Radiohead: ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ Glistens At The Roundhouse

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James Ball took his place among the crowd to see Radiohead breathe further life into ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ live at London’s Roundhouse on May 28. But how did the band’s surprise new material stack up next to their towering back catalogue?

When Radiohead took to the stage at the Roundhouse, bang on time at 8:30pm, for the third, and currently final, UK show of their A Moon Shaped Pool tour, it already felt like a special evening for the fortunate few who’d clamoured for tickets and won.

Thom Yorke and company took to the stage and blasted out the first half of the new album in order, with the crowd listening intently. Some sang along, but most just soaked up the music, feeling every chord, every drum beat and processing every lyric. Burn The Witch was darker than Vantablack and more sinister than every Hitchcock thriller combined, especially when Jonny Greenwood started thrashing at his guitar with a cello bow like he was sawing it in half. Daydreaming, Decks Dark, Desert Island Disk and Ful Stop (sic) all followed with polite intrigue as the band played in front of an impressive wall of mirrors, a train track-like lighting rig and video wall. This show looked and sounded the part.

Radiohead try to make every show unique, so everyone in attendance knew that what happened from song six on was a lottery. Cue two songs that are now approaching, or over, 20 years old and still sounding as fresh as they day they were written in Lucky and Talk Show Host, the latter benefitting from an extended outro which would tire out younger rock groups of today. One of the biggest cheers of the night came for ‘Amnesiac’ highlight Like Spinning Plates, a song played only occasionally and not at all on this tour as yet. Gone was the complicated looping reverse of I Will – later featured in a reworked version on ‘Hail to the Thief’ – with the simple act of Yorke delicately and mournfully brushing piano keys bringing out the emotive sustenance of the piece. His fragile falsetto lit up the hushed arena to create a real moment.

The Gloaming, Everything in its Right Place and Idioteque seemed at first glance like an odd trio to close off the main portion of the show, but when the former evoked Yorke’s infamous dance large portions of the crowd really started to move. Everything in its Right Place became another huge singalong which, again during its second half, picked up the drama to become a much more savage beast than its album version. Idioteque, basically, let the dogs out: looping beats, heavy electric drums, layer upon layer upon layer all stuffed into one high-energy performance and compounded by a frenetic light and video show. Bodysnatchers closed the main set with about as hard a straight up rock song as Radiohead have written in recent memory, sending the crowd into a frenzy before plunging them into darkness.

Up to this point the band had not been particularly chatty, bar the occasional “thank you” between songs. But during Give Up The Ghost Yorke attempted to loop the “Don’t haunt me” hook, catching an overexcited fan whooping like Ric Flair on helium and creating a perfect every-four-beat noise that he immediately picked up on and laughed his way through. The crowd quickly caught on and started to lose it every time it appeared. Yorke then lost control of the song, joking his way around it. It’s in moments like this that we are able to see Radiohead as human beings who like to have fun, and for whom silly things can go wrong too. The song was eventually aborted, but it was all taken in good humour.

A second encore, featuring the first uninterrupted version of Nude of the tour and ‘OK Computer’ powerhouse Paranoid Android, left this sold-out venue a very, very satisfied place. It is difficult to tell which tracks from ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ could form part of Radiohead’s long-term tour plans at this stage, since they don’t play “singles” in the same way as other bands, but on this evidence many will remain in the running for some time. This band could play almost any song from almost any album at almost any time and have them fit seamlessly into place, such is the level of variety in their writing. We’re lucky to have them.

– James Ball

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Pete Doherty’s ‘Eudamonia’ Tour Gets Off To A Shaky Start At Bristol’s O2 Academy

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At the start of the year we saw the the Libertines, reformed and rejuvenated, reign supreme at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena. So, heading across the bridge to see Pete Doherty, in anticipation of his new solo album, hopes were similarly high. But that glimmer was to be short-lived. Following an awfully underwhelming set by Jack Jones of Trampolene, which was opened with his spoken word poem about Poundland, Doherty arrived on stage a little late and with a crushing lack of ceremony.

Those hungry for new material were sated by eight new tracks, which Doherty was quite happy to petulantly remind the crowd of when they chanted for more at the end of the show. His set also benefited from visits to Babyshambles’ Albion and ‘Grace/Wastelands’ cuts Arcady and Last Of The English Roses, the latter of which, Libertines tracks aside, received the biggest singalong of the night from what Doherty called an “appreciative and attentive” crowd.

That appraisal soon soured when the audience refused to silence themselves for a song that Doherty exclaimed the band had “really rehearsed”. He opted to repeat the opening bars until he got the silence he desired. If we didn’t like it, we knew where the door was and could “fuck off”.

Throughout the set Doherty yo-yoed between being engaged and exasperated. At some moments he seemed to lose interest completely, going as far as to scratch his head mid-song as though going through the motions was itself an exhausting task. The situation was made worse by an apparently insecure, or maybe just insufficiently rehearsed, backing band who appeared to look to Doherty and each other for timing cues.

Proceedings ended with a haphazard rendition of the Libertines’ Time For Heroes, which seemed a transparent attempt to win back an audience that had endured, for the most part, a lackadaisical and arbitrary set.

This article has been updated. An earlier version incorrectly referred to the final song as Up The Bracket

 

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Brian Fallon Calls On Familiar Faces At Serene Bristol ‘Painkillers’ Show

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Laura Johnson was at Bristol’s O2 Academy on Sunday night to see Brian Fallon strike out on his own following the release of ‘Painkillers’, his first solo album.

After a decade fronting the Gaslight Anthem you’d expect that Brian Fallon knows how to put on a rock show. You’d be completely right. But, having taken the solo plunge with the recently-released ‘Painkillers’, this accompanying tour represents something different. Despite there being only one name up in lights, though, it is very much a close-knit, almost family affair.

After wading through a sea of Gaslight t-shirts, all in attendance received a taster of the headliner’s gravelly tones in the form of his fellow New Jersey native Jared Hart, who split his duties as opener with playing acoustic in Fallon’s band and commanded the crowd’s attention with a gutsy set and a Rancid cover thrown in for good measure. Next up were Good Old War, a hilariously endearing folk duo whose humour was bested only by their harmonies and infectious choruses.

Soon enough, though, it was time for the main event. Fallon took his place front and centre, backed by a wall of amps and flanked by Hart, the Horrible Crowes’ Ian Perkins and Gaslight’s Alex Rosamilia, giving the occasion an air of familiarity.

Without a word the opening bars of the new record’s Red Lights rang out, leading seamlessly into Rosemary. Fallon wasted no time in dipping into the Horrible Crowes’ ‘Elsie’ for I Witnessed A Crime, which was preceded by a welcome chat with the crowd. Coupled with his jocular interactions with his band, the interplay with the crowd spoke of a man at ease with his surroundings.

The majority of ‘Painkillers’ got an airing with the title track, Honey Magnolia, Steve McQueen, Smoke, A Wonderful Life, Nobody Wins and Long Drives following another visit to ‘Elsie’ for Sugar and Ladykiller. Each song sounded huge thanks to live arrangements that left, much like the standing room in the venue, no space unfilled.

Fallon has always made it clear that his solo work and time with the Horrible Crowes exist at a remove from the Gaslight Anthem and he stayed true to his word as Black Betty And The Moon, Mary Ann, Crush and Behold The Hurricane closed the show with no Gaslight nods in sight.

Nor should there be. When you get down to brass tacks, the name above the door is Brian Fallon and the Crowes and that is precisely what we got. Don’t come for apples and then wonder why you didn’t get oranges.

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Funeral For A Friend Bid Fond Farewell To Fans At Cardiff University’s Y Plas

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Last autumn, Funeral For A Friend broke many a thirtysomething post hardcore fan’s heart by announcing their split and a celebratory tour, Last Chance To Dance, the UK leg of which would kick off at Cardiff University’s Y Plas.

The band’s final hometown show, a charity gig later this month aside, would comprise a front-to-back rendition of their 2003 debut, ‘Casually Dressed And Deep In Conversation’, and some suitably raw emotions.

To say that the excitement in the air was tangible would be a gross understatement. As soon as the first member took to the stage the crowd erupted into the sort of cheer that many bands seldom merit, and that was prior to playing a solitary note.  

After smashing through the record like a ferocious, well oiled machine- no signs of fatigue here – accompanied by crowd singalongs aplenty, the five-piece launched into This Year’s Most Open Heartbreak, which was made more memorable thanks to a surprise appearance from former drummer and vocalist Ryan Richards. Goosebumps were the order of the day as fists pumped and the chant went up: “We will never be the same, same old songs on a brand new stereo.”

The band kept up the relentless momentum and revisited the ‘Four Ways To Scream Your Name’ EP again, continuing with Kiss and Make Up (All Bets Are Off) before going deep into their catalogue for Escape Artists Never Die b-sides 10 Scene Points To the Winner and You Want Romance?.

The nostalgia was ramped up further with 10: 45 Amsterdam Conversations and The Art Of American Football, from 2002’s ‘Between Order and Model’ EP, before the band looked to ‘Hours’ for their penultimate track, History.  At the end of it all, the lyrics took on  a whole new context:  “Raise your fingers for one last salute, and bleed this skyline dry. Your history is mine.”

The show was supposed to end with Roses For The Dead, with frontman Matthew Davies-Kreye asking the crowd to “lose yourself for four minutes”. For the band, it did. But, in a moving tribute, the fans closed proceedings by striking up the chorus to History as they left the stage and the house lights came up.

It was their last chance to dance with Funeral For A Friend, and it was hard to let go.

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The Sheepdogs: Shaggy Canadian Rockers Find Their Groove

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The Sheepdogs and The People The Poet – The Globe, Cardiff – April 6, 2016.

The Sheepdogs’ return to Cardiff, having teased us with their good time rock’n’roll jams while touring with the Temperance Movement back in January, is a welcome one. Continuing to clock up the miles in support of their latest album, ‘Future Nostalgia’, the quintet’s penchant for classic rock has seen them rise from modest beginnings in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, to making the cover of Rolling Stone and becoming one of Canada’s best live bands.

Following local openers, The People The Poet, who are clearly a hit with show goers despite a short set taken from their recent ‘Paradise Closed’ EP, the five piece blast us back to a time of Midnight Riders and Statesboro Blues, sliding into their stride with Where I Can Roam before swinging straight into I’m Gonna Be Myself and I Really Wanna Be Your Man.

The band draw their set mainly from the new record, with Bad Lieutenant, Same Old Feeling, Downtown and the emotive Jim Gordon following between swigs of beer. Older cuts, such as the sunny Southern Dreaming and bluesy swagger of Right On, are also dusted off from 2010’s ‘Learn And Burn’.

Extended electric jams from guitarists Jimmy Bowskill and Ewan Currie, who is also an incredible vocalist, are a joy to hear among the avalanche of riffs, despite some breakdowns going on longer than an entire Crosby, Stills and Nash concert.

Introductions are minimal and as one song fades, the chords to the next start. Plastic Man, the twangy Back Down, Take A Trip and Help Us All, which sees Ewan’s brother Shamus trade in his keyboard for the trombone, rub shoulders with Feeling Good, The Way It Is and the rousing How Late How Long from their 2013 self-titled effort, before these long-haired heroes wind up the night with a fierce rendition of the Allman Brothers’ Whipping Post.

Performing with a relaxed confidence that comes with crafting and touring riff-heavy rock for a decade, the Sheepdogs’ love of retro doesn’t come across as a gimmick. Next time we’re going to need a bigger room.

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City And Colour: Dallas Green Plays A Career Spanning Set At Cardiff University’s Great Hall

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Cardiff University’s Great Hall is filled with a motley crew. Some are young, some old, some wear the Alexisonfire logo emblazoned on their clothes, while others appear to be standalone City and Colour fans. All, though, are eager to see Dallas Green take the stage. One fan brushes past, three bottles of water and a pint in hand and clearly in it for the long haul.

Moments later the stage lights slowly break through the black. Green and his fedora are silhouetted by white light as the opening bars of Woman, the first track from his latest album, ‘If I Should Go Before You’, ring out. From the opening moment his voice is flawless and resonates beautifully throughout the venue, silencing the nonsensical chatter that preceded him.

His band, which tonight includes the Dead Weather’s Jack Lawrence, sound soulful and, frankly, massive in comparison to the starkness of the earlier City and Colour records, which would often be performed live with just an acoustic guitar and stool for company.

He seamlessly moves on to Northern Blues, following the new record’s tracklist, before delving into 2013’s ‘The Hurry And The Harm’ for Two Coins. Though the music may have its sombre moments, Green proves this is still a rock show by slyly doing a shot at the side of the stage with his tech before swapping guitars for Hello, I’m In Delaware, the first taste of his 2005 debut ‘Sometimes’.

Those craving the intimacy that was once typical of City and Colour shows are kept happy during the latter half of the set, which sees the band leave the stage and Green once again dip into his debut with an acoustic rendition of Day Old Hate and Northern Wind from 2011’s ‘Little Hell’.

Green plays a career-spanning set, performing material from every one of his five City and Colour albums, clocking in at nearly two hours. The penultimate track, which he dares the crowd not to film, is The Girl, lifted from 2008’s ‘Bring Me Your Love’. It rouses one of the biggest singalongs of the evening and halfway through gathers momentum when the band return to kick things up a notch. They segue into ‘Little Hell’ closer Hope For Now, which ends the night on a pensive note as Green poses a question: “What if I could sing just one song and it might save somebody’s life?”

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The Temperance Movement Deliver Rock ‘n’ Roll With A Side Of Soul

The Temperance Movement / Shoreditch / Shot by Rob Blackham www.blackhamimages.com /Earache Records

Shortly after the release of their second album, ‘White Bear’, the Temperance Movement were joined by the Sheepdogs at Cardiff’s Y Plas to drive a point home: rock ‘n’ roll is doing just fine, thanks. Jon Stickler was there.

The Sheepdogs are no longer Canada’s little blues-rock secret. Having put out ‘Future Nostalgia’ last year, their fifth full length to date, the first unsigned band to make the cover of Rolling Stone rattled out a short set of tight harmonies and retro licks, making for an enticing teaser ahead of their return to Cardiff as part of a headlining tour in April.

Two and a half years since the arrival of their acclaimed self-titled debut, the Temperance Movement are back to shout about their sophomore effort, the more polished ‘White Bear’, which has seen the band overcome the difficult second album syndrome to a fanfare of praise. Many are now happy to hail them as rock ‘n’ roll’s next big thing.

Seeming genuinely excited to be back, the band have slogged long and hard since their last UK outing and their pumped up confidence beamed throughout opening newbies Three Bullets and Oh Lorraine and their debut’s Midnight Black and Be Lucky. Switching between their two albums for the next 90 minutes, fusing blues-rock, soul, funk and traits of jazz, the quintet’s unbridled set sprawls from late ‘60s soul to ‘Sticky Fingers’-era Stones and the British blues explosion, to the vintage sounds of Crosby Stills And Nash and to contemporary rock bands such as Kasabian and the Black Keys.

Led by swaggering frontman Phil Campbell, who threw some truly magnificent shapes across every inch of the stage, the band further impressed with new songs Magnify, The Sun and Moon Roll Around Too Soon, White Bear, Get Yourself Free and Battle Lines, while also striking a chord with new fans via older favourites Pride, Only Friend, Take It Back. Smouldering saw Campbell’s honeyed voice really shine, while the guitar partnership of Paul Sayer and Matt White traded licks for an extended jam.

Ending with a three song encore, I’m Hope I’m Not Losing My Mind, A Pleasant Peace I Feel and Lovers And Fighters, surprisingly a trio of softer songs, this spirited return signalled the beginning of another huge year for one of the UK’s most rousing rock bands.

Head here to check out our recent interview with the Temperance Movement.

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The Libertines: Ramshackle Kings Reign Supreme At Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena

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Despite a wobbly start, including a prelude that featured a beat poet waxing lyrical about Poundland and referencing being a libertine, London’s likely lads were at their peak at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena.

Making the move from club shows via theatres to arenas is a feat for any band, but especially so for one that cut their teeth on the toilet circuit and climbed the bills of festivals aplenty before imploding. But, without reservation, the reformed Libertines rise to the occasion. Though they may have once been hailed the ramshackle kings of Camden, tonight they were clearly focused on the business at hand.  

Strutting out, dressed for the occasion in matching fedoras, there was not a dirty white vest in sight. Backed by a big screen and light show, the band kicked things off with ‘Anthems For Doomed Youth’ opener Barbarians before heading back to 2003 with The Delaney. The four-piece ricocheted beautifully between tracks from ‘Up The Bracket’, ‘The Libertines’ and their latest offering and the fans lapped it up.

As usual all eyes were on Doherty and Carl Barât, renowned for their on stage chemistry, and tonight was no exception as they gazed adoringly at each other while sharing a mic. It was just as well, really, as bassist John Hassall was rigid and lifeless to the point that he looked like a waxwork.

The Libertines have overcome a number of roadblocks to arrive at this point and have exceeded all expectations in doing so. It was only a few months after they announced their new album that they were forced to shelve shows due to Pete Doherty suffering a serious anxiety attack and it’s heartening to see them in such fine fettle here.

As the show drew to a close an encore was a foregone conclusion and, ending things where it all began, the band closed the night with Up The Bracket and Don’t Look Back Into The Sun, which incited a bellowing singalong. Vive le Libertines!

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