Just last month, Arizona bound rock band The Maine released their first ever fully acoustic EP named Imaginary Numbers. Despite having just completed a world tour following the release of their fourth studio album, Forever Halloween in June, they’ve both recorded and produced this EP on their own, using a studio they built themselves. It’s safe to say that for their first acoustic EP, this record has been heavily anticipated, especially after Forever Halloween bought us a distinctive more grounded and sophisticated sound from the five piece band.
Imaginary Numbers gives us five songs – some of which derived from poems front man John O’Callaghan had previously written – that simply didn’t belong on their previous album or fit in with it’s sound. The result is a raw, laid back and truthful album that gives us a real look inside of the band’s minds. It was only with the release of These Four Words from Forever Halloween that John O’Callaghan admitted it was the most revealing song he has ever written, which is far cry from some of their other more pop punk singles such as Inside of You and Everything I Ask For. This EP has only delved further into his mind and created an honest and upfront image of the world – and love – from his point of view. It’s clear to see that as this band have grown up, so has their music.
This EP strips away all the preconceptions of what an album should have – if you’re expecting a mix of upbeat and inspiring songs, then this isn’t the EP for you. Instead it’s brutally honest and the fact that most of the songs were taken from what began as poems somewhat suggests that this EP wasn’t put out with the aim to earn money and gain record sales. It’s simply a gift to the fans; a full on and basic bunch of songs put together, something the band have perhaps enjoyed putting together in their own time and have just decided to share, as opposed to producing an album as a career move.
Raining in Paris is the first song on the album and lays the perfect foundation for the rest of the EP; it’s easy on the ears, the lyrics are thought provoking and just listening to it immediately relaxes you with it’s slow instrumentals and John’s soothing and beautiful vocals. A slight ode to Kennedy Curse from their last album I feel, this song has a slight country feel to it, which I think accurately represents some of the bands biggest influences.
Room With No Windows reminds me a lot of a song called Happy from their previous album, in that it’s a more upbeat tune and beat only to reveal much more when you listen to the lyrics. It’s not a happy song but it’s very easy to catch onto and sing along to. It has a very relaxed and acoustic vibe to it, with undertones suggesting that sitting around and sulking isn’t going to change your life if you’re not actually willing to get up and do anything about wanting that change.
Perfectly Out Of Key really stands out for me and is very powerful. Backed up by only beautiful piano keys, John sings about never necessarily fitting in; how everyone might feel a little different and weird sometimes but that despite the pressure of being expected to maybe be one person, you should be happy with who you are. He’s singing about how he’d much rather be different and view the world through his own eyes, with his own mind because even if it’s not necessarily right, it’s a lot easier than dealing with some of the bad stuff this world sometimes has to offer.
Another firm favourite of mine, Visions is a hauntingly beautiful ballad which is clearly the second part to These Four Words from their previous album. It tells the story of how he’s suffered a break up and as hard as he tries to get over it, he’s constantly reminded of that relationship; their story and their memories. Visions haunt him, but as much as he wants to move on, in some ways he likes having that reminder and might be ready to let go, but he doesn’t necessarily want to. It’s bittersweet in many ways. It’s a classic song that simply won’t get old and I feel that I’ll be listening to this in years to come. The simple but beautiful Harmonica solo adds further character to the song, and all you have to do is close your eyes and listen to the lyrics to this song to find yourself in John O’Callaghan’s shoes, remembering and having visions of your own past relationships too.
Lovely Sad again has a slight country feel to it and I love that it rounds up that similar feeling from what the first song brought to the EP, ending the release with such a natural progression that you could press repeat and listen to the whole thing all over again. Lovely Sad is also what provides the EP with it’s name and has some powerful lyrics, such as ‘what if’s and the should have’s, they start to eat my brain’ – another nod to one of the front man’s previous published poems. This is another sad song, but this time it isn’t disguised with a more happy tune. It’s not a sad tune per se, but it’s a beautiful song that successfully sums up the EP. It ends with the lyrics ‘we’re all sad, but to me we’re lovely sad’ which I suppose is a bittersweet feeling and a continuation on from the fact that we may be sad, but that’s okay, if somewhat lovely too.
The Maine have yet again impressed with their newest EP which is a small and honest stepping stone between albums. I hope they keep their upfront honesty displayed in this EP and their last album for whatever they plan to release next.
Henley Festival goes Digital with Will Young & Beverley Knight
For 2020 Henley Festival has announced that it will be going digital, presenting a 2-hour evening concert, streamed on the Henley Festival website with performances from the Hurley House Hotel.
Popstar Will Young will perform some of his classic hits including Love Revolution, Joy and Light my fire. He says: “It’s a pleasure to be able use a home filmed show, the band and I have been working on during lockdown for Henley, a place I’ve performed in and loved. I grew up not too far from there, so it is almost a virtual home-town show.”
Soul singer Beverley Knight will perform a 40 minute concert of her top hits. There will also be performances from classical pianist Hao Zi Yoh, and number one Jazz musician Joe Stilgoe. Comedy will be provided by Rory Bremner who will perform some new topical material whilst being interviewed by cricket commentator David Gower. David Gower who has said “As a guest in previous years I have grown to love the atmosphere and diversity of the many talents on show at the Henley Festival so it is a great pleasure to add a little something back with this year’s digital event”
Festival goers can watch the digital concert from the comfort of their own homes, with tickets starting from £10.10 each and available from www.henley-festival.co.uk.
All ticket sales will help to support the not-for-profit festival to continue in 2021. Established 38 years ago as a classical music charity event, Henley Festival continues to be run on a not for profit basis. supporting charitable projects at both a national and local level.
Henley Festival announced back in April that this year’s five day black-tie Festival will be postponed in its entirety to July 2021, moving the full 2020 line up to next year including headliners James Blunt, Madness, and Sophie Ellis Bextor. Anyone who holds tickets to the 2020 festival will be able to use them in 2021.
Henley Festival CEO Nick Mattingley said: “We are absolutely delighted to be able to offer a digital version of Henley Festival for 2020 with some of the UK’s best loved performers. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to experience the festival from the comfort of their homes.”
Classic Ibiza partners with Isabel Hospice for Concert
This summer’s Classic Ibiza at Hatfield House on Saturday 29 August will be supporting a local charity that helps people and families in eastern Hertfordshire with life-limiting illnesses.
Isabel Hospice provides free end of life care and support for patients and their families living with cancer and other illnesses, such as MND, end-stage renal, heart conditions and respiratory conditions or other complex neurological conditions. The population they serve is almost 370,000 and last year they cared for 1,855 people.
Care is based on the simple idea that patients are ordinary people living with physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs. The Hospice provides enormous support to families and friends, caring for the patients and all those around them.
There will be various fundraising initiatives taking place on the evening, including a £1 donation from every programme sold, a recommended £5 donation from press and guest-list entries, as well as collection points at all onsite retailers and exit points. On-screen video and an Isabel Hospice marquee, where audience members can find out more about the work that they do, will also aid in raising the charity’s profile.
Adam Brockett, Head of Community and Events at Isabel Hospice. comments: “We need to raise £17,000 every day to keep our Hospice running and events like this will help enormously towards that goal. Our In-Patient Unit is a safe haven for people as they reach the end of their lives, but the Hospice is so much more than a building. We care for the majority of patients in their own home and across eastern Hertfordshire in the Living Well with Isabel Hubs where activities include Feel Good Singing, art and gardening sessions to promote well-being and independence for people living with a life-limiting condition. We’d like to thank Classic Ibiza for supporting us, in what promises to be a brilliant event.”
Lisa Ward, organiser of Classic Ibiza, adds: “Giving something back to the local communities that host our concerts across the UK has always been important to us and our audience. Classic Ibiza is a concert for all the family, so it’s fitting that we are working with Isabel Hospice to help people and their loved ones living with life-limiting illnesses in the region. The show is due to sell-out again, so we hope to raise significant funds and boost awareness of this extremely worthy cause.”
Classic Ibiza begins with a ‘Chill-out DJ set’ performed by former Pacha Ibiza and Ministry of Sound London resident, Jose Luis. The Urban Soul Orchestra and vocalists then take to the stage with Goldierocks for the ‘Sundowner set,’ with tracks from Orbital, Paul van Dyk, Roger Sanchez and many more. The rhythm builds further during Goldierocks’ ‘House DJ set’, which is packed full of stone-cold dance anthems. The concert then reaches a crescendo during the ‘Dance set,’ when the orchestra and vocalists return to the stage as night falls and the grounds of Hatfield turn into an alfresco nightclub with accompanying lasers. Expect tracks from The Prodigy and The Shapeshifters, to Faithless and Underworld.
Programme: 5:30pm: Car parks and gates open; 6:00pm: ‘Chill-out DJ set’ (Jose Luis); 7:30pm: ‘Sundowner set’ (Urban Soul Orchestra and Goldierocks); 8:30pm: ‘House DJ set’ (Goldierocks); 9:00pm: ‘Dance set’ and laser light show (Urban Soul Orchestra and Goldierocks); 10:15pm: Concert finishes.
Information and tickets: Visit: www.classicibiza.co.uk
Hip Hop dance show Father Figurine debuts at The Hat Factory, Luton
Oxford-based Hip Hop dance theatre company Body Politic is raising awareness about the UK’s current mental health epidemic in adolescent boys and men through their show Father Figurine at The Hat Factory, Luton on Friday 20th of September as part of their second national tour.
With the current climate of mental health discussion, Father Figurine talks about the fragilities and vulnerabilities in men and young boys. This piece combines poignant spoken word poetry with hip hop dance, to explore the fractured relationship between a father and his son and their inability to healthily deal with a traumatic event.
Will they be able to share their emotions with each other? Or will they fall into the statistic of nearly half of men believing they can’t express their feelings?
Figures show that 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches their 18th birthday, while 50% of mental health problems in adults begin before the age of 15. Father Figurine combines poignant spoken word poetry with hip hop dance with the drive to bring these figures to light and empower men and boys.
Emma-Jane Greig, the Artistic Director of Body Politic, is looking forward to sharing Father Figurine and engaging in a post-show discussion with a panel of local mental health professionals at The Hat Factory, Luton on Friday 20th of September at 19.30.
She said: “I feel very honored to be touring Father Figurine for the second time this year. Earlier this year, this powerful piece of work was described as “meaningful” and “important” by health care professionals and audience members. I am really looking forward to continuing conversations around men’s mental health this Autumn, and using our work as a catalyst for change.”