Kick Up The Fire / Scholars / Lonely The Brave live review

Live at The Bowery, New Oxford Street, London (18/11/2010)

It’s not often that you go to a gig and come out raving about all three bands on the bill. But it seems like many people will have come away from the Bowery on Thursday night with a sense that they had discovered at least one excellent new band.

Lonely The Brave began the night in epic sweeping fashion, with reverb vocals and resounding riffs aplenty. Their Pearl Jam-meets-30 Seconds to Mars stylings definitely deserve a bigger venue.

Sam Nicholls: Scholar

Scholars were a different proposition altogether, with front man Sam Nicholls launching himself into a frankly petrified crowd and screaming every word as if his life depended on it. Once the audience had got over the initial shock, the charm of Scholars’ energetic pop-punk took hold, with a fair share of heads bobbing and toes tapping by the end of the half hour set.

Heading the bill were Kick Up The Fire, who were celebrating the launch of their self-titled mini-album. Lead singer Kenny Wastell cut an apologetic figure, and made it clear that the audience shouldn’t expect similar levels of lunacy to their predecessors.

Kick Up The Fire are one of those bands that worm their way into your head, they may not sound jaw-dropping at first, but after a couple of listens their alt-rock tunes really sink their teeth in and refuse to let go. It’s easy to see why Rock Sound said that their mini-album is “a record for which the repeat button seems custom-designed”.

Kick Up The Fire: Springsteen Fans

Covering every contemporary hot potato from lecherous politicians (No Hotel Room) to hypocritical religions (The Never-Ever Ending Story) in half an hour left the audience baying for more and KUTF duly obliged. The decision to repeat the two-minute anti-corporate sing-along No Fun In London instead of trying something more risky was ill-judged, however, and took some of the gloss off an otherwise flawless performance. There’s nothing wrong with leaving an audience wanting more, especially if you’ve yet to write a mediocre song.

Wastell confessed that he is currently a “fresher granddad” at age 29, but this can clearly be used to their advantage, as the fresh-faced girls in the front-row (presumably actual freshers) seemed like a pre-made street team. If they can fulfil their potential on a full-length album, there seems no reason why Kick Up The Fire can’t take 2011 by storm.

Hatsune Miku: Future of Pop or Japanese Fad?

I think it’s fair to say that if you want to see the future of technology then look East. More specifically, look to Japan. The Japanese always seem to be one step ahead, but this time I’d be quite worried if they are:

Hatsune Miku is the brainchild of Crypton Future Media and a record executive’s dream. No artistic differences, no off days, no diva behaviour. This is because, in case you haven’t already figured it out, she’s a hologram. Not just that, a hologram that can sing in perfect autotuned tones (albeit in Japanese).

What worries me about this video, is that it represents a lot of what’s going wrong with the UK music scene in the X-Factor generation. The homogenised vocals are clearly meant to be balanced out by the authenticity of having a live band, and yes, Miku’s J-Rock stylings have an undeniable appeal to them, but it’s all so incredibly soulless and that scares me rigid.

Maybe it’ll never take off in Europe, but I just can’t shake the thought that Simon Cowell would leap at the chance to literally make pop stars on an annual basis…

The great irony of the NUS Millbank protest

This may sound perverse, but watching the scenes of today’s tuition fees protest, with smashed windows, flaming flares and burning placards at Millbank, I wish I was there. It brings back the sheer exhiliration of the G20 protests last year and it’s great to see people getting on the streets and making sure their voice is heard.

Wish you were here?

The bottom line to it all is that the Lib Dems have betrayed students. A major campaign promise from the yellows was to scrap tuition fees, now the coalition Government is set to triple them.

The hypocrisy is blatant and we may see a generation of disillusioned students turn to Labour as a direct result. NUS president Aaron Porter is spot on to call for a recall law, which would let the electorate show the Lib Dems exactly what they think of them now.

However, many of the protesters seem to be getting caught up in the moment and are not thinking ahead. Last year at the G20 protests, the majority of the troublemakers were hooded and masked by bandanas. The number of bare faced students who have been caught on camera breaking windows today is truly surprising.

Forget the rising cost of a degree, if you come away from today with a criminal record, then that will do far more to hinder your future employment prospects.