Tag Archives: Little Comets

Little Comets, Eliza and the Bear at Saint Luke’s, 16/2/17

There’s something very special about going to see a band who you’ve seen play live many times, knowing that with each gig they bring a new refinement to their sound while paying their dues to dedicated fans.

The queue for Saint Luke’s is right out the door and fans are already jostling to the front from the start of Eliza and the Bear’s supporting set.

The London-based quintet offer an energetic stream of power pop (think Coasts and Saint Raymond), winning the crowd with handclaps, smiles and euphoric riffs, closing on ‘Friends’, which garners a respectable singalong.

Eliza and the Bear are no great indie innovators, but what they do is solid and fun and clearly a hit with tonight’s younger audience; definitely ones to watch for this year’s festival circuit.

Little Comets arrive to play a jam-packed set of new songs delivered in-between favourites from their burgeoning back catalogue.

A couple tracks in, lead singer Rob Coles announces that tonight’s gig almost didn’t happen; his brother Mickey (the band’s lead guitarist) found himself a father two weeks earlier than planned.

As a result, a mysterious hero called Reuben stepped in and learned the entire set in a day, allowing the band to maintain their trademark tightness throughout.

The set opens with ‘A Little Opus’ from sophomore album, Life is Elsewhere; like many Little Comets songs, it combines lush, shimmery guitar licks, bright percussion and bouncy drums with sharply witty and politically-fringed lyrics about privileged kids and the old boys’ network.

Since they aren’t a band to deliver an ideology through ranting stage chat, the lyrics speak for themselves and unlike most of their musical peers, Little Comets tackle issues beyond the usual indie theme of heartache: misogyny, social inequality, political corruption and poverty are condemned with a twist of rhyming wit; while fatherhood, love and relationships are explored in a way that avoids cliché and feels fresh, endearing and slightly eccentric: “she goes to Boots, I go to Argos / complete with deceit, we stalk each aisle”.

‘Isles’ gets a rare outing on the set-list, perhaps because its vision of a bleak, small-minded Britain has just as much credence now in post-Brexit times as it did back in the recession days of 2011 when the song was released.

Regardless of the politics, such tracks are carried off successfully with both musical precision and a commitment to quotidian themes.

Little Comets have clearly matured from their on-stage pots’n’pans, kitchen sink indie days, and while I miss the quirky percussion, the new maturity in their song-writing isn’t at the expense of the band’s uniquely lyrical vision of everyday Britain.

The tracks from upcoming release Worhead are sprinkled throughout the set, giving the audience a chance to digest them in-between familiar numbers; ‘Hunting’, ‘Louise’, and ‘Common Things’ in particular stand out as gems from the new album.

These fresh songs focus on tender vocals and catchy refrains, preceding or mixed alongside heavier, experimental riffs and crunchy bass; allowing for exciting, multi-guitar solos that prove the band’s passion for musical deftness while never seeming cheesy or too rock’n’roll.

At times there is a slight sense of disconnect which seems to come largely from a younger crowd not paying attention, but the band quickly regain the room’s focus with lively favourites such as ‘Adultery’, ‘Jennifer’ and ‘Worry’, and after every song the reaction is strongly positive, met with fist-pumps and singalongs.

‘The Blur, the Line, and the Thickest of Onions’ shines out as always; a song that makes a sly dig at mainstream pop’s misogyny while crafting something beautiful and minimalistic around sombre chords and Coles’ hypnotic vocal gymnastics.

Perhaps due to Mickey’s absence, there are less lingering vocal harmonies tonight than in previous live shows; however, this positively intensifies their appearance here, where the soaring notes spread an electric shiver across the room.

Ever keen to reject the aura of performative cool, Coles tells the audience that he prefers not to do encores since he sees himself as someone who simply writes songs, not a rock-star; in typical Glasgow fashion, the crowd lay it on thick with brushes of local colour, as one over-eager fan bellows I’LL SHAG YE! mid-speech – Coles looks bemused but also frustrated that he isn’t being taken seriously, and it’s a reminder of his refreshing earnestness.

Later, while some of the young fans trickle out to catch lifts home, the audience quietens down respectfully as Coles delivers an emotional, vocally-nuanced ‘Woman, Woman’ alone onstage before the band re-join to fire through ‘Bridge Burn’, a new song and crowd-pleasing closer, ‘Dancing Song’ which has a healthy chunk of fans moshing down the front.

For a band who proclaim “language is dead” at the start of one of their most popular songs (‘One Night in October’), Little Comets write lyrics which are intelligent, poetic and very much alive; as my friend says at the gig, they’re a band who make you want to look things up in the dictionary, and yet this never feels pretentious or contrived but somehow necessary, an attention to detail you struggle to see in much copycat indie.

This attention to detail applies not just to the lyrics and Coles’ handwriting, whose distinct curls adorn instruments and album covers alike, but to the music too and tonight is no exception; Little Comets leave the crowd energised, keen for the new album and hopefully a little more educated.

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Words: Maria Sledmere

Little Comets, Model Aeroplanes at Tut’s, 2/3/15

Two of the most buzz-worthy bands of the last few years, The 1975 and Catfish and The Bottlemen, both supported Little Comets in the run up to each of their explosions into the mainstream and that is something that tonight’s support, Model Aeroplanes would no doubt be happy to emulate.

The fact that about a million other young guys their age are in very similar bands right now doesn’t hinder them, in fact it seems to highlight how much tighter they are than the majority.

The bass and drums pulse together lushly, and the lead guitar is a tropical sounding weapon.

After a while though, it feels like they would really benefit from a bit more variety in their songwriting as the pace doesn’t really change and the set blends itself into an inseparable meld of tunes, which sound a bit too much like one another.

There is still a massively impressive aspect to Model Aeroplanes however, and in terms of tightness and live production I’d go as far to say that they rival Little Comets.

‘The Gift of Sound’ opens the set for tonight’s headliners, a track from the new album, which is punctuated by syncopated rhythms and the band’s typical penchant for crafting complicated songs that sound simple and absurdly catchy.

Little Comets perform with a level of professionalism that allows their humble, “just normal guys” attitude to sit comfortably beside musical intelligence and their unique capabilities as songwriters, in a manner that bounces these traits very positively off each other.

‘A Little Opus’ receives the first crowd participation of the night, with one section shouting the guitar melody, something that has apparently never happened before.

This song is a solid showing of Little Comets’ instrumental abilities and in the latter half of the song rhythms slide over one another seamlessly, but in a way that I just can’t figure out how to explain properly.

If you get the chance, look up the lyrics to ‘Violence Out Tonight’ while listening to the song.

This evening it provides a melancholy, yet powerful lull and is one of the highlights of the set, alongside new song ‘My Boy William’, which features a backing track bridge of (what I assume) is a recording of Coles’ young boy saying cute toddler things.

It seems the sing-along factor of their straight-up-indie first album is going to be the most popular thing about tonight’s set, as the crowd loses it when ‘Joanna’, ‘One Night In October’ and ‘Dancing Song’ are played.

Maybe a lot of their fans have a nostalgic love for this album, but with each new release, Little Comets have grown and some of the new songs don’t get the level of adoration that they deserve.

In fleeting moments, frontman Rob Coles even looks mildly dejected by the constant shouts for songs from their first album.

They finish up the set with second album track ‘In Blue Music We Trust’, which has been modified to be more intense for live purposes, with flashing strobe lights and a climax that bursts the seams of what to expect from the Newcastle band.

Overall, what Little Comets present is clever without any hint of pretention, and admirably encouraging to younger bands and fans alike.

Instead of indulging in an encore, they immediately move to their merch table to engage with the crowd on ground level for one final example of how independent bands can succeed by treating their fans with a personable quality.

Words: Greg Murray
Photos: Robert Adam

Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival, 8/8/14

Belladrum Tartan Heart is truly a family friendly festival, when most festivals advertise as such what they really mean is “if you can’t find a babysitter you can drag ‘em here and we can definitely maybe pretty much guarantee there’ll be no stabbing”.

At Belladrum, the tot to teen ratio is on actually on an even keel, the kids are as happy as the pensioners are pished, everyone, yes everyone, is having a good time.

As the years have gone by the family campsite has ballooned, with folk from dads to dealers proclaiming it “the new general”, The general campsite has remained much the same: good size, good craic, good messy mess.

It’s this mixed demographic that makes Belladrum about more than the music, in 2014 Belladrum is somewhere between a cultural showcase, a foodie festival and a boutique weekend, there are mussels, there are muscles and I shit you not there are hot tubs.

The music, of course, remains important, the festival provides the very first stage for some local acts to play on, it’ll be the first time some of the crowd will get to experience seeing emerging bands from bigger-city ‘scenes’, it’s one of the few festivals that acknowledges traditional can be rock ‘n’ roll, with good slots given to the Electric Ceilidh Band and Capercaillie.

This year, for most, it was all about one man… Tom Jones, it was a wonderful booking from the festival that turned the owls to early birds; the tickets sold out almost immediately, however, there was a general feeling that the line-up was sparser than year’s past, considering the RockNess’ absence from the Highland summer and that many acts play for free, there was a feeling that ‘bigger’ acts could have been booked.

Throughout the weekend, amid laughing at people fall on the roller disco and getting dangerously close to fire theatre group Pyroceltica, I see some great things and speak to others about their favourite festival moments.

Friday starts early on the Free Range Folk Stage with some fresh talent courtesy of Culloden acoustic songstress Ruth Gillies, “she did brilliantly – she’s only 17” says audience member Alison “… she did some covers, which was fun, but I really liked ‘3 Day Summer’ which she wrote herself!”

Representing Subcity radio and getting the Mother’s Ruin dilapidated dance bothy warmed up is Salad Days (Michael Pellegrotti), he plays a well-received house set with some Bill Withers and Tori Amos thrown in for surprise.

Dropping in Tim Deluxe’s ‘It Just Won’t Do’ definitely provides most people’s first bounce of the weekend and as he finishes up and another DJ begins, Salad Days’ soulful choices are clearly missed – the average audience age significantly lowers as the tempo is quite suddenly raised.

On the Mainstage, much to the crowd’s delight, Fatherson have arrived, there has been some lineup jiggery-pokery (to be explained later) and they are here to save the day – as quick as a (Grandmaster) flash they were lapped up as a ‘surprise act’ at Brew at the Bog festival a few miles and months away and they suit being brought out of the blue today too.

Fan Andrew says “I’ve seen them before, didn’t expect them today, they’re such crowd pleasers,” he continues “it was nice to hear ‘Not Knowing’ and they finished with ‘James’”.

Next, Frightened Rabbit are met with expected hysteria, the band are ever popular at Belladrum and don’t disappoint playing more songs that are off the beaten track this year, perhaps after realising last year that the Belladrum audience will be receptive to any and all of their catalogue.

“‘Oil Slick’ and ‘Square 9’” were my highlights, say Mark “…and watching FRabbit raise a YES flag to ‘Scottish Winds’ was a pretty big moment,” Frightened Rabbit weren’t the only ones defying BBC and festival wishes by bringing up the referendum, Billy Bragg did the same (at, you could say, more length and less impact) on Saturday afternoon.

Over in the Hothouse tent Little Comets play to a small but enthusiastic crowd, they play a lively indie Kooks-esque set with punchy ‘One Night in October’ rousing few shouts.

And here he comes Tommy J, The seventy odd sex bomb swaggers onstage looking suave and serene, it’s only as he plays that you realise just how many hits the legend has, he stands in front of a typically Tom backdrop of sexy lady silhouettes being licked by flames and stomps through some 90s era hits that my generation (I had his Reload album, ruddy loved it) roar along to.

‘Sex Bomb’ is an obvious favourite, ‘Mama Told Me Not to Come’ and ‘Burning Down the House’ bring memories surging back and the audience love it, his newer songs create an understandable downtime but the magic of ‘Delilah’, ‘It’s Not Unusual’ and ‘What’s New Pussycat?’ with a full band and festival chorus overrides any duller moments.

What was his voice like? To be completely honest, I’m not so sure, it’s hard to hear over so many happy voices.

BUT Tom Jones was NOT the man of the night, Oh no, Grandmaster Flash, having been adamant with the organisers that he was to play on the Mainstage, was due to play when Fatherson did, however, having missed his flight he played (as the organisers had originally wished) as a late night act in the Hothouse Tent after Mr Jones had finished.

I’ve never seen so many people rammed into the Tent and I’ve never heard so many hip hop classics crammed into a DJ set, in the words of Grandmaster Flash’s Twitter ‘Belladrum was massive … so powerful’!

More Photos

Words: Leonie Colmar
Photos: Charlotte Hornby