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Saturday, 15 September 2012

Finding Albert/One Last Secret/Little Fire - Nice and Sleazy - 14/9/12 (Glasgow)

Every city has a legendary music bar.
Or did have.
Over the last few years many have fallen in the war involving the coffee shop franchise and the state of the art glass bedecked office block.
Progress apparently marches on in its all consuming effort to tear individuality out of our cities, and most of us can see that with one failed battle after another the war is being lost.
However hanging in there defiantly is Nice and Sleazy in Glasgow.
It's a bit grotty, it's a bit sad looking, but hey, that's what it's supposed to look like.
If a venue doesn't carry the battle scars of a thousand plus gigs then it's hasn't really earned its spurs.
Sleazy's has though, and God bless them for fighting the good fight.

It downstairs in the bowels of the bar that I find myself tonight.
The main draw is Finding Albert who suitably impressed at the Wickerman festival, and who I've been keen to have a second bite at.
Before them they have management mates 'One Last Secret' playing in support and a personal friend of my own who goes by the name of Little Fire.

He's up first, and while his approach to the gig is as professional as I would expect my heart could break for him.
It's pretty much glaringly obvious that the early birds in attendance aren't really into the spirit of the night.
None of this is a reflection on his talents, but it must be soul crushingly difficult to try and connect with an audience who are feeling the magnetic draw of the bar and would rather go along with it than give five minutes of their time to an artist.
It's the worst aspect of opening up a gig.
I've lost count of the times I have seen acts who deserve to be headlining their own gigs struggling to maintain any sort of attention from an audience who are only interested in one act on the bill.
It's not just in club sized venues this happens either.
Goldhawks (where are they now) who supported The Courteeners in the 02 Academy played a set that blew me away in front of a crowd of thousands who stood chatting loudly to each other with some occasionally casting a solitary glance in their direction as they rocked out.
Similarly Little Fire played an exceptionally entertaining set that rally did deserve far more attention that it got.
If the effort to promote passion and soul in a song was rewarded financially then he would be a rich man.
It's possible that I have seen Little Fire perform more than any other artist in the last three years, and I've yet to feel that nudge of familiarity breeding an sort of contempt.
His ability to shade his own original material by changing the tempo, or the inflection of how he delivers the lyrics, maintains a great deal of freshness to each performance.
'Ten ways' in particular sounded very fresh due to the slightly different approach.
The addition of a few new songs that I've personally never heard before was for me the stereotypical icing on the cake of the performance.
In short it was another excellent set that served to confirm that Little Fire is going somewhere, even if others haven't picked up on that yet.

Unfortunately One Last Secret, who had a solid following of friends and family in attendance, dropped the ball for me.
There's a great deal of talent involved in the band.
In fact I couldn't negatively comment on their musicianship or how they presented themselves.
It's more a personal taste thing on my part
I guess just didn't feel a connection with the material, and when I moved towards wrapping my head around one song they would jump to the next with that then having little to do with the last.
I felt ultimately dissatisfied by being wrong footed each time they moved from one song in their set to the next.
This is really where my lack of enthusiasm for the band comes from.
There's no musical thread to them that I could hang onto.
While every song is played well they are each rooted musically in a different genre, and while I would celebrate eclecticism in a bands material I would still say that there has to be something of them weaving its way through all the songs.
A good band who who I really can't get a handle on.

Finding Albert are undoubtedly the stars of the night.
From the moment that the band kick their set off it's very obvious that this is a stadium act in the making.
A band who are just killing time on the small stage of Sleazy's until the rest of the world catch up to how good they are.
Their slot on the main stage at the Wickerman festival was very obviously well earned and it would be a shock to my system if they didn't progress to the point of being a household name.
Finding Albert could be the band who follow on from Biffy Clyro into the major leagues.
Yes. I did just say that.
While there are plenty of fantastic bands playing every single week all over Scotland, and many of them deserve to grab themselves some success, it's also true that of them all there are the crème who have that extra something.
That something that screams that stardom beckons.
This doesn't mean that it is guaranteed, but if they do make the leap the band will certainly have no problem in delivering what is required to grab some solid attention and keep it.
Even when they are one man down, as they were during this performance, four fifths of them still manage to display enough talent to impress even the most jaded music fan.
They are the well oiled music machine that just keeps giving.
Intuitively linked to each other to the point that they live and breath their material the set verges on being flawless, but not that shiny clean flawlessness that lacks passion, but instead flawless in that they do cover every base including that of having some fire in their belly.
It's difficult to express what I mean because I keep wanting to name bands like Muse and Coldplay to illustrate their stadium credentials, but at the same time I can appreciate that for everyone who would be impressed with drawing that comparisons there would be those who would consider it a turn off.
So how about I say that if Coldplay and Muse lost all the attributes that draw a degree of loathing from people - that annoyance factor - then what you would have is Finding Albert.

As they neared the end of their performance it was becoming apparent that even those who hadn't initially came to the gig to see them had been won over, and virtually everyone was keen to freely show their appreciation with calls for an encore.
With there set list plundered it was an impromptu version of Blurs 'Charmless Man' that would finish the night, and finish it on a high.

Finding Albert have certainly got my seal of approval.
(Kelly Conway)


  1. Disagree about One Last Secret. A brilliant band with brilliant songs.

  2. So what bit do you disagree with?

    This bit.
    'There's a great deal of talent involved in the band.,
    'In fact I couldn't negatively comment on their musicianship or how they presented themselves.'
    ,A good band who who I really can't get a handle on.'

    The review clearly states that the band are talented musicians and explains why in the reviewers opinion they didn't click with her.
    Nowhere does it say that they lack talent or in fact that they are not a good band.

    Elsewhere it has been claimed that they were slated.
    Far from it as anyone who cares to read the review can see for themselves that this was not an assassination on the band.
    Instead it's an opinion expressed. A clearer opinion expressed than I have often seen elsewhere.

  3. "Unfortunately One Little Secret" thats clearly a dig at the band since there actual name is "One Last Secret"!!!

    "who had a solid following of friends and family in attendance" another dig since there was also a great deal of fans of One Last Secret at the gig too even though this statement from the reviewer has tried to make out the band only bring their pals to the gigs.

    Might not have been the reviewers cup of tea but there is a way it couldve been put to not come across as cheeky or biased in her opinion.

  4. I don't normally up anonymous posts, but I'll make an exception here.

    I made a mistake in the name.
    There's no dig involved, no Freudian slip.
    It's simply a mistake, but if you want to perceive it as a dig then I doubt that anything I will say will alter your opinion.
    The comment about the band having a following of family and friends with them isn't a dig either.
    Every band when they are playing at this level does their best to bring everyone they know to a gig.
    A good turn out ensures they get invited back for future gigs by either the promoter or the venue.
    Your comment that the reviewer tried to make something out of that is once again your interpretation of what has been written.
    Neither is the review cheeky or biased.
    That you like the band is great.
    I'm sure they appreciate your passionate views, but a bit of balance will go along way.

    PS. You can state a name when posting.

  5. Just thought that I should add that a couple of times people have been rather upset about reviews on the blog.
    Not because they have been a bad review, but instead because they don't go the whole hog and shower their favorite band with the praise the poster considers they deserve.

    Each time that this has happened then others read the review, fail to see what the issue and consider that the passionate comment has done little more than reflect poorly on the band.

    So why not focus on the positives in the review where it clearly states that they are a talented band and accept what is actually said rather that what is perceived to have been written.

  6. Nothing wrong with the review.
    I am in a band and I would be glad of the mention. I wouldnt take someone saying that we are good musicians, but they didnt get it as a dig.

    I read this online and my band stick by it.

  7. I know, you don't want to hear this, but it's important - you are going to get a bad review. If you're a musician, sometimes, someone is going to knock you for a loop in print after they listen to your stuff. If you are a label, sometimes, someone is going to rip your latest release to shreds. It ain't pretty, but it is part of the game. The important part isn't getting the bad review - it is what you do after you read it. Here's what to do when one of those less than flattering pieces of press comes your way.

    Calm Down

    No, seriously - DON'T FREAK OUT. Bad reviews run from the lukewarm to the downright mean, and they are never easy to swallow - but they aren't the end of the world. Bad reviews are part of earning your music industry stripes, and everyone gets them. A bad review doesn't mean you shouldn't be making music or releasing music, and it doesn't mean that everyone hates your music. It means one person didn't get it. You're doing this for the people who DO get it, not the ones who don't.

    Grab a coffee - or something stronger - talk to some friends who you know will give you a pep talk, take a day off - do whatever you have to do get a little space and put the review in perspective.

    Separate Fact from Opinion

    Once you have had some time to let the initial sting die down, check out the review again. What is fact and what is opinion? Sometimes, reviews have little nuggets of constructive criticism in them that can help you learn. If the review says, "I hate all of these songs!," well, that's an opinion that you can't do much about. If the review says, "the recording is muddy, the song titles are misspelled and it didn't even come with a press release," well, those are a few things you can maybe do something about. If there IS something to learn - by all means, learn it.

    If there isn't? Forget about it. You can't tailor your music to everyone's specific tastes.

    Pow-Wow with Your Team

    If you have a PR company, label or manager (or if you are a PR company, label or manager), you will usually want to discuss a bad review with all relevant parties (note: the person who delivered the bad review is NOT a relevant party). Did anyone have any inkling that this review was going to be a drag? If there were any of those, "eh, fair enough," kind of points in the review, what is everyone going to do fix them in the future? Any confirmed good reviews coming down the pike? In the case of a bad review in a major outlet, can you do a little damage control by, say, seeking a flattering interview in another outlet or running an ad campaign that quotes some good press from other publications?

    You can't exactly take back a bad review after it is out there, but you CAN do things like place it in perspective and get proactive about the future.

    Calm Down

    Well, it is worth repeating.


  8. Don't......

    Lash out at the reviewer. Even if their review was really bad and really unfair. Even if you know they just gave you a bad review because of bad blood between you. Even if you are just so, so mad that lashing out at them seems like it is the only thing that will make you feel better. It's so unprofessional and it's not worth getting that kind of rep. If you're a label looking to avenge one of your artists, this goes double for you.


    Remember that plenty of albums that are highly regarded and that sold well received bad reviews.


    Ask for a second chance when appropriate. If the complaints in your review are not specifically about your music but about things like recording or something else you can fix, don't cross that reviewer off your list. You won't get a second review for the same release, but if you are playing in town, offer the reviewer a guest list spot to see if you can win them over. If you aren't playing with anywhere near them, still send them your next release - especially if you have taken their criticism on board and made some changes. If you surprise them and they love your music, you can count on a glowing review.

  9. In my rush to post I didnt make much sense.
    I wouldnt take someone saying we are good musicians in a review as a dig.
    Thats what I was trying to say. Soz

  10. Ha. Brilliant huge post, and yes I agree with the advice you found on the internet.

    I was looking for one that I read recently where a band completely won a reviewer over as they just took a really harsh write up on the chin and rolled with it.
    It ended up that the reviewer then had a great deal of respect for them.

  11. Hi all, I am the manager of the band and also manage Finding Albert - One last secret are a cracking band and always deliver a great live performance especially as a band who have only just started out and delighted the reviewer pointed all those aspects out. The band are very hard working and are taking all of this on board- naturally every band starting out is constantly working to establish their sound and will try everything out to see what works with live audiences and myself and the band are chuffed their performance was reviewed and are always looking for ways to improve. Equally chuffed that fans of theirs are so passionate about the band. It is actually refreshing to get a review that not only points out the bands strengths but also points out what could be tweaked to make them a much better band - would rather people talked about the band than not at all - this isn't a bad review by any means and refreshingly honest - thanks Miles

  12. Thanks Miles.
    Sometimes people come to the blog and read a review and it doesn't suit them.
    Very often they're not the type to read the music press or music blogs.
    They are only popping in to see what is being said about their mates band.
    What they don't seem to appreciate is that if I reviewed it then it would be a different review.
    In fact every single person who was there that night will have a personal view and they will range from hating aspects to loving aspects.
    I may have enjoyed the band more than Kelly did, or not as the case may be.
    Even if I didn't it would have nothing to do with what I would write if I seen them a second and third time, or what a review on a studio release would say.
    Every review is as individual as the performance.
    Even if it was a bad review that wouldn't mean any subsequent ones would be is my point.