2017

Ahhh, 2017. I don’t quite know where to begin! In a world of Brexit talks and Trump’s tweets, music lead the way for unity. From the tragic terror attack at the Manchester Arena after the Ariana Grande concert in May, which sparked international unity and created the “One Love Manchester” movement, to the rise in musicians speaking out about ‘taboo’ subjects, it really has been a big year for artists and fans alike. Ed Sheeran rewrote the chart rules (literally) and couldn’t be escaped and there were plenty of leading ladies who made their way firmly into the top spots this year too, with Dua Lipa becoming the first female British solo artist to top the charts with her single ‘New Rules’ since Adele in 2015. Oh, and there was a Glass Animals inspired pineapple ban at Reading and Leeds Festival.

Personally, I’ve had my ups and downs this year. Musically it’s been absolutely incredible though! I muddled my way through A-Level exams- with the help, exclusively, of Alt-J- passed my driving test and somehow ended up touring the UK for two months, in what was the most incredible and exciting experience of my life so far. I was incredibly lucky this year to see 167 different live music sets (through a mixture of festival sets, concerts, support acts etc), go to two weekend festivals, three day festivals and 12 concerts (excluding the many Happy Mondays gigs I saw and including four incredible Banquet Record shows).

Here are three of my biggest musical highlights:

1) I got to see Paramore play on my 18th Birthday. Paramore are my favourite band ever, and they have been for the last goodness knows how long. Somehow, after weeks of trying, I managed to get tickets to the sold out gig, whilst sat on the bus with a massive stomach ache (the things you remember, eh?). The day itself was absolutely incredible and the atmosphere was truly buzzing. They played a venue far smaller than they’re capable of, which made it feel really intimate, and the crowd sang along- loudly- word for word. It felt like the most triumphant welcome back for the band and made my birthday the best yet.

2) I had my mind sufficiently blown by Haim at Reading Festival. This year was my fourth Reading Festival and somehow I ended up winning VIP tickets. I’ve been going for years and have been lucky enough to see some of the most exciting live sets, but nothing else has been as awe-inspiring as Haim’s closing set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage this year. The band played what felt like the quickest, most fun set ever, with dancing interludes, an abundance of crowd interaction and the most incredible drumming to close the set- not to mention Este’s bass face! It was the first time I’d seen the trio and it definitely won’t be my last.

3) By far the biggest highlight of the year was Lorde’s Glastonbury debut. In fact, in many ways it ruined my Glastonbury as everything else didn’t seem quite as good after that. In my eyes, she could’ve headlined. Lorde played the Other Stage on the one week “birthday” of Melodrama’s release. She opened by teasing the crowd with an orchestral version of ‘Green Light’, before playing a mixture of tracks from her both her albums.  The highlight of the set for me though was ‘The Louvre’, which she introduced by talking about “crushes” and the “rush” you get from them. She then sat on the side of the stage- to be closer to the fans- and sang ‘Liability’, which she told the audience was about “not feeling as though you’re good enough”. The set felt special. It was a real spectacle, with dancers in tilting glass boxes and huge graphics projected onto large screens, but one which didn’t feel too brash or gimmicky. It was absolutely breathtaking.

In other news, it was a year of politics too, with the line between artist and political stance becoming increasingly blurred. From snap elections to “youthquakes” to “OOOOHHH JEREMY COOOORBYNNN” being shouted at almost every music event this year, it’s been an exciting year of political unrest. This, along with other global events (Trump, climate change etc), has inspired a wave of new music, with the likes of VANT and Declan McKenna leading the way. It’s been exciting to follow. It would be crazy not to mention the thousands of people who flocked to see Jeremy Corbyn speak at Glastonbury Festival. It felt like some sort of revolution was stirring.

By far the most exciting thing I’ve done this year is tour for a couple of months with the Happy Mondays selling their merchandise. I got to meet and work with some of the most incredible, creative and inspiring people ever, which was absolutely crazy. It was a brilliant experience. As well as this, I got to see a lot of the country and visit a whole load of exciting venues, in cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. I also got to see first hand how hard the security guards work in order to keep everyone safe and that, in itself, deserves some credit.

This year I listened to A LOT of Declan McKenna. I started the year off by listening- like every other person on Earth- to a tonne of Ed Sheeran. He was simultaneously the only person I wanted to listen to and the last person I wanted to listen to. It sounds dramatic, but no one could escape Sheeran’s grasp… I distinctly remember working one Saturday morning and listening to his latest album, Divide, on repeat for four and a half hours. I also kick started the year with a bit of Sundara Karma and Blaenavon, both of which released triumphant debut albums this year. Lorde soundtracked my summer though, along with Anne-Marie, Little Mix, Clean Bandit, Haim, Glass Animals and Dua Lipa. In the Autumn I was obsessed by Wolf Alice, Blondie and Marika Hackman, whose album I’m Not Your Man was one of the best released this year. Recently I’ve been loving Rex Orange County’s “Best Friend” and a whole load of other up and coming artists. I’m so excited to see what 2018 brings for them.

So, what’s to come? This blog is going to undertake a big makeover at some point. I’ve got SO much planned, which I’m really excited to share. I’m looking forward to seeing lots of up and coming artists release their debut albums, to going to many festivals and concerts and to seeing what the year brings in terms of comebacks.

Thank you for reading this blog. I know I’ve not been so good at blogging over the last couple of months, but I’m going to change that.

 

 

 

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2017

September 2017- What I’ve Been Listening To

This year’s Mercury Prize awards took place on the 14th September 2017 at The Eventim Apollo in London. Amongst this year’s nominated ‘album of the year’ contenders there’s the likes of Glass Animals, Blossoms, Kate Tempest and Loyle Carner. The list includes seven debut albums and five albums by artists from South London- that’s just under half of all the nominees. This year’s Mercury Prize was awarded to Sampha, for his stunning debut album Process. The South London singer won £25,000 alongside the award.

Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival have announced the first 50 acts performing at the festival. Ten Tonnes, King Nun, The Orielles, Stereo Honey, Feet, Sam Fender and Dan Stock are amongst the first 50 to be announced, with many more up and coming artists still to be announced. The 50 acts will play in bars and clubs across London from the 21st-23rd November.

Bedford born Tom Grennan has announced a huge UK tour alongside an album announcement. The album Lighting Matches is due to be released on the 9th March next year. It includes the latest single ‘Royal Highness’, ‘Praying’ and ‘Something in the Water’. Grennan is set to tour the album in March next year.

Noel Gallagher (and his High Flying Birds) have also announced a new album, called Who Built The Moon?, which is due for release later this year. Allegedly the album is inspired by French Psychadelic pop, which sounds fascinating.  The album is a collaboration between Gallagher and David Holmes and is set to feature some iconic musicians, such as Paul Weller and Johnny Marr. The announcement came with details of a new single, ‘Holy Mountain’, which is released on October 9th. The news didn’t stop there, Gallagher also announced a whole host of 2018 UK tour dates, including a huge show at London’s SSE Arena.

Jake Bugg is expanding his 2018 acoustic tour in support of his latest album. Bugg has announced dates in Brighton and London, amongst others, in ‘intimate’ venues which are set to make a spectacle of his solo show.

In other news, the BBC are bringing music back onto prime time TV- finally! Yes, we have Jools Holland, which is absolutely massive in terms of breaking new artists and showcasing some of the most uniquely talented artists from across the world, but the new show Sounds Like Friday Night is set to reach a broader audience. The programme, which will air on Friday nights, will be presented by Radio 1’s Greg James and Dotty. It will air for the first time on the 27th October and will feature a different artist as a host each week. On the first episode Jason Deurlo will co-host. The show is set to show live performances from successful bands and artists and also show sketches featuring some famous faces too. I’m looking forward to it because I think it’ll be interesting to see how the BBC are attempting to bring music back onto television, which is something we’re missing.

This month’s playlist features loads of Haim and Glass Animals, who I have been loving since Reading Festival last month (you can check out my review of it here). It also features songs from Superfood’s absolutely massive new album, Bambino, which was also released this month, as well as tracks from Ten Tonnes, Khalid, Pale Waves and Lorde. There’s a few tracks from Wolf Alice’s stunning second album thrown in too.

Next month I can’t wait to see Declan McKenna on his upcoming UK tour and I can’t wait to celebrate BBC Introducing’s 10 year anniversary with them at the O2 Brixton Academy.

 

September 2017- What I’ve Been Listening To

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

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

Here are my highlights:

Friday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Glastonbury Festival 2017 Review

*Apologies that these posts have taken an age. We’ve been without internet for nearly a month!*

This year’s Glastonbury Festival took place on Worthy Farm from the 22nd-27th June. The festival was headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran, with Bee Gee Barry Gibb playing the festival’s prestigious Sunday afternoon legends slot. Other notable acts across the weekend included Lorde, The Courteeners and Declan McKenna. The Killers performed a surprise set, which was headline worthy, on the John Peel Stage, and Elbow, too, performed a surprise set, which was on The Park Stage, on Friday.

This year’s festival felt very exciting. It came at a time of political unrest (a year on from Brexit), great new music- with grime deservedly taking centre stage- and a line-up sufficient to fill the Glastonbury shaped gap in the festival calendar next year, when they take a fallow year. This year’s festival was surprisingly sunny too- result!

Friday 23rd June

Glass Animals, BBC Introducing – There’s little more exciting than the opening act on the BBC Introducing Stage. It’s often big enough- yet secret and special enough- to rival whatever 80s legend is playing a killer set on The Other Stage, in this case it was The Pretenders (who played a pretty brilliant set). In recent years we’ve seen the likes of Circa Waves and plenty of other BBC Introducing alumni christen the stage, but this year it was the turn of glorious, indie art-pop band Glass Animals. The stripped back set was extremely short and sweet- a mere four songs long- but left the audience hungry (perhaps because of the sheer volume of pineapples dotted about the stage and throughout the audience) for their full band performance later that day. They played ‘Life Itself’ and ‘Season 2 Episode 3’, at the audience’s request, from their latest album How to be a Human Being, which was released later last year. They also played the hit ‘Gooey’ and ‘Black Mambo’, from their 2014 debut album ZABA.

Blossoms, The Pyramid Stage – It’s always brilliant to see a band graduate onto the prestigious Pyramid Stage (we saw Wolf Alice triumphantly do it in 2016), but none more refreshing, exciting or well deserved than that of Blossoms’ early afternoon set. The band played a setlist filled mainly with songs from their debut album Blossoms, which was released last year, with the odd B-Side and latest single ‘This Moment’ with Chase and Status thrown in for good measure. I’ve seen enough Blossoms shows over the last year to say that this was nothing much different to the rest yet this felt extra special. The sheer volume of the crowd reflected the huge year that Blossoms have had and it’s great to see them finally get the recognition they deserve.

Declan McKenna, John Peel Stage – 18-year-old Declan McKenna is no stranger to Glastonbury Festival, but this was his first taste of major stage success, despite being given the chance to play the same stage two years prior. The set came just weeks before the release of his stunning debut album, What Do You Think About the Car? It felt like a pivotal set of his career, with the chance to open up his already huge fan base to a totally different audience. His youthful depictions of life, love and-importantly- politics are refreshing and his energetic stage presence is exciting. He ran about and scaled things like any 18-year-old playing Glastonbury would dream of doing. He even crowd surfed, much to the securities dismay. He played again over the weekend (Sunday on the Left Field Stage, which seemed very fitting). I recommend you watch out for Declan McKenna; he’s only just getting started.

George Ezra, The Other Stage – George Ezra played the ultimate feel good, sing-a-long set on The Other Stage. His set rivalled an unannounced, not-so-secret set by Elbow on The Park Stage, yet the size of his crowd wasn’t hindered by this. Ezra played all the hits from his first album, opening with a jazzed-up, trumpet filled ‘Cassy-O’, closely followed by ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Blame It On Me’ and ‘Listen to the Man’, from his first album, Wanted On Voyage. George Ezra also showcased many a song from his long awaited second album, speaking tales of writing the album- like a delightful in person version of his weekly email updates- and what he learnt in the process of making it. He encouraged the crowd to sing along with his new songs, which they did and they did loudly. He even played his latest single ‘Don’t Matter Now’, which, at the time, had only been out for a matter of weeks and yet everyone knew all the words. When he ended with undoubtedly his biggest hit, ‘Budapest’, he seemed somewhat overwhelmed and moved by the audience’s reaction. He didn’t even need to sing it because the audience sang it so loudly for him! George Ezra is always a pleasure to see, but he really does pull out the stops for Glastonbury.

Lorde, The Other Stage – Lorde played Glastonbury for the first time this year, but she was welcomed as if she was a regular. There’s not many times that I’m emotionally moved by a performance, but Lorde’s set was something else. It seemed dramatic, theatrical, a spectacle- all words which, too, describe her incredible second album, Melodrama. Her second album was released a week to the day and Lorde described it as celebrating the album’s “birthday”. She performed in front of a moving glass cage-type contraption. Various actors would fill the container and interact to the music with one another, in front of a changing screen, using props. This was not a gimmick. At first I was confused, but the theatrical performance seemed fitting with the huge, dramatic production. Lorde opened with a short, orchestra lead version of ‘Green Light’ before bursting into a set full of new and old favourites. The pinnacle point of the set was Lorde performing ‘The Louvre’, from her latest album, which she explained was about “having a crush” and urged the audience to “close their eyes” and think of their crush when listening to the song. This flowed seamlessly into the emotional “The Louvre”, whereby Lorde sat on the front of the stage and explained how it was a song about “not feeling like you’re good enough”. It was highly emotional and felt incredible intimate, ironic given the setting. Lorde sang and danced throughout, even ending up in the crowd at points. She played an incredible set, one which topped my entire weekend.

Saturday 24th June

The Magic Gang, William’s Green – Brighton’s own The Magic Gang managed to bring their chilled indie-rock to an eager crowd on the Saturday morning of Glastonbury Festival. Many a huge band have played William’s Green at some point in their career and I’m sure this won’t be the last time we see The Magic Gang at the festival. The band played a selection of tracks from their EPs, including latest single ‘Your Love’, and the audience loved every minute of it.

The Amazons, John Peel – I’m a huge supporter of The Amazons and love their music, but if ever there was a moment you don’t want to have your electrics fail on you this was it. The set was laced with technical issues but proved triumphant nonetheless. The band played to a packed out John Peel tent, which is a promising sign for any up and coming artist, and played the majority of their 2017 self-titled debut album. The set was full of highlights, from the bold ‘Junk Food Forever’ to fan favourite ‘Black Magic’.

Katy Perry, The Pyramid Stage – When faced with the hideous clash between Liam Gallagher and Katy Perry, who do you choose? I spoke to a guy who saw both and his verdict was Perry. The risk of missing a potential- yet hideously unlikely- Oasis reunion tempted the masses but pop-sensation Katy Perry played to nothing short of a full Pyramid field. I find Katy Perry extremely fascinating and her bubbly stage presence and brash production overtly captivating. The set was odd from start to finish (what else would you expect?). Perry came out dressed as some sort of sparkly school child- pink hat and rucksack in tow- with latest album eye logo plastered pretty much everywhere. There was a huge pink moving eye, pom-pom clad dancers a plenty and confetti cannons to make any audience happy. Gimmicky? Maybe. Fascinating and theatrical? Absolutely. Perry played hits from her latest album, including the singles ‘Chained to the Rhythm’, ‘Bon Appétit’ and ‘Swish Swish’, but ultimately it felt obvious she was there to sell her latest album- Witness– which had recently (unfairly) flopped in the charts. Perry played unknown song upon unknown song from her latest album, which became slightly laborious after a while. Having said that, the odd hit she peppered in was absolutely incredible and the atmosphere was buzzing. The mash-up of hits and (infuriating) rearrangement of ‘Teenage Dream’ made up for the lack of desire for the newer songs. You can’t say she’s not entertaining though!

Alt-J, Headliners of The Other Stage – We tried the HUGE (on all accounts) Pyramid Stage set Foo Fighters, which was filled with hit upon hit from their massive expansive back catalogue, tributes to Florence and the Machine’s 2015 filler- but killer- headline set and two and a half or so hours of Dave Grohl being the absolute legend he is, but settled for Alt-J’s euphoric Other Stage headline set. Alt-J are a band I’m fascinated by. Their live sets always feel as though they’re an experience. A journey. This was no exception. The audience were taken on a journey through the last few years of Alt J material, as each song was seamlessly- and effortlessly- sewn together by instrumental and an impressive light show. Alt-J proved that they know how to navigate a good headline set.

Sunday 25th June  

Sundara Karma, John Peel Stage – You can’t go far without escaping the up and coming indie kings that are Sundara Karma and rightly so. Sundara Karma have picked up massive momentum this year, having released their huge debut album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect, toured the UK both on a headline tour and with indie legends Two Door Cinema Club and set to embark on a huge tour which includes a date at the Brixton Academy. The tent was filled with new and old fans, as they played songs from their debut in both its standard and recently released extended form. I’m beyond excited to see where this leads them, but things are looking up- perhaps they’ll do a Wolf Alice or Blossoms and we’ll see them on the Pyramid Stage in a matter of years?

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, The Other Stage – Is there anything Rag ‘N’ Bone Man can’t do? More specifically, is there anything he can’t do without total grace and gratitude? Brighton’s Rag ‘N’ Bone Man seemed to soak up and enjoy every minute of his Glastonbury set. He seemed genuinely grateful that so many people had turned out to watch his hour long set and that’s something that came through in his flawless singing. He sang many a song from his debut album ‘Human’, which was released earlier this year, including the pop-hit title track and others, including ‘Skin’ and ‘Wolves’. He even brought out and shared the stage with his previous rap collective, an understandable yet contradictory move away from his famous soulful voice. He’s a special act.

The Killers, The John Peel Stage – The weekend had been swarming with rumours as to what the mysterious Sunday John Peel Stage TBA act could be. The area was so heaving they had to block all entrances off and stop more people from entering the field and people spilled out of the tent in all directions (you were lucky if you could get close). Luckily, the set turned out to be none other than The Killers, who played a headline worthy set. The band rattled through their hits- ‘Somebody Told Me’, ‘When You Were Young’, ‘Smile Like You Mean it’- as well as their infectious new single, ‘The Man’. Brandon Flowers needn’t sing as the crowd sung along (loudly) word for word on every single song. It was pretty incredible really. The hightlights included the bridge of ‘All These Things I’ve Done’ where thousands sung ‘I got soul, but I’m not a soldier’ back to a blown away Flowers and, of course, Mr Brightside, which still remains one of the greatest songs of all times.

Biffy Clyro, The Pyramid Stage – Biffy Fucking Clyro played Glaston-fucking-bury for the first time in a few years and they had been missed. The band played a hit-filled, guitar fuelled set which could quite easily have filled a headline slot. It’s refreshing to see such an incredible rock act play at such an accessible, all-genre embracing festival and seeing the crowd- plenty of whom waiting for pop icon Ed Sheeran- enjoy it despite it being unusually different from the day’s headliner. Songs such as ‘Many of Horror’ provided one of the most goosebump inducing moments of the weekend, as the entire crowd sung back to Simon Neil (lead singer) and Co.

Ed Sheeran, Pyramid Stage Headliner – I’d been eagerly anticipating Ed Sheeran’s headliner set for the best part of six months, let along the few days of the festival that had already been. Sheeran played- entirely solo, with the help of his trusty loop-pedal- centre stage with hundreds of screens behind him projecting his face almost everywhere whilst he delivered a set everyone could sing along to. He made remarks about the audience ‘knowing it even if they didn’t like it’ and assertively directed the crowd to sing, jump and dance at intervals. I wasn’t disappointed by his set, but it had nothing on the likes of Biffy Clyro, The Killers or, especially, Lorde. He’s pretty admirable and gutsy to do it though, you have to give it to him.

 

 

 

 

Glastonbury Festival 2017 Review

Glass Animals- How To Be A Human Being (Album Review)

Glass Animals released their second album, How to be a Human Being, as a follow up to 2014’s ZABA. The album was released on the August 26th 2016, on Caroline Records, and features the singles ‘Life Itself’, ‘Youth’ and ‘Season 2 Episode 3’.

The album opens up with the exuberant ‘Life Itself’, a song with drum beats reminiscent of those from the other side of the world, futuristic synths and unbelievably humorous and catchy lyrics- “She said I look fat, but I look fantastic”. It’s a huge summer anthem- one which I’ve had on repeat- and it presents itself with funny, yet tragic, characters, many of whom make up the album.

‘Youth’ is a sad song, sung from the perspective of a parent to a child. Dave Bayley (lead singer) said the song was “inspired by a devastating story [he] had heard from a stranger about her song” (to NPR).

I love the ‘video game’ feel of ‘Season 2 Episode 3’, with its video game sound effect samples, which remind me of something from Super Mario Bros. There are references to cartoons in there too, like Adventure Time. Again, it’s a song filled with many a hilarious and interesting lyric, this time about a lazy female character- “My girl eats mayonnaise from a jar whilst she’s getting blazed”.

‘Pork Soda’, ‘Cane Shuga’ and ‘The Otherside of Paradise’ continue this fascinating story filled with characters. It’s very easy to listen to, whilst still being unique and interesting.

‘[Premade Sandwiches]’ is 36 seconds of  distorted speech. When you look at the lyrics, it’s an ‘interlude’, if you will, of post-modern references, almost poetically put together. The lyrics speak the truth and heartache of modern life- I suppose it’s how, really, human beings are now. There’s references to a “superfood” obsessed country, McDonalds (“People standing in line to buy whatever the McFuck they might want to shove down their foodpipes tonight”), plenty of emphasis and repetition of “people standing in line” and the concept of having to have “new” things. I like it; it’s clever.

The album closes with ‘Agnes’, a slower tempo song. The song is written about Agnes, another character we meet in the album. It’s a beautiful, yet tragically sad, song which outlines watching a friend succumb to drugs and not really being able to help or intervene. It’s an incredible song, which is allegedly Dave Bayley’s favourite on the album- I can definitely see why. It’s a poignant closer to the album, but it leaves a lasting impression on the listener.

It’s important to talk about the album artwork here. The album cover features 11 figures, characters even, each relating to a song. The characters look somewhat similar in arrangement to a dysfunctional family photo and I like the idea that they are the cast of the album- all inspired by stories told and heard on the road.

Overall, I love the album and the stories behind it. I think that it’s a brilliant album full of huge hits and bittersweet songs, tragic tales and upbeat, oriental anthems. The band are on tour of the UK in October this year and again early in 2017.

 

Glass Animals- How To Be A Human Being (Album Review)