wed 20/06/2018

New Music Reviews

Malcolm Middleton, Hanbury Club, Brighton

thomas H Green

"Welcome to the second night of my depressing acoustic tour," said Malcolm Middleton by way of introducing his set. The statement plays on his well-established reputation for miserabilism. Later on he asked the audience, "Enjoying yourselves?" to which a smattering of "yeahs" could be heard. "Then I'm not doing my job properly," deadpanned Middleton.

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Lisa Hannigan, RFH

russ Coffey

Charm. Lisa Hannigan has it in bucketfuls. An unusual charm, like her unique take on her self-styled “plink plonk rock”. Something homely, warm and very unshowbiz. Whereas her American counterparts might lose themselves in fad diets and obscure activism, Hannigan knits and writes blogs on her favourite recipes. She shouldn’t be a pop star at all. One might be tempted to describe her as being “girl next door”, except nobody really lives next door to anyone this cute and talented.

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Trouble Tune: Bass Clef, Geiom, London Improvisers Orchestra

joe Muggs Kamal Joory aka dubstep outsider Geiom

There are occasional days when the Royal Festival Hall really feels like the people's palace it was always meant to be – and yesterday, with its free concert of live improvisation mixed with dubstep and electronica in the RFH bar, was absolutely one of them. Rave kids, pensioners, parents with babes in arms and some particularly energetic school-age children all proved that given the right context music the border between “challenging” music and entertainment is...

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Esperanza Spalding, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Watching some jazz musicians play live, you're made acutely aware of the intense effort that goes into their performance. Conveying a non-verbal message that roughly translates as “this shit is really hard, you know”, tell-tale signs include the pained rictus of deep concentration, the sotto voce grunts, groans and exhalations, and the self-communing, head-down-to-the-floor mode adopted for solos of five minutes or longer.

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Gwilym Simcock, Queen Elizabeth Hall

peter Quinn

Melodically rich, harmonically daring, rhythmically subtle, pianist Gwilym Simcock's quartet piece, “Longing To Be”, which kicked off last night's Queen Elizabeth Hall gig was one of the most jaw-dropping performances I've heard at this year's London Jazz Festival.

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Transglobal Underground, Richmix

howard Male Transglobal Underground - natty dressers one and all

Why aren’t more bands like Transglobal Underground? This is not a fatuous question. After all, we live in a joyously multicultural society so one would expect more ethnic influences would have seeped into the mainstream by now.  But no, apart from some African guitar riffs adding a veneer of ethnicity to the occasional white college-boy rock group, and some bangra beats spicing up the odd dancefloor hit, the UK and US pop scene seem on the whole to remain hermetically sealed against such...

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Gilberto Gil, RFH

peter Culshaw Gilberto Gil: his massive back catalogue is the soundtrack to millions' lives

The last time I saw Gilberto Gil play he was performing high-energy reggae with an electric band. Last night, though, it was an autumnal, acoustic trio full of ...

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Ian Shaw, Pizza Express Jazz Club

peter Quinn

As acts of musical funambulism go, a solo gig by a jazz singer ranks pretty high in the fearless stakes. Listening to Ian Shaw in the intimate surroundings of Pizza Express Jazz Club, without the safety net of bass or drums, you suddenly remember how thrilling it can be to hear songs that have long been absorbed into your consciousness being recast entirely anew.

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Carla Bley and the Lost Chords, QEH

Anonymous (not Verified) Understated beauty: Carla Bley

Slender limbs, intense eyes, and dressed entirely in black: if it wasn’t for the straightened blonde hair, Carla Bley could pass for a jazz Patti Smith. She is also, of course, one of the genre’s most acclaimed composer-arrangers, and her return to London is much anticipated. Before she plays a note, the septuagenarian Californian walks awkwardly, defiantly, to a microphone at the front of the stage.

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Natalie Merchant, Conway Hall

Robert Sandall

As a curtain raiser for the most ambitious album of her career to date, Natalie Merchant’s concert last night at London’s Conway Hall was an entertaining but strangely low-key affair. Merchant has spent the past six years recording dozens of songs based on poems themed around childhood, 28 of which she plans to release on two CDs early next year.

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