1 a journey for pleasure across the continent of Europe in which one attends multiple concerts within a short space of time: e.g. a six-date run of The Last Shadow Puppet tour dates across the UK, France and Amsterdam.
So many shows in so little time! Here's our top picks...
#5. COEUR DE PIRATE - LONDON - SCALA
Scala is a strange multi-tiered venue. It's all weirdly designed platforms and balconies that elevate show-goers above the stage, but at such an angle that when attending a packed out show it becomes impossible to catch even a glimpse of the performer. So, precariously standing on tip-toes on top of a couch on the topmost balcony of the venue, is how I maintained a pinhole bird's eye view of Béatrice Martin - a.k.a. Coeur De Pirate - during her recent London show.
Although the latest Coeur De Pirate album, 'Roses', is equal parts songs sung in English and French, as was to be expected, the majority of the night's set-list was sung in French - a true demonstration of how music is a truly universal language, with Béatrice's emotive performance lessened naught by not being able to understand a word of what she sang. If anything, it made the mostly non-French-speaking London audience more attentive - wholly captivated in reading Béatrice's body-language through her expressive dancing.
#4. WOLF ALICE - LONDON - O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
After landing in London at 6am, it's a testament to my love for Wolf Alice that I forced myself to stay awake long enough to watch the entirety of their 9:30pm set (before finally giving into my New Zealand body-clock and falling asleep in an Uber) - but man, am I glad I did.
Last time I saw Wolf Alice live it was at a small bar in Sydney surrounded by Dads who only seemed to be familiar with the cover they played of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game'. This time, it was the third night of a sold-out four-night run at a large theatre (similar to the run-down St. James but larger), surrounded by avid fans who cheered on every riff played and went rabid for both EP and album songs alike. This is exactly what live shows should be like. From the unflagging enthusiasm beaming upon the faces of an ecstatic Wolf Alice, to frontwoman Ellie Rowsell's impassioned vocals that effortlessly shifted gears between sombre songs and the more feral, to the confetti that rained down at the end of show-closer 'Giant Peach', it was all the stuff that Wolf Alice fans' dreams are made out of.
P.S. And a very special shout-out to Gengahr's John Victor who learnt all of the set-list in one day and played bass in place of Theo Ellis who was unfortunately hospitalised due to a "really bad infection" surrounding his elbow.
#3. CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN - LONDON - O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN
To say that Catfish and The Bottlemen fans really, really, really, really love Catfish and The Bottlemen, would be a ridiculous understatement - I've never ever felt such a tireless intensity from a non-hometown crowd; every single song performed felt like an encore. Earlier this year when I first heard the news that Catfish and The Bottlemen beat the likes of Years and Years and James Bay to win this year's BRIT Award for British Breakthrough Act, I was bewildered to say the least. But now, after witnessing their fanbase in action, nothing seems impossible anymore when it comes to this band.
Highlights of the show included performances of new songs ('Anything', 'Red', '7', and 'Soundcheck'), and the impressively frenzied sing-along that accompanied frontman Van McCann - from the opening-notes of 'Homesick' right through to the extended version of show-closer, 'Tyrants' - which often superseded even Van in volume.
#2. THE JAPANESE HOUSE & THE 1975 - PARIS - L'OLYMPIA
It was a bittersweet feeling knowing that this would likely be the last time I'd ever get to see The 1975 play an under 2,000-sized capacity venue ever again - so with that in mind, I was determined to make the most of my really excellent seat (thanks Sony Music NZ / Dirty Hit!) in this beautiful Parisian theatre.
Obviously, The 1975 played a flawless set. And obviously, seeing 'Paris' played live in Paris, was a magical experience. But most important of all, was how well 'If I Believe You' translated into a live setting (even without additional backing-singers) - ironically, somewhat akin to a religious experience.
I cannot speak highly enough of The Japanese House - genuinely, I can't remember being this impressed by a new artist in recent memory, at all. But like The 1975, words don't really do her live show justice - it's like its very own special kind of feeling and transcendent plane of existence, all weaved into one unique musical 3D art-installation.
#1. THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS - PARIS & AMSTERDAM - L'OLYMPIA & PARADISO
These two European shows perfectly bookended my run of six The Last Shadow Puppets dates, and although there was an undeniably special quality about both Miles Kane and Alex Turner's hometown shows (Liverpool and Sheffield), the band's banter was incomparably light-hearted when performing to a non-English speaking audience - with Turner even publicly dedicating 'Sweet Dreams, TN' to his girlfriend Taylor Bagley. In comparison, the London show's warmest (and weirdest) quip involved Turner asking the crowd if anyone had a Mojo magazine subscription, and despite playing London on the day of release of their new album, 'Everything You've Come To Expect', they didn't mention the record even once. Not ones to self-promote; that's exactly what one ought to expect from The Last Shadow Puppets.
Much is made of TLSP being Turner's 'side-band' and Kane only his sidekick, but one only has to attend a show and watch Kane brilliantly take charge on gems such as 'Pattern', 'Aviation' and 'Used To Be My Girl', to realise the utter nonsense of his contributions to the duo being ridiculously downplayed. And also, Kane shreds.
You haven't lived until you've witnessed Turner croon his way through new tunes, 'The Dream Synopsis' and 'Sweet Dreams, TN'. You just haven't. Not truly. Goofing around in ways that the usually deadpan Turner has never showcased on-stage with the Arctic Monkeys, Kane brings out a more playful side to him - the kind of Turner that will mime catching kisses from front-row fans, the kind of Turner that will serenade a balloon, and the kind of Turner that will wear his Riddler costume from last Halloween on-stage.
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