The Joy Formidable (Photo courtesy of Big Hassle Media; Photo credit: James Minchin)
I’m sure Welsh people are brilliant at many things, but one thing I can definitively add to that list is swearing. Ever so casually. Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, lead singer of The Joy Formidable, gave the 9:30 Club crowd an epic glimpse of that brilliance during their show on April 13th.
One of the first, of many, things she told the mostly packed audience was that “the acoustics are f*cking lovely”. Or when she mentioned she used to live in DC years ago, “it was f*cking great.” Just a wee bit of flair that soon proved to be the norm. And when describing why they loved playing at the 9:30 Club, “They brought us cupcakes and dog biscuits. F*cking dog biscuits!”
The Joy Formidable, who also include Matthew James Thomas on the drums and Rhydian Dafydd on bass, are touring for their third studio album, Hitch.
Marina Diamandis performs at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Oct. 19, 2015. (Photo by Frank Mojica)
I saw Marina and the Diamonds perform twice in 2015, for the fourth and fifth times respectively, in Las Vegas and DC.
The first time in April at the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was a decidedly mature affair. Stopping between showcases at the Coachella Valley Music Festival on Monday, April 13, Marina Diamandis performed in a diva’s gown, meant to seduce us in the moonlight, opening her set with “Bubblegum Bitch” from the 2012 album, Electra Heart. The Welch beauty was staggering — her fantastic voice impossibly perfect and her striking poise formidable.
The second time on Friday, Nov. 6, at the Lincoln Theatre in DC as part of the Neon Nature tour was a decidedly different, albeit still quite enjoyable, experience. As a fully conceived tour stop for her most successful album to date — Froot, released in March 2015 — the tour was designed to take us through three phases of Marina beginning with her first album, 2010’s The Family Jewels, and ending with her third in three acts. The new wave diva didn’t change the content of her songs or some of their overt sexuality, which is often philosophical rather than physical in expression, but her audience on the official tour date was tremendously younger! As an attendee of the two shows, the difference was jarring.
Nonetheless, Marina and the Diamonds — she’s a solo act (Marina) and we are the diamonds — performed her heart out leaping into three different skintight outfits to strut, pout and dance away the evening in a thoroughly memorable concert performance.
Mike Peters on the Strength Tour 2015 in Winchester at The Railway. (Photo courtesy Mike Peters Organization)
Mike Peters of The Alarm spent much of 2014 celebrating the 30th anniversary of his band’s first full-length album, Declaration. In doing so, he made a solo visit to Gypsy Sally’s in Georgetown.
“All in all, Peters put on an incredibly satisfying and entertaining show in a venue well suited for his solo performance and witty recollections,” I reported for the sadly defunct We Love DC on the show, held August 7, 2014.
A little over a year later, Mike is back, celebrating another anniversary! This time around, it’s the 30th anniversary of The Alarm’s second full-length album, Strength. And the celebration takes place locally in a solo show at the Hamilton Live on Tuesday, Sept. 8.
As a “one-man band,” Mike will play the album Strength along with other songs while sharing stories and images to honor the album, his band and their history. The album includes such beloved classics from The Alarm as “Spirit of ‘76” and “Walk Forever by My Side.” The album and much of its material is inspired by Mike’s own fight against cancer.
Watch a somewhat recent acoustic performance of the “Spirit of ‘76” in a video for the song on YouTube:
Mike continues his own cancer fight, but he also fights to help others. Over the last four years, Mike’s Love Hope Strength Foundation:
- found over 1,500 potentially life-saving bone marrow donor matches;
- built the first ever children’s cancer center in Tanzania;
- supported the Bhaktapur Cancer Center in Nepal with life-saving equipment; and
- registered over 90,000 donors through its “Get On the List” program.
Tickets are available online.
The Hamilton Live
Tuesday, Sept. 8