Author: Imelda

Live Review: Dar Williams @ Bush Hall.

The elegant Bush Hall venue in west London is adorned with red velvet curtains and glistening chandeliers, an ornately carved ceiling overhead and a soft carpet underfoot. So, what would it take to dwarf such grandeur? The answer, it transpires, is the songs and stories of US songstress Dar Williams. She walks on stage alone, with a big smile and a guitar, and from the moment her first chords ring through the venue, we are whisked away on a trip down weird and wonderful pathways. We visit the tumultuous landscape of the Pacific north west one moment, the world...

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Live Review: Me First And The Gimme Gimmes

“This one’s a cover…”, drawls singer Spike Slawson in a serious tone as he looks out across a packed theatre and introduces the next song. This makes me laugh each time he says it – which is often, tonight – since Me First And The Gimme Gimmes is nothing but a covers band. It’s always a treat to watch Me First, a ‘super group’ drawn largely from punk bands on the Californian label Fat Wreck Chords. It’s also something of an unknown quantity – for with each member having to take time off from at least one other ‘day...

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Interview: Sarah Jarosz – Lone Star in London.

It’s Sarah Jarosz’s last day in London. She doesn’t seem at all tour-weary as she meets me in the cafe of her hotel for a chat. The Texan singer songwriter has just completed a run of concerts as part of the Transatlantic Sessions, alongside established country/folk acts such as Shawn Colvin, Darrell Scott and Tim O’Brien. Before packing her bags and heading home to the US, Sarah’s decided to hang back in the capital for a couple of days and play two solo shows at Camden’s Green Note – yesterday and tonight. She may still be something of new...

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Live Review: Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls @ O2.

Early on in tonight’s show, Frank Turner stops and takes a moment to consider the obstacles that the universe has thrown in our collective path in getting to this, his first headline show at London’s mammoth 02 Arena. He cites the current phenomenal storms lashing and flooding the UK. He points to the city’s tube strike, which was called off only just in time for fans to get to the gig unimpeded by transport chaos. Lastly, he reels with amazement that everyone has actually ventured to a venue that is south of the river. Geographical divide jokes aside, both...

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Live: Sarah Jarosz at Green Note.

Sarah Jarosz has just completed a stint on the Transatlantic Sessions tour, sharing the stage with high profile names of the folk/country scene including Shawn Colvin and Tim O’Brien. The artists performed in prestigious venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, on the south bank of the Thames. Tonight, however, she’s crossed to the other side of the river for a solo show and vaulted the spectrum of venues from concert hall to tiny bar, courtesy of the Green Note in north London’s Camden Town writes Imelda Michalczyk. This is the second of two shows at the venue, which...

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Review: 50 Years Of The Who. Colin Jones.

Musical history drips off the walls here in Camden. On my way to Proud Galleries, which is tucked neatly into the famous Stables market, I know that all around me there are any number of struggling artists fervently paying their dues in the basements and bars of the area. I also stroll past hundreds of people queuing in the rain for an impromptu club gig by megastar Prince at the local Electric Ballroom. A weighty juxtaposition – but one that this particular hub of north London shrugs and carries lightly as if to say: “This is Camden Town. What...

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Live: Steven Malkmus & The Jicks @ The Forum.

Stephen Malkmus casually saunters on stage at The Forum with his three piece band. Despite the apparently low key entrance, the stage set up has been very specifically and slightly oddly laid out. Stephen is placed way off to the left, his keyboard/guitarist is almost falling off the front edge of the stage to the right, his bassist stands centre stage but far back and his drummer languishes on a strange diagonal angle. Is this a test? I don’t know, but it reflects what will be an enjoyably quirky vibe to the whole evening. Imelda Michalczyk went along to...

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Interview: Martin Stephenson. A Wholly Humble Heart.

Martin Stephenson has very much forged his own path – from 1980s major label pop credibility to conceptual musician working with a wide spectrum of artists. His consistent touring and extensive recording history has secured him an avid loyal following. Martin brought his band The Daintees back to London for a show at The Borderline on 17 December 2013. Early in the evening, after soundcheck, he sat down with me to talk about music as medicine, grappling with record companies, channelling songs from the universe and getting pulled into line by Patti Smith’s guitarist. Interview and photographs by Imelda...

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Interview: Billy Bragg & Frank Turner. Shelter From The Storm.

Two powerful voices in protest music took to the London streets on 17 December for a lunchtime busk in aid of homeless charity Shelter. Billy Bragg and Frank Turner share a few things in common – a punk past, a guitar almost constantly slung over their shoulder and a bucketful of rousing, self-penned songs. The fit seems perfect for a pre-Christmas singalong to help raise money and awareness for a very worthwhile cause in a two-part fundraiser, with the free busk followed by a gig at Wilton’s Music Hall the next night. Just before the busking session, Billy and...

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Live Review: Billy Bragg @ The Royal Festival Hall.

Billy Bragg has deep ties with the South Bank Centre, London’s sprawling concrete riverside arts complex, which houses the Royal Festival Hall. Imelda Michalczyk photographs and reviews. The ‘Bard of Barking’, as he is sometimes affectionately referred to, organises an infrequent late summer Big Busk here, encouraging Londoners to bring guitars and assorted instruments for an afternoon singalong, which is tremendous fun. More recently, Bragg has faced controversy with his positive stance on the redevelopment of the site, one aspect of which will involve moving a cult-status skate park. However, none of this is discussed during tonight’s performance in...

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Interview: Gary Lucas. Grace, Gods and Golem.

Gary Lucas is back in the UK, more than 30 years after first landing here from the US to tour with Captain Beefheart. He’s travelled the world in the intervening years, writing songs and playing guitar with a plethora of both legendary and obscure artists. This time around he’s here to promote his first book, ‘Touched By Grace’, an account of his time working with the late Jeff Buckley, in what claims to be the first publication about the singer authored by someone who actually knew him. The day before Gary’s first UK tour date, he sat down with...

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Photography: Simple Minds @ KOKO. Virgin 40th.

Simple Minds played a special show at London’s Koko as part of a string of gigs marking the 40th anniversary of Virgin Records. With the band playing the capital’s vast O2 Arena at the end of the month, this was a relatively intimate show and a special treat for fans. Imelda Michalczyk photographed the band. Simple Minds played a two set concert with no support. They threw in early hit single ‘Waterfront’ as the second song in the setlist, highlighting how many familiar tunes they were to play over the course of the night.  Their very early albums for...

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Interview: The Selecter – Back On Your Radio.

The Selecter was an integral part of the original 2 Tone scene in the UK with hits such as Too Much Pressure and On My Radio. With a major tour coming up in early 2014 and a new album just out, the band took to the road for a few dates supporting Public Image Limited. On the final night of the tour, at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the band’s dynamic singers Pauline Black and Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson sat down with me for a chat before the show. Pauline made me a cup of tea and the two iconic figures...

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Live Review: Public Image Limited @ Shepherds Bush.

Shepherd’s Bush Empire is packed out with fans young and old on this Monday night as Public Image Limited take to the stage. Opening with ‘Deeper Water’, the band stampede through a set that includes the classic ‘This Is Not A Love Song’ (thrown in early), ‘Warrior’ and ‘The Body’. John Lydon is captivating yet comfortable in his role as frontman, singing from a lectern as though almost conducting the entire event as though both band and audience were his orchestra. Between songs, there’s the expected arch humour. At one point he sneers out at the crowd and yells...

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Interview: Joseph Arthur. The Ballad of Joseph Arthur.

Discovered by Peter Gabriel in the 1990s, Joseph Arthur’s musical pilgrimage since has seen him release ten albums, form ‘supergroups’ with high profile musicians, have his work covered by virtual household names such as Michael Stipe (REM) and Chris Martin (Coldplay) and be nominated for a Grammy. On a rainy night in north London, Joseph played a special, intimate show in an unusual church setting. Between soundcheck and showtime, Joseph took a break to talk with me about his latest album ‘The Ballad of Boogie Christ’, muse on the material dangers of creativity and let me in on some...

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