Tuesday 29 October 2013

Miles Kane Blows Off The Roof

Almost two months ago Miles Kane's performance on the idyllic festival Into The Great Wide Open felt a bit out of place. His rock show and powerful britpop songs were a bit too much for the family friendly crowd. But I'm sure that Paradiso is just the kind of place for the always hard working Kane.

Miles Kane at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 26 2013

He's playing to a sold out venue tonight and doesn't let his fans down. Kane is always giving it all and is getting a lot back tonight. It's a great and willing crowd who are ready to rock their heads off. It's one of those shows where artist and audience only keep intensifying each other. After a few songs the crowd is already sold. Kane is in great shape and totally in his element. Tonight everything is working for him. The response of his fans is firing him up even more. He's putting on his best rock poses and is playing cheering games between the floor and balcony.

His energetic songs do the rest. 'Rearrange' and 'Better Than That' will win over any crowd willing to party. Pits are forming on the floor with Kane watching with a big smile and twinkling eyes. He's smoothly mixing The Rolling Stones anthem 'Sympathy For The Devil' into 'Give Up' with everyone joining in. After playing 'Don't Forget Who You Are' the band is shortly leaving the stage while the crowd keeps chanting the verse. At the same time the fans on the floor show why they won the small game earlier.

Kane returns for the final encore. "Are you ready to blow off the roof?" Kane is asking? That's exactly what happens during the last song 'Come Closer'. Good friend and Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner once said that he would love for Miles Kane to join them. Although he would fit in perfectly with that band I'm glad he's choosing to follow his own path.

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01. Bombshells
02. You're Gonna Get It
03. Taking Over
04. Rearrange
05. What Condition Am I In?
06. Kingcrawler
07. Quicksand
09. Better Than That
10. Darkness In Our Hearts
11. Take the Night from Me
12. My Fantasy
13. Tonight
14. Give Up (extended with Sympathy for the Devil)
15. Out of Control
16. Inhaler
17. Don't Forget Who You Are
18. Colour of the Trap
19. Come Closer

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Monday 28 October 2013

Charles Bradley Fills Paradiso With Love

I think that soul music is at its best when it lives up to its name: music that is coming straight from the soul. Charles Bradley is one of those artists who only can make music from the heart. There simply is no other way for him. His remarkable life's story, covered in the movie 'Soul of America' adds context to his emotional performances. And that's something I can enjoy watching any time.

Charles Bradley at Paradiso Amsterdam October 24 2013

The venue is completely sold out for "The Screaming Eagle Of Soul". His band starts off without him and warm us up with some nice soul tunes. They are essential for Bradley, or "The Black Rose" as organ player Mike Deller calls him during his announcement of the singer himself. The musicians give Bradley all the spotlight he needs and stay away from it themselves. But the tight playing band also give him all the backup he requires.

The charming singer only needs to do what he does best: sing his honest soul songs with his powerful voice. It's impossible to dislike this wonderful man who will be turning 65 soon. He is telling how grateful he is for this chance he got to make a living as a singer. He's thanking us for buying his music and tickets for the show. But he doesn't need to tell us. You can see it in his eyes. The songs that tell his life's story like 'How Long' sound so genuine and impressive as if he's reliving those dark moments. This is remarkable since he's singing those songs night after night. But also when he's singing about lost love like in 'Crying In The Chapel' you see the heartache in his eyes. The tracks of his second album are somewhat lighter and make sure the show never gets too heavy on the heart. Instead there's plenty of time for love and smooth dance moves. Bradley picked up a few when he still was a James Brown impersonator. During 'Confusion' he's showing his best robot moves while working that fascinating instrument, the theremin.

Soul music is all about emotion and feeling. Bradley has plenty of it and will never disappoint his fans. If his crew wouldn't escort him off stage, he would give everyone a hug and thank us all personally. I read somewhere that this world needs more Charles Bradley. I think that's absolutely true.

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Friday 25 October 2013

Garage Rock From Cape Town

You wouldn't directly think of Capetown in South Africa when thinking of sixties garage rock. Still that is where the threesome The Future Primitives was founded in 2011. In their short existence they already knew to release an EP and a full album. Those are filled with wild garage and psychedelic rock music. A bit of surf and rockabilly were added to that. This lively mix has been spiced up even more on their new LP Into The Primitive.

The Future Primitives - Into The Primitive (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

The record was recorded completely in analogue without complicated technical tricks or aids. The sound is nicely sharp and full of reverb as expected. The somewhat high pitch voice of singer/guitarist Jonny Text fits perfectly. When he's putting extra effort in it, his vocals get more gritty. This makes the music even more raw. He's also drowning his guitar sound in effects. The guitar riffs full of reverb and fuzz sound playful and give the songs a catchy sound. It makes them lean towards surf because of this. All combined with the characteristic jangling sound, the band is sounding authentic as if they are really from the sixties.

The thirteen songs fly by with great speed. They sound spiky and compact, where most of them are below three minutes. The shortest song 'Girl Like You' is not even one and a half minute. It only enforces the tracks. There's no needless stretching either. Instead of shooting with hail, the group is aiming right on target. Often this leads to direct hits. The gritty 'You Lied' with its screaming vocals and catchy guitar solos for example. But also a longer song like 'The Drone' and its pumping bass line is fascinating from start to finish. The lads don't fly into it constantly. Now and then they grab a moment of rest. It doesn't lead to a ballad right away, but the tempo does go down a bit in 'In And Out' and 'Tried To Let Go'. It gives the album some needed breathing space.

Into The Primitive is a very pleasant record. The band succeeded into grabbing the sound that belongs to this genre. You can hear they are playing with lots of enthusiasm and this is catching on. The energetic songs don't miss their effect. After listening to them you're in good spirits and you're immune to the gloomy autumn weather. It will be interesting to see what it looks like live on stage.

This review has been published on Festivalinfo in Dutch over here.

Listen to Into The Primitive on Spotify.

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Tuesday 15 October 2013

Felabrating Fela's Legacy Jungle By Night Style

This year Fela Kuti would have turned 75 years old. Although it's sad he had to leave us so early, people are celebrating his life and the big legacy he left us. Not only his music, but also his engagement and charismatic personality. Jungle by Night organised Felabration for the third time in The Netherlands. This time it was even three nights in a row in different Dutch cities. Of course Amsterdam was one of them.

Felabration 3 at Paradiso Amsterdam, October 11 2013

Besides Jungle by Night themselves, they once again managed to book an iconic afro-beat act. Two years ago Seun Kuti came to celebrate and last year Jimi Tenor and Tony Allen joined in. This year no one less than Ebo Taylor starts off the night. The musician from Ghana was re-discovered a few years ago. Since then he released two new albums, his latest one Appia Kwa Bridge last year. Taylor is 77 years old, but is going strong again. He brought a great band with him. Enthusiastic musicians that know exactly what this night needs: a whipping performance with plenty of positive vibes. Within no time we're in hot Ghana. The mix of afro-beat and highlife has everybody dancing from the start. It's inspiring to see how the old Taylor can make youngsters move to his music. Now and then he's looking at the crowd with a smile. He's sitting down for short breaks at the side of the stage while his band is playing on and especially his keyboard player is entertaining the crowd. The master himself is looking pleased.

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Jungle By Night are playing after that. The band has turned into an experienced afro-beat machine. If anyone is able to stand still they have to be made of stone. The young musicians are working hard to get everyone going. In the end there isn't a single soul in the venue that is not dancing and smiling. Especially for tonight the group prepared some Fela Kuti songs and even present a new song. It sounds like the musicians have grown a lot. Their busy tour schedule has paid off. It also cost them their bass player, who quit a few months ago. They found a worthy replacement though and the band sounds better than ever.

At the end of the show Ebo Taylor and his band join in for a grand finale. The overcrowded stage turns into a happy jam session. It may not be tight all the time and with so many musicians it's hard to keep it all together. But the fired up wild bunch and good spirits make up for that. Taylor isn't jamming with them. He did his part for the night. The veteran does stay on stage with the rest though, looking pleased again. He knows the afro-beat is in good hands now with a younger generation. His and Fela's legacy are safe. And that is a reassuring thought on this very successful felabration in the true spirit of Fela.

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Tuesday 8 October 2013

Three HAIM Sisters Is A Treat

The three Haim sisters from Los Angels managed to cause quite a stir before even releasing an album. In their live shows they already revealed some of the songs that would make it onto their debut. A few catchy singles had many people looking forward to it with high anticipation. Last week Days Are Gone finally dropped and we're able to hear if it lives up to the hype.

HAIM - Days Are Gone (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Although the ladies seem to be coming out of nowhere they are not exactly beginners and play multiple instruments. They started out really young and already played in family band Rockinhaim with their parents. Guitar player Danielle and bassist Este were part of the all girl band Valli Girls that had some moderate success. Danielle also played with Jenny Lewis, singer Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes) on his solo tour and in Cee-Lo Green's backing band. According to critics the group sounds like a modern Fleetwood Mac with R&B influences. After listening to their record a few times this isn't such a bad comparison. Danielle has plenty of blues and classic rock licks on her sleeves. Este is adding playful bass grooves to the mix and youngest sister Alana spices up the mix with key parts. The only bloke of the group and none-family member, Dash Hutton, is the one to keep the ladies in control.

The sisters help him out with percussive elements throughout the album. It gives the songs a great drive especially in the up-tempo ones. Opener 'Forever' is a good example. With its staccato vocals it sounds even more rhythmic. Many songs are using percussion and repeating elements in a similar way. The start of the album is quite a strong one with three of their four singles in a row: 'Falling', 'Forever' and current single 'The Wire'. Their second single 'Don't Save Me', which gave them plenty of air-play, is halfway the record. Especially when listening to the beginning of 'If I Could Change Your Mind' Fleetwood Mac does come to mind. This is mostly because of Danielle's vocals. The electronic beats in 'My Song 5' are closer to R&B and hip hop.

You may think that a record company would rush out a full album as soon as possible and the rest of the songs are mostly fillers. That certainly is not the case. Most songs are just as strong as their singles and don't sound rushed at all. Plenty of effort has gone into making the album. Days Are Gone is a creative and sparkling sounding pop record with lots of variation. The girls are showcasing their talent and prove they are able to write good songs. In their live shows they add a bit of a rough edge to their music which is quite enjoyable. They will be touring for a while so there should be plenty of opportunities to catch them on stage.

Listen to Days Are Gone on Spotify.

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