Author: Sarah Sievers

Promise Realised: Lukas Nelson And The Promise Of The Real

Country music has come a long way, there are now as many variants and classifications into sub groups as there are for rock and roll.  The music crosses over into all other musical genres.  The prevailing image of country as ‘Big Hat’ corporate stadium bands who sing about Christian values, driving your truck and falling in love with a demure ‘good girl’ or a gun toting Daisy Duke wearing ‘bad girl’ has fallen away leaving room for a resurgence of American folk music, storytelling, and crossover. This is process that started in the early ‘60s and hit a kind...

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The Evolution of the Neo-Numan:  Gary Numan @ Brixton O2 Academy

Opening with new song, the throbbing industrial Ghost Nation from hotly anticipated album Savage, Gary Numan is joined on stage by a standard rock band set up of lead, bass guitar and drummer as well as DJ decks and synths. His voice is clear and clean against the muted beats and dirty growls.  Topping and tailing every track is an explosion of rapturous applause from fans some of whom have shadowed him on his journey to bring an album from inspiration, to studio, to stage. Savage was produced using an advanced form of crowd funding: Numan reliably attended his studio every day to write and...

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Four Decades of Adolescence: The Psychedelic Furs @ O2 Forum Kentish Town

Gathering together to play a sold-out London show are a band synonymous with American college rock of the 1980s, although they emerged from the UK punk scene in ’77 and grew a post punk fan base across Europe.  The Psychedelic Furs are often best remembered for emotional songs which became the figurative soundtrack of adolescence and the literal soundtrack of movies about adolescence.  With a front man now in his sixties how has the band evolved?  Before the audience get to find that out, what will they make of post punk grand dame Lene Lovich? Always an extrovert and...

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Live: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers @ BST Hyde Park, London

British Summer Time at Hyde Park reached it crescendo with the ‘double header’ of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and special guest Steve Nicks on the final Sunday of the event. The Heartbreakers, once regular visitors in the 70s and 80s, appearing in the UK for only the third time in twenty years. Starting the evening sets on the Great Oak Stage, at an ear bleeding volume, is LA guitar band The Shelters.  A trio of classic rockabillies front the stage, taunting the crowd, “Are you ready to rock ‘n’ roll?”  For such a rowdy offer they play surprisingly sophisticated but jangly...

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Live: Ani DiFranco @The London Palladium

The Palladium is an unusual venue for a gig, particularly for an artist like Ani DiFranco.  It is a theatrical seated venue, not conducive to dancing.   The crowd is a female heavy mix, as a vocal feminist and as female song writer who has explored politics, the differences in generations and sexuality with a candid and personal viewpoint this comes as no surprise.  It is a chatty and friendly crowd who take their seats and settle down for the show. At this point, special mention should be given to the support act, English folk musician Ruth Theodore and her...

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Live: The Hives, Gogol Bordello & Green Day @ BST Hyde Park, London

Celebrating its fifth year British Summer Time Festival (BST) is designed as a showcase of live music grouped by genre into day long programmes throughout July.  Kicking off the season was Phil Collins and Blondie, representing retro-pop.  To come is classic rock and Americana from Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and contemporary pop with headliner Justin Beiber, as well as contemporary rock with The Killers and classic indie with The Pixies and Kings of Leon. By the time The Hives arrive on stage the festival is in full swing.  Crowds are already pushed up against the barrier to the...

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Singer, Songwriter and Equality Activist Ani DiFranco Video for Play God

In a career that has spanned over 25 years, DiFranco has released more than 20 studio albums, as well as live albums, EPs, and collaborations. Many of her songs have been woven with her views on the issues she’s passionate about, Trickle Down discusses racism and gentrification, while To the Teeth speaks about the need for gun control, and In or Out questions society’s traditional sexuality labels. DIY pioneer and feminist icon Ani DiFranco continues to advocate for women even more strongly in light of the November 2016 election.  Play God (from last year’s full-length release) was the first new Ani...

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Feature: Pulled Apart By Horses – Pulling Into Focus With The Haze

The rock album of summer 2017 is here.  You may as well be the one playing The Haze because you are going to hear these tracks everywhere and if you’re very lucky you’ll catch it played live.  The Haze is forth studio album from this hard rocking Leeds four piece.  Until now they have probably been best known for their breakout singles V.E.N.O.M. or Shake Off the Curse from second album Tough Love. The rowdy, youthful energy which first brought Pulled Apart by Horses to attention has become the driving force behind a more sophisticated sound.  The foray into a more accessible rock-pop of...

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Live: The Handsome Family & Courtney Marie Andrews @ Union Chapel

Union Chapel is a cosy venue, perfect on a late winters evening.  People are bundled up in warm clothes settling onto padded seat cushions and cradling mugs of tea and cocoa in the soft coloured lighting, candle light and the kaleidoscope of the chapel’s rose window. The Handsome Family are enjoying a sell-out tour in part thanks to the support of opening act Courtney Marie Andrews.  This petite Arizonan introduces herself in a small, breathy voice reminiscent of a young Joni Mitchell or Nanci Griffiths. Just like Griffiths, when she begins to sing, all of that delicacy is replaced...

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Announcing Thee Oh Sees: UK & Europe Tour 2017

Phenomenal live band Thee Oh Sees make a riotous return to the UK in Spring 2017 to present tracks from An Odd Entrances album. The follow up, and perhaps companion, to last year’s A Weird Exits, An Odd Entrances creates a balance which promises to thrill audiences.  Thee Oh Sees are quite simply one of the best live bands you will ever experience.  Book one of the UK dates below or catch them as they continue their tour on the continent. THEE OH SEES UK TOUR ’17 DATES & VENUES 16th May – NOTTINGHAM – Rock City  www.alttickets.com/thee-oh-sees-tickets 17th May – BRIGHTON –...

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Live Review: Pixies @ O2 Academy Brixton.

In a bizarre but welcome decision, Pixies chose to play a rotation of UK dates and then loop around again and play another round.  Each time this resulted in a sell out show, maybe not so bizarre? Gig goers are crammed into what feels and looks like an over capacity venue.  People are pushed up against the edges of the walls and are unable to move past without pushing the shoulders of bystanders and turning them like revolving doors.  Looking at the crowd tonight it seems like there is a large student presence, but this being 2016 it seems...

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Live: White Lies @ Shepherd’s Bush Empire

White Lies have been away for three years since the release of their last album Big TV, they are back touring with their new album, Friends.  Although a solid, well received album, Big TV did little to expand their fan base past the original promise of debut album To Lose My Life.  Tonight will showcase a mixture of the retro pop perfection from these albums and standout songs from third album Rituals. The crowd are a loyal bunch, who have clearly been eager for their return.  The natural division of the venue into a terrace of seating and a...

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Live Review: Wovenhand @The Dome, London.

Arriving onstage to a roar of excitement from the crowd, frontman David Eugene Edwards, thrusts his arms up demanding a greater noise, the crowd oblige whooping and hollering.  An exciting line-up of musicians take to the stage, when touring gentler albums this Colorado based band have represented as a three-piece band, tonight they are five men strong, intent on playing a heavy show comprising of tracks from the last three Wovenhand albums. To set the pace, a throbbing bassline and a racing beat from the drum starts The Hired Hand, from stellar new album Star Treatment.  Rich with twanging guitar...

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LIVE: LLOYD COLE @ UNION CHAPEL, LONDON.

On this tour Lloyd Cole is only performing his classic songbook covering a period from 1983 – 1996 which comprises of hits from albums Rattlesnakes, Easy Pieces, Mainstream, Lloyd Cole and Don’t Get Weird On Me Babe.  Union Chapel is an intimate and relaxed setting perfect for an acoustic performance, with soft stage lights and the balcony lined with candles.  The audience are seated together in the church pews drinking tea and coffee (the venue still being a functioning church, no alcohol is allowed in the chapel area) it seems to add to the warmth and closeness of the...

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Rock Show: New Album and 2016 Tour from The Wedding Present

After the announcement of Going Going…, indie darlings The Wedding Present have shared Rachel; of which David Gedge says “Every now and then The Wedding Present comes up with an out and out pop song!  I think this might be favourite track on the album.” Always challenging and experimental, the idea to release the new project in a multi-media format is something that has been marinating with bandleader David Gedge for some time. As he points out, work began soon after the unveiling of The Wedding Present’s 2012 critically acclaimed album Valentina. “I’d already decided by then that I...

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Interview: Luna Bay, Great Things On The Horizon.

Luna Bay arrive surprisingly fresh faced, as they have all assembled in London from various parts of the country, their guitarist having stepped off a train from Wales moments before.  They are a four piece band consisting of front man Connor O’Mara, lead guitarist Rye Milligan, Sammy Penniston on bass and Alex Ross on drums. They all met during their foundation year at the Chelsea branch of BIMM Institute Music School, when asked how the band started, Conner defers to Alex, “It was all his idea!  I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in a band, I had been...

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Live Review: L7 @The O2 Forum Kentish Town

There was a time in musical history in which angry women ruled the earth.  In the musical domain, where are all of the angry women now?  Were they pacified by Girl Power?  Did they all grow up, give in to marriage and have kids?  Are the last remaining handful all in the band Savages?  Grunge left it’s legacy implanted in mainstream music.  The charts contain legions of young male bands singing rock anthems in matching flannel and Pacific Northwest woodsman beards whose influences include Nirvana, but they have probably never heard of Tad or Mudhoney.   One glance at Instagram...

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Exhibition: You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 @V&A, London.

You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970 @V&A, London. The iconic music, art, political dissension, literature and design have all been features of their own exhibitions internationally.  The late 1960’s era is indisputably accepted as an historical and cultural creative uprising that forever changed how we live and express ourselves.  The power of this exhibition is in the timing and the scope with which Curator Geoffrey Marsh approaches such a self imposed narrow time frame, focusing the exhibition on the years between ‘66 and ‘70, that is everything between those times with music being the thread...

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Live Review: Thee Oh Sees @ The Coronet, London.

This San Francisco garage band have been a band in the making since 1997, at the nearly twenty year mark they are moving from cult following to essential band.  They are playing entirely by their own rules, no pretence, no political messages or life lessons to sell, they are a band who know how to have a good time. Joining them as supporting acts are ultra hip French garage rockers Magnetix.  A male and female two piece band who have had to bear a great deal of comparison to an early White Stripes, not without good reason.  Besides the...

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Caught by the River Thames @ Fulham Palace

Caught by the River is reminiscent of the early days of festivals, when they were more like gatherings at which multiple interests were represented, where fashion and showing off are abandoned in favour of relaxation, and letting it all hang out. All ages, all cultures are represented in the crowd and the offering. The local area isn’t just a backdrop, but a feature, with a special series of talks and activities given over to river hobbies and conservation. Literature and film are represented with seminars, talks and viewings in the elegant and historic Palace building. Farm stalls, Friends of...

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Live: Citadel Festival 2016

CITADEL Festival @Victoria Park, London Rising from the ashes of the Lovebox site in Victoria Park, Citadel is a very different kind of festival. Arriving early means you can still see the more generic remnants of the previous festival. It may share some of the stalls of glitter face paint, party supplies and burger vans, but the crowd and the vibe is distinctly different. A huge expanse of Victoria Park is used for this event, hustling from the main stage to the Communion Stage or the Soundcrash Tent in high summer is like a march in the Foreign Legion....

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Live: Fold Festival @ Fulham Palace.

Emin, Anne-Marie, CHIC with Nile Rodgers and Beck @ FOLD Festival FOLD Festival or the Freak Out Let’s Dance Festival is enjoying its second year, to celebrate curator and creator Nile Rodgers has decided to share it with London. Opening the show was Emin, a singer-songwriter better known for his soaring torch songs, he played a pop fuelled disco set to set the tone.  Saturday of the festival coincided with PRIDE London which seems a shame, the rainbow crowd would have bolstered numbers and would likely have awarded him some solid new fans.  His short batch of songs had...

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Live: Ty Segall & The Muggers @ The Forum

Since his last outing in UK touring 2014 album Manipulator, Ty Segall’s fan base has grown.  The crowd tonight look fresh from a snap shot of a California beach party circa 1973.  Hip kids, stoners and surf bums ready to rock out, out of place and out of time.  Segall arrives dressed in what has become his stage uniform of oversize grey boiler suit and fearsome baby mask emphasising that this is a low key, low tech affair.  Guitarist Kyle Thomas on the other hand, had styled himself in the manner of a child’s drawing where only the orange...

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Live: Jane’s Addiction @ The Forum

Jane’s Addiction at The Forum in London on 13 June 2016.  (Imelda Michalczyk) This show was set to be special, as Jane’s Addiction played seminal album Ritual de lo Habitual in full. The title’s literal translation, obvious to even the most linguistically challenged, is Rituals of the Habitual, put differently, Everyday Sacred Ceremonies. A wise choice to guarantee gig-going satisfaction. Although frequently named one of rocks most influential bands, by the likes of Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins and Korn, they are a band who have acquired very few new fans from the younger generations. With only two albums following...

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