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Live Review: Yo La Tengo at Academy 2

Much like the most recent Manchester derby, Yo La Tengo’s gig at Academy 2 was a game of two halves.  Known for their massive discography and devout cult fandom, they attracted a savvy, locked-in crowd for their gig at Academy 2.  They ran with a double set with no support acts, opening up with an ethereal collection of songs from the more folky, psychedelic side of their catalogue.  The venue suited this aesthetic well, and the way the hushed guitars and double bass timbres of tunes like ‘The Crying Lot of G’ reverberated around the vast space was a real treat for the ears.  Dream-pop number ‘Nowhere Near’ was a standout moment of the night, enrapturing the crowd with its subdued beauty and Georgia Hubley’s delicate vocals. They closed the first set with ‘Here You Are’, a cut from their new record ‘There’s a Riot Going On’, which sat comfortably alongside older material, proving their music has lost none of their vitality over the years.

A short interval separated the two sets, and as punters topped up on pints and snuck outside for cigarettes, Yo La Tengo dusted off their distortion pedals in preparation for a much harsher second set.  Ira Kaplan swapped the whispered vocals of the first half for screeches and yelps set against walls of guitar feedback, chugging drums and zany keyboard motifs. ‘False Alarm’ from 1995’s ‘Electr-O-Pura’ was one such tune, and a timely reminder of the band’s vital place in the 90’s alt-rock ecosystem.  As the set drew to a close, the krautrock and shoegaze stylings of fan favourite ‘Sugarcube’ ignited the Academy with a maelstrom of abrasive guitar licks.  During the encore Kaplan told the crowd he would ‘‘honour the city’s musical heritage’’, and despite a few tongue-in-cheek calls to cover ‘Wonderwall’ from some members of the crowd, they opted instead for ‘Dream On’ by Herman’s Hermits.  There is a reason why Yo La Tengo is probably your favourite artists’ favourite artist, and why they have always been a staple of nerdy conversations in record shops; with an expansive back catalogue and a stonking live show to boot, its hard to see their relevance waning anytime soon.  


When Fuse Met… TVAM. TVAM is a solo project made up of Joe Oxley along with his guitar and bulky TV screen. Psych-rock loops and echoey vocals pair with heavily distorted VCR images and lyrics on the TV to create an immersive and hypnotic experience. I caught up with Joe before his performance at Band On The Wall’s “Free Vibes” to talk music, nostalgia, and subliminal messaging.


HO: Starting off with the basics, how would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to it before?

TVAM: I always find that a bit tough to answer. When I started off it was much more about being sort of Oh Sees-ish but I’ve always been interested in electronic music and using synthesizers so for me it’s shifted. Now it’s a bit more like Suicide. A bit more like My Bloody Valentine. Those are probably the nearest references at the moment.


So you’ve been performing as TVAM since around 2014?

Right towards the end of 2014 yeah.


How do you think this project differs to projects you’ve been involved with before? Do you think you’ve changed much as a musician?

Well this is the first solo project that I’ve done. Before it I played in countless different bands. The main kind of thing was 60s garage and surf music or more the surf revival. I was really interested in a band called Man or Astro-Man? which is like classic surf music if you mixed it with Devo. It’s very different being in band to then doing something on your own, certainly on stage because you’re not there with your mates. Performance becomes a very different process. I think that a band naturally progresses together and you have different characters that are leading it whereas in a solo project it’s all me. To be fair though I think it gave me the chance to do it exactly how I wanted to with the visuals and everything.


Nice to have full control!

Yeah, I can really just gorge on everything I love!


How did you first get into playing music?

I’ve been playing for quite a while now. I think it’s the same reason that many do. Friends around you start getting into music and playing instruments so you pick something up and it’s fun. From that you start to be able to use it as a tool to express the stuff that’s in your head. Influences change along the way but the really important thing is that ability to put something that was just in your head out into the world.


With lyrics in particular, where would you say those influences come from?

If I’m honest, I quite like advertising. I like the way it wants to speak to your subconscious and create a lasting image or a particular coupling of words that sticks. As a performer using both music and visual aspects, there are times when I will use lyrics up on the screen or even lyrics on the screen that go unsung, adding to that subconscious edge.


That subliminal messaging is so effective! After seeing you play “Total Immersion” for the first time with the lyrics only on the screen, I can’t listen to the song without hearing words that aren’t there.

It’s funny, you’re not the only one that’s said that! I think it’s really cool that it has worked out like that because that’s kind of how it happened to me. I was writing the song and I could hear those words but didn’t want to sing them because the track felt like an instrumental.


How did you get into tape editing to be able to create that visual aspect of the performance?

Well I actually use a combination of analogue and digital sources. I’ll tend to use analogue for effects and mixing and then edit it and put it together digitally but in terms of working strictly with VHS, that became an interest because I wanted to challenge myself. It also just coupled so well with the music that I was making and am still making. With VHS you don’t get high definition, it just feels as it was. I think it’s quite novel to be able to take things that I knew as a child and use elements of those for something I’m putting out now at this age.


It seems there’s an element of nostalgia in your work.

Nostalgia does form a big part of it. I am of two minds about it though. You can see in conversations with your friends, collectively we have an enjoyment of nostalgia but how much of it is just pining for memories and your childhood? So there are two sides. It can be regressive in some ways but if you harness it in the right way you can make something new. I do think it’s really interesting since it’s such a personal thing. Two people can have very different experiences of the same reference and so one person’s nostalgia may be very different to another’s.


Do you think there’s added value in continuing to release music in formats that may be considered nostalgic like vinyl and tape?

As an artist, it’s something special to be able to create a physical artefact and be able to see a physical manifestation of your work. Digital is fantastic for the speed at which you can get something out there but I think there is something more to be able to pick something up and say that’s something I’ve created. Likewise I think there’s value in the records and tapes that I buy from the bands that I like. I probably come across way more music online and on streaming platforms but when I find something that I really like I want to have the record in my collection.


Last question now! Who are your current favourites in your collection to listen to?

Soft Moon’s most recent album is pretty cool! I really change around a lot. One artist that I listened to recently that I really liked was Zombie Zombie which is dance-y electronic with some really interesting production and they got this French comic artist called Druillet to do the album art which was really cool since I’m a big fan of his stuff.

You can find a review of TVAM’s show at Free Vibes here:

Live Review: Pale Waves at Gorilla

Placed 5th on BBC’s Sound of 2018, Pale Waves have gone from strength to strength and their sold
out gig at Manchester’s Gorilla proved why they have been described as ‘the goth pop hybrid you
didn’t know you needed.’

As I arrived, Our Girl was just about to begin and I was thoroughly impressed by their set. While a
much darker sound than Pale Waves, Our Girl is an enigmatic three piece band that is set to go far.
The lead singer Soph Nathan was engaging and her vocals had an almost relaxing quality to them. I
was especially impressed by the drummer, Lauren Wilson whose passion and energy made me very
drawn to watching her perform. I really enjoyed their set and have already downloaded several of
their songs!

And then came the main event. The headliners entered to a cool, retro guitar riff which was
accompanied by many cheers from an excited crowd. Opening with one of their biggest hits
‘Television Romance,’ Pale Waves instantly captured the audience excitement with their
performance. Lead singer Heather Baron- Gracie eccentric look perfectly captured the vibe of their
80’s inspired music as her Robert Smith inspired gothic look was complimented with her equally
eccentric moves that accompanied many of the lyrics. While the set only lasted 45 minutes, it was
packed with all the songs from their debut EP ‘All the things I’ve never said,’ while also including
some new songs. Ending on a high with their single ‘There’s a Honey’ that had the audience singing
back pretty much all the lyrics, it proves how much of an impact this band has already had on the
alternative music scene. They were a brilliant, high energy band who are going to become huge in
the next couple of years and they deserve all the recognition and success they have been given.


Madeleine Twigg

Live Review: Superorganism at Gorilla

Superorganism have exploded on the scene and true to their name, have evolved a sound far more experimental and technical than most other artists. True to form, their live show follows the same ambition, sound, and audacity seen in their debut album.

Upon arrival at Gorilla, I was greeted by a real mix bag of gig-goers. There was a healthy dose of students, a few Brewdog-sipping, earplug-wearing 6Music dads at the back, and some younger teens with chaperone dads at one of their first gigs. This mismatch of people really helped generate a relaxed atmosphere, which suited both Superorganism and the support act, Pi Ja Ma.

Pi Ja Ma is a French act specialising in upbeat alt-pop songs, but it must be said that at Gorilla they performed to their absolute limit. Singer Pauline de Tarragon’s vocals pierced through the room, grabbing everyone’s attention, even the Brewdog-sipping dads. Even between songs there was no reason to head to the bar. The back-and-forth between de Tarragon and the guitarist was witty, engaging, and nicely warmed up the crowd before the entrance of the headliners, Superorganism.

Superorganism arrived to a cacophony of noise, strobe lights, and excitement. First up was “It’s All Good”, which then bounced straight into “Nobody Cares”, keeping the rhythm going. Through the whole set the backing vocals of B, Ruby, and Soul kept the rhythm going, and the dancing nicely complemented the feel of the gig.

A special mention must go to lead vocalist OJ, who was struggling through the night with a severe sore throat. Telling the audience that she was in tears during her soundcheck for the BBC earlier in the day, she powered through the gig (with a side-order of tea as a boost) with an impressive performance, sounding as engaging as the debut album does recorded.

The only negative of the show was the length: for a band with one album of only ten songs and 32 minutes in length, I expected a full play-through of the record. However, the band only performed nine songs, missing Relax (a personal favourite). This did mean their whole performance was just over 45 minutes, and for a £12 entry fee, some fans may have felt short-changed. This obviously will change as the band release more records, but some nevertheless may feel something was missing.

Overall, Pi Ja Ma and Superorganism served up an eclectic mix of new sounds, art-pop, and a stunning light show that will live long in my memory. Superorganism are pushing the boundaries of pop music, and their live shows reflect that.



Ethan Davies for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Tom Misch at The O2 Ritz

The Tom Misch gig at The O2 Ritz on Friday 2nd March sold out immediately – the 22 year old artist is one of the biggest names to rise through the ranks and he keeps on delivering. The Ritz isn’t usually our go to on a Friday night but on the 2nd it was the hottest ticket in town. 

Misch plays a mixture of funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz and the gig promised to be slick and effortlessly relaxed. The whole performance was smooth start to finish. His melodic voice was met with screams as well as many audience members standing back and appreciating the great music. 

Misch brought a young crowd to the Ritz but there was no shoving or competing for the front – the Ritz was full of music lovers and the atmosphere was filled with nothing but positive vibes. 

The gig was made extra special by the fact that it really was a family affair. Mr and Mrs Misch were screaming at the back and got numerous shout outs. We were also graced with the presence of Misch’s very talented sister, Laura, during ‘Movie.’ The instrumentals and Misch’s excellently executed guitar playing evoked warmth and calm, along with his smooth voice. 

There was talk that his best pal, Loyle Carner would make a guest appearance. Though it didn’t happen, Misch more than delivered, playing a new array of songs amongst old favourites. ‘Movie’ was magical and ‘South of the River’ was absolutely brilliant.

After dropping the new track with De La Soul, ‘It Runs through Me’ just a day before, Misch was switched on and every song was delivered with energy, invoking positivity throughout the gig. 

I’ve been waiting to see Misch for a long time and he did not disappoint! Ending on a high with ‘Watch Me Dance,’ Tom Misch left the stage of the Ritz with fans chanting for more. However, he left us in anticipation – hopefully he’ll be back in Manchester ASAP. Overall, great, great gig.  


By Jodie Bryant for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Free Vibes x Amazing Radio at Band On The Wall

I attended my first Free Vibes show at Band on the Wall and was pretty taken aback by the quality and variety of great local music on offer for free. Free Vibes is a regular night put on by Band on the Wall that aims to showcase up and coming musicians. For this night, Free Vibes teamed up with Amazing Radio’s Shell Zenner to curate 4 exciting artists. Genre-wise there was a taste of everything which brought in a wonderfully diverse crowd. First up was synth-pop duo Koalas who opened the show with cheerful synthesisers and effortless Everything Everything style vocals. At their best with their heavier synth intros, Koalas left me pining for carefree, summer days.

Third act Then Thickens arrived with an on stage confrontation of personal demons from front man and driving force in the band, Jon Lee-Martin. Lee-Martin sings stories of drug addiction and tragedy over bright indie guitar melodies which give the music an altogether more hopeful narrative. With their sometimes familiar sounding 90s riffs, Then Thickens hold their own through their front man’s sincere and cathartic vocals.

Photo: MohawkCallum Photos.

Stand outs were all girl punk band Witch Fever and solo artist TVAM. Witch Fever gave a performance that started out crazed and only got wilder as the set went on. Heavy grunge riffs drive the tracks and rumble through the floor whilst front woman Amy Hope switches from powerful, clean vocals to growls and frenzied screams at breakneck speed. A few songs in and half of the band have done away with their t-shirts leaving only bras and tattoos in what felt not like an invite to objectification but a furious challenge to it. An embrace of sexuality independent of the male gaze. The band’s use of all the space available to them made for an electrifying performance which concluded with bass playing whilst lying on the floor, in the crowd. Witch Fever gave a display of shameless female anger and empowerment. I’m interested to see them play a headline gig with a crowd perhaps a little readier to join in their antics. That would be a truly riotous show.

Last on was TVAM who took to the stage with a large CRT television and VCR, the kind your substitute teacher might have wheeled out in school. He’s setting up for what is one of the most unique visual performances I have seen in a while. Two new tracks start the ball rolling with fuzzy guitar riffs and strange distorted videos flashing away on the T.V. Looping motor-like synthesisers and mirrored images during second track “Narcissus” create an experience that is almost hypnotic. Next up is “Porsche Majeure”, a fan favourite. The tracks starts out with its beautiful and distinctly cosmic sounding 80s synth melody. Surf influenced guitar solos feature in between muffled vocals so echoey they become almost choral. The set concludes with a new personal favourite, the guitar heavy “Total Immersion”. I love the krautrock influence here. Find a good guitar riff and just keep playing it! It’s totally comfortable in its repetitiveness, becoming heavier during the choruses. Interestingly, “Total Immersion” is an instrumental but has accompanying words that go unsung. They flash on the screen of the VCR television like subliminal messaging. Highly effective subliminal messaging at that. Now when I listen to the track alone, I can almost hear the missing vocals. The piece continues through its mesmerizing spiral until it hits an abrupt end, firing you out of the psychedelic trip it pulled you through. TVAM has created a genuinely intense sonic and visual experience made all the more exciting because just one man is responsible for all of it.

Free Vibes and Amazing Radio brought together an eclectic mix of talented musicians for a roller-coaster of a night. I can’t wait to see what fresh and exciting artists will be at the next Free Vibes show.


Hannah O’Gorman for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Hollie Cook at Gorilla

Hollie Cook leaps on stage to begin her first headline tour stop in Manchester. The support band ‘General Roots’ begin a deep and sonorous rhythm to get the stirring crowd moving, who had become slightly languid from the wait. The warm beat they lay down is then split-open by Cook’s voice, with an excited ‘Hello Manchester!’ to accompany her elated stage-entrance. Driven by her evident excitement, the crowd fixate on the stage and the night begins.

Despite her new music’s increasing departure from classic reggae rhythms and sounds, the musical style of the night emphasises Hollie’s sustained relevance on the reggae scene. Although her new album, ‘Vessel of Love’ confidently demonstrates her self-proclaimed tropical-pop nature, the tough reggae-rhythmic backing on the night established a firm grip on the roots of her musical style. New songs such as ‘Stay Alive’ and ‘Angel Fire’, which lean more towards her euphoric and ethereal tropical persuasion, are re-moulded and re-rooted in a ‘dubby’ grounding, emphasised not only through the use of digital dub effects, but so too through the inclusion of King Tubby style ‘version’ endings to each of her songs. “Are you ready for a reggae party” she shouts with a nod to the roots reggae enthusiasts present in the crowd.

Hollie’s assertion that she will bring “sunshine in the form of music” is nothing short of fact, bearing in mind the icy sleet outside. At this point, she still hasn’t introduced herself. Whether through a cheeky confidence or an excited amnesia, she waits until the end of the fourth song to explain who she is. Of course, the crowd are fully acquainted with the divine-voiced enigma on stage, yet the humble and gripping affability of her personality that I had experienced earlier in our interview was now made clear, as she spoke to the crowd with a refreshingly genuine tone.

Moving onwards, General Roots begin the melody to ‘Desdemona’, one of Hollie’s most enchanting songs. Accompanying this, she reveals a new side to her stage personality. Replacing her near-bashful illusionary aura, the looming strings of ‘Desdemona’ bring a menacing and alluring presence to the Gorilla stage. This mystifying twist continued as a theme throughout many of her songs, giving the night an excitingly sinister edge; something her new album has slightly forgotten. ‘Milk and Honey’ begins, and the exceptional skill of ‘General Roots’ is accentuated, as once again they strip back melody and enter a dubbed-up version of the song, now allowing each band member an introduction and solo.

They finish, and the encore procedure ensues, this time returning with a firm favourite, ‘Postman’. Hollie explains how Manchester had always had a “special energy”, a comment that taken out of context may seem predictable, yet the glow of excitement on her face asserts its genuine origins. With an ecstatic stint on the keys, reminiscent of her days playing with ‘The Slits’, Hollie finishes the song and leaves the stage, allowing General Roots the stage time they deserve to end the night. The evening provided a musical oscillation; a journey between her newer tropical-utopian-pop and her former dub-inspired entrancing works, each one crisply executed alongside her distinctly cordial charm.




Louis Blatherwick for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Rex Orange County at Gorilla

The sold out Rex Orange County gig at Manchester’s Gorilla definitely lived up to expectations. 

Rex Orange County, otherwise known as Alex O’Connor and is one of 2018s most exciting new artists. The release of his first two albums bcos u will never be free and Apricot Princess have set the bar high; the gig did not fail to deliver the slickness and charm of the records. 

The set was very short, but effortlessly cool and laid back. O’Connor impressed by accompanying his own singing regularly on the keyboard and guitar. The whole gig had an air of relaxation about it. He switched from instrument to instrument and graciously said “thank you” after every song.

A mixture of his first two albums, O’Connor’s songs really brought the crowd together. Picking up the energy with songs like ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Best Friend,’ which induced energetic moshing and some dancing on shoulders provided the gig with excitement. Whereas he also really toned it down and introduced the slower paced tracks such as Corduroy Dreams and ‘A Song About Being Sad.’

A definite credibility moment was when when he asked audience members to put down their phones and just enjoy the music. It was easy listening and one of the most laid back performances I’ve ever seen. O’Connor switched instruments and chatted into his songs effortlessly. He sounded exactly like the studio albums and you could just tell that he is a genuinely talented guy. 

‘Sunflower’, ‘Loving is Easy’ and of course, ‘Uno’ reflected the loyalty in this fanbase; the crowd was word perfect. He was very humble and the trumpet and saxophone players had impressive, individual solos. As well as this, he brought out his girlfriend to sing some stunning vocals during the set. It wasn’t self indulgent at all.

The gig ended with ‘Happiness,’ bringing with it an explosion of energy and screams. Much to the fans’ disappointment, cries for “One more song!” at the end were ignored. 

Short, sweet and simple, just wish the set had been longer.


Jodie Bryant for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Alvvays at Academy 2

Since forming in 2011, Alvvays (pronounced always) have crafted a jangly, dream-pop aesthetic
brimming with Greta Gerwig-esque charm which last year garnered critical acclaim on their sophomore
LP ‘Antisocialites’. Antisocialites marked a clear improvement from their self-titled debut in terms of
song writing and production value, with front woman Molly Rankin delivering a stunning performance

As I arrived the support band ‘Spinning Coin’ were already underway. Spinning Coin offered a stark
contrast in voices between the 2 main vocalists on stage, with the abrasive vocals of Jack Mellin cutting
across the more delicate tones of Sean Armstrong. This partnership offered an interesting dynamic to
the Glaswegian outfit’s sound and I enjoyed the energy they brought to their set.

The headliners approached the stage to a swarm of pastel coloured patterns and static projected upon
them before playing the opening track of their latest album ‘In Undertow’. The crowd responded with
warm cheers as Kerri MacLellan’s arpeggiated synth draws the song to a close and Rankin remarked with
a smile, “Do you know what I like about Manchester? It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday night”. Alvvays
continue to pull out hits, with “Plimsol Punks” and “Archie, Marry Me” following shortly after. One
striking difference between watching the band live and listening to their records is how much more
prominent Rankin’s vocals are. Almost as a trope of the genre her angelic voice merges with the
shimmering instrumentation on their records, but live she truly was the focal point of the music. This
was never more the case than half way through their set when the lights dimmed, and a spot light shone
upon her for ‘Forget About Life’. The crowd sang every lyric back to Rankin as the thudding toms from
Sheridan Riley started to deliver a pulsating rhythm building in a small crescendo. After a brief exodus
from the stage for one of the most predictable and redundant encores I have ever witnessed, the band
re-emerged to play ‘Party Police’. Throughout the show it was endearing how enamoured the band
were with the sincere response they received from the crowd.

After watching Alvvays live, I must admit I am now a bigger fan. They have a charm and brilliance which
you can’t fully appreciate from their exploits on record. If you are a fan, make sure you make effort to
catch them live as it does breathe new life into their music.




Jack Walker for Fuse FM.