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”

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”

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”

“We’re the antithesis of Nashville” – An interview with LANY

The ‘ILYSB’ trio spills the beans about their debut album, building a fanbase, and what makes London feel like home.

In the space of just one year, American electropop trio LANY has gone from playing a loft above a Camden bar on a night off from support shows to filling venues ten times the size up and down the land and across the world. With fans already assembled outside and around KOKO in the middle of the afternoon, Surge joined Paul Klein, Jake Goss, and Les Priest up in the rafters to find out all about their plans to make 2017 (and 2018) ((and probably every subsequent year)) the year of LANY.

Continue reading ““We’re the antithesis of Nashville” – An interview with LANY”

Festival review: Saturday at Lovebox 2016

We bear witness to an exclusive London return from LCD Soundsystem.

Originally published in The Edge

Even after two of the finest hours of my life standing in Victoria Park listening to 14 of their choicest cuts, it’s impossible to tell which component of LCD Soundsystem I adore the most. Perhaps it’s the vigour with which James Murphy and co. merrily strike cowbells throughout their sets. Perhaps it’s the sheer number of folks ambling around the stage’s setup of baffling synth equipment having mid-track conversations, sipping glasses of wine, and, at Lollapalooza, whirling out power tools for on-the-go repairs. Perhaps it’s the way they seamlessly incorporate ‘Someone Great,’ a harrowing tribute to a deceased therapist, directly between ‘Yeah,’ a frighteningly intense display of positive affirmation, and ‘Losing My Edge,’ their 2002 bow of spoken middle-aged rambles on the bastard youth (“I’m losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered Eighties”). Perhaps it’s that their farewell five years ago seemed so utterly definitive with its guest spots from Arcade Fire and Reggie Watts and its subsequent DVD (Shut Up And Play The Hits: The Very Loud Ending Of LCD Soundsystem) and rush to the heart of the sun at a time when nothing of the band appeared to be deteriorating that made the very suggestion that I would ever experience it live so absurd and overwhelming.

“We are retiring from the game,” they said. “Gettin’ out. Movin’ on.” Continue reading “Festival review: Saturday at Lovebox 2016”

Live review: Coldplay at Wembley Stadium, London

Taking in the first of the band’s four sold-out nights at the home of football.

Originally published in The Edge

For what would certainly be the pinnacle of my career as an interviewer and the nadir of his as an interviewee, I hope one day to sit down with Chris Martin. Over afternoon tea in a swanky London hotel, we’d talk about how the whole Coldplay thing would have panned out had they never consciously uncoupled from the name Pectoralz when Guy Berryman came along. I’d be armed with the most pertinent queries from their ardent fanbase, such as what the hell Mylo Xyloto actually means, how one should best attempt to pronounce it, and why the 42-second title track that opened the album of the same name wasn’t just properly bundled into the start of ‘Hurts Like Heaven.’ If the venue didn’t have a strict policy against such a thing and the inevitable PR folks in the corner weren’t glaring at me too furiously, I’d present him with a goose to see whether his natural reaction would be to say a gentle boo with a smile or to crouch to its height, leap across it to the nearest pastel-tinted piano, and begin a tender falsetto. Why bother with this palaver? Well, after 16 years of being Coldplay for Martin and his silent accompanists Berryman, Jonny Buckland, and Will Champion, surely the time has come for a little fun. Continue reading “Live review: Coldplay at Wembley Stadium, London”

Live review: RÜFÜS at Heaven, London

The Australian dance trio brought carefree summer sounds to their first sold-out London crowd.

Originally published in The Edge

For the first night of RÜFÜS’ sold-out stint at Westminster’s Heaven, the best spot in the house belonged to no human. Above the revellers, who clambered onto each others’ shoulders and bobbed incandescently through every repeating second, sat a sole beach ball, a symbol of the Sydney trio’s most fitting climate and their audience’s geographical cravings. Through selections from homeland chart-toppers Atlas and January’s Bloom, cemented by choruses striving for yet somehow eluding irksomeness by repetition, blinding lights and lyrical idylls brought an essence of their Instagram feed to an arched cavern hidden beneath London’s alleged spring. Continue reading “Live review: RÜFÜS at Heaven, London”