29 June 2016

My Live Catelogue

Glastonbury 2010, a year with rare perfect weather!

Last.FM took away the old About Me section of your profile that used to run down in a column on the right hand side, at a time I'm not quite sure, and with that came the removal of my list of the artists I have seen live and the festivals I have attended. Now to provide a place online for myself to recap on my live music memories when I want to and for others to see for whatever reason, I am posting this here. I feel it gives employers in the events and music industry the impression that I'm not just a list-making maniac, but someone who cares about the many experiences I have had with live music. I believe it shows that I have a good understanding of what a live show and festival entails, from a history of experience witnessing the live entertainment from a wide variety of artists, genres and venues. Elements of these experiences are taken into account when I attend an event in the future be it for business or pleasure.

Seen Live:

Adele (The Brit Awards 2016)
Air Traffic (V.08)
Akon (Orange Rockcorps)
Alesso x2 (Stereosonic 2013/14)
Alicia Keys
American Authors (Optus Rockcorps 2014)
Amy McDonald (IOW.08)
Amy Winehouse (V.08)
Andy C (Stereosonic 2013)
Arctic Monkeys (V.11)
The Automatic
Azealia Banks (Hackney 2012)
Ben Howard (Hackney 2012)
Biffy Clyro x4 (Rockness 2012, Soundwave 2014)
Billy Bragg
Bloc Party x3
Blonde (Southbeats 2016)
The Bloody Beetroots (Stereosonic 2013)
B.o.B (Hackney 2012)
Bombay Bicycle Club (Glastonbury 2010)
Boys Noize (Stereosonic 2013)
Burns x2 (iTunes 2012, Stereosonic 2013)
Bruno Mars (V.11)
Calvin Harris x6 (V.08, V.09, Wireless 2012, iTunes 2012, Stereosonic 2013/14)
Chase & Status x4 (Warriors 2010, V.10, Future 2014)
Chemical Brothers (V.08)
Cher Lloyd (V.12)
Cheryl Crow
Chiddy Bang
Chvrches (Laneway 2014)
Conor Maynard (V.12)
The Coral
Crystal Fighters x2 (V.10)
Cymbals Eat Guitars (Glastonbury 2010)
Daniel Merriweather x2 (V.09)
David Guetta x2 (iTunes 2012)
Dead Kids
Deadmau5 (Rockness 2012)
The Delays (V.08)
Delphic (Glastonbury 2010)
Disclosure x2 (Groovin The Moo 2014)
Dizzee Rascal x5 (V.09, Glastonbury 2010, Hackney 2012, Groovin The Moo 2014)
DJ Fresh x2 (Rockness 2012)
Does It Offend You, Yeah? (Warriors 2010)
The Drums (Glastonbury 2010)
Duke Dumont (Stereosonic 2014)
The Duke Spirit (IOW.08)
The Dykeenies
The Editors (V.07)
Ed Sheeran x2 (Rockness 2012)
Eels (V.10)
Eliza Doolittle x3 (V.10, V.11)
Ellie Goulding x2 (V.10, V.11)
Eminem (V.11)
Empire Of The Sun (Stereosonic 2013)
Enter Shikari x2 (Warriors 2010, Hackney 2012)
Faithless x3 (Glastonbury 2010, V.10)
Flight Facilities (Stereosonic 2013)
Florence + The Machine x2 (Glastonbury 2010, Hackney 2012)
Foals x2 (Glastonbury 2010)
Foo Fighters x2 (V.07)
The Futureheads x2 (V.08)
The Gaslight Anthem
Giggs (Glastonbury 2010)
Girls Aloud (V.08)
Golden Silvers
Good Charlotte (V.11)
Gorillaz (Glastonbury 2010)
Green Day (Soundwave 2014)
Guillemots (Rockness 2012)
Haim (Laneway 2014)
Heaven 17
High Contrast (V.10)
The Hold Steady (V.08)
The Hoosiers x2 (IOW.08)
The Hours
Ian Brown (V.08)
Imogen Heap (Glastonbury 2010)
J. Cole (Wireless 2012)
Jack Johnson (Glastonbury 2010)
Jaguar Skills (Southbeats 2016)
Jake Bugg
Jakwob x2 (Rockness 2012)
James (IOW.08)
James Bay (The Brit Awards 2016)
Jamie T (V.10)
Jessie J x3 (V.11, Hackney 2012, Wireless 2012)
Jess Glynne (The Brit Awards 2016)
Johnny Borrel
Joshua Radin (Glastonbury 2010)
Joss Stone x2
Justice (Rockness 2012)
Justin Bieber (The Brit Awards 2016)
Justin Timberlake
Kaiser Chiefs (IOW.08)
Kano (Southbeats 2016)
Kanye West (V.07)
Kate Nash x3 (IOW.08, Glastonbury 2010)
Katy Perry (V.09)
Kele (Glastonbury 2010)
Kelis (Glastonbury 2010)
Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Rowland
The Killers x2 (V.09, V.12)
The King Blues
Kings Of Leon x2 (V.08,V.10)
The Kite String Tangle (Groovin The Moo 2014)
The Klaxons
Knife Party x2 (Rockness 2012, Future 2014)
Kreayshawn (Wireless 2012)
Krewella (Stereosonic 2013)
KT Tunstall (IOW.08)
Labrinth (Wireless 2012)
Lady Gaga (V.09)
Lana Del Rey (Hackney 2012)
Laura Marling (Glastonbury 2010)
The Lightning Seeds (Glastonbury 2010)
Lily Allen (V.09)
Linkin Park
Little Boots
Local Natives
Lorde (Laneway 2014)
Lostprophets (V.08, V.11)
Lucy Rose x2 (Rockness 2012)
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Future 2014)
Madeon (Rockness 2012)
Magnetic Man (Hackney 2012)
Manic Street Preachers
Marina & The Diamonds
Mark Ronson & The Business Intl x2
Martin Garrix (Future 2014)
Master Shortie
Maximo Park (V.08)
Metronomy (Rockness 2012)
Miike Snow (Glastonbury 2010)
Mindless Behaviour (Hackney 2012)
MK (Stereosonic 2014)
Monsta (Wireless 2012)
Morning Parade
Mumford & Sons (Rockness 2012)
Mummers (V.11)
Muse (Glastonbury 2010)
Mz Bratt
The Naked and The Famous (Groovin The Moo 2014)
Nero (Stereosonic 2013)
Newton Faulkner x3 (IOW.08, V.08)
New Young Pony Club
Noah And The Whale (V.08)
Noisettes (V.11)
Norah Jones (Glastonbury 2010)
Olly Murs (V.11, V.12)
One Night Only (IOW.08)
Owls Eyes (Falls Festival 2013)
Paloma Faith (Glastonbury 2010)
Paul Weller (V.10)
Peking Duck x2 (Groovin The Moo 2014, Stereosonic 2014)
Pendulum x3 (V.09, Orange Rockcorps 09, Warriors 2010)
Pharrell Williams (Future 2014)
Phil Collins
The Pierces
Pigeon Detectives (Rockness 2012)
Placebo (Soundwave 2014)
Poalo Nutini (V.07)
Porter Robinson (Stereosonic 2014)
Pink x2 (V.07, iTunes 2012)
Pitbull (Wireless 2012)
Plan B x4 (V.10, V.11, Hackney 2012)
The Proclaimers (V.07)
The Prodigy x4 (V.08,10)
Rolf Harris (Glastonbury 2010)
Tinchy Stryder x2 (Glastonbury 2010)
Ray Davies (Glastonbury 2010)
Razorlight (Orange Rockcorps 09)
Red Kites (Rockness 2012)
Richie Sambora (Soundwave 2014)
Rihanna x4 (V.11, Hackney 2012, Wireless 2012, The Brit Awards 2016)
Rita Ora (V.12)
Robyn x2 (V.08)
Roll Deep
Route 94 (Stereosonic 2014)
Rudimental (Future 2014)
Sam Beeton (V.08)
Santigold (Hackney 2012)
The Saturdays (V.09)
Savages (Laneway 2014)
Scouting For Girls x2 (IOW.08)
Sebastian Ingrosso (Stereosonic 2013)
Serj Tankian
The Sex Pistols (IOW.08)
Shakira (Glastonbury 2010)
Shed Seven (V.08)
Shockone (Stereosonic 2013)
Showtek (Stereosonic 2014)
Sister Sledge
Slash (Glastonbury 2010)
Sneaky Sound System
Snow Patrol x2 (V.07, V.12)
Scouting For Girls (IOW.08)
Seasick Steve (Glastonbury 2010)
Skrillex (Stereosonic 2014)
Soul II Soul
Stereophonics (V.08)
Steve Aoki (Stereosonic 2014)
Stevie Wonder (Glastonbury 2010)
Stooshe (Wireless 2012)
The Stranglers (IOW.08)
Sub Focus
The Sugababes x2 (IOW.08, V.08)
Swiss Lips
Taio Cruz
Taylor Swift
Tegan and Sara (Glastonbury 2010)
The Temper Trap (Glastonbury 2010)
Thundamentals x2 (Falls Festival 2013, Groovin The Moo 2014)
Timmy Trumpet (Stereosonic 2014)
The Ting Tings (V.09)
Tiësto (Stereosonic 2014)
Tinie Tempah x7 (Glastonbury 2010, V.10-V.12, Hackney 2012, Future 2014, BSTK 2016)
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (Rockness 2012)
Tyrannosaurus Alan (Rebellion 2013)
U2 x2
Vampire Weekend (Glastonbury 2010)
Vance Joy (Laneway 2014)
Walk The Moon (iTunnes 2012)
Wave Racer (Groovin The Moo 2014)
We Are Scientists x2 (Glastonbury 2010)
The Weeknd (The Brit Awards 2016)
White Denim (Falls Festival 2013)
Wire (Offset 08)
The Wombats (IOW.08)
Wretch 32 x2 (Rockness, Hackney 2012)
Wilkinson (Stereosonic 2014, Southbeats 2016) x2
The xx (Glastonbury 2010)
Yes Giantess
The Young Knives
Yr Ods (Glastonbury 2010)
The Zutons (IOW.08)


V Festival 2007-2012
Isle of Wight Festival 2008
Offset 2008
Orange Rockcorps 2009,10
Glastonbury 2010
Warriors Dance Festival 2010
Harvest At Jimmy's 2010
Freeze Festival 2010
Rockness 2012
Wireless 2012
iTunes Festival 2012
Rebellion 2013
Stereosonic 2013,14
Falls Festival 2013
Laneway Festival 2014
St Kilda Festival 2014
Soundwave 2014
Future Music Festival 2014,15
Optus Rockcorps 2014
Groovin The Moo 2014,15
BSTK 2016
Southbeats 2016

The Voice UK 2012
Later...with Jools Holland x2
The Brit Awards 2016

Live Wishlist:

Alex Clare
Basement Jaxx
Clare Maguire
Enter Shikari
Friendly Fires
Jack Penaté
Jessie Ware
Kanye West
Katy B
Lil Wayne
Limp Bizkit

9 October 2015

Take A LIEP Into The Future

Take a LIEP into the future! This new young prodigy of the dance music scene is breaking out of the little Danish island of Bornholm, with the powerful combination of both eager ambition and inspiring talent. Countless hours in the young 19 year old's home studio have lead to a collection of exhilarating tracks and a live show encompassing the sounds of House, Future House, Deep House and the freshest genre of Bounce. LIEP is grasping every opportunity with two enthusiastic hands set to rapid fire on the turntables.

With a profile coming straight out of the Martin Garrix book, a fellow European of the same age who has shot to stardom, going from number one smash 'Animals' in 2013 to claiming the current DJ Top 100 in just a mere 2 years, LIEP is burning to make such an impact in his own merit. Future House king Don Diablo is an obvious idol of LIEP's along with a plethora of influences ranging from Pep & Rash, Oliver Heldens, JAUZ, Curbi, Lucas & Steve, and Tritonal.

At the turn of his 19th birthday, the Danishman made the bold decision to travel across the world, starting in the multicultural hub of Melbourne, Australia. A chance find of underground Melbourne nightclub Hidden Forest, taking regular host of the best Melbourne Bounce DJ's, lead to a meeting with up and coming artist Lefty. Quickly followed was his first booking in Australia at the well respected Blue Diamond, all within his first week of travels. This positive experience on the other side of the world will only enhance his constant hunt for the best, new and exciting sounds. And there's nothing LIEP loves incorporating more into his music than hard hitting rhytmic percussion and a multitude of boosting bass layers, found shining through in his remixes of famous DJ's and his original work. You can guarantee that the production of even bigger and better tunes to keep you shuffling on the dancefloor are already in the pipeline. It's on the dancefloor that LIEP understands is the best way to preview his new music and it's live on stage where he is capable of showcasing buckets full of energy and charisma, making a live House extravaganza not to missed.

Look out for LIEP over the next 8 months as he makes his journey of DJ enlightenment across the globe. Australia, Fiji, Asia and USA have no idea what they're in for.

24 May 2014

Adventures Of The Australian Festival Scene

As UK festivals start promoting the hell out of their annual wild, summer weekends over social media with witty meme graphics and the constant bombardment of ‘Tickets almost sold out! Get yours now (or we’ll tell you to again in an hour anyway)’, the Australian festival season is sadly coming to a close. Alas, the reverse of seasons to this side of the world means Autumn has arrived outside my Melbourne city-view window with grey, rainy days, as the number of festivals plastering their brightly coloured posters around the city dwindles.
Since I arrived in this beautiful country back in November with wide-eyed ambitions of music work experience I have been lucky to attend a surprisingly impressive total of six music festivals (StereosonicFalls FestivalLanewaySt Kilda FestivalSoundwaveGroovin The Moo) for work and one for pleasure, Future Music Festival. Big Day Out narrowly misses out on that first list by an hour as I get screwed over by a food van company I was working for, ‘Running On Empty’ if you’re asking, but that’s another story. And by the way, this wasn’t any glamorous backstage work giving Placebo their ‘raspberries, flowers and incense sticks’ (genuine rider request list I found backstage), but cleaning, wrist banding and volunteering, that kind of stuff. And so to the point of this article, to provide an insight to the Australian festivals that IKE’s audience may one day wish to attend or have already been able to enjoy themselves.   
To read the rest of this article and my reviews of Laneway Festival and Soundwave, head to: www.ikeproductions.co.uk/adventures-australian-festival-scene/

My Festival Merch And What It All Means

(From left to right, top then bottom)

1. Stereosonic, Melbourne Showgrounds (Melbourne), 8/9th December 2013
For my first festival in Australia I was on the Showcleaners cleaning team. I bought my first vest 'singlet' that would later start my trend of buying a vest at every festival I attended. At this electronic dance music festival I got to see David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Nero and many others.

2. Laneway Festival, Footscray Community Arts Centre (Melbourne), 1st February 2014
At this Indie/Rock/Alternative festival I was a volunteer on the wristbanding team. I got to see Vance Joy, Chvrches, Haim and Lorde on the same stage. My second favourite of all the festivals I've experienced so far because of its laid back and feel-good atmosphere.

3. St Kilda Festival, St Kilda (Melbourne), 1-9th February
I was a volunteer for Live n Local week as part of St Kilda Festival which was taking part as gigs in various venues in St Kilda. I was delivering sandwich boards with gig posters, giving out promotional guitar picks and surveying the audience at the gigs. Sunday Chairs were one of the best bands I saw, they played at Prince Bandroom.

4. Soundwave, Flemington Racecourse (Melbourne), 28th February 2014
I was on the Showcleaners team again for this Rock/Metal/Alternative festival. I got to see Biffy Clyro, Placebo and Green Day headline with a 3 hour set. There was a bright blue sky and hot sun all day.

5. Future Music Festival, Randwick Racecourse (Sydney), 8th March 2014
Future Music Festival was my favourite of all the music festivals I've attended so far in Australia, so much so I spent $100 on merch to wear on the day. The festival showcases some of my favourite acts in electronic dance music and hip hop, two of my favourite genres. I booked my ticket before I left home in the UK as it looked like it has the biggest and best lineups. Martin Garrix, Rudimental, Pharrell Williams, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Chase & Status were all awesome. Big party atmosphere.

6. Optus Rockcorps, Prince Bandroom (St Kilda),
I had previously volunteered for Rockcorps in 2008 and 2009 in London where I carried out four hours gardening and painting for a Rockcorps gig ticket. When I heard the well known slogan 'Give, Get Given' on Nova FM at the gym I looked online to find projects in Melbourne. I helped out at second project where the band playing the gig, American Authors came to see us and take part. The gig, although underage, was better than I'd anticipated, they make an effort to put on an energetic show.

7. Groovin The Moo, Bendigo, 3rd May 2014
The purple tshirt is my favourite tshirt of all the merch I've collected, I like the bright colour and cool gold design on it. A friend and I was working on the main gate wristbanding for ths festival. We got to see Thundamentals, Peking Duck, The Naked And The Famous, Dizzee Rascal and Disclosure for a second night in a row. The weather was really cold and it rained quite a bit near the end so we didn't mind leaving early for our train!

5 March 2013

London Girl Goes To The Grammys

...And we don't mean Adele. Adele's now recognisably warm seat at the Grammys may have been a sure-fire guarentee as the current Brit that shifts the most albums - by the shed-load as she still sits comfortably in the top 40 with second album '21' rising back up eleven places on the chart to this week's number 22. Just when you thought her time was finally up, almost two years and two months after its first release in the UK Adele's now legendary sales records have made her a British export in her own right with two multi-platinum albums and a 2013 Grammy to boot. But then you probably already knew all that, or bored to tears of hearing it anyway. 
Step up Beaux Saunders. This little known Jazzy Popper who first caught our attention at an intimate London gig in 2010 (golden-treasure-discovered-at-bottom-of.html) is now blossoming into a pop starlet to be reckoned with. Truly proving that social media has greatly expanded the chances for opportunity, Beaux's manager (Idle Management) stumbled across American producer Daniel Snyder on twitter and asked him whether he had any music in the range of 'pop with elements of country and gospel'. An exchange of emails later and out pops big, perky soul belter 'Ain't That Beautiful'. A few other muscial gems in between and Snyder submits the first track to the Akon-assisted Hitlab Emerging Artist Competition in November 2012. Coming from a website that predicts a song's hit potential it compares different variables with songs that have been hits in the past, Beaux's 'Aint That Beautiful' got a whopping 95%. An appealing verdict for a song gets 70%. Although any kind of technology that predicts a song's commercial ability sounds quite far-fetched to most, it obviously worked out for Beaux as she shot straight into the top ten finalists after a tough judging process. A final round of world-wide voting from Beaux's dedicated and new fanbase was just what this 22 year old West London girl needed to place her in third place and take her to the biggest music awards show in the world, The Grammys 2013 in Los Angeles, USA on the 10th February. After this whirlwind experience of glitz and glamour that most singer-songwriters can only dream of which included a performance of her own at Grammys week, we caught up with Beaux to find out all the gossip!

How are you feeling after the Grammys experience?!

Overwhelmed to be honest. The experience as a whole was surreal.

We're not surprised, what an incredible opportunity. What was your biggest highlight? (There must have been a few!) 
Indeed there were a few. Walking the red carpet was a real insight into how celebrity's operate and just how hectic it is on a minute to minute basis. Also going to Bruce Springsteen's party and having him metres away was insane!

We would have loved to have been at that party. Which music stars did you get to see/meet? 
Well Bruce Springsteen, Taylor swift, Mumford & Sons, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Katy Perry to name a few!

Wow, who knew you would be in such company weeks before! What was it like meeting Akon? 
I was terrified going into the studio but once I was in there it was cool. I just kept telling myself that he's a normal guy and he was once starting out like I am now.

Sounds like the best way to deal with it. What are you working on now that you're back on home turf in London?  
Pretty much have been in the studio everyday since I've been back! Have been working on new material as I got so much inspiration from being in LA.

We're sure that LA inspiration will last a long time, can't wait to hear it. What can we expect from your new music? 
It's pop mainly but there's country, jazz and gospel in there. That sounds MAD but I promise you it works.

Sounds exciting to us! Who and what inspires you when writing and performing your own music?  
In songwriting everything is inspiring from a jingle you hear on an advert to heavy metal. But if I had to choose I would turn to Carol king for good old great songwriting, Fleetwood Mac for being just well the best band of all time, Joni Mitchell if I'm down in the dumps, Hall & Oates/Mayer Hawthorne/Paul Simon if I'm feeling up and Counting Crows if I fancy some light country music.

Can't hear any heavy metal influences shining through just yet! When did you start taking music seriously as a career? 
It took me a long time to realise that I could do what I love and that could be my job, it didn't seem real but properly about 2 years ago when I got management. I could never manage myself, I'd be useless!

Sounds like you must have some good backing behind you. What is the greatest achievement you hope to achieve in your career?  
Aha I was discussing this today in the studio. Hearing my song on Eastenders. That's the actual truth!

Now that's a moment we would love to come true for you, we're sure you'll have it on record if it happens. Any idea when we can expect your next shows and new music? 
I've got all new songs, so the live set is dramatically different and the new music...I'm not even sure - I'm so busy. Watch this space!

Can't wait! Thank you for taking the time out of the studio to speak to us Beaux, good luck with the recording and we'll be ready to freak out when we hear the new material. Let's have a listen to that infectious song that got her there again, 'Ain't That Beautiful'...

7 October 2012

Van Susans, Pushing For Their Break

Wednesday 12th September 2012

Van Susans - EP Release Night
Camden Barfly, London


An early autumn wind blows in the chilled night air, shortly proceeded by a dramatic downpour as I leave the train station for my first visit to prestigious London venue Camden Barfly, and my first experience of the Van Susans live show. As the rain calms down I enter the lowly lit venue and dry off with a fresh pint of cider. Minus the cracked mirror and collection of flies that haunt the toilets downstairs, the venue instantly has a positive and relaxed atmosphere with people chilling out around the outside within its various seating booths. As I discover my way upstairs to the band room, the familiar layout reminds me of several other music venues dotted around the capital. As someone politely gives way to me at the top of the staircase I push through the black double doors and into a second dark room buzzing with chatter. Moving through the people to the centre of the small, rectangular space, first things noticeable are the glowing green 'Barfly' backdrop and the age of the crowd which is mostly young, around college age. A cluster of guys and girls to my left are joking around and taking photos of each other, whilst others stand patiently waiting for their mid-week fix of live music. With high spirits in the air (and unfortunately the smell of someone's passed wind), the warm up act is Indie band Colour Clouds who play their songs to pleasing effect. On the constructive side, this five-piece might be yet to discover a sound that makes them stand out uniquely from the surplus of Indie bands on the gigging circuit. Soon after they finish up, the tall female host with red head band tells us that Van Susans will be up in a moment and you can buy their EP tonight, prior to its full release at the weekend. One lucky EP owner out of 100 will win a golden ticket warrantying them to a date with a band member of their choice. A clever sales tactic, although a prize more appropriate for a strong follower of the band than perhaps one of the first listeners in the room, such as myself.

Van Susans are a pop/rock/folk/indie six-piece, five guys (lead vocals and rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass, keys, drums) and a female violinist, Holly McLatchie, who tonight adds a feminine touch of serenity in a fitted, sparkling black dress. Lead singer Olly Andrews, who has a ruggish look with shaggy hair and whiskers wastes no time and gets quickly stuck into the set. An unexpected twee accent in his singing voice drifts over the rhythmic melodies of the songs which can be picked up quite well. So well in fact that one song gets heads bobbing, particularly a section of the crowd who decide to sway from one side to the next in unison, duly noted by the band afterwards with comedic effect. If the audience were more familiar with their repertoire you get the impression that things could go as far as a full-on barn dance to the chugging noises and soaring choruses of the Van Susans sound. Early on in the set we're told that their original bassist isn't present because he's away playing for Boy George, a 'true story' the band member insists, and his replacement gets the cheer he deserves. It's not long before the room starts heating up due to all the bodies crammed in the room and it becomes a squeeze to get to the bar and back. After a slower song plays out, Olly refers to the tricky piano section he'd written for his fellow band member on keys, who honestly admits to messing up without any hesitation and allows the crowd to laugh along with him. Elsewhere in the set, guitar solos from Ed Dullaway have the crowd enticed, ears anticipating every note, whilst Olly nervously rambles about the lyrical meanings of the songs and what they mean to the band after the odd song. Mid-way through the set and now standing at the back, a young guy decides either he's liking what he's hearing or that now is the time he desperately needs to show his pals how well he can do the shoe shuffle. Manically he moves his feet and I look around wondering if this was a reaction anyone else was expecting to witness. I assume it to be a totally unexpected reaction and he just keeps going.

Olly explains how the next song was inspired by his dad's illness which has been ongoing for a year and a half and how his band mates have helped him through this time. We reach a tender moment in the set when the pace slows down and Olly is assisted by just Ed on piano and Holly on violin. This is the perfect way to perform If I Succeed with a shade of delicate poignancy exposed over the attentive audience. With just a mic in hand, Olly's soul is laid bare in front of the crowd who can decipher the meaning of his heart-felt lyrics. Those that can relate to the song can truly feel the hurt when he sings, 'And I feel so warm from all their support but in truth I've never felt so cold and alone.' With songwriting as strong as this, the audience can truly connect to the lyrics and will keep begging for more. The band really hit their stride when the soaring sounds blend perfectly with the strings and backing vocals from keyboardist Olly Groome. Wonderful harmonies are interspersed with the lead singer's rousing folk-tinged vocals. Pockets of family/friends/die-hard fans show their appreciation throughout with the loudest cheers at the right moments, including a humorous heckle of 'You're cute!' which helps meliorate the positive vibes.

Ultimately there is a feeling that this is a band better suited for bigger stages and that this intimate venue has a slight cramping effect on their abilities. Van Susans need platforms that give them plenty of breathing space to make their own, the perfect scenario being in front of a field full of people at a folk festival in the summer. You can also tell that this band are primed to join the current nu-folk trend and support bigger bands of a similar genre. Ideal support slots would come in the form of a Noah And The Whale show or even Mumford And Sons if they are ever so lucky. In any case, a slot on the XFM radio playlist is definitely on the agenda. Another thing noticeable about this band is their chummy chemistry. They are a tight group that demonstrates 'the band that works well together, bonds together', banter firing back and forth across the stage between songs. The Barfly is a small, intimate venue but there's still enough space to have a good time and for bands to create a positive ambiance if they do well to win round their audience. Lead singer Olly Andrews' stage presence could be stronger and with a boost of confidence he has the potential to gain control of an audience, especially in important circumstances such as tonight where the right influence on new fans would mean encouraged sales of the new album. Although Van Suans are a fairly new band that have only just passed their two year anniversary, collectively they have a convincing charisma which could only be acquired from valuable gigging experience. They play stomping music with uplifting lyrics you want to get to grips with and understand, and if the audience in the room were bigger fans you could sense there would have undoubtedly been singalong moments throughout. Van Susans are on the verge of a break into a brighter future, it's just a question of when and how. Onwards and upwards.

23 November 2011

Ed Sheeran's Dublin Surprise

Tuesday 21st September 2011

Ed Sheeran- HMV Live 
HMV Dublin, Grafton Street 

Sometimes you don't have to look for music opportunities, sometimes the music opportunities will find you...when you least expect it. These rare occurrences can also become the best music opportunities you'll witness. When I took a short trip to Dublin with some of my friends one of those very moments found us. Not only did it make the trip to Dublin ten times better, but it added a whole lot of excitement to my birthday week. 

It all started as we took a casual walk in the centre of Dublin along Grafton Street, day two of our trip. A quick decision to turn down a side street for a toilet stop and a guilt-compulsory-pint at McDaids lead to an overheard conversation. 'There's a long queue outside HMV' came my friend's impression of the Irish man behind us at the bar, queue the giggle and then my sudden pause. 'There's a queue outside HMV?' I retorted with wonder as the realisation of what my friend's unwitting impression could actually mean. Having researched the Dublin music scene before we left as Arthur's Day celebrations approached, I'd happen to have seen a tweet from Calvin Harris saying he was in town. Suddenly putting the possibility of the two together in my head, we rushed out the pub with the curiosity of possibly seeing a queue round the corner related to a Calvin Harris signing or even a gig. We didn't walk far and noticed the queue curling outside the store entrance and round the side of the shop, roughly 20 or so people. With our excitement built from this unlikely sight we went into the store for clues of what the queue was for and posed the question to the first member of staff we came across. Casually, he told us that the people outside were queuing for wristbands, for a gig, a free gig, a free Ed Sheeran gig, tomorrow. At hearing this information my friend and I looked at each other with the most surprised, wide-eyed faces we'd ever seen from each other. As recently new fans of Ed Sheeran and with his debut album '+' currently sitting proud at number 1 back in the UK, we couldn't believe our luck. We quickly joined the back of the queue around the 30 or so people mark reaching round the corner, whilst repeatedly telling the other how unbelievably lucky this moment was. After a 40 minute wait with the line growing more than double than that of people that were in front of us, we knew this moment of standing around in the cold was more than worthy of our time. As the queue started moving we got excited once more and with another friend rejoining us just in time, we were able to receive three HMV Live wristbands from the member of staff. Timidly, we took a wristband each from them as if it was too good to be true and that some catch was just about to strike. With the wristbands safe in our hands for a few seconds, the realisation that there wasn't a catch and tomorrow afternoon we actually were going to a free Ed Sheeran gig, we ran out the shop in a joyous thrill, thoughts of what delights tomorrow's gig would bring.

3.30pm in Dublin city centre soon came around the next day and with our anticipation at a high we decided this was a sensible time to head over to HMV and join the exclusive 250 wristband holders. To our surprise the queue from yesterday had not returned. We strolled into the store and showed our wristbands like we were a trio of VIPs, before stepping carefully down the stairs to the basement 'the studio' as if we could have been some form of secret contraband. We saw a small corner of the store had been set up with speakers, an Ed Sheeran back drop of tessellated '+' album cover signs and a HMV live barrier strip, only two rows of people on the floor behind it. Sitting down crossed legged like we were school children again we had a perfect view, close up to the action that would soon occur. I took the last minute decision to buy the album at hearing word of a signing and sat back down before it was too late. The intimate setting soon filled up with a bunch of people standing at the back, a crowd consisting of 90% young Irish school girls, a few male fans and then us three all the way from Essex. Who knew that before leaving Stansted airport that this is where we would be sitting just two days later. With what must have been all 250 fans crammed in the small space that was available you could sense the tension in the room as everyone waited patiently, smart phones at the ready with terribly bated breath. It wasn't long until screams went up signalling Ed Sheeran's arrival. 

Swiftly moving past us with a flash of ginger hair and navy t-shirt, we sat on the floor clapping our hands with glee as he set up behind the barrier with his small, paw-printed trademark guitar in hand. Cue several girls confessing their love for him and random squeals of excitement throughout the room, Ed greets the crowd with a smile and starts off proceedings with number 3 hit 'The A-Team'. In what has to be the most intimate setting for a gig you could ever experience, his voice gently soars through the emotional song, camera flashes and record buttons pressed by nearly everyone in the crowd. Ed is beyond friendly and keen to interact with the audience as much as possible. A flawless performance of 'Grade 8' follows and the connection between artist and audience couldn't be stronger, everyone singing in harmonic unison, captured helplessly within song's incredibly catchy rhythm. He goes on to explain how he busked and sold CDs on this very same street not many years ago as a teenager, making it clear that this gig isn't just a big deal for us but has a lot of relevance to him as well. Next comes 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You' his current single, young Irish voices singing along with him to every word despite his intense lyrical flow. To our surprise on the spur of the moment he adds a new extra verse just as good as the original four. 

The audience clap, scream and cheer even louder as the song comes to it's sudden close. Much to everyone's slight disappointment Ed announces his next song will the last, but suggests if we're quiet enough he'll be able to do something special. Ed walks out from behind the barrier and moves into the middle of the masses, guitar in hand, and nobody can believe what's happening. Yet more screaming as Ed finds a space for his feet directly in front us. Insisting we have to be as quiet as possible, the crowd hushes and he explains his next song is about his love for building lego. Perfect timing as someone hands him a piece of lego they've made with his name on. The pleasant introductory notes of upcoming single 'Lego House' are played and as he starts singing he conveniently spins around slowly so everyone gets the best view possible. His voice is soft yet soulful and just the same as you hear on his recordings. He conveys the feelings of his heart-felt music with every word.

As the song comes to a close the crowd goes crazy with whistles and shrieks, young Irish school girls truly swooned. Ed exits the room before returning again for an album signing. The tension returns as a manic scrambled queue of Ed Sheeran's biggest fans shuffle around to get nearest to the front. My friends and I get our thirty second moment to meet the greatly talented 20 year old and get his scribble on our albums. 

Leaving up the stairs and out the store in disbelief of what the last hour had just entailed, we all agreed that if you ever wanted the perfect moment with a music artist then that definitely was it. We also couldn't have asked for it to have been anyone else other than Ed Sheeran because no other artist would have made the moment as special as he did. I've seen a lot of live music before and I can honestly say this show managed to match the excitement I've felt previously seeing huge stadium tours. I think I'll always be a music fan that prefers intimate gigs. The experience also meant that I got to enjoy a CD which became my favourite album of the year by the end of what was most possibly my best birthday week ever. But if there was one thing we are thankful for...it has to be our extremely good luck.