Haiti Benefit Concert

This was my first gig at the Roundhouse. It wasn’t a good start. With doors opening at 6pm, I arrived in Camden early afternoon figuring that I could walk round the market, have some food, take some photos and grab a pint or two. Instead, I arrive to an empty market with many of the stalls closed due to heavy rain and discover I’ve left my camera’s battery at home. (So apologies at the quality of the photos – they’re from an iPhone)

First impressions of the Roundhouse were positive. It’s an old converted railway ‘shed’ and looks from the outside looks like a massive corn exchange. Inside it’s equally as nice. The main auditorium is high but still feels intimate.

As with all benefit gigs. The night was a mixture of music, comedy and charity.

The evening started with a bunch of videos from celebs who couldn’t be bothered making the trip down saying ‘what a good cause it was, but not good enough for me to give up an evening, especially as it’s not being broadcast on TV’.

The host for the evening was Marcus Bridgstocke who did a great job of keeping the evening flowing, including a unplanned ‘beat box’ competition with a member of the audience (I suspect he was a plant). I think many in the audience weren’t sure who he was and clearly don’t stray too far from BBC1 or Radio 1.

With such an early start the crowd was pretty thin for the opening act, Nate James. As I’ll admit several times during this review, I know nothing about Nate. I don’t really listen to soul music. Soul for me ended with Motown. But despite this, I enjoyed Nate’s performance. He’s clearly got a good old fashioned soulful voice, i.e. one that doesn’t try and do vocal hurdles jumping between keys whle waving his hands up and down.

Introducing the next band, the Humans, was the rather lovely Sophie Anderton and Nicky Clarke.

The Humans, featuring Toyah Willcox on vocals, are an art-noise type prog rock type group. Unusually, they don’t feature a drummer, instead have two bassists and guitarist. Like all art-rock type groups. They had their moments. Clearly very talented musicians but at times they were a little bit too talented with some of the music overblown. The surprising thing was how good Toyah’s vocals are which are as strong as they ever where.

Another act I’m not too familiar with is Mr Hudson. I’d heard a few of his songs when he had a library but none since. They songs were fairly bland. Apparently he had been ill, but I think he gave the best vocal performance of the evening.

Bombay Cycle Club, fresh from their success at the NME Shockwave awards, were next. Looking like the maths class had been pushed onto stage. They’re an unusual little band. They do not look like a rock band. The lead singer’s vocal style is almost ‘shy’. They seem a geeky kids pretending to be rock stars but don’t get me wrong, their set was excellent and I’ve since bought their album. So they obviously did something right.

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, are another band I know nothing of. In fact I’d never heard of them before this gig. They appeared to have a number of fans in the crowd. There’s was nothing particularly interesting about them.

The Futureheads played a very short set and I think most in the crowd would have been very happy for them to play a few more songs.

The singer of I Blame Coco – looked like a surly teenager who had snook out of her house when her parents weren’t watching. Her voice really didn’t appear to come from her. It’s one of those ‘contemporary’ Lilly Allen type voices. She only played one song and left almost as quietly as she walked on the stage. I search for more info after the gig and she’s apparently got a six album deal with Island records. She also has a famous dad, Sting. On the basis of this performance, I think there’s a bit of nepotism going on.

It was clear as the evening went on. A large portion of the audience were only there for Paul Weller. Although I wasn’t there for Paul Weller, since I’ve never seen him before I was pleased to see him on the bill. He didn’t disappoint. Playing a short set he managed play some new songs and to squeeze in a number of classics such as ‘Town Called Malice’.

The other half of the crowd appeared to be there for KT Turnstull. Again, she’s not somebody I would listen to. I’ve never really known where to pigeon hole her. She’s clearly very talented with a nice voice but there’s nothing in the music that makes me want to listen to more. This was her first gig for several years so her set was a mixture of old and new (all new to me). Her fans seemed to appreciate her performance, so that’s what’s important.

The final act was Seasick Steve. This guy as far as I’m concerned is a legend. I’m not sure I’m convinced about the tall stories he tells but like all good blues singers, a little bit of exaggeration only improves the song. Steve’s set suffered from the over run of earlier acts. But in the 30 minutes he played, he blew away the majority of the crowd. As I left the venue there was a group of Paul Weller fans saying that they weren’t sure they would like him, having only attended for Paul Weller, but they all agreed that he was by far, the best act on the night.