It’s been a busy few weeks for gigs. I thought you might be interested in a summary of what I’ve seen recently.
Starting with something a bit different. A nice drop of Thomas Tallis (and a few other things) in a local church. The Sixteen are great – but I’m not sure why there were eighteen of them singing.
It seems amazing that it’s ten years since Kirsty MacColl died. This tribute concert brought together many famous names to sing Kirsty’s songs with her backing band. It was good to see that it wasn’t just old gits like Billy Bragg, Eddi Reader and Alison Moyet who wanted to play tribute to her. There were plenty of younger people like Amy MacDonald and Ellie Goulding there too. Shame Macgowan was supposed to be there but he was indisposed. No-one was surprised.
Michael Rother was one half of the German band Neu in the 1970s. Hallogallo is the name of the first track on Neu’s first album. Hallogallo 2010 is the name of a group that Rother has gathered together to play some Neu music along with other music in the same style. The style got a bit monotonous at first, but eventually monotonous turns into into hypnotic and I found myself being drawn in. I’m not sure I’d rush to see them again, but I’m glad I was there.
I’ve been listening to various combinations of the Waterson/Carthy family for decades. I’ve seen Eliza Carhy about four times this year already, but I hadn’t seen Norma Waterson for several years. They’re on tour together as they’ve just released their first album as a duo and very nice it is too. The Union Chapel was the perfect setting for this evening of two fabulous singers singing some great songs.
This was postponed from last year for reasons that I never discovered. The first half was the album Talk Talk Talk played all the way through and then after a very short break the band came back and played pretty much every other Furs song that you wanted to hear. It’s always a bit worrying seeing old bands like this as there’s a strong likelihood that they’ve lost it. But, happily, that’s not true of the Furs. They put in a great performance.
I love African music and I love Irish folk music – so what’s not to love about a band who fuse the two forms together and make irresistible dance music? This was their first time in London for something like seven years and they were very good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much dancing in the Barbican Hall. Oh and a tip to other bands – the Afrocelts were selling t-shirts for a tenner. That’s how you get me to buy one.
Another blast from the past and another “has he still got it?” moment. And he has. Rather than a band, Cole now plays with two other chaps and all three of them play acoustic guitars. This means that the old Commotions stuff needs to be drastically rearranged and some of the new versions work better than others. But I’d never seen Lloyd Cole play before and I’m glad that I have now. It made me think that maybe I should track down some gigs by Edwyn Collins or Roddy Frame.
After a few oldies, Tunng brings us right up to date. I hadn’t even heard of Tunng until a friend recommended them to me about a year ago. Now I have all of their albums and, on the evidence of this gig, I’d definitely go and see them again. I think this was the end of the tour so there was a bit of a party atmosphere going on. There was also a special guest star – former member Sam Genders joined them on stage for a few numbers. It’s a modern kind of folk music with a bit of other bits and pieces thrown in. I like it a lot.
Bringing us right up to date, last night I was at the Royal Festival Hall to see The Divine Comedy. Actually, these days that’s just Neil Hannon performing solo. It’s been over ten years since I listened to a new Divine Comedy album, but it was great to hear the songs live – mostly played on piano but occasionally on acoustic guitar. Hannon is a great entertainer and he loves to chat to the audience both between and during the songs. I’ll certainly be checking out some of his more recent work.