sat 21/09/2019

New Music Reviews

Al Green & Michael McDonald, O2 Arena

joe Muggs The Reverend Al Green, displaying full cheesy charm (and sparkler)

Looked at from a certain angle, Michael McDonald, who supported Al Green at the O2 on Sunday, couldn't be cooler. A key part of Steely Dan's notoriously virtuosic circle of session musicians, the man who turned the Doobie Brothers from hoary rockers to sophisticated R&B hit machine, and latterly the business partner of The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges – the Missouri-born McDonald epitomises a certain kind of laid-back but massively aspirational attitude. It's the attitude associated very much...

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Dawn Kinnard, The Serpentine Sessions

Russ Coffey

On the face of it, comparisons could be drawn between Dawn Kinnard and fellow preacher’s-offspring-cum-country-singer, Diane Birch. Except Birch’s music comes from every musical advantage, whereas Kinnard still has a day-job as a hairdresser. Moreover, her voice remains totally unproduced - a glorious mix of Tom Waits and Marge Simpson.

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When You're Strange: A Film About The Doors

Adam Sweeting

It was the Danny Sugerman-Jerry Hopkins biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, that kicked off the Doors death cult 30 years ago, at a point where the band's reputation was wallowing low in the water. Previously it had been quite acceptable to regard much of their work as cheesy pseudo-jazz with stupid lyrics, and their posturing vocalist Jim Morrison as a tedious drunk with a Narcissus complex.

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Lennon Naked, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Films about rock stars usually fail, because it's impossible to recreate whatever larger-than-life qualities made them unique and famous in the first place. You frequently end up with a slightly embarrassing party-piece impersonation that captures some of the mannerisms but misses the essence of the character.

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Being N-Dubz, Channel 4

joe Muggs Dappy, Tulisa and Fazer: oddly charming

Tulisa, Dappy and Fazer of North London pop phenomenon N-Dubz – or, if you prefer, Tula Constavlos, her cousin Dino Constavlos and their schoolfriend Richard Rawson – are easy to mock, and Channel 4 know it. The first episode of this showbiz slice-of-life documentary about the ebullient trio is so slathered with the kind of hideously knowing upper-middle-class arched-eybrow voiceover that characterises the whole of the channel's T4 youth programming strand that you have to wonder if they...

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Singles & Downloads 6

Thomas H Green Wiley, master of both grime and pop

Wiley, Electric Boogaloo (Back Yard)

Erratic and spiky where his old mucker Dizzee Rascal has been slick and unerring in his rise to the top, East Londoner Richard "Wiley" Cowie has managed several massive pop-dance hits while remaining thoroughly entangled in the edgier, more aggro grime music scene which he helped to invent. This is very much on the pop-dance side of his output, with every mid-1990s club-energising trick in the book thrown into the...

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theartsdesk at Sónar festival, Barcelona

joe Muggs Local Catalan band Bradien hold their own among the international avant garde

In retrospect, deciding on a quick in-and-out trip to the Sónar festival was a slightly silly idea. Not because there was any problem with the event, or with getting there, or because I had any difficulty chucking an all-nighter then making it to my plane at 11am, though. Quite the opposite: it was a silly idea because a small taster of one of the best-organised music festivals I have ever been to could only make me deeply hacked off that I wasn't going to be there for the whole thing.

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Richard Thompson and Loudon Wainwright III, Royal Festival Hall

David Cheal

It takes quite something to be able to hold the attention of a packed Royal Festival Hall with nothing but an acoustic guitar, a piano, and a bunch of songs.

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Richard Thompson, One Thousand Years, Royal Festival Hall

Russ Coffey

Richard Thompson’s appointment as curator of Meltdown 2010 split opinion at theartsdesk. I was one of those who hoped the hoary old maverick would exhilarate with daring new acts. Others feared it would just be a folk-in. In the end the program contained Iranian punk, some folk and a whole lot of Thompson himself. He's offered film scores, a new show, and a collaboration.

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Ed Harcourt, Wilton's Music Hall

Adam Sweeting Multi-layered songwriter Ed Harcourt gives it some Heathcliff

If the audience at Wilton's charmingly archaic music hall were feeling depressed by the bleak comedy of the England "performance" against Algeria, a whirl around the musical block in the company of Ed Harcourt was the perfect antidote. Critics feel compelled to categorise everything, and Harcourt has been compared to all and sundry, from Brian Wilson to Harry Nilsson to Tom Waits. But...

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