Reviews

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Written by Jamie Brannon Monday, 04 March 2013 14:20
Features - Reviews
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For Coventry’s Godiva Festival in the summer, the weather proved to be its death knell cancelling the three-day extravaganza. As a consolation, Coventry City Council decided to organise a one-day concert in Union Square under the Godiva banner.

However, the ‘Great’ British weather once again proved to be an achilles heel, although the event still went ahead, climaxing in performances by two rock bands at different stages in their career trajectories.

All day the rain had been a consistent presence, meaning the expected 5,000 visitors never materialised, and even when Twisted Wheel the support act to the headliner came on, there were still plenty of pavements unoccupied. A number of people chose to watch from the designated indoor bar tent.

The weather and small crowd made it a difficult gig for Twisted Wheel, a band who were a late replacement for The Twang, who pulled out at the last minute.

Their derivative Oasis-influenced rock sounds like the arse-end of Britpop, making you think that Shed Seven were actually decent.

The dull, militant playing failed to inspire a sparse crowd, though the inclement weather didn’t aid their cause, but it was a set containing plenty of perspiration, not inspiration.

Numbers had increased a little for The Subways, the headline act, but the torrential rain hadn’t dissipated meaning the usual moshpit carnage that accompanies Subways gigs was absent.

The lack of crowd participation did nothing to quell the ever excitable Subways frontman Billy Lunn, who still plays with a youthful vigour and abandon that you can’t help but admire, even if sometimes it feels a little clunky.

As ever, the interplay between Lunn and bassist, Charlotte Cooper provides a significant part of the stage patter. Her responses seemed a little forced, and suggested potential tensions at Lunn’s behaviour.

In the end, the soaked and downtrodden audience embraced Lunn’s numerous requests to pogo and created a circle pit. A flurry of hits like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen’, ‘Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang’, and ‘Shake, Shake’ were bounced around to in a fashion.

The Subways have a knack of providing energetic live shows despite a limited back catalogue, but there was a feeling that Lunn’s bandmates were going through the motions, maybe yearning for a band with more substance.

 

 

Written by Jamie Brannon Monday, 04 March 2013 00:00
Features - Reviews
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Joy Formidable – Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall

     Support: Kill It Kid

Meteorologically speaking, March 1st is the commencement of spring. The Friday evening chill contradicts this theory.

Fortunately, the latest offering from EmmaScottPresents is enough to warm the body and the soul.

Kill It Kid are a peculiar, idiosyncratic bunch who combine elements of roots, rock and blues to create intriguing soundscapes that recall a cross between Nirvana’s more reflective moments and The White Stripes.

Siblings Chris Turpin and Stephanie Ward share vocal duties, producing some eccentric interplay to provide a compelling backdrop to the bluesy anthems.

There’s enough character and distinct musical flavour to interest the Joy Formidable fanbase to see them again.

A week earlier, The Joy Formidable were playing a support slot to Bloc Party to respectful applause, but tonight their display elicits far more reverence and energy from a crowd clearly in thrall to the enigmatic bundle of playful rock ‘n’ roll abandon that is frontwoman Ritzy Bryan.

For a three piece, they can make one hell of a cacophonous noise. Their futuristic indie-rock pounds the gloomy confines of the Wulfrun Hall, creating a communal bouncing at the front that feels friendlier than the brutal moshpits that you can encounter.

A turbo-charged barrage of ‘Cholla’, fan favourite, ‘Austere’ and ‘This Ladder is Ours’ set the tempo for the majority of the evening, with the occasional interlude for something lighter and plaintive. I’d like to see this side employed more in future, as despite the visceral thrills of the harder stuff, you get a better idea of Bryan’s vocal capability on the tender tracks.

As the opening to their encore, they dedicate ‘Bats’ to a long-serving fan who is celebrating his 71st birthday. It is touching to know that a septuagenarian is still rocking out, particularly when you hear twentysomethings expressing their gig fatigue.

The Joy Formidable play with boundless energy, Welsh spunk and a ferocious drive that makes you think they’re playing the gig as if it is their last.

By the end, the insane closing track ‘Whirring’ left everyone safe in the knowledge that most of us have got a few decades left in us to rock hard.

Written by Jamie Brannon Sunday, 17 February 2013 19:51
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FEEDER – Wolverhampton Civic Hall

A few years back, Feeder were threatening to elevate themselves into the upper echelons of the rock mainstream.

Like many a guitar band, Feeder have found their commercial stock waning in recent years.

However, there’s still a sizeable turnout at the Civic, many who were introduced to Feeder through their ubiquitous ‘Buck Rogers’, others influenced by the Coldplay-lite sounds of ‘Comfort in Sound and ‘Pushing the Senses’.

Tonight’s setlist encompasses enough of the Feeder back catalogue to satisfy a slightly passive, but appreciative audience. As the band has aged, inevitably the crowd follows suit, giving us less moshing down the front than in the bands earlier years. A point reinforced by the largely muted response to grunge-pop classic ‘Insomnia’.

If anything, it’s the sing-alongs that elicit the largest reaction, starting with the rousing reflection of ‘Feeling the Moment’, the first sign that the gig had shifted into something like top gear. There were equally powerful renditions of ‘Just the Way I’m Feeling’ and ‘Yesterday Went Too Soon’ and ‘High’ that proved to be the set’s benchmark moments.

That said, when Feeder treated us to more riff-heavy offerings such as the aforementioned ‘Buck Rogers’ and cuts from the latest album, ‘Generation Freakshow’ the hardcore fans still were whipped into an energetic frenzy as if it was 2001 again.

It is fan favourite ‘Just a Day’ that instigates the most carnage, pulling many a reluctant mosher into the chaos, as everyone went insane.

Feeder have made a conscious decision to return to their rock roots on the last two albums, which was a pleasing U-turn from the Keane-esque balladry that was becoming omnipresent within their arsenal.

The pretensions of integrating themselves into the rock firmament are probably done with, but the strong connection between band and audience on evidence here, should give Feeder fresh impetus as they plough their feel good-tinged existentialism through their forties. I think they’re gonna make it.

 

 

Written by Sam Borrett (Editor) Saturday, 22 December 2012 10:51
Features - Reviews
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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Almost a masterpiece.

Being one of those that never got to read the hobbit at school, I didn’t exactly know what to expect apart from a young Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) setting off for adventure with a group of dwarves to fight a dragon, reclaim some treasure and have a chance encounter with Gollum (Andy Serkis) and his infamous ring of power. I have to admit after enduring the previous Lord of the Rings trilogy I wasn’t sure I would enjoy watching another epically-long fantasy film, but I can honestly say that my experience far exceeded my expectations. However that is not to say the film is without its flaws.

After a somewhat slow and awkward half an hour of flat acting, the film picks up some real pace, jumping from ever increasing tense chase or fight sequences, which emulated the structure of the Fellowship of the Ring. We  welcome back some familiar faces such as an even more abstract Lady Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), a grey looking Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Saruman the White (Christopher Lee), and revisit some well know locations such as the Shire and Rivendell. The musical score, again brought to you by Howard shore, is as epic, dramatic and as constant as ever. But one of the main things which makes this film stand out is the special effects and the new 48 frames per second high frame rate (HFR), which has been the topic of some debate.

Make no mistake this film looks stunning (especially in 3D); the colours and lighting alone give the film a dreamy enhanced quality and many of the locations seem so vivid you can lose yourself in them. But on the flipside with so much action happening you are left feeling bombarded with sensory overload; an ever-present problem with the franchise. Peter Jackson seems to want to give us everything all at once with little room for reflection and subtlety, but wildly entertaining none the less. In fact the special effects on everything seem to have taken great leaps since LOTR; all of the characters, in particular Gollum and many of the troll characters rival some of the real life actors in both their appearance and acting ability. I couldn’t help but laugh at the Trolls attention to detail, idiosyncrasies and regional accents!

So much of this film emulates more of what we have seen before in the LOTR trilogy but the Hobbit feels much easier to digest with a completely different flavour and theme with a refreshing boost of slapstick comedy to lighten the mood. Perhaps it is because the main theme is not war (yet) unlike the LOTR trilogy. We are not given grand battles on top of battles and rousing tearful speeches on top of rousing tearful speeches. Rather we are offered better choreographed action sequences and more of a focus on eccentricities of the characters (good and bad) in a much lighter tone.  I particularly loved the animal loving Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy) and his racing rabbits. Similarly Gollum and Bilbo’s first encounter was the highlight of the entire film; Gollum looked even more real with quirky facial expressions as well as an even more sinister side than we have seen in previous films. Thankfully Freeman is given chance to shine as Bilbo with these scenes, as for large chunks of the film he seems to fade in the background as an afterthought of the main narrative. Unfortunately this lack of attention to some of the central characters (in particular the 13 dwarfs) is one of the film’s downfalls which is a shame as dwarfs are the main focus here. (Hopefully they will feature more in the next instalment).

Overall a film of this magnitude is bound to be a success with so many qualities to behold (for me it is the set design and costumes).  But I wonder, with three epic war films already under the belt and this first instalment over, is there much more for us to see or experience before we get truly exhausted with middle earth? Not to mention a formula that is tried and tested and now becoming repetitive; I do not think I could bring myself  to watch another series of Troll chases and near misses with a gang of characters who never get into any real depth or danger. Flaws aside I would still urge anyone of any age to go and see this with your 3d glasses at the ready. You cannot help but smile and be whisked away in amazement at what the film has to offer, and quality fantasy films that aren’t aimed solely at children are hard to come by.

Brought to you by Cineworld Nottingham at the Cornerhouse. 

 

 

 

 

 

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