LIVE: ELIZA AND THE BEAR – MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3 – 01/10/15 0 241

To maybe two dozen people, opening band Viola Beach take to the stage and do their best to engage the room and warm them up ahead of the main event. The drum beat and instrumentation is sharp and catchy and largely the best thing about the group as they move around the tiny space, so it’s a shame that the vocals are often lost in the sea of noise. There’s a hint of The ‘early years’ Fratellis about the band, and that in itself is a good thing, although the reception they receive after each number is far quieter than what they had likely hoped for. The long winded instrumentals performed at the end of some of their tracks is unnecessary as are the guitarists seeming to think they’re members of legendary rock bands such as Motley Crue as they all but hack at their instruments. Closing number and new single ‘Swings And Waterslides’ is quite possibly the best number in their set but regardless, they exit to polite, subdued applause and a growing crowd eager for the headliners to put in an appearance.

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The LaFontaines, hailing from Scotland, fare much better, despite it being almost impossible to make out the lyrics to EVERY song they perform. Front-man Kerr Okan regular interacts with the audience, which proves hugely beneficial as within minutes, he has the crowd in the palm of his hand, getting them to clap and jump around at his instruction. Also putting in a strong effort is Mike Cassidy, who is standing in for absent bassist and vocalist John Gerrard – with only twelve hours under his belt as a member of the group, he plays like he’s been with them from the beginning; not an easy thing to do but he pulls it off with aplomb. The only thing that doesn’t work so well is Okan calling for people to get down low (which in fairness they do), and then jump up again – it’s something bands such as Thirty Seconds To Mars have done in the past much better and tonight, it just doesn’t fit with the group or their set. Despite this, they are cheered and applauded warmly as they exit.

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By the time Eliza And The Bear make their way on stage, the small venue is packed and the excitement level has reached fever pitch. They begin with ‘Lion Heart’ and proceed to deliver a set which is energetic, poppy, catchy and downright fun to watch and sing along to. ‘Light It Up’ and ‘Brother’s Boat’ maintain the fun, upbeat style of things, while the crowd who have since edged forward, eager to get as close to the group as they can, smile, dance in whatever small space they can find, and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

The announcement that their self-titled debut album will be released in February of next year is met with wild applause and cheers and the band proceed to perform a number of tracks from the upcoming collection including ‘Make It On My Own’ which moves away from the cheery kind of songs the band are known for and instead shows off the more serious, gritty side to their music. It makes a refreshing break in the set and goes down particularly well. Meanwhile, ‘Talk’ proves just how far the band have come during their time together as the song highlights how they have matured in terms of their musicianship and song-writing – here are a band who are determined to get bigger and better, and tonight they do a really, really good job of it.

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“You know how this works,” says front-man James Kellegher. “We’re going to walk off after this song, you’re going to go mental and within two seconds we’ll be back.” The song he refers to is called ‘Cruel’ and is the most balladesque the band deliver which isn’t surprising as it was originally written to be played acoustically, but tonight, it’s played out full band style and it’s the highlight of the night by far. Sure enough, the band disappear off stage and the crowd erupts into cheers and shouts for them to return, which they quickly do to close out the night with two final numbers, ‘Friends’ and ‘It Gets Cold’. By the time the final note echoes around the tiny room, the crowd are cheering and whistling their appreciation and there’s no doubt Eliza And The Bear have put on a great show.

 

 

 

 

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BAILEY TOMKINSON CHATS “7 MINUTES IN HEAVEN”, TAYLOR SWIFT & SUPPORTING HER FELLOW FEMALE ARTISTS 0 80

Heavily influenced and inspired by Taylor Swift but with music tastes so varied she loves Sam Cooke, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper to name just three, Bailey Tomkinson has an undeniable passion for music. After releasing her EP Hey Ace last year, she’s recently dropped her new single “7 Minutes In Heaven” and with plans to head back in the studio soon to work on new material, ThisIsTheLatest caught up with her to talk favourite songs, upcoming performance plans and proudly supporting other female artists.

TITL: Who exactly is Bailey Tomkinson?

Bailey Tomkinson: Hi there! I’m Bailey, I’m a 19 year old singer/songwriter from sunny St Ives in Cornwall. I like to write country melodies that hopefully even people that don’t normally like Country Music will want to sing along to! I’m signed to German Indie Label FBP Music and when I’m not performing you can usually find me in the surf!

TITL: At what age did you first realise you wanted to make music a career and what did those closest to you think of said realisation?

BT: I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in music, I watched the movie ‘Selena’, based on the life of the singer Selena Quintanilla, when I was about 4 and from then on all I wanted to do was perform.

The first time I played one of my songs in public was in front of about 300 people in an auditorium, it was a school rock concert in Brussels where we were living at the time, I was about 13. You could have heard a pin drop when I started to play and I just got the bug. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.  I think there is a video of it on YouTube somewhere actually! My family have never been anything other than massively supportive.Their attitude is that we all only get so many trips round the sun, why not spend them doing something you love?

TITL: Which artists and bands are you most inspired and influenced by, and what is it about the music they make that you like so much?

BT: I’ve grown up listening to Taylor Swift so she’s a big influence, obviously very relatable to a teenage girl. But I also admire her for willingness to experiment and innovate across genres; that she wanted to expand the ‘box’. I really admire Kacey Musgraves for the same reason. I listen to Sinatra. I love John Denver because he’s my Grandad’s favourite. Also Sam Cooke, Madonna, Abba, Cyndi Lauper, Jewel – honestly, I just love music.

TITL: Is there a story behind your latest single “7 Minutes In Heaven”?

BT: It was a combination of things really. I love movies like ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist’ for the sense they have where in one, crazy night anything can happen. I thought it would be interesting to try to capture that feeling in a song. I’m 19 years old, so you know, I love a good party and we have some GREAT parties down here in St Ives, we’ve got the beach, bonfires, surfers and guitars so I thought why not write about some of them!

TITL: Who or what is your biggest inspiration when it comes to music and song-writing? With that in mind, could you choose what you feel is the greatest song ever written?

BT: That’s such a difficult question and if you asked me that 100 times, I’d probably give you a 100 different answers. Today, I’d go with “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. The song structure is a work of genius; it somehow manages to link multiple songs into one. Freddie Mercury is a GOD!

I think at the end of the day, I wouldn’t say I have a biggest inspiration as I’m quite fickle with the music I listen to, one minute it’s Sam Cooke and the next it’s Guns N’ Roses. However, that said, I’m pretty sure that if you ask people that know me, they’d tell you it’s Taylor Swift. Hell, at school I was nicknamed ‘Baylor’ Swift.

TITL: As a fairly new artist who made their mark on the industry last year, following the release of your EP, do you ever worry about how you compare to so many of your artistic counterparts?

BT: No, success isn’t cake. Just because someone has some doesn’t mean there’s none for me. There’s plenty for everybody. I have nothing but admiration for people who say, I’m going to follow my passion for making music and if they manage to carve out their own niche then more power to them. It’s hard enough for women in music, we’re all seeking to get equal airtime, festival slots etc, without turning on each other. We all experience the same thing…radio stations happy to put our faces on their posters or Facebook pages but then not spinning our records…I make a point of supporting other female country singers out there, we all want the same thing, a bigger industry and an opportunity to thrive within it.  

TITL: Do you have any performances/tour plans in the works?

BT: There’s lots going on. I’m making my London debut at Luna Lounge in April and in August, I’ve been lucky enough to get a slot at Boardmasters Festival which is one of my favourite festivals. I really want to play the length and breadth of the country, so if any one reading this has slots available, hit me up!

TITL: Given that we live in such a technology obsessed/dependent society, what are your thoughts on social media? How have the likes of Facebook and Twitter impacted your ability to reach an audience, and do you believe that artists can become successful without it?

BT: I don’t know that I have any new startling insight on the subject to be honest. It’s a mixed bag. Social media can be horrible, it amplifies hate and lies, it can make people insecure and antisocial I certainly think it’s important to remember that like television, a lot of it isn’t real. But the flip side is that it can connect people across oceans, across continents in ways we’ve never been able to before. 

In terms of the music, so far my experiences on social media have been incredibly positive, I’ve had other artists reach out with encouragement and advice, I’ve had folks contact me saying how much they’ve enjoyed a certain song and share my stuff with their friends etc. everybody has been really welcoming. Can an artist become successful without it? It depends on how you define success…for some it’s filling stadiums, which I don’t think you can do without a strong social media presence; for others it’s being happy, doing something you love on a local stage. If we were all the same, life would be boring wouldn’t it?

TITL: What does the rest of the year have in store for you? Will you be working on some new material at some point?

BT: Yes, I’ve been in the studio recently to record another single. Then after Boardmasters and festival season, I’ll probably do another EP. I’m writing constantly and definitely want to capture those songs properly. Later in the year, I’d like to do a bigger tour.

TITL: Finally then, what advice would you give to anyone looking to make their mark on the music world as you have? Is there anything you’ve learnt in your short time in the business you’d pass on?

BT: I’d say, make the music you want to make and then surround yourself with as many good people as you can. It really does take a village.

Check out “7 Minutes In Heaven” below and for more information on Bailey, visit her website, give her page a like on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

LIVE: BLUE PLANET II IN CONCERT – MANCHESTER ARENA 27/03/19 0 87

While Blue Planet and its follow up series continue to delight and astound viewers around the world with the depth and scope to which the team behind it delve into the many wonders of our oceans, the experience of seeing the music that accompanies the programme, scored by Hans Zimmer, Jasha Klebe, and David Fleming, performed live with a full orchestra is something else entirely – but just as breathtaking.

The performance began with the orchestra, led by conductor Matthew Freeman, diving straight into the opening music, the skill and precision of the performance itself causing both smiles and goosebumps to appear on a vast majority of the audience (or certainly those I could see).

Host for the evening Anita Rani was both efficient and enthusiastic as she introduced each section of the show, herself and Freeman working almost fluidly in their partnership, while the visuals which accompanied each segment were as stunning as the music performed during it – the wonders of the oceans around us displayed in captivating detail on a giant 200 square metre screen.

It was not at all hard to feel as if, while the show progressed, that you’d been transported to another world of sorts – the younger members of the audience in particular seemed utterly awed by the sights and sounds they were being introduced to.

Highlights of the evening, in terms of the footage shown to the mesmerized audience, were the hundreds of dolphins surfing on waves and puffins feeding their young, but every scene and every sound brought home the most important sight and message of all – that we need to and must protect our oceans.

A night of awe inspiring sights and sounds left the audience within the Arena spellbound from start to finish and as the show reached its climax, the orchestra falling silent for the final time, the applause directed to Freeman, his musicians and host Rani echoed throughout the venue with many present standing to applaud what had been a truly spectacular night.