Playlist: 10 Best Spring Gigs

Warpaint (image courtesy The Guardian)

Toby Hood compiles a mixtape of his favourite tracks from the best of this Spring’s touring indie musicians…

With recent high winds and flooding, it might be hard to see the dawn of Spring on the horizon. But it’s coming, and while your waiting for the calm, I’ve been kind enough to start organising your gig calendar for the next couple of months. You’re welcome.

We start with a decidedly mellow influence in the shape of George Ezra — ranking fifth in BBC’s Sound of 2014 — who has been likened to Guthries Woody and Arlo in regards to his aged vocals and unpolished folk-blues palette, receiving a fair whack of attention from the music press. You can see Ezra on 28/02 at Leaf cafe in Liverpool.

This will be an eventful year for first-wave indie rockers Franz Ferdinand; playing BBC 6 Music’s festival in Manchester (01/03) — the set list of which was chosen by fans — before kicking off on a global tour that sees them back in the north-west at Manchester Academy (22/03). The band have also announced a collaboration with American synth-rockers Sparks that has been a long time in the pipeline; fans have that to look forward to later in the year.

Manchester’s Albert Hall will also host Kendal-based Wild Beasts this season (26/03), along with venues in Glasgow, Bristol and London. The band are back touring to promote their latest album, Present Tense, after a short hiatus from live performance. Fans, don’t expect to hear Underbelly from their 2009 Mercury-nominated album Two Dancers — the band have this week denounced it as “sucking corporate cock” after its appearance on a Santander bank ad. Ouch.

Los Angeles’ Warpaint are music festival veterans these days, and are set to return to Reading and Leeds this year, as well as Parklife and London’s Field Day festival. Before that though, the four piece tour their self-titled third album, gracing Leeds (19/02), Liverpool (20/02) and Bristol (21/02) O2 Academies.

2014 has already been kind to north-Londoners Bombay Bicycle Club, who garnered their first number-one album last week with So Long, See You Tomorrow. From their very early start as Road To V winners in 2006 (all of them under the age of 15), the band has consistently pursed an anthemic, uplifting sound. Catch them at an enormous array of UK venues through March before they hit California in April.

Making an appearance at Liverpool’s Hotham Street venue (03/03) are masters of the punk anthem The Stranglers, celebrating an extraordinary 40 years. Having cut their teeth on the journey from Guildford to the London pub scene, the band became part of the ’70s punk movement; four decades of various stylistic changes and band reformations (along with the occasional prison sentence) they’re still going strong.

At the other end of the spectrum, newcomers The Minx have recently been lauded by I Am Kloot’s Pete Jobson as “the most exciting new band I’ve heard in years, a ferocious live proposition.” Listen out for their debut single No Friends as they support fellow northerners Reverend and the Makers at the Manchester Ritz (5/03) and Darlia at Sound Control (28/03).

Joining Franz Ferdinand and Wild Beasts on the Saturday (01/03) line-up at BBC 6 Music festival will be Mancunian grrrl group PINS. Having self-produced their sneering, gritty debut album, Girls Like Us, the group will be appearing on Stage 2 of the festival, following on from Liverpool five-piece Outfit; enriched with their unique brand of bricolage music, this is the latter’s only live-stage appearance this year.

Last on the list is the doleful William Fitzsimmons. Playing at London’s The Garage (07/03) then Manchester’s Night and Day cafe (08/03), the American folk singer portrays the deep troubles of a soul twice his age in his lyrics, whilst  incorporating contemporary, electronic sounds to his records. Accompanying Bill on his three UK tour dates will be his trademark beard (which has its own Facebook page), making these few appearances, we’re sure, even more unmissable.

May this playlist make the current climate all the more bearable as we anticipate some much needed spring weather. Enjoy!

Toby Hood

Posted on 17/02/2014 by thedoublenegative