February sees the live music scene in Cambridge really come alive and we have a huge month of events to preview.
We start at the Corn Exchange where two shows get bountiful recommendations from us. Firstly, there is the brilliance of Nils Frahm on the 19th. The Berlin-based pianist and composer makes a much-anticipated return to the live stage following 2017’s hiatus, playing brand new material. Nils Frahm is one of the most talked-about musicians of his generation, at the vanguard of a new wave of composers and performers forging new paths through experimenting with instrumentation and technology. Blending Classical composition with elements of Electronica, his music takes influence as much from the percussive rhythms of the Techno of his native Berlin as Ambient music, Post-Rock and Minimalism.
Next up at the Corn Ex we have the exceptional Franz Ferdinand on the 23rd. The band release their new record ‘Always Ascending’ on the 8th of this month, it’ll be their first album in five years, and their first since the departure of founding member Nick McCarthy. Although the line-up is different, early previews of the record all indicate another gem of a record filled with their unique slice of indie-disco.
February sees us recommend a gig at the Storey’s Field Centre for the first time. The new venue is based on the new North West / Eddington Avenue development in Cambridge. The band in question playing the Storey’s Field Centre on the 22nd are fast rising Manchester quartet, Pale Waves. The band pen glossy pop music with an 80s influenced goth centre and are hotly tipped for a breakout in 2018.
A busy month at the more familiar surroundings of The Portland Arms on Chesterton Road starts with the Pixie styled, riotous, anthemic and bristling pop music of Inheaven on the 1st. Our top Portland Arms tip in February though takes place on the 28th when The Xcerts are in town. The Trio released their fourth album ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ last month and it is a cathartic listen, confirming that the band are pros at writing euphoric anthems about falling in love no matter how bleak the darkness gets.
If you fancy taking in a new band then we recommend Strange Bones at The Portland on the 8th. The Blackpool trio’s feral live show feeds distorted blues riffs through a mangler, a distorted mesh of sound that recalls everything from The Cramps to those early Arctic Monkeys demos.
London four-piece Dead! released their debut LP last month and they bring ‘The Golden Age of Not Even Trying’ to the Portland on the 5th, expect a set that straddles grunge, punk and indie. Fellow Londoners Orphan Colours, the supergroup featuring former members of Noah & The Whale, Ahab and Danny & The Champions of the World, bring their alt-County-cum-Americana to Cambridge on the 10th. Goldblume, Moonstrips and Lemondaze offer the best all Cambridge line up at The Portland this month, this loud night goes down on the 2nd.
Other Portland highlights include sonic pioneer Thomas Traux (15th) the infectious pumping brass driven funk of The Brass Funkeys (17th) alt-country of The Wandering Hearts (19th) and Will Hoge on the 26th.
Brussels-based producer Otto Lindholm employs an array of loop pedals and electronic effects in partnership with his double bass to produce a range of rich and voluptuous tones, emotions, and elongated melodies. Lindholm plays the Boathouse on Sunday 18th, headlining an evening dedicated to the string section – three solo performers using their own preferred member of the violin family in combination with a selection of electronics in curious and delightful ways.
February is a busy one at the Cambridge Junction also with our top pick for February, British Sea Power, taking place on the 15th. It had been four years since we last heard anything from British Sea Power, but tenth album ‘Let The Dancers Inherit The Earth’ released in March last year is every bit the embodiment of empowered pop-rock perfection that its title suggests. The wide-ranging nature of their material has led critics to liken their sound to a variety of groups, from The Cure and Joy Division to the Pixies. Famed for their live shows they are a must see this month.
Yorkshire angular alt-rockers Marmozets are at the Junction on the 6th. The quintet released their sophomore album, ‘Knowing What You Know Now’ last month and it’s a belter and the perfect follow on from their spiky, brilliant beast of a debut LP. Marmozets are fierier than ever, and 2018 looks set to solidify their place as one of the best rock bands in the country.
2017 saw The Amazons cement themselves as one of the year’s biggest success stories of the year. Their self-titled debut album hit No.8 in the official album chart back in May, they packed out tents when they played Reading and Leeds and their last tour sold out far in advance. It looks like 2018 is not going to be any quieter for the quartet, kicking off with another tour and a stop at the Junction on the 8th.
Final tip is at the Corner House. Cambridge outfit Culture CT warm up for their upcoming Berlin shows. They’re joined by fellow Cambridge act, Ugly, who offer a King Krule inspired dark mix of rock. All gate receipts on the night will go towards supporting Silent Front and Bruxa Maria, two bands that were involved in a distressing road accident on their way to Paris last week. Members of both bands sustained serious injuries, but fortunately all survived. A support fund has been set up to help cover medical bills and expenses from the accident, and as well as all money from the door going towards this cause we will also be taking donations on the night.