Public Service Broadcasting “This is a public service announcement. We would like to welcome the people of Birmingham to Birmingham Institute. Tonight performing for your delectation and entertainment will be Public Service Broadcasting with support artists the Smoke Fairies. Thank you for coming along and enjoy tonight’s performance. Yes."


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Shawn Smith Shawn Smith is the prolific vocal and creative driving force behind a number of bands over the past twenty years or so, namely Brad, Pigeonhed and Satchel; however he is still relatively unknown and this is clear from the small number attending this intimate show. As he enters the stage, looking like a young Leon Russell, Smith engages with the audience straight away as he takes his seat at the keyboard and begins with the Satchel song Suffering.  Shawn’s voice powers over the keyboard and his distinctive vocal style takes you back to an era of the mid ‘90’s due to his involvement in so many influential Seattle bands. Through his use of humour Shawn Smith made the night informal, and it was more like a friend playing to a group of mates which led to some supportive heckling from the crowd that was received and responded to with sharp wit.


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Calexico It’s always a pleasure to see Calexico perform. Their concerts are fun, they effortlessly mix musical genres and their live musicianship is stunning. The current European tour is promoting their new album ‘Edge of the Sun’.


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Nick Cave Promptly at 8.30, Nick Cave swaggers on stage looking characteristically dapper, in a tailored suit and shirt, and takes a seat at the centrally positioned grand piano. To the one side sits his co-conspirator Warren Ellis, whilst Martyn Casey, Thomas Wydler and a replacement for Barry Adamson take their positions towards the back on a raised part of the stage.


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Man Overboard Tonight felt like I was 13 again hanging out at the Red Rose in Rugeley. The Slade Rooms has an air of the 6th form common room full of hormonal teenagers ready to release some tension by going crazy in the pit. Tonight’s show is a rescheduled tour that was originally meant to see a now defunct Hostage Calm and scandalicious Front Porch Step supporting.


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Theory of a Deadman Tonight playing to a sold out crowd at the Manchester Academy 2 are Canadian rockers, Theory of a Deadman. 10 years since releasing their first record and 5 albums later, its nice the see the band finally getting the recognition they deserve from UK audiences.


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Mike + The Mechanics Tonight the traffic into Birmingham is dire - clearly something has occurred to snare up the road system terribly as we make our way into town. But it’s okay, we know the short cuts. We’re making our way to the delectable Symphony Hall to see a ‘side-project’ that has done very well, thank you every much. This chap may have been in another band that did a tad better - but tonight we’re here to see Mike Rutherford and his band of brothers that make up Mike + the Mechanics.


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Sharon Van Etten Love hurts. Love scars. And there's nobody who quite knows how to document the more painful side of love than Sharon Van Etten. Ever since she first appeared in 2009 with an album inspired by a former partner who smashed up her guitar and told her that her music was pointless (note to that man - you are very wrong), she's specialised in writing love songs that are painful and startling in their honesty.


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Ella Eyre From originally featuring on Bastille’s cover of 'Scrubs' with The XX’s 'Angels' (No Angels) the West London singer songwriter Ella Eyre has made it to number one in the UK charts featuring on Rudimental’s 'Waiting All Night' and has also featured alongside Wiz Khalifa and Tinie Tempah.


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Cancer Bats Even if you aren’t a fan of Cancer Bats you have to concede that these guys know how to put on a show. They enjoy what they do and they take time hanging out with fans in the smoking area prior to their set. The interlude music of Andrew WK fits perfect for these guys to enter the stage.


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Simple Minds Simple Minds are one of those bands that can’t be easily labelled with a single music genre.  This is, perhaps, hardly surprising considering the fact that the band were formed and came to prominence during the late 70’s and early 80’s; a time of rapid change in UK popular musical style.  Perceived by one of this review’s photographer/writers as a guitar band with a generous helping of synth, and opposite way around by the other, it was with eager anticipation that we arrived with cameras and notebooks to witness for the first time the live performance of a band whose music we had enjoyed from its early years.


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PVRIS All the way from Boston Massachusetts, the combination of Lyndsey Gunnulfsen (Lynn Gunn), Alex Babinkski & Brian MacDonald came to Birmingham’s O2 Academy 3. After releasing their debut album ‘White Noise’ towards the end of 2014, the midlands music fans packed a sold out venue to enjoy an 8-song set that would hit everyone square in the face (in a good way).


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Seasick Steve Rarely does the O2 in Sheffield get this rammed, but the fact that the bearded enigma from Oakland, California, Steven Gene Wold, AKA Seasick Steve is in town, has meant that tonight it is full, very full.


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James Bay I won’t deny, I was a bit of a sceptic of James Bay before attending his gig at The Leadmill, Sheffield on Thursday night. Sure, I knew his hit ‘Hold Back The River’, but it was hard not to, considering its popularity on the radio, reaching number two in the UK, with over sixty-four million listens on Spotify (a large percentage of which had taken place in my flat, by my infatuated friends).


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