Cards on the table: I’m fairly ambivalent about Wovenhand. I couldn’t swear that I’ve actually ever heard them. Although it seems likely that I’ve traveled in a car when they’re playing at the very least. I’ve tried to get into frontman David Eugene Edwards‘ previous band 16 Horsepower on several occasions (due to their lineage and terroir). I never really go them. For a band that had such devotion bestowed upon them, they just seemed a little lacking in depth. All surface.
With tales of mesmerising performances, I expected this show to be powerful enough to take me along (kinda like Swans pummeling you with sheer dynamic). Unfortunately, I suspect that the lovely Bush Hall is not really best suited to that kind of show. Although the word ‘nephilim‘ keeps crossing my mind, I become convinced that it needs more volume. I lean over to express this opinion to my companion (who is a fan, has been looking forward to this, and raving about new album Refractory Obdurate) and he counters with “no, it’s shit. It’s turgid, they’re a bad metal band”.
He has a point. Early home for us, then.
It’s Shonen Knife. The Osaka Ramones™. It’ll be Naoko and some new blood. They’ll start with Riding On The Rocket. It’ll be cartoonish. It’ll totally rock. You’ll still completely fail to remember the name of that song. You’ll smile; go home and listen to Let’s Knife. Then forget about them.
Until next time.
It’ll still be one of the best gigs this year. Always is.
Actually, tonight, they are joined by Atsuko (Naoko’s sister and original drummer) for two songs. You don’t get that every night.
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages are a name from my past. Many a foot of C90 was filled from Peel sessions and live recordings. I trawled the handful of decent record shops in Glasgow in search of a cop of their Dig Yourself album, to no avail. Imagine my joy, when thanks to the wonders of modern technology – specifically Songkick, an email arrived telling me that the band were back in action* and would be stopping off in town.
Mr Whitfield himself looks like Marsellus Wallace. But with a voice so soulful, it’d make a statue weep. The Savages, are a rag-tag bunch of old punks battering out big soul-revue numbers like the hardest working band on the late 50s chicken circuit. They are magnificent. Only a dead man could stop his feet from moving. There are people in the audience here have brought bits of lino. There’s astounding showmanship that never, ever, takes itself too seriously or forgets this has to be fun.
This is everything the RFTC gig wanted to be, but wasn’t.
*Apparently, if I watched Jools Holland I’d have known this. Still not worth it.
There are few things in the world that get me as joyed as The Handsome Family touring. Well, where I can see them, I mean. Last time I only caught them the once, so this time, well in advance, I’ve got my self booked up for two of the easily gettable-to dates. Then a second London date is announced. Of course, this has been ascribed to their new found profile after their Far From Any Road was used as the theme tune to True Detective. But, they always sell out the 100 Club. Why weren’t they in a bigger room? They were last time. Actually, shhhhh, ignore that. I’m very happy with getting to see them three times.
One of the great things about seeing Mr & Mrs Sparks live is the fact that they are pretty much a different band every time, depending on a few variables. Prime amongst these is which guitar Brett has brought with him. This tour, he’s twanging a whammy-barred Telecaster®. They’ve got the drummer bloke that’s been with them this side of the pond the last few times. So, it’s country-rock version that we get. Which delivers to a rapturous Brighton an excellently balanced career-spannng set. Including Somewhere Else To Be and All The Time In Airports back-to-back. The former, they have not played for too long. And, the combination of both rendered me a little unnecessary. Rennie, keeping control, with regular reminders of “no jamming”.
Next night, the extra capital show, is about as perfect as they get. Stunning. Markedly different set, which I thought was rather nice of them.
Last night, another of the variables comes into he mix; just how much has Brett had to drink. Enough to be jolly, but also for the no jamming rule to fall on deaf ears. Joined tonight by the musical saw bloke that normally does here, there’s a lot of messin’ about. When The Helicopter Comes is transformed into a complete Doorsy sounding breakdown. It’s black, hilarious and rather wonderful. Kinda like everything about this band.
They’re back in October. Bigger venue. Let’s see if we can force a second night there.
There’s a point tonight at which someone shuts at the gabbing mouths to shut up so we can hear the band. Who, in turn, concur. What
Calvary, is John Michael McDonagh‘s follow up to his unprecedentedly successful first movie The Guard. The first time the UK box office had a film in the top 10 for several weeks that hadn’t actually been released in the UK yet. (Apparently ROI figures are counted too.) It opens with a priest in confession, his penitent tells him he was abused by a priest as a child and is going to let the world know by killing another, good, priest. Yeah, this one. In a week. We then follow the beleaguered father as he tends to his flock over the following seven days.
What follows is a series of vignettes whee the priest interacts with the denizens of his village. Each presenting their own problems and philosophy, while he counters with his. I’m sure in the mind of McDonagh, this reads like the Diving Comedy or something. It doesn’t. It’s patchy and incidental. The who’sgonnadunnit at the centre is no longer of interest to anyone. There’s no clues in there, in fact, the priest knows who it is. (And, if you think about the cast, so do we.) Some of the points crowbarred in there are interesting. Some hilarious. The while just doesn’t really manage to pull it off.
And, it’s a big but (boom-tsch!). Standing at the centre of it all, seemingly hewn from the very landscape around him is big beardy Brendan Fecken Gleeson. As the priest, he manages to pull of the performance of a lifetime (and he’s always pretty damn good). He balances perfectly a man with a past and that which makes a ‘good’ priest. The troubled ex-whiskey priest, manages to nearly convince that maybe life wouldn’t be so bad if you let god in. you can barely take your eyes off him (which seeing as he central to everything is both actual and figurative). He lends the whole affair a weight and gravitas is only deserves because McDonagh was smart enough to cast him.
It opens with a man sitting in a bath. The camera is moving in on him. It stops. He stops the taps. Did he hear something? Starts the taps again. The camera begins to move again. Taps off. Camera stops… It’s a simple, maybe obvious, thing to do. (An old slasher movie technique?) But, it introduces the level of tension that takes grip and does not let up for the est of the film.
He has heard something, next we see him busting naked out of the bathroom window. He is the intruder. He is Dwight. A man not just itinerant, but who has tried to completely erase himself from the world. He is informed that a man is to be released from prison. At which point he puts the car he has been living in (the ruin of the title) back on the road and heads out looking for revenge.
Blair Macon at the centre of the movie, as Dwight, is brilliant. This is a man so broken and beaten he makes William H Macy look like John Wayne. He’s on screen every scene of the film, and despite being such a nothing, manages to hold your attention for the duration. It’s quite remarkable.
Plot-wise there’s nothing staggeringly original in here. It’s one of the most intense cinematic experiences I’ve had in a while. From that opening scene until the inevitably bloody climax.
I’m now going to seek out Saulnier’s first movie Murder Party.