Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls live in London

Frank Turner - Tape Deck HeartIn the week that his fifth studio album ‘Tape Deck Heart’ was released, Frank Turner was in a distinctly upbeat mood.

The former frontman of hardcore punk outfit Million Dead hasn’t always had an easy ride since he made the transformation into folk-rock troubadour seven years ago. Overnight sensation, he is not.

But with a hit single (‘Recovery’) under his belt, not to mention a headline show at Wembley Arena and a cameo at the Olympics opening ceremony, he is now well-equipped to not just sell out, but truly own venues like the Kentish Town Forum for many years to come.

Warm-up act Larry and His Flask did a tremendous job of getting the capacity crowd moving with their turbo-charged hobo blues. If Seasick Steve ever joined Gogol Bordello, it would sound something like this.

After a minor technical delay (possibly relating to a live YouTube stream of this gig), Turner took to the stage with standout anthem ‘Four Simple Words’. This looks set to become a fan favourite with its dynamic juxtaposition of dancehall waltz, chest-beating punk and the irresistible refrain: “I want to dance”.

From here on the show progressed like a greatest hits compilation, with Turner freely flitting between all five of his studio albums. Recent album cuts ‘Polaroid Picture’ and ‘Good & Gone’ were met with the most muted responses, suggesting…

To read the full article on Virgin Red Room, click here.

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Biffy Clyro live at the 2012 iTunes Festival

Biffy Clyro live at the  2012 iTunes Festival London Camden RoundhouseOne of this year’s major coups at the iTunes Festival was lining up Scot-rockers Biffy Clyro to play London for the first time in over a year. With the band having just announced a January 28th release date for their sixth studio album ‘Opposites’, this was a great opportunity to showcase some of their new material.

First up, the crowd were roused into good spirits by fellow Scots Frightened Rabbit. The Selkirk quintet served up a 45-minute set that varied from compelling to pedestrian. ‘Swim Until You Can’t See Land’ got a strong reception, with lead singer Scott Hutchinson sounding in fine fettle.

Following the now customary 60-second iTunes Festival countdown, Biffy Clyro got a thunderous response when they took to the stage, with the laid-back sounds of Simon and Garfunkel providing a stark contrast to the juddering rhythms of new single ‘Stingin’ Belle’.

From here on in, the set was fairly evenly split between new material, hit singles, and obscure tracks getting their first run-out in years. Of the new tracks, the expansive stadium rock of ‘Victory Over The Sun’ was by far the most impressive, while ‘Sounds Like Balloons’ blossomed from a funky off-beat intro into a full-blown hard rock crescendo. The hits were out in force, from a joyous rendition of ‘The Captain’ to the bounce-along classic ‘Who’s Got A Match?’. The arms-in-the-air ballad ‘Many Of Horror’ split the crowd right down the middle, with the odd cry of “we love you Matt Cardle” undercutting the mood somewhat.

To read the rest of this review on Virgin Red Room, click here.

Kick Up The Fire / Scholars / Lonely The Brave live review

Live at The Bowery, New Oxford Street, London (18/11/2010)

It’s not often that you go to a gig and come out raving about all three bands on the bill. But it seems like many people will have come away from the Bowery on Thursday night with a sense that they had discovered at least one excellent new band.

Lonely The Brave began the night in epic sweeping fashion, with reverb vocals and resounding riffs aplenty. Their Pearl Jam-meets-30 Seconds to Mars stylings definitely deserve a bigger venue.

Sam Nicholls: Scholar

Scholars were a different proposition altogether, with front man Sam Nicholls launching himself into a frankly petrified crowd and screaming every word as if his life depended on it. Once the audience had got over the initial shock, the charm of Scholars’ energetic pop-punk took hold, with a fair share of heads bobbing and toes tapping by the end of the half hour set.

Heading the bill were Kick Up The Fire, who were celebrating the launch of their self-titled mini-album. Lead singer Kenny Wastell cut an apologetic figure, and made it clear that the audience shouldn’t expect similar levels of lunacy to their predecessors.

Kick Up The Fire are one of those bands that worm their way into your head, they may not sound jaw-dropping at first, but after a couple of listens their alt-rock tunes really sink their teeth in and refuse to let go. It’s easy to see why Rock Sound said that their mini-album is “a record for which the repeat button seems custom-designed”.

Kick Up The Fire: Springsteen Fans

Covering every contemporary hot potato from lecherous politicians (No Hotel Room) to hypocritical religions (The Never-Ever Ending Story) in half an hour left the audience baying for more and KUTF duly obliged. The decision to repeat the two-minute anti-corporate sing-along No Fun In London instead of trying something more risky was ill-judged, however, and took some of the gloss off an otherwise flawless performance. There’s nothing wrong with leaving an audience wanting more, especially if you’ve yet to write a mediocre song.

Wastell confessed that he is currently a “fresher granddad” at age 29, but this can clearly be used to their advantage, as the fresh-faced girls in the front-row (presumably actual freshers) seemed like a pre-made street team. If they can fulfil their potential on a full-length album, there seems no reason why Kick Up The Fire can’t take 2011 by storm.