Sometimes when I go to see a band that has been together for ages it can be a great event. The memories of gigs and songs from long ago come back and you end up reliving that time just for a couple of hours.
When I saw The Damned a couple of weeks ago it was a bit like that. These guys started out in 1976 and even after 35 years they bounced all over the stage and put on a real sing-a-long show full of their classics.
With New Order at the Brixton Academy last night it was a different story.
I really like New Order, they are an institution and legends of the Factory label in Manchester – in fact they bankrolled Factory and allowed many other bands from the area to get a start in life. They also avoided the heritage circuit – not that there is anything wrong in performing all your old songs for the fans, but there is a finality to that – acknowledging that your best days are in the past.
At the gig last night they felt old and tired. Gillian and Bernard have never really been all that animated, but it didn’t look like they were having fun. I think they really needed Hooky there to interact with the audience – the live experience is about more than just churning out the songs, a band needs to interact with the crowd for the concert to become a real experience.
They took ages to get going. ‘Regret’ was an early crowd-pleaser, but that was it. Their choice of songs didn’t seem to encourage the crowd to start enjoying the gig early on. By the time it got better we were one or two songs from the encore. And the encore was ‘Transmission’ and ‘Love will tear us apart’ by Joy Division. Great stuff, but why not include a New Order classic there too?
The sound was also pretty bad – mixed poorly so the vocals were hardly audible – singing and speaking. When Bernard did say something it was just a mumbled noise and when he was singing the guitars drowned him out completely, until the keyboards were used and then they drowned everything out.
So I left a bit disappointed. It was one of those shows where you expect a legendary band to behave like legends, but they just do a pretty average pub rock gig in a large venue. A shame really.
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Tagged academy, brixton, concert, gig, joy division, london, music, new order, o2, theatre, venue
I was at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Wednesday night to see Rodrigo y Gabriela. I saw them three years ago supporting Muse at Wembley stadium, and I was impressed, but in such a cavernous arena and as the first of several support acts, it was always going to be hard for them.
But in a smaller venue, and as the headline act, they were stunning. A friend of mine saw them recently and he was seriously impressed, even though he had never heard of them before the show. I can understand why. Not only are they incredibly talented guitarists, they are friendly, approachable, charming with their on-stage banter – even in slightly broken English – and not just your average run-of-the-mill Latin guitarists. These guys seriously know how to play, but also how to charm an audience.
After performing two songs, Rodrigo announced that this was the setlist finished for the evening. They now had no fixed plan and would play whatever songs felt right, or whatever the crowd called for. Immediately a shout went out from the crowd and the duo responded. It was a fantastic way to organise the show, and with 5 nights this week in London it would be possible to come and see them several times in a week with the show feeling fresh each time.
Their diverse influences even take in a significant amount of metal, and Rodrigo performed a long solo cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ with breaks from the main riff to take in some Slayer, Metallica, Pantera… etc… all on acoustic guitar.
Alex Skolnick (of thrash legends Testament) provides the support and is worth arriving early for – he also joined Rodrigo and Gabriela for a song featuring two acoustic and one electric guitars…
Including tonight, they are in London for three more shows. Make sure you see them because this is the last tour before a long rest and recording the next album…
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Tagged 11:11, alex skolnick, concert, empire, gabriela, gig, guitar, latin, london, mexican, music, o2, rodrigo, shepherds bush, testament