sun 18/08/2019

New Music Reviews

Magnetic Fields, Barbican Hall

David Cheal

The Magnetic Fields were in London for a concert that could only have been, for them, a less frenetic affair than their last appearance in the capital a couple of years ago, when they arrived at the airport to find that their entire collection of musical instruments had failed to follow them.

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Singles & Downloads 4

Thomas H Green Lady Gaga gets down, post-mass poisoning, in the Telephone video.

Lady Gaga featuring Beyoncé, Telephone (Polydor)

Lady Gaga is gradually wending her way to the position Madonna held for 20 years, punching through pop into the wider cultural consciousness, a superpopstar for whom the sky's the limit. Gaga arrived from the same cultural milieu as Madonna, the performance arty New York club scene. However, whereas Madonna very much played up the disco end of things, Gaga, at least visually, screams art attack.

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No One Knows About Persian Cats

joe Muggs Musicians from the film, including Ashkan and Negar (front)

The protests around the Iranian presidential elections of 2009 brought home to many in the West not only how dominated by youth the pro-democracy movement in Iran is, but also how westernised the youth of that country are. Symbolised by Neda Agha-Soltan, the young woman whose death at the hands of security forces was caught on camera and beamed around the world, this was an Iran a world away from the glowering Ayatollahs and pepperpot women in black chadors we tended to see on news...

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Tom McRae, Scala

Russ Coffey

In life Tom McRae is a cockeyed optimist. When his label, V2, dumped him, his response was to start up his own recording studio and to enthusiastically play every honky-tonk between LA and New York. It was the fans that kept McRae positive. An almost fanatically loyal crowd, they stuck with him through thick and thin and asked for little. Their demand was singular and a little perverse. All they wanted was to leave each concert feeling a little bit more depressed than when they went in.

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Mumford & Sons, Shepherds Bush Empire

Bruce Dessau

I had been trying to secure a ticket for Mumford & Sons’ sold-out-yonks-ago tour for most of last week. Ten minutes before they were due to go onstage for their final gig, I'd given up hope. It was a case of go home and console myself with YouTube tribute band Sonford & Mums or succumb to the touts, and who wants to give them money? Luckily a kind-hearted Samaritan with a spare pass took pity on me.

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Mama Rosin, St Moritz Club

howard Male

What do you imagine a Swiss Cajun/Zydeco trio would sound like? It’s not a question that’s easy to navigate without slipping into the politically incorrect quicksand of racial or cultural stereotyping. So it gives me great pleasure to report that any narrow-minded assumptions I may have had in that department were instantly confounded by the reality of the life-affirming racket made by these three young men from Geneva as they rocked the basement bar of the St Moritz Club in Wardour Street...

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Karine Polwart, Roxy Art House, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson

If ever there was a classic case of artist and audience meeting on terribly comfortable ground, Karine Polwart's performance at last night’s fundraiser for the Green Party was it. Held in a beautiful converted church, there was more than a trace of the Vicar of Dibley lurking around the edge of the proceedings.

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John Cale, RFH

David Cheal

It was Brian Wilson who started it. Eight years ago he toured Britain with a show that had at its heart a triumphant performance of his classic Beach Boys album, Pet Sounds, played – in a phrase that has become de rigueur when describing such events – in its entirety.

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Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Mahanthappa, Vortex

Peter Culshaw Dynamic duo mix Indian, Classical and Jazz elements

I was promised a night of free jazz. This was more a threat than a promise, having spent some of the worst nights of my life listening to the stuff - the strange thing about this most liberating sounding form is how everyone sounds more or less the same. Anyway, this wasn’t a night of wibbly-wobbly squeaky-gate music, but a fully realised, if sometimes chilly, vision. It was spontaneous architecture and interesting structures and lyricism. It was original without being self-conscious about it....

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Nitin Sawhney and LSO, Yogoto No Yume, Barbican

Peter Culshaw

When I last met Nitin Sawhney, I’d heard that he was a whizz at mental arithmetic. I asked him, perhaps impertinently, what was 91 times 94? “8,827,” he relied, quick as a flash. Several hours later, I worked out he was probably right. “Vedic mathematics,” he said. What I can say about last night’s performance was there was some interesting mathematics going on. Some time signatures rubbed friskily against others in certain scenes in ways a mathematician would love.

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