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25 January 2004

The Disconnection Tour
Wolverhampton, Little Civic

Additional support by Chaplin's Alley

Motel 74
Into My Blood
Let It Fall

Review by Hoochy

Men, the wait is over. For too long now we’ve had to put up with a drought in terms of fine leading ladies in alternative music. Who do we have right now? Meg White? I don’t think so, and she doesn’t lead a band anyway! That screaming woman of The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s? Its scraping the barrel really isn’t it, just because. So, if you’re unfamiliar, may I introduce to you Carina Round. Growing up in dreary Low Hill in Wolverhampton couldn’t have been much fun, but whatever Carina Round went through during this time is to our benefit as on 'The Disconnection' she sings some of the best songs to be heard in a very long time. Not tired garage rock and not monotonous folk/indie which most women singer/songwriters seem to end up producing these days. Instead, spirited, feisty, and at times sleazy indie rock tunes that insist that you’re taken in by them and adore them and the person singing them to you. Like PJ Harvey but miles better. Yes, really. In Carina’s own words from her biography: "I wanna make people feel something...The music that I listen to most is the kind that reflects something that I feel. After all, isn't that why we all listen to music? To be excited and to be thrown into upheavel?" Exactly.

Carina has spent time supporting some established company (Coldplay, Elbow, Ryan Adams, Turin Brakes, David Gray, Ed Harcourt and even James Brown) but this January she is the lead act. Unfortunately this means sitting for what feels like an eternity on the floor of the slowly filling Little Civic listening to two sub-standard support bands. I would share their names but I can’t even remember them. But don’t worry, you’re not missing anything unless you like Stone Roses, Oasis wannabes crossed with a few modern trendy bands.

With the support bands gone, time for some originality. Shoot, opener on The Disconnection, was also the opener to her set. Unfortunately things didn’t go entirely to plan. As Carina pointed out herself, "It’s always a good idea to plug in your guitar properly!", with a cheeky smile which showed that despite her small mistake she wasn’t embarrassed at all. She looked at ease on stage, brimming with confidence and it looked like being on stage was where she preferred to be all of the time. 'Shoot' builds from a simple, quiet manner into a poised, tension-building beast of a song that has many in the crowd nodding along. Carina’s clearly enjoying herself and as the song closes with its crashing guitars she’s already jumping around on stage. She has to be careful not to fall into anything on the small Little Civic stage, made more crowded by the double bass that is present. Which makes you wonder, if she sounds this good in here, how good would she sound in the bigger venues that she surely will be playing sooner rather than later?

From the soulful 'Motel 74' to the end of the set Carina’s guitarist wears a mask over his face which makes him look like Placebo’s bassist, which is odd and no one is quite sure why this is so, but his slick guitar playing backs up Carina’s vocals so well that he is forgiven for looking slightly odd. Again, we have another false start – an out of tune guitar this time – and we see that cheeky, sexy smile once more as she strums the off note staring at the crowd giggling. I forget this is a mistake because Carina looks so good! After they restart the song everything is fine and there are to be no more false starts to songs.

Next up is forthcoming single 'Lacuna', which is going to be released as part of a live EP. After informing us of this we are politely told "So what I’m really trying to say is go and fucking buy it". And now, so am I! 'Lacuna' is a thoughtful song with a killer chorus.

'Paris' makes an appearance in the set and it’s a treat as it is the first time that it has done so on this tour. For not the first time tonight Carina mentions France. The beauty of Paris is compared to someplace which is "dull and grey" (Wolverhampton maybe!?). Whether France is somewhere that Carina likes to go, or somewhere she wishes she could escape to, who knows, but it makes a great song.

Last single 'Into My Blood' follows and that shows Carina Round at her best; a stormer of a song which is probably her most accessible. It’s the kind of song that is so good you don’t want it to end. The reaction the song gets implies that this is a fans favourite, and indeed it was the song that I discovered her with.

'Elegy' shows Carina Round’s quieter side and gives the crowd a chance to hear her gorgeous voice with minimal accompaniment. It’s intense and beautiful and everyone is in a trance just gazing towards the stage, hanging on every word that Carina sings with passion.

Before the next song Carina tells us that the band and herself have had to put the album out by themselves and that "the last few months have been a struggle, but the record seems to be doing well and its fucking unbelievable all the support I’m getting". This woman deserves more attention, and every bit of attention she gets is fully deserved.

'Let It Fall' gives Carina the chance to show her scary side. This is a song from her first album, 'The First Blood Mysteries'. Carina is angry in this song. Very angry. But she’s still being sexy. She goes very slightly mad in the middle of the song, moving her guitar onto her back and wandering around the stage with intent. Then, she returns to the microphone and rants about...about...I’m not entirely sure! But someone’s pissed her off in the past that’s for sure! But while I’m thinking about it, Carina lets out a few shouts and screams, and I’m thinking it must take practice to do it that well. The song ends and Carina and her band go off stage.

With the crowd shouting for more they come back onto the stage quite quickly and we are treated to Carina asking mischievously "Say it you mean it". Maybe it was the moment, but everything this woman said seemed to sound so cool! For the encore 'Monument' is played, a song which sounds like it should be the soundtrack to a trip through an American desert before morphing with a "for once...let it come…oh god, let it…come" into another massive rock tune of the highest order. The band goes mad and the song and the gig are over. The crowd shout for more yet again, but there is not to be anymore. The gig has gone far, far too quickly, but I console myself with getting a flyer signed by Carina Round (with a "Hey Ross" and a smiley face as well!).

Post-gig discussions consisted of what a brilliant performance Carina Round had just put on and three girls commenting that "she’s so sexy!". Leave her alone women, she’s for the men!

If you can, go see her live and buy the album!!!!!!

Rocking or Shocking?
Rocking. 5/5.

Originally online at The Hoochy website

Review by Russ L

Wolverhampton’s Little Civic is a cool venue. I particularly like the fact that when presented with a boring band you can while away the time by examining the posters for prior gigs that plaster the walls.

Happily enough, that wasn’t necessary on this occasion. I arrived in time to see the last two-and-a-half songs by Chaplin’s Alley, who impressed me a lot with their driving, heads-first melodic rock mixed with swooping, swirling keyboards. The closest comparison I can come up with is a heavier version of The Cooper Temple Clause. Worth checking out.

After some former misgivings (see the last Carina review), I’ve decided that I actualy quite like main tour support The Honeymoon Machine. They do sound and look like an amalgamation of everything that has been popular in the NME over the past few years, but they have an infectious sense of enthusiasm and some good songs – witness ‘Faith

In People’ (Doves with a slide guitar), ‘Angie’ (Led-Zep-via-The-White-Stripes bluesrock), and ‘Comes Again’ (Coldplay vs. northern stadium indie on a lower budget).

And lastly…Herself. I’m not going to go on for too long this time, as anyone/everyone who reads this site regularly knows what I’m going to say, but she was as great as ever. ‘Let It Fall’ seems to get more dangerously violent every time she performs it, ‘Paris’ came back to the set, her obligatory endearing cock-up came about when she forgot to plug her guitar in before starting to play… just go and see her and buy her records. Please. It’ll be a favour to yourself, not to me.

Originally online at The Communion website

Photos By Glenn Rossington

Photos By Carsten Deiterich