Ed Sheeran Concert Review

Ashley Bourque

“My name is Ed, my job is to entertain you, you’re job is to be entertained. My goal is for you to leave this gig with no voice.” This is how Ed Sheeran, greeted the sold out O2 arena on his last gig in London. Standing alone on stage with just his acoustic guitar, two microphones, and a loop-pedal system that allowed him to layer his voice and guitar beats, the goal was easily accomplished.

1013787_816123408437758_3925948044556839471_n[1]About 20,000 fans seemed as eager to accomplish the goal Sheeran set. Singing throughout all the songs and screaming in between, it barely gave him the opportunity to speak to the crowd, which he didn’t seem to mind. Dressed in a flannel button down shirt, jeans and converse it’s not hard to see the same Sheeran who was busking on the street just 5 short years ago.

Sheeran played a 90 minute set drawing songs from his highly successful debut and sophomore album. He kicked off the night with “Mess” before going into fan favorite “Lego House”. You can clearly see the busking influence on the star, but he now he adds hip-hop, and R&B influences on his tracks. Sheeran kept the audience on their toes by mixing in covers with his songs. With his number one hit rumored to be about Ellie Goulding titled “Don’t” he added Blackstreets “No Diggity” and Chris Brown’s “Loyal”. Before playing “Runaway” he added the Backstreet Boys “Everybody” making the concert more than just an Ed Sheeran show.

Sheeran laid back attitude about playing 4 sold out nights at the O2 is what made the concert so intimate. It certainly helped that he still refuses to have a full band play behind him, and instead creates all the music on his own. There isn’t much of a difference between seeing Sheeran play a 100 person gig or a 20,000 person gig. There was no special gimmicks, just images that changed behind him as the songs changed.  His confidence seemed unnerved yet thankful for the opportunities he experienced.

To pick one highlight of the night would be difficult but anytime Sheeran went into one of his ballads the crowd simmered down and listen to him open up his heart. “Thinking Out Loud”, Sheeran’s newest number one hit unquestionably got the biggest applause at the end of the evening. It was the only time Sheeran played an electric guitar, almost giving a hint to what could be to come in his next album.

Sheeran closed out the night with three of his most popular songs. “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”, the first of his songs to reach radio, “The A Team”, which gave him the opportunity to break into the States and finally “Sing” which includes Sheeran’s biggest collaboration, Pharrell. “I don’t want you to stop singing even after I leave the stage” Sheeran shouts leading the crowd through one more round of the chorus before quietly disappearing from the stage. The crowd still sings for a few seconds after before simmering down and ending the night. It’s easy to tell that Sheeran is a unique talent. There is nobody out there doing what Sheeran is doing and because of that Sheeran is on his way to global superstardom.

 

The 1975 Concert Review

Ashley Bourque

Kicking off the first of two sold out nights at Alexandria Palace the 1975 has checked another venue off their bucket list. It has been more than a year since they released their self-titled debut album, which went platinum and more than two since they started what became an international tour. The front man, Matty Healy confirmed that these would be the last tour dates in the UK for a while until their sophomore album is complete, so naturally they went out with a bang.

10686915_807351012648331_2693821443456072697_n[2]Having to stick with the songs that gave the band their gigantic fan base they now have they kicked off the night with their big bass staple track “The City” before going into hidden classic “Milk”, which is a secret track on their “Sex” EP.  The track list was similar to their past gigs at venues like the Royal Albert Hall and the 02 Brixton. During the pop-funk songs “Settle Down”, “Heart Out”, and “Pressure” the band added a saxophone player, which add a somewhat cheesy but smooth eighties sound to the band’s set.

Despite being one of the four band members, Healy is clearly the leader. He was the only member to speak throughout the night and certainly owned the stage more than his cohorts. Constantly throwing his lanky body around the stage he held the neck of a red wine bottle in one hand and the microphone and cigarette in another.  He oozes the swagger that one expects from a rock star.

A highlight of the night was certainly the middle of the set when the band played two of its only ballad’s, “Me” and “fallingforyou”. Healy kindly requested that the audience “stop watching us through a screen and look me in the eyes.” The entire venue became dark except for the four lit up rectangles, the symbol that the 1975 have become associated with.

10259879_728324283884338_2167838324984624221_n[1]The show had a monochrome theme to it. The stage lights only being white while the band dressed in all black. The color mostly came from the music itself, with the exception to a red light flashing during the hit Sex. The color mostly came from the music, something the band has taken pride in from the beginning.

The show got a “fangirl” twist to it when Healy brought a fan onstage during their tragic love song ballad, “Robbers” which was inspired by the relationship in True Romance.  The fan sat on the edge of the drum stand as Healy kneeled in front of her pouring his heart out, while fans screamed from the floor.

The band played a 90 minute set in total but it was clear the fans could have heard them play for hours. Closing out the night the 1975 proved they are here to stay. Playing their biggest hits “Chocolate” and “Sex” they sent every fan home happy, but craving more.

Michael Bublé Christmas Album Review

Ashley Bourque

It’s hard to believe the Christmas 24112379_700x700min_1[1]season is upon us once again. It’s the time of year when stores have already decked the halls and a small number of artists try to release albums that can compete with the Rat Pack’s classic Christmas repertoire. This year Idina Menzel, known for the song “Let It Go”, Darius Rucker and Earth, Wind, and Fire are all taking a shot for their place in Christmas music history.

 It has been years since the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy David Jr has released the iconic Christmas songs that we grew up. Many artists have tried and failed to come close to the untouchable title that these men and women have but one man has managed to get extremely close to it.

It has only been three years since Michael Bublé released his first Christmas album, and yet it has become a staple in many households around the world. Titled Christmas, the album covers a range of holiday songs, including the old classics and modern hits as well as a couple originals. The album covers the classics like “It’s Beginning to Look A lot like Christmas”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night”.

While the album is mostly filled with the usual repertoire of Christmas songs, Bublé mixes it up by adding an original, as a way to show that his big band crooner voice, isn’t the only talent he has. He also adds his own personal twist to Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” by slowing it down to a piano ballad, making it, in my opinion, better than the original.

A highlight of the album certainly has to be “Ava Maria” and “Feliz Navidad”. Bublé, a Canadian covers both of these songs in their original language, this being Italian and Spanish. While these songs aren’t exactly like “Let It Snow”, they are staples in other cultures and with Bublé covering it shows that he has a global audience he is willing to keep happy.

What makes this album a Christmas classic, is Bublé’s ability to bring back these oldies in a modern way. His voice is certainly similar to previous Standard singers but it is his arrangements that keep these classic songs fresh. If it weren’t for these new arrangements this album would have been easily unforgettable, and have been lost in the crowd of Christmas albums.

If you can’t get enough of Bublé’s holiday songs, there is no need to worry. His fourth annual Christmas special will air on NBC, December 17th at 8pm EST. Filmed at the infamous Radio City Music Hall, it has special guests for all ages including Barbra Streisand, Ariana Grande, Miss Piggy and The Rockettes. And if that isn’t enough, Bublé is featured on the track “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Idina Menzel. This can be found on her newly released Christmas album titled “Holiday Wishes”

Shakespeare in Love Play Review

Shakespeare in Love

Noel Coward Theatre

Ashley Bourque

Shakespeare in Love[1]Shakespeare in Love brings Shakespeare back to life. Based on the award wining romantic comedy movie, the play follows the brilliant playwright through a passionate love affair that inspires one of his most known works Romeo and Juliet. The 1998 film starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow stole the world’s heart and earned seven Academy Awards because of it. Lee Hall, writer of Billy Elliot adapts the screenplay perfectly for the stage making it a show you don’t want to miss.

The play is set in 1953 and Shakespeare has been commissioned to write a play that includes “love, comedy, a pirate and a dog.” He is struggling to write his unfinished play, hesitantly titled Romeo and Ethel: The Pirate’s Daughter by picking the brain of his friendly competitor Marlowe. The problem is he already sold the rights to his play and it is no where close to being finished. Pressured he begins to audition the part of Romeo and comes across the talented Thomas Kent. What he doesn’t know is that Thomas Kent has a secret. He is actually Viola de Lesseps, a young noble women who has a love for the theatre and is determined to play the role even though women are forbidden to perform on the stage. As soon as Shakespeare discovers Kent’s true identity he discovers his muse, falls head over heels in love and the play Romeo and Juliet is born.

From the first note played by the live musicians on the stage the audience is taken back to Elizabethan London, where theatre is in high demand and what the Queen wants the Queen gets. Tom Bateman charmingly woos the audience with his portrayal of William Shakespeare and Lucy Briggs-Owen shines as the free spirited Viola, doubling as Thomas Kent. The chemistry between the two is undeniable as the audience watches the romance blossom. One of the highlights of the show is the recognizable parallels between Viola and Shakespeare’s love affair and the story of Romeo and Juliet.

Colin Ryan is one of the production’s major scene stealers one liners and dumbstruck expressions leaves the audience in fits of laughter. His character’s physical disabilities do portray him as one of society’s underdogs, but when Queen Elizabeth asks for his name, he replies with “Webster”. When he tells him that he has a bright future, he replies “cool, thanks.” The underlying joke is that Webster ended up being a very successful playwright.

What makes this show so successful is its ability to transport the audience to the Elizabethan times. The cast includes live musicians who play pieces of music that would have been heard in Queen Elizabeth’s court. The real eye catcher is the moving set pieces which switch the setting from a pub, Viola’s bedroom, the Queen’s court and finally the Globe theatre. Every moment of this play gives the audience an authentic Elizabethan play experience.