Villagers I’d been missing the Villagers for years - always being in the wrong place at the wrong time - another town, or another part of another festival. We made it tonight though, to the modest and cosy interior of Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms.


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John Grant Here at GigJunkies we're lucky-so-and-so's as we go to some fantastic events and festivals. John Grant is just one of those events. Since our review of the intimate Royal Shakespeare Company gig back in 22 June 2014, John has released his glorious "Grey Tickles, Black Pressure" album back in October 2015. Interestingly he touched upon the reason for the title explaining that "Grey Tickles" is a translation from Icelandic to describe entering middle-age, which is a lovely way to see it, far more cheeky and certainly in John's style. "Black Pressure" was also mentioned as being Turkish for "nightmare", which was quite the opposite from tonight, as it was a dream.


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Duran Duran I was very excited to hear Seal would be supporting Duran Duran on tonight's bill at the new plush Genting arena. When he enters on stage a lady in front of me shouts out "I've only come to see you!" which has the crowd laughing, and I must admit, I would have paid good money to just see Seal himself too. Highlights for me are Crazy, and Adamski's Killer, which is just one of those era defining songs from the 90's Acid House scene. There is something so electric about Seal's voice - which is soulful, and yet something more, sitting so well with an electronic track - much in the same way that Rhianna's voice can.


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Leftfield Shock and awe!! Leftfield are playing the O2 Institute in Birmingham... what?! Really?!! For me this was a gig not to be missed. Leftfield's 1995 release 'Leftism' was one of the most important soundtracks of my youth. More than any other record the heady and fascinating rhythms of Leftism, were the perfect accompaniment to a few drinks and 'indoor boogie' getting ready with chums for various heavy techno and psychedelic all-nighters in the heart of Birmingham and it's more bohemian quarters.


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Roy Wood and friends There's nothing like a bit of old skool glam rock to get you in the mood for Christmas... Roy Wood is aiming to make this event at Birmingham's Symphony Hall an annual event, like a brummy variety performance, I'm loving a bit of retro talent to kick off the festivities.


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Burt Bacharach Excitement abounds, and for a Monday night the crowd of gowns and jewels that alight the stairs to the main symphony hall it's clear this is an occasion that's been much awaited. It is in fact the first time that Burt Bacharach has played Birmingham.


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John Grant Gemma Ray strikes me as the sort of girl you might see in a Tarantino movie, with her retro beehiveesque hair, and knife wielding guitar strumming, she’s that heady mix of ‘sweet sixteen’ & edgy B girl femininity. Ray has already a large number of album’s under her belt, and brings a selection here tonight along with her bequiffed and enthusiastic drummer, and shoe gazing bass player. It’s hard to define Ray’s music so many are it’s influences, from bottle slide blues to spaghetti western soundtracks, I’m quite surprised to learn she’s not American (but from the south of England). Central to her sound is the use of a customised Hagström guitar, which she wields with ease, later in the set drawing her large blade like a gun and pulling it across the strings to dramatic effect, eventually discarding the knife like a scene from a fairground sideshow. Ray is the perfect lead in to John Grant, the headline act tonight.


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Troumaca Tonight at the Rainbow really is a night for Brummies to be proud - as both bands on the bill hail from the Midlands. First up is Dumb a four piece who despite their tender years, perform an accomplished and tight set. It’s clear despite their age that their sights are focussed on big things. They play a series of guitar based ballads, which are reminiscent of late nineties American based pioneers Nirvana, Pixies and The Smashing Pumpkins. Dumb keep it short and sweet with a six tune set that certainly gets the crowd warmed up with a few indie chicks drawn to rock out at the front, and at their crescendo big up tonight’s head-liners Troumaca… ’enjoy’.


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AlunaGeorge First on the list is Benedict Taylor a singer songwriter from Hertfordshire. His melodies comprise of slow contemporary vocal and piano based ballads. Taylor's falsetto vocal works perfectly with song highlights including 'Stranger' and "please don't fall out of Love' - a love song "in reverse" Benedict tells us. His heart felt songs certainly warm up this crowd on a cold and wet Tuesday evening.


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Bo Bruce First up is Gary Nock, a one-man vocal and acoustic extravaganza. Nock, starts off by telling us almost wearily that he can be found on a variety of media including facebook, instagram, myspace...blah blah. In a world now consisting of artist's competitive and avid self-promotion through various media, I could see how this could get a little tiresome. Anyway! With guitar in hand Nock belts out a series of nu-folksy heart felt acoustic tunes, the type that is currently very popular as a heart-warming soundtrack to peoples lives.


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Fyfe Dangerfield The Boy Who Trapped The Sun or namely Scottish born and bred Colin Mcleod is first on with his ditties whose influence hales from both the Isle of Lewis where he grew up and London town where he later sought fame and fortune.


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The Destroyers So it's the "The Summer Gypsy Ball" and first on Urban Voodoo Machine... They lived up to their "bourbon soaked gypsy blues bop 'n' stroll" moniker during their performance initially but really came alive during the on stage antics later on in the performance. Most notable was a dynamic double drumming display by the green bearded Booshesque lead drummer and his sidekick. Other delights of their ensemble included the intermittent appearance of a sort of 1920s ‘gong girl’ dressed in a minuscule eastern inspired costume along with Valentinoesque headdress. Her image reminiscent of an old black and white movie still.


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Bellowhead Having previously thought of 'Folk' as being synonymous with quant country fairs, even in its most modern reinvention a genre that lends itself to being played in a natural setting (such as our very own Moseley folk festival). I was surprised and pleased to learn that a whole weekend devoted to folk, was being held at Birmingham's Town Hall. 'English Originals' a 'mini' folk festival, over a weekend in May featured the likes of folk greats Scott Mathews, Beth Orton and new to the scene Graham Coxon. I went for the Sunday helping, with performances from Jackie Oates and the band they call Bellowhead.


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Scott Matthews Do you ever wonder why some experiences stay with you for a long time yet others are forgotten the very moment they end? Well I’m still pondering that very question since attending Town Hall, Birmingham to see Scott Matthews play on Sunday night. For me I’d been looking forward to the gig for a while, and yet with some quite high expectations I was niggled; niggled that the live performance might not live up to his two recorded albums ‘Passing Stranger’ and this year’s release ‘Elsewhere’. Or that his live persona would be haunted by comparisons to the likes of Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley.


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