Starsailor It’s a staggering 15 years since Starsailor’s second album ‘Silence Is Easy’ was released and to celebrate the band are out playing three anniversary gigs. Manchester is sandwiched between Glasgow and London. Those who own the album (and if you don’t then you really should) will know the part strings play throughout and so it is that the band are enhanced by a six piece string section for the three gigs.


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The Blinders On this particular Sunday this is definitely our church. Arguably the finest small venue in the country play host to the force of nature that is The Blinders. It marks the halfway point of their first headline tour on the back of phenomenal debut album ‘Columbia’. That it entered the charts at number 54 is testament to the word of mouth buzz that this Doncaster trio have been creating over the last few years.


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Echo & the Bunnymen Echo & the Bunnymen amble into York for the last night of the UK leg of the tour promoting new album ‘The Stars, The Ocean & The Moon’. As the title suggests (Stars Are Stars, Ocean Rain, The Killing Moon) the album is a reworking of old Bunnymen favourites (plus two new tracks), carefully picked by Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, the songs are given a more stripped back ethereal quality. It seems to have split the hardcore fanbase, in particular the transformation of ‘The Killing Moon’ into a piano and strings led ballad but it works. It really works. It’s also a brave move but over a forty year career The Bunnymen have never really played by the rules.


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The Breeders There is something just undeniably cool about The Breeders. I’m not happy with that word ‘cool’ in there. It’s not a word I use. Ever. But I’m going to allow it this once. The Breeders are a band every aspiring musician should want to be in. That has to be cool surely? I mean, this is rock royalty up on that stage. I digress.


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DMA'S Although I struggle with the fact that the Aussies have pretty much dominated The Ashes during my adult years I’m more than happy to concede that the Britpop Revivalist movement is being firmly led by three lads from down under. Made up from the remnants of previous band DMA'S are a Sydney three piece consisting of Johnny Took, Thomas O’Dell and Matt Mason. Debut album, the exceptional ‘Hills End’, landed on these shores in February 2016 to wide critical acclaim and several Oasis comparisons.


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For Now by DMA's DMA's, the Sydney based trio’s debut album, Hills End, landed on these shores some two years ago. Unashamedly Britpop (specifically Oasis) influenced it became a huge word of mouth success backed with a slew of stunning, jaw dropping live shows. Two years later we come to what is traditionally known as ‘the difficult second album’. The teaser singles ‘Dawning’ and album title track, ‘For Now’ had hinted at a band expanding their influences, maturing and searching for their own sound.


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The Vaccines The Vaccines storm into Sheffield on the back of their 4th studio album ‘Combat Sports’, released just 2 weeks previously. It’s hard to pigeonhole The Vaccines. They’re not your standard indie rock outfit, for a start several songs have a definite 50s influence.


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Starsailor Some time ago I saw four quiet, nervous lads support The Beautiful South at Sheffield Arena. Stage presence was at a minimum. What stood out was the craft in the song writing and the frankly astounding, almost angelic, voice of singer James Walsh. 16 years and five studio albums later Starsailor roll back into the Steel City 6 dates into the UK leg of the ‘All This Life’ tour. The nervousness is now replaced with a confident maturity of a band who know just how good they are and don’t feel the need to shout about it. They remind me of the kid who always gets picked last at football then turns out to be the next Lionel Messi.


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James I was particularly looking forward to this one. James have always been a band I’ve admired but one I’ve never really got to know better. The last time I saw them Adamski was Number One which shows just how lax I’ve been and it was high time I found out how the band had matured. (More than me I was to find out).


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The Icicle Works Early start for this one but Ian McNabb doesn’t mess about when it comes to playing live. The first time I saw him (solo acoustic set) he informed us to phone the babysitter to let them know we’d be late. Tonight the current Icicle Works line up is on stage for 8pm and leave at around 11pm. Even with a 15 minute break that’s serious value for money.


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Public Service Broadcasting Public Service Broadcasting’s debut album Inform-Educate-Entertain (with the emphasis on Entertain) seemed to come out of nowhere to a myriad of excellent reviews. Coupled with live shows that took the whole PSB concept to another level Public Service Broadcasting were obviously ones to watch, although every review seemed to come with the caveat ‘limited shelf life’.


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