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Soul singer Michael Kiwanuka has kept very busy recently, promoting his forthcoming second album ‘Love & Hate’ with a series of live sessions for television and radio. Back on the 31st of May, Kiwanuka took the stage on ‘Later…with Jools Holland’ to give a bold performance of his new track ‘Black Man in a White World’, accompanied by a full band and gospel chorus. Kiwanuka’s soulful refrain was punctuated by rhythmic handclaps and insistent guitar riffs that combined with dramatic stage effects to create a forceful visual and sonic impact.
The very next day, Kiwanuka made an appearance in the BBC Radio 1Xtra Live Lounge where he presented a significantly more delicate acoustic performance of Prince’s ‘Sometimes It Snows in April’. In contrast to the above performance of ‘Black Man in a White World’, Kiwanuka’s bandmates in the Live Lounge contribute only gentle percussion and soft harmony vocals, and the relative stillness of the shadowy studio amplifies the effect of Kiwanuka’s stark interpretation.
Finally, on the 7th of June, Kiwanuka played a live studio session for BBC 6 Music with Lauren Laverne, where he performed his hypnotic new album track ‘Father’s Child’. Video of the BBC 6 Music session is available here, for a limited time.
Michael Kiwanuka’s second album ‘Love & Hate’ is due for release on the 15th of July via Polydor. If you missed it, you can take a look back at Kiwanuka’s official video for ‘Black Man in a White World’, along with his list of October tour dates, right here. Our full collection of coverage on Michael Kiwanuka is this way.
By Mary Chang
on Wednesday, 27th April 2016 at 4:00 pm
Tomorrow night, Broken Hands will be playing their biggest London show today, at Camden’s Dingwalls. The exciting times don’t stop there for the hard-rocking Canterbury band, who like TGTF will be heading out to Toronto next week for Canadian Music Week. They’ll be playing the following shows: Wednesday the 4th of May at the Garrison at 12 AM, Thursday the 5th of May at Drake Underground at 11 PM and later at 2 AM at Sneaky Dees; and Friday the 6th of May at Velvet Underground at 9 PM and later at Smiling Buddha at 1 AM. I’ve broken into a nervous sweat just thinking about all the shows! ::cough, wheeze::
For a taste of the band live, well, you’re in luck. Last week, the South East group were in session live for the BBC at Maida Vale for BBC Introducing, broadcast on Steve Lamacq’s 6 Music drivetime programme. A whole slew of videos were filmed, and this is just one of them, for ‘Four’. The track is one of many highlights from their debut album ‘Turbulence’, which was released back in October on SO Recordings. (Read my review of the LP here.) For the whole suite of videos from Maida Vale, go here, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. For more on Broken Hands on TGTF, go here.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 21st January 2016 at 11:00 am
Following on from the previous announcement back in December that the event would be moving south in the new year, the full line-up for the 6 Music Festival 2016 (12-14 February) was announced on air Tuesday. Tickets are on sale this coming Monday, the 25th of January, at 10 AM, and below are the ‘greatest hits’ of sorts on all the details on the 3 nights of music in Bristol happening in just over 3 weeks’ time.
Previously revealed headliner Primal Scream will be playing Friday the 12th of February at Motion. Bobby Gillespie and co. will be joined by Yeasayer (check out their latest video for ‘I Am Chemistry’ below), Roots Manuva, Savages (who are releasing their newest album ‘Adore Life’ on Matador Records this Friday), !!!, BBC Introducing darlings from Stockport Blossoms and Sherwood & Pinch. Tickets to Motion for this evening will be £35 each (plus booking fee and postage). However, Friday’s festivities are just a mere aperitif to the rest of the exciting weekend in the trip-hop capital of the world.
For indie kids of all ages, Motion’s Saturday headliner Suede (pictured at top, with one of their newer singles ‘Outsiders’ below) are sure not to disappoint. With their newest album ‘Night Thoughts’ – the follow-up to their triumphant 2013 comeback ‘Bloodsports’ – out this Friday, they’re sure to wow with their legendary classics and soon to be classic tunes. Frankly, I’m just a little jealous I won’t be in Brizzle to see Brett Anderson holding court at “the UK’s most unique music venue” (their words, not mine). In this interview and live session Tuesday morning with 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne, Anderson himself said he was super excited that Elena Tonra and Daughter, who have just released their own new album ‘Not to Disappear’ earlier this month, will be playing the same stage. Other artists on the Motion stage on Saturday night include 2015 Mercury Prize-nominated artist Roisin Murphy and C Duncan, the previously announced Tricky presenting material from his own new album ‘Skilled Mechanics’, Beta Band alum Steve Mason and Sunderland brother duo Field Music, also due to release a new album of their own, ‘Commontime’, at the start of February with Memphis Industries. Tickets to Motion on Saturday will be £35 each (plus booking fee and postage).
Saturday evening activity also kicks off at two more venues. The electronic grooves of Underworld and Roni Size & DJ Krust are the biggest names at the venerated Colston Hall, but they are supported by popular American rockers White Denim, the weird and wonderful Ezra Furman, youth favourite from Essex RAT BOY and Welsh songstress and ex-Pipettes Gwenno (introduced here), among others. The cavernous Academy will see American rock pioneer and Hüsker Dü founder Bob Mould supported by Mystery Jets (fresh off the release of their 5th album ‘Curve of the Earth’ last week) and Spanish girl group and flavour of the moment Hinds. A ticket to gain access to both Colston Hall and Academy on Saturday will £40 (plus booking fee and postage).
On Sunday at Motion, things turn back towards relatively newer indie (well, at least newer than Suede, ha), with Foals, Manchester’s Everything Everything, Beirut, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Polica, Kurt Vile and Mercury Prize-nominated experimental rock band The Invisible. Sunday night tickets to Motion will cost £35 (plus booking fee and postage).
Arguably the stronger night at Colston Hall, when Laura Marling, John Grant, 6 Music presenter and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey and Julia Holter will take the stage, along with many other acts. However, if you’re looking for more mainstream entertainment (to me, anyway) to round out your weekend in Bristol, the Academy will play host to the legendary Buzzcocks, the return and retooling of Bloc Party (seriously, have you heard ‘The Good News’ from their upcoming album ‘Hymns’? If not, hear it below) and the latest of young Liverpudian hopefuls ahead of their maiden voyage to SXSW in March, Hooton Tennis Club. A ticket to access both venues Sunday night will set you back £40 (plus booking fee and postage).
And in case this post hasn’t been enough information overload for you, there’s still the line-up of the 6 Music Festival by Day – artists of spoken word, poetry and performance having their turn in the limelight – yet to be announced next Tuesday, the 26th of January. And for the first time, even sister station BBC Radio 4 is getting into the spirit this time round, with the Miles Jupp-hosted panel show The News Quiz landing in and being recorded in Bristol during the festival. So there’s really no excuse not to be excited by the goings-on down south. Don’t fret if you can’t travel to Bristol or don’t manage to score tickets after they’ve gone on sale. (In case you hadn’t heard what happened in the past 2 years in Manchester and Gateshead, the tickets will fly out the door as soon as they go on sale, so you’ll have to be quick.) The BBC will be bringing you coverage on 6 Music, BBC Red Button, and iPlayer, so they’ll have you covered.
Right. So I’m going to go back to my corner again and sob that I’m missing Suede live again…
By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 15th December 2015 at 5:00 pm
BBC Radio presenters Steve Lamacq and Mary Anne Hobbs announced this afternoon during Lammo’s drivetime programme the first details of 6 Music Festival 2016. Next year’s event, taking place over Valentine’s Day weekend in February (12-14 February 2016), will be heading south, setting up camp in the trip-hop capital of the world, Bristol. (The last two festivals in 2014 and 2015 took place in Manchester and Tyneside, respectively.) Venues scheduled to take part in the festival include Bristol Academy, Basement 45, Colston Hall, Motion and Trinity.
If the first wave of artists announced is any indication, 2016 will see another strong year for 6 Music Festival. Primal Scream, who will be releasing their new album ‘Chaosmosis’ on the 18th of March 2016, will be performing new material from the effort for the first time in Bristol. Seeing that all of their currently announced shows in March and April except for a few tickets to London Palladium on the 1st of April are sold out, you can expect tickets to the evening Primal Scream play in Bristol will be snapped up quickly. Local DJ hero Roni Size, along with DJ Krust and Dynamite MC, will be offering the first official showcase and live broadcast from the city. For the art-rock fans out there, the festival has you covered: The Blue Aeroplanes, who appeared on Lammo’s show this afternoon to play a few tunes, are also scheduled to perform at the event in their hometown.
It will be a gig homecoming for Tricky: having not played in Bristol since 2012 at the Academy, his reappearance will no doubt be welcomed as he shows off new material from his upcoming album ‘Skilled Mechanics’, which drops in January. BEAK>, starring Geoff Barrow of Portishead, will also be making an appearance, playing brand new material alongside tracks from their ‘BEAK> <KAEB’ split EP. Dubstep purveyor DJ Pinch will also be giving Bristol one of his legendary live sets at the festival; this afternoon’s announcement dovetails nicely with the fact that Mary Anne Hobbs was one of his early champions.
The final line-up for 6 Music Festival 2016 will be announced on Tuesday, 19 January 2016, the same day tickets will go on sale. The line-up for 6 Music Festival by Day – the station’s presentation of spoken word, poetry and performance events on the Saturday and Sunday of the event – will follow on Tuesday 26 January.
To catch up on the first half of Martin’s review of Sunday at the 6 Music Festival 2015, click here.
An event should never be defined by its headliners – and for such a prestigious event, it could be argued that 6 Music weren’t too bothered about the halo effect of an international superstar topping the bill. Headlining the dark ‘n’ moody dance room (usually known as the Northern Rock Foundation Hall) was Daniel Avery, whose set provoked some discussion. Specifically, what do dance music producers actually *do* live? He presses the odd button, tweaks the odd knob, but mostly spends his time gyrating with his headphones over one ear. The plinth is arranged so we punters can’t see what equipment he’s got or what he’s doing, so one has to assume he’s booted up a MacBook Air and just pressed play. Musically, it’s inventive stuff, both danceable and listenable, but I’d like a bit more of a live performance.
One thing’s for sure, people really love The Charlatans. When I say people, I mean the middle-class-of-a-certain-age that occupy Hall One tonight. Surely nobody in 1990 would have predicted that they would become one of the country’s most durable and sought-after live acts. Perhaps it’s their dogged tenacity that people like; their sound hasn’t really developed beyond the baggy themes that they’ve purveyed for the past 25 years. Tim Burgess is becoming a bit of an icon, despite only a moderately interesting voice and his unusual hinting-at-transvesticism shock of blonde hair and oversized cardigan. Or maybe it’s the ever-present Hammond organ that’s the secret to their success. It’s difficult to argue that The Charlatans are as important a band and the Blurs, Suedes and Stone Roses of this world, but they could certainly teach their contemporaries a thing or two about persistence, and it’s paid off in their well-received headline show tonight.
A quick glance at The Maccabees is enough to know they’re not going to outdo The Charlatans in the indie-rock stakes, and so it falls to Teleman to be unlikely winner of the ‘Headliner of the Day’ award. Their subtle, Krautrock-influenced songs are tinged with wide-eyed innocence, not to say the ghost of Sparks, and they manage to end up in a brilliant crescendo courtesy of an extended version of ‘I’m Not in Control’. Teleman have a refreshing, shiny newness to them that neither The Charlatans’ greatest hits set nor The Maccabees’ laddish jollity can compete with. It is perhaps surprising that 6 Music went with such safe, established headliners (Teleman excepted, of course), as the absence of Jon Hopkins was sorely felt. (Get well soon!)
I’ve been somewhat critical of the Sage Gateshead in the past: for being too uptight, too high-brow, and too authoritarian to really enjoy a night out there. But tonight, that sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s ironic that the combination of two deeply establishment entities should actually give rise to an event as comparatively anarchic as tonight, but that is what happened. In the year of her 10th birthday, Sage let her hair down – and it was beautiful. The most obvious example of which is the never-before-seen removal of the seats in Hall One, which your faithful correspondent accurately predicted would happen in a Tweet to the Sage – they were naturally tight-lipped about it in advance, of course, but it shows how much clout the BBC had over how the evening was run, and the Sage management deserve a huge amount of credit for taking the leap of faith and going along with it.
Tonight proved what power for simultaneous multi-disciplinary performance Sage has until now kept hidden beneath her taffeta. I’m prepared to stand corrected, but tonight was the first time that pints were thrown and spliffs were smoked in the Sage. A small victory for people with souls. The door staff even seemed to let their hair down a little and go with the relaxed atmosphere. Not entirely though: I got told off for standing on a step. It’s ironic that it should be the BBC, one of the biggest, most tarnished, most confused bureaucracies that the world has ever seen (let’s not forget that in a uniquely misguided spasm of dithering the powers that be came very close to shutting down 6 Music itself) that should encourage Sage to effectively shed her staid overclothes and teach her how to have a good time. At the age of 10.
Or perhaps that’s the one thing that the BBC’s good at, I forget. At any rate, whether through an honest desire to bring good music and the spotlight of publicity to the regions, or alternatively a desperate attempt to inject some much-needed credibility and goodwill into an ailing institution, this was a brilliantly-conceived and superbly-executed weekend that only a churl would see as anything less than a roaring success. Where next? Nottingham, Glasgow, Bristol? They’re going to have to work hard to top Tyneside.
Performances from across the weekend can be found on the BBC iPlayer or via the red button on any digital TV. Massive thanks to Kate and the festival publicity team for sorting out out accreditation.
Sunday the 22nd of February saw the final event of the weekend-long extravaganza of music that was the 6 Music Festival 2015, held on Tyneside. The venue was the usually prim and proper Sage Gateshead, which had been entirely taken over by the BBC, and, as a consequence, saw rather a transformation… of which more later.
But first, to the music. British Sea Power were the opening act in the enormous Hall One, with what amounted to an amuse bouche of a set, a bare four songs long, showcasing their art-rock sound in a the magnificent space. Coincidentally, the festival had chosen as their aesthetic theme that of foliage and trees – the stage was flanked by two towering baobabs – that perfectly matched BSP’s usual ivy-entwined microphone stands. ‘Waving Flags’ was immense as usual, and the electric-guitar-’n’-violin-combo in instrumental ‘The Great Skua’ was a gently evocative way to ease into the mood of the evening. Whilst it’s difficult to argue that BSP are capable of evincing hot-blooded passion, they are as bleakly majestic as a grey North Sea swell, and a fine live proposition.
Steve Lamacq introduced Gaz Coombes as “one of the finest songwriters of his generation”, and it’s difficult to argue with him. Not that you’d want to argue with the lovely Steve Lamacq anyway, nor leave him next to an open doorway lest his impossibly slight figure should get blown away in the breeze. Anyway, Coombes did his best to demonstrate how accurate Lamacq’s description was. He’s assembled a great band, so Coombes can stick to electric piano and acoustic guitar, which frees him up to throw some shapes and generally concentrate on being a frontman. He chooses the big hitters from his solo catalogue: the syncopated melodrama of ‘Buffalo’s allows it to be an appropriately assertive opener; ‘One of These Days’, a classic mid-tempo Coombes ballad, has lost nothing of its sheen due to familiarity and still has the capacity to move.
With his expanded band comes an ability to experiment with electronic textures and dance-influenced drum patterns, perhaps aiming to take the mantle of band-frontman-to-solo-artist-with-electronica-pretensions from Thom Yorke, of whom we’ve heard little of late. Latest single ‘20/20’ is a perfect demonstration of the Coombes method: some synthy bits, a driving acoustic guitar riff, and a complex yet accessible arrangement blended together to sound classic and novel all at once. It goes without saying that there’s an enormous, funkily noisy crescendo at the end of the song to wrap up the set. A spectacular performance from a man who is just getting better with age.
Neneh Cherry has a tough act to follow and she, astonishingly, nearly steals the show. Assisted by an Animal-inspired drummer, and just one more chap on synths ‘n’ things, her minimalist backing is all the more powerful for its sparseness, leaving plenty of room for her menacingly soulful voice. Everything she plays is taken from last year’s ‘Blank Project’, a challenging yet rewarding work. ‘Spit Three Times’ touches on depression and superstition, ‘Dossier’ is deliberately swathed in pulsating white noise and ‘Weightless’ flirts with techno in its second movement, before dropping some synthesised power chords like an android Diamond Darrell. Soulful, funky, avant-garde, whilst not herself the definition of ‘new’, her music is as cutting-edge as anything the festival would hear over the weekend.
In my preview of the festival I cautioned that, because there had been so many tickets sold, the Sage would be so packed that lots of people would miss the performance they wanted to see. I was partially correct – Hall One did reach capacity at times, with a glum queue of punters waiting patiently for someone to leave the hall so they could take their place – but overall the place was busy but not overcrowded. The main reason for this was the clever ruse of putting a stage in the main concourse between the two halls, so anyone not in an official auditorium could still see a show. Which brings us to Public Service Broadcasting, who drew a huge crowd to the concourse to hear them unveil new material from sophomore album ‘The Race For Space’ (our editor’s review of the LP is here). Last time I saw PSB they were a two-piece – Wrigglesworth on drums and J. Willgoose Esq. on laptop, synth, banjo, and, well, everything else. Tonight they’ve expanded considerably, adding another two members on “everything else”, and even a three-piece horn section on a couple of songs.
PSB are a lot of fun, and considering tonight’s BBC sponsorship, a rather apposite act to have, in their celebration of the very fabric of news coverage, in their worship of the sounds that have conveyed, and in some cases, actually created, the news. And their expanded sound is surely exactly what fans of their debut ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ wanted to hear. The low-key house beats of ‘Gagarin’ tease us into the set; newest single ‘Go!’ is the executive summary of the whole album, complete with “The Eagle has landed” sample. Where the last record dealt largely with the British perspective of World War Two and the decade following, ‘The Race For Space’ is firmly set in 1960s’ USA and USSR. Whilst they’re at it, it might have been interesting to hear PSB take a peek behind the Iron Curtain and explore the motivations for the space race – the Cold War is only obliquely referenced – but perhaps they rightly conclude that nobody ever boogied to a Joseph McCarthy speech, and stick smartly to space noises. Another good piece of work from PSB then, even if the music itself is a mere backdrop to the original fragments of dialogue and film. And, to bring us back to the Sage’s concourse, the sheer spectacle of their live performance filled the hangar-like space defined by the Sage’s exoskeleton like very few others would be capable of.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Martin’s roundup of the Sunday festivities at the Sage Gateshead at the 6 Music Festival on Tyneside, which will post tomorrow.