Archived entries for Music

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 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…

Hard Rock Calling Kasabian Weller The Twang

The Olympic Park opened as music venue on Saturday 29 June 2013 as the new host for the Hard Rock Calling Festival in London, with the first day full of guitar based acts including Kasabian, Paul Weller, The Twang and The View.

For all the written words, radio documentaries and television seasons about ignored and neglected communities there is one tribe who still seem to have been treated as invisible for years: the British indie music fan. With original independent music hijacked as a vehicle for bland, middle-of-the-road music marketed to masses of bed-wetters there has been little both original and sensational in the indie bucket in UK in the last ten years, with the exception of the Arctic Monkeys; so, it is no surprise that when The Stone Roses return they are celebrated like a literal resurrection and that even the Saturday at Hard Rock Calling 2013 is pounced upon like a rubber bone thrown in the direction of a starving dog.

There is no Arctic Monkeys, who headlined Glastonbury the previous night, but instead four stages of decent enough music with a number of acts who all have elements of a passionate following. It was far from a sell-out and there were many tickets given away free by organizers who wanted both a spectacle and a captive audience for their £5 pints but  many were there primarily for the bands.

The day attracts lots of people who want to believe in the music, many of whom, throughout the day, spend much of their time turning away from the stage to intently sing the lyrics to the person they are with; they range in ages, from the young who weren’t around in the early nineties, to those who probably not only bought Style Council records on release, but now have haircuts for which their faces look slightly too old. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen Wembley Stadium 15 Jun 2013

Bruce Springsteen, Wembley Stadium, 15 June 2013

When Bruce says he is going to do “something special”, he means it. On his last visit to London earlier on this worldwide mammoth tour, which has now been rolling since March last year and will continue to Rio this September, he gave us an unexpected and majestic stripped down Thunder Road to Roy Bittan’s accompaniment. On Saturday at Wembley Stadium, once again he told his London audience he wanted to do something special, and he did, with a staggering set bestowed with gifts for his fans.

By the time he left the stage, after playing for approximately three hours and twenty minutes without a break, he was like a father consoling his upset children seeing their hero depart after giving them one of the great parties of their life so far, telling them in a soft voice that he’d be back in a couple of weeks. Continue reading…

The Stone Roses, Finsbury Park (8 Jun 2013)

The Stone Roses

The Stone Roses are more than a band. They are movement. Their music, their attitude and their style has made them a badge of identity for many of us around a certain age. The thick end of their thin catalogue has continued to inspire on repeated listens over twenty-plus years, bringing to life dancefloors on indie nights, empowering listeners on headphones on public transport and through speakers behind closed doors. Continue reading…

Neon Neon, Village Underground (6 Jun 2013)

Neon Neon, Village Undergound

Continually inventive with two biographical electro-pop albums, Neon Neon have now taken the live music experience to another plane with their touring performance of Praxis Makes Perfect which celebrates and inspires through popular culture, while still getting the basics spot-on, by letting us all have a good dance to a brilliant sound.

Their third consecutive night at the Village Underground in Shoreditch was more much Performance Art than a run-of-the-mill Thursday night gig in London; an indication of what was to come came in an online invitation asking ticket-holders to wear an item of red and bring a copy of a favourite book to exchange with fellow gig-goes, referred to as “comrades”, ahead of the prompt 8pm start. And “comrades” seemed appropriate as once inside the atmosphere was both electric and unifying. Continue reading…



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