On Tour With Dum Dum Girls.

Dum Dum Girls Live  -Photo - Andy Von Pip - Fac251 Manchester

Ok  I will accept that the title of this post might be construed as a tad misleading and has perhaps strayed over into the more  deluded realms  of ‘optimistic,’ “on tour ,with Dum Dum Girls? ” Well one can dream.  For clarity what I actually mean is I caught them twice in as many days on the UK leg of their European tour,  first at FAC251 in Manchester, then  just over the Welsh border at Central Station in Wrexham. Two places whose musical heritage couldn’t be more antithetical, Manchester of course  has a fabulous musical legacy, giving the world The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, The Fall, The Buzzcocks and New Order amongst others whilst Wrexham has  gifted us  erm, K-Klass….

Dum Dum Girls -Jules- Von Pip - Wrexham Central Station

Having caught Dum Dum Girls on a number of occasions over the past couple of years both performances demonstrated just how far they’ve evolved from what was essentially Dee Dee’s lofi bedroom project, into a fully fledged kiss-ass band of some distinction.  Sonically they have improved beyond measure expanding their musical palette whilst  still remaining faithful to their garagey roots, mixing 60’s girl group harmonies with the Ramones trademark head down full on speedball punk/pop fizz.  It goes without saying the band look stunning, hell, this is what a band SHOULD look like, all heartbreak n’ leathers and Dee Dee wearing her trademark “iconic look-in the making” stripped tights.  They rattle through songs from this year’s “He Gets Me High EP”, which in many ways acted as the bridge between their lo-fi debut album “I Will Be” to their second album “Only In Dreams.”  As with most groups the live sound is rawer and more jagged, lacking some of the studio polish and this fits in perfectly with the bands image and reputation, with guitarist Jules fusing a potent mixture of Johnny Marr ‘s chiming jangle, allied to twisted Mary Chain style guitar pedal distortion. Dee Dee’s vocals are pretty much bang on and she seems much more assured than on previous occasions, possibly the raw emotionally honesty of the songs allowing her to really let go, freeing her from the shyness which many have on occasion been misinterpreted as cool indifference. True, that during both gigs there is very little in the way of banter, but hey, if you want wise cracks go see a comedian; Dee Dee gives enough of herself musically, expressed through beautiful poignant poetic lyrics allied to the sort  perfect pop songs that exist “Only In Dreams” for many songwriters. The sort of songs written from the heart and  infused with a genuine emotion that  you simply can’t fake.   If that isn’t enough for you, why not fuck off to a corporate arena communal wank-a- long and listen to songs born at a record label focus group, for this is very much the real deal.

Dee Dee Dum Dum Girls -Photo By Andy Von Pip- Manchester.

Veronica Falls provided  support and played two sparkling sets which encompassed the majority of their superb debut album plus a couple of new tunes. Frenetically strummed guitars and melancholy appear to be Veronica Falls trade mark and they fuse classic pop,  a touch of 60’s doo-wop with late 80’s guitar jangle to concoct an intoxicating musical cocktail. I really hope this band become more widely known because the more I play this album the more I love it.  Great band and great performances.

A quick mention most be given to Retriever who were the first band on the bill at Manchester and Novelle in Wrexham. Newcastle’s  Retriever were  an  astonishing full on sonic ear shredding assault with driving beats, searing guitars, thundering bass all drawn together by  lead singer Jackie Miller’s strident, powerful vocals.  Novelle took the opening slot in Wrexham and performed a set shot through with frail melodies swimming under a wash of woozy shoegazy feedback . All in all a pretty perfect damn near perfect gig experience.

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The Wedding Present – Liverpool Academy 27/10/07

“I’m Not Always So Stupid” (from the “George Best- Plus” Re-release) By The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present- George Best Anniversary Tour -Liverpool Academy 27/10/2007

It’s hard to believe its twenty years since the release of The Wedding Present’s seminal “George Best” album, listening to it nowadays you realise what a classic collection of songs it is. If anything, it sounds even better in the present than it did all those years ago,the buzzing hornets nest guitars, the lyrics, which are as sharp as they are witty, all played at a break neck pace…..…….Now I might not believe its 20 years ago, but tonight at a packed Academy the evidence is all around me, hardcore “Prezzie fans” wait in anticipation for their hero, they may be a little paunchier, have a little less hair, but they are as enthusiastic as ever. As I edge my way to the front, negotiating several “well fed” gentlemen, I look back at the packed crowd behind me- I cant help feeling I’ve just wandered through a spec savers promotional photoshoot-(god knows what crowds at Who concerts look like!) and I wonder if the years have been slightly kinder to David Gedge.

When he arrives on stage I’m pleasantly suprised to see he hasn’t changed at all and looks as fit as a fiddle ! “You’re a genius,” somebody shouts, at which he feigns false modesty, “Fat Bastard” laughs another . “Fat ? That’s a bit unfair” retorts Gedge grinning sardonically, “A few pounds over maybe, but surely not…. fat?? – Anyway It’s great to be back in Manchester “ he continues, which always goes down well in Liverpool, as the band launch into a brace of Cinerama (Gedges other band)songs. Then a chap dressed up as a white rabbit holding countdown cards,wanders on stage, eventually stopping the cards to huge cheers with one printed bearing the album sleeve image of the legendary Manchester United booze hound (the only time a Man U shirt appearing in Liverpool will ever get a cheer, I wager ! ), and its heads down as “George Best” is played in its entirety as part of the set . Every song is greeted like an old friend,“Everybody Thinks He looks Daft,” “What Did Your Last Servant Die Of”,“My Favourite Dress” and “Shatner” have the crowd moshing with delight. “Don’t play “Nowhere Fast “ one of the stouter more mature fans breathlessly shouts…. ” I need a rest!!” Gedge and his band are on fire and the songs that where the soundtracks to many of the audience’s youth sound as fresh and as vital as ever.

It really is a case of an old master showing the Indie kids how it should be done,“Let me know when Razorlight sound this good ” deadpans Gedge after playing a newer song “ Don’t Take Me Home Until I’m Very Drunk “ Of course,he’s right, the Wedding Presents buzz-saw guitars, and wry, intelligent lyrics make Mr Borrels insipid, inane warblings seem even more insignificant. Although Gedge has never been blessed with the sweetest of voices he is undoubtedly one of the countries best, yet most underrated lyricists. His beautifully observed bitter sweet songs explore love, loss and the complexities and misunderstandings within relationships that deftly manage to combine both the poetic and the down to earth. They are of course great to sing a long to after a few beers, which tonight’s audience do so with great gusto.

The biggest cheer of the night comes as the set ends ” See you again “ says Gedge “Maybe next year?” He doesn’t bother with ego massaging fripperies such as encores and the crowd go home happy, knowing that even if the lumbago plays up in he morning it was worth it. Gedge’s songs may often lament the fact that all too often he doesn’t “get the girl” but on this evidence he’s still got the charisma, the style and the talent that have made the Wedding Present such an influential act……and long may he continue…

VP

“Everybody Thinks He Looks Daft” The Wedding Present -Liverpool 27/10/2007

Editors- Live,Liverpool Uni 23/10/2007

Editors Live -Liverpool University 23/10/2007

From the moment Tom Smith’s dark brooding vocals echo through the darkness and launch into “An End Has A Start” you just know this is going to be a special night. This is my first experience of an Editors gig and I wondered if they would live up to their reputation of being one of the best live acts around. Smith doesn’t really indulge in a lot of banter between songs other then the perfunctory “thanks” “how are you?”, polite and to the point… but what he lacks in repartee he makes up for in terms of his performance. He gives absolutely everything , heart and soul, sounding at times like the long lost son of Andrew Eldritch, and lets face it we’ve come here for the music not witty banter. When he isn’t prowling the stage like a caged tiger guitar in hand, full of nervous energy, he’s clambering onto drum kits and piano’s like a rangy mountain goat with ADHD ! At one point I thought he might actually attempt to clamber up the industrial structure which was used as the stage backdrop, a difficult task given that its in 2D.

The band mix melancholy with hope, joy with despair and the show crackled a long at a blistering pace, the live sound being one of the best I’ve ever heard. Tom’s growing his hair these days , and, well, to be honest- the gel ain’t working- the more energy he expends the more unkempt his hair becomes, it appeared to be expanding at such an alarming rate that at one point he started to resemble Side Show Bob crossed with Art Garfunkel. This is a band who certainly give it their all, the energy levels never once dropping as Smith span around the stage playing the guitar on his head or hurtling around like a demented marionette, switching between fast paced classics like “Blood” to their slower, more reflective numbers with consummate ease. By the time “Munich” is played the crowd are eating out of the palm of his hand as a huge great burly shaven headed scouser next to me, sings with genuine emotion, about people being “fragile things.” Editors proved that they truly are one of the best live acts you’re likely to see , and this was a gig that will live long in the memory. To quote them “I’m so glad I’ve found this, I’m so glad I did.”

VP

Munich 23/10/07 Liverpool

All Sparks 23/10/2007 Liverpool