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

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man- Human (Album Review)

On the 10th February 2017, British singer-songwriter Rory Graham- more commonly¬†known as Rag ‘N’ Bone Man- released his number 1 debut album, Human,¬†on Columbia Records. The album is currently the fastest-selling debut album by a male artist this decade so far, with sales of 117,000 in its first week. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man won the Brit’s critic’s choice award this year, as well as another Brit award for the ¬†Best British Breakthrough Artist at last month’s ceremony. The standard CD features 12 full length tracks, including the singles ‘Human’ and ‘Skin’.

The album opens with the stunning lead single and title track ‘Human’. It’s undeniably powerful and sets the tone of the album perfectly. It feels confessional, like he’s revealing all and enticing the listener to keep listening. Above all, it’s a huge, strong track (one that crowds love live too).

The album is full of soulful, blusey tracks, such as ‘Innocent Man’, ‘As You Are’ and ‘Odetta’, all of which have a modern feel, influenced by his MC ties. ‘Ego’ features Graham rapping and going back to his MC roots.

‘Skin’ is another stand out track from the album and the latest single from the album. It’s a song you can imagine large crowds singing. It’s big- anthemic even- and features gorgeous backing vocals, featured on many of the album’s tracks.

‘Be The Man’ has a modern, upbeat tempo. It feels classic, yet original. It fits nicely between ballad ‘Love You Any Less’ and ‘Bitter End’. ‘Grace’ is another stunningly beautiful song.

‘Die Easy’, the final track on the standard album, features just Rag ‘N’ Bone Man singing acapella. No instruments, no backing singers, no big production. Just a showcase of Graham’s stunning vocals, something which this album does brilliantly.

Overall the album is wonderful. It’s full of songs showcasing Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s undeniable talents. Having said this the album-¬†in all it’s brilliant production- seems quite similar one track to the next. If it works keep using it, I suppose. I can’t wait to see what he does next and I look forward to seeing him play over the summer at various festivals.

 

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man- Human (Album Review)

2017- Ones to Watch

If there’s anything certain for 2017 it’s that the music industry is about to be stormed by a handful of up and coming artists who are just about to break it. Last year’s list featured artists like Blossoms (who went on to pretty much own 2016), Rat Boy and The Japanese House, all of which have gone on to have huge success. There are hundreds of bands and artists I could write about (and I’m still planning a huge master post of them all), but here are a selection.

Sundara Karma– I featured Sundara Karma on the list last year and they’ve done a lot since then (toured constantly, played Reading Festival, Glastonbury etc), however I think 2017 is going to be their year. They released their debut album,¬†Youth is Only Fun in Retrospect,¬†at the beginning of January and are about to go on a UK headline tour (featuring a date at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire) and support indie giants Two Door Cinema Club. There’s no doubt that the band will probably play all the festivals (John Peel or The Other Stage at Glastonbury maybe?) and they’ve probably got a few more tour dates up their sleeves (a huge Brixton show would be brilliant?!). You’d be mad not to catch them. I’ve been saying it for the last couple of years, but Sundara Karma are a band with songs that could easily fill arenas. Their songs are catchy, upbeat and powerful. I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get the recognition they deserve.

FOR FANS OF: Two Door Cinema Club, Circa Waves and (mainly) easy listening, feel good indie rock.

HAVE A LISTEN TO: She Said, The Night and Flame

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man– Rag ‘N’ Bone Man- whose real name is Rory Graham- is set to become one of the most successful up and coming artists of 2017. Graham started as an MC and some of this still seeps through into his current material- take ‘Wolves’ for example (a collaboration with Stig Of The Dump) or ‘Rain’ (with Kate Tempest). He has the most stunningly beautiful blusey voice. It’s deep and powerful. It’s another George Ezra effect, you don’t expect the man singing to look how he does but in all honesty it tops it off perfectly. Brighton based Rag ‘N’ Bone Man has already won 2017’s Brits Critic’s Choice Award, following in the footsteps of Adele and James Bay (amongst others). There’s actually nothing quite like him. His voice is so powerful. He’s already confirmed to play Isle of Wight Festival and Wild Life Festival.

FOR FANS OF: Something unique and soulful, blusey, powerful voices.

HAVE A LISTEN TO: Wolves, Human and Hell Yeah

Declan McKenna: Newly turned 18 year old Declan McKenna is already taking the music world by storm. Having toured with the likes of Blossoms and Cage the Elephant, performed on Later Live With Jools Holland¬†and having won the 2015 Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition he’s definitely someone you should know about. His music has a laid back quality, whilst still remaining witty in lyric and incredibly catchy. McKenna is a brilliant example of what the future has in terms of music. He’s got something important to say, too. His song ‘Paracetamol’ was inspired by a transgender girl, Leelah Acorn, who committed suicide in late 2014 and the media’s representation of the LGBQT community, incredibly infectious ‘Brazil’ is all about the corruption within FIFA and the effects of the World Cup on Brazil and ‘Isombard’ has hints of extreme right wing views trying to be justified by those with power without proper understanding and a total disregard for those who it affects (ignorance I suppose). Declan McKenna is important and necessary in today’s world and I couldn’t be happier that people like him are leading the way for my generation. McKenna has just finished on a UK tour and has just released his latest single, “The kids Don’t Wanna Come Home”.

FOR FANS OF: The View, music with a message and brilliant indie-rock.

HAVE A LISTEN TO: Brazil, Bethlehem and Isombard.

VANT: “We’re VANT from planet Earth” is what Mattie Vant (lead singer) introduced the band as. It’s something I’ve remembered. This is a significant statement; they don’t believe in world boarders. VANT are a politically driven band producing today’s version of protest music. They stand proud for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to fight for it. Their music is loud and unbelievably catchy. ¬†It’s a breath of fresh air on the indie-rock scene. The music creates a hybrid across genres, too. They’ve toured with the likes of You Me At Six, regularly feature in Kerrang, they’re an NME favourite, they’ve already triumphantly conquered Glastonbury and Reading Festival AND they’re due to release their debut album this Feburary. Their music is universally relevant and something you should check out.

FOR FANS OF: Spring King, Palma Violets and music with a message.

HAVE A LISTEN TO: KARMA SEEKER, FLY-BY ALIEN and DO YOU KNOW ME? (yes, they’re all brilliantly capitalised)

¬†The Big Moon– The Big Moon are a dreamy all-female four piece indie-rock band from London. Their music sounds like the firey remains of their 90s predecessors and their melodic tunes are nothing but a treat. ¬†I first heard of the band because they were supporting The Maccabees on their January 2016 UK tour and I’ve been hooked since. Their music is so easy to listen to and unbelievably catchy and their live shows are frill-free and fascinating. They’re set to release their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, this year too.

FOR FANS OF: Haim, Spring King and Sundara Karma

LISTEN TO: Sucker, The Road, Cupid and Silent Movie Susie

Blaenavon– I can’t quite describe how much I love Blaenavon. Their music is the type of music you want to fall in and out of love to, look dramatically out of bus windows on drizzly days to and dance to, simultaneously (or maybe that’s just me). Their music has this sophisticated, laid-back indie vibe and it’s something you don’t see a lot at the moment. Their EPs are each stunningly composed with absolute bangers, from the loud ‘Hell is in my Head’ (which I first heard in a supermarket car park on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show) to their latest single ‘Orthodox Man’, which you can help wanting to sway to. They’ve done a lot of supporting over the last year (from Sundara Karma to The Hunna) and I think it’s paid off. Blaenavon are a gem and shouldn’t be missed. Their debut album,¬†That’s Your Lot, is out in April (and their EP and album artwork is brilliant too).

FOR FANS OF: Swim Deep, Peace, Circa Waves and Sundara Karma

LISTEN TO: Let’s Pray, Orthodox Man, Hell is in Your Head and Prague

Cabbage– Cabbage are Manchester’s answer to the universe. Their music tells the truths of Tory Britain, struggles of modern day life and are a beacon of truth for many of Britain’s youth. Again, their music has something significant to say (and something that shouldn’t be ignored). They definitely don’t want it written about in The Sun though. It’s not something your parents will love (and that’s the point). They join the NME tour with Blossoms later this year and you should probably prepare to see them at pretty much every festival going.

FOR FANS OF: Slaves, Palma Violets and The Libertines

LISTEN TO: Fickle, Terrorist Synthesiser and Dinner Lady

Will Joseph Cook– Nothing but feel good indie rock from a chilled out teenager who knows how to write a killer tune. Ugh, it doesn’t get much better than ‘Take Me Dancing’. It’s the epitome of euphoric music. Will Joseph Cook goes on tour supporting Sundara Karma this month.

FOR FANS OF: (a toned down) Everything Everything, Cage the Elephant and Viola Beach

LISTEN TO: Take Me Dancing, Sweet Dreamer and Girls Like Me

Clean Cut Kid– ¬†I don’t really know how Clean Cut Kid aren’t huge. They’re here, there and everywhere at the moment and have been firm festival favourites, supported bands like the Courteeners and have released a handful of brilliant EPs brimming with feel good hits. The band offer something unique that works, but also something that remains quite classic. I can’t wait to see where this year takes them.

FOR FANS OF: alll the indie music and something a bit different

LISTEN TO: We Used to be in Love, Vitamin C and Runaway

The Amazons– The Amazons are one of those bands on the cusp of success. They’ve been around for a couple of years, but they’re just starting to make their mark on an ever evolving industry. Their area sized songs echo that of successful bands that have come before them. They’re going to be a band you hear about a lot over the next year. Watch this space.

FOR FANS OF: Sundara Karma, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Viola Beach, The Sherlocks and Blossoms

LISTEN TO: Ultraviolet, Stay With Me, In My Mind and Night Driving

Of course, there are many other artists who could’ve been featured on here and I’m still planning a huge post with them all on, but for now these are my essential ones to keep an eye on. This year’s future big names are mainly young people with message who write music with meaning. Long are the days where music is all about ex-lovers and turbulent relationships. It’s all about making the world a better place and fighting for what you believe in.

2017- Ones to Watch

What I’m Listening To- December 2016

December 2016 wasn’t just festivities. It proved a brilliant month for music, too.

Firstly, Reading and Leeds announced their first batch of artists for 2017. They announced Muse as their first headliner (which is huge) and I’m excited to see them play Reading having seen them triumph at Glastonbury in 2016. Muse are no stranger to headlining festivals and their festival sets are always visually spectacular, comfortable and full of hits. The rest of the announcement is a mixed bag, with artists like Bastille, Glass Animals, Major Lazer, While She Sleeps and Tory Lanez (amongst a handful of others). Whilst this announcement doesn’t look entirely promising, I know that the line up will pull itself together as it always does and that the weekend will be brilliant anyway. I can’t help but wonder what- or rather who- is next!

In other festival news, Shoreham’s Wildlife Festival- which was set up by members of Disclosure and Rudimental- is set for its third year at Shoreham airport. The festival will take place on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th June 2017 (which is a bit odd if you ask me… especially with it being exam season). The change of days allows them¬†party until 1am each night. A line-up announcement is expected to follow shortly.

Isle of Wight Festival have also made another announcement. Arcade Fire (Saturday) complete the headlining trio, along with Rod Stewart (Sunday) and co-headliners Run DMC and David Guetta (Friday). Other artists announced include (my absolute favourite) George Ezra, Bastille, Jack Savoretti and the phenomenal Rag ‘N’ Bone Man. The festival runs from 8th to the 11th June. More information can be found on their website:¬†http://www.isleofwightfestival.com/

Rag ‘N’ Bone Man follows in the footsteps of artists like Adele, Florence and the Machine and James Bay by winning this year’s Brits Critics Choice Award. I’ve been following (and loving) Rag ‘N’ Bone Man’s music for nearly a year now and have been lucky enough to see him a couple of times like. He has the most incredible voice. It’s powerful, soulful and haunting. This award couldn’t be anymore deserving and I can’t wait to see what’s next for Rag ‘N’ Bone Man- whose real name is Rory Graham- and to get the exposure he deserves. He was up against pop-pioneers Dua Lipa and Anne-Marie. The full list of nominations is expected in January and the award ceremony takes place in February.

Both Royal Blood and Kasabian have been teasing new music. Royal Blood posted an album teaser video showing Mike Kerr (frontman) getting a tattoo of “2017” on his arm. It’ll be hard to follow up their 2014 self-titled album, but I can’t wait to see what they bring out. Kasabian teased new music on Christmas day with a one-minute clip of new song ‘Pressie’. This was following a 2017 Italian tour date announcement. It’s rumoured that they’ll bring out a new album in 2017 and I hope to see them tour with it.

Another month brings another (very sad) celebrity death and this time it was George Michael, on Christmas Day. The news came as a shock to many and his music had been influential throughout the last 20-30 years. What’s more, after he died a lot of his incredible charity work came to light, which he did anonymously. The cause of death is currently unknown, but the circumstances are still shocking and upsetting.

This month I have listened to a lot of Biffy Clyro- very festive, eh? Their latest album, Ellipsis, is stunning. It’s filled with huge songs and plenty of guitars and I love it. I’ve also listened to a lot of Brit-pop and 90s indie, having come back from touring with Black Grape. I’ve listened to a lot of Black Grape again this month and I’ve also been rediscovering my love for Arctic Monkeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I’m Listening To- December 2016

November 2016- What I’m Listening To

It’s been a long time. Too long. I’ve been busy lately, hence the distinct lack of blog posts, so this could be a bumper post. Brace yourselves.

Where do I even begin? Everything seemed to happen in November 2016!

Firstly, The Big Moon have finally announced details of their debut album. I can’t wait to hear the album because it has been a long time coming. I remembering hearing them for the first time about a year ago (when I found out they were supporting The Maccabees) and have been obsessed by their huge indie anthems and grungy guitars. The album is called Love In The 4th Dimension and includes songs such as “Cupid”, “Sucker” and “Silent Movie Susie” and is available to pre-order now, before it’s released on the 7th April 2017.

VANT took to the streets of London to play various anti-Trump shows in early November. The band played in various secret locations in London for #DontDoABrexit¬†shows, such as Brixton station and Oxford Circus. They aimed to “encourage the idea of bringing important conversations back into the real world”. Despite the Trump win, I admire VANT for doing this. VANT are politically fuelled and inspired, in a real punk kind of way, which we don’t get so much anymore. There’s definitely a rise in this ‘punk-laced’ music, with artists like Slaves and Cabbage taking the world by storm, but there’s a distinct lack of activist and protest music about. We should be talking about things like this collectively. It only helps.

Blossoms have also announced a Spring 2017 tour, where they’ll play venues such as the London Roundhouse (!!!!) and The Brighton Dome. This announcement went hand in hand with an extended album announcement, which features all their previous EP tracks AND the latest album all in one album! I usually hate deluxe albums and extended editions, but this one is particularly stunning. All this was announced during the band’s latest sold out UK tour, where they played their biggest ever sold out show at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

November was an unexpectedly big month for Circa Waves. The band announced details of their second album Different Creatures and announced the song ‘Wake Up’ as the lead single. The single is similar to their older material, however it’s seemingly less sun kissed than the last. I can imagine it being an absolute banger live, too. It’s a brilliant song. The record is out on 10th March (and co-produced by Alan Moulder, who has been a producer for bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Killers) and hopefully this means we’ll see them at a string of festivals next summer. The band have also announced a March/April UK tour, which includes a date at the O2 Kentish Town Forum.

I’ve spent the last few years wanting to go to Scotland’s iconic T in the Park Festival because I honestly believe it has the best line-up going. It’s line-up is an eclectic mix of the highlights from Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and V Festival (amongst others) and I’m envious of those who get to go. Sadly it was announced late November that T in the Park would be cancelled in 2017, however reports suggest that the festival organisers will, however, host a similar (but separate) event in Glasgow next year instead. They’ve had problems over the last few years (mainly since the move to Perth) with site and traffic issues, drug related deaths, the stealing of an ATM at this year’s festival etc. and with the added pressure of financial issues the future remains uncertain for the festival. I was in Scotland- Edinburgh or Aberdeen- when the news broke and spoke to many local music fans about the news and many were sad about its cancellation (and countless suggested how great festivals in inverness are). I hope T in the Park pulls it back in the next few years because the line up is always class and I hope to go!

November was an incredible month for live music. I’ve been really, really bad at writing reviews though due to college and work experience. I think it’s probably a bit too late to write reviews now, however I’ll do some quick summaries now:

  • I saw Jake Bugg play at the O2 Academy Brixton on the 1st November. Bugg played a full band set with brilliant little solo, more stripped back songs. He played a mixture of songs which spanned accross his impressive three album back catalogue, yet managed to showcase the best from his latest record- On My One– which was released this year. ‘Broken’ remains poignant and one of my favourite songs to hear live. Everyone sings along and it feels very intimate and personal to many. Of course, the crowd were eagerly anticipating ‘Lightening Bolt’- Bugg’s breakthrough hit- as well as current chart singles, such as ‘Love Hope and Misery’ and ‘Gimme The Love’. I also loved how varied the age of the crowd was. I love seeing people of all ages enjoy music because I think music should be enjoyed by all and it’s now so easily accessible.
  • A few days later I saw Tom Odell play at the Brighton Centre (4th November). Tom Odell is a fascinating live act, who I love to watch. He ventured away from the piano at points, especially during songs from the latest album Wrong Crowd, and at one point he was even stood on the piano. The drummer dislocated his arm before going on stage and so the drum tech had to fill in for him at the last minute to save cancelling the show. There was plenty of on stage banter and support about this. Odell played songs from his first album, Long Way Down, too, such as ‘Another Love’ and ‘Grow Old With Me’. Odell’s voice is so brilliant that the room was silent when he sang, so much so that you could hear people’s movements and hushed chat around us. Tom Odell was supported by Rag ‘N’ Bone Man and Johnny Lloyd- neither of which I’d particularly want to follow. Rag ‘N’ Bone Man was actually in danger of stealing the show because of how brilliant he was. Keep a look out for him. He’s definitely the next big thing.
  • ¬†Catfish and the Bottlemen played a sold out show at Wembley Arena on the 15th. It felt as much a showcase as to how far they’ve come in the last few years and a celebration of their new album success as it did a ‘normal’ show. The band played for nearly two hours. It didn’t seem as though they didn’t want to be there and it felt that they were genuinely grateful and wanting to share their music with fans. The band played songs from The Ride and The Balcony¬†to a sea of singing fans, mosh pits and crowd surfers. It was huge.

Two Door Cinema Club released their latest album Gameshow. The album features the huge singles ‘Bad Decisions’ and ‘Are We Ready? (Wreck)’. The whole 80s inspired album is brilliant, fast paced and full of hits, which I can’t wait to hear live next year at Alexandra Palace. They’re a band with the capability of headlining- or at least co-headlining- festivals and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them topping bills soon.

I haven’t written a lot on here recently because I’ve been so wrapped up in my week’s work experience on tour with Black Grape. It was an incredible if not eye opening experience, which I’m sure I’ll remember forever. It was hard work, but it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. There’s so much that goes on behind the scenes, which, as a punter, you don’t get to see. Everyone was really friendly, normal and very skilled and good at what they do. It’s a whole other world and I did manage to see a bit of Scotland/Newcastle over my week away, too. If you haven’t heard of Black Grape then I think you’re missing out (although I might be slightly biased, I don’t know). Black Grape formed after the Happy Mondays disbanded in 1992, with Shaun Ryder as the front man (with Kermit from Ruthless Rap Assassins on vocals too). Ryder and Kermit still tour, however the other instrument players are (incredibly, incredibly talented) session musicians (who are incredibly skilled at what they do). They released their first album, It’s Great When You’re Straight… Yeah, in 1995- which went straight to number 1. Their music is so diverse, which I love. The music has grungy, brit-poppy undertones which are intertwined with hints of rap, tracks laced with samples and incredible instrumentals. I’d definitely have a listen to them. If you’ve not heard of them, listen to: In The Name Of The Father, Tramazi Party and Kelly’s Heroes (as a starting point). Enjoy!

I can’t wait to see the Courteeners next month at Banquet Records and also to see The 1975 play their biggest ever (sold out) headline show at The O2 Arena. Mad.

This month’s playlist features a lot of Black Grape, Two Door Cinema Club, (the incredible) Declan McKenna (who I absolutely love this month- check out Brazil and Bethlehem) and Catfish and the Bottlemen. I’ve added Catfish’s ‘Glasgow’ because Black Grape played Glasgow’s O2 ABC, which I believe is where the song is written about. I found this exciting.

 

 

 

 

November 2016- What I’m Listening To

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