A certain idea of America: Lambchop (Rough Trade-8th Nov.) and Wilco (Brixton Academy-19th Nov.)

This blog’s readers know (or will understand by browsing the topics which can be found on the menu) that my rules are only to talk about music, whatever the personal or worldwide events happening around us. It may be a bit theoretical sometimes especially living in a place which is pro-European in a country which did not think the same but I consider not being skilled enough to write about everything. It does not mean being insensitive to what is happening in the world and the best examples of this could be found in these two cherished American bands.

  • Kurt Wagner (Lambchop)- Rough Trade East – 8th of November 2016

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Another great private event from Rough Trade after those recently reviewed (Teenage Fanclub and Bob Mould). This time Kurt Wagner from Lambchop was there to promote his new LP “FLOTUS”. The evening started with a 30-minute chat with prestigious interviewer Tim Burgess from The Charlatans. The two of them know each other quite well as Tim spent a bit of time in Nashville a few years ago on a solo album produced by Kurt Wagner. The interview was clumsy at times but really friendly and often funny. Good idea also to let the audience asking questions ; your host was quite proud to ask a question to Kurt about his involvement in wood floor carpeting! Then the great man played a few tracks from his new record and past ones before finishing with the traditional records signing session.

Lambchop is one of these bands which have been here for ages and which have never made a bad record. Their music could be described by a mix of country and soul, made different with what it looks like thanks to Kurt’s beautiful voice and inventive texts. I probably need a bit more time to digest “FLOTUS”…which by the way does not mean First Lady Of The United States but “For Love Often Turns Us Still”. However, it is true that what is very surprising is the use of Auto-Tune, more generally used by hip-hop or r’n’b artists. Not that surprising actually after Kurt mentioned his current main influences are probably to be found in nowadays hip-hop like Kendrick Lamar…or these artists heard through his neighbours’ car’s stereo!

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You will have noted that this event was taking place on the 8th of November. A member of the audience asked the question about who was to win the election and Kurt answered :” You know who will win…and by far”. I guess the night and the following day must have been tough for the guy… Keep on doing your beautiful music, man.

  • Wilco – O2 Academy Brixton – 19th of November 2016

No surprise again for anyone here if I mention that Wilco is one of my favourite bands ever ; they were #81 in my top 100 of all times. What makes them really so special is the consistency in the excellence of their work. They just had another album out this year (“Schmilco“). Although this record is largely acoustic (and beautiful), one recognizes very quickly Wilco’s style towards more robotic and in-your-face tracks throughout this album.

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Wilco are not only one of my favourite bands ;  you may remember candidate Obama playing their records during his 2007/08 campaign. Unless I am wrong, they were also invited to the White House. Moreover, they are a constant presence in the best movie of the 21st century yet, namely Boyhood by Richard Linklater. Watch this video showing the character played by Ethan Hawke explaining one of their songs to his son ; very moving scene : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9CciFGOuY4

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The gig was great ; not really a surprise to be honest but I guess being always that good on stage must not be taken for granted. Lasting more than 2 hours and with a setlist picking up tracks from all their already 20ish-year long career, here was a digest of everything I love about a certain side of the USA: creative, poetic whilst being down to earth (hello Bruce Springsteen), tolerant, funny, interested by the world, moving… The band was tighter than ever yesterday night, with the six players playing as one. Of course, Jeff Tweedy is their beloved leader and main singer but every one of them plays their role.

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As commented by Jeff Tweedy after a marvellous solo from Nels Cline on guitar on the fantastic “Impossible Germany”, “…take that Trump!”

 

 

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