It seems these days that it is the ‘in thing’ to hate The 1975. Before NME were splashing their photos on their front cover, they named them the Worst Band of 2014, with indie Twitter seemingly awash with berating of the band and their material. Be that due to their outspoken frontman Matt Healy, their ever-so-slightly irritating // M A R K E T I N G C A M P A I G N S // or simply that you don’t like their music, there is one thing you have to give them credit for: they are an extremely talented live band. Having formed over 14 years ago in Manchester, it is clear from witnessing them play ‘the biggest show of [our] lives’ at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena that they have truly honed their craft.
Back in February 2014, Yannis Philippakis attempted his usual jump from the balcony at Birmingham’s O2 Academy during Foals‘ headline tour, only to be restrained by security. Flash forward two years later, and he finally achieved his stage-jumping dream in Birmingham, only this time in a much large setting: the Barclaycard Arena.
It’s been a busy year for Saint Raymond (real name Callum Burrows). Releasing his debut album Young Blood, playing a ton of festival shows and ending 2015 with his largest headline tour to date, it’s been nothing short of a success. This was his second time playing the Institute this year, on this occasion playing the main room. The size of the crowd waiting for him to arrive on stage was an illustration of just how vast his fanbase is becoming, rapidly so.
Rounding off his tenth year as a solo artist with a sold-out UK tour, Frank Turner shows no signs of slowing down. Playing to a packed out crowd at Birmingham’s O2 Academy, the excitement buzzing around the room was impossible to ignore (as were the masses of previous tour tees).
With the release of their second album Moth Boys, it is becoming impossible to pigeonhole Spector into a specific musical genre. Not just your average ‘indie pop’ band, their second LP is particularly influenced by the ‘80s. Speaking to frontman Fred Macpherson ahead of their gig at the Institute’s Temple, he spoke of how during the recording process “[the band] were all listening to different music… ‘80s pop bands and stuff… but also really emotional, modern stuff like Drake, anyone who gets overly emotional in their lyrics.” It seems that despite being a band that, as a collective, listen to very different music, this has helped rather than hindered their musical direction following on from debut Enjoy It While It Lasts. “I guess there’s stuff that we listened to growing up like Depeche Mode that’s in there but we wouldn’t all sit down and listen to it together now, I think it’s just in the blood of our music.”
Descending on a last-minute announced date at Birmingham’s Institute, Liverpool-based band The Wombats were welcomed back with open arms as part of their Glitterbug UK tour last month. The venue was packed to the rafters, the alcohol flowing and the screams at deafening levels as the lights went down to welcome the trio on stage.
Currently in the running for most humble band of the year award is most definitely JAWS. The Brummie band took over The Rainbow on Sunday night, giving 200 lucky fans a free ticket to see them in action, frontman Connor Schofield thanking the crowd profusely throughout the show for turning up. Speaking to the band after the show, they explained they wanted to do something for their fans and “pay them back” before festival season begins, and they did not disappoint. The small venue, where they played their first ever show as a band, seemed like a second home to them and it was packed to the rafters.
It is only fitting that local band Superfood played a homecoming show at Birmingham’s Rainbow Warehouse. The place is a small but homely and beloved venue to many underground and unsigned bands, B-Town pals Peace and Swim Deep having previously played there. The four-piece were playing their first of only two headline shows (the other being at London’s Heaven), with the likes of fellow Brummie band JAWS in and amongst the crowd.