Archive for March, 2010

The xx at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

March 3rd, 2010

The xx

Okay who doesn’t know about The xx yet? If you don’t already, you really ought to. Hailing from Wandsworth, London this three piece band (previously four prior to keyboardist / guitarist Baria Qureshi leaving the band late last year) have literally burst onto to the music scene in a very short space of time.

Their debut album ‘xx’ at #1 in Rough Trade’s top albums of 2009, #2 in NME’s top albums of 2009 and they have been widely tipped for success throughout the industry, it’s well deserved too in my opinion.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to the album beginning to end since picking up a copy (and bonus mix CD) at the beginning of the year. Packed full of deep, intense bass from Oliver Sim, highlighted with the distinctive sound of Romy Madley Croft’s Gibson Les Paul and interwoven with drums and keyboards from Jamie Smith, the band produce an eerie otherworldly sound that makes for really good listening.

I wasn’t really sure how this album would translate in a live show, I’d heard rumours that we were due an amazing show, and that it’d just be a little calmer than the usual rib bruising affairs.

The stage had been completely obscured with a sheet so we had no sneak peak of what was to come, when the house lights went down we were presented with the trademark solid X of the band’s logo before the drums started to kick in and Oliver and Romy were silhouetted on the sheet by the roaming stage lights.

The xx

The xx really did not disappoint. The set had a lot heavier presence of drums and ear pounding bass not seen in their recorded material, which gave the crowd something to bounce along to (or go a little bit mental in the case of the guy stood to my right!).

Though mostly sticking to tracks from their debut album, they also threw in a cleverly put together cover of  Womack and Womack – ‘Teardrops’.

They put on a fantastic light show that punctuated every heavy beat, and finished off their set by dumping an insane amount of black and silver confetti onto the audience.

To quote my friend James (who captured this sneaky little video), for a band that spends a lot of time standing still they certainly rocked everyone else out.

Both Oliver and Romy are so humble, barely saying a word through the gig other than apologising for their lack of banter, quietly thanking the audience for their applause and finally saying what a shock it’s been for them.

Six months ago they were at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire opening for Florence and the Machine, and now here they are headlining the famous venue two nights in a row. Long may their success continue, I for one am really keen to see what direction they’ll take when they get around to recording some new material.

Also worth a mention were These New Puritans who opened for The xx. I can’t say that I’d really heard of them before yesterday despite them being tipped as one of the upcoming bands of 2010.

I was quite surprised to see a warm up act rock up with their own brass section, and though most of what These New Puritans brought to the stage was good, it was all let down by the fact that we simply couldn’t hear a word that the lead singer was putting out no matter how passionately he seemed to be going at it on stage.

Hot Hot Heat at The Scala

March 2nd, 2010

Hot Hot Heat @ The Scala

Does anyone remember Hot Hot Heat, the four piece band that had everyone chanting “BANDAGES, BANDAGES, BANDAAAAAGES”?

No? Oh well that was way back in 2003 after all I suppose. That and “Bandages” was banned from play on BBC Radio 1 after someone clever at the Beeb decided the playing a song with the word bandages at a time of war was a bad thing.

Some people must have remembered these good folks though as The Scala was packed full of a young(ish) indie crowd and boy were they bouncing all over the place. Secretly I was glad to be up in the balcony though, as much as I usually like being in the thick of it, I feel like someone has been stealing my energy. Give it back please.

Tonight was the last night of Hot Hot Heat’s tour, unsure if it was meant to be promoting their new album “Future Breeds” or not as most of the material played were known hits, not that anyone complained!

Wasn’t really sure what to expect but was really quite impressed with the huge amount of energy that was put into the performance and the dynamics between the group, they gel amazingly well and they have just the right amount of twiddly extra bits and solos in their set to make it interesting. I think the lead singer Steve Bays can only be described as being a bit mental ;)

Hot Hot Heat have a new bass player amongst them, Parker Bossley, sporting a gorgeous Fender Jaguar Bass he pretty much played lead on bass throughout the majority of the set. Full of energy and funky playing, made it well worth going.

Official Secrets Act @ The Scala

Opening for Hot Hot Heat were Official Secrets Act. I’ve managed to forget their name countless times this evening because there are an awful lot of bands with similar names.

Afraid to say that it wasn’t really for me, despite the fact that a lot was being put into the performance I just didn’t feel like there was enough cohesion and ooomph. Technical terms there obviously. I’d love to have seen more involvement from the bass player, and more lead guitar from the lead vocalist/guitarist Thomas Burke, that and make sure the sound engineer cranks that poor Fender Jaguar up next time.

To be fair to the guys they’ve only been on the scene for a few years though, so a bit of refinement and who knows where they’ll be next.