tue 22/10/2019

New Music Reviews

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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Jonathan Richman, Amersham Arms

Bruce Dessau

In 1985 I travelled to Madrid to interview Jonathan Richman. Two questions into our perfectly amicable chat, proceedings assumed pear-shaped proportions. The eccentric musician behind the proto-punk hit "Roadrunner" announced that he did not want to speak any more so that he could preserve his voice for the gig that night. The rest of the interview was conducted by pen on a piece of scrap cardboard.

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The Jim Jones Revue, The Komedia, Brighton

Thomas H Green

The great music writer Nick Tosches put me onto James Luther Dickinson. In Where Dead Voices Gather, his self-indulgent but fascinating book about the obscure early-20th-century minstrel performer Emmett Miller, Tosches kept touching on Dickinson, a Memphis musician and occasional Rolling Stones sidesman (he played piano on "Wild Horses").

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Electronica: BBC Concert Orchestra, Will Gregory Moog Ensemble, Hazlewood, QEH

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

I would call them burglars: musicians from the experimental rock, electronica and sound-art traditions who cross the genre divide, sneak into the world of classical music, pillage its more easily pillaged valuables, thieve its respectability, filch its original ideas, and sprint back breathlessly to their wide-eyed fans to show off this brilliantly clever "new" classical music (much of which is made up of techniques that George Benjamin would have grown out of by the age of six) in double...

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Tony Allen, Barbican

howard Male

Happy Birthday, Tony! Last night the great Nigerian musician celebrated the fact that he has spent 70 years on the planet, with 52 of those years exploring – as no other drummer has explored – the humble kit drum (or drum kit if you prefer). This standard arrangement of bass drum, snare drum, toms, cymbals and percussion has been the engine behind most popular music for only a couple of decades longer than Tony himself has been bashing away at the things for.

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Ninja Tune XX, Ewer Street Carpark

joe Muggs

Its authenticity was helped no end by a torrential downpour leaking through the brickwork and creating puddles in various parts of the uneven floor – and by the rousing mix of hyperkinetic Nineties jungle beats cut up with seemingly humanly impossible dexterity over a dazzlingly crisp soundsystem by Japanese man-machine DJ Kentaro (pictured below) who was playing as we entered.

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Grinderman, Coronet

Bruce Dessau

A few years ago a friend told me that Brighton resident Nick Cave had been spotted singing "The Wheels on the Bus" at a local nursery. This might have been an apocryphal incident, but it still highlights a predicament of the older rock star. How do you deal with life's quotidian issues – the daily grind – while still rocking out? Cave’s fiendishly simple solution? Ignore the problem and do both, combining school runs by day with explosive gigs like this one last night.

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Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band, Union Chapel

Adam Sweeting

Actors and musicians are always trying to swap places, often with hilarious consequences (as long as you didn't pay for a ticket). Madonna in Body of Evidence? Keanu Reeves in his inexcusable band Dogstar? I think not. But Tim Robbins is a thoughtful, conscientious kinda guy, and he can even claim a bit of a folk-singing heritage via his father, Gilbert. And he put together the impressive soundtrack for his movie Dead Man Walking.

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Singles and Downloads 7

Thomas H Green The recently peroxided Mark Ronson, uncertain yet as to whether blondes have more fun

Mark Ronson & The Business Intl, The Bike Song (Sony Music)

There are ways and ways to make novelty retro-pop. Mark Ronson, for example, has absolutely nailed it here. This song, with its almost unbearably sunny Lovin' Spoonful-styled harmony vocals slathered over an early-Nineties pop-hip-hop breakbeat with jaunty raps from Spank Rock, should be awful – should be so calculatedly faux-naif it makes you hurl –...

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