Category Archives: Live Reviews

The Heart and The Heart at Latitude Festival- Live Review

With festival season well underway, Latitude came upon us promising a weekend in the middle of nowhere surrounded by nothing other than woodlands, pink sheep and lots of good music.

Heading down to the BBC Music Stage on the Saturday were the folk pop creatives, The Head and The Heart. After having a break to fulfil other motives they came back with their latest release Signs of Light which is a compilation of all the inspiration found during their time apart.

The crowd that gathered for their set was a mass of all ages from the front to the back, all ready to wave and sway to the uplifting yet appeasing set. They definitely received back every ounce of energy they were giving out, in particular the raw emotion coming from vocalist Jonathan Russell who was clearly loving every moment just as much as us. Of course a popular favourite was “All We Ever Knew” which with its call and response vibe allowed even complete novices to feel a part of the community within the evasion they created away from the main stage.

A set full of songs came to an end only too soon with a whole array of applause from everyone there who were now feeling re-energised and prepared to go back to the craziness of the festival. Their time in the UK was all too short but I have no doubt that they will be back for us after they’ve taken over America later this year.

 

Words by: Louise Tindall

Photography by: Louise Tindall

[LIVE REVIEW] THOUGHT FORMS AT LEVEL 3

Slap bang in the middle of Melksham’s post-rock titans Thought Forms’ UK tour, a stop on the winding road at Swindon’s Level 3 proved to be and incredible and breath taking evening of power and sound.

The evening was opened by The Hound on The Mountain, a solo project in the process of becoming a full live band, featuring Jack Moore on drums, delivered an outlandish alternative rock sound with an abundance of style. The carefully constructed songs navigated through sounds reminiscent of Jack White and Talking Heads. It delivered a taste of something that was new, raw and undoubtedly different.

Now it was time for the main event, the moment that the 50 strong crowd had been waiting for. From the moment that the first chord was hit, Thought Forms were a powerhouse, delivering a wall of sound that gave the audience a euphoric and captivating feeling. They were locked in a tornado of sonic splendour, while the band danced around the stage as if they were possessed. They were a tight nit unit, doing their jobs perfectly.

At times you would lose yourself in a trance of sonic waves and occasionally forget where you where because everything was perfectly timed it felt like you were listening to the songs on record. Songs like Landing, Forget my name and the final song Burn Me Clean standing out as some of the most powerful moments of the evening, not to mention Ghost Mountain You and Me which was a hypnotizing display of the ability, passion and craftsmanship of Thought Forms. The band stand out as a group that pour their heart and souls in their work and everyone who sees them live will knows that a Thought Forms gig is more than a gig, it’s an experience.

Words by Rob Mckelvey

[LIVE REVIEW] INSECURE MEN AT THE WINDMILL

Before tonight not much could be guaranteed about Fat White Family founder Saul Adamczewski’s new project Insecure Men. They had previously performed one show somewhere in New York and the only real taste of the new venture could be found in Saul’s Karaoke for One a nine track album available on the Insecure Men Soundcloud made up of covers performed by Saul and his keyboard.

Needless to say, with the vast growth in Fat White Family’s popularity and the air of mystery around what this new endeavour would sound like, tickets for the show sold out almost immediately. This was to be something special, a first glimpse at something fresh and undoubtedly weird, with the promise of uncommon instruments within the band, including a vibraphone as well as a lap steel guitar.

The evening started with Sleaze a four piece with some serious balls, the frontman had a striking resemblance to a young Begbie from Trainspotting, maybe it was the moustache that gave me this impression, but something was definitely screaming young Robert Carlyle at me. The bassist looked like he could have been a member Marilyn Manson in the early days, dressed in ankle high boots with knee high black socks, leading up to a black skirt ad then a black shirt and tie, all topped off with a huge afro like hairstyle squashed under a trucker style cap with the words “MEATUP” printed into it.

The sounds of Sleaze were very bass driven, it seemed to be the meat of the songs, while the guitar and keyboard seemed to enjoy a lot of harmonies that added an extra layer to the bass and gave it an almost country like twang at times. It was well rehearsed and performed brilliantly, there was definitely a strong stage presence that connected with the crowd, which is always so inspiring to see from bands with a pretty small reputation.

The next band Horsey brought something much different to the table, to start off the entire band’s image said to me that these four got half way through a degree in geography and realised what a stupid fucking life choice it was, and so decided to start a band. A few of the members honestly looked like they could have been part of some university comedy show like Fresh Meat.

When they started their set I was almost instantly pushed away, they keyboard player and guitar player would share harmonies like the last band, but it seemed out of tune and out of practice, it almost felt a bit painful to watch. Eventually it seemed to warm up and the two delivered some really good harmonies which complimented the music really well, I’m unsure as to whether the earlier out of tune vocal harmonies were on purpose as they seemed to be trying really hard to give off this kind of rough edge.

The way that they would deliver some harmonies was like they had spent years of their youth in the church choir, this and the lyrical content combined with their image seemed to really reflect that they were tired of living with mummy and daddy in the 10 bedroom estate house somewhere in the country, they wanted to move to the city and play in a band but still kept a strand of their upbringing.

I say all of this like I hated the band and I thought they were a bunch of posers, but really the way their lyrics were structured, the way they would go from quiet parts with choir like vocals into madness and screams like a posh Heck in a split second. They were different and at times they impressed me and caught me off guard.

But now, on to the main event the reason so many had travelled to Brixton to cram themselves into a small pub, Insecure Men! I would like to point out at this part that while trying to cool off in the cold January air in the venue’s garden my friend and fellow writer Liam spotted Lias and a few other members of Fat White Family sat down entangled in conversation in the smoking area, it was at this point that Liam began to scream like a with excitement! This was also interesting because Lias had been present in many of Saul’s Instagram posts that were to do with Insecure Men rehersals or recordings, so now it felt like there was a strong possibility that he would be part of the large cast of musicians to feature within the band.

As we ventured back inside to take our place for the show, a man in a dark velvet suit, with a thick beard and a kind of trilby hat with a large peacock feather sticking out at one of the sides was setting up a lap steel guitar. He soon exited the stage to fetch more equipment and while doing this he bumped into me trying to get past, almost instantly I could hear people all around me talking about who this mysterious man could be.

The strongest rumour seemed to be that it was the son of John Lennon, Sean. I quickly flicked on to one of his social media profiles to find the poster for the show with the with the caption “I’d love to invite you to this show, but it’s sold out” it was true, and the son of John Lennon had brushed shoulders with me, I will probably never stop bragging out it, I know it sounds silly, but then the man is technically half of a quarter of the Beatles.

The true triumph of this evening was the logistical masterpiece of managing to fit eight people onto a stage that I had watched four people struggle to share all evening, in total there was a drummer, vibraphonist, a saxophone player, bassist, two keyboard players, Sean Lennon on lap steel guitar and Saul with guitar and vocals. They were squeezed on to the point where you could only actually see four of them for pretty much all of the set.

Once Insecure Men began they captivated the audience with the unbelievable wall of sound, so many instruments combining together to create mellow almost heartbroken noises. The lyrical content was at times hard to pick out due to Saul’s vocals occasionally being mumbled, however I am sure that this was part of the song to compliment his mellow vibe. However, the lyrics that I did hear clearly were provoking, funny and almost chilling.

I remember being moved when the words “I never got to kiss my lover, she’s buried in foreign sands” was repeatedly muttered through a song, I laughed when he announced the title of another song Whitney Houston and I, singing “Whitney Houston and I enjoy hot showers” seeming hinting towards some illicit substances that the pair may also have common interests in. There was also a song where he seemed to throw a lot of shade at Rod Stewart, I don’t recall the lyrics entirely but he definitely wasn’t singing Rod’s praises. Saul didn’t seem afraid to go all the way and say what he wanted to say with these songs.

The set was rather short, probably about 45 minutes or so, but for an act that haven’t released anything but a short album of covers I wasn’t expecting much more. Needless to say I was blown away by the craftsmanship and passion that had been thrown into this project, the collection of friends that Saul had managed to bring to the stage for the evening, and how it was all held together very well despite having minimal time to rehearse as a full group, there was one point where Saul seemed to get a bit angry towards the saxophone player for playing a few notes wrong during one song, before turning around to the audience and apologising saying how “shit” it was, although I still thought it didn’t sound too bad. He sometimes would wave his arms looking pissed off at sections of the band, like a violent orchestral conductor.

Overall it was a fantastic glance at an interesting new band, that dare to be and do things differently, to throw in as many instruments as possible to produce sounds that may be uncommon to many gig goers. Insecure Men stand out as one of this years most exciting new acts and I eagerly await an upcoming EP or album!

Words by Rob McKelvey

[LIVE REVIEW] BASEMENT – BUSH HALL (2/3/17)

With no backdrop and a minimal light show, Ipswich five-piece Basement take to the stage for their first of three headline dates at Bush Hall. The venue itself looks more likely to host a theatre performance than host an emo band but this only adds to the sense it being a real event. As the meaty opening notes of Whole reverberate around the venue no time is wasted in getting things well and truly kicked off. Limbs flail as devoted fans stage dive whilst those in the crowd scream “Lie to me, lie to me make me see” at the top of their lungs.

The eleven song set dips in and out of their three albums. On Earl Grey, the crowd join vocalist Andrew Fisher who dons the uniform five panel and plaid shirt to sing “I looked up at your window, pretended I could see you, you don’t live there anymore.” The song switches pace at breakneck speed and limbs flail.

Fisher introduces Yoke and pleads with the audience to “go out and start a band”, he also quite sweetly dedicates Brother’s Keeper to his grandmother. Title track of their most recent album and closer of the night Promise Everything sees the most vicious pits of the night. Fisher confesses they’ve run out of songs they can play and treat the audience to a riotous cover of School by Nirvana.

As they leave the stage and the audience make their way out not a single person feels short changed. Basement do what they do better than anyone in the game and tonight was a no frills, gimmick free celebration of that.

Words by Jack Winstanley

[LIVE REVIEW] ANTHRAX – KENTISH TOWN FORUM (10/02/17)

This was my third time seeing Anthrax, but it was my first and only chance to see my favourite album performed in full. As I arrived outside the 02 Forum in Kentish Town, the queue stretched all the way to the back of the building. It also began to snow but this did not dampen my excitement.

As I arrived inside, I scrambled around the balcony trying to find a suitable spot to see the stage. Being short is a huge disadvantage at gigs! I managed to find a spot behind some quite short men, so I waited with anticipation. Before I knew it the lights went down and the crowd went crazy. They opened with A.I.R which was a weak opening in my opinion, but then they went on to play Madhouse which got everyone up and singing.

They continued to play a list of tracks which no one really seemed to care about, everyone was excited to hear Among the Living in full. After playing eight tracks, they had a brief interval to change the stage for the main performance. At this point I was fed up of not being able to see, so I managed to manoeuvre myself into the perfect spot to see the whole stage.

After 2,300 people chanting Anthrax repeatedly, they finally blew onto the stage. They opened with the classic Among the Living. Then they played Caught in a Mosh, which sent the crowd into a frenzy of head banging and singing. And I happily joined in. Guitarist Scott Ian still played the hits note for note, with the same level of energy he gave back in 1987. However, Joey Belladonna seemed to be lacking the original rhythm he once had. But they have been going since 1984, so small mistakes are easily forgiven.

They also went on to play I am the Law and Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.) which was incredible to see live. They played the rest of the album which such energy and enthusiasm, it was inspiring to witness the love they have for their work. At the end of the last song of the album, they were told their time was up. The crowd were sent into an uproar, everyone screaming “Encore!” over and over again. So they played once encore song Antisocial, instead of their usual two.

Overall, their stage performance was perfection. They continuously engaged with the crowd and they sounded practically perfect in comparison to their studio work. Each time I see them live they blow me away, but this was by the far the best live performance I have witnessed from them.

Words by Charlotte Griffiths

[LIVE REVIEW] TWIN PALACE, HOTEL LUX & MELT DUNES @ UCA EPSOM

Look, this review is biased, ok? I put the gig on, most of these bands’ members came to the afterparty, some of them stayed on my sofa and Hotel Lux vandalised my fridge. But hey, sometimes you’ve gotta look past these tiny factors and just trust the authorial voice of the person writing it. For a start, these bands wouldn’t have made their way onto my lineup without being bloody good, and, well, in short, I edit this blog as part of a uni degree and if I don’t post enough I’ll get a shitty mark.

So moving swiftly on, and when you’re at a gig with this amount of constant intensity it’s difficult to move in any way other than swiftly, 3 bands – all alike in depravity – brought their own blends of guitar music to the inner sanctums of our humble university. The ethereal shimmer of Twin Palace opened proceedings, casting a spell on the room as waves of pedal-heavy guitar flourishes wobbled around an aquamarine room. Capable of creating soundscapes that balanced a huge empowering feeling of bravado with shoegaze’s trademark insular  uncertainty. Tracks like the all subsuming …I Am Dreaming and the dreamy cool of Standby made sure the room was left entranced, as Twin Palace provided an escape from the tacid grey of Greater London outside the door.

Whilst Twin Pal specialise in escapism, Hotel Lux do the opposite; like a sonic Ken Loach film, they force feed the grim reality of life itself to you with the same stomping intensity that The Monks and the Fat White Family pin down. Frontman Lewis Duffin marauded around, suited and booted barking austere lyrics which boasted a brutal realism only bested by their sheer catchiness. By the time they strutted through no-wave influenced closer The River, we were one mic stand down and there were more pints flung than at a Milburn reunion gig.

Hot off the release of their latest single Flesh, Southampton based psych overlords Melt Dunes brought some inconceivably dark shamanic noise along. Over the course of a half hour set of explosive, piercing psych-rock roarers, from the ominous organ-driven noise of their latest single to the hell-spawned sprawl of Epicaricacy, Melt Dunes made some of the most evil sounds Surrey has ever heard.

A night like no other, Epsom was offered an alternative to bland commuter life with this near-packed gig, as psychedelia, shoegaze, and garage rock dominated the sonic field.

(Written by Cal Cashin, photo cred to Ben McQuaide)

[LIVE REVIEW] PUNK AND DISORDERLY SHOW AT UCA

In an unsettled time for the world, a healthy dose of punk rock was just the ticket to liven up the atmosphere on the UCA Epsom Campus. The first event of the academic year was organized by Mila Nixon and Kelly Ronaldson of UCA’s feminist society and it was a spectacular evening, the crowd was dotted with punk fans old and young itching to enjoy the talent on show.

Three Piece post-punk influenced Mr Heart opened the proceedings with Punchy aggressive riffs accompanied by anthemic song writing this band had the crowd in their palms throughout their angst ridden exhilarating set. The Ethical Debating Society were in the headline slot putting on a wild show, both vocalists were received well by the crowd showing lots of character and clearly enjoying the performance playing all the way to the 11pm curfew.

Even the last minute cancelations of The Potentials and Little fists didn’t spoil the event as both bands thrived in extended set lists The inauguration of Donald Trump will undoubtedly have a big effect on the music industry some even saying it could spark a punk revival and bands like Mr Heart and The Ethical Debating Society make that prospect a huge possibility.

Words by Aimee Armstrong

[LIVE REVIEW] THE HOTELIER AT THE DOME

The Massachusetts band have crossed the pond to play a rip roaring set at London’s Dome stage (25th Jan). As the lights dimmed and the four greasiest band members you’ve possibly ever seen took to the stage, the anticipation within the crowd became stratospheric. Within the first few seconds of the opening track ‘An Introduction To The Album’, every hand was in the air, every lung was expelling lyrics and one man was already crushing all those underneath him.

The Hotelier seemed to have cultivated the loudest fans in music, (the beliebers may finally have some competition) if the lead singer Chris Hoffman ever needed vocal rest, then all he would need to do is stick the microphone towards the crowd and allow them to belt every lyric with more passion than your average opera singer. It’s intense. Fortunately for the sold out crowd however, Hoffman did in fact use his vocals. Interestingly though for an emo/punk band they are very controlled vocals. The singer glides through each song with a distinct ease, only allowing room for brief moments of crazed power to seep through.

The insurgent guitars, keep the pace of the show high, allowing for a near constant attack of hooks and bursts of raw carnage to pierce every ear in the building. Highlights ‘Piano Player’ and ‘Soft Animal’ really benefitted from this more refined style. This style even elevated the clunkier sound of their older hits such as ‘Life in Drag’.

When they released their second album ‘Home, Like Noplace Is There’, they were distinctively emo, in fact many journalists believed The Hotelier to be one of the leading bands in the emo revival, yet with their most recent LP ‘Goodness’ there is a certain joy, or at least a level of coping that they seem to exude. This almost ‘joyous’ feeling has begun creeping into their live performances. The Hotelier are refusing to be pigeonholed by both the critics and their fans and it’s this refusal that keep the band interesting and fresh. It’s not just pop stars who need to reinvent themselves to maintain interest, a fact that many four piece bands often forget.

The Hotelier are a forced to be reckoned with, they have a hugely loyal fan base and the live chops to warrant their fans loyalty. They continue to push their sound and much like the quality of their albums, they only seem to be improving with every tour. If this trend continues, you’d be a fool to miss them next time.

 

Words by Jordan Emery

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