I’m not usually the kind of music fan that thinks “if only I’d been around to see them live”. I’d much rather spend my energy being thankful for the amazing gigs I’ve been lucky enough to attend over the years, than fretting about the multitude of acts that passed me by. But one notable exception has always been Porcupine Tree. The rich textured atmospheres, the juggernaut riffs, the memorable and melodious hooks, that haunting balance between bleak and beautiful – the band was a perfect storm of intriguing ingredients that all combined to form a sound completely their own. They were one of the formative bands of my teenage years, and yet sadly had already called it a day as a band by the time I discovered them. Though I’ve dabbled in various side projects and solo work over the years, none of those records ever truly scratched that PT itch. But after twelve long years finally came the announcement of a new album, and with it an accompanying tour – a chance I never thought I’d get to see one of my favourite bands, can’t say no to that, can you? Continue reading
Halloween, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain – believed to be the day when we’re at our closest to the other side, when the spirits of the departed rise and walk the Earth. What a fitting gig then for such a momentous part of the calendar, as there are few artists I know better at raising your spirits than Maggie Rogers. Last I saw her, going in blind and uninitiated to her headline slot at Barn on the Farm 2019, was hands down one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. Gracing the stage with such energy and enthusiasm that she felt like a force of nature, I was left completely bewitched and couldn’t wait to see her again. But wait I did, and one pandemic later the stars aligned for the first date of The Feral Joy Tour to fall on my favourite holiday… spooky! Continue reading
When I was younger I definitely went to a lot more gigs completely on a whim. Heading off to see a band just because I could, just because they were there! Cramming concerts into already busy schedules without a thought for repercussions. Picking up tickets for gigs without it ever entering into my head how I plan on getting there and back. I’d like to think I’m older and wiser… but I’m still terribly forgetful when it comes to the logistics of getting to gigs. I’ll admit however that these days my gig going schedule has a lot more purpose – ticking off the list of acts I wanna see before I die, prioritising certain tours to better the chances of hearing my favourite tracks etc. But you need to do something in a spur of the moment every now and then, right? And seeing Bon Iver was one of my best “heat of the moment” gig experiences. Continue reading
After two years away from my favourite place on Earth, to say that I was excited to return to Barn on the Farm this summer would be a massive understatement. Over the years it’s become such an integral part of the calendar, like Christmas, that having summers without it due to Covid felt like missing a limb. Still clutching on to my original 2020 ticket, stepping back onto Over Farm at long last felt like coming home. But after struggling through two years of pandemic upheaval, and with the dizzying highs of their stellar ten-year anniversary being a tough act to follow, expectations were high. Continue reading
Sometimes when you have something extra special jotted down on your calendar it ends up feeling like a lifetime away. Still just a distant speck on the horizon no matter how far down the road you seem to go. Never has that been more the case than over the past couple of years. So many events being pushed back and rescheduled over the course of the pandemic; you’d go from thinking “at least I’ve got something to look forward to when this is all over”, to wondering if the day would ever come. But eventually there was light at the end of the tunnel, and all those adventures that felt like a distant dream started barrelling into view one by one.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been slowly working down the pile of gig tickets dated ‘2020’ that’s been gathering dust on my shelf – until only one remained. Saving the best till last some might say. What better way to celebrate putting covid firmly in the rearview mirror than with The Killers gracing Doncaster of all places, bringing with them a dash of Vegas glitz and glamour, as the band kick off their long overdue Imploding The Mirage tour in earnest. Continue reading
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
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
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
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
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