Lily Allen At Manchester Apollo (Gig Review)

Review of Lily Allen @ Manchester Apollo

25th November 2014

“I haven’t played Manchester for F’ing Years” quips Allen as she emerges on stage newly blonde but as bolshie as ever. Making her ‘mumback’ after a four year hiatus, the straight talking songbird is back on the road to promote her third studio album, Sheezus.

Busting out the lyrics “I’m born again” this is not so much a reinvention as an evolution, Lily’s caustic brand of social commentary remains delightfully intact. Now littered with tales of motherhood and marriage, it’s safe to say her gritty observations have grown up alongside her audience.

Opening the show with the album’s title track, the sore throat Lily complains of in no way hampers, as she belts out the new material to a receptive crowd. Rejecting the offer of meds she jokes “now there’s a first”, tosses the remedy to one side and gets stuck right in.

Unsurprisingly it’s the classics that receive rapturous response with the auditorium singing back every single word of The Fear, LDN, Smile and Littlest Things.

Time for 22, Lily’s lyrical lambasting of a near 30 year old still going out AND, shock horror, trying to enjoy it. “Now I am that girl and I still want to have fun” she admits with a giggle. Perhaps she’s not the sullen girl we fell in love with, but her tongue-in-cheek humour and cutting honesty live on.

Midway through the show her live band provide a soundtrack to the obligatory costume change, a witty mash up of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, Lily shouts from stage right “I’m just changing”. No Gaga, our girl goes for one modest change swapping a simple sheer midi with serious swish factor to blinged out sequin joggers and a midriff exposing crop.

Surrounded by giant flashing baby bottles, Lily wears her mummy status on her sleeve as she talks of awkward post-baby sex and quite literally sings her husband’s praises in album tracks Close your Eyes and Life for Me.

A touching interlude is provided by the crowd singing Happy Birthday to Lily’s daughter Ethel, who we learn turned three on show day. Then, things get real emosh as our storyteller relents to a stunning rendition of Somewhere Only We Know from THAT John Lewis ad because “it is the time of year after all”.

As we’re reminded by her encore it’s Hard out Here for a bitch, so instead of judging Lily Allen’s musical comeback, enjoy it. Authentic, sarcastic and actually incredibly sweet this London girl is still making us Smile; long may Sheezus reign.

Review by Jen Cox

The London Sessions by Mary J Blige (Review)

Review of The London Sessions by Mary J Blige

So I write this review, tinged with some genuine sadness (or perhaps disappointment is a more apt word).  For years I have been a huge fan of Mary J Blige.  Her voice has been a beacon for others to aspire to in the hip hop soul category, or whatever label you want to associate with it.  Strong vocal ability, paired with great production meant Mary J popped out classic after classic and staying true to who she is.

Mary J Blige The London Sessions

Review of The London Sessions by Mary J Blige

Yes some albums were stronger than others.  Some tracks used different techniques but throughout it all, there was a Mary J style, that made her more than a serial warbler knocking out love ballads a la Leona Lewis and Mariah Carey.  All this, whilst battling drug and drink addictions is huge credit to her, her ability and her determination.  The fact that she is in her second year being sober is also to be commended.

I still look back to the gig I saw her perform some five years ago now at the O2 in London.  She banged out every big tune and mixed with some newer material, but throughout she put on a show.  Her energy was electrifying and her connection with the audience was unquestionable.  So the more inquisitive of you may be asking why did I open in the way I did?

Well, its simple.  The London Sessions as an idea is quite good.  Match up one of the most successful female singers of all time, who needs to create currency, with some of the most talked about and hyped British acts of the moment and surely its a winning formula.

For me, no not quite.  The album is a collection of twelve tracks (value for money right there).  None of the songs are a disaster.  You can’t point your finger at Mary J Blige for being off point either.  The issues I have with it are twofold. 

Firstly, this doesn’t feel like an album.  It feels like a bit of a PR stunt or an experiment and thrown together.  With this in mind, it fits OK with the playlist generation, but kind of defeats the point of an album.  Secondly, its just not very Mary J Blige.  Again, nothing wrong with the the tracks, all well produced and written (in the main by Rodney Jerkins and Mary J herself), but also at the level a lot of contemporary artists could reach.  There is nothing special about it as a body of work.

There, now thats off my chest, what about the highlights?  The opening track Therapy, shows Mary J Blige demonstrate her gospel edge.  Strong vocals, good production and lyrics and delivery that almost pay homage to Amy Winehouse’s Rehab.  For me, this is possibly the highlight of the album.  Right Now is a good track too, largely underwritten by the morphed synths underpinning the track.

Its great to see the likes of Disclosure and Sam Smith get run outs and both contribute positive aspects to the album.   However, the mixes of styles and influences confuses my mind as a listener of the album.  Perhaps the most glaring track to stand out (for the wrong reasons) is Long Hard Look.  This feels like something you could have heard Girls Aloud knock out when vying to fight off the Spice Girls hangover.

The London Sessions, does provide an interesting showcase for UK talent.  However the way we are dominating the music scene at the moment, I would question who is this meant to benefit more? Mary J Blige or the likes of Naughty Boy and Emeli Sande?  My guess is the former.

Just to reiterate, in the main, the majority of tracks work on their own, even if none really set the world on fire.  It just doesn’t feel like an album for me.  To be completely cynical, it smacks a little bit of desperation by riding on the coat tails of British music success at present.

Maybe this view is skewed by the fact that Mary J Blige keeps sending me annoying DMs on Twitter talking about self-promotion.  Once the record label get hold of your Twitter, you know you are losing your connection and realism.

Genuinely sorry Mary J.  We do still love you.  This just isn’t your best piece of work.

Torn Apart by Bastille (Review)

Review of Torn Apart by Bastille

It doesn’t seem two years ago since we first reviewed ‘Flaws’ from Bastille and predicted that they would go on to greater things.   The creativity of Dan Smith is immense and the latest track released on 30th November is no different.

The big challenge for Bastille was that when ‘Pompeii’ sent them soaring into the stratosphere the stratosphere they were a record companies dream with a huge back catalogue of great material (‘Flaws’, ‘Bad Blood’ , ‘Things we Lost In The Fire’, ‘Laura Palmer’ etc).  The challenge was always whether they could continue to release great material once these had all been released.  The answer is a definitive “yes” and ‘Torn Apart’ is a great commercial song.

Torn Apart’ is a love song supported by the creative mind of Smith. It starts with beautiful people that keep morphing and the more they do so the more freakish the output. However, the message of love remains the same.  You need to listen to it several times as the video can be very distracting!  A great new release.

Clip from video of Torn Apart by Bastille

Clip from video of Torn Apart by Bastille

Bastille debuted the track on BBC Radio 1 on October 21.  Featuring Grades and Lizzo, the song will be available for download on iTunes from November 30.

Review by Doug Duffin

More from Bastille on Music Eyz

My City in Music – Dublin

My City in Music – Dublin

The vibe in Dublin city at the moment is this

Dublin Header

Dublin Header

 

No, not the naked women, I mean the tune Heavy on My Mind by The Hot Sprockets being the vibe. Speaking of this tune and that guitar at the 2:40 mark for a minute, PHWOAR! For me, this one and the band’s sound sums up the vibe of Dublin city at the moment alright.

The Dubs along with the rest of the country have suffered a mother of a recessional hangover for 6/7 years following the all-nighter of a Celtic Tiger party that went on for years before. While the country is now officially out of recession it will be quite some time before our bank accounts for the majority of us will reflect that fact. Money didn’t suit us apparently. Like teenagers given too much freedom too late in the day we didn’t know how to handle it during the Tiger and ended up becoming knobs with too much cash. I went to see Tommy Tiernan’s Crooked Man during the downturn to cheer myself up and here’s a clip of When Irish People Had Money from that show which still cracks me up to this day about skiing in ALDI skiing gear http://youtu.be/EUo93Hw7LSw

We had our annual government budget announcement recently and I was delighted to find out that I am being awarded another five euro a month in my mickey money (our slang for children’s allowance). Five euro! I can literally wipe my backside with that as apart from bog roll there is not much else I can purchase with five euro in this country but hey, “feck it, sure it’ll be grand” because recover from this blasted recession we will. Why so? Well, the banter never stopped flowing in the city and the slagging never died and those two things always make for great craic even if you can only afford to go out on the sniff of a pint of Guinness.

While I am smashed now and weary from riding the shit storm we were plummeted into by our bankers and government, I was fortunate enough not to have blown whatever few bob I had gathered during the Tiger. The fact I hadn’t blown it (as I was about to) was down to sheer luck and not through some shrewd financial sense. Therefore, I had enough to see me through and to get me out and about in Dublin more than a handful of times during the tough times.

Thankfully two departments kept the city going, the young foreign professionals and this city’s love for great music and much wow gigs. Hats off to the foreigners it has to be said. They kept the bars full, the tills opening and closing and the craic going and only for them we would have been faced with closed premises, boarded up shop fronts and empty, soulless streets.

Listening to The Hot Sprockets’ new album Brother Nature is gold and like listening to one of the finest blues rock and rock ‘n roll sound out there at the moment. They’ve got so much talent in their little fingers I bought their nine euro album and will supplement my spend with my mickey money increase when it becomes available to me. See? There’s always a way.

The Hot Sprockets play Dublin’s Vicar Street 21st December which I reckon will be a rip roaring of a gig from the reviews I have read of the band so far and the sound of their album. It’s gigs like theirs that bring moral up, the cranky mood out and wallops the backside off it before sending it right across the room and smack bang into the path of the throbbing amps before exploding to nothingness.

I feel where the Hot Sprockets are at the end of the recession is where the The Coronas were at the beginning of it. I first went to see The Coronas play in the marquee at Marlay Park. We had been bombarded for a while with news of job losses, a collapsing financial market, a property crisis and a glum future. Whilst the women I had come to the gig with were fighting with security on the length of the queues into the womens’ toilets after being caught trying to hop a fence (one even feigned she had a urinary catheter that needed draining, I kid you not!) I was busy taking in the crowds that thronged the park that day. It was buzzing and hopping with excitement and laughter. The relief from the pressures of what was possibly waiting for us all when we got back to work Monday morning was gone. That was down to music and when The Coronas came on stage they were electric and their performance is still to this day one of the best live performances I have ever witnessed. Their energy and optimism was a welcome relief and I went to see them twice more following that day in Marlay Park.

Now at the other end of the recession, The Hot Sprockets I believe will have the same expression and connection with their audience on December 21st and will set a great big ball of fire alight in that room, burning the cobwebs off any ear drums that need it particularly when they belt out Soul Brother, Show Me the Weight and Boogie Woogie. Actually, they’ll tear through the roof of Vicar Street no doubt.

I started writing up this article a while ago but got side tracked with work and upon resuming it today I laughed when I read an interview Ed Power for the Sunday Times did with The Coronas. They have a new album The Long Way due for release 21st Nov (IRL) and 24th Nov (UK) and here is their fabulous new single Just Like That: http://youtu.be/ZSRVDMO0Bmg

In the Irish Times interview you can see that honest spirit of Dublin, the craic, the ‘shlagging’ and most importantly the not taking ourselves too seriously charm. Here’s a quote from Mr. Power’s piece:

Early on, certainly, nothing came easy. “I [Danny O’Reilly] remember one show we did at Whelan’s, where three girls showed up. Ireland were playing France in a football match and everyone was watching that. Halfway through, I gestured to the rest of the guys – they went off and caught the end of the game and I finished the performance solo. Every so often one would poke their head out and say ‘It’s still nil-all.’”

Dublin My City in Music

Dublin My City in Music

Rock ‘n roll has always been very much appreciated by this city throughout the years and other Dublin bands currently doing great stuff are The Minutes (rock ‘n roll), The Riptide Movement (rock), Darling (pop/rock), Otherkin (alternative rock), The Raglans (indie rock/pop) and Swords (indie rock).

However, the band that is standing out for me at the moment is Red Empire (indie rock). The quality of what they have put out there so far is incredible from their musical composition and play, to their lyrics, from the outstanding quality of their visuals, to their overall production. They, are a band to watch out for in the future. Reading online I see that they have completed their EP ‘Deliver Me’ which is due for release February 2015. They have also recently finished their debut album and to see what the fuss is about take a look at their two single releases this year “Small Mercieshttp://youtu.be/gUYsnUgoBGU and “The Truth Of Youhttp://youtu.be/uSEe2z9b-m4 The latter for me has a Pure Morning by Placebo sound to it which I love.

So that’s just some of the rock styles hitting our streets at the moment. We have always kept an ear open to music coming from the States and the UK and have obviously been influenced by it. Rock features big time here and always has done. We do have pockets of Dublin though that love their R&B, Hip Hop, Punk, Electronic and Classical to name but a few and the city is buzzing with a love for an eclectic mix of all musical genres. Our plethora of pubs, wine and cocktail bars are full of music and it is true that if you trip up coming out of a pub in Dublin you would bang your nose off the front step of the next one.

Busking on Dublin’s streets has been a long standing tradition and has kick started some fine careers for artists in the past (like Glen Hansard from The Frames) and present (like the Riptide Movement) and I’m sure will do the same for someone in the future also. If you are in the UK and fancy popping over for a stint of busking on Grafton Street sometime give Music Eyz a shout and I will be happy to look into it for you. I will even go so far as to throw the first euro into your cap to kick start your millions.

To go out in Dublin is great fun. Fashion is a ‘take it or leave it’ sort of thing. We’re more into the chat and the tunes and you can either be fashionable about it or not. We don’t care what you spend your money on. It’s not about who you are it is more about what you are saying that grabs our attention and keeps hold of it.

I’m going to finish up this article with a piece on a barber shop in Dublin that in my mind is the very essence of how we feel about music in this city and how we encourage it even if we do slag out of endearment, homegrown musical talent. Abner Browns is to me personification of the heart and soul of Dublin’s love for music. It is a smile on your face, twinkle in your eye sort of a place that offers a stage for new artists to showcase their stuff to music lovers. The concept of Abner Browns to me is one of great admiration for the musical talent that lies at the very core of Dublin’s heart.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6JQcbFfKuqm-U5tP9po5gw

By Nicola Timmons

My City in Music

My City in Music

In this series of features we cover the globe and explore what makes those cities.  Not a historical tour asking about landmarks, celebrities or economies, purely what the vibe is in the various cities.  What is the music that makes the city special.  Looking back to yesteryear with the likes of Manchester big indie sound from the likes of Oasis.  Exploring the sounds of Mersey Beat with everything including The Beatles and maybe a hint of Cilla Black (or maybe not).  The influence on Bristol bass with the likes of Massive Attack and obviously the home of hip hop New York City with heavyweights such as Wu-Tang and Public Enemy.

My City in Music

My City in Music

Not only do we look back, we look at the here and now.  What’s hot? What’s on the rise? What makes the contemporary sound of the various places across the globe.

We hope you enjoy the series.  Of course, if you know a city inside out and would like to share the good, the bad and the ugly from your city let us know.  You could feature your home on Music Eyz too.

Clean Bandit 2015 UK Tour

Clean Bandit 2015 UK Tour

2014 breakthrough stars, Clean Bandit, are delighted to announce details of their March 2015 headline tour. The dates kick off in Belfast on 5 March, taking in Dublin, Cambridge, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester, before finishing up at London’s Alexandra Palace on 13 March. Tickets are available for pre-sale on Wednesday 19 November and 9am general sale Friday 21 November from gigst.rs/cb

Clean Bandit 2015 UK Tour

Clean Bandit 2015 UK Tour

Having recently finished their sold-out UK headline tour, which included a date at London’s prestigious Brixton Academy, the upcoming shows will be the band’s biggest to date. Grace Chatto (cellist) commented –

Touring around the UK is probably our favourite thing to do. This time we are ending in Alexandra Palace in London, where half of the band spent much of our young years: that’s where we’re from. It’s going to be a very special moment for us.”

Clean Bandit and soul sensation Jess Glynne, whom the band collaborated with on their January 2014 global smash ‘Rather Be’, will release their new single ‘Real Love’ on November 17 through Atlantic Records. With an early add at Capital FM at a staggering seven weeks out from release and with further playlist additions at Radio 1 (A List), 1Xtra, Capital Xtra and Kiss, the upbeat dance record is set to end 2014 with a bang and bookend the year with another huge hit from the powerhouse collaboration! The official video has already amounted over 2.1 million hits and the track has spent three consecutive weeks at #1 on Shazam’s ‘Future Hits’ chart! Following the single release, Clean Bandit will release a very special edition of their UK #3 album,New Eyes, on November 24 featuring the additional tracks: ‘Real Love’, ‘Stronger’, ‘Show Me Love’, ‘Up Again (Drum & Baseline Smith remix) and the band’s BBC Radio 1 Philharmonic Orchestra audio.

Clean Bandit have proved to be huge success worldwide this year. Their global hit single ‘Rather Be’, which has since become the biggest-selling single by a UK act in 2014 and is currently soundtracking the new Marks & Spencer food advert (the first ever album to be sold in Marks & Spencers stores), hit #1 on the iTunes single chart in over 25 countries upon release in January, #1 in the airplay charts in 15 countries and has now sold over 5 million copies worldwide: 1.6 million in the UK alone. In the UK, the track is the most played British record at radio this year, the second highest-played official video on TV and also held the #1 spot in the UK for four consecutive weeks upon release. In the US, the track is constantly building, peaking at#4 on iTunes, #6 on Top 40 radio, #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has sold over 1.5 million copies to date. Furthermore, ‘Rather Be’ spent a staggering eight weeks at #1 on the global Spotify chart, seven weeks at #1 on Shazam in the US, and has since become the most Shazammed track in history of the service with over 15 million tags!

Over recent months the band have been touring both sides of the Atlantic on sold-out headline tours – playing to over 36,000 fans in the UK alone – and performed alongside the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra to a live audience at Manchester’s Media City in September after they were personally invited by Radio 1 as very special guests. The band played on practically every major US TV this autumn including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Talk, NBC Today and more. On Saturday 6 December the band will perform at the Capital Jingle Bell Ball with another performance on follow on Thursday 11 December at the BBC Music Awards.

The band released their UK top 3 album New Eyes in June and has previously released the following singles through Atlantic Records: ‘Mozart’s House’, ‘Dust Clears’, ‘Rather Be’, ‘Extraordinary’ and ‘Come Over’.

Clean Bandit are: Jack Patterson (bass/sax/deck), Luke Patterson (drums), Grace Chatto (cello/key/synth) and Neil Amin-Smith (violin).

March 2015 tour dates:

5th Mar                Mandela Hall, Belfast

6th Mar                Academy, Dublin

8th Mar                Corn Exchange, Cambridge

9th Mar                O2 Academy, Birmingham

10th Mar              O2 Academy, Glasgow

11th Mar              O2 Apollo, Manchester

13th Mar              Alexandra Palace, London

Pre sale:

Pre-sale: Weds 19 Nov

General sale: Fri 21 Nov

Bipolar Sunshine Announce 2015 UK Tour

Bipolar Sunshine Announces UK Tour

Bipolar Sunshine will kick off 2015 with the release of a new single ‘Daydreamer’ released on 25th January followed by a UK headline tour in March and April.

Bipolar Sunshine is the Manchester raised alternative pop sound of Adio Marchant. With a sound that is unique and genre crossing, Bipolar Sunshine has a new age ambient soundscape with melancholy soulful lyrics, which draw inspiration from life’s wonders and imperfections and conjure up the romance of escapism.

Bipolar Sunshine UK Tour 2015

Bipolar Sunshine UK Tour 2015

He has built an avid following through the release of two EPs and a collection of singles, most recently with ‘Deckchairs on the Moon’ and ‘Future (Part 1)’ ft. Goldlink, and with live shows, including support dates with the likes of A$AP Mob, London Grammar, Rudimental and Bastille, along with his own packed out headline shows and festival appearances.

New single ‘Daydreamer’ incorporates everything Bipolar Sunshine has become so known and so loved for. An atypical pop track, which blends both the despondent and the upbeat with intelligent and unique lyrics and a vast, all-encompassing chorus. A collaboration with SBTRKT, the track was produced by Fraser T Smith (Adele, Lily Allen, Sam Smith).

Currently finishing work on his debut album, set to be released next summer, Bipolar Sunshine is heading out on his biggest UK headline tour to date in March and April next year. The headline tour will kick off on 26thMarch in Dublin and will include a show at London’s Heaven before a final night hometown show on 17th April at Manchester’s The Ritz. Full live dates are as follows:

March:

Thu 26th           Dublin                         Whelans

Fri 27th             Belfast                        Limelight

Sat 28th           Edinburgh                  Electric Circus

Sun 29th          Glasgow                    Oran Mor

Tues 31st         Newcastle                 Think Tank at Riverside

April:

Wed 1st           Leeds                         Belgrave Music Hall

Thu 2nd            Liverpool                   Kazimier

Fri 3rd               Nottingham               Rescue Rooms

Tues 7th           Leicester                    The Scholar

Wed 8th          Birmingham               The Library at The Institute

Thu 9th             Oxford                        O2 Academy 2

Fri 10th             Cambridge               The Junction

Sun 12th          Bristol                          Thekla

Mon 13th        Brighton                     The Haunt

Tues 14th         Portsmouth                Wedgewood Rooms

Thur 16th         London                      Heaven

Fri 17th             Manchester              The Ritz

Deckchairs On The Moon: http://bipo.la/HVFrRM

Where Did The Love Go: http://bipo.la/fzB4gZ

Drowning Butterflies EP: http://bipo.la/FwNRqi

Aesthetics EP: http://bipo.la/FHGABa

Connect with Bipolar Sunshine:
Facebook: bipo.la/Facebook / Twitter: bipo.la/Twitter
Soundcloud: bipo.la/Soundcloud / YouTube: bipo.la/YouTubeSub
Blog: bipo.la/Tumblr / Website: bipo.la/Website

I’ll Find You by Black Coffee ft Cara (Review)

Review of I’ll Find You by Black Coffee ft. Cara

Be prepared to really feel the bass on this new release from one of South Africa’s most celebrated figureheads in house music.

Black Coffee and featured vocalist, Cara Frew, take to the streets of Paris for the video for his latest single “I’ll Find You” (released through Soulistic Music). “I’ll Find You” is a percussively heavy track fuelled by a moody bassline, perfect for the dance floor in these dark winter nights.

Review of Black Coffee ft Cara new track I'll Find You

Review of Black Coffee ft Cara new track I’ll Find You

Black Coffee never fails to impress and South African singer Cara Frew layers an ethereal, soulful vocal hook over Black Coffee‘s production adding an alluring undertone to the recent single. The video shows Frew slinking through the back streets of Paris at night looking for the elusive love that she has lost (Black Coffee). A cool video that might just blow your subwoofer if played too loud…

Hailing from Johannesburg, Black Coffee (Nkosinathi Maphumulo), where the electronic music scene remains the throbbing heart of the city, Black Coffee has released who’s released four multi-platinum selling albums over the last 10 years who maintains near-rockstar status in South Africa.

A Night with Black Coffee National Tour‘ is the first ever-official Black Coffee national tour that will be supported by some of the country’s most high-profile and critically acclaimed artists including the legendary Thandiswa Mazwai, Soulstar, Alexander James, Tumelo, Cara and Mondli. Black Coffee‘s tour comes to London’s infamous Fabric nightclub next Friday 21st November where he will be DJing alongside a live performance from Wbeeza, Eglo boss, Alexander Nut and NTS regular, Moxie.

I’ll Find You” is the first single from Black Coffee‘s much anticipated sixth studio album which is due early next year.

Review by Doug Duffin

Alestorm Live at Electric Ballroom (Gig Review)

Alestorm live @ Electric Ballroom: 8/10

I discovered Alestorm waaaaay back when they were supporting Dragonforce at Shepherd’s Bush a couple of years ago. In a rather controversial review I wrote for this very website I pretty well laboured the point that Alestorm were one of the best supports I have ever seen although in hindsight I might have given them a bonus point or two just because the headline act was comparatively utter shit.

Review of Alestorm gig at Electric Ballroom, London 2014

Review of Alestorm gig at Electric Ballroom, London 2014

For those of you wondering what I’m even talking about, Alestorm comprises a quintet from Scotland that play what has been dubbed by their fans as ‘True Scottish Pirate Metal’ but the cynic in me would be more content to call them a power metal band whose lyrical topics are based exclusively on the theme of pirates. I’ll give them credit though, after some brief research I found out they’ve diligently stuck to this theme for four albums. I made the point to my expert (i.e. the only person I know who is a genuine fan) that surely such a narrow scope will cause them to write themselves into a corner pretty damn quickly but they pre-empted me with a track on their third album called Scraping the Barrel which literally contains the following lyrics:-

“Many have told us we can’t go on, that one day we’ll run out of lyrics for songs. But when the time comes to write album four, we’ll scrape out the barrel once more”

So say what you want about these guys, they’re definitely self aware!

Anyways yes, I should probably review the gig at some point in this gig review. As far as London club venues go the Electric Ballroom is one of my favourites in terms of sound, every show I’ve been to the headliner has been pretty damn tight and these guys were no exception. The band ripped through an extensive set of 18 songs in just 90 minutes with very impressive clarity. Half a dozen of the songs were taken from their latest album Sunset of the Golden Age. Absolute highlight for me had to be their latest single ‘Drink’ which has one of the most infectiously catchy choruses I’ve ever heard and it got the biggest cheer of the evening… shame the zenith of the show was only 3 songs into the set but nevermind. Other stand out numbers included Shipwrecked, Nancy the Tavern Wench, Keelhauled and the 8 minute epic 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)… then there were some less impressive points including the utterly moronic Wooden Leg.

Christopher Bowes (vocals/keytar) very much stole the show with his banter between songs being very much as big a part of the performance as the music. Remaining in pirate persona for the duration all the while sporting a kilt and a captain’s hat… and the keyboard player made some mention about everyone going out to fuck a literal dog after the show for no apparent reason. Maybe best to leave the witticisms to your frontman.

There were a couple of low points including the bass player and guitarist engaging in a completely arbitrary staring competition mid-set and towards the shows end Chris stopped a song until one of his fellow musicians drank from a beer bong. They’re a humorous band that don’t take themselves particularly seriously but these attempts at generating laughs just stopped the show dead. However those are just minor nitpicks in an otherwise solid set.

The bands back catalogue is by no means diverse so anybody not familiar with the material might find the music a bit monotonous. But at the end of the day you go to an Alestorm gig to listen to Alestorm, they play their stuff live bloody well and it was for the most part a very entertaining show.

Setlist:

Walk the Plank

The Sunk’n Norwegian

Drink

Over the Seas

Shipwrecked

Magnetic North

Back Through Time

Nancy the Tavern Wench

Midget Saw

Keelhauled

Rumpelkombo

Pirate Song

Wood Leg

Wenches & Mead

1741 (The Battle of Cartagena)

Hangover

Captain Morgan’s Revenge

Rum

Review by Al Westlake

Marc Almond Announces 2015 Tour

Marc Almond Announces 2015 Tour

Iconic singer and performer Marc Almond has announced a full UK tour in April 2015 to follow the release of his much awaited new record – entitled ‘The Velvet Trail’ – on 2nd March.

Marc Almond 2015 Tour

Marc Almond 2015 Tour

Almond, who released a 4 track EP in 2014 with collaborations including Jarvis Cocker (Pulp) and Carl Barat (The Libertines, Dirty Pretty Things), will perform a mix of old and new material. The tour will end on May 1st at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, where Marc already hosted sold out shows for his 50th and 55th birthday.

The eclectic artist, last year’s recipient of the Ivor Novello Inspiration Award, is currently touring with Jools Holland, following the 2013’s triumph of his award winning ’Ten Plagues’ song cycle performances and subsequent album release.

Dates as follows:

 

APRIL

Thu 16th               NEW BRIGHTON        Floral Pavilion Theatre

Fri 17th                 BIRMINGHAM             Town Hall

Sat 18th                IPSWICH                      Regent

Mon 20th              CAMBRIDGE               Corn Exchange

Tue 21st               BRIGHTON                  Dome

Thu 23rd               BRISTOL                      Colston Hall

Fri 24th                 LEEDS                          Town Hall

Sat 25th                MANCHESTER            Bridgewater Hall

Mon 27th              EDINBURGH               Queens Hall

Tue 28th               GATESHEAD               Sage

Thu 30th               BASINGSTOKE           Anvil

MAY

Fri 01st                 LONDON                      O2 Shepherds Bush Empire