Live Review: The Answer and The Dead Daisies in Sheffield, 14/11/16

Date: 14th November 2016
Venue: Corporation

Rock fans came out in their hoards to a packed Corporation in Sheffield to see the unusual combination of one of Ireland’s prominent blues rock bands and American/ Australian rock super-group, The Dead Daisies.

The double-header concert started with Cormac The Answer taking to the stage opening with the title track from their latest album Solas. Lead singer, Cormac Neeson’s voice soared high above the gritty blues undercurrent creating a haunting atmosphere throughout the venue.

Continuing with the powerful rock ballad, Beautiful World, there was no mistaking it, the boys were back.

Whilst most of this tour focused on their latest release, the band threw in New Horizon from 2013’s album of the same name and Waste Your Tears from the Revival record. The audience appreciated the nostalgia.

After a spell of pure driven rock in their set, the band swapped their overdriven, electric guitars for bouzoukis and mandolins for an impromptu, chilled out, acoustic set.

In This Land and Thief of Light really showed a different side to the band, their variety as musicians and strength as writers with beautiful close harmony and stripped down arrangements. A real hit with fans who sang along at the tops of their voices.

It wasn’t long before the volume and pace picked up with inviting special guest vocalist Lynne Jackaman to the stage for a duet, as per the original recording on Nowhere Freeway.

The boys finished up with a rousing rendition of Battle Cry, leaving the audience shouting out for more as singer Neeson remembered his last gig in Sheffield.

He recalled that he had been in a bad place personally on the last tour with family illness taking it’s toll, but said he felt he had made so many new friends on this visit.

It was certainly a hard act to follow, though rockers The Dead Daisies were the men for the job. Entering to a screams and cries from the audience as one by one, Doug Aldrich, Brian Tichy, David Lowy, Marco Mendoza and John Corabi arrived and kicked off their set with Long Way To Go.

Made up of previous band members of Mötley Crüe, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Dio and Foreigner to name a few, their musical CV reads like something out of rock n roll history. There have been many band member changes including the introduction of Corabi in 2015 and most recently lead guitarist, Aldrich.

This tour is promoting their latest release Make Some Noise and the title track of that album sure enough features right at the beginning of their set. In true classic rock style, it packed a punch but it was not treading new ground for the band.

Covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son, The Who’s Join Together, The Beatles’ Helter Skelter and Midnight Moses from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band. All great covers, which saw the crowd joining in from the first note to the last chord.

As entertainers, you can’t fault these guys. They’ve earned their stripes with some of the most prolific rock groups in the business. Their musicianship is reflected in the plethora of flamboyant, intricate solos, yet somehow musically I felt a longing for a variety in pace, to see something more musically exposed.

An unusual mixture, but nonetheless the crowd left exhausted having sung along and danced all night. It had been energetic and impressive evening from some of rock’s finest musicians.

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.

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Live Review: Good Lovelies in Sheffield, 25/06/15

Date: 25th June 2015
Venue: The Backroom, Greystones

Canadian songbirds, the Good Lovelies stopped by Sheffield’s intimate, The Backroom venue on the second night of their UK leg of their European Tour, playing to a full house much to their surprise.

As Canadian Folk Music award and Juno award winners, the delightful trio appears to be surprised and overwhelmed they can bring their own brand of roots music to another country and receive such a warm welcome. Sitting in the audience it’s not hard to see why they’ve made friends around the world.

The night is opened up by Rutland’s musical answer to Jack Dee. Paul McClure warms up the audience with his dry, witty humor. Not adverse to self-deprecating humor, McClure wins over the audience joking about his slow-tempo material; categorizing himself as a miserable country/ folk singer.

He delivers an entertaining set of his own material, telling stories through his songs, dedicating one in particular to his wife and another with an anecdote of how he became known as the ‘Rutland Troubadour’. What better way to start the night?

They’ve come a long way from home, having played previously around Western Europe before reaching the UK. Caroline Brooks, Kerri Ough and Sue Passmore take to the stage fresh faced and overwhelmed by their enthusiastic audience, also accompanied by their touring double bassist.

Burn The Plan is the new album and after a couple of years in the making the record is ready to unveil, with lots of new tracks airing tonight with several favorites thrown in for good measure.

Instantly reminiscent of the Dixie Chicks, their close three-part harmony is blows you away with precision and such beautiful timbre. Whilst they hold their own as modern folk/ country musicians, there are hints of old tradition in there too, with some lines and harmonies with a hint of the Andrews Sisters.

Fans may have had to wait for their latest release, but it was well worth it. Performances of Into The Dark, a song about jumping into the challenge of parenthood, gained lots of audience participation joining in with the catchy hook.

The upbeat, electronic feel of In The Morning was a definite parting of ways from their more traditional material, but executed in a subtle manner it successfully blended their core sound with something new. Kerri also brought out the Autoharp, a very traditional instrument used to give beautiful flourishes throughout the song.

As the band seamlessly switched instruments it was evident that their unique sound was homegrown, demonstrated on the track Waiting For You. Sue swapped her mandolin for a series of percussive instruments to give this track a crucial extra boost, replicating the sound on their latest recording.

When The City Settles, was a soothing interlude featuring rich lead vocals from Sue, with Kerri and Caroline providing the soulful and sweet close harmony.

Whilst the audience, were enjoying the new material, we were treated to an unaccompanied song, where instruments were left on the stage whilst the trio stepped down to the front row and delivered a Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris number.

Rounding up the night the band left the stage following a two-song encore, performing another unaccompanied, foot-stomping version of Johnny Cash’s God’s Gonna Cut You Down and Mrs T, a song written for an ex Mother-in-Law, who was loved more than her son!

The Good Lovelies could have carried on all night, the audience still wanted more. What a comeback and what a great new sound. We’ll eagerly await their next UK visit!

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.

Live Review: Hudson Taylor in Sheffield, 05/02/15

Date: 5th February 2015
Venue: The Plug, Sheffield

Sheffield’s Plug was treated to an intimate night of pop/ rock with Ireland’s upcoming sibling duos, Hudson Taylor and friends.

Feeling somewhat older than the masses of youngsters there, mainly students and school kids, I was slightly unsure as to how I would fit in and relate to the music on offer tonight. My student years have passed nearly a decade ago though the only others in the crowd, vaguely my age appeared to be parents escorting their offspring to the gig.

First on stage to get the crowd warmed up was Irish, solo singer and guitarist, Jack Morris. It’s a hard job being the first support act, opening up as the crowds are still arriving and talking though Morris seemed un-phased by this confidently playing a mixture of originals and a very brave cover of Lou Reid’s classic, Walk On The Wild Side. Commenting on his friendship with the headline act, he was in good spirits though the crowd somewhat unresponsive unfairly gave him a rough deal. I can only assume the talents of Jack Morris would have been appreciated better in a totally different setting.

As the second act, Southern took to the stage, a Belfast born, brother/ sister fronted group I was starting to see a family theme emerge for tonight’s music. Playing their own wave of pop/ rock and blues, the crowd instantly lit up with their catchy riffs and driving rhythm. Taking tracks from their recent releases Where I Want To Be and Where The Wild Ones Are, Thom and Lucy Southern are definitely ones to watch.

The crowd broke out into cheers and applause as brothers, Hudson Taylor entered the stage. There was no mistaking them for anything other than the main attraction.

Their stylish, retro image and guitars, harking back to Elvis Presley’s quiff and Buddy Holly’s black-rimmed glasses, perfectly set the tone for what was to follow.

There’s something very special in the vocals of two people who know each other so well whether they be siblings, parents/ children or couples. Hudson Taylor’s voices blended and complimented each other so well it was a joy to listen to every single harmony they sang and reminiscent of acts such as the Everly Brothers. Playing songs with a pop/ rock and folk vibe the young audience lapped it up, the brothers had us in the palm of their hands.

Featuring material from their forthcoming debut album Singing For Strangers; the singles Weapons, Battles and Chasing Rubies the boys chose a varied set of material, which showed their capabilities as quality songwriters and performers.

Close vocal harmony, a great backing band, varied material and two great frontmen; what more could you ask for?

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.

Live Review: The Levellers/ The Selecter & She Makes War in Sheffield

Venue: o2 Academy
Date: 20th November 2014

An impressive line up of musical artists were set to grace the stage of Sheffield’s O2 Academy tonight, with folk-rock stalwarts The Levellers, teamed with two-tone’s unmistakable Pauline Black and The Selecter, supported by new upcoming artist Laura Kidd aka She Makes War.

A mixture of genres and musical scenes, though wonderfully brought together by their fiery sense of independence and social views.

In a room full of rock fans and rude boys/ girls Laura Kidd took to the stage, a confident solo artist who could clearly hold her own. Hailing from Bristol, Laura at this point has been on the road with the bands for several weeks playing shows on the UK leg of their tour and some further afield in Europe.

Armed with her Les Paul, mandolin and loop pedal she layered her music with intertwined vocals, singing in harmony with herself over a set of simple yet strong chord sequences. Reminiscent of artists like Imogen Heap and haunting vocalist Alison Goldfrapp, Laura quietened the room of eager fans all fired up for the concert ahead. Greater things surely await this gifted young woman.

As expected, Pauline Black and Gaps Hendrickson gave an invigorated, highly charged performance playing many of their hits from the Too Much Pressure era, including Three Minute Hero, James Bond, They Make Me Mad and their biggest hit On My Radio.

Iconic front woman, Black lead the way with her varied and dynamic vocal range, with the powerful Hendrickson supporting, alongside a fabulously tight rhythm, woodwind and percussion section.

The band has been relentlessly touring for the past few years and it shows in their energetic but polished performance. This was once again a welcome return to South Yorkshire for the band.

Folk-rock, group The Levellers barely need any introduction after celebrating over 25 years in the music business, yet after all this time they’re just as strong as ever.

The crowd were cheering in anticipation for the band’s arrival. Lead singer, Mark Chadwick entered the stage kicking off with What A Beautiful Day and showering the whole venue in a flurry of confetti from the canons placed by the side of the stage. This certainly wasn’t going to be a quiet one!

Playing songs from the early and latter stages of their career tonight was going to be a whistle-stop tour of all their best

bits with a few special additions. Pauline Black joined the band to sing on Together All The Way with The Selecter’s woodwind section on Dog Train, a brilliant choice of songs to collaborate on.

For one of their more mainstream song choices, She Makes War came back to sing backing vocals on the catchy, This Garden.

From World Freakshow to Julie, Exodus to Hope Street the audience, young and old, sang along to every song. Rounding off the night with a double encore in traditional Levellers fashion with a rousing rendition of The Devil Went Down To Georgia followed by The Riverflow.

After over a quarter of a century, you wonder what makes Levellers fans come back time and time again? For me, their unashamed social comment and quality song writing teamed with a desire to keep doing what they love, making music and having a bloody good time on the way is what makes these guys special. It’s a philosophy I can’t fault.

– Charlie Barker

Live Review: Eliza & the Bear in Sheffield

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by Matt Churchard

The Leadmill is a Sheffield institution. It’s stage has been graced by just about every band I’ve ever cared about since the age of 15 and it’s a place that’s loved by almost all of Sheffield.

So to be a young band and having the chance to play here must be a kick, even if you’re playing the second stage. The sheer accumulated man-hours that have been invested by the youth of our proud city at its bars, on its dance floor and at its gigs. Must be more than the total productivity output of many a small African country? This place is special…

Tonight’s gig is kicked off by Lisbon. These lads from the North East are a band with youthful vigour and style that kept people interested for whole of their set. The mix of indie sensibilities, groove and a hint of electro is fun, uplifting and attention grabbing. The songs are well crafted and show a promise of something bigger to come, the stand out track being Native from the band’s EP Life Is Good. Give them a bit of time and Lisbon could be the band that put Whitley Bay on the map.

Eliza and the Bear are new to me. They’ve got a buzz about them and I can see why. They bravely plough straight into tonight’s set with Friends, the song that’s probably their most recognisable and then pretty much stamp their authority on the rest of the night.

Indie that you can dance to is a thing to behold and these Londoners are well versed in the tricks of that trade. Loud and clear drums, bright keys, cutting guitars and a bit of brass all added up to selection of songs that showed the band at its tight, rhythmic best. However, the acoustic section towards the end felt like an anti-climax. These songs were well performed but tonight wasn’t the night for them so when the band came back on to do a few more the whole room lifted again.

Eliza and the Bear will be successful, there’s no doubt in that. They have the songs, they have the skill, and they can steal your girlfriend before you’re back from the bar. Now is a good time to be a band. I’m certain that the scratchy, miserable indie of old will be dethroned by this new, fun, dancey indie that’s so easy to listen to that anyone can get it. Keep an eye on both of these bands, there’s good times a coming.

– Matt Churchard

Live Review: Katy Perry Prismatic Tour in Sheffield, 23/05/14

Venue: Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
Date: 23/05/14

Following the release of her fourth studio album, America’s California Girl-Next Door sets out on the UK leg of her Prismatic World Tour, stopping by South Yorkshire’s Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield.

Surrounded by mini-Katy Perry’s, with blue Smurf hair, green highlights and her characteristic adopted ‘cat ears’, the crowd of all ages had flocked to see the pop superstar. This was certainly a safe family audience in attendance.

The concert support came from Swedish house/ dance duo Icona Pop, who bounced around the stage with their brand of “we’re a girl band with attitude”. Whilst I had assumed this act was probably one for the kids, the slightly adult themes and occasional language wasn’t entirely appropriate and expected. Nevertheless they churned out their hits I Love It along with new single Girlfriend and made way for the star of the night.

The cleverly crafted, triangular Prism stage was starting to take shape as the lights went out and the strobes pulsated around the arena. With acrobatic and gymnastic displays the music started and Katy Perry arrived in fine voice, emerging from a large pyramid centre stage.

Opening with Roar, the singer energetically joined her troupe of dancers dressed in neon, glowing, tribal costumes. This wasn’t going to be a just a music concert, it was clear that every inch of this spectacle had been precisely choreographed with care.

As the different parts of the stage contorted and twisted, it lifted Perry onto a higher platform as she belted out the ballads Part Of Me and Wide Awake. Though just as soon as the prism on stage had taken shape it was time to change set into the Egyptian-themed part of the show.

Featuring the worldwide hits E.T. and I Kissed A Girl, the stage filled up with caricatured female Mummies, wrapped in bandages with more than ample assets, dancing around the singer. At this point the show took on a spooky cinematic experience as spooky video animations and stories were played out on the huge video screens behind.

It wasn’t long before the show morphed into a foray of Perry’s characteristic feline friends singing a big band, swing version of Hot N Cold.

After all the bright lights and dance routines, Katy Perry, her backing singers and a select few musicians from her band joined her right at the front of the stage for a chilled out acoustic set, which was a particular highlight of the evening.

She joked with the audience “Boyfriends come and go, but you’re always there”, before posing for a selfie with one lucky member of the crowd and exclaiming she nearly lost her wig in the process!

Joking aside, she took this opportunity to serenade the arena with simple arrangements of By The Grace of God, The One That Got Away and most notably Unconditionally and actually picked up a multi-coloured, glittery guitar herself.

Paying homage to her host city tonight, the singer bravely sampled a pint of local Bradfield Brewery bitter along with taking the time out to thank everyone for coming to the gig (particularly the boyfriends who’d been dragged there to please their partners).

More hits were to follow with her latest single Birthday, the anthem Teenage Dream and the fun California Gurls, Perry had not only exceeded but totally surpassed all expectation with an evening of immense variety, great pop songs and an amazing array of dance and stage craft. It was certainly a sight to behold with a great soundtrack, which left her excited and loyal fans shouting for more as she closed the show with the unmistakable Firework.

– Charlie Barker

View full set of live gig images: click here.