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2017 Moment of the Year

25 Jan

To ease us into the New Year (yes, we know it’s nearly the end of January and yes, we know calling it the New Year is stretching it somewhat) and to ease us back into the habit of writing, we thought we’d take a quick look back at our favourite musical moment of 2017. A gig that we went to over the summer, featuring one of our favourite bands.

To be fair, our moment was less about the music (though seeing Avec Sans live is always a pleasure and moment to be savoured), less about the gig itself, or even the venue. Our moment of 2017 was all about who we got to spend it with and why. Thanks to the wonderful Wake Up Gigs, we got to share it with our kids.

Wake Up Gigs was started by a couple of very good friends of ours, Adam and Sarada, when they became parents. As massive music fans and avid gig goers, they were determined not to miss out on their shared love of live music now that they had a little one to care for. The easy option would have been to call in family favours for childcare, but music had brought them together (they met at a gig) and they wanted to be able to share that experience with their son as well. So babysitter be damned, they looked at setting up their own live music event for parents and children to attend together.

There had been others before, but the summer was our first time at a Wake Up Gigs event. It made sense, we love Avec Sans, the kids had been singing along to the album in the car since it came out, of course we were going to go to this. Boy we were glad we did.

The atmosphere was amazing, so much joy from both parents and children. Ages ran from a few months to quite a few years and there was something there for everyone. To the side of the stage there was a soft play corner and balloon animals were being made on the other side. There was music related colouring and dress up and plenty of activities for the kids as well.

For the first time we were able to truly share the energy and vibrancy of live music with the kids and they loved it. They even had their favourite song from the album (“Heartbreak Hi”) dedicated to them. Not bad for their first gig. Jack and Alice were more than happy to stop and meet families, posing for photos and generally being the amazing people we know them to be, and Jack even let the kids come up on stage afterwards and play with his novation pads.

For a first gig, we couldn’t have asked for anything more for the mini-alphabetbands crew. The performance was incredible, the venue great and the whole environment and ethos was just perfect. We won’t lie, we may have had something in our eye watching the two most important people in our world dancing and singing along happily to a live show by one of our favourite bands in the world.

Wake Up Gigs is a wonderful concept, something truly magical for parents and kids to share the live music experience together. It was something our two won’t forget, something they still talk about and thoroughly enjoyed.

Without a shadow of a doubt, it was our musical moment of 2017 and one we would recommend to absolutely any music lovers with young children.

Get to know Wake Up Gigs: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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2015 Review: Gig of the Year

5 Jan

Gig of the Year


All We Are – Other Voices stage, Latitude festival, Friday 17 July.

We knew when we ventured to the Other Voices stage to check out All We Are live for the first time that we were going to have a great time. After all, their debut album was already well on the way to becoming one of our favourites of the year. Even so, we were totally blown away by the performance and left feeling elated by what we’d just been part of.

All We Are Latitude

Recreating their Dingle home, the Other Voices team were to be found in a beautifully bedecked barn, hidden amongst the trees alongside the river that runs through Henham Park and away from any of the other stages. Here, amongst the hearts, glitter-balls and glowing luminescence of the venue, All We Are set about tearing the place down.

Their music has a laidback grooveability to it; a languid swirl of movement and funk that is infectious yet somewhat relaxed. Here though that groove, that funk that imbues all they do vibrated with something else, an unexpected and indomitable energy. Resistance was futile, but there was no one in the room up for resisting.

Everywhere you looked the crowd was dancing as this irresistible groove took hold. Sodden with sweat, All We Are conducted us to move, to sing and to enjoy. Nothing was left on stage as the trio treated us to a show none of us would forget. Such was the passion and desire in the room that, even though they were clearly exhausted, they still managed to give us an unplanned and fantastic encore.

If you ever get the chance to see All We Are play live, take it, trust us.

Photo courtesy of thethinair.net


Live Review: Let’s Eat Grandma, Latitude Festival, 18 July 2015

22 Jul

LEG

Nestled within the trees of Henham Park woods, shrouded in the metaphorical shadow of the grand Obelisk stage atop the hill, Latitude offers music lovers a multitude of glories to enjoy. The iArena and Alcove stages for example, tend to showcase bands on the rise, exciting and extremely talented artists, these stages offer a reasonable introduction to festival life in quieter, more organic surroundings. Then there is the Other Voices stage, new this year it is perhaps the most beautifully bedecked of all in its makeshift barn by the lake with a line up that would be good enough to thrill most punters regardless of what was happening elsewhere.

Yet these relatively intimate and wonderful surroundings are nothing compared to the comparatively tiny set-up that is the Inbetweeners stage. A small platform organised by Access to Music and CultureWorks East, it sits between the kids area and the Greenpeace woodland activity area. Not the most glamorous of stages perhaps and certainly not one that brings in the big crowds. It is ostensibly a place where Access to Music students get to perform and experience the festival environment for the first time.

It is here though, in these inauspicious environs, amongst whispered excitements for surprise sets from Ed Sheeran and Thom Yorke, that a musical revolution is taking place. In front of probably the Inbetweeners largest ever audience and with (we’d wager for the first time) label reps sat atop the dusty hillside, two young ladies are delighting and befuddling in equal measure. Let’s Eat Grandma have come to play and we’re not sure Latitude knows what is hitting it.

At just 16, Rosa and Jenny might just be the most exciting and remarkable act we see all weekend. Their show, and it is a show – not just a gig, is avant garde organised chaos and is utterly captivating. They move about the stage, seamlessly swapping from instrument to instrument, keys, drums, sax, triangle, strings, even a recorder or two make an appearance as the pair sing, chant, shriek and enthrall. Experimental, punky, rebellious and poppy, there is no way to adequately describe the level of imagination and creation at work.

The pair slip effortlessly from moments of synchronised glee to apparent confrontation. It’s spoken word, it’s dance music, it’s discordant and harmonic, spiky and cushion soft, there is humour and foreboding darkness. If it was an art installation piece you’d be amazed but here, in the woods on this tiny stage with two teenagers in matching sparkly jackets, platform shoes and tumbling tresses of hair that are about as wild and wilful as the music they make, it is just astounding.

Let’s Eat Grandma will be appearing at Camp Bestival and Festival Number 6 in the coming months. We heartily recommend you go check them out.


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2014 Review: Gig of the Year

24 Dec

Following on from yesterday when we revealed our favourite video of the year, we continue giving you a little Christmas bonus with a little post about the gig that we enjoyed the most in 2014.

Well, while we say gig it’s gigs really. You see, when it came down to it, we just couldn’t separate our two favourite gigs from this year. They both gave us two very different experiences but in their own way, each was the equal of the other and to try and pretend otherwise would have been churlish. Besides, it’s our list and our opinion, we can do what we like right?

Right.

= Hip Hatchet – The Bicycle Shop, Norwich, 14/01/2014 & Broods & MØ – Notting Hill Arts Club, 05/03/2014

Hip Hatchet – The Bicycle Shop, Norwich. 14/01/2014

Hip Hatchet

We almost didn’t make it to our first gig of the 2014 simply because we’d not been paying attention to what was going on around in Norwich at the time. With about 48 hours to go, we noticed that Hip Hatchet was in town for a show at the wonderfully intimate Bicycle Shop and, having read We Listen For You eulogising about him time and time again, we thought we’d give it a go. Our reward was an evening with an incredibly talented performer and storyteller that we hope some day to experience again.

From our review…

Playing on a cosy stage, board games piled high and nameless fish exploring their tank behind him, Philippe Bronchtein is spinning yarns from his travels across America and beyond and the audience is hanging on his every word and note. A deep, rumbling voice 30 years older than its owner fills the room and barely a word is uttered as tales of woe, of love, of laughter, heartbreak, redemption, optimism and despair take hold of each and every one of us. For little over an hour we are his, enraptured and captivated as his musical dexterity, remarkable as it is, is surpassed by the kind of lyrical deftness and intelligence that would have many a poet laureate kicking the cat in fits of jealous rage. Not just because of their cleverness and evocative imagery, but because each one is imbued with powerful emotion and meaning. Not a line or word is wasted or superfluous.

With us as his orchestra, Philippe conducts our mood and our emotions, bringing us to joy and despair as he pulls on our heartstrings with these elegant and compelling moments of blues, folk, Americana and incredible storytelling.



Broods & MØ – Notting Hill Arts Club, 05/03/2014

Broods

Our next joint gig of the year was a little less surprising to us, and those in attendance with us, as having seen Karen Marie Ørsted perform live before we knew at the least she would rock our world. The debut UK show from New Zealand siblings Broods was less of a sure thing but having played their EP to death in the run-up to the show, we were extremely optimistic. Even then, our expectations were surpassed and the double bill of and Broods makes the £5 cover seem the bargain of the year.

From our review…

The crowd sings and dances along as the duo move through the sounds of their debut EP, throwing in a Sunday morning vibed reimagining of an Empire of the Sun track along the way for good measure.

“Never Gonna Change”, “Pretty Thing” and “Coattails” are expected highlights from an all round fantastic set but the surprises come from how warm, engaging and self-depreciating the pair are. A couple of their countrymen may have expected them to be shit, but everyone in the room knows this is about as far from the case as you can get. The biggest surprise of all comes from Georgia who is revealed to be a stunning and captivating frontwoman in waiting. All eyes are on her (sorry Caleb) as she dances and sings from behind a keyboard, injecting additional passion, energy and (dare we say) sexiness into their more relaxed numbers and a touch of class and reverence when playing solo on the set closing unnamed new song.


MO

If the crowd were excited for Broods, they are bordering on combustible for Karen Marie Ørsted. A ticking timebomb of pop magnificence with the timer permanently set at 0:00, MØ explodes onto the stage and has the audience in the palm of her hand instantly. The low ceilings and tight walls help create a ridiculously frantic atmosphere as she cavorts wildly, flinging her plait viciously, a tasmanian devil of whirling intensity and sass as she pumps the crowd into a frenzy. Everywhere you look, people are dancing, jumping, smiling. At the very front of the crowd to the very back and even behind the sound desk, there is a wave of movement as we are electrified by this incredible young singer.

“XXX 88” threatens to bring the roof down upon us and as we all sing along deliriously to “Waste of Time” and “Pilgrim” there is the undeniable sense that we are witnessing something special. Even the relative calm of her Spice Girls cover (getting its live debut) has people moving and singing along. Time and again in the set she drops into the crowd to dance and sing amongst us, venturing as far as her mic chord will allow as she leads us in a chant along.

She closes her quickfire but incendiary set with latest single “Dance With Nobody”, a beautiful irony as tonight she is dancing with us all. She is also cementing her position as probably the most exciting new artist on the live circuit right now and as she leaves the stage, all smiles and sweat, we stand in a similar state wondering what the hell just hit us but desperate to do it all again.


Broods & MØ Photos: Abi Dainton

They’ll always give it to you awesome: Yumi Zouma live review. Shacklewell Arms, 5 August 2014

6 Aug

Yumi Zouma live

Summer evenings call for summer tunes and as the sun beats down on London on a Tuesday evening, there is no better place to be than a Shacklewell Arms that is playing host to Yumi Zouma. Though the heat is not as stifling as it has been in recent weeks, something cool is required and they don’t come much cooler than the much vaunted New Zealand band from the super-cool Cascine label. Yet those of us who arrive anticipating an evening of chilled out tunes that evoke feelings of relaxing by a sun-drenched lake with a cold beer in hand, are in for a surprise.

With an understated, almost shy “Hello. We’re Yumi Zouma from New Zealand. Thanks for having us”, the night is underway and immediately it’s clear that this won’t be a night to put your feet up. Live they have an unexpected and very welcome energy. The tempo of the music hasn’t changed but it feels more alive, more upbeat and full of verve. The band interchange instruments between songs, dextrously swapping positions on stage as they do so. As they bounce and bob enthusiastically on stage, the crowd does the same, roaring their approval as each track draws to a close and enthusiastically awaiting the next.

Having fulfilled her early set guitar duties, lead vocalist Kim is freed to sashay and sway, imbuing the music with a hitherto unnoticed but very welcome sexiness. Those audience members with no prior knowledge of the band are immediately drawn in and taken on a journey, those who have already played the EP to death smile and nod as they join us in a musical nirvana. Though, with only four tracks released thus far, a good 50% of the set is new to practically everyone yet all of it feels familiar and welcoming. To a song Yumi Zouma’s new music is sounding great and, minor technical mishaps aside, they are putting on a storming set that is being loved by all.

The evening closes with the triumvirate of “The Brae”, “Riquelme” and “Sålka Gets Her Hopes Up”, the crowd cries out its appreciation and the band are gone, out through the crowd ready for the next step on their current international jet-setting tour. All that is left is a group of 100 or so very happy attendees and two extremely proud parents manning the merch stand. They have every right to be, their kids have had a lot of hype recently and they are more than living up to it.

Photo Credit: Elsie


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