Category Archives: Music Reviews

The Evening Chronicle: Young Reviewers

The Evening Chronicle in Newcastle runs a competition and writing opportunity every year, which I would highly recommend. It’s called the ‘Young Reviewers’ scheme, and it allows for up and coming journalists to get press access to events around the North East. With this access, you are expected to write a review.

The first stage is to write your own review, which you send to The Evening Chronicle when the competition is opened. Then a group of the best writers are chosen, who become the reviewer pool, for the next year.

If your work is good, and Gordon Barr, the Entertainment Editor, is impressed with what you write, then your reviews will be printed in the paper. They’re sometimes available to view on The Evening Chronicle website too.

I was lucky enough to have quite a few things published, things which I’ve linked to previously on this blog:

It’s a brilliant opportunity, because it can often take you out of your comfort zone. Obviously my main area of writing up to that point was based around a music setting, but when offered the opportunity to reviews things like ballet and comedy, I jumped at the chance.

It adds to your portfolio, and that’s always a good thing, and you get to and experience a bunch of new and cool stuff, so yeah, I’d definitely recommend it. Added to this, there is a prize for the top two writers from the reviewers pool, and I was lucky enough to come away with a notebook laptop, so that just makes it even better.


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Long time no speak!

I know its been a pretty long time since I updated the blog. It has been caused in part by my camera pretty much falling apart and a bunch of other stuff all happening at once. I’m going to have a look and see what the last things I wrote about were… and ill be right back!




Ok..ok! I’ve checked.

If we go in chronological order, then the first thing I need to talk about is The Evening Chronicle.

  • The Evening Chronicle
  • Sunderland Echo
  • NCTJ Diploma in Journalism
  • Hartlepool Mail
  • Northern Echo


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Tom Jones – Emirates ICG Durham (Evening Chronicle)

Sir Tom jones is back in the public eye in a big way, after high profile appearances on BBC’s The Voice, as a mentor, and a performance at the Queen’s jubilee celebration. So right now is the perfect time for a new album and a European tour, which he has graciously supplied to his adoring fans. On Saturday night he owned the stage in the beautiful setting that is Durham County Cricket Club.

As if the clouds were watching the man himself too, the rain stopped as soon as the first track began. He started with, Hit Or Miss, a new song which started off the night on a great note, a bouncing brass band delivering the depth to a wall of sound surrounding the deep booming vocals. The list of hits on display was almost endless, with a set list which spanned his entire career. From the hit which started it all, It’s Not Unusual. Which bounced and reverberated throughout the unique setting, echoed back by every member of the crowd. To, Tower of Song, a track from his newest album, Spirit In The Room, which was a beautiful soaring number which ebbed and flowed with the distinct Tom Jones style.

Hits such as Sexbomb, Mama Told Me Not To Come, and You Can Leave Your Hat On took their place as cracking sing-alongs with Toms voice sounding record perfect as always. The full band on stage, including a brass section, gave them a different sort of feel, rather than feeling like the simple recordings. The live spicy Spanish guitars and jazz pianos in Delilah gave a subtle darkness to the uplifting song, as Tom’s vocals burned like hot coals throughout. Every voice young and old sang and laughed along, despite many of the people there not being born when the song was released.

Tom’s rapport with the crowd is one which can only be crafted over a career as long as his. He greets the crowd as old friends and reminisces the previous times he has been to the north east throughout his musical lifetime. Utterly at home on the stage, he owned every second. Sending the female fans loopy with every shake of his hips, and a chorus of screams was produced with every trademark growl.

The legend himself hasn’t lost an ounce of his magic. His vocals are perfect, and despite being one of the most recognizable people and voices in the musical world, has stayed truly humble. He really is testament to the idea that age is just a number, as his newest album is yet another quality addition to his impressive catalogue.

You Me At Six – o2 Academy Newcastle (Evening Chronicle)

You Me At Six are currently headlining a sellout UK-wide tour, and on Sunday night they exploded into life at the o2 Academy Newcastle. The burning hot, quick riffed rock track, Loverboy kicked off the night and the intensity did not let up for the rest of the show.

The energy of front man Josh Franceschi stood out during the high tempo tracks as energy poured from the stage and into the ecstatic crowd. Whilst having the stage presence to keep every eye on him during the more emotional and slow songs. Josh had the power to create a sincere emotional connection with a sea of thousands in the crowd. There were times when you could hear a pin drop as he sang soft and low to the lyrically beautiful, Crash, building up with slow powerful vocals to a spine-chilling crescendo.  Whilst on the other end of the scale, the entire academy almost took off during, Finders Keepers, with its dance inducing pulsing guitars and sing along chorus, which had everyone bouncing.

The Setlist found a middle ground between playing too little and too much of their latest album, Sinners Never Sleep. Supplementing it with the best of their first two albums. Some might have been disappointed with the lack of, Save It For The Bedroom, as its often seen as their signature track. Though it shows the strength of all their songs when I couldn’t think of one id have taken out of the show, for it to feature. It’s also obvious that the band are looking to move away from their more pop sounding roots, to a more rock sound. The heavier rock in room shaking show closer, Bite My Tongue, and track, Loverboy are examples this new direction, and were some of the high points of a great show.

They really are a talented band and it is clear to see they love their job. The smiles are spread across their faces from the first chord to the last, and they sound genuinely proud and thankful to the crowd for putting them in that position.

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NME Awards Tour – o2 Academy Newcastle (Evening Chronicle)

Showcasing the best up and coming artists on the music scene, the NME Awards tour has been going since the 90s in the buildup to the awards themselves. Numerous participants have went on to massive commercial and critical success, such as; The Killers, Arctic Monkeys and even Coldplay.

This year saw headliners Two Door Cinema Club, being accompanied by Metronomy, Tribes and Azealia Banks.

First up was Azealia Banks, an American rapper from Harlem, New York. Most of the set fell a little flat due to a slow filtering in of the crowd, and unfamiliarity with the tracks from the audience. Though the one track which has been released over here, 212, actually had the room jumping. A rhythmic, fast pace off beat rap straight from Harlem, she definitely has an edge to her.

Metronomy added something different to proceedings, with their ebbing synthesizer backed strangeness. Indie-ness personified, they seemed very straight faced and serious with their combination of old fashioned bounciness and almost choir-like unrelenting vocals. Confusing, infuriating and intriguing in equal parts, I found myself swaying along with the rest of the crowd.

Tribes increased the pace, and really impressed. Moody blue and red lighting lit the band as they created a thick and complex wall of sound. The front man has a really interesting voice, unique and commercial in its quality. We Were Children, is a great live track and had the entire crowd going wild, with its explosive guitars and U2-like vocals.

Two Door Cinema Club have already had chart success, with their debut album, Tourist History, reaching number 26 in the album charts, and several singles charting in the top 100. It’s not hard to see why. With catchy hooks, rip roaring guitar riffs and soaring sing-along choruses aplenty. Combined with the massive light show which came from the darkness to surround them, they built up a real festival atmosphere. Readymade anthem, This Is The Life, with it bouncing repeated chorus went down extremely well with the rapturous crowd.

Whilst each artist was unique in their own way, the quality never dipped, and its plain to see why they are tipped to win big at the NME Awards this Year, and who’s to say where these guys are going to be in the next few years?

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Snow Patrol – Metro Radio Arena (Evening Chronicle)

As if it were a test for the true Snow Patrol faithful, the day before the Newcastle show the region was covered in a layer of white. Though it had somewhat thawed before show time, a bitter wind still stung many peoples journey. Luckily for everyone who made the show, Gary Lightfoot and the rest of the band were there to turn up the heat.

Lights illuminated the stage and lasers pierced the darkness of the crowd, before the guitars struck; the band sparked and the first tune, I’ll Never Let Go, exploded into life. The massive backdrop which filled the back of stage flashed a kaleidoscope of imaged from the camera which recorded the action. Whilst a neon snowflake suspended from the ceiling broke apart and spiraled above the band.

As a front man, Gary Lightfoot doesn’t disappoint, he whipped up the crowd during their livelier tracks, dragging everyone up onto their feet in the seating areas. Immediately improving the atmosphere, which the band fed off in return. Just Say Yes, stood out, its slow deliberating synthesizer backed build up, drawing up to the crescendo in the chorus, when the crowd went crazy. However I think as an arena band I think they are at their best when the tempo slows and they play tracks such as Chocolate and Run, where the qualities of the bands vocals are laid bare. Gary has a great smoothness and tone to his voice, and the hypnotized crowd were held in the palm of his hand, while the emotion filled lyrics of, Set Fire To The Third Bar,  stirred the heart of even the harshest cynic.

The set list was a perfect balance of their older songs for the long term fans, whilst never alienated their ever growing fan base, by playing their current hits and singles. This meant all of their major albums were featured, whilst new tracks were dropped in, never feeling out of place. Due in part to the bands obvious enthusiasm for the tracks. As well as of course, their distinct sound and brand of storytelling which flows effortlessly through every song.

As a set of musicians these guys really are something special, and the genuine gratitude they show to the fans that got them to where they are, just endears them further.

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Kasabian – Newcastle Metro Arena (Evening Chronicle)

ROCKERS Kasabian were back in the North East, blasting out their high energy  indie rock tracks to a massive crowd. The tour coincides with the release of their new album Velociraptor! which  debuted at number 1 in the UK album  charts.

Supporting them was local band The Smokin’ Barrels, who grabbed their  opportunity of playing to an arena crowd with both hands. This was their biggest home gig to date, and they didn’t disappoint despite  the atmosphere being a bit flat due to the crowd filtering into the arena as  they performed. However, songs like Stella in the Starlight seem purpose-written  for such a stage.

When Kasabian took to the stage, the sound in the arena was deafening as they  launched into their first track. Every member of the band started pumping up the crowd, and looking sincerely  grateful to be in such a position. Guitars, drums, bass and into vocals. No messing around. They were here for  business, and their business is awesome rock tracks, with sizzling vocals and  blazing guitar riffs.

What you forget about Kasabian until you see them live is just how many great  songs they’ve got, from guitar-shredding hard rock, to dance-infused indie  rock. Underdog, Vlad The Impaler and Shoot The Runner, were just some of the  highlights in a quality set, turning an already excitable crowd into a bouncing  mass of ecstasy.

The opening guitar riff of Clubfoot is instantly recognizable  due to its use on match days on Sky Sports, and sparked like electricity  throughout the crowd.It’s an arena anthem if ever I’ve heard one and the rhythmic bass beat is  emphasized by frontman Tom Meighan’s vocal skills and vibrant energetic persona  on stage. Other highlights included the track, Fire, which closed the set in amazing  fashion. Every person in the crowd went wild as the simple slow build-up started. The  soft lyrics meant the entire crowd worked as a human amplifier, before the song  kicked in, sending the crowd into raptures.

It was the perfect way to end a cracking live show, sending everyone away on  a soaring high.

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Tinie Tempah – Newcastle Metro Arena (Evening Chronicle)

TINIE Tempah is the biggest thing in the UK R’n’B scene right now.

Every song he lays down is becoming chart gold. His debut album Disc-Overy  was released to critical and public acclaim, heading straight to the top of the  UK Album Charts. Though its success hasn’t just been limited to the UK. Last  night I was lucky enough to catch the Newcastle show of his current UK arena  tour.

Tinie entered the stage, the same way he entered the UK charts, with a  massive explosion. Being fired up from below the stage, he flew straight into  the first track and sent the crowd wild. As usual he performed in his trademark  black glasses, and used every inch of the stage to play up to the sellout crowd.  I was surprised at first by the inclusion of a full rock band, to back the main  man. But the decision was proved to be a perfect one, within the first couple of  songs.

The new live sound gave a different feeling to tracks such as Frisky and  Wonderman – boy did they go down well.

Tinie’s stage presence is second to none, he is a supremely confident  performer who feeds on the energy from the crowd, he doubled it onstage before  exploding, sending shockwaves throughout the euphoric masses. The electricity which coursed through the crowd during his standout track, Written In The Stars,  was one of the best moments of the night. The pulsating dropkick broken beat let  the crowd know it was coming before the vocals began. This was followed by a  full-on rap choir, fronted by the Tinie himself who strutted around the stage he  now owned.

Part of the reason why Tinie’s songs are so popular are the collaborations  which have been made on various songs. Kelly Rowland, Ellie Goulding, Swedish  House Mafia and Eric Turner all featured on his debut album. Resulting in a much  larger public reach, and a much more commercial album, than what he would have  received if he’d set out to produce a pure rap album.

The album has thus far earned Tinie two Brit Awards, Two UK number ones and a  host of other hits and awards through the world. This is an amazing feat for a  first time album from a relative unknown. I am in no doubt that this is only the  beginning for what is a very talented young man. This is his first Arena tour,  but it definitely won’t be his last if he can keep up this sort of  performance.

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Charlie Simpson – o2 Academy2 Newcastle (Evening Chronicle)

Charlie Simpson has come a long way since his days in multi-award winning boy band Busted. Firstly with rockers Fightstar, which he formed in 2003. Where he gained critical acclaim and yet more chart success, through their first three studio albums. This was a stark change from his pop roots, trading kid friendly tunes, for hard rock and metal.

Now Charlie is changing paths and genres again with his first solo album, Young Pilgrim which is due to be released on August 15th. An acoustic,l yric driven album with an essence of folk. To compliment this, he is currently on UK tour and I had to the pleasure of checking him out at the Newcastle date.

Whilst I was expecting a one-man show, just Charlie with his acoustic guitar on stage, what we got was entirely different. He was surrounded by a full live band, including guitar, bass, keyboard and even a backup vocalist. This meant there was an entirely new sound to some of his tracks. A more robust and deeper sound which had a stronger rock flavour. This combination in the live setting was perfect and filled the venue, enveloping the crowd in a complex arrangement that has been exquisitely put together. By now, he has been performing live in various ways for over 10 years, and it shows. His presence on stage is that of a veteran performer, commanding focus at all time, whilst at the same time seeming quite shy when actually speaking to the crowd between songs. He wasn’t afraid to push himself either. He sang every word of every song like he meant it, filling every song with the emotion which it deserved.

Down down down, the first single released from the album, and its rousing chorus and toe tapping beat went down well with the ravenous crowd. As a piece of music it is beautifully crafted and in a live setting its stunning lyrics resonate with every member of the crowd. Parachute was another highlight, Charlie whipping the excitable crowd into a frenzy with his distinct low growly vocals. Vocals that have previously fit his rockband Fightstar perfectly, here have been wrapped around radio friendly soft melodic verses and sing along choruses. It is that versatility, combined with his talent that allows Charlie to be successful in any genre he tries his hand at.

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Alistair Griffin – Just Drive: Single Review (Evening Chronicle)

Just Drive is the newest single by singer-songwriter Alistair Griffin. F1 fans may already be aware of the song, as it was used during the montage of highlights of the 2010 season. If not, this tune is definitely one I would recommend to fans of Take That’s newest tracks. Alistair has that same upbeat style, which always seems to building up to a crescendo. Before letting the melody take back over and sink back down. If it were written by the Take That’s boys I would be predicted a number one. As it is, I’d definitely be more reserved, but It’s a wonderfully crafted song, and certainly one to look out for.