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Live Reviews Music

Tears For Fears let it all out at The O2

Last week, Curt Smith tweeted a photo from Tears For Fears’ tour rehearsals. Jamie Wollam is seated at a drum kit, chatting on his mobile. The caption reads: “so good he just phones it in”.

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Live Reviews Music

The 1975 make a personal connection

Jack White insists that fans hand in their phones before a show so they can have a “100% human experience”. Prince had men on stage armed with flashlights to blind anyone holding up their mobile. And, even less subtly, Nick Cave has been known to call out people who insist on watching the gig through a lens.

The 1975 have taken a different approach. Knowing that their average fans document their lives online, the band have devised what can only be described as the most Instagrammable arena show ever. The dextrous, genre-fluid musicians are dwarfed on three sides by giant versions of the empty picture frame that’s become an integral part of their visual identity.

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Live Reviews Music

U2’s Joshua Tree still thrills and challenges

U2 come out swinging. Having warmed up an already expectant crowd with The Waterboys’ guaranteed party starter ‘The Whole Of The Moon’ as their intro tape, the band launch into a chronological run of eight songs that have anchored their live performances for at least the past 30 years.

As Bono declares “there’s no place we’d rather be than here with you”, a thunderous ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ makes way for a jubilant ‘New Year’s Day’. ‘Bad’, the only bonafide stadium anthem to ever tackle heroin addiction, still manages to sound menacingly tragic and beautifully uplifting all at once, before the always rousing ‘Pride (In The Name Of Love)’ soars even higher thanks to 55,000 unprompted backing vocalists (and a subtle but incisive lyric change to reflect the refugee crisis).

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Live Reviews Music

Imagine Dragons go for gold at Roundhouse

The Imagine Dragons sound is big on beats, both on record and on stage. So it’s almost expected that their encore of ‘Radioactive’ climaxes with all four band members pounding on some type of drum. Less expected is the might of lead guitarist Wayne Sermon. Relatively low-key on their albums, in concert he’s as integral to the Las Vegas quartet’s sound as Dan Reynolds’ voice and, yes, even those pounding rhythms.

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Live Reviews Music

Eddie Vedder finds intimacy in Hammersmith

London’s Hammersmith Apollo isn’t what you’d call intimate. And yet Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder makes the 3,600-seater venue feel like a living room, or a cosy campfire singalong. And it’s not just because he’s surrounded by a vintage radio, reel-to-reel tape player, battered suitcases (complete with The Who sticker), various old-timey speakers, assorted instruments, and, later, an actual campfire complete with starry sky backdrop.

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Live Reviews Music

Spoon share ‘Hot Thoughts’ with Forum Kentish Town

It’s midway through Spoon’s set at Forum Kentish Town. A fired-up Britt Daniel has just led the band, backlit in orange, through a ferociously jubilant ‘Do You’. Multi-instrumentalist Alex Fischel begins a moody keyboard piece that gradually swells to Sigur Ros levels of intensity.

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Live Reviews Music

Sheryl Crow reveals her present and past at Shepherd’s Bush Empire

‘Be Myself’, the title of Sheryl Crow’s latest album, says it all. After flirting with soul and classic country on her last two outings, ‘100 Miles From Memphis’ and ‘Feels Like Home’, she’s gone back to her roots, embracing the sound that first made her a household name. The decision to be herself once more was clearly personal, as lyrics like “Hanging with the hipsters is a lot of hard work” make abundantly clear. But there’s the added benefit of the new material slipping seamlessly into a live show that, from the get go, leans on her first three star-making LPs.

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Live Reviews Music

Oumou Sangaré breaks language barriers

“I want to talk to you, but I have a problem,” Oumou Sangaré tells an adoring Village Underground crowd who greet each of her songs with jubilation. “My problem,” the Malian songstress laughs, “is English.”

But, when it comes to “The Songbird of Wassoulou”, something as trivial as language is no barrier. After all, the vast majority of people rejoicing inside this packed Shoreditch venue don’t understand a single word of the Bambara language she sings in. That’s a testament to her glorious voice, refined and finessed over almost five decades of performance. A singer from the age of five, she knows how to pack a single phrase with more emotion than most vocalists get into an entire song.