Thursday, 9 August 2012

Live Review: The Skints @ The Winchester, Bournemouth - 04/08/12

Kicking of the evening are local ska band, Know One. The seven-piece are more than capable of the task and get the crowd skanking right from the first note. Looking slick in their black shirt, red tie uniform they deliver a great set of classic ska, and although their tracks become a little drawn-out and repetitive at times, they manage to keep the party atmosphere going.

Next up, The Bots have no trouble keeping the energy levels sky high. Fresh from supporting Brit legends Blur no less, the two brothers, aged just 18 and 14, put on a remarkable performance. It may not be ska, but tonight’s crowd are more than happy to jump around to their aggressive punk with driving guitar and furious drums. At times it feels like we’re watching them jam in their bedroom at home which, at best, gives the set a raw feel but at worst is a little messy. Slower track ‘Dinosaur’ doesn’t quite hit the mark and a bizarre synthesizer solo is an assault on the ears but when they hit their stride and flash their cheeky grins it’s hard not to be impressed with what these young boys have achieved.

The Skints soon arrive on stage and show just why so many have come out to see them tonight. They really are a perfectly formed band with each member bringing something unique to the mix. Jon Doyle is a true master on the bass, providing the intricate yet easy-going backbone to each track. Josh Waters Rudge on vocals injects a bit of cockney into their sound, giving the group’s summery reggae a more mainstream, King Blues-esque feel. Marcia Richards is the jewel in the crown with her smooth voice and ability to play almost any instrument, from keyboard to flute. Whilst Jamie Kyriakides is the unlikely hero, proving that men can indeed multitask with expert drumming and effortless vocals. Every song of their set sounds like a sure-fire hit and the audience find it impossible not to move along with the music. Although it doesn’t feel like August outside, in The Winchester tonight it certainly is a warm summer’s evening in paradise.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Album review: Motion City Soundtrack - Go

Growing up is something that we all have to do. But sadly, the taxes and bills of our adult lives are no match for the playground fun of our youth. Motion City Soundtrack have done a lot of growing up on their fifth album 'Go', and existing fans might be a little disappointed at the lack of energy as a result.

Many of the tracks start off powerful and full of promise but promptly fizzle out, something which can also be said for the album in general.

There is still some of that old MCS magic to be found. 'TrueRomance' has an infectious ‘pop hit’ vibe that could rival pop princess and phone tease Carly Rae Jepsen’s chart-topper 'Call Me Maybe', and 'Timelines' is another stand out track featuring frontman Justin Pierre’s famous lyrical stylings. Yet these are simply teasing the lovers of the first four albums.

The lyrics on 'Go' certainly take a turn for the philosophical, with the beautiful 'Everyone Will Die' and catchy 'Timelines' standing out in particular. Of course Pierre has always covered deep and dark subjects in his lyrics, but this time the music seems to match. Instead of contradicting stories of depression and relationship troubles with upbeat synth laden pop rock, this record sees MCS adopt a heavier, more laboured sound that sadly causes them to blend in with the crowd.

This change may appeal to new listeners as there are still moments of momentum and originality, yet loyal fans are likely to find themselves longing for the playground fun of the past. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A Bit On The Side: The story of the rock star entrepreneur

Check out my final year university project:

Not content with rocking out for 24 hours a day, some of our best loved rock stars are intent on becoming businessmen as well. Joanna Stass tracked down three rock star entrepreneurs to talk about the story behind their business ventures…

A Bit On The Side: The story of the rock star entrepreneur

Interview: All Time Low

Due to formatting issues with Blogger, this post can be viewed here: 

Thursday, 1 March 2012

All Time Low @ Southampton Guildhall, 02/02/12

Three courses of pure pop punk goodness are due to be served up at Southampton Guildhall this evening. Fans have been salivating at the doors of the venue since 10am, wrapped in duvets to protect themselves from sub-zero temperatures. As they pile inside, the hysteria mounts, with high pitched screams rippling through the building every time a roadie appears on stage.

Tonight’s starter comes in the form Poughkeepsie quintet  We Are The In Crowd. Their old school Fall Out Boy-esque sound , although lacking in much originality, perfectly whets the appetite of the eager crowd. It would be easy to compare leading lady Tay Jardine to a certain Paramore frontwoman, but truth is, the similarities are uncanny, with the two sharing an almost identical vocal style and image. However, something is missing. Tay lacks the stage presence and certain je ne sais quoi of Williams. At times she is almost inaudible as she squeaks into the microphone.

The Maine are unfortunately tonight’s main course. They  serve up a bland and over-cooked performance, choosing to mainly play their newer middle-of-the- road material. They drag on for a dull 45 minutes and, at times, it feels as if no one has told them they aren’t actually headlining this evening.

Eventually it’s time for everyone’s favourite course, dessert. All Time Low are met by a shower of bras as they take to the stage. They deliver their famous sugary sweet pop punk with a hard to ignore swagger, spooning on all their big hits such as ‘Timebomb’ and ‘I Feel Like Dancin’’. However, like most desserts, it’s all over too quickly, as frontman Alex Gaskarth announces that they will have to cut the set short. It was clear right from the start that Alex was struggling with his voice and his distress is heart breaking to watch. Jack Barakat, with a cheesy grin that could rival Elmo, does his best to boost moral, covering for his bandmate’s lack of stage banter. But Alex is determined not to disappoint and does his best to get through a solo performance of ‘Remember Sunday’, leaving the stage with fans adoringly chanting his name. Although 20 minutes early, their encore makes up for their short set, with a trio of classics; ‘Weightless’, ‘Lost In Stereo’ and ‘Dear Maria’. It may have only been a fleeting visit but All Time Low don’t depart without leaving a tip for the fans, as they announce they will be returning to the UK next summer. So get ready to book your table for what is sure to be a big festival appearance. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Panic! At The Disco @ Southampton Guildhall, 01/02/12

A sold out Southampton Guildhall stands to attention when Australian four-piece Me burst on stage with a ginormous dramatic opening number of chants and fist pumping. However, it soon become clear that that their gigantic sound is mainly down to the over-use of echoing vocal sound effects and over-hyped guitar solos. It’s shame as lead singer Luke Ferris clearly has an interesting and powerful voice – think Brain Molko from Placebo – but it begins to feel gimmicky as over-production takes hold. The bands emo image, complete with imitation My Chemical Romance Black Parade jackets, also feels a little ‘done to death in the early 2000s’.

The real fun soon begins when Panic! At The Disco take to the stage, which is decorated in the style of a mad scientist’s workshop. Uplifting opener ‘Ready To Go’ is bouncier than Tigger on a trampoline and early tracks 'I Write Sins…' and 'The Only Difference…' seem to be given a new lease of life alongside the new material. There is a nice mixture of tracks from the first and latest album in tonight’s set, although very little from the more folky second album ‘Pretty. Odd.’ – perhaps due to its disappointing critical reception. However ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ and ‘That Green Gentleman’ do make an appearance and the crowd seem more than happy to sing along. The supurb and underrated ‘New Perspective’ – written for the soundtrack of lesbian vampire flick Jennifer’s Body - is also given an airing by the Las Vegas rockers. Brendon Urie proves himself to be a fantastic showman, with back flips off the drum riser and bizarre monologues between songs, some of which become a little cringeworthy. For example, there is evident shuffling of feet and embarrassed faces when Urie announces that ‘Lying Is The Most Fun…’ is about "fucking people you don’t know" to a crowd consisting predominantly of young teenagers supervised by their parents.

The most bizarre thing about tonight’s set though, is Brendon’s high-pitched metal screams which he throws in at various points during the night. At first they seem to be the frontman’s way of showing off his already incredible voice, however it is soon revealed that this is a warm up for their impressive cover of The Darkness’ ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’. Closing the set with the huge choruses of ‘Nearly Witches’, Panic! At The Disco have succeeded in providing tonight’s crowd with a good ol’ fashioned and unashamed bit of fun. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Darkness @ Southampton Guildhall, 17/11/11

Roll up, roll up The Darkness are in town, ready to deliver a deliciously camp and crazy spectacle. But before the main event, the members of Foxy Shazam treat the stage like a climbing frame, storming through their bizarre camp rock. Lead singer, and Noel Fielding lookalike, Eric Sean Nally behaves like he’s polished off all the pick ’n’ mix in Wilkinsons, pausing only to reel off his trippy monologues. Their exuberant, honest tracks, peppered with a few kooky Kate Bush moments, leave the crowd in a confused yet impressed silence.

The Darkness soon appear after a very dull and drawn out intro song. To the disappointment of some, frontman Justin Hawkins has opted for a rather conservative waistcoat as opposed to his usual second skin catsuit. But never fear, a costume change later on soon sees to that. Tonight’s set is peppered with a few new tracks from next year’s new release, but they noticeably fall a little flat on tonight’s crowd. It’s hard to beat the classics, with ‘Get Your Hands Of My Woman’ and ‘Love Is Only A Feeling’ leaving everyone grinning like the Cheshire cat.

The Darkness are clearly used to gracing larger stages as their impressive pyrotechnics leave the Guildhall struggling to cope with the smoke, but once it clears they give us all a festive treat. Their 2003 Christmas number one, accompanied by a snow machine, is enough to leave even the scrooge’s amongst the crowd with a warm fuzzy feeling. Justin, with his new candy cane/Dr Zeus inspired catsuit and voice that only dogs can hear, is clearly the bands greatest asset, delivering great banter with the crowd and commanding the stage like a circus ringmaster. Nevertheless, supurb guitar solos from his brother Dan are not to be ignored, in fact the whole band are gelling well together again. Looking at tonight’s expansive crowd of young and old it is clear that The Darkness are not one hit wonders, now they just need to prove they can still churn out hits.