Category Archives: Gigs

Reviews, previews and features.

Melbourne | Partying at St Kilda Festival & White Night | Australia

12742849_10153297889262617_2785038916657325425_nOne of the things I love the most about Melbourne is that there is always something going on. It’s a lively city full of hidden gems and quirky, unusual events and I’ve already lost track of how many unexpected treats I’ve found since exploring the city. From the tiniest little food festivals to the Mardi Gras-esque street parties, there is always something new to discover and where better than to prime your taste in Australian music than by attending St Kilda Festival? Australia’s largest free music festival, the event showcases a range of the country’s national and local talent on huge stages set against the natural beauty of St Kilda’s beach. The event attracts over 400,000 people each year and this year took place on Valentine’s Day, which also just happened to be right in the middle of three of my friends’ birthdays. A perfect time to celebrate.12729295_10153314611102617_352570379247041229_nGetting the whole gang together, we headed to St Kilda in the afternoon where we couldn’t wait to check out the huge range of performances set to take place across ten stages that day. Now we all know by now how much I love my festivals – whether they’re free or expensive, dance or reggae, camping or day events. I love them all and can always find something special at each of them. St Kilda Festival was great – a huge event that has obviously proven a great success by the crowds that poured through the streets. The performances I saw were great and the crowd were clearly enjoying themselves, who couldn’t with a main stage set against the backdrop of the ocean as the sun was setting? My favourite part of the event definitely had to be when I went down to the beach to sit and watch the sun set while listening to the performers on the main stage.12742176_10153314610592617_2808402488505373794_nBut much as we did all enjoy ourselves that day, I couldn’t help but feel the event could have done with being better organised for the of us who aren’t from the area. Being new to Melbourne, and especially to St Kilda, I found it very difficult to navigate between and even locate some of the stages and actually only ended up getting to watch performances on two of the ten stages because it took so long to find our way through the crowds. I saw little to no signs around to direct us and whenever I stopped to ask stewards they seemed to have even less idea what was going on than I did. Very late on we finally found a map of the area, but we had missed most of the things we had really wanted to see. After speaking to a few friends who went along to the event separately to us, it seems they shared some of our experiences and felt the event was a bit over-crowded. Regardless, we still made sure we had a good time, a few ciders in the sunshine and a lot of laughs.9861_10153314609857617_117124694456852418_nJust a few days later, it was White Night and the whole city was abuzz again as Melbourne CBD prepared to put on the biggest show of colour, light and music. Bigger and better than ever the radio and TV stations promised us, so after a quick drink with a friend in St Kilda, I couldn’t resist heading into the city to meet friends for a good look around at the projections. Despite spending six hours wandering around the city, I never actually saw a single one! But don’t worry, we had the time of our lives walking around and discovering the huge range of musical talents hidden around every street corner.12728787_10153314615482617_7942346077139755604_nWe actually ended up sticking around Flinders and Melbourne Central areas as every time we walked down the street we got sucked into watching another epic performance turn into a huge street party with people of all ages dancing in the streets. It was amazing and the atmosphere was electric, it kept me dancing my heart out until 6am despite being completely sober and starving hungry. I was so impressed with the quality of the performances and how diverse they were, on one corner we watched as an incredibly talented acoustic performer mixed DJ skills with guitar and even a touch of saxophone while talking to the crowd throughout. Then just down the road, a DJ had the whole street dancing and further along a fabulous group started a fiesta in the shopping mall with their Mardi Gras vibes. It was a fantastic night and even though I didn’t see what I set out to see, I found some fantastic performers along the way.

Have you been to either of these events – what did you think? Does your city have great local music events like these?

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When did crazy fans turn music into a dictatorship?

jaxxI love music. I love music of all kinds and can’t imagine a life without the poetic combination of soulful melodies, dancing beats and country drawl winging they way to my ears. Something that I pride myself in, although I know some say that this is evidence of no taste at all, is that I have a serious love for many different genres of music. I am not prejudiced and you will find my happily listening to rock music one day, and dancing in a club to electronic beats that night. You’ll just as easily find me at a jazz festival or a folk gig, as you will singing along to some old country tunes. Does that mean I have no taste at all? Or does it mean that I am just more accepting of different types of music? Much like my attitude to most things around me, I am very open to trying new things and try to reserve judgement until I have experienced something for myself. Music is no different and I wouldn’t rule out a genre, or an artist, because:

It only takes one song in just the right setting and moment to connect with your emotions and make you fall in love with them.

Music is a funny thing, I’m sure there is a whole world of psychology out there and plenty of theories to do with how our brains are wired, that explain why we connect so much to music. But to me, it is not something that can be explained using science. Music tugs on our heartstrings, renders us speechless, keeps us dancing to the bitter end, takes us on huge highs and through our darkest times, brings tears to our eyes, and gives us hope. It has been tracked through the ages as something that unifies us as people, from the slaves who used to sing to show their strength against those who enslaved them, to powerful songs that have been used in politics and wartime, to the modern day politics of programmes like X Factor that have us huddled round the TV every Saturday night. There is something about all of these types of music, and all the others I haven’t mentioned, that speaks to us.

The music touches us when words aren’t enough to explain an emotion or feeling.

It’s something we can all identify with to some extent, although I know for some the pull is stronger than for others. We have all experienced that moment when a song appeared to speak the words we couldn’t say, that moment when a song touched our hearts in a way that no loved one could. So when we all understand the beauty of music – why do some people seem to struggle with allowing others to choose their own music? When did music become a dictatorship?john newmanOkay, that may sound a little over-dramatic to you, but in the last few weeks this is something that has really been brought to my attention and I just can’t make sense of it. I’m talking about everything from when your parents or grandparents make comments about your choice of music – they say it is “just noise” or they “can’t listen to that rubbish” and wonder “what ever happened to the real talent?” Despite them having idolised their equivalent of today’s acts when they were our age. Some refuse to accept that times have changed and that just because they do not enjoy our musical choices as much as those from 60 years ago – that we can’t possibly enjoy them either. Where’s the acceptance? Why can’t we enjoy listening to a DJ play beats as much as they enjoyed listening to ABBA or The Beatles in their heyday?

They’re not the only ones, there’s also those who are stuck with their heads wedged firmly in one genre – often these are the ones who say those who say they like all music are actually tasteless – and refuse to enjoy anything outside of that. How limiting it must be to only enjoy one type of music, it would give me a headache if I only listened to one style of music. But I find it sad how different musical genres can sometimes be quite segregated – I have found that on occasion when I have gone to a rock gig or a ska night, that I will get some funny looks because I don’t look like the average crowd for the gig – and yet once the music starts, I seem to be having more fun and loving it more than anyone else. And those who just instantly brush off any other type of music as “crap” just because it doesn’t fit the genre – why not give it a listen and see what you think before putting it in a box?skaAnd finally, the crazy obsessive fans. Well, these seem to be popping up all over the place with Instagrams, Twitter profiles and even Facebook groups dedicated to how much they love Justin Bieber, One Direction or even UB40. I’m sorry guys, don’t take this personally but having experienced the wrath of some of these fan groups of late – I can say that they are quite aggressive, over-protective of a person they don’t even know personally and often scare other potential fans away. It seems odd to me, no matter how much you love a person’s/group’s music, to bind yourself to them in an obsessive way and, in some cases, refuse to acknowledge other types of music exist, or even other artists within the same genre. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all “super fans” but those who have had the light shone on them seem to be putting a lot of energy into propelling an artist (whether actually talented or not) into the spotlight, regardless of other tastes.

I was surprised recently when my announcement of an upcoming interview with UB40 over Twitter was met with huge backlash and rather aggressive comments over the band’s break-up, which happened six years ago! Rather than keeping with the spirit of reggae, as I’m sure true reggae stars would insist, I was sent a series of rude, uninvited and progressively angry tweets that insisted my interview was with fake artists and that the other rival group had been cheated out of fame. Can I just raise the question – who cares? Personally, I feel that the personal issues between the band members had little to do with the music, considering my favourite songs were released long before it all happened. Plus, it is none of my business, or the business of any of these “fans” what has happened – why are they taking it so personally? Between them they have managed to alienate a potential fan of the rival band – what true fan would want to do that? What reggae-lover would want to spread aggression and negativity? These fans could not understand that some of us just want to enjoy the music without all the anger, rivalry and competitiveness because to us, the music is all that matters.rudimentalSorry, I realise this is turning into a bit of a long post, I’ll start to wind it up. Basically, my whole point here, is I don’t understand what makes anyone feel entitled to dictate the musical tastes of another. A bit like your choice of underpants, or how to raise your children, it is a personal choice. Yes, of course, recommendations are always welcome and I love when people suggest a band or an act I should check out – especially if they know me well and think they are perfect for me. But musical taste is personal, it is something unique to each individual – like a fingerprint – and no-one can tell you what to love. If you love listening to Dolly Parton and heavy metal – who is to judge you? I certainly won’t be.

What do you think of the idea of music as a dictatorship? have you ever experienced the wrath of the “super fans”?

Ab Lucy sign off

Supporting great talent and local live music

photo_1 (7)Friday night saw me sticking on my favourite Converse, grabbing my dancing buddy and heading to Lynn’s Corn Exchange to watch the finest in local talent hit the stage for the final of West Norfolk’s Battle of the Bands competition. The competition has been running in the area for years and sees bands coming from across Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to take part and fight it out for a chance to headline Festival Too in front of a crowd of up to 12,000. What an amazing prize, along with loads of marketing and recording support and various other gig/festival performing slots. The competition is packed with amazing groups, all from different genres and performing a mix of covers and original material. I think this year was actually the most bands we have had in the final who were performing original content – which is great and just shows what kind of musicians we have on show.

I’m a big supporter of local music talent, partly because I love writing about all these great bands for the newspaper’s entertainment section, partly because we have such talented acts around here who are actually making it big (e.g Deaf Havana, The Brink etc), partly because yes they are damn talented and also because I know so many of them personally and know how hard they work. I’m always amazed by the quality of the acts when I finally get to see them live, so often I end up writing about them and their achievements, watching YouTube videos and chatting on the phone, so when I get to see them live, it is a real treat. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see the top six bands, as voted by the people of West Norfolk, performing live on stage in the final round of the competition.photo_3 (6)The first picture shows The Indie 500’s who are a fantastic covers band and really impressed me from the start. They had the hardest slot and an even more difficult job with an ill frontman, which meant the group’s drummer had the hardest job of all as he took on the extra role of lead singer while drumming his heart out. I was astounded to hear the lead singer was actually missing because he did such an amazing job opening with Arctic Monkeys’ Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and throughout the rest of the set. They played all those amazing songs by acts like The Wombats and The Libertines, all of which had the crowd singing along and loving every second. Starting out with such a high standard, the evening was sure to only get better, and so it did!

Performing throughout the night were Common Youth, From The Sticks and Vex, but my next favourite act who performed later in the evening, pictured below, Phoenix Calling. The Cambridgeshire band were amazing, had us singing and dancing along with great crowd interaction. They seemed so finished and perfected that you could imagine seeing them on-stage at a festival that very night. They performed original material but still had the crowd singing along as we picked up the lyrics. The band had such energy and the lead singer in particular did an amazing job of singing and dancing around the stage. My favourite part was when they played their mash-up of Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, Bob Marley’s One Love and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s rap. It was fantastic, so unique and such a great idea. It really caught the attention of the audience and the judges and certainly had us all cheering by the end.photo_2 (7)And finally, Addison’s Uncle were an amazing folk band who wouldn’t be out of place at an Irish festival or in an Irish pub – full of character, storytelling and melody. Everyone was dancing and tapping their feet to the catchy rhythms and joining in their beautiful vocal harmonies. To me, these appeared the most talented bunch of musicians boasting a fiddle-player, one on a ukelele as well as guitars, percussion and bass. I loved the way each song had a story behind it and the band certainly charmed the audience. I loved the ballad they played at the end of the performance but it was the song just before that had the audience all up on their feet and joining in. A fantastic performance and a well-deserved win for these guys! They, along with Phoenix Calling, were my favourites of the night and I was so happy to hear them crowned the winners. They will be a real treat for the crowd at Festival Too.

The runner-up slot was taken by Vex, whose performance sadly I had to miss as I had to leave a bit early, but from what I do know, they are a talented bunch who deserved the win. All of the bands put in an amazing performance throughout the evening and if you get a chance to see any of them live, take it with both hands. Another great year highlighting the fantastic talent on show in West Norfolk – if you want great live music then head this way guys because we have a lot to offer.

Who were your favourite acts in this year’s Battle of the Bands? Love live local music? What’s your favourite place to see top acts in your area?

 

Watching the world through a screen

cameraMy first festival of 2014 gave me a good opportunity to ease myself in to a summer of raving in the sunshine. A non-camping festival, We Are FSTVL gave a perfect chance to have a couple of days in the sun (and a bit of rain) dancing with good friends to amazing music. While I was there I was lucky enough to see the likes of Annie Mac, Knife Party and Fatboy Slim giving massive sets on the main stages. It was incredible to finally see three of the top acts I have been dying to see live on a main stage in just one festival and with a huge line-up We Are FSTVL was a surprisingly intimate affair. Despite this, I noticed a continuing theme across the stages and tents, which made me slightly sad. Forget those who are hepped up on pills and the rest, forget those who are too drunk to stand up, forget those who decide to light up flares in the middle of a crowd. At least these guys are living in the moment and are really making the most of the experience. These ones aren’t the ones who bother me.

The ones who really upset me are the ones who are living it through a screen. I might be overreacting slightly, but it actually really offends me to see a crowd full of people who are watching a once-in-a-lifetime set as a DJ they have been wanting to see all their lives closes the main stage, but that they would prefer to watch it through their camera lens. After seeing Fatboy Slim play XOYO in London on the opening night of his Eat Sleep Rave Repeat tour, my mind was blown. I had never expected I would actually get a chance to see him live in my lifetime, let alone playing brand new material. But from then on, the dream grew and I was just desperate to see his set transform from the basement of a tiny, dark club to the main stage at a festival and how lucky I was to find he would be headlining the first festival of my summer! I, and all my friends, were beyond excited to see him play live and we made sure we got up on one of the platforms facing the main stage nice and early so we could get a good spot for Annie Mac as well. We had a perfect view of the whole crowd, the main stage and the sky above it which was filled with fireworks, flames and confetti throughout.10371481_10152067841697617_8181578491216340227_nSo imagine my dismay at seeing the people around us pulling out their camera phones and holding them up for the entire set. Not just up on the platform, but even down in the crowd, there was a sea of phones raised to the sky. What is the point? Can anyone tell me? In the days of Woodstock and early Glasto – when some would argue festivals were at their finest – no-one had camera phones or insisted on Instagramming every moment. Instead they lived every second, they dances to the music, felt it in their bones and spent the time meeting people, making friends and singing along. THIS is what festivals are all about. I know the convenience of camera phones means people want to capture every moment, and I have no problem with that as I too love to take photos of my friends smiling and happy, to keep those memories for long after the hangover had faded.

My problem is that people are choosing to do this rather than live the festival and the music. They would rather watch the whole explosive and incredible set through the phone screen and be sure that it is perfectly framed and looks like you are having an amazing time rather than actually experiencing it themselves. These are the people who don’t end up dancing at the festival, the ones who arrive home looking as perfect as when they set out and care more about the way the festival looks than feels. To me, the most important thing has always been they way I felt in that moment. When you see an incredible headliner take over the main stage after waiting months to see them live, when the stage explodes with confetti and flames, when you are singing along so hard you lose your voice, when you’re dancing so hard you nearly knock out the person next to you, and when you and a complete stranger throw your arms round each other and bellow out the words because you’re both just so excited. THAT is what festivals are about, losing yourself in the moment. They are about getting home and trying to tell people about it, but knowing that words just cannot do that moment justice. That no matter how you try to describe it, that those who weren’t there just won’t understand.1601495_10152067841647617_2257286975690457222_nMy concern is that our technology is so convenient that so many are missing out on this experience. They don’t know the beauty of having a single picture that transports you back to that moment and how you felt, rather than an hour-long video of the set with terrible sound and a jiggly camera focus. Who really wants to sit there watching it back later on? Do you really think your friends will be jealous when they see you spent that hours-long set videoing it rather than enjoying it? I certainly wouldn’t be jealous of that, I would just consider it a wasted ticket. I have lots more festivals in the pipeline for this summer and I just hope I will be seeing a lot less of this and a lot more people living in the moment. Ironically, one of my favourite festivals from last summer was BoomTown fair which was all about the experience and I barely have any pictures from it because I was so caught up in the moment and thoroughly enjoyed myself. (See my preview for BoomTown here.)

What kind of festival-goer are you – guilty of living behind a lens or totally in the moment and forgetting you have a camera?

The songs that will make my summer soundtrack

1004604_10151480508882617_1052791188_nAfter last year’s incredible summer, I plan on hitting up a heck of a lot of festivals this year with good friends, a crate of warm cider and a muddy tent in tow. What more could a girl want over those summer months? With the first festival of the season taking place over this weekend – my birthday weekend – I’m so excited to get properly in the summer mood and get dancing. But what is it I’ll be dancing to this summer? Well, here are my top summery songs of the moment – these are the ones that have me dancing along in my car and singing along to with the radio.

Forest Fires by Fred V and Grafix is just one of those chilled out songs that instantly puts a smile on my face. It makes me think of summer drives with a car-full of friends and the sun beaming down on us, lots of cocktails and laughs. It’s a perfect summer warm-up song and I just know I’m going to be hearing it a lot this summer.

Another huge tune that I absolutely love has got to be Mr Probz – Waves which is my ultimate driving song of the moment. This song is the perfect length for my drive to work and when the sun is shining in the mornings, it is perfet for de-stressing me and chilling me out before the chaos starts.

Any song with a hefty dose of saxophone is always going to make me happy and Faul & Wad Ad vs. Pnau do exactly that with Changes. Although released a little while ago now, I’m still not bored of this and I can’t imagine it going away. This is the sort of song that is used as the soundtrack to festival videos and that’s why I love it.boom1 Hippie Sabotage – Stay High  is another of those really chilled out songs that I just love. It reminds me of being at BoomTown Fair last summer sunbathing and hanging out at the Shisha Tent with the boys or dancing in the woods.

Duke Dumont – I Got You is such a happy sound, the steel drums just scream summer and it just makes me want to dance around at a festival and pull silly faces in photos with my girls. When you listen to the lyrics, it is such a cute song and I love what it is about.

Again, like Duke Dumont, Sigma – Nobody To Love also puts a huge smile on my face and I love that everyone always sings along. It’s such a fun song and no-one can resist a teensy bit of Kanye thrown into the mix. If you haven’t heard this song, I’ll be shocked because it is everywhere at the moment.

What would summer be without Paolo Nutini to light up my life with his latest album? Pretty dark I’ll tell you. I love his soulful sound and it’s perfect for lazy summer days in the park. I would absolutely love to see him live at a festival but sadly he won’t be performing at any I go to this summer.

Let it be known that I heart Bastille. Last summer, I saw them perform their whole album in the gorgeous sunshine at Secret Garden Party and it was one of my favourite festival moments of the summer. They were amazing live and it cemented my love of them entirely. A year on and their album is still one of my automatic go-to playlists and I still know all the words.sgp1

What’s your summer anthem of the moment? Leave me recommendations below and I’ll add them to my playlist!

 

10 incredible music acts I have to see live before I die

Steve-Aoki-BannerIf you want to get a taste for my favourite artists and the music that gets me dancing and singing along, take a quick scroll down my Instagram feed for just some of the incredible acts I stalk for pictures of their latest incredible performances. After last year turned out to be such an incredible year for seeing so many of the acts I had been longing to see live for years, I am even more determined to get round more of my favourites in the next few years. I cannot describe my excitement at getting to see Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, Major Lazer, Beyonce, Bastille, Of Monsters and Men, Julian Marley, Paloma Faith, Sub Focus, Chase and Status, Pendulum and so many others perform live in the last 12 months. But as I tick each off, I add even more acts to my list and it grows even longer. Here are just some of the incredible acts I am determined to see live in the next few years:

  1. Steve Aoki – The king of crazy. His performances are high-energy, complete chaos and simply ridiculous – everything I love about live shows and every time I see pictures of him leaping into the crowd or shooting off fire extinguishers or throwing cake at the crowd, I just wish I was there in the thick of it.
  2. The Prodigy – I just LOVE their music and have done for years but to be honest, I have seen live footage of the crowds at their gigs and I’m more than a little bit scared of leaping in there. Things often get a lot moshier than I am willing to go, and I’m not sure I want my face smashed in! Knife Party are another one that although I would love to see, I’m a bit scared! Ha.
  3. The Chemical Brothers – Like Fatboy, the sound of the nineties and my youth. It’s the music I grew up with and I just know it would be an incredible experience to hear live, plus I know how much those songs get the crowd going even now.
  4. Annie Mac – I missed out on seeing her at Parklife two summers ago because of the queue at the gate, but am still desperate to go to a club night or festival where she is DJing, her set lists fill my iPod and her Friday night sessions on Radio One always get me dancing and wanting to go out.
  5. Kanye West – See, it’s not all DJs! Love his music and know he would put on an awesome show. Would also be happy to see Drake or Pharrell live as well.
  6. Daft Punk – A bit like The Chemical Brothers, they are just an institution and I loved their new album, had it on repeat in my car, so I think it would be amazing to see them live.
  7. The Arctic Monkeys – Such good music, a bit of a different scene to all the dance music acts but just one of those ones you know all the words to. Their new stuff is great and although their attitude at the BRITs stank, I still would love to see them. To be in the crowd at a festival when they dropped bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor would be a fantastic experience.
  8. The XX – Their album was just stunning and is still my go-to album on my iPod, I never get bored of its stunning sound and I just know it would be such a magical experience to hear live. I would also like to see Chvrches and London Grammar.
  9. Cee-Lo Green/Gnarls Barkley – Do I even need to explain this one? That voice? Those songs! And that suit… Winner. Simple as.
  10. Paolo Nutini – He is just dreamy, and his music is beautiful. He’s a singer that I have liked for years now and often they don’t stick in my mind that long, or I don’t continue to like their music as their style changes. Paolo has changed his style but I still love it.

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I’m sure there are many more I could list and I could go on forever, but these are just some of those that immediately came to mind. He’s hoping I get the chance to see some of them live very soon!

Who would you love to see perform live and why? What was your favourite live act of last year?

Loving life in London town and celebrating in the sunshine

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The view across the London Eye and Houses of Parliament in the sunshine

I still haven’t quite managed to get back to reality after last week’s mid-week break to London – I just keep wishing I was back strolling along the South Bank drinking wine in the sunshine! Me and the boyfriend had the trip planned after he bought me tickets to see Ella Eyre at XOYO for Christmas – both very excited after seeing her perform the other year on tour with Rudimental. Unfortunately a change in the date of the gig meant the tickets had the wrong date on and we ended up missing the gig – so no Christmas present but we more than made up for it with an epic couple of days.

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Sunshine and smiles on the bridge

When we arrived in London we decided to ignore our previous plans to head to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaur exhibit and to the British Museum for the exhibitions on Egyptians and Vikings – it was just far too sunny to be inside looking at history. Instead we headed straight to Embankment with plans of grabbing some lunch and sitting out in the sunshine. As we walked out of the station and towards the bridge, we came across a food festival.

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Mark with his lucky heather

 

We could resist heading into the gardens were there were various stalls selling jerk chicken, pasta dishes, African cuisine and even fish dogs (fish finger hot dogs!). We plumped for a lobster bite, which was absolutely delicious, followed by black truffle mushroom risotto balls stuffed with Italian cheese and with a tasty ragu – incredible! We were glad for these later on when we ended up not getting the chance to eat again until late! While we ate, we sat in these beautiful gardens with a great view of the London Eye.

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Afterwards we walked across the bridge to South Bank and strolled along in the sunshine watching the street theatre and listening to live music. I loved the steel drums, while Mark was the perfect target for anyone selling anything from ‘lucky’ heather to bibles!

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The bendiest rasta men I have ever seen!

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Mark with his lucky heather

We must have walked miles, stopping now and then to sit in bars drinking wine in the sunshine and trying to remember where we were going. As we were walking, we found some leaflets for a gig that night in Camden Market where a ska orchestra would be playing at Dingwalls. We figured this was a perfect replacement for Ella Eyre and decided to head there instead of to Soho to watch a jazz band. After a quick stop at the Restup Hostel (genuinely nicer than hotels we have stayed in previously in London, perfect position for going out all over and my first choice more often than not).

10003439_10151937972882617_1889696327_nWe grabbed a quick bite to eat and a few drinks then headed to Camden where The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra and another ska act would be playing later on. It was a great little venue – slap bang in the middle of Camden, dark and full of interesting characters – just my kind of place. The bands were great, really lively and energetic – they had everyone up and dancing from the beginning. I’ve never seen any other music have such a awesome effect on a group of people with such different backgrounds, ages and jobs – it really has such a good atmosphere and has got me all excited for the summer at BoomTown fair. The band played such a range of instruments and were really talented – I was very impressed.

1622840_10151937973082617_110445465_n 1012138_10151937973202617_1120837800_nWe danced long and hard and my legs were killing me by the end after a day spent walking all over London. The next day we spent eating our way round the food stalls at Camden Market nursing our hangovers before heading home. A great few days in London where we achieved nothing we planned to do but had loads of random fun. It was great to get away and really hard to come back to work after this followed by the weekend. It was also our eight year anniversary over the weekend – quite an achievement in itself! Can’t quite believe we’ve been together for more than a quarter of my life now – we must be doing something right!

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Do you love spontaneous trips like this or do you prefer to plan every second? What’s the most random thing you’ve come across in London?

 

Review: Something Special in the Madness when Five Ska come to town

Last Saturday, I headed to one of King’s Lynn’s best local music venues to watch what is without doubt, my favourite band ever to play the town – Five Ska. I was so excited, after seeing them play Bar Red once before and loving their set that I was thrilled to see they were returning. I dragged along a group of friends who really weren’t expecting to like the band even though I was raving about them, but they soon changed their tune!

The band are a group of experienced musicians who formed in 2010 with a set list that includes all those mazing songs from Bad Manners, Madness, The Specials (One of my faves!), The Dead 60s and many more.

Here I am with the man himself! Amazing singer and definitely knows how to get the crowd up and dancing..

I have always loved ska music, in fact anything lively that you can dance to is usually on my radar, but it was particularly while at Boomtown Fair in the summer that I really started to love this type of music and the freedom that comes with it. Especially after seeing Neville Staple Band give a surprise performance, along with several other amazing acts. I love the way this music gets people of all ages up dancing and it certainly has that effect every time I see the band play – what starts as an empty bar soon packs out with people in their 60’s dancing next to 18-year-olds – it’s a great combination and creates a good atmosphere.

The band play a tight set and the crowd aren’t shy in singing along to all their favourites – Town Called Malice always gets everyone singing and dancing along and is one that I’m always waiting for. My sister and friend both came along with me, more for the drinks than the band, but they were straight up the front dancing away and singing along with a group of guys who had turned up in their braces and were dancing like crazy.

Leanne, myself and my sister, Laura

Five Ska are a refreshing change from the rock and acoustic-heavy music scene in West Norfolk and the packed out bar/huge queue waiting outside just shows you how good this band really are. For those who aren’t much about the heavy metal or heavier music and just want something lively and fun on a Saturday night, this is the band for you and this is certainly the venue. We had a great night and it was brilliant to go up to the band and chat in the interval, they even recognised me from last time!

They are a bunch of awesome guys playing fantastic music and I am very pleased to have heard they will be playing Bar Red four times next year so I’ll have lots more chances to see them. Looking forward to it already!

Basement Jaxx blew it out of the park with plenty of bass and soul

Now you would have thought that two gigs in a row was a bad idea, but I have a habit of signing myself up for these things – I just can’t bear to miss anything that good! My boyfriend bought me Basement Jaxx tickets for my birthday and it has been a long summer waiting for the day to arrive. Then the FatBoy Slim tickets went on sale and we just had to go to that as well! Luckily they were on consecutive nights so it saved us the train fares on separate journeys, but it did mean two expensive nights out in London, plus accommodation and travel. On this night we stayed in the London Balham Travelodge, which I would recommend to anyone who is going to a Brixton Academy gig, it is right next to the tube station and so easy to get between them, close enough for a taxi if it finishes late but amazing access to the tube as well to save costs.

After a heavy and long night out at FatBoy Slim that had seen us partying until around 5am at a second club that had a pool in it, we had spent the day wandering around the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland eating moose and venison burgers, drinking hot mulled cider and wine. It had been a long day with very little sleep, but nothing was going to dampen our spirits. After one night spent raving to the soundtrack to my nineties childhood, I was eager to start dancing to the amazing hits of Basement Jaxx and relive my love of Bingo Bango, Good Luck and Romeo!

The group started with a powerful introduction by the incredibly soulful singers – all fabulous women with huge, multicoloured hairdos and elaborate outfits. It was clear that a lot of thought had been put into every aspect of the staging, with one of the singers being bathed in the spotlight on the balcony above the waiting crowd, before hurriedly making it to the main stage for the rest of the song. From the very beginning, the group had the entire crowd dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs to every word. It was as though Mardi Gras had exploded on to the stage, but with added soul, attitude and bass. Despite the huge range in ages, from the youngsters coming out with their mates, or even their mums, to the older groups of women and middle-aged couples who made up the crowd – everyone was bonded by their love of the music from whichever era.

The gig was explosive, and amazingly even managed to outdo the Major Lazer one I saw there last month. The showmanship was spectacular and just kept surprising the audience, from an incredible body-popping dancer who writhed her way across the stage, to dancers in morph suits with lights all over the front, to a huge robot that came on stage and did the robot dance with a bunch of gorillas! It was chaos, but well organised and perfectly put together. My favourite moments had to be when the group had a slightly more chilled number followed by the huge Good Luck and Bingo Bango – both huge, loud and explosive songs that had me screeching out the lyrics. My boyfriend and I were dancing like maniacs and I couldn’t keep my feet still – it was amazing. A moment that gave me chills, and still does now, was when a stunning ballet dancer reminiscent of Black Swan took to the stage and delicately danced her way around the stage while one of the singers began to sing the lyrics to Raindrops. Amazingly, I had managed to forget that these guys sang that song, despite loving it so completely when it was released. But hearing it sung so beautifully, so delicately and yet so powerfully was incredible. She stripped the song bare and, in contrast to the huge bangers they had just been playing, seemed so stunning in comparison.

I was also impressed by the performance of one of their latest releases, Back to the Wild, which to be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of when I had heard it previously at home or on the radio, but which had a huge impact live and although not as catchy as their older stuff, it certainly made everyone dance and sing along, including myself. Finally, my absolute highlight of the night was, without a shadow of a doubt, hearing the start of Where’s Your Head At. It was one of those moments, like when the Project X theme tune comes on in a club when everyone is smashed, when everyone turns round to each other with their mouths agape and then loses the plot seconds later. It is one of those songs that, ever since seeing it performed live on TV, I have always wanted to see live at a gig and I am so glad it has happened. The atmosphere was beyond anything I have ever experienced – it was electric and sizzling.

It sounds silly, but I’m getting chills just thinking about how amazing this gig was. I am so lucky to have experienced two of my top acts in two nights and I will never forget this weekend – I just hope that I am lucky enough to see them again in the years to come. The nineties were my favourite decade for music because so many of my favourite vintage acts were at their height at this time, but I’m glad to see now that electronic dance music is making it into the top 10 – it is about time we escaped talentless, boring pop music – I can’t deal with any more cutesy love songs by kiddies too young to have experienced their first kiss! Give me hard, dirty, filthy base music in a dark club or a huge venue and I’m happy.

Review: Mind blown by the Renegade Master!

After years of waiting, months of planning and weeks of listening to his songs as I drive to work each morning, I finally had the opportunity to see the man himself – FatBoy Slim DJ live at a top London club on the very first night of his brand new tour. Just typing the words gives me goosebumps all over again because not only was it an incredible gig, but it was one that I had been waiting a lifetime to go to. As a huge dance music lover, I have had my top ten list of DJs that I simply have to see play live in my lifetime (I’m sure we all have that same list for whatever music you might prefer), and FatBoy Slim was top of my list.

For anyone who grew up in the nineties and loved music, fair enough I may have only been about five when some of his tracks came out, we still grew up listening to his tunes on the radio, hearing them played at school discos, on Top of the Pops, mum and dad singing along… The list goes on. Whether we were aware of it or not, unless you lived under a bridge, FatBoy Slim, like the Chemical Brothers and Oasis were a huge part of nineties culture and therefore our lives. I always think that the music of the time plays a part in shaping the future lives of individuals and I think listening to this type of music as a youngster (yes I loved the Spice Girls as well!) is part of the reason I love live DJs so much now – this makes me worry for the generation growing up listening to the rubbish churned out by the likes of One Direction and Miley Cyrus.

Anyway, back to the gig. I headed to XOYO for the first time with a bunch of boy mates from home and my boyfriend – all of us ridiculously excited for the night ahead. My boyfriend and I already had tickets for the Basement Jaxx gig at Brixton O2 Academy the following night so had decided to make a weekend of it. We were staying in the Restup Hostel (a five minute walk from the Elephant and Castle tube station) the first night, which was perfect – close to the club and cheap – helpful since we would barely be in the room! Heading into the club, we made for the bar for a quick whisky to warm us up and then went on into the main room. The venue was great – dark, smoky and underground – just the way I like them. It was the perfect basement, gritty setting for the gig and the room was already busy as the house DJs warmed up the crowd. We headed through the crowd and found a good spot where we soon cut loose and started dancing as we waited for the man himself.

He exploded into his set with Renegade Master and everyone went wild – it was amazing to know that everyone there was as excited as we were to experience not only a gig, but the opening night of the Eat Sleep Rave Repeat tour. Everyone was dancing like their life depended on it, not just with their friends but with everyone around them. A few songs in, he dropped Free Mandela which was an incredibly powerful moment as we had heard on our way into the club of the great man’s death. The whole crowd punched the air and sang along – it was incredible and just shows you the power of music to unite people and express extreme emotion – something that I’m sure many would judge as lacking in a DJ set. I could sit here and list every amazing song that he played but there would be no point. It is important to say that he played a great set spanning his whole career from the earliest songs right through to his latest release of Eat Sleep Rave Repeat – and that one certainly got the crowd bouncing. FatBoy Slim also made sure to play loads of other amazing tunes that have basically been the soundtrack to my summer, with hints of Disclosure and others.

I was so utterly impressed by his set, which proved that as a DJ he truly is as relevant as ever, despite those who commented to me when I bought the tickets that isn’t he really old now? Well after seeing both FatBoy Slim and Sven Vath DJ, I can safely say that age is just a number and great music is not only a talent but one that lasts. The fact that I have now seen him live once has simply proved to me that I must see him again – perhaps next time in a festival setting to see how his set compares. I would fully advise any dance music lovers out there to take any opportunity they might get to see the godfather of dance rip up the DJ set, purely so they can see where it all began. This is definitely one of my top three gigs of the year and I had the most amazing time. I was so glad I could share it with so many of my friends and it will stay in my memory forever. If you look in the picture above, I am the fifth person along from FatBoy’s knee! Woop!