Autumn is traditionally a very busy period in terms of records’ releases but also in terms of concerts…especially in London. In all honesty, there are enough good concerts to go out every night so I guess one has to choose extraordinary events which are compatible with one’s schedule…and budget. There were many uncertainties as far as this blog is concerned so I took my tickets quite late but I eventually succeeded in seeing these three musical giants, all part of my beloved Top 100 of all times. I was pretty far from the stage though, hence the no-so-good pictures…If you want nice photos, please go back to my End of the Road Festival review!
- LCD Soundsystem, Alexandra Palace, 23rd September 2017
Although Alexandra Palace (nickname Ally Pally) is quite far to central London, it remains an extraordinary place and I had good memories about my latest gig there. …from extraordinary place to extraordinary event, there is not a long way to go and having LCD Soundsystem make their London comeback concerts here made perfect sense. Recurrent readers from this blog know how much we love this band and how much heartbroken we had all been a few years ago when James Murphy decided to end his band…for different reasons. Their 2011 farewell show at the Madison Square Garden in New York is probably one of the most moving and exuberant concerts ever.
Good news is that…for different reasons James Murphy went back playing with the band in the last months before finally taking the decision to give it a go again. Their new record (“American Dream”) had just been released and is excellent…which is a relief as bands reforming may have a tendency to disappoint fans sometimes. This is fortunately not so this year as I can think about excellent comeback LP’s from Ride or Slowdive for instance.
So we were super excited to catch them live again…and that was pretty good indeed. James Murphy was on top form, the band are as good in terms of playing together as they were before the break-up (specific mentions to Nancy Whang on keyboards and Pat Mahoney on drums) and the place was perfect to dance and move on… but something was missing. Not sure if I gave too much expectation and excitement to see them live again, if it was due to the setlist (whaaaaaaatttt? no “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” and no “Losing My Edge“!) or if I found the audience not focused enough on the gig …but I came back home slightly disappointed. Still a very good gig…but no more.
- The National, Eventim Apollo, 28th September 2017
Here is a band on the top of their game and to me one of the Top 5 best artists since the start of the century. No less… The National’s personal story is an interesting one as well as a bit like Spoon for instance, they did not make a huge fuss with the release of their first records but went on improving with each release and building a bigger and bigger community of fans all over the world.
My last experience with these guys was in the beautiful context of the Greek Theatre in L.A. and I must say I was quite pleased to take my bike to see them, a bit like meeting old friends whom you see once in a while. The other good news was that the opening act was no less than Kate Stable and her band This Is The Kit (our July record of the month). No real surprise as her musical world is quite close to The National’s and as Aaron Dessner produced their 2015 album “Bashed Out“. This was a beautiful way to open such a great night and Kate and her chorus singer went back singing one song with the National during their show. It made Matt Berninger do one of his stupid but funny jokes (“…This is half of This Is The Kit…”).
The National played four shows in a row in this great and historical theatre and the 28th of September was actually their last European night before going back to the US. Their latest album “Sleep Well Beast” is a beauty and I really felt I was lucky to see a band at the top of their game. I had this feeling a few times in the past when you feel that the band you see is amazing but probably also making history and at the peak of their career. I also found Matt Berninger is a very moving man, showing strength, doubts, fun and weaknesses at the same time. Everything a man is his late forties should be… As with every night of the UK tour, they did a cover version and tonight was… Queen‘s “I Want to Break Free” (which was very good actually). Last but not least, this was the only night when they finished with “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks”, the best song of all times, sung a capella as traditionally done during their concerts. Love you guys….
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, O2 Arena, 30th September 2017
And what better way to end the beautiful but depressing month of September than catching live Nick Cave and his gang of musicians. My personal relationship with Nick Cave’s music and art is not new and since discovering his music in 1986 with his covers album “Kicking Against The Pricks” I guess I never lost track of his work. My first face to face meeting with the great man was actually in 1990 in London at a store when he was signing his book “And The Ass Saw The Angel” so this is a long story. The man has always been transparent about his life, his good times (Sao Paulo, Brighton, family life,…) and the bad ones (heroin addiction, loss of his son Arthur). His work is quite weird actually as his music is at the same time so out of time (gothic blues and old-fashioned storytelling) but also very much influenced by his own life.
Anyway, this was the tour that everyone was a bit afraid to attend after the family tragedy he had to live but as expected Nick Cave and his band were as sharp and sensitive as one could have expect. I must admit that it was probably my best gig of Nick Cave…despite being in a bloody too big arena. The setlist was perfect, mixing up very old songs like “Tupelo“, recent songs from his latest album “Skeleton Tree” or classics such as “The Mercy Seat” or “The Weeping Song“.
The only thing I found a bit inauthentic was the stage invasion during “Stagger Lee” as it is done at every show of the tour. However, another good surprise was to find Nick Cave in the middle of the audience finding Bobbie Gillespie from Primal Scream and make him sing a portion of the beautiful “Push The Sky Away“.
Let’s not forget to mention the Bad Seeds as well as these guys are tremendous and in particularly Warren Ellis. “…He is a cutie…” as said Nick Cave after hugging him ; yes, Nick, you all are actually.
- Conclusion: The National juste above Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and LCD Soundsystem behind. Should one meets their heroes? Definitely so!