LIVE. Natalie Imbruglia in London

Date: 11 May 2017
Venue: Union Chapel, London
Genre: Pop
Words and photography: Victoria Ling (Victoria@137imaging.co.uk)

Having released her album of male covers aptly titled ‘Male‘ in 2015, Natalie Imbruglia toured as a support to Simply Red but never quite got on the road herself.  Fast forward to May this year and she finally hit the road for her own headline tour around Europe, with an extra date added to London as tickets for the first date were like hot cakes and sold out Union Chapel almost too quickly.

I was very excited for this gig, as although Imbruglia’s career has been going strong since her first single, and absolute anthem ‘Torn’ in 1997, I have only seen her live as support, so I was pretty ecstatic when my friend and I got tickets. We arrived just before 6pm and the queue to the venue was already the full length of the street. There was a definite buzz in the London air. As soon as people took to their pews they were beaming as Union Chapel had you in awe.

As lights went down and the band took to their places the introduction had the audience on tenterhooks then there was a pause and Ms Imbruglia stepped onto the ‘stage’ with a ‘good evening’ to the crowd who were half and half ‘do we sit or do we stand’ in the church as ‘Wrong Direction’ started the night. As pews were quite tight we were in the mutual feeling to stay seated but that did not dampen the mood and when we were urged we clapped and sang along moving our bodies as much as we could. There really could not have been a more perfect venue to match the sounds of this Acoustic Tour, as people murmured around me, “I knew she could sing but she just sounds so much better,” as hits from all her albums were being delivered to us, such as ‘Stuck On The Moon’ and then breaking hearts into a million beautiful pieces was the cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s ‘I’ll Follow You Into The Dark.’ And this was just the first three songs. With every song there was a little story and with every story there was a whoop from the audience. I could feel the excitement of those around me when their favourites were played.

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A few surprises came and very welcome ones at that. Before the show many of us were discussing what we were hoping she would play and considering her favourite single non-single is ‘Smoke’ that of course made it in, much to the delight of those sitting right next to me. ‘Lukas,’ to me, was the biggest surprise of them all, as it comes from the not so critically acclaimed ‘Come To Life’ album. When you hear this live you do sometimes wonder how critics get to make a living, as it was delivered to perfection. And of course the 90s stomper ‘Torn’ was performed and gave us the biggest sing-along of the night. My personal all-time favourite Natalie Imbruglia song is ‘Beauty on the Fire.’  Unfortunately, the element of surprise was slightly dampened as people had told me it was on the list but when it finally came, the fire inside of me was ablaze and it was one of those moments where nothing else mattered but Ms Imbruglia singing that song live in the same room as myself.

Of course, definitely ready for anything on this night but the setting as beautiful as it was made us feel a bit restricted in terms of getting up on our feet, but in hindsight it also made it a beautiful affair as we sat and admired the true beauty of the setting and witnessing Ms Imbruglia strip back her songs for us.  Then after a lot of foot stomping and echoes for more, we really could not sit still any longer, as she returned to give us the beautiful ‘Butterflies’ to the slightly more upbeat ‘Intuition’, then ending the night on ‘Big Mistake’ – which was far from a big mistake.

I have enjoyed many concerts and a few I walk away saying that was one of the best but this night definitely was, as I have never sat through a gig smiling from ear to ear from the moment I walked into a venue to leaving.  Natalie Imbruglia is one of those artists that really does not get as much credit as she deserves and on the huge success of this tour, I really hope we get to hear and or course, see her live more.

 


Check out Natalie Imbruglia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

 

 

LIVE REVIEW. Otherkin at The Boileroom

Date: 23 May 2017
Venue: 
The Boileroom, Guildford
Genre: Grunge pop
Words: Steph Baker
Photography: Aaron Crawford

 

Tonight’s gig reminded me of why independent venues such as The Boileroom are so important to local communities and the music industry. Seeing live music, and having unique, memorable experiences at places like these, filled with welcoming and creative people is what it’s all about, right?

Bad Nerves

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The main support for Otherkin came on stage to a warm and building crowd. The first thing that made this East-London four-piece currently touring with Otherkin was the front-man’s pounding vocals. His voice travels up, down and all around, diversifying the band’s indie-rock tunes and bringing each one to life.

The crowd were engaged, and our night was kicked off with a frenzy of heavy riffs and catchy hooks, especially within the most recent single ‘Dreaming‘. This was one of the band’s final gigs with Otherkin, an yet you would never have known it with the amount of manic energy the guys brought to the room, the set was actually exhausting to keep up with, and that’s exactly how music like this is meant to be.

 

 

 

Otherkin

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Otherkin are a grunge-pop frenzy from Dublin who are… quite the experience. The four-man group came onstage looking rather un-disruptive but managed to turn a politely-bobbing-your-head-along kinda Tuesday night into a sweaty, bloody mess within their first track, ‘It’s Alright‘. The crowd were pulled to the front and brought up to the same level as the band while thrashing around to the infectious ‘Why Did You Treat Me So Bad‘. In today’s music scene, over-saturated with Libertines-wannabes and inauthentic boy bands, Otherkin proudly stand out by managing to genuinely connect with the audience and bring about an uproar with their ferocious hooks, passionate lyrics and attitude filled grunge riffs.

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As the country tries to digest and contemplate the truly horrific attack on a gig in Manchester, tonight’s gig is a bittersweet event. Otherkin stopped their set to express their thoughts and pay their respects, saying “Music should be a safe space for everyone” before everyone in the room took part in a minute of silence. After this emotional moment came to an end, the group summoned up all the energy they had in them with the next tune of the night, ‘Come On Hello’, something fun and positive to get everyone dancing again. Further along the night, the London boys invited everyone onto the stage, this was a moment of pure joy and madness for everyone at the Boileroom tonight, exactly what we needed. Hook-filled, manic pop tunes full of attitude and truthful tales. Otherkin are a truly class act, and a band that will inevitably continue to shake up venues across Europe this summer.

 


Listen to Otherkin’s latest Single ‘Bad Advicehere

The East-London boys are on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Baker Out

LIVE REVIEW. Jones at Hoxton Hall

Date: 3rd May 2017
Venue: Hoxton Hall
Genre: Soul-pop with electro
Words & Photography: Victoria Ling – victoria@137imaging.co.uk

Ever had an idea that looks perfect on paper and then when it happens you just think “this is actually crazy!” Well, I have had a few moments like this in my time. but on crazy scale this is near the top.

Tuesday 2nd May 23:50 hours, bus leaves Newcastle. It runs a little late and arrives into London 8:30am on the Wednesday.  This was fine by me as I had a whole day ahead of me. Fast forward to 7pm though and there I am at Hoxton Hall. From the outside it doesn’t seem like much, however I did not realize it had a floor and two tiers. Seeing as I had been on my feet for most of the day I went for Tier 1 above the stage. The only downfall was that the whole band was not in view, but to look down at the whole venue was a beautiful thing and we had the lady of the night, Jones center stage and that was all that mattered.

After waiting for nearly too long, the night began with Australian duo Geowulf and their dreamy pop sounds as people were still fluttering in deciding on if they had chosen the right place to enjoy the rest of the show.  The sounds of Geowulf, and their uplifting engagement with the crowd are sounds you can happily just put your feet up and enjoy.

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For Jones’ scheduled time the room was at capacity and you could feel the anticipation in the air. After a further 20 minutes of waiting not-so-patiently, it was a sigh of relief when the band of Jack Lawrenson (guitars) and Kieran Guy (drums) started playing and then when Jones herself stepped on the stage. A much-deserved rapturous applause welcomed her and the opening of ‘Rainbow‘ gets our hearts racing, with that big letter ‘J’ shining bright behind them all.

This night in May was dubbed as an ‘acoustic’ show but Jones tells us a few tracks in that during rehearsals herself and the boys got a bit carried away and that the rest of the night was going to be that little louder than previously advertised. We were treated to songs from her debut album ‘New Skin‘, released last October as well as a couple of new numbers from February’s ‘Acoustic‘ EP and recent collaborations. One of the biggest cheers of the night went to ‘Hoops‘ and a surprise mash-up of Zara Larsson’sLush Life‘ and Years and Years ‘Eyes Shut‘ took a lot of the audience by surprise and even had us pretty overwhelmed.

Seriously, is there anything Miss Jones cannot do?

13 copyLast year she put her own unique twist on Calvin Harris’s ‘How Deep Is Your Love‘ (and actually made me like the song!) As a songwriter, Jones is simple but poetic. As a performer, Jones mesmerizes you.  She’s one of those rare gems that could sing the phonebook and you would be in awe and her deliverance in the majestic Hoxton Hall adds that extra bit of magic. And just when the set could not get any better, we are graced with a choir for a few numbers. I am dumb founded like I am sure the rest of this sold-out is too as ‘Becoming, Walk My Way‘ and ‘Waterloo‘ are given to us.

Handful Of Gold‘ is Jones’ latest release in collaboration with Cazzette.  It’s a stomper of a track that takes you on another high. We are basically in a state of euphoria that when Jones leaves the stage and returns with just Jack for ‘Indulge‘ it was the perfect ending, that people were smiling as they were leaving and many waited around to make sure Miss Cherie Jones knew what a stellar job she did. I was on the verge of leaving the building as although people had trains to catch down the road, I had run for a coach back up to Newcastle and the next one was not due for another 8hours if I missed it. And as time had been on my side for the whole day, it would do so again that as I turned to leave, Jones came to see her fans and I got to thank her personally for a brilliant day in the Big Smoke and made it with 15minutes to spare and back to the day job not long after stepping off the coach.

 


Check out Jones’s ‘Acoustic’ here

Jones is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

LIVE REVIEW. MUNA at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen // double gig

Date: 28th & 30th March 2017.
Venue: Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, London.
Genre: Dark Pop/Electro-pop.
Words & Photography: Victoria Ling.
The last week of March was dubbed as MUNA week, as the American trio came to London on a highly anticipated whistle stop trip to play the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen in East London. After having sold out the first date in less than 5 minutes, a second date was added which also quickly sold out – not to anyone’s surprise. It was definitely a hot ticket and I was lucky enough to be at BOTH dates.

Admittedly I am a bit late to the MUNA party, only having discovered them three weeks before the release of their debut album ‘About U’.  As soon as I heard ‘I Know A Place’ I found myself playing the album non-stopped and was hooked, thinking to myself, ‘am I getting too hyped too quickly?’ and ‘what if it is an anti-climax and I’ve got two shows to go to!’ Thankfully, I was not disappointed.


Tuesday 28th of March was the first night. It was a calm London day. I had stepped off a coach after an 8-hour journey and I could not contain the excitement in my bones.  We approached the venue and Hoxton Square was plastered with A2 posters of the debut album. We passed the members of the band in the bar. It was a case of do we/don’t we talk to them. As we plucked up the courage they parted. No worries we will catch them after the show. The queue escalated quickly. My friend who was gigged at HSB&K many times (this was my second and soon to be third) said this rarely happens. Doors delayed opening but we ran in as soon as they did. It was that kind of gig.

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There has been a lot of talk about the support act of the opening night.  I think a lot of the audience got word of this as it was pretty much packed as Lo Moon took the stage.  We were crammed in tightly for their indie-electro sounds and unfortunately for me there were a few talk-active people near to allow me to not enjoy it properly when Lo Moon were definitely giving it their all. For those that took and were allowed to take note, I can see why their live shows have been hyped and there was definitely something endearing about keys/guitarist Crisanta Baker.

With not that much more room, people still squeezed in. Even the tall people were reluctant letting their smaller counterparts in front of them. If it wasn’t hot enough already, we were ready to become a sweatbox. With a slight movement of the side curtain in the darkened room you could hear and feel hearts pounding then a tinkle of the synths and Katie Gavin’s opening lines of I Know A Place, the whole place is electrified and the band is jumping with every person in the place singing out every word, even the new lyrics, “I throw my arms open wide in resistance. He’s not my leader even if he’s my president,” a testament to Trump’s presidency.

A little place swap between Gavin and Naomi McPherson as McPherson takes lead on Promise. The intensity of this is enormous especially when Josette Maskin’s solo kicks in. Even the backing band of Scott Heiner (drums) and Brian Robert Jones (bass) are just as involved that they really are not a backing band, with Gaskin, McPherson and Maskin every single soul on that stage oozed charisma.

dTurning the tempo back up End Of Desire has the crowd jumping again and with the mention of new songs (Loser and In My Way) we get excited. In fact there is not one moment that MUNA or the crowd slows down. Well, until they have to wipe the sweat from themselves. It was actually a nice little moment between Gaskin and Maskin and the banter between the whole band is very inclusive of every soul inside of the venue. Speaking of inclusivity, the band requested that the toilets were ‘gender inclusive,’ and inclusive they were.  If you are unaware of MUNA, they are a political group. It is in their lyrics and it is apparent in a lot of their visual work. Their shows are inclusive of everybody. You could see it every which way you turned. A beautiful feeling.

Maskin then tells us it’s ‘covers’ time. She is very excited by this.  The other band members question this but as Gaskin leads Paramore’s Bring Me To Life the crowd go crazy. Yes, Josette! Thank You! Then they ‘go all LA,’ as Gaskin tells the crowd that we have been amazing singing along to every single word but if there was a time to really make our voices heard that time was now, as Loudspeaker literally booms into an explosive performance that at the end make all those at the front, reach and grab the stage décor of roses.

Thursday 30th March was the second night of this whistle stop trip.  The crowd gathered early again and the queue seemed to have grown quicker than Tuesday and with the heat wave outside, it seems no one was taking chances inside as the aircon was full blast as we entered.  

eElectro dance rockers, Otzeki opened with a promising set but then technical hitches came and cousins Mike and Joel laughed it off between them and the show went on…with more technical hitches and dancing in the middle of the crowd, which was very entertaining.  In parts it seemed a bit long but in all it was a fine performance to most of the crowd.

It seemed to be a more relaxed crowd, in that people were not pushing against each other but as lights went down and the music started the jumping started within the first second.  Noticeably Gavin even dressed ready to sweat and gone was her oversized T-shirt and in place was a bikini top.  

All members took notice again of the sell out crowd and asked if they were any returners – only a few hands went up – everybody in the know wanted to be there and some wanted to be there again and it seemed like Gavin, McPherson and Maskin could not quite believe it.  The energy that was there on the first night was here but with just that bit more intensity and that little bit more loudly but both were just as energetic. There did seem to be less banter on stage though but by watching each member you could still feel the chemistry between them, even with McPherson hidden from me behind the synths this time. The new songs went down just as well as the first night and the crowd and the vocals to Bring Me To Life seemed to go up a notch.  All words for every song from the album were sung back with passion.  What was not noticeable though was that every member on that stage was sick.  Many knew this was the case for Gavin but even with this and all the smiles back and forth it seemed they were on top form, even when they all come to the front of the stage for the second verse of Loudspeaker. How anyone was left standing after that performance with all the energy given is beyond me and with two shows in such a sweaty environment – let’s just say, and I quote, “something massive happened here” and all those posters that were plastered over Hoxton Square were gone BOTH nights.

 


Make sure to check out MUNA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and listen to ‘About U’ here

 

LIVE REVIEW. Middle Kids at Sebright Arms, London

Date: 15 May 2017
Venue: The Sebright Arms, East London
Genre: Indie-pop
Words and photography: Steph Baker

Lately, it seems that only once in a blue moon do you come across a band that not only pleasantly surprises you, but also manages to genuinely captivate a pub basement full of unsuspecting 9-to-5ers on a Monday evening. Tonight the Sebright Arms was graced with Middle Kids, the Sydney-based trio composed of Harry, drummer and bringer of all energy; Tim, the perpetually mysterious dude strumming in the corner, and the truly uplifting presence of front-woman Hannah. You know when you saunter into a gig not really knowing what to expect with a mate after work and then after hearing one chorus you realise you’re in exactly the right place, witnessing something really quite exciting? Yeah, that was what happened tonight.

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Many indie groups of late seem attached to the idea that in order to be the coolest kids around, you’ve got to strip back all personality from your live set, and look as angsty and misunderstood as possible. Sure, it’s a fine act for the first ten minutes, but it was refreshing to see a new band not give a shit about that and instead concentrate on making genuine connections being made with the crowd throughout their set. The authenticity in what they are doing and what they’re trying to achieve is clear. Recent hits such as ‘Edge Of Town’ and ‘Never Start’ nonchalantly tell their wise stories and bleed out bittersweet memories while also creating an infectious and simply fun vibe around the room. One song is all you need to both get out deeply-hidden frustration into the open, and also ready your care-free self to get pleasantly drunk on a Summer’s day – I reckon that’s the idea anyway.

And then we have tracks such as ‘Old River’ and ‘Your Love’, touching on more emotive confessions and melancholy moments. Middle Kids manage to seamlessly transport you from delicate moments of contemplation into dizzy whirlwinds of power and pounding guitar riffs, without blinking an eye. It’s no wonder that music royalty, Sir Elton John has passed on his seal of approval to this group ahead of their debut album – which the crowd were understandably excited to hear about. We also got to witness Hannah perform a solo track, which showcased her powerhouse vocal range and ability to fill the room with only one instrument and a set of very raw lyrics.

The final few songs of tonight, which included the new track ‘Mistake’ brought the crowd a stirring mix of easy-going folk-pop and spontaneous melodic madness. With a taste of what’s to come with the debut album, this Aussie trio is surely one to watch and definitely one to seek out live, whether it’s around Europe, or Down Under.

 


Check out the debut EP here and give them some love on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Baker out.

 

 

 

 

 

EP REVIEW. Retrograde – Ariana & The Rose

Release Date: 24 March 2017
Genre: Synth-pop
Rating: ★★★★
Words by: Martina Di Gregorio

 

Ariana Di Lorenzo, or as she is most known as Ariana & The Rose, has finally released her first EP ‘Retrograde’, after teasing fans with the singles ‘Love You Lately’ and ‘Supercool’. Retrograde is coming out as the perfect embodiment of a young woman coming to terms with who she is. Originally from New York, Ariana is based in London and has been working to create a sound that truly represents herself; this album is full of powerful electro-pop anthems that would work to get anyone dancing while fully grasping the depth of both the highs and the lows of love through her vocals and powerful use of synths.

How Does That Make You Feel’ is the first single off this EP. Starting with a falsetto, Ariana’s voice engages the listener even before the percussions and synths jump in. The use of percussions intertwined with harmonies bring a whole new level of depth to the song. The song tells the relatable tale of a passionate love, and it is a good start to the EP, as Ariana’s voice and her ability to use her voice and as a diverse instrument instantly charms the listener.

Love You Lately’ released earlier this year has the power to make you emotional thinking about a lost love. The song played with the duo RKCB is an electro-R&B song that talks about a relationship ending. Ariana’s voice completely embodies the feelings of someone that is in a relationship but doesn’t love her partner anymore. This song shows a more serious side of Ariana, as well as her flexibility to go from a dance song to an R&B songs. The background beat gives a great rhythm to the song while Ariana and RKCB since “I don’t understand why you push away” and “I guess I don’t love you lately”.

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These Ruins’ has a slow beginning, with Ariana’s deeper voice accompanied by a low keyboard that is emphasized through different electronic instrumentation. The song describes a love that cannot be repaired, emphasized by a slow, melancholic, dark, creating a new universe where the melody gets more dramatic with every verse. Her voice has the capacity of perfectly encompasses the emotions of a tragic love, with her voice breaking at the end of the bridge. The roughness of the melody and the darker synths, as well her echoed voice that gets overpowered by the background vocals and drums gives a new dimension to the song, which ends with her tired voice and the keyboard again. This track takes you through all the emotions felt after the end of a love.

Supercool’ is the last song of the EP, and it goes on a different path by describing the partying in New York, with the use of electro beats. The song describes the reality behind the glamour of New York by describing a woman that is so beautiful and charming at a party, but looks like their lives could be falling apart any second.The falsetto voice, backing vocals and electro beats come back once again to show a whole new side of New York.

Ariana & The Rose’s EP embodies the journey of love and loss through the use of synths and a sound that is heavily inspired by Robyn and Goldfrapp, but still keeping a sense of originality. ‘Retrograde’ proves Ariana’s flexibility and ability to use her lyrics and melody to create a journey of emotions that can completely engross the listener and spark past memories and a world of feelings.

Ariana is renowned for her live shows, especially the immersive Light and Space, which was first done in London in 2016 based on 80s disco scene. She has created another world and this EP is the first step to gaining more visibility and showing a new side of the synth-pop world.

 


Listen to Retrograde now here
Give her a follow on Facebook and Twitter

 

LIVE REVIEW. Samuel Jack at the Slaughtered Lamb

Date: 10/02/17

Venue: Slaughtered Lamb, London

Genre: Soul

Words and Photography by: Victoria Ling
Samuel Jack returned to Slaughtered Lamb to celebrate the release of his single ‘Surrender’ on the back of his last visit here last October – come show time, there was a buzz in the air as this artist is slowly but surely making a name for himself with all of the radio airplay he has been getting.

Giorgia-May, a petite Neo-Soul Jazz artist with a big personality kicked off the night and got most of the crowd fixated on her set. In fact,  at one point, the eager listeners at the front had to silence the late-comers joining the night, as May is someone that, given the chance, will stop you in your tracks to take note, especially with her song ‘I Want You,’ that has a Corrine Bailey-Rae vibe to it. Besides this niche comparison, May definitely stands out on her own and in her short support slot impressed the audience leaving the room full of even more anticipation for tonight’s headliner.

cAs the room fills, and the first notes on the keyboard start, the audience are ready and as Samuel steps onto the stage, his band are already in full swing. ‘Making It Rain’ is a tremendous opener. As the title suggests, it is quite the stormy affair, and the audience were now pretty much huddled in for the rest of the night. A few new numbers make the set list, such as ‘Refugee’, which Samuel describes as a tale about current issues of the world. Hearing this live really does cut into the soul, you can really feel the message within these passionate vocals especially when he sings, “where are you now?”.

fIf you have been to a Samuel Jack gig before, you’ll know a certain cover song always seems to make the set list, and despite him wanted to steer away from them, the opening chords of Coolio’s ‘Gangster’s Paradise’ always sends the audience into hysteria. During this moment, the audience are singing word for word and at one point are even stealing the lead vocal spotlight. This passion and crowd engagement is what makes every Samuel Jack performance so memorable. If it is not for a sing-along, they engage with your mind, body and soul. This is also reflected in the moment when he finally performs what we’ve all been waiting for, ‘Surrender’. And, boy, is the crowd ready to SING. When the chorus kicks in, it’s like the choir has come to town as the audience are immediately on their feet and clapping into euphoria. When ending a set on such a high, there has to be an encore and of course, Samuel cannot resist as he sings two numbers including last year’s EP title track, ‘Let It All Out’ which only escalated the audience’s choir-esque flow, leaving us all with a sense of satisfaction for the night.

 


Give Samuel Jack some love on FacebookInstagram and Twitter

Check out his music here.

 

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

LIVE REVIEW. Norma Jean Martine at The Servant Jazz Quarters

Date: 8 February 2017

Venue: The Sevant Jazz Quarters

Genre: Country

Words and photographyVictoria Ling

 


After Norma Jean Martine’s show at Servant Jazz Quarters in January SOLD OUT within hours of going on sale, a second date was added for the following month which unsurprisingly also sold out due to the venue’s intimate close quarters perfect for a peaceful evening such as tonight.


Liverpudlian country singer Laura Oakes opens  the show immediately and her distinct echoes around the room draw in the early comers to the front. She was accompanied by a fellow guitarist and the onstage chemistry between the two echoed to her interaction with the crowd. How can you not be taken in with a Laura Oakes performance? Originals like ‘Better in Blue Jeans’ and ‘Snakes & Ladders’ had the audience captivated, as did the wonderful rendition of Elton John’s classic ‘Rocket Man’ as she induced her unique country twist onto it.

There was a very relaxed atmosphere as Martine took to the stage. Many people gathered like they were having a reunion -this is the beauty of music. This is the beauty of Norma Jean Martine – bringing many people together for just a few hours while witnessing her brilliancy as she opened her set with the stomping ‘Animals’. When she performed the track ‘Angels On My Shoulders’ there were whoops from the audience as this was a live exclusive, although a few similar faces from her January date nodded knowingly as they knew this was happening for the second time. Such a heart-warming song and definitely one of hope considering the direction the world is taking! These first two numbers have Martine centre stage with the mic grasped tightly in her hand and her band lending their support with Gary on cajon, Rick on guitar and Eddie on keyboards, but for ‘I Want You To Want Me’ and ‘Hang My Hat’ the lady of the night showcases her own keyboard talents Norma2.jpg and steps into Eddie’s place bringing the audience to a standstill. She then turned to the guitar for ‘Only In My Mind’, the title track to her debut album.  Martine seems very relaxed on this night and makes the audience laugh with her heartwarming stories, including that this song is about her crazy thoughts that are only in her mind. As she introduces ‘Welcome Stranger’ she jokes for those of us not on dates maybe we actually are but we do not know it yet. Could Norma Jean Martine be anymore endearing? The answer is more than likely yes as she takes back to the keyboards running through the rest of the set before the penultimate ‘No Gold’. An encore is penned in but she jokingly points out that Servant Jazz Quarters is so small that there is no point is stepping off stage for it. No Gold was, as with the whole night, performed to perfection, with the audience singing as well as moving along too, with every centimetre they could find to move around.

I’m Still Here’ was the final track and as soon as she got up from behind the keyboard the audience jokingly chanted for more. Gary and Rick get up to exit the stage and Eddie rejoins on keyboards and after a few introductions and giggles, the crowd finally settle back down as she sings this ‘special’ song about her Dad after a song-writing session with Burt Bacharach. The room is silenced during ‘I’m Still Here’ as the audience hang on her every note ,bringing a close to a most intimate but relaxed gig.

 


Check out Norma Jean Martine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also let Norma serenade you here, you won’t regret it

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik

ALBUM REVIEW. The xx – I See You

Release date: 13 January 2017

Genre: Indie-alternative

Rating: ★★★

Words by: Martina Di Gregorio

The xx have been making headlines the last couple of months by releasing singles from this album, announcing world tours and breaking records for the most dates at a London venue showing how the influence of The xx has not diminished since their last album and the silence that followed.

I See You really hits the right spot with indie guitar pop, R&B, stripped down music with electro-pop influence of Jamie xx that really gives that extra kick to the sound that we all used to love from The xx. There are heavy guitar or bass drops, but the music gets stripped down to the core by making the real protagonists of the albums the vocal chemistry between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft, as well as adding that extra dance vibe that makes Jamie xx’s solo work a blessing for The xx as he found that magic sound to really give the band a sense of purpose.

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The lyrics all revolve around all those dark emotions and heartbreak that people go through during their life, making this album a very powerful weapon for The xx to really make an impact in a world where poetic and powerful lyrics are very much outshone by catchy beats and a repetitive clichè choruses that make people feel safe.

The album kick-starts with ‘Dangerous’,which tricks the listener into thinking it might be a happy song as the melody starts with trumpets but slowly fades into darkness as Oliver and Romy haunting voices sing about an unsteady relationship that could break apart at any time but their refusal to let go, and their need to fight for something that maybe shouldn’t stay together. Other songs such as the ballad ‘Performance’ really showcase the hard work and thought the band has put into their sounds, with violins being used to give that sense of melancholy as well as absolute silence to really make a statement and show that sometimes less is more: there isn’t always a need for energetic beats to make a song great, sometimes just vocals are enough to show off talent.

Yet, although The xx discovered and played with many styles in this album, they seem to always focus on  their rough vocals, like with ‘Test Me’, which has scattered vocal samples and cryptic, gloomy noises that make it the darkest song of the album.

Overall, I See You really is about The xx growing and working with their sounds, as the vocals sometimes get lost in a sea of electronic noises and beats that take away from their poetic lyrics, which were what really made this band stand up. Although they do tend to go for a minimalistic sound in certain songs, it seems that Jamie xx’s solo work has made a huge impact on their sound and it is not clear whether it was really necessary. It gave the band a sense of purpose and, something that was lacking in their previous work. It was unclear what they wanted their sound to be like, but this change seems to have taken away a bit of the magic that we all loved from The xx. Nonetheless, the album is still able to strike a chord and show off the huge talents of the two vocalists, and although this is not a five star album, it will still live in the hearts of many fans for years to come.


Listen to the latest offering from The xx here
You can also keep up to date with the trio on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

MDG

 

LIVE REVIEW. Shura at The Forum

Date: 7 December 2016

Venue: The Forum, Kentish Town

Words: Victoria Ling

Photography: Victoria Ling

Dressed in layers and entering the stage for the penultimate date of the ‘Shura-pean’ tour, The Forum went into darkness as Shura took to the stage with her band (Luke – guitars, Ally – drums and Rory – bass) and kicked off the night with ‘Nothing’s Real’ to roars from the sold-out crowd. Who could have guessed that the main girl of the night was full of Shu-flu as Shura worked her way from behind the keys to the front of the stage and back again. As she gulped from a pint glass, the crowd were told that she is actually downing a hot toddie to kick her flu which also may have helped with her energy; however Shura is not a woman lacking in energy, they seem to be

getting better as the crowds grow bigger. The drive in this band is simply mind-blowing. ‘Kids N’Stuff’ kicks in with goose bumps inducing effect, any long-term fan of Shura knows that something special is going to happen at this point – the transition. Everybody was waiting for that transition and as soon as ‘Indecision’ starts, the crowd simultaneously loose control as The Forum’s atmosphere is stepped up a notch. Indeed, there was passionate crowd interaction a plenty tonight, especially during Shura’s confession that she is admittedly quite shy which she says is ironic to the career she has now. Thankfully Shura remains standing with strength and grace doing what she does best, and in quite a lump-in-throat moment we are given ‘2Shy’ going into ‘Make It Up’. “So I just released an album and every song I performed is from that album but this next one is not from that album,” is what Shura tells us. Excitement brews and I hear someone say ‘Just Once’ but it is not to be, instead a new track is presented, and ’Sacrifice’ is great testament to how Shura’s sound is still progressing. The sound is fresh and distinct, but still contains familiar elements, this is why Shura gains more recognition by the day in this ever changing cut-throat music industry.

If the night could not get any more emotional, a dedication goes out to the fans in the form of ‘Touch’, the first song written for the debut album. Whoops come from the crowd as Shura climbs into the pit to grace those who were lucky enough to get to the front barrier with her presence. It is such an exhilarating moment that it even stirs a few happy tears from the crowd as she disappears but thankfully not for too long as the encore comes with ‘White Light’ which is quite possibly Shura’s most electric track performed live. Strobes galore shine down with Shura bashing out the sample pad and sending the crowd crazy in awe that even she falls to the floor before catching a breathe to take us to the end of this ‘tidal wave of feelings’ of the Shura-pean tour to a sea of confetti.


Check out Shura on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

 

Through the eyes of Lil Vik