Category Archives: TVD UK

TVD Live Shots:
Liam Gallagher at
the O2 Arena, 11/28

There are few genuine rock stars left in this world, but Liam Gallagher is undoubtedly one hundred and fifty percent in that club. He’s got the legacy, the attitude, the adoring fans, and most importantly, the songs. Not shy to say exactly what’s on his mind at any given time, he’s no stranger to controversy—one could say that Gallagher is the personification of “it says what it does on the tin.”

This would be my second time seeing Liam Gallagher in London and it was arguably his best. The second to last show of the year was a fitting end to confusing time for the UK, but what better music to bring everyone together than this man’s impressive catalogue?

2019 saw Gallagher return with his second UK number one album, the brilliant Why Not, Why Me, and with a subsequent tour that finds Gallagher at the top of his game once again—and the marketing campaign and launch were equally as brilliant. Gallagher has rediscovered how to take control of his brand, changing the direction of his narrative and expressing himself creatively outside of the music itself.

It’s made him the most engaged and engaging of the two Gallagher brothers–and that’s something few people would have predicted when Oasis split a decade ago. Gallagher’s marketing masterplan is a perfect example of how to apply old-school craft and creativity in a world of social media, AI, constant scrutiny, and radical transparency. It shows how modern marketing works best as a balancing act between the old and the new.

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TVD Live Shots: Feeder at the Roundhouse, 11/23

There’s something incredibly special about a band like Feeder. Not too many bands can continue to endure such a rollercoaster ride for nearly three decades—countless peaks and valleys of critical acclaim, tragic loss, astounding highs, and of course, periods of confusion and lost direction. These guys have seen it all, and yet they’re still playing gigs and making arguably the best music of their career.

I remember these guys from the ’90s Britpop invasion in the States, but lost track of them until stumbling upon one of my all-time favorite records, 2008’s Silent Cry. For me, there’s always been a mystique around the band and their atmospheric yet aggressive sound. Maybe it’s because I lived in the States during their peak and never got a chance to see the live show until moving to London three years ago. Touring in support of their new record Tallulah, this would be my second Feeder show in London, and they sounded bigger, bolder—and ultimately better.

Grant Nicholas and Taka Hirose make up the core of the band these days, with Nicholas being the prominent songwriter. The album is named for Nicholas’ wife’s best friend’s daughter (yeah, I had to read that a few times back as well) who was in attendance at the jam-packed Roundhouse theatre in North London.

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UK Artist of the Week: MeMe Detroit

If ferocious, female-fronted alternative rock is your kinda thing, then look no further, MeMe Detroit is back and she means business. We featured MeMe a while back when she released energy-fueled EP “Life In The Now” and now she’s back with another raucous release to feast your ears on.

“Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind” is a single that is swarming with attitude from the offset. MeMe—aka Maria Rodriguez—creates fuzz-filled formidable soundscapes throughout, feeling instantly reminiscent of the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Wolf Alice. Distorted guitar twangs are matched with pulsating drumbeats and powerful lead vocals from Maria herself to create a sound that is unapologetic and undeniably powerful.

As far as break up anthems go, this one takes no prisoners, so we recommend turning this one up to full blast and screaming it from the top of your lungs. Trust us, you’ll feel far better afterwards and that heartbreak will soon feel like a walk in the park.

With plans for an album already in the works, 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year for MeMe and her newly recruited team of musicians, so watch this space.

“Can’t Get You Out of My Mind” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Ghost at Wembley Arena, 11/22

The theatrics, the costumes, the grandiose stage and fire, but most importantly, the songs. Swedish metal band Ghost has it all. The stars, or maybe the burning fires of hell, have aligned perfectly over the past decade to propel Ghost as one of the most important bands in metal today.

Tobias Forge, also known as Papa Emeritus I, II, III, and his latest evolution as Cardinal Copia, is the mastermind behind all things Ghost. Backed by a group of nameless ghouls (literally, as listed in Wikipedia) he’s taken metal to an entirely new level and delivered two remarkable albums while bringing back the evil nature of the genre in the spirit of early Black Sabbath, but with the vocal stylings of ’70s prog rock.

What you get is a sound that has evolved over the years into something that is still as evil as ever in spirit, but surprisingly accessible. It’s metal for everyone essentially, and that statement was solidified further when the band won the much-coveted Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance and Best Metal Album. Not that the Grammys matter anyway these days, but it does feel good when they get it right one out of ten times.

This would be my second time seeing Ghost in London, and the show is bigger and much more refined. Upgrading from the legendary O2 Forum to Wembley Arena makes perfect sense when you see the new design and production. It’s truly over the top and rivals any rock tour that’s hit the arena circuit this year.

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UK Artist of the Week: Dictator

Like it or lump it, there will always be a place for a bit of good old-fashioned indie music here at TVD HQ. Our latest discovery are none other than Scottish newcomers Dictator who have just released their addictive debut single “Anthem For A Doomed Youth.”

If you’re a fan of the likes of The Courteeners and Kasabian, then you are in for a treat. “Anthem For A Doomed Youth” (we’re assuming they’re Libertines fans?) combines elements of both indie and electronica to create a sonic soundscape that will instantly mesmerize.

Despite having only just released a single, Dictator are no strangers to the Scottish live circuit and they will be playing next on 29th November at Dreadnought Rock, supporting Luke La Volpe. Indie rock may not everyone’s cup of tea but if you’re into it, Dictator are definitely a band for you.

“Anthem For A Doomed Youth” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots: Yungblud at Le Trabendo, 11/17

PARIS, FRANCE | Paris is such a magical city, especially when it comes to its fantastic music scene and unique venues. Last time I was in town, I caught Foals playing an “intimate” gig at Le Bataclan, and was blown away by one of the best shows I’ve seen all year. But last week, that show was topped by Doncaster born Yungblud when he played two nights at a very intimate venue called Le Trabendo.

It was easily the hottest ticked that evening (although Tropical Fuck Storm was playing that evening as well, and I would have loved to catch both). It took me a while to find this place as it’s a bit hidden, and once I got in, I was impressed by its cool and unique layout. This place is literally a stage and then a bunch of different levels of platforms, so pretty much every place you can stand has a great view.

Believe it or not, there was a tiny photo pit to which I managed to climb over the jam-packed room to get in. Then it was off to the races as Yungblud launched himself onto the stage and immediately set the room in a frenzy. The energy this guy has is astounding. Yungblud lists among his influences Arctic Monkeys, Eminem, and The Clash, and that’s precisely what’s coming out of him.

And you really do have to admire this guy for not only his ability to write one hell of a hook but also to bring the crowd along with him and make them all feel comfortable in their own skin. While his song titles don’t necessarily reflect positivity, the overall message is resonating with a new generation of youths who are always under pressure to look cool on social media. Yungblud is helping these kids to not only be okay with imperfection but to celebrate it and build it into confidence.

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TVD Live Shots:
Jon Spencer and the HITmakers at Bar Brooklyn, 11/13

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN | The last of three trips of the year for me and my day job find me in Stockholm for the first time at the Swedish Search Summit where I’m the second speaker of the day. My topic, creativity for marketers, and what better way to get my head in the right place for an early morning speaking gig than to head down to Bar Brooklyn for the original king of garage punk—the one and only Jon Spencer. He’s taken a break from the Blues Explosion to bless us all with a solo record of sorts called Spencer Plays the Hits and taken to the road as The HITmakers.

He’s brought together an all-star group featuring the talents of Sam Coomes (Quasi, Heatmeiser) and M. Sord, but the real highlight here is the legend that is Bob Bert (Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore). Bert was on percussion, but it looked more like parts from a junkyard, including an industrial-sized coil and trash can that he played with a hammer. At first glance, it’s a pure what the fuck moment, but when it gets going, it works. While the HITmakers are not a massive departure from the noise rock genius of the Blues Explosion, they have a similar formula—loud, aggressive, groovy, and in your face.

Every time I see Jon Spencer live in any capacity, I can’t help but think he’s got to be the hardest working man in garage rock show business. This guy doesn’t stop moving the entire set. He’s like James Brown crossed with Stevie Ray Vaughan in the bizarro world. Bar Brooklyn filled up very quickly to witness the blistering 90 minute plus set that weighed heavily on the new record. But Jon and company threw us a few bones and a curveball with selections from his vast catalogue including a few Blues Explosion numbers that got the crowd going bananas. I swear I saw “Bellbottoms” on the setlist. It never transpired, and it didn’t need to.

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UK Artist of the Week:
St. Bishop

This week’s Artist of the Week comes all the way from Dublin, Ireland and he’s a humdinger, if we do say so ourselves. St. Bishop—aka Stephen Bishop—has just released his shiny new single “Sleep It Off” and its undeniably addictive in all the right ways.

Making his 2019 debut, it seems St. Bishop has been a busy bee this past year, collaborating with a number of exciting new producers in order to hone his sound. For the release of “Sleep It Off’” he has teamed up with the Veta Music (who we are firm favourites of here at TVD).

It seems the latest collaboration has paid off because “Sleep It Off” is all sorts of majestic from the offset. Think Years & Years mixed with Troye Sivan and a bit of Aquilo thrown in for good measure and you’re nearly there. It’s atmospheric, cinematic. and ridiculously infectious.

“Sleep It Off” is out now via Veta Records.

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TVD Live Shots: Heilung at the Roundhouse, 11/10

I’ve seen some unusual shows before, but nothing quite like what I witnessed at the Roundhouse in London last week. Hailing from Denmark, Heilung (translated from German, “heilung” means healing) took to the stage for a ceremonial celebration of all things Celtic and Viking age. With music based on texts from artifacts of the Northern European Iron Age, Heilung call their unique sound “amplified history,” and while it’s an incredibly niche genre, the crowds are getting bigger and bigger.

Founded in 2014 by German tattoo artist Kai Uwe Faust along with Danish vocalist/ producer Christopher Juul and Norwegian singer Maria Franz, the group self-released their debut album, Ofni which quickly garnered an audience. This record would later be reissued on their current label Season of Mist, and become the basis for a stellar live performance, strong critical acclaim, and massive underground buzz that would pave the way for this new genre.

Opening up with a prayer of sorts to a capacity crowd of nearly three thousand, the stage was set to connect the audience back with earth. Nature sounds are played in between sets instead of the sound guy’s random playlist with human bones, reconstructed swords, and frame drums are the instruments of choice. Dark, ominous lyrics pulled from ancient artifacts such as amulets, rune stones, and other iron age artifacts. The level of detail and research that goes into the music is translated very well into a live show. There are moments where you feel as if you were transported back one thousand years into the past and are watching a pagan ritual as it happens. It’s quite an experience.

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UK Artist of the Week: tameBERSERK

Prepare to enter the odd-pop world of London-based multi-instrumentalist tameBERSERK who takes up the mantle of our UK Artist of the Week.

Initially started as solo project by James Pain with the aim of working with a multitude of singers and performers in the London music scene, tameBERSERK grew into a two-man operation with singer Dominic Rose taking up a more permanent role. The result of their collaboration is a debut album, Super Thinking, that ranges from psychedelia to the experimental as tameBERSERK play with sound, samples, and genre, taking an organic, unorthodox approach to songwriting in the process.

One of the album highlights is current single “Favourite Years.” A quirky, lo-fi indie-pop gem that is both challenging and playful, “Favourite Years” is a hallucinogenic, wistful piece of music transporting the listener into a sonic daydream. Accented by Pain’s cerebral, often bizarre, lyrics centered around a maniacal doctor experimenting on someone with supernatural powers, tameBERSERK enter a territory that favourably recalls artists such as Why? and Animal Collective.

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TVD Live Shots: My Vitriol at the Islington Assembly Hall, 11/1

Few bands in the world have a flawless catalogue and a reputation for consistently over-delivering, one of those being My Vitriol. Technically speaking, the band has only delivered two full-length records during their twenty-year run. Still, both of them are brilliant in every aspect of modern music, especially their juggernaut of a debut Finelines, which still holds up flawlessly. Add to that a certain mystique around the band and the fact that they single-handedly invented the genre of “nu gaze” (an evolution of the shoegaze but more accessible and forward-thinking).

This would be the third time I’ve seen My Vitriol since moving to the UK three years ago. They don’t tour very often these days, so when they do, it’s a pretty big deal and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Not only is it a spectacle for the eyes, but the sonic explosion that happens with My Vitriol live is unlike any show I’ve seen before. Touring as a three-piece Seth Taylor, Som Wardner, and Ravi Kesavaram (bassist Tatia Starkey remains on temporary leave) the trio wowed a near-capacity crowd for almost two hours and there was never a dull moment.

The setlist pulled heavily from Finelines with a dozen songs from their masterful debut and surprisingly only four tracks from 2016’s Secret Sessions. It was great to hear “It’s so Damn Easy” early on in the set as it sounds brilliant live. Other highlights were the staples, including “Losing Touch,” “Cemented Shoes,” “The Gentle Art of Choking,” “Alpha Waves,” and of course, “Always Your Way.” Between the lights and the sonic bombardment, this was a show that assaulted all of your senses in the nicest possible way. Parts of the show were so heavy that a decent sized mosh pit formed just in front of the stage. I’m not sure that was necessary as I’ve never seen one at a My Vitriol show, but the show was that intense.

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TVD Live Shots: The Cult at Eventim Apollo, 10/27

I’ve seen The Cult a dozen or so times over the years, but this would be my first time catching them in London. It’s quite a difference as they sold out the legendary Eventim Apollo (the old Hammersmith Ballroom), and the venue was packed to the gills. I’ve never seen a show there this full—you literally could not move. And for extra fun, I forgot my step stool, and the photographers had to shoot from the soundboard.

Now, this review may be slightly biased as The Cult are one of my all-time favorite bands—I celebrate their entire catalogue, even Ceremony, and the underrated self-titled record. If that wasn’t enough, they are touring in support of the 30th anniversary of Sonic Temple, the record that pretty much defined my teenage years.

Sonic Temple is a sonic masterpiece from start to finish. That’s what happened in the ’80s when Bob Rock produced your record. From the opening of “Sun King” to the epic “Fire Woman,” the power ballad for people who hate power ballads “Edie (Ciao Baby),” and of course the soaring chorus of “Sweet Soul Sister,” this record has it all. While early fans of the band would never recognize the transition from post-punk/ goth rock to heavy metal, the band was heading that way regardless. Did it even really matter what these guys did anyway? The songs from Love and Dreamtime fit perfectly into the evolution of the band’s setlist in a way that no one could have predicted. It just works.

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UK Artist of the Week: LUNIR

There’s a lot of forward-thinking electronica on the scene at the moment, thank goodness, and a prime example of this is German-Scottish duo LUNIR. They may have only released two singles officially, but its clear to see from both “Wadidi” and “Cubs” that they will be around for a while.

“Cubs” is a wonderfully addictive slice of alt-pop from the offset. Vibrant electronic beats are combined with melodic guitar twangs to create a sound that is entirely their own. Becky Sikasa’s soulful vocal tone is instantly reminiscent of the likes of Solange but with David’s flawless production expertise, the song takes on a life of its own. Get ready to have this song played on repeat because it’s a hugely infectious ear worm, mark our words.

Having recently played Scotland’s Tenement Trail festival and Cologne Music Week along with a whole bunch of other Summer festivals, its seems clear to us that 2020 could be an even bigger year for the elusive duo. Watch this space.

“Cubs” is in stores now.

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TVD Live Shots:
Gary Numan at the Roundhouse, 10/26

I’ve always been a casual fan of Gary Numan over the years, and then I moved to the UK. Not only is he the godfather of electronic music, a composer, producer, badass guitar player, and incredible frontman, he’s elevated himself to demi-god status in London.

While most of us know him for his groundbreaking ’80s staple “Cars,” there’s so much more to this guy than many of us give him credit. I mean, yeah, he pretty much single-handedly invented an entirely new genre with the release of the near-perfect synth juggernaut The Pleasure Principle in 1979, but he also puts on one of the most epic live shows I’ve ever seen.

This is one of those gigs where I go into it thinking I know Gary Numan, but then come out having gone down the rabbit hole of this guy’s insanely impressive career. Starting with the new wave band Tubeway Army before going solo after two UK chart-topping releases, it was time for Numan to introduce his genius to the world in the form of his debut. The Pleasure Principle gave the world a glimpse into the future and primed the world for synth music to take center stage in the ’80s. Its legacy would go on to influence not only Nine Inch Nails and pretty much the entire industrial and electronica movement, but hip hop too.

I attended the second night of two sold-out jam-packed gigs at London’s legendary Roundhouse in Camden. This was my first time seeing Numan live, and it was quite the spectacle. Numan is sixty-one years old but has the energy and stage presence of a young Trent Reznor and his finest, angriest moments. This works perfectly with the futuristic goth-punk wasteland theme of the lights and staging which push the songs and the atmosphere over the top.

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UK Artist of the Week: Eliza Shaddad

PHOTO: MEL TJOENG | Autumn is well and truly upon us and what better way to get us in the mood for fall than with a dark, brooding track from a very talented Brit. Eliza Shaddad has been making waves both here and across the pond for a while now and her latest single “Girls” looks sure to break boundaries even further.

Instantly reminiscent of the likes of Julia Jacklin or Daughter’s Elena Tonra, “Girls” soars with rich layers of musicality throughout. Starting slowly with Eliza’s smooth, sultry vocals taking centre stage, the chorus then kicks in with all its dream-pop goodness, creating an undeniably atmospheric sound that can’t help but draw you in. Known for her confessional songwriting, “Girls” is no exception as it tackles what its like to grow up at an all girls school and the relationships you can create—and break—while you’re there.

Having already supported Kate Tempest, Oh Wonder, Lucy Rose, and James Bay to name a few, it looks as though 2020 could very well be Eliza Shaddad’s year, so watch this space.

Catch Eliza live next at Pop Brixton, London on 6th November 2019 in association with TVD fave label Big Indie Records.

“Girls,” taken from Eliza’s new EP, due for release early next year, is in stores on 23rd October 2019 via Big Indie Records.

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