A Table Is For Dancing On

My Life In Music

Muse announce new album and tour!

It doesn’t feel that long ago when my boyfriend and I were curled up on the sofa watching Muse play the festivals on the telly last summer, or it could have been the summer before. Vito that. It doesn’t seem that long ago when my boyfriend was curled up on the sofa watching Muse on the telly; I was up dancing with my can of beer in one hand and the remote control in the other increasing the volume to a ‘live music friendly’ level. It was during this period that my boyfriend confessed he had never seen Muse live. Shocked I was not, but I did feel pity for him. Having experienced Muse live for the first time on the Absolution tour at the Manchester Evening News Arena many years ago and 3 times following that, they quickly became one of the most mesmerising live bands I have known and I felt a sense of responsibility to ensure that he had the chance to experience Muse live too. I wanted to be the one to introduce him to that experience so I promised him, “the next time Muse come to Manchester I will treat you to a ticket”.

A few days ago I was innocently trawling through facebook and I came across a link to the XFM website. I saw the photograph of Matt Bellamy at his piano and this image triggered goosebumps all over my body. Muse were to release a new album, finally! Titled The 2nd Law and due for release 17th September 2012 in the UK, I couldn’t think of anything more exciting. But then it happened. Only days later, XFM announced that Muse would be touring the new album. My emotions: butterflies, excitement and anticipation. I cannot wait for my boyfriend to experience one of the most incredible live bands ever, and yes I will keep my promise; Muse tickets are on me. What a lyrical and musical genius Matt Bellamy is.

The 2nd Law is due for release on 17th September. As far as I am aware of, Muse gig tickets go on sale on Thurs 14th June at 10am (I’m sorry if that’s wrong!), and they play the Manchester Arena on Thursday 1st November 2012. I advise you attend!

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A Night of Dancing: 42nd Street

I have been feeling old recently when it comes to going out in Manchester. The problem is is that I still have a strong desire to attend the exact same clubs that I have been going to my whole clubbing life. I have found no new exciting clubs to go to that play the music that consumed my clubbing life way back when. When I first started on the clubbing scene, my club of choice on a Thursday night was at the club 5th Avenue (aka 5th Ave to the true Mancunians) and the night was called ‘Back by Demand’. It felt like the ultimate student night experience filled with cheap booze, amazing music and fun-loving people who were brought together for the same purpose; our love of music. The music consisted of the Manchester Madchester classics; my ears and body consumed the music of The Stones Roses, New Order and Happy Mondays. Clubbers dressed in their comfy, everyday clothes. We didn’t feel the need to get dressed up for these nights and that was part of the experience. Comfy clothes and comfy shoes meant that the focus was on having a good time that could be truly impromptu and impulsive, rather than worrying about an image we wanted to portray to one another. And this was the charm of the indie scene ten years ago. It held no pretention. The ideology was the music.

Upon recently visiting 5th Ave, it became apparent that these ‘old’ values have been lost. Maybe I am old in the sense that the indie clubbing scene has progressed and moved forward towards something new that I do not understand. Maybe I haven’t progressed. Or maybe I need to move aside and allow the next generation of fresh clubbers, who dress in their highest of heels and tiny skin-tight dresses and listen to techno music rather than The Stones Roses,  to enjoy this ‘new’ indie scene that I don’t get. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bad-mouthing 5th Ave in any way (I have spent some of my happiest nights here), I’ve just come to the conclusion that maybe I don’t belong there anymore and that makes me sad.

With this in mind, I was invited by my very dear friend, and one of my favourite people to go out dancing with, to return back to one of our hold haunts last night. Having both concluded that our usual go-to club 5th Ave might not be for us anymore, we decided to go to 42nd Street. Neither of us had visited 42nd Street (or 42′s as true Mancunians know it as) for what we worked out to be 5 years. Upon arrival, there was no queue out front. This was really strange. one thing that I remembered about 42′s was the massive queues outside that we would have to join, usually in the rain. However, we viewed this as a bonus and ran in, paid the man and ran up the 2 flights of stairs (they always seem much longer on the way down!).

The club was very quiet, but again this was a bonus as we went straight to the bar and got served immediately. I was pleasantly surprised when the bar staff only charged me £2 for a can of Strongbow! I forgot how wonderfully cheap the student nights are (as a working woman now, I very rarely get the chance to go out on a school night). Enough about the queues and the booze now; this is meant to be about the music. As soon as we sat down (yes, there were free seats. Yet another anomaly), Ian Brown, F.E.A.R. filled the club and I knew that 42′s was the club night that I was yearning for. The music continued to be amazing and it had a good mix of the oldie classics and the newbies that take over XFM radio station. The Stone Roses: Ressurection, Friendly Fires: Hawaiian Air and Space: Female of the Species were just a few of the songs played. The Courteeners made an appearance (twice!) much to my delight, which I danced to in an euphoric state, feeling the base of the music deep in my chest and singing so loud that the DJ could hear me. I was happy. Overall, a much needed enjoyable night in a place where I felt I belonged where the music is at the heart of the club experience.                                               

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Album Review: Perfume Genius – Put Your Back N 2 It

My brother recommended this album to me. He described the album as “beautiful, harrowing, evocative and spell-bounding”; all adjectives that when used to describe a piece of music, I could not ignore.

The album is all of these things and more. I fell into a dream when listening to this captivating album. I fell deep into Mike Hadreas’ (aka Perfume Genius) subconscious and memories, feeling the emotions that his lyrical poetry and mesmerising, unique voice embodies. Opening the record with Awol Marine, the vocals are haunting, yet the piece of music has a soothing and calming effect, almost lullaby-like and sets the tone appropriately for the rest of the album.

A track that stood out on this album is Normal Song (track 2). It’s lyrics are filled with true, tangible emotions. Although the music for this song is pretty and sweet, for me it is the lyrics that demand the listener’s attention. With poetry that reads, “take my hand when you are scared and I will pray if you go back out there“, I couldn’t help but be compelled to do what Hadreas was pleading for me to do. It was as though he was speaking to me, the listener.

The song Dark Parts (track 6) is more up-tempo with the pianists fingers moving from key to key at a faster pace, accompanied by a strong and definite drum beat. This creates more energy that adds to the strength of the album. However, the change in pace of the music does not allow the lyrics to suffer, which are just as beautiful and filled with emotion as the slower, balladesque songs. The song ends with slow piano and poetry that reads, “I will take the dark parts of your heart into my heart“. It’s as if Hadreas needed the message of the song to be emphasised and this was executed beautifully.

After experiencing this album in one sitting from beginning to end, which is the only way to experience this album (the word ‘listening’ does not describe it strongly enough), I felt the record had emotionally touched me, to the point where I could physically feel it in my chest. I had accompanied Hadreas on his journey and identified and empathised with him. I long for Perfume Genius to tour again because if a CD can conjour up such strong emotions, I can only imagine the effect that a live rendition will have on me. A beautiful album, lyrically, musically and emotionally.

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My favourite songs that XFM Manchester have played today

The Stone RosesShe Bangs the Drums (1989). Taken from the album ‘The Stone Roses’

Feeder - Buck Rogers (2001). Taken from the album ‘Echo Park’

PulpCommon People (1995). Taken from the album ‘Different Class’

Manic Street PreachersIf You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (1998). Taken form the album ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’

Two Door Cinema Club - What You Know (2011). Taken form the album ‘Tourist History’

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Songs I have heard today

The Cure - Friday I’m in Love (1992)

I was walking to the dentist this morning and I knew that I needed to listen to one of my ‘happy songs’ on my i-pod. The Cure, Friday I’m in Love is one of my happy songs and it didn’t let me down today. From the initial iconic guitar riff that introduces the song, it just lifted my mood. I could feel those happy, excited butterflies in my stomach and a massive smile took over my face. I wanted to sing/shout the lyrics out loud whilst dancing, which I would have done had I been at home and not out on the streets (I don’t think anyone would have appreciated that!).

It is the music itself, as oppose to the lyrics, that makes this a happy song for me. I also think that the video adds to this perception of the song as it silly and childlike from the beginning, including clowns and a rocking horse and takes on a theatrical element. The song also reminds me of my indie clubbing days where I would dance and sing like crazy to this song! It is my memories that make this song for me.

Editors - Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors (2007). Taken form the album ‘An End Has a Start’

I’m sitting on the bus daydreaming, but as soon as I hear the initial drum beat of ‘dum dum dum dum dum dum’, I immediately recognise the song. This song holds personal connotations for me because I have to literally walk past smokers outside the hospital doors everyday and the song always comes to mind. It was only when I started working at the hospitals that this song held meaning for me and I could really identify with the lyrics. I could understand why ‘the saddest thing I’ve ever seen is smokers outside the hospital doors’, as they’re there for one reason; they themselves, or their loved ones, are sick or dying and this is their way of coping with the situation.

Although the music and melody are captivating and has incredible energy, I cannot help but be engrossed and totally involved with the lyrics of this song and they do move me emotionally. With lyrics like ‘say goodbye to everyone you have ever known, you are not going to see them ever again’, how can you not stop and pay attention? Beautiful song.

PulpCommon People (1995)

This is one of my original happy songs! It just came on XFM and I got really excited. I was first introduced to this song in an indie club in Manchester called 5th Avenue, and it helped influence my indie taste in music today. Such a feel good song that I have to sing/shout/dance to. I adore it!

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New Albums to Look Out For This Year

Please note that I will be adding to this list as and when I become aware of release dates. All of the albums listed here will be recommended by myself :-).

The Vaccines – The Vaccines Come of Age. Released 3rd September

Muse - The 2nd Law. Released 17th September

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Songs I’ve listened to today

Manic Street PreachersAustralia (1996)

This came on good old XFM radio station. I love XFM because it’ll play a few new tunes then throw in some classics too. This will not be an isolated incident whereby I choose to talk about the Manics, as they are one of my favourite bands ever. Australia is taken from the Manics’ fourth studio album, Everything Must Go (1996). Australia came on the radio this morning when the sun was blazing through the window and I couldn’t help but smile. I recognised the song immediately from the initial drum beats and the distinctive sound of James Dean Bradfield’s electric guitar. So appropriate for a sunny morning, I just had to sing along and do a little dance. Definitely a feel-good happy song.

Ben HowardOnly Love (2012)

Again, XFM introduced me to this song and I am in love with it. The melody along with Ben’s compelling voice makes for a beautiful record. It reminds me somewhat of Ray Lamontage, which is definitely a compliment, and in certain parts of the song I can even make comparisons with Damien Rice. I’m excited to heard some more of Ben Howard’s music.

The White StripesI can tell that we are gonna be friends (2002)

I heard this song whilst watching the film Napoleon Dynamite. I must admit, I am well acquainted with this song as I think it has been used in other films but I wasn’t sure who sang it. It was only during the end credits of the film that I noted it was The White Stripes. Of course it was. I don’t really want to analyse the use of the song in the film, but rather intend to talk about just the song. It is such a simple, sweet song, filled with hope and optimism that childhood holds, that people can identify with. Again, it just put a smile on my face. The guitar riff is repetitive but it works fantastically, adding to the simplicity of the song with the iconic White Stripes basic drum beat in the background that does not over power the song. A very unexpected happy addition to my song list today.

Cyndi LauperTime after time (1984)

Again, this song was heard during the Napoleon Dynamite film. I remember the first time I ever heard this song, which was during the film Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. I think it was my introduction to Cyndi Lauper and I am so happy that I discovered her. Such a timeless song, even though it embodies that 80′s sound. Every time I hear it I feel the need to imitate Romy and Michelle’s dance (don’t worry, this never happens). Beautiful lyrics and true emotions felt.

Backstreet BoysLarger than life (1999)

I was a proper, hardcore Backstreet Boys fan during my teenage years, especially during the time when the album Millennium was released. Hearing this song transported me back to those care-free days when I was 14 years old and had an obsession with Nick Carter. I still feel that excitement now when I hear Backstreet Boys songs from this era. Appropriately used in the film Napoleon Dynamite, this is a good, solid pop song and it made a happy addition to my day.

The Vaccines - No Hope (2012) BRAND NEW TRACK ALERT!

This song just popped up on the radio (XFM of course) without me expecting it at all. I didn’t even realise The Vaccines had new material at the moment. Well, obviously, this is the first time that I have heard this new track. Upon first impressions, it has the distinctive Vaccines sound that their first album, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?, embodied. However the lead singer’s, Justin Long, vocals sound different. Possibly his vocals have been ‘less-worked-on’, compared to the tracks on the first album. The song itself has a slight Strokes feel to it, yet I cannot pin point why. Overall, a good tune. XFM played this song twice in 9 minutes as listeners were so excited by it. The single is due out on 9th July, with the new album to follow on 3rd September entitled The Vaccines Come of Age.

PatternsBlood (2012) NEW ARTIST ALERT!

Again, I’m just innocently listening to XFM and I hear this fantastic song from an up-and-coming band. The sound is so fresh that I literally got goosebumps whilst listening to it. Patterns are a Manchester band (well done once again Manchester!) and I’m so excited about them. The song has a haunting quality to it  but it really works due to a compelling and beautiful melody. Upon first listen I made the comparison between this band and White Lies. However, when revisiting the track, I could definitely hear a Stone Roses influence there. I can’t wait to hear this song again, think this may be on repeat. According to XFM, the song is due for release on 9th July. Would definitely recommend you give it a listen. Apparently Patterns are due to play at Dot to Dot festival and Bestival this year.

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Manchester Gig Venues: Some of the smaller ones

A Review of various Manchester Venues

Sound Control – New Wakefield Street

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I have only attended one gig here so far and that was Nina Nesbitt last month on 24th April 2012. The history of this venue is exciting (for me anyway). I knew Sound Control when it was a music shop and my friends and I would go in and ‘play’ the guitars and the drums. When I discovered that it was being relaunched into a venue/club I was intrigued to see the transformation.

Nina played her set on the ground floor, which is the perfect size for a cosy, intimate gig. The stage itself was quite low and as I was standing towards the back of the gathered crowd, I did struggle to see Nina. I would therefore advise that you get near the front if you attend a gig at this venue (or stand behind some not-quite-so-tall people). The music and acoustics sounded great here. My only criticism is that the bar closed what felt to be a bit early, but that’s just me.

The Deaf Institute – Grosvenor Street

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There’s such character and soul in this venue, which adds to the Manchester gig experience. It also makes for fantastic acoustics. It has 3 floors and is beautifully decorated throughout (not that has much to do with the music but I feel it adds to the overall experience). Again, I have only attended one gig at this venue and that was Kate Walsh on 27th September 2009 (see the photo below). She played on the top floor and it was perfect for an intimate gig. It did have seating, but the seats were fixed and were right at the back of the room. My Mum and I therefore found a comfortable spot on the floor right near the stage and we were happy here. I am attending another gig here next month so I can see if it has changed much.

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Kate Walsh playing The Deaf Institute

Band on the Wall – Swan Street, The Northern Quarter

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I experienced the genius David Ford twice at this venue; once on 21st December 2009 and again on 26th April 2011. Recently renovated, the venue has retained its original charm whilst feeling clean and modern. The iconic face of Band on the Wall has been revamped, adding neon light and clean, sharp lines (as seen in the photo above), which connotes the growth of a new era of music in Manchester.

The venue is deceptively large, whilst still retaining an intimate feel for the smaller gig experience. As well as the main floor, the venue also boasts a balcony area which is perfect for ensuring a good view of the stage if you don’t want to be in amongst the crowds. The bar staff have always been friendly and helpful, which is always a good thing. Overall, one of my favourite gig venues.

Academy 3 – Oxford Road

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University of Manchester’s Student Union

Set deep within the heart of the University of Manchester’s Student Union, Academy 3 is a must-have gig experience. The gigs that I have attended here are Aqualung in 2007 and Idlewild in 2010; both fantastic gigs. The intimacy that this venue offers cannot be described but has to experienced. Upon seeing Aqualung here in 2007, my brother and I managed to stand at the front of the audience and we were actually leaning with our elbows on the stage, gazing up at front-man Matt Hales in awe and admiration.

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The set list for Aqualung gig: 10th April 2007

The emotions that were felt by Matt when he was singing washed over us; so much so that although the gig was 5 years ago, the experience has stuck with me. Isn’t this the ultimate goal of the intimate gig experience? This is the gig whereby I fell in love with the singer/songwriter support act Kate Walsh and I believe that the intimacy this venue offers was involved heavily in this.

Due to the venue being set within the heart of the student community, deep within the Student Union, it can be slightly intimidating trying to find Academy 3. However, it is definitely worth it if you enjoy your intimate gig experiences.

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Upcoming Gigs

Here’s a list of the gigs that I have tickets for (so far):

New Artist alert!

Nina Nesbitt – Friday 13th July 2012 at The Deaf Institute (Grosvenor Street, Manchester), Standing ticket

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Nina is an incredible new artist whom I discovered recently after ‘you-tubing’ Ed Sheeran. She sang a beautiful cover of Hallelujah with Ed and her voice was so compelling that I had to find out more.

I want to compare her voice loosely to Ellie Goulding, although her music is a similar style to Ed Sheeran’s. I recently had the pleasure of seeing Nina live at Sound Control last month and she has a beautiful, mesmerising and captivating presence on the stage. I anticipate that Nina will quickly become a big name in mainstream music. She has recently released an EP called ‘The Apple Tree’.

Blink 182 – Tuesday 24th July 2012 at the O2 Apollo, Standing ticket

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I only purchased my ticket for this gig last Friday so the fact that I’m going hasn’t really sunk in yet.

I was a massive Blink fan back in my teenage days (over ten years ago!). My friends and I would sit in the school corridors and recite the lyrics to Enema of the State repeatedly. I did manage to get a ticket to see them in 2001 but they cancelled and never managed to get my hands on tickets to see them again… up until now! Although I haven’t listened to their music for a long time, I am looking forward to borrowing them all from my brother and putting them all on my i-pod (I think Dude Ranch was my favourite album back in the day). A much eagerly anticipated gig, especially as they’re playing at my favourite venue, the O2 Apollo. I have always imagined seeing Blink on their arena tour so the fact that they’re playing a smaller venue adds to the excitement of this gig. I am also curious as to what the set list will consist of. I can’t wait to experience Blink!

Morrissey – Saturday 28th July 2012 at Manchester Arena. Seated.

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All I can say is “wow!”. Morrissey, as you know, needs no introduction. I am a big, big fan of The Smiths and so I couldn’t pass up a chance to see this man perform.

Muse – Thursday 1st November 2012 at Manchester Arena. Seated.

This will be the fourth time (I think) that I will have seen Muse live. In my opinion they are easily one of the most incredible live bands I have ever had the good grace to experience. I expect the best from this band and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed. What should be a mixture of old classics (I’m hoping for Plug in Baby and New Born at least) and new material, this will be an eagerly anticipated tour! I’m just gutted I didn’t manage to get a standing ticket, but with seats in block 116 I’m sure the view and atmosphere will be just as good, if not better (for those who aren’t familiar with the M.E.N. seating plan, block 116 is right next to the stage). My boyfriend is accompanying me to this gig and this will be the first time seeing Muse live. This will be part of the excitement for me.

Bon Iver – Friday 9th November 2012. Manchester Arena. Standing.

I last saw this band in Leeds late last year. I am eager to experience them on my home turf in familiar surroundings this time around. However, I am finding it difficult to comprehend the concept that Bon Iver have decided to take on an arena tour. Surely a band so intimate will struggle to create the same atmosphere on the big stage. Having said that though, I do remember the music itself being ‘big’. I remember the thumping of the beat literally in my chest and I am excited to have this feeling amplified on the arena tour. Such beautiful music with incredible harmonies that could rival Simon and Garfunkel, that will surely make me smile again.

Hopefully I can make some additions to this soon! I will also blog about the gigs to share the experiences too.

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My Life In Music

Growing up in Manchester has meant that music has always been at the centre, and at the heart, of my life. With such a vast number of live music venues, ranging from the cosy sized reinvented Sound Control on New Wakefield Street to the enormous freshly named Manchester Arena (formally the Manchester Evening News Arena or the ‘M.E.N.’ as I still refer to it as), not to mention the hundreds of bars and clubs dotted around the city and the variety of independent record stores, it was inevitable that I would be consumed by this super power and I have always been happy and willing to allow music into every aspect of my life. 

This blog is a space for me to share my music experiences. I want to share the music that I listen to, whether it be listening to my i-pod on the bus, music at a club, at a live gig or something fresh that I’ve heard on the radio. Hopefully some exciting new artists and amazing new gig venues will emerge in my reflections.

 

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