Welsh singer/songwriter Stephen Black and his band, known collectively as Sweet Baboo, have announced their ‘Test Pressings’ tour of the UK for this July. Just prior to the tour dates, they will release a collection of songs recorded in sessions for the BBC over the past 6 years, called ‘The Marc Riley Sessions’. The vinyl-only release will be available via Moshi Moshi on the 7th of July. Tickets for the ‘Test Pressings’ dates are available now.
Tuesday 8th July 2014 – Stroud Prince Albert
Wednesday 9th July 2014 – London Waiting Room
Friday 11th July 2014 – Ramsgate Music Hall
Saturday 12th July 2014 – Leicester Cookie Jar
Sunday 13th July 2014 – Cardiff Gower
Nick Mulvey has just announced a headline tour of the UK to support the recent release of his new album ‘First Mind’. Mulvey will spend the summer touring with London Grammar then playing the festival circuit, including two scheduled performances at Glastonbury. In the meantime, check out ‘The Complete Nick Mulvey Playlist‘ on Spotify.
Tickets for the following dates go on sale this Friday, the 23rd of May, at 9 AM.
Friday 10th October 2014 – Falmouth Princess Pavillions
Sunday 12th October 2014 – Oxford Academy
Monday 13th October 2014 – Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
Tuesday 14th October 2014 – Bath Komedia
Thursday 16th October 2014 – London Shepherds Bush Empire
Friday 17th October 2014 – Cambridge Junction
Sunday 19th October 2014 – Norwich Waterfront
Monday 20th October 2014 – Brighton Komedia
Wednesday 22nd October 2014 – Leeds Brudenell Social Club
Thursday 23rd October 2014 – Birmingham Institute
Friday 24th October 2014 – Sheffield Leadmill
Sunday 26th October 2014 – Glasgow Oran Mor
Monday 27th October 2014 – Gateshead Sage
Wednesday 29th October 2014 – Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Thursday 30th October 2014 – Manchester Cathedral
Header photo by Cheryl Demas
Living as I do in a bit of a musical vortex, I often have to travel long distances to see bands and artists I love. It’s sometimes difficult to choose which shows are most worth the time and expense, but in the case of Elbow, my decision was easy. They’ve been on my list since I fell in love with their 2008 Mercury Prize-winning album ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’ several years ago, and they proved their travel-worthiness once again last Sunday at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I got to attend the show with one of my favourite partners in crime, fellow TGTF contributor Cheryl Demas!)
This show was the first night of Elbow’s North American tour and also my first experience with their guest act, American singer/songwriter John Grant. I did a bit of homework on Grant before Sunday’s show, and I was drawn in when I discovered that his 2010 debut album ‘Queen of Denmark’ was recorded with band members from Midlake, who I had the pleasure of seeing in DC last month (read that review here). Grant recorded his second album, the highly acclaimed ‘Pale Green Ghosts’, in his adopted home of Reykjavik, Iceland, and he was accompanied on stage Sunday night by Icelandic guitarist Pétur Hallgrimsson, who also appeared on that record.
I’ll admit that I was initially repelled by the bleak, cheerless tone of Grant’s lyrics, which seemed an odd contrast to the effusive romanticism of Elbow lyricist Guy Garvey. Only the hypnotic timbre of Grant’s baritone made the brutal songs ‘You Don’t Have To’ and ‘Where Dreams Go to Die’ even remotely palatable. But there were moments of sardonic humour, in the quirky ‘Sigourney Weaver’ and the almost upbeat ‘GMF’ for example, that kept the set from becoming completely mired in its own misery. By the time Grant closed with the defiantly spirited ‘Queen of Denmark’, energy in the audience was building in anticipation of the headline act.
After the emotionally and musically ponderous opening set, it was refreshing to hear the warm instrumental strains of ‘This Blue World’ as Elbow took the stage. They wasted no time highlighting their exquisite new album ‘The Takeoff and Landing of Everything’, proceeding directly into ‘Charge’, then touching on ‘Fly Boy Blue/Lunette’ and ‘Real Life’ early in the set. Before singing ‘New York Morning’, Garvey took a special moment to acknowledge Lois and Dennis, the legendary New York music fans who appeared in the recent video for the song and who were seated in the guest balcony for this show.
I was particularly keen to hear the new songs in live arrangement, as the studio recordings are so large and richly textured. The five regular band members were accompanied in this streamlined setup by only two string players and no live brass, but they did apparently use a backing track to fill in the sound. Aside from a few opening night glitches and miscues, the arrangements were fairly true to Elbow’s high standard form; especially so in the favourable acoustics of the 9:30 Club. From our vantage point at the barrier, Cheryl and I had an especially nice view of guitarist Mark Potter, and I spent a good portion of the show ogling his array of instruments.
Because I spent my weekend literally “cramming commitments like cats in a sack”, I was happy to hear my personal favourite Elbow tune ‘The Bones of You’ early in the set list. The band saved its other old favourite songs for later in the show, including ‘Scattered Black And Whites’, which they kindly dedicated to an Irish superfan called Gareth, who was desperate to hear it but had evidently been asleep in the back until that point in the show. (See what I did there?) When the song was introduced, Gareth enthusiastically charged his way to the stage and proceeded to view the performance through the lens of his camera phone, but the sheer beauty of the song left us no choice but to share in his ebullient joy.
The end of the set proper emulated a large scale emotional crescendo, modulating from the elegantly understated ‘Mirrorball’ through the evolutionary progression of ‘The Birds’ to the heavy pounding rhythm of ‘Grounds for Divorce’ before resolving to the poignant and bittersweet beauty of ‘My Sad Captains’. It was a masterfully effective sequence, designed to leave us wanting more and achieving the effect in spectacular fashion.
The all-but-obligatory encore naturally included an element of audience participation, and the 9:30 Club crowd happily obliged Garvey’s requests to join him in echoing the ubiquitous “Build a rocket boys!” line from ‘Lippy Kids’ and harmonising the glorious ending to ‘One Day Like This’. We may not get another night like this with Elbow for quite some time, but those lovely harmonies will undoubtedly see us right until the next occasion.
Photo by Cheryl Demas
Photo by Cheryl Demas
After the cut: Elbow’s set list.
Continue reading Live Review: Elbow with John Grant at 9:30 Club, Washington DC – 11th May 2014
Swedish sister act First Aid Kit will embark on a full UK tour in September, following the release of their third album ‘Stay Gold’ on the 9th of June on Columbia. They have also just released an elegant new video for ‘My Silver Lining’, which you can see below the tour date listing. (We featured the video for their recent track ‘Cedar Lane’ here just a few days ago.)
First Aid Kit have already sold out their Islington Assembly Hall show in London on the 15th of May and are scheduled to appear at the Latitude and Green Man Festivals this summer. Their September tour will include a date at the Royal Albert Hall; tickets for that show go on general sale at 9 AM on Friday the 16th of May.
Tuesday 16th September – Glasgow Old Fruitmarket
Wednesday 17th September – Belfast Empire Music Hall
Saturday 20th September – Manchester Albert Hall
Sunday 21st September – Bristol Colston Hall
Wednesday 24th September – London Royal Albert Hall
Electro pop songstress Elly Jackson and La Roux have announced the release of her second album ‘Trouble In Paradise’, due out on the 7th of July. She will play an intimate album launch show in London on the 1st of July, followed by a full tour in November. In the meantime, have a listen to the first single from the album, ‘Let Me Down Gently’, which is posted below the tour date listing and was just previewed on Tuesday night on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 evening programme.
If you preorder ‘Trouble In Paradise’ on La Roux’s Web site, you can get early sale tickets starting at 10 AM next Monday, the 19th of May. General sale for the following shows starts at 10 AM on Friday, the 23rd of May.
Tuesday 1st July 2014 – London Conway Hall
Wednesday 5th November 2014 – Glasgow ABC
Friday 7th November 2014 – Leeds Metropolitan University
Saturday 8th November 2014 – Birmingham Institute
Monday 10th November 2014 – Bristol Academy
Friday 14th November 2014 – Norwich UEA
Saturday 15th November 2014 – Oxford Academy
Sunday 16th November 2014 – Manchester Ritz
Leeds-based singer/songwriter Daniel Pearson has announced a list of July tour dates to follow his recent appearance at Live at Leeds and the release of his latest EP ‘Escape Acts’ (which we reviewed here). He is also offering a free download of ‘Waves in the Sea’, from his debut album ‘Satellites’; find it below the tour date listing.
Tuesday 22nd July 2014 – Liverpool Zanzibar
Thursday 24th July 2014 – London Water Rats
Friday 25th July 2014 – Birmingham Talk
Monday 28th July 2014 – York Fibbers
Wednesday 30th July 2014 – Hebden Bridge Trades Club
Thursday 31st July 2014 – Edinburgh Sneaky Pete’s