sun 18/08/2019

New Music Reviews

Freedom of the City, Conway Hall, London

Anonymous (not Verified) Evan Parker: intense and emotive explorations of pure sonics

Eight hours of “improvised and experimental music” would not be on everyone’s list of Bank Holiday essentials, and the marathon programme that constitutes the first half of the two-day Freedom of The City festival could have proved daunting for even the free jazz faithful. That the experience turns out to be very far from gruelling is, then, in no small part thanks to the curators, among them such luminaries as Evan Parker and Eddie Prévost.

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Iggy Pop and Suicide, Hammersmith Apollo

Colin McKean

Sir Mick Jagger was not, by any means, a street fightin’ man, but his charisma and the conviction with which he sang the line, allowed us to suspend our disbelief. The song would have seemed ludicrous, pathetic even, if it had not. Iggy Pop is not, in fact, a street walkin’ cheetah with a heart full of napalm, but when he sang the immortal opening line of “Search and Destroy” last night, he embodied every word.

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Gorillaz, Roundhouse

Bruce Dessau

For a band that was initially created as a conceptual cartoon, Gorillaz is a pretty formidable live band. At a heaving Roundhouse last night, Damon Albarn and a galaxy of guests put on a show that is an easy contender for gig of the year, complete with visuals from co-founder and cartoonist Jamie Hewlett and sailors' hats all round. From Admiral Snoop Dogg opening proceedings on a giant video screen to Albarn fronting an all-hands-on-deck climax of early hit “Clint Eastwood”, the virtual...

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Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Scala London

David Cheal Concentrated bursts of power from Chicago: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

It’s my habit as a music critic to take notes at shows such as this: nothing extensive, just words and phrases jotted down to jog the memory when it comes to writing the thing up afterwards. Looking back at my scraps of paper for this, the London leg of the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble’s UK tour, I can see only a handful of scrawled words: “war”, “party”, and, er, “dum dum da dum dum dum”. I think I was having too much fun to bother with writing much down. It was that kind of night.

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Fool’s Gold and Benin City, Camden Bar Fly

howard Male Fool's Gold: More West African than West coast

Fool’s Gold’s debut album brims over with the enthusiasm of a band who have discovered - primarily through African music - that there’s another way to play the electric guitar other than to just form workman-like bar-chords, stamp down hard on the distortion pedal, and then hit those six strings as hard as you can.  And fortunately for them, there’s a young audience clearly thrilled to have this discovery passed onto them. By the end of their set at the jam-packed Bar Fly, there’s actually a...

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Pressure Drop, Wellcome Collection

Fisun Güner The liberal meets the far-right hard nut in a play exploring English identity

Four podia occupy the Wellcome Collection’s temporary gallery space. Three are stage sets: a living room, a pub and a funeral parlour, all recognisable as “typical” working class - in fact, the living room might have been based on Pauline Fowler’s dog-eared front room. The fourth, placed further back, is where Billy Bragg will intercut the dramatic action with a new set of songs with his three-piece band, plus engage in a bit of ad-lib banter that will direct the audience back and forth across...

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Berlin Sounds, Ether Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Paul McGee

One of the recurring themes in BBC4's recent documentary, Krautrock: The Rebirth Of Germany, was the importance placed by so many of its participants upon transcending Germany's then-recent past. Move on several decades, and you now have a country with a rich, varied and unique musical culture that not only has a global reach and influence, but which can also afford the luxury of being able to look back at itself and even have a little fun at its own expense.

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Bombay Bicycle Club, The Forum, London

Bruce Dessau

It's not the bobbies on the beat that are getting younger, it's the bands. Bombay Bicycle Club formed while at school in north London's Crouch End and were already making a name for themselves when they left full-time education in 2008. Rock and roll domination is on the curriculum instead, thanks to the success of last year's debut album, I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose.

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The Metal Machine Trio, Royal Festival Hall

Tim Cumming

A great wall of noise greets the audience as it settles in to the Royal Festival Hall - the sound of some heavy outer planet’s radio frequency, a subtly oscillating drone that recalls NASA’s recordings of radio emissions from Saturn made by the Cassini spacecraft.

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Dan Arborise, The Roxy Room, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson Dan Arborise: 'An organic kind of guy, in quiet thrall to nature.'

Sometimes the back story doesn’t lead you to where you expect it might. Sometimes that turns out to be a good thing. Dan Arborise was born in Borneo to Polish parents, which opens up all sorts of musical possibilities, most of them probably far less exciting than they sound, but in reality his music is as English as sweet summer rain.

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