Blossoms Over the last few years Blossoms have emerged from Stockport and headlined some of the biggest events in the music calendar. I've interviewed Blossoms in the past, but I've never managed to catch them live, and let me tell you - the five piece exceeded my expectations in Glasgow as part of their mammoth UK tour this week.


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The Alarm Equals is the first studio album from The Alarm for eight years, of course in-between medical diagnoses and treatments, Mike Peters has toured as a solo performer, and personally for me, those shows are his most personal. To be stood within touching distance of the man is quite something, but tonight was an equal (forgive the pun) to those shows.


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Kioko The Midlands has a rich and prominent history revolving around reggae and ska, and tonight at the o2 institute, Birmingham’s very own Kioko are out to prove that their deadly roots have inspired an auspicious legacy.


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The Japanese House Whilst most of Birmingham were either crammed into the German Market, or upstairs downing Red Stripe for Peace’s homecoming gig, deep down below, in the underbelly of the O2 Institute 2, a future star was emerging in the form of The Japanese House.


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Peace Birmingham welcomes indie rock quartet Peace back for their small, yet mighty ‘world tour’ in their hometown with open arms. Ready for an eclectic mix of nostalgia and a modicum of their latest guitar-driven anthems.


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Starsailor It’s a staggering 15 years since Starsailor’s second album ‘Silence Is Easy’ was released and to celebrate the band are out playing three anniversary gigs. Manchester is sandwiched between Glasgow and London. Those who own the album (and if you don’t then you really should) will know the part strings play throughout and so it is that the band are enhanced by a six piece string section for the three gigs.


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Courtney Barnett It was a bitterly cold Monday night in an empty Birmingham city centre. A symptom perhaps of the Black Friday shopping frenzy which it seems that we have ‘culturally appropriated’ from our friends across the pond which was happening later the same week? Not surprisingly the O2 Academy reflected this being half full for the visit of one Miss Courtney Barnett; the lady with the coolest middle name in rock.


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Unknown Mortal Orchestra Bedroom pop is the in thing at the moment. Long gone are the days of artists booking out recording studios and expensive equipment. Now anyone with the right equipment and determination can record at home. At the forefront of this music revolution, especially in the psychedelic genre is Ruban Nielson also known as Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Currently touring the album 'Sex & Food' and the instrumental album 'IC-01 Hanoi', the O2 Institute was paid a visit on a chilly Monday night.


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The Cat Empire The Cat Empire are back once again touring the UK, and although I’ve seen them live many times before, this is my first visit to the O2 Academy in Bristol and it's the first of two nights here as a second night was put on due to demand for tickets. The Cat empire are one of those bands that are well known for their live shows, rumour has it that they are often the closing act at festivals because no other band wants to take to the stage after them.


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Metric Canadian-American four-piece, Metric, played their first ever headline show in Birmingham on Saturday, promoting their seventh album, ‘Art of Doubt’. Arriving at the O2 Institute almost two hours after doors opened, there were still quite a few people turning up to the sold-out venue (the first show on the tour to sell out completely). I had never been to this particular room of the Institute before; with its diagonal concrete beams holding up the ceiling and a complete lack of decor, it felt like we were buried en masse within the foundations of the building.


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BlackBerry Smoke Their t-shirts say ‘Too Country for Rock, Too Rock for Country' which may be true about Blackberry Smoke on record and may be the reason I have never properly given them an opportunity further than listening to an odd track now and then. Live though they are much closer to one of my favourite ever bands, fellow Atlantians the Black Crowes.


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Tonight Alive It’s 9:30 and everyone is eagerly waiting for Tonight Alive to take to the stage. The flash of a torch from the stage signals the start of the show. The lights go down as drummer Matt Best takes to the stage followed by Jenna McDougall to an eruption of screams from the crowd. The stage is dark with a single spotlight on Jenna creating a atmospheric silhouette as the two of them start to perform ‘The Other’, it wasn’t long before a flash of bright light broke through the darkness and changed the pace in the song, with a frenzy of colourful lighting Jake Hardy and Cam Adler joined them onstage.


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Leon Bridges On this most special of days, 100 years on, the country, festooned in poppies and everyone remembering those who had gone before us, it was fitting to see such a special artist as Mr Leon Bridges at Birmingham's Institute.


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First Aid Kit I’ve been waiting for this night for 12 months. I was lucky enough to see First Aid Kit at a one-off show in Shoreditch this time last year and as we all filed out of the town hall that night, I spotted two of the Staveley-Taylor sisters popping backstage to see Klara and Johanna. The thought crossed my mind – wouldn’t it be great if they played a show together. Fast forward a year and here we are – Newcastle O2 Academy for a night of harmony and some of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear.


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