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!