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)

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)

VANT, Banquet Records in-store, Kingston (23/02/2017)

“We don’t really do acoustic performances” Mattie Vant said as he clambered round half a drum kit and negotiated a stationary cash desk¬†“Anyone got anything they’d like us to play?”.

On the 23rd February 2017, VANT played the first of two shows at Kingston’s Banquet Records. The first show, the one I went to, was an under 18’s, 6pm in-store. The band played a “choose your own” seven song set, followed by an in-store signing and it was beyond brilliant.

A voice from the front shouted “Karma Seeker” before the band chatted about the arrangement and seamlessly broke into the opening bars of Karma Seeker, from their debut album,¬†Dumb Blood, which was released a week prior to the set. ¬†There’s no stage. Just the (full) band on the carpet at the front of a tiny record shop. They continue to pick members of the audience to choose songs for them to play and ended up rattling¬†through a broad selection songs from their debut album and previous EPs, such as ‘Parking Lot’, ‘Lampoon’ and ‘Fly-by Alien’.

The highlight of the set was the “heavy version” of their single ‘Peace and Love’, a particularly poignant and relevant song in today’s world. The full band played along in what could’ve been an arena performance, despite the unusual, quirky, yet overtly charming set up.

After the set, the band- who were equally as brilliant as their set- stayed behind to sign albums and chat to fans. We chatted for a bit about how good the debut album was and how refreshingly different it is and it was great to hear how full of genuine appreciation they were.

This little set really showed the band’s professional versatility and down to earth presence. Their music stands for something understated and under represented by today’s society and that’s what makes it cool (don’t forget their anti-Trump impromptu London sets last November). It’s protest music leaking into the mainstream and it’s brilliant.

VANT, Banquet Records in-store, Kingston (23/02/2017)

Two Door Cinema Club- Alexandra Palace (10/02/2017)

On the 10th February 2017, Two Door Cinema Club played the second of two sold out shows at London’s prestigious Alexandra Palace to top off the end of a triumphant sold out UK tour. Support for the show came from the next generation of indie-rock flag flyers, Sundara Karma (who were also on/about to start a UK tour at the time, in support of their debut album) and London exclusives Circa Waves (seemingly as ‘warm up’ shows for their upcoming UK tour in support of their upcoming album release in March). The band played songs spanning their extensive back catalogue, including many from their latest album, Gameshow.

The band played a similar setlist to that of which they’d be playing for headline sets at festivals and was, of course, fueled by fan favourites and new hits.

The band opened with ‘Cigarettes in the Theater’, from their debut album Tourist History. They quite often open¬†with this song as it’s a good strong way to get the crowd hyped up ready for a night of class music and dancing. They followed¬†it up with the instantly recognizable indie classic ‘What You Know’. The set was laced with those classic songs that audiences love, like ‘I Can Talk’, ¬†‘Sun’ and the sun-kissed ‘Something Good Can Work’. The audience went wild and the atmosphere was especially incredible because of Ally Pally’s all standing, compact, sold-out audience.

They played plenty of songs from their latest album, which was released last year. They sung the singles ‘Bad Decisions’ and ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’, which excited fans new and old. They played other songs from the album, too, including ‘Gameshow’, ‘Lavender’ and ‘Ordinary’. It’s incredible finally getting to hear these songs live after their release, especially when the atmosphere’s buzzing.

Overall, the night was brilliant. The evening was laced with a killer line-up, which played host to some of the finest new and established artists in the industry, plenty of crowd singalong hits and an atmosphere you’d want to save for a rainy day. I can’t wait to see what Two Door Cinema Club do next and look forward to seeing them at many festivals this summer, including headlining¬†Boardmasters and at Reading and Leeds.

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Two Door Cinema Club- Alexandra Palace (10/02/2017)

The 1975- The O2 Arena (16/12/2016)

“I’ve always wanted to say this… Good evening the O2” frontman Matty Healy speaks for the first time on stage, almost breathlessly, between ‘Heart Out’ and ‘Change of Heart’, as the band settle comfortably into the second sold out night at London’s O2 Arena. The Manchester lads appear on stage, suit clad, and perform an effortlessly brilliant and stunningly beautiful two hour set to a packed out arena.

The 1975 played the second of two sold out shows at London’s prestigious O2 Arena on their latest sold out UK arena tour. The Friday night show (this one) was the first of the two shows (and whole tour) to be announced and fully sold out in minutes. These shows are the band’s biggest shows to date and they were again accompanied by label mates The Japanese House. This UK tour tops off a massive year for the band featuring two UK tours (including three sold out shows at Brixton Academy and two sold out shows at the O2 Arena), a stunning number 1 album, a Mercury Prize nomination and plenty of festival sets. They’ve toured almost non-stop for the last year and it has been a rollercoaster ride.

The band played for nearly two whole hours and played songs which spanned across both albums and also previous EPs. Songs like ‘A Change of Heart’ bled seamlessly into songs like ‘Robbers’, whilst the set was sewn together by breathtaking instrumentals, talking and interludes, such as ‘Please Be Naked’ and ‘I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It’, from the latest album of the same name. ¬†The band’s song ‘Milk’ (a hidden track from the ‘Sex’ EP, which can be found at the end of ‘You’, if you’re willing to wait long enough) ¬†was played for the first time in the UK on this tour since 2014, due to fan demand, too.

“It’s been a mental year, hasn’t it?” Matty Healy asks the crowd between ‘Milk’ and ‘Loving Someone’, in reflection of their own year and also 2016 collectively. Matty Healy is known for his onstage speeches (I’m reluctant to in any way call them rants or preaches) and tonight’s speech seemed relevant and, almost, too real. I saw the band play Glastonbury the day after the Brexit vote had been announced where Matty spoke, before ‘Loving Someone’, about the lack of compassion outside of Glastonbury and wanting to encapsulate Glasto spirit and ethos and put it into everyone and everyday life and Matty’s words resonated with me. For some reason tonight’s words had the same effect. People listen to him.

“I’m not here to talk about politics. We’re not here to think about politics. We’re here for a release…” Matty opened “it’s not about fuck Donald Trump that’s the thing…We see loads of young, liberal, compassionate people every night, so this is like our world. This is the world that we see. So when things go at odds of that it’s really confusing and… it makes you really angry and the thing is I know it’s very sad to see all these young voices of progression and change being drowned out¬†by regressive, ideals and bullshit- it’s very sad- and it appears to be paradigms of race and it is about that and it is about gender and it is about age and it is about sexuality, but it’s also about a lot ¬†of those that voted against what we stand for… They feel so, so disenfranchised¬†by both sides of political systems that that felt like the right thing to do, so if we’re young, right, and we’re liberal and we’re compassionate and we’re Muslim and we’re black and we’re gay and we’re whatever, if we are that then it’s out responsibility to be compassionate and to listen to everybody, listen to their concerns and move things forward… and you are our people and we love you so fucking much you have no idea… This song is about loving someone.”

The band played ‘Loving Someone’ under a stage lit with rainbow colours, to symbolise the ‘pride’ flag. This, along with the speech, gave the song a special and important message, hidden within the lyrics. It’s one of the best, stand out songs on the album (if not the year), one which I like very much. It’s lyrics are witty and clever, but resonate. It’s almost a protest song, but one of and for peace.

The band played ‘FallingForYou’, but asked for fans to put down their phones and watch it with their eyes and in the moment, as opposed to on a screen. The band feel as though they’re simultaneously battling against modern life, but aiding it and supporting it perhaps more than all. There’s a definite feeling of wanting people to live in the moment and experience things, but also a ‘change the world’, ‘spread the word’ sort of message. It’s empowering. The arena was lit only by the stage lights and there was not a phone light in sight. This was amazing. A couple got engaged at the end of the song, too, and Matty Healy was one of the first to congratulate them- “good song choice, mate. Nice”- before trying (and failing) to get them on stage and ending up in the crowd for a selfie.

The band played a four song encore of ‘Medicine’, ‘If I Believe’, ¬†‘Chocolate’ and ‘The Sound’. During ‘Medicine’ the area was lit by lighters and phone torches. It was incredible and visually stunning to see the area lit up this way, as many looked around in awe. It felt intimate. However, ‘The Sound’ was the highlight of the set for me. A song destined for areas. The whole of The O2 Area was jumping with the band as they played for the last time leaving the audience on a high. It was a buzz which took days to shake- not that I had any interest in shaking it- and it was easily one of the best concerts I’ve been to this year.

The 1975’s stage design and craft were brilliant, too. The band’s¬†lit screens were the continuing focal point of the performance. The columns and accompanying screens changed colour sympathetically with the songs, as they have done on previous tours. However, this time The 1975 had light beams and screens either side of the stage so that fans at the back could see because the place was well and truly packed (right up to the top). The set was not just audibly pleasing, it was aesthetically pleasing too and created this immersive experience.

There’s something special in the community spirit of a show by The 1975. Something quite poignant and almost tragic, yet everyone’s brought together by the same thing. Take ‘Robbers’ for example where everyone joins in, without Matty Healy saying anything, by saying “Now everybody’s dead” or, similarly, in ‘FallingForYou’ where the whole crowd collectively sing “I don’t wanna be your friend I wanna kiss your neck”. Each song means something different to everyone and yet everyone is there together not only to celebrate The 1975’s music, something which everyone has in common, but also for their own personal reasons. It’s hard to stay objective about this.

What this show affirmed was The 1975 are made for arenas. They’re an arena band. I saw them play shows at the O2 Kentish Town Forum and at Brixton’s O2 Academy this year and, yes, they were good, but something about them makes them so fascinating on this huge platform. They almost need that. They’re a huge band, arguably one of the biggest, most current bands, and there’s more to it than just good songs. They crave the atmosphere of a huge arena.

Interestingly, The 1975 had been gradually deteriorating throughout the year (in my eyes). I’ve seen them six times this year- which is mad in itself- and each time has been very different. The first time I saw them this year was the first time they had played live since the album had been released at The O2 Kentish Town Forum for a BBC event. They were back and on top form and on their way to another number one album, which had been brilliantly recieved. This, however, slipped over the next few months, where I saw the band play at Radio One’s Big Weekend. The performance was upsettingly awful, somewhat cringe worthy and very embarrassing. In fact, I’d rather not have seen it. It ruined the ideals I had surrounding the band, although they’re only human. They were exhausted, Matty wasn’t allowed to drink or smoke on stage and was very angry, they were a drummer down (George Daniel had dislocated his shoulder) and were given a half hour set paralleling Stormzy, which was mostly spent with Matty mouthing off BBC staff and the institution about the smoking/drinking rules. At this point, I questioned whether the band (or Matty) would make it to the end of the year. Their set at Glastonbury totally redeemed this though and their BBC Radio 1/NME Stage headline performance at Reading Festival further confirmed their triumphant uprising. Their O2 Arena set, however, was unlike anything I’d ever seen them do before. It was stunningly breathtaking. Phenomenal. Matty Healy was on top form and any doubts I’d ever had had gone. They were truly brilliant. I hope this continues and I hope that they have a good break before releasing another album because they’re clearly exhausted. It’s been a year since I saw them play at The Brighton Centre and to go from The Brighton Centre to The O2 in a year is a huge step, but a necessary one. They can do it and they can probably do it better than anyone at the moment.

What’s next for The 1975? I don’t know. World domination, probably. Festival headline slots? Almost definitely. Watch this space. The 1975 aren’t done yet. They’re only just getting started.

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The 1975- The O2 Arena (16/12/2016)

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

Reading Festival 2016 Review

Reading festival 2016 took place from the 26th-29th August 2016. If you’ve not been to Reading before, Reading festival is a festival twinned with Leeds Festival ¬†(in… well… Leeds) and they share the same star-studded line up.¬†Reading and Leeds festival are festivals commonly associated young people, many of whom will have picked up their GCSE results the day before the music kicked off. This being said, there are still many people of all ages there (and I’m still not convinced people don’t bring their kids just to pick up used cups for a bit of cash), especially on the days where they pull in big classic headliners, this year’s being Red Hot Chilli Peppers and 2015’s being Metallica. This was my third Reading festival, but my first time camping and with my friends.

Whilst this year’s line up may have been sightly lack lustre and some of it seemed a bit odd to me, the weekend didn’t fail to impress, as always. The festival was headlined, or rather co-headlined, by Disclosure and Foals (Friday), Red Hot Chilli Peppers (Saturday) and Fall Out Boy and Biffy Clyro (Sunday). Other artists across the weekend included The 1975, Imagine Dragons, Jack Garratt and Blossoms.

Friday 26th August

The Wholls played their debut Reading Festival set on the BBC Introducing Stage early on Friday afternoon. The Bedford band “rolled out”, if you pardon the pun, to a large, inquisitive crowd, all eager and hungry for new music, under the beaming sun. The band played a short set, but attracted a large crowd. They played many a guitar laced rock song, including “Angry Faces” and the huge “X21”. I’ve been following the band for a while now and can’t believe they’re not bigger! With a true rockstar finish, a guitar was handed out into the crowd along with a few t-shirts. Keep tabs on The Wholls; they’ve not even started yet, but they’re about to grab your attention.

Manchester’s latest rising stars The Sherlocks once again dazzled a large Festival Republic Stage crowd. Following the success of last year and promising what was going to be a “special” show for the band, The Sherlocks played an energetic, optimistic set which proved their exciting future. The band played songs such as “Escapade” and “Live For The Moment” whilst fans sang, bounced and danced along. This set was special, as with their 2015 set, and will go on to define and shape their bright futures. The Sherlocks are a band not to be missed- and they’re currently on their UK tour, too.

Chvrches returned to Reading and Leeds following a triumphant set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage in 2014, but this time they played on the main stage. Any band who dedicates a song to Harambe (“RIP Harambe”, Martin Doherty announced before playing “Under The Tide”) deserves a mention if I’m honest. The band played a significant set, which could see them progress to headliner status in no time. The band played a crowd pleasing selection of songs, new and old, from their two albums (2015’s “Every Open Eye” and 2013’s “The Bones of What You Believe”). The distinct lack of collaborator Hayley Williams on “Bury It” was not to be looked down on as the band managed to pull of an ambitious set in front and seemed the perfect transition into co-headliner Disclosure’s set.

I used to have a love/hate relationship with Twenty One Pilots, but after their Reading Festival set they have well and truly won me over. Throughout the day everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) had been gushing over how brilliant Twenty One Pilots are and how good they’d be later on in the day (many people came solely to see them). I must admit, I was originally skeptical. The tent was overflowing with fans who couldn’t squeeze themselves in and I ended up watching most of it from the screen outside of the NME/BBC Radio 1 tent as there was no way I could fit inside. The set was nothing but captivating. For starters, I’ve never seen a man with a drum kit crowd surfing, nor have I ever seen someone finish a show (albeit abruptly… there’s a lot of conspiracy about what happened when Josh (drummer) crowd surfed during the show) on top of a huge pole thing and I’ve only once before (A Day To Remember 2014, incidentally at Reading Festival too) seen someone sing whilst “zorbing”, too… It was genuinely fascinating to watch and they had a¬†non-pretentious showmanship about them. The band played a hit filled set, which was filled from songs from their two albums (2015’s “Blurry Face” and 2013’s “Vessel”). They played songs, such as “Heathens”, “Car Radio” and “Stressed Out” (although many did leave after they played Stressed Out). ¬†Given a few years and seeing their popularity rocket, I wouldn’t be surprised if Twenty One Pilots were headlining in the future, but for now you can catch them play two huge shows at London’s Alexandra Palace later on in the year.

The main stage was closed by Oxford math rockers Foals. The band played a huge headline set which proved the band’s headliner status. Foals are a band who deserve all the success they get; they put on good, entertaining shows, play catchy up beat songs and are so easy to listen to that anyone could listen and enjoy. The band played many songs from their vast back catalogue, but, again, the highlight of their set was “My Number”. The set was not without its long deep-cut songs, such as “Knife in the Ocean”, and it’s old classic. The band reminisced with “Cassius” from their first album, “Antidotes”, which they haven’t played for a number of years, during the encore. The encore was short and consisted of recent hit “What Went Down”, “Cassius” and, as always, “Two Steps, Twice”, where the band were joined by co-headliner Disclosure. It was a pretty special set. I’ve been so excited to see Foals conquer the main stage at Reading as it’s time we found the next generation of headliners.

Saturday 27th August

Reading’s own Sundara Karma opened up the Reading Festival main stage on Saturday morning, a huge leap from their Sunday morning Festival Republic Stage set last year. Sundara Karma are a band full of huge potential and a band I’ve loved for a good year now, so I’d been very excited about seeing the band play again. Prior to the show temporary Sundara Karma logo tattoos were handed out to fans at the front and many were seen dotted about across the day. The crowd were enthusiastic, despite the rain and early morning start, and many mosh pits were formed throughout (whether or not you can mosh to Sundara Karma is debatable, but everyone was enjoying themselves so). The band played a selection of new songs from their upcoming debut album, including new single “She Said”, as well as previously released hits, such as “Flame”, “Loveblood” and “Indigo Puff”. The band are due to release their debut album, “Youth is Only Fun in Retrospect”, in January.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man is another of the George Ezra kind- what you hear and what you see is not what you first imagined, but it’s better than you could ever have guessed. My mum called me down to ask me who sang a theme tune song off of a programme not so long ago and it happened to be Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, so I felt I had to go and give him a watch. His voice is powerful and booming. It’s distinctive and unique, in a good way. I love the way he sings and how success close he is to success. The highlight of the set for me, though, was “Humans”, a song you should definitely have a listen to, if you haven’t done already. ¬†“Hell yeah!” he managed to get the crowd to yell and “hell yeah” the set was good.

Ahhhh Blossoms, what would a 2016 festival be without them? It was a big weekend for Blossoms. The band played a brilliant little set on the BBC Introducing stage on Friday afternoon and I met them on the Saturday morning in the BBC Radio 1 signing tent and they managed to pull of a faultless Saturday afternoon set on the large NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage, a huge step up from the BBC Introducing stage they played last year. The band played a set full of songs off of their UK Number 1 debut album, “Blossoms”, including “Honey Sweet”, “Blow” and “Blown Rose”. Tom Ogden (lead singer) played a solo acoustic version of the stripped back “My Favourite Room” and dedicated it to a dumped fan and her ex-boyfriend in the crowd. He was engaging, sweet and comical. The band dedicated their, arguably largest, hit “Charlemagne” to their close friends and tour mates Viola Beach and their manager Craig Tarry, who were tragically killed in a car accident earlier this year. The band managed to get everyone to sit down before Charlemagne and jump up after the tune kicked in. Blossoms are on their way to something big, like a huge main stage performance, so keep a look out for the Stockport lads- they’re everywhere.

The Courteeners¬†played a hit filled set under a ¬†sea of colourful smoke flare mist on Saturday afternoon, on the main stage. The band sang songs off of their upcoming album, “Mapping The Rendezvous”, including the first released song from the album, “The 17th”. The set was energetic and engaged with the eager fans, many of whom had been anticipating their performance (judging by the many, many fans with Fallowfield Hillbilly shirts about- “Can you play guitar, my boy? Can you fuck?”). The band played songs from their large four album back catalogue (excluding the latest, unreleased album), including the incredible “Not Nineteen Forever”, which was easily the highlight of my weekend. It’s a song which I love so much, and so did most of the crowd, and the song that got me in to the Courteeners and so it was a pleasure to have caught it! The band are playing on a UK tour in November, in support of “Mapping The Rendezvous”, which is out on October 21st.

I saw Vegas rockers Imagine Dragons at Reading Festival in 2014 and swore down it was one of the most fascinating and captivating performances I’ve ever seen in my life. They had drums, beaming sun and an adored selection of songs from their debut album, “Night Visions”. The same, err, couldn’t be said for their performance at the O2 in November last year, which was easily the most dire thing I’d ever seen (and not because of the band, who were still brilliant). I don’t know why, but Imagine Dragons are a band who just work¬†on festival stages, with the outdoor setting only complementing them. They thrive on the energy and enthusiasm of youth and manage to pull off incredible, fascinating performances consistently. The band played for the festival in the UK as a one off, in support of last year’s album, “Smoke and Mirrors”. The band managed to intertwine hits off of both albums to create a set to please fans both new and old. With a cover of Blur’s “Song 2”, Dan Reynolds (lead singer) singing from within the crowd and a lengthy guitar solo from lead guitarist Wayne Sermon (whose real name is Daniel… The third Daniel in the band), the band ended with a stunning performance of, arguably their biggest hit, “Radioactive”. The song was laced with booming drums and a chorus of people singing along to a song that many love a lot. ¬†Whilst it didn’t top their 2014 performance for me, they sure played a memorable set which was loved and enjoyed by all in attendance.

Two Door Cinema Club are back. The band are due to release a new album, “Gameshow”, in October and played Reading and Leeds in anticipation of its release. The set follows a summer of festivals, including Glastonbury earlier in the year. The set was built around the band’s popular back catalogue, with huge hits, like “Something Good Can Work” (a song which holds many memories for me of being about 12 and shopping in Hollister), “Sun”, “We Can Talk” and “Undercover Martyn”, being played. The set was impressive and had interesting visuals on screens behind the band. It was amazing hearing some of their big songs played, but it was also good to hear songs off of their new album, including the brilliant “Bad Decisions” and latest single “Are We Ready? (Wreck)”. Their NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage headline set proved the bands popularity and potential and I’m sure they’ll be back to play the main stage once again soon.

Sunday 28th August

Spring king played a raucous set on the NME/BBC Radio 1 Stage on the Sunday afternoon. The band played songs from their debut album, “Tell Me If You Like To”. I love their live set up. For a starter, the lead singer,¬†Tarek Musa, is also the drummer, which I find fascinating. The set was energetic and wild and the tent was packed out (and not because it was raining outside). The Manchester lads played songs such as “The Summer” and “Detroit”. They managed to get the crowd to sing “who are you?” along to the song of the same name and then ended the set with the popular “Rectifier”, which was met with applause. The band’s set cemented their place at the festival and welcomed them onto the larger stage, having played the Festival Republic stage last year.

Again, what would a festival be without Rat Boy? Jordan Cardy and his band mates pop up everywhere! The band played many a song off of multiple mix tapes and in the light of their future debut album, “Scum”, which is, hopefully, to be released early next year. The set was wild, hot and sweaty. The band, all bar Cardy himself, came on in masks of themselves, as seen on their Spring/Summer 2016 tour, along with a person dressed in a red boiler suit and a Rat Boy logo (I suppose)/Cardy creation yellow mask, who ran up and down the front of the stage and into the crowd multiple times in the set, like their own personal hype man. The set was full of crowd surfing, mosh pits, set climbing (and subsequent hand cutting) and jumping. The band played songs such as “Left 4 Dead”, “Fake ID” and “Sign On”, as well as their latest, recently released single, “Get Over It”. Rat Boy never fails to impress crowds with his antics- he even got the crowd to sit down (which they “did at Boardmasters”) and jump up at one point. I think they’ll keep going and going and I anticipate seeing them slay the 2017 festival scene once again.

Everyone loves The Vaccines, or so it seems every time I see them play live. Everyone knows The Vaccines; they’re pioneers of songs you know but can’t place just how and have been around for what feels like forever, or at least that’s what they mean for me. Their Main Stage set was busy, full of sing-a-long classics and thrilling from start to finish (although you wouldn’t have thought Justin Young (lead singer) thought so). They’re a band who can put together killer set lists and please fans of all ages. The band played songs from each of their three albums, including “Post Break-Up Sex”, “Teenage Icon” and “Melody Calling”. The highlight of the set was seeing so many people, old and young, dancing to “If You Wanna” at the end of the set, along with “Norgaard”. Easily one of the best acts of the weekend.

The Wombats¬†are another band that you probably just know and don’t know how. They constantly create relatable songs filled with teenage heart ache, jaded youth and clumsy tales. ¬†They’re, again, a band who hold a special place in my heart as they were one of the first “indie” bands I really got in to. In a weird turn of events, I managed to watch the set by myself and I can’t stress how amazing the experience was (watching one of your favourite bands by yourself and singing and dancing as recklessly as imaginable with no fear of real judgement is incredible). The band played songs from each of their three albums and played to a packed tent- a step up from last years very sweaty Festival Republic Stage headline set. The band played songs such as “Give Me A Try”, “Moving To New York” and “Tokyo (Vampires and Wolves)”. “Jesus… and the Mary Chain” muttered the band as they realised the scale of which they were playing and how “insane” it was. The band closed with “Let’s Dance To Joy Division”, a song which holds many memories to many people. I can’t wait for The Wombats to be back properly again. I miss The Wombats.

The 1975¬†have been building up to their Reading and Leeds sets for a good while now. The band have played many festivals this summer and promised their Reading and Leeds sets would be something special, and they were. Matty Healy (lead singer) was sounding the best I had seen for a while and sang often with cigarette in hand, obviously. I can’t help but love and be fascinated by Healy every time I see him. ¬†The first time I saw The 1975 play was at Reading Festival in 2014, where I was converted to being a fan of the band. The set was boozy, but something else. It was the last thing I properly saw at Reading Festival in 2014 and, incidentally, the last thing I saw at Reading Festival in 2016… Headlining the festival in 2018? It wouldn’t surprise me. The band played in front of their stunning visuals, which they’ve toured with for nearly a year, and back with their drummer, George Daniel, again. They played songs from their debut album, “The 1975”, and their latest album, “I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It”. The band played songs such as “Loving Someone”, where Healy even spoke the spoken word part in the middle, “Sex” and “The Sound”, where everyone had to jump on the count of four. “We’re going to go away and make another record and then come back and headline this whole thing” Healy promised fans, whether or not they will only time will tell, but for now their stunning NME/BBC Radio 1 set was enough to keep them remembered and treasured by fans. I look forward to seeing them play a sold out show at London’s O2 Arena in December.

Overall, Reading Festival 2016 was, once again, a huge success. With secret sets from You Me At Six, incredible performances on the BBC Introducing Stage and huge headline sets across all stages, I look forward to what Reading 2017 might entail. I can’t wait! I might, in the future, make a blog post about what I think festival season 2017 might look like.

 

 

 

Reading Festival 2016 Review