Music – The Upcoming Culture, trends, fashion from London and beyond | The Upcoming Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:46:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 An interview with Dan Owen: The singer-songwriter opens up about his life-changing route into music Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:46:15 +0000 Shrewsbury singer Dan Owen has been impressing audiences with his husky voice, energetic live performances, and busy gigging schedule for years. Before closing his latest tour at London’s Omeara, Owen opened up about the painful story behind latest single Hideaway and how it pushed him into music. He signed to Atlantic Records earlier this year, and we also got the first word on his upcoming debut album.

Hi Dan, thank you so much for spending the time to chat to us. We’re joining you on the last night of your European tour. What moments have stood out on the tour so far?

There have been a few. I think Birmingham was an amazing show actually; it was one where everyone started singing. I’m not a massive fan of when people are really quiet and silent in a gig. I like to chat and laugh and have a good time and get a bit drunk instead – I come from a pub gig background and Birmingham felt just like a Saturday night out. We also played in Paris at a venue similar to here (Omeara) and loads of people turned up, which was a really good feeling.

And have you ever played here at the Omeara before?

No I haven’t, but I’ve noticed that everyone’s doing it!

It’s the place to be!

I’ve been wanting to check it out for a while.

It’s good to have you back here in London. What’s your favourite thing to do in the city?

I’ve just moved down here, officially, about three months ago. I’ve been coming down here for like four years but I live here now. There’s the Bermondsey Beer Mile, that’s quite a good one…

And what’s your secret hideaway in London?

I used to rent this little room in West London when I knew nobody else down here, and it was overlooking a little pub called The Dove. I think everybody knows about it though!

Congrats on your new single Hideaway, and double congrats on being added to the Spotify “Walk Like a Badass” playlist! What’s the most badass tune on your playlist, not including your own?

There’s a band called The Cadillac Three, and they have a song called Bury Me in My Boots. When I was on tour with a band called Kaleo, their tour manager was from Tennessee, and I like a bit of country too. We all listened to The Cadillac Three, downloaded the album on Spotify, and now it’s become our tour anthem!

Let’s talk about Hideaway. What’s it all about, and what’s the inspiration behind it?

It’s come from something I’ve never really written about before. I tried to write about it, but never did. It’s about what pushed me into the music and the reason I did it. I originally wanted to be a carpenter, and go on to make guitars so I started building guitars and playing guitars in pubs as my sister was a singer – we’d do open mics in Shropshire, and I started gigging a bit when I was 16. At the end of that year, I was in a workshop doing my apprenticeship and a piece of wood flicked out of a machine and smacked me in the eye. One eye doesn’t work anymore and it stopped my hand-eye coordination quite a bit – I have double vision a lot of the time too – so I had to rethink what I was doing.

When that was all happening, I didn’t deal with it that well. It was like learning to see again, and it wasn’t nice. I went into this weird routine of locking myself away, or walking my dog, or doing nothing. Hideaway comes from that hiding away. I decided to pick myself up and worked out that if I did something like 150 gigs a year, I could survive. I’d ring people up every day until I did that many gigs, and one thing just led to another.

That’s a really admirable story, and leads me to what I wanted to ask you about next. Your songs are open and emotional, especially songs like Made to Love You, which is brutally honest. What is your songwriting process when taking sensitive stories and translating them into music?

I think it probably comes from the fact that I’m bad at actually talking about things. But when I write a song, it can feel like pages out of a diary. That’s me, talking about it. I never know what comes first, the guitar or the lyrics or the music: whatever happens just happens and you gotta roll with it.

Going back to Hideaway, you recently released your music video for it and it involves a lot of running! How was the filming of it?

That doesn’t actually show you how much I actually ran! I used to run a lot around the hills in Shropshire but you can’t really do that in London. For the video, there was a camera rig attached to a quad bike and I had to sprint after the bike. It was full on sprinting each time… I couldn’t walk for three days after! I’ve not really done music videos before, and I’m not an actor either, so I had to act like how an actor would act for it.

We hear you’ve also been working on the album. How far along are you?

It’s very nearly finished. There’s nothing left to record, it’s just mixing and mastering now, but there’s no date set yet.

Is there anything exclusive you can tell us about the album…?

It’s kind of a step up in terms of more instruments. Next year, I’d quite like to bring a band on. This is the first tour I’ve ever done with two of us up there (keyboard), but maybe next tour we could have drums and guitars… It’d be so different for me because it’s been nine years of playing solo.

And are the songs on the album ones that you have written on your own?

There’s a bit of everything – I’ve written with friends too. Some writing sessions are like counselling! There are songs from the last couple of years, and a bit of blues. When I first started gigging I’d play a lot of old blues music – I got labelled as “Blues Boy Dan”…

Do you like that label?

It was good at the time, but what I play isn’t straight up blues. There’s a lot of bluesy stuff on the album, but not like a Robert Johnson 12-bar blues.

Let’s chat quickly about your live music, which is always incredible. You play the guitar, harmonica and stomp box all at the same time. How do you do it?

I don’t know – the stomp box came from just trying to be louder than everyone else in the pub, and I happened to have a foot free!

Is there an instrument you’d like to tackle next?

I’d love to learn keys. That’s a dream. I’ve tried before but it’s just not happening yet.

What else is next?

Getting this album out. I just want to have it out there. They say you have your whole life to write your first album then you have like a year to write your second one… I never used to record much and I’ve never done an album before so this is it!

And finally, it’s nearly Christmas! What are your Christmas plans?

I’ll go back to Shrewsbury in Shropshire, drink loads, see all the family, hang out on my girlfriend’s farm, go out on the kayak…

Kayaking in the winter?

I’m brave!

Enjoy, and we can’t wait to hear more music in the new year!

Bev Lung

Read our review of Dan Owen’s show at Omeara here.

For further information and future events visit the Dan Owen website here

Watch the video for Hideaway here:

Taylor Swift – Reputation | Album review Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:02:53 +0000 The old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now. Instead of letting the critics destroy her already tarnished repute, she does it herself, shedding her infamous pop princess persona for the real Taylor in her newest record, aptly named Reputation. Released 10th November, the album chronologically tells her side of the tumultuous past three years, from the unabashed anger over the unfair destruction of her reputation, to the gradual falling in love. With only three primary producers beside herself, Swift explores a darker, moodier, edgier pop sound that is the night to 1989’s heavily produced day.

The singer throws out her old fairytale imagery and tries out new metaphors, such as the recurring theme of crime and its subsequent punishment. In 1989-esque Getaway Car, she declares, “We were jet-set Bonnie and Clyde/ Until I switched to the other side” over a key change that brings about an inexplicable feeling of heart-pounding fearlessness. In this standout song, she falls back on her tried and trusted cliche-meets-metaphor lyrical approach.

Though Look What You Made Me Do is oft cited as her ultimate enemy-bashing number, the real hit is delivered in This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things, which may be her longest song title yet. To a simple melody meant to emphasise the “lecturing a bad child” tone, Swift fiercely defends herself, and almost forgives her adversaries, before cackling and declaring, “I can’t even say it with a straight face!”.

Reputation is not solely feud-focused – in fact, over half the tracks focus on love. The singer once said she’d write about the kind of love that glows golden if she ever found it, and it is obvious that she has. This works the best in Call It What You Want, a beautiful piece that enthuses classic Swift songwriting that features personal, intimate moments of connection and true love. Tunes like Call It What you Want and vocoder-heavy Delicate make it clear the artist is done letting her reputation ruin her relationships. In the latter, she intones, “My reputation’s never been worse, so you must like me for me”. No other lyric sums up the album as well as this one, and explores how reputation and love affect one another.

Taylor Swift is back, and she’s coming for blood. In a true pop masterpiece that may single-handedly save the genre for the next year, each track shines brighter than the last. Though the old Taylor is dead, she will be remembered. As she croons in the light, understated piano ballad of New Year’s Day, which is about the person who stays behind to clean up with you after the party, “Hold on to the memories, they will hold on to you”.

Laura Boyle

Reputation is released on 10th November 2017. For further information or to order the album visit the Taylor Swift website here.

Watch the video for Look What You Made Me Do here:



Scouting for Girls: An interview with singer-songwriter Roy Stride Mon, 20 Nov 2017 13:04:14 +0000 Roy Stride is the frontman of London indie pop rockers Scouting for Girls, a band that is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year with a reissue of their self-titled debut album and a UK tour. We had a chat with the musician before their show at the London Palladium on Saturday night, about his experience of being in a band for a decade, and the memorable events along the way.

So this your Tenth Anniversary Tour, are you looking forward to playing any cities in particular?

We started midway through October, in the highlands and islands of Scotland. We did like a week warm up tour there, so worked in Inverness, and Stornoway, Shetland, that was amazing. And then we sort of worked our way through, we’ve done Glasgow, Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin. We were actually in Bournemouth yesterday, and so this is one of the first, it’s not one of the first big ones, but we’re now halfway through, so it feels like we’ve properly hit the stuff.

Did you take a massive break, since the last big tour?

Two years. Yes so it’s pretty much exactly two years since we last toured, so it’s been amazing to come out again.

You’ve performed around the world, Japan, Australia, any fan highlights along the way?

The fans in Japan are amazing, because they just give you lots of presents and gifts, and are super polite, and they take pictures with Polaroid so you can sign them afterwards, which is cool. Yeah, that’s probably my real highlight, and our main fan base has always been the UK. We did some amazing stuff in Holland and Germany, but, you know, we’re a very British band, and I think that’s where it works best. Yeah, home.

So, you’re all from London originally. What’s the craziest thing that’s happened on tour, because you’ve known each other since you were five, haven’t you?

I met Pete at Cubs, Greg when we were 11; we’ve been in a band together kind of since we were like 15, took about 10 years till we got a record deal, now it’s our tenth anniversary, so there are just way too many stories. Like what happened just on this tour: we played in Exeter, and we were having a few beers after – it was about 2 o’clock – and suddenly the tour bus had come to a stop. And what had happened was the driver was following a diversion, and ended up down a single track road in the middle of Dartmoor somehow, because the motorway was closed, and he got completely stuck. And so it was at that point I knew that we were in for a long night. So I went and told the drummer to wake the tour manager, and just went to bed. And I missed [everything]. The police made everyone get out of the van, and try and help get the van out; because I was just so fast asleep, nobody could wake me up, and it took seven hours – well, we had to get a big wrecking truck to pull it back – and everyone was really angry with me when I woke up because I’d literally had seven-and-a-half hours full sleep, and  they didn’t get to sleep till seven in the morning – they were up from like two till seven. [I was ] just chilling out letting them do the work.

What are your biggest artistic and musical influences?

I think for Scouting it’s always been, like, we were at school when Britpop happened, and so Oasis, Blur, Suede, they’re the bands that almost were like a gateway to more rock‘n’roll, you know, the original 60s. I discovered Oasis before I discovered The Beatles, I discovered The Beatles through Oasis. And so that sort of opened all that. You know, we love The Kinks, Madness. Yeah, kind of like rollicking fun. Fun bands. I wouldn’t want to set us up on that level, in any way, but those are the bands who we aspire to.

You have a number of hits under your belt, what are your favourites to perform?

I love always performing the big songs, like She’s So Lovely, and Heartbeat, Elvis Ain’t Dead – they always go down really well. Because you’ve done it for so long, I think lots of people complain about playing their biggest songs, but for us because we’ve played them so often you can really enjoy the moment. You don’t have to go “Oh God, what chord is next?”. You’re just there, enjoying the moment, seeing the crowd and seeing people. I think one of the best things about being on stage is just seeing somebody having the best time of their life, to a song you’re singing, to a song you wrote, so that’s amazing.

You’ve been nominated for four Brit Awards and an Ivor Novello.

Yeah, never won one.

But that must’ve been a great moment. Do you have any other really memorable moments?

When we went to number one. Our first album went to number one; we’d worked all year, we toured for about seven months. Touring sounds really glamorous, but we played tiny little pubs and universities, to frequently nobody, so it builds up and builds up over that [time]. And we released She’s So Lovely, and that became a top ten hit, and so when the album came out three months afterwards it went top to number one. We were actually on holiday at the time, so it was our first break in a year. We were in India, and my girlfriend at the time was really sick from food poisoning, and I remember just watching the cricket, just Indian cricket, for about five weeks, and that’s when we found out we were number one. I got an email, and there was no one to celebrate with, order a few more beers and watch more cricket – which is actually probably as good as it gets. That’s probably what I’d do now if we had a number one. That was a highlight.

What are the best things about being in a band and what advice would you give to anyone starting out, because you said it took you ten years to get things going, so you understand the struggle.

I suppose for advice, these days, for me it’s all about the song, you know – you just have to keep writing and writing, till you get a song that is good enough. Apparently there are about 18,000 songs being released every week. And so if you haven’t got a song that isn’t as good as the best stuff out there, I think that, to me, is the thing I’d always concentrate on, the songwriting and production, because now its more a level playing field, anyone can, you know you can produce. On YouTube record your own music and go for it. The other thing we did as a band was we just built it fan by fan, and we took each person individually so when we had, like, 50 people in our email list we were like yes! And when you have 100 people to a gig, you’re like, “that’s amazing”. Keep building it. And stay true to yourself, true to your art.

Thank you!

Selina Begum
Photos: Matthew Pull

Read our review of Scouting for Girl’s show at the London Palladium here.

For further information and future events visit the Scouting for Girls website here.

Scouting for Girls at the London Palladium | Live review Mon, 20 Nov 2017 10:54:14 +0000 Saturday evening at central London’s extravagant Palladium is abuzz with fans queuing to see British indie pop rockers Scouting for Girls on their Ten Year Anniversary tour.

Singer-songwriter Roy Stride arrives on stage with his band to rapturous applause, whilst telling everyone “that this is not a sit down show, we want to see you dancing, we want to see you moving, we want to see you jumping”, and beginning the set with 2007’s I Need a Holiday. A good choice of song, with honest lyrics, it takes the mind off the cold weather, with its jaunty sunny melodies. They follow this up with the ever-popular hit single Heartbeat, defined by its striking piano keys. The group are in high spirits, bassist Greg Churchouse jumping on the speakers, hyping up the already ecstatic audience, whilst Stride takes his selfie stick and soars above the stage, trying to capture as many fans as possible, as he sings, “Everybody wants to be famous”.

Playing one of their most popular tracks to date, She’s So Lovely, excites the crowd, though if close attention is paid to the lyrics, you’ll find the objectification of women is extensive, in lyrics like, “She’s pretty, a fitty” and “Ain’t that the age a girl gets really dirty”. I Want to Be James Bond has a fitting intro with the franchise theme. Though still focused on girls, it is less so, and a change for the better. Playing all the hits, including Elvis Ain’t Dead, and 1+1, plus the festive Christmas in the Air (Tonight) for the encore, the trio give the loyal fans what they want. However, Stride’s vocals don’t seem particularly sharp tonight, going out of tune at points. A surprising rendition of Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer is received well, as the singer goes up to the balcony and mingles with the audience, but the rest of the track listing feels unspectacular, for those who are not dedicated fans.

Credit goes to the band for energetic effort, but the songs themselves feel insipid, each washing into the other, the running theme of girls and lost loves quickly becoming tiresome, tunes full of cheesy banter for the lads. Perhaps working on the evolution of their lyrics would garner them new fans, which would make for a more wholesomely entertaining performance.

Selina Begum
Photos: Matthew Pull

For further information and future events visit the Scouting for Girls website here.

Watch the video for Dancing in the Daylight here:

Tom Chaplin presents new Christmas album at intimate HMV concert in Oxford Street | Live review Mon, 20 Nov 2017 08:32:20 +0000 On the day of release, Tom Chaplin presented Twelve Tales of Christmas, a festive album that follows the success of The Wave. A lucky crowd of fans had the privilege of listening to six of the 12 tracks at an intimate showcase at HMV Oxford Street. The new record features eight original songs and four covers.

“Christmas is my favourite time of year,” said Chaplin who has fond memories from his childhood. “The passing years have conspired to erode that magic but I still feel its presence when I gather together with my family.”

Produced by David Kosten and recorded at Abbey Road, Muttley Ranch and Snap Studios, the album includes evocative covers of Howard Blake’s Walking in the Air, the Pretenders’ 2000 Miles, Stay Another Day by East 17which he all played live – and Joni Mitchell’s classic River. Determined to capture the wonderful side of Christmas music, Chaplin managed to find the inspiration during the summer, when he wrote most of the songs including new single Under a Million Lights and Midnight Mass.

“The four covers I chose are personal favourites and all very distinct from one another,” the Keane frontman said. “I found Christmas a great source of inspiration for writing my own songs. There’s a bittersweet quality to this time of year that made me want to explore the themes of love, lost love and remembering those we have lost.”

As documented on The Wave, Chaplin has endured his share of dark times and it was this turbulent period of his life that made him able to see Christmas through his daughter’s eyes, and his voice really suits the reflective nature of these songs. During the show he repeatedly joked about the fact that most of his festive compositions actually talk about death, to a point that there was a recurring dialogue about it with the fans from the front row. Before ending the showcase with Stay Another Day, Chaplin played also Keane’s classic Somewhere Only We Know, which served as a Christmas song when Lily Allen covered it for John Lewis’ tv ad in 2013.

The editorial unit
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina

For further information and future events visit the Tom Chaplin website here.

Watch a live performance of Somewhere Only We Know from the HMV London showcase:

Emily Barker at the Borderline | Live review Thu, 16 Nov 2017 18:35:40 +0000 With its brightly coloured horn heads decorating the wall, and it’s clean surroundings, it is no surprise that the Borderline is one of the hippest London spots in the heart of Soho.

Emily Barker, from Western Australia, is Wednesday night’s performer. With her band of multi-instrumentalists, she greets the expectant audience and wastes no time in getting into the swing of things, starting the set with Dear River from her 2013 album of the same name. Essentially a country song, (a genre that this artist revels in), it is a common enough cheery melody, with undercurrents of melancholia. Tomorrow Be Now, taken from the newest record, Sweet Kind of Blue, is a jaunty number, and her vocals perfectly fit this style, accompanied by a gentle drumbeat and sweet electric guitar. Sister Goodbye has Southern tones, inspired by the recording experience in Memphis, USA, transforming into a melancholic melody, Barker’s vocals untethered and free. Tonight’s sound design is at an ideal, perfectly balanced, producing an understated yet powerful set where the singer’s vocals, accompanied by the instruments, complement each other. Quite the natural live performer, she creates a good rapport with the audience, unabashed and appreciative of everyone’s attendance on this November night.

Hold On, sung in a duet with band mate Pete Drinkwater, is a slow chilled groove, his vocals adding a gentle quality to her higher pitched choruses. In keeping with the bluesy down-tempo theme, Blood Moon follows, a cool shadowy track, showing that Barker sounds as good as legends like Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. If We Get to Dance is an upbeat bright tune, which the songwriter describes as the “funkiest almost disco pop song of the record”, proving that she shines in whichever form she sings in. Little Deaths, from 2009’s The Toerag Sessions, is brooding, similar to classic Irish folks tunes, with big sounds emanating from the giant double bass. One of the highlight’s of this captivating set is the theme song from Wallander, Nostalgia, beautiful in its lamenting. The tone then picks up again with Ghost Narrative, Barker’s harmonica skills clear. More! throws 60s pop into the mix, a hark back to the sounds of such acts as The Supremes.

The main highlight of tonight is undoubtedly Baker’s a capella rendition of Precious Memories, hymn-like in its enchantment. Her voice is perfectly measured and vocalised, backed only by the clicking of her fingers; it is truly an awe-inspiring and shiver-inducing piece.

Though Barker’s songs themselves are typical in the genres of country folk and Americana, her performance as a singer and multi-instrumentalist makes for a truly special live gig, filling the Borderline with some Australian warmth on this cold wintry evening.

Selina Begum
Photos: Yufan Wang

For further information and future events visit the Emily Barker website here.

Watch the video for Sweet Kind of Blue here:

OMD at the Roundhouse | Live review Tue, 14 Nov 2017 16:28:38 +0000 One of the UK’s finest exponents of electronic synth-pop, the legendary Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark stopped off at the North London venue as part of their ongoing tour to coincide with the release of their 13th studio album, The Punishment of Luxury, which came out on 1st September.

Singer, co-founder, bass player and dancer extraordinaire Andy McCluskey remarked on how great it was to be back at the “weird and wonderful” Roundhouse. “There will be new, there will be old and there will be dancing,” he added, energetically displaying his flair for the latter early on on songs like Ghost Star and Isotype, outstanding tracks from the new album.

The first older tune of the night was Messages from 1980 and it was unsurprisingly given an enthusiastic reception from what seemed like a capacity crowd. Tesla Girls and the brilliant One More Time – again from The Punishment of Luxury – effortlessly continued this momentum. 

Co-founder Paul Humphreys stepped out from behind his keyboard to treat the audience to a rendition of the sublimely melodic (Forever) Live and Die, before McCluskey announced that the band would be including an extra song in their set – If You Leave – that hadn’t been played on the tour up until that point.

He explained that it was because keyboard player/saxophonist Martin Cooper – who first became a member of the group in 1980 – wanted to use his saxophone on more than one number (the other being So In Love). The microphone was then handed back to Humphreys for Souvenir, one of OMD’s best-known tunes.

Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans) once again saw McCluskey indulge in some spectacular body movement. “Dance as if nobody’s watching,” was his advice as he accepted the wild applause. What Have We Done and The Punishment of Luxury were further highlights from the new record – especially the latter, which already has the makings of a classic – while Sailing on the Seven Seas and Enola Gay were the perfect way to close out the main set.

McCluskey, Humphreys, Cooper and drummer Stuart Kershaw came back out for an encore that consisted of Walking on the Milky Way, Secret and Electricity, their “oldest and fastest” track.

Despite the advancing years, OMD remain on top of their game and are making some of the best music of their 39-year career. The new songs have a timeless yet contemporary quality about them that ensures they fit in well alongside the classics, while McCluskey’s amazing voice and stage presence help carry the live show to another level.

Adrian Peel
Photo: Ian Plested

For further information and future events visit the OMD website here.

Watch the video for The Punishment of Luxury here:

Goldfrapp at Brixton Academy: A visceral and sensual show | Live review Sat, 11 Nov 2017 20:08:49 +0000 The Silver Eye tour suffered a setback when illness caused Goldfrapp’s Birmingham concert to be cancelled, but there’s no hint of under-the-weatherness at tonight’s gig in Brixton. The frontwoman is in fine voice and on top form. The set, a sophisticated showcase of Goldfrapp’s distinctive arty pop, plays its crowd perfectly, easing invitingly into hypnotic sounds from the new album and culminating in joyful dancefloor-fillers.

An ethereal intro sets the mood, then it’s straight into two new tracks from Silver Eye: Zodiac Black and Anymore. Video projections begin, casting familiar yet abstract entities onto the back wall. There’s something synesthetic about these performances, in which harmonious sounds complement the oozing gradient of coloured lights, pupil-dilating flashes, creeping smoke and other effects which combine to create something interconnected and visceral.

“It’s good to see you,” says Alison Goldfrapp, before launching into Train, released in 2003, from album Black Cherry. Winsome and energetic, she whirls about the stage in metallic trousers and the most magnificently puffed sleeves ever seen this side of the Tudors. She’s flanked in pleasing symmetry by keyboardists Angie and Hazel, drummer Seb and guitarist Charlie just behind.

Released last March, Silver Eye is Goldfrapp’s seventh album. It’s emphatically electronic, like Black Cherry and Supernature before it, and woven through with mysticism and folksy dreaminess.

The sensual and meditative Moon in Your Mouth from the new album is a highlight of the show. Its meditative sound with those other-worldly high notes is paired with projections of a lunar eclipse, zooming into what could be retina flashes behind eyelids. It’s therapeutic to behold and it makes clear that the album’s title, Silver Eye, refers to the moon. The band were last at Brixton Academy when touring with 2005 LP Supernature. There are a good few of its tracks tonight, including You Never Know and Ride a White Horse

Finally comes the anthemic Ooh La La, with its instantly familiar glam-rock hook. A thoroughly warmed-up crowd bounces and sings along in delight. The gloriously high-spirited encore comprises Black Cherry followed by Systemagic and culminates in the iconic Strict Machine, featuring industrial grind, arcade-y synths and feline backing vocals. The frontwoman’s dancing makes full use of those puffed sleeves.

The set – and the tour – signs its name with an explosion of silver glitter that matches Alison Goldfrapp’s trousers. A visceral and sensual show from an artist who knows exactly what she’s doing.

Laura Foulger
Photo: Guifre de Peray

For further information and future events visit Goldfrapp’s website here.

Amy Macdonald at St John at Hackney Church | Live review Thu, 09 Nov 2017 13:21:41 +0000 Taking to the stage in the packed Hackney church, Amy Macdonald and her band delivered a stripped-back and reworked acoustic set of her classics as well as new tracks from her latest album. With ten years of experience under her belt, the multi-award winning singer-songwriter delivered a powerful and engaging performance that saw the entire crowd on their feet by the time the last song came around.

Macdonald opened the gig with a track from her very first record, Run, and quickly followed into The Rise and Fall. These reworked acoustic sets “are how the song is meant to sound” she said, before they go through the studio process. Giving the concert a sense of youthfulness and originality, but coming from such a seasoned artist, served to make the experience all the more enjoyable.

The acoustic set didn’t stop the Scottish artist from delivering an energetic and dynamic rendition of her wildly popular 2007 single Mr Rock and Roll, which had the entire venue out of their seats and on their feet. The ever charismatic Macdonald was keen to interact with the crowd, even offering to take on the “fun police” who were telling off people for dancing on the church’s pews.

Up next was the self-proclaimed “love song to America”, Fourth of July, which the singer jokingly said she had rewritten to be a tune of lament since the Trump election; this was met with a round of laughter and applause from the audience. 

The soft and soulful acoustic version of Down by the Water almost made it feel like we were right at the start of the Scot’s career again, hearing her music exactly as she intended it to be heard. She followed up with her best-known song, This Is the Life, and from the first chord the fans packed into the little East London church knew they were in for a treat.

By taking her music back to its roots, and reworking her classics into these acoustic versions, the singer has been able to build on her ten years of experience to deliver a strong but equally passionate and refreshing performance. The only shame is that this was the last show of the tour.

Connor Ibbetson
Photos: Guifré de Peray

For further information and future events visit the Amy Macdonald website here.

Watch the video for Down by the Water here:

Gordi at Omeara | Live review Tue, 07 Nov 2017 15:18:50 +0000 It’s not often that you hear acoustic folk and electronic music go hand in hand in well-crafted experimentation. That’s exactly what Australian singer-songwriter Gordi brought to the Omeara stage. The deep, rich tones of her voice were enough to warm up a wintry Monday evening as she performed tracks from her debut album Reservoir, as well as earlier EPs that have earned her a following of dedicated fans.

After a minor technical hiccup, moody red lighting soon revealed the opening song. Album track Myriad set the scene with a keyboard, melancholic undertone, and vocoder for vocal distortion, which made frequent appearances throughout the night and enforced Gordi’s signature hybrid sound. The artist explored an array of sounds to further show this off, from her digitised harmonies in Wanting alongside her acoustic guitar, to the looped vocals of Heaven I Know, which began with the hypnotic, repeated whispers of “one, two, three” and steadily built up. One could observe the concentration and attention to detail that Gordi puts into the production of her performances.

This production was an impressive pillar of the show. To say it brought the album to life would be a cliché, but that’s what the band and live arrangements achieved, creating an expansive sound to the point where it sounded nearly unrecognisable. The drums were a thunderous addition to the usually mellow tracks, taking centre stage in Can We Work It Out, whilst the synths encapsulated everything electronic on record, with an anthemic power at times. The trumpet was a refreshing presence, though it was more often absorbed into the background than fanfare. All these electro-acoustic layers paired unexpectedly well with Gordi’s microphone effects and the result verged on dreamlike. Less can be said about the stage production, as the band – and the singer herself – were often hidden in light, smoke or shadow. Or, maybe this was part of the melancholic mystery.

Despite the deliberate robotics, songs were performed with pained emotion. Proving that her voice works just as well on its own, some of the most beautifully haunting moments were when Gordi’s contralto resonated, effect-free. She seemed more comfortable darting around the lower end of her range, but rare moments of falsetto were equally chilling. She possesses the vocal depth of Florence and the Machine, combined with the electronic Imogen Heap and softer influence of Bon Iver… unusual but captivating.

Gordi shared, through limited (but entertaining) stage talk, that she almost didn’t make it to London after a flight from Iceland was cancelled. Following an electric set that culminated in an eclectic cover of Linkin Park’s In the End, the audience were undoubtedly relieved they hadn’t missed out.

Bev Lung
Photos: Guifré de Peray

For further information and future events visit Gordi’s website here.

Watch the video for Bitter End here: