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Live Gig Video(s): Michael Kiwanuka performs on Jools Holland and for BBC Radio 1Xtra and 6 Music

 
By on Monday, 13th June 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

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.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SVL06ir4N54[/youtube]

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.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/9vZuClpxEhs[/youtube]

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.

 

Liverpool Sound City 2016 Roundup

 
By on Monday, 13th June 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Liverpool is a city drenched in musical history and culture. If you weren’t aware of this by now, maybe check out The Beatles. They’re pretty good. So obviously it makes perfect sense to host a music festival here. Rather than find a large park or field to hold said festival, the creators of Sound City have decided to utilise the plethora of empty and abandoned dock yards, which by all accounts is a stroke of genius. It gives it a unique environment that other festivals just can’t. By having the festival on such an exposed setting you are potentially setting yourself up for failure with the weather, especially in the North West of England. However, this year at Sound City, the sun was in full attendance for the weekend.

The first day was a veritable festival of the unknown and known. As much of an oxymoron as that sounds, Sound City 2016’s lineup was clearly meant to bring fans of the larger bands – who made up only a small percentage of the total bill – and expose them to local acts and those from further afield. Walking around the docklands, you were invited into a number of tents and stages. Considering the size of the land which this event takes place on, it isn’t hard to imagine that such a situation could be mildly overwhelming. Sound bleed was also an issue, particularly amongst the smaller stages. Of course, when you have such a small amount of real estate to play with this is also expected. But it is rather awkward in the grand scheme of things.

Whilst perusing the grounds, it was the acts that actually didn’t have a stage per se who were more eye-catching. A group of musicians in the midst of a somewhat spontaneous jam session near a tent reminded you of the true meaning behind festivals such as Sound City. It’s to enjoy the moment and capture whatever arises, be it a sea of fans ready for a band (Saturday night’s headliners Catfish and the Bottlemen) or those just interested in fuelling each other’s minds.

The evening boasted a strong lineup: as mentioned previously, each band would draw roughly the same crowd, giving the main stage an extra thick layer of hangers-on and day-waiters. When Band of Skulls took to the stage, the sun was blindingly beautiful, and the heat had done its job of giving a party-filled and relaxed atmosphere. Well that, coupled with the abundance of alcohol. Cracking through a selection of hits, both old and new, they created a wall of movement that really kicked the evening off. Personally, I think Band of Skulls have the potential of being headliners, though with Catfish’s current trajectory, putting the Southampton rockers on well before them was hardly surprising.

Brum’s Sleaford Mods took to the stage next with as much anger and angst as you can imagine, further feeding the frenzy. Finally, it was time for the much-anticipated set from Llandudno-born Catfish and The Bottlemen. The instantaneous reaction that happened with the first notes was one of severe chaos and revelry. Bottles of questionable liquid flew through the air and refused to hit the ground until the last notes rang out. The set itself was a roaring success, but the abundance of their fans at the festival – this, once again, isn’t a negative toward the band – within its small boundaries, didn’t leave much room for the usual conglomeration of music fans and artists alike. A strange feeling for what is meant to be a music industry showcase at the end of the day.

The second day of the festival had more promise, though it had its own trials to face of a different matter. Another blistering day meant that the atmosphere was once again joyous, but the diversity in the headliners brought a more eclectic mixture of personalities to the crowd, giving Sound City on Sunday a much more traditional festival appearance in terms of punters. With pretty much more of the same during the day – a stream of throbbing crowds, a collection of sounds melding in the air and unknown music fun – it was proof that the foundations of Sound City were set in this formulaic way.

Security throughout the event were definitely earning their paycheck, though in some aspects they were overly prominent in the wrong areas, which had a mildly negative effect on the more inebriated revellers, shall we say. This is always a touchy subject: generally, if a drunk person is annoyed or angered, the situation worsens in a lot of aspects. There was nothing too untoward at the festival, but security’s handling of situations could’ve been a bit less rash. Anyway, back to the music.

The Dandy Warhols brought their late ‘90s sound to the joyous crowd, with the biggest reaction, predictably, for their smash hit ‘Bohemian Like You’. Their sound was perfect for the afternoon, being one that is drenched in memories of past years, while also being able to appeal to a fresh audience. Local lads Circa Waves brought this to the next level by giving a performance that fully engaged the audience, while ensuring that the level they’ve reached as a band is maintained through a consistent and heavy barrage of tracks that just garner in strength. Circa Waves are a force that just won’t let up, and this force just fed the crowd into a frenzy. Bear in mind this is a crowd mostly consisting of Liverpudlians, awaiting their hometown heroes’ comeback show.

And this is where The Coral (pictured at top) come in to play. With a set that was interrupted by a power cut across the entire festival, the Coral’s time onstage never really managed to take off as it had for the bands before them. There was still a certain magic to the set, but with an interruption that was out of the hands of the band onstage, it’s a hard thing to come back from. Obvious hit ‘Dreaming Of You’ punched the set back into life, but by this point it was too late and the end was nigh. Considering this was a hometown show, the set felt flat. The result? It felt like there was no recognition of the moment’s massive occasion that was clearly a draw for so many within the crowd.

Sound City is a complex little beast. Its purpose is to draw in professionals and punters alike, almost in a The Great Escape manner. But somehow this year’s atmosphere felt confused. It wasn’t sure where it sat, which ultimately left a peculiar feeling in the air. Hopefully next year’s festival builds upon this year positively and comes back stronger than ever. The foundations are certainly there, and since the waters of Liverpool don’t see the sights they once used to, the reuse of the abandoned docks is certainly a fantastic idea.

 

Video(s) of the Moment #2112: Declan McKenna

 
By on Thursday, 9th June 2016 at 6:00 pm
 

::plays Twilight zone music:: We’re at a palindromic number for today’s Video of the Moment, so I thought I’d gift you with something special. Well, two videos for the price of one. How’s that? Declan McKenna, who wowed both Carrie and me at SXSW 2016 back in March, has a new music video out this week for his single ‘Bethlehem’. Continuing in the same fine fashion as in previous singles ‘Paracetamol’ and ‘Brazil’, the Hertfordshire teen tackles another decidedly un-pop topic in his lyrics.

As the first video below portrays – or at least what we’re led to believe – is that as might be expected for a song named after a famous religious site, ‘Bethlehem’ is about escaping the shackles of restrictive religion. Also included below is a live version of the single, with McKenna and his band rocking out in the studio last month. It’s cool to listen to and watch, as when Carrie and I saw him in Austin, he was performing alone and with the crutch of a tabletop of equipment and plenty of effects pedals. In this live video, you get a better sense of what it would be to see Declan McKenna play live. Watch both videos featuring ‘Bethlehem’ below. For more on Declan McKenna on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ce_ICrHVfU[/youtube]

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npyWV6RXdEY[/youtube]

 

Live Review: PORTS with ROE at Derry Glassworks (‘The Devil is a Songbird’ album launch) – 28th May 2016

 
By on Wednesday, 8th June 2016 at 3:00 pm
 

Words by Aine Cronin-McCartney, header photo by Olga Kuzmenko

Releasing their highly anticipated debut album ‘The Devil is a Songbird’ on the 26th of May to momentous acclaim, PORTS embarked on a short Irish tour. They returned home to Derry to celebrate their success on the road. The charming setting of the Glassworks, with its old and exquisite feel, was the perfect location for such beautiful acts. Sitting upstairs, it was almost like sitting in the pews of a church, with PORTS commanding the sermon, adding a very spiritual element to the night.

In front of an already decent sized crowd so early in the night, opening act ROE is tranquil with her soothing voice accompanied by her serene guitar playing. While nerves are evident, it does nothing to diminish her ability, as her confidence grows through each song, especially as it is just herself and her guitar on stage. The simple but melodic tune of ‘Ghost’ is reminiscent of early Laura Marling. With her tender and authentic lyrics, Roe makes for a lovely opening act for the evening. With definite potential, her last song called ‘Echoes’ is the highlight of her set, receiving a joyous reception from the crowd. This is certainly just the beginning of what we are to see from her.

With his entertaining stage presence, BBC Radio Ulster’s Stephen McCauley insured there was never a dull moment while the audience anticipated the arrival of the main attraction of the night. As the whole stage becomes occupied by both PORTS and the Prima Quartet, as the musicians gather onstage, they’re evidently elated at the reception they are greeted with. At this point, the Glassworks is brimming with an audience who have waited for this night for a long time, and the atmosphere surging through the venue is one of excitement and pride.

They open their set with the faultless and stirring ‘Remedies’, the perfect introduction with singer Steven McCool’s fervent vocals and the band’s characteristic harmonies. With the striking guitar from Ryan Griffiths and effortless playing from Mark O’Doherty, it’s palpable that the night has truly begun, as the audience edge ever closer to the stage. ‘Gameplay’ emphasises only further the beautiful and echoing harmonies the band have perfected, with the song building to a crescendo that sees the audience react joyfully.

The absolutely exquisite ‘I’d Let You Win’ is made all the more stunning with the accompaniment of the Prima Quartet and Conor Mason’s emotional piano, and the audience responds ecstatically. Making their way through the full tracklisting of ‘The Devil is a Songbird’, it becomes obvious the musicianship and artistry that goes into each of their songs, with McCool managing to so carefully entwine his way through the music with his words. The lyrics prove as emotive as poetry alongside his gifted band, making the perfect combination.

Leading into their album title track, McCool asks the audience to be quiet while he begins something special. Taking two phones out, McCool explains to the audience that he wants to create a low humming reverb that happens when one phone calls another and is held close. The noise produced is similar to that of buzzing crickets, and the sound pulsates through the venue as every member of the audience takes part with their own phones. While this is something the band have done many times before, there is something exceptional about tonight, as the audience remain completely silent throughout, making the moment evocative and moving. Tenderly framing profound and insightful lyrics, McCool stands at the front of the stage confident and self-assured while softly whistling a lonesome melody through his own phone, the Prima Quartet pluck their strings to create a haunting and enduring background with a subtle and isolated resonance.

Just as you think they can give no more, the band exude their last burst of energy. Concluding their set with ‘Ancient Wave’, the audience sing and dance as ardently as ever. The crowd have not wavered from their intense and impassioned position all evening, still eager for more as PORTS and the Prima Quartet leave the stage. Their ovations last long after they have left.

Home shows are always an emotional event particularly when celebrating something as colossal as an album release. But even more so for a band like PORTS, who have poured their heart and soul into the local music scene for such a long time, and this performance celebrated the pinnacle of their success. The whole night was a dream, with the beautiful, old and mystic venue to the ethereal harmonies by PORTS themselves. It has been a long time since I have witnessed such a committed and dedicated crowd who hung onto every word uttered by frontman McCool. The addition of the Prima String Quartet took PORTS songs to another level of beauty and at times, the raw emotion of the band was overwhelming as you could see the genuine sense of gratitude in each band member’s face. The whole evening was spectacular and will be a show that I will not forget soon.

 

This Must Be the Place 2016 Roundup (Part 3)

 
By on Wednesday, 8th June 2016 at 2:00 pm
 

Words by Adam McCourt

Following the overcapacity fiasco at Headrow House earlier in the evening, I decided to stay put and fight the grain of the exiting crowd to make sure I didn’t miss any of the next act, 20-year old singer/songwriter Julien Baker. I joined a handful of punters at the front of the room who were all facing the stage despite the clear lack of commotion. Ms. Baker soon appeared onstage to unpack her pedal board and work out how to connect her American plugs into UK converters.

We didn’t have to wait long before the 5-foot-nothing Tennessee native struck the first notes of the title track of her debut album ‘Sprained Ankle’. Anyone unfamiliar with Baker’s music was in for a very emotional treat, as Baker rambled through seven depressingly honest songs that touched on subjects such as rejection, forgiveness and alcohol abuse, all with undertones of love and heartache.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/wmGVIvf8Q6s[/youtube]

From the first collection of harmonics until the last click of her pedals in the final song, Baker’s audience were totally transfixed. After her first two songs, she took a moment to address us with a light-hearted story about being trapped in the venue’s elevator, which translated as her way of saying ‘it’s okay to smile’ whilst subtracting some attention from her openly revealing songs. I think at this point, people were laughing to hold back any other emotions that had culminated upon watching. The highlight of the set was Baker’s third song, ‘Vessels’. The incredible vocal projection from someone so small in stature and fragile in nature left a few audience members in tears, and her slight but effective melodic variations were happily accepted. Baker finished off her set with a major crowd pleaser from the aforementioned album, a track titled ‘Something’. The intensity of the song grew with each added layer of looped guitar, and its final lyric ‘I won’t think of anyone else’ left us with a spine-tingling feeling of fulfillment.

I took the time at this point to recuperate with a coffee before final act The Wytches took the stage to finish the day off. As I peacefully observed the bar, it was as evident as ever that This Must Be The Place exists for its love of the unusual, and the growing scene that is of quirky, neo-hipsters and surf-psych garage music. As the crowds went either to get a good spot at The Wytches upstairs, or to Headrow House to catch Tom Vek, I noticed flannel shirts, Doc Martens, skinny jeans and tote bags were the trends that carried through to the décor of the Belgrave, with its neon signs and long shared tables. It was a community more than anything, and with a community showcasing so many esoteric acts of music, who wouldn’t want to be a part of it?

I finished my coffee and made my way upstairs to the back of the hall so not to disturb the diehards at the front. The Wytches plodded on stage 15 minutes after their start time and instantly began terrorising the audience with sinister, shoegazey guitar melodies on top of equally sludgy grooves. The atmosphere in the venue was incredible. As you looked across the crowd you could see a clear circle set out as a mosh pit, filled with heads that continued to bounce up and down for the next 45 minutes.

The Wytches’ second song ‘Robe For Juda’ was the welcomed with open arms. As soon as the drop tempo of the chorus burst our ears, the crowd let out their anticipation in an eruption of moshing. Despite the furore of the audience, The Wytches kept calm and collected as they powered through their list of chaotic, feedback ridden songs, overloaded with screechy high gain vocals that to a certain degree sounded like Kurt Cobain if he were in more pain…if that’s even possible. There were other close connections to Nirvana within the trio, mainly in their stage presence. Singer and guitarist Kristian Bell stood idly hunched over as he wept into the mic, as if possessed. Bassist Daniel Rumsey had a floating, hoppy thing going on similar to Krist Novoselic, and drummer Gianni Honey smashed away at the kit in typical Dave Grohl fashion.

The crowd began to die down towards the end of The Wytches’ set, and in the back of the hall in what is more of a lounge area, some festivalgoers had given up and found seats. The fall in numbers had no effect on the three dark figures on stage. Finally ending in typical fashion, they set the feedback to full on their pedals as they struck the last chord and walked off, leaving the room filled with cheers and noise.

As we filed out of the venue and I made my way home, I thought to myself how friendly and undisturbed the festival was. It is inevitable that at festivals there are always groups who cause havoc, usually in the form of fighting, indulging in drugs, or doing something as stupid as walking between sites, shouting, “lads, lads, lads!”. But there was none of that here. This Must Be The Place attracted very like-minded people to a day where they could sit on old sofas in cool bars and sip craft beer in peace, whilst simultaneously taking in some of the country’s or even the world’s best up-and-coming talent in a subculture with an ever-growing market.

 

Live Gig Video: Everything Everything perform at the Low Four Studio launch party in Manchester

 
By on Tuesday, 7th June 2016 at 4:00 pm
 

‘Re-Make/ Re-Model’. Or so goes the Roxy Music song. And that other phrase bandied about, ‘everything is old is new again’. But is it really? Some friends of ours in Manchester are giving a new venture a go and naturally, as they’ve taken something from the great North West city and repurposed it and given it new life, we’re all for it.

In a building that dating back to 1956, a new space has been unearthed by local creatives, to be used how it was meant to be used. Formerly an old Granada TV recording studio, it’s now been rechristened and reopened for the benefit of us all under the name Low Four Studio. The plan is to offer high quality music tv out of Manchester and also provide an amazing yet intimate event space, both of which came together when they officially launched the new/old space at the end of May, right as the second May bank holiday was getting into full swing. To celebrate the opening of Low Four, they invited a small group of lucky fans to watch local favourites Everything Everything give the place a proper celebratory atmosphere.

Anyone who is anyone in the music business in Manchester knows who Matt Maxey is, but even I was surprised he was the emcee for the evening. It made me quite sad I wasn’t there to join in the fun at what has turned out to be such a beautiful space. However, we can now relive the night vicariously with a high-quality stream of Everything Everything performing ‘Blast Doors’, ‘Kemosabe’, ‘Spring Summer Winter Dread’, ‘The Wheel’ and ‘Distant Past’ right there at Low Four Studio. It’ll be great to see what Low Four has in store for us in the near future, definitely.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYAFCVlLWIk[/youtube]

 
 
 

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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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