The Magpie Salute The Magpie Salute bring some Americana, Earthy Blues and Southern Rock to Manchester. Showcasing new songs from album ‘High Water I’, they were so much more than former members of The Black Crowes.


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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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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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First Aid Kit I’ve been waiting for this night for 12 months. I was lucky enough to see First Aid Kit at a one-off show in Shoreditch this time last year and as we all filed out of the town hall that night, I spotted two of the Staveley-Taylor sisters popping backstage to see Klara and Johanna. The thought crossed my mind – wouldn’t it be great if they played a show together. Fast forward a year and here we are – Newcastle O2 Academy for a night of harmony and some of the most beautiful voices you will ever hear.


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John Fogerty The Space Cowboy, Joker and the Fortunate Son prove that old rockers don’t die they just keep rolling on – Bluesfest 2018 at the O2 Dome in London kicks off in style with Jo Harman, Steve Miller Band and then a marathon 20+ song Creedence Clearwater Revival based setlist from John Fogerty.


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U2 I have a history with U2 in that I have managed to miss every UK live tour since turning down tickets in 1983 to see them at Leeds Uni. No malice intended, it just never happened for many reasons – I’m not a fan of huge shows where I can’t see the whites of the artist’s eyes without the aid of a TV screen or a second mortgage, so U2 being the stadium filling £££ generating monolithic enterprise, I have avoided them until now. Having lost Bowie, Prince and Tom Petty and missed the chance of seeing them live for the same reasons, I vowed I would make every effort in future to catch a legendary band or artist before it becomes too late.


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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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Glenn Hughes A year ago in ‘The Church’, a Leeds venue set in... a Church, Glenn Hughes brought his solo tour to Yorkshire, but unbeknown to us at the time when he walked out on stage that night, he had just heard the news that his mother had passed away. It was, to say the least, a very emotional night for Hughes and those lucky enough to be in the room. This hard rocker who has witnessed many ups and downs in his life was significantly reduced in stature by his emotions, but the audience here pulled him through, and he did say that his mother had expressly wished him to go on whenever it happened. That bond has stayed with him for the last 12 months and he now holds Leeds as a very special place, this time though he’s not at the Church, he is further down the road in the University Union and the Stylus bar for his Deep Purple tour.


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Neighbourhood Festival 2018 What better way to spend a Saturday than to run around Manchester’s music venues looking for your next favourite artist. My festival year always starts at Live at Leeds in May and then finishes here in Manchester at Neighbourhood Festival in October. Both of this year’s metropolitan day festivals have been superb, packed to the brim with fresh new talent and if you are prepared to stray away from the larger venues then there are some real goodies to be found amongst the also rans. Be prepared though for quite a trek to some of the places - walking from Albert Hall or Jimmys to the Academy is well over a mile, so I decided early on not to go to those extremes and stay in the nucleus of talent and go to the smaller venues that I hadn’t visited before.


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Albert Hammond Jr Feel Good Indie Rock – Albert Hammond Jr offers some kind Strokes in Manchester. It’s a difficult job for a rhythm/lead guitarist from a highly successful worldwide band to make it as a solo artist. Like Carl Barat without his oppo in The Libertines, you are reduced to playing drastically smaller venues and releasing introspective, much more personal but probably less commercial albums, with various collective friends and acquaintances forming members of your live band.


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Ray LaMontagne Hats off to Ray LaMontagne - He’s ‘Just Passing Through’ but calls in at Sheffield City Hall for an incredible intimate acoustic session. He is an elusive beast this Ray Lamontagne, quick to hide and squirrel away back in his US home, never venturing too far away and therefore in the last 14 years I’ve not managed to catch a live performance ever, in fact he hasn’t even been on these shores for 7 years, despite releasing some stunning albums over that period.


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Jungle There was a large crowd out in Nottingham on Tuesday to enjoy the musical prowess of Jungle a collective of musicians that captivated the ears of British summer barbeques and festivals just over four years ago. The night started with a queue bending around the Rock City venue.


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Manic Street Preachers The first time I saw the Manic Street Preachers was at the Adelphi in Hull back in 1991, at the time they raced through their soon to be released debut double album in 70mph post punk fashion, the sound was abysmal but that didn’t matter as they were the band of their time, fashionably brash and didn’t give a damn about what they said, or who they said it to.


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Bryan Ferry Trying to hold back the years, septuagenarian Bryan Ferry celebrates the re-release of the 45-year-old eponymous ‘Roxy Music’ album and some of his greatest hits at the London Palladium, he still retains the uber-cool style and panache of someone 20 years younger, and the finest sax appeal with Jorja Chalmers in his backing band.


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