Manic Street Preachers 23/05/19 Birmingham 02 Academy. Support from Gwenno.
Ah, The Manic Street Preachers. Since The Stereophonics pissed on our chips in 2018 with the infamous Beast from East gig that never was, The Manics have become my favourite welsh band. Having been aware of their presence for years but never really getting into them until a few years ago, we had a lot of catching up to do. We jumped at the chance at seeing them in such a small intimate setting, having seem them for the first time last year at the NIA. It was just Me and my better half Rich for this one. We asked a few people along but inexplicably no one we knew either a) wanted to come or b) they hadn’t heard of the band in the first place!
We had booked balcony tickets, again in previous post I argue quite favourably for seated tickets for the short arses amongst us. Seats are not reserved so we got to the venue as soon as we could and joined the queue for the balcony. Once we got in it wasn’t too much hassle to get prime seats to see the stage. We settled down to see the support act of Gwenno, a Welsh/Cornish language singer. It wasn’t really my thing but enjoyed a song she sang about cheese!
The Manics were celebrating the 20th anniversary of “This is my truth tell me yours”. An album that truthfully I’d never listened to. I only knew the hits “If you tolerate this your children will be next”, “Tsunami” and “You stole the sun from my heart”. Hey, there’s a first time for everything. I don’t need to know the entire back catalogue of a band to enjoy them live. Sometimes it helps to not have a massive pre conceived idea about where the set list is going. They played the album in full, having to stop on more than one occasion to ask security to break up silly fights in the crowd. Obviously there’s always a few knobheads who drink too much and like to have a push and shove and things get out of hand. James Dean Bradfield didn’t seem too impressed with it all and neither did the crowd.
Anyway after the album, the rest of the hits we’re belted out. A personal favourite is “You Love Us”. I didn’t know the song before I saw them last year but I came away from that gig loving that song. It’s as anthemic as “Design for Life”, which if you know your anthems is a pretty bold claim.
The Manic Street Preachers are firmly on the “No matter what, we’re going” list of bands.
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me 29/05/19 Birmingham 02 Academy. Support from White Room
This is the 2nd time we have seen IDK How. Abbie first discovered the band last year and I brought tickets for her, her best friend and myself when the 2 piece band announced a few dates in the UK. I’d only heard a few songs before that gig but I was blown away with how good it was. So when they announced Spring dates in the UK we jumped at the chance to see them again. So off we went to the O2 Academy in Birmingham, me, Rich, Abbie, her boyfriend and her 2 best friends.
We queued for about an hour in the warm spring sun, totally surprised at how many people were queuing behind us for a relatively unknown band. As my daughter is super obsessed with the lead singer Dallon Weekes we got there early so she had a better chance of seeing her idol close up. This coupled with the fact we are all short arses (expect Abbies boyfriend who is nearly 6ft) and sometimes it pays to be nearer the stage to see the action. We settled into a position that was quite near the front and looked forward to the support band White Room. A band so clearly influenced by 80’s Bowie, Duran Duran and The Talking Heads, we thoroughly enjoyed them and vowed to go straight on Spotify when we got home to add them to our exclusive playlists. Cannibal song and Shoot have become firm favourites in our house.
Not long to wait now until the main act. We jostled for a better view and settled into position. The screams were deafening when Dallon and Ryan came onto stage and they started up with Modern Day Cain. They charmed the crowd and threw in a superb cover of Beck’s Debra. Having seen them previously we anticipated Dallons party piece of coming into the crowd and rousing everyone into a good old fashioned call and response bit. We dropped lucky and managed to push Abbie to the front of one of the now split crowds. He slowly walked down the narrow space the fans had created and stopped directly in front of Abbie. There he stood for 30 seconds or so and the entire time Abbie was in awe of her idol with her phone trying to film the moment. I too got a good view and to this day I regret not filming the moment because it transpired that Abbies Snapchat had lost signal and hadn’t captured anything other than a split second of close up footage. She spent the next few songs still in shock and rueing the day she decided to use Snapchat to film such an iconic moment.
The rest of the gig seemed to fly by and the whole room erupted when they played Choke. A testament to this relatively unknown band that the room was shaking with the sound of hundreds of fans singing arguably their most famous song back to them.
It was one of the best gigs I’ve been to in terms of Dallon making Abbies life of course but also for the music. They pitch themselves well in appealing to not only young alternative music fans but also to the older generation (that’s me) who get the references to earlier music greats such as Bowie and Costello. This being the 2nd time we’ve seen them I have no doubt we will always try to see them when they tour the UK.
Muse 1/06/19 London Stadium. Support from Pale Waves and Tom Morello.
This was a Christmas 2018 present for Abbie. Even though I’ve seen Muse before (with Abbie) in 2016 I wasn’t a massive fan. I somewhat drew the short straw and agreed to accompany Abbie again. It wasn’t a big deal until Liverpool FC got into the Champions League final, playing fellow UK team Tottenham Hotspur which happened to be on the same day. Fuck. That was initial reaction. After much planning and working out logistics for every scenario, it became clear that I was to sacrifice the football for the music. In the mean time I had gone soft and gave my ticket to Abbies boyfriend and brought a single seat for myself to ‘babysit’ them. So not only was I to miss the football but I was also sitting on my own (never known the like!)
This was our first time to the London Stadium and it was a bit of a ball ache to get there if I’m being honest. The queues were massive to get through security and I stood out like a sore thumb in the middle of London wearing my Liverpool top. We were not too bothered by the support band Pale Waves but wanted to see Tom Morello. We made our seats in plenty of time and even though I only recognised ‘Killing in the Name’ I enjoyed him.
Now I’m going to be completely honest, I can’t remember anything that Muse played that night. I was quite ignorant to the fact they were there. I tried in vain to get a signal to pick up BT Sports on my phone, something that the couple I was sat next to could sense. I eventually had to rely on my best friend, my brother and Rich updating me every few minutes. So for 90 nervous minutes I sat there, on my own wishing I could be anywhere else than watching Muse. I was relieved when the full time whistle came and a few people around me gave me the thumbs up, including the 2 couples I was sat in between. I could be wrong but I think the match was concluded when they were singing ‘Time is Running Out’. I could have dreamt it though, I wasn’t really paying that much attention.
I have been told it was a good gig. My daughter and her boyfriend enjoyed it and really that was the main thing. It wouldn’t bother me if I couldn’t see Muse again. I’ve seen them twice and that’s probably enough for a band you’re not too fussed about.
I Don’t Know How But They Found Me 22/08/19 Electric Ballroom Camden. Support from White Room
Now do I write an identikit review or do I acknowledge that we are tiny but obsessed with IDK How and travelled to London to see them for the 2nd time this year. A big part of seeing bands (for me) is the anticipation and sharing that with family and friends. I’m lucky that one of my besties loves gigs too, so with 7 tickets in hand and a couple of hotel rooms booked we were ready to be rocked again.
Having been to Camden a few times we knew where we were going and were totally shocked by how many people were already lining the streets to get in. It took us ages to find the back of the queue and we settled down with our Mcdonalds. We all agreed that a repeat of the Birmingham incident was unlikely and relaxed knowing that we were under no pressure to push ourselves to the front again. Abbie, her boyfriend and best mate went their own way and stayed in the crowd, whereas us oldies and my best mates daughter stayed near the back and had a pretty decent view.
The support band was White Room again and we proudly sang along to the songs we knew, my favourite being ‘Shoot’. The recording doing it no justice at all, the live version was electric. Each time we have seen IDK How the venues have been getting bigger. The Electric Ballroom holds 1500 and although not full to bursting it was clear the band has a devoted and growing following. They ploughed through the same setlist as Birmingham, which considering they had yet to have an album out was fine in my opinion. Dallon Weekes charmed the crowd yet again and you sense that both he and Ryan Seaman appreciate and enjoy performing as much as we enjoy seeing them.
Another gig that cements IDK How as a family favourite and a band that we will see no matter what!
Pixies 16/9/2019 Birmingham 02 Academy. Support from The Big Moon.
This was more for my other half than me. I only knew a few songs and wasn’t really looking to delve too far into their back catalog. We had already anticipated a raucous affair and paid for balcony seats. I’m glad we did as the main standing area was rammed. The support act was good. A young band with promise, as with many bands they just need their big break, perhaps touring with a big Indie band might do it.
When the Pixies came out the crowd went wild and from the higher vantage point of the balcony we could see the floor swaying backwards and forwards with the music. The Pixies didn’t pause for breath and left miniscule gaps between songs. Sometimes I didn’t recognise 1 song starting and 1 finishing. There was very little interaction with the crowd, something I’m not sure if like or not. Before long they played the 3 or 4 songs I knew and I could join in, as it were. I really enjoyed the energy and the atmosphere they inspired in the crowd. Of course there were a few idiots, there always is but on the whole a very enjoyable gig. And obviously knowing now that that was the last proper gig we would attend for many months, we probably would have soaked up every scrap of music that night.
Tim Minchin 15/11/2019 Birmingham Hippodrome.
The last gig of the year. Yes it is a gig, Tim Minchin is a funny man, he writes funny songs but he is not strictly a comedian. I’ve waited about 8 years, since first discovering Tim Minchin to actually see him live doing his own stuff. We saw him a few years ago in Jesus Christ Superstar but that just whetted my appetite. We’ve actually had the tickets booked since 2018 and at times time seemed to stand still. In the end it was me, the other half, Abbie and my aunty Kath who attended.
There was no support and I was extremely pleased with the view for the price we had paid for the tickets. The first half was a paired back affair with just Minchin at the piano. Not for the faint hearted or easily offended, Tim Minchin tackles subjects like religion with ‘Thank You God’. He made mine and my aunty’s life by playing ‘Prejudice’. A personal favourite of ours that will always make us laugh. The curtain drops and revealed behind is a full band to accompany him for the rest of the night.
It made me laugh, cry and reflect on this mad world we live in. It really was a special night. 100% I would see him again. I just hope there isn’t another 8 year gap!
So there you have it. My musical journey of 2019. Probably the busiest on record for me. In between all these gigs we have also seen Hamilton twice and various comedians. Perhaps my spidy senses could forsee a very shit year in 2020 where numerous gigs have had to be rescheduled. 2020 has probably been the only year as an adult I haven’t been to see anything. Of course 2021 promises to be much of the same disappointment (this hasn’t stopped me booking tickets for The Idles and The Gorillaz though). Who knows? Gigs will never be the same again, I’m just glad that I could appreciate the gigs I’ve been to this year.
*All images are my own and must not reproduced without permission. Please and Thank You.