fri 29/05/2020

New Music Reviews

Imelda May, Liquid Room, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson Imelda May 'wiggled and wooed like a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Carmen Miranda'

When it comes to the Seven Ages of popular music we are now well into the post-retro era. In 2011 every artist is a magpie and every song sails out beneath a pirate flag, greedily plundering where it pleases. When everything that has gone before is up for grabs, it’s now simply a question of how you want your yesterdays delivered: rare, medium or well done?

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Mordant Mass, The Vortex

joe Muggs Nick Edwards aka Ekoplekz, creating abstract dub from the sound of surging electricity

Avant-garde art, by its very nature, always treads a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous, and between entertainment and alienation. Thankfully this is something understood very well by the joint curators of Friday night's show at the Vortex Jazz Club: Baron Mordant of the Mordant Music record label and Jonny Mugwump of the Exotic Pylon website and radio show. As the names perhaps suggest, these are people versed in the potential deep silliness of what they do, even as they take...

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The Creole Choir of Cuba, Barbican

howard Male The Creole Choir of Cuba burning brightly on behalf of their ancestors

As a world music critic one gets used to the stream of superlatives that generally arrive in the wake of whatever big new act is being plugged. World music promoters have a particularly hard job because they don’t just want to preach to the converted; they also want to try to get some new listeners to widen their musical horizons a little. So even before I’d heard a note of the Creole Choir of Cuba I knew that they’d gone down a storm at the Edinburgh Festival, that Jools Holland’s producer...

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Estrella Morente, Sadler's Wells Flamenco Festival

ismene Brown

Every February the Sadler’s Wells flamenco festival summons the illusion of Spanish sun onto our chilled, grateful backs - this year singers are getting almost as much prominence as dancers. But what sun, I ask, at Estrella Morente’s dark, often remote evening, opening the fortnight last night? (And why, still, after years of urgent requests, no subtitles for these pungently melodramatic lyrics?)

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Roxy Music, O2 Arena

Kieron Tyler

Two Roxy Musics took to the stage at the O2. One the art-rock retro-futurist outfit that redefined Seventies pop from 1971 to 1976, the other the airbrushed high-sheen machine of 1979 to 1982. They weren’t a comfortable fit, but this by turns perplexing and wonderful show offered more than enough evidence for what a weird, inspirational and wilful band Roxy Music were and are.

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Joan As Police Woman, Barbican

Bruce Dessau

Joan Wasser, who operates under the name of Joan As Police Woman, has probably seen all sorts in her time, having played with Antony Hegarty and Rufus Wainwright and dated the late Jeff Buckley. But even she was thrown by an inappropriate comment from the stalls at the Barbican last night. "Show us your tits" is the sort of thing female comedians in working men’s clubs, not soulful, passionate musicians in concert halls, have to put up with.

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Vanessa Paradis, Koko

Kieron Tyler

Vanessa Paradis is a card-carrying icon, but for us Brits the reason why is hard to define. After the hyper-cute “Joe le taxi” hit the charts in 1987 when she was 14, Paradis didn’t carve a musical career here. Being the partner of Johnny Depp is her usual route into the press.

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Gang of Four, Heaven

Bruce Dessau Rock at its shoutiest: The Four Hoarse Men of the Apocalypse

Gang of Four vocalist Jon King remembers the last time he was in Heaven – the venue, not the celestial aftershow party. It was the night of the Great Hurricane of 1987 and as he walked down nearby Villiers Street later that evening two trees blew past him. "It was a gusty night," he recalled onstage with a smile last night. The question was could the latest Gang of Four line-up blow up their very own storm in WC2?

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Esben and the Witch, Pavilion Theatre, Brighton

Thomas H Green Esben and the Witch, far from the average indie band

It seems to me that Esben and the Witch would like to perform in absolute darkness. Or perhaps in silhouette behind a screen like an oriental shadowplay. Such a theatrical device might even suit their dark, menacing music. Instead, two of the three band members have to make do with a curtain of hair between themselves and the audience. Young and shy, they deliver their moody, occasionally explosive music with low-key confidence and, in fact, their slight awkwardness in front of a crowd only...

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Gwilym Simcock, The Forge, Camden

peter Quinn

As star pianist Gwilym Simcock amusingly recalled during his solo set last night, German efficiency almost scuppered the making of his latest and universally acclaimed release, Good Days at Schloss Elmau. Recorded at the deluxe Alpine spa in just a single day last September, the pianist's Herculean keyboard feats were made against a subliminal backing track of meadows being mown and kitchen deliveries being made.

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