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
After seeing Pumarosa earlier this year at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen, I was somewhat surprised to see the band playing a venue as large as Gorilla seeing as they are still relatively under-the-radar. Their stunning debut album The Witch was released earlier this year via Fiction Records to widespread critical acclaim, so they have certainly earned their right to play a venue this big.
The band were delightfully warmed up by the completely bonkers VÏSTA, who burst onto the stage wearing a Christmas jumper, which he later removed to reveal a turquoise gilet. He then claimed that the stage was too dirty and coincidentally happened to have a broom with him to clean up. The pinnacle of his craziness was when he started a song by pressing the space bar on his laptop using a huge plank of wood. One of his songs, Whisper, featured the lyrics: “This bitch was Skyping me daily / stopping me from living my life / I want to do a Tom Daley / come out and do a 100ft dive”, which would sound equally at home on a grime track. He ended his set barefoot stood on top of a barstool… which is I’m sure is how many middle aged Mancunian revellers doing karaoke ended their night too!
Then, the venue was rapidly filled with a thick fog of dry ice, before Isabel Munoz-Newsome and co. took to the stage. Pumarosa began their set with Dragonfly, one of my favourite tracks released this year, featuring her hugely underrated, iconic guitar beating (if you’ve ever seen Pumarosa live, you will know what I mean…)
They really are an effortlessly cool band, so it’s not difficult to see why Depeche Mode chose them as the support act for their European tour early next year, or why Interpol invited them to be their support act in Mexico. Honey sounded brain-pummelingly, mindbogglingly incredible in a live setting. Lyrically, it discusses climate change and the politically turbulent time we are living in and musically, it is so euphoric and genuinely gave me goosebumps because of its sheer intensity.
Barefoot showcased Munoz-Newsome’s unique, hauntingly beautiful vocals and during The Witch, she danced around the stage in a ritualistic, ceremonial fashion. I have never witnessed a band other than Pumarosa who can so perfectly make their music sound like the end of the world and to put it simply, I want to see them headline Brixton Academy and there is no reason they can’t reach that level of success. Their music is dark, euphoric, sexy, mysterious, industrial, post-apocalyptic and so much more… certainly the power of their music felt far too much for the four walls of Gorilla.
Tracks such as Red and Priestess encouraged everyone to dance and people were visibly getting really into it and moving uncontrollably. Snake sounded cosmic with a hint of 90s and funk influences. For the encore, things took a classic rock turn for My Gruesome Loving Friend. Sadly, the band chose not to play Cecile, but then again, Pumarosa don’t play by the rules. And I love them for it.
Review: Conor Giblin
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
Here’s one for the jazz cats. Glowrogues are a Manchester-based group of phenomenally talented musicians, led by drummer and composer Jim Molyneux, bringing together jazz, hip hop and funk, with tight horns and serious grooves.
Drawing on their inspiration from artists such as The Cinematic Orchestra, Snarky Puppy and The Robert Glasper Experiment, the band is made up of budding talent from Manchester and Birmingham’s jazz scenes, featuring members of Cinematic Folk Septet The Old Dance School, the Beats & Pieces Big Band, as well as members of experimental jazz fusion trio Apes Grapes.
To mark the release of their new live album, they’re hitting the road. Do catch ’em live if any of these tour dates are anywhere near you: Liverpool (10 October), Manchester (12), Newcastle (16), Leeds (17), Durham (18), and Edinburgh (19). Ticket details here.
Glowrogues – White Lie (Live)
The second single from the forthcoming fourth album from Manchester band Everything Everything (released 18 August) is Desire, a bold, brash and unashamedly loud statement about society’s ‘want it now’ culture.
The song represents a big contrast to Can’t Do, the first release from the new album A Fever Dream and a former Sync Track of the Week, employing a musical backdrop akin to glam-rock, mixed with the bands ever-developing harmonies and bringing the distinctive falsetto of frontman Jonathan Higgs very much to the forefront.
Everything Everything – Desire
We’re fortunate to have a lot of new music come our way at Sync, plenty of it superb. But it’s rare that you get ‘that feeling’ when you hear a voice; the feeling that it simply has to hit the big time. That’s certainly what sprung to mind on first listen of Tom Walker‘s masterpiece Blessings.
The song is also the title track of a debut EP (released in May) that shows the versatility of his vocals, lending them with equal aplomb to stripped back ‘pure’ songs as well as more uptempo and highly produced tunes.
With a London headline show at Omeara and a slot at Glastonbury under his belt in recent weeks, the Scotland-born 25-year-old’s star is most certainly in the ascendancy, so we decided we simply had to find out more about Tom… Continue reading
One of a number of exciting music propositions coming out of Manchester right now, Puppet Theory have unveiled new track I, The King. Released today, the song is pop-infused indie with a hint of rock thrown in for good measure.
Puppet Theory – I, The King
Manchester-based art-pop foursome Everything Everything have dropped the first track from their forthcoming fourth album, and it’s an absolute banger.
Just as they made a big impact with the start of the campaign for their previous album with Distant Past setting the tone for a more urgent, feisty Get To Heaven than its predecessor LP Arc, Can’t Do certainly bodes well for what’s to come when A Fever Dream is released on 18 August.
The Sync-favourites are currently previewing a large slice of the new material at a series of intimate dates around the UK. They then perform a support slot for Foals at Cornwall’s Eden Project before hitting several festivals over the summer including Reading and Leeds and By The Sea in Margate. A full tour in support of A Fever Dream is expected in the Autumn.
Everything Everything – Can’t Do
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
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)
He’s been in the news today for a tabloid interview that we can’t quite work out whether it was tongue-in-cheek or not (I mean, does he really believe Justin Bieber is trying to copy him?!), but we recently took shots at James Arthur‘s recent sold out Manchester show as part of his extensive Back From The Edge tour. See also our review/photo gallery of his superb support from Matt Gresham.
Photos: Becca Arnold
Australian singer-songwriter Matt Gresham, has been making a big impression during his recent support slot on James Arthur‘s Back From The Edge tour. Gresham made his UK debut last summer with superb single Small Voices – and we spoke to him back then about his plans for making progress in the UK and Europe.
Gresham’s first break came on Australia’s X Factor, when in 2013 he quit the show citing the talent show’s artistic restrictions. Since striking out to pursue a more independent route, he has built himself a loyal following, winning over fans and critics alike in becoming one of the country’s hottest emerging talents. His song Whiskey, released in 2014, won Western Australian Music Awards ‘Song of the Year’. Last year, he played a string of showcases at SXSW and a sell-out Australian tour.
The past month though has been all about touring the UK with 2012 UK X-Factor winner Arthur. It’s been a different experience for him no doubt, performing solo to some sizeable venues when his live shows would usually involve a full band. But he rose to that challenge impressively well, grabbing the attention of all the early attendees during this Manchester show – strangely, a second night in the city for the tour having also visited earlier in the month.
Gresham will be releasing his debut album in August, and this tour was very much a preview of some of that material, although there were some familiar songs in there, including Survive On Love, Ghost, and Sync favourite Small Voices.
Now back in Oz for a couple of live shows in early April, he has described the past month or so touring with James Arthur as “the best time of my life”. But there’s little doubt he has plenty of good times ahead as more and more people discover the music of this talented singer.
Photos: Becca Arnold
It’s hard to believe that American pop punk outfit All Time Low have already racked up six studio albums – with number seven on the way in the shape of Last Young Renegade, due out on 2 June.
This was a chance for fans to see them in a smaller venue following last year’s Manchester Arena show and their set included a varied mix of old and new material, although with an emphasis on some of the more well-known favourites rather than too much emphasis on tracks from the forthcoming LP.
Opener Kicking & Screaming was followed by Weightless, Somewhere In Neverland and Six Feet Under The Stars. Beach balls were released into the crowd during Somethings Gotta Give, a track from their 2015 album Future Hearts, keeping those closest to the stage especially entertained for the middle section of the set.
There was the obligatory cheesy mobile phone flashlight moment during Therapy when batteries were drained to help illuminate frontman Alex Gaskarth while he did his thing. That track aside, the pace never really slowed throughout, although there were several other stand-outs. Take Cover and Dirty Laundry certainly scored highly in the crowd-singalong stakes.
During final song of the night Dear Maria, Count Me In, from their 2007 second album So Wrong, It’s Right, Gaskarth and Jack Barakat handed their guitars to their crew before taking up positions on the barrier to sing with fans, giving some of their most fervent devotees a bit of up-close-and-personal time.
Full of energy and showmanship, it’s really rather reassuring to see that these guys have lost none of their live show spark after 14 years in the business.
Photos: Becca Arnold
Swedish pop artist Tove Lo brought her show to Manchester as part of her UK tour, kicking off her set with two of the strongest tracks from her recent album Ladywood. True Disaster is a brilliant start as its fiery beat is just as powerful as the lyrics in which she exclaims “pretty boys, they didn’t teach me things I didn’t know“, her first of many social commentaries over infectious pop hooks, this time a statement on today’s over-emphasis on physical appearance.
Then she goes straight into the album’s title track, with lyrics about a couple who are being judged but pretty much not giving a f**k, a point the crowd here are getting behind.
The popstar struts up and down the stage rocking her high waisted 70s-style silver pants with Ladywood embellished on the back as she blasts through more from the latest album, and later changes into a disco ball-style jacket, a party outfit which is a great tie in with her dance-ready anthems.
She harks back to earlier tracks with Not on Drugs and one of the highlights of the night Talking Body which shows off her ability to write a banging pop tune. But as well as her knack for pop, the lady is known for her outspoken attitude on female sexuality and that’s no more apparent than when she cooly and uninhibitedly lifts her top up to huge cheers from the crowd – it’s something she regularly does at her live shows, making the point that if male rock stars can perform topless then why can’t women?
There is slight lull mid set where she disappears for a quick change – but her enthusiastic band keep up the momentum. She returns for Imaginary Friend, during which she takes charge on the keyboard on a song about loneliness in the public eye and music industry.
It seems her thrust into the media has been a rough one – she started out writing with pop royalty Xenomania for other artists before finding herself front of stage – and with that comes criticism, particularly for a strong-willed female.
She amps up the energy again on another teary dance anthem WTF Love Is before Cool Girl – the earworm electropop banger which suffered an injustice for not topping the charts around the globe – finishes up the set ahead of an encore.
She apologises to the Manchester crowd for a number of gig cancellations over the past couple of years in the city, something that was mostly out her hands. But they seem more than pleased that she’s finally here as the energy in the room replicates the leading lady on the stage.
She finishes up on her breakthrough track Habits (Stay High) for a much more chilled out version as she winds down her dance moves and lets the crowd take over.
Tove Lo is clearly leading the new wave pop pack with her fellow unashamedly honest and fearless contemporaries who, although perhaps not topping the charts, are certainly connecting with the right crowds.
The anticipation is short as an infamous techno song drops when the lights go out and Two Door Cinema Club enter the stage to blast through summer anthems Cigarettes in the Theatre, Undercover Martyn and Do You Want It All? This Liverpool crowd don’t need warming up as they immediately lose it simultaneously.
After the first four tracks it is obvious that 2010’s Tourist History is going to dominate this set despite the tour supporting recently-released third LP Gameshow. The group play their debut album in its entirety – with the exception of You’re Not Stubborn – and it’s no surprise because the tracks are still as strong now as they were back then, clearly finding a newer, younger audience along the way.
A showcase of Gameshow, their long awaited album, comes but it’s only short as they get back to the indie pop anthem crowd pleasers like Something Good Can Work.
The crowd sees a mix of ages, 20-somethings who grew up listening to the group because of TV shows like Skins or their first Reading and Leeds Festival experience, an older crowd who enjoy the light and feel good sound of the Northern Irish trio, and a student crowd who look at music from 2010 as, ‘vintage’ perhaps, after discovering the group.
During Ordinary, the pretty spectacular stage set shines – a light show that could make stadium shows envious – with colours and images matching their wonky pop sound.
A quick mention of the support act Sundara Karma who keep the momentum and energy high ahead of TDCC’s arrival. They’ve been touring and on the festival circuit for a couple of years now, picking up a following on the way. They look set to follow in similar footsteps as TDCC and that’s evident here as the crowd sing to arena-ready anthems She Said and Flame as if they are the main act they’ve come see.
But back to the headliners, the set built up to perhaps one of the most radio friendly hits I Can Talk which sees mosh pits, dancing, singing and plenty of sweat in the packed out Student’s Guild in Liverpool.
After a quick step-off stage Liverpool want them back for an encore. Anteros lead singer joins the guys to play Sun before they finish up with Someday and What You Know, the first an indie ballad that has the crowd chanting like they’re watching a headline set at a festival with no inhibitions and the latter being a time to party as people are propped on shoulders and the dancing starts again.
Two Door Cinema Club have the strong foundation of a debut album that has the ability to appeal for years to come, that’s clear tonight in the sold-out Student’s Guild, as they deliver a festival-style show to a dedicated crowd in a venue that’s way too modest for their huge performance.
Words: Johnny Yates / Photos (from the band’s Manchester show): Kitty Riddell