Best. Valentine’s. Ever

You may or may not be aware, but last Saturday was Valentine’s day.

Don’t panic, I’m not going to go off on a romantic tangent about the as yet undiscovered love of my life or highlight why Valentine’s is the ultimate social construction designed to make the proletariat spend money. Instead I’m going to describe to you what I’d consider to be the best Valentine’s I’ve ever had. I spent it with one of my dear friends Katherine and 9 men. Oooh err, Lizzie, get in there! ;)

Relax, on Saturday night, I travelled an hour or so from Canterbury to the O2 Arena in London for one of the most eagerly anticipated tours of the year so far; the You Me At Six and All Time Low co-headline tour! When I told my house mate about this tour and how amazing it was to get two of my favourite bands in the world on one bill, he called it the rock version of the 2011-12 Kanye West and Jay-Z tour…he doesn’t understand my music but the sentiment is there.

The tour was a short 5 date affair hitting some of the biggest arenas in the country including the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff and the Birmingham LG arena and finishing in the O2 on the 14th of February.

From the pictures and comments I’ve seen on various social media sites, the other shows were as fantastic as the one I witnessed on Saturday.

Opening the show was Walk The Moon, a small four-piece from Ohio, who were completely pumped and unbelievably grateful to have been given the opportunity to play a venue with such prestige as the O2. They buzzed around the stage during their short 6 song set and interacted well with the audience who were gracious enough to give them the time of day considering that no one really cared much because what was to follow promised to be full of excitement. Realistically, it could’ve been the band that plays in the pub down the road from your house jumping around up there and people still would’ve been happy. But Walk The Moon entertained us well with an infectious mélange of pop and rock with a dash of gyrating hips courtesy of the front man Nick Petricca…seriously though, the guy has MOVES and his hips have their own twitter account!

I was already familiar with these guys and they did not disappoint! I first heard of them through a friend who sent me an acoustic version of their own song ‘Anna Sun’, which they played to end their set and which firmly set us on the road to good times.

After a short break, we were antsy for All Time Low and they took to the stage in a frenzy that has become synonymous with an ATL show. They jumped around, interacted well with the audience and made a lot of dick jokes. All Time Low have a really unique ability to be able to take one of the best songs from any of their albums and turn it into something even more powerful and fantastic. The example that immediately springs to mind is the song ‘Weightless’. This song is the ultimate pop-punk anthem and is the reason that I and I’m sure many other ATL fans got turned onto them in the first place. Now, on the record ‘Nothing Personal’, it’s a stand-out track and a real crowd pleaser. But on this particular night in the O2, Alex Gaskarth introduced the song saying that they wanted to try something new and what followed was magical. The song was given a new lease of life through a beautiful acoustic-sounding first verse until the chorus when it took off and became the song we all know and love. ‘Therapy’ was also an emotional highlight for me. This song was just Alex alone on the stage with his guitar, his voice and a spotlight. This song is stunning anyway, but between Alex and the audience (all of whom were singing along) the arena became one of those rare places where you really feel as though you’re in the centre of the world, where thousands of people are united and the room is pregnant with emotion. The phone lights were out looking like stars and Alex even said at one point ‘wow you guys are going to make me cry!’

All Time Low

All Time Low

However, this wasn’t the only such moment from the night. You Me At Six brought the whole of the feels parade and marched it around the arena so that there was not a soul in the whole place left unaffected by the emotion of the songs ‘Crash’ and ‘Fireworks’. These were just two of the highlights of YMAS’s extraordinary set. They’re blistering, powerful and take no prisoners as they command the stage and make the whole of the arena swirl like a living creature during songs like ‘Loverboy’ and the ferocious ‘Bite My Tongue’ . The jumping people down in the pit look fucking cool from above.

Every time I’ve seen YMAS live I’ve been staggered by how good they’ve been, and particularly on this occasion. You can really tell that they’re on the cusp of something huge and especially with the success of their latest album ‘Cavalier Youth’, you really get the sense that YMAS will continue to climb.

You Me At Six

You Me At Six

There are many points in the night in which we are reminded of the significance of such shows for both of these bands. Alex particularly highlights the hard work and dedication required of bands of the sizes of YMAS and ATL to make it into venues such as these in a world such as this where rock tends to be shoved to one side. He is right when he says that there is a core of huge bands who can get songs of the radio and play arena tours with complete ease (think Foo Fighters status) but for these comparatively young bands, the way is not paved in gold and they have to work incredibly hard for such opportunities. This evening was a display of the hard work and dedication of these bands and the shining future that lies ahead of them and hopefully the others alongside them charging down the bolted gates of the segregated compound to which they have been previously been designated. The musical revolution is coming.

Now playing: Mallory Knox – Heart & Desire

McBusted! Oh my goodness! 6/5/14

My name is Lizzie and I am a Busted fan.

Not just a fan, I’m a fan fan. Like other similarly inflicted late teens, I have all their albums (and by that I mean all two and the live CD and DVD). I know all the words…and the harmonies…and use different voices for Matt, Charlie and James. The James singing voice is BRILLIANT, isn’t it!

I saw them live in 2004 and I cried when they broke up in 2005…

Don’t lie, you cried when they broke up too, didn’t you?

I have met very few people in my nearly 20 years on this Earth who didn’t like Busted. They were the spark that started my, and probably many other teens’ love for music in later life and I am not ashamed to admit that. When they broke up, I had to latch on to something else and McFly were there in all their bad haired, bright t-shirted glory. I love them rather a lot too.

So understandably when the news of McBusted came out in 2013 I immediately shelled out some of my student loan on a precious ticket…I didn’t eat that week but I don’t mind because this Tuesday just gone (6th May), I went to Cardiff and experienced something indescribable.

It would always be a tough task for any support act at such an event, but the few bands supporting McBusted did surprisingly well with a restless audience who cared about nothing but the headline act. I have no idea who the first band we saw were – the frontman hadn’t quite grown into his role yet and perhaps wasn’t used to addressing such a large crowd, but as a result nobody caught the name…if anyone can work out what he was saying, let me know! But they were good, catchy, energetic and a good warm-up for the brilliance to follow.

The next support though…I tell you what, everyone go and look up EofE. Right now. They took to the stage with a blistering mash-up of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ which doesn’t sound like it should work but it did! Utterly brilliant, a slap in the face, as a collective, our ears pricked up. We gave them our attention and although they never topped that opening song, the rest of their short set was on par with that incredible opener. They were sharp musically, energetic and had some pretty smooth moves, including an Avenged Sevenfold style Synyster Gates/Zacky Vengeance side by side by side rock out. It should also be noted that this singer had a phenomenal voice; clear, sharp, and my god what a range! If these guys don’t make it I’ll be very surprised – watch out for them.

The next band however…meh. I wasn’t feeling too hopeful when I saw the name on their drum kit – 3 Dudes. Right. And they lived up to my expectations completely. To give them their dues, they were good musically for their age (which I’m estimating is about 12) and were bursting with confidence that would make Jared Leto proud…but they’re those kids. If they were in your class at school, they would be the kid that you’d want to hit in the face every day. If you worked in an office with them, they’d be the guy that comes in on a skateboard and doesn’t do any work because he’s chatting up all the girls  while wearing chinos. They weren’t my cup of tea. Moving on!

The main event kept us waiting until 9pm but I don’t even care because what happened was truly incredible.

When the lights went out for the final time, the room was buzzing with excitement. Everybody was aware of the fact that we were about to witness something very special indeed. When the curtain dropped, the elaborate stage set up was revealed and we were shown a short Back To The Future style film which ended with an actual time machine/car being added to the stage! Such fun!

How familiar you are with the opening of ‘Air Hostess’? Do you always sing along with the ‘Let’s go! Yeaaaaaaahhh! Alrightttttt!’? Well the whole of the Motorpoint Arena did when the band exploded onto the stage. The place was jumping, and looking in front of me, I couldn’t see a single person standing still. It was such a magical moment; I never thought this would happen and I found it surprisingly emotional…I hope that wasn’t just me. I was such a great moment that I don’t even care that they’ve stolen the famous Don Broco ‘walk’.

For me, the evening was made up of 3 components: brilliant songs (some of the classics as well as one or two surprises), brilliant on stage banter and brilliant audience interaction (which included impromptu renditions of both ‘Barbie Girl’ and ‘My Heart Will Go On’…I’m not even joking).

One of the musical highlights was Busted’s ‘Sleeping With The Light On’, which really emphasised the benefits of having so many talented musicians on the stage which was perhaps one of my initial concerns for the super group. The harmonies produced during this song, and certainly in the whole show, were dazzling. The song started with James Bourne in a single spotlight and an acoustic guitar which then lead into a group performance. Together they rendered the song more powerful than it could ever have been on the album through the soaring harmonies and audience reaction – it seems as though this is a bit of a fan favourite…though really, every song played was a fan favourite as everything was both well performed and elevated to new heights and as a result, incredibly well received by us. I was unsure how they’d construct the set list given the amount of songs to consider and the fact that most people were drawn there by Busted. However they came up with a set that could please the both the Busted and McFly fans. Songs like ‘Star Girl’ and ‘Crashed The Wedding’ seem to have been made to have been performed together.

To be honest, the whole evening was built on the positive reaction from the crowd during the songs and it was easy to tell that the band were feeding off this energy too: the more excitable we became, the more the joking and banter continued and the more they appeared to enjoy it too.  So many penis jokes!

But it did genuinely seem as though this was something special: I was looking at Matt during one of the many sing alongs and he looked utterly bewildered and elated at the same time – like us, I don’t he ever thought this could happen. It was utterly brilliant to see these long-forgotten Busted classics given a new life in such a fantastic celebration with so many fans around to see it. They even played ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’ for crying out loud! And they had a t-shirt gun!

Theatrical and brilliant, a night full of memories and not to be missed. If you were ever a Busted fan, you’d be stupid to miss this, even if you’re too cool to like McFly.

McBusted

Now playing: Busted – You Said No

Live music, Harry Potter and question time with Our Theory – 13/2/14

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Upon entering the Lady Luck bar in Canterbury, I was initially struck by how this was MY kind of place and I have no idea why I haven’t been there before. If you’re a music fan, it will be your kind of place too. The dark walls boast framed images of rock icons from the ages ranging from Elvis to Slash. Contributing to this, they also sell frigging Haribo behind the bar!

It’s the kind of place where you know the bar staff are there for the live music as much as you are, which makes for a very welcoming atmosphere.

The live music I was there for on this particular night was the French post-hardcore band Our Theory, the third of the four acts that evening, who drew bigger audience than that of the headliners Under The Influence.

The five-piece (comprised of vocalist Bastien Berhault, guitarists Mehdi Major and Damien Bauthamy, bassist Yoann Andrieux and drummer Guillaume Cellarius), formed in 2011 in Paris; this is their first musical venture to the UK with friends Under The Influence and they do very well to stand out in a competitive British music scene with their blend of beautiful vocal melodies and churning breakdowns.

During their half hour set, their sound fills the tiny space and if you happened to walk in as they were playing, it would be like being hit by a wall of sound. They sound ferocious. Particularly during one song which we are warned beforehand by Mehdi is “fucking heavy”. He’s not wrong – the song is heavy enough to get the attention of anyone who had not already noticed them and to also make a blu-tacked safety warning fall off the wall.

The ferocity is nicely balanced with the tight musical melodies from the vocals of Bastien and Mehdi which are especially clear during the song ‘The Light’ which is where the musical talent and energy of the band are very obvious. The song is introduced by Mehdi as a “song about losing someone close to you”, showing that not only are they talented musicians, but also some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. I would know this as after the show, I sat down and had a chat with them.

Firstly, the name, where did it come from?

Mehdi: Originally, we were trying to pick up names, we figured out that we wanted to share our vision of the youth, of today’s youth and everything that’s changed in the last 20 years. So we wanted to share that vision. We have no pretension of trying to change the world, we just wanted to share what we have to say.

What about the logo? I think it strikes many people as being very Harry Potter-esque.

M: Yeah, I know! Everyone, everyone, asks the question. So actually, we just liked the way that triangles looked, and you could put an ‘O’ and a ‘T’ in them and it makes sense, so there is no link with Harry Potter at all. Although, I LOVE Harry Potter, I’m such a big Harry Potter fan, I love it!

(At which point, there was a brief musical interlude due to a rousing chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ directed towards bassist Yoann).

How did you come to form the band?

M: I was in a band before, and we all met in the French scene in Paris. Damien played in a band called Borderline, he was the guitar player. And so, at some point, I wanted to do something else and Bastien wanted to form a new band, heavier than I was doing before. So he just hooked me up on Facebook and we started writing songs, then went to Damien, and Damien listened to the songs and wanted in.

Damien: When I stopped my old band, I met him [Bastien] and told him that if I was to do a new band, it would be only with this guy [gestures to Bastien]. And so they proposed to me to do a new band and I was like ‘Yeah, cool!’ (he laughs).

You mentioned the French music scene, what’s it like in terms of French bands?

M: The bands are very good. We have loads of friends in really good bands, like Chunk! No Captain Chunk! They took over the world, they’re kind of the French pride!

D: Betraying the Martyrs…

M: Yeah, Betraying the Martyrs. So we have loads of friends in bands. It [the French music scene] used to be shit, but now, it’s getting better and better and people are signing to huge labels. We’ve got a door open.

How has the tour been so far for you?

M: It’s been good! We’ve been with Under The Influence and they’re really taking care of us, looking out for everything and they’re amazing. This is the fourth show now tonight because we did London (which as pretty good), we did Mansfield, then a show in Stockton but it was cancelled and yesterday was Swansea and it was very good although we couldn’t understand the accents at all!

What’s been the best night so far?

M: I would say maybe Canterbury actually! Even though the venue was small and the sound system was not very good, the crowd was really good, so probably tonight. London was a little bit better [in terms of venue], but it was the first show of the tour, so we had to get into it, but yeah we’ve had good venues, but it’s not about the show, it’s about the crowd.

How is touring in England different to touring in France?

M: It’s different in a way, the crowd is very different. In France you get a lot of people with arms folded and checking you out, waiting for you to make a mistake because everyone is so jealous.

Bastien: It’s very anxious for me because everyone is like “show me your talent” and wait for you to make a mistake.

M: But here it’s so different. At the end of every show, people will come to us and complement us on the set and we get a great response from British people. We get a great response from French people too, but it’s different. Here, people aren’t afraid to come to you and say “Yeah man, that was a great set, I like your band”.

B: We love to play in Paris, but in the beginning it was difficult, now it’s good because we have fans and we’ve grown a fan base. But in the beginning it was very difficult.

M: Also, something very important is that you guys have a great rock and roll culture, in France, it’s not really about rock and roll. You all come to shows and discover new bands, it’s not really the same in France.

B: In Paris, it’s 300 people maximum [at a show]. For Bring Me The Horizon, it’s 1000.

M: Actually going back to the question about the scene in France, you can have huge bands in the UK, like Bring Me The Horizon, they can play 1600 in France, but they can be playing arenas here. Rock and roll is smaller in France. The scene is smaller in France, there’s less people in France for this kind of music than in Britain.

Is there a song off the new album that you enjoy playing live the most?

M: Actually, there’s a song on the album which features Bert from Chunk! No Captain Chunk! called The Liars and I love it, it has great energy and it’s really good.

B: I think I’d say The Liars too, I think it’s really good.

What was the recording process like, particularly with the contributions from Bert from Chunk! No Captain Chunk! and Ed from Devil Sold His Soul?

M: Actually, Bastien had been in contact with Ed for a long time and we’re long-time friends of Devil Sold His Soul and he contacted him [Ed] on Facebook and explained that we had a track that would really fit his vocals. From the beginning we asked him if he would like to do a song with us, he said yes, we wrote the song, and we sent it to him for the vocals and he recorded it in his studio and sent it back to us. We wrote the lyrics and we wanted them to have their touch because they have special vocals.

Who is the chief song writer? And what’s it like writing in English?

M: With the album, I wrote the music and he wrote the lyrics

B: With my girlfriend because she’s American

M: His girlfriend is American so she was an enormous help to us.

What are your plans for the future for Our Theory?

M: Right now, we are writing a new EP, so maybe 4 or 5 songs. But heavier.

B: It’s going to be more metalcore, kind of like Issues [the band], so with more screaming.

M: I think it’s going to be very good, I’m very excited about it. We’ve demoed pretty much everything right now and we are very happy and can’t wait to have people listen to it. We’ll probably have Bert from Chunk! producing the album so it’s going to be really good, it’s going to add some of his style as he’s really good for that. I think we might be touring France a little bit in April with Under The Influence and just waiting for everything to be released to see what’ll happen.

When do you think you’ll be back in the UK again?

M: As soon as possible! (laughs) But we have nothing planned for the moment but as soon as we get the opportunity to come back, we will.

They are as lovely as their English is good – which is very good indeed. Afterwards they sign my album and we talk about Harry Potter some more and contrasting the stereotype of a typical ‘band dude’, they are all very down to earth and approachable. They are a band who are aware of the fact that their present success is due to their music and their fans and are good enough to remember that.

I think something needs to be said of the power of social networking, particularly with Our Theory. In a time before Facebook or Twitter, it would have been incredibly difficult for such a small band to even think about breaking into a different country. But now they can promote their new album ‘Collapse’ or an upcoming show all at the touch of a button. Hopefully, with their new EP coming soon and first appearance in the UK now under their collective belt, they’ll attract the notice of ‘important people’ from ‘important places’ which will really give them a leg-up in their journey to spread their theory and make them a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Watch this space!

Our Theory’s debut album ‘Collapse’ is out now and watch their new music video for ‘The Devil’ here.