Review: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Town Hall

Who ever heard of a concert starting at the time stated on the ticket?Originally uploaded by bounder

Who ever heard of a concert starting at the time stated on the ticket? This is the view of the uke guys doing Splodgenessabounds’ ‘Two Pint of Lager’ – it’s the last song in the first half and I’m outside waiting for a ‘suitable break in performance’ before being able to get in. Gah.

On top of this, my mood isn’t improved when the usher tells me to put my phone away as I get in – it was the bloody interval, and I only had it out to see just how late I was. Git.

So anyways The Ukulele Orchestra – a lot more cabaret that I expected, I mean skits in between and during some songs. This distracted from some superb musicianship and some great songs. They also seemed to pick obvious covers, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’ – when they pulled something truly unexpected out Chic’s’Le Feak’ in the encore, for example they were a real joy.

Still could of done with a touch of George Formby.

Gwen Stefani at the NIA

Gwen Stefani (yes, I know, not my usual thing, a return of a longstanding agreement from the last time I dragged my other half to watch Belle & Sebastian or somesuch) is not averse to using the odd bit of popular culture – in the first half hour she’s played songs that piggy-back on Topol and Julie Andrews – so when she tells us she went to the zoo yesterday, I’m immediately thinking a hip-hop mash-up of Julie Felix is on the cards.

Turns out she really had gone to the zoo, held a baby monkey and fed the elephants. She tells the crowd this and is a bit nonplussed that we don’t cheer the zoo (and all the staff she’s invited to concert) loudly. What she doesn’t realise is a lot of us are trying to work out which zoo she’s been to. Dudley Zoo, for a start doesn’t have any elephants.

While she’s off for another costume change, leaving vocal duties to Bowie’s long-time bassist Gail-Ann Dorsey, I’m thinking Drayton Manor? No elephants there either.

While she’s fitting in an incongruous ballad, but refusing to sing anything from No Doubt, I’m thinking Wipsnade? She can’t think that’s in Birmingham.

While she’s rampaging through the audience, scaring the shit out of security (she got right up the back of the arena), running while singing the one that goes “You know we’re cool” that sounds like Belinda Carlile, I’m thinking Chester Zoo? Nah.

While the fibre glass goats (I’m not kiding) are put away and another lacklustre ballad stutters with breakdance interludes, and you start to wish for the return of The Go Go’s (actually I pretty much aways think that), I’m thinking – surely not London Zoo? No elephants I don’t think, and wouldn’t she have invited the keepers to the Wembley Arena gig.

While she encores with What You Waiting For and I remember why for all the GIRL, GIRL, GIRL fake hip-hop posturing and the sad demotion of ska in her affections she’s still a cut above most pop acts, I’m thinking Twycross.

Twycross. It has to be.

Polyphonic Spree at the Glee Club

EncoreOriginally uploaded by bounder

The Polyphonic Spree are indie’s worst nightmare, a matching 28-piece army-cult of pure exaltation. The bass player throws rock poses in front of the harpist, the brass section dive out of the crowd for a mosh, the Glee club even take out the seats and relax for once.

I wonder if this is the last time we’ll see the Spree over in the UK, there were tears before bedtime as TIm berated the trombonist for “going back to school” and revealed that his niece (one of the four possessed backing vocalists) was off too – after seven years.

It seems impossible to me that they haven’t had that euphoric 10-weeks-at-number-one hit single, and I’ll be disappointed if their cover of Lithium is the song that breaks them in England – heartbreakingly wonderful though it is.

Go get Fragile Army now.

My Off the Top Of My Head 50 albums

Copying an idea here. I deliberately did this quickly, without recourse to my shelves iTunes, or any other electronic means – No particular order, except they are in the order I thought of them. I’m surprised by the absence of The Jam, The Who and any soul – I guess I either couldn’t think of one album above others, or it’s the tracks themselves that I like best.
Blood On The Tracks – Bob Dylan
Homogenic – Bjork
Parklife – Blur
(Come Join The) High Society – These Animal Men
The Holy Bible – Manic Street Preachers
Moon Safari – Air
Imposible Princess – Kylie Minogue
Elastica – Elastica
Exile on Coldharbour Lane – Alabama 3
Scream Dracula Scream – Rocket From The Crypt
Now I Got Worry – Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
These Foolish Things – Bryan Ferry
Hatfull of Hollow – The Smiths
The Queen Is Dead – The Smiths
Vauxhall and I – Morrissey
Roxy Music – Roxy Music
Pink Flag – Wire
Songs Of Love And Hate – Leonard Cohen
Elvis : That’s The Way It Is – Elvis Presley
Nuisance – Menswe@r
On – Echobelly
Is This It – The Strokes
Nashville Skyline – Bob Dylan
Velveteen – Transvision Vamp
Actually – Pet Shop Boys
Specials – The Specials
Maxinquaye – Tricky
Dummy – Portishead
The Wicker Man OST – Paul Giovanni
Love In The Time of Science – Emiliana Torrini
We Love Life – Pulp
Elephant – The White Stripes
Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake
The Rat Pack Live At The Sands Hotel – Frank, Dean & Sammy
Tubeway Army – Tubeway Army
Becoming X – Sneaker Pimps
Gold Against The Soul – Manic Street Preachers
Work, Lovelife, Miscellaneous – David Devant and His Spirit Wife
The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks
Memories Of A Colour – Stina Nordenstam
Gorilla – The Bonzo Dog Do-Dah Band
Eat To The Beat – Blondie
Kings Of The Wild Frontier – Adam Ant
If You’re Feeling Sinister – Belle and Sebastian
Unhalfbricking – Fairport Convention
Dare – Human League
I Will Cure You – Vic Reeves
The Italian Job OST – Qunicy Jones
Greatest Hits – Goldie Lookin’ Chain
Slade in Flame – Slade
Your turn?