Bunch Of Fives: Chris Kelly | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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North-East indie-folk singer-songwriter Chris Kelly gets back to basics for his latest EP, Live At Loft Studio, which as the name suggests sees him performing a handful of tracks at the Newcastle recording space. The tracks might just be him and a guitar but the rich tones and evocative lyrics are an engaging listen.

Here, Chris gives us his top five live performances…

5. Ruston Kelly – Jimmy’s, Manchester – 2019
Ruston Kelly (no relation…) might not be a household name (yet) but I genuinely think he’s one of the best contemporary songwriters around! I saw him back in 2019 in a tiny Manchester venue (R.I.P to the original Jimmy’s) where he performed alone with his acoustic guitar and piano. 

Given the fact that Ruston describes his music as ‘Dirt Emo’, you can imagine the vibe, sad, sad, and a little more sad. I love a good sad song, so this show was incredibly moving and personal.

4. John Mayer – O2 Arena, London – 2017
John Mayer is a childhood guitar hero of mine so seeing him for the first time back in 2017 after the release of one of my favourite albums of his, The Search for Everything, was great.

Not only was John on point but his band (which included the amazing Pino Palladino and Steve Jordan) were on fire. The setlist was 10/10 and the stage design was incredible. 

I’m not usually a fan of arena shows but John and co. managed to make the most of it and it was great!

3. Sam Fender – Gosforth Park, Newcastle – 2020
Nothing beats a hometown show but combined with the fact that this was the first live music available post lockdown (well, the first one anyway…), this was a great show to be a part of!

Granted, the little ‘pods’ which you had to stay in with just 6 people were pretty weird, but Sam and the band put on such a good show that I quickly forgot about the whole COVID nightmare and felt right back where I belong!

2. The Gaslight Anthem 10th Anniversary of The 59 Sound – The Apollo, Manchester – 2018 
The Gaslight Anthem, along with their frontman Brian Fallon, are probably my biggest musical influence and I was gutted when they went on hiatus in 2015 as I had not yet had the chance to see them live. However, they briefly reformed in 2018 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their breakthrough album The 59 Sound, which also happens to be the first album of theirs that I heard.

Brian’s song writing is the main catalyst that took me from being a guitarist that likes to sing to a songwriter. I find his lyrics incredibly moving, relatable and grounded which is something I try to emulate in my own work.

Getting to see those songs live for the first time was a real treat!

1. Taylor Hawkins Tribute Concert – Wembley Stadium, London – 2022

Having only been last week, this show is still fresh in my mind and I’m not sure I have entirely comprehended the sheer magnitude of this six-hour show celebrating the life of the incredible Taylor Hawkins. 

From the blistering opening from Liam Gallagher to the tender rendition of Love of My Life from Queen’s Brian May, the show was a rollercoaster of emotions that fully highlighted the power and importance of music. 

Not only was the show packed full of legendary musicians from Paul McCartney to Lars Ulrich, but the Foo Fighters also (backed by several incredible drummers) put on the show of a lifetime which only makes Taylor’s passing even sadder. 

Was it the best experience of my life? Probably!

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