I have decided that the Roundhouse, whilst a spectacular place for a concert, is just not that brilliant for viewing. Half the Wilco set crushed up the front ,half behind the mixing desk meant a disjointed show, viewing wise, as you lose all the atmosphere up at the back. This was however a great set that comfortably covered the band’s history with a massive chunk of the new record.

We went as far back as ‘Shouldn't Be Ashamed’  from AM and all points leading up to The Whole Love. It’ did seem to me a bit low key but that could have been because I was waiting for the current dynamic version of Via Chicago, which didn’t arrive until the next night. My Recent Wilco gigs have also been at festivals and also seemed to be more urgent. As I reflect  on set list however I think I’ll be enjoying the ipod playlist over the next couple of months.



Where to start, numerous Ryan shows under my belt already and this is the second London show for me this year, following the Barbican gig in June.  I have seen Ryan play over the years in many different forms, with band, solo, playing with other bands. Focussed, unfocussed, sullen, happy, quiet, chatty, but throughout all of that, there are the songs and their delivery which remains for me spine tingling every time out. 

At the moment we have the cool, focussed, amiable Ryan. Fine new album just released (Ashes and Fire) and a back catalogue to make even more seasoned veterans weep.


Anyway back to the start. A healthy queue outside the venue early on as, a venue official  wanders down the line shouting, no recording no video no pictures,. even on phones etc etc etc. The Union chapel is a jouous church for a concert and being there ‘early doors’, pretty much guarantees a decent pew.


Chris Stills (Stephen’s son) provided a strong set to start and is well worth checking out on record and live. As you would expect (being in the genes) a good guitarist and interesting songs.

The biggest concert of their ten year three album, steadily rising career. The gig was pretty much sold out. Three bands on the bill, we kicked off with Bear’s Den. Created by Former Cherbourg front man Andrew Davie, they had a really nice sound, a mixture of Mumford’s, Admiral Fallow and Fanfarlo. Keep an eye out for them.


Scanners, were a more straight forward rock band. Potential for sure particularly with the lead singer. Sarah Daly.The band have apparently  had songs featured  in American TV shows, 'Gossip Girl' , ‘Entourage’, ‘90210’, and ‘One Tree Hill’  A career in the ascendancy but, they never really connected with the Shepherds Bush crowd last night.


Boxer Rebellion were a joyous experience, nice to see a ninety minute set rather than a festival and, very nice to seen them headlining such a prestigious venue. Slight tentativeness at the start, but they soon settled as you would expect, with such strong songs in their armoury.

First things first, water £2.70 a bottle (rip off) Richmond Fontaine T Shirt £10 (bargain!) and beer is the usual £4 plus. 

It was a predominantly male audience (more so than your average gig) - much to Laura Gibson’s horror, when she remembered that her T-shirts on the merchandise stall were covered in bunnies. Not that she really needed to worry as she had all the big butch guys (with sensitive hearts) eating out of her hand and singing along by the end of her set. Doubt she sold many T-shirts though.


Laura Gibson is a fine Americana / folk talent. Distinctive songs and vocals, and possessing a cute shyness, like Laura Marling way back when. This Laura delivered a lovely set of original songs plus Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night? (Perhaps to tie in with the current Nirvana over-hype machine which is on the roll) but a good gravelly version, none the less. Some nice home spun tales as well.

Tom McRae came out quietly, bashfully, didn't speak, didn't introduce himself but launched straight into the haunting 'You Cut her hair' - chills ran down my spine and the hair stood up on the back of my neck and arms, goose pimples everywhere. The deep tone of the Cello went right through my belly and the violins and viola that accompanied the song, seemed to cling on to his very word.  

The Papiersaal is an old paper mill situated in the heart of Zürich in Sihlcity. Done up beautifully inside, the acoustics suited the quartet and McRae's acoustic guitar.
McRae likes Zurich, having played in the Electric Plant in Selnau on his last trip, this visit to another vamped up old part of town, seems to suit him. He also is proud of the String Quartet that accompanies him and he introduced us to them, gradually throughout the show.  

The lone Josh T. was supported by The Tenebrous Liar & Rich Warren, The latter also being the drummer in the former.

Richard Warren had a brooding presence, much like the entire atmosphere of the night. Some raw blues tunes acoustic and electric. New album out 17th October, Wayfarer, with a stripped down mix free with Bucketfull of Brains Great start.

The Tenebrous Liar, are a three piece down the Post Rock route band, indeed close to a ‘Fall’ type Post Rock band. Just a type of band you would expect at Birmingham’s Supersonic festival, with a wall of sound, single pitched vocals and a dark attitude. Interesting evening. 

I love a man who can shake his Maraccas and the lead singer ( Alex Maas)  from The Black Angels does, he also gets the tambourine out from time to time. The Black Angels don't say much and when they do, you can't understand a word they mumble. Don't expect any audience participation from these blokes but the sound from them is hypnotising and even quite sexy to say the least. 

At the Plaza, last night in Zurich the five piece band looked a little cramped on stage and even though the sound wasn't great, you got a feel for what I have seen described as 'Psychedelic Rock'. Very reminiscent of Black Rebel Motor Club but less laboured. I just love that deep grungy/echoey deep guitar and I think some of their riffs are probably a little lighter than B.R.M.C. 

A steamy Friday night in London and the return of Gary Louris and Mark Olson  as the Jayhawks along with Karen Grotberg, Tim O’Reagen and Marc Perlman. 

Marc Olson and Ingunn Ringvold filled the support slot, the latter mainly on a large bongo drum and vocals and Marc alternating between an acoustic guitar and something resembling  a sitar lap steel guitar. 

I can’t say I recognised any of the songs but the harmonies where great and in a smaller venue it could have been quite a intimate affair.


The Jayhawks were on stage at 8.45pm and pretty much straight into Wichita followed

by a ninety minute set filled with, classics from ‘Tomorrow the Green Grass’ and ‘Hollywood Town Hall’ ( except Crowded in the Wings).


The harmonies remain unblemished and for a band that were at the forefront of the modern day Americana movement the set and performance did not disappoint. This was however their fifth show in five nights on the UK tour and perhaps ‘workmanlike’ is a good description.


It was the classics that were greeted like long lost friends, 'Blue', 'Nevada California', 'Over my Shoulder', 'Two Angels',. O’Reagan took the lead with his composition 'Tampa to Tulsa' during the encore as well.


The most ‘Jayhawk friendly (harmony wise) new songs like 'She Walks In So Many Ways' were interspersed amongst the set. There was some head nodding and hand clapping in the first couple of rows otherwise people seem to be soaking up the long lost tunes along with the heat for the duration of the evening.


One comment that came from the punters outside the venue was, the band going off at 10.15. Probably the venue wanting to get some extra cash in from a club night?, but it’s a bit disappointing on a Friday.




Keith Jarrett’s standards trio played to a packed Royal Festival Hall last night (27 July) Made up of Jarrett (on Steinway) bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, this was a evening of intensely beautiful music played by true masters of their craft. 

Again, we find ourselves experiencing a concert far from the norm (for us) but with an affection for the ECM label back in the Seventies I just felt inclined to try, a live high profile live jazz recital at last.


A very respectful audience saw the trio arrive on stage at 7.40 pm take a deep bow, play fifty minutes of sublime music, 'St. Louis Blues', 'In Your Own Sweet Way', 'Sandu', & 'What Now My Love', and retire for a break. The second half included 'Yesterdays', followed by' When will the Blues Leave'  with added drum magic.Four encores followed as the trio left and rejoined the stage that many times.


At the end of the gig I did wonder if this was the path for an aging concert goer. Comfortable seat, no earplugs required, early start, early finish, no rush to get the last train. A few years down the road I think but with a combined aged on stage of around 200 I guess, this was certainly an evening for the musical connoisseur.


The sound balance levels and tone were pitch perfect throughout, rather like an ECM vinyl recording. Jarrett’s playing was actually quite stunning, fingers flowing across the piano or, bent low over the instrument picking out the most delicate notes that would even make an angel weep. 

On the weekend that we lost a magnificent musical voice, it was reassuring, nay, reaffirming to see Irma Thomas performing in London last night for the first time (she said) in over twenty years. Her first single ‘(You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess with My Man’ was released in 1960, and her voice was as magnificent last night over ninety minutes as I am sure it was in her earlier career.  

Delighted to be on stage, with a wicked sense of humour and more than happy to take requests, however obscure, she sang what she “could remember” and she could remember a lot! On occasion she just sang the vocal as the band didn’t even know the song, something a few artist would not go near attempting.


Dubbed the ‘Soul Queen of New Orleans’ her heart obviously belongs to that city and the most stunning moment of the night came with a vocal and keyboard cover of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Shelter from the Rain’, which was so intense your mind drifted to not only New Orleans but also the other  tragic events of this weekend.


‘Time is on My Side’ and countless greats were sung and lapped up by an adoring audience. A special show.



The tiny Junction 2 venue in Cambridge must hold around 200-300 people and ‘hats off’ to Athlete for sticking with that venue after the show sold out and not moving to the bigger Junction venue.   


A rather fine,’ The Robot Heart’ commenced proceedings. A four piece with gentle delicate songs not unlike an early Athlete themselves in some respects.  


The show itself was, the hits stripped back, which was delightful. We got the standouts from all the records plus more. Vehicles & Animals, El Salvador, Tourist, Wires and a full electric Rubik's Cube to round up the set almost 2 hours later.  


Carey Willetts, Bass Stephen Roberts drums and Tim Wanstall, keyboards and omnichord all seemed to be having a great time and in the end Joel said that “it was great to be part of something different”  


Like an old jumper you have not worn for years and when you try it on again, it fits. That's how the evening felt, perhaps, a band whose records are seldom played, back to remind us how good the songs actually are! Hats off indeed.







The light dimmed just after 8pm and the wedged Shepherds Bush Empire responded as one as the band walked onto the stage. Labelled an acoustic (first) set, the band kicked off with 'Remedy' and for the next 75 minutes stormed the Empire.


This first set was like some band’s entire concert and with more intensity. The band shifted between acoustic and electric as the set progressed. ‘She talks to Angels’ and ‘My Morning’ finishing the set were sublime, indeed these were so electric that I thought the band was playing straight through!


 A short break then it’s back plugged in and blazing, ‘Jealous Again’, ‘Oh Josephine’, ‘Hard to Handle’ (after which I had to leave for the train L ) were stunning. Yes, the band excels at the ‘jam’ moments, and there were plenty of them, but always kept tight and entertaining.

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