Gaffa Tape Sandy + support @ Norwich Arts Centre 10th August 2018

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Kulk – no compromise, uncontrolled angular energy

No messing, straight on, no chat, plug in and play. Very punk, you like us or you don’t….

You don’t go to see Kulk you experience Kulk. A visceral onslaught of noise and movement, all uncontrolled angular jerky energy laid out there for you to absorb or reject. Thoms wall of guitar sound propelled by Jade’s pounding attacking rhythmic drumming produces something so raw and fresh, they are a highlight of any evening.

The Norwich Arts Centre gave a rare opportunity to see the band on a larger stage than normal. One where Thom was able to give full reign to the inner demon and occupy the whole stage and at times the uncontrolled airspace above it. In smaller clubs and pubs the experience is similar to seeing a tiger in a cage, restrained and contained; unable to fully express the essence of their being.

This is raw energy that needs to be experienced more than once and I look forward to seeing them more often, on bigger platforms, further up the bill.

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Marigolds – sounds of summer

Local band Marigolds presented up their dreamy indie guitar sounds of summer, playing crowd favourites Surf Girl and their 2018 release, Slept Out. Their fresh sound and uplifting vocals a marked contrast to openers Kulk. Apart from some tuning difficulties they delivered a promising set of fresh introspective tales on young modern life, climaxing with their new drummer leaping out of his seat and end the set with a crescendo of smashing cymbals, leaving everyone nicely set up for headliners Gaffer Tape Sandy.

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Gaffa Tape Sandy – Pure thunder

It is hard to believe that a) GTS were nervous ahead of this gig and b) for a well-travelled band this was their first foray to Norwich as the headline band.

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Nerves aside, they launched into their set with energy and verve, guitarist Kim cavorting around the stage, rolling, twisting, stretching and lunging his way through the numbers. Alternately swapping vocal lead with bassist Catherine, this energetic trio served up a menu of memorable tunes from their new single Meathead, the oh so heavy Transylvania, Manager and Collarbones from 2017 EP Spring Killing, to a new work in progress currently titled So Dry. This was a top-level performance with their experience of playing to larger audiences on big occasions evident in their presence and delivery of each song. These are utterly infectious, laden with beautiful melodies surrounded with guitar smashing thrashing riffs and pounding drum passages that you just don’t want to end.

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Audience participation is always high at a GTS gig, and this was no exception with the mosh pit in full swing. For the loyal fans who travelled up from Suffolk to see them the loudest roars were saved for the anthemic Beehive and after much deliberation and teasing GTS launched into what is their signature tune to close out a perfect evening.

To paraphrase NME, this was 60 minutes of pure thunder and they just may have won some new fans up Norwich way.

A final mention goes out to the Norwich Arts Centre techies who put on an imaginative light show adding to the spectacle for each and every band not just the headliner; a good sound mix and they kept the smoke machine to a minimum, just enough for atmosphere (and the occasional drummer disappearance).

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Just Push Play 4 Charity Event with The Bad Flowers at The Apex Bury St.Edmunds

Four years ago Lee Graham, event organiser and general all-round good bloke found a way to give back to a cause dear to his heart and founded the Just Push Play event to raise funds for the St.Nicholas Hospice following the loss of his father 4 years previously. Now after three years the event had outgrown its original home The Constitutional Club and moved across the road to The Apex.

A bill featuring a diverse mix of musical genres and styles was put together, selected from the rich vein of local bands and some heavy hitters from beyond the Suffolk border.

Sadly Circadian had to pull out at the last minute due to their drummer injuring his hand, so with a quick re-shuffle and a later start time six bands took to the stage.

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Opening act Mouse Drawn Cart an acoustic quartet fronted by local musical iconoclast Dave Jago, started the event off juxtaposing the gentle acoustic and caressing sounds of guitar, violin, keyboard and percussion with poignant lyrics tinged with sadness and loss. Halfway through the set Dave solo’d offering up a first public performance of “The Day You Stopped” dedicated to a close friend who had recently passed away. This was countered with the comically titled song “don’t get scared of aging, this is what happens when you don’t die” an ode to benefits and experiences of a long life. This unique performer closed his set out with a Guns and Rose cover continuing the dark theme established with the dedication of a song to Charles Manson,  with a rendition of “I used to love her (but I had to kill her)”

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A complete change of pace and an injection of levity was provided by the self-titled “best rockabilly band around” The Fretz who had people up dancing and rocking. Running through the Rockabilly songbook the Stray Cats were to be expected, sharply contrasting with two classic and rocking covers of Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” and the Rolling Stones “The Last Time”, some Johnny Cash, another perennial favourite Stray Cats “ Runaway Boy”. Lots of slap bass, driving snare drum rhythm, finger clicking strumming guitars and shrieking solos made for an exciting set from this experienced 4 piece.

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Up next was Ipswich band In My Disguise, who it transpired played their first gig at the 2nd Just Push Play event two years ago. Two years on and this 4-piece heavy rock band played a full set of their own compositions. Covering the stage with sheer energy, this was a stand out performance and they would have easily slotted into the previous night’s Renegade Twelve gig at the same venue and acquitted themselves well.

“Hour Glass” with its chugging guitar and bass coupled with intelligent melodic vocals is the template of their sound, but lighter songs such as “Fear” and the tender closing song “Clarity” from the EP “Alone With You” show this band have a deft lyrical touch and a wide sound pallet. This is a band with a future.

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Continuing the theme of contrast and juxtaposition, Sudbury duo Amethysts brought their harmonic synth pop to the show, bringing the aural and visual tempo back down after the frenetic energy of In My Disguise.

Looped and layered sounds, overlaid with subtle reverberating lead guitar floating over punctuated synth drum beats, draped with vocal harmonies of such beauty, was a transformative experience and an inspired choice to give them this slot on the bill.

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Acknowledging their influences amongst their original compositions, they performed Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”. At times harmonising or singing as one with Clarice, Simons voice floats in an out lending a deeper warmth and roundness to the overall sound. At the beginning of the last number “Belong” the sound was reminiscent of Clannad’s Moya Brennan, such was the smoothness and sonority of the vocals balanced in the musical soundscape.

Amethysts are having a successful year, headlining gigs, playing festivals and based on this performance have a great future ahead of them.

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Getting to the pointy end of the evening, another change in pace with the onslaught of another Ipswich band Druids, with their brand of surreal Heavy Rock laced with a healthy dose of Glam.

Currently performing as a duo of Bass and Drums and based on this performance a lead guitar was not missed or needed. Heavy, gloriously distorted thunderous bass riffs at times played at a frenetic tempo, driven by Joel’s equally consummate drumming accompanied by the surreal imagery evoked by the lyrics define this band as unique and unmissable.

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An engaging performer, wit and humourist, Jay’s appearance, movement and performance is unpredictable and larger than life, much like the music that in turn can be heavy fuzz rock on numbers such as “Mission”, glam funky on “Stuart Slater Alligator” or 1980’s electro pop infused “ Time”. Like the subject of their material this band is not of this planet, catch them before they leave for Mars.

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The Bad Flowers

As Lee tells it, The Bad Flowers were signed up early to the idea of the Just Push Play event, fully committed to the endeavour and this showed throughout their 90 minute set. This was very much old school heavy blues rock with the essential ingredients of a Les Paul, a Fender Bass and a few big drums, oh and a Flying -V for good measure. Any band that can drop in Black Sabbaths “War pigs” seamlessly into one of their own numbers and when you shut your eyes its is Black Sabbath in the room playing before you, are to be respected.

From the Black country, their sound is influenced by the regions legends but at times is funky and definitely no pastiche. Tom Leightons vocal delivery, guitar tone and playing have a unique clarity that lends their sound a fresh quality. Dale Tonks thundering tuneful bass is always present, filling in the gaps, driving the music forward but the occasional funky fill shows there is more behind the thunder. Karl Selickis’s powerful but sensitive drumming providing the relentless underpinning for the lead and bass to an accompaniment of shimmering cymbals. The perfect ending to a perfect and varied line-up. Roll on Just Push Play 5.

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All proceeds from the event were in aid of St. Nicholas Hospice, and while the move to the Apex has been the next step in this events journey, seeing an increase in ticket sales, the organisers job for Just Push Play No.5 is to take it to the next level and spread the word even further. Considering what has been achieved already by a very small team, I have no doubt this event will become a regular fixture on the calendar and a testament to Lee Grahams commitment to a cause close to his heart, a feat gratefully acknowledged on the night by the hospice’s community fund raiser George Chilvers.

 

Renegade Twelve + support at the Apex, Bury St.Edmunds 4th August 2018

Four of Suffolk’s finest metal bands assembled to deliver an evening of high quality music to a packed house.

For Renegade Twelve, the event promised to be the highlight of a UK tour that has seen the band perform their self-titled album and for this evening the event was recorded live, to be released across social media early 2019, no doubt accompanied by the video, as they were shadowed the whole event by a videographer and photographer. It promises to be an exciting release.

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Heathen

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Honourable mention goes to Heathen, having the unenviable job of playing the opening set to a relatively small number of people. By the end of their set, which featured tracks from their EP ‘Bite the Bullet’ as well as two yet to be released songs, they had drawn the crowd in with a committed and polished performance.

 

Manic Blackout

 

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Energy levels ramped up as they took the stage to perform a set of six new original compositions, opening with “No Ones Hero” and closing out with “Faded to the Light”. Using every inch of the stage they played with heart and soul and delivered a heavy sonic contrast to Heathen, setting the tone for the remainder of the evening.

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“can you guess what it is yet?” as the bassist played the opening notes of Avenged Sevenfold’s “Nightmare”. Their set getting heavier as it progressed. A very tight band playing covers of classic Alter Bridge, Linkin Park, System of a Down, climaxing with a glorious rendition of Slipnot’s Duality, with the crowd screaming along to the chorus. They left the stage with the crowd wanting more, having done their job to ramp up the atmosphere for the headliners to take over. Enter Renegade Twelve…..

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Playing to a sold-out crowd, they ripped through their repertoire, playing with the confidence and joy of a seasoned professional band, but importantly a band that still enjoys playing together. Sam’s melodic voicing has clarity, emotion and sheer power and at no time is lost in the mix.

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The dual lead guitar line up has been an effective set-up for countless metal bands and with R12 they complement each other well, lending power, subtlety and unlimited driving attack in “This Town”. Backed by a solid and powerful rhythm section of Josh on bass and Joe’s drumming demonstrated on songs such as Bipolar and Vanity.

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Fully engaged with an enthusiastic audience, the band appear to have no visible ego and communicate their joy to the audience who followed their every move throughout. This was a performance not to be missed and rounded off an evening of top draw performances from all of the acts. R12 will have no problem transferring to bigger venues and are definitely ones to watch in the coming year.

 

FESTIVAL REVIEW: Camden Rocks 2018 Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our Camden Rocks review, as we previously mentioned in Part 1 (Which you can view here) due to the sheer size of the festival it would of been impossible to review it all, so we hand picked a select few bands we definitely wanted to check out  and we hope you enjoy our coverage from the day!

 

 

Eliza and the Bear

These guys put on a show for the moderately filled Koko as the London four-piece  hit the stage and straight away for me it shows they just love what they’re doing. I was very impressed with Eliza and The Bear, the interaction with the crowd was flawless and their music was executed to the highest degree with the perfect balance of being youthful, melodic all accompanied by fantastically catchy lyrics! One of our personal highlights was when they did an experimental riff of Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ which is always awesome.

 

Rews

Next up was a long walk to the Fest for one of the big draws of the day for me in Rews, after they impressed with their new album, I was eager to see them perform their new material as the two-piece brought their lively set to the stage. The girls didn’t waste time to take a moment to thank the crowd for coming and the festival itself for having so many bands with women in them. Shauna Tohill (guitar and vocals) and Collette Williams have a fantastic chemistry, with Shauna making full use of the stage when she’s not singing, dancing and battering her guitar away as the packed out the room gave them a warm reception with plenty of fans taking videos and dancing away to the bluesy tones with an alternative rock vibe and the songs from Pyro translate extremely well to the live environment.

 

InMe

It was time to take on the long and narrow venue of The Underworld as 2000’s nostaglia hit me when InMe took centre stage demanding your attention from the off as the four-piece put on a cracking set for the crowd. From the off the band was visibly enjoying it as they were dripping with sweat early on, expressing their passion for their work. The songs were solid, the vocals were spot on and no matter the size of the stage the four piece used all of it to their advantage as they played a mix of new material and old classics.

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The Scots gave a performance that is truly electric and entertaining at the KOKO as the quartet were exuding with enthusiasm to give the crowd a show to never forget. Craig Kneale’s drumming overpowered the rough vocals of Lead singer Sam McTursty with almost every song. The Glaswegians were able to perform both hard rock and acoustic-style tracks well in the packed out venue as fans attempted to crowd surf and sing at the top of their lungs in what was a storming, high-energy set with highlights being their song ‘Ex El’  with its varying rhythms and verse progressions, while keeping the hit ‘Heart and Soul’ for the finale to what was a fantastic ovation from everyone that witnessed the tremendous set.

Check out when we caught Twin Atlantic perform their headline show in Norwich

LIVE REVIEW – Frank Turner + Arkells + The Homeless Gospel Choir at The UEA

Protest songs and punk rock rung through the LCR as Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls brought the the Be More Kind world tour to Norwich for it’s final show on the 17 date run all around the UK. There are just not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe how good, from start to finish, this show was.

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The Homeless Gospel Choir

Kicking things off was The Homeless Gospel Choir, or Derek from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as he so regularly reminded everyone in the crowd. From the outset he captured the crowd with his quick wit and outrageous songs such as his opening song ‘With God on Our Side’ that has lyrics like ‘With God on our side, We can do whatever we want’ which as the song went on the lyrics became more serious containing themes such as slavery and homophobia.

Derek from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania managed to sing about serious themes and raise awareness but all along maintaining a light hearted demeanour that made each song more accessible yet thought provoking. He kept true to his beliefs whilst mentioning issues that are happening in America, sharing his thoughts on a Mr Donald Trump on several occasions as well as other topical issues currently happening.

To round off the set he took to a more personal outlook with his song ‘Normal’ describing how listening to Green Day’s ‘Dookie’ changed his life whilst bringing out fellow support act Arkells who helped with the song, ringing out the lyrics ‘You’re never gunna be normal, cause you’re a punk’ with the song talking about his discovery of music and punk rock.

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Arkells

Straight after finishing The Homeless Gospel Choir’s final song, Arkells claimed the stage, which is a little touch that I really appreciated. At near enough every show you go to, there will be a pause in between bands as their teams set up instruments and sound check lasting around maybe 30 minutes. This however, going from one support band to the other was such a clever way of linking the two, not allowing the energy for the room to dissipate.

Arkells soon erupted into their first song ‘Knocking At The Door’ with lead singer Max Kerman using every chance he had to dance and move around the stage, for the bands first appearance in Norwich, they really left a lasting impression with me just for their obvious passion and energy. Kerman in between songs mentioned that they are hoping to return in November and they are definitely a band to catch if you can.

As the band went into their second song ‘Private School’ they paused for a second half way through the song. With the lead singer mentioning that normally they would bring out someone who can play guitar to join them, but this time they found someone in the queue to get into the venue. Frank Turner himself soon appeared announcing himself as ‘Francis’ and grabbed an electric guitar to finish off the song.

The Arkells would then go on to finish off their set in an upbeat fashion with Kerman stating ‘All the best shows happen on a Friday, so as it’s a Wednesday lets bring up the energy to make it feel like a Friday’ and would then go on to play songs like ‘People’s Champ’ and ‘My Heart’s Always Yours’ with the lead singer not stopping to jump and move throughout. To even push things further, during ‘A Little Rain’ Kerman joined the crowd to get everyone singing to warm up for the headliners of the evening.

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Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

After two superb support bands it was finally time for the man himself, First off was The Sleeping Souls individually taking up their positions on stage, before finally Frank making his second appearance of the night, running out on to the stage launching into a track from his latest record ‘1933’ before going into a couple of older tracks ‘Get Better’ and ‘The Next Storm’ which straight from the off got the crowds voices singing.

Not long after his first three songs he soon addressed the crowd, asking a couple of important questions. The first, the standard, ‘Are we having a good time?’ to then asking to ‘Put your hands up if this is the first time seeing him’. With a surprising amount of hands shooting up which seemed to take even Frank back, he then listed a couple of mandatory rules for his shows. ‘Don’t let your fun spoil others nights’ and ‘If you know the words to a song, you better sing them loud’. This last one definitely goes without saying.

For the set itself it was the perfect mix of old and new, playing songs from his latest album such as ‘Make America Great Again’, which had red, white and blue lights accompanying to playing songs like ‘The Road’, ‘Recovery’ and ‘Reasons not to be an Idiot’. Showing off songs from a range of his albums, not being afraid to mix the old with the new. He even addressed the fact saying ‘People always ask for old songs, well I say, if you want old songs, then we shall fucking play some old songs’.

Between every few songs Frank wasn’t scared to let his personality come shining through, from welcoming everyone to show 2173, to talking about the struggles of reaching the top spot in the charts. Going off into a bit of a tangent he would go on to mention that when he released one of his albums, Michael Buble knocked him off the top spot, to then have the following record be knocked off by Dr Dre, which he goes to admit, they completely forgot about Dr Dre. This time however, Be More Kind is being kept from the top spot by ‘Hugh Fucking Jackman and Zak Efron’ as he so eloquently put it, with the soundtrack to ‘The Greatest Showman’. Although he mentions that the charts doesn’t matter, you could tell that this one may annoy him a little bit. A quick look on his social media feeds definitely confirms this.

All in all, this may have been show 2173 for Mr Turner, he treated it like show number 1, with his clear passions for music and performing being left all out on the stage for everyone to enjoy. To truly enjoy a Frank Turner show, knowing a few of his songs will work in your favour, because this is a show you just want to sing until your voice breaks just to join in and fully enjoy it.

 

LIVE REVIEW: DMA’s + Planet at The Waterfront

Aussie takes over at the Waterfront as the DMA’s returned to Norwich to promote their second studio album, ‘For Now’, in which they delivered a frantic set list and were supported by fellow aussie band, PLANET!

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Sydney-born pop rock band, PLANET, kick the evening off as the quartet brought a decent crowd for the opening performance of the night as front-man Matty Took’s voice caught my attention straight away with his dreamy and reverbing vocals mixed in with the driving bass grooves and the catchy drum rhythms.

This band were simply effortless on stage as everything combined so well and it was like watching DMA’s little brother in action. There is no doubt that these guys will be a big hit in the future.

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It was then time for the headliners of the evening with lights cut just prior to DMA’s arrival on stage, and as music over the speakers remained before Tommy, Matt and Johnny took to the stage with their three piece backing band and plenty of guitars on show!

The trio didn’t introduce themselves until the fifth song and although there was no need for introduction to the Norwich crowd, the lack of interaction helped to give the gig a more focused and professional feel and leaving it up to their songs to leave the impression rather than the band members personally.

There was also barely any interaction with the crowd during the set, nothing unusual on stage and there was definitely no stopping small mosh pits from the crowd. Luckily, despite the lack of interaction, their track selection which included their big hits, as well as a few newbies got the crowd singing along with vocalist Tommy O’Dell.

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With plenty of impressive guitar solos and the highlights coming from old songs such as ‘Melbourne’ and ‘Step Up The Morphine’ kept the crowd going until the very last note!

For the fans, they certainly did’t disappoint by bringing their pouring energy and a packed set list that left just enough room for fillers as the band from down under went from one song to another.

DMA’s music has been compared alot to Oasis but for me they bring their own twist to the Brit Pop genre by going from strength to strength. Ultimately this is the band for the people who missed out on Brit pop era or for those who remember it well and want to revel in the nostalgia of it once again.

LIVE REVIEW: Barenaked Ladies + Boothby Graffoe at the UEA

The party was back in town last night, as Barenaked Ladies took to the UEA stage for the first time in what is far too many years, promoting their new album ‘Fake Nudes’, alongside the fantastically amusing Boothby Graffoe.

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Boothby Graffoe

Opening the night was Yorkshire-born comedian James Rogers, whom you may also know by his alter ego named after a Lincolnshire village, Boothby Graffoe. A man of many talents and years of experience behind him, Graffoe had the whole crowd in stitches within the first few seconds of him being on stage. He performed a brilliantly planned out set, with a clever mix of joke telling and comedic songs, touching upon the surreal side of an imaginary animal kingdom in songs like ‘Baseball Playing Spider’ and ‘Polar Bear’.

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As somewhat a jack of all trades, Graffoe wasn’t shy to burst into laughter and admit he’s tripped over his own teeth during the song ‘Hartlepool’ and with a fair bit of improvisation, he was constantly engaging the crowd to sing along as well. Before the end of his set, he was joined by Kevin Hearn and Jim Creeggan for an outstanding performance of ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’

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Barenaked Ladies

Headlining the Norwich UEA was a a now four-piece Barenaked Ladies, however this did not affect the great energy and feel-good atmosphere this group can create. Starting off their 6-song acoustic set with ‘Thanks that was Fun’, all members were set up in line at the front of the stage – Tyler with a small drum set, Kevin on guitar and keyboards, Ed on guitar and last but not least Jim on double bass. The acoustic set made for a slow and relaxed start as they were building up to the main set, which mainly meant getting rid of Tyler’s ‘ridiculously tiny drum set’, as Ed described before they went off stage for enough time to ‘buy a drink if you’re already at the bar’. In between songs, lead singer Ed shared their experience from that morning as him and Kevin went to explore Norwich town, had breakfast at the Waffle House and were mislead by the crazy April weather.

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As they moved on to the main set, which included tracks from both their new album ‘Fake Nudes’ as well oldies-but-goldies that everyone knows and loves. This has also marked Jim’s switch from double bass to an electric guitar and he was absolutely loving life with the freedom to move about on stage. Backed by years of experience and knowledge, there is no doubt that these guys are not only insanely talented but also know how to put on a proper show! While Tyler and Ed stuck to drums and acoustic and electric guitars, Jim switching back and forth from an electric guitar to a double bass and Kevin was almost playing a different instrument in each song, including an acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, piano and even an accordion.

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When the main set finally kicked in it suddenly got the crowd moving and singing along to tracks such as ‘Brian Wilson’, ‘Canada Dry’, and what was definitely one of the highlights and the greatest songs of the night – ‘Be my Yoko Ono’ where they were joined by Boothby Graffoe. Of course, having saved the best for last, the end of their performance was becoming more imminent once we were singing and dancing along to the fantastic ‘Big Bang Theory’ theme song and the songs that followed after that.

All in all, it was a fantastic night filled with laughter brought by the surreal sense of humor of Boothby Graffoe, and a greatly energetic atmosphere created by the unmissable Barenaked Ladies.