The Kooks Hit The Road I very clearly remember the year The Kooks brought out 'Inside In / Inside Out'. It was the summer I went to my very first music festival (Oxegen, Ireland) and I recall them playing the NME stage in frightening detail; a highly rowdy crowd, pints flying everywhere, teenagers pushing and shoving each other around to the point the band had to stop playing to calm everyone down. Boys and girls were all there to bounce along to the ridiculously catchy, summery, pop-rock. They were a completely accessible indie band with boy band good looks. It was cool to like them, and most people actually really did. It was no real wonder that album performed so well, putting them firmly on the map.


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Bastille Bastille have had one hell of a year. They've dominated the music charts, finding success and fans seemingly with ease and can even add winning Best British Breakthrough at The Brit Awards to their list of achievements to date. Given they only formed in 2010 it's been a supersonic rise, mostly thanks to single 'Pompeii' which became a wide reaching hit upon release in early 2013. Can their live show live up to the reputation that precedes them though?


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The Strypes Alex Turner courted controversy at The Brit Awards this week with a left-field speech which has since been tiresomely and disappointingly over-analysed . "That rock 'n' roll, eh? That rock 'n' roll, it just won't go away.", proclaimed Turner, an apt call to action in a world where pop and dance music dominate and few young rock bands seem to be gaining prominence. Irish four-piece The Strypes are answering that call. Swiftly gaining momentum over the past year, the rhythm and blues band have been touring the UK for the past two weeks, and we went to check out their Manchester show.


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A Day To Remember Hailing from Ocala, Florida, A Day To Remember have been around for 11 years and have toured far and wide in that time. They’re known for being complete pros at putting on an exuberant and energy filled gig, so it is with a certain level of expectation we turn up at Manchester’s Apollo to catch their latest live performance.  Their reputation says it should be a good show, but what will they bring that is new?


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Kodaline If you’ve been watching prime time television over the past couple of months you’ll have heard of Kodaline, perhaps even without realising it. The advert for debut album ‘In a Perfect World’ has been pretty much everywhere. And if you have seen it you’ve most likely enjoyed what you’ve heard. Kodaline’s sound sits somewhere between the rousing ballads of Coldplay and the upbeat folk of Mumford and Sons which puts them squarely in the ‘bound to be popular’ category. That broad appeal combined with good word-of-mouth reviews from previous shows explains the sold-out crowd in Manchester on a Sunday night.


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Arctic Monkeys It started quietly, overnight. One YouTube upload, one tweet, one Facebook post. The Arctic Monkeys unleashed ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ and took over 2013. It continued on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. Drum beats and the opening of a guitar riff silencing the critical anticipation and hype. The deal was sealed with the unveiling of ‘AM’; Arctic Monkeys were back and ready to be bigger than ever.


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Goo Goo Dolls Some bands seem to have been around forever. They've been good enough to never really leave the public consciousness but they haven't been setting the world alight for years on end either. They've made their mark, had some classic hits and got on with doing their own thing. They've grown up with their fans and managed to retain them and acquire a group of new ones along the way. It's fair to say American rock band Goo Goo Dolls fall into this category. Formed in 1985, they have stood the test of time and aren't ready to give up or go anywhere yet. They rocked up in Manchester on Wednesday evening to promote their latest record and we were there to check it out.


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Rihanna Is there anybody in the world who hasn’t uttered her name at some point in the last 12 months? Whether it’s to talk about her tumultuous love life, what she’s wearing, what she’s posting online or her “don’t give a shit what the world thinks” attitude; she’s possibly the most overexposed pop artist of the last five years. Miraculously though, she doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon and she’s not getting any less interesting. On Wednesday night the Rihanna Diamonds World Tour rolled into Manchester and we went to check out what the iconic performer had to offer.


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Jake Bugg I’m one of those people who half-watches Later with Jools Holland. I mostly have it on in the background and show a vague passing interest in bands I like when they perform. The only real time I stood up and took notice was when a then relatively little known Jake Bugg was introduced on it. Hearing his voice and how different he was I knew then I wanted to see him live one day. When the opportunity arose to see him in Manchester, I was the first to put my hand up to attend. The Academy is probably the largest small venue in Manchester where you can see an artist before they get really big. It makes many gigs there a special occasion.


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The Blackout The Blackout burst on stage under a green neon glow and plough in head first with 'Start the party', a song so apt for kicking off this gig it almost hurts. From the word go they play with relentless energy and boundless enthusiasm, skipping and jumping around stage as though they are springs that have finally been un-coiled. The effects are quite astounding and mesmerising to watch when accompanied by confetti showering down onto the exuberant, now pogoing crowd. The HMV Ritz is the perfect venue for these kinds of songs and these fans. Bouncing along to every beat, the crowd take full advantage of it's famous bouncing dance floor; it's like standing on a trampoline.


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The Courteeners Manchester is famous for being kind to its musical children. The city loves nothing more than to celebrate its own, and when they are musicians this usually leads to their homecoming shows being the hottest ticket in town. We've seen it just recently with the Stone Roses reunion gigs but on Friday night it was the turn of The Courteeners to entertain their home crowd.


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Band of Horses "Manchester! I don't give a shit it's Monday, I force you to party with us!" was not the opening line I was expecting to hear from American group Band of Horses as they walked in to greet an excited Mancunian crowd. But it was certainly an apt introduction for the animated and rocking set which promptly followed. These guys put on quite the show.


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Feeder Feeder have been around long enough that they might well be entitled to feel jaded by the music business, but if they ever have been it didn't show. It was an energetic band that walked out to perform in front of a large and impressive light show, clearly still loving what they do. On tour with their 2012 album Generation Freakshow, their new music isn’t a miraculous reinvention. It's still grungy alternative guitar-based indie rock. It’s a case of if it ain't broke, don’t fix it, much to the delight of the hardcore contingent of (most likely) lifelong fans in the room.


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Django Django The Q Awards named them 'Best New Act', The Guardian awarded their eponymous debut album a rare five star review and they are among the nominees of the lauded Barclaycard Mercury Prize; as I walked into the Ritz on Tuesday evening to see them on the second night of their current UK tour I couldn't help but have high expectations of Scottish band Django Django.


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