Sunday, 20 May 2018

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Blackburn King George's Hall - 19th May 2018


James continued their Better Than That tour with a sold-out Saturday night show at Blackburn's King George's Hall, a venue they hadn't visited for twenty-seven years. Dan Starr was at the show for us and reports back on a night of new songs and old favourites. Support came from Lanterns On The Lake.

Let's get this over with right away. This was a standout gig, maybe the best that this reviewer has seen James do in the last decade. It was that good. King George’s Hall in Blackburn was on fire with passionate love.

James are supported on this tour by Lanterns On The Lake. Sometimes support bands are given short shrift by an audience who are only there for the main act, particularly on rowdier Friday and Saturday nights. But because James has only selected small venues for this tour, most of the tickets were snapped up by hard-core fans who seem to appreciate the support acts that the band select; and with some fans doing multiple shows, it was clear that many already knew and appreciated Lanterns. They played a strong set that built upon itself to an intense crescendo that got the crowd warmed up for the main event.


The interlude was relatively short, and with the lights down low, James erupted from the dark with a primeval percussive explosion that was a signal of what was to come. As at the previous two shows, they started with Hank, with and Tim, Andy, Saul, Dave and new member Debbie Knox-Hewson all pounding the rhythm on drums. Hank is a great opener; not only because it builds, but the lyrics show a raw passion and zeal that takes the band to a new level. The new material, and different drum-heavy arrangements of fan-favourites, power the band and crowd through the first act of six songs. Even the normally light and frothy Gone Baby Gone has a new and better darker urgency to it. Make no mistake, this band are angry about the world and hungry to be listened to. As a side-note, the light show was also spectacular, and the daisy floodlights a nice touch.

New song Busted, from the current EP, marks the move to the second act that give the band and fans a chance to catch their breath. Busted already feels like an old friend with Andy's signature trumpet soaring and lifting Tim's melodies even higher. Hot on the heals are Coming Home (Pt.2) and Leviathan. This hat-trick of new songs are bedding down well and show that fans are for a treat when the new album is released in August. James always pull out the odd forgotten gem, and polish it. For this tour they’ve resurrected Scarecrow from 1986’s Stutter, which they last played live an unbelievable 27 years ago. It gets a great reception from the crowd, with the new underlying percussion arrangement giving it a modern shine.

Newbie song Many Faces was next, but with a different calypso-inspired arrangement from its premier at the Manchester Albert Hall last December. The new arrangement works well, creating a happy and relaxed mood to propel the crowd in to Moving On. Moving On was a superb rendition, with Tim reaching over the barrier to sing directly to audience members. You can tell he gets as much from these passing moments as the fans. I might have got something in my eye at this point; it was that good.


James then crank it up for the romp thought the final third act. Tim dives into the audience for How Was It For You and is surfed aloft almost right round the King George’s Hall. Born Of Frustration provides more audience interaction as Andy pops up around the balcony like a manic trumpeting troubadour. And Attention is even better with the stronger drum beats that are the new band trademark.

Things then screech to a halt in true James style. Tim announces that he’s had a note from ‘Simon’ in the audience who’d like to say something. Simon duly sticks his hand up and he and his wife are extracted on to the stage. Simon thanks Tim for helping him celebrate his 40th birthday, at which point there is some head-scratching and Tim announces that he’s got the wrong Simon. The wrong Simon is dispatched and right Simon is duly found, given the microphone, and proposes to his partner Ann, who thankfully accepts; and the band then launch into Nothing But Love. James fans love these all messed up moments.

For the final two of the main set, the crowd are up, moving and singing for the current single Better Than That and Come Home. The audience keep singing all the way through the encore, which is started by fan favourite Sometimes on seven guitars, and followed by Simon’s theme-tune of the night, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up). The only acoustic part of the night is Saul’s start to the final song Laid, which soon kicks off and leaves everyone cheering for more.

It seems as if this small-venue tour has electrified and reenergised the band. Tim hasn’t looked more relaxed in years, and it really shows in the performance and fan interaction. The perpetual undercurrent of drums that Debbie Knox-Hewson brings throughout, imbues energy that drives things forward, leaving both Tim and the audience exhausted but elated at the end. That was a belter of a gig. Bells are still ringing in my ears.

James played Hank, To My Surprise, Gone Baby Gone, Heads, Ring The Bells, Walk Like You, Busted, Coming Home Pt 2, Leviathan, Scarecrow, Many Faces, Moving On, How Was It For You?, Born Of Frustration, Attention, Nothing But Love, Better Than That, Come Home, Sometimes, Getting Away With It (All Messed Up) and Laid.

The Better Than That tour takes in the following venues : Halifax Victoria Theatre (20), Middlesbrough Town Hall (22), Oban Corran Halls (23) and Scunthorpe Baths Hall (25).

They then play festival shows at Common People Southampton (May 26), Common People Oxford (27), Lisbon Rock In Rio (June 29), Latitude Festival (July 13), Bilbao BBK (14), Kendal Calling (27), Linlithgow Party At The Palace (August 11), Scarborough Open Air Theatre (18) and Drumlanrig Electric Fields (30).

Listen to the songs from the new Better Than That EP below -

Better Than That / Busted / Broken By The Hurt / Hank

And read about the new album Living In Extraordinary Times here.

James' official website can be found here. They are on Facebook and Twitter.  Some of the band - TimAndy and Dave - are also on Twitter.

We also run the One Of The Three James archive, the most detailed resource for information about the band, and the site also has a Facebook and Twitter page.

Lanterns On The Lake's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
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The Slow Readers Club - Northwich Library - 19th May 2018


As part of The Charlatans' North By Northwich Festival, The Slow Readers Club headlined the town's library. In slightly surreal surroundings with bookcases moved out of the way to create a stage and a powerful sound system to accommodate a set that covered all three of their albums to date in front of a partisan hardcore of the band's fan base that had travelled from far and wide for this unique experience.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Average Sex - Manchester Jimmy's - 18th May 2018


As part of The Charlatans North By Northwich Festival, the Friday night show was broadcast live to a number of venues across the country, many of which had a live band as support. At Jimmy's in Manchester that band was Average Sex, one of the most exciting new bands around. They ignored the small numbers that had turned up early to deliver a set that was every bit as thrilling as if the room was full and bouncing.

Friday, 18 May 2018

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Warrington Parr Hall - 17th May 2018


James' Better Than That tour continued into its second night with a first return to Warrington's Parr Hall since the band filmed a live concert of their then-unreleased Seven album. In front of a packed crowd, they recreated the feel of that with songs from their forthcoming Living In Extraordinary Times album, as well as revisiting both some of their biggest hits and some rarities pulled out of the deep rabbit hole of their extensive back catalogue. Support came from Newcastle's Lanterns On The Lake.

Jess Kemp - Interview


Jess Kemp releases her latest single No Shouting / On The Ground today and celebrates with a co-headline show at Manchester's Deaf Institute tonight. We caught up with the proudly independent songwriter for a chat about the two new songs, her songwriting process and how she got into music in the first place.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

ILL - We Are ILL


ILL’s debut album has been a long time coming. The volatile boundary-challenging band have made their name in Manchester and beyond with their voracious mix of styles and approaches to their art and a series of often chaotic on the brink of breakdown live shows. We Are Ill somehow manages to distil this melting pot into an album that demands your full attention, often baffling, spliced with moments of off-the-wall genius that you’d blink and miss as the next curveball smacks in you right between the eyes.

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Llandudno Venue Cymru - 16th May 2018


James opened their Better Than That tour at Llandudno Venue Cymru with a set that mixed half of their newly-announced Living In Extraordinary Times with some old Best Of era favourites, highlights of their most recent two albums as well as the odd rarity. Support came from Newcastle’s wonderful Lanterns On The Lake, eventually making their bow with James after years of trying to make the support slot work.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

The Magic Numbers - Outsiders


The Magic Numbers return with their fifth album Outsiders, their first since 2014's Alias. Whilst their commercial star might have dimmed since they burst onto the scene over a decade ago, they come out fighting with the best record of their career to date.

James Announce Living In Extraordinary Times Album


James have announced the release of their fifteenth studio album Living In Extraordinary Times on August 3rd. Featuring Hank and Better Than That from their Better Than That EP plus ten additional tracks as well as four further songs on a deluxe version, the album is available in a number of formats to pre-order from the James webstore.

TRACK OF THE DAY : James - Hank


Hank is the final track to be revealed from James' upcoming Better Than That EP, to be released on May 18 to coincide with a run of seven intimate shows to preview their fifteenth album due in July and two festival appearances. It's a scathing attack on Donald Trump and US society under his presidency and also represents a sonic departure for the band.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Déjà Vega - Northwich The Salty Dog - 14th May 2018


Déjà Vega opened up the North By Northwich Festival with an no-holds barred seven-song set in the Salty Dog on the town's pedestrianised High Street. An intimate setting for the Winsford band, they took the opportunity to win over new converts curious at the band hand-picked by The Charlatans as their semi-official support for their own show over the road at Memorial Court.

The Charlatans - Northwich Memorial Court - 14th May 2018


Returning home for a week-long festival to celebrate their hometown of Northwich, now called North By Northwich in honour of the Austin festival, The Charlatans played the first of four sold out nights at the town’s Memorial Court with a career spanning set from their debut album Some Friendly right through to two tracks from their forthcoming EP Totally Eclipsing, from which two tracks are debuted tonight.

Monday, 14 May 2018

TRACK BY TRACK : The Slow Readers Club - Build A Tower


The Slow Readers Club entered the UK album charts at number 18 with their third album Build A Tower this week. As part of the campaign, they released a series of videos to accompany the release where they walked through the history and meaning of some of the songs.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Neon Waltz - Dundee Beat Generator - 10th May 2018


Scotland's hardest working band bring their brand of 60s influenced pop tinged psych to a packed Dundee crowd and Stuart Ralston joins them.

The Slow Readers Club / SKIES - Nottingham Rock City - 12th May 2018


The seemingly unstoppable The Slow Readers Club bandwagon rolled into Nottingham and the iconic Rock City venue for the biggest show of their Build A Tower tour and the band took on the cavernous hall and made it feel intimate. Support came from SKIES.

Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Slow Readers Club / SKIES - Hull Welly - 11th May 2018


With the announcement that Build A Tower had entered the album charts at number eighteen, a phenomenal success for not just The Slow Readers Club, but their growing army of loyal followers and every band that is playing the local circuit of their hometown starved of the attention of radio and media that has belief in what they're doing. A party atmosphere ensued in a hot, sweaty and packed to the rafters Welly Club in Hull.  Support came from SKIES.

Friday, 11 May 2018

The Slow Readers Club / Wild Front - Newcastle Riverside - 10th May 2018


The Slow Readers Club bandwagon rolled into Newcastle on Thursday night on their Build A Tower tour. A triumphant show saw them win over an initially cautious audience by the sheer power of their performance and discover their festival-slaying, radio-conquering moment in the process. Support came from Southampton's Wild Front.

EXCLUSIVE : TRACK OF THE DAY : Jess Kemp - On The Ground


We're delighted to exclusively reveal On The Ground, the first of two new singles from Jess Kemp ahead of her co-headline show at the Deaf Institute in Manchester next Friday (May 18).

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

David Ford - Animal Spirits


David Ford returns with his fifth studio album Animal Spirits, a collection of songs written about the concepts of macroeconomics applied to day to day situations. We asked long term fan Andy Sweeney to have a listen to the album and compose his thoughts.

The Slow Readers Club - Manchester HMV - 8th May 2018


The Slow Readers Club continued their campaign in support of their Build A Tower album, announced earlier as being number twelve in the midweek charts, with a hastily-arranged full band acoustic performance in the HMV store in Manchester Arndale. In front of a crowd of all ages, they played five songs - a mix of three from Build A Tower and two from their previous album Cavalcade.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Blossoms - Leeds O2 Academy - 7th May 2018


Blossoms are back on the road celebrating the chart success of their second album Cool Like Out. A sold-out Bank Holiday Monday crowd braved the sauna-like conditions within the O2 Academy to witness a mix of tracks from the new album and their number one self-titled debut in an atmosphere that never dipped below fever pitch for the hour and a quarter they were on stage.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Liverpool Sound City (Berries / Average Sex / Hey Charlie / Peaness / Dirty Laces / White Room / Dish Pit / Violet Youth / The Seamonsters) - Various Venues - 6th May 2018


Day two of Liverpool Sound City saw us avoid the big venues and headline acts and concentrate on some of the smaller stages and bands that have been on our must-see list for a while or those we'd missed when they were last in Manchester. Across another scorching hot day in Liverpool, we caught The Seamonsters, Violet Youth, Dishpit, White Room, Dirty Laces, Peaness, Hey Charlie, Average Sex and Berries.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Liverpool Sound City (The Slow Readers Club / Rews / Déjà Vega / Luvia / Calva Louise / Catholic Action) - Various Venues - 5th May 2018


A scorching hot summer's day isn't the ideal time to spend in indoor venues watching bands, yet that was the choice of thousands who flocked to Liverpool's Baltic Quarter for the first day of this year's Sound City Festival. Back in its spiritual home, the festival put on over a dozen stages championing the best in new music. We caught Catholic Action, Calva Louise, Luvia, Déjà Vega, Rews and The Slow Readers Club.

Saturday, 5 May 2018

The Slow Readers Club / Bang Bang Romeo - Manchester Cathedral - 4th May 2018


On the day of release of their third album Build A Tower The Slow Readers Club played the iconic Manchester Cathedral, a show that sold out under an hour on presale alone. With a nineteen song set featuring all but one of the ten tracks off the album and a selection of old favourites, Manchester celebrated their newest favourite sons in style. Support came from Doncaster’s favourites Bang Bang Romeo.

Friday, 4 May 2018

LIINES - Stop - Start (Track By Track Commentary)


Stop - Start is LIINES' long-awaited debut album released today. To celebrate we asked guitarist and vocalist Zoe to walk us through the album track-by-track.

The Slow Readers Club - Manchester 20 Stories (XS Session) - 3rd May 2018


As Manchester's intent to build a skyscraper a hundred stories high hasn't yet come to fruition, 20 Stories, one of the newest and most talked about new bars and restaurants, seemed like a fitting place for local radio champions XS Manchester to invite The Slow Readers Club to play an intimate acoustic set with views overlooking the city to celebrate the impending release of their album Build A Tower.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Fuzzy Sun - Interview


Newly-signed to Blossoms' Very Clever Records and with their debut EP Want Love fresh out in the world, there's a huge buzz about Fuzzy Sun at the moment. Although they can count the number of gigs they've played on one hand so far, they're about to go out on tour with their label bosses and pop up a whole load of festivals this summer.  We caught up with them for a chat about who they are, how they formed and what to expect next from them.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Belly - Dove


Dove is the reformed Belly's first album since 1995's King. Self-released via a Pledge campaign that was set up following a successful reunion tour in mid 2016, the album draws from their two 1990s albums Star and King enough to make it very obviously a Belly album, but they've also given it a modern shine and with no pressure for commercial success and the band clearly having more fun than they ever did in the past as a result, it's the perfect comeback, greater than the sum of its parts and the expectations placed on it.

The Slow Readers Club - Build A Tower (alternate review)


The Slow Readers Club are a band on the rise. From the doom and gloom of their debut, arriving at a crossroads of disillusion and hope on their second album, to their third, and finest, most positive album yet.

TRACK OF THE DAY : James - Broken By The Hurt


Broken By The Hurt is the third track to be revealed from James' forthcoming Better Than That EP. According to tweets from Tim, this song is going to be exclusive to the EP and will not be included on their fifteenth studio album, currently unannounced but slated for a July release.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

LIINES - Stop - Start


Stop - Start is a moment we've been waiting for since we first saw LIINES play to about ten people at a fanzine launch back in December 2014. Within seconds we knew they were a very special band, one that we had to champion. Fast forward three and a half years and we're proudly placing the needle down on a gorgeous slab of white vinyl and listening to ten songs that, like the album's title suggests, represent a battle to get this record out into the world. There might be scars, but the minute the bass and drums kick in and Zoe's trademark almost out of breath vocals start to give absolutely everything to the song, it all makes perfect sense.

James - Better Than That EP


James return with a new four-track EP, released on 10" and download with a CD version exclusive to their official store. Featuring two songs - Better Than That and Hank - from their forthcoming fifteenth studio album - and two others - Busted and Broken By The Hurt - that didn't make the cut for that record, the EP shows the band continuing to evolve, refusing to rest on their laurels or recreate what they've done before.

The Slow Readers Club - Live At Festival No.6


To accompany their third album Build A Tower, The Slow Readers Club are also releasing their performance with the Festival No.6 classical ensemble at last year's festival consisting of six songs chosen from their first two albums and arranged by Joe Duddell. With some rarely played tracks making an appearance and some old favourites given a radical makeover, it's a stunning companion piece to the album itself.

Monday, 30 April 2018

You Want Fox - Reverse The Curse


Reverse The Curse is the second album from Nottingham's You Want Fox. Filled with tales of love, deception and the subsequent emotions, it's a triumph of the band's independent spirit and their ability to fashion songs from bass and drums that both pack a punch and tender the wounds.

Sunday, 29 April 2018

The Slow Readers Club - Leeds Brudenell Social Club - 28th April 2018


Ahead of the release of Build A Tower on Friday, The Slow Readers Club kicked off a UK tour this week, including a sold-out date in the main room of Leeds' famous Brudenell Social Club. Jason Wynne braved the trains across the Pennines to report back on a set that included nine of the album's ten songs, heard by many for the first time.

Ist Ist / Tindrumm - Manchester Deaf Institute - 28th April 2018


Another set of sold out signs greeted Ist Ist’s hometown EP launch at the Deaf Institute. The theatrical music hall setting could have been made for nights like this as the couple of hundred fans, here on the growing word of mouth around a band that eschews colourful videos, “bantz” and the lad culture of so many and relies solely on the power of their music.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

High Hazels - Manchester Jimmy's - 27th April 2018


With a new single Days Of No One released a couple of months back, High Hazels made their long-awaited return to Manchester after nearly three years since their last headline show here with a packed out basement show at Jimmy's.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Blossoms - Manchester HMV - 27th April 2018


Blossoms celebrated the release of their second album Cool Like You with an intimate stripped-down performance of seven songs from the album plus a requested crowd favourite on the top floor of Manchester's HMV store on Friday evening.

TRACK OF THE DAY : LIINES - Cold


Cold is the latest single to be released from LIINES's debut album Stop / Start which is released next Friday, May 4. It's accompanied by an unsettling video, shot late at night in Manchester's Northern Quarter, featuring multiple Zoe's walking around oblivious to each other.

Trampolene - Manchester Night And Day - 26th April 2018


One of the nation's most unpredictable and underappreciated bands Trampolene returned to the Night And Day for the Manchester leg of their tour. A hot and sweaty crowd were treated to a mix of tracks from their debut album Swansea To Hornsey, a couple of covers and some impromptu old favourites.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

TRACK OF THE DAY : Celestial North - Illuminate Yourself


Just a month after her first two songs (Winter Circle and Hey Volva), Celestial North has released a third, and the best yet, in Illuminate Yourself.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Kashmere - Interview


When I saw that Stockport-based four-piece, Kashmere, were playing a gig in my hometown of Leeds, I didn’t hesitate in going along to see them. Having watched them perform an electric, sell-out show at The Deaf Institute in Manchester just two months prior, I was keen to ask them all about the evident progress they had made in just one year, since I had first come across them playing at popular gig venue Jimmy’s, in The Northern Quarter of the same town.

Peter Hook And The Light - Hebden Bridge Trades Club - 24th April 2018


Ahead of their US tour playing the combined Substance albums of both Joy Division and New Order, the latest in the series of retrospective look back concerts from Peter Hook And The Light, led by the unmistakable one of founding fathers of both bands. Two hundred or so packed into the music room of the Trades Club at Hebden Bridge to celebrate some of the most iconic sounds of a generation.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

TRACK OF THE DAY : Gypsyfingers - Half World


Half World is the new single from Gypsyfingers. It's a song that encapsulates a number of styles as it takes the listener on a four and a quarter minute journey through the band's restless creative minds touching on aspects of folk, rock and pop music and it's all set to a video that adds to the mystique of the song as if you're watching a short film rather than a music promo.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Lily-Jo - Unstoppable EP


Unstoppable is the new EP from Lily-Jo, the follow-up to last year's Good Enough. The EP has been written in the time she's not touring the world with LZ7 and building her mental health self-help resource The Lily-Jo Project, but many of the themes from the latter shine through brightly in this collection of five songs that are about making yourself feel unstoppable and knocking down the barriers, both internally and externally, that stop you achieving your goals and being happy.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

The Big Peach - Interview


Back in September 2017, I was sitting in newly opened vinyl café, Honey Beat, in Altrincham, chatting to my friend Allan about music. He was excitedly recounting anecdotes of his new discovery: Cheshire based five-piece, The Big Peach. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, but fast forward to April 2018 and I saw Allan, once again, enthusiastically posting about this band on social media in the run-up to one of our favourite annual festivals: When in Manchester.

Blossoms - Cool Like You


Blossoms return with their second album Cool Like You, less than two years since their self-titled debut spent two weeks at number one in the charts. Recorded over the course of just twenty-two days on breaks from their endless touring schedule, it's drenched in the glorious pop gloss for large parts of the record but yet is more thematically consistent than its predecessor and sounds like a band that's prepared to make another step up.