XFM’S Winter Wonderland at Brixton Academy
XFM may not be as big a bastion of radio broadcasting as it used to be, but on a dreary Wednesday night it proved that it can still pull in a decent rock outing with its latest Winter Wonderland offering. Topping the bill tonight is acoustic hero Frank Turner, with old-school master Bill Bragg just underneath; however, a late surprise of Royal Blood being added to the line-up seemed to steal most of the attention away. The Upcoming ventured down to Brixton to see how the night would unfold.
Upon arrival at the popular south London venue, the sparse crowd is met by the almighty thump of Royal Blood’s live show. The boys have conquered all areas of the country this year and this show is no exception, with rock anthems Come on Over and Little Monster igniting the audience and booming around the arena heavier than Thor’s hammer. The sheer velocity and heaviness of the duo’s show are incredible, with the only question being: why were they put on this early? It may have been a nice stocking-filler surprise to announce Royal Blood as a guest act, but surely they should be topping the bill and seen by as many people as possible.
Billy the Kid and To Kill a King therefore have the toughest gauntlet laid down for them by Royal Blood, but they still both manage to do an impressive job of maintaining the fast-paced rock tone of the evening and putting their own stamp on it. Next up it’s Catfish and the Bottlemen, fresh on the waves of their recent Radio 1 popularity. Their frontman McCann does an amazing job of channelling Kurt Cobain crossed with Simon Neil, producing a raw rocking energy that connects with the crowd. It’s easy to see why the band are enjoying so much recent mainstream attention, and long may it continue.
The final part of the night is all about the governor: Billy Bragg. His short acoustic set is the perfect charming remedy to the forgettably dull Horrors, with political track Never Buy the Sun standing out as spine-tinglingly inspirational. The stage is perfectly set for Frank Turner and, as he steps out to a glorious rapture of noise and applause that lifts everyone to their feet, Photosynthesis and Long Live the Queen get everyone dancing. It’s impossible not to like Turner. Luckily, his live show is just as easy to love, as every ounce of passion you’d expect is brought to Brixton and expressed through his set.
The evening may have been a bit disjointed, with the placing of Royal Blood and the lacklustre Horrors, but the passion and energy shown by Catfish, Billy Bragg and Frank Turner triumph, and make sure everyone leaves with a buzzing smile on their face.
Photo: Richard Johnson
XFM Winter Wonderland was a one-off event at Brixton Academy, for further information about future events visit here.