Sleeper – Live!

20190413_204256044_iOS.jpgDespite loving their music I was a little late to the party to ever see them live in the 90’s so the opportunity to do so some twenty odd years later was too good to miss.  You may have noticed how much I gush over The it Girl album so it was a must-see gig.  Better still, their new album The Modern Age is brilliant too so that made it more exciting!

First support were a band I’d never heard before, Thyla. They were brilliant! So much so at the the end of their set I whipped out my phone and downloaded their new EP “What’s On Your Mind“. I won’t say much more now as I’m likely to be listening to it on repeat so i’m pretty sure they’ll end up in a post of their own. Second support were the Supernaturals. I was never a big fan of them in the 90’s but I do remember a few of their songs. They were good but not a highlight for me.

Finally Sleeper graced the stage for their last night of their UK tour.  It didn’t matter what they kicked off with but as soon as the keyboard hook boomed and the guitar riff kicked in for Nice Guy Eddie we were off! Mixing new songs with old, their energy was unstoppable.

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I would be happy to see them play whole of The it Girl from start to finish (twice) but there was enough of that album in the set list to satisfy, including Factor 41, which I didn’t expect to hear.  The new tracks sounded brilliant, the only omission for me being Car Into The Sea, but I am not complaining by any means.  It was a Sleeper party to dream of and Blondie’s Atomic spliced with Love Will Tear Us Apart, complete with disco balls, ramped it up even more.

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It was one of those concerts that you wished wouldn’t end just yet. The highlights for me were Statuesque (I flippin’ love that track!) and The Modern Age. Louise seemed overwhelmed by the response from the crowd who were having a whale of a time seeing them perform.  The band were on point, delivering what the crowd wanted with confidence and fun.  I’m pretty sure they loved it as much as we did so hope that means they will be back soon, because given the chance I will be there.

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The Police – Synchronicity

Bucket list #2. According to Karl Jung the theory of Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events with unrelated causes that are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful police-album-synchronicityway.  This could explain why The Police decided to record this album with each of them performing in separate rooms.  Either that or the rumours that they simply just couldn’t stand to be in the same place together were true! This was their last album as The Police and was critically acclaimed on its release in 1983. I have some Police hits already but on this album Stings voice can stretch from being highly emotive to mumbling boredom, and by the end of the album the latter is where it finds it way to for me. What stands out on this album all the way through is Stuart Copeland’s drumming which is great on every track. I kind of enjoyed some tracks but, although not terrible, by the end of the second playthrough I wasn’t compelled to play it again.  Have I got it wrong?

Standout track : Walking In Your Footsteps

Keep or Delete? : Delete, I’ll stick with the greatest hits I think.

Sleeper – The Modern Age

SLEEPER-THE-MODERN-AGE-SLEEP19CD-800x800When a band reforms after over 20 years I think they have a tough challenge. There’s a certain amount of fan expectation of nostalgic recreation and some critical ears looking for something relevant. It’s a hard job to pull off and so I think any band in that position can only do one thing – what they enjoy. It is inevitable that The Modern Age will be compared to Sleeper’s previous three albums. Their second album, 1996’s The it Girl, is one of my favourite albums ever although I discovered it after Sleeper had split in 1998.  Their last, 1997’s Pleased to Meet You, and its singles didn’t reach the same chart heights as the first two but I actually think it’s a great album and demands more ear time if you haven’t listened to it.

I have been over-exciting myself for the past year waiting for their return to the recording studio to be completed and my excitement has not been in vain. Everything I love about Sleeper is here.   As a fan I know I am predisposed with a level of enjoyment but no longer are our tastes dictated by a 5 year microcosm of musical trend. People are more than ever entrenched in music of different era’s and although new sounds emerge some music just sounds good, and if it might be reminiscent of a particular style or era then so what?

So some will say Sleeper are just doing what they did in the 90’s, but what they did in the 90’s was really great and The Modern Age is a great collection of songs that get better with every listen however “fresh” you may or may not think it sounds.  The pacing drums, catchy guitar riffs and keyboard hooks are irresistible.  For me the lyrics have always been the most interesting part of Sleepers music and Louise Wener’s breathy vocals deliver the crafted lyrics wonderfully. Its a great album that gets better with every listen, and even if you don’t remember Sleeper the first time round The Modern Age is worth checking out, and you can find it here.

Standout track: Car Into The Sea

Tom Walker – Live!

Another legendary live event from Banquet Records saw Tom Walker basking in the glow of his number one debut album, What A Time To Be Alive. I wouldn’t have normally picked up his album but as I checked out the gig on the Banquet website I thought “Why not?”.  I admit it didn’t immediately grab me on first listen but his songs allow him to stretch both high and low, being equally engaging to listen to and more so live.  He was clearly thrilled with the albums reception and to be playing in London. He worked through his debut with real energy, his voice so much more powerful as you might expect from a live performance. His slightly growly delivery resonates with every note and clearly he writes and performs from the heart.   Leave A Light on blistered with emotion and one of the things I like about live performances is when the guitars kick in more than on record, and Tom Walker has a few to play with! I hope Tom enjoyed his first live outing in London because we certainly did.

Check out What A Time To be Alive here

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The Revolution – Live!

img_2580A few weeks ago one of my musical dreams came true when I got to see The Revolution live. Of course that we’re missing one particular element of their original configuration but having these five individuals on stage performing the songs that they helped create was amazing. Back in ’86 when Wendy, Lisa, Bobby Z, Brown Mark and Dr. Fink last performed in the U.K. I wasn’t really a Prince fan (my first Prince gig was seeing the Lovesexy tour in ’88) and so I never thought about seeing them until they were gone. The Revolution were more than “the baddest band in the universe”, as Prince once delighted in proclaiming on stage.  The Revolution era of Princes career is a particularity special one, as it is without doubt that without them we wouldn’t have seen the likes of the albums Purple Rain, Around The World in a Day or Parade as well as the multitude of other tracks that didn’t make those particular LP’s. Wendy & Lisa had a special collaborative relationship with Prince, providing many musical influences to his music that ranged from classical to pop.  To my mind the Revolution era, with its origins around ’82, it’s semi-officialdom in ’83 (with “dna eht noituloveR” appearing on the 1999 album cover), and it’s official beginning in 1984 (with the addition of Wendy to the band), provided music unmatched in Prince’s career.  It was always nice to dream that perhaps one day Prince would get the old band back together, and although it was indeed Prince who brought them together, it turned out to be for the worst ever reason.

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Opening with the classic line “Ladies and gentlemen, The Revolution” (from the Purple Rain film) the crowd understandably went nuts, and from song one it was party time.  If your a Prince fan, when you read the set list you will see why:

America
Computer Blue
Mountains
Take Me With U
Uptown
D.M.S.R.
17 Days
Raspberry Beret
Erotic City
Let’s Work
1999
Sometimes It Snows in April
Let’s Go Crazy
Delirious
Controversy
Head (Doctor Fink synthesizer solo)
Visions (Lisa Coleman piano solo)
Kiss
When Doves Cry
Purple Rain

Encore:
I Would Die 4 U
Baby I’m a Star

Oh my god! What a set of songs. They played 17 Days for goodness sake! One of my all time favourite tracks. Just to hear them go through these songs, one after the other, tune perfect – what a joy!  Of course there was tribute paid to the missing leader of the band with Wendy expressing the reasons for them getting back together as a catharsis, but this was a celebration no matter what the reason.  It was such a special night and one I had waited for with great anticipation. I wasn’t disappointed and I imagine anyone else there felt the same. Wendy promised a return to London to play “deeper cuts” which makes the prospect of them coming back even more exciting.  I can’t wait!

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Kanye West – The College Dropout

I like hip hop and rap but I don’t really download any artists albums, although I do have kanyeseveral individual tracks from artist like Kanye West. I like the tone of his voice and the rhythm of his delivery which are obviously important elements to rap, but hip hop artists are diverse and different styles don’t appeal in the same way.  There are some interesting tracks on this album but the problem for me is that after a while it just gets boring. With albums you do get duff tracks but listening to 40 minutes of this album it just starts to get a bit dull. Maybe I haven’t found the right hip hop album yet but there are more coming on the bucket list. I enjoyed bits of it but was kinda glad when it finished.

Standout track : The New Workout Plan

Keep or delete? Delete. Sorry Kanye.

Metallica – Metallica (The Black Album)

So here we go, album number 1 of my 100 Album Bucket List!  The 1991 self-titled metallica-black-albumMetallica, also called the Black Album due to its cover, is Metallica’s biggest selling album to date. It also marks a shift in their sound from thrash to a less-frantic heavy metal. I have picked up this album numerous times while browsing record store shelves thinking it was Prince’s infamous Black Album, but it’s the first Metallica music to hit my music collection.  I was expecting not to like this album, but I think the fact it is less of a thrash metal album makes it more likeable.  Blistering guitar solo’s and some good heavy rock make this an enjoyable listen.  Is it iconic? Not to me, but it must have done something right to be their biggest seller.

Standout track : Enter The Sandman

Keep or Delete? Keep. Nice to have a bit more heavy rock in my music collection!