Island took stage at Oslo, Hackney on Wednesday 20th April. Rollo Doherty who fronts them has an incredible stage presence and with the band behind him it creates a one of a kind atmosphere. They opened with ‘Girl’ which is taken from their EP released towards the end of 2015. Featuring the crowd pleaser ‘stargazer’ which has hit over a million plays on Spotify for them to be the potential band of our generation is not an understatement. The crowd went wild, and quite right, since the first chord strummed it set the mood from there on out.
ISLAND then rattled through the rest of their EP featuring songs like ‘I’ve Been Searching’ and ‘Night time Written Blues’ which was originally performed when the talented George Taylor was part of the 5 piece ‘Big Hat’ to then leave to pursue his solo career. I cannot finish without mentioning their new track ‘Spotless Mind’. With releasing it the same day as their show it silenced the audience and grabbed them for one last time of the evening.
I do not doubt there is more to come from these seriously talented young musicians, keep an eye out for them over the next few months with festival line ups being announced.
Leon Bridges is one more talented musician that I have been waiting to tick of the list since the release of his album ‘Coming Home’ back in June last year. His retro soul vibe was prominent on Friday evening when he appeared at the O2 Academy in Brixton, London with his 6 piece band full of soul and exuberance.
Leon’s voice echoes that of the late Sam Cooke, his 10 track album has brought back everything that has been missing in soul music for years. ‘Brown Skin Girl’ is one that he wrote for a previous love of his however he claims it can be assigned to any woman of any origin. This was played a few songs and it really got the filled Academy going! It felt like something straight out the 50’s, with Leon’ get up, the jazz accompanied instruments and the way he struts round on stage sent shivers down my spine.
He of course then rocked through the album playing all numbers that continued to please the anticipating crowd. Two more songs he played that I cannot go without mentioning are ‘Lisa Sawyer’ and ‘River. Lisa Sawyer is Leon’s mother, he writes this song describing her lifestyle, both her and his background and where he has come from to what he is now. Both of these bought the happiness yet sadness to the ecstatic audience to bring the evening to a close. I leave you these two, and what can only described as a stunning live performance of ‘Lisa Sawyer’.
The man who rocks a weird yet wonderful Flat Cap rumbled The Royal Albert Hall for all it was worth. I was lucky enough to witness him and his enthusiastic band from a box where the show lasted just shy of 2 hours. The Texan born Kandace Springs opened for him, her piano playing set the mood for a jazz and soul filled evening. GP was accompanied by a handful of talented musicians stretching from an Organist to a Saxophonist and my goodness did he let them show off their expertise. One of my favourite GP tracks is ‘Musical Genocide’. Released on his 2013 album Liquid Spirit it is among one of twenty three tracks and stands out to me as it does to many others. In this GP is expressing his thoughts and beliefs on giving the audience what they want to hear, what he thought was lacking from the music world of today. Were people missing the Luther Vandross or Donny Hathaways of this world? This is the question GP asked and what he wanted to give back to the people, the fans, the listeners and saying that it ain’t over, people and artists like that are still most certainly around.
He then moved onto others from the Liquid Spirit album but did not shy away from his first two albums ‘Water’ and ‘Be Good’.
GP did not fail to touch on new tracks that he will be releasing in 2016. He will be releasing his fourth studio Album ‘Take Me To The Alley’ later on this year and he really gave us a sniff of what that will be like. Here is the funk filled track ‘Don’t lost your Steam’.
It was bought to an end with what I thought was a scene for the film ‘Whiplash’, his drummer lost it for 15 minutes, filling the crowds faces with shock, exuberance and jubilation. It captivated the audience in the perfect way to bring the gig to a closing. With GP returning to stage for two final songs he was spent. The first but not final time I will see him rock a venue like that.
Sequent suits ‘n’ soul filled boots.
The man in the sequent suit does it once again. From the tip of his fro to the bottom of his toes Mr Charles Bradley performed at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town and did not disappoint. With his band The Extraordinaires he filled the 1900’s Theatre with nothing but love, passion and soul. One thing I realised throughout the hour and a half of orgasmic love was how CB appreciates and respects his band like no other. The Extraordinaires opened the gig with three songs which got the 1500 attendees in the right frame of mind to experience what the man himself had to offer. But he let them do this, he let them jam for an amount of time to show that it isn’t CB’ evening, it isn’t all about himself, it isn’t his gig, it’s Charles Bradley and The Extraordinaires gig. And this is one thing I love him for. A personal favourite of evening was ‘Why is it so hard’ It blew me away in every way I expected and more. In this he explains the troubles he has been through to get to where he is, from a James Brown impersonator in Gainsfield Florida to then move to Brooklyn, NY to become the Charles Bradley we all know and love. Picked up by Daptone Records who helped and supported him through hard times he has now released 3 studio albums. I’ve been listening to CB now for 4 years and I have been ecstatic to experience his brilliance since the purchase of tickets, and I repeat myself, he did not disappoint. Here is his version of Black Sabbaths ‘Changes’ and he dedicated this to his mother who recently passed. I have, one of many I’m sure, heard this song before. May it be Ozzy and Kelly Obournes’ cover in 03′ or the original in 72′ but never have I listened to the lyrics so clearly, never have I been so connected with this song. But this is the impact he has on so many.
To end this piece of writing I’ll leave you with one more song of his, ‘How Long’. Taken from his album ‘No Time For Dreaming’.
Enjoy and spread the CB love. TPPx
Photographs by David Gourlay