wed 22/05/2024

New Music Reviews

Ed Harcourt, Wilton's Music Hall

Adam Sweeting Multi-layered songwriter Ed Harcourt gives it some Heathcliff

If the audience at Wilton's charmingly archaic music hall were feeling depressed by the bleak comedy of the England "performance" against Algeria, a whirl around the musical block in the company of Ed Harcourt was the perfect antidote. Critics feel compelled to categorise everything, and Harcourt has been compared to all and sundry, from Brian Wilson to Harry Nilsson to Tom Waits. But...

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Steve Winwood: English Soul, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Almost like an inverted echo of Stevie Wonder over in Detroit, Little Stevie Winwood was a Brummie teen prodigy who scored an early dose of stardom with the Spencer Davis Group at age 15. Raved over for his amazing soulful vocals and effortless instrumental skills, he went on to form Traffic before joining “supergroup” Blind Faith with Eric Clapton.

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The Duckworth Lewis Method, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Bruce Dessau

There cannot be many famous rock songs that mention cricket. Roy Harper's poetic "When an Old Cricketer Leaves the Crease" springs immediately to mind. And 10cc's "Dreadlock Holiday". And then the trail goes fairly cold. Until 2009, when The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Tommy Walsh of Pugwash collaborated on their inspired Duckworth Lewis Method concept album.

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BeauSoleil, Queen Elizabeth Hall

David Cheal Custodians of Cajun culture: BeauSoleil

Our story begins in the early 1970s, when a young fiddler from Louisiana named Michael Doucet was making rock music. Then one day he heard a song by Fairport Convention: “Cajun Woman” (from the band’s Unhalfbricking album). He was shocked and delighted that an English group should be taking an interest in a strand of music that seemed to be fading into obscurity. In a sort of Proustian moment, he inhaled the fragrance of “Cajun Woman”, his interest in the music of his native region was...

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Willie Nelson & Family, The Playhouse, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson

A few years ago I wrote a book about Willie Nelson. Keith Richards supplied the introduction – a Kafkaesque saga which deserves a book in itself - during which he opined that Willie had a severe case of “white line fever”. This (for once) had nothing to do with exotic Peruvian powders and everything to do with the odd compulsion that keeps a man in his late seventies on the road for nine months of each year, rattling around the world in a bus while his wife and kids make hay in Hawaii.

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The Miserable Rich, St Giles in the Fields

Russ Coffey

If you thought Chamber Pop was dead, think again. The Divine Comedy are back with a new album, Rufus Wainwright is playing Meltdown, and The Leisure Society are gradually building up a cabinet of awards.

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The Unthanks, Union Chapel

Russ Coffey

Geordies love music. From Brian Johnson’s cap to Jimmy Nail’s crocodile shoes, they have melody in their blood. And they love a good story. All of which makes it little wonder that North-Eastern sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank are able to mine such a deep seam of Northumbrian folk music. What’s more remarkable is how they sing material so traditional, in accents so broad, and still sound so contemporary. It makes them different; it’s possibly what makes them so loved.

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Lady Gaga, O2 Arena

David Cheal

If the power-generating companies in the London area noticed a sudden surge in electricity consumption late on Sunday afternoon, I think I can explain why: many thousands of hair-straighteners and other beautifying devices were doubtless being put to use in the run-up to Lady Gaga’s show at the O2 Arena, the first of two nights in London.

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Hindi Zahra, Jazz Café

howard Male Hindi Zahra – world music or not world music? That is the question

I’m not sure what it says about a songwriter when they simply call a song “Music", but the half French, half Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra is a bit of an enigma all round. Critics have already compared the 30-year-old to Billie Holiday and Madeleine Peyroux, presumably because of her phrasing, timbre and a certain fragility in her voice. But her debut album is neither easy listening or jazz. In fact, it’s got more in common with the woozy, trip-hoppy work of Martina Topley Bird, or even the lo-fi...

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Paul Weller, Royal Albert Hall

David Cheal

When I last saw Paul Weller at the Royal Albert Hall he was becalmed in the doldrums of his career – between the demise of the Style Council and the release of his “wake up and smell the coffee” album, Stanley Road. On stage, Weller was a sheepish figure who only sporadically sparked with enthusiasm for his music; it wasn’t much fun.

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