Muse Muse are on the crest of a wave. A gargantuan, 20 year wave that just continues to grow in awesome! Last night they smashed it out of the park in typical Muse style. Big, brash and gloriously splendid. True, we had to photograph the gig from amongst the baying throngs of loyal fans but that mattered not a jot. Muse could be shot from the back of the carpark with an Instant Kodak and still look imperious. enjoy.


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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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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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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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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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Anna Calvi Anna Calvi is an artist who seemed to emerge fully-formed with her acclaimed debut album in 2011. Winning early endorsement from luminaries like Brian Eno and Bill Ryder-Jones, she played support gigs for the likes of Nick Cave and The Arctic Monkeys before she had even released an album. The debit album spectacularly demonstrated her abilities as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, as well as demonstrating a trend-setting grasp of style and presentation in the vein of early Roxy Music. Her third album, ‘Hunter’, was released in 2018.


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Boat To Row The Castle and Falcon is undergoing something of a renaissance within the Birmingham music scene. Its industrial brick walled cavern of a gig room has played host to artists such as Cloud Nothings, Boy Azooga, Deap Vally and Yak, in the past year alone. The thought of heading down for my latest fix of music in one of Birmingham’s more intriguing venues really pulls me through an arduous day of work. Boat To Row will headline proceedings, with the undercard being Katherine Priddy and Faux Palms. I must say, I've not seen any of them live before but let’s see what I’m in for.


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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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The Cat Empire It's a lovely sunny day - leaving the beach - feeling in the mood for a bit of those Cat Empire vibes. Tonight they are playing at The Lemon Grove in Exeter, I'm looking forward to this gig for a couple of reasons, The first one being that The Cat Empire have a great reputation for their live shows and the second one being that the Lemon Grove is a tiny venue by TCE standards, so I was looking forward to seeing them in a smaller, more intimate room.


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Doves After a 9 year hiatus that came at a time when the Manchester band had just achieved a seldom seen kid breakthrough of their own with Kingdom Of Rust, Jimi, Jez and Andy, aka Doves are back. Their show at Somerset House proved that the band have picked up exactly where they left off, and reminded us why they are one of the greatest British bands of modern times.


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