Live Reviews

So here we are again, Neil Young at the O2 Arena in London. This time the band are, ‘The Promise of the Real’ a young band that, Neil really sparks off.

Laura Marling and band pull off a sparkling support slot which bodes well for her headline spot at The Green Man festival in August as as 8.30 pm approaches, the lights dim and there is Neil sitting at his battered piano singing, ‘After The Gold Rush’ then, he picks up a battered acoustic guitar and we get ‘Heart Of Gold’, ‘From Hank To Hendrix’ and ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’. The solo slot concludes with Neil at the organ for ‘Mother Earth (Natural Anthem)’. Its one of the most magical openings to a concert for a long time.

The Promise of the Real are Lukas Nelson (vocals/guitar), Anthony Logerfo (drums), Corey McCormick (bass), and Tato Melgar (percussion). Lukas is the son of Willie Nelson, a long time buddy of Neil Young. These guys are a band in their own right, three albums old and they step on the stage for ‘Out On The Weekend’ from Harvest’, the set continues with ‘Western Hero’, from 'Sleeps with Angels",‘Hold Back The Tears’, ‘Someday’ from ‘Freedom’ and back to Harvest for ‘Alabama’.

The set is really bringing out some some long lost live songs, it seems London is in for a treat tonight. ‘If I Could Have Her Tonight’ from the 1968 album ‘Neil Young’ follows, Words up next then our first visit to ‘On the Beach’ with ‘Walk On’.

Then we have the elongated wig-out to ‘Love To Burn’ and a trip to Ragged Glory’ for ‘Mansion On The Hill’. ‘Seed Justice’ is from upcoming album ‘Earth’ before a mighty ‘Revolution Blues’ is played from ‘On The Beach’ and we are in awe.

Keeping things recent ‘Monsanto Years’ follows, then ‘After The Garden’ from ‘Living with War’, ‘Love And Only Love’ finishes the set and a storming F*!#in' Up complete’s the show.

This was a thinking man’s /women’s set list, not songs that have appeared regularly, a set from a man with a conscience and someone who still has something to say at 70, his songs still resonate that much. If he doesn’t make the point who will?

The Promise of the Real were able to reproduce the songs and style of the many bands that Neil has been part of over the years. It was really quite amazing that you could listen to one band but, shut your eyes and that could have been many different bands. So maybe, we didn’t get all the favourites (don’t forget that start) but what we got, were the rare gems.

Long may this man run!


Photo: Eilís Boland
SSE Belfast

The Joy Formidable visit Nottingham tonight as part of the 'Hitch' tour in support of their new album of the same name. The backdrop has their logo drawn in the characteristic stylings of Gonzo artist Ralph Steadman who drew some of the album's artwork and with whom this reviewer more than once shared a local pub.

The distorted ice-cream van chimes intro to 'The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade' welcomes the band on stage to play that track from the 'A Balloon Called Moaning' EP released way back in 2009. The stage is set up with the drum kit stage left which gives plenty of room for bass player Rhydian Davies and guitarist Ritzy Bryan (with her blonde bob bouncing) to leap and dart around during the meaty instrumental sections of each track. 'The Blimp' starts with a chunky bass riff and during the guitar solo Ritzy displays some of the finest backwards /side sliding around the stage whilst playing since James Dean Bradfield of the Manics; there must be a Welsh School of Rock where they teach this stuff. Ritzy picks out the opening oriental sounding chords of 'Maw Maw Song' from 'Wolf's Law' before the track's monster riff explodes around the room ; fortunately all the references to carnivores doesn't appear to phase the small model of a Welsh Mountain Goat which is positioned on Ritzy's guitar effects board.

Driving the whole show along is Matt Thomas whose drumming style reminds you of an octopus in a tumble dryer in the best possible way. Matt confirms his membership of the 'drummers being slightly mad' club by selecting a striking yellow Hawaiian shirt as opposed to standard black for his stage wear and his star turn during a previous visit to Nottingham which we are told involved dancing and feeding the audience instant mash potato ; an act which was apparently a “Smash hit”- yes he really did say this.

Early single 'Cradle' and the big, bouncy funky drum and bass lines of 'Hitch's', 'The Last Thing on My Mind' get the crowd moving and show TJF have consistently written catchy tunes throughout their career.

The encore starts with the recent single 'Radio of Lips' with its killer chorus “The further I run, The faster you apologise ...”, and after 'Liana' also from 'Hitch' there's a call from the audience to play 'Cradle' again to which Ritzy replys she's learnt two things whilst touring, “Don't play any Chris de Burgh and never play the same song twice” (quite correct on both counts) . The chiming guitars and solid, pounding rhythm accompaniment of 'Whirring' has a little pause halfway through as Ritzy has to retune which gives the boys chance for a funky, jazzy improv workout, though with the general thrashing, squealing feedback which finishes the track I'm not sure the retune made a lot of difference. Guitars are thrown into the amps and it's kisses goodnight as they leave the stage for the final time, confirming once again that The Joy Formidable are definitely a band you need to see live.

Alisdair Whyte

Band Website

It was so good to be at The Joy Formidable’s gig at Colchester Arts Centre.
They really set the place alive - sonic waves of rock filling the Medieval roof and arches.
The venue is small and intimate with a superb sound so was perfect. (As is the fine selection of beers!)

They kicked off with ‘The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade’ from their excellent first album The Big Roar. They also finished the set with a number off that album ‘The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie’. Finally they finished at the end of the encore with ‘Whirring’ from that same album producing a whirlpool of sound which left us ecstatic.

Many bands use their tour to showcase a new album, but not The Joy Formidable. They played only 3 numbers from their new album Hitch which came out earlier this year (The Last Thing on my Mind, Liana and Radio of Lips) and so the gig was a superb smorgasbord of their rock numbers to date.

They were on top form and looked so pleased to be performing for us. Ritzy was leaping about the stage all smiles and it really came across that the whole band were enjoying the gig and playing for us.

They are only a 3 piece band but sound so much bigger. A blitz of fuzzy guitars sounds from Ritzy accompanying her impressive rock diva vocals. Base arpeggios from Rhydian and strong drumming from Matt. The sounds are multi layered, in harmony with powerful jamming rhythms.

I first saw them at Reading Festival in 2009. I didn’t know them then, but was well impressed. Since then I’ve seen them at a number of Festivals but not at a gig. After this performance I’ll certainly be looking out for their future tours!




The Greatest Light is the Greatest Shade
Little Blimp
Wolf’s Law
The Last Thing on my Mind
The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie
Radio of Lips
The Leopard and the Lung

Band website 

Photos of the gig

A pleasant late spring Sunday evening in Nottingham and first on stage is Laura Lee (bass), Mark Speer (guitar) and Donald Johnson (drums), collectively known as Khruangbin from Houston, Texas.

First impression was West Coast psychedelia from this three piece, then came the soul and deep grooves. The usual 30 minutes for a support band just left me wanting more, certainly a band to investigate further!

Just after 9pm and a tall gangly bearded man with the energy of a 5 year old takes the stage with his band, Josh Tillman, A.K.A. Father John Misty then delivers a dynamic musical and visual show, stuffed with the humour that lives and breathes in his songs, this was a captivating 90 minutes.

It’s the ‘Fear Fun’ album that get’s the show started, with ‘Everyman Needs A Companion’, with the stage drenched in green lights, followed by the brilliant ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ which just highlighted Josh in dry ice and red light, barely visible. With the driving drum beat, this was an electric start to the set.

Latest album ‘I love you Honeybear obviously gets well represented with much gusto. The quieter moments often get drowned out by crowd noise, but that is just part of gig going in 2016 I suppose if, you stand in earshot of the bar .

Nothing came from the albums in Josh’s own name which was surprising as the songs from these records, are really great. There are however no complaints about this very solid and entertaining gig. Josh has his heart in the right place!

Still dates on the tour, just don't get tempted by the FJM leisurewear trousers on the Merch stall!


Tue, 17 May Colston Hall, Bristol, Bristol

Wed, 18 May Roundhouse, London 

Thu, 19 May Roundhouse, London 

Fri, 20 May Roundhouse, London 

Sat 21, May O2 Guildhall Southampton

It was great to be at the 100 Club in London on the 6th April for The Poses only UK gig of their current European tour.

We like the quirky 100 Club in London for its intimacy. The stage is low (with a large pillar just in front of it) but the room is wide and shallow so can get close to the band.

The band are from Seattle and are Ken Stringfellow on keyboards and guitar, Jon Auer on guitar and Frankie Siragusa on drums. On some of the numbers they were joined by Gizelle Smith who provided some great soulful vocals. We were impressed with their new drummer Frankie. His drumming was enthusiastically brilliant. (Last year the Posies long time drummer Darius sadly died).

As always their songs were full of poetic lyrics and beautiful harmonies. Sometimes you need raw piercing sounds of heavy rock and sometimes you feel like standing on a warm beach and letting the gentle waves of rock wash over you. The Posies sound was the latter. It makes you feel good, but there were some serious lyrics wrapped up in there.

They played all of the tracks on the new album Solid States which is to be released next Friday on 29th April. Other numbers were from previous albums dating back to Frosting On The Beaters of 1993.

On the new album we really like the tracks We R Power which has a faster rhythm, the foot tapping March Climes and meditative like The Sound Of Clouds.



Gig photos

The Posies website

Set List

We R Power
Unlikely Places
Squirrel vs Snake
March Climes
The Glitter Prize
Sound of Clouds
Rollercoaster Zen
The Plague
The Definition
M Doll

Fucking Liar
You’re the Beautiful One