Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Dinosaur Pile Up – Birmingham Hare and Hounds – 10-10-10

I arrived at the venue at 8 thinking I was an hour late and would be seeing bands straight away. Instead, I walked into a almost empty room to some chill out music, I would have thought I was in the wrong venue if it wasn’t for the words ‘Mona Lisa’ taped to the amps at the back of the stage. It was a strange feeling being at a rock gig with one of the most happening bands of the moment playing but the room is quiet and I feel like I’m actually going to be in for a slow night.

It turned out I was on time and that the doors where actually at 8 not 7, so I was in for a wait until the first band who I thought was going to be a band called Rase but again I was wrong and it turned out to be a guy and his guitar called Geordie Blake. Geordie gets on stage and jumps into his indie folk sound with slight tones of rock into the mix. His wispy gravelly voice fits the guitar but its missing something.... his band Shana Tova. He plays a half hour set that just sounds like the same song over and over. The audience isn’t really into it except for a few people who turn out to be the next support band.

Black Heart Generator, get on stage and thrash about to lively angsty indie rock. The guitars and bass are heavily distorted with very tinny cymbals which are loud enough to blow your ears out. They let on that both them and Geordie where asked to cover earlier that day which makes sense why the greatly energetic Turbowolf are not playing. No-one says why the two original support bands are not here and it’s such a disappoint that their not as the two new supports just don’t do it for me, they alienate the audience with private jokes but to be fair they have come in at the last minute so you can’t expect to be blown away.

Whatever has made the two supports not show up hasn’t affected Dinosaur Pile Up as they’re here and ready to rock. They get on stage and instantly get a reaction with everyone moving closer to the stage. The crowd has built up and the once dead room has a decent amount of people but is no-where near to being full, which is surprising but as a sign on their amps say ‘Sunday nights are boring’. The audience are not fully rocking out just a nice head nod throughout their set, the band on the other hand, the bassist especially, get into the gig and mosh around and remind me of an early Ash, full of energy and passion. They play a good set and surprisingly play their currently radio heavy song ‘Mona Lisa’ early into their set, which still doesn’t get the crowd motivated enough to jump around.

All in all it was a disappointing night, with Dinosaur Pile Up doing just enough to make it enjoyable. I do think that on another night all the bands would rock your socks off but unfortunately it wasn’t tonight.

Joel Plaskett Interview

Can you give us a brief history about yourself and how you came to be where you are.

I grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia then my family moved to Halifax when I was 12. I started playing music when I was 14 years old to have something to do with some friends. We called ourselves Nabisco Fonzie. When we started writing our own songs at 16 years old we changed our name to Thrush Hermit (named after a bird called the Hermit Thrush, we thought it sounded like Pink Floyd or something or Coney Hatch totally 1970's. Unbeknownst to us, with a name like that we were destined for failure in the UK!). We started touring when we finished high school, opening for our friends, Sloan. We signed a record deal with Elektra in the US in 1996. In 1999 we released our last and best record, Clayton Park, and then broke up. I had a solo record come out that same year called In Need of Medical Attention. I was 25. On the heels of the Hermit break up, I formed a three piece band called The Joel Plaskett Emergency with Dave Marsh (drums) and Timmy Brennan (bass). We made two cool records and toured Canada a lot and built up a really solid fan base. In 2004 I recorded another solo record called Ladeda and have flipped back and forth between Emergency band records and solo records. I've built up my audience through touring and playing different venues. Rock bars, tiny songwriter venues, theatres and outdoor gigs. The biggest gig was last year when The Emergency opened for Paul McCartney in Halifax to 40,000 people.

What was the idea behind your latest album Three? Was it due to it being your third solo album or was there something deeper, due to there being alot of threes included in the album in one way or another?

Three came from a few places. It was my third solo album, I was 33 when I recorded it and many of the songs came together as titles being the same word three times (Rollin, Rollin, Rollin). So I made a triple album! Thematically the records are divided into three connected themes. Going away (being left behind), being alone, and returning home. Simple but I wanted to make something sprawling that reflected the life I live and the things I think about.

You've done quite alot of touring over the years and with 2 tours of the Uk just this year, you must be pretty comfortable with moving around. So how do you actually find touring? Is it hard being away from home for so long?

Leaving home isn't getting any easier but touring is an important part of my life. Travelling can be interesting and I meet a lot of great people. I like conversations, especially in Ireland. I love performing and bringing the songs to people but there are only so many days in the year. I really focused on the UK and Ireland this year but I had to bow out of an Australian tour that started at Christmas. There's only so much that can happen at once and I want to make sure when I go somewhere that all the ducks are in a row and I'm ready to rock.

Has anything ever happened to you whilst you've been on the road over here?

not quite sure how to answer than one... I drank too much whiskey a few times but all in all it rolled pretty smoothly.

During your set supporting Barenaked Ladies you played a kids toy keyboard that cost you only a few dollars, do you like experimenting with new sounds and weird instruments?

Yeah, I like weird instruments but I'm a hack on piano. I have a variety of guitars at home because I find there is a different song in all of them. I try to find old unique instruments. I also like old drum machines. They sound freaking cool. Like JJ Cale.

My Space seems to be a big tool in the music industry these days, with artists communicating with their fans over it and some even ditching their own website and having just a My Space site, what are your opinions on My Space as a tool in the music industry?

Sure! Whatever works and helps bring people to the shows. Having said that, the internet could go away and I'd be a happy person without it.

Where would you like to see yourself this time next year?

In the mirror. Yes, I'm still alive!

One last question that we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a zebra and a giraffe which would you be and why?

Probably a giraffe. I'm tall and skinny too. Zebras are a little showy.

Thanks for your time; do you have a message for your fans reading this?

Dear fans, You keep me cool. Thanks, Joel

Barenaked Ladies with support from Boothby and Joel Plaskett - Birmingham O2 Academy - 10-09-10

Tonight I decided I’d go for something different and try a bit of indie folk instead of the normal metal or punk, a bit of a refreshing change of pace. Tonight Canada’s finest, the Barenaked Ladies are playing the o2 academy in Birmingham and as I’ve always had a soft spot for them I’d head on down. Arriving at the venue I can see BNL attract a wide range of different ages from young kids with their parents to old folks with their carers.

The first act on the bill is Boothby Graffoe, a comedy vetran who writes material for people such as Omid Djalil and who has his own show on Radio 4. He comes on stage with his pint and instantly makes jokes about Birmingham, most of his short set is mainly him making jokes but the bits of music he does play is funny and keeps the crowd happy. For his last song he is joined on stage by BNL bassist Jim Creeggan and he sings a song about Hartlepool in which he gets the crowd to join in whilst he records his rhythms and layers them up over one another live to make a rich fun song.

The next act on is Canadian indie musician Joel Plaskett, who unlike Boothby before him has little banter with the audience and just plays the songs, but its great as his songs are rich and full of heart. His latest album is called 3 to 1 and is all about the number 3 which is summed up with his song Through Through and Through a catchy number that reminds me of Bruce Springsteen in places. His songs are beautiful, folksy and have soulful melodic rhythms, its breezy Sunday morning music that’s good to listen to with a hangover. Joel says “where in the home of Sabbath so lets rock” and whips out a 5 dollar keyboard and plays some samba beats whilst using the organ setting, not really rocking but a nice song to sway your hips to.

So the supports are over, and now it’s time for BNL, and as I’m waiting in the photo pit I catch a glimpse of the set list which is 19 songs long, so the audience are in for a treat of songs from all their albums spanning 20 years. They get off to a great start by playing the catchy and upbeat ‘who needs sleep’ then onto ‘the old apartment’ a song about going back to your old house where you and your ex used to live and all the memories it brings back. After that they go into a rap about Birmingham talking about the city centre including things like Selfridges and The Bull Ring. These multi talented musicians switch instruments throughout the gig and also have great crowd banter, they talk about not being used to venues where you can see the carpet pattern, and how they dare the audience to put your tongue on the carpet for two seconds!

The band switches styles and keeps the gig going by belting out a bit of rock roll and guitar solos during ‘I have learned’ and then switch a barbershop style and introduce creepy Russian style music in ‘wouldn’t have it any other way’. BNL are definitely varied as they play a song from their children’s album and then go into a covers medley, which includes; oh ho ho its magic, empire state of mind, tonight’s gonna be a good night then ending on California girls. Whilst they do this amazing medley they dance like Ok Go and do a rap which thanks the audience for coming.

BNL are great and my only bad word is the choice of song they end on which is a terribly slow song called ‘good boy’. I feel they should have ended on one of their hits or the theme tune to Big Bang Theory, but all in all it was a great gig with a lot going on and it may not be rock but it was a great night.