The cute one off Supergrass (also, who knew, the drummer for a brief stint in Babyshambles) brings his very, very English brand of amped-up jangly pop sunshine and wry observational character songs to a west London pre-Christmas pissup. New album Shtick is crammed to the gills with fun tunes and danceable grooves – worth checking out, if only to remind yourself that ‘Britpop’ really isn’t such a dirty word.
18 Dec – Idler Christmas Party, Bush Hall, London
Blanck Mass X Black Midi
Two fun facts about Blanck Mass: a) the geezer behind it, Benjamin John Power, made his name as a founding member of a drone band, called Fuck Buttons. b) His tune ‘Sundowner’ was an integral park of the theme music for the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Big, fast, relentless beats, inspired by Carl Sagan and the cosmos. Sharing the stage tonight are the elusive Black Midi, famously ‘the best band in London’ and a ton of noisy, eerily fresh-faced clattering fun.
19 Dec – Bussey Building, Peckham, London
Another stonking year for the affable London combo, who this year perhaps more than ever (their credentials burnished with a Mercury Prize) proved they’re ready to join the pantheon of Proper Legit British Bands. Moreso, perhaps, than any other recent act out there, the four-piece strike that elusive balance between hotness, wokeness, cheerfulness and catchiness that is as appealing to the sweaty mosh kids as it is to centrist dad tapping his steering wheel to when they pop up on Radio 2.
18 Dec – 02 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
19 Dec – 02 Academy Brixton, London
20 Dec – 02 Academy Brixton, London
Comedy rock music is a tricky thing to make, and an even trickier thing to like. Surfbort – named for a tortuously weird meme, part sex position, part belligerently mis-heard Beyoncé lyric – deliver faux punk tongue-in-cheek rants about gender fluidity and veganism and celebrity and drugs through smeared makeup and hypnotically rotten teeth. Noisy, funny, trashy, loud and a whole heap of fun. And supporting Wolf Alice or headlining Shacklewell Arms.
19 Dec – 02 Academy Brixton, London
20 Dec – Shacklewell Arms, London
One of the last big bands are playing one of the last big albums, live in it’s entirety. Much of The Man Who is still a staple of MOR radio – ’Driftwood’, ‘Why Does It Always Rain On Me?’ etc etc – and Fran and the gang know just how to get their thirty-something core fans going, even with an acoustic-dominated suite of songs. Travis made their name by finding the sweet spot, as the less nerdy Ocean Colour Scene, and the less dickheadish Oasis. Opening tune ‘Writing To Reach You’ is an insanely lovely tune as well.
17 Dec – Theatre Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
18 Dec – City Hall, Hull
19 Dec – Apollo Theatre, Manchester
21 Dec – SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Boy Azooga frontman Davey Newington is a big wheel on the Welsh scene, in all sorts of ways. His folks were in the National Orchestra, where young Davey cut his teeth as a triangle player, and even his gramps played drums in the Royal Marines. Once a jazzer but also, in his day, holding down the beat for the Charlotte Church’s Late Night Dungeon covers band (no less). His own tune with this rabble, ’Face Behind Her Cigarette’, is a bona-fide funk belter and worth the live ticket price by itself, and this is their Christmas party so expect mulled-wine-fuelled frivolity and a smattering of seasonal asides.
21 Dec – YES (The Pink Room), Manchester
The Ninth Wave
Stylish Glaswegian upstarts with dual male-female vocals and bright, unashamedly popping 80s synths. Punk energy and intensity with a few coats of New Romantic gloss and a handy knack for danceable grooves. They’ve all been in a bunch of bands before, as is the Glasgow way, and a recent spell in the studio with Pixies knob-twiddler Dan Austin has done loads to polish the finished product. Singalong without being glib; artsy without being twattish. Well worth a punt.
21 Dec – St. Luke’s, Glasgow
Yet more polished art-punk from Glasgow. Don’t let the strobe-laden live show distract you from the sheer quantity of bangers these lads have in the arsenal. Tried-and-trusted grunge arrangements set off ‘California Sun’ while furious eighth-note clashes propel ‘Friend’ along with an enfilade of hi-hats and big euphoric harmonies. And just pray they play ‘Human’, the bastard spawn of RATM and Franz Ferdinand. They deserve to be much, much bigger.
22 Dec – SWG3, Glasgow