Palma Violets – 100 Club, London – 04/03/13

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By James Young

Palma Violets bassist Chilli Jesson quite rightly points out that we can all touch the ceiling in the 100 club tonight, and a very sweaty ceiling it is too but his band are not quite reaching for the stars. One song in and the shirts are already wet through but that is just the temperature of the venue, their songs have yet to break a sweat. It is not hard to get your sound nailed in a venue of this size but the soundman seems to have walked up to ground level for a cigarette along with a quarter of the crowd. Breakthrough single Best of Friends tries to climb out of the wet paper bag that is their sound tonight but it is clearly a case of must try harder. We get the thrill of a bassline/drum roll intro along with a gutteral howl (usually from Jesson himself) far too many times but the songs just don’t follow. False starts, stage invasions and old friends joining in for a sing-a-long make it at least refreshing and un-staged, but we need some spit and polish here if Palma Violets are going to go all the way. If your best song doesn’t knock the back row of this tiny venue off their feet then what else will.

The cross armed naysayers were out in force clearly waiting for something to happen but it doesn’t, it threatens to though. Afterwards, the grime of the venue – along with a vague touch of Rock’n’Roll – washed away. They have more gigs coming up, let’s hope they get under your skin next time.

Mystery Jets – Royal Festival Hall 29/11/2012

By Jules Burdin

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There’s always a particular feeling that comes with an artist’s last tour date and Mystery Jets definitely didn’t want to shy away from this sensation. In the run up to the gig, a very ballsy statement appeared on their website, promising to put on a show unlike anything they’ve done before, featuring some familiar faces who have played a part in their musical journey so far.

The venue for tonight is the Royal Festival Hall. The all seater concert hall is where one would expect to see something like a harp recital, or one of those amateur choirs thrown together by Gareth Malone, so I was scratching my head as to what show Mystery Jets really had in stall for us. Before you ask, the seats were very comfortable and had ample leg room.

Now that the crowd were literally sitting comfortably, they were treated to a beautiful sunrise over the Texan mountains as a soft guitar welcomed in the morning. The band emerged to the sound of Will Rees’ guitar trickling out the opening bars of ‘Someone Purer’, a song that could have been designed as an opener. By the time the chorus comes round and those all familiar “oh oh eh eh oh oh’s” blast out, everyone has realised its going to be too hard to resist standing up. The title track from their previous album ‘Serotonin’ and ‘Flash a Hungry Smile’ come across with such ease that you forget this is the end of their world tour.

What follows next is a rare treat, as an enjoyable version of Wings’ ‘Jet’ surprises us all, and succeeds in keeping everyone on their feet. It’s a bit self-indulgent sure, but managed to fit in to the proceedings comfortably. In homage to their self-proclaimed “joy of record collecting”, its only appropriate to follow the Macca classic with their latest single ‘Greatest Hits’.

After this highly energetic start, we return to the band’s American Deep South…ish world. The sun (yes it’s still there) is now at its highest  and Blaine welcomes their first guests, The Marfa Lights Gospel Choir. If you’re wondering about the American link here, Mystery Jets recorded ‘Radlands’ by the Colorado River in Texas, and tried to draw a very natural soundscape and to emulate the state’s vast wastelands and desert. This middle section of the show really showcased the heart of their forth album. The choir succeeded in providing another dimension to these songs; however it comes across much better on the record. It took until ‘The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar’ for the choir to really come to life with its energetically thumping ending, before ‘Sister Everett’ (with Johnny Lloyd of ‘Tribes’) brings our little journey through the Texan desert to a gentler stroll.

With the odd pocket of audience members taking the weight off their feet for a bit, Blaine introduces the next track as an “oldie”, and the opening strums on ‘Veiled in Grey’ resonates with whole room. Sophie-Rose Harper delivers a solid lead vocal on ‘Take Me Where The Roses Grow’, the wild west tinged, tiresome number, but the Festival Hall is about to erupt again.

2008’s hook-filled hit ‘Young Love’ takes the stage and urges everyone to have a slightly uncontrollable boogie between the seats. Undoubtedly everyone knows the words, and everyone knows what’s coming up. With the guests we’ve had so far tonight, it would seem ‘unfair’ to the devoted fans if Laura Marling did not make an appearance. As the “oh eh oh’s” kicked in, the anticipation of ‘will-she-won’t-she’ came with it. She did. Marling was the cherry on top of the cake and the volume in the hall demonstrates how much love Mystery Jets fans have for the folk star.


A very energetic encore lead by ‘Half In Love With Elizabeth’ steals the sing-along moment of the night as no-one struggles with the lyrics, and arms are all around each others shoulders. ‘Two Doors Down’ follows, a song which has, by now reached anthem status for the band. Mystery Jets show they now have plenty of ammunition to play pretty much anywhere. It is an absorbing end to quite a magical night; special for the band, and the audience. They promised, and they delivered.

Natural History Museum Ice Rink Acoustic nights

Amidst the glittering borough commonly associated with cosy eateries, affluence and museums, the corner of Cromwell road, South Kensington has once again come to life …

 By Dominique Edmonds

If you haven’t already visited one of London’s prettiest borough’s you can be pleasantly accosted by an elegantly lit, pop- up ice rink courtesy of IMG. Every November the ice rink is erected to become a hub of winter activity, nicely complimented by a raised glass café selling hot wine, warm snacks and tasty treats après skate.

If this isn’t enough to whet your Christmas appetite, every other Thursday the café is enchanted by an acoustic night which has been set up to inspire fresh musical notes, and give smaller unsigned acts a platform to promote themselves on, and ultimately an opportunity to play to a wider audience.

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Introduced in 2011, having featured the French trio We Were Evergreen, The Ivy york band, Madame, and Bristolian singer songwriter Mike Youe to name but a few, the Ice rink acoustic night was inspired by upcoming artists and bands looking for a space to promote their work whilst adding atmosphere to the café’s chilled, lounge- like ambience.

This year the acoustic night kicked off with Monroe, covers duo Version, and the operatic folk band, FAWN. With more live sets in the run up to Christmas including Mary Spender and a 4 part choir hailing from RMS, it’s an occasion not to be missed.

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Fawn performing “Creature” Courtesy of Barnaby Perrin Aldous photography

For more info, please check out: NHM.AC/NT

Calendar:

13/ 12/12 Mary Spender, The Duffield Raw, Peter&Susanna

20/12/12 RMS christmas choir & brass band

03/01/13 Indigo Earth, Great Heat

Ben Howard, O2 Academy Brixton, November 30 2012

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Tonight was Ben Howard’s third and final consecutive night playing to a sold out crowd at the O2 Academy Brixton.  It’s no surprise the venue was packed as Ben’s debut album ‘Every Kingdom’ was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Prize and he has recently released the ‘Burgh Island EP’ which features some brand new material from the singer/songwriter.

The venue is full of screaming fans as they eagerly wait for the Ben to take to the stage. As soon as the lights dim, the crowd cheer loudly as the singer and his band appear. Ben open’s the set with the track ‘Everything’ which creates a tranquil mood for the audience. Although the majority of the audience are listening in awe of Ben, you can still hear murmurs of chat throughout the venue as fans are perhaps waiting to hear the more popular tracks.

Ben treats the audience to ‘Esmeralda’ and ‘Oats in The Water’ both which are tracks on his new EP. These songs sound beautiful and haunting which accompanies the visuals and dramatic lighting on the stage. Ben captures the attention of the audience as his gorgeous, spine-chilling vocals fill the venue with enchantment.

Ben performs his more popular tracks of his album ‘The Wolves’, ‘Keep Your Head Up’ and ‘The Fear’ which get the loudest cheers from the crowd. Ben rock’s out on his acoustic guitar and it is evident that the crowd’s high energy has a strong effect on the singer as he performs with such passion and happiness.  The audience sing along to every song as Ben and his band look out to the enthusiastic crowd in amazement.

Ben performs two solo tracks ‘Depth over Distance’ and ‘Promise as his encore. Some audience members have already left by this point but the venue is still full of happy fans as he ends his stunning set.

Ben Howard is truly a talented and exceptional performer. With or without his brilliant band, he always manages to put on an outstanding show.

By Henrietta Mensah

Elbow – Wembley Arena, November 27 2012

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Guy Garvey and co. casually salute fans at “Wembles”.

In recent years Elbow have had to learn to think big, so big that a weeknight gig at Wembley Arena is about as low-key as it gets. The band are relaxed on this second date of their one week arena tour seamlessly blending the immense and epic with the intimate and informal.

Guy Garvey pounds along to rousing opener ‘High Ideals’ on an upright piano that looks like it’s been brought in from a Northern pub. He hails “Wembley” before charging down the walkway to greet fans thronging the front row, then switches to the more affectionate “Wembles”, addressing the masses like a drinking buddy for the rest of the night. ‘Grace Under Fire’ is a huge karaoke sing along with the chorus lyrics displayed on the big screen. Drummer Richard Jupp rounds it off with a rock n roll flourish and is caught looking sheepish on camera.

Crowd participation is a regular feature of Elbow’s performances. At festivals Garvey initiated Mexican waves and sing-alongs like a pensive wizard testing the extent of his powers. At Wembley he confidently conducts the amassed choir of fans in a variety of renditions of the ‘whoa…’ refrain from ‘Grounds for Divorce.’

These are the band’s final shows before they take a one year hiatus. They claim to have six songs for the next album and one is performed tonight. ‘Charge’ is a built around a moody organ riff and angsty lyrics; “Glory be these fuckers are ignoring me” Garvey proclaims in the song’s slow climax. It has all the hallmarks of an Elbow song and is performed assuredly as though it were already a classic.

In a more intimate moment the band assemble round a couple of keyboards for ‘The Night Will Always Win’, after which Garvey remains, repeating the opening line of ‘Weather To Fly’, encouraging individual fans and the audience as a whole to sing it back.

As the main set draws to a close Garvey thanks everyone for their warmth unaware that many upstairs are shivering beneath the air-con on a cold November night. The temperature rises as they return, performing ‘Starlings’ and ‘One Day Like This’. As the band put their instruments down, the chorus “throw those curtains wide / one day like this a year’d see me right!” reverberates around the arena making you feel that if there had been a Mercury Music Prize for the decade The Seldom Seen Kid would have won it; the band celebrating with a pint and a sing-song down the local pub.

Elbow leave the venue and will soon go their separate ways. Garvey, now used to thinking big, is off to New York to write for a musical adaptation of King Kong. When they return, ‘Wembles’ and other arenas full of fans will be ready to welcome them back with open arms.

Patrick Widdess

Matt Corby, Scala, London, November 21 2012

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For those who aren’t aware of Matt Corby, he is a 22 year old Australian singer/song writer and musician who rose to fame when he was a runner up on Australian Idol all the way back in 2007 when he was just 16. But don’t let that put you off, as Matt is a truly talented song writer and performer who has definitely put his own stamp on music today. Matt has been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake which certainly isn’t a bad thing, right?

Matt performed at London’s Scala on Wednesday 21st November to a sold out crowd. After support acts Lucy Mason and Bear’s Den warmed up the eager crowd, the main act walked onto a stage of darkness equipped with his guitar. The crowd went berserk, with men even shouting “I love you Matt!” The lights shone on Matt as he quietly opened his set with beautiful acoustic number ‘Big Eyes’. As soon as Matt softly sang the first line, you could hear a pin drop in the room. The crowd were absolutely silent as they watched Matt in amazement.

Joined on stage with his brilliant band, Matt performed his most famous track ‘Brother’ which got the loudest cheers from the audience. This was the anthem of the evening as the whole of Scala sang every lyric with Matt and they embraced every moment of the song.

The track ‘Runaway’ was probably Matt’s most emotional and stunning performance. Matt performed this acoustically, which made it sound even more special. You could hear and feel Matt’s emotion and passion as he sang the lyrics “She don’t give a shit about you”, speaking of a previous relationship.

Matt occasionally spoke to the crowd in a quiet but charming manner. He told the audience a story about a relationship that hadn’t worked out. He explained that he had received a letter from his ex-girlfriend which listed all the things that he had done wrong in their relationship. This led into the track ‘Untitled’ – another gorgeous performance.

After the bluesy number ‘Souls A’fire’ where you hear Matt’s amazing falsetto range, him and his band finished on upbeat track ‘My False’ which certainly got the crowd moving.

Matt Corby definitely knows how to captivate an audience. His stage presence is mesmerising as he sings each song with such power and beauty. He left every member of the audience completely stunned and amazed.
By Henrietta Mensah

Road to Warped Tour, Cardiff Uni – November 9 2012

The world’s premier punk event The Vans Warped Tour is back in Britain for the first time since 1998, and tonight it is Cardiff’s turn to host the punk rock roadshow.

Traditionally a travelling summer festival, the UK version of Warped showcases the cream of the crop of punk talent old and new.

The considerable queue outside confirms that the name behind this tour has an enduring resonance. Older, more grizzled veterans mingle with young, spritely punk fans: their jeans as androgynous as their haircuts, their excitement irresistibly infectious.

The Story So Far get things underway. Their energetic pop-punk, all choppy guitars and passionate vocals, riles up an already-swelling crowd – no mean feat considering it’s not yet 7pm.

Vocalist Parker Cannon has a strength to his voice that adds intensity to their songs, ensuring they’re just as hard-hitting live as on 2011 debut Under Soil and Dirt.

The band have a considerable buzz about them right now, and it is not hard to see why when songs like Roam and Quicksand hit home with such considerable impact.

The venue is full by the time Man Overboard arrive onstage. Their brand of earnest, lightweight pop-punk might lack the punch of The Story So Far, but none of the energy.

The back-and-forth dual-vocal delivery inspires some spirited sing-alongs, particularly the shimmering, Jimmy Eat World-influenced Montrose and set closer Love Your Friends, Die Laughing.

The whole room screams refrain “shut up, shut up, it’s my turn to talk,” leaving big smiles on the faces of band and crowd alike.

Warped stalwarts New Found Glory are playing their 2002 classic Sticks and Stones in its entirety, and the fervent response that opener Understatement receives suggests that this is the set the crowd are here for.

Signature anthem My Friends Over You is met rapturously, and the crowd does not let up until the last note of The Story So Far has rung out.

An encore of select cuts from their back catalogue causes such a ruckus that is difficult to see the band through the sea of bodies cascading constantly from the stage.

The band cover almost as much ground as the audience, their performance honed to perfection over the years.

The younger bands on the Warped bill would do well to take note.

Veterans Less Than Jake are last to take the stage, launching straight into fan favourite Gainesville Rock City.

They lace their straightforward punk style with lashings of ska, a trumpet and trombone mixing seamlessly with the guitars.

The rhythms elicited by the band would be perfect for dancing were the audience not so crammed together that any sort of movement is rendered almost impossible.

A set blessed with gems from the bands’ 20 year back catalogue somehow finds time for an onstage dance-off between two of the crowd’s fatter members.

The winner is determined by whose armpits smell the worst, and as frontman Chris Demakes puts his nose to each one, it is almost possible to smell the sweat.

There is also time for a circle pit around the mixing desk, the band retaliating for a steward’s refusal to crowd surf. It becomes a joyous melee, hundreds of people beaming as they race around.

They end with two huge sing-alongs, History of a Boring Town and Plastic Cup Politics ringing every last drop of energy from a crowd who have been as entertained by the bands’ shenanigans as their songs.

By this point, the floor is absolutely littered with plastic beer bottles. The fact that this is a Friday night is not wasted on this crowd.

As Less Than Jake exit they invite everyone to join them at the venue’s Taf bar. From the delighted response they receive, it is clear that the Warped tour party does not end when the music stops.

James Tremain