PHOTO GALLERY: Hundreds join in solidarity with Palestine as peaceful protest causes ‘mass disruption’ at New Street Station

Words by Ed King / Pics by Connor Pope

Hundreds of people joined in solidarity with Palestine on Thursday 2 November, as a peaceful protest was staged at New Street Station – aiming to cause ‘mass disruption’ at the busy commuter hotspot.

Protest organisers were building on the momentum and attention gained by a similar protest at Liverpool Street Station in London on 31 October, calling for the UK government and Westminster to use their position on the global stage to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip – one of the two Palestinian territories in the Middle East, alongside the West Bank.

Organisers further called for the international community to stop their arms trade with Israel, which according to the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) generated £387 million for Britian through issued Single Individual Export Licenses (SIELs) from 2016 to 2020.

Ahead of the New Street Station demonstration, organisers expressed thanks to organisations Jewish Voice for Peace (United States) and Sisters Uncut – the latter a UK based charity ‘taking direct action for domestic violence services’ who were involved in the Liverpool Street Station protest.

Reports claim the protest began at around 4pm, with the final attendees having left the station by 8pm. Birmingham Review could find no significant incidents from the Birmingham New Street demonstration reported by British Transport Police, who were “aware of planned protests” taking place at stations across the UK.

Hamas, who took control of the Gaza Strip in 2026, after the last legislative election to be held in the territory, led attacks on Israel on 7 October – using a combination of missile attacks and ground invasion, reportedly killing over 1400 civilians and soldiers and kidnapping around 200 more.

The Israel Defence Force (IDF), who withdrew their longstanding military occupation of the Gaza Strip on 12 September 2005, initially retaliated with air strikes, and followed with a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after giving civilians living there instructions to evacuate.

At the time of writing, over 9000 people have been reported to have been killed by the IDF operations in Gaza following the 7 October attacks.

All figures quoted have been corroborated by Al-Jazeera, an award winning news outlet based in Qatar and covering stories across the Middle East.

In solidarity with Palestine protest @ New Street Station – Thursday 2 November / Connor Pope

Turning over the log… Kikimora, Birmingham’s new record label, champions the ‘busy grass roots’ creative creatures of the second city

Words & pics by Ed King

Kikimora is a new Birmingham born record label, set up to champion the wonderfully weird and eclectic musical mesh the city of a thousand trades can produce.

Launched by Rosie Tee and Emily Doyle, both established musicians on the Birmingham scene – one a first honours Birmingham Conservatoire graduate and the other a rock and roller who plays in some of Birmingham’s edgiest bands – the fledgling imprint has ambitions to nurture a new artistic collective in the second city.

And with one mini festival in Manchester already under their belt, a gig at an 1800’s pump house in Lichfield on 7 October – In the Bellows (click here for details) – and an existing network featuring some seriously creative creatives, they’ve already got some skin in the game.

Oh, and they like mushrooms (not the late September psychedelics, at least not to our knowledge) – featuring fungi on their logo and inviting Birmingham Review into the dappled shade of Moseley Bog for an interview. Either that, or it’s a mafia hit.

“We are both really interested in the idea of building an eco-system,” explains Emily, as she scuffs up the undergrowth searching for spores, “and in a forest, mushrooms are the glue that hold everything together and link everything up.”

“It’s like the mycelium,” confirms Rosie, “like it’s really small, but it will branch out. Because at the moment, as an arts scene, it’s just challenging. And we’re going to have to pull our resources much more than we have done.

“Birmingham, especially, has got this… it’s almost like you can turn over a log and see this really busy grass roots and DIY scene underneath, but I kind of want to permanently turn over the log so it’s more widely recognised.”

Despite housing the UK’s second largest metropolitan populous, with over 1.1m people living in the city, it can be hard to get a hundred people in a room in Birmingham.

National promoters consistently skip the second city on their UK tours, citing difficulties selling tickets as the main reason for the cut. And if anyone reading this has ever tried to promote a gig in the heart of the Midlands… well, you’ll have some sense of solidarity. But what will Kikimora bring to steady this already shaky creative industry table?

“We want to make events that are more immersive and an experience,” tells Emily, “with visuals, with a really eclectic line up; events where you might see one thing on the bill that you’re like ‘that’s my bag, that’s up my alley’ – say, an electronica act – but then there this weird experimental jazz act also on and you don’t know that’s up your alley… yet.”

Rosie continues: “For the music we’re into, you look at band’s gig list and you see them rocking up at the same venues and similarly always miss Birmingham. Emily travelled to Cardiff the other day to see a band that would never come to Birmingham, but we’d like to bring them to the city.

“And we want to be more than just promoters, we really want to platform the music. Like I said about turning the log over earlier, we’re all really busy creative people doing really exciting stuff and working on our own thing, and we’re thinking ‘is there a way to pull that together?’ I think a label is a great way to do that, because you’re putting an official link between different bands.”

It worked for Giles Petterson, so why not. And ever since the heavy metal and rave scenes, Birmingham has not really punched its weight when breaking new genres. Perhaps the time for Kikimora has come.

“There’s some absolutely incredible music coming out of Birmingham,” continues Rosie, picking her way through the fauna – Emily is busy investigating an overturned log. “And when people look at labels and promoters from other cities, they can piece together the collective around it all. That is happening in other pockets of Birmingham, but we just want to do that for us – to get those bands in and get Birmingham recognised.”

The golden fleece, one that many an inspired Brum based artist and promoter have sought to hang on their wall. But how will Kikimora make the changes they want to see and the city to embrace?

“It’s to do with press, it’s to do with radio, and just mouth to mouth and artist to artist,” explains Rosie, “saying to a band from Manchester, ‘come and gig with us in Birmingham and maybe we’ll come up and gig with you in Manchester.’ That kind of gig swapping; it’s a DIY way of doing things, but it works.”

“It’s going to be a case of just running at it and seeing what happens,” adds Emily, distracted by a large white mushroom surrounded by moss. “I don’t think we claim to have a magic solution… it’s idealistic, but the energy is there for it.”

Passion and vigour are great and will get you so far. So far. But at the end of the day, a label needs product – and even with unshakable aims and ambitions, if there’s nothing to stick on Spotify then it’s not going to work. Or sell. What can the eager to be educated public put on their Kikimora Christmas list?

“The first release will be Rosie Tee,” tells Rosie, “and the new EP I’m working on at the moment, Night Creature. As we’re new and self-funded, we thought it makes sense – from a strategic point of view – to release something first I was going to put out anyway. And this is a good opportunity to marry the start of this label with a release we’re already sitting on.

“But one of the easiest things we can offer up in the early days is DJ sets; Emily is far more seasoned than I am, but it’s something I’ve wanted to get into in a really long time. As a music lover, its good being able to share findings – and it’s a good way to work out what this ‘Kikimora sound’ is.”

“It’s curating on the fly a bit,” adds Emily. “Oh, look at these…” And we stop to examine more mushrooms, this time nestled on the fallen branch of a tree that did not survive the last of Birmingham’s visiting storms.

Cutting across the path, it has become something beyond what it once was – and something else has, for now at least, made the detritus and debris it’s home. There’s another metaphor in there somewhere.

But whilst Kikimora may be idealistic, their word, both women behind the new label are established enough to know the pragmatism needed to make a dream a reality. And they’re not alone, with the ‘network’ they refer to including sought after and exciting Birmingham bands and artists.

“We’ve got so many ideas within our own network at the minute, I feel like we’d need to get through those first,” continues Rosie – as I push for the release schedules of year two, three, four…

“And in order to give all these things the time and energy they deserve, we’ll need to space these things out. I think that’s an important thing to say, that we’re not in any rush. We’re not going anywhere – so, we’re just going take as much time as we need on these things.”

Sounds like a plan, many races are lost because they simply start out being run too fast. And neither Rosie Tee nor Emily Doyle will be leaving the Brum bubble anytime soon.

“At the end of the day,” concludes Emily, as we make out way back out of the wilderness, “we’re doing this because it’s something we really love and want to see happen.”

Kikimora are promoting In the Bellows at the Sandfields Pumping Station in Lichfield on 7 October, in collaboration with Lichfield Arts – presenting Me Lost Me, Zyggurat, Alys Rain.

Tickets are priced at £15. For more event information and links to online sales, visit:

For more on Kikimora follow them on Instagram at:

Jorja Smith pops up at Bene Culture’s Custard Factory store

Words by Emily Doyle / Photographs by Connor Pope

Brit Award Winner and Walsall native Jorja Smith appeared at Bene Culture this weekend to celebrate the launch of her highly anticipated second album, Falling or flying.

After summer single ‘Little Things’ stormed the airwaves, Jorja returns with Falling or flying. Her sophomore album, following on from 2018’s Lost & Found, sees her stepping into a new era of her music, with features from British rapper J Hus and Jamaican singer Lila Iké.

Following an excitable queue snaking round the side of the Custard Factory, fans were welcomed into the store to explore an exhibition and pop up shop. An exclusive collab with Bene Culture forms the centerpiece, with a table of exclusive stamps for shoppers to customise their purchases.

The walls are adorned with photos and collages from the album artwork, and the dress Smith wears on the cover hangs in the window.

And what’s a party without good food; local favourites Only Jerkin’ are keeping everyone well fed with Caribbean style fried chicken and cauliflower, while Big Kid Ice Cream are back in town offering such esoteric flavours as “Champagne and Maraschino Cherry” and “McDonald’s fries”. Peak “mood drinks” have furnished the pop up with a well stocked fridge of their beverages for caffeine enjoyers and avoiders alike.

With a buzz that looks set to build as the weekend grows on, it’s heartening to see one of Birmingham’s success stories celebrating with the community that got them there.

Jorja Smith at Bene Culture, Custard Factory – Friday 29 September / Connor Pope

For more on Jorja Smith visit

For more events at Bene Culture visit

Chapter One: ‘The Heaviest of Bastards’ – Instrumental zine explores the love ‘twixt human and musical hardware

Words by Ed King / Photography by Connor Pope

On Friday 8 September, upstairs at Tilt, fifty people will be thumbing through the pages of their very own limited edition new zine, Instrumental. Well, forty-nine. Birmingham Review has bagged one already.

A sixteen-page exploration of the relationship between a musician and their musical hardware – presented in high contrast red, white, and black – Instrumental is series of five self-narrated love letters, where musicians from the second city talk about a piece of kit, or instrument, they hold close to their creative heart.

Collated by proud Brummie Billy Beale, guitarist in The Devil and Saint Joseph, with photography from Ewan Williamson and Emily Doyle, Instrumental offers a rare and real insight into the personal journeys of sound from some of Birmingham’s more embedded musicians, in a colloquial tone you don’t have to be an engineer to enjoy.

As the copy on the front cover declares, Instrumental is about ‘Objects from Birmingham’s music scene in the words of their owners’. And it’s a fantastic piece of self-publishing.

“I’m a musician, and I think all musicians have this relationship with equipment,” explains Billy, nursing a half a Sunday-afternoon-something from Tilt’s wall mounted craft beer menu. “Some people are much more sort of utilitarian, and some people are more romantic or nerdy about it. I’m definitely more the latter.”

Beautifully anecdotal, this gorgeous looking zine is both funny and endearing – telling stories from the ethereal explanation of a hand-crafted sitar, to the near car toppling rescue of a Hammond T-Series amp that gives both this article and Instrumental’s first chapter their title. But being a part of the city’s music scene, and close to your subjects, was it hard to find the right voices?

“It really was just who was around, you know, who made the time for me,” admits Billy. “And I was conscious about getting a mixture of disciplines and styles and people from different backgrounds and stuff. So, it’s a naked attempt for me to just meet different people and ingratiate myself to them.”

One aspect of Instrumental that stood out was that no one featured in the zine is named in their story, leaving the content to take centre stage – save for a somewhat clandestine list of contributors on the acknowledgments page, you wouldn’t know who was in it. And you could argue with no byline there’s no ego, but in a world not known for shrinking violets…

“I think I always came to them with, like, this is the idea of it… and you’re not going to be in it. Your stuff will be in it, your words will be in it, but you won’t. And everyone was like, that’s fine. That’s cool.”

And on the flip side, was it ever in danger of becoming too geeky or too voluble? Once you opened the Pandora’s box of pedals and impulse musical purchases, was much left on the cutting room floor?

“Not really. I mean, there was one person gave us a lot of time was really super generous, but I had to just go through just think what’s the most sort of entertaining or informative parts of this,” Billy explains, as editors everywhere sigh in solidarity.

“But this is the thing, musicians love talking about stuff, although I think sometimes they’re quite cagey about it – if you’re at a gig for example, and it’s not a great environment to have a normal conversation.

“So, to create an environment where that’s what we’re doing, we’re talking about your stuff and your relationship to it, there wasn’t a lot I ended up binning because it was all good. And I wanted people to feel like their voices were in there.”

Instrumental screams honesty, with the lack of profile pics and personal recognition again leaving you to focus on the stories. And the storyteller free to tell them.

But what about the aesthetic, which looks great on screen (BR had been emailed a preview PDF before the interview) but throws more tactile punches when you hold it in your hand? Instrumental carries an immediate artistic impact from cover to cover, with the ultimate layout and design from Emily Doyle.

“I was looking at, would you believe it, 50s catalogues for guitars, and they just have this strange kind of visual language and identity. Other than front covers there’s no human element to them; but the design, the print style, was just really inspiring. So, I thought wouldn’t it be cool to talk to people that I know, that I’d like to get to know, but sort of divorce it from the people in that way, like a catalogue?

“I met Ewan (Williamson, photographer), here at Tilt actually, and I showed him the catalogues on my phone and explained it’s going to look a bit like this. Do you reckon you can shoot this? He is an absolute pro; he knows what he’s doing.

“Then when he was editing the photos, he was like ‘I’m just making sure you probably going to print either black and white or two colour, or whatever.’ And I was ‘yeah, just high contrast.’ He absolutely smashed it; I couldn’t be happier with the work everyone’s contributed really.”

Printed at Birmingham’s hidden design gem, The Holodeck, the style was further carried by the studio’s own approach. Billy adds: “I didn’t really choose the paper, and the colour formatting is just because of the printing method that The Holodeck does. But this was my ideal version all the way through.

“At the beginning I was thinking, can I afford it? Should I just get it done in black and white? And then it ended up being within budget to get it done exactly how I want to do it. It really works because the old catalogues would have been done in a very similar way.”

A self-published labour of love, only 50 copies of Instrumental have been printed and will be available to buy over the counter, for a mere £5, at the official yet low key launch event. And whilst Volume One is proudly emblazoned on the front, at the time of writing we can’t put money on the table over whether Volume Two (or Three) may appear.

“I’m kind of waiting to get this out there and see how it does,” tells Billy, “before I decide to put my energy into doing more. There’s a bit of momentum now that I’m promoting the launch, and people have said ‘Oh, I’d be up for doing this’, but I haven’t planned it yet.

“It’s I think, at best, it’s like to one or two other volumes, and then it will just be a nice little triptych or something.”

But the launch party we can confirm, at Tilt on Friday 8 September. And that it’s free to enter, with DJs from Birmingham’s recently launched Kikimora label playing from 5pm to 8pm – after which half the room will be heading to The Night Owl to see Brian Lightning.

“8 September, it’s a Friday,” reiterates Billy, “and it’s free in. Just please buy a zine if you come, and buy some beer and give Tilt some money. But just turn up. There’s a lot of gigs on, it’s a Friday night, so I’ve timed it so people can come on their way in or out of town – too or from work or a gig, whatever.”

“I hope it’s (Instrumental) just got its own identity, and it is what it is,” continues Billy, as we leave the science lab tables, chairs, and beautiful curved window of Tilt’s upstairs private hire, “and it resonates with people.

“But if you like grassroots music, scenes, live music, or you’ve ever been to your gig and saw someone and thought ‘they’ve got a good guitar, what keyboard are they using, how do they make that noise…?’ Then check it out.”

Instrumental will be launched at a free party at Tilt, Birmingham City Centre, on Friday 8 September – with DJs from Kikimora playing from 5pm to 8pm.

For more on Instrumental follow the zine’s Instagram account at

For more on Tilt visit
For more on The Holodeck visit

Saturday At Birmingham Pride

Writer Jasmine Khan / Photographer Mx Neffy

The main pride parade down New Street has become saturated with rainbow capitalism in recent years. It’s worth a quick look to spy Birmingham’s burgeoning queer talent, with House of Allure and Mobilise leading the charge. But as soon as I see privatised water systems responsible for mass sewage fumbles donning mushy performative slogans, it’s my cue to sashay home and prepare for the main event.

I know the layout of Pride changed from last year, the Community Stage has moved, and we’re a bit more packed in. But I hope that’ll add to the sense of pride and party.

It’s no surprise Hurst Street is lit by 3 pm.

The music’s loud and varies from early 90’s pop to early 2020’s pop. The food smells great.  People look fierce. And, every now and then, a particularly glamorous gay treats the main road like a runway – strutting, voguing, and posing as the rest of us fans obsess from the pavement.

It’s time to see some acts, and I know exactly who I’m going to take in first, Ryan Lanji. Ryan isn’t necessarily Birmingham-born-and-bred, but his dad is a certified Brummie so he still counts in my books. Ryan’s DJing today, but he also heads up Hungama, a queer South Asian collective based in London.

Last year, we were treated to a full set from the entirety of Hungama, a delight for any desi queer of which there (unsurprisingly) many in Brum Town. But this time, we’ve just got Ryan, not that he’s lacking.

Introduced by the ever-well-dressed and charismatic Char Bailey, Ryan’s set starts with heavy bass and then slowly introduces a romantic, melodic Bollywood tune playing over the top. The bass is like lead pulling you down, and the track on top is like a hot air balloon pulling you up, up, and away into the spectacular Saturday sun.

In the VIP section, my hips roll. I’m twirling my hands, spinning in circles, stamping and kicking my feet in time with the bhangra crossed with DnB. It’s truly a moment of realisation – just like last time – for my little Pakistani self to dance to music that speaks to my desi culture and sends love to me at Pride.

My eyes have been closed for a while. It’s a particularly filthy mix and requires my full attention. But when I open them, I’m disappointed by what I see – a selection of white girls melting like ice creams in the sun, sitting down against the barriers at the front of the stage with their backs turned to Ryan.

To me, it’s disrespectful. No one’s making you listen and no one’s surprised that the bhangra didn’t bang for you. But you can leave, don’t stay with your back turned to the artist, sitting on the floor and killing the vibe. You don’t realise how rare a vibe it is…

Then, it dawns on me, VIP definitely doesn’t stand for very important POC. There are no people who aren’t white here. Not unless they’re a performer, me, or my photographer, Neffy. I wouldn’t mind as much if people were attempting to get into the groove, even a measly try at screwing in the light bulb while patting the dog would be appreciated.

It’s early, and I’ll admit members of my community are notoriously late to a party, but having a VIP section at Pride gives me the ick full stop. With weekend tickets costing just under £60 and single-day Pride access costing over £40, an additionally expensive and exclusive VIP section doesn’t spread the feelings of togetherness and belonging I’d hoped to encounter.

Now I’ve thought about money, I seem to see it everywhere. Walking through the main arena, a growing list of corporate sponsors assert their presence amongst the ‘Dicks on Sticks’ stand and intersectional flags, joining Pride’s notoriously queer main sponsor, HSBC. There’s a place to sign up for the Lidl Plus App. Jaguar are flogging a car…

It’s too much, tacky, and not giving me queer at all. But, it is giving charity because last year Pride raised a whopping “excess of 400k for LGBTQ+ projects, plus above £105k in additional subsidies for LGBTQ+ organisations.” So, maybe people think it’s justified?

I persevere to the dance tent to lighten up a bit, catch up with Neffy, and get lost in the beat. Lauren Goulder, DJ and footballer, is cranking some housy DnB, and it’s exactly what I need to groove the grump away.

We pop to the Conrad Guest Cabaret Stage, and I definitely don’t bitch about the weird VIP section, which acts as a three-metre deep distancing zone between the performers and their crowd 99 percent of the time. I’m only around for an act or two, and I don’t manage to catch names, but the Cabaret stage really satisfies the closeted GCSE drama/theatre gay that secretes within.

We can’t be late for RuPaul’s UK Drag Race season four winner, Danny Beard. It’s back to Main Stage, and, unsurprisingly, Danny is the fabulous enby legend we all expect them to be. For their first song, Danny murders Adele in their crow-inspired floor-length gown, and not murder in the way you or I would murder it, murder it as in they absolutely killed in.

Not just a looks queen – but definitely still a looks queen – it’s worth mentioning for those who don’t know Danny – they are singing live, and their voice sails across the summer breeze. Their firm and sassy, but still kind, stage presence reminds me for some reason of Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.

The crowd gets some ABBA and a duet with Birmingham’s very own Fatts Butcher. Danny takes time to shout out to their “Gays”, “Lesbians”, “Bis and Pans”, and ‘Trans/Non-Binary siblings” individually. The ‘Bis and Pans’ receive a solid boo from the crowd, which is definitely biphobic, but also a bit valid because we can be pretty trash.

Danny, a bit lost for words and slightly stressed, sighs, “Common now.” and “It’s Pride…” shaking their head. I’m laughing, but my friend looks a bit downtrodden at the crowd’s bi-beratement.

Neffy lets me know they’re heading over to directly pinpoint the Carlos Medina Community Stage to get a good spot. I take a nose at the facilities after I’ve finished dancing to Danny Beard’s tremendous set.

The toilets are delightful, plentiful in loo roll, and gender neutral, and the drinks aren’t too expensive either. I know I’ve probably missed House of Allure and Cake Boi, who I can solidly say are worth going to see, but I’m hoping to catch Kenya Knott and Donna Trump, so it’s time for me to hit the Community Stage.

Texting Neffy, they can’t locate it – strange.

Neffy tells me the stage in front of Nightingale Club is being taken down as we speak, which doesn’t make sense because it’s only 8pm, and the Community Stage is being moved. Neffy walks around the corner and then gets redirected to the Future Stage, assured that it’s becoming the Community Stage.

I meet them there, and we wait for a bit. Some DJs are spinning good tunes, but the tent’s pretty empty. We proceed to wander around aimlessly, looking for signs and asking around after our local legends. Maybe things are running late at the Future Stage and soon queens will appear, so we wait for a bit.

It hits 9 pm, then almost 9:30 pm. We’ve all started sitting down and leaning on things, and everyone’s miffed to have walked out of the main arena and rolled around like lemons for the past hour and a half.

We’re a bit DJ-ed out for Jodie Harsh, and the Sugar Babes are a while away now. I jokily remind Neffy that all pictures taken of the iconic British trio must be approved by management first, and we both roll our eyes.

Deciding to conserve energy, we depart and I enjoy ‘Push the Button’ as it blares through my open bedroom window back in Balsall Heath, dreaming about the very best of Birmingham, the one the only Mx. Black Peppa, who I’ll witness live and in the flesh on Main Stage tomorrow.

Saturday @ Birmingham Pride 27.05.23 / Mx Neffy

For more from Birmingham Pride go to:

For more from House of Allure go to:

For more from Mobilise go to:
For more from Ryan Lanji go to:
For more Lauren Goulder go to:
For more from Danny Beard go to:
For more from Fatt Butcher go to: