Citadel Review

After Bombay Bicycle Club played Earl’s Court at the end of 2014, they said they wouldn’t do much in 2015. They argued that, with the amount of touring and recording they’d done in the last 5 years, they needed a year off, which was totally fair. It was as a result of this that we were more excited than usual to see they were headlining a new one-day festival in London. Already considering buying tickets, we were convinced when we saw that Ben Howard would join them as co-headliners. Bombay and Ben Howard. The stage was set for a perfect day of sun, music and relaxation in London’s Victoria Park.

The festival itself had a wonderful atmosphere and it didn’t feel like it was in the middle of London. The main problem was that the park was difficult to find as there weren’t any signposts on the way and we had to walk miles to get there. After walking miles we weren’t even able to get in straight away because nobody had told us we had to queue up to exchange our e ticket for a ticket just so we could give that ticket back as soon as they let us in. So, that all felt a little pointless. However, when we got into the festival the atmosphere was really great. There were lots of different activities laid on with volleyball, skipping, table tennis and many more. Therefore, it could be said that it would be a great festival for families or just for anyone who enjoys to have a bit of fun whilst listening to good live music. The choice of food was varied so it had something for everyone, even for us both being vegetarian. Overall, the festival vibe was very enjoyable.

11749819_993113470708912_683790891_n

Having already seen Bombay in the early evening spot at a festival, we knew what to expect. A prompt start, rack through the hits with a few album tracks from So Long, See You Tomorrow (it doesn’t matter which – all could be singles!) and leave without overrunning. They would be full of energy, they would make the place dance and they would sound outstanding. Even though we knew all that, they still exceeded expectations. In terms of the times we’ve seen them, it was better than T but as it wasn’t their show, it wasn’t as good as Earl’s Court.

About half-way through the set, I realised I would give anything to be one of the 4 (6? Can’t forget Liz and Louis. Ok, possibly 9 then if you include the Brass Notes…). This isn’t usual for me; I don’t really have a burning desire to be anyone else. It’s just, I thought, here are 4 (ok, let’s not get into that again!) young men (sorry Liz) who don’t seem to have any egos, who aren’t corrupted by fame but who have undoubted talent and who have such a fun time playing good songs to an appreciative crowd. They come on stage, and leave an hour – an hour a half later delivering music which borders on perfection. They seem to really enjoy their music, they seem to be happy with whom they are and they seem to be really genuinely nice people. There’s a hell of a lot to admire about Bombay Bicycle Club.

11758944_993113324042260_811637415_n

As expected, their set was incredibly similar to what they played at T. In fact, the only difference was replacing Come To with Wherever, Whenever, which underlines two things. Firstly, they are good enough to get away with replacing one of my favourite songs by them and I still think it was better than T! Secondly, it shows what depth So Long has as an album. They could have played Come To, Whenever, Wherever, Eyes Off You or even the title track and all would have sounded as good as the other. For the record, I think Whenever, Wherever was definitely the right one to pick as it works incredibly well live. Like Earl’s Court, the highlight was Home By Now. I think Jack and Liz’s voices work so well together, hopefully she’ll become a permanent touring member – she adds a lot to Bombay. All in all it was excellent, and Jack was in particular good form, saying before Always Like This that we should join in with his Dad dancing. It’s almost like he’s read my Earl’s Court review! If you’re reading this Jack – your Dad dancing is amazing, certainly better than mine which must have entertained and embarrassed those around us in equal measure. I could see Bombay Bicycle Club live every day of my life and not get bored of it. They are truly spectacular.

Funnily enough, on both occasions that we’ve seen Ben Howard he’s been following Bombay Bicycle Club. There’s always been a part of me that knew Citadel would put it that way around and hence there’s always been a part of me that thought I might be a tad disappointed. It’s almost certain they got the order wrong but was I disappointed? Definitely not. I thought Ben Howard was absolutely fantastic and warranted his later evening slot.

Like we knew what to expect from Bombay, we also knew what to expect from Ben. It didn’t take much – simply reading about his most recent gigs and watching his Glastonbury performance. We knew that most of the songs would be from his second album, that he wouldn’t play Only Love and would end with Burgh Island EP song Esmerelda (tbh, we aren’t sure that he did – we think so as we didn’t know the song he closed with). There’s nothing wrong with this approach if you have a voice and talent as good as Ben’s however there is still a nagging part of me that argues it isn’t acceptable for a festival. I don’t know what has happened to him and his relationship with his first album songs, but I don’t think I care as much anymore. His second album is an incredible piece of work and why shouldn’t he showcase it? Maybe it’s not acceptable for festivals but then it’s still a good way to promote your music. Furthermore, the crowd were singing along to a lot of it, proving that he was doing something right.

11787303_993113184042274_1043759179_n

We weren’t as tired as when we saw him at T and hence we enjoyed this gig a lot more. It also helped that we actually knew his new songs, if not a lot, enough to enjoy hearing them. He is a wonderful musician, who clearly enjoys playing music. You can feel the emotion he puts into his songs and how he gets lost in them. It’s sometimes difficult to understand what he says, he speaks quietly, however that doesn’t really matter. For me, my highlight wasn’t one of the first album songs – it was Conrad. Maybe I didn’t realise it at the time but I haven’t stopped listening to it since I got back so clearly it made a positive impact on me! When reaching the end of the set, he played a stripped back version of The Fear. I’m still not totally sure of it but he made it sound good and then we forgot about it as he played The Wolves in the encore – a surprise I didn’t see coming! There were only four songs from his debut album (those 2 plus Black Flies and Keep Your Head Up), with 8 from his second; a cover and we think Esmerelda at the end. Sometimes you wish he would play more hits, but then he is whom he is and I like him. Oh, and when you have a drummer as crazy as his you can’t go wrong. Both him and Bombay Bicycle Club were worth all the stress getting to and from the park as well as the ridiculously early start the next day.

Ben Howard on left, Bombay on right

Ben Howard on left, Bombay on right

In conclusion, the live music and the atmosphere of the festival were both extremely great. The only criticisms of the festival is the lack of signposts and not telling people that they would have to exchange e tickets upon arrival.

Advertisements

Reliving Records: Editors’ An End Has A Start

Editors-An-End-Has-a-Start

One of my favourite parts of doing album shopping is the times you walk into a shop, see a band you’ve vaguely heard of and purchase one of their albums without knowing how good or not it is. No matter how good or bad an album is, buying it is never a waste of money, so even if you don’t like it it’s just something you did once that you wouldn’t again but it’ll still be part of your collection. If the album turns out to be fantastic, well then it can be one of your most treasured possessions. Our music taste has the ability to expand and diversify, and if we just bought albums by our favourite bands then we would be denying it the opportunity to do so. Indeed, sometimes the albums I buy on whims become ones by my favourite bands.

I have bought loads of these albums but my favourite one has to be the time I walked away from HMV with Editor’s second album An End Has A Start. I first heard Editors on the radio, and heard bits and bobs from them over the next couple of years – on Fifa street for example. I was a huge fan of Munich and Blood but admittedly didn’t realise they were by the same band until I borrowed their debut album from my Dad. I listened to The Back Room a little bit, but back then I didn’t really listen to album tracks (oh dear, oh dear – album tracks really are the highlights of albums) so I didn’t get a proper feel of the record. Still, I heard Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors on the radio and loved it, so when I saw An End Has A Start as I walked into HMV that day I made a gut decision to get it.

Released in 2007, An End Has A Start is still Editors’ finest work (please don’t ever call them “The Editors” – there is no the before it), combining their catchy riffs with their huge choruses, even better bridges and the sombre themes that stand them apart from other bands. The album received almost worldwide praise, has been classified platinum in UK and gold in Ireland and Belgium. In fact, one of the few criticisms I found of it criticised it for being too serious – well, quite frankly there’s nothing wrong with that and there are a lot of positive themes running alongside the serious ones. An End Has A Start has always been one of my favourite albums of all time, and that’s not a feeling that is decreasing with time – in fact, I may love it more now than I ever have in the past.

What makes it so good? Sometimes Editors’ lyrics don’t make much sense but on AEHAS they almost all hit a chord and resonate inside me. The reason for this is the emotion that is apparent on almost every song. There are love songs and there are songs about helping people who are down. The range of emotion and compassion shown on this album is beyond what most modern musicians are capable of. Furthermore, Tom Smith’s vocals are at their peak here – his brooding deep voice fits the themes perfectly and has always been the closest pop voice to one I can sing along with! Chris Urbanowicz has since left, however was a big part of early Editors with his guitar work and nowhere showcases it better than their second album, songs like Bones, The Racing Rats and Escape The Nest wouldn’t work without it.

am991397_lb02

The way I’m going to do this review is by taking you through each track, not by order of the album but by order of my favourites – from least to most.

  1. Spiders

If I have one criticism of the album then it’s that it doesn’t end as well as it starts. Spiders doesn’t really go anywhere, held together by Ed Lay’s rhythmic drumming and Tom’s voice but has little else of note. One of the songs where the lyrics make little sense or have no purpose to them. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not terrible, it just isn’t what the rest of the album is.

Rating: 4/10

  1. Well Worn Hand

The closing song, it’s better than Spiders on account of the final two lines. A simple song, combing Tom’s voice with his piano playing and Chris’ guitar – it works as a closer but fails to match the heights of the songs before it. Worth listening to though for the emotion at the end as Tom belts “I’m so sorry for the things that they’ve done, I’m so sorry about what we’ve all become”. I get goose bumps from that bit every time I hear it.

Rating: 5/10

  1. Push Your Head Towards The Air

Push Your Head is a powerful song and it’s testament to how good this album is that it only features at 8th on my list. NME described it as one of the songs to download; while I see better songs on the record it certainly isn’t a bad shout. Raising to a crescendo, the song talks about how someone should remain positive at all times for there will be someone there for you (“don’t drown in your tears babe, I will always be there). The raise sends shivers down my spine but unfortunately the song doesn’t kick on and therefore doesn’t get placed higher.

Rating: 6/10

  1. When Anger Shows

Once again, a song with a sombre mood running throughout, it seems to tell the story of a person seeking hope from someone else as they realise that life can fail. It’s a song about relying on someone, putting your faith and trust into your loved ones. It takes a turn towards the end, saying “How can you know what things are worth if your hands won’t move to do a days work?” which I admit I don’t understand how it fits in with the song however it sounds great so we can ignore that.

Rating: 7/10

  1. Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors

Controversial, I know, to put probably Editors’ most famous song only as my 6th favourite of the album but that really isn’t testament to how much I love this album, even so many years later. It’s the song, which made Editors huge, changing their sound by making it bigger, complete with choir and pounding bass, and guitar, Russell Leetch and Chris working in tandem wonderfully well. “We’ve all been changed from what we were, our broken hearts smashed on the floor” produces such noise when being sung along at all their gigs – it’s a song which has all the qualities of the best. It also introduces the positivity amongst seeming negativity – “can someone turn us around, can we start this again?”. A message of despair, yes, but also one of possible hope.

Rating: 8/10

  1. The Weight Of The World

We’ve all suffered down periods in our lives; times when no one and nothing can help improve our mood. Constant periods of worrying, of despair; resulting in a lack of desire to do anything or see anyone. I’m no exception, especially throughout a difficult high school time. While it’s unbelievably cheesy to say music saved me, sometimes it’s difficult not to listen to a song and feel connected to it. The Weight Of The World kept me going, it’s as simple as that. The core message “every little piece of your life will add up to one, every piece of your life, well it means something to someone” is one that needs to be repeated again and again. You don’t know who is struggling with various demons, and you might be yourself but this song and the truth is that every part of you will be loved by someone. As Tom sings, “there are tears in my eyes, love replaces fear”. Positivity will always arise from negativity.

Rating: 9/10

  1. An End Has A Start

Upbeat, catchy and simple. An End Has A Start, the title track, has everything that makes Editors wonderful, both live and in the studio. The chorus is impossible not to belt out “You came on your own, that’s how you’ll leave, with hope in your hand and air to breathe”. A recurring theme on this album is the bridges following the second choruses and AEHAS has one of the better ones before Tom sings the chorus with only the two guitars to accompany him and then the band kick in ending with a flurry of energy. Tom sounds great, the track sounds great.

Rating: 9/10

  1. Bones

My favourite love song of modern times, mainly because it isn’t obviously a love song. It’s a realistic one. “In the end, all you can hope for is the love you’ve felt to equal the pain you’ve gone through” and “I’d forgive you every single time” are examples of this. Searching for love in real life is difficult, full of complications and human mistakes. Most people don’t account for that, Editors did. But, in the end, they also produced possibly the sweetest lines they’ve ever written: “Are your eyes showing off for mine? Your face in my hands is everything that I need” and “Bones, starved of flesh surround your aching heart, full of love”. Already powerful, Chris’ guitar makes it perfect and one of Editors’ finest ever pieces of music.

Rating: 10/10

  1. Escape The Nest

The epitome of everything that is great about this album. Everything I talked about in that paragraph above, a serious theme, Tom’s voice, Chris’ guitar and raw emotion are all apparent in Escape The Nest. “Look up, through the trees to feel as small as you can. You hear the clocks counting down, the nights are longer now than ever before but now you see the lights from the town”. Ok, so when you listen to it ignore the bits about ants – the music more than makes up for those lyrics. The chorus, the bit I’ve referenced above is sung with such passion and power that ETN has always been a song I can listen to over and over again. The first 2 choruses are amazing, the third reaches perfection. Tom sings without the aid of drums, pauses after “the lights of the” building up suspense before bringing the outro in as he sings “town”. That, is one of my favourite moments from all the songs I own.

Rating: 10/10

  1. The Racing Rats

If Bones was Editors’ finest work and ETN contained one of my favourite parts in music, then how can anything match, let alone beat, those? The Racing Rats does it. The theme is apparently a plane crash, albeit a metaphorical one rather than a literal one – with the plane references used to reference problems in personal lives leaving a person desolate and desperate. It poses the question “if a plane were to fall from the sky, how big a hole would it leave in the surface of the earth” which can be both literal and representative. The bridge is, once again, incredibly powerful and the guitar reaches its peak. It’s always been my favourite Editors song and that shows no signs of wavering. Along with The Weight Of The World, it was when Editors made an emotional impact on me.

Rating: 10/10

Average Rating: 8/10 (Excellent)

414909

It’s been 8 years since An End Has A Start was released, and in that time Editors have progressed from a 4 piece to a 5 piece, integrating 2 new members. They’re about to release their 3rd album since then and have evolved if not necessarily improved. They are still a wonderful band, indeed their last album is my second favourite by them, yet it would be very difficult to match what an album AEHAS is. It’ll never be considered a classic album, but does that matter to me? No, because it is one of my favourites and will always be an album which helped me, inspired me and properly introduced me to one of my favourite bands.

We all own albums we love, we all own ones we don’t. Part of the risk of trying to discover new music is the possibility that it won’t be something we enjoy yet that risk is nullified by the prospect that it could be something we absolutely adore years later. If my experiences, especially with An End Has A Start, tell me anything it’s that you should never be afraid to buy an album on a whim – you never know, it might just turn out to be something wonderful.