The Big Birmingham Live review of 2017

We have had another great year at Birmingham Live.  We have been able to cover a wide range of gigs from the intimate to the spectacular.  Our team give a quick run down of their personal highlights for 2017.

Alan Neilson – Reviewer 

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live?

Well, if it hadn’t have been cancelled, the gig of the year would have been Brooke Bentham at the Sunflower Lounge in November.  I saw her as support at the Glee Club in April and was mesmerized .  I was so looking forward to her headline show and gutted that it was cancelled on the day.  If it had happened, no question, it would have been the gig of the decade.

So I guess because this didn’t happen, the actual best gig was Sigur Ros at Manchester Apollo , however, as this was not a Birmingham venue, the real winner of best BirminghamLive Gig of 2017 was… Gang of Youths at the Sunflower Lounge 28 May

Best support act you saw and who did they support?

The Blinders supporting Cabbage at the Slade Rooms .

Top 3 albums of the year:

Gang of Youths ‘Further Into Lightness’

Aimee Mann ‘Mental Illness’

Feist ‘Pleasure’

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review or editing photos?

Custard creams (dunked)

Band I would love to see play in Birmingham:

The Sundays (if the 2014 rumours that Wheeler and Gavurin are still actually making music is true!)

2018 is going to be a huge year for: 

Brooke Bentham or The Blinders or Gang of Youths


Chris Bowley – Photographer/Reviewer

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live?

I don’t even have to think about this, KISS. As shows go, this is the loudest, brightest and probably one of the most fun shows of this year and having Paul Stanley within licking distance (yes, I know and I don’t want to lick him, well maybe only  a little) Its massively over the top and that’s what makes it so good, plus they are LEGENDS!. But I can’t also forget at the start of the year I also got to see Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold which was surreal and warm with toasty fire.

Best support act you saw and who did they support?

Crossfaith, WOW!!!! Yea any metal fan you should see and hear this, they absolutely stole the show in my book – ear ringing electric dance metal hybrid music, a great watch and listen and lots of hair ☺ they supported Bury Tomorrow which erupted the crowd without much assistance needed, it was another of many great nights.

Top 3 albums of the year

There have been so many good albums this year, but I have 3 that could be so far different from each which shows my variety of very different genres

Greywind — Afterthoughts

I caught these guys by chance at Slam Dunk Festival 2016 and it was Steph and Paul (aka Greywind) with an extra member as an acoustic show, yes, this was a fantastic performance for such a new band to the circuit. I then went on to see them at Downloads big tent in 2017. My favourite track is “Car spin” though its so hard to pick a favourite they’re all so melodic and awesome.

Foo Fighters — Concrete and Gold

My favourite track “La Dee Da”. The Foo Fighters need no introduction and they still have their talent skill and engaging riffs and ground breaking cries but then it’s exactly what you would expect from them and the devilish David Grohl.

Battle Beast — Bringer of Pain

Some good old Power Metal you can’t beat it (only with real music some of you are thinking) fast paced ear thumping melodic tracks, favourite track “Beyond The Burning Skies” They are great live, great sounds and great guys, and girl of course Noora, another band who would be fantastic to see with a big production.

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review or editing photos?

Simple with me, Loud Music is pretty much all it takes and usually an ice cold glass of water or Pespi Max as I would much rather eat my calories and not drink them ☺ and it is usually late

Band i would love to see play in Birmingham

Ok so 2 again, everyone knows my Love for Skillet, C’mon, John Cooper, Korey Cooper, Jen Ledger, Seth Morrison there is a whole lot of love waiting here for you guys 😉 and we need a new album ☺ its been a while its now…..its due haha.

2nd  Ha, yes no chance of this one, but I would absolutely love nothing more than for Primal Fear to come and say a big hello to us fellow Brits we need you too.

2018 is going to be a huge year for…… 

The Loved and Lost — These guys are no strangers to most who know me, they are friends and great musicians. Currently they have lots of tricks up their sleeves though, right at this minute there isn’t too much to say…….watch this space 😉


Glenn Raybone – Reviewer 

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live?

This is hard to pick just one, I would say Gary Numan at the Institute as he continues to get better and better, but as I’ve not seen them before, I’ll go with Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, as it was a great gig, and hearing those Housemartins songs live for the first time since 1986 was a joy.

Best support act you saw and who did they support?

Cabbage, supporting Blossoms. Cabbage are brilliant live, their rawness, their ‘couldn’t give a shit’ attitude, very refreshing and great to see a new young band writing original music.

Top 3 albums of the year

Cigarettes After Sex- It’s just a superb album, and any tension or stressors from the day melt when you listen to this album. Live dates in the Midlands next year please.

The Wedding Present- Technically not a new album, but George Best 30, was a re-recording of their 1987 album. I loved it then, I still do. It will always be a firm favourite and take me back to a certain time in my life. Their live show, playing the album in full, was a delight, and these new recordings add a little bit of that live rawness when compared to the original recordings.

Thundercat- What can you say about this album other than it’s brilliant. BBC 6music album of the year too. I was due to see him in Manchester but work saw to it that I didn’t. I have made a note!

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review or editing photos?

Tea, strong, plenty of milk, no sugar. No biscuits as I’m fat enough

Band I would love to see play in Birmingham

Same answer as last year, Melody Gardot. It’s now been EIGHT long years since she played Brum, and the rare occasions she graces a stage tends to be London. How she isn’t a global star I’ll never know. Incredible talent.

2018 is going to be a huge year for……

Political scandal and Brexit. Politicians are all useless. It is also going to be a huge year for Wolves, promoted back to the Premier League. It’s been a long time coming.


Steph Colledge – Editor/Photographer

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live 

This year has been all about siblings for me, The Cribs and Sparks – both bands with brothers who each had an amazing effect on the main room in the 02 Institute.

The Cribs put on an incredible night of raw energy, sweaty bodies and celebration. Any gig with Our Bovine Public as the opener was going to go off the scale rapidly – and it did.  By comparison Sparks were equally emotional but in a very understated way.  Funny, gentle and humble their crowd adored them and the combined talent of Ron’s musicality and Russell’s soaring vocal was perfect, essential viewing and listening.

Best support act you saw and who did they support

Young Romance supporting The Wedding Present.

Top 3 albums of the year

Kommode – Analog Dance Music

Cribs – 24-7 rock star Shit

Sparks – Hippopotamus

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review/editing photos?

Tea lots of tea and any biscuit in reach…coated in chocolate..lovely.

Band i would love to see in Birmingham

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizzard and Kings of Convenience two bands who are my perfect night out – in different ways.


Imran Khan – Reviewer

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live?

This is a tough question, I know that I haven’t covered many gigs this year but all of them have been fantastic – how can you choose between The Jesus and Mary Chain, Loyle Carner, Weezer, Run The Jewels and Happy Mondays? Each of them brought something very unique to the table. But I know I have to choose so I am going to go with Run The Jewels, just because of the number of times I threw the pistol and fist in the air!

Best support act you saw and who did they support?

This is a toss up between Slow Readers Club (supporting The Jesus and Mary Chain) and Danny Brown (supporting Run The Jewels). I think that Slow Readers Club just pips this one – there was something dark and wonderful about their sound that just worked for me.

Top 3 albums of the year

Never ask a DJ this question, actually it isn’t so bad when you ask about the year, if you asked for all time I don’t think I could do it. Some stand out records that would be in my top 10 of they year and this is not in any kind of order:

  1. Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
  2. Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex
  3. Ride – Weather Diaries

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review or editing photos?

Is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit – let the debate begin!

Band i would love to see play in Birmingham

In my many years of going to gigs I’m pretty sure that everyone that I have ever wanted to see has played Birmingham/Wolverhampton… I’d like Radiohead to come back, does that count? Oh and I really want to see two bands Shame and Sunflower Bean when they tour their new EPs as they were fantastic at Green Man festival this year.

2018 is going to be a huge year for……

Hmmmm let me see…

  1. Shame
  2. DMAs
  3. Curtis Harding
  4. Bicep
  5. The Caress

I will leave it at 5 – I could easily list a lot more.

And as I am always looking for the next big thing I hope some of this local talent blow up as well

  1. Lions of Dissent
  2. Chris Wallbank & The Cowards

Marc Osborne – Photographer/Reviewer

This year has been a bit of a special one for me, my first year with the amazing Brum Live team, I have had the pleasure of covering some seriously cool shows over a good variety of venues/locations, from the intimate venues of Mama Rouxs, to V festival Stafford, I’ve seen some amazing bands and artists. Here’s my little round up:

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live?

If I had to pick my favourite gig of the year (which I do, as this is kinda the point of this) I’ve got to choose Birmingham’s own Superfood. They played at Mama Roux’s in October and nearly destroyed the place. I can’t remember seeing a crowd react to a band like that for quite some time now. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you need to, a little homegrown gem from Birmingham.

Best support act you saw and who did they support?

I’d have to go for Danny Brown, supporting Run The Jewels at the O2 Academy in November. Never have I seen a support act take such dominance over the crowd as Danny’s set, I heard a lot of people talking about how you could easily have been mistaken in thinking he was the headliner, just awesome.

Top 3 albums of the year: 

*Wolf Alice — Visions of a Life

*The Big Moon — Love in the 4th Dimension

*Superfood — Bambino.

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review or editing photos?

Anything and everything!!!

Band i would love to see play in Birmingham:

A bit of a guilty pleasure for me, but Coldplay, purely for how amazing their live shows are, a bucket list gig for me to photograph.

2018 is going to be a huge year for……

Tom Walker, shot him at the intimate Sunflower Lounge in February this year and could barely even get in to the room. He completely owned the room, and I left thinking that Tom was the real thing. He’s exploding at the minute, on the BBC one to watch 2018 list, YouTube on the rise list, MTV brand new 2018 list, and on the Radio 1 A playlist with his latest single; Leave a Light On, it’s safe to say 2018 is set to be a very good year for Tom.

Kylie McCormick- Reviewer

To say it has been a year filled with shows would perhaps be an understatement; with shows seemingly taking place every week running alongside a full summer of festivals it has been a 2017 of music and gigs. Not complaining, how could you complain about such a thing! With weekends filled with music it may be difficult to do a year in review, and yet upon reflection two shows seem to really stand out amongst the rest. Headlining his first run, Tom Grennan’s Sunflower Lounge show and OUTLYA’s opening slot where easily the standout shows of the year.

A sold out show at The Sunflower Lounge may not be the most impressive gig of the year for some, especially when the slew of stadium shows and arena gigs that pass through our calendars. And yet Tom Grennan’s Sunflower Lounge debut and his handful of Birmingham stops since then have been ground shaking. For those not familiar, Tom Grennan is a gritty bluesy singer songwriter that has just recently burst onto the scene. His mind boggling voice, this staggering mixture of bombastic grit and reverberating resonance, boomed through the lounge completely obliterating are sense of normality and understanding.

People were awestruck, frozen by Tom’s power. His booming voice was sweetly juxtaposed by the uptempo slightly pop flavour to his tunes. A genre mixture of R+B, singer songwriter, pop, blues and soul Grennan’s songs have heart and purpose. All of this paired with the lightness of frivolity of modern pop. At The Sunflower Lounge and throughout his continuous touring year each song brought a smile and a dance, drawing people in to his rich talent and effervescent personality. Tom Grennan is that awe-inspiring mixture of personality and talent, an otherworldly combination that places Tom as one to watch because his rise to stardom will be swift.

Tom Grennan was easily the stand out headliner of the season, which now brings us to the standout opening act. Opening slots are excitement bits for people who spend so much time in the music world; they offer a possible glimpse into what is to come, talent on the rise. Often openers are a mixture of raw possibility and excited potential, very rarely are they finely tuned sets of perfection. OUTLYA defied the odds, as an opener they were energetic to the point of electric, yet their music had an element of poise and perfection that is often missed.

In the secluded corner of Mama Roux indie pop rock trio OUTLYA filed onto a crowded stage, opening for Dan Croll. From the very beginning OUTLYA exuded a type of energy that was spell binding; like an immediate force they awakened the sleepy audience. Drawing us from our doldrums their indie pop rock tunes were electrifying, part uptempo dance tunes part simplistic sensitive nods their songs had the ease of a pop song but the seriousness of singer songwriter tunes.  Their stage was simple, like most openers there was no flashing lights or gaudy set, rather their musical talent was the transformative piece for the night. From the very first moment I heard them I, and the rest of the audience, was hooked. We needed more, we needed to know more and hear more and be a part of the choir that backboned their success. OUTLYA combined mystical music with an unwavering flush of pure energy that created a truly magical event.

Since their Birmingham gigs I have had the pleasure of seeing both Tom Grennan and OULTYA on the festival circuit. Their talent has magnified, their stage presence intensified. Both represent this true authentic artistry that is often missing, paired with their remarkable music it is obvious to me what Tom Grennan and OUTLYA were the highlights for my 2017 season.

Mark Veitch – Reviewer

Best gig you’ve covered for Birmingham Live?

This would easily be Qujaku (Jpn) supported by The Courtesy Group .

I went thinking that the gig would be interesting at best and found a local band that give The Fall a run for their money. I expected to be totally bored by the main act who were suggested as Psychedelic rock, I was then pretty much blown over (quite literally given I was stood next to the stack when a tiny Japanese girl punched me in the gut with bass notes straight from the depths of Hades). This band had everything that I want from a live act. Incredible.

Best support act you saw and who did they support?

So may good support acts; good for so many reasons. However, my pick here is another band that I didn’t expect anything from and was instantly won over. Coventry’s The Duck Thieves – dance-able, funny, visually interesting, artistic, performance art, excellent guitar playing and just all round unexpected smile inducing.

Top 3 albums of the year

I’m not going to play the list game because my top three will be different tomorrow anyway. 2017 has seen some good releases and a few of these on my turntable are from Rancid, Courtney Barrett and Kurt Vile, Cloud Nothings, Parquet Courts, Sharp Shock, Jane Weaver

Biscuit of choice with tea/coffee when writing review or editing photos?

I don’t eat biscuits. My body is a temple where sugar is concerned (albeit one with ample parking). My reviews are written whilst imbibing real ale and gins on an evening or strength 6 Java Lava Coffee on a morning,

Band i would love to see play in Birmingham

Titus Andronicus – only been in the right place to see these once, Acid Mothers Temple – again. They never fail to amaze and I’d be happy for them to be back in 2018.

2018 is going to be a huge year for……

It all depends what your definition of ‘a huge year’ is and in what musical demographic you’re interested in. For me and the scene I live in….

Otherkin – these are gonna big and I’ve been calling this all year. This is their year.

Bad Cop / Bad Cop – Fat Wreck’s all-girl noiseniks. 2017 was their constant touring year, 2018 is their breakout year.

Sharp Shock – Bromsgrove lad Davey Warsop’s latest band. Having recorded the BC/BC album and engineered an unreleased studio track on Green Days new greatest hits, dropped a banger of an album for Sharp Shock, gigged with The Interrupters, Descendants, The Bronx, Tiger Army, The Vandals and next up Rocket From The Crypt and Alkaline Trio…. 2018 is the year that hard work and determination pays dividends.

Closer to home…. Glass Mountain… 2018 is going to be the springboard year for another set of my faves.

Photos: Chris Bowley, Marc Osborne, Stephanie Colledge, John Dent, Ian Dunn.

About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *