Florence Smashes Alexandra

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On Monday night I was lucky enough to go see Florence & the Machine in their opening show at Alexandra Palace in London.

The first of five shows to be held there, it was full of high energy and good vibes.

This is the first time I have seen them play and it was definitely worth the wait!

She opened with ‘What The Water Gave Me’ bringing the venue to life with a sparkling backdrop of metallic squares that changed colours as the show continued.

‘Ship To Wreck’ saw her run around the stage.. she has that unique talent of being able to jump, run and dance while singing. She really does have one of the most impressive voices and when you hear it live it slaps you in the face making you wonder if you’re dreaming or actually standing in the crowd.

Her rendition of ‘Rabbit Heart’ literally left goosebumps on my skin, not one to be shy she did all but jump into the crowd at the end, touching audience members faces and hands.

Throughout the show she told some stories about recording the songs in London, her home town of sorts (it’s where she played her first gigs). Before launching into ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ she told us she would ride her bike through the rain, in an anorak from Kennington to Elephant & Castle to record this latest album.
Her song ‘Cosmic Love’ came about when she went to her friend’s studio in Crystal Palace when she had one of the worst hangovers and was told to write a song.

You could see she was genuinely happy to be ‘home’ and a little overwhelmed that all five shows have sold out at this iconic venue.

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The highlight was her (arguably) most famous song ‘Dog Days Are Over’ at the end of the set. The entire crowd literally jumping, Florence encouraging the crowd to take off an item of clothing and swing it above their heads.

‘What Kind of Man’ reignited the crowd for the encore, with Florence again reaching into the crowd, but this time a lucky lad got a kiss on the lips!

She has such a lovely disposition and such a meek and mild voice compared to her pipes, you start to wonder if this is the same person!? I’ve seen a lot of bands in my time, but she really impressed me with her crowd interaction. It was someone down the front’s birthday and she promptly said, ‘happy birthday! You have to jump the highest to this one then!’

Essentially, she left me wanting more a lot more… I would really like to be friends with Florence Welch.. and her band…

The Set List;

What The Water Gave Me
Ship To Wreck
Shake It Out
Rabbit Heart
Third Eye
Delilah
You’ve Got The Love
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Cosmic Love
Long & Lost
Mother
Queen of Peace
Spectrum
Dog Days Are Over
Encore
What Kind of Man
Drumming Song

N

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Multi-Story Orchestra

Multi-Story

Saturday night I was lucky enough to get tickets to see the Multi-Story Orchestra perform Grisey Les Espaces Acoustiques, in a Multi-Story Car park in Peckham. Not the first place you would think to listen to an orchestra.. given there is no acoustic treatment what-so-ever, in fact being an entirely concrete space, the sound should bounce around from floor to ceiling to pillar and back again before it hits your eardrums. However, it didn’t seem to be a problem, and in fact, it actually added to the piece performed.

Let me set the scene a little bit… we are seated on plastic chairs (the kind you used to sit on at school), on the second highest level of the multi-story car park. From the street you can hear a baby crying, and some pop music playing from someone’s car. The first act of this 3 part piece is performed entirely by the solo violinist. It went for 18 minutes. She repeated the same melodic formula, changing ever so slightly as the piece built. Interestingly, as she performed her piece, sections of it were so subtle you could hear an overground train thundering by, it was very prominent, but didn’t distract her from playing. After eighteen minutes, she walked over to her seat – still playing! – and joined in with all the other strings in a cacophony of sound, which in turn sounded much like the train we heard pass by a short time earlier. As the piece went on it added in more instruments, trombones were added, with the aid of tin foil around the mute. This turned it’s usually clear crisp sound into a muffled noise that added an eerie touch to the whole piece.

The whole performance only lasted one hour, but it was so unusual with so much to listen to it felt like it went for a lot longer. It seemed to be a soundtrack piece, something that could accompany something else, certainly something visual. It also seemed to be a bit of an urban soundtrack, with the instruments being used in a non-traditional way of making noise and different sounds. The flutes added a different mouthpiece to their instruments which resulted in this chorus of bird songs, which when mixed with the eeriness of the brass section, created a rather interesting soundscape. Grisey described his work as “made with sounds, not with notes”, a very accurate description of the work I saw. It was something completely different from anything I have ever experienced before.

They are performing all throughout August and September.. see what’s coming up here 

Here’s a little bit more about what Multi-Story Orchestra do for the community…

N

 

 

A Fleetwood Mac Attack!

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Last night I had the privilege of seeing Fleetwood Mac live at the O2. Two words summed up the experience for me; Mind. Blown.

I cannot believe these five musicians are still alive, let alone still being able to play music incredibly well.. it’s as if they have never aged. Like they have been held in a time capsule for the last 20 years at least because their performance was even better than the last time I saw them 6 years ago.

The O2 is a ginormous shed-esq venue. (For those in Perth it reminds me a bit of Burswood Dome… but bigger!) I was super lucky with my ticket, being that I went alone I was able to nab a seat directly in the centre of the stage, one level up. Deeeelightful! I could see the soundboard and the cameras, but none of it was in my way!

They began their set as they always do with The Chain.. I thought I was going to cry it was so good. They were note perfect and Lindsey Buckingham’s guitar solo sounded better than ever! It set the bar high for the rest of the set, I was left with goosebumps.

Much of the focus was on returning member Christine McVie who re-joined the band on this tour after nearly 20 years in recluse retirement. The addition of her songs to the set and her vocals to each song really propelled their performance. Her big songs like Everywhere and You Make Loving Fun had the crowd dancing in the isles. Speaking of dancing, as soon as the lights hit the stage the front rows of the audience turned into a bonafide mosh pit.. such a strange sight to see men and women in their 50’s and 60’s jumping up and down like kids, but it was great. The entire stadium had an electric energy, as did the band. They kept saying how thrilled they were to be back in London and back on tour, this being their 94th show on their current tour. I don’t know how they do it, it’s exhausting just thinking about it.. but they clearly love what they do. After each song you could see them basking in the afterglow, and Buckingham saluted the audience with his guitar several times, and jumped around on the spot like a kid on a sugar high. This could be their secret.. music is keeping them young.

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Stevie Nicks was her usual mystical self, dancing around the stage and hypnotising the audience. Highlights included her mega-hit Rhiannon and Gold Dust Woman. The latter involved a five minute dance routine that succeeded in putting the crowd in a trance like state. With the aid of background visuals and reverb on her vocals, they succeeded in transporting the audience to an entirely different place.

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I have to say, Lindsey Buckingham may be one of the best guitarists in the world. His rendition of Big Love is spellbinding. Those of your familiar with the 1997 concert The Dance, will know the current format of the 1980’s hit. It is just Buckingham and his guitar, and he makes enough noise for 3 guitars put together. He backed this up with an 8 minute guitar solo in I’m So Afraid… It was tiring just watching..

By the time they got to Go Your Own Way the ENTIRE stadium was on their feet, and stayed that way for the remainder of the concert. They radiated so much good energy that the whole place felt like one giant happy place. It gave me one of those ‘moments’ when I caught myself thinking ‘God, I am so lucky to be here right now.. seeing one of my favourite bands, in London.. amazing’

For all my friends and family in Perth, if you haven’t got tickets yet GO AND SEE THEM. I have no doubt that the acoustics in Perth Arena would be better than the O2.. I daresay it will be the last time they all tour together so make sure you don’t miss it!

Here is their mammoth set list;

The Chain
You Make Loving Fun
Dreams
Second Hand News
Rhiannon
Everywhere
I Know I’m Not Wrong
Tusk
Sister of the Moon
Say You Love Me
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gypsy
Little Lies
Gold Dust Woman
I’m So Afraid
Go Your Own Way

Encore;
World Turning
Mick Fleetwood Drum Solo
Don’t Stop

Second Encore;
Silverspring
Songbird

This was definitely one of my favourite gigs of all time. Well worth every penny spent, I am so happy I decided to see them at the last minute.. It didn’t even matter that I went solo, because I knew all the words to all the songs, which in itself makes you feel like you’re among friends.

N

An Evening With Laura Marling

I didn’t think it was possible, but last night I fell more in love with Laura Marling.
She played a sold out show at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, a great space with some of the comfiest seats I have ever encountered in a theatre. I couldn’t have been more than 50m away from the stage, perfect view.
The atmosphere was so serene to begin with, everyone waiting with baited breath for her start, and when she did the entire audience was captivated. There were no mobile phones waving in my way, no flash photography, no one pushing me out of the way or standing in front of me. Perfectly civilized.

She began her set with the opening track from her latest album ‘Howl’ which then blended perfectly into what has been referred to as,  the 15 minute mediation, the four tracks that open her fourth album; ‘Take The Night Off’, ‘I Was An Eagle’, ‘You Know’ & ‘Breathe’. Her set also included favourites; ‘Rambling Man’, ‘Goodbye England’, ‘Devil Spoke’, and new material ‘False Hope’, ‘I Feel Your Love’, ‘Walk Alone’, ‘Strange’, and a cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Blues Run The Game’.

I can honestly say, this was one of my favourite concerts ever. She is such a good performer live, flawless really and her band of guitar, double bass and drums complimented her perfectly. Some songs it was just her on an acoustic and the double bass, so beautiful. In fact, a grown man sitting next to me actually cried! (I’m amazed I didn’t) Can you believe she is only 25 and already has 5 solid albums under her belt?!

My view..

My view..

I did take a couple of videos but alas I am not able to upload them here, so I will try and add them to the Facebook page… in the meantime you can get the gist of it via this clip… Laura channels a bit of Dylan in her song Strange;

And she goes electric for the first time on her new album, this is ‘I Feel Your Love’

I am so glad I got to see her live, and I am really liking her new material. She’s branched out in a new direction which is incredibly brave and shows how much she has grown as a musician.

Pretty sure I will love her until the day I die.

N (a.k.a one satisfied customer)

 

 

Getting Sweaty with MOTHXR

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MOTHXR (pronounced Mother) is a 5 piece band from Brooklyn, New York. Their style is a bit of a mix… it has a definite rock edge, thrown together with some 80’s style synth, which is present throughout all of their work.

I was really looking forward to seeing these guys live, but my excitement was slightly marred by the fact that I suspected majority of the crowd were going to be Gossip Girl fans who were there to swoon over the band’s lead singer (Penn Badgley). There were a lot of what I refer to as ‘fan-girls’ there, but the band’s set held up on it’s own so I was able to focus on the music, which after all is what I was there for!

So let me set the scene for you… The Sebright Arms is a nice enough pub in Hackney, their venue area however, resides in the basement… a tiny little basement with a small stage and a corner bar. Ideal for an up and coming indie band.. however when mixed with London’s current humid-heat-wave it equaled a festering sweat box. So there I was clutching my pint of beer hoping to god it would help cool me down (yeah right) when suddenly five men walk out on stage to a rock star welcome. Dressed casually in singlets, jeans and some even sporting caps – they looked like they were ready to get down to business.. this was to be their second and final show in London for this tour of the UK/Europe (their first).

They jumped straight into the music and the room was immediately filled with synth beds and catchy baselines and drum beats courtesy of Larkis, Darren, Jimmy & Simon..then Badgley’s contribution started… his voice, I have to say, is very impressive live. And although he does play guitar on some of the songs, his voice is definitely a worthy 5th instrument to this band. It would be interesting to know if playing Jeff Buckley (in Greetings From Tim Buckley) influenced his singing style, or if it has always been there… his range is scarily good. It sits in well with each song’s arrangement, and really shines live.

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Now prior to this gig, I had only heard the three songs they have on their Soundcloud page. So I was curious to see if they could produce an entire set of original material, or if they would throw in a few covers as new bands are want to do. I am pleased to report their entire set was original material, in fact they made a point of thanking the audience for ‘baring with them’ through all this new material. But it was fantastic! All their songs have a similar feel to them, and many have the potential to be expanded… one song in particular that really stood out for me was Black Girl it was a great track, that had the potential to morph into a jam. The musicians were really getting into it, there was head-banging action from Badgley, to the point where I’m sure the front row were getting covered in his sweat (not that some of them would have minded) and needless to say there was a lot of toe-tapping, head nodding coming from the crowd, myself included!

This is a tight band, they clearly love playing together and hold a certain chemistry on stage. It’s always refreshing when a band looks genuinely happy to be up on stage, and these guys were definitely grateful for their audience, claiming on their Instagram page that it was the best gig they’ve ever played.

Their merchandise stand was selling 7′ vinyls with two of their songs – Easy & Victim  alas I had no cash on me so I couldn’t purchase one but I spent the entire gig hoping these guys are at least working on a full length album… because from the sounds of last night’s set, it will be well worth a listen!

N

Arctic Monkeys In The Flesh!!

It’s no secret to those who know me that Arctic Monkeys are my favourite band. So naturally when they announced their latest national tour I was in an extreme state of excitement and purchased my pre-sale tickets the minute they became available. After waiting the 6 long months the night finally came!! I was so pumped, as this was also my first visit to Perth’s new live music venue Perth Arena (such an original name..) This is a building that has now earned itself a great reputation around the world for it’s acoustics and seating arrangements, and I have to say it lived up to expectations!

Now, onto the music. The stage was set with a giant A M in the background, which would later be lit up. You know you’re at an Arctic Monkeys gig when you see the drum kit with 0114 spelled out in duct tape… it’s the area code you need to ring their home town of Sheffield. Being a tour to promote their latest record AM, it was only fitting that their set-list revolve around these tracks but with this in mind, I have to say I was surprised at just how many AM tracks filled their set! The crowd were responding so well, in fact every time a song from AM was played there were more phones in the way of the view, than when they played older ones. If anything, this shows that audiences are loving the latest record and I have to say they are such good songs that I didn’t even miss some of the classics they are renowned for playing.

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Alex Turner is the king of cool. He has definitely developed an onstage persona for himself, and where he used to be very quiet on stage he now oozes confidence and swagger…. swagger in bucketloads!! They have much more of a ‘show’ these days, compared to the last show of theirs I saw, on the Suck It And See tour… But this is to be expected, I mean they did headline Glastonbury last year.. These days punters get a chance to see Alex Turner ‘Frontman’ as well as guitarist. On the track Arabella Alex loses the guitar and just sings and dances! Little hip wiggles and what is being referred to as ‘daggy dad dancing’ are all over this song as he strutted about the stage, until the last minute when he grabbed his guitar and ripped into that awesome guitar solo at the end of the track.

A lot of people have been giving Alex Turner flack for appearing too ‘cocky’ or ‘full of himself’ but I think it’s actually nice to see him finally come out of his shell! When you go to see a live act, you want a bit of a show.. sometimes no matter how good the music is, if the players are just keeping their heads down and playing without interacting with the audience it gets boring!! So I’m all for the dancing…even if it is daggy!

Arctic Monkeys @ Perth Arena 13/05/14

Classic tracks like I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor & Fluorescent Adolescent had the front of the crowd jumping around while No 1 Party Anthem converted the Arena into a high school snowball, by way of a giant disco ball.. it also cued the audience of 10,000 + to sway their phones, creating a really awesome atmosphere! At the very end of the show, they finished with R U Mine? Then, Alex asked “Shall we go again Perth?” and they played through the last two chorus’s again, delighting the crowd that clearly didn’t want the show to end!

It was easily my favourite gig of the year (so far) Arctic Monkeys never disappoint…

Set List;
Do I Wanna Know?
Snap Out Of It
Arabella
Brianstorm
Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
Dancing Shoes
Library Pictures
Crying Lightning
Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?
Fireside
I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor
She’s Thunderstorms
No. 1 Party Anthem
Cornerstone
Knee Socks
Fluorescent Adolescent
505
…..
One For The Road
I Wanna Be Yours
R U Mine?

Calling All Cars

Calling All Cars are a rock band from Melbourne, Australia. They’ve been around for years and I have loved every single song they’ve come out with, I’ve always wanted to see their live set but it never happened… that is until Sunday night. I managed to see their show at the Indi Bar in Scarborough. A tiny little venue that gives the impression you’re in someone’s living room! I love gigs like these, where you are less than a meter away from the people making the music! In fact, I was so close to the stage I had one of those moments when the music is so good it’s hard to believe it’s being made by the three people in front of you…

Haydn’s voice was note perfect, every chord, every kick on the kit was spot on. You can tell these guys have put the hard work in behind the scenes because they are a tight unit and they sounded awesome! .. I had a big stupid smile on my face the entire time.

Their set had a good mix of old and new tracks, plenty of crowd favourites like Disconnect and Animal, as well as their recent Like A Version for Triple J, a cover of Talking Head’s track Psycho Killer.

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Another advantage of going to a small gig is you quite often get to meet the band! That is exactly what I did – after grabbing a set list off of drummer James, I had a good chat to Adam the band’s bass player – really nice guys! They’re currently touring nationally to support their latest LP Raise The People.  If you’re in the country I highly recommend going and seeing them. If not, they’re heading over to the UK later this year so if that’s near your neck of the woods, GO SEE THEM!

N