Tuesday, 25 August 2009

There's no denying that a good frontman can save even the most shocking of bands. But watching Ricky Wilson do his thang with the Kaiser Chiefs, in the 'intimate' setting of the Villa Marina Royal Hall (1800 capacity - about a tenth of what they're used to playing) was a lesson to all of us would-be performers. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his outstretched hand within the first few bars of the first song.

(pic right: my tinymobile's view of the Kaisers playing The Villa Marina - note to self: must upgrade phone!)

Course, when you're slamming out mammoth chart hit singalongs like Ruby, Everything is Average and I Predict a Riot, backed by what is essentially a very good band* you're probably going to get SOME kind of reaction whatever you do... but Wilson's antics - from the perfected Daltryesque micswings to the energetic stageleaps to suddenly appearing amongst the crowd in the centre balcony section (so he could 'Watch his favourite band from a good position') were way above and beyond and made for one of the best shows I've been to in a long time, with plenty of willing audience participation & 1800 beaming faces at the end of the night.

(pic left: the oddly-glowing Ricky preaches pop to his adoring followers from the balcony)

And when it came to the newbies that were slipped into the set, he simply battled the New-Song-Switch-Off-Syndrome by waving his hands around to distract everyone.... Job done.

*altho, the drummer only just about manages to get away with his constant timeslipping by covering up with great rhythms and fab harmonies.

Planes Over Paris, the support act, were on fire too - despite their understandable pregig nerves, bless em! I love a band that aren't afraid to throw some audio shapes, and POP had them by the planeload (ahem). Their sound is meaty, epic, intelligent - but somehow manages to be danceable at the same time. No mean feat! And they turned the ears of some of the Kaiser Crew too, which is always good to know. Long may you fly, POP, long and far! (yeeesss...)

some video of POP's performance will appear here soon...

It's been a great week for music actually. Learning that the Kaisers drummer is also a fan of Coconut Records (we share the same CR tote bag, aw sweet!) was a Brucey bonus too. But more importantly, I have to tell you about Jonathan Powell.

Johnny is someone I met briefly in Cardiff last year. He was singing at an open mic night that he hosts - totally wankered I might add - but clearly had a beaut of a voice and was a Buckley fan. So I shouted for him to play 'Lover You Should have Come Over' - and feck me if he didn't absolutely nail it, despite the alcohol and the chattering pub crowd and etc etc. Then he played one of his own songs - 'Twilight Boy' - and I was totally blown away.

Since then, he's written, recorded and produced an album (with help from the ubertalented Gethin Jones & a few other fabulous Cardiff musicfolkals) and it's - well, it's staggering. I can't get enough of it. *warning: the following review is chockfull of pretentious description - look away now if this offends you!*

- Jonathan Powell - Unforgiven Days

It's stuffed full of musical wonderment - the siren vocals, the detail of sounds like a smack, a sniff, the smatter of spittle against a pop shield; lyrics channelled from SomeOtherTime & written deftly & poetically to perfectly conjure scenes from TheNow, words delivered with marked passion & enunciated emphasis, or loosed from the tongue with lazy abandon; heartbreaking stories shared in a whisper draw you in, til the whisper whips into a punishing scream; occasional dropped notes & unfinished sentences create an atmosphere of uncomfortable intimacy; trumpets crying an unavoidable timeline-of-events; & with Johnny being a sterling viola player, the whole thing is tied together with stunning & unexpected string arrangements - dancing strings, scorching strings, haunting strings, screaming strings, unsettling strings, bury-them-into-your-core type strings, stringlines that creep off the instrument and pierce your soul, or wrap their lilting fingers round your wounded heart to cradle it back to some sort of safety...

- Jonathan Powell - A Denial

...there are songs about suicide & Stockholm Syndrome, about failures and redemptions and lost loves and even a trilogy about someone who perished in a housefire...and yet, despite all this cleverness, he manages to include at least three Radio 2 friendly songs. Ha! Stick that into your modern day pop pipe and smoke it!

- Jonathan Powell - The Widow Queen

I could say soooo much more, but I've already overmilked the pretentious waffle pudding (mmmm waffle pudding...) This is not always an easy album, and yet it's still one of the easiest albums I own to slip on, slip into and totally emmerse myself in - I'll stop now and just say GO GET IT! (one word of advice tho, skip track 2...which IS funny and catchy and all that good stuff, but just doesn't seem to 'fit' at all - sorry johnny!) apart from that one song, this record is a masterpiece. And the sod is only 22! pft.

You can buy it here

Enjoy! :)