Tag Archives: Blenheim Palace

Tears for Fears

Nocturne Live, Blenheim Palace
22th June 2019

Tears for Fears have a history with Blenheim Palace. Roland Orzabal explains that they once did a live broadcast from here to Japan after playing four nights at Hammersmith Odeon. This was presumably a double dollop of Britishness for the Japanese, though the duo – as their name suggests – managed to translate their more international influences of Arthur Janov and existentialism into chart success. In fact, in tonight’s show – part of the Nocturne Live concert series – the duo prove that their status in British pop music’s heritage is befitting of the beautiful surroundings. Their most well-known hits – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, “Mad World”, “Change” and “Shout” – are tonight welcomed by a respectful but enthusiastic audience, with the heavy cold-afflicted Curt Smith’s voice is still distinctively clear.

It’s not simply a stick-the-greatest-hits-on-and-play-long performance. Their cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” – appropriate given the locale, but actually currently a mainstay of their live show – is menacing in a way their other songs aren’t, not reaching a crescendo or really ever giving in to its fury. A few songs have different formats to their original counterparts: “Head over Heels” is the medley version with “Broken” from Songs from the Big Chair, and “Secret World”, from the charmingly titled post-reformation album Everybody Loves a Happy Ending (Roland and Curt having parted ways after The Seeds of Love), is somewhat bizarrely punctuated by snippets of Wings’ “Let ‘Em In” (more recently known from the Postcode Lottery advert). “Woman in Chains” has an abstract funk intro, with the Oleta Adams slot filled by Carina Round, who complements Roland’s vocals in a different but no lesser way than the deeper-voiced Oleta did.

The sprawling “Badman’s Song” might have fitted in on the famously troubled epic jazz/blues jumble that was The Seeds of Love, but it feels self-indulgent tonight; they can be forgiven though, given the strength of their back catalogue, and the fact that they’re still here, together and smiling.


From Nightshift, August 2019


Blenheim Palace
29th June 2008

The Winchell Riots
I only catch two songs, which is a shame, as I like what I hear. Being rather early in the day, the arena isn’t very full, but they fill it with their epic, reverb rock sound. I don’t hear enough to really be able to tell, my initial impressions are that they sound like what Keane would sound like if they were any good. 

Little Fish
Who’d have thought a bloke and a girl could make so much noise? Especially a girl as tiny as “Juju”. Every inch the rock n’ roller in her white skinny jeans and red braces, she’s an instrument in herself – her voice creates everything and her guitar follows. I don’t think PJ Harvey or Suzi Quatro are unfair comparisons. The repertoire is varied, from blues to rock via soul, with a lot of bravery, pain, anger and compassion thrown in. Occasionally it gets a bit frighteningly yelpy, but it’s mostly challenging and intriguing.

A Silent Film
How annoying – a local band I haven’t bothered seeing before because I didn’t think they’d be this good. Epic, layered, reverby, synthy, earnest – their sound is great. Their songs sound good, but I have no idea how commercial they are – I’m just enjoying the interesting sound they’re making. Not heard anything as inventive yet accessible as this in quite a while. And their cover of Born Slippy is amazing.

The Dykeenies
Pretty standard teen pop/rock/indie, as far as I can tell. Very popular with the “youth” who have appeared out of nowhere (and are surely too young to be here). I’m reliably informed that they’re a cross between Fall Out Boy and Busted; I wouldn’t know – I wasn’t born in the 90s. Quite tight, tuneful and catchy though.

Black Kids
I think I’m being won over by the Black Kids’ catchiness. The sheer poppiness irritated me at first, but the influences have been showing through – rock, disco, early 80s pop-funk, even Motown. They’re still not the tightest band live I’ve ever seen, but tunes like recent single Hurricane Jane whip the crowd up anyway, so they’re doing something right.

Lightspeed Champion
Look, it’s the bloke who used to be in Test Icicles and he’s wearing a furry hat! He’s got a female drummer! And a violin player! So automatically cool, obviously. It’s all a quite jolly singer-songwriter-with-wry-observations-about-life type of affair, but not twee, despite excursions towards 60s surf rock (which win me over with the quirky chord changes). He seems like a nice guy, and it’s all quite appealing.

Estelle is on the sassier end of cool. She’s brought a huge band with her, but this grandiosity is dampened the moment she starts chatting to the audience (apparently, men are getting on her nerves so much that she’s written a song about it). She toasts and raps as well as sings, and it’s not an R&B borefest – there’s even some reggae and grime in there (but not, alas, any Kanye). She puts her heart into it, and it’s quite a refreshing change to the rest of today’s lineup.

Young Knives
Oh no! They don’t sound so quirky anymore. Except when they play their older stuff. But the stage presence is still eccentric, so they’ve not deserted us completely, despite Henry’s declaration that Hot Summer made them multimillionaires… The Beatles-like harmonies and guitar interplay are still in evidence, too, and Turn Tail is lovely. The crowd are somewhat distracted during their set by a giant red WKD beach ball, though.

The Streets
Your reviewer doesn’t like The Streets. No amount of lazy, soul-destroying, endlessly repetitive basslines smothered by Mike Skinner’s arrogant, posturing, rambling, uninspired, self-aggrandising, boorish boasting – conspicuously devoid of any rhyme, rhythm or anything else interesting whatsoever – would persuade her otherwise. And so it transpires.

The Futureheads
Hold onto your heartrate, it’s the Futureheads! Never knowingly laid back, their marriage of frenetic punkery and beautiful harmonies would be charming if that description didn’t seem a bit too odd to apply to them. The ever-popular Skip to the End requires synchronised crowd jumping, the mere sight of which exhausts me into taking my leave…


From Nightshift, August 2008