BPREVIEW: Maxïmo Park @ O2 Institute 05.05.17

Words by Ed King / Pics by Ed Taylor

On Friday 5th May, Maxïmo Park will be playing at the 02 Institute. Doors open from 7pm, with tickets priced at £20.50 + booking fee – as presented by SJM Concerts. Minimum age for entry is 14.

N.B. At the time of writing this gig has been ‘Sold Out’, so check with reputable ticket providers for spares and returns. For direct gig info, click here.

Maxïmo Park will be playing further UK dates in Newcastle (6th May), Aberdeen (8th May), Glasgow (9th May), Sheffield (10th May), London (12th May), Bexhill-on-Sea (13th May), Cambridge (15th May), Cardiff (16th May), Falmouth (17th May), Manchester (19th May), Margate (27th May). For direct tour details, including online ticket sales, click here.

Maxïmo Park will be back in Birmingham on Saturday 16th September – co-headling the main stage at the Beyond the Tracks festival on Eastside Park, Birmingham City Centre. For direct festival info, click here.

Schlepping up, down and around the UK, Maxïmo Park are on the headline trial with their new album, Risk to Exist – released on 24th April through Cooking Vinyl. To read the Birmingham Review of Risk to Exist, from Damien Russell, click here.

Named after a park dedicated to the Cuban Generalisimo Máximo Gómez – a key military figure in Cuba’s war of independence – Maxïmo Park have never been too far away from the murky world of socio-political-meets-pop-rock.

And whilst the-man-in-the-hat, Paul Smith (not that kind of hat, not that Paul Smith), was once quoted as saying ‘I think it’s people who change the world but music can influence people’Maxïmo Park have arguably used their sixteen years of creative endevours to do just that. Plus they’ve made their own beer. So, on the road during the UK’s local elections and campaign trails for the general… that’s going to be some green room to tidy.

But with a front man you’d rip your granny’s teeth out to get, Maxïmo Park also have a reputation for pretty electrifying stage shows, no matter what your political leanings. Expect strutting, jumping, the occasional strobe, and the band’s name (sometimes literally) up in lights somewhere. And with a new album to hock at the merch stand I wouldn’t expect too many pulled punches, even with two fingers extended in the face of totalitarian capitalism.

Birmingham Review last saw Maxïmo Park, again at the 02 Institute, in December 2015 – click here to read Helen Knott’s Birmingham Review of the gig.

‘Risk to Exist’ – Maxïmo Park

Risk to Exist by Maxïmo Park is out on general release from 21st April, via Cooking Vinyl. For more on Maxïmo Park, visit www.maximopark.com

For more on Maxïmo Park at the O2 Institute, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham/events/928783/maximo-park-tickets


For more from the O2 Institute, including full venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs and Tours, visit www.gigsandtours.com

BREVIEW: Elbow @ O2 Academy 01.03.17

BREVIEW: Elbow @ O2 Academy 01.03.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

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Words by Damien Russell / Pics by Michelle Martin

Birmingham ReviewWednesday night after a long day at work; I’m in the mood to be entertained and on their Little Fictions album tour, Elbow are the ones to do it. Little Fictions is already gracing the top spot of the charts and there’s little fear of the band’s new material being an untested surprise. What I’m keen to see is the unknown (to me) quantity of Richard Jupp’s replacement, Alex Reeves.

The O2 Academy is buzzing and it’s full. Not ‘long wait at the bar’ full; ‘standing in the entrance and on the stairs’ full. The atmosphere is good; everyone’s patient and calm but focused on the stage waiting for The Moment. The Entrance.

BREVIEW: Elbow @ O2 Academy 01.03.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewAs I’m sure you may have guessed Elbow come out to a roar of appreciation, then launch into ‘Gentle Storm’ off the new album. I love the faith they put into their new material and I think it’s faith well placed. ‘Gentle Storm’ is a great set opener for a band who make you feel more like friends than fans.

It’s immediately apparent that Guy Garvey is on form tonight and if you haven’t seen him in action before, you really should. He has a flair for the dramatic while singing, flourishing to the crowd and striding across the stage. Plus he has ‘the gift of the gab’ to say the least. A very welcoming host, Garvey seems just as happy to chat as to sing and I would be surprised if there was anyone in the O2 Academy tonight who didn’t feel warmed by his charm and openness.

Elbow move from their new album to ‘The Bones of You’ from their 2008 album, The Seldom Seen Kid; the two songs work well together, building the set nicely. Alex Reeves, the new boy with big shoes to fill, fits in well and seems quite at home. I did notice one timing slip in the middle of the set but the band are working as unit and covered it to the point of being barely worth mentioning.BREVIEW: Elbow @ O2 Academy 01.03.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

As the set progresses and the initial excitement settles down a bit, there are two things that I notice. 1) the lighting design for this show is excellent. Really well thought out rises and falls, good highlighting of key members at the right times and good attention to detail following Garvey in his antics. 2) This is the Guy Garvey show.

Not to say that the band weren’t on form and playing excellently (they did) but Guy Garvey is a natural showman and dominates both the stage and our attention. The other band members are static in comparison and I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a show in two halves, disjointed somehow.

I’m a definite guy. Not often are people left wondering as to what my opinion is. I rarely have to sit and have a good long think about how I feel about something. Elbow, however, have given me a big helping of inner conflict. I love Elbow’s music (and their new music in particular) and I love Guy Garvey, but I found the lack of interaction amongst the band tonight and the one-man stage show unfortunately a bit off-putting.

BREVIEW: Elbow @ O2 Academy 01.03.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewThat aside, Elbow have a cracking back catalogue and the classics go down as well as you would expect. ‘Lippy Kids’ is a real highlight with Garvey predictably getting everyone to sing along (not the only sing-along we had over the evening; another great piece of stage craft saw the audience split into four doing a round of harmonised notes under his direction).

After the final strains of ‘Build a Rocket Boys!’ fades away, the new material holds its own again and ‘Magnificent (She Says)’, the penultimate song before the encore, feels like it would have sat just as well as a set closer. If you like the radio version you’ll love it live.

BREVIEW: Elbow @ O2 Academy 01.03.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review‘My Sad Captains’, ‘One Day Like This’ and ‘Kindling’ were the encore songs and the final testament that the set list is well put together; and the crowd head out into the damp evening air with an atmosphere of satisfaction but sadness that it’s all over.

Misgivings or inner conflict aside, I catch myself singing Elbow songs all the way home. And the next day. And the day after…. I think I’ll see them again next time they’re in town.

For more on Elbow, visit www.elbow.co.uk

For more from the O2 Academy, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

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BPREVIEW: The Pigeon Detectives @ O2 Institute 08.03.17

BPREVIEW: The Pigeon Detectives @ O2 Institute 08.03.17

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Words by Michelle Martin

Fresh off the release of their fifth studio album, Broken Glances, The Pigeon Detectives are landing in Birmingham for a live show on March 8th at the O2 Institute. Their appearance will be supported by Franklin and AutoPilot.Birm_Prev-logo-MAIN

Doors open at 7pm and tickets are prices at £15.00 (excluding fees), as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

The Pigeon Detectives are made up of lead vocals Matt Bowman, Oliver Main and Ryan Wilson on guitar, Dave Best on bass and Jimmi Naylor on drums.

The Rothwell based band formed in 2004 and burst onto the indie rock scene three years later with the release of their debut album, Wait for Me. It peaked at number three in the UK Top 40 Charts, reaching Gold status. That same year The Pigeon Detectives were nominated for Best New Act at the Q Awards and toured with Kaiser Chiefs on their Manchester and London dates.

In 2008 The Pigeon Detectives performed to over 15,000 fans in two days at Leeds Millennium Square, shortly before the release of their second album, Emergency. The album’s lead single, This is an Emergency, reached No. 14 in the UK Singles Chart.

ALBUM: Broken Glances – The Pigeon DetectivesThat same year the band had a demanding schedule of festival appearances, including V Festival, T in the Park and Glastonbury Festival, culminating in a special performance at Alexandra Palace and a sold out UK and Ireland tour to conclude their Emergency promotion.

The Pigeon Detectives achieved their third consecutive Top 40 album with Up, Guards and at ‘Em! In 2011, and supported this with two successful UK tours and an appearance at Reading and Leeds Festival. Their fourth album, We Met at Sea, took the five piece back to their roots, opting to record at Cottage Road Studios in their hometown and touring in northern Europe and Russia.

Their latest record, Broken Glances, was released February 24th 2017 – you can read my Birmingham Review of Broken Glances here.

The Pigeon Detectives return to Birmingham on 8th March, showcasing their latest effort alongside a decade long back catalogue. Check out the double A side release from Broken Glances below:

 ‘Lose Control’ – The Pigeon Detectives

‘Wolves’ – The Pigeon Detectives


The Pigeon Detectives will be playing at the O2 Institute on 8th March, as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

The Pigeon Detectives released Broken Glances on Friday 24th February, out via Dance to the Radio. For more on The Pigeon Detectives, visit www.thepigeondetectives.com

For more on Dance to the Radio, visit www.dancetotheradio.com


For more from the O2 Institute, including a full event programme and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from Birmingham Promoters, visit www.birminghampromoters.com

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BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17

BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Reviewfor-the-full-flickr-of-pics-click-here-sfwfollow-birmingham-review-on-300x26facebook-f-square-rounded-with-colour-5cm-hightwitter-t-square-rounded-with-colour-5cm-highinstagram-logo-webcolours-rgb



Words by Ed King / Pics by Michelle Martin

I am unfashionably late. It’s a Friday, at the sharp end of January, and Emulsion has brought its fifth annual showcase to mac in Birmingham. It’s also five minutes to six and I’ve missed the first event – a curiously nondescript ‘panel discussion’.BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

But with White Rabbit enthusiasm I am throwing myself down (what’s left and what’s explained of) this half day programme – chocked to the Conservatoire gills with both ‘Pop Ups’ and staged performances.

Even as I arrive I hear music, eventually finding it nestled in the alcove between the Arena Bar and mac’s downstairs gallery; a small man plucks a double bass, accompanied by a tall blonde operatic singer. Unamplified and confident. We are immediately surrounded by music. Plus I warm to anything that makes me feel like I’m in a David Lynch film.

The Hans Koller Quartet is playing in… two and half minutes, oh my ears and whiskers, and I make my way into an emptier mac Theatre than I’d have hoped. (I’ve promoted events since I was seventeen and I know the difficulties in dragging out a Birmingham audience. But with Emulsion’s strong tie to Birmingham Conservatoire I would have expected a few more scholarly bums on seats.)

BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewJoe Wright sits at the front right of a busy yet empty stage, in front of an infantry of mic and music sheet stands. Wright is alone and playing his sax across his lap, distorted though a maze of wires and speakers I don’t fully understand. Again it’s a brave exploration – a creative use of a player’s well known instrument, with Wright firmly engrossed in teasing out the sounds and masked melodies through a variety of techniques and intrusions. But beyond that I’m a little lost. As are both the children to my left and the older man I talk to in the Arena Bar afterwards.

A simple introduction to Wright’s performance (which would continue before the second show) might have helped ‘different audiences’ find this ‘exciting not daunting.’ And I don’t buy the premise that it’s weak to say I don’t understand, or that as the audience are mostly from Birmingham Conservatoire why should the organisers try to engage with anyone else – as someone suggested. The emperor is just a rich fool with his knob out and I’m too old for bullies, no matter how they throw their punches.

(I would later catch up with Joe Wright; a kindly human who would elaborate on his aim to “not just play the instrument, but to be part of something it plays through me”. He was clear and effusive. I am paraphrasing and a sucker for context. I think I see a way out of this…)BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

Eventually Fiona Talkington and Trish Clowes take to the stage, giving thanks to Joe Wright, the audience and a litany of funders/partners that have helped Emulsion become a reality. Boxes get ticked as if there was an election brewing.

Set up by Trish Clowes back in 2012, and now run along with Tom Harrison, Emulsion has to date generated several new commissions and held annual showcase events each year since inception. It’s a formidable vehicle, championing the diversity and power of contemporary classical and jazz composers and musicians; a cross section of genres Birmingham is blessed with. Plus this year’s event, Emulsion V, is being broadcast across BBC 3’s Late Junction, Hear & Now and Jazz Now programmes – hence Fiona Talkington. This is a significant score, in media terms, and generates an almost garrulous excitement about where this event could go next. But in a word, kudos.

BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewTrish Clowes introduces the Hans Koller Quartet, with John O’Gallagher taking both the literal and figurative centre stage. Percy Pursglove picks up his first instrument of the day, a double bass, as Jeff Williams slides in behind his drum kit – shoulders, wrists and brushes at the ready. The eponymous band leader sits behind a beautiful Bösendorfer concert grand piano, as I try to think of a Thomas Crown caper that could get the beast into my living room. I’m also a sucker for ivory.

Playing “three arrangements by John” then three pieces from the quartet itself, the alto saxophonist takes an almost immediate lead – ushered along with firm bass, brushed percussion and soft keys. A moderate piano walks us out of the first movement, as the sax take our other hand and pulls us excitedly into the second. The ensemble reaches a crescendo then steps back as Williams sends soft rolls falling like rain on sloping glass, whilst Hans and his hot footed spiders dance forward to take us into the third movement.

The Quartet originals follow a similar play, with the baton being passed between Koller and O’Gallagher, as Pursglove and Williams keep it moving like a John Travolta strut or a James Bond tuxedo. It’s all excellent, but I could watch the double bass and drums for the rest of the day; as the third and final piece steps up the pace we get a Williams solo that makes me want to laugh with pleasure.BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

Back into the bar, as an absurdly long and well mannered queue discuss the events of the day. So far. It’s a short turnaround until the next performance – a showcase of Trish Clowes’ new album, My Iris, by the event organiser herself. More Birmingham Conservatoire students are playing, both in the Arena Bar and the aforementioned alcove, but little is done to send us their way. It feels a touch awkward and ancillary, with most polite chatter finding somewhere out of earshot to stand.

The bell rings. Round Two. Trish Clowes, on saxophone, is joined by Chris Montague on guitar, Ross Stanley on piano/Hammond organ and James Maddren on drums. The stage is set for the Birmingham showcase of My Iris, which the ensemble has been touring since its launch at Pizza Express on Dean Street earlier in the month. Ah, Dean Street… with all your parallel and perpendicular wonders. Moseley doesn’t stand a chance.

Opening with ‘One Hour’, a salute to the “extra dreaming time” you get when the clocks go back, an ambient cloud breaks with Clowes’ (I think…) soprano sax, before a guitar fueled jazz rhythm makes it across stage to the frenetic fingers at the Bösendorfer. Immediate and engaging. Next up is ‘Blue Calm’, which opens with a playful sax and brushed percussion, before dropping back into a small ivory dream and, finally, a clearer sax led state of mind.

BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review‘I Can’t Find My Other Brush’ opens with a punchy staccato, whilst ‘In Between the Moss & Ivy’ follows with a stripped back, softer pace, before squeezing out a cadenza from the soprano sax, a guitar led lullaby, then giving away completely to the concert piano. All eyes, on stage and off, turn to Ross Stanley. The set pretty much mirrors the My Iris track list, with only ‘A Cat Called Behemoth’ getting nudged – allowing the remaining two album tracks to be played later by the Emulsion Sinfonietta.

By the close of the set I am in creative awe. It’s simply that good. Trish Clowes is ambitious, composed, multi-talented and magnanimous – with her fourth album being showcased in front of me. An eclectic with unflinching vision; in both her music and her patter, Clowes is arguably the embodiment of the principles Emulsion was formed to uphold. Which, in less purple prose, is probably why she set it up.

More coffee, a thick chocolate slab, and even a beer – for (by my watch) it was a respectable time to start drinking at the end of the first performance. The Arena Bar and mac foyer is a bustle of enthusiasm, with music again being played at one end or another. I don’t know who’s on or where, but I’m irritated at myself for not spending more time in front of the Birmingham Conservatoire students who have been providing the ‘Pop-Ups’. Peter Bell has been walking around with the threat of performance in his eyes and he’s always worth checking out.BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

Back in for the last hurrah, as the Emulsion Sinfonietta cradles the front of the stage in a proud semi circle. The army advances. Roll Call: Trish Clowes (saxophones), Chris Montague (guitar), Ross Stanley (piano/Hammond organ), Calum Gorlay (bass), Rachel Lander (cello), James Maddren (drums), Percy Pursglove (trumpet), Hans Koller (euphonium), Anna Olsson (violin), Melinda Maxwell (oboe/cor anglais), Max Wellford (clarinets).

The Sinfonietta is the ‘happy byproduct of several Emulsion festivals’ and includes ‘a colouful line up’ of previous performers, collaborators or peers. Tonight they are performing a selection of pieces from guest composers, including Iain Ballamy, Hans Koller, Percy Pursglove, Anna Olsson, Bobbie Gardner, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian and Joe Cutler – opening with ‘Beamish’, where Chris Montague’s relentless guitar underpins a beautiful cello lead from Rachel Lander.

BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham ReviewNext is an original composition from violinist, Anna Olsson – a recent Birmingham Conservatoire graduate and cake maker. Even amidst my fervent note taking I miss the title of this piece, but its small frenetic pockets, blanketed by a lullaby of stings and keys, is one of the most beautiful moments of the evening. I am not classically trained. I am not a musician. I was brought into this world by Erik Satie, Nils Frahm and Ólafur Arnalds. But I have a head and a heart, alongside a deep rooted love for the right combination of ivory and bow. And I simply stopped writing.

Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian presents ‘Muted Lines’ next, a new commission from the London Symphony Orchestra composer-in-residence. Exploring the themes of migration and forced exile, a topic with absurd pertinence, the piece was also constructed to help Trish Clowes progress her vocals – as she sings, at one point a capella, during the performance. ‘Muted Lines’ is well comprised, restrained, yet unabashed and melodic; even to a lay person you can feel confidence of the composition, caressed by saxophone and cradled by percussion.

Bobbie Gardner, another Conservatoire post graduate, has her work performed next – delivered in partnerships of staccato and dissonance, like half an orchestra falling down a spiral staircase. Before Joe Cutler presents his award BREVIEW: Emulsion Festival @ mac 27.01.17 / Michelle Martin © Birmingham Reviewwinning composition – ‘Karembeu’s Guide to the Complete Defensive Midfielder’. Percy Pursglove’s despondently titled ‘He Whose Dreams Will Never Unfold’ sets up the final triptych, followed by Han Koller’s ‘Happy Mountain’ and a piece from Iain Ballamy.

Emulsion V ends as it was presented, without fanfare or fuss and quickly to the bar. It has been an exceptional evening, with challenges and comfort zones thrown around a programme of rich talent and diversity. Trish Clowes’ original endeavour – namely a cross genre celebration and a place to nurture new work – was alive and well on stage tonight, flying past so simply that Derren Brown may have been working the lights. Five hours has seldom seemed so short.

My one gripe is that not more people were there to see it. Birmingham has a lustrous bed of talent, with home spun composers working to evolve an exciting musical landscape, and showcases need to be seen. Emulsion isn’t the only one, there are other events – independently organised or institute affiliated. But us, the audience, the ticket buying public, it takes all of us to make this wheel turn fully.

Oh, and all that stuff about introducing Joe Wright…. Left alone to fend for his creative honour with nothing but feedback and blank faces. Poor bastard. Still, he seemed happy enough. And I guess heated discussions have to start somewhere.

For more on Emulsion Festival, visit www.emulsionmusic.org


For more from Trish Clowes, visit www.trishclowes.com

For more from Tom Harrison, visit www.tomharrisonsax.com

For more from mac, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.macbirmingham.co.uk





BPREVIEW: Primal Scream @ O2 Institute 04.12.16

Primal Scream @ O2 Institute 04.12.16



Words by Ed King

On Sunday 4th December, Primal Scream perform at the O2 Institute. Just let that sink in…

Doors open at 7pm with an 11pm curfew. Tickets are priced at £30.25 (+booking fee) as presented by SJM Concerts. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.Birmingham Preview

With arguably the best name and most fractured career path of any 90’s Indie band, Primal Scream are a corner stone of modern rock. Alongside other Madchester contemporaries, this shoegaze-bluesy-rock-dance-hybrid from Glasgow would become synonymous (and still are) with the crest of the UK Indie scene.

Swinging and missing until the release of Screamadelica in 1991, their second album on another important Indie foundation block – Creation Records, it was the meeting of musical minds from rock and dance that would establish Primal Scream on a serious level. Introduced to Alex Patterson, Thomas Fehlamann, Jimmy Miller and Andrew Weatherall, the cross genre production team took Primal Scream into uncharted territory – fusing their raw rock edge and flower power indulgence with pristine dance euphoria. Brave, bold, and fuck me it worked.

Lead single, ‘Loaded’, charted at No16 in the UK Singles Chart – whilst subsequent singles, ‘Come Together’, ‘Higher than the Sun’ and ‘Movin on Up’ have outlived their peers like a reinforced cockroach with an assault rifle. Screamadelica would also be the winner of the inaugural Mercury Music Award in 1992 – beating Young Disciples, chaosmosisJesus and the Mary Chain, U2, and (mercifully) Simply Red.

Over the next 15 years, Primal Scream would go on to release a further eight studio albums, giving them a more expansive portfolio than their recorded/released peers with an LP grand total of 11. Alongside extensive touring on both sides of the pond and beyond, the boys (and occasional girl – Simone Butler has been in the lineup since Mani’s departure) stayed busy.

Plus the hop scotching of genres and approaches would piss of the fad following music press off no end, encouraging almost schizophrenic commentary from the NME – including a colourful one line summary of the 1994 Give Out But Don’t Give Up. ‘This record was about as innovative as shitting in a ditch.’ Nice.

Primal Scream are now back on the road with studio album No 11, Chaosmosis – released to the world via the band’s own imprint, First International (via Ignition Records), in March this year. Check out the latest single from Chaosmosis below.

‘100% or Nothing’ – Primal Scream

Primal Scream perform at the O2 Institute (B’ham) on Sunday 4th December – as presented by SJM Concerts. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.


For more on Primal Scream, visit www.primalscream.net

For more from the O2 Institute, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs and Tours, including full event listing and online ticket sales, visit www.gigsandtours.com