5 awesome live acts: from bass to soul to indie

London has to have the best live music scene in the world. Fact.

Here are five recent gigs I’ve seen to prove it. (This contains no shaky footage with bad sound, I promise)

1. SBTRKT

A prolific duo with an amazing live setup, SBTRKT and Sampha continue to amaze me. Last year’s self-titled album has to be one of 2011’s best.

Supported by the excellent Disclosure, the headline set opened with the stage obscured by a huge print of an African mask – like the ones SBTRKT and Sampha wear onstage to. It was part rave, part jam and being on the top balcony gave us a great overview of thousands of people going nuts in an old theatre.

The live drumming sounded amazing and it was incredible to watch them creating beats and loops whilst juggling playing drums, keyboards and singing. The highlight of the night was when the awesome Roses Gabor came onstage to perform this:

2. The Maccabees

OK, I confess, I’m not that into indie. But seeing the response to this band in Brixton Academy (another former-theatre venue) was magical. There were plenty of indie couples holding hands and cuddling to ‘their’ song, but there’s nothing like thousands of kids belting out lyrics. My highlight was this one:

3. The Black Keys

Ditto the Black Keys performing at Alexandra Palace last month. I’ve not been to such a massive rock gig since I was about 15 but the vibe was great considering how packed it was. Being 5’1″ I didn’t get to see much but me and my similarly tiny friend had a good bounce around in the armpits of tall men.

At the aftershow party I spotted Michael Kiwanuka which isn’t surprising considering they had just finished a collaboration (scroll down for the audio).

4. Michael Kiwanuka

A 24 year old Londoner with old-soul style voice and style, it seemed appropriate to see him at Islington Town Hall which has an old retro vibe.

Support came from The Staves, a close-harmony trio who had lovely voices and very funny banter between songs which didn’t go with their nice girl image: “would you rather have only forks or knives instead of hands?”

Kiwanuka also has a great stage presence, his voice and guitar playing sounding note-pefect most of the time and backed by a tight band.

Here’s the Black Keys collabo, which is the B-Side to current single ‘I’m Getting Ready’.

Also, check out this wicked show he did for BBC Radio 1Xtra recently on black guitar music.


5. The Bleeding Knees Club

And finally some indie-punk. Having grown up listening to NOFX, Rancid and Green Day, I was slightly disappointed to see that the image of the band (rather clean-looking) didn’t match the Aussie band’s scuzzy sound.

Yes, it was a Vice party so I should have expected all the hipsters taking photos of themselves but it all seemed a little tame. There was definitely no danger of anyone cutting their knee on broken glass.

Fortunately it improved greatly as they got sweatier and they had a brilliant infectious energy. There were even crowd surfers towards the end. A proper knees up.

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