Live Review: ‘Avenue’ @ Night & Day Cafe, Manchester (11/10/2017)

The Night and Day Cafe in Manchester is slowly becoming a favourite place amongst young bands. It’s cool, quirky, and at first doesn’t strike you as a music venue, just an overly alternative coffee shop-cum-bar. But it definitely has that hipster vibe which is becoming a must have accessory for a lot of today’s young talent.

Tonight, the headline act is Avenue, a jazz-rock band from Manchester. The place isn’t packed out, but I wouldn’t really expect a full on mosh pit to happen at a jazz gig.
As they kickstart their first song, ‘Mellow Yellow’, it instantly comes across how professional they must work together. They are tight, the sound is clear and the singer has a voice very reminiscent of Amy Winehouse. The overall sound of jazz vocals mixed with rock instruments blends together so smoothly. It’s actually so refreshing to hear a young band sound like this and not like a wannabe Arctic Monkeys/Oasis tribute band.

I just wish they had more spark in their stage presence for in between songs. It deflates the set when they go from full performance mode, to standing around awkwardly, talking shyly to the audience.

‘Move On’ injects some feistiness into the performance, with lead singer Lauren George spitting out lyrics such as, ‘Move on, you need to get some help!’. It has that element of sassiness which makes you want to applaud and shout, ‘YES GIRL!’.
Remember I said the singer sounded like Amy Winehouse? Well sure enough, mid-way through their set, they launch into a cover of ‘Valerie’ (originally done by The Zutons, Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse covered it in 2007). It is definitely their stand out song, getting an impressive reaction from the audience. A crowd pleaser, yes, but it shows off Lauren’s vocals beautifully, and with their own relaxed jazz-rock twist, it makes the song sound effortless.
All the songs that Avenue have performed tonight are slick, well rehearsed and enjoyable to listen to. You just need stage presence guys! Get some movement in there, dance a little, it’s your night and you are in control.
However, it is a good thing that this the only negative thing I have to say about their performance tonight.
Last song ‘Wicked Heart’ leaves the gig on a happy-go-lucky, feel-good note, and finally shows the two guitarists enjoying themselves.

Avenue have incredible songwriting talent, and seem to have already established a solid sound with no doubts of who they want to be. Their set was a perfect mix of well rehearsed originals and crowd pleasing covers. It went down so well, they definitely deserve to feel proud as musicians.

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Live Review: All Time Low @ UEA LCR, Norwich (30/3/17)

Being 5ft 4 and quite tiny in general, having a 6ft steroid loaded body guard standing right in front of you isn’t ideal. I can see one member of the band so…this review is going to be interesting.

The UEA is packed out tonight. It’s been a number of years since Baltimore band, All Time Low graced this ‘fine city’ with their presence, and 14 year old me thought they never would. 19 year old me has mixed feelings about seeing them now, as I haven’t listened to their past two albums properly and- having hauled myself out of my emo phase a few years ago- I feel very out of place wearing a Kanye West shirt.
Thankfully I’m by the sound-desk and not in the mosh pit getting a cocktail of other people’s sweat on me.

Support band SWMRS are…interesting to say the least. They look like they should still be in high school, a band just jamming away in their parents’ basement. Probably mostly famous for having Billie Joe Armstrong’s son on drums, they have a very grungy, laid-back, don’t care, slurred vocals, desperately-trying-to-be-punk sound. It almost works but it feels quite pretentious. They come across very overly confident, already used to being on the stage and being center of attention, even having the balls to write a song about…Miley Cyrus? According to SWMRS she’s a ‘punk rock queen’. Who knew.

SWMRS finish and the anticipation builds. Cue blackout and enter All Time Low. OH WOW THAT’S A LOT OF STROBE LIGHTING.
It’s a little surreal seeing a band that, 5 years ago I accepted I may never see live. It’s almost a euphoric atmosphere when they play ‘Weightless’, one of their most well known and loved songs. Everyone is clapping and the room comes alive with an energy so electric. It’s with this song that everyone is brought together. We sound amazing according to front-man Alex Gaskarth.
‘Somewhere In Neverland’, from the album┬áDon’t Panic, see’s heaps of passion come through, with the entirety of the pit jumping up and down in unison.
Their sound is as clean as on the records, none of this half-arsed singing you get with some bands live who think they’re ‘all that’. All Time Low are down to earth, nice guys- despite being how well known they are- and they take the time to thank the crowd, seeming genuinely in awe at the energy the crowd has and how many people are here.
Ah Jack Barakat already has 2 bras dangling off his mic stand, classy as ever Norwich.
Beach balls are suddenly flying everywhere and even the disco balls were brought out. Combined with the intense lighting set-up All Time Low have, it feels like one big fucking party.
‘Everywhere we look we see people, it’s kind of cool’, says Jack.
Their new song, ‘Dirty Laundry’, has very different sound to the usual pop-punk All Time Low are known for. It’s ambient and fresh and just when you think it’s going to stay relaxed, they hit you with all instruments and volume for the last chorus. Is this a new era of All Time Low we’re seeing?
As soon as Alex brings out his acoustic guitar up start the chants of ‘Wonderwall’. A song which- after hearing every time you go to the pub in Manchester- you’d rather pass on.
The banter that Alex and Jack have is very reminiscent of early Blink 182, minus the continuous dick jokes.
All Time Low blast out more flawless hits such as Love Like War and Backseat Serenade, and my throat is now very dry from singing. This is a brilliant gig, I may not be heavily into All Time Low anymore but honestly, I’m still having an awesome time. They know how to put on a good show and not let the quality of their sound slip up.
Encore: Lost In Stereo and Dear Maria, Count Me in
If you are standing still during this then you are a very boring person. You couldn’t have chosen better songs to end the show with. Everyone is going to leave in high spirits and on a serious serotonin kick. Well done All Time Low, that was fucking incredible.

Live Review: La Mode (+Ballamona and Maddy Storm)

The Night and Day cafe in Manchester is one of those hidden gems nestled in Northern Quarter, and the last place you expect to be packed out on a Tuesday night for a gig.

GENERATION MCR– an event put on by BIMM students, for BIMM students and reviewed by BIMM students.

First up are Ballamona, who seem nervous- expected given the huge crowd- and arrive up onstage heads down, slouching behind their guitars. They are very much reminiscent of early Foo Fighters and soaked with Indie that if you cut them open The Strokes would play, with the bassist having a Kurt Cobain style presence. A moment during the intro to the second song, the drum beat was so similar to The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson yet then twisted and went into a smooth, safe indie rock song. It captivated you as there were so many styles all blended into one. The vocals are almost slurred, definitely trying to recreate that laid back, nonchalant feel generic indie bands have. However, you cannot fault Ballamona on their talent. You can tell they have a direction and sound they are happy with and want to move forward in. They are a very melodic band, the music and vocals blend together like coffee and cream. It’s always good to interact with the crowd, however you need to judge the timing , as you will lose interest from the audience. Unfortunately this is the only time Ballamona slipped up during their entire performance, but no band is perfect when they first start out. Credit to them as they did pick it back up, captivating the crowd again and holding onto them until the very end of the set.

Little Maddy Storm with the big voice.
A huge contrast to Ballamona, with her music having a very ambient feel, unlike anything I’ve heard before. Maddy Storm and her band grab your attention in such a different way to Ballamona, the music tricks you into thinking it will constantly be a gentle listen and then the volume rises and Maddy releases a teaser of her powerful vocals. Whilst the music is good, it is so chilled out and relaxing, I could have easily curled up on one of the sofas and drifted off to sleep. Maybe Maddy wasn’t the right choice to have on after an indie-rock get up?
There were moments throughout her performance when the (intentional?) feedback detracted the attention from her voice, making it a struggle to make out the lyrics. Despite this, Maddy clearly has potential to become a strong character, there’s already a glimmer of front-woman in her. Her music is unique, it’s fresh sounding, you can’t pin point one particular artist she sounds like, and the performance tonight shows she means business and is not your typical singer/songwriter. There’s ambition, emotion and drive behind her voice. She just needs to act like she owns the stage, that it is her place…and she will go far.

For the entire performance that La Mode gave all I can think about is how the vocalist looks and acts so much like Joey Ramone that it scares me. With her voice also sounding like a mash up of Axl Rose and Joan Jett, it’s a very confusing gig to watch/listen…and I think I like it?
Songs such as ‘Electric’ inject the crowd with energy, with their sound being similar to Ballamona- very indie, punky, more aggressive vibes, dripping with attitude. Their cover of ‘Woman’is incredible, and I feel that most of the bands musical talent shines through this song. As someone listening to it you can tell that they love it and have worked hard on that, to do the song justice. La Mode are a band you can picture playing in bigger venues already. They have that edgy aesthetic that appeals to the younger generation.
Now, audience participation can be the make or break of your gig, asking the crowd to clap and getting blank looks back is always awkward, yet La Mode seem to have the audience wrapped round their little finger. The crowd claps and hollars along to pretty much every song. Impressive.
It’s time for the instruments to mellow out now, and let the vocals fill up the Night and Day venue like smoke. That girl has some lungs on her. She shouts, roars and yells her way through the whole of the set, never faltering, maintaining a consistent power few female vocalists actually master.
It must be a euphoric sensation being able to perform like that, and to end the set to a full crowd cheering, clapping and begging for more is such an achievement. La Mode should be incredibly proud of themselves.