Already widely known in the US since their double-Grammy win last year, THE CIVIL WARS have since stormed the UK. Joy Williams and John Paul White were a picture of perfection, a delight to watch and listen to, and the Manchester Academy crowds couldn’t get enough of the tracks off their hit album “Barton Hollow.” It’s difficult to fault such iconic songs as the beautiful “Poison & Wine” and “I’ve Got This Friend.” Their harmonies are sublime, the partnership seemingly made in heaven – and no, they are not a couple. Despite deep controversy over their sudden cancellation of tour dates and rumoured split at the end of the year, their Golden Globe nomination and Grammy win for “Safe & Sound” (with Taylor Swift and T-Bone Burnett) will hopefully bring fans some comfort and hope that the music will eventually continue.
LESLIE FEIST is an icon. I always wanted to know if her live performances lived up to her incredible recorded voice and guitar, and what better venue to find out than at the Royal Albert Hall. There are few musicians who can move me to tears but some of Feist’s tracks were so powerfully and beautifully performed that you couldn’t help but feel you were experiencing some rare moment in history – and the moments were many at this show. An astonishing live guitarist and vocalist, her voice melted away into the night as the audience was carried along in her reveries, and it was no wonder that the show ended up in a stage invasion with several members of the audience climbing onto and filling the stage to hug the Canadian icon as she belted out “Let It Die” together with stunningly talented all-female American singing trio Mountain Man: “The saddest part of a broken heart isn’t the ending so much as the start…” An unforgettable and moving performance – one of the best, if not the best show of the year. She followed up this stunning RAH show with a slightly more sedate affair in Manchester.
April started off with an old favourite: PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED. This two and a half hour set included many tracks off their first album in 20 years “This is PiL.” Lydon has not lost any of his onstage presence and was as cheeky and confident as ever, flashing his rounded belly and chuckling like a maniac, while his passion for music has clearly not faded either. Love or hate him, John Lydon remains a talented, controversial and inspiring figure in British music history.
Manchester’s legendary Deaf Institute welcomed sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow aka London band 2:54. Sweeping melodies, beautiful guitar riffs and lilting vocals – these talented musicians must be seen live. One of our best discoveries of the year, every 2:54 show we have seen has been outstanding. I fell in love with their sound immediately and bought the t-shirt.
April turned into UH HUH HER month for us, with four back-to-back UHH shows in Manchester, Glasgow, Leeds and London. Talented LA duo Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey charmed the pants of us backstage and impressed their fans across the country with their smooth electropop tracks and cool performances. The backstage break-in incident in Leeds aside (involving some merry “L Word” fans), every moment was exciting for the team. The only additional thrill came with the addition to the lineup of Minnesota band SICK OF SARAH at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, who ended up blowing UHH offstage that night, such was the fabulous energy of their performance – you can’t beat five attractive and talented women performing their socks off who are also absolute darlings backstage. I had a lot of fun talking to lead singer Abisha about her childhood in Okinawa, Japan, and her love for female J-pop artists.