Rita Ora What an amazing past 12 months it has been for Rita Ora, with ‘Phoenix’ marking her first solo album release in five years, the album has received numerous nominations and won awards even though it was only released in the latter half of 2018. ‘For You’ was one of the biggest hits of the year, not a day went by when you didn’t hear it at least three times on the radio, a headline slot at Manchester Pride and returning to the screen as Mia in the 50 Shades film series and just when you thought there was no end to the singer songwriter’s talents she transforms into Dr. Ann Laurent for Pokémon Detective Pikachu with latest offering ‘Carry On’ featuring on the soundtrack, appealing to a whole new set of fans. Not forgetting to mention numerous charity work and an announcement to appear for Soccer Aid this summer, it’s so easy to see why people love her.


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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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HOMESHAKE It’s been six years since Peter Sagar aka HOMESHAKE released his first cassette to the world. His reputation as a master of the chill wave sound has continued to grow with each of the four albums released since then. Returning to the Hare & Hounds for the second time, I was intrigued to see how his new album ‘Helium’ would translate to the live setting.


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Michael Bublé “I truly believe that if I do my job right tonight, I can turn this big arena into a little club. So, ladies and gentlemen, I ask you to join me tonight, because we’re going to celebrate love.” Those are the words of Michael Bublé as he addresses his sold-out crowd on the opening night of the UK leg of his brand new tour, An Evening with Michael Bublé at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena.


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BEAK> There is a substantial amount of kit on stage that needs manoeuvring before BEAK> can start their set, but this is done swiftly and efficiently so that the banter may begin. Surprisingly, BEAK> are ridiculously entertaining between songs in a slightly old-school Top Gear style, by making jokes at each other's expense which starts as soon as they walk on to the stage.


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Sam Fender Some might say that it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of a year for Sam Fender. Since releasing his debut single 18 months ago, the 24-year-old has been listed on the BBC’s Sound of 2018 Award, picked up a prestigious BRITS Critics’ Choice Award and sold out venues across the country. Quite a feat for an artist that’s yet to even release their debut album.


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Mini Mansions Swaggering through their suave suits, Mini Mansions balance their smooth coolness with pure energy at Birmingham’s Hare and Hounds.


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Ten Tonnes It’s 5.30pm and a small crowd has hurried into a corner of Birmingham’s HMV store. The reason? To catch glimpse of one of the country’s rising stars Ten Tonnes.


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The Vamps Before we knew it The Vamps arrived on the stage behind a curtain casting silhouette shapes before dropping to the floor revealing Brad who surprised the crowd with ‘Just My Type’. The opening track for the evening had the crowd singing loudly and dancing non-stop from the get go.


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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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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 Blinders It’s not often that Birmingham gets the opening night of the tour, so when it does happen it’s an unmissable occasion. thankfully Doncaster’s finest The Blinders chose Birmingham for the kick off of their 2019 UK and Europe dates. Just like Birmingham’s own Peaky Blinders this gang are not to be messed with, they have already proved themselves a formidable live band with the tunes to back them up. Now it was time for them to be unleashed onto Digbeth.


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Newton Faulkner So it’s clear what we’re in for and boy, does he deliver. When Newton Faulkner appears for his set, the audience are immediately enamoured. He clamours onto a platform underneath the scaffold and takes a seat, surrounded by his now uncovered tools and instruments. I notice no shoes and odd socks, his trademark dreads now knotted above his head and the biggest smile on his face.


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Shawn Mendes Shawn Mendes is following in a line of pop stars hailing from Canada that have paved their way into the world of music, but the tousled-haired 20-year-old needn’t worry about competition in the industry, he’s got the world eating out the palm of his hand.


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