REVIEW: LANA DEL REY at Manchester Apollo, 24th May 2013
Anticipation: a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action; the act of looking forward; of pleasurable expectation (spoken in the style of Emily Thorne from Revenge).
Lana Del Rey is not unlike the effortlessly elegant and elusive heroine of ABC/E4‘s primetime thriller; both are highly stylised, intriguingly introverted and yield a subtle power that is unmistakably and manipulatively female. I have been under the spell of both Emily and Lana for over a year now and at the Manchester Apollo last week, in much the same way as I felt when Nolan sped off with Jack and faux Amanda’s life floated away on a capsized dinghy; I couldn’t wait to see what would unfold when Del Rey took to the stage.
The capacity crowd of 3,500 fans were equally excitable and I quickly realised that I had never been to a sold out show at this venue – I wouldn’t use the word uncomfortable, but it was certainly snug in the standing area and security had to constantly berate people for standing in the gangways. I’m not sure how this came to be, as the venue would certainly not have oversold the standing ticket allocation. It was also a little unsettling to see security and St John’s Ambulance personnel running up and down the aforementioned gangways for most of the first half of the show. Admittedly, I was feeling a little anxious due to the visible police presence in the reception area of the venue and it doesn’t take much for my imagination to run wild.
Del Rey took to the 1920′s-inspired stage with all the build-up and glamour befitting a screen siren of the age. Golden chandeliers and elaborate drapes embellished the performance space and a rotating sequence of Del Rey’s music videos ran on the big screen behind the artist herself. Image is just as important as songwriting in Del Rey’s appeal to her fans, so naturally she looked every inch the fashion icon in a floaty white skater skirt and matching blouse, complete with a natural Californian tan. Hypnotic would be an accurate way to describe Del Rey’s aura; she doesn’t say much but commands the stage with that same subtle power that I mentioned earlier. When she does address the crowd, she does so as “friends” and the adoration is clearly mutual as she is greeted with deafening and constant screams. She really does personify the notion of vintage Hollywood, with her glistening and perfectly curled hair and just a hint of naive vulnerability.
Just one thing managed to rile me throughout the show - the time Del Rey spent chatting to and having photographs taken with the entire front row contingent. The entire front row. I recognise that this would be simply amazing if you happened to be on that front row, but for those of us who weren’t, it really wasn’t. I think if people are paying the same price to see a show then they should be treated to the same experience. I think it’s great if artists want to meet their fans but to spend close to half an hour (of an hour and 15 minutes set) doing so? The rest of us could see what was going on but were left to look at an empty stage and after around ten minutes or so, people started to grow impatient. The close relationship between Del Rey and her fans is clear to see, but Lana – spread the love a little!
I was so excited to hear Video Games and National Anthem performed live and I wasn’t disappointed. Any questions concerning vocal capabilities had been completely unnecessary – Del Rey sounded strong as she teasingly played around with the melodies to some of her most popular tracks. We left after National Anthem, but apparently Del Rey hung around for another half an hour for more chat and probable Facebook photo uploads…alright for some (not jealous at all, not at all).
Setlist: Cola, Body Electric, Blue Jeans, Born To Die, Carmen, Blue Velvet, Young and Beautiful, Burning Desire, Ride, Without You, Summertime Sadness, Video Games, National Anthem.
Britney is the treble baby/Will.I.Am’s the bass; The Voice UK judge confirmed for Britney’s next album
In my capacity as top Britney fan of the Western Hemisphere (self-awarded), I am rather gleeful this week as the rumours have finally been confirmed; The Voice UK judge and all round king of the quirks Will.I.Am , will executive produce Britney‘s forthcoming eighth studio album.
My favourite track from Britney’s last album, Femme Fatale (2011), was the Will.I.Am penned homage to old-school house music, ‘Big Fat Bass’. Spears’ vocals are heavily processed on the track, as she states “I can be the treble, baby/You can be the bass” and Will.I.Am infuses keys with – unsurprisingly, given the title – a killer bassline that is addiction personified. I couldn’t get enough of this track on the first listen and it is still the first that I flick to when listening to the record. ‘Big Fat Bass’ gave us a taster of what was possible when these two artists collaborate; if this was the amuse-bouche, then ‘Scream & Shout’ was definitely the appetiser and a veritable plethora of delights await us for the main course with this next album.
This is the news that most Britney fans have been waiting for, as we have long been of the opinion that high-energy electropop and dance is the direction that Britney should continue to follow, after the brilliance that was 2007′s Blackout (‘Gimme More’, ‘Piece of Me’, ‘Radar’). Will.I.Am hopes that the forthcoming album will reflect who Spears is as a person rather than
We need to talk about what she’s excited about in life. I gotta talk about the things that hurt her. I gotta talk about the things that make her concerned – she’s a mother. I gotta talk to her about all the things that her fans want to talk to her about…
I like this approach. My favourite Britney track, ‘Everytime’, gives the listener an insight in to Spears’ narrative voice and stream of consciousness and makes a seemingly untouchable celebrity entity, endearingly relatable. The track packs more of a punch because of the insinuation that it is rooted in the deep, painful truth of a real-life break up…and we can all relate to that! One of the most powerful live performances of the track that I’ve seen was during Britney’s 2004 Onyx Hotel Tour, where she spoke to the audience beforehand about the meaning behind the lyrics and expressed how difficult that part of her life had been. I think it was in that moment that I began to see Spears not as the world-famous star that she is, but as a normal girl who wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable in front of thousands of people and who wears her heart very much on her album sleeve.
I’d love to experience more of those moments and hope that this forthcoming album will provide just such an opportunity.
This week I am enjoying new track, ‘Beauty Queen’ from Southampton’s most promising and synthiest singer-songwriter, Foxes.
Synthiest; as well as being a word I have just made up, is also an example of the superlative:
Grammar a superlative adjective or adverb.
(the superlative) the highest degree of comparison.
I have also been getting reacquainted with the wonderful world of the English Language, before taking up my first home tutoring role. I studied English at A Level and for my degree and just this week discovered that, whilst other girls may be impressed by flowers or fine dining, my romantic achilles’ heel appears to be the semicolon. As Aqualung would say “…semicolon, you’re strange and you’re beautiful”.
Foxes is Louisa Rose Allen, who first caused a stir back in early 2012 with her debut track, ‘Youth’. Think Marina, meets Ellie, meets someone with a slightly earthier vocal who wouldn’t sound out of place at a folk festival – less of the falsetto but no less of the emotion. Perhaps uncoincidentally, Neon Gold Records released the debut offerings of all three artists; they certainly know how to recognise a potential mainstream, yet credible, electronic artist when they see one. As such, I think Foxes’ future is pretty much secured.
The ‘Warrior’ EP is now available to download on iTunes.
www.iamfoxes.com / @iamfoxes
Even Reg, his giant spectacles and BFG-sized creative wisdom couldn’t hold them back; Empire of the Sun release new track ‘Alive’
Empire of the Sun have released new track ‘Alive’, taken from their upcoming second album ‘Ice on the Dune’ (scheduled for release on June 17th, 2013).
The Australian synthpop duo’s multi award-winning debut album ‘Walking on a Dream’ (2008), featuring the now classic ‘We Are the People’, was surely the soundtrack to most people’s summer of 2009. It’s been a long wait and I personally blame Elton John for that…curse Reg, his giant spectacles and BFG-sized creative wisdom. Alas I cannot; I love his ivory tickling far too much and in any event he has finally released his apprentices to continue the great work they started five years ago.
‘Alive’ is my favourite new release of 2013 so far.
I think that pretty much covers it.
Pre-order ‘Ice on the Dune’ via iTunes and receive ‘Alive’ for free at
www.empireofthesun.com / @EmpireOfTheSun
Illinois native and folk rock artist Lissie has given us a taste of the follow-up to her 2010 debut album, ‘Catching a Tiger’; new track ‘Shameless’ has been given the lyric video treatment this month and it would appear that the wait has definitely been worthwhile.
‘Catching a Tiger’ was one of my favourite albums of 2010 and Lissie’s performance at the Cambridge Folk Festival in the same year was equally memorable. Released tracks from her debut album included, ‘When I’m Alone’, ‘In Sleep’ and ‘Cuckoo’. Lissie has an instantly recognisable and gutsy tone to her voice, helping her to sit comfortably between the genres of country and rock music. I would hasten to add that Lissie is probably one of the best-selling female artists of the latter genre, in the UK over recent years. No mean feat and hopefully a precursor of what is to come with her second album.
www.lissie.com / @lissiemusic
16th March 2013
If popular and widely accessible genealogical references are to be believed, the Hanvey name originates from one of the chief clans of Ulidia, or County Down as it is now known. O’Hanvey was chief of Hy-Eachach Coba, a territory to the west of the county, from the 12th to the 17th century, with countless descendants having remained residents of this particular corner of the northern Irish coast over the subsequent years. As a fellow O’Hanvey descendant and after developing a particular fondness for the romantic morality tale that is Cruise and Kidman’s finest; Far and Away, I took it upon myself several years ago to uncover (some may argue, invent) a Hanvey family history befitting a chief of his time. This history included vast acres of land which were divvied out amongst the farming locals, such was our protagonist’s level of morality and sense of justice. Weekly ceili dances would be held in the chief’s honour, where local bands would play traditional music on traditional Irish instruments; bands just like Kilvine, the Irish traditional ensemble who took centre stage at a St Patrick’s Day Ceilidh at St George’s Hall, Liverpool this week.
Amongst the grand and opulent surroundings of the Great Hall, my mind was at once transported to similar social gatherings that O’Hanvey might have hosted, though surely none being held in quite as auspicious splendour as this. A ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) or ceili to use the Irish spelling of the word, is a traditional Gaelic folk gathering, which involves playing Gaelic folk music and performing traditional dances. A caller calls out the movements to each dance and ensures that everyone is able to participate. Kilvine are a six-piece band, hailing from Liverpool, who play a variety of traditional Irish instruments including the flute, accordion, banjo and box. The lead female singer also acted as caller and all-round dance teacher for the evening, whilst her bandmates performed a rousing set of a mixture of traditional Irish folk songs and instrumental numbers. Songs included a particular Hanvey favourite, ‘The Fields of Athenry’, as well as the old classics such as ‘Wild Rover’. The youngest member of the ensemble, a girl named Bridget, had perfect vocals for the genre; haunting, delicate and full of innocence. The traditional dances we performed included the Walls of Limerick, the Siege of Ennis and the Snowball, as well as a number of traditional waltzes.
We met a couple at our table who had travelled from Wrexham, North Wales, but actually had family connections to our home town of Widnes. The Irish have a renowned quality of welcoming strangers and of making them feel like family and friends; a nice touch then that we should make such a connection under St Patrick’s spiritual guidance. An impressive and stirring performance from the Bolger Cunningham Irish Dancing School followed; a troupe of dancers who train at the St Michael’s Irish Centre in Liverpool. The girls were polished and on point, a real tribute to their vocation.
At the evening’s end, I could so easily have spent a night in a pub in Killarney, my own particular favourite corner of the world (County Kerry, to be precise). As long as there is music and family, you could call anywhere home and tonight St George and St Patrick came together to make us feel just that.
Andrew Wyatt, one third of indie-electronic creatives Miike Snow, releases his debut solo album, ‘Descender’ on April 16th, 2013. If the album is even half as good as Miike Snow‘s previous two albums (‘Miike Snow’ (2009) and ‘Happy to You’ (2012) ), then fans can expect something extra special.
This week saw the world premiere of a documentary directed by Sebastian Mlynarski and released in collaboration with The Creators Project, which provides a compelling behind-the-scenes look into Wyatt’s creative process of making the album. The documentary focuses in part on the writing of ‘And Septimus…’, which will be the first single taken from the record. As the lead singer in Miike Snow, Wyatt has always been very much the focal point of the band’s image and overall vibe, but from the outset it was clear that his visionary capacity and transformational frontmanship could never be fully contained.
I am so excited for this album!
‘Descender’ is available to pre-order on iTunes now (
) and receive the first single ‘And Septimus…’
‘Descender’ is released on April 16th, 2013.