I Love Manchester

“Following last month’s tragic incident, and the subsequent temporary closure of the main area outside the venue, Blink-182’s forthcoming concert on Friday 14 July will no longer be able to take place here at Manchester Arena.
We apologise for not being able to stage this event and for the inconvenience caused to Blink-182’s Manchester fans.
Blink-182 have announced that they will play Manchester Castlefield Bowl on Friday 14th July 2017. This show replaces their cancelled concert at Manchester Arena on the same date.”


I have not attended a gig since before the events of 22nd May 2017. The last gig I went to was Maximo Park at Albert Hall on 19th May, just days before that awful night. Although I was not at the Arena when the attack took place, this was something that shook our entire city, our home, my home.

I have been lucky enough to attend concerts at many venues over the years. I was around 4 years old at my first ever concert at G-Mex (Manchester Central), and I was 7 years old when I went to my first gig at Manchester Arena, or as we knew it back then, “Nynex”.

I hold many of Manchester’s venues dear, and the Arena is one of those places. No matter who you’re about to watch, as soon as you walk through those doors into the dark it takes hold of you. It’s so exciting! It’s part of what makes going to live gigs and events so special. No matter your age, taste, colour, background or beliefs, there is something for everyone, not just at the Arena but in all our live venues. That’s part of what made 22nd May 2017 even more devastating; thousands of young people with friends and relatives just having the best time, unaware and oblivious that their lives were about to be cruelly snatched away from them so fast. However, we must all keep going to these events, keep enjoying ourselves, and most importantly, keep on living!


I recall some of my favourite concerts at Manchester Arena, and there have been so many… Roger Waters, Electric Light Orchestra, Foo Fighters, Arcade Fire, Fleetwood Mac, The Who, Arctic Monkeys, Kings of Leon, Slipknot, Give It A Name Festival 2006, and to bring me to my next gig (while also being fond memory) – Blink-182.


As the message at the start of this post reads, Blink-182 will now be performing their show at Castlefield Bowl tomorrow evening. I have not been there for a gig since d:percussion in 2006! Castlefield Bowl has hosted some absolutely outstanding acts recently; James, Blossoms, Arcade Fire to name but a few, and I’m sure Blink will not let us down!

Blink-182 are without Tom DeLonge, which for some people may be a positive thing, but I’ve always adored Tom and his instantly recognisable tones… (“WHERRREEEE ARRRRREEEE YOUUUUUU?!” If you know, you know…!) However, I’m really looking forward to hearing them perform with Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio, and I’ve definitely enjoyed their new music together so far.


Blink-182 fill me with nostalgia. I’ve listened to them since I was around 12 or 13 years old after listening to their songs mostly via The Mark, Tom and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back). I can’t wait to see them again and I hope to hear some of my old favourites.

Anyway, I highly doubt that I will be in a position to write a post-gig review after tomorrow night… I’ve invested in a hip flask…!

I will leave you all with two YouTube links. The first is one of my favourite Blink songs… the second video is for all those who were affected either directly or indirectly by the events on 22nd May 2017 at Manchester Arena. Tony Walsh’s poem, “This Is The Place”.

I love Manchester.

Blink-182 – “Aliens Exist” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=672WYeU1f4U
Tony Walsh – “This Is The Place” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r0L3VjkFsc


Vukovi at Sound Control, Manchester

20170313_213052 (2)

Scottish four-piece rock outfit Vukovi are without doubt one of the most exciting bands around right now and are touring their debut new self-titled album across the UK.

Vukovi have been working extremely hard on their new album and that is evident as soon as you hear it, whether you’ve bought the record or have been lucky enough to hear them perform it live. The noisy pop/rock show went down a treat at Sound Control in Manchester this week. Plus, the band were able to play in the bigger room upstairs due to a PA failure in the small room downstairs, but this just made it all the better.

Their music at times can be reminiscent of the likes of No Doubt fused with Incubus, with a flicker of Foals. They have an eclectic mix of rock, pop and even a little trance, and this blends brilliantly for an all-round live show that was enjoyable all the way through.

The gig began with the track “La Di Da” which was a superb way to open the show, with a pounding bassline and lyrics full of attitude. Right away the guitars and vocals blew the audience away, and it was LOUD! This set the tone for the evening ahead, following on with “Weirdo”. This is quite an upbeat, poppy track but the instrumentation and vocals again just continued to flow, totally saturating the crowd, it sounded immense. Janine got the audience involved, taking an enthusiastic fan’s mobile phone in her hand to film the band on stage live which was a great touch, giving it a more intimate feel despite being in the larger room.

“And He Lost His Mind” has a fast punk vibe and the build-up to the chorus was great, with the punchy bassline, heavy riffs and a combination of delicate vocals in the verse to the potent chorus melodies.

Before the album came out, Vukovi had released a number of singles, and the next song, “Bouncy Castle” was one. This got the crowd jumping, just like being on a bouncy castle, and with some more onstage phone filming from Janine there were certainly a few more happy fans!


The middle of the set consisted of songs such as “Prey”, “Wander” and “He Wants Me Not”. There was that cosy feeling whereby you felt close to the band, particularly in “He Wants Me Not”; Janine asked the crowd to get their mobile phones out and shine their lights and the crowd duly obliged. The catchy, well-played guitar riffs were still consistent throughout the middle of the gig with excellent drumming in the backdrop, all topped off with Janine’s powerful voice.

A song which struck a chord was the beautiful “Colour Me In”. This could be classed as a love song, maybe even a bit of a ballad. Regardless, it is a stunning track from the new album and it sounded just sublime in a live setting.

The last few songs of the set were just supreme, from the Enter Shikari trance-style tones of “I’m Wired” to one of my favourites, “Animal”. The crowd interaction with the band was loads of fun throughout the whole show, but the band and crowd were perfectly coordinated in simultaneously pulling shapes with their arms in the air for“Animal”.

The show concluded with “Boy George”, which was also released as a single before the album. This song just emits attitude, with fast, punky upbeat riffs and lyrics with intent and demeanor.

Vukovi are an electrifying rock band who are all incredibly, individually musically talented which makes them such a great act live. Their debut album is well-produced and I loved it from start to finish. It’s great to finally hear their album in full as I have been listening to them over and over since I stumbled across this band for the first time in May 2016. This was an even better gig than I’d expected, and I’ll be making a conscious effort to go and watch them again at Y Not Festival in July!


La Di Da
And He Lost His Mind
Bouncy Castle
So Long Gone
He Wants Me Not
Colour Me In
I’m Wired
Target Practice
Boy George

Listen to “Animal” by Vukovi here on the official YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1TgTVXEpYQ

Sundara Karma at Albert Hall, Manchester

Sundara Karma Albert Hall Manchester
Sundara Karma at Albert Hall, Manchester

Sundara Karma are one of the UK’s most talented indie bands around on the scene right now, so it was a pleasure to go and catch their gig at the Albert Hall in Manchester last Thursday evening. This four-piece band formed in Reading when they were only 14 years old, which makes me feel rather old as this time seven years ago I was still a 20 year old university student! Needless to say, despite feeling like a senior member of the audience, it was exciting to finally hear their debut album “Youth Is Only Ever Fun In Retrospect” performed live at a sold out show.

This debut album cultivates all those feelings you have as a youngster, perhaps while going through your formative years. But, even at 27 it’s just so easy to listen to. Nevertheless, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this gig even after listening to this album plenty of times. I was also unfortunate enough to miss their set at Y Not Festival in 2016 (but not this year, I’ll be sure to see them again this time around).

The opening track of their live set was “A Young Understanding”, one of the first Sundara Karma songs I heard while browsing Spotify last year. This was a superb show opener to rally up the crowd. This was followed by what has been described in an interview with Clash Magazine as ‘maybe all-round our favourite track as a band’, “Olympia”. Its shimmering guitars, raw vocals and punchy chorus stood out brilliantly.

Sundara Karma continued the set with further stand-out singles and tracks such as “Flame”, “She Said”, “Vivienne” and of course “Happy Family”. Sundara Karma are probably right in their recent Facebook post claiming “Jesus would’ve been a fan of balloons” because the roof of the Albert Hall was raised even more when their big balloons entered the crowd!

As the gig came to an end, Sundara Karma performed an unlikely yet blistering cover of “Never Too Much” originally sang by Luther Vandross, a song that you just can’t help but dance to. The final song of the set was “Loveblood”, all hands went up in the air and mobile phone cameras were all taken out quickly to capture photos and videos. This last song is one of the band’s most well-known singles, and it’s that kind of colourful, vibrant indie track that stays in your head long after the gig has ended.

The Albert Hall was a superb venue choice for Sundara Karma, the music sounded excellent and the entire show was memorable, but most of all it left you feeling good when you walked out. Sundara Karma will be performing at various festivals this summer, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them again.


A Young Understanding
Watching From Great Heights
Lose The Feeling
She Said
Indigo Puff
The Night
Happy Family
Never Too Much (Luther Vandross Cover)

Listen to “Loveblood” by Sundara Karma on their official YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDLWI3VQb40

Image credit @sundarakarma official Twitter – https://twitter.com/sundarakarma

Taking Back Sunday at O2 Ritz, Manchester

Tidal Wave album cover
Tidal Wave Album

Consisting of various band members since establishing themselves on the post hardcore / screamo circuit in New York over fifteen years ago, Adam Lazzara, Eddie Reyes, John Nolan, Shaun Cooper and Mark O’Connell came back to Manchester to grace the stage at the O2 Ritz. Many of us, myself included, probably first embraced Taking Back Sunday in the mid-noughties, particularly after the band received great success after releasing “Where You Want To Be”, which was the band’s second studio album. Now, in 2017 they’re back and touring their most recent release, “Tidal Wave”.

Taking Back Sunday started out with “Death Wolf”, the first track on the new album to get the crowd going with pop-punk style guitars and pounding drums. Lazzara’s vocals sounded just as good as ever before, singing with passion and fervour. They followed on with an excellent mix of songs taken from “Louder Now”, “Tell All Your Friends”, “Where You Want To Be” and “Happiness Is”, as well as “Tidal Wave” evidently.

Hearing real crowd-pleasing tracks that have been firm favourites for Taking Back Sunday fans over the years was akin to being transported back in time to our youth. From “Liar (It Takes One To Know One)” and “A Decade Under The Influence”, to the incredibly dark but catchy “Stood a Chance”, and the even more sombre “Better Homes and Gardens” from “Happiness Is”, the track selection delighted the somewhat varied audience of fans old and new.

The set came to a close with two songs which just could not be omitted; “Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)”, and finally, “MakeDamnSure”. The final song is still the most successful song to date by Taking Back Sunday, and still resonates with the audience over a decade after it was first released. Plus, many of us will never tire of Lazzara’s ability to swing a microphone like no other.

As someone who has followed the music releases of Taking Back Sunday since around 2004 at the tender age of 15, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of their show at The O2 Ritz in Manchester. It’s safe to say that the Ritz’s springboard dancefloor works perfectly for a rock gig like this one.


Death Wolf
Liar (It Takes One To Know One)
You Can’t Look Back
Timberwolves at New Jersey
What’s It Feel Like To Be A Ghost?
A Decade Under The Influence
All Excess
Error: Operator
You’re So Last Summer
Flicker, Fade
Call Come Running
You Know How I Do
Stood A Chance
Better Homes and Gardens
Tidal Wave
My Blue Heaven
Cute Without The “E” (Cut From The Team)

Hear “Tidal Wave” by Taking Back Sunday here on the official YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_csSRZdo34g

Vaults at The Deaf Institute, Manchester

Formed in 2013, Vaults are an electronic trio hailing from Hertfordshire and South London and are currently touring their debut album “Caught In Still Life”. Known for tracks such as “One Last Night” which starred in the huge Hollywood hit film Fifty Shades of Grey, and more recently a cover of “One Day I’ll Fly Away” on the John Lewis Christmas advert of 2016, Vaults are becoming even more successful.

First up on stage at the Deaf Institute, a Grade II-listed beautiful and quaint Manchester venue, was Hannah Peel. Born in Northern Ireland but speaking softly in a subtle South Yorkshire accent, she took to the stage and blew us away. From the incredibly upbeat show-starter “All That Matters” to a stunning cover of “Cars In The Garden” by Paul Buchanan of The Blue Nile, Hannah Peel brought back memories of some of Imogen Heap’s very early work. Peel used just her voice and a music box to perform “Cars In The Garden”, and this was one of the most captivating moments of the set. In what was a completely solo performance using various instruments from synths to the violin, Peel demonstrated real, genuine talent.

Hannah Peel

Next up were headline act, Vaults. Beginning with “Cry No More”, this was the track that lifted the band after it received over 100,000 plays in just a week on SoundCloud when first uploaded in 2015. The song captured the audience right away from the mesmerising glockenspiel intro, to Blythe’s vocals all combined with superb musical layering.

Vaults Live 1
Vaults at Deaf Institute

A full one-hour set followed, including stand-out tracks such as “Premonitions”, “Lifespan”, “One Last Night”, and “Hurricane”. I was taken aback by the sheer musical ability overall as well as Blythe’s strong, sometimes eerie melodies throughout the show. The performance was emotive and it was evident in the reaction of the audience, with each and every single person taking it all in.

Vaults Live 2

As the band were only on a small stage there was no need for a real encore where everyone wanders backstage to come back minutes later. As such, Vaults continued with the amazing “Midnight River”, a soulful, energetic number with a great hook, and most likely a firm favourite for the audience. The final song of the night was “Blood Flow”, offering a vibrant end to the night with pounding percussion.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable sell-out show at one of Manchester’s finest indie venues. For avid fans or for people with no prior knowledge of their music, Vaults certainly left an impression.

Cry No More
One Last Night
Mend This Love
The Valley
Midnight River
Blood Flow

Check out Vaults – Midnight River here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Hz5-i51Khg

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