Over the last few years, I’ve made it my mission to seek out affordable live music gigs, and new music to listen to. I will never tire of my favourites mentioned in Part One, but I needed some fresh music in my life. A small music festival held in my local city often brings new unsigned bands to my attention. Walking round town one day my son and I heard a young busker singing in the street. A few months later, the same girl was singing her heart out as part of a music festival outside the shop where I worked and I was able to find out who she was. Demi Marriner has the voice of an angel and makes any song she sings into her own, giving it whole new life and meaning. Her original stuff is beautiful, well written works of art, and I wish this girl all the luck in the world. I avidly follow her journey and she deserves a big break. She truly is awesome. At the most recent Take That concert I went to, I was absolutely over the moon to see Demi performing at the Genting Arena in Birmingham before the show.
On nights out, I seek out the bars with live music, whether I’ve heard of the band or not. Nothing can beat the sound of a guitar and drum kit filling a room with their melodies. Lyrics of songs seem even more personal when you hear them sung live.
At another local festival, I first saw a band called Done By Sunrise. They are an indie-pop band, a family comprised of Loren, Scott and Jodie Howland. They are now joined on cajon by Ross Nicholls. They are captivating live performers who really enjoy being on stage and their enthusiasm is infectious. Their original tracks are catchy, personal and stick in your mind. I own their debut EP “Home”. Scott’s solo tracks have had me hooked since finding them on SoundCloud. I often see them supporting another favourite local artist of mine, “Blobbie Williams”. The best Robbie Williams tribute act you will ever see, this guy not only has the facial characteristics of the real Robbie down to a “T”, he can sing… and yes, he can entertain you. His shows are pure entertainment, and although banter and tongue in cheek jokes play a huge part, he never fails to convey the songs as they were intended. His rendition of “Angels” has me in tears.
Other bands I’ve discovered along the way include The Secrets, The Fidgets, Abby Inez, Time of the Mouth, Skewiff, Jasper in the company of others and a guy called Damian Matthews. Damian first caught my ears at an open mic night, people turn up to sing, or play along at a venue called The Marrs Bar and when Damian took to the stage, WOW! The songs he chose to sing were my kinda songs and his voice… Well there is no other word than wow. The next time I saw him, he took to the stage as a support act to “Take Fat”, the band that Blobbie was part of at the time, and his version of “A bat out of hell” completely blew me away. Very talented man. He reaches notes I never thought possible. Why this guy isn’t on the radio every day, I’ll never know.
Early last year I won tickets to go and see Maroon 5 in concert. I had always liked their music but winning the tickets spurred me on to go out and buy the albums of theirs I didn’t already have in my collection, including the latest “V”. One song on that album jumped straight into my top ten favourite songs, an ever changing list which depends on a variety of things, whether I’m in a relationship, who I’ve just spoken, who has recently released a new single. I also love too many albums to keep the list to just ten. “Leaving California” is a few beats faster than a break up ballad and the chorus, to me, is almost anthemic. Hearing it for the first time coincided with my break up with the guy I met in January, and the brief time where I wanted him back. Enthused with a new love for Adam Levines silky vocals telling my love stories, I eagerly awaited the concert. I wasn’t disappointed. The show two nights before had been cancelled due to Adams voice going after a throat infection, but despite not being 100%, the sheer determination of him wanting to please the fans was clear. Although he held back on some of the bigger notes, he wasn’t going to let us walk away without a top performance. True professional. True lover of music.
However, only one band, that was introduced to me in May last year, have reached the same playlist level as Shed Seven and The Bluetones. This band actually formed back in 1994, but only really hit the mainstream music scene in 1999, and although I could probably name a handful of their songs, they had gone under my radar.
The musician I started dating in May was in a Muse tribute band. He lived and breathed Muse, and it was impossible to not be drawn into their music. The first album I introduced into my vast music collection was their most recent, Drones. I first listened to it in the kitchen whilst washing up and cooking tea. For me, and from past experience, if an album doesn’t grab me on the first listen, it gets discarded to a shelf to gather dust. Drones didn’t grab me. However, like I said, you can’t be around someone who speaks with such passion about the lyrics, taps out the drum beats, raves about Matt Bellamys voice and not “listen”. So that’s what I did. Armed with a glass of wine, I headed up to my bedroom on one of those rare nights alone, and put Drones on. I have never, and I mean never, had such a drastic change of opinion when it comes to music before. I either like it, or I don’t. There’s no “it’s ok”, and there’s certainly no “it’ll grow on me”. I love Drones. From the ballad of “Aftermath” to the madness of “Psycho”, every single song dug its claws into me and wouldn’t let go. In the space of two weeks I’d gone from not owning a single Muse CD to having all but one (that’s since been rectified). I’d been converted. Sometimes a song means so much to me that if the situation I’ve related it to changes, I can’t listen to it again for a while. However, when the musician and I separated, I couldn’t say goodbye to Muse, not even for a day. Infact they helped me through it.
My other half loves 80s music. Since dating him, I’ve been reintroduced to bands that were around in my early childhood, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet etc. Despite growing up in the eighties and barely being old enough to remember some of the songs from back then, the classics of the decade have stood the test of time and even my twelve year old son would be able to sing along to them. Not necessarily noted for their lyrical qualities, the music held the song back then, and songs are instantly recognised before the vocals even begin.
So now if you pick up my iPod and press play, there’s a very high chance you’ll hear Shed Seven, The Bluetones or Muse. I know the lyrics to every single song. I’ve listened to them over and over again and have never gotten bored.
I’ve picked up CDs of unsigned bands at various live events I’ve been to, so there’s a very slight chance you’ll catch a song you’ve never heard by an artist you’ve never heard of.
Nothing ever gets deleted. I don’t “go off” music.
Don’t be surprised though if on the odd occasion, you’re greeted with Take That. A slim chance you’ll happen upon Aha. Or even, possibly, maybe a bit of Britney Spears. Like I say, my taste is vast. Don’t judge me!