CONCRETE MEAT PRESS
Reviews - what are we reading or listening to at Concrete Meat Press?
Lessons for the young!
Echolocation, The Pale Faces, Fangtrouser and Chewing Daisies
Live @ The Cookie Jar, Leicester, England 3rd May 2013
I am in the Cookie Jar, a downstairs cellar room below a great café bar that holds about 100 people when it’s full to the rafters. Upstairs before the show, I’m chatting with Anthony, the owner, when a polite young woman with a foreign accent asks to borrow his lighter. She takes it and disappears. This polite young woman will reappear later. But first...
Downstairs a small crowd are catching young local band, Chewing Daisies, who are kicking things off with a grungy riffing. Reminiscent of Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr (which is a good thing!), they take me back a few years and when they cover ‘In Bloom’ their influences are firmly tattooed onto their skinny arms. Their last number takes on a swirling, more complex sound and is promising for the future development of a unique style and, as they hang around this evening, they will be treated to a master class of invention and originality.
Fangtrouser, only on their second gig (although all members have played in previous Leicester bands including the fabulously named Black Carrot!), give class one - a melding mix of jazzy keyboards, bluesy rock guitar (no bass!) and a drummer who moves around his kit like a cat on hot coals that just works for me – it isn’t rock, it isn’t jazz but its very original and very good. First time I’ve caught them so song titles eluded me. They have no material available yet but when they do it will be worth getting hold of.
Ok recess is over and the room is getting a little more crowded. I notice the polite young woman standing near the front. Joined by another young woman they suddenly move to the stage. A male, joins them and sits behind a bass drum – not a kit, but then he isn’t a drummer, he’s holding a bass guitar too. The polite woman stands centre stage and points to someone – her stare fixed and a mad gleam in her eye. She bangs on a drum at her side, he beats the bass drum and whacks the bass and the other young woman sets off a pulsing, throbbing, screeching synthesiser sound. This is The Pale Faces! The singer sings – it’s a mix between 60’s girl band and chanteuse crooning and it’s incredible. The band are the Ronnettes, hanging out with the Beach Boys, stealing Suicides pulsing rhythm while the bass and drums rumble and hammer like a factory floor. It’s intense, mad and the energy could light the city. Many in the crowd are probably staring wide eyed, floored by the experience. There is so much going on here from this Leicester based Goodtime Recordings band (check out this label!), the Daisies should have their notebooks out and be scribbling it down. Key songs from debut album “Gee Baby, I’m Mighty Blue For You” that should be on any playlist included “No More Kisses”, “Here Comes My Man” and the exquisite “Torture”. Watch out for a new album which should be out by the time you read this! Powerful, exciting and in your face – what more could you want?
Pete Ingram stands next to me and says “How do I follow that?” Pete is the singer in Echolocation – he knows how to follow it. So do the band - another master class in action. Three full albums and a mini EP in, Echolocation are one of the best of the Leicester bands around. Pete’s a northerner, with a strong accent for these parts and his spoken word poetry vocals - calm and raucous in equal measure – are incredible – witty, serious, abstract, they are backed by a band that includes six other members using trumpets, cellos and standard rock instruments to create what I can only call post rock or experimental if pushed for a genre. They play some old favourites, from “C92”, “Revenge Of The Yes Men” and “Regeneration” plus some new ones, including “Grand Prix” and all sound great. Pete is in fine form, his humorous stage banter in between songs suggests he isn’t taking it too seriously, but the lyrical content and driving power of the band tell you otherwise. Harvey Sharman-Dunn’s guitar work weaves, trickles, hits and kicks as cello and heralding trumpet add layers of texture over a solid keys and rhythm section. ‘BFF (Best Friends Forever)’ and ‘Retail Workers Get Theirs In Heaven’ are just two stand out tracks of the set. I could listen to this band all night. I can’t describe them – they need to be heard!
I leave – happy with my Echolocation fix, in love with two more wonderful bands and hoping that the Daisies will jump into a rehearsal the next day and start experimenting a little more – maybe a trumpet, Pete’s loud haler or a woman with a mad, gleam in her eye could add a little extra something!
Note to the intelligent and unafraid reader: Find Echolocation and The Pale Faces on bandcamp.com – give them a listen and buy something! Hey, you can get the ‘Gnomes’ EP by Echolocation for free! Check them all out on youtube too!!
Preacher and the Bear
Live @ The Guildhall, Leicester 26th May 2013
Okay, it's Sunday night in a historic Tudor building in the centre of town, next door to the cathedral and all hell is about to break loose. That's why the Preacher is here and not next door. This Preacher is gonna get down and let it fly and nothing is going to stand in his way! The congregation better get ready because they are not gonna get a gentle sermon! The Bear is his partner and foil - they work together so well, building their heavy blues gospel and feeding off each other for the whole set. This is power blues, SUPER BLUES as it is writ on the handwritten notes that are left around the room - propaganda for the initiated.
Starting off gently - a ditty about a "Sweet, Black Angel", we get the guitar, keys and drums (yes, there is a third person - let's call him Garry) melding into a slow burner with a hint of the call and response vocals that will provide the main lessons of the evening. Then it takes off, the pace is upped, the drive is on and the sermon proper kicks in. We are warned against "Weed and Wimmin' " and the building starts to shake to it's historical foundations.
The Bear, over six foot of him, long hair and beard, lets rip with blues runs and riffs that pummel and blast around the room. If the rumoured ghosts of this building are around, they will have either split or began boogying in their hiding places - no need for an exorcism. This leaves the Preacher to do his thing - standing on his keys as much as playing them - it's like watching Jerry Lee Lewis on speed - hammering the heck out of them and creating mayhem.
The crowd are standing at a respectful distance, leaving room for photographers to run in and snap a picture of the looming Bear or the looning Preacher. You get the feeling that if there had been nobody in attendance the performance would still have been so high in energy that it wouldn't matter. It continues, the Preacher loses a shoe, picks it up and hits the keyboard with it, then he's up on the keys again - not sure this thing is going to make it out of here alive, while the drums roll, the guitar wails and the blues moan into the Guildhall night.
"Daddy, What's the Blues?" is the parable of how the Bear got to this point and ends the evening with a blues freak out! If the Bear needs to ask the question the congregation know the answer - this is the blues, this is the blues and even if the space in front of the band didn't fill out the crowd reaction told them we knew it.
This is the blues. This is heavy blues. This is POWER BLUES!!
Listen to tracks from WELCOME TO THE CONGREGATION by Preacher and the Bear at bandcamp.com and hey - buy it! Search on You Tube for live clips!