Category Archives: Music

Album Review: Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino by Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys album cover

Following the big success and my love for their fifth album AM back in 2013, I was buzzing to hear the next instalment that was released last week.

I would describe their new album, Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino as a grower. It is a good solid alternative record but doesn’t have the buzzing excitement, crazy riffs and booming lyrics we are used to hearing from the Sheffield lads.

It is the kind of album you would listen to when chillaxing at home, soaking in the bath or sunbathing on the beach. The tracks all have the same rhythmic tone and melody as songs like 505 and Only Ones Who Know.

The opening track Star Treatment, I admit, did feel a disappointment on my first listen but after a few more times of hearing it, I really like the bass line and tune. The rest of the album includes the same musical style throughout.

Golden Trunks & She Looks Like Fun have the best guitar riffs throughout. Definitely have a more rock feel to them.

They also add dramatic spooky elements with the track Science Fiction which has the feel of a haunted house, supernatural activity or an alien invasion.

Additionally I cannot fault Alex Turners unique, strong and powerful vocals and lyrics.

I think this album would be great on an acoustic stage or played at small venues but not sure how it will sound at big venues and stadiums. I’m scheduled to see Arctic Monkeys live at the O2 Arena in London this September and curious to know how tracks from this album will sound on stage. However, I can imagine a lot of swaying arms and the arena filled with phone torches twinkling like stars. Stay tuned to find out when I post my “Review: Arctic Monkeys at The O2 Arena” later on this year.

Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino is available to buy, download and stream!

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Music Interview: The Sourheads

As promised, I have begun a music interview feature, sourcing out the best, new, upcoming and growing talents of rock and guitar based bands and artists for you to discover and enjoy. To open this new chapter in my blog, I present to you – The Sourheads!

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Band Name: The Sourheads

Members: Jake Coxon (Vocals), Mik Crone (Guitar), Ben Taylor (Bass) & Chris Lambert (Drums)

Genre: Classic Rock, Hard Rock

Founded: 2016

Originated From: Wakefield, Yorkshire, UK

Discography: ‘Care Plan For The Soul’ – Album (Oak Island Records)

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1. How would you describe your music?

A fusion of all kinds of rock. Blues, stoner, classic rock, we try to fuse lots of different things. We do sound like ourselves though so that a good thing.

2. How did the band form?

The band as it currently is was formed in 2016. I replaced Sid who was an original founder of the band. His brother Jake is our singer. I was working as the bands producer and they asked to join. Sid is into boats so I think his intention was to go sailing around the world. I took the band in a more rock direction.

3. Who influenced you within the music industry?

We are all influenced by different styles. Our drummer is into his indie music such as The Charlatans. I’m into old school punk, metal and some electronic music, Jake is into 60s Woodstock kind of stuff and Ben our bass player is into Radiohead and Pearl Jam.

4. Have you performed live much and what was your favourite gig to play at?

We are currently in the middle of a 15 date UK tour. Playing in Camden Town is always good. That’s like the UK version of the Sunset Strip in LA. Most gigs are great for us. Percy’s in Whitchurch is a great venue. It’s an antique place so there are strange things all over the venue. Really cool.

5. What is the best thing about being in a band?

The ability to express art through music. When I’m not composing or touring I feel lost. It’s very important to create. It’s great to know that people like the music too and that our songs will be around forever. Even if it’s only on a small scale.

6. What plans have you got coming up this year?

We will finish our UK dates and hopefully get some dates in other countries. We would love to go to Japan and the USA. We are also writing our second album so pretty much repeating what we have done in the last two years.

The Sourheads

To find out more about The Sourheads, check them out at www.thesourheads.com

If you’re in a band or a musician and would like to appear on this blog, use the Contact Form and I’ll forward you an interview template.

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Review: The Wombats at O2 Guildhall Southampton

This is a short and sweet review of a short and sweet performance. My overall feeling after watching The Wombats live was that I felt “So happy! So happy! So happy!” The band from Liverpool were energetic, lively, joyful and thoroughly entertaining.

A majority of the show was dedicated to their latest album Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life which was released back in February 2018. Unfortunately I had not listen to this album enough prior to the gig to fully enjoy and appreciate the tracks. However, the songs they did play were performed very well and encouraged me to listen to the album again over the weekend.

I would’ve liked to have heard more of their older tracks including Anti-D, Backfire at the Disco and A Perfect Disease. Moreover, I expected them to perform more tracks from their first album, A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, which celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 2017.

My highlight was definitely them singing my favourite old school tracks Kill the Director, Moving to New York and Let’s Dance to Joy Division. I was slightly dejected they did not close with Let’s Dance to Joy Division. Instead they sung that before the encore and closed with Greek Tragedy from their third album Glitterbug. On the plus side, they did bring on 5 wombat mascots who were dancing around the stage and was highly amusing!

I also admired the colourful lighting on stage and enjoyed the animated graphics on the big screen. At some points the graphics were quite hypnotic, especially the lemons charging up a road when they performed Lemons to a Knife Fight.

And finally, I can’t finish without mentioning the lovely company spent with the bestie. I hope you enjoyed your Christmas present and thank you for accompanying me! 😍😀🎸🎵🎶❤️

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Review: Thirty Seconds To Mars at The O2

After an extremely long 115 day wait, I finally begun my 2018 gig campaign. First stop, Thirty Seconds To Mars at The O2. It was filled with a lot of singing and a lot of jumping (well shaking in my wheelchair!) The show was jam-packed with raving rifts, booming bass, dexterous drumming and vibrant vocals throughout.

They performed songs from their third (and my favourite) album, This Is War, their fourth album Love, Lust, Faith & Dreams, The Kill from their second album A Beautiful Lie and a few tracks from their upcoming new album America.

I enjoyed Shannon Leto’s creative and artistic drumming, particularly when playing Search and Destroy, Night of the Hunter and their new single Dangerous Night. Plus I admired Jared Leto’s (Shannon’s younger brother) powerful and strong singing voice, particularly throughout Stay (which I later found out was a Rihanna cover), a track from their new album called Rider and City of Angels. In addition, while performing City of Angels, I loved watching all the phone torch lights glow and flash throughout the arena.

When the band sung This Is War, I was slightly disappointed that they did not follow up with 100 Suns like they do on the album. Another minor criticism was the special guests they had. I paid to see a rock concert and half way through the gig they brought on a pop star by the name of RAYE and a rapper called AJ Tracey. I’m all for support acts and special guests, but not ones that have no relevance to the genre I’m here to watch. When Jared said special guest, I was hoping for someone like Brian May, Dave Grohl or Matt Bellamy!

My ultimate highlight was joining in with the crowd, singing all the acapella parts. In their third album, This Is War, they got a crowd to sing parts to be recorded onto the album. Throughout the years of listening to that album, I’ve dreamt of being in that crowd. Now a decade on, I’ve finally got that opportunity. Moreover, there are no actual lyrics to learn, just a lot of “ooooos” and “aaaaaas” so it is easy for anyone to sing along.

The ending was really good but not what I was expecting. I initially thought they would close with the singles Kings and Queens and This Is War. Instead they performed the first single from their new album Walk On Water and then finished with Closer to the Edge. When listening to the lyrics of Closer to the Edge, I realised why they closed with this track. In the chorus, there is the line “one day, maybe we’ll meet again”. Then in the middle eight there are the lines “I will never forget, I will never regret, I will live my life”. Personally, I believe these words signify that hopefully one day we will see Thirty Seconds To Mars live again and that we, the audience, will never forget this night, never regret attending and now will go on and live our lives.

Just before they performed Closer to the Edge, an incredible thing happened. Jared Leto begun inviting people from the crowd onto the stage. Normally this would be a few people from the first and second row in the standing area. However Jared invited people from all sections of the arena; even the disabled section! Yes I’m sure you’re wondering if I was one of the lucky few. Well I’m sorry to say I was not. Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve loved it, but I was at the back of the arena, it would’ve taken me a lifetime to get on the stage and I don’t think my Dad would’ve had the bravery to come on with me. But the fact Jared Leto thought of disabled people in the audience was a very proud and moving moment. Moreover, there was a guy in a banana outfit who did appear on stage which was highly amusing.

Lastly, and somewhat unfortunately, I do need to end on a rant. I can definitely say the performance was amazing! However there were issues prior to the show. On my tickets it said to be there for 18:30. Normally this means the doors will open and the show will begin around 19:30 – 20:00. We arrived at 18:15, found somewhere to have a quick bite to eat and use the restroom. We then found our seats and settled in around 19:30. We then ended up sat there until 21:00! Prior to gigs, there is a playlist playing through the venue speakers. A majority of the time the playlists would have songs related to the live acts genre. However, a majority of this playlist had pop and rap music I’ve never heard of. The only decent tracks were Last Night by The Strokes, Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes, Dare by Gorillaz and Thirty Seconds To Mars’s own track Walk On Water. In addition, half way through this extremely long wait, adverts appeared on the big screen; one for sport bras, one for police sunglasses and some backstage clips from a past Thirty Seconds To Mars show. I thought it was very random and annoying that this wasn’t shown before the show began rather than 30 minutes before. It gave the audience false hope that the gig was about to start. I think lots of people, myself included, were getting quite irritable an hour and a half later. I would rather they put on the ticket the doors open at 20:00 or include the exact times performance(s) will start so we can plan our evenings and go enjoy a three course meal rather than three slices of pizza then sit waiting for 90 minutes!

Thirty Seconds To Mars’s new album America is released on 6th April 2018

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Top tips for booking accessible tickets at live music events

Last weeks blog, I discussed the difficulties and barriers of booking accessible tickets at gigs. This week I want to share my top tips on how to discover when events happen, how to research accessible facilities and how to book tickets:

1. Discovering tour dates of bands & artists

The key to finding live dates is subscribing to mailing lists and following bands and artists on social media. You will receive emails with tour dates and information when tickets are scheduled to be released. You can add yourself to mailing lists on particular musician’s websites and you can subscribe to ticket selling site’s mailing lists. The best ones to use are:

  • Ticketmaster

  • See Tickets

  • The Ticket Factory

  • Ticketweb

  • BH Live

  • AXS

In addition, Ticketmaster can send you ticket alerts for specific artists. For example, you want to know when Muse are next playing. Simply type “Muse” in the Ticketmaster search bar, then select “Get Ticket Alerts”, then when the band announce upcoming dates, you will receive an email giving those gig dates, the venues and release dates.

You can also find your favourite artists on social media. If you Like a band or artist on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter, then allow their posts to be shown on your news feed. When a tour is announced, an advert for it will appear on their timeline.

2. Finding out how to book accessible tickets

Once you’ve decided which event to attend, you need to find out how to book accessible tickets. The way I’ve done it is find the event on Ticketmaster, select it, then click on “accessibility” with a disabled sign on it. At this point, it should give you the contact details of where to book tickets. Most places have a telephone number. Some venues, such as The O2, have a dedicated accessible booking line. Others, like BH Live, who cover Bournemouth & Portsmouth, may ask you to join an access scheme before booking tickets. Whereas smaller venues may not provide accessible tickets and you just purchase standard tickets. If the information is not available here, go to the venue’s website and check their FAQ’s. If their website is unhelpful, phone or email their customer service team who can provide you information on their accessibility facilities. Make sure you do all this before tickets go on sale.

3. Booking the tickets

Before the general sale date, double check what time they are released. On release date, make sure you know how and where to book, have the phone number or website at the ready and your payment card. As soon as the clock strikes release time, begin booking. In most cases there will be a queue so patients is important. At the end of the day, it is first come, first serve, so the sooner you book, the luckier the chance of securing tickets.

4. Disability evidence

When booking accessible tickets, you are very likely to be asked to provide evidence of your disability. You can be asked to do this either before purchasing tickets, before being sent the tickets or bring the evidence to the event. A majority of the time they’ll ask for it before sending the tickets. For most major festivals, you purchase a standard ticket then they send you an access application pack a few months before the event. Once they’ve received it, many venues will keep the evidence for future reference, so if you attend their venue again they will automatically have your proof of disability. Evidence they can accept include:

• DLA/PIP or equivalent

• Medical professional’s letter

• D/deaf or blind registration

• The Access Card or equivalent

5. Never give up

There will be occasions you will miss out on tickets. This doesn’t mean you will never get a chance to see that band or artist live. There is hope they could add dates to their tour, do another tour later on in the year or appear at festivals. Plus musicians do play more than one tour throughout their career, so you could be lucky to see your favourite band or artist perform live at multiple events. For instance, I’ve seen Bastille 4 times, Muse, Kasabian, Royal Blood and Courteeners twice and about to see Foo Fighters for the third time this June.

If you would like to read more about my booking experiences the go to The mission of booking accessible tickets.

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The mission of booking accessible tickets

I love going to gigs and festivals. I live my life for them. It brings magical, spectacular, incredible, amazing, explosive and memorising feelings and emotions. But to gain these experiences, there is one battle every disabled music lover faces; booking accessible tickets!

For instance, just today, I tried booking tickets for Queen + Adam Lambert at the O2 in London. I checked days in advanced for the general sale date and time, woke up at a reasonable time, got my phone out and pressed call at 9am on the dot. I then was told the lines are extremely busy and to call back later and it hung up. Yes I know they’re busy and Queen are one of the biggest bands in the world, but there is no need to hang up on me. Why can’t they let everyone join the queue and get a chance, then if the gig is sold out, tell us and we’ll leave the queue.

I know the O2 do have a way for people to book accessible tickets online now. However, with my poor sight, it would take me twice as long and by the time I find the correct page, seats and put in my card details, all the tickets maybe sold out anyway.

Also I had a prior engagement this morning so did not have time to continuously keep calling. After having care, I phoned again 30 minutes later and an automated message said the gig is sold out. Therefore I have been unsuccessful this time.

I have experienced similar incidents like this booking tickets at the O2. In 2016, I tried booking Green Day tickets for a gig date in March 2017. I was on hold 2 hours. When I finally got through to an agent, they said it was sold out. Why not make an automated message announcing this 2 hours ago? Another occasion, Foo Fighters had announced a date at the O2 in September 2017. I heard on the radio they were giving away tickets. I tried entering twice and no luck. I thought general sale would be a day or two later at 9am like most ticket releases. Apparently not in this case. It turned out they were on general sale at 4pm on the same day as the radio’s competition. I was unable to try book then as I was at a hospital appointment.

Most recently, I tried booking tickets for Jeff Lynn’s ELO. I phoned the O2 accessible booking line at 9m exactly, on hold 10 minutes to then be told they are already sold out. I was shocked by how quick they sold out. Luckily the band added extra dates and managed to purchase tickets second time round. If all bands and artists added several dates to a venue it would make booking gigs slightly easier.

On the positive side of the O2 Arena, they have a dedicated booking line for people who require accessible needs. Whereas some other venues do not have that service and just have the general booking lines.

In some smaller venues, such as Portsmouth Pyramids, The Wedgewood Rooms and O2 Academy Bournemouth, they do not have particular disabled seating or PA/Carer tickets. You basically book the number of general tickets then contact the venue nearer the event date to organise a PA/Carer entry. There are no chairs at these venues (unless requested) and no wheelchair parking areas. So you just stand amongst the crowd. I prefer this myself as you feel part of the crowd. Plus I can raise my chair up so I’m at the same level as the rest of the audience.

Another issue I sometimes occurred when booking accessible tickets is allowing more than one able-bodied person join me. At a gig in 2015 at the Genting Arena in Birmingham, we had 7 of us going. When booking the tickets, I explained to the operator I would have 6 people accompanying me and can we sit together. The operator said they would make it possible. However when we arrived at the event, I had to sit in the wheelchair section with one person and everyone else was standing on the ground floor. The is the same problem at O2 Guildhall in Southampton. I’m due to see The Wombats there next month with my best friend but I’m only allowed one person with me. So my PA will have to drop us off and wait for us.

Last year I booked tickets to see The Kooks at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. When booking this one, they said they do not provide PA/Carer tickets which I thought was ridiculous. So instead I had to purchase a total of 3 tickets; for me, my friend and my PA.

Surprisingly booking festivals is an easier process. You book your general ticket first then a few months later you ask for an access application pack and tell them what access requirements you’ll need (e.g PA/Carer, viewing platform and accessible camping).

There are so many different ways to book accessible tickets and every venue has different access requirements. My dream would be to have a national booking line which can book any event in the country and all venues have the accessible requirements available. Also every venue should have seats that can be removed so a wheelchair user can sit anywhere within the venue rather than in allocated disabled seats.

What experiences have you had with accessible gigs and festivals? Share your thoughts in the comments box or on social media.

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My top 10 favourite rock tracks

I’ve always enjoyed music growing up. Throughout my childhood I enjoyed a variety of different styles and genres; from pop, to dance and even a bit of rap. When I got to my teenage years, I finally discovered my true love – Rock!

I love everything about rock; the guitars, the drums, the vocal types and the lyrics in songs. I like a variety of general rock, hard rock, alternative rock, indie, folk, singer/songwriters and pop-rock. In my rock playlist alone I have over 2000 tracks with more still to add and discover.

After careful consideration, I would like to share my Top 10 favourite rock tracks:

10. Weight of Living Pt. II – Bastille

I begin my countdown with an album track from alternative rock British band Bastille. Weight of Living Pt. II actually appears before Pt. I, in their debut album Bad Blood, which I always found slightly odd. Despite this, it was the lyrics that caught my ears and I could relate to the feelings expressed in the song. It looks at how when you’re a child your dream of growing up but as soon as you do, you feel time is passing too quickly and adult life isn’t what you’d hope it would be and you have to try accept it for what it is.

9. The Ones That I Love – Twin Atlantic

This track is an intro piece from Scottish rock band Twin Atlantic’s second album Great Divide. It is a stripped back piece of piano and vocals. The song is about how the youth of today are struggling to be heard by other generations and they wish could speak to the loves one who have passed away. I particularly like this track for the line “Music is my therapy, I could listen to it all night long”. I can relate to this as I find music a source of therapy as it can bring calmness, relaxation, understanding, enjoyment and happiness.

8. Mr Brightside – The Killers

This has to be the greatest song ever recorded by Las Vegas indie group, The Killers. It’s the perfect sing along rock track at gigs and festivals. The guitars, drums and vocals are marvellous. I do have to thank my former roommate from school for introducing me to this talented band and to this incredible genre.

7. It’s My Life – Bon Jovi

I first fell in love with this song at a school disco when I was 15. The guitars are really strong and the lyrics are powerful. This song influences me to enjoy life as much as possible and should achieve all my hopes, dreams and goals as life is too short to waste. I should make the most of being alive while I still can.

6. Welcome to The Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

This track is like a musical story with a beginning, middle and end. It opens with the piano and marching like vocals. It then builds into a rock middle and climaxes with the marching drums. It is great for singing, air guitaring, air drumming and head banging too. I could imagine it appearing in a West End show one day.

5. Sk8er Boi – Avril Lavigne

This track is a bit of a curve ball but I still love it and brought me many childhood memories. Yes it’s classed as a pop song but it has guitars and drums and it is about a rock star so for me it is still in my top 10 favourite rock tracks. It has great guitar riffs, a good drum beat and easy sing along lyrics. As a child I remember creating dance routines to this and surprisingly still remember the moves today.

4. Knights of Cydonia – Muse

I have one word to describe this song – Epic! Great build up, amazing guitar riffs, outstanding drumming and memorising vocals. A good solid head bang, jump up and down mosh-pit rock song. Not bad for three guys from Devon.

3. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen

Embarrassingly I first discovered this song on The X Factor when I was 10 years old when another 4-piece band called G4 performed it. I later found out it was known to be one of the greatest songs created by one of the greatest British rock bands of all time. In 2017, it was voted as the Best British song ever by Radio X listeners (including myself). The song is a masterpiece. It has everything you would want in a rock song and more. Plus it holds personal value as it glued the friendship of an awesome person I met at college and later the song became the key in me becoming her bridesmaid at her wedding in 2015.

2. Run – Snow Patrol

Although this song is tinted with sadness, it is also filled with love. It is about having to say goodbye to someone you love but will promise to always stand by them. I love the rhythm, the melody and the beautiful use of language in their lyrics. This song has a special place in my heart as this Irish band is also my Dad’s favourite band and I got the chance to take him to one of their gigs back in 2012. It was a memorable night and a rare moment to spend quality Father and daughter time together.

1. Best Of You – Foo Fighters

And finally, my number one spot goes to the Gods of Rock – Foo Fighters! I only begun to like them in 2011 after watching them perform on TV. A year later I got the chance to watch them headline at Reading Festival. That was the night I fell in immediate love with this song and became my favourite live band. The middle eight where everybody sings the “woooaaa” parts in acapella unison is just magical. It is a positive, electrifying, perfect rock track! I’ve been lucky enough to see them perform for a second time in Milton Keynes and due to see them this year at the London Stadium.

There are so many more bands and artist I would love to include such as Green Day, Biffy Clyro, Paramore, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Jake Bugg … the list could go on!

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