Florence + The Machine @ The O2, Wednesday 21st November 2018

Live Reviews

On Wednesday night, Florence + The Machine conquered the hearts, bodies and souls of every single person in The O2, with a magical and emotional show in Welch’s hometown.

Opting for a more neutral and calmer look with a wooden décor and warm lighting, the beautiful Florence introduced her pure, cleansed and calmer-self, opening the night with the first track from their album High as Hope – ‘June’.

 The front-woman wearing a long, flowing, light-pink dress set the tone of the evening with mind-blowing vocals and her usual delicate movements, spiralling around the stage and reaching out to the audience.

 “Hello London, we are Florence and The Machine – would you like to dance with us?” the singer asked with her sweet voice after ‘Hunger’ and ‘Between Two Lungs’.

 In a flip of ginger hair, she jumped, spun and danced her way through ‘Only If for a Night’, while the machine worked its magic behind her.

 The majestic performance of the orchestra-like ‘Queen of Peace’ was followed by Florence shedding a few tears of joy, admitting she was overwhelmed to be playing in London after so many years. To this, she also added a life lesson: “A revolution in consciousness starts within individuals, and hope has to become an action and not a wish.” How about that?

 The audience was drinking her words when she asked everyone to hold hands – and onto each other – during ‘South London Forever’, which was a trip down memory lane for her and us Londoners.

 The red-headed goddess and her machine then welcomed Patti Smith in the venue – not physically, but spiritually. The tribute – ‘Patricia’ – was a more serene version than the one on the album but was still as sincere.

 While Florence ran into the middle of the crowd during ‘Delilah’, and leaned her head against a man’s forehead at the beginning of ‘What Kind of Man’, her fans couldn’t help but wonder what she was going to do next.

 During the encore, the front-woman who appeared somewhat changed, brought back some old memories with ‘Shake it Out’, as if to prove she was cleansed and a different person.

 What I really found gobsmacking about this show wasn’t only the impressive vocals that Florence Welch delivers every time without fault, but the stage presence and the way she engaged with the crowd. Not many artists know how to do that when performing at The O2.

 But that lady sure can. And that is what makes a Florence + The Machine show so breathtaking. Mind-blowing vocals, awe-inspiring stage presence, and a machine that keeps on giving – what more could you ask for?

Set-list:

 June

Hunger

Between Two Lungs

Only If for a Night

Queen of Peace

South London Forever

Patricia

Dog Days Are Over

100 Years

Ship to Wreck

The End of Love

Cosmic Love

Delilah

What Kind of Man

Encore:

Big God

Shake It Out

Words: Lil Bonhomme

Insecure Men at Scala

Live Reviews, Music Reviews, Uncategorized

A dimming of lights, hush of music and a roar of the crowd indicated that Insecure Men had entered. Amongst the shadows, a determined voice yelled “Can we have some lights on the stage, so we can see what we’re doing?”

With this, a rolling green light revealed a musical extravaganza: a vibraphone, slide guitar and saxophone being amongst the many instruments they could fit onto the stage.

Buttoned up in suits and with an intense flash of blue light the nine-piece opened with ‘Cliff Has Left the Building’. Immediately, the atmosphere was cosmic, encapsulating the Californian suburbs daydream air of their recently released, self-titled album, ‘Insecure Men’.

Like wind turbines on a desolate hill, the band remained relatively stationary throughout, completely entranced in what they were doing. Meanwhile, the performance was unfaltering in visual strength, bodies in the audience swaying, hypnotised, frolicking in the paint palette of light – there were slime greens, romantic reds, marine blues and hot pinks.

In an amateur way, Insecure Men announced each of their songs: “This song is about Heathrow. It’s called Heathrow.” The childlike jig played a pivotal role in really dragging people back into reality with the uneasy chugging that slows and grinds to a halt.

Mid-way through the set, Fat White Family frontman, Lias Saoudi, slinks onto the stage with a half drunk pint in hand. The spotlight shifts and soon as the song (‘Ulster’) begins, it’s over, and he slides back off the stage, as if nothing had happened.

‘Mekong Glitter’ upped the ante as the setlist reached it’s end, stressing dirty guitar and dissonant mess on the piano during the solo. Unquestionably, the song bounced off all the walls as the whole crowd joined in unison for the chorus: “Why don’t you ever ask why? Why don’t you ever ask why?”

Closing the set, the smoke machine relentlessly huffed and puffed transporting the venue into the steamy bathroom where ‘Whitney Houston and I’ exists, leaving the audience in the ethereal haze they first stepped into.

 

Words by Meg Berridge

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Justin Currie and The Pallbearers at The Jazz Cafe

Live Reviews, Music Reviews, Uncategorized

Looking over the sea of wrinkles that was the crowd, it was clear that no one here, save the little boy playing on his parent’s or maybe even grandparent’s iPhone, was under the age of 25. A mass of pale bald scalps filled the room while the odd aroma of old spice mingled with ale, stout, and feet rose from the floorboards. The venue itself, for all of its history hosting world famous artists such as Amy Winehouse, Ben E King, Kym Mazelle, and Edwin Starr, looked completely modern.

The wooden detailing and warm ambience gives the cafe a cosy atmosphere. One thing which was a little strange to me was the first floor restaurant, which housed viewers throughout the night who ate as the performance took place, however the smell of the food could not mask the scent of middle occupants on the floor below. As the support act walked on stage the landing crowd took their places, a large number of them fought over the very few seats at the back of the room, fearing standing on their feet for an hour, while the brave ones filtered to the stage.

Les Johnson and Me opened the night, a Scottish bluegrass singer with a movingly deep soulful voice, unfortunately many of the crowd were unfamiliar with him or his work so the atmosphere suffered somewhat. An hour later the man everyone was there for took the stage. Justin Currie with his backing band The Pallbearers.

Opening with a rocking song from back in the Del Amitri days, ‘Just Like a Man’, an obvious crowd favourite from the reaction, the scintillating guitar tone mixing perfectly with the rough Glaswegian twang in Justin’s voice. A voice that hasn’t aged a day from his first record with Del Amitri back in 1985. From there they quickly rattled off the greatest hits of the Del Amitri days, ‘Be My Downfall’, ‘Move Away Jimmy Blue’, ‘Tell Her This’, and ‘Always The Last To Know’ were particularly well received by the crowd, almost all of which sang along, knowing all the words to each and every song.

After warming the crowd up with the classics he moved on to the latest songs from his new album ‘This Is My Kingdom Now’, including the title song, ‘No Surrender, and ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’. His experience shines not only during the performance, but also in-between the songs, as the band left the stage for one of the more intimate songs he quipped “they hate the sad ones”, to a murmur of laughter “but then again, they’re all sad ones”.

Finishing with perhaps his most famous hit from the Del Amitri days, ‘Driving With The Brakes On’ was met with rapturous applause, as the crowd quickly moved moved out to catch the next train back in time for bargain hunt on BBC One.

 

Words by Jamie Raybould

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Shy FX at The Rainbow venues: Crane

Live Reviews, Music Reviews

There is a place, on Bowyer street, in the heart of Birmingham, that by daylight shows to be nothing more than a derelict building. A monument to the history of the city, it melts inconspicuously into the background, never showing its true face until the cowl of night smothers the area and the hordes of mangled, hammered and twisted creatures line up ready to be unleashed through the gates of hell (there were quite literally gates at the entrance). It was within this mob that I found myself that fateful night on the 14th of September in the year of our lord 2017, hoping not to enrage any of the beasts surrounding me who scrambled at the hiss of a Nos cracker like the call to arms of some strange serpentine monster. Soon however, the time came to release the crowd into the bowls of the abyss, known locally as the newly renovated Rainbow venues location: Crane.

As the mass stumbled clumsily down the stone steps into the warehouse, one can’t help but wonder which health and safety genius thought it a good idea to have hundreds of inebriated girls in high heels walk down a flight of steep stone steps, nevertheless the result is wildly entertaining. Once inside the venue the enormity of the space is rather disconcerting, an agoraphobic’s worst nightmare, the warehouse could easily house a Boeing 747 along with a couple of its buddies. The space soon filled up, however, and as soon as Shy FX took the stage, the crowd exploded with a paroxysm of movement, pulsating along to the tumbling beats rolling out of the huge monolithic slabs of speakers.

Starting off with the classics, ‘Original Nuttah’ bursted into the room and set the tone for the entire night, one of rapid-fire beats and machine gun MCing. Following that the old favourites return, ‘Shake ur Body’ and ‘Everyday’ excite the crowd, and interspersing his own songs with jungle remix’s of popular songs like ‘Rude Boy’ and ‘Concrete Jungle’, a song rather appropriately titled for the setting and the genre of the night. One fact quickly became apparent to everybody that was there, Shy FX was not letting up.

Track after track he kept drilling as if mining for gold, hammering down on us with heavy baselines and rolling melodies until the last song, a remix of ‘Bricks Don’t Roll’, a drum and bass classic which revived the crowd and sent them into a mass frenzy before barraging themselves through the gates into the night. Many DJ’s find themselves becoming obsolete within a few years, unable to keep up with the wants and needs of new fans, but even after 25 years since his first record Shy FX is still cemented as one of the best Jungle artists around.

 

Words by Jamie Raybould

 

Edited by George Kennedy

Gig review: Giraffage (SF,USA) at the Jazz Café, Camden

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

Last night, Charlie Yin aka Giraffage held a gig at the Jazz Café in Camden.

The well-known address welcomed many talented artists who indubitably increased its notoriety: from Jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders to Amy Winehouse, the restaurant/club hasn’t stopped providing local and international talents venues to their visitors. Just like the talented producer originally from San Jose, California.

By 8.45pm, the venue reached approximately 70 percent of its capacity. The crowd was dense, spread around the room studded by lights and shadows and by the two bar areas. Shortly after, as soon as Giraffage and his stage-bud arrived, the audience did not take long to greet them. The young Dj from San Fransisco announced on the microphone that it was his first date in London and as well as his mom was in the audience. Making the first contact feel as if we all knew Charlie Yin well enough to tell his mother how proud of him we are. However, the Djs were placed in the middle (front) of the stage under the psychedelic animations played on the screen above them. Adding the neon blue and purple spotlights, it was a lot easier to forget the lucky fellows who were having dinner upstairs at the same time. The duo rapidly warmed up the audience: people gradually stopped caring about personal space, and soon after the whole crowd was getting rid of calories together.

At the beginning of the set, the music could be described as groovy, calm, and a little funky too: with piano and guitar echoes, topped by a great control of the turntable’s scratching. The tracks sounded versatile and included riffs of different heavy tunes such as the bassline of David Ghetta’s ‘Love is Gone’ for example.

After a smooth start, the duo provided us a quality deep house set, as well as some minimal that transported us back to our best rave memories. The music could be described in different ways: ‘light’, ‘intoxicating’ and ‘sophisticated’ to begin with, and then ‘semi-aggressive’, ‘decadent’ and ‘hype’ near the end. The use of high pitch falsettos made the performance a sort of sneak peek that directly takes root in the 80s. Everyone seemed to have approved and showed appreciation to the sound of it.

The artists managed to gather the majority of the spectators during their remixes of ‘Ya Kidding’ by Fisher and ‘Rasta’ by Menini & Viani. Both of the mixes had breathtaking basses, and the breaks Charlie Yin chose perfectly made the middle-8 stand out until he dropped the bass again.

Despite the numerous good musical choices that we can grant to Giraffage, a couple of track didn’t make the unanimity: such as the remix of Hotel Garuda’s ‘ Smoke Signals’ that sounded like one of these tracks that make you wonder why you still got that radio in your truck. However, when the first flute notes of ‘Fuerza’ (originally from Tony Quattro et Nani Castle) resounded in the room, they almost instantly brought fire around the stage.

There wasn’t any significant discordant factor during the show, apart from a few high-rating sounds that were way too loud for the walls trying to contain them. The DJs were very enthusiastic; as if they had been stung by a bee version of Richard Pryor. Anybody could notice the great symbioses shared by the twenty-five year old producer and his audience.

The faithfulness of the crowd all along the concert until its end is the ultimate proof of the young Dj’s overseas recognition. With a good first glimpse of the British environment – especially its people – Giraffage has all the elements to return to the US and tell them he’s on his way back!

Words By,

Tharushi Stephen

Live Review: The Ninth Wave

Live Reviews

 

It’s fair to say that the Ninth Wave aren’t quite like any other band. From their stylish gothic aesthetics to their vibrant, post-punk tinged tracks, the band haven’t put a foot wrong since their exciting shift that was solidified with the release of their debut EP ‘Reformation’ last year. It therefore doesn’t come as much of a surprise to see that everything about their London gig has been planned carefully and thoughtfully- from the unorthodox yet hugely innovative choice of venue, bringing an atmospheric show to the Sebright Arms featuring a certain degree of gothic drama.

The swelling crowd began to grow in size as they took the stage, bolstered by a notable number of faces keen to see what all the fuss is about. Brimming with brooding melodies, gothic synths and sky-high ambition, it’s the sound of a band who have certainly found their individuality. ‘Reformation’ embraces an empowering message with a deeply cathartic chorus, brought to life in such thunderous fashion.

Bringing shades of coloured lights, rapid synths glisten and ring around the venue, matched with soaring guitars and intense rhythms, alongside Haydn’s vocals that flow seamlessly. ‘Swallow Me’ sees the lipstick adorned, red gloved frontman shed his guitar and take the spotlight, every inch of him shining showmanship. Oozing confidence and vitality, the collection of songs on display reinforce their ability to lure the listener into their deliriously dark, brooding world, while simultaneously demanding attention.
Naturally, known singles ‘Liars’ and ‘Heartfelt’ provides real highlights, seeing the crowd lose all sense and jump along to its inescapable traits.

That evening confirms all our suspicions about this mysterious band. They truly are bursting with endless ambition and powerful determination to cut their own path. And with the release of newest single ‘New Kind of Ego’, plus a showcase at this years Great Escape already confirmed, the only way is up for this fiercely talented outfit. It surely won’t be long before their appeal spreads far beyond the corners of London.

Words by Lauren McDermott

PARTYNEXTDOOR at Brixton Academy

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

PARTYNEXTDOOR’s ‘Infinity Tour’ arrived at Brixton, providing an evening of celebration of his best music and the many successful hits he’s written for other stars. Support act Jessie Reyez was energetic and lively, although her set was seemingly longer than most of the audience had wished for it to be. Her set excluded props and other performers, meaning her isolation probably disappointed the crowd.

The main man was far from disappointing though, and he didn’t wait to perform the fan-favourites. Opening with the ‘Recognize’ collaboration between himself and his label’s founder, Drake, he followed up with the infamously short ‘Break From Toronto’. The crowd was successfully hyped and ready for more. With little dialogue between tracks and PND taking several short breaks for refreshments, there were times when it was unclear to the audience exactly what was happening, despite the constant flow of smash hits. Deciding to change outfit halfway through the set didn’t exactly help PND with the fluidity of the show.

His stage design was excellent. Drummer, guitarist and pianist were physically divided by their own individual open glass boxes in which they performed, and performed thrillingly, worthy of their ovation at the end.

Switching between newer hits and old mixtape classics, PND served up something for every type of PND fan. He performed his smooth R&B, his dancehall numbers such as ‘Not Nice’, and his chart successes. He even saved time to debut his new Calvin Harris collaboration ‘Nuh Ready Nuh Ready’, which did unfortunately lead to a brief dip in atmosphere, considering nobody knew the lyrics.

Tracks from both 2017 EP’s were performed, including the Halsey collaboration ‘Damage’ and ‘Freak In You’, which Drake remixed last year. The variety of sounds and projects PND was able to refer back to was a solid reminder that he’s the closest thing OVO has produced to the label’s kingpin, Drake himself.

Upon reflection, it seems that PND has somewhat outgrown arenas of Brixton Academy’s size and nature. His elaborate stage design and band set-up would be even more effective with more floor space, plus the demand for tickets was much higher than the supply.

 

Written by George Kennedy

Daniel Caesar at KOKO

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

 

The first of Daniel Caesar’s two shows in London as part of his Freudian tour, was chilling and magic. KOKO’s intimacy and stripped back nature as a venue played right into the musically gifted hands of Caesar and his band, each of whom received an ovation halfway through the night.

Despite recent project ‘Freudian’ being his gateway into the wider R&B audience, Caesar performed some of his past work too, shining enormous light on his abilities and his faith in an audience to be invested in his artistry.

Allowing the band to showcase their quality early on proved a calculated step. People wanted a gentle and romantic evening, so after a few tracks he grabbed a stool, reached for his guitar, and serenaded the fans up until the end.

Performing tracks which originally have guest features worked well for him as he sang them entirely uninterrupted, beautifully, and with a raw confidence. Even if not every audience member knows every lyric – Caesar invents such a pretty ambience when he performs his music that you can’t help but be entranced by what’s on stage.

‘Best Part’ and ‘Hold Me Down’ were exquisitely executed and the crowd adored it all, but when Caesar left the stage after just 40 minutes on it…everyone cried out for his hit single, and arguably his best song, ‘Get You’ to finish off.

He, of course, came back. He, of course, performed it. And, of course, it was marvellous. An entire building of fans singing the sexual and sensitive ballad, each to the best of their ability, was something to behold.

Caesar often ended up directing the choir that was the audience – fans so eager for songs that they began singing them before they had begun. Jamming his guitar, strolling round a stage designed to look like an inviting bedroom, he was at one with the crowd. With lyrics and instrumentation so mesmerising, it was physically moving to hear Caesar’s angelic voice at full flight, live.

 

Written by George Kennedy