Live Reviews - en-us Copyright (c) 2017 Gigwise. All rights reserved. <![CDATA[ Live Review: Sundara Karma at Brixton Academy, London, 05/10/2017 ]]> There’s a triumphant atmosphere circling the air outside Brixton Academy this evening following a more than triumphant year for Sundara Karma. In January they released their debut album Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect, and from then on they continued to climb the industry ranks delivering one glittering performance after another on their own headline tours as well as at iconic Glastonbury and their native Reading Festival. Mid-way through their latest UK tour, a stop off at the O2 Academy Brixton for their biggest London show to date seems like a more than fitting occasion to culminate all that they have achieved so far.

Walking on stage in matching outfits, the quartet open a teaser of the Bowie inflected ‘Another Word For Beautiful’ before crashing into ‘A Young Understanding’. Breakthrough single ‘Loveblood’ follows and it’s at this point you begin to realise that their once cult following has materialised into something so much bigger than that, as teenagers cling on to every word that falls out of vocalist and guitarist Oscar Pollock’s mouth. Populating the serene and overtly elegant stage set up with guitarist Ally Baty, bassist Dom Cordell and drummer Haydn Evans, Oscar doesn’t refrain from throwing himself around on stage at the height of their euphoric riffs, with enviable grace.

Their show offers a career spanning set which sees the Reading natives dig deep into their second EP (aptly titled EP II) and dust off old gems such as the sparkling ‘Run Away’ and the poignant ‘Diamond Cutter’, much to the delight of the die-hards in the crowd. However, they also visit the three new tracks which made their way onto the re-release of the LP in the summer, all of which are welcomed warmly inside the South London venue.

A standout moment comes as the opening line to ‘Vivienne’ echoes around the room. You can feel the sentiment and the meaning the song creates as groups of friends grab each other in time to sing along with Oscar, “we could change the world if we stop getting high.”

Tonight is a celebration of youth, a theme which runs through the veins of Sundara Karma’s back catalogue, but ultimately it’s a celebration of a band who are reaping their well deserved rewards. Youth might only ever be fun in retrospect, but surely headlining Brixton Academy comes a close second...

Sundara Karma played:
Another Word For Beautiful
A Young Understanding
Run Away
Be Nobody
Diamond Cutter
Watching From Great Heights
Lose The Feeling
She Said
Deep Relief
The Night
Happy Family


Gigwise Fri, 06 Oct 2017 16:46:19 GMT 110825
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Flamingods at Jazz Cafe, London, 04/09/17 ]]> Originating from Bahrain and born out of a smorgasbord of diverse cultural influences, from Nepal to Japan to Tanzania, Flamingods certainly have a refreshingly international outlook, with a clear leaning to the Eastern Hemisphere. This vibrant melting pot brings lesser known instruments into the fore, such as the phin guitar from Thailand or various Middle Eastern drums, and helps to ensure their own brand of psychedelic rock has a distinct flavour in a scene where Tame Impala still rules supreme.

Yet it is their riotous, carnival like energy that sets them apart as such compelling live performers. Opener ‘Xipe Totec,’ named after an Aztec deity, set the raucous tone with pounding drums, helter skelter riffs and warped, echoing vocals, as frontman Kamal Rasool cavorted around stage in his colourful attire. 

From the sprightly ‘Jungle Birds’ to the electric ‘Gojira,’ the sonic energy continued to flow in jaunty gushes all night, often dispatched at a frenetic, dancey pace that’s fairly unusual for psychedelic music. With little regard for the Verse-Chorus-Verse-Chorus structure, they sailed freely from one melody to the next, be it vocal, synth or guitar, and at times it was difficult to ascertain where one song ended and the next began. Though despite their atypical approach, the crowd willingly stepped into this radiant, fantastical world with them.

The encore brought a ferocious finale, as enchanting support act Peluché entered the stage for some cosmic dancing, and Rasool launched himself into the mesh of dancing bodies, coaxing them to move up and down like some mad conjurer. If you need a box to put this artist into, Otherworldly Music should do just fine.

Gigwise Fri, 06 Oct 2017 16:15:48 GMT 110824
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Superorganism at Village Underground, London, 05/09/17 ]]> COME ON DOWN TO WITNESS HISTORY’ cried Superorganism’s tweet in anticipation of their first ever live gig. Whilst this much self-absorption might be perceived as a little premature or naive to some considering this group’s lack of experience, the simmering excitement amongst the sea of bodies under Village Underground’s high white ceiling made this statement seem pretty apt.

Since the release of ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.’ in early 2017 with its luscious, moreish chorus and their offbeat brand of electro-psych-pop, they’ve been catapulted into the limelight and the hype has been ascending rapidly for 9 months. Their beginnings stem simply from a group of friends spread around the globe emailing ideas and tracks to each other, gradually forming their playful sound, which is both childlike and jubilant as well as being drenched in the muck of psychedelia. True to their name they now number 8, with members from several different continents, and they clearly don't want to be associated with anywhere in particular, with their location on Twitter listed as ‘EVERYWHERE.’

From their love of capital letters alone you can tell that subtlety isn’t really their thing. Entering stage in brightly coloured raincoats, covered in glitter and ringing tiny bells, their commitment to their eccentric identity is endearing and was threaded throughout their entire set. ‘It’s All Good’ began the night with a whir and a thunder, delightfully led by singer Orono, a Japanese-American teenage girl who seems to stand at little over five feet tall, who was a captivating presence throughout in her light green raincoat. Her lackadaisical delivery of free flowing, unhinged verses contrasts perfectly with their simplistic, bold choruses, and ensures that their gaudy soundscapes of abrasive beats, synths and video game samples are rooted in her charming, low key charisma.

Before closing the night with the gorgeous crowd pleaser ‘Something For Your M.I.N.D.,’ Orono playfully quipped ‘I thought we weren't gonna play that fucking song,’ that gave the auspicious sense that this girl and her troupe of offbeat pop-heads could be destined for a glistening future.

Gigwise Fri, 06 Oct 2017 15:54:59 GMT 110823
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Alt-J at The BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, 04/10/17 ]]> Alt-J’s new album is too exploratory to definitively signify a change of direction – instead, it suspends direction entirely. Relaxer may not be revolutionary (or cohesive, for that matter) but it is a marked departure from the band’s winning formula parodied to viral success by two rice-cake-munching YouTubers back in 2015. An unsettling combination of sex, death and melancholy, each of the eight new tracks offers a slightly different avatar of the indie trio – and all are not created equal.

Kicking off the third day of 6 Music Live at Maida Vale with ‘3WW’ – the soothing opener from the new album that flits between folk, soft-rock and pop ballad – it’s apparent that the guys have still got it. Thom Sonny Green’s percussion immediately steals the show, its unpredictability saving the string quintet and piano melody from sounding too Les Miserables-esque.

With a smattering of stellar tracks from alt-J’s Mercury-winning debut on the set list, it becomes evident as the show progresses that Relaxer is comparatively inconsistent. While the standout songs from the new album sound nothing like those from An Awesome Wave, they do share an inventiveness that makes the transition between them seamless. The weaker numbers sound entirely forgettable by comparison to these and the two tight tracks performed from This Is All Yours, ‘Every Other Freckle’ and ‘Left Hand Free’.

Joe Newman’s voice takes nasal to a new level (think BeeGees) with his live rendition of ‘Deadcrush’ but it works somehow. The horn quartet brought in for ‘Cold Summer’ makes for a chorus rousing enough to launch an Apple ad campaign, almost matching the infectious ‘Dissolve Me’ that follows. Gus Unger-Hamilton’s choir-boy lilting lulls me into a blissful trance on ‘Adeline’ – but that devolves into a stupor with a painfully slow rendition of ‘Last Year’, saved only by the inimitable Marika Hackman.

Brief moments of disappointment are sandwiched between phenomenal performances of early classics and genuinely exciting new tracks, however, and if this is the price of a touch of unpredictability, then it’s definitely worth paying.

Alt-J played

Something Good
In Cold Blood
Dissolve Me
Last Year
(with Marika Hackman)
Every Other Freckle
Left Hand Free


Gigwise Thu, 05 Oct 2017 10:09:30 GMT 110804
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Mogwai at the BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, 03/10/17 ]]> Music – at its very best - has always been about tension and release; of building up to the point where you either peak and go nowhere or of blasting off to the next level of joy, energy and bliss. And Mogwai know this most than more bands.

Of course, it’s all too easy to speak of Mogwai in terms of quiet and loud dynamics, not least as there’s so much more to them. Over the course of 20 years, Mogwai have navigated a route that has seen them deviate on more than one occasion from what you might expect of the post-rock template. And so it proves with their new album, the pun-laden Every County’s Sun, that sees them re-united with producer Dave Fridmann and their exploration of the textures and layers that make up much of today’s live session at the BBC’s studios in Maida Vale.

Guitars still remain at the forefront of Mogwai’s sound. Stuart Braithwaite frequently teases and caresses his strings before letting rip but as evidenced on the band’s re-visitation of Rave Tapes’ ‘Remurdered’, Mogwai are more than happy to lean more heavily on keyboards. As ever with Mogwai, orthodoxy is something to be eschewed and trampled on.

Winding their way through their set, Mogwai take this audience on a 60-minute journey that’s more of an active than passive experience. With no vocals – the sweet alt.pop of ‘Party In The Dark’ being the exception – there’s so much more to take in. ‘Coolverine’ is an invitation to close one’s eyes and set sail on waters that alternately lap and lash before gently returning to shore.

As ever with Mogwai, there are moments that can be relied upon. Witness the still muscular ‘Mogwai Fear Satan’, the very definition of tension and release. Stand-in drummer Cat Myers, parachuted in from Glasgow punks Honeyblood, is absolutely on point as she ushers the band from sonic heights to beatific calm before exploding again with all the force of a supernova.

In the final analysis, Mogwai are simply the best in breed. Aided and abetted by the BBC’s sound technicians, this is an exemplary display of a band not content to rest on its laurels but to keep pushing forward

Gigwise Tue, 03 Oct 2017 14:26:16 GMT 110789
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Barns Courtney at Dingwalls, London, 29/09/2017 ]]> 29 September is going to go down in Barns Courtney’s personal history as possibly the busiest day of his life. Firstly it is album release day, his debut ‘The Attractions Of Youth’ has been unleashed into the world after years and years of hard graft leading towards this point, secondly it’s the final date of his headline tour, which has seen the singer take on the north and now London, and thirdly, and perhaps most impressively, a mere few hours before he takes to the stage in Camden he was on a plane, flying back from his appearance on James Corden’s Late Late Show in Los Angeles.

Barns’ live show is surprisingly diverse, sure he wields a guitar and croons like on the singles we’ve previously heard, but he also takes to the piano for a couple of more sombre numbers proving he’s mastered the art of emotive balladry too. His voice is practically faultless throughout the pop rock morsels he delivers, and the adoring audience singing most of the words back to him only cements his newfound rockstar status.

At one point Barns is also joined on stage by saxophonist John Waugh, most notable for his work with The 1975, to add some welcome sax appeal to the show. A definite highlight of the evening ‘Golden Dandelions’ is euphoric inside the Camden haunt as the musician edges towards the end of his performance, beginning a hat-trick of hits with the blistering ‘Kicks’ and ‘Fire’ following on and closing the set. A rockstar-in-waiting for many years, Barns now has Dingwalls in the palm of his hand as he reigns over the North London venue continuing his exhilarating ascent.

Gigwise Mon, 02 Oct 2017 12:45:33 GMT 110784
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Lorde at Alexandra Palace, London, 27/09/17 ]]> What does melodrama mean to you? To Lorde it seems to represent the bombardment of the media, the overtness of the art and entertainment worlds and above it all the human struggle with love. During one of her speeches, she delves further into her version of melodrama, her borderline obsession with love, finding it, losing it and the desperation to keep it, both towards others and within herself. It’s this struggle that provided the life blood for her album, and forms the backbone for the tour. But the Lorde that greeted us on stage wasn’t defeated, she’s a survivor of this particular fight and her love for her music and fans radiated from her from the moment she entered the stage.

When the first pulsing synths of opener ‘Magnets’, glided over the crowd, it was clear despite the title, this was not to be a melodramatic pop spectacle. Lorde has crafted her own form of pop, the minimalist, electro-heavy sounds really allow for her distinct vocals to stand out, to grasp every nuance of emotion that is so key when listening to her records. Yet, in spite of the preciseness of her music, accentuated further by exact lighting, Ella Yelich-O’Connor was desperate for the crowd to let go, to introduce some chaos to her music and although the music offers little chaos, through sheer force of will, Lorde really pushed the crowd to new heights during renditions of songs such as, ‘The louvre’ or ‘Ribs’.

Although, this wasn’t a melodramatic spectacle, it doesn’t mean there weren’t moments that didn’t stand out. Five songs into the set, Lorde brought out a xylophone, the kind you would find in a primary school and began to hit a few unrecognisable notes. As the confusion in the crowd rose and the murmurs started, the backing track to ‘Buzzcut Season’ creeped in and suddenly the murmurs turned to cheers as she went through a pitch perfect rendition of the fan favourite track.

Intermittently backed by up to six dancers performing interpretive pieces to her songs, it’s clear that this is Lorde’s vision on stage. They aren’t trying to make the New Zealand singer more impressive, they are there show another element to her work and she is constantly trying to find different ways through art or technology to showcase her music, to push beyond what’s on the record. It’s this level of confidence in her vision that shows her progression as an artist. The timid 16-year-old that performed in London for the first time would almost be unrecognisable to the self-assured 20-year-old that commands the stage now. It’s clear to see she revels in it too as at the half-way mark she exclaims, “why did I wait so long to come back?”

During her longest speech of the night, where we find out it’s been four years since her debut album (I’m sure the millennials felt a lot older all of a sudden), she discusses the creation of ‘Liability’ in the studio and how crazy it was to think a crowd of 10,000 people would one day be singing it back to her‘Liability’ the biggest sing-a-long moment of the night at that stage through to crowd pleaser ‘Royals’ the crowd and Ella were pushed deeper into their own worlds… their own melodramatic worlds.

And she certainly saves the best for last, as the final trio of songs: ‘Perfect Places’, ‘Team’, and ‘Green Light’ are almost otherworldly in their states of euphoria. Every bombast chorus of these final songs gives you that kind of life-affirming high, the ‘music is my drug’ kind of high and by the final confetti covered chorus of ‘Green Light’, the crowd were in an all-encompassing state of ecstasy.

There was a strange choice right at the end as she came back for a brief encore of sombre track ‘Loveless’, which felt a little unnecessary, but what Lorde achieved throughout the rest of the night easily outshone this one fault. It was a memorable performance from a generation defining artist and in the words of Phil Collins song she performed earlier there was definitely something “in the air tonight, oh lord”.

Gigwise Thu, 28 Sep 2017 16:08:10 GMT 110769
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Hello Operator at Nambucca, London, 22/09/2017 ]]> It’s well and truly ‘Operator Hour’ as York quartet Hello Operator make a welcome return to the capital. They’re headlining the first In The Tune club night at Nambucca – a venue that has rock ‘n’ roll running through it’s veins - with a line-up crafted to emerging talent perfection (Lucid, Hoodoo Daze and Sons also appear on the bill.)

The grit in singer Max Dalton’s vocal delivery mixed with the sultry tinges in their atmospheric guitar riffs is executed with immaculate precision, hypnotic in their performance it’s near impossible not to be entranced by them, and it’s exciting.

“Is that as good as it gets my honey?” the vocalist asks on the prowling ‘Hallucination Lucifer’ as all of the tracks from their Love Is A Loan EP get an airing this evening. We haven’t heard from the Yorkshire four piece for some time now and one can only assume they’ve been burrowed away making new music to follow it up, and a fresh cut does come in the form of ‘Oosh’. Widely teased on social media, the Holloway Road venue is treated to an early preview of the song which drops this Friday. Rocketing through the tune it doesn’t take long for the crowd to pick up the “oosh sha la la la” chorus as the quintessential, beautifully unruly Hello Operator sound pushes to the forefront of the track effortlessly.

It’s impressive that a band so early in their career have already honed such a distinct, all encompassing and sonically pleasing sound, bringing a performance that would work in arenas to a 300-cap haunt in North London. Surely it’s a sign of bigger things to come...

Gigwise Mon, 25 Sep 2017 17:10:13 GMT 110742
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Trampolene at 229 The Venue, London, 21/09/2017 ]]> Much like the travellers of yesteryears, Trampolene are the captains of their own ship. Steering the vessel from Swansea to North London’s Hornsey the trio have blazed their own trail to become a vital Welsh export.

Tonight is no mean feat for the three-piece – it’s their biggest headline show to date in the capital, and to celebrate they’re playing their soon-to-drop debut album Swansea To Hornsey in full. It’s a mix of captivating poetic jaunts and electrifying rock ‘n’ roll.

With support coming from the grunge tinged Calva Louise, boisterous Essex quartet Breed and the exhilarating False Heads who deliver a blistering performance worthy of their own headline show, it’s not long before Jack Jones saunters on stage in a brown faux fur jacket. On first impression it doesn’t quite resemble the rock star character we’ve come to recognise him as. Opening the set gently with the spoken word track ‘Artwork of Youth’ it’s not long before the frontman is humouring the central London crowd with witty anecdotes such as, “my gran is banned from driving because she takes all of my points for me” and, “have you ever seen a better start to a gig?” as technical issues threaten to delay the beginning of the show.

Jones’ stage presence is endearing as, alongside the other two members, Wayne Thomas on bass and Rob Steele on drums, they weave their way through their first LP which drops next month. ‘Alcohol Kiss’ is as visceral and bolshy as it sounds on record, if not even more heightened due to the momentous occasion, whilst fan favourite poem ‘Ketamine’ is an illustrative ode to the class B drug and ‘Pound Land’ brings the evening to a poignant end. Reflecting on Trampolene’s lyricism it’s clear the trio have a lot to say and you’d be silly not to listen.

Gigwise Fri, 22 Sep 2017 19:09:17 GMT 110732
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Mr Jukes at Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 20/09/17 ]]> Jack Steadman is one of modern music’s rare chameleons. The simultaneous indie-pop frontman, Soundcloud electronic producer and folk balladeer’s latest venture sees him fronting his own 8-piece neo-soul band, who deliver a spectacular blend of hip-hop, soul and jazz fusion in West London.

Opener ‘Somebody New’ sets the mood perfectly, the wonky d’Angelo-esque groove getting the crowd on their feet. This leads effortlessly into a cover of Slum Village and J Dilla classic ‘Fall In Love’. The virtuosic talent of his band is immediately apparent, as the brass section and keyboardist trade solos effortlessly all night. Indeed, the band’s interpretation of Roy Hargrove’s ‘Strasbourg/St Denis’ is a six-minute masterpiece of meandering jazz, drawing an impressed reaction.

Shades of Steadman’s indie-pop past in Bombay Bicycle Club become more recognisable on crowd-pleasers such as ‘Ruby’ and ‘Tears’, showcasing his considerable talent for melody. The highlight, however, comes later on in the form of a memorable cover of Lauryn Hill classic ‘Doo-Wop (That Thing)’, where vocalist Frida Toura – also of London jazz band Native Dancer- steals the show with a powerful, charismatic performance. ‘Angels/Your Love’, the album’s first and main single, lacks the presence in a live setting of collaborator BJ The Chicago Kid, but is in its own right a compelling, psychedelic journey: complete with one of the finest bass lines you’ll hear in 2017.

Latest single ‘Grant Green’ is a fitting encore, a Motown classic in the mould of James Brown. ‘You can make my heart go wild’, the ecstatic crowd screams in unison. As the shy Steadman bows to the audience, pointing modestly to his band, it is easy to forget he is a musical polymath that has written and produced yet another album of fine material. ‘There’s nothing the man can’t do’, a thrilled voice proclaims in the venue lobby. On the evidence of this tight and energetic performance, I’m sure few would disagree.

Mr Jukes played:
Somebody New
Fall In Love
(Slum Village cover)
From Golden Stars Comes Silver Dew
Leap of Faith
(Herbie Hancock cover)
Doo-Wop (That Thing)
(Lauryn Hill cover)
Angels/Your Love
Grant Green

Gigwise Fri, 22 Sep 2017 10:40:27 GMT 110730
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Foo Fighters at the O2 Arena, 19/09/2017 ]]> In the last ten years, Foo Fighters have released four albums, sold thousands of copies, been streamed by millions, played the biggest events in the world; including Glastonbury this year, broken legs (literally) and have turned from icons into rock gods. It’s been close to a decade since the band have played at the increasingly prestigious O2 Arena in London, and they are back as part of the venue’s tenth birthday, to celebrate their new album ‘Concrete and Gold’ as the next stop on their world tour.


Recognising this as an occasion not just to commemorate their new album, but the monumental career they’ve had up to this moment, the Foos put on an extensive greatest hits set, with a trickling of songs from the latest album and a few covers to boot. After queuing to enter for an eternity, the mass sea of intoxicated dads, moshing teenagers and first concert couples, prove that even with a mainstream taste, they offer the kind of diehard passion that every band aspires to receive from an audience.

Dave Grohl is on perfect form as always, living up to his reputation as the nicest guy in rock music. Even without an over the top stage setup, Grohl is determined to put on the most entertaining show as possible, with just an electric guitar and decades of experience to help him.

Despite his gleaming smile, Dave “I never lose my voice motherfuckers" Grohl is still an animal behind the microphone, as he lights up the room with a semi solo rendition of ‘Times Likes These’ before he mercilessly shreds his way through the ending on guitar.

Whether it’s the euphoric ‘My Hero’, adrenaline racing ‘White Limo’, stadium sized singalong of ‘The Pretender’ or the impromptu ‘Tie Your Mother Down' cover; the crowd never stops screaming along and the Foos never seem to stop having fun onstage.

The musicianship between bassist Nate Mendel and Chris Shifflet on lead guitar is the most integral part to the Foo’s performance as they lead every song into mind-blowing extensions, that keep the band’s famed live shows so unique compared to on record, and highlights exactly how talented they are as performers. When he's not doing Freddie Mercury impressions, drummer Taylor Hawkins shows off his world class abilities behind the kit as he performs perfect fills on the likes of ‘Rope’.

Some of their new tracks beg the question of if they’ve lost touch with what made them ever stand out originally, but the raw power of ‘The Sky is The Neighbourhood' proves otherwise. Their clear inspiration from the experimental side of The Beatles shines through on ‘La De Da’ and on ‘Make It Right’ when they play it live for the first time ever.

Culminating a triumphant and incredibly impressive three hour long set with an appearance from none other than Rick Astley and the anthemic double whopper of 'Best of You' and ‘Everlong' to close, Foo Fighters make it clear that they are never going to shy away from giving their fans exactly what they want for as long as they physically can every time they are onstage. With an incredible legacy to live up to, they will keep going relentlessly for decades to come as one of the greatest live bands in rock.

Gigwise Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:04:14 GMT 110716
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Yonaka at The Borderline, London, 14/09/17 ]]> Much like affordable housing, there are a couple of things going on in the bowels of Soho’s revamped Borderline that the capital doesn’t often see: a band working itself into a pouring sweat and an audience properly losing its shit as bodies variously slam, jump and crowd surf. Yonaka are in full flight and their fans are with them all the way.

The Brighton four-piece have been blazing a trail since their inception just a few years ago and while there are still a few rough sound edges to iron out, tonight’s performance nonetheless finds Yonaka showing which way they’re headed and it ain’t back home. Blending crunching riffs with elements of hip-hop and dubstep and all wrapped up with an unashamed pop sensibility, this is very much a rock band for the here and now. If Garbage were to form today, they wouldn’t be million miles away from here.

As evidenced by earlier single ‘Ignorance’ and set closer ‘Bubblegum’, Yonaka effortlessly glide their numerous influences to make a sound that’s wholly their own. Tempos change with an almost indecent ease and the audience reacts in kind as they turn up the heat in this sold out basement venue. 

Singer Theresa Jarvis isn’t one for standing still as she dances across the stage, possessed by the music. And though George Edwards holds his guitar at a worryingly nipple-warming height, his riffs interlock with the rhythm section of bassist Alex Crosby and drummer Robert Mason. There are some neat flourishes in the form of some sub-bass that adds an extra dimension and a rumble in the stomach.

New song ‘Honey Killer’ is a consolidation of what Yonaka have put into their music and is immediately greeted like an old friend. There’s no encore, just a full stop at the end of statement that announces the arrival of these new kids in town.

Gigwise Fri, 15 Sep 2017 08:39:05 GMT 110685
<![CDATA[ The Killers debut their new line-up at rammed Brixton Academy ]]> Just how much is Brandon Flowers The Man? His lightning bolt keyboard podium has been replaced with a lightbulb festooned Mars gender symbol, and The Killers live is increasingly Brandon’s show. At what, for them, is a tiny club show – and they’ve oversold it to the point where the Academy truly feels like a rammed-to-the-rafters sweatpit – they debut their new half-band Killers band; bassist Mark Stoermer has been sitting out live shows for a few years, now primarily a studio member of the band, and now guitarist Dave Koening has decided to off-road too. By rights, they should call themselves The Ki.

So, with Ronnie Vannucci Jr still his reliable engine, it rests even more on Brandon’s shoulders to carry the Killers live show from here on out, and he tackles the challenge with customary vitality. In a shower of confetti, he’s up on the monitors throwing bodybuilder poses during the disco decadence of ‘The Man’, and pumps the air passionately through ‘Run For Cover’, a track from new album ‘Wonderful Wonderful’ that surges with the Usain pop pace of ‘Hot Fuss’, but now with added New Order basslines. He’s a more attentive ringmaster too: “we’re going to play a brand new song, we’re going to play a song we haven’t played for eleven years,” he tells us, like a variety show host geeing us up for the coming attractions.

The Surrogate Killers, for their parts, do a fine job of sounding like The Actual Killers, and the main set follows their standard stratospheric trajectory. An explosive ‘Somebody Told Me’ gives way to a planet-cracking ‘Spaceman’; ‘The Way It Was’ takes a regretful night drive through FM soft rock country and ‘Smile Like You Mean It’ and growing pain epic ‘Andy You’re A Star’ play on our nostalgic fondness for simpler, Strokesier times. Their Joy Division cover ‘Shadowplay’ remains a rather pointless dip in the set, from which the magnificent ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’ and ‘Human’ provide a Springsteen-worthy recovery. ‘A Dustland Fairytale’ retains the glory and grandiosity of a World Heritage canyon, ‘Read My Mind’ gathers a gospel intensity and the stirring, confetti-blasted crescendo of ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ bursts just as many chests as it did in 2004.

It’s in the encore, as the part-timers had for the door after ‘Mr Brightside’, that the surprises roll out. “Pray silence for the illustrious, praise-worthy Woody Harrelson,” Ronnie declares as Harrelson emerges to read aloud a passage from The Bible as introduction to ‘The Calling’, the new album’s western noir tale - delivered with the sordid guitar hip-swivel of Depeche Mode in their ‘sexy desert Jesus’ phase - of a young man out to heal his sick father with The Lord’s word, and Brandon’s most overt reference to his religion in a Killers song yet. Then they pull ‘Sam’s Town’ offcut ‘Sweet Talk’ from the rarities sack, and polish it to a luminous pop sparkle. As the curtain of fireworks falls on ‘When You Were Young’, the rammed Academy rocks along, reassured. Half a Killers, it turns out, is still one whole heap of Killers.

Gigwise Wed, 13 Sep 2017 09:42:53 GMT 110662
<![CDATA[ Live Review: H Hawkline at Moth Club, London, 11/09/17 ]]> “The next songs we are going to play for you are going to be about relationships gone bad, darkness and euthanasia.” Hardly the sentence that’s likely to fill you with joy on a somewhat thunderous Monday evening at Moth club, yet H. Hawkline (Huw Gwynfryn Evans) with his dead pan Welsh humour, off kilter indie, folk songs and what appears to be his grandmothers dressing gown, (in a shocking revelation later in the night we discover it’s his sisters’) turns the morose into the magnificent.

Opposing duality seems to be the theme, as dark subject matter is told through the lens of danceable melodies and almost pop-centric hooks. It’s a skill that Evans perfected in his most recent album and certainly one he can recreate on stage and perhaps the reason why he is one of the few people in this world who can wear an all white outfit with a gold chain, accessorise with a dainty, floral gown and still make it work.

This duality even seeps into his wit. It took almost the entire set for a smile to grace the lips of Huw Gwynfryn Evans and even when it does, it’s aimed at his band, not the audience. When he first enters the stage and sternly warns the sound engineer to, “at least start off right.” It’s hard not to feel like a teacher has just entered a classroom and much like when a strict teacher tells a joke, no one is really sure if they are allowed to laugh. The stoicism lasts long but the uncertain audience does not and soon his sarcastic, to-the-point humour has the audience laughing hard and often.

At the end of the set, they do away with an encore and Evans invites back the majority of supporting act Younghusband to perform a cover of Welsh folk singer Meic Stevens. Certainly not one to hide from his Welsh heritage, the song is sung in Cymraeg, and although seven musicians on an intimate stage was a logistical nightmare, they certainly managed to achieve bringing Wales to Hackney. Noson wych.

Gigwise Tue, 12 Sep 2017 11:12:45 GMT 110658
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Actress & The LCO at Tate Modern Tanks, London ]]> The interface between electronic and classical music has been responsible for some truly awful travesties, not least of them the currently highly popular but ultimately dumbed down Hacienda Classical project. Luckily, the collaboration between Ninja Tune producer Darren Cunningham aka Actress and the London Contemporary Orchestra approaches the whole affair from a completely different direction, with vastly more adventurous and satisfying results.

The LCO have sensibly shunned the easy – some might say lazy - option of simply replicating the melodies of electronic music using a full orchestra, and instead have opted to immerse themselves deep within the approach and mindset. That’s what makes tonight’s date at part of the ultra respectable Proms series, with a live broadcast on Radio 3 no less, such an unmissable prospect.

The Tate Modern’s new performance space The Tanks – converted former oil tanks in the bowels of the iconic gallery’s new annexe – is the perfect setting for it too, a circle of brutalist, distressed concrete wall enclosing us. There are no seats, and a mix of clubbers in baseball caps and your moiré traditional Proms punters are free to sit, stand or wander between four stages around the room as we’re treated to a programme of pieces from a gospel performance re-imagined by eight singers all in different phasing patterns to a concerto for orchestra and an array of wine glasses all tuned to different notes. This is definitely not your average gig.

The climax of the evening is four selections from the joint Actress and LCO sonic adventure ‘Momentum’, originally premiered at the Barbican last year. Cunningham takes centre stage, manipulating an array of dials and buttons and squeezing strange sonic colours and resonant harmonics from his gear. Behind him, there’s a pianist whose strings have been dampened by heavy books, a percussion player playing a marimba that’s also been treated with the addition of blankets, and in front a small string section, a harpist and a clarinettist who, it transpires, is to add syncopation to the electronic grooves by blowing through his mouthpiece-less instrument. Likewise, once the music takes shape, the cello is slapped, the violins scraped and abused, and so on. In short, Actress has inspired them to get all manner of new noises out of their instruments rather than play them in the conventional sense.

The not-at-all catchily-titled ‘Audio Track 5’, recently released on Ninja as a single, comes into focus, and there’s even a hint of dancing happening in the room, and heads nodding in hypnotised abandon. While you could possibly draw parallels in the mix of organic and synthetic sounds with some of Luke Vibert’s early work or the splintered rhythms of Autechre, there’s not really any doubt that this music pretty much stands alone. It’s ironic really, that despite its establishment context and classical rudiments, this is some of the most fucked up and futuristic sound you’ll hear all year.

Gigwise Thu, 07 Sep 2017 14:05:32 GMT 110628
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart at Ronnie Scott's, London, 03/09/17 ]]> The bass is top of the musical food chain, it moves leisurely but effectively, the synth is like Lucifer, a serpentine instrument, and the drum is jaunty or a senseless elephant stomping its way through the musical jungle, says Jah Wobble, formerly of Public Image Limited.

We’re part way through the second half of the set and a smartly dressed Wobble is in witty form and exposing his psychedelic imagination that’s only exceeded in flamboyance by the explosion of colour his virtuoso musicians playin on top of his basslines.

On trumpet we have a gent who looks fell out of a scene in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrell’s, he plays smoky jazz tones that makes all these sparkling martini glasses being delivered by waiters make us feel whisked away into old Soho.

The lightening quick keys, guitar and drum players are all dressed down more causally, and contrast with the dapper audience, who are all seated chewing mercilessly on their bits of steak and romantic deserts. The working class roots of Wobble and his former bandmate Lydon, would probably shudder at the lavishness and excess that this aristocratic scene, but a more mature Wobble seems to embrace the opportunity and honour of playing at the world’s most prestigious jazz club.

But he’s not here to play by the rules: the man who brought a dub sensibility to punk rock with the PiL album Metal Box is in no mood for jazz by numbers. The promoters knows this: “I normally ask you to be quiet but tonight I’m just going to wish you good luck,” says the promoters introducing a band who with a reputation for vomit-inducing levels of low end.

To be fair though they don’t go all out blaze of noise, they start out at palatable levels. The six-piece open the set with a discordant chaos that unsettles and sees audience taking deep gulps of their strong, beautifully crafted cocktails. They move through ambient samples and dizzying drum fills and the sonics heighten the mood in the dimly-lit room accented by brass rails and red lamps.

It’s not solely instrumental. A singer named Aurora Dawn from Alabama 3 brings in a powerful trip-hop vocal before they exit the stage, and does a phenomenal job. Fela Kuti’s niece then takes to the spotlight to promote a campaign to preserve Fela Kuti’s archive, they’re up-scaling the effort now it’s 20 years since his death with a crowd funding campaign.

The second half is a semi-improvisational piece with more dub bent than earlier. Aurora Dawn and Fela’s niece dance at the side whilst the rest of the crowd threaten to dance, but don’t quite – it is Sunday to be fair. We remain sat on the edge of our seats and appreciate the dynamic show. It's one that proves that Wobble, who’s gone through the stress of legal battles with John Lydon, is powering through and reflecting the richness that a life spent dedicated to hearing new things outside of prescribed radio playlists gives.

It would be great to see the club inviting more bands of Wobble's mindset, too, where jazz is abided by in the loosest possible sense and broader sounds from all over the world are brought in without a note or a single beat being dropped. Top band.

Gigwise Tue, 05 Sep 2017 16:26:40 GMT 110611
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Muse at Reading Festival, 27/08/17 ]]> “Fangeyeeooowreaaaydaaaayng!” In Bellamese, this is the call of the wild. In sci-fi red jacket and occasional neon Kanye shades, beneath a spray of crimson lasers and before shifting walls of 4K psychedelics, Matt Bellamy lets out his rallying bellow, charges up a squeal like a satellite screaming from a touchpad on his guitar and fires off a Hurricane Harvey of riff – the battle droid march of ‘Psycho’ maybe, or the future-metal ambush of ‘Hysteria’ – and Reading blows up right on cue.

They have a mutual understanding, Muse and R&L. It was here, as teenage punters, the band first vowed to conquer the main stages, and it was this crowd that soaked up the cult rarities of their full anniversary run through ‘Origin Of Symmetry’ in 2011. There’s an unspoken bond of appreciation that allows the band to cut back on the stadium fripperies – besides their trademark moon balloons, streamers and gargantuan space riffs, nothing comes floating over the crowd tonight – and indulge the playful showmanship of a band that has grown confident and comfortable with their headliner status.

So they throw away ‘Hysteria’, a bludgeoning ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ and a field-quaking ‘Plug In Baby’ inside the first six tunes, wrapped in riffs knobbled from Zeppelin, and Rage Against The Machine. They lob in a rare outing for ‘Showbiz’ and chekily intro bassist Chris Wolstenholme’s big groove rock moment on ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ with the five notes from Close Encounters. Most significantly, Muse’s astute premonition of the rock barometer swinging hard into the pop spectrum glares through, from the opening glam stamp of ‘Dig Down’ to the Queen aping ‘Madness’ and the show-stopping ‘Mercy’, the sound of Miley Cyrus exploding.

It all makes for a spectacular second-era setlist, relying less on their space metal breakthrough glories and reaching for ever sparklier stars. And there’s more room for surprises too; having closed out the main set with ‘Take A Bow’ promising Reading, not unreasonably, that it will “burn in hell for your sins”, Bellamy reappears to introduce “the best singer Britian has ever produced” as AC/DC’s Brian Johnson emerges to squeal through an almighty cover of ‘Back In Black’. Hell’s bells, these boys know how to steal R&L.

Gigwise Mon, 28 Aug 2017 21:02:25 GMT 110562
<![CDATA[ Live Review: Korn at Brixton Academy, London, 23/08/17 ]]> Thanks to the barmy number of band tees and accessories, Brixton tonight looks more like 2001 when nu-metal craze was at its peak in this country. In the moments leading up to Korn’s only UK show on this stint – apart from Reading and Leeds – the sewn-on band patches become a nostalgic reminder of when high street culture was all about hanging around the streets and being ‘a goth’.

As the Godfathers of nu-metal – their song ‘Blind’ and its accompanying video, arguably kick-started the genre that quickly stagnated – it’s hardly a surprise to feel a palpable sense of expectation and seeing the streets of South London transformed by something other than another annoyingly titled yuppie chicken restaurant. For those who are of the median age of people here, Korn will have had a mighty influence of their life, and opened them up much more music they’ve come to love.

Korn’s music – and other bands of their ilk, i.e. Napalm Death, Slipknot and Machine Head – gave fans a sense of community with other people who dressed and behaved outside of established norms set by society. Their hold on mainstream television in the late 90s and early noughties was a liberating thing for teenagers. It encouraged a time where it was ok to be yourself and it’s an empowering trait to carry. Afterall, Jonathan Davis wearing a gold kilt and Korn’s grizzly dreadlocks don’t exactly reek of an attempt to fit in.

This sense of community is definitely felt upon entering Brixton Academy, the whole venue feels like a temple of worship as – unlike guitarist Head, who claims to have discovered Christianity – the only religion people here are devoted to is heavy metal. Implying this sense of whole-hearted devotion are screams and yelps from the seated area that overhangs the pit floor: they are deafening and reminiscent of evangelists losing their shit - the volume is more piercing and passionate than 99 percent of gigs I’ve ever seen. I turn to my left and see 500 people head banging in unison as they open with their single from their new album, ‘Rotting In Vein’, and the band have a sincerely impressive sound with the bass hitting you firmly in the chest.

And although there’s lots of great imagery with abstract geometric shapes acting like the best Windows Media Player screen saver you’ve ever seen, it’s the band members themselves that you can’t keep your eye off. They saunter through their back-catalogue with fluency and confidence that being at the top of the live music game for years gives you.

The centre of attention, naturally, is the frontman and Jonathan Davis. He does a phenomenal job of endearing his already devout “Crazy sexy English motherfuckers”: “I’m pumped the fuck up. I can barely talk. You all want to get crazy with me, “ he yells.

From there, everyone abidingly gets down with a version of ‘Y’all Want A Single (Fuck That)’ where the entire venue scream in unison the words “Fuck That”.

The most poignant moment of the night comes as they show video recorded footage of the hardcore Korn fans they see on tour in tandem with the love song ‘4U’. It indicates that they’ve been really humbled by all the support they’ve had all the years, and the montage footage shows how important this band are: many sporting tattoos of the band or in near tears of joy.

Ultimately, the performance here keeps them at the forefront of heavy music and as innovators and pioneers - it’s no wonder they’re still around. They’re a group of some of the most sublime live musicians on the planet and no matter your music taste, you’ll be a convert to the church of Korn if you go and see them live.

Gigwise Thu, 24 Aug 2017 13:43:24 GMT 110544
<![CDATA[ Watch Liam Gallagher's epic live performance of 'For What It's Worth' ]]> Following the release of the Oasis-y ‘For What It’s Worth’ earlier this month, Liam Gallagher has put out a live video version of it. Check out the performance below.

Liam - as ever - is focal point of the performance; wearing a black hoodie he commands the stage with his trademark moves. As the camera moves around the beautiful AIR studios, where it's filmed, we see string players, and his core touring band, sounding incredible together. It's an intoxicating, full wall of sound to suit the sombre, apologetic lyrics.

The recording shows how superbly he can translate the massive studio sound on stage – and would suit the Royal Albert Hall or Sydney Opera House. 

It'll also sound epic to 60,000 people at a festival, and thanks to its Oasis-y feel, 'For What It’s Worth' will be one of the tracks most looked forward to by fans. The studio version of it was produced by the prolific Dan Grech-Marguerat (The Vaccines, Keane, Lana Del Rey).

Of the lyrics, Liam said in a press release: “I wanted to write an apology. Not to one person, but to everyone, because I’m no good at saying sorry. That song is a tune.”

Proof that the solo material has the weight to propel Liam Gallagher into a highly successful solo artist in his own right, and make not being in Oasis pretty alright is the reaction to his songs: he has clocked in over 22 million streams so far.

Earlier this year, we heard 'Wall Of Glass’ that was produced in conjuction with the genius hitmaker and LG label mate Miike Snow. Meanwhile, Michael Tighe, who played guitar for Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow) in the band The A.M - and also played guitar in Jeff Buckley's band played on 'Chinatown'. These guys are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the talent that went into creating As You Were. 

The album is near.

Track list for As You Were that's out on 6 October.

1. ‘Wall Of Glass’
2. ‘Bold’
3. ‘Greedy Soul’
4. ‘Paper Crown’
5. ‘For What It’s Worth’
6. ‘When I’m In Need’
7. ‘You Better Run’
8. ‘I Get By’
9. ‘Chinatown’
10. ‘Come Back To Me’
11. ‘Universal Gleam’
12. ‘I've All I Need’

Bonus tracks on deluxe editions of the album:

13. ‘Doesn’t Have To Be That Way’
14. ‘All My People / All Mankind’
15. ‘I Never Wanna Be Like You’

Gigwise Thu, 24 Aug 2017 10:30:00 GMT 110540
<![CDATA[ Muse thrill at Shepherd's Bush with set featuring cuts from first four albums only ]]> Striding onto stage at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy welcomed the crowd to “an evening of deep cuts”, and deep cuts they certainly were. Not a single song after released after 2006 made an appearance this evening with some at long last receiving their live debuts.

This kind of gig doesn’t happen often for any band, let alone a band of Muse’s stature. The set list was voted on by the ticket holders for charity and it’s no surprise to see the majority of the hits fail to make the cut. Opening with ‘Assassin’, the room is immediately whipped into frenzy that lasts the entire show with its hard hitting punch serving only as a cleanser for what was to come. Wasting no time, the Teignmouth trio rip into an impassioned ‘Dead Star’ with every single word screamed back to them followed by Bellamy quipping “This is the second oldest song we’re playing tonight” before launching into early single ‘Muscle Museum’ with its late 90s wail electrifying Shepherd’s Bush.

2006 b-side ‘Easily’ receives its live debut tonight with Bellamy revealing that the band had never played it together before rehearsals for this gig with the guitars and vocals recorded separately from the drums and bass, and it’s immediately followed up by ‘Glorious’ for the first time since 2007, with both sounding absolutely incredible. Bellamy disappears off stage after ‘Citizen Erased’ to give bassist Chris Wolstenholme and drummer Dominic Howard their moment with their now traditional drum and bass jam a welcome breather for the voices in the crowd.

Debut album title track ‘Showbiz’ is welcomed for the first time in 11 years with a roar of appreciation from the crowd, whilst ‘New Born’ makes its first appearance in two years followed by a 10 minute long riff jam including ‘Yes Please’, and snippets of Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Freedom’. Returning to stage for the first encore, Bellamy states he was surprised that the following song made the fans’ top 10 but even with Bellamy messing up the second verse ‘Sing For Absolution’ is an emotional moment for many. Finishing with the traditional ‘Knights of Cydonia’, Muse reaffirm they are one of the best live bands in the world with a gig that will undoubtedly go down as one of their best. Despite the relatively small stage of Shepherd’s Bush Empire’, the band show that those attending their headline sets at Reading and Leeds festivals will get a band still very much at the top of their game.


Dead Star
Muscle Museum
Butterflies & Hurricanes
Citizen Erased
Munich Jam
New Born
Yes Please

Sing for Absolution
Plug In Baby

Encore 2:
Knights of Cydonia

Gigwise Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:54:28 GMT 110511