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Live Reviews

Seasick Steve

Norwich Arts Centre

Wednesday 21st July 2021

Seasick Steve Norwich Arts Centre

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SEASICK STEVE – NORWICH ARTS CENTRE – LIVE REVIEW

It has been a devastating 16 months for humanity. Every country, every community and every industry has suffered profound and unprecedented loss. The fact remains that we are far from free, the p word is still ongoing and we must be careful.

There is however hope, just a glimmer that some form of normality or dare we say a “new normal” could be possible. The music industry has been decimated over the past year or so, but it is the music industry now that is offering us hope.

We recently attended the Download Pilot Festival and saw a preview of how live music can return. There was testing involved, masks in certain situations, extra sanitisation and a sense of community that only live music brings.

Read our review of Download Pilot Festival

Now it is time to head indoors again. The Music Venue Trust has always done an incredible job, but that has been amplified by the events of the last year or so. The organisation has now teamed up with The National Lottery to help to #ReviveLive.

They aim to help the return of music fans to music venues across the country and ticket holders can bring a Lottery playing friend in for free. Tonight feels special for so many reasons. The first gig back would always be special but by putting an act the size of Seasick Steve into the intimate surrounds of the beautiful Norwich Arts Centre only ramps the feeling right up!

Entry is smooth, fans have been encouraged to take Lateral Flow tests, there is hand sanitizer aplenty and masks are encouraged in certain areas. Attendees are respectful of each other and of the significance of the evening.

Read our review of ‘Lo! Soul’ from Roddy Woomble

The atmosphere truly is special, and it is a special talent here to entertain us. With no support, Seasick Steve and his trusted companion on drums enter the stage at half past eight just after an emotional welcome from the venue director.

Seasick Steve is a captivating artist at the best of times, but tonight he truly has the audience in the palm of his hand. Despite lingering fears of being part of a gathering and despite the intense heat inside the venue, there is nowhere else you’d want to be.

Fans are regaled with tales of Steve’s life and serenaded with his signature blues numbers. The likes of ‘Roy’s Gang’, ‘Walkin’ Man’, ‘Barracuda ’68’ and ‘Dark’ are highlights before Seasick Steve sends fans home with ‘Thunderbird’ after nearly two beautiful hours.

It’s an incredible feeling to be able to head out into the night, sweaty and reminiscing on a stunning evening of music once again. It’s an experience that has been missing for too long, but it is back.

There are a plethora of dates and artists performing this series of MVT shows. Do yourself and your local venue a favour, grab a ticket, take a test and enjoy the return of live music!

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Live Reviews

Download Pilot Festival 2021

Donington Park

Friday 18th – Sunday 20th June 2021

Download Pilot Festival Poster

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DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL 2021 – LIVE REVIEW

The live music industry is built on togetherness, built on shared experience and built on the power of emotion. The last 18 months have been highly emotional for all the wrong reasons. Together the world has shared an experience that has terrified and devastated us.

The events of the last 18 months have taken an incomprehensible toll on humanity. The pandemic has destroyed lives and livelihoods. The live music industry was obliterated overnight. The people that make the spectacles that we enjoy happen were forgotten about.

While the world attempts to peek through the curtains at a “new normal”, the live music industry is left waiting. Waiting for support, waiting for proper guidance, waiting for a chance. Well, just four weeks ago that chance arrived.

A Government trial event to test the viability of the return of packed festivals and events you say? Spring into action the incredible people behind the scenes who make the live music industry work! In a short period of time, heaven and earth have been moved and here we are at Download Festival.

A much smaller, makeshift, Pilot version of Download Festival at the hallowed grounds of Donington Park. 10,000 people in a field, no social distancing, no masks, no inhibitions.

Credit goes to all involved for creating an event of that scale on such short notice, and to all the acts playing with no preparation. As the gates open, one thing is for sure, the fans want this, no, the fans needs this.

The reality of the situation is that the organisers could have put an old man playing the spoons on stage and the fans would have lapped it up. The opportunity after all that everybody has been through to witness live music is cathartic.

DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL – FRIDAY

The fact that this may be the most exciting Download Festival line-up of all time only helps to amplify the anticipation as fans gather in the tented second stage for Death Blooms. Almost every person on site crams in to witness that first taste of live music in far too long.

The band make the most of the atmosphere with a storming set that sees the audience let go of all remaining inhibitions. I doubt the majority of those in the tent knew of the band in advance, but they certainly left with a memory that will last forever.

For this special event there are just two stages. Next to the tent is the outdoor main stage which opens with a raucous set from Hot Milk. Kicking off with their latest single ‘I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I’m Dead’ the band show the crowd just what they’ve been missing.

Listen to ‘I Just Wanna Know What Happens When I’m Dead’ from Hot Milk on our Spotify Hot List!

There is no need to worry about those dreaded clashes at Download Pilot Festival. That’s because the acts on the two stages alternate, allowing the music starved fans the opportunity to watch every single band if they so wish to.

Every band this weekend gets a good sized crowd and a warm reception with it, especially the early bands on Friday. Malevolence are next to grace the second stage and assist the audience in releasing their pent up energy with a heavy hitting set.

A repercussion of the pandemic has been the amazing new albums that have been released without the showcase of the live setting. One such album is ‘Glue’ from Boston Manor. That wrong is righted next however as the band storm the main stage and air the likes of ‘Everything Is Ordinary’.

An early standout performance from the band sees them mix new and old with ‘England’s Dreaming’, ‘Laika’ and ‘Halo’ eliciting some of the first full blown sing-a-long moments of the weekend.

Those sing-a-long moments continue with Holding Absence on the second stage as they get to unleash tracks from their sensational album ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’. ‘Afterlife’ in particular is a contender for song of the weekend as the band present their credentials for superstardom!

Read our review of ‘The Greatest Mistake of My Life’ from Holding Absence

The Friday action continues with two bands with extremely dedicated fanbases. Neck Deep get the main stage bouncing before Sleep Token captivate the second stage.

It is then down to Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes to bring the first day to a close on the main stage. Always an unstoppable force of nature on stage, the band make the most of the platform to make a statement. That statement says that this band is ready to headline the regular event.

With a setlist spanning their three albums, the band even treat fans to a selection of new tracks including the catchy ‘My Town’. There are guest appearances from Joe Talbot, Cassyette and Lynks, there is a giant circle pit around the sound tower and there is even a cover of ‘Ace of Spades’.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes saw an opportunity to headline a festival, to headline the first festival back, and they grabbed it with both hands. This was one of those sets that will be talked about forevermore!

Listen to ‘My Town’ from Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes on our Spotify Hot List!

After hours entertainment comes from a silent disco as the hastily arranged festival shows the skills and creativity of the music industry. You have to stand back and admire the achievement of those involved to create an event on this scale in the time given.

DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL – SATURDAY

On to Saturday now and the musical delights continue as Lotus Eater, Conjurer, As Everything Unfolds and Bleed From Within blow the cobwebs of the early morning audience.

Next two young bands with big futures introduce themselves to festival audiences. Both The Hara on the second stage and Wargasm on the main stage elicit strong reactions from those watching.

Listen to ‘Your Patron Saints’ from Wargasm on our Spotify Hot List!

After a solid showing from Tigercub, one of the veteran acts of the weekend, A, school the up and coming bands on how to engage an audience. An age appropriate walking circle pit being a nice change of pace in the midst of a hectic weekend. Finishing with ‘Nothing’, A show why they are the perfect festival band.

Two things become apparent as the weekend progresses. When dissecting the hastily put together line-up, the quality of British rock music is put in the spotlight and it more than holds its own. Secondly a good deal of that talent is female. Vukovi and Yonaka both deliver set of the weekend contenders next.

Listen to ‘Seize the Power’ from Yonaka on our Spotify Hot List!

Those Damn Crows, Twin Atlantic and Stone Broken all put in crowd pleasing performances before While She Sleeps attract and entertain a huge crowd on the main stage.

Soon though it’s time for the scorecard for band of the weekend to be thrown out the window. Creeper are able to deliver an out of body experience as they headline the second stage. There are goosebump raising moments galore as the band turn the festival into their own theatre of oral and visual magnificence.

Listen to ‘Midnight’ from Creeper on our Spotify Hot List!

It is then left to Enter Shikari to bring the Saturday night party and they don’t disappoint. If there was ever a band born to get you moving it’s Enter Shikari. They do just that as they also get to showcase newer songs live for the first time.

‘satellites**’, ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’ and ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ fit in perfectly with classics like ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’, ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Mothership’. Much like Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Creeper, you can see the special treatment Enter Shikari have given this opportunity and that makes for a stunning spectacle.

DOWNLOAD PILOT FESTIVAL – SUNDAY

Come Sunday you’d imagine fatigue would be setting in. All this action after so many barren months, you could forgive the crowd for tiring and the festival atmosphere sapping. Instead energy is pumped in by bands such as Static Dress, Saint Agnes, Cassyette and Employed To Serve.

The fans reciprocate said energy as they continue to let loose to Chubby and the Gang, Loathe and Higher Power. The passion and pure joy of both fans and musicians to be at a festival is at times overwhelming. This event was destined to be an emotive affair but even through that emotion the quality of the music on offer shines.

Next on the main stage is Lonely The Brave complete with change in singer. A set mixed with fan favourites and new tracks from ‘The Hope List’ shows the band are still an exciting prospect. Can the band now finally take that next step? On their showing here, yes they can!

Read our review of ‘The Hope List’ from Lonely The Brave

For those fans catching every band the pace is relentless and it’s to the second stage next for Jamie Lenman. Lenman powers through a sublime set that gets the crowd moving and features another appearance from Wargasm.

The quirky goodness of Elvana attracts a huge crowd to the main stage as the festival heads towards its climax. The band show just why they are perhaps the perfect Sunday afternoon festival act as they get the crowd singing along to every word.

Massive Wagons are able to take the second stage by storm before a sadly technically challenged The Wildhearts limp off stage. The Wildhearts are a top quality band and the issues with their sound perhaps show the effects of an enforced hiatus for musicians and crew members alike.

It’s on that note that once again praise must be heaped on the organisers, the crew members, the festival staff and yes the bands for making this event such a success. That is only amplified by the incredibly short timescale.

Realistically this has been a once in a lifetime event (we hope). Download Pilot Festival as an event is excellent and would be a great addition to the main Download Festival. It’s the atmosphere and camaraderie however that makes this festival so special.

We are down then to the final four bands, the final acts before reality is set to strike again. Up first on the second stage are Trash Boat who get the tent bouncing, especially with a stunning cover of Linkin Park classic ‘Given Up’.

If there is a perfect festival band it’s Skindred. Put them on any stage in any slot and they will attract a huge crowd. With a sub-headline slot on the main stage, the field is full as Benji Webbe and co put in a seamless lesson in crowd engagement.

The final act on the second stage is also no stranger to the festival scene. Although Frank Turner has played Download Festival in the past, even he acknowledges he may not be the typical Download act. Nobody cares though, as he puts in a typically euphoric performance.

The crowd are not just treated to the set staples but also to new song ‘The Gathering’ and heavier version of ‘Little Changes’. There are sing-a-longs aplenty as Turner does what he does best and that is entertain!

Check out The Full Pelt Music Podcast with guest Frank Turner!

That just leaves Bullet For My Valentine to close out Download Pilot Festival. A festival which we wish was never needed but are so glad that it happened. Bullet For My Valentine are long time Download favourites and they deliver an apt conclusion to the event.

We are treated to a unique take on ‘Run To The Hills’ from Iron Maiden complete with a perplexing vocal contribution fron Benji Webbe. We get new material in the form of ‘Knives’ and of course we get favourites such as ‘Scream Aim Fire’ and ‘Tears Don’t Fall’.

‘Waking The Demon’ is the final song to ring around Donington Park, and we can only hope and pray that this event can wake the demon that is the festival scene. The fans may have been lab rats, but what a stunning lab it was! Thank you Download Pilot Festival for such a cathartic weekend.

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Read our review of ‘Bodies’ from AFI

Categories
Live Reviews

Beans On Toast

Sunday 22nd November 2020 Livestream

Livestreams have become a staple of the coronavirus pandemic for passionate music fans. COVID-19 has a lot to answer for and for some the rise of the livestream is a negative, for others however it has been a small light in the darkness. Enough about that for now however, as you can expect a full blog on the subject shortly.

There have been two types of livestream – firstly, the basic home-based setup that has seen a large uptake from individuals with acoustic guitars. However, with this setup not conducive of a full band, we have more recently seen a swathe of full band streams from inside actual venues. Tonight is the first, one man, an acoustic guitar and a plethora of items for sale!

That man is Jay McAllister, known professionally as Beans On Toast. This is a gentleman who has amassed a cult following from years of relentless touring, and it’s clear that this whole situation is uncomfortable for him. That’s not that say that he isn’t thoroughly entertaining, and ultimately the evening is free and the audience don’t even have to leave their homes!

As unusual as the show must be for the artist, it’s also a different experience for the audience. With Facebook Live however there is a live chat which makes the experience more engaging. You feel you are part of a moment, as opposed to simply watching an old video on Youtube. Plus, like I said, it’s free! But that’s not to say that Beans On Toast isn’t hoping to make a living.

With not one but two new albums out shortly, there are plugs galore for both albums and their associated merchandise. We even get his wife modelling the new clothing items for sale. As cringe worthy as that may sound, it actually adds to the quaintness and intimacy of the evening.

Musically Beans On Toast treats those listening to a good mix of old and new. We get old favourites like ‘I’m Home When You Hold Me’, ‘Watching The World Go By’ and ‘Things’ interspersed between new tracks from across his two new albums. The story of the two new albums is that every year on his birthday we get a new Beans On Toast album. This year that album is ‘Knee Deep In Nostalgia’ produced by the one and only Frank Turner.

With yearly albums, Bean On Toast is very topical in his lyrical content. With these tracks mostly written prior to the world turning upside down however, a locked down Beans On Toast sat and wrote some topical tunes. The outcome is a second album of songs inspired by 2020, ‘The Unforeseeable Future’.

A number of tracks from both albums have already been released as singles and already the likes of ‘The Village Disco’ and ‘Album Of The Day’ feel like classic Beans On Toast songs. Tonight we get to hear ‘My Favourite Teacher’ and ‘Patience?’ as the festivities come towards a close.

All in all, tonight will only have solidified fans opinions that these two albums threaten to be two of Beans On Toast’s best yet. An “encore” of ‘On And On’ closes the evening at around half past nine just in time for fans to chill out before bed – one of the big positives of a livestream!

Of course I want real live music back as soon as safely possible, but in the mean time livestreams provide the escape sought from reality. As discussed in my recent blog ‘Mental Health, Music and Me’, music is an escape; and those looking for an escape could do worse than the two new Beans On Toast albums!