Thursday, 9 April 2015

Q&A: Megadog

Q&A with Megadog

As part of Manchester Academy’s celebration of their 25 year anniversary the legendary Megadog party series returns to Manchester on Saturday 21st November with guests Dreadzone, Eat Static and System 7. Ahead of the show we caught up with head honcho Michael Dog.

Firstly can you tell us how Megadog started and how you began putting on parties?

Megadog started in 1985 as a weekly multimedia club night based in North London that was known as Club Dog. The club ran every Friday between September and June for 7 years and was based around trying to recreate the vibe of the free festivals that we and many of our audience went to over the summer months. We featured an eclectic range of bands initially drawn from the space rock, psychedelic and reggae scenes prevalent at the festivals, along with performances by visual performance artists as well as the odd film screening and theatre performance. All this took place in a venue that we completely covered with hangings, false ceilings and projection screens lit with psychedelic oil wheels and cine film loops. As time went on, we expanded the music styles and range of bands that we booked to include world music, all kinds of experimental weirdness and eventually, the new and fast-growing live electronic music scene of the early 1990’s. In 1991 we started promoting occasional events at a bigger venue in North London, which we called ‘Megadog’ to delineate them from our weekly club night. Megadog eventually became a well-attended regular monthly event in it’s own right and consequently we stopped running the weekly Club Dog in 1992. In 1993 we were invited to host the UK’s first live electronic music tour which was known as the Midi Circus. The success of this tour and the solid support that we had at our monthly London event led to us putting together a touring show, which in various forms we toured all over the UK, across Europe and eventually in the US and Japan as well throughout the rest of the 1990’s.

What is your inspiration and vision behind Megadog, what do your parties represent?

The vision for Megadog was to combine the best of the live electronic music scene, with an upfront and eclectic DJ soundtrack, circus performance, state of the art lighting and a high standard of decor production to create a kind of travelling ‘psychedelic circus’. In the early 1990’s, the (live music) gig scene and the DJ-based dance scene were generally separate entities. We felt that there were lots of gig fans who liked dance music but didn’t feel comfortable going to ‘hip’ clubs or raves and lots of dance music fans who were looking for something a little more engaging than just dancing to DJ’s all night! The Midi Circus tour showed us that there was an interest out there for this sort of grand-scale electronic cabaret and that by bringing the show to people’s local venue rather than making them travel to their nearest big city, we seemed to inspire a genuine party vibe amongst our audiences who looked forward to the psychedelic circus coming to their town. If Megadog represented anything at all, it was that like the free festivals that had originally inspired us, the essence of a memorable and uplifting event is the people who are there - musicians, performers, technical crew and audience. Each of us relied on and required all the others to be there to make it feel special and for us, it was never about bigging-up ‘Superstar DJ’s’ and wannabe ‘Rockstars’.

Megadog returns to Manchester Academy in celebration of the venues 25th Anniversary on November 21st. What can we expect from the night?

Hopefully, a faithful recreation of the Megadogs of the 1990’s! A combination of live bands, DJ’s and visual performance coupled with venue decor on a grand scale and a spectacular lighting and video show. Not forgetting of course, the fantastic ‘up for it’ vibe that the audience could always be relied upon to bring with them.

How important has Manchester Academy been in the history of Megadog, what has been one of your favourite shows that you have put on at the venue?

Though we were always based in London and our regular monthly show there was hugely popular, the regular monthly shows in Manchester became a kind of ‘spiritual home’ for us. The fantastic atmosphere and vibe that the Manchester audience brought with them was unique and that in turn, inspired us to keep trying to put together top class shows. So the Manchester Academy shows were for us, hugely important and some of the most memorable of the hundreds that we did. There were so many ‘favourite’ shows because there was such a brilliant array of artists to choose from, many of whom were doing their best work at that time. One of my personal favourites was the show we did with The Psychick Warriors Ov Gaia, one of the most original and creative electronic live acts of that era.

The party series was a formidable force during the 1990’s and was a night that was never afraid to move ahead of the times and push boundaries. Do you think taking risks paid off?

I don’t think we ever thought that we were taking risks! We just programmed the sorts of shows that we’d like to see ourselves and they seemed to always be the sorts of shows that other people wanted to see too.

You have had everyone from Underworld, System 7 and Aphex Twins all headline your shows, who would be your dream headliner?

We were consciously trying to offer a change from the traditional ‘headline’ and ‘support band’ rock music scenario, so we never really saw it that particular bands were the ‘headliners’. We only put bands into our shows that we believed in ourselves, so they were in essence, all headliners. Of course, some bands were better known than others and SOMEBODY always had to play first, but for us, everyone who appeared was an important part of the show that they appeared in.

In fact, the worst people that we worked with were the ones that really did think that THEY were the headliners and that the audience was only there to see THEM! Following on from that, I doubt that I could think of a ‘dream’ headliner as such, but the nearest thing to that would be to put together a bill featuring some of the great bands that we worked with that have since split up. Psychick Warriors of Ov Gaia, Spooky, Earth Nation, Drum Club and Children of the Bong would be quite a nice lineup!

You must have seen a lot of changes in electronic dance music over the years, what has been the one that has made the biggest impact?

The rise and rise of David Guetta, Calvin Harris and EDM.....but not in a good way!

Can you tell us one of your favourite Megadog memories?

Looking down at the dancefloor from the balcony at a gig in Hull whilst The Aphex Twin was playing full pelt madness onstage and Haydn our lighting designer seemed to have turned every strobe in the room up to ’11’ to match the mayhem coming from the stage. I glanced at one of the PA stacks and there was a guy with his top off, hugging the speaker stack in absolute ecstasy, with his head actually inside one of the speaker horns. We used to get quite an enthusiastic sort of audience!

What does the future hold for Megadog?

A regular schedule of tours of retirement homes playing to old ravers in the 2030’s and 2040’s!

Is there anything you would like to say to all your loyal party goers that have supported the shows throughout the years?

Absolutely. A million thank you’s to everyone who supported us over all of those years. The people who came to the shows WERE the shows and without them, there would have been no point in us being there. We wouldn’t have kept on doing Megadog for so many years had it not been for the fantastic and loyal support that we got from so many lovely people.

Live performances from System 7, Dreadzone and Eat Static
DJ Michael Dog and MC T Bag
Doors 9.00pm – 4.00am

Buy tickets for the show HERE

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Q&A: James Arthur

Ahead of his May 2015 UK tour, we caught up with James Arthur for a quick fire Q&A session!

You’re going on tour soon what can the audience expect? 
A high energy performance of a collection of my life's work.

Will you be playing any new material or a mixture of your back catalogue?
I'll be playing a mixture of both.

What is your favourite song to perform live?
Definitely supposed or suicide

When you’re not performing what do you do to keep yourself busy when you’re on tour / on the road?
Writing keeps my mind active during the rigorous your schedule. I also like to play some FIFA with the best and crew when I'm relaxing

Where has been your favourite gig?
I enjoy every show I play, however there was a very special feeling in the air at the Hammersmith Apollo, it's just such a historic venue for me

Which song do you wish you had written?
New Radicals- I Don't Wanna Die Anymore

What’s the best gig you’ve ever played?
V festival as I felt like we turned around the opinions of a lot of uk fans, also capital ball as the chance to play in such a vast venue was an honour

Which other artists are you listening to at the moment?
Lots actually I'm on a real 90's/bands vibe right now, New Radicals, Brand New, The Dykeenies, Taking Back Sunday, Catfish and the Bottle Men, Karima Francis, Lianne Lahavas, and of course Sia, Drake and Kanye are staples for me.

Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Sia definitely, I'm a huge fan of her new album

Plans for the rest of the year?
Release my second studio album, do some more touring and shows, travel as much as I can to reach more people and spread more love

Catch James Arthur at a venue near you this May - BUY TICKETS HERE

Teenage Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall


If you didn't know already, this week marks the 15th anniversary of the always anticipated Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall which includes a star-studded line up of music and comedy. The week long celebration of the incredible work that the Teenage Cancer Trust does every day for young people suffering with cancer, is set to be as impressive as ever with loyal artists like Noel Gallagher, Sterephonics, Paul Weller and of course Roger Daltry CBE returning to perform in front of the sold out crowds. The event has become more than a highlight in Britain's musical calendar with more than 200 artists having graced the legendary stage since the single night that started the fundraising back in 2000. 

The line-up for the week is set to fulfil the expectation of previous years as charity ambassadors take the stage once again to bring awareness of the Teenage Cancer Trust and appreciation for the specialist care that they provide. Last night saw Stereophonics with special guests Gaz Coombes take to the stage with the rest of the schedule as follows:

Tuesday 24th March - An evening of comedy hosted by KEVIN BRIDGES plus very special guests:

Wednesday 25th March - VAN MORRISON plus very special guests

Thursday 26th March - THE WHO plus very special guest WILKO JOHNSON

Friday 27th March - PAUL WELLER plus very special guest JOHNNY MARR

Saturday 28th March - NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS plus very special guests FUTURE ISLANDS

Sunday 29th March - FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS plus very special guests IDLEWILD


Tonight is set to be a specific highlight with the likes of our favourite comedians Noel Fielding, Jon Richardson and Kevin Bridges taking a break from their hectic tour life to put on an unforgettable show once again. It will be Noel Fielding's fifth show since becoming an ambassador in 2009, showing that it is an electric experience not only for the audience but the performers as well. It's sure to be a night you can't miss.

The concerts will definitely end on a high note as Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls will take the stage to produce an electrifying performance as usual, one that will have to be savoured as there doesn't seem to be another UK show lined up as of yet. If his Olympic Games opening ceremony performance is anything to go by then we are bound to be in for a treat. It makes the shows even more valuable to the artist's when, like Turner, he experienced the incredible work at that the Teenage Cancer Trust does in one of their many specialist units for all the young people, many of whom will be in the audience enjoying each and every moment.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015



Loud, Fuzzy and a hell of a lot of energy, that’s exactly what you’d expect from a show from Death From Above 1979 and their latest Manchester visit did not disappoint. The show at one of Manchesters most charismatic venues, the Ritz, was full of atmosphere from the get go. The support band Turbowolf set the night off with a powerful and melodic set, setting the scene for a night full of fuzzy power chords and robust choruses.

As the Canadian rock duo hit the stage, it was clear the crowd were ready for the bands first time back in Manchester since their reunion. Their opening track causing a huge pit to open in the middle of the floor and multiple bodies to run in showing a crowd up for a good time.  The tightness and precision of their live performance meant that fans had the opportunity to really get lost in the music, track after track was played with no deviation from the studio versions. Although no fault could be found with the bands energy and musical it seems as though they were slightly rusty in terms of delivering on point banter in between songs, often opting for silence or an awkward comment or two. However momentum was kept with some songs bleeding into the next which was an effective atmosphere and energy builder.

Although lacking the ability to carry a crowd in the traditional sense Death From Above 1979 do put on a good show. Although slightly rusty in between songs they do have an awkward charm that did keep the crowd laughing. Their music speaks for itself and it is their ability to play it so well that brings people to their shows, which is something you can’t really argue with.  

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Get your mum an experience to remember this Mother's Day!

It’s that time of year again where Mothers day is slowly sneaking up, but don’t panic! With minimal effort you can give your mum an experience to remember. This year you won’t be caught in its midst’s for we have the perfect gift ideas in the form of tickets to some amazing gigs! Blow your siblings gifts of petrol station flowers and bath bombs out of the water with tickets to see one your mums favorites, new and old. 

So pay attention, because a happy mum means a happy you!


Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Introducing... WOLF ALICE

Wolf Alice formed in 2012 and quickly grabbed the attention of the influential world of music blogging in 2013 with their Blush EP. Suddenly there was a serious buzz and this led to impressive support slots with the likes of Peace, Manic Street Preachers and The 1975.

From 2013 the band slowly rose to prominence, gathering a decent support and following along the way but it was only towards the end of 2014 when they really started to get noticed and hit the levels most anticipated from day one. The end of 2014 saw them short-listed for BBC's Sound of 2015 poll and sell out shows in Manchester and London before winning 'Best Breakthrough Band' at the UK Festival Awards after a string of stunning festival performances in the summer.

Now the band have announced that their first full length album will be called 'My Love Is Cool' and although there is no release date pencilled yet, they have premièred the first track from it and it's a stunner! Listen below...

The band head out on their biggest UK tour to date next month, the perfect chance to here some new material ahead of release. You can get tickets HERE.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Q&A: Collabro

2014 was a huge year for Britain's Got Talent winners Collabro, not just winning UK's biggest talent competition but numerous TV appearances including their much talked about Royal Variety Performance and some huge outdoor shows at Windsor Castle and in Brighton.

And now the four-piece group head out on their first full UK tour with fellow BGT star and runner-up Lucy Kay. Having already played a few venues the gleaming reviews have been flooding in! You can get the last few tickets for none sold out venues here:

So we caught up one quarter of Collabro, Matthew Pangan about his tour routines, music choices and more...

1. Since Britains Got Talent whats been the best experience youve had?

There has been so many but one that really stands out is Brighton Pride where we performed in front of 50k people. To have that many people sing Let It Go (Frozen) back to us was just incredible. We performed at Windsor Castle in front of Prince Andrew and Fergie. We also performed in front of Prince Harry and Jonny Wilkinson.  We also performed at the Queens Theatre.

2. With your musical theatre style, would you ever like to do a residency in the West End and Broadway?

Yes definitely, we want Collabro to last as long as we can, but obviously all good things do come to end eventually, but we would all love to do West End or Broadway.

3. As a Group do think you will ever change up your style or would you stick to this genre?

The beauty of musical theatre is that there is so many songs, but then again there only so many songs a musical theatre boy band can do, so what we love doing tis he pop cross overs as well.

4. Whilst on tour do you have any pre dressing room rituals or routines as yet?

Before we go on stage we all put our hands in the middle and shout 1, 2, 3 COLLABRO as our good luck charm. We will always warm up together and have a bit of a team talk. We get on so well, we are always supportive of each other.

5. What do you to keep yourself busy when not on the road?

We all go to the gym. We will also often meet up outside of Collabro and go for a meal/drinks. I like to go out and see a show. Whether its with Collabro or not, we always spend time with each other.

6. Do you have a dressing room playlist? Or are there any artists you are listening to at the moment?

Well actually leading up to a show, we do A-capella and make up harmonies together before we go onstage. If there is a piano, Jamie will sit down and play too. We are however big fans of pop. We like Ed Sheeran, which we think is amazing. One Direction too. There are quite a few artists we love at the moment.

7.  So what can the audience expect on your headline tour?

An all-round massive show.  Its all about songs from the first album and special addition, with a couple of surprises. Weve also got Philippa Hannah opening for us and of course Lucy Kay, which is going to be such a laugh. Lucy is just one of the lads really and youll see that with the banter between us on stage.

8. Whats your favourite song to perform live?

Personally my favourite song to perform live is Anthem from Chess. With it being such a big song and all about your country, its a big number. We stand there and sing it really proudly.

9. Whats your favourite West End Show youve been to or concert?

My favourite show at the minute is Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Our vocal arranger Richard John works on this show. Robert Lindsay is incredible.  Collectively though I would say Les Miserable.

10.  Tell us about the best gig youve played so far?

Obviously performing in front of royalty is moments that you cherish, but Brighton Pride was incredible as we performed in front of such a massive crowd and seeing everyone sing back to us was just a great feeling.

11. In the future who would you most like to collaborate with?

Mine personally would be a guy call Ramin Karimloo. Hes insane. He performed in the 25th Anniversary of Les Miserable as Enjolras.

12. The lovely Lucy Kay is joining you on UK tour, have you seen each other much since BGT?
Yes, we have done a few gigs together including Windsor Castle where we sang Come What May which we will be doing on tour. We are always in contact with her.

13. Will Lucy Kay be taking you out In Glasgow and Edinburgh whilst on tour for a proper Scottish night out?
Oh god, I hope so. No probably not, there isn't going to be room for that carry on.

14. So youve had your album Stars which featured a few festive tunes, have you got over the festive period yet?

Vocally yes. I think we are trying to work hard at the gym to work off some of the xmas dinners. Apart from that we are all good. All fit, healthy and raring to go.

15. Finally following the tour, what plans have you got for the rest of the year?

We have a book coming out called Collabro: Our Story on March 5th about us growing up as individuals and how we got together as a band and our journey. We have a new album released 1st June and well be back on BGT performing in May. 

Plus we will be heading Japan, Australia and America in 2015!  Exciting Times ahead!!