Album Review: Jessica Pratt – Quiet Signs

For all the qualities Jessica Pratt’s music is rich in, its peculiar relationship with time is the one that’s the most undeniably headf***ing.

Quiet Signs sounds like it could’ve been written at any point during the last five decades such is the rootless universality of its grain; in making everything appear to have stood still, the Californian has stolen its secrets and convinced us she doesn’t exist. Take for example As The World Turns, which contains the first moment on which words appear, disembarking gently as if summoned up from a dimension somewhere between magic and the stars, Pratt’s voice elfin and yet indefinably alive. Built from little more than two or three repeated chords, the effect is mesmerising, an uncorking of the playful detachment from which the singer rarely deviates.


We begin, however, with Opening Night, its notes sketched from a gently coaxed piano, Pratt’s melodic hums drifting in from a distant breeze. The title is a reference to John Cassavates’ 1977 film of the same name, a visceral drama about the cost and duality of both performance and performing which she claims was a source of inspiration, albeit tangentially, throughout the recording process.

One aspect of the woozy disorientation Quiet Places brings on is the constant sensation of being in two places at once, the sound bending around vocals which are often gently distorted and hazy, the ambiguous words like shadows. Often voices come from the distant past; Fare Thee Well seems to be haunted by the spirit of Karen Carpenter, while all Here My Love’s gorgeous, skeletal bossa nova lacks is the footsteps and shy loneliness of Astrud Gilberto.

This chamber in which the silence is as loud as the notes is something which follows a trail of precedent: on her eponymously titled first album, Pratt recorded using solely analogue equipment, a deliberately lo-fi technique dispensed with for the first time here by relocating to a Brooklyn studio. The resultant shift meant even something this slight – nine songs clocking in at less than thirty minutes – took almost 18 months to finish.

The glacial pace of its creation has no bearing however on the richness and ethereal fascination of the material. On Poly Blue a flute spirals gaily, pirouetting around sing-song tones whilst the almosts and nothings are as happy and intimate as a stolen kiss. Like those, Quiet Signs is a series of simple pleasures, on Silent Song words pipe innocently about a state of mind that harbours both love and regret: ‘Soft, sweet as the air/I longed to stay with you/Or did I belong to my song?’, while the organ of closer Aeroplane gives it the tone of a weary confessional, the gentle flow weaving through the husk of another dead affair.

Musically there are few parallels with other artists who can induce this sort of dappled nostalgia – the only other obvious one being Scottish duo Boards Of Canada, who twenty years ago on Music Has The Right To Children fused cinematics, hip-hop and mellowed ambience into a dreamy teleport that remains a similarly tripped-out form of suspended animation.

In the end though, it all comes inevitably back to time: the time you’ll lose listening to this record until you’ve managed to work it out, and the time you’ll spend wishing you were listening to it instead of being distracted by the snakes of counterfeit real life.

Once locked away again from there, Quiet Signs will leave you stranded in your own head.

(Andy Peterson)

By Live4ever - Posted on 11 Feb 2019 at 10:07am 

Album Review: The Specials – Encore

This shouldn’t be happening.

It’s indicative of where Blighty is right now, both musically and socially, that this album has not only been made (the first album from this version of the Specials in forty years) but also that it’s depressingly relevant.

A quick recap: The Specials shot to fame in the late 1970s with a string of Top 10 singles. Their ska sound was revivalist, but the content wasn’t. Social commentary was the order of the day against a backdrop of urban decay and violence in the inner cities, most famously detailed on their 1981 UK number one single Ghost Town. From there they became something of a revolving door for members, to an extent that you’d need a flow chart to keep track of it. They span off into various collectives but always maintained a key message of equality and, most especially, anti-racism.

They’ve been ‘back’ for a good while now, but Encore is their first album of new material in that time. Sadly, in the age of Brexit, austerity and Black Lives Matter, they and their message have never been more prescient and vital.


Although a cover (the original by the Equals back in 1973), opener Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys is their manifesto; ‘The world will be half breed’, they sing against a disco funk that Chic would be proud of. Hammering home the message, B.L.M. (see above) is a desperate tale of one Jamaican man (guitarist Lynval Golding) orating his experiences of discrimination from being a Windrush passenger to strolling around contemporary America. Lead single Vote For Me pulls from their past most obviously; the haunting trumpet echoing Ghost Town as Terry Hall laments the dire state and short-termism of modern British politics. The Lunatics is another diatribe against those in power, they having unsurprisingly ‘taken over the asylum’. It’s not hard to see who he’s referring to. (Hint: he lives in a white house.)

By now you’ve got the gist; Breaking Point is an ooompa-loompa tread around where we are as a western society, with all the pressures we work within. Embarrassed By You is a scathing condemnation of the more confidently certain characters that walk our streets and occupy our screens. Blam Blam Fever takes a more light-hearted tack on rising gun crime. Best of all is 10 Commandments, with vocals from Saffiyah Khan, the young woman who was famously photographed standing up to a member of the EDL. It puts you in her shoes and is unforgiving but enlightening.

If this all sounds a bit intense, fear not. Musically the Coventry mob are perhaps more jaunty than they’ve ever been, their traditional ska sound given a rhythmic bounce which is held together by some outstanding bass work. Closer We Sell Hope is more reggae than ska and accentuates the band’s strength as more than a one trick pony, a slower beat requiring much more discipline. ‘We’ve got to take care of each other’ as a closing salvo complements the opening track perfectly.

There’s an argument to be made that their peers four decades ago were Madness and The Jam, in musical style and lyrics respectively. Paul Weller no longer sings the songs of the suburbs, and Madness do what they always do. Probably due to their own internal diversity, The Specials were always more intent on railing against the wrongs of life. It’s no different on Encore, and once peace is made with the sound of men in their 50s railing against the inequalities of life, you’re left bewildered as to why they should still be doing it.

We’ve never needed them more, but to be listening to music of this quality is some consolation.

(Richard Bowes)

By Live4ever - Posted on 05 Feb 2019 at 9:44am 

Review: The Room In The Wood – The Mars EP

There are as many complainants about music wickedly going unseen, unheard or unloved as there are those who talk about the lasting differences between the stuff produced in Liverpool versus almost anywhere else in Britain.

Both groups have a point but neither really bottles the essence of The Room In The Wood, a confection of Paul Cavanagh and Dave Jackson, working together again for the first time since their highly cultish post-punk outfit The Room split back in 1985.

Since reuniting they’ve been prolific; in 2018 releasing the EP Magical Thinking and their eponymous debut album – both, whatever accusations of bias you can level, cruelly ignored by the public at large – and now this, three more new songs and an encore, each of which borrow in different ways from a grab-bag of mostly Northern eccentrica, showcasing in the process their multi-threaded and unorthodox approach to learning new tricks.


The title-track is an admirably riffy sideways look at whether the red planet is the sort of place that, courtesy of the damaged Elon Musk, billions of normal people who want to stop our own world and get off could use as a lifeboat, a hope dashed in the deadpanned, scientifically accurate lyrics, ‘Mars can’t save us/Mars has no air’.

The duo reckon that this paired together with Time Machine – in form laid back and almost jazzy but about H.G. Wells hopping back in his gizmo to the start of a failed love affair – gives the impression of a scientific edge, but if anything this is primal learning, not the stuff of Bunsen burners and lab coats.

If there’s a welcoming unorthodoxy to that approach, it’s equally a cliché to automatically associate the region with a left of centre political consciousness. The duo seem more than happy though to respond to it on Every Lie, a marching sort of blues which doffs a hat to Johnny Cash whilst decrying the rise of the populist right, both too close to home and in Trump’s morally crippled America.

Before you can fully wrap your head around that they conclude with Get Clear, the song’s Latin mood a cryptic background for a tale which is ostensibly about a cult member performing an intervention on themselves whilst apparently acting it out in a crackling, ancient Spaghetti Western.

Each to their own. Up until now The Room In The Wood have been something of a secret society in a city which intentionally or not loves to keep good things to itself. Mars won’t save us, but music like this gives us more of a chance of redemption.

(Andy Peterson)

By Live4ever - Posted on 01 Feb 2019 at 10:13am 

Live Review: Al Moses & This Feeling’s Big In 2019 tour at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff

By Live4ever - Posted on 26 Jan 2019 at 7:33am 

Andrew Cooper

Wales continues to obtain high scores for the quality (and quantity) of guitar bands it produces, and 2019 also marks the year when Cardiff gets to host its first ever This Feeling ‘Big In…’ gig.

A sold-out show at the iconic Clwb Ifor Bach venue tonight (23rd Jan) puts Bute first up; their latest single Rest Assured shows their aptitude for catchy riffs combined with steady drum beats. The combination works, showing how far they’ve come, there’s confidence and presence. Similarly, The Rotanas’ infectious Rolling Stones-encounter-Oasis riff-ridden tunes are executed well. Frontman Harry Watton and guitarist James Wilson entertain the crowd and deliver their intense indie rock and roll with energy and vigour.


Following exposure on UK local and national radio, Newport’s indie kid Jack Perrett has been at the receiving end of acclaim for songs which take their inspiration from The Stone Roses and Oasis. Tonight, tracks such as Like A Fever and Drunk And Stoned are a great indicator of Perrett’s knack for measured songwriting, it’s an impressive performance highlighting the style and consistency of his music.

The Pitchforks, meanwhile, continue to impress with songs like Afflictions and Waste Of A Day demonstrating their gift for writing melodically without losing energy and pace. Having gained respect for the high-intensity of their live shows, it’s a strong delivery here too inviting moshing, diving and singing, and leaves no doubt about the band’s strengths.

But headliners Al Moses’ performance is something else entirely. The release of debut single I Want More created a buzz, the loud guitars, catchy riffs and melodic-writing forced a traditional genre into new territory. What they do feels fresh and new. What’s delivered live is special. It’s loud but refined, super-forceful yet adapted. It’s individual and exciting. The chemistry between the two frontmen, Jack Shephard and Daf Thomas, is fascinating; think of Carl and Pete, or Liam and Noel. It’s on that scale of intensity.

Taking ownership of the stage from the start, they kick things off with infectious confidence and self-belief whilst exercising their rock mannerisms effectively. The first track is the throbbing punk-rock feel of Taxidermy, followed by Gutter Rock Moxie, both tracks induce energy and excitement in high doses.

Am I So Vulgar and Bad Brother British Empire, followed by Ametuer Pornography and Taragonna, keep things sublimely sweaty with en masse moshing and crowd-surfing, while completing the set with I Want More and He Truly Is The Son Of God creates still more euphoria. It’s chaotic and insane, in a good way, and they conclude events by giving their instruments a good kick.

Al Moses project youthful rock and roll spirit and attitude. Considering the pace things are moving at, it’s unlikely to be more of the same next time.

(Susan Hansen)

December 17, 2018


Blossoms › Music › Review ›

Live Review: ‘How far they’ve come’ – Blossoms at Brixton O2 Academy, London

By Live4ever - Posted on 14 Dec 2018 at 10:00am 

Blossoms @ Bristol O2 Academy, December 13th 2018 (Jessica Bartolini / Live4ever)

The ability to maintain an independent identity as a band whilst upgrading live sets to O2-size venues and stadiums, playing with the Stone Roses at Wembley and being signed to a major label can’t be straightforward, but Blossoms continue to manage the conflict with ease.

A large part of their success is driven by the fact that they were authentic to begin with; derived from a scene and environment that people love with a continued demand attached. Whilst the duration of Blossoms’ live sets has close to doubled, and performance and production values are now slick and polished, it is still the same band. With every music fan in Japan knowing who they are, even just compared with last year they have transformed at a rate few can match.

What’s evident tonight (13th Dec) – when Liam Gallagher is playing not far away in Islington – is the increase in confidence and intensity of expression and projection, of a more character-led and dramatic sort. The set is well compiled and focuses on hits from their debut album coupled with tracks from this year’s follow-up Cool Like You.


Frontman Tom Ogden previously spoke about watching Amy, the tragic documentary about Amy Winehouse, and how it led towards a more intimate songwriting approach, and the last gig of their current tour documents this – it’s a supreme show compared with some previous highly credible ones. A spirited crowd is on alert following a blasting out of the speakers of I Am The Resurrection, This Charming Man, Mardy Bum and Supersonic, and Blossoms do not disappoint.

Kicking off with the energetic I Can’t Stand It, followed by Unfaithful, both nicely complemented by Honey Sweet, leads to a vivid response. The idea of moshing at a Blossoms gig is not what springs to mind, but it’s actually happening. Cool Like You and Blow follow, as do How Long Will It Last and Getaway. ‘Do we have anyone in love in the room?’, asks Tom before launching into the upbeat, synth-ridden Love Talk and the disco-synth anthem I Just Imagined You. ‘We have wanted to headline this venue for a long time’, he reveals, just before the indie blues feel of Smashed Pianos, which mercurially leads onto Blown Rose.

The band’s versatility is obvious, stretching from the Twin Peaks/Stranger Things’ vibe of Stranger Still to the pop values of Between The Eyes. ‘This is for anyone who’s ever been heartbroken’, declares Tom before an acoustic version of My Favourite Room.

The set is finalised over a concoction of You’re Gorgeous, Last Christmas, Half The World Away and Don’t Look Back in Anger, while the decision to lend a tribute The Smiths with Bigmouth Strikes Again in the encore, of which At Most A Kiss and Charlemagne are also a part, works and shows how far they have come.

Blossoms are only going to get bigger; the thought that they could be headlining Wembley in a year or two is by no means ridiculous.

(Susan Hansen)

December 10, 2018


Gig › Music › Review ›

Cabbage detail year-end gig in Manchester

Cabbage detail year-end gig in Manchester

By Live4ever - Posted on 06 Dec 2018 at 12:21pm 

Cabbage performing @ Live At Leeds 2018 (Gary Mather / Live4ever)

Cabbage will see out 2018 with a gig at Night People in Manchester on December 19th.


The festival track Smells Like Christmas is another of the band’s last moves in a year which saw them release debut album Nihilistic Glamour Shots.

“On Exhibit A the band collectively proffer a staggering, perverse strain of country on which to hoist the zero-sum farce of modern politics on its own petard, whilst Perdubaro’s ramshackle post-punk sounds like it might fall apart at any minute, and Disinfect Us dices surf rock, desperation and menace like measures in a polemical cocktail,” we said of it.

“Thus is the influence of Mark E. Smith measured from – dum, da, daaah – BEYOND THE GRAVE. What was and remains his gift is that people can see fit to reject everything around them which defines their generation, seek to personify it, ridicule it and make others question their values without ever asking a single question of their own.”

Album Review: Beat Happening – ‘Look Around’

Look AroundIt’s easy, through the rosy tint of nostalgia, to believe that indie’s Year Zero came with the release of C-86, the NME’s now legendary compilation of bands from across a musical spectrum which at the time felt all consuming, but in retrospect proved to be less so.

As our tastes became moulded over time by a particular strain of machismo led, sixties-filtered tropes, history became even more blurred, to the point that a British flag would be draped over everything with direct lineage to 1976, a panoply of genres from post-punk to Britpop.

Beat Happening are not only a neat, cross-Atlantic rebuttal to that theory in evolutionary terms – their first EP was released in 1983 – but also proof that the fiercely non-conformist values of punk could be subverted into a perverse art form, one whose ethic was almost consciously as much anti-music as it was anti-performance.

Formed in 1983 in Olympia, Washington, local college students Calvin Johnson and Heather Lewis along (eventually) with guitarist Bret Lunsford found themselves feted almost from the outset to be either critically adored or condemned. Kurt Cobain biographer Michael Azerrad devoted an entire passage of his alt-rock odyssey Our Band Could Be Our Life to them yet, both live and in the press, they drew criticism and aggression which ran in almost inverse proportion to their apparent passivity.

To further both parallel and underline his credentials as an auteur with a prescient Alan McGee-like vision, Johnson had in 1982 set up the K label (based initially in his kitchen), one which prospers today and (in)famously whose logo the doomed Cobain had tattooed on his arm.

Back with the Beats, ‘Look Around‘ is a chronological retrospective which spans an on and off career of fifteen years, one in which they offered cues to generations of kids who grew up to cool out on twee, lo-fi and stereotype free songs complemented by ham-fisted instrument craft. Their gift was to downsize the egotism of rock and roll, hence the elemental feel of opener ‘Our Secret‘, its childlike simplicity rendering the chutzpah of contemporary entertainment awkwardly redundant. Johnson’s hugely atonal delivery – since mimicked by vocalists in a swathe of alternative bands – is then as now however a bridge for the determined to cross before enlightenment.

Not that singing duties were his alone; Lewis providing a slightly more harmonic counter, one which challenges far less on the otherwise just as rudimentary early material ‘Foggy Eyes‘, ‘What’s Important‘ and ‘In Between‘.

Whoever was at the mic, the whirl of superficially disparate influences – garage psychedelia, folk, primeval fifties grease monkey strokes – meant a lack of mould which many British groups who so obviously aped them could’ve learned from. Johnson’s evil, drug guzzling, sex monster twin plies his trade for instance on ‘Bad Seeds‘ (think groovy, early B-52’s), ‘Bewitched‘ (ditto but instead fellow Washingtonians The Sonics) and ‘Pine Box Derby‘ (The Cramps). As occasionally jarring as its libido-spilling wantonness displays a much needed sense of self-deprecation and humour, there are still – whether by coincidence or design – just as many incidences of ‘Teenage Caveman‘s or ‘Angel Gone‘s, cut from cloth so basic they skate the line between genius and parody.

Given the thousands of words spilt about the trio since the time when an inky, decrepit fanzine was the only way to meet like-minded people, ‘Look Around’s finest moments are found in both an archetype and key moment of Beat Happening’s unreserved profundity. The bubblegum star prize goes to ‘Cast a Shadow‘, on which over a rolling, dark-eyed surf pop rifferola Johnson almost reveals some inflection over his words of misanthropic longing. By contrast, the grit in the oyster is ‘Godsend‘ over nine minutes of forlorn, latter dayish understatement, leaving you to consider that having seen pretty much all of their oeuvre out and seen them all back, was this now a moment of ironic mimickery, or an oblique celebration of what they’d somehow achieved? Anyway, it’s still an essay in build and build, eschewing the notion of climax, always spinning like a launderette machine left alone in the middle of a rainy afternoon.

Exercises like this one always seem to have that vague feeling of commodity, no matter how much hipster wattage can be squeezed out of the artists in question. Thinking laterally there’s just as much argument that Beat Happening accidentally created the professionally amateur ethos which has brought us everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Beck.

Whether this set of unlikely parables constitutes proof to you of something as radical as that or not, it’s undeniably an always fascinating listen.

(Andy Peterson)

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Album Review: Holy Holy – ‘When The Storms Would Come’

holyWith a building hype in their native Australia, Holy Holy’s debut album When The Storms Would Come finally crosses over the Pacific and gets its European release.

The nucleus of this musical project comprises singer-songwriter Timothy Carroll and guitarist/composer Oscar Dawson. The duo initially met whilst teaching English in south-east Asia, but Holy Holy didn’t begin until they fortuitously encountered one another again while in Europe some years later.

The duo honed their craft and sound on the snowy streets of Berlin and Stockholm, but eventually returned home and began working with drummer Ryan Strathie (ex-Hungry Kids Of Hungary) and bassist Graham Ritchie. The project’s musical heritage can be traced back to the songwriting and musicianship of artists like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but together with producer Matt Redlich, Holy Holy here have created a remarkably mature, contemporary indie rock record.


The wistful opener Sentimental and Monday’ peers softly like a morning dawn as Dawson’s sparse guitar twinkles transform into razor sharp scrapes and Carroll reflects on the past over a relaxed groove, musing over the fact that time is just a series of moments slowly slipping through our fingers. The booming, eerie single History hypnotizes with a creeping sense of destruction as Carroll’s delivery and sentiment lures and stalks with a tamed rawness that is rare to find.

Carroll’s songwriting, on a fundamental level, is rooted in tradition with influences such as Bruce Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac; the latter’s presence felt on the mystical, acoustic led Outside Of The Heart Of It‘ – in an album full of gorgeous moments, the track’s piano-led outro ranks as its most serene.

The modern desolate balladry of If I Were You‘, meanwhile, gallops over icy arpeggiated guitars as Carroll lists his regrets and misgivings. The results are better when Carroll displays some equanimity, as he does on the album’s most emotionally potent track Wanderer’. “I gave myself to you when I was empty/You filled me up with something that I could hold”, he contently states, coming to terms with the dissolution of a relationship

Dawson’s and Redlich’s modern aesthetic, juxtaposed with Carroll’s conventional songwriting, is the fundamental element that makes Holy Holy a vital project. With its driving rhythm ‘You Cannot Call For Love Like a Dog will surely get audiences swaying, Carroll’s vocals soar over Dawson’s soundscapes as the latter’s guitar heroics close the track with a tasteful dose of bombast. Further on the syrupy flange of Holy Gin drips with psychedelia while Strathie’s dynamic drumming gives the track an underlying dark blues stomp.

Complete with Beach Boys-esque harmonies and inspired leads, A Heroine is a dynamic jangly waltz, and album standout Pretty Strays For Hopeless Lovers is a glorious 6-minute chug encapsulating everything which makes this record special. With a rumbling bassline, entangled harmonies and a driving piano line the track builds into a Crazy Horse influenced guitar freak-out before dreamy closer The Crowdairs and cools, Dawson closing with some David Gilmour influenced slide guitar textures.

Holy Holy join fellow Aussies Tame Impala, Jagwar Ma and Courtney Barnett in what is becoming one of the world’s most vibrant scenes. It’s clear Dawson and Carroll have carefully crafted their material, few debut albums sound this assured, and the music is remarkably mature yet retains a dualistic vibrance that keeps it fresh and exciting.

Carroll dynamically balances rawness with restrained grace as Dawson’s precise arrangements sharpen and deepen his partner’s artistic prose.

Don’t be surprised if the storm of Holy Holy starts making waves across the Atlantic – these two are the real deal.

(Trey Tyler)

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Album Review: Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – ‘Horse Dance’

Horse DanceIn a world where there’s an increasing amount noise – whether it be media or industry – Sweden’s own Josefin Öhrn seeks freedom from the chaos.

Öhrn opens herself to the maelstrom of effects that isolation brings within modern society, and together with her aptly titled backing band The Liberation she deciphers the hazy static of modern culture, transfiguring it into a coolly focused work on the subtle, but deeply rewarding debut album ‘Horse Dance‘.

The album revs-up for launch with ‘Dunes’ as 8-bit synths survey the icy soundscape like an X-Wing looking Luke Skywalker. “It’s not a matter anymore, it’s not a matter of knowing anymore”, Öhrn’s states as live drums and a viciously strummed rhythm guitar roar in, bringing krautrock pulse and energy into the fold. With a relentless rhythm in the driver’s seat, various instruments as well as Öhrn vocals are allowed to fade in and out of the fray with ease, creating a thrilling scenic journey. Momentum reaches fever pitch with a driving high-hat rhythm as synths whir back to place, bookending the track as it started.

The drifting ‘Green Blue Fields’ similarly weaves in subtle flourishes, this time juxtaposing spry wavering guitar lines against a sneakily shuffling disco gallop. Both of these compositions highlight the group’s knack for concise and tactful arrangements.

Öhrn sings with a whispered hush throughout most the album, but it’s clear her voice isn’t the focus here. Her vision is. Her band mates admirably give the material a vibrancy by adding various sonic textures and dynamics, the elegiac Scandinavian influenced ‘You Have Arrived’ a spooky elegy that twitches to life with a deep sub heartbeat and broken trinket synths. Results aren’t as promising on the album’s title-track though, as Öhrn mumbles over cluttered and an overly elongated jam. Album closer ‘Talk’ by contrast tugs in the listener with a hitch bass line before oscillating into a cosmic wonder, Öhrn’s delivery marvelously alluring as her voice mysteriously and playfully pirouettes through the sly rhythmic grooves

Sanity’ and the definitive ‘Take Me Beyond’ see a shift in Öhrn’s approach; both are minimal and relaxed as the production opts for an undulating undercurrent instead of relying on the whirlpool pull of sonic textures that characterize some the album’s weaker material. The Edison-lit guitar prickles illuminate the rhythmic pounce of the former, while the airy breeze of the latter soothes and refreshes as guitars peer and glimmer underneath Öhrn’s celestial vocals.

The tribal jungle beat of ‘Sunny Afternoon’ will rightfully draw comparisons to fellow Swedish artist Lykke Li. Öhrn gives us an unusually harrowing vocal performance that is equally part Nico and part Florence Welch. The driving fuzz bass acts as a foundation, while ticking guitars and hammering pianos poke the pace along.

At its highest points ‘Horse Dance’ is a remarkably daring and distinctive debut album. Öhrn’s artistic vision is pristine and The Liberation’s execution well delivered. There are moments when the band tend to aimlessly wander through their whims, but for the most part this record is a model work in the beauty of subtlety.

It’s an album you can drift in and out of, yet deserves full attention and patience.

(Trey Tyler)

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Live Review: Public Image Ltd. @ Manchester Academy

Public Image Ltd. live at Manchester Academy (Photo: Gary Mather for Live4ever Media)

Public Image Ltd. live at Manchester Academy (Photo: Gary Mather for Live4ever Media)

Public Image Ltd., and their somewhat notorious frontman John Lydon, are never too far away from hyperbole.

Which is ironic, as Lydon is probably one of rock’s only protagonists who would loathe such language and sentiment. And that alone is always amusing.

But amusement aside, it’s hard not think in such terms when confronted by PiL’s live show.

It’s not that they’re breaking any new ground, they already did that some time ago. It’s not that they are rewriting the rules; they also did that quite some time ago. And it’s not that they are ageing gracefully, they are as disgraceful as ever. Lydon’s almost childlike persona and disbelief at the world around him seems somehow more authentic with age. He seems to have grown into his incredulity.

So what exactly is it they do live? In simple terms they hit hard, and they hit low. This isn’t lavish, or beautiful, and it isn’t about recreating the moment. Instead it seems more about celebrating the moment. These songs feel vibrant and relevant, whether recorded 30 years ago or yesterday. Tracks from their most recent record mingle appropriately with more recognised classics, and it’s no short change.


But as assured as new tracks like ‘Double Trouble‘ or ‘The One‘ may be, their impact does not, and may never, resonate quite as much as the moments that everyone present is there to see. To watch Lydon and PiL in full flow during classics such as ‘This Is Not a Love Song‘, ‘Rise‘ and ‘Public Image‘ is to witness when the hyperbole spills forth.

Click here for our full photo gallery from the Manchester show

The fire that burned in these songs is still present. ‘Public Image’ is almost the pinnacle of punk, what the Sex Pistols never achieved (but should have). Still today it feels vital, harsh and brilliant. ‘This Is Not a Love Song’ is as unhinged and obtuse live as it was when it was released, ‘Rise’ as jubilant a way to finish a show as any band could ever hope for.

This is a wonderfully exciting constant; ‘Poptones‘, ‘Warrior‘ and ‘Disappointed‘ all amaze, and all bring with them the intensity and excitement that becomes the staple setting for the evening. PiL may not be as young or as central to music as they once were, but that never affects the power of what they deliver. And deliver they do, time and time again.

PiL are originators, unwavering they have stood their ground even after all these years; they know what they do isn’t for everyone, and they quite simply don’t care. It’s this attitude which makes them so exciting live. What they do isn’t about driving sales, or pleasing crowds, it’s about the music and it always has been.

And it’s this commitment to the music itself that defines the performance. It’s all commitment and attitude and that is a truly brilliant combination when achieved with the kind of style and tunes that PiL have on all the pretenders.

Here, standing before a very excited Manchester crowd, are the originators, still bringing the thunder.

(Dylan Llewellyn-Nunes)

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