#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.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: James Blunt @ Brighton Centre, Brighton – 03/02/22

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On Thursday 3rd February 2022, James Blunt arrived in Brighton to kick off his The Stars Beneath My Feet Tour, seeing the artist perform a whole bunch of his greatest hits to a packed crowd. With support from Irish singer, Gavin James, the event was incredible from start to finish. Here’s what we have to say about it…


Gavin James

The singer took to the stage and instantly wowed the crowd with the beautiful, falsetto-driven ‘Nervous’. Starting out as just the singer and a guitar, he proceeded to be joined by a keys player and drummer, creating a deeply rich sound. The set was packed with more rock-like tracks such as the guitar solo-laden ‘Coming Home’ to the piano-led ‘Always’ (before he switched back to guitar, mid-song!) The singer really drew the audience in with his witty crowd interactions and ability to get everyone singing parts of his songs, along with him. He is a really interesting artist and someone to definitely keep an eye on!

Highlight: The beautiful falsetto notes and powerful full-on vocals Gavin James can create with his voice is truly astounding and wonderfully captivating!

 Setlist

Nervous
Heaven
Coming Home
Tired
Circles
Always
Hearts On Fire
Only Ticket Home


James Blunt

Say what you will about James Blunt, the guy is a fantastic performer and comes with a massive, loyal fan base.

From the moment the intro music blared through the speakers and the TV screens descended to cover his entrance, before slowly rising again to reveal Blunt himself, the crowd were cheering in anticipation.

Known for his sense of humour on social media, he was also just as quick-witted in person, making jokes about singing ‘You’re Beautiful’ 22 times, performing his “greatest hit” tour (saying because he only has one) and telling people to sit tight as he took to the piano before belting out a series of sad songs.

This was a truly wonderful show, that demonstrated the amazing talent he has, not only as a songwriter, but a performer too and showcased a diverse collection of songs (after all, this is a greatest hits tour), making it a performance to remember.

Whilst the screens above the stage added some diversity, the visual effects used were at times a little corny but did add to the arena feel of the show.

If you get a chance to catch James Blunt on this UK tour, I highly recommend it – whether you know him for his obvious hits, or are a long-term fan, he will not disappoint with his showmanship! I loved every second of it, despite not knowing every song, and would love to see him again.

Highlights:

  • James Blunt‘s banter with the crowd was on point and always had the audience in stitches.
  • The performance was faultless – he was a true professional at his art…as were his band.
  • There was the perfect combination of uplifting tracks, sad songs and even rockier elements, showing just what a great collection of music he has created over his career so far.
  • The way he held the crowd in the palm of his hand was something amazing to behold too, and there were people who clearly knew every word to every song, showing just how much more he is than ‘You’re Beautiful’.
  • ‘Wisemen’, ‘Love Under Pressure’, ‘Postcards’ (particularly for the use of the ukuleles), ‘OK’ and ‘1973’ were among some of the best songs of 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

Breathe*
Wisemen*
Carry You Home
Adrenaline
The Greatest
Goodbye My Lover
High
Smoke Signals
I Really Want You
Love Under Pressure
Postcards
So Long, Jimmy
Same Mistake
Monsters
Coz I Luv You
You’re Beautiful*
Stay The Night*
OK

Encore
Where Is My Mind? (Pixies Cover)
Bonfire Heart
1973*

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


Finally, I want to say a HUGE thanks to Tom Pearce from Good Soldier for sorting out this review and to both Gavin James and James Blunt for putting on such a great show!


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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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.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: MUNA @ Concorde 2, Brighton – 02/12/19

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On Monday 2nd December 2019, MUNA arrived in Brighton to perform the first date of their Saves The World Tour – their first ever headline UK tour. They band were supported by Fake Laugh. Here’s what we had to say about the incredible evening…


Fake Laugh

Armed with a fellow band member and a laptop of backing tracks, it’s incredible how Kamran Khan (aka Fake Laugh) creates such a full sound – as if he had an entire band with him. The set was filled with original tracks that could easily sit well in an American teen drama (think maybe The O.C.?!) due to his interesting brand of dreamy indie-pop. That said, he also pulled out a couple of excellent, more rocky guitar riffs that added another interesting depth to the set. Although he is somewhat awkward with his crowd interactions, that doesn’t stop him from getting the crowd moving.

Highlight: There was one particular song towards the end of the set, which I don’t believe is online, but the guitar riff and melody, paired with Kamran’s smooth vocal, was a tremendous thing to watch and dance to.


MUNA

Following a beautiful, instrumental intro, MUNA took to the stage and launched straight into ‘Number One Fan’ to rapturous applause from the crowd! They proceeded to play a string of songs, both old and new, from their debut (About U) and sophomore (Saves The World) albums.

Their Saves The World Tour marks the first headline, UK tour for the band and the Brighton show was their first date of the tour. To say the set was outstanding would be an understatement – the band really were jaw-droppingly brilliant, from their tight performance and engaging stage presence to Katie’s incredible, powerful vocals and they played to a room filled with nothing but love!

It doesn’t matter if you are a massive MUNA fan and know all the words to every one of their songs, or if you are new to them, because the vibes from both the band and the crowd are electric and every single person is able to feel welcome, accepted and a part of something special.

The relationship between the trio is genuine and packed with honest banter – at one point Katie made a small mistake and the others joked with her about it openly to the crowd but it was all taken in good fun and the audience found it hilarious too.

What possibly struck me most about seeing this band perform is the live interpretations of their tracks and just how genre-bending they really are! On some songs you can hear an almost country twinge to their style whilst on others they rock out, with one track even having a metal-style moment to it, which sent the crowd cheering. However at their core, this band are still a dark pop powerhouse with an 80s throwback feel to them.

Whether you’re a long-time MUNA fan or only just hearing about them, I cannot recommend highly enough, to try and catch them live – they will not disappoint and you will not stop moving throughout their entire set!

Highlights:

  • The stunning vocal performance from Katie (Gavin) throughout was breath-taking!
  • The chemistry between the trio (and their touring drummer and bassist) was electric – their actual performance was impeccable too!
  • The energy coming from the band was reflected throughout the crowd, filling the room with love, excitement and a truly euphoric energy.
  • The undertones of various genres being blended together, makes the band a real pleasure to watch – and as Naomi even said at one point, she “really believes [they] are the best f**king band in the world!”
  • It was a really nice touch that the band requested the venue make their toilets gender neutral for the event, to ensure everyone feels comfortable – a really caring touch for their very diverse fanbase.

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


 Setlist

Number One Fan*
Stayaway
Crying On The Bathroom Floor
Around U
Never
Navy Blue
Everything
Winterbreak
Taken
Pink Light
Good News (Ya-Ya Song)
Hands Off
Loudspeaker*
I Know A Place*
It’s Gonna Be Okay, Baby

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


Finally, I want to say massive thanks to xyz and also Chloe Hashemi for her incredible live photos of the show!


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#ThrowbackThursday: blink-182 – ‘What’s My Age Again?’

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I can’t believe it’s been 20 years already, since blink-182 first released their massive hit single, ‘What’s My Age Again?’ from their hugely successful album, Enema of the State.

Without a doubt, the trio have firmly embedded this as a punk rock classic that is sure to stay a firm fan favourite for years to come.

2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the single and album and although Tom DeLonge is currently not a member of the band, the members still publicly show support for each other’s projects and are celebrating the release with a tour and the addition of singer, Matt Skiba.

Not only are the lyrics witty but the music video is possibly one of the most hilarious and iconic ones of its time. I don’t think many people can have missed this…mainly due to the band’s hilarious nakedness running down the street, but in case you have somehow managed not to see it, check it out below!

What are your thoughts of this blink-182 track, 20 years after its release? Do you have a #ThrowbackThursday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘What’s My Age Again’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/whats-my-age-again/1440839912?i=1440840493


#Review: ONE OK ROCK @ Roundhouse, London – 10/05/19

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On Friday 10th May 2019, the massive Japanese band – ONE OK ROCK – arrived in London. It was only the second date on their EU leg, of the Eye Of The Storm World Tour and they performed at none other than London’s renowned Roundhouse. The band put on a night to remember, supported by British pop outfit, Anteros.


Anteros

The band took to the stage with their vibrant personas and glitzy 80s synths, further reinforced by lead singer, Laura Hayden’s sparkly red dress. This band are a wonderful blend of indie, pop and new wave – think Blondie meets modern-day contemporary pop; along a similar vein to Fickle Friends. There are certain punk-like trends to Hayden’s stage presence, with her almost “don’t-give-a-damn” flounces around the stage, equally met with gusto – it’s quite mesmerising. The music is good and their energy was captivating to watch.

Highlight: The high-energy end to the band’s set made for a chaotic last impression, certain to leave people wanting more.


ONE OK ROCK

The band have only played in the UK a couple of handfuls of times but it was clear from their loyal fan base, just how much their performances are looked forward too, with a queue that lined up all round the streets, prior to the show.

As ONE OK ROCK took to the stage, the crowd whipped themselves up into a frenzy as the Japanese band launched into their opening track, ‘Push Back’. This was a set that despite the relatively small stage in comparison, felt just like an arena show…complete with pyros!

The set was teeming with a few older hits, plus a whole bunch of songs from their latest record, Eye Of The Storm (<— review here) – all of which had the crowd singing at the top of their lungs! Their energy was truly infectious from start to finish.

I was particularly impressed by Taka’s live vocals – so often you can hear little flaws in a singer’s voice when they’re performing live, but the power and effort he put into his performance was virtually flawless…even if he did keep fiddling with his in-ear throughout the show.

The quartet know just how to put on a show though; from Taka’s ability to capture the crowd by holding a particular stance and Toru’s rocking out with his guitar to Ryota’s powerful bass moves and Tomoya’s face poking up over the drums, as he beats away at them effortlessly – this is a band that you need to see live. It’s clear that they have spent a long time practising and perfecting their set – there isn’t too much between-song banter, but instead just packing in the songs, to give the audience a great time.

It was my first time seeing the band live and I had an amazing time – it’s so often that the UK send great bands and artists over to Japan to perform but it’s great to see a Japanese band coming over to the UK for a change! I strongly recommend catching this band live, the next time they make a rare appearance in the UK – you won’t be sorry, I promise!

Highlights:

  • Taka’s effortless vocals and stage presence alone, made the show thrilling to watch.
  • Having not heard too much of the band’s back catalogue, it was great to hear a lot of tracks from their most recent album, Eye Of The Storm.
  • There was an instrumental break during which Taka left the rest of the band to rock out on stage, demonstrating just how talented these musicians are – it was nice to see him let some of the other’s in the band have some of the limelight for a while, particularly a little drum solo from Tomoya.
  • The sheer polished-precision with which the band delivered their set, showed just how much rehearsing must have gone in to perfecting their live shows.
  • The loyalty of the crowd, singing back every word of every song, showed just how far-reaching their fan-base is.
  • PYROS! Pyrotechnics just make a show even better! It was great because they weren’t overused, just boosted a couple of songs when you least expected it.

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 Setlist

Push Back
We Are
Taking Off
Unforgettable
Clock Strikes
Head High
Take What You Want
Stand Out Fit In*
(Instrumental)
Giants
I Was King
Change*
The Beginning
Jaded
Mighty Long Fall

Encore
Wasted Nights

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


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Robbie Peacock for enabling this review to happen and to both ONE OK ROCK and Anteros for putting on a fantastic show.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other live reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Aaron Barrett from Reel Big Fish

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Reel Big Fish are undoubtedly one of the world’s biggest ska punk bands (as if you didn’t already know!) and December 2018 saw the band release their ninth studio album (and first new album in 6 years), Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! (click the link to read our review).

I was lucky enough and truly honoured that Aaron Barrett took some time out of the band’s busy tour schedule to talk to me!


Hey Aaron, so you‘ve been gearing up to release your ninth studio album, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance!’ and the buzz around it seems be great but how do you feel prior to a new release? Is it nerve-wracking or exciting?
Aaron Barrett: There is definitely a lot of excitement this time around because I think for the first time in my life I am totally confident in the record. I know it’s really good and the songs are awesome and I can’t wait for people to hear it! In the past I really always was insecure about the albums and thought people would hate the new stuff and I just dreaded everything about putting out a new one.

Well nothing to fear with this record…it’s great! So where did the idea for the title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
Aaron Barrett: That was just one of the songs I wrote for the album and I guess it’s just kind of how I’m feeling these days. Just make the best of whatever situation you’re in, that’s about all you can do sometimes.

What’s the track you’re most excited for people to hear?
Aaron Barrett: All of them! There are so many great songs on this record! I think my favorites are ‘Life Sucks; Let’s Dance’, ‘In Love Again’ and ‘I’d Rather Get It Wrong’.

All great tracks! What’s your usual process for writing/recording and where do you take inspirations from?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve never been a “Sit down and write a song/album” kind of guy. I pretty much just wait for song ideas to pop into my head. I might be at a restaurant, in the shower, at the beach, I never know where or when an idea will come. But when it does, I don’t record anything, I don’t write anything down, I just try to remember and I figure that if it’s good enough for me to remember for a few years, then it’s time to get out the guitar and figure out how it goes and show it to the rest of the guys. So this new record is just the last 5 years of little musical ideas piling up in my brain! Haha.

I love that – so organic and honest! Haha! So what future plans have you got? Any big tours? Will you be winging your way over to the UK any time soon?
Aaron Barrett: Well with the release of a new record, that means even more touring than we usually do! Gotta go everywhere and spread the word about the new music. We will definitely be in the UK this summer and who knows, maybe the fall too!

If you could have anyone feature on a track, who would it be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I’d love to have CC Deville from Poison do a guitar solo on a song! Or maybe do a duet with Dolly Parton? That would be cool!

Both of those would be amazing! What music have you been listening to most recently?
Aaron Barrett: I’ve been listening to nothing but 80’s country music for the last couple weeks on the tour bus, the rest of the band hates me now! Haha!

Haha! Reel Big Fish goes Country for the next album?! Maybe not! If you had to cover a recent chart song, which song would it be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I honestly couldn’t name one hit song that’s been out in the last few years, I’m completely out of touch with music today…thank goodness! Haha.

Haha, fair enough! Where are some of your favourite cities to perform at?
Aaron Barrett: I always love to do shows in Hawaii because…well I get paid to go to Hawaii!! And of course I always love to tour the UK!

Who wouldn’t love to play in Hawaii! What a lucky guy you are. What makes a show particularly amazing for you?
Aaron Barrett: I think what makes a show great for me is if the audience is singing along and dancing and going crazy, that’s the most important thing for me. I do everything I can to keep people moving and excited and having a good time. And if anybody laughs at my dumb jokes, that’s a bonus too!

I bet they do; you’re a funny and charismatic guy! So, has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Aaron Barrett: We had a tour bus that burned down one time, that was pretty scary. Everybody was asleep in their bunks on the bus and the bus driver came running in waking everybody up telling all to get out. Some of the guys didn’t even grab their shoes or wallets and we pretty much all lost our cell phones. But all of our music gear was ok and we all survived. But that was crazy…and scary.

Sounds horrendous…at least you were all alright! Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals?
Aaron Barrett: I think the only pre-show ritual we have is drinking a few beers and changing into our stinky show clothes. Nobody does any yoga or punches themselves in the balls 30 times before they hit the stage or anything, haha!

Haha, now there’s an image! Have any of you got any weird habits?
Aaron Barrett: Yea, we all listen to SKA music!

Good one! Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Aaron Barrett: I’m obsessed with my dog Walter! Check him out on Instagram: @thewonderfulworldofwalter

*Looks on Instagram* ADORABLE! What really grinds your gears?
Aaron Barrett: When people ask me stupid questions…

Awkward…sorry, haha! What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to any of you, in life?
Aaron Barrett: I started a Ska band!

Embarrassing…or super cool?! What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
Aaron Barrett: Edward Penis-hands.

Haha…enough said! If, in say 10 years time, a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Aaron Barrett: Kermit the Frog.

The Muppets as Reel Big Fish…love it! If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Aaron Barrett: I like sour candy, can I be one of those?

Course you can! Lastly, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Aaron Barrett: “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Massive thanks to Aaron for taking the time to interview with me and to Mike Cubillos from Earshot Media for organising the interview.

📸Photo Credit: Jodi Cunningham


Reel Big Fish‘s releases are all available:


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#Review: Milestones – Red Lights


   

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Milestones are a British pop punk band, hailing from Manchester. The quartet, fronted by singer Matt Clarke, have worked with producer, Phil Gornell (Bring Me The Horizon and All Time Low) to produce their debut album, Red Lights; their first full-length record with Fearless Records. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Milestones - Red Lights.jpg

Milestones are certainly making a mark on the pop punk scene with this strong, punchy debut…but are they bringing anything new to the table? Not really, but nevertheless it works!

The album is quite formulaic with its use of ‘Woah ohs’, ‘Na na nas’ and other gang vocals, amongst a whole host of stop pushes, grungy guitars, semi-cliché lyrics about being against the world and such like, and to top it all off, are some straight-up, damn-catchy choruses.

It’s quite easy to make comparisons with bands like All Time Low, We The Kings and to some extent You Me At Six, but most notably, The Friday Night Boys, due to their pop punk precision and following of the modern tendency to over-produce these types of songs. Furthermore, being a British pop punk outfit, they’ve followed in the footsteps of so many others, by adopting the faux-American accent and referencing places in the USA (probably due to the amount of time the band have spent touring over there), but this band will still undoubtedly have made a name for themselves with this actually, pretty great album.

There are huge, sing-a-long choruses that would easily fill a stadium and Matt Clarke‘s epic vocals are delivered with massive power and heaps of conviction. It sure shows a band who know their sound and have the strength to produce a powerful album.

There are some mammoth highs, with powerhouse songs like ‘BitterSweetHeart’‘Once Upon A Time’‘Paranoid’ and ‘Liar’ and trademark, heartfelt “ballads”, exposing their more vulnerable side, with tracks such as ‘Against The World’‘Hold On’ and ‘Counting Cars’, all of which further fits themselves in to the mould. With its minute-long intro, ‘This Is My Life’ provides a moment of calm amid the album, almost splitting it into two parts, before kicking into the main song and ‘Eighteen’ is just a bit of fun, though lyrically lacking in some ways, whilst ‘Forever Or Never’ is a big track, bringing the album to a good conclusion.

Whilst it might sounds like I’m slating this record, I’m not trying to; I’m merely pointing out the current trends in the pop punk genre, but I actually thoroughly enjoyed it and have had it on repeat since receiving it. There are huge, sing-a-long choruses that would easily fill a stadium and Matt Clarke‘s epic vocals are delivered with massive power and heaps of conviction; he sings ‘Now I’m stuck in this fucking rut’, almost spitting out ‘fuck’ like no one I’ve ever heard. Overall, there are some stunning moments on this album (the harmonies in the middle 8 of ‘BitterSweetHeart’ being one of my favourite) and though it may not blaze trails within the genre or lead to world domination of the market, it sure shows a band who know their sound and have the strength to produce a powerful album.

Rating
3.5


‘Red Lights’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/red-lights/1336609728


Red Lights on Spotify

‘Paranoid’ (Official Music Video)

‘BitterSweetHeart’ (Official Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Milestones’ debut album, but what do you think of it? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or chat to us about it via our social media accounts.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#EventSpeaks: Erasure @ Brighton Dome, Brighton – 19/02/18


   

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On Monday 19th February 2018, Erasure arrived in Brighton, on their World Be Gone Tour, performing at Brighton Dome. The duo were supported by Welshman, Rod Thomas‘ moniker, Bright Light Bright Light – it was an incredible show!


Bright Light Bright Light

Rod Thomas and his band mates took to the stage and put on a fantastic show, performing his own unique brand of electro-pop – it’s a combination of contemporary pop music, with an 80s tint to it; clearly inspired by bands such as Scissor Sisters and Erasure themselves. The use of modern technology produced a really full sound to the performance and filled the concert hall. The songs were well written, but there were a couple of songs that I felt blended into one. Undoubtedly Bright Light Bright Light has a big following and has worked with some incredible people but I was looking for a couple of stand-out tracks that I wanted to come home and listen to, which unfortunately I didn’t really find.

Highlight: The incredible harmonies Rod performed with himself (using his pads) as well as the brilliantly vibrant suit he wore.


Erasure

Erasure were incredible! Having been in the public eye since the 80s, this duo are clearly professionals at what they do, but it seems to come so naturally to them; Vince Clarke, although almost a silent partner when it comes to fronting the duo, clearly puts a lot of effort into his performance and production of the backing tracks, whilst Andy Bell is the camp, extroverted individual, fronting the outfit. Somehow though, it just works – whilst they might appear to be polar opposites of stage personality, I loved it…and so did the audience!

The pair were accompanied by two sensational backing singers who produced some incredible vocal harmonies alongside Andy and altogether, they performed a string of hit after hit.

The stage lighting was excellent and felt a bit like a club and the different combinations of light movements and colours helped add some visual diversity to the set. Andy‘s gradual removal of his clothes, down to his catsuit was very funny and lead to screams and cheers throughout the building.

Naturally, performances of songs like ‘Chains of Love’‘Phantom Bride’‘Sometimes’ and of course, ‘A Little Respect’, brought the house down, but they made sure to not only pack out their setlist but fill it with a wide range of career-spanning tracks to ensure there was something for everyone.

I can’t recommend seeing Erasure highly enough – whether you know just a track or two, or their whole back catalogue, they do not disappoint. You are guaranteed to have a fun-filled evening of dancing, singing and laughing.

Highlights:

  • Andy Bell‘s sassy, between-song banter, was on point! He knew his audience and was hilarious from start to finish.
  • The sheer tightness of their performance just highlighted how professional this duo are.
  • The vocal harmonies between Andy Bell and his backing singers was marvellous.
  • The string of hits they performed has the audience singing and dancing throughout the show.
  • Andy Bell‘s gradual removal of his clothing, down to his catsuit, was hilarious – it certainly made a statement.
  • Lastly, the set design was pretty cool too – the lighting was amazing and I particularly loved that Vince Clarke was able to do his thing from an elevated platform throughout the set.

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 Setlist

Oh L’Amour
Ship Of Fools
Breathe
Mad As We Are
Just A Little Love
In My Arms
Chains Of Love
Sacred
Sweet Summer Loving
I Love Saturday
Victim Of Love
Phantom Bride
World Be Gone
Who Needs Love Like That
Take Me Out Of Myself
Blue Savannah
Atomic (Blondie Cover)
Drama!
Stop!
Love You To The Sky
Always
Here I Go Impossible Again
Sometimes*

Encore
A Little Respect*

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


Finally, I want to say an absolutely HUGE thanks to Thom Williams for setting up this review and to both Erasure and Bright Light Bright Light for their incredible performances. Oh…and Alan Carr for taking the time to have a couple of selfies with me!

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#MuzikSpeaks: An Interview with Bars & Melody


   

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With the recent release of their second album, Generation Z (check out our review), and currently touring around Europe, we were lucky enough to catch up with Bars & Melody about their recent release, how their writing process has developed, who they’d most like to collaborate with and what Charlie’s most disgusting habit is. It’s all here…


Hey guys, how’s it going?
Hey, we’re great!!!

So you released Generation Z in September and the reception seems to have been incredible, how exciting has that been for you?
Generation Z is an milestone in our career. It’s our second album, we’ve grown so much since our first album, and it’s amazing to see the reception, as it is so great.

Where did the idea for the album title come from and what’s the meaning behind it?
So we were out in Florida writing a song called ‘Scream’. The song was about all the problems of the world, and how unfair it was that our generation (Generation Z) have to live with all the mistakes that the people before us had made. One of the lines for that song is “Generation Z more like Generation Dead” and we found that lyric very powerful, so we decided to name the album Generation Z in honour of that.

What’s your usual process for writing/recording an album?
Our creative process when making an album usually consists of us playing around with a guitar, or listening into some ideas our producers have came up with. We take a lot of time writing lyrics and thinking of meanings for every song.

How did this compare to the experience of recording your debut album?
Generation Z‘s recording process was completely different to our debut album. During our debut album, we were very young and didn’t put as much thought into the writing as we did on Gen Z. Although we love our first album 143, Generation Z is our favourite.

Where do you take inspirations from when writing/recording your music?
When we write our music we take a lot of inspiration from the thought process of teenagers. All of the obstacles you encounter going through the teen phase. We also take inspiration from heartbreak, love and the beauty of the world.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and why?
I think if ‘Bars and Melody‘ were to collab with anyone, we would love it to be Justin Bieber, we love his music!

What music have you been listening to most recently?
We love to listen to all different types of music, from Pop to Rock, Rap, Electronic, LoFi and Jazz. We love Music!

If you had to cover a recent chart song (not on your ‘Covers’ album), which song would it be and why?
If we were to cover in the charts right now it would be ‘rockstar’ by Post Malone, We love that song.

You’re heading out on tour at the moment, where are some of your favourite cities/countries to perform at?
We love Asia! Japan is a personal favourite of ours. But we love performing everywhere!

You’ve done shows across the globe but what makes a show particularly amazing for you?
There was one show in Japan where we supported Big Bang, an amazing KPOP group. We performed to over 80,000 people.

Has anything really scary ever happened to you on tour? If so, what?
Nothing really scary has happened to us on tour, luckily.

What are some of the best things that have come out of BAM?
I would say the best thing to come out of BAM is our lifelong friendship. Even after BAM ends, we’ll always have each other.

Have either of you got any disgusting habits?
Leo: Charlie likes to burp a lot and then blow it in my face.

Do you have any other passions outside of music?
Leo: I love to play video games and skateboard!

What really grinds your gears?
I really hate mess!

What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you, in life?
The most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me was when I did a school play when I was 5 years old…I wet myself on stage! Oops!

What’s the best film you’ve seen lately?
The best film I have seen lately is a movie called Nerve, I watched it with all my friends! It was amazing.

If, in say 20 years time, a film was made about your lives, who would you want to play each of you?
If a movie was made about us, I would like the cast from Stranger Things to play us.

If you were a chocolate bar, which one would you be and why?
Leo: If I was a chocolate bar, I would be a Lion bar because I’m an animal!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Leo: The best advice I’ve ever been given is to always listen to your mum!

Thanks very much for taking the time to chat, good luck with the tour and next time you’re doing a show down near Brighton I’ll have to come and review it.
THANK YOU GUYS!


Bars & Melody‘s releases are all available:


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