THE STILLS

(review by Trevski)

The_StillsIn January this year on one of the many evenings I watch MTV2 they played a song called ‘Lola Stars and Stripes’. It was one of those tunes that I liked after the first listen. MTV2 gradually played it more or more over the coming weeks and I decided that it was about time that I bought their newly released album.
‘Logic Will Break You Heart’ is the Montreal four piece’s debut album and showed every sign of becoming a classic. ‘Lola Stars and Stripes’ is a natural opener and the rest of the albums eleven tracks just get better and better. Its one of those albums that is fantastic on its first listen and I was looking forward repeating this over the coming weeks.
It’s nice to discover a great album before your friends because then introducing it to them is very rewarding when they can gain the same listening experience that you’ve being having.
Another Wednesday (NME Day) comes along and I always flick to the gig section first of all as there could be some hot tickets that need my immediate attention. Ace! There they are, The Stills are playing at my new spiritual live music home, The Liverpool Carling Academy. Then it was just a matter of logging on and getting the tickets booked. Unfortunately I had six weeks to wait. During this time the Album was being constantly played in my car, It’s the only place that I listen to music really loud and hear what it truly is. I don’t think I can remember listing to one album so heavily since ‘Ok Computer’ in 1997.

The day finally arrives and unfortunately It’s my turn to drive back as Jules had drivin me back from Liverpool from the last two gigs we had been to. So no Grolsh’s tonight then! The Stills really had something to live up too as the last two gigs I had attended at the Carling Academy (Snow Patrol & Spiritualized) had been amazing. When we eventually got parked up and walked onto Hotham Street, the usual entrance to the Academy was closed and there was a much smaller door open manned my two bouncers. I asked what was going on, he told me The Stills were playing The Academy 2. I had never been here before and felt a little disappointed at the moment as I had so much loved the previous gig’s upstairs. My disappointment was unfounded as The Academy 2 was a much smaller venue with a long bar and a large comfortable seating area towards the back of the hall. The stage was tiny compared to upstairs but it felt very intimate. Straight to the T shirt stand to check out their gear, nothing to my fancy, but the conversation with the guy selling the T shirts was pretty interesting. He had quite an obvious Canadian accent so I asked him was he from Montreal too? He told me he was, so I asked him were The Stills playing the Glastonbury festival? He said ‘Yeah, were playing one of the bigger stages’. I was made up to hear this as Jules and I were two pretty lucky people getting tickets to this years festival, what with all that Aloud.com ticketing fiasco. Also all the web sites with rumoured line-ups on them had no mention of The Stills, I was also a little embarrassed as I had never seen him in their videos! Never mind……..

The backing band for the night was a New York outfit called ‘The Walkmen’. I had not heard of them much before, all I knew was that their album got eight out of ten in last weeks NME so they must be pretty good. They kicked off into their first tune which was a belter I was pretty impressed with the lead singers stage presence jumping on top of each of the monitor speakers glaring into the crowd while singing with the microphone and cable coiled in his hand. Quite a rockin outfit, with their lead geet man playing a pretty similar style to The Strokes front man Albert Hammond Junior. A little bit of a rip off I thought, but the strength of their music certainly more that made up for this. A band to keep an eye on….

Wayhay!! The Stills walked on after the extremely long interval. Straight into ‘Love & Death’ (My favourite track on the album) I couldn’t believe it! They were very tight but Tim Fletcher (Lead Vocals / Rhythm Guitar) was experiencing some nasty bouts of feedback from his microphone. I wondered if it was the size of the venue causing this? Greg Paquet (Lead Guitar) was on one knee on the floor thrashing everything he could get out of his Gibson and Oli Crowe was a blur of long hair and some fantastic bass fingering. Even before the first song had fallen silent in a blaze of flashing light and induced guitar feedback, it was straight into ‘Still In Love Song’ another rocking track where Tim tells about ‘Selling lemonade, to the overpaid’ Where having a bad job doesn’t matter as long as your still in love. It wasn’t till this point that Tim finally announces that they were looking forward to playing in Liverpool to find out what all the music hype was about. The microphone feedback that had previously being pestering the frontman was now resolved and they continued with ‘Lola Stars and Stripes’ which a lot of the crowd knew well, they probably grew to love The Stills through this tune just like I did I thought. Next up was ‘Changes Are No Good’ their current single which unfortunately is not commanding the British chart position It deserves when released, but does any good music these days? ‘Changes Are No Good’ is definitely one of the stand out tracks on the album pushing Tim Fletchers voice range to its maximum. ‘Gender Bombs’, ‘Ready For It’, ‘Animals & Insects’ & ‘Allison Krausse’ followed for which ‘Allison Krausse’ has some worryingly funny lyrics ‘She Was A Virgin, I Wonder Which Version’ is the baffling retort to Alison Krausse, the extra ‘e’ presumably added to prevent a lawsuit from Nashville’s finest! After these song’s Tim announced ‘thanks Liverpool!’ and retired from the stage. Hmmm a bit quick I thought, but it wasn’t long until the stamping of the buzzing crowd’s feet brought Tim back out after only two minutes. ‘Hey’ he announced, ‘A little to short that set wasn’t it?’ to a huge cheer. ‘Were coming back to play a load more for you guys!’. They started off the encore with ‘Lets Roll’ then they played a track sung in French called ‘Retour A Vega’ which a friend of theirs had written when they were on tour in the states. Their swansong, involved drummer Dave Hammelin appearing from behind the drums to announce that he was going to sing a song for us! I was aware that they had a song sung by another band member but did not know who.

‘I’ve been working my ass off back there’ He announced, ‘This is Yesterday Never Tomorrow’s’ Hammelin told us that this song was loosly based on The Beatles song ‘ Tomorrow Never Knows’ which John Lennon wanted the song to sound like an LSD trip, so god only knows what was going though Hammelin’s head when he wrote it! Before stating he dedicated it to John, Paul, George & Ringo. This being the last song of the night and you could see that the band were enjoying every minute of it. The drums were now replaced by a Drum synth that was being controlled by the lad we had met selling the T-shirts earlier. Dave Hammelin (Who looks like a young version of Starskey) was tripping over himself as he fell around the stage while singing. At one point he had the microphone spinning round his head. Just at that moment it became detached from the cable with a loud boom and flew across the stage! He had to quickly recover it before the band could move onto the next section of the song. At this stage Oli Crowe (Bass) climbed up onto the bass bins right in front of us and started moshing while playing the bass! Then he was joined by Tim, They began to sway back and fore in the way Status Quo do (Scary!!) the sounds were still coming thick and fast and the other members of the band gave us a wave while Tim & Oli played on! The eventually did get off the bass bin’s and Oli threw the bass into the Drums to the crowds enjoyment before leaving the stage. Tim (The only person left on stage) looked down at his Guitar, then looked at the crowd then at the drums before very gingerly throwing or should I say placing his guitar on the drums as well. From the look on his face we could tell that he didn’t want to do it bat he just had too! He then left the stage clapping the crowd to some of the most god awful feedback ive ever heard! Rock And Roll Eh? T-Hee…..

Another great night out in Liverpool all for just £7 I recommend that you also check out this band if you attend any festivals this year. It’s an experience I won’t be forgetting in a hurry and neither will you!