Frightening Rabbits In East London

“Ah, The Troxy, we meet at last”.

After two aborted attempts to get to London’s newest swish venue, The Troxy, in the past two weeks – missing The Flaming Lips due to a prior engagement (hey, Kate!), and Monsters Of Folk due to illness – it was nice wandering down Commercial Road to see Frightened Rabbit there. Well, when I say nice, I mean it was nice not getting mugged. Let’s just say the Troxy is a salubrious venue in an insalubrious part of town. The barstaff are nice, if somewhat disorganised, and the vast team of people working in cloakroom seem cheery enough.

I was at the Troxy to watch Frightened Rabbit support Gomez, seeing as I’d managed to miss them at The Lexington earlier in the month1. Now, I’ve only known about Frightened Rabbit for about a month or so when I was sent a link for the video to their new single, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”. To say I was gobsmacked is not even the half of it. I’ve played that bloody song 43 times according to my iTunes, and their last album “Midnight Organ Fight” has been played rather a lot in the past couple of weeks.

Since recording that album, they’ve expanded to a five-piece, and they shambled onto the stage and launched right into “The Modern Leper”. The audience was bigger than you’d normally expect for a support act, and they were treated to Scott’s impassioned yelling of the final chorus (“Well, are you a masochist, to love a modern leper, on his last leg?”), joined by his brother Grant on drums who was happily yelling away too. The band then tumbled through “Old Old Fashioned”, with Grant again going, frankly, a bit mad. The reception was positive, if somewhat muted.

But if the crowd weren’t quite sure about the Rabbit after the two opening tracks, they should have had their minds made up by “Good Arms vs Bad Arms”. It’s a great song on the album and it’s even better live, with the rest of the band providing lovely backing vocals to Scott’s entreaties to his ex to “Keep her naked flesh under your favourite dress”. That song got the hairs on my arm standing to attention, I can tell you.

During “Fast Blood”, Grant’s attitude veered between frantic and laconic, which is quite a trick if you can manage it. There’s a lovely thick richness to their sound, with various band members swapping guitars, keyboards, odd pedal things and a lone bass. Not sure the sound guy was quite up to it, though, as the sound sometimes descended into swampiness2.

Then came “Swim Until You Can’t See Land”. As Scott introduced it, there were more than a few cheers from the audience, which got him looking up at the crowd, astonished. Slower than on record, it’s still best song you’ll hear all year. There’s a gorgeous Calendonian melancholy to it that perversely lifts the soul. 43 times in my case.

The last pair of songs – “My Backwards Walk” and “Keep Yourself Warm” – show the band’s darker lyrical side. Now, when I first posted about FR, I said that they were much lighter in tone than their compatriots The Twilight Sad, which prompted a comment from a lovely chap called Drew pointing out that their lyrics were somewhat darker than I’d realised. And indeed, he is quite, quite right. For example, “My Backwards Walk” starts off with Scott talking about how he keeps returning to a woman he shouldn’t return to, including the great line “These trousers seem to love your floor”. The song then ends on a far darker note of the repeated line “You’re the shit and I’m knee-deep in it”. I wonder what the massed hordes of Gomez fans thought about that one?

Even better, the last song has the great, bitter, twisted line “It takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep yourself warm”. Oh, and then “I’m drunk, and you’re probably on pills, if we’ve both got the same diseases, it’s irrelevant, girl”. Charming words for sure, and part of the reason why they are such a cracking band. They say things that your brain might conjure up in dark, desperate moments, and chuck them on top of songs filled with tunes and hooks. It’s a combination many bands grasp at and by and large fail, but Frightened Rabbit succeed with aplomb. What’s better, they can do it live too.

When leaving the stage they got a huge cheer, and hopefully won over a fresh set of new fans. On collecting my bag, the cloakroom staff (and someone in the queue) asked why I was leaving. I told them I’d only come to see the support act, had to rush home to babysit parent3, and then gushed over-verbosely for a couple of minutes. One guy said “That’s quite a testament to how good they are, I’ll check them out”. Mate, do it. There aren’t many better bands in the UK right now.

Catch them on tour now round the UK, supporting Gomez (on some nights) and Modest Mouse (on others). One day, with any luck, they’ll be bigger than both of them. And if “Swim” is anything to go by, new album ‘The Winter Of Mixed Drinks’ (out next March) will be a real treat.

MP3: Swim Until You Can’t See Land by Frightened Rabbit

MP3: Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms by Frightened Rabbit

1 Even though it may seem that way, I’m not totally and utterly disorganised or anything. Honest.
2 Which, curiously enough, my friend S mentioned about the Monsters of Folk gig. Though she put it more along the lines of “I was going to punch the soundman because he was shit”.
3 A shame, because I wanted to see Gomez again. I love their singer, and the quote I once heard of “Somewhere, in the Mississippi basin, there’s a grizzled old blues guy who sings like Morrissey”.

Buy “Midnight Organ Fight” (CD/MP3)

Am I Live? Yes – Mew at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Going to a concert whilst wearing a suit is an interesting experience, especially after previously being at a do at the Polish Embassy (yes, really). Ignoring the puzzled glances from my fellow gig-goers at the Shepherds Bush Empire, I settled into the capacity crowd, sadly not at the front. What, you think I’m going to get creases in these trousers?

Mew, in case you didn’t already know, are one of the most adventurous rock bands around these days. Their songs blend heartstoppingly brilliant bits with slightly more tedious bits. Their best songs blend heartstoppingly brilliant bits with even more brilliant bits. If you get bored at any point, you are safe in the knowledge that in a minute or so they will change the tempo and the key, and probably everything else they can think of. Sometimes their songs go from strange to utterly fantastic gradually, so you are suddenly aware that a tune that had only moments earlier made no sense whatsoever had become akin to the music played at the gates of heaven.

Jonas with Tele

Having seen them live before, I kind of knew what to expect, so my main concern was whether their new material would stand up to the live treatment. And my other main concern was, do they still have the freaky videos?

To which the answers were yes, and oh sweet Mary mother of Jesus, stop it with the mouths.

Kicking off with “Intro/Reprise”, they soon kick into gear with “Hawaii”. What shocks you immediately is their ability to translate their hugely complex songs into a live performance. Jonas’s voice is a truly wondrous thing; crystal clear and pitch perfect. And they are loud. Properly, knee-shakingly, chest-tremblingly loud, almost up there with The Twilight Sad. Which is good, as I don’t have to listen to the people behind me wittering on. About halfway through, the screens behind the band suddenly flash to life, showing men dancing around with deer’s skulls. It’s really quite odd. And up go the hairs on my arms for the first of about fifty times.

Scary Dancing Things!

Scary Dancing Things!

Next up comes a sequence of songs that a less talented band would have broken up and scattered throughout the show, but Mew have such utter confidence in the strength of their material that they can joyfully play four of their best songs in a row without worrying about keeping folks interested. Those songs are, of course, the New Order-esque “Special”, “The Zookeeper’s Boy”, “Am I Wry? No” and “156”.

“Special” kicks off with a down and dirty guitar riff, far rougher than on record, and during the song everyone starts clapping. You can’t beat a bit of audience participation. “The Zookeeper’s Boy” is played with a backdrop of dolls, with toy animal heads with human mouths, singing along. It’s really quite, quite disturbing. And odd. The song ends with four of the band singing counterpoint1, and it’s really quite, quite astonishing. I was at this point standing there with my mouth hanging open. I can only hope there wasn’t any dribble coming out.

Then the opening riff to “Am I Wry? No” starts, and the place goes, as they say, mental. Now, this being the first song of theirs I ever heard, it’s got that special place in my heart, and I love it when a band can translate everything you love about the song on record into an even better live version. I had to stop myself singing along (not that this would have mattered, frankly). And “156” is stripped down – yes, Mew can strip songs down, believe it or not – until about half way through when the guitars come in and tear through the ominous quiet of the first half.

Scary Children!

Scary Children!

After that, songs came thick and fast, and unfortunately I don’t have an accurate set list (despite those marvellous people at the Mew Forum). “Introducing Palace Players” has such a bizarre, discordant riff that it makes me wonder how the guitarist introduced it to the rest of the band at a practice. “Hey, Jonas, it’ll sound much better when you start yodelling over the top, honest”. I would dearly love to walk past a guitar shop and hear some spotty teenage axe hound trying to play it. Maybe that’s why this lot aren’t selling out the O2 like Muse – whilst the latter also make hugely complex, ornate music, you can still just about knock out one of their riffs. This lot? No hope. Still, I’d much rather be here than at the O2.

There was even an exceedingly odd moment with a talking bear thing. I really have no idea what the hell was going on – see if you can make sense of it yourself.

So, on went the wonderful songs, and the bonkers videos. Wolves, lampreys, more dolls with animal heads, and the guitarist dancing around with a mask on was a real eye-opener. “Silas The Magic Car” was a gratefully recieved quieter moment, and I was struck by just how great this lot sound singing together. Take that, Fleet Foxes! “Repeaterbeater” swooshed by like a train filled with mutant guitarists. The icy ferocity of “Snow Brigade” shook us to the core, and then the band left the stage. But we all know what was to come next; well, at least those of us who’d seen them before.

A Cat!  Playing A Violin!

A Cat! Playing A Violin!

On came Bo Madsen to play the “Comforting Sounds”, and Jonas sauntered on just in time to start singing. Then, as his singing reached the climax, the rest of the band came on, and anyone in the venue who had even the slightest doubt about Mew being absolute masters at this lark had those doubts thrown into the skip outside. The starfield behind the band suddenly changed to more animals, but this time they were actually cute little things, all playing violins. Look, a teddy with little round glasses! A bunny with a twitchy nose! A strange corpse skull thing! I was struck by the thought that this is possibly the best gig-ending song I’ve ever experienced.

All I have to say about Mew is this. They should go on tour with someone properly, massively huge, like U2, or Coldplay, or the aforementioned Muse, as they would blow the headline act totally and utterly out of the water. Whilst I wish huge success on all the bands I love, I really wouldn’t want to see Twilight Sad or Tindersticks or whoever play Wembley Arena or the O2. But Mew could just fill a place like that with a song like “Comforting Sounds”. And whilst their music is complicated and sometimes bizarre, so are Muse, and I know who I’d much rather go and see. Please go and see them for yourself and find out what I’m on about and why I have written this huge article. You won’t regret a second. Except the bits with the mouths. Stop it with the mouths, will you?

MP3: Silas The Magic Car by Mew

MP3: Comforting Sounds by Mew

MP3: The Zookeeper’s Boy by Mew

1 At least I think that’s what it’s called. They all sing different bits, not like a round. Oh, you know what I mean.

Buy “Frengers” (CD)

Buy “And the Glass Handed Kites” (CD)

Buy “No More Stories” (CD)

Note: All photos courtesy of kind people posting them on Flickr.

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London Grizzly Orchestra

The concept of a band playing their material with a full orchestra has a long and not necessarily glorious history. When the band has songs that make the most of a full orchestra, it can work rather nicely. Think of Elbow’s show this year with the BBC Concert Orchestra, or Tindersticks playing at the Bloomsbury Theatre. But just bunging strings on top of basic meat and potatoes rock just doesn’t cut it, as many bands during the Britpop era discovered, to their (and our) cost.

Grizzly Bear are about as far from meat and potatoes rock as you can get. Now, as I’ve posted about them about 100 times this year, I don’t really need to go into describing their extraordinary music again. So, dear reader, on with the review without any more guff from me.

Concrete (and grass) jungle

First things first. Isn’t the Barbican a freaky old place? It’s like a strange concrete oasis sat in the weird bit of London between The City and the West End. At first sight it looks like some nightmarish sink estate in Bradford or Loughborough, but then you sneak a look in an estate agents window and see that a one-bedroom flat goes for £500,000. Half a million! Sheesh. Then you notice the lack of litter and graffiti, and the nice little signs directing you along the raised walkways. Indeed, after a while you start to think it’s like running round a level of Quake 3 but without the monsters shooting at you.

Look, No Graffiti!

And the actual Barbican centre itself is really quite nice. I like venues where you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake, and a nice sit down.

Sorry, enough with the guff.

So, what do Grizzly Bear sound like with the LSO? Well, let me put it this way. Every time I go to see a band, there’s a little, totally unscientific test I carry out. It’s pretty simple and there really isn’t a way I can easily replicate it. But it works and frankly I can’t think of anything better.

It’s this. At what point during the show does the hair on my arms stand up? Music is a visceral thing that affects people in all sorts of ways, on an emotional level that no other artform can match. I got it about thirty seconds into the opener “Easier”, which says a great deal about how beautiful those opening moments were. “Cheerleader” was simply stunning, a much softer proposition than at Koko, with Daniel Rossen’s guitar stabs toned down to suit the occasion. Hairs still raised, then.

Then came “Southern Point”, and the drawbacks of playing with an orchestra come to the fore. The complexity of the song, mixed with a presumable lack of rehersal time, made the song a bit too cluttered and ineffective. It doesn’t help that Daniel Rossen’s guitar has been moved further down the mix, removing the brutal dynamic of his playing.

Normal service was resumed during “Central and Remote”, with the orchestra again providing beautiful backing to one of the band’s more dynamic numbers. Better still, the jamjar lights surrounding the bands started circling, matching the rhythm of the song, to hypnotic effect. They made me think of fireflies lighting up a tropical night. The coda to “All We Ask” was astonishing, with a subtle backing to the band’s vocal harmonies.

But the highlight came with “Knife”, and on their best known song the band and their new friends pull out all the stops. Whether it’s because the song is so well known, or whether it just suits the orchestral treatment, “Knife” was an absolute triumph (dahling). From gently plucked strings echoing the staccato guitar line near the start, to a soft swell of violins building behind and above Chris Taylor’s beautifully treated vocals, the song was a glorious demonstration of everything that this band can do with an orchestra.

Both “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait For The Others” were played sans orchestra, presumably to give them a bit of a rest. They spent their time smoking cigarettes, playing poker, and scratching their names into their chairs. Oh ok, they sat back and enjoyed the songs (especially the conductor, who looked like he was having a whale of a time).

The set came to an end with the trio of “He Hit Me” (Ed Droste in wonderful form), “I Live With You” (really quite pleasantly noisy), ending with a wonderfully understated “Foreground”. A standing ovation ensued, with the band returning with a decent version of “Colorado”, which, as it isn’t exactly my favourite song, I was glad to enjoy more than I expected.

So, was it a success? By and large, yes. Some songs, like “Knife” worked so well they totally overshadowed the songs that didn’t, like “Dory”. And the song selection was a bit odd too; the aforementioned “Dory” isn’t one of their best songs in any way, shape or form, yet a song like “Marla”, which would have worked beautifully with a full orchestra, was bafflingly left off the set list. But as the band themselves said, this opportunity doesn’t come along very often, and I’m so very glad that the hairs on my arms stood up. You can’t hide an emotional response like that, and you can’t hide from the fact that Grizzly Bear are one of the finest bands this decade – with violin-toting buddies or without.

On another note, isn’t the Twilight New Moon soundtrack looking interesting?

MP3: Two Weeks (Live) by Grizzly Bear

MP3: Slow Life by Grizzly Bear (featuring Victoria Legrand)

Buy “The Twilight Saga : New Moon Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” (CD/MP3)

Buy “Veckatimest: Special Edition” (CD/MP3)

Note: live photos courtesy of various posters at Songkick.

Doolittle, Doolive

This whole “Doing A Whole Album From 20 Years Ago Live” thing is a curious matter. When bands like Teenage Fanclub do “Bandwagonesque” and Tindersticks play “Second Album”, it’s really nice, because you’ve kind of forgotten about them, and it’s lovely to be reminded afresh about what great bands they are. But the Pixies did the whole reunion thing five years ago. And that was a fantastic, angry, furious, joyful reunion, the audience’s rapture at the sheer inconcievability of the whole event absorbed by the band and reciprocated hundredfold in superb performances.

So this feels odd, especially as we’re back to the Brixton Academy again, scene of their great triumph back in 2004. “Doolittle” is possibly rock’s finest hour, a pure distillation of strangeness and sex and lust and religion and monkeys and Spanish surrealism and Biblical fury and environmentalism, all wrapped up with screaming and yelling and dischords and songs with so many hooks you could hang a whole bunch of coats on. But there’s a touch of redundancy about the whole thing, especially when the night kicks off with a bunch of B-sides.

The Most Redundant Set List Ever

The Most Redundant Set List Ever

The Pixies were never a B-sides band. Some, like New Order, hid their best songs away on B-sides and obscure releases on tiny Belgian record labels staffed solely by beer-quaffing nuns. But The Pixies released two astonishing records, and frankly you just need “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle”, and find “Isla de Encanta”, “Caribou” and “Cecilia Ann/Rock Music” somewhere. That’s pretty much it. The B-sides are pretty much entirely redundant. Buy the new, limited edition extended “Doolittle” with the B-sides, say the adverts at the start. No thanks, say the crowd.

Then, Kim starts that bassline, the lights drop out, and “Debaser” precipitates a frenzy. Everyone goes mad. Then comes “Tame”, one of their fiercest and most deranged songs, and everyone goes mad again. So it goes.

Hearing “Doolittle” song by song, you are struck by how much variety their songs feature. Even when they try to be poppy, in a Velvet Underground meets Beach Boys of “Here Comes Your Man” (featuring a great video of the band nodding their heads in approval), it comes across as pretty weird. The weirder songs are weirder still. “Mr Grieves” is still so bloody odd. “Tame”, “I Bleed” and “Gouge Away” still have such bewildering power twenty years on that your are left feeling breathless (aside from the huge crush at the front).

At the end of “Gouge Away”, the band bow and jape and joke at the front, with the display behind showing a video of the band bowing, japing and joking, soaking up some of the loudest cheering I’ve ever heard at a gig. And the first encore, ending with “Into The White”, feels a bit tacked on. But the second encore starts with “Isla De Encanta” and then jumps straight into “Broken Face”, whereupon every single person in the place goes utterly mad, yet again. Frank “Black” Black “Francis” actually looks, for the first time, like he’s enjoying it up there. Then it’s “Where Is My Mind”, and the night is over.

You know, I never thought I would say this, but I’m starting to wonder if they should give touring a rest for a bit. I mean, it’s wonderful to see them but some of the joy seems to have seeped out of Black “Francis” Frank “Black”. Ok, he wasn’t exactly a particularly cheery soul to start off with, but there’s a definite feel of him going through the motions. You know, calling this the “We Never Made Any Fucking Money From Doolittle So Give Us Some Now Tour” might be more appropriate, and who can begrudge them getting some belated glory? Lord only knows they deserve it, what with totally reinventing rock music and all.

So, maybe they need a break. But then again, who cares? They are still one of the best live acts out there, and show up bands twenty years their junior with ability to just sound so damned good. Much better than the Ally Pally shows from a few years ago, but sadly not quite touching the heights of their reunion shows.

And they are still the best band in the world to see a fat, bald middle-aged man screaming at the top of his lungs. Frank, Joey, Kim and Dave, we salute you.

MP3: I Bleed (live) by The Pixies

MP3: Gouge Away (live) by The Pixies

MP3: Hey (live) by The Pixies

MP3: Silver (live) by The Pixies

MP3: Tame (live) by The Pixies

MP3: Broken Face by The Pixies (Live)

Buy “Doolittle” (CD/MP3)

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Grizzly Bear, Live

Koko is a lovely venue. Opened originally in 1900, the spirit of old-style music hall is alive and well with the ornate balconies and the rich red paint; the new bar at the back works wonderfully with the period detail. The bar staff are friendly, the loos aren’t completely horrific, and there’s one of the best Japanese restaurants in London on its doorstep.

But whoever writes the bumpf on their website needs shooting. “Grizzly Bear have gone massive really quickly, the jury is out as to whether they are merely Animal Collective copyists or are ploughing their own field” I could just see them writing in the 60’s: “the jury is out as to whether The Rolling Stones are merely The Beatles copyists or are ploughing their own field”. And “gone massive really quickly”? Sure, no-one noticed them back in 2006 when they released what was widely regarded as one of the best albums of the year1. As the current vernacular states, seriously, dude, wtf?

Ranting aside, there is something about Grizzly Bear’s meticulously constructed Beach Boys chamber-noise pop stylings that really suits the venue. The sound really helps; pretty much clear as a bell all night, even during the furious wig-out at the end of “I Live With You” and “Fine For Now”. That latter song was one of the highlights of the night – on the album it’s maybe too constrained, too mannered, but live it bursts into life. Daniel Rossen’s guitar onslaught was beautifully controlled, just the right side of outright noise.

Lovely Lights, A Bad Camera

Lovely Lights, A Bad Camera

“Ready, Able”, with its baroque stylings, was a perfect example of what makes Grizzly Bear so great, and yet so discombobulating. Starting off with edgy drum rhythms and Daniel Rossen’s discordant guitar stabs, it suddenly switches to a beautiful Cocteau Twins-esque chamber-pop section, before changing yet again to reach ever more gorgeous heights. On record it’s beautiful enough, seeing the transformation happen live is almost transcendant.

And I wasn’t prepared for quite how much was involved in making their songs. Chris Taylor played bass, some kind of glockenspiel thing, a flute, a bass saxophone, and possibly a clarinet (my view was somewhat obstructed). During “Lullabye”, drummer Christopher Bear seemed to do some mucking about with an electric drum pad that involved a bass so heavy it made my trousers shake in a way they haven’t done since the Notting Hill Carnival in 2004. As for the singing; any of these guys could happily be the lead singer in any band you care to mention. Their harmonies put the likes of Fleet Foxes to shame. Chris Taylor’s heavily altered singing during “Knife” was stunning.

This lot are seriously talented. I have a recurring image of them in lab coats, cackling like mad scientists, whilst they write songs. There’s some very odd things going on musically, such as the odd guitar tunings to create lots of diminished sevenths and the like (ok, I don’t know, I’m making it up – if you know, feel free to comment!). I have no idea what tunings Daniel uses, but whatever he’s doing he’s obviously not doing it to make his fretting any simpler.

Grizzly Set List

Grizzly Set List

Sadly, there was no “Marla” (the creepiest song since Smog’s “I Was A Stranger”) or “Deep Blue Sea”, but you can’t ask for everything. The night ended with their cover of “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss)”, another song that works far better live than on record. A quick rushed goodbye, and they were gone. I can’t wait for the Barbican show, with a full orchestra and everything. If it’s half as good as the Koko gig, we’re all in for a treat.

One last thing. What is it with London gigs and people talking? Seriously, can people not shut up for 90 minutes? You’re not at home watching it on TV, you are surrounded by people who have waited months to see a band live, and they did not pay good money to hear you shout at your friend. Seriously, shut it. Funnily enough, after the gig, in the lift at Mornington Crescent tube, someone went “SHHH!” to everyone talking. At least it’s not just me.

On the way home, we saw this:

Another Bear

Another Bear

As one friend said, “That advert is a hundred times better than the actual place”.

MP3: He Hit Me by Grizzly Bear

MP3: Fine For Now by Grizzly Bear

1 As previously noted, I did of course miss them. Look, I was tired, ok?

Buy “Veckatimest” (CD/MP3)

Buy “Friend EP” (CD/MP3)

More Live Shows – Pixies and Flaming Lips

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Ah, the joys of buying tickets online. Last Friday at 9am, tickets for Flaming Lips and more importantly, The Pixies Playing Doolittle went on sale, as well as a bunch of other bands. Why do promoters decide to all release tickets at the same time, so you end up spending half an hour a sweaty, nervous wreck trying to get tickets to see two of the most exciting, thrilling, revolutionary and downright fantastic bands of the last few decades? One put on a live show filled with the spectacle of the lead singer in a huge inflatable rubber ball, fireworks, people dressed as animals, all sorts of stuff; and the other are a spectacle just because they are there.

For seeing The Pixies live is still a huge event. They turned up in the late ’80’s, blew us away, then self-immolated amongst rancour and confusion. I only saw them live for a few songs back in 1990 at the Reading Festival, before the girl I was seeing at the time had to be rushed back to London as she’d eaten some dodgy food earlier in the day. “I’ll take you to see them next time they tour” she said. They never came back. *sniff* Thanks Charlotte.

So seeing them, live at the Brixton Academy on their first reunion tour was as close to a religious experience as I’ll probably ever get. And I’d reckon that most of the 30- to 40- something crowd would agree. There was a five or six song section where they went through their Spanish numbers, and it was furious and frenetic and damned angry, and probably the best live experience I’ve ever had.

Going back to the Brixton Academy to see them play one of the best albums ever is just the bestest thing ever, if you ask me. Which you haven’t, but as you’re here reading this, I guess you’ve got some interest in them too. Am I right, or what?

And then it’s The Flaming Lips. Another fantastic band, if not quite as influential. But also capable of being utterly transcendent live. I’ve seen them before too, and having had the pleasure of meeting the band (in Dallas airport of all places), I can happily say that they are gentlemen of the highest order, and Wayne Coyne is like the best mad uncle you never had.

There are all sorts of YouTube videos of them doing their stuff live, so it’s hard to pick just one. Here’s a good one from the crowd that shows a little of what they are like:

Please, please go and watch loads more, and if you haven’t seen them live, do. And if you have, go and see them again. Oh here’s another one.

So here’s two songs. First off is Mr Grieves, because it’s just so representative of what The Pixies do best. About four styles of song, hugely ominous lyrics “You can cry, you can mope/But can you swing from a good rope?”, and the fact it’s sheer brilliance. And not bloody Monkey goes to Bloody Heaven.

And secondly, Flaming Lips’s “Do You Realize???” really shouldn’t need any introduction. We played it at our wedding, you know. Wonderful song, wonderful band.

MP3: Mr. Grieves by The Pixies

MP3: Do You Realize??? by Flaming Lips

Buy “Doolittle”. Buy it. Buy it. BUY IT!!!

Buy Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” (CD)

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