Kate Nash’s debut album, Made of Bricks, was definitely one of the big albums of my formative years, having been released when I was the tender yet crucial age of 15.
Almost three years later, her second album, My Best Friend is You, was released just a few months after I passed my driving test and I remember driving round listening to Paris and Do-Wah-Doo in the sun.
But of course it’s Foundations, and the more twee Mouthwash and Birds, that captivated me first. We Get On was great teenage crush fodder, and every single song on that album had something to connect to.
So when Kate announced a 10th anniversary tour for Made of Bricks this summer, playing the whole album, I just had to go – even though I’d seen her during a more shouty phase in York in 2013 and hadn’t been quite so enamoured. (I still thought she was awesome and girl power-y though).
Yes, it was about two weeks ago already, but I thought it would be nice to share this.
Take That always put on an incredible live show for a pop group and I saw that for myself during their recent run at the O2 Arena in London. So much thought had clearly gone into their Wonderland tour, way more than at most gigs I’ve ever been to.
And yet it was something really simple that meant the most to me.
Ahead of his upcoming stint in Murder Ballad at London’s Arts Theatre, musical theatre star Ramin Karimloo performed one night only at the London Palladium as part of his unique ‘broadgrass’ experiment.
Mixing some of the musical theatre songs he became well known for with other styles, most notably bluegrass, Ramin and his band created something truly special and live on stage is certainly the best way to experience it.
Although the Palladium wasn’t sold out, the audience that was there roared with appreciation. As Ramin sung the opening words to ‘Til I Hear You Sing, written especially for him in Love Never Dies by Andrew Lloyd Webber, there was a collective gasp followed by an expectant hush.
Will Young and Billy Ocean were the entertainment for one beautiful July evening in the even more beautiful surroundings of Kew Gardens.
First up was a pop group from San Francisco, Con Brio. I sadly missed them as I came after work and then had to grab a burger (from an amazing veggie burger stand, very impressed!) However my dad announced they were ‘very good’.
Billy Ocean came next, and with him a great deal of flamboyant middle-aged dancing.
The Sons of Pitches are a six-strong male a cappella group who won TV choirmaster Gareth Malone’s The Naked Choir competition in 2015. Now they’ve just toured the UK and as good as they came across on the show, it was nothing to how fun, charming and just impeccable they are live on stage.
This was immediately obvious as the first song was an unusual but brilliant introduction to the group, going through each member and then asking if everyone from the audience to the lighting and sound guys were ready to go. They then launched into Move, a Little Mix cover which was my highlight from The Naked Choir and which retained its original hilarious (hip popping) choreography.
The gig continued in the same vein – some unique stuff to them plus some covers they’ve made their own. Standouts include Blondie’s Heart of Glass in a gypsy jazz style, the groovy Sorry by Justin Bieber and their haunting version of Kate Bush’s Wuthering Heights.
I was so happy to be at their first gig back at Wembley Arena on May 11th, after 11 years away. And it was so much better than I even expected.
First, though, Wheatus were the second support act (I missed Emma Blackery, sorry Emma) and they got the most love I’ve ever seen for a warm-up band. Frontman Brendan B. Brown thanked fans for keeping the Teenage Dirtbag love going all these years, but people showed appreciation for all the other songs too. They were cheeky, fun and still rocking.
On Tuesday January 19, ex-West End and Broadway Jean Valjean, Ramin Karimloo, brought his unique ‘broadgrass’ genre back to the UK with the help of some friends most notably his ex-antagonist (Javert), Hadley Fraser.
After several years away from the UK it was an absolute pleasure to hear Ramin’s voice again, so huge yet pure as it is. And of course he was supported by a fantastic group of musicians: as well as Hadley, there was musical director and pianist Tom Deering, Sergio Ortega on banjo etc, Nick Pini on double bass, Tania Elizabeth on fiddle and Joe Kwon on cello.
Interestingly, the last two normally play with The Avett Brothers to whom Ramin, helped by Joe, played an intimate tribute in the form of Murder In The City.
You don’t have to be a superfan to mourn the loss of David Bowie. The huge span of his career, both in time and genre, means everyone likely has a list of Bowie songs that means something special to them, or brings up certain emotions.
He was many things to many people: pop artist, glam rocker visionary, actor, Ziggy, David, innovator. That list could probably triple in length if different people were asked to define him.
For example, he undoubtedly and inarguably had some of the greatest pop songs of all time, spanning several decades.
This wonderful cello duo – succinctly named 2Cellos – returned to London in December for a rare UK appearance, and what a joy it was to get another chance to hear them.
The evening started tenderly, with classical pieces such as Gabriel’s Oboe (The Mission) before the rock covers began. A backing track was used in some of the early songs which was less effective than a live ensemble would have been but the musicians, Luka Šulić and Stjepan Hauser, were totally expressive nonetheless, so evidently putting their heart and soul into the music.
But the highlights came when it was just the two of them – or them plus an adrenaline-fulled drummer.