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)

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

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

Lorde-Melodrama (album review)

Lorde released her second studio album, Melodrama, on the 16th June 2017. The album follows up from her stunning debut album, Pure Heroine, in 2013. So far only two singles from the album- ‘Green Light’ and ‘Perfect Places’- have been released. The album focuses mainly on Lorde’s break-up with long term boyfriend James Lowe in 2015.

The album opens with the explosive hit Green Light. It’s the ultimate break-up song. There’s something so personal about it, whilst the lyrics are overlaid with a heavy syncopated piano and a strong dance feel. It’s an infectious opener, which stands strong as a single. It sets the tone of the album, as a break-up track- a theme which Lorde draws on a lot throughout.

Sober (again, with it’s syncopated beat) tells tales of growing up, late nights and love. It remains close to Lorde’s usual style. It incites a feeling of wanting to dance, the perfect party song.

Homemade Dynamite remains close to the style that made Lorde famous. It’s a brilliant song that is set to get crowds singing.

The Louvre is by far one of the strongest tracks on the album. It’s different to Lorde’s usual style, so much so that it’s refreshing. It’s a song about “having a crush”, Lorde told the audience at Glastonbury Festival, and that feeling of having a crush- the rush. The song encapsulates that ‘rush’, if you will. It’s filled with obsession, love, promise and hope. It holds a strong narrative, too.

This is followed on by the piano lead ‘Liability’, which is about that feeling of not fitting in, feeling too ‘different’, ‘weird’, “not good enough”, hopeless, almost. It’s gut wrenchingly poignant. I think it’s something most people can relate to in some respect and I think that’s why it commands so much respect as a song. It feels as though Lorde understands and connects with the audience, despite being personally confessional. It showcases her vulnerability as a writer and artist. A reprised- albeit more optimistic- version of Liability (‘Liability (Reprise)’) features later on in the album. It creates a somewhat theatrical sense, which makes it exciting to listen in full.

‘Hard Feelings/ Loveless’ is a post break up song. It’s incredibly sensitive and beautiful for a break up song. Lorde’s good at that. After 4 minutes, ‘Loveless’ plays after a sample- “what is this tape?This is my favourite place”- as if it’s almost not meant to be found. It’s a welcome treat.  Lorde sums up the modern generation as a “L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S Generation”, due to the way we love, through smartphones and Snapchat, as if it’s how she feels that she is meant to feel. She voices what is expected, what happens now, the norm. It’s interesting how she can go from writing such a reflective, passionate song and juxtapose it with a more generic, blunt break up song.

‘Sober II (Melodrama)’ feels like a triumphant reprise. It follows a narrative, like a show. The album is a spectacle itself and the almost theatrical side aides it. It feels like the album deserves to be played as one whole piece.

‘Writer in the Dark’ feels like it could’ve been a Kate Bush song. There’s something beautiful and fascinating about it. It’s one of the album’s key stand out tracks and unlike anything Lorde has done before. This versatility is what makes her so admirable.

‘Supercut’ seems almost like an epilogue for The Louvre. It feels reflective. Reflective of the last few years, of love, of fame, of friendships. It’s a beautiful song.

The final song on the album is ‘Perfect Places’. It’s the perfect closing track because it feels like it sums up the album. It sums up the life she appears to lead, the feeling of euphoric rush that comes with being young and tales of love and loss. It epitomises life. It feels triumphant, yet not overtly optimistic.

The concluding line “what the fuck are perfect places anyway?” is a lasting sentiment.

Lorde’s Melodrama is easily one of the strongest album’s of the year so far. It could quite easily have been a disaster, but Lorde pulled off the tricky second album with effortless ease. She did something different. She took risks. Ultimately, she told the story of life, of being young, of falling in and and out of love, of self deprecation and self worth and I think everyone can relate to that in some way. Lorde was young when she released Pure Heroine, she was championed by David Bowie and thrusted into the public eye, yet she has managed to grow and produce an incredibly mature, phenomenal record, which feels timeless.

 

Lorde-Melodrama (album review)

June 2017- What I’m Listening To

A month of festivals, tour announcements and new music (thank God).

Firstly, Rat Boy are finally releasing their debut album. The record is called Scum, which we already knew after Jordan Cardy (Rat Boy) teased it at Reading Festival last year. The record is out on the 11th August 2017 and features the previously released singles ‘MOVE’, ‘GET OVER IT’, ‘REVOLUTION’ and ‘FAKE ID’.

The Killers are back with a new album and single. The band are set to release their sixth sutdio album, entitled Wonderful Wonderful, later this year. The band released the catchy lead single, The Man, simultaneously to the record announcement. The single channels Two Door Cinema Club’s funky 2015 album, whist remaining iconically infectious, like most of The Killers songs are.  They’re also set to tour the UK in Winter this year, following their surprise Glastonbury set.

Everything Everything have announced a new album, A Fever Dream, which is due to be released on August 18th. The band also released lead single ‘Can’t Do’, which is equally as fascinating, mad and marvellous as their previous material. I love the absurdness of Everything Everything songs, which often include one absolutely brilliant, strange line, which is madly catchy.

Mystery Jets are set to release a remix EP, called The Electronic Earth EP. Key tracks have been remixed and reimagined from their 2016 album Curve of the Earth, especially to dance to and “shed new light on the material”, according to the band’s website.

Wolf Alice have released the raucous ‘Yuk Foo’ (or, err, “Fuck You”, as the song’s lyrics transpire) as the lead single from the second album, Visions of a Life, which is due to be released later this year. The single is explosive, angry and intriguing. You can’t tell a lot about how the album will pan out on just one song, as usually their songs are vastly different throughout- and that’s what makes them brilliant.

George Ezra has also released the lead single from his imminent second album. The single- which he debuted on his recent UK tour and is now a staple on his 2017 festival setlists-  is called ‘Don’t Matter Now’. It’s infectiously happy, upbeat and filled with summery, laid back vibes. It’s gloriously optimistic and I love it. I was lucky enough to hear his 2017 festival setlist at Wildlife Festival (his first festival of the season no less) and at Glastonbury and it’s great to hear our George performing such wonderful new tracks. I can’t wait for the album.

Lorde has announced a September UK tour, which includes a date at London’s prestigious Alexandra Palace, as well as dates at the Brighton Centre and at a string of O2 venues across the country. She will be supported by Khalid.

Reading’s Sundara Karma have also announced a September/October UK tour, which features a HUGE date at the O2 Academy Brixton. It’s so exciting watching Sundara Karma get bigger, especially after the release of their triumphant debut album earlier this year. The band are on their way to big things.

Blaenavon have also released a tour (with The Night Cafe). The tour kicks off in November and features a date at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire. These dates are set to be special, especially after the success of their debut album, That’s Your Lot, which was released earlier this year.

Just when you think there could be no more tour announcements… The Libertines released details of a seaside stop UK. The tour features dates in Brighton, Blackpool and Scarborough. I’m hoping the band showcase some new material, as a follow up to 2015’s Anthems For Doomed Youth.

Reading and Leeds festival have announced details of their Alternative Stage line-up. The stage offers a break from the music, with comics, speakers and DJs.  The line-up features DJ sets from Blossoms, Circa Waves and The Big Moon, as well as a Transgressive Takeover. The line-up also features comedy sets by Bill Bailey, Katherine Ryan and Joe Lycett.

Glastonbury Festival announced earlier in the month that Liam Gallagher and Johnny Depp were amongst the latest faces to join their mega 2017 line-up. The festival itself has since gone by in a flash and was a huge success. The festival was headlined by Radiohead, Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran and featured secret sets by the likes of The Killers and Elbow. Highlights across the weekend include the spectacular Lorde, Scotland’s finest Biffy Clyro and Blossoms. A full review will follow.

In July, I look forward to Finsbury Park’s first Community Festival (headlined by Catfish and the Bottlemen, with The Wombats, Slaves and Fickle Friends amongst loads of great acts) and the long awaited release of Declan McKenna’s debut album. There’s also Haim’s new album, which is set to be good.

This month I’ve listened to a lot of Anne-Marie’s brilliant ‘Ciao Adios’, which is already soundtracking my summer, as well as the Clean Bandit hit she features on- ‘Rockabye’- having seen her play at BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend. There’s also the summer hit that is Little Mix’s ‘Power’, which I’ve been enjoying (in various layers of guilty pleasure) since Big Weekend. I’ve also been listening to a lot of Everywhere’s latest single, ‘Man Up’, who are my new band of the month in June. I’ve also been loving Declan McKenna’s ‘Paracetamol’, as well as bit of Blondie. There’s also a lot of Lorde on this playlist, especially ‘The Louvre’, which I recommend you listen to at full volume on repeat for full effect.

 

June 2017- What I’m Listening To

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend marks the beginning of festival season for me and has been a significant event on the music industry calendar for years. Its star studded line-up features some of the hottest, hugest and perhaps even most exclusive artists and bands that the music industry has to offer, as well as a whole host of up and coming bands championed by BBC Introducing. Typically the artists found on the bill are those who get played on Radio 1, but, with an ever expanding audience and increasing interest in what would once have been hailed “niche” genres, the line up now crosses multiple genres and appeals to the masses, with grime becoming a big part of the two-day festival.

This year’s BBC Radio One’s Big Weekend is being held in Hull, at Hull’s Burton Constable Hall, on the 27th and 28th May 2017. The bank holiday weekend event is fully sold out now, with 50,000 tickets up for grabs across the two days, however Radio 1 have been running competitions to win the last few tickets. The event, as usual, will be streamed online, played live on BBC Radio 1 and the red button, and highlights will be shown on BBC 4 and on the BBC iPlayer. This year’s event is headlined by US pop sensation Katy Perry (who will also play Glastonbury Festival next month) on Saturday and BST headliners and alternative icons Kings of Leon. The festival is free ( apart from a very small booking fee)- yes, that’s right, FREE- and is currently Europe’s largest free festival, with some of the most successful artists in the world filling out the huge line-up. This is extraordinary in itself (especially when you look at the line up).

I was lucky enough to attend last year, on the Sunday, in Exeter and it truly is a world class festival. It was a gloriously hot weekend in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. The sets are the perfect length of time- probably around half an hour per artist, with an hour for the headliner, meaning the bands really only play the hits (with is good when the line-up is so diverse)- and there’s backing dancers and confetti galore! It set me up for festival season perfectly. Not only is Radio One’s Big Weekend a FREE event (and last year I was lucky enough that I got to see some of my favourite artists perform, let alone Coldplay, who I went on to spend over £70 trying to get tickets for at Wembley and saw again at Glastonbury), it also showcases some of the UK’s most wonderful places by bringing world class music to somewhere that doesn’t get much live music. It’s professionally curated and managed and is a brilliant family day out. You’d be a fool to miss it if you ever got the chance to attend.

This year’s line up is jam packed full of headliner worthy artists, spanning three stages- the Main Stage, the newly named ‘Where It Begins’ Stage and, of course, the famous BBC Introducing Stage (which even features some returning acts from the prestigious alumni). This year is set to be unmissable with artists from Biffy Clyro to Little Mix to Kasabian and Lorde all set to perform at the event over the weekend. I’m lucky enough to be attending on the Sunday again this year and I truly cannot wait.

Here are my weekend recommendations:

SATURDAY

Katy Perry (Main Stage headliner)– Pop-princess Katy Perry brings her bubblegum pop hit fuelled back catalogue to Hull for what promises to be an unforgettable headline set.

Biffy Clyro (Main Stage)– Scotland’s undeniable rock God’s are returning to Big Weekend, having headlined the In New Music We Trust Stage last year, in Exeter. Their set is obviously going to be brilliant, if their co-headline slot at Reading Festival last year is anything to go by. The band will surely play all the hits- from “Mountains” to “Bubbles” to the anthemic classic that is “Many of Horror”- as well as a whole host of songs from their latest album, Ellipsis.

Imagine Dragons (Main Stage)– If you haven’t seen an Imagine Dragons live set you’re missing out. The atmosphere- especially at an outdoor event- is not comparable to anything. The atmospheric drumming live in their hit single ‘Radioactive’ is phenomenal and never fails to excite a crowd. Their live sets are encapsulating and engaging.

Kasabian (Main Stage)– Reading Festival 2017 headliners are set to perform the Hull event amongst a whole host of equally as huge artists. Kasabian’s expansive back catalogue- spanning over 10 years- is sure to provide the weekend’s biggest sing-a-longs, not to mention their brilliant later releases, such as ‘I’m in Love With a Psycho’.

Lorde (Main Stage)– New Zealand’s finest talent Lorde is back and better than ever. The ‘Royals’ singer has released her first new music since 2013’s stunning Pure Heroine. Lorde has matured over the last few years and her songs are more sophisticated and catchy than ever. She’s set to steal the show at Big Weekend, especially after seeing her own Coachella earlier this year.

Zara Larsson (Main Stage)– She’s been part of the last year’s biggest and best collaborations, from ‘Symphony’ with Clean Bandit to ‘Girls Like’ with Tinie Tempah and even had one of the biggest songs of last summer with ‘Lush Life’. She’s one of pop’s most exciting up and coming artists.

Haim (Where it Begins)– Haim are well and truly back- having cancelled a load of festival performances last summer in order to finish their new record. The band have recently released the new single ‘Want You Back’, as a follow up from 2013’s Days Are Gone.

Lana Del Rey (Where it Begins)– Lana Del Rey isn’t as common a UK festival find as many of the artists on this list. This rare appearance is set to be something special, as the ‘Video Games’ singer gets ready to release her latest album, Lust For Life, which is due out in July.

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man (Where it Begins)– I’ve been saying it for the last year now, but if you haven’t seen Rag ‘N’ Bone Man you’re most definitely missing out. The 2017 Brits British Breakthrough Artist award winner (which was voted by BBC Radio 1 listeners) has a phenomenal, almost gospel voice that can draw crowds of thousands in. I expect Rag ‘N’ Bone Man will pull out all the hits of his debut album, Human, including the title track, which is sure to be a memorable sing-a-long moment.

The Amazons (Where it Begins)– The Amazons release their self-titled debut album the day before they conquer the Where it Begins stage (26/05/17). The Amazons are a band who have been supported by the BBC since the beginning and also made it onto my bands to keep an eye on in 2017 list.

Two Door Cinema Club (Where it Begins)– Two Door Cinema Club sing all the songs. Their sets are full of songs that you undoubtedly know, but don’t know how or why (and they’re bloody brilliant live). Their set promises to be huge, with songs from their impressive back catalogue of indie classics. You’d be daft to miss them play on a stage as small and exclusive as the Where it Begins stage; they could quite easily be headlining!

You Me At Six (Where it Begins)– Ahhh, You Me At Six. I listened to a lot of You Me At Six when I was in my early teens and it was a brilliant time of my life. The band knows how to push and play with the genre of pop-punk to create massive pop-rock records that are infectiously catchy and brilliant. They’ve just released their fifth record- Night People– which is full of bangers.

Declan McKenna (BBC Introducing)– Declan McKenna is returning to the BBC Introducing stage for a one-off return treat. He’s set to dazzle the audience with songs such as ‘Brazil’ and ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’ ahead of his debut album release, What Do You Think About The Car?, which is due out in July. This could be your last chance to catch the indie-rock king that is Declan McKenna before he becomes huge and continues to play increasingly large stages over the festival season.

Superfood (BBC Introducing)– Superfooood. They’ve been around for a while and have put out some brilliant records over the last few years, but it’s finally becoming real for the band. They’ve signed to Dirty Hit Records- who are the record label of Wolf Alice, The 1975 and The Japanese House- and are starting to release new music and, with the help of BBC Introducing, they’re set to make a comeback to remember. Superfood could easily play the bigger stages, so seeing them play the BBC Introducing stage is a treat.

SUNDAY

Kings of Leon (Main Stage)–  Kings of Leon headline the Main Stage on the Sunday of the festival. The band will play hits from their 14 year+ career, hopefully including the likes of ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’, as well as songs from their hugely successful latest album Walls, which was released last year. It promises to be big.

Bastille (Main Stage)–  Bastille played the festival last year and they were one of the acts people talked about for ages. Their first album- Bad Blood– is full of memorable, sing-a-long classics and it’ll be great to hear some of their 2016 latest album- Wild World– at the festival. Bastille have been touring a world tour, which saw them play nights at the O2 Arena.

Clean Bandit (Main Stage)– Clean Bandit could wheel out the special guests, due to their many collaborations with huge artists, which could potentially be exciting. I always end up in weird places watching Clean Bandit and I don’t know how or why but they’ve always been a treat. They’re brilliant live.

Little Mix (Main Stage)– Little Mix are opening the Main Stage on the Sunday. They’re set to bring a healthy helping of guilty pleasure, girl-band hits to the party to get it underway. The band- undeniably- have some absolute bangers and I’m fully expecting fellow Sunday performer Stormzy to join the band for their latest single, ‘Power’. Watch this space!

Shawn Mendes (Main Stage)– Shawn Mendes is another guilty pleasure, gloriously unapologetic pop act. He’s on a UK tour and this set in Hull is set to impress the pop hungry crowd. It’s hard to forget the catchy choruses and hooks of songs like Stitches and Mercy.

Stormzy (Main Stage)– Stormzy played the event last year and was undoubtebly one of the most talked about acts of the event, along with fellow grime artist Skepta. As grime continues to make waves in the music world, it’s especially significant that artists like Stormzy are getting the chance to dazzle such mainstream audiences on hugely accessible platforms. He will no doubt be talked about a lot this year again.

The Chainsmokers (Main Stage)- They’ve come along way since the “lemme take a selfie” days back in the Flappy Bird days of early 2014 (a time best forgotten). They’re responsible for some of the biggest collaborations of the last year, including ‘Something Just Like This’ with last year’s headliner Coldplay, which was debuted at the Brit Awards this year.

Royal Blood (Where it Begins headliner)–  Royal Blood are back with the first new music since their phenomenal self-titled album was released in 2014. Again, their music is probably something you’d recognise, even if you didn’t know they sung it. The Brighton duo are already huge and this set is set to be very special and I, for one, can’t wait.

Alt J (Where it Begins)– Alt-J’s incredibly atmospheric, ambient music is coming for Hull on Sunday afternoon. It’ll be great to finally hear songs such as ‘3WW’ and ‘Cold Blood’ played live, nestled between the songs that made they the band they are today. Here’s praying for Ellie Rowsell from Wolf Alice to join them for 3WW.

Christine and the Queens (Where it Begins)– I’m told she’s unmissable. 2016’s Chaleur Humaine was one of 2016’s big albums and her dancing is something to behold. The French performer’s incredible stage presence and brilliant songs are set to make this set something to remember.

Twin Atlantic (Where it Begins)– Twin Atlantic are undoubtedly one of the greatest bands that I’ve ever seen live (and the most down to earth, lovely band that I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet). The Scottish band are Sunday’s answer to the magnificent Biffy Clryo and they’re set to tear the Where it Begins stage up with huge rock riffs and loud lyrics. They’re something else live. It’ll be great hearing songs from their latest album, GLA, live, finally.

Circa Waves (Where it Begins)– Circa Waves are another great indie-rock band. Their sun-kissed sounding, glorious first album, Young Chasers, could soundtrack the perfect sunny Sunday, whilst their brilliant latest album- Different Creatures– brings a slightly heavier vibe. Here’s hoping for ‘T-Shirt Weather’.

Blossoms (Where it Begins)– No festival would be complete without Stockport’s finest export Blossoms. Blossoms bring their continuing tour to Hull to play songs from their debut album, Blossoms, as well as songs from its extended edition, which was released late last year. The band played a triumphant set as a returning guest on the BBC Introducing stage last year, which was brilliant, so this is set to be a treat.

Pale Waves (BBC Introducing)–  Pale Waves are label mates with the likes of Wolf Alice and The 1975. Their new music is The 1975 produced, too. What more could  you want? They’re about to hit the big time, so catch them playing intimate stages whilst you can!

The Big Moon (BBC Introducing)– The Big Moon return to the BBC Introducing Stage after the release of their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, which was released earlier this year. The band have been championed by Huw Stephens for years.

Of course, there’s so many other huge artists playing across the weekend who I haven’t named here- including Anne-Marie and Mura Masa- but these are my picks. You can check out the whole line up on the BBC Radio 1 website (https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/eppp6q) and it’s useful for more information if you’re going. You can keep up with the event via their Facebook page or via Twitter (@BBCR1). Below I have linked their own playlist of artists playing across the weekend for you to get hyped about, or pretend you’re there to, if you’re not going.

If you’re going I hope you have a great weekend and have a brilliant time. Let’s hope the summery weather holds like last year!

 

 

 

 

 

BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend Hull Recommendations 2017

March 2017- What I’m Listening To

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

March 2017- What I’m Listening To