Taking place on the old grounds of V Festival at Hylands Park in Chelmsford, Essex was RiZE festival. A two-day event which had some of the hottest names in pop and the most talked about newcomers grace its stages. We headed down to see what it was like and we were certainly not disappointed.
Kicking off the weekend were indie trio, Ash. Having somewhat of a rebirth this year, their performance confirmed that they’re still as brilliant as they were back in the noughties. New album, Islands is full of anthems, each with their own distinctive Ash twist and they opened the festival up perfectly - of course though, ‘Girl From Mars’ still stands as a live favourite, but when a song’s that good you can never get bored of hearing it live.
O2 Institute Birmingham: Saturday 20 October Buy Tickets
O2 Ritz Manchester: Tuesday 23 October Buy Tickets
O2 Forum Kentish Town: Wednesday 24 October Buy Tickets
Fresh from the release of his new album, Coup De Grace, Miles Kane took to the main stage with an air of confidence about him. Despite not having had much of a chance to play the new songs live, each and every one was played flawlessly with an abundance of energy, and he even found time to throw in a cover of Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’, because why the hell not?
O2 Institute Birmingham: Tuesday 27 November Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Leeds: Thursday 29 November Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Newcastle: Saturday 1 December Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Bristol: Monday 3 December Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Leicester: Tuesday 4 December Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Brixton: Thursday 6 December Buy Tickets
Mountford Hall, Liverpool Guild of Students: Saturday 8 December Buy Tickets
It’s safe to say that Catherine McGrath is on a high right now. Her debut album, Talk Of This Town has been sitting comfortably at the top of the UK Country Artists Album Chart for a number of weeks and the smile across her face during her performance at RiZE was enough evidence of how she’s feeling about it. Though competing with acts on much bigger stages, plenty still gathered at the New Music Stage to hear the delightful country-pop melodies she’s become known for writing and the groups of young girls singing along to her heartfelt lyrics shows just how much of an impact her songs are making.
O2 Institute Birmingham: Wednesday 19 September Buy Tickets
Arts Club, Liverpool: Saturday 22 September Buy Tickets
It wasn’t a return we were expecting in 2018, but after his standout show at O2 Academy Brixton earlier this year and the release of new album, Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose, we knew we couldn’t miss Plan B’s performance. Suited and booted, now with his distinctive white face markings and a full band behind him, it was 50 minutes of pure gold. Flicking between soul favourites such as ‘Stay Too Long’ and the intense, hip-hop flavoured ‘Ill Manors’ and ‘Guess Again’, it was a rollercoaster ride of adrenaline, which saw one of the biggest crowds of the day.
Over on the Second Stage was man of the moment, Tom Grennan. Recent World Record breaker and Top 5 album holder, his packed-out performance was yet another highlight to add to his collection. Combining elements of soul and pop with a cheeky attitude, he’s become one of the most loveable artists of the year and the cheers that echoed around the tent when we performed ‘Found What I’ve Been Looking For’ only emphasise the love for his music. As an extra treat, he even played a stripped-back version of ‘All Goes Wrong’ – the collaboration with Chase & Status which launched him into the spotlight a mere 12 months ago.
O2 Academy Bristol: Sunday 14 October SOLD OUT
O2 Academy Brixton: Tuesday 16 October Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Oxford: Thursday 18 October Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Leicester: Friday 19 October SOLD OUT
O2 Academy Liverpool: Saturday 20 October Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Birmingham: Tuesday 23 October Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Sheffield: Wednesday 24 October Buy Tickets
James Bay may have taken a new direction with his latest album, Electric Light but that certainly hasn’t had an effect on the adoring crowds that flocked to see him on the Main Stage at RiZE. ‘Pink Lemonade’ kicked things off with a 50s rock ‘n’ roll swing and things only got better from there. Perfecting the balance of new and old, he delivered a mix of everything, from the seductive ‘Wild Love’ to the anthemic ‘Best Fake Smile’ and even chucked in a cover of ‘The Best’ by Bonnie Tyler (or Tina Turner, whichever you prefer). Ending on a high, ‘Hold Back The River’ became the soundtrack to the sunset and wrapped up our first day at RiZE festival in the best way possible.
Opening up the main stage on the second (and last) day of any festival can be a struggle, but R&B artist Samm Henshaw had no trouble at all. Bursting with energy, he and his band encouraged everyone to sing, dance and have as much fun as physically possible. Recent single, ‘Broke’, with its deliciously soulful vibes was made for summer and despite the breeze it had us warming up in no time at all.
Bringing vintage rock sounds by the bucket load were Black Honey. With an aesthetic straight out of the 70s and tracks like recent addition, ‘Midnight’ they’re creating their own path made of wailing guitars and hazy pop melodies. Though different to many of the popstars gracing the Main Stage on the second day, they were enticing and captivating to say the least and are undoubtedly going to continue making a whole lot of noise in the months to come.
O2 Academy Birmingham: Monday 15 October Buy Tickets
Having dropped their debut album the day before their set at RiZE festival, it’s fair to say that Bad Sounds were practically buzzing as they performed a selection of the album’s psychedelic offerings. As a colourful tron-esque circuit board lighting set danced away behind them, the kooky collective delivered a performance that was one of the most unique and magical of the whole weekend.
O2 Academy Liverpool: Friday 2 November Buy Tickets
“I am definitely underqualified to be performing on this stage” said Scottish singer-songwriter, Lewis Capaldi, as he looked out on the hundreds of people who had gathered to see him on the Main Stage. The witty 21 year-old has been breaking hearts with his emotional lyrics since the release of ‘Bruises’ last year and despite his surprise, he’s become one of the biggest voices of 2018. Performing each and every song with power and feeling, you could see the goosebumps appearing on people’s arms as he sung, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, Nina Nesbitt joined him for a special rendition of ‘Rush’, giving fans a taste of what to expect from their tour together later this year.
O2 Academy Bournemouth: Tuesday 30 October Buy Tickets
O2 Institute Birmingham: Saturday 3 November Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Leeds: Wednesday 7 November Buy Tickets
O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Tuesday 13 November Buy Tickets
Having already given themselves a reputation up north for their rowdy live shows, Sheafs took on the New Music Stage as if it were a stadium and certainly gave the crowd a set to remember. With their singer lost somewhere in a mosh pit for much of their set, the rest of the guys delivered scuzzy riffs and proved why they’re a band everyone will be and should be talking about.
Arts Club, Liverpool: Tuesday 13 November Buy Tickets
O2 Academy Sheffield: Friday 16 November Buy Tickets
The worst thing about festivals are the clashes, but despite being put on at the same time as some substantial artists, the flurries of people heading towards the Second Stage for Tom Walker was an impressive sight. Making his name with breakout single, ‘Leave A Light On’, his husky and soulful tones are clearly a firm favourite amongst this crowd. Giving us a taste of his forthcoming debut album, plus a cover of Mike Posner’s ‘I Took A Pill In Ibiza’, this was a performance which stands out as a highlight from the entire weekend.
O2 Ritz Manchester: Sunday 14 October Buy Tickets
O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire: Wednesday 17 October Buy Tickets
O2 Institute Birmingham: Thursday 18 October Buy Tickets
Back over at the New Music Stage and Spring King had the pleasure of taking the headline slot. With their new album, A Better Life only a couple of weeks away, the band were brimming with optimism and positive energy, discussing things like Pete’s upcoming marriage alongside thrashing their way through songs new and old. Their unique setup and easy going stage presence make them a must-see anyway, but with their new material, they’re becoming one of the best guitar bands to hit the mainstream.
O2 Academy Liverpool: Saturday 22 September Buy Tickets
O2 Institute Birmingham: Thursday 27 September Buy Tickets
O2 Forum Kentish Town: Friday 28 September Buy Tickets
O2 Ritz Manchester: Saturday 29 September Buy Tickets
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