Live at Love Apple (Bradford) on Wednesday, 16th August 2006
Blank generation disco is the new monthly live music night at the Love Apple, Bradford, a venue that is well worth the train journey from Leeds, or wherever you may be coming from. The promotion is in the honourable DIY fashion and there is no real musical agenda, but according to the promoter's myspace:
"We aim to host mates who music we've loved for ages and feel deserves to be heard, bands we feel need to play Bradford and bands that get in touch who we actually like."
The first night kicks off in a particularly acoustic vein with two local artists: Laura Groves and Oli Deakin, and two Bristol based solo acts: Joe Volk and Rose Kemp.
Laura, who hails from Shipley, opens the night to an extremely attentive home crowd. Immediately her clear, soaring, but unpretentious vocals sung over finger-picked folk guitar leave the audience seriously impressed. That this is all coming from an 18-year-old Shipley lass is astonishing.
With lyrics like "a lifetime of sleepless nights, imaginary glimpses of imaginary fights" her songs display an endearing innocence and tenderness, similar to an English Joni Mitchell or a more lucid Kate Bush. She is equally adept on the piano, which has been sitting expectantly to her right, and she finishes her set with two flowing and gentle songs.
It is Laura's potential which marks her performance, because if she's this good now...
Oli Deakin of Leeds' indie-rock heroes Samsa follows and he asserts himself on stage with a comfortable presence, clearly borne of extensive gigging experience. Oli's set is a mixture of his solo material and Samsa tracks, all of which are performed effortlessly and the crowd relax into the less intimate style. Maybe because it's not his crowd, or maybe because of the misapprehension that it's ok to talk loudly over acoustic indie rock, but the attention of the audience wanes, despite the quality of the set. However, the songs are well crafted and of a calibre that would make Radiohead proud.
Rose Kemp introduces Joe Volk, with the explanation that this is the last date of her UK tour, which Joe has supported her on. Joe is apparently going to play some of his "beautiful songs". True to Rose's word the songs are indeed beautiful, to the point of being intensely fragile. The playing style is a stark contrast to Oli's comfortable swagger. Joe is sat, hunched over guitar, in turns stumbling and then playing flawlessly, to the point where you think he is either being self-indulgent, or it's all a brilliant act.
Rose finishes the night and starts her set with an artist/audience boundary breaking gospel number. Foregoing the stage, she wanders into the partially full crowd belting out the intentionally attention grabbing 'Chocolate Jesus'. The tone is set for a challenging, aggressive and soulful performance.
The songs are excellent - jagged and angry as she stabs at a pink floral telecaster. The guitar amp is at times wince-inducingly loud which is a real shame, not least because it is so rare to see someone doing something different. After some superb vocal loop trickery and a gushingly appreciative audience, Rose finishes the set with another walkabout gospel track, and we're done.
A top night and all for £4 (£2 w/flyer or NUS), and on a personal note it was so good to hear all the acts singing with their own accents - not a contrived American drawl in earshot, superb.
acoustic folk indie