The return of Slowdive back in 2014 was as surprising as it was triumphant. Surprising due to the waning popularity of the band – and the entire shoegaze genre – the Reading quintet have relished their return to the forefront of the now burgeoning genre. With their fourth, eponymous album now under their belt – the record dropping last year to critical acclaim – the band have rightly taken their place as one of Britain’s best bands. Their Concorde 2 show, which was a special warm up for a huge support slot with The War on Drugs at The O2 the night after, proved that their niche appeal is now developing into something much bigger. An immensely tight live band, who sound as good on the night as they do on record, Slowdive’s shoegaze goodness brought a hypnotising nature to the 600-capacity venue.
The members of the Wu-Tang Clan have been as productive as ever, with the legendary rap group releasing The Saga Continues last year. Some of the members have also individually gained a lot of attention thanks to more recent releases. This includes Ghostface Killah’s The Lost Tapes, which came out in October, and the release of the late, great Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s posthumous single ‘Intoxicated’, celebrating what would have been his 50th birthday. However, now is the time for one of Wu Tang’s most prominent members, Method Man, to step into the spotlight with his newest album Meth Lab 2: The Lithium.
This was a night of mixed emotions. On the plus side, the Brighton-formed Blood Red Shoes are back in action, following a near split, and with a new album due for release in the new year. The dynamic duo of Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell are roaring back into life. However, for Sticky Mike’s, the flame is shortly to be extinguished, this coming New Year’s Eve, to be exact. It will be the end of a long road (barring some miracle of re-birth) for the venue that has been a multitude of incarnations since the 90s. Blood Red Shoes became alerted to its imminent closure and decided that they wanted to be a part of the tearful farewell, quickly organising this show.
Whether you’re a fan of the band’s music or just looking for a brilliant time, Skindred continue to tick all the boxes
With a fusion of wild shrieking psych-tinged guitars, as well as a laddish swagger you’d expect from a Madchester band, Husky Loops are almost crafting an entirely new genre for themselves.
A performer at ease with his audience, Ben Ottewell is truly superb, frankly far superior live than on record, if that can be believed.
A pop band steeped in the modernist pop of Sampha and The xx with a more heavenly slant, the duo performed an elegant, euphoric and intrinsic take on electronica.
You can’t deny that record label Heist or Hit, home to Her’s, Honey Moon and Pizzagirl, doesn’t have a type when it signs its acts. Those three in particular make dreamy, soothing indie-pop music and, in the live sphere, are terrifically funny and entertaining. Pizzagirl, also known as Liam Brown, displayed this superbly with his headline set at The Hope & Ruin. Made up of brilliant pop songs, a superb sense of occasion and amazing stage presence, Pizzagirl is wickedly talented and an excellent live performer.
Having formed in 2010, Years & Years have become a British electro-pop sensation, featuring on tracks with the likes of Clean Bandit and releasing two highly-acclaimed albums, in their debut Communion and recent sophomore album Palo Santo.
Shoegaze legends Ride aren’t known as an acoustic band. Their huge, melodic noise rides waves of ethereal vocals and guitars. They did (and still) do it well, and that was the reason people got into them in the first place. It may seem strange for a band to want to do this. Yet, like Nirvana, who helped pave the way for stripping things back via their legendary MTV Unplugged sessions of the early 90s, it is perhaps surprising how effective it can be. Especially if it’s in the right setting.