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LIVE REVIEW: Pharrell Williams, Forum, 12.09.14

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Pharrell Williams is like a Zen guru for thirteen year olds. He looks into the audience with a deep, brooding passion whilst the weird bunch of keys on his jeans clatters around him. He makes the heart shape with his hands repeatedly and likes to offer little nuggets of wisdom and philosophy to his audience members. The relentless expressions of gratitude are as predictable as you’d expect, but over the course of the concert, the verbal and spiritual connection with his audience changes from affected to genuine.

‘Come Get it Bae’ is the first track to play in the sold-out Forum. His bow at the end is solemn and serious, although the expression does seem somewhat at odds with his reputation as a man famed for his happiness. This is followed by ‘Frontin”, one of Williams’ multiple Jay-Z collaborations. After a few more tracks from the artist’s latest solo album G I R L, released earlier this year, Williams stops and addresses the audience with his first inspirational quote of the night. “I’m so happy to be in a room full of people who love the world, and their lives, and being different, other. We’re gonna go something different tonight. We’re gonna play some songs that I had something to do with, because you made them hits and I was lucky enough to tag along.” This translates into a medley of the best pop tracks of the 00s, songs produced by The Neptunes, of which Williams forms one half. ‘Hot in Herre’, ‘Milkshake’, ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ and ‘Shake Ya Ass’ all feature. Williams’ live contribution to this medley is minimal, and it’s a pattern that gets repeated at intervals. ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ and, in the encore, ‘Hollaback Girl’ are played to the common delight of audience members. This is not a solo concert as such, but a playlist of top 40 hits for which Pharrell doesn’t really need to be present at this post production stage. But as someone who is usually at best bored and at worst irritated by the artist’s solo work, I’m glad the chart hits are there.

“What we have to recognise tonight is that in this life, for everything that happens, there are many variables.” Whoopie! More nuggets of Pharrell wisdom! “Many years ago I was involved in something called N*E*R*D.” At this point my ears pricked up. A few minutes later and Williams is performing ‘Lapdance’ with fellow N*E*R*D member Shae Haley. “N*E*R*D for eva!” says Pharrell, with yet another hand heart sign pinned to his chest.

But as cringe worthy as all that stuff is, it seems to come genuinely from the heart. For his encore, Pharrell plays ‘Blurred Lines’ and ‘Get Lucky’ before turning to ‘Lose Yourself To Dance’ and ‘Happy’. These are songs that, over the past year, even if you were a larvae that lived under a rock in the depths of the Amazon, you’d have had difficulty avoiding. These songs are the latest chapter in a career that has lasted over twenty years and made Pharrell one of the most important men in pop and R&B. And for the very first time since its release, I actually enjoy ‘Happy’. “Who here is sick of feeling afraid of what comes to them on their phone and tablet and TV in the news?” he asks. “You’re not going to be afraid anymore… because the best way to kill fear is what?” The audience responds with deafening volume: “BE HAPPY”. Whilst the artist performs an extended version of the track, he invites a little boy from the audience onto the stage. When Pharrell reaches the chorus, the boy starts performing the worm dance move. Canons fire confetti. You’d have to be an icy person not to find this a surprisingly beautiful and moving experience. This artist doesn’t just spurt out a load of bullshit for the sake of it; he seems to believe every word, and really is a joyful, believe-in-yourself kind of guy. Maybe I was emotionally manipulated by the confetti, but whatever. I’m converted. I like Pharrell now, and I came home happy.

 

ARTICLE: Who will headline Roskilde Festival 2014?

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Its almost like talking about Christmas on December 26th but still people are starting to speculate to who will be headlining Roskilde Festival 2014 which is set to take place between 28th June to 6th July. Although its early in the day certain patterns emerge with festivals and heres our list as to who we think is likely to grace the hallowed Orange Stage in 2014.

Arcade Fire

Why?: Three flawless albums and another just around the corner with the release of their forth studio album Reflektor on October 29th. They’re set to go on a worldwide tour in support of Reflektor starting off down under at Big Day Out Festival, come summer they’ll hit the shores of Europe expecting to play some of the largest festivals this fine continent has to offer, what other festival is bigger in Scandinavia than Roskilde Festival?

Last played the festival: 2007 (The year of the flood)

Likelihood of them appearing: Highly

Trentemøller

Why?: Roskilde always try give a diverse mixture of Danish and International headliners and across the rest of the bill for that matter. Hes about to release new album Lost September 23rd. Trentemøller has already announced shows across Europe and North America with his popularity only growing since his last headline show of Roskilde in 2009.

Last played the festival: 2009

Likelihood of them appearing: Almost certain

Rage Against The Machine

Why?: Roskilde’s organisers are friendly people and each year they ask who the public want to see play their festival, each year RATM top that list (or somewhere close), we appreciate that they’re a tough band to book since they only play shows when it suits them. Next July will mark 3 years since they last played live together, however, theres every chance 2014 could be that year with them strongly rumoured to play LA Rising in August, Roskilde and a string of other festival dates in the summer of 2014 could be a nice warm up.

Last played the festival: 1996

Likelihood of them appearing: Slim, but theres every hope

Daft Punk

Why?: After dropping Random Access Memory this year we all expected them to play at least a few festival slots with strong rumours of them appearing at Primavera Sound, Glastonbury and even Roskilde. This unfortunately never happened. And while appearances from them have been minimal this year they made a short appearance at the MTV VMA’s last week and this could work as a snowball effect to have them announce concerts and festivals “around the world” next year.

Last played the festival: 1997

Likelihood of them appearing: Doubtful

Jay-Z or Kanye West (or both together)

Why?: The always active Brooklyn/Chicago rappers both have recently released their own albums Magna Carta Holy Grail/Yeezus (respectively) this year, common trend with these two is that they hit the European circuit a year or so after dropping an album. However both have just had their first children, this could deter them, however they’re entrepreneurs and know the value of touring.

Last played the festival: 2008/2009

Likelihood of them appearing: Fairly good

Eminem

Why?: He just played Reading/Leeds festivals last weekend and he’s about to release Marshall Mathers LP 2, I’m sure he’ll want to play a handful of European shows in support of the album. He’s isn’t as relevant as he was back in 1999 and sure he’s cleaned up his act, but he’s still got a back catalogue of hits worthy of any festival.

Last played the festival: Never

Likelihood of them appearing: Miracles can happen

Mew

Why?: They’re about to release their forth album and again another Danish band worthy of being a headliner. Although what goes against them is that they played Orange stage back in 2012, that wasn’t so long ago but they surely can’t miss out on booking them again.

Last played the festival: 2012

Likelihood of them appearing: Likely….but…..

Blur

Why?: With rumours of new material and them playing most other large festivals across Europe in recent years, 2014 could be the year they make it back to Roskilde Festival, after all Damon Albarn has a long lasting relationship with the festival having played recently with Gorillaz and three times previously with Blur. They performed at SmukFest in 2012 and this year could finally be the year they roll out the hits once more to a 60,000 strong crowd rejoicing to epic sing-a-longs to one of Brit pops finest bands.

Last played the festival: 2003

Likelihood of them appearing: Good chance

Vampire Weekend

Why?: Its sometimes hard to constitute who a headliner is at Roskilde, although they most likely won’t be billed as a headliner theres a good chance if they book Vampire Weekend they’ll make an appearance on the Orange Stage in a similar slot to what The National played at this years festival. The band released their third album Modern Vampires Of The City earlier this year to critical acclaim, their first two albums secured them headlining spots at several high profile festivals across the globe and have now proved themselves worthy headliners. What better music to hear on a Saturday evening as the sun is setting over the Orange Stage than Vampire Weekend?

Last played the festival: 2010

Likelihood of them appearing: High

Wu-Tang Clan

Why?: The Staten Island rap collective played many high profile festivals worldwide this year including their set at Vangaard Festival in Copenhagen. That hyped set has left fans purring for more and will most likely be one of the top 5 bands the fans vote to headline the festival in 2014, after all it will mark 10 years since they last played Roskilde!

Last played the festival: 2004

Likelihood of them appearing: High!

LIVE REVIEW: Haim | Lille Vega, Copenhagen, 07.08.2013

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As an ignorant European, my frame of reference delimits my first associations of San Fernando Valley to be that of its reputation as a place of eternal sunshine as well as the epicentre of the adult industry. However, tonight’s concert at Lille Vega, band of sisters Haim proved that there’s (much) more to it than just my inferior connotations.

Yet before Haim took to the stage, support act, with the assonantal name Ice Cream Cathedral, took on the job of priming the already enthusiastic crowd, delivering the shoegazed space pop that has become their trademark and earned them recognition from an array of critics as well as regulars to the Danish indie scene. However thankful the task, the Copenhagen trio made a respectable effort and surely gained even more followers this night with their original fusion of the ethereal Neo Italo that has scored many an art-house feature in recent years and the heritage of legends such as My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins.

VIEW LIVE PHOTOS: ICE CREAM CATHEDRAL

Thus elevated the audience were more than ready to take on Haim. Making their way to the stage to the chorus of Jay-Z’s modern classic ’99 Problems’ (“If you’re having girl problems, I feel bad for you son/I’ve got 99 problems but a b**** ain’t one”), the sisters unpompously suggested that they weren’t too blame for any unfulfilled intentions to have a good night. One could have feared that it would actually have been the case, as rumour had it that two of the three sisters suffered from a cold and were prescribed to penicillin, yet it wasn’t to be seen – nor heard.

On the contrary, the sisters stroke the first chord with genetic accuracy and from there lead the listeners on to a tour de force into their musical versatility and charming personalities. Especially big sister Este proved to be of a talkative nature and had more than a few bantering inquiries for the audience – “Would anyone like to take me swimming in the morning?”. While she chatted her way into the hearts of the crowd, front vocalist Danielle barely spoke a word but won their respect through her gifted guitar play (that has earned her touring gigs with the likes of Julian Casablancas and Cee-Lo), and vocals comparable to Tracey Thorn (Everything But the Girl) or Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac), clearly shining through on tracks such as “Honey & I” and “Go Slow”.

Yet, their obvious links to those vocal bigwigs of yesteryear only accounts for a minor part of the girls’ portfolio. Throughout a relatively short but dense set of 40 minutes, courageously started off with Dirty Diana-esque track “Better Off”, they showcased their naturally moderate back catalogue with an unspoiled energy often unseen in more established acts, before intelligently closing down with their biggest hit to date, ‘Forever’, in a vigorous version representative of the sound of theirs and the night in general.

Witnessing such artistry easily leaves you out of breath, which however allowed me to bike home from the concert at a slower pace, consequently wondering whether the sound of fireworks was to be attributed to the nightly celebration of Eid ul-Fitr or the resonance of an indeed breath taking concert.

VIEW LIVE PHOTOS: HAIM

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