Music fans are paying extra attention to the ‘ones to watch’ lists for 2021.
After a rough twelve months (which cancelled thousands of gigs and left the handful of surviving shows to proceed in unusual, socially-distanced formats), a symbolic fresh start is exactly what the industry needed.
Live gigs’ dormant era may finally come to an end next year; a chapter that will surely go down in history as one of the most cathartic and triumphant in music history. Understandably, fans want to get to know the artists who will be riding the crest of a famous wave when gigs return.
The first place people are looking to find these new musicians is, naturally, the north.
Manchester established a reputation for itself as an innovator, trend-breaker and bar-raiser many decades ago, and every December the nation cups its ears and leans towards the Rainy City to eavesdrop on the local talent tipped to soundtrack the upcoming year.
One band already been touted for big things is the Wigan-born ensemble The Lathums – who have been added to the BBC’s prestigious ‘Sounds of’ list (which has a knack of pinpointing Britain’s next breakout stars).
But there’s another group who’ve been making a racket on the local circuit over the past couple of years – selling out venues across the region before they’ve even finished a first full studio album.
The four piece – who hail from Failsworth and Tameside – burst onto the Manchester music scene in 2017 and have turned heads for their earwormy blend of jangly indie rock ever since; a crossbreed of Britpop, late noughties indie pop, and post-punk revival.
Since signing for Golden Robot Records, Callow Youth have been the focus of music magazines and featured on BBC Radio – with their single ‘Red Leather’ reaching number 3 on the UK vinyl singles chart.
Pre-pandemic, the group had been booking sellout shows across the country – including a rowdy performance in March at Manchester city centre’s iconic gig venue Deaf Institute.
Their rising star on the live circuit was brought back down to earth by COVID, but Callow Youth have sustained the momentum in the studio by continuing to write new music through the rest of 2020.
Callow Youth’s singles so far – including ‘Rough’, ‘Did It Really Matter?’ and ‘Wake Up’ – manage to evoke the sound of chart-topping noughties rock (sporadically reminiscent of The Wombats, The Courtneers, and The Vaccines) whilst simultaneously feeling completely fresh and modern; buoyed by palpable pace and energy.
Their latest track ‘Over Your Head’ – a post-punk-style production that offers a narrative on daily life in Britain and the effects of social deprivation – was released on December 14 and has already racked up thousands of plays on streaming sites to give the group a strong footing for 2021.
There’ll be dozens of bands jostling for a place on those stages when venues are finally allowed to reopen. Don’t be surprised to see Callow Youth right there in amongst it.
You can download their latest single, ‘Over Your Head’, online now.
Noughties throwback Lemar announces special 20th anniversary gigs in Manchester and London
The one and only Lemar is back now only with new album but two special shows to mark his 20th anniversary in music.
A chart-topping, BRIT and MOBO award-winning artists who rose to popularity in the early 2000s, Lemar has sold millions of albums worldwide and is now returning with his first new record in nearly eight years.
Having released his latest 80s funk inspired new single, ‘Future Love’, today (7 February) and officially announced his upcoming seventh album, Page In My Heart, the noughties pop and R&B artist is back on the scene and thought it only fit to pay tribute to 20 years in the biz.
Two decades on from his debut album, Dedicated, Lemar is hosting a pair of anniversary shows in London and right here in Manchester. Now this is going to be quite the throwback.
Best know for hit tracks like ‘It’s Not That Easy’, ’50/50′, ‘What About Love?’, ‘Another Day’ and many more, the 44-year-old returns to the stage with a new sound but one that also calls back to his roots and early work.
Speaking in a statement, Lemar says: “With this new album, I wanted to make something for anyone who ever bought Dedicated, as this year is 20 years since its release. I thought I’d like to make something for the people who got behind that album, something that they would appreciate and like.
Descirbing his new single, he went on to say, “it’s more uptempo, it’s got that soulful feel, it’s a bit looser, a bit Chaka Khan. A bit ‘Dance (With U)’… it’s got that kind of energy to it.”
The Tottenham-born singer hasn’t been ‘away’ per se, having continued to perform up and down the country in recent years, but both he and his fans have been waiting “patiently” to get the right collection of songs together to release new material.
His last album, The Letter, released back in 2015 and delighted die-hards but he says this latest project is about reconnecting with his fans, insisting that “it really is a page from my heart.”
Lemar will celebrate two decades of music and the 20th anniversary of Dedicated live with two special nights at O2 Ritz here in Manchester and London indigo at The O2 on the 27 and 28 of April, respectively. You best believe we’ll be getting one.
Tickets go on sale on 10 February at 10am. Tickets will be available HERE and at Ticketmaster.
Neighbourhood Weekender announces massive warm-up show with Ian Brown, Happy Mondays and more
Neighbourhood Weekender has announced a warm-up show on the Friday before the festival proper kicks off, with the likes of Ian Brown, Happy Mondays and more already confirmed.
With Neighbourhood 2023 set for the weekend of 27-28 May as festival season gets into full swing, the increasingly popular Victoria Park-based crowd-pleaser is effectively starting a day early with their ‘Live At The Big Top’ event.
Although the local favourite has previously put on a number of performances on the Friday before the Warrington Weekender as we know it, this is the first time this event has been held and will serve as a warm-up show for the impending gig-goers.
Effectively acting as a warm-up party for the main event, the North West crowd will be treated to the likes of 80s and 90s Manc music icons Ian Brown and Happy Mondays, as well Liverpool indie band Cast and up-and-coming Welsh psych-rock band, CVC, a.k.a. Church Village Collective.
The lineup also denotes a landmark occasion, with this being the first time that Brown and Happy Mondays — two of pioneering artists of the ‘Madchester‘ scene — are sharing the same bill in their long and illustrious careers. Well, aren’t you a lucky lot?
While we’d say this is an absolute must if you truly want to make a full go of Neighbourhood Weekender, this is technically a separate event and it’s well worth attending if you can’t make it on the Saturday or Sunday for whatever reason.
Tickets go on sale at 9.30am on Friday, 10 February. You can grab yours HERE.