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Concert Review: Yeah Yeah Yeas//Alexandra Palace//London, UK//4 May 2013

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Hello kids,

Well it’s really been a while since I did a concert review so excuse me as I am feeling a little rusty.

I woke up Saturday morning to a very sore throat and panic as the realization hit me that I may miss the long-awaited I’ll Be Your Mirror festival curated by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Luckily after some serious sleeping and medication I pulled myself away from my bed and headed to the mansion on a hill that is Alexandra Palace.

Taking the bus up the hill, I couldn’t help but smile as I was greeted by a most perfect sunset of fluorescent pink and purple light exploding through the cracks of the clouds – a strange mirror of the extreme colours of the new album cover just released last month Mosquito.

Enter Palace, past the massive palm trees that are planted INSIDE and survive due to the glass ceilings and to the front of the stage I go awaiting for the start of the show.

And a show it was. The crowds tighten up, the lights dim, and the atmosphere builds and then screams as the three YYY lighten up on the backboard. Karen – O enters the stage glittering from head to toe. She looks like a shiny Elvis/wizard of Oz inspired monkey/mad hatter creature. Sparkly top hat, sparkly eyes, massive glasses, sparkly jacket, sparkly western style pants and then some black wings attached to her back. All you can do is look at her. Which is fine to the rather shy Brian Chase and Nick Zinner clad in black from head to toe.

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They open with the new single Sacrilege and although I’m ecstatic at the sound of this brilliant single live – however I just can’t help but be disappointed at the lack of a gospel choir breaking onto stage to accompany the chorus. Oh well next time. Karen –O’s voice quality makes up for it just fine, with major diversity from almost shrill cutting sounds to beautifully ballad delivery, she does it all. Although to my taste sometimes a tiny bit too soft (dear Mr sound engineer pump her volume up!).

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That led us right into Karen’s first spitting water into the air (her new favourite trick which she repeated several times) and then changing glasses into Mosquito-inspired one to naturally get into Mosquito the one song I do not enjoy on the album but had its place live. The shrillness was subdued and it served the purpose of mood setting. The costume changes continued throughout the show, hat off, wings off, famous-personally-tailored-leather-jacket on which at the end was swapped for a red cape. Karen really looked like a character from a rodeo – I was just waiting for her to rip her what seemed like strip pants off – but alas not.

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The show was a good mix of light and shade, with some slower songs (Despair) and some good old upbeats crowd jumpers (Bang, Zero, Y Control, Miles Away) and whatever you want to call Soft Shock (just brilliance of a song). The light and shade was taken to the literate sense for Under The Earth (my favourite from the new album) where the lights dimmed down and Karen sported a head lights which she used to discover the crowd.

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We had more than just the songs to keep us entertained – there was also a giant eye ball bouncing around which the crowd adored and caused massive booing when it was confiscated from us after nearly taking out the drummer. As well as occasionally canons of Y shapped glitter. And of course with the luxury of being at the front of the crowd: massive mosh pit activity, feet stomping, song shouting, survival clinging, crowd surfing disasters and drunken girls singing to the wrong song. I love concerts in London.

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All of this came to a necessary fake end on Heads Will Roll (another favourite). But of course the crowd screamed for more. And back on they came with the famous Maps while everyone sang along. And then their favourite close Date with the Night from their very first album.

Karen ended the show using the mike first to pull across her throat, then using it as a sword to puncture her heart and then finally several rounds of her spinning above her head (the rodeo western feel continues) and banging it across the stage. A quite literal bang to a show.

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And finally with Brian’s 5 second of fame as he got off his drum set and shyly bowed down with his long wavy hair at the audience and Nick took a couple of photos of the audience.

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And that was that. The wizard of Oz journey had ended and instead of some ruby shoes all we had left was some sparkly Y glitter.

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Song of the day: Swinging around a Palace

Hello kids,

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So I completely forgot to tell you about my Saturday night. So I was happily dragged to a last minute concert last weekend to none other than the Salle des Fêtes de ThônexI have no idea what the venue looks like normally, but we arrived a bit late and the venue was packed and honestly it resembled a huge high school gym, with the coat room being full so coats stashed everywhere and their make shift bar. And the ambience (and smell) was that of a high school dance – hundreds of people going nuts. But really nuts. I’m sorry what? This is Geneva – what is going on? Enthusiasm, like real enthusiasm – people going crazy. Is Thonex some crazy twilight zone for music that no one told me about. Well I was impressed.

So anyways all the oohing and aahing was definitely justified – they’re name is Caravan Palace. And boy does this group know how to put on a show. They have all the great connotations of ENTERTAINERS. In the sense that not only was the music world class (very NB) but they were performing it with so much energy and personality the room was glowing. These guys run, jump and dance around the stage. All of them have the biggest smiles on their face as if they are having the time of their life, and allowing you to join in. Towards the end the wonderful lead singer Zoe shouted out: We are going to hell, are you coming with? It’s so hot in here I think we are all going together.

Caravan Palace is a French electro swing gypsy jazz band from Paris. I’m taking this from wiki but apparently the three founding member met while making soundtracks to silent pornographic films. That sentence was too good for me to leave it out. Well its been up, up and away for them ever since. They exploded with their hit single Jolie Coquine, so much so that they were invited to play at Olympia (a dream of all French bands). Now they are back with a second album Panic which will be released on the 5th of March.

Here is the first single off that album: Dramophone

I haven’t seen such a fun video in a while. It just makes you want to go back to the old days and DANCE.

SAZZZZY SISTERS.

Concert Review: The XX//Salle Metropole//Lausanne, Switzerland//1 December 2012

So it is no secret to anyone that I adore The XX. I have given them out several times as song of the day and I even wrote a special long review of their new album because I enjoyed it so much. I also reviewed their performance at Open’er Festival. However both times that I have seen them has been a festival (the other time was Primavera 3.5 years ago). So it was good to finally catch them at their own dedicated show.

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The concert was held at Salle Metropole in Lausanne. It was my first time there and I was quite surprised that they had invited the XX. The venue is reserved for big shows (Cirque du Soleil) and classical concerts. I was expecting more a venue like Les Docks for this type of band. But I think that after the huge success of their first album, serious money was pumped into their second tour and they probably needed a venue with high technical offering to fully maximize all their equipment.

The venue foyer is beautiful, there are three levels and large circular holes in the middle of each of them with a massive light. It really gives a grand theatre Titanic-era glow to the place. It’s one of those venues with a standing floor and a seated upper level for concerts, just like Olympia (Paris). And to be fair although I struggle with the task of sitting during a concert, the XX is a type of concert some people may feel more comfortable sitting to enjoy.

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The show started in a beautiful gloomy atmosphere with a thin black curtain covering them and a white visual being projected onto it. However a close claustrophobic faint situation unfortunately made me miss the first two songs so I cannot comment more.  Anyways two minutes to gulp some water, take in some fresh air and I’m back in to find a pretty vibing crowd for Switzerland standards. People are cheering the band and I’m impressed that we managed a semi enthusiastic crowd. The first song to really strike me is Our Song, the last one off their new album Co-exist.

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That is a secret favourite of mine. It really accentuates how raw and vulnerable Romy and Oliver make themselves when they sing from the very bottom of their body. It also highlights just how much they are the masters of minimalism. I’m sure I’ve written this several times but this band really makes every single song so incredibly perfect, clear, and impactful. They are also the kings of control. Songs start generally slow, speed up, beat up, build up, crescendo but never quite get out of control or break loose. It may be this beautiful restraint that gives The XX their signature sound. That and the BOOMING base that they love to abuse so that the entire ceiling, lights and every bone in your body vibrates.

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Just like in Open’er this show accentuates is just how much Jamie Smith (known as Jamie XX) has grown and how important his contribution is to the group has become. Not only did Jamie create the majority of the beats LIVE on the millions of machines and instruments he had layered out behind the two vocalists/guitarists, he also mixed and interlinked song to song in a completely original way. This made it possible to really feel we were living a unique experience as songs were tweaked; their tempo and accents mixed up and stitched into each other, keeping the audience on their toes.

On a few songs (Reunion, Swept Away) Jamie finally literally got the limelight he deserved when a huge spot lit up above him to bring clarity to his important contribution. I was hypnotized by his fingers moving all over some magic buttons during Hearts Skipped a Beat. However I was shocked he did not come centre stage at the end to partake in a proper bow.

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Although Jamie received more attention than in the past, the star of the show was Oliver. His confidence has grown immensely from when I first saw him, just after the release of their first album. He struts backwards and forwards on the stage, throws his body in different angles, and continues to have his signature way of playing his bass guitar: in a very swinging flowing motion almost creating an eight as he strums the strings. His voice is as powerful yet clear as ever. However although Romy nailed every single guitar solo to the split second and mesmerized us all with the vulnerability in her voice, she hid in the shadows in this performance.

But the most amazing addition to the show was by far the LIGHTING. WOW. To begin with the XX’s music is naturally mystical, their look is dark and mysterious and even listening to them in my room takes me to another magical land. But boy did they maximize this with the lighting. At first very simple and gloomy: mainly black and white. The engineers know not to underestimate the power of shadows. They then added three very powerful ‘windmill’ type of lights cutting the stage horizontally and made us standing crowd feel like we were in a dark marsh. The light then turn vertically and created waves of light that Oliver danced through. Very effective. Slowly they introduced colours. First a sunset ray feel, then some very powerful green rays that broke on the singers head. It really felt like being on a different planet.

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This came to a climax and the end of the first part when a curtain was lifted to reveal a huge X at the back of the stage. The crowd cheered like mad. Then the band disappeared off the stage as the huge X filled up with smoke. Surprisingly enough they came back up for an encore (something I have never seen them do) to the relief of the screaming crowd. The encore was long 5 maybe 6 songs and by the end of the show they must have played nearly every song on the two albums. Oliver continued to assure us in his calm, near depressed voice that they were very happy to be here with us. Although it’s hard to feel it in his spoken voice, we all heard it in their singing, in their instruments, in their presence and in the atmosphere created that they had generously and sincerely gave us a little part of their magical far away land.

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Song of the day: I always want the things that I can’t have

Hello kids,

So I know I promised to give you the second good news of the week. But right now I’m still stuck on Citizens!

I am so incredibly excited for Thursday night’s concert.
I hope to see you all there.
Here is (I’m in Love With Your) Girlfriend.

MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day

Song of the day: She Said! She Said! Take me with you

Hello kids,

So this week is an exciting music week. First of all because on Thursday there is Citizens! playing at L’Usine here in GENEVA and second of all will come tomorrow. Yes that is right, for once you don’t have to go all the way to Lausanne for great live music.

SO YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE (apart from the fact that the tickets will sell out soon) to finally go and watch live music just like I have recommended so many times! So hurry up and buy tickets here and see what all the fuss is about.

So that name should ring a bell, as I gave you their first single Reptile in the past. That hot single was enough of a big deal for them to be called out as Top 20 most exciting band for 2012 by NME last year with Franz Ferdinand helping them out produce some songs.

So if that is not enough reasons to go, have a listen to my favourite on the album that for some reason has not got enough attention She Said, and I’m sure it will win you over

 MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day

Concert Review: Julia Stone//The Rocking Chair//Vevey//11 October 2012

Charming.

That’s the one word I would use to describe last night’s concert. I would recommend Julia Stone as the official definition for this adjective on Wikipedia. Or something of that type.

Let’s start from the beginning. First the venue: The Rocking Chair in Vevey. Vevey?!? I hear you ask. That’s right. This beautiful ghost town does occasionally do more than reminisce about the good old days of Charlie Chaplin and act as a Pleasantville for Nestle employees.

Earlier this year it hosted the wonderful Nox Orae festival which I raved about a lot. And again it had the pleasure of hosting the grace of Julia Stone. It’s a small intimate room but they seem to manage to get some serious gems. And I am sucker for small intimate concerts so did me just fine.

Anyways, so the concert started with the supporting act named Paul Thomas Saunders. At first as he peacefully strum his guitar and sang to a slow sad song accompanied by his blond bangs shy vocal companion the first thing I thought is, he’s got a great clear voice. But then to be honest it all just merged into one very depressive 30 minutes all about heartbreak and disaster and the girls which he use to like when he was 16 (when he seems only to be 17). It really peaked when I was starting to think that slitting my wrist was what he was trying to get me to do and he began a song with lyrics along the lines of: today is a good day my father died today. I realized at this point it’s too much for me. There was no variety, it was all very sad and with only a guitar to add something to the atmosphere and it all ended up being flat.

Hopefully as he grows up he’ll learn to develop his talent with a little more light and shade and depth.

Now onto Julia. Oh darling Julia. I had seen her about a year ago with her brother Angus at D!Club in Lausanne (you might know their famous Big Jet Plane, which surprisingly enough she did not sing). And they had been such a sweet duo. Angus, brilliant and shy and Julia skipping around the stage and melting everyone’s heart with her endearing personal stories and adorable geek style giggle. Even though they sang a couple songs together it was clear already back then that they were more two solo acts using each other for a boost and companionship. So it was no surprise when Julia started touring on her own this year.

Nothing much has changed, Julia is still as cute as ever. However the added sound of a 3 piece band behind her is really powerful and complementary (especially the piano – although I have a bias). She starts with a sweet charming song and then second up ahead is what I came to watch. She sang Blood buzz Ohio, a cover of The National. As I hold The National on a very high pedestal (and so does the general Indie public) I would be very wary of trying to cover the song. But she definitely does it justice and does what every good cover tries to achieve: she makes it her own, it’s different, it’s new, it’s original. And she delivers it oh so powerfully.

Talking of covers she also does her famous Greece cover of You’re the One that I want that is oh so cool. She also does a solo on the piano of one of her older song called Chocolates & Cigarettes that really shows of her raw talent. Her voice and her on the piano, amazing. Another highlight was the wonderful Let’s Forget All the Things That We Say and It’s all Okay.

I am once again amazed that her voice has such a distinct tone and resonance. Sometimes it seems that Julia’s voice is a cave and the sound echoes first in her mouth and then through the whole place. She makes it looks so easy to careless sing and put on a beautiful melodious show but every now and again she breaks from her sweet, innocent cartoon voice and really BELTS it out. And that’s when you realize just how much power and control her voice has and shivers go up my back.

She also still has her adorably sincere love stories. Julia doesn’t stop at bewildering our ears with each song, she steals our heart  in the breaks with her oh so honest and charming failed love stories. They mainly revolve around her feeling very strongly for a guy (lucky bastard in my opinion) which leads her to write a song for him. Then he either doesn’t understand it’s about him and sends her back a random song, or his new girlfriend shows up as she is about to perform it to him. Poor thing. However she so refreshingly admits and basks in her imperfection and embarrassing moments which is so rare in stars and singers these day, all interjected with her loud, uncontrollably geeky humor that we all can’t help but fall in love with her.

And so we all clap loudly after every song and especially just before the encore to get her back smiling and giggling back on the stage.

We tried a second time to convince her to come back, but didn’t manage.  So no Wasted for me.

And so as we drove back home with her resonating in our ears and pieces of our heart.

Song of the day: A trio of brilliance

Hello kids,

So I will not lie that I am quite excited for the Radiohead concert tonight. I still have one spare ticket so shout if you want it. So give me a shout if you decide not the miss what will be the best concert ever.

But not only is Radiohead playing tonight, which is already quite a lot to handle. But also FOUR TET and CARIBOU. Both amazing bands.

Today let’s talk about Caribou. So Dan Snaith has been around since the early 2000 creating some undeniably catchy electro beats. However it was first under the name Manitoba, but then after a little trademark issues he renamed it to Caribou. The sound he had been producing had been pretty consistent and appreciated by critics.

But then after an already highly successful launch of Andorra in 2007, Caribou came back in 2010 to blow everyone out of the water. The album is called Swim, and musically drench my ears in this melodic liquid and frog about it in it I did. In my opinion top 3 album of 2010. And I don’t say that lightly.

And then I saw the whole ensemble (Dan has some friends with him now) live here at L’Usine about two years ago and I was blown away. The beauty of the album is all the intricate instrumental sounds that make this album so memorable. However you do hear a clear DJesk sound to it so I was scared a lot of the sound would be prerecorded since it is so highly rhythmically and instrumentally complex and that takes some serious concentration to perform it live. So all the artist stood in circle and I saw them bang those strange and wonderful instruments to create the most intricately beautiful melodies. Just an amazing performance.

I have already given you Odessa so here is Kaili

 MasMusic
I wish I could make a soundtrack to my life and breathe in the notes every day