Kelley Stoltz - Ritz, Manchester - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Kelley Stoltz - Ritz, Manchester

by Miz DeShannon Rating: Release Date:

It's not like this is a new foray into the world of music for Stoltz, he's been around quite some time now, with his first album The Past was Faster coming out in 1999, and seven more since then. Latest release To Dreamers, is full of upbeat folk numbers like 'Pinecone', and more of his trademark catchy garage-inspired songs like 'Baby I've Got News for You'.

On stage with his six-piece band, Kelley had seemingly gathered quite a scruffy bunch, opting for stage wear in the form of a nice Christmas jumper himself, with the rest of the band looking like they'd been at practice in a warehouse all day. Not that wardrobe options reflect on their music at all, but it'd have helped a lot if they actually sounded like they'd been at practice all day to make up for it.

Maybe being overly critical of the presentation as opposed to music performance is wrong, but being a performer brings everything into the mix, surely. Sadly, regardless of jumpers and zipped-up parkas, things sound really great on record, but live everything came across as under rehearsed. Despite having a great setlist, a nice collection of instruments, including xylophone and sax and a plethora of vintage guitars, the set was slightly monotonous sounding and flat in the main.

Despite lyrics like, "do you wanna rock n roll?" from 'Rock n Roll with Me', they didn't really look like they could be bothered, and inter-band giggling between songs just increased the slightly unprofessional feel. Stoltz would definitely have been better suited to being support for a band like The Bees, as the Bunnymen crowd seemed a little bemused by his presence and performance. I don't think they realised that the connection was his 2001 cover of the whole of their Crocodiles album.

Sounding a bit messy and Brian Jonestown at times, 'I Remember You Were Wild' was quite upbeat, with a good melody and hooky chorus, but that might have stood out just because it was the one I know the most. Stoltz's writing is most definitely more of a 60s garage sound than a 90s shoegaze sound, very Love inspired, obviously so in songs like 'Ever Thought of Coming Back' (from 2006 album Below the Branches) and 'Your Reverie' (from 2008 album Circular Sounds) so hearing the songs like this live was unexpected.

It's a shame when an act doesn't live up to expectations after hearing a great recording history from them, and with Stoltz's experience we were expecting a more honed sound to be honest. Ah well, practice makes perfect…

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