Leon Bridges at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]uesday night meant a long overdue catch up with my friends Tina and Ismay; we grabbed some dinner at Busaba Eathai and then headed to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to watch Leon Bridges-who has firmly settled onto the top of my list of all time favourite artists. And if we’re talking about top lists, then that evening’s show was one of my most enjoyable. When I saw Leon Bridges play at the Lexington six months ago, it was his first European appearance, it was an intimate setting and he seemed a little shy. But as the lights twinkled inside the Empire, he was a different person- his busy tour schedule has given him the confidence and ease on stage-and it was infectious.

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There’s something about going to a gig that revives me. No matter how tired I am beforehand, as soon as I’m inside a venue and the music starts playing, my mood lifts and I’m re-energised. I left afterwards in much better spirits than I had been all week, it was the perfect pick me up.

Some of the more up tempo songs played made me wish I had on a swishy skirt and it felt like I had been transported back to a 1960s dance hall. For our first dance at our wedding party, I picked Coming Home and hearing and watching it being performed live was super special for me 🙂

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It was also special being part of the audience on the last night of his European tour- I’ve not heard such a loud show of appreciation, clapping and whooping from a crowd in forever. It was so loud that his voice was drowned out as he said his thank you’s. I love Leon Bridges- if you love motown, if you love soul, 60’s rhythm and blues, or songs that will hit you right there– you will love him too.

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[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]ou’ve heard me bleat on about Leon Bridges an awful lot lately, but when an musician or a song grabs me, I just can’t let it go. Poor Robin has put up with me playing songs over, and over, and over again and Leon Bridges has been playing an awful lot in our house. I’m a huge fan of Motown music, and Leon Bridges is like a voice from the past, he just gets it. When I found out he was flying all the way over to London from Fort Worth, Texas to play a gig at The Lexington, I was online at 9am on the dot for those precious tickets before they sold out. Luckily, he’s playing another gig at The Old Blue Last on March 5th; you’re in for a treat if you make that show.

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He started his set off with Coming Home, of which the video has just been released (he signed to Columbia Records), and then went through a few songs he had written that weren’t available on his Soundcloud profile. He sang a beautiful song about his grandfather falling in love with his grandmother, that got an audible awww from the crowd, followed by another song written about his mother called Lisa Sawyer. My favourite song he performed was Brown Eyed Girl, it was the first time I heard it and it’s up there with Better Man.

Speaking of the crowd, The Lexington was packed. It was different to other gigs I’ve been to- there was a distinct lack of mobile phone recording, selfie taking, general obnoxiousness you have to put up with at gigs- but lots of appreciative whooping, like everyone was just on tenterhooks to hear what he else he had up his sleeve.

His band were amazing- from the backing singers, to the guys on the guitars, saxophone and drums. The whole entourage have got that vintage look down. If you follow his official Instagram, it’s full of beautiful black and white photos and sneak peeks of his recordings.

The video for Coming Home was just released this morning- plug your headphones in and turn up the volume and get thee to The Old Blue Last on Friday!

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George Ezra at Brixton Academy

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first gig of 2015! My friend Ryan is a huge fan of that lovely big old face, George Ezra, and was lucky enough to score tickets to his sold out gig at Brixton Academy. Last year, I missed out on watching him perform at MTV Brand New, but woohoo for second chances! Brixton Academy is my favourite gig venue- its big enough so you don’t feel squished but gigs still feel intimate, the floor slopes so shorties like me can see and it’s so easy to get to. Winner, winner! I was also pretty excited because on the day, I discovered that the support act was Raleigh Ritchie. Last Summer, we had his EP playing in the office and so…

…I was happily singing along to his song Bloodsport. Another fun Raleigh Ritchie fact; he plays Grey Worm (leader of The Unsullied) in Game of Thrones, under his ‘real’ name Jacob Anderson. He played a good warm up and didn’t get swallowed up by the stage- he had good energy and even jumping around like Tigger didn’t stop him from sounding as good live as he does on a track. He’s playing a gig at the Electric in Brixton in April; which I might have to pay a little visit to!

And now, over to lovely George.

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I remember watching Graham Norton one night and George Ezra was on as a guest- he was so self deprecating and likeable. He also tweeted how happy he was to have his Dad on tour with him; just the sweetest. All I need is for him to start dating Taylor Swift and my teeth will start hurting.

He opened up with Cassy O’ which never fails to have me singing “cassyooohhhh” in my head for days afterwards. Rumour had it that Sam Smith was also at the gig- he was also at the MTV Brand New gig last year- but I didn’t spot him, although I noted that the Press and VIP areas were packed out. Vocally, George Ezra sounded just as good, if not better, than his recorded songs. As I looked around at the crowd, it was a mix of people of all ages- I saw mums and daughters, a few families, teens, people my age- his sound appeals to so many.

Also, I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure he had a mug of tea on stage with him too, which just makes him even more endearing.

It might have been where we were standing but the bass from the speakers, with his baritone voice, made my ears buzz. He toned things down a bit by singing a few acoustic songs, including Bob Dylan’s Girl From the North Country and weirdly, Macy Gray’s I Try (of which I was never a fan of). My personal highlight was when he sang Blame It On Me, my favourite song of his.

As he ended his set with Budapest, the lights lit up the Academy and 5,000 people sang along- even me. Oh George, I too love your big old face.

Lorde at Brixton Academy

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I always bide by the rule that the best plans are usually the unplanned ones. A spare ticket for Lorde’s sold out show came up a few days ago, so always up for a gig or three, I accepted. After a busy couple of days at Soho Create (more on that coming up!) I got myself to Brixton, after what felt like a very long complicated day. I truly felt that TGIF feeling! First things first, we had our stomachs to settle and headed straight to Brixton Market for some good old fried chicken at a great place called Wishbone…

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I love Wishbone! It feels genuine, not contrived. Hip hop (the good kind!) blares over the speakers, a no nonsense choice of cocktails or beer, and fried chicken every way imagineable. I got a portion of Garlic and Soy wings and Ismay had the Chicken Shop wings, sharing a side of fries. There’s kitchen roll and ketchup at every table- this is no place to be all fancy pants, you need to tuck right in! After our wings and homemade vodka lemonades were sucked dry, we hightailed it towards Brixton Academy. Almost. Oh, and We stopped for photos! These walls were too good to pass up. Bloggers curse?

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We caught the last couple of songs from the support act, Lo-Fang, then at pretty much 9pm on the dot, Lorde made her appearance!

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I really like Lorde, it took me a while to get into her music, but especially now after seeing her perform, I have alot of new found respect for her. She’s only 17! Unlike her female counterparts (looking at you Miley!) she didn’t feel the need to slap her arse or give us a OB/GYN view of her lady garden. Lorde is smart- I like that, it’s so refreshing. Also, girlfriend takes the words “dance like nobody’s watching” really seriously. I had no idea it was only her third UK show- she’s performs like a pro.

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For her final song, Team, she came back onstage in a gold lamé cape as a cannon of confetti shot over the crowd. It was perfect. No wonder Elton John loves this girl- with her big Kate Bush style hair and oddities, it’s a breath of fresh air in a world of Stripper Pop at the moment. Lordy, Lorde!

Beyonce at the O2

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[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]esterday I went to see Beyonce at the O2 and she was amazing.

She was F L A W L E S S

The End.

Joking aside, it was a show worthy of her status as Queen B. The visuals were slick, Les Twins were part of her backing dancer crew, and the all female band made this live show pretty epic.

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Walking into the O2 to get to our seats was like walking into a thumping club- the DJ did a sweet job of warming the crowd up and then randomly, a video message from Prince Charles thanking Beyonce for her work with the Prince’s Trust played. Like a true diva, we waited an extra half hour for Mrs Carter to come onstage but once she did it was a dance party from start to finish!

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She mostly played her new songs, but a few classics were thrown in like Baby BoySingle Ladies, and at one point a beautiful cover of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You. The highlight of the night had to be her duet with Jay Z when singing Drunk In Love. At this point, I feel like me and Jay Z are old friends, “Oh HAAAAAYYY JAAAAY!!’

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I love The Carters! (I should put that on a sweatshirt)

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I’ve never been to a concert where the screaming was so loud. Beyonce is undeniably the best singer around and  I was thinking afterwards, is this what it was like in the 80’s when Madonna was at her peak? She’s untouchable!  Also- Beyonce must have thighs of steel. Half the dance routines involved some sort of squat and a hair flick. Here’s a couple of videos from the night- just scroll through the Playlist!

Excuse me, I’m off to perfect my own hair flicking technique.

Wa-oh-oh.

Behind the scenes with MTV Brand New

There was more to Islington than organic cafes and gastro pubs last night as MTV’s Brand New  took over the Assembly Hall. Over two days, Katy B and Sam Smith headlined the annual showcase of unsigned artists as voted for by their fans. Let’s take a look shall we?

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I was so disappointed I missed out on George Ezra’s performance, but made it on time to watch Ella Eyre bring her enormous energy and hair to the stage. This dynamic ball of fire did not stop! She covered her latest hit Deeper and got everyone jumping to Waiting All Night, her hit collaboration with Rudimental. There’s no doubt she is enormously talented and we’re sure to hear more of her soon- she’s on the Wireless festival lineup this year- but her big voice in a little venue was a bit overwhelming at times. Dare I say, she had more stage presence than headlining act Katy B?…

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Katy B’s hit Lights On has been a radio staple ever since it’s release in 2010- there were alot of excited whoops when she launched into this song. Katy has a great voice and although she sounded pitch perfect, I feel like she didn’t need to jazz up her performance with two backing dancers on such a small stage- it distracted from the real talent, her voice.

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The second night opened with the velvety smooth voice that is Kwabs- one of my favourite artists to be shortlisted- and he didn’t disappoint. He hushed a chatty crowd with his soulful voice. His style isn’t like anyone I’ve come across- I definitely think we’ll be hearing more from him in the future. He started with his current single Wrong or Right and ended with a bit of an  MTV Unplugged moment as the stage cleared and he sang Perfect Ruin to an enthralled audience.

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Next up was Joel Compass, who had an AMAZING band supporting him! MckNasty– brother of Labrinth and drummer for Wretch 32-  nearly stole the show with his beats. What is up with the water in the McKenzie household?! I digress…despite his awkwardness, I did like Joel Compass. His stage presence wasn’t powerful enough to hush a very packed out hall, but he’s got good potential- I’m going to put it down to nerves! He ended his set with Run, a definite crowd pleaser.

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Drum roll please!…ending the showcase on a very overexcited high was Sam Smith who had flown all the way from LA especially for the night. My favourite part was his stripped down version of Latch as well as the sing-a-long friendly La La La Sam was just so darn likeable! He was humble, engaging, and even when singing the more powerful parts of his songs- he made it look so effortless. He’s the male equivalent of Emeli Sande- and that’s not just because they have similar ‘dos.

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Bluey and Becca did an awesome job presenting- more live showcases please MTV!

So…ending the evening with a group shot.  Too much talent in one photo! The triple threat that is Bluey Robinson and over there on the right is Master Shortie who had just flown in from L.A …jealous? me? Pfffft. Let’s cease with the LA talk *side eye* I don’t think I even remember what sunshine feels like- hence that special shade of January pale I have going on.

Here are some videos I took from the showcase! You can also find them on my Youtube channel.

The winner will be announced on Monday 3rd February- who’re you rooting for?