Author: Andy Sampson

Live : Travis @ The Forum, Kentish Town

I think its fair to say that Fran Healy likes a guitar; I wasn’t counting but it did appear that the Travis lead singer pretty much swapped guitars every song through tonight’s performance. This is in no way a criticism, but it does demonstrate that the bands trusted reliance on a variety of stringed instruments to create their jangly breezy hooks shows no sign of abating, a fact that will have probably delighted most of tonight’s audience. And given the reaction they got, I don’t blame them for sticking with it. Whether it’s the older classics like Driftwood, or...

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Live: DIIV @ Heaven in London.

DIIV at Heaven, London “Thanks for writing our setlist tonight”.  Such is the introduction to DIIV’s final song tonight night from their enigmatic frontman Zachary Cole Smith, and having spent the second part of tonight’s set watching from the mixing desk, this complete lack of a setlist is a fact backed up by the engineers.  A slightly risky strategy given half of tonight’s songs are from their freshly released album Is the Is Are, but one that actually worked supremely well.  And it certainly went down well with the fans who got to request their favourite back catalogue songs,...

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Live: Paves @ The Pipeline

Paves: The Pipeline Bar, London Despite only being a stone’s throw from some serious city money, walking into the Pipeline is like walking into your favourite student bar.  Upstairs there’s pool tables and pinball, but in the downstairs cellar there’s a seriously good music space complete with punk graffiti and cheap beer.  So a pretty perfect venue for a new band coming to try out a short set of new songs and after tonight I’m sure Paves fanbase is going to grow. Although they’ve been through a few name changes in the last year, Paves now seem to be...

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Live: Twenty One Pilots @ Portsmouth Guildhall

Creating an image around a band can be a blessing or a curse.  For Twenty One Pilots its definitely the former, with the red, black and grey of their latest album Blurryface, being carried through to everything in tonight’s show. From the backdrops, to the pre-performance lighting, the main show lighting and even the outfits and head-torches used by the road-crew.  Everything has been thought about, planned and carried out.  And that’s before we speak about the performance itself. In lesser hands it could look formulaic.  But not in this case; these boys have studied their craft and really...

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Live: Turin Brakes @ The Brook, Southampton.

Situated on the edge of a trading estate, The Brook is one of the more eclectically situated venues in the south of England and not one where you’d necessarily expect a Mercury nominated band to play.  However the lack of local parking spaces, and a steady stream of people walking into the 600 capacity venue tells you that after sixteen plus years together, Turin Brakes could play a bus shelter and still draw a crowd. Fronted by longtime friends Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, they’re best remembered for their first two releases, 2001s The Optimist and 2003s Ether Song,...

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Live Review: Highly Suspect @ Our Black Heart

So a band that’s just been nominated for two Grammy Awards are playing in London.  What’s your first  guess on where they’re going to play? The Forum, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, or maybe Brixton?  Well that’s not the Highly Suspect way of doing things, so instead they’re playing the 150 capacity Our Black Heart tucked away in a back street of Camden.  So for a lucky few it was the chance to see this Brooklyn based trio who could be massive, up close and personal in one of those hot sweaty rock clubs, making a name for themselves from the bottom...

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Live: Hunck, Life and Phobophobes @ The Old Fire Station.

Hunck, Life and Phobophobes @ The Old Fire Station.  It’s a very rainy windy night in Bournemouth for the Launch gig of Hunck’s short tour to promote their new EP Never had a Dream at the Old Fire Station.  This gig is also part of Independent Venue Week, a 7 day celebration of small music venues around the UK and a nod to the people that own, run and work in them, week in, week out, so it’s a bit of a shame that there wasn’t a bigger crowd to help support 3 excellent bands, and a great little...

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Live: The Libertines, O2 Arena, London.

The Libertines, O2 Arena, London. The word “great” is bestowed on a lot of bands these days, sometimes merited sometimes not.  It’s certainly a word that’s been pushed in the direction of the The Libertines, although for me there’s sometimes been a sense of the emperor’s new clothes about them.  Does the hype and legend that surrounds the band, and especially Pete and Carl’s tempestuous relationship transcend some of their musical shortcomings? To add to the challenge, this is a re-scheduled gig after Pete failed to make it to the Electric Ballroom last Autumn following an anxiety attack.  Moving...

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Live: Nahko And Medicine For The People @ Electric Ballroom.

Live: Nahko and Medicine for The People. “Not really sure what to expect tonight” was my response to a number of people asking about the Nahko and Medicine for The People gig at the Electric Ballroom.  The fact that it had been moved from a temporarily closed Shepherd’s Bush Empire proved their ability to fill a big venue, but despite their worldwide hit video Aloha ke Akua having over 4.7 million views, they remain relatively unknown in the UK.  I shouldn’t have been concerned; whereas some bands just play a collection of songs, Nahko and MFTP give a full...

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Live: Daughter @ Portsmouth Pyramids.

Daughter at Southsea Pyramids Back in the 1990s, the shoegazing brand of indie rock was all the rage. Bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lush and the Cocteau Twins were masters of ethereal vocals, mixed with swirly guitar and big soundscapes. Even though I wasn’t one of the angst ridden students that it often identified with, I was a fan of the whole movement and lamented its passing. Thankfully there’s hope on the horizon with Daughter and their new album Not To Disappear. Whilst fans of their melancholic first album will have plenty to keep them happy, this album has...

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Live: Lower Than Atlantis @ Roundhouse

Lower Than Atlantis at The Roundhouse Christmas is a traditional time for giving, so hats off to Lower Than Atlantis for giving us a bill with not just one, but four great bands at the Roundhouse tonight.  It helped that there was plenty of Christmas cheer in the room thanks to the excellent craft beer stand, but nonetheless the crowd seemed to really enjoy the mix of bands and styles all topped off with a top notch set from LTA. Starting off the evening were Black Foxxes who gave us a selection of songs from their grungy and emotion driven...

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Live: Foals @ O2 Guildhall Southampton

Foals Live at Guildhall, Southampton. Sometimes its good to be reminded why we take up a pastime or career, and tonight was the night I was reminded why I took up music photography. 20 minutes in the photo pit of pure energy excitement and adrenaline thanks to an awesome encore by Foals and their enigmatic front man Yannis Philippakis. There were indications of good things from the start.  Anyone who’s ever taken pictures at a gig will have heard the words “First three songs, no flash”.  It’s pretty much the same at every event, so to be told in...

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Live: Cadillac Three @ Islington Academy

The Cadillac Three – O2 Islington Academy Singing along at a gig is a strange phenomenon isn’t it?  We all pay hard earned cash to go and see a band we like, and rather than listen politely and earnestly to them sing, we stand there and have a go at the songs ourselves (in my case generally pretty badly).  But having spent an evening in the company of The Cadillac Three and the “Islington Academy Choir” tonight it becomes obvious why we all do it.  At the end of the night there’s a bond and camaraderie created between band...

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Live: Joanne Shaw Taylor @ Jazz Café.

Joanne Shaw Taylor @ Jazz Café, Camden, London When there’s a queue outside the venue a full 30 minutes before doors opening, you know there’s something good going on.  Such was the cache of expectation for Joanne Shaw Taylor’s second night at the Jazz Café, the last date on her current UK tour promoting her most recent album The Dirty Truth.  Places near the front were going to be hard to come by, and sure enough, within minutes there was a healthy wall of bodies at stage front which over the next hour swelled to a packed and pretty warm...

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Live: Editors @ Portsmouth Pyramids

Live Review: Editors @ Portsmouth Pyramid When a band changes musical direction there’s always a risk. Recently Mumford and Son’s ditched the banjo’s and went all electric to generally positive reviews. On the flip side a past master of being a musical chameleon, David Bowie, got it spectacularly wrong with his nu-metal venture, Tin Machine. For Editors, with their new album In Dreams having a more synth based 80’s electronic feel to it, there is always going to be a question as to whether the style fits with the older indie-guitar based material. It’s a question they decide to...

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Live: Gaz Coombes @ The Forum

Gaz Coombes @ The Forum In the mid 90’s it was hard to ignore Supergrass.  They were everywhere from TFI Friday to TV adverts, and constantly on Radio 1, and underpinning it all was Alright, their worldwide hit from their debut album which introduced their killer sideburns and cheeky chappy tunes.  But those who stuck with the band got to know a much more complex side to their music, especially on later albums like In It For The Money and Road To Rouen.  However, the radio stations steadfastly stuck with Alright as being their only noteworthy tune.  So when...

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Live Review. Chantel McGregor @ 100 Club

Rock stars can be a grumpy bunch can’t they? So to go along to a gig, where the performer smiles almost as much as the fans in the front row is a really pleasant change.  In fact I’d even suggest that after tonight’s album launch gig, at the 100 Club Chantal McGregor has invented a new genre, “Happy Blues”! That said, to try and pigeonhole tonight’s performance is actually quite difficult.  There’s a smattering of tracks from her debut album which nod more to traditional blues, but the majority of the evening is unsurprisingly devoted to the new album,...

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Live Review: The Libertines @ The Electric Ballroom

You’ve probably worked out by now (or heard!) that Pete Doherty didn’t show up for The Libertines tonight, and the gig never happened. After nearly two hours of waiting the crowd started to get pretty upset and it ended up with cans and bottles being thrown, some hitting us in the pit. One guy then leapt the barrier and hurled the mic stand into the crowd, at which point we were all whisked outside. Shortly after that Carl Barat and Gary left and we were all escorted out the back gate. An entertaining story but a disappointing evening as I...

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Live Review: James Morrison @ Wilton’s Music Hall

I’m sure you’ve all heard those radio competitions to win tickets “for an exclusive intimate live show with…” but like me, you probably never thought you’d actually get to one. Well tonight, for me and few hundred others, we got to witness one such evening courtesy of James Morrison. The venue is Wilton’s Music Hall, one of London’s oldest original music halls, beautifully restored but with a capacity of only 300. Given this is one of his first live performances in 3 years, I’m sure he could have launched the new album Higher Than Here at  The O2 or...

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Live: The Drums @ Koko

There was a lot of hype surrounding The Drums a few years ago, but having watched them tonight they are the epitome of New York cool. Even the way they interact on stage has a certain something about it. Frontman Jonny Pierce, every inch the extrovert dressed in a sparkling palm tree jacket, dashing around the stage on new batteries, whilst his bandmate Jacob Graham plays a more sedate role, occasionally breaking into ballet like hand movements, almost as a calming antidote to Jonny’s energy. And then coupled with that is the paradoxical music; upbeat melodies which overlay the...

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Live: Blissfields 2015 Review

It never rains at Blissfields is quite a boast given this year’s event comes just a week after a notoriously changeable Glastonbury. But it held true, and despite huge thunderstorms soaking most of the South East of England, this corner of a Hampshire farm a few miles from Winchester did indeed stay dry all weekend! Now in its 15th year, the 3 day Blissfields event has remained refreshingly under the radar but it’s also had an enviable ability to attract those “just about to break big” acts over recent years including Mumford & Sons, Bastille, and Sam Smith. And...

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Live: Tristan MacKay @ St Pancras Old Church.

This is the second time I’ve seen Tristan Mackay; the first was in support of Dan Patlansky at the Borderline a few months ago, and I recall thinking how easily he managed to silence what was a fairly raucous crowd. The songs and their lyrics are poetry in their own right, but his ability to engage with people through his storytelling, honesty and humour really set him apart. And the intimate setting of St Pancras Old Church on a warm summer’s evening is the perfect location for him to showcase his second album, Wire And Wood. This is certainly...

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Live: The Rifles @ Electric Ballroom.

“I’ve got Joel’s autograph tattooed on my bum” is one of the strangest openings to a conversation I’ve had from within the photo pit. However, it’s this devotion and loyalty in their fans that sums up why The Rifles can sell out the Electric Ballroom three nights in a row, and why this series of 10th anniversary concerts is so special. There’s a real sense of history and experiences shared by the crowd who seem like a big “Rifles family”. And the lady with the tattoo wasn’t alone; I met people who’d travelled across Europe to be there and...

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Live: Beth Hart @ The Barbican.

I have arrived a bit late to the phenomenon of Beth Hart. For me, that’s a shame because after tonight, I’m hooked and I feel like I’ve missed out. Tonight’s performance felt like a proper journey through life experiences, heartaches, families, love won, love lost and even a broken down old house in LA. And all driven along by Beth’s unbelievable voice, which lifts you up, and in the next moment, twists your heart and puts it through a mangle. It’s emotional stuff. But before that, we had the delight of Dubliner Miles Graham who gave us a lesson...

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Anything That’s Rock n Roll

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