James I was particularly looking forward to this one. James have always been a band I’ve admired but one I’ve never really got to know better. The last time I saw them Adamski was Number One which shows just how lax I’ve been and it was high time I found out how the band had matured. (More than me I was to find out).


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Frank Turner Anyone who knows me will know I love a good name drop so let’s get that out of the way first. I was lucky enough to be involved with a live interview with Frank Turner on Sine FM the afternoon of the gig. I mention this not only for shameful name dropping but also because one of the things we touched on was support acts for the tour. Frank hand picks his support acts and they are invariably worth watching.


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The Icicle Works Early start for this one but Ian McNabb doesn’t mess about when it comes to playing live. The first time I saw him (solo acoustic set) he informed us to phone the babysitter to let them know we’d be late. Tonight the current Icicle Works line up is on stage for 8pm and leave at around 11pm. Even with a 15 minute break that’s serious value for money.


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Catfish and the Bottlemen So even though it’s the biggest venue in my home town (4000 capacity give or take) I’m not a huge fan of The Dome. It just seems the wrong shape and bands have often struggled with the sound there. It is after all a sports hall. I’ve seen Weller, Manics, Levellers, Faithless and The Beautiful South struggle there. The only band I’ve seen really nail it have been Kasabian. So given this was also my first time seeing Catfish and the Bottlemen stepping up to a larger room it promised to be an interesting evening.


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The Wonder Stuff There’s gigs, there’s great gigs and then there’s gigs when everything is just perfect and lodges itself permanently in your music sodden brain. For the perfect gig certain things have to fall into place, in this writer’s humble opinion. The venue has to be intimate but large enough not to feel claustrophobic. The sound has to be top notch. We’ve all been at gigs where the sound is such a mess that a band can be 2 minutes into a song before you realise you know said song, and know it well. The crowd have to be up for it without being over the top. The bands have to be on fire but more than that they have to be enjoying themselves. A band who look like they don’t want to be there are just no fun at all.


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Public Service Broadcasting Public Service Broadcasting’s debut album Inform-Educate-Entertain (with the emphasis on Entertain) seemed to come out of nowhere to a myriad of excellent reviews. Coupled with live shows that took the whole PSB concept to another level Public Service Broadcasting were obviously ones to watch, although every review seemed to come with the caveat ‘limited shelf life’.


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Dropkick Murphys The pipes start playing and we’re into Your Spirits Alive. Rock City is already bouncing with bodies flying everywhere before security drag the crowd surfers out, usher them to the side of the pit so they can dive in and start again. Dropkick Murphys are relentless. It’s a full frontal Celtic punk assault and it’s magnificent. A 26 song set picked from the majority of their back catalogue with some spectacular covers thrown in for good measure. (The reggae/Celtic Guns Of Brixton was very special indeed). First of these covers was AC/DC’s T.N.T. As bassist/singer and primary songwriter Ken Casey has stated, ‘I think our goal is to be the AC/DC of Celtic punk rock’.


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Frank Turner Well this promised to be special. Frank Turner’s first gig of 2015, solo, in an intimate venue. This year’s Independent Venue Week ambassador playing in a venue we nearly lost last year, as part of IVW. Perfect.


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The Struts OK a few things to get out the way first: I love The Struts. Like really, really love them. Makes doing an objective review tricky but I’ll try. Secondly I have a couple of issues with them. One: They’re too good for their own good and Two: Live, they are bad for my knees. (I’m 46 you know).


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Galtres Festival Galtres opened with Doncaster band and personal friends Bang Bang Romeo, their first performance on a main festival stage. No surprises in that they nailed it. Just a shame more people couldn't see them due to the site opening not long before they came on stage. I spoke to a few people that night who could hear the band from the queue and were gutted they didn't get to see them.


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