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Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern – Rough Trade In-store 26/1/09

At the risk of turning PM into a Hayman-only devotion zone fixed with Hefner curtains and pictures of his dogs everywhere while we mark homework that doesn’t exist for children that may or may not have crushes on us in the glow of Teen Wolf coming from the TV, here are some pictures of last night’s Rough Trade East in-store gig.

Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern

Hayman proved that, though he is wont to forgetting even his most recent and cementing lyrics, he has a surprising kineticism on stage. His records hardly plod, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that, live, they might accrue some of the gentility heard on disc. What we’re met with is a smart-arsed and thoroughly noisy, scratchy and impassioned yell through some of his finest moments. Caravan Song from Table For One gains new buoyancy here, even though he confuses the lyrics again, and the overwhelming impression is one of righteous desires sung by a man who’s continually ashamed of every one of those desires he has. 

Darren Hayman

Tunes from his latest concept album Pram Town (reviewed) are not dwelled upon, but they are all efficiently and sensitively performed. Big Fish is a minor beauty, its small-time sentiments played with maximum scope for emotional indignity – something Hayman has perfected more than maybe any songwriter of the last few decades. The only gripe (and there shouldn’t really be any, it’s free…) is that the audience laugh when Hayman compares far-off locales to his own Walthamstow. Why laugh? It’s sung with such earnestness.

Visit Darren here. You probably already have, he’s just the best… You can also see what he’s been up to this past week in a wee chat we had.


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Dark Captain Light Captain – London 100 Club 12/11/08

Dark Captain Light Captain – London 100 Club 12/11/08

Dark Captain Light Captain 

Touring their extremely good and many-layered debut LP Miracle Kicker, Dark Captain Light Captain appear to have grown not only in number (from two to six) but also in dynamic range. Their sound was once almost tiny – not in anyway wimpish – and certainly not as explosive as they now appear to be. The nucleus still appears to be original duo Dan Carney and Neil Kleiner, however, pulsing and juddering respectively as they have at the sweltering and very crimson 100 Club.

 Dark Captain Light Captain

The majority of Miracle Kicker is aired this evening, with the particularly jaunty Jealous Enemies standing out (and garnering a bizarre wailing sing-along). Because of the intricacy of the band’s material, some clarity is lost in the mix and Kleiner’s electronic noodlings seem a little under-represented (and what happened to the clarinet?!), but this is ably compensated by the new verve and direction that the band’s live show has gained. They all sweat and shudder an awful lot, resulting in such athletic kineticism as to render all memory of the recordings, for the time being, void.

 Dark Captain Light Captain

Heroically, quite a substantial amount of the intricacy and consideration that makes those recordings special is traceable even amongst this relative chaos. Dan Carney’s guitar lines are woven quite delicately amongst the occasional fury of the rest of his band, but never resulting in the muddying of a gesture. Robot Command Centre and B-side Mid-Session Interval see DCLC at the closest to their original two-pieced incarnation, with tastefully organised and executed extras added along the way. It is because of this duality, this sometime subsidence of detail for energy and vice-versa, that the band succeeds in the live setting. One step too far into either camp might derail the whole operation, and it is to their credit that this never once happens.

Visit the band at their MySpace, here.

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Seu Jorge – Camden Roundhouse 30/10/08

Seu Jorge

Anyone attending the Camden Roundhouse this evening expecting an unchallenging evening’s entertainment from ‘they guy who sings Portuguese David Bowie songs’ has probably had their perceptions somewhat reversed by Seu Jorge and his twelve-strong latin-funk ensemble. Though those Bowie songs do make an appearance, Jorge has the sense to sandwich them (only two) mid-set, and to make them stripped affairs, quiet reminders of his most recognisable work.

His remaining work, though, may be unrecognised by some assembled. In truth, there is a massively diverse crowd in attendance, and snatches of many different languages can be overheard all evening. Jorge’s studio albums form a dazzlingly energetic, cool and occasionally considered oeuvre, with new addition America Brasil contributing an extremely clever duality in sound and gesture to it. Is he mocking North America, or just using a few of her tricks to contemporize his sound? The influence of North American pop and funk on 1970s Brazil is well-documented, and previous records have seen Jorge fuse this with his defiant favela aesthetic, but new songs tonight have the actual musical devices favoured by the likes of Stevie Wonder.

Piercing harmonica, rock rhythms and much simpler chord structures pervade much of this, with America Du Norte standing out as probably the most effective new statement. Favourites from Jorge’s Cru and Carolina albums are given either fiery life with excess horns (and, incidentally, valve trombone… rare!) or sensitive deployment by Seu Jorge alone. These moments of quiet are most effective, forcing through simple logic and respect an entire crowd to hush up for once. Indeed, preconceptions are challenged wholly this evening – that staple of the hellish over-indulgence, the percussion solo section, is tackled with such fun and genuine enjoyment from its three battling tambourines that it renders the previously hushed crowd utterly jubilant in time for Jorge’s return.

His hired hands appear to be a great deal more attuned than the average band of session musicians, intermittently jiving and jumping with enviable glee – oh, to be in Jorge’s band! The delirious level of fusion, mocking or indebted to American culture as it may be (you decide), has not become musically confusing, more it has taken the very best rhythmic and melodic traits and made them unmissable and loveable – far from the preserve of the middle-aged roots fan, Seu Jorge has made cultural conflict into brilliant entertainment.

Visit Seu Jorge here!






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ATP Release The Bats 2008 – Pictures!

ATP’s second annual Halloween bash makes a welcome return to London this evening, with a mixed line-up and even more mixed results.


First on the bill by necessity rather than repute, Lightning Bolt‘s legendary ‘stage’ presence is felt as soon as the early queuers enter the Kentish Town Forum’s main arena, with nothing but a drum kit and several huge bass amplifiers set up on the floor on front of the raised stage. Drummer Brian Chippendale (dressed as a sort of phallic Spongebob Squarepants) and bassist Brian Gibson (dressed as, seemingly, a robot stegosaurus) lend the assembled the benefit of their experience and are reassuringly terrifying. They pause only to fiddle with equipment, and happily spend most of the time totally wailing – Chippendale from a microphone stuck to his face, Gibson from the only melodic interest of his bass. Also, check out the drumstick wounds on Chippendale’s leg from TOO MUCH ROCK.


Pissed Jeans and Wooden Shjips pass in the night…


Les Savy Fav (above), however, are keen to have fun. It’s a continually attainable rebellion that they present – not quite bludgeoning enough to go down in history, but fun enough to be a talking point for some time. It’s almost certainly not their intention to be anything more than that, and they clearly are having insane fun being dressed as zombie policemen. Tim Harrington tries to get into trouble with security and jumps around while slapping himself (covered in blood), and it’s quite a success.


Taking the dressing-up high watermark to a whole new level are Shellac, with Steve Albini’s mummy costume being very surprising indeed. Furthermore, Bob Weston’s consistent maintenance of his Frankenstein’s monster character extends to hilariously groaning throughout songs and silences. Shellac, it seems, are another band having a tremendous time this evening. They are still Shellac, though, so the order of the day is telepathic musical interaction and the victorious loser’s anthem Prayer To God being chanted very loudly by the crowd. It’s exemplary stuff, even if the frivolity of the occasion makes for a confusingly fun and dark evening on the whole.

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