Tag Archives: Zebedee’s Yard

Human League: Zebedee’s Yard, Hull – live review

Eighties night in Zebedee’s Yard in Hull, the pop up venue that plays host to Inner City Live, whose three night residency, this time round featuring Doves and Scouting For Girls makes them more and more like a proper urban festival with every year that passes. 

It’s certainly a great place to hold a gig, a car park most of the time, surrounded by the rear facades of Victorian and Georgian warehouses, it’s a tight squeeze but it creates a little bit of magic and performers seem to love it. Watching the Flaming lips fill the space with Inflatable unicorns, hamster balls and giant balloons a couple of years ago remains one of the happiest gig going memories I have.

Blancmange 002

Opening up were Blancmange, and I’d never realised until tonight just how much I like them. The departure of Stephen Luscombe means that Neil Arthur has taken the Blancmange title on single handedly and with the assistance of session players, and he was in great form on the night, revealing levels of darkness and complexity in songs that I had long ago filed away in the bubblegum synth drawer.

Blancmange 004

Although the hits, like The Day Before You Came and Living On The Ceiling, get big welcomes many of the highlights of the show are drawn from recent albums. Since Luscombe left for the second time in 2011 Arthur has issued a new album most years and while few have troubled the charts they are full of excellent tracks, darkly brooding and intense and filled with unsettling lyricism. Check out Last Night I Dreamed I Had A Job from 2016s Commuter 23, possibly the best song ever written about stacking cardboard boxes, or the question and no answer puzzlement of What’s the Time for great little pop songs you missed first time around. And what is the best dog you ever owned?

Blancmange 012

The Human League are enjoying a renaissance at present, with their name being checked by the likes of everyone from Madonna to Moby, Pet Shop Boys to Robbie Williams. Now the dubstep generation – notably, the acclaimed Darkstar, who cover the League’s 1982 B-side ‘You Remind Me Of Gold’ on their current album, North – have begun to pay homage to the original sound of Sheffield. La Roux and Little Boots are fans too.

The Human League 003

Back in their early heyday David Bowie called them the sound of the future. Maybe this is when he meant.

 Last time I saw them was at the Bingley Festival four or five years ago and it was quite a subdued affair, but tonight Phil was full of energy, running around the stage between Joanne Catherall and Susan Sulley and climbing the scenery to strike poses with the band. Their set took in the expected hits, including Mirror Man and Don’t You Want Me before closing with the Oakey/Moroda classic Together In Electric Dreams.

The Human League 002

Fantastic stuff and a great night and although that’s the end of this years Zebedee’s Yard shows the promoters have a lot of excellent gigs on the way including the likes of Lee Scratch Perry and Gary Numan.  

The Human League 007

 

 

The Flaming Lips: Zebedee’s Yard, Hull – live review

Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips
Zebedee’s Yard , Hull
25th May 2017

Hull’s newest music venue is Zebedee’s Yard, close to the quayside. a car park by day, hemmed in by the backs of Victorian warehouses and office buildings. It might sound unglamorous but in practice it works just great, and while it’s probably destined to be a one summer only thing for the City of Culture celebrations it would be nice if it could continue to be used for the future because the city needs an pop up venue like this.

It certainly makes a great and slightly disorientating backdrop for The Flaming Lips,a band for whom great and slightly disorientating are the rule rather than the exception and they give us a show that certainly makes it into my top ten ever, an explosion of music, colour and joy whose psychedelia is only enhanced by the venue’s anachronistic red brick bowl.

IMG_7132

Everybody’s favourite young fogeys, Public Service Broadcasting, are the main support, equipped with tech and traditional instruments in equal measure and dressed as if they knew the yard’s buildings when they were young.

It’s the first time I’ve seen them live and I’ll admit to sometimes harbouring grave suspicions about bands that play computers on stage. I’ve vented them in QRO reviews on occasion, so I’m ashamed to admit that I have relatively low expectations of PSB. In my defence I’ll just say that it takes about fifteen seconds to realise that they aren’t what I’m expecting at all. No crouching over the decks gesticulating like they’re communicating in some sort of sign language for the constipated. No dancing on tables. None of the shouting “Come on Hull make some fucking noise” which usually passes for literacy for players of the Apple Mac and related instruments.

Their complex weaving of live music and samples is completely thrilling and even if I’m not dancing, (which puts me very much in the minority), I am completely mesmerised. No good asking me about the first few songs because I’m busy with cameras but I spend the rest of the set getting my head round their sound, which takes some time.

IMG_7322

It’s not until The Other Side, which deploys samples from the Apollo 8 mission, that I start to pick the threads from the complexity sufficiently to understand what’s going on. It’s a great track with the tension rising throughout,like a hundred heartbeats woven into one until it reaches a massive crescendo.

Favourite tracks are hard to call because it still all felt very new but Everest, which closes the set, is incredible and when Public Service Broadcasting leave the stage I have a new favourite band.

And then we’re all set for the main event. As a prequel nets filled with huge balloons are manoeuvred into the gangway at the side of the stage but so bijou is Zebedee’s Yard the crew are unable to get them past the scaffold structure. After several minutes of effort, filled with the sound of popping rubber, they give up and the balloons are distributed to the crowd by way of a human chain. It’s an impressive piece of work.

IMG_7447

It’s my first live encounter with The Flaming Lips, a band whose shows have achieved legendary status. The previous night they were at Glastonbury, closing things up on the Park Stage. Tonight it’s a car park in Hull. It might seem like a bit of a come down but you have to remember that this year Hull is the official UK city of real, proper culture, and Glastonbury is, as ever, the home of middle class beardy weirdy wannabe culture.

It’s difficult to know how to approach a Flaming Lips review. If you’ve seen them before you won’t need a description. If you haven’t then you probably won’t believe me.

The balloons having been pretty much eliminated by the end of Race For The Prize, Wayne Coyne, dressed in crimson velvet, is joined on stage by several large inflatable manga characters for a glorious Yoshimi. For the first time ever I miss loads of shots because I am too busy singing along. When There Should Be Unicorns trots in Coyne rides a ten foot luminous equine monocerous into the crowd. It’s a dangerous thing to attempt and the only safety gear with which he is equipped are some inflatable rainbow wings and a pair of fluffy green crocodile feet. If it all sounds a bit predictable then all I can do is promise you that it’s great. The unicorn completes a full circuit of Zebedee’s Yard and Coyne dismounts.

After that it all gets a bit weird.

IMG_7363

The hamster ball comes out for a strangely poignant Space Oddity and there’s a giant rainbow, more confetti cannons than you can shake a stick at, and a large inflatable Fuck Yeah Hull sign which has a much more pleasing symmetry than the previous night’s bottom heavy Fuck Yeah Glastonbury.

What’s most important though is that at no point in the whole bizarre process does the quality of the performance ever slip below fantastic. There may be a lot of nonsense in the air but it isn’t allowed to compromise the music.

The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song is a huge singalong and Coyne seems pleasantly surprised at how many people are able to join in with verses as well as chorus. The show winds up with a storming She Don’t Use Jelly and a tender and lovely Beatles tinged Do You Realize, which has the crowd singing as they leave.