Author: Imelda

Live: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers @ BST Hyde Park, London

British Summer Time at Hyde Park reached it crescendo with the ‘double header’ of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers and special guest Steve Nicks on the final Sunday of the event. The Heartbreakers, once regular visitors in the 70s and 80s, appearing in the UK for only the third time in twenty years. Starting the evening sets on the Great Oak Stage, at an ear bleeding volume, is LA guitar band The Shelters.  A trio of classic rockabillies front the stage, taunting the crowd, “Are you ready to rock ‘n’ roll?”  For such a rowdy offer they play surprisingly sophisticated but jangly...

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Live: The Hives, Gogol Bordello & Green Day @ BST Hyde Park, London

Celebrating its fifth year British Summer Time Festival (BST) is designed as a showcase of live music grouped by genre into day long programmes throughout July.  Kicking off the season was Phil Collins and Blondie, representing retro-pop.  To come is classic rock and Americana from Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and contemporary pop with headliner Justin Beiber, as well as contemporary rock with The Killers and classic indie with The Pixies and Kings of Leon. By the time The Hives arrive on stage the festival is in full swing.  Crowds are already pushed up against the barrier to the...

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VISION: CAGE THE ELEPHANT, WHOLE WIDE WORLD

Cage The Elephant reveal a taster of their new Unpeeled album with a video for Whole Wide World. The live performance video gives fans an idea of what to expect on the band’s upcoming first ‘unplugged’ show in the UK. The Grammy Award-winning act will be playing an unusually intimate show in London in July, with a stripped down arrangement, including a string quartet. Unpeeled will be avaiable from 28 July via RCA Records. The new album was recorded live across various US cities. It features 21 tracks, mostly reworkings of previously recorded songs, plus three cover versions, including...

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All Quiet Now: Leonard Cohen.

In September 2013, I was thrilled to see Leonard Cohen live for the first time. I’ve been listening to him since I was a teenager and there have been many times over the years when I’ve turned with gratitude and curiosity to the dark chill and surprise twists of his songs. Sinking into his world of beguiling, damning and humorous stories, was both an escape and an instructive reflection on conflictingly beautiful and unpleasant angles of the human psyche. Much of what I read about the man himself made him sound part mythological. When I finally witnessed one of...

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Interview: Michael Franti, Power To The Peaceful.

Michael Franti walks into the backstage area of London’s Heaven venue with a broad smile on his face and gives me a huge hug. I’m not sure he even realises I’m here to do the interview yet, he just seems genuinely happy to meet everyone. It’s gratifying when, as now, an artist’s on-stage persona and message so exactly match how they are when you sit down and chat to them. Michael’s life-affirming music has long been drenched in political and social comment, but with an increasingly positive and unifying theme over the years. His ninth and latest album, SoulRocker,...

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Live: Michael Franti @ Heaven, London.

Michael Franti returns with his uplifting, positive and political message, this time ostensibly as an acoustic duo tour, with guitarist J. Bowman. However, if you expected to be in for a quiet, mellow time of it, watch out – tonight’s show was one of the rowdiest, most rave-like, festival-vibe gigs I’ve been to. It’s time to dance… and to hug your neighbour. Franti, whose music stretches effortlessly across rootsy folk, reggae, hip hop, pop, soul and rock, has brought us various incarnations of his vision of peace and unity over the years. From the sharp observations and protests of...

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Live: Nina Hagen @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London.

Nina Hagen hasn’t played in the UK for a full 14 years, apparently, so there is tangible anticipation amongst the crowd tonight for this rarely seen and curious artist. Trying to pinpoint Nina Hagen’s role and legacy in the musical vista, on this, her 45th anniversary tour, is something of a conundrum. Descriptions of Nina span the spectrum from the whispered reverence devoted to the iconic Godmother of Punk, to opera singer with a spiritual message, to teenage actress turned controversially opinionated cult celebrity. Whether it’s her startling fashion style or her musical talent, her genre-traversing career or her...

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Cage The Elephant Interview: From Bowling Green to Nashville via Leyton.

Cage The Elephant returned to London for an explosive show at The Forum, in support of their latest album Tell Me I’m Pretty. Having transplanted to London for a spell at the start of their career, playing to a packed venue in the city with songs from their fourth album, could be viewed as a rewardingly full circle. Before the show, the brothers Shultz – singer Matt and guitarist Brad – sat down with me (Imelda Michalczyk) and chatted about songwriting, where they find inspiration and the indelible impression England’s capital city made on them. I understand you lived...

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Live Review: Cage The Elephant @ The Forum

I last saw Cage The Elephant stampede through a London venue in 2011. That time it was at The Garage. My lingering memory of this monstrously energetic show is that of singer Matt Shultz’s frenetic, wild abandon in crowd-surfing, at one point returning to the stage missing one shoe. A small sacrifice to the gods of stage-diving, perhaps, but the symbolism of merging with a crowd, and leaving changed in some way, has stuck with me. Five years later and the Kentucky-originating, genre-defying, rock-garage-punk-alt-pop band are playing a packed out show at The Forum. Originally planned for west London’s...

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Live: Squeeze @ O2 Indigo London.

Squeeze at O2 Indigo in London It’s hard to believe that the latest Squeeze album is the band’s first new work in 17 years. Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford – the songwriting powerhouse of Squeeze – have, of course, done their fair share of writing, recording and touring with other projects in the intervening time. However, I’ve caught them live a number of times in the last couple of decades and they’ve pulled off several wonderfully entertaining and varied shows. Have they really just been in permanent reunion status all this time? Was it all just too much fun...

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Live: PJ Harvey & Seamus Murphy. The Hollow Of The Hand.

PJ Harvey & Seamus Murphy – The Hollow Of The Hand The last time I saw PJ Harvey was through a one way window at Somerset House that allowed visitors to watch and listen to the recording of her new album. It was an unusual and intriguing introduction to her new album in its infant phase. Eight months later, at the Royal Festival Hall, she allowed us to witness the next stage of the new material’s evolution with a two night performance of The Hollow Of The Hand. This time it was a stripped down recital of ten songs...

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Live: The Monkees @ The Apollo

The 1960s music/TV phenomenon is back in town. Now reduced to just two members – Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork – The Monkees are introduced by a series of video clips on a huge screen overhanging the stage of the Apollo. Opening up with Last Train To Clarksville, the pair and their five-strong backing band kick off with a winning first gambit for their audience of still loyal fans. Dolenz and Tork clown around and engage in charming and self-depreciating banter right from the start. It’s a relief that they’re as much fun now and in ‘real life’ as...

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Interview: Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets. Change Is Coming.

The Last Poets have been railing against American politics and discrimination since their emergence from the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Proving the pen is mightier than the sword, they have inspired for decades with their fearless poetry set to hypnotic beats and are frequently credited as the forefathers of hip hop. Their recent gig, at Jazz Cafe, included a showcase of the group’s collaborative project with new, young London-based poets (for the Apples and Snakes: Speak Up Newcomers Tour), highlighting both their relevance to and interest in the next generation of spoken word artists. Before the show,...

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Live: Rosanne Cash @ Union Chapel

I first heard Rosanne Cash years ago, on a video recording of a show from sometime in the 1990s, featuring Cash with country/folk peers Nanci Griffith and Mary Chapin Carpenter. The three songwriters were sitting around in a semi-circle, each with a guitar, a microphone and a stash of songs that veered between the heartbreaking and the hilarious. No backing band, no light show, just pure voices and strange stories. Tonight was the first time I’d attended one of Cash’s shows and she proved that her voice, playing and songs now have even more extraordinary power to enchant. If...

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Live: L7 @ Electric Ballroom.

Camden’s Electric Ballroom was the venue for L7’s triumphant return to London. With shows at Download festival and Glasgow already under their belts (the latter being their only other UK headline gig), the Californian four-piece grunge punk pioneers hit the stage in London to a raucous reception. Having disappeared from the scene in 2001, it’s been a long wait to see Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner, Jennifer Finch and Dee Plakas back on stage and, indeed, for much of the audience it was their first L7 gig, having been too young to catch them the first time around. The band...

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Live: The Replacements @ Roundhouse

The Replacements took to the stage at London’s Roundhouse for the first of two reunion shows – their first UK performances in more than two decades. The band were in fine form, kicking things off with the Ramones-inspired surf-rocker Takin’ A Ride then segueing into such classics as Waitress In The Sky, Kiss Me On The Bus (substituting ‘bus’ for ‘tube’ in true London reverence) and Color Me Impressed. Featuring original members Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson, and including new members Dave Minahan (guitar) and Josh Freese (drums), the band managed to rock without sounding too polished and maintained...

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Interview: Chuck Ragan. No Regrets.

Chuck Ragan is backstage at Scala, preparing for his headline London show touring the Till Midnight album with his current band The Camaraderie. He’s a week or so into his latest European tour and, before the doors open, he takes the time to talk about a life without regrets – fishing as meditation, scoring video games as a path to concept albums, Hot Water Music’s next tentative move and the desire to breathe life back into the mighty Revival Tour. How has the tour been going so far? We kicked off in Dublin and it was loads of fun....

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Interview: Austin Lucas. Shared Catharsis.

Austin Lucas has traversed the worlds of punk, metal, folk and country. His dark lyrics, sweet vocal tones and acoustic, rootsy sound combine to raise audiences to rebellious rowdiness…or enthrall them into complete adoring silence. You just can’t predict what an evening in the musical company of this engaging troubadour will bring. After a month in Europe on tour, he still arrives perfectly on time with ample energy to chat before his London gig at The Boston Music Rooms. He speaks enthusiastically about the importance of respect for others when you find yourself in a foreign place, the possibility...

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Live: Mariachi El Bronx @ Brooklyn Bowl

It’s St Valentine’s Day and London is awash with people looking for appropriate ways to either publicly display their passion or, alternatively, to reject the commercial love circus in a defiant act of single status celebration. I may just have found the perfect band to provide an all encompassing evening’s entertainment for this opinion splitting day. You’re on a date? Perfect, this music is subtly romantic and there’s no sane way to resist swaying happily to it and finding yourself smiling involuntarily at the person next you. Single and avoiding the imposed hearts and flowers theme? Equally ideal –...

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Live: The Waterboys @ Roundhouse

I’m not sure I can remember the last time I saw a band open with not one, not two, but three consecutive songs taken from an album released just a couple of weeks before. What might be deemed a fatally optimistic move for some bands, manages to work for Mike Scott and crew. The band’s latest rollicking, folk-strewn rock and roll material sweeps the audience out to the high seas inhabited by The Waterboys and contained, for a night, by the Roundhouse. Opening track Destinies Entwined is followed by Still A Freak, with the laid back murmur of November...

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LIve: Chrissie Hynde @ Koko

Chrissie Hynde takes to the stage of London’s Koko to bring us a pre-Christmas blast of old hits and new songs, from her first solo album, Stockholm. Strikingly, she has retained the look, demeanor and attitude that has characterised her position at the helm of the The Pretenders since the late 1970s. But more striking still is the distinctive and recognisable voice that rings out on tracks including Kid, Don’t Get Me Wrong and Talk Of The Town. There’s a fair number of new tracks rolled out tonight, such as Sweet Nuthin’, Dark Sunglasses and You Or No One...

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Live: The Specials @ The Roundhouse

The Roundhouse is heaving with those ready to skank. It’s the first of three nights that The Specials are playing at London’s venerable circular venue, as part of the band’s ongoing reunion tour. The surprising opener is the cool chill of Ghost Town, their number one hit single from 1981. With a set comprised of familiar songs, perhaps the best way to keep people guessing is to introduce one of the most prized possessions upfront, before everyone has even got their drinks from the bar? Early on in the set, we are treated to Friday Night/Saturday Morning, Stereotype and...

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Interview: Difford & Tilbrook. Squeezing In The Hits.

Squeeze frontmen Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook are mid-way through their retrospective acoustic tour of song and conversation entitled The At Odds Couple. Masters of the quintessential British pop song, their 40 year friendship and songwriting partnership may have featured rifts as well as riffs, but as they take to the road as a duo and prepare to write new material, they appear to have reached a stage of harmony and reflection. Tonight will be their second sold out show at Union Chapel in north London and Chris and Glenn have just finished their soundcheck. Sitting in the venue’s...

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LIve: Difford & Tilbrook @ Union Chapel.

Two rock stars tumble out of bed, before finding themselves a cup of tea and gazing around at a packed room of spectators. Not something you often witness in a church and no ordinary start to a gig. Tonight, however, Union Chapel hosts a rare treat of Squeeze frontmen, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, staging an evening of songs and conversation entitled The At Odds Couple Tour. An elaborate stage set depicts a bedroom from the 1970s, strewn with guitars and mannequins and engulfed in highly patterned wall paper. The set references their emergence in that decade’s New Wave...

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Interview: Mick Rock. Shooting Stars

Mick Rock has already done six interviews today and is about to start packing for a morning flight out of London. One of the biggest names in music photography in the last four decades, Rock is on a whirlwind media tour to support a newly published paperback collection of his work entitled Exposed. Will he be too exhausted or jaded for one more walk through his staggering back catalogue of music photography tales? Thankfully not, it transpires. Instead, I’m treated to a close up on Syd Barrett’s first album shoot, a wide angle on Lou Reed’s puppy obsession, a...

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Live: Patti Smith @ Union Chapel

The ground underfoot is dark, dank woodland and there are strange, other-worldly sounds whirling through the air, that may be ominous or might be soothing. This is the setting created by a huge video screen overhead and five musicians on one side of the stage. Leading the performance is Patti Smith, on the other side of the stage. Dressed casually in jeans and a dark jacket, her wild grey hair free around her shoulders, she still strongly conveys much of the look of her iconic punk priestess self of earlier times. However, tonight is a chance to hear her...

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Live: Nerina Pallot @ Union Chapel

During the summer months this year, Nerina Pallot’s first two albums held a significant space in the musical landscape of my car, having discovered that they are perfect ‘windows down, driving along the motorway, singing your heart out’ music. During these moments of transportation reverie, it’s often struck me how Nerina seems a natural musical descendent of one of my very favourite singers, Kate Bush. It’s not the British female singer/songwriter tag, nor the piano-playing, nor the high notes, but something in her unusual delivery, something in the distinctly feminine strength of her lyrical labyrinth, something not quite describable but...

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Live Review: Joan Baez @ Royal Festival Hall.

Joan Baez saunters alone onto the stage of the Royal Festival Hall, sits at the microphone and strikes up with Handsome Molly, a song with the opening line ‘Well, I wish I was in London..’. If that’s not savvy song selection, I don’t know what is. This legend of folk music hardly needs to sweeten her audience, however, who are rapt from the moment she arrives all the way to the end of a nearly two hour set. Baez has no new record to push – the last studio album being Day After Tomorrow released in 2008 – but...

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Live Review: The Ghost Of A Saber Tooth Tiger @ Dingwalls

The Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger is waiting to hit the stage, as the appointed showtime of 9pm begins to slip by. Someone, somewhere, is struggling to set up the projected graphics that will swirl behind the band throughout the night. Whilst a technician begins to sweat, GOASTT use the shadows they are accidentally throwing onto the troublesome screen, (from backstage) to dance for and tease the waiting crowd. There’s something in the playfulness of this informal introduction between band and audience that sets up the atmosphere for the evening and runs throughout the night. When they finally...

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Review: Nick Cave: Chasing The Myth @ Proud Galleries.

Proud Camden launched its latest exhibition entitled Nick Cave: Chasing The Myth on 2 September. With Cave’s hotly anticipated documentary 20,000 Days On Earth due to hit UK cinemas in a couple of weeks, the gallery’s look back at portraits spanning his career is a timely move. This collaborative exhibition features work by Amelia Troubridge, David Arnoff, Andrew Whitton, Steve Double, David Corio and Viliam Hrubovcak. Images of a youthful, almost playful Cave and his early band The Birthday Party are juxtaposed with later portraits of a more serious and intense artist at work, whilst the most recent photos...

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