Live Reviews


Upcote Farm

10th-13th July 2024

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2000trees 2024 – festival review
📸Jez Pennington

To be established means “having existed or done something for a long time and therefore recognized and generally accepted”. The 2000trees name means something, to fans it means an unrivalled weekend of thrills in a chilled environment, and to musicians it’s a proving ground, a platform for new artists to shine, but also a place to reinvent yourself or test new waters in a safe place. Trees is established as a trusted sanctum for all music lovers, everyone is welcome and good times are guaranteed.

Those who have chosen to arrive at Upcote Farm near Cheltenham early are treated to what is actually becoming the highlight of the event – a special evening in the trees. Yes, Wednesdays belong to the magical Forest stage and this year the line-up is incredible. A mixture of new acts and returning heroes, the bill reflects perfectly what this festival is all about.


With the forest stage alternating with the tiny Word stage today there is plenty of music on offer. At the Word stage alone we are able to catch great sets from KITE THIEF, CARSICK, Enola Gay and Frozemode.

📸 Carla Mundy

But truly it’s within the woods that this festival reaches mythical status. To see a band like Exit Child able to enthral the earliest of attendees with their impassioned grunge, and then have the always uplifting PET NEEDS orchestrate an excitable crowd through a joyous tone setting show before Lambrini Girls galvanise the masses into a united movement all in the space of the first couple of hours just emphasises the beauty of 2000trees.

The audience are all in this together, they believe and demonstrate the ethos of kindness and acceptance which is what makes the event so welcoming.

📸 Carla Mundy

The first of two outstanding Dead Pony sets this weekend soon leads us into the business end of night one. 2000trees royalty The Xcerts understand the assignment and pull out a memorable run through of their third album, ‘There Is Only You’ to celebrate the records 10th anniversary, which is eaten up by the crowd.

It’s around this time that the looming shadow of England vs Netherlands in the Euros takes over the festival. Despite initial reluctance to show the match out of respect to the bands, organisers end up screening the game over at The Axiom. Most impacted are Dream State, who lean into the prospect by showing the football on a TV on the stage, donning football shirts and providing fans with a goal and balls to play with as they belt out the likes of ‘White Lies’ and ‘Chin Up Princess’.

Thankfully Ollie Watkins saves us from the drama of extra time which means that headliners Boston Manor get the full attention of the crowd. Another band performing twice this weekend, they use this set to play early favourites ‘Burn You Up’, ‘Lead Feet’ and ‘Laika’ in a set which is an early contender for set of the weekend.

📸 Jez Pennington

Even when the main entertainment stops however 2000trees is best known for it’s late night activities. A legendary silent disco attracts the majority, but we head next into the camps and one of the busking stages at Camp Turner. There we catch acoustic sets from InMe frontman Dave McPherson and those scamps in PET NEEDS who manage to get mosh pits and crowd surfers in the campsite!

📸 Carla Mundy

Whether in the general campsite, the family area or the VIP section, fans wake up the next morning to the relief of warm weather! It’s rained persistently in the days leading up to the event, but the ground has held up well. The music is in full flow again from half past ten as relative locals Blank Atlas deliver a great little set on the Neu stage.

The diverse and social conscious line-up at 2000trees builds on the welcoming atmosphere and Thursday morning sees the likes of The Menstrual Cramps, Cherym, Shooting Daggers and The Oozes engaging their passionate crowds.

The structuring of the stages and times means that if you’re that way inclined you can catch non-stop music from early morning until the wee early hours. Us being somewhat inclined to support new music we dash around witnessing more superb performances from Meryl Streek, Dead Pony (again) and Enola Gay (again!).

📸 Jez Pennington

We then head back into the Forest where throughout the main days of the festival you can still see a mix of full band shows, acoustic sets and other unique offerings. We are here however for the always enjoyable Sean McGowan who plays a short sharp set of fan favourites.

2000trees is often at its finest on the smaller stages, but the main stage delivers one of the best barometers for the success of acts. Cassyette is next to grace this stage and showcase why she is steadily moving up bills such as this. A thoroughly captivating blitz of energy, you’d imagine Cassyette will be back soon in an even more prominent position.

📸 Joe Singh

It’s over at the Axiom soon thereafter that one of those magical moments is taking place with Spanish Love Songs attracting a crowd funnelling out of the confines of the large tent. That’s before Kids In Glass Houses then continue their triumphant return back on the main stage, with both bands eliciting some of those beautiful sing-a-long festival moments.

As do Boston Manor as they again prove themselves to be one of the bands of the weekend and an act ready for superstardom as they pack out the Axiom for their second set of the weekend. Manchester Orchestra deliver a charming performance next on the main stage, but clearly many of the uninitiated in the crowd are left a little underwhelmed.

We then finish day two with The Pale White in the Neu tent and The Gaslight Anthem on the main stage. Both bands allow their music to do the talking as they bring the first full day to a close. The Gaslight Anthem in particular are something of a dream booking for the festival, and they don’t disappoint.

📸 Joe Singh

The festival is in full flow now, with the weather slightly cooler come Friday, fans are ready for another busy day. It’s up to the brilliant BEX to wake the campers up, which she does to great effect with the likes of ‘Fight’ and ‘sunDae’.

📸 Gareth Bull

If you want to watch as much music as possible, you need stamina or an easy to navigate site layout, and as we catch great sets from Mouth Culture, Sløtface and Problem Patterns, we’re very grateful for the simple site layout!

VIP ticket holders at 2000trees have their own campsite, bar and viewing platform and we catch The Rumjacks main stage set from said platform next. The band are entertaining, and the platform gives a nice view of the crowd getting into the party spirit!

In fairness though that party spirit is evident throughout each day and each performance. Tropic Gold get their crowd moving in the Axiom before As December Falls solidify their reputation as a live act over on the main stage. It’s great to see even smaller acts like Other Half in the Neu tent are given the same energy they produce from a crowd not showing any signs of fatigue.

The standard of performance across the weekend is high, with no set standing out as particularly bad. Perhaps that’s because we chose correctly when looking at those dreaded clashes, but you feel that the bands take 2000trees seriously. They know the rewards of a top tier show and they put in the effort that the crowd demands.

📸 Carla Mundy

Two standout performances transpire next however as first unpeople in the Cave tent and then Nova Twins on the main stage put in epically memorable performances. unpeople come from the ashes of Press To MECO and the power of the riff remains at full strength as they get the crowd fully locked in. Equally Nova Twins ooze star power as they take ownership of the main stage crowd. If you had to pencil in a band as a potential future headliner then either of these would be good bets!

📸 Carla Mundy

Bears In Trees represent a change in pace as their pop sensibilities feel like a refreshing change of pace next in the Axiom tent. Clearly the audience feel the same and many comment on their way out how impressed they were with another band with a huge upside.

📸 Jez Pennington

The undercurrent of 2000trees has always been young British rock acts, but the organisers do sprinkle the line-up with some international flair such as headliners The Gaslight Anthem and The Chats. Up next though is grandson on the main stage who brings an element of star power himself. Many in the audience are here to see what the fuss is about, and grandson delivers a good showing which has generally positive results, albeit with a few unimpressed faces remaining.

📸 Joe Singh

The festival gets a rebrand next as Bob Vylan return for consecutive years with a sub-headline spot on the main stage. The duo rename the festival Vylanfest and state that they’ll be back next year to headline. Truth be told, they probably could’ve done so this year as the crowd take their antics to another level.

A mixture of new tracks from recent album, ‘Humble As The Sun’ and favourites such as ‘We Live Here’ and ‘Pretty Songs’ make up a thoroughly enjoyable time. Bob Vylan are one of the best live acts in the UK at present and we’d certainly put money on them following through on their headline promise!

We finish out our Friday with Hot Milk headlining the Axiom and Empire State Bastard headlining the Cave. Hot Milk have just returned from playing stadiums across the world and make a clear effort to make their headline slot special. Again, you’d be happy seeing their performance close the main stage.

Empire State Bastard on the other hand have no bells and whistles, the group fronted by Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil and powered from behind the drum kit by Dave Lombardo destroy the Cave, causing a sonic onslaught that can only be described as magnificent. A different way to end our night compared to The Gaslight Anthem and Don Broco who will close the event, but that’s what makes 2000trees so special.

📸 Joe Singh

Campers awaken on the final day to the pitter patter of rain on their tents, and the threat of the damp stuff maintains throughout a chillier day, however thankfully the heavens never fully open.

Split Chain are our first watch today and the band who are popping up a lot lately showcase a grunge/nu-metal crossover which explains why they are a good option for an opening act. The Meffs then blow off any cobwebs on the main stage with a blistering set of punk rockers, before the poppier angst of snake eyes thrills the Axiom crowd.

📸Abbi Draper

We then head into the Forest for one last time this year. Firstly, to catch the newly formed Interlaker featuring David Jakes of Lonely the Brave and Jack Wrench of Arcane Roots. The Forest is full as knowledgeable music fans catch a glimpse of this new project. Although only a short glimpse, what is seen is more than enough to whet the appetite for what’s to come!

Next Frank Turner takes part in a live podcast Q&A and acoustic set with the Mark and Me Podcast. Moments like this are more proof of what makes 2000trees different from your standard festival.

📸 Gareth Bull

It’s then a bit of a dash to the main stage for a second The Xcerts performance of the weekend, this time more of a standard hits affair including a surprise cameo from Josh Franceschi of You Me At Six – just one of a few special guests on show this weekend.

The Nightmares in the Neu tent and The Mysterines on the main stage then both make the most of their short times on stage before we catch House of Women and Cleopatrick on the same stages although from afar as we gather any remaining stamina for the incredible run of music set to follow.

We close out our weekend with Frank Turner bringing a headline worthy show to the main stage with new album, ‘Undefeated’, standing tall alongside favourites such as ‘I Still Believe’ and ‘Four Simple Words’.

📸 Gareth Bull

Creeper are then immediately ready to deliver their own headline performance in the Axiom tent. The crowd starting off up to fifteen deep outside of the confines of the tent! What Creeper then proceed to do is simply outstanding. For a band to use their headline set to open with a ten-minute rock opera and to then play almost exclusively all new material is quite incredible. Any other band would be murdered, but not Creeper.

No, the packed tent love every single moment of the set and the time simply flies by with highlights like ‘Sacred Blasphemy’ and ‘Misery’ eliciting some of those mass sing-a-long moments. A finale of ‘Cry To Heaven’ is truly awe-inspiring and again, if we are tagging bands for future main stage headline slots, then surely Creeper must be labelled as oven-ready!

📸 Jez Pennington

The big finale for us this year is a Don Broco currently out of the limelight writing their next record. Coming out of hibernation for this show, they deliver a tailor made headline performance which is up there with the best the festival will have ever seen. The band bring some of those bells and whistles but it’s their party anthems that do the talking this evening.

Over the three nights we’ve seen three completely different headline shows, and upwards of sixty acts giving it everything on stage. Some rest will now be required but with that said, you still don’t feel like you’ve been in a battle, which big festivals can sometimes become. That again is a testament to the magic of 2000trees.

Much is said of the atmosphere here (including by us in this review!), but the number of bands saying it’s their favourite festival is telling. That’s because most fans are here for the music. You can see this with the packed tents before midday and those still seeking live music gone midnight. It’s as much the people that establish 2000trees as what it is than anything else, and long may it continue to be the best festival in the UK!

📸 Jez Pennington

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Live Reviews

Download Festival

Donington Park

14th to 16th June 2024

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Oh, the difference a year makes! Last year the sun shone down on the bumper twentieth anniversary edition of Download Festival. Pretty much every person in attendance last year would say that it was simply too hot. Of course, this year then had to do a complete 180 and instead of a desperate search for water to quench our thirst, this year there is far too much of it – and sadly we aren’t talking about new headline sponsor Liquid Death!

No, months of rain in the UK left the festival grounds at Donington Park ill prepared for the downpours that would arrive over the first few days of the festival. The ground conditions quickly becoming treacherous and a weekend of hard slog, delays, cancellations, rejigs and almost every problem imaginable ensues.

There is a real risk that this year’s edition of Download will be remembered for the mud and for the protests that led to Barclays stepping back as a sponsor of the event. This is unfortunate as really the event should be remembered for a progressive line-up that leads the event into the next generation.

After an overreliance of guaranteed ticket shifters, Bring Me The Horizon’s dominant performance last year appears to have opened the door to new headliners (not that Queens of the Stone Age or Fall Out Boy are actually new!), and fresher overall line-ups.

The balance this year between old favourites (Machine Head, Bowling For Soup, Black Stone Cherry), fresh big hitters (Fall Out Boy, Royal Blood, Queens of the Stone Age) and future contenders (Creeper, Enter Shikari, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes), is spot on. There is something here for rock and metal fans of all ages and that is going to be key to the longevity of the festival.


So let us walk through some of the best sets of the weekend, starting Friday on the main stage as a more classic rock feel welcomes early attendees. The Blue Stones open the festival with a solid performance before Those Damn Crows show just how far they’ve come with a top-level set.

The clash-gods haven’t been kind to us this year and many sacrifices must be made, however we are able to catch the superb Mouth Culture make their mark on the Dogtooth stage next.

It’s then back to the main stage as The Struts continue to show why over the top sing-along rock n roll will never go out of fashion. Frontman Luke Spiller has the crowd in the palm of his hand and not even the continuing rain can dampen the spirits of a crowd belting out ‘Could Have Been Me’.

Black Stone Cherry are regular visitors to Donington Park, but today marks their first appearance in some six years. Clearly the fans have missed them, and the band make sure that they make the most of their time on stage. Fan favourites and a couple from latest album, ‘Screaming at the Sky’ has the field rocking hard and attendees won’t have to wait long to catch the band again with a headline tour on its way!

Sticking with the main stage, the booking of Royal Blood as sub-headliners is another sign of a more modern focus for the festival. Technical issues however disrupt the momentum of the performance and metaphorically dampen the mood in the already damp crowd. That said when the duo can fully unleash their power, a realisation appears to hit even the staunchest doubters of their Download credentials.

And speaking of Download credentials… Busted! Even five years ago the thought of the band playing these hallowed grounds would have sent the old school punters into a frenzy. How dare they bring their deplorable pop rubbish to our prestigious and very serious metal festival!!!!!

Well, thankfully the mentally that saw My Chemical Romance bottled off stage in 2007 is almost gone (just don’t look at the Facebook comments on the Busted announcement!). Headlining the Avalanche stage, the crowd is deep outside the tent as fans try to catch a glimpse of the trio. Before we head back to the main stage for our headliners, we get to witness the glorious sight of even the most hardened rockers partying along to the likes of ‘Air Hostess’ and ‘MMMBop’!

There is a different kind of party on the main stage however as Queens of the Stone Age are belatedly given top-billing at the UK’s premier rock festival. Josh Homme is clearly high on the atmosphere (amongst other things), and the band deliver a stunning performance chronicling their incredible career. Naturally it’s ‘No One Knows’ that enters the face for sing-along moment of the weekend, but the likes of ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ and ‘I Sat by the Ocean’ are glorious tonight.


On to Saturday now and a fair few in attendance may be nursing hangovers this morning (especially the poor Scots after their Euro’s humbling), but as always Download has the cure. After a slight delay the venue fills again ready for another day of music with a point to prove.

That starts immediately with Bambie Thug who opens the mainstage with another set which probably wouldn’t have been greeted as well a decade ago. Bambie Thug however manages to mesmerise and captivate the early crowd with a truly powerful performance of The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ acting as a stance against ongoing atrocities across the world. Whilst the work of others helped to change the position of Barclays, the statement made here by Bambie Thug is something that will last long in the conscience of attendees.

The levels of energy and passion continue throughout sets from WARGASM on the main stage and KNIFE BRIDE and ALT BLK ERA on the Dogtooth stage. Then it’s time to change pace with The Hunna (another fresh booking) taking to the main stage. The group clearly appreciate the opportunity and make a great impression during their relatively short time on stage.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are up next and whilst the anger and ferocity of their stage presence may have balanced out, the elevation in showmanship and passion ensures that the group remain one of the best live acts in town. Their main stage set this weekend is sublime and you’d expect Carter and co to help lead this festival into the future.

They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice… well, what about torrential downpours? In scenes eerily reminiscent of their main stage slot in 2016, BABYMETAL have their set almost completely destroyed by a biblical shower which also destroys what is left of the arena grounds. During their short time onstage BABYMETAL are fantastic, but unfortunately, they may be seen as cursed when booked on the main stage!

The weather from here on out just can’t make its mind up with a mixture of sun and rain, but that eclectic mix is perhaps fitting for Enter Shikari who present their unique smorgasbord of sound next on the main stage. The group have grown up with the festival so it’s nice to finally see them in a prominent slot on this stage. The opportunity is seized with both hands and Shikari prove why they also must be considered amongst the best live acts on the circuit.

Sticking again to the main stage, The Offspring deliver a headline worthy performance next which even includes an encore much to the chagrin of festival etiquette experts. The band however carry themselves as headliners and they of course have bangers for days as they say. After the punishing weather, it’s great to see the audience finally unleash and dance their way through this wonderfully fun set.

A quick sojourn to the Dogtooth stage for a short but sweet Cassyette performance then leads us to the big Saturday headline slot which this year is taken on by Fall Out Boy. Another example of a band perhaps criminally underfeatured at this event in the past due to not having the perceived heaviness required by the gatekeepers of yesteryear.

The band however are ready to make up for lost time as they produce a memorable one-off set akin to the ‘Eras’ show from a certain Taylor Swift. And whilst it’s unlikely the festival will ever welcome the army of swifties; it’s refreshing to see the positive reception received by Fall Out Boy. From somebody that witnessed the My Chemical Romance hostilities, it’s another positive indictment that the future of the festival is looking bright.


The Sunday at a major festival like this is always a tough one, with everyone tired and already over-stimulated. It takes something memorable to kickstart proceedings and after lengthy delays in setting up the arena, it’s Code Orange that truly get things going today with a set that ends in the band smashing up the stage after going over time.

You can understand their frustration however with the times of bands changing at short notice due to the supposed actions required to get the arena ready for the fans. It must be said though that when we do finally enter, it’s hairy still without much action being obvious at least!

The changes in times frustrate some, but for us the movements mean that we can catch both Creeper on the main stage and Royal Republic over on the second stage. Two incredible live acts, Creeper are up first and showcase in just thirty minutes what they could look like as future headliners. An all-out show accompanies some fantastic music and indeed, you have to hope that Creeper are given an opportunity further up the bill next time around.

As for Royal Republic, you know what you are getting – a highly enjoyable live act who will always bring the party. That’s exactly what they do today as they showcase their superb new album, ‘LoveCop’.

Much hype surrounded the mysterious secret set at Download this year, those battling their way into the Dogtooth are treated to a Parkway Drive performance, we however avoid the crush and instead sing-along to some pop-punk favourites as Zebrahead and Bowling For Soup serenade their crowds.

In fact, we are certainly in the sing-along portion of the weekend as the main stage welcomes two iconic bands from the new millennium. Firstly Sum 41, who are embarking on a final tour as they bring the sun down on their career. The band get a big crowd who send them on their way by singing each song right back at them with the final run of ‘In Too Deep’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Fat Lip’ and ‘Still Waiting’ particularly loud!

Loud is also a great way to describe Limp Bizkit who are up next. The band are like a fine wine and just keep getting better, with Fred Durst able to orchestrate the crowd as only he can. A double dose of ‘Break Stuff’ sums up the vibes of the set, which for many is the perfect way to close out the festival.

For others there is still a choice between Machine Head, The Used, The Black Dahlia Murder or Avenged Sevenfold to be that final performance of another wet but glorious weekend. For us we follow the theme of the weekend and position ourselves at the main stage.

Avenged Sevenfold are headlining the event for the third time, and this time they have a rather polarising new album to play. The weather, the other options and that ambivalence towards ‘Life Is But a Dream…’, means the crowd is a little on the thin side, but those in attendance make up for those missing.

Some of the new songs do flatten the atmosphere but when the band bang out the likes of ‘Afterlife’, ‘Hail To The King’, ‘Bat Country’ and ‘Nightmare’ there is no better way to finish the weekend.

As we said at the start, there is a real risk that this weekend will be remembered for different reasons, but for us the takeaway is that the event is finally looking towards the future. It’s refreshing to see the real-life reactions to some of the online contentious bookings and that helps point that the future of Download is a positive one.

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Live Reviews

Slam Dunk Festival

Hatfield Park

Saturday 25th May 2024

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In the event programme You Me At Six frontman Josh Franceschi talks about the bands affinity with Slam Dunk Festival and the aptness that the festival acts as their final UK Festival appearance. Indeed it is fitting, but as well as looking back at the twenty year career of our headliners, it also puts into perspective the journey that the festival itself has been on.

Starting out as a single day event in Leeds back in 2006, You Me At Six first appeared in 2007 as the festival made Leeds University its home. The indoor university campus set-up expanded to include Hatfield in 2010 and would eventually take in a third day in the Midlands between 2013 and 2018 when the Hatfield event first moved outside to Hatfield Park.

Since then the event has become the two day fully outdoor event that has become something of a monster. The now traditional festival season opener has flown high, but last year a little like the story of Icarus, the event flew a little too close to the sun. As the events welcomed their biggest ever crowds, the infrastructure buckled under the strain and the festival was forced to acknowledge their failings with promises of lessons learnt this year.

Funnily enough the parallels to You Me At Six could be applied here as well, as again Franceschi admits within the programme notes that the band previously tried too hard to achieve success, made mistakes and needed to re-evaluate and return to their roots. For both the band and the festival, this approach has paid off, because from first arrival to departure this year at Hatfield goes off without an organisational hitch (although as we type this, Leeds has already run into problems!).

Slam Dunk has always been a festival where the music is at the forefront and we dive straight into festival season at the ‘GoPro’ stage with As Everything Unfolds smashing through a brilliant set as the sun shines down. ‘Ultraviolet’ rightly dominates the setlist and it’s clear that the band have something special. As we bid farewell to a regular headliner tonight, if organisers are pondering the headliners of the future then they may well wish to keep an eye on this band!

There are just the five stages this year as the festival scales back somewhat in order to refocus on the original spirit of the event. The site is more spread out this year which helps with people traffic flow and we take a stroll to the ‘Monster’ stage for a glimpse of old school punk favourites Snuff and to the ‘Kerrang’ stage for a beginnings of upstarts Honey Revenge. This is a great example of the dichotomy on offer under the genre-umbrella of the event.

The main stage will capture most of our attention today however and another band with a big future, As December Falls, pull a big and heavily engaged crowd to the stage early on. With their latest effort ‘Join the Club’ also glowing today, the future of this event does appear to be in safe hands!

Young and fresh artists have always featured prominently at Slam Dunk, but so have blasts from the past and the organisers have always had a knack of pulling out rare UK appearances from groups. Head Automatica are the first such act today, although they suffer a few technical hitches which takes the shine off of their set. That said, ‘Beating Heart Baby’ still elicits one of the biggest sing-a-longs of the day.

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The ‘Key Club’ stage is positioned a tad too close to the ‘Monster’ stage which does cause some sound bleed at times. Good luck to anyone out-noising Pennsylvanian hardcore breakthrough group One Step Closer. The group come out and smash through their set with controlled ferocity, leaving those present in little doubt that they are amongst the very best new bands on the circuit.

Meanwhile the technical gremlins continue to plague the main stage as We The Kings have their set cut down to just five songs, although that does include another huge sing-a-long for ‘Check Yes Juliet’.

As well as rarities, returns also feature prominently this year although oddly two of the biggest clash (but it wouldn’t be Slam Dunk without the clashes!). The Blackout perform seminal album, ‘The Best in Town’ in full over on the ‘GoPro’ stage and pull quite the crowd, although like us many depart twenty or so minutes in to head back to the main stage.

That’s because for the first time in some seven years Mallory Knox are back with vocalist Mikey Chapman! A handful of carefully chosen intro tracks highlight the momentous occasion before they deliver a career-spanning performance which delights their passionate fans. Despite some mic issues for Chapman, it’s fantastic to have his signature voice back at the helm of a band once heralded as the next big thing. With a tour lined up this autumn, perhaps that prophecy can still be fulfilled!

The Ghost Inside then lay waste to the ‘GoPro’ stage in another moment of celebration considering everything that they’ve been through. From there we head back to the ‘Kerrang’ tent for Pale Waves which again demonstrates the variety on offer even within the limited gene pool of Slam Dunk. Pale Waves say that they didn’t know what to expect, but what they get is a huge crowd singing every word back of what may be the best set of the whole day!

We are at the business end of the day now but there is still plenty of business to be taken care of! Another rare booking which elicits scenes of glee and sing-a-longs galore is that of Boys Like Girls who deliver the goods including hits ‘Love Drunk’ and ‘The Great Escape’.

Holding Absence frontman Lucas Woodford can then be found fronting a special performance from Funeral For A Friend on the ‘GoPro’ stage, with Woodford more than up to the task.

Then it’s back to the main stage for former headliners The All-American Rejects who are in the UK for the first time in ten years! Sadly the sound is pretty damn iffy throughout but the sing-a-long moments continue and more than compensate for their poor sound. Fans will be praying that it isn’t another ten years before they get to hear the likes of ‘Swing, Swing’, ‘Dirty Little Secret’, ‘Move Along’ and ‘Gives You Hell’ again!

We then catch the solid beginnings of The Wonder Years set as they close out the ‘Key Club’ stage. Elsewhere stages are headlined by I Prevail, Waterparks and The Interrupters but we naturally finish at the main stage with the festival farewell for You Me At Six.

The atmosphere is celebratory before the band even arrives on stage but when they do and immediately burst into ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ the place goes crazy for their heroes. Thankfully the sound is great for the headliners and the string of hits and fan favourites flies by, which is always a good sign.

The party lives up to the hype and You Me At Six are able to give a great account of what has made them such a special band whilst simultaneously showing what makes Slam Dunk what it is. Even at the end of a long, exhausting day the fans are more than willing to sing back every word of the likes of ‘Take on the World’, ‘Underdog’ and ‘Beautiful Way’.

After a year of negativity about the event, it’s great to see Slam Dunk (at Hatfield at least) firing on all cylinders, because there truly is no better way to kickstart festival season. Fans meanwhile will have one final chance to say goodbye to You Me At Six next year, and on tonight’s showing, you’d be foolish not to!

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Live Reviews

Newton Faulkner

Junction, Cambridge

Friday 10th May 2024

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It’s Friday night in Cambridge and the Junction is packed with fans awaiting the arrival of Newton Faulkner as he continues his ‘Feels Like Home 2’ tour. When joining us on The Full Pelt Music Podcast this week, Newton mused that “It’s the only tour I’ve ever done that’s had a sequel!”

The tour has focused on more regional venues and has seen Faulkner performing with a simpler setup and a more intimate feel. There has also been no support per se, with Faulkner instead performing two distinct sets and in effect supporting himself.


Faulkner arrives for set number one at around 8pm and instantly engages the audience with his charm. Indeed, throughout the show it’s a blend of the music and Faulkner’s wit and charisma that enthrals the crowd and producing a thoroughly engaging experience.

Within minutes of opening with ‘Never Alone’, Faulkner has the audience set up into sections and singing and clapping along as instructed. You could almost call Faulkner the pied piper of Cambridge tonight as he hypnotises the crowd with the magical powers of his guitar.

Set one includes the likes of ‘I Need Something’, ‘Clouds’ and ‘Teardrop’ before a barrage of audience requests commences. Some wishes get granted as ‘UFO’ and ‘Full Fat’ arrive before ‘Hit the Ground Running’ leads us into a short intermission.


The second set continues along the same path but sees Faulkner ramping up the audience participation and engagement protocols. A highlight of the night comes from the spontaneous decision to combine two audience callouts into one with a Metallica style version of the ‘SpongeBob SquarePants Theme’!

Obviously the biggest sing-a-long moment of the night is reserved for mega hit ‘Dream Catch Me’, but even thereafter the likes of ‘Gone in the Morning’, a cover of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Write It on Your Skin’ all keep the party going.

Given the ongoing reaction to these shows, perhaps Faulkner will need to consider a third act for this tour. But then he did also tease new music during our chat! Whatever comes next, for certain you’ll want to head out to a show and catch Faulkner doing what he does best.

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Live Reviews

When Rivers Meet

Epic Studios, Norwich

Thursday 9th May 2024

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📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

The sun is out today in Norwich and the city’s rock fans are out en masse as well, queuing up early to catch one of the new faces of classic rock, When Rivers Meet, live at the fantastic facility that is Epic Studios.


It doesn’t take long after doors opening for our opening act to take to the stage and start making some real good noise! Dusk Brothers immediately parade their unique homemade setup, including petrol cans and kebab shop oven sheets, before showing what an incredible racket the duo can make.

Imagine if Seasick Steve had a twin brother and had gone through a metal phase in his youth and you’ll be close to picturing how the Dusk Brothers present. Their Bluesy Americana and quick witted charm makes for a highly enjoyable forty minutes and the audience tonight is clearly appreciative, giving the duo a rousing ovation at the end of their set.

Dusk Brothers are well worth a deep dive and the band highlight throughout their set tonight that they host regular livestreams. This is noteworthy also for the correlation with our headliners When Rivers Meet, who made their own name during the pandemic with a series of popular livestreams!


Those innovative sessions gained engagement and traction for the band when live shows were taken away, but since the return of live music, that momentum has only continued to build for the husband and wife duo.

Playing live as a four-piece, Grace and Aaron Bond bring their songs to life this evening through skilful musicianship and stunning visuals aided by the set-up at Epic. The show has a special feel, as the band return to their original home county and the venue provides a striking background.

In just five years the band has already released three albums and the latest, ‘Aces Are High’ is front and centre this evening with all ten tracks featuring in the lengthy setlist. This is a great sign of faith in the quality of the album and that faith is indeed well placed, with the fans already lapping up the likes of ‘Play My Game’, ‘Infected’ and ‘Perfect Stranger’.

Whilst aligned with the “New Wave of Classic Rock” movement, the folk aesthetic that runs through the threads of When Rivers Meet helps to set them apart from the pack. A stripped back portion of the set is a particular highlight this evening as the obvious chemistry between the Bond’s shines through.

Despite their relatively short touring life, When Rivers Meet know how to connect with their audience and there is a kind of awe that befalls attendees this evening as they relish in the talent emanating from the stage.

An encore of ‘Golden’ and ‘Did I Break the Law’ provides a fitting finale to a polished performance from a band still seemingly going from strength to strength. With the tease of new music mentioned tonight, you can’t help but be excited to see what comes next.

Whenever that new music does come, you can safely say that on the evidence of tonight the show that follows is sure to take things to another level once again.

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Live Reviews

Kira Mac

Waterfront Studio, Norwich

Sunday 5th May 2024

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📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

After months of miserable weather, spring has finally sprung with the sun shining this Bank Holiday weekend. Revellers on an evening walk past the Waterfront in Norwich this evening get see a long queue mixed with rockers and goths as music fans line up for two different events.

Downstairs is a tribute band for The Cure and upstairs we are here to catch rising bands Kira Mac and Jayler in the Waterfront Studio. I’ll let you guess which sub-culture group is headed to which show!


Those upstairs don’t have to wait long for the entertainment to begin and kicking off proceedings this evening are youngsters Jayler. The four-piece look and sound like they’ve been rescued from the 1970’s by Bill and Ted in order to pass an exam asking what blues-soaked hard rock should sound like.

From opening duo ‘Acid Rain’ and ‘No Woman’ onwards it’s clear that the band are heavily inspired by the likes of Led Zeppelin and Greta Van Fleet. Those are some big old shoes to fill, but with their mesmerising performance tonight, Jayler prove that they are here to give it a good go. In fairness, on this evidence, you wouldn’t put it past the group from making a big mark in the near future.


Headliners Kira Mac have certainly been making a mark since the release of their debut album, ‘Chaos Is Calling’, in 2022. Word is certainly spreading about the rockers and the venue tonight is packed and eager to see their new heroes.

The band come out all guns blazing and the first portion of their set sees them fly through, ‘Save Your Whiskey’, ‘Dead Man Walking’, ‘Chaos Is Calling’ and new tracks ‘Play the Game’, ‘No Way Out’ and ‘Scorned’.

Next, the band change the pace with a special acoustic portion – something the band comment won’t be repeated in the future. If so, that would be a shame as the next twenty or so minutes are a fantastic showcase not just of the talent within the band but also their charm.

Singer Rhiannon Hill is able to hold the audience and make them hang off of every word. A handful of rarer played tracks and covers is well received and is a real highlight of the evening.

A rousing cover of Alanis Morissette classic ‘You Oughta Know’ then kickstarts the third section of their performance and gets the crowd singing along. Six more tracks follow with some favourites and a sneak peek of what to expect from album number two. During all of these tracks, you are left to appreciate the camaraderie and talent held within the tight group.

That kinship and audience connection will help to set the band apart as they move to the next era of their career and you’d have to expect that when they return to Norwich, they’ll be playing in the bigger presently goth occupied room.

An encore of ‘Downfall’ and ‘One Way Ticket’ delivers a final knockout blow this evening and has the fans raving about what they’ve just witnessed as they file back into the warm spring night.

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Live Reviews


Portland Arms, Cambridge

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The community that surrounds PET NEEDS is quite extraordinary. Their fans, or ‘fractured party people’, passionately support the group in their endeavours and recently assisted the the band in defying the odds by reaching number 17 in the UK Albums Chart.

Tonight, finds the group partway through a tour which acts as a victory lap for that album – ‘Intermittent Fast Living’.


Through all their achievements though, the fact that PET NEEDS cultivated that fanbase through a number of support slots isn’t lost on them. Indeed frontman Johnny Marriott identifies the importance of these opportunities tonight whilst explaining that tour support Generation Feral is running late.

Instead of cancelling the support slot however, Generation Feral is racing to the venue and rather than leaving fans waiting, Johnny and brother George open the show with an acoustic set of favourites and rarities including ‘Pavlovian’ and ‘Primetime Entertainment’.


Soon after, Generation Feral arrives and without a soundcheck takes to the stage to deliver an incredible virtuoso performance.  Hitting important subjects in a frank and down to earth manner, Generation Feral is able to showcase her strong songwriting capabilities through the likes of ‘hide your knees’, ‘political climate’ and ‘newborn adult’.

The fans in attendance reciprocate her energy and together an uplifting experience is created, where both audience and artist are grateful of the efforts taken for the set to take place.


It again isn’t long before PET NEEDS then return to the stage in full complement and raise the roof with new favourites ‘Separation Anxiety’ and ‘Trip’ from their heralded third album. What is instantly obvious as they do so, is that the fans present already know every word and that the songs already feel at home in the setlist.

That observation is true of all ‘Intermittent Fast Living’ tracks that follow and is a testament to the quality of the record. When you then factor in songs from their first two albums, a PET NEEDS set is now structured – banger after banger after banger!

A final run of ‘Fear for the Whole Damn World’, ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’, ‘Lost Again’, ‘Sleep When I’m Dead’ and ‘Get on the Roof’ is perhaps the strongest evidence of that theme.

With a new look line-up in place and momentum fully on their side, there appears to be no slowing down from one of the best young bands around. The band have a plethora of festival slots booked for this summer and on this showing tonight, you’d be a fool not to highlight them on your clashfinder!

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Live Reviews

Dan Patlansky

Dingwalls, London

Saturday 13th April 2024

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It’s a Saturday evening and it’s the first warm spring evening of the year! Camden is therefore predictably bustling with people checking out the famous market and taking in some street food and maybe a beer or two.

The best way to finish an evening in Camden Town is always by savouring some live music in one of the many famous venues. In an area famous for punk however, tonight is all about the blues! That’s because Dingwalls is welcoming South African maestro Dan Patlansky to one of London’s best small venues.


Despite the temptation to sit in the sunshine with a pint by the lock, the venue fills up early with fans anticipating an intense showcase of modern blues rock. Up first though is Leoni Jane Kennedy who takes to the stage solo with just an acoustic guitar for company.

Kennedy however has no issues in grabbing the attention of the blues aficionados in attendance. Her charm and intricate melodies easily serenade the audience and her short set is entirely captivating.

A delightful cover of ‘Tears’ by Rush is a treat, but throughout the set each song offers a glimpse of Kennedy’s songwriting talents. Finishing with ‘Synthetic’, which is the title-track of her upcoming debut album, Kennedy no doubt will have left a lasting impression tonight with her illuminating performance.


It’s actually something of a miracle that this show is going ahead, given that our headliner Dan Patlansky has been sick in recent days with a couple of necessary postponements. Patlansky however makes it clear that he was desperate to play tonight, and as his set begins with ‘Lift Off’, those in attendance are instantly grateful that he was.

That’s because despite battling through illness, Patlansky is able to channel something otherworldly to deliver a mesmerising performance alongside his band. Accompanied by bassist Greg Van Kerkhof and drummer Andy Maritz, the power trio is scorching at times, delicate at others and always meticulous.

That tantalising talent especially shines through on new material from Patlansky’s latest release ‘Movin’ On’. The title track and ‘Who I Am’ are highlights but the songs from the album all shine tonight.

Another special treat this evening sees Patlansky joined by teenage blues prodigy Rhys John Stygal for a fantastic rendition of the Howlin’ Wolf song ‘Tell Me’ in the style of Stevie Ray Vaughan!

Patlansky has a rare ability to make his guitar sing and his blistering blues are relished by the adoring crowd this evening. Over the course of one-hundred glorious minutes, Patlansky and co forget illness and the outside world and simply let the music do the talking.

A glorious day has been punctuated by two superb sets from Kennedy and Patlansky and the crowd can disperse into the Camden nightlife to reminisce on a memorable evening.

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 46 – Dan Patlansky

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Live Reviews


Epic Studios, Norwich

Monday 18th March 2024

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📸 (C) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

Despite being one of the most active live bands in the UK, it has been almost a decade since Creeper last played in the city of Norwich. Back then they were the support band in the backroom of a pub, now they return at the much larger Epic Studios and their fans are out in numbers despite some competition from local favourite Justin Hawkins just up the road.


Before the main event however we have our openers Zetra who, after opening for Creeper at their one-off Roundhouse show in 2022, are along for the ride on this ’12 Days of Night’ tour.

The mysterious duo deliver a methodical set of elevator music for Goths. The elements of theatre fit naturally with the aesthetic of a Creeper show and the respectful crowd appear content with their performance. Whilst sparks don’t necessarily fly, the band create the perfect ambience to prepare us for what’s to come next.


What comes next is a band who have certainly made their case for the best live act award. Creeper are now a wholly different prospect compared to their early Norwich shows; for whilst they can still go hard when the moment calls, they are now an elegant and effervescent force. To go with the vampire theme, they are less the brute force of Blade and more the seductive charm of Count Dracula.

Speaking of awards, Creeper won two of our end of year awards this past December and it’s our Single of the Year ‘Cry To Heaven’ that kicks their set off in spectacular fashion. The catchy song instantly elevates the audience energy levels and alongside the quickfire romp of ‘Poison Pens’ sets the tone for the evening.

The setlist for this tour is carefully curated given the band now have three albums and four EP’s to choose from. There are therefore many big songs which don’t make the cut this evening.

That’s an indictment of how packed their back catalogue has become and that’s never more apparent then when you consider the tracks not present with the fact that they can still pull out the likes of ‘Hiding With Boys’, ‘Cyanide’, ‘Down Below’, ‘The Honeymoon Suite’, ‘Annabelle’ and ‘I Choose To Live’. That’s not to even mention the stunning Hannah Greenwood led interlude of ‘Ghosts Over Calvary’ and ‘Crickets’!

The second Full Pelt Award taken home by Creeper last year was Album of the Year for their latest masterpiece ‘Sanguivore’ and those are the tracks that perhaps own tonight. ‘Teenage Sacrifice’ is glorious, ‘Lovers Led Astray’, ‘The Ballad of Spook & Mercy’ and ‘Chapel Gates’ are all highlights and the rock opera ‘Further Than Forever’ is simply magnificent.

The line-up for the band now officially features guitarist Lawrie Pattison and it feels like they are firing off all cylinders together. Each member brings somewhat special and together they have hit another level, and whilst there are a few clichés there, ultimately you can’t help but be excited for the future of the band.

It’s an old favourite though that brings the evening to a spine-tingling close with ‘Misery’ eliciting the sing-a-long to end all sing-a-longs. Creeper can leave Norwich this time around knowing that they’ve ascended into something much bigger than their humble beginnings. The fans however will be heading home praying that it doesn’t take the band another nine years to return to the city.

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Live Reviews


Epic Studios, Norwich

Wednesday 13th March 2024

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FEEDER – NORWICH – live review

📸(c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

There is a lengthy queue formed outside Epic Studios in Norwich this evening with the considerable amount of Feeder t-shirts giving a good hint of what will be taking place inside the venue.

Indeed, this show sold out well in advance and it appears that Norfolk’s indie lovers are excited to catch the band playing what Grant Nicholas terms as ‘old school Feeder territory’ for the first time in nearly five years.


Up first though are a band also keen to make up for lost time. The Pearl Harts were originally scheduled to support Feeder back in March 2020 but we all know what happened then!

The venue is already full as the duo take to the stage and kick proceedings off with bluesy rocker ‘Black Blood’. Looking around, there are a few in the crowd perhaps surprised to be given such a good rocking as soon as they walk in the door.

The Pearl Harts released their second album, ‘Love, Chaos’, last year and have honed their craft by playing shows across the UK and Europe in recent years. They are therefore an assured live prospect, in that you know that you’re going to get a good time!

That’s exactly what the band give us this evening with a mixture of newer material and older favourites such as ‘Lara’ and ‘Hurt’. Any early trepidation seems to have been blow away and by the time the duo exit the stage they’ve certainly won some additional followers.


Feeder on the other hand certainly need no introduction, the audience are packed in, raring to go and ready for a sing-a-long. Those big moments come with the likes of ‘Feeling A Moment’ and ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ eliciting excitable reactions, but the first half of the set focuses predominantly on newer tracks.

The band are set to release their twelfth album ‘Black/Red’ next month and songs from the double record take centre stage this evening including grandiose opener ‘ELF’. The crowd are respectful and show appreciation for these new offerings, which are quite sonically diverse.

This preview of the newer material truly does pique interest and you can almost hear the penny dropping for attendees that ‘Black/Red’ is going to be worth some exploration. Equally newer tracks such as ‘Kyoto’ and ‘Fear of Flying’ demonstrate that the band also have some fine offerings in their more recent collections.

To the surprise of no one though the biggest reactions of the evening come with the likes of ‘Buck Rogers’ and show finale ‘Just A Day’. Any band would sell their soul to possess mega-tunes like these and their sing-a-long moments will always ensure fans go home happy.

The key takeaways from this show however should be firstly an appreciation for the depth in quality of the Feeder back catalogue and then an excitement for what this next chapter holds.

Regardless of all that though, those that formed that queue can now head into the night having just seen two fantastic live acts in their local venue and that’s what it’s really all about!

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The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 21 – The Pearl Harts

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