This will be a first, I’ve not written a gig review before… bear with me…
Somewhere around late summer last year I started listening to the Song by Toad podcast (aka the Toadcast). It’s a brilliant, weekly(ish) compilation of new music, or other random-but-strung-together-by-a-theme music, hosted by Matthew Young. Although Matthew is obviously far more informed and knowledgeable about music than I am – he actually goes to gigs and writes about music exclusively on his blog, whereas I write about anything that comes to hand – it seems as though we have a roughly similar taste and background… although I toyed around with metal and heavy rock in my later years at school, I was pretty much an indie kid at university and have been into a lot of guitar stuff ever since.
One of the first artists I discovered via the Toadcast was Alex Cornish, who was featured in Toadcast #5. I think I downloaded a track straight after listening to the podcast, and bought Alex’s album immediately after it was released on iTunes… in fact I remember exchanging emails with Alex at the time, I was travelling and wanted to get the album on download whereas he we encouraging me to get the CD, which to be honest I should have done. I’ve been following his MySpace ever since. Loved the album and had been hoping to catch him live, so when I saw he was going to be in London playing as part of Curious Generation at the Troubadour, I jumped at the chance to go along.
We’ve established that I’m not a regular gig-goer, and I’d never been to the Troubadour before. The website describes the venue as “the last 50s coffee house in Earls Court”, which sounded promising from the start. Basically it’s a coffee house / bar / restaurant upstairs with a small cellar for live music and poetry reading underneath. I stumbled in down the wrong staircase behind one of the bands, with the result that I arrived before the doors officially opened and was assumed to be part of someone’s entourage – kind of weird but I don’t think they minded my honest mistake too much. For reference, the way in to the cellar is right at the back of the coffee house! The cellar is an intimate venue – I don’t think there could have been more than a hundred or so people, and the music filled the space pretty nicely. I’d definitely go to other sets at the Troubadour in future.
The overall sound of Alex’s album is a bit low-key and acoustic (which, in case you hadn’t guessed, I like). The difference here was that I’d not heard the tracks performed with a full band before, and I have to say that some of them were transformed. For example, one of my least-favourite tracks on the album is “Scotland the Brave”, but having heard it performed live my opinion has changed completely. In fact every track was superb. I was grinning like a mad thing throughout most of the set, and carried on grinning afterwards. It was an excellent gig. If you have a chance to see him on his current tour, I suggest you take it. Apparently the next gig in London is sold out already.
Chatting to Alex afterwards, it sounds like the next album is coming along well and that there is going to be a bigger sound now that he has the band together. We got a preview of one of the tracks, “Look Out” (prompting much excitement from my section of the audience since Alex’s friends have heard it before), and frankly I’m looking forward to hearing more.
Snippets of Alex Cornish
I’m told that Alex is “a talented footballer and an incredibly nice guy”. Well I can’t validate his footballing skills, but I do agree that he’s a tremendous guy. As a sidenote, it’s a bit of a weird experience when you and the artist recognise each other from MySpace! Very cool though. And it’s strange what can happen when you hand out Moo cards and take notes in a Moleskine notebook – apparently people think you’re “the press” or “a proper journalist”. Hardly, but thanks 🙂
Apologies for the poor-quality pictures, I wish I’d taken the DSLR rather than a compact.
Joker’s Daughter; Rosie and the Goldbug
Joker’s Daughter kicked off proceedings. They were an acoustic pair who played some really beautiful, haunting folksy tunes. The venue was still sufficiently quiet to make them stand out, too – I think later in the evening as it got busier, they might have struggled to make an impact. I need to check them out in more detail, as I really liked the music.
Snippets of Joker’s Daughter
The third band of the evening, Rosie and the Goldbug, were seriously entertaining. I can’t quite figure out their influences… at times the sound was Tori Amos (“Soldier Boy”), at times nearly Blondie, and the look (glittering minidress and peacock feather) was reminiscent of Moloko. Some fantastic banter in between the tracks, and a lot of energy. Thundering bass and piano, and the lead singer kept demanding “more vocals” from the engineer! Another band I’ll be exploring some more.
Snippets of Rosie and the Goldbug
I wasn’t able to stay for the last artist, Ryan Scott, so I can’t comment. If anyone who was there has anything to add, please let me know what I missed!
Met some fantastic folks, most of whom knew Alex already. I hope I didn’t come across as some kind of MySpace stalker 🙂
Now, if you want so read what a proper music blogger thinks about Alex Cornish, instead of the inane and under-informed ramblings of a random enthusiastic fan, go and read Matthew’s review of Monday’s gig in Edinburgh. You’ll also find a few samples of Alex’s music there, and on his MySpace page. And once you’ve done that, go get his album Until the Traffic Stops, from iTunes or Amazon or your vendor of choice (eMusic have his singles, but not the album). Do it!