Fairport's Cropredy Convention Everyday there is a cavalry charge at Cropredy when the gates open. But these aren't your standard gig junkies wanting to plant their elbows on the stage. These are regulars with camping chairs and picnic blankets looking for the best seated view half-way up the slope in front of the mixing desk. If you never felt more like sitting the blues this Oxfordshire festival is the one for you.


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Boat To Row The Castle and Falcon is undergoing something of a renaissance within the Birmingham music scene. Its industrial brick walled cavern of a gig room has played host to artists such as Cloud Nothings, Boy Azooga, Deap Vally and Yak, in the past year alone. The thought of heading down for my latest fix of music in one of Birmingham’s more intriguing venues really pulls me through an arduous day of work. Boat To Row will headline proceedings, with the undercard being Katherine Priddy and Faux Palms. I must say, I've not seen any of them live before but let’s see what I’m in for.


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Hands Off Gretel Allow me to introduce the bubblegum-coated blaze of glory that is Hands Off Gretel. They describe themselves as having “Gwen Stefani style swagger” with “Nirvana-esque grunge”, and I’d say that pretty much sums them up. Their sound is heavy and dirty, with the type of energy and beat that would make the devil himself want to dance.


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Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs stormed into The Hare & Hounds. The five piece Geordie rockers packed the room to the rafters and not a big bad wolf was in sight. With the heat of the room rising, front man Matt Baty shouted to the back regarding sound distortion "Have you got any tape as this keeps slipping and causing impromptu solos?" This all unknown to their adoring fans who were having such a good time they hadn't even noticed.


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HRH Metal 2019 Once upon a time, there was a young writer who found herself presented with the opportunity to review a music festival. But ah! This wasn’t just any festival. This was HRH Metal 2018, and a more magical experience the writer couldn’t possibly have imagined. Sadly the spell only lasted for one weekend, and she had to leave the enchanted world before the O2 Academy turned back into a pumpkin. Or something like that. Many moons she waited for the festival to return. At last, her patience is about to be rewarded. Take her hand and walk with her into the mystical depths of the metalhead Heaven which is Hard Rock Hell. (It’s me, by the way. The writer is me. ‘Sup.)


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John Smith Confined within the grade one Georgian church, fairy lights twinkled from the rafters as the historic St Paul's church's pews filled up with patrons eagerly awaiting the fun filled folk night ahead. The refined crowd waited in anticipation as candles flickered on the stage for the intimate evening with John Smith and Katherine Priddy. Huddled in the wooden pews the crowd clapped loudly as Katherine appeared at the altar.


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All Saints Fans heading to the iconic Birmingham Institute certainly knew where the hottest tickets in town were at as All Saint’s Testament Tour rolled into the second city.


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Kurt Vile Kurt Vile emerges, partly hidden behind a mop of hair, along with his backing band The Violators. They open with ‘Loading Zones’, the first track of his latest album ‘Bottle It In’, and certainly the most popular. It is pretty awesome – it has all the best of his finest work. The instrumental is strong but relaxed, and cleanly played. His voice is powerful but mellow. He sings, almost speaking, plucks his guitar with effortless skill. His music is easy to enjoy; smooth, quirky and assured.


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Wooden Shjips Wooden Shjips open their set with fragments of sound and a TV static type lighting effect. The lights pulsate as the beat creeps in, and I find myself being hypnotised by ‘Eclipse’. This is the opening song of their 2018 album ‘V.’, and a gorgeous representation of their ‘garage-styled psychedelia’. The firm bass and drum instrumentals, layered with murmuring vocals from Erik ‘Ripley’ Johnson, are entrancing.


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Garbage Let me begin with a word on the venue. Digbeth Arena is not an arena. That would be too grandiose a term for what is essentially a small space between a railway track and a old viaduct. The enclosed nature of the space acts as a natural amphitheatre that results in possibly the best sound quality I have ever heard at any gig. In short, this is a dream performance space for any artist worth their salt. In Birmingham, we are treated to three bands worth enough salt to keep the second city in fish and chips for a lifetime...


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Moseley Folk Festival 2018 The festival god's blessed the 13th Moseley Folk Festival with glorious sunshine for the whole three days, which is only fair and right seeing as how they damned Moseley’s sister festival, Lunar to a torrents of rain for much of that weekend. And no matter how much rain makes for the "proper" festival experience, being dry, warm to hot (possible for the last time this year), makes for a much more pleasant festival. So karma readdressed and lucky 13 for some and all, Moseley got under way on the afternoon of Friday 31st August.


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RDE and Setting Son Records Presents The August Showcase Welcome to the latest instalment of ‘Stop being lazy – it’s Sunday Funday!’ If the local music scene has taught me anything, it’s that there is always, always something interesting happening on a Sunday night. Get yer gladrags on. Sleep is for wimps. (Cue the sound of me snoring in the distance.)


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Lunar Festival 2018 Seven weeks of continuous hot glorious sunshine, an unrelenting heatwave that England hasn’t seen the like of since 1976. What perfect conditions to send a weekend outside and put all that extraordinary weather to good use at Lunar Festival 2018. Friday 27th July is one such day, swelteringly hot, a few tufts of little fluffy white clouds in a brilliant blue sky and the sun super-heating the festival site and festival goers as they unload various bits of camping equipment for the weekend.


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Nouvelle Vague This tour is being billed as the Acoustic Shows Tour so tonight Nouvelle Vague are a stripped down four piece consisting of acoustic guitar, keyboards, a fine collection of hand-held percussion instruments plus a melodica. It’s fair to say that the boys haven’t gone overboard as regards stage costume; functional workaday jeans and trainers seem to do the job. Whereas Melaine, in a black velvet backless dress and Élodie in a long split skirt with lace top, look chic, classy and like they’re ready to tango in a 1920s Parisian nightclub.


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