#Review: James Arthur @ Brighton Centre, Brighton – 12/03/22

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On Saturday 12th March 2022, James Arthur arrived in Brighton to perform an incredible show in support of his latest album, It’ll All Make Sense In The End. With support from Sonia Stein, the evening was one packed with excitement and stunning performances. Here’s what we had to say about the show…


Sonia Stein

Sonia Stein was an interesting performer – she seems to eloquently blend funk and soul with contemporary pop, making for a really interesting sound. Think somewhere along a similar vein to Nao and you’re along the right track. She graced the stage in a bright yellow jacket, accompanied by just two band members, however between them, they produced a fantastically full-on sound. Between songs, she displayed an almost shy demeanour, yet her vocals were powerful, well-controlled and confident. If you’ve not checked her out yet, you can catch her live throughout James Arthur‘s current UK tour, or listen to her recordings on all streaming platforms.


James Arthur

He may have done something amazing simply by winning X Factor in the UK, but James Arthur demonstrated that he is so much more than just a talent show winner at his Brighton Centre show.

The singer/songwriter took to the stage to monumental applause from the packed crowd as he showed off not only his incredible vocals but his great guitar skills too, on opening track, ‘4000 Miles’.

From there, the artist proceeded to wow the audience with a mixture of his well-known hits, old cuts from previous records and some album-tracks from the recently-released, It’ll All Make Sense In The End.

The singer is undoubtedly a true professional, having spent 10 years in the industry, performing countless shows and releasing 4 albums to date, and his show appeared seamless throughout.

One thing that truly stands out in his performances though, is just how incredibly powerful and achingly beautiful his voice is live. Of course this is something you’d expect from having heard his studio recordings but it translates so well to his live performances as he shows off just how technically impressive his voice is…and it’s all done so effortlessly.

James Arthur engages with the crowd well telling little anecdotes here and there but particularly shows his gratitude to the crowd for their decade of support since winning the X Factor and how grateful he is to the show for allowing him to pursue his dreams, before launching in to the incredible single that started it all, ‘Impossible’.

Four albums in and nearly a couple of handfuls of tours down, it’s easy to see why this singer/songwriter has picked up such a fantastic following and just how wonderful his shows are. Whether you know each and every song or are relatively new to his music, I can’t recommend highly enough, seeing him live whenever you get the chance. He will not disappoint.

Highlights:

  • His vocals – I said it earlier, but his voice was truly remarkable – powerful and dynamic; something mesmerising to behold live.
  • The cruel joke he played on the audience by welcoming out Anne-Marie to perform an acoustic rendition of The Greatest Showman cover, ‘Rewrite The Stars’, before admitting she wasn’t actually coming.
  • The renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ he sung to a couple of members of the crowd were hilarious, particularly when he couldn’t hear the name of one of them and had to keep getting them to repeat their name numerous times.
  • The addition of a section of ‘Ready Or Not’ in the middle of ‘Sermon’ made for a great crowd-pleaser.

📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Matteo D’Ambrosio 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram.


 Setlist

4000 Miles
Medicine*
Sermon (including a snippet of ‘Ready Or Not’)
Falling Like The Stars
September
Can I Be Him
Rewrite The Stars (Acoustic)*
Safe Inside/Empty Space/Emily (Acoustic)
Naked (Acoustic)
Last Of The Whiskey
Always
Sun Comes Up*
Impossible*

Encore
Train Wreck
Lasting Lover*
Say You Won’t Let Go*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Simon Blackmore for arranging this review for me and to both James Arthur and Sonia Stein for putting on such incredible performances.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Bastille @ Chalk, Brighton – 12/02/22

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On Saturday 12th February 2022, Bastille arrived in Brighton to perform an intimate show in celebration of the release of their fourth studio album, Give Me The Future (out now – read our review of the album here). With support from singer/songwriter, Jacko Hopper, they wowed their crowd with a selection of both new and old songs. Here’s what we have to say about the show…


Jacko Hooper

This singer/songwriter performed with just a guitar and his voice (and at times was accompanied by a female singer by the name of Rebecca). The vocals were raw and powerful and had a folky feel to them. He had the crowd warmed up nicely however at times it felt a little awkward as he tried to “rock out” with just his guitar, which in a stripped back set, didn’t always feel right. That said, he was a good performer, solid songwriter and held the crowd’s attention well. I imagine with a full band, he’d be a really interesting watch.

Highlight: The harmonies provided when he was joined by fellow singer, Rebecca, created a nice depth to his sound.


Bastille

The band performed a short, special stripped-back set of songs, both new and old, to a select, sold-out crowd at Brighton’s Chalk. The band had just scored their third Number 1 album with the release of Give Me The Future and were clearly grateful for all their fans’ support.

Despite being a stripped-back performance, the band came accompanied by a lot of gear to create a unique sound for their set, including touring member Charlie Barnes, who used a lot of looping equipment to build the sound for each song. Lead singer and songwriter, Dan Smith, took the opportunity to interact well with the crowd between songs and came across as a very humble person.

This was something very different from their usual live performances (so I’m told), as Dan remained seated for large parts of the show, instead of jumping around the stage. Additionally, they had come up with interesting renditions of their songs and announced that they were actually going to be performing slightly different sets on each night of the tour.

One interesting part of the show was the performance of ‘Give Me The Future’, during which the band shared stories of people’s weird dreams they had been told about by fans from around the world.

Whilst parts of the set included auto-tune (as with some of their latest album), this was done for effect and to tie in with the futuristic tone of their latest record, however this didn’t detract from how wonderfully powerful and truly talented Dan’s live vocal was.

At one point, the band shared how someone had left a long and rambling negative comment about their stripped-back set from the night before, on their social media, and that they found it hilarious. They particularly liked the part where their use of auto-tune was compared to that of Cher‘s ‘Believe’ and went on to include a snippet in their performance of hit single, ‘Pompeii.

The show was modest and gave intimate access to the band, outside of their usual arena tours. It was a great set that had everyone singing along and provided a unique take on their usual sound. Whilst I loved every second of the show, and am grateful to have seen them in such an interesting way, I still hope to catch them on their full UK tour, later this year.

Highlights:

  • The special adaptations of both their new and old songs was a wonderful thing to have witnessed.
  • The energy of the performance, despite being more acoustic in nature, was captivating.
  • The crowd interactions were open, honest and often heartfelt, bringing the audience closer to the band.
  • The very nature of the show was unique and the fact that each night of the tour is set to be slightly different, meant you were a part of something special, just by being there.
  • The intricacies of the set were well-crafted, despite the band saying they were rusty from having two years away from performing.

📸 All of the photos of Bastille are credited to Chloe Hashemi 📷
Go and give her a follow on Instagram and Twitter, and visit her website.


 Setlist

Intro
Future Holds*
Happier
Power / Haunt
Warmth
Give Me The Future / Dreams
No Bad Days*
Distorted Light Beam / Good Grief
Pompeii (with a snippet of ‘Believe’ by Cher)*
Shut Off The Lights*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a huge thanks to Jenny Entwistle at Chuff Media for sorting out this review and to Bastille themselves for putting on an incredible set.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Fickle Friends @ Chalk, Brighton – 13/01/22

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On Thursday 13th January 2022, Fickle Friends kicked off their UK tour at Brighton’s Chalk, in support of their second studio album, Are We Gonna Be Alright? The band were supported by Foxgluvv and Valeras, before taking to the stage to play a packed set. Here’s what we have to say about the evening…


Foxgluvv

Stemming from London, support act Foxgluvv, aka Imogen Davies, showcased her unique pop style to early arrivals, in anticipation of the long-awaited Fickle Friends album tour.

You can see her influence from the likes of Madonna and even a touch of Kate Nash within her song writing – very 80’s inspired. She stood confidently on stage, singing songs about relationships, anxiety and identity in a sincere manner. Foxgluvv only had a handful of songs, as a debut album is still on the horizon. One standout song of the evening was the disco banger, ‘1:00AM’, with foot-stomping bass and synths, showing true potential, on par with Charlie XCX, for more exciting things to come in the future.

Michael Hundertmark


Valeras

Valeras were an interesting pair (I say pair, because they’re technically a duo but come accompanied by two other touring members). They packed a punch in terms of sound and the singer’s voice was great too – both raw and powerful. The singer, Rose, did a great job of captivating the audience too – especially when she revealed that she is part of the LGBTQ+ community and performed a personal song about this. There was another point in the set, where she stepped down from the stage and into the crowd, really capturing everyone’s attention. It was a great set and they’re certainly an act to keep an eye on.


Fickle Friends

Fickle Friends took to the stage and the crowd burst into applause and cheering as the band performed their incredibly catchy single, ‘IRL’. From there, the set was packed with a superb combination of songs, both new and old – some from their debut album, You Are Someone Else, some from EPs and some from their recently-released second album, Are We Gonna Be Alright? It was a fantastic showcase of their catalogue!

The band’s use of their instruments and backing tracks interwoven throughout the set was seamless and they demonstrated just how good they are at live performances…even after some time away from performing due to the pandemic. Singer, Natti’s voice was impeccable throughout too – effortless and powerful in all the right places.

The stage design was humble, with their second album cover as backdrop and some cool light towers on the stage to add interesting effects, but otherwise is was over to the band to wow their audience, and wow they did; the crowd were loving every second of the band’s performance, dancing and singing along throughout.

The set was split into some of their most upbeat pop tunes, then “rock hour” (as the band called it) and then “the home straight”, which consists of songs the band know inside out and have performed for so long they don’t have to think about it. Natti took a sip of her “home straight juice” and explained the layout of the set to everyone, making people laugh. “Rock hour” consisted of some of the tracks from their second album, one which they experimented with a heavier sound, in places (read our review here).

Possibly one of my favourite moments though, was the performance of second album title track, ‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’ The song was very different from the rest of the set and really showed off the talent in Natti’s voice, as she played guitar with fellow band member, Jack – it was beautiful.

Their crowd interactions were short and sweet but kept the show moving nicely.

One thing’s for certain; the band are polished in terms of their live performances and know how to entertain a crowd in all the right ways! If you haven’t seen them live yet, I strongly recommend catching them on this tour, especially as they’ve hinted that it might be a while before they tour again! Grab a ticket and dance and sing the night away.

Highlights:

  • The diversity of the setlist made for a truly brilliant show.
  • The energy that oozed out of the band was superb and made for a great set.
  • Favourite performances included ‘Glue’, ‘Not Okay’, ‘Love You To Death’ and ‘Say No More’.
  • ‘Pretty Great’ was a brilliant end to the set too as a vocoder was used in one part, Natti played some keyboard, Jack took centre stage and shredded the guitar, it was wonderfully chaotic in the best way and made for an outstanding close to the show.

📷 All of the photos in this post are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

IRL
Glue*
Not Okay*
Hello Hello
Not In The Mood
Brooklyn
Write Me A Song
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Love You To Death
Hard To Be Myself*
Are We Gonna Be Alright?
Say No More*
Swim
Pretty Great

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Kat from Deidkated PR for arranging this review and to Fickle Friends themselves, for putting on an incredible evening.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: John Newman @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 15/10/19

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On Tuesday 15th October 2019, John Newman arrived in Brighton, to play a sold out show at Concorde 2, to promote his new EP, A.N.i.M.A.L. He was supported by sibling trio, Tors. Here’s what we have to say about the show…


Tors

I remember being fascinated when I first saw Tors support Tom Walker a couple of years ago, so was pleasantly surprised to see the trio of brothers return to Brighton. They still amaze me with just how full their sound is, despite there just being three of them, partially due to the (standing) drummer and his clever use of drum pads.

The three-piece sibling outfit produce some captivating sounds and somehow evoke a sense of nostalgia – they could easily fit on an emotive film soundtrack. If you haven’t seen them; I would highly recommend at least giving them a listen on Spotify, or heading to a show of theirs, near you.

Highlight: The three-part vocal harmonies produced by the guys is remarkable and adds a really interesting depth to their performance. It’s a wonderfully special thing to hear done live.


John Newman

The lights went down as an evocative instrumental and rhythmic lighting got the crowd pumped up for John Newman to take to the stage. As the track came to an end, he arrived to great applause and did something quite unexpected and unusual, performing the first part of ‘Not Giving In’ as just him and an acoustic guitar – upbeat but not a full-on sound to arrive on stage to…but it worked so well! It really showcased his incredible talents, before the full band joined him on stage to finish the rest of the track.

He proceeded to play a range of his biggest, most well-known tracks, including his collaborations with the likes of Rudimental and Sigala, all the while, getting the crowd singing and dancing along. He sure likes to move himself too, as he constantly puts his utmost energy into every song, including busting out his rather quirky yet distinctive dancing.

His vocals were fantastic as well – although a little raspy in places (however this is somewhat part of his trademark sound). He was accompanied by two brilliant female, backing vocalists and a tight band too.

However, possibly one of the best bits about the show, was his candid sharing of anecdotes and opening up about his feelings. He talked about his recent struggles with his physical health, as well as issues with his mental health too; making promises that he will get stronger and never allow people to take control of his creative processes again (which comes after a couple of songs he released that he felt were not true to himself). He also shared how he is coming out of himself a lot more now and wanting to perform more intimate shows and chat more to fans, than he did in the past – showing a great deal of growth.

One thing’s for certain, John Newman could quite easily pack a small, local venue or a huge stadium but regardless, he would have everyone in the place dancing and singing like mad, the whole way through. His energy is relentless and set list is packed with upbeat songs which you can’t help but lose yourself in. You must go and see him live when you get the chance!

Highlights:

  • The sheer energy John Newman gives the audience is highly infectious and his vocals are incredible to hear live!
  • The set list was sensational and packed with hits to get the crowd moving, constantly!
  • His honest and open approach to interacting with the crowd is refreshing and to talk about his own struggles makes him very relatable – and he clearly has a lot of love for it, as people constantly call out, “I love you John!”
  • It may sound odd, but the stage lighting really made the performance stand out too – Concorde 2 is a great, local venue with about 600 capacity but the lighting could easily have worked in a stadium, but it was amazing to see that work at a smaller venue.
  • The backing band and vocalists just make the experience even better – it would be quite easy for him to use backing tracks but it adds something for him to vibe off.

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📷 All of the photos are credited to Michael Hundertmark 📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Intro
Not Giving In
Give Me Your Love*
Feelings
Cheating
Losing Sleep
The Hardest Word Is Goodbye
Forever’s Not Long Enough
Mama
Animal
Tiring Game
Come And Get It*
Blame
Feel The Love*

Encore
Without You
Stand By Me
Love Me Again

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to John Newman and Tors for putting on incredible performances and to Warren Higgins from Chuff Media for setting this review up for me.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: IDLES @ Brighton Dome, Brighton – 29/03/19

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On Friday 29th March 2019, IDLES arrived in Brighton to play an excellent show, following their Brit Award nomination and in support of their second album, Joy As An Act Of Resistance. The band were supported by Crows. Here’s what we thought of the show…


Crows

There’s something instantly hypnotic about this band with their heavy, repetitive and dare I say, almost monotonous drone of sound that sits somewhere between Editors and something much darker. They’re definitely sat on the less pure side of indie and not necessarily for everyone but they’re stylistically edgy and even though the singer’s vocal is quite bland, it is intentionally done to fit with the style and somehow it just works…really well!

Highlight: I particularly loved the singer’s use of two different microphones – one for more crisp vocals and the other for shouts and harmonic wails that have tons of reverb on – it’s a pretty unique element to the performance. What’s more – he knows how to get lost in the music and really let loose!

Setlist

Silver Tongues
Demeanour
Wednesday’s Child
Empyrean
The Itch
Hang Me High
Whisper
Chain Of Being


IDLES

A hum of anticipation rang through the crowd as the lights went down and IDLES took to the stage. Surrounding the band, were a ring of strobe-like lights which continuously circled the band, getting progressively faster, as they launched into opening song, ‘Colossus’.

Whilst this is not a band I would normally enjoy, I can appreciate the energy that emanates from their performances, bringing punk into the modern, contemporary age.

The band don’t let up for a minute with their passionate, in-your-face and downright ballsy demeanour, fronted by Joe Talbot, who, throughout the show, makes references to now being sober and how he’s recently become a father. He also shares little anecdotes and passes comments on what he’s passionate about, like the importance of looking after each other, when you “argy-bargy” in the crowd.

This is shouty, grungy and lyrically dynamic punk that has picked up fans of all ages – a truly diverse crowd watched in awe as the band members got progressively more pumped up and not once, let the energy in the room, drop.

Even if they’re not your sort of thing, I still recommend checking them out; they put on a great show and they just continue getting bigger, so try and catch them at a more intimate venue, before they’re selling out arenas!

Highlights:

  • When both Lee Kiernan and Mark Bowen got off the stage and worked their way through the crowd to perform amongst the audience, sitting on the floor, before being crowd surfed back to the front…epic!
  • Joe Talbot’s energy throughout was infectious, particularly as he pumped himself up, punching his arms up and down in front of him, like he was operating a pneumatic drill!
  • As the band started their set, the circling lights were mesmerising and quite hypnotic and the audible chaos, the end of their set descended into after Joe left the stage, was equally amazing.
  • The genuine care Joe showed for his fans and the audience by looking out for them and also sharing anecdotes, really engaged the crowd.

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📷 All of the photos in this post, are credited to Damon Peirce  📸
Why not give him a follow on Instagram and Twitter or check out his website.


 Setlist

Colossus
Well Done
I’m Scum
Queens
Great
Danny Nedelko
Divide & Conquer
1049 Gotho
Love Song
Never Fight A Man With A Perm
Mother
Faith In The City
All I Want For Christmas (Is You) (Mariah Carey cover)
Benzocaine
Samaritans
Exeter
Television
Rottweiler


Finally, I want to say a big thanks to Rob from Sonic PR for making this review happen and also to both IDLES and Crows for putting on a great show!


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: This Wild Life & William Ryan Key @ The Haunt, Brighton – 09/02/19

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On Saturday 9th February 2019, William Ryan Key and This Wild Life arrived in Brighton in support of their recent EP and album releases. They were supported by Brighton-based OKTOBA. It was a magical evening, particularly as it was the last night of their month-long tour. Here’s what we thought of the evening…


OKTOBA

Chris Athorne (better known by his moniker, OKTOBA) performed a wonderfully haunting set with his unique brand of alternative folk. His vocal melodies are powerful and ethereal. He’s clearly a very talented songsmith – a great artist in the making and one to watch.


William Ryan Key

As a wonderfully atmospheric introductory soundtrack blasted through the speakers, William Ryan Key (best known for his days as the singer and guitarist in Yellowcard) took to the stage, with just his acoustic guitar, before launching into his first song.

There is something melancholic about seeing this singer performing without his former band mates, but equally something beautifully vulnerable and honest about his latest penmanship, making this performance something special.

It wasn’t long before Ryan (as he’s affectionately known by his family and friends) was joined by Anthony Del Grosso (from This Wild Life) on the drums, making for an even larger sound.

Though Ryan is keen to promote his new material, it was nice to see him pay homage to his Yellowcard days, performing a range of songs from the band’s back catalogue, with some anecdotes thrown in, along the way.

William Ryan Key has a powerful and distinctive voice and though it’s sad that his former band are no longer around, it’s great that he’s still making music and hearing his voice in this new light is mesmerising. He even said he hopes to be back next year, with a full album…what great news! I highly recommend going to check him out live – you won’t regret it.

Highlights:

  • It was really great to get a candid insight into some of the stories behind his new, solo tracks and also how he coped (or didn’t) with the ending of Yellowcard.
  • It was hilarious when he got the audience pumped for This Wild Life by saying, “Their set is a lot more audience participation, a lot less VH1 Storytellers, like my set.” Great humour!
  • The incredible use of backing tracks, perfectly in time with his live performance made his set sound huge, even though it was just him and Anthony on stage.

Setlist

The Same Destination
Mortar and Stone
Only One (Yellowcard)*
Vultures*
Old Friends
Great Unknown
The Bowery
Downtown (Up North)
Keeper (Yellowcard)
MSK (Yellowcard)
Fields & Fences (Yellowcard)
Ocean Avenue (Yellowcard)*
Virtue

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


This Wild Life

Kevin Jordan and Anthony Del Grosso took to the stage to perform their 12-song set consisting mainly of new songs from their latest album, Petaluma, with some older offerings in the mix too.

For an acoustic rock duo, their sound is remarkably full, and similarly to William Ryan Key, make incredible use of backing tracks and clever blends of their talents, with Anthony even playing the guitar and singing, whilst using his feet to play the bass drum and hi-hats all at the same time – an amazingly talented individual!

One thing that I found pretty funny was that about 95% of their songs ended with Kevin shouting out, “Very cool!” to the crowd – it comes across, almost like a comfort saying and it’s quite humbling that he’s clearly very appreciative of the audience’s reaction. It’s kind of sweet really.

The energy the band gives off is contagious – having never seen the band before or heard much of their music, I found myself completely drawn in by them and moving, even participating, along with the rest of the crowd and for this reason alone, I can’t recommend seeing them, highly enough.

It’s perfectly clear that the pair have a loyal following over here in the UK drawing in a packed house and it’s easy to see why – their interesting blend of rock elements with mainly acoustic instrumentation and a rather feel-good sound (even if some of the songs themselves are self-confessed to be pretty negative) make for something truly special. I’d definitely like to see them play live again – if you haven’t already, you should check them out!

Highlights:

  • It was pretty adorable when Kevin Jordan explained that they’d been out on tour for a month and he was really missing his dog, so asked the audience members to get up pictures of their dogs and show him, whilst performing ‘Puppy Love’.
  • Before performing ‘Hold You Here’Kevin looked for couples to dedicate the song to – when he found one, he got the audience to clear a space for them to slow dance to but then hilariously got out a torch to shine on them – very funny.
  • The combination of many different instruments and backing tracks the pair used throughout the set was awe-inspiring. Their vocal harmonies are awesome too!
  • Kevin‘s on-stage banter is super witty too – making those between-songs moments light-hearted.
  • Whilst Anthony moved some bits around the stage, Kevin performed a great little mashup of 3 massive blink-182 hits (‘What’s My Age Again’ / ‘All The Small Things’ / ‘First Date’) which got the crowd going even more!

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 Setlist

Concrete
Positively Negative
Puppy Love
Westside
History
Hold You Here
Ripped Away
What’s My Age Again? / All The Small Things / First Date (blink-182 cover)*
Catie Rae
Headfirst*
Pull Me Out
No More Bad Days

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a massive thanks to Andy Snape and Xavier Candelaria from Raw Power Management for making this review happen! Also an even bigger thanks to OKTOBA, William Ryan Key and This Wild Life for putting on such an awesome show!


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#EventSpeaks: LAUREL @ The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 01/10/18


   

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On Monday 1st October 2018, LAUREL came to Brighton in support of her debut album, Dogviolet (check out our review here). Since her last, solo performance in Brighton, the songwriter returned with a full band to delight her audience with offerings from her recent record. She was supported by Another Sky and her guitarist, Polly Money.


Polly Money

It always amazes me how someone with just an electric guitar and their voice can produce such a big sound but Polly Money certainly achieved this with her performance. Just funky guitar riffs and her sugary-sweet vocal (somewhat similar to that of Leah McFall or NAO), wowed the audience. A very humble performance with some lovely melodies.

Polly Money Instagram


Another Sky

This band truly blew me away (and I believe the rest of the audience too!) – they have an incredibly full-on sound with excellent use of backing tracks as well as their live instruments. Each song of theirs was pretty unique – for example, the opening to their set was ambient and airy whilst their next song brought about a huge wave of excitement due to its intensity and just how tight their performance was. The vocalist’s voice is incredibly diverse, whilst mainly quite low-pitched, is capable of a wide range. The guitarist had some funky little moves too. Another Sky are definitely going to be a band to watch out for, and certainly recommend catching them live!

Highlight: The biggest highlight, was this one note the vocalist did, towards the end of one of their songs; it was so loud, high-pitched and perfect that it was all-consuming. It sent shivers down my back.


LAUREL

Having seen LAUREL play a solo set at The Green Door Store (review here) back in 2016, it was amazing to watch her performing with a full band. Although it was a relatively short set, it was amazing to see her playing songs from Dogviolet, with a full sound.

Some of the best songs were: ‘All Star’ for its wonderful guitar riff; ‘Lovesick’, which is just a catchy track to get the audience going, ‘Sun King’ which was beautifully intimate – just LAUREL with an acoustic guitar and ‘Life Worth Living’ – it’s just a downright tune!

Of course I won’t be the first person to say it, but there are great similarities between LAUREL and Lana Del Rey, however there is something much more vulnerable about LAUREL and it feels like she has more integrity about her.

It was also interesting to find out that she has recently released a book called, The Mutterings of a Laurel, which is a journal she kept during the writing and recording of Dogviolet – definitely worth checking out.

Having seen LAUREL perform twice now, I can assure you that she puts on a show you don’t want to miss. You really need to catch her now before she’s selling out bigger shows, especially since she just filmed her appearance for Later… with Jools Holland the morning of the Brighton show…sounds like the start of something big for this little star.

Highlights:

  • LAUREL is a very humble artist with an endearing awkwardness about her audience interaction, you can’t help but love.
  • The hilarious names she has for her guitars, which her manager proudly embarrassed her by announcing. It’s not my place to share them, but go see her live and you might find them out! 😂
  • Her ability to perform songs with such passion that you are drawn in by her every word – she’s a real star.

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Setlist

All Star
Lovesick
Hold Tight
Sun King (Solo Acoustic)
Same Mistakes
South Coast
Adored
Blue Blood
Life Worth Living*

This song can be viewed in the YouTube video, below.


Finally, I want to say a big thanks to Chris (LAUREL’s manager) and Henry (in LAUREL’s PR team) for enabling this review to happen. A big thanks also to Polly Money, Another Sky and LAUREL herself, for putting on such an incredible, intimate show.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#EventSpeaks: Brighton Pride 2018 @ Preston Park, Brighton – 04/08/18


   

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On Saturday 4th August 2018, Preston Park was brought to life with the UK’s largest, annual Pride Festival and this year was especially huge, with over 57,000 people partying the day away. This was, in part, due to the presence of the one and only Britney Spears, headlining the main stage. Also performing were Louise, MNEK, Mabel, Pixie Lott and Ella Eyre. The afternoon was utterly incredible and people had a truly unforgettable time…the best Brighton Pride yet!

Relive the whole thing with our Brighton Pride Weekender playlist.


Mabel

Mabel‘s performance was great – considering she’s not released an album yet, I still knew most of the songs she performed (through their online presence and radio airplay), such as ‘Fine Line’‘Ring Ring’‘My Lover’ and ‘Finders Keepers’ (which can be seen in the YouTube video below). However, even those I didn’t know were captivating to watch due to her excellent live vocals and high energy. A lot of her songs have clear R&B and reggae influences which means her debut album (that she is currently working on) should be really interesting!


Pixie Lott

It’s been a while since Pixie Lott‘s last album (the self-titled Pixie Lott in 2014) but she sure showed how sensational her voice and just how many massive hits she’s had with this fun-filled performance. Some of the stand-out performances included ‘Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)’‘Boys And Girls’‘Turn It Up’ and ‘All About Tonight’ (which can be seen in the YouTube video below). I’m just gutted she didn’t perform her summery 2017 collaboration with Anton Powers‘Baby’. Regardless, her vocals were flawless and she looked like she was having the time of her life…let’s just hope it won’t be long until a new album emerges!


Ella Eyre

Considering she’s only had one album, Ella Eyre has had a lot of hits, not only through her own tracks but also through her incredible collaborations. The set was packed with notable performances and in fact I could mention them all for different reasons…she was just truly remarkable.

‘Good Times’ followed by ‘Together’ really got the crowd going; ‘LOV(E)’ had some great audience participation elements with a real Caribbean feel to it; her cover of Jermaine Stewart‘s ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ was pure perfection and then her final tracks were all some of her most notable collaborations – ‘Waiting All Night’ (originally with Rudimental), ‘Answerphone’ (originally with Banx & Ranx) and it all came to a close with the monster hit ‘Came Here For Love’ (originally with Sigala). Her vibe is very dancehall meets drum & bass topped off with a touch of soul…it was the perfect summer sound to bop around to at this year’s Pride and get everyone warmed up for Britney!

Highlights:

  • Her vocals were flawless and crowd interaction was top notch.
  • The songs she performed were perfect – the audience pretty much knew them all and if they didn’t, she taught them to us.
  • Her use of audience participation was brilliant, particularly on ‘LOV(E)’.
  • The energy she pours into her performance is truly contagious and certainly got people moving!

Setlist

Good Times*
Together
LOV(E)
Ego
We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off (Jermaine Stewart Cover)*
Waiting All Night
Answer Phone
Came Here For Love*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Britney Spears

BRITNEY. WAS. AMAZING! Sure, she didn’t sing a word live, but when you look past that, her performance was out of this world!

It had everything you could want from a superstar of her calibre; it was fast-paced with high energy, superb choreography, several costume changes, interesting set pieces and video backdrops, a live band and it was packed to bursting point with hit after hit. Including some off her most recent album, Glory, which I was really pleased about!

Her set was further diversified with different versions or intros to some of her hits, such as ‘…Baby, One More Time’ and Toxic’.

With someone like Britney it’s very difficult to pick out favourite performances of tracks as it’s just one big, epic show that you can’t help but enjoy from start to finish but if I had to pick some; ‘Work Bitch’ was an incredible way to start the set and had the audience going wild, ‘Me Against The Music’ had some amazing set pieces just like the music video (cracked walls), ‘Slumber Party’ as the choreography was sexy and the song is just sensational and ‘Till The World Ends’ as the audience were loving every second of it and at the end, the confetti canon exploded with rainbow colours…it was magical!

It is a shame that Britney doesn’t really sing live but there are so many other ways she makes up for it and I still can’t believe she headlined Brighton Pride…it was certainly a performance you did not want to miss!

Highlights:

  • There really are so many highlights to choose from; the colours, the lights, the sounds, the movements; she is just a sensational performer that puts her every effort into what she does – she’s remarkable!
  • Oh and Britney getting someone out of the audience to chain up and be a part of the choreography for a song was hilarious!

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Setlist

Act I
BRITNEY (Introduction)
Work Bitch*
Womanizer*
Break The Ice/Piece Of Me*

Act II
Darkness (Interlude)
…Baby One More Time/Oops!… I Did It Again

Act III
If I’m Dancing (Interlude)
Me Against The Music*
Gimme More
Clumsy/Change Your Mind

Act IV
Scream & Shout (will.i.am Interlude)*
Boys
Do You Wanna Come Over?
Work It/Get Ur Freak On/WTF (Where They From) (Dance Interlude)

Act V
Get Naked (I Got A Plan) (Interlude)
I’m A Slave 4 U
Make Me…*
Freakshow
Do Somethin’

Act VI
Magic Circus (Interlude)
Circus
If U Seek Amy
Breathe On Me
Slumber Party*
Touch Of My Hand

Act VII
Jungle Fever (Interlude)
Toxic
Stronger/(You Drive Me) Crazy*

Encore
Till The World Ends*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say a massive thanks to the Brighton Pride organisers for putting together such an incredible line-up for this year’s Pride…it was amazing! Now…how the hell are you gonna top Britney next year?!


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: David Ford @ The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 22/06/18


   

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On Friday 22nd June 2018, David Ford came to Brighton and performed a sold-out show at The Hope & Ruin in support of his new album, Animal Spirits. He was supported by the angelic-voiced Beth Rowley.


Beth Rowley

Beth Rowley put on a fantastic set, supported on guitar, by David Ford himself. The songstress delivered a flawless set of her trademark sound, which combines elements of soul, gospel and jazz. It was wonderful to see this accomplished singer and songwriter at a modest-sized venue, performing a raw and stripped-back set.

Highlight: It was great to see the two artists collaborating for her set and her voice was simply stunning.


David Ford

As David Ford took to the stage, applause erupted as people eagerly anticipated the talented songwriter’s first song, which was ‘Downmarket’, taken from his new album, Animal Spirits.

The set consisted of a real mixture of new and old songs, intertwined with Ford’s crowd interaction which is laced with his incredibly dry sense of humour (as can be seen in the ‘State Of The Union’ video below).

The multi-instrumentalist used his loop pedal to perfection, crafting entire songs, by himself, showing that it is entirely possible to be a one-man-band, if you’ve got the talent. This is something he’s developed since his debut solo single, ‘State Of The Union’ (the video for which was shot in one take), but it’s still impressive to see done live!

He doesn’t overuse this though, as certain songs were performed solely on one instrument, such as ‘Song For The Road’, for which he brought but Beth Rowley to collaborate on.

In fact their cover of Aretha Franklin and George Michael‘s ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’ closed the show and it truly sent people away on a high; it’s so nice to see that a wonderful songwriter isn’t afraid to do a cover when they like a particular song!

David Ford is honestly someone you need to see live at least once in your life. He is captivating in many ways; from his ability to play various instruments and construct songs with a loop pedal, to his quick wittedness and dry interaction with the crowd…it truly will be an evening to remember!

Highlights:

  • David Ford‘s impeccable use of a loop pedal means he can cleverly build a song to sound like a full band, all by himself.
  • He’s an incredibly talented musician too, playing multiple instruments; it’s truly a marvel to behold.
  • The chaotic end to ‘State Of The Union’ was loud and dramatic but oh so brilliant!
  • The balance of new and old songs was great; it gave a flavour for the new album but paid homage to previous releases.
  • The duet of Aretha Franklin and George Michael‘s ‘I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)’ was stunning.

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 Setlist

Downmarket
Isn’t It Strange
Waiting For The Storm
Animal Spirits*
Why Don’t You Answer Your Telephone?
To Hell With The World
Real Damn Slow
One Of These Days (with Beth Rowley)
Song For The Road (with Beth Rowley)
State Of The Union*
I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) (Aretha Franklin & George Michael cover) (with Beth Rowley)

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube playlist, below.


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to David Ford himself, for being so accommodating and allowing me to come and do this review; it was a fantastic evening!


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#EventSpeaks: Now, Now @ The Great Escape 2018, Brighton Beach – 18/05/18


   

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On Friday 18th May 2018 (the same day they released their brand new album, Saved – review here), American band, Now, Now performed their second set at Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival 2018.

Upon arrival at The Hub, we waited patiently for the band to take to the stage but no sooner had KC taken to the stage, than she announced that they were in fact going to take the set out to the beach, for a short, impromptu, acoustic show.

The audience happily followed them out to a spot in the middle of Brighton beach, where everyone sat down and gathered closely around the band for one of the most intimate shows I have ever witnessed.

The modest set consisted of just 5 songs (4 from their new album, Saved) and showcased the brilliance of the songwriting itself, regardless of the slick production on the record.

In honesty, the first song was quite tricky to hear, due to there being no PA system and the beach being fairly busy, but after the band warmed up and the crowd had adjusted, we could make out the songs perfectly…in fact it was almost like the beach quietened down, just for them.

After the short, 5-song set, the band thanked people for coming and stuck around to chat with people and it became quite the intimate gathering. This was far from a conventional gig, but it was definitely something special…something you would have been privileged to have witnessed.

Highlights:

  • The sheer fact that the band took their show outside, to the beach, was a wonderful thing.
  • KC’s clear range of emotions at being able to put out the band’s third album, showed a very vulnerable and sweet side to her. There was a lot of gratitude for the support they receive too.
  • The time they took to speak to their fans and members of audience, on the beach, was really special too.

 Setlist

SGL
Drive
Set It Free
Prehistoric
AZ*

These songs can be viewed in the YouTube video, below.


Finally, I want to say a big thanks to Now, Now for making this a wonderfully unique experience, and to Isobel and Rick at Whiteboard PR for letting me know about this special show.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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