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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Skunk Anansie The atmosphere in the Manchester Academy was electric as the crowd waited for returning heroes Skunk Anansie to play a career spanning mega set.


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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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Prophets of Rage It says a lot that even a tyre blowing out on the motorway and 2 hours waiting to be rescued at 1am in the morning and getting just 3 hours sleep before setting off to work couldn’t kill the feeling that I had just seen, for me, the gig of the year... Prophets of Rage at Manchester Academy.


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Boomtown​ Chapter 11 On a weekend where torrential rain and storm predictions caused numerous festivals to cancel due to health and safety issues, Hampshire’s Boomtown showed why 65,000 revellers make the journey every year for this festival of fun and frolics, not even storms could put a dampener on the delights Winchester has to offer.


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Fairport's Cropredy Convention Everyday there is a cavalry charge at Cropredy when the gates open. But these aren't your standard gig junkies wanting to plant their elbows on the stage. These are regulars with camping chairs and picnic blankets looking for the best seated view half-way up the slope in front of the mixing desk. If you never felt more like sitting the blues this Oxfordshire festival is the one for you.


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Jess Glynne Having developed a bit of a reputation for cancelling gigs, I was a little apprehensive that the unpredictable weather conditions on Saturday may have prompted the 29-year-old singer-songwriter to ‘do an Isle of Wight’ (she was banned from the festival for life in June after cancelling her performance right before she was due on stage) and pull out at the last minute.


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Johnny Marr I'm back at the Royal Festival Hall for part two of my Meltdown residency and as if Johnny Marr wasn't enough, the criminally overlooked Mystery Jets are here to offer support.


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Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein It's Meltdown at the Royal Festival Hall and courtesy of curator Nile Rodgers, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of Austin synth band S U R V I V E are in town for the live, World Premiere of the soundtrack to Stranger Things 3. Rodgers himself is on stage to introduce the band, apparently Stranger Things is his favourite show.


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Kylie Minogue Once upon a time there was a young man who fell in love with an australian car mechanic, but she chose to live her life with another man and his technicolour dream coat. So imagine my surprise that on the greatest day of the year, Brighton Pride: A day where the whole city comes together to stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ+ family, I finally get to see Kylie Minogue headlining the festival as a shining beacon of peace and love.


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Nile Rodgers & CHIC Meltdown is the longest running artist-curated music festival in the world. This year is it curated by the legend that is Nile Rodgers. I don’t use the word 'Legend' frivolously - he is a three-time Grammy award winner as well as recently been inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. There is no doubt that Nile Rodgers is truly exceptional. But more important that any of that – this man knows how to throw a party! Nile Rodgers & CHIC are opening the festival to a sold-out audience and a good time is guaranteed.


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Ludovico Einaudi The master of minimalism brings his latest craft, ‘Seven Days Walking’, to life. In a rare string of UK dates, Ludovico Einaudi is joined by Federico Mecozzi on violin and Redi Hasa on cello for seven sold-out nights at London’s prestigious performing arts hub, The Barbican Centre.


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Boomtown's Green Mission for 2019 Boomtown's main priority for this year is to focus fully on what they can do within the festival and their audience reach, they have been completely rethinking the event in every aspect to radically reduce the impact. For 2019 and beyond, they are putting the imminent environmental crisis front and centre of their messaging and deep into the fabric of their event planning and infrastructure.


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