Live Review: The Dear Hunter, Night and Day Cafe Manchester & The Bodega Nottingham, 5th/9th May 2022

Well here’s a Belwood first for you: a live review double feature! There are plenty of bands and artists which I will happily see time and again, tour after tour, but until now I can’t recall every seeing someone twice on the same tour. I feel like there’s a line there, crossing a threshold from casual fan into something deeper. As much as I may admire and envy the old hippie Deadhead lifestyle of following a band on tour in a VW camper, it requires a level of devotion that I (and indeed most people) would struggle to muster for just one special band.

While I’m not at the point of following them around the country in a campervan (those things are expensive!), The Dear Hunter are definitely the band that comes closest. Their five Act concept album series is one of the most compelling musical rabbit holes I’ve ever dived down, and the one I most wish I could forget for the purpose of hearing it for the first time all over again. So, after waiting what felt like forever for one of my all time favourite bands to make it back to the UK, I knew just one gig wouldn’t be enough. Continue reading

Live Review: Gang of Youths, Leeds Beckett, 8th March 2022

Have we mentioned how great it feels to have live music back? Because my god does it feel magnificent to be going to gigs again! However, I have to admit, it took a couple of them before I could ease back into familiarity. After nearly two years without live music, and lingering doubts and fears from the pandemic still hanging on, those first few gigs felt like tentative baby steps back into normality. This was the first gig back where I felt at home again, where I felt the spark that had been absent for so long. Like reconnecting with an old friend you haven’t seen in ages; you work through the awkward catch-ups until eventually it feels like no time has passed at all. It’s a gig that felt truly special and will stay with me for a long time to come. Continue reading

Live Review: The Lumineers, The O2 London, 4th March 2022

They say that insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Having already seen The Lumineers live twice in the past few years, seeing them graduate from playing mid-sized venues to selling out major stadiums, I felt like I had a pretty clear idea of what to expect for the third time around. Even for a band with a track record for surprising me, there are only so many ways that a band to up their game in a live setting. After their most recent record fell a little flat, I wondered how well the new material would translate to a live setting, and how their latest tour would hold up compared to previous gigs. I’m pleased to report that the band are still at the top of their game when it comes to delighting a crowd, and they managed to pull a few more tricks from out their sleeves. Continue reading

Live Review: Lanterns on the Lake, Rescue Rooms Nottingham, 21st Nov 2021

I don’t know about you, but the pandemic has completely messed up my understanding of the passage of time. With so long spent where the days just bleed together, it’s hard to get your head around it again when for a while it lost all meaning. At times the whole thing feels like a blur, and you’re surprised to discover a moment that felt like yesterday was nearly two years ago. And yet sometimes you register just how long you’ve waited to see some light at the end of the tunnel, how much you’ve yearned for some normality, that you can scarce believe when it finally arrives. There was certainly a lot of the latter at play when it came to this gig. I was already long overdue to catch Belwood favourites Lanterns on the Lake when I first bought the ticket, and that day feels like an age ago. Now, after being rescheduled so many times I actually lost count, came the surreal experience of actually seeing them live and in person when for so long it felt like it was never gonna happen. Continue reading

Live Review: Megan Dixon Hood, The Deaf Institute Manchester, 28th Oct 2021

Wow. It feels like a lifetime since I sat down to write a review of some genuine, real life, live music. Hopefully I still remember how! Hopping on the train to a different city, gathering in a venue with actual people, that buzz of anticipation that ripples through the crowd as the artists take to the stage – experiencing it all again after nearly two years apart is a strange sensation. In some ways it felt alien compared to this odd new normality we’ve become all accustomed to, but after a while it felt like stepping back into your old shoes like things had never changed. I guess when live music charms your heart that feeling never really goes away. Fingers crossed though that theory need never be put to the test again, and that this marks the triumphant return of live music in our lives. Where better to get reacquainted with the glory of gigs than the heart of Manchester, and surely there’s no better artist to jump back in with than one of the last performers I saw before everything kicked off – the wonderful Megan Dixon Hood. Continue reading

Live Review: Thank You Scientist, Satan’s Hollow Manchester, 22nd Feb 2020

IMG_20200222_201130-01One of the most frustrating first world problems that comes with running a music blog, especially one covering new acts and niche genres, is discovering incredible bands and artists from across the globe that you may never get to see live. I was worried that Thank You Scientist would be in that category for a good long while yet; a real blow as, being the most exciting prog act around and our 2019 album of the year winners, they were also near the top of my list of bands I most wanted to see. In a stunning stroke of good fortune however, TYS decided to embark on a UK tour. Despite everything from stormy weather to closed rail links battling to keep me away, I was determined that this was one show I was not gonna miss! Continue reading

Live Review: Megan Dixon Hood, Gullivers Manchester, 24th Jan 2020

25af6df-ed434ad9-221-0null-01As January lingers on it still feels like a time for looking forward and thinking on the future. That suits us just fine as in a way Belwood is all about looking forward as we champion new music and up-and-coming artists. It seems fitting then for my first gig of the year, of the decade even, to be Megan Dixon Hood, our ‘best new artist‘ pick for 2019. Based on her grand and mystical music released thus far, most notably her most recent powerhouse single ‘The Wishing Tree‘, I was adamant that 2020 was hers for the taking. Little did I know that she was planning on starting early by beginning the year with her first UK headline tour. Naturally I just had to make my way across to Manchester to see her in action. Continue reading

Live Review: The National, First Direct Arena Leeds, 8th Dec 2019

IMG_20191208_211406-01It seems odd to think that in a busy year for gigs, this was perhaps the one I was the least excited about leading up to it. I’ve been a big National fan for years now but due to various misfortunes and twists of fate I kept missing out on seeing them live. Then, when I finally get my hands on a ticket, they go ahead and release the deeply disappointing I Am Easy To Find, and in a flash much of my enthusiasm died away. In breaking their winning streak of great albums I felt certain that the quality of their live shows would similarly suffer. I grabbed a spot front and centre at Leeds arena hoping to be proven wrong. Continue reading

Live Review: The Lumineers, Manchester Arena, 24th Nov 2019

IMG_20191124_205353-01The Lumineers are a band that have consistently surprised me. I wrote them off as a Mumford clone and they came back with a brilliant second album. I wondered whether they may have bitten off more than they could chew by releasing a hard hitting concept album, only for it to be one of the stand out releases of 2019. Last time I saw The Lumineers it was in a much smaller venue, but this latest tour in support of III finds them setting their sights on arena crowds. The old me might have questioned this big leap and had doubts about whether they were really arena material. If I’ve learnt anything these past few years however it’s that you should never sell this band short, and this gig only served to prove that point further. Continue reading

Live Review: Foy Vance, Albert Hall Manchester, 20th Nov 2019

IMG_20191120_212126-01__01If you’re a regular visitor to Belwood then you’ll know that my all time favourite artist is Foy Vance. He’s the artist I’ve seen the most, and the first time I saw him still remains the best gig I’ve ever been to. Several brilliant shows later and I was unsure of what to expect from my latest live experience. Firstly down to it being in the Albert Hall; while it’s one of the most beautiful venues in the country, it was a much less intimate setting than I was used to. Secondly in terms of the setlist; Foy released two albums in 2019, one I loved and one that I really couldn’t connect with, and I was curious to see which record would take precedent. The only way to find out was to take my place front and centre and see what Foy had in store this time around. Continue reading