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David Wilkinson

PREVIEW: LIVE AT LEEDS 2019

Festival season is finally upon us and Live At Leeds are once again at the forefront of promoting the freshest new bands around. This year it has a mouth-watering selection of 100+ bands performing across 21 different venues in the Yorkshire paradise that is Leeds. 

Stellar names such as Metronomy, Kate Tempest, Tom Greenan and Sundara Karma will be joined by acts that will be shaping the musical landscape for many years to come such as Bloxx, Sports Team, Gengahr and Goat Girl. This is Live at Leeds’ biggest line-up to date so make sure you keep May 4th free in your calendar and bag yourself a ticket before you miss out on discovering your new favourite band.

Heading up the lineup this year are some of Live At Leeds’ true success stories, led by returning guitar heroes Sundara Karma. Since forming in Reading, their blend of infectious hooks and direct lyrics have taken on the globe – with a debut album that took them to headline nights at London’s Brixton Academy and beyond. After returning last month with the mesmerising ‘Illusions’ and a hotly anticipated second album on the cards for next year, their set at Live At Leeds is bound to be an unmissable spectacle of what a band can be in 2019.

One of the most acclaimed and creative bands of the past decade, Metronomy will return in 2019 to open up a bold new chapter. Formed in the creative mind of frontman/band leader Joe Mount, their tear-stained lines of indie heartbreak have become a signature sound – with five studio albums morphing and growing into swaggering neon-pop with a catalogue of anthems to boot. An unmissable live act, Live At Leeds 2019 will be in for a treat when Metronomy come to town.

Tom Grennan is arguably the breakout artist of 2018, with an incredible year that has sent him to some of the biggest stages in the UK. After scooping a Top 5 Album with debut LP ‘Lighting Matches’, Tom has packed rooms across the country – with his gravel-smooth voice and unstoppable stage presence making him one of the most beloved songwriters that the UK has seen in quite some time. Bound to bring passion and charm to Live At Leeds 2019, he’s one only set to get bigger and bigger from here on out.

This is no doubt one of the most exciting weekends of the year if you’re keen to discover great new music. Over the years Live at Leeds has cultivated itself a reputation as being one of the most eclectic festivals on the circuit and has always been a keen promoter of new and exciting talent.

Tickets are still on sale but make sure you grab yourself one quick before you miss out on one of the best weekends of the year.

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FESTIVAL: What to expect from Bluedot

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON

Bluedot is back and it’s bigger than ever! The music and science festival has curated another stellar line-up full of mind-warping acts and science programmes this year and will take place, as ever, at Jodrell Bank Observatory. This year’s festival celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings so expect a very moon-themed weekend.

Bluedot has always been a festival that pushes the boundaries in terms of creating memorable and exciting experiences for its attendees. The mixture of science and music compliment each other well and under the gaze of the beautiful Jodrell Bank Observatory the festival really comes alive at night.

Headliners Kraftwerk, Hot Chip and New Order are joined by a great supporting cast of acts such as John Grant, Kate Tempest and Anna Calvi. Professor Tim O’Brien will present ‘One Giant Leap: Jodrell Bank and the Race To The Moon as well as other science programming that consists of Luke Jerran’s ‘Museum of the Moon’ and actual archive footage of the Apollo 11 landings in July 1969.

Kraftwerk need no introduction. If you’re into any electronic music then you can trace the roots back to Kraftwerk. The German electronic pioneers bring their 3D show to Bluedot and this is guaranteed to be one of the most amazing things anyone will see this year. Hot Chip are back in 2019 with a new album to boot. Very few bands are accomplished as them live so make sure you take your dancing shoes with you and you know what you’re going to get with New Order. Like Kraftwerk, their fingerprints are all over modern electronic music. They are the best band Manchester has ever produced. Period.

KRAFTWERK 3D Der Katalog 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Kunstsammlung NRW Düsseldorf 2013

There’s also a solid DJ line-up consisting of the immense Maxine Peake, La Discotheque and MCR Live Resident, the fabulous DJ Paulette. No matter what you’re into, Bluedot has it covered. Tickets for the festival are still on sale but you’ll need to grab them quick before they disappear. I can’t recommend this festival enough so you have to be there!

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FESTIVAL: Inner City Electronic

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON

Inner City Electronic returns to Leeds for another triumphant city-wide celebration of the best in electronic music. Taking places across a plethora of Leeds’ best venues, this festival is a 24 hour party mirroring Leeds’ cultural renaissance as a European-style 24 hour city.

With a stellar line-up thats consists of Nina Kraviz, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Bebn UFO, Nightmares On Wax, DJ Stingray, Craig Richards, DJ Boring, Moxie, Orpheu The Wizard, Shanti Celeste, Ralph Lawson, Willow and Ross From Friends and with parties hosted by Resident Advisor, Dimensions, Percolate and Transmission Funk there’s only one city to be in on June 1st.

The venues set aside for the festival are Brudenell Social Club, Church Leeds, Distrikt, Freedom Mills, Hifi, Hope House, Hyde Park Book Club, Old Red Bus Station, Sheaf St, Wire, The Wardrobe plus some other secret locations TBC. With venues ranging from 250 to 1700 capacity, the festival offers a unique experience to explore the city across a range of parties and events, from small intimate art galleries boasting state of the art sound systems to terrace parties, industrial warehouses and even an 18th century church.

These parties will be running alongside a vast array of workshops, showcases talks and masterclasses that focus on musical development, culture and technology and the music industry in general.

Last year’s masterclasses from the likes of KiNK and Prince Fatty, an ‘in conversation’ series of talks with artists Craig Richards, Paul Woolford and Midland and a range of talks and panels with numerous industry panellists. In addition inner city electronic played host to technology showcases from the likes of TPI Audio, Master Sounds, Pioneer, Rane, Akai and many more.

Tickets are still on sale for Inner City Electronic but make sure you’re quick and get yours sorted because they aren’t going to be sticking around for much longer.

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FESTIVAL: Top 5 live acts @ Parklife

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON

Since its inception, Parklife Festival has always curated cutting-edge line-ups consisting of a wide range of genres. Now in its the 9th year it’s still growing and enhancing its reputation as the crown jewel in Manchester’s music scene. Take a look at our interview with the founder of  Warehouse Project and Parklife, Sacha Lord, and explore the creative mind behind the festival. This year’s line-up continues to put diverse and exciting acts at the forefront.

During the festival weekend, you do really feel the whole city of Manchester come together for one big party and it doesn’t look like this party is ending anytime soon. Here I’ll give my top 5 picks for who you need to see at this year’s Parklife. The line-up is jam-packed full of talent so this wasn’t easy. But here goes:

Solange

One of the most accomplished acts on the bill this year. Her unique style of soul-infused R&B is made for big festival stages. Her last album, 2016’s A Seat At The Table was genuinely ground-breaking so this isn’t something you want to miss.

Nas

Is there a better hip-hop album than Illmatic? Feel free to answer that one. Nas doesn’t need any introduction. One of the greatest rappers there’s ever been. Again, this is something you don’t want to miss.

Ben UFO & Call Super

Ben UFO & Call Super on their own would probably get onto this list. But both of them together? Absolute shoo-in. Who knows what they have planned for us but one thing’s for sure it’s going to get us dancing. Both are pioneers behind decks so expect some mind-bending greatness when they get the party started.

Ricardo Villalobos

The Chilean-born DJ and producer has been in the game for decades and still manages to completely mesmerise and surprise audiences. It’s difficult to really pin down what to expect from a Villalobos set as they’re always different so just expect something pretty unique.

Pusha T

The last time I saw Pusha T was at Parklife a few years ago. He was amazing that day so pretty sure he’s going to treat us all again this year. Always controversial and never boring if I had to put some money on it I’d say this will be the highlight of the weekend.

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LIVE: Interpol @ O2 Apollo

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON     PHOTO BY PIRAN ASTON

NYC outfit Interpol were in town last week to play a career-spanning set at Manchester’s O2 Apollo. One of those bands that flew out of New York in that early 00’s period and caught everyone’s imagination, they’ve had a longevity to their career. Whereas most bands from that period have tended to fall to the wayside. ‘Maurauder’ their sixth album has them bigger than ever so its testament to them that they’re still selling out venues as prestigious as the Apollo.

Watching them live though there’s a really distinctive gap in quality from their earlier stuff to their new stuff. Their first two albums ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ and ‘Antics’ were two of the first albums I ever bought and they catapulted them to international acclaim. I don’t think they’ve ever reached those heights again.

Opening with ‘Untitled’, the first track on their debut album was truly beautiful. The opening guitar plucks create a mellifluous sound that echoes in every corner of the venue. It truly is a great opener but it sets a standard which cannot be reached again. I don’t think it’s any surprise that their older tracks are the ones which get the crowd going most. ‘Hands Away’ is a masterclass in pacing. Gradually building and building and building until there’s an explosion of noise. ‘NYC’ still sounds as good as it did 16 years ago. ‘Evil’ still gets the crowd going as wild as it ever has.

Paul Banks’ lyrical prowess is vastly underestimated compared to some of the bands that came out of New York during that period. He doesn’t have the coolness of Julian Casablancas or the wit of James Murphy but Interpol’s lyrics always tend to be more heartfelt. It’s just a shame their last few albums haven’t been able to hit the same heights as the first two both musically and lyrically.

There is a great end to the gig though. ‘Slow Hands’ gets the crowd jumping and singing every line. It’s a great indie rock track. One that you get up and dance to if you hear in a club. It sounds even better live than on record. Overall, there’s enjoyment to be had when Interpol pluck tracks from their back catalogue. Their new stuff leaves a lot to be desired though.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Khruangbin @ Albert Hall | 25.10.18

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON          PHOTO BY PASCALE GARNIER

“Thank you for singing along to a load of songs without any words in them’ exclaimed guitarist Mark Speer about midway through the gig in that Texan twang of his. Therein lies the beauty of Khruangbin. The melodies they create are so dreamy and catchy that they have any audience singing along to just instrumental. This type of band is a perfect fit for the Albert Hall, each guitar riff echoing around that beautiful hall. Watching Khruangbin there was a transcending experience. Could you ever fit more beauty into one room?

 

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@khruangbin were just 👌🏻 tonight…

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For a band to create mesmerising music with no lyrics, they have to be incredibly accomplished musicians and Khruangbin are certainly that. Donald Ray Johnson is as precise a drummer as you’ll ever see, Mark Speer and Laura Lee riff off each other perfectly. Their guitar and bass intertwine to create melodies which instantly get people nodding and grooving. Just listen to their work on ‘Dern Kala’ and ‘Two Fish and an Elephant’. Try listening to those songs and not moving your head. It’s impossible.

You can’t pigeon-hole them either. There’s no specific genre in which you can tie them to. Gospel, psychedelic, soul, funk, it’s all there when you listen to them. Just before they went off for the encore they presented the audience with a taster of their influences by playing a melody consisting of tracks such as ‘Your Love’ by Frankie Knuckles, ‘Regulate’ by Warren G and ‘Nuthin But A G Thang’ by Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg. Speer is the star of the show during these covers, recreating these tracks to perfection on his guitar.

I think the best compliment I can give them is that as I’m sat down writing this review, I’m still poring over the intricacies of their performance. All those sexy bass grooves and jangly guitar licks. Near the end of the set Lee recalls a story of their first gig in Manchester where she announced that the crowd was “thick as fuck” not realising what that means over here. This time, she got it right and said Manchester is “fit as fuck”. Yes, we are, and so are Khruangbin. All 3 of them and their tunes.

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LIVE: Rush Hour Records @ The Warehouse Project | 13.10.18

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON      PHOTOS BY ROB JONES

Amsterdam record label ‘Rush Hour Records’ rolled into Manchester to get people’s feet moving at The Warehouse Project‘s Store Street venue. Stellar names such as Moodymann, Gerd Janson, DJ Nobu and the main man himself Antal were all in-attendance for The Warehouse Project’s first day party of the season.

I’ve always thought that The Warehouse Project is in its prime when doing these sort of day parties. The crowds seem to be better, there’s more dancing and the DJ’s bring their A-Game. Gerd Janson’s set was a prime example of this. A very disco-orientated set which was perfect for his time in the early evening. Dropping ‘Vogue’ by Madonna was probably the highlight of the whole event. Could any other DJ have got away with it? Probably not.

Moodymann was his traditional self. I’ve heard horror stories about him before but whenever I’ve seen him he’s always been great. Sure, you sort of always know what you’re going to get with him music-wise but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. He gets you dancing and you can’t really ask for much more than that. After this I snaked my way to Room 3 to catch Sadar Bahar. I’ve always thought this is the best room in The Warehouse Project. It’s tight and compact and sound is perfect. I’d never seen Sadar before but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for him at future festivals. He played a set, laden with big house tracks to get the blood pumping.

‘Rush Hour Records’ is pretty much the Holy Grail if you’re into house and disco. To see a line-up of such diversity in one of the best venues in Manchester was a joy to behold. This was The Warehouse Project night I was looking forward to the most and it didn’t disappoint.

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LIVE: Arctic Monkeys @ Sheffield FlyDSA Arena 22.09.18

WORDS BY DAVID WILKINSON       PHOTOS BY GLENN ASHLEY

Saturday 22nd September saw the final night of Arctic Monkeys’ triumphant 4-day run of gigs in their hometown of Sheffield. You could forgive them for being tired. Especially after a gruelling tour that’s taken them round the world and is still not finished. But this isn’t an ordinary band we’re talking about. This is Arctic Monkeys. This is a band which has shaped a generation of indie music lovers. They don’t do things by halves.

Their latest album ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’ showed that they haven’t lost any of the talent which saw them break onto the scene in 2006 and change the music landscape in the UK. Sure, the formula changes with each album but the quality remains and 12 years after their debut you still get the feeling this is a band that’s best years are still ahead of them.

I say this with certainty because on this particular evening, in front of their people, they were better than I have ever seen them. Opening with ‘Four Out Of Five’ off their latest album they ripped through old and new tracks. ‘Brianstorm’ is the perfect second song in a set. It sees pints getting thrown, bodies going wild and people humming the tune at the top of their voices. Is there a more perfect sight than watching all that sort of madness unfold at a gig?

‘Dancing Shoes’ quickly follows and it really struck me how well the songs of their first album still stand up. Alex Turner prowls the stage throughout the gig but the high point of his performance is during ‘Cornerstone’ where the camera follows him throughout. Staring into the camera he just completely oozes sex appeal. That sarcastic smile on his face, his hips gyrating, he knows exactly how to work an audience.

The following track ‘One Point Perspective’ is the best on the latest album for me. It’s a song which budding songwriters should study. The lyrics are perfect, the pacing is perfect, it really is Turner on top of his game. Tracks like this just remind you of how good of a songwriter he actually is. The best of our generation? It would be hard to argue against that.

 

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Cannot believe I was this close to Alex Turner and he didn’t even know it, poor guy

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The biggest sing-a-long of the night comes when they play an accapella version of ‘A Certain Romance’. A song that still resonates with people today all these years later. If anyone tells you Arctic Monkeys aren’t a political band then put this track on for them. Turner was writing about the demonisation of the working-classes long before Owen Jones wrote a best-selling book about it. Here, it echoes around the FlyDSA arena beautifully. Thousands of people all sing at the top of their lungs in unison. It’s a perfect moment.

The double-header of ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ and ‘Do I Wanna Know’ gets the crowd grooving with the riff to the latter shuddering your entire body. Turner’s vocal range is on full show during these tracks. Each lyric is delivered with an infectious attitude. Some bands can only dream of being able to perform tracks this good.

The encore is the brilliant ‘Star Treatment’, ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘R U Mine?’. That Saturday in Sheffield we were theirs. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand and they knew it. 12 years on from their debut album we’re still obsessed with this band and they continue to create music that surprises and enthralls us. As weird as it sounds this is a band that’s probably just getting started.

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REVIEW: Farr Festival Review & Top 5 Highlights

Farr Festival, one of the UK’s best electronic festivals brought a party to the picturesque Bygrove Woods in Hertfordshire last weekend and it’s a party that will live long in the memory of all who attended. Farr Festival has built a reputation as one of the most eclectic and forward-thinking festivals in the UK and this installment was no different.

The sun was out, the stages were set, the sound was great, the beers and tunes flowed and a gathering of like-minded individuals met and partied the weekend away. It would be difficult to narrow down how many great memories I made there into 5 highlights but I’ll give it a go for you.

Roman Flugel

Roman Flugel is one of the biggest names in German electronic music. With a 2 decade long career behind him there aren’t many places in the world where he hasn’t DJ’d. However, I doubt he has played at a more beautiful and intense space than the Adventures In Success stage at Farr. He played a stormer on the Saturday night and it was probably my favourite set of the weekend.

Mr G

This guy set the tone for the whole weekend for me. Playing on a stage he himself had curated he brought the house down. This was easily the most dancing I’d done at a festival in a long time and after accidently bumping into the man himself earlier on in the day, I can say he’s one of the coolest and nicest DJ’s around.

Optimo b2b Young Marco

It wouldn’t be a festival unless I saw Optimo. The Scottish duo are maestros of the party. Here at Farr they went b2b with another titan in Amsterdam’s Young Marco. My memory of this set is a little hazy but I remember quite a lot of MJ getting played (which is never a bad thing). I don’t think I’ve ever seen either of them play a bad set but this was surely one of their best.

Willow

One of Manchester’s finest exports of recent times Willow smashed The Shack early on Sunday morning. It was the perfect set for all the late night/early morning ravers.

England

In hindsight now we’ve been knocked out it seems silly to include the England game in this list but at the time it was one of those moments where everyone was unified. The atmosphere was incredible and for me it was what real patriotism looks like. No matter what you looked like or what you were into everyone was together singing and celebrating. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of and I wouldn’t have swapped watching that game with 2,000 other people for any DJ set in the world.

Farr Festival 2018 was a truly immersive experience. It’s a festival that gets under your skin and doesn’t let go of you. It’s up there with my favourite festivals I’ve ever been to and next year is its 10th anniversary so you can bet they have something special up their sleeve.

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Preview: Mint Festival

Mint Festival is back and it’s bigger and better than ever for its seventh edition. The North’s most essential dance gathering isn’t resting on its laurels and it’s curated one of the best line-ups you’ll find anywhere. There’s also more stages, more production and a few surprises in there which will not disappoint!

Based in Leeds (venue TBA) it celebrates the best from the worlds of house, techno, disco, bass and electro and welcomes some of the biggest names in these genres to this Yorkshire paradise.

Stellar names such as DJ EZ, Kerri Chandler, Adam Beyer, Moodymann, Peggy Gou, Derrick Carter, Eats Everything, Tom Zanetti, Patrick Topping and Skream will all be in attendance making sure that there won’t be a single person there not dancing.

There will be four different arenas this year. The first is The Bunker which is a brilliant no-frills space made from shipping containers. Next is Area 51, a vast hangar that is usually used to store fighter jets. This is possibly the largest single festival structure in the UK!

Thirdly, there’s the Woodstock Disco which will be showcasing the world’s biggest disco ball (and it’s where you’ll find me all afternoon and evening). It’s as high as a three story house and covered in a kilometre of reflective tiles so will be the focal point of a 360 degree party as you dance underneath.

And finally, there’s the Arcadia Afterburner which will host separate day and night parties. Those who frequent the UK festival scene will be familiar with Arcadia and will know exactly that partying there is unlike any other partying experience you can imagine.

With sick new stages like The Hangar The Red Bull Arena also returns and there will be loads of tasty street food, cocktail stalls, glitter stalls, posh loos and a perfect chill out area where you can take it easy and absorb the atmosphere.

Tickets are moving fast and theres a flash sale on right now so make sure you snap yours up right away here – www.mintfestival.co.uk

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