Sharon Van Etten Sharon Van Etten’s (SVE) four piece band (drums; bass; two keyboards) take the stage and a stark drum beat sets the scene for a minute or three. The cool promise of ecstasy fills the air before Sharon appears with just microphone in hand and belts out the line: ‘our love’s for real’. Everything about her is unrecognisable from when I last saw her seven years ago at the Queen’s Club in Sheffield. She’s embraced the classic rocker look - think Chrissie Hynde - shorn black hair; tattoos, red lippy and leather pants but what is remarkable is the confidence, swagger and sheer energy that she brings to the performance. Her moves are positively Jagger-esque (‘touching your face’) and tightly choreographed as she poses for the cameras and commands eye contact. The sound is bigger, darker, keyboard heavy and mostly guitar free.


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Graham Nash Opened in 1901 the Victoria Theatre provides a splendid venue for Graham Nash’s visit to Halifax. Now aged 77 years Nash’s trim figure and bone-white mop of hair puts all of his former collaborators and most of tonight’s audience to shame. He has aged well. More importantly the voice has barely changed… he hits the high notes on ‘A Day in the Life’ in a way that McCartney and Young can now only dream of.


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Jonathan Wilson Jonathan Wilson has not played here before but some of his pals have rightly endorsed the venue. Wilson is much smitten by the surrounding topography which he likens to his home in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles, albeit without the bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions. There are plenty of sheep in Hebden Bridge as a consequence.


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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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The Unthanks The Trades Club is a socialist members cooperative in alt.Yorkshire’s Hebden Bridge... a hip, chilled out mill town noted for its liberal vibe and motley mixture of artists, alternative practitioners, New Age activists, LGBTs and urban commuters in search of the good life. This cosy venue is a natural home to The Unthanks who’ve played here on several occasions; indeed, as Becky remarks, she once lived here in the town.


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Roy Harper “As long as I can skip I will be coming back” were Roy Harper’s closing remarks as he playfully skipped off the stage as if he were a five year old. Heart warming and poignant it was a fitting end to what is billed as ‘The Last Tour: 50 Years of Monumental Classics’.


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Seth Lakeman It has been a little over a year since Seth Lakeman last appeared at the Picturedrome. Judging by the familial welcome the packed house gives him, most were here last time around with a few more (like me) who were introduced to his viola and fiddle talents when supporting Robert Plant’s band on the recent Carry Fire tour of Europe and North America.


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The Decemberists Against an impressive backdrop of a skull with swirling eyes surrounded by serpents the band enter to the accompaniment ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. For the stage play Greig intended the tune as a dream like fantasy to mark Peer Gynt’s entrance into the troll king’s hall. It is an appropriate choice for The Decemberists as they embark on an evening of whimsy, fantasy and irony.


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Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Built in 1908 and Grade II listed, Manchester’s Albert Hall is another of those cherished Edwardian community buildings that are enjoying new life as a live music venue. The horseshoe gallery of the former Methodist chapel looks out towards a magnificent organ directly below which stand Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.


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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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Jonathan Wilson Six months after his last UK appearance, Jonathan Wilson is back in town with what looks to be a different band and an ever so slightly improved video backdrop. Three keyboardists are in the line-up including Drew Erickson who played with Wilson as part of Roger Waters’ touring band. Ny Oh’s backing vocals are a particularly welcome addition. The setlist is largely unchanged (notably ‘Dear Friend’ is substituted for ‘Moses Pain’) and focusses on his recent Rare Birds album.


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British Summer Time Hyde Park Ft. Eric Clapton This is the sixth year of British Summer Time concerts in Hyde Park and the sustained quality of acts suggests that there will be many more to come. Four axe men of the highest calibre grace the Great Oak Stage on this hot steamy sold-out Sunday before culminating with headliner Eric Clapton.


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Steve Winwood I declare I’ve been a big fan of Steve Winwood ever since Traffic’s appearance at Lancaster University in 1974. Yet tonight’s show is something of a mixed bag. Sat behind his Hammond Organ for the first three numbers it is clear that this ‘vintage’ seventy year old has lost none of his distinctive and distinguished vocal chops.


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Laura Veirs Manchester’s music scene is buzzing. Last night it was the old guard – Patti Smith at the Apollo; The Rolling Stones and Richard Ashcroft playing at Old Trafford. Tonight LCD Soundsystem grace the Apollo and here at the Deaf Institute we have American singer-songwriter, Laura Veirs.


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