Lightyear – Highbury Garage, London

By Andy

After conducting two very enjoyable interviews with the bands at opposite ends of the bill it was time to actually sample the delights of four of the UK’s best bands. Out of all of them I’d only ever seen the headliners before, and that was at Reading along with a fuckload of other people. But the band I was most looking forward to, out of sheer curiosity was the truly astounding YE WILES. Some people have criticised me for being so arse-over-tit in love with their folked-up blend of pure madness with a touch of ska and now was the time I’d actually get to see them live. And they did not disappoint. Opening with ‘Cry Wolf’ they proceeded to draw a fairly sizeable crowd to the front (along with a pretty impressive number of people dancing like loons) while playing a quite unpredictable set. ‘The Standard Voyeur’ took on a more atmospheric tone in the live setting, and came into its own after never setting me alight on CD. With bundles of energy and a truly charismatic frontman in Shlauff they mixed old and new tracks, with all of the rerecorded tracks from ‘Fine Words…’ making appearances, with the notably stunning ‘An Appreciation of Zoltan Kodaly’ (pronounced Code-eye apparently) closing their set. It’s genuinely hard to over-emphasise just how stunning this band are, and I urge everyone to at least go and see them live so you can make up your own minds. Extremely tight onstage, and never more than 4 seconds away from surprising you with a new hook, Ye Wiles‘ reputation can only grow and grow (and deservedly so). (8)

After watching CAPTAIN EVERYTHING soundcheck with ‘My Name Is Jonas’ I was somewhat disappointed to see that it wasn’t present in their set. But to be honest it wouldn’t have fitted in with their particular brand of speedy, melodic punk rock that has been gaining such favourable reviews pretty much everywhere, and on the evidence of this performance it’s not hard to see why. Bounding around with seemingly limitless zest and energy there wasn’t really dull moment in the set, as they displayed a wit and confidence onstage that belied their relative inexperience. As I said before, I didn’t really know much of their music, save a couple of tracks on various compilations, but they were really good, and knew how to make the most of a type of music that’s hardly the most imaginative or innovative. No matter, since C*E hold no pretence of ego, and just rocked. (7)

I’d heard many, many good things about the Punktastic-approved JERRY BUILT, but didn’t really know what to expect after the snippets of New Kids On The Block that surfaced in the soundcheck (Note to self: You don’t belong in the venue during soundchecks). They played a blend of Finch-style chunky rock but with the addition of a keyboard player that was quite underused in my opinion. Maybe it was the muddy sound but I think using a keyboard for this kind of large sound could work wonders, but it never stretched beying a few bleepy riffs from what I could hear. Sami celebrated his birthday onstage (more of this during Lightyear…) and each member was never static for long, visibly enjoying themselves. It’s just that they never really locked into ‘killer’ mode, and as such fell a little flat. Maybe this isn’t the kind of punk that I’m into, but it never really went anywhere, when it was obvious that JB have much potential. (6)

Amid a cloud of dry ice and a good few minutes after the lights actually went down, LIGHTYEAR made an appearance, with Chas’ toothy grin stretching from ear to ear as the band raised hell behind him, exploding into ‘Nuff Cuts’, and a truly beautiful ‘Kid Dynamite‘. As always, the whole band was just a blur of hyperactivity, interacting with the crowd and being genuinely funny too. The material was about 50/50 old/new, and they seemed honestly surprised that we were singing along to the new songs with just as much fervour as the old favourites. Yes, the sticks and the boat made an appearance during ‘Blindside’, and one of the best moment of the entire night was the stage invasion from C*E and Jerry Built during ‘Pack Of Dogs’, featuring a certain birthday boy on sax. Chas made the entire crowd sing happy birthday to Sami in a touching moment before proceeding to tear the place down with the riotous aforementioned song. Various members of Ye Wiles ended up on stage pretty much constantly, and the whole atmosphere was one of the most communal I’ve been part of a at a gig for quite a while, with none of the bullshit scene-posturing elitism that is strangling punk rock. Closing poignantly with ‘Don’t Count Your Horses’ before playing a one song encore of ’24 04′ they quickly vacated the stage, leaving the entire crowd mouthing ‘Fuuuuuuuck that was good’. And it was stunning. (9) Oh and cheers to Neil for inviting us to Norwich – sorry we couldn’t make it.


Quote of the day:
“Mat, did you just get shat on by a bird?”
(As another volley of bird crap lands on him) “Yes Ben. Yes I did.”