Tuesday, 1 January 2008

2007 RETROSPECTIVES PART 2: GIGS & EXHIBITIONS

GIGS OF 2007
Seeing as I seem to have given up writing about gigs all year (with one solitary exception), I’m just going to anally list the gigs I went to.
CALIFONE The Hope, 29th Jan
The perfect thing about this languid yet inventive Americana outfit was said on the late, lamented Mixing It. There’s nothing self-consciously ‘experimental’ about what they do, however out-there it gets it always sounds like that music’s just been waiting somewhere to be played.
CLINIC Concorde, 9th Feb
Precipitated a healthy debate about the appropriateness of bands wearing surgical masks on stage.
BONNY PRINCE BILLY Corn Exchange, 12th Feb
Sometimes you think of country as an old man with a fiddle sitting on a rickety porch. This was like apocalypse country, a gig I thought would either bring the world to an end or else never end itself. Perhaps it didn’t…
65 DAYS OF STATIC Concorde, 18th April
Splendid as always. No filmshow this year, lads?
A HAWK AND A HACKSAW with the Hun Hangár Ensemble Dome, 12th May
Slightly surprised to see the boys playing second fiddle to Gypsy wedding band King Naat Veliov. Both bands were great, but even if Hawk were going to go on first did they really only have to play for a support-act duration?
HOMEFIRES St. George’s Church, 10th June
Adem’s ‘folktronica’ festival brought to Brighton.Proceedings kicked off nicely with “progressive strong quartet” the Elysian Quartet, only to take a nosedive with the forgettable Richard Swift. A solo Nina Nastasia fared a lot better than her nervous disposition might have suggested, but the stuff I’ve heard with a band has been much better. So with everything to play for Adem (sometimes backed by the Elysians) did a patchy set – leaving me 50/50 over the whole thing. There seemed little ‘tronica’ to go with the ‘folk’, which didn’t entirely dispel the notion that inside every technogeek lurks an acoustic hippy.
HOLLY GO LIGHTLY Hanover Centre, 21st July
Holly boils down to an acoustic duo in an impromptu setting. Great stuff, marred only by the idiots who took the lack of a ‘proper’ venue to talk loudly all the way through. Take it outside!
BATTLES Concorde 2, 21st August
Battles do admittedly border on fusion at times, but a fine band nonetheless. I find it all works better live for some reason.
COLOUR OUT OF SPACE Sallis Benney, 7th to 9th Sept
Apparently this three-day festival of experimental music first happened last year, but somehow slipped past me. The perfect thing if you want a weekend full of bad-attitude Finns, screaming Japanese, feral choirs and avant garde tap dancing - and frankly, I'm one who does. It being sunny everyone gathered in the garden between acts. Amusingly, this meant someone had to come out and ring a bell like school assembly, for us all to collectively troop back in to hear the next session of freeform guitar feedback. Hoping for another next year…
(Something I wrote in response to the Sunday talks session here.)
YOU LA TENGO Concorde 2, 12th Sept
Excellent as always, shooting off a thousand ways at once. When the guy in a Strawbs T-shirt got to make a request I resovled to start wearing mine to gigs. (Till I remembered I don’t own one.)
NOMEANSNO Engine Rooms, 2nd Oct
Always an excellent band, but the second time I’ve seen them get pissed off in front of a Brighton crowd. This night in particular was brought to an untimely end. Do they dislike playing the UK, or just jock punks?
THE IMAGINED VILLAGE Dome, 17th Nov
The one I did review, despite (or perhaps because of) my mixed feelings. See here!
THE SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN Engine Rooms, 22nd Nov
This band has a cool idea (or at least an idea I took from them), to take the trajectory of the Sixties San Francisco sound and reverse it. While the original bands got more into the studio and ‘proper’ album releases, why not take it the other way and explore the ‘improvised happening’ angle instead? The results were mixed, but with high points. The band seemed to need a beat going for something to play against, and sometimes floundered without this. And the ‘happening’ elements (brandishing lighted crosses etc) just seemed the wrong end of hippy – ostentatious and self-consciously ‘meaningful’.
ELECTRELANE Pavilion, 11th Dec
Didn’t know before I arrived, but this was Brighton’s bliss-out queens’ final gig before an “indefinite hiatus”. Though that decision didn’t seem down to a lack of enthusiasm, they didn’t seem to want to stop playing! (To a fault, sometimes they brought tracks to a close when they just seemed to be taking off.) “Reform!” shouted someone from the crowd. “But we haven’t split up yet”, they replied.

This seems a pretty good review site for Brighton gigs, just as well as I seem to have given up covering them.

EXHIBITIONS
HOGARTH Tate Britain
This gave a more rounded picture of Hogarth and his work than you normally get, painting him as more of a custodian of public morality than sometimes thought, even suggesting his engravings (despite being art in reproduction) still weren’t cheap enough to be accessible for the working folk. Inevitably, it was still the satirical pieces which interested me the most!
DALI AND FILM Tate Modern
The notion there was something inherently cinematic at the heart of Dali’s art seemed to me more than a conceit than a credible argument. But then who cares with such splendid stuff on show?
PANIC ATTACK: ART IN THE PUNK YEARS Barbican Gallery
As reviewed here.
THE FIRST EMPEROR: CHINA’S TERRACOTTA ARMY British Museum
As reviewed here.
Still running – till 6th April!!!
SEDUCED: ART AND SEX FROM ANTIQUITY TO NOW Barbican Gallery
As reviewed here.
Still running – till 27th Jan!!!

Next year’s shaping up for a good one so far as visual arts goes. While I’m now almost certainly fated to miss the Louise Bourgeois show (boo!), From Russia is now definitely on at the Academy. (hurrah!) But perhaps best of all is a Duchamp retrospective. I’m not quite as excited by them bundling in Man Ray (I saw his solo show some years ago, and didn’t find it the kind of thing you needed to see in the flesh), but it does include the often-overlooked Picabia. (hurrah!) Plus, for the patient October will see a solo Francis Bacon show – hurrah!

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