Monthly Archives: May 2015

GIG REVIEW – Relics, Dead Frequency, My Favourite Runner Up, Colt 45 – Milo Leeds 21/5/2015

They didn’t call this gig Four Faces Of Rock but it would have been apt. The venue was Milo on Call Lane in Leeds, not far from Oporto where I attended a gig earlier this year. There were four bands each representing a very different style although how deliberate this was isn’t clear. First up were Huddersfield band Relics who are very much in the metalcore category. This particular genre isn’t really my scene but it seemed very well done.

Which takes me on to Dead Frequency who – as Colt 45 have already had a write up on here – are the band I want to focus most on.

Dead Frequency (from Daventry, Northamptonshire) describe themselves as Glam Punk. Given how much Ziggy Stardust reset popular culture in 1972 and the enduring legacy of Freddie Mercury it’s curious how much performance and fantasy has dropped out of mainstream rock in recent years. I still feel a defining moment was when Oasis unexpectantly beat Suede to the top of the Britpop pile and the initially thrilling music of the Gallagher brothers gave way to a chugging blokeishness that produced a long slipstream of music that was at best beige and at worst thuggish and ignorant. Of course all acts are defined by their era (Mick Jagger put on a pink jacket during the glam years) and the Oasis effect meant that the Manic Street Preachers put socialism before eyeliner and even Elton John’s creative rebirth in 2001 saw the eccentric costumes of yore discarded in favour of singer songwriter earnestness.

It perhaps didn’t help that pop and rock diverged at a similar point (Pet Shops Boys and Erasure could hardly be called rock acts) and – something I was a bit hesitant to throw into the mix – maybe the one downside of a more tolerant society is that certain things aren’t as rebellious as they used to be.

But back to Dead Frequency who are Glam Punk and not afraid to flaunt it, right down to the cover of Ballroom Blitz. From the off they were looking to win over the audience and remind them that rock is about having a good time. Suffice to say that by the time a cannon of confetti was sprayed over the audience (Colt 45’s singer getting the brunt of it) they had succeeded. As a regular gig goer there are two marks of a good band and the first is how much you want to see them again (I’ll reveal the second shortly). I’m hoping Dead Frequency return to this neck of the woods soon.

Next up were Aberystwyth band My Favoruite Runner Up whose contribution to the evening was pop punk influenced. This band have two EPs and a full length album to their name and, while perhaps not offering anything out of the ordinary, are well worth investigating. I downloaded the Crossroads album tonight and there are some strong songs on there.

Which takes me on to Colt 45 and obviously I was fired up for seeing my favourite band of the moment again; judging by the enthusiasm of some other audience members I may not be alone. There wasn’t a tremendous difference between this show and the one they offered at the Royal Park so there’s little point in repeating what I said two blogs ago. Suffice to say it’s always a privilege to see this band and with Salt Water, I Thought I Knew Best and Chasing Yesterday (among others) present and correct it’s a case of great song after great song. Obviously Colt 45 offered a fourth sound of the night after metalcore, Glam Punk and Pop Punk and that sound was the brutal roar of simplicity and reality. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there’s no great gimmicks with Colt 45 – they play and write songs better than almost all other bands.

Oh yes and the second mark of a great band? Well this only becomes apparent when a show overruns it’s scheduled times and it’s whether the band are worth missing the last train home for. Colt 45 definitely passed that test.

Take That, Newcastle Metro Radio Arena, 18/5/2015

I made a promise at the start of this year to review every single show I went to. I’m currently a little bit behind but I promise that McBusted and Gretchen Peters will get the write up they deserve. In the meantime I’ll try and stay topical.

This was the third time I’ve seen Take That although the second time around (Amsterdam 2011) wasn’t entirely comparable due to the presence of Robbie Williams and his solo set halfway through. That was the Progress tour, which of course was a career defining moment for all involved. It was always going to be a comedown for Take That after that and indeed they themselves acknowledged it; `I’m Gary, I’m Mark, I’m Howard and we’re what’s left of Take That`. That said Robbie’s presence was always a glorified guest spot and Jason Orange’s role was relatively minor.

Post Progress Take That were almost in the same position Abba occupied in the late seventies, that of the pop band who people liked even if they didn’t dare admit it. However the III album was a relative disappointment with no real stand outs and a slightly samey effect across the whole album. The most interesting thing about it was the lack of guest spots which might possibly have been an attempt to disguise who was missing. However in the four years that seperated Progress and III both Gary and Mark have released solo albums (one reigniting his solo career and the other stuck as a cult concern despite far superior material) so there may also have been a desire to emphasise the group element. Credit where credit is due III sounds as dissimilar to Beautiful World (a fine album in its day but slightly dated now) as that album did to Take That And Party.

However when you have the hits and the history you don’t really need the new material and Take That have plenty of practice at putting on a show. The decision to play indoor arenas this time around allowed for more ambition with the staging even if there wasn’t anything as spectacular as a giant robot making its way through the audience. In some ways it was a retread of The Circus tour with a similar theme. Without the Robbie distraction the set list was largely similar to that tour with the better songs from III replacing the supporting numbers from The Circus.

Seeing Take That reduced to three members did bring into focus how this all came about. Gary Barlow was the lad who used to make music in his local studio, Mark Owen was the teaboy who became his mate, Howard Donald and Jason Orange were recruited primarily as dancers and a sixteen year from Stoke On Trent was brought in to make up numbers. You could be cynical and suggest that the band was now Gary Barlow accompanied by a tea boy and a dancer. However this would be an injustice to Howard Donald who was always involved in the musical side even in the early days and a definite slur on Mark Owen whose solo career I’ve blogged about previously.

Gary Barlow did himself no favours when he fought to keep Robbie Williams from stealing the limelight in the nineties and it’s ironic that he may still pull rank (listen to The Circus and marvel at how the magnificent Owen led Hold Up A Light never got a single release while the stodgy Greatest Day did) but there could be little doubt that there was always a lift in the show when Mark Owen came to the fore. Let’s face it, latter era Take That is better when he’s in the ascendency and yet he still seems like the teaboy who got lucky.

Nineties era Take That was relatively unrepresented with only five songs from that era, two of them covers, and even Back For Good felt like an awkward insert. However they served as a reminder that you weren’t just watching a superbly performed and choreographed show but that the Take That story featured four years of super stardom nobody thought could last, ten years as the butt of cruel jokes and a comeback that defied expectations. Some things are great just because it was never really supposed to exist and Take That 2015 is one such thing.