March 2017- What I’m Listening To

March was yet another glorious music month filled with festival announcements, new music and brilliant live music.

Lorde is finally back with new single ‘Green Light’ and it’s taken a while. At first ‘Green Light’ was uncomfortably different, but once you’ve heard it a few times it becomes a wonderfully sublime, boldly fearless track, with a prominent beat and¬†strong keyboard. It’s unafraid, unexpected and urges you to dance. Lorde also announced a new album, Melodrama, which is due to be released on June 16th. The album follows her 2013¬†stunning debut album, Pure Heroine, which demands your undying attention in all it’s brilliance.¬†Lorde showcased the heartbreaking song ‘Liability’, a few days after the release of ‘Green Light’. A lot of the album was inspired by Lorde’s breakup, which happened when she was writing the album. Along side the songs, she’s recently been announced to play a whole host of festivals globally, including Glastonbury, as well as a scheduled appearance at Coachella, in April.

Alt-J are also back with new single ‘3WW’. The track features Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice, in what feels like a huge uniting of two huge indie forces. It’s irresistible laid back feel, with acoustic guitar intertwined with a classic Alt-J twist, and theatrical love tale telling lyrics make it something not to be overlooked. The band ¬†later released the song ‘In Cold Blood’, which retains a signature Alt-J feel. They also announced the release of their third album ‘RELAXER’, which follows the 2012 Mercury Prize Award winning album,¬†An Awesome Wave, and 2014’s This Is All Yours. The album is due to be released on June 9th this year.

Ed Sheeran had a pretty good March, too. He released his number one, multi-record breaking album, Divide. The album is quite something. You won’t be able to escape it! I reviewed the album, which can be found here.

The Happy Mondays have announced a mega tour at the end of 2017. The Manchester band have announced a 25 date UK tour, which features huge dates in London and Brighton. The greatest hits tour is set to be big.

March was a big month for Kasabian. The Leicester lads announced a new album (with the most brilliant album artwork), called For Crying Out Loud, which is due to be released on the 5th May. They also announced new single ‘You’re In Love With a Psycho’, along with a music video (featuring Noel Fielding and dancing in a psychiatric hospital, which has recently come under fire), as well as a short April UK tour, which sold out very quickly, unsurprisingly, and features three sold-out nights at the O2 Kentish Town Forum. This comes after an announcement that the band will headline Reading Festival in August.

The album announcements keep coming, with London Grammar also announcing a new album- Truth is a Beautiful Thing- which is due to be released on the 9th June. The band released the title track as the lead single.

Last month, at the Brit Awards, The Chainsmokers unveiled what could potentially be the song that defines summer 2017-¬†‘Something Just Like This’, in collaboration with Coldplay. This month, Coldplay have announced a brand new EP, which is set for release on June 2nd (June is currently shaping up to be a brilliant month). The EP is set to be the “sister release” to the band’s latest album, A Head Full of Dreams, which was released in 2015. The EP features new “non-single” ‘Hypnotised’, which is pretty deep-cut and slow for a Coldplay single. The EP will also feature ‘Something Just Like This’, as well as three other new, unheard tracks and I can’t wait to hear it. The band will tour with this EP, including dates in Wales.

Rat Boy still hasn’t released an album, but he has released a brand new single- ‘Revolution’- ahead of his upcoming UK tour, which features a huge night at Camden’s prestigious Roundhouse. The song is one of Rat Boy’s best yet. The song has a chorus worth chanting, it’s pretty huge. The lyrics echo tales of youthful life and the pitt falls of our generation, something laced through most of his songs. Now… when’s that album coming?!

The Kooks have announced a ‘best of’ album to accompany their ‘best of’, greatest hits (so far) tour, which kicks off in April and leads through May this year. This comes 10 years after their stunning debut album, Inside In/Inside Out,¬†which holds a special place in my heart and soundtracked a fair bit of my childhood. The album comes out on the 19th May. The band have also released new single ‘Be Who You Are’, which remains loyal to the band’s classic sound (it sounds quite Catfish and the Bottlemen… or rather, do Catfish sound a bit like The Kooks..?!). The band are supported by Clean Cut Kid and Fickle Friends on tour later this year.

There have been many festival announcements this month including Latitude Festival¬†(13th-16th July. Headlined by The 1975, Mumford and Sons and Fleet Foxes. Other artists announced to play include Fatboy Slim, Glass Animals and Declan McKenna), fully sold-out¬†Truck Festival (21st-23rd July. Headlined by The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and The Vaccines. Artists announced this month include The Big Moon, Deaf Havana and Hinds), Brighton’s mammoth¬†Great Escape Festival (18th-20th May. Newly announced 150 artists including Fickle Friends, RAT BOY and Strong Asian Mothers),¬†Boardmasters¬†(9th-13th August. Headlined by Two Door Cinema Club, Jamiroquai and Alt-J. New artists to announce include Idris Elba and Wretch 32).

This month’s most anticipated festival announcement was the longly awaited first Glastonbury Festival line-up announcement. The festival, which runs (officially) from the 21st-25th June, will be headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters, and Ed Sheeran. The line-up announcement included artists like Katy Perry, Biffy Clyro and Lorde, as well as Royal Blood, George Ezra and Boy Better Know. The legends slot will be played by Barry Gibb (of Bee Gees fame). Gibb played a song with Coldplay when they headlined in 2015. Although this is literally a fraction¬†of the artists playing across the weekend, the line up is shaping up quite nicely and I can’t wait to see who else is announced.

Aaaand Palma Violets are believed to have split this month. The Lambeth band¬†released two brilliant albums (180 (2013) and Danger in the Club (2015)) – which featured such delights as ‘Best of Friends’, ‘We Found Love’ and ‘Rattlesnake Highway’- and quickly became one of my festival¬†favourites. I fondly remember watching the band play William’s Green at Glastonbury in 2015, before watching Kanye headline on the Saturday evening. The band played the most fascinating, energetic, mad, raucous set I’ve ever seen (I’ve not seen anything quite like it since) and the euphoric feeling having seen it all play out, as if it didn’t happen. It was all topped off by a huge stage invasion (which saw one of my dad’s work colleagues on the stage). It was unforgettable and one of the greatest highlights of my first Glastonbury. They’re a band I will miss.

In other sad news, Chuck Berry has died aged 90, on the 18th March. The rock ‘n’ roll legend leaves a huge legacy of influential rock ‘n’ roll music, which will undoubtably go on to inspire generations to come.

This month’s playlist includes The Black Keys (who I’ve been listening to a lot lately, off the back of Dan Auerbach’s solo album intention announcements), Tom Odell and Alt-J (who are proving to be the perfect revision band). The playlist also features a lot of Ed Sheeran (sorry.)

 

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March 2017- What I’m Listening To

June 2016- What I’m Listening To

June- the month of new releases, reunions and festivals.

Let’s start with the rather unexpected comeback from The Strokes. At the end of May, Julian Casablancas (lead singer of The Strokes) debuted a new track, “Oblivius”, on his SiriusXM radio show. The new track came after an announcement that The Strokes would release an EP called the ‘Future Present Past EP’, on the 3rd June, which would be their first release since ‘Comedown Machine’, three years ago. The EP was released on the 3rd June and featured three tracks: ‘Oblivius’, ‘Drag Queen’ and ‘Threat of Joy’. They played the Governors Ball festival in New York City on the 3rd June. Their new material is edgy and effortlessly cool. It’s guitar laced classic indie rock and I love it. I can’t wait to hear more of what the band will release over the next few months.

June didn’t disappoint on the album release front either, with releases from artists and bands like Tom Odell,¬†Spring King and Jake Bugg. Tom Odell’s stunning follow up album was the perfect reinvention of classic Odell. Whilst he still manages to get the piano in many of the songs, Odell is less dependant on the piano and ventures away from the keys throughout the album. “Wrong Crowd” is a bold move, but it works and he sounds great (“exquisite” even, if you ask my dad). The same can be said for Jake Bugg’s third album, “On My One”. “On My One” is an eclectic mix of old, country laced classics intertwined with many an upbeat anthem, a ballad or two and, surprisingly, a rap, which is perhaps best forgotten. It’s one of my favourite Jake Bugg albums and I can’t wait to see him on tour in November. Spring King, too, have released an album. “Tell Me If You Like To” was released on the 10th June. Its raucous, raw sound, with hints of Palma Violets, makes it an interesting, yet thrilling, listen.

Bastille are also back. The band released “Good Grief” on the 16th June and also announced that they are set to release an album, ‘Wild World’, on September 9th this year. The album follows their debut album,”Bad Blood”, which was released three years ago (in 2013), and will be followed up by a UK arena tour, where the band are set to play huge areas like The O2 in London, as well as a huge string of festival sets. “Good Grief” is infuriatingly catchy. It’s an incredible track which has been stuck in my head since its release. If the rest of the album is anything like this then we’re in for a treat!

As if this wasn’t enough, Jamie T has released a song, too. On the 29th June 2016 Jamie T unveiled latest single “Tinfoil Boy” from his ¬†upcoming album, “Trick”, released on September 2nd. The album has a set of supporting concert dates, too, which sees Jamie T (whose real name is Jamie Treays) play three nights at the O2 Academy Brixton. “Tinfoil Boy” is¬†quite vocal for T, but it has huge echoey lines and hooks¬†reminiscent of earlier material. I can’t wait to hear what else he has to release.

Following a weird stint playing undercover comeback shows as a band billed as “a tribute to Two Door Cinema Club”, Two Door Cinema Club have debuted a new song called “Gameshow” (which was not played at any of the comeback shows) and another new song, and upcoming single, called “Are We Ready? (Wreck)”. The single is from their upcoming album ‘Gameshow’, released October 14th. “Are We Ready? (Wreck)” is a song I find very exciting. It’s upbeat and refreshing, with hints of classic Two Door Cinema Club. The sung “na na na na…” bit reminds me of Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries”, if you wanted a very distanced comparison, and I can imagine huge crowds singing back the lyrics (are we ready? Hold it steady).

On the first of June, The 1975, once again, hit us with a cryptic clues and a countdown. The band announced that they would play their biggest ever show in December this year, but, frustratingly, kept the location secret. Many speculated a date at London’s prestigious O2 Arena and they were spot on. The 1975 will play, to a sold out arena, The O2 Arena on the 16th December 2016. They promise to include “expanded visuals and a brand new set list including songs that have never been played live” and noted that their performance is “constantly evolving” and will “fuse art and technology to create a unique live experience”. I am beyond excited to see how this will play out. The band latterly released arena dates encasing this one in December, which includes another date at The O2 Arena. The 1975 also released the cinematically stunning video for “Somebody Else”. I’d love to delve into and explore the video further, but overall it’s a sympathetically shot video with brilliant and clever nods to past videos. It’s quickly cut, honest and clever. I like it.

In June, for my birthday (19th June), I saw Coldplay at Wembley Stadium. Coldplay are a live band who never get boring. It’s amazing how after constant touring they can still put on fascinating, encapsulating and almost perfect performances, which are never short of the odd, well handled hick up. The band genuinely seem to be having the time of their lives and looked genuinely grateful that people were still out and supporting their band. They managed to entertain a crowd which easily spanned three generations. They were incredible.

Obviously no June post would be complete without mentioning the formidable Glastonbury Festival. There’s nothing I love more than spending the weekend covered in mud with good people, good music and good tasting (yet probably not healthy) food. The festival was headlined by Muse, Adele and Coldplay, with the Sunday tea-time legends slot going to Jeff Lynne’s ELO (who have just released a one off date at Wembley Stadium on the 24th June 2017). Other acts across the weekend included Tom Odell, Wolf Alice, Madness and Jess Glynne. It was an incredible weekend and I could go on about it for ages. You can catch up on the blog posts here!

Other notable festivals from June 2016 included Shoreham’s Wildlife Festival, headlined by Disclosure and Rudimental, and The Isle of Wight festival, which both looked incredible.

This month’s playlist includes songs from artists I saw at Glastonbury, new releases from this month and some golden oldies. It also includes artists like Christine and the Queen, who I have been listening to a lot this month, as I’m baffled by her incredible talent. There’s also a bit of Viola Beach (having seen Coldplay’s emotional Glastonbury tribute) and Adele, of course.

 

 

 

 

June 2016- What I’m Listening To

Glastonbury Festival 2016- Sunday 26th June 2016

This is the fourth and final Glastonbury Festival 2016 blog post! You can find the introduction here, Friday’s post here and Saturday’s highlights here. All of the sets mentioned across the blog posts are still available to (re)live on the BBC iPlayer for the next few weeks too.

The Sunday of this year’s Glastonbury Festival was headlined by firm favourites Coldplay, their fourth headline set at Worthy Farm. The legends slot went to none other than Jeff Lynne’s ELO and other notable acts across the day included Bear’s Den, Years & Years, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Beck.

Mystery Jets have been around years, so it’s unsurprising that they walked out on stage to an overflowing tent full of fans of all ages. They stated that one of the best shows they’ve ever played happened at Glastonbury festival and this came close to beating it. This show was in support of their latest album “Curve Of The Earth”, released this year. They played songs such as “Bombay Blue” and “Telomere” from it, but the firm fan favourites still remain as “Two Doors Down” and “Young Love”, both of which are from 2008’s “Twenty One”. Their set was brilliant and the band seemed to have just as much fun as the fans did!

This year’s Sunday tea time legends slot was filled by Jeff Lynne’s ELO. They’ve just¬†done a UK arena tour and have recently announced, off of the back of Glastonbury, a huge one off show at London’s prestigious Wembley Stadium. The band played songs from their impressive back catalogue which spans over 40 years. The band played songs such as “Evil Woman”, “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “Livin’ Thing”, which the audience enjoyed. They played with an operatic back up singer, who sang at various points of the set. The highlight of the set, obviously, was the hugely popular and influential “Mr Blue Sky”. Whilst the set was mostly lost on me, just hearing ELO play “Mr Blue Sky” made my weekend. The song is one which was played frequently throughout my childhood and it’s a song I love so much. The sky, however, was far from blue as it drizzled throughout the set, but our rain ponchos were (which sort of made up for it, I suppose).

Years & Years are one of the most current and progressive bands on the scene. Their music, dance infused, was perfect for the for a dull and drizzly afternoon, which was brightened by Olly Alexander’s (lead singer) unapologetically bright rainbow coloured outfit and tassley jacket. They played songs from their brilliant first album “Communion”, which was released last year, including “Take Shelter”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “King” and “Desire”. There was also a cover or ‘mash-up’ of Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Drake’s “Hotline Bling”. This set comes almost exactly a year after the first time they played Glastonbury, on the John Peel Stage. They’re gradually working their way up the festival line up. The band performed on the weekend of gay pride. Olly Alexander did an inspirational and clearly emotional speech about his sexuality and the problems and fears he faces with it. He opened with “I am gay, very gay” and suggested we all “shove a rainbow in fear’s face”. ¬†The band walked off stage to rainbow confetti, having been joined by dancers for the final two songs.

The best time I’ve ever seen Catfish and the Bottlemen was at Glastonbury last year. I’ve seen them a few times since and never have they lived up to the time they played Glastonbury. This year they returned to Worthy Farm with a Brit Award (for Best British Breakthrough Artist) and a new UK number one album, for “The Ride”, which was released in May. The band seem to step up a notch when they play Glastonbury, as though they’re out to win fans (and their set did just that). The band cleverly curated the perfect setlist by infusing songs off of their stunning debut album, “The Balcony”, with songs from their latest album, “The Ride”. ¬†They played songs, such as “Kathleen”, “Pacifier” and “Cocoon”, from their debut album and seamlessly intertwined them with songs like “Soundcheck”, “Anything” and, latest single, “7”. Like usual, they opened the set with “Homesick”, the first song off of “The Balcony”, and closed with “Tyrants”, the closing song from “The Balcony”.Van McCann (lead singer) is an incredible front man and expresses the true gratitude the band have for being able to play festivals like these. Catfish know how to effortlessly pull of a huge set like this and cement their right to play at the festival. I wouldn’t be surprised, given a few more years and albums, if they were soon able to headline festivals like this.

American singer-songwriter Beck played the tricky slot before Coldplay on the Pyramid Stage. Throughout the weekend we had questioned who he was and how capable he was of filling such a huge slot when none of us could name anything he’d done, but Beck is one of those artists who, when they begin to play, you seem to know every single song of. The set was mad, energetic and full of surprises. He played songs such as “Loser” (which, shamefully, I knew from Glee), “Sexx Laws” and “Dreams”. He even managed an encore of “Where It’s At/ One Foot In The Grave”. The set was something you had to see to believe. It was odd, but brilliant.

Coldplay headlined Glastonbury for the forth time this year. They play off the back of the release of their latest album, “A Head Full of Dreams”, and a sold out stadium tour, which featured four sold out shows at Wembley Stadium. The band brought their huge production to Worthy Farm, with over 100,000 ‘xylobands’ distributed throughout the day for the crowd. Despite the huge number of bands given out, I never managed to find one (which I’m still gutted about and, yes, it did dampen the set for me, as I didn’t feel as involved from a purely aesthetic view). The band played songs spanning their impressive seven album collection. It was a nostalgic set, especially as they played songs such as “Fix You”, “Yellow” and “A Sky Full Of Stars”, all of which were incredibly emotional. The band played many songs from “A Head Full Of Dreams”, too, including the title track to open (following a controversial Charlie Chaplin speech), “Hymn For The Weekend” and “Adventure Of A Lifetime”, where Chris Martin (lead singer) encouraged everyone to “get down” despite the mud and jump up together on the count of three. The band played “Everglow”, but had to restart as Martin’s piano was out of tune. They ended the song by playing a clip of Muhammad Ali, another highly emotional tribute.

At this point, I’d like to talk about something beyond incredible that Coldplay did. I had heard speculation of a Viola Beach tribute taking place during the set prior to the festival. I was unsure about this at first, thinking they were just “jumping on the band wagon” to look respectable. I was not, however, expecting them to do what they did. The band began talking about when they first played the festival on what is now know as the John Peel Stage and how they were thankful for the incredible new music which passes through the festival and that year every year. They went on to tell of how sad they were of hearing the deaths of the formidable up and coming band Viola Beach and how they were sad that they were never given the chance to do something like headline the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. The band then said they would like to let Viola Beach have the opportunity to headline Glastonbury and let a recording of their song “Boys That Sing” play on a huge LED screen at the centre of the stage. The band joined in to finish the song at the end. It was extremely moving and I did, admittedly, cry throughout. Viola Beach were an incredible talented band, who, no doubt, would’ve gone on to play at the festival countless times. What Coldplay did was incredibly special (they said they would usually have done a Bowie tribute at this point) and exemplified the type of attitude we need towards new music. I was amazed and moved by this.

The set was jam packed full of amazing surprises. The band played an extended five song encore. They usually take a request from those in the audience and this time was no different, however they took a request from Mr Glastonbury, Michael Eavis, himself. They asked him which band he would like to headline and he said “The Bee Gees”. Barry Gibb joined Coldplay on stage to play two songs, “To Love Somebody” and “Stayin’ Alive”. The whole crowd sing along to “Stayin’ Alive” was quite something and the atmosphere was second to none, which doesn’t necessarily come across through the recordings. They then played “A Sky Full Of Stars” to falling star confetti and, finally, “Up & Up”, with Martin’s children Apple and Moses singing backing vocals. Martin stopped just before the end and said he wanted to continue playing. Eavis joined him on stage to sing a wonderful cover of “My Way”. This was, again, quite emotional and fun. It was brilliant and embodied the family spirit of Glastonbury. I’m sure it would have been lost on many of those watching at home, but Michael Eavis is a key and foundational part of the festival, obviously, and this was nothing but special to see. His performance was slightly better than the time he sang “Happy Birthday” with Stevie Wonder. “Up&Up” was reprised before the end and that concluded a stunning set and overwhelmingly brilliant weekend.

Coldplay are a band who know how to play festival and big venues. I hope this is the fourth of many more Glastonbury headline sets as their production and songs are a firm favourite on the farm with the Eavis’ and audience alike. They had to battle with the brilliant Jake Bugg and Grimes on the other stages.

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Glastonbury Festival 2016- Sunday 26th June 2016

Coldplay- Wembley Stadium, 19/06/2016

On the 19th June 2016 Coldplay played the fourth and final sold out show at the prestigious Wembley Stadium. They played a incredible set full of songs spanning their impressive seven album catalogue. This tour was in support of their incredible latest album “A Head Full Of Dreams”. They were supported by the entertaining rockers Reef and the effortlessly cool and chilled out Lianne La Havas.

I grew up, often subconsciously, with the music of Coldplay. I remember countless car trips where we listened to Coldplay and most of the time not even knowing it was Coldplay- they’ve been around since forever (or so it seems). There was a time when Coldplay weren’t “cool” because your dad liked them but now, with the rise in popularity of older bands, like The Stone Roses, it’s almost acceptable to admit you like to revel in a bit of Coldplay now and then- even if it is a guilty pleasure. The latest album, “A Head Full Of Dreams”, is an excitingly refreshing record (perhaps more upbeat to the others) and this tour seemed the perfect time to exercise just how good they actually are.

Chris Martin had had a “shit day” apparently, but this set wouldn’t have suggested so. In the light drizzle, a video on screen played of all the places they’ve already played on this tour already, from South America to Europe, before an introduction and welcome to the Wembley Stadium show by two members of the audience holding the Union Flag. They burst into”A Head Full Of Dreams”, unfazed by the rain, and set the tone for an incredible evening of the greatest live music in the industry.

The band played all the crowd pleasing hits, such as “Yellow”, (the incredibly emotional) “Fix You” and “The Scientist”. Chris Martin (lead singer) ran up and down the runway style stage encasing himself deep within the heart of the crowd. Confetti blew everywhere frequently and if there’s one way to keep a crowd entertained it’s confetti. Usually I’d be skeptical of such tactics as a “distraction” technique or something, but I genuinely believe that Coldplay were trying to create the funnest experience conceivably possible, which would appeal to the masses.

The band played three songs on the B-stage at the centre of the stadium. Each member was introduced in turn and Martin joked that they had all met on dating app¬†Tinder not so long ago. ¬†They played “Always In My Head”, “Princess of China” (with videos of Rhianna, who collaborates on the song, on the huge screens on the main, A-stage) and “Everglow”. The B-stage in the centre is a great idea as it allows everyone around to admire the stage in an intimate way and experience the music closer to them. On the other hand, if you’re standing, like we were, you may not be able to see it so well, but the huge LED screens help to see what’s going on. The band moved back to the A-stage to a video of the late Muhammad Ali talking, a moving experience for all.

The band played a flawless cover of the late David Bowie’s “Heroes”. It’s very hard to pull of a David Bowie song well and I think that they managed to do it, with help from the singing audience. This was something special to witness. It almost didn’t matter that you were at a Coldplay concert, for a few minutes you were allowed to fully appreciate Bowie with 80,000 other people, which is incredible.

The band obviously played many songs from “A Head Full of Dreams”, such as “Hymn For The Weekend” and “Adventure of a Lifetime”. During “Adventure of a Lifetime” Martin encouraged the audience to “get down” to the ground and, on the count of three, everyone jumped back up. This must have been something spectacular to have witnessed from above. The whole set was lined with quirky, fun things like this.

“Viva La Vida” was the highlight of the set for me. There’s nothing quite like hearing thousands of people sing those opening notes. It’s infectious- people were even singing it on the tube! The whole stadium came alive and lit up during the song.

The band went to the C-stage to play two more songs. Chris Martin apologised to those at the front for not being able to see it, but I’m sure the change in stage was appreciated by those up in “the Gods” or in the stalls looking down on them. They played “Trouble”, as requested by audience member, Edward Young, as his “father always used to play it on piano” and it was father’s day. They asked if there was a “doctor in the house” as one of the guitars began to play up before continuing regardless. They then went on to play “See You Soon”, from the 1999 EP “The Blue Room” (don’t get me started on bands playing artsy B-sides…), which I’m sure older fans and those there from the beginning would have appreciated. They ¬†ended the song with a snippet of AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”, in homage of Martin’s heavy metal loving brother.

It would seem silly not to mention the incredibly huge production that went into making the show what it was. From the huge LED screen graphics to the “flower of life” geometric pattern on the stage floor to the copious amounts of confetti (rainbow coloured, stars (during “A Sky Full of Stars”) and bird shaped) to the huge pyrotechnic displays, featuring fireworks, it was not one to miss. The most amazing thing, for me, was the wonderful Xyloband wristbands. Everyone in the stadium was given one upon entry and they light up different colours sympathetically throughout the show and with the music. They’re so cool and to see a whole stadium lit up with them in many different colours is brilliant. It almost discourages the whole lighters and phone torch thing people seem to do. It makes for a beautiful show.

They closed the show with the latest single “Up&Up”. The graphics on screen were quirky and cool (and matched the music video) and saw vintage pictures and absurd situations intertwined with reality. I’ve seen artwork like this before (like the work of artist Eugenia Loli). The song was a lovely way to end the set as it was a reminder of looking into the future and to “never give up” and keep looking “up and up”.

You see, I’ve been lucky enough to go to many a concert over the last few years, but never (ever) have I been to a concert with credits. Arguably pretentious (or, on the other hand, a celebration of all the hard work that went into making the set what it is), the credits rolled to a reprise of “O”. The crowd left the stage to a roar of applause. The performance was simply staggering and Martin hailed it the crowd the “best audience ever”, obviously, whilst thanking everyone. You can definitely see that the band really care about their fans and genuinely can’t believe how lucky they are.

If you could bottle the atmosphere at a Coldplay concert you and could apply just a little bit of it to everyday life everything would be a bit better. You can’t beat Coldplay. I must admit, I was originally skeptical of a huge venue like Wembley Stadium (especially considering the price of tickets), but Coldplay made it worth every penny.It was simply breathtaking.

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Coldplay- Wembley Stadium, 19/06/2016

May 2016- What I’m Listening To

May was a good month with its fair share of brilliant new releases from many huge artists and bands, both new and old.

Firstly, Jake Bugg has released a few songs off of his upcoming album- “On My One” (out June 17th)- prior to its release. The latest single is called “Love, Hope and Misery” and it’s a huge¬†bittersweet¬†ballad. It’s not unusual for Bugg to throw a few of these in here and there (see “Broken” from his debut album “Jake Bugg”- simply stunning) and “Love, Hope and Misery” joins the already brilliant “Gimme the Love” (an excitingly new and upbeat sound for Bugg, boasting outside influence) and “On My One” (the total opposite to Gimme the Love. Love, Hope and Misery meets nicely in the middle). He has also released “Bitter salt” another interesting and unique new song for the Nottingham lad. So far we’ve heard may different styles seep from the seemingly impressive album. Luckily, there’s only a few days before its official release (and Bugg himself says the record is “make or break”).

The Stone Roses are back! The first single from the new album is called “One For All” and it was released early last month. It was an exceptionally great song for a band whose reunion was, or rather is, arguably, the most highly anticipated reunion of 2016. I like the song, but many were left disappointed by the, perhaps ‘lack lustre’, comeback single. It’ll be interesting to see, or rather hear, what the other songs are like. The band are about to embark on a four night stunt at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, before headlining T in the Park, in Scotland, in July.

Tom Odell has been the highlight of my month… From his stunning BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge cover (in Exeter) of Mike Posner’s “In Ibiza” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYGq7CyrXq0), to buying his first album and playing it over and over and over (after years of being a fan) and to the new songs he released before the whole album, “Wrong Crowd” (June 10th). Singles like “Here I Am” and “Magnetised” are proving extremely popular among audiences and I’m excited to see what the album release brings for him!

I’m really in to Blossoms at the moment. Their set at BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend, in Exeter, was absolutely amazing¬†(one of my favourites). Their latest single, “Getaway”, proved popular among the audience both at home and in the studio on “Later… With Jools Holland”. This series of Later… With Jools Holland has been incredible. From (Alex Turner looking like… erm… someone’s Grandad) The Last Shadow Puppets to Spring King, we’ve seen it all this series.

Catfish and the Bottlemen released their second album “The Ride” on the 27th May. The album is bursting with hits and crowd pleasers. The album has been playing a lot around the house and in the car. It’s one you need to listen to a few times to fully appreciate, but it’s a good album nonetheless- one that I’m sure will be overplayed!

This month I’ve seen Rat Boy, which was very energetic, mad and ridiculously hot and sweaty. I also saw Jake Bugg play an intimate acoustic show at the Hippodrome in Kingston. There were only a handful of people there which made the evening extra special. Bugg played a selection of acoustic versions of well loved, previously released songs and newer, unreleased gems. I’ve also been to Radio One’s Big Weekend (in Exeter) which, again, was amazing. There’s been so much good music this month and Big Weekend¬†has opened me up to more genres and I got to see some of my favourites- result!

Although the Glastonbury announcement was (technically) this month (June) I will talk about it now as it won’t be relevant next month, as Glastonbury is NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!! (<slightly, or very, unnecessary I suppose). New additions include Tom Odell, Catfish and the Bottlemen and Tame Impala, which join the likes of Coldplay, The 1975 and Wolf Alice. I can’t get over how amazing it will be. I’m overwhelmed by all the talent, new (The Big Moon, Blaenavon, VANT) , old (Adele, The Last Shadow Puppets etc) and well loved (ELO, Madness, ZZ Top), which Glastonbury has to offer.

Other additions to this month’s playlist include Jack Garrett (I loved “Surprise Yourself” especially this month), Years & Years (as I can’t get over how sweet Olly Alexander is) and Biffy Clyro (for that odd bit of rock; it’s good for the heart, or something). Also, there’s Mumford and Son’s beautiful song “There Will Be Time” with Baaba Maal (a lovely song to lie in bed and listen to; it’s quite something).

June brings Glastonbury, obviously. As well as Coldplay (on and for my birthday) as I was so moved by the performance at Big Weekend. I think it’ll be a very special day.

Enjoy!

 

May 2016- What I’m Listening To

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend Exeter 2016- 29/05/2016

This year’s BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend was held in the scenic grounds of Exeter’s stunning Powderham Castle on the 28th and 29th of May 2016. It was headlined by Mumford and Sons and Coldplay, with other huge acts (such as Ellie Goulding, The 1975, Wolf Alice and Skepta) all playing over the weekend in the glorious sunshine across three main stages (the Main Stage, the In New Music We Trust Stage and, of course, the BBC Introducing Stage). I was lucky enough to have attended on the Sunday (and created a blog post about what I recommended you see across the weekend, which you can see here) and it was simply incredible. Bands and artists get roughly around 30 minutes each (which is PERFECT as they mostly play all their hits, which goes with the whole “radio appeal” theme), so you’re not left wondering when it’ll end as they’re playing tonnes of artsy album tracks and obscure b-sides, and headliners get about 50 minutes (although I’m sure Chris Martin could and would have gone on for a lot longer if allowed). DJs from the station, such as Greg James, Annie Mac, and Huw Stephens play short DJ sets in between sets which makes the waiting a bit more bearable.

Opening the festival on the Sunday were One Republic. Prior to the event I didn’t really know how much I knew of their material or how good they’d actually be. Not only is Ryan Tedder (lead singer) an extremely successful and incredibly talented song writer, he’s also an effortlessly brilliant front man with the most incredible live voice and captivating stage presence. They played songs such as “Counting Stars” and “Wherever I go” and also played huge hits such as “Apologise”, accompanied by Tedder on the piano. They’re back shortly and are touring the UK in 2017 (I believe) and I think it’ll be unmissable.

Panic! at the Disco opened the In New Music We Trust Stage. Panic! at the Disco played a nostalgic hit filled set and played classics like “The Ballad of Mona Lisa”, “Nine in the Afternoon” and “I Write Sins Not Tragedies”. They also did a breathtaking cover of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which the crowd loudly (and proudly) sang along with. Oh, and Brendan Urie (lead singer) did a back flip off the drum platform, of course. Every time I see Panic! I’m hit with an overwhelming desire to listen to all my old “pop-punk” records and relive my Panic! days. Again, Urie’s voice is simply stunning live and he’s charismatic and hilarious too!

Catfish and the Bottlemen conquered the Main Stage for the second year running (having filled in last minute for Sam Smith who was on voice rest after becoming ill and having surgery) and this year it was in their own right. I thought they were a band capable of playing higher up on the list and later in the day, but their early afternoon set proved popular among eager punters. They played songs from their recently released second album, “The Ride”, and their incredible first album, 2014’s “the Balcony”. ¬†Van McCann further proved his effortless capabilities of fronting the band and remained grateful for the experience. The crowd loved it from start to finish with many singing and the odd person standing on shoulders. Catfish know how to get a crowd excited and they’re constantly playing second-to-none sets.

Years & Years are a band who don’t get boring. Olly Alexander (lead singer) is an energetic, bubbly and enthusiastic front man who knows how to get the crowd excited. It was a pure visual feast with the bands logo changing colour in the background throughout on a large LED screen and dancers- one of which was Olly¬†himself! The band played songs off of their debut album “Communion” , such as “King”, “Shelter” and, with Olly on the keyboard, “Eyes Wide Shut”. There was also confetti and nothing gets a crowd going quite like confetti (which Olly noted himself).

The In New Music We Trust Stage saw Wolf Alice triumphantly play before Sketpa. Wolf Alice are everything you could want in a band. They’re one of my personal favourite live bands with their impeccable singing, no-fuss approach and captivating instrument playing. They played many tracks from their Mercury Prize nominated debut album, “My Love is Cool”, such as “Bros”, “You’re a Germ” and latest single “Lisbon”, as well as Grammy Nominated “Moaning Lisa Smile”. They’re fascinating to watch live, especially when they’re furiously jamming on their instruments, but they’re simply incredible.

Matty Healy (lead singer of The 1975) turned up to Radio One’s Big Weekend with dog Allen, who proved popular among the backstage crowd… It only got weirder from there! The 1975 played on the Main Stage, with a very drunk Matty Healy. They brought their incredible stage set up to Powederham Castle, as well as a stand in drummer (as George Daniel (drummer) is recovering from a¬†broken¬†shoulder). They played songs off their latest album, “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It” (February 2016), such as “Somebody Else” and “A Change of Heart”, and their debut album “The 1975”, such as “Girls” and “Chocolate”. Matty was feeling particularly talkative throughout the set and spoke his mind on the BBC’s no drinking/swearing/smoking policy on stage (they run a “tight ship” at the BBC, apparently). He was especially sad about the swearing aspect. His vocals are starting to lose the shine they had at the start of the year, but with huge shows at Glastonbury Festival, Reading and Leeds and, of course, their headline show at the O2 Arena in December, I’m sure they’ll be able to get back to their best after some rest.

The Last Shadow Puppets played on the In New Music We Trust Stage. I’m a fan of both Alex Turner and Miles Kane respectively in their own rights, as well as when part of the ‘supergroup’, if you will, The Last Shadow Puppets and thought their last album, “Everything You’ve Come to Expect” was brilliant. I’ve been excited to see the pair play together live for a while now, but nothing (nothing) could prepare me for this. The band played with a stunning accompaniment of violins and other string instruments, which was not only exciting to hear, but lovely to see. Alex Turner, on the other hand, was, well, hilarious. He pranced around the stage, sometimes with a guitar other times not, and, at one point, was lying on the floor with his arms and legs up in the air¬†reassembling what could be described as some sort of bewildered insect placed upside down and still attempting to walk, or something.

Blossoms returned to the BBC Introducing set for a short set (before the brilliant Catholic Action headlined). Blossoms are a hugely refreshing and original up and coming act. They were one of the best acts I saw over the whole day. Their songs are new, current and exciting and they’re championed by Huw Stephens and BBC Introducing. They played songs like “Getaway”, “At Most a Kiss” and “Charlemagne” all with a dreamy indie rock feel. With a perfected indie rock ‘vibe’, think The Kooks, The Courteeners and Catfish and the Bottlemen, and the brilliant gratitude of Van McCann- it’s a perfect combination. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; they’re about to become huge.

Coldplay¬†headlined the Sunday night of the festival (and it’s not the first time they’ve done it). They pulled out all the stops with huge pyrotechnic displays (confetti, fire and all) and dazzling lights and graphics, along with ALL the hits. Singles, such as “Hymn For The Weekend” and “Adventure of a Lifetime”, from their triumphant latest album, “A Head Full of Dreams” (released November 2015), proved a hit with the Exeter crowd and dazzled young and old alike. The older classics, such as “Fix You” and “Yellow”, provided special moments shared by and across many generations. Their music is timeless and expansive of all age groups. I love how the music brought everyone together and provided a special experience for all. They covered Prince’s¬†“Raspberry Beret”, which Chris Martin dedicated to Prince, and his parents- this was another special moment (one of many throughout the set). Chris Martin was born and raised in Exeter, which made this performance quite something to be a part of. Martin hopped from piano to the ultimate entertaining front man and provided the most spectacular of sets. It’s hard to imagine a better closing to the weekend.

Overall the day was jam packed with a vast variety of music and some the finest acts music has to offer and it was all (yellow..?) free! All of the sets can be found on the BBC iPlayer for a short amount of time. I look forward to seeing wherever it’s held next and I hope I’m lucky enough to bag tickets!

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BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend Exeter 2016- 29/05/2016

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend Reccomendations 2016

Over the last few years I’ve been keeping track of BBC ¬†Radio One’s Big Weekend and hoping it would come within travelling distance of my home town. For me, BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the start of a three month or so UK summer festival season and showcases some of the summer’s hottest acts and staple bands. Typically, it plays the stuff you hear on the radio, but with the ever increasing interest in genres like “alternative” and “pop-punk” becoming more ‘mainstream’ and the huge demand for bands like Bring Me the Horizon- who exploded all over the radio after releasing last year’s (pretty incredible) “That’s the Spirit”- becoming integrated into modern day mainstream culture and radio, it’s unsurprising to see some of your favourite “non-pop” bands on the bill too.

This year’s Big Weekend is being held at Powderham Castle in Exeter. The event runs for two days over the bank holiday weekend from Saturday 28th to Sunday 29th May. There were 50,000 tickets up for grabs, which all sold out in less than an hour, and 200,000 people trying to get them! Although, BBC Radio One have been running competitions for those who lost out. The event is being headlined by Mumford and Sons (who headlined last year’s Reading and Leeds festival) and Coldplay (who are headlining Glastonbury this year). The festival is free (although there’s a small booking fee of literally ¬£17 for two tickets)- yes FREE- which, in itself, is quite something. For the price¬†a booking fee you’re getting a day of excitingly current music (with line-ups condensed but on par with the likes of Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds) which, at pretty much any other festival in the UK, would ordinarily cost you hundreds of pounds- a concert ticket for Coldplay alone at Wembley Stadium this June would cost you upwards of ¬£70! BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is Europe’s largest free music festival- so you’re lucky enough for it to be in your town, you’d be daft not to go for tickets!

This year’s line up is composed of some of the world’s most current and exciting bands and artists across three stages- the Main Stage, the ¬†“In New Music We Trust” stage and, of course, the BBC Introducing stage. From The Weeknd to Bring Me the Horizon to Catfish and the Bottlemen, whether you’re watching there live or in the comfort of your own home via the red button or catching up with the highlights on BBC 4 television or on the internet, there’s bound to be plenty of unmissable stuff. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday, which I’m so excited about and have been for months! Below are some of my most unmissable acts from across the weekend.

SATURDAY

Mumford and Sons (MAIN)– Mumford and Sons are playing the event for the first time this year- and they’re headlining… Is there anything more exciting than hearing the well known classics and hits of Marcus Mumford and Co live? Following their formidable visual feast of a headline set at Reading and Leeds Festival last year, you won’t want to miss Mumford and Sons.

Jake Bugg (MAIN)– It’s no secret that I love Jake Bugg. Having seen him a few times here and there it’s safe to say he’d definitely be on my watch list and with new material from his upcoming album, “On My One”, which is due out in June, he’s an obvious one not to miss! There’s something timeless about Bugg’s voice which is so familiar and comforting to many, across all ages. He has an incredible stage presence too, where he manages to win over and transfix crowds.

Tom Odell (MAIN)– Tom Odell is back properly for the first time since the release of “Long Way Down” in 2013 (and the stunning 2014 John Lewis coveted christmas advert single, where he covered John Lennon’s “Real Love”) with the album “Wrong Crowd”, which is, again, released in June. Tom Odell has an incredible voice which, accompanied by his band and piano, is certain to mesmerise in Exeter (especially after his hugely successful live lounge in Exeter last week). He’s sure to leave the crowd dazzled with old hits and new tracks across both albums.

Bring Me the Horizon (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Bring Me the Horizon are headlining the In New Music We Trust stage on the Saturday of this year’s festival. Somehow, through brilliant song writing and modern day music fan appeal, this current blend of “post hardcore”and popular culture has intertwined to allow incredibly unique bands headline ‘mainstream’ events like these. Getting your hands on Bring Me the Horizon tickets ordinarily is difficult, as they go like hot cakes, so I wouldn’t miss the chance to catch them. This could be a career defining set, especially in terms of the radio.

Tame Impala (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Tame Impala’s psychedelic pop/rock is another different choice for the festival. Kevin Parker and co are set to bring something truly exciting and unique to the festival, with their laid back tracks and radio singles. They’d be an interesting and worthy watch- I couldn’t think of anything better for a Saturday afternoon.

Spring King (BBC Introducing)– Spring King are returning to play on the BBC Introducing stage in Exeter. Spring King are a band on their way to success, with triumphant sets on Jools Holland and at The Great Escape festival already under their belt this year. Songs like “Rectifier” are huge and not worth missing live. They’re on the brink of success and you’d be silly not to see them now.

The Hunna (BBC Introducing)– Again, why not catch them playing smaller stages whilst you can? The Hunna are another up and coming band who are on the brink of something big. With the support of the BBC it’s highly likely we’ll see them playing bigger stages at some point and here’s your chance to be there “from the start” so you can say ‘I was there’ in a few years time!

SUNDAY

Coldplay (MAIN) – Coldplay are headlining BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend on Sunday. Chris Martin, lead singer, is from Exeter so it’s sure to be a huge set. They’ve played the event before and each time they’ve provided the crowd (and effortlessly won them over) with an energetic set full of fan favourites and current tracks. 2016’s “A Head Full of Dreams” featured some great tracks which will surely be played live. It’s the ultimate Glastonbury warm up show and will, undoubtedly, be a defining moment of the weekend.

Catfish and the Bottlemen (MAIN)– With the release of their latest album “The Ride” due for release two days before they play the event, it will be one of the first times they’ve played since the album release. The band played last year and it was heavily talked about. Either way Catfish and the Bottlemen are one of the UK’s most exciting bands and I think you’d be mad to miss them considering their tours sell out in minutes! With countless anthemic tunes, a new album, Van McCann’s admirable stage presence (and copious “thank yous”) and incredibly supportive fans they’re sure to be a hit (as they have been at every other festival in the UK).

The 1975 (MAIN)– The 1975 seem to pop up everywhere! They’re currently on tour in the States with label mates Wolf Alice, who are also playing, but are returning back to the UK for the event. They played “Radio One Presents” back in February for Annie Mac’s show where they, along with fellow Big Weekend performer Jake Bugg, managed to dazzle a crowd of all ages. They bring their stunning live set up and catchy tunes with them as they prepare for a long festival season. The band will give a taste of what to expect over the festival season with songs from their latest album (“I Like it When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It”) and last album (“The 1975”), and perhaps a few EP favourites, hopefully on the setlist. With George Daniel’s (drummer) shoulder broken there will most likely be a stand in drummer playing with the band (I believe Dave Elitch of The Mars Volta will be joining the band for a bit as a stand in).

Biffy Clyro (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Biffy Clyro played¬†the event in 2013 and are co-headlining Reading and Leeds Festival this summer. This year they’re headlining the “In New Music We Trust” stage. It’ll be interesting to hear Biffy Clyro play new songs, like “Wolves of Winter”, with the likes of popular favourites, such as “Many of Horror”. Biffy Clyro always seem like fan favourites at these events and are always heavily enjoyed by the crowds.

Panic! At The Disco (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Panic! are the best band to listen to if you want a bit of mid 2000’s nostalgia or a quick fix of all things “pop-rock”.The best part is that they’re still creating absolute tunes and only get better. With songs like “Victorious” being popular with radio listeners, it’ll be exciting to hear them play at an event like this. They’re also headlining “Slam Dunk Festival” that weekend!

The Last Shadow Puppets (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Turner and Kane are back to play songs form their latest album, “Everything You’ve Come to Expect”, and, of course, from “The Age of The Understatement”. ¬†I’m excited to see the pair live as I find their style interesting, especially with their incredibly written lyrics and unusual style.

Skepta (the In New Music We Trust stage)– Ahhh, how can you not mention grime? Grime is currently dominating the UK music scene, with the likes of Sormzy performing on the Saturday. Last year Skepta performed his hit “Shutdown” with Slaves (and it’s something quite special). “Shutdown” is undisbutedly a tune. I’m hoping for some more incredible collaborations- maybe Wolf Alice?

Wolf Alice (the In New Music We Trust stage)– You can’t miss Wolf Alice. Wolf Alice are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen; they’re different, incredible live and simply brilliant without all the funny gimmicks. They’re full of good songs and have a brilliant track record of appearances at festivals. They’re headliners of the future, along with Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Blossoms (BBC Introducing)– Returning back to the BBC Introducing stage, possibly for the last time before the release of their debut album, will be a defining moment for the band. Blossoms are currently one of my favourite up and coming bands. You can’t miss them this summer. There’s something so comforting in the vocals that sort of reminds me of a the Kook’s style mixed with a dash of Catfish and the Bottlemen. Songs like “Charlemage” and “At Most a Kiss” have already been popular, and they’re ones to look out for (they were part of my “ones to watch in 2016”). Their current single “Getaway” is creating quite a storm among radio listeners too and, having played it on Jools Holland recently, they won’t have to work too hard to win budding fans over!

Catholic Action (BBC Introducing)– I saw Catholic Action support Swim Deep last year at Concorde 2 in Brighton and since then I’ve been supporting them and their music. They’re seriously talented and will undoubtedly be back. They’re new and current and ones to look out for across the weekend. Catch them whilst you can!

Of course, there’s many more across the weekend and those mentioned here are just a fraction of the brilliant music that the weekend has to offer. There’s Ellie Goulding, CHVRCHES, Years and Years, Jack Garratt, THE Craig David (who did a brilliant weather report for the week on Nick Grimshaw’s Breakfast show- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pD1zG0yN ) and Twenty One Pilots along with a whole host of other acts. Check out the BBC Radio One website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e2f9rz) for more information or keep up to date with it via the BBC Radio One facebook page or Twitter (@BBCR1). Below is BBC Music’s playlist of artists you can catch over the weekend.

If you’re going I wish you the greatest weekend and hope you enjoy yourself! Here’s hoping the weather is nice.

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend Reccomendations 2016