Pointless Request Hour – The Blue Aeroplanes live

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Gerard Langley and Gerard Starkie, Stereo

The Blue Aeroplanes / The Media Whores – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh (Saturday 14th January 2017) and Stereo, Glasgow (Sunday 15th January 2017)

With the download of the pre-orders for the new album arriving on New Year’s Day and a live double header in the middle of the month, the Blue Aeroplanes have certainly got 2017 off to some start.

Indeed, it’s quite possible the year has already peaked musically – ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ would have been my album of the year in 2015 or 2016, had it been released in either year, so it’s already favourite for this year’s top spot.

And the gigs? Well, on the evidence of Edinburgh and Glasgow at the weekend, they’re also going to be hard to beat – VERY hard to beat.

In MPT’s view there’s little better than an experienced band playing a set infused with new material that they’ve got confidence in. And at the weekend the Aeroplanes played new album ‘Welcome, Stranger!’ in its entirety.

The inclusion of all the new songs meant that the set was given a major overhaul since the last tour. So the ‘other’ songs were a pleasing mix of the hits (‘Jacket Hangs’, ‘Yr Own World’ and ‘And Stones’), fan favourites such as ‘What It Is’ (the highlight of my weekend, I think, was hearing its intro in Edinburgh) and less obvious choices like ‘Oak Apple Day’ and ‘Missy Lane’.

It really doesn’t seem to matter what the line-up is -whoever is playing behind (and sometimes around and in front of) Gerard Langley always manages to put on a great show. But this line-up really is a magnificent live unit and produced exhilarating shows on both nights.

The tempo was only really dropped noticeably for the ‘Oak Apple Day’/’Missy Lane’ segment.  Otherwise the likes of ‘What It Is’ and the closing ‘Here Is The Heart of All Wild Things’ made up in intensity what they lacked in speed.

Sound-wise I’d say that Glasgow just shaded it – Edinburgh was probably a little too loud and the opening ‘Dead Tree! Dead Tree!’ suffered from Gerard’s vocals being a bit muffled. On the other hand the Edinburgh show probably had the marginally better reaction from the crowd – indeed there was even a surge to the front for the closing ‘Breaking In My Heart’ – which, incidentally, was breathtaking on both nights.

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Bec Jevons, Stereo

All the singing members got their own chance in the spotlight. Bec delivered her own song ‘Skin’ from WS! whilst Gerard S was out front for ‘Missy Lane’ and Chris, as on the last tour, delivered ‘Fun’.

 

Visually the two shows were a bit different as legendary dancer Wojtek was at the Voodoo Rooms but not at Stereo.

On a relatively tight stage, his presence added visual chaos to proceedings with the various guitarists weaving impressively between each other. It almost looked like it had been rehearsed!

Any mishaps were minor – Bec lost her lead at one point during ‘Breaking In My Heart’ whilst Wojtek showed impressive core strength to avoid tumbling into the drum kit during ‘What It Is’ and Mike and Gerard S somehow managed to avoid getting tangled up at the finale.

I expected Glasgow to be less visually compelling but, in fact, the band more than made up for Wojtek’s absence with their greater movement throughout.

With a bigger stage area, you might have thought that the potential for mishaps would be reduced but, if anything, the danger increased. The extra speed resulted in a lot of near misses with band members’ feet regularly getting caught up in each other’s leads and it was surely a miracle that they all stayed upright til the end. Well, apart from the unnamed guitarist who leapt from the top of the amps on the raised section of the stage!

Turnout wise, perhaps surprisingly, the Edinburgh show was by far the better attended although I’m sure that was down to the days of the shows rather than the cities. Whilst I don’t think that the Voodoo Rooms was sold out it was certainly pretty busy.

In that light, Glasgow was a little disappointing in numbers. Certainly there were more at the show than had been at the Broadcast show three years ago but there wasn’t quite the same buzz as on the Saturday.

Regardless it was great to see both shows, the first time I’d been motivated to see the same band on consecutive nights for a good number of years.

And it was also good to see folk queuing up at the merch stall at the end – I’d imagine that ‘Welcome Stranger!’ sold a good few copies. And deservedly so.

I said ahead of the weekend that I was as excited about these shows as I’d been about any in a very long time and they were every bit as thrilling as I’d hoped.

And Gerard promised at both gigs that the band will be back. Can’t wait.

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Gerard L and Wojtek Dmochowski, The Voodoo Rooms

Setlist (both nights)

  1. Dead Tree! Dead Tree!
  2. Yr Own World
  3. Retro Moon
  4. Looking for Xs On A Map
  5. Sweet Like Chocolate
  6. What It Is
  7. Missy Lane
  8. Oak Apple Day
  9. Walking Under Ladders for a Living
  10. Elvis Festival
  11. Nothing Will Happen In The Future
  12. Skin
  13. Jacket Hangs
  14. … And Stones
  15. Here is the Heart of All Wild Things

Encore 1

  1. Fun
  2. I Wanna Be Your Lover
  3. Poetland

Encore 2

18 Breaking In My Heart

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The Media Whores, The Voodoo Rooms

Support on both nights were the Media Whores (or Media Hoors as the singer introduced them) and they turned out to be a very good live band if they occasionally veered a little close to heavy rock for my liking.

Their hearts are absolutely in the right places and they certainly got a decent reception from the Aeroplanes audiences. And they too had a dancer (for one song)– although the fact that it was a burlesque dancer was a little … unexpected.

Manic Pop Stills – sets of photos from Edinburgh and Glasgow

The Blue Aeroplanes ‘Welcome Stranger!’ is available online here or at the remaining shows on the tour, which resumes tomorrow after a couple of days off:

18 Jan 2017 Nottingham Rescue Rooms Nottingham
19 Jan 2017 Hare & Hounds Kings Heath Birmingham
20 Jan 2017 Harlow Square Harlow
21 Jan 2017 O2 Academy Islington London
25 Jan 2017 The Cellar Oxford
26 Jan 2017 Leadmill Sheffield
27 Jan 2017 Norwich Arts Centre Norwich
28 Jan 2017 Audio Brighton Brighton
29 Jan 2017 Cavern Exeter

Some more shots from the shows:

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Mike Youe, Stereo
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Chris Sharp, Stereo
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Gerard Starkie, The Voodoo Rooms
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Bec, Gerard S and Mike, Stereo
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The Voodoo Rooms

 

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Stereo

 

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4 thoughts on “Pointless Request Hour – The Blue Aeroplanes live

  1. I have not read this review! I suspect it is a very comprehensive piece of work indeed but it would colour mine and BM tries to take things as she sees them (will sneak a look at the setlist though as BM’s knowledge of the repertoire is not as good as yours! all the best!

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