A Gig Round-Up: Fall Out Boy, Calva Louise, Nick J.D. Hodgson, Sam Johnson and Grafton Ash

Hello. Hi. Yes, I am still here. I haven’t written a blog post for over a month but a lot has happened meaning a lot to write about but I have had no…will? Yeah.

In my drafts, I have four partially written blog posts all of which I am just going to scrap because the words aren’t coming easy enough. So a fresh start is necessary and I really wanted to a write a post. But what on?

Music of course because this is mainly a music blog and in the past month I have been to countless gigs so I thought I could talk about five acts I have seen. At the end of the post there will be a link to a Spotify playlist that I have made which includes songs from all of these acts. Enjoy. Happy reading and listening!

Fall Out Boy

Towards the end of March, I saw US pop-punk band Fall Out Boy on their first UK tour date of the year at The Arena in Birmingham. People who know me will know that I have been such a fan of the band for some time but had previously never had the opportunity to see them live. Their latest album was a bit of a disappointment to me because I preferred their more guitar and drum heavy tracks but since the gig I have listened to M A  N   I    A more and more.

I knew that it would be a great show but my mood was slightly dampened a few days before when the media reported that guitarist Joe Trohman would not be a part of the tour following his wife giving birth to his second child. However, this was not actually the case.

After the countdown was over and The Phoenix begun, Trohman darted down the runway playing his guitar making his presence very much known. I was elated.

I think I sung every word that night maybe apart from some of their newer tracks which I previously was not fussed about but now love. The staging was brilliant, varied and the pyrotechnics simply awesome. They played a great range of tracks including an acoustic version of Young and Menace which vocalist Patrick Stump played solo on his piano. It was beautiful. And thankfully since then the band have leaked that version so I get to now listen to it all of the time.

FOB Bham
Fall Out Boy at The Arena, Birmingham 27/03/18 (my pic)

Other moments of note are drummer Andy Hurley falling backwards off his stool at the start of his drum solo when he came up through the floor. He wasn’t hurt. And bassist Pete Wentz sporting a Warwickshire County Cricket shirt under his denim jacket which he revealed during the final song. As a die-hard Warwickshire fan I found this amazing. A brilliant way to end a fantastic show. Would definitely go again.

Calva Louise

A few days after having my mind blown at one of the biggest venues in Birmingham I found myself at one of the small ones namely The Sunflower Lounge. It was a Friday night and there were four bands playing including The Mojo Filters, Plastic Factory and History of Sex but I was there for London based indie band, Calva Louise.

It was the first time I have seen them live and I hope it isn’t my last because they were insane. Prior to doors opening we bumped into the band outside where singer and guitarist Jess Eastwood was eating a bag of spinach. I could tell from that they were a cool, laid back band there for the music. It felt like a team effort rather than anyone in it for themselves.

Along with Jess in the band is bassist Alizon Taho and drummer Ben Parker; the trio put on a spectacular set with a mixture of sounds playing tracks like Getting Closer and I’m Gonna Do Well. They are very talented and I recommend to everyone to go and check them out because they are a band to watch. I am looking forward to them releasing new music.

Calva Louise Bham
Calva Louise at The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham 30/03/18 (my pic)

Grafton Ash

Sticking to the Birmingham area, I got to see local band Grafton Ash at the Actress & Bishop where they were supporting Nick J.D. Hodgson. They are an electro pop/folk band with strong vocal harmonies which were flawless. The use of percussion was fantastic, and I just think they had some good tunes.

Reading up on them since I have learnt that they supported James Blunt during his Birmingham show on his last tour which is amazing. They have two EPs, their latest being Existing which is what they based their set on. My favourites on the EP are Existing and Never Meant To Happen. Track, The War on their first EP Avalanche is also one I highly recommend. Must see again.

grafton ash bham 2
Grafton Ash at Actress & Bishop, Birmingham 15/04/18 (Pic: Clair Millham)

Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson LNDN
Sam Johnson at 100 Club, London 17/04/18 (Pic: Fi Ray)

Twenty-three-year-old Sam Johnson is a singer/songwriter who I have had the pleasure of seeing three times this year; twice in London (The Islington, 100 Club) and once in Birmingham (Actress & Bishop). The song of his that has really stuck with me over the past few months since I first saw him at the beginning of February is Perfect Circle. The lyrics are beautiful and you get drawn in by his voice; his tracks raw with emotion. It is like you have an insight into his soul.

Up on stage with his two guitars and percussion pedal he seems so exposed making you feel that connection as an audience member so much more. He’s also a lovely guy and it was great to shake his hand after a short conversation last Tuesday night.

From Weekend Creature to Medicine I almost felt emotionally involved in his set and I look forward to seeing him again. I also hope that there is even more new music on the horizon.

Nick J.D. Hodgson

Nick JD Hodgson Bham
Nick J.D. Hodgson at Actress & Bishop, Birmingham 15/04/18 (my pic)

At the moment, ex-Kaiser Chiefs drummer and songwriter Nick J.D. Hodgson is on his UK tour and I went to two of his dates making it four times this year that I’ve seen him. Each show is worth it.

The set is filled with songs from his debut solo album, Tell Your Friends, as well as some old classics from his Kaiser Chiefs days. I found myself singing all the words and I felt like dancing to some of the songs especially Honest Face for its beat and Feel Better for the groove. But sadly, I am an awkward human being, so I just tapped my foot and swayed. Need more alcohol in my system next time which will be in May at Live at Leeds.

What I love about his gigs is how relaxed they are and his sense of humour. Never let him tell the Virgin Active joke though…it didn’t go down how he hoped. Aha. The band have some bants too which is always good makes it all seem a very positive experience and atmosphere.

If you know Nick from his old band days then you may be aware of some of his past hits. On the tour he has been playing: Oh My God, Boxing Champ, I Predict A Riot and Love’s Not A Competition (But I’m Winning). These familiar sounding tracks have been going down very well at the dates I have been to but also what I think is good is that there hasn’t been a different reaction to his new solo material. People have seemed to enjoy everything. I know I have.


Spotify Playlist


Artists mentioned Twitter accounts (and any previous blog post links):

Fall Out Boy – https://twitter.com/falloutboy

– Fall Out Boy: A Nine Week Opinion Switch-Up

Calva Louise – https://twitter.com/calvalouise

Grafton Ash – https://twitter.com/GraftonAsh

Sam Johnson – https://twitter.com/SCJMusic

Nick J.D. Hodgson – https://twitter.com/nickjdhodgson

– Nick Hodgson: Tell Your Friends

– Suitable – Nick J.D. Hodgson

– Nick J.D. Hodgson Interview: Tell Your Friends


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