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.

Gig Review: Joe Dolman

Featured Image via Joe Dolman

From singing Ed Sheeran covers on YouTube to taking on his own material, Joe Dolman is doing what he loves to do and that is very evident from his music.

Joe is in his final year at uni and is currently balancing his time between this UK tour which ends tonight in Sheffield and writing his dissertation at service stations.

I heard about Joe Dolman through Mandy who was sadly unable to make it to Joe’s London date. Luckily for me, however, his penultimate gig was in Leeds….shot gun there!

The gig which was due to take place at the Milo wine bar changed venue at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances to the Fox and Newt. Fortunately as I was running early anyway I managed to hop on over to the other side of town with plenty of time to spare.

Lauren Rycroft was the first act of the evening and her gorgeously angelic vocals mixed beautifully with melancholy poetic lyrics.

Tiger Twins brought a rock element to the evening with an enthusiastic and hilarious set. Indeed their tale about being told that they were playing a gig at Milo that night was one of the comedic highlights of the evening.

Joe Dolman’s acoustic set included favourites such as “Learning To Fly” and “Addicted To You” as well as new song “Nervous” and I loved his ‘crisp’ vocals, gentle instrumental hooks and beautiful lyrics.

The low-point of the evening was actually the highlight as Joe experienced some technical problems with the speakers and the sound guys were called on to fix things. Cue the impromptu mashup-covers of Smash Mouth and Busted as well as story time from Tiger Twins.

Show Review: Bad Suns at the Underground

This past Sunday, Bad Suns returned to Charlotte, NC to grace the stage of one of Charlotte’s newest venues, the Underground. After waiting several hours in the cold, everyone was extremely relieved to be let into the venue. As the show was sold out, the venue was packed wall to wall with fans young and old.

From Indian Lakes opened the show, getting the crowd warmed up for the main event. Their set was followed by what can only be described as trance-like music, making Bad Suns’ entrance that much more explosive.

It’s been a pleasure to see Bad Suns continue to top themselves, constantly improving their live show. This one was easily the best performance I’ve seen from them. They opened with the title track from their latest album, “Disappear Here,” and Christo’s vocals were barely audible over the screams of the crowd. 

Bad Suns certainly know how to entertain a crowd, whether playing older fan favorites such as “Cardiac Arrest” and “We Move Like The Ocean” or newer tracks like “Daft Pretty Boys” and “Patience.” Every song was met with enthusiasm. Christo came into the crowd during “Sleep Paralysis,” leaving me clinging to the barricade as screaming girls tried to make their way to him. He stood on the barricade right beside me during “Rearview,” stepping on my elbow a few times and leaving me with some pretty brusies (not that I’m complaining). 

They closed the night with what is arguably their best live song, and one of my personal favorites, “Salt.” Christo reached out to the crowd one final time before making his retreat. Miles threw his drumsticks out and I was lucky enough to catch one of them. They left a crowd full of satisfied fans, just like they always do.

As I stood in the merch queue, I began to really think about their shows. From the beginning, these boys have been something special to me. For me, their shows have never been about their looks or trying to touch Christo or any of the superficial things that draw some people to their shows. It’s always been about the music. I’ll be quite honest and say that I keep my eyes closed during the majority of their shows. I just want to shut the world out and get lost in the music, and their shows are one of the few things that give me that escape. I leave their shows totally stress-free, something I can rarely ever say. For that, I will always be grateful to them. If you’ve never seen Bad Suns live before, it’s something you just have to experience for yourself. I’ll be anxiously waiting for the next time I am lucky enough to see Bad Suns again. 

Check out some of my favorite photos l took of their set Sunday night below.