Yorkshire Evening Post, Thursday, March 10, 2011
Folk with real energy gig review LAU with Karine Polwart February 25 @ Howard Assembly Room This was a fantastically energetic gig from UK folk luminaries LAU – preceded by a fine set of songs from Karine Polwart, who later joined the LAU boys for a number of songs from their new EP Evergreen recorded in February of last year. After a number of dates in Holland, LAU have kicked off their latest tour of the UK, making a stop in Leeds for a sell-out gig at the beautiful Howard Assembly Room. Coming from the north of England originally himself, accordionist Martin Green was doing most of the chatting throughout, keeping everyone entertained during the extended periods of tuning that seemed to go on during the set – the reason for this given by Orkney-born guitarist Kris Drever as being ‘because we care’. Playing a mix of tunes from their two studio albums Lightweights and Gentlemen and Arc Light plus some new songs and tunes the band was on fine form. Fiddle player Aidan O’Rourke was blazing through the set – always tasteful and aware of what Green and Drever doing. A refreshingly original sound and strong voice on the Scottish and English folk scene, LAU are without a doubt one of the finest bands around. Not to be missed.
How the Scritti Politti story started in Leeds
REEN Gartside has fond memories of Leeds and the part the city played in kick-starting his musical career. The Scritti Politti singer was studying fine art at Leeds Polytechnic when, in the mid 1970s, the Sex Pistols’ groundbreaking Anarchy in the UK tour rolled into town. “One night, I think it was in December 1976, the Pistols, The Clash, The Damned and The Heartbreakers came to Leeds Poly and blew the minds of just about everybody there,” he recollects. “It wasn’t rammed by any stretch of the imagination – there were a couple of hundred people there, maybe – but you had the sense that everybody there that night left feeling that they should form a band or they wanted to be part of something.” Watching the leading lights of punk inspired Green to form his own band with fellow art student Tom Morley and
Tait comes out on top JAMES Tait, of Harrogate, was the winner of Audio Lounge, a contest for unsigned singersongwriters organised by students from Leeds Metropolitan University. The 19-year-old, pictured right, who is currently based in Sheffield, won a day’s recording at Soundworks Studio in Leeds. The prize was donated by Will Jackson, the studio’s owner, who was also one of the judges of the event, which took place at The Rock Bar, on Call Lane, on Monday. Other contestants included Youcef Preston, Gary Stewart, Ben Emmett and Dan Cope. Said Sorcha Mone, one of the events management undergraduates behind the competition: “To support the evening, and Barnardos, some great raffle prizes were generously given by Aqua Preena in Leeds, John Lewis and The Rock Bar. The wonderful evening raised a total of £318 for Barnardos which will help support the 415 vital projects they run across the UK, including counselling for children who have been abused, fostering and adoption services, vocational training and disability inclusion groups. “Thank you to everyone who made it such a great night.”
Elbow’s downbeat delight Elbow Build A Rocket Boys! HHHHI Elbow have been many things in their 20 years as a working band: from Mercury nominated to criminally underrated, from critically adored to commercially ignored. Yet 2008’s The Seldom Seen
Nial Jinks, his school friend from South Wales who was also studying in Leeds. As he recalls, the city’s music scene then, as now, was vibrant. “Between the Poly and the Uni there were wonderful gigs to go to every week. I saw so many great bands there. “Particular favourites I can remember were Bob Marley and The Wailers and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band – that was fantastic. “I promoted some gigs myself at various venues. I put on a band called Henry Cow, who I was very enamoured with at the time. “I was also very interested in traditional music. I was very much in love with Martin Carthy and the Watersons. “There were these two old guy lecturers at the university who taught morris dancing. I got morris dancing lessons from them. It was a pretty bizarre sight to see these two old men capering round the room with us.” He also frequented a Leeds record store whose owner had a generous trybefore-you-buy policy. “He would lend you records. If you liked them you could pay him when you next went
Jesus Is A Rochdale Girl, meanwhile, is simply a beauty.
Kid ushered them into new ground: big-selling, magazine-fronting, arena-packing superstars. B.A.R.B! sees them dealing with those expectations and, largely, ignoring them. Open Arms may mine the same seam of surging orchestral pop as One Day Like This but otherwise there are no attempts to ape their previous album. Instead this is a downbeat set, built around Guy Garvey’s disarming, bittersweet vocals and some deliberately understated instrumentation.
CORNERSHOP FEATURING BUBBLEY KAUR Cornershop and the Double ‘O’ Groove HHHII Leicester band Cornershop hit the jackpot in 1998 when they topped the UK singles charts with Brimful of Asha, a Fatboy Slim-assisted homage to Bollywood singer Asha Bhosle. Since then they seem to have been living down their success. Judy Sucks a Lemon For Breakfast,
in. One of the records he lent me was a Miles Davis album called Get Up With It. I remember him saying, ‘Take this away, I think you will like it’. It was the first Miles Davis album that I owned.” There was, says Green, “great generosity of spirit and tons of great bands in Leeds. At the time were there was Gang of Four and the Mekons.” It was on the advice of three girls who were a year ahead of them at college that the members of Scritti Politti headed for London in 1978, hoping to live rent-free. “They found this street in Camden that was all squats,” Green remembers. “The house adjoining theirs was not squatted. We knocked on the door and the old lady and said, ‘Please don’t be alarmed but it’s our intention to squat your house when the council rehouse you’. When that happened we leapt over the back wall from the cemetery at the back.” Having been an active member of the Young Communist League in Leeds, Green was keen to run the band on egalitarian lines. Old friends and associates were welcomed in Camden, along with “like-minded people that we met in London”. “We were part of an attempt at communal living,” he reflects. “There was an awful lot of discussion about politics and philosophy and theory that informed what the band did.” Their early records, such as Skank Bloc Bologna, were “free-form” DIY affairs, “getting away from the hierarchical structures of pop music”; Green, though, “rapidly thought that was a dead end”. Reading Continental philosophy – the work of Jacques Derrida, the French father of deconstruction, was a particular favourite – made him “re-evaluate pop music”. By 1979, he concluded, “indie was boringly, if not to say dangerously, conservative”. Out went a “squawky racket”, in came an unapologetic fondness for pop and lovers’ rock “which is very melodic reggae – that inspired me to write The ‘Sweetest Girl’”. Scritti’s debut album, Songs
their last album, limped to No.145 while Clinton, singer Tjinder Singh and guitarist Ben Ayres’ discoinspired side project, failed to make any impression at all. Here they join forces with female singer Bubbley Kaur for a foray into indie, funk and bhangra that’s toptappingly good fun. Chart action, however, may prove elusive.
DUSTIN O’HALLORAN LUMIERE HHHHI Dustin O’Halloran is a ‘contemporary classicist’, beavering away in the grey area between the
MEMORIES: Scritti Politti’s Green Gartside To Remember, was a top 20 hit in 1982 but greater success was to follow three years later with a move to New York and a new band line-up. Cupid and Psyche 85 was a worldwide hit, along with the singles Wood Beez, Absolute and The Word ‘Girl’. The records mixed high-production pop with funk, soul, hip-hop, reggae and a dash of intellectualism. Being a fully fledged pop star, however, was “ghastly”. “It’s very strange that so many people now want to be famous,” Green says. “It’s almost a national malaise. My personal experience of having any degree of public attention sat ill with me. I thought it was unhealthy, vulgar. I guess I should have known I would not have liked it. It made me feel very unhappy.” He made one more album, Provision, in the America, with guest slots from jazz legend Miles Davis and R&B star Roger Troutman, before he began to feel himself “unravelling”. After being hospitalised with a breakdown, he retreated from the mainstream. Since 1988 he has released just two albums of new material, the hip-hop inspired Anomie and Bonhomie, which sank without trace in 1999, and
cerebral and often elitist world of classical music and the accessible and melodic world of pop. Having previously released two albums of solo piano works, his debut for the pioneering 130701 offshoot of the FatCat label – home to like-minded individuals like Max Richter and Hauschka – is a series of lovingly crafted instrumental miniatures. From the gorgeous twinkly ambience and teary-eyed melancholy of A Great Divide to the stirring beuaty of Fragile N.4, Lumiere is a mellow, evocative treat.
NORMAN PALM SHORE TO SHORE HHHII Berliner Norman Palm
the rather more warmly received White Bread, Black Beer, which was nominated for the 2007 Mercury Prize. Green has no regrets that he hasn’t been more prolific. “I do nothing but consider my very good fortune,” he says. “I had just about enough money made in the 80s. I did not want anything to do with music. I lived a solitary life in Wales for many years – I could afford to do that.” Now, however, he is making a tentative return to the world of pop. This week sees the release of Absolute, his first career retrospective. “I hate looking back,” he admits. “I never listen to that stuff. I kind of said let’s not do too much promotion.” Later this year a new album will follow on Rough Trade, the label that released Songs To Remember three decades ago. “I’ve got nearly 200 unfinished songs,” Green reveals. “I realise I’ve got to finish this up now.” Having conquered stage fright five years ago, a tour is also on the cards. “I’m very keen to do that,” he says. “We’ve been talking about that recently.”
l Absolute is out now on Virgin Records
duncan seaman – his real name, his website is at pains to point out – is an art school graduate who once ran his own design studio. Songs, his first album, was self-released with a 200-page book on his visual work. Its follow-up, recorded with Finnish pal Janne Lounatvuori, now gets a European release, thanks to the German label City Slang. It’s a mellow affair that mingles Romeo Stodart-style vocals with acoustic guitar and electronica. If you’ve ever wondered what the Magic Numbers or Martin Stephenson and the Daintees might sound like with synths, this might give you the answer.
Yorkshire Evening Post review on Lumiere - Dustin O'Halloran