John Legend 2014 was quite a year for the 9 times Grammy winner Mr John Legend. A year in which he toured the world and saw his beautiful soulful love song ‘All Of Me’ become a Multi-platinum seller (12.3 million copies worldwide)! But that wasn’t enough for Mr Legend as in November of last year he announced that he’d be back in the UK in June/July 2015 for his biggest arena tour to date, and Birmingham welcomed him back with open arms!


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Taylor Swift We last reviewed Taylor Swift on her ‘Red’ tour a year and a half ago. It’s incredible how much has changed in the last 18 months. The phenomenal success of her first ‘pop’ album has catapulted her into being one of the most influential entertainers in the world (not even Apple would argue with that it seems). So it was without hesitation that we went down to the Manchester Arena to catch one of only three shows in England on the 1989 World Tour. Swift’s gig was the hottest ticket in town this evening; with everyone we came into contact with professing their desire to be there.


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Suzanne Vega The brief introduction of "From New York City, Miss Suzanne Vega", sees Gerry Leonard take to an understated stage and begin looping guitar riffs and sounds to create a musical backdrop for Fat Man And Dancing Girl whilst an unassuming Suzanne Vega follows and begins delivering her warm vocal line.  No matter how many times you may have seen Vega, you cannot fail to be impressed by her calm and flowing voice which fills the Town Hall and draws you in no matter how far away from the stage you are sat. As the first song draws to a close, Vega places a top hat on her head for the spine tingling Marlene On The Wall.


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Bridget St John Back in the days of my youth I was a regular listener to DJ John Peel’s Radio 1 ‘Top Gear’ programme (not to be confused with the TV programme of the same name associated with some chap called Clarkson). Peelie specialised in bringing to the attention of us listeners all sorts of bands and artists that were ignored by the mainstream. So dedicated was the man that, not satisfied with just playing such artists on his radio programme, he actually set us his own record label, ‘Dandelion’, to record and distribute their work. Of course, this was in the days before indie record labels and home recording. One of the major artists on Dandelion Records was Bridget St John, who Peel described as “the best lady singer-songwriter in the country”. Bridget emigrated to New York in the mid-1970s and largely disappeared from the public eye. However, she’s now re-emerged and is doing a rare tour of the UK.


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British Sea Power On the strength of both bands’ reputations for live performances, this evening’s British Sea Power and Bo Ningen gig at Manchester’s Ritz should be a dream pairing. Tonight BSP are performing one of only three UK gigs to celebrate the 12th anniversary of the release (and now the re-issue) of their debut album, ‘The Decline of British Sea Power’. A strange pairing it may be, but the uniquely British BSP are supported tonight by London-based Japanese acid-punk four-piece noiseniks Bo Ningen. However, although on the face of it the line up is chalk and cheese, both bands share a belief in experimentation and pushing forward the boundaries of their music.


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Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes The air was thick with building anticipation for Frank Carter's latest incarnation and what promise of former brutal delivery. A break to the tension was found as the crowd heartily ooohed along to Weezer's 'Buddy Holly' and as I scanned the room one couldn't help but wonder if the venues for this tour were scouted for hardcore parkour potential. The crowd still left a semi circle of open dance floor and after the cheers for The Rattlesnakes entrance, Frank declared "I haven't seen something like this since I was 14, get in". His combination of humbleness and assertiveness never fails to gain idolatry; “Thanks for coming to see a band with only 3 songs I wouldn’t have done that”.


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