GIGS OF THE YEAR 2013

Straight in…..no messin’…..

#10) Retro Stefson – The Hope, Brighton

I think this was my fourth or fifth time seeing the Icelandic dance-pop-rock-funk-world-metal-r&b’ers. Normally that array of words together in a sentence would send me fleeing for the hills but, since I first saw these a few years back, I’ve been absolutely hooked and have spread the good word Stefson high and low. Flamenco dance-offs and directional jumping at a gig are not something I generally participate in. I’m happy to say, however, that three members of the Bang were in attendance and all of us were flinging ourselves around like knobs.

#9) The Fall – Clapham Grand

A big tick off the list to finally see the genius of M.E.S live. Couldn’t make out a single word he said all night and spent a great deal of time chuckling as he stalked round the stage turning amps up and down, hanging his coat over drum microphones and generally arsing about. A birthday pressie from Bangman Rhodesy and a great evening out all round. I even ‘strawpedoed’ a Smirnoff Ice. Something I haven’t done for a good 10 years. Good pub opposite The Grand too.

#8) Everything Everything/Dutch Uncles – Portsmouth Pyramids

Birthday related fun once again (this time from the wondrous Mrs W…). Dutch Uncles were on ace form (I particularly enjoyed the midi glockenspiel and ‘interesting’ dance moves from singer Duncan…). Everything Everything have certainly come a long way since seeing them at The Fat Fox pub a few years ago. Thought they were great earlier in the year (or was it last year?) at The Wedgewood Rooms and they just seem to get better every time I see them. Stadia beckon soon I reckon. A total treat to see my favourite ditty ‘Nasa is on Your Side’ performed live as well.

#7) Lanterns on the Lake – Southampon Joiners/Southsea’s Pie & Vinyl

Couldn’t really separate these two performances though they were a few months apart. I was on sound duty for the P&V one and it was probably my favourite instore performance they’ve had in there so far (…even though my shitty old mixing desk broke meaning the band were without reverb….not ideal for LotL…sorry…).Hazel, though, has a stunning voice which carried things along nicely and the close proximity in P&V really suited the intimate, dreamy atmosphere. The gig at The Joiners meant that the slightly heavier, more up-tempo songs on the new album could sound as big as intended and they were very friendly folks too which is always a bonus.

#6) The National – Alexandra Palace, London

I’ve technically ‘seen’ The National once before at the incredible  ATP festival they curated last year. However…it was at the end of my stag do. Three very…er…’powerful’ days forever etched in the mind (for good and bad reasons…I’m not sure I’ll ever recover…). Physically and mentally fatigued as I was, I perhaps didn’t fully enjoy the wonder of them live that first time round. For this one though, I made sure I was in full and rude health. They didn’t disappoint at all and the songs from the new album ‘Trouble Will Find Me’ really come in to their own live. Everyone seems to moan about Ally Pally as a venue as well but I really enjoyed and thought the sound was great inside.

#5) Olafur Arnalds/Douglas Dare – Brighton All Saints Church

A funny old gig for a couple of reasons. Firstly – it came at the end of a day xmas shopping in Brighton whereby we had all our newly purchased presses nicked whilst helping a cyclist after she’d had a horrible crash. PEOPLE. The gig itself though was in a spectacular setting and the calming music of piano, cello and violin, often in almost complete darkness, was incredible…UNTIL…utter dickheads with iPhones aloft, flashes on, and annoying camera sounds clicking away almost ruined every moment you felt like you could completely drift away. Could have been number one gig of the year otherwise. PEOPLE. WHAT A BUNCH OF BASTARDS.

#4) John Grant/Asgeir Trausti – Cambridge Junction

After discovering Icelander (I know….just for a change…) Asgeir Trausti last year, I was overjoyed to see that he was the support for the splendid John Grant on his UK tour. Turns out, John assisted in translating Asgeir’s debut album Dýrð í dauðaþögn (which is absolutely ace) into English for worldwide release next year. Both artists were amazing, chatty between songs and on top form (and I always enjoy a visit to Cambridge…mainly for Fopp and Nana Mexico’s). I am also everso partial to Mr Grant’s little shimmy betwixt synth and mic on the dancier songs.

#3) David Byrne & St Vincent – End of the Road

Lots of great performances at this cracking festival. David Byrne’s announcement over the PA prior to taking to the stage asking people not to take loads of photos or videos and to enjoy the music ‘in the moment’ (see Olafur above…) was a brilliant touch that i’m hoping will catch on. Annie Clark of St Vincent is one of my fave guitarists (and people in general) so to see her solo stuff combined with classic Talking Heads numbers, all played by a choreographed brass band is something to behold indeed. Electric.

#2) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Brighton Dome/Optimus Primavera

It’s Nick Cave for fucks sake.

#1) Danny Elfman/The BBC Symphonic Orchestra – Royal Albert Hall

I never thought I’d see the day. One of the greatest living composers (to my mind anyway) responsible for some of the most iconic film and TV music of recent times performing live. With a full orchestra. Themes from Edward Scissorhands, BeetleJuice, Batman, Corpse Bride and a host of others all played out in the beautiful surroundings of the Albert Hall. Simple images of concept drawings and early sketches displayed behind added to the uniqueness of the performance (though I heard one idiot complain afterwards that ‘the visuals could have been better’…WATCH THE ORCHESTRA YOU CLUNGE!). Even Helena Bonham Carter popped up to belt out a rendition of Sally’s Song from Nightmare Before Xmas to rapturous applause and Tim Burton said a few moving words about Danny at the end. Incredible.

Special mentions go to the following gigs:

* At our local legendary venue The Wedge – British Sea Power, Villagers, Johnny Marr and Willy Mason

* Efterklang, Sigur Ros (both of whom are only not in the top ten cos I’ve seen them before play better gigs), MONEY, Bo Ningen & PINS all at the amazing End of the Road (maybe my favourite UK festival)

* Deerhunter (‘we are a PROFESSIONAL ROCK OUTFIT’), Explosions in the Sky and Blur at Optimus Primavera (a shining example of why foreign festivals are often much better than our own)

* Snorri Helgason – KEX Hostel, Iceland

So there you have it. Albums of the year done. Gigs of the year done. What would your choices be?

PERHAPS THIS?????? TONIGHT!!!!!!!! COME AND FESTIVE IT RIGHT UP WITH US!!!!!!!!!

Image

A CREEPY CHRISTMAS w/ Ralfe Band, Mary Epworth, The B of the Bang & Joe Black

MERRY XMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM THE B OF THE BANG

xxx

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Totally Wired….

Howdy Bangers and Bangettes

How are you? I feel we don’t talk enough. Tell me what you’re up to? How’s the dog? Did you see that thing the other day? Isn’t the weather changeable?

How am I? Oh very well thankyou. That rash has gone and the geraniums finally sprouted.

Here are the headlines in BangLand…..

BANG! In keeping with tradition and attempting to match the mighty mighty Fall (hence the blog title…) in amount of band members, TBOTB has once again had a slight cabinet re-shuffle. Fingers crossed this is now the line-up for ever and ever amen. It certainly has a good feel about it and contains a diverse and talented spread of sexy folks within….in fact, I’m very excited as to what we can achieve.

Sooooooo…..

WELCOME EMILY. WE’RE SORRY FOR WHAT YOU WILL UNDOUBTABLY HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IN THE FUTURE.

The flipside of that bright and shiny coin is the dull and rusty news that our lovely friend and colleague Roxanne Johns has stepped down as a Banger to pursue all the other endeavours she’s involved in. We wish her all the best as she’s ridiculously talented and a great person too. We’ll miss you Rox.

BANG! Our favourite event of the year occurred at the weekend. The top class multi-headed behemoth that is Southsea Fest happened across loads of venues in our hometown. 100+ bands including Clock Opera, Bo Ningen, Pale Seas, Tom Williams & The Boat plus loads more fantastic stuff. We played at The Kings Theatre which is always a pleasure – such a beautiful venue and a super-enthusiastic packed crowd for Em’s first gig. Here’s a coupla pics – cheers to Cal from Pinter Moments.

Southsea Fest was also the last ever Dawn Chorus show and they were absolutely on fire…maybe the best i’ve ever seen them. Collectively these guys are probably our favourite ever band and to call them friends is a privilege. All the best with your future endeavours boys and thanks for the inspiration, the games of bum and the shots in Bumper…..XXX

BANG! On a happier note, the ever excellent Tom Robinson included our track ‘The Forest’ in his BBC6 Music download podcast this week which went out on air early hours of Sunday/Monday morn. Here’s a bit of info:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tomrobinson/2012/09/in-the-small-hours-of.shtml

and here’s the actual download link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/trintro

Some great music on there and many many thanks to Tom for his ongoing support.

BANG! And finally…..(to be said like Trevor Mcdonald)…it looks like the second album we’ve been slaving over for 18 months will finally come out! YAY! If you’re a longtime follower of the band you’ll know our up n down rollercoaster-like existence and the fact that our lovely little label closed it’s doors a couple of months ago. Well we’ve been scurrying around and, with the help of our new management (Barney at Outright – cracking the whip and getting us into shape…) it looks like there is a light on the horizon. More news on this very soon but, rest assured, it’s a very exciting time for us and we’re not going to rest until every one of the 62 million plus people in Britain have heard it. Then next stop is THE WORLD. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Now I must go and tend to those geraniums.

Love

Wit

xxx

Albums of 2011 (and gigs…)

Ahhhhh a list. Love em or hate em. I personally love em…whether they be shopping, bucket or Schindler’s. People get so irate over end-of-year lists don’t they? They say ‘HOW DARE YOU RATE THE WANTED OVER NICKI MINAJ!!!  (check me out…i’m down with the hep cats…) YOU MUST BE MENTALLY UNBALANCED!!!’ Well, don’t take this list too seriously as my mind changes as often as a member of the Sugababes…this is just what I think in this particular moment at this exact point in time (10.48AM GMT, Monday 28th November 2011).

Also…for your records, this is Wit writing…hello. I don’t want you to exact revenge on one of the other GangBangers just because i’ve placed X higher than Y. That just wouldn’t be on. Unless it’s Jack. Cos his list would be awful.

So…mince pie in hand, Bailey’s poured, fire crackling….let’s begin.

…oh by the way – i’m doing a top 15…just because I want to…

15) Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Shock! Horror! A Radiohead record has been released and it’s not my number one! These truly are end times! Well the truth is that, although there’s some good stuff on there…it’s just not top 10 material. Codex is lovely though. Like Thom’s dance moves.

14) DELS – Gob

My hip-hop knowledge is not as sharp as it might be but I know what’s good and this is ruddy good. (ps my first ever band when I was 13 was a comedy rap band with my brother and I used to listen to his Pete Rock & CL Smooth and Lords of the Underground CD’s quite a lot….does this make me more street? No? Oh.)

13) Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen

I haven’t had very long with this record so, over time, I’d imagine this would place much higher…on the first few listens though it is indeed splendid and has introduced me to the wonderous Lift to Experience so that’s nice…

12) Roddy Woomble – The Impossible Song

Long time BangFans will know of my worrying man-love for young Roddy…ever since his early Idlewild days he can do nowt wrong in my eyes and this album is a joy. So that’s nice too…

11) Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys!

Another cracking record from everyones favourite angel-voiced plumbers…in other years this would probably be higher on the list but personally I think 2011 has been an exceptional year for musical releases. So there. I’m sure Elbow aren’t too fussed. I would like to try their ale though.

10) The Antlers – Burst Apart

Critics darlings but for once completely justified. A beautiful record though not quite as wondrous as ‘Hospice’ so just edging into my top 10…I would like to see these live please. As Jim can no longer Fix It for me i’m asking Santa.

9) The Duke Spirit – Bruiser

I love Leila Moss and her band. That is all.

8) Beirut – The Rip Tide

More marvellous merriment from Monsieur Condon and co. Managed to get a gorgeous see-through vinyl of it too. Does that matter? OF COURSE IT DOES.

7) Patrick Wolf – Lupercalia

He’s got some lungs on him this lad. ‘House’ is one of my pop songs of the year too. Not just because it shares a name with a certain medical series about a miserable genius that i’m semi-obsessed with.

6) St Vincent – Strange Mercy

Probably the freshest thing to grace my ears for some time. Amazing guitarist she is n’all. Well done Annie.

5) PJ Harvey – Let England Shake

Not really getting why people have said this album is love or hate – it’s Polly Jean at her finest in my ears. I also love ‘White Chalk’ though and lots of folk don’t care for that. Those people are called idiots.

4) Wild Beasts – Smother

To be honest, my top 5 are completely interchangeable. This would deffo sit easily and proudly as my fave album of the year but, perhaps because I’ve listened to it so very very much, today it’s at 5. Sorry lads. I STILL LOVE YOU!!!!

3) Bon Iver – s/t

See above. Amazing stuff. Even the 80’s power ballad. ESPECIALLY the 80’s power ballad.

2) Metronomy – The English Riviera

Caught me by surprise this’n. Having seen em a few times and heard their earlier stuff I was always left a bit underwhelmed but this album is nigh on perfection. It also contains one of the best pop songs ever in ‘The Look’. That keyboard solo at the end…yes….

…and DRUM ROLL PLEASE…..

1) Bjork – Biophillia

Just astounding. May mean more to me because of seeing her perform it live in Iceland this year (on my 30th birthday too..) but it’s an absolutely amazing piece of work. Not just in the innovative way it was released, the app’s, the bizarre instruments and her top notch wig. The songs themselves are also 1st class. And after all boys n girls…that’s what it’s all about innit?

So…there you go. My Albums of 2011. As I say I can’t speak for the others (though I dare say Rhodesy would have Stephen Malkmus and The Fall high up there…I haven’t got those albums yet so will have to ask for a lend…) and Keef and Ell Greggo might have gone for a bit of Tyler, the Creator (I love ‘Yonkers’ but can’t bring myself to love the rest of the album…). Rox will no doubt be rocking out to the Deftones (actually that might’ve been last year…soz) and Jack is probs relaxing in the bath to Sade but WHO KNOWS. You’ll have to ask them…

I’m not gonna list the various TBOTB offshoot albums/side projects as it’s a bit unfair but both Rox’s album and The Retrospective Soundtrack Players LP were excellent. Go buy them both. Special mentions also go to The Horrors, Tom Waits, I Break Horses, Zun Zun Egui, Washed Out, Mogwai, Blood Orange and, of course, there’s loads more that escape my mind or that I haven’t really given enough time to. As always, being a skint musician (who DOESN’T ILLEGALLY DOWNLOAD) means I can’t afford a lot of the stuff that I want. Add to this the fact that i’m always catching up on the last 1000 odd years of music means that really, when it comes down to it…THIS LIST MEANS NOTHING. Still, it’s kept us both out of trouble for 10 mins and I feel like we’ve bonded. Do you?

While i’m here – i’m gonna do a gig list too. I’m feeling frivolous, footloose and fancy free!

15) Bob Dylan/Fionn Regan/Shane McGowan – Feis Festival, London

Bob’d be higher but I’ve seen him before, I was surrounded by 20,000 drunk Irish folk (both a plus and a minus…) and I left before the encore when he played ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Blowin in the Wind’. Oops. Fionn played on a quiet acoustic stage about 10 metres from where The Waterboys were bellowing out ‘Whole of the Moon’ so I could only hear about 40% and Shane McGowan…well he’s Shane McGowan (again, both a positive and a negative…)

14) Beach House – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves

I think just the fact that when I saw them support Grizzly Bear in Brighton last year they blew me away might’ve lessened the impact this time round. Still proper good though.

13) Andy Foster/Stealing Sheep – The Wedge, Southsea & Kinky Boot Beasts – The Cellars, Eastney

A tie here. Lovely stuff from both Mr Foster and the Sheep Stealers. Saw them supporting Emmy the Great. Who really wasn’t great. Kinky Boot Beasts played with Dave and myself’s other band Analogue Manilow. And really were great.

12) Howling Bells – The Wedge, Southsea

They didn’t play ‘Low Happening’. THE HEARTLESS BASTARDS.

11) Other Lives – KEX, Iceland Airwaves

Watched them soundcheck in a tiny little bar. Lovely.

10) The Walkmen – The Wedge, Southsea

We supported them. They were aloof and didn’t talk to us. I kind of liked it though. And they played ‘The Rat’. YOU HEAR THAT HOWLING BELLS??

9) Deerhunter – Shepherd Bush Empire. London

Lots of scenester tossers there. This would probably have placed higher were it not for them talking balls incessantly everywhere you turned.

8) Borko – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves

‘Ding Dong Kingdom’. Nuff said.

7) Wild Beasts – Concorde 2, Brighton

‘WATCH ME! WATCH ME!’ This would’ve been top 3 but for some bizarre reason (a club night or something…) the curfew was 10pm on a Saturday night meaning they started at 8.30. Myself, Mrs W, Ell Greggo and Rhodesy arrived after much mulled wine at about 9 hoping to catch the end of support band Dutch Uncles only to be met with the Beast’s a quarter of the way through their set! D’oh! Still, we did then end up in, not one, but two gay night clubs so every cloud n’ that…

6) Clock Opera – The Wedge, Southsea Fest

Really want to see this band again as I had drunk a lot of brandy prior to this gig. I think it was very good…in fact i’m pretty sure it was…DAMN YOU BRANDY!

5) Retro Stefson – Reykjavik Art Museum, Iceland Airwaves

‘KIMBA! KIMBA!’ The liveliest folks I’ve seen since….I saw them a couple of years ago. Chirpy, funky and danceable are not words often associated with me but they’re infectious. Some of the other Bangers saw them play in a launderette or something too. I’ve been telling every Ron, Mick and Larry in Blighty about them ever since…

4) Roddy Woomble – The Point, Eastliegh

See my Album List. Worrying.

3) Donovan – Albert Hall, London

Played the whole ‘Sunshine Superman’ album with an orchestra. Then sat cross-legged and pretended it was still 1966. We got a free upgrade to one o’ them posh boxes. Noel Gallagher was next to us. It was a fun evening all round.

2) John Grant – Harpa, Iceland Airwaves

Bloody hell. I had a tear in my eye all the way through. As did Mrs W. Not just because of the Birthday shots of Cointreau either. Absolutely beautiful.

1) Bjork – Harpa, Iceland Airwaves

She’s only gone and done the double! Just 750 people there and in a stunning venue. I’ve been to a handful of gigs in my life that have been that outstanding. Made me want to give up. In a good way.

And that’s that. Again there’s probs loads of others that i’ve forgotten about so don’t shout at me too much. All in all though –  in a year where dosh has been tight, tight, tight and thus festivals and gigs have been few and far between for me, I’m happy to have seen and heard some absolutely awe-inspiring stuff. Now…back to TBOTB recording. FINALLY.

MERRY EASTER.

xxxx