May and a bloody rainy UK. Let’s leave politics, unions and working class demonstrations behind and move to the wet north-west in search of some new music.
A band from Manchester which has a front-man named Liam, that looks like Noel (Gallagher) and plays his same guitar doesn’t start with the “original” label ticked, does it?
Before approaching The Courteeners’ music I had to convince myself that originality is not an uncompromising aspect of emerging bands. Tough start in a difficult age.
That British indie-guitar-rock is not living its most blossoming season, was clear even before these guys started recording their first single.
Listening to it, you can istantly perceive that their ideal format is Babyshambles but when, about one minute later, you find yourself missing Pete Doherty, you get a definite sign to start worrying.
Whichever nuance of the indie genre you go for nowadays, pop-ish or rock-ish, you’ll run into attempts to copycat recent success acts.
If Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong every single day disclose that Razorlight are their point of reference (I know it sounds weird but this is it!), the more ambitious, and inevitably less successful, Sons and Daughters try the impossible thing to convince Siouxsie is their mum.
A chapter on its own should be dedicated to the dramatic fate of what I call the K-effect.
The doom you are destined if you name your band with a K word. Kaiser Chiefs, Keane, Klaxons, Kooks and likely many more, a K-something name will automatic K-ill your chances to compose good tunes. Instead you’ll find yourself swallowed into a net of stupid refrains which you feel forced to use as chorus-fillers.
If I had teenage kids I would be anxious to know they want to form a rock band. The idea my children could end up covering the Hoosiers it’s scary enough to lock them in front of the TV 24/7 playing Guitar Hero on the Playstation.
The final goal of any band today is not music but either NME cover(age) or Jools Holland slots. Fantastic if you get both. I wonder why NME is losing thousands of readers and Jools is filling his “Later with…” line-up with old R&B singers and jazz legend commemorations. He even moved it to an earlier midweek, grandparent’s friendly, time.
The Courteeners are among the many predictable and unoriginal bands to have appeared in front of me in recent months. As you would have thought even if you don’t like the idea, clinging to well known cliché helps success. Their debut album St. Jude has just been a top five on the Brit charts. They got the cool NME cover and a Jonathan Ross appearance. Jools Holland and summer festivals surely will be their next stops.
Musically as heroic as Mancunian Don Quixotes, Courteeners insist on exploring whether there is an umpteenth free space in the Libertines-Babyshambles windmill. They must have fought with The View to get last cubicle left to be used as recording studio.
Curiously enough the first time I saw Courteeners, they opened for the Babyshambles. I thought they were quite bland, but playing the Brixton academy in front of Doherty’s fanatics isn’t an easy task.
Two months later they got their tour, and I got my second chance.
Unfortunately the only thing they boosted headlining an own tour was Liam’s arrogance which, I realized later, infuses the lyrics. It must have been Oasis’ lesson, but it isn’t adding any magnetism to me.
Texts are saturate with a defensive and arrogant attitude that you got out of insecure people, it definitely appeal many.
On the hit “Not Nineteen Forever” being rejected by a girl
“ – get your hand off my thigh – in the car she turned to me and said”
cause an offensive and violent reaction full of resentful anger
“…never mind you’ll probably never look that pretty again
You’re not nineteen forever pull yourselves together
I know it seems strange but things they change
older woman and ever so slightly younger man
youre not nineteen forever
it’s not me, you’re definitely not clever”
The same grudge flows through their other hit “Acrylic”
“Your just like plasticine being molded into a libertine dreamer, I feel so sorry for you, If you were 13 I’d let you off but your not you should know better. Ok Jackie if you got no spine, please vacate this city of mine”
To culminate in the classic jealousy driven pre-fight, meeting on “An ex is an ex for a reason”
“if I’m talking to you at the back of the club why does he walk past me?
and why does he rubs his shoulder past mine?
is it to let me know that he’s here?
is he really threatened by the presence of me?”
Not just teenage arguments, low self-esteem and negative self-judgement is another source of inspiration (and seduction) that must appeal to a variety of youngsters
“just because I use salty phrases and I go through stages
where I neglect endeavor because it means that I’m not clever
no, i dont think so
just because my newspaper pages havent been the Times in ages
does that mean that i don’t know as much as you ?”
(No You Didn’t, No You Don’t)
Expectedly it turn into arrogance culminating in the landmark questions who Courteeners are printing in the official merchandising T-shirts. The F-world always works when teenage hormones hit peak levels.
“when you walk past with your eyeliner on, one hand in glove I’m gonna ask you, can you play guitar my boy? can you fuck?”
(Fallowfield Hillbilly )
erm…sorry Liam, no, you are not, not quite yet.
This is easy and achievable by everyone with a camera at the right concert.
You need neither to be an accredited photographer nor to be in the pit.
Crowd-surfing is one of the most amusing activities for concert goers and one of the most successful for photographers.
If you follow few guidelines to get ace shots is not difficult. All you need is to be at the right time in the right place.
The right time is an energetic rock concert where fans tend to dance wildly because likely they will end up crowd-surfing as soon as the first hit is played.
The right place is a mid size venue with few hundreds people standing.
Find yourself a central spot at the back of the stalls, best if it is slightly elevated.
What you want to do is to frame the lit up stage on the background waiting for the flying surfer silhouette to cast in front of it.
The mixer desk is a perfect location but it is usually not accessible even with a press pass. Don’t desperate, with most digitals you can easily point-and-shoot raising your camera over other people heads. That’s all you need.
The composition is clearly your choice. Technically you want a medium telephoto to include the bright part of the stage and potentially the band. Set your camera with a fast shutter and let the aperture adapt to it. The result will be a dark figure standing in front of the band over other people heads.
You must be ready and quick because the good moment last a split of second, usually is when the surfing guy is about to land in the hands of the security. You need to try several times to get a good shot. Don’t waste your best moment looking at the picture you just took. I can’t understand why people rush to see the results at every taken picture. You will always have time to look at them at home, you definitely won’t have the opportunity to take that guy flying again!
Try and have fun