LIVE REVIEW: Conor Maynard, o2 Academy 2 (Sheffield), 26.04.12

The excitement in the  o2 Academy 2 can barely been contained. With doors opening at 7pm, the nearly all female audience (with an average age of 15) are crammed against the railings screaming their hearts out at every utterance of ‘Britian’s Bieber’ Conor Maynard. With DJ Manny Norte on hand to whip up a frenzy, his excitable presence and Twitter interaction help control the growing hysteria.

Before the Brighton boy bounds on stage, four piece Rascals bounce on stage, effortlessly winning over the willing audience with their irrepressible energy and more than impressive tunes. Having first dabbled with fame back in 2007, the former trio (Big Shizz, Tempz and Merkz) have recruited a fourth member, Kay Willz, and upped their game. The time out has reaped the rewards, with the boys relaxed on stage and the girls eating their every word. If tonight’s show is anything to go by, Rascals could easily be the best new boyband on the block.

With almost three quarters of an hour between sets, the ecstatic girls barely move for fear of losing their space. Norte deals dutifully with requests, ensuring that the time flies by.

As soon as Maynard’s band takes their place, the camera phones are held high and screams are more than worthy of One Direction at the Motorpoint Arena. Maynard clearly relishes the attention and launches into his set without hesitation, bouncing off the audience’s energy and giving ten-fold back.

Maynard is no Bieber. He may be a teen star discovered on YouTube by a well-respected and established r’n’b star, but that is as far as the comparison goes. Far from a slick, over styled performer, Brighton’s finest offers an honest, humble, low key performance that oozes ability.

With a subtle cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room” kicking off a flurry of ballads mid set, Maynard is determined to prove there is more to him than boy next door good looks and well produced tracks. Emotional delivery and an impressive tone tug all the right strings, but the energy explodes as Maynard breaks back into Guetta-esque dance mode.

Closing with debut single, the slick, addictive “Can’t Say No”, Maynard leaves his audience wanting more, but fails to deliver an encore. Luckily his loyal fans are full of love and shrug off their disappointment as they head to the merch stand to spend their pennies on a T-Shirt or two to remember the night.

Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

LIVE REVIEW: Bastille, The Harley (Sheffield), 24.04.12

Local lads Puzzles kick things into gear at a fairly quiet Harley. Far from disheartened by the smallish, scattered crowd, they throw themselves into their electronic, 80s influenced futurepop wholeheartedly and provoke a move  towards the stage and a stampede through the door. Their set may be brief, but it’s impact overshadows The Smiths-esque The Lion Works who follow them with an impressive but non spine-tingling performance.

With the heat rapidly rising as the now packed Harley crowd are frantic with anticipation for the arrival of Dan Smith, aka Bastille, and his three-piece band. Thankfully he does not keep his demanding audience waiting long as he casually strolls on to stage and launches into “Icarus” and is met by screams of adoration.

The softly spoken South Londoner is a fascinatingly energetic performer. While his song introductions start whispered, the positive response provokes a chattier side, as with each performance his frenzied jump-dancing reaches new heights.

Though better known material “Laura Palmer”, “Get Home”, current single “Overjoyed” and set closer “Flaws” are obvious fan favourite, the singalong “Pompeii” proves itself the one to watch for.

Throwing in City High’s “What Would You Do?” and Corona’s “Rhythm Of The Night” from his “Other People’s Heartache” mixtape proves a wise choice. Lifting the energy and demonstrating a real versatility to his vocal talent, Bastille is a performer who constantly ups his game and challenges his audience.

With the merch stand overflowing as everyone heads home for the night, it is more than apparent that Bastille has made more than a little impact. Far more than just a distinct vocal and dextrous songwriter, Bastille owns the stage and has an audience eating out of the palm of his hand.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams 

VIDEO: The Crookes “Afterglow”

They said that Sheffield produces one defining act every generation-from the Human League through to the Arctic Monkeys-it is easy to pinpoint the act and the decade. So what of the teens? Who is set to steal the Sheffield crown? With Shake Aletti and Hey Sholay as strong contendors, here at The Kaje we offer The Crookes as strong contenders. Having unleashed the sensational “Chasing After Ghosts” in 2011, The Crookes may have changed line-up (Alex Saunders has been replaced by Tom Dakin), but they are still going from strength. If latest single “Afterglow” is anything to go by, 2012’s sophomore release is one to keep an ear out for. Head-shakingly stunning.

LIVE REVIEW: Dog Is Dead, Plug (Sheffield), 12.03.2012

Dog Is Dead first came to The Kaje‘s attention at Summer Sundae 2010 when they played a blinding set and even found time to have a quick chat under the shelter of a solitary umbrella. Since then the boys have spent their time on the road, honing their craft and building their fanbase. If the crowd at Sheffield’s Plug is a tell-tale sign of their success, there is no denying that these boys may finally be ready to seal the deal of success.

Showcasing material old and new it is evident that the boys have not lost any of their on stage appeal, with an undeniably relaxed presence, they have everyone eating out the palm of their hands as they work their way through new single “Two Devils” and old favourites “Young” and “River Jordan”.

As they tease with tasters from their long-awaited debut album, it becomes evident that they have perfected their craft. While nothing compares to fan favourite “Glockenspiel Song”, they are more than capable of crafting classy, simplistic, singalong pop.

Dog Is Dead have spent a long time working the circuit and have picked up all the essential skills along the way, now we just wait for the explosion.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

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