Friday, December 08, 2006

Xfm Winter Wonderland

Normally I hate being seated at a gig, but after the week I've had (what was it that my mother used to say about burning the candle at both ends?), I have to confess that part of me is glad that we're up in the circle.

Rushing back from work, I pick up Stuart, Karen and Ray and the four of us head for the Apollo. A 6pm start isn't normal for a gig, but with a line-up like this to fit in...

Having grabbed a pint (diet coke for the designated driver), we take our seats at around 6.10pm. Seems we've already missed the Xfm Rock School winners Billion Babies (what a shame...if only we'd hurried more...), but presumably no more.

Soon enough local hero Clint Boon is on stage introducing the next act Little Man Tate. I've liked what I've heard of their stuff so far, they seem to be following well in the nice line of keenly observational lyrics from the New Yorkshire scene and they do a pretty good job of warming up the slowly growing crowd.

Hot on their heals are the Rakes, who improve as their set unfolds, but at times they do seem to err rather close to pastiche of various 80's acts. The nice thing though is that both groups are given a reasonable time allowance and we get a decent set from both.

Next another first for me at the Apollo, the arrival of a safety curtain.

Cunningly this allows the stage to be reset, whilst the entertainment keeps rolling via acoustic sets in front of the curtain.

Liam Frost enjoys something of a local cult status and his short set confirms why. In fact the beauty of his songs is only spoilt by the high-pitch, non-stop yapping of the two stupid bints sat to my right, who clearly have no interest in Liam's offerings.

After song after song has been ruined by their incessant yaking, urged on by Karen, I eventually summon up all my courage and do that very un-English thing of saying something: "I'm really sorry if you think I'm being rude, but could I possibly ask if you could talk a little quieter, or maybe you'd be happier in the bar?".

At which point the couple in front turn round and add their own reinforcement and to be fair the girls tone it down. A bit at least.

The safety curtain lifts and it's time for local legend in his own beanie hat, Damon Gough, or as Boonie introduces him: Badly Drawn Bloke.

The beauty of his songs hits me again, as they seem to each time I see him live. By the time we get to Silent Sigh, the worries of my week have disappeared and the melodies are just washing over me.

Again the safety curtain descends and John Power performs an acoustic set.

It must be hard to be forever overshadowed by the album you made with a group fifteen years, but I fear on the evidence presented tonight that shadow isn't about to be eclipsed by a new light just yet.

Next the Magic Numbers take to the stage and as ever, win the hearts of all who look on. It's such a pleasure to see and hear a band so musically tight. They really bring their song to life - definitely a band to catch live.

About two bars into the Manic's opener of You Love Us, I realise I'm in full agreement. I love this band - why have I left it so long since I last saw them live?

Ok they'll never be the band I saw in the early 90s (Richey will forever leave an unfillable hole), but much of the anger and energy is still there. Older, wiser, but still fiery and still able to kick some serious rock and roll arse.

What a band and what a way to finish one of the best gigs of the year. As balloons filled with confetti snow are unleashed on the audience (oh Wayne what have you started), I'm one happy punter (and am only slightly puzzled as to what happened to others that were supposed to be on the bill such as Mumm-ra).

Hopefully the night also raised a shed load for Shelter.

And what better way to round off the evening but a trip to our favourite curry house...mmmmm...Punjab.

1 comment:

sally said...

sounds like a perfect evening....only problem is, I wasn't there!!!!