Tall Ships-Press shots 29-05-11

Tall Ships


A few years back, I had the pleasure of seeing Tall Ships play to a packed out crowd at Soup Kitchen, as part of the annual Carefully Planned Festival. I’ve been a big fan of Tall Ships for a while now, so I was delighted to hear they were coming back to Manchester, even more so that they would be playing that very same venue. Back then, they were closing the weekend of a great festival. Tonight they’re going off their own steam, playing tracks off their upcoming sophomore record.

Manchester based Trojan Horse are the first support, starting things off early with flannel shirts and pure Queens Of The Stone Age-esque sleazy riffs. Tonight’s show is celebrating the release of their new record World Turned Upside Down, and we’re given the pleasure of hearing some tracks from the record. Their set is almost like an odyssey, and the new tracks sound great. The set ends with the damn near mental breakdown of the bassist, who I’m reliably informed does this sort of thing at most shows. If they were headlining and it was anywhere but Soup Kitchen, this would have been a really cool spectacle but as it stands, it just looked really forced. A shame really, as Trojan Horse are a top band.

Second support These Ghosts are a tricky one for me. The moment the Southern three piece walk on stage, I’m not feeling it, purely from an aesthetic point of view. The bass player is so brooding and mysterious that it’s like he’s stepped right off the set of 90210 (or whatever the 2014 equivalent is), the vocalist is wearing his Dad’s shirt, and the whole deal is far too hipster for my liking. However, they’re only young by the looks of it and the market they’re going for wear the same sort of stuff, so it’s not a real issue for them. Musically, These Ghosts are pretty good – if a bit samey. Just closing your eyes and listening to the music is ideal, and if you focused on doing that during their set you’d be quids in. If you’re not a shallow fucker like me…I’m sure if I was in a better frame of mind for it, I would have been able to take a lot more from their performance. They’re certainly a band I would check out again down the road, and they were perfect support for the new direction Tall Ships. I can easily see them being massive.

“Tall Ships? How Tall are you, mate?” asks the cretin in front of me as Tall Ships arrive on stage. Quite possibly the worst thing I‘ve ever heard at a gig. Why is it always the unfunny pricks who feel the need to speak up? Luckily for us, he keeps up this routine throughout the night and ends up acting like a grade A spenk throughout their set.
Look, I’m not a prude – I know it’s a gig. I know people like to let loose and have fun during a show, and all power to them. But this geezer and his lass with the biggest handbag I’ve ever seen (at a gig! What could she possibly need in that giant sack of hers?) did my fucking head in throughout. I hope I don’t act like that when I’m going to gigs in my late 30’s…Anyway, back to the show.

The usual opener of ‘T=0’ is replaced with a new track, as this small run of dates they’re currently on are warm up shows to road test their new material. Tall Ships are back in the studio recording the follow up to 2012’s Everything Touching, their blinding debut LP. The main aim of these shows is to showcase the new material and play some old stuff too – sorted. It’s a real soft, quiet opener; with front man Ric gently singing the intro much like in ‘Ode To Ancestors’. Unfortunately, nearly everyone in the crowd talks throughout this part and so it’s hard to really get a feel for it. This would prove the theme throughout their set, certainly with the people who were in spitting distance. In terms of the rest of the new material, it gets the crowd going and people seem appreciative, but it doesn’t particularly grip me.

An up tempo, thrashy tune toward the end of the set is the standout and gives good hope for the rest of the record. The tracks from ‘Everything Touching’ and their second EP are my main highlights, and we finally get to hear ‘T=0” later on in the set, alongside ‘Plate Tectonics’, ‘Gallop’ and a handful of others. This is where they excel for me, and it’s great to hear these tunes. But I do fear that we’ll not be hearing ‘Hit The Floor’ for a long while…

Out of all the new tracks tonight, only one of them properly grips me. Obviously they sound best in their older material, owing to playing these tracks almost constantly for three years. But that is the nature of their current four date tour – to road test these new songs. I’m hoping with more live shows and the impending release of the new record, my excitement will pick back up for Tall Ships. They’re still a great band, and whilst the direction they’re currently heading in isn’t necessarily grabbing my attention now, I’m confident that a few months down the line I’ll be firmly back on the Tall Ships hype.

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Andy Hughes

Hi, I'm Andy.I'm the man behind Birthday Cake for Breakfast, a site featuring music news, reviews and interviews.Big believer in Birthday Cake, Pizza, math rock and beer (preferably all in one sitting.) I spend my mornings daydreaming about gigs and my evenings going to gigs. Lunch times are spent walking about town listening to Tom Waits.'Id rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy'