Heading up the final of four days of music at Sidmouth’s Fringe Sessions, Flyte had plenty of live up to. The standard across the whole programme had been extremely strong, with the likes of Bryde, Tors and Stone Roots among others setting the bar high. The band rose to the challenge superbly though, wrapping up this wonderfully initmate event in triumphant style.
The four-piece from Hampshire – comprising Will Taylor (lead vocals, guitar), Sam Berridge (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Jon Supran (drums, backing vocals) and Nick Hill (bass, backing vocals) – have been honing their considerably talents for a couple of years now, supporting the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and being booked for festival slots at Reading & Leeds, and Wilderness Festival. Continue reading
It all sounded so promising. A pretty impressive line-up of bands old and new in a city centre location, the inaugural Hope & Glory Festival had all the makings of a special weekend. Sadly for many, it turned into something of a nightmare. Continue reading
Less than a week since releasing his debut album What Do You Think Of The Car?, it came as little surprise to find that Declan McKenna‘s fans knew all of the words to each of the songs he performed during this sold out in-store set at London’s Rough Trade.
Kicking off with Isombard, the 18-year-old singer-songwriter rattled through a host of songs from the new album, including singles Brazil, Bethlehem, Paracetamol, The Kids Don’t Wanna Go Home, and Humongous. In a generously long set for an in-store show, he included album tracks Make Me Your Queen and Listen To Your Friends, as well as earlier song Brew from the Stains EP.
He then showed no less enthusiasm during the course of an hour-long signing and photo session with fans. His on-stage persona is somehow both confident and slightly awkward at the same time but make no mistake, McKenna’s highly impressive debut album is backed up with his equally strong live showing, suggesting that this prodigious talent will be making waves for the long term.
For a band that has been around in one form or another for over 20 years, the Hot 8 Brass Band remain something of a best kept secret for many. Their current tour of the UK is in support of new album On The Spot and although interest has been piqued by last month’s performance at Glastonbury, there’s still much to discover about their unique blend of hip-hop, funk and jazz all wrapped up in the marching band style so closely associated with their hometown of New Orleans.
The backbone of the whole show is band leader Bennie Pete, whose sousaphone is not only a striking visual aspect to the band, but provides the low bassline on which the rest of the sound is built. Frontman and trumpet player Alvarez Huntley is the on-stage spokesman for the group, leading the crowd into as much audience participation as he can by urging them to wave their arms and sing along – but only singing when he says so!
No-one was going to argue with him, such was the positivity and infectious energy in the room. In fact, it’s hard to know how they manage to keep the whole thing going as one seamless thread for the duration of their 90 minute set, with virtually no breaks between songs. The music itself was supercharged throughout, with a mixture of their own material as well as a host of covers all given the ‘Hot 8’ treatment. Among the best of these were the Snoop Dogg track What’s My Name and the Marvin Gaye standard Sexual Healing.
It’s hard to think of a more unique act on the circuit right now. If you have an opportunity to catch them at one of their remaining festival dates this year (including Truck Festival in Oxfordshire and Tramlines in Sheffield) then best make them a priority.
Irish-American Celtic punk band Flogging Molly brought their energetic show to Birmingham and made it a night to remember for fans of all ages.
The venue filled up nicely during the run-up to their appearance on stage, and yet the balconies remained comparatively empty – clearly this was one of those evenings for jumping around in front of stage and letting your hair down rather than simply observing from afar.
It was a very mixed crowd to say the least, with fans ranging from teenagers to 60-somethings; from sweet and innocent looks to big, muscly, tattooed guys. There were also plenty of Flogging Molly / Eire / Shamrock t-shirts – many with various witty sayings – on show.
During the intro musicians gather on the stage and the band starts the night with The Hand Of John L. Sullivan, a song from their recently released sixth studio album Life Is Good. These Celtic punk rockers are a treat for a photographer like me who loves vast, crazy, jumping around, grimacing artists, but it is hard to pick a point to focus on. In each corner of the stage there is something going on and that’s how it was for the entire set which was full of energy. Centre of attention though, is Dave King, the fun-loving frontman who was sure to take a sip of two of Guinness between each song.
They finish the main part of the set with the fast-paced Seven Deadly Sins, before thanking the public and disappearing backstage. The crowd is left stomping the feet, clapping hands and shouting. They clearly haven’t had enough so the band return to the stage with a new song Crushed (Hostile Nations) and finish off with the high tempo Salty Dog, during which the dancefloor turns into a mosh pit and drinks are flying up in the air. The LA-based band wave their goodbyes while King promises to return to Birmingham next year before unifying the crowd by leading the time-honoured singalong of Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. It was an optimistic, life-affirming end to what was an utterly rousing evening of raucous fun.
Review & Photos: Arta Gailuma
Some singers just have a mysterious, beguiling air about them. Whether it’s down to the beautifully smooth and multi-faceted voice or bewitching stage presence, Kyla La Grange had this Friday night Thekla crowd in the palm of her hand from the moment she walked on to the very end of her hour-long set.
The Watford-born singer showed off her incredible versatility, equally adept as she is at low or uptempo dance-infused material, emotionally-charged ballads – and even at one point towards the end of proceedings, full-on rock. Her material broadly spans the pop genre, albeit predominantly of the darkside variety, but there is also a bedrock of folk in what she does, and the combination of all of this is what makes her show so special.
Her set included material from across both of her albums – 2012’s Ashes and Cut Your Teeth from 2014 – as well as new songs, including Love Harder and Violet Blue both released this year, and Justify from late 2016.
It is perhaps the Cut Your Teeth album that best signifies the sound that La Grange really excels at. Her voice fits so perfectly with the atmospheric electronica backdrop created by the genius DJ and producer Jakwob, so it’s no wonder that the show ended with the title track from that album. It was an uplifting end to a very special performance.
Kyla La Grange – Justify
Despite being a pretty big deal in her homeland, Swedish singer Tove Styrke has remained mysteriously under the radar in the UK. With this, her comeback gig after a period of time in the studio, she did much to further the mystery of why she isn’t more up front and centre, with a powerful, high tempo performance that suggests she should be on a far bigger stage – metaphorically as well as literally.
Her long-standing domestic profile is due in part to a third-place finish in Sweden’s version of Pop Idol back in 2009, but the music that immediately followed that TV experience in her youth is a far cry from where this sassy lady is at nowadays. New song Say My Name offers a good handle on the strong and creative approach to pop that Styrke is taking, but her hour-long London show was nicely varied, stringing together a mix of material old and new.
Kicking of with Samurai Boy and Borderline from her second album Kiddo, she followed that with another from the same LP, Ego, which is arguably the most accomplished song of her career up to this point.
She excitedly announced that she had a couple of new songs to play for the first time, and they went down a storm; Mistakes and On The Low giving some indication that her third album will represent another major step forward for her material, full of hooks and energy.
She returned to tracks from Kiddo, mining the album for Who’s Got News, Number One, and Snaren before launching into new tune Say My Name, which was delivered with panache as the crowd sung the lyrics back to her. But it was encore tune Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You which really sums up what she is all about. Bold, confident and fun – it’s pure pop… and she’s brilliant at it.
We caught Sundara Karma‘s headline set at the Bristol leg of the Dot To Dot Festival the other week and they certainly justified top billing. Frontman Oscar Pollock brought his usual formidable stage presence to proceedings which, as well as all the hits from their album Youth Is Only Fun In Retrospect, also featured all the mess you might expect from the firing of two huge confetti cannons.
Up-and-coming Leeds four-piece Marsicans brought their indie-pop vibe to Southampton for the first time ever, to play at The Joiners.
Their set opened with Arms of Another, a massive track which instantly got the crowd interacting with the band, singing and dancing along. They went on to play a few newer songs including Wake Up Freya – a more stripped back song compared with their more typically dancey tunes – as well as their most recent single, Friends, which was released earlier this year.
The set concluded with popular songs Far Away, Swimming and Absence which were guaranteed to make you move with their infectious guitar and drum beats.
You could tell that the band were truly enjoying themselves from the moment they stepped on stage, and that positive energy spread to the crowd. It’s hard not to get swept along with it all, with songs that are full of hooks and which most certainly transfer well to the live stage.
The group formed in 2014, and are slowly but surely beginning to get the recognition they deserve. There’s no doubt about the future looking positive for the band, and hopefully we’ll be hearing more tunes from them in the coming months.
Marsicans will be joining Natives on their upcoming tour this month. Tickets here.
Words and photos: Phoebe Reeks
For Canadian pop outfit Marianas Trench, May was a particularly busy month. The band’s Final Countdown tour [Europe – geddit?!] took in much of Europe in a marathon 17-date tour in support of latest album Astoria and recent single Who Do You Love (check out the video for that track too!).
With a set made up primarily of tracks from the new album plus a smattering of older material, the band are clearly made for the live show, bringing a real sense of energy and excitement to their music, which itself is a seemingly impossible blend of 80s rock/metal, 70s glam and contemporary pop. It sounds like it should never work but it really does, and makes for a memorable evening out.
The band will be in action again in their home country over the coming months, playing a string of festival dates in Canada during July and August.
Photos: Becca Arnold
Performing as part of the Bristol leg of the Dot To Dot Festival, The Big Moon brought their spiky, vibrant indie-rock to a full capacity SWX. It was unsurprising that they drew such a crowd – the group has been earning high praise while extensively touring debut album Love In The 4th Dimension. But the considerable hype surrounding Juliette Jackson’s band is not unjustified; their live proposition is particularly impressive.
As is always the case with festival sets, their show was all too short and sweet, but they crammed the favourites into their half hour timeslot, including Formidable, Cupid and ending with the superb Sucker. There was also a brilliant cover of Madonna’s Beautiful Stranger – a great song, given a cracking twist by the London four-piece.
Flyte returned to Winchester to perform their dreamy indie-pop to a packed Railway Inn. This was essentially a hometown show for the lads, with the room being filled with family and friends as well as fans.
The show opened with the band performing a stripped back cover of Archie, Marry Me, by Alvvays. They then went on to play an old favourite, Closer Together before performing a string of unreleased material due to be featured on their upcoming debut album. The crowd listened intently and danced along to these songs they’d never heard, and sang along to more recent singles Echoes and Victoria Falls and old song Harley Street.
The band also performed their own rendition of Wings of Love in which their bassist, Nick Hill and drummer, Jon Supran switched their instruments for lead guitar. I felt this, mixed with the band’s harmonising vocals throughout the night, really highlighted their talent.
Their set finished with the first song they wrote together, Faithless, which the crowd went wild for. After three years together, the band announced they have recently recorded their debut album in Australia, which we should hear more about next month.
Words and photos: Phoebe Reeks
Upcoming indie four-piece, The Magic Gang proved that they are very much ones to watch at a lively show at London venue Heaven.
After the release of their third EP – the imaginatively titled EP Three – the group ended their UK tour by playing to an enthusiastic crowd in the capital. Opening with song Lady, Please, fans were already alive with energy in the pit. This continued through old song She Won’t Ghost and single All This Way as the crowd swayed back and forth in time to the melodic guitar riffs.
Who said guitar music was dead? Certainly not these four, as they play indie anthem after indie anthem with the full heart and soul of the crowd accompanying them. Feeling Better and new single How Can I Compete provoked an enthusiastic response from the fans, as some took to crowd surfing in a desperate attempt to get closer to the front. Lead vocals were shared by members Kristian Smith and Jack Kaye as they sang bittersweet lyrics like ‘And I really wanna know if it’s alright because it’s getting really hard to tell’ from single Alright – words that speak to any heartbroken teenager.
The Magic Gang – How Can I Compete
It shows that these four are destined for greatness as the energy from both the fans and the band could barely be contained in the small London venue. Hopefully looking to release an album sometime in 2017, The Magic Gang have big things ahead of them.
Words and photos: Tabetha Parrick
Almost a month after the release of his debut album Sweet Dreamer, Will Joseph Cook played his biggest show to date at London’s Heaven.
He opened with the title track from the album, a song that radiates energy which was reflected back from the crowd. Going on to play tune Plastic followed with single Take Me Dancing – no one was standing still in the venue. He went on to ask if anyone knew what day it was just before playing the song For Thursday, adding that he had been waiting all tour for that opportunity.
Cook’s melodic voice filled the venue as much as he filled the stage with his presence, taking breaks from dancing only to play guitar. All eyes were fixed on him as he got fans to crouch down during the verses of song Alive only to jump up during the chorus ready to shout the words “it’s good to be alive” at the top of their lungs.
However it wasn’t all upbeat party tunes, with the singer playing heartfelt ballads Water’s Gone Cold and Habit towards the end of the set. It was a captivating moment as he stood alone on the stage singing with hundreds of voices in the crowd.
He looked like he was enjoying himself as much as his fans, saying “I’m trying not to make long speeches between every track but it’s very hard. It’s such an exciting time to be releasing music. I just want to say thank you.” And an exciting time it was, finishing with songs Biggest Fan and Beach (I Wanna Make You Mine) – both instant classics from the album – and everyone was singing along.
It’s Will Joseph Cook’s own words that capture perfectly what everyone in that venue was thinking by then: “Look around us, this is fucking mental.”
Words and photos: Tabetha Parrick
One of the most exciting emerging pop acts of 2017 proves why she’s worth the hype at her second ever headline gig.
Sigrid kicked off the show with some unheard tracks including Go to War and later Raw which stand on their own against the already-known material giving the crowd a glimpse of what’s to come in the next year. As she quips that she’ll ‘crack on’ and asking if her British slang is right she kicks her huge raspy vocals into gear for Plot Twist, another stellar pop song matching up to her debut, which carries throughout the set. During this track she catches sight of some fans in the audience who know the words and bounds across the stage looking shocked at the thought that anyone would – but with the catchy choruses and infectious production it’s no real surprise.
The comparisons to Lorde are clear when you listen to Sigrid’s tracks as there is a hip-hop influence in both production and lyrics – Don’t Kill My Vibe is a clear nod to Kendrick Lamar’s mainstream pop culture influence – however seeing Sigrid live that’s where the comparisons begin and end. Her high-energy is something to envy and she throws shapes to each beat of the huge pop tracks including her previously mentioned breakthrough hit.
Not surprisingly, the empowering anthem has the biggest reaction of the night as the lyrics ‘You shut me down, you like the control. You speak to me like I’m a child’, offer solace to anyone being undermined by friends, lovers or bosses. In Sigrid’s case it was born after being patronised by male writers in the studio and of that came a warning in Don’t Kill My Vibe – she is an artist who shouldn’t be underestimated.
An encore prompted by her backing band (who all seem to be enjoying this set as much as she does), sees Sigrid perform a stripped back song which she apologies for but says Savage In Our Blood is an “important song” to her. As she references populists in the unheard track, her voice soars with emotion, she is once again showing her ability to write a pop track with depth. It could be open to interpretation as it seems to be a commentary on the currently unstable political landscape which is something many young music listeners are looking for right now – a voice fighting back.
She tells us this is only the second ever headline Sigrid show and it’s obvious that she’s enjoying every second of it. The shock on her face as the crowd sing back tracks like Plot Twist and Fake Friends proves she may not quite realise the waves she’s currently creating amongst her listeners and just how damn catchy her songs are. It’s exciting to see a young performer on the verge of great things and looking ready to smash any stage she stands on winning over crowds across the globe. And most importantly, she has the pop bangers to back it up.
Words and photos: Jonny Yates
Sigrid – Don’t Kill My Vibe (Live – Vevo dscvr)