When the weekend or your much-awaited day off arrives, it can be difficult to find things to do with this spare time that are truly memorable. If you’re a lover of music and you live in a small town in the middle of nowhere, you’re going to have to travel to get to gigs, but for those living in the bustling city of London, you’re pretty much spoiled for choice with the sheer quantity of events going on all the time. If you so happen to be so inclined as to be into rock music that’s heavy on the guitar and occasionally heavy on the heavy guitar, then you’re guaranteed to find at least one show per week to keep you entertained. Gigs are happening all over the place in London’s huge choice of legendary and up-and-coming venues. To help keep you up to date, below are just a fraction of the gigs that you can fill your time with in London, with mini-reviews of these music artists to allow you to make an executive decision on whether or not to attend. These gigs are by no means in order of rank, but are simply intended as a point of reference and brief bit of background info on the what and who of London’s guitar-centric music scene.
Cass McCombs – Queen Elizabeth Hall, January 13th
An artist with quite the unusual approach to music and his lifestyle in general, Cass McCombs tends to be shrouded in quite a bit of mystery. His approach to life appears to one of transience in that he frequently moves around and lives in new places, rarely giving interviews or information out about current or upcoming songs. McCombs is a Californian singer and songwriter whose style fits comfortably in the genre of folk, though not constrained by the often overly-simplistic nature of this style of music. His show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall was electrifying in content, mixing country rock, folk, and soul with attention paid to varying tempos transitioning smoothly as the set progressed. The protective cases for the (temporary) band’s equipment were a focal point, displayed on stage draped in spot as if to highlight the transient nature of both McCombs and his band in a statement that says “we’re not here for long; we aren’t anywhere for long”.
City and Colour – Hammersmith Apollo, January 31st
Singer songwriter Dallas Green has come quite a long way since his days as the frontman of Alexisonfire. His cleverly-named project City and Colour is a stark contrast to the high-volume, fast-paced post-hardcore music he used to pen in the aforementioned band. City and Colour specialises in acceptable volume, folk-like and acoustic music. A particular highlight will always be Save Your Scissors, a song with a heavy acoustic guitar presence and a descending melody driven by the strumming of a wonderful chord progression underneath. Green has won multiple Juno awards under his recording name City and Colour and is an artist worth seeing live.
Phoenix – O2 Academy Brixton, February 5th
Phoenix have been around for quite some time and hail from Versailles, France. They can be described as alternative rock but their talent for songwriting is far beyond that of your average band of this genre. Their relatively recent success will be known to many through the single 1901, though Lisztomania, Armistice, and Entertainment will hopefully be the highlights of their Brixton show.
Manic Street Preachers – O2 Academy Brixton, April 11th & 12th
One of the few bands out there requiring two London dates to sufficiently satisfy demand for their livep performances, Welsh rock legends Manic Street Preachers will be pleasing fans with a mixture of material, both old and new. It would be surprising if you didn’t hear classics like Motorcycle Emptiness and Ocean Spray, but expect some new tracks from their recent album and some unheard ones as they dip into new material which they have announced will appear on their new album.
Korn – O2 Academy Brixton, May 2nd
Anyone dedicated enough to the band to know their name obviously won’t require an introduction or summary of this band, and those that aren’t familiar aren’t likely to find a new love for their unique style of nu-metal that leans on the heavier side of both nu and metal. Korn fans will likely be going for the classics like Freak on a Leash and Blind, but apparently these fellows have made new material since then, occasionally venturing into electronic pastures with the famous and (for some) infamous likes of wub-step producer Skrillex.