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Chart music - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
Chart music
Maps + Heather McVey + Sam from The Morning People
The Soul Tree, July 2nd 2006

A last-minute sounded-like-it-could-be-fun gig selected from the GreenMind mailing list, on the grounds that they're called "Maps", and addedentry likes maps, and, well, it was only £2 (and a band has to try pretty hard to be not worth two quid).

We arrived to find Sam already singing, so we shuffled in and took our places at the bar (nearly doubling the audience). Despite my best attempts at indie aloofness I found myself smirking along with his understated comedy acoustic act, particularly the following stroke of genius:
Did you ever visit somewhere that made you feel ill?
Oooh, ooh... Bar Hill
Only, er, without the link, obviously. I don't know how you'd sing a hyperlink; I just added that so that non-locals could see some of the horror of Bar Hill for themselves. One time he substituted "Cambourne" instead, which was even funnier! ... Maybe you had to be there, or to live here. Sam's tribute to Queen, "My least favourite band", also made me giggle and nudge Owen at every punchline. And all this despite the best efforts of the Soul Tree to turn me into a nindie curmudgeon, by the power of their increasingly appalling and overpriced bar!

I expected Heather McVey to fit the mould of the standard-issue 21st century female singer-songwriter: feisty (short and red-headed), sultry (pouting a lot), bluesy (as before but affecting an American accent), and blurring the boundaries of blues, folk, and rock (playing the guitar). On that front, she didn't disappoint; unfortunately, on every other front, she did. She ended her set with a limping cover of the Cure's "Boys Don't Cry" (or, as she sang it, "Girls Don't Cry") half-heartedly intermingled with "I bet you look good on the dancefloor". She didn't even have the decency to look as embarrassed as her audience did. Her myspace says she sounds like "Uniquely me": for small mercies, etc.

Finally, the headline band! I thought Owen would like Maps, and he thought I wouldn't like them, and we both persisted with these expectations throughout the gig, and only one of us was right. Which is to say, a) I'm still working on my quest to find the most irritating opening line for a gig review, and b) I thought they were great, to the amazement of Owen, who'd instantly filed them under shoegazing and therefore assumed I'd hate them. Let me get this straight: I don't mind shoegazing. Some of my best friends are shoegazers. I just wouldn't want my sister to marry one... no, hang on. What I don't like is endless waves of undifferentiated white noise over one murky chord on the keyboard, punctuated only by somebody reading the shipping forecast in German through a vocoder. What I don't like is the sort of shoegazing where gazing at your shoes would be exciting by comparison. But I like a lot of electronica, even swooshy, fuzzy, wave-after-wave-after-wave electronica, so long as it keeps moving. So long as you can still pick out a tune or a change of chord or a drum-beat occasionally. I guess what I'm saying is that I like my music to be at more than 0.2bpm.

Anyway, to get back to the point, Maps had a good ebb-and-flow kind of sound but with plenty of movement (you could almost dance to some of it, or at least shuffle back and forth enthusiastically enough to make your fringe quiver and your thick-set emo glasses slide down your nose a couple of millimetres, if you were so inclined), and they even had words to some of their songs, words and sort-of-tunes that I could still remember on the way home (even if I've more or less forgotten them all now except for one song that I actually really want to hear again but can't remember its name or enough words to google...). But anyway: definitely worth the ticket price, and I'll be downloading the tracks I liked if I can find the damn things.

Oh, and, not wanting to put the indie kids off, but other people like them too! (BBC local: Could Maps put Northamptonshire on the, er, map?)

But don't take my word for it -- make your own minds up:
- Maps [see also myspace]
- Heather McVey
- The Morning People [see also myspace]
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From: rmc28 Date: August 10th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh gosh, the Bar Hill song man.

I remember hearing him at a gig I went to a few years ago, where an ex-colleague of mine had her debut performance after some months of occasionally busking in the office at lunchtime. I think the Jobstream contingent made up about half the audience ...

I think about that song almost every time I think of Bar Hill.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 14th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Heather McVey

Hi - I am Heather McVey, and I am very sorry that you didn't enjoy my set. I thought I would try and do an indie type cover seeing as it was an indie night, but it obviously wasn't a good idea - i won't be doing that one again anyway as it sounds like a pile of steaming pooh. I was trying to connect with the crowd somehow who were standing in the shadows....You didn't make it clear as to the one front I DIDN'T disappoint on - it would be great to hear where I am doing it right - If there was a bit that you DID like, please let me know. But thank you for your critism, very constructive....
j4 From: j4 Date: August 14th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Heather McVey

Hey, I'm really sorry for the bitchy review -- not constructive at all, and I should remember that the artists might be reading when I use reviews as an excuse to try to be funny. :-/ I couldn't do what you do at all!

I do think it was the wrong venue, & the sound guys were obviously doing something screwy as it was really hard to hear any of the words -- I'd've probably liked it a lot more if I'd known what you were singing about! Good luck for the future and apologies again for being rotten.
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