Category Archives: Live reviews

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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Dan Patlansky: Bolder, braver, better

Dan Patlansky | O2 Academy Islington 2 | 2 May 2017

(Photo credit: Richard Bolwell)

Want to improve as a guitarist? “Push the envelope all the time and try to learn something new every time you play,” suggests Dan Patlansky.

The blues-rock musician, and one of the genre’s brightest stars, certainly doesn’t need to heed his own advice. But, even after 20 years of honing his craft, he clearly seems to be. So much so that every time he returns to the UK, the South African’s playing is even more impressive than before – bolder, braver, better.

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Craig Finn: There’s a darkness in my body

Craig Finn | The Courtyard | 19 April

During Hold Steady gigs, Craig Finn opens his arms as if to embrace the audience. Tonight he does one better. He opens his heart.

There’s not just a vulnerability to performing alone with an acoustic guitar, these minimalist renditions give his already engaging musical stories fresh hits of immediacy and intimacy. Pair that with candid between-song chat, at times as poetic as his lyrics, and this evening in a rammed, sweaty basement venue is a masterclass in self-revelatory storytelling.

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Joe Bonamassa: Don’t fly away

Joe Bonamassa | Royal Albert Hall | 20 April 2017

(Photo credit: Laurence Harvey)

Joe Bonamassa has no trouble selling out two successive nights at Royal Albert Hall. He could certainly afford giant video screens to show his flying fingers in extreme closeup. Or, at the very least, his name in lights.

But this man on the precipice of 40 is not that kind of performer. A class act who’s clearly paid attention to the finest detail, from the subtly monogrammed music stands to the backing singers’ perfectly synchronised sashaying, he’s intentionally created an environment that doesn’t distract from why everybody’s really here: the music.

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