Archived entries for Gigs

Leonard Cohen, Wembley Arena (9 Sept 2012)

In her first piece for The Substantive, Simone Webb reviews the return to the London stage of Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen.

Every time I set out to write this review, it sounded increasingly pretentious, as a result of my elaborate attempts both to express my feelings at last night’s Leonard Cohen concert and to mimic the style of other reviews. (You know – “pithy opening line, personal anecdote related to the artist performing, background information, etc, etc, quips, pithy closing line”. The Telegraph even managed to end their review with a truly appalling pun: “this remains a country for old Len”.) I’m not sure it’s much use my trying to do both those things at once, so I’ll stick with trying to express my feelings, and leave the puns and frills to other reviewers.

I can truly say, with no hint of exaggeration, that seeing Leonard Cohen perform at the Wembley Arena was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life so far. Continue reading…

Bruce Springsteen, Hyde Park (14 July 2012)

At a time when the superficial has become the norm, men and women of substance are like rays of sunlight streaming through dark grey clouds. Governments throughout Europe are allowed to plough on largely critically unchallenged with economic policies that exacerbate a situation they say they are trying to resolve, well-paid barristers use sarcasm as a legitimate form of defence in  high-profile criminal cases, and the masses use the word ‘LOL’ like a full-stop, a disclaimer for any serious thought. Bruce Springsteen is so charismatic and talented he would stand out like a shining beacon in any age, but against the backdrop of fluff that passes for modern life, he is like a saviour that has risen from the streets, a leader and man of the people at the same time. Continue reading…

Sparks, Bush Hall (13 June 2012)

A brisk walk from Shepherd’s Bush and down the Uxbridge Road, Bush Hall has had a bit of a renaissance over the last few years. A renovated Edwardian dance hall, it’s been host to quite a few intimate gigs by well known acts and tonight it was the turn of Sparks. Continue reading…

The Fall, The Coronet (11 May 2012)

A former theatre and cinema in that most unloved part of London, the Elephant and Castle, the Coronet has been undergoing a bit of a renaissance these last few years as a club and gig venue. Passing through metal detectors and by flustered door staff on my first visit, though, didn’t really instil much confidence in me (especially as I remembered a story from a mate of mine who swore blind that he was once robbed by a dwarf there), but I guess that air of edginess seemed fitting for an appearance by the Fall. Continue reading…

Guernica Anniversary, Filthy MacNasty’s (26 Apr)

Breaking off from his European Tour American singer-songwriter David Rovics rearranged a planned gig in Germany and flew into London to headline the Guernica 75th Anniversary Gala, as Philosophy Football and the International Brigades Memorial Trust took over Filthy MacNasty’s, off the busy Pentonville Road, for the night. Continue reading…

Orbital, Royal Albert Hall (10 April 2012)

After a hiatus of eight years, dance veterans Orbital have returned with a new album and, to dust off the cobwebs, they’ve been back on the road with a short UK tour which closed with a Tuesday night rendezvous at the Royal Albert Hall. It isn’t your usual setting for throwing some shapes, and the various punters (many of whom appeared to be, shall we say, “of a certain age”) were probably as baffled as the uniformed staff – the former more used to being mashed in a field somewhere and the latter to rather more stately affairs. However, once things got going and the lights from the stage started strobing across the balconies of this venerable auditorium, it all kind of made sense. Continue reading…

Joan Baez, Brighton Dome (26 Mar 2012)

When I walked into the Brighton Dome on Monday night to hear Joan Baez perform the last of her 21-stop tour of the UK, the first thing I noticed was a sofa on the stage. Next to the sofa was a standard lamp and a table with a bowl of daffodils on it – a familiar and homely tableau. At the front of the stage was a microphone with percussion set up to the left and a keyboard and assorted instruments ranged to the right.

What was going to happen? Was Joan Baez going to sit on the sofa and talk to us? Continue reading…

Jonathan Richman, Bush Hall W12 (29 Feb 2012)

There’s Something About Jonathan

Jonathan’s playing at Bush Hall tonight.
Jonathan’s making a party at Bush Hall tonight.
Jonathan’s bought along Tommy.
Tommy’s bought his funky drums.
Tommy’ll drum up this party at Bush Hall tonight.
Jonathan’s bought his funky guitar.
So let’s party at Bush Hall tonight.

Jonathan Richman is an artist. Like many great artists Jonathan manages to divide opinion. Some would say he creates impossible songs with improbable rhymes about the most mundane and surreal subjects. Whilst some say his music belongs in the playground. I’d say the genius of Jonathan lies in the fact that both of these statements are true. Continue reading…

Bonnie Prince Billy, Hackney Empire (25 Jan 2012)

Bonnie Birthday

Over the years BPB and I have been through a lot together. I’ve introduced good friends to Billy, some understand him, some don’t. Those that don’t are no longer good friends of mine.

Tonight’s a special night for lots of reasons: it’s Burns night, it’s my birthday, but more importantly Bonnie Prince Billy is playing the Hackney Empire. To be honest for all my Scottish roots I often struggle with Rabbie Burns. I prefer the Bonnie Prince Billy school of poetry. They both write of, amongst other things, blazing love, confusion, man’s wit, and questions about the meaning of it all. They both have an earthy approach to life and love, but Billy has great folk/country music and on his side. Continue reading…

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. (30 Dec 2011)

No Sleep ‘Til Brixton

As has become a bit of a tradition, the last-but-one night of the year saw the Windmill in Brixton taken over by Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. for a bit of party action. In the past, they’ve performed sets as Madonna and Wham!, along with a ‘Hits of the Noughties’ medley that featured covers of everyone from Beyoncé to the Flaming Lips and Rage Against The Machine. This year, with the announcement that they would be performing as The Beastie Boys (with a few “special guest star” appearances) you had a pretty good idea of what was going to be in store.

Continue reading…



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