fri 18/10/2019

New Music Reviews

Neil Diamond, Radio 2 Electric Proms, Roundhouse

David Cheal

At 7.55pm I was tired and grouchy. By 9.30pm I was a happy man, thanks to Neil Diamond. Say what you like about this 69-year-old singer and songwriter: he may be a cheesy old showbiz pro, but personally I am partial to a bit of cheesy showbiz, and an hour and a half in his company on the final night of this year’s Radio 2 Electric Proms was a real tonic.

With his Thunderbirds eyebrows and his prowling gait, Diamond was an imposing figure whose voice has lost none of its gritty...

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Keith Richards: A Culture Show Special, BBC Two

Jasper Rees

“I was a very good soprano.” Of all the sentences you’d not expect to hear tumbling from the mouth of Keith Richards, that one is up there with "Tap water for me, please, and I do hope this vegan restaurant is non-smoking." He has the addled larynx of a Fag Ash Lil who, when not mopping and dusting, perches on a barstool glugging gin and puffing on Bensons. But once upon a time little Richards did once sing for the Queen.

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Carl Barât, Scala

Bruce Dessau Barat home: The erstwhile Libertine returned to the capital in style

It is not easy to kickstart a fresh musical career after you've been in a painfully fashionable – and intermittently brilliant – band. It is even harder when this is your second bash at starting out again. And harder still when a couple of months ago you trousered enough money to keep you in leather jackets for a lifetime by briefly reforming that original band for a pair of festival cameos. Yet last night erstwhile Libertine and ex-Dirty Pretty Thing Carl Barât did enough to suggest that,...

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Agnes Obel: Philharmonics

Kieron Tyler

Although Danish singer-songwriter Agnes Obel has professed a kinship with Roy Orbison and his grand musical dramas, it’s John Cale that she covers on her debut album. Choosing the slow-burning “I Keep A Close Watch” from 1975’s Helen Of Troy (Cale re-recorded it in 1982 on Music For A New Society) is telling. Not only does Obel look for and seek to telegraph emotion, she is allying herself with performers and songwriters recognised as passionate and heartfelt.

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Manu Chao, Coronet Theatre

Peter Culshaw

“It’s not often you get a global superstar down at the Elephant and Castle,” marvelled a local who spent the evening dancing like a dervish to the infectious music of Manu Chao, who had breezed into London for a rare show last night off the back of a short tour of Japan and the West Coast of America. The first person I saw as an usher was Colombian philosopher Oscar Guardiola-Rivera whose book What if Latin America Ruled the World? suggests - among many other things - that the US is...

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Krystle Warren, Rich Mix

howard Male Krystle Warren: smoky, rich, world-weary, honeyed, velvet-smooth, mellifluous

Paradoxically, the greater the number of established artists you find yourself comparing a new talent to, the more original you are eventually forced to conclude this new talent is. So let’s get those comparisons out of the way: this Kansas City gal sounds a bit like Cassandra Wilson, Joan Armatrading, Me’Shell NdegéOcello, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Sly Stone, Bob Dylan, Bill Withers… and the list could go on....

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KT Tunstall, Shepherd's Bush Empire

Russ Coffey

First up, a confession. I’m one of those who’ve never considered KT Tunstall to be quite the real deal. She’s sometimes described as indie, but I’ve always found her more background music for filling out a tax form to than someone to help you through a lost weekend. On a recent single she sings about being “still a weirdo”, but it comes over to me about as convincingly as Guy Ritchie’s accent. Weirdo? That cutesy Sino-Scottish face and Jimmy Krankie accent are only a curio when stacked up...

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Brandon Flowers, HMV Forum

Bruce Dessau

There was a rumour floating around the packed Forum last night that David Cameron was in the audience. I did not spot him on my way in, but he did choose The Killers' “All These Things That I've Done” as a desert island disc in 2006 and I imagine that, being a man of firm convictions, Brandon Flowers still floats his prime-ministerial boat. Clean living, passionate, nothing too controversial – just like the PM before he pulled the knife out and started plotting to slash away at the country's...

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Guns N' Roses, O2 Arena

Adam Sweeting

"The Legend of Axl Rose" sounds like the title for a long and fanciful western movie, about a bandit who defies the law and even time itself. In person, wayward vocalist Rose does indeed resemble some kind of picaresque outlaw who rules his own eccentric kingdom, and he lent much-needed gaiety to this sprawling performance by constantly ringing the changes on a huge wardrobe of hats, jackets and multi-coloured T-shirts.

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a-ha, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall

Kieron Tyler

Twenty-five years ago, a-ha achieved something unprecedented for a Norwegian band: they entered the British charts. The week of 5 October, 1985 saw “Take On Me” enter the Top 40. Three weeks later it peaked at number two. To mark the anniversary, a-ha have chosen to do two things: embark on a worldwide farewell tour and play a special show at the Royal Albert Hall, running through their debut album, Hunting High and Low, with a full orchestra.

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