fri 12/07/2024

New Music Reviews

Birthdays on the Tube: 3-9 April

Peter Culshaw Billie Holiday: Lady Day sings the Blues

This week’s birthdays of musicians include a couple of disturbed geniuses, Billie Holiday and Joe Meek, underrated rock’n‘roller Carl Perkins, country legend Merle Haggard, as well as Doris Day, Pharrell Williams and bluesman Muddy Waters, whose mojo is working overtime. Videos below.

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Abdullah Ibrahim, Barbican Hall

Anonymous (not Verified)

Like Hugh Masekela, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim first emerged as a member of The Jazz Epistles - that seminal, if short-lived, group who at the start of the 1960s were the first to offer a South African take on modern jazz. Both under the stage name Dollar Brand and, following his conversion to Islam, as Abdullah Ibrahim, it's an instinct he's been honing ever since.

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Paloma Faith, Shepherds Bush Empire

David Cheal

She’s a former magician’s assistant from Hackney, and on the first of three sold-out nights in London, before our very eyes, Paloma Faith conjured up an evening of uplifting and energetic entertainment: glittery and glamorous, warm and friendly. The music itself was memorable, but what stuck in my mind more than anything was her smile; she was having the time of her life, and it showed in a big broad grin that could light up a neighbourhood.

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Peter Gabriel, O2 Arena

David Cheal

Well, it wasn’t exactly the most cheerful night of my life. Especially the first half. Peter Gabriel, musical polymath and father of such irresistibly rhythmic and uplifting songs as “Sledgehammer” and “Steam”, had decided that his new world tour would feature no guitars, no electric instruments, no drum kit; instead, there would be a full orchestra, a grand piano, a couple of backing singers, and himself.

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Alcoholic Faith Mission, Camden Bar Fly

howard Male Will the Apostolic Faith Mission see the joke?

Standing in the black-walled gloom of the Bar Fly in Camden, I suddenly realise that I’m one of only a couple of dozen people completely transfixed by the band on the stage. Perhaps this is because, to most of the audience, they are just the third act in a kind of three-for-the-price-of-one night, and they simply don’t have the necessary party vibe that’s required to bring Saturday night to a satisfactory end. But as I find this Copenhagen outfit’s sublime, intense and obliquely romantic brand...

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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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