Live review: Khalid at Eventim Apollo, London

R&B’s newest superstar remains unfinished both on stage and on record, but a Valentine’s crowd is certainly not bothered.

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Originally published in The Edge

374 days ago, the idea of Khalid filling out Hammersmith’s prestigious Eventim Apollo – let alone doing so twice with ease at rather lofty prices – would have seemed more than a little far fetched. He was making his London debut seven physical miles and a million conceptual ones away at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, a venue typically reserved for the newest of newcomers and perhaps best known at the time for over-the-bar barbecue courtesy of Michigan techno oddball Seth Troxler. Courtesy of still being a week away, debut album American Teen hadn’t yet accrued any of its multiple billion streams. In fact, when The Edge took a punt on him to feature as one of our picks for 2017 the month before, it was only after a haphazard combination of play counts that we arrived at a figure of 30 million streams for ‘Location’ to make our selection seem that little bit more statistically sound. Here, it would be remiss of us not to attempt something similar: per Wikipedia, the Khalid of today has 46 platinum certifications around the globe. Continue reading “Live review: Khalid at Eventim Apollo, London”

Album review: Lorde – Melodrama

Our Lorde is 2017’s saviour

Originally published for The Edge’s album of the year countdown

Having gone from winning an Auckland school talent show and covering Pixie Lott in a radio session to selling 10 million copies of her debut single and being anointed by David Bowie as “the future of music” before she’d even had a moment spare to turn 17, it may come as no surprise that Ella Yelich-O’Connor opted to retreat towards normalcy as the Pure Heroine days wound down. Of course, sailing was not entirely plain: between incessant partying, herding idols like Kanye West and The Chemical Brothers for her Hunger Games soundtrack, taking helicopter rides into the wilderness to work on follow-up material, and covertly reviewing onion rings on Instagram came a painful breakup and a biting pop landscape eager to absorb her “incorrect” stylings.

Melodrama, the resulting Lorde record, comes rooted in that hedonistic habitat whilst trading the sprawling naïveté of (relative) youth for an affecting glare at heartbreak. A far cry from the days of ‘Tennis Court’ (“It’s a new artform showing people how little we care”), it is a remarkably bare concoction that pairs unorthodox pop competence with conscious overwrought feeling. Detail is superfluous to requirements, save for exposed piano ballad ‘Liability’ indulging in fame’s unceremonious responsibility for the theme (“The truth is I am a toy that people enjoy / ‘Til all of the tricks don’t work anymore / And then they are bored of me”), whilst the meeting of bitterness and a euphoric yearning for escape that is impeccable lead single and album opener ‘Green Light’ serves as a mostly upbeat red herring. Continue reading “Album review: Lorde – Melodrama”

Live review: Jerry Williams at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

The south coast’s brightest star plays a tremendous hometown sellout.

There may still be the odd occasion where some listings site confuses Portsmouth’s Jerry Williams with the Swedish rocker of the same name 54 years her senior, but selling out a second headline in just seven months at her hometown’s most prestigious venue shows the south coast has cottoned on to her narrative-laced indie pop glories. Spending the summer with 2016 EP cut ‘I’m Not In Love With You’ featured across BBC Radio 1 to precede barnstorming braces of sets at V and The Great Escape will certainly have done no harm whatsoever, and perhaps as a result her full band setup now feels more refined and primed for the big time than ever before.

Amidst enthusiastic singalongs for deceptively vibrant staples ‘Mother’ and ‘Boy Oh Boy,’ Williams zipped with remarkable efficiency through a setlist predominantly comprising unreleased tracks that will inevitably form the basis of 2018’s full-length bow. Her apparent allergy to songs that clock in above three minutes ensures this, with time for everything from solo acoustic therapy for a father-to-be (‘David At The Bar’) to a Pollyanna-like take on the perks of mortality (new single ‘Grab Life’) and a chatter-suspending storm of a Jamie T cover to be delivered with infectious precision.

Live review: Dua Lipa at O2 Academy, Bournemouth

In the beginning, God created Heaven and Earth. For what it’s worth, I think that He might’ve created Dua Lipa’s live set first.

Originally published in The Edge

To anyone who had encountered her work in the 18 protracted months between amorous entrance ‘New Love’ and the release of her debut album, it wasn’t particularly hard to fathom Dua Lipa as a bonafide pop superstar just simmering gently before something truly massive. Eventually, it was the seventh single properly pushed from the record that proved to be said something – over the summer, the defiant breakup recovery jam ‘New Rules’ turned her from a perennial hope to one of the top ten most-streamed artists on the planet.

Thus, in the grand scheme of what is now almost certain to come, her autumn schedule feels like a bizarrely quaint juncture. Less than a week on from trying on arena life for size with Bruno Mars in North America, The Self-Titled Tour – which will now stretch to venues like Alexandra Palace and Birmingham’s Genting Arena in the spring after some exotic stadium dates in Coldplay’s company – kicked off earlier this month, including a chilly Friday night in an art deco Bournemouth hall nestled amongst a gaggle of fast food outlets. Continue reading “Live review: Dua Lipa at O2 Academy, Bournemouth”

Live review: Craig David at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

It may not have been quite the homecoming spectacle originally intended, but David’s slicker than your average display of many talents proved fodder for a delightful if unconventional Mayflower evening.

Originally published in The Edge

Thanks to a rapid transition from years of accumulating obscurity to selling out a nationwide arena tour, bagging a BRIT nomination and topping the album chart for the first time since his 2000 debut with last autumn’s Following My Intuition, the past two years have been nothing short of extraordinary for Southampton-bred Craig DavidExtending the tour to a day at the Ageas Bowl – a cricket stadium capable of hosting upwards of 20,000 for events like this – seemed like a rather logical way to bring everything back to square one in a suitably exciting fashion. Speaking at its announcement in February, he waxed passionately about the “iconic” location, which has previously lined up performances from Oasis, Luciano Pavarotti, Rod Stewart, and, most recently, Little Mix.

Yet three months after tickets went on sale, everything was quietly canned, citing concerns following the 17 indoor dates that the show “would not work outdoors,” even though he’d been booked for plenty of other shows in forests and festivals up and down the land. Those who had taken the plunge for a Friday in the sun were instead scattered between four replacement nights at the Mayflower – a venue a tenth of the size that is more accustomed to live music in the shape of Joe McElderry and Jools Holland than anyone who packed out both of London’s concert arenas mere months ago – and, perhaps inevitably, a fair scattering of empty £42.50 seats remained as David entered the theatre for the very first time, despite spending his formative years barely a kilometre away on Orchard Lane. Continue reading “Live review: Craig David at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton”

Film review: The Emoji Movie

Exactly as bad as you’d think it is (except actually far worse), The Emoji Movie is at best a painfully unfunny product placement vehicle with an incoherent premise and thoroughly loathsome characters.

Originally published in The Edge

If you’ve ever looked at a smartphone and felt an inexorable urge to watch an anthropomorphic meh face voiced patronisingly by Silicon Valley’s T. J. Miller, yearning to follow his agonisingly boring parents into life in a Celebrity Squares box ready to be scanned into action whenever selected by the user, blighted with the ability to express other emotions through a condition discovered inside Instagram to be hereditary – joins a hand-shaped James Corden (being the kind of James Corden that bumbles with faux enthusiasm to make The Late Late Show intolerable) and an exiled princess (Anna Faris, whose script is littered with bogus jargon to make the charade seem somewhat plausible) who has somehow set up a new life in a neighbouring “hacking app” that resembles The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’s Thug Tug in a tedious dawdle out of Textopolis towards self-acceptance that stops off at several product placement segments, featuring Christina Aguilera as a Just Dance instructor and Candy Crush thinking he was one of its sweets, before climaxing with the phone’s teenage owner booking a next-day Genius Bar appointment and ignoring incessant irritation from the device just because mid-restore it spontaneously displayed an expressive yellow blob to send to the girl he liked enough to pay tribute to with his Dropbox password (as the hand had predicted having plucked a discarded email draft of Rihanna lyrics from the bin after tastelessly reworking a slavery-era spiritual to fit its own plight), you probably don’t deserve the medium of film. But here we are. Continue reading “Film review: The Emoji Movie”

Single review: Charli XCX – ‘Boys’

“I’m sorry that I missed the extract / I wish I had a better excuse like I was being properly creative / But I was busy thinking ’bout this song”

Originally published in The Edge

Since Charli XCX last put out a proper single – October’s frankly tedious ‘After The Afterparty,’ which somewhat legitimised luminous teen king Lil Yachty as a mainstream “thing” with its light, puerile production and lyrical hedonism somehow making its way into the top 40 for five weeks – she’s had a rather stunning little run of appearances. Alongside Japanese pair Yasutaka Nakata and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, ‘Crazy Crazy’ set a high bar for pop choruses just two weeks into 2017. After complaining of the arduous nature of releasing a free mixtape as a major label popstar in this modern age, the £4.99 Number 1 Angel more thoroughly realised the jagged vision of 2016’s Vroom Vroom EP with guest turns from Raye and atop half a dozen A. G. Cook-helmed gems. Within a week of that came her role on Mura Masa‘s ‘1 Night,’ which has thus far proved to be one of the tracks from one of the albums of the year. Most recently, teaming up with a then-17-year-old Chicago producer named Whethan on ‘Love Gang’ paired a slick blob of guitar with unashamedly soppy lyrics which delivered accordingly. Continue reading “Single review: Charli XCX – ‘Boys’”