The Blinders On this particular Sunday this is definitely our church. Arguably the finest small venue in the country play host to the force of nature that is The Blinders. It marks the halfway point of their first headline tour on the back of phenomenal debut album ‘Columbia’. That it entered the charts at number 54 is testament to the word of mouth buzz that this Doncaster trio have been creating over the last few years.


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Echo & the Bunnymen Echo & the Bunnymen amble into York for the last night of the UK leg of the tour promoting new album ‘The Stars, The Ocean & The Moon’. As the title suggests (Stars Are Stars, Ocean Rain, The Killing Moon) the album is a reworking of old Bunnymen favourites (plus two new tracks), carefully picked by Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, the songs are given a more stripped back ethereal quality. It seems to have split the hardcore fanbase, in particular the transformation of ‘The Killing Moon’ into a piano and strings led ballad but it works. It really works. It’s also a brave move but over a forty year career The Bunnymen have never really played by the rules.


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The Breeders There is something just undeniably cool about The Breeders. I’m not happy with that word ‘cool’ in there. It’s not a word I use. Ever. But I’m going to allow it this once. The Breeders are a band every aspiring musician should want to be in. That has to be cool surely? I mean, this is rock royalty up on that stage. I digress.


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DMA'S Although I struggle with the fact that the Aussies have pretty much dominated The Ashes during my adult years I’m more than happy to concede that the Britpop Revivalist movement is being firmly led by three lads from down under. Made up from the remnants of previous band DMA'S are a Sydney three piece consisting of Johnny Took, Thomas O’Dell and Matt Mason. Debut album, the exceptional ‘Hills End’, landed on these shores in February 2016 to wide critical acclaim and several Oasis comparisons.


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For Now by DMA's DMA's, the Sydney based trio’s debut album, Hills End, landed on these shores some two years ago. Unashamedly Britpop (specifically Oasis) influenced it became a huge word of mouth success backed with a slew of stunning, jaw dropping live shows. Two years later we come to what is traditionally known as ‘the difficult second album’. The teaser singles ‘Dawning’ and album title track, ‘For Now’ had hinted at a band expanding their influences, maturing and searching for their own sound.


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The Vaccines The Vaccines storm into Sheffield on the back of their 4th studio album ‘Combat Sports’, released just 2 weeks previously. It’s hard to pigeonhole The Vaccines. They’re not your standard indie rock outfit, for a start several songs have a definite 50s influence.


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Skinny Lister Have a look at the Xtra Mile Recordings roster. It is a list of some of the finest acts out there. Diverse, but each one worth your time and money. Two of the best live acts this country has to offer are Xtra Mile artists Skinny Lister and Beans On Toast and they’re currently touring their blistering sets around this sceptred isle.


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Public Service Broadcasting Public Service Broadcasting arrive in Leeds halfway through the UK leg of the tour promoting their third album, Every Valley. Recorded in Ebbw Vale it’s an album specifically about the South Wales mining industry although it can easily be translated to include not only any UK coal field but any industry in the Western World. It’s a chronological album taking us from when coal was king, through the miners’ strike to pit closures and finally onto how a community copes when its lifeline has been taken away.


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Starsailor Some time ago I saw four quiet, nervous lads support The Beautiful South at Sheffield Arena. Stage presence was at a minimum. What stood out was the craft in the song writing and the frankly astounding, almost angelic, voice of singer James Walsh. 16 years and five studio albums later Starsailor roll back into the Steel City 6 dates into the UK leg of the ‘All This Life’ tour. The nervousness is now replaced with a confident maturity of a band who know just how good they are and don’t feel the need to shout about it. They remind me of the kid who always gets picked last at football then turns out to be the next Lionel Messi.


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Beautiful Day Out "A Beautiful Day Out" – you couldn’t wish to find a more aptly named gig. Five quality bands on a glorious sunny afternoon in the best outdoor venue I’ve ever witnessed.


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Welcome to the North Certain parts of the mainstream music media will tell you that guitar music is dead and there are no good bands coming through. It is absolute nonsense. There is an absolute wealth of talent just bubbling under ready to explode. Go to any This Feeling gig, especially one of their festival stages, and you will witness the evidence for yourself. George Holmes has worked with This Feeling and was now putting on his own festival of some of the brightest up and coming bands from The North. 16 acts in 10 hours or so on 2 stages. This was gonna be intense. Welcome to the North 2017.


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Dropkick Murphys Sometime in the mid-late 80s I entered Rock City for the first time for what I always maintained was the sweatiest gig I’ve ever been to (Georgia Satellites). Admittedly 19 year old me was front and centre and having a good old mosh. The older, more damaged, me was stood at the back for this one yet still ended the gig drenched with sweat. It was a veritable sauna in there. Admittedly one with bodies flying everywhere in a joyous celebration of one of the greatest proponents of Celtic/Punk there has ever been. I rather think the young me would have had a new sweatiest gig. Dropkick Murphys have brought their juggernaut of a live show steaming once again into a sold out Rock City.


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Black Spiders So where to start with this one. Well the parental advisory message may be both apt and too late but nevertheless anyone of a sensitive disposition should probably look away now. Sometime last year Black Spiders announced they were to be no more. One last gig was planned and that was to be it. The fans clamoured for more and eventually Pete ‘Spider’ Spiby kicked in the door of their collective padded cell and unleashed his Spiders on the UK one last time. An eight date "F*** Off Black Spiders" Final Tour.


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Skinny Lister It’s the second night of Skinny Lister’s headline, sold out UK tour on the back of third album 'The Devil, The Heart & The Fight'. Skinny Lister always seem to be gigging. I have no idea when they find the time to write and record new material but they manage it and the quality never slips. Their third album is glossier and more polished than 'Down On Deptford Broadway' and 'Forge & Flagon' but it still has that distinctive Skinny Lister feel. Punk Shanties I think has to be the accepted Lister genre. Certainly live the new songs get the full on SL treatment.


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