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.

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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”

“If somebody likes it, there must be a reason” – An interview with Off Bloom

The Anglo-Danish electropop trio talk Morricone, Mohawke, and playing rugby with tasers

Originally published in The Edge

For Off Bloom, the invitation from producer friend Two Inch Punch – who you might know from his work on chart-topping records from Years & Years, Rag’n’Bone Man, and Sam Smith, in addition to the trio’s ferocious February release ‘Falcon Eye’ – to up sticks and head from their longtime base in Copenhagen to join him in his London studio couldn’t have come at a better time. Or, in other words, “Let’s fucking move over here. We’re here all the time anyway.”

Following late 2016’s debut offering of the Love To Hate It EP, the band has toured the UK and beyond in support of Dua Lipa and Polydor labelmates LANY, whilst their summer is turning into a whistlestop tour of electrifying festivals from Brighton to Leeds and everywhere in between. The highlight? Glastonbury, of course, says singer Mette Mortensen. “It was on a stage that was super weird – they had arranged it so it was kind of tables and chairs all the way around, so people were having lunch. When we went on we were like, ‘OK, what is this gonna be?’ But then I jumped out in the audience and then people came in and it ended up being super cool.” Continue reading ““If somebody likes it, there must be a reason” – An interview with Off Bloom”

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’”

Live review: Tom Misch at Somerset House, London

Misch layers his delicate grooves and the immaculate results of swift beatmaking with a stellar cast of those who helped bring his sound to this stage in the first place.

Originally published in The Edge

If you’re looking to play a show for a few thousand people, London isn’t exactly short on suitable venues – especially on the same weekend that a major festival is under way just a zone away – but none quite compare to the splendour of Somerset House, which has served as another option for around 3,000 since first switching off its fountain to open its once palatial and still resplendent quadrangle to live music in 2001. Like a tasteful boutique version of what is now traditional across town in Hyde Park – think compelling architecture rather than screen-flanking fake trees; simple bars rather than high street staples awkwardly trying not to look like standard food vans – the collection of artists beckoned to headline for a fortnight is as illustrious as it is diverse, this year reaching via Foster The People and Goldfrapp from Norah Jones to Songhoy Blues.

Having turned 22 less than a month before and playing his largest show to date, hometown producer Tom Misch could easily have faltered at the scale of it all, but then again last February he supported Loyle Carner at the 700-capacity Village Underground before headlining the same venue nine months later on a 17-stop tour of the US and Europe. Here, he rose to the occasion with his friends and family in tow for a show as mesmerising as his half-decade portfolio of SoundCloud beats. Continue reading “Live review: Tom Misch at Somerset House, London”

Album review: Mura Masa – Mura Masa

Uniting the sides with an electronic sheen, the Guernsey-born producer strikes an improbable balance between high-octane party nous and heartwrenching displays of soul.

Originally published in The Edge

Two years on from his impeccable breakout Someday Somewhere EP, much has changed for young Alex Crossan. Although his studio is still a speakerless laptop in his bedroom, his CV boasts a reputation as one of the most versatile electronic artists around, a healthy festival pedigree that’s seen him quietly shimmer through performances at Coachella and Glastonbury (and even his local Wild Life), a pair of self-hosted shows on Beats 1 that have acted as a showcase for his Anchor Point imprint, and an enviable phonebook that reaches from A$AP Rocky to Damon Albarn.

On Mura Masa, his first major label full-length, so prominent are these pals that the names of the 10 who feature adorn its cover alongside an image of Crossan at a 30° tilt whilst looking rather glum. Such an image isn’t necessarily most illustrative of what’s inside: 45 minutes of gleeful hedonism on the theme of love brought to life with his crisp, harp-soaked glue. Its production is dense and effervescent right from opener ‘Messy Love’ – one of only two truly solo ventures alongside the minute-long acoustic prairie interlude ‘give me The ground’ – which establishes the impulsive and passionate tone lyrically (“Take me, break me / Use me for your messy love,” he yearns through a liberal slathering of Auto-Tune) and atmospherically. Continue reading “Album review: Mura Masa – Mura Masa”

Live review: alt-J at The O2 Arena, London

Triangles most certainly are my favourite shape after an evening of impressive renditions and mesmerising lights, even if alt-J did miss a trick or two in playing up to the arena’s scale.

Originally published in The Edge

To mark the 10th anniversary of London’s foremost tent opening its doors to become the world’s busiest music arena, the week-long party they planned featured a suitably dazzling set of names. Having spent the last six years on the way to her 1,000th show in Las Vegas’ Caesars Palace, Céline Dion popped in for two nights in her first dates at the arena (and country) since 2008. To cap an astonishing six months in which he’s single-handedly made a mockery of charts in the streaming age on an almost weekly basis, Ed Sheeran used his third show of the year at the arena to warm up for his closing set at Glastonbury. Though their brace were ultimately postponed until December following Jay Kay undergoing an operation on his back, the final nights were sure to have featured the most extravagant headgear in Jamiroquai’s 15 years of electric funk.

Tasked with opening it all was alt-J, performing for the second time at the arena after opening 2015’s European leg of the This Is All Yours tour with Wolf Alice and Gengahr for company. The show also doubled up as an opportunity to dust off any cobwebs that might have gathered since they last headlined on home soil – not unlike Sheeran, their major Glastonbury slot must have been in mind – but if such a thing were the case then they did a very splendid job of hiding it. A brace from the two-week old RELAXER – opening number ‘3WW’ came drenched fittingly in a smoky, monochromatic haze, meanwhile ‘Deadcrush’ was an opportunity for the centre-stage Joe Newman to demonstrate an exquisite take on rockstar vocal swagger in front of a wall of lightning – sandwiched a trio from An Awesome Wave, which – upon the addition of ‘Intro’ to 2015’s setlist – was just one track and two interludes away from being played in full perhaps better than ever, with the capacity crowd in rich voice even for its more obscure moments. Continue reading “Live review: alt-J at The O2 Arena, London”