Welcome breaks from busy weeks

The end of March and the beginning of April was a very busy time for me. Under pressure to organise some work experience for my course, I had something arranged only to see that fall through. A frantic day of sending emails off to various places looked to have led nowhere when most ignored and two rejected me. Fortunately, The Cricketer, who had initially rejected me, got back to say they were happy to have me on board.

Off I went to London, to experience 2 weeks unlike any I have had before. The outcome was that I got something printed in their magazine (go buy it!), but more importantly, I’d had a very good time. In April, I headed over to Manchester to look after my Mum’s cats while she was in NY and Washington and required that time to catch up on my Easter Holiday work, which I couldn’t do while in London.

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It’s not like it stops there either, for this month is busy, busy, busy. The vast majority of my university work is due in on the 13th May, and then on the 14th I am the best man for my good friend Josh on his wedding day. With preparation, such as the speech (written – just needs practising and amending), to do for that – it’s unlikely I’ll be writing many blogs. I apologise sincerely for that, and promise to get back on the wagon once the wedding, and uni, is over.

Arranging the finer details of work experience had been tricky for me due to two very crucial commitments. I didn’t want to shout about it, because most people would say these shouldn’t be priorities but for me, they were absolutely key.

They were two gigs.

One, on the 31st March, at the Royal Albert Hall. The other, on the 8th April, at Manchester Arena. They were my two favourite bands, and there was no way in hell I was missing out on the chance to see Chvrches or Muse.

The Royal Albert Hall has always been the one venue I’ve wanted to experience a gig. I saw Chvrches were playing there just after we saw them in Birmingham and immediately wanted to go. I knew, even then, that the gig would be special – I knew it would tick a lot of boxes from my gig “bucket list”. I told Emma, and she pretended to forget about it while secretly letting her parents know, who very kindly bought us tickets as a Christmas present (thanks Mike and Suzy – seriously, thank you!).

It was everything I expected.

No, it was better than I expected.

For a start, while we usually stand, sitting was a welcome relief after a knackering day (week and a half) of work experience. But usual sitting does not compare to an almost private box on the second tier of the Royal Albert Hall. You can almost feel the moments of history throughout time that had taken place within those walls. And all from a comfy seat with a great view!

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The sound was better than I expected, sometimes sound can be lost in arenas, but here it was confined, and then amplified into something special.

Of course, it helps that Chvrches are absolute masters of gigs.

They sound great. They look great too, they look like a band ready to explode upon the world as leaders in their field and headliners of festivals, and hopefully even stadiums. But, they also feel relaxed. This didn’t scare them; it didn’t even faze the three of them. They made the odd comment about how big it was, but they were usually followed by a very relaxed exchange, almost a conversation, with the audience. Lauren has a great sense of the right words to say at the right times to make a crowd laugh. She controls the arenas well, while still mesmerising them with her, and her bands, music.

The more I see Chvrches, the more I hear from them, the more I love them. Yes, the setlist was almost identical to the one we had seen at the O2 (with the welcome addition of High Enough), but that didn’t matter – the gig, the venue and the atmosphere was special enough for this to be better in every regard.

There was only one regret. And that was that we weren’t standing for Clearest Blue.

Chvrches played: 

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 19.24.24It’s one of my biggest peeves that I always get nervous before gigs. I’ve no idea why, and I always always enjoy myself, yet in the immediate run up I can’t help but feel sick and not want to go.

It was worse than usual on the 8th April. Why? Well, on the surface at least, I should have been fine. We were off to see Muse, and for me it was my fifth time. I know just how good Muse are live, I know they are the single greatest live band on the planet and I knew I was going to have a great night.

However, it was Emma’s first Muse gig. For almost three years now, she’s listened to me badger on about how good they are live that it struck me she might think I was over exaggerating. And I got worried that she’d hate it, and never want to see them again. Sure, it’s irrational – especially when you consider how good it ended up being – but I can’t help it!

We were standing this time, and Muse boasting a 360 stage meant that we were able to get very close to the front. I’d love to write at some point about the other times I’ve seen Muse – and maybe this summer I can get around to it – but as a quick spoiler, you don’t go to see Muse purely for the music. The fact the music is better than anyone else’s is a bonus, but you go see them for the set design, the lighting and the visuals. I’ve seen them play on movable platforms, on “spaceships”, inside pyramids and with massive explosions at seemingly every chord. Each gig comes with it a different stage, each one better than the previous. This was no exception.

I usually have a problem with the sound at the Manchester Arena. It’s almost too big to sound good in, yet from the moment the support band started playing (Nothing But Thieves – an excellent opening act) I knew that wouldn’t be a factor.

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Muse are always good, but they were about as good as I’ve ever seen them that night. I’d seen every song live, except the new ones, but that didn’t matter. I’d only seen Bliss once. And Bliss should be played at every gig they do – it’s easily their best song live (a ridiculously hard statement). My only slight criticisms would be the continued presence of Madness and Feeling Good, however that’s only because I’ve seen them multiple times. For newbies, like Emma, they still warrant a good reception.

Muse demand respect live. Everything they do is so outrageously good. Emma loved it, drenched in sweat and just saying “wow, wow” as we left. Any band wanting to make it in today’s climate, just watch how Muse play gigs. Muse have never had a number 1 single, and haven’t had a top 5 hit for a decade, yet set an attendance record at the O2 in London and sold out two nights in Manchester. The true definition of a live band.

Muse played:

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Muse and Chvrches will always be worth seeing live. Both of them gig in different ways (Chvrches are more down with the crowd, Muse are more about the show), but both of them do it in fantastic ways. Muse should go on a stadium tour next summer, and I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Chvrches aren’t headlining that level by the end of their career – their sound would suit it. I say this a lot, and I realise these reviews are always positive, but if you ever get the chance to see either of them live, take it and run with it. You can’t help but be blown away by both.

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The Celebration of Mediocrity

For some reason, Coldplay are seen as national treasures. They dominate the airwaves; and the festival bills. You can’t escape them. They are everywhere music is, they even played the whole of a ceremony for a major international sporting event.

It baffles me. Besides a few good, catchy singles, they are awful. Their album songs start nowhere, go nowhere and finish nowhere. The composition is usually terrible and the music can border on painful to listen to.

Despite that, I kept thinking the next album would be better and from their second up to Mylo Xyloto bought every single one. They sit amongst my CD’s like blood stains on a white wall. We all have albums we are embarrassed to own and for us (as Emma shares my view), it’s Coldplay.

Parachutes:

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Emma owns Parachutes, and to be fair it’s not a dreadful debut album. It’s also remarkably average. There’s no doubt that Yellow and Trouble are good songs, but this only reinforces the Coldplay stereotype rather than redeems the album. The rest of the album is instantly forgettable.

Rating: 4/10

A Rush of Blood to the Head:

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I’ve listened to Coldplay’s second album more than most, however I never really truly got into it. Again, the singles are good songs – Clocks, The Scientist, In My Place, and the rest of the album falls flat. You see now why I’m grouping the reviews together? Every Coldplay album merges into the last in one stream of unforgettable tripe for 90% of the time held up by 10% of decent-ness. Daylight and A Whisper are two god-awful tracks.

Rating: 3/10

X&Y:

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The most disappointing of Coldplay albums. And yet, it somehow manages to explain Coldplay perfectly. The best singles can be found amongst X&Y; including the much maligned Fix You. The terrible album tracks are also there: What If, Swallowed In The Sea, however amongst it all is a gem. Til Kingdom Come is, hands down, the best track Coldplay have never released. And yet, in true Coldplay fashion – it can only appear as a hidden track. For that, X&Y gets marked down.

Rating: 2.5/10

Viva la Vida:

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My favourite Coldplay album. Of the 10 songs found within it, 5 were released as singles – meaning half the songs are listenable! Even the album tracks are decent, with 42 an attempt by Coldplay to step outside of their comfort zone and write something without a chorus. It worked, and I appreciate that. The first Coldplay album I bought, and the only one I vaguely like.

Rating: 5/10

Mylo Xyloto:

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I’d argue MX is the worst of all of the Coldplay albums I own. Convinced to buy it after hearing Paradise, it only contains three decent songs. Out of 14, that just isn’t enough. I really tried to listen to it and love it, however was never able to. The album when I finally gave up trying to like Coldplay.

Rating: 2/10

As for the rest… we heard Magic and decided not to bother with Coldplay’s attempt following MX. Magic was an awful song, with none of the usual tricks, which draw unfortunate listeners into their singles. I haven’t heard anything from their latest album, and nor do I want to. My Coldplay phase is over, and thankfully at that.

In hindsight, it would be much more advisable to buy a Coldplay greatest hits album, or in this day and age just download their hits. I never thought I’d suggest downloads, however Coldplay’s infuriating inconsistency merits it.

Coldplay have made a career violating modern society’s desire for one or two tracks rather than an album. I’d almost admire that, if younger me hadn’t wasted so much money buying their worthless attempts at making music.

My main problem with Coldplay can be summed up: they have no soul; they possess no character. They are only in music to make money.

Music Through The Eras

I’ve always been fascinated by space. In many ways it was the one reason I did a physics degree in the first place. Physics degrees ruin everything anyone could ever enjoy about the subject, and that was that. I thought my love of all things clever had gone.

Last Thursday, I was stood in the Rock City crowd, and was reading about what I had done on that day in years gone by. Apparently, a year previous I had put up my review of Kaiser Chiefs. Public Service Broadcasting had supported the Kaisers on that day. This is relevant because I was stood in a crowd that was about to enjoy Public Service Broadcasting.

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PSB (for that’ll be easier from now on) have had an incredible year. Their second album charted just under the top 10, and the vinyl release was the 34th best selling vinyl of 2015. It was entitled “The Race For Space” and it has reinvigorated my love for all things space.

The gig was fun. Fun seems like a horrible word to describe it. A word that just doesn’t do it justice, yet it seems like the only proper word. Emma and I haven’t ever had that much fun at a gig.

PSB are, officially, a two-piece. Although in reality that should be three, and live it’s definitely four. It’s more than about the music for PSB; their live member is in charge of the visuals. They put music to old public service films, and play sections of the films on big screens and TVs on the stage. They even come with their very own Sputnik.

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The set was a great mix of their first album and second album material with a couple of songs thrown in from their War Room EP. And who says you need vocals to have a good gig? PSB only interact with the crowd through the use of a computer and hand actions, but that doesn’t deprive from the experience. In fact, there was more humour than most gigs, my favourite being Willgoose telling an audience member to simmer down after they heckled him.

Despite a few technical difficulties, at the end of the day when you try something this expansive there are bound to be some, this was one of my favourite gigs of all time. And I don’t think that’s an exaggeration, they really were superb and I would see them every time I can.

I have a theory. It changes my perspective on why I did physics. I had a love with the romanticism of physics, rather than the reality. The romanticism is contained within the history of developments, a side that PSB highlight.

If schools taught history in the style of PSB, it would be a lot more successful.

PSB played:

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Gabrielle Aplin @ Rock City

Rock City is quickly becoming my favourite venue in the country, and I’ve only seen two gigs there. The reason? The sound quality for a start is fantastic; you can hear every single chord, note and word. The atmosphere is great, it’s not a small venue yet retains a certain level of intimacy. You feel close to, and connected with those around you, and as a result, the artist.

For a venue with the word “Rock” in its title, it works particularly well for the more pop/folky artists. This again comes back to the sound, complete clarity is great for rock gigs but is crucial for singer-songwriter ones.

Last night we saw Gabrielle Aplin there, and if I had to use one word to describe it, it would be magical.

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Aplin is a diamond in the rough of the music industry. She writes catchy and memorable songs, yet her biggest asset is quite clearly her voice. That alone is great for a record and acceptable for a live performance but wouldn’t make her worth seeing gig.

What makes gigs worth it is her character. She interacts with the crowd, she clearly enjoy what she does and everything seems genuine. Even when she said “this is the best crowd I’ve ever played to”, a line said by so many people across so many ages of music, it felt more true than before.

I first heard Gabrielle when listening to the radio on a long car journey home. I was captivated by Salvation, and pestered Emma to lend me her album. Her first album is an incredible record, but, in a refreshing change from the norm, her second excels it in every department.

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I think that this was summed up during the period of the gig last night immediately after her beautiful Space Oddity tribute to Bowie. Four of the five songs that followed were taken from her second album, and it was the best part of the entire night. It helped that Light Up The Dark, Together, Slip Away and Sweet Nothing are the highlights of the album, and further that the first album song was her first single, Please Don’t Say You Love Me, but it highlights the strength and improvement of her second release. That section of five songs is one of my favourite passages of a gig of all time.

From what I gather, Gabrielle Aplin tours with people she knows. She’s close friends with Hudson Taylor, and they usually support her – they didn’t due to an injury. Instead she called in Lewis Watson, who talks to them all on twitter. Hannah Grace also supported her, and then later became Gabrielle’s backing vocalist. She has her own record label, which Nottingham artist Saint Raymond is signed to, and he joined her on stage to perform his song to open the encore. She promotes unsigned, unknown or small artists through her own fame.

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With a beautiful voice, a talent for writing songs, a stage presence and the aforementioned promotion of other artists, it’s impossible not to like Gabrielle Aplin.

She didn’t want the gig to end, a view most likely shared by everyone packed into Rock City to see her.

Gabrielle Aplin played (plus a cover of a Saint Raymond song before Salvation):

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The 20 Greatest Christmas Songs

Simply a list of our favourite Christmas songs…

20: Christmas Time (Don’t Let The Bells End) by The Darkness (2003)
The Darkness weren’t good for much, but they were perfect for Christmas.

19: Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band Aid 20 (2004)
Maybe controversial that we’ve gone for the reincarnation of the 80’s hit, but Dizzee Rascal tips the balance.

18: Lonely This Christmas by Mud (1974)
♫ It’ll be cold, so cold …

17: Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree by Mel & Kim (1987) 
Possessing just that little bit more character than the original.

16: White Christmas by Bing Crosby (1942/1947)
You just can’t not include it.

15: 2000 Miles by The Pretenders (1983)
♫ I miss you. The children were singing, he’ll be back at Christmastime

14: Mary’s Boy Child / Oh My Lord by Boney M. (1978)
The single best Christmas medley, ever. 

13: Santa Claus is Coming To Town
Whoever does it, one of the most iconic Christmas songs of all time.

12: Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses (1981)
♫ Oh Damn! Guess what I forgot?

11: I Believe In Father Christmas by Greg Lake (1975)
Whether it’s protesting the commercialisation of Christmas or about losing youth and innocence, this is a cracker.

10: The Power of Love by Gabrielle Aplin (2012)
Frankie’s version was good, but Aplin’s for John Lewis blew it out of the water. 

9: Driving Home For Christmas by Chris Rea (1986)
Quintessentially Christmas, even if the 2009 video is terrible.

8: Step Into Christmas by Elton John (1973)
♫ Step into Christmas, let’s join together, we can watch the snow fall forever and ever.

7: Last Christmas by Wham (1984)
A dreadful song, but one you can’t stop singing around Christmas.

6: Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) by Darlene Love (1963)
It’s one of those songs that gets into your head for hours and you really don’t mind.

Joint 4: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard (1973)
Ok, a cop out – but we really couldn’t choose between this …

Joint 4: Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade (1973)
… and this. What a year 73 was!

3: Happy Xmas (War Is Over) by John Lennon (1971)
I dare you not to belt it out. I dare you. 

2: Stop The Cavalry by Jona Lewie (1980)
Another fantastic tune not originally intended to be a Christmas hit.

1: Fairytale of New York by The Pogues (feat. Kirsty MacColl) (1987)
For us, the ultimate Christmas song. Both a great song and an iconic hit this time of year. 

 

∗ All I Want For Christmas Is You appeared on both of our top 20’s but too low to feature here when combining. Truth be told, we are both kinda glad about that. We were including it for the iconic nature, not the quality of the song. Gareth hates it, and is delighted it’s not here. 

Get Rich Quick

Music is simply poetry with instruments. A poet writes with their heart. They write words with emotional meaning, not necessarily aiming to make it rich or famous, but more to tell a story of passion and power.

Lyrics do the same job. Both art forms can bring audiences to their feet; both can reduce adults to tears. Both come from the heart and the soul, both allow fans to relate.

Athlete’s Wires is one of my favourite songs of all time. It’s packed full of emotion, first distress, and then hope. Joel Pott, their lead singer, wrote it about his daughter being born prematurely. It’s impossible to listen to it and not hear, even feel, the emotion.

The problem is; Wires is an exception in our time. Music now is more about money rather than passion. The focus of artists is veering more towards singles instead of writing a set of songs that they feel something for.

I have every Coldplay album except their last two. I only like two of their non-singles. Coldplay have made a career out of high selling singles, with little effort focused on the rest of their catalogue.

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Albums these days are less about showcasing music, and more about simply making as much money as possible.

Why does everything surrender to the cheap enticement of money?

Our culture is lazy, born out of the obsession with downloads. It skips the need to hear anything but what you know.

People demand music; therefore simple economics states if you can supply it, it is a great way to get rich. Furthermore, you can earn more if you don’t bother to tour.

While this is great for individuals, it’s clearly bad for the art form. Going are the days of emotion, arriving are the days of soulless tripe.

No Talent Required

Whether through instant communication with the other side of the planet, or complete education via the Internet, there is no question that technology is bringing us closer together by positive domination of our world.

Music embraces technology. It uses it to aid and improve the experience. Electric guitars and microphones weren’t always around, neither were light shows or projections.

However in recent times, technology has been destroying the experience. Nowadays, you don’t need a good voice to succeed and you don’t need to play an instrument or even own one!

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The negative connotations of technology have been slowly infiltrating the art since the 1980s.

At that time, a new form of music was being moulded, now donned dance pop. These artists, such as Michael Jackson and Madonna, found live shows became difficult as they were trying to implement more forms of entertainment into the same three minutes. They focused on dancing and pre-recorded their vocals.

Lip-synching has evolved into auto-tune, and the 21st century has seen an influx of musicians whose vocal “talents” are enhanced by technology. This is a widespread practice, with Ke$ha and T-Pain amongst others to openly admit they use it, and even the X-Factor confessing.

While every artist will use auto-tune in the studio, the real test of talent usually came when seeing artists live. However, even this can be falsified.

What is the endgame for this form of technology? I think that gigs are the best chance for artists to engage with their fans, take Ricky Wilson’s dynamic performances with the Kaiser Chiefs for example. But fans will stop trusting if they don’t believe they are seeing a live performance.

Some artists are open about their use of technology, and I’m fine with that. It’s the ones who aren’t who are ruining music for everyone.

Worth it?

When the doors opened at the O2 Academy in Birmingham on Wednesday night (25th November), Emma and I were stuck in traffic. We hadn’t parked and we hadn’t had a chance to eat despite leaving just after half 4. The journey to Birmingham had been fraught and with both of us having an early start the next day, there was a lingering question: would this be worth it?

By the time we arrived home it was well past midnight. The A42 was closed, meaning a simple journey back to Nottingham ended up being diverted around past Burton and almost up to Derby. Again, the question was: was it worth it?

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Chvrches, the Scottish electro-pop three piece, were playing the O2 that night.

I keep coming back to Chvrches. They are a band suitable for any mood, and indeed every mood, and don’t have a single bad song across either album. It’s been 2 years since they released their debut album, and a few months since they released their second. Both are of exceptional quality, both in the studio and live.

I mentioned in my Imagine Dragons review a couple of weeks ago that I like bands that add different elements to their songs live, mainly riffing. Chvrches don’t do that in the obvious sense of it, but in a less obvious one they do.

While the songs aren’t different, the layers are more complex. The music is heavier, the vocals more intense. They remain the same band they are in the studio, just more powerful, more chilling.

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Chvrches comprise of Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry. Lauren, the vocalist, has a journalism degree (I very much approve) and is the face of the band. She has a wonderful voice, which rarely falters live. With electro music, there is always the possibility that the vocals will get lost. With Chvrches, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Mayberry owns the stage, as good as any other front, and interacts with the crowd on a regular basis. When we saw Chvrches at T, she told us not to throw piss at people, in Birmingham it was more positive – about how this gig was the penultimate one on the tour and that the songs had become very polished.

It was her who draws you in.

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But that is not to say she is the only part of the band. They are a band, a fact that does seem lost on some people some times. The music doesn’t drown out the vocals, nor do they overpower it. They complement it. All three of them provide an energy that is infectious and a gig that is mesmerising. When Martin sings Under The Tide, he proves that he can also hold a stage as a front as Lauren took a backseat.

So, how do you do a second album tour? Play a bit of both albums, allow fans old and new to sample and enjoy. Chvrches did exactly that, to great effect. Both my face and throat hurt by the end of the night, for I spent the whole gig smiling and singing.

One day Chvrches will play arenas, maybe even stadiums. That’s the direction in which they are heading, and will happen sooner rather than later. But, let’s consider it doesn’t. Even if they continue playing venues such as the O2 in Birmingham, they will own every single stage they occupy and leave every fan, would be fan, and demi-fan begging for more.

Was the journey worth it?

What do you think?

Chvrches played:

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The future of rock?

I’ve realised recently that our, well my – I ramble too much, reviews tend to be too long and so, starting from now, I’m going to cut them down. That doesn’t mean that every gig from now on is less enjoyable than the ones previously, I just want to be more concise in our writing.  

What do I expect from a gig? Firstly, I expect to be entertained, after all music is an art, and secondly, I want to hear a bunch of songs I know and love. It’s actually a very vague description of what makes a good gig and therefore one of the reasons there hasn’t been a gig that I’ve bought tickets for that I haven’t enjoyed.

There’s a little more… A good support band is always useful, although a bad one can make the main act more special. A good support band will rattle through as many of their songs as they can, talking and interacting with the crowd a little but mainly using the opportunity to showcase their music.

The main band should be a little bit different. I think a good band plays their music but adds in different elements, be it a different version of the song, riffing at the end of it or more interaction with the crowd. Particularly riffing. I like riffing, it showcases the talent within the band beyond what they do in the studio.

Essentially, I want a band to be better live than their records are.

Imagine Dragons (and support Sunset Sons) at Nottingham on Friday 6th November were all of that mentioned above.

The Nevada band are more of a rock band than, I think, the public think they are. They certainly have plenty of pop influences within their music, and that’s what has made them commercially successful, but the four of them seem to want to be fully blown rock stars.

Imagine Dragons, Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, 06-11-15. Photo by Laura Patterson. Must credit on use.

Imagine Dragons, Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, 06-11-15. Photo by Laura Patterson. Must credit on use.

They throw in the riffing, they allow members to show off with solo’s, they play songs that people in the crowd might not know if they don’t know the band and, in a great move, they mash their own choruses together to fit in more of their earlier songs. There was even a touching moment when lead singer Dan Reynolds asked people to be humans and buy their song written to give money to charities helping the refugee crisis. Charity singles are a huge part of rock history!

Lead guitarist Wayne Sermon is clearly influenced by prog rock guitarists, highlighted in his solo section, while combining that with a more modern sound.

The gig was packed full of songs from their new album, all of them sounding better than they did on the record. This is impressive when you consider that their second album really is an impressive work of art. Where Night Visions gave them commercial success and a world wide following, Smoke & Mirrors seems more like the music they want to make and I prefer it.

Songs like I’m So Sorry, Gold, I Bet My Life and new one Roots were all born to be played live. That, right there, is the definition of making good music.

Imagine Dragons, Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, 06-11-15. Photo by Laura Patterson. Must credit on use.

Imagine Dragons, Capital FM Arena, Nottingham, 06-11-15. Photo by Laura Patterson. Must credit on use.

The rock scene is full of snobs. Snobs who refuse to give pop the credit it deserves, who think that the only way to make rock music is to make it away from the public eye. In reality, that kind of thinking will only ever see rock music die out. If rock bands have to infuse their sounds with pop elements to gain a bigger following, then so be it. Rock bands were made to play stadiums. Once Foo Fighters, Green Day and Muse finish there will be very few who can actually do that.

Now, I’m not saying Imagine Dragons will play stadiums. I’m saying that I think their methods point towards the future of rock music. And if I’m right, then it’s a future I’m more than happy to be behind.

Another snobby view is that modern music is talentless and pointless. Seeing Imagine Dragons live is just one of many ways in which you can prove that to be utter trash.

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Courtesy of Emma Still

Imagine Dragons played:

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The most unlikely of album releases

nodevotion

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t really know how to write this, how long it’s going to be or how much of it will make sense. I know what I want to say but I don’t know how to say it without sounding too naïve, childish, young. It’s difficult because I’m not sure how I feel about it myself and as has been pointed out to me, I didn’t go through it so can’t have that strong emotions regarding it. I can’t imagine how the direct participants in it felt. I can’t begin to imagine the lows they felt, the feeling that their world had been taken from underneath them and turned upside down, that their dreams had been cancelled, that all their hard work over many years was all for nothing. I can’t imagine being huge names in music one day, then being nobodies the next.

Maybe the best place to start would be with the facts. There was a band, hailing from Pontypridd in Wales (funnily enough, the same town as Tom Jones) who called themselves Lostprophets. They were an alternative metal band, heavier and darker than most stuff I liked but, in my experience, not heavy or dark enough to be considered a band that anyone above the age of 15 should like. Not something I agree with, but a view held by many. Anyway, enough of that, they released 5 successful albums and were creating a legacy for themselves in music and Wales. It all ended when, on the 19th December 2012, their lead singer, Ian Watkins, was arrested for child sex offences.

I had been a Lostprophets fan for quite a while, ever since A Town Called Hypocrisy – so all the way through 3 albums, and I had bought their previous 2 as well. At the time, and indeed for quite a while afterwards, they were my second most played band on last.fm. I had their poster on my wall back home. It was fair to say that they were one of my favourite bands. On the 8th November, so about a month before the allegations emerged, I saw them live at Manchester Apollo and quite frankly, I was blown away by how good they were. It had reignited my love for them. They only played 6 more gigs as a band.

For most people, Lp weren’t a 6-piece band – they were a one man one. If anyone could name any of them it would, even before Dec 2012, have been Ian Watkins. The other 5 were fairly anonymous, living in the shadow of a front man who was very good at being one. Very few people would know who Lee Gaze, Stuart Richardson, Mike Lewis, Jamie Oliver and Luke Johnson are, let alone recognise them in a promotional picture. It was immensely unfair on all of them, who all had more talent than Watkins had anyway. If there is one thing I remember from the gig I went to, it was being seriously impressed by guitarist Gaze’s skill.

Most people wouldn’t know that they were on the verge of splitting up anyway, that Watkins had become impossible to work with and at least one member, Gaze, has confirmed that he found the music they were making inappropriate for 30-odd year olds. Gaze and Richardson refuse to listen to the music they made together, in fact Richardson has smashed their platinum disc received for Liberation Transmission. All of the members have children; all of them would have felt the betrayal and deception as parents let alone band-mates, even friends. All of them refuse to be seen as victims, they all say the real victims are the families involved with the actual abuse and they are spot on there.

For almost a year we heard nothing, before they confirmed that Lostprophets were officially over as a band (it didn’t really come as a shock!). I follow them all on twitter as they apparently went their separate ways. Gaze focused on his love for coffee, Oliver decided to print some of his paintings (interesting side note: Jamie only came into the band because they couldn’t afford to take an extra member on tour in their early days yet wanted a photographer so he learnt the turntables) and Lewis became the manager of some smaller bands in America. Then, in April 2014, rumours began to grow that the band were back in the studio.

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No Devotion, made up of Lostprophets’ 5 members as well as former Thursday lead singer Geoff Rickly, debuted their first single on the 1st July. It was nothing like the Lp members had done before, being more mainstream rock and less like it was made for teenagers. There was a sigh of relief amongst the fan base, who had been through hell for almost two years, here we were finally re-embracing 5 musicians who had done nothing wrong except choose their friends badly yet were being tainted by association. It was yesterday, quite a while after Stay’s release, that their debut album, Permanence, was released.

Here’s the thing. Technically, I’m going to class this as a review yet I’m not going to review a single track. The reason? I will never judge Permanence on whether I find the music good or not, it’s worth more than that. It’s the album that I, the whole of the fan base, the whole of the music industry, never thought would be made. I can’t listen to Lostprophets now, every now and then I try again but find it too difficult, but at least I have some music, more than that a record, which I can listen to made by the good guys of Lp, the men worth being so in love with Lostprophets in my teenage years.

If No Devotion release nothing else in their career, at least the five of them (Johnson has since left) will always have their contributions to this record. It won’t be as commercially successful as the stuff they did before but it was unquestionably mean infinitely more to them personally. They sunk to the bottom but kept their heads up and managed to rise again. There is no question that Ian Watkins is a horrible human being that deserves to rot in jail. He tainted all of their names; he made the music they had made for years worthless. He ruined many lives, not just these 5 men but all the families who he abused. While I hope they have turned their lives around, this record proves that the members of No Devotion have.