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The Charlatans
Thursday 11/12
The Charlatans @ The Howard Theatre
$29.50 / $35
Modern Nature was the eighth Charlatans album to enter the British top ten, hitting number seven in the week of release. All four singles from the record, 'Talking In Tones', 'So Oh', 'Come Home Baby', 'Let The Good Times Be Never Ending' were A-listed at BBC 6Music and featured on playlists at Radio 2, XFM and Absolute Radio. In October 2014, the Charlatans were given a lifetime achievement award by Q magazine, the icing on the cake after journalists wrote glowing reviews of Modern Nature across the UK and international press. Reflecting on the past twelve months and the long process that brought The Charlatans to this point, Burgess says that though the band were confident that they'd made one of the best records of their career, "until something happens you never really know. But it's gone as well as we could have hoped." It's not like they had an easy ride, however. The shadow of the death of their dear friend and drummer Jon Brookes after a long battle with brain cancer in August 2013, hung over Burgess, Mark Collins, Martin Blunt and Tony Rogers. Modern Nature was all about doing right with by memory. "Jon was adamant that there was going to be another Charlatans record, and you have to put that into your own thoughts," says Rogers. Looking back now, Burgess says that Modern Nature has "transcended being an album about death, about a tragedy. It's gone beyond that now, which is everything that Jon could have hoped for. He wouldn't have wanted it to be about something as final as death." What Modern Nature is about is soul. Collins says that "There was a soulful element that we all agreed on. Martin in particular wanted to make a soulful record. It's quite a big word isn't it, soul?" Burgess agrees that it was a difficult challenge for the band to set themselves. "What is a soulful record? It's all the fibres of everybody's being. It's not a cliché and there are no obvious reference points. It's just everyone's spirit." As well as Blunt's determination that the group record a soul album, Burgess was keen to try and capture some of the fire that first bound them together nearly three decades ago - not to go backwards, but to inspire them to create a fierce new energy: "we put everything into it. Everything that we did was something new. I was really inspired by our first record, because then we were doing everything for the first time and there were no reference points." United in Big Mushroom with Jim Spencer at the controls, The Charlatans were determined to make a positive, upbeat record. "We were aching for the summer when we wrote it" says Burgess. "It was freezing and we were trying to write songs that made us happy. " Music that the band were listening to in the studio and their sitting room, a huge space wallpapered with photographs of mountain scenes, included Arthur Russell's Let's Go Swimming, Brazilian funk, Northern Soul, William Onyeabor, Serge Gainsbourg with Jean Claude Vannier "weird, electronic, Moog-sounding things", Curtis Mayfield and "a lot of stuff with decent basslines. We were all dancing to Maxine Brown, 'Right Back Where It Started From'". The band all agree that despite the "big negative" of their loss, the aim was always to try and transcend tragedy while remembering their old friend. Jon Brookes is given songwriting credits on the album, and his drums remained where they were in the studio, tuned exactly as he left them. Blunt is quick to credit Brookes for his input in the direction the band were taking from 2001 album, Wonderland. "Jon did start bringing in loops and things, trying to be that Man Machine." The three temporary Charlatans drummers - Pete Salisbury of The Verve, Stephen Morris of New Order and Gabriel Gurnsey of DFA's avant-disco group Factory Floor - had to turn up and record parts based on drum machine loops on Brookes' kit. "Gabe reckons he got a slap," says Mark. "Halfway through a take he stopped drumming because he felt a smack on the back of his head. Nobody is saying we believe in things from the other side, but...." The result is The Charlatans' most confident, effortless, light album for years. Mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead), its title comes from the avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman's diary collection, a copy of which fell on Burgess' head as he worked on solo material with psychedelic electronic folk group Grumbling Fur. First out of the traps is Talking In Tones, to come out as a limited edition 7" via The Quietus website's record label, which launched the career of East India Youth and earlier this year released Grumbling Fur's critically acclaimed third album. It builds out of wheezing, popping rhythms into a graceful, understated and strange pop song about telepathy in relationships, the title for which came to Burgess after a walk through the streets of London. In Modern Nature, The Charlatans have achieved that rare feat of making a gigantic step forward without losing what made them so special in the first place... and they're still looking toward the future too. Tim Burgess says that they're already itching to get started on a follow-up to Modern Nature: "The idea is to go and make another record quite quickly. It'd be great to do one while the feeling is so good," he says. And, as Tony Rogers promises: "the best is yet to come".
The Orb
Sunday 09/13
The Orb @ The Howard Theatre
$25 / $30
It started with a Joke, audacious dub science and some cassettes of New York radio's revolutionary master mixes of the late 70s-early 80s. Killing Joke marked Dr Alex Paterson's entry into the rock 'n' roll world, as both roadie and encore vocalist haranguing his way through the Stooges' 'No Fun' & ' bodies ', while golden age dub reggae and New York sound shifters such as Shep Pettibone and Tony Humphries fuelled his desire to take sound to realms only previously glimpsed in dreams. Apart from roadying for Killing Joke, Alex had formed a band called Bloodsport in 1980 with old [much-missed] pal Wally, and then was first vocalist in band called Heist in 1985. In 1987 Both living at the Coach House in Wandsworth, Alex and Joke bassist Youth were in the thick of the acid house revolution, starting their own W.A.U. [What About Us, Wheels Ashore Untangled, Wake And Untroubled] label to release the new sonic experiments orbiting their South London spaced station. Some of these spangled outings can be found on The Orb & Youth's Present Impossible Oddities: From The Underground To The Overground: The Story Of W.A.U. Mr Modo! [Year Zero]. The Orb was born on a warm, Sunday summer's afternoon in after original members Alex [then calling himself LX Dee] and Jimmy Cauty [Rockman] had driven back from a Shoom party in Brighton to Transcentral on Jeffrey's Road, SW4 (where Alex's brother Martin also came into the world.) Using an OBX and decks, the pair cooked up the idea for 'Lovin You' [aka 'A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld']. However, the first track to bear The Orb name was 'Walking On Sunshine', first track on the Eternity Project set released on W.A.U./Gee Street in 1989. Meanwhile, the orb played their first gig in Bath players in August, 1988. Driving down in jimmy's old American police car, causing quite a few heads to turn in town! After all the American police car was no 1 with the timelords! LX had always loved playing records and seeing people's reactions, even if it was to an audience of one. Alex commenced spinning at the earliest acid house clubs at spectrum, slam & transcentral, playing anything from Eno to dub, with no regard to musical boxes, on a mission to push the outer limits further out. Not just rearranging the sonic goal posts but painting them rainbow colours and dropkicking them into uncharted realms. Feb 1989 saw the first Orb EP - Kiss Your Love/Suck My Kiss/The Roof Is On Fire/Ambiora Mix [homaging the NYC radio station], followed by the monstrous 'A Huge Ever Growing...', which was also renavigated in a parallel dimension for John Peel's Radio One show in December. 1989. Between September, 1989 and March, 1990 the orb [sometimes joined by Youth] played the White Room at Land Of Oz at heaven, Charing Cross, London's premiere acid house night, lowering ravers into a warm bath of aural balm and diverse exotica. These epic sets could be seen as the initial gestation of The Orb as beat-less music was created using an eight-track board hooked up to three turntables, CD and cassette players with projections on screens to match. In 1989, The Orb remixed Fischerman's Friend [aka Sun Electric], West India Company's 'O Je Suis Seul', the newly-formed KLF's '3AM Eternal', Marathon's 'Future Perfect' and even Dave Stewart and Candy Dulfer's top tenner 'Lily Was Here', recording the Space album in Bottom, Cornwall [Tracks: 'Mercury', 'Venus', 'Mars', 'Donner & Blitz', 'Pluto Calling', 'Sat On Jupiter', 'Nep-Tuned']. Alex also compiled 'What Time Is Love 1' on KLF. 'Little Fluffy Clouds' was written and recorded at the Coach House that year, finished in 1990, after The Orb signed to Big Life and Jimmy left to do the KLF. 'A Huge...' was reissued with new mixes through Big Life, followed by 'Little Fluffy Clouds'. That year's Orb remixes included Delkom, Depeche Mode, Erasure, Jam On The Mutha, Marathon and Sun Electric. At the same time, Alex was holding down an A&R man position at EG Records, home of ambient music and otherworldly whoopee. By now, Alex was hatching the first Orb album, Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld, transplanting the wild invention of dub and Kiss FM mastermixes into the new vistas opened up by acid house, fuelled by his fevered imagination, interest in aliens and immersion in pioneering electronic music by the likes of Eno and White Noise. With Youth off on various projects, Kris 'Thrash' Weston stepped up to twiddle knobs and translate Alex's creative ejaculations. 'Little Fluffy Clouds' was a pumping new dub mutant, laced with harmonica & radio 4 plus Rickie Lee Jones expounding from a promo CD interview and glistening melodic stratas. Thomas Fehlmann is the longest-serving Orb satellite member, a legendary titan in the history of Berlin's electronic music scene. Born in Switzerland, he had relocated to Hamburg by the time he formed seminal outfit Palais Schaumburg with Holger Hiller in 1979, moving to Berlin in 1984. After splitting with Hiller, he concentrated on his home studio and sampler, releasing records as Ready Made and starting his Teutonic Beats label in 1988. Thomas also became a respected DJ … becoming a resident at Berlin's renowned Tresor club in the 90s. He also became a pivotal part of the Berlin-Detroit connection, forming the 3MB with Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald. Alex met Thomas in May, 1989 in his capacity as his A&R man at EG, when the latter was in London toting his latest set, 'Vorsprung Durch Musik'. Thomas was over with Sun Electric, Marathon and half of DAF, cementing the relationship by taking them to the spangled wonderment of Shoom. After the Orb remixed Sun Electric's 'O'locco', Thomas co-wrote 'Outlands', starting the telepathic studio relationship which continues to the present. LX was spinning at Berlin's Space club November 1989 the weekend the wall came down . & watched the collapse of the wall with Thomas & sun electric .. a moment in time! 'Back Side Of The Moon' and NASA-laced 'Supernova At The End Of The Universe' saw Alex collaborating with Steve Hillage and Miquette Giraudy, who'd recently started System 7, while the stratospheric skank of 'Perpetual Dawn' was written by veteran London sound system operator Eddie Maiden (R.IP). Alex has always been very loyal to his mates, many old Grove-Battersea lunatics still about in various capacities. Despite now playing bass for Pink Floyd, Guy Pratt played on the langorous 'Spanish Castles In Space'. The album sparked a new term called ambient house but was already striking way beyond such categories, into the Orb's own ultraworld. The original double album took the form of an epic space odyssey, starting with side one's three Earth Orbit tracks ['Little Fluffy Clouds', 'Earth [Gaia]', 'Supernova At The End Of the Universe'], followed by side two's Lunar Orbit ['Back Side of The Moon', ''Spanish Castles In Space'], side three's Ultraworld Probe ['Perpetual Dawn', 'Into The Fourth Dimension', 'Outlands'] and four's Ultraworld pair ['Star 6 & 7 8 9', 'A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From The Centre Of The Ultraworld']. Star 6 & 7 was written with long time friend Hugh Vickers aka huge knickers & tom green. While the April, 1991 launch for Ultraworld was held at a North London floatation centre, The Orb was turning into a formidable live experience, blitzing through album tracks and soon-to-be classics like 'Towers Of Dub', taking venues into a senses-blasting new orbit. This was still the spirit of punk rock, meaning rules were broken, there was attitude under the ambience and healthy regard for upsetting the nearest applecart, giving it the large salad atop a spangled middle finger. October saw Primal Scream's Screamadelica, on which The Orb produced the transcendental lift off of 'Higher Than The Sun'. The album gripped a nation keening down from the initial ecstasy flash. Alex DJed with Andrew Weatherall on the insane Screamadelica tour and, apart from having a blast, pumped some of this heavenly gas into the back passage of his own mental soundscapes. The only way was up. "I'm the first person to be amazed by the success of what's going on," said Alex. "It's not preconceived and we're not copying anyone else." The album would go on to make Melody Maker's top 30 1991 albums list, Spin's 90 Greatest Albums of The 90s list, number seven in Muzik magazine's Top 50 Dance Albums Of All Time and ranked at 45 in the NME writers' list of Greatest Albums of All Time.
W.H.A.T. Band Reunion Show
Sunday 09/20
W.H.A.T. Band Reunion Show @ The Howard Theatre
Free
The brain child of Gogo Legend Christian Black “Rapper Dude” also known as “Rah” formerly of Northeast Groovers, in Washington DC., the W.H.A.T. Band, an acronym for Washingtons Hottest And Talented, was formed in 2000 as a new musical venture to bring his iconic Gogo career into its next phase and seal his contribution to Gogo Music and his status as the most resilient and versatile Lead Talker in Gogo History. After a few phases of direction and membership, the artists and musicians that make up the WHAT Band (what fans now call WHAT Band 2.0) who had the fastest and most impactful meteoric rise from 2004-2012 were comprised of himself, Michelle Blackwell (Co-Manager/Vocalist/Rapper/Lead), Calvin Henry “Killa Cal”/Rapper, Stephon Green/ Vocalist, Michael Harris ”Duce 7”/Percussionist, Jermaine Chase “Rocket Rob”/Conga/RotoTom/Timbale Percussionist, Andrew Wilson “Chuckin’ Drew”/Lead Guitar Player, Rico Munson/Bass Guitar, Joel Sturdivant “Smokin’ Joe”/Drummer, David Cleveland/Keyboards and Vincent Watson “V-Man”/Keyboards. This innovative and creative staple in Gogo Music, W.H.A.T. Band, was known for having a sound and a party atmosphere that separated them from everything else going on within the Gogo Industry, from 3 sets per show, R&B/Crank/Bounce and Rock, W.H.A.T. Bands fans, aptly named “Crank Nation” came to expect a different standard of performance, song selections and diversity, and creativity in theme and delivery from their favorite band. With original songs like “Crystal Skate”“Rock and Roll Bounce Beat”, “Reminsice” ,“09 ”, “That’s my car” and “Carry Out Beat”, as well as classic remakes/covers of songs like “Irreplaceable”, “Hard in the Paint”, and “Drop it Low”, W.H.A.T Bands trendsetting aesthetic helped make them the hottest band in the DMV in the mid to late 2000’s. , landing them the WKYS Gogo Award for Best Female in 2007, The 2008 DC Music Gogo Award for Best Lead Talker, and Band of the Year, and the 2009 DC Music Gogo Award for Best Rapper. The members of this band have all decided, after popular demand to bring all the members, some who have gone on to other bands, moved to other states and/or started other projects, to come together for one night only to commemorate their accomplishments and party with their fans like they used to at the Classics, CFE, LaPearl, Safari Steakhouse, The Tradewinds, Legends and Club Elite on Sunday, September 20th Live at the Howard Theater from 10pm-2am.