Author: Nils van der Linden

Live: Overcoats @ St Pancras Old Church

“We believe in the strength and power of female friendship,” declares JJ Mitchell, one half of Overcoats, “and the things you can achieve when you stand by a woman.” But actions speak louder than words. So Mitchell and her best friend Hana Elion begin and end the show with a long embrace. They spontaneously drape their arms around each other. During moments of emotional intensity, they lock eyes across the stage. And, after the final song, Mitchell piggybacks the injured Elion (torn ligaments) out of the venue. Their singing is equally unified, two voices intertwining delicately as the New...

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Live: Sheryl Crow @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Be Myself, the title of Sheryl Crow’s latest album, says it all. After flirting with soul and classic country on her last two outings, 100 Miles From Memphis and Feels Like Home, she’s gone back to her roots, embracing the sound that first made her a household name. The decision to be herself once more was clearly personal, as lyrics like “Hanging with the hipsters is a lot of hard work” make abundantly clear. But there’s the added benefit of the new material slipping seamlessly into a live show that, from the get go, leans on her first three...

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Live: Oumou Sangaré @ Village Underground

“I want to talk to you, but I have a problem,” Oumou Sangaré tells an adoring Village Underground crowd who greet each of her songs with jubilation. “My problem,” the Malian songstress laughs, “is English.” But, when it comes to “The Songbird of Wassoulou“, something as trivial as language is no barrier. After all, the vast majority of people rejoicing inside this packed Shoreditch venue don’t understand a single word of the Bambara language she sings in. That’s a testament to her glorious voice, refined and finessed over almost five decades of performance. A singer from the age of five,...

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Live: Marianas Trench @ KOKO

Marianas Trench’s 2015 hit Pop 101 is an insider’s guide to mainstream success. Advice like “a beat you can’t ignore”, “harmony in thirds, not fourths”, and their own spin on Tom Petty’s immortal “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” are certainly worth following. But the tongue-in-cheek single leaves out one essential tip: “put on a blinder of a show the fans won’t soon forget”. And that’s exactly what the Canadian quartet deliver at Camden landmark KOKO. Despite playing a venue far more intimate than those they sell out back home, the Vancouver band certainly don’t dial back their performance....

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Live: Hey Violet @ The Garage

Hey Violet’s hyperactive performance at North London’s The Garage begins, and ends, with deafening screams from an equally hyperactive audience. To be fair, though, there’s a lot of screaming the whole way through. Like when singer/dynamo Rena Lovelis asks: “How’re we doing London?” Or when she tries to tell the excitable crowd about falling for this city (on her second visit), her love of British accents, and how she could just “listen to you talk and talk and talk”. Or even when, for the purposes of a video shoot, the band perform the big-grooving Hoodie twice, both times prompting en-masse...

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Live: Saint Leonard’s Horses @ The Borderline

With a backstory featuring Stanley Kubrick’s estate, a Los Angeles cult, William Blake’s grave, a near-death experience in the Mojave desert, Jim Morrison’s meditation chamber, and a bust-up at Father John Misty’s wedding, you’d expect Saint Leonard’s Horses’ debut album to be special. You’d be right. The twelve tracks of Good Luck Everybody rock up ‘70s Laurel Canyon folk with big Eagles-style hooks as British (now resident in LA) frontman Kieran Leonard’s slightly-rough-around-the-edges voice as he negotiates such nimble turns of phrase as “swimming through the ashes of the bridges I burned”. Performed live, and in sequence, to an...

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Live: Dan Patlansky @ Islington Academy 2

Guitarists are not unlike magicians – a lot of practice and work goes into making it look easy. But Dan Patlansky is clearly not one for cheap magic tricks. He pours so much passion and intensity into his performances that how he plays is as powerful as what he plays. Not just his face, but his posture changes whenever he teases, cajoles, or downright strangle’s the at-times incomprehensible notes out of his trusty 1962 Fender Stratocaster. That guitar – and Patlansky’s entire body – gets a full workout during his visceral, sold-out London show that begins quietly with a...

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Live: Erja Lyytinen @ 100 Club

Erja Lyytinen is a phenomenal guitarist. That’s a given. Not just technically brilliant – capable of playing with speed and precision, able to imbue every solo with unique character and tone – she has an edge over many other virtuosos: the ability to cram so much tangible emotion into six strings. So when she delivers the cascading, intensifying instrumental break of the magnificent Black Ocean, it’s as if she’s actually reliving the same dark feelings that went into lyrics like “I need some peace/ Please hear my call”. The jaw-dropping how-did-she-do-that slide solo of swampy Koko Taylor reimagination I’m A...

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