Thursday, 30 May 2013

WOW, 22/02/13

WOW: A Celebration of the Music and Artistry of Kate Bush @ Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool

Kate Bush, a singer famous for her love of privacy and seclusion, only ever toured once in 1979, so it is understandable that people will pay good money to see musicians attempt to capture the magic of her records in a live setting. The band behind WOW: A Celebration of the Music and Artistry of Kate Bush are able to do just that, with a little help from some special effects and a ‘troupe’ of dancers.

Maaike Breijman, the Kate of the show, is an outstanding tribute artist whose impressive attention to detail means that even her hand gestures and facial expressions are spot on, let alone the dancing prowess and huge vocal range required for the part. Seeing her act out the story lines of lesser known tracks such as James And The Cold Gun and The Wedding List (with the help of two male dancers) really made the unique creativity of Kate’s peculiar brand of pop come alive.

The band, most of whom are Liverpool-based musicians, managed to make their relatively small ensemble of guitar, bass, drums, keys and backing vocals sound huge, which ensured that nothing was lost in the transition from record to stage. Breijman herself created a beautiful contrast to their full sound in the second half, when she performed The Man With The Child In His Eyes and a haunting This Woman’s Work at a grand piano.

The visual aspect of the show was clearly heavily influenced by Kate’s (often eccentric) music videos, so Breijman danced with a double bass as a partner for Babooshka, fought with men in trilbies for Them Heavy People and during Cloudbusting actually operated a rain-making machine that was pushed onstage. Indeed, the most spectacular moment of the night came when Breijman, re-enacting the video, performed Breathing from within a large, transparent sphere. The apocalyptic lyrics about a foetus in a nuclear fallout zone were intensified considerably when delivered by a woman lying in a plastic ‘womb’.

Perhaps inevitably, they finished with the classic Wuthering Heights, but as Wow have successfully demonstrated, there is much more to Kate Bush’s body of work than a woman in a white dress singing about Heathcliff.




(MiC LOWRY - Janiece Myers)

All photography by Gaz Jones (@GJMPhoto)

This gig was something of a family affair for ESCO WILLIAMS. With close collaborators as supports acts and an audience full of family and friends, the atmosphere from the start was one of homecoming for a local boy done good.

Singer-songwriter and Esco backing singer JANIECE MYERS showed off her impressive vocals with nothing more than a couple of acoustic guitars to back her up, and made the crowd collectively melt when she brought her tiny niece onstage to sing with her. Work, Myers’s urban blues about the 9 to 5 grind, was a deceptively sweet ode to exhaustion and paranoia, while her experiment in audience-led improvisation resulted in a belted out jam about being betrayed by Justin Bieber.

MiC LOWRY’s appearance onstage prompted the kind of screaming hysteria among the teenage girls in the audience usually reserved for members of One Direction, and the five local teenagers displayed real boyband talent with their Esco Williams-penned originals and tight harmonies. The Scouse JLS?

As the man himself strutted onstage, however, it became abundantly clear where the MiC LOWRY lads had learnt their charm. In trademark snapback and glasses Esco Williams, accompanied by his band The Kontrollers, was a man at the top of his game, effortlessly rolling out hit after hit from debut album New Challenger. The lilting, feel good Starry Eyed emphasised his dedication to the music with its mantra “We don’t care ’bout no A list/ Just wanna be on your playlist,” while the sultry soul of I Want You More easily stood its own next to a mash-up of Rihanna’s You Da One and Usher’s Climax. In fact, despite being a self-professed nerd Esco plays the part of the confident ladies’ man well, as in the smooth RnB of Hi-Score, where he promises to “make your girlfriends hate you,” and in the often dark and ominous sounding Just Friends. Throughout the gig The Kontrollers sounded tight, funky and very loud, and the three backing vocalists especially played off Esco’s exuberance to create the kind of live energy impossible to capture on record. Their first ever performance of a brand new and as of yet unnamed track also hinted that Team Esco have no plans to slow down and featured a blinding, Prince-like guitar solo. An adapted cover of Estelle’s American Boy delighted the crowd as a charismatic Esco sang about getting a Nandos from L1 and being taken to Toxteth by his Liverpool girl. The highlight of everyone’s night, though, was undoubtedly the triumphant closer New Challenger; a slice of defiant funk about beating the bad guys and winning the girl, video game style, complete with N64 sound effects. Esco had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand as he led them in an extended refrain of “I win, I win/ Perfect!”

In Hi-Score he rapped “I’m like King Kenny I run Liverpool,” and by the end of the night no one needed convincing that Esco Williams is the new challenger to be reckoned with on the local music scene.


Wednesday, 29 May 2013


So a couple of months ago I did an internship with Liverpool's coolest music magazine, Bido Lito!, and wrote about some pretty cool stuff, as well as editing copy and uploading stunning images from local photographers to their Lens Galleries. The people behind the pink pages are a friendly bunch and I've continued writing for them ever since!

I interviewed Andy Delamere of DEAD BELGIAN, who play dark yet raucous covers of legendary crooner Jacques Brel:

I also interviewed a very cool, up-coming producer called BJØRN DAVID BANCEL who recorded an amazing compilation of 5 Liverpool artists in 5 different Liverpool locations, which I urge you to listen to NOW 

The Previews & Shorts page of Issue 32 is worth reading if only for the section on Bongripper, who played the Kazimier in April, which saw me spending a whole afternoon attempting to describe the stoner sludge doom metal favourites : (find it on page 20).

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


Liverpool Sound City, 17th- 19th May, 2012


With the new issue of Ellipsis magazine coming out very soon I thought I would put up the review of my wonderful Liverpool Sound City weekend, which featured in the last issue, along with my interview with Bido Lito! editor, Craig Pennington. You can buy tickets for Sound City 2013 here.

It is impossible to separate Liverpool from its hallowed musical heritage, but how many students living in this thriving city are actively engaged with the music scene as it stands today?

The annual Liverpool Sound City festival, which took place last May, was the perfect opportunity to see the best of local talent performing alongside major headliners across various venues, Camden Crawl-style, right in the centre of town.

Early favourites Mystery Jets got the weekend off to a good start in what appeared to be a corrugated iron warehouse with highlights from all four of their albums. Using a battered stars and stripes backdrop the band focused on the Americana-heavy side of new record Radlands but still sounded best on the English pop of ‘Someone Purer’ and ‘Greatest Hits’, both of which featured charming ‘sha-la-la’ style backing vocals. Those who didn’t bugger off early after ‘Two Doors Down’ to go and see Professor Green at the Echo were also awarded with a ramshackle rendition of ‘Behind The Bunhouse’, which got the (sadly diminished) crowd dancing.

In another temporary gig venue/garage, local ladies Stealing Sheep were casting their glorious hippy spell with three part harmonies, loud percussion and a lot of glitter. With only drums, a guitar and keyboards the building psychedelia of songs such as ‘Gold’, taken from their debut album Into The Diamond Sun, filled the cold concrete space with warmth.

The minimal synth indie of recent buzz band Alt J, however, failed to translate in the noisy bar atmosphere of the Kazimier, and even singles ‘Breezeblocks’ and ‘Tessellate’ had little impact.

Following night, same venue, and charismatic frontman Eugene McGuinness, who has toured as a guitarist with Miles Kane, was on fine form accompanied by his equally dapper band. With driving 60s riffs and sharp, witty lyrics (“If beauty is truth that makes you a l-l-liar”), the likes of ‘Shotgun’ and ‘Lion’ are the stuff indie dancefloor dreams are made of.


Dressed like WWII evacuees, Spring Offensive provided a different kind of performance with their jittery, angular folk in the abandoned-house-turned-art-space of the Wolstenholme, breaking their set halfway through to stand in a tight circle and sing a cappella in the middle of the crowd, who were hushed and thrilled.

Come Saturday, and Sound City almost lost its grip on reality with an eardrum-popping set from local ‘eccentrics’ Jazz Hands. Playing alongside Liverpool-based gig poster exhibition Screenadelica, the five piece hardcore/rock/jazz band dressed entirely in orange and included one topless, balaclava-wearing member whose job seemed solely to be playing the cowbell in people’s faces in an aggressive manner. Mad and wonderful.

The old-fashioned opulence of the newly opened Epstein Theatre played host to a number of more laid back and acoustic acts throughout the weekend, including Michael Kiwanuka and James Vincent McMorrow. Ex-LIPA (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) lad Dan Croll really shone as someone to watch out for in the future; the beauty of ‘Home’ and ‘Marion’ was hard to ignore and he has since been played by the likes of Lauren Laverne and Nick Grimshaw. “I loved the Epstein and had an amazing time playing in it,” Croll told Ellipsis.

The highlight of the weekend, however, came from one of the best bands in Liverpool at the moment, Death At Sea. Kitted out entirely in grandma-style summer dresses (because the city needs more “fun”, apparently) and playing to an impressively big crowd considering their output at the time was only three songs uploaded to YouTube, they proved themselves worthy of the hype surrounding them with a set that burned with energy and ambition. Debut single ‘Drag’ especially has a lo-fi, slacker rock sound The Cribs would be proud of, and boasts an epic chorus in the making in “When he’s with her/She bleeds glitter”.

This may have been a hard act to follow, but LA sisters Bleached did a pretty good job and managed to look effortlessly cool to boot. Sounding like The Ramones if they were a 60s girl group, their 3 chord songs injected some romance into fuzzy punk guitars with self-consciously simple lyrics such as, “Baby won’t you please/Come on back to me” (‘Searching Through The Past’).

Frustratingly, Sound City 2012 fell during exams; this year, however, the festival is due to be held much earlier (2nd-4th May). So by all means get your fix of Penny Lane and the Cavern Club, but with a thriving local music scene as rich and varied as this, who would want to remain stuck in the past?
(All pictures belong to me.)
Craig G Pennington, Editor of Bido Lito!, Liverpool’s premier music magazine, had this to say:
As well as seeing some amazing bands and listening to some brilliant music, the biggest, most exciting change at Sound City this year was the way that Wolstenholme Square became a kind of central hub for the festival. The way the car parks and the warehouses near the Kazimier were used as venues felt very much like South by Southwest [legendary music festival held in Austin, Texas].
I personally didn’t get to see that many bands because I was in the office making the Bido Lito! daily magazine! But from what I saw I thought Toy were fantastic, they were a real standout. Tea Street Band were stunning; the Red Bull Garage played perfectly to their strengths. It felt like some weird, Haçienda-esque, industrial space and just came alive with them. When it came to Liverpool bands, I’ve seen Death At Sea get continually more and more exciting, and Owls* were brilliant; it was their first show with their new line-up and they were really good. From what we heard from our contributors, I think Willis Earl Beal was probably the headline act that stood out. He really introduced himself and seems like a very exciting artist.
To anyone who has just moved to the city, I would say the Liverpool music scene is so varied and diverse that it will be much more exciting than you could ever imagine it to be. We’ve got so many artists breaking through on a national level, from grime and drum and bass, through to really interesting electronic and avant-garde artists, through to rock and roll bands and female MCs. It’s the strongest music scene that I’ve ever known in Liverpool.

Friday, 23 November 2012

THE VACCINES, 22/11/12

THE VACCINES @ Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild of Students, 22/11/12

My review of The Vaccines' first gig in Liverpool is available to read now on here. It was an amazing night and if you haven't already bought their second album Come of Age I suggest you do so now.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012


My pick of bands to watch out for (Haim and Death At Sea) appears in the new issue of The Student Guide, which will hit the shops on October 1st! You can see my article here or check out the full magazine here.

Monday, 3 September 2012



I talked to Ed Moyse, graduate entrepreneur and co-founder of, about looking for jobs and jumping out of planes. [Originally appeared in issue 5 of Ellipsis magazine.]

Have you got The Fear yet? The crippling realisation that University doesn’t last forever, and that at some point in the near future you will have to find a career in the most competitive graduate job market for decades? Ed Moyse and Ross Harper, who studied Economics and Neuroscience at Cambridge, certainly did. Now, however, they have their own international business in the shape of, a viral marketing concept which happens to involve a lot of face paint.

“We weren’t completely sure what we wanted to do when we graduated,” says Ed. “About halfway through our final year we were still on the lookout for jobs; we didn’t really have a clue.” Instead they decided it was time to get creative. “Rather than going down the conventional careers path and being faced with massive amounts of competition, we quite fancied trying our hand at our own thing.

“We’d been keeping this little black notebook of any ideas we came up with. We wanted to make some money and have a good gap year, but the problem was that we didn’t have any money to invest.” Ironically, the flash of inspiration they needed came to Ed while he was travelling to an interview for a job.

“As soon as it was done I went straight back to Ross’s at university, and I didn’t care at all about the outcome of the job interview. I just said, ‘Come on, we’ve got to sell advertising space on our faces,’ and he said, ‘Yeah, alright.’ After that we had a few bar sessions, just mulling it over and trying to come up with something that was workable really.”

At the time of writing, has been up and running for only 182 days, but its founders are already £33,182  closer to paying off their student debts [the total at day 338 is currently £47,080]. It’s a fiendishly simple idea: companies or individuals can buy Ross and Ed’s faces by the day, with the price going up over time as the website gets more hits. They will then paint an advert on their faces and upload pictures of themselves which become links to the company’s website. This new approach to marketing has proved incredibly successful, but I imagine their families must have been shocked when they announced their new business plan.

“We were very wary of telling anyone that we were going to be doing this before it actually got going. The first thing we did was to get the help of our friend Tom from university to set up a website for us, and we gave him a share in the business too. After the website was looking really good and we were ready to start selling, we actually told our families at graduation. So I met Ross’s parents, then he met my parents, and we said, ‘Instead of getting a job, this is what we’re doing…’

“They were a bit shocked I reckon, but they’ve been very supportive and they’ve been surprised at how well it’s gone. We couldn’t have done it without them because I have to kind of live with Ross the whole time, so we’re always at Ross’s house in London or my house in Poole. I’ve seen Ross more than I’ve seen my girlfriend in the past few months.”

As well as creating a lot of publicity in the UK (as a recent front page feature in the Sunday Times confirms) the website has become surprisingly international. The two graduates have even featured on Australian TV.

“Weirdly, we really took off in Germany. We’ve been on all three national TV channels, as well as in all their national newspapers. We’re bigger in Germany than in the UK so we’ve had quite a few German companies buy space. An American company called Revolver Studios sent us to the Royal Opera House to see a ballet dressed up in our suits with our faces painted up as well. It was pretty ridiculous; we had champagne reception and stuff because they wanted us to get some funny photos.”

Of course most adverts exist purely online, but Ed and Ross do occasionally get asked to venture a bit further in order to spread the word; accounting firm Ernst & Young bought their faces for a week and used the time to send them skiing with students, which Ed describes as my “best week of work.” They have even been asked to jump out of a plane. 

“My girlfriend was talking to someone from Altitude Solutions about this weird idea I had, and the guy she was talking to said he’d heard about us on the news. Instead of just getting advertising space on our website, he wanted to send us sky-diving, in the hope that newspapers and our blog readers would be interested. It worked out pretty well for him.”

Sound like your sort of thing? Well you’re in luck, because are looking for new student recruits around the country…

“Basically Tom’s come up with this really clever code for the website, which means anyone visiting it from say, London, would see a London version of the website, and anyone visiting from America would see the American version. So we can get geographical targeting and get people in different areas doing it. It’s a good way of getting more people involved, because what we didn’t want was it spilling out into the real world.

“The role would basically consist of face painting, but there’s also quite a lot of work to do with the media because people are talking about it and they want to know more. They may have to get in touch with their local news for example. But we are trying to make it as little work as possible, so that a student could do this alongside their studies as a way of raising a bit of money, because we know what being a student is like.”

In a graduate job climate with an average of 83 applicants per job, students coming up with their own creative ways around unemployment may become something of a trend, a way to stand out from the job-seeking crowd.

“That’s the irony, really: we’re doing this crazy project because it’s a really tough time to get a job, and then because we’ve done this crazy project, we’ve had loads of job offers. In our first month alone we had five job offers, which is awesome.

“We’ve got some more ideas in our little black notebook and we’d quite like to give one of them a go. It’s just a question of do we accept a job offer or do we try something else out, and we’re not really sure at this stage.”

So while graduating may seem like a daunting prospect, especially when even Cambridge alumni are struggling, the boys from have proved that hard work and a fresh perspective can still get you noticed.

“My advice would be that if you’ve got a good idea and you think it’s worth giving it a go, then as soon as you graduate is an excellent time to do it. I’d say go for it.”