It’s time to hang up your Halloween costumes for another year and start thinking about presents rather than pumpkins. October is over and the countdown to Christmas is on, but before we start getting festive, let’s take one more look at the month gone by, because BOY was it a good one.
Various Venues | 17 -18 October
Selling tickets for five pounds is pretty much unheard of these days, so when slowthai revealed that’s exactly how much it’d cost to get into the biggest headline shows of his career thus far, the nation jumped at the chance and sold out every date in a matter of seconds. Then again, with his politically-charged, punk-tinged anthems and Cheshire-cat grin, slowthai has very quickly become the voice of a disgruntled country and these shows were going to be his middle finger to those in charge.
Arriving on a bus with his face plastered across it, (see here), it was evident before he’d even stepped foot on stage that there was going to be nothing quiet about his performance. Kicking things off with ‘Nothing Great About Britain’, the energy was powerful, with the audience packed full of the people slowthai has written these songs for. There was a sense of anger as his words were spat back at him, but it was matched with respect, as the young rapper from Northampton stood tall and proud of what he’d accomplished. Firing his way through tracks from his Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut album, the O2 Academy Brixton crowd were treated to guest performances from Jaykae on ‘Grow Up’ and Skepta on ‘Inglorious’, whilst a cover of Brockhampton’s ‘HEAVEN BELONGS TO YOU’ saw the crowd erupt into a sea of frenzied pits.
For a man who a year ago had barely started his career, slowthai has grafted to become one of the most important artists around right now and will undoubtedly continue to change the landscape of the music industry for years to come.
FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND
O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire | Tuesday 29 October
Three and a half years ago, Welsh post-hardcore band, Funeral For A Friend, called it a day with two final farewell shows at O2 Forum Kentish Town. From that night, we never thought we’d see them on stage together again, that was… until now.
A dedicated fan of the band, Stuart Brothers, sadly fell terminally ill this year and to honour him, Funeral For A Friend decided to host a special evening at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire to raise money for Stuart’s family. This wasn’t just any old reunion though, as the night brought back old alumni, some of whom haven’t played alongside their former bandmates for 10 years.
Focusing largely on their earlier material, as soon as the opening riff of ‘Rookie Of The Year’ kicked in, it was carnage. Bodies went flying over the top of heads, fists were punching the air and the chorus of vocals chanting back the words was deafening. Old favourites such as ‘Bullet Theory’ and ‘Red Is The New Black’ followed, before the stage became just a little busier as former members, Matthew Evans, Andi Morris and Johnny Phillips all rocked up to perform ‘Juneau’, sending the room into hysteria.. ‘Your Revolution Is A Joke’ introduced a moment of bittersweet bliss, whilst ‘Streetcar’ and ‘Roses For The Dead’ received the loudest reactions of the night, ones of sheer joy, but tinged with moments of sadness when the realisation hit that this really was the last time we’d hear these songs live. After some emotional speeches from frontman, Matthew Davies-Kreye, they bid their last goodbye with ‘History’ and suddenly there were tears. As the fans embraced each other, they sung loud and lifted their hands high for the chorus of, “Raise your fingers for one last salute.” A truly beautiful moment for a very special evening, the song’s final words echoed around the venue long after Funeral For A Friend left the stage, as fans left with their hearts heavy, but full.
O2 City Hall Newcastle | 25 - 26 October
Essex lad, Rob Beckett, has become a staple on our television screens in recent years, with his cheeky chappy comedy making us laugh right down to our bones. This month, though, he moved from screen to stage and took his new stand-up show, Wallop, out on the road, stopping off at O2 City Hall Newcastle for a double header. Despite being far away from the place he calls home, his sharp southern banter had no struggle in getting people chuckling and from the first punchline there were roars of belly laughs throughout the venue. Filling his set with highly-relatable content, from family mishaps to body worries, there wasn’t a single person there that didn’t want to be his best friend by the end of the show, and his on-stage charisma makes him even more lovable. An outstanding set from one of the country’s finest comedians, we’ve got him to thank for the abs we’ve gained from laughing so hard.
O2 Academy Oxford | Wednesday 23 October
Not content with releasing just the one album this year, Foals followed Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1, with its sister release on October 18. A few days after the landing of Part 2, the British indie darlings took over their hometown and performed an intimate album launch show at O2 Academy Oxford.
Having sold out instantly, to no surprise at all, the venue was packed to the rafters with the audience in complete pandemonium. From the offset it was a sweaty, chaotic affair, with mosh pits opening up at every opportunity and the band powering through their setlist with not a note out of place. Performing many of the newer tracks from the double-album release, the crowd had already accepted them as if they were old favourites, chanting back the lyrics word-for word, whilst vocalist/guitarist, Yannis Philippakis, ran around the venue and across the bar like the perfect showman he is. Rounding things up with ‘Inhaler’, ‘My Number’ and the crowd-picked ‘Two Steps, Twice’, the atmosphere was explosive and the cheers were loud as the audience championed their local legends.
Various Venues | 28 - 31 October
Charli XCX’s headline shows could well have been re-branded as the biggest fancy dress party you’ve ever been to, because if you weren’t at least wearing glitter, you’d look out of place. Hitting both O2 Institute Birmingham and O2 Academy Brixton during Halloween week, (the latter on the day itself), meant that the crowds swarmed in dressed in their finest costumes, from fairy-tale creatures to hot dogs and just about everything in between, it was BRILLIANT.
The angel of pop herself didn’t hold back either, adorning a flowing, fluffy and fabulous gown that only accentuated her queen status. The stage sparkled with lights as ‘Next Level Charli’ boomed from a glowing cube and Charli’s silhouette emerged, sending screams rippling through the venue. From then on, it was a non-stop party, with local drag queens brought in as dancers in Birmingham to add a little extra pizzazz. Focusing largely on tracks from her new album, she showcased the vibrancy and energy flawlessly and the London crowd got an extra special treat when Christine and the Queens joined Charli on stage for a fiery performance of ‘Gone’. Rounding things off with straight-up bangers, ‘I Love It’, ‘Boys’ and ‘1999’, it was everything we’d hoped for from Charli and it’ll be a Halloween to remember for a long time.
O2 Academy Newcastle | Thursday 31 October
Whether it’s live on stage or on our screens as part of Celebrity Gogglebox, Loyle Carner’s cheeky personality instantly makes you smile. After a summer of standout festival appearances, he took to the road in October to perform material from his stellar sophomore record, Not Swimming, But Drowning, as well as some choice favourites, of course and every ounce of his performance was an enjoyable experience.
It’s easy to see why Carner has become the rising star of UK hip hop, with lyrics rolling off his tongue slick and smooth as his adoring fans, quite impressively, keep up with him throughout each and every song. A man of the people, he makes the show as much about the crowd as it is about him and judging by the grin that won’t leave his face, he’s pretty happy with how it’s all going. Moments of raw emotion seep through in ‘Dear Jean’ and ‘Still’, whilst the finale of ‘NO CD’ wraps things up in one last bouncing ball of energy, bringing to a close one of the finest performances we’ve seen this year.
O2 Academy Brixton | Wednesday 16 October
Bringing the slow and smooth R&B jams to O2 Academy Brixton in October was GRAMMY Award-winning Canadian singer, Daniel Caesar. Coming a few short months after the release of his new album, CASE STUDY 01, which sees him collaborate with Pharrell Williams and John Mayer amongst others, the anticipation for this show was high.
Keeping it simple, there was no extravagant stage show and production here, just Daniel’s vocals powering through a love-fuelled setlist of new tracks and cuts from 2017’s breakthrough record, Freudian. Welcoming Koffee to the stage for ‘CYANIDE’ and with an exceptional cover of John Lennon’s, ‘Jealous Guy’, his performance was full of beautiful surprises that made the night that little bit extra special.
O2 Academy Bristol | Monday 21 October
Arriving earlier this year with their seventh studio album, A Bath Full Of Ecstasy, Hot Chip have proven that after nearly 20 years together, they’re still as creative and wonderful as ever, diving into a world of synths and guitars to produce another commendable collection of songs. Spending much of October on the road showcasing the new material, they made their way to O2 Academy Bristol for an electrifying live show, placing them firmly at the top of our favourites from the month.
Although much of the set was filled with songs off the new record, the band didn’t hesitate when it came to offering up some golden oldies, with floor fillers such as ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Ready For The Floor’ creating a wave of grooving bodies from front to back. As the basslines thumped and the spectacle of lights shone above, the band made the most of their last moments on stage by charging into a cover of Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’, leaving the crowd in front of them coated in layer of unsuspecting joy, which lasted well beyond the curtain call.
NINJA SEX PARTY
O2 Academy Oxford | Thursday 17 October
Offering something a little different to the norm over in Oxford were American music-comedy duo, Ninja Sex Party. Marking their 10th anniversary as a band, they came dressed in their finest lycra with the promise of rocking our faces off, and that, dear reader, is exactly what they did.
Performing a wealth of tracks from across their mystical back catalogue, as well as some exceptionally well-delivered covers, including one of Dead Or Alive’s ‘You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)’, every second of it was brilliantly bonkers. Masters of their art, they sounded crisp and polished, whilst bounding around the stage with the energy of a dozen fizzy drinks and encouraging laughter at every opportunity – it was, genuinely, one of the funniest and loudest shows we’ve ever witnessed.
O2 Academy Leeds | Saturday 19 October
Fellow lycra-lovers, Elvana, hit the road again throughout October, stopping off at O2 Academy Leeds for a night of outrageous antics. If you’ve not seen or heard of Elvana before, then all you need to know is that they’re an Elvis-fronted Nirvana tribute band whose live shows are unlike anything you’ll ever experience. Fusing a 90s grunge spirit with a healthy dose of rock and roll swagger, they waste no time in working through Nirvana’s classics, such as ‘Breed’, ‘Lithium’ and, of course, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’.
Naturally, the sing-a-longs were huge and the Leeds crowd were on top form, belting back the words to their favourite songs, whilst Elvis commanded the room like the true king he is. If anything, an Elvana show is a chance to let your hair down and laugh, sing and dance your way through their eclectic set, because there is never, ever a dull moment when these guys are on stage.
O2 Institute Birmingham | Wednesday 17 October
Spoken word artist, Kate Tempest gave a somewhat spiritual performance when she took to the intimate O2 Institute Birmingham stage, creating a spellbinding atmosphere that left her audience completely mesmerised by her words.
Performing her latest album, The Book Of Traps And Lessons, in full, she soothed our souls and inspired our minds with tracks like, ‘Hold Your Own’ and ‘Firesmoke’ and left everyone gripping onto their emotions with the brutally raw closer, ‘People’s Faces’. Every sentence was spoken with urgency and passion, drawing her audience ever closer as the delicate piano melodies swirled in the background. A truly special performance from a unique and hugely important artist that we feel lucky to have had come through our doors.
Perhaps some of the biggest music news from October is that after nearly an eight-year wait, My Chemical Romance have reformed and are playing a show in LA in December. So, whilst you’re digging out your old skinny jeans and reuniting with your favourite eyeliner, stick on our MCR-inspired playlist of acts that will soon be hitting our venues.
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