Born and bred in the small Welsh countryside town of Llanidloes, Ali Lacey – better known as Novo Amor – successfully brought a little slice of his rural heritage to Gorilla in Manchester earlier this month. Set amongst leafy decoration and dappled pastel colours, his high croon and gentle instrumentation brings to mind American woodsmen such as Bon Iver and Sufjan Stevens.
For all this harkening to his pastoral past, much of Novo Amor’s output so far has related to new beginnings. Lacey rechristened himself Novo Amor after a difficult breakup, and the album which accompanies this tour, his debut without long-time collaborator Ed Tullett, is aptly titled Birthplace. Perhaps the quiet reverence with which the hip young audience watched him was born of an unfamiliarity with the new suite of songs, but I believe it’s more likely that they were held in rapture by this atmospheric set.
Highlights on the night included ‘State Lines’, ‘Terraform’ and the title track from his new album, a poignant warning about the accumulating plastic that is ruining our oceans. This track alone sums up the balancing act that Novo Amor strives to strike: a soothing melody with icy, powerful undercurrents, forward looking but inescapably anchored in the natural world around us.
Francisco The Man are mainly known for their radio hit ‘Big Ideas’, and they have made several appearances in the UK recently, including Dot To Dot earlier this year, at the very same venue. Having missed their previous appearance, we definately didn’t want to miss this one.
Having showered, shaved, showered again and slept in a real, comfortable, honest-to-goodness bed, it’s now time to have one last misty-eyed look back on the five day celebration that was 2015’s Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Arts.
“It’s been over twenty years since I was last here”, Grant-Lee Phillips told his audience. Back then, he was touring with Grant Lee Buffalo, known for their fusion of Neil Young style folk/country with modern American alternative rock. From 2000 onwards, he has been fashioning a solo career, and he has a fair bit to show for with seven albums on his belt.
Nottingham’s premier inner city music festival returned for its tenth anniversary bash. Nothing Off Note were there to bring you all the best bits. Here are some highlights of the acts we were lucky enough to see.
The first act of the day which we saw was Nottingham’s own Joy Mumford. She has been a fixture at previous Dot to Dot’s and here she was, performing in the intimate confines of the Stealth Club Acoustic Stage. Songs such as Tripwire showcase her sweet and soulful voice which can be incredibly emotional. She could also be quite upbeat, providing a more up-tempo cover version of Ordinary People by John Legend. Overall, she is a real talent and an excellent start to the day. She deserves to go far.
Playing upstairs in Spanky Van Dykes, Australian band The Griswolds performed Vampire Weekend influenced, infectious Indie rock. They had an energy and enthusiasm which left the audience eating out of their hands, especially with songs such as If You Wanna Stay and I am a Lion being natural chest-thumping tunes. It seemed a strange choice to have this band play in the slot they did, and it would have better suited the band and the audiences to have them play later in the day. Maybe after the success of their stint at this year’s festival, the band maybe bumped up the timings and venues next year.
Over at The Rescue Rooms main stage, singer-songwriter Laurel has her audience transfixed with her haunting and sultry stage presence and Lana Del-Rey-style songs. Memorial captures the haunting sweetness of Laurel’s voice, as well as her enchanting stage presence. Coupled with this was a great rapport with the audience, which meant she was able to laugh and joke with the audience, particularly when one audience members held up an ‘R U Single’ sign on the smartphone, which Laurel handled with a great deal of coyness and panache.
Fat White Family
Lias Saudi takes to the stage like the classic dishevelled rock frontman, leaping into the crowd, surfing and topless. So far, so very Pete Doherty. Fat White Family certainly possesses a rock sound with edginess which is so sharp that you can cut yourself on them. What a disappointment then they only performed 20 minutes of their 45 minute set. It felt like a missed opportunity for Fat White Family to reward their fans and people who hadn’t heard them before to win them over.
This was a solid set form the welsh youngsters. They have been touted as the next oasis in the music press and with good reason. Their rock sound is promising and definitely the loudest band of the day.
Nice bit of indie pop rock from an intimate set in Rescue Rooms Red room. There are certainly shades of Damon Albarn in his voice. Daffodil days and Beautiful Words are two songs you should definitely listen to. Keep an eye out for his Beautiful Words EP which is released in June.
Interesting set from the Peterborough surf-pysch power trio. These guys know how to rock but maybe an earlier set time might have suited them better.
Headlining the Nottingham Trent Uni stage, the Californian band put in a pretty good shift and the audience certainly loved the mosh pit! Having already toured Europe in support of their latest album, they were maybe showing signs of fatigue and a little more audience interaction might have been appreciated. We would definitely recommend seeing them in the future though.
Dot to Dot has to be up there as the one of, if not the best city festival in the UK. Tramlines in Sheffield comes close but the abundance of up and coming bands and the proximity of a number of great venues really makes Dot to Dot stand out. Also the intimacy of most of the venues gives you chance to meet bands and show them some support. However, there was a sense that the performances, particularly from some of the more-hyped bands, such as Best Coast and Fat White Family weren’t as strong as hoped for. Only The Griswolds really lived up to the hype. As is what is happening with the music industry generally, it was the women who delivered some of the best performances, with Joy Mumford and Laurel providing excellent performances and having a real rapport with audiences. It is festivals like this which give bands the coverage, if not the breakthrough they deserve. After previous Dot to Dots had brought you Florence and the Machine, Bastille and Jake Bugg, who knows which of this year’s acts could make it big. Roll on next year and here’s hoping Dot to Dot continues to find and promote the best new acts the music industry has to offer.