Call me Russ L

And Verily I Shall Ramble II: The Waffling

Posted in Combat Sports, Music by Russ L on 21 May, 2008

And so it continues. More somewhat brief descriptions of Stuff Wot I Dun.

The ‘English Originals’ folk festival began on Friday the 25th of April, but (as previously chronicled) I was down the road at the time, to see Björk. As such I missed Billy Bragg, which was a shame (it sounds like it was a fantastic gig) but then again I have seen him three times before and if all remains well I’m sure I’ll get plenty of chances to see him again.

Sharon Kraus started larks off at The Town Hall on the Saturday night, doing an unhappy-Vashti style of folk with odd lyrics. And she was… OK-ish. She seemed to make a distinction between some of her songs being miserable & some being jollier, but I couldn’t really hear how the ones she seemed to think were the latter differed from any of the rest.

Tunng, as I’ve said at least four squintillion times before, are one of my favourite bands knocking around at the moment. This (the fifth time I’ve seen them) saw them employing new and different arrangements for quite a few of their wonderful (electro-folk, space-folk, oddball folk, all my usual descriptors) songs. I (criminally) can’t remember which song it was added to, but the tribal percussion jam ending that involving knocking plastic tubes off their legs was particularly fantastic. Their rocky one that I first heard at Supersonic last year seemed ace this time around, too. No ‘Beautiful And Light’, alas, but I think they were pushed for time. Band of the night, and during most months they would’ve been band of the month (blame the previous night’s Björk set for that).

Although saying it will mean I risk the wrath of Lady Baron, this gig really struck home to me the fact that Seth Lakeman looks about twelve years old. Just sayin’. I enjoyed his set, but not as much as I did at Moseley Folk the year before last – the pop-folk-rock stuff with the band seemed to veer a tiny touch into bland at times. Only a tiny bit. The best parts by far (Kitty Jay & Lady Of the Sea) were when it’s just him and his fiddle. His fiddle-playing just shimmers.

(If you weren’t there, click Hear for Aid. That didn’t really work as a pun, did it? Oh well).

My folkin’ Sunday began with Little Sister’s free set in the Symphony Hall foyer. They were really, really enjoyable, making use of the folk styles of a few different countries, lots of different instruments, and some almost doo-wop-ish close harmony singing to play a mix of standards and their own songs. There was a huge sense of infectious fun about them, and I’d definitely like to see them again at some point.

A quick pint in the Paradise Forum Wetherspoons (The Prince Of Wales was packed far too full) later, and it was time to head into the Town Hall for the Daughters Of Albion. Not a regular band as such, Daughters Of Albion consist of various female folk stalwarts (Kathryn Williams, Norma Waterson, June Tabor, Lisa Knapp, Bishi, and Lou Rhodes) singing different songs at different times, backed by a band which included the likes of Martin Carthy and Neill MacColl.

It was of mixed quality, but good overall. Bishi may have looked fabulous but she simply didn’t have anywhere near the depth of voice she needed not to sound a bit feeble next to the rest, and while Tabor is renowned as a great interpreter of songs I really wasn’t feeling it (even putting aside the one song she did with that “to be considered true and righteous, a thing must obtain energy from chlorophyll” lyrical style that you fear when an event bills itself as ‘English folk’). She has (what we might politely call) A Very Particular Manner about herself, too. Apparently she doesn’t like singing at the same time as other people. The other three were great, of course, and the obviously nervous Kathryn made for an endearing compere. There were highlights a-plenty alongside the embarrassing bits, including a (surprisingly intense) version of P.J. Harvey’s “Down By The Water” led by Lou Rhodes, Williams doing “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, Lisa Knapp’s own “There U R” (sic), and… quite a few more, but I don’t remember. It was over three weeks ago. Definitely some of the Norma Waterson stuff, but I forget what.

(Evidently some people had stronger thoughts about the poorer bits).

Wednesday the 30th saw me heading to The Civic in Wolves for the boxing, accompanied by my main bredrinman Diz Keniz. Fight of the night (or such of it as I saw, anyway – I missed the Scott Evans bout and the latter half of Rob Hunt’s due to the ever-pressing need to catch the last bus in order to actually get home) was definitely the wild affair between Wolverhampton’s own Lyndsey Scragg and Ukrainian Victoria Oleynik. The normally smooth-boxing Lyndsey had to learn and learn fast about how to deal with having a rough brawl forced upon her by the very scrappy Victoria. This was the first time I’d seen Lyndsey in any sort of trouble at all, but she came through it narrowly. My main reason beforehand for wanting to go to this had been to see the headline fight Dean Harrison vs Gary Reid. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Harrison’s insistence on only fighting quality opposition makes me very happy indeed. I’d actually got this eight-rounder tied at 76-76 at the end, but the ref saw things differently and awarded it to Deano (78-76). His plan of going in close against renowned body puncher Reid and hardly jabbing was certainly playing with fire, but grit saw him through (although he absorbed some nasty-looking punishment at times). It’s onwards and upwards for the Black Country’s Deano and that’s as it should be, but I do feel sorry for Reid as another red mark is added to his loss column (the man makes for a perfect example of the old “he’s better than his record” cliché).

Those two were the standouts, but I was quite happy with the card overall. Most of the fights were (as ever) foregone conclusions in terms of results, but they all seemed surprisingly competitive on a minute-for-minute basis. I’d still rather see someone wave a magic wand that would reform boxing as a whole and leave us with matches where the outcomes aren’t definite, but failing that then this sort of thing will do.

(Dod Ken’s account can be read here, while Tom Podmore’s BBN report is here. EDIT: There’s a Birmingham Mail report as well).

I’m getting fed up of writing this now, but I really could do with ploughing on. I’ll never be up to date otherwise.

Carina Round at The Barfly on Sunday the 4th of May, backed by her band for the first time in what seems like forever. You all know by now that I like a bit of ‘Rina. Adrienne Pierce and Ari Shine supported, but neither offered much of anything in particular. Carina herself seemed to be in a bit of a good-time partying mood for this one, and so in such a fashion the gig proceeded. We got “Lacuna” (first time I’ve heard that live for an age), “Monument”, “Take The Money” (this was particularly fun, I recall), “Come To You” (I may be softening on this slightly. I’m prepared to acknowledge that I like the beginning of it), “Downslow”, “Into My Blood”, and probably loads more old faves. I can’t remember. The new but by now familiar ‘Backseat’ and ‘Thief In The Sky’ (this with the added bonus of the band looking very uncomfortable and embarrassed while standing in line and providing backing vox) got airings, as did the new but less familiar ‘Do You’ (the clawing-of-eyes-mentioning one she played at Woom a couple of weeks prior) and ‘Everything A Reason’ (which seems to have a bit of earlier-Carina style intensity about it). Both of those were primarily acoustic with the band only adding a bit of texture, and so from this we can have a fair ol’ guess at the direction that the next album will take.

There’s little more unpleasant than the heat of a sold-out Academy (just think – that temperature is coming from inside people. I shudder), but that was where I found myself on the 5th for Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. I’m sad to report that this was by far the least of the three times I’ve seen Nick Cave. This was mostly a fault of far-from-ideal sound (when ‘Tupelo’ of all things is made to sound dynamically flat then you know you have a problem) but Cave and Co really didn’t help things by (seemingly) deliberately going for a rough ‘n’ ready, garage-y sort of approach. This stung the most during the more reflective and romantic songs – “Straight To You”, “Into My Arms” and “The Ship Song” all really suffered.

They weren’t anywhere near outright bad, of course, and are never likely to be. “Papa Won’t Leave You Henry” achieved a magnificent state of ragged glory (possibly actually aided by the factors that humbled other parts of the set), while “Red Right Hand” and its Morricone come noir come fire ambience cut through everything. Cave alternated between ‘avuncular’, ‘caustically sarcastic’ and ‘possessed’ in that endearing way that he always does, and led the assembled massive in a hugely fun singalong during “Lyre Of Orpheus”. Of the new stuff, “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!” and particularly “We Call Upon The Author To Explain” sounded fantastic.

Great stuff overall, but not quite as great as one might have expected. I know, I know, moon on a stick and so forth. I think I’ve earned the right to be a bit self-indulgent about this night, though – I managed to avoid making the obvious joke to an annoying pissed woman standing near me who spent all evening shouting for “Thirsty Dog”. This feat of goodwill should surely not go unrewarded by The Rest Of The Universe.

(Many, many, many others have written about this gig. Opinions vary).

Carina again? Go on then, why not. To The Little Civic on the 7th, for a more typical gig than the funtime partytime at The Barfly. Lots of people talking during the quieter songs at this one, though, which was as annoying as it always is. There’s a setlist in this messageboard thread – broadly the same as the previous gig, with an added “How I See It” and an encore of “Let It Fall” (devastating as ever, but with an ending I either didn’t know or drunkenly failed to recognise). “Monument” sounded absolutely stonking here, and happily there’s a video.

Right, that’s it, had enough. I hereby declare this post finished. I’m neeearly up to date now anyway.


11 Responses

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  1. Lady B said, on 22 May, 2008 at 8:18 am

    Feel the wrath… Seth does not look like a 12 year old! Glad you enjoyed it though – are you going to Moseley Folk this year?

  2. Russ L said, on 22 May, 2008 at 9:27 am

    A 12 year old on ‘roids, perhaps. He must have some nasty back acne.

    I’ll only be going to the Sunday of Mizolk Fizolk this year (which I believe is actually the Seth day), due to already-purchased tickets to go and see R.E.M. at Twickenham. I’m currently trying to figure out what I can sabotage that’ll lead to them moving The Destroyers to then.

    Your good selves? Are you both going to the whole thing?

  3. Russ L said, on 22 May, 2008 at 10:35 am

    I most certainly am. It’s my favourite annual event. Battles, Efterklang, Dalek, Noxagt, PCM, Cutting Pink With Knives, Rolo Tomassi, Alexander Tucker, Beestung Lips, The Courtesy Group, Einstellung… hee hee! It’s going to be ace.

  4. Lady B said, on 22 May, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I’m so looking forward to the whole weekend – the Bees (from good old Isle iof Wight where I’m from) and the boy fiddler – couldn’t be any better.

    I was so excited when I heard the line-up that I asked the Baron to buy the tickets as soon as poss and we’ve got tickets no 1 & no 2. Can’t wait!

    Look out for me at the front on the Sunday with all the other screaming women.

  5. Russ L said, on 22 May, 2008 at 10:03 am

    I can smell the oestrogen already…

    1 & 2! That’s ace.

  6. Lady B said, on 22 May, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Are you going to Soup N Sonic? It looks more like the Baron’s cup of tea than mine but if the weather’s good and I can have a few pints it should be fun

  7. Lady B said, on 22 May, 2008 at 10:58 am

    Hopefully see you there – I’ll buy you a pint! Take care.

  8. Ben said, on 22 May, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    Look, Russ, just be grateful you got to see Sir Nicholas of Caveshire at all – some of us weren’t so lucky…

    One of my friends from work went to see him in London and said much the same about the general approach – that everything was filtered through the sound of the latest album, meaning that the beauty and deft touches of stuff from The Lyre Of Orpheus were obliterated. Personally that sounds like something I’d like to hear, but I might see it the same way as you in reality.

  9. Russ L said, on 23 May, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Well, yes – put like that it sounds interesting. Didn’t really work, though.

    Hey, Ben! Are you Supersonic-ing this year too?

  10. Ben said, on 26 May, 2008 at 11:39 am

    ‘Fraid not. We’re off to a wedding in Slovenia in mid-July, and as we’re taking the opportunity to take a leisurely week-long jaunt across Europe both Supersonic and Latitude have been ruled out.

    What’s worse is that their UK wedding reception is taking place the same weekend as Green Man, which I loved last year. Grrrr. Still, I’ve got a Glasto ticket and it’s going to be dry this year, so it’s not all bad.

    Anyway, enjoy the festival – good-looking line-up again this year.

  11. Russ L said, on 26 May, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Lovely stuff. Make sure you have the most fantastic of times.


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