Blue October + The Parlotones @ Birmingham Academy 2 – 4th June 2009


Opening tonight’s gig is South Africa’s finest export, and probably the best dressed band around, The Parlotones. For those of you who have never heard of the them they are one of the biggest selling artists ever in their homeland, but thankfully they spend most of their time in England or on tour. As the band kick into the opening track it becomes evident that something’s technically not quite right. ‘Only Human’ then ‘Giant Mistake’ are all radio friendly tracks. Then lead singer Karn Morbee brings the pace down a little with the beautiful ballad ‘l’ll Be There’. This get the fans singing along to Karn’s angelic voice. ‘Bird In Flight’ brings the tempo right back up, followed by ‘Solar System’.


The highlight of the night for me comes whe n’Beautiful’ is played. I liked this song the very first time I heard it 10 months ago when the band last played Birmingham. A young couple next to me were asking “why does this sound like something else i’ve heard”? I declined to tell them, but its sounds like Radiohead’s ‘Creep’.

The Parlotones close their set with ‘Overexposed’ then promptly thank Blue October for lending them their amp before leaving the stage. They are great live and always put 100% in to their shows. So the next time they play Birmingham on October 7th, be sure to buy a ticket.


Having listened the the album ‘Approaching Normal’ (the band’s 5th) for a couple weeks prior to this gig I was thrilled to get confirmation that I’d be attending. After what seemed ages of waiting whilst roadies continued to solve technical problems, Blue October finally appear on stage. Lead singer Justin Furstenfeld arrives last, then puts his hand on his heart and gives it to both sides of the room, the crowd except his gesture willingly. ‘U Make Me Smile’ opens the set and at this point the stage is in complete darkness apart from the odd flicker of moblie phone flashes coming from the crowd. ‘She’s My Ride’ then ‘Say It’ have the crowd jumping up and down. When the opening jingle of ‘Dirt Room’ (the single) is played the crowd go wild, the floor vibrating to the pounding of feet and when Justin attempts to sing the line “Sweaty piggy your a bad man man, what a fucking sad way to go” most of The Academy sing it for him.


Ryan Delahoussaye’s violin playing on the bridge is melancolic. It’s not until the song ‘Been Down’ that we get any talk from Justin though. “I’d just like to thank you all for coming to see us tonight, this is our first time across the water”. The ballad ‘My Never’ (a song about the girl you can never have) slows the mood down with a beautiful acoustic and piano version allowings the true extent of Justin’s vocal range to be heard. “Picking Up Pieces” is next and the thing that strikes me is that just how close to the album the sound is. That might be because Steve Lillywhite produced it. “Into The Ocean” has all the girls singing along at the front in one of those magical moments you get at gigs from time to time. “People always ask me why the songs are so fucking dark” Justin tells us “this is not a dark song, this is about my daughter who’s 2 years old she changed me” as ‘Jumprope’ is played, complete with child voices on backing tapes. Then comes ‘The End’ (a deeply psychopathic love song about adultery and murder). Justin ventures into the crowd and vents his anger towards one corner of the room like a murderer about to slay his victim and show no sign of remorse. “I was angry” he tells us after the tirade. “Libby” and the highlight of the set “Hate Me” have the whole room singing the lyrics for him and “Hate Me Today Hate Me Tomorrow” is a perfect way to leave Birmingham wanting more. So if you like your lyrics and music on the slightly darker side, I suggest you catch Blue October the next time they play Birmingham.

Review and Photos
Ian Dunn

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