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The Windmill, Brixton
Good Friday, 14th April 2017
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Gig Review

Gruff Rhys/ Moon Duo/ Other Lives/ Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny/ Euros Childs and others
No Direction Home: Saturday Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire

Article written by Various Writers - Jul 4, 2012

Seamus Fogarty
Day two and there’s little change weather-wise but there’s plenty of warmth to be found in the Dust Bowl thanks to Seamus Fogarty; the singer-songwriter (signed to Fence Records) strums and picks his way through the kind of breezy tunes that are perfect for an early festival slot. To cement the affable Irishman’s everyman character he’s even written a song about an old foreman from his building site days – a refreshing change from the shallow self-absorption of many new folkies.

Actually, shallow egotism isn’t restricted to only new artists; on the Lake Stage, Radio 2 favourite Martin Simpson takes self-congratulation to insufferable levels. It’s not that the music is all that bad (the folk numbers are by and large very enjoyable), it’s the between-song verbal guff that’s the problem. The tales of his time in New Orleans are so excruciating (he loves that city more than you ever could, got it?) that any blues tune that follows in impossible to engage with. The temptation to drink oneself into oblivion appears to have been the preferred option for many – the guest ales from Sheffield have already been quaffed and the Nottingham barrels have had to be reunited with the pumps. Says it all, really.

Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny
Later on the Lake Stage, Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves of Destiny immediately get a much-needed party atmosphere going. The infectious, foot-stomping tunes are delivered with immense swagger and the large crowd love every moment of the opening 20-25 minutes; alas the lady from Tyneside can perhaps be too confident at times and the set becomes unnecessarily disordered by Houghton’s attempted on-stage songwriting session –but by-and-large this is a very decent display.

The same cannot be said for the amped-up atrocity that isJoe Gideon & The Shark; playing for 45 minutes too long in the Dust Bowl and taking up 37 words too many in this review. Next.

Thankfully all that nonsense is a distant memory by the time Moon Duo arrive with their seductive drone-rock. A barely lit, smoke-filled Dust Bowl is the perfect setting for the motorik pleasures of ‘Motorcycle, I Love you’ and the trippy ‘Stumbling 22nd St’. Ripley Johnson’s vocals never depart from the default murmur setting but his guitar bursts (and occasional freak-outs) are what provide the thrills, while Sanae Yamada’s disciplined keys n’ programming – and incessant dancing – ensure they’re never less than mesmerizing. If the band’s CDs weren’t an eye-watering £16 in the Rough Trade tent there would’ve surely been a mini-shopping spree after this.

Liz Green
The cold is taking its grip once more but as tonight’s Lake Stage headliner is the all-looping, all-whistling Andrew Bird, the chill will just have to be endured. Joining Mr Bird on stage is a sizeable backing band and an even larger collection of instruments and oddities, including double-headed gramophone speakers that spin around. The Chicago master doesn’t leave his shivering fans disappointed and while he focuses mainly on new LP, Break It Yourself, he finds space for older gems like the gorgeous ‘Measuring Cups’ and time for a touching dedication to Levon Helm. Great stuff from the ever-reliable Bird. (by Pete W)

Saturday, and the car’s paintwork can just be glimpsed though the patina of mud gained when we struggled out of the car park last night. But at least it’s dry, and eventually briefly sunny. Liz Green’s band are quite a sight; a drummer in sports jacket matched with ball-hugging football shorts and a saxophonist who dresses as if he’s just walked out of the Sahara after a year with the Tuareg. By comparison, she’s normal (quite school-teacherish, if that’s not too dismissive) but it’s her voice that is truly remarkable, a late-night jazz voice that almost belongs in another body and time. The songs are detailed, pretty and melodic but afterwards the only thing that sticks in my head is that voice.

Euros Childs
The harmonies of the Cornshed Sisters are amazing but their polite pop-folk-soul songs are far too straight and polite; it’s the musical equivalent of the Archers. Even more reason to go and see Euros Childs then. He starts with a brilliant comedy set-up (you had to be there!) and it just gets better after that. He drops ‘Eyes of Green, Green, Green’ from Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci days among songs from his solo albums, and the gorgeous treatment of ‘Spin That Girl Around’ from the self-released Ends has the pastoral-psych oddness/goodness of the Gorkys in their prime. And apart from the ravishing music he’s dropping jokes all the way through the set. Even the sun comes out to see what all the commotion is. One of the three best things about the whole festival.

Other Lives
David Thomas Broughton brings on mixed feelings in the SXP team, and the fact I worship the stage he samples and loops on means I get to review him. And I love to watch him assemble delicate acoustic numbers from not much more than guitar, a few effects and his loop pedals. It feels like watching a magician pull eggs out of ears, but, ever the phlegmatic Yorkshireman, he makes no big deal out of his musical conjuring tricks.

Other Lives are compared to Radiohead and there’s something in the complexity of their stage set up that makes the comparison fit – we counted something like 20 instruments between the five of them (there’s half an orchestra on stage). It’s epic, widescreen music but you can also hear within the songs a real melodic seam. It’s wildly ambitious but somehow they hit a balance between bigness and intimacy that keeps you listening - like Gettyburg, though, it’s a close run thing.

Gruff Rhys
Gruff Rhys backed by the brilliant Y Niwl is next, and though we’ve seen him perform similar shows at several festivals before, he’s still addictively watchable. He possesses a great catalogue of songs, including the spanking ‘In A House With No Mirrors (You’ll Never Get Old)’ from the otherwise maligned collaboration with Tony Da Gatorro, and the melodic gem ‘Shark Ridden Waters’. And then a couple of roadies bring on an airplane double seat and he has the perfect prop for the shaggy dog story of ‘Skylon’! As the sky makes its own psychedelic light show in the evening gloom, Gruff’s strange but wonderful psych-pop is the perfect soundtrack to day tripping into night. (by Ged M)

For more pictures of the festival, go here.


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Blitzen Trappen visualise sound of new album
Extended Katsenjamming
Yuck Spit Out New Album Update, Share First Track
Need Replacements For Your Old Vinyl? Alt-Rock Pioneers' Reissues Coming Soon
Music & Booze At Old Spitafields Independent Music Market This Saturday
Micachu and The Shapes New Album Could Be Good... Or Bad
Public Image Ltd.'s New Album Can Only Mean Trouble (And Rants About Plumbers...)
Alive & On Fire: The Dead Weather Announce First Album In Five Years
A Spectre From The Past With Veruca Salt's New LP? Listen In Full!
Foxtails Brigade "Far Away and Long Ago"
North By North "Pistoletta"
Die Liga der gewöhnlichen Gentlemen "Nach dem Spiel"
Theatre Royal "The Days Grow Hotter"
Oliver Gottwald "Freunde fürs Leben"
Heart/Dancer "Outro"
Clowwns "Idiot Bouncing"
Double Denim "Wide Open"
Flout "Rainchecks"
The Scenes "City Of White Blankets"


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