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Turning New Pages

Posted: October 22, 2018 in Local
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The Last Word on Puppet Rebellion

Please don’t put your life in the hands of a rock and roll band, who’ll throw it all away

Someone sung those words once, and they have rebounded around my head like pinballs since Manchester band Puppet Rebellion announced they were disbanding. Life is in your hands though, so you can put it in the hands of whichever band you want to.

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You sing the words of your band like they are chiselled on your heart. I mean, if you are lucky, you sing them like they are everything. If you are lucky and you find a band who speaks to you, speaks for you and becomes crucial to your everyday life. If you think I am being dramatic then you’ve probably never had that kind of relationship with music. How awful that must be for you. But then again, you’d be able to read about Puppet Rebellion riding off into the sunset and you’ll be able to brush it off as if I just told you that Marks and Spencer’s don’t put ring pulls on their own brand of baked beans. No big deal!

But music is a big deal. A band should write the soundtrack to your life. Lyrics about nothing can become everything. It works for you because you believe it, and when you believe it then you become a passenger on a journey. Bands and their fans create this thing together, a promise, a contract between the two; you follow where they lead you, living the highs and experiencing whatever lows may come. Maybe you’ll even agree to be in the same room a few times. That is the best feeling. Magic things happen in that room. That’s when everything is created, from nothing, right in front of you. There is nothing there until someone counts off and you suddenly realise, they weren’t just your everything they spoke to all the other people too and you are an army.

Better than drugs.

Puppet Rebellion leave behind an army. Believers. I can sit here and say it shouldn’t have ended this way, it shouldn’t have ended at all. But an unwritten part of the contract is the hope that if the heroes on that stage ever get to the point where they are phoning it in, you hope they will drop their capes and depart. Music can be many things, after all, but it should never be false. Sometimes they have to do the honourable thing and get a divorce. Those who love the band will probably ask questions, like hurt kids, whats next? Why now? Don’t they love us?

Those questions are all scenic and the answers will become clear in time. Maybe. n2f21k1539858029Maybe not. The contract is never iron clad, bands throw it all away, remember? And now the Rebellion is over we have the time and the space to look at the legacy they left us and, as anger and confusion leaves us, we can admit it’s a fucking epic legacy.
They wanted to write their own tunes and play them back to people who loved them. They were never in any rush to complete their album, it had to be right when we got it. So EP’s came first, song after song improving, changing and staying the same. You cannot be angry that the journey ends here, because from verse one through to chapter the last, it has been monumental and it still exists. Anyone new stumbling through life can stagger into a pacey melodic story and take the journey when they are ready. The lucky ones knew how good the journey was while it was happening. We’ll never get the promised second album.

Leave a beautiful corpse though, right?

Puppet Rebellion will never again tug at our heartstrings, the contract is null and void and we move on.
If they spoke to you, you were ahead of the others. The cool kids needed you on the top playground, you knew the handshake, you were in on the joke.
Dear friends, you were born three nil up, you were lucky. We were lucky.

Lets turn our new pages now.

Given to Sounds, October 2018.

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The Rebellion Is Ready

Posted: October 10, 2017 in Local
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In March 2016 when GTS last wrote about Puppet Rebellion we had nothing but nice things to say about the Life Is In Your Hands EP and we truly basked in warm anthemic glow of the euphoric single Fragments (2016). Front man Oliver Davies told us that he believed the best was yet to come. He was telling the truth. November sees the release of their debut album, Chemical Friends, and the band sound ready for the next chapter. At the end of 2016 Rebellion released The Pact EP which included ‘Fragments’ and needed songs of equal quality to sit alongside it and from the opening track you know they were successful in finding them. The Pact is pacey and melodic it hustles from the first minute to the last. Lyrically it’s about two people running into the future, away from somewhere and into someplace new. In this context the second track ‘Fragments’ works very well, The Pact sees us going somewhere at speed, but Fragments is slower and more expansive and has some drive before the drums bring in the wonderful chorus and the whole piece flies majestically, “is it all that you want, is it all that you need?” It’s still a journey, but we are slowing down and smelling the flowers. The song is gorgeously built up and lifts off in all the right places. The third track Maybe You Won’t is another locomotive, literally it moves like a train and it completes the new songs on the EP, leaving a re-recording of The Greatest Lie Ever Told. The first version featured on their debut EP in 2013, also titled Chemical Friends, back then the band was fronted by Simon Monaghan and his delivery of the vocal there was a standout moment on that collection. The band play this song live so you can see why they wanted to re-record it and bring it up to date, there are some differences, the guitars seem more withdrawn for instance and it’s nice to hear but the real strength of The Pact EP lies in the first three tunes. Oliver Davies is the voice of this band and while the band can and do doth their cap respectfully towards their past, Oliver is no-ones sound a like.

This year the band released two very strong new songs. Please Me and Slave have enough in them so that you hear the Puppet Rebellion you know but, excitingly, there’s new directions too. On Please Me the band finds a strut and a funk that shows the confidence the band rightfully has. You gotta have a faith in me…” Oliver sings, owning the vocals masterfully. Please Me might just be the catchiest thing Puppet Rebellion has committed to record but the band did not rest on that, they also gave us Slave a stomp through dirty guitars and a groove we’ve not heard from the band before. It’s different and it’s new. Puppet Rebellion seem to enjoy producing get off your arse music, whether it be a call to arms to make a better life (Life is In Your Hands), not settling for second best (Test Pilot) or taking a chance and risking it all for love (The Pact). For their album they have songs in their repetoir they can recall from day one and these can be redelivered with all of the unity, musicianship and confidence they currently possess. Cupboards Painted Red for example is an earlier offering that was heart breaking back then, sounds stunning live and will be re-presented beautifully.

As the band look to pack fans into their album launch next month, they know they have an audience that has grown with them and they know they can bring on new people. The album is not day one so to speak, but it will be for a lot of people. The album doesn’t whitewash anything that has gone before it, it’s the end of one journey and the beginning of an entirely new one at the same time. They are a forward-looking band; find any of the EP’s discussed over the years on GTS, you certainly won’t find a band that has found their comfort zone and stayed in it. The first song we listened to back in 2013 and the latest from 2017 sound different in all the ways you want them to be when you enjoy a band, but the quality of song has always been strong. Puppet Rebellion have made the foundations of their house unshakeable and they have the freedom to paint the walls whatever colour they want.

Follow the band on Twitter @PuppetRebellion

Check out the official website for information on their album launch.

© 2017 Simon Andrew Moult / Moultymedia. See this site for details.

On the road again, armed with anthems, GTS catches up with the band and finds them sounding better than ever.

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Intro, the instrumental part of This Blue World). Part of me was gutted this wasn’t the full thing, but it works as an intro well.

Charge

The Bones of You

Open Arms

Real Life (Angel)

The Loneliness of a Tower Crane Driver

The Night Will Always Win

Puncture Repair
Puncture and the song before it really hit me as a pair. Anytime you hear Puncture Repair done live, be glad. I tingled from head to toe.

The Blanket of Night

The Birds

Grounds for Divorce

These two really work together. Might have expected Leaders but The Birds is heavy live. Grounds, well, crowd favourite as always.

Fly Boy Blue / Lunette (restarted)

My Sad Captains
Already sounds like a staple in the set. Loved this, all of them singing together on a song about friendships and life. This one could be the sister of Weather to Fly. That’s about the boys in the band and this is about the outside friends who aren’t seen as often because life moves pretty fast.

Mirrorball

New York Morning

Guy did the usual ‘Good night!’ fake leaving the stage thing but not before he asked us to pick a song to sing to get them back on. Someone in the crowd chose ‘Daydream Believer’ and when the band left, sure enough up it started. It morphed into the football version where I was sat.

Starlings
Having been used to hearing this as the intro it was nice to see it switched but still kept. Still keeps the ‘beginning’ vibe it had just now it begins the encore.

Lippy Kids
A favourite, the crowd participation gives me goosebumps.

One Day Like This

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Polishing a Compass

Last night was really good, the band seemed happy to be back on stage and Mr Garvey was truthfully in the best vocal form I’ve heard. I heard a while back that songs like ‘Powder Blue’ were dropped from the set coz Guy couldn’t hit the high notes. I can only think that’s bollocks because he sang so well last night.

They played the ones most would have picked from older albums and of course they cant get away without playing ‘One Day Like This’. Unpopular opinion alert, maybe, but I could live happily never hearing that song live again. Guy and the ‘gang’ approach it like its the first time they have ever played it. I’ll never forget that night during the homecoming Manchester gig on the Seldom tour, a couple literally sat there sighing with boredom until One Day inevitably closed the night complete with ticker tape and all that. Upon hearing the familiar stringed introduction, the guy in this double act flung his arms in the air like Kevin the teenager and shouted ‘at last, gawwwwd’. Why bother buying tickets at all? It was probably a date. I hope she gave him nowt.

I’m sat here watching the wheels go round and round, and speaking of Lennon; ‘New York Morning’ soared live. Even in the ratty O2 academy. Guy likes to get his northernisms in but folk and Yoko makes me chuckle. John Lennon was hounded out of England and embraced by New York. Let’s let them have Guy for a bit, but then can we have him back?  Cheers. Lennon said it himself though, if he had lived in the Roman empire  he would have wanted to live in Rome. America is the new Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself.

‘My Sad Captains’ is beautiful as I knew it would be but I feel I also have to mention songs that went over my head from Build a Rocket Boys; ‘The Birds’ has more about it for me now. It’s got bollocks now. Maybe it always did but last night I got that one. Another from that ilk is ‘The Night Will Always Win’. Guy said it was about not missing people at night. I finally get that one too, you can fake it and get through the day but it will get you at night, ‘never by the moon’. Listen to the words. In not unrelated news, my nan died recently. I do miss her face and her home truths. Anyway.

I’m sat here speeding back to Prestwich talking about Elbow with Gaz the driver. He loves the new album and specifically ‘New York Morning’ and ‘My Sad Captains’. He describes ‘Real Life (Angel)’ as fantastic. Itwas apparently worthy of repeat status last week. Gaz is also full of praise for ‘Honey Sun’.

The return trip is kicking the first trip’s mega bus dot com arse.

It will be interesting to see what gets added or dropped by the time I see them again a few days from now in the people’s republic of Mancunia. There didn’t seem much to iron out, a few false starts and music scuffs but nowt to right home about, although I guess I did just that, yes well.

I want me bed. I want sleep. I want hot vimto and mushy hot  weetabix and I want to remember hearing Guy sing ‘Puncture Repair’ and exactly how spine tingling it was to hear the crowd singing ‘Lippy Kids’ back to him. 

If you were there…