James Arthur A worthy winner of the X Factor ITV show. Having spent 17 of my formative years growing up in Middlesbrough I know how ‘unfairly’ difficult it can be breaking through into any creative area of the arts being a Northerner, and although there has been some controversy surrounding James Arthur it should not detract from the fact that James is an impressive performer.


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The Vamps The Vamps are already taking 2015 by storm, their first arena tour kicked off in April, which has seen them headline shows to over 150,000 fans across the UK and Ireland's largest cities.


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Foxygen Foxygen have released some great songs in their career to date, being at times very poppy, but also managing to be interesting, quirky and experimental. However, a major draw to one of their gigs will inevitably be their reputation for seriously unhinged live performances. It’s also been suggested that this might be Foxygen’s last tour, so there are certainly expectations tonight.


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Public Service Broadcasting “This is a public service announcement. We would like to welcome the people of Birmingham to Birmingham Institute. Tonight performing for your delectation and entertainment will be Public Service Broadcasting with support artists the Smoke Fairies. Thank you for coming along and enjoy tonight’s performance. Yes."


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Shawn Smith Shawn Smith is the prolific vocal and creative driving force behind a number of bands over the past twenty years or so, namely Brad, Pigeonhed and Satchel; however he is still relatively unknown and this is clear from the small number attending this intimate show. As he enters the stage, looking like a young Leon Russell, Smith engages with the audience straight away as he takes his seat at the keyboard and begins with the Satchel song Suffering.  Shawn’s voice powers over the keyboard and his distinctive vocal style takes you back to an era of the mid ‘90’s due to his involvement in so many influential Seattle bands. Through his use of humour Shawn Smith made the night informal, and it was more like a friend playing to a group of mates which led to some supportive heckling from the crowd that was received and responded to with sharp wit.


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Calexico It’s always a pleasure to see Calexico perform. Their concerts are fun, they effortlessly mix musical genres and their live musicianship is stunning. The current European tour is promoting their new album ‘Edge of the Sun’.


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