White Lies White Lies cascaded into Birmingham for the final night of their UK Five tour before heading out to Europe and sell out shows in the Americas. The three piece from Ealing brought their synth fused indie style to the iconic Institute main room supported by Canada's Boniface, the crowd warmed up pretty quick as they were in for a treat tonight.


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Tears for Fears Two iconic acts of the 1980s - both of whom looked and sounded great - treated enthusiastic, nostalgia-hungry London fans to a heartwarming trip down memory lane in the grand setting of a packed out O2 arena, performing timeless classics that certainly got the crowd on their feet.


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John Grant Promoting the recently released ‘Love is Magic’ album, John Grant is finally undertaking a full tour, taking in both Europe and The States. He did of course tease the UK audience last year with a handful of shows and festival appearances, but it was only on the final dates of 2018 when he unleashed his full ‘Love is Magic’ set, and the Bath show was visually stunning and the first time I’ve known him to use background graphics.


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Clare Grogan's Altered Images Time for some 80’s Pop nostalgia and to see how my latter schooldays crush and poster girl Clare Grogan has fared in the 35 years since I last saw her perform live on the Altered Images ‘Pinky Blue’ tour. There are different layers of fandom with our Clare, for men of a certain age it was the quintessential girl next door charm shown in Gregory’s Girl, for others Dave Lister’s unrequited love interest Kristine Kochanski in Red Dwarf, maybe even singer Niamh Connolly in one episode of Father Ted. None of that is anything to do with a post punk pop songstress, but there is nothing but strong and loyal affection shown for this Glasgow girl.


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The Alarm Equals is the first studio album from The Alarm for eight years, of course in-between medical diagnoses and treatments, Mike Peters has toured as a solo performer, and personally for me, those shows are his most personal. To be stood within touching distance of the man is quite something, but tonight was an equal (forgive the pun) to those shows.


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Heaven 17 Heaven 17 never toured when The Luxury Gap album first came out even with it being their most successful album. It contains masterpieces such as Come Live With Me, Let Me Go, We Live So Fast and of course their most well-known track, Temptation. To hear it played live is an experience that should be on everyone’s bucket list. This is a phenomenal show and Glenn and Martyn know how to throw a party. The London leg of the tour was hosted at Shepherd’s Bush Empire – a favourite venue of the band. The tour is currently over halfway through and yet on this cold November night, London came out in droves, queuing up to see these 80’s legends. The audience were rewarded by Heaven 17 telling them that they were the best audience – apparently even better than Liverpool. The audience lapped it up.


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Metric Canadian-American four-piece, Metric, played their first ever headline show in Birmingham on Saturday, promoting their seventh album, ‘Art of Doubt’. Arriving at the O2 Institute almost two hours after doors opened, there were still quite a few people turning up to the sold-out venue (the first show on the tour to sell out completely). I had never been to this particular room of the Institute before; with its diagonal concrete beams holding up the ceiling and a complete lack of decor, it felt like we were buried en masse within the foundations of the building.


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Boy George and Culture Club I’d been planning on having a quiet night in, to be honest. It’s been a busy couple of weeks and a relaxed Friday of Netflix and wine would’ve been a nice detox. Obviously, though, how could I pass up the chance to see Culture Club? I don’t think I’d be able to resist the opportunity of seeing someone even half as iconic as Boy George on stage. A couple of times earlier in the day I mentioned that I’m going to see Culture Club – cue the widening of eyes and sharp intake of breath. Even my taxi driver was impressed.


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Killing Joke Killing Joke are a band you should know and if you don’t I can guarantee you’ve heard more than you think you have by them. Love Like Blood in particular is one of those instantly recognisable songs that you’ve probably heard a thousand times. They have been cited as an inspiration by many of the big names such as Trent Reznor, Metallica and Soundgarden. Dave Grohl was even their drummer for 2003's eponymous album.


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Glenn Tilbrook As Glenn Tilbrook says in his promotion for this tour, "It’s shameful that in the 21st century people can’t afford to put food on the table". This tour is intended to raise awareness of this sad situation and all proceeds from his 4 track EP and merchandise are being given to The Trussell Trust, who are working hard to try and make life better for a lot of people. His tour is currently covering the length and breadth of the UK and runs right through to April 2019. Full details of forthcoming dates are here.


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Echo & the Bunnymen Echo & the Bunnymen amble into York for the last night of the UK leg of the tour promoting new album ‘The Stars, The Ocean & The Moon’. As the title suggests (Stars Are Stars, Ocean Rain, The Killing Moon) the album is a reworking of old Bunnymen favourites (plus two new tracks), carefully picked by Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, the songs are given a more stripped back ethereal quality. It seems to have split the hardcore fanbase, in particular the transformation of ‘The Killing Moon’ into a piano and strings led ballad but it works. It really works. It’s also a brave move but over a forty year career The Bunnymen have never really played by the rules.


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Level 42 It was over 30 years since I last saw Level 42, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the passing time hasn’t diminished their powers what so ever. Mark King and Mike Lindup on keyboards are the 2 remaining members of the original line up which saw brother Phil and Boon Gould leave the band in the late 80’s, although Boon would continue to write new material for the band. Originally formed in in the late 70’s, Level 42 really hit the mark during the mid 80’s which saw the release of the albums ‘World Machine’ and ‘Running in the Family’. Their distinctive jazz funk sound was underpinned by the Mark Kings trademark slap bass technique which often took on the role typical given over to a lead guitarist.


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Graham Parker Tonight it is the turn of Graham Parker who last played the venue in 2015 and he clearly likes the place. Essentially a singer-songwriter GP emerged in the mid-seventies, along with class mates Elvis Costello and Nick Lowe, to great critical acclaim and went onto record over twenty studio albums. Distilling that down into tonight’s set list is no easy task and cherries like ‘Don’t Ask Me Questions’, ‘You Can’t Be Too Strong’ and ‘Passion is No Ordinary Word’ don’t get picked.


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Electric Six The kings of 2000s era comedy rock graced Leamington with their presence for a fun show full of their favourite hits and a couple of surprises from their albums since. We weren’t in a Gay Bar, but the Dance Commander implied there would be Danger! If there wasn’t any Improper Dancing going on by the end. Don’t know what I’m on about? That means you’ve not met Electric Six before.


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