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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ben Howard - Live review


So its no secret, I am a huge fan of Ben Howard. On Thursday 4th Sept I headed to Hackney Empire to see Ben Howard live, for what would be my fifth time.

With his highly anticipated second album "I forgot where we were" due to be released on the 20th October, a lot of fans (myself included) were eager to hear what new material Ben had in store for us. While it was unknown whether Ben would play many of his popular hits, such as 'Keep your head up" and 'The fear," I was hopeful the new singles  "I forgot where we were" and "End of the affair" would make the set list.

The evening started with support act Nick Mulvey, who singles include "Fever to Form," "April" and "Meet Me There." As someone who is relatively unknown to the wider crowds, Nick did a great job of warming up the crowd.

Next up was the man himself, Ben Howard. Having already seen Ben Howard live 4 times, I can honestly say this was the most different of all the shows. Accompanied by his usual side kick India Bourne, Ben Howard was also supported by a band. With a lot more electronic elements thrown into his songs, it somehow felt less  personal and stripped back than previous performances. Still, I can't knock him, the delivery and vocal talent Ben Howard has remains brilliant, and an absolute pleasure to watch.

The set list was made up entirely of new singles from his upcoming album, apart from the encore which included the popular hits "Everything," "Black Flies" and "The Fear" -  a risk many artists would feel is too great to take. Ben Howard however can relax, if the cheers and shouts were anything to go by at the end of each song, the fans were in favour of the new material. In addition to playing "I forgot where we were" and "End of the affair," other songs included "Conrad," "In dreams," and "The Small Things." For me, The Small Things was a definite highlight - sang with conviction, it reminded me a lot of previous songs which we have all grown to love so much.

After hearing a preview of the new material, it is clear Ben Howard has kept to what he is good at - dark, highly emotional melancholy tracks. Overall, I had a great chilled night and can say without a hint of uncertainty I am stoked for the release of the new album. I will say though, if I am being entirely honest, I have preferred previous performances more. I found the extra band accompaniment  and stage flash lights were just unnecessary distractions - a man with an unbelievable voice that evokes that much emotion is more than enough to keep the crowd captivated.

For previous post and reviews on Ben Howard, check out: Ben Howard live @ Hammersmith Apollo or Ben Howard live in NYC or Ben Howard live in Dublin

Ben has recently announced a tour in december - check out for dates and ticket info: http://www.benhowardmusic.co.uk/  (please note all UK tour dates are now sold out)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Belinda Carlisle - Review


So I understand the demographic for Belinda Carlisle is not really that of the people that typically check out this blog but alas, I went, I saw, and as a result I will review.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Belinda Carlisle let me enlighten you. Belinda is an American singer who achieved great success in the 80's with the all-famale band 'The Go Go's.' In 1985 the Go-Go's ended, and as a result, Belinda forged out a hugely successful career as a solo artist. With hits including 'Heaven Is a Place on Earth,' 'Leave a Light On' and 'I Get Weak,' Belinda Carlisle is still performing and releasing material today.

Back in May, a day after I saw the Augustines, I headed to Indigo at the O2 (with my mum!) to see Belinda Carlisle live. Unsurprisingly the average age of the crowd was in their 50s - however don't think this meant the crowd were by any means quiet. By the end of the set it was safe to say every person (with the exception of the very old) were up on their feet singing and dancing along to Carlisle's most popular hits.

The set list for the evening included: Runaway Horses, (We Want) The Same Thing, Sun, I Get Weak, In Too Deep, California, Circle in the Sand, Valentine, Vision of You, La Luna, Summer Rain, Mad About You, Big Scary Animal, Live Your Life Be Free, Leave a Light On, A Woman and a Man, Our Lips Are Sealed, Heaven Is a Place on Earth, and finally Goodbye Just Go.

What I liked about Belinda Carlisle and her show, was unlike some of the acts today, she left it all very understated. Coming out on stage with just a tambourine and wearing all black, Belinda was able to sing and deliver her hits in a way that enraptured the crowd without being controversial, or inappropriate in any way. Miley Cyrus take note.

Overall, although I will be honest and say there are some more exceptional bands and artists currently touring, I did have a thoroughly enjoyable evening singing along to the hits that I grew up listening to with my family.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Augustines - review


This review is well overdue but here goes:

Back in May of this year I headed to the Institute in Birmingham to see The Augustines live on their European 'Walkabout' tour.

I have been a fan of this band for a very long time and so I was ecstatic to get tickets to see them live. The night began with the support act "Empire Divide," a five piece band from London. Although some of their material seemed pretty good (their music reminded me a lot of Civil Twilight) the sound system unfortunately just didn't seem to work and so at times it was very difficult to hear Niall Keels (lead singer). To hear tracks by this band check out, Velvet Sky.

After Empire Divide it was then time for the main act themselves. By the claps and cheers that broke out as soon as the band appeared on stage, it became clear the crowd were just as stoked as I was to be there - a great reflection of the following the Augustines have managed to build over the years.

For 2 hours, Billy McCarthy (wearing his trademark hat), Eric Sanderson and Rob Allen gave it their all and treated the sold out crowd to an absolutely fantastic night of live music. A band who seemed genuinely thrilled to be performing together, you couldn't help but believe McCarthy when he announced near the beginning of the show "This is it, the end of the walkabout tour...we've got a long night ahead..grab a drink...we're having a celebration."


The set list for the evening included: Headlong into the Abyss, Chapel Song, Cruel City, Augustine, Nothing to lose, Walkabout, Philadelphia, The Avenue, Weary Eyes, East Los Angeles, Now you are free, New Drink for an Old Drunk."

Although it is clear from this post I am a big fan of this band, it is difficult to not single out Billy McCarthy for his truly great stage presence, strong vocals and constant engagement with the crowd. It is with this in mind that the definite highlight for me was when McCarthy sang an acoustic version of The Avenue. No mics, no gizmos or gimmicks, just a man and his raw/emotive voice. The crowd absolutely loved it.

From the sweaty band members, to the whistling crowds, it was certainly a great night of live music. I would definitely urge you to check them out - you wont be left disappointed.

For more information regarding their albums and singles check out my previous post: Augustines


Tour dates: 

29th Sept. Bowery Ballroom - NYC
3rd Oct. Rough Trade NYC - Brooklyn, NY
29th Nov. Riverside - Newcastle
30th Nov. Queen Margaret Union - Glasgow
1st Dec. Cathedral - Manchester
3rd Dec. Wedgewood Rooms - Portsmouth
4th Dec. The Globe - Cardiff
5th Dec. Wulfrun Hall - Wolverhampton
7th Dec. Concorde 2 - Brighton
8th Dec. The Roundhouse - Camden, London

For more info check out: Augustines Website

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Iron & Wine

Beautiful and pure. I am a huge fan of this artist.

Iron & Wine (Samuel Beam) is an American folk singer and songwriter, who to date has released five albums and several EPs.

In 2002 Iron & Wine released his debut album "The Creek Drank the Cradle." What makes me enjoy the music written, performed, recorded and produced by Samuel Beam is the accompaniment of guitars and banjos that features heavily in his music.

Following the success of his debut album, Iron & Wine released four more albums; "Our Endless Numbered Days," "The Shepherd's Dog," "Kiss Each Other Clean," and "Ghost on Ghost."

As well as five albums, Iron & Wine has released a number of great EPs including "The Sea & The Rhythm," "Woman King," and "In the Reins."

If singers such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Tallest Man On Earth are your thing, than this is a man for you! An insanely talented singer, Samuel Beam is able to seduce the audience with his gut wrenching, softly sung, and highly emotive tracks. Check him out - he is certainly worth the effort.

Tour dates: 
June 21st. Smith Opera House - Geneva, NY

For further details check out: http://www.ironandwine.com/tour

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Ellie Goulding Review


Ellie Goulding is an electroacoustic/ pop singer whose distinct, wispy and pretty unusual voice helps differentiate her from other aspiring singers of today. In 2010 Ellie Goulding won the Critics Choice at the Brit Awards which gained her a lot of positive attention, causing her already large fan base to grow. 

In March 2010 Ellie Goulding released "Lights" which went straight to number one in the UK album charts. The album includes many great songs such as Starry Eye, Guns and Horses, and The Writer.

With the success of "Lights"  Ellie Goulding re-released the album in November and renamed it "Bright Lights." The new re-released album includes six new songs and proves to be just as popular as Lights. Ellie Goulding recently revealed she would be releasing a second "more emotional" album sometime in 2013.

I was lucky enough to catch the end of Ellie Goulding's set at Glastonbury Music Festival and was pleasantly surprised how good she was live. Although she seemed pretty overwhelmed by the large crowd and said very little between songs, she still managed to give a great performance.

Since seeing Ellie Goulding live, she has gone on to headline at a number of big venues/festivals and even been chosen to sing for the White House and at Prince William's and Kate Middleton's Wedding.


Tour dates:
2nd March. Odyssey Arena Belfast - Belfast.
5th March. Nottingham Capital FM Arena - Nottingham
8th March. Liverpool Echo 2 - Liverpool
9th March. London the O2 - London
12th March. Theatre at Madison Square Garden - NYC
13th March. Theatre at Madison Square Garden - NYC

For more information about tickets and tour dates (European, Australia, New Zealand and N.American) check out: http://elliegoulding.com/live-dates/

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Augustines


Augustines, made up of Billy McCarthy, Eric Sanderson and Rob Allen, are an American indie rock band from Brooklyn.

With an upcoming tour due to start in the next couple of weeks - it kicks off in Phoenix - and the recent release of their second album "Augustines" this band are certainly making an impression on the current music scene.

Their debut album "Rise Ye Sunken Ships" was a great album, featuring an array of good songs including "Chapel Song," "Strange Days" and "New Drink for the Old Drunk." The first single released from the album was "Book of James." When listening to this album it becomes evident that the boys have been through some pretty dark times, however what is good is their ability to use these painful experiences and convert them into great songs.

Their second album "Augustines" was released on February 3rd and although it is not quite on the same level as their debut it is still very good. Songs from this album worth checking out are "The Avenue," "Weary Eyes" and "Nothing To Lose But Your Head." Despite their great songs I have to admit the main driving force to liking this band is because of lead singer Billy McCarthy. His voice is something else - raspy and raw, he sings in a way that leaves you utterly convinced he means every word. If I was to compare him, in terms of performance style and voice I would straight away say Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem.

This band have received a string of great reviews from their previous tour dates and I would seriously urge you to check them out. If you are keen to see them I would advise buying tickets sooner rather than later as their shows often sell out.



Check out their website for further information on tickets and tour dates (incl. European) http://www.weareaugustines.com/tour/

Twitter: @WeAreAugustines

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Miner


After listening to this band on repeat for the last week I have decided it is time to spread the word.

Although I would love to say I found this band purely on my own, alas this wasn't the case. No, I sadly have to give all the credit to the american TV show 'Hart of Dixie' which featured this band in last weeks episode.

So who are they? Well, Miner are a six piece folk band from Los Angeles who formed together last year (2013). Made up of mostly family members, the line up consists of Justin & Kate Miner (husband & wife), Jeremy Miner (brother), Amanda Koosed (cousin), Justin Krook and Dave Schechtman.

When it comes to their sound, Miner reminds me a great deal of The Lumineers and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetics. Their upbeat, stomp-and-clap, catchy music is the perfect answer to providing that all important feel good factor. With a highly anticipated  debut album 'Into The Mountain' set to release on February 25th, I urge you all to check them out.

Here is the official video for their single 'Hey Love.'


Although they are only currently touring around the West Coast of America, I will be keeping a close eye on further tour dates and locations.

For more information check out their
           Web page: http://www.thisisminer.com/

           Twitter: @thisisminer