Kate Tempest Poet, rapper, playwright, novelist, Mercury nominee, winner of the prestigious Ted Hughes Award, inventor of a cure for the common cold (okay, so the last one was made up but frankly you wouldn’t put it past her)...for many Kate Tempest has seemingly sprung from nowhere over the past year or so. The reality’s radically different but no less impressive...


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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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Joanne Shaw Taylor It was the salubrious surround of Birmingham’s Town Hall that greeted us, surrounded by wood clad stands full of German goods and yummy Bavarian food on the cold Autumnal Friday in Brum for Joanne Shaw Taylor's home coming gig.


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Summer Camp Having recently moved into the Hare and Hounds permanently (got myself a sweet little spot just beneath the bar in the back room...no more nightmare journeys on the bus of the damned - aka the Number 11 - for me) tonight’s gig was just a mere stumble away.


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Untitled Music Project It’s been quite a week for noisy cult Birmingham based bands to reform for a ‘one off’ gig. Last Saturday witnessed the second coming of Distophia during the rather excellent All Years Leaving festival and tonight was the turn of much loved shouty, screamy, punky trio Untitled Musical Project to deafen the nation’s young...and not so young... once more.


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Boy George Boy George’s recent transformation from...let’s face it...chunky bloke with a police record, drug addiction and penchant for doing stuff that we don’t need to rake over anymore...is nothing short of incredible. If that opening description sounds a little harsh it’s meant to be. George is surely one of the best pop stars we’ve ever had. He coloured my adolescence and was a vital part of that magical soundtrack of the early 80s. To see him fall to pieces, occasionally edging dangerously close to Mr G. Reaper, was pretty sad for all concerned, not least George himself no doubt. He’s been pretty upfront and honest about his various ups and downs but now he’s back, back, BACK (as they used to say in Smash Hits) with his first new album and tour in three years (in recent promotional activities people seem to have forgotten about 2010’s Ordinary Alien for some reason...very odd). Thirty years on from Culture Club’s heyday would we still be mad about the Boy?


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Ben Howard It's not often that you're more excited about the support act than the main event when you attend a gig - especially when it is to see the flavour of the moment Ben Howard - but that's exactly how I felt as we made our way to a sodden O2 along with a multitude of other gig goers all anticipating a cracking night of folk/pop fusion with Messrs’ Ben Howard and America’s little known Willy Mason.


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Saint Saviour Who’d have thought it eh? B-Town’s now seemingly home to the rebirth of old skool house! At least it will be if Greg Bird and Flamingo Flame have their wicked way. Sporting a sparkly eye mask, leather gloves and chain of fairy lights Bird knocks out the kind of tracks that crate digging DJs would willingly sacrifice their Numark turntables for. Singing live with a dude on an array of laptops and electronic gizmos and a guitarist adding additional colour to some of the quieter tracks (shades of Durutti Column in there perhaps) it was a masterclass in bringing this kind of music to life, one of the most glorious, soul lifting, hand in the air like ya just don’t care sets you’re likely to see. Both Animals and Skool (pick of their latest must have EP, Black Tableaux) were stunningly good, temporarily transforming the Hare & Hounds into some kind of fabulously sweaty gay disco in 1980’s Chicago. That’s a rather marvellous thing by the way. Simply one of the most exciting new bands in Birmingham.


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Saint Saviour Who’d have thought it eh? B-Town’s now seemingly home to the rebirth of old skool house! At least it will be if Greg Bird and Flamingo Flame have their wicked way. Sporting a sparkly eye mask, leather gloves and chain of fairy lights Bird knocks out the kind of tracks that crate digging DJs would willingly sacrifice their Numark turntables for. Singing live with a dude on an array of laptops and electronic gizmos and a guitarist adding additional colour to some of the quieter tracks (shades of Durutti Column in there perhaps) it was a masterclass in bringing this kind of music to life, one of the most glorious, soul lifting, hand in the air like ya just don’t care sets you’re likely to see. Both Animals and Skool (pick of their latest must have EP, Black Tableaux) were stunningly good, temporarily transforming the Hare & Hounds into some kind of fabulously sweaty gay disco in 1980’s Chicago. That’s a rather marvellous thing by the way. Simply one of the most exciting new bands in Birmingham.


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Savages You know what, there’s a worrying lack of girls (ladies, females, women...whatever you’re supposed to call them these days) in music. Sure there are some massive exceptions but they tend to be solo artists, Adele, Sticky Minge, Lady GaGa...there are relatively few ‘girl’ bands...or indeed girls in bands out there. This troubles me more than the lack of females in Government (as if Government’s really change anything these days) or big corporations (ditto). Call me an old idealist but music remains one of the greatest art forms and communication tools in the world and it’s always struck me as curious that considerably fewer than 50% of the bands I’ve seen over the years (roughly 5% in fact I’d say) have any female component whatsoever. Why? Answers on a postcard please. Savages are that rare beast though, an all female group. And, whilst it really shouldn’t matter a toss what sex they are the rarity of this kind of a line up has certainly bought them added attention. Being touted as the ‘female Joy Division’ sets the bar particularly high but would tonight bring Unknown Pleasures or would it be a case of She’s Lost Control? Hmmm...


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The Vaccines The Vaccines have announced dates of a headline November UK tour. The tour comes off the back of an exceptionally busy Summer for the band who have played main stages at Field Day, Isle of Wight, T in the Park, supported The Stone Roses in Heaton Park, Manchester, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers in Europe and played shows in Russia, South Korea and Japan over the summer months.


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The Irrepressibles There seems to be a bit of a vogue for gigs in Birmingham churches at the moment. St Paul’s has had a few this year and now St Martin’s is getting in on the act too. It’s a cracking idea. They’re generally gorgeous buildings, perhaps somewhat underused in these more secular times and the acoustics can be...er...heavenly. Tonight we’re here to worship at the altar of St Jamie McDermott, the frankly inspirational life force behind The Irrepressibles, a chamber pop band that’s currently wowing our European neighbours but still seem to be criminally underrated here in their homeland. C’est la vie. Given that this is their first UK tour though (and this is a band that you really need to see live) perhaps all that is about to change.


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