Archived entries for Music

Bruce Springsteen The River Tour LA March 2016

Bruce Springsteen Close-up

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

Bruce Springsteen The River Tour – LA Memorial Sports Arena, March 2016

The 2013 Ridley Scott produced film Springsteen and I begins with footage of The Boss speaking almost evangelically on stage which sets the tone for an enjoyable journey of short home-made movies from a few of his many disciples, compiled to show the long lasting effect Bruce Springsteen and his music has had on their lives. The highlight of the film, even more so than the wonderful archives, the comedy (often accidental) contained in some of DIY videos and a range of great anecdotes and emotive testaments, is an epilogue when Springsteen meets some of the contributors to their surprise; the film is just a glimpse, but a telling one, into the transforming experience he promises, and delivers, at the start of his live shows as he takes his audience back down to The River, thirty-six years after its release.

The River, as he explains on stage in this tour, was his attempt to make an all encompassing “big” record. His fifth album in 1980 followed two masterpieces, Born to Run (1975) and Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978), both of which he started playing alternatively in their entirety during the 2013 European leg of the Wrecking Ball, starting at Wembley, and also throwing in the hit laden and under rated Born in the USA (1984) to lucky crowds as well on other nights. Now it’s the turn of the double album, The River, taking the first two hours of performances that last 3 hours 20 minutes, where Bruce hardly takes a breath, sweats a monsoon and the E Street again prove all night that they are the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band of all time. Continue reading…

Willie Nelson and Family, Austin, Texas

Willie Nelson and Family, Austin Rodeo 2016

Photograph ©TheSubstantive

Willie Nelson and Family, Austin Rodeo – 12 March 2016

Even in Austin, Texas, where every type of live music can be found on a daily basis, one man is the figurehead. In the centre of a bustling downtown area there are large murals of Willie Nelson, a life size bust and a Boulevard named after him while in the airport there is his memorabilia available at numerous outlets while on screen in souvenir stores video footage show him receiving plaudits from Presidents. Now aged 82, a homecoming performance in the Texan capital is an event. Continue reading…

David Bowie: Loving the Alien

Richard Pearmain on the loss of David Bowie.

“Where the fuck did Monday go?” A line from a song on an album that had come out only three days before. That particular Monday went floating in a most peculiar way.

I first saw the news on the platform at Hackney Downs station, idly scrolling through Facebook on my phone whilst waiting for a train in to work, noticing an unusual number of Bowie related posts, and then I saw a link to the story on BBC News. You get that immediate sense of incomprehension (“but he’s only just released a new album! I’d just been to a Bowie birthday club night in Brixton!”), and then a sense of – well, I don’t know really. Why was I feeling so upset? I got a text from a friend, who I’d been to that club night with, who was in tears, and asking the same question. We didn’t know David Bowie personally, we’d never met him, but it felt almost like a death in the family. Continue reading…

New Order Brixton Academy Nov 2015

New Order Brixton Nov 2015

New Order Brixton Academy

It seemed fitting that, as Storm Barney was worrying garden gnomes up and down the land, Bernard “Barney” Sumner and co were breezing into Brixton for the second of two nights at the Academy, promoting their first studio album in ten years (and their first album post Hook).

Music Complete is arguably New Order’s finest LP since Technique, and certainly their most dancefloor orientated. It’s a different beast to its immediate predecessors, the heavier Get Ready and the slightly more dad rock Waiting For The Siren’s Call, and (not getting drawn on the whole “they’re not the same without Peter Hook” argument) with new bassist Tom Chapman refraining from trying to ape the sound of you-know-who, it sounds better for it.

Although tonight’s show didn’t seem to be sold out, there was the longest queue I’d been part of at the venue – no doubt it was due to tightened security following events in Paris that was slowing things down (leaving the venue seemed to take much longer than usual, as well). It was also, as you’d expect, a pretty mixed crowd – plenty of younger fans in amongst the veterans. Continue reading…

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast Live

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of the Bewilderbeast live The Barbican

 

Badly Drawn Boy The Hour of Bewilderbeast, 15th Anniversary Tour

The Barbican, Sunday 26 July 2015

When Badly Drawn Boy released The Hour of Bewilderbeast in 2000 it was an instant masterpiece; creative, captivating and musically brilliant. It didn’t just stand the test of time as one of the best albums of the decade alongside other great debuts by The Streets, The Strokes, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes and the Arctic Monkeys, like the strongest album of the previous decade (Radiohead’s Ok Computer) and the best so far of this (Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds’ Push the Sky Away) it endures repeated listening from first note to last.

So a 15th Anniversary Tour is a welcome treat, even from a notoriously moody live performer as Damon Gough. He has played albums in full before in London. In August 2004 at the Royal Festival Hall, a not dissimilar venue, he played the whole of his then new release, One Plus One Is One. He came on stage saying how it didn’t work well the previous night, but fuck it, he was going to do it again. Like his mates the Doves, he has never seemed fully at home playing London. But eleven summers on at a sold out Barbican, full of love, this time he had no doubts, and played a wonderful, energetic set. Continue reading…

Brix & The Extricated, 100 Club, 29 May 2015

Brix Smith

As well as being steeped in jazz and blues, the 100 Club on Oxford Street also has its own special place in the annals of punk, so it was kind of fitting that tonight we would hear the music of a band that evolved from that scene. Indeed, played by the people we didn’t really expect to see performing those songs again.

Continue reading…

Nick Cave Hammersmith Apollo 2 May 2015

Nick Cave Hammersmith Apollo

Nick Cave, like a real life modern day Don Draper, can turn it on at the drop of a hat, wearing his heart on his smart sleeve while having a room in the palm of his hands with wisdom beautifully told. And he turned it on at the Hammersmith Apollo last night. Like a light bulb; like an atom bomb, to steal Cave’s own words. Continue reading…

Political Books Autumn 2014

Mark Perryman reviews the political books taking us into autumn 2014.

Unspeakable Things jacket

This autumn has been dominated already by two lots of morbid symptoms. The unseemly sight of Labour Unionism cosying up to the Tories, Lib-Dems, the financial and media establishment in defence of the ancien regime. Accompanied by UKiP’s spectacular and seemingly irresistible rise, now fracturing the Tory Right’s vote more effectively than ever, the protest vote that just won’t go away.

What possible cause for any optimism then? Because outside of the parliamentary parties’ mainstream there is a revived freshness of ideas. Two writers in particular serve to symbolise such brightness of purpose. Laurie Penny’s Unspeakable Things is the latest collection of her writing. The spiky subversiveness of Laurie’s journalism best summed up by her book’s sub-title ‘ sex, lies and revolution’. This is feminism with no apologies given, no compromises surrendered and a sharp-edged radicalism all the better for both. The Establishment by Owen Jones is every bit as much a reason for igniting readers’ optimism but also the cause of a quandary. Owen is an unrepentant Bennite, a body of ideas and activists with next to no influence in Ed Miliband’s Labour. The organised Left outside of Labour in England at any rate, borders on the non-existent. Owen is described on the book’s cover by Russell Brand no less as ‘ Our generation’s Orwell’, a bold yet fitting accolade. Yet Owen’s writing aims, like Laurie’s, at something beyond being simply a critical media voice. Quite how, is the quandary for both. Continue reading…

Arcade Fire Hyde Park 3 July 2014

Arcade Fire Hyde Park 2014

It’s been ten years since Arcade Fire’s first sprawling album, Funeral, an instant epic that still stands up now; it remains one of the very best albums of this century so far, alongside the debuts of The Streets, The Fleet Foxes, The Strokes, The Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand. Unlike many others bands though, after a decade, Arcade Fire continue at the top of their game, making great new music and producing electrifying live performances.

Their fourth album, Reflecktor, released last year, is high quality and central to their current, long, tour, the European leg of which ended last Thursday night at Hyde Park. Back in London less than four weeks after two great sets on consecutive nights at Earls Court, Arcade Fire delivered in style again. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Olympic Park 30 June 2013

Bruce Springsteen by Lilly Allen for The Substantive (portrait)

Fifteen days before a swift return to London, Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band played the whole of Darkness on the Edge of Town, the second part in a wonderful three-act performance at Wembley Stadium; it is an album he has described as having the toughest songs he had at the time, uncompromising in the spirit of the emerging punk music of the day and still what he sees as the essence of the band. London and Wembley Stadium were privileged.

With a deserved reputation for being flexible there was little doubt the headline performance at the newly opened Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for Hard Rock Calling would bring a few different songs from an amazing back-catalogue than those at Wembley and it turned out to be another album show, this time with the back-to-back tunes of Born in the USA in the middle of the set. Continue reading…



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