sun 31/05/2020

New Music Reviews

The Monkees, Royal Albert Hall

Kieron Tyler

The Monkees’ Head was their celluloid suicide note. They chanted that they were a manufactured band with no philosophy. The film caught an authentic psychedelic vision which came to life again last night. Post-interval, the show continued with a stunning run through of the Head soundtrack songs, most of which had never been played live.

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Queens of the Stone Age, Roundhouse

Russ Coffey

“Tonight there’s no one else in the world – just us together,” announced Josh Homme halfway through the night. And it felt so. But it didn't seem like we were in the Roundhouse. More like we were sitting amid the heat haze of California’s Palm Desert, on a two-hour psychedelic trip, and the Queens of the Stone Age front man was our personal shaman. Sometimes it was euphoric, and other times it was dizzying.

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Noah and the Whale, Roundhouse

David Cheal Noah and the Whale's Charlie Fink: Beyond folk

They’re a fun band with some cracking tunes and they provided a vibrant night’s music last night at the Roundhouse, but where on earth did the idea come from that Noah and the Whale are a folk band? On this evidence, they’re about as folkie as Motörhead. Granted, they have a violinist in their line-up, but this is really no signifier of folkiness. In fact, the musician who sprang to mind most frequently...

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Suuns/ Gyratory System, Corsica Studios, London

Kieron Tyler Suuns: Locked tight for power

It took until the fourth song of their set for Suuns to take off. Lurching into “PVC”, the Montréal quartet gelled. Monolithic drums, pounding, relentless bass guitar and slabs of sheet-metal guitar rolled off the stage. Harnessing the power of heavy metal, they’d achieved escape velocity. More powerful than on album, the unassuming-looking Suuns made a compelling case for their stripped-down, post-...

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Atari Teenage Riot, O2 Islington Academy

joe Muggs Atari Teenage Riot's glowering demagogue, Alec Empire

The last time I saw Atari Teenage Riot play was in a gig venue above a pub some time around 1999 and it was one of the most intense gigs I've ever experienced. Then-member Carl Crack – who would take his own life not long after – was clearly a man on the edge, and the entire group were acting wired, scared and weird. They made the most stupendous racket, and the well-over-capacity audience reacted by leaping about so violently that the building needed structural repairs afterwards. To be...

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Sufjan Stevens, Royal Festival Hall

David Cheal

“Hi, I’m Sufjan Stevens,” said Sufjan Stevens as his show, the first of two nights at the Festival Hall, got under way. “I’m your entertainment for the evening. I’ll be singing a lot of songs about love and death and the apocalypse. But it should be a lot of fun." This was quite an understatement. Fun?

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The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, Leeds Town Hall

graham Rickson They pluck, pick, slap, whistle, shout, hum and harmonise, effortlessly - they're not leaning on lamp posts: The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

The trick is to transform something relatively easy into something dazzling and bewilderingly complex. Seeing the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is like watching eight masters of close-up magic. You’re not quite sure where to look, unable to believe quite what you’re hearing. These are boom times for the four-string ukulele. You can pick up a functional instrument for a tenner and learn three chords in five minutes, meaning that a huge repertoire of Western pop songs is yours for...

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Peter Doherty, Shepherds Bush Empire

Bruce Dessau

One can safely say that there is never a dull moment with Peter Doherty. His life is such a soap opera it is often easy to overlook the fact that, even if you don’t buy the tortured-poet schtick, he is clearly a gifted songwriter. It is such a shame he cannot knuckle down and stick to his day job and bash out some more classics.

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Asian Dub Foundation - Music of Resistance, Brighton Dome

Thomas H Green

It's been a while since I've spent time with Asian Dub Foundation. In the mid-Nineties, when they first appeared, they were one of the most exciting acts around and I enthused about them in print at every opportunity. They were born of an east-London community music project, mashing up the then-new sounds of drum and bass with agitprop showmanship and anti-racist politics. The result was a visceral live act that fitted as well beside the rising Brit-Asian wave (Talvin Singh, Nitin Sawhney,...

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Syriana, Purcell Room

howard Male “Oh, there you are!” Some but not all of Syriana finally locate the photographer

As someone brought up on the concise innocent perfection of the pop single, I have to confess I’m a bit of a hard sell when it comes to sprawling instrumentals. They feel like unfinished songs to me; empty landscapes that need figures in them to create context, narrative, or just a focal point to give meaning to the whole. But there have been a few primarily instrumental acts over the years that have convinced me, and the multicultural five-piece Syriana have now joined their ranks.

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