Two days of work, followed by many days of drink and music. Yep i could get used to that.
Headed up north (or The North as the signs say) to Glasgow to see the wonderful PsychoChicken. Things started well at a pub, improved immeasurably at the next pub, and peaked at the chickens favourite, the Bon. I've been there a few times, and it's a great pub - although having bottles of Bowmore Black and White (or was it the Gold?) there could be a bad move. The Bowmore Black is around £2000, so I'm unlikely to get a bottle anytime soon.
But the reason we were meeting was to see Marillion on their Less is More tour. In all honesty, I don't like the album. I find it bland. The concept was to record an acoustic (ish) album where songs were stripped down or rearranged. What emerged was a disappointing album with arrangements that showed little originality or were unnecessarily complex. There's a strong element of 'sameness' through each of the tracks, and many end up sounding like the Beatles. I keep falling asleep during it, or can't remember when it's finished what I listened to - not a good sign. So it's fair to say I was heading up to see the Chicken, drink beer, and taste some whisky. Good thing I viewed it that way. The venue was crap, we were lucky to get a view of the band, but apparently most of the audience couldn't see them - for which the band, to their credit, have apologised and offered a free recording of the gig.
Music wise, the first half was the album, and live the songs don't really improve much. Atmosphere was ruined a bit by talking, but if you can't see the band...
Second half was a little better, a little more plugged in and a couple of stunning Rother's solos.
Certainly the worst performance I've seen by the band, and I wouldn't recommend catching this tour.
But the company and the beer was excellent.
Next evening we had the tragically hip one of the bands I've been into for sometime - and it seemed churlish not to head along since they, and I, were in the same city. The hip were well known as a college indie band during the 80s/90s, think Violent Femmes (ish) although being Canadian, there's more quirky to them than many of the US bands. A more contemporary Canadian group would be the Weakerthans, who I also like, again intelligent witty lyrics with good music. the venue was much better, The Garage, and we appeared to be surrounded by most of the Canadians currently domiciled in Scotland. More maple leaf flags than you could throw pancakes at. But by god did that band go off. Ok, by band, I mean the singer - the rest of them just stand there. But his stage presence is superb, and this was one of the gigs of the year. If you get the chance to see them, take it. Small complaint that the vocals got lost a bit, but the atmosphere more than made up for it.
Headed back home on the friday, then Mr S popped up on Saturday - or rather we met up in Leicester for the Pineapple Thief. This was at a small venue the Musician which we both liked. The support band, Left Below were really good, kind of a mix between Isis, Oceansize and Jakob - so yeah, I liked them :) And the Thief? It's the second time I've seen them, and I cannot believe how tight they are live. And how good they are. It really is a crime this band are not better known, although to an extent they have themselves to blame as their gigging up to a year or two ago could be counted on one hand, but with a bit of label support behind them they are turning up to play live. Music-wise, fans of Elbow, Coldplay, Keane, ie. the British navel gazer fan-brigade, should check them out.
The new songs, which they played three, were a reasonable continuation of where they've been headed. The first sounded very much like Everything Must Go era Manic Street Preachers. The other two were more pineapple thief-ish, but sounded great.
the evening was rounded off with some reasonably good food - high chilli content, but certainly better than crud I've here in Lboro.
Huzzah to music! Whisky review likely to follow at some point soon.