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Well, that attempt to re-start posting about gigs didn't go very well, did it? Quick catch-up...

I was ambushed by the first Tall Ships album (Everything Touching) last time I went to Banquet Records in Kingston. Banquet is dangerous. Every album has a little flash of white card across a corner explaining why you should buy it. Often very persuasively. I tend to purchase capriciously, and not always successfully. Tall Ships, however, were one of the real success stories.

The first album is basically instrumental rock, although they very occasionally accidentally get some vocals in there. The occasional choir shows up in the mix. I really like it, for all the phrase "instrumental rock" sounds like it would be unutterable wank. Seeing that Tall Ships were touring - and playing at the lovely, nearby Bush Hall - in support of their new album made me leap on both tickets and a copy of the new album.

I then mostly failed to listen to the new album much. I've always done a lot of my music-listening at work, and this being a manager of four lark is really denting my ability to stick my headphones on and ignore the rest of the world. First impressions, though, were that it was a lot more standard-rock than the first one. Good stuff, but without the range or the euphoric swoop.

Live, they were way better than expected. I didn't know anything about them personally, but somehow expected something portentous-looking, not four scruffy blokes who look like they live in Brighton (they do live in Brighton). Their set errs towards more stompy, sing-a-long tracks rather than the vast dynamic soundscapes I originally fell in love with, but do you know what? they're pretty good at those too.

If only I hadn't been coming down with an utterly revolting cold, feeling off-it enough that I actually sat on the floor for a good portion of the gig, it would have been a great evening.

Try it (the music, not the cold): Petrichor (lead single from new album) or Best Ever (from the first album).


Frank Turner announced way back that he was going to be doing four nights at the Camden Roundhouse, and we thought oh yes, that would be a good idea. Without a clear idea of how the four sets were going to differ, we dithered a bit, and then some nights sold out, and we ended up with Monday tickets. Monday was billed as a full-band "greatest hits" set.

It was also slightly pretending to be a festivalette, with bands playing in the bar between sets on the main stage. I enjoyed listening to Non Canon, a one-man-and-guitar outfit who sang entertainingly rambly songs.

I was having knee-based issues (still not back to normal... must post about that some time, too) so elected sit on the floor in the main room, back against the wall, while listening to Will Varley. He's exactly the kind of one-man-and-guitar you might expect to support Frank Turner. Kind of folky, kind of political.

Try it: We Don't Believe You

Top support was Skinny Lister, who are basically a sort of English Dropkick Murphys. There's six of them, and they pretty much all sing, in between hammering shite out of double bass, melodeon, and various guitars. Also kind of folky, kind of political, but also prone to dropping the occasional shanty (the whole of the Roundhouse singing John Kanacker-nacker was a bit of a surprise) (also I have never previously tried to spell Kanacker-nacker, and have no idea how one goes about it).

I enjoyed Skinny Lister, who were fun and bouncy and noisy, but I wasn't quite as won over as you might expect. I'm not going to say that they aren't good musicians, but they just somehow seem to be... playing down. Go for the rhythm and stuff everything else.

Try it: Trouble on Oxford Street

I had bestirred myself to stand up to watch Skinny Lister, but am still very dodgy in gigging crowds at present, so stayed back (behind the pillars, if you know the Roundhouse) which feels a bit... all the way over there. Due to there being a poor view from behind each pillar, there was a big gap next to me, which a couple of girls elected to come and dance exuberantly in.

They weren't really a problem - but they weren't obeying Frank Turner's stated Rule 1 of gigs: Be considerate. Look out for the people around you. Make sure they're having a nice time.[*] So one of them jumped obliviously on my ankle, and shortly after clattered into ChrisC as well. Next thing I knew, someone in khaki was falling over next to me... oh, wait, no, not falling over. Being bent over backwards because one of the girls had grabbed her by the hair and was refusing to let go. Err... no?

ChrisC and a couple of others muscled in, and split them up, and after a certain amount of angry shoving and glaring the aggressive one was towed off by her friend. Khaki lady had, apparently, asked them to take more care of who they were barging into. So that left a bit of an odd feeling to the beginning of the gig, and it took me a while to settle back into it.

(The space was eventually filled again by an incredibly happy bloke who was possibly the most exuberant dancer ever, probably taking up more space than the two girls had between them, and spilling beer everywhere. And you know what? No one minded because he was just exuberant not massively thoughtless.)

Other than that it was a good gig. Frank Turner has a whole bunch of storming songs, and I like the way he front-loads his sets with big singalongs (and then, fortunately, has enough for a bunch of big singalongs at the end, too). It did feature a few strange bits of tween-song rambling, like the anecdote which likened Will Varley to E.T (I wondered how many of the audience were actually too young to work out what he was going on about...), and a couple of quieter solo numbers like Journey of the Magi.

Mind you: he claims that their new album is going to be "completely different". I don't wish to prevent an artist from growing... but, you know, I kind of liked the last six :-)

You don't need to try Frank Turner, do you? Well, have a link to Not Dead Yet, because I really like the video.

[*] There is also a Rule 2, which is Join the fuck in.
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