Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

On Friday night The Feeling concluded their Together We Were Made tour at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. The nine date tour took them to Bournemouth, Bristol, Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Manchester and London.

I went to two of the shows, Nottingham (Rock City) and London, here’s what I thought.

For the first 7 dates of the tour electro-pop band, Bronze Medallists opened the show. Their set included debut single ‘Mathematics’ and the instantly catchy ‘Headspace (It’s Your Birthday)’ (seriously, you’ll be whistling it for weeks after!) which they dedicated to a member of the audience who’s birthday it was.

For the last two dates, Sinéad and The Dawnbreakers opened the show. Their 60’s Rockabilly style defies anybody not to dance. Having seen them a few times now, I must say they just get better and better and Shepherd’s Bush Empire gave them a very warm reception. They opened with ‘Can’t Please ‘Em All’  and got everyone clicking their fingers along to ‘What Would I Do?’ For me the highlight of the set was the upbeat, ‘Don’t Pretend’.

Danish songwriter Mads Langer also supported throughout the tour playing tracks from his debut album ‘Behold’. He opened with the delicate ‘The River Has Run Wild’ and got the audience joining in with the harmonies of ‘Fact-Fiction’ which was a wonderful moment.

The Feeling opened with a new tour video, featuring some of the band’s most loyal fans singing along to some of their biggest hits. It was fantastic to see the energy explode in the room on both nights as the drums of ‘Set My World On Fire’ sounded out.

The evening proceeded with fan favourites ‘Fill My Little World’ and ‘Never Be Lonely’ which as ever, got everyone clapping and singing along.

‘Say No’ sounded heartbreaking as ever (in a good way, if that makes sense!). It’s such a powerful song, and seeing it live sends shivers down my spine every time. ‘Another Soldier’ made great use of the screen, with a black and white image of front man, Dan looming over the audience on the screen.

The band then played a stripped down, piano version of ‘Rosé’ (to coincide with their new Abbey Road recorded version of the song for Burberry) but for the final chorus they blew the audience away with full-on guitars. This lead into the almighty ‘Helicopter’ from debut ‘Twelve Stops & Home’.

The band have been playing their duet, ‘Leave Me Out Of It’ during the tour, with a video of Sophie Ellis Bextor on the screen behind. But at Shepherd’s Bush there was a surprise appearance from the lady herself who sang from the balcony, joining the band on stage for the final chorus.

Possibly the highlight of the set for me was ‘Still You Want More’. They played the track from the second disc of their double album after a fan vote on their facebook page. It was nice to hear them play a slightly rarer song, and one that is a personal favourite of mine. It has been getting a massive cheer from the crowd throughout the tour and it was performed perfectly. I hope they continue to play songs from ‘The Bees’ in the future. This flowed brilliantly into their 2006 hit, ‘Sewn’.

They kept the energy high with latest single ‘A Hundred Sinners’, Paul Simon cover ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and Roisin Murphy duet ‘Dance For The Lights’ (sadly no appearance from Roisin though).  The set ended, as ever with ‘Love It When You Call’, which even got the balconies bouncing.

They gave us an encore of ‘I Thought It Was Over’, ‘Undeniable’ (during which, their old spiral graphic made a reappearance on-screen) and finished with Join With Us, before launching into a mental improv, throwing a space hopper into the audience and completely trashing the drum kit!

The Feeling were on top form for the tour and the production was slick. Next morning – sore feet, sore neck, ears ringing – the sign of a great night out!


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After ‘This Ain’t A Love Song’ was released from their second album ‘Everybody Wants To Be On TV’, I have to say I switched off from Scouting For Girls. Their style just seemed so ‘samey’ and repetitive that I felt, once you’ve heard ‘She’s So Lovely’ you’ve pretty much heard all Scouting For Girls have to offer. However, having recently stumbled upon ‘Love How It Hurts’ I feel ready to give Scouting For Girls another chance.

I must say that I am very impressed. After (I feel) a very repetitive sounding first two records, ‘Love How It Hurts’ is refreshing to hear. Having said this, it isn’t the most groundbreaking song in the world – something you could easily hear Westlife or The Script releasing, with a fairly generic structure within pop music. Yet there is something about it that makes me want to listen over and over again.

There is no doubt that Scouting For Girls have always been able to produce catchy pop-music, but it was always that little bit too repetitive. Their first album particularly seemed a little childish, they seemed to be playing it quite safe with very simple songs. With ‘Love How It Hurts’ I think they have shown potential. It’s still fairly simple, but just has that edge of something a little bit more. Scouting For Girls have grown up.

As I said before, it isn’t the most ground-breaking song ever written, but it’s certainly a start. Who knows in a few years time they may even produce an entirely original album!


‘Love How It Hurts’ was released on 10th July. A bonus track edition of ‘Everybody Wants To Be On TV’ including this track is expected later on this year.

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Ok, so as this is an album of two halves, I thought I would review each disc separately.

It’s been over 3 years since their second album ‘Join With Us’ topped our charts, but now The Feeling are back with their third album, ‘Together We Were Made’. There is a single and double disc version of the album, The two discs are referred to as ‘The Birds and The Bees’.

So, let’s start with the first disc – The Birds;

The album begins with the familiar sound of lead single ‘Set My World On Fire’ which has recently had a lot of airplay on Radio 2 and was the BBC’s soundtrack to the cricket world cup. As you may have seen in my recent review of the single, it’s a sun-drenched, catchy pop tune with a calypso beat you’ll be tapping along to all day!

The overall feel of the album seems much more slick and sophisticated than some of their previous material. The band have worked with producers The Bullitts on track 8 of the album, ‘Mr.Grin’, polishing the track to perfection, emphasised by the honkey-tonk piano outro. Freemasons also helped to produce the album, who’s influence is most noticeable on glitter covered dance track ‘Searched Every Corner’.

The band have claimed in several interviews that there is a more ‘grown-up’ and ‘experimental’ feel to the songs on ‘Together We Were Made’. One such song where this really comes through is ‘Another Soldier’, a heavy guitar-based track made to head-bang to. ‘Build A Home’ continues this experimentation, showing off the band’s spangly new omnichord, whilst ‘A Hundred Sinners (Come And Get It)’ is a typical Feeling song, and possibly the catchiest yet!

As well as working with The Freemasons on the album, The Feeling have also collaborated with the likes of Sophie Ellis Bextor and Roisin Murphy on the wistful ‘Leave Me Out Of It’ and disco-centric ‘Dance For The Lights’ (respectively). There is a lot of variation throughout the album in terms of style and genre. And like any good record, this comes with a variety of moods – you can be bouncing one minute and weeping the next!

For me, the highlight of the album has to be the ballad, ‘Say No’. For those who’ve read my review of The Water Rats gig from last year, you will know that this track has always been a favorite of mine, and they have just got the production spot on for the album. The guitar solo in the middle is phenomenal and the song builds up to such a climax, with the additional vocals of Sinead Quinn, Marva Lamey and Jasmine Denham. It still sends shivers down my spine just like it did the first time I heard it. Perfect.

Another highlight for me is ‘Another Life’. The twinkly piano, combined with the 12 string guitar give the song excitement that just makes you wanna bounce! I felt like a kid again this afternoon jumping up and down, punching the air and yelling ‘Hey Hey Hey Hey!’ at the top of my voice. Nothing beats that feeling.

‘Back Where I Came From’ is a really powerful and heartfelt track, filled with nostalgia, which is complemented by piano lead ‘Love And Care’.

The album closer ‘Undeniable’, is another epic, following in the footsteps of ‘Blue Piccadilly’ and ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ from the previous two albums. Having seen the song performed live before the orchestral arrangement for the album really completes the song.

And those who buy the physical version of the album are treated to bonus track ‘Hardest Stone’, a 60’s-esque acoustic song, at the end of the album.

It’s not often you get an album that you literally cannot stop listening to. By the fourth listen I was trying to pick favorites, and it has changed at least 26 times over the last 24 hours. There’s certainly a progression and variation of musical style throughout, but at it’s heart ‘Together We Were Made’ is still a typical Feeling record, with lyrics that can break your heart and riffs that command you to dance.


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Who could forget 2006 when The Feeling burst onto the scene with ‘Twelve Stops And Home’. The debut album spawned hit after hit singles such as, ‘Sewn’, ‘Fill My Little World’ and ‘Love It When You Call’. This success continued into 2008 landing the band a number one album with ‘Join With Us’.

Now the guys are back with new single ‘Set My World On Fire’, do they have another hit on their hands?

Well, it’s been over a year since I first heard the song, acoustically in a bar in South London and then I instantly fell in love with it. It’s upbeat, catchy and just makes you wanna dance – everything a Feeling song should be! As I write this I have the song blaring out, with the sun shining in through the window – I am in Heaven.

Having known the song for over a year it has been great for me to watch it evolve and develop over that time, and hearing the final mix just brings back so many memories of hearing it live. It also means that I can assure you it stands the test of time, it still sounds just as fresh as the first time I heard it, and I can tell it’ll stay firmly stuck in my head for years to come!

And as always with The Feeling there are some beautiful, heartfelt lyrics in there like ‘I can feel you in my heart, every time we part’ which is reinforced with a heartbeat-style drumbeat running through the song. But the line that really sums the song up for me is this: ‘It’s a little bit more than I ever hoped for!’.

‘Set My World On Fire’ is just perfect for a sunny day. It has the ability to put a smile on your face whenever you hear it, which for me is what perfect pop music is all about.


‘Set My World On Fire’ is released on 2nd May, followed by The Feeling’s third album ‘Together We Were Made’ on 20th June.

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Take That. They dominated our charts in the early 90’s producing two of the best-selling albums of the decade, before their split in 1996. Since their return in 2006 their popularity has grown phenomenally, leading to their latest album, ‘Progress’ becoming the fastest selling album of the century and the second fastest selling album of all-time.

On Saturday night, I went to the Ipswich Regent to see Back For Good, one of the most critically acclaimed Take That tribute acts around. Back For Good are: Dan Maines (Gary Barlow), Matt Hall (Mark Owen), Steven Craven (Howard Donald) and Jay MacGregor (Jason Orange) with the recent addition of Tony Lewis as Robbie Williams.

But are they as good as the real thing?

And the simple answer, is yes. I was really blown away by their performance.  Matt and Dan are vocally stunning, and having seen Take That several times before I can safely say they’ve got their performance off to a tee. You can tell that a lot of work has gone into this show, the attention to detail is immaculate, from the costumes and set right down to each members individual mannerisms. In fact, the only thing they were short of was an elephant!

They opened the show, with Greatest Day, mimicking The Circus Tour, which was followed up with Hello – in which the guys came down into the audience to say ‘hello’!

This was followed with old favorite ‘Could It Be Magic’, Take That’s comeback single ‘Patience’, and a polished performance of the inconceivably impossible ‘Pray’ dance.

They played all the old favorites throughout the night ‘Relight My Fire’, ‘A Million Love Songs’ and even the Clown Medley from The Circus tour in 2009. Which brings me on to a topic which often causes much debate. Which are better, small gigs or big gigs? Personally I’ve always been on the side of small gigs, and the evidence from Back For Good certainly supports that. They could do all the same routines (all be it scaled-down) yet they could also connect with the audience in a way that you never could in a big stadium.

A few of the new ‘Progress’ tracks were also thrown in towards the end, starting with ‘The Flood’. I was pleasantly surprised to see ‘SOS’ in there aswell. I hadn’t expected it as it isn’t a single, but their performance had so much energy! It’s a song that from first listen I’ve always thought will work well live, so I look forward to how the real Take That perform it in the summer.

We were also treated to a beautiful rendition of ‘8 Letters’. I’ve got to say, even though among the Take That fans the song is often seen as a favorite, it never really grabbed me hearing it on the record. However, I think it could just be one of those songs that sound so much better when you hear them live. For the first time, I really got into this song that night.

‘Up All Night’ and ‘Hold Up A Light’ brought the audience to their feet, leading to the guys sitting on the edge of the stage for a nostalgia filled performance of ‘Back For Good’.

They Finished the show with ‘Rule The World’ and an encore of the undeniably brilliant ‘Never Forget’.

I do wish we’d had some input from the ‘Beautiful World’ tour – ‘Reach Out’ and ‘Beautiful World’ for example are some of my favorite Take That songs. However I do understand how difficult it must be to put together a set list which will please all the fans – you can’t have it all!

I would highly recommend this show to any Take That fans out there – particularly if you’re gutted on missing out on tickets to the Progress tour. It’s a fantastic night out, and not to be missed!

Check out the Back For Good website and Facebook page.

Photos courtesy of Ramona Crofts.

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It’s been a long time since November 2008. That was the last time The Feeling toured. Since then, fans have only seen the band at festivals and a few little shows – such as the Water Rats shows last May, in which the band showcased some of their new material to their most loyal fans. The Search Every Corner tour was basically a continuation of these shows, with most venues only holding 400 – 500 people. You can check out my review from the Water Rats show here.  

I attended two of the shows on the tour – the Roadmender in Northampton on the 11th and Chinnerys at Southend on the 18th.

The shows kicked off with ‘Set My World On Fire’, which is set to be the first single, released 14th March. It’s sounding incredible with its new intro, and a few altered lyrics in there. Something I really love is hearing songs progress over time, and I think it’s wonderful to be able to look back to the first time I heard this song live, acoustically in a bar in South London, and to see how it’s evolved since then. I loved it then, and I love it even more now! This was followed by classic crowd pleaser, ‘Fill My Little World’.

The first of the ‘new-new’ songs (new songs which weren’t played at the Water Rats shows) played was ‘Another Life’. This was one which I instantly loved, and by the second of the two shows I knew all the words. The 12 string guitar lends the song an elegance which is complimented by a keyboard melody that easily gets stuck in your head. And there are some beautiful lyrical ideas in there as well. This was followed by ‘Never Be Lonely’, which always gets the crowd going with audience participation.

My favorite song from the Water Rats shows (and still my favorite now) was ‘Say No’. It still has just as much impact as the first time I heard it and I cannot wait to hear the final recording with Beverly Knight. This was followed up with a powerful performance of ‘Rosé’.

‘Another Soldier’, which was a clear favorite amongst the fans from the Water Rats shows kept the energy going, leading to a nostalgia filled performance of ‘Sewn’.

Next up was ‘Searched Every Corner’ which they collaborated with The Freemasons on. They made 1,000 CD’s with the track on which they were selling at the gigs. It’s fantastic to hear the song finally mixed. I defy anyone to hear this song and not have ‘back back back’ stuck in your head all day! This lead excellently into another ‘new-new’ song, ‘Dance For Lights’, which is also intensely catchy. Two fantastic dance tracks, covered in glitter, which I can easily hear being played in night-clubs.

They finished the set as ever, with ‘Love It When You Call’.

We were given an encore of ‘I Thought It Was Over’, which works really well for an encore – you thought it was over, but it’s not! Dan joked that as they’ve been playing the song as an opener for such a long time it felt like they’d have to play another full set!

They finished with ‘Undeniable’, which will be the final track on their upcoming album, ‘Together We Were Made’. The album title is taken from a lyric in the song. The song is another epic like ‘Blue Piccadilly’ and ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ which closed their previous two albums.

At Southend, we were also treated to ‘Join With Us’, which was dedicated to all of the fans that have followed the band on the tour.

The only thing that bothers me slightly is that ‘Seven Years’ wasn’t played at all on the tour. It had become a favorite of mine and was played a lot at festivals last summer, so I hope it still makes it to the album.

Both of the shows I went to were stunning, it’s fantastic to have The Feeling back! The tour has left me ‘feeling’ very excited for the album and a bigger tour later on this year.

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I know we’re nearing the end of January now – but I thought I’d take this opportunity to take a look back on 2010 to give you my thoughts on last years musical offering. I’m also very interested in your opinions, so do be sure to leave a comment.

January brought us the wonderful ‘dream-pop’ of Owl City’s ‘Fireflies’, a single which really captured the hearts of the nation. It was refreshing to hear something a little bit different, not just the same R&B and Dance music that’s been dominating the charts for so long. Don’t get me wrong, it has it’s place, but I just prefer to have more diversity in the charts. And no, I’m not referring to that dance group off ‘Britain’s Got Talent’…

However last January also brought the unbelievably irritating noise of Justin Bieber into our charts, who’s songs are just another bit of the same old stuff, except in a higher pitch. And this of course lead into more insufferable singles from the X-Factor manufactured JLS.

Rant over, I bring you to quite possibly my favorite month for music last year – May. At the beginning of the month we were treated to, in my opinion the best single 2010 had to offer, Sophie Ellis Bextor’s ‘Bittersweet’.  We also had ‘Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)’ by the phenomenal Muse, released as part of the ‘Twilight: New Moon’ soundtrack.

But most importantly for me, May was the month that brought my favorite gig of the year. It was of course The Feeling at The Water Rats on the 5th of the month. The band took the gig as an opportunity to preview some of the new material for their upcoming third album (expected May/June this year) to their fans. It was the place they were first signed from, so it was also a nice chance for the band to go back to their roots. Read the full review of the gig here.

The summer brought us the care-free tones of Eliza Doolittle’s ‘Pack Up’, Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ and Example’s ‘Kickstarts’, along with one of the most infuriatingly catchy tracks in all of history, ‘We Speak No Americano’. Scouting For Girls even bothered to write us a few new songs, unlike their debut album, which was full of remixes of the same song.  How thoughtful of them!

August brought us an eagerly anticipated follow-up to ‘The Trick To Life’ from The Hoosiers. ‘The Illusion Of Safety’ is full of instantly catchy tunes to really get you dancing. Initially I thought it may even be better than their debut,  but in retrospect, I feel it  just lacked something the first album had. But still a brilliant second album from them.  I Am Arrows released their debut album ‘Sun Comes Up Again’ which became Radio 2’s album of the week, and subsequently ended up being the soundtrack to my holiday!

In September, The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers went solo with ‘Flamingo’. I really feel this album was overlooked a little in the media. I would personally have said that it was the best album of the year, but if an album isn’t given the right media coverage, it just doesn’t get very far in this business. Shame.

Muse also played two nights at Wembley in September. I was at the second, which, for a big Muse fan was great as they played a few older tracks which are virtually unheard of these days; the likes of ‘Citizen Erased’ and ‘Bliss’. It was a shame that they were at the expense of more recent tracks ‘Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)’ and ‘I Belong To You’ which they had played the night before, but hey, you can’t please ’em all. A stunning performance as always.

Take That re-united with Robbie Williams this year, releasing ‘Shame’ in October. Understandably, many of us didn’t know what to make of this. Anyone can see that musically the song wasn’t brilliant. But do we just take this as a send-up? Or is this really the level we can expect from Take That and Robbie in the future?

This of course lead into Take That’s ‘Progress’ at the end of the year. Take That back as a five piece, there was so much hype surrounding this phenomenon, but does it really live up to the hype? I’m aware I may alienate a lot of people with what I’m about to say, but it’s just my opinion, please hear me out.

In my opinion, ‘Progress’ just doesn’t match up to the heights of  it’s predecessors ‘Beautiful World’ and ‘The Circus’ – both albums full of beautiful song-writing and lyrical genius. There are some stand out tracks for me ‘The Flood’ ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ and ‘SOS’ spring to mind, but the majority of them just haven’t got me hooked yet. You can say it’s a grower, but by now I would have expected it to have grown on me. It just hasn’t. And where the Hell is Gary Barlow on this album?! He only sings one song! The majority are sung by Robbie – I may aswell have purchased a Robbie Williams album!

Now I’m not saying by any stretch that it’s a bad album (and by some of the standards of recent times, it’s positively amazing!) but it’s just not up to the quality of Take That music that I’m used to. I don’t know if it’s down to Robbie, or whether (and I suspect the latter) they simply didn’t put the effort in. ‘Hey, Robbie’s back in Take That. Don’t worry, people will buy the album anyway.’ I really hope this isn’t the case, because this is not like them, but the whole album, to me, just looks like a big publicity stunt.

December also brought us a tour from Squeeze, and Sophie Ellis Bextor’s first solo tour in over three years. She did not disappoint! All of her new songs sounding fantastic leaving me very excited for the album (currently scheduled for March). Read my full review of the Sophie gig here.

And unfortunately Christmas was once again ruined by The X-Factor and Matt Cardle. It’s such a shame. Biffy Clyro’s ‘Many Of Horror’ is an awesome tune, but now it’s just another song added to the long list of X-Factor victims. It’s been given the typical X-Factor (verging on Westlife) treatment, of that generic, diabolical key change to signal the final chorus. But perhaps the most unforgivable of these sins is the name change to ‘When We Collide’. It’s unnecessary. It’s an insult to its audience really, as if to say they wouldn’t know the song if they gave it its proper title.

Is it really too much to ask to get a CHRISTMAS song to number one next year? It’s not as if no-one’s writing them! Last year we had some fantastic offerings from both The Killers and Coldplay. Rage Against The X Factor worked a treat, lets do that again but with an actual Christmas song. Now that’s something to aim for.

So what’s happening in 2011?

So, what can we look forward to this year? Well, we can expect albums from The Feeling, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Florence + The Machine, Lady GaGa, Adele, Britney Spears, R.E.M and Elbow over the coming months.

The new artist I’m most excited about for this year, and my ‘one to watch’ as they say, has to be Clare Maguire. I first discovered her when ‘You’re Electric’ was made iTunes single of the week. Since then I’ve been hearing so much about her and listening to more of her material. You can download ‘Strangest Thing’ for free from her Facebook page. Her debut album ‘Light After Dark’ will be released 28th February.

Well I’ve had my say, but now it’s your turn. What are your favorite and least favourite tracks, albums and gigs from the last year? What are you looking forward to this year?

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