Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Gig Review:- Charlottefield, Action Beat & Theo, Wheatsheaf, Oxford, 12/03/08

I've really been getting into hip-hop recently. My music taste seems to go thru phases, and after becoming bored/disillusioned with the whole noise thing, I've found myself getting into hip-hop. Good time for it too, 2007 was a really good year for hip-hop. Fuck that Chamillionaire & 50 Cent shit, 2007 was the year the indepenent labels took hip-hop by the throat, shook it about a bit and gave it a new lease of life. Shape Of Broad Minds made an absolute killer album in "Craft Of The Lost Art", pretty much THE indespensible hip-hop album of last year with it's superb productions showcasing brilliant tracks with an eye on the future of the genre. That aside there were essential albums from (purely in order of what my brain thinks of first) Panacea, Little Brother, Black Milk, the Joe Buddha Presents Klashnekoff album, Prodigy (the guy from Mobb Deep, NOT the Liam Howlett dance project), Killah Priest, Joell Ortiz, Wu-Tang Clan went their own way and released the superb "8 Diagrams" album, Dizzee Rascal, El-P, Talib Kweli, M.I.A (though I think the jury's still out on whether she's getting classed as hip-hop) Pharoah Monch, Wiley, Kanye West's "Graduation" may not have been all that great, but his production on Common's "Finding Forever" album was nothing short of excellent, which in turn allowed the MC to really shine on an ace album, and though not essential, Jay-Z's album was good nonetheless, and a better buy than most albums that graced the charts last year. In a couple of days time, I'll probably be adding Bangers & Cash and Nyoil to that list. I haven't heard their whole albums yet, but the tracks I have heard are pretty special. The Lil Wayne mixtape "Da Drought 3" is pretty awesome too, but that's only only based on the first disc coz I still don't have disc 2 yet.
So I'm kind of almost not in the mood for this gig, but Theo & Action Beat are playing so I go anyway. My mood is not really helped by listening to Killah Priest on the way and thinking that after the track "Inner G" has finished, the evening ahead can only be an anti-climax.

Theo is first up and is quite frankly a revelation. I remember the first time I saw Theo was years ago at their second ever gig supporting Youthmovies at this very venue. There were two of them then, and their loop-guitars-then-add-live-percussion formula was jaw dropping-ly well done. They were a revelation. Then by the next time I saw Theo, the project was trimmed to a one piece, for reasons I don't know. As a one man project, I had always found Theo good, but a little lacking in that conviction of before. The guitar parts felt just like a build up to the inevitable introduction of the drums, rather than having merit of their own. It almost felt a little too formulaic to me & my ears, not that I ever said that too anyone. If I was ever asked, I would simply remember that first time, respond based on that and sigh. Tonight though, whether it's due to practice/development or I've just caught him on a very good night, he brings Theo back to the jaw dropping quality I fell for that first time. The guitar parts have been seriously improved/refined and really stand up on their own, and are at times more interesting and enjoyable without the drums, and the set as a whole grips throughout. Theo is definately one local act to keep an eye on this year. Band of the night.

Now normally, I wouldn't even DREAM of saying anyone was better than Action Beat on any bill (Unless they do a gig with Shit & Shine. NO-ONE beats them live.), but Action Beat seemed to have to cut their set short due to a technical thing type problem. It's a shame coz they were on form as ever. If I wrote for a tabloid-style music rag like NME or Q, I would say something like "If God was into noise music, Action Beat would be his favourite band. He would make his angels plug in their lyres and harps and make them form an Action Beat tribute act to be his in-house band until Action Beat die and can do it themselves!!" Sod that. Action Beat are just really really good every time no matter how long or short that time may be. Still easily one of my favourite live bands.

Charlottefield were, well, just not very good. I think my mate Leo summed up the problem best saying "The singer sounds like he's singing a different song to what the rest of the band are playing. It sounds like a really badly put together bootleg." That is essentially what is wrong with them I feel. They seem to be trying to put together pieces of different puzzles and for me it just doesn't work. It's a shame coz one of the songs I saw (I left after 3) had a really good guitar part, but I was put off by the vocal, and the drumming seemed to almost not exist, but just be there enough to be annoyingly frustrating. It's a shame coz after discovering that the weird trampy looking guy who'd been sat in a corner at a table for the whole evening reading a book, seemingly oblivious to what was going on, was in fact the Charlottefield drummer, I really wanted to like them.

I'm too tired to write a conclusion. Blah blah blah. This blog was written in a state of insomnia while listening to Craze - "Fabriclive.38", which is fucking awesome. Oh my god I've gotten into a loop where I can't finish but can't let it just be! ARGH! God I'm tired. Why can't I sleep? Leave this blog alone Axl, It's done now!

The video is crap, but LISTEN TO THIS SONG!!!



Ok, I'm actually going to bed now. If I'm lucky I'll get 5 hours sleep.

1 comment:

Alastair said...

Hey up chum. Apologies for not saying much at gig. Shame you missed the rest o' Charlottefield as the drummer really started to let loose in a Greg Lake styley. Or was Palmer the drummer? I can never remember. Plus he looked like Alan Moore, which can only be a good thing to my wonky eyes. Ta for the ginger beer.