WEEKLY UPDATES (with some special editions in between)



June 29, 2011

WHITE DENIM – Bowery Ballroom, NY – 25th June 2011

‘White Denim’ is a band I have keenly followed and hoped to pin down at a live show for quite some time. This Austin outfit immediately grabbed my attention when supporting Minnesota band, ‘Tapes 'n' Tapes’ at Irving Plaza in April 2008. 'White Denim' stole the show that particular evening with a refreshing and vigorous live performance. I promptly purchased their debut album release, 'Workout Holiday' on which songs like, 'Let’s Talk About It' and, 'Shake Shake Shake' epitomise this bands sound. It’s a raw sound with strong bass lines complemented by somewhere between Robert Plant and Jimi Hendrix like vocals from lead, James Petralli. Live performances are where, ‘White Denim’ come to the fore with their percussive precision and soulful wails from the lead man as well as a bass that is really stirring.

The release of, 'D' a month or so ago marks the bands fourth studio album in a busy five year spell. First impressions are that this is a more controlled effort. Increased production may have cost them a little of that raw and low-fi sound of previous albums, but this offering does sound a bit more accomplished. 

Due to my frantic schedule at SXSW in March, I missed the opportunity to see them on home soil. That, was something I was more than happy to set straight in NY at the Bowery Ballroom. Despite having had an early morning to play in a ‘Futbolito’ tournament in Queens, being off the booze, and not being ecstatic upon my arrival at the Bowery to find that, ‘White Denim’ didn’t go on until 11pm, the energy of the band soon altered my mood. Singer, Petralli entered stage left with his guitar highly saddled against his chest, while the diminutive, baby faced bass player had his bass loosing hanging almost at waist level on his small frame. In the stage set up, it’s novel to see the bass take centre stage, but I have no problem with that…especially given, Steve Terebecki’s qualities in the field.
Despite being fairly firmly with, ‘White Denim’s’ work, I will say that it was difficult to determine where some songs ended and others began, but I think I captured most of the set list fairly well. They definitely started with the first song of the new album, ‘D’, ‘It’s Him’ which is a fun track with varied, complex sound structures that ‘White Denim’ are somewhat renowned for. ‘Burnished’ follows immediately after before anyone get a chance to catch their breath and this is a common feature of the set. The song itself exhibits a, ‘Fleetwood Mac’ like riff and the band starts to show off a little of their amazing instrumental qualities and love for a bit of jamming. Indeed, they fall swiftly in to the instrumental track that is, ‘At The Farm’ which has me harking back to Eric Clapton and Cream. Fantastic sound.

Following this electrifying start, we are offered a softer more delicate track in, ‘Street Joy’ which is one of my favourites from the recent release. Lead vocalist, Petralli displays his ability to hit the high notes and low notes with delectable balance. ‘Anvil Everything’ starts out with, Petralli harmonically humming the lyrics in a, ‘Starsailor’ singer, James Walsh fashion (‘Starsailor are an English band who have fallen off the map as far as I’m aware). The song then livens up with a variety of tones through Terebecki’s bass and other rythym guitarist, Austin Jenkins. ‘Bess Street’ begins with crashing sounds and aggressive vocals from the front man and bass is again dominant…the song is rolling along nicely before there is almost a song within the song with a minute or so long, whimsical jam.

Having been enveloped in the new album, we are given our first kick back to prior recordings with, a classic shortened live performance of, ‘Shake, Shake, Shake’. I say classic as it is exactly that for me…I think it’s the first song I heard from the band and it’s the sound I immediately think of when I hear the name, ‘White Denim’. It’s fast, frantic, raw and raucous. I picture the scene of a drunken fraternity party, ‘White Denim’ playing this track and dozens of testosterone charged young men violently shaking their bodies in a fit like manner. This song is beautifully worked in to, ‘River to Consider’ which somehow exudes the sound of panpipes in the intro. It then manages to be mellow and furious…much like a meandering river I guess.
‘Is And Is And Is’ is another track that I thoroughly enjoy. Starting off chilled, Petralli then explodes in to a Robert Plant style of singing and indeed, this song is along the ‘Whole Lotta Love’ vibe on the chorus. The next track was one from, ‘Fits’ called, ‘El Hard Attack DCWYW' which begun with a weeping and amazing guitar rhythm and continued on to the concluding holler of, “tell me what you want” from Petralli. The next track set out with a Jam/Clash type bass line more associated with the mod/punk era of days gone by (digging around to find this ones name).

'Don’t Look That Way At It' was up next with an enigmatic, Petralli wailing "darl-i-in" in his sophisticated manner. This was followed by, 'Paint Silver Gold' which was a previously unknown one for me...with lyrics were something like "when I was a young boy...". It was a bluesy little track and led nicely in to the very popular, 'Drug'. The crowd loved this, the latest release from, 'D'. White Denim succeed here in mixing the best of blues with a significant tinge of psychedelic to great effect. The last track from the album, 'Keys' followed swiftly in this almost bluegrass/country track. This is something of a surprise in their repertoire. Those familiar with reading my blog will know that this is not my cup of tea, but it was decent. 

They finished the set with another that I need to look up. Lyrics contained "who's that looking at the window light" and "if they ever come looking for me." It was an epic finish where the band concluded with the energy they set out with. The late night crowd begged for an encore and duly got the wish that they desired with a few of the old favourites (the band had exhausted their new material). 

The encore was solid, with, 'Lets Talk About It' and 'Mess Your Hair Up' from, 'Workout Holiday' and 'I Start To Run' from, 'Fits' in rapid succession. These are spine chilling tunes with clever riffs and harsh, Hendrix like vocals. The closer is very funkadelic and finished up with a bongo drum sound.
Almost every song has a feel that the band  are in a race against oneanother and no one wants to win. White Denim are very tricky to label or box, but with regards to their influences their consistent garage rock sound references, ‘Grateful Dead’ among others. A large number of their tunes border jazz, blues, folk and definitely psychedelia. I continue to hear a lot of Clapton, Cream, Zeppelin and a little, Who in their music. Rating 8/10

Set List:
It's Him
At The Farm
Street Joy
Anvil Everything
Bess St
Shake Shake Shake
River to Consider
Is and Is and Is
El Hard Attack DCWYW
Don't Look That Way At It
Paint Silver Gold

Lets Talk About It
Mess Your Hair Up
I Start To Run

Quick note on the support:

'Mazes supported'. Only heard two songs, but like what I heard and plan to find out a little more. English lead with what might well be an American band although a quick search suggest they are from London. They sounded similar to White Denim, bit lacking the psychedelic element. They were a little bit mod orientated,
yet the lead guitar sported 80's rock hair.

June 26, 2011

BEADY EYE – Webster Hall, NY – 23rd June 2011

In terms of an intro, I have pretty much said it all in the previous album review – and gig review - My deep rooted love for, ‘Oasis’ and keen interest on both siblings progress in life after, ‘Oasis’ has already been shared on this blog. It is perhaps something of a surprise that, Liam got ahead of the game in moving on and releasing new music. In recruiting former, ‘Oasis’ band mates,  Gem Archer (‘Heavy Stereo’ and ‘Oasis’) and Andy Bell (‘Ride’, ‘Hurricane#1’ and ‘Oasis’) and supplementing these two talents with Chris Sharrock (‘The Icicle Works’, ‘The La’s’, ‘The Wild Swans’, ‘Wild Party’ and ‘The Lightning Seeds’), Liam really has struck gold. The undeniable truth is, ‘Beady Eye’ are an extremely talented group of musicians. In the previous review, my focus and plaudits were very much geared to the eminent front man, but in this review, I hope to comprehend that this is by no means a one man show. It’s also worth noting, that while on stage two other, ‘Beady Eye’s’ are present in Jeff Wooton on bass (‘Gorillaz’) and Matt Jones (‘Ultrasound’) on keyboard. They too bring something to the party.

The band’s debut album, ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’, released in February is by no means in my ‘top albums’ category just yet, but it’s a very decent debut with a few cracking tracks. Collectively sharing the songwriting between Gallagher, Archer and, Bell makes complete sense. The trio have all written and performed self written songs with their various projects in the past to varying degrees of success, but collectively, they seem to have delivered the goods on this album.

We took our seats (found suitable standing spot) upstairs in Webster Hall. Having seen the band up close and personal the previous night, a different vantage point seemed like the sensible decision. Thirty minutes prior to going on, Liam brushed fleetingly past me in his notorious swagger. Shortly after, 'Stone Roses', 'Resurrection' bellowed from the sound system. Great stuff and elevated the anticipation of the forthcoming, Beady Eye’ in the room.

The crowd was made up of an extremely diverse bunch. From the bearded and unwashed to mods; fedora wearing hipsters to baseball cap clad hip-hopsters. Indeed, 'Smiths' bass guitarist, Andy Rourke was spotted and ambushed briefly by a friend of mine. Apparently he was in good form and still passionate about his music. 
Starting with the very popular, ‘Four Letter Word’ the crowd got comfortable with the notion that they were in for a treat. As per the previous night, there was no real desire for mid song or between song banter as they zipped onwards with, ‘Beatles And Stones’ which went down really well with the packed house. Perhaps much of the adulation is a touch of reminiscing. I mean, who wouldn't enjoy a track where two masters of music are referred to? You have to love it. B-side to, 'The Roller’ was up next and admittedly, it’s the first time I had heard, ‘Two Of A Kind’ which is poppy, with well composed lyrics – “I’m on my way, To save my love, She rides my wave, I swim above.” This was a warm up to, ‘The Roller’ itself which is a fantastic song.  It’s somewhat sleepy and sultry, yet manages to be upbeat and invigorating as well. Liam shakes hands with an ecstatic crowd afterwards...we are seeing the evolution of man unfold before our eyes. What happened to the LG of old?

'Wind Up Dream' took us through the midway point and, Liam is in good harmony with, Gem on this one. My only complaint being that it’s missing the harmonica from the album version which takes something away from this track. Its like, 'Masterplan' without harmonica...just a little hollow. ‘Bring The Light’ is a firm favourite with me...the high octane keys from, Jones and general sound is wonderful…and I love the guitar riff by, Gem immediately following the chorus. ‘'Standing On The Edge Of The Noise' was introduced as 'Standing On The Fucking Edge Of The Noise' and the aggression of the vocals on this song are ideal for Liam. They changed the mic after this one...good chance he may have blown it with that song. 

‘Kill For A Dream’ is along the balladry lines of, ‘Champagne Supernova’ or ‘Stand By Me’ and ‘The Beat Goes On’ is another more chilled offering. Liam paying his candid respects an appreciation midway through the song to a banner simply displaying the songs title. Despite the fandans in the audience bellowing for ‘Wonderwall’ (probably on the lower end of my favourite, ‘Oasis’ tunes) and one Scottish idiot (yes, we have our fair share) with his strong, harsh Glaswegian accent directly behind me persistently screaming, “I love you, Liam…I love you”, this more charismatic than before front man maintained his focus on the performance at hand and, ‘Beady Eye’.

‘The Morning Son’ echo and distortion worked brilliantly in this mellow, psychedelic tune with the now enigmatic front man closing with "I'm not just sayin’ it...fcukin’ top place" in reference to NYC as he left the stage for the first time. An encore was demanded and supplied. Introducing, ‘Wigwam’ by asking the audience, "where's the cavalries?" To that point, I do like the military like drum beat from, Sharrock before Liam wraps this up with his impeccable, "I'm coming up" finale on the track. 'World Of Twist' cover, ‘Sons Of The Stage’ is announced as the last song with Liam announcing "getting out of here before I catch a cold. You guys are the bollocks." Incidentally, the last part if this quotation is extremely high praise of an ecstatic crowd.

The live act is solid and this band are tighter than a Scotsman pouring out a fine malt. Depending on my mood, ‘The Roller’, ‘Bring The Light’ and, ‘The Beat Goes On’ are among my, ‘Beady Eye’ preferences. That said, ‘Beatles And Stones’ and ‘Standing On The Edge Of The Noise’ are serious contenders to the pack with the slow burning, ‘Wigwam’ not too far away.

With news that, ‘Beady Eye’ have begun working on material for a second album, I am more than satisfied with what I have seen and heard this past week and look forward to much more from this multi talented band. Liam and Gem in particular (hard to tell with the poker faced, Bell) are clearly enjoying the music in a different way to what they did with Oasis. Instead of, in between song bickering with his older brother, Liam and Gem are often sharing a word or three and seemingly having a ball performing on stage together. Rating 9/10 (not as intimate, but more songs and more atmos in this rundown, but raw and reliable venue)

Set List:
Four Letter Word
Beatles And Stones
Two Of A Kind
For Anyone
The Roller
Wind Up Dream
Bring The Light
Standing On The Edge Of The Noise
Kill For A Dream
Three Ring Circus
Man Of Misery
The Morning Son

Sons Of The Stage (World Of Twist cover)

June 22, 2011

BEADY EYE – Letterman Theater, Broadway, NY – 22nd June 2011

Let’s not beat about the bush, ‘Oasis’ are my favourite band of all time. From the moment my good friend, Kevin Bruce shared the most recent addition to his music collection back in 1994, 'Definitely Maybe' to this day, ‘Oasis’ feature highly on my playlist. In fact, ‘Definitely Maybe’ is the favourite album in my extensive collection and really marks a time in which music became a huge passion of mine. ‘Oasis’, to all intents and purposes are dead, but some of the sound lives on in , ‘Beady Eye’, formed in 2009 and comprised of Liam Gallagher (‘Oasis’), Gem Archer (‘Heavy Stereo’ and ‘Oasis’), Andy Bell (‘Ride’, ‘Hurricane#1’ and ‘Oasis’) and Chris Sharrock (‘The Icicle Works’, ‘The La’s’, ‘The Wild Swans’, ‘Wild Party’ and ‘The Lightning Seeds’). While touring they are supplemented by Jeff Wooton on bass (‘Gorillaz’), Matt Jones (‘Ultrasound’) on keyboard.

The undeniable truth is, ‘Beady Eye’ are a talented bunch of musicians. The band’s debut album, ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’, released in February this year suitably impressed me. I had my doubts having heard some of Liam's previous songwriting efforts (notably, ‘Little James’ on Oasis’s fourth album 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants'), but this debut, ‘Beady Eye’ album struck me as a fairly solid offering. This show is one that excited me more than most. 
It sounds kind of contrived, but ‘Oasis’ covered a huge part of my life in terms of music, relationships, life experiences and in essence, my 20’s and early 30’s. My first, ‘Oasis’ live experience is etched in my memory forever…Loch Lomond, Scotland August 3rd, 1996. Indeed, ‘Beady Eye’ lead guitarist, Gem Archer was on the line up of this two day extravaganza with former band, ‘Heavy Stereo’. Despite knowing nothing can come close to the high of this particular Loch Lomond show, I had my fingers crossed that this intimate, free Letterman show on June 22nd 2011 and the forthcoming, Webster Hall show on June 23rd 2011 would satisfy my fervour. I’m delighted to say, ‘Beady Eye’ did not disappoint.   

Ten minutes prior to the start of the show, lead man, Liam Gallagher’s wife Nicole Appleton (formerly of pop group, All Saints) and their son, Gene took their seats on the front row. Natalie Appleton (sister of Nicole and also formerly of, All Saints and married to, Liam Howlett of ‘The Prodigy’) and a few others members of the ‘Beady Eye’ entourage were in attendance. To the surprise of an excited audience, the band entered stage rear promptly after the entourage got comfortable. The more mellow and mature, Liam stopping to high-five, shake hands and kiss various members of the audience on route to the stage. In years gone by, this perhaps would have been hisses and spits of anger. 

The band didn’t hang about and got ripped in to the ten song set. With a six piece band for live performances featuring two rhythm guitars, bass, drums, keyboards and of course, vocals the sound was piercing and pulsating. Before a kiss for the missus and a hug of son, Gene, Beady Eye kicked off proceedings with the first song on their debut album, ‘Four Letter Word’. My initial thoughts were - ”Wow! Liam’s vocals are very strong” and this is a theme that continued throughout the show. This song is pretty raucous with, 'Who' like riffs and psychedelic sounds accompanying those strong vocals from the on form Gallagher. A quick “cheers” and on to the next one, a personal favourite of mine, ‘Beatles And Stones’. This shares the kind of 'My Generation' chords and rhythms that I love, and Liam shrills the chorus with supreme gusto.

Things chilled out for a brief moment with ‘Millionaire’. Despite this being one of my least favourite offerings from the album, it was well delivered and received in the live setting. There’s no secret that Liam bases his music and vocals on, ‘The Beatles’ and more predominantly, ‘John Lennon’. ‘The Roller’ is certainly on this vein. Again the strengths and brilliance of Liam’s vocals are on show in this simple but extremely effective track. It’s one that I imagine football (soccer in America) fans singing on the way to the pub after the big match. A song that gets ingrained in the brain and you are unable to get out of your head. Oftentimes this is the case with songs you don’t like, but in this instance, I’m happy to have, ‘The Roller’ spinning around my mind. 

There’s never been any question in my mind that, Liam Gallagher was born to be front man...the man simply loves to perform. Some call it arrogance, and in the past it might have been, but at one point in proceedings, he shared a look with, Gem and they both nodded in agreement…as if to say, “This is good stuff”. 

Another of my favourites from, ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ is the zestful, breathless, jazzy, soulful, rock 'n roll tune, ‘Bring The Light’. This was dedicated to his son, Gene who got all embarrassed on the attribution from his Dad. With catchy lyrics and wonderful keys at the fore, they pulled this off better than I expected live. Bags of energy and get up and go. From this, we go to the wistful little melody of, 'Kill for a Dream' which is certainly synonymous with 'Cast No Shadow' and 'Champagne Supernova' from the 'What's the Story, Morning Glory?' and perhaps even 'All You Need is Love'. Liam's voice quality again draws plaudits with his “I’m coming up, I’m coming up” at the end expertly delivered.

‘Standing On The Edge Of The Noise’ is lyrically pretty hollow, but with crunching guitar of the two rhythms and heavy drums, it’s a solid live tune. It’s sung as though it’s a drunken rant on the way home from a late night home. ‘The Beat Goes On’ which follows is another in the soft and melancholy category with keyboards again significant and Lennonesque delivery from, Gallagher. ‘Wigwam‘ maintains the chilled out vibe. Liam asking the audience whether there are any Indians in the house? When no reply was offered, he suggested there has got to be a few cowboys. I think he meant Native Americans (ha ha). He then had a go at someone on the front row for being engrossed in their phone, quipping, “Wait 'til you're out”. Quite right.

Dedicating last song, ‘The Morning Son’ to New York City, Liam stated it’s “the only fuckin’ place that truly blows my mind every time” and I think that was fairly candid knowing that I myself feel the same each time I arrive back here. This is another trippy little track and a very apt closer. There’s a lot of emotion in this track and it’s a wonderful Sunday morning tune.

It was fantastic to see two completely unassociated young gentlemen bonding in the theatre isles with their excited dancing and singing every word along with Liam. It certainly turned the clock back to that epic, Oasis Loch Lomond gig in 1996. Like, Mr. Gallagher, I too have matured and mellowed somewhat over time, but that did not spoil my enjoyment of this intimate show. I had some fears going in that Liam’s vocals would have diminished over time, but these fears were not only allayed, but blown completely out of the water. It’s raw sound, energy and emotion…there are no earpieces to aid him or filters and I think this is just the way he likes it.

‘Beady Eye’ comprises a talented group of musicians, and with the ultimate front man in, Liam Gallagher, they will certainly go deeper than an album or two. The songwriting of older brother, Noel will, I’m sure, be missed, but this was not a marked absence on this occasion. Indeed, not once during this performance did I pine for, Noel. Rating 9/10 (Mrs ScoAustin is asking that I bump this up another 0.5, but I’m generally tough with my ratings...not to mention I think this emotion is attributed to her obvious crush on Liam).

See the show in its entirety here -

Set List:
Four Letter Word
Beatles And Stones
The Roller
Bring The Light
Kill For A Dream
Standing On The Edge Of The Noise
The Beat Goes On
The Morning Son