Thursday, 21 August 2014

Live review: Sheppard at Camden Barfly, Wednesday 20th August 2014

Every once in a while I'll watch a band live who are quite clearly on the cusp of international stardom. Last night's Camden Barfly gig from Australian indie-pop sextet Sheppard was a fine example of this. The Australian band, which is comprised of siblings George, Amy and Emma Sheppard as well as Jay Bovino, Dean Gordon and Michael Butler, have already taken Australia by storm with their cheery brand of folky pop, and it's fair to say I haven't seen a happier and more down to earth band perform live for a long time. 



The set, their first sell out headline show in the UK, comprised of 12 songs including the majority of debut album Bombs Away, although sadly not the gorgeous Lingering, one of my favourites from the album. Hold My Tongue, a track from last year's Sheppard EP, and due to appear on the UK deluxe edition of the album scheduled for release in October, opened the show. A typical example of the jaunty strummers that the band are perhaps best known for, it was a confident singalong that could have been straight out of a 90s surf movie. 

The delightful tropical pop of Smile, with the fantastic green-haired Amy Sheppard on lead vocals, continued this theme, and current single Something's Missing was up third. A gorgeous mid-tempo song with effective vocals, strong verses and a memorable chorus, it's hard to understand why this song failed to light up the charts in Australia when it was released a couple of months ago. Perhaps too slow for fans of Geronimo? These People was up next, not perhaps an album highlight but decent nonetheless.

The first song I ever heard from the band was Let Me Down Easy, early last year. I stumbled across it on their Soundcloud page and promptly bought the parent EP. Simply one of the most infectious songs of the last few years, it's the sort of song that McFly might have released at the peak of their career. To the band's delight, a substantial amount of the crowd seemed to know the song and were happily singing along to every word.

Another Amy-led album track, the more sultry pop of This Electric Feeling, was up next and preceded a trio of strong highlights for me that kicked off with Find Someone, which George Sheppard said that the band don't often play live due to the presence of the 'F' word in the chorus. An angsty song, it made for a great rocky performance from the band. 

This was followed by A Grade Playa. Beady-eyed readers of this blog might have noticed that the song has been at the top of my weekly chart for the last five weeks, and it absolutely stood out live. Amy shines more than ever on this powerful ode to a cheating ex. Quite possibly my favourite song of the year, it's pop perfection; brilliant pop meets dubstep (popstep?) production, soaring vocals, an unexpected and incredibly well executed key change and some of the most gorgeous harmonies I've ever heard on record, which the band pulled off impeccably live. 'Go on, go on, go on, go on, be gone' indeed!



Shine My Way was another excellent singalong, with George Sheppard showing off the more relaxed side of his vocal range. The song is from the soundtrack to The Giver and will also feature on the UK deluxe edition of Bombs Away. The only song of the night that I wasn't familiar with was Free, which was again very good.

The highlight of the show was probably always destined to be the monster Australian chart topper Geronimo, which is sure to go global any day now. One of the most instant songs of 2014, it wears its folk influences on its sleeve but is still an instant pop classic. From the 'say geronimo' chant of the chorus through to Amy's 'bombs away' ad-libs that contrast George's fantastic 'can you feeeeee-eeee-eeeel my love' falsetto, it's the perfect package and works as both a radio hit and a fantastic live showpiece. Nevertheless, I hope that this song doesn't overshadow their future career because they deserve to be a lot more than a one hit wonder.

Album track Halfway To Hell rounded off the evening in a brilliantly energetic style and left the crowd wanting more, and no doubt Sheppard will be back before long and performing to much bigger crowds. Bombs Away is without doubt one of the finest pop albums of the last few years. A grab bag of various genres but it never feels as if it was thrown together randomly. Each song tells a tale and features the band's inherent pop sound, but is accompanied by a more indie, electronic or folky feel depending on the song in question. 

Sheppard are made for the stage. They ooze happiness, joy and talent and are about to hit the stratosphere, and deservedly so.



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 18/8/14

Top 10 Singles



1. Sheppard - A Grade Playa (1) (CR-1-1-1-1-1)
2. Idina Menzel - Let It Go (3) (CR-9-4-3-2)
3. Sheppard - Lingering (2) (CR-8-2-2-3)
4. Lilly Wood & The Prick And Robin Schulz - Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix) (8) (CR-7-OUT-9-5-7-8-4)
5. Sheppard - Geronimo (5) (CR-7-OUT-5-2-3-5-5)
6. Ed Sheeran - Don't (Re-entry) (CR-7-3-4-6-8-OUT-6)
7. Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj - Bang Bang (4) (CR-8-4-7)
8. Kristen Bell, Agatha Lee Monn & Katie Lopez - Do You Want To Bulid A Snowman? (NEW) (CR-8)
9. G.R.L. - Ugly Heart (10) (CR-10-9)
10. Kristen Bell & Idina Menzel - For The First Time In Forever (NEW) (CR-10)

Top 10 Albums



1. Sheppard - Bombs Away (1) (CR-1-1-1-1-1)
2. The Saturdays - Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits (NEW) (CR-2)
3. Ed Sheeran - x (3) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3)
4. Frozen (Original Motion Picture Soundtack) (NEW) (CR-4)
5. The Arrows - Disaster Queen (2) (CR-2-5)
6. Freemasons - Shakedown 3 (NEW) (CR-6)
7. The Common Linnets - The Common Linnets (5) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-5-7)
8. Porter Robinson - Worlds (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear (7) (CR-2-4-6-6-7-9)
10. Pixie Lott - Pixie Lott (4) (CR-4-10)

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 11/8/14

Top 10 Singles



1.
Sheppard - A Grade Playa (1) (CR-1-1-1-1)

2. Sheppard - Lingering (2) (CR-8-2-2)
3. Idina Menzel - Let It Go (4) (CR-9-4-3)
4. Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj - Bang Bang (8) (CR-8-4)
5. Sheppard - Geronimo (3) (CR-7-OUT-5-2-3-5)
6. The Arrows feat Sonny - Before It's Too Late (NEW) (CR-6)
7. Charli XCX - Boom Clap (5) (CR-5-7)
8. Lilly Wood & The Prick And Robin Schulz - Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix) (7) (CR-7-OUT-9-5-7-8)
9. MAGIC! - Rude (NEW) (CR-9)
10. G.R.L. - Ugly Heart (NEW) (CR-10)

Top 10 Albums




1.
Sheppard - Bombs Away (1) (CR-1-1-1-1)

2. The Arrows - Disaster Queen (NEW) (CR-2)
3. Ed Sheeran - x (2) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2-3)
4. Pixie Lott - Pixie Lott (NEW) (CR-4)
5. The Common Linnets - The Common Linnets (4) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-5)
6. Neon Jungle - Welcome To The Jungle (3) (CR-3-6)
7. Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear (6) (CR-2-4-6-6-7)
8. Now 88 (5) (CR-3-5-8)
9. Ward Thomas - From Where We Stand (7) (CR-5-7-9)
10. Clean Bandit - New Eyes (10) (CR-2-2-4-4-4-5-8-10-10-10)

Live review: Linda Bengtzing at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Friday 8th August 2014

With an already large and quickly growing contingent of Melodifestivalen fans in the UK, London's Royal Vauxhall Tavern was packed out last night as crowds flocked to see Swedish schlager superstar Linda Bengtzing as part of the Eurofest club night.

The 40-year-old legend reached the Melodifestivalen final with her first four entries, the legendary Alla Flickor (2005) and Jag Ljuger Så Bra (2006) and the energetic fan favourites Hur Svårt Kan Det Va? (2008) and E Det Fel Pa Mej (2011). Her 2014 effort, the rockier electro-popper Ta Mig, memorably fell in the fourth semi-final to Alcazar's Blame It On The Disco in a nail-biting 'direkt to final or bust' scenario. Nevertheless Linda wheeled all five of her Melodifestivalen entries out to a delighted crowd, with a surprising number singing along to every Swedish word. She even brought along her iconic costume from the Melodifestivalen performance of Alla Flickor!



Outside of the competition, Linda's other hits include a number of collaborations and with that in mind, she brought along a fantastic backing singer and duet partner named Christina Lootus. Christina treated the crowd to renditions of Swedish Eurovision winners Take Me To Your Heaven and Euphoria while Linda had a quick change mid-show out of her legendary orange threads and into something more casual.

Of the said duets, the first we got to hear was the incredible Värsta Schlagern, a famous Melodifestivalen parody that was a huge No.1 single in Sweden in 2007. Previously a duet with Markoolio, Christina filled his shoes admirably. The same can be said for her parts in the performances of Victorious, Linda's 2010 collaboration with Velvet, and Not That Kinda Girl, Linda's 2009 duet with Kim Lian. Both top drawer pop songs that I had admittedly forgotten about but rest assured I'll be dusting them both off to listen to on repeat all over again.



So a hit packed show and one with great energy and powerful vocals and stage presence, from both Linda and Christina, from start to finish. The pair seemed to be having such a fantastic time that they seemed reluctant to leave and treated the crowd to a couple of bonus songs after the official encore of Jag Ljuger Så Bra. A crowd-assisted singalong of Helena Paparizou's Eurovision winner My Number One and a reprise of E Det Fel På Mej rounded off the hour long schlager spectacular. 

A delight throughout, Linda was full of jokes and anecdotes for the crowd and showed off the fantastic personality that has made her so well loved in Sweden. It's a wonder that she's yet to finish above fifth in the Melodifestivalen final because she's the complete package; she has the voice, the personality, the sense of humour and the stage presence. Here's hoping that one day she'll follow in the footsteps of Sanna Nielsen and finally get her chance to shine on the main stage.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 4/8/14

Top 10 Singles



1. Sheppard - A Grade Playa (1) (CR-1-1-1)
2. Sheppard - Lingering (8) (CR-8-2)
3. Sheppard - Geronimo (2) (CR-7-OUT-5-2-3)
4. Idina Menzel - Let It Go (9) (CR-9-4)
5. Charli XCX - Boom Clap (NEW) (CR-5)
6. Sheppard - Something's Missing (3) (CR-9-8-6-3-6)
7. Lilly Wood & The Prick And Robin Schulz - Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix) (5) (CR-7-OUT-9-5-7)
8. Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj - Bang Bang (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Cheryl Cole feat Tinie Tempah - Crazy Stupid Love (7) (CR-7-9)
10. Colbie Caillat - Try (4) (CR-8-6-1-3-4-10)

Top 10 Albums



1. Sheppard - Bombs Away (1) (CR-1-1-1)
2. Ed Sheeran - x (2) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2-2)
3. Neon Jungle - Welcome To The Jungle (NEW) (CR-3)
4. The Common Linnets - The Common Linnets (4) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4)
5. Now 88 (3) (CR-3-5)
6. Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear (6) (CR-2-4-6-6)
7. Ward Thomas - From Where We Stand (5) (CR-5-7)
8. La Roux - Trouble In Paradise (7) (CR-7-8)
9. Cher Lloyd - Sorry I'm Late (NEW) (CR-9)
10. Clean Bandit - New Eyes (10) (CR-2-2-4-4-4-5-8-10-10)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Top 10 singles/albums - Week Beginning 28/7/14

Top 10 Singles



1.
Sheppard - A Grade Playa (1) (CR-1-1)

2. Sheppard - Geronimo (5) (CR-7-OUT-5-2)
3. Sheppard - Something's Missing (6) (CR-9-8-6-3)
4. Colbie Caillat - Try (3) (CR-8-6-1-3-4)
5. Lilly Wood & The Prick And Robin Schulz - Prayer In C (Robin Schulz Remix) (9) (CR-7-OUT-9-5)
6. The Madden Brothers - We Are Done (2) (CR-10-8-OUT-10-2-2-6)
7. Cheryl Cole feat Tinie Tempah - Crazy Stupid Love (NEW) (CR-7)
8. Sheppard - Lingering (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Idina Menzel - Let It Go (NEW) (CR-9)
10. Maroon 5 - Maps (NEW) (CR-10)

Top 10 Albums




1.
Sheppard - Bombs Away (1) (CR-1-1)

2. Ed Sheeran - x (2) (CR-1-1-1-1-2-2)
3. Now 88 (NEW) (CR-3)
4. The Common Linnets - The Common Linnets (3) (CR-1-1-1-1-1-2-2-3-3-3-4)
5. Ward Thomas - From Where We Stand (NEW) (CR-5)
6. Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear (4) (CR-2-4-6)
7. La Roux - Trouble In Paradise (NEW) (CR-7)
8. Miss 600 - Swing 'Ting (NEW) (CR-8)
9. Sanna Nielsen - 7 (6) (CR-2-4-6-9)
10. Clean Bandit - New Eyes (8) (CR-2-2-4-4-4-5-8-10)

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Eurovision party set to Brighton up the August bank holiday weekend!

Eurovision Central, collaborator and friend of PopLoveDance, is to host a Eurovision club night 'Wir Geben 'Ne Party' (named after Germany's seminal 1994 entry) in Brighton next month. 

Co-hosted by MDE Radio, the new club night will celebrate 40 years since ABBA won the contest with Waterloo in the seaside resort back in 1974.

The event will take place at The Latest Music Bar, Manchester Street, Brighton from 8pm-2am on Saturday 23rd August with tickets costing £5 in advance or £6 on the door. Tickets are available from www.thelatest.co.uk/musicbar and all profits will go to Brighton Rainbow Fund, which supports Brighton's LGBT groups.


DJ's on the night will include Kris & Dom, Mr D'Arcy and DJ Marcia, who will be spinning classic entries and remixes for six colourful hours!