Sum41 – Don’t call it a Sum-back

Canadian punk rockers Sum 41 brought their high-octane live show to Rockhal on Thursday night as they returned to Luxembourg for the first time in seven years.

Having burst onto the scene back in 2001 with their aptly named multi-platinum debut ‘All Killer No Filler’, Sum41 have since been through the mill, with multiple line-up changes and rehab for alcohol addiction. However, they returned last autumn with their first record in five years with ’13 Voices’, which harks back to a heavier thrash sound.

Opening with ’13 Voices’, frontman and last original member Deryck Whibley flew out the traps with boundless energy and verve that we’ve come to expect from Sum41 and never let up all evening.

Having come back from a longer than anticipated hiatus the band look to have found their groove once more, pulling out all the stops from confetti cannons and balloons to a giant inflatable skull. Whibley even picked a few fans from the front to come and join them at the side of the stage for the whole set, which I’m sure they won’t forget in a hurry.

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Celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band they delved back into their rich treasure trove of pop-punk classics with the likes of ‘Underclass Hero’ and ‘war’ which Whibley dedicated to the Sum41 family, as they helped him through his darkest days, referencing his public battle with alcoholism.

With the first half of the set leaning heavily on the new record with the likes of ‘Fake My Own Death’ and ‘Goddam I’m Dead Again’ Sum41 proved they’re not just putting our records so they can tour the old hits, as the new album holds up next to anything that has proceeded it and given them a new lease of life live.

With the crowd feeding off the high tempo of the band it wasn’t long before moshpits appeared, along with plenty of crowd surfers popping up throughout, whilst the band went into the back catalogue with ‘Motivation’.

Even though they have a healthy repertoire of their own to pull from, they still brought out a couple of covers with Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ getting as good a reaction as anything on the night. Before their take on Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ had the whole crowd sitting on the floor before jumping to their feet for the chorus.

Whibley had the audience suitably under his spell from the stage, however he made his way through the crowd to the back of the venue to take up a small platform in front of the sound desk, where he would play ‘Make No Difference’ on his own.

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Although the new record produced some much-welcomed thrash urgency it’s the punk anthems that have allowed them to play venues the size of Rockhal for the last 15 years and when you can finish a set on ‘Still Waiting’ and ‘In Too Deep’ then you understand why their legions of fans keep returning.

Rockhal – 9/03/17

‘Magnetised’ Tom Odell delights Luxembourg

Tom Odell played his first show of the year on Sunday night and it was in Luxembourg, as he returned to den Atelier to the delight of the sold-out crowd.

Having thrilled audiences at Neimënster back in 2015 Tom Odell returned to the Grand Duchy armed with his new album “Wrong Crowd”. After launching onto the scene back in 2013 with his chart-topping debut album “Long Way Down”, Odell had kept fans waiting for a follow up until last summer.

Three years on and Odell is back with another album full of piano ballads and heartache, whilst finding room for a few extra dimensions. Those extras were evident the second the lights lit up the stage, revealing two drum kits sitting behind the grand piano which took up much of the Atelier stage.

Donning a grey suit Odell took to the piano and opened the evening with “Still Getting Used to Being on My Own”. His crisp vocals washed over the bittersweet sound of his soulful piano, before the band came crashing in with the two drum kits, bass, and guitar adding the layers and verve to a sound which can’t be found on his record.

He seemed to be adamant in making an immediate impression, as he followed it up with “I Know” another barnstorming rendition which wouldn’t have felt out of place closing the night.

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Throughout the evening Odell moved around the stage, even jumping down into the pit to hold the hands of his adoring fans, but no matter how affable his chat about his trousers being too short are, he doesn’t come across as a natural frontman.

His natural habitat seems to be behind the piano, where he looks most confident and comfortable and where he proves he is more than just another pop star but a real musician that knows his craft.

With a soulful rendition of the title track “Wrong Crowd” he once more showed his progression as an artist, whilst still harking back to his powerful piano melodies that have served him so well thus far in his career.

Although his new album isn’t even a year old yet Odell tested a new song on his fans, with “Valium” or “Come and Gone” (title yet to be decided). Whilst the solo performance didn’t initially sound like it moved far from his safe ground, you could hear a pin drop as his fans lapped up every second of it.

Whilst the numerous couples enjoyed the new song it was “Another Love” that had them all embracing and swaying side to side as they sang their hearts out. This is Odell at his heart wrenching best, where his songwriting connects and why he won an Ivor Novello award for best songwriter back in 2014.

The encore was mostly reserved for debut album tracks like “Till I Lost” and the ballad “Grow Old With Me”, before finishing up on his euphoric pop single “Magnetised”, which he must’ve thought was a sure fire hit when released.

Here’s hoping that Odell can show more conviction on the next record and really push his sound and his fans into new territory. He is clearly exceptionally talented but some of it seems to be watered down to appease either his label or radio.

den Atelier – 12.02.17

Arena filling sound of Bastille

Having burst onto the scene back in 2013 with their debut album “Bad Blood” Bastille went from playing small undersold venues, to selling out London’s Shepherd’s Bush Academy in a matter of months and they haven’t looked back since.

Their blend of anthemic indie pop with upbeat synths looks to have connected with a wider audience with their follow-up album “Wild World” breaking into the top ten around the globe. The album also received praise from music critics too as they tackled a tougher narrative whilst still retaining their positive outlook on another album full of floor fillers.

As they took to the stage with a brass section in tow they launched into “Send Them Off”, a hip hop inspired track which saw frontman Dan Smith covering every inch of the stage as he jumped around with unlimited energy whipping up the crowd.

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The band continued through the new album with “Warmth” and “Snakes” as the large video backdrops came into their own, showing news clippings, whilst they managed to keep the energy levels up with their synth pop stadium fillings singles.

Although Smith was taking up every inch of the stage, this didn’t seem to be enough for him as he made his way into the crowd and meandered his way to the back high-fiving the audience whilst still delivering faultless vocals on “Flaws”.

The stage show itself was as slick as the songs, with choreographed videos and interplay between the band as Smith took time to engage with the crowd at every opportunity before launching into “The Draw” which with its chaotic wall of synths, guitars and brass all fighting for attention, created a rare but welcomed moment of clutter in a all together slick production.

As the evening began to draw to a close Smith once more made his way to the back of the venue climbing onto a platform in front to the sound desk asking the crowd to join him in jumping around to their rendition of “The Rhythm Of The Night” and “Rhythm Is A Dancer” mashup as he asked the whole crowd to crouch down before launching themselves into the air as the beat kicked in.

The group closed the night, as ever, on ‘Pompeii’. After all the mock propaganda and apocalyptic undertones of the song, one of the central lines “How am I gonna be an optimist about this?” certainly feels more poignant now than when it was released only three years ago.

Rockhal – 31.01.17

Euphoric pop of The Temper Trap

Having broken through in 2009 with their irresistible debut single “Sweet Disposition” The Temper Trap evoked the sounds of U2 with their stadium-filling anthemic pop-rock, so it wasn’t too surprising to find they soon began supporting The Rolling Stones and Coldplay on world tours.

After their second album didn’t quite hit the same heights of their debut they took some time out before recording their third record “Thick as Thieves”. With a four year break between the two records, The Temper trap looked to have recaptured some of that initial spark whilst adding an electronic sheen to their sound.

Opening the evening was local indie pop favourites Seed To Tree who once more held their own against an international touring act. With the band due to record some new music over the next year they tested some new material on the crowd and if those songs are anything to go by, there is another stellar album in waiting.

As The Temper Trap took to the stage they wasted no time in introducing their fans to their new record, kicking off the nights proceedings with the title track “Thick as Thieves”. With its propulsive drumbeat and the unmistakable falsetto vocals of frontman Dougy Mandagi they certainly grabbed the attention of the crowd from that off and never let up.

The early part of the set leant heavily on the new material with “Fall Together” and “Burn” both proving that the band have looked to strip their sound back since losing the services of their original lead guitarist Lorenzo Silitto. With this new line-up they have lost some of their more experimental soundscapes, replacing it with a melodic, wistful indie pop with heavy guitar riffs and pounding drums.

Although Mandagi was engaging throughout, it took him till “Science of Fear” before he truly let loose, jumping down into the crowd and singing along with their faithful following with his soaring vocals, thunderous drum beat and driving keys provided a sugar rush of good feeling.

They even found some time for theatrics as they finished the set with the pounding rhythm of the “Drum Song”. Mandagi brought the drum tom to the front of the stage and subtly poured water on it and as the song came to its crescendo he pounded away, with the water spraying up in the air blue man style.

They returned for a four track encore which of course included their monster hit “Sweet Disposition” with its U2 style guitar intro the crowd instantly knew what was coming and began to sing away as they were caught up in the euphoric sound of the band finest moment.

den Atelier – 29.01.17

Rotondes sways to the rhythm of Nick Waterhouse

American rhythm and blues artist Nick Waterhouse brought his swinging grooves to a sold out Rotondes on Saturday night.

Over the last five years’ singer-songwriter, producer and rhythm and blues enthusiast Nick Waterhouse has re-light the torch for the late 50, early 60s R’n’B sound. With shimmering tambourine, girl group backing vocals and brass giving us an irresistible glimpse of a bygone era.

With Leon Bridges debut in 2015 bringing soul and R’n’B back into the spotlight, Waterhouse has surely benefited from this new found attention, allowing him to breakout from the niche audience his first two albums attracted. Like Bridges, Waterhouse’ attention to detail and ability to recreate an old sound whilst still managing to keep it fresh is what make him stand out from others.

Taking to the hot and sweaty stage of a sold out Rotondes, Waterhouse and his band launched into the R’n’B drenched “I Had Some Money” with the saxophone and organ driving the song forward whilst the backing vocals punctuated the oh so sweet tone of Waterhouse’ guitar.

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Although there was certainly emphasis on the rhythm it took a while for a fairly stagnant crowd to find their dancing shoes but once they did there was no stopping them. Maybe it was the booze or just an onslaught of the most rhythm inducing, hip shaking grooves this side of New Orleans but by the time they rocked out to “Is That Clear” with the searing rich vocals of Waterhouse trademark electric guitar riffs, deep hook and irresistible tempos you couldn’t help but get down to the beat.

Vocally, Waterhouse is as spirited as he is studious, crooning and belting it out at all the appropriate moments with just the right amount of swagger to command the stage. Whilst he still allowed the band to have their own moments in the spotlight, as they kept the tempo upbeat throughout the whole evening.

The fact that the tempo never dropped meant the set flew by with “Some Place” finishing up the evening having just past the hour mark, fortunately for the audience who by this time were in rapturous applause they would return for a double encore.

Finally finishing up with “Say I Wanna Know” and The Seeds classic “Pushin’ Too Hard” they left the crowd sweaty but yet still crying for more which is no mean feat. With songs this well constructed they’ll always find and audience, so lets just hope with this revival in R’n’B other acts can approach it with as much detail and authenticity at Waterhouse does.

Rotondes – 28/01/17

The funny peculiar Divine Comedy entertains Luxembourg

One of the UKs most enduring and quirky bands The Divine Comedy finally made their way to Luxembourg on Friday night at den Atelier.

Late last year The Divine Comedy fronted by Neil Hannon, the only ever-present member of the band, released their 11th studio album ‘Foreverland’.

Although they achieved their greatest commercial success back in the mid to late 90s with nine top 40 singles including a top ten with ‘National Express’, their new album has charted better in the UK, Ireland and France than any previous albums to date. Much of this continued success is to do with a passionate and loyal fan base that only grows as Hannon proves he still has a knack of writing quirky songs.

Taking to the stage in full Napoleon Bonaparte regalia, Hannon opened with the piano driven ‘How Can You Leave Me On My Own’. It instantly highlights why Hannon has had such a dedicated fan base, with humours lyrics aplenty with the song an ode to a loved one, begging them not to abandon the singer for just a couple of hours.

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When you leave I become a moron, a beer-swilling time-killing moron / I surgically remove all of the green food from my diet, I know I should be reading but I’m too lazy to try it” he pleads.

It’s not just the lyrical content that grabs you but the slightest of gestures from Hannon himself as with just the slight raise of an eyebrow he manages to convey a hundred word in one gest.

With such a well received new record it was a delight to hear much of the early part of the set peppered with tracks from it. Never one to shy away from a subject Hannan called out “the fascists are rising we should make a ‘Pact’”, before launching into the jaunty marching rhythm of the song of the same name. Hannon has a knack of mixing humour, love and despair in his songs whilst always keeping the upbeat feel with the lightest of touches.

The orchestral and operatic ‘The Certainty of Chance’ once more highlight Hannon’s deep warm vocals before he made his way off stage leaving the band to finish. He returned a couple of minutes later wearing a suit, bowler hat and with umbrella in hand for ‘The Complete Banker’, in which the irony of the lyrics “Well maybe this recession is a blessing in disguise, We can build a much much bigger bubble the next time, And leave the rest to clean our mess up” was not lost on Hannon as he smiled and said  “I hope there are no members of the banking community here tonight”.

Lisa O’Neil who supported on the night joined for ‘Funny Peculiar’ with their contrasting vocals creating a wonderful juxtaposition in this most witty and delicate of love songs.

The end of the evening leant heavily on the older material with ‘The Lady of A Certain Age’, ‘Something for the Weekend’ and of course ‘National Express’ which had the crowd swaying and singing once more.

The Divine Comedy proved why they’re so well loved, with an exciting set packed with the old and new. Whilst Hannon gave a lesson in showmanship with his genial manner truly endearing the crowd who he had under his spell all evening.

den Atelier – 27/01/17

Kid Colling Cartel rocks Atelier

Local blues guitarist Stéphane “Kid” Colling launched his debut album at den Atelier on Saturday night to an excited crowd.

Over the last few weeks you’d be hard pushed to find anyone who hasn’t heard the name Kid Colling, as he has found himself on all the media outlets from radio, print and TV, pushing the release of his album launch show on Saturday night. However, it looked like the hard graft paid off as den Atelier was bustling with anticipation for the launch of Colling’s long awaited debut album “In The Devil’s Court”.

Having toured extensively over the last few years Colling finally found time out to record his debut record with his band the Cartel, which is made up of Vincent Charrue on keys and Hammond organ, David Franco on bass and Florian Pons on drums. Like many debuts, Colling introduced many of his influences over the years onto the record and all that came out in the live show last night.

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With the band taking to the stage first, they allowed Colling to receive the applause as he arrived on his own looking like a man on a mission to entertain and that he did. Instantly taking to the wah wah pedal Colling revved up the early proceedings as the band wove together harmonising blues riffs whilst the rich smooth tones of Colling’s vocals came to the fore. As it was an album launch Colling had a few extra tricks up his sleeve with backing singers and a few guest guitarists coming on through the night.

Whilst it’s Colling’s band it never felt that the night was all about him but more like a collective, all moving in the same direction. They were all allowed their own space to showcase their abilities whilst Colling orchestrated and dropped in the odd solo and warming vocal when required.

Although Colling and his band lean heavily on the blues, there are enough influences from other genres which allowed them to mix up the time signatures on many of the songs, keeping the night fresh and flowing. This gave a certain dynamic to the proceedings, with Colling’s touch ardent and full of feeling but also perfectly controlled. Whether it was on a straight up blues number or one of their blues rock tracks there was always passion and fun, as Colling could barely hide the smile on his face all evening.

As the night was a celebration of the rich blues scene in Luxembourg it was fitting that Remo Cavallini joined them onstage for a cover of BB King’s “How Blue Can You Get”, with the two guitarists leaning into one another as their guitar riffs sung in unison.

For the encore the stage would become packed with blues talent as Fred Barreto of the Fred Barreto Group and most of Heavy Petrol, both of whom supported on the night, joined Colling and his band as they launched into “I Don’t Care” which continued the party atmosphere going to the last moment of a set which was just shy of 2 hours, which is quite an achievement for a debut album launch night.

Having released the record so early on in the year it’s hard not to think this will certainly be an exciting year for the bluesman, who has also been chosen to represent Luxembourg at the European Blues Challenge in April.

den Atelier – 14/01/17