Friday 31 March 2017

LIVE: Jack Savoretti at Royal Festival Hall (29/3/17)

On Wednesday evening I caught the last night of Jack Savoretti's current tour, where he and his incredible band played to the impressive and fairly enormous Royal Festival Hall - it was my ninth time seeing Jack live and I honestly don't think I'll ever tire of watching him perform.

The day was a combined post-dissertation treat for myself and Mother's Day present for my mum, and after a bit of shopping, a trip to the Sky Garden and some Mexican food we headed down to the venue early for a meet and greet. Not cheap, but totally worth it for the wonderful memories we created seeing some of the soundcheck, getting some signed stuff and meeting with Jack after for a little chat and a photo (at which point his tour manager exclaimed "I know her!!".... oops, stalker alert!) Jack and his music mean the world to me and there's so much I'd like to tell him and thank him for if I ever get the chance, but for now a hug will have to do! 

Tour support Joseph J. Jones kicked off proceedings.... I don't know much about him but do know that he is a Communion Music artist which is always a great sign! His tracks filled the room really well and his voice was seriously impressive and kind of gravelly in keeping with the rest of the show! Check out his track Stay below...

The room quickly filled up and Jack and his band took to the stage, playing us a bunch of tracks from the latest record Sleep No More, kicking off with the title track and the new single, We Are Bound, and a few tracks later it was a total dream to hear Sweet Hurt again. Towards the middle of the set the band left Jack to play Tight Rope by himself, after which he was joined by Nikolaj Torp on harmonica/keys for the utterly stunning Soldier's Eyes and Breaking The Rules - a sequence which had me in floods of tears.

Picking up the pace the band played tracks such as The Other Side Of Love (another of my favourites), Back Where I Belong, Not Worthy and after roaring applause, the Written In Scars/Knock Knock encore, with Joseph J. Jones returning to sing on Knock Knock to bring the UK tour to a close. I was once again blown away by the emotions that the performance made me feel, and the passion, talent and energy that the guys bring to each show, they're getting better and better every time. After a well earned rest they're heading to a bunch of festivals this summer, starting with Cheltenham Jazz Festival in April before taking in the likes of Isle Of Wight, Pinkpop, Cornbury, and V Festival - all Jack's upcoming tour dates are on his website here

WATCH: Sivu releases new track 'Childhood House'

Ahhhhhhhh!!!! Sivu is back!! It's been just over two years since I last caught him performing a beautiful headline show at a Bethnal Green church, and he's spent that time working on the follow up to his stunning debut record Something On High. The video for Childhood House, the first track from the upcoming record was debuted yesterday, it's a beautifully nostalgic video for an understated piano and vocals track - how I've missed James' voice!

Talking about the track in an interview with The Line of Best Fit, he explained that "the song came from this idea of when you're a child you feel untouchable and you're deluded about life, and just the journey you take from leaving your childhood house and growing up and just how so much happens in that period, good and bad, that will change you forever." Check out the video below....

Sivu plays a tour of intimate venues in May - he's a stunning live performer and will be debuting lots of new music so I'd definitely recommend getting along to a show! Ticket info through the Sivu Facebook page.

3rd - Brighton, Latest Music Bar
4th - Norwich, Birdcage
5th - Cambridge, Unitarian Church
8th - London, Rosemary Branch
9th - Bristol, The Gallimaufry
10th - Manchester, Eagle Inn
11th - Birmingham, The Ort Cafe

Tuesday 28 March 2017

LIVE: Sofar Sounds Oxford at The Handle Bar (27/3/17)

Last night kicked off a great week of gigs (Jack Savoretti in London tomorrow night, pretty excited about that one!) It was another brilliant Sofar Sounds concert at The Handle Bar (a cafe above a bike shop), an alumni show so no film crew and a really lovely relaxed atmosphere, a great crowd and a beautiful line-up with Boat To Row, Ags Connolly, Kyan and Little Brother Eli performing for us.

First up we had Boat To Row who are a band from Birmingham currently do a house show tour so Sofar fits in pretty well alongside those shows! I met the lead singer Michael a few months back when he played a solo support set for a Tigmus show in Oxford, and it was lovely to catch them playing as a band, perhaps next time I'll see them playing a full (less stripped back) set... slowly building up to that! They treat us to some tunes from their 2015 record I Found You Here including one of my favourites, Handsome Beats, which you can watch the video for below. 

Next up and from somewhere a little more local, country singer Ags Connolly played some sad songs for us - who doesn't love sad songs?! We were promised a happier song and you might be able to work out why the track in the video below got some laughs... 

Up next was Kyan, probably one of my favourite recent Sofar discoveries in the sense that I was pleasantly surprised by the set... particularly with the addition of violinist Jed, who he'd only known for a couple of weeks! He's recently smashed the target on his Kickstarter project for the recording of his latest set of songs, which you can read about here. He's no stranger to Sofar and is currently touring around playing loads of them, here's a video from a Sofar London show a year or so ago (no violin but there are halloween decorations!)

Last up and also no strangers to Sofar Sounds, counting this as their eighteenth show, locals Little Brother Eli played us a couple of tracks from their brilliant debut Cold Tales as well as some brand new tracks they've been working on. It's been a few months since I last saw them playing their superb headline gig for Tigmus (where I was in charge of merch from an ironing board) so it was lovely to see them again - they're back in Oxford on the 19th May to headline the O2 for BBC Introducing alongside a brilliant line-up with Lucy LeaveHarry Pane, Ghost in the Photographs and Sleepers' Dome (FB event here). There are naturally quite a few videos of them performing at past Sofar shows on Youtube, here's one of my favourites... 

I took care of the social media for the show last night, so if you fancy checking out some live videos of each of the acts you can head over to the Facebook page here! If you want to find out more about Sofar Sounds and sign up for a monthly email alert about upcoming gigs (there is very likely one near you, wherever you live worldwide) check out their website here... long may Sofar continue!

Saturday 25 March 2017

LIVE: Bear's Den and Banfi at O2 Academy Oxford (23/3/17)

Thursday's gig at O2 Academy Oxford was my my fifth time seeing Bear's Den (and fourth seeing Banfi) and both totally exceeded my expectations! The show had been long sold out and once the Banfi lads were announced as support I knew it was going to be an incredible evening of live music, and a perfectly timed night out to celebrate handing in my dissertation the day before! I am however a little gutted that (unless I can find some cheap Southampton accommodation) I can't make another date on the tour, as Seramic join the guys from Wednesday to make it an even dreamier line-up for the rest of the tour!

Bear's Den
Kicking off the night with some appreciation to the Bear's Den guys for bringing them on tour and letting them play to these massive sold out crowds, Banfi took to the stage and absolutely smashed their set. Working their way through a bunch of new tracks I'd heard at a couple of their residency shows at The Old Blue Last they built up to their three singles, Where We Part, Happy When You Go and the latest, Rosedale House. It was lovely to meet the band properly after the show, they're a great bunch of guys and I really recommend you get along to their fourth and final residency gig on 26th April (free tickets here), and, as if that wasn't enough, they've just announced a UK tour for September - dates and tickets all on their website here

The night was already pretty great and the Bear's Den guys managed to take it to another level, giving us a beautiful set full of tracks from both records, the stunning 2014 release Islands and last year's Red Earth & Pouring Rain, starting off the set with its title track. Unplugging their instruments and standing at the foot of the stage, they performed Her Tears, an older track I hadn't actually heard before (terrible fan - but it's always nice to discover new music live too!) and later in the set they came into the crowd to perform Bad Blood which was a pretty beautiful way to bring the evening to a close before bringing the house down with Agape. If you're new to the guys, here's a recent live music video for their track Greenwood's Bethlehem.

There's still a couple of weeks left of the band's UK tour, taking in Sheffield tomorrow night and finishing up in Southampton and London in the first week of April - be quick as the shows are likely to sell out, check the band's site here for the remaining tickets.

LISTEN: Joe Hicks releases 'Something in the Water' & 'Best Clothes'

If like me you're local to Oxford then you might recognise Joe Hicks as guitarist for Adam Barnes, but following in the footsteps of Adam's keys player James Walker, Joe has recently released his debut singles, Something in the Water and Best Clotheswhich you can listen to below!

The tracks were written in a small converted garage in St Ives, Cornwall, with no internet or phone signal and recorded closer to home at Studio 1 in Newbury with producer Sam Winfield (Amber Run, Fickle Friends). I'm getting a pretty summer-y, Jason Mraz vibe and looking forward to hearing more! Watch out for a live Best Clothes video which is being released on Monday - check out some behind the scenes pics from the shoot by the folks at TMRW Mag here.

Friday 24 March 2017

ALBUM NEWS: Dan Croll and Lucy Rose announce new records for July

It's been a little while since my last post but super happy to be able to say I've submitted my dissertation (ahhh!) - now just to get back into my other modules, five assignments to go until final year is finished! I had a brilliant time seeing Bear's Den and Banfi last night which I'll probably post about today or tomorrow, but while I'm in a Communion Music mood, here's a couple of recent album announcements from the label.  

First up, Dan Croll releases Emerging Adulthood on July 21st, the follow up to his brilliant debut record Sweet Disarray. The record features the tracks Swim (listen below), One Of Us and Away From Today. The record's press release describes it as 'a sumptuous, shape-shifting, surprise-packed pop triumph that keeps the listener gripped throughout the ride' - sounds pretty interesting, so be sure to get your ears around it in July! The single One of Us is set for release on 12th May, supported by a run of UK shows in Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, London, Birmingham and Bristol - tickets and album pre-order all here!

The Communion treats don't stop there, as recent signing Lucy Rose releases Something's Changing the week before on July 14th. Featuring her recent single with The Staves, Floral Dresses, the record shares its release with a short film about Lucy's South American tour last year (which I'm actually going to feature as a case study in an essay I'm planning on writing about musicians and their fans on social media). You can pre-order the record through Lucy's site here!

To support the release, and following Lucy's recent solo UK library tour, she's heading out to cinemas across the UK and much further afield where the short film will be played out before her set. Dates and tickets here (including a show at London's Rio Cinema!)

Wednesday 15 March 2017

LIVE: Stornoway at New Theatre Oxford (12/03/17)

I shared a post about Friday's Stornoway London gig a couple of days ago which took the blog over thirty thousand all time views (yikes!) A couple of days later I caught the band's final farewell show in Oxford, the place where the band met and started playing together, had their biggest breaks and played to some of the biggest venues, including being the first non-classical act to play a concert at The Sheldonian. I was only introduced to their music in my first year of university after meeting bassist Oli Steadman through Sofar Sounds Oxford, but the band have been making music in the city for just over a decade. Since then I've seen the band a few times and their music has become pretty special to me - so it's a huge shame to see them part (difficult to play down just how much crying was done at the two shows...) but they did so in a hugely triumphant manner, playing to a 2000 strong London crowd and to Oxford's largest theatre, the 1800 capacity New Theatre

As Oli and the band's trumpet (and axe?) player Tom Hodgson self-promoted the Oxford show via Tigmus, I was incredibly lucky to get to be at the venue from the afternoon, sorting out guest lists, meeting the rest of the band, watching them soundcheck from the stage and generally hanging around backstage. It's worth pointing out that the entire band and crew are some of the kindest, friendliest people I've had the pleasure of meeting! 

After rushing off for a meal with friends, I got back to the venue once the doors had opened and the previously empty theatre was full of people, many local but also many who had travelled far and wide to catch the final show, and the room was full of anticipation - it was also lovely spotting so many people from the local music scene, all there to send off one of the city's most beloved bands. I took my seat in the furthest corner of the room to catch the support band Brasstronaut play again, however compared to Friday night when I had been at the barrier, I didn't feel quite as connected with the set but enjoyed it just as much, and have since been listening to their recent self titled record on repeat - Raveshadow (official video here) is such a tune!

Similarly, being so far from Stornoway once they took to the stage I felt a little less part of the show but it was lovely to watch how much the music meant to the rest of the audience, who clapped, sang, mexican waved and even stage invaded their way through the performance. While I'm gutted I didn't get to hear The Ones We Hurt The Most live, it's probably for the best as there were enough tears without it... although the set was a wonderfully organised mix of joyous and sad tracks, and it felt like  each time I felt sad the crowd were uplifted with a track like I Saw You Blink or You Take Me As I Am - Tom's energy on stage was also pretty contagious! 

A highlight of the show, again, was an unplugged section in the middle, the same tracks as Friday (a solo November Song from Briggs followed by Get Low and Josephine) and just as beautiful. A little later during the set, lead singer Brian Briggs gave a heartfelt note of thanks to the crowd and the local music scene, saying that "we never dreamed we'd achieve what we've achieved [...] it gives us so much pride and happiness that our music has found its way into your lives [...] thank you for the memories, which we will treasure forever." If I wasn't crying before this point this definitely set me off, but soon after the band were playing their hugely fun cover of Don't You (Forget About Me) and it was a party again! Leaving the crowd with the hit Zorbing, the band responded to the raucous applause with a second encore, performing a track I hadn't heard until the soundcheck, The Old Blind Man, and ended on We Are The Battery Human with a pretty crazy stage invasion (for Stornoway, at least - and especially considering the several foot drop at the front of the stage!)

Once the performance finished I was ushered along with to the venue's back exit with the rest of the crowd, and (rather excitingly) came back into the venue, witnessing the moments after the band came off stage into the green room. Emotions (and champagne) were flowing and it was such a beautiful moment to share with the band, who then attended a signing session, meeting fans and saying some really heartfelt goodbyes which were also pretty beautiful and emotional to witness as I became a sort of unofficial photographer for fans before getting my own photo with 3/4 of the band. 

After the meet and greet, we took to the afterparty, where it was lovely to catch up with some friends, admittedly mostly from Sofar Sounds Oxford - a lovely bunch of people! Taking a taxi home with the Steadmans, Oli and Rob's parents, was somehow the most fitting way to end what was honestly one of the coolest days of my life, a show which I'm really proud to have been just a small part of. Being my first farewell shows I'm fairly surprised by just how much they moved me, isn't music a magical and wonderful thing?! A quick adjustment back to reality now as I carry on with dissertation rewriting before next Friday's deadline...

Tuesday 14 March 2017

LISTEN: Public Service Broadcasting - 'Progress'

Following their hugely successful record The Race For Space (silver certified, no less) the unique and talented Public Service Broadcasting bunch have released Progress, taken from their upcoming record, the details of which are currently under wraps. It's the first ever PSB track to feature guest vocals (if you're not familiar with their tunes, they rely on samples of old public service broadcasts, hence the name), with Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell taking the helm. Listen below...

Along with a couple of festival announcements, the band are playing a London show in Camden's Electric Ballroom on 31st May - tickets go on pre-sale to the mailing list on Wednesday, and general sale at 9am on Friday 17th March (here). I've only been lucky enough to catch them playing a short set at the Roundhouse last year and I'm desperate to catch a headline gig, and this one is set to be pretty special as they debut a bunch of new tracks, alongside the old favourites. 

Saturday 11 March 2017

LIVE: Stornoway at Shepherd's Bush Empire (10/03/17)

With a career as a band spanning ten years, you know it's got to be good when the lead singer says that the gig has been the best of his life. Last night I feel incredibly lucky to have caught Stornoway playing the penultimate show of their farewell tour, a sold out London show at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire. It's been a sad few years for favourite bands of mine parting ways (think Noah & The Whale, Dry The River, Bombay Bicycle Club...) but last night was, I think, the first ever 'farewell' show I've been to. The band's lead singer told us all at the start of the set that it wasn't going to be a sad night, though emotions were running pretty high from crowd and band alike!

Kicking off the evening in style were the tour support Brasstronaut, a band from Vancouver who I hadn't listened to before the show but was super impressed by, a perfect upbeat start to the show. Their self titled album was released back in Feb - check it out on Spotify here and a recent video for Hawk below!

Before the Stornoway chaps took the stage, their violinist Susie Attwood started off first album track The Coldharbour Road with a stunning solo which I couldn't help but tear up to. Performing a mix of tracks from their three brilliant records, the set was a roaring success and the band had the crowd eating from the palm of their hands, with endless rounds of applause filling the room after each track, at which points it was clear just how amazed the band were to be playing the show.

Perhaps the most impressive point of the set, the band left Brian alone on stage to perform November Song. Unplugging his guitar and stepping back from the mic, he performed the track totally unamplified to an adoring 2000-strong crowd. You could hear a pin drop, and the band returned to perform a couple more tracks unplugged, Get Low and Josephine. It says quite a lot about the band and the respect of their audience that they could do that - and it was beautiful, and, of course, met with rapturous applause after each song!

The soundtrack to my recent library sessions has mostly been either Stornoway or 80s playlists (which require a lot of self control to not break out and sing to...) and a couple of tracks later the band combined the two with a super fun cover of Simple Minds' Don't You Forget About Me. (We won't!) Think Mexican waves. In fact - you don't have to imagine as someone has uploaded a video of the cover from the recent Manchester show! With library sessions and my dissertation in mind, I had to record The Great Procrastinator - a track I think most of us can probably relate to! The band finished up the set with the only track they really could, Zorbing, releasing a bunch of beach balls (mini zorbs?) onto the crowd (video) - lots of fun!

The farewell tour rolls into Oxford tomorrow night for another long sold out show at New Theatre, by the end of which I predict there won't be a dry eye in sight. The hometown crowd have got a lot to live up to to match the awesome London crowd last night - but I'm certain Oxford will pull it out the bag for their beloved band! Holding out for my favourite song from the band The Ones We Hurt The Most.... just saying (though last night's set list was pretty spot on!) 

Saturday 4 March 2017

LISTEN: Harry Pane - 'Fletcher Bay'

In my year working with Tigmus I've heard lots of new artists and someone that's really stood out for me has been Harry Pane, who I bumped into recently busking in King's Cross station. He released his Changing EP with a couple of sold out shows over summer, and it's follow-up, The Wild Winds, is set for release on April 7th. The first track from the EP, Fletcher Bay, was premiered online yesterday following a Hoxton Radio premiere last week.

The track is named after 'the idyllic place at the end of the winding Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand', and is a tribute to Harry's father who passed away last year, being the location where he returned to scatter his father's ashes at the end of 2016. The emotion and story behind the lyrics comes through the music and the track is incredibly delicate, a contrast to the likes of the punch-y and loud Cold Light Of Day (making use of some wonderful slide guitar) - it's great to see some variety in the tracks and I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the EP!

Harry supports the release of the EP with his first UK tour taking in the likes of Oxford, Birmingham, Brighton, Winchester and tons more over April... dates and ticket links through his site here! Pre-order the EP on iTunes and follow Harry on Spotify to be the first to hear the rest of the EP!

Wednesday 1 March 2017

WATCH: Banfi release the video for 'Rosedale House'

Following the first night back in November, I managed to catch Banfi again last month playing their second residency show for Communion at Old Blue Last. They're quickly becoming firm favourites of mine with every live performance and new release, I can't wait to get a full EP or album from them! They've just released a stunning new music video for recent track Rosedale House, produced/shot etc by Jake Dypka who also produced their brilliant Happy When You Go video - if you're a fan of cars, time lapse, or good music, then you'll probably love it.

There are some free tickets here for the third show of their Old Blue Last residency, a week today on 8th March - they're also heading out on tour with Bear's Den later in the month, remaining tickets for those shows here!