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Tinie Tempah @ KoKo – Camden

8 Nov

 

Words by Rahsian Parris

It’s Wednesday night in Camden Town and the geek specs are out in full force. No prescription required. Hoards of Tinie Tempahs line the perimeter of London’s KoKo waiting to see their hero. Despite how slowly the line seems to be moving, there is still pushing and squeezing past bodies as 2,000 plus Tinie Tempah fans struggle to get into the venue. They must get in first, they must get a good view, lens-less 3D glasses or not. Screams of excitement fill the middle balcony as the crowd swim past presenter Reggie Yates who obligingly stops for a few photos (less obliging when asked for directions).

The first support act came and went in the blink of an eye, can anybody remember his name? Nope, didn’t think so. Second up was G-Fresh who obviously had a good time the night before as he could barely talk let alone rap. Disappointing to say the least. With intervals of Grime/Pop DJ-ing, the supporting gem of the night was stand-out R ‘n’ B act and Tinie BFF Bluey Robinson. Solid performance, fantastic vocals and generally great songs, notably his rendition of King’s Of Leon’s ‘Sex on Fire’ and Wheatus’ ‘Teenage Dirtbag’; crowd pleasers amongst the not so Grime inclined. When X Factor stars One Direction, Cher Lloyd and Mary Byrne decided to make their presence known within the crowd there were head turns and screams from most of the crowd. Though, when Bluey commented “Oh is Cher Lloyd here?” a wave boos swept through venue like a bad smell.

Last but not least was Philadelphia’s Chiddy Bang who trawled through a few songs before impressing with his crowd inspired ‘freestyle’. His drummer warned us that we would be converted, he was right. It felt like hours (it literally was) before Tinie Tempah finally arrived on stage to flashing lights and dramatic drums. Opening with ‘Simply Unstoppable’, Tempah emerged, energetic and sprightly, dressed in all black; gilet, T-shirt, shorts and trainers and of course Wayfarers.

One thing about Tinie Tempah is that he likes to talk. He made a point of chatting and introducing his songs. Though still humble since picking up several music awards this year, his talking became tiring, especially during his sermon-like speech about ‘letting go of your obsessions’. “You need to know when it’s time to let go of whatever it is you’re obsessed about” he preached, “whether it’s drugs, alcohol, sex…”, he went on before track ‘Obsession’. It would have been a touching moment of self-awareness for many had he not downed two shots of Jack Daniels straight after. Be that as it may, the show in general was one of class and high standards. Highlights included ‘Wonderman’ with superstar Ellie Goulding and P Diddy’s ‘Hello Goodmorning’ with Grime favourite Tinchy Stryder.

What is endearing about Tinie Tempah is his seemingly grounded nature despite his sudden rise from rags to riches. However, this felt threatened by what was almost the ‘Tinie Tempah and Friends Show’ when after star appeared either on stage or in the crowd. Bringing X Factor hopefuls One Direction, Cher Lloyd and Mary Byrne onto the stage during the finale was one big cheese fest; thankfully hidden in part by the excessive use of confetti. Though the fact remains that his ability to do such things whilst remaining highly respected within his genre is testament to his commercial potential. The question that now stands is can he put on consistently good shows minus the help of his celebrity friends?

 

 

Check out more from Tinie Tempah @ TaleTela.com

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Blood Red Shoes: Live @ The Electric Ballroom

12 Oct

 

 

Words by Rahsian Parris

It’s Thursday October 7th and Camden’s Electric Ballroom is swiftly filling to full capacity, not only is everyone virtually shoulder to shoulder but even the bar area is overcrowded with people vigorously head bopping to the first support act of the night, The 2:54; who took over the stage with their quirky, wafer vocals on top of lush, chug-tastic rock melodies, surprisingly fabulous, leaving the crowd wanting more. The second support act of the night, Male Bonding, played an overall good set, but nobody would have been disappointed if 2:54 had come back for round two.

The noise from the crowd crescendos into cheers and swells of applause and anticipation as instruments are put in place and Blood Red Shoes eventually make their way on to the stage. Having not seem them perform before, it was easy to expect a slightly more detailed ensemble rather than the simplicity of the outfit which was literally an electric guitar, two microphones and a less than intricate drum kit; how would they sound with so little in the way of instrumentation and what would the overall performance be like with just the two of them? It’s easy to mistake the sound of their record with something a little more complicated than two relatively standard pieces of kit, yet, it really was that simple; two pieces of kit with two imaginative musicians that know how to use them to their full capabilities.

The first few tracks are full of a contagious combination of choppy guitar riffs, sing-a-long choruses, coupled with almost opaque, coloured, lighting effects that leave the band shadowed in obscurity and the instruments silhouetted on the stage, adding an air of tension and depth to an already moody performance. Working their way through a string of songs from their first album ‘Box of Secrets’ including ‘I Wish I Was Someone Better’, ‘You Bring Me Down’ and the brilliantly catchy ‘It’s Getting Boring By The Sea’, the band kept the audience gripped with ferocious, dynamic performances of extremely well crafted indie tunes. However, it was the bands new single ‘Light It Up’ that, with it’s anthemic, shouty chorus, simple melody and infectious power-chord combo, had the audience pumping their arms in the air to the beat.

From beginning to end Blood Red Shoes were far less ego induced indie thrashers and more just a pleasure to listen to and watch, having put on what can only be considered a hugely exciting, well thought out show, where simplicity really was the key; nothing too complex or too clever, just good, solid rock melodies and enchanting vocals from both Laura-Mary Carter and Steven Ansell. Who would have thought that this was their biggest headlining show in their six long years together? The venue was rammed full of adoring fans, the performances were solid and everybody probably went home slightly sweatier, more intoxicated and on far more of a high then they arrived, so all in all a terrific show. If this one event is anything to go by, then the next tour should see us in for a serious treat.

 

 

Rahsian Parris for Music News

ALBUM REVIEW: Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions – Various Artists

27 Sep

Words By Rahsian Parris

Compilations, what to say? The general consensus is that eight out of ten times they are like the not so ‘Greatest Hits’ of a bunch of artists that are favoured amongst the masses, whose songs we could reel off in chronological order if asked and with a track list that says ‘flung together with the haste and frivolity of a thousand capitalists’ as oppose to ‘specially crafted for your listening pleasure’; not to mention the fact that they are, in essence, like turning the dial to the UK’s Top 40 minus the adverts and faux anticipation.

Live compilations tend to go down slightly better, though, again, leave a lot to be desired with questionable song choices (or omissions for that matter), lack luster production – because revving up the reverb is not the answer to a poor performance – and general ambiguity that may in fact do a lot of things but includes falling short of capturing the intricacies of what we all love about live music – in short, if I find a live compilation that I deem worth purchasing I’ll eat my hat. Then along comes BBC Radio 2’s Dermot O’Leary Presents The Saturday Sessions and I feel compelled to get my plate ready to guzzle until my belly is full of some sort of made in Turkey cotton polyester mix.

This quaint blend of predominantly acoustic tunes performed by some of the nations favourite acts is nothing less than a Sunday (or Saturday) morning aural delight. The songs themselves are mostly cover versions of well-known past and present chart toppers including songs from Amy Winehouse, Elvis Presley, Britney Spears and Michael Jackson. The beauty being that they are the live performances recorded during The Dermot O’Leary Show on BBC Radio 2, something the tasteful production really encapsulates.

Pop/Rock with echoes of Jazz and Blues that make for easy listening transcends other notable live ‘sessions’ compilations as a record that not only offers vividly expressive and often eccentric versions of some of our favourite songs (Lily Allen does a smashing, jazzy rendition of Britney’s ‘Womanizer’), but also gives some artists a chance to offer up more modest, exposed versions of their own songs; Florence + The Machine’s ‘Rabbit Heart’ and The Temper Trap’s ‘Sweet Disposition’ being stand out examples.

However, what is most apparent is the unmistakable feeling and passion that every performance oozes, that, despite not being live in the traditional sense, is something that has not been lost in the recording process. Fyfe Dangerfield‘s stomping version of Girls Aloud‘s ‘Call The Shots‘ is genius, as is Imogen Heap’s performance of ‘Thriller’, which is an almost perplexing concoction of haunting melodies and moving emotion, making the track recognisable enough to be pointed out, but so far removed from the original that it could be her own; haunting in completely opposing ways to Jackson’s, leaving plagued zombies behind and depicting a person tormented by a soul eating ghost closer to the heart.

There is something about the relationship we have with hearing music on the radio that is so different to personal, off air, listening habits that, in most cases, are inadequate in comparison, which is why, as a whole, this two disc (twenty track) ensemble does something that is so rarely executed with these kind of records; it totally and completely encompasses the feeling and nature of the radio show the songs were performed for, replicating the listening experience as if it were happening live, for the first time with zero insufficiencies. All in all it is reason enough to ditch your iPod (even if it is just for a for a few days) and fall back in love with live performance and the radio.

Rahsian Parris for Music-News.com

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