Video of Ghostpoet at Arnos Vale

17 04 2013

Ghostpoet’s gig at Arnos Vale Cemetery last month (read our review here) can now be watched as a video made by French bloggers and videographers La Blogotheque. The gig was the first of the Nokia Lumia Live Sessions, bringing live music to unusual locations across the UK.

My Bristol favourites: Lawrence Montgomery

14 04 2013

Lawrence Montgomery is the founder and owner of Rise on Queen’s Road, one of Bristol’s few remaining music shops now with a cafe and bar on its ground floor. This year’s Record Store Day takes place on Saturday, April 20 and Rise will once again be taking part, hosting a day of live music with some exclusive material on sale.

Here are Lawrence’s top-five Bristol favourites:

Howling Owl Records
“A niche record label that Adrian from the shop and Joe run. They are both in the band Spectres and have also released records from G A L P A L S, Let’s Kill Janice, Gumm, Towns and more. They are releasing a limited 12’’ for Record Store Day. I love the way they do things – like the great record labels of the past – small runs, great gig nights at interesting venues and a passion and enthusiasm which is difficult not to catch.”

“The best milkshakes in the world! I have to ration myself as the shop is only a stones throw away otherwise I would be even fatter than I am already! Their burgers aren’t too bad either.”

The Sportsman
“There is no where better to watch football than this Gloucester Road pub. One time I went they had five different games on simultaneously! The atmosphere is friendly, the beer is good value and they have lots of pool tables. Sorted!”

Start The Bus
“Despite most of the clientèle being achingly cool it is actually pretty welcoming and the burgers are up there with Rocotillos (there’s a theme here, right?!). Great gigs, nice selection of drinks and great atmosphere. Many a Rise staff night out has ended up here.”

Rise’s customers
“We are lucky at Rise to have such a wide range of lovely customers. From trendy students through to older guys with such a knowledge of niche areas such as blues, classical or jazz; we learn a lot off our customers and we are really thankful to our regular patrons who give the shop the vibe it has.”

Rise instore gig

Preview: Bristol Folk Festival

25 04 2011

After an absence of three decades, the Bristol Folk Festival returns to the city this weekend. Featuring a stellar lineup of some of the best musicians currently plying their trade in any genre of music, not just folk, the revived festival promises to be one of the undoubted highlights of Bristol’s musical year.

The Colston Hall will be the centre of activities over the Royal Wedding Bank Holiday weekend, with Bellowhead, Show of Hands and Seth Lakeman headlining the three nights of the festival.

As well as the award-winning musicians, the festival will feature Morris dancers and mummers, ceilidhs, and even indoor camping for the attendees from further afield at St Mary-on-the-Quay Church a few hundred yards from the Colston Hall.

With a two-stage undercover festival, one problem organisers will not have is the weather.

Flooding put pay to the original Bristol Folk Festival in 1979 when the River Avon burst its banks at the Hanham Mills site and caused organiser Reg Mann a nightmare which saw him lose £10,000.

Reg, now 79 and running a greengrocer’s in Midsomer Norton, will be a VIP guest on Sunday night.

Ticket prices vary for each day of the festival, with three-day weekend passes still available at £75 for adults, and £60 for over-65s and children aged six to 16.

Friday, April 29: £30 (£25 concessions)
Doors open 3pm: Seth Lakeman | Sean Lakeman & Kathryn Roberts |Jim Moray | Bella Hardy | Tom Palmer| 3 Daft Monkeys | Ruarri Joseph | Under the Driftwood Tree | Phoenix River Band | The Bristol Poets | Gaz Brookfield | Elephant Talk | Sloe Jam | Roger Tarry | Kate Corrigan | Songs from the Shed

Saturday, April 30: £40 (£35 concessions)
Doors open 9am
Music from 10am to midnight: Show of Hands | Jamie Smith’s Mabon | Jane Taylor | Pilgrims’ Way | Brooks Williams & Keith Warmington | Phil King | Elfynn | Inu | Luke Concannon | Silent Disco with special guest DJs | Jenna | Open mic hosted by Hoddmaddary | Bristol Shantymen | Hotwells Howlers | Keith Christmas | Barry Walsh | Unstrung Heroes with Geoff Lakeman | Songs from the Shed

Sunday, May 1: £45 (£40 concessions)
Doors open 8am
Music from 10am to midnight: Bellowhead | Sheelanagig | Fay Hield Trio | Belshazzar’s Feast | Rachael McShane Trio | Johnny Coppin | Dyer Cummings | Al O’Kane | The Bristol Poets | Furlined | Open mic hosted by Mark Venus | Jacanda | Jim Tigwell | Cole Stacey | Songs from the Shed

Visit for full details.

Bristol gigs of the week, March 21-27

21 03 2011

Monday, March 21: The Unthanks, Arnolfini

Monday, March 21: Rumer, Colston Hall

Tuesday, March 22: Glasvegas, Thekla

Wednesday, March 23: Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Fleece

Wednesday, March 23: James Blake, Thekla

Thursday, March 24: Southern Tenant Folk Union, Colston Hall 2

Thursday, March 24: The Overtones, Thekla

Thursday, March 24: John E Vistic, Tunnels

Sunday, March 27: Emma’s Imagination, Thekla (below)

Best Bristol gigs, March 14-20

14 03 2011

Monday, March 14: Peter Katz, Louisiana

Tuesday, March 15: Chase & Status, Academy

Wednesday, March 16: Craobh Rua, Colston Hall 2

Thursday, March 17: Crystal Fighters, Fleece (below)

Friday, March 18: The Wombats, Academy

Saturday, March 19: Interpol, Colston Hall

Sunday, March 20: Baaba Maal, St George’s

New Bristol music festival announced

9 03 2011

A new outdoor weekend-long music festival is coming to Bristol this summer. We The People will take place on June 4 and 5 on the harbourside. The Streets and Chase & Status have already been announced as headliners on the Saturday and Sunday nights, with more acts to be announced.

The festival, happening between midday and 11pm over the weekend, will have three arenas to host artists and DJs. It will be able to host up to 10,000 people each day, with tickets on sale now for £25.

“Bristol is assured of a weekend of the finest musical mayhem as the inaugural We The People festival announces its headliners,” the blurb goes.

“Taking place on the idyllic Bristol Harbour in early June, a collection of national promoters and leading lights of the local club and live music scene have worked tirelessly to bring the finest musical pioneers to the city.”

For more information on the festival, visit

Review: Janelle Monáe, Bristol Academy

24 02 2011

Coming from the same Atlanta stable as hip-hop superstars Outkast, Janelle Monáe was always going to be a bit special. But her gig at the Bristol Academy – the first on a whistle stop five-date UK tour – was very special indeed with so much happening on stage that it was often difficult to know where to look.

There was also one of the best moments at a gig you are likely to see this year, when during Cold War the beat was gradually slowed down, Monáe, her band and dancers all lay down on stage, urging the crowd to follow suit which they duly did. Then the music restarted, the performers and audience jumped up as one, the second confetti canon of the night was unleashed and the party atmosphere recommenced. It was an astonishing piece of visual theatre.

This was pure performance, with Kansas-born Monáe (pronounced Mow-nay) and her cohorts all dressed in snappy white shirts and black ties or bowties. Monáe sometimes accessorised this look with a cape or two, and with hair that at the beginning of the show had a quiff that put Elvis to shame but by the end of the night looked more like Sideshow Bob’s barnet.

The only criticism was that some of the incidental elements of the show lasted a bit too long: the initial introduction by a showman in top hat and tails followed by Monáe as her ArchAndroid alter-ego on the big screen filling in on the back story of her album (we were meant to be in 2719).

This didn’t add anything to proceedings, and nor did the extended guitar solo which followed the fabulous first three songs of the night, Dance or Die, Faster and Locked Inside, all blending into one seamless whole.

But the song she sang with just the guitar for company, all the snazzy visuals now replaced by a blank screen, made up for the protracted solo. Her cover of Smile by Nat King Cole was beautiful, and showed that if it boils down to it, without all the razzmatazz Monáe is still a superb singer.

The first confetti canon moment was for the beginning of Wondaland, one of many of her songs that could easily have come from an Outkast album, but probably an Andre 3000 number rather than Big Boi.

On record, Big Boi features on Tightrope, one of the best songs from The ArchAndroid, a concept album that last year featured on an embarrassing number of albums of the year lists. Live, Tightrope started with clapping feet and foot stomping and featured the trombonist and trumpeter at their most adventurous as black and white balloons rained down from the ceiling.

This was an astonishingly vitalic show, without doubt an early contender for gig of the year from one of the best live performers I have had the pleasure of seeing in Bristol. Like Outkast, Monáe could soon hit the stratosphere, especially having recently announced a joint tour across the US with Bruno Mars. We can say we saw her here first.

Review: James Blake, Thekla

23 02 2011

James Blake is not easy listening. In fact, he is probably the least commercial artist to have broken through onto daytime radio playlists in recent years. With his resolutely uncommercial body of work, his live show at the Thekla was an intriguing prospect.

It would be fair to say that a lot of punters simply did not get Blake’s music. And there was a constant battle between those enraptured by the performance shushing those who persisted in talking, even through the quieter numbers.

Blake and two other musicians were sat down on stage throughout the hour-long set, adding another layer of intrigue to the proceedings, as unless you were at the front of the crowd or over six-foot tall, it was very difficult to see what was going on.

So that made the music produced by the trio on stage even more important. And you may not have been able to see the sounds created, but you most definitely were able to feel them, the bass on many songs literally shaking the ceilings and interior fittings of the Thekla.

The classically-trained pianist, a recent graduate from Goldsmiths University, began his set with Unlock, also the opening track from his eponymous debut album (below) released earlier this year.

Its vocoder and disorientating beats set the tone for the rest of the night, which continued with The Wilhelm Scream with its refrain of “falling, falling, falling” set to a distorted bass line.

Blake remained quiet when he was not singing, briefly thanking the crowd for being there, but preferring to let his music do the talking. His high singing voice and its wobbles were reminiscent of Anthony Hegarty from Anthony and the Johnsons, and his piano playing could have easily have seen him perform a recital at St George’s if it were not for the bass that sometimes vibrated through your whole body.

Is the heavy bass just a gimmick? I don’t think so, and I Never Learnt to Share, a song about fraternal strife, proved that. It started with a simple vocal that was looped not just once but twice, thrice, then joined by the bass, a bit fuzzier than usual, and then even more vocal trickery, Blake now accompanying himself many times over.

Blake’s most accessible tune, Limit To Your Love, a cover of a song by Canadian singer-songwriter Feist, was what many of the crowd were waiting for and it didn’t disappoint.

Limit To Your Love finished with a more typical dubstep beat than on record, which the crowd showed their appreciation for, as the drums and bass left barely any room for Blake’s delicate piano lick, until his vocals returned for a surprisingly subtle ending.

With silence being as much part of this gig as the notes, the constant murmur of chatter was a shame, but Blake’s performance was a masterclass in living up to hype, while striving to remain true to his thoughtful, intelligent and completely mesmerising music.

Review: The Saturdays, Colston Hall

23 02 2011

It is common practice for many publications not to use the first person in reviews. Most of the reviews on this website follow that formula, but not this one of The Saturdays at the Colston Hall last night. Because Mollie King looked at me standing in the stalls. She looked at me and waved. The gorgeous, blonde, long-legged, former GB skiier Mollie King looked at me. Me!

I’m sure that most of the crowd are telling their friends the same thing this morning, for when they weren’t singing, Frankie, Mollie, Una, Vanessa and Michelle (in the order Flo Rida gives them in the intro to Higher, their first song of last night’s set), spent a lot of time waving to their fans.

But Mollie definitely looked at me, although my friend Phil who was standing next to me claims that she was actually looking and waving at him. Phil may be a part-time model, but Mollie (right, singing) only had eyes for me.

Before The Saturdays appeared on stage, they did a special version of Duck Sauce’s Barbara Sreisand over the PA, substituting in the names of lucky audience members.

Then the girls were introduced by name on the big screen, and there they were in very sparkly dresses for Higher, showing every inch of leg.

This was a slick and sharply choreographed show. One moment the girls were all sat next to each other on a bench, another they were holding bunches of balloons for Just Can’t Get Enough, the official single for 2009’s Comic Relief appeal.

During costume changes, we were entertained with videos of the girls on the big screen, much of the footage from their ITV2 fly-on-the-wall documentary series.

But it was on stage where the real action happened, when not looking at me Mollie dedicating the tender Here Standing to her grandparents in the audience, and a middle section of Rhianna numbers including Love the Way You Lie and What’s My Name.

They finished dressed in black leather dresses with three of their best songs, Forever Is Over, Missing You and Ego.

Mollie (below, centre) was too busy receiving her plaudits to give me a look goodbye, but she definitely waved at me earlier in the show. Me, me, me!

Bristol gigs of the week, Feb 14-20

14 02 2011

Here is our pick of another busy week of gigs in Bristol.

Monday, February 14: Wolf People, The Cooler

Tuesday, February 15: NME Awards Tour, Academy (Crystal Castles, Magnetic Man, Everything Everything, The Vaccines)

Tuesday, February 15: Penguin Cafe, Colston Hall

Tuesday, February 15: Miles Kane, Fleece

Thursday, February 17: Ocean Colour Scene, Academy (playing Moseley Shoals in full)

Thursday, February 17: Imelda May, Colston Hall (below)

Friday, February 18: Eduardo Niebla, St George’s

Saturday, February 19: Mogwai, Academy

Sunday, February 20: Jamie Woon, Start The Bus

Imelda May, playing at the Colston Hall on Thursday, February 17