Foy Vance // Union Chapel // Live Review

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

Foy Vance; Union Chapel; Spiral Magazine; Will SteadmanFoy Vance turned the Union Chapel into his living room last Friday night, entertaining a 900-strong crowd with his commanding, modern blend of Americana, folk, roots, and blues. Leaving his band at home in Bangor, Northern Ireland; a piano, acoustic guitar, and a ukulele is all that was needed to bring a warm glow to this corner of North London on a brisk Autumn evening.

Opening powerfully at the piano with Unlike Any Other, the audience falls pin-drop silent. Eager grins radiate through the pews like a mini Mexican wave of awe. Vance establishes an immediately casual, intimate atmosphere, drawing the crowd in with his dry wit, self-deprecation and off-the-cuff approach to the set, almost like we’re all sat round a big camp fire. Making use of loop pedals and plenty of chorus effect, he switches between instruments and segues between songs with ease.

Foy Vance; (4) Union Chapel; Spiral Magazine; Will Steadman.jpg

Introduced to his music five years ago by a friend who insisted I listen to a then, little-known B-side called: Indiscriminate Act of Kindness, which he said, is such a perfect example of a well-crafted song, that he teaches it as part of the songwriting degree he runs at a renowned London music college – I’ve seen Vance go from a relative unknown jobbing songwriter to a respected veteran with a top 30 album and a recent tour with Elton John under his belt. Despite all this, he has retained an air of exclusivity about him, and is backed tirelessly by a loyal fan base.

As the night progresses he showcases songs from 2016’s: ‘The Wild Swan’ including Coco and Upbeat Feel Good; favourites Guiding Light and Closed Hand Full of Friends; several shrewd covers including a divine version of Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ on grand piano and a sprinkling of newer material including Moonshine.

Vance is an artist bold enough and free enough to create precisely the music he wants. Authentic, genuine and committed to his craft, while many contemporaries at his career-stage creatively stagnate or decline, he has matured as a writer and performer. Live he excels. Natural, relaxed and oozing with confidence; playing unaccompanied tonight elevates Vance and provides him the space to showcase his (quite frankly) outstanding voice, which resonates around the Chapel’s gothic interior, filling every dark nook and cranny. Its intricate and rich timbre warms you like a well-aged bourbon.

Performing for well over two hours in total with no encore, capping it off with a moving a capella rendition of The Wild Swans on The Lake, inspired by W.B. Yeats’ poem The Wild Swans at Coole, with the audience dutifully humming the drone.

Foy Vance; (3) Union Chapel; Spiral Magazine; Will Steadman

Vance sold-out the Union Chapel across the three nights, Thursday to Saturday (2nd-4th Nov). His outstanding album, The Wild Swan, is out now.

Follow Foy Vance on Twitter // Facebook

Words and Photography: WILL STEADMAN (@STEADMAN_WILL)

 

Advertisements

Bellevue Days // Live Review // 229// London

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

(Photographer: Will Steadman)

229, situated deep beneath the bustle of Great Portland Street, is an odd venue – not small enough to be considered intimate, and yet not big enough to draw well established acts – resting uncomfortably in a strange middle ground. It’s part dingy student union (complete with leather sofas, sticky tables and a roller-shutter bar), part modern music venue, and is difficult to fill, especially as most of the acts passing through its doors are up and coming or even just starting out.

Bellevue Days, a four piece from Croydon fit very much into the former. Having released one of the most exciting debut EPs of 2015 (’The Sun Came Up When We Were Young’), Bellevue Days can count Zane Lowe (who featured their single ‘Ripped Jeans’ as his #WORLDRECORD on Beats 1 Radio) as a fan, and earlier this year embarked on a ten-date UK tour in association with DIY Magazine supporting Tigercub.

Combining the raw emotional energy of Moose Blood, the catchy punk-rock crunch of Billy Talent, and the rap-pop edge of Jamie T, Bellevue Days have both substance and style. Tonight they are on top form and frontman Alan Smith clearly doesn’t give a toss that the venue isn’t even half full, tearing into aforementioned single ‘Ripped Jeans’ with absolute aplomb. They bring light and dark in equal measure and are unafraid to completely lose themselves in the music: “Oh my God, I drink to forget, I love leaving cigarette stains on my twin sized bed,” sings Smith in hushed tones, before slamming right back into the chorus like a hurricane hitting a house.

I can say with confidence that Bellevue Days are one of my top London bands right now. Their recent EP: ‘Sad Boy’ continues to play on loud repeat in our house, much to the annoyance of my neighbours. Before we know it, they’ll be selling out intimately sized venues within months and, who knows, even whole arenas within years.

Bellevue Days play tonight (05/10/16) at Queen of Hoxton as part of Jagermeister Curtain Call. It’s their only date in the diary for the rest of year. Go. Or you’ll regret it!

‘Sad Boy’ can be found on Bellevue Days: Spotify and Soundcloud

Writer: Will Steadman@steadman_will

Bellevue Days: 

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/bellevue-days/sets/sad-boy-ep-1                        Facebook: https://en-gb.facebook.com/BellevueDays/                                                            Twitter: https://twitter.com/bellevuedays

Band of the Week // Introducing // Hanging Valleys

Uncategorized

hanging-valleys-artwork

Hanging Valleys, a recent project founded by English-Mexican Singer-Songwriter, Thom Byles, are immediately heart-warming. Previous solo artist, Byles, has distinct falsetto vocals that draw instant parallels with the hushed atmospheric quality of Bon Iver and James Vincent McMorrow.

Accompanied by Mike Philips on acoustic guitar and Alexis Meridol on percussion, the three-piece create low, lulling arrangements that give contour and light to darkness.

The peaceful cycle to their songs reciprocate natures rhythm and provide a fitting companion to the autumnal sweeping movement of present.

Tune in below for your perfect headphones companion this weekend:

 

By the time Monday arrives, you’ll be itching to join us at The Slaughtered Lamb, where Hanging Valleys will be supporting the dreamy Celtic harp, Dublin-based duo, Saint Sister: https://dice.fm/event/saint-sister-19th-sep-the-slaughtered-lamb-london-tickets

 

Hanging Valleys // Website // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

 

The Great Escape Artist to Watch // Bishop Briggs

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

(Photographer: Elizabeth Andrade)

Excited by the prospect of hearing new music, I volunteered. Volunteering at the Great Escape Festival was an amazing opportunity to see so many up and coming bands, most of which I had never heard of and wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

One such artist was Bishop Briggs. I found myself in the Arch having been nearby for another gig, navigated by the Great Escape app, I was pleasantly surprised.

An artist of incredibly infectious eclectic electro-pop; I found myself unintentionally moving to the music. Everyone around me was similarly hypnotised. Each of the tracks flowed effortlessly, from ‘Wild Horses’ to ‘Hollow’ to ‘Dead Man’s Arm’s’ finishing with ‘River’. The style, eclectic, occasionally accompanied by electric guitar but always punctuated by electronic, synthy elements, and strong soulful vocals.

Originally known as Bishop, but due to a conflict with another band they had to change their name to Bishop Briggs. Having grown up in Japan, Hong Kong and now living in LA, must have shaped this unique sound.

With only three singles released to date, I cannot wait to buy the album, hopefully it’ll be with us soon…This autumn Briggs opens for Coldplay; it won’t be long until this artist is huge!

Writer: Elizabeth Andrade: @LizzyyEA

We captured a glimmer of the set for you…

 

LINKS

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/thatgirlbishop
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thatgirlbishop
Twitter: https://twitter.com/thatgirlbishop

Daylight Music at Union Chapel // Glass, Mathew Bourne and Darren Morris

Uncategorized

Glass

(GLASS; previous; Alexander Selby, above: Flyte’s Club Night; Elizabeth Andrade)

Tomorrow, (18/06/16) GLASS headline Union Chapel’s Daylight Music event. The first time I saw this upcoming electronic-duo was at Flyte’s Chasing Heaven Club Night. To be quite honest, the ‘Gig Of The Week’ very quickly became: ‘Gig of the Month’, as nothing has since compared to that magical night. The effervescence of Frontwoman, Jessica Winter can only be paralleled to the legend that is Kate Bush, singing and synth playing with such dark theatricality alongside partner, Scott Remington, who in turn, mirrors Jessica’s melodramatic chemistry through guitar and synthesiser. An idiosyncratic sound they describe as “CRANCE; cry and dance” transcends from the record-to-live impeccably.

The chapel setting will inevitably pave way for an echoey, ethereal performance, only to be accentuated by the use of a church organ, I think you too can only imagine how enchanting tomorrow will be…I hope you can join us!

GLASS

 

The accompanying support artists; Mathew Bourne and Darren Morris are two artists that I anticipate will be provide a beguiling filmic soundscape, bare of vocals, eerie, bordering on the melodramatic, painting a dark atmosphere suitably matched to that of their headliner counterparts; Glass.

 

Mathew Bourne

Mathew Bourne’s multi-instrumental jazz compositions are created through analogue synthesisers, tape delays, piano and cello’s ranging from the unpredictable piano melodies to the delicate orchestral scores across to the electronic experimentalism.

 

Darren Morris

Darren Morris a composer and collaborator, currently playing keys for Steve Mason (Beta Band) ranges from the quiet sombreness of dreamy organ chords to the quasi-psychedelic electronic sonic wall.

 

LINKS

GLASS

Website: http://www.glassmusic.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/glassglassglassglass/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/glassmusic_
Mathew Bourne

Website: http://www.matthewbourne.com/about/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mortbutane/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/matthewbourne_
Darren Morris

Website: http://www.darrenmorrismusic.co.uk
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DarrenMorrisMusic

Plants and Animals Live Review // Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen // 31/05/16

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

 

Plants and Animals; Hoxton; Will Steadman.JPG

(Photographer: Will Steadman)

I’m at The Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen tonight, which is impressively full for a rainy Tuesday night after a bank holiday, to see Plants and Animals. Beer in hand, and younger sibling by my side, I take up a spot near the front.

Plants and Animals are a Montreal-based trio who emerged on the international scene around 2008 and have developed somewhat of cult following ever since. I must say I wasn’t overly familiar with them until tonight, however my ears pricked up as soon as they played their first note.

Lead singer and guitarist, Warren Spicer, plays his acoustic guitar through distorted effects producing an almost lurid, hollow sound, leading to an ensemble of four thirty-somethings. The open, rich sound they achieve with their rather modest set-up is mightily impressive (one of the support bands had SEVEN people on stage and still managed to fall rather flat). Swelling, spacious arrangements build to colossal crescendos that are almost orchestral; it’s vigorous and intense, but with occasions of real sensitivity.

I must say it’s genre-bending stuff but they still manage to deliver a cohesive set. Their diehard fans (of whom there’s a few in attendance) seem happy. I think they’re one of the most original bands I’ve seen recently, but if you want a comparison they probably fit somewhere in the Arcade Fire / Wolf Parade realm.

This date is part of a short European tour to promote their new album, which also takes in Berlin, Copenhagen, Brussels and Paris. ‘Waltzed in from the Rumbling’ was released: 29/04/16 on Secret City Records.

Check out this live version of ‘Stay’, taken from their latest LP, recorded earlier this year at Mixart Studios, Canada.

 

Writer: Will Steadman: @steadman_will 

LINKS

Website: http://www.plantsandanimals.ca
Twitter: https://twitter.com/plantandanimal
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/plantsandanimals/

The Great Escape Artist To Watch // Kevin Garrett

Live Reviews, Uncategorized

(Photographer: Will Steadman)

With roughly 300 gigs across 30 venues throughout the city, The Great Escape presents myriad opportunities for discovering new music. So while it was difficult choosing what to see at this festival and industry convention deemed Britain’s SXSW, Kevin Garrett was one of the first additions to my festival planner and I was determined not to miss him.

So it was on Friday evening that I head east along the coast to St George’s, an imposing Anglican Church dating from the 1800s. This venue has recently seen Bat for Lashes and Benjamin Clementine perform, among others, and holds an impressive 3,000 people (although tonight it’s a little less full).

Kevin Garrett is 25 and comes from Brooklyn-by- way-of-Pittsburgh. His moving lyricism and top-class musicianship have been displayed in numerous projects recently and he’s shared the stage with the likes of James Vincent McMorrow, Emily King and Norah Jones. His debut EP ‘Mellow Drama’, which includes songs ‘Coloring’ and ‘Control’ received critical acclaim, although he is relatively unknown on these shores. When I first discovered him last year (on a random Spotify playlist) he immediately stood out.

Garrett, playing solo tonight, sits straight down at his keys in the eloquently lit altar and launches into his first song. This is Garrett’s “Brighton debut” as he reticently announces, two songs in, and after some obligatory jokes about the British weather, he precedes with a half hour set of his eclectic blend of pop, R&B and soul. While his solo set lacks some of the energy a backing band would bring, it actually suits the serene setting of the church and he keeps the entire audience engaged throughout. His heady and resonant vocals really carry in the space, while sorrow colours every word he sings. It’s a moving set.

There’s another Garrett doing particularly well on this side of the pond at the moment (Jack, the London-based singer, producer and multi-instrumentalist) but personally, I prefer this one, who just sold out St Pancras Old Church in London the Monday just gone. And that may just be a sign of things to come.

Writer: Will Steadman: @steadman_will

LINKS

Website: http://kevingarrettmusic.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KevinOGarrett
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevingarrettmusic/

Musician of the Week // Introducing // Jesse Mac Cormack

Uncategorized

Jesse Mac Cormack; Joannie Grenier

Since discovering Canadian Singer-Songwriter, Jesse Mac Cormack on this year’s Great Escape’s list of acts, (albeit too late sadly), ‘After the Glow’ has taken root in my mind, playing out as a filmic backdrop. There is something tragically romantic, both lyrically and acoustically that very quickly takes hold of you. This bluesy warmth of voice reaches out, like an actor baring his heart on the stage with a foreshadowing monologue: “Something’s going to kill us. No, nothing’s going to save us”.

With a percussive staccato beat mirroring the movement of a clock hand, the gentle melancholia becomes accentuated and pent upon time and death: “Coming from the inside, nothing we could fight or deny…growing slowly for a while. Slowly it will die”. This minimalist multi-instrumental and yet melodramatic undertone of Mac Cormack’s songwriting is prevalent across his material.

Something special can only come from his live performance, which I cannot wait to see tonight (24/05/16) at The Shacklewell Arms.

‘After the Glow’ was released 16/02/16 on Secret City Records.

LINKS

Website: http://www.jessemaccormack.com/#jessemaccormack
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JesseMacCormack
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessemaccormackm

 

Musician of the week // Introducing // Jack O’Rourke

Uncategorized

Jack O'Rourke

Image; Jack O’Rourke

My week has been made with the re-discovery of a musician I heard whilst in Dublin the other week; Cork Singer-Songwriter; Jack O’Rourke. This stunning deep voice spoke to me from the car’s stereo. Withheld in a daydream, standing there in front of this pianist, I scribbled down his name and song on a Dart ticket to hand, only to find yesterday.

O’Rourke’s lyrics moves you by it’s conviction and sincerity on ‘Silence’.  The line: “His real persona is in coma, love’s left on the shelf” took another turn on a re-listen. Emotive as it was in the car, but having since discovered it was the song for Amnesty International’s Yes Campaign for Ireland’s Marriage Referendum, it definitely threw a new light on his piano keys. A singer-songwriter that is aware singing from the heart is where he shines.

The songs are timeless, graceful pieces of poetry that draw symmetry with the lines of Rufus Wainwright and Sufjan Stephens. There is soul and theatricality that comes from the voice alone, and when complemented by the piano, he becomes altogether mesmerising. An artist that you will no doubt remember after today.

Check out Jack O’Rourke’s latest single: ‘Dreamcatcher’, released 28/04/16.

If you’re lucky enough to be in Dublin, this Friday (06/05/16) you can see him live at The Academy.

Jack O’Rourke: Twitter // Facebook // YouTube