Call me Russ L

“Any of y’all like static? That’s not supposed to be there”

Posted in Music by Russ L on 15 March, 2010

Things that might make you start to dislike a gig before you even get there: it being at The Academy (not as bad as the old version but still not very good etc etc etc), it costing more money than would seem necessary/than you would expect for an artist at this degree of fame and playing at this size of venue (not that I want to sound like an old ‘un failing to understand that things get more expensive over time, but still), the fact that most of the rest of the tour had another artist worth seeing also on the bill but – for whatever reason – this gig didn’t (Dwele)…

I steamed in to the Aca nevertheless on the 4th, to see that official and legitimate soul survivor Angie Stone. Support came in the end from L.I.M.E. – Ladies In Music (and) Entertainment. Various of laydeez (and one gentleman) drifted on and off stage singing (one of them rapping) a song or two each, occasionally two of them at once. Beats were provided by backing tracks, and whilst I’m by no means necessarily opposed to backing tracks it did seem a bit bizarre to have these disembodied tunes floating out for supporting artists in a non-arena venue. I don’t really know why that should make a difference, but it did seem weird. None of the songs particularly grabbed me, anyway, but the one I liked the most would have been the Maria something (didn’t catch the surname) one with the heavy stabs of bass. She also had the best hair. I don’t begrudge them the gig or anything (coming at it from two directions – I would love to see local bands added to the bill at these big gigs more often, and also I realise that urban artists get significantly fewer gig opportunities than generic guitar band #381) but I really would rather have seen Dwele.

The situation with Angie live here turned out to be in some ways similar to my feelings regarding her albums. I absolutely loved the gorgeous 70s- and 80s-influenced neo-soul of “Black Diamond” and “Mahogany Soul”, but have found her more recent albums to have their moments but diminishing returns on the whole, accompanied of course by the occasional stab at something more contemporary that really didn’t suit her. I do still like them, but… well, y’know. The two gigs of hers I saw a few years back were absolutely scorching, too, but this one didn’t even approach being as good.

She was, admittedly, up against it. Bad sound occurred in different ways throughout – a weird echo on her vocals early on, continual background static for a while, and she repeatedly had to tell the soundman that she couldn’t hear herself in the monitors. More trouble came from within – her band reduced the arrangements for more than a few songs into generic schmoov (I don’t recall her backing being like that on the previous couple of times I’ve seen her. I could be misremembering though, obviously).

On the positive side: it’s still lovely to hear her sing songs like “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” (my favourite), “Green Grass Vapours”, “Bone To Pick”, “My Life Story” etc, and she seems like a lovely character even when talking utter nonsense between songs. Not the worst gig I’ve ever been to, although far further away from the best.

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