Fish at the Concorde 2

I seem to be reviewing a lot of, ahem, more mature acts at the moment, and Fish, at 56 with orthopedic shoes, a dodgy memory (he had lyric sheets on a music stand), and glasses he continually shoved back up the bridge of his nose as they slid sweatily down time after time, is another of those men renegotiating the faustian pact of Rock n Roll. Continue reading

On bands that aren’t quite …

Every so often you come across a band whose passion and simple joy in the act of creation render criticism of any technical deficiencies moot, whose internal coherence drives them forward as one. It’s one of those ironies of life when the band you’re sent to review really aren’t that band. Continue reading

Passenger

There comes a time in the careers of certain people when they hold the whole world in the palm of their hand – or, at least, it must seem like the whole world. Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, has just arrived at that point following the massive success of his song Let Her Go. This tune, while being nowhere near his best (as anyone who knows the 2007 album Wicked Man’s Rest will attest), has that elusive quality shared by Mr Blaunt’s You’re Beautiful: it’s a song that gets to the heart of what women want to hear. Continue reading

Brighton Acoustic Guitar Festival – The Brunswick, Hove

If we ignore the fact that it’s in Hove, and it’s arguable whether eleven acts makes a festival, we’re left with the relentless march of the ‘percussive acoustic guitar’ style, an affectation shared by each act, for better or for worse. The problem I have with players like these has been well-documented, by me, and it ought to be pointed out that two of the very best exponents of this style, the late Eric Roche and the very much alive-and-gigging Thomas Leeb were, at one point, both students of mine. I didn’t teach them anything about the acoustic guitar, but that’s another matter. But I heard them develop, and I jammed with Eric on occasion, so I do know how this stuff works, and my standards are high – impressing me ain’t easy. To be fair, I doubt many of the players here give a rat’s arse what I think but that’s another thing entirely. Continue reading

The Wasp Factory – Linbury Studio Theatre, ROH, Covent Garden

If there was one thing held in common by the throngs awaiting last night’s performance of the operatic expression of Iain Banks’ rather odd but brilliant debut The Wasp Factory, it was surely a question: what the fuck? The simple fact of the matter is that not one consciousness in that ante-chamber really had a clue about what they were about to see – even had they read a review (we hadn’t, purposely), it still wouldn’t have done much more than increase the feeling that the turning of this book into opera was, well, unlikely. Perhaps it’s as well. Continue reading

Joe Bonamassa

There’s a fundamental problem with some kinds of music. It’s to do with environment. Pop music suits clean, medium-to-large venues, classical music needs classical venues, from country house to church to concert hall, modern jazz sounds best a long way from me. Blues/rock flourishes in sweaty, smoky clubs where you can feel the music as well as hear it. What it doesn’t want is a seated audience, a big light show, drum and keyboard risers, an amp just for feedback, a different guitar for every song. Continue reading

The Duckworth Lewis Method

St George’s in Kemp Town is a funny venue – the toilets are not only outside, but down in the basement – especially for a blasphemous Irishman, but the sound isn’t as bad as it could have been, the sightlines reasonable.

The support was, er … well, let’s just say when he crossed the stage after he was done I was glad he was only going to get his drink, and not play another song.

Then, with the opening bars of Soul Limbo, it began. Continue reading

Irene Ketikidi – Martial Arts & Magic Tricks

This may seem like a rather tortuous way to go about things, but I thought this album, Martial Arts & Magic Tricks deserved some proper attention. Personally, I don’t see the point in just saying ‘awesome’ over and over, so I’m going to be hyper-critical. I do have good reason, I think. Firstly, this is the first time I’ve bought an album by a grand-student … allow to explain. Irene Ketikidi was a student of (amongst others) the rather good Martin Goulding who was a student of (amongst others) me. So I was particularly interested in what she did, how she did it, and what she sounded like. I must say on the whole I was impressed. Continue reading

Another nice review or two

Thus far, and I write this fully aware of the fact that it’s waggling something delicate in the face of fate, this has been the week of good reviews. First it was for Slender Threads, which you may also read about here, and then for Negotiating the Jacobean Printed Book. It’s a good enough feeling to know someone’s actually read your words, but when they say nice things about them too … well, it makes for a better afternoon.