Reading Festival, 25th-27th August 2017 (Festival Review)

So Reading (and Leeds) Festival is over for another year and this year’s festival was a huge success. The event, held at Richfield Avenue, took place from Friday 25th August to the 27th August and was headlined by Kasabian, Eminem and Muse. There were a couple of (not so) secret sets over the weekend too, including appearances from Wolf Alice and Queens of the Stone Age (who will no doubt be back next year, perhaps the latter as headliners).

Here are my highlights:

Friday

The Magic Gang¬†played a triumphant late morning set on the BBC/NME Stage to set off an exciting weekend of live music. The Brighton band played an enthusiastic and energetic set, filled with previously released songs- including ‘All This Way’ and ‘Jasmine’- as well as their latest single ‘Your Love’.

If you haven’t seen Declan McKenna¬†in 2017 then I don’t know where you’ve been! He’s played pretty much every UK festival and Reading and Leeds was no exception. The 18-year-old played his first ever Reading and Leeds set (having attended Reading for the past two years) on the BBC/NME Stage to a packed out audience. McKenna sang songs from his debut album- What Do You Think About The Car?– and jumped into the audience a few times in the set, with the first time unsuccessfully ending up in the middle of a mosh pit. McKenna laughed off forgetting the words to ‘Paracetamol’ and continued to gleefully run around the stage as the audience sang, cheered and clapped along. Declan McKenna knows how to excite an audience.

Anne-Marie might not have seemed an obvious choice for Reading Festival, but by the sheer amount of people who turned up to see the ‘Rockabye’ singer she’s clearly a popular one. The singer played a mixture of singles, including ‘Do It’ and ‘Alarm’, and lesser known songs, before ending with the hit-singles ‘Ciao Adios’ and a stunning version of Clean Bandit’s ‘Rockabye’, which she features on. The audience were in awe as she sang pitch perfect songs and as she jumped into the crowd to take selfies with the audience.

It’s been quite a year for Two Door Cinema Club. Last year they headlined the BBC/NME Stage and now they’re creeping up the Main Stage line-up, with a new album and countless tours under their belts. Two Door Cinema Club know how to put together a good setlist, which featured hit after hit and a copious amount of fan favourites. They always put on a good, feel-good show.

Bastille brought the Wild Word tour to Reading Festival, with brilliant visuals and stories of politics and life laced throughout. The band played songs spanning their back catalogue and the radio-hits from their latest album. The drumming on Pompeii was an obvious highlight, as the audience loved singing along.

British rock band You Me At Six¬†closed the first day of the BBC/NME Stage. The set- which featured huge pyrotechnic displays- was plagued by technical difficulties, which prompted a spine-tingling acapella rendition of ‘Lover Boy’ from the album Sinners Never Sleep. The band played under a sea of mobile phone lights and lighters during ‘Take On The World’, before bringing guitar lead rock hit after hit to the Reading Stage. The band treated fans to songs from their debut album- Take Off Your Colours– ahead of its 10 year anniversary next year, with front man Josh Franceschi telling his desires of wanting to do an anniversary tour next year. The band were on top form that night.

Saturday

The not-so-secret secret act Wolf Alice¬†played to dedicated fans and festival goers at 11:00am on Saturday morning. The set was incredibly lively with famous fans, label mates and onlookers (including The 1975’s Matty Healy and Slaves’ Isaac Holman) stood side of the stage. The band played songs from their 2015 debut album, My Love Is Cool, and showcased new songs from their forthcoming second album, Visions of a Life,¬†including the singles ‘Yuk Foo’, ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Don’t’ Delete The Kisses’. The atmosphere was incredible.

Blaenavon¬†played the BBC/NME Stage early on in the day. The band brought That’s Your Lot to Reading Festival and treated the crowd to their mature, alternative music. The band played songs including ‘Orthodox Man’, ‘Let’s Pray’ and the stunning ‘Prague’ before front man Ben Gregory jumped into the crowd.

Dan Stock¬†played on the BBC Introducing Stage. Singer songwriter Dan Stock stood solo centre stage and played as if he were playing to an arena. His lyrically clever and satisfying songs echoed that of Alex Turner and his assured stage presence commanded the respect of Jake Bugg, Declan McKenna or Liam Fray. With the aid of a band (eventually) he could become pretty huge. He’s definitely one to watch.

A couple of weeks before Superfood¬†released their triumphant ‘comeback’ album Bambino¬†the band played Reading Festival. The festival gave a platform for the band to showcase songs from the upcoming album, including ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’, ‘Double Dutch’ and ‘I Can’t See’, throughout which they encouraged the audience to dance. The band also played tracks from their 2014 debut album Don’t Say That, including the song ‘Superfood’.

Ahead of their biggest UK tour to date (which features shows at London’s O2 Brixton Academy) Sundara Karma delighted the Reading audience to a spectacular homecoming show. The Reading band played a no-gimmick set filled with tracks off of their (now extended) debut album, Youth is Only Every Fun in Retrospect, which was released earlier this year. The band opened up the Main Stage at Reading Festival last year in what turned out to be a career defining performance and this felt like a triumphant progression. Sundara Karma are continuing to make waves with their effortlessly cool, alternative music and the fans sure are loving it.

Everything Everything¬†played a lot of their new album A Fever Dream¬†at this year’s Reading Festival. The band’s set featured heavily a lot of new tracks, including the single ‘Can’t Do’, with the odd fan favourite peppered in to the audience’s excitement. The highlight of the set was the weirdly wonderful ‘No Reptiles’, with its absurd, yet clever lyrics and infectiously catchy nature, with songs like ‘Distant Past’, ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Spring Summer Winter Dread’ also loved by the fans. It’s great to see Everything Everything back with refreshing new material though, even if it seems relatively toned down compared to what came prior to it.

Glass Animals¬†are a band so powerful that they brought on an entire pineapple ban at this year’s festival. The Oxford band brought How To Be A Human Being to Reading with it’s chilled out, psychedelic (almost) tracks and performed in front of the world’s largest golden pineapple disco ball and a plethora of pineapples and cacti on stage. The ban on pineapples did not stop fans from smuggling the odd pineapple in, as those successful sat holding their prize goods high on top of the shoulders, commanding proud applause. The band opened up with the gloriously energetic ‘Life Itself’ and closed with the song that brought on an entire fruit ban, ‘Pork Soda’. Front man Dave Bayely even performed the entirety of ‘Gooey’, from their debut album, stood in the crowd. It was a sight to behold.

Sunday

Ten Tonnes played to a packed out tent full of festival goers on the Festival Republic Stage. The singer songwriter graduated from The BBC Introducing Stage, which he played last year, onto the Festival Republic Stage in a move that felt fitting with his growing audience. Ethan Barnett- as he’s formally known- is gathering momentum, with his catchy, easy to love, feel-good songs.

Up and coming London band¬†King Nun¬†played a raucous Sunday afternoon set on the Festival Republic Stage, where they showcased previously released singles including ‘Speakerface’ and ‘Tulip’. Their punk riddled indie-rock music proved popular with the young crowd who jumped, danced and moshed accordingly.

The Sherlocks returned to Reading Festival for the third year, having progressed up to the BBC/NME Stage this year. The tent was filled with fans and flares and had a similar feeling of excitement to that of a Courteeners concert. This came a week after their debut album, Live For The Moment, was released, so the band treated fans with hit after hit from the album.

Will Joseph Cook¬†brought his gloriously, sun-kissed indie-rock tunes to a blissful Reading Festival late on a sunny Sunday afternoon. His set rivalled Giggs’¬†on the Main Stage- who brought pop/hip-hop sensation out Drake– and the atmosphere in the tent was chilled out in comparison. He played a whole host of songs from his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, and also treated fans to songs from his earlier EPs.

Blossoms¬†played a tricky set before Liam Gallagher on the Main Stage. Blossoms are a band completely capable and worthy of playing huge stages, but this felt as though they were swimming against the tide, with crowds refusing to participate, Muse fans sitting about in preparation for the evening, huge lack of singing, support and engagement with the audience. The band seemed to pick up on this and it all felt a bit depleting. Having said this, the Stockport lads delivered a set full of the hits- with everyone going crazy for biggest hit ‘Charlemagne’- from their debut self-titled albums, with the usual gimmicks thrown in for good measure. I could probably recite the whole set by this point; it’s quite predictable now!

Liam Gallagher¬†performed a gallant set on the Main Stage at Reading Festival before headliner Muse. The icon, clad in his usual green trench coat, sunglasses and iconic haircut, sang Oasis hits (including ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’) and songs from his forthcoming debut album, As You Were,¬†which is due for release in October. Gallagher ended his set with the indie classic and obvious anthem ‘Wonderwall’, which saw fans of all ages united in song. Liam actually sounded top of his game though and seemed as happy as ever.

Halsey played the BBC/NME Stage whilst her North American tour mate Charli XCX brought her iconic pop hits and bubble-gum pop to the Dance Stage. Charli XCX played surrounded by pink confetti, dancing blow up ‘people’ (I suppose) and her all-female band and brought the party to the festival. The tent overspilled with people jumping and dancing all around. Definitely a highlight.

Haim closed the BBC/NME Stage at Reading Festival with a spectacular headline set. The band’s performance was a year over-due, as they cancelled their headline slot last year due to wanting to finish up their new album, but it was definitely worth the wait. The band played hits from their first album- Days Are Gone – and their latest album, Something To Tell You. The set featured a lot of dancing, bursts of humorous chat, a bucket full of bass face and the most captivating drumming display ending. Definitely a huge highlight over the weekend.

Overall, it was another great Reading Festival and the strong line-up proves why the festival is still going so strong after so many years. The good festivals do it properly and well, setting them miles apart from the rest.

 

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Reading Festival, 25th-27th August 2017 (Festival Review)

June 2017- What I’m Listening To

A month of festivals, tour announcements and new music (thank God).

Firstly, Rat Boy are finally releasing their debut album. The record is called Scum, which we already knew after Jordan Cardy (Rat Boy) teased it at Reading Festival last year. The record is out on the 11th August 2017 and features the previously released singles ‘MOVE’, ‘GET OVER IT’, ‘REVOLUTION’ and ‘FAKE ID’.

The Killers are back with a new album and single. The band are set to release their sixth sutdio album, entitled Wonderful Wonderful,¬†later this year. The band released the catchy lead single, The Man, simultaneously to the record announcement. The single channels Two Door Cinema Club’s funky 2015 album, whist remaining iconically infectious, like most of The Killers songs are. ¬†They’re also set to tour the UK in Winter this year, following their surprise Glastonbury set.

Everything Everything have announced a new album,¬†A Fever Dream, which is due to be released on August 18th. The band also released lead single ‘Can’t Do’, which is equally as fascinating, mad and marvellous as their previous material. I love the absurdness of Everything Everything songs, which often include one absolutely brilliant, strange line, which is madly catchy.

Mystery Jets are set to release a remix EP, called The Electronic Earth EP. Key tracks have been remixed and reimagined from their 2016 album Curve of the Earth,¬†especially to dance to and “shed new light on the material”, according to the band’s website.

Wolf Alice have released the raucous ‘Yuk Foo’ (or, err, “Fuck You”, as the song’s lyrics transpire) as the lead single from the second album, Visions of a Life, which is due to be released later this year. The single is explosive, angry and intriguing. You can’t tell a lot about how the album will pan out on just one song, as usually their songs are vastly different throughout- and that’s what makes them brilliant.

George Ezra has also released the lead single from his imminent second album. The single- which he debuted on his recent UK tour and is now a staple on his 2017 festival setlists- ¬†is called ‘Don’t Matter Now’. It’s infectiously happy, upbeat and filled with summery, laid back vibes. It’s gloriously optimistic and I love it. I was lucky enough to hear his 2017 festival setlist at Wildlife Festival (his first festival of the season no less) and at Glastonbury and it’s great to hear our George performing such wonderful new tracks. I can’t wait for the album.

Lorde has announced a September UK tour, which includes a date at London’s prestigious Alexandra Palace, as well as dates at the Brighton Centre and at a string of O2 venues across the country. She will be supported by Khalid.

Reading’s Sundara Karma have also announced a September/October UK tour, which features a HUGE date at the O2 Academy Brixton. It’s so exciting watching Sundara Karma get bigger, especially after the release of their triumphant debut album earlier this year. The band are on their way to big things.

Blaenavon have also released a tour (with The Night Cafe). The tour kicks off in November and features a date at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. These dates are set to be special, especially after the success of their debut album, That’s Your Lot, which was released earlier this year.

Just when you think there could be no more tour announcements… The Libertines released details of a seaside stop UK. The tour features dates in Brighton, Blackpool and Scarborough. I’m hoping the band showcase some new material, as a follow up to 2015’s Anthems For Doomed Youth.

Reading and Leeds festival have announced details of their Alternative Stage line-up. The stage offers a break from the music, with comics, speakers and DJs.  The line-up features DJ sets from Blossoms, Circa Waves and The Big Moon, as well as a Transgressive Takeover. The line-up also features comedy sets by Bill Bailey, Katherine Ryan and Joe Lycett.

Glastonbury Festival announced earlier in the month that Liam Gallagher and Johnny Depp were amongst the latest faces to join their mega 2017 line-up. The festival itself has since gone by in a flash and was a huge success. The festival was headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran and featured secret sets by the likes of The Killers and Elbow. Highlights across the weekend include the spectacular Lorde, Scotland’s finest Biffy Clyro and Blossoms. A full review will follow.

In July, I look forward to Finsbury Park’s first Community Festival (headlined by Catfish and the Bottlemen, with The Wombats, Slaves and Fickle Friends amongst loads of great acts) and the long awaited release of Declan McKenna’s debut album. There’s also Haim’s new album, which is set to be good.

This month I’ve listened to a lot of Anne-Marie’s brilliant ‘Ciao Adios’, which is already soundtracking my summer, as well as the Clean Bandit hit she features on- ‘Rockabye’- having seen her play at BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend. There’s also the summer hit that is Little Mix’s ‘Power’, which I’ve been enjoying (in various layers of guilty pleasure) since Big Weekend. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Everywhere’s latest single, ‘Man Up’, who are my new band of the month in June. I’ve also been loving Declan McKenna’s ‘Paracetamol’, as well as bit of Blondie. There’s also a lot of Lorde on this playlist, especially ‘The Louvre’, which I recommend you listen to at full volume on repeat for full effect.

 

June 2017- What I’m Listening To

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull 2017 (Review)

This year‚Äôs BBC Radio One‚Äôs Big Weekend was held in Hull, at Hull‚Äôs Burton Constable Hall, on the 27th and 28th May 2017. The free music festival was jam packed with the biggest and hottest names in the music industry and was a huge success. ¬†Katy Perry and Kings of Leon headlined the two day bank holiday weekend event, with acts like Two Door Cinema Club, Bastille and The Amazons playing across the weekend. It’s always one of the most fascinating and exciting music festivals of the summer, for where else can you watch Kings of Leon, Little Mix and Twin Atlantic all within a matter of hours?

I was lucky enough to attend the festival on the Sunday this year and the day was full of glorious pop music and all things Radio 1. Bands and artists played short hit fuelled sets (exactly the sort of thing you’d hear on the radio) with the station’s DJs playing in-between sets.

Here are my highlights (a very small selection of them)-

Little Mix opened the main stage on the Sunday. The X-Factor winning girl group played a phenomenal confetti filled set, full of all the hits (that you’d know even if you don’t- or rather won’t admit to- like), dancing timed to the second and huge, captivating graphics. It was totally feel good and empowering and distinctly awe-inspiring for the many families in the crowd. Little Mix are very clearly the biggest girl group in the music industry currently and what they’re doing for music is very significant, even if you don’t like it personally. The set felt special and unifying (especially considering the huge amounts of families, mainly children, in the crowd) after the tragic events in Manchester, which happened a matter of days before.

Bastille brought their worldwide tour (in support of their latest album, Wild World) to a sunny Hull and played an energetic afternoon set. The band played sing-a-long hits from their first album, Bad Blood, including ‘Flaws’ and the iconic ‘Pompeii’, as well as a whole host of songs from their UK number 1 2016 second album, Wild World. The highlights of the set was definitely when the single ‘Good Grief’ was played to a backdrop of post-modern, satirical, futuristic collage graphics.

Pop sensation Shawn Mendes brought illuminations to Hull with his Sunday set. Mendes brought all the hits to Burton Constable Hall in what transpired to be a huge sing-a-long spanning all ages. He played a selection of songs from his new album Illuminate, including the singles ‘There’s Nothin’ Holding Me Back’, ‘Mercy’ and ‘Stitches’. It was the Radio sensation’s first ever festival performance and he performed it with ease.

Brighton’s brilliant rock duo Royal Blood played a huge set headlining the Where It Begins stage at Radio 1’s Big Weekend. The band played what could’ve been an arena show to a packed out tent, just before the release of their second album How Did it Get so Dark?¬†(June 16th 2017). The band played a blend of stunning instrumental and memorable hit, including ‘Two Tonne Skeleton’, ‘Little Monster’ and ‘Figure it Out’ (from their 2014 debut album Royal Blood). The band also played new single ‘Lights Out’, which was met by applause from the eager crowd.

Scotland’s finest Twin Atlantic played the Where it Begins tent on Sunday afternoon to a captivated audience. The band played a riff filled set featuring songs from all four of their albums, including the latest album GLA (which was released last year). Frontman Sam McTrusty was full of energy as he leapt into the crowd and crowd surfed at the end of the set. Twin Atlantic are one of my personal favourite live bands ever because the energy their shows give off is just electric. You just have to experience it.

Alternative icons Circa Waves brought sun-kissed tunes and an overdue dance session to the sunny Hull festival. The band, who are consistently brilliant live, played a short set filled with songs from their 2015 debut album, Young Chasers, including ‘Fossils’, ‘Stuck in my Teeth’ and the fan favourite ‘T-Shirt Weather’, as well as a handful of tracks from their latest 2017 album, Different Creatures, including the mosh-pit inducing ‘Fire That Burn’s, ‘Goodbye’ and the single ‘Wake Up Call’. It was definitely one of the highlights for me.

Stockport’s finest Blossoms brought their huge debut album tour to Hull, one year on from their return to the festival as special guests on the BBC Introducing Stage in Exeter. Blossoms played a set filled with crowd pleasing hits, including ‘Blow’, ‘Blown Rose’ and ‘At Most a Kiss’. Like at ever Blossoms show, the band dedicated acoustic hit ‘My Favourite Room’ to a member of the crowd who had “recently been dumped”, an appreciated gesture. Lead singer Tom Ogden effortlessly merged the ending of the song into an impromptu mash-up of Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’ and Oasis’s ‘Half The World Away’, which the crowd loved. The band played latest single ‘This Moment’ (featuring Chase and Status) at the end of the set, before ending with the indie anthem ‘Charlemagne’, which never fails to excite a crowd.

The day was headlined by American rockers Kings of Leon, but their set was slightly lack lustre, bar the handful of iconic anthems the band have, which the audience and atmosphere made entirely. The band, whilst still sounding brilliant in instrument, played a 50 minute long set, which saw the audience consistently disintegrate throughout the set. The band’s iconic status made their headline set fitting, but their lack of connection to the mainly young, radio listening crowd seemed uncomfortable and awkward in part. It seemed as though the set was a year too late, as the hype for their latest album, Walls, had somewhat fizzled out. The band are set to headline British Summer Time in July though.

Overall the weekend was brilliant with plenty of huge sets. I’d like to mention how brilliant the tail end of Anne Marie’s set was (with the singer performing hits such as Christmas number one single, ‘Rockabye’, which was originally sung with Clean Bandit and latest single ‘Ciao Adios’), how fascinating Christine and the Queen’s captivating dancing was and the star filled Clean Bandit set, which was perfect for a Sunday afternoon dance.

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull 2017 (Review)