tue 25/06/2024

New Music Reviews

The South Bank Show, ITV1

Adam Sweeting

They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and despite its sometimes erratic quality control, the loss of The South Bank Show (ITV1) is going to be like having a leg sawn off TV's arts coverage.

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FaltyDL, Plastic People

joe Muggs

Club music has always been a mongrel creation.  By definition, DJ-driven music – assuming the DJ is any good – is about combination, recombination and juxtaposition.  But even allowing for all that, we are currently going through an uncommonly fecund time in the clubs as disparate fringe innovations of the last decade collide and combine.

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Michael Ball, Royal Albert Hall

Edward Seckerson

“If you feel like singing along... don’t.” Michael Ball knows his audience – I mean, really knows his audience - and only he could turn a rebuke into a well-timed gag. About that audience: the age range is a good half-century but at its heart are the hardcore Ballites, the mums and grandmums who adopted the fresh, smiley, dimple-faced, leading juvenile 25 years ago and have been on his tail ever since.

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Martin Simpson, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Russ Coffey

Folk singers travel well. And it’s often as ex-pats that they best appreciate their own culture. Martin Simpson, born in Scunthorpe, lived the life of a professional English folkie for 15 years before relocating to America. Although working the clubs as a bluesman he never lost his keen ear for his own roots music.

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theartsdesk at Bestival 2009

Thomas H Green

Bestival was the first festival to embrace fancy dress and, five years into its career, still does it best. This year the theme was "Out of Space" and with the weather delivering gorgeous Indian summer sunshine, a welcome contrast to Bestival 2008’s deluge of wind-blown sleet, a contagious carnival of intergalactic characters extended across the site.

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Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Orchestra, Purcell Room

howard Male

OK, let’s start with a bit of icon-bashing. In some circles, to say that a current Afrobeat band might actually be better than what the originator of the style, Fela Kuti, produced in the 1970s, would be as outrageous and absurd as proclaiming that the Ruttles were better than the Beatles. Fela Kuti is untouchable and beyond criticism, just as John Lennon and Bob Marley are. But Fela’s mythological status  is fed by an incongruous mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.

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Thank You for the Music, Hyde Park

Veronica Lee

What an absolute joy. Two and a half hours of Abba songs performed by a (mostly) stellar line-up with Kylie Minogue topping the bill, and the songwriting duo Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus appearing on stage to take the tumultuous applause of a 35,000 crowd gathered in Hyde Park in London. Only the surprise appearance of their erstwhile musical and marital partners Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog could have turned this memorable evening into a perfect one.

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The 2009 Mercury Music Prize: And the winner is...

Robert Sandall Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy

Speech Debelle – and she for one is not surprised. In a feisty speech accepting her nomination for the £20,000 prize, given annually to the best British album of the year, the 25-year-old rapper from South London warned the other 11 acts on the shortlist ahead of last night’s judgment that she planned “to take this one home”. By 10.20 last night the panel of judges agreed that she should, making Debelle the third female solo artist to win the Mercury in this century, following PJ Harvey in 2001...

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Pastels-Tenniscoats, Bush Hall

joe Muggs

Artists who are naturally awkward in their own skin can go in a number of directions. Many, including a good number of The Pastels' 1980s “C86” indie contemporaries, are content to simply be musically awkward, shambolic and ultimately rather pathetic and self-defeating. Others like, say, Talking Heads' David Byrne, charged with hyperactivity, take their awkwardness to the Nth degree and used it as a drive towards diverse creative explorations.

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Proms 70 and 71: Sir Peter Maxwell Davies

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

What exactly is the point of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies? I don't ask this with any malice or hostility, just in a tone of inquiry. It is a question that I think his new Violin Concerto, Fiddler on the Shore, raises. That is, is Davies still here to shock and annoy, or to assuage? The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Davies's baton presented the British premiere of the work last night, with Daniel Hope as the soloist, in the first of two proms that...

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