Check out our festival coverage, including that from SXSW 2017 and BIGSOUND 2017, through here.

SXSW 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Live at Leeds 2016 | 2015 | 2014
Sound City 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | Great Escape 2015 | 2013 | 2012

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Live Gig Video: Lisa Hannigan and Luke Sital-Singh duet on ‘Prayer for the Dying’ for 7 Layers Sessions

 
By on Friday, 19th January 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

If someone were to ask me to name my “dream duet” vocal combination, singer/songwriters Lisa Hannigan and Luke Sital-Singh would surely be high on my list individually, but I’m not sure it would occur to me pair their voices together. Fortunately for all of us avid listeners, someone else did think of it, and the kind curators at 7 Layers have made the dream a reality. In the live video below, Hannigan and Sital-Singh harmonise on a stripped back acoustic guitar arrangement of Hannigan’s ‘Prayer for the Dying’, which appeared on her exquisite 2016 album ‘At Swim’. Read our review of the LP through here.

Filmed for 7 Layers Sessions by Johnny Marchetta, the spare, intimate quality of the imagery in this video reflects the deeply introspective beauty of the song’s sustained vocal melodies. But the true highlight of the performance is the way Hannigan and Sital-Singh blend their voices to stunning technical perfection in the simple yet emotionally evocative chorus. Sital-Singh’s new EP ‘Just a Song Before I Go’ is available now via Raygun Records. You can read TGTF’s past coverage of Luke Sital-Singh right back here. Our extensive previous coverage of Lisa Hannigan is collected through here.

 

Live Gig Video: Julien Baker plays ‘Turn Out the Lights’ on Stephen Colbert

 
By on Monday, 8th January 2018 at 4:00 pm
 

Julien Baker released a new album in 2017, ‘Turn Out the Lights’. It was the follow-up to 2015’s ‘Sprained Ankle’, which proved to be Baker’s critical breakthrough. Both albums are available now from Matador Records. Since then, she’s been selling out venues in America, the UK and Ireland. No shrinking violet, she’s definitely one to watch among the young American singer/songwriters active today.

Last week, she reached another important milestone: making her American late night tv debut on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, performing the title track alone with his guitar and with incredible aplomb, I might add. Watch her spellbinding performance of the title track of her 2017 LP below. In terms of her next live appearances, she’ll be the main support for Scots Belle and Sebastian on their UK tour in March; those dates are posted here on Facebook. For more of our coverage here on TGTF on Julien Baker, use this link.

 

Live Gig Video: Ciaran Lavery shares acoustic cover of Green Day’s ‘When I Come Around’

 
By on Tuesday, 19th December 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

Northern Irish singer/songwriter Ciaran Lavery has no problem eliciting strong and deep emotions from his listeners. I should know: he slayed the audience at Bethell Hall Friday night at SXSW 2017. As if giving us an early Christmas present, a few days ago he shared an acoustic version of a song from my formative years, Green Day‘s ‘When I Come Around’. For those of you familiar with Billie Joe Armstrong-sung original know that it’s a pretty upbeat, driven number, so how does it come across in Lavery’s slower version, his voice only accompanied by piano? You’ll have to watch it below to find out. The song is available for purchase now. To read through all of our past coverage on Ciaran Lavery here on TGTF, go here.

 

Live Gig Video: watch Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile’s Tiny Desk Concert at NPR

 
By on Thursday, 14th December 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

While collaborations between two established, beloved stars is nothing new, sometimes the results don’t hit the spot. When Aussie Courtney Barnett decided to join forces with American Kurt Vile, the result was stunning, in the form of album ‘Lotta Sea Lice’. Our Steven reviewed the long player, and you can read his review for TGTF through here. If you’re wondering what the pair are like live, playing off of each other, wonder no more. The two musicians recently showed up at the NPR offices in Washington, DC, to perform one of the public radio station’s now famous Tiny Desk concerts. In the video below, you can watch them perform ‘Over Everything’, ‘Continental Breakfast’, ‘Blue Cheese’ and ‘Let It Go’. Enjoy.

‘Lotta Sea Lice’ is out now on Matador Records. Learn more about the collaborating pair on their Web site. To read TGTF’s past coverage on Courtney Barnett, follow this link.

 

Live Review: Valerie June with Gill Landry at Aladdin Theater, Portland, OR – 9th December 2017

 
By on Thursday, 14th December 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

Tennessee alt-country singer Valerie June recently finished a tour of the American West Coast, rounding things off with a two-night stand at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon. Forgetting briefly that Portland has real winter, I travelled north from Tucson to take in her final show. Portland natives found some humour in my situation as I shivered in the queue outside the Aladdin. “At least it’s not raining”, they helpfully pointed out. Still, I was glad to get inside and find a nice spot at the front of the stage in plenty of time for the evening’s opening act, singer/songwriter Gill Landry.

Gill Landry internal

Landry has spent the end of 2017 touring his exquisite fourth album ‘Love Rides a Dark Horse’, which came out in October. Having chatted with him shortly after the release, I was mildly surprised that his set list in Portland only included two of those new songs, ‘Denver Girls’ and ‘The Woman I Love’. Among his older tunes, Landry chose to play the title track from each of his first two records. The bright tone and witty lyrics to ‘Between Piety and Desire’ kept the mood in the room light, while ‘The Ballad of Lawless Soirez’ seemed to make a particularly solid impression on the audience. The limitations of playing an abbreviated support slot were apparent in Landry’s set, but his deep baritone and dry humour were more than enough to overcome them on the night.

Valerie June internal

Headliner Valerie June made a sensational entrance to the stage, attired in sparkling sequins and aqua-colored cowgirl boots, leaving no room for doubt about where her audience’s rapt attention would be focused. But her beguiling stage presence went well beyond the initial visual impression, becoming even more captivating as she switched between playing guitar and deftly plucking away at her ‘baby’ banjo. Her singing voice, while not traditionally ‘pretty’, was by turns strident and sweet, dictated by the character of her songs. June’s expressive range proved itself incredibly broad, working as easily in the slow bluesy drawl of ‘Love You Once Made’ as in the sassy, uptempo rock of ‘Shakedown’. Between songs, she waxed both poetic and philosophical, and her speaking voice was equally hypnotic as she weaved a continuous, free-flowing narrative through her set list.

For her part, June was more forthcoming with songs from her own most recent LP, ‘The Order of Time’, which was released in March. Amazingly, she touched on 9 of its 12 tracks from it in her generous set list. The only notable absence was album opener ‘Long Lonely Road’, and I’ll admit here that I was so dazzled by June’s performance that I didn’t actually miss it until I reviewed the set list after the show. About halfway through the set proper, June treated her audience to a couple of novelties. First was a song called ‘Train Fare’, which she penned for the Blind Boys of Alabama and which features on their recent LP ‘Almost Home’. Then she invited Landry back onstage to join her for a deep dive into her back catalogue, in the form of ‘Rain Dance’, pulled from 2010 EP ‘Valerie June and the Tennessee Express’.

Valerie June internal 3

From there, June lingered on tracks from her 2013 debut long player ‘Pushin’ Against a Stone’, with ‘Tennessee Time’ garnering an especially warm reception from longtime fans in the crowd. Perhaps less well-known was her cover of Velvet Underground’s ‘Oh Sweet Nuthin’, which nonetheless won a few hearts after June related her discovery that their songwriter Lou Reed had become a fan of her music in his final days.

Valerie June internal 2

June’s band, including ‘The Order of Time’ producer Matt Marinelli on bass, was in top-notch form through the entire performance, but she gave them particular time to demonstrate their chops during the encore. After slow-burning versions of ‘If And’ and ‘Astral Plane’, they dug into a cheeky soul cover, ‘I’ve Been Lonely for So Long’, before ending with June’s own gospel-style celebration, ‘Got Soul’.

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I began 2017 in Portland, hearing Gill Landry open for Bear’s Den shortly after the New Year. I ended the year in the same city, seeing Landry for a second time and discovering a new favourite artist, Valerie June, along the way. The symmetry might be superficial, but it illustrates a general process that has led me to some great music, by artists I might never otherwise have heard. I hope to share many more such happy coincidences in 2018. Stay tuned to TGTF in the New Year!

 

Live Review: The Divine Comedy with Jealous of the Birds at Birmingham Institute – 24th November 2017

 
By on Thursday, 7th December 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

It had been a good 11 years since I’d first visited Birmingham in the West Midlands. What better reason to return is there but a gig? Formerly the HMV Institute and now part of the O2 empire, the Institute was once a church and even a civic hall of Birmingham City Council. But these days, the only collars you’ll likely see in here are those on leather jackets. Brum was only the third stop on The Divine Comedy’s winter 2017 tour, following Edinburgh and Leeds and in support of Neil Hannon’s most recent album ‘Foreverland’, released in September 2016. My review of the LP is through here.

Opening for Hannon and crew was Naomi Hamilton, better known in the indie music blogosphere by her more fanciful nom de plume Jealous of the Birds. She performed solely with her voice and guitar. The heavily pierced songwriter commented that her stage setup was decidedly ‘granny chic’; it included a Divine Comedy mug she admitted she nicked from the merch table outside. She began with the catchy ‘Goji Berry Sunset’, a single that was a longtime staple on BBC 6 Music long before we caught up with her at SXSW 2016. There was something enchantingly arresting by her performance, as she sung and played the title track of her 2016 album ‘Parma Violets’ completely at ease. She ended her all too short set with a haunting cover of ‘Suzanne’, a wonderful tribute to the late Leonard Cohen.

Jealous of the Birds Birmingham

Trying to describe the numerous emotions and topics Neil Hannon has touched upon during the many years The Divine Comedy have been in action would be a difficult exercise. He’s gone through a good number of phases over nearly 3 decades, most recently being funny about cricket with the Duckworth Lewis Method in 2009, guffawing at the unlikelihood of being recognised by the Queen in 2010’s ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’ and last year’s ‘Foreverland’. On his latest album, it appears his preoccupation with things French (‘Napoleon Complex’), female monarchs (‘Catherine the Great’) and indeed, the female he holds dearest in his life, fellow musician and partner Cathy Davey, have directed him artistically as of late.

In the ‘90s version of The Divine Comedy, back when there were actually other members of the band besides Hannon, songs like ‘Everybody Knows (Except You)’ showed his sweeter, cuddlier innocent side. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘Generation Sex’, ‘Something for the Weekend’ and ‘Becoming More Like Alfie’ proved there was a naughtier, sleazier version of the songwriter all too eager to come out. He was the kind of artist who could get away with this kind of frank songwriting because ultimately, he was singing of the things that didn’t come up in polite conversation but the rest of us were dying to say.

Divine Comedy Birmingham 1

He sings all too joyfully about the ‘National Express’ – which, incidentally, brought me from Manchester Airport to Birmingham that afternoon – without it coming across too schmaltzy. The brilliance that is ‘At the Indie Disco’ even came across fresher than its first airing around the release of ‘Bang Goes the Knighthood’: at the mention of “she makes my heart beat the same way / as at the start of ‘Blue Monday’”, he and his band launched into an entirely unexpected interlude, a cover of the New Order classic, complete with seizure-inducing strobe lighting. Hannon clearly has wonderful rapport with his current live band, calling his piano- and accordion-playing bandmate a man with a “squeezy” and thanking his guitar tech for bringing him one of his axes with, “yes, I know what that is! A strummy strum strum!” If I didn’t know he was nearly 50 and could only hear him, I’d guess he was probably half his actual age. Do men ever grow up? Ha, I guess not.

Martin previously wrote about The Divine Comedy’s headline appearance at this year’s Deer Shed, proclaiming that Hannon was the best headliner to date of the family-friendly festival in Baldersby Park. Certainly, seeing an artist like him in a listed building like the Institute is going to be an entirely different experience than you’d have at an open-air festival. While I did enjoy the show, the gimmickry of Hannon’s Napoleon-esque costume, along with a refusal to lay down in the pit as he has in other places such as in Bristol because the floor was gross seemed a bit prima donna. I guess of all people, Neil Hannon is allowed to be so. As an Irish national treasure and a songwriting genius, he’s earned that right.

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After the cut: The Divine Comedy’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: The Divine Comedy with Jealous of the Birds at Birmingham Institute – 24th November 2017

 
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About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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