Photos by Nadine Ballantine
One of the most recognised British metalcore bands of the 21st century, I was rather impressed to see that Bring Me The Horizon had included a date in Wales on their Sempiternal tour alongside Crossfaith (whom I undeniably looked forward to seeing, as their music has literally appeared to spring on to the music scene from nowhere) and heavy progressive band Empress from London. An easy representation of their recent fame is proven in the fact that tickets for this singular Cardiff date sold out within an hour or two of release. Luckily, I was not about to miss this opportunity and made my way downstairs at the early hour of 9am to ensure I got tickets to this unmissable tour date.
Anyway, I arrived on the night, May 5th, an hour before. The line was already filled with ecstatic chants and eager conversation of those who were there before me. Some even arrived earlier on in the day and sat around towards the front of the queue; dedication of fans is often unquestionable in the rock scene.Upon enetering the venue I followed through the hall straight to where crowds were gathering in front of the stage. Empress were already playing by this point. Though I hasten to add the lack of enthusiasm across the room, the band is relatively small and unknown, but they were cheered on and listened to regardless. For a rather insignificant band, yet to make their impact on rock magazines and television, they delivered a rather impressive, heavy set list. Lead singer Ollie Loring also promised to hang around by merchandise after the show for anyone who wanted to strike up a chat, and they seemed like a decent group of friendly guys.
Between Empress and Crossfaith, pits began to open up and I was pushed to the front few rows of the crowds where I awaited Crossfaith’s entrance. Considering the band is Japanese, don’t speak much English and have never been to the UK before, many were apprehensive, but their doubts were quickly swept away. Bursting in with their hit single Monolith, the fans erupted with loud outbursts and movement. Members of Crossfaith certainly took pride in stage movement; jumping around and into the crowd to join the rest of their fans. I knew their music was impressive before, but the adjective ‘lively’ would be such an understatement that I feel it unsuitable to use. It was hard to keep both your feet on the ground from the excitement that echoed through the hall during their set. They take the crown so far for the most impressive support act I’ve ever seen. If you’re into deathcore, circle pits and violent head banging, I genuinely put this band forward as a suggestive music alternative.
Time came for Bring Me The Horizon to soon make their way on stage. At this point, I was one row away from the barrier and surrounded by fans holding letters and toys to throw up on stage to the members during the set. Conversation bubbled around the room as stage technicians set up the instruments and everybody prepared for a terrific end to an already good night. The lights went out and there wasn’t one person in the room not roaring or screaming in anticipation. By this point, some people had already broken down into tears as they prepared to meet their heroes. Strong strobe lighting illuminated the room, and lead singer Oli Sykes, surrounded by the rest and equally credited Bring Me The Horizon members took center stage. They opened with the globally recognised new single of theirs; Shadow Moses. Fans gladly sang along and it made me pleased to see Oli genuinely smiling about the fact that he was there.
Fortunately, by this point I was fully at the front, on the barrier. I was able to see every member of the band enjoying themselves (including Jordan Fish, the recent synth player addition to Bring Me) as well as getting a good view of everything that was going on. The significant point I noticed during this gig was that every song had an even greater impact on the band members than the crowd. As lead Oli began to scream his own lyrics, he stood up to face everybody and there were tears in his eyes already, this early on into the gig. The fact that somebody who wrote and had heard the song a thousand times was so easily broken down by it really showed the emotion and meaning behind what they stand for as a band.
He got on his knees, and sung into the floor while he trembled and took sharp, short breaths from trying to stop himself fully breaking down in front of everybody. Never have I seen anybody so close to their own music before in my life, and I thoroughly applaud him for his vibrant, inspiring expression of emotion during this concert, and it quickly blew BMTH’s vastly growing ‘mainstream’ reputation away from my mind. The rest of the night was equally as brilliant. Even fifteen rows in front, I could still feel the pushes and shoves from the mosh pit at the back of the room, and felt the crowdsurfers landing on my head to be brought over the barrier by the security guards. The good thing about rock music is that there’s always a beat for every fan to follow even if they don’t know the words, and an amalgamation of old and modern tracks on the setlist proved a very successful idea.
Overall, the night was one of the best of my life. Empress and Crossfaith members were hanging around merchandise; making friends and signing tickets. I briefly had photos and talked to them (genuine friendly guys) before leaving, and it was only when the cold night air hit me that I realised how incredible the night actually was. To summarise how much I recommend Bring Me The Horizon to mediocre metal listeners, at 11pm I was still sat outside the venue, bawling away because it would be ages until their next tour. A fantastic mid show to Bring Me’s Sempiternal tour.
Review Hannah Rhianne Newberry
Photos Nadine Ballantine
The Bloody Ballad
At Volcano, Swansea
15th April 2013
Murder, incest, kidnapping and arson don’t sound like the perfect ingredients for a feel-good rockabilly music show yet Gagglebabble’s The Bloody Ballad is guaranteed to leave you with a huge smile on your face (and possibly a nauseous feeling in your stomach).
Meet Mary Maid (Lucy Rivers) and her band The Missin’ Fingers. Mary’s had a tough week and would like nothing more than to share her tale with you before the authorities catch up with her.
After a few warm up tunes – including a brilliant rendition of Johnny Cash classic ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ by guitarist Dan Messore and an astonishing drum solo from Tom Cottle – Mary tells all about ‘What my Daddy Done (in A minor)’ pun most definitely intended. Knowing her back story it doesn’t come as a surprise when Mary falls for the first man to show her real romantic attention – a mysterious, shifty yet charming wanderer Connor (Oliver Woods) who works his magic on the whole audience with his velvety vocals.
After a week-long whirlwind romance Connor betrays naive Mary and the consequences for him are not pretty at all. Mary may be young but she can sure look after herself – leaving a trail of blood and bodies behind her. Including the body of Connor’s psychotic, snakeskin wearing Mama played (with more energy than can be safe) by Hannah McPake.
Lucy Rivers is perfect as our ill-fated heroine, with a tortured look in her eye and a mean singing voice, a bit like True Blood’s Sookie Stackhouse but a lot more kick-ass! By the end the stage is littered with severed fingers, a snake’s head and a whole lot of blood!
Drawing on clichés of 1950s Mid-West America – the isolated gas station, the mysterious wanderer, hillbilly culture – the cast get every bit of humour out of the brilliant script (also written by the hugely talented Rivers). The amount of musical skill on the stage is phenomenal, every member of the cast could play, sometimes multiple, instruments and all had brilliant bluesy vocals.
It’s so refreshing to see such a raw and passionate production that, although professional, doesn’t take itself too seriously. The performers’ love for the show was so infectious and it was an absolute crime that more people weren’t there to share the unforgettable experience!
Not only will the toe-tappingly good tunes replay over and over in your head but the great flair for simple storytelling will ensure the tragic tale of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks will haunt you for a long time.
A truly original and daring production that smashes through so many genres –part folktale, part Tarantino violence and part rock and roll gig – 100% unmissable!
This is THE best touring music show you will see.
Seriously get yourself a ticket for the tour then go see it again in Edinburgh!
For more on the company : www.gagglebabble.co.uk
Gwyn Hall, Neath
Date & Time: 17th April, 7.30pm
Box Office: 0300 3656677 / www.nptartsandents.co.uk
Tickets: £9, £7 members, £5 students
St Donat’s Arts Centre, Vale of Glamorgan
Date & Time: 19th April, 8pm
Box Office: 01446 799100 / www.stdonats.com
Tickets: £12.50, £10.50 conc
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
Date & Time: 24th April, 7pm
Box Office: 01267 67 6669 / www.ticketsource.co.uk/tsd
Tickets: £6, £4
Torch Theatre, Milford Haven
Date & Time: 25th-26th April, 7.45pm
Box Office: 01646 695 267 / www.torchtheatre.co.uk
Tickets: £12/£10 conc/under 26s £7
Soho Theatre, London
Date & Time: 29th April-4th May, 7.30pm
Box Office: 020 7478 0100 / www.sohotheatre.com
Tickets: £10 Mon + Tues, £15 (£12.50 concs) Weds – Sat
Despite the teeth-chattering Welsh weather, crowds gathered to the small yet intimate venue of ‘Clwb Ifor Bach’ in the heart of Cardiff to hear the sounds of up and coming singer songwriter, Lewis Watson on his first headlining tour. Known for his popular YouTube channel, ‘HolyLoowis’, with 58,142 subscribers and 2,881,495 video views its clear to say he is following the footsteps of major artist, Ed Sheeran. The fresh faced Oxfordshire twenty year old has already released 2 EP’s, with another on the way this month, it is evident he is capable of having a successful year.
As the support acts finished off, Lewis Watson finally ambled on stage following his band to a welcoming mix of screams and cheers and went straight into pleasing the crowd with the song ‘Even If’ from his second EP ‘Another four sad songs’. Following this was a mix of songs from his EP’s and also a cover of a well known ‘Bombay Bicycle Club’ tune. The night included a lot of crowd interaction; even the many confessions of love were recognised and returned by blushing Lewis in-between his amicable talent showcase. It is obvious to say that he may not be used to this attention as he seemed slightly overwhelmed by the support in Cardiff. Although, his lyrics are deep yet well thought out and Lewis allowed his music to speak for itself. Mid-way through his gig, Lewis decided he wanted it to become even more intimate and politely asked the fans to sit down and make a small circle in the middle of the floor. This resulted in a one-off unplugged session, and for those close enough, a face to face serenade.
As the gig came to an end with Lewis teasing his audience with his newest EP ‘Into the Wild’, he announced that he’d like to come out and meet all of his fans once he’d finished. Time couldn’t have gone any slower for the waiting fans, but eventually he emerged and began willingly signing everything, from shoes to phone cases and happily took countless photos with the lively crowd. Although still new to the music business, Lewis Watson knew what he was doing and managed to satisfy the demanding crowd.
One Direction ‘Take Me Home’ World Tour Review by Samantha Tiernan;
After fighting for tickets over a year ago, One Direction fangirls were finally able to see their world famous idols perform their latest album ‘Take Me Home’ on their sell-out tour in Cardiff’s very own, Motorpoint Arena. This extreme demand resulted in the five young boys performing 2 evening shows and 2 matinee shows from the 1st of March to the 3rd of March, meaning the city of Cardiff was filled with over excited teenage girls desperate to meet Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Liam Payne.
After the long wait in the queues, spiralling all the way around to the back of the arena with enthusiastic singing from almost everyone, the doors opened promptly and a rush of screaming fans found their seats and waited impatiently for the support acts.
Firstly, American singer ‘Camryn’ appeared and sang several of her own songs and covers, including Kelly Clarkson’s ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. However the crowd didn’t seem to find her entertaining, with the majority staying in their seats despite her attempts to stimulate the room. It was clear the unimpressed fans did not find her enticing as she announced her next song, which followed with an echoed sigh throughout the audience. Whereas the second support act, 5 seconds of summer wowed the audience with their material as well as a rendition of ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry. The Australian band proved to be much more popular than the earlier act and managed to get most of the crowd on their feet in preparation for One Direction to storm the stage.
Eventually, the time came. Avid fans got their signs and glow sticks ready as videos on huge screens showed the boys introducing themselves during a pretty exciting party. The well designed set became known to the audience, including ramps, stairs, a platform and obviously the band before the five boys appeared to roars of screams.
Starting with a hit from their previous, debut album the boys introduced themselves with ‘Up All night’ which erupted the arena leaving everybody jumping and screaming. After several upbeat performances from both of their albums they slowed it down with the song ‘Change My Mind’ and stepped onto the platform in the centre of the stage. Amazingly, on the platform they made their way over the audience to the second stage towards the back of the arena while singing their hearts out, causing some dedicated fans to ball their eyes out. The boys are known for their brilliant interaction with their fans and this show was no exception, as they answered questions sent to them from twitter, having the audience in hysterics at them attempting to speak welsh. As the boys headed back to the main stage they continued to please the audience with their lively music, including a cover of the well known ‘Teenage Dirtbag’.
Finally, Zayn, Louis, Liam Harry and Niall said their thankyou’s and goodbye’s and headed off stage leaving a frenzy of fangirls unsure of what to do with themselves. Outside, the surroundings of the Motorpoint arena consisted of grinning girls wearing as much merchandise as they could and plenty of declarations of love.
Mumford and Sons, Cardiff Motor Point Arena.
The mumbling conversations of eager, enthusiastic fans were silenced. The rumbles of each member of the audience’s applaud and their high pitched screams and cheers took their place. Mumford and Sons were about to begin, and the anticipated night ahead could now fulfil its prophecy.
Leaving no time for the audience to catch their breath, Mumford and Sons burst onto the stage, beginning with their newest single ‘I Will Wait.’ The energy that Marcus Mumford created with the incredible lyrics and his beautifully intoxicating voice is something that, in my opinion, could only be completely understood when heard live. The four breathtakingly talented men, played a passionate set of old and new songs, from Babel, their newest album, and Sigh No More, their first album released in 2009, which portrayed not only their dedication for their profession, but their consistency in their music, and their hard-working ethics.
During their performance, Marcus Mumford produced pitch perfect vocals, whilst flawlessly playing various instruments, like the acoustic guitar, mandolin and drums. Winston Marshall provided incredible harmonies, as well as playing the acoustic guitar and banjo immaculately throughout the night… Ben Lovett played mostly keyboard instruments, which complemented the set beautifully. Finally, Ted Dwane played a variety of instruments throughout the night, such as string bass, guitar, as well as backing vocals, giving each song the ‘western folk’ feel that Mumford and Sons are known for. Each song in the set was finished and immaculate, but thanks to the string instruments used and Marcus Mumford’s naturally rugged voice, they still maintained the rough, folk-like feel that everyone loves.
They performed a range of upbeat, country-like songs, as well as slower, more meaningful songs. Personally, the highlight of the evening for me; was their emotional performance of ‘Timshel.’ Each member of the band; stood in a line, with their hands behind their backs, facing the audience. All four members sang the lyrics ‘you are not alone in this.’ Everyone in the audience was silent, staring up to them in awe. The majority of the song was performed softly and full of emotion, inspiring to me, and I’m sure many other members of the audience.
Their incredible performance seemed to put a smile on everybody’s face, so as their set began to draw to a close, I think everyone felt slightly deflated. However, Mumford and Sons brought it back during their final song, ‘The Cave.’ After only about three seconds into the song, the audience came back to life, and sang each word back to the band. The upbeat and lively song was a perfect way to end a perfect night. The band accepted a powerful applaud for the final time, and walked off the stage. The lights turned on, and each person I saw leaving the arena, was smiling uncontrollably. After seeing Mumford and Sons, any doubts that they couldn’t perform as well live have completely vanished, and they have proven to be an extremely talented, unique band that deserve to be in everyone’s top 10 playlist!
Review of Mumford and Sons Live!
On the night of the 13th December, it was cold but that didn’t seem to bother the masses of fans who were queuing to see Mumford and Sons. As you got into the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff a wave of excitement hit you. The atmosphere was incredible. Behind the flags that were hung up on stage rows and rows of light bulbs could be seen and as you looked up above the crowd lights were hung, not yet lit but it seemed to get the crowd more excited.
After a little bit of waiting the first support act appeared on stage, ‘The Post War Years’. Their electronic beats got the crowd excited and moving. Many of the people were dancing and enjoying the ecstatic indie sound soaked in a deep love of forward-thinking electronic. The four piece brought smiles to the faces of almost everyone in the packed room.
The second support act ‘Dawes’, who are an American rock band from Los Angeles, composed of brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, along with Wylie Gelber and Tay Strathairn, were more lively and energetic than the previous band. Dawes’ sound was more similar to Mumford’s and the crowd interacted more with them. Their set consisted of lively songs but also two slow songs which were near the end of the set. Having never heard of them before, Dawes are now definitely a band I would listen too. As Dawes exited the stage a big red flag was dropped in front of the stage and screams echoed around the room.
After nearly three hours of waiting the moment had arrived, everyone could finally get what we were waiting for. The excitement was building as shadows danced behind the flag, as the flag was dropped a silence washed over the room, only to be shattered a second later as cheers of elation were passed around the audience.Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, “Country” Winston Marshall, and Ted Dwane were standing before us, and started to play the breath taking music that would stay with us the rest of the evening.
Mumford and Sons were joined on stage by a three piece brass arrangement, who accompanied the band beautifully throughout the night. The band played songs from both their new album ‘Babel’ and their first release ‘Sigh No More’. One song that really stood out was ‘Timshel’ from the album ‘Sigh No More’, where Marcus, Ted, Ben and Winston all put their instruments aside and stood at the front of the stage and acoustically sang. The sound was so pure, as they sung the words ‘And you are not alone in this, as brothers we will stand and we’ll hold your hand’, many hearts were touched.
I think it is safe to say as people left the arena after Mumford had finished their two encore pieces that no one left disappointed. Everyone that I saw left with a smile on their face, and a happy heart as they had just heard the inspiring lyrics and sound that is Mumford and Sons.
Mumford and Sons ‘The Tour of Two Halves’
The folk-rock band made their way to The Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on the 13th of December as one of their 16 UK dates for their sell out tour ‘The Tour Of Two Halves’.
The night begun with ‘Piff The Magic Dragon’ which was a very unique stand up act that had the crowd in howls of laughter with his peculiar sense of humour. Next up was the band of four from London, ‘Post War Years’ who wowed the crowd with exclusive tracks from their new EP. Following was Californian band ‘Dawes’ who also privileged the crowd with sounds from their brand new un-released album.
Eventually, the extreme madness started, as the iconic logo appeared on the oversized curtain right in front of our eyes across the stage. As the Bass of their latest single ‘Babel’ started echoing throughout the CIA the crowd went into uproar. However, due to the absence of the band, each and every audience member was waiting in suspense and finally, the curtain dropped as the song proceeded, allowing the audience to witness the delights of frontman Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwayne.
The night progressed with a mix of their debut album ‘Sigh No More’ and most recent album ‘Babel’. Including the sorts of ‘Holland Road’, ‘I Will Wait’, ‘Little Lion Man’ and ‘Below My Feet’, just to name a few. This was clearly to the audience’s delight as almost every person had their hands in the air while singing along to the meaningful, well-thought out lyrics, establishing the rather breath-taking atmosphere. Furthermore, the emotions of Marcus throughout the whole performance proved his passion for his music and lyrics, touching each audience member with his deep feelings.
The show ended with a rendition of their hit number 1 single ‘The Cave’, leaving the crowd muttering the words of ‘perfection’ and ‘world class’.