Category Archives: Gigs

Saves the day at Electric Ballroom

The opening act are like saves the day got beaten up by in utero era nirvana, without any of the charm or cleverness! Good solid groove though, and spot-on if unpleasant harmonies.
I’m feeling pleasantly youngish. I used to feel old at Saves gigs but it seems their audience is growing up with them! The Electric ballroom sounds fantastic as well, not many venues this size left in London, and even less that sound as good.
Saves the Day take the stage with little bombast and blast through 3 classics, one each from their first 3 albums.  A huge smile is plastered across Chris’s face as the crowd sing along to every line. Last time they were here he seemed a bit bored but tonight he and the rest of the band seem to be having a fantastic time. 
      They play a perfect mix of old and new, blasting out 4 tunes from their new album which make me very excited about it coming out later this year.  The new ones show a return to the glorious pop melodies of the earlier stuff with the edge of more recent offerings. The band also play plenty of oldies, including an awesome rendition of Shoulder to the Wheel. Plenty of recent material also gets a showing and the band ably demonstrate their knack for noise making as well as their musicianship. The sound is impeccable, the balance perfect and Chris’ voice is as strong as ever. They finish with a couple of more obscure numbers from their acoustic ep and a b-side before finishing with a huge version of Rocks Tonic Juice Magic. 
      Final praise has to go to the length of the set. Too many bands seem happy to play for an hour whereas Saves the Day go through about 25 songs in an hour and a half.
       An excellent gig, well worth the wait. Roll on the new album!  

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Ani Difranco at Shepherds Bush Empire

My wife and I were lucky enough to see Ani play recently at the Empire. To avoid the many cliches of gig review writing, I thought I’d try to simply describe why I enjoyed it so much.

I’ve seen Ani a number of times over the last 10 or so years and the thing that always stand out is how natural it is when she plays. Something certain musicians seem to share is that when they are playing it feels like second nature, as natural as breathing. Ani has this. She will have a chat to the audience, the sound man, or laugh to herself about something, all whilst playing something inherently groovy and often quite complex. It isn’t something she has to think about, she just does it.

This might not seem like something worth shouting about but it always strikes me. I think that this is due to the direct contrast there is between this and the passion and energy that she’s had every time I’ve seen her play. There is never a time that she seems less than completely involved in what she is saying and playing, regardless of how easy she may be finding it. This ability to completely give herself to her music makes her endlessly compelling to watch, even though I know the songs backwards!

As far as the actual gig, it was her usual brand of brilliant! A couple of unexpected oldies were fantastic and the large number of new songs have made me very excited to hear her upcoming album. I also feel like she is becoming more and more relaxed on stage. She spends longer talking to the audience than previously, which is great because she’s really funny! Her dry and self-deprecating wit creates a warm and familial atmosphere and puts her often very serious songs in a new, though no less affecting light. Sorry, I’ve begun to slip into reviewer speak!

Needless to say, it was fantastic gig. I will continue to see Ani every chance I get and strongly recommend any one who hasn’t seen her to do so. Whether or not you know her music, she is a truly inspiring performer and remains, for me, one of the greatest I have ever seen.