Sunday, November 03, 2019

BABA ZULA (London Jazz Cafe, 02/11/19)



Colourful Turkish psych that sadly failed to pierce the oppressive chatter of a Saturday night Camden audience.
PATTI SMITH (London Westminster Methodist Hall, 02/11/19)


Kinda wish I loved anything as much as Patti Smith loves ITV3 detective dramas (the most passionate moment of her Q&A was her raving about 'Vera'). Obviously, hearing her perform an acoustic 'Because The Night' was pretty cool too.
CAROLINE POLACHEK (London Hoxton Hall, 30/10/19)



Seen her in Chairlift, and as Ramona Lisa, and tonight under her own name, and every time Caroline Polachek has proved herself to be one of the singular alternative pop artists of our time. Electric atmosphere, killer new songs, clever visuals, a cover of The Corrs' 'Breathless'...good times all round.
KYUNGSO PARK & SB CIRCLE (London Purcell Room, 29/10/19)



A gayageum-tastic evening of Korean music, although I must admit Hey String's more experimental works held more appeal than the expertly performed, but slightly MOR, jazz of the headliners.
SWORDFISHTROMBONES REVISITED (London Barbican, 28/10/19)



Glad I got a last-minute ticket for this - it took a few songs to hit its stride, but obvious care had been taken to put together a band that would do Tom Waits justice, and all the vocalists acquitted themselves marvellously (particularly Nadine Shah who properly got into the spirit of things, and Dorian Wood, whose phenomenal star turn on Down, Down, Down got the biggest cheer of the night). Much better than the largely underwhelming Rain Dogs tribute in 2011.
WHY? (London Islington Assembly Hall, 26/10/19)



Always forget what a top-tier live band WHY? are - 21 songs in 75 minutes, several Q&A interludes, Josiah Wolf's phenomenal drumming and the best rendition of The Vowels Pt 2 I've ever heard. A Top 10 of the year contender for sure, and that's with them only playing two songs off "Alopecia"!
A TRIBUTE TO SUSUMU YOKOTA (London Union Chapel, 26/10/19)



An eclectic and imaginative selection of tributes to the late Japanese ambient composer- George Crowley took the ‘experimental looped sax’ angle, ISAN’s were pretty faithful to the original material (in the best possible way), The Imperfect Orchestra’s had the most ambition instrumentally and Seaming To’s electronics/Wurlitzer/vocal mix was the most charming. Was a nice touch that Susumu’s sister was in attendance too.
BATTLES (London EartH, 25/10/19)



Not entirely convinced by the two-man set-up, and it disappointingly fizzled out at the end thanks to tech issues, but if nothing else, John Stanier remains an absolute f'in machine.
WEYES BLOOD (London Rough Trade East, 25/10/19)



A dreamy solo show from Karen Carpenter reborn, who is surely destined to become one of the defining vocalists of our generation.
ANNA MEREDITH (London Somerset House, 24/10/19)



A real treat to witness a preview of the maximalist musical mad scientist's latest album- a bit rough round the edges, as you'd expect from the first performance of material this complex, but impressive nonetheless.
HOLY FUCK (London Moth Club, 23/10/19)



Time to party like it's 2008 with the Loveliest, Allen-iest electro-percussive-indie-rockers around, who remain an unassailable, unmissable force of nature all these years on.
CHARLOTTE ADIGERY (London Oslo, 22/10/19)



An immensely fun 40 minute set from the quirky Belgian-Caribbean electropop up-and-comer. She'll be playing venues ten times the size of this soon enough.
FUTURE DAYS (Birmingham The Crossing, 20/10/19)


Went to Brum to see some bands, and can report it was bloody brilliant. Apart from Jane Weaver, whose Sadier-esque dream-pop didn't really seem to fit, every act on the line-up knocked it out of the park, from the "Metric meets MBV" noise-pop of the Claque, to Black Country New Road's post-everything epics, to Flamingods' Bahrani psych odysseys, to Bo-Ningen's unabased noisemongering to the stronking dance party of The Comet Is Coming. Best line-up of the year, for sure.
CRAIG FINN AND THE UPTOWN CONTROLLERS (London Oslo, 17/10/19 and Rough Trade East, 18/10/19)



Old Steady Craig may increasingly look like the lovechild of Mark Francois and Timmy Mallett, but the dude sure knows how to front a band. The Uptown Controllers may be a little more sophisticated than The Hold Steady with their clarinets and flutes, but at heart, they're still masters at no-nonsense, hook-filled songwriting.
MELT-BANANA (London Dingwalls, 16/10/19)



Well, who needs hearing anyway?
FUJI YUKI (London Cafe Oto, 15/10/19)



Beautifully ethereal looped vocals, part Julianna Barwick, part Grouper, part Midori Takada. She's touring with her husband and baby, and I must admit I was slightly disappointed the kid didn't lay down 30 minutes of uncompromising drone.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE (London 100 Club, 06/10/19)

Another Sunday evening praying at the altar of the Acid Mothers Temple. Possibly the heaviest I've ever seen them, which is saying something - if I could live in a piece of music, "Pink Lady Lemonade" would surely be a contender.
KANDA BONGO MAN (London Rich Mix, 05/10/19)



West Ken Kwassa Kwassa courtesy of the Congolese soukous legend.
JAMBINAI (London Purcell Rooms, 03/10/19)



My 6th time experiencing the South Korean post-rock/metallers and probably the best? "ONDA" and "Connection" both sounded positively apocalyptic with the pimped-up six-piece setup.
STARS (London Scala,30/09/19)



The 15th anniversary of 'Set Yourself On Fire'. The 3rd time I've seen the joyously heart-on-sleeve Canadians at the Scala. The 100th gig I've attended in 2019. What an album, what a show, what a band!
SAY SUE ME (London Lexington, 29/09/19) 



Far and away the best set I've seen from the fuzz-laden shoegazers from South Korea. They've grown so much as a band these last 3 years...
MARIKA HACKMAN (London Islington Assembly Hall, 26/09/19)



Not *quite* sure if I was the target demographic for this, but had a good time regardless- so many people were pogo-ing during "Boyfriend" I feared for the structural integrity of the building.
SARATHY KORWAR (London Moth Club, 25/09/19)



Tonight I witnessed two versions of Britain: one exemplified by the phenomenonal Sarathy Korwar, whose exuberant, politically-charged melting pot of jazz, spoken word, noise and bhangra brought together a diverse audience with the sheer joy of music; the other by a corpulent jizz-sodden haystack seeping corruption, dog-whistle racism and corrosive privilege from every pore, stumbling through life (and wives, some of whom he personally married) under the severe misapprehension that a passable knowledge of Ancient Greek is an adequate substitute for basic human decency. I know which I prefer.
SASAMI (London Moth Club, 24/09/19)




A rawer, more energetic performance than you might have expected from her rather more restrained recordings. Then again, she did used to be in Cherry Glazerr...
MÚM (London Union Chapel, 21/09/19)



Glitchy Icelandic loveliness at Union Chapel. Not quite as classic as the 2007 Scala gig with its 20-piece ensemble, but a close second for sure.
OPERATORS (London Sebright Arms, 19/09/19)



70 minutes of electro-percussive bangers, a tribute to late cultural critic Mark Fisher, top crisps banter, an unexpected airing of my favourite Handsome Furs song (Serve The People), hugs from Dan Boeckner, and the company of friends old and new. An A+ sorta evening.
LHASA (London Barbican, 17/09/19)



A gorgeous tribute to the late Mexican-American musician Lhasa de Sela, featuring Feist, Andrew Barr (The Barr Brothers), Bryce Dessner (The National), Mélissa Laveaux, Ariel Engle (La Force/Broken Social Scene), Dustin O'Halloran (A Winged Victory For The Sullen), Emma Broughton, Todd Dahlhoff, Pauline DeLassus (Mina Tindle), Clarice Jensen, Alexi Murdoch and Joel Shearer. Wasn't familiar with her work beforehand, but this was a persuasive argument to rectify that.
ALTIN GUN (London XOYO, 11/09/19)



Super-fun disco-infused Anatolian psychedelia straight from 1976. Şiddetle tavsiye edilir!
THE FLAMING LIPS (London Brixton Academy, 07/09/19)



Wayne Coyne might be the neediest man on the planet, but that didn't unduly undermine the fact I finally got to hear The Flaming Lips play "The Soft Bulletin" in full. "Waitin' For A Superman" and "Suddenly Everything Has Changed" were particularly welcome reminders that under the confetti, balloons and inflatable genocidal pink robots, they're a pretty decent band at heart.
SERPENTWITHFEET (London EartH, 03/09/19)



An immense, soulful and unique talent, but perhaps one best enjoyed in less suffocatingly humid environs.
DEERHOOF (London EartH, 02/09/19)



The venue may have been warmer than the centre of the Sun, but watching Greg Saunier flail around his drum kit like a malfunctioning robot remains one of the great pleasures in life.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

BAT FOR LASHES (London Rough Trade East, 22/08/19)

Natasha Khan's first show in 3 years. Controversially, her music has never really clicked with me, and tonight didn't do much to convert me, but there's no denying that voice.
EELS (London Hammersmith Apollo, 21/08/19)



Goddamn right, it's a beautiful day - mostly thanks to yet another killer set from Mr E, Chet, Big Al and Little Joe. Enjoyed last year's take on the double-denim theme, but tonight was much more polished - stellar showmanship, general hilarity and most of all, 2 solid hours of beautiful blues.
ELEPHANT GYM (London Oslo, 19/08/19)



Maximal math-rockosity from the fantastic Taiwanese three-piece. Frontlady KT Chang's next-level bass playing owes as much to jazz-funk as it does their genre-mates, and she's sharply hilarious to boot. Well worth checking out!
J MACFARLANE'S REALITY GUEST (London Islington, 14/08/19)



Minimalist Young Marble Giant vibes from the Australian trio.
NOV3L (London Old Blue Last, 13/08/19)



Glad I finally caught the Crack Cloud offshoot, even if I forgot the immutable law that requires all gigs at OBL to run 45 minutes late, and then be ruined by hordes of chattering Shoreditch wankers.
MOLLY (London Social, 07/08/19)



Explosionen am Himmel with the Austrian post-rockers, who make one hell of a racket given there's just the two of them. Thrilling stuff.
THUNDERCAT (London Royal Festival Hall, 04/08/19)



There''s no doubting Stephen Lee Bruner's lightning-fast bass chops - phenomenal by anyone's standards - but the Festival Hall's subdued atmosphere and a surplus of aimless noodling meant this thundercat mostly failed to strike.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

MERAKI PERFORMING ISAAC HAYES (London Jazz Cafe, 27/07/19)



A competent run through "Hot Buttered Soul", albeit without the stentorian soulfuness of the real deal.
IDIOTAPE (London Oslo, 25/07/19)



What better way to spend the hottest day of the year than watching a Korean EDM trio smash their way through a cover of "Sabotage"? A bit of a one-trick-pony, but that trick's sure good for an endorphin rush...
HYPNOCULTE (Colmar Parc du Natala, 20/07/19)



Concluded a trip to France in the only way possible: watching a Swiss drum-n'-double-bass duo in the middle of the Alsatian countryside. Tres motorik!
RONNIE LAWS (London Jazz Cafe, 12/07/19)



Classic, smooth-as-hell jazz-funk from the former Earth, Wind and Fire saxman.
RATTLE (London Cafe Oto, 11/07/19)

Double-drum-tastic!
LIMINAL (London Hyde Park, 09/07/19)



Pretentious, sure, but lying in the grass whilst being serenaded by Jonsi and a choir ain't the worst way to spend a summer's evening...
RICEBOY SLEEPS (London Barbican, 08/07/19)



Delicate, serene ambience from Jonsi and Alex. Probably a little too delicate, serene and ambient for someone who was as tired as I was, but at least I had the novelty of using Pop-Rocks to enhance the atmosphere.
ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER (Greenwich Turning Tides Festival, 07/07/19)



Not as memorable as the previous day, but the ex-Fiery Furnaces' frontwoman remains a distinctive, reliably compelling solo performer.
MULATU ASTATKE (Greenwich Turning Tides Festival, 06/07/19)



The father of Ethiopian jazz Mulatu Astatke, the genre-defying genius of Sudan Archives and the powerhouse post-punk/jazz/funk energy of Melt Yourself Down, in North Greenwich, for free. What an evening!
MACEO PARKER (London Roundhouse, 05/07/19)



A pleasure to see James Brown/Funkadelic/Prince sideman Maceo Parker in action, despite a rude an inattentive audience and less-than-perfect sound.
TAFFY (London Dalston Victoria, 04/07/19)



Solidly enjoyable Britpop/shoegaze sounds from the Japanese four-piece, featuring the cheeriest drummer ever.
MAPS (London Purcell Room, 03/07/19)



A welcome return from the low-key English electronic musician, who I last saw perform during the Bush administration.