Friendly Fires A lot has changed in the 8 years since Friendly Fires last played Birmingham. When the band announced they were returning with new album 'Inflorescent', they owed the second city a long overdue visit.


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Spiritualized With the sumptuous surroundings of Hackney Empire; red velvet curtains and a few flickering candles front of stage hinted at what was to be revealed, the anticipation for something very special was palpable! This Spiritualized gig was part of ‘Somewhere Festival’ launched by an art collective in Tokyo, now touring bringing unique performances in classic theatres with their trademark 1001 candles.


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Yo La Tengo Yo La Tengo (YLT) have been around for some 35 years and have 15 studio albums to their credit. Since Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed the band they’ve had 14 bass players, but James McNew has occupied that spot since 1992, so they are now a very stable musical trio. When asked later how the band manages to be so relaxed on stage they agree that it’s down to their confidence in each other as musicians.


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JAWS Having released four sonically diverse singles and ahead of their highly anticipated fourth album and return, JAWS announced a quartet of live dates around the UK. Calling at Glasgow, Manchester, London and finally their hometown of Birmingham, the shows were curiously large for the band and after following their meteoric rise as a completely unsigned band, I was intrigued to see how they matched up to these larger venues at their Birmingham date.


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The Joy Formidable A slightly humid Thursday night was home to a tiny Welsh invasion in the O2 Institute’s third room. Rockers The Joy Formidable had returned to the venue nine years after playing it last.


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Wild Nothing The unusual New Orleans setting of Mama Roux’s housed Wild Nothing supporting their new album ‘Indigo’. It felt like we were in the French Quarter, but tonight was all about the Virginia based Jack Tautum who is the sole studio recording member of the band.


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Wand There are few bands that master dynamics quite like Wand. Performing at the Hare & Hounds in Birmingham, the LA outfit brought their music to life with the spirited energy that they've become renowned for.


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The Brian Jonestown Massacre It’s almost time for The Brian Jonestown Massacre to take the stage. How do I know? I know because an extremely enthusiastic fan spots someone backstage and cries, “Here it is! Denim on denim!” Oh my. That’s nothing on Anton Newcombe’s deerstalker. Newcombe is general emperor, vocalist, and one of the guitarists. They have many guitarists, and many, many, many guitars. They’re living proof that there’s no such thing as too many guitars or sunglasses. There are seven band members on stage in total, and the majority of them are wearing sunglasses. I can only assume that they’re going for the too-cool stoic look. (Either that or they’re hiding an infection).


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Qujaku A Kushikatsu Records event always promises to be just that little bit different from most other events. Specialising in promoting Japanese acts over here in the UK since 2016, Kushikatsu have put on a diverse array of bands over in the last 2 years, from J-Punk, J-Rock, J-Pop and J-Psych groups, such as Mutant Monster, Shonen Knife, Touch My Secret, Kikagaku Moyo, Hibushibire and Necronomdol to name a few.


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Yo La Tengo There’s a unique charm to Yo La Tengo, one they’ve possessed throughout the full span of their decades-long career, and is evident as ever on their latest album, ‘There’s A Riot Going On’.


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The Horrors The Horrors return with their monstrous new album ‘V’, exhibiting class & creativity on their latest UK tour. The boys from Southend-on-Sea delighted Birmingham with a real swagger about them. An indulgent performance that stimulated the senses & entertained throughout.


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Lush Tonight is a truly momentous occasion as Lush play their last ever gig. These legendary purveyors of ‘shoegaze’ originally split in 1996 after the sad death of drummer Chris Acland, but reformed last year to record an EP and play UK, European and US dates. However, with bassist Phil King’s recent decision to quit, the band have finally decided to call it a day. For tonight’s final gig, front-women Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson and drummer (since the band reformed) Justin Welch are joined by Modern English bassist Michael Conroy.


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The Horrors The Horrors have recently released their fourth album, ‘Luminous’, having made their name with their own brand of krautrock influenced indie-goth-garage-psychedelia. So we expect a pretty spaced-out evening, with mind-bending, swirling, trancey guitar (from Joshua Hayward) and synthesizer (from Tom Cowan), presided over centre-stage by the tall and lean, spikey-haired, black-clad figure of lead singer Faris Badwan, with his distinctive deep, dead-pan, vocals. And this is what we get.


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The Brian Jonestown Massacre The Brian Jonestown Massacre is a cult band with a complex history and notoriety that precedes them. The band is led by Anton Newcombe, whose temperamental disposition and various addictions have been well documented throughout the band’s long recording history, plus founding members Matt Hollywood and Ricky Maymi and longstanding members Joel Gion, Dan Allaire, Rob Campanella, Frankie “Teardrop” Emerson, and Collin Hegna. Needless to say, it is a tight squeeze on the Academy 2’s stage as all eight take their places and begin Whoever You Are in a composed manner, demonstrating none of the chaos that ensued in their earlier career.


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