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Luke Liddle

hans zimmer Live

LIVE: The World of Hans Zimmer @ Manchester Arena


35 years and over 150 films into his career, iconic German composer Hans Zimmer has curated a live symphonic retrospective of his vast body of work, which reached UK shores this week. Despite the fact that Zimmer himself is not a physical part of this tour, Manchester Arena, in its seated configuration is very close to being sold out, with a crowd from across the age spectrum coming to bask in some of the greatest ever celluloid soundtracks.

hans zimmer

As opposed to previous Zimmer-related tours, where individual songs from his films were performed, the pieces played this evening are mini-suites, starting with the themes from The Dark Knight and King Arthur. Zimmer himself appears in pre-recorded videos with a few of his film collaborators, including Ron Howard, who introduces selections from Rush and The Da Vinci Code. The latter is a sprawling mishmash of Zimmer’s ‘scrapbook’, his original ideas for the score, not all of which made it to the actual film. It twists and turns, by far the longest piece played throughout the night and somewhat overstaying its welcome.

After a 20 minute intermission, the mood changes significantly, with a joyous romp through some of the animated films that Zimmer has contributed to, from Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda to The Lion King, the latter proceeded by a video introduction featuring Lebo M, who provided the iconic chant at the start of the film. The feel-good factor is continued with excerpts from rom-com The Holiday, which takes on an almost rock flavour. The set then builds to a dramatic denouement, with Gladiator and Inception. Gladiator features the stunning vocals of Lisa Gerrard, the Australian artist who co-wrote some of the films’ work with Zimmer. The arena rises to its feet for an ovation, prompting a somewhat inevitable, yet thrilling, an encore of Pirates of the Caribbean.

‘The World of Hans Zimmer’ is a success as a production, a potent reminder of Zimmer’s vast influence across the world of film and music and a testament to the magic that he and his collaborators have created across the decades.

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LIVE: Tess Parks @ YES


Tess Parks may be best known for her collaborations with The Brian Jonestown Massacre frontman, Anton Newcombe, but it was a very different influence sharing the stage with her in the Pink Room at YES. Toronto native Parks is on a short solo tour promoting her and Newcombe’s second, eponymous album, which dropped in October. Clad in white, with a ‘who the fuck is Liam Gallagher?’ T-shirt beneath her blazer, Parks sways too and fro, brandishing a tambourine and sipping from a bottle of what appears to be wine.

Parks’s ‘All Star Band’ whip up a storm of reverb-laden psych rock, giving their leader a hazy canvas over which to growl her lyrics. Her voice sounds like a rawer, darker Hope Sandoval, vaguely dangerous, yet always beguiling. It will not be to everyone’s taste, but the crowd at YES lap up her every vowel, Parks playfully parroting one vocal fan’s broad Mancunian accent in between songs. Each song is delivered at a similar, stomping speed, which risks being boring, but instead generates a hypnotic effect.

The reverie is broken by Park’s drummer abruptly excusing himself to use the bathroom, creating an awkward pause. While he arrived back, Parks introduces to the stage Mr. Paul Arthurs, better known as Bonehead. A gushing Parks expounds on her t-shirt slogan by praising the Manchester icons as one of her biggest influencers. Bonehead provides a guitar for the final two songs of the set, ‘Please Never Die’ and the anthemic ‘Grunewald’. Parks’s usual collaborator, Newcombe, is famed for his irascibility, seeing her on stage with smiling and waving Bonehead is certainly jarring.


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Whereas Parks is resplendent in white, opening act URF are clad uniformly in black, striking silhouettes in front of the projected backdrop. The Manchester-based five-piece are on familiar turf here, having supported BJM earlier this year and it’s easy to see why they have been selected, their shoegaze-y style is a perfect companion to the psych of Parks and Newcombe. Showcasing tracks from their 2018 ‘For the Ride’ EP and beyond, URF’s mixture of propellant bass, thumping drums and soaring vocals make them to one to catch live in the New Year.

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LIVE: Tom Misch @ O2 Apollo | 14.11.18


Jazz-funk wunderkind Tom Misch transported his beats from the bedroom to the big stage of Manchester’s O2 Apollo as part of his tour in support of his debut album, ‘Geography’. Misch’s smooth R&B-cum-jazz stylings are complemented by the tour’s opening act, the instrumental Yussef Dayes trio, who come across as a thoroughly modern edition of a classic lounge band. Misch himself is treated to a rapturous welcome by the young crowd, striding onstage after the rest of his musicians warm up with “Before Paris’ and diving into ‘It Runs Through Me’.


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In comparison to his polished and perfected music, Misch’s lyrics are often trite, but in the context of the live performance, this does not hamper the crowd’s enjoyment of his sound. He is joined on the ‘Geography’ artwork inspired stage by a revolving cast of musicians, including a trio of saxophonists who dip in and out of the set, appearing now and again to add a dose of brass. Misch’s co-guitarist alternate between guitar and violin, an instrument which features prominently on Misch’s recorded output. The band sound well rehearsed and the acoustics of the O2 Apollo theater lend an intimacy to proceedings.

A surprising lull in the set came during a relatively faithful cover of OutKast’s ‘Prototype’. Misch is heavily indebted to artists such as OutKast and J Dilla and this is a serviceable cover, but one suspects that many of the audience may be too young to have a first hand recollection of the release of ‘Prototype’ in 2003.

The energy is otherwise kept up throughout the set, even during the more sedate moments (‘I Wish’, a seductive ‘Movie’), but especially when a giant disco ball descends from the ceiling and Misch deploys his guitar noodling and Nile-Rodgers-esque style funk on to bangers such as his emblematic ‘South of the River’. ‘Lost in Paris’ gets the loudest reception of the evening, with the crowd shouting the background lyrics in a call-and-response style. After the euphoria of ‘Paris’, the night ends in slightly more subdued fashion with the 2016 single ‘Watch Me Dance’. Misch is not the most charismatic of front-men and is a man of few words onstage, but excels as a bandleader and musician. The fact that he is only 23 is both impressive and also exciting, his ventures, both live and in the studio only promise to get even better from hereon out.

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EP REVIEW: ‘ Bloodsongs ‘ – Tom Branfoot

Ever since we caught his storming set at Manchester’s Fuel, we have been enraptured by Tom Branfoot. The West Yorkshire troubadour bursts onto the scene with his debut EP ‘ Bloodsongs ’. Blood, tears and wine drip all over this five-track collection, which constitutes a strong introduction to Branfoot’s DIY balladeering.

Physical trauma is used as a metaphor for emotional distress throughout the Bloodsongs EP; if Branfoot isn’t being bled dry, he’s being crucified or drowning. However, this isn’t to say that Bloodsongs lacks tenderness. Indeed, the harshness of Branfoot’s growl and guitars is offset perfectly by the delicate, yearning lyrics. If Bloodsongs had a colour palette, it would be metallic greys and muted browns. The odd flash of red that pops up here and there is effective in breaking this up, the lyrical equivalent of the little girl’s dress in Schindler’s List.


Opening the EP, ‘Post-London Blues’ is ladened with Morrissey-esque laments referencing as to how ‘the North is testing’ Branfoot, whilst icy guitar lines twist around the vocals and a thudding drum machine beat ties everything together in haunting fashion. A theme that follows throughout the release, putting forth a clear indication as to what the 4 remaining tracks entail. Impressively, and to no surprise as a musician putting out his first release, Bloodsongs what recorded from Branfoot’s bedroom. Yet, tracks like ‘Crucified’ make effective use of reverb, sounding as more like it was recorded in an aircraft hangar.

Arguably the highlight of the record is the swooning, penultimate ‘Hungover, Heartbroken’. Written in the space of only an hour in Leeds train station, it waltzes along on a doo-wop beat and serves as an unapologetically romantic ode to a departed lover. The EP finishes on a less rose-tinted note, however, with the howl into the void that is ‘Neither of Us Have Anything’, which fades slowly out, representing a lingering kiss-off to an old flame who Branfoot “was wasted on” as the listener is left hoping that the lover from ‘Hungover, Heartbroken’ belongs to the more recent past than that of ‘Neither of Us Have Anything’. Bloodsongs is an eerie and beautiful introduction from the upcoming musician.


GIG REVIEW: Tom Branfoot, Strange Friends & Great Ghosts @ Fuel Cafe Bar

It takes a great deal of guts to get up onstage and perform solo, especially if one then goes on to spill said guts all over the stage. Leeds artist Tom Branfoot does just this – in his highly theatrical fashion – during live performances, a factor of engagement that was no different at Withington’s intimate Fuel Café Bar, promoting his upcoming debut EP ‘Bloodsongs’. With no material currently available to stream (until the 4th May), the night proposed a whole evening of surprise.

Branfoot is not the only solo artist to figuratively bare all this evening. Host for the evening (and first act to take to the floor-level stage) is Great Ghosts, the moniker of Harry Yeates. In his own words, Yeates writes ‘spooky sad bedroom pop’ and the atmosphere during his set is just as intimate as this suggests. Members of the crowd sit cross-legged on the floor as he plays, some appearing to drift away to the dreamy sounds of his tender vocals. Despite tuning issues with his guitar, Yeates crafts a charmingly homespun set that garners an appreciative reaction from the assembled crowd. Listen to his latest release, here.

Boasting as many members of the rest of the acts put together, Strange Friends (Sam Shorter, Deane Smith) provide a more boisterous counterpoint to Yeates fragile pop, playing songs about losing friends, being brave, and millennial dread. Their loose, noisy, stoner-rock gets the crowd moving as the room gets sweatier in the run-up to the main event.

Sporting high-waisted trousers, an artfully ripped shirt and a blazer, Branfoot takes to the stage and there are instantly shades of Patti Smith as the musician spits out an acapella poem. From then on, the set is all apocalyptic drum machines and searing guitar, with Branfoot’s impassioned vocals driving his words into the crowd like nails. Recent single ‘Crucified’ finds Branfoot topless and crashing about the stage into the crowd, like a man on the verge of madness. ‘I Can Make You Mine’, a tale of geographical and emotional distance name-checks a litany of counterculture saints: Ginsberg, Kahlo, Kerouac.

A more mainstream icon is invoked with a downbeat cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m on Fire’. Set closer ‘Hungover, Heartbroken’ is a great emotional sigh of a song, a bleary-eyed ode to a lover dressed in red. Yeates requests one more song and Branfoot complies with a storming cover of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds’ ‘Stranger Than Kindness’ to bring a climatic end to a cathartic evening.


French Horn

GIG REVIEW: French Horn Rebellion & Patawawa @ Eagle Inn

For the first time in seven years, U.S. brothers Robert and David Perlick-Molinari ( French Horn Rebellion) have embarked on a U.K. tour, this time joining forces with Derbyshire synth-pop outfit Patawawa to promote their recent joint single, ‘Mr. Romantic’. Both bands are purveyors of disco-indebted pop, so the prospect of a co-headline tour promises a smorgasbord of funk.

From their neon microphone cables to their Bez-like dance moves, few bands look as though they enjoy being onstage as Patawawa (Sam Wilmot, Rory Lovatt and Beth Garrett). With Lovatt on guitar and in charge of samples and Wilmot and Garrett trading off smooth vocals, Patawawa’s escapist disco has the audience eating out of the palm of their hands from the get-go. Songs such as ‘Four to The Floor’, boasting choppy Nile Rodgers riffs and 90s house saxophone are perfect dancing fodder. A small group near the front know the words to every song, much to the delight of Wilmot, who feeds off their reaction, his dance moves getting wilder by the minute to match their energy. Set closer ‘Patagonia’ is a slab of synth strings and funk guitar noodling, a fitting end to a sweaty set.

French Horn Rebellion keep the party mood going, opening with exuberant 2017 single ‘Magic’. The brothers Perlick-Molinari are ably backed by Pink Flamingo Rhythm Revue, helping fleshing out their electro-pop for the stage. Oftentimes, electro-pop bands struggle to translate their studio recordings to the live environment, but French Horn Rebellion avoid this pitfall. The eponymous French horn is deployed early and often by frontman David, much to the delight of the crowd. Robert produced MGMT’s debut EP, ‘Time to Pretend’ and there are flecks of the MGMT sound here, along with classic 80s tropes such as vocoder-laced backing vocals. The brothers part the Red Sea of the crowd for a  dance-off during Marching Punks (from 2016 album ‘Classically Trained’), pitting the two sides off against each other. Unsurprisingly, the side on which the Patawawa members are dancing ends up having the best moves. Patawawa are called up to the stage for a big finale consisting of Mr. Romantic and a crowd-pleasing, almost EDM-inspired cover of Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me’, with several in the crowd calling out for more music afterwards, to no avail.

Both acts are not to be missed live, fans of sheer unadulterated fun can only hope that French Horn Rebellion don’t wait another seven years to return to these shores again.


Mouses Manchester

GIG REVIEW: Mouses @ Eagle Inn

Teesside duo Mouses returned to Manchester this weekend for a raucous show in the claustrophobia-inducing confines of the Eagle Inn, Salford. Local acts Hover Bored and Gud Guts kicked off the evening with well-received support sets which packed in plenty of grungy goodness, setting the tone for the headliners.

Mouses, comprised of guitarist/vocalist Steven Bardgett and drummer Nathan Duff, have been on a roll over the past couple of years. Bagging a coveted spot at Reading and Leeds Festival, headlining Stockton Calling Festival and touring all over Europe all in their back-catalogue of achievements, it seems that the two-piece are going from strength to strength with Mouses current tour seeing the band dispensing their patented brand of not-to-be-missed frenetic garage rock up and down the country. In keeping with the unreconstructed setting of the gig, the set itself is raw and loose with plenty of room allowed for improvisation & crowd interaction – a factor exemplified by a pre-show request for an ABBA track being honoured with an interpolation of ‘Dancing Queen’ into the band’s 2016 single, ‘Hollywood’. Nathan later pounded out an impromptu drum solo to fill the dead air whilst Steven changed a snapped guitar string – little things like this from the grungy headliners highlight their playful (and professional) manner.

Tracks from Mouses ‘ highly-acclaimed 2016 debut ‘The Mouses Album’ made up the majority of the short, but ferocious, set alongside two new tracks ‘Illusion’ and ‘Nostalgia’. The new songs represent a refinement and development of the typical Mouses sound and went down well with the receptive Salford crowd. After storming through fan-favourites including ‘Poison’ and ‘Green’, the set came to a climax with ‘Worm’ and its blistering, repeated broadsides against organised religion. At face value, this may seem an odd way to end a gig, but it is the perfect summary of everything that Mouses are as a band: off-kilter, quirky and willing to tackle societal orthodoxies head on.

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