The best of festivals for 2017

Rejoice – fes­ti­val sea­son is just around the cor­ner. So what’s in store for 2017?  There’s def­i­nite­ly a trend towards offer­ing debates, talks and work­shops. And kids are well catered for with high qual­i­ty and orig­i­nal learn­ing activ­i­ties, take Bluedot’s Plan­e­tar­i­um and Beard­ed The­o­ry’s OFSTED approved school. But hey, let’s not get too seri­ous about it all. Fes­ti­vals pri­mar­i­ly still…

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Steve Mason Alive! at the Barbican

It does­n’t sur­prise me that Steve Mason forged a last­ing con­nec­tion with Joe Dud­dell at Fes­ti­val No 6. Each year, a select­ed num­ber of main-stage artists col­lab­o­rate with Dud­dell and his ensem­ble, per­form­ing in the tiny Port­meiri­on Town Hall (queues for these are leg­endary, as only around 100 get access to the space). From what I’ve heard there isn’t much…

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A powerhouse of a show: North at Open Eye Gallery

North: Iden­ti­ty, Pho­tog­ra­phy, Fash­ion at Liv­er­pool’s Open Eye Gallery, 6th Jan to 19th March 2017, is the first exhi­bi­tion to be held as part of their 40th anniver­sary year. Cura­tors Lou Stop­pard and Adam Mur­ray have tak­en an in-depth and far reach­ing look of the cre­ativ­i­ty of the towns, cities and sub­urbs of the north through dif­fer­ent media and…

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Favourite albums of 2016

Putting togeth­er a list of favourite albums of 2016, I recalled writ­ing last year’s col­lec­tion. What a dif­fer­ent world we now inhab­it. Every­thing feels brit­tle and frag­ile, a sense of per­ma­nence lost. The loss of so many great musi­cians and artists this year has been raw and shock­ing. How­ev­er… there are plen­ty of releas­es I’ve real­ly enjoyed this year, and inevitably…

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Shirley Baker photographs in new show at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool

A major exhi­bi­tion opens at Open Eye Gallery on the water­front in Liv­er­pool on 5th Jan­u­ary 2017, which will include a few works of Man­ches­ter pho­tog­ra­ph­er Shirley Bak­er. The mul­ti-media show called North: Iden­ti­ty, Pho­tog­ra­phy, Fash­ion, will exam­ine the way the north has been depict­ed in var­i­ous media. Five works by Shirley Bak­er are includ­ed in the…

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The Orielles added to Heavenly Weekender at The Trades

Great news: young West York­shire three-piece The Orielles have just signed to Heav­en­ly record­ings. The band – Esme Hand Hal­ford on bass, sis­ter Sidonie on drums and Hen­ry Wade on gui­tar, are known for their lush garagey sun-drenched sound  – a Cal­i­forn­ian vibe by way of Hal­i­fax (the Cal­i­fax sound, per­haps). Since the band got togeth­er they’ve been gigging…

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Wolf People at Oslo, Hackney

As Fes­ti­val No 6 in Wales this sum­mer descend­ed into a major mud­bath after two days of bib­li­cal rain­fall, Wolf Peo­ple took to the stage late after­noon (above). They were cap­ti­vat­ing and the tur­moil of gui­tars suit­ed the inclement weath­er, but I decid­ed I’d enjoy them more some­time in the future, in the warmth, with dry clothes.…

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Lloyd Cole at Union Chapel review

I noticed that Lloyd Cole was sport­ing that slight­ly tricky sar­to­r­i­al trend, dou­ble den­im. Lat­er in the set, Cole made ref­er­ence to his out­fit. He relat­ed a sto­ry about a vis­it to Austin, Texas, where at a honky tonk bar he observed “much younger women danc­ing with old­er men… who all wore dou­ble den­im”. Much of Cole’s amus­ing onstage patter…

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Battles of Winter – At Once with Tattered Sails

Bat­tles of Winter’s sec­ond album At Once with Tat­tered Sails was released (down­load only) on Sep­tem­ber 23. “The dif­fi­cult sec­ond album?” the band announce on their Face­book page. Hav­ing giv­en the album a metaphor­i­cal spin (actu­al­ly, about ten), my answer to that is a def­i­nite no. This new offer­ing from BoW exudes con­fi­dence – the…

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Fightback! against venue closures at The Roundhouse

Fight­back! tick­ets went on sale at the early­bird price of £10 before any line-up was announced. About half the tick­ets sold out, and around 800 acts came for­ward to offer their ser­vices to play at the gig, which was set up by the Music Venue Trust as a protest against the recent aston­ish­ing­ly high num­ber of…

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