Gig Review: Marika Hackman

Featured Image: Marika Hackman

On November 17h Marika Hackman brought an alternative 90s sound to Leeds with support from Our Girl.

The solo performance of Our Girl had a low key, stripped back feel that was inviting and personable.

The Wardrobe quickly filled up for Marika and the amount of glitter in the room was inspirational.

Marika Hackman brought the house down on a Friday night with her unique sound. Personal highlights included  ‘Time’s Been Reckless’ and public debut of ‘When You Sleep’

Did you know that Marika Hackman used to be in a band with model turned actress Cara Delevigne.

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Gig Review: Joe Dolman

Featured Image: Joe Dolman 

On the evening of the 15th November, I crossed over to the Fox and Newt pub in Leeds for a relaxed folky evening with Joe Dolman, Sunflower Thieves and Amy J.

3 pints of squash later and Amy J was ready to ‘Rock The Boat’ with a beautiful set mixed with her own material and covers including Passenger’s ‘Let Her Go.’

Sunflower Thieves aka Lily and Amy mix stunning close harmonies and heartfelt lyrics in their serenely calm duo set.

It was the penultimate night of tour and Joe Dolman brought ‘Something Beautiful’ to Leeds. With a mix of old and new songs and injection of soul with a Ray Charles cover Joe delivered a pure an unforgettable night.

Gig Review: Rupert Stroud

Featured image: Rupert Stroud

Rupert Stroud’s latest EP Heart and Soul has been a long time coming and it was with bubbling excitement that I entered the Belgrave last night.

Jade Helliwell opened the stage with a smattering of country classics and songs from her EP. The northern singer impressed with array of new British country sounds interlaced with pop beats.

Next up were The Dunwells or half of them in any case. The pop/rock band from Leeds have been on my radar for quite some time now but up until last night I had always managed to miss them.

With a sound that is bright, bold and somewhat heroic Joe and Dave Dunwell reminded the crowd that we are ‘The Lucky Ones’

Their acoustic cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ was really something else and perfectly showcased Joe’s incredible vocals.

The disastrous floods of Boxing Day 2015-16 affected many of music studios around Leeds and Rupert Stroud was unfortunately one of those artists. It was therefore perhaps not surprising that Rupert has been fairly quiet over the past year, opting instead to play at a number of private venues.

Rupert’s intense, gravelly vocals (even when he’s not doing his batman voice) will instantly grab you, reeling you in.

I loved hearing songs from Rupert’s widely acclaimed back catalogue including the anthemic ‘Way Back Home’ which is pure Yorkshire gold.

‘Trouble’ has always been a particular favourite of mine and I was excited to hear that the song has had a bit of makeover as ‘Demons’

Songs from the ‘Heart and Soul’ EP have a introspective take on what it means to be alive and I loved the acousticy feel of ‘Believe’

Grab your copy of the ‘Heart and Soul’ EP here or on iTunes.

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Gig Review: Dan Croll

Featured Image: Dan Croll 

The transcendent, electronic pop beats with ethereal notes from Peakes set the evening off to a great start with highlights including ‘Waves’ and ‘Spaces.’  

Outlya got the party started early, joining the queue outside the venue before the doors opened with a portable keyboard in hand.  Revving the early comers with a call and response, Outlya had us anticipating more and they definitely did not disappoint as they showed us ‘the light’ on the way to ‘heaven.’ You could even say that we were dancing around the ‘volcano.’ 

On October 16th 2014 a younger version of myself stood in the very same room as I am now (said room being The Wardrobe in Leeds) and that is basically the story of how I fell in love with Dan Croll. 

Fast forward to 2016 and Dan was to appear at that year’s Live At Leeds festival. Insert me awkwardly waving at Dan Croll before realising that Dan did in fact not actually know who the hell I was. Just me, being a crazy woman waving. 

It’s 2017 and Dan Croll is back baby and his second album, Emerging Adulthood is set to be released in July. 

So let us ‘Swim’  ‘Away From Today’  and omg Dan Croll just walked in, somebody hold me! 

New songs from the forthcoming album were seamlessly woven with old favourites including the stunning ‘January’ and ‘Be Alone’ which bears a significant message, very poignant for #mentalhealthawareness week, that everyone wants to be alone sometimes and that it’s ok not to be ok.

A personal highlight of the evening was ‘From Nowhere’ which is actually my ringtone. After hearing the song oh so many times it was a massive privilege to hear it live once again so thanks Dan and I look forward to catching you again soon! 

Don’t miss out on Dan’s UK tour:

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Gig Review: Cattle and Cane

Featured Image: Cattle and Cane
I have last year’s Live At Leeds festival to thank for introducing me to Cattle and Cane. The folk group fronted by the Hammill siblings played last night at one of my favourite venues in Leeds: The Wardrobe.

As the room swelled with music lovers, the introspective lyrics and simplistic instrumentals of People’s Poem (the support act) filled the air ‘Was I Wrong’ was personal highlight of the soul searching set.

Cattle and Cane, from Teeside, released their second album ‘Mirrors’ earlier this week and are touring the UK to promote the new record.  Tracks from ‘Mirrors’ seamlessly bring together country and folk influences and effervescent 80s pop vibes with stand out tracks including ‘Saviour’ and ‘Dealing with the Devil.’

Even though the album is called mirrors, Helen informed the crowd, there wasn’t a single mirror in the dressing room!

The set included a number of tracks from both the new album as well as old favourites from the previous record which, of course, led to their fans from far a field as Glasgow and Scunthorpe joining in for a Saturday night sing-a-long.

Be sure to catch Cattle and Cane as they head to Masham, Manchester, Bristol and Cardiff. cattle and cane spring tour

Sundara Karma Live: A Cathartic Experience

It is fairly impossible for me to put into words just exactly what I experienced last night, but I’m going to try. Over the past few months, one band has come to mean more to me than I can say. That band is Sundara Karma. There has never been another band that I connected to on such an emotional level. When I can’t find the words, Sundara Karma find them for me. And last night, I finally got to see them perform.

The British rockers played to a packed room at Songbyrd Café in Washington, DC. The stage was lit by a backdrop of string lights, giving the appearance of a starry night. When Sundara Karma took the stage, I was overcome with a sense of elation. I was finally hearing the songs I love so dearly being performed live. Oscar’s unique voice rang throughout the room as he belted out the lyrics to the opening song, “A Young Understanding.” It was hard to see little other than the members’ silhouettes moving in the darkness, but I didn’t care. To be quite honest, I kept my eyes closed for the majority of the set, just letting the music wash over me and getting lost in the sensation of it. The crowd cheered loudly when Oscar led the band into “Flame,” fans singing along to the familiar tune. The highlight of the set for me was the performance of “Happy Family,” my favorite song. Tears came to my eyes as Oscar delivered the poignant lyrics with incredible emotion. The band closed their set with “Loveblood,” a tale of starcrossed lovers. 

As the band played their final note, I knew that this had been the best show I had ever witnessed. For me, it was nothing short of cathartic. Even though their set only consisted of eight songs, it left me on cloud nine, all of the stresses of the day gone. Oscar Lulu has the ability to pack more meaning into a three-minute song than other artists could ever dream of putting into an entire album, making Sundara Karma’s music my greatest comfort in life. Seeing them live only amplified that. If you ever have the chance to see them, just do it. You will not regret it.

Gig Review: Dan Owen

Featured Image: Twitter

Upon walking through the doors at the Oporto and seeing the name ARC at the top of the set times list I was sure that I recognised the name from somewhere….had I seen her before?

Turns out that I was right. ARC‘s distinctive nasal vocals make her sets very memorable and I was loving “The Promise.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when asked to tell a joke you will forget every joke that you have ever heard. Now that I’m writing this however I can actually think of quite a few jokes that I could have told when ARC asked me to tell a joke whilst she tuned her guitar. Alas it was not to be.

“I’m in Love” with Scott Quinn and his beautiful, smooth voice. It’s difficult to pinpoint my favourite song from his set as I was head over heels with them all. From the unreleased “Run” whose deeply emotional lyrics pull at your heart-strings, to the new single “Lovers From Afar” which is set to be released in early May.

It’s my third time seeing Dan Owen perform after seeing him open for Rae Morris last year and I was a total goner. From the moment I first heard “Fall Like A Feather” I knew that I’d be going to see this guy again and again….well here I am I guess.

So the last time I saw Dan Owen at the games room at the Brudnell Social Club it was a very intimate and sweet gig with everyone sitting on the floor. Tonight, however was quite the opposite as the venue at the Oporto was really rather busy actually.

If indie-folk is your thing (and it’s definitely mine) then I would highly recommend that you check out Dan Owen. His deep, gravelly voice accompanied only by a guitar, stomp box and occasional appearance of a harmonica give Dan a rich, mature sound that is all-encompassing.

The raw and emotional “Made To Love You” which was written about a friend’s dysfunctional, abusive relationship was a highlight of the evening for me, highlighting that some of the best songs written come from hurtful experiences and true pain.

The highly anticipated “Little Red Rooster” closed the set with plenty of folky goodness and Dan Owen- the one man band.