AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 31st May 2022.

Of all the gigs I’ve ever been to at the Albert Hall, I can say with as much confidence as possible, that last night’s show courtesy of Bruise Control and Amyl and The Sniffers, was the best. From the atmosphere, to the sound to the bands, to the crowd. Everything about the bands last night and the crowd was just divine. I don’t think the Albert Hall will EVER see a show like this again.

This was the first time I’d ever seen Bruise Control live, and my god they made you feel like it was THEIR headline show. Give it time, and they’ll be playing venues like this all the time. The band had their family in the crowd and seeing the singer’s mum have the time of her life whilst singing and dancing her heart out to the phenomenal sounds her son’s band makes was just beautiful. Looking at the crowd and seeing so many people lose their shit to this band was everything we all needed and more. At one point Amy and Gus were stood behind me watching Bruise Control, and to see everyone in the room just lapping up this exceptional band was a sight to behold and treasure. You could see how much this meant to Bruise Control and those that adore them.

Around 9pm, Amyl and The Sniffers bounced onto the stage and immediately tore the roof off the Albert Hall. The energy from their set was an extension of what Bruise Control gave us. Punk music with a bold message and a sound loud enough to deafen you for days. As soon as they opened with GFY (Go Fuck Yourself) the crowd downstairs turned into a sea of bodies swaying, sweating and throwing themselves and each other around. In just 50 minutes, I can’t begin to tell you how many people were being pulled out of the crowd. One being Bruise Control’s singer- who I think was pulled out 5/6 times. To see everyone have this much fun and more importantly- being kind to each other when someone fell or wasn’t too steady was a true sentiment as to what Punk is.

The setlist was a healthy mix of old and new songs. So many songs were a highlight for me. Their performance of Maggot, Got You, Some Mutts and Security were INSANE. There were tamer moments, for instance the song Knifey, that showed a different side to Amy’s vocals. Yes, she belts those proper Punk anthems out, but on Knifey she tells the frustrations of just wanting to walk home peacefully without feeling threatened. She does it in a way that just simply explains the frustrations but delivers it in a way that breaks your heart.

The energy this band have is infectious. The crowd feed off them and vice versa. I saw Amyl and The Sniffers play their first Manchester show at the Deaf Institute a few years ago, and it blew my mind but last night’s show was something else. Maybe it’s because we’ve been waiting years for this or maybe it’s because seeing this band live is the most liberating feeling you’ll get. Amy bounces round the stage like the Duracell bunny who has had too many lemonades; at one point she takes a shirt thrown to her from the crowd and wraps it round her face, like a makeshift balaclava.  She also brings out the bodybuilder stance as well whilst Gus, Dec and Bryce deafen the crowd with their sound.

Every single song is screamed back at the band, and it is the most beautiful sound you’ll ever see. The band totally own the stage, and you can really feel the love they have for their fans, music and each other. The bond they have is just wonderful to watch and being able to see this is a real honour. Some songs are belted out louder than others- from the crowd; such as Guided by Angels, Hertz and Gacked on Anger. The whole set is perfect and I could have happily watched 12 hours of this. Bliss. Absolute bliss. You cannot help but want and need more.

You know how everyone claims to be at the Sex Pistols show at the Free Trade Hall, then went on to form bands? I’m pretty sure that the show at the Albert Hall will have the same impact. There is no way you could have attended the show last night and not been left with a fire in your tummy. Watching them last night, I felt like I did when I first Iggy Pop and The Stooges for the first time. Amy has the same effortlessly slick manners as Iggy on stage. Gus is one of those bassists that make you wish you were as cool as him. Bryce is up there as being one of the best drummers I’ve ever EVER seen live. Dec absolutely rips as a guitarist and controls the crowd effortlessly with his sound.

Two of the most exciting bands in the world ripped the Albert Hall a new one last night, and nothing and no one will ever be the same again.

Punk is not dead. It’ll never die.

L.A. WITCH: The Pink Room @ Yes, Manchester 18th May 2022.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been right at the very front at a gig. And it’s been a long time since a gig left me a little bit deaf. God bless L.A. Witch for being one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to.

This show was meant to happen in 2020. We know what caused the delays, but last night the moment finally came.

I saw L.A. Witch play their first ever UK show when they played the Shacklewell Arms in London. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing them; I genuinely thought they would be one of those bands that I love that never find their way to the UK. I’ve been writing about the band since 2011, and they just blow my mind every single time. I adore their sound, and I love how they transport you into their world. A spooky but laid-back world. Sign me up! I never want to leave.

Last night, they played the Pink Room at Yes. The most important thing about this venue is that it has AIR CON. IT HAS AIR CON. You have no idea how important this is. The ultimate comfort. Let me be cold all of the time please, thank you.

L.A. Witch blast out all the hits. They tear the roof off with Untitled, Sexorexia, Dark Horse, Baby In Blue Jeans. They just kept the anthems coming. With a band like them, it’s difficult to work out who to focus on. Iritia is THE coolest bass player you’ll ever see. Ellie is up there with the greats on the drums- the sheer volume of the drumming was just incredible. Then you have their friend Lauren helping out on guitar who just looks and sounds effortlessly cool. Then Sade is front and center. The guitar is her machine gun. Her vocals are bullets the band look like they could probably knock you out, but we all know that they are just the loveliest and most beautiful humans around. I cannot compare their live shows to anything else in this world. It is like an outer body experience. I danced. My body hurt this morning when I woke up. The signs of a good night. There is so much passion and love in what they do, and how they play/their sound just makes you wish you were as cool as them. There’s no denying just how out of this world I Wanna Lose is live and you cannot help but just move your limbs and whatever else in ways that feel right to you.

L.A. Witch are most certainly one of the most dedicated and hard-working bands around. They seem to have been working and perfecting their sound for well over a decade, and in that time, they have played some amazing venues, toured with some excellent bands and won over plenty of new fans. The atmosphere in the room last night was gorgeous. This show was a long time coming, and let’s hope it won’t be too long for the next tour.

They ended on their enigmatic Get Lost, and the way this sounds like absolutely tops the recorded version. The distorted vocals, the reverb, the sheer loudness- everything.  It is just perfect and such a great way to end the set. They play the best modern day love song; Motorcycle Boy and you just feel like the band are taking you on a road trip on a dusty road into a world that only they know of. Kicking off the show, they played Kill My Baby Tonight which is such a great way to open the show. They could have opened with any song to be honest and it would have had us all hooked immediately. The heaviness in Kill My Baby Tonight stays through the whole set even on lighter songs like Baby In Blue Jeans. There’s this effortlessly slick feel to True Believers and Gen-Z. Your eyes don’t leave the stage at all, and sure they might be darting from one band member to another, but the admiration for them all is always there.

In an ideal world, I could afford to go to every single show they do wherever in the world. Even though they may not end up on this side of the world too often, you just treasure it even more so when it happens. There’s no denying that L.A. Witch will always be regarded as not only one of the best bands in the world ever, but most certainly one of the best bands you will ever see live.

WARPAINT: Albert Hall, Manchester 12/05/2022

If you’ve ever seen Warpaint live, then what I’m about to write will probably be old news to you. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about Warpaint, that too will also be old news. But it doesn’t matter. My point with this is to just tell anyone who reads this how amazing the band are. On record it is obvious they are brilliant, but live? Well, that’s a different level altogether.

My love for Warpaint started when I first heard the Exquisite Corpse many many moons ago. I felt like I had found the band that I needed my whole life. Warpaint just make eveyrything better. They fill you with joy, love and hope. Their laid-back sound is utterly transformed in a live setting and it’s pretty much life-changing.

They open with Stars; which is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The song soothes the soul. It calms you and makes you feel like all is okay. I can’t describe how euphoric this song is live, but to be honest with you- the whole set is sheer euphoria. The way Stars goes gently into Champion is too much! It should be a crime to be this good. There are so many moments during the set that just leave you in awe. I had to stop myself from crying many times. I felt complete happiness at this show, and I’ve not felt that way in a hell of a long time. But let’s not get too personal now. I think part of the joy I felt was down to how long I’ve waited to see them live again. The set was divine. I mean of course I’d be happy if they sang the alphabet for 5 hours straight but this set was just all I wanted and more. There was a strong mix of old and new songs.

My absolute favourite moment of the show was New Song going into Disco//Very. Those two songs makes me SO stupidly happy and to get them back to back in this way was like winning the lottery but way better. I was sat at the top (it was the VIP section and I felt so awkward sitting there but being able to watch the crowd move and sing their hearts out was so beautiful. The most beautiful crowd I’d ever seen!) Those two songs are wat heaven must sound like. You cannot help but watch the stage with such love and admiration. I adore how much they love each other, and this comes across every single time. The moment that really shows this is when all four of them stand at the front of the stage and sing Melting together. I’m pretty sure that’s how angels sing you know. As much as I love rowdy Punk shows, the balance I get from bands like Warpaint ease the mind. They are such a gentle band and without sounding like a cliched fool- they have never sounded better! The confidence is stunning. Emily’s vocals sound stronger than ever- this is evident on Hard To Tell You. She hits the high notes (I’m getting goose bumps writing about it!) and my god it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Pretty apt that they played an old church, right? This band have serious healing powers. Hard To Tell You is probably my favourite off the new record, and seeing it live was something else. I thought this would have been the one that made me proper bawl, but all I could do was soak up the moment and be in awe of Emily’s vocals.

At various parts of the show, you find yourself focusing on certain band members. Love Is To Die- you find yourself being in awe of Theresa’s vocals and presence. Like I mentioned already, Hard To Tell You leaves you fully engrossed with Emily’s voice. Jenny during Elephants and Beetles just blows your mind. Stella’s drumming on Disco//Very is just mind-blowing. These are just a couple of examples, but to be honest- the whole show just blew my mind. If I could live in a moment where I am constantly at a Warpaint show- I’d take it. I’m not sure how I’ve focused at work today because in my mind, body and soul- I’m at the show.

Something I’ve always admired about the band is how close they are. There’s this unity they have that makes you wish you were part of the band. I can’t really put into words what it’s like, but if you’ve seen them live- you’ll know exactly what I mean. Melting really summed this up. The way they stood round Emily as she played her iconic guitar, and they all created a different side to this song. I loved watching Jenny sway during every song. Her eyes closed as she sways to the music. There’s something about the sound like her bass makes that makes you instantly move just like her. Close your eyes and sway. The unbreakable bond they have is so beautiful to watch and you cannot help but smile like a total idiot whilst watching them.

Until next time, I’ll be keeping this show very close to my heart.

CROWS @YES Manchester 8th April 2022.

Friday night. The end of one of the most stressful and mentally challenging weeks of my life. Nothing bad, just a lot. A release of sorts was needed. I’m not a drinker, so that’s not my preferred route. Too exhausted to go to the gym. Too mentally alert to try go to sleep. My only option was to go see a band who I’ve dying to see for so long. A band that are just divine to watch, to listen to.

Crows played the Pink Room at YES on Friday night. An upgrade from last time, where they played the basement. I hear Wembley is next. Has to be. Anyway, I won’t get ahead of myself just yet. I want you to really imagine being at this gig because it was truly one of the most healing and ethereal experiences ever (live music wise.) Now, I’ve been obsessing over their new record Beware Believers over the past week or so, and their debut record Silver Tongues for me, was one of the best records of 2019. They’re just such a fantastic band and their live shows are like a religious experience/outer body experience. It definitely wasn’t from this planet at all!

I think like everyone else in the room, we could have happily watched Crows play for hours. The around an hour set wasn’t enough. It’s never enough! But my god that band give everything they have on more on stage. On record you can feel the urgency in James’ vocals, but put the band on stage and everything comes together and it is delivered with this ferociousness that just makes you questions everything around you. His vocals live are phenomenal. The words are screamed and sung with such passion; as if his life depends on it. As if YOUR life depends on it. The words hit harder when you see the band live, and the song for me that made me feel like I had been baptised or whatever was definitely Healing. That song has been on repeat since the record came out, and I’ve got not intention of changing that right now. The lyrics are heartbreaking because they are true, and when you witness this song live it just changes everything for you. Maybe that’s part of the healing?

When the band unleash the old gem that is The Itch (I’m not doing this in order of the setlist) I’m pretty sure I am just covered in goosebumps at this point. It’s out of this world. On the same level of this intensity, we’ve got Garden of England- which is sang back at the band in the most beautiful way. Then you’ve got the likes of Slowly Separate and Room 156 that just shatter your heart but they fix this part of you that you didn’t know you needed. I just think that Crows are the most intense and euphoric bands around and I cannot urge you enough to go see them live. We all end up finding a band that we just have to always see live whenever we can, and I can confirm that Crows are 100% one of those bands.

There’s just something about the atmosphere they create and the way it all just really hits you in the gut. Steve and Jith both have this way of using the guitar and bass to add this unearthly loudness to the show that makes you feel like you are being carried out into the deep unknown. Sam beats the shit out of the drums which fit perfectly with the way James delivers the poetic and intense lyrics/songs. For me, they just capture everything I love about music. Seeing them live has made me appreciate and love their music more than I already do, and I honestly didn’t think that was possible. An absolute joy and honour to see Crows live.

Also, something I want to mention was that Safe Gigs For Women were at the show. It’s a shame that we need them, but thank God they exist. The work they do is remarkable. If you’re able to donate or volunteer with them, please do: https://sgfw.org.uk/

And of course, if you have the chance to see Crows live- take it. Grab that chance; it’ll be the best thing you ever do.

METZ @ YES, Manchester 3rd April 2022.

Sunday. The perfect day to see one of the loudest bands around live. Even better when you have the Monday off to make sure you fully recover and can hear properly. I think the last time I saw METZ live was at YES, and it was such a great show. How was last nights show? Just as great- if not better.

The bands and fans have waited around 2 years for this tour, and it was absolutely worth the wait. METZ are a band that you listen to, and just let everything go to. I didn’t realise how badly I needed to see a band this loud, and when it happened- it was sheer euphoria. I wasn’t brave enough to get right into the crowd, but I had the time of my life on my lonesome at the back. The Pink Room at YES is probably one of the finest venues in this beautiful city. I’d put it up there with the likes of the Moth Club in London. It’s got this feel to it that just makes you feel like you are where you are supposed to be at that time. Anyway, profound shit aside- let’s talk the setlist.

METZ tear the roof off with Pulse- a proper smack in the face jam. A perfect way to open the set. Now, for some this 11 song set may have been too short (I mean I agree- I could happily watch them play for hours and still want more.) but the energy these 3 have on stage is insane. I just want to touch on how phenomenal a drummer Hayden is. On record, you know he’s great but bloody hell when you see METZ live, you truly get to witness how talented they are. Hayden’s drumming is unlike anything else I’ve seen- I can’t even give you a reference of who to liken him to but I promise you- he’s one of those drummers that will go on to influence so many. METZ are just a delight to watch, and the second their show starts you know it’s going to be something that stays with you. Alex’s vocals whilst annihilating the shit out the guitar are a sight to behold. He’s truly something else, and accompanying this you’ve got Chris making the bass sound like a lethal weapon. If you’ve never seen METZ live, then you’re missing out.

The setlist was perfect- cannot fault it. Not like I’d want to anyway! We were treated to Hail Taxi, The Swimmer, Eraser, new song Demolition Row, obviously Get Off (which was dedicated to the support Psychic Graveyard) and ended on A Boat To Drown In. There’s hardly any small talk here (and I’m all for that- bloody hate small talk) and they just keep the songs coming, and getting louder and louder with each song. YES is the perfect venue for a band like METZ. The sound there is great, and it’s a Pink room- what more could you want!

I think their show last night truly showed why METZ are not just one of the best band around full stop, but one of the most thrilling bands to see live. I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste and some may shy away from music as loud as this, but there’s no denying how talented METZ are. Canada’s finest for sure. Every record is a progression in sound, and is a masterpiece, and when you see them live you can’t help but wonder how the hell do only 3 people make this much noise? I’d put the show from last night as being one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to. Top 3 with Melvins and The Jesus And Mary Chain. Easily.

The show last night was truly worth the wait, and everything you could possibly want from seeing a band that you adore. If annual leave and money wasn’t an issue- I’d happily follow METZ on tour. They are a joy to watch- lets hope we don;t have to wait so long for the next tour!

IDLES: Manchester Academy. 4th December 2019.

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I apologise in advance for potentially how erratic and lengthy this will be. Last night’s show went beyond meaning the world to me, and although I may not be able to eloquently put into words what the show meant to me, I know that there is an incredible group of people who fully understand. That group of people are the AF Gang. Thank you.

Prior to the show last night Joe, Lee and Bobo walked past me. I stupidly (or sensibly) used my self-control to not go up to them and spurt out words of love and ask for a photo. I think part of me couldn’t believe it. Not that these real people walked past me, but because I was a couple of hours away from seeing them on stage. It hadn’t sunk in yet; the tickets were last minute (and I owe it to two complete strangers who have hearts of gold.)

Sadly, I didn’t make all the 45s set but what I could hear was truly wonderful and it sounded so energetic. But I did catch all METZ’s set. I think anyone who knows me, knows I love two bands a hell of a lot- METZ and IDLES. I saw METZ earlier this year when they played the Pink Room at YES (USA Nails supported, and again this was a dream line up.) I was blown away and I was left struggling to hear the day after. It was incredible. Second time around in a much bigger venue- they sounded the same. Full of this beautiful rowdiness that just makes you want to pick up a guitar and make a lot of noise. They are one of the best live bands around, and to see everyone else react the same was a beautiful thing too. Songs like Get Off and Acetate were sheer madness, and of course just made me fall in love with them all over again. If you ever get to see them, GO. In any capacity, just go. They’ll shake your bones and shatter your skull in the best way possible.

The main event. The bit where my heart beats faster in a good way, not from having a panic attack. The part where my life probably changes. Where it all kicks in.

IDLES take to the stage and open with Colossus. If you ever want to see a bunch of passionate, beautiful people rush to the front upon hearing the opening chords to an anthem- go to an IDLES show. This was the first time in a very long time where I was in the midst of the crowd. I normally stay back or near the side. I don’t do big venues usually. But I can safely say that I felt so fucking safe at this show. IDLES played 18 songs, and I’m pretty sure we would have begged them to stay longer and play them all again. They are a band that just make me feel so fucking happy and I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They are a band that say the things I probably can’t, and just voice out my worries and emotions better than I ever could. They are my outlet and my safety net. I have never sung (well, shouted) like this at a show before. This morning my body hurts and my throat hurts in the best way possible. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Every single song is a highlight (we got QUEENS for fucks sake!!!) and I wanted to stay in the moment forever. Is this how someone feels when they see their child for the first time? I think this is probably better. From the crowd chanting IDLES prior to them coming on stage, from Bobo ending up in the crowd to Joe ending up with someone’s shoe on stage- this was truly the best gig I’ve ever, ever been to. Sorry Nick Cave, I think you’ve bene overtaken! The crowd chanting “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” to the mass sing along of Wonderwall and All I Want For Christmas Is You. It was the most loving and precious atmosphere; I just wanted to be immersed in it forever.

This was my first IDLES show and it won’t be my last. There is something about seeing them for the first time that just gives you that kick up the arse that you need. Everything that this band and us fans stand for is something to treasure and to pass on. There were kids at the gigs with their parents, and if it was their first ever gig then everything else in life has a lot to live up to! I loved that during Rottweiler birthday girl, Catherine got on stage to play guitar with them. To see a fellow AF Ganger up on stage with the band and just ripping the stage apart was beautiful. That’s how you do a birthday and close a show.

Slow Savage broke my heart. This was the only moment I cried during the show. There is something about the way Joe shouts, “I’m the worst lover that you’ll ever have” that rips you apart. It’s the sheer openness and vulnerability in their songs that lures you in and wraps itself around your heart. This song is a prime example of it. But there is something else about their shows that will wrap itself around your heart- the strong feeling of unity.

Danny Nedelko is sang like a football chant on the terraces. This song means a hell of a lot to me and so many. It’s a perfect example of what makes this country great- the people who come here to better themselves. Our beautiful immigrants. We love you and you are welcome here. Always.

I feel I am missing key moments from the show, but I’ve had 5 hours sleep and a bit of a migraine brewing. I don’t care. I have never felt so alive as I did last night. The atmosphere was safe and full of love- just how it should be. We got Queens for fucks sake! I’m still delirious over that; incredible. Last night changed something in me. I’m not entirely sure what just yet, but something will emerge I’m sure. It has to. Since losing my Gran 3 months ago, I’ve not had hold of any emotion I have; everything has been a downward spiral in my head but last night I had a glimmer of stability. I have to go with that.

There is also nothing more satisfying and therapeutic than screaming along to their song Mother, and yelling “MOTHER! FUCKER!” with a few thousand people. Nothing can beat that.

Keep fucking going, and love yourself. LOVE.YOURSELF.

FONTAINES D.C. : O2 Ritz, Manchester 19th November 2019.

 

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“A sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money. An idiot is someone who lets their education do all of their thinking. A phony is someone who demands respect for the principles they effect. A dilettante is someone who can’t tell the difference between fashion and style. Charisma is exquisite manipulation, and money is a sandpit of the soul.”

 

Recently crowned by Rough Trade as being their record of the year, Dogrel by the mighty Fontaines D.C. is a record that you need to witness in a live setting. If like me, you’ve been playing it almost religiously since it came out this year you will know just how powerful this record is. It’s romantic, it’s brutal, it’s honest and it is powerful. There’s only one way to play it, and that’s loud. In a live setting, it becomes something else. I knew it was going to blow my mind, but my god it exceeded everything and anything I thought about this beautiful band.

Their set is basically Dogrel in full, and every song is performed with this ferocious energy that makes you believe in every single word that comes out of Grian’s mouth. He’s a poet yet he delivers the words in a way of a preacher, it’s absolutely hypnotising and such a great thing to witness. As I watch the band, I can’t help but feel that they have the same energy and presence that The Birthday Party had. Grian stalks the stage like a young Nick Cave; Carlos and Conor are like Rowland S. Howard and Mick Harvey/Blixa.

 

 

Fontaines D.C. are unapologetically loud, and they touch on subjects that most tend to shy away from. Their songs touch on the sexism in the workplace to dreaming of being big to black cab drivers. There is so much reality in their songs, and this reality is something that many would fear or try to shy away from. No one at the Ritz last night was shying away from any of this. Pints of beer were flying; middle aged men were screaming the songs at the top of their lungs and the kids at the front were no doubt soaking up everything Fontaines were giving us to create their own noise in the future. I sure hope they do.

Songs like Too Real, Sha Sha Sha and Liberty Belle see the venue absolutely erupt in euphoria. We all know that this is one of the greatest records of the year and beyond, but trust me it all changes when you see it live and when you are surrounded with people who love this record, and this band as much as you do. You feel at home and oddly secure. Chequeless Reckless was my highlight for sure, but I’m going to touch on the set closer Big shortly which was equally as powerful. So, Chequless Reckless goes beyond being a song; it is a vital piece of poetry that should be studied. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future their lyrics find their way onto syllabuses in schools. Fontaines are no doubt our future and are showing us a side that we need to be exposed to. You can see their world anywhere, but so many chose to ignore it. Don’t. Just don’t. I love the way the band just play with this urgency and dedication to make these songs be heard. Grian’s vocals takeover the venue, but when you see the sheer devotion in the way Tom beats the living shit out of the drums and how Conor treats his bass like a machine gun not to forget how Carlos and Conor thrash their guitars about with this sheer Punk energy that would make even Johnny Ramone proud if he was here. If you were at this show last night, chances are that like me, your love and obsession for Fontaines has gone through the roof.

The band end with Dogrel’s opener, Big. In a way, this has become a bit of an anthem. All their songs have done this. Fontaines could easily sell out arenas there’s no denying that, and maybe this will now be the last time we get to see them in a venue this size but their songs and the way they perform them do create a sense of intimacy and sheer devotion between the band and the fans. Big is THAT song that will inspire many to get out of their current town and to make it elsewhere. Anyone can do it, and the self-belief that Fontaines have, and had got them where they are now. Big is the song you play to pump yourself up or to just give yourself reassurance that you can make something of yourself, even if your beginnings aren’t grand.

 

 

If you’re looking for a band that will blow your mind, burst your eardrums and leave you covered in other people’s drinks- then go to a Fontaines show. It was most certainly one of those shows that you know people will be talking about in decades from now; it was memorable for so many reasons, and as time goes on those reasons will evolve. People will start bands because of this show, people will create their own poetry because of this show, this band and Dogrel. There is no denying just how brilliant Fontaines are and of course, they deserve to be big. Last night’s show went beyond proving that. Definitely one of my favourite shows of the year.

 

EZRA FURMAN: Albert Hall, Manchester. 12th November 2019.

 

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Yesterday was my birthday; it was the first without my Grandma. It was a weird and painful day. Thank god I had my girlfriend and an Ezra Furman show to distract me.

I’ve been a fan of Ezra for so long, and various things I’ve always got in the way of me ever catching a show of his. The main being me having panic attacks. He once played a tiny venue right by my old house on Chatsworth Road in London, of course I couldn’t go because I had a panic attack and was broke. Living just to pay rent and have no life is now a thing of the past, but back then it was pretty much all I did. Last night was special for so many reasons.

 

 

The crowd was full of people who just made the show feel like home. To see the front row absolutely scream the words back to Ezra gave off a sense of hope. They are our future, and maybe they’ll be the ones to fix all the fuck ups that past and present leaders have caused. The crowd was made up of beautiful people from our LGBTQ+ community. People were free to be whoever they wanted, dress however they wanted and to just be free. To truly be free. I sincerely hope Ezra is aware of the power and influence he has, and how he is probably spurring on a younger generation to speak up and fight back.

There were so many moments in the set where you could truly feel and hear the words being screamed by Ezra and being screamed back at Ezra louder than most. I did my very best to hold back tears for many reasons, and to hear certain lines being sung just caused some tears to fall. There’s one line that I have in the back of my mind constantly from his brilliant song (and one of my favourites from Twelve Nudes) My Teeth Hurt. I love the line, “I don’t know how I’m doing lately. Fuck you if you ask.” I didn’t have it in me to scream that line last night, but I have it constantly screaming in my head. If I could personally thank Ezra for writing that line, and that song I truly would. I really cannot put into words just how much that line means to be. It’s a crutch for me.

We all know that Twelve Nudes is probably the best record of the year, and it’s been my safety net since it came out. I love how on the record you can truly hear the fury in Ezra’s voice. The cracks in his voice on the songs occur just as beautifully on stage. You can really feel every single emotion when Ezra does songs like Calm Down, Evening Prayer and Trauma. He played about 22 songs last night, and I’m pretty sure we want Ezra and his band to just stay on stage forever. He’s our hero, he’s our voice. Thank fuck we have people like him. He’s 2 months older than me, but I still idolise him in the same way I idolise Patti Smith and Nick Cave. He’s everything to me, and he is everything to everyone who was at the show last night.

Hearing the new songs live was such a beautiful experience but it is older songs like My Zero (who he dedicated to our Mancunian treasure, Marc Riley), Haunted Head and Love You So Bad were such an honour to see and hear. He created moments on stage that you just wanted to stay in for the rest of time. I have never felt so safe at a show; it felt like home. It felt like we were all witnessing something truly powerful yet utterly sacred. Of course, I wish I had seen him live before, but to see him in a venue that I adore, with my favourite person was most certainly worth waiting for.

Suck The Blood From My Wound opened the show, and it was played with this urgency that made you instantly realise just how vital this show was going to be. It is one of those shows that you know you and all those who were there will be talking about in many years to come. I hope the younger kids there start their own band and get their voices heard. I hope anyone who felt out of place, felt at home at this show. The way which Ezra and everyone screams, “To them we’ll always be freaks” is so powerful. Everyone felt it, as did I. You could tell that from the first song that this was going to be a truly remarkable show, and you could see on Ezra’s face that he knew immediately too. This beautiful city means a lot to Ezra, and the love and respect is hugely reciprocated.

I could write thousands and thousands on my love for Ezra and about the show last night. If you’ve ever seen his show, you’ll know exactly what I mean and how safe it all feels. Ezra is someone who plays shows with everything he has. He leaves it all on stage. He pours his heart out into these songs; sure, you can hear it on record, but to truly witness this live is something else. Twelve Nudes is the Punk record he always wanted and needed to make. It’s the Punk record I always needed. His cover of The Clash’s Police On My Back (which is also a cover) was beautifully done, and I saw one person on the opposite side of my totally lose his shit to it. It was beautiful. The setlist was perfect. Every single song was played with such passion and fury. Every song made you feel like you belonged and that they were for you.

 

 

The show last night was made up of all ages, races, genders and sexuality. It was a freeing and welcoming atmosphere. Also, the person selling the merch was just the sweetest. I just needed to add that.

Given my own personal circumstances, I can say that this is one of the best shows I have ever EVER been to. If you have the chance to see Ezra, go. Go and sing your heart out with him.

“And if it’s not enough to keep the lights on
Let ’em turn the lights off
Broken spirit and a bad cough
Turn ’em off, turn ’em off
And when you’re really at the end of your rope
No, you don’t take the night off
Too many demons to fight off
Cut me off, cut me off.”

Thank you, Ezra. Thank you.

BANKS: O2 Ritz, Manchester. 1st November 2019.

BANKS

 

Last night was only my third time seeing BANKS, but to see her perform the songs from her new record III was a completely different experience from the past two shows.

Her voice is stronger than ever, her confidence has grown, and she is easily one of the best performers you’ll ever see. I can safely say this morning that my voice is a bit fucked. I sang my little heart out last night, something which I rarely do. I guess I felt I needed to get everything out. Her music is soothing, it is healing and just makes everything alright. She’s is nothing short of phenomenal.

 She opens her set with Til Now, which is a powerful anthem. It’s a solid ‘fuck you’ and BANKS does this so well. On stage all she needs is Derek, Ben, Nadine and Allison. Nadine and Alison, along with BANKS move in ways that make you feel like you are at something that is more than just a concert. There is something so ethereal and magical about watching the three of them move together. Of course, I lose my mind when Stroke starts. I told my girlfriend we should have brought red bandanas or something to recreate the moves but luckily, we improvised (nearly smacking each other!) During the set I was stood near a guy who was absolutely having the time of his life; moving in ways we all should at shows and screaming every word back at Jillian. That’s how you do it. I think I spent more time watching him! Something I love seeing at BANKS’ shows is just how passionate her fans are. Everyone just screams the words back, as if we have been waiting our whole lives to just get this all out. She is a phenomenal writer, and like I mentioned above her vocals have become even stronger.

 

 

There are so many perfect moments during the show, but for me it came from the most tender and vulnerable part- when she recited her poem, Ode To The Grey Zone, that’s when it all fell into place for me. I was one of them who filmed the whole thing- I just had to. It is such a gorgeous and vulnerable piece of art, and it is something that is so comforting. I needed it. There are so many highlights from her new record that came to life last night. One of the most important ones was If We Were Made Of Water. Did I expect to hear it? Hell no. I lost my mind. It is such a strong song, and on record her vocals on this are insane but when you witness it live, you take on a different meaning. That’s what I love about Jillian- when you see her perform these songs after religiously playing them at home, they really do take on a different meaning. They become a bigger part of you, and that’s the part you cling to. Always.

 Seeing everyone lose their mind to Gimme was brilliant. I think this, and Underdog are the ones that caused me and my girlfriend to absolutely ruin our voice and wake up with sore throats this morning. Completely worth it. Drowning and Waiting Game were as always, a joy to witness. I love that she’s switched up the set, and even though I wanted to see This Is What It Feels Like again- seeing If We Were Made Of Water just completed it all for me. Poltergeist was ridiculous. I love the choreography to this. I think for me, the best part of the show choreography wise was Contaminated. It is such a heartbreaking song, but when you see it performed it takes on a new life almost. The way it is performed is so heartbreaking, and you feel slightly voyeuristic watching it- seeing something so fragile. But even in BANKS’ tender moments, there is so much strength and I love that about her so much. Alaska caused everyone to lose their mind as did Underdog. The whole set was a delight, and I’m just so excited to watch her keep evolving as a performer and writer. She truly is a Goddess. Also, the songs playing before she came on stage made me love her even more. My girlfriend, who is a huge Lil’ Kim fan left her place in the drinks queue to run up to me and recite the lyrics. I fucking love her. Before BANKS came on stage Where My Girls At by 702 was playing- pretty sure I was treating everyone to a nice rendition of that. She played so much Missy too, which is a given!

As someone who has been a fan right from the start, seeing Jillian grow and become the performer she is now is truly beautiful. The chapter of III is her showing us how she has grown and blossomed into this confident performer. I’ve always loved how you can see how much she loves playing shows on her face. When she performs Beggin’ For Thread, and hands the mic to the crowd this beautiful smile takes her over and the dimples shows us just how much it means to her. Maybe because she sees how much it means to us too. Seeing Godless and Propaganda live were out of this world too. Definitely a highlight for sure.

With just three records she has become this vital part of music, and so many people’s lives. I loved seeing so many people from our LGBTQ+  community in the crowd. It felt like home, it felt like a safe space and given the state of the world right now- this is what we need. Her music is a safety net, her shows make you feel like you finally belong and being who you are is enough. The world puts us down enough, we don’t need to do it to ourselves.

 

 

Last night was the first night of the UK/EU III tour; so, if you are lucky enough to be going, you are in for a real treat. If you’ve never seen BANKS live before, prepare to have your mind blown. If you’ve seen her before, you’ll truly see how she has grown, and you’ll just be so proud of her.

BAMBARA: Soup Kitchen, Manchester 22nd October 2019.

Image result for bambara band

 

I went to this show as someone who casually listened to Bambara; I left as someone who is now obsessed and in awe of what I witnessed in a room that should have been packed.

I think the best way to describe a Bambara show is wonderfully loud and chaotic. As soon as they ripped into their set, I immediately felt like I was watching The Birthday Party for the first time. They have the same raucous sound that is all over the place in the best way possible. I don’t want my music to sound polished or perfect- I want it to be noisy, all over the place and powerful. I got all of that and more from Bambara’s set. They put their absolute everything into their performance, and honestly, Reid Bateh is quite possibly one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. He absolutely puts all he has into the songs, and in a live setting you can truly see just how much this means to him. It’s like he has to get THIS out. I don’t know what “THIS” is exactly, and maybe it’s something we all have in us, but he gets it out in a way that is beautifully enthralling and terrifying at the same time.

Bambara aren’t a band for those wanting roses and sunshine. They are a band for those seeking something to cling to. They’ve toured with two bands that own my heart- IDLES and METZ. Imagine seeing that! It’d be like witnessing something so sacred, and spiritual. I had a great spot at this show, and maybe it was because it wasn’t sold out. It should have been sold out by the way. I could see everything, and I was so fascinated with drummer, Blaze. His style reminded me so much of one of my favourite drummers- Alex Robins. I loved that Blaze’s stage attire was shorts and cowboy boots- if that doesn’t define cool, then I don’t know what does. His style of drumming is intense and captivating. He’s the kind of drummer that a kid would watch and think, “I want to do that.” He made a 32 year old feel that way (me, by the way.) I love how the band all have this sense of solidarity when they play. It feels like a brotherhood (obviously that’s the case with Reid and Blaze!) and this tight sound they have just makes you completely hooked on every sound they make, and every word that Reid sings.

 

 

Songs like José Tries to Leave, and brand new song Serafina (which I think they had only played once before maybe?) were just magnificent to watch. With this possibly being the second time they performed Serafina, they nailed it perfectly. I love how Reid thrashing the microphone wire like an out of control lion-tamer, and he definitely reminds you of a very young Nick Cave when he was in The Birthday Party. This was probably one of the loudest shows I’ve been to at the Soup Kitchen- it wasn’t as loud as the times I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain (I couldn’t hear properly for 2 days, but I was stood right by the speaker so…it was to be expected!) Although the venue wasn’t packed, but to be honest sometimes it doesn’t matter you know. Sometimes it can feel like the whole world is there, and Bambara definitely made you feel that way. At times it felt intrusive as you witnessed them leave their absolute everything on stage, but bands that do this just have my complete respect. To be that open on stage is something to really appreciate and admire for sure.

I love how bassist, William completely lets go on stage. Sometimes you see bass players who are holding back and seem to be teetering on letting go, but William is unafraid and just makes you wish you were as cool as him. Bryan and Sammy are INCREDIBLE guitarists; they could easily have blown the amps with how loud they were, and take that with how grand Blaze’s drumming is- then you get the general idea of how wild and loud this show was.

There was something about this show that at the end, I felt like I had got what I needed. I felt some kind of release. I’m not sure what of. I mean today is 2 months since my Grandma died and I’m ready to go back to bed and spend the day crying. But last night, that gig gave me that feeling that you get from your favourite band. It was truly special for so many reasons. I urge you to see Bambara whenever and wherever you can. It’s not just a show, it’s an experience. An experience that will stay on your mind until the next time. Over and over.

 

 

Their set ended on Monument, and it was such a high to end on. Of course you wanted more, and you just wanted them to carry on for an eternity but this was just one of the most mesmerising shows I’ve ever been to. Bambara have been around for some time now, and these New York heroes are a band to become majorly obsessed with.

This was my first time seeing the band, and I definitely hope it won’t be my last. Their new record, Stray will be out in February. It’s their fourth record and I reckon it might just be their heaviest to date. I cannot wait to hear it, and can probably call it as one of 2020’s finest records.