Brass Against 9 times out of 10 Facebook’s suggested posts are just wallpaper that get unceremoniously scrolled passed, but seeing one for a brass band playing Cochise as a tribute to Chris Cornell caught my eye – as a massive fan of his – and it blew me away. That was my introduction to Brass Against and I was instantly hooked. So getting the chance to see them live was something I wasn’t going to miss.


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Kamasi Washington “Let’s Do It”, announces Kamasi Washington, as he and his band take the stage at Manchester's Academy. The venue has a fine pedigree starting life in the sixties with jazzers such as Humphrey Lyttelton before embracing the likes of Hendrix, The Who, Cream and Pink Floyd. An audience of around one thousand are here tonight, mostly students. Some are here out of curiosity but most will be familiar with Washington’s contributions to fellow Angelino Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly – that landmark 2015 chart topper which fused hip-hop with jazz and opened up the genre to a new young audience.


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Manic Street Preachers It seems almost a cliche at this point for artists to play older albums in full, relying on nostalgia to bring in the audience for a quick cash grab. However that’s not always the case, some do it for the right reasons, making it a celebration for themselves and the fans. The best example of this at the moment is the Manic Street Preachers, who over the past few years have been playing a slew of excellent 20th anniversary shows of their 90’s albums.


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Sting & Shaggy They go together like cats and motorways as Alexei Sayle would say, and yet this strange reggae/rock combo works live better than anyone could have imagined. Let’s face it, Sting is a little dry in the humour stakes, Shaggy is the yin to his yang in that nothing is actually serious for him. Shaggy plays the role of warm up man, frequently getting the crowd hyped up, clapping, singing and screaming, while Sting is being Sting, wearing a tight black T shirt showing off a trim muscled bod for a 67-year-old but rarely speaking or smiling too much (unless Shaggy is thrusting his groin forward towards him – in which case he makes a run for it).


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Idlewild Before tonight's gig to promote their new album 'Interview Music', if anyone had asked me how long headline act Idlewild had been performing, I would have never have said that they started in 1995. 24-years has rocketed by for me, but for them they appear to be very fresh indeed.  In fact, if we take a moment to reflect on their careers: starting about the same time as Coldplay, the whole music scene itself feels as though it has slowly but surely moved away from Coldplay's more relaxed style, to where Idlewild have been "at" for all their career.


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Dropkick Murphys The boys are back, the boys are back, the boys are back and they’re looking for trouble! Dropkick Murphys never disappoint for a night of high-energy fun celtic-folk-punk style.


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Sleaford Mods Sleaford Mods. Don’t let the band name mislead you. Sleaford Mods can’t be pigeon holed as a ‘mod band’ - because they're not. Their vocalist Jason Williamson has described their sound in the past as "electronic munt minimalist punk-hop rants for the working class.” They are certainly political, and certainly of the people. Yet in an interview with Channel 4 (2015) Williamson has alternatively said that he doesn’t want the music to be described as working class - as when you're talking about alienation or unemployment there really shouldn’t be that assumption, or stereotype.


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James "We're gonna play you some miserable songs cause your Birmingham and way too happy" observed frontman Tim Booth as James opened with a 40 minute acoustic set, stripped back bare to entertain the masses that had come to the Birmingham Academy tonight for the sold out show.


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Mayday Parade 12 years after their Scottish debut, Mayday Parade returned to join forces with The Wonder Years for a co-headline tour around the UK, kicking off at the O2 Academy in Glasgow on Saturday night. With four bands taking to the stage over four hours, ticket holders were in for a mega-bill of a treat which included support slots from rockers Movements and New York's Pronoun.


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Clutch It’s been a while since I’ve been completely blown away by a support band, and actually the last Clutch support that really did that was Clutch when they supported themselves as The Bakerton Group, but tonight both supports managed to do exactly that.


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DMA's The hordes of Burberry wearing, lager drinking, hugely partisan crowd are here for one thing and one thing only. Like the Courteeners before them, DMA’s have developed a rabid following despite indifference from the mainstream music media. The fact that they are already selling out O2 Academy’s across the country despite only releasing their first album Hills End in 2016 is a testament to their popularity.


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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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Courtney Barnett It was a bitterly cold Monday night in an empty Birmingham city centre. A symptom perhaps of the Black Friday shopping frenzy which it seems that we have ‘culturally appropriated’ from our friends across the pond which was happening later the same week? Not surprisingly the O2 Academy reflected this being half full for the visit of one Miss Courtney Barnett; the lady with the coolest middle name in rock.


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Jessie J The premise behind Jessie J's R.O.S.E. tour is a really clever and well executed one. 4 sets within a gig each sectioned with a title that spells out R.O.S.E. the name of her most recent album, which was released in 4 parts across four days in May of this year.


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