Klopp’s class too much for brittle Brewers


A resurgent Liverpool FC were 5-0 victors over Burton Albion in the EFL Cup second round clash at a sold-out Pirelli Stadium.

On a recall to the first team, frontman Divock Origi backheeled a tap-in to open the scoring in the 15th minute, before Brazilian Roberto Firmino made it two on 22, heading from Nathaniel Clyne’s whipped in ball from the right.

After the break, Brewers defender Tom Naylor knocked in an own goal on 61′, before a late double from sub Daniel Sturridge rounded out a convincingly dominant win by the Premier League giants.

It wasn’t the way Burton wanted the start of their special week to begin, as they hosted the Merseyside giants following their first round win versus Bury and their first competitive local derby against Championship rivals Derby County on Friday to come.

Perhaps with that game in mind, manager Nigel Clough made a host of changes to his side, which has had a good start to the season, with sub keeper Stephen Bywater making his debut and loan midfielder Hamza Choudhury returning to the side.

His counterpart, the enigmatic Jurgen Klopp stuck with the core of his team that both blew away Arsenal 4-3 in the season opener, before being suffocated at Turf Moor by Burnley, losing 2-0 at the weekend.

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Albion had a good start to the game, even having an early shout for a penalty as Dejan Lovren had contact with forward Stuart Beavon in the Reds penalty box, but to no avail.

Early passages of play saw Lucas Akins used as an option down the right-hand side, his pace and delivery doing well early on, with the returning Choudhury also impressing with some tidy passing in the middle of the park.

However, it was Liverpool that had the first shot of the game, Saido Mane and Origi combining for the a shot by the latter straight at the Brewers’ Bywater. It was a sign of things to come.

Firmino was the next to test the reserve keeoer, some lovely work by Adam Lallana down the right wing resulting in a header by the forward, being turned around the post.

Just four minutes later, the Reds were ahead.Recently retired England man James Milner, playing in his new left-back position combined well with Firmino, the former finding Mane at the back post. The £34million man jinked past defender Damian McCrory before centring for the Belgian Origi to backheel a tidy finish home from 2 yards out.

It was a kicker for Burton but was always on the cards, as the home side were waning following their impressive start, yet worse was to come.

Just minutes later, Bywater hit a poor clearance from his goalmouth, which found Mane inside the opposing half. The forward ran at the defense, slipping in the rampaging Clyne down the right, whose whipped ball found Firmino for an easy 2-0, heading beyond a flapping, embarrassed Bywater.

At this stage, the tie was effectively dead, as Liverpool had squeezed the life out of their Championship opponents, forcing errors and regular turnovers in possession with their relentless pressing game that boss Klopp employs so well.

Nigel Clough would’ve wanted to see more from his ineffective wing-backs Akins and Lloyd Dyer, both wingers by trade who were enforced into defensive duties, which meant striking duo Beavon and Butcher had a fruitless evening up top against international defenders in Lovren and Matip.

 

Sadio Mane was the standout player on the pitch, his every touch and movement causing the Burton defence no manner of trouble, and he was unfortunate to not be awarded a penalty late in the first half as Kyle McFadzean clipped his achilles just inside the box.

The move to replace Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine at half-time could’ve been seen as one of defeat by Clough, as the young Matty Palmer came on during the break.

However, Burton looked more up for the game, and forced a succession of corners early on to exuberant chants of ‘Brewers! Brewers!’ from behind the attacking goal. They didn’t amount to much though, as they still found it difficult to string together any meaningful periods of possession.

Alas it was well and truly game over on the hour mark, as Milner’s inswinging corner take a flick-on from the German Emre Can, before flicking in off the unfortunate Tom Naylor, who’d been more accustomed to scoring at the other end so far this season.

At this point on, it had to be damage limitation for Burton as sloppy defending and poor possession had been key themes of their night’s work thus far. A succession of substitutes made the game flow as well as a pre-season friendly game with the feel of one, too.

The one negative for Klopp will have been what looked liked a serious injury for midfield Can, whose attempted tackle saw him look in real pain. He did leave the pitch unaided by a stretcher, but Klopp will no doubt be hoping to retain a key player of his.

By this stage the home side looked leggy and were waiting for the final whistle, however, the introduction of England’s Daniel Sturridge showed how seriously the Merseyside team were taking the tie.

It was he that found the net next, sliding in at the far post or a tap-in to put the finishing touches to interplay from Milner and Mane.

A matter of minutes were sandwiched between his second goal, but it was that man Mane who was the real player of the game. He picked up the ball on the right-hand side, cutting and driving inside the Brewers defence, before centring for the England man to sweep into the right-hand side of the goal.

Perhaps five was slightly unfair on Burton, but they offered little threat against one of England’s most successful teams of all time. They recorded no shots on target and were the victims of their own downfall with lapses in concentration leading to many of the goals conceded.

Still, as Clough made everyone aware, the focus will be immediately switching to Friday night and a big game back at the Pirelli for the visit of Derby County, and they’ll be hoping to play a lot better against the Rams.

As for Liverpool, they picked themselves off the floor from a humbling at Burnley to trounce a side in a dangerous looking tie at the start of the night. They go to Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday looking to sign off for the international break in style.

BURTON ALBION: Bywater, Naylor, McFadzean, McCrory, Irvine (Palmer 46), Choudhury, Williamson, Dyer (Fox 64), Akins (Harness 64), Butcher, Beavon

Subs not used: McLaughlin, Turner, O’Grady, Delaney.

LIVERPOOL: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner, Henderson, Can (Stewart 71), Lallana (Wijnaldum 63) , Firmino (Sturridge 63), Origi, Mane

Subs not used: Manninger, Klavan, Moreno, Ings.

Goals: Origi (15), Firmino (22), Naylor OG (60), Sturridge (78, 83)

Referee: Simon Hooper

ATTENDANCE: 6,450

Ricky Gervais steals the show as Brent is back with a bang


Esteemed British TV sitcoms have traditionally had a chequered past with big screen movie adaptations of their character’s stories. This year alone has seen the likes of ‘Dad’s Army’ (albeit with a fresh cast) and ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, struggle to hit the high notes of previous adventures. So it was with trepidation that I decided to see whether Ricky Gervais’ David Brent creation was back with a bang or a trademark whimper.

Fifteen years after ‘The Office’, we find Brent back in the workplace, but working as a lowly rep selling products, with his band Forgone Conclusion taking up most of his time, as they embark on a Berkishire-wide tour. It’s a strong concept and one that Gervais has been building up for a few years, dropping Brent into short Comic Relief skits to see if there’s an appetite for more of the uncomfortable, awkward humour that really kicked off his own comedic career at the turn of the millennium.

Gervais is in his element as Brent, the character made for him and he clearly takes delight at slicking back his hair, throwing on the suit and introducing the mannerisms of a socially awkward man. And it’s his film too, written, directed and starring the main man. As far as a supporting cast goes, the only truly familiar face is rapper/comedian Doc Brown, as Brent’s best friend outside of the workplace. He could’ve ultimately been used more, and in his big scene on-stage, he’s excellent.

The formula is an ultimately entertaining one; you quickly familiarise yourself with the ticks and mannerisms that make this character what he is.  While the surroundings of Wernham Hogg and stars in the making like Martin Freeman and Steven Merchant are totally absent from this story, they’re never too far from the back of your mind. Touring with Foregone Conclusion is a great scenario to throw this unpredictable character into, to differentiate the big-screen adaptation from its previous work, but there are elements that don’t quite work.

When it was first released, ‘The Office’, was one of few shows to take on the ‘mockumentary’ mantle and was genre-changing in that aspect. In 2016, however, we’re far more used to the style and in the film it often takes a backseat to the story, which is a positive move in my eyes. Often I found myself enjoying things just simply playing out, before a talking head with a band member offering commentary on a situation took me back out of it.

The music itself could be stronger too, with songs mostly focusing on offending a social group or nationality and with titles like ‘Native American’, ‘Please Don’t Make Fun of the Disableds’ and ‘Lady Gypsy’, you can see where I’m coming from. There is some fun to be had with the touring scenario and gigs themselves, the disdain of his bandmates never stopping Brent from trying to ‘fit in’ and score that elusive record deal. There are a couple of nice musical cameos though, one obvious and one less so, that’ll bring a smile to your face. That all being said, a few hours after viewing the film, I am going back to the songs, which musically are on point, with ex-Razorlight drummer Andy Burrows a part of a band of real-life musicians, and enjoying them! So who quite knows whether they’ll stand up in the long run.

But this is only really one man’s film: Gervais’. He’s centre stage (literally) for every scene and is really put under the microscope in the more tender scenes with the character, whose not handled the aftermath of the previous documentary amazingly well. Without spoiling anything, the humanisation the film attempts to do with Brent works effectively, he is a man who just wants people to like him, but thinks nobody likes him.

All in all, the film is a decent effort at reviving the former glories of Brent. It’s not on the same level of ‘The Office’ that’s for sure, it struggles to recapture the authenticity and spirit of the original series.But Gervais’ comedic chops are on show here for all to see, and his performance reminds you just what a great character he and Merchant created all those years ago, even if the story can’t quite match the performance.

Post-University life; what now?


Since I started this blog about 5 years ago now (an unreal amount of time!), I’ve written about my personal life only once before; when the monumental task of moving to Leicester and starting my degree at De Montfort University was a hot topic (link to that here: https://conordcfc.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/university-a-challenge-an-adventure/).

It’s interesting to look back and see my main fears were of moving away and leaving behind my hometown friends. This was true, I remember the feeling of sick in my stomach as I entered my hall of residence for the first time, wondering who and what I’d be living with for 9 months. Fortunately, I met some of the best friends and best people not just in that first academic year, but throughout my three years.

I’ve met (student) nurses and (student) footballers, (student) actors and (student) journalists, travelled to California and London. There were lots of firsts, my first significant, adult-ish relationships, my first break-ups, my first time living away from home, my first published newspaper articles. There have been lots and highs and lots of lows, and to this date, Leicester and DMU remains a firm part of my life.

Now it’s the post-uni landscape that I and my cohort, the first of the ‘£27k’ers’, are now in. And, it’s tough. It’s tough to pick up the pieces of 16 years of education and move onto the adult world, full of bills and life choices. It’s tough to convert that First in Journalism into a paid, conveniently located job. And, yes, it’s tough to stay positive in the face of all that adversity, and then some.

For the first time in my life, I don’t have a timetable, a schedule for each day, an end goal. Sure I work a part-time job which pays well and gets me to work behind a desk for 9am each day, but it’s a means to an end more than anything, a way to pay off student debt and to fund my driving lessons.

A longing for the days of being able to wake up late, drag myself out of bed for a couple of hours of lectures and returning home to a flat full of buzzing people cannot be helped. The weekday nights in pub and clubs that come and go without any reason to function properly the next day. It’s all done! The lonliness that can come with moving back home with mum and dad after the thriving independence and the personal growth that university provides, allowing you to truly become you, can be quickly undone, for sure.

Although it may seem it, this isn’t a sad piece, but one that I want to use to motivate myself and anybody else who may feel down and at a slight loss as to what to do now they’ve graduated and waved goodbye to education for the last time. Going back to that post-uni landscape, that at times seems so barren and deserted, yet at others is full of growth and opportunity.

Never stop applying for those dream jobs that you think you’re not experienced or good enough for. Among my friends and coursemates, there have been tonnes of successes, both in the job market and personal stories that make me happy, some that make me envious, but many of which have inspired me to keep trying and to not give up on doing what I truly want to do.

There are going to be plenty of speedbumps and trying moments that will test us. Even if you are in what was supposed to be the ‘dream job’, that is becoming more and more a living nightmare, or the working life isn’t for you – don’t give up. Work around troubles and think of ways to improve yourself in the long run, because by moping around at home, not a whole lot is going to change.

University may have been the best part of my life to-date, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the highlight of my life forever. Situations change, aspirations change, people change, who knows where you’ll be in a week’s time, nevermind a year!

As for me; I’m 22 years old in a couple of weeks, and feel as though I’ve experienced a lot of lif, but nothing at the same time. It’s an age that is both young and old, by 15 nowadays your career is supposed to be set in stone. I miss a lot of moments and friends from my university experience, but who’s to say new memories won’t be created and friendships rekindled. I know I’ve got so much to do, so many people to meet and moments to experience and savour, now I’ve just got to go and do them.

Paul Clement given Derby County managerial berth


Paul Clement

Following the sacking of Steve McClaren last month, Derby County have announced their new head coach is to be former Chelsea, Paris-Saint Germain and Real Madrid assistant manager, Paul Clement.

Clement, 43, joins on a three-year deal for his first managerial role and the appointment follows the Londoner leaving Real last week after the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti.

Clement, speaking to Rams Player in Madrid, said: “I’ve been thinking about it [becoming a head coach] for quite some time now, felt it was my own time to go it alone now. I’m looking forward to the challenge of the English Championship and looking forward to pushing on to the Premier League.

“The club has a fantastic stadium that week in, week out the fans go to in droves to support them. The fanbase in Derby is fantastic, they really get behind the club and I really can’t wait to get started now.”

The news had been circulating around Twitter ever since the rumours surrounding McClaren had intensified following a meeting between the ex-England manager and chief executive Sam Rush. Incoming chairman Mel Morris was adamant that persistent speculation linking McClaren to the vacant Newcastle United job since January had had a detrimental effect on a team that sat top of the league in February, yet ended up languishing in eighth place come May, following just two wins in their last thirteen games.

Image result for steve mcclaren derby

Renewed speculation had again linked McClaren to the United job at the end-of-the-season, but with Clement a wanted man, with Sunderland and West Ham United also reported to be interested, the Rams moved fast to get their man, and potentially lost out on compensation for their outgoing boss.

The level of talent Clement has worked with in the past is impressive to say the least, with the very best of world football on it. From, Didier Drogba and John Terry, to David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, and most recently, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos, not bad then!

It remains to be seen whether McClaren’s coaching team of Eric Steele and Paul Simpson will follow him out the door, but one thing for sure is that Rams fans have an exciting, dynamic coach in charge of them for the 2015/16 season, could he be the man to lead them, finally, to the promised land of the Premier League, after two years of banging on it? Who knows, but the ride should be a whole lot of fun…

Walcott gamble provides second straight FA Cup for Gunners in Final triumph


Arsene Wenger was left with the plaudits of Arsenal fans as a pre-match gamble on starting his red-hot striker Theo Walcott paid off in spades, as the Gunners cruised to a second straight FA Cup with a 4-0 win over a flat Aston Villa.

All the talk before the game centred on whether or not Wenger would select the England man, following his fine thirty-minute hat-trick at the Emirates against West Brom in the Premier League closer. And with an hour before kick-off it was the number 14 of Walcott that was on the teamsheet ahead of Frenchman Olivier Giroud, who’d been the main man for the Reds this season.

Arsenal, started strongly, and this momentum set them up as the dominant force from the first minute to last, the pre-match hype of a potential shock from Tim Sherwood’s plucky Villa failed, as they couldn’t match the performance that knocked out Liverpool in the semi-final at Wembley a month ago.

It didn’t take long for veteran Irish keeper Shay Given to be thrust into action. Following a succession of early corners and Christian Benteke working as a makeshift centre-back more than a centre-forward, the energetic maverick Alexis Sanchez lobbed a ball into the box that Laurent Koscielny thumped down onto the goaline, only for Given to lumber across and scramble away in the 14th minute. It was only an inkling of what was to be a disappointing afternoon for the thousands of fans who’d travelled down from the Second City.

As the game progressed Aaron Ramsey and Sanchez were starting to pick their way through the Villa barricades, as Sherwood’s team could hardly break out of their own half. Kieran Richardson’s last-ditch clearance thwarted Walcott’s attempts to net a pull-back, and slowly but surely it was becoming evident there would be only one winner.

The breakthrough finally come just before half-time in the 40th minute, with Walcott releasing Nacho Monreal down the left-hand side, before the Spaniard’s cross was knocked down by Sanchez for the on-rushing Walcott to smash home from the penalty spot. It was just what the Gunners deserved and a sign of their authority over a side which hadn’t quite turned up.

Come half-time, Sherwood would have riled up his team and had some form of tactical genius to resort to…right? Wrong. If anything the second-half was the 45 which saw the resistance of the claret and blues finally break in such a manner that it’ll put more than a few doubts into fans’ minds about their relatively raw leader.

Aston Villa look on after conceding

Just five minutes into the second half, and Sanchez became the second Chilean to score in the FA Cup final, with a sumptuous strike, his twenty-five yard strike brimming with ferocious pace, the pace and power that convinced Wenger to shell out multi-millions for the former Barcelona forward last summer.

At this point the Gunners were strutting around the lush Wembley turf, taking in their 25,000 fans’ adulation, with 40 minutes remaining, but they weren’t done with two goals, oh no.

Captain Per Mertesacker didn’t improve the mood of Villa owner Randy Lerner and Prince William, himself a prominent fan, when he netted from a simple and straightforward corner, crashing home a powerful shoulder. By this point Villa hadn’t quite shut-down though.

The introduction of Gabby Agbonlahor had given them a boost, but the homegrown player couldn’t bring the goals his side desperately needed, and with star striker Christian Benteke deprived of any real quality service, the Belgian looked lost and alone up-top.Another desperate disappointment was the performance of young winger Jack Grealish. Highlighted as one for the future, both with club and country (once he decides whether to plump with Ireland or England), the pacy, skillful runs we saw against Liverpool were nowhere to be seen in the Final. Arguably only England’s Fabian Delph or the 39-year-old Given could be afforded any sort of praise for their performances, as Villa floundered on their big day.

Tim Sherwood

There were a couple of late shouts for the Midlanders’, Agbonlahor tumbling under a robust challenge from Francois Coquelin, which after a replay looked a convincing enough foul, a sentiment referee Jon Moss did not agree with, giving neither free-kick nor penalty to Villa. The aforementioned Grealish also looked to be tugged back by youngster Hector Bellerin in the box, but by then the game was gone, with Olivier Giroud adding a late fourth, as the game gradually petered out.

But the game which offered so plenty, was interesting in other senses than a straight head-to-head: where does this leave Tim Sherwood’s Villa revolution, and will he be eventually found out as a Premier League manager, or rise to the challenge to prove the doubters wrong? Can Arsene Wenger finally push on an deliver a first Premier League title in over a decade next season? His players certainly seemed to think so following an absolute crushing in a domestic final, the next step should seemingly be a title challenge, the question is, will they offer Chelsea and Jose Mourinho a reputable threat?

Olivier Giroud

Leeds Festival Weekend Review 2014


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Leeds Fest 2014 began with an extra-early bang, with the introduction of bands and comedians on the Thursday night.

I myself plumped for the madcap comedic stylings of Adam Buxton, the bearded half of 90’s comedy duo Adam & Joe, as a result of the tirade of rain which unleashed itself on the site on Thursday evening. Whilst the comedy tent itself offered shelter from the elements, Buxton’s wacky style of humour failed to warm many of the on-lookers, although his unique blend of using his laptop to show us all strange goings-on from the internet, to his own home videos was a great idea for a comedy show- I can imagine if it wasn’t the precursor to a weekend of music and camping, it would be pretty enjoyable.

As it was, once the rain had cleared, it was over to the Relentless Stage, situated in a tree-lined strip inbetween the thriving campsites of Red and Orange, following the closure of the stage during 2013’s torrential weather. DJ’s like Zane Lowe, DJ Fresh and Klaxons were due for the three days, but we had fun nonetheless as the riotous atmosphere was a great set-up for the upcoming weekend.

With a few bleary eyes and banging heads (althoughI like to blame that on camping just a tad too close to the campsite DJ!), Friday was kicked off for me with a slice of the ultra-cool Jungle. A mysterious act made up of an array of vocalists, guitarists, keyboardists and drummers, many of whom do some serious multi-tasking, the West London band were pretty excellent. Sure extensive falsetto vocals can wane on even the most hardened of fans after a while, but when the beats were as fresh and bouncy as they were in the NME/Radio tent, you don’t mind. After an excellent LP and summer festival shows, they have proven there worth, even getting a pre-Clean Bandit crowd to loosen up and lose themselves in the sultry grooves.

Band of the moment, Clean Bandit were next up, and showed surprisingly that there is more to them than mega-hit ‘Rather Be’. No, their live show was assured, confident and FUN! Their unique twist on the genre is intriguing, throwing in classical music influences alongside the bass beats we’re more accustomed too, aswell as the familiarity of guest vocalists peppering the majority of tracks. They weren’t mind-bending, but packed out the tent and offered heaps of fun and innocent pop music for those who wanted it.

The Kooks are another band that bring back memories of adolescence for those of a certain age, and their new wave of sound, with increased R&B influences did certainly not disappoint. Infact, whilst they didn’t match solid favourites ‘Naïve’ and ‘Seaside’ for the sing-a-long aspect, it’s arguable that new singles ‘Down’ and ‘About Town’ were the best performances of their set. The new album releases this week, and it’ll be very interesting to see whether it can revive what many thought to be another band lost to the ages. Based on this performance, the Kooks could stay with us for while.

To many Macklemore & Ryan Lewis seem wildly out of place on a Reading & Leeds bill, their chart-friendly beats and raps surely not acceptable at such a venue? Such things are simply not true though, as Macklemore proved with a friendly, yet humoured stage presence and half a set of gold. That is the one issue I had with this set, it was far too long for the one album rapper, who actually, rather embarrassingly, played the same song twice. But that aside, his song introductions may have been to mask the extended set length, but he made it work- just.

Man-children, blink-182 made it three times they had headlined both Reading and Leeds sites, the first for four years and ahead of a new album rumoured to be released to the world by the turn of 2014.

Kicking off with ‘Feeling This’, the US rockers breezed through their set, peppering song breaks with some genuinely crude, hilarious humour and entertaining the masses excellently with their extensive back catalogue.The crowd of course reacted magnificently to all-time hit ‘All The Small Things’, but then this was Friday night of Leeds 2014, it was heaving and pits were breaking out all over the inside barrier.

The trio of songs that made up the encore summed up the evening for the Americans; ‘Violence’ a breath-taking tune that allows every band member to step up to the plate, ‘Dammit’ a veritable classic that the first strokes of the guitar riff sent everyone into a fit of excitement, and ‘Family Reunion’, a 40 second tune that manages to pack in all of the band’s trademark crude humour in an expletive-ridden blast.

Leeds Festival 2014 - Bramham Park - 22/08/2014

One way to blast out any morning cobwebs are Derbyshire duo, Drenge. The much-hyped two are loud and fast, known for thrashing away at their instruments and barely stopping to acknowledge their audience. This mid-afternoon slot was not dissimilar to the expectations, they were impressive if straightforward, more new tunes alongside those from their self-titled LP would’ve been nice, but after a year of touring, I’d expect them to hit the studio and get more content to take their live show truly to the next level.

Firm R&L festival favourites, Enter Shikari appeared for their sixth straight festival (in more than one guise!), with circle hits in abundance as frontman Rou Reynolds took time to sprint across the Main Stage, kick out at amps and generally cause a bit of a racket- but a good racket nonetheless! Shikari have grown at this festival, as has their sound, but they know how to work their crowd and how to entertain the masses, even if they’ve never truly broken out into the mainstream, but you know what…I think they prefer things that way!

Vampire Weekend were a band I had been waiting to see ever since their inception as an act, a trio of album in and the NYC collective were incredible. They hit every right note, from Exra Koening having the nerve to play the set in a full grey tracksuit, to the imperious moods they created, from the heart-melding ‘Walcott’ the riotous ‘A-Punk’, to an exclusive track never played live before, ‘California English’, they were exceptional. The start of the set saw one of the day’s torrential downpours, but by its crescendo, the sun was beating down on a magnificent performance.

Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age were up first, having closed the previous night at Reading. The band put on a simply brilliant rock show, with thrills in the shape of some impressive laser-shows and some mind-melting guitar-driven beasts of songs. The energy from the band was subtle, growing and growing with each tune. ‘No One Knows’ as song number two was a daring choice, but paid off handsomely as newbies ‘My God Is The Sun’ and ‘Smooth Sailing’ more than benefitted from the buzz generated. Classics like ‘Feel Good Hit of The Summer’ and ‘Make It Wit Chu’ ensured that ardent fans were catered for too, although personally I felt that the fresher songs from 2013’s ‘…Like Clockwork’ were those more warmly received and those better performed generally.

The last coupling of ‘Go With The Flow’ and ‘A Song For The Dead’ were awesome. The latter allowed drummer Jon Theodore to take centre stage, with a sizzling drum solo, it was a song that the band performed with such intensity and vigour, it was hard to take your eyes away from it. And that was that from Queens, a band who managed to surpass my sky-high expectations.

Hoping to shake off the electrical problems which had plagued them the previous night at Reading, Hayley Williams and Paramore, started off by complimenting QOTSA and brought out an extensive light show as they closed the night. The first half of the show was full of the old fan favourites, with a big sing-a-long for ‘The Only Exception’. As a result, the second lacked the punch of the first, with many of the recent self-titled record, which featured a distinct change of sound, making it up. I felt Williams was as good a leader as a band could hope for, fully of charisma and energy, but the performance didn’t connect with myself as much as it did with the ravenous crowd, who screamed and applauded for Williams and co in their droves.

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Closing off the night the co-headliners rocked with a stint in the Silent Disco was a good choice. The tent, which had to be closed in 2013 due to high winds, was packed to the brim and offered great variety of current and past pop hits on one channel, with the other devoted to the rock the Reading & Leeds fanbase are more accustomed too. However, it was nice mixing it up every now and then, the atmosphere crackling into life every time a sing-song came on, with each DJ encouraging their sides to make some noise, always a great experience.

The last day of Leeds Fest 2014 saw the much-anticipated Royal Blood finally play, ahead of their just released debut LP. It was a fast, frenetic set which saw the bass and drum duo tear apart the Radio 1/NME tent, packing it out and then some at two in the afternoon, a pretty decent achievement at the end of a weekend chocced full of live music. I can certainly see them making their way up the R&L bill in the future.

Another band I’ve kept my eye on for a while are Brummie starlets, Peace. Possibly the most popular of the current crop of B-town talent, the indie rock outfit made their maiden Main Stage appearance and had a sizeable crowd, their fans amongst the most passionate of the modern day indie era. It was nice for new single ‘Money’ to get an outing, and their new material may swing towards a more poppy sound, but if the UK is to re-start its Britpop scene, look no further than these guys.

Next up was a guaranteed party with the madcap antics of The Hives. Sure they’d released no new material since last appearing at the festival in 2012, but they really didn’t need to, as they performed a masterful set dripping full of favourites like ‘Main Offender’ and ‘Walk Idiot Walk’, beginning with the customary ‘Come On!’, descending into a crowd sit-in and ending with the front section losing it to ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’. Sure, I heard some complaints about frontman Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s extended crowd interaction…but I loved it!

I caught only the backend of Foster the People’s Main Stage set, but from what I saw I regretted not seeing the previous half-an-hour. A more mellow version of ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was pretty memorable, but more than anything they were a band full of confidence and had some good crowd interaction, you got the feeling they were genuinely excited and ecstatic to be with thousands of us in a field in Yorkshire.

One band who’ve had an incredible 12 months are Imagine Dragons, going from a smallish spot on the NME tent last year, just before they made it big, to collaborating with Kendrick Lamar, selling bucketloads of their debut record and making it up to third on the bill on the Main Stage. Again, frontman Dan Reynolds was immensely likeable and thankful for being up there, complimenting R&L for believing in them when no one else would and taking a chance on them. Crowd favourites, ‘Demons’ and ‘Amsterdam’ peppered the set, before a cover of Blur’s ‘Song 2’ paved the way for the rendition of ‘Radioactive’ Leeds had been waiting for. Album number two should bring more exciting times ahead for the Las Vegas act.

Bombay Bicycle Club were as charming as ever as they headlined the NME/Radio 1 Tent, packing it to the rafters, as slices were taken from 2014 album ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’, most notably ‘Feel’, ‘It’s Alright Now’ and ‘Luna’. I’d seen the polished show around the time of the album’s release, but it was nice to see it having been developed and smoothed out for a festival crowd. Collaborators Rae Morris and Liz Lawrence added that little bit extra to one of the most satisfying hour the weekend had to offer.

From the NME tent, it was a mad dash to see the band most had been waiting for the entire weekend; Arctic Monkeys. The Main Stage field was packed as far as the eye could see, as the Yorkshire quartet cemented their status as one of the biggest rock bands in the world, even if their set wasn’t entirely perfect.

One look at the setlist would tell you the Arctics dusted off all the favourites, alongside extended coverage of latest record ‘AM’, but the performance was rather erratic, as frontman Alex Turner was occasionally slurry in his delivery and a bit out of it, plus the performances of songs like ‘Brianstorm’ and ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ lacked their usual rapid rhythm, for whatever reason. But come the end of the set, it was hard to come away having not enjoyed at least a portion of the set, whether you were an old or a new fan, there was something for everyone in this intriguing 90 minutes.

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And that was that for Leeds 2014, another grand Bank Holiday weekend with stacks of memorable moments and top performances by some of the most exciting acts on the planet, Leeds ’15 can’t come quickly enough!

Film Round-Up! The Kings of Summer, About Time, Prisoners


Hey! My blog has been neglected recently due to university starting up again and work commitments, however, I thought I’d come back with a little round-up of the films I’ve seen within the last month or so, they’re all pretty varied but here goes…

The Kings of Summer

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 ‘The Kings of Summer’, is a coming-of-age tale with a difference, managing to meld together comedy and drama in equal doses, with offbeat humour taking centre stage alongside some truly heartbreaking moments

We focus on three teens; Joe, a lad determined to be as far away as possible from his miserable dad, played monstrously well by ‘Parks & Rec’s’ star Nick Offerman. Then it’s over to Patrick, Gabriel Basso, a semi-miserable wrestler who wants out from his awful, awful Irish-American parents.

And Biaggio.

Biaggio, played by Moses Arias, is a strange, nutcase of a character. He looks about 30, but is incredibly is only 19, has a mysterious South American background and is a general unknown. He is the star of this film, and he sort of knows it, Arias, a man whose previous best known work was in ‘Hannah Montana’, is a revelation. He’s the character that has you falling about with laughter throughout the film.

Well, these three band together and decide to build themselves a house in a forest, wanting to disappear from their families and society itself. The premise is the ultimate coming-of-age tale, as the lads realise what a massive undertaking this is, and just how much they have to learn. It’s funny seeing it myself, now from the other side of these awkward teen years, as I can almost relate to the feelings they have at times, but, like many, would never have the balls to go through with it.

That being said, it’s certainly a fantasy, if you stopped and thought about certain aspects the realism would be lost. However, with the appearance of bands like MGMT and The Orb, on the soundtrack a psychedelic, chilled sense is pretty much always present.

Back to the main trio, and whilst Biaggio may steal the film, Joe, played by the up-and-coming Nick Robinson, gives him a run for his money . He reminds me hugely of James Franco, both in looks and his charisma, of which he has bucketloads. With news of him grabbing a lead role in next summer’s ‘Jurassic World’, just coming out, it’s likely the world will get to see a lot of him, and he really deserves it based on this performance.

The film itself is a huge success, dicing between the humour, which the three adolescents handle magnificently and some heartbreak, leading to an unexpectedly tense finale, in which you discover that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts has really made you care about these characters, the lot of them from the three lads, to Offerman’s hilarious dad, a very understate role, right over to ‘Community’ star Alison Brie and her troubled relationships, as Joe’s sister and Offerman’s daughter.

It’s great stuff, and was seen by far too little a number of people this summer, with a small cinematic release, leading to a quick release on DVD & Blu-Ray, if you missed it the first time round, do yourself a favour and pick it up this time!

9/10

About Time

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I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t exactly bursting with excitement at the prospect of going to see ‘About Time’. A Richard Curtis rom-com wasn’t what I fancied, but hey why not give it a chance?

If you actually look into ‘About Time’, you’ll find it a quite interesting concept. It gives the standard rom-com a kick up the arse, with a time travel power that every male in the family of Tim (Domnhall Gleeson, son of Brendan) has. Bill Nighy is the father figure, who reveals news of this surprising development to his son after a disappointing New Year’s Eve party.

Nighy and Gleeson have instant chemistry, despite looking nothing like one another, and you believe in their relationship from the offset, an important feature, that helps the second half of the film come alive.

Tim uses the powers to help find him a girlfriend, and the film has its premise, with Rachel McAdams dropping into his life. The pair, again, work well together, despite McAdams’ US accent not really fitting in this typical British rom-com.

Whilst the first hour or so focuses on the relationship between the two, and its gradual development over time, I’m talking proposal-marriage-children, the lot, the second hour focuses on family relationships, most notably the father-son one, something that I enjoyed immensely.

I’d heard that after the film tonnes of people rang up their dad’s just to check up on them, I myself settled for a text, but it is a really great feeling that it manages to produce, one that sucked me into the film and didn’t leave me on the outside, a snide critic.

It does suffer from a few rom-com clichés, but Curtis is known for that. He’s also gone for some cushioned jokes, and the rules behind the time travelling are stated at times, but not really stuck to at all. If you really think about it, it doesn’t make much coherent sense, but then it isn’t a film that you’re meant to pick apart that thoroughly.

For all its slushiness, for all its flaws, ‘About Time’ isn’t all that bad, a rom-com I could put up with, and the message being that you should enjoy your life to the max, time travelling or not time travelling!

6.5/10

Prisoners

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A dark, twisted thriller that isn’t recommended to any parents of small children (or big for that matter), ‘Prisoners’, is a slow-burner, twisting about a bit, before the final few reveals that you really won’t see coming. It’s no wonder that the film has had such success here in the UK, for Jake Gyllenhall and Hugh Jackman lead a range of great acting performances, as Detective Loki (no not that Loki) and the father one of one of the missing girls.

It’s brutal and Jackman really verges into his dark, Wolverine-esque territory with some savage torturing of suspect Paul Dano, his character a bumbling, helpless man-child. But as the film descends into darkness, we see what truly makes a good man, and what can make a good man turn bad in some wonderful character transformations.

Gyllenhall is as good as he has ever been in his role as Loki, a detective proud of his 100% success rate in turning over crime case verdicts, and his assignment to this one isn’t about to break it. It’s the little nuances, like his eye-twitch and savage attention-to-detail, that make the character as good as it is.

A top, top thriller that you must see!

8/10

Cheers!