When Smashing Pumpkins made their one and only UK stop in London on the first leg of the much anticipated ‘Shiny & Oh So Bright Tour’, it was an utterly thrilling experience. A mammoth three hour audio-visual extravaganza, the set made fantastic use of video screens and costume changes. Despite being in a huge, impersonal venue, it truly felt special – a show in every sense. [A full review of the night can be found here.]
In 2005, the unexpected happened. Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis and Lou Barlow buried the hatchet after several years of not speaking to each other. This led to the previously unthinkable happening – completed by Murph on drums, the band headed back into the studio. Their 2007 comeback record ‘Beyond’ was a great return.
Most people expected the reunion to be short-lived, but more albums and tours followed: ‘Farm’ was possibly even better than ‘Beyond’; ‘I Bet On Sky’ melded a rough production style with some great songs and while 2016’s ‘Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not’ could be considered the band on autopilot, it featured a classic Dinosaur sound throughout.
In July 2017, Los Angeles retro rock duo KOLARS visited Ramsgate Music Hall for the second time. Expected to be a good night, the sweaty and intimate atmosphere resulted in a night that the audience would never forget. The night was made even better by the presence of Smoke Season in support.
Although Smoke Season don’t have much in common with KOLARS, their brand of electronic pop proved particularly enthralling. Backed with the kind of sophisticated pop made by Alice & The Glass Lake with flourishes of electronica and dream pop, Gabby Bianco showed real star quality and – much like the KOLARS set, it was hard to imagine such a performance translating quite as well in a bigger venue.
Van Morrison is a legend. Not only that, but he’s a prolific legend.
Between launching his solo career in 1967 and May 2018, he’s recorded a staggering 39 studio albums. The last five of those have been released within a three year stretch.
While so many people are keen to view Van’s 70s work as the golden age, some of his later works are every bit as good as those famous early releases. 2012’s ‘Born To Sing: No Plan B’ and 2017’s ‘Roll With The Punches’ in particular find Morrison in particularly good voice, backed by a lot of blues based material. Both are albums that far outshine anything any of Van’s potential peers – Dylan, Neil Young, Clapton – could muster during their twilight years.
Earlier in 2017, the world lost Husker Du founding member Grant Hart. Along with guitarist vocalist Bob Mould, Hart arguably had the greatest influence on forming a sound the 90s would label “alternative rock”. Hart’s passing has seemingly allowed a lot of people – Real Gone included – to immerse themselves in the Huskers catalogue, and while the loss of Hart is immeasurable, the release of a Husker Du box set of rarities is something to celebrate.