Lisbon with support from No! Disco and Deco

I love going to gigs and music concerts when I can, so when I found out that Lisbon were going on their first headline tour, I just knew that I had to go!

The gig was on at The Bodega in Nottingham last night, which is a great venue for upcoming bands, a bit like the Scholars Bar at the O2 Academy in Leicester where I saw Bipolar Sunshine earlier this year.

I always like to watch and listen to support bands when I go to gigs; that’s how I found out about Lisbon in the first place when they supported a band called Eliza and the Bear last year, again in Leicester.

The first support band last night was called No! Disco, an indie rock band from Nottinghamshire. They played some great songs, including one called Your Orange Car which I really like.

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No! Disco

The next support band were called Deco, another local band from Nottingham who also play indie music. I absolutely loved the voice of the lead singer; he has a powerful voice and at times reminded me of the lead singer of The Temper Trap. Overall both bands delivered a brilliant performance, and I will certainly keep an ‘ear’ out for them.

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Deco

And then the band I was most excited to see started playing. For their first show on their first ever headline tour, Lisbon certainly performed with passion and were fantastic. I fell in love with their music when I first saw them perform last year as a support band, but after seeing them last night, I’m even more in love now! I knew five of the songs Lisbon played so I sang along, but I can’t wait for them to release the new indie tracks they performed.

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I couldn’t get a decent photo, but this one of Lisbon is pretty cool (quite fitting for their single Blue Love)

All of the bands were excellent and have great potential for the future. All of the band members were friendly as well, as the audience could chat to them after they performed. I even got two CDs and one of Lisbon’s set lists signed!

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No! Disco wrote this lovely message on the cover of the CD I bought from them:

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Happy reading and blogging!

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

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Music at its finest: The Hertfordshire Chorus

As cliché as this sounds, music has always been a big part of my life. My family have been greatly involved with music and I was brought up to appreciate a variety of genres. I started learning how to play the flute when I was eight years old and before joining my local church choir when I was ten, I sang in the choir at primary school.

Throughout my education, I have always joined clubs and societies that are music orientated, extra-curricular activities and music groups outside of school/college.  At one point, I was a member of three choirs and two orchestras, which all had rehearsals on a weekly basis and concerts every term. I still wonder to this day how I managed to do all of that alongside my GCSEs and A levels!

It is through music that I have received amazing opportunities, such as performing in prestigious venues (the Sage Gateshead in Newcastle, De Montfort Hall in Leicester and the NEC in Birmingham), participating in competitions and, best of all, meeting new people.

When I ventured down to Hertfordshire to study for three years, I was looking for music groups to join. There was the de Havilland Philharmonic orchestra, but I was no way at the standard they were looking for, but the Chamber Orchestra was set up during my second year at university. I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences with this society at university.

In the New Year of my first year, I heard about the Hertfordshire Chorus– I couldn’t believe it! I looked into the choir and it was just my cup of tea. I went to an open rehearsal where anyone is welcome to come along and have a go. I still remember that night when the choir sang Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42, Op.42; it’s been on my choral/classical playlist since then.

After a few rehearsals, I auditioned and was pleasantly surprised when I was offered to join as a first soprano! Never before had I auditioned for a choir, and the Hertfordshire Chorus is a prestigious one. I felt honoured to become a member and eagerly looked forward to what was in store for the next 2 ½ years.

It was great to be part of a choir that was outside of the university. The singers are friendly and talented individuals from all over Hertfordshire, some even from London! It was with this choir that I’ve had some of my most memorable music experiences, such as going on tour (something I had always wanted to do!) In April 2013, the choir went on tour in Prague, where we sang in three lovely churches and got to do plenty of sight-seeing. For the first time ever for an indoor concert, the choir members and I wore coats because it was so cold inside the church- the audience gasped when the conductor took his coat off, which he put back on after a while!

Another exciting opportunity I got to do was sing in a world premiere, which is currently on my CV as an achievement! In the summer of 2013, it was announced that a composer called James McCarthy had commissioned a piece called Codebreaker for the Hertfordshire Chorus. Codebreaker is a fifty-five minute piece of music, split into fourteen sections, which uses poetry and other literary texts to commemorate the life of Alan Turing (1912-1954). Turing was a British codebreaker of the Second World War who managed to crack the Enigma codes used by the Germans, which significantly helped with the war effort.

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The commissioning of Codebreaker was exciting news for everyone in the choir, and to promote the music, a small bunch of us went to Bletchley Park for the day in September 2013 to make a promotional film to advertise it. It was at Bletchley Park where Turing worked alongside other codebreakers, a place which was kept a top secret during the war. Even after the war, everyone who worked at Bletchley Park was not allowed to reveal anything about the work that they did!

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Filming at Bletchley Park! (St Albans Review) [You can just see me at the back]
After three months of rehearsals, the Hertfordshire Chorus performed Codebreaker for the first time on Saturday 26th April 2014 at the Barbican in London. My mum and her friend, some of my university friends and members of the Chamber Orchestra came along with hundreds of other people to witness this emotionally moving music by McCarthy.

Another member of the audience was Benedict Cumberbatch! He tried to make himself discreet, but he looked like Sherlock Holmes! It was absolutely amazing to see the actor there, since he played the role of Alan Turing in the film The Imitation Game (2014).

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH Character(s): Alan Turing Film 'THE IMITATION GAME' (2014) Directed By MORTEN TYLDUM 29 August 2014 SAM46084 Allstar Collection/BLACK BEAR PICTURES **WARNING** This Photograph is for editorial use only and is the copyright of BLACK BEAR PICTURES  and/or the Photographer assigned by the Film or Production Company & can only be reproduced by publications in conjunction with the promotion of the above Film. A Mandatory Credit To BLACK BEAR PICTURES is required. The Photographer should also be credited when known. No commercial use can be granted without written authority from the Film Company. 1111z@yx
Allstar/Black Bear Pictures/Sportsphoto Ltd

Codebreaker is so emotional because it musically travels through Turing’s life, his love interest for Christopher Morcom who died of tuberculosis at eighteen years of age, and when he was persecuted for being a homosexual (it was illegal to identify as one in Turing’s time). In 1952, he was offered a choice of sentence: prison or chemical castration. Turing chose latter, and suffered from the effects of this for the next two years.

Despite his hard work and dedication during the Second World War, Turing was heavily penalised for choosing to be a homosexual and sadly, in 1954, he committed suicide by eating an apple which contained cyanide.

It was a privilege to perform McCarthy’s Codebreaker, which pays homage to such a significant man, aka ‘the father of computer science’. I was crying towards the end of the piece when I performed it just over a year ago. It wasn’t emotional just for the audience, but for the performers as well.

I left the Hertfordshire Chorus in July last year when I returned back home to Leicester. I greatly enjoyed my time with the choir, singing fantastic pieces of music and getting to know people of varying ages. When I found out that the choir was performing Codebreaker again, I had to go!

So yesterday, along with my friend Cloud Mercury, who I went to university with and who watched the first performance of Codebreaker, we went to the Barbican to see the Hertfordshire Chorus perform McCarthy’s Codebreaker again, and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

It was certainly a different experience, sitting in the audience, but I enjoyed it. I got to hear Codebreaker from an audience member’s perspective, and it was truly magical. And Orff’s musical masterpiece was mind-blowing! I could see all performers enjoying themselves.

It was nice to see familiar faces and new ones in the Hertfordshire Chorus, and some of the members saw me and waved. It makes me feel proud to know that I was once part of such a fantastic choir, that continues to thrive and perform all over the country, and amaze all of its audiences!

 

Happy reading and blogging!

 

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

 

 

 

Bipolar Sunshine

Last night I went to a gig at The Scholar bar, part of the O2 Academy in Leicester. It said on the ticket doors open at 7pm, so I got there for 6:30, the first member of the audience to turn up. As I was waiting outside in the beautiful evening, I heard a tune that was familiar. For the first time, I witnessed a sound check by the headlining band, Bipolar Sunshine. I had a sneak preview of what was to come, which was very exciting.

The Scholar Bar is a nice sized venue, ideal for new and upcoming bands. The supporting act was called Great Imitation, a four man band whose genre is soul and acoustic. The leading man is a rapper, and he was very enthusiastic on stage (and off stage when he jumped over the barrier onto the dance floor!) He is very good at rapping, but it is just not my cup of tea. Great Imitation definitely have great potential, and I recommend them to anyone who likes rap music.

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Great Imitation

Despite not being over keen with Great Imitation, I always like to watch support bands; that is how I came to fall in love with Bipolar Sunshine. I first saw the band support Bastille in 2013 and I searched for their music the day after. Later that year Bipolar Sunshine ran a competition on Facebook, and I won two tickets to see them support Rudimental on Valentine’s Day in 2014! Both times they were superb, and when I found out that they were performing in Leicester, I immediately bought myself a ticket.

The gig was originally supposed to be on the 7th October 2014, but it was moved to the 7th April 2015 instead, due to recording commitments. I was glad of the date change since I had seen Bipolar Sunshine already in 2014. The band’s recording commitments were for an album which is being released later this year; I can’t wait!

The band did not fail to astound me when they performed last night; in fact, it was the best performance I have seen of them so far. Maybe it was because this was their first headlining tour, or the smaller venue where the audience were in touching distance of the band members. Whatever it was, Bipolar Sunshine performed brilliantly!

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Bipolar Sunshine

When I tell people about the band, they first ask about the name. I’ve always thought the name as a strange one, but while writing this blog, I had a search on the internet. Bipolar Sunshine is a pseudonym for the lead singer, named Adio Marchant. Now I can tell people why the act has that name, although I still don’t know why Marchant chose that name.

The next thing people ask me is what sort of music they play. This is another question I’ve found hard to answer. I would describe Bipolar Sunshine’s music as magical, relaxing, refreshing and out of this world. This probably sounds cliché, but their music is different from any other band I have ever heard, which is why I like them so much.

The great thing about seeing bands in small venues is that you are more than likely able to meet them afterwards. A few minutes after they finished performing, Marchant and the guy on keyboard/guitar went to greet the audience. I found it very sweet when Marchant went straight over to a young boy, to have a photo and give the boy a set list.

I got to chat to both band members and have a photo with Marchant; he was really friendly and talkative. I told Bipolar Sunshine about my story of how I first saw them and won tickets. The band messaged me privately on Facebook to tell me that I had won tickets after winning their competition, which one of them had remembered!

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The photo didn’t quite work, but never mind :’)

If I’ve intrigued you enough, and I hope I have, you should check out Bipolar Sunshine’s music, and Great Imitation as well. I will definitely see the band again when they next tour; next time I will ask why Marchant calls himself Bipolar Sunshine. I wish them all the best in their music and success!

My favourite song by Bipolar Sunshine is Drowning Butterflies.

Happy reading and blogging,

Many thanks,

Clare Bear

One of my firsts

Despite my main aim of blogging, to motivate myself in my dieting and improving fitness, I had an interesting new experience on Friday night. I’m always up for opportunities to try out unfamiliar things, and the one I had this weekend was seeing a band called Steel Panther.

My boyfriend asked me to come with him, and he is a heavy metal fan. I’m not really accustomed to listening to this genre of music, but I hear it often from my sister and her fiancé, who are big fans.

On Friday 13th March at the O2 Academy in Leicester, I went with my boyfriend to see Steel Panther on their All You Can Eat tour. It was sold out and the venue was brimming with fans wearing long wigs and panther printed clothing. The best thing was for the first time, I got to stand right at the front at a gig! It definitely is worth arriving at a venue early.

The first support band, The Lounge Kittens, was a pretty cool act. They are made up of a trio of women, one of them who accompanies on the piano. The girls perform parodies of heavy metal songs, and they even performed a cover of Steel Panther’s Gloryhole. Overall they received a positive shout out from the crowd.

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The Lounge Kittens

I was a bit sceptical about the next support band, Skindred, who were more well-known to the eager Steel Panther fans. My boyfriend had told me before about the sort of music they play; heavy metal infused with reggae and dubstep. When the lead singer performed, I kept on thinking of the lemurs in the film Madagascar, singing I Like to Move It in a heavy metal style! I found watching Skindred a very strange experience, and they’re definitely not my cup of tea.

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The lead singer of Skindred

The crowd became ecstatic when Steel Panther came onto the stage. All of the members of the band have long hair and wear leggings when performing at gigs. Overall their stage presence and performing was fantastic!

I don’t listen to the genre glam rock on a regular basis, but I enjoyed the music Steel Panther played. I listened to a few of their songs so that I had something I could sing along to, but some of the songs were easy to pick up and join in with.

The band members were very interactive, making jokes about each other and picking out certain people in the audience. There was one song where I could have been on the stage with them, and part of me wishes that I did, which was for a song called 17 Girls in a Row. What put me off was that the women had to be lifted by security guards over the barrier and then onto the stage. In addition, I didn’t really know the lyrics that well, and it might have been awkward being sung to by a band member and looking at them in silence!

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Steel Panther feat. security guard

All of Steel Panther’s songs are quite explicit in their content, making reference to the private parts of both sexes and sexual activities, in particular women. However, the lyrics are comical and they use these as their overall persona as a band.

One thing that surprised me was that Steel Panther introduced a cover band from Derbyshire    called Surreal Panther. The cover band used Steel Panther’s instruments to perform Eyes of a Panther, and they seemed to do very well, even though I didn’t know the song beforehand. Steel Panther even joined in with Surreal Panther, and the crowd enjoyed it!

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Lead guitarist, Satchel

Out of all of the gigs I have been to so far, Steel Panther certainly love performing the most. They had a timer which I could see on the far left at the back of the stage, which was set for 99 minutes. They performed for that whole time!

Anyone who is a fan of Steel Panther, I recommend that you see them perform if you haven’t, and even those who do not listen to glam rock and/or heavy metal. I would probably see them again if I have the chance.