Concert Review: Coldplay in Leipzig, Germany

IMG_0236.JPGI’ve never found myself in such a state of bliss as I am at a Coldplay concert. I’ve grown up with the British bands music being a soundtrack to my life, each song, each album, is so varied yet all have equal meaning to me.

I still remember singing along to Yellow, Clocks and The Scientist with my friends at primary school, from lyric sheets we’d printed off the slow moving internet.

The first time I heard Fix You I was in the back seat of mums car when the radio station introduced the new single. I harassed mum to turn the stereo up knowing from the first few words, this was a song I was never going to forget. I rushed out to buy the album before our family holiday and it was on repeat the entire week.

Next came the most memorable event of heading along to my first Coldplay concert in 2009, the Viva La Vida tour, and crying with happiness throughout. We were seated in the very back row of the arena but didn’t feel far away, especially when the band left the stage and came and played an acoustic set, including Green Eyes, just metres from me. I made a pact to myself in that moment that I would never miss another opportunity to see this band live.

By the time I got the chance to see them again it was the Mylo Xyloto tour in 2012. Between 2009 and then I’d pestered almost every person I knew telling them about how great Coldplay were in concert and it must have rubbed off on a few people! A huge group of us headed off to the stadium and had the night of our lives dancing with our glowing wristbands and getting chills singing the songs we’d grown up with.

In 2014, Ghost Stories was released and sadly – no world tour, no chance to see them live. But we didn’t have to wait long for the fantastic A Head Full Of Dreams, and the day an email popped into my inbox “Coldplay live in NZ” I dropped everything I was doing to read it. I almost threw my phone at someone on the bus when I read that their one NZ concert was the same weekend I was going to a wedding in Australia.

So my new mission began – where in the world can I see this tour? I was already planning a Europe trip in June 2017… could Coldplay have a concert in Europe around that time by chance? Luck was on my side this time! Coldplay were playing Leipzig, Germany, on June 14th. It was meant to be! We booked our flights, tickets and planned the trip to suit the date – this was a concert I wasn’t going to miss!

Now today, June 15th, I’m sitting on a bus to Prague reminiscing on what was the most magical musical experience a gal could wish for.

Last night was a Coldplay classic. We were taken on a musical journey of their discography, from the original melancholy numbers, to the beat heavy Viva La Vida tracks and through to their modern day pop sound. Never did it get boring, these clever musicians not only played and sang beautifully but performed! The audience was always kept involved, the pace changed regularly to keep it interesting and the theatrical confetti, glowing wristbands and interactive stage were mesmerising.

Yellow, which came second in the set got everyone in the crowd in perfect spirits. It was sung beautifully by Chris Martin, who’s voice was on point all night, despite dancing around like a mad thing 90% of the time. Everglow, lead into with a chat from Martin about how great it is that despite people around the world telling us not to love everybody, people are still trying, was a clear stand out for me. Performed without theatrics, the simple piano ballad brought tears to my eyes and had me completely enthralled.

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Close behind were acoustic versions of In My Place and Us Against the World which had the whole stadium “slowed down”, swaying and soaking up every word. The backing vocals of drummer Will Champion were stunning all night, but really added a lot to these two songs in particular.

My only question – why play Princess of China and Hymn for the Weekend with recordings of Rhianna and Beyoncé when they could have played Fun and had Tove Lo (who opened for them) join them on stage? Seemed like a strange decision to me.

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Fix You was a little lost at first when it came I n the middle of a series of upbeat, newer songs, but it was still incredibly powerful as the crescendo grew. Adventure of a Lifetime was the party song. Martin had everyone crouching down on the ground and leaping in the air while huge colourful balls flew around the crowd. It was three minutes of pure joy. Even my partner (who usually doesn’t dance) was jumping up and down all over the place!

Up and Up was a lovely song to finish on, showcasing each band members many talents, in particular two spine tingling guitar solos from Jonny Buckland, and uniting the crowd in one final singalong.

From start to finish, Coldplay put on a performance hard to rival. This has to be the reason they are unstoppable as a band. Their live shows have certainly never been topped for me, there’s nothing quite like a Coldplay concert and I feel very privileged to have been in the crowd last night.

At risk of annoying people all over again, I’ll be continuing my mantra of ‘you must see Coldplay live’ because everyone deserves a to experience the happiness I felt last night!!

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Song of the Week – Let Me Out

Let Me Out – Gorillaz ft Mavis Staples, Pusha T

Gorillaz, Damon Albarn’s virtual band that’s been blowing our minds since 1998, has just put out their fifth studio album Humanz. In classic Gorillaz style this album is full of collaborations you wouldn’t see coming. Let Me Out, the first single released for the album is the prime example of this. Teaming up with one of America’s most famous gospel singers, Mavis Staples, and then throwing rapper Pusha T into the mix, seems odd. But in reality, it’s just yet another genius idea by Albarn.

It’s been a decent wait for Gorillaz fans to get new music, but boy oh boy has it been worth it. This track has all of the groups trademarks – the funky as hell beat which has you grooving in the first ten seconds, the random synth sound interruptions and of course Albarn’s iconic voice and whispers.

Upon first listen a Gorillaz song often sounds a bit jumbled, but give these songs a bit of time, turn them up loud and really listen. Albarn is so clever the way he takes different musical genres and techniques and mixes them together as if they were always meant to be heard this way. I believe Let Me Out is an epic that will stand up over time like earlier Gorillaz tracks DARE, Dirty Harry and Clint Eastwood. I’m hooked.

NZ concert please??

Song of the Week – On the Level

On the Level – Mac DeMarco

Indie hero Mac DeMarco is bit by bit releasing tracks from his forthcoming album This Old Dog due out on May 5th and so far, it’s all great stuff.

The three songs he’s pre-released from This Old Dog retain the zesty sound of his older work but have more depth. On the Level is the latest offering and it’s a compelling listen. It is is more intricate and layered than other hits of his. With shades of Tame Impala shining through, this groovy track has a hook which is hard to ignore and a base line which makes you want to move. It’s a mellow song but it still packs a lot of punch. Chuck it on loud and feel yourself moving and bopping.

On the Level is a song that makes you sit up and listen. Bring on May 5th for more of this!

 

Gig review: Nadia Reid

I just witnessed one of New Zealand’s finest musicians play a gig which couldn’t have been any lovelier.

Nadia Reid – “she’s NZ’s answer to Joni Mitchell” I read. I pondered. That’s a big call – could it be true? After last nights show at Meow I can confirm, she’s definitely on the right track!

Tonight we were taken on a journey of her life as she told stories through songs from her brand new album Preservation and her 2015 debut record Listen To Formation, Look for the Signs.

Reid, a folk musician from Port Chalmers, has wisdom in her music you don’t naturally expect from a 25-year-old. Whether you’re foot tapping to a gentle melody or closing your eyes to soak up a crooning ballad, the lyrics come through so clearly and are hauntingly relatable. I accept that the fact I’m the same gender and incredibly close in age to her might make that last line seem redundant, but I don’t say it without genuine consideration. I feel certain Reid’s music connects with a wide audience because she writes with sincerity and performs the songs with a rare vulnerability.

Tonight her candid and sometimes hilarious tales behind the tunes particularly took me. “Now can I sing you a song about going home to stay with my mum after a break up and sleeping in a single bed? Sleeping in a single bed really makes it hit home.” That was her introduction to a stunning rendition of Reach My Destination. She may have had us laughing, but she’d also got us thinking and reflecting, and as soon as she sang the first lines…

There is one main street in this town

There are two straight lines in my head

It goes on, it goes on forever

…I was mesmerised in a haze of magic metaphors.

Reid’s vocals are faultless. Numerous times tonight I likened her in my head to Laura Marling, not a note was missed, not a waiver was heard. The control she had over this instrument was showcased particularly well in her ode to Wellington, Hanson St Pt. 2 (A River) and her encore tribute to her mother, Some Are Lucky. In these songs she carefully moved to and from the microphone to get the perfect echo or the perfect fade of vocals. In doing so she created tender and intimate moments for the audience to savour.

But there’s more to her songs than her voice, Reid knows how to play a guitar. Her fingers glided across the strings picking with impressive ease. Acoustic tracks, performed with little or no backing, were played to precision with careful crescendos. Thicker songs, with her talented band backing her up, were still dominated by her carefully strummed melodies.

Tonight’s conclusion? Preservation is an album capable of competing against the best artists in the world, especially when brought to life in concert by this talented performer.

Nadia Reid – I can’t wait to see what else you’ve got.

 

(Sorry for lack of photos, phone through a tanty)

Concert Review: Adele

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Eight years since I was first mesmerised by Adele’s epic ballads, the night I was waiting for for so long, finally arrived. Last night I was one of the lucky ones who got to witness this superstar bring down the house at her final show at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland. This morning I’m basking in the afterglow of one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Not even a traffic jam that meant I was at risk of missing my flight back to wellington can bring this gal down today.

I wish I could relive that concert over and over. Adele has the best voice I’ve ever heard. In two hours of music, all of which soars across low and high pitch and has key change upon key change, Adele did not miss one note. Each song was sung to perfection. I spent half the show with my mouth gaping open in amazement, tears rolled down my face in awe at least five times and I laughed wholeheartedly on numerous occasions.

A huge part of Adele’s appeal as a musician is that she’s real and relatable. As this was the last stadium show of her overseas tour we were treated as an audience to a raw version of her. She spoke with tears about what an accomplishment finishing this tour is for her, she never thought she’d make it through 50 shows let alone 219. She confirmed the rumours we’d all hoped weren’t true – “I don’t know if I’ll ever tour again” – and we all felt incredibly grateful in that moment that we got to witness her magnificence.

Despite it absolutely pissing down the entire show, this artist – with no trace of diva – continued to strut the stage in her waterlogged dress. She had make-up dripping down her face as she batted away wet and sticky bits of confetti but no complaints were made! Instead she just laughed about getting eyelash glue in her eyes and falling on her ass – a little bit of water wasn’t going to stop her giving us a show to remember. At one point she even donned a poncho handed to her by a helpful fan and the crowd erupted into giggles as she looked like a pink marshmallow while singing a heartfelt ballad.

All of the big hits were played, reminding us why they’re the favourites. Chasing Pavements, When We Were Young, Rolling in the Deep and Someone Like You certainly stood out. Hello was so powerful as an opener that I was completely overcome with emotion. It took me about a minute to shake off the tears. I realised then just what kind of concert I was in for and the anticipation was intense.

There were endless lovely moments but I was particularly taken by her performances of Don’t You Remember, Take It All and Make You Feel My Love – which she dedicated to her husband and son before struggling not to cry while delivering the most stunning rendition.

As we trudged home in the heavy rain, our faces plastered with grins, we knew this was a concert above the rest. “This will be the artist we rave to our kids about one day” we quipped. Thanks Adele, you’re going to be hard to beat.

The 2017 WOMAD Awards

IMG_9563Another year later and I’m once again nursing an epic hangover from a wonderful three days at WOMAD in New Plymouth. This year we had the most stunning weather imaginable, the mountain was out in full glory, the flags were glistening in the sunshine and the people were kicking off their shoes and embracing bare feet as a cool-down method. The Bowl of Brooklands was looking its finest, and the music, food and dance that filled it was certainly world class, here are my picks:

The crowd favourite award:

This has to go to UK ska superstars The Specials. Their energetic set to close out Friday night was just what the doctor ordered. They had the bowl stage packed in and everyone was up on their feet dancing away as they charged through a hit filled set. Songs like Message To You Rudy and Ghost Town were echoing in my head for hours after they left the stage, only complaint – an hour set wasn’t long enough!

The unforgettable award:

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The Soil, an acapella trio from South Africa, blew me away. I am lost for words when I think back to their closing set on the Dell stage on Sunday night, it was the perfect performance to finish the festival on. This trio have voices like I’d never heard before and their ‘kasi soul’ sound is modern but traditional at the same time. It was simply magical to listen to under the trees and stars and beside a shimmering lake. I’ll never forget their show and that feeling.

The stage presence award:

Mali dance music hero Inna Modja had the most compelling stage presence. I couldn’t take my eyes of her! She moved with grace and funk, sang each note perfectly, told stories with pride and passion and generally just had me as putty in her hands.

The best dance party award:

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New Orleans jazz-hip hoppers the Hot 8 Brass Band had the crowd at the Gables Stage on Sunday dancing like mad things with their funky blend of genres. They had a contagiousness to their performance and I had a stupid grin plastered on my face as me and friends bogeyed the set away. Their musicianship was outstanding, to have so much talent on one stage is pretty darn impressive. Special mention to the trumpet player who regularly gave me chills as he hit such high notes so effortlessly.

The wow factor award:

Marlon Williams, our kiwi folk prodigy, ditched the dingy bar concert venues to take on the mighty Bowl of Brooklands and he did it superbly. He and his talented band the Yarrabenders, had the huge crowd overwhelmed in various fashions throughout his show. I was close to tears numerous times and kept gushing over how long he could hold a note for. I loved being up stomping my feet in a mad dash to keep up with the fast moving guitar before sitting back by the lake front to sway side to side in a mesmerised daze.

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The unexpected delight award:

Sitting down on a sunny Sunday afternoon to watch some of New Zealand’s best dancers on stage was a true privilege. The New Zealand Dance Company had the crowd captivated and were the talk of the festival for their stunning perfourmance of Brouhaha. I’m no dance expert but I loved it and didn’t want it to finish! Great to see the D put back in WOMAD.

Song of the Week – 3WW

3WW – alt-J

English indie group alt-J’s new track is dreamy. 3WW is a slow-building mesmeriser. Whatever you do upon first listen, don’t cut it off early, keep going right till the end and it won’t disappoint.

3WW features a more gentle melody than their previous works, it’s lullaby-like for much of the song. But don’t you worry -the alt-J trademarks still shine through loud and clear, they just have new twists. For example – a woman’s vocals (Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell) adds a refreshing new element to the quirky male vocals we’ve come to love from lead singer Joe Newman.

I must say, I’m a big fan of all their old work, but I love being able to follow the lyrics in this song more clearly than in previous tunes. Captivating poetry shines through:

“There was a wayward lad
Stepped out one morning
The ground to be his bed
The sky his awning”

The song has mellow use of synth and soft drum beats throughout but cleverly inserts bursts of crescendo which take the song from being a cafe style easy-listener to a well-thought out and cleverly crafted single.

This is the first track off the bands upcoming album Relaxer. It reflects the album name as it is a more subdued style song for the group but I think it’s an interesting new direction and I can’t wait to hear more.