Paul Smith A beautiful lil’ gathering took place at Birmingham’s Mama Roux’s on Tuesday as Paul Smith took to the stage for a super-intimate showcase of his solo material.


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You Me At Six Tonight at the O2 Academy Birmingham You Me At Six bring their headline tour to the venue for a sold out show. As well as the headline dates they have been performing special anniversary shows to celebrate the 10 year release of their debut album ‘Take Off Your Colours’ where they will play it in its entirety.


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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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Sunflower Bean Self-assured visionary American girls in rock music, there’s an endless supply of them at The Wardrobe in Leeds on a Tuesday night. Jesse Jo Stark, Miya Folick and the incomparable Julia Cumming of Sunflower Bean all hugely impress on only the 2nd date of this UK tour.


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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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Hinds They say that the third time is a charm, this point was proven as Hinds returned to Birmingham. With Sports Team as the high quality support, it was set to be another fun night at one of Birmingham’s newest venues The Mill.


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Seth Lakeman It has been a little over a year since Seth Lakeman last appeared at the Picturedrome. Judging by the familial welcome the packed house gives him, most were here last time around with a few more (like me) who were introduced to his viola and fiddle talents when supporting Robert Plant’s band on the recent Carry Fire tour of Europe and North America.


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Tonight Alive ‘ Critically adored rock band Tonight Alive are embarking on a EU/UK tour for their 10 year anniversary. On top of a normal set (Fully Plugged), Manchester, Birmingham, London and Eindhoven will be given a special acoustic show. All songs have been picked by the fans earlier in the year, so it’s a fan controlled set list.


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St. Paul & The Broken Bones Birmingham Alabama Soul comes to Leeds and Saint Paul Janeway preaches to the converted. St. Paul & The Broken Bones live at the Irish Centre. This gig was supposed to be at The Brudenell, then I saw it advertised as the O2 Academy, eventually we are advised that it has been moved to the Irish Centre, which is exactly where I saw St Paul & the Broken Bones 2 years ago. Inside, this place resembles a large working men’s club with two levels and a handful of seats spread along the walls. It probably hasn’t changed much in 30 years and tonight it will play host to some slick blues and funky soul, some of the best and authentic southern American soul you will see this side of Otis Redding.


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The Aces After recently coming off tour with 5 Seconds of Summer, tonight, The Aces embark on their very first headline tour of the EU/UK. Bringing their first sold out UK date to the Hare & Hounds in Birmingham. For those of you who don’t know The Aces, they are made up of sisters Cristal (lead vocals/guitar) and Alisa Ramirez (drummer) along with Guitarist Katie Henderson and Bassist McKenna Petty.


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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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The Decemberists Against an impressive backdrop of a skull with swirling eyes surrounded by serpents the band enter to the accompaniment ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. For the stage play Greig intended the tune as a dream like fantasy to mark Peer Gynt’s entrance into the troll king’s hall. It is an appropriate choice for The Decemberists as they embark on an evening of whimsy, fantasy and irony.


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Dashboard Confessional Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba enters to Jimmy Eat World’s ‘Sweetness’; rocking a Sabbath shirt. However, the failure to turn the mic on ruined the full impact of his acoustic opener of ‘Best Deceptions’, despite half the crowd singing along hesitantly at the lack of sound before them.


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Neko Case It’s a privilege to catch talented American singer-songwriter Neko Case at her sold-out Leeds gig, one of only two UK dates on the current tour. Neko Case has certainly led a life in music, as a solo artist, as a member of several bands (notably The New Pornographers) and also as a serial collaborator (The Sadies, The Corn Sisters, Calexico and most recently as a member of ‘supergroup’ Case/Lang/Viers).


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