Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: live review

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Blogtober Day 8: You Me At Six – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 07/10/18

Another Sunday, another trip to Sound Knowledge, this time to see the indefatigable You Me At Six. It’s been a busy couple of years for the band – this is their second full-length release in the space of eighteen months – and this show was […]

Blogtober Day 3: Kodaline – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 30/09/18

Blogtober Day 3: Kodaline – Sound Knowledge, Marlborough, 30/09/18

With a bite in the breeze and the night drawing in fast, standing in the courtyard outside Cafe Thirty8 on Sunday evening proved that autumn has well and truly arrived. It’s the perfect season for listening to a band like Kodaline: their indie-pop is laced […]

Review: Deaf Havana – Sound Knowledge Marlborough, 09/08/18

Review: Deaf Havana – Sound Knowledge Marlborough, 09/08/18

With the heatwave over and a cool breeze in the air, it was the perfect day for a family-friendly acoustic set. Taking place in the courtyard outside Sound Knowledge and Cafe Thirty8 at lunchtime, an eager group of fans were thanking their lucky stars for being able to get the time off work to come and see this intimate performance from one of Britain’s brightest.

Deaf Havana have been playing stripped back sets across the country to celebrate the release of their fifth album, Rituals, which came out last Friday. On tape it’s a much bouncier affair than the quintet’s previous offerings, leaning towards the pop side of pop-punk, but this outing presented the songs in a vastly different style.

Opening with lead single Sinner, singer James Veck-Gilodi and keyboardist Max Britton took the dance vibes out of the track, swinging the focus onto the lyrics and Veck-Gilodi’s vocal performance. With thirteen years of experience under his belt it’ll come as no surprise that he was note-perfect, unfazed by the up close and personal nature of the crowd.

The raw emotion in the new material is thrilling, Veck-Gilodi exposing his darkest thoughts and doubts throughout songs like Hell (“I don’t really know what I’m doing, and I’m sorry I put you through this/But I never said I’d treat you right”) and Ritual (“Maybe the darkness took hold of me/Maybe I’m just scared of reality/To tell you the truth I’ve never felt so lost”).

Although the tracks sound more upbeat, the lyrics are the most honest that the band have released and they lend themselves beautifully to acoustic performances. It’s easy to compare to The 1975, known for wrapping highly emotive lyrics in sugary sweet songs, but it’s also possible to see similarities with chart-topper Sam Smith (particularly throughout Holy, which contains echoes of Too Good At Goodbyes).

Taking place outside in a market town, the duo did have to compete with external forces: a wailing car alarm interrupting Veck-Gilodi while he was talking to the crowd, while a police siren caused him to grin and almost lose his composure just after the first line of Fever.

Turning towards the people eating outside Cafe Thirty8 just before the launched into closing track Ritual, he joked, “Sorry for ruining your lunch by the way guys, I promise I’ll be gone soon!”. With a voice like his, I can’t imagine anyone being offended by an unexpected musical accompaniment with their caesar salads.

Deaf Havana are drawing on their influences and combining them in an audibly pleasing blend, but they’ve still got the spark which has helped them prevail time and again throughout the past decade. Slipping in two tracks from All These Countless Nights – Fever and Happiness – it’s clear to see that the new album complements the band’s previous release, but it’ll be interesting to see how well it works with their older material when they tour (an outing which Veck-Gilodi hinted will be happening towards the end of this year or early next year)

Setlist:

Sinner
Hell
Holy
Happiness
Fever
Ritual

 

As soon as the set was over, Veck-Gilodi and Britton were joined by the other three members of Deaf Havana to sign copies of their new album behind the desk of Sound Knowledge. As you can see, we took our daughter so that she could experience live music for the first time, and she even got to meet the band. I’d like to say a huge thank you to the guys for taking the time to get a picture with the three of us. I can’t wait to show her when she’s older!

Alyce

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Review: Waterparks – KOKO, 04/03/2018

Review: Waterparks – KOKO, 04/03/2018

Fresh from finishing their biggest UK headline tour to date, Dead! were the heaviest band on this line-up and they took advantage of that fact from the word go. Kicking off their set with The Boys The Boys – a song reminiscent of Kids In Glass Houses’ Animals […]

Review: The Wombats – Sound Knowledge Marlborough, 14/02/2018

Review: The Wombats – Sound Knowledge Marlborough, 14/02/2018

Although the relentless rain refused to stop for a single second, the room – and the courtyard outside – were packed with people desperate to see The Wombats. The Liverpudlian trio have built a loyal fanbase over the past 15 years, and with the release of […]

Review: Highly Suspect – O2 Forum Kentish Town, 08/02/2018

Review: Highly Suspect – O2 Forum Kentish Town, 08/02/2018

Almost a year has passed since Highly Suspect last toured the UK, but it’s been an uncharacteristically quiet one for the rock ‘n’ rollers. After releasing two full-length albums in the space of 16 months, the Massachusetts trio have presumably spent the past year working on what will eventually become their third album.

The queue outside snaked around the venue and down an alleyway, fans braving the chilly February evening to secure a place close to the stage. Bursting through the doors they were greeted by DJ Redbees, who performed at the start of the evening and later filled the time between Welles and Highly Suspect. With both bands falling on the heavier side of the rock spectrum, the thumping, repetitive bassline was completely incongruous. It wasn’t too surprising that the majority of people in the audience seemed to completely tune out the music, making the cheer when Welles appeared all the more enthusiastic.

Welles
Welles getting the crowd warmed up

Until 2017 Welles was known as Jeh Sea Wells, but last year’s rebrand saw him joining forces with a band and beginning to perform under a new name. Squeezing seven songs into a half an hour set, Welles heavy rock sound perfectly complemented Highly Suspect and explained why they’re both signed to 300 Entertainment.

Although it was a relief to hear guitars and drums after the ceaselessly looping dance beat, the majority of Welles’ songs verged on bland. Into Ashes had interesting guitar lines but extremely repetitive lyrics, while Seventeen – a song which “is about being seventeen” – plodded along at a remarkably slow pace.

However, the boring tracks were alternated with frenetic, absorbing pieces. Rock ‘n’ Roll builds slowly but eventually reaches an explosive outro, while Life Like Mine was a brilliant closer and left the crowd begging for more. Codeine – “about doing druuuuuuuuuuuugs” – promoted the rockstar lifestyle, and got the majority of people in the audience nodding their heads.

Welles have a lot of potential, but they haven’t quite worked out how to use it yet. They’re definitely worth keeping an eye on, though, if only because Wells vocal tone is utterly unique and helps them stand out from the crowd.

Setlist:

How Sweet It Is To Love
Into Ashes
Rock ‘n’ Roll
Codeine
Hold Me Like I’m Leaving
Seventeen
Life Like Mine

After another half an hour of DJ Redbees, it was finally time for Highly Suspect to take to the stage. With DJ Redbees closing his set by playing F.W.Y.T., the Grammy-nominated rockers were welcomed to the stage with their own song, and they dived into their set at a breakneck pace.

Playing Bath Salts, Lost and Bloodfeather back-to-back caused the audience to explode into action, beers being thrown in all directions as they warmed up their dancing shoes. Starting with three of their heaviest songs – undoubtedly fan favourites – was a brave move, but it worked perfectly. The crowd were sucked into the set from the start, and their attention hardly wavered for the entirely of Highly Suspect’s stage time.

Pausing for a moment before Viper Strike, vocalist Johnny Stevens shared that there were “a couple of things to keep in mind about America: I want to have sex with all of you, and fuck President Trump!”. The jeering crowd elicited an uncharacteristic smirk from the usually solemn Stevens, before he mumbled his way through the opening verse of their vitriolic attack on Trump.

Slowing things down after Fuck Me Up, it was time for bassist Rich Meyer to take over vocal duties. Although Round and Round doesn’t appear on either of Highly Suspect’s studio albums, a large amount of the crowd must have been close followers of the band as they still sang along to every word.

In fact, the crowd only stopped singing for one song: the untitled new song which the band sneaked into the set after Lydia. 

As you can hear, it’s quintessential Highly Suspect. If this is the direction that their third album is going in, it’s extremely promising: they’re a band who’re sticking to their roots, not allowing the success of second album The Boy Who Died Wolf to go to their heads, while still developing in an almost rap-rock direction reminiscent of Prophets of Rage.

Wrapping up the set with the double-hitter of Claudeland and ATL, Stevens quipped, “I think it’s time for a dance party!” If you’ve seen Highly Suspect before, you’ll know that ATL is often split in half with a drum solo, and the band went bigger and better than ever before, allowing half an hour to elapse between the beginning of Claudeland and them leaving the stage before the encore. Stevens even had a sneaky smoke on stage, effortlessly embodying the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle that Welles were trying so hard to promote.

Saving some of their best songs until last, the band performed a five song encore featuring three of their biggest singles: Little OneSerotonia and My Name Is Human.

When the latter finished a notable amount of the crowd began melting away into the night, but anyone who left early missed a special closer in the shape of Look Alive, Stay Alive. Following the melancholy, heartrending WolfLook Alive, Stay Alive showed the band using up the last of their energy, drummer Ryan Meyer handing over his sticks to an unidentified player as he dived into the crowd.

It’s impossible to resist having fun at a Highly Suspect show. There wasn’t a person in the room who left without a huge grin on their face, sweating pouring down their limbs from the exertion of dancing for over 90 minutes. With that anticipated third album hovering elusively on the horizon, Highly Suspect are only going to get bigger and better from here.

Setlist:

F.W.Y.T. (intro)
Bath Salts
Lost
Bloodfeather
Viper Strike
Fuck Me Up
Round and Round
Lydia
– (untitled new song)
Claudeland
ATL

Little One
Serotonia
My Name Is Human
Wolf
Look Alive, Stay Alive

 

I’m going to be retouching the images within the next couple of days, because I’ve started using a new photo editing software and I’m really not getting on with it. Apologies for the low quality shots, but I needed to get the review up and I thought it was better to have something rather than nothing!

 

Alyce

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Review: Don Broco – HMV Oxford Street, 02/02/18

Review: Don Broco – HMV Oxford Street, 02/02/18

To celebrate the release of Don Broco’s third album, Technology, the four Bedford boys decided to precede their UK headline tour with a series of acoustic sets and signings. With the band arriving 30 minutes later than expected, eager fans were treated to a playback of Technology […]

Review: Frank Turner – Level III Swindon, 20/01/2018

Review: Frank Turner – Level III Swindon, 20/01/2018

On the 5th of January, Level III announced that it would be closing indefinitely following Frank Turner’s show. The timing is ironic, considering how fiercely Turner has campaigned to save small venues around the country. At least it meant that the venue was going out on […]

Review: Paramore – The O2 Arena, 12/01/2018

Review: Paramore – The O2 Arena, 12/01/2018

With last year’s intimate UK tour completely selling out, Paramore’s return to UK arenas was bound to be huge. The trio decided to use the opportunity to party with their friends – and frontwoman Hayley Williams’ favourite band – mewithoutYou.

The Pennsylvanian four-piece have recently celebrated the 15-year anniversary of their debut album, [A–>B] Life, but decided to forego playing material from their first album in this set. Instead, their 40-minute stage time was filled with an eclectic mix of material drawn from their recent back catalogue. They used the opportunity to demonstrate exactly what mewithoutYou are about to anyone in the crowd who was unfamiliar with the band.

Opening the set with Torches Together, mewithoutYou’s penchant for spoken word poetry made them instantly comparable to The Front Bottoms and La Dispute. That type of music has never effectively broken into the mainstream, but mewithoutYou have been a band for 18 years – they’re definitely doing something right.

 

It helps that they move between styles so smoothly. Vocalist Aaron Weiss performed the first two songs knelt on a rug on the floor, microphone tipped down towards his face. During Goodbye, I!, though, he grabbed a guitar and started to sing rather than speak, proving that he’s not a one-trick pony. Their music shifted again during penultimate track Nine Stories. It builds to a roaring climax as Weiss screams “I wake up disappointed every time”, leading into a funky breakdown that finally got the audience moving.

Sadly, the lack of interaction with the crowd made the band seem introspective, causing the room to remain disinterested during the larger portion of their set. It’s a peril of appearing before a band like Paramore: they’re high octane, remaining completely captivating even during the more subdued moments of their set. Unfortunately, mewithoutYou just don’t have the same kind of draw. Although they will have created new fans with their performance, the majority of the audience were just politely waiting for them to get off stage so Paramore’s set could begin.

Setlist:

Torches Together
C-Minor
Goodbye, I!
Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume
Red Cow
Timothy Hay
January 1979
Nine Stories
All Circles

Paramore last appeared at the O2 Arena back in 2010, just over a year after the release of Brand New Eyes. A lot has changed for the band since then. As frontwoman Hayley Williams herself said, “It’s been an honour to grow up with so many of you, to tell you our stories”, and the band have unquestionably matured in the public eye, allowing their fans to witness each and every emotional upheaval that they’ve been through.

Not only have they parted ways with three founding members (and reconnected with one of them, drummer Zac Farro), Williams opened up about her ongoing struggle with depression. Despite the hard times that they’ve experienced, the band have still managed to produce two successful albums – 2013’s Paramore and 2017’s After Laughter – emerging on the other side stronger than ever before.

The material from After Laughter sounds even sweeter in an arena setting. Tracks from last year’s lyrically honest and emotionally raw release filled half of their setlist, evidence of how strongly the band support it.

Opener Hard Times now comes with a brand new extended introduction. Building gradually, it electrified the atmosphere while the crowd impatiently waited for the three-piece to take to the stage. When the song finally kicked in the screams were deafening, hundreds of members of the audience surging forwards in a desperate attempt to get closer.

That level of uncontainable excitement continued throughout Ignorance – complete with Williams holding a megaphone up to her mic and yelling the chorus into it – and Still Into You (which Williams dedicated “to Paramore”). Forgiveness was a brief moment of calm, allowing the crowd to catch their breath before bouncing into Fake Happy, their deceptively upbeat recent single which explores the difference between how you look and how you truly feel.

Rather than continually alternating new and old, the band made the brave choice to perform four new songs back-to-back towards the end of the main set. Second single Told You So has received a lot of love since before After Laughter hit the shelves, while Caught in the Middle and Idle Worship are well on their way to becoming firm fan favourites.

However, No Friend has continually struggled to get the appreciation that it deserves. That’s because it’s vastly different to every song Paramore have ever released. The only vocals that appear on the track are those of mewithoutYou’s Aaron Weiss, and those are distorted and obscured, almost impossible to decipher.

Aaron Weiss reappeared to perform vocals on No Friend.

With Weiss in the building his return to stage wasn’t surprising, but what shocking was the pure emotion pouring from Williams and guitarist Taylor York. The moment Weiss set foot on the stage, Williams fell to her knees, rocking backwards and forwards inconsolably, seemingly possessed by pain and regret. York remained composed while playing, but as soon as he’d finished playing he put down his guitar, crouching at the front of the stage and taking heaving breaths as the song reached its conclusion. It was an unforgettable performance, and the most powerful part of the show.

Another memorable moment occurred in the encore, with Farro stepping out from behind his drums and taking over vocal duty. Playing a cover of French Class by HalfNoise, Farro’s solo project, the camaraderie between the band members made it impossible not to enjoy the indie-pop track. With Williams alternating between drumming and singing backing vocals and the two singers breaking into an impromptu dance routine mid-song, it was an imperfect yet intimate performance.

Drummer Zac Farro showed off his vocal skills while performing French Class by his other band, HalfNoise.

Before starting closer Rose-Colored Boy, Williams quietened the crowd down before wandering around the stage, giving individual introductions to all of the touring members who perform with Paramore. Cheers echoed throughout the venue in appreciation of Justin York (guitarist Taylor York’s brother), Joey Howard, Logan MacKenzie and Joseph Mullen, who all bring their own special spark to Paramore’s live show.

It’s a reminder of an undeniable fact: Paramore are a band. The popularity of their frontwoman is irrelevant, because this is not the Hayley Williams show (although that knowledge seems to be lost on some publications). Not only do Farro and York bring an insane amount of talent to each performance, but the four touring members do too.

Yes, Williams is a captivating frontwoman with ridiculous vocal skills, limitless amounts of charisma and an irrepressible energy, but there’s a reason she’s not a solo artist. Every person on that stage brings something important to the proceedings, and it wouldn’t be a Paramore set without each and every one of them. It’s the reason that Williams chants “We are Paramore!” at the end of the night, extending that claim to every member of the audience who put on their dancing shoes and lent their vocals to the raucous singalongs throughout the set.

Setlist:

Hard Times
Ignorance
Still Into You
Forgiveness
Fake Happy
That’s What You Get
I Caught Myself
Pool
Hate To See Your Heart Break
Caught in the Middle
Told You So
Idle Worship
No Friend
Misery Business
Ain’t It Fun

Grow Up
French Class (HalfNoise cover)
Rose-Colored Boy

Before Hate To See Your Heart Break, Williams admitted, “If I hadn’t been playing music with my friends it would have been a much worse 2017,” and it’s fantastic to see Paramore starting 2018 by playing shows of this size. There are rumours that the band are going to pop up on the UK festival circuit this summer, but they’re are yet to confirm further UK tour plans. Fingers crossed there will be news soon.

Alyce

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Review: Fall Out Boy – Electric Brixton, 11/01/2018

Review: Fall Out Boy – Electric Brixton, 11/01/2018

When Fall Out Boy announced three intimate European shows, it was clear that they were going to sell out fast. Tickets to their show at Electric Brixton were snapped up within seconds of going on sale, hardcore fans desperate to see the Chicago quartet at […]