Friday, 23 December 2011

The Destroyers: monstrous, magnificent and loads of fun.

A Christmas show that brought a New Year's resolution for this blog: more music, less radio. 

I haven't written much about the Destroyers on this blog. My bad. It's not because I don't think they're pretty damn fab (they are, oh yes, they really are) but simply because it's been a year since I last caught them in full fig, live. And yesterday was the first time I've seen them in front of a truly DEMENTED audience... their natural element, of course.

This was the Destroyers' Christmas party, held at the Prince of Wales in Moseley, Birmingham. And, oh, what fun there was to be had. My previous Destroyers gigs were more formal and/or subdued: for example, halfway up the bill at Moseley Folk (that's Richard  Shakespeare's shot of that particular gig, by the way). This was a ridiculously low placing - a headline or near-headline slot in 2012 is more than merited. They there's the regular Town Hall December slot. Now, much as I love the Town Hall,  it does not entirely lend itself to uninhibited audience behaviour. It's just not that kind of venue. The upside is that you can better analyse what's going on stage. I quite like that. But I also like to be swept along and blown away.

So this made the Prince of Wales gig all the more fun. But what really put the icing on the cake was to see how much the band has kicked on in a single short year. It's always great to watch bands and acts grow and blossom - it's one of the reasons I love following music in my town. This year, Goodnight Lenin took it up several notches, for example, and ADO delivered their best performance yet at the end of November. But the Destroyers hit a whole other level. Huge showmanship, jaw-dropping musicality, and some wonderful ensemble work. They reeled off a string of new songs from their forthcoming album; each one of them a peach. Balancing the feverish eastern European influences was a new and bracing shot of Celtic folk, and the slightest hint of urban grooves. Musical promiscuity at its finest. A 75 minute set just whipped by.

I've said it before: there's something special going on with the music in this town. I'm pretty sure this is happening everywhere, with bands opting to follow their own destinies as never before. And that's great. It's producing some very interesting new acts and some wonderful music.  This is the kind of thing that has to be cherished and protected, as I posted a few weeks back. As we wobble into a very uncertain 2012, it's comforting and inspiring to think about the explosive creativity we've all been privileged to witness.

So it's decision time. In the coming year, I am going to revise the direction of this blog. While I will continue to try to cover radio, it's a dispiriting task, all things considered. Our medium still has huge power and limitless potential, but that potential is just so badly mis-used, in far too many cases. But on the music side, it's all good: there is just a ton of brilliant musical talent to talk about, and great stories to tell. I plan to tell a few of these in the coming months.  I'm looking forward to it.

I can't close this post without mentioning the other bands on the bill: Layla And The Good Lads  were new to me, and they absolutely rocked. I'd never heard a power trio with acoustic lead/rythm guitar before. Great songs, lovely presence, and they kick like a mule when they want to: all the pieces are there. And Abie's Miracle Tonic were their usual charming and energetic selves - hugely enjoyable stuff.

The Destroyers' new album is due out sometime this spring. I can't wait. You can hasten its arrival by going to Pledgemusic and putting in an advance order. It will not, I assure you, be a waste of your money.

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