FOXES @ THE ACADEMY – 24/10/15

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AFTER receiving a Grammy for her vocals on Zedd’s 2013 dance smash ‘Clarity’, Foxes has gone on to achieve success as an artist in her own right. ‘Glorious’, her debut album released in May 2014, featured chart topping singles including ‘Youth’, ‘Holding Onto Heaven’ and ‘Let Go For Tonight’, cementing her as a regular feature of Radio 1’s playlist. Prior to the release of her second album, ‘All I Need’, Foxes has embarked on a headline tour around the UK, with support from the immensely talented Izzy Bizu. Tonight, it’s Manchester‘s chance to party with the hit maker.

Izzy Bizu was all smiles as she joined her band on stage to perform her support set at 8.15pm. The singer songwriter from South London kept it simple, enveloping the Club Academy audience in her soulful vocals. Opening with ‘Adam & Eve’, Izzy had everyone swaying along almost immediately. The basement level venue could have been an American jazz club as she introduced ‘Diamonds’ to a roar from the crowd, encouraging them to “jam with me”. The effortless energy of ‘Give Me Love’ contrasted with the following powerful cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Tears Dry On Their Own’, showcased her beautiful voice and ensured she had the entire room’s attention. Izzy maintained a relaxed and cool atmosphere whilst admitting she was “scared to knock over my glass of wine”. After singing ‘Mad Behaviour’, the 21 year old finished with the upbeat feel good single ‘White Tiger’, released earlier this month. By the reception Izzy has had tonight in Manchester, its certain she’ll go on to enjoy further success and recognition next year.

Approximately thirty minutes after the support finished, The Academy was hit with an explosion of light and colour, as Foxes burst onto the stage to a roar from the capacity crowd, “Manchester!” The 26 year old immediately lit up the atmosphere with the favourite ‘Holding Onto Heaven’, followed by ‘Youth’, another single off her debut album ‘Glorious’ to make the top 20 in the UK. Her unmistakeable stage presence continued to encourage the crowd to dance along with her, shouting “you know the words!” Foxes maintained all attention as she treated the audience to tracks off her forthcoming album, ‘All I Need’, these included the already successful ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me Now’, ‘Amazing’ and the title track – ‘All I Need’. Despite some not having heard these before, the crowd didn’t seem to mind, as all 3 held Foxes’ trademark fun sound. Her 6th song of the night was a cool cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’ mixed with Years and Years’ ‘Shine’, which she previously played in Radio 1’s Live Lounge back in July.

Foxes’ unstoppable energy was dispersed throughout the crowd as she had everyone moving to ‘Glorious’ before insisting “sing as loud as you can” to the first single off the new album, ‘Body Talk’. Foxes was clearly impressed by her fans’ moves, shouting “Manchester, you can dance!”

It’s easy to forget that this is only her second UK headline tour. Talking to her adoring fans, she thanked everyone for their support, “It’s still really weird people come and watch me play, It’s mad!” Dedicated to those who “had been there from the beginning”, she began to play a medley of some of her earliest records, including an emotional performance of ‘Count The Saints’ and ‘White Coats’.

Foxes bounced back into the world of dance with a “very special” song that won her a Grammy, “I hope you all have drinks in your hands!” ‘Clarity’ had the packed venue clapping and singing at the top of their voices, leading Foxes to remove her ear piece so she could join in.

The singer songwriter finished with her most recent single ‘Better Love’, which currently features on Radio 1’s ‘A Playlist’, followed by the pop smash ‘Let Go For Tonight’, a crowd favourite which concluded the set perfectly.

 

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JACK SAVORETTI @ THE RITZ – 20/10/15

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AFTER a triumphant return to music, the release of ‘Written In Scars’ earlier this year left Jack Savoretti fans eager for a chance to hear the songwriter’s soul soaked vocals live. The first of the 32 year olds records to be released by a major label, BMG Chrysalis, the album boasts lyrics which have their roots in a feeling of defiance, and triumph over difficulty, a poignant reminder of Savoretti’s battle with the music industry. October sees Jack and his band play seven sold out shows across the UK, and tonight it’s Manchester’s turn to host the Italian English talent.

At 7.45pm, the Ritz welcomed Max Jury on stage. The American, fresh from supporting Circa Waves at the Q Awards the previous evening, enjoyed a round of applause as he sat down at his keyboard to sing. Opening with ‘All I want’, Max’s relaxing vocals contrasted the buzz of the crowd, and the single spotlight on stage reflected the beautiful simplicity of his forthcoming set. The end of each song was met with applause from the audience, as Jury joined in with the growing anticipation for the headline act, admitting that it was “a treat being on tour with Jack”. Prior to performing the tune ‘Black Metal’, Max told the audience the origins of the song, and how it was about an unsuccessful date he went on with a girl. Before closing with ‘Home’, Jury told the crowd he would be available for a chat at the back of the venue as he was selling copies of his CD, a reminder of the personal relationship independent artists can have with their fans.

Jack Savoretti and his band burst on to the stage at 8.45pm with an eruption of Spanish style guitar, as the singer welcomed the crowd to the party. The energy was felt immediately, as he opened his set with the single ‘Written in Scars’, which had the audience bopping along to the beat. The intimacy of the venue, although at capacity, lent itself to Savoretti’s relaxed style of performance. The following tracks ‘Back to me’ and ‘Fight ‘Til the End’ had everyone clapping and singing along, before Jack introduced ‘Breaking the Rules’, released in 2012. He continued to thank the Manchester fans after each song, “You don’t know how much this means” and repeatedly expressed his love for the city, admitting that it’s his “second home in the UK”.

Jack’s refreshing approach to live performance demonstrated a genuine love for music. His energy was unmistakeable whilst sustaining an immense stage presence, diving into the anthemic ‘Home’ which is due to be released as a single in the future. Savoretti’s husky vocals sailed through a cover of Bob Dylan’s unreleased ‘Nothing ‘Cept You’. Jack put down his guitar for this track and let his voice take centre stage. He explained how he discovered the song whilst writing his second album, ‘Harder than Easy’, and how it kept him going through the toughest times. The emotive lyrics coupled with Savoretti’s remarkable voice had the Ritz silent as the notes echoed around the venue.

Although most phones were in pockets, a rarity at most gigs nowadays, Savoretti addressed those who were filming their favourite songs, jokingly stating “It like talking to witness protection!” The band continued to have the audience dancing, with crowd favourites ‘The Other Side of Love’, ‘For the Last Time’ and ‘Tie Me Down’ – the first single to be released from ‘Written in Scars’ and one which many, according to Jack, think is based on 50 Shades of Grey.

The band left the stage to roaring applause and cheers as the crowd demanded more, “We want Jack! We want Jack!” After a quick pause, they returned to perform two final songs. The band took different roles for ‘Dreamers’ from Savoretti’s debut album, ‘Between the minds‘. It was evident throughout the gig that the band had a close relationship, and as Savoretti introduced each member to the audience at the end of the night, this was confirmed. “My Irish lucky charm… the best drummer I ever met… a fine English gentleman on keys… and one of my oldest friends on guitar”.

Savoretti finished with an energetic performance of the single ‘Back Where I Belong’, leaving the crowd buzzing and surely eager to return next time he visits Manchester.