Tag Archives: Laura Marling

Coachella Day 2 – April 21, 2012 – The Afternoon

I slept in a little due to the heat, but finally headed back in on the shuttle bus at about noon on Saturday.  I short note about the shuttles is that they were 99% awesome.  Easy parking, a direct route to the shuttle lot.  Nice drivers and staff from Valley Music Travel who run them.  My only minor quibble is the “trudge of death at the end of the night”….you have to do a complete circle around the perimeter of the shuttle lot….that adds something close to a mile to the walk.  After a full day in the sun, that is a killer.  It seems a little reconfiguration of that lot is order folks….please?

I went through both searches fairly quickly.  (You have to be searched when you come off the shuttle and at the gate.)  A small pain, but the guys doing them were pretty efficient and fast.  But, a small tweak here to only require one search would be appreciated when it’s over 100 degrees (103 on Saturday to be specific)…

I headed to the Gobi tent and caught the last couple songs by Spector.  The songs were both decent “Chevy Thunder” and “Never Fade Away”.  I sort of wished I’d caught their full set, but realistically was happy that slept in no matter who I’d missed.  (I”d already downed 4 four bottles of water on the bus and walk in…)  I sort of thought of Gaslight Anthem, but with a British twist.  Some potential there.

I found a nice BBC clip of them from last year:

I have to say, finding groups like these guys is the really cool part of a festival like Coachella (or Glastonbury for that matter).  Nothing like wandering to a stage knowing nothing by band and having them catch your ear.  It may not all be something that lasts and becomes one of your top favorite bands.  But, hearing something fresh beats only listening to classic rock or only stuff you’ve heard for years.  At least for me, it’s keeps my mind open and my iPod playlist rotating with new stuff.  And, you get an occasional Gaslight Anthem, Frank Turner or Head and the Heart who do become a huge favorite.

I stayed at the Gobi and listened to Dragonette in the Mojave from a distance.  Sounded good, a bit like LaRoux from where I was.  I heard later that they had some sound problems.  But, I couldn’t tell from my spot.  It was a nice way to pass the time between bands without venturing into the sun.

Up next were the Vaccines in the Gobi Tent.  They stormed on stage to the Ramones version of “Rock and Roll Radio” which led into “Wreckin Bar (RA RA RA)”

So, a Ramones influence, but I have to say….I was never a big Ramones fan.

(Side note: I took a date to see the Ramones at Crawford Hall in Irvine in December of 78…we had awesome seats in the 3rd row, but we were both sadly not too impressed….after about 45 minutes (which was like 20 songs…) I asked her if she was enjoying it and she said “not really”…so, we bailed out and left.  Yes, my only time seeing the critically acclaimed Ramones, and I left early.  Not sure if that makes me dumb, or really smart, but after 40 minutes I really felt I’d seen pretty much all they had to offer.  Respect to them, just not a huge fan.)

Anyway, the Vaccines we fast, loud and brash…the most interesting thing was a few sort of rockabilly guitar riffs buried in there.  The crowd dug them, but I can’t see myself rushing out to buy most of their stuff.  They played a new song “teenage icon” that stood out to me…so, maybe there’s some potential?  Here’s a pretty good clip someone shot of that.  (I would be behind him to the right about 50 feet.)….

However, all that being said, their closer “Norgaard” was a nearly perfect song, crowd, attitude, time of day, etc.  My only note after the song title is – “awesome song”   So, I guess you could say that they sort of won me over in the end and I had fun.  Another of those “festival” moments where you try something out of your zone and walk away glad that you did.

I broke for some lunch and had a nice chat with some random college kids sitting around me who were from all over the country and who’d all made the trip to the festival.  It was really nice just sitting in the shade, chatting about bands we’d seen and letting the world pass by for a few minutes, don’t forget to take a quiet minute or two at a festival.  Relax, it’s supposed to fun, not some marathon to try and see every act.  Sit a chill for a bit now and then (although using the term chill in the context of that heat wave is sort of odd.)

I decided after a bit to head to see Big Pink.  I caught most of their set, and it was all not familiar to me.  A bit like the Vaccines in some ways…mostly that I wasn’t really grabbed initially by the set.  Unlike the Vaccines, they didn’t really win me over in the end.  Another festival rule is that you just may not like everything you hear, no matter how hard you try to only hit the highlights.  It wasn’t that they weren’t talented….the girl they had drumming really was quite good.  They just didn’t really catch my ear.  Here’s a sample:

Next up was the Head and the Heart, which I reviewed already as a stand alone post….best set of the weekend for me.

After Head and the Heart I went and got a CD signed at the record tent by both Head and the Heart and Kasabian.

Once done, I started to head over to see Laura Marling.  But, I decided on the fly that since I’d seen her in London, I’d check out Manchester Orchestra and wait for Squeeze.  In retrospect, I’d much rather have rather seen Laura (or Noel Gallaher if it wasn’t still so damn hot).  Of the three songs by Manchester Orchestra that I heard…two were not very impressive.  The last song (not sure of the title) rocked much better.

But, I seemed to be all afternoon in a sort of an up and down pattern…I’d see something epic and then something that was blah….Nothing was downright horrible (as I noted above), just blah, derivative or maybe even boring.  The chances you take at a show like this…they can’t all be winners.

At least the drummer had a really awesome beard….

So, really not a bad afternoon considering the heat, I’d seen most of what I’d hoped and a one big highlight band.  I’d even gotten a couple CD’s signed.  So, I would deem the afternoon an overall success.

Next up was Squeeze, but I’ll save them for my evening review!

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Wrapping up 2010

Wow, where do I start….

As evidenced by the previous posts I had a pretty amazing year of concert-going.  A near lifelong quest completed, an epic show I’d missed 30 years ago revisited.  A music oriented couple weeks in London.  Countless HOF members of the Rock Hall of Fame….heck a ton of them in just a single week.  Shows with good friends old and new.  Hard to even wrap my head around the whole thing.

Here’s the list:

Keb’ Mo’ – Coach House – Jan 14

The Blasters, John Doe, Rumble King – Coach House – Feb 20

Peter Gabriel – Hollywood Bowl – May 7

Styx, Kansas, Foreigner – Citizens Bank Arena – May 19

Richard Thompson – Royal Festival Hall – June 19

Green Day, Joan Jett – Wembley Stadium – June 19

Elvis Costello – Royal Festival Hall – June 20

Glastonbury – June 23-27

Jackson Browne – Albert Hall – June 29

Jack Johnson – O2 Arena – June 30

Laura Marling, Fanfarlo, Peggy Sue, Smoke Fairies – Hyde Park – July 1

Hop Farm – July 2-3

Jools Holland – Kew Gardens – July 6

Barenaked Ladies, Kris Allen, Angel Taylor – Greek Theatre – July 22

Blondie, Gorevette – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 8

Rush – Irvine Meadows – August 13

Al Yankovic – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 14

Scissor Sisters – DAR Consitiution Hall – August 23

Neil Finn – Largo – September 11

Muse, Passion Pit – Staples Center – September 25

Gorillaz, N.E.R.D. – Gibson – October 27

Bonobo – Music Box – November 26

Roger Waters – Staples Center – November 29

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 13

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 14

Twenty three shows and two festivals in all.  I don’t think I could even pick a “best”.  However a few things to note do occur to me.

Worst sound, Scissor Sisters.  Horrible mix that completely left the vocals out, and it’s not like I had a crappy seat, I was in the 5th row.  Really guys?  Totally detracted from an interesting performance.

Only show I left early, Jack Johnson.  It was okay, but very one-note.  I like his studio stuff, but in a huge arena it was lost.  Put the same show in an intimate venue and I might have loved it.  Add to the experience that I was a bit sick that night and it was just not a compelling show.

Most disappointing, Muse/Passion Pit.  Passion Pit left me cold and Muse after all the hype just didn’t live up to expectations.  Lot’s of copped riffs and wasted technology that didn’t go anywhere.  If you want to use technology look to Gabriel, Waters or even the Pet Shop Boys.  This was “sound and fury that signified nothing”…

Most intimate, Neil Finn.  The Largo is magic when Neil plays there and the September show was no exception.  An obscure setlist that actually added to the special feeling of the evening.  You knew even while watching this was the sort of thing that would never be duplicated.  Jackson Browne in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury was a close second.  While the masses grooved to Stevie Wonder….Jackson held court for a few hundred lucky folks and spun magic with his sidekick David Lindley.  Moving and unique almost sell short just how very special a way it was to end my Glastonbury experience.

Surprises…How awesome Gorillaz were in LA after disappointing in Glastonbury.

Bonobo, Midlake, Hot Chip, Fanfarlo, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Magic Numbers, The Bees….none of whom I knew before 2010 and who all get extensive spins regularly on my ipod now.

How great Rush could be at doing “Moving Pictures” after being somewhat average the other time I’d seen them previously….this show made up for that one in spades.

Disappointment….U2 having to cancel in Anaheim and Glastonbury…(of course it does give me a couple shows to look forward to in 2011 already…)

Well, that’s it…another year in the books, and an amazing one at that.  Curious to see what 2011 (and beyond) will bring?  But, it’ll be hard for any year to reach the heights of 2010 for me.

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Laura Marling

Started Thursday by packing my stuff to get the heck out of the “Holiday Villa” and move on to my next hotel out by the Docklands.  Fighting a mild cold and generally feeling crappy.  The shower broke for a second morning in a row and I was forced to simply leave it running.  The staff were nice, but my god…what  pit of a hotel.  And, I paid more for it per night than anyplace else on the trip.  I plan to let Hotwire know that their 3 star is a 1 star.

Just not wanting to lug my stuff onto and off buses or Tubes for 2 hours, I splurged for a minicab to take me straight to the Novotel at the Excel Centere.  It’s a Priceline purchase and a good value, if a bit out of town.  They were very nice and put me in my room early since I wasn’t feeling too great.  I proceeded to fall onto the bed and sleep the rest of the afternoon.  A shame to waste a day, but necessary.

I gathered myself up and headed off for Laura Marling in Hyde Park at the Serpentine  Sessions.  Some quick KFC (my first meal of the day) and a hike down Park Lane and I entered the mini festival site.

This was like the Anti-Glastonbury…I believe the word here is posh.

Men in suits, free wine samples, “luxury loos”….

I grabbed a free beach chair and kicked back with a diet soda.  The first act, Alessi’s Ark was competent in a bland sort of coffee house style.  I kept waiting for a version of “smelly cat” or something.  Not bad, just not really anything I couldn’t hear in 1000 Starbucks on any random night.

The second act, The Smoke Fairies were marginally better.  At least they had some slightly more unique harmonies.  I was staring to wonder if I’d ever see a decent opening act in London for any show?  I guess they blow the budget on headliners?  All of them were faceless, unmemorable and bland.

Then, finally something good…

Fanfarlo were awesome.

Here’s a video

Trumpet, violin and a guy who live sounded a bit like a young Brian Ferry at times.  By three songs I was hooked.  Finally a decent opener!  Their set was far too short and I would have gladly welcomed more.

Sadly, they ended and gave way to one more faceless, nameless act on the smaller stage.  It’s amazing the overall quality difference in some of these shows.

Finally, the headliner, Laura Marling.

I suspect you may hear a lot more about her.  I know she’s coming to the El Rey later this month on tour and I could see her having the stuff to break in the US.

She did a solid selection of material across both her albums.  Stand outs were the songs linked above as well as “Ghosts”, “I speak because I can”, “Alas, I cannot swim” and a nice cover of Neil Young’s “Needle and the damage done”.

Great show and a huge improvement over my previous night’s disappointment.

Off to Hop Farm and Van Morrison next!  Hopefully a nights sleep will help me shake this cold.

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My Concert Agenda for London

Well, since this is going to be a trip mostly about seeing concerts, I now have most of my shows scheduled and tickets bought…Only one more show to still book, and more about that later.

The Plan:

June  19 – Richard Thompson – “1000 years of popular song”.  I have the CD of this show he did a few years back.  He touches on songs from the 12th century right on up to Bowling for Soup.  This is part of the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall and he’s one of those guys who somehow I’ve missed each time he’s passed through town.  Critically, he’s names as one of the top 20 all time guitarists.

June 20 – Elvis Costello – Solo Acoustic. Also part of Meltdown.  Really, what can you say about him?  Plus, seeing him in London…should be awesome!

June 23-27 – Glastonbury….MUCH more about this later…

June 29 – Jackson Browne & David Lindley.  Found a great single floor seat for Royal Albert Hall when I get back from Glasto.  They are playing twice at the festival, but knowing I can see them here will free me up for others acts at the festival itself and reduces my potential clash list of bands by one.

June 30 – Jack Johnson at O2 Arena.  Another show I found a great single for.  Love his music and never seen him live.  He’s also playing Glastonbury, but for the reasons above, knowing I’ll see him in London takes another potential conflict away at Glasto.

July 1 – Laura Marling – Serpentine Sessions in Hyde Park.  Honestly, don’t know much about her, but the little I’ve heard puts her into the Regina Spektor, Imogen Heap class.  Close to my hotel (short walk) and I’ve always wanted to see a show in Hyde Park.  She’s also at Glasto and Hop Farm.  But, the setting of Hyde Park is too cool to pass up.  Support acts still to be named…so many be Mumford & Sons who record with her?  One can only hope…

July 2 – Hop Farm with Van Morrison!  Just amazing…a chance to see Van in the UK at a really interesting sounding smaller festival.  Still no idea who else will be playing, but Van is enough draw to get me out there…

July 3 – Hop Farm day 2…No ticket yet, but leaning this way.  Bob Dylan, Ray Davies top the bill….pretty sure I’ll end up going to this.

A small gap with the potential to see Dr John, CSN or Buddy Guy…still not nailed down…and I may need a night off…:)

July 6 – My last night- Jools Holland at Kew Gardens.  An outdoor show in a botanical garden with one of my favorite bands that never tours the US.  A suitable way to wrap three full weeks of music.

So, there you have it.  Less than three weeks that includes pretty much a who’s who of the rock and roll hall of fame (U2, Stevie Wonder, Ray Davies, Jackson Browne, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan) my favorite songwriters (Squeeze, Nick Lowe, Al Stewart, Willie Nelson, Jack Johnson, David Lindley) and newcomers that I’m enjoying already (Muse, Midlake, Hot Chip, Magic Numbers, Imelda May, Laura Marling)…and all to be seen live and in person in less than 20 days in the UK!

WOW, am I excited?…a little, just a little….

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