Kaleo – Handprint

This is the gig I’ve been waiting for,  the band I couldn’t wait to see live. I had already had to cancel seeing them last year due to prior arrangements and now nothing was going to get in my way of seeing the Icelandic quartet who boast a beautiful sound of folk, blue and rock.

The band was started by JJ Julius Son, David Antonsson and Daniel Kristjansson who were best friends at school. They soon added Rubin Pollock  and in 2012 Kaleo was formed. (After a bit of research Kaleo is hawaiian for the sound.)

Tuesday 31st January, Kaleo were continuing their Handprint tour across the UK and it was the turn of London O2 Forum in Kentish Town to be graced with their sound.

Once again my boyfriend was the lucky individual who I dragged along with me. He was fed and watered beforehand so don’t feel too sorry for him (and he very kindly paid for dinner too, what a sweetie 😘)!

The weather was miserable and the rain was continuous but armed with my umbrella and my man I was excited to get to the venue.

O2 Forum kentish Town is a perfect intimate venue. It isn’t too small nor too big yet anywhere you stand on the bottom floor you will have a good view as there’s different levels and also a bit of an upward slope.

We got priority entrance, allowing us to skip the queue and go straight in. But being British and loving queueing we were still lucky enough to queue for the cloakroom, where it was £3 an item!! Whilst in the queue the support band started. Straightaway you could hear why they were supporting Kaleo. Their sound was similar with a mix of indie rock and soulful blues. The four piece named Broken Witt Rebels created an atmosphere. Despite not hearing them before you couldn’t help but bop along to them. The charisma and charm of the lead singer was contagious and it was clear everyone was enjoying them.

Their set was 40 minutes long and their energy and passion was rife throughout. They were entertaining to watch and really warmed up the crowd. Their musical techniques were  incredible and their playing in different tuning on their guitars and bass was nothing I’d noted before.  I’ve already scouted them out on Spotify to listen to.

9pm and Kaleo appear after their roadie insisted on checking the mic a multitude of times. JJ Julius Son came on dressed in a smart blazer, a white sleeveless top and black trousers. He looked smart and quite the part of the lead singer. He started whistling as the rest of the band in strikingly floral patterned shirts, struck their instruments. The first song had started;  can’t go on without you. The crowd were singing and dancing straight away. I thought this was a sign of good things to come for the rest of their set.

Now for those of you who know Kaleo or for those of you that don’t, it is key to know that a lot of their songs are slow. I expected this and knew there wouldn’t be a lot of jumping around but I was hoping that JJ would interact with us and keep the atmosphere going.

Unfortunately he didn’t. I got the impression, and so did my boyfriend, that  in a good way he was very passionate about his music and concentrated on that but at the same time it also came across that he didn’t have much stage presence.

They worked their way through the songs, including the crowd favourites of automobile, a cover of bang, bang, way down we go and all the pretty girls. 

They sounded so much better live than on their recording and that was hard to beat. His vocals, the passion and love they all have for the music was evident. However, as previously mentioned their interaction was minimal.

It didn’t help that the crowd was a mix of people and ages. I got the gist that majority of people were there because the tickets were cheap and it was ideal for a week evening out and not because they were fans of Kaleo. They were drunk and rowdy and made me and others feel very uncomfortable and unable to enjoy the gig.

Me and the boyfriend persevered through the just over the hour set. It was nice as I got to have a dance with him but this to me became the only highlight of the gig.

Kaleo did get an encore and they did perform a rocky, upbeat song to close the gig. They were polite and thankful for us showing up and even suggested that they’ll be about next summer with a new tour or album.
I wanted so much to write such a good review and come back from that gig chomping at the bit to see them again live, but, unfortunately, I’m not. I’m not even sure I’m glad I saw them as I just really didn’t enjoy it. That may be because of the crowd or it might have been because of their lack of interaction but something just didn’t sit well with me. One thing I can confirm is that they are musicians. They can sing. They can play music. And they have a passion for it and that’s all you can ask of a band these days.

I hope I will see them again and I will have a completely different view but until then this gig won’t be going in my top 10 anytime soon.


JJ Julius Son playing Can’t go on without you



Rationale – ‘Pure Love’

Finally back into going to gigs, and what a way to start again!

On Wednesday 25th January, I met the Boyfriend from work and after enjoying a very delicious, and Gluten free Wahaca we left Waterloo and made our way to Charing Cross to seek out Heaven.

Heaven, a club owned by G-A-Y and first established in the 70s, boasts a 1000 person capacity for live music and has hosted acts ranging from Bombay Bicycle Club, Franz Ferdinand and N*E*R*D*.

I had Googled what Heaven looked like and where it was based but I wasn’t expecting what I saw when we arrived at the arches of Charing Cross. It was discrete and hidden despite the barriers and the metal detector right outside!

My boyfriend urged me to go first and so I strutted through the detector, had my bag checked and we were in! I had my stamp claiming I was allowed in and my ticket ripped. We turned the corner and faced a choice of two doors to go through, we went straight ahead and wow! What a venue. It was a typical basement, we were surrounded by exposed brick, dark paths and 3 or 4 little bars each with their own barman and a clock room to the left.

We hastily checked our coats in (only to soon realise that most kept theirs on, including hats and scarves, because it was freezing in there! The boyfriend waa convinced the gig area had no solid roof. He’s a structural engineer but I highly doubt he was right 😉) before rushing off to see the area where we’d be watching the music come alive. Safe to say we were awestruck. The roof was curved and the stage was raised. The room seemed to go back forever. Metal stairs left up to a balcony overlooking those standing below. I can only imagine what a great view those at the front got, those at the back not so much. This balcony led further back to a room I never got to see.

We got our ciders and we stood admiring the venue and excitedly anticipating what the night of music had in store for us. We were there for the headliner, Rationale, who spotify describe as a mash between Tracy Chapman and Morrisey.

The first act, the support, Dom Mcallister was up at half eight. The range of voice he has was incredible. He performed his own music and did a mash up of Jamie xx I know there’s gonna be good times and LUV by Tory Lanez. What a mash up. Everyone was singing along from the first word courtesy of LUV.

He had a great rapport with us, his audience. He spoke to us and even got us to participate in one of his songs. All we had to do was sing ‘woahhh ohhh ohh oh oh’ after him.  Something so simple but so entertaining. We found out he had written that song with Jess Glynne. And you could tell. It had a heavy influence of her music but it suited his voice. His half an hour set was soon over and I think it’s safe to say he gained himself a fair few new supporters.

Another quick trip to the bar, this time for a diet coke and a G&T. We lost our spot on the floor so had to fight our way through the sea of people to find somewhere to stand. As I’m too much of a delicate, sweet person, I pushed the boyfriend in front and he found us a place to stand amongst the people.

The clock finally ticked round to half nine and it was time for Rationale to take his place on stage.

The stage bore his name in lights as his band appeared first. After much screaming and cheering, Rationale appeared. He was ready to dance, to sing and to entertain. The energy he conveys as he performs is contagious. You can’t help but smile and have and have a dance as his voice fills the room.

Unlike a lot of modern artists, Rationale’s songs have a lot of meaning and you can see first hand how much these songs mean to him. The emotion is rife. He sings with purpose and soul and that’s a rarity with artists this day.

His love for the audience was evident. He expressed that what he felt from us, was pure love. He couldn’t believe the cheers and the screams he was getting and watching us sing along to his songs despite him not yet releasing his debut album.

His hour set flew by. Me and the boyfriend danced the whole way through, more swayed but the thought was there! I sang as and when I could, terribly may I add. He completed his set with fuel to the fire. The crowd belted the words out with him as his gig came to an end.

After a couple of selfies, that was it. The gig was over. My boyfriend was most disappointed that he didn’t do an encore despite me telling him over and over, there wouldn’t be one. He finally accepted this fact and even later told me I was right, which is a rarity for him!

All in all, this gig reminded me just how much I prefer small intimate venues with artists who may not be as well known in the music world because the atmosphere and the feel is nothing of that that you get at bigger venues. There seemed close knit vibe and a whole lotta love as Rationale says.

If you ever see Rationale’s name pop up at a venue near you, I’d recommend a trip to see him.

Rationale at Heaven