Category: Music Live Review


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I first saw The Flaming Lips live at the V2000 festival, I was a fan but hadn’t seen them live, so I got to the arena early and got to the front. I didn’t know what to expect, and I got one hell of a surprise. We had balloons, hand puppets and even fake blood, like no other band I have seen in my life. It was one of the most memorable perfomances i’ve ever seen. So when they toured the UK a few years later I went to see them at the Birmingham Alexandre Theatre, this time we had more balloons and the band dressed in Pink Rabbit costumes like the ones in the Do You Realise video, another great night was had.  So I walked into the NIA last night wandering what we would see this time!  

Support was provided by a band called Deer Hoof, a three piece, with a Yoko lookalike on Bass and animal on the drums. They were certainly different, I think they will played by many kids looking to annoy their parents, don’t get me wrong, at first I didn’t like them, but soon warmed to them.  So to the main event, unlike most bands Wayne Coyne, doesn’t hide until it’s time to come on, he was wandering around the side of the stage during the support and even helped set up with the roadies.  So how do the Flaming Lips make an entrance, well impressively. On one side of the stage were a group of Santas, and on the other were some Aliens in metallic purple dresses with torches. The Lips bass Player was in a Skeleton costume and the guitarist in a silver boiler suit, and where was Wayne well he was in a big inflatable ball walking over the crowd!!!  He got back to stage and the band kicked off with the brilliant Race For The Prize, while the crowd were showered with confetti and big orange balloons and streamers.  They made their way through classic hits and tracks from recent album, At War With The Mystics, with their infectious enthusiasm. When you watch the Lips you can see that they are enjoying themselves as much as the crowd, Wayne Coyne is a very humble frontman, who is always thanking the crowd for their support, and gets a lot of respect from me for it.  After an hour and a half  they finished a great set and came back on for two encores with the penultimate track being their fantastic cover of Queens’ Bohemian Rhapsody. My only regret is I didn’t take my camera and get some shots to show you how much of show they put on. If you like The Flaming Lips go and see them when you can, if you don’t like them still go and see them, you will love it!

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Pictures Left to Right: The Divine Comedy, The Magic Numbers, We Are Scientists, We Are Scientists, Beck, Beck, Beck, Radiohead, Radiohead, Radiohead, Radiohead, Mud Glorious Mud!

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After the night of the ‘Thieving Pregnant Bitches’ (a long story!), Sunday started off to a great start as the picture above shows. Yes the Sun came out for the first time, and the cheers could be heard across all the campsites. For me this was great as it meant I wouldn’t have to wear my post office coat and get people asking me where their giro was, for the whole day!  The day was also special for me as two of my top 3 bands were playing, Radiohead, more of them later, and The Divine Comedy, who were my frst visit of the day on the Main V Stage. Luckily there wasn’t a huge amount of people watching them so I managed to get virtually to the front.  In the past Neil Hannon has been a bit reluctant to play their better known tracks at festivals, not today. First off was The National Express, a kareoke favourite of mine, which immediately got the crowd going. The set then was a mixture of tracks from the new album, Victory For The Comic Muse, and classics like Something For The Weekend and becoming More Like Alfie, and of course the now regular festival cover, this time Nelly Furtado’s Maneater. A great set, reinforcing why they are one of my favourite bands.

Next up was a band that I have been told by two friends are great live and they weren’t wrong. The Magic Numbers were the perfect follow up to the DC and their summer tunes went down really well with the sun up in the sky. They played all the singles and highlight tracks from their debut album, as well as new tracks which sounded great, cannot wait to hear their next album.

How do you follow up nice summery tunes?, with a bit of indie rock, in the form of Bloc Party. I loved there debut album Silent Alarm, though it did wear out a bit, but I was still keen to see them. They seemed to be enjoying themselves and live their music sounds as good as on the CD. The set consisted of mainly the album and single Two More Years, though they did sneak in a couple of new tracks. The only downside, well the rain came back for a bit, but didn’t lower our spirits.

The follow up act on the main stage was Keane, but having seen them last time I decided to check out the weird world of We Are Scientists. Unfortunately due to the phone network being as reliable as the train network I couldn’t find my friends so found a spot near the stage and awaited the bands arrival. What an arrival, with the sounds of motorbikes revving the guys rolled onto the stage on little tricycles and crash helmets. After parking their beasts, they got straight into rocking our socks off with their distinct brand of rock. Banging tracks out from their debut album With Love And Squalor, they were a pleasant surprise, using the Editors Guitars for some reason, and joined on one track by Bloc Party’s guitarist. They finished, and the announcement went out that next band The Ordinary Boys weren’t playing, which got a huge cheer!!! i didn’t care I was off to watch Beck!!!

I’ve seen Beck once at the rather small Birmingham Academy and he blew my socks off, so I had high hopes for his perfomance today. Wow is all I can say, okay I’ll say a bit more. Beck was joined on stage by a bunch of puppets, no Keane didn’t join him! At the back of the stage was a miniature version of the stage, on it were puppets of every member of the band who proceeded to copy everything that their real life versions did, including scratching the decks. it was just total genius, with the puppets appearing on the screens, you had to do double takes all the time. This brilliant idea got even better when Becks band started playing the track Clap Hands on a table of plates and cutlery, over to the puppets and they were doing the same.  it was just a great idea done to such a brilliant degree that it was my highlight of the festival and we still had Radiohead left! Oh and I personally thought the Beck puppet looked like Owen Wilson!

 So onto to my favourite band and the last band of the weekend, Radiohead. Luckily i managed to get next to sound booth which wasn’t that far from the stage, so had a great view. Didn’t really know what to expect, from Thom Yorke and the boys would it be all new stuff or the greatest hits? Well a bit of both, they played old classics like The Bends, Street Spirit, Paranoid Android and a few tracks from the electronic albums of Kid A and Amnesiac. The new tracks sounded great, but when we will see the new CD, who knows?. The only problem was that when they played the newer stuff the loud mouths behind got bored and proceeded to talk throughout them. Thankfully they moved to allow me and my friends to enjoy the rest of the set. The stage design was great with loads of odd shaped screens all over the backdrop all connected to CCTV cameras, which gave an eerie tone to the show. So how did they finish the set, well to a huge roar and a big surprise, with Creep! Couldn’t have asked for a better end to the show, and the perfect end to the festival. 

 Overall I didn’t think the festival was as good as previous years, it has become a bit too commercialised, and it seems that the crowd has changed, from the early days when it was mostly music fans to now where it seems to be mostly people who are there to get drunk and football chant along to the bands they know. A real shame, and they really need to sort out the line up, with Saturday’s line up a pale shadow of Sundays where I could have watched loads of bands. So this could be my last visit, obviously depending on who’s on next year. I would like to give a shout out to the folks I went with, Taz, Tom, Kate, Gina, Ricardo, Giles and Meetch, who made it a really good laugh. Thanks Guys.

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Left to Right: The Boy Least Likely To, Hayseed Dixie, Jim Noir, Gomez, Starsailor and Morrissey.

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This Weekend myself along with tens of thousands of music fans decended on Weston Park Staffordshire for the 2006 V Festival. This was my fifth visit to the festival after 96,97,2000 and 2004 and I was really looking forward to seeing some of my favourite bands. What i didn’t expect was how wet it was going to be!!! Every year that i have been it has been sunny, but on Friday as I sheltered under a tree from the torrential downpour, it became obvious this year was going to be different, worst of all I didn’t have any wellies!! Thankfully the rain stopped enough for me to get my tent up which was actually waterproof. It then gave time to sit and ponder which bands I was going to see. This can become like planning a military mission, working out which bands are on which stage and when and if you can make it to the next stage in time. After this was sorted i went in search of Wellies, thank god for Millets, they had a stall and my size, no trench foot for me. Roll on Saturday.

Saturday

After a reasonable nights sleep it was off to see some bands. First it was off to the JJB Arena to seeThe Boy Least Likely To, an indie pop type band, the perfect start to the festival, there brand of upbeat tunes really got the crowd into the festival spirit, with the addition of their giant dog wandering through the crowd giving out balloons, helped the create a party spirit, unfortunately it was like a party where the police turn up and tell you to stop, when as they were about to start their last tune, single ‘Be Gentle With Me’ the sound man came on and told them to stop. As you can imagine this got a huge amount of boos from the crowd, it’s not like they were going to do a ten minute song.

After that bad end it was time to brave the pouring rain and venture over to the Strongbow Cider House. After queing to get in, I was hit by very loud cheesy dance music (not my bag at all) but after managing to find my mate Dave we waited for the arrival of Hayseed Dixie. A group of American country boys with a great line in rock covers, except they play them on banjos, violins and guitars. They didn’t dissapoint and the dance crowd in the room actually stayed and really got into it. The band did their fantastic version of Ace Of Spades (if you get the chance check it out) as well as Queens’ Fat Bottomed Girls and other rock classics as well as a few tunes of their own including one about Poop In A Jar (don’t ask!). When they finished twenty minutes overtime, they got a great reception, which was thoroughly deserved.

The one downside this year apart from the weather was the planning, it seemed that Sunday had a great line up all day whereas Saturday had spells with not much on, and so I decided to have look at a few acts I didn’t know, and get out of the rain! First I saw Richard Hawley, one time member of the Longpigs and Pulp. I didn’t really know his stuff, but quite enjoyed his performance, don’t know if I would buy his cd but not bad. Next I wandered into the Virgin Mobile Union Tent and watched a guy called Jim Noir. What a pleasant surprise, a singer songwriter in the vein of Brendan Benson and Ben Kweller, really upbeat songs i liked a lot and shall have to check out his CD.

As the weather got worse I couldn’t be bothered watching Hard Fi so had a break back at the tent. After a rest it was back to the JJb arena to watch Gomez, a band I have grown to love. In front of a packed out tent they played a mxture of old classics like Whippin Piccadilly to tracks from the new album. As I hoped a great live performance.

It was now time to brave the elements and go to the Channel 4 Stage to watch Starsailor, a band I have always wanted to see, and they didn’t disappoint. A great set featuring most of their hits, which went down really well with the crowd who deicided to watch them rather than Paul Weller. James Walsh showed what a great frontman he was getting the crowd into the music. I shall try and see them live at a venue.

The penultimate act of the day was Rufus Wainwright, the talented son of Ludon and brother of Martha. In the JJB tent with the sun going down (behind the rain clouds) was the perfect setting for his style of Piano and guitar led tunes. His voice sounded great playing sounds from his Want albums and other releases, and was joined by another of his sisters for a couple of tracks including the haunting rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. A great performance that despite being hijacked by the thumpin bass of Faithless in the background, still provided an amazing atmosphere.

Finally I had a big choice to make, Morrissey or Razorlight, now I would have probably said Razorlight as I liked their stuff, but in the end i chose Mozza. I liked the Smiths though I’m not a massive fan, but thought I would check out the miserablist, and it started really well with a mixture of Smiths classics and solo material including the excellent Last Of The Gang To Die. Half way through it became a lot of his new material which was okay, including one which i thought was a Radiohead cover at first. He dragged a few more Smiths songs out toward the end before finishing with a favourite of mine, How Soon Is Now. A great end to the set and the day.