All hail Queen Christine

Héloïse Letissier’s story has almost become part of modern pop mythology now, the tale of a young anxious, broken-hearted outsider travelling to London and being taken in by three drag queens in Soho, who inspired our heroine to embrace her contradictions and thus give birth to Christine and the Queens.

It’s a story that only adds to the full effect of Christine and the Queens as one of the most exciting artists around today. This magical concoction of a fabulous origin story, a purposefully confusing name (inviting the question – who are the queens?) and of course, true musical talent and song-writing capabilities, is utterly unique and captivating. Where Héloïse ends and Christine begins is perhaps unclear but in the end it does not matter. On the one hand, the ambiguity only reiterates the provocation and challenge of societal norms seen in her work, particularly with regard to gender, beauty and being your true self. On the other, she has recently admitted that Christine is really her true self, albeit a freer and less filtered version and I suspect many of us wish we had a Christine.

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Christine and the Queens, photographed by Dustin Condren in New York City for Loud and Quiet magazine, 2016.

Obviously the average listener will probably not go into quite as much analysis or deep thought as I have done into this relationship. Yet this is precisely what makes Christine and the Queens so great, the fact that she works on all levels. She is accessible, firstly because her music is catchy and makes you want to dance. Her music videos and talk show performances also serve as future classics – full of Janet Jackson style choreography and simple but effective lighting and outfits. She is radio friendly and cool. But when you look more closely, you will see that there is so much more under the surface. And this is where it gets really interesting.

Having first watched Christine and the Queens perform on Jools Holland, I then eagerly sought out her other performances and knew I had to see her live and experience it for myself. Here was a woman often singing in lyrics I didn’t understand, in cool androgynous suits, dancing in a slick style that didn’t need stripper moves or a lack of clothing to grab your attention. It was totally refreshing. When you take all this into account – her dance moves, clothing and bilingual lyrics, you realise that everything about her has a deeper level. You don’t need to know this to appreciate her music, but it certainly does add an extra something.

Christine and the Queens’ debut album Chaleur Humaine was released in June 2014 in France and the adapted English version arrived on our shores in February this year. It is without a doubt my favourite album of the year (maybe even the decade so far), a perfectly crafted record showcasing the huge potentials of pop music. It works on various degrees, most simply as a selection of hugely catchy songs infused with a variety of musical influences, but also more deeply as a provocative and emotive commentary on gender and sexual politics.

But when performed live, it’s a whole other ball game. In the 2 years since she released her debut in her native France, Christine and the Queens has proved that she is in a league on her own when it comes to the live circuit. Her crystal-clear vocals, charming interactions with her audience and of course, intense and flawless dance routines are a winning formula, as I experienced on Thursday night. Playing her second sold-out night at Brixton Academy, she performed the most energetic, fun and exciting set I have ever seen in such an intimate venue.

Very few artists can truly achieve magic on stage, especially with just one album under their belt. For god’s sake many supposed legends rarely achieve what she did on Thursday night! From the opening ‘Starshipper’ to the funky choreographed transition songs (including the opening to Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Mon légionnaire’) and her gorgeously 80s pumped cover of Beyoncé’s ‘Sorry’, it was pure joy from start to finish. It isn’t just her sound that makes her so exciting, it is the combination of her dance routines with her wonderful male dancers, her overall message that you can be whatever you want to be and her whole look that makes her so influential and special. It felt like the most accepting party ever, one in which you don’t wake up with a hangover but wake up feeling inspired to be your best self. And what’s even more exciting is that this is only the beginning.

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Christine and the Queens takes her bow, alongside her dancers and band, after a triumphant performance in Brixton. (03/11/16)

When I was on the train home on Thursday night, still completely buzzing from the gig, I started typing my unfiltered reaction on my phone. This is what I wrote:

‘Wow. She was incredible. Her voice is incredible, her energy, her message, her awkwardness, her fierceness, her vulnerability, her aggression and dance moves, her clothes – everything.

And the way she speaks about openness and experimentation and owning yourself is just awesome. For her it matters that you are a person, first and foremost, rather than what gender. And she embraces the fact that she may want to dance like a ‘boy’ one song and not for the other.’

Christine and the Queens at Brixton Academy was something very special. In his recent autobiography, Bruce Springsteen writes about his firm belief that you can change someone’s life in one live performance, it may only take 3 minutes. Héloïse Letissier certainly is proof of this and in my experience, her performance only comes second to the Boss himself.

 

 

Carole King Live at Hyde Park – ‘a pure delight’

 

On a gorgeous summer’s evening in Hyde Park, Carole King played her first live show in the UK for 27 years and performed her 1971 album Tapestry in full for the very first time. Her humble and charming performance was a pure delight to watch, in fact the whole day (as part of BST Hyde Park) was just gorgeous.

Earlier in the afternoon, Michael Kiwanuka treated us to a stunning set, culminating with the title track from his upcoming second album ‘Love & Hate’. With his smooth, soulful voice and simmering guitar, Kiwanuka was the perfect soundtrack to a very sunny, chilled and happy Hyde Park.

Up next was Don Henley whose Californian sound was perfect for the rare sunshine with Henley joking; “Look, the sun! What’s that doing here?” To be honest, I couldn’t think of a better place to have experienced seeing Henley live for the first time. The atmosphere, the heat, the setting – everything was just perfect. And as I sang along to ‘Sunset Grill’ and ‘Life in the Fast Lane’, I felt so ridiculously content. Though the highlight, of course, was ‘The Boys Of Summer’ live in that gorgeous sun, sunglasses on and hair slicked back.

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Don Henley performs to a sold-out crowd in the London sunshine.

Throughout the years, Carole King’s music has been given new life – whether through the numerous cover versions of her songs, or her reworking of ‘Where You Lead’ for the TV show Gilmore Girls. Of course, the success of the West End musical ‘Beautiful’, has also seen her music enter the hearts of a whole new audience while reinvigorating her original fans. Looking around at the rest of the audience, there were a fair few original fans of King but also plenty of mothers and daughters, families and couples, young and old. Either way, the atmosphere was beautifully chilled and happy.

Carole King’s Tapestry was released 45 years ago and yet, its songs resonate as strongly today as they did back in the 1970s. I’m sure every artist dreams of having their own Tapestry, an album so beautiful, varied and packed with hits that it is sometimes hard to believe they could all have come in one package. From the rousing opener ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ to the stunning ‘You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman’ (made famous by Aretha Franklin), it is a timeless reminder of the power of music and song writing.

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Screens showed a young Carole King singing ‘Feel Like A Natural Woman’ before the present day King joined in. 

Seeing this wonderful album being brought to life last night was something very special. King’s voice is now distinctly more raspy, but like the record itself, it has aged very well. It was also lovely to see such a well-known performer seem so genuinely grateful for the crowd’s response. The whole performance was just gorgeous, with highlights including King’s duet with her daughter Louise Goffin for ‘Where You Lead’, as well as the West End cast of the Carole King musical joining her on stage for a reprise of ‘I Feel the Earth Move’.

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Louise Goffin joins her mother for ‘Where You Lead’.

As King performed songs from Tapestry, as well as other hits such as ‘Chains’ and ‘The Loco-Motion’ – it also highlighted her incredible talents as a songwriter. From capturing the sadness of a breakup in ‘It’s Too Late’ to the pure joy of dance in ‘The Loco-Motion’, King has been able to cover an incredible range of emotions and feelings in all of her songs. Last night she made us feel emotional, sad, free and joyful in just under two hours. And as she remarked “this is what 74 looks like”, I had never felt so happy at the thought of growing older.

 

‘Everything live music should be’ – Bruce Springsteen at Wembley

 

To be perfectly honest, it is really difficult for me to write a review or put into words my experience of seeing Bruce Springsteen live for the first time. I had never been so excited for a gig in my entire life and standing on the pitch at Wembley Stadium last Sunday in the rare English heat, it all felt a little surreal.

From 6pm, the anticipation in the stadium hit fever pitch and then, almost unexpectedly, Springsteen just walked on stage, alone, no fuss. He sat at the piano and played ‘Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?’ and the crowd were silent. So much so that a minute or so in, Springsteen paused and looked out at the audience, as if to say ‘are you still there?’ and everyone cheered. Everyone was so entranced in the simplicity and sudden intimacy of a 90,000 capacity gig that it even seemed to surprise the main man himself. I felt the tingly sensation in my eyes that I was about to cry and told myself to toughen up. I had to get through another 3.5 hours without mascara running down my face, after all.

The E Street Band then joined Springsteen with the exploding ‘Seeds’ and they did not stop until Springsteen closed with an acoustic version of ‘Thunder Road’ over 3 hours later. I had never seen anything like it before in my life. The amount of pure talent and musicianship on stage blew my mind, let alone the fact that Springsteen is now 66 years old.

This was part of The River Tour, and although Springsteen played only a selection of songs from the album, I thought the setlist was perfect. I was praying that he would play something from the Tunnel of Love era and when he took up a sign request of playing ‘Tougher Than The Rest’ with wife Patti, I was so happy. Another sign request for ‘I’ll Work For Your Love’, rather refreshingly, took Springsteen a few minutes to work out the right pitch and chords. He joked that it would be worth it eventually, and it was beautiful. Other set highlights included ‘Candy’s Room’, ‘Spirit in the Night’ (which featured Springsteen downing a pint) and ‘American Skin’. He also played ‘Jungleland’, which I was delighted about, and again, almost reduced me to tears.

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My favourite shot of the night – Springsteen and The E Street Band take their bow at Wembley Stadium, 5/6/16.

Although I only truly discovered Springsteen’s music in the past few years, and still have a lot left to discover, his music has resonated with me in a way that no other artist or band ever has. I knew seeing him live was going to be a special night, but it was more than that. It was almost therapeutic. Springsteen and the E Street Band showcased everything that live music should be – loud, honest, spontaneous and heartfelt. It was just one man and his incredible band playing and singing their hearts out. There were no fancy costumes, crazy light displays or epic stage design. There didn’t need to be. From the people in the front row of the pitch singing every word, to drummer Max Weinberg sweating over the cymbals, everyone was united in their love of music.

Springsteen seems to have that rare blend of being arguably the best live performer of all time but also being just a relatable guy who you could sit and have a beer with. His songs resonate with me and millions of others because of their honesty and emotion. Whether he is singing about unrequited love or commentating on American gun violence, Springsteen makes you really think about the world and your place in it. Seeing him live was undoubtedly an overwhelming experience, but it was by no means a fleeting moment or a night that you quickly move on from. I woke up the next morning feeling excited about it and I keep thinking back to it and wanting to relive it because, let’s face it, you may forget what people do or say, but you never forget how they make you feel.

Setlist:

  1. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
  2. Seeds
  3. Johnny 99
  4. Wrecking Ball
  5. The Ties That Bind
  6. Sherry Darling
  7. Hungry Heart
  8. No Surrender
  9. Be True
  10. Candy’s Room
  11. She’s The One
  12. My City of Ruins
  13. I’ll Work For Your Love
  14. Spirit in the Night
  15. Out in the Street
  16. You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)
  17. Death to My Hometown
  18. American Skin (41 Shots)
  19. The River
  20. The Promised Land
  21. Darlington County
  22. Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
  23. Tougher Than the Rest
  24. Because The Night
  25. The Rising
  26. Badlands
  27. Jungleland
  28. Born to Run
  29. Dancing in the Dark
  30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
  31. Shout
  32. Bobby Jean
  33. Thunder Road – acoustic

 

‘Synth-pop heaven’ – Shura & CHVRCHES at the Royal Albert Hall

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CHVRCHES at the Royal Albert Hall – the only photo I took that actually shows how cool the lights were!

On Thursday 31st March CHVRCHES played at London’s Royal Albert Hall as part of The Albert Sessions. I was equally as excited to see their support, Shura, as I was to see the band for the first time and both acts put on a brilliant show.

Shura opened with ‘Nothing’s Real’, the title track from her upcoming debut album, and her set list mixed in unreleased album tracks with single favourites including ‘Indecision’ and ‘2Shy’. Hearing new songs such as ‘What Happened To Us?’ made me even more excited for her album, which is released 8th July. As expected, it was a brilliant set, and a perfect opener for CHVRCHES. With her infectious 80s inspired synth-pop, I’m sure Shura gained many new fans that night. My highlights of her set included the gem ‘Just Once’ which was amplified into this gorgeous War On Drugs-esque stunner and of course, the flawless ‘White Light’. As her final song, it’s always good fun seeing Shura absolutely going for it during the instrumental of ‘White Light’, as you just see a blonde head of hair whizzing around. It was great to see her playing such a huge and iconic venue and you could tell she was very grateful to be there. I hope that as a result of this tour she has gained a new legion of fans and I cannot wait to see her again at her headline show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in May.

For the main event, CHVRCHES burst onto the stage with ‘Never Ending Circles’ and immediately I was taken aback. Don’t get me wrong, I was really excited to see them playing live and knew they had been touring almost non-stop for the past few years, but I just wasn’t quite prepared for how amazing they would be. Starting with that very first song, their whole set was just a beautifully lit, pitch-perfect party.

I found myself continually being astounded by Lauren’s vocals and her stage presence, as well as her charming stand-up style stage talk. It was also great to see Martin take centre-stage as he performed ‘High Enough To Carry You Over’ and ‘Under The Tide’ (which is unbelievably awesome live). The band’s occasional pauses in between tracks to have a chat with the audience were funny and sincere, as they shared their gratitude for being able to play the venue and for the fans. And as for the fans themselves, the atmosphere was incredible. A lot of times when you go to gigs, there are people who are too loud, maybe even too aggressive and those who seem to be there just to catch up with their mates. But, there was none of that at this gig. Everyone was just having a great time and the crowd’s energy was infectious. From Shura’s opening set to ‘The Mother We Share’ finale, I was in absolute synth-pop heaven.

The whole night was just spot on and seeing thousands of people jumping around to ‘Clearest Blue’ with an awesome light display in the Royal Albert Hall was an unforgettable moment. I left the venue fully charged and immediately wanted to go and see them again. The Royal Albert Hall was already one of my favourite venues, but it was something very special indeed seeing artists such as Shura and CHVRCHES playing that iconic stage. And I have to admit it was one of the best, if not the best, gig I’ve ever been to.

 

 

 

 

 

Indie Track/Gig of the Week – Lissie

One of my favourite artists, Lissie, is back with new material and I couldn’t be more happy about it. From the first time I heard ‘In Sleep’ back in 2010, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with her music. Her raw and soulful voice mixed with her distinctively American, often sun-soaked, sound is just irresistible.

On Tuesday night I saw Lissie live at Union Chapel for the second time, as part of her solo acoustic tour. Her performance was fearless with moments of vulnerability, as she belted out tracks such as ‘They All Want You’ with passion and emotion but admitted to missing her band in between songs, especially as they stop her from ‘talking too much’. Personally I found her anecdotes charming and they painted the whole picture for her new material as she spoke of the inspiration behind new tracks such as ‘Daughters’ (inspired by equality and the often unappreciated strength of women around the world). It was one of the most intimate gigs that I have ever been to and that is why it felt so special,  one particular highlight being when an audience member starting counting her in before she broke into another song, much to her bemusement.

Lissie is one of the most talented and refreshing artists around right now. As her song ‘Shameless’ highlights, she has never been interested in fame and as she sang the lyric ‘If you don’t know what my name is, so what?’ on Tuesday night, I could tell she meant it. Although Lissie deserves to have her name more well-known, you cannot deny that it is a wonderful outlook to have. Watching her live on Tuesday night was a wonderful and intimate experience. Her new material also got me very excited for her new album ‘My Wild West’, to be released in February, which sounds like it will be her most personal release yet.

I have therefore chosen her latest single ‘Don’t You Give Up On Me’ as my track of the week, as it showcases Lissie’s beautiful sound and has got me very excited to hear the album.

I hope you enjoy the track and if you do ever get the chance to see Lissie live, make sure you don’t miss out.

You can listen to ‘Don’t You Give Up On Me’ here:

 

 

 

 

‘Live Music Magic’ – Bob Dylan Live at the Royal Albert Hall

Wednesday evening was one of the best live music moments of my life. Sat in Choir West at the Royal Albert Hall, directly looking down at the band, I watched as Bob Dylan took to the stage for the first of five nights at the iconic venue. Whether you love or hate Dylan, he is undoubtedly a legend. Not only musically, but culturally, socially and arguably even politically.  Although he has undergone his fair share of criticism, such as back in the 1960s for going electric, Dylan is now at the stage when he can deservedly do what he wants.

I had heard mixed responses to Dylan’s recent live shows through the grapevine so really did not know what to expect. I certainly was not expecting to be hugely impressed by his vocal talents because of his age (although according to his critics he could never sing in the first place). However, not only was I very pleasantly surprised by his voice, but the whole performance was just live music magic.

My view from Choir West of Bob Dylan on stage at the Royal Albert Hall
My view from Choir West of Bob Dylan on stage at the Royal Albert Hall

As Dylan and his incredible band effortlessly blended between his more recent songs and the odd classic, the softly lit stage provided a beautiful intimate atmosphere, the whole set up evoking a mix of a vintage Parisian film and a bar in late-night Chicago. He may have not performed ‘Hurricane’ or ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, some of the typical crowd pleasers, but they were not missed. Singing his covers of Sinatra from his most recent album ‘Shadows In The Night’, the audience were absolutely entranced. Dylan may not ‘interact’ with the audience by chatting between songs, but he really doesn’t need to when he is able to say so much in that gritty but also enchanting voice of his. Besides, with a band that good, the music really does speak for itself.

Too often brilliant artists from the 1960s and 1970s tour to satisfy their fans or, quite simply, for monetary gain. And while it is great to see your favourite bands performing their classics, there is something infinitely more special about seeing perhaps the greatest singer-songwriter ever showcasing the music and style that reflects his present stage of life. Yes, he performed ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’, but not simply to keep the crowd happy as his live version was beautifully close to being unrecognisable. And when he sang ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ I, rather embarrassingly, was almost reduced to tears because it struck me in a way that the original recording has never quite managed. Evidently, Dylan does not tour for the sake of it and that is why the night felt so special and iconic. It was a musical painting of where Dylan is at now, acknowledging the journey he has been on, but very much staying in the present. As the crowd erupted into one of many standing ovations as he ended his last song, I knew I had experienced something very special.

OL

Festival No. 6 – Highlights of a Magical Weekend

Festival Number 6 is a unique and wonderful festival held in the stunning Portmeirion in North Wales (the setting for The Village in the 1960s cult TV programme The Prisoner). Last weekend saw the festival celebrate its fourth year and arguably its biggest yet, with weekend tickets selling out and Grace Jones playing on the final night.

An explosion of confetti and light, Grace Jones draws Festival No. 6 to a spectacular close in her Sunday night headline slot.
An explosion of confetti and light, Grace Jones draws Festival No. 6 to a spectacular close in her Sunday night headline slot.

This was my first festival, and to be honest, I don’t think I could have asked for anything better. Festival Number 6 is random, unexpected, eccentric and utterly charming. I think 2014 headliner Beck summed it up perfectly when he called it ‘the coolest, most surrealist, funkiest, freakiest, best festival in the world…’

There is so much I could mention in this post on the highlights of the weekend, from a floating dance-floor to an illuminated drumming troupe and everything in between. However, as this is a music blog I am going to discuss my musical highlights of the weekend.

The first act I saw the whole weekend, and the one I was most excited (ahem, desperate) to see was Shura. Known for her 80s inspired synth pop I was excited to see how her electro style would transfer to the live sphere and she certainly did not disappoint. Having gained a serious online following with tracks such as ‘Touch’, there is a lot of buzz surrounding Shura and, as a huge fan of her work, I was so happy to discover that she is worth the hype. Her performance was slick and tight as she smoothly transitioned between her well-known tracks such as ‘Indecision’ and new material. Her cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ ‘She Drives Me Crazy’ was superb, epitomising her 80s influences but also how she has brought these influences into the modern day in her own unique way. Finishing on my favourite track of the year, ‘White Light’, an already fantastic song was brought to a whole new existential level. I absolutely loved it and did not want it to end.

A few hours later, Kate Tempest played to a packed out tent of one of the most mismatched crowds I saw at the whole festival. From eager hipster teenagers, to young professionals and men in their 50s and 60s, Tempest certainly drew a varied crowd. Admittedly, I am not too familiar with her music but as soon as she came on stage I found her absolutely entrancing. Her words really got under your skin: ‘One man’s flash of lightning ripping through the air/Is another’s passing glare’ and she really was magnetic.

Another band I was really excited to see at the festival were Everything Everything. Playing their last UK festival, they seemed very appreciative of the great crowd in the iStage tent and played to this their full advantage, inviting us to join in with many choruses. The atmosphere was electric, especially when the crowd may as well have erupted when ‘Distant Past’ came on (seriously, that song is insane live). The new material from the incredible ‘Get To Heaven’ sounded fantastic, ‘Fortune 500’ in particular making an impact in its chilling beauty. It was an absolute privilege to hear so many tracks from this wonderful album live.

Moving onto headliners, Friday night’s headliners Metronomy were slick, fun and got everyone dancing, whether you knew their music or not. Their in sync outfits and dancing made it even more enjoyable as they brought their quirky new wave pop to the main stage. Announcing it would their last show for a while, I felt very lucky to have witnessed their unique blend of 70s sounding joyful indie-electronic pop.

Saturday night saw Belle and Sebastian headlining the main stage and while I heard some audience members arguing they were too mellow or inappropriate for a Saturday night, I felt they were a perfect match for the festival. Their charming indie pop appeals to all generations and with beautiful visuals and members of the audience being invited onto the stage near the end, it was impossible to not be enchanted by the band’s performance.

However, Sunday night’s headliner truly eclipsed Metronomy and Belle and Sebastian in terms of legend status and pure spectacle. Grace Jones provided the perfect finale to an incredible weekend with her blend of star power, with a costume change for each song of course, and selection of hits. Chatting to the crowd while offstage changing outfits, you really felt like you were in the presence of musical royalty. When she teased that she did not want to go home and asked ‘is there a curfew?’, the audience shouted ‘no!’ and you could tell that they meant it. As I was watching her I found it hard to believe that she is 67 years old as she kicked on beat in her huge heels and hula hooped through the entirety of ‘Slave to the Rhythm’. The final explosions of confetti and pyrotechnics cemented this performance as one I will never forget.

These musical highlights of the festival were truly wonderful, but it was the variety of music wherever you went, whether it was a DJ in the woods or a random band singing on the piazza about Condoleeza Rice (I’m not even joking), that made the weekend so special for me. I can’t wait to go back again. Festival Number 6, be seeing you.

OL

Jungle – Live

Early last year a mysterious new band called Jungle appeared on my radar with the infectious track ‘Busy Earnin’ (which I listed as my favourite single of 2014). Since then I became quickly addicted to their beautifully simple dance music videos and fresh sound. Their debut album ‘Jungle’ is smooth and polished with strong funk elements and I love it.

Jungle-Press-Photo-1-credit-Dan-Wilton

Before seeing them live last week I was so excited to see how their album would translate to the live sphere and watching their performances online from other festivals got me suitably excited. This is a band who could so easily get on stage with their laptops and recreate their sound but they fully embrace their live performances with an entire live band. Their recent Radio 1 Live Lounge cover of ‘Uptown Funk’ is a good demonstration of how slick they sound live. I got to interview Josh and Tom before their gig and you could see how important it was for them to provide a good show, highlighting the differences between studio music and live music. The live sound they create is so tight, 3 minute songs becoming amplified to their full potential.

Opening with ‘Platoon’, they were immediately on point and bursting into current single ‘Julia’, there was no need to warm the crowd up as they were already dancing away. This gave Jungle the opportunity to delve into slower, thoughtful tracks such as ‘Lemonade Lake’ and ‘Lucky I Got What I Want’ a little later on, the audience completely entranced. The set list was perfect and although I assumed ‘Busy Earnin’ would be the encore track, ‘Time’ was absolutely the right choice. It may even have taken its place as my new favourite Jungle track.

As with any wonderfully great band, listening back to the album the next day you slightly crave for the full live band versions with backing singers, brass section etc. I suppose what you’re really craving is the memory and the experience of feeling the music in that moment. Although people were dancing throughout the set, ‘Time’ got everyone properly grooving, hipsters and pensioners alike. Not only did Jungle put on a good show, they threw an amazing party.

You can listen to my interview with Jungle here: https://audioboom.com/boos/2963610-olivia-interviews-jungle

You can watch their Live Lounge ‘Uptown Funk’ cover here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUCaDVBhPok

OL

Rae Morris – Interview and Live Review

On Thursday night I got the chance to interview and see the wonderful Rae Morris live. If you scroll down on this blog or have read some of my previous posts, you will notice very quickly that I have been excited about Rae’s music for a while now, so this was a really exciting opportunity for me!

First of all, I’d like to emphasise how lovely Rae is, she is extremely sincere and warm and was a pleasure to interview. Its always exciting to meet artists who are on the cusp of stardom and having just released her debut album, ‘Unguarded’ and being long-listed for the BBC Sound of 2015, Rae certainly fits this category.

rae live

On this ‘Unguarded’ tour Rae is being supported by Fryars, who she collaborated with for the single ‘Cold’ and his set was a fitting start to the night, full of smooth beats and effortless vocals. His single ‘Cool Like Me’ is definitely well worth a listen. But, of course, this was really Rae’s night. Opening with ‘Skin’, her pure voice immediately hits you and kept me entranced throughout. The atmosphere really kicked in with the album’s title track ‘Unguarded’ and you could hear a pin drop when she performed a stunning and emotional rendition of ‘Don’t Go’. Her band were also fantastic and they created a really uniform sound, sounding perfectly attuned to each other, which was very impressive considering this is her first album tour. The main thing that stood out to me on the night, however, was the variety of sounds and influences you could hear in the selection of tracks. At times I was reminded of Kate Bush or Tom Odell, but then she would surprise you with an electronic enthused ‘Up Again’, a collaboration with Clean Bandit. Rae appeared genuinely grateful and modest, frequently thanking us for attending. In the audience you could sense she already has a strong fan base and I think this is only going to grow and grow. Her mix of talent, sincerity and concern for what she does means that she deserves all the recognition she is getting at the moment.

You can listen to my interview with Rae Morris here: https://audioboom.com/boos/2876226-olivia-interviews-rae-morris#t=2m58s

-OL

Kasabian – Live Review (featured in The Boar)

I went to see my favourite band Kasabian for the third time in November and it was an incredible night. At the time I wrote a live review for the University of Warwick’s student newspaper, The Boar, which I’m glad to say has finally been published! It may be nearly 3 months after the gig but nevertheless I’m happy to share it with you now. Here’s the text:

‘Live Review: Kasabian’, The Boar, Volume 37: Issue 7 (http://theboar.org/2015/02/03/live-review-kasabian/#.VNi2cbCsVss)

Having seen Kasabian live twice before, I already knew that this would be a great gig. However, even I, as huge a fan as I am, was not prepared for how amazing this gig would be.

Bursting onto the scene a decade ago with their eponymous debut album, Kasabian have since released four solid albums, each with their own quirks, from the widely acclaimed West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum to their latest electronic influenced offering 48:13. Despite criticism for simply being laddish, loud and uber-confident, it cannot be denied that Kasabian have established a fantastic live reputation. Frontman Tom Meighan’s cocky sounding assertion that their songs are ‘dirty, sexy, melodic, powerful’, I also find difficult to disagree with.

Once support act The Maccabees had left the stage, the 30 minute countdown started in true 48:13 fashion. No doubt due to their incredible set at Glastonbury in June, the excitement was tangible for this entire half hour. Kasabian bring in a varied crowd, from the football hooligans chanting and chucking beer, to a group of teenagers, no more than 14 years old, with their parents. Then, Serge and Tom appeared at opposite sides of the stage, with an acoustic rendition of what soon explodes into ‘bumblebee’. With ‘bumble’ appearing on the hot pink screen, the night kicked off with an insane start: everyone immediately jumping and singing in unison. This is how you start a show.

The expected crowd pleasers were electric – ‘Shoot the Runner’, ‘Underdog’ and ‘Where Did All The Love Go?’ all causing the crowd to keep the momentum set by the explosive ‘bumblebee’. However, the real gems were in the unexpected, such as ‘Cutt Off ’ from the band’s debut album. More importantly, it was the non-singles of 48:13 that stole the show.

Tom took a back seat with Serge’s funk-enthused ‘clouds’, as well as the double bill of two of my favourites off the latest album, ‘bow’ and ‘s.p.s’,  dedicated to Pizzorno’s father for his birthday. When ‘s.p.s.’ opened, the guy in front of me was the most excited I’d seen anyone all night. Personally, my excitement peaked with ‘treat’, which was every bit as good live as I’d hoped it would be, especially with the inclusion of a prism light display. The reworking of Cameo’s ‘Word Up’ into Velociraptor!’s ‘Rewired’ was also effortlessly done.

Mosh pit fever took over with stomping hits ‘Empire’, ‘Club Foot’ and ‘Fire’, which Tom admitted he didn’t think he was ready for, the crowd erupting at this point.

Serge was on fine form tonight, foxtail and all, dancing around the stage and the crowd frequently chanting “Sergio”. Tom’s stage presence was much more muted and controlled, in comparison to the feistier Tom we saw in the West Ryder days. Even when the band left the stage, Serge remained alone for a few minutes, sitting on the edge of the stage as the crowd continued to chant ‘L.S.F.’ When he walked off he was visibly emotional, thanking the fans for their support over the years. It was a rare and touching moment of vulnerability.

The lyric “Feels like I’m lost in a moment,” from 2009’s ‘Underdog’, summed up the night for me. It was electric, a riot, a workout and musical bliss. I loved it.

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Thanks for reading, I’ll be posting another live review very soon!

OL