Back in March last year, Fickle Friends, an indie-pop band from Brighton, played at Leeds’ Oporto bar, one of the smallest venues in the city. Just 18 months later, the five-piece have tonight sold out The Wardrobe, a venue four times the size of Oporto, and prove exactly why they deserve to be playing bigger and better stages.
As short cuts from a mixtape are played throughout the venue, the band take to the stage, which tonight is adorned with palm trees, bringing some much needed summer vibes to this autumnal night. Starting with their hit ‘Hello Hello’, the band instantly set the tone for the night; fun, lively and with lots of opportunities to boogie.
As they rattle through hits ‘Brooklyn’, ‘Sugar’ and ‘Cry Baby’, it is overwhelming how much energy the band give to their performance. As a group with five members, it wouldn’t be surprising if one person was not giving it their all, but song after song, all five of them give all the energy and enthusiasm they have. Props to lead guitarist Chris Hall whose ginger hair flicking and constant bouncing around does not go unnoticed.
“I promise on the record I have a good voice. Just not f***king tonight.”
Battling the one thing singers fear most on tour, the dreaded cold, 22-year-old singer-songwriter Tom Grennan shows no signs of taking things easy, as he performs a sold out show with as much commitment and enthusiasm as any other. If it weren’t for the apologies given left, right and centre for his lack of voice tonight, it would be hard to tell that this Bedford born singer was under the weather.
After a remix of the classic Coronation Street theme tune begins the show, Grennan opens with his latest single Royal Highness. Despite the cold, Grennan’s voice instantly hits you with its raspy tone. His rather sexy vocals draw the audience in and leaves a majority of the women melting inside (some are more open about their feelings, with one girl on the barrier shouting, “I’d be happy if you gave me your cold, Tom!”)
Embarking on the second night of their headline tour, and impressively their 90th gig of the year, Reading four-piece The Amazons take to, arguably, Sheffield’s most famous venue, The Leadmill. Steeped in decades of history and notable performances from the likes of The Killers, The Libertines and, Sheffield’s finest, The Arctic Monkeys, the 1980s music venue tonight plays host to another indie-rock band whose energy and passion could, in the not too distant future, see them upgrading and playing Sheffield Arena.
Opening with early single Ultraviolet, the crowd instantly set the tone for the night, as a mosh pit appears in the sold-out 900-capacity venue. This becomes a regular occurrence throughout the night, as does hundreds of denim jacket laden fans singing along word for word to almost every song off the album; an impressive feat given that it has only been out for four months.
The city of Leeds is cold and wet, resembling a miserable winter’s day more than an evening in Spring. But in Oporto, a bar and live music venue in the lower end of the city, the atmosphere couldn’t be further from the glumness outside. As you step inside, the warmth coming from the people tightly packed in the venue hits you, before the intensity of people chatting at the bar, mixed with the sounds of support acts PEAKES and Diving Station, sets the mood for the evening.
The reason Oporto is full to the brim with people of varying ages is because Leeds 5-piece Heir are launching their latest single I’ll Pick You Up. The alternative pop band who formed in 2015 have had a successful couple of years, gaining support slots for the likes of Honne, Lawson and The Dunwells, and have recently been announced to perform at this year’s Live at Leeds Festival.
Tonight is the biggest night of Larkin’s career so far. The Manchester four-piece have successfully sold out the 700 capacity venue but most importantly, they’ve sold out their biggest headline show to date. As the audience gradually pile in, support acts The Nix and Corella give remarkable performances, setting the mood and getting the crowd excited and energised for the main event.
As the room darkens and the stage is lit with flashing strobe lights, Larkins file on one by one, picking up their instruments for opening number Velvet. For many bands, playing a headline sold out show would be a daunting prospect, but any nerves that may have been felt were kept firmly hidden. Velvet sets the bar high and the live performance is notably made better than the studio version by frontman Josh Noble’s vocal ad libbing between verses.
The past 10 years for Busted have been a strange mix. Having split on bad terms back in 2005, the three-piece boyband went their separate ways. Charlie toured with Fightstar before turning to a solo career. James formed pop rock band Son of Dork and turned his hand at writing a West End musical. And after a brief stint in rehab after the band split, Matt launched an arguably unsuccessful solo career and dabbled in acting with a brief appearance in EastEnders.
After a few years out of the spotlight, James and Matt joined forces with McFly in 2013 to form the super group McBusted. They did two successful tours, performing classic tracks by both bands, as well as songs from their new joint album. Whilst many enjoyed the invention of this new super group and the opportunity to hear old Busted songs, there was one question that hung over like a dark cloud; is Charlie coming back? At the end of 2015, after McBusted had fizzled out, speculations of Charlie returning to Busted were rife on social media, and in November that year, everyone’s wishes came true; Charlie was back. Having released their third album Night Driver at the end of 2016, the band are now performing it live across the country, arriving in Manchester on Thursday night to a packed out venue.
Beans On Toast
A Spanner in the Works
[Xtra Mile Recordings]
It is without doubt that 2016 has been one of those years that won’t be forgotten for a long time. With momentous showbiz deaths, a US election like no other and the biggest shake up of all, The Great British Bake Off announcing its move to Channel 4, 2016 has dealt all its wild cards at once but with no spectacular jackpot at the end. That was until DIY folk singer Beans On Toast released his latest offering, with a fitting title, A Spanner in the Works.
For the eighth consecutive year, Essex born singer songwriter Jay McAllister has stuck with tradition and released this album on 1st December, notably his birthday. With seven albums already to his name, his latest record sees him embracing technology to create an album that was recorded at his friend’s house on solely his laptop. With him fully embracing his DIY culture, A Spanner in the Works offers a mixture of genres and styles from heartfelt, personal songs to tracks with political subjects that only an artist like Beans is quite brave enough to sing about.