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
A warm, sultry Friday evening in London got even hotter in the basement environment of Birthdays in Dalston, East London. The biggest show so far by emerging soul-pop trio Rumours saw this compact venue packed out and enthralled by an hour-long set that included sublimely chilled out tunes alongside more uptempo material.
Comprising Mark Borgazzi (vocals/keyboards), Federico Bigonzetti (drums) and Marion Solheim (vocals), the band are earning a reputation for finely-crafted songs characterised by a real depth of feeling achieved through wonderful harmonies between the vocals of Borgazzi and Solheim. We’re always keen to discover whether the recorded version of this magical vocal skill can be replicated on the live stage, so it was great to hear them nail it wonderfully on the night.
The set built nicely, from a low-key but solid first half through to a much more upbeat second. So Bad, Invitations and I Do It All were particular highlights – along with new single Hunter – but there were no weak links here. It was an impressive performance for a band still in its relative early stages.
They promised an eager crowd that more new material was on the way soon. If they can create more along the lines of what’s gone before then a very bright future lies ahead… and that’s more than just a rumour.
See also: DISCOVER… Rumours
We never tire of banging on about Fickle Friends. Not only have they put out a string of ridiculously catchy tunes over the past year or two, but they’re also a superbly polished-but-fun live proposition. We saw them late last year during their own headline UK tour (see review) but were so pleased to be able to catch them again, this time in support of The Kooks.
They made an impression with all their radio-friendly hits, including Swim and Cry Baby, with latest banger Hello Hello being a particular highlight. Catch them at a festival this summer if you can – they’re doing the summer big-time with appearances at Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape, Secret Garden Party, Kendal Calling, Leeds and Reading. They’ll be capping that off with their biggest headline show to date at London’s o2 Forum in Kentish Town on 26 October – tickets here.
Photos by Phoebe Reeks
The Kooks returned to the O2 Academy Bournemouth for a sold-out date on their The Best Of… So Far tour, a mammoth 17-date run of shows that concludes on 13 May at London’s Alexandra Palace.
They rattled through many of their best-known tracks from a back-catalogue of music stretching back over a decade, including Eddie’s Gun, She Moves In Her Own Way, Sofa Song, and Junk of the Heart (Happy), as well as newer material such as current single Be Who You Are.
The Kooks have forged a solid reputation for strong songwriting and engaging live shows over the years since forming in Brighton more than 10 years ago. Frontman Luke Pritchard was in great form, clearly enjoying this extensive return to the road.
Other highlights of the set included Seaside, Always Where I Need To Be and Ooh La ahead of an encore consisting of Around Town and Shine On before ending with signature song Naïve.
The release of a ‘best of’ album and tour can often signal the beginning of the end for a band – a precursor to winding down and fading away. But everything about this triumphant performance suggested that there’s still plenty more to come.
Review and Photos: Phoebe Reeks
West London four-piece The Wild Things were top of a four-band line-up at Cargo, one of the locations that makes up something of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to decent music venues in Shoreditch, East London.
Their set was somewhat truncated by late-running earlier acts but they made the most of their time nonetheless. They were loud and energetic, with strong vocals from charismatic frontwoman Syd White. They deserve bigger crowds, and given time they’ll surely get them.
You can catch them this month; again in London (9 May) and also in Brighton (19 May). Tickets here.
Photos: Jessica Piochon
If there was some way of harnessing the energy in the room from a gig like this then it would probably solve many of the world’s energy issues at a stroke. Showcasing tracks from their debut album Beyond Repair, Blood Youth metaphorically took the roof off Tufnell Park’s Boston Music Room.
They kicked off with Making Waves before launching through much of the album, including Savanna, I Remember, and Parasite. Their fairly short but very sweet set ended with the epic single Reason to Stay. It was a triumphant gig – thankfully without any of the unwanted drama of the previous night’s show in Leeds which was curtailed when a fan suffered a serious leg injury during the gig. This time around, the high octane fun was allowed to run it’s full course, safely but at full speed – and maximum volume.
Photos: Jessica Piochon
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
It was as recent as November that New York duo Phantogram were last in London as one of a few dates on a UK tour. This time, their stopover was even more brief as it was the only UK show of their European tour. Last time they packed out the ‘under the arches’ venue Heaven, but this time around were in the somewhat more spacious environs of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire… not that it felt especially spacious, with a close-to-sell-out crowd packing out the stalls.
Their particular brand of bombastic beats, rock riffs and swirling synths puts the band in a fairly unique place – too dark to be considered pop, yet not really a natural fit for the rock, electronic or indie tags either. Lyrically, the tone is certainly on the bleak side, but that’s counterbalanced with a fierce, high octane sound that makes their live show such a compelling one.
A little late to the stage – as seems to be their style – Phantogram rattled through a 75-minute set that was full of energy and volume. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter manage to keep the between-song chatter to a minimum. Sometimes, this can create a sense of aloofness from a band but somehow, they still seem to manage a strong connection with fans old and new. The setlist kept fans from both camps happy too. There were tracks from the early days such as Mouthful of Diamonds and When I’m Small from 2009 debut album Eyelid Movies, as well as a generous helping of new material from most recent album Three, including Same Old Blues, Destroyer, and Run Run Blood.
They saved the best for last though with a three-song encore that capped the evening superbly. Firstly, Carter took up the vocal duties for the intense and mesmerising Barking Dog, before what was perhaps Barthel’s peak moment of the night with the wonderfully-sung Cruel World. They wrapped up with their uptempo anthem You Don’t Get Me High Anymore, performed with the kind of bounce and swagger that’s only possible when a band knows it has a seriously great song to end with.
Circa Waves brought their UK tour to London, showcasing second album Different Creatures. Their largely sold-out 12-date run comes to an end this week with shows in Norwich (3 April) and Cambridge (4) before the four-piece from Liverpool set off across Europe for the next few weeks.
They will be figuring at festivals throughout the summer, as well as some massive support slots later this year with the likes of Radiohead, The xx and Eminem. So we thought we’d grab the chance to shoot them in action in North London…
Photos: Jessica Piochon