Live: Ley Lines Festival, Oxford, 15/10/11

Ley Lines is a new festival which comes with a reassuring sense of ambition and renewal. Moving from venue to venue in Oxford’s cultural hub, it feels like things are on the up; drawing bands from around the country to a varied set of venues, this is surely the most exciting new live event the region has seen in some time.

An event I’d been excited about for some time, the inaugural Ley Lines urban festival in Oxford two weeks back was a great thing to cover. Featuring photos from Stevie Denyer, my TLOBF review includes thoughts on the likes of Jamie Woon, Catherine A.D. (pictured), and much-hyped acts Alt J and Theme Park.

Read the rest of the review at The Line of Best Fit

Live: Visions of Trees – The Jericho, Oxford, 20/10/11

Within the Oxford music scene the Jericho Tavern is a little off the beaten track in more ways than one. Much more so than the O2 Academy on bustling Cowley Road, the pub’s long and narrow upstairs music room has built a reputation for hosting intimate shows by up-and-coming independent and alternative artists. Tonight, its stage becomes a sort of theatre of the surreal as London electronic duo and bloggers’ favourites Visions of Trees play a potent but oddly under-attended show which sees them joined by some amusingly inappropriate support.

After one of the worst gigs I’ve seen came one of the oddest – but despite the poor attendance London electro duo Visions of Trees were something to behold when they came to Oxford promoting their new single “Sirens (Novocaine)”.

Read the rest of the review at The Line of Best Fit

 

Live: Benjamin Francis Leftwich – O2 Academy Oxford, 18/10/11

The posters and flyers for tonight’s show at Oxford’s O2 Academy bore the proud announcement that the event had been “upgraded due to demand”. While one might have hoped that the moving of the gig into the far larger downstairs area was due to increased attention earned by support act Daughter in recent weeks, this idea does not last long. Instead, the venue is packed with fans of our profoundly lacklustre headliner who show a shocking level of disrespect towards his far superior support. Before our eyes, what began as a source of real excitement is “upgraded” into a showcase for much of what can go wrong in a live context.

Recently I went to cover one of the worst gigs I’ve ever known – a rude crowd destroyed support sets by Monument Valley and deservedly-hyped Daughter, then fell obediently silent for almost bafflingly poor Benjamin Francis Leftwich.

Read the full review at The Line of Best Fit here

In Photos: Summer Sundae 2011

My coverage of Summer Sundae for The Line of Best Fit contained a few ace photos taken by Stevie Denyer, but there are a lot more yet to be seen. Here’s a small selection of great snaps that didn’t make it onto my article, featuring Bellowhead (above), Toots & the Maytals, We Three and the Death Rattle, The Antlers, Blood Red Shoes, The Heartbreaks and Newton Faulkner. Check them out below.

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Festival Diary: Summer Sundae 2011

Country-wide riots that threatened to spread to Leicester; talk of folding festivals due to an over-saturated market; bands left unpaid for performances at earlier events struck by financial turmoil – this year’s Summer Sundae was preceded by a flurry of bad news. However, with a passion and verve typical of one of the nation’s most celebrated small festivals, Leicester’s premier music event was able to overcome the atmosphere of unease and deliver another quality weekend fueled by performances from both experienced heavyweights and promising new bands playing across four stages.

I was lucky enough to be able to make for Leicester to cover the city’s premier music event for the second year running, and once again Summer Sundae did not disappoint. I’ve again penned a review for The Line of Best Fit, a little more concise than last year’s but significantly improved by the fantastic photos of Blood Red Shoes, Warpaint, Benjamin Francis Leftwich and Everything Everything taken by my friend Stevie Denyer.

Read the rest of the review at The Line of Best Fit

Live in Berlin: Jim Kroft w/ Ben Barritt

“The bustling Kreuzberg district was the site of my last gig in Berlin, but today provides almost as big a contrast as one could imagine. I have come to an industrial estate in the city’s leafy southern suburbs, to a looming former brewery on Bessemerstrasse. The “Malzfabrik” or “malt factory” was erected in 1914 but is now a dynamic arts venue and business premises. Today it hosts a free summer party with music, arts and crafts, and the sustainable produce that is all the rage in the city. What draws me here are the songs of Jim Kroft…”

Read the rest of the gig review at The Line of Best Fit

To see Scottish pop-rock singer-songwriter Jim Kroft live was a long-held ambition of mine, finally achieved in Berlin last week. My TLOBF live review also includes coverage of the performance by Kroft’s long-time collaborator Ben Barritt as well as a rare appearance of my attempts at photography. Below the cut, see the video for the new single ‘The Jailer’.

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Live in Berlin: The Leisure Society

The Leisure Society at Festsaal Kreuzberg

Well in a very real way, this is one of the most exciting bits of music writing I’ve so far been able to do. On Tuesday night here in Berlin, I travelled on the U-Bahn down to hip Kreuzberg to visit the Festsaal, or “banquet hall”, once a Turkish wedding venue but now a key centre for gigs. Top of the bill were folk-popsters The Leisure Society, promoting their new second LP Into the Murky Water.

I couldn’t help but put together full coverage of the gig for The Line of Best Fit, which is live now. Both The Leisure Society and support band The Lost Boys were a joy to behold and it was a great experience to cover my first show abroad. Tomorrow, all being well, I’ll cover my second – Jim Kroft, among others, plays the one-day summer festival “Malzwiesse” at former brewery the Malzfabrik.

Reviewed: Swimming in Stoke


“Nothing can come between us now” falsettos John during ‘Team Jetstream’ – if this show had not been at a near-empty venue but instead in a packed stadium, the sentiment would have been just as true.’

Nottingham’s wonderful Swimming remain one of my top UK bands right now, and last week I finally found myself with a second opportunity to see them live. The band’s tour is ongoing at the moment, but it began in Stoke on April 27th and as promised I covered the show for TLOBF, after I got my chance to meet the chaps behind the instruments. Criminally, barely anyone turned up, but the band were superb as ever and the support from Maps of Columbus and Foreign Office was impressive too. Check out my review here.

Live Review: Yarns / LWP / The Epstein

“There is much talk of Oxford possessing a music scene which punches above its weight these days. Although only a small city with a handful of music venues, it has in recent years produced the likes of Foals, Stornoway and The Epstein.”

Cinematic folk-rock band The Epstein played The Bullingdon Arms in their native Oxford last Thursday and I was lucky enough to be there and to cover the show for TLOBF. Support came from fellow local boys The Yarns and also from London twee folk-popsters Left With Pictures, who I’ve wanted to catch live for a long while now. Maybe the best thing about the show was that Sebastian Reynolds of Keyboard Choir, who is also a long-time TLOBF scribe, is now a full member of The Epstein and consequently I finally got to meet a second TLOBF contributor.

If you head over and take a peep at the review, you’ll see that Johnny Moto very kindly provided us with some excellent live photography of the headliners. More live stuff coming up: I’m about to write up the show that the amazing Swimming played at the Sugarmill in Stoke last night.

Japanese Voyeurs Reviewed in Stoke

London-based five-piece Japanese Voyeurs, most often labelled with membership of what is being called the “grunge revival”, were dramatically outclassed by their support when they played a rescheduled show at Stoke’s 400-capacity Sugarmill on Wednesday night.

It’s been a while since I saw a show at The Sugarmill, but I was glad I got to go there on Wednesday night. The headliners may have been Japanese Voyeurs, but it was instead local boys Troops of Mafeking who completely dominated the proceedings with a superb and immaculate set. Do have a peep at my review of what went on for TLOBF, and do check out the Troops’ myspace.

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