Saturday, 28 February 2009

top banana: amadou and maraim; heroes; wave machines; post war years; james yuill; rafa

Most of the time it’s pretty rubbish being unemployed. Days merge into one, you never have any money to do anything, you spend most days looking for jobs that you can actually do, then when you do actually find a job you want to apply for, you send off your CV and never hear anything back. But on days like Wednesday its bloody great being unemployed. At 12 I met an old friend from uni and we headed down to Pure Groove to see Amadou and Mariam. Having only recently discovered the Malian duo I was very excited about getting the chance to see them.

They came onto stage to a rousing reception but I have to say during the first song I was starting to doubt them. They didn’t have any backing band and I just thought it sounded a bit weak with just him on guitar. However as their set went on they just kept getting better. Amadou’s guitar playing was pretty special as well, whacking out these really rhythmical, entrancing solos. They both had good voices but Amadou was definitely the star of the show. He's just a dude and he always had the biggest grin on his face when he was playing his solos.

So gig number one was a success. After returning home for a few hours and watching the new episodes of Heroes (maybe the best one since the Company Man episode) I headed out again to the Lexington for the Chess Club singles tour with my favourites Wave Machines, Post War Years and James Yuill. Since the moment I found out Wave Machines and Post War Years were playing on the same bill I’ve been very excited. I can’t see how these two bands aren’t going to destroy this year, and if they don’t, I really will have lost all faith in the human race.

Wave Machines were first on and they were as good as I knew they would be. The singles were both massive. Keep The Light On was even sexier and more menacing live. For their penultimate tune Carl took front man responsibilities for a song that I hadn’t heard before but it was an absolute belter. They ended their set with soon-huge-mega-anthem Punk Spirit. I really can’t stress enough how fantastic Wave Machines are. They just write great pop songs but with being twee or any of that rubbish. They just write fucking cool, super catchy songs. The only downer on the evening was that they announced their album wasn’t out until the May, and I’m really not sure if I can wait that long.

So after the sublime Wave Machines, it was Post War Years time. I’ve seen them five or six times and always really enjoyed them. Along with Wave Machines and Mumford and Sons (and maybe We Have Band), they’re definitely one of my favourite new bands. But I have to say before I think I was leaning slightly towards Wave Machines. But I was not expecting what came next. Thirty minutes of one the most mind blowing sets I’ve probably ever seen, especially from a band who haven’t even released their debut album yet.

I was just entranced. I’ve heard most of the songs they played before but they’ve obviously been working on them. I can’t really find the words to do their set justice. At the heart of their sound are the drums and Fred’s a great drummer. I love watching drummers who just hit the drums fucking hard, giving it all with just a massive grin on their face. Matt Barrick from The Walkmen is a prime example of this, and Fred has joined this list for me. Their songs don’t have the immediate accessibility to them as Wave Machines but in the midst of the hectic drumming, whirling synths, huge bass lines are these great songs. If this was the Champions League Final, then I think Post War Years would have beaten Wave Machines on penalties. But it would have been a great game' end to end stuff, long range pile drivers, diving headers, silky skills, over head kicks, the lot.

Following on from them was James Yuill. I’m still in two minds about James Yuill. I like his music but sometimes I feel like his vocals aren’t quite strong enough, they’re nice but just don’t grab you by the balls. And I like being grabbed by the balls. In fairness he did have a huge act to follow after both Wave Machines and Post War Years. But nonetheless I still enjoyed his set. You can tell he’s a nice guy, got a good sense of humour and his mixture of folk and electronica works well and he’s got some good songs. They just maybe should have swapped the line up around. But all in all, I haven’t been to a gig as good as that in a long time.

To wrap the day up I returned home having managed to not hear the Liverpool score and watch them beat real Madrid on Sky Plus. Days don’t get much better than that. Top banana. Top Banana.

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