James Vincent McMorrow With Rob Bravery at Plug, Sheffield 10/02/2012

A young bearded man by the name of Rob Bravery took to the stage to a fairly packed room at Plug, with a guitarist and piano he gave a delicate and acoustic performance of his incredible debut ‘The Elusive Crux’. Despite well structured songs it is his unique and soft voice that grips you as it closely resembles Elliot Smith.  Rob Bravery’s downfall is that by playing acoustically there isn’t any upbeat moments to soften the intense set; however that is offset by his bravery to appear alone on the stage and deliver an incredible performance for a support act.

Starting with the faster paced Sparrow and the Wolf James Vincent McMorrow starts the show with a lively song which engages the now packed venue. It is when the slower more delicate offerings are performed that the gig notches up a gear, as his powerful falsetto voice captivates the audience and creates silence within it; this is particularly the case when the backing band left the stage for James Vincent McMorrow to perform We Are Ghosts and Higher Love acoustically. He was a timid character on stage, announcing that he was supposed to play a smaller venue but had been upgraded, he shyly bantered with audience members who shouted marriage proposals and love for his beard; however this shyness was not apparent when he was playing as his stage and voice presence was so large it consumed you as an audience member leaving behind goose bumps.

Howler with Man Made at Leeds Cockpit 3/2/2012

Stood alone on the stage with a guitar and a gold sparkly jacket the brave 19 year old played to a fairly packed audience. It is clear Nile Marr aka Man Made has inherited his father’s genes, the one and only Johnny Marr, but what makes him stand aside from his father is his emotive singing and striking song writing ability. It would have been interesting to hear the live performance with a full band as at times he was a little static; however at such a young age it was a fine performance of a wonderful EP. After Man Made’s set came to a close he quickly abandoned the jacket and donned a hat to become one of Howlers roadie’s showing how intimate the tour had become.

After supporting The Vaccines and releasing their debut album it was clear Howler were riding on a high, as they walked through the packed crowd to the stage. Technically the band played well, the Cockpit (as always) provided a great venue for both vibe and sound quality; the band also bantered well with the crowd from telling stories of how they offended the Scots to wearing audience members hats. However, Jordan Gatesmith was drunk and continued to drink from a whiskey bottle, he was swearing and spitting; this created a shambolic feeling to the gig as guitar strings were broken; the problem is it felt like a check list of how to be ‘rock n roll’ rather than coming naturally. However, it is refreshing to see a band embrace the image which perhaps hasn’t been seen since the early to middle noughties. Their set was enjoyable as the crowd lapped up performances such as Told You Once and Back of Your Neck, but just like their album it felt a little disappointing and unoriginal.

The Crookes Live At The Queens Social Club, Sheffield// 17/12/2011

So this review might be slightly late but since seeing the band I have not been able to access the world of the internet, until now…

It was clear how much Sheffield loves this band and it was equally clear how much the band loves Sheffield, their hometown. The band delighted the crowd by playing the foot stompers Bloodshot Days, Backstreet Lovers and Bright Young Things as well as treating us to a wonderful cover of Santa Baby (well it was Crookesmas). The band was energetic and George Waite excelled as front man, while his hair bounced along to the beat and for a moment I thought I was watching Michael McIntyre. The concert was excellent and it was clear the crowd and the band were enjoying themselves, however you couldn’t help feel the venue wasn’t equipped well enough in particular for sound quality, while I felt the stage was too small for the band.

The first support act: Silent Film Project were good but they were an average indie band; pleasant to listen to but lack that tune that sets them apart. The second support act was Sissy and The Blisters who were fantastic, they provided a fresh sound of garage rock similar to early Horrors and are definitely worth seeking out further. The Crookes gave a fantastic performance and it is hard to understand how these guys are not bigger. The band tells the crowd that it has been their “best ever gig” and was an “absolute pleasure to be home” but it is safe to say the pleasure was all ours. Thank you Crookes for a great Christmas present.

The Vaccines Live At The 02 Academy, Sheffield

The Vaccines are a rare bread in the music industry using and infusing chord progression and musical styles that we have heard before yet managing to place their own identity within the songs to create something very memorable. Another key element to their style and success is that the songs are short and snappy or anthemic. Thus seeing one of the most exciting bands of 2010 was something I could not pass up.

The academy was pretty full by the time the first support act Howler came on stage possibly one of the most suitable support acts for The Vaccines, considering they sound like a mix of The Strokes and The Vaccines. The band had a good stage presence with some good songs to accompany them. Whilst the second support act: Frankie & The Heartstrings were a disappointment, musically they were pretty average, however Hunger is a pretty darn fine song, but it was singer Frankie Francis who let the band down, he was far too much into himself rather than the crowd (who threw drinks at them) whilst attempting to channel Ian Curtis (of Joy Division) badly.

It was after 9.30 by the time The Vaccines had come on the stage with their immense song ‘Blow It Up’ and they were fantastic; but it was their second song ‘Wreckin Bar’ which saw both the crowd and band burst into energy, from then on out it was a monster of a show. The band was able to combine both upbeat garage rock whilst the slower songs (All In White, Wetsuit) resulted in a mass sing along. The band also previewed a new song which sounds like it could quite happily sit within the first album but it was bloody awesome.

The band technically sounded great better than their album in fact. Whilst the light show complimented the set really well. The band was enthusiastic and knew how to work the crowd, particularly on the slower more anthem songs.

With killer hooks, anthems and a bloody great live performances it’s not hard to see why The Vaccines rose so quickly from the underground scene; and there are few bands that deserve this success more.

Set List

  1. Blow It Up
  2. Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
  3. Tiger Blood
  4. A Lack of Understanding
  5. Wetsuit
  6. (New Song)
  7. Post Break Up Sex
  8. All In White
  9. Under Your Thumb
  10. Wolf Pack
  11. If You Wanna
  12. Family Friend
  13. We’re Happening (Encore)
  14. Norgaard (Encore)

The Subways Live at Sheffield

Last time I saw this band it was 2008 at Leeds University and they blew my young teenage socks off, they instantly became one of my favourite bands to watch live, so expectations were high for this gig.

The band was supported by The Dancers (who I unfortunately missed) and The Computers (who I unfortunately saw). You can’t knock The Computers enthusiasm, but there songs are far too weak and clichéd, the front man too, spent most of his time at the front of the crowd off the stage, this is fine but not for most of the set, as those at the back were left to watch a static band, furthermore you can’t help think that they were trying too hard to be ‘cool’.

Anyway that is enough words used on a poor band now for the main article. When Charlotte Cooper comes bouncing on stage and Billy Lunn gets the crowd to cheer at the wave of his arms, I realised that my expectations had just been blown away. All credit must go to Josh Morgan who kept the beat going while Billy and Charlotte provided a gem of a show bouncing to each end of the stage; along with sing alongs, a giant circle pit and crowd surfing galore, you realise that this is a very rare beast of a band.

The set is also tight, it doesn’t let up; you’re hit wave after wave of pure tunes but it is the encore which provides the best part of the night, ending with Kalifornia, 1am and It’s a party, the crowd become more mental while Billy leaps into the heart of them.

Ending with It’s a Party was a fantastic choice, the lyrics, the music all talk to the audience, who are all there for a good time and it certainly doesn’t get much sweeter than this. Noel Gallagher recently said that Oasis were the last rock n roll band, but when you watch the spirit of this band you can’t help thinking how far from the truth he is.