REAL GONE GOES OUT: Marmozets – Student Central (ULU), London 7/2/2018

It’s the coldest February night on record. If it isn’t, then it certainly feels like it. On the outskirts of London, temperatures have dropped to -4° and even in the city, it’s reached an unwelcoming freezing point. Outside Student Central (formerly ULU), the gathering crowd appears fidgety, but not enough to dampen any sense of pending excitement. That said, a young man audibly claims there’s “about forty seconds until doors open”, so he’s obviously found himself on the wrong side of comfortable with the weather.

Luckily, once inside, things are much warmer. The gig area for Student Central is a no frills square room with a stage and tonight, a crowd for the Marmozets has packed it to the rafters. The band have previously played the main stage at the Reading and Leeds Festivals and are scheduled to appear at the 2018 Download Festival, so this opportunity to catch them in a somewhat intimate setting is very welcome…and something about the band’s upward trajectory in popularity recently suggests this might even be one of the last times we’re able to do so.

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MY LIFE STORY – Islington Academy, London 22/12/2017

In August 2017, Real Gone attended the Star Shaped Festival in London. Like so many, the re-formed Sleeper were the big draw for us, but the day brought something rather unexpected. A mid-afternoon set from Jake Shillingford’s My Life Story ranked a close second in terms of entertainment. We approached the set with no real expectations and…an hour later, we considered ourselves fans. It wasn’t just the material that won us over; it was Shillingford’s command of the stage and audience. At approximately 3:30PM, from the back of the venue, we watched as a few pockets of people bounced, while others looked on. About forty minutes later, most of the venue was bouncing and waving in unison, so obviously swept along with the band’s infectious levels of enthusiasm. We knew, after that, we just had to see My Life Story again…

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Saint Etienne – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London 9/12/2017

It’s approximately 9pm on a very cold December night. It’s freezing outside and also decidedly chilly inside the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The audience are shuffling around with a casual indifference. We’ve all just been bored to tears by the night’s support act, The Clientele, who appear to have played the same bland dreampop/indie tune ten or eleven times. Judging by the lack of atmosphere on stage and the rambling tunes punctuated by the occasional monosyllabic “thanks…”, the performers seemed just as as bored by their own music. [In retrospect, while they were devastatingly dull, it was easy to see why they were chosen. They weren’t the worst support act ever – that honour will forever be owned by Patrik Fitzgerald – they were just very boring.]

Saint Etienne are about to take the stage, though, so surely things are about to get much better. The minutes pass and a selection of kitschy tunes – almost certainly curated by Saint Et’s own pop historian Bob Stanley – fills time. As it happens, this is all more entertaining than The Clientele. and worthy of an easily accessible Spotify playlist. Saint Etienne founders, Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, along with various other musicians, eventually saunter on stage at a rather casual 9:25, followed by vocalist Sarah Cracknell.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Redd Kross, Electric Brixton, London 31/10/2017

It’s Hallowe’en. Across Brixton, various young people are getting ready for spooky festivities. It probably means they’re off to the pub in their best Bride of Frankenstein and Corpse Bride finery before hitting the clubs later, but it seems fairly busy for a Tuesday night. There aren’t any skeletons or pumpkins adorning the Electric Brixton, but a cursory look at the merchandising stand still makes the occasion very clear. A massive poster advertising this show featuring power pop legends Redd Kross and sludgy art rock oddballs the Melvins very much resembles a promotional poster for an eighties slasher flick. As far as gig posters go, it’s incredibly smart, although no more of a spook-show concept should be looked for, especially as the night progresses.

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REAL GONE GOES OUT: Sleeper – Kentish Town Forum, London, 5/8/2017

It’s approximately 8:30pm. The house lights are wavering and there’s a growing feeling of tense excitement in the venue. Spent in the company of various bands from Britpop’s peak, the Star Shaped Festival has already provided a very enjoyable afternoon, but there’s also been a definite feeling throughout most of the day that a reformed Sleeper are the biggest draw, so perhaps this tense and nervous feeling is more than justified. There’s a lot riding on their return and this next hour.

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