Lorde, The Brighton Centre (30/09/2017)

Lorde brought stunning vocals, spectacular visuals, dancers and Melodrama (in all sense of the word) to The Brighton Centre on the 30th September 2017. She was supported by up and coming artist singer/songwriter Khalid, who won over the sold-out audience with his soulful songs.

Let’s talk about her UK tour as an artistic extension of her latest album, Melodrama, which was released in June this year. Over the summer, Lorde brought Melodrama to festivals globally with dancers in huge tilting glass boxes, orchestras and a large screen showing images sympathetically changing with the songs. It was emotional, moving, and, above all, a real spectacle, which launched Lorde into the big game. I was hoping her UK tour would be different and that, again, she would push production to the limits. She did. Between sets an old TV set was wheeled onto the stage and placed on the side of the stage. The centre of the stage was adorned by hand-drawn neon lights- of astronauts and flowers, their changing broke up the set, as if different acts of a play-  and crowned by a neon sign saying ‘Melodrama’. Lorde herself brought out captivating dancers, had costume changes and gave her vocals to poetic interludes streamed through the old television paired with fascinating visuals throughout the set. It felt like an experience. As if an artistic expression, as opposed to just a pop concert.

Lorde opened with ‘Magnets’, a collaboration she did with British DJ duo Disclosure, which seamlessly flowed into ‘Tennis Court’, from her first album Pure Heroine, and then a plethora of new songs, including ‘The Louvre’, ‘Hard Feelings’ and ‘Sober’, which told the story of youth, fame and broken hearts. It felt as if you were on a journey with her.

The set was sewn together with anecdotes handed out to the crowd as if we were friends of hers. It felt intimate. The highlight of the set was definitely when she played ‘Liability’, closely followed by ‘Liability (Reprise)’. Lorde offered the story of the song to adoring fans and how she had once felt “too much” and a bit lost- perhaps something audience members could relate to. It felt extraordinarily vulnerable, but showed a crucial connection to the audience. This was exemplified further when she jumped into the crowd and sung to members of the crowd from the barrier.

Lorde’s unique vocals lend themselves to many songs. On this tour she put her spin ‘In The Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins, which she had covered in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge days earlier. This felt refreshing and broke up the set, whilst still feeling like Lorde. It was exciting to see Lorde take on such an iconic, ambitious song.

The New Zealand born singer brought the set to a close with her breakthrough track, ‘Royals’, followed by ‘Perfect Places’, ‘Team’ and the sensational ‘Green Light’, which brought a gleeful dance party to the Brighton Centre. The crowd- and Lorde herself- danced under a storm of star confetti and the stage went dark.

Confused as to whether or not that was the end audience members began to stir and many began screaming for more. After a few minutes a sampler was placed onto the stage and Lorde- this time on her own, without dancers, her band or huge production- resurfaced from side of stage. She played Loveless under a spotlight on the sampler and left the stage to a roar of applause. It was definitely a thought-provoking ending, with the words ‘L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S Generation’ fading out the set. Was it a lasting statement on the modern way of life, of love?

Lorde’s set was triumphant, bold and ambitious. It felt like a stage show almost. She always manages to captivate a concert on a level of intimacy, of audience interest, with artistic license. She treats shows as a way of expressing herself, expressing art, expressing the way she wants her music to be perceived and the music makes sense within this context. Having said this, if metaphorical, artsy statements aren’t for you, it was genuinely a refreshing live music experience and all round brilliant pop-concert (although that statement feels crudely lost within this context).

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Lorde, The Brighton Centre (30/09/2017)

Paramore, The Royal Albert Hall (19/06/2017)

Paramore played a sold out show at The Royal Albert Hall, in London, on the 19th June 2017, as part of the first leg of their global Tour One tour, in support of their latest album After Laughter, which was released in May. The band were supported by a band called Bleached.

Paramore played a set which felt intimate, despite the venue being filled. It felt like the band were playing comeback shows to a room full of friends. The band opened with ‘Told You So’, from their latest album, whilst the expectant fans swarmed towards the stage ignoring the all-seating layout. The crowd sang the band’s latest songs- including ‘Fake Happy’, ‘Rose Coloured Boy’ and ‘Caught in the Middle’- word for word, as if they had been setlist staples for years. The band seemed happy and comfortable- the happiest they’ve seemed in a long time- and the band seemed relaxed. It’s their first tour since Zac Farro rejoined the band and the stripped back, no fuss stage layout- with an impressive light display- seemed to complement the band’s choice of setlist.

The band threw in a stunning cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Everywhere’, which showed off the versatility of lead singer Hayley Williams’ voice. The band explained how they’d listened to it a lot during the recording of their latest album. It was a refreshing song choice for a once pop-punk band.

The mix of covers and new tracks peppered into a heap of older tracks, straying from their newer sound. The band played songs from their five album deep back catalogue, including the hit ‘Still Into You’ and Grammy Award winning single ‘Ain’t it Fun’, from their 2013 self-titled album, as well as ‘That’s What You Get’, from their 10 year old album Riot, and ‘Brick By Boring Brick’ from Brand New Eyes. The band didn’t play any songs from their debut album- All We Know is Falling– on this tour, which is understandable as they’re spoilt for choice with popular hits and fan favourites from their other albums.

The band invited fans up to sing Misery Business with them, as they have done for the last few years. The atmosphere is always especially buzzing throughout this part of the set, as fans eagerly anticipate being picked and lucky fans dance around the stage with Williams and co.

Paramore played a three song encore, including a HalfNoise track- ‘Scooby’s in the Back’- from their The Velvet Face EP. Half Noise are Paramore drummer Zac Farro’s other band. This was incredibly well received. They also played ‘Foregiveness’, before ending with their latest single ‘Hard Times’, which felt like a triumphant ending to an immensely successful gig.

This show felt like a special warm up show, teasing something huge that’s to come. It was an absolute treat. The band could’ve sold out venues twice the size or easily played three nights in a row, yet this felt exclusive. I can’t wait to see what they do next because I, for one, will be there.

Paramore, The Royal Albert Hall (19/06/2017)

Declan McKenna, Concorde 2 (31/05/2017)

Up and coming indie-rock sensation Declan McKenna played a triumphant show at Brighton’s Concorde 2, on the 31st May 2017. Girli (an energetic, feminist artist, with a sound vaguely reminiscent of a young Charli XCX with a Ke$ha edge) played a support set worthy of a headline act and managed to get the whole crowd engaged.

Declan McKenna- clad in the most fabulous American flag leggings, over laying pinafore and made-up, glittered face- brought his charming (and extremely significant) political tunes to a receptive Brighton audience. He opened with crowd favourite ‘Isombard’, which was met with dancing amongst the packed out audience, before seamlessly blending into ‘Bethlehem’. McKenna and his touring band played a selection of crowd-known hits, including ‘Basic’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, as well as ‘Paracetamol’, a poignant song which draws on audience reflection.

McKenna also played a selection of songs from his upcoming debut album, What Do You Think About The Car? McKenna has debuted tracks such as ‘Make Me Your Queen’, ‘Listen to Your Friends’ and ‘Why Do You Feel So Down?’ on this tour, all of which were enjoyed by the eager audience. McKenna played his latest single ‘Humungous’, which got the crowd singing along, with its catchy chorus, despite it only being days since its official debut. The already sweaty, packed out crowd danced all evening to what shaped up to be a career defining set.

McKenna ended the set with Brazil 2014 World Cup protest song, ‘Brazil’, which helped the 18-year-old win Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent competition in 2015. The song was played to a sea of confetti filled balloons (as McKenna couldn’t find any confetti cannons) bouncing on top of an already bouncing audience. He left the stage to huge applause.

There’s always a sense of protest, of teenage rebellion, of revolution at a Declan McKenna show, something which most gimmicky pop gigs lack. Yes, there’s confetti and glitter galore, but it’s not a gimmick. It’s a statement. At 18, McKenna voices a generation and I can’t wait to see where it takes him, especially after the release of the album in late July. Watch this space. It’s definitely his time to shine.

Declan McKenna, Concorde 2 (31/05/2017)

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