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Spellbinding and spectacular, the veteran Scottish rock band Simple Minds rolled into Bournemouth with an absolute bang. The group were on sparkling form and their eighteen track setlist which was predominantly centered around the 80’s entertained from start to finish.

The sold out crowd were also treated to a fantastic set from fellow Scottish rockers Del Amitri who did a sterling job in warming up the crowd. Lead singer Justin Currie regaled the audience with his story of his trip on Bournemouth’s wheel which was ‘shit!’ (apparently as all you could see was the beach! )Fair point Justin!

Pithy observations aside, Justin and the rest of the band put on a soulful and mesmerising set which included ‘Always the Last To Know’, and exquisite version of ‘Driving With The Brakes On’, ‘Missing Person’ and a rousing rendition of ‘Nothing Ever Happens’ which included a beautiful accordion solo. 

With over 40 years smashing the music industry, the band led by Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill (two of the original members) opened the show with fan favourite ‘Waterfront’ which got the enraptured crowd onto their feet and dancing like it was 1983 all over again.

This was superbly followed up by ‘Love Song’ and a fantastuc surprise inclusion in the shape of ‘Sweat In Bullet’ which was performed for the first time since 2013. Their career-spanning set ignited excitement from the get go with the inclusion of ‘Big Sleep’, ‘All The Things She Said’ and the stunning ‘Promised You A Miracle’.

Jim Kerr as always was charming and jovial, regularly conveying his gratitude to the audience for ‘coming to see Simple Minds. Of course, there was some dancing from the charismatic frontman and he traversed every single inch of the stage to connect with the excited crowd.

There were quieter moments such as when the band performed ‘Belfast Child’ which captures the heart and imagination from the first few notes. Always hauntingly beautiful, Jim Kerr stripped it all back to deliver a heart-wrenching version of what is already an emotive song, all eyes were on Jim and he effortlessly managed to combine both delicacy and strength into a perfect vocal. It was powerful, poignant and absolute perfection lyrically and performance wise.

As true musical pioneers, the band are no strangers to touring the world and remain a prolific touring band that delivers both epic music complete with an expansive production. Every band member played their part and had their chance to shine from the phenomenal drummer Cherisse Osei who poured every iota of passion and power into her drum solo and nearly tore the roof off.

Vocalist Sarah Brown delivered a breathtaking performance of ‘Book Of Brilliant Things’ which showcased her pristine vocals and similarly to when Jim performed ‘Belfast Child’, you could have heard a pin drop.

Throughout the show, Jim, Charlie and the band delivered a masterclass in performance and storytelling. It was energetic, majestic and thrilling throughout with even more fan favourites being expertly delivered such as ‘See The Lights’, ‘Alive and Kicking’ and of course, the one that always brings the house down ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ which spanned a whopping seven minutes long.  Jim joked with the audience that he didn’t want them to go home yet with the offer to perform ‘one more song’ which then segued into three or four! 

We didn’t want to go home one bit and their fantastic encore concluded with the ever-wonderful ‘Sanctify Yourself’.

With Simple Minds, it’s always a tour de force performance, and their gig in Bournemouth was an exhilarating and sublime experience. 

Photo Credit: Allan Jones @rockstarimages

Boisterous, brilliant and breathtaking, the highly-anticipated tour to showcase Liam Gallagher and John Squire’s titular album catapulted its way into London at the O2 Forum Kentish Town and what a night it was!

With palpable energy, the sold-out crowd were crying out for their musical heroes long before Liam, John and the rest of the band even set foot on the stage. The audience were suitably calmed by the presence of singer-songwriter Jake Bugg who put on a stellar performance, with just him and his acoustic guitar taking centre stage.

Jake’s set which included ‘Trouble Town’, ‘All Kinds Of People’ and a rousing rendition of his much-loved track ‘Lightning Bolt’ was the perfect way to soothe the soul and it certainly got the crowd into the mood for the main event.

A little after 9pm, the Madchester masters sauntered on stage, with Liam resplendent in a white adidas Spezial cagoule alongside the rest of the band which included Barrie (Little Barrie) Cadogan, Joey Waronker and Christian Madden.

Opening with the euphoric ‘Just Another Rainbow’, the crowd sang along enthusiastically during the song’s refrain whilst John Squire, enigmatic as always served up a swirling psychedelic-infused guitar which effortlessly complimented Liam’s vocals. 

The colour theme continued with Liam asking ‘Hands up who wants the blues?’ to which the crowd responded with an unequivocal yes (who could possibly say no?!), saw music’s most exciting partnership segue into the brilliant ‘I’m a Wheel’ with its distinctive 12-bar riff and its driving, sultry bass line delivered superbly by Little Barrie.

The punk puissance-infused ‘I’m So Bored’ saw Liam complete with plenty of swagger and punchy, acerbic soundbites describing all the things that bore him (war, peace, your kids and the buses to name but a few!)

His contempt for things can also be found in ‘Make It Up As You Go Along’ with the sucker punch of a line ‘Thank you for the thoughts and prayers, and fuck you too!’. Who knew that snarky bon mots and fuck yous could be so utterly absorbing?!

In full throttle and with the crowd in the palm of their hands,  the Gallagher Squire set navigated from the hook-filled chorus of ‘Mars To Liverpool’ to a formidable and emotional rendition of ‘Mother Nature’s Song’, delighting fans at every single note and chord. Liam remains a tour de force both in delivering pristine vocals but sublime showmanship too. 

Their self-titled album is only ten tracks long, so invariably it was only ever going to be a short but sweet set, but good things come in small packages and whilst the crowd were hankering for more, the band reappeared for a barnstorming encore which showcased the only cover of the night, a blistering rendition of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ which saw Liam toss his maracas into the crowd (not a euphemism!) at the finale where he, John Squire and the rest of the band received a roaring standing ovation.

Without a doubt, the partnership of Liam Gallagher and John Squire translates effortlessly into a live setting and their 50 minute set was an electrifying and unmissable experience.

Photo Credit: Adam Hampton Matthews

What can we expect from Yellow Days’ new album?

Well hello and welcome to ‘Hotel Heaven’, the new decadent and captivating album from Yellow Days. The highly-anticipated album which drops on April 5th has captured the attention of both the music press and fans alike after the release of the album’s first single ‘Mrs Midnight’.

Yellow Days has harnessed his own unique blend of bold off-kilter psychedelic indie-pop which is teamed with sumptuous soul and seductive funk. Sonically, this feels like Yellow Days has taken the disco funky grooves of Sly Stone mixed with the lo-fi sensibilities of Tame Impala.

But despite the pure danceability of this record by Yellow Days, there’s still a lot of heart and emotional grit in the mix, garnering this record a true uniqueness. Recorded entirely in his flat in East London, Yellow Days AKA George van den Broek also played every single instrument on the album as well as programming the drums.

‘Hotel Heaven’ is Yellow Days’ third studio album and his first since 2020’s ‘A Day in A Yellow Beat’ and his EP ‘Inner Peace’ in 2022. Positioned as a concept album, ‘Hotel Heaven’ spirits you away to an otherworldly, transcendental escape where the jaded and confused decamp to a life of indulgence. There’s Yellow Days’ trademark humour in there with lyrics that tell the story of a matriarchal concierge (who is God like character) who spends her downtime between shifts chain-smoking and typing eviscerating picture postcard portraits of its guests.

Symbolising how people take comfort that is not real and all is not as it seems, as the album develops it’s apparent that there’s more than meets the eye at ‘Hotel Heaven’ and comparisons have been made to ‘The Shining’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ in terms of influence.

In a statement, Yellow Days – aka George van den Broek – says, “‘HOTEL HEAVEN’ represents fake comfort in all its forms, this whole bullshit idea of luxury where nothing is real. I wanted to write about everything that is happening right now – this TikTok age where everyone wants to be famous. It’s also a big 360 of my life and career to date. I wanted to get away from everything I’d done before, wash my face and start afresh.”

‘Hotel Heaven’ is out on April 5th and you can also catch Yellow Days on tour which includes a landmark London show at KOKO.

Editors are no strangers when it comes to genre bending and putting on a spectacular live show and their return to the O2 Guildhall in Southampton did not disappoint.

With an expansive and impressive setlist which included tracks from their back catalogue of their seven critically acclaimed albums, Editors fans were in for a treat.

This was a sublime sonic navigation through a near-two-hour set that demonstrates why they are one of the UK’s best live bands. Their most recent release EBM which was released in 2022 is EBM is a visionary and sonic adventure playing tribute to both industrial rock and electronic dance music. The band played several tracks of EBM during their set which included Karma Climb, Heart Attack, Strawberry Lemonade and the high-octane and propulsive Picturesque.

There was also room for a highly intoxicating reimagining of Killer, by Adamski/Seal which has been in the Editors setlist for a while now. The band’s rendition of this was absolutely sublime, bringing a new life and an oscillating spin to this classic nineties track.

Both individually and collectively, the band was on fire. From Tom Smith’s faultless and impassioned vocals to Justin Lockey’s impeccable guitar riffs, they elevated tracks such as Heart Attack and Strawberry Lemonade from brilliant album tracks into full scale musical odysseys.

The fusion of visceral rave-ready industrial hooks and nu-retro synths made for a hypnotic and unforgettable set and whilst there was a focus on tracks from the brilliant EBM, fans were also treated to a mixture of Editors deep cuts and fan favourites such as Two Hearted Spider, Bullets, Bones and a rousing rendition of Papillon.

Standouts included the ever-fantastic Strange Intimacy, Munich and Lights with a spectacular encore of At All Cost, The Phone Book and Smokers Outside The Hospital Door.

This was a powerful, enthralling and first-class performance from the band at the 02 on the south coast and yet again the band showcased why they are one of the best live acts in the UK and beyond.

Photo Credit: Flick Hall

Tucked underneath luxury hotel, Middle Eight is QT, an elegant hideaway that every Friday and Saturday night presents The Leo Green Experience, a musical twist on live jazz, led by the man himself, Leo Green.  Leo doesn’t need an introduction, he’s played saxophone for music legends, Van Morrison and Paul McCartney. He regularly presents on Radio 2 and was described as “The greatest sax player I have ever worked with,” by rock and roll icon, Jerry Lee Lewis.  Along with his super talented band, Leo brings to life some classic old school songs mixed in with the latest releases in a two-hour show that will have you up on your feet at least one cocktail in.

QT is a great venue, intimate enough for you to feel part of the show and enough space to indulge in a shimmy stage side. Cosy tables with low lighting and sumptuous velvet seating give speakeasy vibes with a modern twist.   While the band set up, you can settle into your seat and order from their extensive cocktail and drinks menu and if you’re peckish, indulge in a selection of light bites.   There’s table service and the staff here are slick and seamless, my drink is regularly topped up and my substantial charcuterie platter arrives ahead of the show starting.   There’s various drinks and food packages you can pre-order in advance so it’s worth checking out what is on offer.

As the Leo Green Experience took to the stage, I found myself mesmerised by their electrifying performance. Leo Green’s passion for music was palpable in every note he played, and the band members complemented his talent with their own exceptional skills. Together, they delivered a dynamic sax party that spanned genres and eras, expect big tunes you can sing along to and throwbacks that Leo and his ensemble bring bang up to date. 

What stands out was the band’s ability to engage with the crowd, you quickly feel like an old friend. Leo’s charismatic personality and genuine interaction made the evening fun and memorable. Whether he was sharing anecdotes between songs or inviting audience participation, it was evident that he was dedicated to ensuring that everyone had a great night.  You’re encouraged to request songs and challenge the band to belt out a curve ball, when I was there the group put a spin on a Snoop Dog tune that had guests up dancing.  As the performance comes to a close, no one is sat in their seats.  There’s a group of school mums on a night out and they’re soon up on the stage looking every inch glamorous backing singers, all the while Leo is blowing up a storm on the sax.  The band are clapped off stage and guests thin out to the bar upstairs in the hotel.

The Leo Green Experience at QT is a must-see for music enthusiasts and anyone looking to indulge in a night of fabulous entertainment. With its impeccable service, vibrant atmosphere, and unparalleled performances, this event promises a ridiculously fun evening that will leave you longing for an encore.

The Leo Green Experience at QT, Middle Eight Hotel, runs every Friday and Saturday, twice a night. Tickets available at middleeight.com

Music lovers deserve something truly special when it comes to Christmas gifting! But, if you, like me, have not quite finished your Christmas shopping yet, fear not as there’s still time to get the music fan in your life the gift that keeps on giving with our round up of our favourite music-related gifts for the festive season and beyond.

Our Music Editor has curated some of our favourite music-themed presents that any discerning music lover will want to find under the tree this Christmas.

Wear it!

You can’t beat a classic band tee which is a fantastic way to showcase your serious style credentials whilst showing support for your favourite band. Whether you love Bowie or Blondie, Jimi Hendrix or Johnny Cash or even Prince or Pink Floyd, music lovers will be spoilt for choice thanks to the fantastic selection of tees from Backstage Originals.  

You can even shop on their website by your favourite bands for ease which is ideal for music lovers who are shopping on the go!

Listen up!

Headphones are a great gift all year round, but they make for quite the stellar gift for music lovers. SkullCandy offer some fantastic sets of headphones both bud/wireless and over the ear, but these Crusher ANC 2 Sensory Bass headphones offer both excellent sonics whilst delivering on bold colours and an seriously cool eye catching design in the shape of their new Acid Snow Camo collection. The headband, ear cups and on-ear controls are adorned in three exciting new colour ways – khaki green, grey and lilac.

Play it!

A huge part of Christmas festivities is playing games and what else should music lovers play than these fab music trump cards that have been exquisitely designed by artist Casey Raymond. Choose from sets such as Indie Sleaze, punk, britpop and more. These cards are excellently designed thanks to its beautiful artwork, but also offer an insightful learning experience whilst having fun at the same time. 

Read it!

There have been so many incredible music books out this year, but two of our favourites have to be from Sir Paul McCartney whose epic photographic book 1964: Eyes of the Storm has enchanted Beatles fans all over the world.

The book, which is an impressive collection of Paul’s photos from the early years of his time in The Beatles, has also been captured in his fascinating exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery perfectly encapsulates what life was like as a Beatle during that pivotal time as Beatlemania took hold in the early sixties.

We also love the photographic offering from the master of guitar playing himself, Mr Johnny Marr who has just released a beautiful coffee table style book ‘Marr’s Guitars’ which is a stunning photographic presentation of the guitars that have defined his distinctive sound and style which will be a brilliant gift for any music lovers for Christmas and beyond. 


Spin it!

Every music fan will be absolutely delighted to find a new record or two under the Christmas tree this year. Whether you favour one of the fantastic new albums from 2023 such as blur’s ‘The Ballad of Darren’, Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now’ or perhaps Noel Gallagher’s ‘Council Skies’ or even updating your collection with a seminal classic from the last five decades, look no further than Norman Records who sell an impressive myriad of vinyl records, including some exciting special editions which will certainly excite music lovers all over the world.

Interpret it!

One for the spiritual music lovers out there! If they love all things tarot then this fantastic set of tarot cards is an absolute must! 

Tune into your inner wisdom with this unique tarot deck inspired by cult music icons. Inside you’ll find musicians who perfectly encapsulate the tarot card meanings with musicians such as Prince, Blondie, Tupac all leading the way.  

The 78 cards work as a fully functional tarot deck, and the kit also includes a booklet with more information about the musicians, as well as information on how to interpret the cards and conduct your own reading.

Mix it!


If your favourite person’s favourite thing is to DJ, then why not help them get ahead with these TMA-2 DJ XE headphones from AIAIAI which are ideal for DJ’s on the go as they are both lightweight and modular but do not compromise on sound. They are well built, modular whilst providing a stellar sonic experience.

Whilst they have been designed for DJ’s in mind, they are also good for musicians as their high quality audio deliverance means they are just as useful for embarking on music creation in the studio, but also make a pretty stellar gift for music lovers who pride themselves on having a more sophisticated piece of kit when listening to their favourite mixes.

From Harry Potter fever to the hottest day of the year (ever!), 2003 was chock-full of some pretty unforgettable moments. But, it was also a year of fantastic music with some incredible albums which included ‘Silence Is Easy’ the second studio album by Starsailor.

It’s almost unfathomable to believe that this album is now twenty (yes twenty!) years old and like its predecessor, the band’s debut album, ‘Love is Here’, it achieved a consecutive number two in the UK album charts receiving both commercial success along with critical acclaim.

A perennial favourite of mine from the Starsailor back catalogue, when it was announced that the band were celebrating this landmark achievement with a dedicated tour to commemorate the album, I was frankly all in.

The band’s sophomore effort was a further case in point demonstrating how the songs have stood the test of time and that with the lavish arrangements (on record) along with frontman James Walsh’s emotive and crystal-clear vocals made it one of the most endearing records of the early noughties.

Fast forward to a rainy night in Southampton, where a sold-out crowd were ready to be transported back twenty years to hear the album’s songs, track by track. The band were supported by The Gleeman who served up his own rendition of Americana folk and the brilliant indie-rock singer Ed Cosens whose voice was on top form.

James, Ben Byrne (drums), Barry Westhead (keys) and James Stelfox on bass, kicked off proceedings with track 1 of this seminal album ‘Music was Saved’ which really hit the mark and was infinitely timely with the lyric ‘Oh my friends, we landed in December’.

There is no weakest link in Starsailor, with all four band members showcasing their musical pedigree which included some fantastic bass lines from James Stelfox. Music was indeed saved and we can all say thank you for that.

Navigating through the album chronologically was a reminder of the gift of listening to an album in its entirety. As a huge lover of vinyl records, when I am at home this is how I traditionally listen to music, but when out and about, I am first to admit that I might have a cheeky shuffle or indeed indulge in a playlist or two.

The band then performed ‘Fidelity’ and ‘Some Of Us’, both of which delighted the crowd and then segued into the titular track ‘Silence Is Easy’ which is a perennial fan favourite and had the crowd singing along in unison. 

Standouts included the Bowie-esque ‘White Dove’, the brilliant ‘Shark Food’ which is one of their best tracks (in my opinion) as it really showcases the band’s quality. It’s also one of the lesser-played Starsailor songs played live with the band only performing it in full no less than 16 times since its debut in 2003. ‘We’re stepping through the door, we’re shooting from the heart’ sings James Walsh, ‘If we get it wrong, they’ll feed us to the sharks’.

Naturally, as you would fully expect Starsailor did not put one foot wrong throughout their set which included a beautiful version of ‘Born Again’ and a rousing rendition of the emphatic ‘Four to the Floor’.

Part one of their jam-packed set was ‘Silence Is Easy’s album closer ‘Restless Heart’ which was performed entirely acoustically by James Walsh.

What could we expect from part two? Well, a carefully-curated selection of Starsailor’s most-loved hits from their impressive back catalogue of course!

From the impassioned ‘Tell Me It’s Not Over’ to the exquisite ‘Lullaby’, no stones were overturned with a sonic navigation around some of their biggest hits which also included ‘Alcoholic’ and ‘Poor Misguided Fool’

There was also an opportunity to hear their new track, the fantastic ‘Heavyweight’ which had a real Beatles vibe which was elevated by James Walsh’s powerful vocals.

The tender ‘Tie Up My Hands’ was a welcome addition to the set list which was ended superbly by the wonderful ‘Good Souls’ with its anthemic brilliance and top-notch lyrics, still feels like it would be a massive hit today.

Whilst this was a tour firmly nestled in nostalgia, Starsailor are indeed paying homage to the past whilst keeping their eyes set on a (continuously) golden future and evidently have so much more to offer as we glide into 2024.

Photo Credit: Joe Flanagan

On a rainy night in London, four guys from Staines lit up the stage of the Troxy in East London. This was always going to be a special gig and the sold-out crowd were ready for this highly-anticipated set from Hard-Fi.

The band had been on hiatus for almost a decade and played a one-off gig at the 02 Kentish Forum last year followed by their only festival appearance in the UK this year at Victorious Festival. Hard-Fi are no strangers to selling out venues, and have historically sold out five consecutive nights at Brixton Academy.

As always, their set starts with a harmonica playing the evocative Once Upon A Time In The West by Ennio Morricone which echoes around The Troxy – an Grade II-listed Art Deco building that is positively resplendent.

It’s the moment we have all been waiting for – Hard-Fi are here and they kick off with the familiar notes of the rousing ‘Middle Eastern Holiday’ from their critically-acclaimed album ‘Stars Of CCTV’ which was one of their most political tracks on their groundbreaking 2005 album which was nominated for a Mercury Music Prize and sold over a million copies.

Richard, Ross, Steve and Kai are on fire and execute every track magnificently, delivering slam dunk renditions of tracks from the aforementioned ‘Stars of CCTV’, but also tracks from their sophomore album ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ and 2011’s ‘Killer Sounds’.

Richard Archer and Hard-Fi perform at the Troxy London. Photo Credit: Simon Reed
Richard Archer and Hard-Fi perform at the Troxy London. Photo Credit: Simon Reed

It was great to see three tracks from the sublime ‘Killer Sounds’ on the set list, ‘Good For Nothing’, ‘Fire In The House’ and the epic ‘Stay Alive’ which were absolutely fantastic.

‘Watch Me Fall Apart’ with Richard on shared vocals by Bruce Breakey (who is one half of alternative indie duo ‘Good Health Good Wealth’) delivered an impassioned and mesmerising performance which showcased Bruce’s fantastic stage presence.

Richard and Bruce delivered a dynamic, intense and emotional rendition of what is one of the best tracks on ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’.

As well as a much-needed nostalgia trip into both classic and deep cuts in the Hard-Fi back catalogue, the band also debuted a brand-new track ‘Always and Forever’ which is chock-full of twangy guitars and even sees frontman Richard Archer picking up his six-string to this rousing and anthemic track.

Hard-Fi perform at the Troxy in London. Photo Credit: Simon Reed
Hard-Fi perform at the Troxy in London. Photo Credit: Simon Reed

He also breaks out his trusty melodica to drive the unique sound that kicks off two of the classics: ‘Cash Machine’ and ”Better Do Better. The former track which was on ‘Stars of CCTV’ still feels as relevant today than it ever did with lyrics like ‘I scratch a living, it ain’t easy / You know it’s a drag/ I’m always paying, never make it’ and the band plays with an almost ferocity which is felt by the crowd who sing it back to the band.

One of the best things about Hard-Fi is that they are all compelling and talented musicians in their own right, but collectively they create a really compelling music alchemy.

Richard Archer, frontman and sometime guitarist had charisma in abundance and conveys his disbelief that over 3000 hard core Hard-Fi fans have made the journey to watch them perform. He seems pretty moved and tells the enraptured crowd that it blows their mind that they are able to do this twenty years on and that we don’t know what it means to him and the rest of the band.

Hard-Fi play to a sold-out crowd at the Troxy in London. Photo Credit: Simon Reed
Hard-Fi play to a sold-out crowd at the Troxy in London. Photo Credit: Simon Reed

The emotion is felt, especially with the encore which consists of the excellent ‘Move On Now’ the titular track to their stunning debut and of course as it was a Saturday night ‘Living For The Weekend’ which closed the show.

From the superb ‘Suburban Knights’ which sees some serious audience participation from the crowd to the joyous and brilliant ‘Hard to Beat’ which saw the energy levels reach unsurpassed levels of delight, the set was an absolute triumph and the band executed a truly energetic and exemplary performance.

At one point throughout the energetic set, Richard asks the crowd: “So London, do we still have it?” and the unequivocal answer is a definitive yes! Hard-Fi have always had it, but on a rain-soaked night in London, they reminded everyone of their musical prowess and not only what an impressive back catalogue they have, but how incredible they are as live performances.

Richard Archer declared that he promises that next time the wait won’t be so long and after such a momentous display, we can’t help but think that we will be seeing Hard-Fi perform again very soon.

Photo Credit: Simon Reed

The vibrant culture scene in Cleveland is a hidden gem even to discerning Americans from other states. Cleveland has been an industrial hub for growth in the 19th and 20th centuries due to its proximity to natural resources like iron and oil. It is also very well connected by rail and water routes, which aided in the city’s growth.

John D. Rockefeller, widely regarded as the wealthiest American of all time, settled in Cleveland. The city was the richest in the world during the Gilded Age. These industrialists poured their wealth into cultural philanthropic endeavours, which is the reason for the thriving arts and entertainment scene in Cleveland.

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Top of the list for music lovers to visit is the rock hall. If you think the pyramid structure looks familiar, it is because it was designed by I.M. Pei, who famously designed the Louvre Museum.

The number of artists on display is breathtaking. Where else will you see Dolly Parton and Tupac Shakur in the same exhibition? Dolly famously wanted to withdraw herself from becoming an inductee in 2022 because she did not consider herself a rock artist. However, the hall responded by saying “Rock and roll has had deep roots in rhythm & blues and country music.”

They currently have a Hip Hop at 50 exhibition. Apart from fascinating memorabilia like LL Cool J’s signature four-finger ring, you’ll also learn about how hip-hop became a groundbreaking cultural phenomenon through the decades.

The visit is also a very immersive experience. You can stand beneath the Pink Floyd tour replica of The Wall. It was designed to mirror the Berlin performance of July 21, 1990.

The Garage on level 2 is where you can evoke the great rock bands of the past. You can jam with real instruments, be it drums, guitar, bass and keyboards. They have dedicated practice stations which will have video prompts to help you create your masterpiece.

Severance Music Center

Countless music lovers have voted Severance Hall as the most beautiful concert hall in the world. The mainly Art Deco design along with elements of Egyptian revival adds to a sense of Gilded Age grandeur.

It is home to the Cleveland Orchestra, informally part of the “Big Five” in the United States. The acoustics have been drastically improved since it first opened in 1931. Whilst the main focus is on classical music, they do offer more relaxed performances such as Amadeus Live. The full film is shown with live orchestral underscore.

They also run community programs that include free annual neighbourhood concerts. And they have a particularly dynamic musical program that celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cleveland Museum of Art

The breadth and quality of the exhibits at this museum rival the very best of museums from capital cities of the world. Their sparkling 39,000-square-foot atrium has been featured in films like ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’.

In times of considerable global tensions, they’ve managed to curate a blockbuster Chinese art exhibition. China’s Southern Paradise: Treasures from the Lower Yangzi Delta have secured priceless artefacts from leading Chinese institutions.

There are numerous masterpieces on display including The Crucifixion of Saint Andrew by Caravaggio and The Burning of the Houses of Parliament by J.M.W. Turner. However, they particularly excel in their collection of Asian and African art.

In recent years, they’ve engaged with modern technology through their ARTLENS Gallery and app. You can create your own digital artwork with ArtLens Studio. The app allows you to interact with every artwork on display in the galleries and find more information about it. Everything that is viewed is saved on the app, so you can revisit the masterpieces even when you’ve returned home.

Cleveland History Center

There is no better place to learn about the importance of Cleveland than at this museum. The array of antique automobiles might be a surprise to some. Although Cleveland was a major automobile manufacturing hub until Henry Ford perfected assembly line production of cars in Michigan.

The antique planes are equally impressive. Northeast Ohio had one of the busiest and largest airports in the world throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The legendary National Air Races took place on the shores of Lake Erie for 20 innovative years until an unfortunate crash took place in 1949.

Currently, they have a Fashion After Dark temporary exhibition which explores the fashion styles of Clevelanders from the 19th century and beyond. With the adoption of gaslight and electricity in the 19th century, evening wear rose in prominence. Expect to see sparkling sequins, flowing silks and dazzling gemstones. It is the first time an exhibition has taken place in the period building that is The Hay-McKinney Mansion.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

If you are looking for progressive, modern art, this is the place to be. They are not a traditional art collecting museum. They are all about giving a voice to contemporary artists. Since its founding in 1968, they’ve worked with more than 2,000 artists. Often, it is the artist’s first solo show.

They currently have a fascinating exhibition, Don’t mind if I do. It takes the Japanese sushi conveyor belt concept (Kaitenzushi) but puts artwork instead of sushi on rotation. It is all about making artwork more accessible especially for people with access needs. It is about engaging with the artwork and touching all the objects.

They have regular workshops to engage with visitors such as a Day of the Dead workshop and a Pom-Pom workshop.

Flats East Bank Entertainment District

The gentrification of Cleveland is none more evident than in this district. What was once a series of abandoned warehouses has turned into a hub of cutting-edge restaurants, new hotels and residential apartments.

It has brought a hive of activity to the waterfront with the Greater Cleveland Aquarium and the general Nautica Entertainment Complex. It is a shining example of why Cleveland continues to captivate visitors with their countless cultural offerings.

Factbox

Downtown hotels start at around $150 per night.

Travellers can now fly direct to Cleveland from Dublin with Aer Lingus. The flight launched in May 2023 and operates four times a week, with connections from London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Passengers can carry out their pre-clearance in Dublin so that, on arrival at Cleveland airport, they can avoid immigration queues, quickly collect their luggage and start their Cleveland experience immediately.

For more information on flights, please visit –

https://www.aerlingus.com/

For more information on the region, please visit –

https://www.thisiscleveland.com/

One of the most anticipated gigs of the European festival calendar, the Lucca Summer Festival has a pedigree in attracting international talent to perform at this critically-acclaimed music event in the pretty city of Lucca.

As the blazing hot sun set over the famed city walls, blur emerged to a rapturous crowd and kicked off their vibrant and expansive set with a blistering rendition of the utterly sublime ‘St Charles Square’ taken from their new number one album ‘The Ballad Of Darren’.

Despite it being a relatively new track, thousands of the enthralled fans sung along to those now immortal lines ‘I fucked up / I’m not the first to do it’.

This then segued into the shimmering grooves of ‘There’s No Other Way’, their breakthrough hit from 1991’s ‘Leisure’ which was a kaleidoscopic swirl of youthful exuberance which still resonates with the same vivacity over 31 years later.

This was swiftly followed by a frenetic ‘Popscene’, the punchy ‘Tracy Jacks’ and ‘Beetlebum’ with its iconic metronomic riffs executed perfectly from the masterful Graham Coxon.

His kaleidoscopic guitars have always elevated blur’s sound alongside impeccable bass playing from the ever-jovial Alex James and the thunderous drums from Dave Rowntree.

Ever a charismatic frontman and fantastic songwriter, Damon Albarn’s passion and energy was evident and he played a huge part in whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

Photo Credit:  Frances Coprandoni
Photo Credit: Frances Coprandoni

This was undoubtedly a nostalgic look back at their illustrious back catalogue, which was an impeccable highlight reel of their illustrious career from the transcendental ‘This is A Low’ to the luscious art-pop magic of ‘The Universal’.

But, it was also an opportunity for the four-piece to effortlessly showcase tracks from their new album ‘The Ballad of Darren’.

Despite being new material, the songs from ‘Darren’ are set to be deft masterpieces with standout tracks like ‘The Narcissist’ and ‘Barbaric’ thrilling the crowd.

This was an electrifying and assured performance from the quartet and their enduring and endearing friendship was evident.

In ‘Tender’, Damon showed pure emotion and gave a vital and hypnotic performance, whilst in ‘Parklife’ and ‘Girls & Boys’, Damon in the former channelled the iconic Phil Daniels’ and delivered his iconic monologue with his own charm and swagger whilst donning his original Fila tracksuit from the Girls and Boys music video for the latter.

Photo Credit:  Frances Coprandoni
Photo Credit: Frances Coprandoni

After a triumphant and transcendent  set, blur closed with a spine tingling and captivating rendition of the beautiful and elegiac ‘The Universal’ which is one of blur’s finest tracks. Passionate, powerful and assured, this was blur at their very best.

Yes – it really, really, really did happen and blur’s performance at Lucca was an absolute masterclass and celebration of the band’s legacy.

Photo Credit:  Frances Coprandoni