Thursday, 13 May 2010

Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, The Scala, London May 11th 2010

The Scala, previously a cinema is now a popular and intimate location that was set to high voltage on Tuesday when Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders rocked out to 11 during the almost two hour set. Their support act, the currently unsigned Charly Coombes and the New Breed, are a four piece from Oxford who held their own as a great act in their own right, let alone one supporting the T-Hawk. A band, who having previously supported Supergrass (and set to support them again with The Coattail Riders in June at the Brixton Academy), are currently working their way around the UK offering a great blast of rock and roll freshness through the musty sound waves at the moment.

Comfortably positioned at the front of the crowd, I was confident I had a good spot to enjoy the hotly anticipated low key gig in all its glory. So with a beer in one hand and a camera in the other, I was not disappointed. Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders emerged, if a little reluctantly and took to the stage. With a little introduction, the band, which included Chris Chaney, the former bassist to Jane’s Addiction and a fellow band member to Taylor from Alanis Morisette, belted into Not Bad Luck, the track opener to Red Light Fever, from the new album in question. From there on the evening seemed to slip away as the songs kept melting into the night, until halfway through the set a few special guests poked their heads out of the stage door. Rufus Taylor and his pop, Roger, took to the stage and assisted on drumming duties to a rapturous crowd, many including myself in slight disbelief at how close these legends, including Taylor Hawkins, are to grasp. A couple of songs in and the one and only Brian May appeared, sheepishly riffing everyone’s face off, to both a few very early Queen tracks and finished with The Coattail Riders’ current single, Way Down.

Drenched in sweat, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders performed a blistering set, and as Hawkins said during the evening, ‘Are you entertained?’ we surely were. As a side project away from the Foo Fighters, Hawkins has forged a superb group that stand above many others. If the Foo Fighters were to dissolve, this is one band that will continue to grow, and Red Light Fever delivers it’s nostalgic 70s rock sound time after time on the ears, and after tonight, on the eyes.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Paranormal Activity (2007)

Released in 2007 and set in 2006, Paranormal Activity I believe is one of the greatest suspense films of the last decade. The film brings to the psychological horror table what The Blair Witch Project did for hand held camera sales in 1999. Almost ten years later, I believe the reason why this film is so successful at creating tension and sheer terror is by relying on the viewer to be more intelligent then many other films within this genre give credit to. The film allows the mind to create the horror rather then visually providing every element of dismay which is popular in the gore horror genre, where the viewer becomes increasingly lazy and complacent to their visceral experience.

Using a small cast of mainly unknown actors, the premise of the film is set around the re-viewing of a ‘true story’, in which a couple are experiencing unexplainable paranormal activity within their home, and the plot unfolds through how the couple cope with the events. Written and directed by Oren Peli, who prior to this film had no credited directorial experience, achieves great levels of tension and anxiety through similar techniques mastered by the great Hitchcock some forty years earlier. There are simple rules within the horror genre, which when followed are very effective at scaring the hell out of us, and as a film that preys on the psychological fears many have to the unknown, Paranormal Activity is a brilliant example of treating the viewer with respect, and giving them exactly what they want. To be scared silly. Good job there will be a Paranormal Activity 2 then, which is currently in pre-production. The question is, where many horror sequels fail, will this one be any good?