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.

 





THE DAMNED: Brixton Academy, 26th November 2016.

27 11 2016

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There are some feelings in the world that cannot be replicated. Seeing one of the bands that changed your life, the band you absolutely adore and play religious every day live for the first time is one of those feelings. Last night after waiting for what seemed an eternity, I finally saw mine- I saw The Damned live. To make it even better, it was their first record in full. The record I play every morning whilst I get ready for work. The record that can sometimes keep a brewing panic attack at bay. This show was going to mean more to me than just seeing a band I love live. It was something else.

The crowd, I have to say, were amazing. Everyone was so friendly and just genuine, lovely people.  I’ve been to too many shows where some dickhead spoils it for everyone. It was a dickhead free zone last night. Everyone knew of the importance of the show, the importance of The Damned. The next 2 hours were going to justify this.

The band walk on to the stage, Captain Sensible tells the sound guy to turn the music on the PA off. He blames Genesis and YES for Punk starting; for the bad we all got the good. The band rip into Neat Neat Neat and Dave glides onto the stage like some kind of messiah. Is this how people feel when they are faced with a religious experience? For me, this went deeper.

The first part of the show is their debut record in full. I was finally seeing the songs that keep me together right before me. The songs that clear my mind and make everything alright for a short amount of time. The songs that made me fall for Punk at such a young age. Maybe it is a typical thing to pick up on, but the way in which Dave leans into the crowd and says, “Is she really going out with him?” And they launch right into New Rose just blows my mind and is easily one of the best moments in the set. That song started it all 40 years ago and it still feels brand new.

I Fall and See Her Tonite are two from the first set that really stood out for me, just because I love them and the energy they all have when they play them. At one point during the set, Captain Sensible chases Stu round the stage in a playful schoolboy manner. It is so endearing and beautiful to watch. To see a band that have been around for so long and play with this wealth of energy is astounding. They are still one of the most influential bands around, and last night truly showed that.

Anyone who has seen The Damned over the past 20 years will know about Monty. He is someone you cannot take your eyes away from. He moves about on the stage as if he has successfully done a stage invasion but nobody minded, so he stays. He’s hilarious and a joy to watch. His energy feels like the backbone of their live shows. He sings along to the first set as if he is a fan in the crowd.

I’ve been to so many gigs but I doubt any will leave this kind of imprint in my mind. There is something about seeing one of your favourite bands of all time live that just does something to you that nothing else can. You just know that it will always stay with you.

Some may assume that Punk is dead but it really isn’t. It’s an attitude. It sure as hell isn’t taking a bunch of artefacts and burning them because you don’t agree with certain people backing 40 years of Punk. No names need to be mentioned. For me, The Damned last night showed us exactly why and how Punk will never die out. Before they went into their second set Captain said that a lot of people expected them to just go away after the first record- how wrong they were!

The Damned are a band that I hold so dear to me for so many reason, and to have finally seen them live and to see Damned Damned Damned performed in its entirety is just everything to me. I know I sound like a boring old so and so, but it was truly one of the best shows I’ve ever been to. They all conduct the crowd in their own way, and when Captain through his red beret into the crowd at the end, and Dave threw his arms around him- that’s when you knew. You just knew that this band are going to always have a firm plac





L.A.WITCH. The Shacklewell Arms, 18th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Much like last night with FINALLY getting to see The Vacant Lots live after waiting for what seemed an age- I started it off with L.A. Witch on Friday at The Shacklewell Arms. There’s something truly moving about seeing a band you’re really into, in your favourite venue.

I first wrote about L.A. Witch in 2013, and since then I’ve just been waiting and waiting to see them live. When I heard they were supporting The Kills on their US tour this year, every part of me wish I had a lot of money and wasn’t scared of flying so I could go see them. There’s really no better band to support The Kills, that’s for sure. When I heard they were playing London I bought myself a ticket the second they went on sale. I didn’t care if I was the only one there or if it was going to be rammed- I was going. Nothing and no one would get in my way.

They opened their set with the insane Kill My Baby Tonight and ended with Get Lost. What happened in between was a mind-blowing affair and something I wish I could experience all of the time. It’s a high, a sensation that stays with you and you find yourself comparing every show to it. This was their first ever London show, and I kept thinking, “Is this how people felt when they saw the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free?” Maybe. Maybe not. I’m going with a firm yes on this one because it was THAT good.

The band are fronted by Sade who projects this captivating voice that makes you feel as if Ronnie Spector has picked up a guitar and listened to some Garage Rock. Maybe that’s what drew me in this first place all those years ago. Everything about L.A. Witch is just so effortlessly brilliant and the right kind of cool. Yeah, I know the word “cool” is so redundant but certain people are worthy of it. L.A. Witch most definitely are.

I’m pretty sure that the venue was filled over capacity but who cares? Our crammed and sweaty bodies were too busy falling in love with the band. Nothing mattered. The outside world wasn’t getting in and rules weren’t not being applied. And rightfully so. If you’ve ever formed an attachment to a band and just wanted to go to every show they do, then you might understand my love for L.A. Witch and why one show just doesn’t feel enough. If I had the holiday time and the money, I would have happily done the whole tour.

I was in awe of their performance and how much everyone loved them. When a band you’ve backed for so long come to the place where you live, it just means so much to you. And I am not ashamed in stating that I felt like a proud parent as I gazed at the stage at these 3 wonderfully talented people. Some people spend their Friday nights getting wasted, but I’ll take seeing a band like this any day. I always thought that when I finally saw L.A. Witch live, it would have to be in a cramped and sweaty setting. My wish was granted. This is how they should be heard.

Irita makes you wish you could play bass, Ellie makes you want to beat the shit out of the drums and Sade makes you wish you could make a crowd swoon and sway with your hypnotic guitar grooves and vocals. Three is truly the magic number, L.A. Witch completely and utterly back this theory.

I’ve said it many times before but there really is something special about seeing a band you’ve loved for so long live. It’s a feeling that stays with you, it’s a feeling you constantly crave. Once is most certainly not enough here, so here’s hoping they come back soon!





THE VACANT LOTS: Moth Club, 20th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Ever waited what seemed an eternity to see a band you absolutely adore? Have you tried to see them previously and things get in your way? Was nothing going to stop you this time? I get it, I really do. It happened twice to me this weekend and I’m going to write about both- starting with last night.

I first wrote about The Vacant Lots around 2 years ago. I wrote about them after spending a few months listening to them prior and trying to process what they meant to me, and how the music made me feel. I’ve probably been too quick at times writing about a band without taking the time to understand what’s going on, but I write as a fan and not some person who’s employed to over hype a load of bullshit gullible souls will buy into. Last night I took myself on a 5 minute bus journey to the Moth Club. The perks of being close to decent venues in a city I’ve grown to dislike. Get me out, please. Live music is my escape for the things that weigh me down. The Vacant Lots felt like something else last night. Whatever happened for that hour or so will stay with me. I wasn’t trapped in a place that harms my mind, it was taken elsewhere. But you want to know about the show, right?

Their set opens with Departure. If this wasn’t going to make the crowd pumped, I really don’t know what would. I was internally praying for High And Low to be played but I was also hoping for Paint This City because that’s on the same level. Paint The City made the set and I’m pretty sure I had my eyes closed for that whole song. When you hear the songs that get you out of any jam your brain traps you in, you do your best to zone out. Zone out was exactly what I did. I felt like no one was around me and everything was as alright as can be.

The Vacant Lots are a fascinating band to watch. As Jared shuts his eyes during the songs, you wonder where his mind is going. Brian’s face expresses so much during certain songs- you identify with everything that is happening on stage because these are the songs that have held you together so for some time. The way Jared prowls about on the stage holding his guitar as if it is a weapon, and at the end of the set bashes it up against the ceiling to create even more noise. Exactly 2 years ago I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain for the first time in Manchester, and I left with a comforting ringing in my ear. Go forward 2 years and it is happening again. Nothing really happened last year, mind. The Vacant Lots are part dreamy, part riot. You don’t know what you’re going to get and they leave you on edge. As someone who has really shit anxiety, I, for some reason find this massively comforting. I didn’t know what to expect during every song and I love that. I love when a band takes you right into the belly of the unknown and away from what surrounds you.

Mad Mary Jones sends everyone off into a whirl but I’m standing by Paint This City being the highlight for me. Some bands, as I’ve mentioned many times before, hold this notion of being something sacred. Something that is your escape, and yours to keep. For me, The Vacant Lots capture this so well. I didn’t make their last London show, but I saw photos of Jared’s bloody guitar. Part of me was hoping for blood last night but I got something better- I saw the real heart of The Vacant Lots.

Their Berlin EP comes out this Friday and I’ll put a review up this week as they are selling copies at their shows this week. If you go see them, buy a copy.

As I mentioned at the start, when you wait so long to see a band you absolutely adore- it means the world to you and it stays with you. I can safely say that this was one of the most emotional and intense shows I’ve been to in a long time.





CROCODILES: Night And Day Cafe. 14th October 2016

16 10 2016


I feel I use my holiday allowance from work wisely-to go see bands. Sure I could save up and have a proper holiday, but seeing as my passport has just ran out and I don’t have the money to renew it, I go for sensible options such as going to different cities here to see my favourite bands. Friday night was no exception.

It’s not a lot, but Friday was my tenth time seeing Crocodiles. From finding their debut record by accident to this. I can’t think of any other band I could admire and respect as much as this. Easily the hardest working and most dedicated bunch of people I’ve ever met, and it truly comes through in their music, and in their shows.

This Friday (21st) sees the release of their new record, Dreamless. It picks up where Boys left off and takes you into another direction, again. The fact that none of their records sound the same makes them easy to just love and never shy away from having them on repeat. Their live shows are addictive and I think a lot of the time it can be to do with the crowd. I’ve seen them mainly in London but I’ve always found Manchester crowds to be the best. Not just for their shows, but in general. Night And Day is the perfect place to see Crocodiles. It’s just the right size and the atmosphere is how you imagine it should be when you see a band you love. I marked the occasion by, when leaving the venue, taking the poster of the gig from a board outside. I’ll get a frame for it, because I’m that sentimental.

The set is a solid mix of all albums. All of them make you leave the show feeling as if you should pick up an instrument and make your own noise. If you watch Charlie and you leave not wanting to play the guitar, then you missed the point entirely. They’re the band you need to see when everything seems a bit askew. Songs from the new record sound amazing live, and for purely personal reasons my highlight was Telepathic Lover. It’s not only my favourite song of the year but when I first heard it a few months ago, I knew instantly that it was my favourite song by them. The lyrics are ones I hold very close to me and helped with a lot upon hearing it. I owe them for that.

Songs like I Wanna Kill and Neon Jesus are always a pleasure to see live. Mirrors always unleashes a gentle but stirring rage inside.But for me, it’s their cover of Jet Boy Jet Girl that does it. Accompanied with an intro by Charlie, “this is from 1970 fuck you.” 

And just like that, it’s all over. Here’s to another ten shows and beyond. If someone told me to pick just one band to see live for the rest of time, I would easily pick Crocodiles. There’s something about them that makes me feel like I’m not in this lifetime. I love watching each of them on stage because each of them have this magnetic quality about them. They make it all look so easy. So effortlessly cool, it’s like Lou Reed has come back to life with Joey Ramone in tow. They take everything I love about music and make something that I’ve never heard before. As they take us on a journey through each of their records, you can’t help but wonder why they are so underrated? I have no idea why but it’s obvious how hard-working they are, and how loved they are by those at the show.

As mentioned, Dreamless is out this Friday. Buy it, learn the words and I’ll see you at the front.