Archive for Nottingham

Paramore Review (Trent FM Arena – 08/11/10)

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , , , on November 9, 2010 by Adam Broome

When I was seventeen, a strange thing was happening. As a teenager in 2007, chances are you were either a Black Parade-er or a Riot-er. The former was MCR’s signature album, epitomising the ’emo’ genre at it’s pinnacle and effectively defining a generation. The latter, however, was an album by a then up-and-coming band called Paramore. ‘Riot!’ was the answer to all anti-emo teens who still wanted some pop-punk to listen to. Paramore themselves started out as an ’emo’ band themselves back in 2005, but went on to create Riot!, which became a pivotal album that bridged the gap between the decline of emo, and the rise of the ‘scenesters’. The band got added publicity with their song ‘Decode’, which was the official soundtrack to the first Twilight film. Last year they released ‘brand new eyes’, which became their most successful album to date.

All in all, this trip down memory lane was an event long in waiting. Myself a fellow ‘rioter’ from three years back, I was willing to make two night runs to get back to Nottingham and catch the band in all their glory. But a friend who had seen them once warned me they were not very good live. Could this band live up to their hype, or were they indeed victims of their own success?

Opening up the night is not B.O.B as expected, but the band ‘Fun.’. They enter out onto a raised platform of a stage. I’m staring at the lead singer’s bare feet for the most part as he prances up and down. It takes all of two minutes for it to dawn on me what I’m in for. Jonas Brothers rip-offs straight out of Disney’s ‘Camp Rock’, playing all the Hannah Montana B-Sides for the kiddy boppers that now encircle me. They dress in 1950s attire, and jump around a little. All in all, they’re just dull. The lead singer asks the audience to sing along, but the drummer is the only one who complies, since it’s only him out of the lot of us who seems to know any of the words. A female guitarist, dressed in leftovers from KT Tunstall’s wardrobe provides the pubescent lads with something to look at. The guitarist stops halfway through a song to re-tune the strings. The singer runs up to him, and sings really loudly down the guitarist’s ear, trying to put on a good show, leading to awkward ducking-away movements and the guitarist strains to hear his chords.

“Come on Nottingham, I know you’ve got hands… let me see your hands!”

Oh p*ss off.

After a short wait, B.O.B enters on, and thus we get the big surprise of the night. His quirky mix of dance and R’n’B hybrids make for some wonderful tunes. ‘Bobby Ray’ has a complete ensemble of backing singers, DJs, dancers and co-performers. The singer swaps guitars several time to show his musical talent – once through a cover of MGMT’s ‘Kids’. He may as well be called ‘Bobby Ray Charles’, such is his passion for wearing shades. He jumps around, dances, and sings with everything he’s got in a show that he gives 100% for his audience. He sweats so much his shades actually slide off and break on the floor. He laughs – he’s enjoying himself too much for it to matter. B.O.B even manages to sing Nothin’ On You, even though the co singer isn’t even here. And, of course, Airplanes is his finale – Hayley Williams acting as ghetto as she can in a puffer jacket, and failing to the extreme, but it’s all in good humour. B.O.B’s energy is reflected by the audience by the time he leaves – everyone is on cloud nine. People next to me say that if Paramore decide to cancel the show now, they would leave perfectly happy.

Then the fabric goes up, and the main event is queued. Girls are crying. When they see my confused look, they explain they’re only crying because they’re about to see Paramore. Then the lights dim, and the fabric collapses. Paramore blast on to the sound of ‘Ignorance’, and quickly screw it up by stopping halfway through the song to introduce themselves as Paramore. Instantly, memories of Emilie Autumn come flooding back with a wave of nausea. You’d expect a shudder of ‘oh dear’ to resonate through the crowd, but no – they love it. In fact, before the first song’s finished, half the front row have already fainted (and that’s not an exaggeration… no, that did actually happen).

So, where to comment first? The two singles from ‘All We Know Is Falling’ are played, and that’s that. About four songs are played from Riot!, and the rest was the ‘brand new eyes’ set list. They asked at one point if anyone had bought their latest album. I felt sorry for anyone who hadn’t. There was a completely out of place country and western song dedicated to their home town, which was quickly followed up with acoustic renditions of some of their other songs, such as ‘When It Rains’. The acoustic set built up the middle section of the concert, and involved the band sitting on sofas and generally not doing a lot.

Hayley Williams is the complete ‘Lee Mack’ as I call it. As you’ll see from the little accompanying video, she asks the audience to sing her songs for her almost every five minutes. She looks tired and bored. Looking back at the video, it seems I’ve caught the best bits. Hayley Williams spends most of the concert walking back and forth, singing the songs without effort or emotion (and frequently out of tune). At one point, she stops the concert and demands the middle-aged ‘Twilight mums’ in the seated area to stand up. Her tone is one of the most condescending I’ve ever heard in a concert.

“Let me. Tell YOU something. YOU. Are at a PARAMORE concert. Those seats are not there to make you comfy. They are there to CATCH you, when you FALL.”

Hayley Williams refuses to continue with the show until the middle-aged women comply. She teeters close to having a full-blown temper tantrum right there on stage. Sighing, the older generations heave themselves up off the seats they’d paid for, realising the arrogant little thing on the stage before them wont back down. Evidently, miss Williams has never heard the term ‘the customer is always right’.

It may please some of you to know that Hayley Williams tripped up during the second song, and also got bottled at one point. Therein lies the heart of the problem of this whole concert – Hayley Williams. The face of Paramore. A woman only one year older than myself, and now a woman corrupted by her own fame. I’m sure she started out genuinely enough, but the Hayley Williams before me now is nothing short of a prima-donna. All she has to do is look at people and they scream. She has become self-centered and arrogant. Self-important. Worst of all, her fellow band mates look bored out their skulls. During one particular moment in the middle of ‘Pressure’, Hayley introduces each individual band member in turn. Eventually, Josh was left to introduce Hayley Williams, and the crowd went berserk. Josh just looked a little sick and angry at the crowd’s reaction. By the way, the famous Paramore ‘back roll’ with bassist and guitarist happened only once. If you blinked, you missed it.

I’ve got to wrap this all up, but you can see where it’s heading. At one point, I felt it might just be that I’m getting too old for this sort of stuff nowadays. Paramore are not at ‘gig’ level anymore, and the stakes are higher. They’re going up against Def Leppard and Rage Against The Machine. It has to be better than this. If you watch the video and think it looks really awesome, I seriously recommend you experience some of the older bands. They know how to do it right. Paramore seem bored with all their songs. AC/DC have forgotten what it’s like to be bored with their music. They’ve been playing the likes of Back In Black since before the majority of Paramore’s audience were even born (not to mention the band themselves!). Paramore was meant to be a concert that signified the end of an era for me, but maybe that era already ended long ago.

But then I think no. B.O.B came on, and gave a hundred percent. I still know good music when I hear it. I still know a good show when I see it. I still know the difference between those that make the effort and those that don’t. B.O.B sweated so much his shades fell off – the only time Hayley Williams remotely broke a sweat was when she went on stage in a coat. Bobby Ray was sandwiched between two rather dull and rubbish bands. My advise – ditch em.

As for Paramore, it was just lackluster. The band were bored, Hayley Williams was on auto-pilot, and you could tell it wasn’t working. Heck, I almost get the feeling the band are about to split up, or go on a hiatus or something. It all rests on the shoulders of the lead singer, who is on nothing short of an ego-trip powerful enough to rival that of Marilyn Manson. She is not up to the job. Hayley Williams doesn’t care about her audience, but nor does she need to – her crowd of kids seem happy, given that most have probably lost their concert virginity to them. Self assured, she tells her crowd:

“I want you to find someone tomorrow. Someone who wasn’t here tonight. You wont be able to speak, but just by the sheer state you are in, they will know… they will KNOW that THEY HAVE MISSED OUT!”

Well, my voice is perfectly intact. You didn’t miss out on much at all. Really. Genuinely. Seriously. So, this is the moment a lot of you have been waiting for, so I’ll just have to swallow my pride, take this on the chin, and make the following statement. Paramore is probably the worst concert I have ever been to. I’ve been to ones where the warm-ups were better than the headliners, but in this case, one warm-up band was crap as well. The best thing about this indie gig was a bloody R’n’B singer. This amounts to this concert just having a whole lot of ‘fail’. No amount of spark-showers or confetti can save it. By the end, Hayley’s got a member of the audience singing the end of Misery Business for her, and I’m just in the local circle pit trying to get some remnants of enjoyment from the night. I do not buy a t-shirt. The show’s one saving grace – it was better than sitting at home watching TV.

6/10

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Dylan Moran opens ‘Just The Tonic’ Comedy Club in Nottingham 31/08/10

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations with tags , on September 1, 2010 by Adam Broome

The crowd sit, several feet underground in the vaults of Nottingham’s cornerhouse. What was once Jumpin’ Jacks turned into a nightlcub called E.Q. Now it is a comedy club… well, sort of. You’d have difficulty finding it, as there’s no evidence outside that E.Q. has been closed for a while now. The audience edged steadily down some stairs, with alcohol advertisements all down the walls.

The reason? Johnny Vegas was meant to open Just The Tonic about a month from now, but Irish comedian Dylan Moran has decided to rain on the parade. So, the audience sits. Little metal chairs with the built-in cushions, arching around a small stage that reminds me of the assemblies we used to have at secondary school. Ever-punctual (I didn’t think I’d be able to find the place), I’m sat one row from the front. After an hour, bang on time, Dylan Moran stumbles onto the stage in his classic attire, as if pretending to be slightly drunk.

“Hello, how are we all?”

The crowd cheers.

“Good. So. New material. NEW JOKES!”

The crowd cheers louder.

“Great, that means I probably wont remember half of them, and the ones I do remember wont be funny.”

The crowd cheers even louder, albeit unsteadily. Dylan Moran stops, eyeing up the audience. There is a pause, and a nervous giggle echoes around the room.

“One will come along… ANY minute now.”

More laughter. Dylan Moran shakes his head jokingly.

“No… but seriously. Squirrels…”

Thus begins the strange comedian’s new stand-up routine. He starts off with some words about global warming, and then quickly makes the transition to politics, poking fun at the conservatives. He stops briefly to slag off some of the competition.

“Comedians like Russel Howard – all young, with their helmet-like haircuts. Who do they think they are? ‘Urr, you know when you put trousers on… urr, you’re in them!’ Jesus, why do tossers like him get to play arenas, when I’m stuck doing gigs in sh*tholes like this?”

The crowd reasonates one of the biggest cheers of the night. After only a forty minute set, an interval is called. A cockleman comes round, following an old Nottingham tradition. The underground gets hot with all 450 of us down here, so everyone hits the bar. The beer is cheap – I bagged two half pints of cider for a little over the two pound mark. But there’s nowhere to put the drinks – eventually the club will have tables. But there are no tables tonight.

The commentator calls the comic back onto the stage. For a moment, nothing happens. People continue clapping, wondering where our host has disappeared to. Then, Dylan Moran stumbles back on stage, only one arm in the sleeve of his jacket, clutching a piece of paper.

“Sorry… I wasn’t… quite ready…”

As Dylan Moran returns to a darker second-half, glasses of booze can be heard being accidentally kicked over by people with aggitated legs, the beer flowing freely under the metal seats, and silent curses being whispered at the back.

“So you drag your middle-aged body outside into the air, and you walk down your road and you see… a tree. You think to yourself – ‘I’ve lived here twelve years… I’ve never noticed how beautiful that tree really is when it blossoms.’ But then, somebody gives you a long wolf whistle from behind. You think it’s your wife at the front door, making a sarcastic statement about how your sex life has turned into a nuclear winter. So you turn around to return the sentiment. But it’s not your wife. Oh no… it’s Death.”

Much laughter.

“Congratulations, you a now PRIME mortuary material!”

The subjects of death gives an edge to the second half of the set. Eventually, the subjects leads onto Dylan Moran’s wry observations of heavy metal culture:

“You all know something’s gone to sh*t when ‘sub-cultures’ start popping up.”

This was much to my delight, and the delight of some fellow metal heads sitting on the front row in front. From heavy metal, we move to Jason Statham. From action movies, we move to national pride, and how the Midlands isn’t really a national identity. We appreciate the jokes being about us.

Then, all of a sudden, Moran seems to hit a wall. He forgets the last part of the new material, and asks the metallers in front of me to help him out by handing them his piece of paper, supposedly with his routine written on it. Even I have a go at trying to decipher the squiggles, but to no avail. He chats with members of the audience, and verbally attacks a man taking a photo of him. Ironically, he then poses for the camera, his foot aimed right at the lens.

Subsequently, the night ended with a small amount of older jokes, which were nevertheless funny to the uninitiated. Moran took a graceful bow, and left. No encore. This meant that, for me, the night seemed to end with a whimper rather than a bang. But for £15, you could do a lot worse. Moran’s eyes scouted constantly, finding everyone in the front half more than once, checking which jokes hit the mark the most. His work was done, and he’d got what he needed.

Unlike movies or concerts, I don’t feel I should rate this numerically. The club was unfinished anyway, and Dylan Moran’s style is largely open to your own interpretations. Instead, all I can say is it was a thoroughly enjoyable night and a rare experience. Dylan Moran is only the second comedian I’ve ever seen (the first being Lee Evans, when he broke the record for sell-out arenas in Nottingham in 2008). It was great to see him so close, and a great (and cheap) night was had by all.

“I know something nobody likes… seriously. Anywhere in the world, no matter where you are nobody likes it. I’ve never met anyone who does like it. Anywhere. Even when you’re having sex, shouting out ‘WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE!!!’ – No, nobody likes it… even though it’s true…”