NOT NORMAL NOT OK: MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens, Sofa King – live gig fundraiser @ Hare & Hounds 07.06.19

On Friday 7th June, the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign hosts it’s first ‘live gig fundraiser’ at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) – with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King all performing.

Doors open at the Hare & Hounds from 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £5 (early bird) and £7 (second release/otd) – as presented by NOT NORMAL NOT OK. For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here. The event is further supported by BBC Introducing West Midlands and Birmingham Review.

Tickets can be bought through See Tickets (click here) and through Skiddle (click here). Physical tickets are also available from the artists themselves, or by contacting the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign team directly (click here).

NOT NORMAL NOT OK was launched in June 2018, set up ‘to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.’

Following an op-ed piece published on Birmingham Review, citing the actions of two Birmingham based promoters – one who sexually assaulted a singer of a band they were promoting and the other who made some frighteningly misogynistic comments about women attending their venue – the NOT NORMAL NOT OK partnered with West Midlands Police and the Rape & Sexual Violence Project (R.S.V.P.) to begin outreach work at live music venues in the West Midlands.

For the past year, NOT NORMAL NOT OK has been distributing campaign stickers at live music events across the region – with both the gig going public and the artists performing donning the black and yellow NOT NORMAL NOT OK logos at the gigs they attend.

Venues across the Midlands have been welcoming the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign into their events, from the Town & Symphony Halls to independent venues such as the Hare & Hounds and The Dark Horse – showing solidarity for the message of zero tolerance when it comes to sexual violence.

Now the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign is launching its own programme of live music events, starting with a ‘live gig fundraiser’ at the Hare & Hounds on Friday 7th July – with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King all performing on stage. The event is being supported by BBC Introducing West Midlands, one of the first media outlets to get behind the campaign, who secured MeMe Detroit as the headline act.

A second fundraising gig is being held at Centrala on Friday 25th October, with electro-rockers Flight Brigade coming to Birmingham for the penultimate date on their Chased by Wolves album tour – Flight Brigade‘s new single, ‘Tinderbox’, will be played on BBC Introducing Solent on Saturday 25th May between 8 and 9pm.

All money raised from the NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraisers will go directly back into the campaign – supporting continued outreach work with live music venues, alongside bespoke counselling/advocacy training for NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign staff with R.S.V.P.

“NOT NORMAL NOT OK was born out of a reaction to stories of sexual assault, intimidation and violence within our local music scene,” explains NOT NORMAL NOT OK Campaign Director, Ed King. “It began with one person’s story, a singer in a band who had been sexually assaulted by the promoter who was putting their gig on. But as we started to talk to people about sexual violence in the music scene, towards those both on stage and off stage, we were told about a frightening number of cases – from people being sexually assaulted in a crowd, to rape. 

It was a horrible realisation and one that I, both personally and professionally, had been naively unaware of. But many people want to see change and with the help of both the music community and our campaign partners – including West Midlands Police and the Rape & Sexual Violence Project – we are now shinning a light on the issue, talking about the ‘elephant in the room’ and exposing a culture of sexual violence that is disturbingly commonplace in the music scene.”

NOT NORMAL NOT OK hosts it’s live gig fundraiser with MeMe Detroit, The Butters Aliens and Sofa King at the Hare & Hounds Friday 7th June – with tickets priced at £5 (early bird) and £7 (second release/otd). For direct gig info and links to online ticket sales, visit the Facebook Event Page by clicking here.

For more on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, or to seek help and advice about issues surrounding sexual violence, visit

For more on MeMe Detroit, visit 
For more on The Butters Aliens, visit
For more on Sofa King, visit

For more on the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including venue details and further event listings, visit

ELEANOR’S PICK: Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

ELEANOR’S PICK: Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Words by Eleanor Sutcliffe

Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) comes to the NEC in Birmingham on 28th May. For a direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit

As one of the most anticipated dates in the UK pop punk calendar, it’s safe to say Slam Dunk Festival are taking no prisoners with this year’s line up. With a bevy of bands and artists descending upon the NEC in just under a week’s time, I took it upon myself to comb through the roster and select a number that I personally love.

ELEANOR’S PICK: Holding Absence at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Holding Absence / Rock Sound Breakout Stage

Birmingham favourites, Holding Absence, are set to make their Slam Dunk debut this year on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. Having recently announced the departure of guitarist Feisal El-Khazragi, it will be one of their first performances without him in their line up. But with Holding Absence recently nominated for Best British Breakthrough Band at the 2018 Heavy Metal Awards, plus playing a string of dates supporting Being as an Ocean across Europe in June, they’re certainly not letting El-Khazragi’s departure slow them down.

Represented by Sharptone Records – who bought us the likes of Don Broco, Miss May I and We Came As Romans – the Cardiff based band also recently toured and released a co-EP with Loathe titled This Is As One, which earned them numerous positive reviews from critics for tracks such as ‘Saint Cecilia’.

Holding Absence perform at 3:30pm on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. For more on Holding Absence, visit

Saint Cecilia’ – Holding Absence


ELEANOR’S PICK: PVRIS at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

PVRIS / Jägermeister Main Stage

Having recently performed at Coachella, PVRIS will be returning to Birmingham hot off the heels of the American leg of their All We Know of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell tour – promoting their latest album of the same name.

Lynn Gunn’s dreamy vocals, combined with the band’s heavy rock influences, have earned them a dedicated fanbase and won them Rock Sound’s Artist of the Year Award back in 2017. Here’s hoping PVRIS also perform some tracks from their debut album, White Noise, with songs such as ‘St. Patrick’ and ‘My House’ being on my personal wish list.

PVRIS perform at 8:15 pm on the Jägermeister Main Stage. For more on PVRIS, visit

‘Anyone Else’ – PVRIS


ELEANOR’S PICK: Taking Back Sunday at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Taking Back Sunday / Monster Energy Main Stage

Returning to Slam Dunk for the 3rd time, Taking Back Sunday were in the first wave of bands to be confirmed to at perform this year’s festival.

Having released their 7th album, Tidal Waves, in September 2016, and parting ways with their original guitarist Eddie Rayes last month, it will be interesting to see if we get to hear any new material from the group. Although I’m hoping to hear classic tracks such as ‘You’re So Last Summer’ and ‘MakeDamnSure’ as well as songs such as ‘You Can’t Look Back’ from their latest album live.

Taking Back Sunday perform at 8:05pm on the Monster Energy Main Stage. For more on Taking Back Sunday, visit

‘You’re So Last Summer’ – Taking Back Sunday


ELEANOR’S PICK: Astroid Boys at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18Astroid Boys / Impericon Stage

The Impericon stage will be hosting hardcore grime band Astroid Boys, who have always delivered impressive shows in Birmingham. Growing steadily since their formation back in 2012, they were bought to my attention after being featured in BBC Radio 4’s documentary Operation Grime, which tailed them on a tour across the UK.

Astroid Boys‘ music is not for the faint hearted – expect brutal lyrics addressing issues such as racism, mashed with hardcore and grime influences to create a sound you probably have never heard before… but will just as probably want to listen to again.

Astroid Boys perform at 2:20 pm on the Impericon Stage. For more on Astroid Boys, visit

‘Foreigners’ – Astroid Boys


ELEANOR’S PICK: As It Is at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

As It Is / Signature Brew Stage

Announcing the August release of their latest album, The Great Depression, only a few days ago, Brighton based As It Is will be headlining the Signature Brew stage this year.

A band who’ve amassed a dedicated fan base with tracks such as ‘Dial Tones’ and ‘Hey Rachel’, their material is catchy, easy to listen to and fun – however it’s unfair to assume they lack a more serious side. Their latest release, ‘The Wounded World’, delves into a much darker side of their ever-expanding noise, having been cited by the band as a ‘new era’ of their music which expands on ‘the societal romanticisation of depression’ and ‘the disrepair of present-day human connection’.

As ever with this band, though, As It Is approach their subject with the respect and sensitivity it warrants – referencing their new material as a means for them to work to create a positive change for mental health.

As It Is perform at 8:30pm on the Signature Brew Stage. For more from As It Is, visit

‘The Wounded World’ – As It Is


ELEANOR’S PICK: Luke Rainsford at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Luke Rainsford / The Key Club Acoustic Stage

The Key Club Acoustic Stage is hosting a stellar line up of bands and artists, including Birmingham’s Luke Rainsford – combining upbeat guitar with gut wrenching vocals, making music that is hard hitting but a real treat to listen to.

Having toured the UK extensively since the release of I Feel At Home With You in February 2017, and having recently released his latest EP, I Just Don’t Deserve To Be Loved, in April 2018, Rainsford’s music deals with difficult issues such as loss, bereavement, low self esteem and mental health. Good, honest stuff.

Luke Rainsford performs at 4:15 pm on The Key Club Acoustic Stage. For more on Luke Rainsford, visit

‘Home Safe’ – Luke Rainsford


ELEANOR’S PICK: Stand Atlantic at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Stand Atlantic / Rock Sound Breakout Stage

Australian trio, Stand Atlantic, will also be making their Slam Dunk debut this year, having recently toured with other performers such as ROAM and Knuckle Puck. With their latest EP, Sidewinder, reaching an impressive #10 on Rock Sound’s Top 50 Albums of 2017, and having been cited by Kerrang! as one of the hottest bands of 2018, Stand Atlantic are proving they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Claiming influences from Blink-182 to The 1975, they’re certainly considered a mixed bag musically too – but in the best possible way. Trust me. Go and listen to ‘Coffee at Midnight’. You can thank me later.

Stand Atlantic perform at 6:00 pm on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. For more on Stand Atlantic, visit 

‘Coffee at Midnight’ – Stand Atlantic

Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) comes to the NEC in Birmingham on 28th May. For direct information on Slam Dunk Festival 2018, including details on all the events happening across the UK, visit

For a direct info and online ticket sales for Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands), visit

For more from the Genting Arena, including full events listing and venue details, visit

ED’S PICK: April ‘18

Words by Ed King

Easter Sunday, 1st April… There’s probably a joke in there somewhere. But with a basket of listings and entertainment based excel spreadsheets to plough through who has the time to be witty? Or hunt for Easter eggs, for that matter. Being an adult sucks.

However (…are you ready for this segue) it does allow me to enjoy all the delights of the Flatpack Film Festival without worrying about ID – actually, I’m not sure there’s too much on the programme with an age restriction but Dots & Loops are part of the festival and they brought us Lesley the Pony Has and A+ Day!, so…

Back for festival number 12, those glorious creatives at Flatpack have put on a nine day smorgasbord of celluloid, digital, and other audio/visual treats – running from 13th to 22nd April, in a variety of venue across the city. Too much to cram into this round up; look out for our more in-depth cherry pick in the days to come, or click here for more direct information on the full programme.

Elsewhere in the non-greenfield, Ebola flirting, footwear wrecking land of multi-stage events, we have the Birmingham Literature Festival – hop scotching from various corners of the REP to the Birmingham and Midland Institute from 27th to 29th April. Now old enough to drink beer in America, this year’s Birmingham Literature Festival has a focus on women in literature and publishing, alongside a weekend long programme of ‘inspiring conversations, writing and debate’. Again too much to adequately surmise, but click here for more direct info.

Following on with a female focus, Birmingham Jazz launches its Legends Festival on 27th April – running as a series of satellite events across the city until 20th May. This year’s linchpin is ‘Celebrating Women in Jazz’, with local artists such as Trish Clowes joining a myriad of talent from across the globe. Too much to fit into… you know the drill, click here.

Theatre comes in all shapes and sizes this month, including a couple of choice cuts on Hurst Street – with Wicked beginning its Birmingham run at the Hippodrome (4th-29th Apr) and The Twisted Tale of Hansel and Gretel at the Patrick Centre (4th– 8th Apr).

Across the duel carriageways and road works we have Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock coming to the Birmingham REP (10th – 14th) followed by the political see-saw of 1970’s Britain in This House (17th – 21st) – reminding us fear mongering comes from both sides of the aisle and a dash of vitriol isn’t a particular new idea. How times have changed… or not.

Music takes its usual fat belly slice of our monthly listings, with a few ‘big gigs’ of notE coming to the NEC portfolio – as the Genting Arena sees both Arcade Fire (15th Apr) and Dua Lipa (17th Apr), whilst Arena Birmingham welcomes the Manic Street Preachers (27th Apr) back to the city.

Playing across the non-arena rooms of our musical city, the Hare & Hounds has another eclectic mix – with Kushikatsu Records presenting Shonen Knife (15th Apr) followed Snowpoet (19th Apr) courtesy of Jazzlines. Whilst The Glee Club sees the very welcome return of Nerina Pallot (9th Apr) stopping off in Birmingham on the second date if her UK tour. Fingers crossed there’s a piano on stage.

The Sunflower Lounge sees Killer Wave and Outlander host their ‘Help the Homeless’ pay-as-you-feel charity fundraiser (8th Apr) – with all money raised going to Shelter and Tabor House. Then we have Lucy May Walker playing her first headline show in Birmingham (18th Apr) – both events well worth a stop, look and listen. And £5 of your hard earned cash, of course.

Our mobile branded venues see a bevy of acts this month too, with the O2 Academy presenting George Ezra (4th Apr), The Vaccines (7th Apr), Trivium (17th Apr), The Streets (19th Apr), Coasts (21st Apr) and Akala (24th Apr). Whilst the O2 Institute leads out with Walk the Moon (7th Apr), Little Comets (14th Apr), Aquilo (16th Apr), Of Mice and Men (25th Apr) and Sharon Needles: Battle Axe Tour (26th Apr).

A special mention also has to go to the Hummingbird-Menagerie-Indie-salad days-nostalgia trip coming to the O2 Academy with Love From Stourbridge – featuring The Wonder Stuff and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (14th Apr). Someone pass me my German army shirt, skateboard and a can of Red Stripe, we’re going early 90’s feral…

And if you’re committed to your anti-corporate support of live music, never fear as mac welcomes Juice Aleem & Surge Orchestra (21st Apr) whilst Mama Roux’s serves two sides of the musical rainbow with The Herbaliser (19th Apr) and Mallory Knox (24th Apr)… probably not a good idea to get those dates mixed up in your diary.

Elsewhere in the city, comedy offers a relatively strong respite from those kids and their music – with The Glee Club presenting Tony Law (13th Apr), Alun Cochrane (15th Apr) and Craig Campbell (22nd Apr).

Or if you just want to stand and stare, you could waste a happy hour or two at Lewes Herriot: The Glass Arcana exhibition at Artefact in Stirchley (13th – 14th Apr). Or watching the flyers unfold with an exhibition from the seminal 90’s ambient electro club Oscillate, at Centrala (16th – 28th Apr) – bearing in mind there is an end of exhibition party with HIA and POLE (28th Apr) so you might want to do more than actually just stand and stare. Or not. Depends how you dance to Sun Electric, I suppose. Necking enough amphetamines to kill a small horse always worked for me, but vegetarian options are available.

But to end on the most glamorous of high notes (pun absolutely intended) Paul Alexsandr and Dragpunk present Candyland at The Nightingale (6th Apr) – a choc full celebration of ‘local and national UK drag of all genders, sexualities and abilities that you’ll adore.’ Then at the other end of the April rainbow, Opulence are launching Mother’s Meeting at Bar Jester (28th Apr) – a band spanking new ‘performance night dedicated to showing off a variety of drag and queer talent across Birmingham and the U.K.’, with special guest Charity Kase joined by a pageant of the Opulence crew on stage and Elliot Barnicle on the decks.

Birmingham can be proud for many reasons, but the cross over embrace of its drag community is one to really get those flags waving. We love covering it, and it seems the punters of Birmingham love supporting it. So, Vive la/le drag community of our fair/fairer city, alongside all who sail on these most wonderful of waters. Save some energy though, Birmingham Pride is a mere calendar page turn away.

And wait, I’ve just thought of one. A Jewish carpenter and a 6ft rabbit walk into Cadbury World…

For more on any of the events listed here, click on the highlighted hyperlinks. Ed King is Editor-in-Chief of Review Publishing, which issues both the Birmingham Review and Birmingham Preview. To follow Ed King on Twitter, click here.

BREVIEW: Beyond The Tracks… Sunday @ Eastside Park 17.09.17

Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review




Words by Damien Russell / Pics by Michelle Martin

Day three of any festival weekend is always a tough one for me. Day one I’m mad for it. Day two is a recover and then get back on it kind of day. Day three is usually spent sober, tired, and can be a very tough sell.

There’s also no pretending I’m not hungover. So, having made it down in time for breakfast a fruit based recovery drink is in order. The city centre feel quiet as Paul and I head on the now familiar journey to Eastside Park. And whilst it takes a little longer to get through the gates with our bags today, the queue isn’t vast.

That being so, it’s a pleasant surprise to see a fair-sized crowd already watching Nadine Shah as she performs a mix of new and classic material; she is good naturedly takes requests and works well with the audience, as well as putting on an expressive performance. Shah is an artist who knows how and when to bring her political agenda into her art, mentioning it, tastefully, toward the end but in a manner that leaves little room for confusion on what her point may be. Dorcha – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewNadine Shah and her band put on a good show, and the few times where the saxophone and guitar clash – making the instrumentation a little muddy – can certainly be forgiven.

The next band on are Dorcha, on the second stage. Unfortunately they are absolutely not what my brain needs at the time of day they are on. They play well together, but the sound is high pitched and quite intense, and while I did on-site describe them as the sound I would expect a band to make when falling slowly down a hill, this was largely an expression of how they made my hangover feel rather than a statement on them as a group.

Not one to be driven to drink on a final festival day, I nevertheless relent and get a recovery cocktail – clutching it tightly in my hand, I head back to the stage as Peter Hook & The Light start their set. Peter Hook, being a previous Joy Division member, has brought with him a little slice of the 80’s. No bad thing in my opinion. But I must admit, I’d had never expected to see two bass guitars playing complimentary melodies and with different effects. And yet the result is definitely a positive one.

Peter Hook himself has a great, powerful stage presence. He jokes about being from up north and waiting for his son (being the other bass player, Jack Bates) to get ready. At 61, and with 41 years in the industry (possibly more), Hook puts on an excellent show. The band play  a mix of New Order and Joy Division numbers and end with, you guessed it, Love Will Tear Us Apart; a classic, but one that didn’t excessively stand out in an all-round high-quality set.

With little change-over time, Hoopla Blue take to the second stage. I can see straight away that these guys are what I would expect from the term ‘shoegaze’ – although perhaps ‘stargaze’ would be more fitting and would work well with their ethereal, spacey sound. Hoopla Blue have some great songs with ‘Rotten Sodden Loot’ arguably the best of the day.

Hoopla Blue – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewI must admit that seeing them in a live setting doesn’t work as well for me; having listened to their recorded material, I prefer the records. Not to disparage a good set too heavily, but some bands are just more effective in a studio setting; fact that Hoopla Blue come across as slightly shy, alongside the limits imposed by live sound, make me feel that their recorded sound wins out.

That being the case, I take the executive decision that standing for most of the weekend has made my knees hurt, so I retreat to an area of open space and take a seat where I can still see the stage. I’ve had a message from a friend telling me to be sure to check out both Slowdive and The Jesus & Mary Chain; knowing Slowdive are on next, I prepare to either stay put or make a move to the front.

Staying put it is. Slowdive are continuing what I’m beginning to think might be the theme for the rest of the day: ethereal, slightly psychedelic, rock. They provide a good soundtrack to sitting in the sun sipping an iced drink, and have the kind of trippy visual effects on stage that I was Slowdive – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Reviewexpecting from Friday night – with the video screen working wonders for their live show. It may be unfair to make comparisons, but in some ways Slowdive put me in mind of a The-Wall-era Pink Floyd. No bad thing; music to relax to, a great soundtrack to a Sunday afternoon.

While Slowdive’s ‘When the Sun Hits’ does indeed bring out the sun, the closing of their set seems to encourage the lovely rainbow over the stage to become the considerably less lovely rain. Blackash take to the second stage under a slightly gloomy mix of cloud, rain and sun, all paying Beyond The Tracks a visit in around five minute cycles. Not to worry, Blackash are here to brighten your day regardless.

The first thing that springs to mind is Assassin’s Creed, as the band are all dressed in partial face coverings and hoods. I was expecting this to some degree, but the image still makes an impact and it’s hard to know how to take them. None too seriously as it turns out; Blackash are a band here for a good time and here to make you have a good time too. They suffer a little with the sound and the vocals are both lacking volume and a little of their trademark Wild Beasts – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Reviewdistortion.

Nevertheless, they are up-tempo (which I am infinitely glad of at this stage in the day) and good fun – with an appropriate response from the crowd, who, I think, were a little uncertain to begin with. They seem to warm to this surreal bunch and there’s a good bit of dancing and nodding along before Blackash’s set is through. Another band I would definitely see again.

As Blackash finish, Paul and I get chatting to two lovely people who were enjoying the set as much as we were. They heartily recommend Wild Beasts, the next band on the main stage, and furnish us with glow sticks that would probably have been better fitted to Friday night, but will also work perfectly well with Sunday’s space-rock.

I’ve been forced to admit that I’ve not heard of Wild Beasts, but as they come onstage they kick into their set this thought gets pushed aside as they’re good; very good, in fact. Slightly dance oriented, they’re more artsy than Blackash but have a similar head nodding, foot tapping effect on the Sunday crowd. Exhibiting excellent musicianship, each band member seems to play at least two different instruments (excluding the poor drummer who is stuck where he is).

Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewWild Beasts also have two lead vocalists –  both very different, both very good. From all Beyond The Tracks’ Sunday line up, Wild Beasts have the highest number of catchy songs so and ‘Wanderlust’, ‘Alpha Female’ and ‘Get My Bang’ are stuck in my head for quite some time afterwards. They have quite a few songs about… well, as Ben Little says, “Fucking”, and that gives them even more of a dual image.

Funky but ethereal, artsy but obvious, sensitive but direct; it’s the sort of thing that appeals to me, in that my opinion of it can change dependent on my mood. As Wild Beasts’ set progresses, the good run of weather comes to an end and the rain comes down. A good few people retreat to the shelter of the beer tent but I just put my coat on and wait it out. No way am I missing this set for a bit of water.

With the rain slowing but still coming down, it’s time to commit to my no-drinking Sunday. I go and grab a coffee to warm my cold hands and move over to the second stage as Victories At Sea are announced.

And move offstage again.

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewWell, it had to happen sooner or later. Technical difficulties. Whether the weather is to blame or not is a matter for the event staff alone to determine, but between the rain and the delays Victories At Sea start their set with some ground to make up. And it’s hard to be sure what else is to blame, but to my ear the sound is still terrible. It does get better as their set progresses but not enough to save it for me. (After the effect, I’ve done some research and again Victories At Sea recorded music sounds nothing like the stage show I watched. So I attribute it to water logged or faulty equipment, but bad luck all round)

After this minor downer, and having been given somewhat conflicting opinions of The Jesus & Mary Chain, I keep my fingers crossed for the next hour. As they take to the stage and their set starts, I’m once again pleasantly surprised. The uber-80’s sound I was told to expect fails to materialise and it turns out that The Jesus & Mary Chain are a good up-tempo Country-influenced band. Admittedly, they’re not as entertaining as they could be on stage, and their music isn’t entirely my sort of thing, but they’re solid enough for a Sunday with a 16-song set that is quite varied.Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

When they’re in the throes of a song, the sound is good and the balance of instruments works well, but for some reason William Reid won’t stop playing between songs making the set seem a little unprofessional. In some ways Jim Reid’s voice sounds a little strained too, but it doesn’t slow him down any and it was always their style in a way anyway.

They kick their Beyond The Tracks set off with the slightly new romantic/punk-esque ‘Amputation’, with the rest of the follows that somewhat heavily guitar led feeling. In comparison to the stargaze space rock mood of much of the day, The Jesus & Mary Chain seem more grounded and more traditional rock oriented.

Their set does unfortunately feel a little long, so when the last strains of the curiously titled ‘I Hate Rock ‘n’ Roll’ fade away, I head away from the stage and find somewhere to sit down. I can hear Josefin Ohrn + The Liberation starting up on the second stage, but they sadly take a backseat to my desire for pizza as I follow Lazlo’s hierarchy and get food.

Editors – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewThe main stage is now a hive of activity, as what look like industrial extract fans are set up and drum kits, pianos, keyboards, and other musical items are brought out; it all looks very exciting. As my hunger is sated and my interest is piqued, Editors begin, striking out with ‘Cold’, ‘Sugar’ and then ‘The Racing Rats’. It’s easy for me to see why they were chosen to headline; the setting they’ve brought is excellent, making maximum use of the stage and the available lighting.

Their performance is musically excellent too, as you would expect from a band of 15 years pedigree, but also very visual with Tom Smith throwing his all into it. It’s a set to rival Saturday night’s Maxïmo Park experience and with the light show to go with it; I’m hard pressed to decide which I think is best. I decide to just love them both equally, and by the time Editors’ set is halfway through and ‘An End Has a Start begins, I’m having a too much of a good care either way. Smith has a warm vocal tone and the 80’s leaning that he is known for, alongside their synthesiser driven backline, ties the day together well.Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Editors finish their main set 14 songs in with ‘Marching Orders’ and I can’t imagine what they could possibly do to top it. One cliched pause for applause later and they’re back out, smashing into ‘Open Your Arms’, ‘Bullets’, ‘Munich’ and finally ‘Papillion’ – arguably their most 80’s oriented track. It’s a fantastic encore and an excellent end to the day; Editors come across as the culmination of everything we’ve seen and heard throughout Sunday at Beyond The Tracks and what perfect headliners it makes them.

Slightly sad that it’s all over, but with one eye on work tomorrow morning, the walk to the train station is a swirling mix of emotions. The journey back to Wolverhampton is spent comparing highs and lows, reliving the highlights one more time, and making plans for the next event from this fledgling festival.

As we found out in our recent interview with the festival organiser, John Fell, Beyond the Tracks may not be back in 2018 – but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for it in 2019. In the meantime I guess it’s back to normality.




Dorcha – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin

Dorcha – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Dorcha – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Dorcha – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

For more on Dorcha, visit


Peter Hook & The Light – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin Peter Hook & The Light – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Peter Hook & The Light – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Peter Hook & The Light – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

For more on Peter Hook & The Light, visit


Hoopla Blue – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin

Hoopla Blue – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Hoopla Blue – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Hoopla Blue – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

For more on Hoopla Blue, visit


Slowdive – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin

Slowdive – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Slowdive – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Slowdive – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

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Wild Beasts – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin

Wild Beasts – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Wild Beasts – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Wild Beasts – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

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The Jesus & Mary Chain – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

The Jesus & Mary Chain – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

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Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

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Editors – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin

Editors – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Editors – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

Editors – Beyond The Tracks @ Eastside Park 17.09.17 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

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For more on Beyond The Tracks, visit

INTERVIEW: John Fell – Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17

John Fell - Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review

Words by Damien Russell / Pics by Eleanor Sutcliffe

Feeling like a lazy Sunday afternoon despite being a Monday (thank you Bank Holiday), sitting in the shade at Eastside Park has got something of a ‘last day of a festival’ feel.

Convenient really as I’ve braved exhaustion and headed out to into the sun to see a man about a festival. That man is John Fell and the festival is, of course, Beyond The Tracks.

I say ‘of course’ but given that Beyond The Tracks (for those who have missed the promo so far) is the newest addition to the Moseley Folk portfolio, it may not be as clear cut as that. This new city-centre, three day event  is nestled comfortably alongside the Moseley Folk Festival itself, the Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival, and the Lunar Festival, all under the Moseley Folk banner.

And John Fell is, “kind of Festival Manager, really, so to be honest I do a lot things from booking the line-up to the marketing, to the press, the finances, I get involved with a little bit of kind of planning the site and things like that. All the staffing. So, it’s a lot there really.” If he does say so himself. And I agree, it is a lot; they’re big events with stellar line-ups and not exactly spread out in either area or through the year.

Curious about this, I ask about the rest of the team. “Well, there’s me, full time, and then there’s two directors (Gerv Havill, Carl Phillips) that are kind of more part time on the festivals. They’ve got their other businesses. And we’ve just taken on a new member of staff as well and she’s become a kind of Festival Assistant, so it’s slowly growing but it’s not a big team for all the things we do really”, Fell explains.

John Fell - Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham ReviewNot a big team at all. And with a variety of other events as well as the festivals, it must be a lot to take on. John Fell is a collected man and while he will admit that focusing on so much is “quite difficult”, he quickly adds, “I’ve always been quite good at that really. I’ve always… I don’t sit still very often”. I’m glad we got him pinned down for half an hour to talk to us.

So how did it all begin? And how did it become Beyond The Tracks? “When I joined we’d just created Goodnight Lenin”, Fell says, taking us back to both the start of his band (recently announced to be on hiatus) and his time with Moseley Folk, “and JJ from the band asked me to go round and come and play music at 3 o’clock in the morning because they’d been up all night drinking. Normally I would never do it, not if I hadn’t been out already, and I thought ‘you know what, fine, I’ll go round’. If he wants to play music, I’ll do it, whatever time of day”. And a 3am video became Goodnight Lenin’s application to play Moseley Folk Festival. “Carl who ran the festival rang us up and said ‘I wanna come and see you play’ and he wanted to manage the band and put us as headlining the second stage, the Lunar stage” Fell expands, describing an opportunity most bands would do something their mothers would disapprove of, to get.

It isn’t surprising but it is good to be reminded that Moseley Folk (both festival and company) have always been committed to local talent. And actively looking for it has “always been an ethos of ours, to support that and provide a platform for that. Which is quite cool”. And not just at the festivals. They “do loads of cool shows throughout the year… and because that’s not really our… job, I guess, our festivals are where we kind of scrape our salaries… we can book who we want. We’re not pressured to book gigs, we don’t just put gigs on for the sake of it; we can book who we want”.

An envious place to be. And a powerful place. Free from the constraints of popularity and to a certain extent cost, Moseley Folk remind me of the record companies of old – able to take risks and trail-blaze if they wish, whilst hosting the type of gigs many bands dream of getting to play at.

With such an open opportunity for booking talent, I wonder how the Beyond The Tracks lineup was approached. The answer lies in being different to the other festivals in the Moseley Folk portfolio, “with Folk and Jazz, Lunar’s a bit more psychedelic… we wanted to essentially make three different gigs. I mean, originally we didn’t put weekend tickets on sale because we didn’t think there would be that much demand. Essentially it was an electronic night, an indie night and, I guess, like a post-punk, shoegaze kind of Sunday, which is cool”.John Fell - Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham Review

Planning, then combining, three different gigs sounds like an unusual way to approach a festival, but less so when originally it was “going to be an Ocean Colour Scene gig with, you know, Maximo Park or whoever, and it grew into a festival which is, you know…”, John Fell leaves me to offer the rather clichéd ‘really cool’ but charitably goes with it. “It is really cool. So the whole thing has just been, like, a really natural progression”.

Choosing this site, currently just open grass and quiet couples, was also natural progression; John Fell takes us back to 22nd January 2016, and to the 20th anniversary shows of Ocean Colour Scene’s Moseley Shoals in Moseley Park. “And that was just incredible”, Fell says, and shortly after those shows “we were just sat outside the pub, the Eagle and Tun, and looking at this space and were like ‘why have we not done a festival here?’ Or at least a gig here” so they decide they should and went full on for Beyond The Tracks.

And what a festival it’s pitched to be. “It’s Birmingham’s, you know, I guess biggest inner city, kind of ‘band festival”, in John Fell’s words. “Obviously you’ve got things like MADE which are doing incredibly at The Rainbow and a lot of other events going on” he continues, “I suppose it’s not like a Great Escape but that kind of inner city festival, Tramlines in Sheffield, that kind of thing. And we thought for the first year we should really celebrate Birmingham music. We already had Ocean Colour Scene; Editors have got strong Birmingham links. So then we just go ‘right, okay, we want to support other bands’ so, you know: Superfood, Jaws, Victories at Sea, Dorcha, Table Scraps. We just added Hoopla Blue and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, there’s so many bands… The Leftfield guys are coming to DJ, Magic Door guys coming to DJ… So it’s a bit of a Birmingham love-in really. It’s gonna be really cool.”

And speaking of Hoopla Blue… I ask John about the sad news that Goodnight Lenin wouldn’t be playing and would be replaced by, you guessed it, “Hoopla Blue. Yeah, we wanted it to be a local band and Hoopla – great band – they just jumped on it straight away. It is a shame but it just felt right to end Goodnight Lenin with Liam rather than playing another show, it didn’t quite make sense”. I don’t ask about the conflict of interest in booking a band you play with; if John Fell began working for Moseley Folk through Goodnight Lenin, it stands to reason Goodnight Lenin would still be one of Moseley Folk’s regular artists.

John Fell - Beyond the Tracks @ Eastside Park 15-17.09.17 / Eleanor Sutcliffe - Birmingham ReviewThere’s certainly plenty of Birmingham music at Beyond The Tracks, possibly more Birmingham on the stage than in the audience at times, as to my surprise, “Friday night’s about 40 percent people coming from outside the Midlands. Which is pretty incredible. It’s very similar numbers to the Jazz and Folk, to be honest with you, it’s like, high 30’s from outside the Midlands. Saturday here with Ocean Colour Scene and The Twang, is obviously more localised but it’s still a good 25 percent from outside the Midlands and Sunday as well is about 30, high 30’s. So, we are actually bringing people in,” and in saying so Fell sounds proud. And I believe he is, proud of what Birmingham has to offer and proud to be a part of it.

And not without merit either; four major festivals are not organised through hope alone, that kind of work needs vision. The vision that Beyond The Tracks is “what Birmingham needs really just to kind of give it that other, kind of, star next to its name of what we have here to offer”. The drive to “bring people to Birmingham and actually show them what we do”. And the eye on the future looking to “see what else we can do for the city now”.

But with the rise of Beyond The Tracks, we’ve seen the fall of the Lunar Festival; this yearly switch looks set to continue, as the original three year access to the Beyond The Tracks site has been scuppered by the HS2 development. “We are bringing Lunar back next year and then… we don’t have the land for this (Beyond The Tracks) next year”, Fell explains, taking me a little by surprise. “We were told two years, we could have it… three years we could have it and HS2 is being built on this land. So they’re acquiring the land. So it might be the case that we maybe have a year off Beyond The Tracks, bring Lunar back. We’ve been refining that (Lunar Festival) so we’re quite excited to bring that back. Erm, and then, you know, hopefully we can bring Beyond The Tracks back the year after, maybe”.

Maybe, maybe not; there is always the fear that “it’s four festivals. You do start eating into your own audience as well. People only have so much money”. So maybe one on, one off could be on the cards. Or maybe it’s just a one-off.

Either way, when you think that “Friday night’s going to be crazy with Leftfield and Orbital and the light show they’ve got, here, in the city centre on a Friday night”, then the local focus lineup on Saturday and Sunday, with “Fairground Rides in the middle… a Ferris wheel and everything” it’s hard not to get a building sense of excitement.

And as I walk back across the site toward The Woodman pub, thinking to myself ‘stage there, fairground there, bar somewhere here…’ it’s also hard to disagree with John Fell when he shares the sentiment, “It’s gonna be quite cool. I mean it’s gonna be phenomenal, you know. It’s costing the world, really, so it should be…. But yeah, it gonna be cool, man”. Cool indeed. Phenomenal sounds about right too; I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Beyond The Tracks comes to Eastside Park in Birmingham City Centre, running 15th to 17th September. Tickets for this event are £54.45 for individual day tickets, £145 for a weekend pass, with a host of after parties after each day. 

For more on Beyond The Tracks, including full festival details and online ticket sales, visit