Late of the Pier @ Chameleon Arts Cafe, 30th November
After a fairly disappointing set from their support, Fan Death, Late of the Pier – Nottingham’s homegrown effeminate lad quartet – entered the stage, all youth and glittery jumpers. After establishing that they wanted the first four rows to sit down, so that those unlucky buggers stuffed further back could see, they began playing ‘Space and the Woods’, track three on their eclectic debut album ‘Fantasy Black Channel’. Blame the catchy tunes, the immediate sense of fun or their apparently innate ability to entertain, but not 5 minutes had passed when everyone who had begrudgingly sat down was up dancing about like idiots (me included, I might add). I believe it was when ‘Broken’ started up that people began jumping – uh oh. The Chameleon Arts Cafe, for all its intimate charm, has a well dodgy floor – in the sense that it was a real concern for the (few) security staff was that the floor was going to collapse from beneath us. I kid you not. When they announced between songs that we had to stop jumping because we might all die people just seemed, bizarrely, to bounce around more. But I must say this: It. Was. Wicked. All of a sudden those stunts bands perform to today’s apathetic crowds became stupendous and exciting: the singer climbing up to the top of the dubiously arranged tower of speakers and the guitarist crowd surfing blindly into the (very) receptive crowd was met with riotous enjoyment.
This was truly the best gig I’ve seen in Nottingham in a while and I would highly recommend trying to catch them on their tour if you can. Their thrashy, glittery music is destined to get even the snobbiest of gig-goers going – even without the threat of catastrophe egging them on. As bassist Faley said, when asked what he thought of the gig ‘It was fucking chaos, it was wicked’. Rather.
The Mystery Jets @ Rock City, 30th October
They strode on stage to the sound of war sirens and appeared to be lovely guys. The audience was well dressed and seemed to be having a good time before the music had even started. I loved their clothes. Blaine Harrison looked a little like a Patrick Wolf-cum-Tim Burton invention, sporting a wonderful, glittering black sequin jacket that matched his geeky-handsome sweep. William Rees was also sparkling like a dream in his lovely harlequinesque, primary-coloured sequin cardigan, and a cheeky bus-stop-boy smile that could make a girl blush. They played many of their illustrious hits including “Half in Love With Elizabeth” and the recent hit “Young Love”. Each song was flawlessly played and the band made a real effort to be amiable and communicate with the audience. Unfortunately, there was a lack of fervor or energy of any kind, in fact there was no MYSTERY to the Mystery Jets, it was rather like watching a gap advert: clean, inoffensive and contemporary but unfortunately, just plain dull. I find this a lot at the moment, it’s as if all the right boxes are ticked, good clothes, nice faces, clean songs – but somehow they just fall short of hitting anything magical.
Death Cab For Cutie @ Rock City, 15th November 2008
I arrived at Rock City with high hopes for what Death Cab For Cutie could offer, and they most certainly surpassed my expectations. The Washington band’s renowned ability to blend simple chords with experimental, angular guitars to mathematical precision is a rare quality, and yet the band still manage to preserve this live for an awaiting audience. There was real chemistry between the members on stage throughout – to the extent in which exchanging their instruments and continuing to uphold flawless musical production was very impressive. Crowd pleasers included their recent single “Cath”, but the catchy “Soul Meets Body’ and “Company Calls” were also equal in popularity. A personal favourite was Ben Gibbard’s brilliant solo of ‘I Will Follow You into the Dark’. However, the band’s rendition of ‘I Will Possess Your Heart’, with its silky bass-line driving Gibbard’s sensuous vocal tone and haunting piano, as well as Jason McGerr’s thunderous drums, was undoubtedly one of the best live performances I have ever seen. An incredible evening.