Sunday, 28 June 2009

The Wave Pictures: Live & On Wax

A real unique edge is hard to come by in UK guitar music at the moment, one you can grasp on to, live or at home, straight away is even rarer. But the Wave Pictures, who will be as familiar as a pair of old Midlands-made slippers to long-time ShadowPlay readers, have that direct quality which can be latched onto within seconds. Perhaps it’s lead singer David Tattersall’s ever lilting vocal, or maybe his off-the-cuff lyrics (I cut my hair and you grew yours/there always has to be the same amount of hair in the world) are the key, but it’s as likely to be Franic’s basslines or the ever-impressive supporting vocal from drummer Jonny Helm are the irresistible element.

On new record, If You Leave It Alone, the prolific trio step up their style a little, opting for their high tempos and cheeky guitar solos more often than not. The title track opens the album with vigour and finesse, setting the listener up for the bizarre and meticulous imagery to come, elsewhere Your Bed Hung off the Wall and Too Many Questions also display the kind of harmonising that sounds like the Beach Boys if they’d put down the Beano and picked up Razzle. Live, they’re such a perfect proposition, full of self-effacing modesty, but also a cheeky confidence borne from hundreds of shows to increasing adoration and success. At the Lexington last month the band show off material from the new album, already know to much of the hardcore audience in attendance at the fantastically booze north London pub. Choruses, and more importantly certain marmalade-y verses, are bellowed back, pins are dropped and heard when silence is needed and, most importantly, the Wave Pictures are treated as the treasures they so clearly are.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Homelovin' zine returns

ShadowPlay has a few long-term friends it likes to cross paths with, share staples and generally be traded for in the kind of free trade, papery agreement which would put the Doha round to shame.

Homelovin’, the decade-old brainchild of Amsterdam-dwelling Lancastrian artist Paul Haworth, is one such companion.

Paul has long written about offbeat music in a quirky style, usually in capitals. The tenth issue continues in the same rich vein musings on Kevin Rowland, Bruce Springsteen, the Replacements, the Music Tapes, Freddie Mercury, American Music Club, Josh T. Pearson, an essay by Bunny Poe, and a few drawings to accompany them.

Homelovin’ hasn’t changed much over the years: folded A4 pages, stapled together, a sky-blue cover, type-written, Paul talking about the records he's been listening to, shows he's seen and some of the unfinished thoughts that these have inspired.

The zine is personal, engaging, human –what fanzines are good for really – and in the writing it wishes to celebrate great artists who have put wonderful things into the world.

If you would like a copy it's €4/£3 + postage and you can pay through PayPal or bank transfer. For more details write to

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Patrick Wolf: Live at the Electric Ballroom

Patrick Wolf is the opposite of an enigma. Someone who has given his all to his music and putting his vivacious personality across and has been stung, labelled and misunderstood. He does split opinion but, from the opinion of someone who has always followed his music with admiration and largely ignored the comments Wolf tonight dubs ‘jealous’, there can be little doubt over the man’s talent as a musician and a lyricist.

Tonight, Wolf is preceded by Yacht – a daunting, clever, strange and frustrating band from Portland. Jona Bechtolt and Claire Evans make up the two piece which spent the entire set leaping up and down, enjoying impressively choreographed dance moves and shouting down their white microphones. In possession of, realistically, no more than three decent tunes Yacht go for the jugular, encouraging audience participation, constantly asking questions – there’s no way this was just an exercising in waiting for the main act with a presence in front of you. The force an opinion, one way or the other, and for this audience member it was nice attitude, live drummer please and learn to sing in tune.

Wolf himself enters the stage to an atmosphere not unlike that which a boyband might meet. Screaming girls jossle for position, men in gold sequined trousers (yes) vie to be seen by the figure in the middle of the stage dressed in a cape, jump suit and sporting what can only be termed a ‘Britney-mike’. The handsfree device causes Wolf problems throughout the set, constantly slipping but does not affect the sound and allows him to express himself in his unique, ostentatious manner. Rattle through hits from his most popular third record, The Magic Position and new album, The Bachelor out today that day on new label Bloody Chamber Music.

If Wolf is scarred by the inferences and jibes that have been made about his vast redirection in music (when first ShadowPlay reviewed him he was a lang-haired shy type who spoke through his stark violin) and bisexuality then he shrugs it off well. He mentions the media a couple of times and touchingly dedicates the rip-roaring set closer The Magic Position to ex-girlfriend Ingrid who used to live above the Camden Underworld just a few yards away from tonight’s venue, but he comes across as someone more than happy in their own skin and persona. Climbing up ladders, attacking his piano, praising his band (which includes Electric Soft Parade and Brakes guitarist Tom White sporting a dubious ‘tache) and gentle playing the dulcimer bathed in a spotlight Wolf is a multi-faceted, multi-talented chameleonic musical superstar of the type that Bolan or Bowie would be and are undoubtedly proud of. We’ll even forgive him for using the word ‘showbiz’.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Put a Donk on it...

Le Donk, an improvised comedy shot over five days by Shane Meadows in cahoots with Paddy Considine, is set to have its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 23rd. The following day Shane Meadows and producer Mark Herbert will give a talk about their new five day feature programme.
Rock roadie and failed musician, Le Donk (Considine) has lived, loved and learned. Along the way he’s lost a girlfriend (Olivia Colman) and his life has turned to shit. But, he has found a new sidekick in up-and-coming Nottingham rap prodigy Scor-zay-zee (playing himself). With Meadows’ fly-on-the-wall crew in tow, Donk sets out to make Scor-zay-zee (and himself) a star…with a little help from the Arctic Monkeys… This low-budget rockumentary follows Le Donk and Scorz on their journey of a lifetime; it’s an unpredictable, irrepressible ode to spontaneous filmmaking – and to a burgeoning UK hip-hop talent.

"After taking two life sapping years to make This is England, I decided it was time to get back to my roots as a Guerilla Filmmaker. So me, Mark and our miniscule team decided to stick two fingers up to the establishment and make a film with our own money in only five days. Oh yeah, and we had to somehow get 50,000 people in our final scene for free," said Meadows.

Le Donk is the first in the 5 Day Features series created by Shane Meadows and Mark Herbert and released by Warp Films. Hurrah for Nottingham and Sheffield talent as ever...