Single Review: SIA – Chandelier

Released: 17th March 2014
Label: RCA Records

Sia ChandalierAustralian-born singer-songwriter SIA is back on the front line of mainstream music with her first solo single in four years. SIA’s last solo material, We Are Born, never made it to the UK top 40. Since hibernating from her solo career in 2010, the popster has subsequently embraced chart-topping victories with global stars. Having written and featured on massive hits Diamonds with Rihanna and Flo Rida’s Wild Ones, SIA hasn’t exactly hidden from success.

With mixed reviews from fans, this new release has solicited grumbles about a distinct change in musical direction. What should be noted is the longevity of a mainstream artist’s career and those who reinvent themselves tend to stay in the spotlight. With five albums already under her belt, Chandelier, the first single from her latest album, sets the tone for an upbeat crowd-pleasing track list.

Chandelier certainly is reminiscent of the catchy hooks and yearning vocals of Titanium and was co-written with her producer, Jesse Shatkin. The lyrics are limited in scope, unimaginative at times and the song crescendos with the customary epic high in the chorus to attract vanilla club-goers. Claiming to have written the song for herself ‘by accident’, SIA has told fans she was considering giving the song to Beyonce or Katy Perry. The song uses its big beats to offset her uniquely intense voice and captures the essence of the raw jamming session in which it was written.

The catchy melody may owe a debt to the repetitive lyrics but after high anticipation from critics and supporters alike, Chandelier is still set to be a hit.

– Biba Braxton


Live Review: The Feeling in Sheffield, 12/03/14

Venue: The Leadmill
Date: 12/03/14

The crowds were eagerly lining up outside one of Sheffield’s Premier music venues, The Leadmill for a night of live music with Brit Award nominated band The Feeling with support from Sheffield band, The Gentleman and Cheshire based singer/ songwriter, Douglas Francis.

Opening up the night, one guy with a guitar stood alone on the stage, filled with an array of musical instruments for the headlining act. He quietly introduced himself as Douglas Francis and played a short set consisting of original material and carefully selected covers. With shades of Ed Sheeran and he charmed the crowd who listened intently to his accomplished playing and softly spoken introductions.

As more crowds assembled, it was clear to see a whole host of Gentlemen fans lining up at the front to get the best view. Not surprising as The Gentlemen have been working hard promoting their music not just in their hometown but further afield since they started playing in 2005.

The lights dim and three of the four gentlemen take to the stage, introducing charismatic lead singer, Nicholas Noble who enters the stage to a roar of applause. They might have been travelling the length of the UK for this latest tour with The Feeling, but The Gentlemen truly were right at home.

It has been years since I caught this band live and most striking of all is that their sound has developed from a catchy pop/ rock band with a spiritual vibe to a disco undercurrent, sprinkled with synths, melodic rock riffs and epic stadium-style percussion, with echoes of the 1980s.  A brilliant transformation, which illustrates that they can easily get a crowd moving, but also guide the audience through their more subtle, understated material.

Their set was a varied choice of their strongest songs, showcasing the mind-bending dexterity of percussionist Joel Cana, the slick multi-tasking of synth and bass player Josh Cana, the catchy, melodic riffs and rhythmic drive of guitarist Sean Walsh and the versatile vocals and charming presence of frontman Noble.

The venue had filled up and looking around at the crowd is was striking that this gig had attracted a whole plethora of different people, from teenagers to pensioners. There were alternative, rockabilly girls with blue hair and retro dresses, smartly dressed men in suits, blazers and shirts, teenagers with tie-dye tops and backcombed hair to the more conservative older members of the audience. All of who were throwing themselves into the energetic atmosphere of the evening.

Smoke filled the stage and the music started as the members of The Feeling came on to cheers of excitement and anticipation. With a selection of material from their early career including Fill My Little World and Helicopter featuring early in the set, they proudly played material from their latest album Boy Cried Wolf.

Dan Gillespie Sells arrived on stage to find fans with banners on the front row and the audience singing along with every word. The anthemic pop ballad, Anchor saw the frontman put down his guitar and take to the piano and serenade the room as the song built to an angst-ridden crescendo. More hits ensued as the catchy Never Be Lonely, debut single Sewn and recent release Rescue featured as popular crowd-pleasers.

Just when everyone was willing them to play their most well-known single to date, they turned everyone’s expectations on their head and rounded up the evening with a rock/ pop medley of You Really Got Me Going/ Pinball Wizard/ Under Pressure/ Another Brick In The Wall and Park Life.

Those who thought The Feeling were limited to playing their feel-good brand of catchy pop could easily be proven wrong as they handled the classics with great care and breathed a new life into those iconic songs.

As the night drew to a close, it was time for the one and only hit they hadn’t yet played as the opening bars started, old and young danced and sang along to I Love It When You Call. A triumphant end to an evening of talented musicians, proving Sheffield has a fine and diverse music scene.

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.


Live Review: 282,240 Hour Party People, The Selecter in Sheffield 08/03/14

Venue: o2 Academy
Date: 08/03/14

You know this band. You know them without even realising it.

If you heard three of The Selecter’s hits you be able to sing along to most of them.

This band was among the best bands of the late 70s and early 80s, Two-Tone scene that mixed ska, reggae and punk ethics into a blast of good time grooves.

The Too Much Pressure Tour, named after the band’s debut album, is currently doing the rounds of nation’s venues to celebrate the 35th anniversary of this seminal band and yes, I worked out how many hours there are in 35 years…

By The Rivers are Leicester-based reggae band that knows how to warm a crowd up. They don’t hit you with the same old clichéd beats or progressions that a lot of bands rely.

Vocalist and guitarist Nile Barrow delivered his lyrics with a characterful voice and style that blew away any misconceptions that these lads are not serious about having a good time with their music.

The set was full of highs and lows that show off the talent that is written into the songs, that had even the most unskilled dancers (like my less than animated self) moving like school discos weren’t a past nightmare that keeps coming back to haunt them.

These guys were good and you’d be missing out if you didn’t see them the next time they’re playing a venue near you.

The Selecter is exceptional. They’re the ultimate party band. They’re a national treasure.

Playing a set that took you through the urgent stomp of Three Minute Hero through to the more mellow side of the band with Carry Go Bring Home as they played the Too Much Pressure album in its entirety.

The twin attack of Gaps Hendrickson and Pauline Black gives the band a live credibility and focus that has been honed to perfection. Only years of experience can provide that. The band delivered tight beat one after the other with the brass section, keys and lyrical guitar of Anthony Harty cutting through for melody.

The o2 Academy 2, gave the gig a feeling of togetherness and intimacy that would have been lost on the bigger main stage.

 This was a special night with a special band that was capped off with an encore of On My Radio.

– Matt Churchard

View full set of live gig images: click here.

Come Dine with ITV

The Channel 4 hit show is back for a new daytime series on ITV and is coming to South Yorkshire and Derbyshire in search of people from different walks of life to take part at dinner hosts across the region.

Over five days, four strangers take it in turns to host the perfect dinner party for each other. At the end of the week the best host wins a £1,000 cash prize! If you live in Sheffield, Rotherham, Chesterfield or Barnsley the team at ITV want to talk to you.

Participants must be 18 years of age and above and if you or anyone you know would like to take part and demonstrate your skills get in contact with your name, address, age and contact details to the email address and telephone number below. Filming takes place between 28th April – 2nd May 2014.

Tel: 0871 244 4142

In Conversation with The Stranglers’ Jet Black

They’ve been loved, hated, dismissed and revered. No strangers to controversy, The Stranglers can hold their heads high in the face of their harshest critics and prove their success and longevity as they celebrate 40 years together. Their Ruby Tour stops by South Yorkshire’s o2 Academy in Sheffield later this month on 15th March. Editor, Charlie Barker, talks to drummer Jet Black about the past, present and future of the group.

Jet Black

Charlie: You’re embarking on a 28-date tour with The Stranglers, what can the gig-goers expect from you guys this time?

Jet: Well, what we specialise in is excitement.

C: It’s 40 years you’re celebrating now and you’re still so enthusiastic about it, which is great.

J: It’s quite a fun thing to do. As we say in the trade, it’s better than cleaning windows!

C: In all the years that you’ve been gigging, can you think back to any time or any one show you’d love to do all over again?

J: It’s impossible to answer but since you’ve asked it; just to remember how bad it was in the early years.

C: What kind of struggles did you face as a band starting out?

J: When we started as a band, everyone really, really hated us and of course a lot still do but in the early days nobody liked us at all. We arrived at the end of Glam Rock and we didn’t look ‘Glam Rock’ and still don’t. People just didn’t understand the change and it took about 3 years before anybody at all showed a real excitement about what we were doing.

C: The band has evolved so much over 40 years; do you have a favourite era?

J: The end of the 70s was the most frantic period because when people started to get excited about what we did because we were so different to what other people were doing. That was memorable for that reason but all the different decades are memorable for different reasons and the audience has matured with us.

C: There are quite a lot of younger people following you. You’ve got quite a broad appeal.

J: We do indeed. A lot of people come independently and a lot of the young people are children of those who’ve been coming for decades. It really is all sorts, it is a cosmopolitan crowd that goes to a Stranglers gig!

C: Baz, the newest Strangler, joined you in 2000. I believe you’d already met in the mid-90s.

J: Yeah, he did a couple of tours with us playing in another band and we just thought he was a great player.

C: What was it about him that made you think he was the right guy for The Stranglers?

J: We did an audition and he was clearly the most exciting performer.

C: Coming into a band at that late stage he did, that must have been a tough knowing all the history you’d built up?

J: It was a daunting task, I don’t know if I could have carried it off as confidently as he did. It took a lot of our audience a while to get used to the new face but he’s such a self-confident person it wasn’t a problem for him.

C: Our reader’s question is from Russell in Derbyshire and he says, ‘Tell us about your life before The Stranglers and is it true you owned a fleet of ice cream vans?’

J: That is true, yes! Any reader you have who’d like to know about the band should log onto our website, there’s masses of information there especially about my pre-history it’s all there.

C: Were you an entrepreneurial guy?

J: I was a small-time businessman, I don’t claim to have been an entrepreneur but I did have my fingers in a number of pies! I did quite well but I reached a stage in my life where I just decided I wanted to do music.

C: As you’re coming up to 40 years in the business, you’ve got this tour. What’s in the future for the band?

J: As far as I can tell, more of the same. We plan to continue doing what we do as long as we’re capable of doing it and people want to come and see us.

C: Long may it continue!