Live

Ladyhawke live at O2 Institute, Birmingham

It was 6:35pm and I was stood fourth in line in the freezing cold winter. I was waiting for one of my most anticipated gigs of the year – Ladyhawke live at O2 Institute in Birmingham. This was the gig I’d been waiting for since late last year and I couldn’t quite believe it was finally here.

I had been to the O2 Institute before and so was aware of what to expect from the mid-sized venue, or so I thought. It turned out that the venue was in the lower level of the institute in a very intimately-sized bar. This was even better than I had expected.

As soon as I entered I emptied my bladder, got a coke and took my place front row, center of the all-standing crowd.

Support Band: Isle

I hadn’t heard of Isle before, but liked them as soon as I heard them play. They were just two guys – One on guitars / vocals / synth pads; the other on drums and backing vocals. They packed a lot of punch into their thirty minute support set and got the crowd revved up well for the main act. I kind of felt sorry for the front man when he asked if we “Manchester” were doing well. But he did soon apologize and was noticeably bashful over it.

Isle’s set was sometimes ethereal in sound, which often broke out into frantic, energetic bursts with powerful performances from both. Mixed in there were some effective uses of synthesizers and pads too.

Between the support set and the main act to come, we were treated to a thirty minute selection of Prince songs followed by “Fashion” by David Bowie. This only helped build up my anticipation of what was to come.

Main Act: Ladyhawke

When Pip and band walked out I couldn’t quite believe the wait was over. After listening to her music so much after only discovering her about 10 months previous, the moment was finally here. In fact I think it took about three songs until I could actually believe that Pip and band were actually stood there, about eight feet away, performing the songs I have come to love.

Some of the songs they performed came across heavier live than on the new album “Wild Things“. “Let It Roll” was one that stood out as sounding particularly heavier. This was specifically due to the heavier drum sound, which isn’t surprising considering I was within spitting distance of the bass drum. My only issue with standing so close, was that for me the drums tended to drown out Pip’s vocals a bit on some verses.

Pip came across as very reserved on stage, seeming almost shy at times. This only added to her endearing charm and when it came time to blast out the songs, which the whole band did with gusto, she soon opened up and didn’t disappoint.

I think my favorite song they performed was the title song from the new album “Wild Things”. This song, performed live right in front of me, gave me goosebumps just like I knew it would. It is by far my favorite song on the new album, and one of my top five of her’s overall, and she nailed it.

Although Ladyhawke are a band recognized worldwide, they still felt very much to be the kind of band you’d see at your local bar on a Friday night. They came across as a very down to earth band who weren’t afraid to perform within arms reach of their adoring fans. Each and every song was performed with precision and is a band I would definitely see on their next tour – albeit not so close to the drum kit next time.

Live

Epica live at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

Thanks to a friend of mine, I got the chance to see Epica live at Shepherds Bush Empire last week. This was the second time I can remember going to see a band without having heard the music much before hand. However even though I only knew one of their songs, I still had a great night. All three bands were entertaining: Epica, of course, and the two supporting bands: “Beyond The Black” and “Powerwolf“.

Support Bands

Beyond The Black

Despite the idiots that were stood behind us moaning about how crap the support would probably be, Beyond The Black were actually pretty good I thought. They seemed to be going for the same look and sound as the main act but that’s fine.

Beyond The Black
Beyond The Black

They sounded pretty tight and the lady had a great voice to boot. Although they were the first support, and pulling in a lesser amount of dedicated supporters than Powerwolf – judging by the cheers, I have to say that I actually preferred Beyond the Black out of the two.

Powerwolf

Hailing from Germany, Powerwolf are probably one of the most animated bands I’ve seen live. The first thing that we saw of them was their back drops depicting a ruined cathedral. I whispered to Grant (the aforementioned friend) “I’m going to be really disappointed if they don’t come out in full robes and the like”… I was not disappointed.

Powerwolf
Powerwolf

They came out dressed in full priest garb and even face paint. I immediately expected much death metal growls and screams, however the lead singer came across more operatic than anything. There were still the odd growls but that was pretty much par for the course that evening.

Although the songs did sort of start merging into one another for me, Powerwolf were still entertaining to see and had a great rapport with the audience throughout. Also pretty much the whole room of people knew most of their songs – including the older woman sat next to me, who was absolutely going mental for them.

She was an inspiration.

Epica

The one song that I knew, “Edge of the Blade”, sounding great live. As did the rest of the set. Throughout the whole show the band were forever switching places, including the keyboardist up on a stage-surrounding ledge, which he had rigged to a track. It seemed that every three or four minutes he would be rolling around the ledge on his keyboard.

Even though I couldn’t name a single song of theirs, I still enjoyed the show. The band seemed to have a great chemistry on stage and this came through in the performances and their unending energy.

I was very grateful we had seated tickets too. After our full-day walkabout in London, I don’t think I would have survived the “Wall of Death” and following Mosh Pit that was in full swing by the end. At least that’s how it looked from the safety of our balcony seats. The band kept the energy and positivity up till the very end of the night. The crowd too were pumped up until the end, until the moment came to say goodbye and we were all ushered out into the cold London night.

Given the chance I would probably see them again.

Live

Chrysta Bell At Oslo Hackney

On Friday 11th April my Girlfriend and I drove down to London for the weekend. It was a great weekend, with the nucleus of this trip was to see Chrysta Bell on her tour.

Who is Chrysta Bell?

Chrysta Bell is an artist in the truest sense of the word. Her voice is one of those that can both charm and haunt you. She commands the performance with such force that it is difficult to explain in mere words. You really need to experience it first hand.

She was touring on the back of an album produced and co-written by David Lynch. David Lynch is definitely present in both the album and on the night itself, but this isn’t just a case of “David Lynch produced it, therefore it’s awesome”. The album is awesome, believe me, but it is due to the equal talents of both David and Chrysta combined. Each on their own are unique and hugely talented, but together they produce something even more special.

I first heard Chrysta Bell in a song from David Lynch’s film Inland Empire. The song Polish Poem was used in the film to such a haunting effect. As soon as I found out about the Album they did together This Train, which Polish Poemfeatures on, I was immediately hooked on the music they were making together.

The Gig Itself

The gig itself was out of this world. Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks would be hard-pressed not to imagine themselves stood in the Road House, watching Chrysta in front of that red curtain. At least that’s how it was for me.

Her vocals were both soothing and haunting, with the melodies weaving throughout the crowd. Her band were great also. Chrysta, of course, was centre stage, but the band weren’t just a faceless few who played the music. The four of them as a whole played the songs with a firm understanding of each other’s rhythms and timing.

The performances that stood out for me were Swing with Me and a new song they played, the name of which I can’t remember. The only song that wasn’t performed that I would have loved to have heard live was Polish Poem. I can only imagine what that would have felt like. The venue did have a 10pm curfew, so maybe Polish Poem would have been performed without the time restriction.

After The Show

When the show was finished I was both happy and sad. Sad because a great show had come to an end, but happy because my Girlfriend and I got to meet Chrysta face to face. I had previously spoken to Chrysta over twitter and I arranged to buy her earlier album, Bitter Pills and Delicacies, directly from her. after the show.

From my own conversations with Chrysta, it is obvious that she cares deeply for her fans. I wasn’t surprised to see her mingling with the fans both before and after the show.

Thanks Chrysta.