Howard Jones It's thirty years since Howard Jones asked us to “throw off our mental chains”; to challenge our preconceived ideas. How time flies by. And now, in celebration of this milestone Mr. Jones is here to entertain us with a tri-part set as part of a unique three-date series of shows taking place across the UK.


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Jonathan Wilson Thekla in Bristol is a novel venue as it is a cargo ship moored in Bristol’s Mud Dock area, and as we climb aboard the support act Omar Velasco is finishing the final song of his set.  However, this means it is not long until the main act, Jonathan Wilson, is due to take the stage.


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Avenged Sevenfold Tonights headline act are a band I loved as a 16 year old, but everything released since 'City Of Evil' hasn't really been to my taste. Having said that I have always kept one eye on their progress. Avenged Sevenfold hit the scene around the same time Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium did, and there was much talk to who would be the first to reach the promise land of headlining the metal festival, Download. Over the past month we have learnt that they have been the first of the three to have reached it. So the question on everyones lips tonight is are they up to the challenge?


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The Darkness I love a good old Rock n Roll show on a Friday night and if anyone one band can provide just that it has to be The Darkness... or is it ? The Darkness as a band have been, shall we say, more than a little low-profile of late and so the trip to Scunthorpe tonight could have been either a huge let down, or it could have been the re-kindling of something great. I say great because I first saw The Darkness at the height of their platinum selling fame some ten years ago (yes, T-E-N – count ‘em) and I loved them, their music, the show and the huge dose of camp that went with them. Would they be the same?


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Simple Minds Tonight is an opportunity to put on those rose tinted glasses and remember those ‘fab’ good 80s old days with much nostalgia. A time when ‘mobile’ phones were strange red (rather smelly) kiosks on street corners. ‘Social media’ entailed a pen, paper, a stamp, a postman and a few days to get a response.  Steve Jobs was busy launching the Apple Mac computer, way, way, way before he dreamt of iPods and iTunes, the nearest thing to copying a song was on a C90 cassette tape, CDs were yet to make their mark and digital downloads? They were a pipe dream...


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Blancmange Neil Arthur and Stephen Luscombe teamed up around 1978, the Blancmange name appearing at the release of “Irene and Mavis” their debut, in 1980. Christened by Daniel Miller as “the maiden aunts of techno” in reference to the old ladies in the launderette who appear on the single cover. The maiden aunts reference still used today (see Stephen Luscombe’s post on the Blancmange website).


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Moulettes Finally tonight, the main act took the stage and as with the last time I saw them they seemed to be the most unlikely band ever. Centre stage is a cello player, supported by a double bass and a drummer that plays guitar – yes, often at the same time, all topped off with a violinist to boot. My only regret was the bassoon player wasn’t there tonight – I’m a sucker for a bassoon player in a band – because there are of course loads of bands with bassoon players! As you might have imagined, Moulettes are not, by any stretch of the imagination, what you would class as mainstream; for heaven’s sake they count a tea towel as one of their merchandise items, but what they are is truly magnificent.


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Happy Mondays Bez walks out holding what appears to be a stick with a doll hanging from the end of it and announcing like James Brown's old hype-man... "25 years of history you old bastards... Power to the People". Next to enter the stage is Rowetta. The whole evening seems to have certain M25-rave-feel about it and as if to accentuate this, she comes out swinging illuminous balls around her head in a festival-yo-yo-slash-fire-thing-style. By now Bez's familiar strut is beginning to get into it's flow. And then, the loudest cheer of the night so far... Shaun Ryder walks out showing that he is, despite many people's assumptions, a man of the times... by smoking an electronic cigarette onstage. This is 1988 nostalgia with a very 2013 twist.


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Pixies With their unique brand of weird surf-punk and experimentation, Pixies have proved to be an incredibly influential band and have been name checked by Kurt Cobain and David Bowie, among others. While now legendary, they never achieved massive success during their original incarnation. Reunion rumours were rife until they finally got back together in 2004 for what proved to be a series of instantly sold-out gigs. Intermittent tours since have reputedly grossed millions of dollars, but the question has remained, will they ever record new material?


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Beth Hart Spot on 9pm Beth Hart takes centre stage. She has to be one of the hardest working acts around, touring furiously; recording frequently (five albums in the past four years). A fabulous collaboration with fellow American Joe Bonamassa (‘Don’t Explain’) was followed up by the equally good ‘Bang Bang Boom Boom’ which won her a slot on Jools Holland’s show in 2012. Bigger in Europe than in the USA her career can’t have been hurt by her performance at the Kennedy Centre Honours twelve months ago in front of the Obamas.


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Palma Violets Although they’ve only been around for a couple of years and have just one album worth of songs, Palma Violets take the stage with real swagger and confidence, knowing that their stage act is unbeatable. They’re a sort of young version of The Jim Jones Revue, with the same sort of manic energy, delivering fast and ragged rock ‘n’ roll. They open with ‘Deanna’, their (similar) version of the Nick Cave song. Mr Cave is the master of stage performance and they’ve obviously paid considerable attention to all he can teach them.


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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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Television Television are a band whose reputation rests heavily on their seminal album ‘Marquee Moon’, one of the greatest and most influential guitar albums of all time. Their current low-key world tour takes in just a few UK dates and promises to showcase the album, so no surprises that Manchester’s Academy 2 is packed-out with eager punters.


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New Model Army And so to the back-end of the Black Country. Hidden beyond the Black Country Route, in an inner-city town, lies the Robin 2. It is indeed in the back end of beyond, near the end of the world. But it has everything, really friendly welcome, great cozy venue, cheap refreshments and food and, tonight it has the powerful, raw and legendary New Model Army.


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