Anderson .Paak Anderson .Paak has been on an unstoppable rise over the past two years. Every album, track or even feature released, just seems to get better and better. Ahead of his weekend slots at Reading and Leeds he announced an unmissable warmup at the O2 Academy. The sold out crowd were in for a special night.


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Sharon Van Etten Sharon Van Etten’s (SVE) four piece band (drums; bass; two keyboards) take the stage and a stark drum beat sets the scene for a minute or three. The cool promise of ecstasy fills the air before Sharon appears with just microphone in hand and belts out the line: ‘our love’s for real’. Everything about her is unrecognisable from when I last saw her seven years ago at the Queen’s Club in Sheffield. She’s embraced the classic rocker look - think Chrissie Hynde - shorn black hair; tattoos, red lippy and leather pants but what is remarkable is the confidence, swagger and sheer energy that she brings to the performance. Her moves are positively Jagger-esque (‘touching your face’) and tightly choreographed as she poses for the cameras and commands eye contact. The sound is bigger, darker, keyboard heavy and mostly guitar free.


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Yo La Tengo Yo La Tengo (YLT) have been around for some 35 years and have 15 studio albums to their credit. Since Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley formed the band they’ve had 14 bass players, but James McNew has occupied that spot since 1992, so they are now a very stable musical trio. When asked later how the band manages to be so relaxed on stage they agree that it’s down to their confidence in each other as musicians.


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Nile Rodgers & CHIC Meltdown is the longest running artist-curated music festival in the world. This year is it curated by the legend that is Nile Rodgers. I don’t use the word 'Legend' frivolously - he is a three-time Grammy award winner as well as recently been inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame. There is no doubt that Nile Rodgers is truly exceptional. But more important that any of that – this man knows how to throw a party! Nile Rodgers & CHIC are opening the festival to a sold-out audience and a good time is guaranteed.


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Anna Calvi Anna Calvi is an artist who seemed to emerge fully-formed with her acclaimed debut album in 2011. Winning early endorsement from luminaries like Brian Eno and Bill Ryder-Jones, she played support gigs for the likes of Nick Cave and The Arctic Monkeys before she had even released an album. The debit album spectacularly demonstrated her abilities as a singer, songwriter and guitarist, as well as demonstrating a trend-setting grasp of style and presentation in the vein of early Roxy Music. Her third album, ‘Hunter’, was released in 2018.


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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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Graham Nash Opened in 1901 the Victoria Theatre provides a splendid venue for Graham Nash’s visit to Halifax. Now aged 77 years Nash’s trim figure and bone-white mop of hair puts all of his former collaborators and most of tonight’s audience to shame. He has aged well. More importantly the voice has barely changed… he hits the high notes on ‘A Day in the Life’ in a way that McCartney and Young can now only dream of.


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Doves After a 9 year hiatus that came at a time when the Manchester band had just achieved a seldom seen kid breakthrough of their own with Kingdom Of Rust, Jimi, Jez and Andy, aka Doves are back. Their show at Somerset House proved that the band have picked up exactly where they left off, and reminded us why they are one of the greatest British bands of modern times.


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Jonathan Wilson Jonathan Wilson has not played here before but some of his pals have rightly endorsed the venue. Wilson is much smitten by the surrounding topography which he likens to his home in Topanga Canyon, Los Angeles, albeit without the bobcats, coyotes and mountain lions. There are plenty of sheep in Hebden Bridge as a consequence.


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Andy Black Tonight Andy Black brought his ‘The Ghost Of The United Kingdom’ Tour to Birmingham’s O2 Institute which concluded his UK run of dates with support from drag queen artist Adore Delano.


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Frank Turner Frank Turner is definitely an old favourite of mine, so when I spotted he was bringing his unique brand of folk-punk to Coventry, I jumped at the chance to go and see him again. Fresh off the Glastonbury stage, he came to Coventry to help raise money for Way Out Arts, an arts programme in Sierra Leone that changes the lives of street, vulnerable, and conflict affected young people through the arts. It’s a very worthy cause, so go check it out!


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Tash Sultana After becoming the first artist to sell out three nights at Brixton Academy before even releasing their debut album, Tash Sultana returns, 9 months later, but this time at the spacious Alexandra Palace, which houses more than double the amount at Brixton, for the opening night of the 'Flow State' World Tour.


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Backstreet Boys What has the world come to? It’s been making me so distraught! What the hell has happened to boybands??? They’re all in mismatched clothes; they move about the stage with no purpose; and sometimes even have the audacity to play live instruments. That’s not what I want. I want matching outfits, synchronised dancing, over the top harmonies and cheddar cheesy key changes! It’s a good job that the world’s number one selling boyband stopped by England’s capital for a couple of shows. Back to basics and back in town. BACKSTREET IS OFFICIALLY BACK, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.


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Foals Foals take Birmingham by storm for two sold-out nights of pure magnificence. Without a doubt, Digbeth Arena is one of Birmingham’s most creative and innovative music venues, boasting an impressive large open-air space bordered by railway arches and loading bays. Ready to take the packed space on a journey through jittery dance rock and spacey atmospheres, Foals jump onto the stage performing new material from the off, a bizarro rendition of an instant bop hit, ‘On The Luna’ graces the crowd this evening, fresh off the grill from their latest album, 'Part 1 Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost'. The boys immediately lead into one of the their most popular hits, ‘Mountain at My Gates’. This pulsating duo of opening tracks raised hands and pints across the arena. And as if bringing luscious guitar licks and harmonies wasn’t already enough, Foals’ latest stage design incorporates captivating abstract video design in the background to really transport you to another place.


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