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
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
US alt-rock outfit PVRIS played one of their biggest shows to date at the sold-out 3,000-capacity o2 Academy in Birmingham.
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
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
Supporting Clean Cut Kid on their current UK tour, Callum Beattie has been winning plenty of new fans across all parts of the country of late. We took a few shots of Edinburgh-born singer-songwriter Beattie and his band during the Southampton leg of the tour.
Setlist: Lost Souls / Shine On / Man Behind the Sun / Don’t Cut the Rope / Miracle / We Are Stars / Highlife.
Photos: Phoebe Reeks
Liverpool-based Clean Cut Kid brought their UK tour to Southampton to deliver an electric live set at The Loft. The crowd cheered with excitement as the band arrived on stage, and continued their considerable enthusiasm for the band’s indie-pop anthems throughout the night.
Runaway opened the set, an upbeat track which got the crowd jumping about and singing along instantly. They continued to power through an energetic set, performing songs from their debut album Felt, which was released earlier this year, including Stay, We Used to be In Love and Evelyn. Continue reading
London Grammar return to Manchester’s O2 Apollo for a second sold out show this week and the atmosphere is already electric as the trio head on to stage.
Throughout their set they have a perfect balance of tracks from their debut and recent album Truth Is A Beautiful Thing. But judging by this crowd you wouldn’t think it was released just over four months ago, because they know every single world. Frontwoman Hannah Reid herself notes that Manchester has been the loudest of the tour so far and it’s believable.
They play a stunning version of the album’s title track which sees Reid head to the piano and showcase her huge vocal range in an emotional performance before playing fan favourite Hey Now, which sees the group visibly impressed by how loud the audience are. Continue reading
It has been a pretty incredible 12 months or so for 22-year-old Londoner Dua Lipa. Her rise from relative unknown to major recording artist has come quickly, helped in no small part by an album packed with material that ranks among the most accomplished British pop music of recent years.
Her current ‘Self Titled’ tour – so named since her debut album is indeed self-titled – has seen her packing out venues around the UK with most dates sold out soon after going on sale. In Bournemouth, the clamour was clear, with the queue to get in going around the block. Once the show started, it became clear that the hype had plenty of substance behind it. Lipa was super-energetic, putting plenty of oomph into her performance throughout and transmitting that energy to the audience.
Her set saw her perform most of the tracks from her debut LP, including opener Hotter Than Hell, Blow Your Mind (Mwah), Be The One, and the collaborative tracks that have helped her raise her profile so effectively this year, namely Scared To Be Lonely, and No Lie.
This was a high tempo, superbly polished display, with Lipa’s wide range vocals flawless throughout, and a visual spectacle emphasised by a slick lighting set-up. It’s all a far cry from when we first saw her live back in 2015, performing at Bristol’s tiny Start The Bus venue (now HY Brasil Music Club) in front of a modest crowd of around 100. Although there was nothing lacking in her performance that night, she has certainly grown in stature and as a performer, with her strong material and powerful live show elevating her to the big league.
She wrapped things up with New Rules, arguably the best pop track of the year so far. It was also Dua Lipa’s first UK number one… and almost certainly it won’t be her last.
Photos: Becca Egerstrom
Pop-rock trio Banfi took to the stage at The Joiners in Southampton as part of their September UK tour. We first caught these guys live at Dot To Dot in Bristol back in May and they were one of the real gems of the line-up, impressing with an accomplished live show, so their tour was one we had to catch.
The set opened with Where We Part, a song which immediately got a cheer from the crowd and everyone singing along and dancing. This was followed by Answers and newest release, June.
A cover of Peter Gabriel’s Mercy Street came next, perfectly suited to their style and the delicate vocals of lead singer Joe Banfi. The band then continued to perform their original material, including signature tune Happy When You Go and Sync favourite She Comes Home. Banfi closed their set with Rosedale House with the crowd singing along and clearly gutted when it was all over.
Banfi are visibly at ease on stage, smiling and interacting with one another as well as the crowd. The band mentioned they have an album scheduled for release next year. If their live show is anything to go by, it’ll be an absolute must-have.
Review & Photos: Phoebe Reeks
Blaenavon put on an exciting and action-packed performance for their set on the Invaders of the Future stage at Bestival 2017. With the band hailing from various parts of Hampshire, lead singer Ben Gregory recognised familiar faces in the crowd as they performed so close to home.
The band owned the stage, performing several songs from their recently released debut album, That’s Your Lot, including My Bark is Your Bite, Let’s Pray and Orthodox Man as well as older song, Into the Night. The tent was packed out with fans singing along.
They closed their set with Prague 99, which the crowd really responded to, singing back the lyrics loud and proud. The song ended with a frenzy of guitar and drums as Gregory jumped off stage and got a little closer to the front row fans.
There’s no shortage of talk about Blaenavon right now. Believe the hype.
Review & Photos: Phoebe Reeks
Almost criminally underrated vocalist and musician Andrew Roachford first grabbed wider attention when a 1989 re-issue of his song Cuddly Toy hit number 4 in the UK charts. That and follow-up Family Man were two of the huge gems from his spellbinding eponymous debut album which was released the previous year – and still sounds fantastic almost 30 years on.
We’ve picked out a live version of a slightly later tune for our Backtrack however. Only To Be With You hit the UK Top 30 and was the lead song on the Londoner’s 1994 album Permanent Shade of Blue. This live recording reveals the energy and emotion that comes through in Roachford’s raw yet smooth, soulful voice and gives a hint at what fans can expect on his forthcoming UK tour which includes October dates in Southport (13 October), Leicester (14), Birmingham (20), Sheffield (21), Southampton (27), and Seaton (28), before heading on to a host of other destinations throughout November including Newcastle, Glasgow, London and Manchester. See Facebook for full listings and ticket links to these shows to catch an artist who really should be on everyone’s must-see list.
Roachford – Only To Be With You (Live)
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.
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.
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.
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