IDLES: Manchester Academy. 4th December 2019.


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.

GARBAGE: 20 Years Paranoid Tour. 9th September 2018. Manchester Academy.


There are some experiences in life that can never be replicated. There are some moments where words do not do what you have been through justice. Last night I saw Garbage perform a record in full that came out 20 years ago. This is the record that saved my life. This isn’t an exaggeration; it’s the truth. Music has, and always will be my crutch but Version 2.0 helped me in ways, and still helps me in ways nothing else has. Or could.

This isn’t a typical review of a show. This wasn’t just me going to see a band play live. This was something else. This was an outer-body experience. It was part healing, part saving, part something that I do not know how to put into words.

There were a few songs I knew would break me. I tried listening to one in particular a few days before the show and I couldn’t make it through. How was I going to cope seeing it live? As soon as the opening notes to Medication kicked in, I suddenly wished I was on a higher dose of sertraline. My mind and body couldn’t really come together to fathom what I was experiencing. The brutal truth; Medication got me through being bullied all through secondary school, it got me through the years and years of self-loathing and what comes with it. Just read the lyrics, it’s fairly obvious how I coped. Do I regret it? No. Am I ashamed? Not at all. We all cope differently. So when I heard this song last night, I went back to the days of feeling like I did then. But something happened- it wasn’t just tears of sadness. They were tears of relief knowing that I don’t have to carry that feeling around ever again. Sure I have to face depression and anxiety every day- but certain feelings aren’t there no more.

A moment that truly stood out was Shirley crying at the response we gave the band. But, what else could they expect? People that were there last night were people who idolise the band, who have had their lives saved by them, who use the strength in the band make it theirs. Last night’s show was the best show I’ve ever been to- the main reason being what the record means to me. However, the reaction from everyone was just so beautiful, and totally backs up my theory that crowds in Manchester are just the best.

I loved when Shirley went into Personal Jesus during Wicked Ways. It went perfectly, and was something I just wanted to last forever. I also loved Dreams by Fleetwood Mac being sung by Shirley towards the end of You Look So Fine. That song has always made me cry for reasons I’ll never understand, and to hear Shirley sing You Look So Fine and expose just how vulnerable the song is was just something else. Push It sent everyone nuts- it was incredible. I was stood right at the back, but to see everyone go off for this song was so beautiful. The crowd was made up of every background you can imagine, and it was just a beautiful sea of people coming together to see the band that they adore. There is no better feeling.

Every B-side was played, and my personal favourite was Solider Through This. It’s been a song I have loved since I heard it years and years ago. I loved the fragility in it. I loved Shirley’s speech before she went into it. She said relationships shouldn’t be difficult, that they should be easy. I truly felt that- I was stood next to my girlfriend, my best friend as she said this. There was no one else I’d want to see my favourite band with, and allow them to see me ugly cry like that. Although a difficult song for her to sing live (the lyrics justify why) Shirley’s voice on this was one of my favourite moments of the show. Shirley’s voice at this show was nothing short of mind-blowing. I have never heard anyone sound so tough and powerful. There’s a note in this song near the end that she totally annihilates and every single part of me is covered in goose bumps. She does this numerous of times throughout the show, and I think it’s us, the crowd that make her sound louder than she ever has. I was just in awe of her voice and how Butch, Eric, Duke and Steve play with this energy that puts newer bands to shame.

The Trick Is To Keep Breathing was the song that made me cry the most. I’ve never ever cried like that at a show before, and I never will again-unless it’s seeing this song. This song was my lifeline for so long, and it still is. It’s my go to song when everything is too much or when I just need some form of reassurance. I used to repeat the chorus in my head as I walked the corridors at school and had this feeling in my stomach knowing what I was about to face. This song got me through it, and I am forever in debt to Garbage for this song.

When you go to a Garbage show, you are enamoured by all of them. You focus on Shirley stalking the stage like a hungry panther, Butch makes you wish you could play the drums, Duke is the coolest person on the planet, Steve has this laid-back stance but you know he is playing with everything he’s got and Eric drives the band on. I’ve never seen such a perfect bunch of musicians like this before. They fit together. Their bond is just so beautiful.

Excuse the pun, but it was such a special show. Every song made me feel like I was going back 20 years ago to hear this record for the first time all over again. I loved that there were little kids at the show wearing massive headphones-imagine that being your first show you ever go to! Those kids have cool families. I love how this show just brought so many people together all for the same reason. I loved hearing The World Is Not Enough,  Dumb and their cover of Can’t Seem To Make You Mine. Temptation Waits blew my mind a stupid amount! I wanted the show to keep going forever. In my head, it still is. I’m emotionally exhausted from it and I’ve had about 5 hours sleep. I feel like I am still at the show. I want to always stay in that moment.

The show ended perfectly on their cover of Starman. That song has always made me cry (what doesn’t… I know!) and to hear them sing this song, it kind of felt like the band were saying “Stay weird and don’t let anyone take it from you. Ever.” Just like Bowie always did. The way Shirley sings this makes you realise she has definitely studied his performances, and she did the song justice. They all did. They made this song theirs but in a way, you knew it was a tribute and it was so perfectly done.

I never thought I’d see/hear the songs live that saved my life. I never thought I’d experience it. It meant more to me than these words I’ve written can express. If on the off-chance they read this- thank you. You helped this kid deal with more than they could carry, and make it to adulthood.

THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN- Psychocandy Shows.

“But you break me in two
And you throw me away
And you spit on my head
You trip me up.”

After spending more money on gig tickets, travel and accommodation – it is with a slight bout of deafness and sheer joy that I can say, I have finally seen The Jesus And Mary Chain live. Twice. In the space of a few days. Not sure how I am not totally deaf, but it’s fine. It is an excuse to not listen to anyone (not like I do anyway.)

I don’t want to turn this into a comparison of Manchester vs London. I’m siding with London because I was at the front, I can’t hear and the venue was a lot nicer. The Troxy is one of the most stunning venues I’ve ever been to. I’m usually a fan of venues that look like they’re about to fall down and are the size of a shed, but I like to make an exception. Instead, I’ll just go on about how TJAMC are one of the best bands I have seen live, finally.

I knew it was going to be loud. I knew it was going to feel like my ears were going to burst and bleed. I wouldn’t have bought tickets if I wasn’t alright with that. The crowds at both nights (and I’d imagine for most dates/all) consisted mainly of middle-aged men having the time of their lives. Some crying onto their best friend’s shoulders, most shouting the words back at Jim as if he’s some modern-day Messiah (he probably is, let’s be honest.) For me, it felt like a Morrissey show but with a bit more bite. How these guys react to TJAMC is how grown men are at a Morrissey show, without the stage invasion. There is something beautiful about seeing this. TJAMC appeal to those who are awkward, unsure but carry the weight of daily feelings like no other. They are for those who do not mind the darker side of having emotions, what they do mind is being told how to offload it all. How do you offload it? You stick on TJAMC and you think of someone or something that is really eating you. This is how you come alive.

I wasn’t even a mere thought before Psychocandy came out (I was born a year and one week later, always late.) but it has become one record that I quite simply, cannot live without. Is it a bold statement? Is it foolish? There a few thousand from over the past week or so who will probably agree with me. United. It’s a record that means more to me than anything else I’ve ever heard. I’ve felt every ugly and passionate feeling Jim sings on that record, and fuck me I am not ashamed. I’m sort of proud that I am able to relate to such a remarkable record. See, I just can’t live without it. To see it live in its entirety was something no part of me ever thought I would see. I never ever thought I would see TJAMC live, ever. I have a tendency to like bands that have most members dead or they hate each other. Sometimes both. Thank you Jim and William for getting your shit together.

I expected nothing from the shows, all I cared about was seeing TJAMC. The excitement I had was probably borderline irritating, I don’t care. If you get the chance to see your favourite band in the whole wide world live, go. Just go. I don’t care how you fund it, just go. Treat yourself. You need to.

There was an atmosphere at both shows that I sincerely hope was at all of them. It was a mixture of relief, absolute happiness and shock that it was about to happen. I know this isn’t a live review, all it is is something unleashing how it feels to see their favourite band of all time live. Finally. There was nothing wrong with these shows, every element of it was perfect. Last night, William played a bum note during a song and Jim just turned to him as if to say, “typical” shook his head and grinned. William was like the mad scientist surrounded with amps and pedals. Jim was every bit the brilliant frontman I knew he was. There was no need for painful conversation between songs. I’m not a fan of that. And I don’t think they are either.

Seeing You Trip Me Up and My Little Underground live meant more to me than I thought they would. Those songs hold more sentimental value to me than a song probably should. More than I want them to, but seeing it all live was like a release. A sigh of relief, yet I didn’t want it to end. TJAMC have been missed, so dearly missed. I hope they never leave us again because we needed it. Live music needs bands like them. Being brutally loud and not apologising for making you feel as if your ears are bleeding. If I don’t get injured or go a little deaf at a gig, I probably didn’t have a good time.

TJAMC’s music is the polar opposite to me, sound wise. They are brutal, somewhat sinister and loud. I’m too shy for my own good, but I’m alright with clinging onto that. Psychocandy is a release of all sorts, and to finally see it live goes beyond the words I have written.

They opened with April Skies. A song I thought would be too much for me to witness, but my god it was beautiful. To just watch that over and over would be something else. Maybe they’ll do a tour for Darklands…that’d be nice. There is no doubt in my mind that TJAMC are the best band, ever. How Jim Reid feels about the Velvet Underground is how I feel about them. Ultimately I do feel the same about the Velvet Underground, obviously. I think that’s quite clear. One of the true special moments last night was Miki Berenyi joining them on Just Like Honey. Oh, and Kevin Shields was sat upstairs too. Shoegaze heaven.

The shows I went to were euphoric and loud. Seeing middle-aged men take their partners with them as if to say, “This has been me for the past 30 years, this is who I am” was just beautiful. The songs are as important as they always were, much like the band.