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2023 Full Pelt Awards

Have your say!

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The 2023 Full Pelt Awards are here and you can have your say from our shortlists below!

Votes here will be tallied with those on Social Media, plus weighted votes from our Full Pelt staff with the winners all revealed in a special Magazine on New Year’s Day!

2023 Full Pelt Awards
2023 Full Pelt Awards
2023 Full Pelt Awards
2023 Full Pelt Awards
2023 Full Pelt Awards
2023 Full Pelt Awards
2023 Full Pelt Awards

Our 2023 Album of the Year will be revealed on our Social Media on Christmas Day! Let us know your favourite album of the year in the comments and be sure to follow us across social media to be the first to see who wins our award!

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Magazine

Full Pelt Magazine

Vol. 6

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Our weekly music News Report has evolved into the Full Pelt Magazine, and you can download the sixth issue now for free!

Volume six includes an update from cover stars Dream Nails, reviews of Ash, The Subways and Muse live and a load more!

We have our News Report rounding up new releases from Mike Shinoda, Normandie, The Cadillac Three, Tesseract, Haunt The Woods, Millie Manders and the Shutup, LØLØ, Tropic Gold and BLACKGOLD!

Plus new live announcements from Within Temptation, Tenacious D, The Gaslight Anthem, 2000trees, Suede, Manic Street Preachers, Beartooth, Blackberry Smoke, The Sleeping Souls and Sean McGowan.

Finally, we round up the latest additions to our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist with modernlove., Break Fifty and Noah and the Loners!

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Live Reviews

Download Festival

Donington Park, Castle Donington

Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th June 2023

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DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL 2023 REVIEW

This weekend is a celebration of twenty years of Download Festival. Stepping into the void left by Monsters of Rock not just at the hyped spiritual home of rock Donington Park but to the whole UK rock/metal scene, Download has become its own monster.

This year is truly monstrous as the event is fully sold out with record breaking numbers of attendees coming to partake in the celebration. Those celebrations get off to a rough start though with unprecedented traffic problems souring the event for many before it even properly begins.

📸 Live Nation UK PR

Once the music starts though a lot if not all of those problems subside. There is a stacked bill for the anniversary party including two nights of Metallica, a closing set from Download icons Slipknot but most vitally a new headline act Bring Me The Horizon.

The gap between Monsters of Rock and Download caused a vacuum in ability for bands to hit headline status with many acts from that era missing out on that status, Korn being one such act often thought of as passed over. Think about it, if they’d headlined at Donington Park in the late nineties, they’d no doubt still be that rank higher than they are now.

In the early years of Download, a number of bands had an opportunity to cement themselves at the top level, think Audioslave, Linkin Park, System of a Down and My Chemical Romance.

Playing alongside stalwarts like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath and Kiss gives bands credibility and elevates their stock. 2009’s Slipknot set is still heralded as the best example of the ‘bump’!

The problem is since then only Avenged Sevenfold in 2014 have really been given that opportunity and Download has become a bit of a clichéd round robin of the likes of Def Leppard, Rammstein, Aerosmith and other favourites already mentioned.

Perhaps then the most important booking in a celebration of the past is the look to the future with Bring Me The Horizon finally getting the top spot. Whilst Download probably should’ve got in before Reading and Leeds, it’s hopefully a sign of a subtle change of tact from the festival.

That’s because the line-up is also graced this year by the likes of Hot Milk, Nova Twins and Bob Vylan in prominent slots. Mixing this with the likes of classic Download bands Disturbed, Alter Bridge, Halestorm and Skindred gives the line-up a fresh but familiar feel.

Sadly beyond the bookings of Metallica and Slipknot plus the additional day there isn’t much done to make this year feel special for those who have made Download Festival part of their lives.

Whilst the organisers could have done more both in terms of that something special and in certain ways just the very basics, they have provided a top tier line-up, so let’s take a look at the highlights!

THURSDAY

Cancer Bats get the ball rolling on day one for us over at the second stage (now dubbed the Opus stage). The band get those that have made it into the arena pumped up with a early set packed full of ragers that ultimately ends prematurely when the sound is cut during ‘Hail Destroyer’!

Soon thereafter, Mammoth WVH get proceedings underway on the main stage (or Apex as it’s now called!). In some ways it’s fitting having the Van Halen name on this stage, in others it’s very ironic as the legendary band are often referred to by lead booker Andy Copping as one that got away.

Wolfgang and co show that with or without the last name, they have the talent needed to conquer stages like these. From start to finish it’s an excellent showing that places the band on the potential list for future festival stars.

Next up on the Opus stage are Hundred Reasons who are riding the wave of their stunning return album, ‘Glorious Sunset’. The band open with the title-track before running through a series of classic tracks much to the delight of those gathered. Hopefully this isn’t a victory lap for the band as creatively and onstage they are as good as they’ve ever been!

As we focus on the future of the festival, two names often linked to future headline status are Halestorm and Alter Bridge. It’s fine booking then to see the bands back to back next on the Apex stage.

Halestorm deliver another flawless set that seems to finish before it begins given their short allocated slot. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though given the old saying of leave the fans wanting more. Halestorm certainly do that and with a headline date pencilled in at Wembley Arena this December, the next time the band grace Donington you’d hope to see them in the sub-headline spot.

That’s the spot filled by Alter Bridge who have played in this position multiple times before; a sense perhaps then of always the bridesmaid and never the bride! Today though the band give it their all to show what they have to offer.

Watching the crowd, the set seems to be really well received which is a good sign. The band after all are always technically superb, so if enhancing that audience connection is the missing piece to progression then today’s set will have gone a long way to creating that link!

All that’s left on this special Thursday then is the first of two headline performances from the biggest metal band on the planet, Metallica. The two sets will be completely unique, giving fans the chance to see far more than a standard Metallica set list.

Night one has a good mix of hits like ‘Creeping Death’, ‘Fade To Black’, ‘Nothing Else Matters’, ‘Sad but True’ and ‘Master of Puppets’, deep cuts such as ‘Leper Messiah’, ‘King Nothing’ and ‘Orion’ plus new material from ’72 Seasons’.

FRIDAY

Friday is a huge day for the future of heavy music with a number of hotly tipped bands performing on the main stage including headliners Bring Me The Horizon.

We start on the Opus stage though with a debut UK festival appearance from Mexicans The Warning. The sister trio deliver an assured performance which belies their position on the bill. The set is another case of leaving the audience wanting more and you have to imagine that they’ll be back very soon.

Nova Twins take to the Apex stage soon after and absolutely own the stage. The duo are able to show just why they have so much hype with a performance that should be talked about as one of the best of the weekend.

Hot Milk have the unenviable task of following the pure energy that was Nova Twins, and thankfully for the band and the crowd they are up to the task. With a debut album on the way the band are on the cusp of something special and this set will again not doubt be one of those “I was there” moments.

The effortless cool of Demob Happy delights the Avalanche stage next as they showcase their stunning new album, ‘Divine Machines’.

Back on the Apex stage with the run of younger bands, next up for us are Neck Deep who are perennial contenders for bigger things. Today they have tens of thousands of people singing back the likes of ‘December’ and you have to consider Neck Deep’s set another victory for the new breed of Download band.

It’s a short and sharp blast from the past next as we pop to the Avalanche stage for the return of The Blackout. The band perform like they’ve not been away and receive a hero’s return from the audience. With the tease of more live dates to follow, it looks like The Blackout are back and back with a bang today!

It’s a quick bolt over to the Opus stage next for Within Temptation who are clearly playing a slot below their stature. The performance the band give is headline worthy not just of this stage but of the main stage. The band has a wealth of experience and use all their tricks to deliver a masterful set full of their best crowd pleasing hits.

By the time Evanescence grace the stage, the mass of humanity in attendance is a clear indication that the band should have been on the main stage. Viewing points are few and far between but wherever you are stood the band sonically deliver. A mixture of old and new is greeted well regardless but it’s mega hit ‘Bring Me to Life’ that has the entire place singing their hearts out.

It’s then time for that set. Bring Me The Horizon take over the main stage and prove any remaining doubters wrong. Making Metallica appear average, the band give their all both aesthetically and musically and produce possibly the greatest headline performance in the twenty years of the festival.

As we said earlier, the band should have been given this slot years ago, but if they had then this moment wouldn’t have existed. Their show tonight is the proof needed that the next wave are ready now and the gatekeepers need to move aside.

This set is historic not just for the theme of the weekend or for the stature of Bring Me The Horizon, it’s historic as a watershed moment for this festival. New headliners of the future should personally thank Bring Me The Horizon for breaking through that proverbial ceiling!

SATURDAY

On to Saturday now and nobody mention the weather! A celebration of twenty years of Download would have fittingly seem some rain and mud, and from this point on the festival is so hot that many would probably have willing traded the sun for some rain.

After last night it almost feels an anti-climax for the festival to continue, but another Metallica set should never be scoffed at. Thankfully there are still some fresh new bands breaking through lower down the bill today, and first up we catch Static Dress who seemingly channel the energy of Bring Me The Horizon with the fantastic opening Opus stage set.

One of the best bits of a festival for a publication passionate about new music is stumbling across a surprise gem on one of the side stages. This year that is ANTISAINT who simply storm the small Dogtooth stage with a ferocious set and definitely leave with more fans than they had going in.

The new look FEVER 333 then take to the main stage and deliver another memorable moment with Jason Aalon Butler scaling one of the massive towers erected in the main arena. That moment though shouldn’t take away from the already phenomenal set the band had delivered.

Lake Malice are next for us back in the Avalanche stage who are able to continue the run of top tier performances we’ve caught thus far. Whilst some of the organisational elements of the festival have been lacking, the music has been of the highest calibre and Lake Malice are another band you suspect will be back in a bigger spot sooner rather than later.

Next on the Apex stage are Ice Nine Kills, whose theatrics create a spectacle on the main stage, but musically they feel a little flat, perhaps being the first underwhelming set of the weekend.

Clutch who follow then also suffer both through technical difficulties and the energy sapping heat which probably negatively impacted Ice Nine Kills as well. The lack of enthusiasm from the crowd doesn’t help and it’s probably a good thing we are headed to a tent next.

We are set now for another one-two punch, this time in the Avalanche tent with Kid Kapichi and Bob Vylan on tap. It’s Kid Kapichi up first and they instantly raise the intensity levels with opener ‘Sardines’. Each song that follows is just as rewarding and by the time the band finish with ‘Smash the Gaff’ they’ve done just that!

One of the most exiting acts on the bill this weekend are Bob Vylan. The mention of ceilings earlier is relevant because this duo haven’t just smashed ceilings they’ve proceeded to stamp the shards into dust. Their performance to a packed crowd today is further evidence that new acts can make Download their home. That’s exactly what Bob Vylan do here as to repeat another cliché they completely own the stage.

It was always going to be hard to follow that suckerpunch and next on the main stage with the intense heat still sapping all energy, Disturbed deliver a plodding set. The set list is fine, the performance is far from phoned-in but with the audience struggling and the band following the ferocity of Bob Vylan, Disturbed feel distinctly average today.

We then head to the Opus stage expecting Placebo to also struggle to engage the tired and weary crowd. After all this is the third day which would traditionally be the home straight, and Placebo are not known for their crowd pleasing set list choices.

Pleasantly though those making the effort are surprisingly rewarded not just with an energised performance from the band but also a excellent set of songs including a very rare outing for the superb ‘Nancy Boy’. On their day Placebo can be an incredible live act and today they are at the peak of their powers which re-energises the previously zombified crowd.

It’s then time for night two of Metallica’s no repeat weekend. There are some great choice cuts in the set tonight such as a tour debut for ‘Whiplash’ plus ‘Until It Sleeps’, ‘Wherever I May Roam’ and Thin Lizzy cover ‘Whiskey in the Jar’! The finale of ‘One’ and ‘Enter Sandman’ ensures that the hits are accounted for as well as Metallica deliver another slick and graceful set.

SUNDAY

The final day feels like a step too far, most definitely compounded by the unrelenting heat, but once again when lost in the music all those issues somehow disappear – the power of music!

Bloodywood start the day off with an engaging performance on the Apex stage, before our recent Podcast guests Blind Channel deliver on their promise to bring the energy to Download. The sight of many metalheads singing along to a rendition of Anastacia’s ‘Left Outside Alone’ is a real sight to behold and set closer ‘Dark Side’ has everybody with their middle finger in the air.

Lorna Shore then suffer again from a lack of enthusiasm from the crowd and their sound getting swallowed up by the enormous space. Joey Valence & Brae though have neither issue in the Avalanche tent with a rambunctious and fun-filled slot.

As the heat and the excesses of the weekend catch up on the crowd it’s telling that for this afternoon outdoor sets like The Amity Affliction and Avatar whilst technically great feel like a struggle. Whereas tented sets from Joey Valence and Brae and the brilliant The Meffs are able to revive the crowd and thrive on their rejuvenation.

Thankfully things start to cool as clouds begin to take over the sky as we get ready for Dinosaur Pile-Up on the Opus stage. Sadly technical difficulties shorten their set to just five songs, but those five songs sound fantastic!

I Prevail have a huge slot on the main stage and make a good impression although you do again feel something is just lacking today. Not to flog a dead horse any further but it may be the low energy levels today or the enormity of the stage swallowing the heavier sound but it’s hard to truly get into their set today.

Thankfully the smaller outdoor Opus stage seems to have a lot of energy and Bad Religion are able to take advantage of that next with a typically slick run of punk rock anthems. Opening with ‘American Jesus’ the band able to hold your attention throughout before finishing with a rousing rendition of ’21st Century (Digital Boy)’.

Next up on this stage are Ghost who really should be headlining the main stage at this point. Musically and theatrically they are on another level and you have a sense of the Bring Me The Horizons about then. Hopefully Download Festival will strike while the iron is hot because everything about their performance today is perfect.

Ghost are so good that you also feel it unnecessary to watch Slipknot, but as soon as the band hit the stage you are glad that you stayed. The history between the band and festival is huge and it’s great that they are one of the few acts that seem to properly acknowledge that this weekend.

A standard (which is great) Slipknot set follows with some sentimental set choices and an enthralling stage show. It’s really fitting for Slipknot to close out what has been an intense weekend of celebration.

Download Festival
📸 Live Nation UK PR

The busiest and longest ever Download Festival will last long in the memory for reasons both good and bad. As we said at the start, this festival is a true monster now and has enough dedicated customers to ensure that it will never go down as its predecessor did. It has however become rather soulless and corporate and it feels like the identity it created over the first decade or so could be lost.

Hopefully the event will use this success to both maintain its heritage but also to now really push for the future headliners and top acts to come through. So, congratulations Download on twenty phenomenal years, and here’s to many many more to come!

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Live Reviews

Nova Twins

Waterfront, Norwich

Friday 17th February 2023

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NOVA TWINS – NORWICH – LIVE REVIEW

Tonight is a sell out and anticipation is high for one of rocks brightest prospects as Nova Twins commence their UK Tour at the Waterfront in Norwich! This was already a hot ticket, but the added attention the band received at the Brits recently has raised the bar further.

Entering the venue, you know full well that this will likely be the last time Nova Twins are playing venues this small. A rocket has been strapped to their backs and rightly so, because they fitted it themselves. Everything coming their way has come from their own DIY ethics, their own creativity and their own natural talents.

Fittingly, the band has selected two more acts that fit that bill to open on this tour. Up first are Uninvited, who on their showing tonight will be invited to many more shows in the future. Not previously on our radar, they very much are now after an assured and intense opening set. Quickly winning the packed crowd over with their blistering pace, keep an eye on this band, we certainly will be!

Next up are a band further down their career path as it were. Opening slots with My Chemical Romance last summer may have placed Witch Fever on many people’s maps, but the group has been making a noise for a little while now with a steady stream of increasingly impressive singles.

Tonight, they are clearly playing to a crowd in the know and that creates a fantastic atmosphere as the band demonstrate the raw power that has been the base of their early work. The likes of ‘Bloodlust’, ‘Congregation’ and ‘Blessed Be Thy’ sound absolutely massive in this relatively small venue and you again would expect Witch Fever to be moving on to headlining these sized rooms in the near future.

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Nova Twins – ‘Choose Your Fighter’

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Nova Twins have quickly established themselves on the scene through two very well received albums and a string of support slots and festival appearances. Having caught them play a number of these shorter sets, our main question tonight is how do the band translate over a full headline set. The answer, as was expected, is very well indeed!

Starting off with the likes of ‘Fire & Ice’ and ‘Cleopatra’, the band quickly asserts their ferocious energy on the stage. Audience participation comes naturally and at times it feels like the band and audience are in fact one with each other.

The likes of ‘Taxi’ and ‘Play Fair’ still go hard and the likes of ‘Sleep Paralysis’ simply leave you in awe of the majesty emanating from the stage. Even we opened this review by calling Nova Twins prospects, but that isn’t the case, no, this band are the present and they are ready to take over the world!

An encore of ‘Antagonist’, ‘Undertaker’ and ‘Choose Your Fighter’ is just the cherry on top of the cake. Tonight has shown the sheer quality of new rock acts out there at the moment, with all three bands clearly set for bigger things.  

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Album Reviews

Nova Twins

Supernova

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NOVA TWINS – SUPERNOVA – ALBUM REVIEW

Nova Twins have been slowly building their fanbase with impressive support slots and festival appearances. In February 2020, you know just before the world stood still, the duo released their debut in ‘Who Are The Girls?’.

Despite the difficulties for music promotion over the next year or so, stock in the band has only risen with their debut album a critical success. The quality of that first album helped to back up the hype that had begun to surround Amy Love and Georgia South.

Now, the duo are unleashing their sophomore album on the world as they continue to lay the groundwork for stardom.

The potential for this band is unlimited with their genre-defying sound making them a true crossover act. Fans of various musical types will find comfort in ‘Supernova’, which sees Nova Twins once again delivering a slice of action-packed, adrenaline-fuelled, electro-punk groove.

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Nova Twins – ‘Antagonist’

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Single, ‘Antagonist’, is straight in your face and sets the tone for what’s to come from the rest of the record. ‘Cleopatra’, ‘K.M.B.’ and ‘Fire & Ice’ are highlights but there really isn’t a bad track on ‘Supernova’.

The duo are clearly growing in confidence with every record, and this album is a timestamp of a band transitioning from having potential to delivering the goods.

If you like music with attitude, passion and ferocity then this album and Nova Twins are most definitely for you. ‘Supernova’ really is a half hour of power and it will do nothing but continue to push this incredible band on their upwards trajectory!

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Features

The Year In Review 2021

The Year In Review 2021

Full Pelt Music looks back on 2021 for our Year In Review

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2020 was a year that we all wish we could forget. Could 2021 be any better? Well, it started off just as the previous year ended; with the live music industry on its knees. Lockdown restrictions still ruled out any live in person shows, with even socially distanced shows initially outlawed.

Come late spring, things began to look up and a number of “test” events were planned. We were lucky enough to attend the Pilot Download Festival and the euphoria of being amongst fellow music fans in a field can’t truly be put into words. Things were looking up!

Live music would eventually make a full return but sadly as we write this The Year In Review 2021 feature, the sector is once again holding its breath waiting for the Government to take action. Alas, true normality may still be a long way off, but for a few months this year we got to feel alive again.

That alone elevates 2021 above 2020, but there is plenty more to unpack. We recently undertook our now annual countdown of our top albums of the year over on our social media. 2021 was a truly exceptional year in terms of album quality. Those musicians kept in lockdown last year certainly found their creativity and compiling a list of the top 50 albums of the year was highly competitive.

Read our Album of the Year 2021 feature

In our The Year In Review 2021 article, we will be revealing our end of year award winners. As with last year we will announce our Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Artist of the Year, Gig of the Year and Festival of the Year.

This year however we have an additional award to hand out. 2021 was a big year for Full Pelt Music, our first full year in existence. We’ve grown and we’ve enhanced our focus on new music. We launched initially our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist on Spotify through which we highlight the best up and coming artists.

We also launched not one but two Podcasts this year, including the accompanying ‘Discover’ New Music Podcast where we truly shine the spotlight on your new favourite acts. As such, this year we will also be awarding the ‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year award!

Before we get to those awards though, let’s run you through a few of our highlights this year. First of all, as mentioned we also launched The Full Pelt Music Podcast this year. Fittingly our inaugural guest was Frank Turner, the winner of both our Gig of the Year and Artist of the Year awards in our 2020 Year In Review.

Across the Podcasts this year we’ve had the pleasure to talk with Press To Meco, Beans On Toast, Miss Vincent, Planet Fatale, Mercutio, Light By The Sea, Freddie and the Fabs, The Damned Few, Project Renegade, Icarus and Smoke! Be sure to check out these conversations, and also to Subscribe on Youtube or wherever you listen to your Podcasts. After all, we will have plenty more for you to enjoy in 2022.

The Music Industry has seized on the opportunity to entertain this year both live and on record. We’ve reviewed 66 albums, 2 festivals and 27 gigs in 2021 as fans have been treated to incredible releases and some truly stunning live shows. Again, perhaps the enforced break has allowed creativity to breed innovation.

So with that in mind, let’s work through those award catagories!

Album of the Year

As we’ve already referenced, the pure quality of releases this year made compiling our Top 50 Album of the Year List very tricky. It was hard work but we did it, and you can read the full list here.

The quality is demonstrated best by last year’s winners IDLES only reaching a still respectable number 7. The winner however had to be ‘Blue Weekend’ from the incredible Wolf Alice who continue to go from strength to strength. After three stunning albums, there is no ceiling for this band and we can’t wait to catch songs from the album live in 2022.

Winner:

‘Blue Weekend’ by Wolf Alice

The Contenders:

‘Written & Directed’ by Black Honey, ‘Typhoons’ by Royal Blood, ‘Seize the Power’ by Yonaka and ‘Transmute’ by Press To MECO

Previous Winners:

2020 – ‘Ultra Mono’ by IDLES

Single of the Year

We move on now to our award for the Single or Song of the Year. This year has again seen us locked down for considerable amounts of time and many will have sought solace in Playlists such as our Spotify Hot List.

In selecting our track of the year we considered which songs we’ve come back to time and time again, which songs remain as fresh now as they did on first listen and what songs simply just resonate on a different level.

Our winner is an incredible track from the fantastic album ‘Transmute’ from Press To MECO. ‘A Test Of Our Resolve’ ticks all of the criteria and also sounds absolutely massive live.

Press To MECO – ‘A Test Of Our Resolve’
Winner:

‘A Test Of Our Resolve’ by Press To MECO

The Contenders:

‘My Town’ by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, ‘Afterlife’ by Holding Absence, ‘Midnight’ by Creeper and ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ by Frank Turner

Previous Winners:

2020 – ‘Obey’ by Bring Me The Horizon feat. Yungblud

Artist of the Year

Artist of the Year now and for this award we look for somebody who has had a huge, perhaps even career-defining year. Last year we gave the award to Frank Turner for his incredible work for the #SaveOurVenues campaign through his Independent Venue Love series.

This year our winners are a band that also dabbled with livestreams during that first lockdown. This year however has been a hugely important year for Biffy Clyro. A new album, ‘A Myth of the Happily Ever After’ came hot on the heels of last year’s ‘A Celebration of Endings’. It’s another quality album from a band that continue to deliver consistently great music.

The band also had a huge impact on the live music scene this year. Firstly, the band rode to the rescue by stepping in as late replacements for Queens of the Stone Age to once again headline Reading and Leeds Festivals.

Secondly, the band played huge outdoor shows in Cardiff, Glasgow and Margate to help signal the return of live music after around 16 months of lockdown. Highlights of both their Reading and Glasgow performances aired on the BBC.

Lastly, the band played a completely sold out and very intimate ‘Fingers Crossed’ Tour across the UK. Their shows this year giving fans an opportunity to witness songs from not one but two albums live for the first time.

Biffy Clyro – ‘A Hunger In Your Haunt / Unknown Male 01’
Winner:

Biffy Clyro

The Contenders:

Enter Shikari, Bring Me The Horizon, Creeper and Wolf Alice

Previous Winners:

2020 – Frank Turner

Festival of the Year

Festivals made a belated return from lockdown restrictions in late summer, although the majority of the usual seasons events were still cancelled. For our Festival of the Year however we can’t look anywhere other than the special event that laid the groundwork for all events to return, the Download Pilot Festival!

Back in June the Government test event was the first opportunity for music fans to camp in a field and rock out for three days. The camaraderie and atmosphere this situation created, combined with the uniquely intimate Download layout and line-up made for a once in a lifetime experience.

British bands took centre stage and delivered an incredible weekend of music; with bands and fans both desperate to experience live music again. Thanks to all involved we can hopefully experience a full fat Download Festival again this summer.

Read our review of the Download Pilot Festival!

Winner:

Download Pilot Festival

The Contenders:

Reading Festival and Lost Evenings

Previous Winners:

2020 – Wild Fields Festival

Gig of the Year

Last year’s winner of Gig of the Year was a socially distancing outdoor affair, this year however true live music returned! Picking a winner this year is difficult because the pent up frustration of lockdown on both musicians and fans vented fully across some amazing gigs.

We reviewed 27 of those shows this year and there were some very special moments amongst them. The winner however must go to Bring Me The Horizon who stormed the O2 Arena with You Me At Six and Nova Twins in tow.

The night was a massive middle finger to any remaining doubters and the band solidified themselves not just as arena fillers but as festival headline ready. Fitting therefore that they have recently been revealed as headliners for Reading & Leeds Festivals next year.

Read our review of Bring Me The Horizon live in London

Winner:

Bring Me The Horizon @ O2 Arena

The Contenders:

Creeper @ O2 Kentish Town Forum, Idlewild @ Electric Brixton, The Offspring @ Wembley Arena, Biffy Clyro @ O2 Kentish Town Forum, Vukovi @ Norwich Waterfront Studio and Royal Blood @ Norwich UEA

Previous Winners:

2020 – Frank Turner @ Nottingham Arboretum

‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year

Our final award is a new award for this year where we shift focus on to the future. Having launched our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist and Podcast this year we wanted to honour an act that we have featured and for whom the future is bright.

With their debut album ‘A Funeral For Youth’ cracking our top 20 for the year, Miss Vincent take the inaugural ‘Discover’ New Artist of the Year award!

Miss Vincent – ‘Rosaline’
Winner:

Miss Vincent

The Contenders:

Planet Fatale, Dead Nature and Thumper

So, it hasn’t been a usual year again, in fact at times it has been just as hard as 2020. 2021 has however reminded us of what we were missing. Stunning new music, incredible live shows and a return to some normality (nobody say ‘new’ normal!), make 2021 a year that will live long in the memory for many reasons.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our The Year in Review 2021 feature and we wish you a very Happy New Year. Here’s hoping 2022 is a good one!

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Live Reviews

Enter Shikari

Alexandra Palace, London

Saturday 4th December 2021

Enter Shikari

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ENTER SHIKARI – ALEXANDRA PALACE – LIVE REVIEW

We’re currently counting down our 2021 Album of the Year list on Social Media. It’s somewhat fitting yet frustrating therefore that we are at Alexandra Palace in London for the band that reached number four on our 2020 list.

Enter Shikari released one of the best albums of 2020 in the form of ‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’, but have as yet been unable to tour that record due to the ongoing pandemic.

Finally, they now have the opportunity to take that album on the road, but alas the pandemic still has tricks up its sleeve. Firstly, the band take to their Social Media to announce bassist Chris Batten has Covid and is out, but the show will go on. Soon thereafter another post emerges and main support act, Dinosaur Pile-Up are also out as a result of Covid!

Despite all this adversity, the determination of the band shines and the show is on. Nova Twins are the first act on stage and continue to demonstrate just why they are so hotly tipped. Their ferocious, rip-roaring opening slot is instantly enough to justify the show proceeding. The band feel at home on huge stages and by the end of their short set, they have a legion of new fans.

With DPU out of the show, Enter Shikari called on their friends, and fellow St. Albans band Trash Boat answer the call at the 11th hour. DPU are a hard act to replace, but Trash Boat are an act up to the task. After all, their album ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ will likely feature towards the top of our 2021 Album of the Year list!

Read our review of ‘Don’t You Feel Amazing?’ from Trash Boat

They are able to blow away any disappointment at the lack of DPU within minutes of taking the stage. A traditional show of hands for Trash Boat first timers sees most hands in the venue raise, but by the end of their time on stage there is no doubt everybody now knows their name.

The quick flowing evening soon finds us being counted down towards the arrival of Enter Shikari. The venue is sold out and is packed tight towards the front as fans desperately await their heroes.

‘Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible’ is an incredible album and it’s only right that it features heavily tonight. That starts from opening track ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ as the band burst on stage to a stunning light show and a blast of confetti.

WATCH ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’ ON YOUTUBE
Enter Shikari – ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’

The crowd are truly up for it tonight as are the band. Despite the turmoil of the day and being a member down, Enter Shikari are able to adapt and overcome and still deliver an unstoppable performance.

Older tracks ‘Juggernauts’, ‘Sorry, You’re Not a Winner’ and ‘Mothership’ naturally elicit huge responses from the audience, but so do those new tracks. Highlights of the evening include ‘modern living…’, ‘satellites* *’ and ‘the pressure’s on.’.

Enter Shikari are an innovative and resilient force and tonight is a celebration of many things, but through all of the adversity of not just today but the last year or so, tonight is a triumph of tenacity.

An encore featuring two more new favourites in ‘T.I.N.A.’ and ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’ and the always uplifting ‘Live Outside’ closes out another victory lap for a vital band that continue to go from strength to strength.

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Live Reviews

Bring Me The Horizon

O2 Arena, London

Sunday 26th September 2021

Bring Me The Horizon

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BRING ME THE HORIZON – O2 ARENA – LIVE REVIEW

There is a tangible sense of excitement in the air at the O2 Arena. It may be a Sunday night, we may still be living in a pandemic world, there may be a fuel crisis and summer may be in the rear view mirror but tonight nothing else matters.

Tonight is all about a moment, a spectacle, a band ascending to a higher level. It’s a tired debate now really; are Bring Me The Horizon ready? Are they ready to headline festivals, ready to carry the mantle for heavy music, ready to take over the world?

If their live performances in recent years, their chart successes or even their cultivation of a cult-like fanbase aren’t evidence enough that they are already that band then what is? How about a sold out arena tour? How about another number one record in the form of ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’? Well, we are in London to find out.

Read our review of ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’

Up first are one of the most exciting young rock bands around, Nova Twins. Delays in entering the venue leave their crowd a little sparse but the attention of those in the venue is fully trained on the fierce power emanating from the stage. It’s a mesmerising performance from a prospective generational band.

Next on the famous stage are a band who previously headlined the venue in 2015. Since then You Me At Six have dabbled with nostalgia and experimented with new directions. It’s that amalgamation of experiences that has born their latest album ‘SUCKAPUNCH’.

Read our review of ‘SUCKAPUNCH’

The majority of their set tonight comes from their own number one album and the likes of ‘SUCKAPUNCH’ and ‘Beautiful Way’ are greeted with audience response equal to favourites ‘Lived A Lie’ and ‘Underdog’.

The highlight however is a certain Oliver Sykes partaking in an epic run through of ‘Bite My Tongue’. Tonight’s atmosphere is special and You Me At Six make the most of it with a performance that could’ve headlined again.

Instead our headline act is Bring Me The Horizon. At times a marmite band, in that you either love them or you hate them. The hate that the band generate these days however seems to come more from jealousy. How dare a band evolve, how dare a fanbase grow, how dare an alternative band enjoy mainstream success!

‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ seems to have swayed a fair few old school fans back into the fold, but the growth of the band comes from more than that. There is a genuine crossover now between the popular crowd and those that like it heavy.

The Linkin Park-esque ‘Teardrops’ is perhaps therefore a fitting opening number. There is then very little ease in the relentless parade of hits. This is a band now that can’t fit all their popular tracks into a single set list.

So the band now has a top class set list. They also have a premium stage show that perfectly fits the narrative of the evening. They can also pull in guest appearances from Nova Twins on ‘1×1’ and YUNGBLUD on ‘Obey’.

By the time the band finish with ‘Throne’ and ‘Can You Feel My Heart’ there isn’t an audience member in the sold out venue left in any doubt that this band has arrived. Bring Me The Horizon already are everything people argue they are or more to the matter are not! End the arguments now, embrace the future and just enjoy a heavy music success story.

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Live Reviews

Lost Evenings

Roundhouse, Camden

Thursday 16th – Sunday 19th September 2021

Lost Evenings

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LOST EVENINGS – ROUNDHOUSE, CAMDEN – LIVE REVIEW

Few musicians command such a passionate and dedicated fanbase as Frank Turner does. Since 2017, he has held an annual pilgrimage known as Lost Evenings. 4 days of activities based on the man himself punctuated by 4 headline sets each offering something different.

Last years event in Berlin was cancelled for obvious reasons and with the world not out of the woods yet Turner has chosen to return to the spiritual home of the event, Camden.

Whilst the main event takes place at the legendary Roundhouse, the festival takes over most of Camden. There are multiple stages of music, pop up gigs, panels, tattoos and much more.

THURSDAY

So let’s start unpacking the events of Lost Evenings 4! The event commenced on Thursday for the solo show of the weekend. No Sleeping Souls (well, just one – Matt Nasir on mandolin), as Turner explores some of the hidden gems of his back catalogue.

There are two fantastic support slots on the main stage from Emily Barker and Grace Petrie. Two incredible musicians who both manage to grab the audience with both hands, each joining the other during their sets as they encapsulate the spirit of the event.

Throughout the weekend Beans on Toast acts as master of ceremonies introducing each act. Next he welcomes Turner for the first of four occasions!

Turner and Nasir proceed to serenade the partisan audience who relish the opportunity to hear a few lesser played numbers. Turner states that he will endeavour to repeat only a few songs over the weekend.

Thursday highlights include new single ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’, the emotional ‘A Wave Across A Bay’, rarer numbers ‘Losing Days’, ‘Substitute’, ‘Tattoos’, ‘Josephine’ and special sing-a-long cover ‘Somebody To Love’ with Turner joined by Petrie and Barker. All in all a great way to start the festival.

FRIDAY

Friday sees Turner joined by his band The Sleeping Souls for a set billed as “the first three albums plus new songs”.

As far as support goes we start with the new – PET NEEDS. The young band from Colchester showcase tracks from their brilliant debut album including ‘Toothpaste’, ‘Pavlovian’ and ‘Tracey Emin’s Bed’, which receive big reactions from the crowd.

Read our review of ‘Fractured Party Music’ from PET NEEDS

Next up it’s something old with longtime Turner contemporary Jamie Lenman joining the party. Given the theme of the evening you’d assume those in attendance would be aware of Turners hardcore past, but there are more than a few deer in headlights reactions to Lenman’s hard and heavy outing. It is however an excellent performance that ensures any first night hangovers are blown away.

It’s then Turner time again and tonight we get a carefully curated set of early favourites. Fans again get some rarer tracks from the vault including ‘Live Fast Die Old’, ‘Once We Were Anarchists’, ‘Back In The Day’, ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the One of Me’, ‘To Take You Home’, ‘Nashville Tennessee’, ‘Imperfect Tense’ and ‘Sons of Liberty’.

There is also a special section where fans get to hear three new songs from upcoming album ‘FTHC’ in the shape of ‘Non Serviam’, ‘Punches’ and ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ again.

Listen to ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ on our Spotify Hot List!

The night is rounded off by ‘I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous’, ‘Father’s Day’, ‘St. Christopher Is Coming Home’ and ‘Photosynthesis’ sending the crowd home happy.

SATURDAY

Saturday now and we first head to the Lock Tavern for an Xtra Mile Recordings takeover with special acoustic sets from PET NEEDS, BERRIES and Johnny Lloyd.

Both BERRIES and PET NEEDS play delightful sets to a packed room which go down very well. Sadly it is then announced that Johnny Lloyd is unable to make it. Thankfully master of ceremonies Beans On Toast is on hand to play an impromptu set.

As expected Beans On Toast has the audience in the palm of his hand as he regales them with tales and songs relating to Camden. A lovely afternoon that represents all that is great about Lost Evenings.

It’s very quickly time to head to the Roundhouse for round number three, which on Saturday sees Turner play his seminal album ‘England Keep My Bones’ in full.

Watch Frank Turner on Episode 1 of the Full Pelt Music Podcast!

Before we get there we have two more fantastic support acts. First up this evening is the highly entertaining The Lottery Winners. With their catchy songs and endearing onstage banter, the group are a delightful opening act.

Next the incredible Nova Twins take to the stage and initially elicit somewhat of the same response as Lenman the day before. However by the end of their set they have captured the imagination of the whole crowd. Nova Twins future is bright and on the evidence of tonight it shouldn’t be long before they are headlining venues this size.

The next may well be the most hotly anticipated performance of the entire weekend. The main man playing, in full, an album that catapulted his career and won a legion of fans. Those in attendance know that this will be special…

..And special it is! Not just said album in full but all accompanying b-sides and associated tracks. From the moment Turner takes to the stage and opens with ‘Sailors Boots’ the energy in the room of immense. This is only amplified when playing the likes of ‘I Am Disappeared’, ‘One Foot Before the Other’, ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’, ‘Redemption’ and ‘I Still Believe’.

Joined at times by string and horn sections the finale sees everything come together with ‘Eulogy’, ‘If Ever I Stray’ and ‘Glory Hallelujah’ delivering a memorable and worthy finale to the evening.

SUNDAY

The final day of the festival is billed as the greatest hits day. Turner who has kept to his promise to limit repeats, has held back some of his most loved songs. But first, Guise! Fronted by Jess Guise, the band do a great job warming up the crowd. They may be on home turf with Guise married to Turner, but it’s their music that earns the fans adoration come the end of their set.

Our last support act of the weekend is another band Turner fans are familiar with. Skinny Lister are possibly the perfect band to raise any tired spirits after a busy weekend. They bring the party, get the crowd moving and ensure the stage is set for Turner to close out the event in style

Read our review of Frank Turner live at Coda, Colchester

Tonight’s mission statement is clear from Turner – send the fans home happy. ‘Get Better’, ‘1933’ and ‘Little Changes’ kick off a set full of fan favourites.

In a well structured set list Turner includes some lesser played favourites such as ‘Thatcher Fucked The Kids’ and ‘Glorious You’. From start to finish he has the audience in the palm of his hand.

The encore of ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’, ‘Photosynthesis’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘Four Simple Words’ provides just the ending required to what has been another incredible weekend.

As we said at the start, not many artists could create and sell out a weekend like Lost Evenings, but Turner has built something very special and Lost Evenings 5 is surely in the pipeline already!

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Read our feature on the ‘Independent Venue Love’ series from Frank Turner

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Live Reviews

FIVE4FIVE FEST

Friday 18th – Saturday 19th December 2020

Five4Five Fest makes triumphant return to help #SaveOurVenues!

Back at the height of the initial national lockdown, a streamed festival entitled Five4Five Fest did two things. It provided much needed entertainment to struggling music fans and raised money for heroic NHS workers.

Now in Lockdown version 364 or something like that, the festival returns to once again provide an escape from the horrors of real life. This time the event is raising money for a cause close to home for music lovers, the Music Venue Trust and the Save Our Venues campaign. We recently wrote about the reasons why this support is desperately needed in our blog Why We Need To #SaveOurVenues.

As with the May event, Five4Five Fest takes place over a Friday and Saturday night with an array of musical talent performing from their homes/garages and this time even a school! The festivities are streamed across multiple channels and at present you can still catch up on demand on Youtube here.

There are probably fewer ‘household’ names on the line-up this time around, but there is no lack in talent. The Friday kicks off with a gentle performance from Paper Mill who include former Lower Than Atlantis guitarist Ben Sansom. There are more sombre moments to follow with both Holiday Oscar and Rob Lynch serenading us with emotionally charged songs including Lynch’s hauntingly festive school assembly set.

There is plenty of rocking to be done too however, with headliners Yonaka particularly bringing the party with the likes of ‘Rockstar’ and ‘F.W.T.B.’. Yonaka are stars and deservedly close the Friday night. To end night one, we are treated by the band to a festive outing of ‘Last Christmas’.

Both nights include afterparty DJ’s for those at home looking to continue the party. In true festival fashion there is also merch available at five4fivefest.com. There are also numerous raffle prizes all raising money for the Save Our Venues campaign.

Onto Saturday and the lineup for day two is certainly louder with the fantastic Haggard Cat blowing away any cobwebs. Nova Twins and Hacktivist both also deliver the goods before a slight change in pace with the brilliant Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly.

The event is closed out by two fine young bands Normandie and finally Holding Absence. Again both performances provide great entertainment for those watching from home and whet the appetite for the return of live music.

The sad reality is however that many of the venues that these bands will frequent may not be around when music can finally return. They haven’t been properly supported by the government and they desperately need support. The good news is that you can help, by donating to the #SaveOurVenues campaign.

Once again Five4Five Fest has been a massive success and over the two evenings has showcased some amazing young talent. With your support and with hopes of battling this virus raised by recent vaccine announcements, lets hope and pray that soon enough we are able to return to watching these bands in our favourite venues!

You can still watch Five4Five fest and until Monday 27th December 2020, you can still donate, buy merch and enter raffles at five4fivefest.com.