed Pets (Rob Rossington)

oval-mouthed facial expression

accompanied with head nodding and

up-turned thumbs...you can tell he’s

loving it. And with early outings for

Magical Mystery Tour,

Baby You Can

Drive My Car and One After 909, so

too are the amassed throng of diehards,

blaggers and rich buggers (the

latter being the few who forked out

1000 quid for a ticket on Ebay this

afternoon).

It’s impossible really to be objective

about the whole scenario. McCartney’s

role in the history of popular music and

the history of our city is unquestionable,

and the set list reads like a roll call of

rock standards. His band, musically,

are untouchable - even if on occasion

the stage moves do get a little ‘Richie

Sambora’ (that’s a very low buttoned

shirt) and when they scream into Jet

second song in, flashes of a nasty

collision with a bedside table are too

hard to fight...

Yet we all know that’s what you

get with McCartney: he’s undeniably

become somewhat of a pastiche of

www.bidolito.co.uk


26

Bido Lito! February 2011

Reviews

himself, the slightly embarrassing

uncle at the Christmas party, but you

cut him some slack because you know

that, in his day, he was a pretty cool cat.

And tonight is indeed that Christmas

party, and if Christmas isn’t a time for

nostalgia and sentimentality, a chance

to gather around old uncle Paul as he

serenades us and reminds us of the

good times, then when is?

And sentimentality is high on the

cards this evening, as McCartney

leads tributes to both John Lennon,

with a medley of A Day In The Life

and Give Peace A Chance, and George

Harrison, as a ukulele-led rendition

of Something gradually emerges as

a moving homage to Harrison’s finest

Beatle-era work.

“Me and George used to hang

round in Speke and we had this little

classical guitar party piece which went

a little like this...” (cue baroque-ian

noodling) “and it eventually became...”

at which point McCartney moves

into the introduction to Blackbird,

performed solo on acoustic guitar. And

that’s the thing with McCartney this

evening, and McCartney in general,

that for each attempt to launch into

a rendition of “Baby face....you’ve got

the cutest little...” (and tonight that

happens twice), for each attempt at

a ukulele-led Russian stomp (which

happens once), those upturned

thumbs and Glastonbury wellies, he’ll

then turn round and play an utter

heart-stopping classic. He frustrates,

because for every Frog Chorus (which

gladly isn’t attempted this evening)

there’s a hundred Yesterday’s (which

thankfully is).

But, that’s Paul McCartney...old uncle

Paul. You wish he didn’t do those things,

but he does, and I suppose that makes

him who he is. He’ll always have the

last laugh, as indeed he does tonight,

with encores Day Tripper,

I Saw Her

Standing There, Get Back, Yesterday,

Lady Madonna and Sergeant Pepper’s

Lonely Hearts Club Band. Merry Crimbo

Uncle Paul.

Craig G Pennington

VILLAGERS

Alessi’s Ark – Dead Cities

The Kazimier

Being the proprietor of a Mercurynominated

album can bring a certain

amount of pressure, but try telling

that to Conor O’Brien. Tonight, on

the last leg of a UK tour, he and his

fellow VILLAGERS demonstrated all the

reasons why Becoming A Jackal was

one of the slow-burning hits of 2010,

full of haunting, playful songs of loss,

longing and acceptance, and delivered

with as much charm and deadpan

humour as would be expected of the

successor to Neil Hannon’s man-pop

crown.

From the moment O’Brien descends

from the Gods, armed with a glass of

red and a grin, he has the complete

attention of the room, even though

it takes a ‘SSH!’ from him to quell

the excited hubbub, as he stands,

eyes closed, poised to break the

silence with a beleaguered vocal. That

O’Brien is doing this to a crowd of 200

appreciative souls hanging on his

every utterance, and that the silence

is as profound as a church hall, is a

credit not only to the layers of intrigue

and emotion on the album, but also

to the confidence of the man who

was, until recently, just a guitarist in

someone else’s band. Deftly picking

his way through Becoming A Jackal,

before being joined by the rest of the

band for real opener I Saw The Dead,

O’Brien picked up on the threads of his

predecessors on stage, the sweetness

of London duo ALESSI’S ARK, and the

intricate folk sway of local boys DEAD

CITIES. Bare and simple songs were the

Villagers (Jane Macneil)

order of the day, with Villagers showing

a knack for adding deft touches to the

sombre melodies that unwittingly reel

you in, every song unravelling like a

mini opera. Yet, despite a seeming lack

of flair, it was Villagers’ undoubted

musical prowess that dominated,

with the music flowing rather than

being dragged out of the instruments.

Home and Pieces, with all its wolf

howls, seem to trickle by, building to

a crescendo almost unnoticed: it isn’t

The largest indoor festival in Europe, under one roof.

CUC, Greenland St, Liverpool, L1 OBS

www.bidolito.co.uk

February 11th-13th

www.thresholdfestival.co.uk


28

Bido Lito! February 2011

Reviews

until these songs have been and gone,

and you’re on your way back down

from somewhere near the ceiling, that

you realise the high that they transport

you to. And therein lies the triumph of

Becoming A Jackal; one of restraint; one

that isn’t in your face and over the top,

but subtle.

There were, naturally, lulls in the

performance, where your mind drifted

to wondering why they hadn’t played

best track Ship Of Promises, and if the

mulled wine on offer was any good.

But the end result was wholesomely

satisfying, as we watched O’Brien

wring every last drop of emotion out of

set-closers The Meaning Of The Ritual

and Twenty-Seven Starngers, with that

uneasy sense of tension lingering even

as he made his stately way back up the

stairs, glass raised in salute. It was at

this point, watching the last hemline

of his corduroys disappearing behind

the closing curtain of Liverpool Music

Week 2010, that I realised the scale of

what I’d just witnessed; a performance

of infinite deftness, showcasing a

superbly-paced record, akin to seeing

a Casanova-era Divine Comedy in full

flow, albeit with less whimsy and more

structure. Never has understated been

so overwhelming, proving that these

Villagers are not just for local people.

Christopher Torpey

THE FUTUREHEADS

T Frankie and the Heartstrings

The Shipping Forecast

Despite a having a name that

evokes a blue velvet-clad 1950s

doo-wop group, FRANKIE AND THE

HEARTSTRINGS operate in much the

same territory as tonight’s headliners

and fellow Sunderland natives. The

hotly-tipped five-piece have much of

the same punked-up melodies of the

‘Heads and Maxïmo Park about them,

albeit played much slower. Aside

from the bass player’s Davy Crockett

hat (especially incongruous in a lowceilinged

basement), the main visual

focus is singer Frankie Francis as he

bobs around the stage flopping his

copious fringe from side to side.

Singing in a post-punk yelp that

sounds like Siouxsie Sioux going

through a particularly emotional

episode, the former pub landlord looks

about as far removed from Al Murray

as humanly possible. Similar to fellow

North Easterner Bryan Ferry, yet avoiding

the loucheness of Ferry’s lounge lizard

act, the keyboards supply a sprinkling

of Roxy Music’s sighing ennui. Hunger’s

call-and-response chorus receives the

best reception of the set, while final

track, the delicate Fragile, descends

into coruscating feedback chaos after

its carefully crafted verses.

Considering the outside temperature

has dipped below freezing, The Hold is

pleasantly toasty for THE FUTUREHEADS’

arrival. Decent Days And Nights, thrown

in surprisingly early, sets the venue

alight as the dozens of T-shirts flogged

from the merch stand begin pogoing

frenetically. ‘Have you had any snow?’

singer Barry Hyde enquires, met with

an audience furrowing its brow trying

to recall if the city has. Introduced as a

tribute to the 9ft tall snow statue of ‘a

giant cock and balls made in the park

that was demolished by hooligans’,

Heartbeat Song, from this year’s The

Chaos LP, throws emotive choruses

into the mix, while I Can Do That

batters along with ruthless efficiency,

the majority of the track powered by

the rhythm section alone. Elsewhere,

cautionary tale Worry About it Later,

introduced as ‘a song about casual sex’,

slows the pace to highlight the band’s

polyphonic harmonies, the angular

mackem barbershop vocals of old still

much in evidence, now buoyed with

heart-swelling choruses.

Despite the intimate venue and

the highly partisan crowd, hits are

dispatched with aplomb, with Beginning

Of The Twist, one of their finest 45s,

barreling along superbly. Skip To The

The Futureheads (Kieth Ainsworth)

End is possibly the nearest they have

come to classic rock, boasting an

almost Stonesy swagger, while Stupid

And Shallow scrambles along with the

manic energy of a cat trying to avoid

oncoming traffic. A jagged rendition of

Carnival Kids spits even more venom

than on record, setting the audience

up for the now traditional sing-along of

Hounds Of Love. With the audience split

in two to provide the backing vocals,

this is staged with limited success as

the crowd joyously bellows the song

as one. The ‘Heads brevity ensures

that they cram a resumé of their entire

career thus far into one adrenalinefuelled

hour, simultaneously reminding

the crowd just how strong their back

catalogue is along the way.

THE ACORN

Mojo

Richard Lewis

THE ACORN are a Canadian band with

a growing reputation for their affecting

and delicate indie sound. Formed in

2003 and currently touring their third

album No Ghost, in Mojo’s cosy and

intimate surroundings they seemed

in high spirits as they came onto the

small stage. They are a band who have

attracted much praise since the release

of their second long-player Glory

Hope Mountain and have supporters

as diverse as Elbow’s Guy Garvey and

Kanye West (the latter has been known

to have waxed lyrical about the group’s

hit Crooked Legs). Since their last

offering though, the Rolf Klausenerfronted

4-piece have matured their

sound and arrived with a new body of

work to show off. Though they started

the set with the laid-back psychedelia

of Flood from the first album, they

were quick to bring out their latest

work through the likes of Cobbled From

Dust and Kindling To Cremation. The

former is a slowly pulsating number

with a chiming melody, complemented

nicely by Klausener’s yearning vocals.

The latter is similarly pleasant and

well-crafted but also demonstrates

lyrically how accomplished The Acorn

are as songwriters. The line ‘and this

www.bidolito.co.uk


Mellowtone Bido.pdf 16/11/10 21:02:21

C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K


30

Bido Lito! February 2011

Reviews

is how you pass the time away’ has

a certain soporific quality to it which

typifies much of No Ghost. There is still

the signature atmospheric, hypnotic

sound that sets them apart from their

contemporaries, but new ground has

been explored and musically they have

ventured further afield than in the past.

In Misplaced they kick away slightly

from the floaty ambience associated

with their sound, and seamlessly switch

modes to a more upbeat, crisp rhythm,

whereas in No Ghost, they offer guitar

hooks from the top of the fret-board

which bring to mind The Foals as much

as anyone.

Yet while this allows The Acorn to

display a broader range and gives

the impression they have the ideas

to progress further still, it also hints

at their limitations. There are weaker

tracks on the album such as Almanac

and I Made The Law where there seems

to be a loss of focus. The former is a

curious track and although calling it

filler might be a touch harsh, it is one

that doesn’t really blossom. It feels in

parts like The Acorn have failed where

Midlake have succeeded with 2010’s

Acts Of Man. There is plenty of beauty

on offer for the most part, and this

was a performance easily capable of

attracting the uninitiated. Judging by

the positive reaction in Mojo, there

will be plenty who followed up their

interest too.

The Acorn are a band very much still

on a journey and have not yet produced

their masterpiece. They are hit and miss

and are not yet the finished article but

if the journey alone is this alluring then

they are well worth persevering with.

Don’t be surprised if, in a couple of

years, they reach a wider audience with

a record which not only makes people

sit up and take notice but has a lasting

influence on the world of indie rock.

THE CORAL

Pete Robinson

Cherry Ghost – Neville Skelly

Mountford Hall

First on tonight’s bill is Liverpool’s

most pronounced hidden musical gem,

NEVILLE SKELLY. It is no coincidence

that the direction which more recent

Coral shows have taken, and also the

musical changes that they have gone

through, has coincided with Neville

becoming an ever present Coral

The Coral (John Johnson)

support in recent times. The two are

stylistically and artistically entwined

and one would expect take influence

from similar record collections. There

is a blissful melancholy feel to the

set which is perfectly suited to the

occasion. The covers which are mixed in

with original numbers are inspired and

complement the set perfectly, with my

personal set highlight being Jackson C

Frank’s Blues Run the Game. There are

also searing, towering renditions of

songs made famous by Nina Simone

and Woody Guthrie, but performed

in Neville’s own inimitable style. His

voice is warm and brooding, being

allowed space and being perfectly

complemented by his supremely

tasteful backing band.

CHERRY GHOST were a strange

choice of support. It would be wrong to

expect support bands to be too similar

to the main attraction but the modern

rock, which takes in too many different

styles, seemed at odds with what

the crowd tonight either expected

or wanted to see. The opening song

sounded like Knocked Up by Kings of

Leon, and one later song was much

too similar to Coldplay’s Yellow than is

allowed. There were better moments,

for instance the faster numbers and

some nice guitar lines, but overall they

passed the room by and were much

too fleeting.

THE CORAL’s new album Butterfly

House has been met with staggering

critical acclaim, and justifiably so: it

marks a creative peak and shows one

of the most vital bands of their age

at their best. The recent shows in The

Lowry and Philharmonic Hall were

perfectly suited to this new record and

more recent sound of the band, which

has changed since their early days.

The zany Captain Beefheart madness

of their debut has, over time, taken a

more elegant and mature form. This

is not to say that either style is better

or worse but the change must be

taken into consideration when talking

about their live shows. The departure

of Bill Ryder Jones has taken away an

intensity which was evident on their

earlier work, to be replaced with more

technical and sober playing, such is

apparent throughout Butterfly House.

Early highlights were Roving Jewel and

In The Rain, which was followed by

Byrdsy new effort Million Miles Away.

Byrds comparisons are endless and

their influence can be heard throughout

tonight’s set. Falling All Around You

felt like the best parts of John Denver

and vividly illustrated the world class

songwriter which James Skelly has

become. The psychedelic backwards

guitar at the start of Things We Said

Today was inventive and worked well

while Goodbye made it clear that the

Coral are not completely removed from

their early roots. One criticism could be

that the overall sound levels may have

been slightly low as conversation was

easily had over even the heaviest parts

of the set, but this is no fault of the band

as has been the case in more than one

recent show at this venue, something

which would be best addressed sooner

rather than later.

P.Lee


FEBRUARY 2011

Wed 2nd

Thu 3rd

Fri 4th

Sat 5th

Wed 9th

Thu 10th

Fri 11th

Thu 17th

Fri 18th

Sat 19th

Thu 24th

Fri 25th

Sat 26th

Teddy Thompson, David Ford, TJ & Murphy

Mixed Bag

Shakedown (Ink) Translucent (Loft)

Chibuku Ft. Annie Mac, Hype, Abandon Silence

Nile, Melechesh, Dew Scented, Zonaria

Mixed Bag (Ink) Devil Sold His Soul (Loft)

The Fire Within tour Ft. Hippys On The Hill

Mixed Bag

Shakedown (Ink) Fine Young Firecrackers (Ink)

Young Rebel Set, Cattle & Cane, Bunny Munro (Loft)

Chibuku Ft. Kele (Bloc Party) Live, High Contrast

Mixed Bag

Dub Cartel Ft. Drumsound & Bassline Smith, Reso,

Dalema

Circus Ft. John Digweed, Yousef, Seth Troxler

////TICKETS: skiddle.com//ticketweb.co.uk//ticketline.com//seetickets.com////

//ticketline.com

//seetickets.com

////

More magazines by this user