I held the hand that threw the stone…

As I listen to the recordings, last week’s Gravenhurst gig in Bristol is growing and growing in my mind. They’ve come out really well, Talbot’s complex playing and brittle voice are very clear, as are the strength of his songs and how personable and likeable the man is.

Here are three more songs, (you really should listen to these…)

 

I Turn My Face to the Forest Floor

Black Holes in the Sand

Circadian

 

I think I’m going to dig the End of the Road tape out…

The dead see through the eyes of the living

Standing at the Louisiana, Tuesday night, waiting for a graceful Gravenhurst to make their way into a stuffy upper room, I was struck by the thought that I’d not been here for a good three months. I don’t mean “here at the Louie” (my maiden visit, as you’re asking), but “here, tippy-toed with excitement in front of an empty stage, sound-check completed, guitars tuned and a-ready, waiting for some… Live Music once again”.

Gravenhurst

In short, Gravenhurst are the first band I’ve seen since the Summer, since the heady (muddy) days of End of the Road, the last act I saw that weekend being… the chubby songsmith himself.

Since then, I’ve got copies of “The Western Lands”, which I know pretty well now, and this year’s “A Ghost in Daylight”, which I know less well, but which is being touted amongst those who know as a runner for the “best of ‘12” gongs.

He’s a funny looking bloke, Nick Talbot, not yer colour-by-numbers rock star, glasses, plain shirt and jeans, a little on the plump side; but these are, of course, all good, nay exemplary, reasons to like the man.

Apart from this though, it can’t be denied that the man can write a good tune, and is a deceptively good guitar player. Ably backed by Rachel Lancaster on bass, keyboards and vocals and a boisterous Claire Adams on percussion and vocals, Talbot put on a really accomplished evening, running through a good handful of songs from the two albums I knew and some new-to-me ( though I suspect, old) songs that were similarly spell-binding.

Most of the time, the guitar playing and backing was delicate and well-constructed, but there were moments when all players cut loose and let themselves go a little. The extended feedback ending to the main set was particularly cathartic.

I do like his words, as well, languidly delivered, which haunt, occasionally taunt but refuse to be pinned down. One of the songs I didn’t know, Cities Beneath the Sea, was particularly impressive and has been on my mind all week, with its compelling image of the dead powerless to stop us repeating their mistakes. Powerful thoughts…

I’ll leave you with a recording of that song from the night, but I hope to put a few more up in due course..

Cities Beneath the Sea

I believe this was Gravenhurst’s last date of their UK tour, but I’m sure he’ll be along soon and when he is, I recommend (urge) you to see them. Classy stuff…

End of the Road ’12 – Best Sets of the Weekend

So that was End of the Road. Lordy!

I had a ball, really, a much brighter experience than Green Man this year. To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s because of the weather (GM = foul; EotR = mostly fine), but for me End of the Road far outshone Green Man in pretty much every respect. I was very impressed with EotR – they just seemed to do everything right.

Hmmm… next year…

Lucky Seven – Best of End of the Road ‘12

I’ve not been entirely idle since then. As usual I have a mountain of recordings, some of which I’ll post about soon, some of which I may never use. But while I’m sorting myself out, I thought I’d put together a Best of… compilation of some of the recordings I have. It’s hardly exhaustive – I saw some great sets and by all accounts missed some great sets too. Also some of the great sets were not unfortunately great recordings (combination of wind on the mic / being surrounded by gibbering ninnies / being a gibbering ninny myself…)

Anyway here goes:

Midlake – “Roscoe”

A combination of a long day and the first rain of the weekend meant I was hanging on a bit when Midlake made their way onto the Garden Stage. Pretty much straight away however, I was woken up by a really accomplished performance, mixing material from The Courage of Others and The Trials of Van Occupanther with a few new songs. Lovely set which the band themselves seemed to really enjoy. All very good mannered too…

 Alt-J – “Tessellate”

Nearly missed this set altogether, drinking and chatting with friends, and when we rolled up at the Big Top, we were met with the biggest crowd I saw in there all weekend. Once we’d elbowed our way in (and I’d lost all the people in was with), Alt-J put on a really tight performance, going through most of their record, in what felt like an absolute sauna. Indeed at times it felt like listening to the recording itself so polished was their performance (I don’t mean that in a bad way…)

Jeffrey Lewis and the Junkyard – “Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song”

Didn’t really know anything about Jeffrey Lewis and actually missed his scheduled Garden Stage spot earlier on the Friday. Fortunately, he did a few songs later on that evening in the Tipi Tent. What a character he is! His songs were alternately garage-y, throw-away, poignant and always funny. Another highlight was his PowerPoint presentation on the history of Punk Rock on the Lower East Side 1950-75, all written in limerick form, which really needs YouTubing…

First Aid Kit – “Emmylou”

Another set that was packed out, and which I also nearly missed part of was this one by First Aid Kit. I really didn’t realise they were so popular, but with hindsight there was a bit of a buzz about them for most of the previous day. Just the three of them but they made an enormous noise and went down very well.

I Was Gone – Woods

The reason I was late for First Aid Kit was that I simply couldn’t tear myself away from Woods on the Main Stage, who were a bit geeky at first but really started to cut loose about half way through and by the end were really “wigging out” (I think the term is…). Once I’d got used to Jeremy Earl’s high pitched vocals, it was all good from there…

Analogue Wheel – Yeti Lane

About half way through the weekend I started to feel that I was spending too much time seeing bands I knew, (and in some cases had seen before), and not enough time investigating new bands. So for that reason, I ditched Patti Smith and went to see French psychedelic duo Yeti Lane. Best decision of the weekend, didn’t regret it for a second. The duo consisted of a drummer with electronic noodling duties and another “wigging out” guitarist. Particularly liked their retro, Doctor Who-style electronics desk…

Ghost of St Paul – Gravenhurst

Last set of the weekend was Gravenhurst, who again I didn’t know at all, but was realty impressed by. A really quiet, precise set that finished rather too quickly and prompted me to buy the last two releases.

A lovely weekend altogether…

Best of End of the Road ‘12