Tag Archive: Arena Birmingham


It’s an amazing injustice that despite the fact I purchased this band’s debut album, Showbiz, when it was first released, added to the fact I have seen most rock bands I like many, many times, I had never seen Muse until Tuesday September 17 2019. No reason, other than their shows were always in the wrong place at the wrong time. Therefore, I am glad this has now been rectified.

Watching Muse isn’t just attending a rock concert, it’s witnessing a theatrical spectacle and although I am usually more in favour of letting the music do the talking, this approach works for Muse. And it’s that mix of special effects combined with kick-ass rock which sticks in the memory most. From laser spectaculars, and an army of choreographed robot dancers, to the appearance at the end of a giant … erm, thing (Some sort of robot, monster, I think). The whole experience was immense.

Straight from the off, Matt Bellamy, Chris Wolstenholme and Dominic Howard showcased their recent album, Simulation Theory, throughout the show. Pressure is my favourite of the newer stuff, and I reckon I’d class it up there with the best in what is now 20 years of recording success.

But we also had the classics in Uprising, Plug in Baby, Supermassive Black Hole and Time is Running Out. I was also pleased to hear my favourite Muse track, Hysteria get an airing, and Starlight, too.

Towards the end, we had a mash up of Stockholm Syndrome, New Born, Assassin, Reapers and The Handler, all combined with that giant colossus on stage. Accompanying this, the release of hundreds of giant silver and black balloons, and yes, they were as massive as the music and effects.

I was lucky enough to have chosen a spot in the centre of the arena to stand. Fortunate, I say, as this had me within 20 yards of Bellamy and Co when they performed at the end of a catwalk, which they did on numerous occasions, including Dig Down.

To top off a brilliant night we had the mega Knights of Cydonia and everyone went home happy, including myself as I departed, having collared a huge black balloon as a memento, although it was a bugger to get in the car.

So, a late inclusion for Muse into my live arena, but hopefully, not the last from this wonderful band.

Cheers.

Antony N Britt.

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This was my fourth time seeing Frank Turner and first in an arena venue. And as with previous experiences, one thing you can guarantee from Frank is entertainment. So much energy, the guy and the band keep going at a breath-taking pace, much like Frank’s work schedule.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Birmingham Arena – 22 January 2019 © Antony N Britt 2019

We are informed this is show 2299. Now, even if you divide that by his adult years, it still averages out at well over one hundred shows a year. Then you consider the seven studio albums since 2007 and you appreciate the tag of The Busiest Guy in Rock. However, there is a downside. With a huge catalogue of songs, it does mean many of my favourites are left out of a two-hour set. Dammit, I’ve still never heard Father’s Day live!

Still, with each new studio album comes a host of material and 2018s Be More Kind is no exception in quality: 1933, Blackout and Little Changes are but to mention three of these. Mix with the back catalogue and you have a show that delights the fan and hopefully pleases recent converts.

Always great to hear Photosynthesis, Recovery, The Road, Don’t Try This at Home and I Still Believe. Also, my atheist anthem, Glory Hallelujah. Heck, my evening was complete. Well, complete bar Father’s Day, Frank. It was also pleasing to hear Love, Ire and Song, not played for a few years, apparently.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls – Birmingham Arena – 22 January 2019 © Antony N Britt 2019

We had music, crowd surfing, plus a little dance with audience members for the final number, Four Simple Words. I was exhausted merely watching. Good humour and banter along with crowd participation. And an apology for missing Birmingham out last time around. In fact, this was my first reunion with the man in five years as previous local shows have coincided with productions of my own. I hope the next isn’t too far away, probably at this rate, with a new album. And let’s not forget the Sleeping Souls: Ben Lloyd, Tarrant Anderson, Matt Nasir and Nigel Powell, always a magnificent contribution to the show.

The only thing I would note as a minor negative is nothing to do with Frank Turner, it’s just the crowd were not as lively as my previous encounters. This could be to do with a larger arena venue and maybe the energy is less likely to be infectious due to the greater number of people to share it with. I didn’t care. It was a great show by a great showman.


Frank Turner - Be More Kind Signed

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

You know a band has stood the test of time when they have 20th anniversary tours. This happened with The Manic Street Preachers in 2014 and 2016 with The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, respectively. However, the Manics are not ones to rely on past glory and April saw the release of their 13th studio album, Resistance is Futile.Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018

There may not be singles chart successes these days, but albums continue to do nicely with Resistance is Futile reaching number 2. However, this still seemed to be a sore point for James Dean Bradfield who spoke tongue-in-cheek to the crowd: “Five number two albums now. Which of you are buying The Greatest Showman?”

Not needing to prove themselves in charts, though, with a career showing no signs of waning, the band continue wowing large audiences while fickle chart followers move onto the latest short-term fad.

And wow a large audience the Manics did.

Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018 (C) Antony N Britt 2018

Full of energy, and launching straight into new number, International Blue (a song ready-made for the live circuit), the scene was set: You Stole the Sun from My Heart, Your Love Alone, If You Tolerate This … the hits no longer fit on a double CD. However, as previously mentioned, the Manic Street Preachers are not ones to rest on their laurels with the tried and tested. First outings for Distant Colours, Dylan & Caitlin, People Give In and the brilliant Hold Me Like a Heaven were welcomed with arms waving. And not only debut songs. Rare outings for 4 Ever Delayed, Let Roebson Sing and There by the Grace of God were complimented by a first time live of the 1996 B-side, Horses Under Starlight. Then we had the solo acoustic interlude from James with Faster and From Despair to Where.

Also, no Manic Street Preachers gig would be complete without mention of Richie Edwards. If by some chance you’re reading and don’t know the story, google it. Even the term, gone but not forgotten, does not apply. There is a vacant space on stage with one song always dedicated to the genius that is, Mr Richard James Edwards. This time, Motorcycle Emptiness, and even on the huge screen we see the man cavorting on a backing video. Very much part of things to this day.

The Manics don’t do encores, and nobody cares. Once you hear the opening of A Design for Life we know “This is the end.” A fantastic show from one of the best bands of the last three decades.

I like to think I have good taste in music and lucky my favourite bands seem to keep going. Perhaps I do have an ear for a good-un – ones the public don’t want to give up on. I guess it makes a point. For those hoping the Manic Street Preachers would go away, resistance is futile. Long may they continue.

Manic Street Preachers – Birmingham Arena 27 April 2018

Cheers.

Antony N Britt

The Tide is High. Forty years ago I discovered Blondie and since then they have been my number one when it comes to feelgood pop. Therefore, even with Debbie Harry now 72 (Really …? Wow!), I knew I was in for a great night out. And yes, much of the audience were, ahem … older than most, but that didn’t mean they had to behave and were on their feet most of the show.

Kicking off with One Way or Another, I was suddenly a teenager again and the goosebumps continued throughout. Some things seem timeless.

On the night there was a blend of old and new. Five songs from the current album, Pollination, included Long Time, Too Much and Fun. But then we had the classics. Hanging on the Telephone, Call Me, Atomic and Heart of Glass, the list goes on. Highlight for me was the inclusion of Fade Away and Radiate, one of my favourite album tracks. Okay, the set was only 90 minutes long, but so much energy was packed into it. Another feelgood moment was the occasions Harry waved at the audience and on several occasions, seemingly straight at me.

Okay … I can dream.

Making a stand about saving the planet, in particular, the dwindling bee population, Harry appeared wearing a bee head-dress and cape which said, Stop fucking the planet. It was a message repeated throughout the night and one which hit home.

One thing I always have to shout, Blondie are a group and not just Debbie Harry. Integral to things are original members, Chris Stein and Clem Burke, supported by Leigh Foxx, Tommy Kessler and Matt Katz-Bohen. Without these, the music wouldn’t be the same.

I’m fortunate that many of my favourite bands just seem to go on and on. I know nothing lasts forever, so I enjoy these shows while I can. This was so good, though, I can only hope for more to come.

Cheers.

 

Antony N Britt

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