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Live Reviews Music

The Cure are just like heaven at Glastonbury

The Cure played their first gig on 9th July 1978. So Robert Smith, the group’s sole constant member, knows a thing or two about compiling a set list. But, during the first few songs of the band’s Glastonbury performance, he thought he’d got it all horribly wrong. “For the first 20 minutes I was very, very unsure,” he told NME a few days later. “In some respects for the first half hour we didn’t really offer much concession to the ‘casual’ listener.”

He wasn’t wrong. Unlike The Killers, who headlined The Pyramid Stage 24 hours earlier with one euphoric hit after another, The Cure begin their show with something altogether darker, moodier, and perhaps less suited to the average festival goer.

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Live Reviews Music

Midnight Oil won’t be silenced

Peter Garrett has a lot to say. When RockShot spoke to him earlier this year, the Midnight Oil frontman shared carefully considered opinions on everything from climate crisis and the politics of greed to mobile phones at gigs and legacy acts who play the same songs, in the same order, in city after city.

In London tonight, he’s on even better form. Unfortunately that’s partly thanks to Boris Johnson. The singer, a former government minister himself, is clearly riled by the bumbling buffoon (or, to use Garrett’s parlance, “dickhead”), comparing the PM-in-waiting to King Canute, King Lear, Basil Fawlty and the comedy of Ricky Gervais. And that’s even before he gets to branding him a consistent liar with no regard for minorities.

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Interviews Music

Midnight Oil’s Peter Garrett screams in blue

On stage, Midnight Oil’s lead singer Peter Garrett cuts an imposing figure. Bald, six foot four, bestowed with an intense stare, he’s prone to flailing his limbs with wild abandon while singing passionately about politics, the environment, racism, militarism, and nuclear disarmament. In conversation, he’s thoughtful, articulate, and just as passionate. He has strong opinions on everything from climate change to legacy bands that go out and play the same 15 songs over and over, night after night.

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Live Reviews Music

Sam Fender fires off Hypersonic Missiles

Sam Fender hasn’t released a full-length album. He’s not had a song featured in one of those omnipresent car adverts or even the heavy-rotation trailer for yet another interchangeable BBC cop show. He’s not even made Ant and Dec cry on Britain’s Got The Voice, or whatever it is they’re hosting now.

But thanks to one EP, a string of singles, and incessant touring (133 shows since last January), the 2019 Brit Awards Critics’ Choice winner has now sold out two nights at Shepherds Bush Empire. And when he returns to London in December it will be Brixton Academy that sells out.

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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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Interviews Music

White Lies go it alone on ‘Five’

Jack Lawrence-Brown is a bit stressed. It’s mid January. In less than two weeks White Lies hit the road for four months. They’re playing 55 dates across Europe and North America. They’re marking the 10th anniversary of their debut album. Oh, and they’re launching a new LP.

“This is always one of the toughest parts,” the drummer admits, looking ahead to the release of ‘Five’ on 1 February. “It’s all done, you’ve had it done for a little while, and you’re just drip-feeding songs to people, constantly checking the internet to see what they’re making of it all.

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Live Reviews Music

Def Leppard bring Hysteria to London

Hysteria wasn’t the easiest album to make. Its three-year gestation was marked by false starts (including aborted sessions with Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman), a near-fatal car crash (costing drummer Rick Allen his arm), and a mindset so meticulous that mixing (usually done within a week) took three months.

But the persistence, and attention to detail, ultimately paid off. Hysteria was the album that changed everything for Def Leppard. Since August 1987, it’s sold over 25 million copies. Six of its seven singles have been a staple of the band’s live set for the past 30 years (and now included on the brand new The Story So Far hits collection). And following 2013’s Viva! Hysteria Las Vegas residency, it’s the centrepiece of the band’s first UK tour in three years (plus a series of European summer festival appearances scheduled for 2019).

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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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Interviews Music

Wilko Johnson ‘just gets up there and plays’

Five years ago, Wilko Johnson never imagined he’d reach 70. But now the straight-talking survivor is celebrating the milestone with his first headline show at Royal Albert Hall.

In the run-up to the gig, he tells us about overcoming a diagnosis of terminal cancer, an unlikely collaboration with Roger Daltrey, learning to live in the moment on stage, the effect of seeing The Beatles and Chuck Berry play live, and pretending his guitar is a machine gun.

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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).