11 October – British Sea Power are one of many bands that I think I should like but I’ve never warmed to the tracks I’ve heard. When they’re announced as the support for the Manic Street Preachers I make the rare effort to turn up early to see them. It’s well worth it. They sound familiar but unique at the same time and give the MSP something to follow.
Unlike most bands with a twenty year career the Manic Street Preachers are still producing songs worth hearing. The five selections from their current album Postcards From A Young Man that they play tonight stand comparison with their ‘classics’. It’s an excellent double bill at the Leeds O2 Academy.
BSP Setlist: Pyrex; Waving Flags, Great Skua, Remember Me, Canvey Island; Apologies To Insect Life; No Lucifer; The Spirit Of St Louis; Carrion.
MSP Setlist: You Love Us; Your Love Alone Is Not Enough; Motorcycle Emptiness; (It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love; Jackie Collins’ Existential Question Time; Roses In The Hospital; Postcards From A Young Man; This Is Yesterday; Everything Must Go; Autumnsong; Some Kind of Nothingness; Motown Junk; Hazelton Avenue; If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next; Stay Beautiful (acoustic); You Stole The Sun (acoustic); Faster; From Despair To Where; Golden Platitudes; Suicide Is Painless (Theme from M*A*S*H); Masses Against The Classes; Tsunami; Design For Life.
14 October – Another regular event for me is to go see The Charlatans sell their latest album,this year it’s Who We Touch. This time I don’t turn up early for the support as I never much liked The Happy Mondays or Black Grape so the idea of seeing Shaun William Ryder is not an attraction! I do like the Charlies though and tonight they’re up to the usual high standard, playing crowd favourites such as Weirdo and Can’t Get Out Of Bed as well as a fair selection from the new album. One thing I admire about them in particular is their refusal to simply beat one idea to death, every album tries something new, and that may be a major factor in their longevity.
19 October – In comparison I’ve never seen Gurf Morlix but he won the Americana Award as Instrumentalist Of The Year in 2009 and the show is promoted by the excellent Hee Haw Sessions so I’m prepared to take a chance. An inspired decision! Upstairs@Santiago in Leeds is a suitably intimate venue for one man and his guitar. As well as his latest album Happyland he’s also pushing an album he played on in 1979 and 1980 by the legendary Blaze Foley, Cold, Cold World. It appears that the tapes were thought lost but a ‘safety copy’ was uncovered in 2006 and it was finally released. I’d like to hear some of these songs played with a band but until finances allow that to happen, this solo format will suit me fine.
29 October – I can’t remember how I first came across Crooked Still but I’m glad I did! They’re a five piece with an unusual instrumental line up: vocals, fiddle, cello, banjo and upright bass and they play on the border of Bluegrass and Americana. The one thing there’s no getting away from is the similarity of sound between vocalist Aoife O’Donovan and Alison Krauss, but thankfully there are subtle differences that prevent her being an impressionist. Well worth seeing.
31 October – Although they played The Wardrobe in Leeds 4 days earlier, I had tickets for Sean Lock that night so it was a trip to a new venue, for me, The Deaf Institute in Manchester to see The Duke & The King on this tour.
After a very short support set from Gabriel Minnikin, pleasant but unexceptional, we’re all ready for the main attraction. Although all their equipment is in place it then takes TD&TK fifty minutes to take the stage. This does not endear them to the audience and seems to imply an out of character contempt, as no reason for the delay is given when they finally appear.
They quickly win the audience back though with a fine performance. This is the third time I’ve seen them in just over a year so, good as they are, I’m grateful there’s material from their new album to hear.
I managed to squeeze in some comedy shows this month. Stewart Francis at the Grand Opera House in York was a disappointment. Some funny lines but not enough and the show was too short. Kevin Bridges at The West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, was much better. Young and still with a need to improve he is non the less very funny, particularly about the perils of being a young single man in Glasgow. Back to the Grand Opera House in York to see Sean Lock give a master class in observational comedy. Dealing with the absurdity of the mundane is a real skill and he is very, very good at it.
Fitted in a viewing of Winter’s Bone at The Hyde Park Picture House. This is a well made film telling a tale of hard life in rural Missouri as Ree Dolly, an excellent performance by 20-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, has to find her bail fleeing father to prevent her family being made homeless. Try and see it if you can.
To the Morley Literature Festival for In League With Literature to listen to writers Phil Caplan, Tony Collins, Ray French and Tony Hannan talk about their books and Rugby League. Really interesting despite one questioner persistently failing to grasp that the BBC don’t show more Rugby League because Sky had outbid them for the rights. Speaking of Tony Hannan, I’ve just finished his book Being Eddie Waring, which I unreservedly recommend to any Rugby League fan.