The Rebel Beats Back in 2006 Bromheads (then trading as Bromheads Jacket) briefly flirted with fame and fortune thanks to a bit of a top 10 single (they provided the B side to The Streets’ When You Wasn’t Famous) and the odd comparison or two to fellow Sheffielders The Arctic Monkeys. A couple of albums followed, spawning some great singles of their own but, as is so often sadly the case, they didn’t get the recognition or following they deserved. Resisting the temptation to...ahem...’jacket’ in following the loss of bassist Jono in 2010 the remaining duo, Tim and Dan, hunkered down and cracked out 12 singles in as many months, dropping the Jacket bit of their name...possibly in recognition of their new leaner, meaner incarnation. Then things went quiet. Very quiet. For a good two years in fact the world was a Bromheads free zone. But like some garage rock chrysalis they were locked away somewhere, mutating, sprouting hair, growing wings...


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Patrick Duff Free gigs, open to all comers, are always tricky blighters. Inevitably if it’s being held in a bar you’re going to end up with some people who are just there for a drink, in fact they probably haven’t got the faintest idea who’s playing, perhaps they’re even unaware that there’s a gig going on. This was, in part, the story of tonight’s gig. A remarkable night from an equally remarkable artist.


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George Barnett It’s always an odd time between Christmas and New Year. Most of us are still recovering from turkey overdose (quite literally going ‘cold turkey’) and desperately necking those chocolate liquors that always seem to find their way into the house somehow (who buys those things?!), eager to stave off the inevitable return to work and the horror that is... JANUARY. Urgh. Bears have the right idea, hibernate through the whole darn thing and wake up just as the daffs are daffing and the bees a buzzing. That would certainly explain the absence of bears at last night’s gig but a surprisingly decent number of humans managed to rise from the sofa... and ruddy glad they were too I bet.


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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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Pond Great rock band names... Black Sabbath! Iron Maiden! Hawkwind! Def Leopard! Metallica! Motorhead! You know what you’re in for just by the name eh? ROCCCCKKKKK! Call yourself Pond though and you could be a fey folk band with a penchant for songs about Maypoles and a hey nonny no. Any ill informed folk fans who may have stumbled in to this gig expecting a gentle rendition of All Around My Hat though may well now be undergoing counselling...


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Friends Next door (in the big room) the newly reformed Happy Mondays are twisting the melons of hundreds of mums and dads on the old ‘topping up the pension’ circuit. Meanwhile, here in the Academy 2, the night gets off to an equally twisty (but infinitely cooler) start thanks to the sinuous ass shaking of Aluna Francis, one half of new London R&B-tronica duo AlunaGeorge.


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Alabama Shakes There’s an all too rare moment this evening when the whole audience falls silent. No chatter, no tweeting, no click of camera phones... just silence... broken only by a howl of pure pain from the band’s vocalist. Hell, even our goosebumps got goosebumps. Yep, Alabama Shakes are in town.


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Team Me It might have been an unseasonably cold and damp Tuesday evening... I say ‘might’, what I really mean is “Damn it! What’s with the freakin’ cold... it’s May already... oy vey!!!”... but tonight did more to warm my cockles (stop sniggering at the back) than a bath in a boiling hot toddy.


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Busdriver Bo! Word to your mother. Break it down etc etc. Yep, tonight Digbeth’s legendary boozer, The Rainbow, is well and truly bouncing along to a hippity hoppity beat kicking off with a rising local collective Abes Oddysee. Keeping it old skool there’s a pleasing hint of of J5’s laid back grooves in this four pieces set. Lyrically they’re focused on the key subjects of young inner city kids these days (1) What the fuck am I going to do with my life? and (2) Where can I score some weed? All four took the mic at various times and the different styles worked well together. Of course there’s a rich history of rap collectives going back to the early 80’s but few young crews (yes, crews...I’m down with the street) seem to be making it right now. Shame. No mention of the local rap scene in the recent NME feature on Birmingham either so kudos to tonight’s promoters Fantastic Damage for giving it more of a platform. “Make hip hop one of your 5 a day” one of ‘em shouted at the start of the set. If it’s this good I’d be inclined to agree with him.


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