sat 21/01/2017

New Music Reviews

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roy Acuff

kieron Tyler

In 1942, Roy Acuff set up Acuff-Rose Music in partnership with Nashville-based songwriter and talent scout Fred Rose. The new publishing company was dedicated to treating songwriters decently. They would not be cheated out of their copyrights. There would be clear and honest accounting. The contracts offered would have better percentages than rival publishers. There would be no shady deals.

Read more...

David Bowie: The Last Five Years, BBC Two

jasper Rees

It’s been 12 months since the news guy wept and told us: David Bowie, ever out in front, became the first to depart in the year of musical mortality 2016. After the initial lamentations, the memorial tributes have been a mixed bag. Best was the life story stitched together for Radio 4 from a vast back catalogue of audio interviews.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Action Time Vision

kieron Tyler

Sixty-eight tracks into the intriguing Action Time Vision, orthodoxy suddenly gives way to individualism. The two-and-bit discs so far have mostly showcased what passes for notions of punk rock: block-chord guitars, guttersnipe vocals, Ramones-speed rhythms and Clash-style terrace-chant choruses. Suddenly, The Fall’s lurching “Psycho Mafia” suggests the early punk era was not about trying to be same as every other band. Individualism was possible.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mikael Tariverdiev

kieron Tyler

New Year’s Eve has its rituals and, in the Russian-speaking world, watching the 1976 film The Irony of Fate is core to ringing out the old and ringing in the new. A television staple, it has the seasonal status of It’s a Wonderful Life, The Little Shop on the Corner and White Christmas. First seen in Russian homes as a three-hour, two-part small-screen production on the first day of 1976, it was subsequently edited and shown in cinemas.

Read more...

Reissue CD of the Year: Robert Bensick

kieron Tyler

French Pictures in London was a bolt from the blue. Issued in June, four decades after being recorded, it was a previously unknown, unreleased album better than most mid-Seventies rock offerings. It was also better than about 99 percent of albums retrospectively hailed as classics. However, it had escaped attention and its maker was barely heard of.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sun Ra

kieron Tyler

Attempts to steer a straightforward path through the music of Sun Ra have always been hampered by the volume of records issued, their limited availability and trying to work out whether they represent something he had a hand in releasing. Just because an album is in the shops does not necessarily mean it was part of the artist’s own vision of who they are or were.

Read more...

Primal Scream, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

Like the sex life of a long-married couple, it’s not every night that a band who’ve been around for over three decades will catch the unfettered frisson of their wildest moments. For the first half of their set, despite frontman Bobby Gillespie assuring us the just-rendered version of recent single “100% Or Nothing” was “maybe the best ever”, the gig didn’t take off. It was another decent roll in the sack, a band on tour searching for the sweet spot, another rock’n’roll night.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 23 - Kate Bush, Elton John, Black Sabbath and more

thomas H Green

The big news as this year closes is that vinyl sales have brought more money in than downloads. They made £2.4 million compared to the £2.1 million from digital, the eighth consecutive year of growth in vinyl sales. Of course, to a large degree, this is because the youth market very suddenly transferred their affections from downloads to streaming. Which doesn’t make sense to me. If you can’t get a decent connection, you don’t have music. And that’s not even starting in on quality issues.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Gilbert Bécaud

kieron Tyler

Anthologie 1953–2002 is a monster. A 20-disc set spanning almost 50 years, it tracks one of France’s most beloved singers and songwriters. Gilbert Bécaud died in December 2001, but songs from his posthumously released Je Partirai album are included. Fitting, as his music lives on and the release of this box set marks the 15th anniversary of his death.

Read more...

Peter Doherty, O2 Forum Kentish Town

russ Coffey

Now the celebrity-drug-addict phase of Pete Doherty's career seems to be over the question remains as to what sort of artist he really is. After all, Doherty's best material always appeared to be inextricably woven into his chaotic lifestyle. The new album, Hamburg Demonstrations, on the other hand, was apparently recorded entirely drug-free. It's given fans pause for thought about where Doherty-the-phenomenon ends and Doherty-the-talent begins. 

...

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Microcosm

kieron Tyler

Pictured above is Sweden’s Ralph Lundsten. He might look like a guru or mystic but is actually a multi-disciplinary artist most well-known on his home turf for his pioneering electronic music. His first album, 1966’s Elektronmusikstudion Dokumentation 1 (made with Leo Nilson), was issued by national Swedish radio’s own label and recorded at the station’s electronic music studio.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mose Allison, Georgie Fame

kieron Tyler

In 1970, The Who opened their Live at Leeds album with “Young Man Blues”, a hefty version of a song its composer Mose Allison recorded as “Blues” in 1957. Back then, it was the only vocal track on Back Country Suite, an otherwise instrumental blues-jazz album, the Mississippi-born pianist's debut long player. Allison had moved to New York in 1956 and a string of releases followed.

Read more...

Autechre, Royal Festival Hall

joe Muggs

At the Royal Festival Hall the cliché seemed complete. Milling around were white men, white men and more white men – all in their late thirties and older, most looking a little bohemian and a lot geeky, with a few of them a little more hardcore in black bomber jackets, black jeans, black trainers and black baseball caps.

Read more...

The Damned, Brighton Dome, 2016

thomas H Green

The Damned peak early tonight. They never really top a tribalistic crowd sing-along to the song “Ignite” about two-thirds of the way through the evening. Dressed, as ever, like a cool rockabilly undertaker, in aviators with a black glove clutching the Shire Classic-style microphone, frontman Dave Vanian, his face painted cabaret zombie skeletal, prowls the stage, watching the crowd with a wry smile.

Read more...

Wayne Shorter Quartet, Barbican

peter Culshaw

At 83, and with 60-odd years on the road, Wayne Shorter could be forgiven for, in a musical sense, getting the slippers and pipe out and knocking out comfortable versions of his hits, the classic tunes he wrote for Miles Davis among them, like “Footprints” and “Sanctuary”.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Super Furry Animals

kieron Tyler

In 1996, the NME ranked Super Furry Animals’ debut album Fuzzy Logic as the year’s fourth best. It sat between Orbital’s In Sides (number three) and DJ Shadow’s Entroducing. Beck’s Odelay took the top spot and Manic Street Preachers’ Everything Must Go was at two. Fuzzy Logic was on Creation Records and the Oasis-bolstered label’s only other album in the run down-was The Boo Radleys’ C’Mon Kids (15).

Read more...

Crystal Castles, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

Behind and beside Canadian electronic noisies Crystal Castles are lines of strobes which they use relentlessly from the moment they arrive onstage. It’s hard to even look, such is the visual barrage, and when I do, for as long as my retinas can stand, I only see a manic silhouette, flinging itself around, long hair whipping about like a dervish having a fit. As opening song “Concrete” draws to a close, this proves to be pink-maned frontwoman Edith Frances who now, and throughout the whole...

Read more...

Rava / Herbert / Guidi + Murgia, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

There was an Italian flavour to the EFG London Jazz Festival programme at Kings Place on Thursday night. Enrico Rava is an eminent statesman of European jazz, who emerged in the 1960s as a disciple of Miles Davis. He was collaborating with young pianist Giovanni Guidi, also recorded on ECM, though best known for diaphanous soundscapes rather than free jazz at its most raw and bloody.

Read more...

Jim Rattigan's Pavillon, Seven Arts, Leeds

graham Rickson

French horn players active in jazz are thin on the ground: there’s the long-deceased John Graas, and composer and polymath Gunther Schuller’s career took in collaborations with Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie. Unlike most brass instruments, the horn’s bell faces backwards, potentially creating balance and coordination problems.

Read more...

Norma Winstone, Cadogan Hall

peter Quinn

For fans of vocal jazz and fine lyric writing, this 75th birthday concert for the inimitable Norma Winstone offered a treasure trove of riches. From intimate chamber jazz to the gravitas of a full orchestra, the two sets seamlessly blended every aspect of Winstone’s artistry.

Read more...

Elza Soares, Barbican / Calypso Rose, Jazz Café

peter Culshaw

She calls it “dirty samba”. Elza Soares, The Woman at the End of the World - to use the name from her last album - sat on a throne like a warrior from a fantasy sci-fi film at the back of the stage. Her regal, mythic aura has been earned in an epic life story and a series of albums that started in 1960.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 22 - Queen, Gillan, The Pop Group, Joe Fox and more

thomas H Green

The music keeps coming thick and fast. There’s an emphasis on rock this month but, as regular readers will know, theartsdesk on Vinyl has no favoured musical genre. All music is welcome, as long as it’s cut to plastic.

Read more...

Lizz Wright, Cadogan Hall

peter Quinn

There are singers who can dazzle with their technical mastery, those who welcome you into their musical world through a special communicative gift, and those who can traverse genres with absolutely no artifice. Rarest of all are those singers who combine all of the above with a timbral quality that can touch your very soul. Lizz Wright is one such singer.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: REM

adam Sweeting

Good grief, was Out of Time really 25 years ago? This was the seventh studio album from the li'l ole band from Athens, Georgia, and the one with which they finally cracked open the mainstream international market. This was when people still used to buy CDs, and a time when it was still possible for bands to sustain slow-growing careers which built steadily from the ground upwards.  

Read more...

Michael Wollny Trio + Andrew McCormack, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

This rambunctious German-Swiss trio is used to selling out much larger venues at home. Their overdue EFG London Jazz Festival debut, in an enthusiastic but not full Kings Place, introduced British audiences to an exhilarating take on the acoustic jazz trio. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a brilliantly, brutally eclectic ensemble that pushes the language of jazz to new limits of originality, and does so with irresistible energy, and a refreshing sense of fun.

Read more...

Jazz Voice, Royal Festival Hall

peter Quinn

Following the seismic events across the pond earlier this week, an outcome which has left the rest of the world blinking in disbelief, Guy Barker’s brilliant arrangements for this year’s Jazz Voice offered much needed balm for the soul. Creativity, collective endeavour, community: humanity’s finest qualities were in evidence.

Read more...

Billy Bragg & Joe Henry, St Georges Church, Brighton

thomas H Green

The day after Trump won the US presidential election was always going to be an interesting day for a concert by Billy Bragg and his American cohort Joe Henry.

Read more...

Psychic TV, Brixton Jamm

tim Cumming

The last time Genesis Breyer P Orridge was in the UK, it was to touch down and talk about life, art, magic and strange encounters as part of COUM, Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV and PTV3 at the October Gallery's William Burroughs centenary show back in 2015.

Read more...

Supersonic Festival Launch Party, Centrala, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Regular subscribers to the Arts Desk may have noticed a certain view from some of our number that the Glastonbury Festival is the annual musical and social high point of the year in the UK. On this subject, I would beg to differ and instead claim Birmingham’s wilfully uncommercial celebration of the weird and the wonderful, the Supersonic Festival, to be my most eagerly awaited annual sonic celebration.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roy Harper

kieron Tyler

Man & Myth, released in September 2013, was Roy Harper’s best album in two decades. The live shows which came on its back were stunning. Amongst this activity – instead of building on the momentum – he was arrested and charged with historic sexual abuse. Police had contacted him about allegations in February 2013. Following an innocent verdict, all other charges were dropped in November 2015.

Read more...

CD: Cliff Richard - Just... Fabulous Rock 'n' Roll

Liz Thomson

It’s 58 years since “Britain’s answer to Elvis Presley” had his first top 10 hit and now he’s back, and back to his roots, with a new CD, Just… Fabulous Rock ‘n’ Roll, released by Sony with whom, at the grand old age of 76, he has signed a lucrative new contract. And don’t mock. It’s a terrific album: 15 classic songs including a “duet” with Elvis Presley, without whom.

Read more...

Neil Cowley Trio, Union Chapel

Matthew Wright

For more than a decade, Neil Cowley and his trio have built a fervent and substantial following for their prog-jazz compositions of frenetic loops and engaging melodies. With a jazz trio’s organic movement and intimacy allied to a rocker’s bolder rhythm and melody, and touches of contemporary classical piano, his band occupies an important, and underrepresented, space in the repertoire.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Undertones

kieron Tyler

Although the reformed Undertones, with Paul McLoone replacing original singer Feargal Sharkey, have been a popular live draw since 1999, John Peel’s anointing of “Teenage Kicks” from their debut EP as his favourite recording suggests this is what they were about: a single, timeless song.

Read more...

Loudon Wainwright III, London Palladium

jasper Rees

Loudon Wainwright III, a going concern as a singer-songwriter since the start of the Seventies, has long since been occluded by the commercial success of his brood, Martha and Rufus. Their old man is still enough of a draw to pack out the Palladium with just a guitar, a banjo and a back catalogue of cranky songs only he could have composed.

Read more...

CD: Half Man Half Biscuit - And Some Fell On Stony Ground

Matthew Wright

Fans of the Birkenhead post-punk humorists are a patient crowd. It’s been two years since the last album (they haven’t been more frequent since the 1990s) and now followers are rewarded not with new music, but, as the title allusively suggests, a collection of B-sides and EPs that are in some cases hard to find elsewhere. Stony ground indeed.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tim Buckley

kieron Tyler

The period between the October 1966 release of his eponymous debut album and its follow-up, August 1967’s baroque masterpiece Goodbye and Hello, saw Tim Buckley and his label Elektra reconsider how best to help him generate an impact. No matter how strong its songs and how unique his voice, the folk-rock styled Tim Buckley hadn’t been a big seller. Label boss Jac Holzman thought a non-album single would be good marketing tool, paving the way for a second album.

Read more...

Icebreaker and BJ Cole, Milton Court

Helen Wallace

Call it re-analogification, de-digitisation or perhaps just plain reverse-engineering, Icebreaker’s set at Milton Court was all about reclaiming the electronic for hoary-handed instrumentalists. Their skills are well-honed: from Anna Meredith to Steve Martland to Kraftwerk, with an inspired side-order of Scott Walker, they conjured propulsive rhythmic lines and saturated layers of harmony from inauspicious sources – pan-pipes, soprano sax, a single cello, bass drum.

Read more...

On the road with Bob Dylan: the mother of all rockumentaries

mark Kidel

Dont Look Back is the Ur-rockumentary, the template for hundreds of hand-held rock tour films, a source of inspiration as well as a model to aspire to.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 21 - Sex Pistols, J Dilla, Uriah Heep, Hendrix and more

thomas H Green

Autumn arrives and theartsdesk on Vinyl is ready at the turntables with a vital selection to kick out the drizzle and seasonal blues. Now in a more toned, slimmed down form, we offer 30 reviews that pinpoint the very best new vinyl available, regardless of genre. Lovers of music, from gentle jazz to detonating death metal will find something worth trying.

Various DJ Amir Presents Buena Musica Y Cultura (BBE)

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Shaggs

kieron Tyler

“The Shaggs are real, pure, unaffected by outside influences. Their music is different, it is theirs alone.” So began the liner notes to Philosophy of the World, The Shaggs' sole album. Not many people read the words or heard the music when it was pressed in 1969. Only 100 copies were made. It was meant to be 1000, but a murky business deal meant the balance of 900 never showed up.

Read more...

The Passion of Joan of Arc, Wells Cathedral

mark Kidel

Wells Cathedral, masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is distinguished by relatively intimate scale: a perfect place to present Carl Dreyer’s 1928 classic and visually arresting account of the trial and burning of Joan of Arc. The screen was hung in front of the massive “St Andrew’s Cross”, the almost modernist bracing arches – a backdrop of immense presence that complemented the compellingly architectural look of the film.

Read more...

Jean-Michel Jarre, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

If this review had a subtitle, it would be “Rave in the Mausoleum”. Jean-Michel Jarre threw everything he had at the crowd – state of the art lightshow, earthquake-level bass, eardrum-shattering decibels, remixed greatest hits, thumping kick-drums, retina-frazzling lazers and more – but the audience remained politely, firmly seated.

Read more...

Songlines Music Awards, Barbican

tim Cumming

Four headliners, one bill – Sam Lee, Debashish Bhattacharya, Songhoy Blues and Mariza: it was an impressive line-up at the Barbican for a Monday as the world and folk music magazine Songlines hosts its annual awards bash. Now, these are readers’ awards, with nary an expert in sight when it comes to choosing the winners.

Read more...

Oasis in Their Own Words, BBC iPlayer

Bernadette McNulty

Trying to pip the release of Mat Whitecross’s documentary Supersonic to the post, this brief hack through the BBC’s archive throws together a galloping overview of Oasis’s rise and fall, narrated by their own interviews and quotes. Arguably Oasis built a career on the consistent entertainment value of their soundbites rather than the long-term quality of their songs, so this wasn’t exactly a hard search, nor does it throw up anything you hadn’t heard before.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Les Panties

kieron Tyler

What should a band called Les Panties sound like? Melodic, Ramones-like pop-punk? Dirty garage rock a la early White Stripes? From the name, either surmise seems reasonable. In the event, what reverberates through this incongruously named Brussels band is a love of cold wave, the Gallic take on post-punk.

Read more...

Ana Moura, Barbican

markie Robsonscott

“If someone asked me what fado is,” says Ana Moura, in her introduction to “Lilac Wine”, “I would tell them that it means something like this song.” And with its notes of sadness, yearning and loss – fado means destiny or fate – this classic number is a beautiful way for her to connect a London audience with the melancholy Portuguese genre.

Read more...

Tubular Brass play Tubular Bells, Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

graham Rickson

Sandy Smith’s brass band transcription of Tubular Bells is an improbable triumph. He draws heavily on composer David Bedford’s 1970s orchestral arrangement, along with Mike Oldfield’s two recorded versions. Musically the work holds up very well. But the original 1973 LP sounds distinctly murky in places: this was a live performance in which every strand was audible.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: John Foxx

kieron Tyler

In 1985, John Foxx released In Mysterious Ways: his fourth solo album since leaving Ultravox in 1979. In 1980, he had charted with “Underpass”, his first solo single. Subsequently, he charted a path where frosty, anomie-filled electropop gave way to the warmth of “Europe After the Rain” and the Beatles-inspired psychedelia of “Endlessly”. The 1983 album The Golden Section was his most straightforwardly poppy to date.

Read more...

David Gilmour, Royal Albert Hall

russ Coffey

A single guitar note rang out over smouldering synth-chords. It was bent up a tone and then wavered in the air before gracefully falling. And so began the final residency of the Rattle That Lock tour. No hype. No support act. Just David Gilmour and his all-star band looking back on his long and prestigious career. At least that's how the programme described it. For everyone else this was Pink Floyd resurrected.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Chess Records Soul, Little Richard

kieron Tyler

Chicago’s Chess Records first made waves in the Fifties with a raft of records which included future classics integral to defining the urban slant on blues music. Early in the decade, the label issued singles by John Lee Hooker, Memphis Slim, Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. They also issued Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88”, one of the building blocks of rock ‘n’ roll and brought Bo Diddley to a wide audience.

Read more...

Sinne Eeg / Cathrine Legardh, Pizza Express Jazz Club

Matthew Wright

It’s fair to say that vocal jazz ranks modestly in British awareness of Danish culture, certainly below the instrumental music and the phenomenon of the moment, the cable-knit-sporting detective Sarah Lund. Which is a shame, because this second event in Pizza Express’ week-long festival illustrated the variety and strength of that country’s scene very effectively.

Read more...

Modulus Quartet, Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe

david Nice

"Total immersion", the term used for the BBC Symphony's one-composer days, takes on a whole new meaning in the Thames Tunnel Shaft now transformed – but fortunately not subject to makeover – under the mantle of Rotherhithe's Brunel Museum.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tamam Shud

kieron Tyler

In 1969, the Australian band Tamam Shud improvised as a film  was projected onto the wall of a recording studio. The results were heard on the Evolution album. Playing original music live to accompany a film screening isn’t commonplace these days but eyebrows are no longer raised when it happens. Pere Ubu have played along with Carnival of Souls and It Came From Outer Space. Mogwai have done the same for the documentary Atomic.

Read more...

Barenaked Ladies, Roundhouse

markie Robsonscott

Lead singer and frontman Ed Robertson launches into a BNL-in-London rap, extolling the Roundhouse, “where they used to turn trains”, as well as the glories of Camden Market’s liquid-nitrogen ice-cream bar.

Read more...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years

james Woodall

It could be a book, film, TV or radio piece, essay or exhibition. If it’s about or based on The Beatles, the question is always the same: how on earth can anything new be said? In the case of Ron Howard’s Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, surprisingly quite a lot, is the answer.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Beach Boys

kieron Tyler

The Beach Boys signed with Capitol Records on 24 May 1962. Early the next month, their first single for the label became “409”/”Surfin’ Safari”. It was not their debut release. The “Surfin'”/ “Luau” single had been issued in November 1961 by Candix.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 20 - Ramones, Freddie Mercury, Pet Shop Boys and more

thomas H Green

Once again theartsdesk on Vinyl returns to offer a round-up of the very best available on plastic, covering every style imaginable and, this month, a few that have to be heard to be believed. From albums to 7” singles to boxsets, all vinyl life is here. The ultimate vinyl reviews selection.

Various Eleven into Fifteen: a 130701 Compilation (130701)

Read more...

Prom 61: Kamasi Washington

Matthew Wright

Californian saxophone phenomenon Kamasi Washington is never knowingly understated. He rocked up for his Proms debut on Tuesday night having led a vast musical entourage on tour across Europe all summer, and delivered an ecstatic, if occasionally verbose, statement of intent. There were problems with both the performance and one or two of the compositions. But as a live experience, it was, in places, euphoric. Only a determined curmudgeon could leave without a grin.

Read more...

Björk Digital, Somerset House

Tina Edwards

Australia and Japan were first to host Björk Digital, but it lands at London’s Somerset House with fresh, never-before-seen work. The immersive virtual reality exhibition collates several digital- and film-based works born from Björk's critically acclaimed album Vulnicura.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Shambala Festival 2016

Caspar Gomez

The Short Version

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Judy Henske & Jerry Yester

kieron Tyler

In 1969, a tranche of American musicians looked back to the country’s past for inspiration. Bob Dylan followed John Wesley Harding with Nashville Skyline. The Band’s eponymous second album hit the shops. The Flying Burrito Brothers debuted with The Gilded Palace of Sin. The rootsy was a default. But choosing to draw on country and Appalachian traditions did not have to mean playing it straight.

Read more...

Prom 49: Quincy Jones Prom, Royal Albert Hall

Andrew Cartmel

As I waited outside the entrance to the Royal Albert Hall, someone leaned over to me and said: “My cocaine is to your left.” I glanced in that direction and realised they’d actually said “Michael Caine is to your left”, and indeed he was, on his way inside to hear a prom devoted to music by his old friend Quincy Jones. It’s hard to know where to begin with Jones’s musical CV.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Betty Davis, Jeanette Jones

kieron Tyler

Despite their different paths in the Seventies, the final years of the Sixties saw parallels between Betty Davis and Jeanette Jones. Both soul singers had significant backing from music business insiders. Late in the decade, each had a discography limited to one unsuccessful single. They worked as models.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Heartworn Highways

kieron Tyler

Although Heartworn Highways was a unique document of a collection of country singer-songwriters who had rejected the Nashville establishment in favour of following their own paths, hardly anyone saw the film after its completion. Initially titled New Country, it was first seen at a Los Angeles film festival in 1977. Renamed Outlaw County, it was then screened in Muncie, Indiana and Flint, Michigan.

Read more...

Prom 36: Jamie Cullum Prom

peter Culshaw

Jamie Cullum has been perceived as the Tim Henman of Jazz. Talented, technically great, a successful career, excellent voice and top-notch pianist, and a nice guy you could take to tea with your mum, but not really challenging or world-beating. Yet there were interesting flashes of greatness in last night’s concert.

Read more...

Proms at...Cadogan Hall: Hardenberger, Gruber, ASMF

david Nice

Superior light music with a sting, done at the highest level: what could be better for a summer lunchtime in the light and airy Cadogan Hall? Our curator was that most collegial of top soloists, trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger. He'd invited colleagues of many nations, all of them first rate, but it was almost a given that chansonnier-composer HK Gruber would steal the show.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jerry Ross

kieron Tyler

A two-bar flurry of guitar lays the table for a skip-along beat, handclaps, and an arrangement and melody akin to Martha and the Vandellas’ March 1964 single “In my Lonely Room”. This though was not a Motown production and did not tell the story of a girl so distraught at her boyfriend’s dalliances that all she could do was take to her lonely room and cry. On “The 81”, Candy & the Kisses sang of a dance craze for anyone “tired of doing the monkey, tired of doing the swing.”

Read more...

Campo Sancho 2016

Barney Harsent

“Ooooh, it’s gorgeous!” exclaimed my wife-to-be as we arrived at what had been described as “an oasis in Hertfordshire.” They weren’t kidding, either. The site for the inaugural festival organised by Notting Hill Carnival stalwarts Sancho Panza couldn’t have been more different from West London if it tried. In place of terraced houses there were wall-to-wall trees, the only flyover was the sound of planes headed for Luton across an open sky.

Read more...

Standon Calling: Suede/Jess Glynne/Anna Calvi

Katie Colombus

For anyone who suffers from FIFOMO (festival-induced-fear-of-missing-out), Standon Calling is ideal. It’s like a pocket-sized version of Latitude, borrowing the Big Top and the mix of modern music with nostalgic pop acts, or Wilderness, borrowing the purple domed stage, the need for hot tubs and gastronimical treats. It has the feel of an epic house party, being set in the grounds of a 16th-century manor house 30 miles north of London.

Read more...

Camp Bestival 2016

thomas H Green

Camp Bestival, curated by DJ Rob da Bank, has taken place at Lulworth Castle in Dorset since 2008. It’s now an institution of sorts, rammed to the gills with ageing ravers pulling around colourfully decorated trollies and paying over the odds for “reimagined Eritrean street food” and the like. It is, as I’ve written many times before, the Waitrose of festivals but that’s no bad thing.

Read more...

WOMAD 2016, Charlton Park

peter Culshaw

Nestling amid the area in the woods where they have the gong baths and the kora-makers and back massages was an art installation by Graeme Miller - basically, you lay back on a trolley while an intern/elf pushed you through the woods while you ponder the underside of leaves and the sky. WOMAD does give you a different perspective anyway - a welcome respite from post-Brexit, pre-Trump xenophobia - and as a live celebration of global musical treasures it remains unmatched.

Read more...

The Impossible Gentlemen, Pizza Express Jazz Club

Sebastian Scotney

"Jazz,” said Keith Jarrett once, “is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple." For an audience, it produces a never-to-be repeated event: yes, you were there, and you didn’t miss it. One of the pleasures of seeing a group at the peak of contemporary jazz like The Impossible Gentlemen is to witness that joyous, open-minded and defiant spirit.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Simple Minds

kieron Tyler

As the album featuring Simple Minds’ first Top Twenty single, “Promised You a Miracle”, 1982’s New Gold Dream (81-82-83-84) was aptly titled. After the success of the next single “Glittering Prize”, it hit number three in the album charts. Five albums in and three years after their first single, Simple Minds were indeed touching gold.

Read more...

Prom 19: David Bowie Prom

jasper Rees

“I’m here, I’m here, I’m here,” sang John Cale in the droning voice of Major Tom. Whether the spirit of David Bowie was indeed hovering over the Albert Hall for this impromptu memorial late-night Prom is not easily answered. The shape-shifting Bowie who stayed ahead of the game was honoured in a set lasting nearly two hours and covering 47 years of music-making from 1969 to 2016.

Read more...

Detroit: Techno City, Institute of Contemporary Arts

joe Muggs

Detroit techno music is important. Any student of the club music of the modern age knows this. The sound that fermented among the majority black population of the decaying industrial city in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as disco's last remnants fused with the avant-garde experiments of Europeans who were first getting their hands on synthesisers and drum machines, went on to change the world.

Read more...

FEWS, Prince Albert, Brighton

thomas H Green

The indie scene isn’t currently enjoying a peak period but FEWS’ debut album, Means, which came out a couple of months back, makes as close a case for tight, post-punk guitar songs played by skinny guys as anything released this year. Part of this is undoubtedly down to producer Dan Carey, whose work with multiple acts, from Bat For Lashes to Kate Tempest to Bloc Party, shows he knows how to capture the best of an artist.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 19 - Sisters of Mercy, Peter Gabriel, Solomun and more

thomas H Green

This month we’re just going to get straight into it. It’s summer, the sun's out, no time for waffle, just slap a disc on the turntables and wallow in the richness of the sound. Below 42 vinyl releases are reviewed, with no genre boundaries maintained. There should be something there for everyone. Dig in.

Eerie Eerie (Tee Pee)

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bitori, Space Echo

kieron Tyler

Since achieving international success in the final years of the 1980s, the late Cesária Évora has dominated much of globe’s perception of music from the Cape Verde (officially Cabo Verde). This fascinating pair of releases reveal other aspects which may not have caused similar world-wide waves. Crucially, they're hugely enjoyable.

Read more...

Becca Stevens Band, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

Matthew Wright

Becca Stevens’ limpid, luscious and artful fusion of Appalachian folk, jazz and indie rock found a perfectly empathetic setting in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, in an inspired choice for Lauren Laverne’s Wonder Women series of summer gigs. Stevens’ band began honing their connoisseur's stylistic melting pot more than a decade ago, and has been a fixture on the New York scene for some years. As she begins to make a name over here, British audiences are due for a treat.  

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Hollywood Brats

kieron Tyler

July last year saw the publication of Sick on You: The Disastrous Story of Britain’s Great Lost Punk Band, Andrew Matheson’s chronicle of his band The Hollywood Brats. The essential book was impossible to put down. It took in picaresque encounters with Sixties pop star and songwriter-turned impresario Chris Andrews, Andrew Loog Oldham, Keith Moon, Cliff Richard, a pre-Sex Pistols Malcolm McLaren and more.

Read more...

Stevie Wonder, Hyde Park BST Festival

Sebastian Scotney

Sixty-five thousand people came to Wonder. The final night of British Summer Time in Hyde Park was a sell-out. With a performance lasting four hours including an intermission, the Detroit-born legend and his band – and also the weather, which stayed fine all evening - can have left nobody disappointed. The show, based on the album Songs in the Key of Life, with some extra off-piste excursions, was thoroughly convincing live. It just works very well, and on several levels. 

Read more...

Mumford & Sons, Hyde Park BST Festival

markie Robsonscott

At Mumford & Sons’ air-punchingly rousing concert at the Hyde Park festival, thoughts of Brexit start to intrude. Those “Little Lion Man” lyrics, for example – so apposite, surely.  “Weep for yourself, my man/You'll never be what is in your heart/Weep, little lion man/You're not as brave as you were at the start… I really fucked it up this time.” And those giant inflatable bananas that people are waving – is that a subtle reference to EU fruit quality standardisation?

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Kris Kristofferson

kieron Tyler

If Kris Kristofferson had just been the writer of “Help Me Make It Through the Night”, “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”, his legacy would have been assured. Each song is a classic, and each is wonderful. Elvis Presley and Gladys Knight & the Pips ensured that “Help Me Make It Through the Night” would live forever. Kristofferson’s ex-girlfriend Janis Joplin did the same with “Me and Bobby McGee” – the writer did not initially know she had recorded it.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Love Supreme Festival 2016: Kamasi Washington, Esperanza Spalding and Stanley Clarke

Thomas Rees

“Can you take a picture of us looking really middle-aged?”

Two woman in their forties are enjoying the sunshine on the opening afternoon of Love Supreme, sipping prosecco from the comfort of their fold-up camping chairs as a charismatic, vapour-voiced Lianne La Havas launches into “Unstoppable”. I watch them scroll through the photos I’ve taken and collapse into fits of giggles. The funny thing is though, they fit right in. They’re doing this festival as it was meant to be done.

Read more...

Burt Bacharach, Royal Festival Hall

Andrew Cartmel

The year 1987 was a notable one in music history. In February, Burt Bacharach won the Grammy for best song with “That’s What Friends Are For”, and two months later Joss Stone was born in England. At the age of 17 Stone would be nominated for three Grammies of her own, and at 19 would become a winner. She remains a platinum-selling singer and songwriter at the top of her game.

Read more...

Carole King performs Tapestry, Hyde Park BST Festival

joe Muggs

If last night made anything clear it's that some things are still some way beyond the reach of hipster reappropriation. The audience in Hyde Park for Carole King was 99% white and middle-aged, with the very few younger people scattered about appearing to be teenagers there with their parents.

Read more...

Walk Off The Earth, 02 Academy Brixton

Katie Colombus

For a self-made band that found success via the creation of quirky, imaginative YouTube videos spread via social media, there's a level of expectation regarding the same kind of creativity in their live shows. But in  fact Canadian indie band Walk Off The Earth's REVO tour experience is a very simple one. 

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Pink Floyd

kieron Tyler

Pictured above is the label of an exceptionally important Pink Floyd record issued last November. Only a thousand people bought a copy. That was the amount that hit shops. Pink Floyd 1965: Their First Recordings was a double seven-inch set with a historic importance inversely proportionate to its availability. It was the first ever outing for the earliest recordings by the band and, as such, the earliest compositions for them by its prime songwriter Syd Barrett.

Read more...

Pat Metheny, Ronnie Scott's

Thomas Rees

£100 – £175 is a lot of money to pay for two hours of music, but that’s what it cost to see Pat Metheny at Ronnie Scott’s this week.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2016

Caspar Gomez

Not every Glastonbury can be blazing summer. 2016 was hard work, with real world gloom permeating the already damp party bubble. But, as your teachers used to say, you only get out what you put in. The only way to take things was to go hard or go home, no quarter given and pay later.

Read more...

The Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, with Damon Albarn & Guests, RFH

Dylan Moore

Before playing a version of  “Out of Time”, the lead single from Blur’s 2003 album Think Tank, Damon Albarn explains that “at Glastonbury, it really was out of time: there was a problem with our monitors and we were about a bar a half out.” Last night’s rendition at Royal Festival Hall was not perfect, but the Syrian National Orchestra’s backing was enough to earn a fist pump from Albarn, who skipped off the stage theatrically as if to underline his pleasure.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wake Up You!

kieron Tyler

It begins with “Never Never Let Me Down” by Formulars Dance Band. “You’re the only good thing I’ve got,” declares the singer of a garage-band answer to The Impressions over a rough-and-ready backing where a shuffling mid-tempo groove is driven along by wheezy organ and scratchy lead guitar. When the band unites to sing harmonies, the massed vocal is distorted: a sure sign of an overloaded microphone.

Read more...

Sónar Barcelona 2016

joe Muggs

A few beers down, in the middle of a crowd listening to music you love, you tend not to think of the latest news story as your highest priority. But Britain's relationship to Europe weighs heavy on the mind these days, and when the news of the violent attack on Jo Cox started filtering through as we danced under the Catalan sun on Thursday afternoon, it threw the nature of Sónar festival into relief.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 18 - Star Wars, Plaid, Air, Fog, 18+ and more

thomas H Green

For new, independent artists, access to putting music on vinyl can seem daunting, especially to those who’ve grown up in the era of virtual music. There are schemes out there to counter this, notably the VF Selects programme, wherein the self-explanatory Vinyl Factory, together with FACT online magazine and the crowd-funding site Born.com, offer an opportunity. Between these organizations, the weight of funding, production and promotion is carried.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lust for Life

kieron Tyler

Punk rock, or what’s touted as punk rock, is practically inescapable right now. In London, a series of events tagged as Punk.London: 40 Years of Subversive Culture includes concerts by reanimated bands, exhibitions and film seasons. Backers include the British Fashion Council, the British Film Institute and the Design Museum. The Mayor of London is an official supporter. Sponsorship has come from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Read more...

Found Festival 2016, Brockwell Park

Caspar Gomez

Found Festival 2016 got a couple of things right. The choice of music-makers was solid and the broad cross-section of friendly people who attended was admirable. But, unfortunately, everything else went wrong. Worst of all was the behaviour of the security team who, by the end of the day, had become hi-viz-jacketed herds of power-dizzy bullies, marauding around the site.

Read more...

Laura Mvula, Festival of Voice, Cardiff

Dylan Moore

Laura Mvula talks almost as much as she sings. Between songs she confesses to rambling, but her musings – on heartbreak, on “toilet analogies” for the recording process, on meeting the Duke of Edinburgh and then falling over – are never less than disarmingly engaging. At times it verges on stand-up comedy. Mostly, she simply reveals aspects of herself: charismatic, sassy, down-to-earth, a girl from Birmingham with an incredible gift.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Folque, Undertakers Circus

kieron Tyler

The names may be unfamiliar, but Folque and Undertakers Circus are as good as better-known bands. Despite being musical bedfellows neither Norwegian band is as esteemed as, say, Trader Horne and Trees or Colloseum and Lighthouse. Folque issued their eponymous debut album in 1974. Despite line-up changes, the band was active until 1984. Undertakers Circus issued two albums, the first of which was 1973’s Ragnarock. The original band ran out of steam around 1976.

Read more...

AC/DC, Olympic Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Park

russ Coffey

The accepted wisdom from last month's relaunched Rock or Bust tour was that the substitution of Axl Rose for incapacitated singer Brian Johnson was as masterful as it was surprising. Whatever the Guns N' Roses man lacked in mischief, the story went, he made up for with malevolent energy. Now, though, it's been over a month of the new band. So is Axl still brimming with curdled anger?

Read more...

Malcolm Middleton, The Lexington

thomas H Green

The Scottish singer-songwriter Malcolm Middleton has always had a restless creativity, right back to his days in the Bukowskian indie duo Arab Strap. He announced a few years ago that he was sick of playing solo gigs, expected to strum an acoustic guitar and delve into his mordant back catalogue.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Adam and the Ants

kieron Tyler

Adam Ant was one of the few who saw Sex Pistols’ first live show. On 6 November 1975, his band Bazooka Joe was playing Charing Cross Road’s St Martin’s School of Art. They found an uninvited support band had gatecrashed the evening. The impact of the interlopers on the then Stuart Goddard wasn’t instant, but he would go on to form The B-Sides and, then, Adam and the Ants, whose manager became Jordan, who worked at Malcolm McLaren’s King’s Road shop SEX.

Read more...

John Cale, Festival of Voice, Cardiff

Dylan Moore

“Are you enjoying Wales, John?” shouts a fan, eventually. Our returning hero has remained taciturn and all but static at his keyboard throughout an epic show that spans one of popular music’s most interesting and influential careers. Cale affects to have misheard. “Am I rejoining Wales?” he ponders. “I certainly hope so. I feel like I’m rejoining every time I’m here.”

Read more...

Common People Festival 2016, Southampton

thomas H Green

Rob da Bank’s Faustian pact with the weather gods continues apace with the second year of Common People, which takes place simultaneously in Southampton and Oxford. The forecast for days beforehand had predicted a cold front bearing relentless drizzle but, in the event, wellies were left packed away as the elements chose instead to offer blazing summer sunshine for the 30,000 revellers who attended the festival's second day at Southampton.

Read more...

Brighton Festival: Beth Orton, Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts

Matthew Wright

Beth Orton’s sparsely ethereal new collection Kidsticks has been well received for marking an interesting change of direction. Last night’s Brighton Festival gig gave audiences the best of both, beginning with most of the new songs, then climaxing with some old favourites that evoked her rockier past.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Death and Vanilla

kieron Tyler

Last May, Malmö trio Death and Vanilla issued the To Where the Wild Things are album and it seemed they had arrived as a fully formed post-Broadcast proposition, harmoniously fusing vintage influences like the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Italian giallo soundtracks and The United States of America.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 17 - Paul McCartney, Moby, Grace Jones and more

thomas H Green

News just in that the vinyl soundtrack to Star Wars: The Force Awakens will feature holograms that can seen as the record is played, if a light is shone upon it. It seems that every month there’s a similarly bizarre development in the many ways that vinyl is returning to the public eye. It’s now commonplace for Graham Norton to introduce the musical guests on his TV show by waving about a vinyl copy of their new album, something unthinkable even a year ago.

Read more...

The Burning Hell, Oslo

kieron Tyler

“We’ve been visiting libraries on this tour and it’s a lot of fun learning people still read.” The words of The Burning Hell’s main man Mathias Kom before launching into “Give Up” stress he and his band are not typical rock‘n’rollers. “Give Up” itself is the rollicking song-story of a call-centre worker who goes to a library, finds inspiration in Herman Melville and then meets a mysterious woman who rings in. She gives him a poster of a kitten captioned “Never Give Up”.

Read more...

Brighton Festival: Haçienda Classical, The Dome

thomas H Green

Of all the nostalgia-fests, of all the retro events, those that involve rave culture have the wildest sense of glee. The atmosphere in the Dome tonight, before a note has even been played – just as when The Prodigy hit this city last year – dials the anticipation levels up to delirious.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Manic Street Preachers

kieron Tyler

“Over the horizon they come; the anniversaries; joyous, arduous, remorseless.” The opening words of Stuart Maconie’s fine, nuanced essay in the book accompanying this 20th-anniversary reissue of Manic Street Preachers’ fourth album acknowledge the inescapable fact that today’s heritage rock industry is indeed largely about anniversaries and their close cousin the reunion. Bands tour to air one of their past albums in track-by-track order.

Read more...

Brighton Festival: Laurie Anderson - Slideshow, Brighton Dome

nick Hasted

Brighton Festival’s guest director speaks in a sort of rapid-fire drawl, ideal for her debut as a stand-up comic, which she claims was tonight’s Plan A. This half-century veteran of performance art is more slippery than that, proffering a discursive, unreliable, funny and profound master-class in shaggy-dog philosophy, with the festival’s theme of home at its arguable core.

Read more...

Brighton Festival: Laurie Anderson – Song Conversation, Brighton Dome

Heidi Goldsmith

The foyer of Brighton Dome for Brighton Festival director Laurie Anderson’s Song Conversation would have had a PR executive flummoxed; from punks in their 20s licking the rim of a plastic pint to a hobbling couple clutching programmes. The breadth of audience is surely a testament to Anderson’s unique career of performances combining pop melodies with countercultural performance art.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bernard Herrmann

kieron Tyler

“Ladies and gentlemen, in view of the controversy already aroused the producers of this film wish to re-emphasise what is already stated in the film: that there is no established scientific connection between mongolism and psychotic or criminal behaviour”. With these opening words, Twisted Nerve instantly defined itself as a film out to attract attention. Despite this questionable exploitation aspect, the genuinely unsettling 1968 work is ripe for reassessment.

Read more...

Album Special: Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool

Caspar Gomez

In the whole of Britain there are only seven music journalists who are officially designated, card-carrying “Non-Fans of Radiohead”. In 2007 three of them were banished by the National Council of Music Writers to a small Crofting community in Caithness where they write occasional apologetic blogs for their anti-Yorke-ist stance. I know one of the other guys. He has a very hard time of it.

Read more...

Lush, The Roundhouse

joe Muggs

It's peculiar seeing any band come back together after a serious length of time, but when that band were part of your adolescence the cognitive dissonance is exponentially increased.

Read more...

Brighton Festival: Tindersticks, Brighton Dome

Bella Todd

Tindersticks certainly know how to instill a mood. Outside the Dome Concert Hall the start of the Brighton Festival is in full swing, with a proliferation of tents, parades and shiny happy tourists drinking in the sun. Inside, Stuart Staples is singing “don’t let me suffer” in a wracked warble to a video of a lone woman floating naked in a distorted swimming pool.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Associates

kieron Tyler

Any appreciation of Scotland’s The Associates is coloured by the knowledge that Billy MacKenzie took his own life at age 39 in January 1997. More than his band’s voice, he personified their unique approach to music. Between 1979 and 1982, with collaborator Alan Rankine, he created a string of vital records which defy genre pigeonholing and define their vehicle The Associates as one of Britain’s most wilful pop acts.

Read more...

Donovan, London Palladium

adam Sweeting

"Sunshine came softly through my window today..." How fortuitous that veteran Scottish tunestrel Donovan should have picked London's glorious first day of summer to stage his "Beat Cafe" event at the Palladium. The plan was to rove across his back catalogue to celebrate his 70th birthday (which actually falls on Tuesday) as well as his half-century in the music business.

Read more...

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, Barbican

peter Culshaw

In which two of the biggest beasts of Brazilian music played in tandem (and it was often playful) sparred with each other and revealed despite being rivals, how close they have been and remain.

Read more...

Chris Cornell / Fantastic Negrito, Royal Albert Hall

Matthew Wright

Bold programming always deserves credit. Last night’s Royal Albert Hall audience enjoyed an unusually piquant blend, as grunge-rocker turned soloist Chris Cornell on his Higher Truth album tour was paired with upstart bluesman Fantastic Negrito, known to his mum as Xavier Dphepaulezz, a spicier and more political performer who has invested the growling spirituality of old-time blues with an edge of punky protest.   

Read more...

theartsdesk in Denmark: Ambition and Attack in Aalborg and Aarhus

kieron Tyler

Denmark is casting a shadow in a way it has not done before. The international success of Copenhagen’s Lukas Graham is unprecedented. While Aqua, The Ravonettes, Efterklang and Trentemøller are amongst the great Danes who have made international waves musically, Graham has trumped them all to become a surprise world-wide bestseller with the single “7 Years”.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Move, The Yardbirds

kieron Tyler

The figures are approximate, but the Yardbirds’ first studio album has been issued on CD at least 12 separate times. With The Move, their debut album and its follow-up Shazam have each had a comparatively paltry eight outings on CD. As for vinyl editions, setting aside the UK originals in mono and stereo and contemporaneous worldwide pressings, similar quantities of reissues of the three albums have hit shops from the mid-Seventies onwards.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 16 - Santana, Yeasayer and loads more

thomas H Green

The recent Alien Day was a contrived event designed to sell as much tat related to the Alien film franchise as possible. However, it had one intriguing side effect. Seventy-five copies of the soundtrack to the second film, Aliens, appeared on liquid-filled vinyl, created by New York artist Curtis Godino. These strange artefacts are pictured above.

Read more...

The Fall, The Garage

tim Cumming

It's the first night of The Fall's four-night residency at The Garage in Highbury, north London, a suitably small venue to get the full visceral rub of the current group – Elena Poulou on keyboards, guitarist Peter Greenaway, drummer Keiron Melling, and bassist Dave Spurr.

Read more...

Unamplifire Festival, The Master Shipwright's Palace, Deptford

tim Cumming

Set in the grounds and rooms of the Master Shipwright’s Palace on the Thames at Deptford, Unamplifire brought together more than 30 artists over eight hours, with new and ancient folk and world music stirring from the riverside wing of the building – a stripped-to-the-plaster-and-floorboards palace, one you might find yourself in after a revolution.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Close to the Noise Floor

kieron Tyler

The immediate reaction to Close to the Noise Floor is “Why hasn’t anyone done this before?” This new four-disc set’s subtitle captures its objective in a nutshell: to collect Formative UK Electronica 1975–1984 – excursions in proto-synth pop, DIY techno and ambient exploration.

Read more...

Manu Dibango & the Soul Makossa Gang, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Wright

It’s a nice dilemma. Cameroonian saxophonist and band leader Manu Dibango, who has a Ronnie’s residency ending tonight, helped create the disco sound with his 1972 single “Soul Makossa”. Since then he has ranged over the extended Afro-soul-funk-jazz family of genres with insouciant ease, his showbusinesslike gift for a glitzy riff leading his influence into pop, too. So how to consolidate this influence?

Read more...

Jeff Lynne's ELO, O2 Arena

russ Coffey

It was one of those bright spring days when it seemed every other radio station was playing “Mr Blue Sky”. It certainly didn’t feel like 30 years since ELO toured. But the fans at the O2, last night, knew exactly how long it’d been. Some may even have been counting the years. And the anticipation of whether Jeff Lynne could still cut it, was palpable.

Read more...

Xavier Rudd, The Electric Ballroom

Katie Colombus

The last time I spent hours on end listening to Xavier Rudd I was giving birth to my daughter. Weirdly, the anaesthetist had seen him perform in Australia a few weeks previously (this was a few years ago when Rudd wasn’t as heard of as he is now) and we bro’d about the magical coincidence pretty hard, in between contractions.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sandy Denny

kieron Tyler

Is there anything left to say about Sandy Denny? Sadly, she cannot say anything herself, as she died in 1978. So it’s left to what she released during her lifetime, posthumous appraisals and reappraisals, and packages and repackages to do the talking.

Read more...

Kathryn Williams, Sydenham St Bartholemew's Church

joe Muggs

Kathryn Williams has a lot to live up to. The last time I saw the Liverpudlian singer-songwriter play live was a completely unamplified gig in the Tricycle Theatre some nine years ago, and its intimacy and intensity remain seared in my memory as one of the most powerful performances I've ever experienced.

Read more...

The KVB, Ramsgate Music Hall

Barney Harsent

Without wishing to repeat myself, small venues almost always work best. The intimacy they offer heightens emotion and increases impact while breaking down the barrier between artist and audience. There's a mathematical consideration, too – fewer people means fewer antisocial arseholes no matter which way you divide it. And so I find myself back in East Kent’s best venue, among some of Ramsgate's most upstanding, to see the swirling, melodic storm of Berlin/London duo The KVB.

Read more...

Basia Bulat, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen

kieron Tyler

The cape is not an everyday item of clothing. Worn by magicians, it brings an air of the extraordinary. It billows in the path of superheroes. The cloak of invisibility confirms the cape’s singularity. Basia Bulat was first seen in a sparkly gold cape on the sleeve of her recent Good Advice album and last night it was integral to the renewed vigour of her music and stage persona.

Read more...

Eliane Elias, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Masterly improvising, outstanding compositions, a complete understanding between the musicians. On every count this was an exceptional set, as emotionally engaging as it was lovingly delivered.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Estonia: Tallinn Music Week 2016

kieron Tyler

“If we want to keep this free and democratic Europe of ours free and democratic, we must enlist ourselves, our skills and our commitment to liberty and justice. The problems we face are too great to simply say let the politicians do it.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Hauschka

kieron Tyler

Turn the clock back to early 2007. It’s not so long ago, but at this point Nils Frahm had issued just one album, Ólafur Arnalds was about to release his first, Jóhann Jóhannsson was one year into what would be two-album relationship with 4AD, and Max Richter had made two albums for 130701, the British offshoot of FatCat Records. Christian Wallumrød was performing solo, but still recording collaboratively.

Read more...

CD: Rodion – Generator

Barney Harsent

Before the resurgence in vinyl, and the resultant pursuit of audiophile perfection on pointlessly expensive sound systems, was the musician’s fetish for vintage equipment and analogue synths. Live, this makes sense: sounds go direct into the audience's ear, air its only conduit.

Read more...

Exhibitionism, Saatchi Gallery

tim Cumming

The Stones may have got the free festival thing right at last, returning triumphant from playing to around a million Cubans in Havana on Good Friday, and the world generally marvels more and mocks less the longevity of the band and the age of its original inhabitants. With a fresh batch of sold-out tours and new music apparently in the can, it would be churlish to deny them the self-pleasuring they reward themselves by mounting Exhibitionism at the Saatchi Gallery.

Read more...

Gregory Porter, Royal Albert Hall

Matthew Wright

Gregory Porter’s singing pedigree is impeccable. With a performing history in the American Church of God in Christ, where his mother was a minister, honed by several years before his breakthrough living in hipster-jazz heaven Brooklyn, and performing Off-Broadway, he’s in many ways the ultimate heritage act.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Fela Ransome-Kuti and His Koola Lobitos

kieron Tyler

Is greatness there from day one, does it evolve or suddenly strike? Do artists – in any discipline – develop in steps or arrive fully-formed? How does the quotidian become exceptional? With the new triple-CD set Highlife-Jazz and Afro-Soul (1963-1969), the man who would be dubbed the Black President has what amounts to 39 musical baby pictures made easily available for the first time.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: James Chance aka James White

kieron Tyler

According to the May 1979 issue of the New York art-paper East Village Eye, James White “is treated [everywhere] with awe and the special consideration lacking in most people's lives.” The adoration was boundless. White is “the star, the proof of the divinity that can be had by those who strive for a life beyond the schemes of men, James White is not an animal creature, James White is one of the breed called God in older times.”

Read more...

Clint Mansell, Royal Festival Hall

Andrew Cartmel

Although this evening began with an introduction by film director Ben Wheatley (responsible for Clint Mansell’s latest soundtrack commission, High-Rise), Mansell’s most frequent collaborator has been Darren Aronofsky. Among the movies they’ve fashioned together is 2014’s Noah, the music from which provided tonight’s opening salvo.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 15 - Saxon, Bernard Herrmann and much more

thomas H Green

Vinyl now accounts for almost 6% of the money made from music distribution, more than is accrued through free ad-backed streaming services. In the US last year vinyl sales rose to $416 million. Clearly these sort of figures are no threat to the likes of Spotify but then, there is no need for them to be. The fact is that vinyl is re-established as a boutique format and, culturally, its desirability is reaching a peak. Dismiss this as trendiness at your peril.

Read more...

Laura Mvula, Islington Assembly Hall

Matthew Wright

Three years ago Laura Mvula captured both hearts and minds with her intriguing and seductive debut album, Sing to the Moon. Last night she began again the nerve-wracking process of revealing new music, in this case her second album, The Dreaming Room, to be released in the summer.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Kinks

kieron Tyler

Although The Kinks’ world was turned upside down from the moment “You Really Got Me” hit the charts in August 1964, the band’s main songwriter Ray Davies still had songs to spare. Some of his compositions ended up with singers like Dave Berry, Leapy Lee and Mo & Steve. Ray’s brother Dave even found that one of his songs was recorded by Shel Naylor. This extra-mural world fascinates Kinks fans.

Read more...

Kano, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

Grime is having an ongoing moment. The current profiles of Skepta, Wretch 32, Stormzy, Novelist and others make this very clear. There at the beginning, along with Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, was Kano, as his new album Made in the Manor reminds us, harking back with bittersweet nostalgia to the scene’s earliest days as if they were decades ago.

Read more...

Adele, 02

Katie Colombus

Adele is resting her eyelids as the audience spills in, packing the 02, a huge video projection showing off those luscious eyelashes and dark eyeliner that have become synonymous with Adele style. Her eyes open as we hear the echoes of "Hello" before she appears on a small square stage in the middle of the auditorium, resplendent in a long, black, glittery gown. It's a spine-tingling, faultless rendition of the first hit from her most recent album.

Read more...

Little Mix, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

It says a lot that by the time Little Mix reach the final song of their encore, the recent mega-hit “Black Magic”, clad in silver sci-fi space bikinis and Barbarella-esque space-boots, it’s almost anti-climactic.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Pure Hell, Rexy

kieron Tyler

The variables which help records attain cult status are usually permutations of obscurity, patronage, rarity and perceived or received notions of greatness. This fluid formula can make an album the acme of grooviness, even if barely anyone cared or had even heard of it when it was originally issued. Witness the Lewis album, L’Amour.

Read more...

George Martin (1926-2016), record producer and 'fifth Beatle'

james Woodall

For many pop-pickers, the presiding image of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee will be Brian May (he – yes, of course – of Queen) grinding out the national anthem on the roof of Buckingham Palace. For me, there was a much more meaningful moment later the same evening when Paul McCartney, Her Majesty and a tall grey-haired man gathered on the party stage, rubbing shoulders and so magically recreating a little trope of our recent cultural history.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Charlatans

kieron Tyler

Music is no exception to the rule that history is littered with winners and losers. In commercial terms, however they are looked at, San Francisco’s Charlatans were losers. They issued just one single in 1966 and a belated album in 1969. While the world hummed along with Scott McKenzie’s "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" in 1967, these pioneers of the city’s scene were without a label and left adrift in the rush to sign Bay Area bands.

Read more...

Barry Adamson, Komedia, Brighton

thomas H Green

Barry Adamson has recently moved to Brighton and is clearly delighted with his new home town, which he refers to, shortly after starting his set, as a “dressing-up box by the sea”. Later in the evening he introduces the Hammond organ-laden “The Sun and the Sea” by telling his audience it was written about Brighton a few years ago, before he moved there, dryly informing us that he couldn’t fail to be drawn to somewhere that has “hail in the springtime and pebbles on its nudist beach”.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Prisoners

kieron Tyler

When the Sixties-inspired The Prisoners released their second album Thewisermiserdemelza in 1983, the decade they looked to for their musical and sartorial style was closer to the album itself than it is to today. Now, the half-century remove from what the Medway band drew from then ought to be as distant as, say, the minutiae of 1916 are from those of 1966. Yet this is not the case.

Read more...

The Gloaming, Union Chapel

tim Cumming

The Gloaming’s return to the Union Chapel in north London is a packed-out affair – and with good reason. Their British debut here, before the first album was released back in 2013, was a revelation. Few knew what to expect as Clare fiddler Martin Hayes, New York pianist Thomas Bartlett, Dublin-born viola and hardanger fiddle player Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, Sean Nos singer Iarla O Lionaird and Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill launched into the epic "Opening Set" from that debut album.

Read more...

Empirical’s Pop-Up Jazz Lounge, Old Street Underground

Thomas Rees

“I can’t believe it. Free jazz in Old Street tube, how cool is that?” It’s a relief to hear this kind of thing from passersby, because Empirical’s attempt to bring jazz to the people, to reach new audiences and develop their music through an experimental, week-long residency in a London tube station, could so easily have gone wrong.

Read more...

Claire Martin and Joe Stilgoe, St James Theatre

peter Quinn

With Peter Andre butchering Frank Sinatra on the one hand ("Reality TV swing", as Ray Gelato aptly put it) and Annie Lennox massacring Billie Holiday on the other, it was heart-warming to hear two artists performing standards and originals with such care, insight and sensitivity.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lizzy Mercier Descloux

kieron Tyler

Lizzy Mercier Descloux was an early adopter. In 1975, she travelled from her Paris home to Manhattan and saw The Ramones, Patti Smith, Television and the Richard Hell-edition Heartbreakers. Although the first issue of the New York fanzine Punk came out at the end of the year, punk rock was not yet quite codified. Nonetheless, there was a scene and something new was in the air.

Read more...

Wayne Shorter and Wynton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Barbican

Thomas Rees

Wayne Shorter and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra – that sounds like a dream pairing. Shorter, now 82, is one of the true greats, a saxophonist and composer with an enchanting and unpredictable approach that makes him instantly recognisable. He had a defining influence on Miles Davis’ Second Great Quintet and on Weather Report and, for many, his current quartet represent the pinnacle of modern small group performance.

Read more...

Ennio Morricone, O2 Arena

Andrew Cartmel

In its former life as the Millennium Dome, the O2 housed a diamond collection which attracted one of Britain’s most spectacular heists. Last night featured something considerably more valuable – the composer Ennio Morricone on tour, celebrating 60 years of music, accompanied by the magisterial forces of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, the Kodály Choir from Hungary and the Csokonai National Theatre Choir.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Paris Sisters

kieron Tyler

The Paris Sisters were a look and a sound. Slightly different but still peas in a pod, Albeth, Priscilla and Sherrell Paris united to make often moodily minor-key music always suggestive of angels stamping their feet. Otherwordly. Yet hard-edged. The defining vocalist was Priscilla, whose slightly husky, ever-intimate mid-tone evoked the wind whispering its secrets.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Long Ryders

kieron Tyler

For its 6 April 1985 issue, the NME chose The Long Ryders as its cover stars. The colour picture of the band was emblazoned “A Shotgun Wedding of Country and Punk.” The Los Angeles outfit attracted attention as part of a wave of California bands overtly drawing from the past. Local peers included The Bangles, The Dream Syndicate and The Three O’Clock.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: African Head Charge

kieron Tyler

Of all the idiosyncratic artists coming through the door opened by punk, Adrian Sherwood remains one of the most singular. Reggae had been given a new platform and Sherwood, though he has never done anything remotely musically akin to punk rock, comfortably found a place alongside boundary-crossing post-punk individualists like The Pop Group and Public Image Ltd. The former’s Mark Stewart and the latter’s Jah Wobble went on to record with Sherwood’s On-U Sound label.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Harpers Bizarre

kieron Tyler

While Harpers Bizarre’s US Top 20 version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)” will always be their single turned to by American oldies radio, its follow-up “Come to the Sunshine” defines their sound and musical attitude. Written and previously recorded by Van Dyke Parks, it captures an irresistibly effervescent Californian harmony pop which painted a sonic picture of the West Coast in 1967 as balmy, beautiful and seductive.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 13 - Kurt Cobain, Wolfgang Flür and more

thomas H Green

Welcome to the first theartsdesk on Vinyl of 2016. Last year saw vinyl go from a surprisingly successful retro underdog format to a profitable investment for major labels, notably Universal. This resulted in much grouching about bottlenecks of new indie material that couldn’t get onto vinyl because of pressing plants being hogged by endless cheapo repackages of old Queen albums and the like. 2016, however, should see the manufacturing end leap forward to meet the demand.

Read more...

Tony Allen and Jimi Tenor, Café OTO

joe Muggs

Questions of what is authentic and what is retro get more complicated the more the information economy matures. Music from decades past that only tens or hundreds of people heard at the time it was made becomes readily available, gets sampled by new musicians, and passes into the current vernacular. Modern musicians play archaic styles day in day out until it becomes so worn into their musculature that it reflects their natural way of being.

Read more...

Ian Shaw, Pizza Express Jazz Club

Matthew Wright

Many jazz singers are known for an instantly recognisable tone. Billie Holiday or Louis Armstrong are known the moment they open their mouth, for a particular quality of delivery. Jazz singer and comedian Ian Shaw, who launched his 14th album at Pizza Express Jazz Club last night, works differently. His best performances are about the blend of comedian’s timing and musician’s tone, and once he’d warmed up last night, there were tears and giggles aplenty.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Still in a Dream - A Story of Shoegaze

kieron Tyler

Head straight for Disc 2, Track 4. A drum thumps while spring-loaded guitar feedback pulses. Suddenly, a wall of cascading guitar hurtles forth like an electric hare pursued by greyhounds. A distorted, amelodic guitar solo contrasts with the sweet melody carried by a female vocal. The energy level is extraordinary. The whole has a lightness of touch. Then, abruptly, it stops.

Read more...

Corb Lund, Bleach, Brighton

thomas H Green

It seems incongruous that this fine country-rockin’ band should come all the way from Canada to play a half-empty room above a pub on a chilly, January midweek night on the British south coast. That they do so with such gusto and aplomb is hugely impressive. By the end, they’ve filled the place with a whooping hoedown and made it feel like a honkytonk bar somewhere off a lost highway in a mythic America, yet with the wry, modern, liberal-minded twist of Corb Lund’s lyrics.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Wilde Flowers

kieron Tyler

Though Soft Machine were the first band to suggest Canterbury could be musically noteworthy, the appearance of Caravan’s debut album in late 1968, Kevin Ayers' post-Soft Machine solo outing two years later, and the subsequent arrivals of Gong, Matching Mole, Hatfield & the North and the solo Robert Wyatt confirmed the city had a fertile scene. It was a fluid environment where musicians from one band played with others.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jon Savage's 1966

kieron Tyler

January 1966 is a half a century back but some of the music released 50 years ago this month remains fresh, vital and timeless. With its biting invective and energy, Bob Dylan’s “Can You Please Crawl out of Your Window” will never lose its visceral edge. Dusty Springfield’s joyful, kinetic “Little by Little” is eternally alive. Author Jon Savage goes further and pinpoints the whole of 1966 as “the year that shaped the rest of the century”.

Read more...

theartsfest 2015 - Saturday

theartsdesk

The festival market is one that has, like much of Britain, become oversaturated of late. Here at theartsdesk however, we feel that there’s room for one more as long as it’s of the highest possible quality. Here, then, is our line-up, a dream festival pulled together from our writers’ highlights of the past year.

Read more...

Best of 2015: Reissue CDs

kieron Tyler

Revealing a new story which completely rewrites an existing one is not easy in the world of reissues. With so much already known, and with pop and rock history constantly being revisited, it’s always surprising when a fresh tale is told. And it’s even more so when it’s actually worth knowing.

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 15

kieron Tyler

Is language a barrier to international recognition? Is English necessary to make waves worldwide? Musicians from the African continent and South America regularly perform in their native tongue beyond the borders of their home countries. But often they are – rightly or wrongly – marketed or pigeon-holed as world music, a branding which allows for eschewing the Anglophone.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lush

kieron Tyler

The news that Lush have reformed didn’t come as surprise. Their comparable contemporaries Ride and Slowdive had also done so over the past couple of years, and My Bloody Valentine – an influence looming over all three – returned in 2007 after over a decade’s abscence. Unlike the others, Lush, who were on 4AD rather than Creation, have reissued their complete catalogue as a box set during the run-up to re-hitting stages next May.

Read more...

Brad Mehldau, Wigmore Hall

Thomas Rees

Contemporary jazz is a world full of magpies – artists who flit between genres and build glittering nests of disparate musical influences. Rock up to a so-called jazz night today and the repertoire can come from anywhere, you’re as likely to hear Jimi Hendrix or J. Dilla as Jerome Kern, and pianist Brad Mehldau has played a role in making that happen.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 12 - SWANS, Sparks, Edith Piaf and more

thomas H Green

As theartsdesk on Vinyl concludes its first year of existence, vinyl is on the rise. There are justified moans that the boom is being taken over by predictably-curated, low quality, major label reissues aimed at 50-something men, causing the likes of Tesco to announce they’re entering the vinyl market. There’s truth in these claims, but “taken over” is too strong.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Comsat Angels

kieron Tyler

The Comsat Angels’ debut single for Polydor, July 1980’s “Independence Day”, was an instant classic. After setting a rhythmic bed, each subsequent instrumental contribution is measured out: a guitar string's harmonic; a spare keyboard line; drop-outs drawing from dub. The melody was anthemic, yet not overbearing, and the forward momentum unyielding. It still sounds fantastic.

Read more...

The Puppini Sisters, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Wright

It’s more than ten years since Marcella Puppini invited current “sister” Kate Mullins and a third singer, who has since been replaced twice with unsisterly ruthlessness, to form her eponymous close-harmony sorority. The trio’s slick, switchback harmonies, generally retro repertoire, and glossy vocal finish, have carved them a distinctive niche in the scene, even as that era has been dragged back into the mainstream by a glut of burlesque tribute acts.   

Read more...

Absolutely Me, Caro Emerald, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

Caro Emerald first appears, spotlit, in one of the aisles of the Brighton Centre’s eastern balcony. Clad in a pleated knee-length black skirt and an eye-jarring yellow and red shirt that brings to mind Russian expressionist art, she kicks things off with the doleful, show tune-style paean to being a mistress, “The Other Woman”. It is a striking beginning and her concert grips the capacity audience by the scruff of the neck from thereon in.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Velvet Underground

kieron Tyler

How many live versions of “Heroin” are necessary? The new four CD set The Complete Matrix Tapes includes, yes, four. One per disc.

Read more...

I'm Not in Love: The Story of 10cc, BBC Four

jasper Rees

10cc were the closest the Seventies came to a Fab Four. They were multi-talented vocalists and instrumentalists, came from Lancashire, were technologically ahead of the curve, wrote classy, inventive pop songs in a bewildering array of styles, suffered from dodgy management, were lucky to find one another and calamitously split up far too soon. Since when they’ve cast a very long shadow indeed.

Read more...

Ronnie Spector, Barbican

Matthew Wright

Their songs are some of the most joyous of the Sixties, their glistening doo-wop close harmony and pealing early rock 'n roll guitar sound heady with innocent romance and youthful energy.

Read more...

Duran Duran, Brighton Centre, 2015

thomas H Green

The arrival of Duran Duran is announced by a barrage of strobes, dry ice creeping about the stage, and the thunder-rumble of an approaching storm through the speakers. There is another noise too. It is the sound of female voices letting rip. They’re doing a loud, heartfelt approximation of the hysterical teen shriek that’s greeted boy bands from The Beatles to One Direction. Duran Duran, after all, are the top dog poster boys of their youth.

Read more...

Madonna - Rebel Heart Tour, The O2

Matthew Wright

Last night Rebel Heart began to make sense. For over two hours, performing from the album, her back catalogue, and a couple of well-chosen covers, Madonna sustained both a diversity and intensity in her approach to singing about love and sex that probably no-one else could match. We all knew she could sing “Material Girl” or “Like A Prayer” till the lid came off the O2.

Read more...

Sculpture/Alex Smoke & Florence To, Dome Studio Theatre, Brighton

thomas H Green

It might sound hackneyed but Sculpture can only be described as truly psychedelic. They achieve this via a thoroughly original stage set-up. Dan Hayhurst, in a black tee-shirt and military cap, manipulates sounds on a laptop, with a rack of magnetic tape loops to his left which he carefully plucks up and sets on reels, but what makes the London duo a unique proposition is the zoetrope-style visuals of Reuben Sutherland.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: John Barry, Mikael Tariverdiev

kieron Tyler

In 1986, the Russian state honoured Mikael Tariverdiev with the People's Artist of Russia award, a mark of respect given to only the most significant figures in the arts. The Tbilisi-born composer was the head of the Composer’s Guild of the Soviet Cinematographer’s Union and had written concertos, operas, ballet music, song cycles (Russian poetry was a favourite), music for television and for 132 films. He was prolific, saw few boundaries and, in 1956, had set Shakespeare sonnets to music....

Read more...

James Morrison, O2 Shepherd's Bush

Matthew Wright

James Morrison has spent several years out of the limelight, with family difficulties to attend to. Would age and experience give the gravelly soul-pop star’s soft-focus romantic ballads sharper edges on his return? The underwhelmed reviews of his recent fourth album, Higher Than Here, suggested not, but last night’s live show, in a swaying, crooning, heaving Shepherd’s Bush Empire, showed an astute, modestly charismatic performer, and a warm embrace of a gig.

Read more...

Disappears perform David Bowie's Low, 100 Club, London

Barney Harsent

The 100 Club is dark. Really dark. People are shrouded in the ink-light. I think it’s to save their embarrassment as they order a drink and realise they’ll have to either apply for a loan or sell a child in order to get drunk. In any case, the indoor gloaming provides the perfect setting for the opening act of the evening, Demian Castellanos. The creative helm of psych-rock act The Oscillation, he's on his own tonight with a wordless solo set showcasing new material.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Marc Bolan

kieron Tyler

In 1973, alone and with an acoustic guitar, Marc Bolan recorded the revealing “This Is My Life”. Over its five minutes, a strummed elegy akin to the T Rex B-side “Baby Strange” evolves from a finger-picked blues. The lyrics name-check B.B. King, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode” and mention a visit to New York State, playfully rhymed with steak.

Read more...

Keith Jarrett, Royal Festival Hall

tim Cumming

How, exactly, are you supposed to review a Keith Jarrett concert – solo, completely improvised, just one man and his Steinway, audience on all sides, ushers walking up and down the aisles bearing signs forbidding any record of the evening's music?

Read more...

The Vaccines, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

From the second song, “Teenage Icon”, the Brighton Centre crowd are in the palms of Vaccines’ frontman Justin Young’s hands. It’s not a capacity crowd but they sing along to the perfectly crafted indie-pop stomper as if they were. “I’m nobody’s hero,” Young roars, clad in black, wearing his own band’s tee-shirt, but it’s not true, he’s clearly everybody’s hero here. His audience are mostly late teens and early twenties but there’s a hefty smattering of older faces and loads of women.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 11 - Peter Gabriel, Lush and more

thomas H Green

Heading into the final straits of 2015, it’s pleasing to read announcements by the BPI (British Phonographic Industry), the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and Nielsen Soundscan that the year has been the biggest for vinyl sales this century. The sales figures are, respectively, a year-on-year rise of 35% and 56% in the US and the UK, with Europe following the pattern.

Read more...

Cassandra Wilson/Lionel Loueke, Royal Festival Hall

Thomas Rees

“I’m sorry I’m late,” said Cassandra Wilson to a half empty Royal Festival Hall, after a sulky rendition of “Don’t Explain”, the opening track from her Billie Holiday tribute album, Coming Forth By Day. It was an hour and fifteen minutes since the singer was due on stage and half an hour since the directors of concert promoter Serious had arrived in her stead – amidst boos and irate whistles – to tell us she was refusing to leave her hotel room.

Read more...

Gomez, Osborne, Britten Sinfonia, Järvi, Milton Court

david Nice

Don’t blame the players: they did their considerable best. But what could they hope to achieve with a programme in which six of the seven pieces were on a hiding to nowhere, or too short to have much of an impact? A sequence, what's more, in which platform rearrangements took longer than two of the pieces in the first half?

Read more...

Maria Schneider Orchestra, Cadogan Hall

peter Quinn

Eloquent, transfixing, profoundly moving. Last night, in the beautiful setting of the Cadogan Hall, the Maria Schneider Orchestra gave one of those landmark performances that people will remember for years to come. We heard seven of the eight tracks from the composer, arranger and bandleader's stunning latest release, The Thompson Fields, which celebrates its composer's love of her childhood home in Windom, southwest Minnesota.

Read more...

Imagine Dragons, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Graeme Thomson

Exactly three years ago, Imagine Dragons played to 150 people in Glasgow. This time, there were 12,000 people in attendance. The ascent of the Las Vegas quartet (swelled to a five-piece for this tour) brings to mind Peter Cook’s withering assessment that David Frost “rose without trace”. Their 2012 debut Night Visions and this year’s Smoke + Mirrors have shifted in their millions in both the US and UK without the band making any discernible cultural impact.

Read more...

ABC, Pavilion Theatre, Worthing

thomas H Green

Martin Fry is unsure whether Worthing is enjoying itself enough for his liking. Clad in a sharply tailored grey three-piece suit, ABC’s frontman keeps asking us if we’re having a good time. The shouts of approval that greet the question suggest we are. In any case, he certainly seems to be.

Read more...

Jarrod Lawson, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Matthew Wright

Having released a self-titled debut album last year, soul singer Jarrod Lawson has been on a European touring offensive for much of this one. Very charming it has been, too, landing Lawson Soul Artist of the Year title at the 2015 Jazz FM Awards, and a string of stellar album reviews. Saturday’s London Jazz Festival appearance – there’s a lot of jazz in Lawson’s harmonic keyboard adventures – was the final night of a month-long European tour.

Read more...

Fuzz Club London Weekender, London Fields Brewery

Guy Oddy

Some rock’n’roll gigs are built upon the lead singer’s ego, others on the lunacy of the band’s drummer. The inaugural Fuzz Club London Weekender was unashamedly built upon guitars and effects pedals.

Read more...

The Fall, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

Given how many members the band has had over its long existence, there will always be a running joke as to who’s who in The Fall? One thing we can say for certain is that the pretty, poised Greek woman on keyboards, the one who returns hand-in-hand with frontman Mark E Smith to the stage for the encore, is Elena Poulou, his wife of a decade-and-a-half. Alongside her, the band create a rollicking, potent brew.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Judy Dyble, Trader Horne

kieron Tyler

After Judy Dyble left Fairport Convention in May 1968, it was her replacement Sandy Denny who picked up critical kudos as the ensuing years unfolded. Dyble, though, did not drop off the face of the earth and, if credits were looked at closely enough and margins examined, it was evident she had a career in music as fascinating and often as admirable as that of Denny.

Read more...

Jazz Voice, Barbican

peter Quinn

Featuring the usual, divertingly eclectic mix of singers from the worlds of jazz, pop and soul, last night’s Jazz Voice announced the opening of the 2015 EFG London Jazz Festival with a programme that satisfied both aficionado and newbie alike.

Read more...

Joanna Newsom, Eventim Apollo

Matthew Wright

There were no shouts of “You’re a genius!” from the Hammersmith crowd last night, as there have been earlier in Newsom’s tour. But there were the shrill gasps of astonishment and adulation you would usually find at a One Direction gig, or during a tense rally at Wimbledon, not from a mature, West London audience attending a recital of harp and song.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Slade

kieron Tyler

 It’s one of the greatest rock songs of the Seventies. The production is dense and the churning guitars are thick with tension. Beginning with a minor-key riff suggesting a familiarity with The Stooges’ “No Fun”, the whole band lock into a groove which isn’t strayed from. The tempo does not shift. Rhythmically, this forward motion has the power of a tank stuck in third gear. The voice suggests John Lennon at his most raw.

Read more...

Songhoy Blues, KOKO

tim Cumming

When it comes world music there are few countries bigger than Mali in terms of impact and popularity. (Cuba probably ranks a close second.) It’s from Mali that Songhoy Blues hail, one of the few major new successes in world music to emerge in the past few years.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Paris: Peregrinations on the Pigalle

kieron Tyler

Sometimes appearances can be deceptive. The frontman on stage looks as generic it gets. His scruffy beard, retro specs, baseball hat, shapeless jeans and the bulging outline of a mobile phone stuffed in his trouser pocket don’t add up to suggest that his band Tahiti Boy & the Palmtree Family are going to be anything distinctive. But the studied casualness belies what actually takes place musically. This is exceptional.

Read more...

Esperanza Spalding's Emily D+Evolution, O2 Shepherd's Bush

Matthew Wright

Until last night, critics had a clear view of Esperanza Spalding as the virtuosic jazz bassist and singer, whose prodigious composing, performing and bandleading made her one of a small and precious group capable of re-making serious and popular jazz. In a rare moment of triumphalism, jazz critics love nothing more than recalling the fury of Justin Bieber fans, whom Spalding beat to the Best New Artist Grammy in 2011. Best get that story out the way before we go any further.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Levitation

kieron Tyler


Levitation: Meanwhile GardensLevitation: Meanwhile Gardens

Read more...

Patti Smith, Roundhouse

jasper Rees

It’s Patti Smith week. Her second memoir M Train is out. To mark its publication she spoke on Wednesday night at a Guardian event of her love of Morse, Lewis and George Gently. On Thursday she had an appointment with U2 at the O2. Last night (and again tonight) Smith was back at the Roundhouse, where she first performed in the UK in 1976. The question on nobody’s lips was whether, at 68, senior citizenship has remotely withered the savagery of her voice.

Read more...

Girl in a Band: Tales from the Rock'n'Roll Front Line, BBC Four

Lisa-Marie Ferla

For women making music, it’s probably a tough call to decide on what is more tedious: being asked what it’s like being a girl in a band, or being grouped with other female musicians, regardless of genre, for magazine features and documentaries on Women in Rock.

Read more...

U2, O2 Arena

adam Sweeting

Some artists you'd only ever want to see in a club or a theatre, but if ever there was a group who belonged naturally in stadiums and arenas, it's U2. They have a history of elaborate stage productions, and for this tour, focusing on last year's album Songs of Innocence, they've shown the opposition a clean pair of heels with a remarkable show based around a wall of screens that stretches out towards the back of the auditorium.

Read more...

Cat Power, St John-at-Hackney Church

russ Coffey

On record, Cat aka Chan Marshall is the quintessence of hip. From art-rock to blues, her vocals are cool and effortless. Live, however, things have been notoriously inconsistent. Google “Cat Power live”, and you will find a catalogue of stage meltdowns. Even her Wikipedia entry tells tales of drunken rants and abuse of fans. And yet for every gig disaster, there’s another rave review.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Laraaji

kieron Tyler

 

Laraaji Ambient 3 Day of RadianceLaraaji: Ambient 3 – Day of Radiance

Read more...

Bob Dylan, Royal Albert Hall

tim Cumming

Two years ago, Dylan played his best concert in years here at the Royal Albert Hall, the dim stage circled by vintage movie studio lights, and circling Dylan a band seasoned enough to bottle its own oil, delivering a new kind of quiet, late-night music. The broad unpredictability may have had gone, but so had those too-common troughs in quality and penchant for urban barns in Wembley. Could this new quality – forget the width – be sustained?

Read more...

Beardyman, Old Market, Brighton

thomas H Green

Standing in front of a table filled with small consoles, Beardyman reaches into a blue bucket for an audience-suggested title to the next song he’ll create live, from scratch, in front of us. “The Muppets on Trial” is what he ends up with.

Read more...

Herbert & Kode 9, Abbey Road Studios

joe Muggs

There's a new kind of forum for electronic musicians. Certainly not a rave, and not just a recital to earnest nerds, built on a kind of patronage, but a long way removed from a standard corporate gig where you're just providing the interchangeable soundtrack to X or Y product launch.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 10 - Fela Kuti, Simple Minds and more

thomas H Green

Let’s not get carried away. The news, announced at the end of September, that vinyl sales generated more money than the combined income of Spotify, Vevo and YouTube’s free services sent waves of celebration through the record-loving community. $166 million vs. $222 million – yaaaaaay! Vinyl sales up 52% on last year and now accounting for a third of all physical sales – yaaaaaay again!

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Little Bob Story

kieron Tyler

 

Little Bob Story Off the Rails + Live in ‘78Little Bob Story: Off the Rails + Live in ‘78

Read more...

Get The Blessing, Rich Mix

Matthew Wright

You would expect a galactically-themed album like Astronautilus to blast off into extra-terrestrial airiness. The fifth album from west-country jazz-rock space cadets Get The Blessing scorched some earth at its launch in Shoreditch last night, yet the battery of horns, bewitching, asymmetric drums and repeating patterns of surging melody felt grounded and earthy.

Read more...

Ride, O2 Academy Brixton

Barney Harsent

Back when this was the plain old Brixton Academy, before Britpop, before New Labour, before the world wide web had weaved its way into our homes, before the war on terror, before the nebulous notion of ‘content’ had yet to ruin everything and devalue everyone, I saw Ride play a gig here. It was ace.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Georgie Fame

kieron Tyler


GEORGIE FAME THE WHOLE WORLD’S SHAKINGGeorgie Fame: The Whole World’s Shaking – The Complete Recordings 1963–1966

Read more...

Alan Broadbent & Georgia Mancio Songbook, Watermill, Dorking

Matthew Wright

Fashions in art and music come and go in less time than it takes to read a Buzzfeed list. So there was something uncannily satisfying about star pianist Alan Broadbent’s admission that he’s been working on last night’s collection of entirely new songs for the past 50 years.

Read more...

Sebadoh, Ramsgate Music Hall

Barney Harsent

The three-toed sloth moves at a maximum – that’s maximum – of 10 feet per minute. It’s thought to be the slowest animal in the world. While on a train hugging the north Kent coast however, I reckon I could give it a, figurative, run for its money. I’m on my way to a tiny venue in Ramsgate to see understated US rock band Sebadoh, whose album count is in double figures, on a tour that will see them joining Lemonheads in London for a high-profile gig. Well, at least that’s the plan.

Read more...

Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind, Rainbow, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

“It’s good to be back in fucking Birmingham, but come a bit closer and let’s pretend it’s a rock ‘n’ roll gig,” called frontman Jim Jones from the stage of the Rainbow, before bursting into the swampy blues of “Aldecide”. The audience needed no other invitations and pushed towards the stage to drink up the Righteous Mind’s primal groove.

Read more...

Squeeze & John Cooper Clarke, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Considering that they have never been known for their sartorial elegance, Squeeze are looking pretty smart and stylish these days. Band leaders Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook took to the stage in Birmingham looking especially dapper, with Tilbrook looking like he’d just walked off the set of Miami Vice in his pink suit.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The City

kieron Tyler

 

the city Now That Everything’s Been SaidThe City: Now That Everything’s Been Said

Read more...

The Lemonheads, Institute, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

It has been three years since The Lemonheads, Evan Dando’s slacker kings, last toured the UK and six years since they released Varshons, a covers album. So it was a pleasant surprise when they recently announced a return to these shores to play some shows with no particular product to push, especially given that anyone might imagine that they had since long disappeared.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bert Jansch

kieron Tyler


Bert Jansch: It Don't Bother meBert Jansch: It Don't Bother Me, Jack Orion / Bert Jansch & John Renbourn: Bert and John

Read more...

Loose Tubes, Ronnie Scott's

Thomas Rees

Loose Tubes go hand in hand with Ronnie Scott’s. This was the setting for their fabled residencies back in the Eighties, the scene of their farewell gig in 1990 and of their comeback last year (both of which feature on new live album Arriving).

Read more...

Unknown Mortal Orchestra, O2 Shepherd's Bush

Matthew Wright

Stylistically, they’re a psychedelic kaleidoscope of a band, but that didn’t stop Unknown Mortal Orchestra getting the O2 Shepherd’s Bush swaying hypnotically last night. Their jagged, breaking grooves, burnished analogue synth and drone-like choruses take in everything from Stevie Wonder to Captain Beefheart, via a slew of indie, garage and psychedelia, but the effect is unique and compelling.

Read more...

Florence + the Machine, Alexandra Palace

jasper Rees

There’s a new book out called Red: A Natural History of the Redhead, which gets to the heart of what it is to have the ginger gene, be it Boudicca or Jessica Rabbit. It says coppertops are more prone to bee stings, and perfume gives off a different odour on their skin. And then there are the more hackneyed ascriptions: flaming hair implies fieriness, wildness, total and utter otherness etc.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Faces

kieron Tyler

 

Faces: You Can Make me Dance, Sing or Anything… 1970–1975Faces: You Can Make Me Dance, Sing or Anything… 1970–1975

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 9 - Queen, On-U Sound and more

thomas H Green

The New York Times recently wrote that, “For the music business over all, vinyl is still a niche product, if an increasingly substantial one.” How substantial is slowly becoming clear with dramatic rises in vinyl consumption over the last year. The biggest pressing plant in Europe, in the Czech village of Lodenice, last year produced 14.5 million records, while across the US during the same period 13 million were sold, with around 50% of the buyers under 35.

Read more...

Courtney Pine, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Wright

Courtney Pine’s Caribbean-flavoured album House of Legends was released three years ago, and it says a lot that he’s still touring it. This riotously melodic collection of ska, soca and calypso, embellished with some scorching solo work, has certainly proved popular, as the latest sell-out run at Ronnie’s testifies. Pine cheerfully apologised for a lack of CD’s to sell at the gig: they’ve all been sold.

Read more...

Jambinai, Rich Mix

Matthew Wright

For three unassuming musicians, sitting cross-legged in a row, Korean folk-noise fusion band Jambinai’s London debut last night was seismic. With an ambitious project to integrate the techniques and idioms of traditional Korean folk with a blend of noise-rock, drone-rock and electronic music, they gave a concert that was, from the moment the grinding drone of the geomungo started yawing through the crowd, utterly distinct and original.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Pere Ubu

kieron Tyler

 

Pere Ubu: Elitism for the People 1975–1978Pere Ubu: Elitism for the People 1975–1978

Read more...

Kasse Mady Diabate, Queen Elizabeth Hall

tim Cumming

Not many concerts at the Queen Elizabeth Hall culminate in a string of beautiful African women sashaying down the aisles to the stage to press fivers and tenners upon the still-crooning singer. After taking their hands in turn, as if in benediction, Kassy Made Diabate turned and dropped the fistful of notes at the feet of his ngoni player.

Read more...

Orchestra Baobab & Blick Bassy, RFH

tim Cumming

Africa Utopia at the Southbank Centre is back for its third year with a raft of concerts and events, and for Friday night Senegal's Orchestra Baobab returned to the UK for the first time in three years, one of the great names of the post-independence African renaissance. They were joined by a young French-Cameroonian artist, Blick Bassy (pictured below), who was coming to London for the first time with his debut album Ako.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The London American Label – 1966

kieron Tyler


the london american label year by year 1966Various Artists: The London American Label Year by Year – 1966

Read more...

Heartless Bastards, Borderline

russ Coffey

Some consider Heartless Bastards to be the best band you’ve probably never heard of – albeit blighted by an awful name. Others say the Texas-based four-piece are merely a jumped-up garage band. Wherever you stand, though, one thing is beyond dispute – the awesome power of Erika Wennerstrom’s voice. For much of last night she sounded like the love child of Robert Plant and Janis Joplin.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Isley Brothers

kieron Tyler


Read more...

theartsdesk at Green Man 2015

Barney Harsent

Sunday. Brecon Beacons. Very early in the morning. I am woken, as I have been every 20 minutes or so since falling asleep, by water dripping on my head. So far, I’ve been able to ignore it, the pain of sitting upright outweighing the inconvenience of a wet head by a factor I can’t begin to fathom. Now, however, the hangover has lifted slightly and the need to piss is so painful I can no longer ignore it.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Julian Cope

kieron Tyler


Julian Cope: World Shut Your MouthJulian Cope: World Shut Your Mouth, Fried

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 14

kieron Tyler

Don’t be fooled by the header picture. Despite the relaxed poses, Iceland’s Pink Street Boys are amongst the angriest, loudest, most unhinged bands on the planet right now. Hits #1, their debut vinyl album – which follows distorted-sounding, lower-than-lo-fi cassette and digital-only releases – is so impolite and wild that once the rest of the world gets the message the story of what constitutes the current-day music of their home country will have to be rewritten.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Stax Soul Sensations

kieron Tyler

 

Ian Levine’s Stax Soul Sensations Various Artists: Ian Levine’s Stax Soul Sensations

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 8 - Björk, Joy Division and more

thomas H Green

In October a special tribute will be paid to the late great DJ Frankie Knuckles, the man who defined house music in the 1980s. A former bank In Chicago, now known as the Stony Island Arts Bank, which houses an archive relating to black culture, will be showcasing his gigantic record collection.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Forgotten Fields 2015

thomas H Green

A person with any sense of outdoor adventure can enjoy a camping trip with friends, especially when the skies are clear blue and blazing, the booze is decent and flowing, and the barbecue is tasty and sauced. Thus was the case with my trip to Eridge Park, in the northern reaches of Sussex, for a new festival from the team behind the Lake District’s successful, decade-old Kendal Calling. How much the festival itself contributed to the good times, however, is debatable.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: America

kieron Tyler

 

AMERICA THE WARNER BROS YEARSAmerica: The Warner Bros. Years 1971–1977

Read more...

theartsdesk at Camp Bestival 2015

thomas H Green

Camp Bestival 2015 was bathed in four days of glorious sun, a rare window of idyllic weather in this most cantankerous of summers. It took place, as it has since it began in 2008, amid the hilly, verdant and well-kept grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset. Run by DJ Rob da Bank, his wife Josie and their team, it remains the country’s premier family festival, attended by some 30,000. Those are the facts, yet Camp Bestival is a curious creature, tricky to encapsulate.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Cocteau Twins

kieron Tyler


Cocteau Twins The Pink OpaqueCocteau Twins: The Pink Opaque, Tiny Dynamine/Echoes in a Shallow Bay

Read more...

Prom 16: Late Night with Radio 1, Pete Tong

Matthew Wright

After years of pussyfooting around pop, hoping the Pet Shop Boys will write something in a passable classical idiom, the Proms has embraced the most euphoric popular genre of all - dance - to its bosom.

Read more...

WOMAD 2015, Charlton Park

peter Culshaw

Now was the summer of our disco tent. The disco tent in question backstage was not jumping as much as in previous years – somehow strutting your Travolta moves in wellies doesn’t quite cut it. A glam tribute band at Molly’s Bar on Thursday night, knocking out Bolan and Bowie numbers dressed in cheap sci-fi tat were hugely entertaining though.

Read more...

WOMAD 2, Charlton Park

mark Kidel

Trudging through the mud at last weekend’s WOMAD provided fleeting moments of random entertainment, as if surfing old-style across the bandwidths of a short-wave radio, you’d stumble unexpectedly on snatches of exotic sounds from around the globe: an eerie double-bass Mongolian throat-song one minute, and a horror-dark wisp of electronically enhanced tango the next. The food was taste-bogglingly varied too, from Algerian-flavoured steak wraps to a mysterious array of Tibetan treats. 

Read more...

Tom Jones / The Shires, Greenwich Music Time Festival

Matthew Wright

With its time and observatory, Greenwich is a fitting venue for record-breakers, and Sir Tom Jones, who sang at the Greenwich Music Time Festival last night, has some impressive vital statistics. The still-slim, still-dynamic figure in a black suit has sold 100 million records in a career of over 50 years, and on a good day, he can be Elvis Presley with a touch of Bryn Terfel.

Read more...

Peter Perrett, The Garage

thomas H Green

Peter Perrett reappears for his third encore. This time his band doesn’t play with him. He attacks the guitar alone, “No Peace for the Wicked” and “It’s the Truth”, both songs from his days in The Only Ones, 35 years ago. His distinctive cracked voice is strong. In any case, the crowd assist him, even though these are not sing-along songs so much as perfectly constructed mini-melodramas of the heart.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tennessee Ernie Ford

kieron Tyler

 

Tennessee Ernie Ford Portrait of an American SingerTennessee Ernie Ford: Portrait of an American Singer

Read more...

Irakere, Ronnie Scott's

Thomas Rees

When Afro-Cuban jazz pioneers Irakere first played Ronnie Scott’s, back in 1985, they sold out the venue for five weeks on the trot. Thirty years later, and 40 years since the pioneering Latin jazz outfit began, they’re back to celebrate the anniversary, playing two shows a night across six nights, with pianist and founder Chucho Valdes at the helm.  

Read more...

theartsdesk at Latitude Festival 2015

Phoebe Michaelides

Many festivals have become increasingly family-friendly. The children who, 10 years ago, were taken to outdoor multi-dayers such as Latitude, Camp Bestival and the now-defunct Big Chill, are now teenagers. Many have grown up with festivals as a usual part of their summer holidays - rather than a countercultural escape - and now they want to strike out on their own.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mission of Burma

kieron Tyler


Mission of Burma signals, calls and marchesMission of Burma: signals, calls, and marches/Vs.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 7 - Northern Soul, The Fall and more

thomas H Green

One of vinyl’s more controversial corners is the postal subscription club. Sign up to one of these and, for a fee, a number of records are sent to your home. The draw is supposed to be exclusivity of content or simply trusting the taste of a faultless musical guru. Subscription is thus, to put it mildly, a mixed bag. Sites such as Wax&Stamp are typical. Their policy is to send two-per-month, one chosen by them and one by a guest selector.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Love Affair

kieron Tyler

 

The Love Affair Steve Ellis Time Hasn’t Changed us The Complete CBS Recordings 1967-1971The Love Affair/Steve Ellis: Tim...

Read more...

Chaka Khan, Ronnie Scott's

mark Kidel

The voice is the pinnacle of instruments, the surefire road to the heart. But the core humanity which distinguishes it can work both ways: the vulnerability displayed so powerfully in human song makes possible the expression of powerful emotions but it can also pitilessly expose the flaws in an artist’s work.

Read more...

Suicide, Barbican

thomas H Green

What do we do when our heroes become incapable of doing what made them our heroes in the first place? Who are we to say when an artist is too old and broken to be on stage, if that’s where they want to be?  Where is the line between thrilling avant-punk chaos and an unrehearsed shambles? When does an enthused audience willing a band to succeed, whatever the evidence to the contrary, slip into the realms of self-delusion?

Read more...

Max Cooper and Tom Hodge, Abbey Road Studios

Barney Harsent

I’m in a car and I’m uncomfortably hot. The reason I’m in a car is I’m on my way to a gig on the first day in 14 years that industrial action has brought London Underground to a standstill. No skeleton service, no contingency, just closed doors and solidarity. This means it’s bumper-to-bumper and I’m running late. Very late. I’m on my way to Abbey Road Studios where Studio Two has been opened up for a special performance by pianist and composer Tom Hodge and electronic producer Max Cooper....

Read more...

Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock, Barbican

Thomas Rees

There was a buzz at the Barbican last night, the kind that makes you feel like a child again, a ripple of electric energy that only comes with seeing the true greats. And they don’t come much greater than Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, two jazz legends with strikingly similar trajectories. Both cut their teeth playing with Miles, both helped determine the direction of jazz-rock fusion and, though they’re now in their mid 70s, both have continued to push the boundaries.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sex Pistols

kieron Tyler


Sex Pistols SpunkSex Pistols: Spunk

Read more...

CD: Alternative TV - Opposing Forces

thomas H Green

Apart from Simon Reynolds paying tribute in Rip It Up And Start Again, his definitive history of post-punk – notably to the demented experimentalism of ATV’s second album Vibing Up The Senile Man – there has been little extended acknowledgement of these definitive Seventies originals. Frontman Mark Perry pops up regularly as a talking head on programmes about punk, but the focus is always, not unreasonably, the year-long run of his famous fanzine Sniffin’ Glue.

Read more...

NYCC, NYJO, Southwark Cathedral

david Nice

Cleopatra in her barge gliding down the nave of Southwark Cathedral? Only figuratively, in the hypnotic “Half the Fun” movement of Duke Ellington’s constantly surprising Shakespeare compendium Such Sweet Thunder. Still, it wouldn’t be that much stranger than the combination of a jazz orchestra and a chamber choir – so superlative as not to need the “youth” in their names observed – celebrating Shakespeare in his local place of worship.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2015

Caspar Gomez

Caspar Gomez stays offline at Glastonbury. This report arrived at theartsdesk two days later handwritten by fax with an accompanying preamble which said only, “This scribble has now suitably matured in the cider-oaked barrels of a pot-holed brain. I am Uncle Fuckle and I’m here to bring the pain. It began like this…”

Thursday 25th June

Read more...

Amy

kieron Tyler

“I don’t think I could handle it, I think I’d go mad.” It’s the sort of answer given by anyone asked how they’d react to fame. With the possibility looming of recognition beyond jazz circles, Amy Winehouse, who was then not so well-known, responded with something which could have appeared trite; the humble words of an aspirant not wanting to seem too big for her boots.

Read more...

The Man Who Sold the World, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire

Barney Harsent

Normally, if an album as good as The Man Who Sold the World had itself sold the sum total of sod all on release, it would have been lost, then found, before becoming a fêted rarity, exchanging hands for hundreds while bootleggers had a field day.

Read more...

Freedom: The Art of Improvisation Festival, The Vortex, Dalston

Thomas Rees

Freedom Festival, a new event curated by vibes player and electronicist Orphy Robinson and vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, is all about bringing improvised music out of the shadows and into the limelight. All the same, it felt strange going to the Vortex in broad daylight. Gigs here don’t usually get started much before 9 pm (I’d always assumed that improvising musicians only came out at night), and darkness seems to lend itself to the free jazz atmosphere.

Read more...

Taylor Swift, Hyde Park

Lisa-Marie Ferla

While most contemporary entertainers rely on a little of the old smoke and mirrors, no pop culture phenomenon requires the same suspension of disbelief as the 21st-century pop concert. When you pay your money, it is with the understanding that, while everything you see may be staged, the sentiment is real. And, since most of us cannot afford to see the same artist twice on the same tour, the bargain holds.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dust on the Nettles

kieron Tyler


Dust on the Nettles – A Journey Through the British Underground Folk Scene 1967–72Various Artists: Dust on the Nettles – A Journey Through the British Underground Folk Scene 1967–72

Read more...

Sacred Imaginations, Kings Place

peter Culshaw

This was one of the most crazily ambitious music projects of the year so far. Co-curators Sam Mills and Susheela Raman, with generous sponsorship, assembled their favourite musicians in different styles from Greece, Lebanon, Ethiopia and Russia under the title of Sacred Imaginations: New and Ancient Music From the Near East.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 6 - Miles Davis, Giant Sand and more

thomas H Green

It's becoming clear that the appeal of vinyl is two-fold. On the one hand there are older buyers who are returning to it as a validation of their own life journey though music and, on the other, there are young enthusiasts whose honeymoon with virtual music has tailed off and who enjoy vinyl's physicality. And then there's the whole dance music DJ subculture too.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Peter Zinovieff

kieron Tyler

 

Peter Zinovieff: Electronic Calendar – The EMS TapesPeter Zinovieff: Electronic Calendar – The EMS Tapes

Read more...

Seb Rochford and Co, Brilliant Corners

Thomas Rees

If you still haven’t been to Played Twice, a monthly jazz night held at Brilliant Corners in Dalston, I suggest you do something about it. The concept is simple. First there’s a playthrough of a landmark album on the venue’s top of the range analogue soundsystem – an anorak’s dream, all glistening valves and sleek silver turntables – and then a band reinterpret that recording live in the venue.

Read more...

Supersonic Festival, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The Supersonic Festival of the weird and the wonderful may now be in its 12th year but it is still more than living up to its long-running tag-line, “For curious audiences”. This year, an eager audience was treated to sets by both the Will Gregory Moog Ensemble and post-metalists Liturgy, as well as most points in between.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lesley Gore

kieron Tyler

 

Lesley Gore California NightsLesley Gore: California Nights

Read more...

Perfume Genius / Jenny Hval, RFH

Matthew Wright

Neither the name, the look, nor the recorded sound of Perfume Genius (*****) seems like the thing to set about a packed Royal Festival Hall with shock and awe, though there was plenty of both in last night’s show. The Seattle singer, known to his mum as Mike Hadreas, has developed a cult following for his ability to combine fragility and scorching power in lyrics of intelligence and versatility. Live, he displayed extraordinary vistas of emotional and techncial breadth.

Read more...

The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead

thomas H Green

What Wes Orshoski’s new documentary points out, above everything, is how much pop success relies on an ordered narrative and an easily understood package. First-wave British punk band The Damned, on the other hand, wrote as many great songs as their peers, but their career has been a mess of random creativity, changing line-ups and dreadful business decisions....

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Mothmen

kieron Tyler


The Mothmen Pay Attention!The Mothmen: Pay Attention!

Read more...

Songlines Encounters, Kings Place

tim Cumming

The fifth Songlines Encounters Festival at Kings Place brought together artists from around the world, offerering a powerful cultural kick-back against all manner of extremist positions. The opening Thursday featured young Portuguese Fado singer Gisela João, with Cypriot trio Monsieur Doumani, and the closing Saturday paired the Shikor Bangladesh All Stars with the Anglo-Bangladeshi Afrobeat Latin grooves of Lokkhi Terra.

Read more...

The Beach Boys, Royal Albert Hall

Matthew Wright

You might think that the carefree, gleeful melodies of sunny Californian surf-rock giants The Beach Boys would render them immune to the kind of egotistical wedge-driving that sunders most rock groups eventually. You would, of course, be wrong.

Read more...

Fatoumata Diawara and Roberto Fonseca, Barbican

Thomas Rees

Though they're separated by thousands of miles, Cuba and Mali share a common musical connection. Right at the heart of Cuban music lie rhythms from sub-saharan African and last night the two traditions were united once again when Havana-born piano virtuoso Roberto Fonseca (of Buena Vista Social Club fame) took the stage with Fatoumata Diawara, a Malian singer and guitarist who is fast becoming a giant of the world music scene.

Read more...

CD: Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard - Django and Jimmie

tim Cumming

Merle and Willie – these kind of senior country summits can either be a bit of a coaster, all well and good underneath your tumbler of Bourbon, or actually something to write home about. Keep this one away from the liquor.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Marvin Gaye

kieron Tyler

 

Marvin Gaye 1961–1965Marvin Gaye: Marvin Gaye 1961–1965

Read more...

Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Lisa-Marie Ferla

It seems a peculiar conceit to pack up a full symphony orchestra and choir and take them the length of the UK solely to perform suites of music from a popular television show – and I say this as a fan of the show in question.

Read more...

When Pop Ruled My Life, BBC Four

jasper Rees

A long time ago I went out into the field to research a feature about the three ages of obsessive fandom. At the entry level was a bog-standard legion of young teenage girls who simply hung around outside the mansion block in Maida Vale where one or possibly both of the Gosses (of Bros) lived. I also met three young women who had access to Jason Donovan’s diary and were traipsing around town in the hope of glimpse. Donovan’s star had waned but they hadn’t moved on.

Read more...

Fleetwood Mac, Reunion Tour, O2 Arena

jasper Rees

To begin at the very bizarre ending. Fleetwood Mac, finally reunited as a five-piece with Christine McVie stage right on luscious vocals and keyboard, had just thrashed out a show of great finesse for two hours. It had all gone peachily. McVie was given a last lovely encore - “Songbird” – crooned solo on a grand piano. That should have been it. Many were already going, or gone.

Read more...

Common People Festival, Southampton

Caspar Gomez

Perhaps it was after Bestival 2008 that its organizer, Rob da Bank, made his pact with the ancient gods. That year the Robin Hill Country Park site was reduced to a cold, sleet-raked, tornado-blown mire. The event truly lived up to every overuse of the word “mud” the British media hurls about eagerly each festival season. It was then, presumably, that da Bank, together with his acolytes in necromancy, turned to the pagan arts to facilitate positive weather conditions for future events.

Read more...

Carleen Anderson: A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan, Theatre Royal, Brighton

nick Hasted

Carleen Anderson’s range of vocal scales and styles is matchless in contemporary pop. Where she aims those enviable resources is the only issue anyone could have with her, a matter of taste she’ll eventually make irrelevant tonight with a flood of gospel-jazz exhilaration.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Damned

kieron Tyler


The Damned Go! 45The Damned: Go! 45

Read more...

Mark Knopfler, O2 Arena

russ Coffey

For many, Mark Knopfler will forever evoke a golden age of Eighties' soft rock. His headband might have been easy to mock but his blistering, finger-picking was undeniably thrilling. Latterly, though, Knopfler has travelled a less commercial path. Still, while his folk tendencies may not be everybody’s cup of tea, there's certainly more to Knopfler than just melancholy ballads.

Read more...

Benjamin Clementine, Theatre Royal, Brighton

thomas H Green

Benjamin Clementine’s idea of repartee with the audience is producing a clementine orange and smiling shyly. Clad in his trademark greatcoat-over-naked chest, with bare feet and outrageous pompadour hair, he sits at a spotlit grand piano and manoeuvres the fruit gently about before setting it down. It’s hardly even a gag but, given his between-song demeanour the rest of the time, this is the Clementine equivalent of prat-falling on a banana skin while making farting noises.

Read more...

Cat's Eyes live score for The Duke of Burgundy, Brighton Dome

Bella Todd

There’s an extraordinary moment, in Peter Strickland’s deeply sensual, desperately funny and feverishly powerful S&M love story, when a camera travels slowly into the darkness between a woman’s thighs. It’s an extraordinary moment in the soundtrack, too. In place of the golden strings and softly hovering choral notes, Brighton Dome suddenly fills with a monochrome electronic pulsing, as if an army of giant moths is flying over with wings of black sheet metal.

Read more...

The Joey Arias Experience, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Matthew Wright

Brighton whooped as if she had never seen risqué entertainment last night, as cabaret veteran Joey Arias brought his Billie Holiday-meets-bawdy-standup show to the Brighton Festival. Able to switch between sincere tribute and brilliantly, cathartically filthy jokes instantaneously, he makes an audience unfamiliar with his style take a few minutes to calibrate their response.

Read more...

Flavia Coelho, Rich Mix

peter Culshaw

Flavia Coelho once told me her parents in the favelas of Rio put an aluminium bucket over her head as the only way to calm her down. It was also a useful echo chamber to practise her singing. Her parents were hairdressers for drag queens. She still comes over an overactive child on stage and is one of the most dynamic live acts you are likely to see: she’s like a Duracell bunny on stage.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bobby Womack

kieron Tyler


Bobby Womack: The PreacherBobby Womack: The Preacher

Read more...

Kate Tempest, George the Poet, Brighton Corn Exchange

Caspar Gomez

Kate Tempest's long blonde-brown hair flailed as she prowled the stage, red-faced from exertion, adhering not a jot to the media’s tick-boxes for femininity. She is smaller, by far, than her backing band, dressed down in baggy sweatshirt and jeans.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 5

thomas H Green

The big vinyl storm in the US media over the last month has been a kerfuffle about VNYL, the service that hoped to do for vinyl what Lovefilm used to do for DVDs. The idea, backed by a hefty and successful Kickstarter campaign, was VNYL would send members three records, based on their stated tastes and chosen by connoisseurs. These could be listened to and returned, to be replaced with others. Sounds like a dreadful idea. Vinyl is delicate and surely one of its pleasures is ownership?

Read more...

Lambert & Stamp

kieron Tyler

“I fell in love with both of them immediately,” says Pete Townshend of Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp, the managers who took his band The Who to world-wide success. An hour into Lambert & Stamp, a documentary on the duo, the depth of that bond is belatedly seen in a touching clip of Townshend demonstrating one of his new songs. Singing with acoustic guitar, Townshend tries a tentative run-through of “Glittering Girl”.

Read more...

GoGo Penguin, Corn Exchange, Brighton

nick Hasted

It’s a shock to see the Corn Exchange’s hundreds of seats sold out for a jazz piano trio. When I first heard GoGo Penguin two winters ago, it was in an East London basement, where new recruit Nick Blacka’s thunderous double-bass was inspiring a few intrepid dancers to their skittering beats, among a crowd of dozens. Since then, there’s been a Mercury nomination, and a recent three-album deal with America’s gold-standard jazz label, Blue Note, a remarkable achievement for a British band.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Aarhus: SPOT Festival 2015

kieron Tyler

There’s no doubt SPOT is Europe’s tidiest music festival. In hosting SPOT, Denmark’s second-city Aarhus turns the expectation of what a festival can be around. There’s no mud, no one takes a stage late and the sound is always immaculate. Underworked stewards collect what little debris there is. The two main venues are so spotlessly non-rock they force the focus towards the music.

Read more...

Super Furry Animals, O2 Brixton Academy

Barney Harsent

The timing of this tour, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their self-released, lo-fi masterpiece Mwng, could not be more fitting. The album was inspired, in part, by Welsh language punk band Datblygu, and the left-wing political feelings that ran through that band’s work.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Spooky Tooth

kieron Tyler

 

Spooky Tooth: The Island Years (An Anthology) 1967–1974Spooky Tooth: The Island Years (An Anthology) 1967–1974

Read more...

Squarepusher, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

There’s an odd duality about Brighton tonight. Post-election, it’s a righteous oasis, a green and red bubble amid a sea of blue. Most of Britain may have chosen to systematically destroy the NHS and the education system but Brighton stands fast.

Read more...

Hoobastank, P.O.D., Alien Ant Farm, KOKO

Lydia Perrysmith

It was a strange atmosphere inside Camden’s KOKO last night, like a very particular nu metal subgroup of 2003 having a reunion. There was no one under the age of 20 but there were still dreadlocks and beards aplenty. First up on this nostalgia-fest were Alien Ant Farm, the American rock band who formed in 1995 in Riverside, California. By the time the band come out on stage, the crowd has had time to buy a few warm, over-priced beers and are ready to let loose.

Read more...

The Prodigy, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The over-full O2 Academy is already like a sauna, with sweat dripping down the walls and clouds of condensation drifting above the audience, before the Prodigy even take to the stage in Birmingham. However, when a fur-coated MC Maxim leads the band out the atmosphere goes up several notches further and then positively explodes as Liam Howlett lays down the intro to 1997’s hit single “Breath”.

Read more...

Laura Moody, The Old Church, Stoke Newington

russ Coffey

The venues Laura Moody has played on this, her first national tour, have included a launderette, a lighthouse, and the philosophy section of a well-known Oxford bookshop – all, apparently, selected for their “intimate and unusual” quality. It's certainly been an odd couple of months. On the other hand Acrobats, the album she featured last night, seemed a little more mainstream than her previous material. 

Read more...

The Warlocks, Rainbow, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The Warlocks are a psychedelic band from LA who dress not unlike the Velvet Underground in their prime and are clearly not given to star-like behaviour. They slope onto the stage at Birmingham’s Rainbow, tune up and burst straight into “Red Camera” from their 2009 album The Mirror Explodes. A heavy, dense mediation that comes on like a deep, Spacemen 3-flavoured drone, it whacks up the volume and sets the tone for the evening.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Eurovision 2015

kieron Tyler

 

Building Bridges Eurovision Song Contest  Vienna 2015Various Artists: Building Bridges - Eurovision Song Contest Vienna 2015

Read more...

San Fermin, Jazz Café

Matthew Wright

San Fermin have enough brass to rock Mardi Gras and the vocal range to stretch an opera chorus, but they are, still, a pop group. The Brooklyn indie octet’s straight-through rendition of their second album Jackrabbit, released last week, inspired the Jazz Café on Monday night, their obliquely hyperactive compositions, by Yale graduate and Nico Muhly associate Ellis Ludwig-Leone, decked in the gaudy distractions of the carnival.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dion

kieron Tyler

 

Dion Recorded Live at the Bitter End August 1971Dion: Recorded Live at the Bitter End August 1971

Read more...

The Fall, Brixton Electric

tim Cumming

They begin with “My Door is Never” from 2007 album Reformation Post TLC, and close a little over an hour later with “Sparta FC”, from early in the century, and from a long-gone Fall line-up. In between, a flurry of blurred, brutal songs from the new and most recent albums set about pummelling a packed house at the Brixton Electric.

Read more...

Public Service Broadcasting, Corn Exchange, Brighton

thomas H Green

A band are doing well if they have their audience laughing and cheering before they’ve even hit the stage. Such is the case with Public Service Broadcasting who show a creaky public information-style animation, with a distinct 1970s feel, prior to their appearance. In it we’re presented with Calman-esque cartoons Ralph and Geoffrey who each have contrasting approaches to using their mobile phones at concerts.

Read more...

Three Tales, Ensemble BPM, IMAX Science Museum

david Nice

Poised vibrantly enough between the buried-alive monotony of Philip Glass and the dynamic flights of John Adams, Steve Reich’s Three Tales deserves a special place in music-theatre history ("opera" it is not).

Read more...

Laura Marling, QEH

Fisun Güner

There’s no doubting the precocious talent of Laura Marling. At just 25 she recently released her fifth album, Short Movie, which matched the spiky introspection of song-writing previously driven by folk melodies with a new rock-orientated sound. Inspired by her two-year sojourn in LA, from which she returned late last year, the album tells of the usual romantic yearnings and scorned or broken love affairs, mixed with tales of everyday encounters with new age Californian mystics.

Read more...

Wild Card, Jazz Café POSK

Matthew Wright

Jazz-funk organ trio Wild Card have been slowly building a reputation for smoking funk tunes and grooves you could lose a pantechnicon in for some years now. Led by French guitarist Clément Régert, with organist Andy Noble and drummer Sophie Alloway, they perform with quite a range of guests, both instrumentalists and singers, which keeps the atmosphere of their repertoire fresh and varied.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bert Jansch

kieron Tyler

 

Bert Jansch debut LPBert Jansch: Bert Jansch

Read more...

The Necks, Village Underground

Matthew Wright

Novelty and rapture are rare commodities in Shoreditch these days, where everything has already been tried, and nothing surprises. But Australian post-jazz trio The Necks, ending their European tour at Village Underground last night, mesmerised the audience into dumbstruck awe with their slo-mo ambient improvisation.

Read more...

Paul Simon and Sting, O2 Arena

Fisun Güner

Put your hand up if you were in the audience last night, or indeed on any of the nights of this ambitious On Stage Together tour, and came only to see one man, and that man was Paul Simon. I’m sure you won’t need much nudging. After all, after almost six decades in the business, Simon’s star may have dipped – and endured the political controversy of the Graceland years – but has never faded. Sting’s meanwhile, certainly has.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: David Kauffman and Eric Caboor

kieron Tyler

 

David Kauffman and Eric Caboor: Songs From Suicide BridgeDavid Kauffman and Eric Caboor: Songs From Suicide Bridge

Read more...

Drenge, Institute, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Drenge made themselves known to the world some 18 months ago, surfing on the back of their abrasive self-titled debut album and some unexpected PR assistance from West Midlands MP Tom Watson. Back then, the Loveless brothers were a loud and lairy duo that took rock music by the scruff of the neck and knocked seven bells out of it with their stripped-down sound. With the recent release of their second album, Undertow, however, there have been some changes.

Read more...

A Place To Bury Strangers, Rainbow, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Dry ice began billowing from the stage of the Rainbow even before the house lights had dimmed and the between-band PA had faded out, allowing New York noiseniks A Place To Bury Strangers to slip behind their instruments unnoticed and burst into set-opener “Straight”, emerging from the fog like mighty sea creatures breaking the waves.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Fotheringay

kieron Tyler

 

Nothing More – The Collected FotheringayFotheringay: Nothing More – The Collected Fotheringay

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl Volume 4: Motorhead, Adrian Sherwood and more

thomas H Green

Record Store Day – 18 April – has been whipping up discord among independent labels. Notably, Sonic Cathedral are boycotting it, instead releasing 365 copies of an EP by Spectres and Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, one a day, over the next year.

Read more...

Wolf Alice, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Matthew Wright

They’ve yet to release an album, but the London-based, alt-rock four-piece Wolf Alice have already been called everything from shoegrunge to Brit-country, via indie-dance and riot-grrrl.  Last night they gave another compelling display of musical shape-shifting, which demonstrated why they’re known for seeming not to know what they are.

Read more...

CD: Brian Wilson – No Pier Pressure

Barney Harsent

There are certain things that you approach a Brian Wilson album expecting. Melody and harmony of course, but also a certain kind of approach: a fearlessness to experiment. When he finally completed the famously unfinished Smile in 2004, it was a landmark moment (though not, if we’re honest, as satisfying as the old demo versions).

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 13

kieron Tyler

Very often, the greatest impact comes without shouting. Subtlety can have a power lingering longer than the two-minute thrill of a yell. So it is with Bridges, the eighth album by Eivør. In the past, the Faroese singer-songwriter has collaborated with Canada’s Bill Bourne, the Danish Radio Big Band and Ireland’s Donal Lunny, and taken turns into country and jazz.

Read more...

Future Islands, Roundhouse

russ Coffey

It’s been just over a year since Future Islands’ Samuel T Herring famously gyrated, and chest-thumped his way through the band's latest single on American TV. The show was Letterman and the singer looked like a stevedore undergoing primal scream therapy. Within days the footage had gone viral. People have been talking about it ever since.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Specials

kieron Tyler

 

SpecialsThe Specials: Specials, More Specials; The Special AKA: In the Studio

Read more...

The Subways, Institute, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Not unreasonably, anyone might imagine that a band might lose a bit of their usual vigour if they found themselves four albums into their career playing in a room not much bigger than a church hall, miles from home on a cold Monday evening. Not so the Subways.

Read more...

Ian McCulloch, St Pauls Arts Centre, Worthing

thomas H Green

Things do not start well. Ian McCulloch, in trademark shades, apparently not aged a jot since Echo & the Bunnymen’s 1980s glory days, hits the stage in an offensive strop. He is performing a solo acoustic set from a chair. Beside him on a table sit a glass of water, a glass of milk and another glass with – at a guess – vodka and cranberry juice. He has the demeanour of a diva who’s been having a “party” in their changing room. Milk is good for settling an acid stomach.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Odyssey - A Northern Soul Time Capsule

kieron Tyler

 

The Odyssey A Northern Soul Time CapsuleVarious Artists: The Odyssey - A Northern Soul Time Capsule

Read more...

Sam Lee & Friends: Temples Tour

tim Cumming

Sam Lee launched his second album this week, the eagerly anticipated follow-up to his Mercury-nominated debut, A Ground of it Own.

Read more...

The Pursuit of Now, Sadler's Wells

Matthew Wright

Even for a dancer of Akram Khan’s sublime gifts, “Now” is an evasive concept to convey. During last night’s Sadler’s Wells extravaganza of Azerbaijani jazz and contemporary dance, “The Pursuit of Now”, Khan and his co-performer, the German-Korean dancer Honji Wang, mesmerised in a series of vignettes, gorgeously choreographed and lit.

Read more...

CD: Blancmange – Semi Detached

Barney Harsent

After waiting a quarter of a century for Blancmange’s last album, 2011’s Blanc Burn, this new offering, effectively a Neil Arthur solo project, almost feels like a rush release. There’s a much changed visual aesthetic – gone is the stylised, Fifties cover kitsch, replaced by something much more stark and impenetrable. Now, I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but what about CDs?

Read more...

Dr John & The NiteTrippers, Ronnie Scott's

Thomas Rees

Blues is an old man’s game. To do it properly you really have to have lived, and to have the scars and the criminal record to show for it. How do I know? Because Mac “Dr John” Rebennack is living proof. As he shuffled on at Ronnie Scott’s last night to join his NiteTripper four-piece, with a walking stick in each hand and his dreadlocked pony tail hanging over one shoulder, he had the look of a man who’s done himself serious damage over the years.

Read more...

The Stranglers, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Perhaps it’s because today’s economy often seems to reflect the nightmare of the late Seventies, but recent years have seen plenty of the original punks return to public attention with a renewed vigour. Whereas some, like support band The Rezillos, have reformed after a break of several decades, the Stranglers, despite a few line-up and stylistic changes, have never gone away and aren’t shy about playing a set of tunes drawn from their 40-year career.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Simple Minds

kieron Tyler

 

Simple Minds Sparkle in the RainSimple Minds: Sparkle in the Rain

Read more...

Paloma Faith, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

Paloma Faith has been on the front pages lately. Winning the Brit Award for Best Female Solo Artist 2015, following two previous unsuccessful nominations, has done her profile no harm. A few songs in tonight she squats down behind the grand piano and announces, “There’s a little thing round here,” then triumphantly produces her Brit, dedicating it to her audience.

Read more...

Spandau Ballet, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

Of course they had to end with “Gold”. It’s one of those songs which, once heard, even if you dislike Spandau Ballet, is impossible to remove from the brain, a bona fide Eighties classic. Lead singer Tony Hadley and guitarist Gary Kemp, the man who wrote their songs, even performed a short acoustic version earlier on, perched amid the Brighton Centre’s 4500 capacity crowd in the sound desk area.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tav Falco

kieron Tyler


Hip Flask – An Introduction to Tav Falco & Panther BurnsTav Falco & Panther Burns: Hip Flask – An Introduction to Tav Falco & Panther Burns

Read more...

Say Yes To Another Excess - TWERK, Sadler's Wells

Heidi Goldsmith

"The music will be loud," the slender usher warns on entry to altered natives' "Say Yes To Another Excess" – TWERK, as a Grime bassline shakes the flimsy theatre floor. She hands over a text-heavy programme and does not frisk me. This is no London Bridge warehouse, although bouncers giving out freesheets on the door could be a great way to get the middle classes down to a rave. For now regular Rinse FM DJs Skilliam and Elijah are coming to the ballet.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 3 - Nick Cave, Max Richter, Vessels, and more

thomas H Green

Did you know there's a heated debate going on about “hot stampers”? As the resurgence in vinyl continues, there are those who wish to attribute value to their own knowledge and to their vinyl collections. In the e-consumer trenches, where audiophiles heatedly discuss purchasing and repurchasing classic albums, there’s been much debate about major label reproductions from digital masters, about how they lose the richness of the originals.

Read more...

tUnE-yArDs, Royal Festival Hall

Katie Colombus

For the headliners of the Women Of The World Festival at London's Southbank Centre, there is less feisty feminism put on for show than you might expect. It's a nod to how far things have progressed - that other than the obligiatory thanksgiving for "being a loud woman on a stage of loud women plus a man who loves women", it's strength of self belief in the artists of tUnE-yArDs that lets us know what they believe in - and it's truly inspiring.

Read more...

Mari Kvien Brunvoll, Kings Place

Heidi Goldsmith

Mari Kvien Brunvoll - Norwegian improviser, singer and composer - enters the Kings Place stage more like a pianist's page-turner than the night's sole performer, and sits cross-legged at her pedals. Dressed in a neutral dark grey, she doesn't seek applause so instead we are left silently watching her adjust a microphone and untie a little red book. Her methodical calm creates a patient audience, intrigued enough to find her subtle actions compelling. 

Read more...

Spectres, The Lexington

Barney Harsent

I first saw Spectres last October at the 10th birthday celebrations for their label, Sonic Cathedral. That night, they struck me as noisy, spiky and fun. If that sounds like faint praise, it really wasn't meant to be – noisy, spiky fun is in my all-time top three funs.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Bridget St. John

kieron Tyler


Bridget St. John: Dandelion Albums & BBC CollectionBridget St. John: Dandelion Albums & BBC Collection

Read more...

Jazz for Labour, Barbican

Thomas Rees

Jazz and politics go way back. Throughout its history the music has been involved with underground resistance movements in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. It was inextricably entwined with civil rights campaigns in the United States and it played a part in the struggle against South African apartheid.

Read more...

The War on Drugs, O2 Academy Brixton

Barney Harsent

It would probably be best to start this review with a mention of the band, The War on Drugs, whose 2014 LP, Lost in the Dream, saw them realise their potential in a flurry of "Best Of" lists and almost unbelievable hyperbole. However, before we get fully into that, I should state, for the record, that I’ve always hated Brixton Academy.

Read more...

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

“The Sun comes up, another day begins/And I don’t even worry ‘bout the state I’m in.” One of the great opening lines in rock and a motto to live by. The Jesus & Mary Chain lay into their second single, "Never Understand", with deadpan gusto, their soundman pushing the decibels up. Murky silhouettes amid dry ice under an array of strobing lights, they hammer it home. Jim Reid is at the microphone, clad in a box jacket and jeans, looking much as he ever did but with cropped monkish hair....

Read more...

Weyes Blood, The Old Blue Last

Matthew Wright

Pennsylvanian singer-songwriter Natalie Mering, aka Weyes Blood, performed her intoxicating brew of Gothic folk-tronica in Shoreditch last night, as part of a short UK tour playing the songs of her second album, The Innocents. Allusive, multi-layered (both in terms of tracks and themes), generically ambiguous and wryly humorous, she wasn’t perhaps an obvious choice for a lagered-up Saturday night crowd wanting boogie beats.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Zakary Thaks

kieron Tyler

 

The Zakary Thaks It’s the End The Definitive CollectionThe Zakary Thaks: It’s the End – The Definitive Collection

Read more...

George Ezra, O2 Academy, Brixton

russ Coffey

Well, the vocals were certainly formidable...but what else would you expect? As a teenager George Ezra says he would listen for hours to his dad’s Leadbelly albums, whilst gazing at sleeve notes that read: “This voice is so big you may need to turn your record player down.” That was Ezra’s inspiration. Last night his own voice was sufficient to fill Brixton Academy.

Read more...

Bob Dorough and Friends, Pizza Express Jazz Club

peter Quinn

Aged 91, and as frisky as a newborn puppy, the US singer, pianist and songwriter Bob Dorough is a sui generis stylist whose smart lyrics – delivered in an understated southern brogue – and nimble pianism which nods to both bebop and swing masters, combine to produce something quite unlike anything else in jazz. But what really lit up the Pizza Express Jazz Club was the joie de vivre of Dorough's performance, his humour and love of the ludic.

Read more...

CD: Carter Tutti – Carter Tutti Plays Chris & Cosey

Barney Harsent

There’s a danger in an artist having their work reinterpreted that the end result will be little more than a rough outline of the original. Look at Metallica’s axe job on the Velvet Underground for instance. Still, on the bright side, at least they increased the band’s "reach" to include jocks and morons.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

kieron Tyler


ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK JUNK CULTURE DELUXE EDITIONOrchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Junk Culture

Read more...

Gruff Rhys, KOKO

jasper Rees

First there was the movie, the album, the book and the app. Now there is the tour. American Interior, Gruff Rhys’s postmodern narrative concept, has spread tentacles in any number of media. At the heart of it is the mythic story of John Evans, a young Welsh explorer who in the 1780s took himself off deep into the unvanquished heart of America in search of a myth, the lost Welsh-speaking tribe of Madog.

Read more...

Gorgon City, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

The vibe in the Concorde last night was unbelievably up. The short version of this review is that the band are decent live but the crowd made the evening fizz with manic human electricity. Gorgon City, like a less funk-based Rudimental, performed songs that magpie about the history of electronic dance music, focusing especially on the classic house template, but attaching it all to soul-pop songwriting.

Read more...

Amina Figarova Sextet and Isfar Sarabski Trio, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Wright

“Jazzerbaijan”, the giddy publicity tag attached to last night’s double bill of Azeri jazz at Ronnie Scott’s, was sounding soberly appropriate by the end of a dazzling display of generic shape-shifting by the young Isfar Sarabski Trio. A packed and exuberant audience thrilled to his sound, which seemed to transcend generic boundaries with a breath-taking lyricism and fluency.

Read more...

Ennio Morricone, O2 Arena

thomas H Green

This concert is called My Life in Music and the Italian film composer Ennio Morricone seems determined to take us on a journey from his origins in Italian B pictures to inarguable and gigantic orchestral opulence. In the 1960s he put together iconic and resonant music on a tight budget, with limited ensembles and quirky instrumentation. These made his name, along with that of the director Sergio Leone.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Martin Hannett & Steve Hopkins

kieron Tyler

 

Martin Hannett Steve Hopkins The Invisible GirlsMartin Hannett & Steve Hopkins: The Invisible Girls

Read more...

Tutuguri, BBCSO, Nagano, Barbican

Peter Quantrill

If what you wanted to do was go out to the middle of the Mexican desert, invert the Cross and dip it in blood, screaming obscenities all the while, surrounded by a sunburnt band of fellow travellers all off their heads on mescalin, Tutuguri is definitely the music you’d want to do it to.

Read more...

Konono Nº1, Café Oto

Heidi Goldsmith

Rarely in London do the lights rise up after a live gig to reveal eyeballs glistening with euphoria, total body sweat and a communal stitch gradually dying down among the water-guzzling herd. Indeed it’s an unusually bestial scene for Café Oto, mostly home to a more intellectual post-concert fervour. But fully-misted windows and naked midriffs, it turns out, suit their concrete Berlin-esque chic surprisingly well. 

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Motorpsycho

kieron Tyler


motorpsycho demon boxMotorpsycho: Demon Box

Read more...

Alice Russell, Jazz Café

Thomas Rees

You know what really grinds my gears? Bands that only have one. One gear, one level of intensity. For a good hour of last night’s set, diminutive diva Alice Russell, the voice behind countless Quantic hits and that cover of “Seven Nation Army” that no one would shut up about back in 2005, was guilty of just that.

Read more...

Nicola Conte, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Gloriously feel-good, unashamedly retro, uniformly urbane, the Nicola Conte Combo presented a set that was bursting with fantastic melodies last night at Ronnie Scott's.

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl: Volume 2

thomas H Green

Did you know that Jack White’s Lazaretto album sold nearly 87,000 copies on vinyl last year? Sales continue to rise all over with European manufacturing facilities running at full tilt. Given the demand for vinyl has risen 800% in the last decade, that’s not so surprising. Dance music, as ever, lauds the format, with the massive Tomorrowland rave/festival in Belgium this July announcing a vinyl-only stage to be headed up by long time aficionado, Sven Väth.

Read more...

Jessie J, Eventim Apollo

Matthew Wright

The echoes of last summer’s number one hit “Bang Bang” had hardly faded when Jessie J’s third album Sweet Talker was released to a largely positive reception last October. She’s been on the road on and off ever since, and though her act never seems short of either energy or self-belief, you might expect to see some signs of flagging after such a relentless display of girl power. Not a bit of it: her all-action show hit Hammersmith last night.

Read more...

Ghostpoet, Village Underground

Katie Colombus

Ghostpoet – aka Obaro Ejimiwe – released his first album Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam in 2010. He has since been named as The Guardian’s New Band of the Day, nominated for a Mercury Prize and toured the festival circuit with the likes of Metronomy. His third album Shedding Skin, due to be released on March 2nd, was the focus of Pias Nites at Shoreditch’s Village Underground.

Read more...

Julian Cope, Glee Club, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

While Julian Cope’s albums are usually fairly expansive affairs which employ a vast array of instruments, an audience with the Arch Drude is a more intimate affair these days. There’s no backing band and the man takes to the stage armed only with a 12-string acoustic guitar, a microphone and a few effects pedals. There’s also a big bass drum set up on stage with “You can’t beat your brain for entertainment” written on the skin – but that’s just a prop and doesn’t get played.

Read more...

Jan Garbarek Group, Stormen, Bodø

kieron Tyler

Norway’s celebrated jazz colossus Jan Garbarek hadn’t played the north Norwegian city of Bodø for 15 years. Moreover, he and his group took the stage of the spanking new Stormen concert house as the openers of Bodø Jazz Open, the city’s four-day festival of all that is and isn’t strictly jazz. If there was any pressure, it didn’t show. Resolutely composed during his hour and three-quarters on stage, Garbarek also said nothing.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tyrannosaurus Rex

kieron Tyler

 

Read more...

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, October Gallery

tim Cumming

There have been Throbbing Gristle reunions at Tate Modern, and Psychic TV last played in London at the now-demolished Astoria in 2008 – the band in nurse’s uniforms, playing psych garage rock over projections of medical procedures and sex scenes – but it’s a long time since Genesis Breyer P-Orridge was in London.

Read more...

PJ Harvey: Recording in Progress, Artangel at Somerset House

mark Kidel

Artangel continues to instigate extraordinary events in extraordinary places. Over the past two decades and more, directors Michael Morris and James Lingwood have helped generate major and ground-breaking work by Rachel Whiteread, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Roni Horn, Jeremy Deller, Steve McQueen, Matthew Barney, Gregor Schneider, Francis Alÿs and many others. It's a long list.

Read more...

Latvian Radio Choir, Kļava, St John's Smith Square

Gavin Dixon

Latvia likes to be different. At least that’s the message they sent out with the cultural programme marking the start of the country’s presidency of the Council of the European Union. Pomp and circumstance were out, and instead we got a Cage-inspired happening, an audio/visual presentation that was many things: part video installation, part performance art. The only thing you couldn’t describe it as was a choral concert.

Read more...

Die Antwoord, O2 Academy Brixton

russ Coffey

After three albums the question remains: is Die Antwoord more than a just a clever joke or is the act simply a caricature of South Africa’s trashy “Zef”-side? The guys and gal behind "Ninja and Yo-landi Vi$$er" are in no doubt – they claim to be “conceptual artists”. And many fans agree, saying that besides the posturing lie some real cultural truths. Last night three or so thousand descended on Brixton to make up their own minds.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Radio Birdman

kieron Tyler

 

Radio Birdman box setRadio Birdman: Radio Birdman

Read more...

First Aid Kit, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

All-seater, up-market concert halls can be a bit intimidating to bands when they are used to more intimate venues. Silences can feel awkward and stage talk can dry up or be reduced to perfunctory “thank you”s. So it almost proved this evening when First Aid Kit strode onto the stage of Birmingham’s Symphony Hall.

Read more...

Paolo Nutini, O2 Arena

Matthew Wright

With his new soul-inflected rasp, there aren’t many singers better equipped to perform through a bout of tonsillitis than Paolo Nutini. (Tom Waits won’t, alas, be selling out the O2.) Last night’s gig was re-scheduled from November when the infection struck. It was postponed even longer than expected for the members of the audience arriving on the broken-down Jubilee line.  

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Magma

kieron Tyler

 

Magma KöhntarköszMagma: Köhntarkösz, Köhntarkösz Anteria, Ëmëhntëhtt-Ré

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Powder

kieron Tyler


Powder Ka-Pow! An Explosive Collection 1967–68Powder: Ka-Pow! An Explosive Collection 1967–68

Read more...

Best of 2014: Gigs

theartsdesk

From the clubs of Berlin to the pubs of Birmingham, via Somerset and New York, our new music writers select their most memorable gigs of 2014.

 

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sly Stone

kieron Tyler

 

I'm Just Like You Sly's Stone Flower 1969–70Various Artists: I'm Just Like You – Sly's Stone Flower 1969–70

Read more...

Madness, O2 Arena

Matthew Wright

There were silly hats, and venerable, bouncy songs for all the family at the O2 last night. The traditional Madness December tour was Christmas come early for most of the audience, who sang about home, love, and the Middle East as they might do in church next week with rather less enthusiasm. The band’s original hits still hit the spot, though there was also a sense that, as with Christmas carols, the new ones mean well, but just aren’t as good.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Millions Like Us

kieron Tyler

 

Millions Like UsVarious Artists: Millions Like Us - The Story of the Mod Revival 1977–1989

Read more...

theartsdesk on Vinyl

thomas H Green

Have you been to a record shop lately? Now that our honeymoon with virtual music is revealed as completely lacking romance, record shops are thriving again. And it’s not CDs these shoppers are after. Those have been squeezed off into a far corner stocking only immediately sellable fare such as The Beatles, The Smiths, Led Zep, and early Oasis. No, the rest of the shop has been taken over by hoards, layers, tranches of alphabetized 12” vinyl, ordered by genre.

Read more...

The Human League, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

The Human League front-load their set to such a degree it’s unclear how they’re going to maintain such momentum. Their stage set is amazing, just for starters. Stage-length steps rise up to a podium at the back, on which two synth-players are placed either side of the drummer, the backing band, all of them and all around in white. Surrounding the whole lot are three layers of equally white hoarding upon which projections and lighting effects envelop the performance.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Czars

kieron Tyler


The Czars Best ofThe Czars: Best of

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: 2014 Revisited

kieron Tyler

With just over two weeks to Christmas, thoughts might be turning to which of the deluge of 2014’s reissues might be suitable as a gift, worth putting on your own wish-list for Santa or even merit buying for yourself. So if help is needed, theartsdesk is happy to provide a one-stop guide to the essential reissues covered so far this year.

Read more...

Jon Hopkins, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

The last time I saw Jon Hopkins he was bangin’ out techno to a marquee full of sweating ravers at a festival on the Silesian plains of Poland, one man and a small gaggle of black boxes. Today the boxes have expanded from a small gaggle into a congregation and he is joined, upon occasion, by guitarist Leo Abrahams and a violinist, as well as a hefty dose of backdrop visuals and lighting.

Read more...

Marianne Faithfull, Royal Festival Hall

Heidi Goldsmith

“I have quit smoking!” the rock star exclaims to rapturous applause, taking a luxurious drag on an e-cigarette. And the artificial smoke dissipates across the stage, revealing a 67-year-old Marianne Faithfull perched on an antique leather chair, shoulder raised and pouting as if caricaturing her own youth.

Read more...

Jaga Jazzist, Union Chapel

Thomas Rees

Expectations can be dangerous when it comes to live music, but sometimes managing them is easier said than done. Go and see a band like Jaga Jazzist, a genre-crossing collective of Norwegian multi-instrumentalists who skyrocketed to fame in 2002 when the BBC named A Livingroom Hush jazz album of the year, and you expect it to be big. Especially when it’s the group’s 20th anniversary tour and you arrive at Union Chapel to find the queue stretching around the block.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Native North America

kieron Tyler

 

Read more...

Lily Allen, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

There is an odd moment about halfway through Lily Allen’s set. Clad in a shaggy white mini dress akin to a Puli dog’s coat, she announces the next song will divide the audience into those that love it and those that hate it. Her sweet voice then wraps itself around the soundtrack to last year’s John Lewis seasonal TV ad, her version of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know”.

Read more...

J-Sonics, The Hideaway, Streatham

Matthew Wright

Last night Latin jazzers J-Sonics confirmed their reputation as one of the most compelling proponents of the delicate art of fusion with a deeply grooving, deeply addictive performance of their propulsive repertoire.

Read more...

Kasabian, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

It has become a staunch tradition that Kasabian gigs end with their fourth single, 2004’s “L.S.F. (Lost Souls Forever)”. By the time they reach it, a good chunk of the Brighton Centre’s capacity crowd, encouraged by guitarist Serge Pizzorno, have clambered on the shoulders of an associate.

Read more...

The National, O2 Arena

Matthew Wright

Until recently, The National were a band for the knowing connoisseur, best known for their wry wit and tasteful guitar sheen. They seemed too niche for the O2 Arena, where they played their biggest ever UK headline last night. But that big tent of consumerism has now claimed them, and before an appreciative but rather lukewarm audience, somehow they seemed a little more ordinary and mainstream.

Read more...

Charles Lloyd / Joe Lovano and Dave Douglas, Barbican

Thomas Rees

It’s not easy to write about a gig when you’re still shaking with adrenaline, still less so when that gig is the grand finale of the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival, the climax to a giddy ten days of world-class contemporary music. But it’s a cross I’ll have to bear, because last night’s performance from legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd and jazz giants tenorist Joe Lovano and trumpeter Dave Douglas demands it.

Read more...

Robert Mitchell's 'Invocation', Queen Elizabeth Hall

peter Quinn

Imaginatively constructed and endlessly surprising, this world premiere of the complete version of pianist Robert Mitchell's choral work Invocation elicited one of the most moving performances I had the pleasure of hearing at this year's EFG London Jazz Festival.

Read more...

Kasse Mady Diabate, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre

tim Cumming

Kassé Mady Diabaté is one of the great singers of West Africa, a member of Toumani Diabaté's Symmetric Orchestra and, more recently, the Afrocubism all-star line-up.

Read more...

Celebrating 75 years of Blue Note, Royal Festival Hall

peter Quinn

Paying homage to the legendary imprint that brought us 'The Finest In Jazz Since 1939', this concert on the penultimate evening of the EFG London Jazz Festival really did have everything, including the unlikely sight of master pianist Robert Glasper pirouetting across the Royal Festival Hall stage. The first half saw Glasper in duo with fellow NYC-based Houstonian, pianist Jason Moran, in an extraordinary, hour-long set that referenced jazz past, present and future.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jon Hassell / Brian Eno

kieron Tyler


Jon Hassell Brian Eno Fourth World Vol. 1 Possible MusicsJon Hassell / Brian Eno: Fourth World Vol. 1 - Possible Musics

Read more...

Tomasz Stanko, Barbican

peter Culshaw

If you were to wander in off the streets and catch this band randomly you would be amazed to find such accomplished musicians. But this wasn’t any old gig, it was one of the masters of jazz, Tomasz Stanko. It should have been one of the highlights of the EFG London Jazz Festival and expectations were running high.

Read more...

John McLaughlin / Hedvig Mollestad, Royal Festival Hall

Matthew Wright

John McLaughlin made history at the Royal Festival Hall 25 years ago when he recorded a superb album featuring Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. Last night’s performance with his fusion quartet 4th Dimension was not epochal in quite that way. The repertoire and style was largely familiar, much of it released on the band’s album earlier this year, the pieces in many cases reworked from earlier McLaughlin material.

Read more...

Bellowhead, Shepherd's Bush Empire

tim Cumming

It’s been ten years since Bellowhead forged their riotous, rigorous pogo-folk, tooled up and fuelled up for closing festivals and getting the crowd to its feet, and they’ve won as many ‘best live act’ gongs as they’ve released records. Now signed to Island, and with their fifth album Revival in tow, the 11-strong troupe are a good way through a tour that lasts to the end of November, and proved to be in peak condition. 

Read more...

Snarky Puppy, The Roundhouse

peter Quinn

It's day five of the EFG London Jazz Festival, and Snarky Puppy's show at the Roundhouse has sold out weeks in advance. And, as the crowd sings the gorgeous main theme of “Thing of Gold” in perfect unison, one of the reasons for the band's huge success becomes apparent. Yes, there's brilliant musicianship, spirited improv, blazing energy and the kind of impressively vast textures that only a band this size can achieve. But there's something else, which trumps all of these things.

Read more...

Loop, The Garage, London

Barney Harsent

You know that thing? That thing that bands of a certain age do? You know… the thing where they get all misty-eyed about past glories and decide to get the band together for one last spin of the big hits? Well, the continuing story of Loop is about as far removed from that as it’s possible to be.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Reykjavík: Iceland Airwaves 2014

kieron Tyler

A slim 69-year-old man in a rumpled sports jacket looking like a gone-to-seed history lecturer with the colour-clash dress sense of Michael Portillo is gripping a microphone so hard it’s a wonder it hasn’t been crushed. He is barking lyrics in Icelandic so gruffly that this could be any Celtic or Nordic language.

Read more...

The Kooks, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Brighton’s guitar pop outfit, the Kooks have been churning out largely pleasant but fairly bland songs since their 2006 debut Inside In/Inside Out. Recent album Listen, however, has suggested that things might be changing. Less evident, but not entirely banished, are the unremarkable strum-alongs, with a rawer and funkier groove edging its way into a few of their tunes with some success.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Velvet Underground

kieron Tyler


The Velvet Underground ThirdThe Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground Super Deluxe Edition

Read more...

Jazz Voice, Barbican/Jazz on 3, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Is it just me, or do Guy Barker's orchestral charts for Jazz Voice get more refined, more nuanced, more richly detailed every year? Effectively becoming earworm central last night, the Barbican resounded with tintinnabulating glockenspiels, delicately plucked harp strings, punchy horn charts and luxuriant strings, as Barker sprinkled his arranging magic over the customary epoch-spanning celebration of anniversaries, birthdays and milestones stretching back from 2014.

Read more...

Kate Tempest, The Haunt, Brighton

thomas H Green

Even before Kate Tempest appears, it’s clear this isn’t going to be an evening of slam poetry jamming. Her band walk on, three guys who attack a line-up of electronic kit with vigour, one wielding drumsticks, alongside Anth Clarke, a striking black female MC, who looks like a 2007 nu-raver in baseball cap, white sunglasses and a crop top.

Read more...

Susheela Raman, Jazz Cafe

peter Culshaw

If a band gets up and says “We are only going to be playing songs from our new album, not actually released here yet” normally most audiences would groan mightily. But somehow Susheela Raman has educated her audience to expect the unexpected. Her somewhat wayward musical path has included Indo-jazz, rock covers, Tamil voodoo music and introspective songs. It has not been one that a manager or record company would have recommended. They tend to like more of the same.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Cyril Davies, Girls With Guitars

kieron Tyler


The Cyril Davies' All-Stars: Radio Sounds of Cyril Davies The Cyril Davies' All-Stars: Radio Sounds of Cyril Davies Various Artists: Girls With Guitars

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 12

kieron Tyler

The voice is unmistakably Icelandic. Fluting and dancing around the notes, the words it carries are broken into segments which don’t respect syllables. Although singing in English, Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir hasn’t sacrificed her Icelandic intonation.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Love, The Red Crayola

kieron Tyler


Love Love SongsLove: Love Songs The Red Crayola: The Parable of the Arable Land

Read more...

Sheryl Crow, Royal Albert Hall

Matthew Wright

Sheryl Crow doesn’t do genres. She may have recorded her first authentically country album, Feels Like Home, in Nashville recently, but for her, the tag seems to mean little. “It’s country, but it just sounds like a Sheryl Crow record,” she told the BluesFest audience last night, and whenever the subject came up afterwards, she put finger-wiggling inverted commas around the term “country”.

Read more...

Elvis Costello, Royal Albert Hall

Fisun Güner

Georgie Fame opened the evening with a five-piece band, including the singer on his old Hammond organ. Favourites such as “Yeh, Yeh” were belted out to pleasing effect, as well as covers that included Van Morrison’s “Moondance” (Morrison played the packed-out BluesFest the previous evening). It was a strange, “extended” version that paid homage to a Paul Robeson number – Fame boomed out an African chant that bookended the song.

Read more...

Fuse ODG, Under the Bridge

Matthew Wright

The Afrobeats scene is coming to a venue near you. Anglo-Ghanaian artist Fuse ODG, who won the best African Act MOBO last week for the second year running, launched his first album T.I.N.A. last night with a relentless, exuberant performance that brought out the African party flavour to these songs. His album release and tour, on the back of the MOBO success, marks a significant moment in his progression from niche internet popularity to the mainstream.  

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Minny Pops, The Pop Group

kieron Tyler


Minny Pops: Drastic Measures, Drastic MovementMinny Pops: Drastic Measures, Drastic Movement The Pop Group: Cabinet of Curiosities, We are Time

Read more...

Lady Gaga, O2 Arena, London

thomas H Green

Gaga’s relationship with her fanbase, her “Little Monsters”, is quite a thing. I’ve not seen the O2 so permanently on its feet. Large swathes of her capacity crowd are up and dancing right from the opening number. They adore her and are dressed to show it, from middle-aged ladies to gay men to teenage girls to many multitudes of humanity in between.

Read more...

John Cooper Clarke, Town Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

John Cooper Clarke has assumed many roles since he came motoring out of Salford in the mid Seventies, spitting out poetry from a distinctly untraditional view point. There were tales of how you’d never see a nipple in the Daily Express (“This paper’s boring mindless mean, full of pornography, the kind that’s clean”) and marrying a monster from outer space (“We walked out tentacle in hand.

Read more...

Culture Club, Heaven

Matthew Wright

In the time that Culture Club have been planning reunions, bands, movements, whole musical eras have come and gone. And still, once every couple of years, a rumour circulates, and a demo is aired. Generally, nothing comes of it, and those memories of dancing drunkenly to “Karma Chameleon” grow a little fainter. Now, with last night’s taster gig at Heaven (where the band gave their first big London performance in 1982), we can definitively say, they are back.

Read more...

Nick Mulvey, Komedia, Brighton

thomas H Green

The humming is rising. Only three songs in and already a large section of the crowd is swaying, tranced out, from side to side, like southern Baptists, swept along by an extended version of “Meet Me There” from Nick Mulvey’s 2014 Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut album First Mind. The Komedia’s basement is an odd venue. It has a very low ceiling and takes exact ratios of performance energy, visual impact and audience goodwill to make it work.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Madness

kieron Tyler

 

Madness One Step Beyond 35th AnniversaryMadness: One Step Beyond - 35th Anniversary Edition

Read more...

Sandra Nkaké and Jî Drû, Pizza Express Jazz Club - "mesmerising, leonine"

Matthew Wright

A first live experience of the French-Cameroonian singer Sandra Nkaké leaves many questions unanswered. Once the immediate bewilderment has passed, the most pressing question for a British audience should be: why is this extraordinary performer not block-booking the festival circuit?

Read more...

The Buzzcocks, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

Apologies, I missed nearly half the concert. I turned up at 9.00 when I’d been told the gig began but they started half an hour early. Apparently it was a last minute decision. There we go. When I crushed into the back of the Concorde 2, a space jammed mostly with men between 35 and 55, Buzzcocks guitarist Steve Diggle, clad in a polka dot shirt, was singing “Sick City Sometimes” from their eponymous 2003 album. It’s no classic but Diggle was throwing his every ounce of zest at it.

Read more...

Björk: Biophilia Live

russ Coffey

From David Attenborough’s spoken introduction to the blonde, robed backing singers, Biophilia Live sees Björk in full experimental flow. Indeed, sometimes the film seems almost as if documenting the ceremonial workings of a science-based cult rather than covering an avant-garde pop show. Musically it is reverent, the atmosphere is cerebral, and, above all, Björk’s persona is shamanistic.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Bevis Frond

kieron Tyler

 

The Bevis Frond: MiasmaThe Bevis Frond: Miasma

Read more...

Caro Emerald, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

Towards the end of her set Caro Emerald performs “History Repeating”, a hit song from 1997 that revived Shirley Bassey’s cool quota when she sang it with successful big beat duo, the Propellerheads. It’s perfect for Emerald, just the right ratio of hip electronic touches and classic showbiz pizzazz. This is where she lives, musically, dipped in swing-era vintage, but lathered in modernist sonic frolics.

Read more...

Bebel Gilberto, Barbican

peter Culshaw

Bebel Gilberto seemed very tentative when she first appeared onstage; dressed in semi-Goth black, she kept saying how nervous she was. “Calm down, Bebel. It’s only the Barbican,” she muttered and we did get a sense of the terror and exhilaration of performing live to a big crowd. Her shambolic approach is in some ways, though, preferable to some slick operators who have their stage patter timed to the second. There’s a problem with a wire, she goes off-stage.

Read more...

Stacey Kent, Ronnie Scott's - 'sublime miniaturism'

Matthew Wright

“Were we leaving Rio, or were we in New York?” Stacey Kent sings in “The Changing Lights”, the title song of her latest album, before moving on seamlessly to “Les Invalides, or Trafalgar Square”. The prosperous, wistful ennui that some of her recorded songs exude, propelled by her impeccable enunciation and glistening tone, is cosmopolitan with a slightly laminated, departure-lounge sameness. It can feel a little bit like a global franchise in polite enervation.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Oasis

kieron Tyler


Oasis: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory?Oasis: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

Read more...

Goat, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

This is what Goat look like: There are seven of them, five band members and two front-women, the latter constantly whirling about the stage like dervishes. One of the guitarists and the bassist are clad in dark attire with black cowls over their heads akin to those worn by nomadic Arabic riders in the Sahara – but also a little like hangmen.

Read more...

Transgressive Records 10th Anniversary Concert, Barbican

Heidi Goldsmith

Transgressive is a bold statement for a record label's tin and, on their 10th anniversary celebration last night, there appeared instead a Caucasian calm to the events. From optimistic William Blake lyric loops in the foyer, to the persistent professions of love from the audience for anyone under the limelight.

Read more...

Andrea Motis / Joan Chamorro Quintet, Pizza Express Jazz Club

Matthew Wright

Amy Winehouse, Esperanza Spalding, and Roberto Fonseca were the names tossed and bandied after a London debut of extraordinary charm and maturity from the 19-year-old Spanish singer and multi-instrumentalist Andrea Motis. While a modest Soho crowd was dwarfed by the audience at the Barcelona Jazz Festival where she became, in 2012, the youngest performer to headline, there was a communal tingle of recognition, that we’d witnessed the start of something big.

Read more...

Vance Joy, Institute, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Vance Joy does not pull in the kind of crowd that you might imagine would be wowed by a ukulele or an acoustic guitar. In fact, at the Birmingham date of his sold out UK tour, the place was rammed with fresh-faced teenagers and 20-somethings who were not only unlikely to know any of arch-folkie Richard Thompson’s tunes but also unlikely to have heard of the bloke at all.

Read more...

Sahara Soul, Barbican

Heidi Goldsmith

Exoticisation, at an event named "Sahara Soul", was perhaps inevitable. With Tuareg jewellery and souvenirs in the foyer, there was a touristic expectation last night that these genuine desert-dwellers would bring the burning spirit of the Saharan blues along with their glinting necklaces. Indeed the first set was the diamond display of an all-star ensemble, brought together exclusively for this performance as part of the Barbican’s Transcender Festival.

Read more...

Kylie, iTunes Festival, Roundhouse

Fisun Güner

Does Kylie exist without spectacle? Take away the 6ft headgear, the sparkly hotpants, the spangly corsets, the team of super-fit dancers dressed like futuristic liquorice allsorts, and what’s left? If you find whatever it is, please let me know. 

Read more...

Carthy Hardy Farrell Young + Newton, Cecil Sharp House

tim Cumming

Each of them is a solo, duo or group artist of high renown, but together, something special happens. On record it’s called Laylam; on stage, Eliza Carthy, Bella Hardy, Lucy Farrell and Kate Young are the best girl group in Britain.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Black Widow

kieron Tyler


Black Widow: SacrificeBlack Widow: Sacrifice

Read more...

Mary J Blige, iTunes Festival, Roundhouse

adam Sweeting

Trailing a string of Grammys and multi-platinum albums, and now a successful actress and purveyor of her own "My Life" perfume for good measure, you wouldn't think R&B legend Blige had much left to prove. However, she evidently sees it differently, and she ripped through this compressed and streamlined Roundhouse set as if lives were at stake.

Read more...

Angel Olsen, Electric Ballroom

Katherine McLaughlin

“You don’t always get what you want in life,” said Angel Olsen to a group of fans haranguing her at the front last night at the Electric Ballroom. She rarely uttered a word between songs but this was a defiant end to the evening. Though her powerful Orbison-like warbling travelled clearly across the smoky stage to the denizens  a much needed intimacy was absent over the course of her fourteen-song set.

Read more...

The Pierces, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Matthew Wright

The Pierces were on stage for little more than an hour, singing an enjoyable but quite predictable medley of their last three albums. Their sugar-glazed, glistening sound is filtered through all manner of electronic stabilisation and filtration devices which guarantee harmony and stability through their adrenaline-driven swoops and musical handbrake turns. So in some ways, you’re not getting much new content or musical insight by hearing them live.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sun Ra

kieron Tyler

 

Sun Ra and his Arkestra: In the Orbit of RaSun Ra and his Arkestra: In the Orbit of Ra

Read more...

Sarah Jane Morris, Union Chapel

peter Quinn

Recorded in the UK, Johannesburg, Paris and Tel Aviv, Sarah Jane Morris's latest album, Bloody Rain, is undoubtedly a labour of love. Hearing it performed live last night in the Union Chapel, in front of an adoring audience, confirmed that it is also her masterpiece.

Read more...

Joan Baez, Royal Festival Hall

Heidi Goldsmith

The next revolution of civil disobedience is unlikely to be a ticketed event, with a sedentary congregation of grey-haired, nostalgic former hippies. And the Royal Festival Hall (even at full capacity) is a mere campfire compared to Joan Baez's public of 30,000 protesters of Washington DC in 1967. But politics, where the drum stick is eschewed for the brush, were still the unspoken substance of her first London performance of four.

Read more...

Foo Fighters, Olympic Park

Matthew Wright

“There goes my hero,” sang the Foo Fighters at the end of the Invictus Games last night. True to form, the Foo Fighters’ performance was a barrage of energy and goodwill, which closed the games - characterised by much the same - on an all-round high.

Read more...

Mulatu Astatke, Royal Festival Hall

peter Culshaw

It was Jim Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers that first really got Mulatu Astatke major Western attention – in same way that Angelo Badalementi’s music for Twin Peaks gave a rich and strange dimension to David Lynch’s TV epic, there was an even greater sense of wonderful disorientation, or as Brian Eno put it “jazz from another planet,” with Astatke’s music.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Game Theory

kieron Tyler

 

Game Theory Blaze Of GloryGame Theory: Blaze of Glory

Read more...

Blondie, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Blondie may have been around the block a few times since they got together in New York in 1974, but they seemingly have no intention of settling into a comfortable existence of just playing the hits to ever-diminishing artistic returns. Their present set-list features large swathes of recent album Ghosts of Download, as well a fair amount of other unlikely surprises in between the tunes that provided a soundtrack to the teenage years of many of their now-greying audience.

Read more...

Elbow, Roundhouse

Heidi Goldsmith

Punctually, following a tension-building countdown, Elbow entered the blue-lit stage at London’s legendary Roundhouse, beers in hand, and gestured the 1500-strong audience into a mass toast. With his slight stoop, soft Manchester accent and wayward estate-agent appearance Guy Garvey’s frontman persona takes more from familiar folk Daddies like Loudon Wainwright III than from the styled superstars also headlining at the iTunes Festival.

Read more...

Prom 74: Wainwright, Voigt, Britten Sinfonia, Debus

david Nice

Swathes of this year’s final Late Night Prom were so invertebrate, amateurish even, that I was tempted to go home and throw out my Want One and Want Two CDs. I won’t, of course: Canadian American singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright has written some fabulous songs, and developed a unique vocal style to deliver them.

Read more...

Art Garfunkel, Royal Festival Hall

Fisun Güner

The voice no longer soars with easeful power, nor does it possess that tingling, honey-coated purity that gave hits such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” such emotional force. This should hardly come as a surprise, since Art Garfunkel is now 72. Away from Paul Simon, from whom he split in 1970, Garfunkel has had a long, stop-and-start solo career, occasionally writing and recording his own songs but mainly singing other people’s, including those unforgettable Simon hits.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Bestival 2014: Full Biochemist's Report

Caspar Gomez

Sometimes you don’t escape. Even for those of us with a sturdy frame and a good track record, every now and then, enjoying the ride means taking the pummelling.

Read more...

Prom 71: Time for Three, BBC Concert Orchestra, Lockhart

Matthew Wright

Aaron Copland was an unlikely musical portraitist of the American plains and prairies. Son of Jewish immigrants from Brooklyn and student of modernism with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, he nonetheless created the quintessential American orchestral sound with a series of popular (“vernacular” was his phrase) works in 1930s and 1940s. Last night three of his most popular pieces were paired with two new pieces inspired by jazz, that other great American twentieth-century music.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Calypso Craze

kieron Tyler


Calypso CrazeVarious Artists: Calypso Craze

Read more...

Kasabian, Roundhouse

Matthew Wright

The genteel north London of the Roundhouse isn’t the obvious venue for a ladtronica and bloke rock band. Especially one that’s recently come from headlining Glastonbury and is used to open horizons, and sound systems more dangerously ramped-up than Primrose Hill house prices. By giving a performance that wowed an audience of mainly young couples, Kasabian showed a character and identity that’s more nuanced than the standard hairy bloke depiction allows.

Read more...

Tony Bennett, Royal Festival Hall

nick Hasted

There’ll be no Lady Gaga tonight. Tony Bennett’s most public performances over the last 20 years have been in duets with such lesser talents, or in Glastonbury’s borderline ironic old-timers’ slot. The crackly recording of Sinatra calling him “the greatest singer in the world” which precedes him has introduced the 88-year-old for decades now, as if he still needed the recommendation of the long-gone Chairman of the Board. But these days, Tony Bennett stands alone.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The 13th Floor Elevators

kieron Tyler


13th Floor Elevators Live Evolution LostThe 13th Floor Elevators: Live Evolution Lost

Read more...

Kate Bush, Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

russ Coffey

Ms Bush walked on in a black, tasselled tunic with the slight air of an aging hippy. Her feet were bare and her tousled hair was half tied-back. And that – for anyone who had managed to avoid the papers all week – answered the first question: what she would look like. That just left us to see for ourselves what she would sing and do.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Popcorn Girls

kieron Tyler


Popcorn GirlsVarious Artists: Popcorn Girls

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wire

kieron Tyler


Wire Document and EyewitnessWire: Document and Eyewitness

Read more...

theartsdesk in Helsinki: Flow Festival 2014

kieron Tyler

An expectant audience isn’t the only thing which can be seen from the main stage of Helsinki’s Flow Festival. Janelle Monáe, Manic Street Preachers and OutKast are also greeted by a gas holder looming ominously before them. This brooding remnant of the festival site’s former use as a gasworks brings a unique flavour to Flow. The setting and site are unlike that of any other festival.

Read more...

Neutral Milk Hotel, Forum

jasper Rees

You could be forgiven if the name had slipped off your radar. Neutral Milk Hotel were indie contenders formed in Athens, Georgia back in the day. There were two full-length albums – On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – in the second half of the Nineties which intrigued a loyal fanbase with crashing chord structures, instruments plucked from a cabinet of curiosities, and opaque lyrics. And then the rest was silence.

Read more...

Sinéad O'Connor, Roundhouse

tim Cumming

The cover of her new album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, has Sinéad O’Connor sporting a black wig and latex dominatrix dress, a glammed-up guitar wrapped in her arms. Well, at least she made the effort. On stage at the Roundhouse she launched her fine new album sans latex or hair, in black t-shirt and trousers, still the shaven-headed siren of unbidden passions and complicated yearnings.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Wilderness Festival

Katie Colombus

Entering Wilderness is like stepping into the brain of Baz Luhrmann. It is a kaleidoscope of colours, swirling with noise and feathers, surreal in its array of vintage-bohemian-steampunk spectacle, and magical in its collaboration of the arts and nature.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Front Line – Sounds of Reality

kieron Tyler


Front Line – Sounds of RealityVarious Artists: Front Line – Sounds of Reality

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Hadda Brooks

kieron Tyler


Hadda Brooks Queen of the Boogie and moreHadda Brooks: Queen of the Boogie and More

Read more...

WOMAD 2014, Charlton Park

peter Culshaw

If I had to pick the highlight of this sun-drenched WOMAD it would have to be the fresh, emotionally charged set of Ukrainian band Dakha Brakha. I can’t recall seeing such a unanimously positive response for a relatively unknown band at the Festival. It wasn’t as if the music was obviously crowd-friendly, and parts were quite challenging, mixing soulfully sung Ukrainian folk tunes with other influences – Nigerian drumming, Bulgarian singing and Japanese koto.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Troubadours - Folk and the Roots of American Music

kieron Tyler


Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Ruthann Friedman

kieron Tyler

 

Ruthann Friedman The Complete Constant Companion SessionsRuthann Friedman: The Complete Constant Companion Sessions

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lewis

kieron Tyler

 

Lewis L'AmourLewis: L'Amour

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

kieron Tyler

 

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young CSNY 1974Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young: CSNY 1974

Read more...

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Barbican

Matthew Wright

If, like Wynton Marsalis, you’re a gatekeeper of the jazz tradition, there’s little you’ll defend more staunchly than the Blue Note back catalogue. With the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, in London on a short tour, he presented a glossy and intriguing selection of Blue Note repertoire before an ecstatic audience in last night’s Barbican concert. Technically, this was a tour de force.

Read more...

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2014

Caspar Gomez

Prologue

On Thursday 26 June I arrive at a cloudy but warm Glastonbury Festival, set up camp, eat sausages, chase after DJ Richie Hawtin for an interview that never happens, then acclimatise, settle, let this hedonist Mecca do its work on me…

Friday 27 June

Read more...

Maria Gadu, Barbican

peter Culshaw

Admired by Brazilian musical royalty like Milton Nascimento and Caetano Veloso, Maria Gadú, at the age of 27, already has four platinum albums to her credit, not to mention a couple of Latin Grammys. Her music blends the urban chaotic modernity of her hometown São Paulo with the grassroots sounds of the North East and Rio. Born Mayra Correa Aygadoux in 1986 Gadú was something of a child prodigy, and began writing songs and recording them onto cassette at the age of 10.

Read more...

Calling Festival, Clapham Common

russ Coffey

First there was Hyde Park Calling, then it was Hard Rock Calling and now, re-located in Clapham, it’s just the Calling Festival (presumably the organisers thought Clapham Common Calling carried too many connotations). The venue may have changed but last weekend was, pretty much, business as usual - a couple of stages, watery beer and a two-day smorgasboard of pop and rock. This year, though, all the pop was on day two.

Read more...

theartsdesk at the 2014 Glasgow Jazz Festival

nick Hasted

Saturday commuters sprinting for the 17.33 to Ardrossan find themselves dodging an obstacle course of swing-dancing young couples, soundtracked by a pensionable trad jazz band. A shifting crowd of about 100 pause in their journeys at Glasgow Central station to enjoy Penman’s Jazzmen, skilful Scottish veterans comfortable with each other and the demands of this century-old New Orleans music.

Read more...

Bobby Womack: It's All Over Now

jasper Rees

It’s presumably just a freak of scheduling that on the night the Rolling Stones threw up the bunting across town, an artist to whom they owe a whole heap of thanks was hosting a party of his own. Bobby Womack was the songsmith who co-supplied the scruffy young covers band with their first number one. “It’s All Over Now” was released by the Stones in July 1964 only a month after The Valentinos’ original version.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The United States of America

kieron Tyler


The United States of AmericaThe United States of America: The United States of America – The Columbia Recordings

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: C86, The Motown 7s Box

kieron Tyler

 

C86Various Artists: NME C86, The Motown 7s Box – Rare and Unreleased Vinyl Volume 2

Read more...

Melanie De Biasio, Purcell Room

kieron Tyler

It’s statement of intent to open your first British headlining show with a 15-minute version of an album track which lasts a minute and three-quarters – from an album which itself lasts barely more than 30 minutes. And then to riff on it, incorporating elements from a debut album which barely anyone beyond your native country has heard.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dead Moon

kieron Tyler

 

Dead Moon In the GraveyardDead Moon: In the Graveyard, Unknown Passage, Defiance

Read more...

Pat Metheny Unity Group, Eventim Apollo

Matthew Wright

The Eventim (Hammersmith) Apollo, where Pat Metheny’s Unity Group last night gave a spellbinding, if sometimes baffling, performance, has hosted a goodly range of gigs in its time. Few of these can have offered such diversity within a single evening. Piece after piece left last night’s audience whooping with exhilaration, though Metheny’s fondness for mechanical innovation briefly threatened the audience’s otherwise adoring reception.

Read more...

Field Day, Victoria Park

Katherine McLaughlin

Decidedly diverse in its musical offerings as ever, this year’s Field Day, which for the first time was spread over two days with the Pixies as a fitting finale, was gifted with glorious sunshine and a chipper ambience. Fresh ferocious voices breaking out and established names reaching back to their roots made for a harmonious mix of boldness and greatness.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Too Slow to Disco

kieron Tyler

 

Too Slow to DiscoVarious Artists: Too Slow to Disco

Read more...

Arcade Fire, Earls Court

Aimee Cliff

When you have quite as much going on as 10-piece (in their current form) experimentalist Canadian indie band Arcade Fire do, it’s hard to know where to look. It’s a fact they’re aware of, and it seems like they even riff on it quite heavily with the overwhelming presence of the fragmented, fractured aesthetic of their latest album Reflektor at Earls Court, on the first of their two-night run.

Read more...

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets…

kieron Tyler

Any band’s reunion is bittersweet. They can never be what they were at their peak and know it, and yet fans hope. Recapturing past magic is tough. Hair is lost, weight is gained and aging depletes energy. With Pulp, the band never assumed formula rock personae and their reunion was always going to be more seamless with their own past than most. There was less chance that memories would be sullied.

Read more...

One Direction, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh

Graeme Thomson

The sheer scale of One Direction’s global victory march is something to behold. Last night’s stopover on their Where We Are tour was the biggest concert ever staged by one band on Scottish soil, with 64,000 fans pouring into the national rugby stadium (I didn’t conduct a scientific poll of the gender split, but it had certainly never been easier to use the Gents at Murrayfield.)

Read more...

Supersonic Festival, Custard Factory, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

For those not in the know, the Supersonic Festival is Birmingham’s annual knees-up of noisy avant garde music drawn from a broad range of genres that is curated by local promoters and heroes, Capsule. This year, despite the event being reduced to two days from the usual three, there was doomy, sludge rock; electronic weirdery; pseudo film soundtrack music; screaming guitars; the legendary Bill Drummond and the mighty Swans.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Holland-Dozier-Holland

kieron Tyler


Read more...

Emulsion III, Village Underground

Matthew Wright

The third Emulsion Festival, curated jointly this year by Trish Clowes and Luke Styles, turned out to be more of a collage of original colours, when the second day of programming concluded at Village Underground last night.

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 11

kieron Tyler

Denmark’s Broken Twin take the lead in the latest of theartsdesk’s regular round-ups of the new music coming in from Scandinavia. Debut album May is melancholy. Minimally arranged, with lyrics addressing the pain brought by the passing of time, bleakness in the form of metaphorical references to weather and what happens after death, this is an affecting album.

Read more...

Caetano Veloso, Barbican

james Woodall

Caetano Veloso gets more extraordinary. After his 2010 show in London, one critic (me) said that at 67 his “wings seemed a little clipped”. Maybe that show, which was quite short, wasn’t the best he’d ever given. But maybe I was wrong. At 71, this slight man has not a clipped or cramped or confined thing about him. He seems to have got younger.

Read more...

Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

Aimee Cliff

Whatever “it” is, Alex Turner has it in his bones. From those first excitable live performances passed around online in the early 2000s, before Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys rocketed to No. 1 success apparently overnight, to 2014’s triumphant Finsbury Park headlining residency, the frontman exudes charisma live.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Oasis

kieron Tyler


oasis definitely maybeOasis: Definitely Maybe

Read more...

Pinise Saul/Adam Glasser/Marcina Arnold, Crazy Coqs

Matthew Wright

The veteran South African jazzers Adam Glasser and Pinise Saul transformed the gleamingly elegant Crazy Coqs cabaret den into a throbbing township jazz club last night, with an exhilarating programme of original South African jazz, seasoned with standards and township folk. Joining forces with the percussionist Marcina Arnold, a relative newcomer to their ensembles, they roughed up this venue’s urbanity with unfamiliar fires of passion and yearning.

Read more...

Emmylou Harris, Brighton Dome

russ Coffey

Sometimes it feels as though modern music has lost its magic – that the more that's produced the more ordinary it seems. Last night, however, down the Bohemian end of one British seaside town, the crowd sat expecting something pretty special. They had good reason. These days 67-year-old Emmylou Harris, with her long silver hair not only looks Southern gothic but sounds it too.

Read more...

The Punk Singer

kieron Tyler

 “Somebody had to be Bikini Kill, otherwise we would have culturally starved to death.” The quote typifies the deferential The Punk Singer, a bio-doc on the driven Kathleen Hanna, the feminist front-person of the American bands Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and, most recently, The Julie Ruin.

Read more...

Peaches Christ Superstar, Theatre Royal, Brighton

Caspar Gomez

It is only when Peaches turns into King Herod that she really becomes the Peaches the audience recognises. A cheer goes up as she jeers, “Prove to me that you’re no fool/Walk across my swimming pool.” She’s mocking, leering, puffed up in a gold coat, her hair shaved at the sides and swept into a giant bouffant on top.

Read more...

Chick Corea, Barbican

Matthew Wright

Jazz pianist Chick Corea put a bomb under his reverential “rare solo concert” billing at the Barbican last night, with an outrageously showmanlike variety performance that seemed to take in everyone from Keith Jarrett to Gareth Malone. Corea’s two ECM albums, Piano Improvisations (1971 and 1972), blazed a trail for similar work, music that was cerebral, even austere, from Paul Bley and the arguably even more distinguished Jarrett.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Philadelphia International Records

kieron Tyler


Philadelphia International Records – The CollectionVarious Artists: Philadelphia International Records – The Collection

Read more...

Katy Perry, LG Arena, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

As her rendition of “Double Rainbow”, from recent album Prism, draws to end, Katy Perry announces into her microphone that “It was the music that brought you here! You like the costumes and lights but the music brought you here!” The funny thing is that actually the music is the least of things in the Katy Perry live spectacular.

Read more...

Drive-By Truckers, Shepherd's Bush Empire

russ Coffey

“We're gonna hit the road harder than we've hit it in a long time… There's no bullshit going on.” So said Drive-By Truckers’ co-frontman Patterson Hood last February. From the grin he wore while he took to the stage last night, it was evident this had been no empty promise. Despite a sound quality that was decidedly meh throughout, the band succeeded in filling the Shepherd’s Bush Empire with the atmosphere of an Alabama roadhouse.

Read more...

Chaka Khan, Ronnie Scott's

tim Cumming

Did you know that Chaka Khan has her own brand of gourmet chocolate she calls Chakalate? Or that she recently extended a helping hand to the media's favourite punchball, Lindsay Lohan, after they spent some time in the same rehab centre (Chaka for prescribed meds following a foot operation)?

Read more...

Kelis, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

When Kelis first walks onstage in a shimmering blue ball dress, a gigantic mane of black hair falling down her back, gay men all about me in the circle seats spring to life, some veering into “Go girl!” territory, others simply shrieking, and one in the row behind calmly saying to a neighbour, “She is just magnificent.” I'd not realised she was quite such a gay icon but this concert offered definitive proof.

Read more...

Zara McFarlane, The Old Market, Brighton

Matthew Wright

Zara McFarlane’s exquisite synthesis of jazz and nu-soul, an intoxicating proposition on CD, breathes more freely live, we discovered, in last night’s Brighton Festival performance. A recent appearance on Later... with Jools Holland was mentioned discreetly, and has clearly buoyed her confidence, as she gave an utterly engrossing demonstration of why Holland, and before him, Brownswood Recordings’ Gilles Peterson are supporting her.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Josef K

kieron Tyler

 

Josef K The Only Fun in Town Josef K: The Only Fun in Town

Read more...

Janelle Monae, O2 Brixton Academy

Aimee Cliff

Before Janelle Monáe even materialises at Brixton’s O2 Academy, her presence is already felt in the stagecraft. Lab-coated, bow-tied techies unsheath the instruments from their black covers, revealing a glimmering monochrome set-up in the centre of a giant white cube reminiscent of the "Q.U.E.E.N." video. Three - count ‘em, three - men see to the polishing of Monáe’s microphone.

Read more...

Bo Ningen, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Tonight Birmingham was treated to a guitar fest of epic proportions, as the Japanese, Hawkwind-esque experience that is Bo Ningen hit town. Prior to the main event, we were treated to the boisterous thrash of The Scenes, who finished their set with the flippant yet amusingly named “Anorexia Is Boring”, and the Teenage Fanclub-esque 12-strings of Younghusband. Neither, however, quite prepared the crowd for the ear-lacerating noise and mesmerising groove of the headliners.

Read more...

Lykke Li, Village Underground

kieron Tyler

A mournful voice sings “even though it hurts, even though it scars, love me when it storms, love me when I fall” over a strummed acoustic guitar which shares the lyrics dolefulness. As the centrepiece of her set last night, Lykke Li’s delivery of her new album I Never Learn’s “Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone” asked a lot from the audience at her first London show for three years. With the familiar came the new. With the upbeat came the sorrowful. And lots of it.

Read more...

Miley Cyrus, O2 Arena

Aimee Cliff

Sliding onto the stage of the O2 Arena in a leotard emblazoned with her own mouth and tongue, Miley Cyrus immediately starts bouncing around screaming, “I’m not going down without a fucking fight!”

Read more...

Robert Cray Band, Barbican

Matthew Wright

Robert Cray’s veteran blues band made a compelling case for their unique blend of soul and blues at the Barbican last night. Despite the five Grammys, record sales well into seven figures, and investiture in the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011 at the precocious age of 57, he’s sometimes suspected of watering down the blues tradition.

Read more...

Loose Tubes, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Crazed magnificence, off the cuff improv, pinpoint timing. And that was just MC and trombonist Ashley Slater's on-stage banter. In one of the most hotly anticipated jazz gigs of 2014, the return to the Ronnie Scott's stage for the seminal and utterly singular big band Loose Tubes – almost a quarter of a century after their valedictory residency in September 1990 – surpassed all expectations.

Read more...

Clean Bandit, Library, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

The Library in Birmingham is a venue that is almost the dictionary definition of shabby chic, with its neo-classical plaster mouldings hanging onto the walls in a room that has definitely seen better days. Unfortunately, the sound quality for last night’s show by Clean Bandit, the bright young things from Cambridge University who have caused quite a stir by mixing classical chamber music with garage pop, was similarly grubby.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Wayne Cochran

kieron Tyler

 

Wayne Cochran Goin’ Back to Miami The Soul Sides 1965-1970Wayne Cochran: Goin’ Back to Miami – The Soul Sides 1965-1970

Read more...

Ode to the Human Spirit, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

Who knew the human spirit needed such bureaucratic care? The celebration of International Jazz Day, founded by UNESCO in 2011, at King’s Place last night was nothing if not well cared-for.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Grace Jones

kieron Tyler


Grace Jones NightclubbingGrace Jones: Nightclubbing

Read more...

The Men They Couldn't Hang, Shepherd's Bush Empire

jasper Rees

From the balcony overlooking the mosh pit you get a good idea of how long a band has been going. Last night at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, The Men They Couldn’t Hang celebrated their 30th anniversary while a small kinetic cluster of mainly bald 50-year-olds pinged into one another like shiny billiard balls. A fiver says a sheepish accountant or two will have had some explaining to do this morning in A&E.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: John Tavener

kieron Tyler

 

John Tavener: The Protecting VeilJohn Tavener: The Protecting Veil

Read more...

Christy Moore, Royal Festival Hall

jasper Rees

“You’re great listeners. You have surrendered your ears.” The reverent hush that descended for two hours on the Festival Hall is a new sort of sound at a Christy Moore concert. There was a time when such a gathering would bristle with fervour. Twenty years ago, if not of Irish descent, you could feel distinctly like the odd one out.

Read more...

Ivo Neame Quintet, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

Pianist Ivo Neame, whose quintet gave a masterclass in the more reflective, concept-driven variety of contemporary jazz at Kings Place last night, is one of the lynchpins of the London scene. As well as leading and composing for this, his own group, he’s also a member of the LOOP Collective, supertrio Phronesis, and Marius Neset’s Golden Xplosion.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Vee-Jay Records

kieron Tyler

 

Chicago Hit Factory – The Vee-Jay Story 1953-1966Various Artists: Chicago Hit Factory – The Vee-Jay Story 1953-1966

Read more...

theartsdesk in Oslo: The Tape to Zero Festival

kieron Tyler

The on-stage collaboration between north-Norwegian ambient maestro Biosphere and his similarly inclined but sonically darker countryman Deathprod was a one off. At Oslo’s Tape to Zero festival, Biosphere and Deathprod bought the you-had-to-be-there moment. The pair had collaborated for a remix project of composer Arne Nordheim in 1998, but this was about new music.

Read more...

Spring Quartet, Barbican

Matthew Wright

In the 1960s and early 70s drummer Jack DeJohnette, now 71, was learning his craft with nearly everyone who was anyone, including Coltrane, Monk, Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis.

Read more...

Evan Parker: 70th-Birthday Celebration, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

John Coltrane’s extravagant, trance-like saxophone-playing is often considered the pinnacle of jazz technique, but for Evan Parker, who celebrated his 70th birthday with a concert at Kings Place last night, it was only the starting point.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Gram Parsons

kieron Tyler


Gram Parsons: The Early Years Vol 1 & 2Gram Parsons: The Early Years Vol 1 & 2

Read more...

Celebrating Jon Lord, Royal Albert Hall

russ Coffey

Jon Lord may have tickled his last ivory in 2012, but last night his spirit lived defiantly on. The great and the good from both heavy and contemporary music gathered in his memory. It was for a serious purpose - to raise funds for pancreatic cancer care. But, boy, what a time we had doing it. A revolving door of stars brought us wild solos, screaming vocals and thundering rhythms.

Read more...

Polar Bear, XOYO

Matthew Wright

“The most influential band of the last ten years. Period,” said Jez Nelson, of BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3, announcing Polar Bear to the XOYO audience last night. It’s difficult to live up to an introduction like that, especially when the band wanted the audience to focus on their new album, which was launched that night.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Elton John

kieron Tyler

 

Elton John Goodbye Yellow Brick RoadElton John: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road box set

Read more...

Rebecca Ferguson, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

 As anyone who has a television will know, Rebecca Ferguson is a graduate of The X Factor – having come runner-up in the 2010 competition.

Read more...

Goldfrapp, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Goldfrapp have already toured new album, Tales of Us, having hit the road in the UK and Europe last autumn.

Read more...

Drake, O2 Arena

James Williams

There was something of a Canadian invasion at the O2 last night, but this is about as far from lumberjacks and mounties as it comes. Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd, is getting straight to the point. “I want to get on top, London!” This may of course simply be a metaphor for his and mentor Drake’s meteoric rise to fame, but Tesfaye does seem to like saying naughty things.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Lou Adler

kieron Tyler

 

Lou Adler – A Musical HistoryVarious Artists: Lou Adler – A Musical History

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jane Birkin, Françoise Hardy

kieron Tyler


ane birkin mes images privees de sergeJane Birkin: Mes Images Privées de Serge / Françoise Hardy: Message Personnel

Read more...

Tord Gustavsen Quartet, Milton Court

Matthew Wright

Revelling in the acoustic precision of the recently opened Milton Court concert hall last night, Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen showed once more why his quartet’s combination of tersely lyrical melodies and syncopated rhythms is so appealing.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Tyrannosaurus Rex, T. Rex

kieron Tyler


Tyrannosaurus Rex A Beard of StarsTyrannosaurus Rex: A Beard of Stars/T.Rex: T.Rex, Tanx/Marc Bolan & T. Rex: Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow

Read more...

The Stranglers, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

There was a poignant moment last night as the Stranglers performed the song “Never To Look Back”. It hails from their 1990 album, 10, the last to feature singer Hugh Cornwall heading their original line-up. Behind the band, four giant gilt frames flash a slide-show of their career. We see them, all lean black leather and venom, transform slowly into the band before us, a greying, likeable, punk-adelic war-horse.

Read more...

Bastille, Alexandra Palace

Matthew Wright

Bastille didn’t so much raise the roof at Alexandra Palace last night, as ask it politely if it wouldn’t mind elevating itself a touch. Their gentleness belies their success over the past year, since their first album, Bad Blood, was released. The album, most of which they played last night, is characterised by surging melody, sexlessly tumescent choruses, marching band drum solos, string parts as glossy as nail varnish, and cascading synth lines.

Read more...

Marc Almond, John Harle, The Tyburn Tree, Barbican

peter Culshaw

On paper this sounded promising: a gothicky song-cycle of historical London and the dark, seamy side of the city, performed a stone’s throw from where they do Jack the Ripper tours. Lead performers were Marc Almond, whose distinctive voice we have loved for 30 years, ever since his pervy soul debut with Soft Cell, and John Harle, a more than useful jazzy classicist who is often original and known for his TV theme tunes. Thown in the mix was some Iain Sinclair psycho-geography.

Read more...

Beyoncé, O2 Arena

thomas H Green

Beyoncé is a fascinating tangle of mixed messages. She stirs people up and, most especially, she confuses men. On the train back from the first concert of her six-night stand at the O2 a group of blokes who heard we’d been to see her rabidly objected. She was, they said, just “selling her pussy”, and selling it cheap. Ire roused, they became very heated.

Read more...

Ralph Towner and Egberto Gismonti, Barbican

Matthew Wright

The Barbican brought two of the great originals of contemporary music together last night. Ralph Towner and Egberto Gismonti are temperamentally very different, but complement one another wonderfully, in an inspired piece of programming. Both are stylistically polyglot, straddling contemporary classical technique as well as jazz and, in Gismonti’s case especially, a range of folk idioms.

Read more...

Limp Bizkit and Friends, 02 Academy, Brixton

russ Coffey

Other than for die-hard fans, expectations for this Limp Bizkit tour have been, well, pretty limp. Nu-metal has been on the wane for years, and Limp Bizkit have aged the worst. Small wonder: surely even hardened metal fans must raise their eyebrows at a 43-year-old in a red baseball cap telling us to go fuck ourselves, whilst he takes our bitches (as Fred Durst does on the new single). So, if Limp Bizkit are a spent force, who goes to their concerts these days; and what exactly goes on?

Read more...

Gipsy Kings, Royal Albert Hall

Matthew Wright

With their self-conscious blend of flamenco, Latin and pop creating the improbable-sounding Catalonian rumba, the Gipsy Kings, who played to an ecstatic Royal Albert Hall last night, are one of the pioneers of the world music genre. Their contribution has just been recognised by the Grammys, where they shared this year’s World Music prize (with Ladysmith Black Mambazo) for their new album Savor Flamenco.

Read more...

Shlomo, Purcell Room

joe Muggs

Ever since becoming a parent – given that it's my job to look at how music connects to its audience – thoughts about what gets children engaged with it have rarely been far from my mind. It brings home a lot of questions about how much of our reactions to music are learned and how much instinctive, about the functions it serves in our lives, about whether old platitudes about music bringing people together carry any weight and so on.

Read more...

Drenge, Hare and Hounds, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Drenge certainly pull in a diverse crowd to their shows these days. Prior to the band coming on stage for this sell-out gig, there was a group of 40-somethings in fairly new-looking leather jackets to my left, talking about Tom Watson MP (who famously recommended the band to Ed Miliband in a resignation letter), and to my right a group of teenagers, sniffing from a bottle of amyl nitrate and trying not to puke.

Read more...

Berlinale 2014: 20,000 Days on Earth

james Woodall

He cuts a dash, that man Cave. Very tall, gangly, with his idiosyncratic snub nose and upside-down-U-shaped hair, the Australian is a one-off. His growly music isn’t always easy to like. In his fury days with the Birthday Party and the Bad Seeds, he was a post-punk rock poet. He has, of course, oceans of fans.

Read more...

The Strypes, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

The Strypes broke through initially with an amped-up version of the blues, akin to the sounds of the early Sixties London blues rock explosion that gave us the Rolling Stones. Tonight proved that they’ve since taken a Tardis through the decades - although no further than 1992 or so - but have kept fast hold of their smash’n’grab garage band ethos.

Read more...

Prince, Shepherds Bush Empire

joe Muggs

If you're looking for good vibes, you could do worse than watch people who've queued up for a surprise show by a megastar finally getting through the doors, having paid only a tenner. The buzz on the way into the Shepherds Bush Empire last night, in fact, was a real tonic – people whooping, spontaneously singing, grinning inanely.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Mike Bloomfield

kieron Tyler

 

Michael Bloomfield: From his Head to his Heart to his HandsMichael Bloomfield: From his Head to his Heart to his Hands

Read more...

Loop Collective Club Night, The Vortex

Matthew Wright

The emergence of artists’ collectives, bristling with idealism and wacky manifestoes, is usually a sign of a vigorous cultural scene. London’s new improvised music scene enjoys several successful examples, of which Loop is perhaps the most prominent. Last night’s Loop club night at the Vortex showed the idea at its best, combining new and established acts across a range of genres.

Read more...

Alexander Hawkins' One Tree Found, Cafe OTO

Matthew Wright

Bach, Duke Ellington and free jazz improvisation met at Cafe OTO last night, and joyously warped some minds. Composer Alexander Hawkins’ BBC Radio 3 commission, the nonet piece "One Tree Found", was part of last year’s Baroque Spring season.

Read more...

Suzanne Vega, Town Hall, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Suzanne Vega clearly likes her new album, Tales from the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles. Either that or she’s got this promotional lark down to a fine art. Tonight we were treated to seven of its ten tracks, which is not something you might expect of someone who began their recording career in 1985 and has since released seven other albums and a fair few hit singles

Read more...

Taylor Swift, O2 Arena

Aimee Cliff

When the red curtain opens - or drops with delicious melodrama - on the second night of Taylor Swift’s residency at the O2 Arena, the first thing you notice is her eyes. We’re a crowd of thousands, packed into the second largest stadium in the UK, and with our monumental collective gaze directed at one person you wouldn’t expect such intimate details to translate. But Swift need move only her eyes to elicit screams like you’ve never heard in your life.

Read more...

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Assembly Hall, Worthing

thomas H Green

Kitty Lux is one of the founders of the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Her performance of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" sums up their wonderful act. Sat strumming stonily stationary, clad in black with a red scarf around her short dark hair and an expression of seen-it-all hangdog boredom on her face, she delivers the song beautifully, her compadres adding the sweetest harmonies.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Seeds, The Dream Syndicate

kieron Tyler


The Seeds Raw & AliveThe Seeds: Raw & Alive / The Dream Syndicate: The Day Before Wine and Roses

Read more...

Lloyd Cole and the Leopards, Shepherd's Bush Empire

russ Coffey

Last night Lloyd Cole arrived on stage with a similar suede-and-corduroy air to that of his Eighties college-rock hits. Yet something was different. Over the last few years he has developed a real gravitas. It showed in the lines on his face and gunmetal hair; and it's this depth that critics have perceived on his recent album, Standards. Yet despite the critical acclaim the old troubadour is still not happy with how he’s “ disappearing into a niche”.

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 10

kieron Tyler

Finland’s Jaakko Eino Kalevi, who played his debut British show last November, heads up theartsdesk’s latest regular round-up of what’s come down from the north. A spellbinding display of individualistic pop, the London outing coincided with the arrival of his first non-Finnish release, the Dreamzone EP.

Read more...

Depeche Mode, LG Arena, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Once upon a time, there was an assumption that the DJs and remixers who emerged in the late 1980s would kill off touring bands like Depeche Mode. As it turns out, nothing could be further from the truth and 34 years since they first got together, Basildon’s finest are not only still providing remixers with plenty of raw material for their craft, but they are reproducing their recreations in the live arena.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dory Previn, Count Basie

kieron Tyler

 

Dory Langdon: My Heart is a HunterDory Langdon: My Heart is a Hunter

Read more...

Warpaint, Brighton Dome

thomas H Green

The best thing about Warpaint is their rhythm section. The all-female LA quartet have received critical plaudits for both their albums, wisely releasing their latest eponymous collection in the dead zone of January, maximizing media attention (why don’t more bands do this? It was the making of the Scissor Sisters back in 2004). The foursome are determinedly un-showbiz, letting their music do the talking and dealing in tasty power-femme sound-bites.

Read more...

Stockton's Wing/Frankie Gavin & De Dannan, St Patrick's Cathedral

peter Quinn

Featuring two of the most celebrated bands in traditional Irish music, this mouth-watering double bill as part of the ninth Temple Bar TradFest drew a capacity crowd to St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. With incredibly tight tune playing, pinpoint phrasing and a powerhouse backing section, Frankie Gavin & De Dannan kicked things off in dramatic fashion.

Read more...

Zhenya Strigalev's Smiling Organizm, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Wright

The musical concept behind this constellation of international stars at Ronnie Scott’s last night was simple. Take a sextet of some of the world’s finest improvising jazz musicians, give them either a funky groove, gentle swing or a bass-fired post-bop beat, and ample space to improvise. Sit back and enjoy the sonic fireworks.

Read more...

Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Awards 2014, Koko

joe Muggs

In a world where everyone is expected to be a “brand”, Gilles Peterson sets some very interesting precedents.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Small Faces

kieron Tyler

 

Small Faces Here Comes the Nice The Immediate YearsSmall Faces: Here Comes the Nice - The Immediate Years

Read more...

CD: The Gloaming - The Gloaming

peter Quinn

Musically, lyrically, dramatically, on every count this debut album from The Gloaming is exceptional. Four-fifths of the group - Clare fiddle player Martin Hayes, Chicago guitarist Dennis Cahill, the Cúil Aodha sean nós singer Iarla Ó Lionaird and Dublin-born hardanger player Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh - are all well-known figures within traditional Irish music.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Jackson C. Frank

kieron Tyler


Jackson C. FrankJackson C. Frank: Jackson C. Frank

Read more...

Gwilym Simcock, Kings Place

Matthew Wright

Gwilym Simcock, pianist, composer, and jazz-classical crossover specialist, is releasing two albums this year, and at Kings Place last night, the audience had a taste of both. An evening billed as the launch of Instrumation, Simcock’s new album of original suites, became a kind of Simcock tasting menu. He played half of Instrumation, which was officially launched, and sections from his second album of 2014, Reverie at Schloss Elmau.

Read more...

Landes, Aurora Orchestra, Collon, Kings Place

david Nice

May this be a New Year sign and a symbol of a revitalized concert scene to come: an eclectic programme of dazzling range to draw in the new pick-and-mix generation, full of segues that worked and executed with the right balance of poetry and in-your-face exuberance by a crack team of young players.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Love, Poetry and Revolution

kieron Tyler


love poetry and revolution Various Artists: Love, Poetry and Revolution

Read more...

Album of the Year: Wayne Shorter Quartet - Without A Net

peter Quinn

In jazz, 2013 belonged to Wayne Shorter. In recognition of a remarkable six-decade career as a saxophonist, educator and composer, Shorter, who turned 80 in August last year, received a lifetime achievement award from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz – only the second time in the Institute’s history that it has bestowed such an honour (Quincy Jones being the first recipient in 1996).

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Best of 2013

kieron Tyler

Despite his nickname and habit of doing a bunk, George “Shadow” Morton was one of America’s highest-profile and most distinctive producers and songwriters. He was responsible for shaping the sound and style of The Shangri-Las, Janis Ian, Vanilla Fudge and The New York Dolls. Until the release of Sophisticated Boom Boom!! – The Shadow Morton Story, the musical side of his story had not been told. A consummate collection, this significant release was pulled off with style.

Read more...

Queer as Pop, Channel 4 / The Joy of Abba, BBC Four

tom Birchenough

Queer as Pop (****) was as much about social as musical history, and Nick Vaughan-Smith’s film told its story with a combination of outstanding archive material and some incisive interviewees, the archive taking fractionally more of the weight. Subtitled “From the Gay Scene to the Mainstream”, it started loosely in the Sixties, then jumped back and forth across the Atlantic until the present day as the story demanded.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Beachwood Sparks, John’s Children

kieron Tyler


Beachwood Sparks: Desert SkiesBeachwood Sparks: Desert Skies

Read more...

The Mission & Fields of the Nephilim, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

It’s panto time in the UK and what better way to get into the spirit than the Goth Christmas Roadshow that is The Mission and Fields of the Nephilim? Here are two bands who were part of the goth scene that sprang forth in the second half of the Eighties in black cowboy hats and blacker shades, with a mission to move things away from post-punk austerity and back towards Seventies excess.

Read more...

Angélique Kidjo, Songlines World Music Awards, Barbican

peter Culshaw

She has been called “Africa’s greatest diva” but as DJ Nihal giving the award of Artist of the Year at this year’s Songlines Awards to Angélique Kidjo pointed out the word “diva” is a loaded one, and makes you think of Mariah Carey’s backstage tantrums. Not that there’s aren’t African divas – the imperious Oumou Sangare, for one, but Kidjo is more known her down-to-earth pragmatism and idealism.

Read more...

The Big Christmas Reunion, O2 Arena

Aimee Cliff

Screens dominate the stage at London’s O2 Arena for The Big Christmas Reunion, which seems fitting given the show is an extension of ITV2’s reality series following 5ive, Atomic Kitten, Honeyz, Liberty X, B*Witched and 911 as they get back on the pop wagon a decade after they were all disbanded or dropped by their labels.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: German Measles, Mobilisation Générale

kieron Tyler

 

German Measles Vol 1Various Artists: German Measles Vol 1 – Flames of Love / German Measles Vol 2 – Sun Came Out at Seven

Read more...

The Waterboys, New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

It’s now twenty five years since the release of the Waterboys’ most popular album, Fisherman’s Blues. To mark this auspicious occasion, Mike Scott has persuaded EMI to release a six-CD expanded version, Fisherman’s Box, which has 120-odd tracks of the type of music that, let’s not forget, did not receive universal acclaim in 1988 but has significantly grown in stature since then.

Read more...

Sinéad O'Connor, Royal Festival Hall

russ Coffey

The words “breathe, breathe, pray, breathe” were written in 10-inch letters at her feet. She wore sunglasses to help with her shyness. But if O’Connor was struggling with the pressure of being up on stage it didn’t show in her performance. Off-stage she may continue to suffer with her emotional well-being, but, on stage, she’s on the form of her life. Last night, her dense, swirling thoughts were projected through a combination of intensity, humour and vulnerability.

Read more...

Get Folked: The Great Folk Revival, More4

Fisun Güner

I can’t say I ever tune into More4, so I confess that I don’t know whether its arts strand is any good, or even if it has one. But I suspect that Get Folked might have made a better three-parter on BBC Four, and not just for dedicated folk-heads. As it was, it tried to pack a lot into its 50 minutes (though allowing only 10 seconds for Mumford and Sons might be seen as a blessing by some) and it did so with a lot of seasoned hyperbole.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Neil Young, Motown

kieron Tyler


 Neil Young Live at the Cellar DoorNeil Young: Live at the Cellar Door

Read more...

Jonathan Wilson, Islington Assembly Hall

kieron Tyler

It took two minutes for Jonathan Wilson to launch into the first of the evening’s extended guitar solos. “Love Strong” began like much of his two-hours-ten-minutes on stage. The song opened with him singing a verse and then flying off to guitar heaven. His playing is classic, evoking but not mimicking John Cipollina, Jerry Garcia, Stephen Stills and Neil Young. But it raises a conundrum: is Wilson about the songs or the craft? The former are fabulous, melodic and memorable.

Read more...

Linda Perhacs, Kantine am Berghain, Berlin

Paul McGee

There's been a quiet but nevertheless palpable sense of anticipation surrounding psych-folk enigma Linda Perhacs' first-ever European tour. Comparatively low-key advance publicity certainly proved no impediment to a sold-out house for the recent opening date at Berlin's Kantine am Berghain, a somewhat drab and unprepossessing bunker in the shadow of the city's notorious techno temple.

Read more...

Billy Bragg, Royal Festival Hall

Matthew Wright

Setting bankers, Baroness Thatcher, tax-dodging multinationals and Woody Guthrie to music? These days, it could only be a Billy Bragg gig. Reports of Bragg losing his political teeth, based on slightly guarded reviews of his latest album, Tooth & Nail, are on the evidence of last night greatly exaggerated. This is a songwriter who could no more detach his ideology than his right arm, and still play his guitar.  

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Velvet Underground, Neal Ford & the Fanatics

kieron Tyler


The Velvet Underground White Light/White HeatThe Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat

Read more...

Blues America: Woke Up This Morning, BBC Four

kieron Tyler

“Long may it stay a mystery,” said Keith Richards, the first talking head seen in this opening shot of a two-part excursion through blues music. Self-evidently, two hours devoted to this oft-explored subject wasn’t going to leave too many mysteries. Woke Up This Morning did tread new ground though – at least for British television – by recalibrating perceptions of authenticity and motivation.

Read more...

Bob Dylan, Royal Albert Hall

tim Cumming

And so Dylan’s tour of European theatres, opera houses and concert halls ended on Thursday night at the Royal Albert Hall, his first dates here in 46 years. I’ve seen him plenty of times over the past 30 years. This was the best of them. Dylan’s found a way to use his voice again, and his group is so nuanced to its needs, it’s a pure pleasure to hear.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: BBC Radiophonic Workshop

kieron Tyler


 BBC Radiophonic MusicBBC Radiophonic Workshop: BBC Radiophonic Music / The Radiophonic Workshop

Read more...

Essentially Ellington, Queen Elizabeth Hall

peter Quinn

Now in its eighteenth year, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) demonstrated last night why it's considered one of Europe’s finest big bands. Brilliantly directed by tenor sax player Tommy Smith and featuring the great Brian Kellock on piano, the band performed music from their acclaimed In The Spirit of Duke released earlier this year.

Read more...

John Etheridge & Philip Catherine/Igor Gehenot Trio, The Vortex, Dalston

Matthew Wright

Distinguished jazz guitarists Philip Catherine and John Etheridge made (a little bit of) history at The Vortex last night, playing together for the first time. In a perfect balance of youth and experience, the evening also saw the launch of a debut album, Road Story, by the Igor Gehenot Trio (like Catherine, recorded by Brussels-based Igloo Records), with original compositions by the precocious 23 year-old pianist Gehenot.

Read more...

Sonica, Glasgow

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

At first it looked like a joke. But, as each muscle spasm, set off by an electric shock, did appear to produce a pained expression in the performer and a subsequent note, one slowly had to accept that these four string quartet players were indeed being electrocuted into performance. The Wigmore Hall, it wasn’t. Sonica, it certainly was.

Read more...

Ian Shaw, The Elgar Room, RAH

Matthew Wright

Even Joni Mitchell wasn’t spared an affectionate ribbing, as jazz singer Ian Shaw continued his Joni at 70 Tour with a combination of sincerity and satire, both red-raw, in the Elgar Room last night. Stripping pretensions compulsively, Shaw gave an engrossingly witty performance of the work of the great singer once known, we learnt, as “Moany Mitchell” in the young Shaw’s household.

Read more...

Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana, Barbican

peter Culshaw

For someone who has built a reputation for limpid, introspective piano playing, last night was a new adventure both for Brad Mehldau and his (mainly) supportive audience. He has covered fellow introvert Nick Drake’s songs, and he is a master of thoughtful, expressive piano. So when we hear he's doing a show that references drum ’n’ bass and 1970s funk in a duo with a drummer with synths and Fender Rhodes, a certain apprehension is in order.

Read more...

Christian Scott Quartet, Ronnie Scott's

Matthew Wright

With the bell of his Dizzy Gillespie-style “bent” trumpet pointing skywards like a rocket launcher, Scott dominated the stage at Ronnie Scott’s last night, every bit the iconic jazz trumpeter. Instead of the clearly-articulated, pure-toned pulse of a Louis or a Dizzy, Scott’s trumpet voice is smudgy, occasionally even grimy, with chromatic bursts of notes, played so fast you can’t always hear the join.

Read more...

Jaimeo Brown and Gogo Penguin, XOYO

Matthew Wright

What does a stuffed penguin have in common with the religious concept of transcendence?  Even less than you might think, it emerged last night, during one of the London Jazz Festival’s less well matched programmes, featuring one trio named after each item.

Read more...

Television, Roundhouse

kieron Tyler

The expected curveball came an hour in with a completely unfamiliar 14-minute song. Based around a pulsing bass riff, it was a deconstructed merger of The Rolling Stones’s “Paint it Black” and the Spanish side of Love’s Da Capo. A large contingent of the audience used it as handy toilet break.

Read more...

Lee Konitz and Dan Tepfer, Kenny Wheeler Quintet, QEH

Matthew Wright

Last night’s Konitz and Wheeler concert was the sort of event at which the audience’s jaw has dropped before the music starts. Lee Konitz and Kenny Wheeler already have substantial legacies: Konitz’s cool sax style was a landmark sound, for decades the only serious alternative to Parker’s bop; his huge discography, varied in style but pretty uniform in quality, is a testament to his enduring commitment to experiment.

Read more...

Wayne Shorter Quartet with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Barbican

peter Culshaw

Wayne Shorter’s Quartet were introduced as “the greatest jazz band on the planet”. It’s an unexceptional thing, like the Rolling Stones being introduced as “the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world”.

Read more...

Arild Andersen Quintet and Reijseger/Fraanje/Sylla, QEH

Matthew Wright

Five minutes into this concert, at that stage a polite cello and piano duo, there was a raucous bellowing from the rear, so loud that the front stalls leapt. The delicate cello spiccato continued, despite the persistent bellowing. Gradually, the musicians adapted to the new sound, and to widespread astonishment, Senegalese singer Mola Sylla, chanting in Wolof, descended through the stalls onto the stage.  

Read more...

René Marie, Pizza Express Jazz Club

peter Quinn

In a fascinating interview with the singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, published in The Los Angeles Times in June 1979 around the release of Mingus, Mitchell signs off with the following aperçu. “You know, pigeonholes all seem funny to me. I feel like one of those lifer-educational types that just keep going for letters after their name.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: I am the Center, Haiku Salut

kieron Tyler


I am the Center – Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950–1990Various Artists: I am the Center – Private Issue New Age Music in America, 1950–1990

Read more...

Chase & Status, Brighton Centre

thomas H Green

“Show Me Love” by Robin S was a monster pop-rave crossover hit in 1990. Most of the crowd at Chase & Status’s Brighton date would have either not been born or in nappies gnawing Duplo bricks when it had its moment in the sun, yet they sing along en masse and roar approval as the band’s female diva, Moko, belts it out, jumping around in precariously stacked heels.

Read more...

Jazz Voice 2013, Barbican

peter Quinn

Harp glissandos, trilling flutes, the heft of a swinging brass section. Yes, last night's Jazz Voice once again kick-started the EFG London Jazz Festival in typically exuberant fashion. Arranged, scored and conducted by the indefatigable Guy Barker, its epoch-spanning celebration of jazz-related anniversaries, birthdays and milestones was hosted for the second time by Victoria Wood.

Read more...

Philip Glass/Steve Reich, Royal Festival Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

The Southbank’s artistic director Jude Kelly was out in force at this penultimate weekend of The Rest is Noise festival, delivering little triumphalist, Ryan Air-like fanfares, reminding us how pioneering they had been to programme composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Richard Strauss, Benjamin Britten and Philip Glass - composers who no one had ever heard of before they'd bravely decided to put them on.

Read more...

Volcano Choir, O2 Academy Bristol

mark Kidel

It’s surprising how a singer with as little obvious presence or charisma as Justin Vernon can carry a live show, but he does. The power is in the otherworldly voice, and haunting songs with mysterious lyrics, carried on a wall of sound in the tradition of those “little symphonies for the kids” that Phil Spector pioneered half a century ago.

Read more...

Scenes in the City, CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

This year 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of two landmark albums, both of which were composed and recorded by bassist, pianist and all-round jazz colossus, Charles Mingus. Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus is a reimagining of some of Mingus’s tunes from the 1950s in a way that has influenced acclaimed jazz-rock amalgamates such as Get The Blessing.

Read more...

The Radiophonic Workshop, Shoreditch Electric Light Station

kieron Tyler

No preparation is sufficient for hearing the theme to Doctor Who live. It’s obviously going to be on the menu, yet as the familiar “dung-a, dung-a, dung-a” refrain kicks off something deep and unexpected stirs within. The emotional bond with this sound and this melody is so strong it’s akin to being transported to one of the Doctor’s exotic destinations. Recreated on stage, the familiar suddenly becomes thrillingly fresh.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Brenda Holloway, Era Records Northern Soul, Damon

kieron Tyler


The Artistry of Brenda HollowayBrenda Holloway: The Artistry of Brenda Holloway / Various Artists: ERA Records Northern Soul

Read more...

Brother Face, The Vortex, Dalston

Matthew Wright

Liam Noble has kept his fans waiting so long for some new music, they were beginning to wonder if he’d turned into David Bowie. The British jazz pianist’s last album of originals, Romance among the Fishes, was released in 2004. Since then he’s recorded the highly regarded Brubeck, which Brubeck himself declared "an inspiration and a challenge for me to carry on”, and collaborated with distinguished players on both sides of the Atlantic.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: William Onyeabor, Tears For Fears

kieron Tyler

 

World Psychedelic Classics 5 – Who is William Onyeabor?William Onyeabor: World Psychedelic Classics 5 – Who is William Onyeabor?

Read more...

Deap Vally, Concorde 2, Brighton

thomas H Green

It’s a condition of certain music journalists – myself very much included – that we can be blindsided by originality to the detriment of much else. Thus I might rate a chunk of electronic weirdness that blows my mind on the first couple of listens over a more derivative piece of song-writing. Later on I sometimes find that the sonic weirdness wears thin, sucked dry of its original sparkle, while the more derivative music slowly reveals itself as something rather brilliant.

Read more...

Suede, 02 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Suede, lest we forget, exploded into a moribund music scene dominated by the fag-end of grunge in 1992. Initially cast as the John the Baptists of Britpop, they lost Bernard Butler, their wunderkind guitarist, early on, became as known for druggy indulgence as for albums that were incrementally dropping in quality, and spilt up in 2003. Vocalist Brett Anderson claimed he needed “to do whatever it takes to get my demon back”.

Read more...

Frank Zappa's 200 Motels, Royal Festival Hall

Kimon Daltas

One of the joys of the Southbank Centre’s year-long The Rest Is Noise series has been the opportunity to hear some unusual period pieces among the more standard repertoire. In the case of 200 Motels it is a concert premiere for a genre-bending work which was pulled from its 1971 Albert Hall slot due to complaints about its obscene content.

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 9

kieron Tyler

Norway is currently attracting an uncommon degree of attention due to the absurd “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by Ylvis, the comedy duo Bård and Vegard Ylvisåker. The country’s mainstream music hasn’t been this newsworthy since a-ha conquered the world in 1985. After 150 million YouTube hits for “The Fox”, the figure is still rising.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Oh Yes We Can Love - A History of Glam Rock

kieron Tyler


Yes we Can Love – A History of Glam Rock Various Artists: Oh Yes We Can Love – A History of Glam Rock

Read more...

The Who: The Story of Tommy, BBC Four

adam Sweeting

Grand claims and superlatives were not lacking in this examination of The Who's fabled rock opera. "This is a quintessentially important creation," said Des McAnuff, the man who staged Tommy on Broadway and in London's West End. "This might just be the first pop masterpiece," wrote pop critic (and Pete Townshend's pinball-playing buddy) Nik Cohn in his review in 1969.

Read more...

Gwlad y Gân/Land of Song, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff

jasper Rees

When the term “world music” became a category in record stores, it’s doubtful that triple harps, cerdd dant and canu plygain would have been thought to belong under the umbrella. And yet here they were on display at WOMEX. The annual world music expo has put down roots in Cardiff this year, and to bid welcome to the delegates Cerys Matthews hosted a celebration of traditional Welsh music under the title Gwlad y Gân/Land of Song.

Read more...

The Chaos Orchestra presents 'The Rite', The Vortex

Matthew Wright

Still only a year out of college, the diversely gifted trumpeter, composer and bandleader Laura Jurd has risen rapidly to prominence, enterprisingly bypassing the ritual of hanging around to be noticed by creating her own scene and ensembles. One of these, the Chaos Collective, this week curated a small festival in which another, the Chaos Orchestra, last night performed a range of new work.

Read more...

Roy Harper, Royal Festival Hall

kieron Tyler

It had to finish with “When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease”, the commentary on a building block of British life which marks the passing of time more acutely than anything explicitly counting the minutes which precede leaving the field, whether in sport or life. Roy Harper originally released this elegy in 1975, when he was in his 30s. As last night’s encore, it was even more poignant. Harper is now 72. There were moments when he explicitly said he might not see an audience again.

Read more...

Peter Gabriel, 02 Arena

James Williams

Walking into London’s cavernous O2 Arena for Peter Gabriel’s So 25 show last night felt like stumbling onto the set of some David Lean epic: Peter of Surrey, if you will. With a number of imposing lighting and camera rigs framing the already roomy stage, the show’s chroniclers sat perched perilously in suspended chairs with their equipment focused on the band setting up before us.

Read more...

The Impossible Gentlemen, Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho

Matthew Wright

Of the many challenges facing a contemporary jazz quartet, there are, perhaps, several more pressing than becoming a gentleman. For this extraordinary band, their conviction derives from the affection, respect and detail with which they synthesise such a breadth of jazz tradition.

Read more...

Muscle Shoals

kieron Tyler

“We grew up like animals,” says FAME Studios’ founder Rick Hall of his upbringing. “That made me better… I wanted to be somebody.” He did become somebody, and in the process put Alabama’s Muscle Shoals on the map. This film tells the story of how a small city birthed some of the greatest American music of the 20th century, and of the ripples which subsequently spread. The Rolling Stones recorded there in 1969.

Read more...

Public Image Ltd, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Thirty seven years since first breaking into the public consciousness and following a period being regarded as punk’s pantomime dame, John Lydon is now finally reaping wider musical recognition and kudos. Recent times have seen a revitalisation of Public Image Ltd (albeit in the guise of a cottage industry and completely on their own terms) with extensive touring and the muscular return-to-form album, This is PiL.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Madness, ABBA

kieron Tyler


Madness Take it or Leave itMadness: Take it or Leave it

Read more...

Earth, Wind & Fire, Royal Albert Hall

James Williams

"We got 42 years of music to lay on you" is an audacious opening statement for any live band, but when the speaker is Phillip Bailey, lead singer in the current reincarnation of the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire, it is a statement of intent.

Read more...

Rudimental, O2 Academy, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

rudimentalWithout doubt, 2013 has been the year of Rudimental on Planet Pop: a second number one single with “Waiting All Night”; a number one debut album with Home, hugely successful festival appearances, and plenty of TV coverage.

Read more...

Alison Moyet, Royal Festival Hall

russ Coffey

You couldn’t help marvelling at how good Alison Moyet looked. It wasn’t just her dramatically slimmed-down physique, but also the sense of her being truly comfortable in her own skin. Partly, that may have just been a result of an increasingly optimistic outlook. But also it seemed to emanate from Moyet's confidence in her new material. Since its release in May, her new album, The Minutes, has been well received.

Read more...

Deep Purple, NIA, Birmingham

Guy Oddy

Read anything about rock music in the Seventies - about British hard rock music in particular - and three bands are pushed forward as titans: Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. However, while both Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin have gone on to receive widespread critical acclaim and massive sales since their glory days, Deep Purple have assumed the position of a guilty pleasure – at best.

Read more...

Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo/Chris T-T, Oran Mor, Glasgow

Lisa-Marie Ferla

If Glasgow was to find a little corner for the traditional spirit of vaudeville to live on, it would make sense if it was this one: set the basement of a 19th century church with an audience sitting in lines on gold-painted seats; and two highly accomplished songwriters introducing each other with the sense of ceremony you so rarely find at concerts these days.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Kinks, Hapshash and the Coloured Coat

kieron Tyler


The Kinks Muswell HillbilliesThe Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies

Read more...

Crosby Stills & Nash, Royal Albert Hall

adam Sweeting

There was much to be said for attending the third and final show of Crosby Stills & Nash's Albert Hall stint, because this was the night when they played their debut album in its entirety. Clearly much - almost everything, in fact - has changed since 1969, but though the musicians are four decades older, their original collective spirit survives remarkably intact.

Read more...

Puglia Sounds, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen

Ronnie Flynn

Puglia, otherwise known as Apulia, is the heel of the kinky boot that makes up Italy. It’s usually associated with the golden sands of the Ionian coast, the clear, sun-spun waters of Castellanata Marina, the palaces of Bari, and the sublime fish restaurants of Peschici. There is, however, another side to this Italian paradise.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: National Wake, Drugstore

kieron Tyler

 

National Wake A Walk in Africa 1979–81National Wake: A Walk in Africa 1979–81

Read more...

Jacqui Dankworth, 606 Club

Matthew Wright

Jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth’s fifth album Live to Love is, on the face of it, an unlikely forum for appreciation of quantum physics or the heroic plight of Pakistani campaigner Malala Yousafzai. This new release, launched at the 606 Club, contains both, but not because she has morphed into a fearsome amalgam of Tom Lehrer and Billy Bragg.

Read more...

The Wasp Factory, Linbury Studio Theatre

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

A baby's brain is polished off by a throbbing welter of maggots. A field of sheep are on fire. A screaming child whose hands have been tied to a kite is flying out over the North Sea. How do you make an opera out of any of this? The answer of course is you don’t. You leave this kind of thing to cinema or the novel. Opera is - contrary to popular belief - extremely bad at spectacle, especially if the aim is to terrify. Horror has never had much of a look-in as a genre in the art form.

Read more...

Shlomo: Human Geekbox, Corn Exchange, Brighton

thomas H Green

At the end of his hour and 20 minute long performance Shlomo gives us an encore, a percussive tune wherein his amazing noise-making abilities are piled on top of each other with a piece of sampling kit called a Loop Station. This multi-layered nugget is propulsive but the seated audience is unsure, as it has been throughout, whether the evening's ambience should be rowdily interactive or quietly appreciative, as if watching a play.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dino Valenti, Monterey Festival

kieron Tyler

 

Dino ValenteDino Valente: Dino Valente

Read more...

Fleetwood Mac, O2 Arena

Serena Kutchinsky

We all know the backstory of the Mighty Mac, the breakups, the betrayals, the addictions and now, finally, the reunion. These days they're more like the Mellow Mac with the emotional hatchets buried, lingering hugs on stage, and tender tales of their time as struggling Seventies hippies. Few other bands, not even Abba, have mined their private lives for inspiration to the same extent.

Read more...

Manic Street Preachers, Shepherd's Bush Empire

russ Coffey

A fortnight after its release, fans now know the Manics’ latest album Rewind the Film to be a rich, contemplative affair. The musical dynamics are intimate and seemingly best suited to small venues, like the one that features in the video for the single “Show Me the Wonder”. As I made my way across London last night, I wondered if this new sound was why the band had chosen to downsize from last year's O2 to the cosy surroundings of Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

Read more...

Darbar Festival, Southbank Centre

tim Cumming

Darbar Festival, now in its eighth year, encompasses four days of talks, yoga, food, and music – swathes of it, morning, afternoon, and night, with each concert featuring two main sets.This year’s focus was on female musicians, and included a talk featuring the great Carnatic singer Sudha Ragunathan discussing her own experiences and the role of women in Indian music.

Read more...

Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked, Royal Festival Hall

kieron Tyler

From no visible source, the instantly recognisable voice of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis croons the words of “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. But the lyrics aren’t in their familiar setting. Alone, he’s stripped from the band, naked and vulnerable. He’s been dead for 33 years, but this was as close as he could possibly be.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Nirvana

kieron Tyler

 

nirvana in utero deluxeNirvana: In Utero

Read more...

Kings Place Festival

Matthew Wright

Hungarian composer Bela Bartók’s analytical rigour and folk-inspired voice have established his position as one of the most original voices of the twentieth century, but he still represented a bold choice for the opening event of the 2013 Kings Place Festival.

Read more...

John Etheridge and the Soft Machine Legacy with Keith Tippett, Pizza Express

Matthew Wright

Some people have all the luck. Listening to John Etheridge’s self-deprecating description of how his career has progressed (in interviews such as Radio 3‘s Jazz Library, or at a gig, when he is a disarmingly open host), you would think he had stumbled upon Stephane Grapelli and Nigel Kennedy (to name merely the most famous of his many stellar collaborators) while out for a pint of milk.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Classroom Projects, Good Vibrations Records, Darrow Fletcher

kieron Tyler


Classroom ProjectsVarious Artists: Classroom Projects

Read more...

Cutty Cargo presents Jessie Ware, Ely's Yard

joe Muggs

It was a bittersweet kind of evening. Walking down Brick Lane, it was striking how Caucasian, tanned and healthy most people we passed were, and we couldn't help wondering if the Bangladeshi locals were starting to get priced out of their own neighbourhood, while the artists and party-weirdos who ironically made the place such a tourist destination are fading away, sloping off to Dalston and Peckham to continue the gentrification process all over again.

Read more...

theartsdesk in Katowice: On tour at Tauron Nowa Muzyka Festival

Caspar Gomez

Day 1

Read more...

Eels, Shepherd's Bush Empire

russ Coffey

The last time Mr E toured these shores he looked as if he might be heralding the end of the world. Dressed all in white with a Moses beard and gangsta bandana, his songs were about inner struggle and personal redemption. Between songs he remained mute and mysterious. How things have changed. This year the band is touring the much fuzzier Wonderful, Glorious and last night Mark Everett hardly shut up.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Roky Erickson

kieron Tyler


Roky Erickson The Evil OneRoky Erickson & the Aliens: The Evil One

Roky Erickson: Don’t Slander Me, Gremlins Have Pictures

Read more...

Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Queen Elizabeth Hall

tom Birchenough

It’s hard to imagine much upstaging Martyn Jacques, the indomitable falsetto frontman of the Tiger Lillies. The gaping mouth of an enormous mythical fish that seems to have swum straight from the canvases of Hieronymus Bosch, projected right across the stage in their new show Rime of the the Ancient Mariner, comes close.

Read more...

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker, Green Note, Camden

tim Cumming

The Green Note had put up a Sold Out sign on Monday night when Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker stepped in to play a sometimes mesmerising set on the little stage by the door.

Read more...

Agnes Obel, St Pancras Old Church

kieron Tyler

In the half light of a small medieval church tucked behind London's St Pancras Station, a figure in white plays melancholy songs at a grand piano to the accompaniment of a cellist and violinist. This chamber ensemble had an audience of 84. The atmosphere of this special concert contrasted starkly with the close, humid and overhot day which led up to it.

Read more...

Electro Anthro Visceral Intensity, The Amersham Arms

joe Muggs

It's always nice when musical events of an overtly academic bent are taken away from the academy: when high-falutin' or exploratory music is made to stand on its own. All right, this show demonstrating new technical innovations by musicians affiliated with the Goldsmiths College Computer Music courses hadn't come that far, being some couple of hundred yards along the road from the college, but the Amersham Arms backroom is more used to rock gigs and raves.

Read more...

Björk, Alexandra Palace

Serena Kutchinsky

While Lady Gaga’s conceptual antics left the crowd cold in Camden last Sunday, Björk’s Ally Pally spectacular last night showcased the musical artistry that sets her so far above other female pop pretenders. While Gaga’s affected oddities have always jarred with the mainstream sensibilities of her music, Björk’s strangeness perfectly fits and feeds her sound.

Read more...

CD: Gregory Porter - Liquid Spirit

peter Quinn

Gregory Porter's Blue Note debut provides one of the biggest sugar rushes of auditory pleasure you'll hear this year. Grounded in jazz but heavily seasoned with the blues, gospel and soul, it's a superbly paced album, ranging from the poetic tableaux of ballad “When Love Was King” to the unstoppable, hand clapping moto perpetuo of the title track.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: The Beach Boys

kieron Tyler


The Beach Boys Made in CaliforniaThe Beach Boys: Made in California

Read more...

Youssou N'Dour: Voice of Africa, BBC Four

Mark Hudson

You either get Youssou N’Dour, or you don’t. For millions on his home turf, the Senegalese singer is a major cultural figure: the street urchin-turned-superstar who almost became president. For large numbers of Western fellow travellers he’s the sexiest, most charismatic figure to emerge from the whole world music phenomenon.

Read more...

Prom 62: A Celebration of Charlie Parker

Matthew Wright

Pianist, composer, and band leader Django Bates was so inspired by Charlie Parker as a teenager that he used to whistle his tunes on the train. This led not to abuse, but the acquaintance (at Brixton station) of saxophonist Steve Buckley. Returning to the Proms this week for the first time since his 1987 debut with Loose Tubes, Bates paid homage with a set of mainly Parker adaptations, performed by his trio, Beloved, in a new collaboration with the Swedish Norrbotten Big Band.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Sly Stone

kieron Tyler

 

Sly & the Family Stone Higher!Sly & the Family Stone: Higher!

Read more...

Sun Ra Arkestra, Café Oto

Serena Kutchinsky

Dalston was the place on Friday night, as the Sun Ra Arkestra put on a trademark display of Afro-jazz excellence in the intimate surrounds of Café Oto. Jazz pioneer Sun Ra might have been dead since 1993, but his influential big band is very much alive and capable of puffing their way through marathon sets.

Read more...

How To Be A World Music Star, BBC Four

peter Culshaw

This was a somewhat nostalgic look at the rise of “World Music” as a genre, starting in the Eighties when the term was first used, essentially as a marketing tool. As the ever ebullient Andy Kershaw put it, the problem was where in record stores “you could put a choir of Bulgarian tractor drivers next to some hot shot guitar slinger from Guinea-Bissau".

Read more...

Prom 54: World Routes

peter Culshaw

Why are the Malians always punching way above their weight in music? There may be some historical reasons. The French always were more welcoming to the culture of their empire than the Brits (and more used to foreign-language music), while Paris became a great centre of West African music, from where it was disseminated over Europe.

Read more...

Julia Holter, Cecil Sharp House

kieron Tyler

Imagine an aural swoon of a song like a mermaid’s sigh preceding one which introduces Saint-Saëns’s The Carnival of the Animals to free-jazz skronk. After that, Laurie Anderson pops along to take on the soft soul of the early Seventies Isley Brothers. An evening with Julia Holter encompasses all of that, yet knits it all together gracefully to make a whole like nothing else.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: R Stevie Moore, Foxy R&B, Looking Good, A Certain Ratio

kieron Tyler


R Stevie Moore Personal AppealR Stevie Moore: Personal Appeal

Read more...

Crazy About One Direction, Channel 4

kieron Tyler

Sandra, 14, has worked out what it will be like if she marries One Direction’s Harry Styles. “His morning voice would be amazing,” she says, thinking forward to when the first thing she hears each day is the croak with which he greets the morning and her. Pop groups with fans are nothing new, and with them come ranks of the obsessive.

Read more...

Prom 40: 6 Music Prom, The Stranglers, Laura Marling, London Sinfonietta

peter Culshaw

“That was a bit of a dog’s breakfast,” said the guy in the row behind. Yes, but then the said canine repast can also no doubt be nutritious and delicious, for dogs anyway. The most dogs-breakfasty (in the bad sense) moment was right at the end, when the Stranglers played their greatest song “Golden Brown”, their immortal chanson to a girl and heroin.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Eddie Noack, The Dictators, The Allman Brothers, Clifton Chenier

kieron Tyler


Eddie Noack Psycho The K-Ark and Allstar Recordings 1962–69Eddie Noack: Psycho – The K-Ark and Allstar Recordings 1962–69

Read more...

Camp Bestival 2013, Lulworth Castle, Dorset

thomas H Green

Camp Bestival is overrun with children, even the night is alive with them. Where WOMAD is full of old hippies, Camp Bestival is full of raver-parents who refuse to stop shaking a party limb, even if they must haul little Finlay around on an exotic, duvet-filled gurney to do so. It creates a unique atmosphere, a bit bourgeois but just the right amount of wild, inner children meeting actual children to wobble about to Benga basslines.

Read more...

CD: Mike Gibbs + TWELVE play Gil Evans

peter Quinn

Think of the ingredients you look for in a great jazz record – inspired, exploratory improv, the complete reinvention of standards, ear-catching arrangements, sonorities you've never heard before – and this new big band recording from Mike Gibbs delivers them all. By the bucketload.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Harry Nilsson

kieron Tyler

 

Nilsson The RCA Albums CollectionNilsson: The RCA Albums Collection

Read more...

Just in From Scandinavia: Nordic Music Round-Up 8

kieron Tyler

Characterising a country’s music by its most successful exports or what seem to be typical local styles is inevitable. With Iceland, the home of Björk and Sigur Rós, it’s easy to assume that ethereality, otherworldliness and plain oddness rule the roost. Of course, that’s not the case. The artists awarded the Kraumur prize for the best albums released in 2012 testify to Iceland’s broad musical palette.

Read more...

WOMAD 2013 Finale: Gilberto Gil

Sue Steward

The rain had vanished and there were whispers that the Afro-Brazilian gods were keeping it at bay as time got closer to the appearance of the headliner. The international superstar, singer, songwriter, environmentalist and former Minister of Culture ambled on stage like a cat, in a loping, slo-mo dance move, carrying his red electric guitar over his shoulder.

Read more...

Luke Haines, Borderline

Kimon Daltas

This one-off appearance in a dingy, basement venue seems to be the entirety of Luke Haines’s promotional effort for his new album, Rock and Roll Animals. A few years have passed since he approached mainstream success as front man of The Auteurs and later as part of Black Box Recorder. In the intervening years he has taken the healthy notion that quality does not equal popularity to a possibly illogical conclusion that popularity had better be avoided entirely, just in case.

Read more...

WOMAD 2013, Charlton Park - Days Three and Four

peter Culshaw

Arriving early on Saturday, the first music I was exposed to in the tranquil arboretum area of the Radio 3 Stage was the mesmeric and gorgeous sounds of Leicester sitarist Roopa Panesar floating from the stage, with dreamy oboe-like shenhai adding to the musical mix.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Saint Etienne, Honey Ltd., Chas & Dave, ZTT

kieron Tyler


Saint Etienne Present Songs for a Central Park PicnicVarious Artists: Saint Etienne Present Songs for a Central Park Picnic

Read more...

WOMAD 2013, Charlton Park - Day Two

Caspar Gomez

If there’s a patron saint of WOMAD it must be Bob Marley. His visage, serious but gentle, peers out from more T-shirts than I care to count. And all the festival-goers who don’t have WOMAD-standard long, white, straggly hair sport dreadlocks. The silliest haircut goes to a fellow in (again) WOMAD-standard travellers’ pantaloons who sports small knots of hair, each tied with a different coloured elastic band.

Read more...

Wu-Tang Clan, O2 Academy Brixton

James Williams

Just how loyal is the average hip hop fan? This was the question on many lips after the fiasco that the previous Wu-Tang tour in 2011 turned out to be. Their last sojourn on these shores was marred by members dropping out at the last minute and a general lack of organisation. There was pressure this time for the band to deliver.

Read more...

WOMAD 2013, Charlton Park - Day One

Caspar Gomez

I am a WOMAD virgin. “Princey will be here later, he usually frequents this bar,” a man with straggly white hair tells me as I wander aimlessly about. I think he means Prince Rogers Nelson, the diminutive rock star who sang “Purple Rain”, and I grow vaguely animated. He starts telling me about how last year he advised Prince not to shoot civilians and begins a short diatribe about how Prince is falling into the ways of his father and his grandfather. My mind is slow.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Michael Hurley, James Govan, Dan Penn, 14 Iced Bears

kieron Tyler


Michael Hurley Armchair BoogieMichael Hurley: Armchair Boogie / Hi Fi Snock Uptown

Read more...

Hermeto Pascoal, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Squeaking toy pigs. Tea pots. Bicycle pumps. Yes, the dynamic Brazilian composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal was back in town, making a rare appearance at Ronnie Scott's.

Read more...

Devendra Banhart, Barbican Centre

russ Coffey

Last night the “freaky” Devendra Banhart didn’t make an appearance. No songs were performed cross-legged, nor were there any wig-outs. For the majority of the evening the 32-year-old American-Venezuelan hippy was, by his standards, practically understated. In keeping with his new album, Mala, he chose to emphasise songwriting over personality. For those of us who were beginning to lose faith in him, it all came as something of a relief.

Read more...

Friends, Coalition, Brighton

thomas H Green

Samantha Urbani is one of the sassiest frontwomen in all pop, a sexy, feline creature whose polyamorous lifestyle fuels her lyrics and adds to her projected sensuality. She sits outside Brighton seafront venue Coalition, watching water-skiers ride the mill pond sea in balmy summer heat, but one whisper from a bandmate in her ear and she's onstage within a minute, attacking opening song "Shattered".

Read more...

Bellowhead, Billy Bragg and Karine Polwart, Kew Gardens

tim Cumming

Sunday evening was the last of a week of Kew the Music concerts – from Blondie to Paul Weller via Jools Holland and Leona Lewis – six nights, 8,000 people per night. The gate money is going towards the £400m facelift of the Temperate House, where the stage was set for the closing Sunday night of English and Scottish folk songs from Karine Polwart, Billy Bragg and Bellowhead.

Read more...

Richard Hawley, Somerset House

Bruce Dessau

The specially erected sign on the lamppost on the way in said "Sheffield". For one night only the People's Republic of South Yorkshire seemed to decamp to Somerset House in honour of one of its numerous musical sons. A trickle of chippy north-south divide ran through last night's gig, with quips about the la-di-da PM and the price of London drinks, but the music undoubtedly united everyone as Hawley warmed to his fans: "I might get you a beer later…I did say one between the lot of you."

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Shadow Morton, Motorama, Rob Jo Star Band, Souad Massi

kieron Tyler


Sophisticated Boom Boom!! The Shadow Morton StoryVarious Artists: Sophisticated Boom Boom!! – The Shadow Morton Story

Read more...

Cassandra Wilson, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

The great jazz singers are also the great storytellers. Last night, listening to Cassandra Wilson sing “Wichita Lineman”, that single, devastating couplet - "And I need you more than want you/And I want you for all time" - conjured up an individual's entire life story.

Read more...

Thundercat, XOYO

James Williams

When The Golden Age of Apocalypse, the first LP by Stephen Bruner, the American musician better known as Thundercatwas released in 2011, it was a revelation. Co-produced by Flying Lotus and taking its cues from electronica, prog, pop and funk, its sublime jazz sound united head-bobbing musos, fellow musicians (Bruner counts Dr Dre, Erykah Badu and Odd Future among his fans and collaborators) and critics.

Read more...

Tunng, The Lexington

joe Muggs

When Tunng started out in 2005, they were a peculiar proposition. Treading a fine line between Heath Robinson ramshackle and meticulous high-tech, ancient and hyper-modern, bone percussion and glitchy electronic sparkles, they certainly deserved the then-popular term “folktronica”. Though their melodies were unerringly catchy, their lyrics were so out-there, their lineup so unorthodox and their sound so psychedelic it was never likely they'd be more than a cult act.

Read more...

Abida Parveen, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Simon Broughton

It was wonderful watching and listening to Abida Parveen through the sculptural arms of a girl sitting a few rows in front. As Abida began, with a rich, clarinet-like voice, the woman raised her arms as if to bathe in or caress the sound, elegantly turning and twisting her fingers and hands to the music.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Public Image Ltd, Tom Robinson Band, Michael Chapman, Bobby Whitlock

kieron Tyler

 

Public Image Ltd Public Image First IssuePublic Image Ltd: Public Image – First Issue

Read more...

theartsdesk at Glastonbury Festival 2013

Caspar Gomez

The smell is like a squidgy hash spliff marinated in hickory-smoked barbecue sauce. There’s an additional top note of tangy, excited human musk and a hint of vinegary organic waste. By the weekend’s end this Parfum de Glaston will have infused everything, from unworn clothes to the tent to even skin and hair. It will take days to shift, permeating the pores as completely as this temporary city of madness sandblasts the mind. But let’s not get carried away before we’ve begun.

Read more...

The Flamin’ Groovies, Scala

kieron Tyler

“Off we jolly well go.” With that, The Flamin’ Groovies’s Chris Wilson announced the arrival of “Shake Some Action”, the band’s classic evocation of rock ‘n’ roll swagger. In 2013, 40 years after it was first recorded, it's still magnificent, a headlong rush of chiming, descending chords and soaring vocals. “If you don't dig what I say, then I will go away,” sang Wilson. And without a mass audience, The Flamin’ Groovies had gone away. Wilson left in 1981 and the band fizzled out in 1992.

Read more...

Blondie, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Graeme Thomson

Blondie are one of a handful of bands capable of producing a set list which renders rational critical argument all but obsolete. If they play the hits and they play them straight and true, there’s not really much to complain about. Last night in Edinburgh the six-piece line-up (half original members, half relative newbies) played (most of) the hits, and well, but let’s break it down to specifics.

Read more...

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Hard Rock Calling, Olympic Park

adam Sweeting

"Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park" is a wonderfully grand name for the venue for this summer's Hard Rock Calling festival, but the reality doesn't quite match up. Rather than basking in the glory (and shiny new stadium architecture) of Mo and Jessica's triumphs from last summer, music fans found themselves a few hundred yards away on a drab swathe of stony wasteland, temporarily covered with artificial grass.

Read more...

theartsdesk at the Glasgow Jazz Festival

nick Hasted

“It was a bit leary,” Georgie Fame recalls of a 1960 visit to Glasgow. “They had these cast-iron ash-trays at the Empire...” Teddy boys offended by Fame’s starry effect on the local girls led to these being skimmed at the band, bisecting a cymbal, he explains almost fondly, of the night police with dogs were needed to ensure that he at least left the city intact.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Giorgio Moroder, The Teardrop Explodes

kieron Tyler


Giorgio Moroder Schlagermoroder Volume 1 1966-1975Giorgio Moroder: Schlagermoroder Volume 1 1966-1975 / On the Groove Train Volume 1 1975-1993 / On the Groove Train Volume 2 1974-1985 / Son of my Father

Read more...

Lucinda Williams, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Graeme Thomson

Lucinda Williams’s current tour might be billed as “intimate”, but anyone who has seen her perform before will know that intimacy tends to come with the ticket. It is true, however, that this pared-down format, in which she performs drummerless and accompanied – splendidly – by Doug Pettibone and David Sutton on guitars, pedal steel, bass and harmonies, brings the audience even closer to her extraordinary voice and unflinching words.

Read more...

Marianne Faithfull & Bill Frisell, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Sebastian Scotney

“Marianne Faithfull, you are first of all a timbre, a warm and bewitching voice…” Those were the words of the French Culture Minister in March 2011, when he awarded her the title of Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. That celebrated vocal timbre has now settled comfortably, truly, deeply in the baritone register.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Scared to Get Happy

kieron Tyler

 

Scared to Get Happy A Story of Indie-pop 1980-1989Various Artists: Scared to Get Happy – A Story of Indie-pop 1980-1989

Read more...

Urban Voices Collective, Pizza Express Jazz Club

peter Quinn

When it comes to live performance, nothing quite socks it to the solar plexus like a choir singing their heart out. Last night, in the intimate space of Soho's Pizza Express Jazz Club, Urban Voices Collective (UVC) gave it to us with both barrels.

Read more...

Iggy and The Stooges, Royal Festival Hall

Garth Cartwright

Having witnessed Neil Young’s shambolic O2 concert on Monday – Young treating the occasional venture into his back catalogue with listless contempt whilst serving up multiple banalities from his recent albums – I considered skipping seeing more veteran American rockers.

Read more...

The Gloaming, Union Chapel

peter Quinn

While the melodic and rhythmic subtleties of traditional Irish music are best experienced through listening to the solo performer, it's very much through groups that the music has reached a global audience. While some so-called "supergroups" have promised much and delivered very little – being nothing more than a session on stage with no thought for arrangements, pacing or mood – in this much anticipated UK premiere The Gloaming spectacularly fulfilled, and surpassed, all expectations.

Read more...

Reggie Watts/Mac Lethal, Royal Festival Hall

James Williams

The Meltdown Festival has always been a fascinating proposition, getting a living legend in their field to curate their own personal festival line-up, and present all of their idiosyncratic choices to London in the refined and retro-futuristic surroundings of the Royal Festival Hall.

Read more...

Neil Young and Crazy Horse, O2 Arena

adam Sweeting

"Don't say it's over," wailed Neil Young at the end of "Hey Hey, My My", his raging anthem against the dying of the light which still sounds as bellicose and cantankerous as it did in 1979. And happily it isn't over yet, because on this evidence the 67-year-old Young still looks fighting fit and raring to run round-the-clock heavy metal marathons.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Dr. Feelgood, The Three O’Clock, Ane Brun, Ruthann Friedman

kieron Tyler


Dr. Feelgood: Taking No Prisoners (with Gypie 1977-1981)

Read more...

Chelsea Light Moving, Village Underground

kieron Tyler

“We’re Chelsea Light Moving, we’re from London.” Coming from Thurston Moore during the first UK outing of his post-Sonic Youth combo, that’s amusing. Not only are the rest of the quartet American, Moore himself remains the definition of New York cool. And Chelsea Light Moving sound as American as apple pie with his trademark slash-and-dive guitar and conversational vocals. “It’s Sonic Youth,” declared a voice to my left.

Read more...

Travis, Islington Assembly Halls

russ Coffey

“The reason we’ve been away so long,” explained Fran Healy halfway through last night’s gig, “is we wanted to take time off to enjoy our kids.” Such non-rock’n’roll sentiments are, of course, the sort of thing you might expect from a band once dubbed the “nicest in the world”.  What I hadn’t anticipated, however, was the amount of fire and passion that would surface during the night. Really.

Read more...

Songlines Encounters Festival

tim Cumming

This is the third Songlines Encounters festival at Kings Place. Wednesday’s programme featured Balkans, Polish and Georgian music, Thursday had Egyptian Baladi Blues and Louisiana’s Sarah Savoy, and Friday featured West Africa, Spain and Palestine.

Read more...

Reissue CDs Weekly: Burt Bacharach