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)

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.
JANELLE MONAE (London Wembley Arena, 02/07/19)

Nine years ago, I attended Janelle Monae's London debut at the 300-capacity Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. This evening, she performed the 12,500-capacity Wembley Arena. And whilst this may not have been quite so intimate (or hellishly humid) as that 2010 set, she did bring on Lupita Nyong'o for juice-related reasons, and descended into the audience during the encore to get up close and personal with us mere mortals. A once-in-a-generation talent at the peak of her powers.
THE BURNING HELL (London Lexington, 30/06/19)

Whimsy, wit and bass clarinets abound from the cult Canadian indie-folksters, who did not accidentally advocate pet euthanasia on this particular occasion.
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE (London Cafe Oto, 30/06/19)

People always hype up lazy Sunday afternoons, but I'd rather spend mine watching Japanese psych-wizards face-melt everyone within a 5km radius.
JEFFREY LEWIS (London Dome, 28/06/19)

I've seen Jeff Lewis so many times in pokey little venues that witnessing him in a proper-sized room was a bit disconcerting. Great show, even though I've seen it all before.
SLOTFACE (London Electrowerkz, 25/05/19)

More top-quality Norwegian pop-punk. Much better (and sweatier!) than the weirdly subdued Barfly show two years back.
TEETH OF THE SEA (London Science Museum, 21/06/19)

 Perhaps the volume was slightly too intense at times, but TotS's live score of a new documentary about the Apollo space program was for the most part pretty masterful.
AVA LUNA (London Thousand Islands, 19/06/19)

Not sure what I was expecting from Ava Luna's live show, but a heady brew of Talking Heads, Devo and Dirty Projectors, fronted by the mesmerising Jennifer Vanilla, was not it. Art rock par excellence!
YAMANTAKA//SONIC TITAN (London Sebright Arms, 18/06/19)

One of the most inexplicably undersold gigs I've ever attended, but even if London's ungrateful citizenry weren't that hyped, YT//ST's prog-psych No-Wave odysseys certainly hit the mark for me.
LONDON VIDEOGAME ORCHESTRA (London Theatre Peckham, 15/06/19)

A bit rough round the edges, but the inaugural performance of the LVGO showed tremendous promise, and most of all, heart.
ANDREW BIRD (London Barbican, 13/06/19)

A full-band show from the Whistle-Meister General, complete with an old-timey, "around the campfire"-style encore. Fantastic, naturally.
STEREOLAB (London Shepherd's Bush Empire, 12/06/19)

Ooh la la, c'est Stereolab. It's a shame that the middle-aged audience confused the place for a bustling Parisian wine bar rather than a live musical event, but on the whole- c'est bon!
BIKINI KILL (London Brixton Academy, 11/06/19)

Not sure if the shit-faced couple shouting "BIKINI KILL WERE CRAP" on the Tube were of the same opinion, but I thought Kathleen Hanna and co. were darn good fun. I did learn though that Riot Grrl moshpits are far too intense for my ancient and decrepit frame...
HARU NEMURI (London Hoxton Bar & Kitchen, 10/06/19)

Maximal good times courtesy of J-pop, hip-hop/electro human dynamo Haru Nemuri, and DJ Flugvél og Geimskip A.K.A. "Drunk Bjork channeling Kero Kero Bonito". Haru, in particular, executed the best crowd-surf since David Yow at the first Jesus Lizard comeback concert 10 years ago - although the weeaboo-heavy audience seemed a bit non-plussed by it all.
AURORA (London Rough Trade East, 08/06/19)

Another bewitching set from Norway's most eccentric (and eco-conscious) elf-maiden.
JAMBINAI (London Garage, 06/06/19)

Their dance moves may be less slick than BTS, but I think Jambinai beat them slightly on the "epic post-rock-metal" front.
JASON LYTLE (London Bush Hall, 03/06/19)

A truly exquisite solo piano set from the Grandaddy frontman. Loved the moment where he compelled the audience to sing "the annoying melody" to A.M.180, and"He's Simple, He's Dumb, He's The Pilot" was, as ever, pure gorgeousness.
ALL POINTS EAST (London Victoria Park, 02/06/19)

In all honesty I enjoyed this more as a "bumping into loads of friends and drinking free Jagermeister" experience rather than a musical one, but KOKOKO! brought the afro-funk party and Ezra Furman's punkish new direction was a balm for the soul.
FUJIYA & MIYAGI (London Moth Club, 01/06/19)

A monumental set from the eternally under-the-radar Fujiya & Miyagi, whose sardonic motorik funk resulted in hundreds of slightly-sozzled Centrist Dads trying to dance (and in one case, crowdsurf). They even nobly tried to heal our divided nation with a song called "Gammon". Absolute heroes, one and all.
SPENCER KRUG (London Bush Hall, 29/05/19)

Not only did I chat to my Genuine Musical Hero and Deeply Intense Ivory Tinkler Spencer Krug in actual real life, but I got to hear him play a Sunset Rubdown song for the first time in almost a decade. So that was nice.
ICHIKO AOBA (London Babel Arts Cafe, 28/05/19)

Went to see this charming Japanese guitarist on a complete whim, and she proved to be an understated delight. Also: more gigs should finish by half 6.
RAW POWER FESTIVAL (London Tufnell Park Dome, 25/05/19-26/05/19)

Day One: face-melting Japanese psych, Geordie feminist punk, brutal Norwegian experimental rock, Australian hellscapes-rendered-into-sound, London noise-rock, Mancunian scuzz-pop and the Dutch being Dutch.

Day Two: Drum-Robot-manufacturing Warlords from Lincoln, hypnotic ritualistic psych from Tokyo, baroque drones from London-via-Lyon, electro-drum-screamcore from Bristol, expert drumming from Porto and general ear-splitting madness from whatever far-out dimension Makoto Kawabata comes from. Same time next year I guess!
SUN RA ARKESTRA (London Union Chapel, 24/05/19)

Transported to a higher realm once more by everyone's favourite jazz wizards. Glad to report Marshall Allen remains a sprightly, irrepressible presence, despite this show being a celebration of his 95th (!) year upon this Terrestrial plane.
DISTANT WORLDS (London Royal Albert Hall, 17/05/19)

RIKKI performing "Suteki Da Ne"! A second half dedicated to Final Fantasy VII! If it wasn't for the fact that VIII was brutally ghosted, this would have been a classic even by Distant Worlds standards.
ERLAND COOPER (London Milton Court, 16/05/19)

A gently lovely performance from the eccentric Scot, doubling up as a pretty effective ad for the Orkney Tourist Board.
ROBERT FORSTER (London Union Chapel, 14/05/19)

Australian musical royalty in session down Islington way. To be honest, I found it rather singularly paced, but can't deny the man's songwriting talent.
KOENJI HYAKKEI (London Lexington, 12/05/19)

Now I've seen this Magma-inspired Japanese sextet, every Sunday evening that doesn't end with a delirious 70 minute burst of noise-jazz-prog-rock-opera seems pretty drab in comparison.
THE ESSEX GREEN (London Redon, 10/05/19)

The Elephant 6-adjacent indie-poppers don't come over to these shores that often, but their classic 60's-style tuneage was received with well-deserved enthusiasm.
PHILIP GLASS - THE BOWIE SYMPHONIES (London Royal Festival Hall 09/05/19)

The third movement based on 'Lodger' was "difficult", to put it euphemistically, but Philip Glass' reinvention of 'Low' and 'Heroes' proved a majestic fusion of undulating arpeggios and the unalloyed genius of the late, great Davie Jones.
LEWSBURG (London Shacklewell Arms, 08/05/19)

Pleasant enough Velvet Underground wannabes.
CRACK CLOUD (London Old Cholmeley Boys Club, 08/05/19)

Crack Cloud are the band that make me feel how Idles are supposed to make me feel. Hyper-kinetic straight-edge post-punk that's like a shot of pure adrenaline.