If there was a prize for the two people who grasped the gaze of the room’s wondering eyes and enticed the audience into their clutches for the entirety set, Luke Leighfield and Jose Vanders would win hands down. The pair hold a joint headliner spot tonight, topping the bill at London’s Borderline.
Up first is artist and singer/songwriter Nicholas Stevenson, who is the only act here tonight to be accompanied by a full band. Stevenson’s mellow vocal and folky sound is very current, drawing comparisons to Ben Howard. He’s sure in for a bright future in this field. The second support comes from Lail Arad, a bun-clad lady with a gorgeous voice. ‘Over My Head’ is very catchy, sounding like something you’d hear in a quirky french cafe. The keys tingle with the intricate melody as Lail shows everyone what she’s capable of.
Luke Leighfield is up next, just one man and his keys, he looks slightly awkward as he takes to the stage. But a song down and a few sips of water later and he’s revitalised enough to amuse the audience, who all stand (and sit of the steps) taking in his humourous comments about the venue’s lack of fairy lights and his recent burrito. Comments aside, Luke is brilliant. A under-estimated soul that gives a flawless performance, playing a whole host of tracks including favourite, ‘Have You Got Heart.’
Jose Vanders plays twenty minutes early so that some fans who have travelled a long way to see her could actually witness her set, showing Vanders’ kind nature. This is carried through the whole performance as she wears her heart on her sleeve (well, on her green chiffon dress) and tells the audience the tales behind her songs. Their influences range from the man who walked across a tightrope between the Twin Towers in ‘Man On Wire’ to the boy who took her out for muscles and chips in, ‘Blue Notes.’ Jose’s animated performance is quite beautiful, her voice is sweet yet very striking.
Luke and Jose are joined onstage by singer/songwriter Marcel Legane, who strums along contently and donates some vocals to add texture. To end the night, they play their cover of Bon Iver’s ‘Blindsided’ reminding everyone what hidden talent has been showcased this evening.
Example knows the drill now, he can turn out a decent pop track these days no problem and it’ll no doubt make its fulfilled journey to the top of the chart. Yeah yeah yeah, but there’s something about Example that sets him apart from the other pieces on the chessboard. Most importantly, he knows how to kickstart the party. Secondly, his genre cross over is unbeatable with his influences felt throughout. Dance, Rap, Dubstep and House, it’s all in there. Finally, controversial Example, known for the humourous nature of his avid tweets is one fine lyricist. References to social culture are scattered from, ‘Stick around yeah like Elastoplast’ in ‘Stay Awake’ to ‘Like she wanna get tapped like Spinal’ in ‘Wrong In The Head.’
‘Sky Don’t Lie’ opens the album with a bang with its heavy synth-driven riffs, ‘Microphone’ contrasts with a slower arm-waving offering, co-written with notable songwriter Guy Chambers. ‘Changed The Way You Kissed Me’ is a defining moment, as the track that got the 29 year-old his first number one back in June and many a club-goer, radio obsessive and loyal Example fan hyped about the third studio album,’Playing In The Shadows.’ It’s the outcome of Elliot Gleave’s musical maturity with some darker tracks like title track ‘Playing In The Shadows’ ,‘Lying To Yourself’ and ‘Under The Influence’ proving he has no limitations allowing his sound to flourish. Generic is not a word to describe Example, every track stands apart from the next as all 12 songs are each produced by some of the best known people in the dance field, you’ve got Chase and Status, Nero and Skream all putting their stamp on the record, making it diverse.
So Example says that he, ‘Used to be Elliot now it’s just a nickname’ because he doesn't need to be called plain old Elliot anymore, he's made his mark on British music and has an identity as Example that will be sticking around in our charts for a long time.
Luke Leighfield and Jose Vanders are two singer/songwriters with great talent and poise, so a Split EP was a jolly good idea. The 4 track EP, released next week gives us Luke covering Jose and Jose covering Luke, putting an utterly refreshing spin on eachother’s craft. Both of them have a knack for songwriting, with kooky words about the prospect of turning 67 and kissing indie boys in dingy clubs, along with some more uplifting phrases along the way. It’s a simple yet very powerful record that inspires.
First up is Luke covering Jose’s, ‘Metal Detector’ the delicate piano provides the ideal companion for Leighfield’s soft vocal. He sings how your life will be, ‘so full of diamonds and so full of pearls, so full of everything that’s good in this world’ but being rich comes at a price becuase, it follows with the harmonic echoing of, ‘You will have lost the girl.’ A sharp start to the EP.
The baton is transferred to Jose, who gives her own rendition of, ‘Every Day’ open about failed excuses and ‘trying to make every day count.’ Vanders’ voice is beautifully warm and she really brings the truth within to life, ‘We won’t be young forever, we’re aging everyday and there’s no guarantee we’ll even make it through this day.’ Jose’s accompaniment includes strings, giving the track a solid foundation to run along with the high-spirited theme.
‘Man on Wire’ is offered up for Luke’s turn, the basis being the relevant fear of failure. ‘If I wrote down a 100 things that I thought that i could do by the time that I was sixty-seven, would there be another list of ninety-nine things that I’d miss just because I had a fear of failing.’ The keys vary in tone as Luke makes social plans, ‘Watching movies’ and ‘doing coffee.’ Wonderful.
‘Have You Got Heart?’ That’s the question, well this song is full of them. ‘Have you got soul? Have you got anything at all?’ Vanders questions throughout the chorus with life’s queries. This honest interrogation intensifies with a happy beat that encourages you to clap, bringing this brilliant 16 minute collection to an end.
Out 19th September on Got Got Need Records.
Danish singer/songwriter Fallulah has been testing the water and getting a feel for the UK after going down a storm in her homeland over the past year. This week she has played 3 shows in the capital in preparation for the release of her debut, ‘The Black Cat Neighbourhood’ early next year. With Fallulah’s mesmerizing voice and quirky tunes with indie, folk and pop influences characterised in her sound, I’m sure she’ll be a favourite in the UK soon enough.
How has your stay in London been?
It’s been really good. Both challenging, fun and hectic. I started out by being really ill, but I’m good now. I love the city, it’s so vibrant, and I’ve found inspiration for new songs and ideas.
I’ve just played two gigs here in London, and people have been so sweet and welcoming. I feel like there’s so much to do, and so little time, so I will definitely come back.
You’ve been a major breakthrough artist in your native Denmark, topping the singles and album charts and having had a Grammy nomination. What has been your highlight?
There are many higlights. One of the biggest is experiencing the love and warmth from the fans of my music. People in all different age groups come to my shows, and it’s reassuring to see how music can tie people together. Also it was a really big deal for me to win the Danish P3-gold award. I used to sit and watch the show at home, and dream of the day I would be standing there. It was surreal. Also, playing at Roskilde Festival was a great experience, one I’m hoping to repeat.
What would you say is the main difference between the Danish and British music scene?
I don’t know if there is much of a difference in the music. I see music as an expression of the individual, and we’re all different people. The mainstream music is ruling the charts in Denmark as well as here, but there’s a flourishing alternative scene as well.
People have likened you to Kate Bush, Marina and the Diamonds and Lykke Li, who do you cite your influences from?
I don’t think any artist really wants to be compared to other artists, but it’s hard to avoid. At least I love the artists I get compared to. I’m just my own person, my songs are extremely personal, so I just hope that translates in my music. Writing has always been my creative output, it’s the reason I’m sane.
Where did the name of your debut, ‘The Black Cat Neighbourhood’ come from?
I named it “The Black Cat Neighbourhood” because I had a job working nights, and in the mornings when I needed to get the train back home, on my way to the station I passed this little street. On the street there would sit a black cat in almost every driveway, and stare at me. When you’ve been up all night, you can get a little hallucinatey, and I would get this feeling that I was a trespasser. That these cats guarded their community, and I wasn’t welcome. They looked the same, lived in the same hood, and could communicate. That feeling translated to how I had been feeling, when I grew up. I had some pretty turbulent years, where my family moved away from Copenhagen, to the middle of nowhere in the countryside. I didn’t fit in, and I always felt like I wasn’t really accepted by my surroundings.
‘The Black Cat Neighbourhood’ is being released over here in early 2012, can we expect a tour along with the release?
The details around my release is still being worked out, but I really hope I will get to tour the UK. It’s been on top of my list for ages.
Finally, if you had to sum up your debut in three words what would they be?
Melodic, organic, soulful.
‘I Lay My Head’
‘Give Us A Little Love’
Sheffield duo Slow Club are back with new single, ‘Where I’m Waking’ ahead of their second album, ‘Paradise.’ Their folk-rock sound sets them apart and they’ve got the whole male/female duo thing down to an art. They both cry, ‘You’ve got something, I’ve got something’. Yes, they both have something, something to sing about. Though with their musical chemistry it’s hard to believe that they have never been romantically involved with each other. A song of the promising sort, ‘Paradise’ is destined for greatness.
A happy sounding song. Danish ex-balleina, Nanna Øland Fabricius or ‘Oh land’ if you prefer, chimes in with her mystical words about dreams being under her pillow over the tapping beat and pulsing keys to charm your ears. Her self-titled record, is out now and you may even recognise track, ‘Son Of A Gun.’
The Drums are back this week with their new offering, ‘Portamento.’ ‘Money’ is the first single from the album and it’s a developed sound from the indie-pop trio. It still has the upbeat rhythm and an intericate guitar riff similar to, ‘Lets Go Surfing’ but it sounds suitably more mature. Singer Jonathan Pierce bravely confesses, ‘I want to buy you something, but I don’t have any money.’ The story of our lives really.
James Blake & Bon Iver – Falls Creek Boys Choir
It’s been the collaboration that everyone wanted to hear because of the great amount of diversity between the two artists. Yes, American Folk band, Bon Iver and London’s Prince of Dubstep, James Blake have joined forces. At a first glance, it seems weird but as you listen to it you realise that it’s not actually that weird at all. Bon Iver and James Blake both make beautiful, spine-tingling music in their own field, so why wouldn’t this be good? As with any James Blake song, it will take several listens to fully appreciate and understand but believe me, it’s worth it!
Ed Sheeran is in town tonight to play two shows at The Hippodrome. Eager fans have swarmed to the venue in their hundreds as early as they can, in a desperate bid to get a spot near the barrier so they are in touching distance of their beloved Ed.
The High-pitched screams signal Ed’s arrival on to the stage as the somewhat awkward 20 year-old singer/songwriter begins his short but very sweet set with, ‘The City.’ The crowd yell the words back in admiration. The melodic ‘Homeless’ is up next, followed by ‘The A Team.’ The song that really catapulted his acoustic nature into the limelight of the acclaimed pop world, gaining him the sturdy fan base that is a justification of all the hard work that determined Sheeran has put in over the past few years to achieve his goals. The beautiful, ‘Wafering Stranger’ is delivered impeccably in it’s folky manner as the audience attempt to sing their own rendition of the hushed tones. Better off just leaving it to Ed next time, eh? As the opening bars of, ‘You Need Me, I Dont Need You’ are caught by the ears in the room, everyone takes a deep breath to enable them to keep up with him for the uber-cool rap parts and improvs that separate Ed from the rest of the music world and make him special.
Today is an early wake up call for We Are The Ocean on the main stage, such a great achievement for the London boys. They’re one of the most talented young bands around and its a pleasure to see them rip up that stage. The only area for improvement would be to play one or two of their older tracks, but they did play, ‘Nothing Good Has Happened Yet.’ That’s good enough for me.
Taking Back Sunday. Yes they’re good, they’ve written some decent tracks over the years. But there is one fundamental thing that lets them down, the arrogance of frontman Adam Lazzara. I know it’s part of him and the act but it just doesn’t give the set a good vibe. None the less, there are some hardcore fans around who must be used to it. ‘Make Damn Sure’ ends their stage stint on a high.
To the Festival Republic tent I go to witness the delightful Dutch Uncles. I’ve only seen the Manc indie act acoustic so today was the chance to see the ‘real’ them. There’s something refreshing about them as they plough through their set, ending with ‘Lovebone.’ There is a gap in the market for them and it’s widening as time goes by.
Kyle Falconer’s band, The View take a stab at leaving their mark on the main stage mid-afternoon but it’s a somewhat failed attempt. Sure its a polished set, but ‘Same Jeans’ is the only song to emerge from their number one debut, ‘Hats Off To The Buskers.’ I think many were slightly baffled by their decision. Anyhoo, ‘Same Jeans’ gets the reception it deserves.
It’s now that time of the day for absolute carnage. Enter Shikari obtain their rightful place on the stage and are greeted by thousands of people who are ready to let themselves go for the next hour of their lives, as well as extra security reinforcements who glare at the crowd, looking a bit uneasy. They know that all hell is about to break loose on the crowd surfing front. Many bow to peer pressure as their mates enjoy being lifted over the screaming sea of crushed fans. Frontman Rou Reynolds remains energetic and fearless for the entire set, after arriving on stage looking like a hoodie. Baseball cap and all.
Out with the physical abuse to the crowd in with something with a more chilled vibe. Hawaii is about to descend on to the murky skies of Reading. Welcome Friendly Fires. As soon as the opening bars to ‘Lovesick’ are apparent, Ed Macfarlane wastes no time at all in getting his notorious groove on. A slick performance made even slicker with a brass entourage and some exotic hula dancers.
I’ve been engulfed by most of the ‘preps’ of the festival in the Festival Republic tent. Bearing in mind that this is the smallest tent in the arena, they push and shove so they can catch the faintest glimpse of their chart hero, Ed Sheeran. Ed has shown this year that hard work really does pay off, he’s gone from selling cd’s from his rucksack to having a top 5 single. Numerous verses and stories elongate his set and rapper Mikill Pane joins him as they perform the eye-opening, ‘Little Lady’ which gets a triumphant response.
A certain west country trio have had the festival field raving and their loyal fans have been out in force, waiting patiently at the barrier all day enduring all the bands they hate so they can be as close to their favourites to end the weekend. Muse give the performance of their lives, playing ‘Origin of Symmetry’ to it’s entirety before playing crowd pleasers including, ‘Starlight’, ‘Supermassive Blackhole’ and ‘Uprising.’ Fire is released from the front of the stage, giving everyone a short burst of warmth as Matt Bellamy and Co show why they are known as the best live band on the planet.
As fireworks send the weekend out with a bang, the specators look up in silence reminsing of the past few days (and secretly worrying if their tent would still be there when they got back to the campsite, after all it is the last night, crazy.)