Opera North Turns The Screw On Britten

Returning to Leeds Grand, Opera North's The Turn of the Screw is a disturbingly dark and accurate rendition of the Henry James novella of the same name. Originally appearing in serial format in Collier's Weekly magazine - 1998, and described as a 'horror novella' - the work has passed through a few hands but has remained raw and untamed. It is alleged that the story was given to Henry James by the then Archbishop of Canterbury. We can but wonder at…

Andrez Harriott - Damage Control And Workshops

He's a member of British RnB band Damage selling over one million records, but away from the limelight Andrez Harriott BSc, PgCert, PgDip, MA is CEO and Founder of The Liminality Group. While heading out with his The Big Reunion co-stars on tour during February and March, he is using his time to provide deterrent messages to at risk children across the UK. We caught up with him to find out more... …

Ásgeir - One Of Iceland's Finest Musical Exports

Ásgeir is one of Iceland's finest musical exports ever. Having broken all records with his debut album on his home turf, the understated intimacy of the English re-recording In The Silence saw him melt hearts the world over. As he releases his third studio album in both Icelandic and English simultaneously, we caught up with him to find out what we can expect from both the record and the tour. Hi Ásgeir, are you feeling ready for the world to hear

Asgeir - Bury The Moon

Hailing from the tiny village Laugarbakki in Iceland, introvert Ásgeir is an unlikely international icon. However, anyone who heard his 2012 debut Dýrð í dauðaþögn fell in love instantly. While understanding the lyrics was not needed to for the listener to be moved uncontrollably by the raw, honest emotion displayed on the album's 10 songs, the 2014 translated release - In The Silence - transformed him from record breaking Icelandic act to an artist in demand the world over. Both…

Gabrielle Aplin - Dear Happy

Half a decade has disappeared since Gabrielle Aplin released her acclaimed sophomore album Light Up The Dark. Having initially established herself as a tender folkster, her sophomore record showed that she was unafraid to shake things up and defy expectations. A poppy, upbeat collection that was infectiously addictive from start to finish, Aplin proved irresistible for radio producers. Although since her last album she has released two EPs, Dear Happy marks the return to the long-player and it is a…

A Marriage Of Figaro

Excuse the errant indefinite article; there have been so many Marriages of Figaro that to call any one The marriage seems a little presumptuous. Unbowed by this and the ever present potential for a 3½ hour musical cliche, Opera North has bravely stepped once more onto the scales to be weighed. Figaro is, after all, one of the big ones. The original play Marriage of Figaro was written in 1784 by the playwright Pierre Beaumarchais. Nine years earlier he had started…

A Triumphant Wedding In Berlin For The Pet Shop Boys

Late last year Pet Shop Boys returned with the stunning Years & Years featuring Dreamland. The single worked flawlessly as a teaser for their just released fourteenth studio album, Hotspot, which arrives some four years after the aptly titled 2016 release Super. Although 2019 had seen the release of the politically charged EP, Agenda, the release of Dreamland was a return to the Stuart Price produced album trilogy that was started in 2013 with Electric. While many 'vintage' acts may…

Cilla Black - Especially For You: Revisited

At the outset of her career, Cilla Black was seen a big, bold balladeer. After establishing herself as a UK equivalent to Dionne Warwick, she enjoyed huge success as a pop innovator before small screen success transformed her into a family entertainer. While it was her success on the small screen that endured till she passed away in 2015, her musical back catalogue has enjoyed increased attention in the aftermath of the successful Sheridan Smith series documenting her early career. With…

Louise Returns With Heavy Love

Eternal are still one of the most successful British girl bands of all time. Their legacy is undeniable. From the moment they exploded into the charts in 1993 with Stay, it was clear there was something special about the four vocalists. Despite naming their debut album Always & Forever, the band lost Louise from their line-up in 1995 ahead of the release of their sophomore album Power of A Woman. While the band went on to show they did indeed…

Viennese Whirl – Sweeter Than A Kipling Cake

Strauss music is as festive as a Vienna Christmas market but when the skies of Leeds are grey and gloomy, it still requires the Orchestra of Opera North to transport you to the mountains of Austria. And that’s exactly what they did at Leeds Town Hall under the auspices of conductor Paul Daniel, leaving a capacity crowd demanding more and The Radetzky March most likely being hummed all the way home by hundreds of delighted punters! It has been such a refreshing…

The Teletubby Magic of Opera North!

Getting lost in Leeds is one of the unique pleasures of Christmas…..especially if your wanderings take you to the confines of your imagination! Father Christmas no longer has world domination over childhood dreams for there is a new contender on the block…………Opera North! This premier classical orchestra, so often locked in the confines of challenging operatic scores, every now and then steps into a lighter world, and how good they are at it! This year Prokofiev’s charming tale of courage and compassion –…

Huddersfield Choral Society/Orchestra of Opera North: Messiah

A friend, and devotee of the Huddersfield Choral Society of many years standing, once described Handelian Oratorio as ‘Up and at ‘em music’, and there was an unambiguous truth to his words on Tuesday night at Huddersfield Town Hall. Dedicated to, but embodying something beyond, the religiose, Messiah is the Church militant, the Church triumphal. Whatever your devotional affiliation – and you could speculate that large sections of the choir, orchestra and audience of 2019 have none – Messiah speaks…

Top 60 Albums of 2019! 10-1

10. Laura Tesoro - Limits Laura Tesoro has not been in a rush to release her début album. Having very publicly experimented with her sound over the course of the last 6 years, her début album Limits showcases an artist who has finally found her identity. Cleverly not playing out as a greatest hits since her 2014 début Outta Here, this is a body of work crafted expertly to demonstrate her flawless vocal and R'n'B pop sensibilities. 9. David Carreira - 7-

Top 60 Albums of 2019! 20 To 11

20. Madeline Juno - Was bleibt Madeline Juno hasn't had a straight forward journey in the music industry. However, with each release showing a growing confidence and diversity as a songwriter, she delivers her truest collection to date. 19. Shura - Forevher Shura has found her happiness on Forevher. A euphoric and ecstatic listen that will have you happily experiencing her journey into love. 18. Hugo Helmig - Juvenile Young Dane Hugo Helmig could have easily been mistaken for a wannabe Ed Sheeran or Shawn…

Top 60 Albums of 2019! 30 To 21

30. Bilal Hassani - Kingdom A defiant icon of the French LGBTQI+ community, Bilal Hassani has used pop platform for the positive. While there is a big message within his work, he hasn't neglected the need for unforgettable melodies. This is forward thinking pop with heart. 29. Sara Carreira - Metade Having a pop star as a father, as well as two as brothers, Sara Carreira has the difficult job of establishing herself as an artist in her own right. Her debut Metade…

Top 60 Albums of 2019! 40 To 31

40. GIRLI - Odd One Out Feisty, fiery and an true innovator, GIRLI's Odd One Out certainly sees her stand out from her contemporaries. 39. Steve Lacy - Apollo XXI Steve Lacy took throwback sounds and muted vocals to a new level. While you had listen closely to understand his message, those who got it really got it. Those who didn't, would still be blown away by his irresistible sound. 38. Jonas Brothers - Happiness Begins Delivering some of the biggest pop anthems of 2019,…

Top 60 Albums of 2019! 50 To 41

50. The Highwomen - The Highwomen A Country supergroup that marries the poppier edge with the 'more trad' got people hot under the collar with anticipation. The resulting debut album was certainly worth the hype. 49. Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride With their most radio ready record to date, Vampire Weekend showcased an Americana leaning that certainly suited them. 48. Izia - Citadelle Powerful simplicity, Citadelle is a real statement and testament to Izia's versatility as an artist. 47. Backstreet Boys - DNA Backstreet…

BFCS – The Perfect Brexit Tonic

“I don’t care whether he’s nice or not, he’s a Brexiteer and he’s not coming into our house this Christmas.” The lady in front of me was adamant but, within an hour, the melodic tones of the city’s largest and longest running choir – Bradford Festival Choral Society - had soothed her frazzled nerves and marital peace had, once more, returned to the Piece Hall at Bradford Grammar! Christmas Old and New was this year’s festive offering from the BFCS, billed as…

Top 60 Albums of 2019! 60 To 51

60. Madonna - Madame X Madonna is one of the pop world's greatest innovators. Madame X sees her channel her Portuguese influences into a whole new direction. Smart and sexy, Madame X is a clever reincarnation. 59. Luke Evans - At Last The former West End actor turned Hollywood star, Luke Evans showcased his ability to take the concept of a covers album into something with so much more meaning. 58. FEET - What's Inside Is More Than Just Ham The quirkiest debut release of…

No Prohibition For The Bootleg Beatles 40 Years On

If durability is any way to measure the success of a band then surely The Bootleg Beatles must now be standing shoulder to shoulder with the likes of The Rolling Stones? Formed in 1980 this lookalike four-piece, along with nine classical musicians, stage crew, lighting and sound men – a veritable tour bus – is now in its third line up since it was formed almost four decades ago. And what a slick tour de force the ‘Bootlegs’ are. Surely the original ‘tribute…

Singer And Songwriter Ann Christine Finding Her Nerve Among Cowboys And Latin Rhythms

Born and raised on the countryside of Denmark, Ann Christine is a 26-year old singer and songwriter who has been based in Berlin for the past five years. Growing up with a father who worked as a producer and guitar player in the Danish pop-music scene - and who spent much of her childhood bringing him with her on tour - Ann Christine has had music as part of her upbringing from a very early age. At the age of…

Raflo Gives It Up

Raflo is an eclectic UK dance producer who has twice reached the top of the US club charts in collaboration with DJ Robbie Rivera and has produced and co-written tracks for artists including Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis. Other credits include remixing Radiohead and drumming for Neneh Cherry. His track ‘Keep Me Up’ is currently top ten in the UK club charts. His first release with soul/jazz vocalist - and star in waiting- Brixton born Riketté was the track Be Free…

Wacko Jacko's Backo!

In the week that saw Psychic Sally summoning spirits from the afterlife when she appeared at Bradford’s St George’s Hall, I feel sure that Michael Jackson made a somewhat latent appearance last night when one of the world’s top Michael Jackson tribute shows opened to an enthusiastic, capacity crowd at the same venue. And how wonderful it was to see a truly multi-cultural audience in this fair city, something you rarely observe at a Bradford theatre. Asians, whites, Sikhs and every other…

Shakespears Sister

Siobhan Fahey has spent the last few years mending broken relationships. To kick off proceedings, she made peace with her Bananarama bandmates Sara Dallin and Keren Woodward. The truce saw her embark on a critically acclaimed reunion tour with the duo, before sadly parting ways again before the band released release of the phenomenal In Stereo. While Woodward and Dallin continue to make powerful pop hits, their loss of Fahey has led to one of the most unlikely pop reunions…

Sia Babez. I Cry When I Listen To Sir Cliff Richard

Seorsia Jack AKA ‘Sia Babez’ is an Irish/Zimbabwean solo female artist, born in 2001 in Dublin, Ireland. Fast gaining a reputation in the music industry as being an exceptionally talented singer/songwriter, Sia has been working diligently on her new and upcoming EP ‘ Inception‘ which has been garnering the attention of various Grammy nominated Music Producers, A&R Executives and Management companies in USA, UK, Europe and Africa. In just under 2 months she’s attracted notable attention from the leading commercial…

Rose May Alaba. An All-Round Encompassing Talent

Rose May Alaba grew up in Vienna with her Philippino mother, Nigerian father, and her older brother David. From the age of six her talent became obvious as she emulated her idols Whitney and Christina. Over the years since, she has developed into an all-round encompassing talent: not only is she a singer – she is also an excellent musician, dancer and some would even describe her as an influencer and ‘fashionista’. She is an aspirational figure to her peers…

AKA Lonely Boy. Eat, Sleep, Work! Eat, Sleep, Work!

Songwriter musician and producer AKA Lonely Boy locked himself away alone in his studio for most of 2018 to write and record what would become his first album ‘21 st Century Loneliness’. A concise and focused commentary on today’s society and the human condition in the modern world set to the backdrop of driving beats, soaring melodies and anthemic choruses. The perfect starting point to introduce him and his music to the world at large is the relentless, synth driven…

Music Hall Memories At The Verts

The stars of yesteryear made a welcome return to the City Varieties in Leeds last night as music hall proved it was no longer just a faded memory from the 1970’s when Barney Colehan’s The Good Old Days ruled supreme. Liz Coggins from On Stage Productions brought her show, Twice Nightly, to the Verts and gave renewed life to the likes of comedienne Hylda Baker and internationally famous male impersonator, Vesta Tilley, as part of her nostalgic look back at the…

Souad Massi - Oumniya

Souad Massi began her career performing in the Kabyle political rock band Atakor, before leaving the country following a series of death threats. In 1999, Massi performed at the Femmes d'Algerie concert in Paris, which led to a recording contract with Island Records. Since then she has shown her diversity as a recording artist, while her lyrics have always been consistently poignant and moving. With a return to the UK for a show in London on 19 November, we caught…

Huddersfield Choral Society / Hallé - Britten and Mozart at Huddersfield

Huddersfield Town Hall’s 2019/20 season climbed straight into devotional fourth gear with a richly contrasting programme of music on Friday evening. The Choral Society’s autumn performance in this acoustically-rich and opulent setting was accompanied by the Hallé Orchestra and a gifted quartet of guest solo voices. Refreshing that the programme commenced with an outing for a rarely heard Britten Cantata – the St Nicolas – which was commissioned in 1948 for the centenary celebrations of Lancing College in Sussex, and is…