tue 22/10/2019

New Music Reviews

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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Steve Winwood: English Soul, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Almost like an inverted echo of Stevie Wonder over in Detroit, Little Stevie Winwood was a Brummie teen prodigy who scored an early dose of stardom with the Spencer Davis Group at age 15. Raved over for his amazing soulful vocals and effortless instrumental skills, he went on to form Traffic before joining “supergroup” Blind Faith with Eric Clapton.

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The Duckworth Lewis Method, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Bruce Dessau

There cannot be many famous rock songs that mention cricket. Roy Harper's poetic "When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease" springs immediately to mind. And 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday". And then the trail goes fairly cold. Until 2009, when The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Tommy Walsh of Pugwash collaborated on their inspired Duckworth Lewis Method concept album.

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BeauSoleil, Queen Elizabeth Hall

David Cheal Custodians of Cajun culture: BeauSoleil

Our story begins in the early 1970s, when a young fiddler from Louisiana named Michael Doucet was making rock music. Then one day he heard a song by Fairport Convention: “Cajun Woman” (from the band’s Unhalfbricking album). He was shocked and delighted that an English group should be taking an interest in a strand of music that seemed to be fading into obscurity. In a sort of Proustian moment, he inhaled the fragrance of “Cajun Woman”, his interest in the music of his native region was...

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Willie Nelson & Family, The Playhouse, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson

A few years ago I wrote a book about Willie Nelson. Keith Richards supplied the introduction – a Kafkaesque saga which deserves a book in itself - during which he opined that Willie had a severe case of “white line fever”. This (for once) had nothing to do with exotic Peruvian powders and everything to do with the odd compulsion that keeps a man in his late seventies on the road for nine months of each year, rattling around the world in a bus while his wife and kids make hay in Hawaii.

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The Miserable Rich, St Giles in the Fields

Russ Coffey

If you thought Chamber Pop was dead, think again. The Divine Comedy are back with a new album, Rufus Wainwright is playing Meltdown, and The Leisure Society are gradually building up a cabinet of awards.

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The Unthanks, Union Chapel

Russ Coffey

Geordies love music. From Brian Johnson’s cap to Jimmy Nail’s crocodile shoes, they have melody in their blood. And they love a good story. All of which makes it little wonder that North-Eastern sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank are able to mine such a deep seam of Northumbrian folk music. What’s more remarkable is how they sing material so traditional, in accents so broad, and still sound so contemporary. It makes them different; it’s possibly what makes them so loved.

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Lady Gaga, O2 Arena

David Cheal

If the power-generating companies in the London area noticed a sudden surge in electricity consumption late on Sunday afternoon, I think I can explain why: many thousands of hair-straighteners and other beautifying devices were doubtless being put to use in the run-up to Lady Gaga’s show at the O2 Arena, the first of two nights in London.

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