It’s only been in the last year that I’ve used Record Weekly as a gig review site. Before then, it was all about album and single releases.
But that doesn’t mean gigging started recently for me — it’s actually the contrary. I’ve seen plenty of fantastic bands and artists that have either gone on to be widely celebrated or were enjoying the limelight back then. Here’s just a handful of my favourites…
Laura Mvula, Harrogate Theatre, July 2018
Remember that really long, hot summer in 2018? It was beer garden weather all the time, England were excelling in the Euros, everyone was deliriously happy? It was at that same time I went to see Laura Mvula in Harrogate with my Mum. I typically cook or walk or get into a good series with her, so it was really sweet to do something different with Mum. Now, I’m not used to sit-down gigs, so being seated at Harrogate Theatre meant it was harder to get into the groove at first. But from her newer tracks right down to ‘Green Garden’, the song that caught my attention initially, Mvula put on one hell of a performance. She was funny, honest and downright humble, too.
Rejjie Snow, Stylus, April 2018
An ex of mine bought me Rejjie Snow tickets for my birthday in 2018. It was due to coincide nicely with all the celebrations, but was later scheduled to April. Nevertheless, it crept up on the calendar and was another show that’s stuck with me. Stylus is a well-sized venue for low-key artists and it drew out quite a few students. Thanks to collaborations with the likes of Loyle Corner, Anna of the North and Ebenezer, who then featured on his debut album, ‘Dear Annie’, Snow was making a name for himself. Sadly, I’ve not heard much since, but it’s good to reminisce about how great he was live. Not familiar with him? Check out ‘Spaceships’ and ‘Milk & Honey’ now.
Run the Jewels, O2 Academy Leeds, November 2017
Run the Jewels are among rap royalty for me. They take the crown for being a dynamic duo that produces incredibly infectious beats alongside linguistically creative lyrics. They know their worth — you can tell by the way they ooze confidence on stage and interact with the crowd, but they aren’t cocky. If you’re into hip-hop, you need to put them on your list. I took my brother to see them and we were both even bigger believers afterwards. ‘Panther Like a Panther’, ‘Mean Demeanor’ and ‘Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)’ (albeit without Rage Against the Machine’s Zack de la Rocha) were all epic.
Bonobo, O2 Academy Leeds, March 2017
Ever since ‘Black Sands’ was released in 2010, I was absolutely enchanted by Bonobo. Soulful, melodic electronics such as these were missing from my musical repertoire until that point. So, when the tour promoting his album drop at the time, ‘Migration’, was announced, I had to be in the crowd. One of my closest friends and colleagues joined me on the balcony of Leeds O2 Academy, while we had some friends down in the stalls as well. The show was magical and engaging, with kaleidoscopic lights and spellbinding visuals befitting of and navigating through his album artwork. From ‘Kong’ to ‘Kiara’, ‘First Fires’ to ‘Ontario’, my boxes were ticked.
Danny Brown, Stylus, November 2016
If you’re into rap music, you should know Danny Brown. But if you don’t, pop this guy on your radar. He hails from Detroit and has one of the most unique voices in the industry. His lyrics aren’t all women and money either, and he has collaborated with Rustie, Run the Jewels, Purity Ring, Madlib and more. The gig kicked off with support from Zelooperz (who my brother and I met and had a video with — legend), a rising artist who projected a similarly eccentric sound. Brown’s ’25 Bucks’, ‘Really Doe’ and ‘Ain’t it Funny’ were even better live than on record.
Def Leppard and Whitesnake, FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield, June 2008
Aw man, my first gig in the north. As this was with my Dad — who taught me everything I know about rock music and why what came out of the 70s and 80s was so powerful — it was a really special one. I mean, we wouldn’t have driven all the way to Sheffield for just anyone! Def Leppard and Whitesnake are both icons, so it was borderline essential that we went. The set explosively opened with Black Stone Cherry taking to the stage, a band that was in its infancy back then, compared to how it’s progressed to now. It was an opportunity for the headliners to smash all their hits — namely Def Leppard’s classics ‘Animal’ and ‘Hysteria’, and Whitesnake’s ballads ‘Here I Go Again’ and ‘Still of the Night’. It was a privilege, to say the least.