Blossoms, Brighton Dome (23/03/2017)

Blossoms played the Brighton Dome on the 23rd March 2017, as part of the 2017 NME Awards Tour, supported by Stockport’s Rory Wynne and the (in)famously outspoken Cabbage. The band played a brilliant set featuring songs off of their self-titled debut album and rereleased extended edition.

The band walked on stage- all dressed in white shirts- to a roar of applause. Blossoms don’t disappoint, as they continually prove by playing to huge audiences both nationally and internationally. The band opened with ‘At Most a Kiss’, from their debut album Blossoms, which was released last summer. This was a good opener because the audience knew it. The audience particularly enjoyed hearing songs from their debut album and sang along word for word, whilst dancing (with the odd mosh-pit… No, I’m not sure how you mosh to Blossoms). The atmosphere was buzzing. They played most of the songs from their debut album- including the single ‘Honey Sweet’, ‘Get Away’ and ‘Blown Rose’- as well as some b-sides.

Of course, no Blossoms performance would be complete without “slowing it down” for the acoustic ‘My Favourite Room’, whereby Tom Ogden (lead single) asks if anyone has “been dumped” recently and dedicates the song to them. The first time I saw them do this was at Reading Festival and I can’t listen to the song without imagining “me, Martha and Jamie in my favourite room” (not me, but Ogden), then again at the O2 Kentish Town Forum, with yet another estranged couple. You’d have thought the novelty would’ve worn off by now and yet I find myself eagerly awaiting Ogden’s search for his next heartbroken teen. Then you have the ending of the song, which, again, I find myself waiting for. ‘My Favourite Room’ leads seamlessly into Babybird’s ‘You’re Gorgeous’, then into Oasis’s ‘Half the World Away’ and- weirdly- Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’, which the audience loved.

Late last year Blossoms (“from Stockport”) re-released their debut album with a sparkly, gold “extended edition” featuring all the b-sides from their previous EPs, hence why they’ve gone on tour again. The band played a handful of these tracks- including ‘Across the Moore’, ‘Polka Dot Bones’ and ‘Madeleine’. This proved a treat for those who had been following them from the beginning, which seems like a long time ago now. It’s exciting getting to hear these songs played again as the band’s sets get longer.

“ABBA won the Eurovision song contest in this very building” Ogden said when the band came on to perform a short encore. The band ended with  ‘Deep Grass’ and then ‘Charlemagne’. A man kept asking me whether or not they’d played ‘Charlemagne’ yet, it’s become their ‘big’ song. There’s something undeniably catchy and anthemic, especially live. I love the added “Joe looks like Jon Snow” bits that you only get when you hear it live.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Blossoms multiple times over the last year (and lucky enough to see them grow and become more popular) and they’ve never disappointed. Yes, the setlist has been more or less the same (give or take the odd b-side) each time I’ve seen them, no, that’s not a bad thing. The band continue to gain popularity and each time they play they play to bigger sold-out audiences of loyal and new fans. Their production gets bigger everytime, too. More lights. They continue to give class, memorable performances and they clearly now how to put on a good show. They’re dedicated, hard working and clearly love what they’re doing.

The band play Coachella in April (and tour the states) and they’re set to play a whole host of UK festivals this year, including Reading and Leeds and Glastonbury Festival.

 

Blossoms, Brighton Dome (23/03/2017)

Circa Waves, Banquet Records, The Hippodrome (16/03/2017)

On the 16th February 2017, Circa Waves played the first of two shows for Banquet Records, at the Hippodrome, Kingston. The band played an all ages set at 7pm, followed by a New Slang show later in the evening. The band signed copies of their latest album, Different Creatures, in the record store before the signing, as the show was in support of their latest album release.

The band played a mixture of songs from both of their albums to an audience of enthusiastic young fans. Fan favourites- such as ‘Fossils’ and ‘Stuck in My Teeth’, from the band’s 2015 debut album, Young Chasers– were nestled between songs from their new release- which had been out nearly a week before the shows. Notably, the band played singles from their new album, such as ‘Wake Up’, the lead single from the album, and ‘Fire That Burns’, their latest single, to eager fans, who knew the songs word for word.

Of course, no Circa Waves gig would be complete without the sun-kissed, indie-rock anthem that is ‘T-Shirt Weather’. It’s a timeless song which continues to shape festival seasons and summers for many. The band played it last and it’s uplifting lyrics and tune juxtaposed the stuffy, dark nightclub they were playing it in. The atmosphere was buzzing. It’s a song which creates a great atmosphere, no matter the size of the crowd or venue- from Glastonbury Festival to the 100-or-so audience of the Hippodrome, in Kingston. The song was the perfect way to round off the triumphant, yet short set.

The Liverpool lads couldn’t have played a more brilliant set. The fans seemed to love the show, singing word-for-word and dancing throughout the 30 minute long set. The album’s pretty great, too. Banquet Record shows are always a treat, but this one seemed something even more special.

Circa Waves tour the UK throughout March/Arpil and Europe throughout April, before embarking on a string of festival dates both nationally and internationally, including Glastonbury Festival, Reading Festival and TRNSMT Festival.

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Circa Waves, Banquet Records, The Hippodrome (16/03/2017)

Jamie T, O2 Brixton Academy, 08/10/16

Jamie T played the first of three sold-out shows at the O2 Brixton Academy on the 8th October 2016. The final show (Monday) was postponed for a later date (November 16th) after Treays fell ill. He was supported by psychedelic-rock band The Wytches, who are from Brighton.

Jamie T opened with ‘Power Over Men’, from his latest album Trick, which was released in September. This was a strong start, especially as the song had been previously released as a single. The crowd loved it and were thoroughly warmed up for a rollercoaster ride through the back catalogue of Jamie T.

Treays played many songs from Trick, because the tour was in support of the album, including latest single ‘Tescoland’, the infectiously catchy ‘Tinfoil Boy’ and ‘Soloman Eagle’. The set, however, was not without its oldies, including ‘Rabbit Hole’, ‘368’ and ‘The Man’s Machine’.

No Jamie T set would be complete without the iconic songs that have become synonymous with what makes a Jamie T set set apart from the rest. Jamie T played ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones’, ‘If You’ve Got The Money’ and (the unbelievably tragic) ‘Sheila’. The crowd went particularly wild when these songs were played and it seemed strangely intimate during these songs. It was special to hear thousands singing these (incredible) songs.

Jamie T played a two song encore of ‘Back in the Game’ and ‘Zombie’. ‘Zombie’ was a brilliant closing song- as it has been for the last couple of years- because it leaves the crowd buzzing, and Brixton was no exception. The crowd went wild with singing, dancing and moshing during Zombie. It was something else.

Jamie T played a set that appealed to the masses. He’s a blatant crowd pleaser, obviously. His rap laced indie-rock is a winner. I expect to see him play a string of festivals next year and would love to see him soar to the top of line-up lists. I can’t wait to see what Jamie T does next.

 

Jamie T, O2 Brixton Academy, 08/10/16

Blossoms- The Hippodrome, Banquet Records, 11/09/2016

On Thursday 11th August 2016, the first Thursday post debut album release, at 8pm Blossoms played the first of two album release shows at The Hippodrome for Banquet Records. I attended the earlier, under 18’s show.

What I love about Banquet Records shows is that they’re one of the only times, if not the only time, you’ll get to be so up close and personal with huge or up and coming artists. I’m 10 months of my 18th birthday, so for now I have to attend the under 18s or all ages album release shows. This, however, was far more intimate than you can imagine. There were literally a handful of people there- 75 maybe- and, having seen them play Glastonbury a couple of months ago, this was unlike I’d ever experience them before. I’m never usually on the barrier and I don’t usually end up with a setlist, but this time I did.

The band played a short set compiled of mainly album tracks and songs off of their previous EPs, as requested by fans. Blossoms played “Across the Moor”, from the Charlemagne EP, instead of Blow as fans in the crowd requested it. Tom Ogden (lead singer) played solo on the acoustic guitar for an impromptu performance of “My Favourite Room” after fans called it out, despite not originally being on the set list. The whole band joined in at the end and seamlessly linked into the next song.

The set was a crowd pleaser with popular favourites such as “Getaway” and “At Most A Kiss” played, which the crowd loved. The highlight of the set, for me, was “Smashed Pianos”, as it’s a huge song which could be overlooked on the album as it’s nestled between hugely popular singles. The atmosphere was buzzing, despite the band not understanding why the few of us there couldn’t go to the later show.

The band closed with the single “Charlemagne”, which was loved by the audience. The fans sang and danced loudly with the band as they left the stage to loud applause and wished to see everyone at their upcoming London shows.

The set was short, sweet and triumphant. Blossoms are a band about to explode and make it big time. If you can catch Blossoms at a venue near you, do it; you won’t regret it. Whilst the set up was a bit weird, the set was great and appreciated by the fans. They followed up with a New Slang show later in the evening.

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Blossoms- The Hippodrome, Banquet Records, 11/09/2016

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

Rat Boy- Concorde 2, Brighton, 07/05/2016

On Saturday the 7th May 2016 Essex’s Rat Boy- AKA Jordan Cardy- finished his UK tour by playing Brighton’s Concorde 2. He was supported by NYC’s energetic Skaters and Cosmo Pyke. Rat Boy were one of my “ones to watch in 2016”.

I’ve been looking forward to Rat Boy’s headline tour since seeing him play at Banquet Records last year and at Reading Festival. I also saw him support The 1975 at the Brighton Centre back in November last year, where his wild antics got seemingly lost in the (mostly perplexed) crowd. This tour has been far from the tame crowds of last year’s The 1975 concert… There’s been security pulling them off stage by their chains and their London show at the Electric Brixton having to be pulled by the venue as a result of Cardy literally getting into the crowd (bear in mind this is the first time they’ve ever had to do this).

Even before Rat Boy started there was an air of hysteria and excitement. When Jordan and co came on stage, wearing caricature masks of themselves and Jordan’s artwork, and burst into latest single “Move”, the crowd literally began to move and didn’t stop for a further hour and a bit. There were people jumping, “moshing”, stage invading, limply attempting to crowd surf, and some guy was literally wrestled ferociously by security out of the venue- it was certainly quite entertaining to watch.

They showcased an array of new songs, like “Hanging Round”, within a few familiar favourites, like “Wasteman” and “Left For Dead”. They followed this by playing a short two song encore featuring “Sign on” and “Fake ID”, which left the crowd in a hot and sweaty state. At this point- when everyone (including the band) her presumed the concert had finished- Jordan decided to play “Move” again because a) it was the end of the tour and b) why not?

Overall, it was a great concert in one of Brighton’s greatest hidden, little venues. It was hot and sweaty and fuelled with teenage enthusiasm. Jordan and co look as though they’re having the time of their lives and I eagerly anticipate an album in the future, as well as seeing them conquer various festivals throughout the festival season.

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Rat Boy- Concorde 2, Brighton, 07/05/2016

Jake Bugg- The Hippodrome (Banquet Records), 05/05/2016

On the 5th May 2016,  Jake Bugg played two (short) shows at the Kingston Hippodrome (courtesy of the mighty Banquet Records) in support of his latest album, “On My One”, which is out on the 17th June 2016. I was lucky enough to see him play an intimate acoustic “all-ages” set, with only a handful of other lucky fans early in the evening. He also played a later, full band show as part of an 18+ “New Slang” club night.

Bugg played for a meer 40 minutes, yet managed to cram hits from all three of his albums. He was originally planning to play the earlier set in the record store, however demand for tickets meant an upgrade in venue- which Bugg suggested, upon acknowledging the weird “night club setting”, was all a bit “strange” for everyone. The dynamics of the venue only aided the set though, in my opinion, and made for a memorable show for all.

Bugg opened with “On My One” from his latest album of the same title. It’s very rare to find me not singing along at a concert, but something about the way he sang the song (in all its slightly melancholic and hauntingly memorable ways) intertwined with how crisp his voice sounded caused me to feel totally shocked, amazed and totally in awe of his compelling set. It was like listening to it on a record.

Muttering little but “thank you” in between songs, Bugg also played a selection of songs from his new album release, for this was an album release show. He suggested that he “had to play” the new songs, but ensured they’d play songs from the other albums on tour later this year (this is obviously very exciting as it means he’s touring again soon).  There were two or three previously unheard, newer songs, as well as a special acoustic rendition of the last single “Gimme the Love”, which was quite spectacular.

In saying this, Bugg also squeezed in songs from his two previous albums (“Jake Bugg” and “Shangri La”). He played all the hits, from “Slumville Sunrise” to “Lightening Bolt”. Bugg closed with “Lightening Bolt”, arguably his biggest hit to date, which people (despite it being an acoustic set) still managed to mosh to. This was fascinating to see.

Overall, Jake Bugg is well worth seeing live  (whether it’s a full band show or an acoustic, like this) and is extremely captivating to watch. His voice is almost always perfect and always a welcomed contrast to his slightly grumpy exterior. It’s always a pleasure to see Jake Bugg (for he’s the real reason behind this whole “music journalism” thing in the first place) and hopefully I’ll be able to see him later on during the year with his full band. He’s also playing a handful of festival dates dotted all over the place, including the prestigious Glastonbury (which he’s played before).

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Jake Bugg- The Hippodrome (Banquet Records), 05/05/2016