Call me Russ L

Second gig of the new year

Posted in Music by Russ L on 19 January, 2006

Last time I wrote about Carina Round I spoke of the considerable changes that she seems to have undergone as an artist in the time she’s been away. I was probably trying a bit too hard to be positive, really – if I’m honest I’ll admit I had some degree of apprehension about her new major-label friendly direction. I’m not suggesting that I disliked it or that anything I said last time was untrue, but I did have some concerns that I didn’t really voice. That this new Carina wasn’t ‘my’ Carina anymore doesn’t really matter, but the fact that the new music was a lot less unique special-sounding probably does.

I think I’m going too far the other way now. It’s hard for me to strike the right balance when talking about someone who’s music has meant so very much to me these past few years. This is a massive simplification, but imagine your favourite artiste ever descending to the level of just ‘very good.’ No matter how much you enjoyed the new stuff and no matter what levels of love and interest you still held – you’d be perturbed, wouldn’t you? I could barely wait till her next gig to see if these thoughts persisted.

Spin on 29 days…

I met up at The Flapper with my old homemelonballer Matt Pratt. When we first went down to the gig room we were told that the soundchecks were still underway. Irritatingly, we then spent too long back upstairs and missed half of Dan Whitehouse’s set. Bah.

That’s especially a shame as this previously-unknown-to-me chap was very good indeed. Just your ordinary guitar (electric on some, acoustic on others) brandishing singer-songwriter in some ways, but with a powerful voice, some interesting-sounding songs (the one where he sang something along the lines of “what right have I to tell this boy not to cry?” was lovely), and he actually seemed to mean it. I’ve since found out that he doesn’t usually perform on his own and he fronts a band called Parade, who I’m now very eager to check out (Edit: Actually, I think might be a different Dan Whitehouse. Never mind…).

Murdoch were the main support, and even having seen them three times now (each time supporting Carina, funnily enough) I still can’t see anything in them. They play really ordinary sounding indie-pop-rock: a little bit Ash here, a little bit Strokes there, and more than a little bit dull all round.

As the room filled up to its customary Carina-gig-at-The-Flapper density, the apprehension began to set in. What would Carina bring this time? The set was even more new-stuff-centric than in Wolves – ‘Elegy’ was the only old song to be heard. Fittingly, perhaps, this performance of it was possibly the best I’ve seen and it certainly made for the highlight of the night – it came across as a lot more expansive-sounding than usual, almost edging into psychedelic territory.

Her bearing on stage has definitely changed. She’s been much more confident up there than she used to be for a good while now, but this has usually (even as recently as last month) been sort of underlaid by her customary nerves. It’s always been very endearing. If they were there at this gig, they weren’t shown. She’s in charge now. The quite forced-seeming onstage attempts to be sexy seen at the last gig were gone though, fortunately. That’s probably a good thing. It’s not like the girl needs to try, anyway…

The new tunes, then: all good, but as I said last time they’re much closer to straightforward rock songs than anything she’s ever done before. Very good rock songs, but it still feels like a crying shame. Never mind, though, nothing stays static. The two that especially stood out last time did so again – ‘Ready To Confess’ is one hell of an adrenaline rush, and ‘Down Slow’ is slinky, sexy fun. ‘Want More’ also really proved its mettle on this occasion, with another stonker of a chorus.

It seems safe to say that we have an all new Carina, then, and while not quite as amazing as the older model she’s still bloody good. You can’t blame an artist for changing if they feel that’s what they need to do. You don’t have to like it, of course, but thankfully we’re still a huge distance away from having to dislike anything to do with Miss Round.

~ Russ L

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