wed 28/02/2024

New Music Reviews

Martha Wainwright sings Piaf, Barbican

Robert Sandall

Martha Wainwright’s decision to perform and record a selection of songs by the late Edith Piaf is a bold, not to say high-risk strategy that made for a fascinating one-off concert at the Barbican last night.

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Staff Benda Bilili, Barbican

Thomas H Green

The stage of the Barbican is alive with black dudes in wheelchairs going bonkers. It's an extraordinary spectacle. To rocketing afro-funk, backed by a drum-kit of boxes and bells, Staff Benda Bilili's frontmen are rolling their chairs back and forth. Two of them face each other and perform loosely synchronized hand dances, another wearing an ecstatic grin clambers out of his wheelchair.

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Nneka, ULU

howard Male Nneka: 'pop stardom beckons whether she likes it or not'

Many hip-hop artists go on about “respect” ad nauseam, but perhaps you need to be outside the Western consumerist bubble before such language can be turned from mere solipsistic hot air into a heartfelt plea on behalf of a continent. May I point you in the direction of a YouTube clip in which a surprisingly camera-shy Nneka shares a Nigerian proverb with the interviewer: “One day the bushmeat go catch the hunter,” she says in pidgin English. In other words, one day the prey of the hunter...

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Singles and Downloads

Thomas H Green Slagsmalsklubben: seven inches of Scandanavian synth heaven

Slagsmalsklubben, Sponsored By Destiny (Zarcorp)

When white 7" singles drop though my letter box with commercially suicidal band names, they're usually from artists just starting their career, boutique vinyl being cannily collectable in our MP3 age. Slagsmalsklubben, however, which means The Fight Club in their native tongue, are a six-piece...

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Fleetwood Mac, Wembley Arena

joe Muggs

The first signs were good. I've been to a lot of shows by “heritage bands” in my time, but I don't think I've ever seen a crowd for a band of Fleetwood Mac's vintage that had such a relatively even age distribution. Sure, it was weighted towards the greying end of the scale, but every age group down to teens – including teens there in groups under their own steam, not just with parents – was well represented, right across class boundaries too.

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Bellows, Komedia, Brighton

Thomas H Green

The exploratory outer edges of jazz have been rich and fecund in recent years. Among other things, bands such as MoHa and The Thing have pushed jazz into avant-garde noise and heavy rock, wild-haired drummer Seb Rochford has come up with project after project that fascinates far outside the jazz community and even Radiohead have been accused of dabbling. It's in this area that Bellows reside, musical territory that doesn't yet fall under strict genre categorization but touches on post-rock,...

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The xx, Village Underground, Shoreditch

joe Muggs

Browsing through various past reviews of The xx, two adjectives which occur time and again are “fragile” and “tentative”. These are wrong – but understandable.

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Matthew Herbert, British Council 75th anniversary concert, Barbican

Robert Sandall Matthew Herbert, band leader extraordinaire

Before Matthew Herbert’s triumphantly anarchic appearance in the second half, stiflingly good taste ruled at last night’s concert at the Barbican. Middle-aged suits were out in force to celebrate the British Council’s 75th anniversary and a comfortable faith in liberal values permeated the hall, and the bill.

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McAlmont & Nyman, Union Chapel

Robert Sandall

It’s taken David McAlmont over 15 years to find the right outlet for his remarkable voice and songs but, fingers crossed, it looks as if he's finally done it. In prospect, McAlmont's collaboration with Michael Nyman and his band, which received its first public airing last night at the Union Chapel, seems rather random. What, you might well ask, has a man with the vocal chops of a soul legend such as Curtis Mayfield got to say to a minimalist composer and soundtrack specialist with a gift...

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Nyman McAlmont, Union Chapel

Robert Sandall

It’s taken David McAlmont over 15 years to find the right outlet for his remarkable voice and songs but, fingers crossed, it looks as if he's finally done it. In prospect, McAlmont's collaboration with Michael Nyman and his band, which received its first public airing last night at the Union Chapel, seems rather random. What, you might well ask, has a man with the vocal chops of a soul legend such as Curtis Mayfield got to say to a minimalist composer and soundtrack specialist with a gift for...

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