Category: Live Reviews

Skinny Lister / Beans On Toast, The 1865, Southampton (7/12/17)

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Skinny Lister, Southampton, 7/12/17 (photo: Ant Penny)

Skinny Lister and Beans on Toast brought their ‘Double Trouble’ tour to the 1865 venue in Southampton for a truly sublime night of music and raucous revelry.

There was a huge crowd assembled to experience these two acts, and, I have to say, the excitement was palpable. Before either of these musical powerhouses took to the stage, I was milling about in the crowd and I got talking to many of the other revelers. ‘What? You’ve never seen Skinny Lister before?’ was the incredulous query levelled at me. And, I’m now ashamed to admit, this was true. The lady then added ‘You are going to LOVE them! They’re probably the best band I’ve ever seen live!’ And, during the exchange, I found out that she was involved with organising ‘Festibelly’, a festival held in The New Forest, so I thought she must know what she’s talking about. Well, did she? I’ll let you know… Continue reading

LIVE: Tom Walker, The Garage, London (29/11/17)

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Tom Walker, London, 29/11/17 (photo: Becca Cribb)

Manchester singer-songwriter Tom Walker‘s star has ascended extremely fast during 2017. The 25-year-old has rapidly built-up a strong reputation not only for his engaging, heartfelt songwriting, but his live performances have also wowed, with a voice that has a ‘sit-up-and-pay-attention’ affect that is reminiscent of the first time hearing Rag’n’Bone Man live for the first time.

Highlights of this London show included Karma, and latest single Leave a Light On, with the whole audience singing along to both songs and really ramping up the atmosphere. The stripped back Fly Away With Me slowed the pace down a little, uniting the audience in a flow of escapism. This was all perhaps topped by Heartland which, along with Blessings, is arguably among Walker’s signature tunes.

His live performance was a great combination of meaningful lyrics with raw and raspy vocals that accentuate his ability to capture the audience. There are even interesting influences of hip hop which make his sound quite unique.

He told the crowd that he had previously performed in every room in this London establishment, from the tiny back room, to the slightly larger space upstairs, and now the main stage itself. It tells the story of Walker’s growing profile, and suggests the stages he’ll be performing on in 2018 will be larger still.

He’ll be back on the road during March and April 2018 with a tour across the UK and Europe – tickets here.

Review & Photos: Rebecca Cribb

 

LIVE: Sonia Stein, Scala, London (30/12/17)

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Sonia Stein, London, 30/11/17 (photo: Martin Allen)

Every now and then, a voice comes along that just grabs the attention. You can’t necessarily put your finger on it, but it just connects on some frequency that manages to stir up emotion and feeling like nothing else.

This support slot for headliner Betsy was the second time we had caught London singer-songwriter Sonia Stein live, and on each occasion, her performance was enough to suggest that she will surely be much more widely known by this time next year.

Although fundamentally pop at heart, hers is a soulful, emotive sound, equally suited to the uptempo funky numbers as it is the hushed instrument-light ballads. Highlights of the set included Sixes & Sevens, Lotta U, and latest single Do You Love Me, although to be fair, the all-round strength of her material is clear for all to see and hear after what has been a busy year of working on and releasing new songs for Stein. Continue reading

GALLERY: The Kooks, First Direct Arena, Leeds (23/11/17)

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The Kooks, Leeds, 23/11/17 (photo: Dani Blakeley)

The Kooks took to the road for their anniversary tour, celebrating a decade of their distinctive indie sound. Their set included most of the tunes from the Inside In / Inside Out debut album that started their career on such solid foundations.

They’ve lost nothing of their energy and style over the years, merely adding a confident swagger to the raw musicality of their live performance. Halfway through the show, the rock was halted for an acoustic section designed to make this arena gig feel a little closer to the intimate nature of their early dates. It sort of worked, but really they’re at their best at full volume, and it feels like it is that which has maintained their longevity thus far.

Photos: Dani Blakeley

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LIVE: Mystic Peach, Heartbreakers, Southampton (31/10/17)

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Mystic Peach, Southampton, 31/10/17 (photo: Ant Penny)

Opening Spinning Coin‘s recent Southampton show were local three-piece band Mystic Peach. Their energetic live show really warmed the small but appreciative group of music lovers up for what was to come.

Hearing them here, for me for the first time, I was captivated by their tight musicianship, energy, and ‘wall of sound’. The basslines were thick and powerful; the beautiful jangly-reverby-guitar sound was Johhny Marr-esque and the drummer added to all of this with simple grooves when needed, and technical flourishes and big cymbal washes where appropriate too.

The highlight of their set was the song Downtown with its disco drum beat and off-beat syncopated guitar juxtaposed with the aforementioned ‘wall of sound’ choruses. The people at fledgling venue Heartbreakers really seemed to appreciate this song and many were dancing or nodding along. Definitely keep en eye and an ear open for what these guys do next!

Review: Mike Vaughan / Photos: Ant Penny

GALLERY: DMA’s, First Direct Arena, Leeds (23/11/17)

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DMA’s, Leeds, 23/11/17 (photo: Dani Blakeley)

Aussie indie-rock outfit DMA’s more than set the scene in their support slot for The Kooks in Leeds recently. The three-piece – comprising Johnny Took, Tommy O’Dell and Matt Mason – made quite the impression on this high-profile set of dates and look set to make plenty of waves during 2018.

Photos: Dani Blakeley

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LIVE: COIN, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London (21/11/17)

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COIN, London, 21/11/17 (photo: Tabetha Parrick)

Playing their first UK show as part of The Great Escape First Fifty, American indie band COIN prove that they are most certainly ones to watch.

After the release of their second album How Will You Know If You Never Try? earlier this year, the indie four-piece embarked on a lively tour across the US – but now they’ve ventured overseas for the first time ever. Tickets sold out quickly for the small show in Hoxton, some fans arriving hours before the event, desperate to get a good spot for this historic moment.

There was an undeniable atmosphere of anticipation and excitement before the show, only matched by the euphoria when the band came on stage – opening with electric song Feeling. They played songs mostly from their second album, with frontman Chase Lawrence exclaiming his amazement that their international fans already knew the words.

His strong presence on the stage was undeniable, alternating between dancing, playing the piano and interacting with the crowd. Similarly, bassist Zachary Dyke, guitarist Joe Memmel and drummer Ryan Winnen couldn’t be seen without smiles on their faces – it was hard to tell who was more excited to be there, the band or the crowd. Continue reading

LIVE: PVRIS, o2 Academy, Birmingham (23/11/17)

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PVRIS, Birmingham, 23/11/17 (photo: Arta Gailuma)

US alt-rock outfit PVRIS played one of their biggest shows to date at the sold-out 3,000-capacity o2 Academy in Birmingham.

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PVRIS, Birmingham, 23/11/17 (photo: Arta Gailuma)

The three-piece – consisting of Lynn Gunn, Alex Babinski, and Brian MacDonald, from Lowell, Massachusetts – kicked off with their single Heaven to begin a set heavily-loaded with songs from their second album All We Know Of Heaven, All We need Of Hell.

The set also delved into some of their older material too, with some from their 2014 album White Noise. For songs both old and new,  fans were excited and energetic throughout, with a brief respite in the middle of the evening for the stripped back Same Soul.

The stage was set up with two drum sets; including one for Gunn, who added some drumming reinforcements at the end of Half, and also for the big finish for encore song No Mercy. It was a strong end to what had been a powerful and utterly compelling performance from a band whose cross-genre style has found a sizeable following and which has of late generated plenty of hype… the kind that in their case is absolutely warranted.

Photos: Arta Gailuma

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LIVE: JAWS, Engine Rooms, Southampton (18/11/17)

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JAWS, Southampton, 18/11/17 (photos: Phoebe Reeks)

Having released album Simplicity a year ago, JAWS took to the Engine Rooms in Southampton as part of their final touring cycle of this album. The Birmingham trio performed their dreamy indie-pop to a room packed with dedicated fans.

The moment the lights went out, letters spelling JAWS lit up, which got the crowd pumped. The band arrived on stage to rapturous applause, kicking the set off with Surround You, an energetic tune with catchy guitar riffs which got the crowd moving right from the off. Continue reading

LIVE: Jake Bugg, St David’s Hall, Cardiff (5/11/17)

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Jake Bugg, Cardiff, 5/11/17 (photo: Becca Egerstrom)

Another artist who has taken the acoustic option for their latest tour is Jake Bugg. The Nottingham musician released his fourth album Hearts that Strain a couple of months back and wowed his Cardiff fans with what was a very relaxed gig in a theatre-style venue. He was super casual too – just him and his guitar singing and talking.

It was a far from a conventional show, and all the better for it. Bugg was very good at interacting with the crowd, even at times entertaining requests from the back of the room persuading him to do a song on the spot without it having been rehearsed or on the setlist – Country Song was added to the list in this impromptu way. Continue reading

GALLERY: Liam Fray / Carnival Club, Albert Hall, Manchester (3/11/17)

The Courteeners frontman Liam Fray went back to his roots with a mesmerising solo acoustic set at Manchester’s Albert Hall last week. Long before enjoying the considerable success of his band, Fray initially developed his skills as a solo performer playing countless shows in and around the Manchester area from which he hails.

It was an intimate set-up, far removed from the raucous, full band set-up that fans will be more familiar with. But with the crowd singing back almost every word, what was lacking in volume was more than made up for in atmosphere.

Local four-piece Carnival Club provided the support, with a bold, confident set that belied their relative lack of experience of such large venues. Expect to hear/see more of this rock & roll outfit.

Photos: Dani Blakeley

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LIVE: Spinning Coin, Heartbreakers, Southampton (31/10/17)

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Spinning Coin, Southampton, 31/10/17 (photos: Ant Penny)

Spinning Coin hail from from Glasgow, and are currently on a UK tour to promote the release of debut album Permo. This gig was the third night of the tour, where they brought their eclectic mix of jangly guitar and vocal harmony laden anthems to relatively new Southampton venue Heartbreakers.

That word ‘eclectic’ seems to sum this band up, both in image and sound. To look at, they all could be playing in different bands; ‘bookended’ by the two most interesting-looking members: the keyboard player on one side, noticeable just as much for her Russian hat and dancing as for her keyboard playing, and the bass player on the other looking dapper with smart shirt and trousers, this wide variety of styles seems to sum up their diverse musical output too. Continue reading

LIVE: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, o2 Academy, Birmingham (28/10/17)

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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Birmingham, 28/10/17 (photo: Arta Gailuma)

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club kicked off a mammoth world tour in Dublin last month in support of forthcoming album Wrong Creatures (released 12 January 2018), and we caught them at Birmingham’s o2 Academy a couple of nights later.

New material was given an airing alongside their better known classics. Kicking off with new single Little Thing Gone Wild, the stage sunk in deep red light and smoke to set a suitably dramatic tone. The crowd started a little on the subdued side, but soon livened up, with the occasional drink flying high in the air over the crowd every couple of songs. Continue reading

LIVE: Little Dragon, o2 Academy, Bristol (30/10/17)

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Little Dragon, Bristol, 30/10/17 (© Sync Music Blog)

One of the bands close to the very top of our hitlist of acts to see live was Little Dragon, a group with a pretty phenomenal track record when it comes to innovative, inventive music. Formed in Gothenburg just over 20 years ago, the quartet have spent most of their career ‘below the line’ somewhat, rarely bothering the upper echelons of the charts. This is mostly to do with their material being more predisposed to a more selective, perhaps even cult following than the mass market, but it’s all the better for it.

Much of this live performance was given over to the kind of stuff you are very unlikely to ever catch on the radio. There was all sorts there though, from trip-hop to dream pop and indietronica to trance, all delivered in Little Dragon’s own unique world; an otherworldly place full of bright lights and neon, with lead singer Yukimi Nagano – whose occasional tantrums in the studio when the group first formed inspired what would later become the band’s name – an energetic and entrancing stage presence throughout. Continue reading

LIVE: Zara Larsson, Guildhall, Portsmouth (27/10/17)

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Zara Larsson, Portsmouth, 27/10/17 (photo: Becca Egerstrom)

While it may seem her career trajectory has been impressively steep, Swedish singer-songwriter Zara Larsson is no novice when it comes to this pop music lark. She has been a big star in her native country for almost half of her 19 years ever since appearing on Sweden’s equivalent of Got Talent at the age of 10.

2015 saw her break out internationally with the release of bouncing single Lush Life which topped the charts in several countries and acted as the forerunner of her album So Good, released in March this year. Collaborations with MNEK, Tinie Tempah and Clean Bandit have elevated her profile, cementing her considerable pop pedigree in the process.

It all makes for an impressive CV, but does she cut it live? Well, in a word, yes. Hers is a big, bold pop performance, complete with dazzling light display and impressively choreographed dancers. Performing most of the tracks from So Good, singles Never Forget You, I Would Like, Symphony, and Lush Life were perhaps unsurprisingly the stand-outs. Continue reading