Monday, 22 February 2016

Gig Review - City And Colour Brighton 18th Feb 2016

Mrs F, Daughter-of-Furtheron and your truly went to see City and Colour down at the seaside last week.  This was mostly a Daughter-of-Furtheron driven gig as she's been a big Dallas Green fan since he set out on his solo material.  I remember sticking my head into her room some years back and said "Who is this?  I like it."  She explained who Dallas was, I knew of Alexisonfire and therefore I wasn't expecting this acoustic alt country/folk singer/songwriter stuff.  Since then we've both been fans.  Interestingly my daughter prefers his earlier stuff and I've been the one buying the last three recent albums.  As he has grown the City and Colour thing has become more a band setting live and in the studio and he has grown from the alt.country/folk roots to more alt.indy soft rock.

So the band kicked off with Woman the opener from the latest album If I Should Go Before You.  Now there is a stunning opener - it builds and roars and soars and Dallas voice holds you in both it's authority and vulnerability.  Honestly I think the guy is blessed with one of the greatest voices on the planet in that he has this stunning vulnerability without it losing it's place in the music at all and holding a certain authority that allows him to portray his own brand of melancholy that run through much of his material.

Much of the set was from the latest album but he also did delve back into his back catalogue and the further you went back through Little Hell and further there was a significant difference in the songs.  Dallas has re-imaged the songs from the earlier catalogue around the latest band structure, strengths and sounds so they sounded bigger, broader and more band orientated.  All totally in a great way - I thought it a highlight of how those songs were re-imagined.

For the encore Dallas reappeared with acoustic guitar on his own and we were back into his country/folk roots before the band returned for a stunning closing on one of my favourite tracks of his "Hope for Now" from Little Hell and if you know that track you'll know when the band crashed in soaring with distorted guitars, drums, bass etc. rising and rising a crescendo and slow let down.

Brilliant Brilliant gig.   Dallas voice is actually better live than on record - how is that possible?!

First time any of us had been to the venue, Brighton Dome, which was very good and whilst I didn't see any issues my wife said the security did efficiently and speedily deal with some issues in the stand crowd beneath us.  I'd recommend the circle seats there as we had a great view.  However driving into Brighton was a nightmare, it's been some years since I've driven there and frankly the road changes to give buses priority have made it a disaster.

The one whole downer was my tinnitus being a hassle throughout the day and the gig.  I wore earplugs throughout which helped so at least the music was rarely painful but I can't deny it did interfere as it so often does now.

I should give a shout out too to Lucy Rose who was the superb support artist.  Not someone I've ever heard before but she has a good style and sound and great songwriting.  Finally the audience should be applauded also for especially during Lucy's set being incredibly respectful.  Too often I've been at gigs where everyone seems more intent on holding conversations that could wait for the journey home or the bar at the interval.  However Lucy played Shiver which is very quiet piece in places - you could hear a pin drop as the audience respected the performance - well done Brighton I salute you.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Book Review - The King's Assassin Angus Donald

The latest instalment on the journey of Sir Alan Dale.  Angus has throughout this series clever woven the legend and myth that is Robin Hood and his merry men into the true events during the late 12th and early 13th century.

In this latest instalment we find Sir Alan returned from the siege at Ch√Ęteau Gaillard even more despondent with King John than ever.  He has good reason given what he witnessed in the previous instalment and of course with Sir Alan having been a one-time great friend and co-composer of legendary songs with King Richard the Lionheart King John will never meet up to his expectations.  But he returns to find his lands taxed beyond what he can afford and the latest Sheriff of Nottingham determined to extract as much from the area as possible.

Against this background whilst supporting the King's latest attempts to reclaim lost territory in France which comes to eventual failure at the Battle of Bouvines Alan foolishly agrees to help some of the angry barons rid the kingdom once and for all of King John.   Needless to say history dictates that Alan fails but then Angus weaves Robin Hood into the story of the signing of one of the most important documents in the history of England, the Magna Carta.

I like this series despite the odd historical inaccuracy here and there for dramatic effect they are great readable historical thrillers with plenty of guts and gore and intrigue.  Indeed whilst I part guessed one guilty party in the intrigues the other I only realised late in the day so suspense was maintained for me through a lot of the book.  We are promised one more outing with Sir Alan and Robin Hood in the last of the series soon.  I certainly will look forward to it.

Definitely a two thumbs up in the FITUBRS*

* Furtheron International Thumbs Up Book Review Scale -
lowest is both thumbs down with a frown
two thumbs down,
one thumb horizontal,
two thumbs horizontal,
one thumb up,
two thumbs up
two thumbs up with a grin - very rarely awarded

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

NAMM 2016 - Vox Starstream

I spent an evening or two looking over the various videos on Youtube from NAMM 2016 to see what new stuff had been launched.  Sadly to say that it was a lot of "same old, same old".  Fender have new Elite versions - which are a revamped deluxe... yes nice but... still a Strat still a Tele...  Gibson seem keen to go on about their heritage and all that... hmm whilst the new nut and tuners are about you'll see most models have two versions one with the new gizmos and one without and traditional nut and tuners etc.  Also the huge discounts I've seen on 2015 models online recently makes you think good old Orville and Co realised that they'd pushed the envelope a bit too far for many of their buyers.

Yamaha - some new acoustics that are based on the old... etc. etc.  You get the picture.

However here was the shining light frankly.  Vox have come and go in the guitar market since their pioneering 60s models.  I remember some in the 70s/80s with Dimarzio pickups.  About 5 years ago a really innovative range of semi acoustics looked like they may get somewhere, they had some really innovative pickups.  However that range quietly disappeared  - see my comments above we guitarists are a terribly conservative bunch.  Look at my collection... Les Paul, Les Paul a like from Gordon Smith, Strat, Strat, Strat with humbuckers, Tele... etc.

What Vox have done is launched the biggest competition to the Line6 guitar range ever.  A modelling guitar with various models available.  Styling maybe too radical for many but the sounds are impressive.  Here's a demo video from Vox.  I've seen street (online) prices at under £600....  The synth sounds add another dimension too...