One-man band Ed Sheeran hit up the LG Arena in Birmingham three nights in a row from the 18th-20th of October. I was lucky enough to see him on his final Monday night appearance with folk and roll acoustics; turning the crowd into his very own “gospel choir” plus rapping skills even the likes of Jay Z would be impressed by.
The night kicked off with the first of two opening acts Jamie Lawson, relatively unknown Irish singer-song writer. His striped down acoustics and love related lyrics match those of Ed Sheerans even managing to get the crowd to sing along to the chorus of one of his songs ‘Dig A Little Deeper’. As the night went on the highly anticipated Saint Raymond aka Callum Burrows singer-songwriter and his band took center stage. His glittering indie pop rock sound mixed with catchy lyrics won the crowd over, having them sing along in minutes. This might have something to do with the fact Saint Raymond earlier that day came out to greet queuing fans and acoustically sing a few songs. The spanglely guitar sounds and ringing tingling drums in catchy chorus of the song ‘I Want You’ had the crowd thoroughly warmed up, just like a support act should do.
Then Ed Sheeran promptly appears on stage casual as ever opting to walk from side stage and immediately start playing ‘I’m A Mess’. Without any build up or overly compacted entrance Ed Sheeran continues to be his humble self later he explains this is his third and finial night playing the LG Arena and how privileged he felt. Particular highlights of the show were when Ed did an impressive mash up of his hit single ‘Don’t’, Chris Browns ‘Loyal’ and RnB classic ‘No Diggity’, managing to combine his love of RnB music with his own acoustic set. Ed also managed to get the crowd to put an arm in the air and bounce a hand up and down during the chorus of Bloodstream where he explained it’s “like the rappers do” and will “look really cool” which too his credit it did.
A sea of phone lights swarmed the arena during ‘A Team’ (undoubtedly his most famous song). Thus making all 14,000 of us look like little twinkling dots. Ed’s eyes misted over and smile graced his face letting everyone know how much of a special moment it was for him before stating that this was his last song before clarify ‘technically its not my last song, I have two more but pretend it is’ then walked off stage to await an encore.
A stamping of feet and screaming fangirls lead to Ed’s reappearance. Strolling on to center stage with ‘You Need Me I Don’t Need You’ showing off his rapping prowess and the crowd impressively matching him word for word. The night ended with Ed Sheeran’s first number 1 ‘Sing’ where he instructed the crowd “do not stop singing” and to “scream it out”, which they did. The infectious chorus had people singing long after the show ended proving that Ed Sheeran even though seemingly plain on exterior can really put on a spectacular show with just his raw talent.
Young Kato the six member strong band from Cheltenham are back again with new song ‘Sunshine’. Aptly the lads unveiled the song in the July heat with the Sunshine EP up for pre-order with an expected release of the 14th September. The song first offers you the usual Young Kato style synth but with an unexpected brassy saxophone sound that throws you off for just a second. However this is quickly forgotten as singer Tommy Wright’s district and high range vocal takes over lulling you into the song, even throwing in a few happy-go-lucky whistles. The building tempo leading into the fun and energetic chorus is a key feature often found in Young Kato songs, making them feel-good tracks perfect for the summer sun and wind in hair sort of thing. When the chorus hits you cant help but crack a smile, which is followed by an even more enthusiastic endorphin enhancing instrumental, leaving you with an idiotic grin on your face. 8/10
When at a festival the last thing you want to be dealing with is hair resembling the likes of a birds nets. Trapped on a field without your usual hair products and utensils can leave your hair looking a bit worse for wear. So these are my top 5 festival hair accessory picks for those of you, like me, are completely hopeless with hair styles and just want a quick and easy fix.
1. Flower clips
Now these are great for those of you wanting a more classic festival boho style without having to otp for the clique flower crown. This is a best of both worlds where you get the flowers-in-your-hair look without looking like a bumble bees wet dream. These are very versatile and can be styled in number of ways depending on the number of clips you have and the size of the flowers. I have gone for two middle sized flowers clumped together to create a bigger statement. Another option would be to collect lots of smaller flower clips and cluster them together or a simple large flower. These work well with hair up or down or even hair half up half down. Since its summer festival season I chose warmer coloured flowers to bring the look together.
If you’re not one for flowers perhaps a bandana is a way to go. Bandanas, a blast from the past, having been making a come back into fashion, along with 90’s style crop tops and chokers (which would all work well together!). Wearing a bandana can definitely give you an edge and thankfully they are pretty cheap and easy to get a hold of, the one I am wearing I got for one euro in a tourist shop while on holiday in Turkey. They too are pretty versatile I mostly wear bandanas in a headband style by folding one edge diagonally inwards to make a triangle then folding the material in on its self then tie the ends together or I twist the bandana and tie the ends. Prefect choice if you are aiming for more of a rock chick look.
Easy enough right? Just pop a hat on. Well not exactly. I personally thinking finding the right hat is a difficult thing to do. It depends on a lot of factors such as: face shape, hat size, colour, material and type. (Some people just don’t suite hats.) I’ve gone for a large floppy black hat from Topshop, this is rather a pricey one at £28. The other hats I’ve tired similar to this just didn’t have the same dramatic bend in the brim I was looking for. Also the fit in this hat is very secure which is what I want when walking around a festival site.
4. Gold Leaf Headband
This is an interesting piece rather than flowers going for leaves this time but hardly lacking in style as these have a gold colouring. Again really easy and simple to style if you rather more of a glam look.
5. Flower crown
Finally the classic flower crown. No festival season would be complete without it. I have gone for a more subtle style with pale yellow flowers spread widely apart for a natural look. I find flower crowns have a tendency to look tacky and artificial but this one is very simple which is what I like. I actually brought this at a festival about 3 years ago for around £5, its lasted a long time surprisingly. I think its even subtle enough to wear as a day look not just a festival one.
Have a great festival season guys! I’m lucky enough to be going to Reading festival this year which is now sold out! But if you didn’t manage to get tickets don’t worry as Leeds fest still has some tickets available.
Its something we all need to gain in order to move forward in life. Whether it be the fundamental biological experience needed to physically grow or the experience needed to grow in terms of your career. Something I desire greatly is a flourishing career with lots opportunities waiting to be picked (are you picturing a garden now because I am).
Anyway the reason I am writing this is because for the past month or so I have been on the lookout to gain work experience and this is easier said than done. Raising unemployment has also meant rising competition for not just jobs but internships and even voluntary work. In turn you now need experience to get experience but you can’t get experience because you have no experience. Are you following me? No? Okay then put it like this, to build up your CV you would need some sort of work experience if you have any hope of getting a job but now you need to rethink. Start from the bottom. Work experience positions require you to have prior experience, even getting a voluntary role requires you to have had other experience.
You have to take time on your applications and never turn down an opportunity given to you. You have to be prepared to work hard and fight for your dream. Dreams don’t die, people just give up. I intend on not being one of those people that give up and take the easy way out. I am finding it a challenging trying to get work experience but I will not give up. Perseverance is key and I’ve used passed knock backs as motivation to try harder. Even in this seemingly impossible cycle I just need to remember nothing is really impossible. You just have to keep on doing what your doing in the hopes someone sees something in you that the others didn’t.
But I suppose the most frustrating thing is the fact I am not out there learning new things about the industry and doing what I love; which is exactly that. Anyway just a quick up date on what headspace I’m currently in right now and a small rant/pep talk.
Singer-song writer Lewis Watson finally released his long awaited debut album ‘The Morning’ this July. Following in the footsteps of Jake Bugg and Ed Sheeran this acoustic guitar-playing lad displays some real raw talent. Watson has been collecting himself fans from all over the world, thanks to the five EPs he has produced in the space of only just two years. The first track on the album ‘Stones Around The Sun’ takes a different approach to the usual strumming of chords with the use of a spacey synth opening which makes you question where exactly this album is going to take you. ‘Holding On’ is another delightful surprise on the album with a slight backing vocal and an overall more direct melody as sometimes acoustic guitar driven songs can seem like watered down versions of a good songs. The gravely rasp of Lewis’ voice brings some depth to the album along with fan favourites ‘into the wild’ and ‘sink or swim’ being included. However, lyrically, there are only so many ways to express melancholy; listening to a full album of wounded self-pitying can draining to say the least. 7/10
Calling all music lovers! Fancy a festival without the mud, the tents and the down right dubious portaloos? Well the Dot-To-Dot festival is just the thing for all you city slickers who don’t fancy slumming it in the mud but want just as much live music and fun as anyone else headed off this festival season. Dot-to-Dot festival has been voted the UK’s best metropolitan festival and hits Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. And here on my blog we want to bring you up to date on all the top festivals around that country-because we’re nice like that. The Dot-To-Dot festival is set in the heart of these cities with acts dotted (see what they did there) around in various venues all within a reasonable walking distance of each other. So hey no willies required and no hideous bin bag rain mac to cramp your style, just a quick hop skip and a jump to any venue of your choice.
Cheap and Cheerful
Unlike most festivals this one doesn’t cost you the earth *phew*. At just £20! Yeah you heard right-£20! You get to enjoy amazing acts without burning a hole in your pocket. Meaning you can use the money you have spare to travel up to the festival and get a round in for you at your mates when you get there.
Finger on the pulse
Dot-to-Dot festival is known for picking the best future acts in indie, electro and alternative music. With the likes of: The 1975, Ed Sheeran and Ellie Goulding all performing at the unique event. If you wanna stay ahead of the game and impress your friends with your sparkling music knowledge of cool up and coming bands. Or if you just want to discover and try something new and different this is definitely a festival worth checking out. This year the headliner was the aptly named band Peace, their psychedelic rock sounds got the crowds going and is definitely a band you’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future. So to be first in line to see brand new and exciting acts Dot-To-Dot is the festival to head to.
The atmosphere throughout the music filled day is a generally relaxed, unless you suffer from a case of the clashes (no that’s not some band). There is always the risk of having one or maybe more of you favourite acts playing at the same time so its up to you to toss a coin, put it to a vote or what I tend to do, run between both sets like a headless chicken in a vain attempt to watch both. I would not recommend this behaviour though as most of the venues at the Dot-To-Dot festival have a limited capacity and fill up fast. You don’t want to be hanging around outside waiting for someone to leave so you can get in. Best to get to acts early and get a good spot.
So in conclusion what have we learnt here? Well, for a start, we now know that festivals don’t have to mean a soggy field in the middle of nowhere. Festivals can happen in a city slickers paradise, located inside all your favourite bars and clubs far out of reach from the unpredictable British weather. We have also learnt that you don’t have to fork out major cash to have fun-£20 will do nicely. And lastly have fun and lets go! Leave those willies at home my friends.
I have been staring at this blank page for days now, trying to put into words what has happened to me in the past 9 months. I feel I like have experienced everything and nothing at the same time. I feel wiser yet still so naive. So you see writing a logical and chronicle recount and analysis of this first year at university is proving to be difficult.
At the start of the year I was excited, nervous and driven. And at the end of the year I am driven. I have learnt new skills during the course of the year in journalism but not nearly enough as I expected, maybe because I’m only in the first year and they didn’t want to overwhelm us. I don’t feel challenged enough and I don’t feel guided enough. I feel like I’ve learnt basic practical skills I could have taught myself if I had the mind to and the equipment to. What I feel is mentally unfulfilled, I thought we would be learning writing skills and journalistic techniques; things that improved my work. But instead we were haphazardly thrown out onto the streets of Coventry and told to ‘find a story’ without any indication what kind or what even is considered news until the very last minute of putting the final product that what you have collected to be told ‘it is not news’ or ‘not what they are looking for exactly’. This was incredibly frustrating but defiantly drove me to better myself and use my own mind to find a story of interest and create something from it whether that be: audio, visual or written.
One tour of the TV studios doesn’t mean you are suddenly capable of using them. Nor does a class full of people crammed into a radio studio being drowned at by an expert make you an expert. I still have a lot to learn in the practical aspect but that comes with time that I simply haven’t had yet at first year.
What I enjoyed was the theoretical side of the course the essays we were given-mainly the research I did prior to the essays, really expanded my knowledge on specific aspects I only wish we were taught more in class and brought the theoretical into practice like we did with the law module. I did not receive much feedback throughout the year which if I had been given mid level grades would have been frustrating as I wouldn’t know how to improve but luckily I have been awarded firsts in most essays which has been feedback enough.
What the course has done for me outside of the classroom has boosted my self confidence to consider myself as an actual journalist. I secured my first journalistic job with studentcom writing and actually getting published and payed! (With concert tickets and festival tickets but thats fine by me). I secured my second job with venue Kasbah interviewing artists and reviewing events. Now I am currently working on securing an internship and expecting an interview with one of the companies very soon!
Overall the year as been a year of firsts and a realisation of just how capable I am.