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In the Roundhouse over the Sea: Neutral Milk Hotel, 21/05/14

22 May

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Warning: this is pretty long. And while it’s technically sort of about the Neutral Milk Hotel concert at the Roundhouse last night, it’s also sort of not really about that and about the band as a whole. So if you’re looking for a proper gig review, that’s probably not what this is.

Now you know, let’s continue.

Last night, I went to see Neutral Milk Hotel at the Roundhouse and let me tell you, it was an experience. So much so, that it’s difficult to find the words to describe it. I know, I know – that’s one of the worst things that a journalist can say, particularly as, you know, it’s our entire job to find words to describe things. So with that in mind, I’m going to do the best I can. But if not… I’m sure you’ve all had concerts like this before. You’ll know what I mean.

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LIVE REVIEW: Muse (27.10.2012)

31 Oct

There’s the perpetual question of whether an elaborate stageshow is something that enhances a band’s performance, or whether it’s just a crutch. When it comes to Muse, there’s no question, however – it works. They own the stage, and the lasers, LED screens and weird-pyramid-thing somehow manage to never detract from the trio onstage.

Read the rest here.

LIVE REVIEW: Green Day (23.08.12)

30 Aug

At Shepherd’s Bush O2, the atmosphere is electric. Drummer Tre Cool takes the stage, grabs the microphone and announces that Billie Joe has laryngitis before launching into a rendition of ‘All By Myself’ to rapturous laughter and applause. Luckily, Billie Joe bounces onto the stage and ‘Welcome to Paradise’ kicks in. Green Day are here and they’re not taking any prisoners.

Read the rest here.

LIVE REVIEW: Of Monsters and Men (12.07.12)

13 Jul

Crouching on the benches at the back of the Scala and twisting into an awkward position in order to balance isn’t necessarily the best way to see Of Monsters and Men, but the venue is so packed that people resort to anything they can to catch a glimpse of the Icelandic band. 

Read the rest here.

LIVE REVIEW: Nat Johnson and the Figureheads (15.02.12)

21 Feb

Formerly of folk-pop band Monkey Swallows The Universe, Nat’s been called as integral to the Sheffield scene as Jarvis Cocker – and tonight there’s no doubt she’s where she belongs, on stage in the Memorial Hall, at Sheffield City Hall.

After a brief song on the balcony above the audience and an introductory video, depicting the making of latest album I’m Across, I’m Ashore, Nat and band launch into the catchy Astronomy.

My problem with some of the newer material is it doesn’t feel as raw as Roman Radio, the début album. That’s not to call Roman Radio unpolished, but I’m Across, I’m Ashore – and the offerings from the What The Heart Pours Into EP – lack the edge and definition of previous songs. While it stays nicely in the twee, folk-rock genre that Nat and her band do so well, it never quite manages to push past that.

Introducing Sheffield Shanty as “the first of two songs about Sheffield”, however, the performance starts to pick up. The lively shanty showcases all the best bits of Nat’s musical skills, and the new line-up of the Figureheads are backing her at every opportunity.

The night only improves from there, with one song after another keeping the audience’s interest as Nat’s haunting voice provides the perfect complement to charming, clever songs.

The encore ends with the catchy Your Majesty, which sees Nat wearing a jaunty crown on her head.

Originally published here.

LIVE REVIEW: The Saturdays (15.12.11)

6 Feb

Twenty one songs, six different costume changes and five members of The Saturdays all added up to an entertaining show.

Descending onto the stage in a giant cage, The Saturdays lost no time in launching straight into ‘Notorious’, quickly followed by ‘Work’. While member Una Healy is currently pregnant, it was barely noticeable –aside from the slightly longer hemlines on her dresses – and the enthusiasm and energy levels were still every bit as high.

First ever single ‘This Is Love’ was made over in Saturdays style with a more current twist – mashed up with Maroon 5’s ‘Moves Like Jagger’ – and succeeded in getting more people up on their feet dancing. ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ and ‘Missing You’ continued with the same high levels of enthusiasm, and  at last the ballads seemed to hold the audience’s interest instead of lowering the mood.

While a few of the more low-key numbers lost some effect in the arena setting, it was a relief to have a small break from the flashy dancing and colourful outfits. At times, The Saturdays themselves seemed to be vying for attention with various other fanfares, and it was difficult to know exactly where to look.

The obligatory Christmas song was trotted out – a slightly more soulful than expected cover of ‘Winter Wonderland’, complete with slightly over the top glittery Santa capes and hats. A little much, perhaps, but all in good fun.

Overall, the Saturdays presented a thoroughly solid pop concert. Nothing new, but certainly something exciting.

LIVE REVIEW: Death in Vegas (7.12.11)

6 Feb

After a seven-year absence Richard Fearless is back on the road with his genre-crossing electronic rock band.

The barely-there stage banter – apart from mumbled introductions at the beginning, there’s really very little else – does nothing to detract from the connection between the audience and DIV. Aside from a slightly nervous start, soon forgotten as the band quickly regain their confidence, it’s difficult to tell DIV ever stopped touring.

The songs débuted from the recently released Trans-Love Energies album receive just as enthusiastic a response as the better known Leather and Girls. Your Loft My Acid in particular soars around the room, creating an other-worldly atmosphere and causes most of the crowd to remain spellbound as Fearless and friends seize their advantage, launching into Silver Time Machine.

The crazy light show is a little too much at times but for the main part provides a dramatic backdrop, silhouetting the band against flashing lights before plunging them almost into darkness. Fearless has always had a potent sense of aesthetic and, with his usual short films nowhere to be seen, the focus remains very strongly on the music.

As always, the songs showcase a wide variety of influences and a constantly changing sound. Ranging effortlessly from live rock to minimal techno, a thread of cohesion is never lost and every song leads into the next. Ultimately, the night has been a triumph.

Originally published here.