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    Panic at the Disco at the Birmingham Academy 9/3/08

    Birmingham Carling Academy
    Sunday 9th March 2008

    I have no idea what the support bands, Black Gold and Metro Station, sound like as I bumped into an old school friend at the gig and subsequently chatted to him rather than listen to the bands. However I do remember walking in and thinking the band on stage weren’t bad, bit too nu-rave. Yet as they progressed I entirely forgot they were on, even when I was paying attention it wasn’t that noticeable. Like I said bumping into someone you haven’t seen for years will generally negate any real opinion to the opening acts.

    Panic at the Disco sounded technically very accurate and playing a good mix of songs from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and some newer stuff from Pretty Odd. But they played an incredibly short set. For a sold out tour I’d expect more than an hour (encore included), which is what we were served with. Yes they were very good and they played a lot of fan favourites; including Lying Is the Most Fun A Girl Can Have With her Clothes On was a particularly good song, which was dedicated to all the single people in the audience who he would see later. An acoustic version of I Write Sins Not Tragedies was an interesting take on arguably their most popular song – the carnival-esque piano part given over to audience participation.

    The newer stuff was thrown into the set, punctuating the older material nicely. Opening with Nine In The Afternoon, the carnival nature of the first album was shown to make a transition on the new album (Bahktin would be proud) but with a more mature and less Fall Out Boy sound. In fact the newer songs in general seemed to fit in well with the older songs, but seemed more mature, less gimmicky and toned town the over theatrical but still kept the unique Panic sound.

    Overall it was a good gig – they sounded spot on, there was a good mix (though the cover song seemed a little lost) of old and new songs. It was just a shame that it was such a short set, surely there could have been more older songs and they could’ve used the gig to plug Pretty. Odd which is released in a matter of weeks. Heading out on such a large tour it’s possible that this was a preventative measure to ensure an overall quality, but many left feeling short changed.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music

    Jimmy Eat World in Birmingham and Manchester February 2008

    Birmingham Academy – 19th February
    Manchester Academy – 20th Febraury

    If you ever needed an excuse to see the same band more than once on the same tour then Jimmy Eat World’s Birmingham and Manchester gigs would be perfect examples. Both nights highlighted perfectly the layered and complex nature of JEW songs, perfectly illustrating the entangled emotions woven into their songs.

    Perhaps it was the frosty and bitterly cold Tuesday weather which lead to the Birmingham show being more sombre and thoughtful, where the blue hues of the lighting really showed the mood of the show. The band themselves seemed unconcerned with talking in between songs and the audience seemed frozen by the music, allowing the intensity of the songs to wash over them in a contemplatative manner. Songs like Work and 23 really proved their intensity, sounding more powerful in the toned-down mood.

    Whereas the warmer Manchester gig with its reds and more upbeat songs showed the energy that can be found underlying a variety of songs. Even with the technical difficulties at the Manchester show the crowd and the band themselves were more upbeat, more vocal and more overt in their appreciation for the set. Throwing in A Praise Chorus, which was notably absent from the night before really added to the already abundant energy of the crowd. Tonight’s set highlighted the passion in JEW’s songs, which are largely viewed to be less frenetic than current emo bands.

    Both nights ended with the predictable choice of song, The Middle, however it was interesting to see the reactions to it. In Birmingham the more sedate atmosphere and set meant it seemed almost out of place, whereas in the Manchester academy it really finished off the night. I hate to pick favourites, especially when my city loses out, but the Manchester gig really did offer a more rounded version of Jimmy Eat World’s repertoire.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music

    New Found Glory at Leeds Cockpit 7/2/08

    Leeds Cockpit
    7th February 2008

    There’s something almost religious about seeing New Found Glory in such a small venue. The intimate settings of the cockpit contrast heavily with the huge venues NFG are playing as support to Paramore, and the hardcore fan base at the cockpit allows for a near perfect show. The fantastic mix of classic fan favourite songs and current covers from latest album From Screen to Stereo 2, New Found Glory know how to put on a show.

    Support comes from The Conditions and You Me At Six. The epiletic inducing lighting during The Conditions set really detracted from their sound, but it was good to hear their tightly performed pop-rock sound on a proper support slot than on the Paramore shows where they were largely ignored. You Me At Six’s set is dogged by sound difficulties and resort to half covering Rihanna’s Umbrella – something which is becoming overdone in the genre. It’s not that either band are bad, it’s more that for a headline band who are pop-punk perfection, you’d expect the support bands to have a little of the uncontained ecstasy found in New Found Glory songs.

    New Found Glory themselves play a perfect set with almost all fan classics, including a unique request for ‘2’s and 3’s’ from first album Nothing Gold Can Stay; an album which is usually ignored from NFG sets, but proves that the band are willing to please their fans regardless. The band banter on stage like they’re talking to old friends, joking that overweight guitarist Ian Crushinck and his pink towel turban should grace the covers of Men’s Health. The crowd laps up the songs, singing along with favourites like ‘Hit and Miss’ and the interaction with ‘Coming Home’ sounds hymn-like.

    Their enthusiastic brand of unadulterated pop-punk puts New Found Glory at the top of their genre and this small show proves just how good they can be. Each song proves just how good they can be and how strong each album they produce sounds live. The crowd laps up everything on stage. There really are few gigs better than this.

    ~ * ~

    NFG hung round the cockpit afterwards and chatted to fans, which was ace to get to say hi to one of my favourite bands. Also the music at the cockpit was awesome and there was just good song after good song, which is why we ended up leaving so late. Hey, they played Brand New twice, how could it not be good?

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music

    Paramore and New Found Glory at the Birmingham Academy 4/2/08

    Birmingham Carling Academy
    4th February 2008

    If ever there was an example of a band gaining mainstream recognition without the time to build a loyal fan base, then this show was it. Pop-punk veterans New Found Glory grossly overshadowed headliners Paramore, and the crowd knew it.

    Another problem was the amount of bands playing and the lack of time. First band Conditions played as the majority of people entered the venue, to no fault of the crowd. Which meant that for the best part their set was entirely ignored, a shame as their set was good. Kids in Glass Houses received a better reception, possibly because they’ve more exposure here and their song ‘Me Me Me’ received moderate radio play.

    There had also been great confusion over whether the Riot tour was a Paramore tour or a double headliner Paramore / New Found Glory. If this is the case then first headliners New Found Glory certainly stole the show. Clearly having a large proportion of fans in the crowd the atmosphere was electric. A set which ran through some of their classic songs and covers from their new album were an instant hit, including a guest performance from Hayley Williams on ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’.

    Any atmosphere generated by New Found Glory was lost when a large proportion of the crowd went home and those left seemed only to be there only out of curiosity. Hayley Williams and co are certainly energetic on stage, but the atmosphere from the crowd lacked greatly – at times it felt more like watching a live performance on a large television than being there in person. Songs from current album ‘Riot’ were well received, but when Williams informed the crowd they were about to play songs from the first album there was little acknowledgement.

    An odd atmosphere for a tour where the penultimate band on stage held the audiences attention more so than the main performance. Paramore aren’t bad, but that the show illustrated the entire loss of fan connection with a band that become big before they’ve earned their stripes.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music

    Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit at Birmingham Glee Club 30/1/08

    Birmingham Glee Club
    30th January 2008

    Fresh from supporting the likes of Jack Penate and Iron & Wine, Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit are back, this time on a small headlining tour. The rich, old-style folk sounds are often at odds with his youthful good looks, but luckily his voice is a good one and so this is easily overlooked. The well-heeled storytelling and imagery in Flynn’s musical tales are certainly more audibly akin to Iron & Wine than Penate and Flynn’s backing band do a fine job of supporting the tales with fantastic music.

    The short support slot comes from nineteen year-old Londoner Jay Jay Pistolet. A mere four songs long Pistolet seems awkward on stage, blaming this on the coke and Vanilla ice-cream from Whetherspoons, but more likely it’s to be the closeness of the audience. It’s a terrible shame that his set is so short, his voice is deeper than Flynn’s and he sings with the same richness which seems to be coming from the more populist female singers from London. Pistolet’s rich voice fits in well with the simplistic acoustic guitar he plays. His few songs seem to lament over love lost, emphasised on the fantastic song ‘Stuck On Us’. It really would have been nice to have a longer set from Pistolet, but these four songs were a good introduction to his music.

    The hour long set from Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit is also on the short side, but the numerous songs and constant instrument switching makes it feel longer. It is almost possible that Flynn and his band could play any instrument thrown at them, playing anything from a fiddle to a flute. Each of the four core members play at least three instruments throughout the set, leading to a diverse sound all rooted in a traditional folk sound, but moving into Celtic folk with the aid of the fiddle. Flynn’s voice perfectly spins situations and stories, with the addition of his sister on backing vocals adding melancholic layers to the songs.

    However the real problem at this gig is the venue itself. The Glee Club is perfect for comedy, a small intimate venue, which allows comedians to interact with its audience, but for a music venue its intimacy is intimidating – as admitted by Jay Jay Pistolet. You get the feeling that Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit would also have more to say between songs if it weren’t for the fact the audience wasn’t literally stepping over the set to get the bar. The drummer and Flynn do try and banter, but the awkwardness of the setting is obvious. It’s a shame, for a venue that brings rising talent to the second city, it seems to scare them off.

    Excluding the lack of banter and the swiftness of the performances, both Jay Jay Pistolet and Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit show the signs of being great artists, and had the venue been more befitting the gig would be more engaging. Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit support Laura Marling and will be back at the Glee Club in March, hopefully with a little more confidence in the venue.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music

    Stars at the Birmingham Barfly 28/1/08

    Birmingham Barfly
    28th January 2008

    I’ll admit to going to this gig because I vaguely listen to the band more than being a fan, yet Stars are a band worth seeing live. They seem to play a wistful brand of American indie-pop music that is totally at odds with the self-admitting depressing lyrical content.

    It may be the acoustics of the barfly, but first band Destroy Cowboy’s set resembled that of a bunch of fifteen year-olds who were given instruments for Christmas and are determined to make as much noise as possible. They’re probably talented but the selfish playing of every instrument comes off as noise.

    Main support comes from Apostle of Hustle and luckily they make up for the lesser first support. Their sound is far more similar to Stars and more importantly they don’t take themselves too seriously – announcing they’re “from Canadia, you guys have heard of Canadia right?” They seem at home on stage and this is evident with tight-knit songs and banter between songs.

    Stars arrive with the most ornate decoration the Barfly has seen, with 5 lamps and enough flowers to put a florist to shame, which fortunately decorate the industrialised venue. They open with the line “when there’s nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire” from album ‘Do You Trust Your Friends’ which shows the depressing nature of the songs. However the band themselves appear to less depressed than the songs would suggest; bantering with the audience and giving out some of the assortment of flowers. The male lead singer pogo’s round the stage and adds energy to the show that the subdued music leaves behind.

    Stars played a large range of songs from their various albums well, but the audience seemed somewhat lukewarm, which was unsurprising given how cold the venue was. Stars play a brand of American indie-pop which isn’t exactly known for its enthusiasm and despite the cold and the depressing lyrics, the performance itself was fun and the crowd seemed at least somewhat interested, but not entirely compelled.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music

    Dashboard Confessional a the Birmingham Academy 21/1/08

    Birmingham Carling Academy 2
    21st January 2008

    Having the chance to see an acoustic performance of Chris Carrabba’s alias of Dashboard Confessional is a real treat, especially as in recent times Dashboard’s offering have been more electric. Luckily with the turn back to the more stripped down sound on latest album The Shade of Poison Tree, Carrabba has returned to his acoustic sound and the UK.

    Support comes from British band The Tournaments, who recently supported Lucero and played the much smaller Bar Academy here last month. They’re an okay band, but seem lost somewhere in between the harsh British indie and the more melodic American kind. They clearly have some fans here who are clapping along to their nostalgic longing sounding song, but the majority of people are clearly just waiting for Carrabba, who makes an appearance wandering around the crowd.

    Carrabba opens the show with Swiss Army Romance, a song from his first album, which is usually is just Chris and his guitar, but the enthusiastic audience provide almost another instrument in their backing vocals. In fact the whole show becomes a sing-a-long and Carrabba himself comments that this is the best way to hear his songs, they’re better than they ever could be on their own. After ‘Vindication’ the fan interaction prompts Carrabba to admit he fell in love with the audience a bit and pleeds to extend sleep well. There is clear fan interaction and banter with the audience in a manner that shows real connection between the man and his fans.

    Carrabba comments on how loved and how special it is to be able to be on stage, it’s oddly difficult to hear someone gush about his feelings in such a manner outside of his songs – some times it seems almost too over the top to be real, yet there’s the belief that Chris Carrabba really is just this honest. Telling the audience that during ‘she pulled you in she bit your lip’ the song dragged him back into the moment he wrote it. And he even admits that many of the songs are about girls and when someone questions him on the life of a rockstar he questions the audience if they were doing his job would they have a few girls or a lot. It really feels like the audience are treated as friends rather than fans, he even suggests that we should visit his hometown.

    Chris admits he’s going to play “enough songs to make your head spin” and deftly runs through most fan favourites and covers a Counting Crows song ‘Angels of the Silence.’ The audience is informed that he never intended to play this song, but that this guy was his hero and he wanted us to hear it. It’s a fantastic song that fits in so well with Dashboard’s repertoire. We’re also treated to new song ‘Get Me Right’; an interesting song which talks of feeling lost from religion and needing a maker, something which is previously an untouched subject in a sea of songs about women and relationships. However newer album ‘Poison Tree’ has started this diversity, including ‘Golddigger’ which Carrabba sings live and if ‘Get Me Right’ is an indication, the branching out will be found in the next album. Ending the set with ‘Hands Down’ he admits that he has no idea why it is this song has connected with so many people, but he’s glad it has. It really is a perfect way to end a wonderful show.

    Dashboard Confessional’s music has always been heartbreakingly honest and seeing Chris Carrabba sing live with nothing more than his voice and a guitar, he appears to embody this. Occasionally his honestly seems so over the top a cynic would suggest its insincere, but the fans lap it up. He plays all the favourites fantastically well and the sing-a-long element just adds to the atmosphere of the show. Seeing Dashboard Confessional in such an intimate environment really is a treat.