Category Archives: Live reviews

Black Country Communion: This is your time

(Photo credit: Eric Duvet)

Black Country Communion | Eventim Apollo | 4 January 2018

Black Country Communion, Glenn Hughes reminds a packed Eventim Apollo, began after he and guitarist Joe Bonamassa performed together at Los Angeles’ House of Blues back in 2009.

Enlisting drummer Jason Bonham and keyboard player Derek Sherinian, the quartet released three albums in as many years, until the wheels came off.

“One day I woke up and decided to be an asshole,” Bonamassa admits tonight during the band’s second live show since reforming. But as the quartet storm through a set drawn primarily from their first two self-titled LPs and last year’s seismic ‘BCCIV’, the hatchet seems well and truly buried.

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Mark Lanegan Band: Still-life with roses in a vase

Mark Lanegan Band | KOKO | 12 December 2017

Mark Lanegan’s voice is so rich and textured that he can, and sometimes does, perform without a full band. But while there’s a purity and intimacy to the stripped back approach, there’s a real thrill to hearing the songs as they were recorded, those robust vocals paired with equally uncompromising instrumentation.

The five songs performed from far-reaching current album ‘Gargoyle’ especially benefit from a full musical palette. Brooding set opener ‘Death’s Head Tattoo’ pairs a motorik beat and rumbling bassline with muted but threatening guitars; the off-kilter waltz ‘Sister’ takes full advantage of keyboards and female backing vocals; the bright and breezy ‘Emperor’, all shiny happy guitars and lush organ swells, swings like an Americana hit on speed; the industrial blues of ‘Nocturne’ would lose its menace without the synth drums and pounding heartbeat bassline; and ‘Beehive’ absolutely needs those jangly guitars and that Peter Hook-Stephen Morris groove to sound like the best song New Order never wrote.

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Bad Touch and Mollie Marriott get it on in Islington

(Photo credit: Laurence Harvey)

Mollie Marriott has hit the ground running. Just weeks after releasing her debut album, ‘Truth Is A Wolf’, the singer is touring the UK as special guest of Bad Touch. No stranger to the country’s stages – earlier this year she supported Paul Weller and Wilko Johnson – Marriott looks and sounds totally at home in front of the Islington Academy crowd.

Backed by a tight three-piece band, she seduces those who’ve come out on a Sunday night with her majestic voice and self-deprecating charm. Able to see only her own face staring back from the T-shirts in the front row, she sings into the dark with all her heart.

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Third Eye Blind face the future at Roundhouse

Third Eye Blind | Roundhouse | 27 September 2017

Twenty years after their self-titled debut album put them on the map – selling over six million copies in their home country alone, spawning five singles including the chart-topping ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ – Third Eye Blind haven’t stopped looking forward.

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Starset cross the universe

Starset | O2 Forum Kentish Town | 24 August 2017

Support bands have it tough. Thirty minutes, at the front of the stage is all they get. If they’re really lucky, their name’s on a banner draped somewhere behind them.

But there’s no need to feel sorry for Starset. Not only do they get almost an hour to play before Breaking Benjamin’s set, they’ve brought a production that would rival many headliners’ (including tonight’s). The perspex drum screen is the first giveaway. Their use of a live cellist, rather than synth patches, is the second.

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Mollie Marriott runs with the hounds

Mollie Marriott | Borderline | 1 June 2017

(photo credit: Laurence Harvey)

“The right backing vocalist will mould their voice to fit the lead singer rather than just stand out and sing in their own voice,” explains Mollie Marriott, a former backing vocalist herself who’s now walked the 20 feet to stardom

“It took me some time to figure out what I actually sound like myself, because you can be quite impressionable as a backing vocalist, picking up bits and pieces from other people.”

But Marriott, who stepped out as a solo singer after working with A-grade talent including Oasis and The Faces, has certainly found her own voice. Powerful and charismatic, with a hint of melancholy, it’s a finely tuned instrument perfectly suited to the confessional, deeply personal songs she’s written for debut album ‘Truth Is A Wolf’.

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Matt Andersen: People get ready

Matt Andersen | The Borderline | 25 May 2017

(Photo credit: Laurence Harvey)

One of Matt Andersen’s favourite albums is Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace’. Recorded with a church choir in 1972, the live LP captures the then 30-year-old singer belting out standards like ‘Climbing Higher Mountains’ as if her life depends on it. “It’s all about the delivery,” he explained to me recently.

The same can be said of the Canadian singer-songwriter’s own performances. Sitting alone on stage, with just an acoustic guitar and a bottled water for company, he strips back his songs to their bare bones. But anything the live renditions lose in instrumentation – none of the drums, brass, and electric guitar flourishes of the studio recordings make it onto the stage – they more than gain in heart and soul.

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