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 www.gentingarena.co.uk/whats-on/slam-dunk-festival

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 www.holdingabsence.com

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 www.pvris.com

‘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 www.takingbacksunday.com

‘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 www.astroid-boys.com

‘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 www.asitisofficial.bandcamp.com

‘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 www.lukerainsford.bandcamp.com

‘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 www.facebook.com/StandAtlantic 

‘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 www.slamdunkmusic.com

For a direct info and online ticket sales for Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands), visit www.gentingarena.co.uk/whats-on/slam-dunk-festival

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


BREVIEW: Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16

Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review






Words by Billy Beale / Pics by Michelle Martin

Slaves have had such a fast and dramatic rise to stardom that it’s almost baffling. It feels like just yesterday they were a plucky duo of dapper punks with a monochrome Bandcamp page. Now they’re selling out most dates of their UK tour, they’re on their second top-10 album and have had Mike D from the Beastie Boys produce it. It would be baffling if it weren’t for their infectiously likable music.Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

Openers Shame were first in the queue to play to a dense standing crowd of eager early arrivers. In their oversized 80s-style outfits they look like extras from Weekend at Bernie’s, but their sound is very much on the trend of the current indie zeitgeist.

Twangy single note guitar lines, swashes of delay and reverb with a Fat Whites-esque vocal will likely go down as The Sound of UK Indie 2016 and Shame tick all the boxes in that category. Although they seem to have something of an identity crisis, flailing about in a way that suits music much heavier than they play.

Both second support Life and openers Shame had dedicated vocalists that exhausted all that one can do in terms of waving a mic stand about. Life’s vocalist Mez is like a Northern version of The Horrors’ Faris Badwan, with moves and shapes lifted straight from Jarvis Cocker’s repertoire. Despite having just one guitarist to Shame’s two, Life sound much more like a guitar band, with whammy bar dives and high gain solos scattered between their spat-out lyrics and driving discordant rhythms. Their set ends on a loud and cacophonous number. The bewildered audience forgets to applaud. I hope Life realise that the omission of claps doesn’t mean they did a bad job.

“Bring him out here, I wanna see him” says Slaves guitarist Laurie Vincent, like a punk Caesar with knuckle tats and a Fender Mustang. A stage invader has been foiled – presumably rather forcefully – by the security staff and Vincent Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Reviewis concerned. “The security people have got a job to do but, sometimes mistakes are made. I just wanna see he’s alright”. Drummer Isaac Holman is out of sight, presumably intervening.

The Defendant is brought before Vincent. “Do you admit that you’ve been a very naughty boy?” he asks like a Pythonesque Judge. He presides over an enforced hug between the invader and the security staff; Holman returns to his mark behind the drums and the set resumes.

There is a softness to Slaves that doesn’t always manage to come across in their music. They’ve achieved a lot with their format without compromising their sound – primal, angry and loud. There is an awful amount of empty space on the stage but Isaac (shirtless throughout) paces menacingly when he’s not fueling the rhythm engine, while Laurie (shirtless for the encore) almost never stops. Throwing the headstock of his guitar about like he’s fighting off an invisible opponent, teetering on the edge of the monitors and classic moves like Chuck Berry’s one-legged hop.

If the crowd before Slaves were water molecules coming to the boil, they erupted like geyser when tonight’s headliners started. There must have been at least 10 crowd surfers during ‘Steer Clear’, a softer song and definitely not the usual crowd surfing tune. It’s one of the few moments in Slaves’ set where they deviate from their usual gear – flat out. Slaves don’t seem to expect, or want, to be taken seriously, but in these moments where they deviate their delivery is hard to judge. The deadpan of a comedy band, like Flight of the Conchords when they send up a particular genre, feels a bit too close to the seemingly earnest Slaves when they play to a lofi electronic beat.Slaves @ O2 Academy (B’ham) 19.11.16 / By Michelle Martin © Birmingham Review

It’s hard for them to win because their setup is the perfect tool for the full-on, raging, up-to-eleven sound that anything else seems out of place. “You’re so boring when you’re nice”. But the alternative is a flat, undynamic set that lacks variation.

Slaves strike a nice balance, but everybody seems more comfortable with the more moshable tracks. It was refreshing to see ‘Girl Fight’ – mere seconds of anger and trashing – return to the set; it’s an excellent representation of the band because it says so much with so little.

Defying tradition, Slaves finish on newer single – ‘Spit It Out’. An audience member finally makes it on stage and pulls a face before a road crew member steps purposefully towards him, frightening him off. Vincent casts his guitar to the ground and Slaves leave the stage filled with dense feedback.

Slaves live sound is a different beast to the one they showed on either of their major albums. They’re the perfect rock n’ roll band for right now and they’ve pushed the limits of their sound to the very extreme. It will be interesting to see what avenues Slaves go down in future and whether they will sound the same in 2017. 

For more on Slaves, visit www.youareallslaves.com

For more from the O2 Academy (B’ham), visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham

For more from SJM Concerts/Gigs & Tours, including full events listings & online tickets sales, visit www.gigsandtours.com





BPREVIEW: Laura Mvula @ O2 Institute 19.11.16

BPREVIEW: Laura Mvula @ O2 Institute 19.11.16

Words by Ed King

On Saturday 19th November, Laura Mvula performs at the O2 Institute in Birmingham – with support from Oliver St Louis.birm_prev-logo-main-lr

Doors open at 7pm with an 11pm curfew. Tickets are priced at £22 (+booking fee) as presented by Metropolis Music. For direct gig info & online tickets sales, click here.

Did someone say homecoming..?

Laura Mvula was quickly added to the list of Birmingham’s musical luminaries following the release of her stellar debut album, Sing to the Moon, in March 2013. Signed to RCA after a series of showcases, and building more industry momentum than live gig experience, her debut LP would chart across the world – reaching No9 on the UK album charts and No1 on the UK R&B Album Charts.

Nominated at the 2013 BRIT Awards, BBC’s Sound of Poll, Mercury Music Prize, Q Awards, and winning at the MOBO and Urban Music Awards, that year Laura Mvula was a rising balloon. Her music is original yet traditional, with deep rooted gospel and classical strains pushing a mellifluous yet firm vocal lead, alongside choral support and a slight harmony obsession. Her work speaks of relationships, family, home, empowerment and loss. It connects. And by the the-dreaming-roomend of the 2013 it was hard to not know the name Laura Mvula, or the musical endeavors of an artist who was, until relatively recently, penning ‘song structures’ during her breaks on the CBSO reception desk. Birmingham born and raised, schooled at Swanshurt then the Conservatoire, the city had another artist with real depth to be proud of.

Now, time to do that all again… no pressure.

Just under three years later and Laura Mvula released her follow up album, The Dreaming Room, in January 2016 (although there was a re-recording of Sing to the Moon with Metropole Orkest in 2014 to distract us for a bit). Guests on the sophomore LP include Nile Rodgers with ‘Overcome’ and Wretch 32 with ‘People’, released as singles in January and April 2016 respectively.

There was a shift in the production team too, with the man who first lined Laura Mvula up with RCA, Steve Brown, being replaced with Mvula’s now Musical Director, Troy Miller. Instrumental members of the London Symphony Orchestra further helped to produce The Dreaming Room, developing the multi-layered character of Mvula’s musical approach.

The Dreaming Room was released through RCA in July 2017 – with its latest single, ‘Show Me Love’ released on the imprint in May the same year.

‘Show Me Love’ – Laura Mvula

Laura Mvula comes to the O2 Institute in Birmingham on Saturday 19th November – with support from Oliver St Louis. For direct gig info & online tickets sales, click here.


For more on Laura Mvula, visit www.lauramvula.comPrint

For more from Oliver St Louis, visit www.olivierstlouis.net

For more from the O2 Institute, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more from Metropolis Music, visit www.metropolismusic.com

For full gig listings & online tickets sales from Gigs and Tours, visit www.gigsandtours.com


BREVIEW: Fat White Family @ O2 Institute 20.02.16

Fat White Family @ O2 Institute 20.02.16 / By Ed King @edking2210

Words by Helen Knott / Pics by Ed King

If you believe the band’s PR machine, Fat White Family are the “shot in the arm that independent rock has been ailing after.”Fat White Family @ O2 Institute 20.02.16 / By Ed King @edking2210

They’ve certainly gained plenty of notoriety since emerging from a South London squat back in 2012, but will they live up to their own hype at the O2 Institute, on the first night of an eleven date UK tour?

They do a pretty good job, for the first half an hour at least. An onslaught of songs in quick succession at the start of the set builds an early sense of momentum. Lead singer, Lias Saoudi, prowls around, topless, predatory, his hand occasionally creeping down his trousers. He’s a great front man, obnoxious to the point of almost being disgusting; commanding total attention from the excitable audience.

A particular crowd favourite is ‘Satisfied’, the second track of the band’s most recent album, Songs for Our Mothers. Typical of the album as a whole, ‘Satisfied’ has somewhat crass lyrics, at one point comparing a blowjob to life in a concentration camp. The words are lost live though, and you’re left with a sleazy foot stomper with a killer chorus. It’s probably for the best.

Mid-set the pace slows a little and the momentum peters out; the best thing about lumbering, dull ‘Goodbye Goebbels’ is its name, whilst ‘Wild American Prairie’ is a straightforward, sluggish blues dirge.

Fat White Family @ O2 Institute 20.02.16 / By Ed King @edking2210This points my main problem with Fat White Family – their lyrics are interesting, their politics are interesting, their wild antics are interesting, but the music itself isn’t really all that interesting. They write some good riffs and some catchy songs but it can often descend into arguable Fall and Clash rip offs.

There are exceptions. Songs like ‘Whitest Boy on the Beach’, the opening track from their latest album, suggest that Fat White Family could develop into a more musically interesting proposition. The guitar line grooves along, with the breathy vocals gradually submerged by melodic synths before re-emerging with greater force; it’s almost like disco music.

So, Fat White Family – a shot in the arm for independent music? Yes, probably, they really are a spectacle of a live band. But are they independent music’s new lifeblood? That remains to be seen.

For more on Fat White Family, visit https://fatwhitefamily.bandcamp.com


For more from the O2 Institute, visit http://o2institutebirmingham.co.uk/

For more events from SJM Concerts, visit http://www.gigsandtours.com/