Leftfield Shock and awe!! Leftfield are playing the O2 Institute in Birmingham... what?! Really?!! For me this was a gig not to be missed. Leftfield's 1995 release 'Leftism' was one of the most important soundtracks of my youth. More than any other record the heady and fascinating rhythms of Leftism, were the perfect accompaniment to a few drinks and 'indoor boogie' getting ready with chums for various heavy techno and psychedelic all-nighters in the heart of Birmingham and it's more bohemian quarters.


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Just Talk After fighting our way through the infighting Tories currently polluting the good streets of Brum and dozens of Horrors fans (they were also playing The Institute tonight...The Horrors that is, not the Tories...) the relative peace and tranquillity of The Temple (think of it as The Institute’s loft conversion) came as a blessed relief. Of course you can have too much peace and quiet though.


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Scott Bradlee and Postmodern Jukebox Okay, so imagine if Lady Gaga had hung around the Noo Yoik jazz clubs of the 30s and 40s or if Robin Thicke had been ‘blurring lines’ in Appalachia back in the 50s? That, in essence, is the brilliant but simple premise behind Postmodern Jukebox, take ‘modern’ pop songs and re-imagine them adding a little (or in most cases a lot) more musical magic all with a distinctively vintage twist. To quote the chap behind it, US jazz musician Scott Bradlee, it’s all about the creation of “an alternate pop universe” (and let’s face it some of today’s pop songs...and their singers...could certainly do with being transported to an alternate universe at times). It’s been pretty ruddy successful too, with one of the group’s best efforts, a heartbreakingly poignant cover of Lorde’s Royals sung by a 7ft tall clown (yep, seriously), picking up almost 8million hits on You Tube to date...and all without the aid of breakdancing kittens, grannies battering would be muggers or drunk frat boys falling off roofs. Impressive eh? Now, after a sell out US tour, the Jukebox has popped over the Atlantic for a mere handful of dates, one of which is in Brum’s suitably vintage Institute.


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The Correspondents Having formed in 2007 it’s taken a whole 7 years for The Correspondents (DJ Chucks and singer/dancer Mr Bruce) to get around to releasing their debut album. But then again Mr Bruce (aka Ian Bruce) also has a career as an artist to keep him busy so we can kind of forgive them. Besides that given the energy that he expends during tonight’s gig I reckon he probably needs to lie down for a month or six every time they play live...


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CHVRCHES I’m sure there’s a great reason why Chvrches spell their name that way, even if it does send the old spellchecker into a full on meltdown. Hold on...I’ll look it up. Right, apparently it’s because if you put Churches into Google (other search engines are available...unless Google want to pay me £500,000 in which case GOOGLE ROCKS) all you get are loads of websites to do with ding dong bells, Jesus, God and all that schnizzle kind of churches. As you’d reasonably expect I guess. Quite why they didn’t just choose a different name isn’t explained but we’ll let that lie...


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Temples Whoooooooah...hey man, what’s happening? Going to see Temples at The Institute? Cosmic...faaaaar out dude. Okay, enough of the trippy 60s lingo (for now at least, I’m still having flashbacks from this show so frankly anything could happen in the next few paragraphs) but tonight was another of those time travelling gigs that made you question which decade you were living in.


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Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip It’s been nearly seven years since Le Sac and Pip’s first hit, Thou Shalt Always Kill, a deliberately provocative swipe at the mindless hero worship of many a sacred musical cow (everyone from The Beatles through to Lostprophets... hmmm they may have had a point there in retrospect). Okay, perhaps it had a vague whiff of the novelty one hit wonder about it but the pair have since gone on to produce some of the freshest most thought provoking hip hop around, hence the pretty much capacity crowd tonight.


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AlunaGeorge First on the list is Benedict Taylor a singer songwriter from Hertfordshire. His melodies comprise of slow contemporary vocal and piano based ballads. Taylor's falsetto vocal works perfectly with song highlights including 'Stranger' and "please don't fall out of Love' - a love song "in reverse" Benedict tells us. His heart felt songs certainly warm up this crowd on a cold and wet Tuesday evening.


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Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra Amanda Palmer is naked. Not literally, although she’s not averse to getting her kit off (as her recent Daily Mail baiting set in London amply demonstrated), nope Amanda Palmer’s nakedness this evening is more of the emotional kind. In fact whether it’s her lyrics, blog, occasional webcasts or spontaneous guerrilla gigs she’s possibly one of the most open and ‘genuine’ (whatever that word means in today’s all too superficial world) performers/human beings you’re ever likely to stumble across. Whilst Richey Manic famously carved the words ‘4 Real’ into his arm with a razor blade Palmer demonstrates her realness in rather less bloody, but equally striking ways (cut her in half and I reckon she’d have the words ‘4 Real’ running through her like a stick of rock) as tonight’s gloriously ramshackle (I mean this in the best sense of not really knowing what was going to happen next) show proved.


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Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra Amanda Palmer is naked. Not literally, although she’s not averse to getting her kit off (as her recent Daily Mail baiting set in London amply demonstrated), nope Amanda Palmer’s nakedness this evening is more of the emotional kind. In fact whether it’s her lyrics, blog, occasional webcasts or spontaneous guerrilla gigs she’s possibly one of the most open and ‘genuine’ (whatever that word means in today’s all too superficial world) performers/human beings you’re ever likely to stumble across. Whilst Richey Manic famously carved the words ‘4 Real’ into his arm with a razor blade Palmer demonstrates her realness in rather less bloody, but equally striking ways (cut her in half and I reckon she’d have the words ‘4 Real’ running through her like a stick of rock) as tonight’s gloriously ramshackle (I mean this in the best sense of not really knowing what was going to happen next) show proved.


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Tribes The video for The Brute Chorus’ Death Came Walking Parts 1 & 2 isn’t for the squeamish, featuring as it does buckets of fake blood splashed liberally all over the distinctly hirsute band members (fake blood and hairy chests...urgh...not a great look). Happily this evening the only bodily fluid in evidence is sweat, as the group crank out their particular blend of rockabilly, blues and pop. Sporting a modest quiff and rather fetching moustache lead singer James manfully does his best to get the crowd going, strutting about, lunging and throwing shapes, his vocals a mix of Lux Interior meets Billy Childish...with a little 50s Elvis thrown in for good measure. There’s a touch of cabaret about it all from time to time as James ramps up the energy but hell, you’d rather your frontman give it some welly than just stand there like a lemon eh? Good dirty fun.


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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club I've always been a fan of BRMC, ever since they first glowered into my life in early 2002, hot on the heels of the hipper than hip Strokes and the cartoon garage rockers the Hives, San Francisco 3 piece BRMC always had a touch of the sulky older cousin, a bit distant and not really interested in anyone else, chuffing fags in black leather, always in grainy black and white with smoke billowing around them. It's been an adore/not that fussed relationship for some time now, I stuck with them up to the 3rd album HOWL, a more stripped back gospel blues hand clap album in stark contrast to their thunderous, distortion psyche rock blues of their debut BRMC and the follow up Take Them On, On Your Own. I actually loved this change of direction for them, something they took to with equal talents.


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