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Mostly Jazz Funk and Soul Festival, Birmingham, UK – 10th, 11th and 12th July 2015

Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival in Birmingham, 10 + 11 + 12 July 2015
Want to know how great this year’s Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival was? Try this for size… Public Enemy rolled up on Friday to headline that night and loved it so much they came back on Saturday to watch Roy Ayers before heading over to the Moseley Dance Centre for the after show. Rumours that they’re recording DO Believe The Hype as the festival’s new official anthem are still unconfirmed but if you see Flavor Flav queuing up in the Kingfisher Fish and Chip Bar anytime soon don’t be surprised.

Young Fathers + Kojey Radical @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 3 June 2015

Young Fathers
From winning both the Mercury Prize and the Scottish Album of the Year Awards in 2014 (for Dead and Tape Two respectively) through to earning the kind of gushing praise that’s normally reserved for visiting deities Edinburgh’s Young Fathers seemingly came from nowhere. They’ve actually been a going concern since hooking up at an under 16s hip hop night in 2008 though, fusing three distinctly different backgrounds (Liberia via Ghana, Maryland and Drylaw, apparently a suburb on the outskirts of Edinburgh…who says the internet ain’t educational eh?) to create something that’s undeniably different. And at this stage in musical evolution development that’s a pretty rare thing indeed.

Saint Saviour + Bill Ryder-Jones @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 8 December 2014

Saint Saviour
With some deservedly impressive reviews rolling in for her latest album, In The Seams, there’s a better turn out for tonight’s gig at the Hairy Hounds than there was back in 2012 when Saint Saviour last played here. At that time she was seriously considering packing touring in altogether as, in common with a sadly growing number of artists, she was pretty much doing everything herself which is undoubtedly (a) pretty ruddy time consuming and (b) soul destroying if the turnout’s a little, ahem, slim.

John Grant and the Royal Northern Sinfonia at The Town Hall, Birmingham, UK – 24th November 2014

John Grant
Having last toured the UK in 2013 in support of the distinctly electro flavoured Pale Green Ghosts album Grant’s back this time with a modest, ahem, 34 piece orchestra in tow. It makes sense though given the lushness of that voice and the soaring songs (many of which focus on Grant’s struggles to come to terms with himself, his life and his loves) that practically cry out for the gravitas that only a full fat orchestra can really deliver. The venue’s pretty perfect too, Brum’s grand old Town Hall, a Victorian Grade I listed building that’s seen everyone from Charles Dickens to Black Sabbath do their thang (although sadly not on the same night).

Kate Tempest + Loyle Carner and Rebel Clef + Mahalia @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 16 November 2014

Kate Tempest
Poet, rapper, playwright, novelist, Mercury nominee, winner of the prestigious Ted Hughes Award, inventor of a cure for the common cold (okay, so the last one was made up but frankly you wouldn’t put it past her)…for many Kate Tempest has seemingly sprung from nowhere over the past year or so. The reality’s radically different but no less impressive…

Norman Watt-Roy & Friends + The Standard Lamps @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 15 October 2014

Norman Watt-Roy
Ian Dury and The Blockheads, The Clash, Madness, Nick Lowe, Rodger Daltrey, Nick Cave, Frankie Goes To Hollywood…as CVs go that’s not a bad line up eh? In a career that’s lasted 47 years and counting Norman Watt-Roy’s been the face with the bass and, despite being just a couple of years away from collecting his pension, he’s showing no signs of slowing down, in fact this is his second gig at the Hare and Hounds in less than 12 months.‘Watt’ a trooper.

July Talk + Hidden Charms @ The Institute, Birmingham, UK – 29 September 2014

Just Talk
After fighting our way through the infighting Tories currently polluting the good streets of Brum and dozens of Horrors fans (they were also playing The Institute tonight…The Horrors that is, not the Tories…) the relative peace and tranquillity of The Temple (think of it as The Institute’s loft conversion) came as a blessed relief. Of course you can have too much peace and quiet though.

Moseley Folk Festival 2014, Birmingham, UK – Friday 29th – Sunday 31st August 2014

The Waterboys
Would Morrissey pop along for a quick guest appearance during Johnny Marr’s set (ahem…)? Would Richard Thompson ride onto the stage on a Vincent Black Lightening 1952? And would The Waterboys show us the whole of their moon…yes…it’s Moseley Folk Festival time again!

IndieTracks 2014 at Midland Railway Centre, near Ripley, Derbyshire – 25/26/27 July 2014

Cool music, lovely people, real ale, steam trains, sun…sun…even more sun…wouldn’t the country be a better place if it was run by the good folk behind Indietracks and the bands who played? Yes, yes it would. MJ Hibbert would be Secretary of State for Education, Hidden Cameras would be in charge of the armed forces and Gruff Rhys would be Prime Minister, although given his wonderfully laid back drawl and thoughtful pondering Prime Minister’s Question Time may well last a week.

Hall & Oates + Longfellow at The Symphony Hall, Birmingham UK – 22nd July 2014

Hall & Oates
With huge hits, these guys permeated the radio during the 80s and took over MTV. We know all the words, we sang all the songs. So as a blast from the past we have the luxury of spending a beautiful summers eve in the delectable Symphony Hall, with guys who have the acclaimed status of being the number one selling duo in history* (*RIAA) – we’ve here for a bit of Hall & Oates.

Larkin Poe + Jayne Powell and Chris Tye @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 30 June 2014

Larkin Poe
Okay, quick quiz for you…how many famous ‘Poes’ can you name? Go on…if you’re lucky you might just come up with the one, the granddaddy of horror himself Mr Edgar Allen Poe. Even so I was more than mildly surprised to discover that tonight’s band, Larkin Poe (sisters Rebecca and Megan) are actually related (albeit distantly) to the dude behind The Raven, The Tell Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher (serves him right for releasing rubbish records…). Cool eh? Formerly trading as The Lovell Sisters (that’s the sister’s surname, Larkin Poe was their great, great, great grandfather and cousin of Edgar), Larkin Poe have been around since 2010 and tonight they’re fresh from Glastonbury…well as fresh as you can be after spending several days ankle deep in mud and…er…other ‘stuff’…I guess.

Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox @ The Institute, Birmingham, UK – 16 June 2014

Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox
Okay, so imagine if Lady Gaga had hung around the Noo Yoik jazz clubs of the 30s and 40s or if Robin Thicke had been ‘blurring lines’ in Appalachia back in the 50s? That, in essence, is the brilliant but simple premise behind Postmodern Jukebox, take ‘modern’ pop songs and re-imagine them adding a little (or in most cases a lot) more musical magic all with a distinctively vintage twist. To quote the chap behind it, US jazz musician Scott Bradlee, it’s all about the creation of “an alternate pop universe” (and let’s face it some of today’s pop songs…and their singers…could certainly do with being transported to an alternate universe at times). It’s been pretty ruddy successful too, with one of the group’s best efforts, a heartbreakingly poignant cover of Lorde’s Royals sung by a 7ft tall clown (yep, seriously), picking up almost 8million hits on You Tube to date…and all without the aid of breakdancing kittens, grannies battering would be muggers or drunk frat boys falling off roofs. Impressive eh? Now, after a sell out US tour, the Jukebox has popped over the Atlantic for a mere handful of dates, one of which is in Brum’s suitably vintage Institute.

White Denim + Deathcrush at The Glee Club, Birmingham, UK – 26th May 2014

White Denim
White Denim may not be ‘sassy’ and I’m not convinced they bring a ‘cool trash aesthetic’ either but one thing they do do (not dodo, that’s just a big extinct bird…) is…pause for dramatic effect…ROCK. Hell yeah! Ahem. In fact within just a couple of seconds of opening track Pretty Green they’d managed to blow a transformer. Now that’s ROCK.

Courtney Barnett + Honeyblood @ The Hare and Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 18 May 2014

Courtney Barnett
I was pretty much sold on Courtney Barnett from the moment I discovered that one of her songs was called Avant Gardener. Clever. I do love a good pun. Happily the track’s as impressive as the title which, despite a still relatively low profile over here in the UK (Courtney’s from Melbourne), probably explains why this gig at the Hare and Hounds sold out a while back.