April 30th 2005.
Three bands, two concerts, one show
Hot Hot Heat (support bands: The Departure and Fever), April 28th 2005. Ritz, Manchester
We decided to go to Hot Hot Heat on the very day of the concert and, obviously, we weren't the only ones to do so. A few hours before the concert there were still some tickets unsold although the concert hall was completely full when the concert started. It was a little unusual, as for all magnificent reviews their new album got in the local referential press. In defense of the band's popularity we can point out that Ritz in Manchester was undoubtedly great challenge for one still not so famous Canadian (Vancouver) band. Also, this was the first Hot Hot Heat concert in Britain on the tour promoting their new LP 'Elevator', released a few days ago.
Two support bands entertained the audience before the stars of the evening – Fever from New York and The Departure from England. Fever – not bad, maybe they could work on their image a little bit more, but their music is entirely acceptable guitar sound. The Departure (from Northtempton) truely gave a whole indie-vidual :) concert having played almost all their repertoire in 55-odd minutes. They started with 'Be My Enemy' and ended with 'Dirty Words'. Their brand new single 'Lump In My Throat' could also have been included in the playlist, as well as B sides of the reissues of their first single 'All Mapped Out'. Their debut album's going to be released in June – we can warmly recommend it to all who like neo-new wave sound.
Hot Hot Heat started with good rhythm and in excellent mood both of which were lost a bit about the middle of the concert, but the very finish was rapturous. The beginning - 'No, Not Now'- almost perfect. Among the first six songs they also included two hits from their fantastic previous album 'Make Up the Breakdown' - 'Get In or Get Out', 'Talk To Me Dance With Me', and also two songs from the brand new album – pretty good 'Ladies And Gentlemen' and excellent 'Dirty Moyth'. Then the atmosphere began slightly to fall off, but never totally since incredibly energetic frontman (who is also the keyboards player) of the band, Steve Bays could make a great show even of the songs that obviously didn't have potential to become hits ( e.g.'Middle Of Nowhere'). He also jumped into the audience two times. 'Regular' 60 minutes ended in good style – first came the popular single 'Goodnight, Goodnight' and then the ultimate 'Bandages'. Maybe, there's only one more important thing in the whole life beside jumping on songs like these and moments when your favourite team wins a goal in an important match. Maybe.
After an encore, not so gentle, which is not usual with the English (or at least with this city), there were three more songs. First, one new, full of energy, 'Island Of The Honest Man', then, an older one, 'Oh, Goddamnit', and in the end, a fresh one again, 'Running Out Of Time', played after Bays's comment that the same went for the concert. All in all – very, very good.
Ana & Miloš Paunović
February 27th 2005.
Brisk Sound That Aches And Cures
From the moment the concert of The Wedding Present was announced in November last year, our only dilemma about going to the concert was: shall we be there at the time? Given that TWP were the soundtrack of our high school excursions, we couldn't have any other. If 'guitar alternative' exists as a particular genre, The Wedding Present are, together with Jesus And Mary Chain, the only ones who can be considered to be the pioneers of that genre in the UK. And given that our younger indie friends in England have hardly heard of JAMC and by no chance of TWP, we were very curious to see who would be the majority of the audience. And, of course, to see if the very band remained faithful to the sound in which creation they'd taken part so much.
We set off for Academy on foot (it took us some 20 minutes to get there) and comfortably dressed since there was no wind outside. It was slightly cold, but the sky was clear. It seemed just perfect for 'a match' and walk (did you expect a review without the football jargon?). But as soon as we started to praise the weather, somewhere near the first bus stop, the snowstorm started. It stopped as we, all frozen and white, reached the next bus stop; what an irony. Brrr..! We stared at each other wondering 'What was that?'. However, we got to the Manchester Academy, entered inside and what we found there was, hmm, Dutch electro-guitar-pop band Persil, who were not bad. In fact, it was a cute little band with a female vocal. She wore an olive green T-shirt with 'Fragile' written on it, so even if they hadn't been so good they would have got our sympathy.
With Worthington ale in our hands (don't slobber over your keyboard now) we turned back to see who else was driven to the storm by the concert of TWP. Time was turning back – sweatshirts with hoods, Levi's jeans, hairstyles from the early nineties, a few wrinkles more, and the average age of all (including us) was about early thirties.
At 9.30 sharp TWP appeared. The guitarist Simon Cleave acted like a sound engineer (in fact, he had come up to the stage before to tune the guitar, but nobody recognized him), and David Lewis Gedge came up and looked down to the floor most time, just like "I dropped something...'. He looked a little uncomfortable about ovation he was given. The first thing he said to the audience, where the number of man was double compared to the number of women, was: 'What I can do? Ladies find me irresistible!' Laughter! (For those who are curious, Gedge looks almost the same as in the early nineties).
The concert started immediately. And this is how it started – first two songs-two broken strings. The frontman gave a comment before the third one: 'Will this be a hat-trick?' Luckily, it wasn't. The songs from the brand new album were excellently accepted, but all were waiting for the hits from 'George Best' and 'Bizzaro'. And, they waited them. First, 'My Favourite Dress'. Ohh... then, 'Anyone Can Make Mistake'. 'We always love to come to Manchester, especially me', said the singer of TWP while drying his face from sweat and added with a smile: 'Look what a beautiful RED towel they brought me', provoking delight in one half and horror in the other half of the audience. 'I'm from Middleton, you know... Well, not anymore. 'After Gedge's giving a comment that he was walking in the city centre after such a long time and that Piccadilly Gardens (the main city square) were changed into Concrete Gardens, someone from the audience called out that he'd been there in Burger King that day. 'What an interesting life you lead! (smile) Sorry, I didn't mean to be mean!' - was the reply from the stage.
It was very strange how the audience right in front of the stage divided. Non-stop pogo (all drunk half naked skin headed males) in the right half, while the left one was almost entirely quiet. We stood somewhere between, which was in accordance with our national history. But that border disappeared after the first notes of the ultimate crescendo of the night – Kennedy! And then, the male person of the reporters' team found himself overwhelmed by feelings, and thoughts like "Watch your knee, man.' were successfully pushed aside by the thought 'Come on, when, if not now?' The audience were asking for Brassneck. 'Wait, people, I'm also one of those who have skin on their fingers', Gedge replied.
The concert lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. And, as for the amount of sweat produced, it was equal to the amount spent in 3 hours of average performance of most average bands. The band didn't play encore. That was announced before the last tune – What I Have Said – and adrenalin of destroying guitar climax that definitely reached straight to the heart.
The great news for all those who love this sound is: no matter how the new kids, who are the main indie attractions today, fail in their second album, Mr Gedge will always stand at some safe corner, maintaining the eternal fire of brisk guitar sound. It's simply that we left the concert not sad because it was over, but assuaged by knowledge that the very core of the matter is still safe and sound, and that, actually, EVERYTHING IS ALL RIGHT!
A lonely star
A welcome ride in a neighbour's car
A long walk home
The pouring rain
I fell asleep when you never came
Some rare delight in Manchester town
It took six hours before you let me down
To see it all in a drunken kiss
A stranger's hand on my favourite dress (ohh)
That was my favourite dress you know
That was my favourite dress (ohh)
Discography (albums & EPs):
George Best (1987)
Ukrainski Vistupi V Ivana Peela (1989)
Hit Parade 1 (1992)
Hit Parade 2 (1992)
John Peel Sessions [1987-1990] (1993)
Singles 1995-97 (1999)
Take Fountain (2005)
Ana & Miloš Paunović