Last night, Newcastle’s Utililta Arena was taken over by 9 piece metal band, Slipknot. And I was there.
For anyone that knows me, this might seem strange, as I’m unashamedly a huge fan of artists such as Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, and in general more pop and R&B focussed artists. So, I was pretty out of my depth last night when my boyfriend and I went to see one of the US’s most well known bands for being, well, a bit crazy.
As we got to the arena we were greeted with the usual security checks, as should be, and as we walked in I couldn’t help but notice that there was an abundance of the crowd dressed in almost all black. A staple but practical colour for metal gigs to be honest.
Supporting Slipknot were Polish band Behemoth, who I had been warned by my boyfriend (adorning their T-shirt) were even heavier and harder than Slipknot themselves. To say the least, he wasn’t wrong. Behemoth came crashing onto the stage with a Satanic style set design, from their logo hanging above them, to the costumes and, of course, the screaming/ shouty/ deep voiced vocal sound that could only belong to a blackened death metal band. I couldn’t understand any of the words they were singing, but they had clearly well established their niche and they worked the crowd up fantastically. Well done, boys.
During the interval, I tried to battle my way through the crowd to reach the toilet. Although the corridors at Newcastle arena are pitifully small, I couldn’t help but think it was the slowest moving crowd to wonder between their seats and the foyer area that I’d met at the arena. Maybe everyone was saving their energy for some serious head banging, or maybe their metal trimmed boots were too heavy to walk in. Either way, the whole crowd were pretty chill and everyone seemed excited.
After arriving back at my seat safely after wading through a stream of pints of beer and leather jackets, the lights went down and the audience were here.for.it.
I put in the ear plugs that Andy had given me earlier, with the wise advice that it would take the edge of any hissy noises and save us from getting bad tinnitus. Thank goth heaven, he wasn’t wrong.
As Slipknot one by one took to the floor and unveiled their incredible set design, I couldn’t not be impressed by the elaborate, huge stage. Lit all in blue and featuring a deep floor space, with industrial inspired podiums for the drummers and a treadmill for the guitarists to move back and forth on, it was definitely one of the best stage designs I’ve seen a band use.
As they all started to hype up the crowd with atmospheric keyboard and electric guitar riffs, lead singer Corey Taylor began belting out their first song of the night, Unsainted.
One of the first things I noticed about the show was how intensely happy all of the audience were. The second was how glad I was that I bought us seated tickets instead of standing. Even though the band surely do put on a great show, I spent half of the night crowd watching as a sea of Slipknot T-shirt wearing rockers moshed out to the music. Creating a sweaty, high energy formation of movement and circles throughout the main event. I was genuinely impressed at the fans ability to enjoy themselves while essentially pushing each other around. Though I was surprised that none of the mosh pits I saw were extremely violent, in fact a lot of them were just men running around in circles while someone stood in the middle doing a jig. There were also countless numbers of crowd surfers, and some awkwardly attempted crowd surfers, that rode their way through the arms of other moshers to the front of the stage, where they were quickly plucked out and escorted away by security.
I was also happily surprised at the fact that, actually, the bands lead singer has a fantastic singing voice when he’s not shouting. I’d always associated Corey Taylor with the line of metal bands that mainly use angry and suspenseful noises to create their music, and hadn’t actually appreciated until last night that Corey, and the whole band, are in fact very, very talented. And they’d have to be, considering that Slipknot have now been going for 20 years.
Another thing that I really enjoyed about the night was how genuinely appreciative the band were of the fans. They noted on at least 3 separate occasions how much they loved and are thankful for their fans, and passionately talked about them as family.
Throughout the whole setlist, I knew two of their songs, which is more than I thought I would. But it didn’t really matter because the stage presence and performance value of each of the bands 9 members was fascinating. From Corey’s intense front of stage singing and crowd interaction, to the drummers and guitarists wondering around the rig like creatures from a horror movie, it was great to watch. Of course with the band members each wearing their iconic and eerie style masks, it only added the metalness of their, well, metal performance.
It wasn’t my scene, it wasn’t my music, and you will never, ever catch me in a mosh pit, but I was never bored and left the venue happy to have seen Slipknot live. In fact, I really enjoyed the whole night and left with a much deeper appreciation for them as performers, and as a band who has had a clearly profound influence on the rock and metal music scene. Cheers for a great show, guys!
Stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, Monét X Change and Bob the Drag Queen, took to the stage in Newcastle’s beautiful Tyne Theatre last night, in the first show of the UK leg of their Sibling Rivalry tour.
The tour was born from a weekly podcast that the duo produce, and fans in the audience certainly weren’t left disappointed in the live show! Brought to the UK by Klub Kids, a well known promotion and events company championing the drag community, Sibling Rivalry went down a storm.
Though the show got off to a couple of technical hitches, as the audio for their on screen stage introduction failed twice, Bob the Drag Queen kept the crowd laughing over the mic from backstage, so if anything it added to the hilarity of the night. When Monét and Bob did get on stage, they performed a medley of dance routines inspired by a collection of movies such as Dream Girls and The Shining. Changing into an assortment of fantastic stage outfits throughout, both performers received non stop adoration from the crowd from the moment they began.
Sibling Rivalry was perhaps one of the best and most seamlessly put together drag shows that I have seen live, despite slips, trips and fits of laughter. It was clearly well rehearsed, but also left enough room for on the spot ad libs and fun interaction between the queens and the audience. There was both a movies and family theme to the tour, with Bob the Drag Queen and Monét X Change of course being drag sisters, and they ended the first half of their show with Bob performing an Adams Family inspired routine, and Monét with a Black Panther themed performance.
After a short interval, Monét and Bob started the second segment of the show by recording a live Sibling Rivalry podcast from the stage, discussing recent topics such Meghan Markle and Prince Harry stepping down in their duties to the Royal Family, or #Megxit as Monét called it, famous YouTuber Nikki Tutorials announcing that she is transgender, to a huge round of applause from the crowd, and this weekends upcoming first ever RuPauls DragCon in London. The queens then invited Klub Kids very own Mutha Tucka to interview some audience members, who asked Bob and Monét some well, and some not so well, thought out questions. The highlight of this section though was definitely Monét X Change falling from her chair after excitedly telling a story!
The finale to the show was a high energy and from the hip ‘drag suicide’, which involves the queens performing to a random collection of songs, lip sync for your life style. Including uproarious renditions of songs such as Baby Shark, Dolly Parton’s Jolene and not to mention Monét reenacting the Circle of Life scene from The Lion King with the only child in the audience, it was an absolute hoot.
Being the professionals they are, the queens also kindly stayed back after the show to sign merchandise for fans, and I even got to breathlessly tell them how much I loved the show.
The tour will continue in Manchester tonight and in London on the 18th January. You can purchase tickets from the Klub Kids website, here;
The twenty tens (that’s what we’re calling it) was a strange decade, full of ups and downs in the world. A lot of us millennials felt the strain of politics, the economy and the ever changing minefield of social media. However, there were a lot of positives to take away from 2010-2019. Not least of all the power of music in trepidatious times.
The decade brought with it some absolute gems across the music industry, as well as developing easier access to music for many fans with streaming services such as Spotify and Tidal. There have been hundreds of excellent albums and EP’s released in the last 10 years, so it’s been hard to narrow my favourites down to a top 40. But here we are;
40. Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? (2019)
I didn’t quite get Billie Eilish when I first heard of her, but after sitting and listening to this album in full I decided I absolutely loved her weirdness. She’s a young girl who doesn’t want to fit into the music industry’s usual pop princess style, and her music matches her creepy and alternative vibe. I’m into it.
Maroon 5 aren’t really seen as ‘cool’ anymore, but whatever. You can’t deny that they have some very catchy tracks on this album. It’s easy listening, almost boyband pop but not quite. Basically, I listened to this album a lot in 2012 and I don’t regret it.
38. Rihanna – Loud (2010)
Rihanna entered the decade with a bang releasing this album in 2010. You couldn’t go anywhere from shops to nightclubs without hearing at least two tracks from this record. It was also the era of red haired Rihanna, which started a huge trend in the early twenty tens.
Janet Jackson has been criminally underrated and ignored by mainstream radio stations following that whole boob incident at the Super Bowl in 2004. Whilst Justin Timberlake got off very lightly, *sigh*, Janet’s career unfortunately took a dip, but she’s continued to make excellent music and tour regardless. I grew up with Janet’s Design of a Decade album and still have a lot of love for her.
36. Stormzy – Heavy Is The Head (2019)
Not only is Stormzy a really cool guy, but he uses his platform and music to raise awareness of various political issues. His outspoken campaigning for the Grenfell Tower fire being just one of them. This album enhances his voice as an artist of the underground music scene that has shot to fame and the public eye, while remaining a down to earth bloke from Croydon.
Katy B’s debut album instantly takes me back to my peak nights out in Newcastle’s club and bar scene. Back when I was a bit of club queen myself, On A Mission was the perfect pre-drinks and after party album.
This is another album I’ve chosen for reminiscent reasons. deadmau5 did a lot for the EDM scene in the music industry in the late noughties and early two thousand tens. While I was a big fan of deadmau5 in his early days, this is possibly my favourite album of his as it reminds me of good times. I also have to love the track he made with Cypress Hill.
33. Frank Ocean – Blond (2016)
This is simply just a lovely album. Franks voice is as smooth as he is effortlessly cool. It’s a perfect Sunday afternoon or romantic night in record, and it was the first time I ever really listened to a full body of his work. But I have to say that he’s, like, super cool, guys.
She’s Lady Gaga the way we love her; weird, wonderful and singing about hookers. This album carries some of my favourite Gaga singles; Born This Way and Marry The Night, which have to be two of the decade’s most iconic pop songs.
Christina Aguilera’s newer music may not have been quite as well heard of as her previous albums in the 2000’s and late 90’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Christina’s voice is still as undeniably powerful as it was in her Stripped days, and there are some total bops on this record.
This soulful pop album was put together really well, and it’s clear to tell from her music that Emeli is passionate about her craft. Though a few tracks from this album got a lot of airplay on mainstream radio, that doesn’t take away the feeling of raw yet sophisticated talent in her music.
Sadly released posthumously after Amy passed away in 2011, this album is a credit to her talent and unique style as an artist. Though many of the songs on this album may never have been released if she was still in this world to create new music, it’s a lovely reminder of her short but incredible career as a recording artist.
Janelle Monáe is a breath of fresh air. Her almost haunting but very melodic voice is a breeze to listen to and this album didn’t get the success it was entitled to, in my opinion. Pour yourself a vodka coke and blast out her track Make Me Feel. It’s an instant confidence boost.
27. JAY-Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail (2013)
JAY-Z doing what JAY-Z does best, rapping really, really well. I’m nowhere near cool enough to be listening to this album to be honest, but it’s been a joy to bop along to since 2013. Thanks for letting me pretend to have more street cred then I do, Hova.
If you haven’t gone away and genuinely listened to this album yet then, well, please do. Sampha’s ethereal voice and celestial sound is what dreams are made of. This album showcases his talent as a writer and vocalist perfectly.
Though some of Nicki’s fans may argue with me, The Pinkprint is my favourite album in her repertoire. For me, it’s a genius blend of pop music meets rap and hip hop. The fact it comes from the self-proclaimed queen of rap is a sincere bonus.
24. Chase & Status – No More Idols (2011)
No More Idols has been one of my go to gym albums of the decade. While my dedication to gym has varied over the years, this album is still gold. Perfect for those situations where you need some motivation, as the energy in record has never faltered.
23. Cardi B – Invasion Of Privacy (2018)
While the feud between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj for the crown of the rap scene may still be strong, there’s no denying that Cardi has brought incredible character to rap and pop charts in the last couple of years. This album is powerful, audacious and unforgiving, just like Cardi herself.
I just really like this album, y’know? Kendrick has definitely been one of the music industry’s most commercially successful stars of the decade, and this album is the perfect example of why. He’s talented, vibrant and making big moves.
21. Solange – A Seat At The Table (2016)
Solange finally got the recognition she deserved with this album, and rightly so. Well and truly coming into her own as an artist throughout this record and unapologetically delivering her own unique blend of soul, funk and contemporary R&B, this album is a masterpiece.
This decade has been amazing for The Weeknd, AKA Abel. He’s released a lot of really stellar music and strong albums, however this is my favourite body of work to come from him so far, even if it is only 6 tracks long. Quality not quantity for this one.
Although their friendship has been somewhat tempestuous over the years, JAY-Z and Kanye Westcreate some of their best work together. Spitting fire across this whole album, both Yeezy and Hova created a monster.
18. Kiah Victoria – Memo (2018)
Kiah Victoria’s melodic and otherworldly sound is dreamily showcased in her debut album – Memo. Effortlessly chic whilst distinctively gripping, this record promises much more to come from Kiah, while also being notably mature in itself.
17. Mabel – High Expectations (2019)
Mabel has been one of the UK’s biggest break out stars of the last couple of years and this album is British R&B pop perfection. Full of bops, sassy dance anthems and catchy lyrics, Mabel is the unproblematic pop chart queen we needed in the late twenty tens.
This has to be my favourite album to come from Katy so far. Kitsch pop music and bouncy vibes are her thing, and Prism does it so well! Full of feel good tunes as well as some soul searching numbers, it’s definitely one of the decade’s most prominent pop albums.
15. Little Mix – Get Weird (2015)
Little Mix are the Spice Girls of the 2010’s. There. I said what I said. Give these girls their dues, they’re entertaining, energetic and talented performers with an ever growing list of chart hits under their belt. This album is full of them, too.
When Jessie Ware isn’t making award winning podcasts, she’s creating beautiful music. Literally, this album is stunning. Jessie’s soothing yet powerful voice sets the tone of this gorgeously conceived track list. It’s a very thoughtful but also easy to listen to record that I couldn’t leave off this list.
While we’re impatiently waiting for Rih Rih’s long awaited next album, Anti is more than enough to let us know it’s going to be well worth the wait. Anti was possibly one of the most seminal charting albums of the last decade, and certainly one of Rihanna’s most career defining.
12. Kelela – Take Me Apart (2017)
Take Me Apart is without a doubt one of the best R&B albums I have heard in the last ten years. Kelela’s striking voice and razor sharp lyrics layered on top of electronic and dynamic melodies have constructed a truly remarkable record.
11. The 1975 – A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships (2018)
Before listening to this album, I didn’t think I’d be that bothered about the music that this band were producing. I’m glad to tell you that I was very wrong. I flipping love this album! I fell in love with both Matty’s voice and the diversity of the collection of tracks on this record. 10/10.
10. Years & Years – Palo Santo (2018)
Years & Years have a distinct sound that I really dig. Although they are very successful in the UK pop charts, I can’t help but feel that this band is still a bit underrated. The vocals are gorgeous and every track on this album is worthy of a single release.
Being the first album that Ariana released after the tragic Manchester Arena bombing in 2017, this album was incredibly poignant, important and moving. Ariana’s method of using music to help her and her fans to heal, as well as developing this album to create uplifting and inspiring music is nothing short of extraordinary.
Jessie Ware’s debut album was the album that I didn’t know I needed until I heard it. I hadn’t expected how much I’d enjoy this record or how beautifully constructed it would be. It’s an album that I’ll never get tired of listening to.
7. The Carters – Everything is Love (2018)
Beyoncé and JAY-Z was the collaboration album that we’d been waiting for for years, and it’s everything we could have hoped for and more. From two of the most talented performers alive, what else were we going to get?
6. Too Many Zooz – Subway Gawds (2016)
If you haven’t already heard of Too Many Zooz, please get on Youtube and search for the viral videos of them performing in New York subway stations. Phenomenally energetic, incredibly adept and simply brilliant to watch live. Although this album is fantastic, it’s not enough. Please go and see them perform.
Ariana Grande has to be the decade’s undoubted pop princess and this album is pop royalty. Dangerous Woman’s track list embodies genuinely good quality pop music. There’s no denying the genre. The album is wall to wall hits and helped the general public really realise Ariana as highly talented performer and artist.
As well as being the name of Beyoncé’s 4th solo album, 4 is also Beyoncé’s lucky number. So, honestly, I couldn’t not have this album as 4 on my list. Not only that, but this album was the first in her career that Beyoncé solely acted as executive producer of. There was a noticeable difference between this album and her previous work, and saw a more soulful, raw and less clean cut version of Beyoncé.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a big fan of Ariana Grande, and I genuinely believe that this album showcases her best work to date. Again going on to write and produce this album after suffering heartbreak and anxiety, the strength of Ariana and of this album is amazing. It’s also her highest selling record to date, and one of 2019’s most commercially successful albums.
Lemonade is a culturally ground breaking, visually stunning and all-out pioneering piece of work. Beyoncé took absolutely no bull when creating this album. As her second visual album, she not only made an incredible vocal track listing, but a film to go with it that is laced with important themes such as racism, misogyny, relationships and healing. There will never be another album like it and there will never be another Beyoncé.
1. Beyoncé – Beyoncé (2013)
Do you remember where you were on the morning of December 13th, 2013? I do. I woke up at 6am, and checked my phone to find out that Queen Bey had dropped an album, completely unannounced overnight. Not only that, but it broke boundaries within the music industry by being the first of its kind, a visual album, to be released. Whilst completing the Mrs Carter World Tour, Beyoncé not only put together an album, but a music video to go with each track. This album is also the reason that traditional album release dates changed from Mondays to Fridays, as it was so successful in its first weekend. For me, a loyal member of the Beyhive, this album represents what Beyoncé is capable of and the true art in her craft. In my eyes, it is likely the most influential album in the music industry of the twenty tens, if not for much longer. The album also reminds me of a fantastic year in my life, and each song holds a great memory for me.
Yesterday saw the release of Ariana Grande’s first live album ‘k bye for now (swt live)’, which was of course the live recording or her roaring Sweetener World Tour.
Released moments after finishing the final and 100th show of the tour, the album was instantly available across streaming services for fans. From start to finish, the live album showcases Ariana’s incredible voice and impressive vocal range. The album also features recordings from different shows, including performances from her UK leg in London.
Attending the show in person at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro Arena on 17th September, Ariana’s stage presence and set list was even more remarkable. Although for me the show was slightly bittersweet, as I had purchased a VIP meet & greet ticket at the time the tickets were released, which was unfortunately cancelled two weeks before the show. This still meant that I had pit tickets though, which was an experience in itself. After being present myself at the tragic events at Ariana’s Manchester Arena concert on 22nd May 2017, I was eager to enjoy the show and celebrate her incredible strength as an artist and human being.
As always with VIP tickets from Live Nation & Ticketmaster however, the ‘VIP’ factor leaves room to be improved. Keeping fans guessing as to where to queue for the VIP concierge and then being lined up outside in the cold for an hour, it didn’t feel like a VIP experience. However, upon entering the venue and taking my spot directly in front of the B stage, it was clear that the show itself was going to be amazing.
I certainly wasn’t proved wrong. From the subtle but touching tribute to her late boyfriend Mac Miller by playing his song ‘Dang!’ just before she took to the stage, to Ari belting out the first notes of her track ‘Raindrops’ before rising onto the stage with her dancers along a table, the whole crowd was awestruck.
The entire show was filled with hits and fan favourites from each of Ariana’s albums, most notably from her most recent albums ‘Sweetener’, which was released in August 2018 and ‘Thank U, Next’, which was released only six months later in February 2019. The stage was tactfully designed so that audience members from every corner of the venue had a great view of the show. With a stage that protruded in a circular shape around the standing area, holding the pit and B stage inside of it, Ariana and her team of dancers energetically lead the performance around the crowd. Wearing her signature platform high heels, perhaps the most impressive part of the whole show was Ariana’s effortless dancing without so much as stumbling in her shoes.
Halfway through the concert, Ariana made her first visit to the B stage. To say that I and the fans around me were ecstatic is an understatement! Singing, dancing and just generally being glorious right in front of me, Ariana’s warm personality and stage talent was utterly undeniable. Up close, it’s clear to see how much she enjoys what she does and the love she has for her fans. Although security had to intervene with an overly enthusiastic fan at one point as Ariana held her hand out to the crowd, she kept her poise and graciousness at all times while on the tiny second stage.
She’s a true professional and perfectionist as well as being very humble when it comes to her fans. Ariana has made no secret of the fact that this tour has been a labour of love whilst dealing with anxiety, but that sharing this experience with her fans has helped her to heal. I can only say that I’m honoured to have played a very small part in that while watching her glow on stage.
The set list featured a perfect collection of songs, including some of my favourites ‘God is a Woman’, ‘Into You’ and ‘No Tears Left to Cry’. For the finale, Ariana ended the show flawlessly with possibly her most commercially successful single ‘Thank U, Next’. Taking two final laps of the stage, Ariana used the sassy hit to thank her fans for coming and tell them that she loved them before exiting.
Following such an amazing show, my after concert blues were real. But, that’s how you know you’ve been to a truly great gig. Thank U, Ari.
Ariana’s live album, ‘k bye for bye (swt Live)’, is available on streaming services now.
If you haven’t heard of Mabel yet, you’re going to. While she’s already had massive chart success with her singles Don’t Call Me Up and Fine Line, there’s definitely much more to come from her.
Last month I had the privilege of seeing her perform for the second time, after seeing her headline show at Newcastle Uni last December. This time, as part of a string of shows promoted by HMV, Mabel brought her Mad Love tour to Newcastle’s quayside venue Riverside.
Though at 31 I felt like I was likely one of the oldest people in the crowd, the audience were clearly excited and the venue was filled with a great atmosphere. Mabel had clearly come a long way in just the one year I had her seen prior to this show. With a collection of very talented dancers and a more refined and styled look, Mabel took to the stage like a pro. Though I’d enjoyed her performance last year, it was obvious that Mabel has put a lot of hard work into her performing style, dancing and overall stage persona.
Smiling and interacting with the audience throughout, the show lasted an hour altogether, perfect timing for Mabel to fit in all of her big hits, as well as songs from her new album High Expectations. She clearly had some devoted fans in front of the stage, lovingly singing along to her every word.
Watching the show, it really felt like Mabel is starting to come into her own on stage and is definitely growing as an artist. There was a feel good vibe in the room for the whole performance, and this was evident as she sang my favourite songs of hers Finders Keepers and Bad Behaviour. One of the nicest additions to the evening, was seeing Mabel’s team visibly support her and hype her up in the crowd. She clearly has a genuine and supportive team around her.
As Mabel becomes more of a household name and continues to stamp her mark on the UK R&B pop scene, I’m hopeful to see her playing much larger venues in Newcastle in the future.
Her album High Expectations is available in HMV and on streaming services now.
Lighthouse Family have been bringing an uplifting and melodic twist on British pop-soul since they burst into popularity in the UK charts in the mid 90s.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed since their debut album Ocean Drive was released in 1995, is their undeniable ability to captivate their audience. Founding members Tunde, vocals, and Paul, keyboard, have a friendship that shines through on stage, and two unmistakable talents that seem to have only gotten better in the over 20 years that they have been making music together.
Standing at the bar in Newcastle’s City Hall for the Lighthouse Family’s first Newcastle show of their latest tour, the excitement in the crowd was clear. From the moment Tunde and Paul walked on stage, they certainly made the most of the incredible atmosphere amongst the audience. The City Hall was deservedly sold out and the performers noted on stage that Newcastle was the city that brought the two of them together as an act and helped to create Lighthouse Family’s first record. It was clear to see how much they enjoyed being back on stage in the toon.
Playing a mixture of their iconic hits such as Lifted, High and Raincloud as well as tracks from their new album Blue Sky in Your Head, the whole set was glorious. Tunde and Paul also brought some heartfelt personal memories to the meaning behind a lot of the songs, and both had a fantastic aura when interacting with the crowd.
A simple stage was all they needed as Tunde’s unmistakably smooth singing voice and the rest of the bands talented instrumentals brought all the entertainment. Tunde’s charismatic stage presence certainly didn’t go a miss with some of his clearly loyal fans!
After a roar of cheering for an encore, the band all returned to the stage for an extra four songs, including adding some festive cheer with a Christmas style song.
To make sure that you don’t miss out on Lighthouse Family’s next performance in town, visit Newcastle City Hall’s website to snap up some of the limited tickets that are currently available for their show on 21st February 2020, here;