April Highlights

Posted: Wednesday 9 May 2018

Uh, where did April go? Anyone else feel like last month absolutely flew by? And don't even get us started on the weather. Whilst we were trying to decide whether or not it was time to get our summer wardrobe out, we also enjoyed some amazing live shows all over the country. Here are some of our highlights from April...

If you’re looking for an album to soundtrack your summer, then look no further than George Ezra’s latest offering, Staying At Tamara’s. Performing at O2 Academy Brixton not long after its release, you could practically feel the sunshine filling the room, with multi-coloured lights shimmering along to the jangly melodies and bouncing brass rhythms. Having the time of his life, George performed much of the new album, with single ‘Paradise’ going down an absolute treat. Telling the stories behind the songs, about his trips across Europe and beyond, the show had a very personal, yet merry vibe to it, which was rounded off perfectly with a carnival-esque outro for ‘Don’t Blame It On Me’ and a huge sing-a-long for fan favourite, ‘Budapest’.

April also saw the huge return of much-loved British export, The Streets. Selling out in a matter of minutes, their string of shows across the country were some of the most anticipated live performances in venue history. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the O2 Academy Glasgow show was going to be a wild one, and the band didn’t disappoint. Frontman Mike Skinner got thoroughly involved with the crowd, surfing all the way to the bar and back again for a drink, and he even complimented the fans on looking after him. Performing hits from across their highly-celebrated catalogue of iconic albums, the crowd reactions were unmeasurable and we’re pretty sure that these performances will go down in history.

After a three-year hiatus, The Vaccines are back with new album Combat Sports, and alongside their headline UK tour, they’ve proved that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. As a giant glitter disco ball and sparkly back drop lit up the sold out O2 Academy Bristol room, the indie kings delivered the newer material with an effortlessly cool attitude. Naturally, tracks such as ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ and ‘If You Wanna’ were huge crowd-pleasers, but overall it was clear everyone was just happy to have the band back doing what they do best.

If you’re not yet aware of Greta Van Fleet, you better change that sharpish. Selling out two headline shows at O2 Academy Islington well in advance, it’s safe to say everyone was pretty excited to see the quartet, deemed the hottest new rock’n’roll band around. Delivering the songs from last year’s debut with panache, they had the crowd whipped into a frenzy from the beginning and it was clear that they won’t be playing venues of this size for very long. Oh and Elton John popped by to watch them, did we mention that?

The new queen of pop is here and her name is Dua Lipa. Despite playing huge venues on her recent tour, her personality, sass and humour made it feel like she wanted to be everyone’s best friend. Performing everything from the stunning ballads to the pop bangers from her debut album, the entire set was flawless. The best bit though? Before she returned to the stage for her encore, a screen was lit with a warning message: “WARNING. You are about to experience some explicit language and behaviour. This is a song for all the f*ckboys who have done your wrong. If you would like to participate in the next activity, please put your middle fingers up.” And with that, ‘New Rules’ and ‘IDGAF’ saw O2 Apollo Manchester erupt into life, and every boy, girl, mum, dad, best friends, new friends and everyone in between came together to celebrate the support of each other.

Since their inception, Black Foxxes have quickly become a well-loved and must see band, so it came as no surprise that O2 Academy Islington was packed last month when the alt-rock trio took to the stage. Their setlist leaned toward newer material, taken from their second album Reidi, but the audience didn’t seem to mind, launching into ‘Manic In Me’ along with the band. Favourites from their debut, including ‘I’m Not Well’, ‘Husk’, ‘River’ and ‘Pines’ were mixed in with recently released ‘Seala’, ‘JOY’ and ‘The Big Wild’. Frontman Mark Holley’s vocals were the perfect balance of technical ability and powerful emotion, complimented only by soaring guitar melodies and a solid rhythm section, it was a solid performance that left fans elated.

Playing a special headline show in celebration of the 10th anniversary and re-release of their debut album, St. Jude, The Courteeners certainly brought the energy to O2 Academy Sheffiled. For a Thursday night, the crowd were the rowdiest and most up-for-it the venue has ever seen, particularly after the impressive opening slot from local band, The Blinders. Playing all of St. Jude live, plus a Liam Fray solo section and even more favourites from the band, this was any Courteeners fan’s dream and we feel very lucky to have been a part of such a memorable show.

It’s been seven years since Friendly Fires last released an album and when their comeback show at O2 Academy Brixton was announced, fans were as much stunned as they were excited. Bursting into life with an epic, colourful light show and front man, Ed Macfarlane’s ever-impressive dance moves, it felt like they’d never even been away. Squeezing a festival-sized performance into the venue, not a single body was stood still, with the dancing intensifying when they performed anthems such as, ‘Jump In The Pool’ and ‘Hawaiian Air’. It was the finale of ‘Kiss Of Life’ though, which saw grins spread from ear to ear. An extended drum outro, accompanied by the brass and steel pan sections, lead us to the end in a frenzied groove-a-thon and everyone left feeling like they’d just done the most enjoyable aerobics class of their life.

Despite being rescheduled, the anticipation at O2 Ritz Manchester, for the long-haired, all-white wearing icon, Andrew WK, was through the roof. Taking his hit ‘We Want Fun’ very literally, he provided a hugely entertaining show from start to finish, and proved that 17 years on, he still very much knows how to throw a party. New album, You’re Not Alone went down just as well as the old classics, but when it came down to the moment everyone had been waiting for, he got the crowd to countdown from 100 before launching into the mosh-pit inducing, alt-anthem ‘Party Hard’. Well, he wasn’t going to give it away too early, was he?

2018 is the year that Americana music is making its way into the mainstream, and leading the way is the well-travelled soul, Nathaniel Rateliff and his band The Night Sweats. Though appealing to an audience in and above their 40s, Nathaniel still puts on one hell of a show and manages to get the crowd knee-slapping, fist-pumping and shimmying along with him and his troupe of musicians. Recent single ‘You Worry Me’ is an instant live classic, but it was ‘S.O.B’ which saw the crowd carry the “woah-oh” well beyond Nathaniel leaving the stage. Mumford And Sons member and Communion Records co-founder, Ben Lovett, was even spotted having a very nice time in the audience.

15 years on from the bizarre, disgusting but hilarious antics of the Dirty Sanchez lads and Denton and Pritchard are back telling all their secrets. In its prime, the TV show was one of the most-watched of a generation and taking to the O2 Academy Bristol audiences, they revealed all the behind-the- stories of scenes that didn’t make it to air. Of course they still had a bit of fun, and it was planned that Pritchard was going to put his genitals in a magicians guillotine and pretend to have it chopped off with an electric drill, thankfully though, they didn’t go through with it. Nobody needs to see that on a Wednesday night.

Having recently dropped the funkalicious new single, ‘The Man That I Am’, Essex’s very own Youth Club came to London for a headline performance that brought some sunshine to a rainy day. Known for their high-spirited, indie-pop beats there were certainly some interesting shapes being thrown from the young crowd. Despite only having a handful of songs to their name, Youth Club’s performance was bags of fun and everyone left with a smile on their face.

Not only was April a huge month for live shows, but it was massive for music in general. On Saturday the 21st, record stores all over the country saw crowds queing from the early hours to get their hands on limited edition, exclusive releases, as part of Record Store Day. Whether or not you were a part of it, you'll be pleased to know that loads of the acts involved are touring soon, so we made a playlist of them all, because we're nice like that.

The Pineapple Thief - '8 Years Later'
Ocean Colour Scene- 'Hundred Mile High City'
Courtney Barnett - 'City Looks Pretty'
Toyah- 'Echo Beach'
FIDLAR - 'Cheap Beer'
Gaz Coombes - 'The Oaks'
The Alarm - 'Beautiful'
Baxter Dury - 'Miami'
Belly - 'Super-Connected'
Steve Earle & The Dukes- 'So You Wanna Be An Outlaw'
Sparks - 'You've Earned The Right To Be A D*ck'
Brothers Osborne - 'Weed, Whiskey and Willie'
Killing Joke - 'Euphoria'
Lewis Capaldi - 'Rush'
The Streets - 'Fit But You Know It'
ABBA - 'Summer Night City'
Public Image Limited - 'Public Image'
Nick Heyward - 'The Stars'
Daniel Wakeford - 'The Black Of Lonely'

With so many huge bands in and out of our doors, it’s easy to forget those bands that are out there, tirelessly working their way up to the top who deserve your attention. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on shame.

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