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LIVE: Gentleman’s Dub Club @ O2 Ritz | 09.11.18

WORDS BY TIM MOONEY

The wonderful thing about dub and reggae music is that no matter how much of a miserable sod you may be, it is almost impossible not to crack a smile and sway peacefully (or jump manically) to the sounds of a dub band. Especially when that band is Gentleman’s Dub Club. With an explosion of pure energy in every one of their performances alongside a back-catalogue of sing-along crowd favourites, Gentleman’s Dub Club are capable of injecting life into even the grumpiest of folks.

I’m lucky enough to have seen Gentleman’s Dub Club perform a couple of times before, and their show at Manchester’s O2 Ritz began with the same wailing siren call that carries them on to the stage every time. The regular fans in the crowd knew immediately to unleash their excitement at the sound of the siren, and sure enough, the band took to the stage wearing matching formal attire and released the unmistakable sound of syncopated reggae rhythms as the brass section began to wail an opening riff.

Soon enough front-man Jonathan Scratchley marches on stage, grinning ecstatically at the crowd and flaying his arms at his side. This confident entrance sent an immediate wave of energy and happiness over the excitable audience. The moment that the drums broke in to full swing, both crowd and band began bouncing enthusiastically like raucous members of ska bands so often do. Knees up and arms in the air is the only way to fully immerse yourself in the spirit of a Gentleman’s Dub Club gig.

With a fully loaded stage hosting GDC’s eight members, there was constantly something of interest to absorb your attention, as eyes drifted from drummer to guitarist to percussionist to keys. The other benefit to having such a large band is the sense of energy they could bring to the stage so easily. In particular, the front-man and two-piece brass section were able to move freely around the stage constantly throughout the set, bringing an engaging dynamism to their performance which meant you couldn’t resist hopping around ludicrously in a similar fashion to the band on stage.

 

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Friday feels like so long ago, what a wonderful weekend ☺️

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Despite the undeniable cheerfulness of Gentleman’s Dub Club’s music, Scratchley took a brief moment towards the end of their set to address the crowd, explaining that he had been having a hard time over the last few days. He then proceeded to thank his audience for making him feel so good and explained that he was all better now, this was received by fans with deafening cheers of sheer joy to be a part of this particular moment.

All in all, Gentleman’s Dub Club certainly didn’t fail to inject the Ritz with an addictive dose of pure carefree energy. Their sing-along favourites such as High Grade, Fire, and Music is the Girl I Love fully delivered and kept the audience hopping from foot to foot. The next time I see Gentleman’s Dub Club at a gig, I’ll consider rocking some sportswear for the workout.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Baxter Dury @ O2 Ritz | 08.11.18

WORDS BY RUSSELL HOPE        PHOTO BY LEE RAMSEY

“You’ve gotta check out Baxter Dury live, he’s something else” this comes from a mate who’s into his live music and saw Drury perform earlier this year at Gorilla. When Rough Trade got in touch with the team at MCR Live and asked us to put our take on Baxter’s gig at the O2 Ritz, my hand shot up faster than Baxter’s Pendolino from Chiswick.

The recent collaboration between Baxter Dury, Etienne De Crécy and Delilah Holliday – BED – is something completely new. Baxter’s moody autobiographical take on the world around him is addictive, endearing, punchy and I wanted to see it live, along with beats of the classic De Crécy and sultry vocals of Holliday: it’s a perfect collaboration.

Who’s supporting tonight? Alexis Taylor, Hot Chip’s techno wizard and multi-instrumentalist. There’s plenty of time to soak up his mastery with his 3-piece band. Donning a pearly king cap and a matching denim work suit, ochre/mustard in colourway, he knocks out 45 minutes of his own stuff and throws in “a cover of a Hot Chip song”. Playing keys/synth and guitar at the same time, (keys riff straight into chords) he’s ably supported by drums and bass making him a great support for the main act.

Enter the band with Baxter Dury. Flanking the main ‘salamander’ for the night, the ‘sausage men’, are two of Baxter’s angels, rocking glitter, sequins and white, stood front of stage left and right, commanding keys, synths and beautiful vocals. Set behind them is the lead and back-line of rhythm and bass, whilst front and centre awaiting the ‘shadow licker’ a double stack of keys and synths and the all-important mic which is about to channel Baxter’s spitting rhymes.

Enter Baxter, beckoning the crowd for more applause, his confidence and bare-faced arrogance is drawing us in further. “I’m funnier when I don’t speak” he laughs later in the set. He’s right, he’s a true showman and moves from body popping, kung fu mime-artistry, coat flashes, 1000 yard stares, air violin and every move is entertaining his theatrical manner. On the mic, he jumps from caressing the mic stand to channelling aggression and sometimes frustration at not being able to convey what’s going on in his mind, and using his tie to stop him from ripping off someone’s head from the front row. When singing or spoken word, his cockney rhymes come through strong and has similarities on the mic with John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) and of course his Dad, Ian Dury. His music debut was at five years old on the front cover of his Dad’s record ‘New Boots and Panties’. Tonight he’s stand alone and in the audience we did notice there were some original members of The Blockheads, still rocking the look and not hiding the grey hairs.

 

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baxter dury 🖤

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The performance is gripping and runs through a seemingly chronological take on Baxter’s career today, even a BED track slips in there, the popular ‘White Coats’ which is getting plenty of airplay at the minute, including on ‘Plastic Fantastic‘ on MCR Live. We’re now well into the gig and Baxter starts blowing kisses to the crowd, amplified through the mic, showing more under jacket flashes, “I love it in Manchester. I’m not just saying a cheesy speech y’know” he refers to the Gorilla gig as “the other day” and confesses “that’s all I am though, ain’t I – a cheesy speech over some music”. The rest of the band laugh and it’s clear they all have good camaraderie and are having a great time, Baxter stripping and throwing his jacket and tie at the roadie as he starts a play fight with ‘Leonardo’ on Bass.

‘Miami’ is a crowd (and band) favourite, whilst ‘Cocaine Man’ and ‘Prince of Tears’ are the encore, Baxter enters after the band again and starts a “Baxter! Baxter! Baxter!” chant to the beat of ‘Cocaine Man’. Just when you think it’s just a self-indulgent ego trip, he goes around the whole band getting the crowd to chant their names too for a couple of bars each. What a top show. Baxter Dury has a crowd in the palm of his hands and a band that is well placed to guide everyone through his chaotic, passionate genius. Keep spitting those words Baxter.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Parquet Courts @ O2 Ritz

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER          PHOTOS BY PIRAN ASTON

A modern-day all-American alt-rock band, Parquet Courts aren’t shying away from the music scene any time soon. With the recent release of their sixth studio album – ‘Wide Awake!’ – and being a collection of musicians with multiple other side projects; they live and breathe music. The album brought “Parkay Quarts” (as they’re often known) bang up to date for the modern millennial which in turn meant a UK tour for the band. Now Wave hosted the first date which led to a sold-out 1500 capacity O2 Ritz in Manchester on a 6-date tour of which all but one date sold-out. Can you get much more of an applaud than that?

 

Fiesty and tireless the band – fronted by A. Savage and Austin Brown – are true to their aesthetic throughout and work together to present the Parquet Courts experience in all its glory. Expertly played guitar, drums and bass are layered over the entwined vocals of the two front men, each tracing the other in a unified discourse stream that captures the attention of the audience. The live debut of hit track ‘Tenderness’  from the new album boasts a heightened sense of activity across the room. Already hyped up by the likes of ‘Wide Awake’ and ‘Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience’ there wasn’t any individual stood still and stagnant, jiving along to the cow bell and bass-heavy chords of the former and in contrast, thrashing away to the latter’s weighty guitar rifts.

It’s overall an enthralling set, which goes ahead non-stop, throwing punches with each beat. One of their greatest strengths is timing; within both their music and their conversation with the crowd. The visual light show happening throughout the set matches the energy of their performance and the traits of the band, flashing colours burst on to each member at a quick momentum that you can’t help but watch in awe.

Easing into the end of the set with the ever epic ‘One Man No City’ – from 2016’s ‘Human Performance’ album –  it’s a six-minute long venture into the bowels of alt-rock, rife with anti-solos and the chant of the lyrics, pioneered by Savage. The finale comes in the form of ‘Light Up Gold II’ for a swift one-minute ending that acts as the klaxon for the 4-piece, fast and fluid, it’s a speedy end that leaves the audience wanting more. Then they’re gone, no encore but there’s only a dull call for one, as though everyone knows that that’s not the way they do: Parquet Courts don’t play games. They bring their all with a live performance that boasts a rush of coiled energy and serrated intent, from a band unlikely – and unwilling – to lose their edge.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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