Friday 16 December 2016

LIVE: Bear's Den charity Christmas show at St John on Bethnal Green (15/12/16)

Woah. Last night I went along to the Bear's Den christmas show at St John on Bethnal Green, a night raising money for Support Act. The organisation's usual way of fundraising is essentially asking for a tiny donation of £1 from people who are on the guest list for various shows, and they distribute the funds between Refugee Action and Road To Freedom. There's more info about the organisation on their site here. Charity gigs are always incredibly heartwarming, knowing that you're part of a group of people coming together to do something good, and church gigs are usually pretty special, so combine all that with a brilliant bunch of musicians and last night was quite the evening!

The night was split into two halves, with a bunch of special guests performing a couple of tracks each, first up Justin Young and Freddie Cowan of The Vaccines, whose second track was a cover of The Ramones' Baby I Love You, with Tom Hobden accompanying them on violin. 

A blurry Freddie and Justin of The Vaccines kicking off the evening!
Next up was Seramic, one of my favourite new artists - it's Marcus Foster's new project and its energetic, lively and a lot of fun. I was pretty intrigued by how they'd perform in the stripped back setting, but performing as a duo they opened with People Say, from the incredible Found EP, and it was one of the highlights of the evening for me! 

Next up and playing their stunning track Elijah to open their part of the show, was Matthew & The Atlas. I've seen them once before playing just before Bear's Den in a church for Bushstock, great to keep the church theme going! Matt's voice is such a beautiful thing to behold - check out this Mahogany Session of the same track. Big up to them for playing a cover of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas too!

Matthew & The Atlas
While we were waiting in the queue (to get to the front pew, of course) I spotted Lucy Rose as she arrived, and was fairly excited to note that she was with Jack Steadman (lead singer of Bombay Bicycle Club). He joined Lucy for her set, where they played her track Shiver and a cover of In The Bleak Midwinter which I recorded and you can listen to below... didn't realise how much I'd missed hearing Jack's voice!

Next up, an artist I have heard about a lot, but have never taken a proper listen to.. Benjamin Francis Leftwich, who I think is actually playing a London residency at Omeara starting in March, info here! I'll definitely be taking a listen to some more of his music as his performance was pretty impressive.

Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Last up for the first half of the show, the part I'd been anticipating most... and which I heard a little of the soundcheck. It was the live debut of The Heathen & The Holy, the seasonal side project of Noah & The Whale members Tom Hobden and Fred Abbott, who also had Noah drummer Michael Petulla, Tom Figgins and an orchestra backing them. They played their 2014 track Hey Merry Christmas and really got the party started with their new track, Best Christmas Yet. Seriously felt like I could go home at that point and have had one of my best nights of the year, a real joy to see them perform, particularly to hear Tom Hobden on vocals! I recorded both tracks as it's quite a big deal and probably won't be happening again for a while, so enjoy those below (and apologies for the awful camera angle, apparently didn't realise half the camera was obstructed by the pew!) 

After a little interval, a chance to buy a ton of mince pies and mulled wine (yuck) and stretch the legs, we were quietened down so that Bear's Den could take to the stage. Having a sort of programme/order of service for the night meant that I knew what tracks coming, but it was still such a joy for them to begin with one of their biggest, Agape (particularly as when I caught them in the church at Bushstock, I had to leave to catch the train as they started playing it!) They followed it with Dew on The Vine and Elysium, before playing their new track Berlin (which they premiered online a few days ago) live for the first time. Check that out below.... really beautiful stuff! 

They followed  it with GabrielNapoleon and Isaac, for which Tom Hobden snuck out and joined them on violinThey were then joined by the Alda Orchestra for the rest of the set including another of their own tracks and a Matthew & The Atlas track, and a bunch of the other musicians joined them on stage for a couple of Christmas covers and a stunning Leonard Cohen tribute.

Bear's Den and friends!
It all got pretty emotional towards the end of the evening as Kev and Davie thanked everybody who had helped put the show together, including Communion, their crew, the other bands, the church, so many brilliant people pulling together to create a fantastic night of entertainment for an incredible cause, and after their final track the band left the stage to roaring applause and a standing ovation. Waiting around after it was lovely to chat to some of the artists and tell them just how beautiful it all was, and to congratulate Kev and Davie on putting on such a brilliant show. Definitely won't be forgetting last night in a hurry! Now to get ready for my penultimate gig of the year, another Tigmus show of course... think this is gig number 77 this year!

WATCH: Dawes perform 'Somewhere Along The Way' for Sofar Sounds

Back at the start of November I spontaneously followed the lovely Dawes guys around for a few shows over a couple of days in London, finishing up with a set at a Sofar Sounds show in a 3D printing shop (my post about the weekend is here) - the video from that night was posted online recently, check it out! This track is taken from their fourth record All Your Favourite Bands which was my favourite release of last year - looking forward to reflecting on this year's releases and making a playlist of my favourite music from this year (it's on the to do list!)

Thursday 15 December 2016

WATCH: The Heathen and The Holy - 'Best Christmas Yet'

I've been meaning to post this track for a few days as it debuted last week but I've been concentrating on my assignments for university. They're both finally complete, handed in and I'm free, sort of... the ever so slightly ignored dissertation is looming over me and will be taking up much of my festive break!

I now feel slightly more festive and that's certainly been helped along by Best Christmas Yet, the new track from The Heathen and The Holy, the seasonal side project of Tom Hobden and Fred Abbott of Noah & The Whale. For three consecutive years now, they've released a christmas song, starting with Hey Merry Christmas back in 2014, for which they completed a fundraising campaign to create the music video (which features some familiar faces in the shape of King Charles, NATW drummer Michael Petulla and more...) and last year's On Christmas Day. Their return was hotly anticipated (by me, at least) and I haven't been disappointed in the slightest, check out the track and get in the festive spirit...

Excitingly, the guys recently announced that they'll be playing their live debut as part of tonight's Bear's Den charity christmas show at St John's in Bethnal Green. It's sold out but luckily I've got a ticket (which I was gifted by an incredibly kind friend!) so I am really looking forward to heading down for my final trip to London this year. The show is also set to feature performances from Matthew & The Atlas, Seramic, Lucy Rose, and Justin and Freddie of The Vaccines. I reckon I'm in for quite a treat...

Wednesday 7 December 2016

WATCH: Little Brother Eli perform 'Carry You' for Sofar Sounds

As I write this, it's 11pm and I'm sat contemplating the early night I promised myself half hour ago which is slowly disappearing.... it's very rapidly nearing the end of semester, I've got two big deadlines coming up (but I have managed to get one of the essays mostly written!) - and I somehow thought it'd be a good idea to be out of the flat for six nights in a row last week for a bunch of gigs and the Tigmus christmas get-together. Essentially the next week will include lots of reading, hopefully lots of writing, and a general lack of sleep... and I'm struggling to find time to write blog posts, but I thought I'd write up a quick one before I get to sleep, as many of my favourite bands are continually putting out brilliant new music which needs to be shared! 

Hopefully as the semester finishes I'll get back to posting a lot more regularly, but for now, here's a new video from Sofar Sounds Nottingham with one of my favourite Oxford bands, Little Brother Eli performing Carry You. I've certainly heard the track live before but it isn't on their debut album Cold Tales which was released back in June, so I presume it's a fairly new track. When they play with a full set-up there are five members in the band, the vibe is energetic and the tracks are catchy, and in the handful of times I've seen them perform acoustically, they've played as a trio, with Alex on vocals and Adam and Josh on guitar and bass respectively - it's awesome to see them mixing it up here with Tom on lap steel, which certainly adds an extra level to this performance!

If you're based in London and looking for things to do around Christmas, and you're a live music fan then you're in luck as LBE are playing a show for Tigmus on 21st December at The Monarch in Camden. Support comes from Darla and the Blonde and another Tigmus favourite, James Beau Barclay, and it's totally FREE! I'll be heading home for Christmas before then (meaning trips to London become around three times the price...) so won't be able to make it myself but I know it'll be a great night!

Wednesday 30 November 2016

LISTEN: November 2016 playlist!

I've not been quite as busy as I was in October when it felt like at least every other day brought a gig, but I've been to a few shows this month and I've just reached my 70th gig of the year.. I think last year I went to 63 so I've outdone myself already, definitely down in part to all the Tigmus gigs I've been repping! Last night I caught Banfi playing a free show with Richard Walters and Waylor, and it never stops... I've at least four (possibly five) gigs lined up for the rest of the week! For now, here's a playlist with the music I've been listening to over November, a month which saw the return of my childhood favourites Busted, who I saw live in HMV and met. Consider my life made!

1. Martin Luke Brown Take Out Of Me - Martin played our Sofar Sounds show in Oxford this month (write-up of the show here) and was my highlight of the night... and I've heard a few others say the same! I've been meaning to check his music out for a while now as I kept hearing his name and I'm enjoying it a lot, only wish I'd got around to listening earlier.

2. Banfi Happy When You Go - these guys played their first proper headline show, and their first gig in a while, at Old Blue Last yesterday for Communion. I've said it a million times but anyone who is championed by Communion is bound to be pretty great and they're no exception! Wonderful show and felt very nostalgic in a venue with all of Dry The River hanging around - who'd believe it's over a year since they announced they were splitting? They've just announced a second (also free) show at the same venue on 8th Feb, sign up here!

3. Dawes Quitter - after waiting over a year to catch them live again, at the start of the month the show I'd been waiting for finally came around and Dawes played a total blinder at Islington Assembly Hall. Suddenly one show turned into three and I rushed back to London the day after to see them at Rough Trade and a Sofar Sounds show (write-up of the shows here.) This is one of my favourite tracks from the new record, which they recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel's show!

4. Busted Easy - I might lose all my music cred for saying it but Busted have always been and will always be one of my favourite bands... there's something inherently special about your first ever favourite band. I'd probably go so far as to say the passion I had for these guys when I was a kid helped shaped me into the huge music fan I am today. This month they released their first record in thirteen years (ahhhhh) and I met them at a HMV performance and signing, and they were as lovely as I could've possibly hoped for!

5. Jack Savoretti Sleep No More - the title track of Jack's new record, his set was opened with this on his recent UK tour. Really atmospheric with the whistling solo... I'm probably way more amazed than it warrants as I can't whistle myself (live video!)

6. Catgod Ready When You Are - Catgod are the recently renamed Roberto y Amigos from Oxford, who released one of my favourite EPs of the year, Monster Love. They've just released new record Ready When You Are online (go listen!) and they're launching it with a show at ODHHC on 17th December. 

7. Laurel Goodbye (demo) - Laurel played at our cinema Sofar Sounds Oxford show back in September, and she's released her Park EP this month - loving this demo which is the final track of the EP.

8. JONES Melt - JONES supported on Jack Savoretti's UK tour this month, and opened the nights with a really fun set showing off tracks from her debut album New Skin, of which this was probably my favourite.

9. Richard Walters Awards Night - Richard supported at the Banfi show last night, sadly we arrived too late to catch his set (but I can say with total confidence that it was probably brilliant.) Over the last few months I've been slowly working my way through putting his whole A.M. record on monthly playlists, so you might as well go and listen to the whole thing...

10. Dawes From a Window Seat - this is one of my favourite Dawes tracks but sadly it didn't make it into the set at the start of the month, although that's bound to happen when you've got five records worth of material to choose from! 

11. Lily & Madeleine Hotel Pool - this American duo of sisters supported Dawes on their UK tour and played a really beautiful set. This track is taken from their record Keep It Together which is worth checking out. I'll be keeping an eye out for when they return to the UK for their own tour!

12. Tom Odell Silhoutte - the latest single from Tom's Wrong Crowd record, the video for it was released last week, and a comment on the Youtube video summarises the track perfectly... "Seriously. Silhouette's melody sounds so Christmassy." How hadn't I noticed before?! 

13. Bruce O Yates Helen - Bruce (and his fairly big band) opened up the Sofar Sounds show I caught Dawes at and played a really lovely set. It was really interesting to finally catch a Sofar show in London... there's still a wonderful vibe but it's a different type of evening to our Oxford shows because of the scale, as in Oxford we've got mostly the same crew and many audience members coming along to each show, whereas London had something like 70/80 Sofar shows over November, so there are tons of people involved!

14. Martin Luke Brown Shadow & Light - Martin is one of my favourite discoveries of the month, loving this track which has a really lovely message and for which a really special lyric video was recently uploaded - go watch!

15. Jack Savoretti I'm Yours - the second single from Jack's record, this went down pretty well live in a set where Jack and his band played every single track from the new record. They released a video for the track this month!

16. Waylor (ft. Grace Lightman) Hungover - Waylor (Matt from Dry The River) also supported at the Banfi show last night, I saw him supporting Richard Walters last month but this time he brought along his band and it was a whole lot more lively, loved his set!

17. JONES Walk My Way - bringing the tempo of the playlist back up with another track from JONES! Really enjoyed her set at the two Jack Savoretti shows I caught her supporting this month, her record New Skin is definitely worth taking a listen to. 

18. Stornoway The Great Procrastinator - the oldest track on the playlist, I've been listening to Storno a lot since the news of their split and farewell tour, and none sum me up quite so well as this with deadlines looming and motivation declining rapidly... tickets flying out for the tour, grab them here.

19. Dawes Less Than Five Miles Away - seeing as my month became so heavily revolved around Dawes (for two days at least), it feels right to end on another of my favourite tracks from their latest record. The bass in this track is pretty insane but it takes a live performance to really appreciate it , hats off to Wylie Gelber! 

Tuesday 29 November 2016

WATCH: Laura Marling releases 'Soothing' and March UK tour dates

It appears there's still a little hope for 2016, as everyone's favourite female folk musician (tell me I'm wrong?!), Laura Marling, is back with new track Soothing. It's taken from her upcoming album Semper Femina which is released next year on 10th March. 

Laura tours to support the release of the record in March, including a date at Oxford's O2 Academy on 13th March and London's Roundhouse on 17th. It's dissertation deadline month so I'm not sure I'll be able to make the Oxford date, but the prospect of seeing Laura play live is quite an exciting one! She's also taking in Leeds, Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton and Salisbury - tickets for all the shows are on sale on Friday through the official website here.

Wednesday 23 November 2016

LIVE: Sofar Sounds Oxford at The Handle Bar (21/11/16)

Since I've been attending Sofar Sounds shows in Oxford, there have been a couple of shows at The Handle Bar, a cafe and restaurant above a bike shop, located in the centre of town, but for various reasons I haven't been able to make them. Naturally I was chuffed to finally get along to a show there this Monday, for another night of brilliant acoustic music. I spent most of the evening trying not to make everybody else ill, but also dabbled in a bit of photography and social media, posting photos and live videos to the Sofar Oxford Facebook. You can check out some of my photos from the evening on my Flickr here.

First up on the night, we had a set from local folk musician Rosie Caldecott. I've heard her name tons over the past couple of years, and couldn't recall if I'd caught her playing before, but a little browse of my gig spreadsheets tells me I haven't - and what a mistake! She played a couple of new tracks and a couple from her Inside Out record, and I got some Laura Marling vibes from the set, which can't be a bad thing!

Next up, Gloucestershire duo Ethemia played for us, letting us share in their 'musical marriage' for a few moments. The bond between the pair was lovely to see, and their songs, as well as their stories and how they engaged with the crowd during and after their set was totally heartwarming. Lovely people! Here's a video below from the last Sofar Oxford they played in the summer of 2015.

Up third and probably the set I was waiting in most anticipation for, and my favourite of the night, we had Leicester born and London-based Martin Luke Brown play a solo set for us. I've heard his name in many places online and elsewhere for a year or so now but until the day of the show hadn't really given him a proper listen. Sat barely a metre from the crowd, he made no efforts to hide that it was a little daunting in between songs, but you couldn't guess this at all from his performance! His set was totally engaging, with sing-alongs, clapping and clicking... even a little Britney chucked in for good measure (which I caught on one of the Facebook Live videos from the night, of his track Take Out of Me - definitely worth a watch.) Loving this recent lyric video for his track Shadow & Light which is also worth a listen and a watch! He's also a really lovely chap, had a lovely chat (as my voice was just about returning) after the show. So many positive vibes that night!

Last up we had a full band, playing plugged in and bringing a little more noise to wake us all up at the end of the night. They'd travelled from Fareham for the show (sounded impressive though I wasn't entirely sure where it was... a little Googling tells me it's next to Portsmouth.) The track I recorded live for our Sofar Facebook, Stay Golden, is instantly made ten times better when you know the idea originally came from the lead singers golden retriever (crossed with something which has slipped my mind..) puppy. Adorable, even if he did start the anecdote by letting the audience know he doesn't really like dogs (to some pretty sharp intakes of breath) - "so I got a puppy!" They describe their sound as a unique blend of folk, country, blues and acoustic, and performed with a cajon and banjo, win win in my eyes! Take a listen for yourself with Shake It Off,  a track from their recent EP.

Overall, the night was totally worth braving the cold drizzly night, the venue is lovely, the crowd were totally respectful as always and all the artists were great and lovely people to boot. If you haven't been to a Sofar Sounds show before, chances are there's one coming up near you soon (especially if you live in London where there are usually a few each night all around the city) so check out the website and sign up for a great night of live music and discovery in an interesting setting, with a crowd of likeminded music fans!

LIVE: Little Red at O2 Academy 2 (18/11/16)

Last Friday night, Tigmus had our third of a season of four shows upstairs at the O2 Academy Oxford, this time with local folk trio Little Red headlining. Being a fairly special occasion they drafted in their backing band for the show, performing as a 6-piece with added drums, keys and bass, but keeping their acoustic harmonious charms, and performing as a trio for a little segment of the set. I'd been under the weather for a few days and I'd like to say that the tunes warmed me up, but the venue was totally freezing! 

Opening up the night of local acoustic music we had a solo performance from All Is Worth, aka Nathan Allsworth, who played bass for Little Red later in the night. His Facebook describes his music as "combining picked folk with a haunting edge", a pretty accurate summary. You can check out some of his music over on Bandcamp. Next up we doubled in band members and were treated to a set from folk duo The Lost Art who I'd seen at another small Tigmus show earlier in the year. I'm currently being mesmerised by their music video for Secret Life as it's a one-shot video - total sucker for those!

Next up, after ducking out of the venue I return and the stage is full to the brim with people as James Bell & the Half Moon All Stars, a 9-piece band with mandolin, flute, ukulele, fiddle (always a winner) and tons more instruments! They even had a kazoo towards the end of the set! Playing some traditional folk songs (which they do regularly in the local The Half Moon pub, hence the name) a highlight of the set was The Mary Ellen Carter, a cover of a Stan Rogers song. Check out a performance of that track below!

Last but by no means least our headliners Little Red took to the stage and the crowd, though not the biggest, were definitely up for a good Friday night. The set was made up of a couple of new tracks and others from their back catalogue, which you can check out on Bandcamp! Everyone was left feeling joyful and gave a wonderful round of applause to the band as they left the stage...

Here's to many more Tigmus shows - although I have to admit losing my voice when running the door the night after for our show with The Balkan Wanderers is definitely a low point! Good news: I can talk now (albeit in a croaky, husky way.)

Tuesday 22 November 2016

WATCH: Banfi - 'Happy When You Go'

You know you're in safe hands when Jake Dypka is involved... I've followed his work for a few years after being introduced to his work with Dry The River, and this video he's directed for Banfi which is premiering today over on Dork is pretty epic! Take a watch/listen below...

It's the first music video from the band, who are signed to Communion (again, you know you're in safe hands!) In fact that was my exact train of thought when Communion announced recently that they were playing a free show at the end of November... I grabbed tickets thinking I'd never listened to them before, predominantly as Richard Walters and WAYLOR are opening the night and I was seeing them the next day. 

I got home and searched for some of their tracks and turns out I had listened to them before as their track Where We Part is on the Communion 10 year anniversary RSD vinyl I got earlier in the year. Now getting pretty excited for their show at The Old Blue Last - tickets were snapped up really quickly but if you're interested in seeing them you're in luck as the Communion Christmas show has just been announced and they're playing along Dan Croll, Seramic, Alex Vargas, a special guest (the intrigue! Last year's special guest was James Bay if I remember rightly!) and DJ set from Patrick Nazemi. The show is at Notting Hill Arts Club on 4th December, tickets here! Currently debating if I can afford (financially and academically) to go to the show myself... but I reckon I can probably be persuaded!

Tuesday 15 November 2016

WATCH: King Charles - 'Ivory Road'

Nothing like a new video of King Charles performing my favourite track of his to cheer me up when I'm feeling a little under the weather and fairly unproductive when it comes to university work! He's just finished up a huge American tour, couldn't be prouder and can't wait til he next plays in London! This video is from a Chicago show Charles played last month, but dig a little deeper on Youtube and you'll find this video of him playing the track to me in a field at Cambridge Folk Festival a few years ago... classic!

Thursday 10 November 2016

LIVE: Jack Savoretti's 'Sleep No More' tour 2016

Jack Savoretti's new record Sleep No More has been out for two weeks tomorrow, and I couldn't be prouder than it reached their highest chart spot yet last week, number six! I posted recently about Jack's performance at HMV Oxford St, but I've since seen him three more times so figured it was time for another post! Last Monday Jack was on the panel for The Wright Stuff and performed a solo acoustic version of When We Were Lovers. I saw a tweet about his appearance on the show a week before and got a space in the audience... they only have about twenty people in so it's pretty intimate and was a very early wake up, but really cool to see Jack in that environment and interesting to hear him chatting about the topics of the day! 

The tour for the new record kicked off the day after the show, and I was reading some great comments about the show online, and really looking forward to his London show (last night). I pondered over it for a while and decided I'd like to go to the Southampton show on Sunday (6th) too, only it sold out. After my weekend of Dawes shows somebody got in touch with tickets to sell on Sunday afternoon, so I dropped everything, booked hotel and trains and headed down South. I'm pretty sure I was the only person in the audience for The Wright Stuff who knew who Jack was before the show, so it made a massive difference to be in the sold out 1700+ cap O2 Guildhall, packed out with Jack's fans! There were a few "oh no, they didn't play...." moments, but with five albums to pick from for the setlist, and playing every single track from the new record, that's to be expected! It was a treat to hear the entire new record live... I'm not sure I've ever seen a band touring a new record and not leaving out a couple of the slower tracks, for instance. The setlist had been meticulously planned, starting off with a run of five or six new tracks to ease us into the evening, opening with the album's title track Sleep No More (cue some pretty impressive whistling from Jack)  and playing Helpless, one of the highlights of the new record for me (video from the night here!) The band left the stage and Jack performed a couple of tracks alone, kicking off with Tight Rope, another of my favourite tracks from the new record. 

They got into a few of the hits - Home, Back Where I Belong and Catapult before heading off stage. Returning for an encore, Jack played alone on keys for the intro of Only You, a really beautiful addition to the track, before they finished up with massive hit Written In Scars, the title track of 2015's stunning album. Suddenly, I heard the first hints of third album track Knock Knock, a welcome surprise as the set was so heavily fourth/fifth album weighted! I met some lovely fans outside the venue after while we waited around to speak to Jack, and after a hug and a few moments of conversation he rushed off to the tourbus. Totally worth the last minute travel (on delayed trains!) and every single penny, I'll never tire of seeing Jack live.....

....which is lucky, as I saw him last night, playing his biggest headline show to date at London's Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. The show fell on my mum's birthday and I got the tickets as a present, so after a lovely day out in London we queued for a couple of hours and got to the front. A few minutes later and the place was rammed, and while the set was the same as Southampton's, I feel like I got into the show a lot more... the band seemed to be putting as much in (and at both shows, you could see how happy they all were, and how amazed that so many people had turned up) but there's something about the atmosphere at big London shows. Everybody is up for a good time and I knew the new tracks that little bit better, and sang to my heart's content. They were filming the show and kept turning the camera to face the audience, so that probably egged me on a little bit too! I'm so proud of the guys for playing to such a massive crowd, and the big hits went down amazingly but a highlight for me was again the solo section of the set, including Dreamers, the first track from Jack's debut record. Watch below and you'll hopefully get the gist. Beautiful - and a perfect moment to look around at just how many people were there and feel immensely proud of Jack up on stage, putting everything into it, and putting his heart on his sleeve for us all to see.

All in all I've had a pretty cracking time seeing Jack over the last couple of weeks... the tour is still going and while Manchester is sold out, they've still got Nottingham, Glasgow and Newcastle shows coming up too - tickets and dates here. I hugely recommend putting your confidence in Jack to deliver a superb evening, and if those shows aren't close to you, check out the new record and keep an eye out for the next tour! 

Sunday 6 November 2016

LIVE: Dawes at Islington Assembly Hall, Rough Trade West and Sofar Sounds (4/5 Nov 2016)

Since seeing them in Hackney last August I've been desperate to see Dawes again, so when they announced a mini UK tour for November a couple of months ago I was over the moon. I quickly grabbed a ticket and spent October listening to the record and getting excited... the show was on Friday in the beautiful surroundings of Islington Assembly Hall, my first show in the venue! Arriving expecting a queue I found only a couple of people waiting outside, and once we'd been let in I got chatting with two lovely girls at the barrier. The atmosphere was lovely and the show kicked off beautifully with a support set from Lily & Madeleine who recently released their record Keep It Together... definitely worth taking a listen to! Check out this live session of their track Nothing.

Lily & Madeleine
While chatting away to the girls at the front, they'd asked if I was going to the signing and acoustic performance the next day. There'd apparently been an announcement on Facebook for a show at Rough Trade West which I'd somehow missed... so I decided to see how I felt after the show, knowing I'd probably be heading back to London the following day for it. Dawes came on and played something like an eighteen song set, particularly impressive when so many of their songs are quite long! I got to hear tracks from the new album for the first time as well as tracks from the previous four, the show was full of incredible instrumental sections, solos, amazing crowd sing-alongs and a couple of stunning acoustic tracks, I was pretty overwhelmed - it was everything I'd hoped for and so much more. I recorded a couple of videos which I'll stick below... first up my favourite track from the new record, Roll With The Punches, and then I Can't Think About It Now, which is my favourite track from the previous album (All Your Favourite Bands) and, I think, one of my favourite tracks of all time, so hearing it live was really special (apparently they played it at Hackney too, but the track certainly didn't mean so much to me then!)

After hanging around at the merch stall, I left the venue and found a little group of people waiting to see if the band would come out. They're one of my favourite bands and their music means an awful lot to me, so I figured I'd stick around too. Their lovely tour manager took some of the other guys' stuff up to get signed, and they mentioned the Rough Trade set to him, at which point he said they were also playing a Sofar show after it. I've only ever been to Sofar in Oxford, where we have one or two shows a month - in London this month alone there are 92, so when I checked online I found there were three shows last night. Luckily, after hanging around a little longer, Taylor, the lead singer and guitarist of the band came out. Meeting him was pretty special and he kindly checked which show it was they were playing. Suddenly one Dawes show had turned into a couple of days of following them around for three shows. I headed back on the coach to Oxford, getting back at 2am and heading back to London to meet a friend eight hours later... tired but pretty happy! After a little shopping we headed to Rough Trade West for the instore, where we met with Christine, one of the lovely girls I'd met the night before. Crammed into the tiny store (which I also hadn't been to before, only the East London shop, and Nottingham) Taylor opened the show with a solo performance of For No Good Reason before Lee and Griff joined him for Million Dollar Bill and Roll With The Punches (which I filmed a tiny bit of), after which, deciding how to fill the last few minutes of the set because "all my songs have too many words", he played Now That It's Too Late, Maria ("it's like a song and a half"), the track which closes their fourth record. After a quick album signing we headed to the tube, and after saying goodbye to my friend, Christine and I travelled over to Farringdon, arriving a little early at the venue for Sofar Sounds, the iMakr studio, the world's largest 3D printing store.

Dawes at Rough Trade West
Opening up the night was Bruce O'Yates and his band... amusingly (and rather cool) he'd been to the store before to have his face 3D printed for his album cover - you can see it just behind him to the right on the pic below! I really enjoyed his set, check out his track Helen here. Next up was Natalie Wildgoose playing a solo keyboard set of jazzy tunes!

Bruce O'Yates
Up last, and finishing off a brilliant couple of days were the Dawes guys, this time with Taylor, Lee and guitarist Trevor. They played a different set to the earlier one as they knew a handful of us were going to be at both, opening with Taylor playing Moon In The Water solo before (not sure of the order) Something In Common, Picture of A Man and Somewhere Along The Way (little video of that here). Luckily the rest of the audience enjoyed it as much as us and requested an encore, and crikey, did they deliver... in the form of a song "we've never played for anybody", entitled My Greatest Invention. It was a little emotional and a beautiful way to finish off the little trio of shows!

Dawes at iMakr Store for Sofar Sounds
After a little chat with Taylor and Jerry, their tour manager, I headed back to get the coach back to Oxford. An emotional coach journey reflecting on what had just happened - seeing a band I've admired for a few years up close and personal like that in such a raw, stripped back environment where you can really appreciate their musicianship and Taylor's fantastic songwriting was truly special! Wishing them safe travels back to LA and hoping that it isn't too long until they're back in the UK! Also if you've made it to the bottom of the post and you're not already a Dawes fan... get listening to them - there are five fantastic records for you to choose from, and so many incredible tracks!

Monday 31 October 2016

TOUR NEWS: Dawes (2nd - 4th Nov)

I've already rambled on about Dawes touring the UK before (post from September) however if you missed it.... they're coming over here to play in Glasgow, Manchester and London this week on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, and I wholeheartedly recommend you get along to one of the shows! Since seeing them support Mumford & Sons back in 2012 I was really struck by their music, and I'd probably go so far as to say they're my favourite American band. I was totally amazed to see them headline London (in amazing style) last August and I've been waiting for a follow up to that show for a long time and finally it's almost arrived! Their 2015 record All Your Favourite Bands is one of my favourites of all time, and this mini-tour is in support of its successor, We're All Gonna Die. From that record, Roll With The Punches is certainly one of my favourite tracks - watch the guys performing it live for Charlie Rose below! With five brilliant records worth of tunes to choose from, it's hard to guess what the set will look like, aside from plenty of new tracks, but live highlights definitely include From A Window Seat, When My Time Comes and the beautiful All Your Favourite Bands, and I'm pretty excited to hear more new tracks, including One Of Us

Honestly: take a listen, fall in love and come and join me at their Islington Assembly Hall show on Friday. You'll find me down the front yelling out the songs and having a jolly good time! Tickets and all the details for the three shows are on the Dawes site here.

Sunday 30 October 2016

LISTEN: October 2016 playlist!

Since coming back to university it's been a really busy time, doing lots of work for the lovely Tigmus guys, including towards our huge show at The Sheldonian Theatre a couple of weeks ago with The Fusion Project, and I've been to gigs all over the place. Possibly the most I've been to in a month before - definitely the most intense with four and then five back to back shows! I've made a playlist for the month, featuring tracks from a few of the artists I've seen live over the month and a handful of new releases and new discoveries for me!

1. Jack Savoretti Helpless - one of only a couple of entirely new tracks on the playlist this month, this is taken from Jack's new record Sleep No More, and is one of my favourite tracks on it! It's the follow up to his brilliant 2015 record Written In Scars, and he's kicking off a UK tour in support of the record tomorrow night in Leeds. 

2. King Charles Find A Way - another exciting new release this month, a surprise new track from Charles while he is busy touring in the US on a support tour with Allen Stone. Really proud to see Charles playing to crowds of excited American fans, but also can't wait for him to return to the UK and hopefully play us a little show!

3. Bear's Den Dew on the Vine - one of the most exciting live shows I saw this month was an intimate unplugged set from these guys, and I'm loving the video for this track which is their latest single!

4. Richard Walters July Bones - during last week I ran the door for a few shows, the first of which was Richard's homecoming at The Library, the first time I ran the door for anything but a Tigmus show (traitor!) Had a blast and met some lovely people, and most importantly listened to some cracking music, like this track taken from Richard's album A.M which was released this month. 

5. Public Service Broadcasting The Other Side - since a friend introduced me to these guys on a train journey a couple of years ago I've been keen to see them live, and narrowly missed them headlining Audioscope in 2014 as I was working on the day of the show. I was very glad to finally catch them live at Music Venue Trust's 'Fightback' show this month. They didn't play this track but it's one of my favourites from the latest record, and they released a beautiful version of it for this year's RSD.

6. Stornoway Lost Youth (Acoustic) - sad music news this months comes in the form of the lovely Stornoway guys announcing that after ten glorious years they're parting ways (as much as a group of really good friends and two brothers can part ways). Fear not, it's not over quite yet: they're playing a farewell tour up and down the UK in March but tickets are already shifting rather speedily so hurry!

7. Biffy Clyro Howl - certainly the show I'd been waiting for for the longest time since buying the ticket, this month I was lucky enough to see Biffy play an acoustic show in a Kingston theatre. Playing two separate shows, they had different setlists and unfortunately (because I love the acoustic version of this track which they performed on Radio 1's Live Lounge) they didn't play this at the show I was at, but aside from that, pretty incredible stuff!

8. The Fusion Project I See Fire - as mentioned above a big highlight of the month definitely has to be seeing this group of musicians sell out the massive and iconic Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, a show I was looking after for Tigmus. When the first Hobbit film was released I was pretty mad about this Ed Sheeran track from it and absolutely adore their cover of it!

9. Everything Everything Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread - headlining the Fightback show alongside Public Service Broadcasting were these guys, who finished off the night, and their year of touring, in total style!

10. Boat To Row Time and Time Again - last week we had Michael, frontman of Boat To Row, playing a solo set as support at a Tigmus gig with local band Case Hardin. I'd heard of BTR before, what felt like years ago, but hadn't given them a listen - more fool me! Mike's set was my highlight of the evening and I've since checked out (and enjoyed!) I Found You Here, the record this track is taken from. With the full band comprising of six members I definitely need to get along to a proper show somewhere along the line!

11. Waylor Silver & Gold - supporting Richard Walters at his show on Wednesday was Waylor, aka Matt Taylor, guitarist of one of my favourite bands of the last few years, Dry The River. They were the first band I saw (twice in one day) when I moved to Oxford so it was nice and nostalgic to see Matt, and while I don't think he played this track on the night (it was a solo set and I'm not sure how well it would translate without the drums) I'm really enjoying being reintroduced to it after it was released almost a year ago.

12. The Eskies Fever - another of the Tigmus shows I ran the door for this month was The Eskies, a Dublin band playing 'sea soaked gypsy folk'. While my highlight of the show was the absolutely hilarious onstage banter, the music was pretty fun too, mostly taken from their 2015 record After the Sherry Went Round.  

13. Two Door Cinema Club Bad Decisions - after what seems like forever, Two Door are finally back and while I'm a little ashamed to say I haven't listened to the record more than once or twice (yet), this track is pretty funky.  

14. The Travelling Band Passing Ships - these guys have been going for ten years and just finished off their ten year anniversary tour with an Oxford show for Tigmus to an adoring crowd of family and friends. I hadn't had chance to listen to them before the show but I was sold at seeing a violinist on stage, and this track encouraged a great sing-along!

15. Liu Bei Infatuation - listening to Richard Walters, both live and with the release of his new record, inspired me to return to some of his band Liu Bei's back catalogue, including this corker!

16. Little Brother Eli Roll Away - although it feels like a world away now, near the start of the month Tigmus ran a cracking and fairly busy show upstairs at the O2 in Oxford with these guys headlining and a line-up of three more great local bands. Really inspiring to see so much love for local music!

17. Public Service Broadcasting Spitfire - the PSB guys did play this track at Fightback and it was just about as exciting as I could've hoped for. Absolute tune! I can't help but associate it with when I was at an airshow in Eastbourne over summer, and they played the track following a flyover by a Spitfire - made my day!

18. Biffy Clyro God & Satan - while they didn't play Howl at the early show, Biffy did play this, probably my favourite track from Only Revolutions and obviously perfectly suited to the atmosphere of an acoustic show. Video from the night here!

19. Jake Isaac Home - playing an early set at the Fightback show, my friend and I were struck by Jake's infectious energy, and this was probably the standout track of his set for me!

20. Richard Walters Young Folks - while I don't want the playlist to become too much of a Richard Walters appreciation post... I can't resist but include this stunning cover of the Peter Bjorn and John track (in my head it's called "the whistling song") which I was really glad to hear Richard play on Wednesday! 

21. Rob Heron & the Tea Pad Orchestra Devil Wears a Blue Tie - Rob and his band played a cracking show for Tigmus on Thursday night but the highlight for me was definitely this track they played for the encore... one of the first political tracks I've totally identified with, worth a listen!

22. Everything Everything No Reptiles - I remember hearing this track when I saw EE live for the first time last April and being struck by the pretty unusual lyrics... it's been a live favourite since then and went down smashingly at Fightback!

23. Jack Savoretti Tight Rope - one of the more stripped back songs from Jack's album (particularly compared to Helpless as featured at the start of the playlist!) this is a real chance to appreciate to his vocals and songwriting. Highly recommend a listen of the new record, and getting along to see him on his tour if you can, he's an incredible musician surrounded by a brilliant band!

24. Stornoway The End of the Movie - with the news of these guys splitting up it feels fitting to feature this beautiful track from their 2010 record Beachcomber's Windowsill as the close of this months playlist. Having only known of them since moving to Oxford and meeting bassist Oli through Sofar Sounds, I don't feel like I have the right (?) to be as sad as much of Oxford (and music fans in the rest of the country) are at the moment, but after spending Sunday listening to their stunning back catalogue while essay writing, I'm definitely feeling fairly mournful! It's really heartwarming seeing how many people in Oxford and further afield have been affected by the news, showing just how many people their music has reached over the years. Looking forward to the fairly emotional final show of the tour in Oxford, gonna need the tissues!

Wednesday 26 October 2016

LIVE: Jack Savoretti at HMV Oxford St (25/10/16)

Last February, after being a fan of his music since 2012, I finally got to see Jack Savoretti perform live at a HMV instore celebrating the release of his album Written In Scars, where I also got to meet him. The album has since done incredibly well and blown him into a level of superstardom, and so it was great to go back to where I first caught him live last night, at an intimate show debuting tracks from his new album, Sleep No More. It's been streaming exclusively on Apple Music for a few days now before its official release this Friday, and after many, many listens, it's blowing me away time after time.

A standout track on the album is I'm Yours, a slow burner which I recorded last night and you can watch below... other highlights for me are the album's first single, When We Were Lovers, the totally funky Helpless and the stripped back Tight Rope (which for me, takes us back to a track like his recent release Catapult), but the more I listen, the more I'm struggling to focus in on a favourite track. It's not just a bias towards Jack as one of my favourite artists talking, I really do think the record is exquisite, relatively faultless. There isn't a single track I'm not enjoying, and it's a brilliant showcase of his vocal range and songwriting skills, and the very talented group of people he's got around him.

Last night was only my third time meeting Jack, with the last time being just over a year ago at his Oxford O2 Academy show, but he greeted me like an old friend, a totally genuine display of affection and gratitude towards his fans, making the music only more beautiful! Jack recognised me from previous shows, but it was the first time he put two and two together with who I am on Twitter - hence a wonderful and pretty hilarious moment of realisation... "YOU'RE SuperMegan?! I never put the two together!!" As I'm used to always having my eyes closed in photos with musicians/actors (if you're my Facebook friend you'll probably have seen my post mocking how often this happens) I looked at my photos taken by the security guy with a little apprehension, to find they were totally fine and he'd took a bunch of us chatting. Really special photos to keep the memories alive! 

I can't wait to catch Jack live again with my mum in London at one of his biggest shows yet on 9th November as part of his UK tour... all dates and tickets here. I'm going to the show with my mum and it falls on her birthday so should be a really special evening! Currently fighting back the temptation to buy a ticket to see him in Southampton a few nights earlier as well... we'll see!

Monday 24 October 2016

WATCH: Bear's Den 'Dew On The Vine' plus tour announcement!

Exciting double whammy of news today for Bear's Den fans... they've just released this hugely entertaining new video for Dew On The Vine, which I think probably just about captures their true rivalry at table tennis. Featuring the touring members of the band, their crew and some special guests such as Whispering Bob Harris and Communion's Maz Tuppini, the video is hilarious and well worth a watch!

It's a great track, taken from their latest record which has been out for a few months now and is gaining them lots of deserved success, not least with an upcoming run of sold out UK dates across November. I'm gutted to have missed out on London tickets now that I'm getting more and more into the music, and having seen them play two acoustic sets and headline Bushstock this year I'm keen to see a proper headline show (so if anyone's got a way in to the London gig in November... shout.) But fear not! They've just announced a run of dates to go alongside the already announced London Eventim Apollo gig in April, including (very excitingly for me) an Oxford show on 23rd March! All the dates below...

Tickets for these new shows are available from their website tomorrow morning from 10am, and they're certainly worth seeing live - check out this recent performance on Radio 1's Live Lounge.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

LIVE: Three days in the life of a live music fan...

It seems that while going to lots of shows and having relatively little time to write blog posts, those things that I do get to write are a summary of a few shows at a time - so here's another of those... last Thursday I ran another show for Tigmus, this time back at The Jericho Tavern in Oxford, with Dublin's The Eskies headlining as one of the last shows on their UK tour. It wasn't as rammed as the show I did in the same venue a week before, but, being so far from home and playing in Oxford for the first time they pulled a decent crowd and put on a cracking show. The night was opened by Louis Barabbas (captain of The Bedlam Six) who played a highly enjoyable, energetic and theatrical set. When it was time for The Eskies' set, I was really glad I'd taken the time to check out their album After The Sherry Went Round before the show, as it meant a lot of the tracks were familiar to me. The tracks, like Jesus Don't Save Me (watch the entertaining video below) were great but probably stealing the show was the onstage chatter, with amusing stories and observations from the band, namely about how many grey squirrels there are in Oxford (good point!) It also helps that they were really lovely guys too, a great night in all!

Next up, a big show for Tigmus, with one of our/my favourite Oxford bands Little Brother Eli headlining upstairs at the O2 Academy. We had a brilliant line-up of local acts playing, with My Crooked Teeth opening the night with his new backing band, duo WOLFS who played such tunes as Mirror, and lastly the lovely Lucy Leave following their UK tour last month! By the time LBE came on stage the room was packed full of adoring local music fans, who enjoyed a set featuring much of their album Cold Tales as well as a few new tracks! A video I captured on the night of their great track Gold is here but watch below for a recent acoustic video! 

During the show, in between selling merch for the guys at the back of the room.... from an ironing board, I arranged (incredibly last minute) to volunteer at Oxjam Festival on Saturday, an all-day (ish) festival taking place in venues along Cowley Road with a bunch of the best bands playing sets to raise money for Oxfam. I volunteered back in 2014 a couple of months after first starting university, when the festival was in the city centre (no idea why I didn't go last year!) and was on the door of a night-club, turning away drunk Oxford Uni students... this year was a lot cooler! 

I started off volunteering around three o'clock at the East Oxford Community Centre (and aside from grabbing some food, didn't venture very far away at all.) I caught some brilliant bands but there were still so many more I didn't get chance to see, check the full line-up here. First up were Roberto y Amigos, my first time seeing them without Jonny as he's gone off to university (and as far as I know the first time they played without him, though I'm told they'll have a new guitarist, Robin's Neverlnd bandmate Henry, soon). Probably somewhat testament to Robin's skill as a bassist, I didn't feel the lack of a guitar was much of a problem, and didn't really register that it wasn't there for a few tracks! Robin's sister Cat also joined the guys to sing, and I really enjoyed the set! Next up, and no break for drummer George (drawback of being in lots of brilliant bands?) were homeplanetearth, whose set I mostly watched through the door but could hear pretty well and enjoyed - they're also fresh from a Tigmus UK tour. There were a couple more bands on in the room I was in the door for whose sets I didn't really catch, but I was able to squeeze in for Bright Works and what I could hear, squished up against a radiator, was pretty great.

Bright Works
Sadly Little Brother Eli, who had been announced as the festival's special guests only hours before, had to pull out because Alex had been feeling pretty ill the night before and wanted to rest up his voice for their show the next day, so we had a quiet hour in my venue, during which I heard the irresistible Take Me To The Green by Slate Hearts coming from the other stage in the venue. I think I knew they were playing but wasn't aware when and where so this was a pleasant surprise and I managed to go and catch their set before finishing up my shift and heading out for some food. When I came back, I stayed in the venue I'd been helping at, and caught folk trio Little Red, who I'd met at a show I did the door for but didn't catch their set at so it was really great to finally see them - they're headlining the O2 for Tigmus on 18th November. Next up was Jess Hall who I remember seeing in December 2014 opening for Adam Barnes, on the bill with Willie J Healey, and who has got a fairly beautiful voice.

Finally, finishing up the day for me and for many others as the room got pretty full, was The Fusion Project, who I caught at Sofar recently with a four-piece band, so it was cool to see them with seven members this time. I'm beginning to get really excited for their huge (enormous, no less) show this Friday at the Sheldonian Theatre for Tigmus where I reckon they'll have ten members, live dancers and some incredible tunes - if you're interested in coming (and why wouldn't you be), grab your ticket here as they're selling quickly!

The Fusion Project
Another cracking weekend of music, and it was such a great day at Oxjam, being reminded of just how many lovely people I actually know in Oxford, seeing several bands, music industry peeps and fans who I knew. The perfect celebration of our beautiful and diverse local music scene, raising a heck of a lot of money for an incredible cause. Here's to more gigs! 

Sunday 16 October 2016

LISTEN: Jack Savoretti - 'Cry Me A River' (plus HMV gig announcement!)

You wait months for a Jack Savoretti show and then two come along at once... I've had my ticket to see Jack headline the massive Hammersmith Apollo on 9th November for months now, and he recently announced a set at HMV Oxford St to play tracks from his new record Sleep No More and sign copies of the album! The show should be pretty special for me as, back in February last year, its where I first saw Jack play and met him when he was launching his last album Written In Scars - who knew how successful that was going to be?! Jack was on Dermot O'Leary's BBC Radio 2 show at the weekend, performing his new single When We Were Lovers and a cover of JT's Cry Me a River as he was going to be a guest on the show - can't get enough of the cover! Listen below or click here for the full feature on the show. 

The show at HMV Oxford St is a week on Tuesday (25th) and you can secure your spot by pre-ordering a CD here. You can also catch Jack on his UK tour, kicking off at the start of November in Leeds!

LISTEN: King Charles - 'Find A Way'

In the midst of a run of probably too many shows (is there such a thing?) to be good for a university student with lots of work to do, King Charles has released a new track, just another beautiful distraction among many! I'm finally taking a chance to properly listen to it, and really digging it's upbeat vibe and the lyrics, a huge strength of Charles' artistry (see Ivory Road....), and other fans seem to be really loving it too - a lovely unexpected surprise! 

Charles is currently off playing a solo tour in the US, supporting Allen Stone and playing a handful of headline shows, so if you happen to be over there, check the dates here.