Category: Live

Bay Breathes New Life Live @ The Electric Brixton

He was the UK’s favourite pop artist of 2015. He was adored for his long hair, his sexually alluring voice and (of course) ‘the hat’. But the James Bay that was, was no longer. Adamant to change his identity, Bay has, for the past few years, focused on an evolutionary journey that would allow him to not only remain relevant, but true to himself. This year, he took this notion from concept to reality with the release of his latest album Electric Lights. And so Thursday night was the 27 year old Hertfordshire man’s opportunity to prove himself as a...

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The Hold Steady Show London A Really Good Time

The Hold Steady wanted to do something special to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their breakout album Boys And Girls In America. So, in December 2016, they played a run of four shows at an intimate Brooklyn venue. Fans travelled from as far afield as New Zealand to see the band up close and hear a different set each night. The residency was such a success that last year the group took it to Chicago and back to New York City. Now they’ve brought it to London, a city that, frontman Craig Finn acknowledges, has welcomed them with open...

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Elbow Fill The O2 With Warmth And Joy

Arenas like The O2 are built for one purpose: to pack in as many people as safely possible. Comfort, atmosphere, and certainly a sense of intimacy aren’t exactly high on the checklist. So musicians capable of selling a small town’s worth of tickets a night have to work extra hard to create the sense of community that live shows are really all about. Some, like Imagine Dragons, throw money (and confetti) at lavish productions. A few, most notably Nick Cave, spend much of their time clambering on barriers to reach out into various parts of the audience, eventually inviting...

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The Guitar God Robin Trower Plays Hometown Show @ Islington Assembly Hall

As London braved snowmageddon and getting anywhere was a case of determination and luck, a living legend, Robin Trower, was headlining a sold-out gig at Islington Assembly Hall. Despite the weather, or should I say, transport conditions, the fans came out in their masses and filled up the venue to capacity. Some diehards even waited outside in the cold for any last minute ticket returns. The Sari Schorr Trio opened the night for Robin. The American singer-songwriter was accompanied by the exceptional blues guitarist Ash Wilson and Hammond organ wizard Bob Fridzema, who’s known from his previous work with...

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Shakey Graves and Cat Clyde Live @ The Garage Highbury Corner

I agreed to review this gig without listening to either band and using the old school method of just really liking Shakey Graves name and imagining him as a young blues singer with dark troubled lyrics, yes I had been sent a couple of songs to listen too but chose to go in blind as it has always been a good way to judge new bands for me, he delivered on that promise in part. The fact this gig was sold out well in advance and tickets were changing hands online for 3 or 4 times face value suggests...

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Man With A Mission: The Wolves From Japan Devour London’s Dome

Japanese chart-topping band Man With A Mission recently visited London for a sold-out headline gig at The Dome. Straight from Shibuya, Tokyo, the five-piece compromising of Tokyo Tanaka (vocals), Jean-Ken Johnny (guitar and vocals), Kamikaze Boy (bass), DJ Santa Monica (DJ), and Spear Rib (drums) brought a mix of rock ’n’ roll, ska, and electro to London. All dressed up as wolves, and even wearing masks, Man With A Mission are a joy to watch and hear. Braving the heatwave generated by hundreds of jumping and sweating fans, the band perform in style, in full costume throughout. There are no...

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Legendary Mod Icon Paul Weller Delivers A 31 Song Set In Leeds

What can I say about spending over 2 hours in the company of a British Music legend, spanning more than 40 years of music history, it was such an accomplished performance of some of the best music from the 70’s right through to his present record. That’s the difference between Paul Weller and his peer group, whilst many have fallen by the wayside or sadly departed, others have plumped out, lost their energy and hair, and are doing random festival slots or a Xmas showcase tour each year. Weller meanwhile has kept himself trim, still holding a strong political...

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The Temperance Movement Live Are A Deeper Cut Above The Rest

I was lucky enough a few weeks before Christmas to see The Temperance Movement during their ‘Small Rooms New Tunes’ tour – you can read about that here. The small room was Soho institution The Borderline. The new tunes were first public outings for tracks that would later appear on the band’s third studio release A Deeper Cut. Well the new record is here and I’ve just had the pleasure of experiencing the new tunes again; this time though on the first date of the Deeper Cut tour in the rather larger environs of Concorde 2 in Brighton. It’s...

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Jamie Lenman Is A Bright White Blaze Live @ Academy Islington

It is a rare musician who can escape being labelled.  There is no simple description for an artist like Jamie Lenman. He has created whole albums of folk and blues, of hardcore (especially with his former band Reuben) and, most recently electro-pop.   What kind of music does he perform live?  Will he whip out a banjo, bop along to a drum machine or rock out with a full band? Nothing could prepare me for this show. Jamie Lenman arrives on stage to the ticking pulse of electro-pop single Hard Beat.  Live drummer Dan Kavanagh lays down the beat.  There...

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The Amazons Conjour Up Black Magic At Cambridge Junction

The Amazons have had a busy 2017, releasing their debut album, being included in the BBC Sound of 2017 and MTV Brand New 2017 lists, and being named a band to listen to in 2017 by NME, The Independent, and Radio 1. 2018 looks just as busy, they’re in the middle of a UK tour and already appearing on a lot of this year’s festivals line-ups.  We became part of their ‘tribe’ at the Cambridge Junction. The Junction is a great venue for getting close up to the action. It is purpose built on the old cattle market site and holds a capacity of...

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Natalie Imbruglia Delights Union Chapel

When a 22-year-old Natalie Imbruglia broke onto the music scene in 1997 following her departure from hit Australian daytime soap Neighbours, the UK set their expectations firmly in the Kylie camp. But as big a hit as her debut single Torn was, Imbruglia’s style was very much planted in the pop/rock genre, a style that produced wonderful debut record Left Of The Middle which threw her out into the public domain and up there with the likes of contemporaries Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette. But Imbruglia wasn’t made for arenas and massive festival stages, her dulcet tones and delicate...

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Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind Rise Above The Chaos @ Dingwalls

I don’t like to start any review by moaning about things outside the bands control but sometimes it can’t be helped and this gig was one of those occasions due to the venue not handling the swap over between the early and late gig they had on at all well. Also Camden Councils efforts to take all the fun out of going gigs in Camden, the Council now insist everyone shows photo ID to get into gigs and are fully frisked and searched which goes against the spirit of a legendary venue like Dingwalls where such things have never...

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Dirty Sister Stir Up Water Rats

Showcase nights that throw together different groups of musicians spanning a mix of styles are always fun to go along to, opening your ears to a range of talent. And so tonight we bounced from the rocking tones of Doctor Da Vinci to the growling screams of metalers Rank Outsiders and onto the delicate, dulcet tones of solo keyboardist/vocalist Conrad before bouncing London duo Dirty Sister grace the Water Rats’ stage. The indistinguishable tones of a Bouzouki, a Greek stringed instrument for the uninitiated, kick off the duo’s set, the instrument’s imposing form and intricate detailing ensuring Tom Bridle...

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Tyler Childers Is A Burning Ember On A Cold Night Live @Omeara

If you are fortunate enough to catch this Kentuckian singer songwriter during his pass through the UK, you are ahead of the curve.  As is typical of this brilliant South East London venue Omeara are championing new talent on verge of a big break.  Tyler Childers is a much talked about artist who has been promoted thanks to plenty of air play on the essential Americana podcast W.B. Walkers Old Soul Radio Show. Childers is a tall, broad almost imposing figure when he arrives on stage.  His flame red hair betrays his ancestry and hints at a long-held question,...

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This Is The Kit Are Engagingly Enigmatic At Shepherd’s Bush Empire

There aren’t enough songs with whistling. Maybe that’s because most end up sounding either cloying (Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy) or downright irritating (The Scorpions’ Winds Of Change). So when somebody does get it right, the effect is spellbinding. Like when This Is The Kit’s Kate Stables, plucking out the chords of Two Wooden Spoons alone, whistles the vocal melody. Together, the stark instrumentation and the haunting sound from her lips easily create a feeling of intimacy and vulnerability in a venue as vast as Shepherd’s Bush Empire. And this is even before she’s begun to sing or...

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Laurence Jones Reveals The Truth At Borderline

Laurence Jones is 25, which makes him just an infant in Blues years. But he plays with the talent and conviction of a veteran. Turns out, he is. He first picked up the guitar at 8, discovered Eric Clapton at 12, and released his debut album at 20. Over the course of four subsequent LPs, he’s evolved exponentially as a singer, guitarist, and songwriter capable of injecting his own DNA into a fusion of the old (Jimi Hendrix, Gary Moore) and the new (Royal Blood). Never has that been more apparent than on the upcoming The Truth. His boldest...

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Steel Panther Bring The Bombast To Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Steel Panther have done for music what Donald Trump has for America: make it great again. With rocket-fuel party anthems, they’ve not just restored widdly-widdly guitar solos, anthemic keyboard melodies, and booming drums to their rightful place in the rock pantheon, they’ve completely undermined the bleeding heart establishment who feel the need to explore such trivialities as socio-economic injustice and the effects of climate change. With subtlety and restraint to rival ‘80s masterpiece Every Rose Has Its Thorn, they’ve single-handedly resurrected the long-lost art of crafting the perfect lighter-waving, heart-breaking power ballad. And with straight-talking lyrics like “Find a...

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King King Let Love In At Shepherd’s Bush Empire

“I love what I do,” King King front man Alan Nimmo told me a few months ago, “and I want the audience to love it with me.” The clearly thrilled singer and guitarist achieves exactly that at the band’s biggest London headline show to date. As soon as the quartet hit the Shepherd’s Bush Empire stage to the strains of Free’s All Right Now, Nimmo starts sharing the love. With the broad grin of a gregarious host, his fists raised in excitement, he welcomes the punters with a cheery “Happy new year” before even playing a single note. That...

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Starcrawler “They Will Kill You” Live @ Omeara, London

Across their social media comes a strong message from young band Starcrawler, “We will kill you”.  A notice hangs on the wall of the entranceway of bijoux South East venue Omeara, ‘Warning:  Tonight there will be a potentially disturbing immersive performance’, now that’s a hell of a promise. Omeara is a gem of a venue, formed from a defunct railway arch and tucked into the ally, it is like a secret cave comprising of a small stage with a low gradient floor (complete with near invisible hazard marked steps), and a small corner bar selling cans of beer.  The...

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Black Country Communion Sway Into Hammersmith

Black Country Communion may, as Glenn Hughes says more than once tonight, be a band built on friendship. But they’re also a band built on supreme talent. Best known for his time with Dream Theater, the six-packed Derek Sherinian is one of those players who can sprinkle a delicate keyboard melody onto the end of Sway or lean into the mellotron swells of a thunderous The Outsider with equal flair. Jason Bonham is such a seismic performer that Hughes admits he sometimes can’t tell the difference between him and his father, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, undoubtedly the greatest rock...

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Fallen Angels Offer Smoke Signals to the Ancient Gods:  Fields of the Nephilim Live

With few commercial releases in the last decade Fields of the Nephilim have relied on their status as one of the original and most influential British goth rock bands to maintain their fan base.   From their musical style to their carefully cultivated look, they set a standard, a feel and a design for the entire goth subculture.  The motifs and symbols of their band logo and artwork, the uniform theatrical costume, and of course the themes in their music of romanticism, mysticism, and the occult.  They do also share some of the goth tropes which are often mocked by...

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Five Finger Death Punch Knock Out Wembley Arena

  Metal is all about volume and intensity. Which is exactly what Of Mice And Men supply as they kick off a night of guttural vocals, guitar riffs of sledgehammer subtlety, soul-shaking drum fills, chest thumping, and sweaty, screaming, moshing fans at Wembley Arena. Led by Aaron Pauley, who sings and assaults his bass with equal ferocity, the quartet from Orange County, California play a tight six-song set that balances the old and the brand new. The fittingly named Unbreakable, which opens the show, and guaranteed future live staple Warzone are both from the forthcoming Defy (out in January),...

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Extreme Get The Funk Out Live At Brixton Academy

Extreme formed an essential part of the soundtrack to my youth. Their debut album may have looked (and let’s be honest here) sounded like an offering from a formulaic late eighties hair metal band, but with the release of Pornograffitti and III Sides To Every Story, the Boston four-piece cemented themselves as artists of real creative integrity. Their amalgam of hard rock, pop and funk – cemented by creamy harmony vocals gave them a sound that was uniquely theirs. And then there was Nuno. Nuno Bettencourt, born in the Azores of Portuguese descent quickly established himself as one of...

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Bombs Away As One OK Rock Hit Shepherd’s Bush Empire

One OK Rock are, to use a familiar phrase, big in Japan. So big in fact that last summer, across two shows at Shizuoka’s Nagisaen Park, the band played to a total of 110 000 fans. Captured in the forthcoming concert film 2016 Special Live In Nagisaen, the gigs were on the same epic scale as historic live events like Queen at Wembley Stadium or Green Day at Milton Keynes Bowl. Although the quartet haven’t yet achieved such popularity outside their home country, they’re making a real go of becoming “Japan’s first globally recognised band”. Their last three albums...

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Reconciliation Of Love and Fury:  Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ Brixton Academy

Ex-Gallows and Pure Love frontman Frank Carter is one of the most exciting performers to witness live.  Never predictable, with hardcore punk band Gallows he was an explosion of vitriolic rage, lyrics streaming out of him to vent pain and nihilistic despair.  With Pure Love, the pendulum swung to the other extreme as Carter flirted with pop and found himself to be a brilliantly round peg in a square hole. Thanks to collaborator and band mate, former Heights guitarist Dean Richardson he may have found a successful carrier for his divided musical heart and a new sound.  With this...

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Robert Plant Shifts Space And Time At Royal Albert Hall

Like every well-worn rock ‘n roll story, Robert Plant’s has definite touchstones. He possesses one of the genre’s finest voices. He’s the original golden god who, with Led Zeppelin, defined what it is to be a rock star. He’s not one for nostalgia, turning his back on lucrative reunions to focus on creating music that pays no heed to genre. He loves Morocco, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and having a pint in his North London local . But he could also be considered something of an anthropologist or musicologist. Clearly fueled by an innate curiosity, Plant is well versed in the...

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Benjamin Clementine Lays Down A Challenge At Brixton Academy

  Benjamin Clementine knows the conventions that live gigs follow. “I play, you clap,” he observes at one point during his Brixton Academy performance. So the hits from his 2015 Mercury Prize-winning debut, At Least For Now, get an airing. A generous selection of tracks from its ambitious, experimental follow-up I Tell A Fly, are slipped into the set. There’s audience participation. There’s between-song conversation. And of course there’s an encore.   But the self-described expressionist whose latest album started out as a theatre piece about two romantically entangled flies exploring the world, isn’t one for blindly following those...

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JW Jones Raises The Temperature @ London’s Borderline

JW Jones is an award-winning Canadian blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He has released eight studio albums, performed in 19 countries, toured four continents, and played with legends like Buddy Guy, Canned Heat, and Red Hot Chili Peppers phenomenon Chad Smith. This winter he brought his flying Gibson to the UK to promote his latest studio album, High Temperature. The tour came to London’s Borderline last weekend for what was, in my opinion, one of the best gigs of the year. Starting with Wham, a crazy jam from the current album, Jones set the tone for the evening, a night of...

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Reinventing Himself On The Road: John Bramwell Live @ Union Chapel

After many years as frontman of Manchester-based band I Am Kloot, in 2013 John Bramwell took a change of direction and set out on a “Never-ending” solo tour that charted a course that has criss-crossed this country and into the continent. It’s a journey that has wended its way though clubs and pubs, churches and village halls giving plenty of time for musing on life and love, hope and heartbreak, desire and despair en route. Returning to Union Chapel in London tonight, John is promoting his first full solo album Leave Alone The Empty Spaces, self-released in November 2017,...

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The Pretty Reckless Run Wild At Brixton Academy

The stage is what makes or breaks a band. There are no do-overs, no overdubs, no ProTools to iron out those imperfections. It’s just you, your songs, and (especially if you’re an opening band) an audience to win over. The Pretty Reckless, who’ve been doing this since 2009, know the score, especially when they’re playing to fans as rabid as Stone Sour’s. So, no time for ballads like You and House On The Hill. Instead, the 50-minute opening set is packed with a succession of their heaviest songs, each performed with a matter of life or death intensity rarely...

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The Age Of Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons: Live @ Sheffield Academy

It is not often that rock legends make a stop in Sheffield, but this Monday in November a guitarist, his three sons, and singer Neil Starr rolled into town to raise the roof of the O2 Academy, supporting Aussie-rockers Airbourne. It was therefore no surprise that the venue was packed even on a school night. However, before Phil Campbell and his Bastard Sons went on stage, hillbilly rock’n’rollers from Canada, The Wild! made sure that everyone knew that jeans vests are back! In a patch-covered sea of jeans on jeans, the four heavy hardrockers took to the Academy’s stage...

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REWS: Expectations High

Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time. The right place was the Hawley Arms during the Camden Rocks Festival on a glorious early June day this year. The right time was around half past four in the afternoon when a band of which I was previously unaware called REWS occupied the stage. They were excellent – to me, by far the most enjoyable act of the day. Ironically, Since the Camden Rocks appearance I’ve done little else but hear about REWS. Later in the month, they graced the John Peel Stage at...

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Jim White Plays Guitars & Talks Jesus At Dingwalls & St Mary’s Guildford.

Jim White is back on tour to promote his current album the very cool Waffles, Triangles & Jesus that is out now on Loose Music. This is the second time I’ve been to hear Jim play the last time was at St Pancras Old Church and like at that gig his support act are also his backing band for the tour. This time rather than the multi-instrumentalist Paul Fonfara this time it’s the Trio Cicada Rhythm from Georgia. Cicada Rhythm open with America’s Open Road that’s a cool paean to the wonders of driving across America that allows the...

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Bad Touch Feel Good At Islington Academy

All bands, if they’re around long enough, reach that point where youthful urgency overlaps with experience. Bad Touch are now in that zone. Currently on their first UK headline tour (“eight years in the making,” as frontman Stevie Westwood puts it), the group have two full-length studio albums and two EPs of material, the skills gained from supporting big names like The Kentucky Headhunters around the country, and the lessons learnt from playing hundreds of shows. But, almost a decade in, they’ve lost none of the unbridled passion and dynamism of their early days as a bar band in...

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The Temperance Movement: New Tunes In A Small Room

  Malcolm Young died earlier this week. As I squeeze into a space at the front at Soho institution the Borderline, the PA soundtrack is non-stop AC/DC. It’s a good metaphor for tonight’s headline, The Temperance Movement. They’re both gravel-throat fronted blues-rock bands with emphasis on the rock. They’re both at home in front of a stadium crowd (‘The Temp’ – as TTM frontman Phil Campbell calls them, supported The Rolling Stones on their 2014 European and 2015 US tours). They’re both an absolute blast live. As Malcolm and Angus fill the pre-support void I’m left wondering whether there...

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Royal Blood Have It All Figured Out At Alexandra Palace

Following At The Drive-In takes balls, especially when the Texas quintet finish their 45-minute assault with a rendition of One Armed Scissor that’s the sonic equivalent of a napalm attack. But Brighton-based Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher certainly aren’t lacking in confidence. And rightly so. In the five years since forming Royal Blood the duo have taken their crunching blues riffs and titanic choruses from open-mic nights in Worthington to headlining London’s Alexandra Palace three nights in a row. It’s been a rapid rise, certainly, but gradual enough for the singer-bassist and drummer to scale up their production and...

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Michael Chapman & Julie Byrne Combine At The Union Chapel, London

Venues and artists don’t always make happy bedfellows, but the combination of Michael Chapman and Julie Byrne playing at London’s Union Chapel on Monday 13th November was a rare occasion of an acoustic match made in heaven. Billed as a ‘special guest’, legendary guitarist Chapman took to the stage under the church’s rose-tinted windows, appearing in his trademark baseball cap, illuminated by a spotlight, through occasional billows of dry smoke. Delivering a mesmerising performance to a hushed audience, his finger-picking playing style and stony voice cut through the room, while occasionally interspersing his set with tales of more than...

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Joanne Shaw Taylor Beats The Blues At Royal Festival Hall

Joanne Shaw Taylor is suffering from a cold. But, other than her drinking hot water and honey (not gin, she promises) between songs and an added hint of huskiness to her voice, you wouldn’t know. The singer and guitarist is all energy and smiles as she (sometimes quite literally) bounds through a set that stretches all the way from her 2009 debut White Sugar to last year’s Wild. Three songs from the current release (the swinging Dyin’ To Know, aptly titled all-out rocker Nothing To Lose, and the touching No Reason To Stay) kick off the show, before she...

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Dan Patlansky Offers Style And Substance At Royal Festival Hall

Gone are the leather jacket and checked lumberjack shirt. When Dan Patlansky steps out onto the Royal Festival Hall stage it’s in waistcoat and suit jacket. “As soon as I put on these clothes, I feel like I’m about to to go to work. It changes your headspace a little,” he tells me later. “And also with all these tattoos popping up everywhere,” he gestures towards the intricate inking on his neck, “I love the contrast of wearing something suave.” A less visual, but certainly more important, change is the interplay with his band. For his previous visit to...

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Rock Medicine With The Blues Pills @ Sheffield Academy

Earlier this week, my favourite band from Sweden stopped over in Sheffield, as they joined Black Star Riders for the UK leg of their European tour. And no, Agnetha and Björn hadn’t decided to stage their comeback in South Yorkshire. With big grins on their faces, the five Blues Pills took to the stage, clearly there to have a great time. With her boundless bouncy energy powerhouse frontwoman Elin Larsson did not hang around long to get the show started. Kicking off with the title track of their second studio album, Lady in Gold, Blues Pills launched right into...

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Upcoming Festivals

  1. Live @ Leeds 2018

    May 5
  2. Bearded Theory Spring Gathering

    May 24 - May 27
  3. Catfish & The Bottlemen @ All Points East

    June 1
  4. Field Day 2018

    June 1 - August 2
  5. Festival Of Voice Cardiff

    June 7 - June 17
  6. Download Festival

    June 8 - June 10
  7. Love Supreme Jazz Festival

    June 29 - July 1
  8. bluedot

    July 19 - July 22
  9. Cool Britannia

    August 31 - September 2

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