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Live Review: Tom Chaplin at Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC – 17th January 2017

By on Thursday, 19th January 2017 at 2:00 pm

This time 2 years ago, Keane frontman Tom Chaplin took his first steps towards sobriety. Finally reaching a wall, he made the decision to stop using drugs after a prolonged period of substance abuse, which was sparked by self-doubt and anxiety towards making his first solo record. Well on the road to recovery and following the North American release last Friday of his poignant yet hopeful LP ‘The Wave’, Chaplin made a stop Tuesday evening in Washington, performing at the historic Lincoln Theatre on U Street in Northwest. It was his first time back in the Nation’s Capital since Keane’s last visit in 2012. It’s only natural that anyone who had previously seen Keane live would compare this performance to those past shows. As the charismatic lead singer whose dark backstory we knew little about until recently, Tom Chaplin was the face of wonderment, the killer voice propelling the tunes of his bandmate Tim Rice-Oxley.

While Keane songs were of course included in the mix to appease long-time fans, there were some obvious differences to how they were presented to us. Rice-Oxley’s animated, bombastic piano playing, for instance on upbeat track ‘Bend & Break’, had been a mainstay of the Keane sound. I noticed that during this show, while the piano was clearly there backing Chaplin, its presence felt slightly muted, making it clear it was Chaplin’s voice that was the star of the evening. Similarly, when ‘Crystal Ball’ made its appearance before the encore, his energetic leaps and bounds across the stage, reminiscent of the Keane days – to the delight of fans, of course – the focus of attention was unequivocally on Chaplin and the sheer vocal power he still delivers.

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Time, and I suppose a self-realisation of just how precious life is, has only strengthened his vocal abilities. While I questioned some of the lighting choices – seriously, who wants to be blinded by the stage lights for a song called ‘Bring the Rain’? – and Chaplin seemed uncomfortable singing early Keane single ‘Everybody’s Changing’ (nerves? bad memories?), these were minor quibbles, given the otherwise pretty much peerless performance. ‘I Remember You’ proved to be the ultimate combination, a track full of energy and audience handclaps, while giving him the perfect showcase for his dynamic vocal acrobatics.

His backing band, whom Chaplin himself put together last summer, are an incredibly tight unit for a group who have been together only a short time. More importantly, they offer something wonderfully different to what we might have otherwise expected at a Keane gig. Twin violins on ‘Bedshaped’ was an unexpected, unique way to present a classic Keane song. The band all joined in on the harmonies for inspirational title track ‘The Wave’; I was impressed by the richness of their combined vocals.

Guitarist Tobie Tripp and keyboardist Beau Holland provided acoustic backing to Chaplin’s soaring vocals on ‘Bound Together’ to open the encore. This bonus track, along with an audience reception to ‘Better Day’ so loud and rousing that he said he had to release this song as a single, provided additional highlights of the night. Imagine a cross between the themes of ‘On the Road’ and ‘Day Will Come’ from Keane’s 2012 album ‘Strangeland’, and you’ll get the idea. Chaplin dedicated ‘Solid Gold’ and the particularly poignant ‘Hold On to Our Love’ from the album to his long-suffering wife, the strong woman who has stood by his side through thick and thin.

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Though he shared with the audience that he had received bad news the day before that was making him “sad and lonely” and missing home, Chaplin didn’t for one moment let this affect his performance. It seems appropriate that for what Chaplin has been through, hitting rock bottom and having to claw his way back to some sense of normalcy, these struggles and successes he chronicles on ‘The Wave’, all of this has prepared him for the bumps as these in the road in life while staying sober. For him to share with us what he’s learned, the pain he’s endured as well as the amazing insights, it’s truly a priceless gift. Chaplin seemed truly humbled by the reception to his return to Washington, thanking the crowd quite a few times for providing the kind of personal connection that he said was the best medicine to soften the loneliness he had been feeling. It seems like such a small gesture from the fans, considering how for over a decade his famous voice has comforted and thrilled Keane’s worldwide legion of devotees. Am I looking forward to the next Tom Chaplin album? You bet.

Chaplin’s North American tour continues tonight at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom; for all his world live dates announced for the rest of the year, visit his official Web site. Catch up on my in-depth interview with Tom the week before the release of ‘The Wave’ in the UK through here.

After the cut: Tom Chaplin’s set list for the night.
Continue reading Live Review: Tom Chaplin at Lincoln Theatre, Washington, DC – 17th January 2017


Live Gig Video: Blaenavon share New York City tour diary set to new single ‘Orthodox Man’

By on Wednesday, 18th January 2017 at 4:00 pm

Blaenavon shared with us some good news last autumn. The East Hampshire trio who have been building on well-deserved live hype announced that they had signed to Canvasback / Atlantic Records. To usher in 2017, they have even more good news! Their debut album,’That’s Your Lot’, will be out on the 7th of April.

To celebrate this great news, they’ve shared a travel diary of sorts by director Francesca Consarino of their time last autumn in New York City, where they played two packed out shows to new, adoring American fans. It’s set to ‘Orthodox Man’, the first single announced from the upcoming LP out this spring. Watch the video below. For more of TGTF’s coverage on Blaenavon, who appeared at SXSW 2016, use this link.

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(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Live Gig Video: VANT share stylised ‘Do You Know Me?’ video from December 2016 London Scala show

By on Tuesday, 17th January 2017 at 4:00 pm

London via Newcastle protest band VANT are just chomping at the bit for their opportunity to wow punters at SXSW 2017 in March. Don’t believe me? Read my interview with their frontman Mattie Vant from November through here. For those of you (and myself) who have not have the wonderful opportunity to see the group perform live, either at a regular headline show, or at their homecoming show back at Newcastle Cluny in early November for last autumn’s edition of Dr. Martens’ #STANDFORSOMETHING tour, they’ve got something special for us.

In December, they performed at London Scala in the north of the city. It’s a pretty cool venue to start out with, so any live video shared from the place would look very cool anyway. However, they didn’t stop there. Through stylised editing of the actual performance as if a moving scrapbook, as well as coverage of their fans queueing outside and enjoying the show once inside, this video comes across as high-energy documentation of the band’s blistering live performance experience. Watch it below. Stay tuned of our coverage of VANT when we’re out in Austin. To read through our growing back catalogue of coverage on VANT, follow this link.

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(SXSW 2017 flavoured!) Album Review: Ciaran Lavery – Live at The Mac

By on Wednesday, 21st December 2016 at 12:00 pm

Northern Ireland native Ciaran Lavery has just released his soon to be iconic live album ‘Live at the Mac’. Recorded December of last year, the album dropped ahead of Lavery finishing a short UK tour, which saw him revisit The Mac 2 years in a row. We don’t usually cover live albums, but since Ciaran only lives up the road from myself, we at TGTF decided we’d make an exception.

Lavery sprung to success after both his debut EP ‘Kosher’ and debut album ‘Not Nearly Dark’ were released in 2014. Two tracks in particular, ‘Left For America’ off the EP and ‘Shame’ from the LP could pinpoint Lavery’s seemingly instant success after racking up an impressive 29 million listens on Spotify, as well as producing many cover versions across the globe. Since then, he hasn’t stopped, as he states himself on his Web site bio, “I have a ridiculous fear of what might happen if I stop moving. I have to keep going”.

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‘Live at the Mac’ is Lavery in his purest form. He not only reprises the classic tale of a man and his guitar. But he presents himself in an honest and transparent sonic picture, through the fragile tone of his voice against the-bare boned accompaniment of his own guitar and a string trio. Somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Live in Sin-é’, on this new album Lavery gathers together a collection of his most notable songs and presents them in the most captivating and moving setting.

The album begins with a short string intro that sways like the wind, as it implies the theme of his first track. Lavery subtly strengthens the string harmony with a light twinkle around the hinted chord progression, before bursting into ‘Awful Love’. A heavily emotional song is definitely the best way to open his set and thus begin the album. And with the added texture of Lavery’s light yet husky voice against the strong constant backbeat he creates with the heavy ghost note as he downstrokes the chords, there is an added element of urgency that gives the song momentum. Having such a stripped-back ensemble, the musical devices and harmonic expression has a lot more impact. You can tell this isn’t a problem for the group, especially within the second verse of ‘Awful Love’, which raises the level of intensity that bit further when the strings switch from the supporting role to a more forward approach with a strong staccato pulse.

Lavery moves from strength to strength, continuing the strong emotions with his highly acclaimed track ‘Left For America’. The thing about it in the live setting is that the strings seem to shed a new light on Lavery’s intentions with the song, their harmonic effects bringing new colour to the track. What seems like a song about change, with an undercurrent of travelling, now reveals the ups and downs within a family relationship. Without the drum groove from the studio version, it allows for the listener – the audience in this case – to completely immerse themselves in Lavery’s heartfelt and seemingly regretful lyrics. What helps to drive the message home, specifically in the chorus, is the juxtaposition of Lavery’s major key-based vocal melody against the delicate counter melody of the strings. Together they imply a sense of desperation similar to the bonds of a family when tested to extremes.

Among the 12 tracks on the album, 3 are covers, one of which is a Christmas song appropriate for this of year. The other two are Bruce Springsteen’s layman’s anthem ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ and Joy Division’s 1980 chart topper ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Lavery and his incredible string section beautifully represent both by portraying them in a far more desperate manner. It seems Lavery has dissected the lyrics of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, found the true message within and felt it worthy to portray it in such a way. The constant pedal drone in the higher register of the strings and the tremolo bowing technique at the end of the track act more like a sound design device than simply a musical addition to the track. The overall effect provokes a sense of unease and assists in driving the true message of the lyrics home.

Throughout the whole album, and considering the very small collection of musicians recorded on stage, the emotional highs and lows implemented are incredible. The gracious string work accompanying Lavery’s visceral vocal tone is stunning. And with the added texture of the clean acoustic guitar equipped with slack and bright-sounding strings, this ensemble is near perfect performing his amazing works.


Ciaran Lavery’s ‘Live at the Mac’ is out now on Believe Recordings. To read more about Lavery, including an interview at SXSW 2016 and coverage of his performances in Austin, go here. At the time of this writing, he is scheduled to be perform at SXSW 2017.


Live Gig Video: VANT performs ‘Peace & Love’ in Newcastle from Dr. Martens’ #STANDFORSOMETHING tour

By on Friday, 2nd December 2016 at 4:00 pm

The purposeful controversy-causing London-based band VANT performed on the 12th of November at Newcastle Cluny. It was one in a series of shows on Dr. Martens #STANDFORSOMETHING autumn tour, which also starred twin brother dance duo Formation and Hackney MC Paigey Cakey. (A live performance by Formation from October at the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool on this tour can be watched here.) Today, we’ve got live video of VANT performing single ‘Peace & Love’ in frontman Mattie Vant’s childhood backyard of the North East. Watch the politically conscious band in all their live glory below. For more on the group here on TGTF, including a Q&A with him ahead of this appearance in the Toon, follow this link.

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Richard Ashcroft / April and June 2017 UK Tour

By on Thursday, 1st December 2016 at 9:00 am

Former frontman of the Verve and now veteran alt-rocker in his own right Richard Ashcroft has announced a brief arena tour of the UK for next April, to follow his upcoming shows at the Liverpool Echo Arena on the 7th of December and the London O2 on the 9th of December. Ashcroft will postscript the newly listed April tour dates with a special headline show at Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl as part of mini-festival Sounds of the City.

Back in May, Ashcroft released his new album ‘These People’, which includes the recent single ‘Out of My Body’. You can watch the promo video for ‘Out of My Body’ just below the tour date listing.

Tickets for the following live shows will be available for general sale tomorrow, Friday, the 2nd of December at 9:30 AM. Final tickets for Ashcroft’s December shows in Liverpool and London are available now. TGTF’s previous coverage of Richard Ashcroft is just through here.

Tuesday 18th April 2017 – Glasgow SSE Hydro
Thursday 20th April 2017 – Birmingham Arena
Saturday 22nd April 2017 – Leeds Arena
Friday 30th June 2017 – Manchester Castlefield Bowl

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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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