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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Cross The Tracks Recent years have seen festivals falling by the by and the big-name players even reducing schedules and missing out years. The team behind Cross The Tracks did an amazing job as they celebrated the opening year of Brixton's first funk, soul and jazz festival. As the crowds descended on the inner city's Brockwell Park, it was refreshing to see communities bonding, all ages and races excitedly arriving at the park as the sun shone through overcoming the predicted bad weather.


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Brass Against 9 times out of 10 Facebook’s suggested posts are just wallpaper that get unceremoniously scrolled passed, but seeing one for a brass band playing Cochise as a tribute to Chris Cornell caught my eye – as a massive fan of his – and it blew me away. That was my introduction to Brass Against and I was instantly hooked. So getting the chance to see them live was something I wasn’t going to miss.


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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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All Points East On a slightly rainy day in London, the only glimmer of fresh summer vibes came from Victoria Park and All Points East as the first weekend came to a close. But before that time could come, a whole collection of sounds bursted out of the five stages with plenty of exciting artists displaying their work to the masses.


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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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Stephen Morris in Conversation with Dave Haslam Joy Division and successor band New Order are Manchester musical legends, with several films and books already documenting both bands’ careers and legacies, including autobiographies by band members Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner. Now JD/NO drummer Stephen Morris has joined the club, with the first volume of his autobiography, ‘Record, Play, Pause’, published this month. To launch the book Morris is doing a ‘tour’ around the UK, where he is in conversation on stage with Mancunian DJ, broadcaster and journalist Dave Haslam. Haslam also has a new book on sale, ‘Sonic Youth Slept on My Floor: Music, Manchester and More’. Haslam and Morris are old buddies, Haslam having DJ’ed at Manchester’s infamous Hacienda club, of which Morris and his New Order comrades were, of course, part owners.


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