Taking Back Sunday This is the 20th anniversary tour for Taking Back Sunday being a band and to celebrate the occasion we’re treated to Tell All Your Friends in full, followed up with a storming second half full of big hitters. There couldn’t have been a more perfect TBS set.


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Billie Marten Billie Marten with some ethereal vocals on show in Leeds, her 2nd album ‘Feeding Seahorses by Hand’ gets a rapturous welcome at her homecoming show at The Wardrobe.


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Meat Puppets Until this gig I mainly knew Meat Puppets as one of the seminal US alternative bands of the 1980s and 90s, perhaps most known for the three Meat Puppets songs recorded by Nirvana for their ‘Unplugged In New York’ album. Kurt Cobain was a big fan of the band and Cris and Curt Kirkwood of Meat Puppets were invited to play on Nirvana’s unplugged session. However, tonight Meat Puppets really demonstrate that they are a force of their own.


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Hands Off Gretel Allow me to introduce the bubblegum-coated blaze of glory that is Hands Off Gretel. They describe themselves as having “Gwen Stefani style swagger” with “Nirvana-esque grunge”, and I’d say that pretty much sums them up. Their sound is heavy and dirty, with the type of energy and beat that would make the devil himself want to dance.


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Gov’t Mule Gov’t Mule pack a 3hr setlist with some Classic Blues Jams and whilst they’re ‘Live in Leeds’ a long ride on The Who’s ‘Magic Bus’.


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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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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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Stereophonics Welsh maestros Stereophonics have a busy summer ahead and so it is that they announced three intimate warm up shows. Admittedly the Bonus Arena holds 3,500 I believe so it all depends on your own personal interpretation of intimate. Given the last time I saw them I was in a crowd of somewhere around 40,000 it’s all relative really.


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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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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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Lights Lights shone in Manchester as they played their first show of the year at the historic Night and Day Cafe – a venue I’d hazard a guess was chosen for it’s incredibly close proximity to Manchester’s Forbidden Planet comic book store (they are literally opposite each other).


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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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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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