Polyphia – The Haunt, Brighton – 10th February 2019

The genre-defiant, mostly instrumental group Polyphia gained a lot of positive traction in 2018 with the release of their newest full-length record New Levels New Devils. Their ever-growing popularity is by no means a fluke of any sort as the complexity and depth of their arrangements certainly has its wow factor. I was very excited to see how this would be presented in a live performance.

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Ed The Dog – Green Door Store, Brighton – 8th February 2019

Ed The Dog made quite the impact last year. With the release of his debut record Shame, as well as a much loved live performance at 2018’s Great Escape Festival, it seemed like a breakthrough for the artist was closer than ever. Taking place at the Green Door Store, Ed’s headline set would mark the finale to the first of a four-night series of gigs presented by Hidden Herd; the Sptlght series, which aims to raise awareness of some of the most exciting upcoming bands.

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Alfie Neale – The Haunt, Brighton – 7th February 2019

The rise of Dorchester-via-Brighton artist Alfie Neale has been a joy to watch. Through hard work and perseverance – as well as a truckload of talent – the youthful singer-songwriter has become one of the hottest artists in the South East. His Haunt headline show, however, was a revelation. Outing him as not only one of the most talented artists Brighton has seen for a long time, but also one of the most popular and charismatic stars Brighton has produced in years, it was an utter joy to behold.

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Cass McCombs – Tip of the Sphere

Stalwart slave to indie and the experimental, Cass McCombs delivers exactly this in his new record, Tip of the Sphere, parts of which are expansive, whilst others, well, not so much.

Various influences are present, as we’ve come to expect from McCombs, now on his ninth album; with nods to 60s psychedelia, western swagger and interims of Grateful Dead references. The album is only a small stretch from his 2016 album Mangy Love, though melodic genius in its own right. It’s not groundbreaking and, yet, not quite commercial; it sits somewhere comfortably (perhaps too comfortably) in between. The track listing washes over you with, at times, untraceable structure, though he possesses an undoubted knack for creating a good song.

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Mercury Rev – Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete Revisited

Best known for the huge hit ‘Ode to Billie Joe’, Bobbie Gentry soon after released The Delta Sweete in 1968, a concept album based on life in the Deep South, her Mississippi childhood, and church life. Somewhat of a trailblazer, in a very heavily dominated male industry, Gentry was one of the first female artists of note who wrote most of their own material. She wrote eight of the 12 songs on the original release, the other four representing re-workings of songs she heard whilst growing up, such as ‘Tobacco Road’. She was also heavily involved in the production of her music, played guitar, often painted her own record sleeves, and designed her own costumes. She was a game changer in many ways, not least because she withdrew from both recording and performing, and indeed being in the public eye, by the early 80s. Her last album was released in 1971, and her last ever single, in 1978. Although still alive, very little is known about Bobbie Gentry, post-1981, when she made her last public appearance, aged just 38. The mystique, and therefore the legacy, remains largely intact.

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Bastille – Brighton Centre – 1st February 2019

With their newest album Doom Days “imminently coming” this year, it was definitely a suitable reason behind commencing Bastille’s latest tour. Titled ‘Still Avoiding Tomorrow’, this tour brought the band to the Brighton Centre.

The venue and the people who arrived there were as lively as ever. The sold out status of the performance really reflected when looking at the sheer capacity of people who would pack out the auditorium later on. When I arrived to queue up for the show, the line went as far back as the Odeon. However, it moved down incredibly quickly and smoothly. The staff at the Brighton Centre were clearly prepared for a very busy and important evening. There was much buzz among fans about the band and a noticeable waft of excitement in the air. Expectations were set very high for this show it seemed.

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White Lies – Five

It was back in 2007 that White Lies formed from the ashes of Fear of Flying, a band whom began to increasingly write songs that they felt just didn’t suit their style. In 2009 they released their debut album, To Lose My Life…, followed in 2011 by sophomore Ritual, my personal favourite and arguably the band’s most successful record; spawning huge tracks such as ‘Bigger Than Us’ and cementing the band alongside the likes of Editors, whom they are often compared to. The band utilise a strong indie/80s sound, lead by the impressive vocals of Harry McVeigh.

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Fur – Fur EP

There’s just something enchanting about Brighton quartet Fur. From their retrogression music videos (the ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ parodying croquet-learning video for ‘Angel Eyes’ being a particular highlight), to their almost magical rise on YouTube, where they’ve been played millions of times and fans go absolutely bananas for them, they’ve been an utter joy to watch evolve into an indie behemoth that, genuinely, could go on to incredibly exciting things across the globe. That’s without mentioning the music, too, which has been near-perfect time and time again.

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Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock

Bob Mould seems to be in celebratory mood these days. Where once, as a young adult, beset by emotional ill health problems, drug abuse, and heightened concerns for those on the edge of existence, he wrote some of the most coruscating guitar, lyric and voice combinations known to man. While he eventually found his inner bittersweet pop melodicism, he often still came screaming out of the traps. Was there a more appropriately entitled Bob Mould track than 1990’s ‘Black Sheets of Rain’?

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White Lies – Concorde 2, Brighton – 31st January 2019

In our interview with indie rockers White Lies, frontman Harry McVeigh told that, “With us, we’ve stuck to the course. We haven’t necessarily grown any bigger, but we haven’t gone anywhere at the same time. We still attract new people.” This was evidently clear with their Concorde 2 show – the first date of their huge UK tour in support of their brand-new album Five – where they showcased an awesome exhibition of their entire catalogue to an extremely passionate crowd both young and old.

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