Tall Ships: London – live reviewTall Ships

London, Scala

7th March 2013

Louder Than War’s Keith Goldhanger catches Tall Ships on one of those ‘biggest gigs we’ve ever doen evenings’, see below for what he thought.

Tall ships are getting taller, bigger…. and longer.
This is another one of those “biggest gigs we’ve ever done” evenings and whilst we stand in this packed venue enjoying what we’re listening to and watching these people stand there on stage in amazement at the reception they’re receiving, some of us are smiling and wanting to tell these chaps that if they’re gobsmacked by this then just wait another couple of years until the rest of the world catch up and you’ll look back on tonight and wonder what all the fuss was about.
The fuss, in case you’re wondering is about our reaction to an hour’s worth of songs that doesn’t contain a dud amongst them.
They even play “Books” – Thank fuck for that then, cos I’d have been running at them chasing them down the street wanting an explanation if they hadn’t.

Like when they headlined READING festival last year…The Introducing stage. The other one with all the lights and scaffolding around it is a possibility one day but we’re currently a couple of equally good albums away from that at the time of writing.
The band are now a four piece having recently bought in a man we were introduced to who produced the debut album “Everything Touching” and seeing this bigger line up on a bigger stage playing a longer show than we’ve been used to in the past has now made us realise that this lot are not going to go away. I didn’t catch the chaps name because some bloke next to me was recounting a tale of a Los Campesinos gig he’d been to a few years ago which has now made it to the realms of this article. I could have googled this chaps name (The bloke in the band not the chatterbox) but wanted to make a small point about people who DON’T STOP FUCKIN TALKING DURING THE QUIET BITS….(I feel better now).


He’s got one of those BOSCH things y’know (The bloke in the band not the chatterbox)
I’ve got one of them.
Mine is still in its box.
What one of these electronic gadgets does, is allow you to plug things into it and by hitting the pedal at the right time can allow the user to loop the sound and play something over the top of it.

Or stick a Mike into it and sing like Cher or that woman who married that footballer.

Tall ships don’t sing like Cher though thankfully.
There’s a lot of bands using this piece of equipment nowadays (which is why I’ve jumped on that bandwagon myself..all I need is a band eh?).
Tall ship’s main man Ric Phethean uses this to great effect which must really piss the drummer off as he is now having to follow these sounds and this makes him definitely not in charge.
But that’s Ok.
During Tall Ships earlier shows it’s been easy to label them as that band that loops stuff, buggers off for a cuppa and return a minute or two later to play along with what’s simply just going around and around and around and around and around and around and around (not a very catchy name for a new youth movement but you never know)….but not anymore.
We discover that there’s more to this that a simple effects pedal (“Simple” …yeah.. if you can work out how to get the bloody thing out of the box in comes in!!). Good songs, like expensive effect pedals don’t come cheap so that aside (and I won’t mention it again) We’re witnessing a band growing up in public that the public still at home at the moment watching “Question Time” will be scratching at their laptops one morning sometime in the future in order to bag some tickets to see Tall Ships in much bigger sheds that the Scala.
Which is relatively big anyway.

There’s a bit of instrument swapping going on here, a lot of quiet bits which remind us a little of Sigur Ros, that allow us to over hear all the shit conversations that people around us are having (and I won’t mention that again) and at other times it’s like being in a violent thunderstorm ….rain lashing down, flashing lights, you know there’s about to be a big bang and when it comes you still jump out of your skin.

Acoustic beginnings and thunderous, electronic endings guaranteed unless we’ve already had them in the middle. Vocals that don’t bother appearing until half way into songs, and tempo changes that actually make sense and are not just there for the sake of it.

Bass player Matt Parker puts his shift in rolling out bass lines to keep all of this mayhem together as does struggling drummer Jamie Bush (struggling and succeeding to not overtake the guitar loops).

By the end of this show there are arms in the air…people on each other’s shoulder and a massive sing along to “Vessels”, a song so excellent that by the end of it they don’t even need any instruments to finish the song they’ve started.

The variety in TALL SHIPS repertoire is what makes this work and it’s a racket that the big wide world outside tonight’s venue will warm to.

We’ve got a rather big band coming in from over the horizon (or Brighton as we in London call it)

Good stuff, good songs, a good gig and more to come……..

Tall tall tall… as big as a wall wall wall ….

Tall Ships’ website can be found here. They are on Facebook here and can be found on twitter as @tallshipsmusic.

All words by Keith Goldhanger. More work by Keith on Louder Than War can be found here.

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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the 90's as a frontman with London noisemerchants HEADBUTT - spent the 80's in "Peel favourites" BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - drinks real ale, takes photo's has made a few short films. Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).


  1. Ah there you are, your sort make me sick ,whining on about people eating hot food on the tube whilst you sit there with your Gorgonzola and Wensleydale dropping bits of cracker and smearing mould on the seats and anyway that got to do with the security and the reputation of the Belgian government


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