Jake Bugg There’s a lot of fervour about a certain Mr Jake Bugg at the moment. Having supported the likes of the Stone Roses as well as gigging with (and receiving plaudits from) the singer/song writing legend that is Mr Noel Gallagher you can see why. Now, I’m not one to gloat but the Gig Junkies team have been supporting the wee fella for an age and beyond and quite frankly think that he is rather splendid indeed!


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Band of Skulls Listening to Kerrang Radio on the way to the gig – as is obligatory for all self-respecting Gig Junkies, it seemed that uber-hot bass playing front woman Emma Richardson was poorly and wasn’t well enough to attend the pre-gig interview. Whilst mass hysteria and a heightened state of panic didn’t necessarily ensue in the GJ mobile, the photographer and I, firmly cross our fingers in unison wishing her a speedy recovery so she could entertain us at the HMV Institute a little later on. Fast forward 3 hours and we needn’t have worried. Not a jot. Excellent gig delivered by the Band of Skulls and once more they justified the entrance fee with their brand of melodic, blues based, bass driven rifftastic rock. Phew!


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Rodrigo y Gabriela If you’re unfamiliar with the Mexican musical duo better known as “Rod y Gab” it’s difficult to know how to describe their genre. In fact they are their genre! They combine expert traditional Spanish guitar, with Death Metal which would be more at home at a Metallica concert utilising a myriad of guitar pedals whilst creating their own drum machine courtesy of their guitar head.


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Bat for Lashes Right on time, Natasha Khan and her backing band enter a simply yet atmospherically lit stage, lanterns and angle photography lamps enhance rather than detract from her petite frame. The first song, of the evening, is Lillies which is the opening track from Bat for Lashes new album The Haunted Man. Instantly Khan’s vocal ability overwhelms you. She has a vast range which in its higher register has resemblances to Annie Lennox, not only in its tone but capacity to accurately hit the notes with such power and sensitivity.


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TOY Indie psych-rockers Toy caused a bit of a sensation last year supporting The Horrors on tour, but now they’re in Birmingham as headliners. Tonight they show us that the hype was fully justified and just how good they are.


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John Cale John Cale is a legend in the music business, having been a founder member of the seminal 1960s band the Velvet Underground. However, now aged 70, he is in no mood for nostalgia and spends most of the evening promoting his new album ‘Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood’ and other recent work.


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Richard Hawley Richard Hawley’s gig at the HMV Institute tonight was a resounding success and he seemed genuinely surprised by the packed-out audience’s rapturous response. He declared that Birmingham was his favourite audience on the tour so far and said he would consider buying a holiday home in the city. He did then have second thoughts about the holiday home. And, of course, his view on audiences may well change when he plays at his next, sold-out, gig tomorrow, in his home city of Sheffield.


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Alabama Shakes There’s an all too rare moment this evening when the whole audience falls silent. No chatter, no tweeting, no click of camera phones... just silence... broken only by a howl of pure pain from the band’s vocalist. Hell, even our goosebumps got goosebumps. Yep, Alabama Shakes are in town.


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Delilah It’s not often you can come away from a gig saying “WOW! That person’s voice was phenomenal”. When you do it’s something to treasure, a memory to hold. True, there are lots of good singers, some brilliant front men and some talented songstresses, but the term phenomenal needs to be reserved for the very special indeed. So, to witness not one, not two but three all on the same stage in front of little over 200 people on a grim Wednesday night in Birmingham was nothing short of miraculous and not likely to be emulated any time soon.


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Biohazard With all of the other bands’ gear removed from the stage, it now looks like Biohazard sound: stripped back to the core. With the bare minimum of amps and the drum-kit behind them, Billy Graziadei takes centre-stage for lead vocals; Bobby bounces around stage right, the swirling embodiment of New York hardcore; and while Evan Seinfeld has absconded, new bassist/vocalist Scott Roberts’ towering larger-than-life presence more than fills the space he left behind. With a set that spans their entire career and peppered with a couple of tracks from their latest, ‘Reborn In Defiance’, Biohazard are both cool and powerful in their energetic straight-to-the-point delivery.


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Roots Manuva My Christmas Day Facebook status read "Christmas Present list: A heavily embroidered Maharishi hoodie, lots of cash, 2 bottles of rum, the Nile Rogers autobiography, aftershave I would actually wear and tickets to Roots Manuva”. I certainly did well on the last one, as tonight's show was immense! Over the years I have seen Roots Manuva live many times, and with several different line ups, but tonight ranked up there with one of his finest performances ever. Tonight Rodney Smith was on point, highly refined and most definitely splendid.


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The Maccabees The Maccabees undoubted panache for celestial teen-angst agendas pureed in swathes of cathedral histrionics, basking in the ghost-light of Tate Modernesque backdrops and Radiohead/Soft Cell James Joyce dreams of sub-consciousness had to be forsaken. And they continued to get ever better Tweets tell. A sublimely good-natured, capacity Institute crowd were clearly convinced. Many thanks to Susie & Morad for review passes.


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Yellowcard It's been over five years since Yellowcard last headlined in the UK, and this short tour - just four dates across England and Scotland - marks a welcome return since the band reformed in late 2010. Despite such a long absence, their fans clearly haven't forgotten about them, and the small Library venue was packed to the rafters.


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Lana Del Rey Predictably this gig was so sold out that I wouldn’t have been surprised if Lana herself hadn’t got in. Simply the hottest ticket in town.


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