BANKS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 10th March 2017.

11 03 2017

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One of the best feelings you can experience is waiting years and years to see a band or singer you adore. Not only do you adore them, but they’ve undoubtedly saved your life and made it easy for you to face those days where getting out of bed seems damn near impossible. You’re not brave, but the music and words give you this strength that you never thought you could possess. You don’t know what to do with this strength, but when no one else is around at 3am when you wake yourself up from having a panic attack, the music keeps you safe. The music keeps you sane. You have a small support network but those people aren’t close by. You cling to what you can, when you can.

Since 2013 I’ve been obsessed with Banks. Her words got me through something that in some ways, I put myself through a few years before. A situation I was too immature and fucked up to handle. The songs on Goddess made me see how badly I had hurt someone I loved and adored. Fast forward a few years, and we’re together. The songs don’t hurt as much. We’ve both healed. Time can heal. Goddess is built on songs that ooze hurt and pain, but they give you strength. The Altar is a body of work that shows honesty and vulnerability in a way that again, gives strength. That’s what Banks embodies- strength and love for yourself. Her songs are a form of healing and clarity.

Her set opens with the chilling Poltergeist. Using two microphones to distort the vocals, Banks has this stage presence that hits you right away. The way she focuses on the dance routine during this song is nothing short of hypnotising. Your eyes are hooked on every mood she and her dancers make, and the songs suddenly take on a whole new meaning. Banks moves like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Her moves are so delicate and well thought out. She reminds me so much of Aaliyah with the way she carries herself and glides across the stage.

There are so many stand out moments from the show last night that made me realise that her songs are more than just words and music. To see them come to life like this was mind blowing. Every part of me just wanted to sing a long, but all I could do was gaze in awe. The person I’ve been using as a crutch for so long was right there. One of the most beautiful points of the show was her asking everyone to put their phones away, and she performed a fragile version of Better. This song performed this way just changed everything. It took the song elsewhere, and you just connected in a completely different way. Mother Earth was the song I feel broke and fixed hearts and minds. Lyrically, it is probably one of the best songs Banks has written so far. The way she is so open and so pure when she performs this song just melts your heart. I knew it would be the song to break me and make me cry, it just has this power but in the best way imaginable. You just feel when you hear it that you can possibly take anything on and that she is right there with you going through it all. She gives you so much hope with this song, and I cannot thank her enough for it.

This Is What It Feels Like is one of the songs I was massively looking forward to. It was one of the first songs I heard from her, and she dedicated it to all those who had been there from the start. The way she choreographed her hands as she sang This Is What It Feels Like is so captivating. Drowning also left me hypnotised. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the stage and it was sung with such determination and power. Beggin’ For Thread was just absolutely one of my favourite songs from the set, and it just made me so happy to see this song come to life like this. Her dancers add this eerie feeling to the whole set that just lures you in, deep into this world in the most comforting way.

A large part of the show was songs from The Altar which was easily one of the best and most underrated records of last year. Since September I’ve played it religiously. It’s been a record that has eased me out of a state after I’ve had a panic attack, and her voice just soothes my head. Trainwreck is performed with such attitude as is Gemini Feed and of course, Fuck With Myself. The way she performs these songs just gives you this belief that you’re as tough as her. Weaker Girl is again, another mind blowing performance. The way everyone shouts “I’ma need a bad motherfucker like me” is incredible. Every song is just screamed back at her, it makes you feel like you’re in an arena not an old church in the middle of Manchester. She has the crowd right where they should be, and none of us want to ever leave.

Judas and Haunt again bring out this bold and brave side. Judas especially is performed with this venom that makes you feel the hurt she’s experienced from whoever or whatever has hurt her. I know I’ve said it countless of times before about her, but when she does this you just truly connect to the music. She’s so easy to connect with and to feel, and believe in every single word. I don’t even know what I did before I had her music.

The set ends with 27 Hours followed by This Is Not About Us. Of course there are other songs I would have loved to have heard but that’s just for my own personal sentimental value. The set was nothing short of perfect, and if anything, I’d have just wanted her to stay on stage for hours. Her dancers, her band, and her stage presence- just everything felt like something that came purely from the heart and soul. Wherever she goes when she performs these songs, she takes you with her.

It didn’t end just there. Before we went to the show, I wrote a letter to give her. The letter consisted of me telling her how much her music has helped and healed. How it still does, and how it gets me through my own hell. I handed the letter to her, and as we hugged, I had to tell her something I had needed to say for so long. I told her that she had saved my life. A bold and big statement that is entirely the truth. This was more than just a concert. It did something that no other show has ever done to me. I’ll keep its meaning close to me and go to it when it all seems too much. There is so much more I could say about the show last night, but if you were there or if you’ve seen her live- then you’ll understand exactly what it is that her music and her presence does.





L.A. WITCH: The Lexington, 18th February 2017.

20 02 2017

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If you’re a fan of the phenomenal L.A. Witch you’ll have seen that some low life decided to steal some of their gear after their show in Bristol last week. For some, they may have just packed up, cancelled the tour and headed home. Not L.A. Witch. They’re doing this tour until the very end and putting their all into every single show. The kindness and love from fellow fans and musicians has been overwhelming and just beautiful to see. I don’t think I’ve seen a bunch of people rally round like this, and it’s just a wonderful thing to see. For every shitty situation, there’s always some good. It’s the kindness of others that gets you through in instances like this.

I saw their first ever show in London in November at the Shacklewell Arms. A bunch of us crammed into a small, sweaty room to finally witness one of the best bands around. I’ve been going on and on about their music for 3 or 4 years now, and to have finally seen them last November was just a real highlight for me. To see them on Saturday? Oh man, it towers over that show for sure.

Their show at The Lexington was nothing short of divine. You could tell that they were playing with slight caution at the start, especially Sade as she was borrowing a guitar and pedals. However, the nerves slipped away with ease as she held that guitar as if it was her own. The way they played had no indication of what had happened a few nights before, but I noticed there was something about them this time that really hit me. They played with this unbelievable force and passion that made you just want to jump on stage and join in. They made you want to be part of their gang. It must be said that Ellie is a fantastic drummer and the way she basically annihilates the drums during Kill My Baby and Ain’t Comin’ Home is insane. For the most part she makes you wish you could play the drums, but for the remainder you just stare in awe of her beating the shit out of the drum kit.

Hearing songs like Good Guys and You Love Nothing was so great, especially as I don’t think Good Guys is really played much, or maybe at all. Heart Of Darkness closes the set. Irita really owns the set with her bass on Drive Your Car, and Sade rips into the song, Brian with this fury that is so wonderfully captivating.

As I gazed upon the stage, no part of me could think of a band that they reminded me of. I really cannot think of anyone or anything I have heard before, and I was instantly shot back in time to when I first heard them in 2013. It just smacks you blissfully in the face. I love being able to hear songs like Get Lost live because these early songs are the ones that had me hooked completely. Get Lost is a real highlight of the set because at the end, they just really let rip. It’s such a raucous song and they just do it so perfectly well in their set.  I guess part of me really loves them so much because if I had any musical talent, I’d want to sound like L.A. Witch. I stood with my eyes closed a lot and swayed during a few of their songs, just letting the music take me wherever. I’m having a really shit time at the moment, and I just wanted to hear something that would take me out of my mind and body. They most certainly did that, and for that hour or so- nothing in the world, nothing in my head mattered. I remember vividly closing my eyes during Ain’t Comin’ Home and just being covered in goose bumps. Most definitely one of the best shows I’ve been to in a long time and easily one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live.

Each song is played with this way of just leaving you stunned, there is simply no denying just how great this band is and with their debut record FINALLY coming out this summer- I think everyone is finally going to realise just how brilliant they are and I have every ounce of faith that their debut record is probably going to get played to death by me, easily.

I managed to get the set list from the show, so if you’re interested they played:

Intro

You Love Nothing

Kill My Baby Tonight

Brian

Untitled

Ain’t Comin’ Home

Sleep

Feel Alright

Drive Your Car

Baby In Blue

Get Lost

Encore:

Good Guys

Heart Of Darkness.

 





MACHIINE: The Shacklewell Arms, 20th January 2017.

20 01 2017

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I’m fairly sure I have just witnessed one of the best live bands around and have probably been to a gig that might end up being my best of the year. I’ve got others lined up, but this one is staying etched upon my brain. I can’t unsee any of it and nor do I want to.

Made up of members from The Underground Youth, Peace And Love Barbershop Muhammad Ali and PINS- Machiine just ripped a hole right through the Shacklewell Arms with no apologies. They completely and utterly destroyed the place with their destructive and rambunctious sound. The kind of sound that makes you want to make your own noise.

I have seen many great shows at this venue and I can honestly say I’ve not seen anything like this before. They blitz through their debut Teaser EP with also a phenomenal cover of Garland Jeffreys track, Wild In The Streets. I remember hearing that song when I was super young on MTV and it stuck with me. To hear a band like Machiine turn it into a brilliantly smutty affair was great, they made it theirs and more.

Craig and Mark prowl on the stage and circle the floor. The stage is too small to hold all seven of them. Each band member plays as if they have been in Machiine for decades and decades, they don’t sound brand new- but their sound is so unique. I think also, not knowing what to expect truly made this show what it was- sensational. That’s the only word. I’ve left wanting to start my own band but I have no musical talent, so I’ll just write about it instead. I can happily say that this is one of the most in your face and most rowdy shows I’ve been to. It was the right kind of confrontational and the way Mark and Craig are with each other is brilliant. Mark has this impish grin on his face as they rip through What Bad Boys Do whereas Craig leaves you in awe wondering where he goes when he performs the songs. Each band member takes you on their own journey. Ola bangs the drums and shakes the tambourine as if her life depends on it, and keeps the steady pace and groove of the sounds. Honestly, if you weren’t there- you messed up. You missed out.

I hope this is only just the start, a taster of what is to come because there is sincerely nothing stopping Machiine from not only being YOUR favourite band, but a band that rule the airwaves and the world. Give them the world, save us all. The crowd did seem a little reserved but maybe they just didn’t know what to expect, but trust me when they come your way and into town- go see them. Don’t pay attention to the crowd, just do whatever the hell you want.