Gig Report: Bloc Party @ Paradiso (Amsterdam)

Seen on Friday, 27 November 2015 @ Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL

On the way traffic was atrocious on the motorway, so we arrived only fifteen minutes before Bloc Party were supposed to come on. Thus, we were stuck somewhere towards the back, but we could see, so we did not make too much effort to get forward. In hindsight we probably should have, because being so far back just made me feel a little disconnected.

The start was a little iffy. The sound was a little off and the sound people were tweaking it during the first song. Luckily it soon seemed fine tuned and the band was in fine form for their first European gig.

The crowd was a good one. Many people seemed to sing along almost every word, especially of the older stuff, and that is always good to see. I have listened to Bloc Party plenty enough, but not quite so much that I know the words to all the songs, so I was quite impressed with that!

Their line-up really seems to work for them and they did themselves justice. Kele was lively and enthusiastic with Russell in his own little world getting quite amazing sounds out of that old familiar Tele.

Bloc Party exceeded my expectations and I wish we had been closer in, so we felt more part of the gig.

For me highlights were ‘Hunting For Witches’, ‘Helicopter’ (which the whole crowd sang along), and the lovely ravy ‘One More Chance’. The new stuff still sat uneasily in the set for me, but I have to admit that apart from ‘The Love Within’ I had not heard them before.

Overall a good gig. Enjoyable, but not incredibly memorable.

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Gig Report: Ash @ Melkweg (Amsterdam)

Seen on 16 November 2015 @ Melkweg, Amsterdam, NL

What should have been the start of Ash and We Are Scientists’s  combined Masters of the Euroverse Tour, was blemished by the fact that We Are Scientists were not able to play their co-headline set. Singer Keith Murray was at the Eagles of Death Metal gig at the Bataclan on Friday 13 November. Though he and his wife fortunately left before anything happened, it left them understandably shaken up and he decided to fly her home to NYC. The right thing to do and I cannot say a bad word against this decision. Of course I was disappointed not to have a We Are Scientists gig, but sometimes things take precedence and this was one of those times.

Now, de Oude Zaal in de Melkweg is a small venue, taking only about 700 at the best of times. I don’t think the gig had sold out (what’s wrong with people!) and I don’t know how many people decided not to show up after the Scientists cancelled, but though there were plenty of people, it felt well, unfull. Now the crowd was pretty tame, though that might well be something to do with the Dutch stoicism. I have never been so grateful for a mental girl to liven up the gig. Thanks, whoever you were! The Dutch have a saying that goes ‘just act normal, that’s crazy enough’. I so disagree with that. You go to a gig to enjoy yourself, so do try and look like you are!!! Of course, I did my fair share of dancing. Having said that, I heard nothing but praise for Ash afterwards, so they must have enjoyed the gig. Funny Dutchies (I can say that, I am one of them).

I was really looking forward to seeing Ash live again after 19 years. After having been off my radar for far too long, it was a blast to see them again and they did not disappoint. With the Shadows-like instrumental opener Evel Knievel straight into Cocoon they really set the tone with a high energy set. Though Ash’s set was littered with the old hits such as Jack Names The Planets, Girl From Mars, Shining Light, Kung Fu, Orpheus, Oh Yeah and Burn Baby Burn,  they really shone when they did the songs from their new album Kablammo!  Let’s Ride, Go! Fight! Win!, Free, Shutdown and Machinery fitted seamlessly into their set and suffered none of the polite respect that bands often suffer when playing new stuff whilst having such an impressive back catalogue. No, indeed, these new songs stand up and more! I do wish they had played some A-Z stuff and maybe Twilight of the Innocents, but maybe another day, another gig. You can only fit in so much!

For me, the highlight came at the end when the guys were joined on stage by Chris Cain and Keith Carne of We Are Scientists. There was a bit of W.A.S.H.-action going on after all! They played a couple of We Are Scientists songs (The Great Escape and After Hours) and they were awesome, even if Tim messed up the lyrics! The Best Man speech that Chris gave during final song, the Weezer cover Undone – The Sweater Song – in which he pretended Ash were getting married, was hilarious and was a gig moment for the ages.

So despite the underwhelming crowd, I had a fantastic time. Ash really proved themselves to be a terrific live band, so if they are coming anywhere near where you are, make sure you catch them!