Liverpool Music Week highlights – Tuesday

So here we are, live from the eye of the storm and the belly of the beast folks. If you don’t know what we’re talking about you haven’t seen enough gigs so far. Stress not freshman there are still hundreds, literally hundreds of opportunities to discover your new favourite musician(s) as Liverpool Music Week rattles on like a jumbling cargo train packed full of sound explosives. Firing from its carriages colourful tunes as it crashes through walls of venues night after night.

Our journey last night began at Barfly. A non-listed event but chance would have it and a nice line up is a nice line up.

Audio samples and epic soundscapes: The youthful appearance of (team) Photo is not matched by the mature and nigh-on philosophical amphitheatre-rattling sound. The audacity and pretentious element to their music is something to be embraced. Typified in the scope, timing and vision of the tracks we have since discovered on the band’s Mypsace page. (team) Photo have recorded the experimental track Unwanted Sound. Could this possibly be a new concept in using Myspace page as a refuse sack for their trash cuttings? [See aPAtT.] Add a touch of Glockenspiel and its all rosy by day and nightmarish by night. If you drop your guard you may be lost in the void, we are the audience and we are the band, do we clap now and who is making that big sound and where did it go?

It always helps to have a female bassist. Why? It just does. The influence of …and you will know us by the Trail of Dead is apparent, as is the tension visibly building in the band as they climb to peaks of tracks. At times they are uncertain of themselves yet there is definite clarity as they crash into their Dark Side of The Moon moments. One to watch out for.

So the Liverpool Music Week trail begins. All the enthusiasm that greeted the choice of so many bands in so many venues hits home hard today as even the hardened gig-goer is struggling to keep afloat against the tide of over-stimulation. Day time naps and refusals to entertain the thought of an after party are being offered as ways of getting over this dreaded hangover – from 'the LMW survival guide'.

Dropping into the newest venue at this year’s LMW, Alma de Cuba. Far and away the most aesthetic live music venue in Liverpool, Alma also impresses with the quality of sound. It’s the crowd who constantly disappoint as the echoic hollows of the old church carry the voices of the people over Sparklewood & 21, with a delightful set, making sublime use of a mandolin. The next act we are able to catch are the inexplicable Ivan Campo. As usual, some are disappointed it’s not the curly haired Spaniard himself, whereas others are more clued up. Either way no one can fail to be impressed by the voice of their singer and the gentle subtlety of the harmonica.

We’re lucky to be here in Alma De Cuba as John Smith begins his set, which if you haven’t heard before will, from the first track, tear the heart out of your chest. The emotion clenching wails of the songwriter flow like cries of a lost love and a broken sheep strayed into the clutches of a wolf. The women want to take him home and the boys want to sing like him. Smith’s forte is without doubt his Dylan-esque storytelling, and that voice, a worryingly fine, sandpaper-brushed, demi-growl. Guitar technique alone he is too good, unsurpassed but never have we seen such a controversial performance. Not from John himself who would later join headliner James Yorkston on the stage, all he has to say is “You fuckers at the back can talk through this one,” but the crowd are at sixes and sevens. Half the room chooses during, rather than after, the show to discuss whether Smith is at his best? Is he better than Damien Rice? What their favourite song is and most humorously, is it true there’s a guy in the bar round the corner is playing John Smith covers? Undoubtedly, the single most gifted individual any of us are likely to witness at LMW, unless you are anticipating the Dan Deacon show with furore of a child at Christmas.

The Bumper for all its merits is producing a quality live sound and hosting dearth’s of great bands. The question on people’s lips is why doesn’t this happen every night here? It isn’t important right now, we are just enjoying it. The management of the stage times has so far been exemplary, punctual and the bands have had ample time to perform in. The only casualty appears to be Noah and The Whale who went and got themselves double booked somewhere else, but these reports are unconfirmed. That meant however much to the surprise of the band themselves, despite an attempt to draft Johnny Foreigner in last minute, that Elle S’appelle were bumped to the headline slot last night. Not a problem for these guys. Their development and live experience has seen them play as many live shows in as many cities as anyone in past six months and along the way have suitably garnered the praise and attention of everybody who has heard them. Tonight, Monkeysweet, a potential future single blows away, being the first time we had heard it. An unforgettable set. There hasn’t been a song writing talent to tackle melodies and harmonies in such joyful pop bliss from Liverpool for a long long time now. Elle S’appelle – better than The Beatles, bigger than Jesus. Believe it, believe the hype.

Before our new favourite band came on we saw the Indica Ritual, (pictured) their squeaky clean almost math-rock caused many a shape to be throw in many an odd direction and that was just the band themselves. Very much in the vein of Foals but with a more challenging and varied vocal. Indica Ritual were very much appreciated by the crowd.

Voo in the front room treated the shifting crowd to their repertoire of pretty punk songs and some monster feedback in between, just for a laugh.

Wave Machines, in disguise, took us on a journey through some of their best tracks. For fans of Super Furry Animals and Flaming Lips.

*The only problem with the main host venue is they are accountable for selling shots (namely Sambucca) for one pound and forcibly offering them to punters upon arrival at the bar, which in some cases is leading to advanced alcoholism. I’m trying to be light hearted but its fucking kicking in again. Its not cheap either this getting drunk and smoking shit all night every night. Here we go again!

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