Ed’s… HIGHLIGHTS: Jan ‘12

So, Christmas is over. The crackers are cracked. The fine wine is nothing more than a stain, whilst memories of New Years Eve linger; onerous and unclaimed.

Ah the yuletide crash, you can hear it now. The soft chatter as a city scrapes the bowels of its sofa, desperate for spare change and serotonin. But never fear, dear hearts, only twelve more months to go…

And with that joyous introduction to the year, and its following sarcasm, I give you music for free.  Birmingham Jazz to the rescue, as their Rush Hour Blues promotion lines up weekly treats for gratis in the Symphony Hall Bar;  Steve Ajao Blues Band (Jan 6th), Mitch Perrins Quartet (Jan 13th), Chris Bowden Quartet (Jan 20th) and Nick Jurd Quartet (Jan 27th). If you see either Tony or Mary, give them a hug.

Also being kind to your pockets is the Town Hall itself, putting on Llama (Jan 19th) as part of their Folk For Free events (hugs at your own discretion).

But for those of you who’ve managed to scrooge a few sheckles (slight cross cultural reference), the Hare & Hounds have Kissmet (Jan 13th), Casio Kids (Jan 19th) and The Magic Tombolinos (Jan 25th). A pretty decent January line up and all for under a tenner. Each. They’re not Santa.

But the stonking start to the year comes three weeks in at the HMV Institute; Ben Ottewell aka that geezer from Gomez (Jan 20th), Jesus ‘Christ, really???’ Jones (Jan 27th @ The Temple), Wiley (Jan 27th @ The Library), The Maccabees (Jan 27th), Roots Manuva (Jan 30th) and Boyz II Men (Jan 31st).

Elsewhere it’s pretty hum drum doom or gloom. Although the O2 Academy has Novana – The UK’s ONLY Nirvana tribute band (Jan 21st), and the Solihull Arts Complex is promoting ‘The World’s Greatest Michael Jackson Tribute’ (Jan 27th).

Tough to think of more inappropriate acts to emulate really, shotguns and pedophilic court cases. Just image the encores. Happy New Year.

Follow Ed King at www.twitter.com/edking2210

PREVIEW: Weekend at… Birmingham Ballroom / She Screams Murder, Jan 6th & Karma Suite, Jan 7th

New Year’s Resolutions; save money, actually save money, exercise more, talk less, support local bands. One of these is achievable.

Taking on the bravest weekend of the year to promote ANYTHING, the Birmingham Ballroom is giving its first Friday/Saturday to a veritable sausage fest of local musicianship. One Indie, one Metalcore. Or as a dance festival poster would sell it; 9 men, 4 guitars, 2 bands and 1 stage.

And having spent much of last year adding to the stockpiled column inches of those whose 15 minutes are as subjective as a taxi driver’s estimation, the Birmingham Review is keeping good on at least one New Year’s promise. I mean really, exercise more?

Here’s a quick heads up to who, what and when:

She Screams Murder

She Screams Murder

She Screams Murder are a five piece Metalcore band from Brummigem, formerly known as the slightly more pleasant Serenity Lies Within. The police may be asking about the name change lads. As fresh as a new born baby – formed in early 2010, and just as loud, SSM already have a self released EP under their belt, and are planning another one quick smart.

Already picking up some local attention, and I’m cringing at the cliché I’m about to put down, 2012 could be a good year for them. Which they may well deserve (we’ll clarify this in the review) if for nothing else than their sterling work for charity at Brumstock 2010. A one day mini fest that saw bands including; Point Blank Fury, Tread The Blood, My Great Affliction & Leather Pig raise money for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Right…

Karma Suite

 

Karma Suite

With a worryingly depressed looking publicity shot, Karma Suite are a four piece Indie band from Birmingham. Although front man, Tom Swingler – who’s surname I want to steal by Deed Poll, sounds like he might be from a bit higher up the atlas (again, we’ll try and clarify this).

Drawing on a healthy mix of genres; Rock, Jazz & Folk, Karma Suite have been knocking about since 2009, but ‘making some noise in a series of energetic live shows throughout 2010’. They’ve ‘even put in a few festival appearances’, but the Birmingham Review couldn’t pin down what these were (…to clarify).

Stating ‘intricate percussive elements, melodic bass lines, thought provoking lyrics and a very British guitar sound’, as the reason for their ‘sound that is both familiar and refreshing at the same time’, Karma Suite seem to be solid. Or perhaps just prone to overzealous descriptions. We’ll see, as the list of clarifications grows ever longer.

She Screams Murder play the Birmingham Ballroom on Jan 6th. For more info on the band visit http://www.myspace.com/ssmofficialukband

Karma Suite play the Birmingham Ballroom on Jan 7th. For more info on the band visit http://www.myspace.com/karmasuitemusic

For tickets and info to both gigs, and further venue listings, visit http://www.birmingham-ballroom.com

REVIEW: Misty’s Big Adventure @ Hare & Hounds, Christmas Eve ’11

Words & pictures by Cesilia Oriana Trecaquista

On an unusually mild Christmas Eve night, I set off to my local – the Hare & Hounds, with a certain amount of trepidation. I was going to watch and review Misty’s Big Adventure, a band with a huge cult following ‘round these parts, but one I had little knowledge of. In fear of expulsion from the B13/14 postcode; I wanted to like them.

The crowd were in predictably high festive spirits (or predictably high on festive spirits – Ed) and nicely warmed up by support acts Chinese Burn Society and Kate Goes. So when it was time for Misty’s to play, they needed no excuse to get their dance on – as unusual as it was. None, however, more so than from the strange blue-faced man dressed in an adult sized one-sie, with several protruding blue stuffed hands. Confused, I turned to the crowd for comfort. Those in the know told me he’s Erotic Volvo, Misty’s accompanying dancer.

The set began with the most upbeat song I’ve ever heard about depression, and although Erotic Volvo (E.V as he shall be known from here on in) was a somewhat distracting element, the rest of the band seemed so used to him that he became totally unacknowledged. Even as he got into the most ‘expressive’ of his ‘interpretive dance’. Had I watched the performance alone, I’ve been convinced he was a figment of my Christmas imagination.

Although I’m not normally a fan of ‘gimmicky’ or comedic bands, the song ‘Atonement’ stopped me in my tracks, with its beautiful melody and 3 part vocal harmony. Misty’s Big Adventure clearly has some impressive musicianship at work.

Affectionately referred to as ‘The Dumbettes’ by deadpan lead singer Grandmaster Gareth, brass players-sisters Hannah and Lucy Baines, along with keyboard player Lucy Bassett, downed tools to sing 60’s classic ‘Eygyptian Shumba’, with impressive harmonies. The audience loved it, but a personal highlight was the political/satirical role play between Nick Clegg – proclaiming, “I want a mince pie”, with David Cameron responding, “you can’t have one”. With E.V. adding vocals and an interlude of psychotic laughing. All very festive.

So after breaking my Misty’s Big Adventure cherry, I understand why they have the reputation they do. One that’s earned them support slots with The Zutons and The Magic Numbers.  And after a pub’s worth of Merry Christmas’ (a lot of familiar faces), and an irresistible  shimmy with E.V., I left the Hare & Hounds feeling totally uplifted – no longer watching over my shoulder for the band’s longstanding fan base. A deservedly dedicated group, and one I’m now sincerely a part of.

For more on Misty’s Big Adventure visit http://mistysbigadventure.com/

 

PREVIEW: Misty’s Big Adventure / Hare & Hounds, Dec 24th

I’ve got one for you.  What do you get if you cross; jazz, lounge, psychedelia, two tone, pop & punk?

I don’t know.

Misty’s Big Adventure made a name for themselves being ‘weird’, or ‘avant garde’ if you live in Moseley. Named after a story in The Magic Roundabout 1968 annual, always a good start, Misty’s was formed in 1996 by Gareth ‘Grandmaster’ Jones and Sam Minnear, whilst still in their tender teens. A brave move. Secondary school must’ve been an interesting experience.

An accomplished 8 piece ensemble, Gareth Jones – Misty’s surprising front man, sings ‘in a deadpan, maudlin style, accompanied by lively guitar, keyboards and brass players’ (a description stolen from their Wikipedia page), whilst a demonic blue faced Bez baffles audience members in forced participation. Are the crowd happy? Excited? A little scared and confused? It’s sometimes hard to hear over the tailors of the emperors’ new track suit, vomiting out subtexts and reminding you that ‘I saw them when…’

But love them, loathe them, know them or fear them, Misty’s have a deserved reputation for originality. Plus they’ve worked hard and done well. Releasing 8 singles and 9 albums since 2003; their portfolio has maintained ferocious independence, accumulated even more ferocious support and featured on ITV’s reality show ‘This Is David Guest’. Now there’s a couple of things to be proud of.

Regulars on the festival and European tour circuit, a badge of tenacious success, Misty’s have remained loyal to the Birmingham music scene. A scene that can more often than not be wrought with ego and jealousy, especially with a Glastonbury under your belt. They don’t cite celebrity fans, although they have them (Frank Sidebottom is one of their MySpace friends, does this count?), they don’t purport a turning point importance, although you could argue this in many a Birmingham pub back room, they just seem to get on with the job. Of being ‘weird’, or ‘avant garde’ if you live in Moseley.

Originally championed by The Catapult Club, Arthur Tapp’s live band brainchild and part savior of Birmingham’s independent music scene since the early 90’s (sycophantic but true), Misty’s performed the last ever gig at The Jug of Ale in 2008. Now they’re back on Tapp’s bill, playing the coveted Christmas Eve gig at the Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath.

Cesilia Oriana Trequista will be there for the Birmingham Review, to see what the jingle hell’s going on.

Misty’s Big Adventure play the Hare & Hounds on Dec 9th, for info & tickets visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/2011/11/28/mistys-big-adventure-the-chinese-burn-society-kate-goes/

For more on Misty’s Big Adventure visit http://mistysbigadventure.com/

For more on The Catapult Club visit http://www.thecatapultclub.net/

REVIEW: The Ordinary Boys – Maybe Somebody Tour / O2 Academy 2 (B’ham), Dec 9th

The Ordinary Boys

 

Words by Ceri Black

7 years since their debut album, ‘Over the Counter Culture’, The Ordinary Boys embark on their final UK tour. The O2 academy was their Birmingham host, on what was possibly the coldest night ever recorded in the city. Wrapped up and excited the Birmingham Review went to see them check out.

Originally from Brighton, The Ordinary Boys shot to fame after lead singer Preston’s stint in the Big Brother house. They released a couple of mediocre, albeit catchy pop songs (Boys Will be Boys, I Luv U), Preston married a celebrity wannabe, Preston divorced a celebrity wannabe, and the band promptly split up. Now, 5 years since setting foot on a stage, The Ordinary Boys’ ‘Somebody Maybe’ tour is both a reunion and farewell to their Ordinary Army; the band’s consitently loyal fan base.

Of which I’m one. I’ve been a massive fan of The Ordinary Boys since I was 17, and, if I’m honest, tonight’s gig was an opportunity for me to regress into a screaming, girly mess. In which I did myself proud. Suitably embarrassing my friend with my shrieks of delight, mainly aimed in Preston’s direction.

The O2 Academy, however, was quite empty. The bar service was slow and the merch table kept collapsing; not the most professional of set ups. But even despite the lack of a crowd the atmosphere was positive. Everyone was there in total support, fervent in the knowledge this may be the last opportunity to see them play live. Lyrics were chanted, fingers were pointed and mosh pits were, well, moshed. Even the trumpet section of ‘Seaside’ was sung along to.

The Ordinary Boys @ O2 Academy, Dec 9th

The band themselves were full of energy. Preston bounced around on stage like an excited teenager, and during ‘Weekend Revolution’ he took to jumping from the drum kit in animated style. They sounded great too, and were clearly having genuine fun in performing.

A rendition of The Specials’ ‘Little Bitch’ was my personal highlight, with everything set at maximum volume. And although at one point my stomach was vibrating from bass, I left the 02 Academy with a sweet ringing in my ears.

Despite finishing at the unpunk 9.30pm, a bit early for grown ups, The Ordinary Boys gave Birmingham an energetic and enthusiastic performance. As the O2 blurb said: ‘a string of loud and fast live shows’. And whilst there was neither a packed house or new, raw material, when both band and crowd love a gig that much, you have to ask, is it really farewell?