Just for the shits ‘n gigs.


Frequent gig go-er, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Oh yeah, I mean the music not the band.

Here’s a few of the sickest bands I’ve seen live:


  1. Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

arctic monkeysSheffield lads, Arctic Monkeys, brought the heart of the soul of the north to the country’s capital. Oh, and it’s weather too. Playing to over 45,000 people, Alex Turner was in his element and was able to be his normal smug self. Given a helping hand by Royal Blood, self-obsessed Miles Kane and Tame Impala, the Yorkshire lads didn’t have to worry about crowd pleasers.

Testosterone levels went sky high when Miles Kane and his Daz white pants took to the stage. When the crowd got a sniff of Don’t forget who you are, every lad locked their arms round one another and belted out the words. As for the girls?  they were either silent or utterly gob-smacked. Either way, Miles Kane is still a wolly.

50 year old dads, sixteen year old girls and ‘proper’ lads paid their respects for Arctic Monkeys and Finsbury Park was transformed into a hub of energy. As a reward for arriving nearly six hours early, we managed to grab a decent spot in the ‘pit’ and refused to move even an inch. Literally. Well, until Alex Turner graced the stage like God. Pfft, he likes to think he is.

Stumbling onto the stage half-cut, Alex Turner grunted a few words and the crowd went mental. Suddenly, everything stepped up a notch. It went from civilised to complete pandemonium in a matter of seconds. Drenched by flying cups of piss, consumed by lethal mosh pits and lads off their nuts on pills offering their shoulders. I’m still haunted by the 100kg giant who came flying towards me. Totally k’od.

Ignoring Alex Turner and his boastful and brash ways, Arctic Monkeys put on a hell of a show. Plunging into the past, the lads went back to their roots and revisited their most-loved and couldn’t-give-a-fuck album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

Nostalgic tunes, Fake Tales of San Francisco and Dancing Shoes transported the crowd back to their youthful days. The days when this album was your jam for the bus ride home from school. Spoilt by their old tunes, the indie boys didn’t play Mardy Bum – screwing. A conscious effort no doubt.

As a promotional stunt, the band used the sell-out event to showcase their new album, AM, which had just been released. A new take on their previous albums, the lads veered away from their black skinny’s, mop-head and battered vans days but kept their couldn’t-give-a-shit etiquette.

R U Mine, which exploits love, sex and and its fuckery was well executed and received well by the crowd. Well, not like anyone was sober enough to appreciate the lyrics at this point in the night.

Long after the show finished, self-confessed Arctic Monkey fans decorated the streets and never-ending queues for the tube, belting out the bangers.

Although drenched in piss and whatever other substances lined the cups, the memories of that gig will last forever.



2. Bombay Bicycle Club, Manchester Academy2

bombay bicycle club

Like a bombay mix, you’ve never exactly know what you’re going to get with Bombay Bicycle Club. You just know it’ll be good stuff. Moreish – you’ll always want to keep coming back for more – sad thing is their tours are few and far between.

After the long-awaited album, So Long, See You Tomorrow ripped the seams, Bombay announced their tour and the internet was in turmoil. The quirky quartet were now back on the scene with a completely different, fresh and far eastern sound, inspired by front man, Jack Steadman’s travels around India.

Visually, Bombay’s set was second to none. Forget strobe lighting, a static overhead projection and budget smoke machines – that’s too amateur for Bombay. Think, industrial confetti canons, astrological graphics and psychedelic lighting.  You’d be finding remnants of the gig for weeks later in the shower.

Eagerly anticipated by an eclectic crowd, the Crouch End lads took to the stage and Manchester Academy’s roof went off. As always, the indie lads kept their cards close to their chest and opened their set with the progressive track Overdone to cement the tone. Safe to say, they did more than that.

The album’s experimental tracks and kaleidoscopic visual effects coupled with Jack Steadman’s mesmerising voice, it felt like you were trippin’ the whole time. It was so weird.

As expected, the best was saved till last. Luna, Bombay’s catchiest, indie-dance fused and flavoursome tune which is overlaid with a mis-match of sounds. Everyone’s possessions were flung to one side and the whole room turned into a colossal mosh pit. It was sick.

Boys, as always, you smashed it.


3. Nick Mulvey, Albert Hall.

nick-mulveyNick Mulvey – an almost religious experience. Snug in an ornate chapel, surrounded by stain glass windows,  colossal pipe organs and intricately decorated ceilings. An intimate gig – a different kind of intimacy. Not the type of gig where having some sweaty sixteen year old girls hair in your mouth or feeling as though you are third-wheeling with the couple in front.

Indie- Folk singer, Nick Mulvey, from Cambridge is an unpretentious singer whose gigs are very rarely described as a show. Mesmerised by his unique voice and his exceptional skills on the guitar, Mulvey always manages to keep you hooked for the entirety of the set. Everyone in the crowd seemed to be there for the same things and no-one had any expectations.

Out of nowhere, Mulvey pulled out an acoustic cover of Gillian Welch’s Look at Miss Ohio, a song which has been stuck in my head ever since. A truly stunning song which Mulvey executed beautifully.

We’ve all heard Arctic Monkey’s rendition of Drake’s Hold on, We’re Going Home, which don’t get me wrong is a first-class cover, but I must admit nothing on Mulvey’s. Whether it was his spontaneous decision to dip into a completely different genre or the way he accentuated every single word in the song – it was something quite remarkable.

Bringing the set to a close with an absolute belter – Mulvey’s ‘Nitrous’ X Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’. A 90’s delight.

The Mad Grad.



Sheffield – post student days.

Gone are the days of Corp’s paint-stripper purple pints, Plug’s cringe-worthy playlists and the down-right ugly nights at Embrace. The pencil-thin eyebrows, a shade-too-dark eye shadow (we weren’t lucky enough to be blessed with Naked palettes back then) and dire haircuts. Shoddy pairs of converse, leather skirts and over-sized white shirts. The fresher stage was far from elegant.

me and scouse freshers

As much as I cringe now, I’d relive my days as a student all over again and I wouldn’t change a thing. Not one thing. I’d embrace the mullet hair-d0, the dotted UV face paint and the near death experience lectures that followed a night at Corp.

I’d even attend the hilarious flat parties. The type which attracted all-sorts; tea leaves who would come just to rob your Tesco Value vodka, weirdo’s who would make a beeline for you and latch onto you the whole night and that one kid who would chew your ear off about something you couldn’t be less interested in.

halloweenThose were the days, but I suppose you can’t hold onto your student days forever.

As a Graduate, nights out in Sheffield aren’t the same, in fact they couldn’t be more different. On a typical night out, there doesn’t tend to be any projectile vomit or search parties sent out to find missing friends. Tend being the imperative word there. However, the greasy food that proceeds a heavy night of drinking, the drunk conversations with Sheffield’s taxi men and the shoeless walk from the taxi to the front door still stands. Some things will never change, well not yet anyway.

Corp’s deathly concoctions have been replaced with sophisticated cocktails, pairs of Converse have been swapped for heels and clubs have been traded in for quirky pubs. Eager to stay in touch with our youthful side, but staying clear of student-ridden clubs and annoying freshers, we’ve managed to sift out Sheffield trustiest sites which always manage to cure our post-student days blues.


  1. West Street Live (aka, WSL)

Whether it’s a cold, wet Monday night or a night on the weekend, WSL is almost always packed out to the rafters. You can always guarantee that Tina Turner’s Proud Mary or Nelly’s Ignition will be blasted through the speakers and you’ll be leaving with a sore throat for the morning. Just when you thought dirty pints were bad, WSL has its fair share of weird and wonderful mash-ups, which are often served by Sheffield’s own version of Noel Fielding. Chuck Norris or Schit bomb, they’ve got a name for them all. With your average drink costing literal pennies, there’s no surprise it’s our favourite go to – even if we’ve got a little bit more money now. That’s what I call budgeting skills.

2. Bierkeller

Bierkeller; the pub of all pubs. The Bavarian -themed cellar bar, which is furnished with antique wooden benches and tables, feels proper authentic. As the waitresses are kitted out in traditional Bavarian attire and the chalkboard drinks list is inscribed in German, it’s hard to imagine you’ve just walked off one of Sheffield’s busiest streets. In the words of Lionel Richie, you often find yourself practically dancing on the ceiling as you bust your moves on the saturated wooden benches – it’s kind of weird.

Although initially expensive, at around 9 quid a pop, the stein cocktails are actually a pretty good deal (but perhaps a little bit too easy to drink). Oh, just as a head’s up, after a night in the ‘keller your hand will kill the next day from holding such a heavy drink. A banging playlist coupled with spiffing steins, Bierkeller sure gives you a night to remember.

3. Wick at Both Ends
Sophisticated and extortionate cocktail prices – the Wick is the place to go when you’ve got a few quid. Often saved till after pay day, it’s the ideal spot for an overdue chin-wag and overindulgence – well, you’ve got to treat yourself one way or another. A proper chilled vibe and perfect lighting, you could sit there for hours on end and have no intention of moving. Free from irritating freshers and rowdy men, it’s a nice place to get your glad rags on and enjoy the company of friends you haven’t seen in a while.
Sheffield, it’s always a pleasure.
The Mad Grad.














Y aye man, Little Comets were sick!

Location: Starbucks, Liverpool One.


Espresso coffees, broadcast newspapers and shiny shoes decorate Liverpool’s streets this morning, as people go about their daily commutes. You can tell it’s Monday.

Liverpool looks very different to the way it did last night. Last night, Liverpool’s O2 – a proper grungy, underground venue – was on fire.

Packed out with Fred Perry shirts, denim dungarees and shell-suits, it was like a scene out of This is England. Littered with students; lads wasted after about three pints, girls downing pints of cider and morons out of it on drugs – did they know they were at a Little Comets gig?

Hippo Campus, an indie-pop band from Minnesota, supported Little Comets and did a pretty good job, I must say. They did a cracking job at warming up the crowd and set the tone for the rest of the night.

Often described as ‘kitchen sink indie’, Little Comets don’t beat about the bush with their music – the lads say it how it is. Coupled with the feel-good, hip-swinging, indie disco sound, the trio are pro’s at creating an energy that connects the crowd and gets them singing their hearts out – even if the majority make up the words.

Similar to Alt-J, an indie-rock band from Leeds, their lyrics are well-thought out and practically impossible to remember – but that’s all part of it – you take from the song what you want.

Only a short set, the lads made the most of every minute and didn’t waste any time with pointless chit chat. Saying that, some conversation would’ve been nice.

little-comets.JPGThe gig followed a natural crescendo, starting with their slowest and mellow songs and ending with their absolute banger – Dancing song. I’ve never seen a crowd react so fast. The lights went up and the roof went off.

Almost pitch perfect, the lads voices carried well and bounced off every wall. I’ve been to my fair share of gigs – too many to count – but Little Comets definitely sounded the best live.

After waiting all night to hear Bayonne, by far the catchiest song I’ve ever heard, they didn’t play it. Absolutely wounded. I thought they were just being jammy buggers and saving it for the encore. Yeah, the encore never happened.

Apart from that, the boys did well!

The Mad Grad.


Lil’ bit of Vice.

Location: Cafephillia, Moseley.

oobleckI’ve always thought of Moseley as Birmingham’s Soho. A proper quirky kind of place. Everything is so chilled and no-one ever seems to be in a hurry. It’s full of such an eclectic mix of people; mature intellectuals, bohemians and easy-going people who have such a laid-back approach to life.

Easily caught up in the humdrum of everyday life, I’ve decided Saturday’s are for scribbling. Sat in Cafephillia, an eccentric cafe nestled on the corner of Moseley’s high street, surrounded by beards, lush coffee and an epic playlist – I’m in my absolute element.

After paying for a Netflix Subscription for 6 months – which I used about three times in total – I realised that TV series and films aren’t for me. Quite frankly, I haven’t got the attention span for either. Spotify is my type of thing. It’s quite sad really, but I can sit on Spotify for hours, listening to unsigned and undiscovered bands – some better than others, of course.

When I was at University, I always used to buy gig tickets off the cuff and drag my best friend along to them. Not like she was complaining – she’s proper into her music too. Since I’ve moved home, I haven’t been to half as many gigs and that’s something I want to change. In true fashion, I booked two tickets to see Lisbon – a small, indie band from Newcastle – at the Oobleck.

Ok, apart from the awful accent, unheard of football team and Doctors, the worst show ever aired on television – Birmingham isn’t that dreadful. In fact, it’s full of unusual, alternative restaurants and music venues.

mockingbirdThe Mockingbird Theatre, situated in The Custard Factory, has some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. It sells decent food – the type that you don’t need a magnifying glass to see what you’re eating. Proper indie, it’s kitted out with beer keg chairs, old-cinema style decor and pukka cider on draft.

The Oobleck, which latches onto Alfie Bird’s pub, is up there with the coolest music venues I’ve been to – the entrance door was a real bookcase for starters! The only bug-bearer was the price of cider – £5 a bottle.

Surrounded by bunches of 16 year olds, moshing to Bombay Bicycle Club’s album which was played on repeat, I felt like I was back in my teenage years. Except this time, I could stand with a cold cider in my hand. Brother’s cloudy lemon, to be precise. I certainly wasn’t complaining. Packed out with only about 30 people, it was an intimate gig and there was a real atmosphere. It was a nice change. Echoed through the abysmal support act, The Amazons, whose sound levelling was all over the place, these tiny venues are ideal for bands to practise, make mistakes and build up a fan base.

Disappointed by the support act, Lisbon pulled it out the bag. The three young lads from Newcastle, I’d say about my age, lit the stage up and had the floor shaking. Too small for a stage invasion, Matt Varty, the lead singer of the band took himself off the stage and into the crowd. As you can imagine, the teenage girls went crazy and one even offered him her spare cardigan. I can’t say I’ve ever been that prepared.


Unlike large, commercial gigs that I’ve been to, it was nice to interact and have a laugh with the lads afterwards. Guitarist, Joe Atkinson, was up for a chin-wag and signed the EP that we bought for our car. Joe had a wicked sense of humour and creased when I questioned the price of the CD. Let’s just say, The CD was £4 and the ticket was £5.

It was a fiver well spent, that’s for sure.

The Mad Grad.










The life of a Grad



I’m 21, my roots are horrendous and my eyebrows are in desperate need of some TLC.

My life right now? Far from sorted.

I’ve just finished an internship with a magazine publishers and now I feel like I’m at a loose end.

After 4 weeks of six o’clock starts, two hour commutes and exhausted playlists – I realised the 9 -5.30 lifestyle isn’t for me. Not yet anyway. Dressing smart, wearing fancy shoes and grabbing a coffee on the the way, I sort of convinced myself that I had my life together. Ignoring the fact that I was doing this for free (Ok, £50 a week).

It was so different. Sitting amongst like-minded people, drinking copious amounts of tea and devouring packets of humbugs. I wasn’t used it. Everything was so chilled. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook were part of my working routine – it was weird. I would spent hours reading travel blogs, writing about amazing places and planning adventurous trips. I loved it.

I was used to having arrogant customers shout at me for building queues and the lack of cashiers even though they could clearly see I was sorting it out. The amount of times I’ve been made to feel dumb just because I’m working in a supermarket, oblivious to the fact that I’m probably more educated than them.


The same conversation with the same people, day in day out, about what I’m going to do with my life. I always feel obliged to make up an answer and go with the first thing that comes into my head. Most of the time I say teaching because I think it sounds ambitious. The truth is I haven’t got a clue what I want to do. I’m too embarrassed to talk about travelling because it always sounds too cliché.

Ever since school, I’ve always had the next step planned out. I just went with the flow. I studied ridiculously hard for my A Levels and managed to get a place at my top choice University. Happy days.

I never planned any further than here – I suppose that’s not always a bad thing.

Eager to try new things, I’ve decided this is going to be the year of experience.

To kick start it off, I’ve just booked a 6 week course at the MAC in Birmingham. It’s an introduction into blogging and self-publishing websites.

I can’t wait.

The Mad Grad.