Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Keep Pop Loud Tour of Yorkshire - Part 1

It's that time of year once again: the leaves have browned and fallen, the only records that are being released are Christmas-ready greatest hits and reissues, meanwhile every band in the world is on tour somewhere, with most of them going through Yorkshire. This of course means that I've had very little time to sit down and listen to/write about music recently and more importantly it means that I'm very poor.

The Keep Pop Loud Tour of Yorkshire began a little under a month ago (October 12th) with a little warm-up in in Sheffield's The Harley to see Brummie fight-poppers Johnny Foreigner. Despite being based in Sheffield, The Harley was one of very few stops on the Tour of Yorkshire that is housed within the city. This gig would also be the third time that I've ventured out to see Johnny Foreigner this year, the reason being that since seeing them at Fuzz Club back in May I've very much fallen head over heels for them. Support at The Harley came from Mairead And The Voodoo Drive-Through, Japanese Voyeurs and Tellison who ranged from being quite rubbish (Japanese Voyeurs) to really rather good (Tellison) and got us all ready for Johnny Foreigner.

Being prior to the release of JoFo's second record, the outstanding Grace And The Bigger Picture, a decent amount of the songs played were ones that I was at the time unfamiliar with. Still we got 'Sometimes, In The Bullring', 'Eyes Wide Terrified' and personal favourite 'Salt, Peppa And Spinderella' from Waited Up Til It Was Light (an album which had I known, like I do now, this time last year would have topped my end of year list) along with the singles from Grace... 'Criminals' and 'Feels Like Summer'. The band were around afterwards and I would have liked to have talked to them but with having work the next morning and with Kelly, Alexei and Junior all looking really sweaty and tired immediately after the set finished I felt that they'd rather be left alone.

The next stop on the KPL Tour of Yorkshire involved us adventuring a bit further out, all the way to Leeds to see Los Campesinos! at The Cockpit (October 30th). The Cockpit is, as it turns out a decent sized and quite nice venue. Sparky Deathcap opened proceedings with some lo-fi acoustic music that gradually incorporated various members of Los Camp! into the performance, as they are apparently rather big fans of his (Gareth would later go on to sing his praises). Overall he was pretty decent, but completely blown off stage by Copy Haho who bought some frantic Hot Club de Paris style guitar work to a busy and quick indie beat. These guys pleased so much that I picked up their EP (Bred For Skills And Magic) from the merch stand afterwards, and can say that it's very much worth a listen if you get the chance.

Similarly to JoFo, Los Camp! were previewing material from their forthcoming album and also similarly they combined said material with all of the classics that you'd rightly expect from a Campesinos! Gig. As it was quite a while ago I can not remember the setlist as clearly as I'd like but 'Death To Los Campesinos!', the opening trilogy from second album We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed and of course 'You! Me! Dancing!' were given airings which the crowd enjoyed massively. The latter of course got the best reception, as to be expected from the group's most famous single. On a personal note, 'Sweet Dreams Sweet Cheeks' was a highlight, being my favourite song from their catalogue thus far. The other major point of interest from camp Los Camp! (aside from how the new material is sounding – VERY GOOD) is that new member Kim Campesinos! seems to have gelled in the band really well, and despite suffering from Swine Flu at the time of the show fitted seamlessly into the group's set up and harmonising really well with brother Gareth.

Having to make the way back from Leeds after the show was a rather tiring affair and I barely had the time to get my breath back before it was time to head out to the next gig. Muse at Sheffield Arena (November 4th). Now, as I'm certain you can tell from the names of both group and venue, this was on a slightly different scale from the previous stops on the KPL Tour, and as I'm certain you can also deduce, was rather amazing. The Big Pink supported and were pretty good, performing in thick smoke and at the base of some towers draped to look like buildings. The post-apocalyptic vibe was furthered through the best lighting display that I've ever seen for a support band and the distorted electo-rock of the band themselves. The highlight from The Big Pink was arguably 'Dominoes', although a friend of mine would disagree due to the song being pretty much all chorus. Still, when you've got a chorus that good then you might as well use it.

There's only so much that I can really say about Muse that hasn't been said before, so here I'm going to have to resort to cliché and inform you that yes, Muse are the greatest live band on the planet. The aforementioned towers that towered above The Big Pink through their set were revealed at the beginning of the main show to be platforms that propelled the three members of the band skywards and it was on said platforms that the band made their entrance. 'Uprising' came fist and works brilliantly as an opener , it was followed quickly by the latest record's title track 'The Resistance' both of which were somewhat arousing. Throughout the set the towers containing the band moved up and down allowing Chris and Matt to move about the stage, at one point towards the end of the set giving Chris the time to get on drummer Dom's riser and perform an instrumental Drums and Bass jam whist said platform rose and span underneath them.

Another highlight from the set came when a piano was hoisted discreetly onto where Matt's platform was retracted in order for the band to perform 'United States of Eurasia' and 'Feeling Good' up high in the arena. Epic, it most certainly was.

All of the songs that one would expect from a Muse performance were played and the crowd was as electric as they should be for such a show. Pits were open for 'Hysteria', 'Plug In Baby' and traditional closer (and personal favourite) 'Knights of Cydonia' and a strange keytar was bought out for the R&B tinged 'Undisclosed Desires'. The only negative side to the show was in the length of time that it took to get the tram back into the centre of Sheffield afterwards. In other words, Muse turned out to be certainly the gig of the year!

And so concludes the first part of the Keep Pop Loud Tour of Yorkshire and the entirety of the Sheffield leg. The next stops will be in Rotherham and Doncaster and will be bought to you in due course.

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