Sparky and the Misfits, Columbia Road, East London

It’s a sunny day in lockdown-London, and several people are out for a walk on Columbia Road in East London in search of coffee and a snack and to stretch their legs. Though the arts and crafts shops are closed, and there has been no Sunday-flower market for months, there are enough cafes to keep…

Sparky and the Misfits, Columbia Road, East London

It’s a few days before Christmas 2020 – the loneliest year of my life and now also the loneliest Christmas of my life. Not being able to travel to spend the holidays with family and New Year’s Eve with friends has hit home, and I spend my days in a haze of long walks, working…

The Felice Brothers, Islington Assembly Hall

This is North London. But tonight, it might as well be the Catskills in Upstate New York from which the two original members of The Felice Brothers, James and Ian, originate. After a string of different lineups over the years, the latest band members, Jesske Humme on bass and Will Lawrence on drums, join the two…

Brothers Moving, The Islington

It’s hot in the tiny backroom of this Islington pub conveniently called The Islington. We’re around 50-60 people in here at tonight’s sold-out concert. It’s cold outside, bitterly so. But in here, there’s warmth and no sign of bitterness. This gig is a party that could just as well take place on a summery beach…

Patrick Wolf, St Pancras Old Church

Patrick Wolf is a sick man. Braving the flu and a fever sweating through his pores, it’s a wonder he’s even here tonight. Employees have called in sick for less. But here he is, intent on getting on with the show – after all, as he says, the only gig he has ever called off…

Easy Life, Rough Trade East

It’s time for another Rough Trade East gig – a 1 pm lunchtime gig (‘the earliest Easy Life gig ever’) with quirky Leicester five-piece Easy Life, then a signing of their album, Junk Food.  They are playing again this evening so they could take the easy way out and treat this afternoon show as a rehearsal for…

Fontaines D.C., Rough Trade East

I’m late for the party. But then again, I don’t follow the latest bands as much as I once did. But sometimes, word gets through about a ‘new sensation’ or upcoming potential legend in the making. I’d seen the name Fontaines D.C. here and there but hadn’t paid attention until I saw they were doing one of…

Inhaler and Apre, Dingwalls

Tonight’s concert with Inhaler and Apre at Dingwalls is sold out, and there’s a long queue waiting to get in. As I get into the venue, expectant fans are already occupying the first few rows in front of the stage, but there’s plenty of room on the side on a raised platform, which is perfect for short people like…

Ezra Furman and Shilpa Ray, Bowery Ballroom

When I travel, I always look for a possible concert, so I was happy to see that Ezra Furman was playing Bowery Ballroom while visiting New York. Tonight’s support artist, Shilpa Ray and her band are great. Ray has been a fixture on the New York/East Coast scene for a few years now and has worked with Nick Cave,…

Graham Nash, Alexandra Palace Theatre

In its most unobstructed and picturesque glory, Alexandra Palace sits on the top of a hill overlooking London. We sit on the grass and chat before the concert, which sets the mood perfectly for a show that presents itself as An Intimate Evening of Songs and Stories.  We sit near the front, and it just so…

Stevie Wonder, Hyde Park BST

After Lionel Richie leaves the stage, I make sure to leave the immediate area where the ‘picnic crowd’ had gathered. Now, all there is to do is wait for Stevie Wonder. And wait, we do – first, the approximately 45 minutes between Richie’s and Wonder’s sets. Then an additional 30 minutes before Wonder enters the stage to…

Lionel Richie, Hyde Park BST

I arrive at Hyde Park about halfway through today’s stream of concerts. I catch some of Corinne Bailey Ray’s gig and Lianne La Havas. Both are undoubtedly great, but neither quite have the repertoire of songs that captivate me. Also, I have other things on my mind, finding a spot. Many people are sitting and…

Mavis Staples, Roundhouse

I’ve wanted to see Mavis Staples for a while, and I missed her the last time she was in London, playing the Union Chapel, so tonight is a significant moment in my ‘career’ as a concert-goer. Arriving early and taking a spot at the front, I meet a guy from Switzerland, who comes to London regularly for…

Conversations With Nick Cave, The Barbican

The Barbican hall is filling up with this evening’s crowd. About twenty people have already taken their seats on the actual stage, sitting behind the centrally placed grand piano. I don’t know if these were special tickets or friends of Nick Cave, but the setting adds a more intimate feeling to the concert, which I guess…

Sons of an Illustrious Father, Village Underground

In the middle of a Shoreditch-side street, connecting to busier main roads at each end, it’s perhaps appropriate that Sons of an Illustrious Father play this evening’s gig. A bit under the radar (though one of the members, Ezra Miller, is a world-famous actor), to be found off the main drag, where the disenfranchised outsiders gather. OK,…

Erland Cooper, Rough Trade East

Erland Cooper plays songs from his new album, Sule Skerry, for this evening’s free promotional gig at Rough Trade East. The songs on his first solo album, Solan Goose, was themed around birds from his homeland, the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland. Sule Skerry is a continuation of that, but this time not about birds but the sea and…

Better Oblivion Community Center, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

When arriving inside the Shepherd’s Bush Empire venue for tonight’s concert with Better Oblivion Community Center, the first thing I notice are two small screens on both sides of the stage. At first, a white screen, then a hand starts drawing on a piece of paper, and over the next few minutes, a face begins to…

Rufus Wainwright, Royal Albert Hall

What’s left to say about Rufus Wainwright? The American-Canadian musical wunderkind, destined to have a career as a troubadour. ‘Always travelling, but not in love.’ He sings about heartbreaks and headaches, forever bemoaning he never became a proper superstar. Yet, he firmly remains a critics’ darling and sells out some of the most prestigious concert halls…

Inhaler, The Borderline

I admit it straight up. We went to this Sunday evening gig at the Borderline, not to see the main band, Touts, but the second support band, Inhaler, fronted by the son of U2’s Bono, Elijah Hewson. There, I said it. So this review will not include Touts because, by the time I suspect they took…

Vampire Weekend, EartH (Hackney Arts Centre)

As far as I know, this is Vampire Weekend’s first gig in London since 2013, and this evening’s ‘welcome back’ committee consists of the about 800 lucky people who managed to get a ticket before it sold out.  Singer Ezra Koenig himself describes tonight’s gathering as a bit of an ‘attended rehearsal’. But Koenig’s socks-and-sandals aside, it…

Folkeklubben, Godset

It’s a chilly winter’s evening in Kolding, a provincial town in Denmark. The Danish band, Folkeklubben (‘the people’s club’), started their latest tour, promoting their fourth album, Sort tulipan (‘Black Tulip’), a few days previously, and tonight it’s Kolding’s turn. Living up to the band’s name, Folkeklubben has a reputation for being a band of the people that not…

Tamino, Omeara

Omeara is a young venue, just about two years old, and this evening it’s hosting a young artist, 22 years old Tamino, who is here to play songs from his debut album, just a few months old. Tamino has been called a ‘new Jeff Buckley’ which feels like an idle comparison. Sure there are some similarities;…

Calpurnia, Rough Trade East

I come straight from work, so I arrive a bit late for this evening’s concert/record promotion at Rough Trade East. The band has already played almost half of their short set, but it’s easy to get a sense of it all immediately. The band is Calpurnia, the four members are all teenagers, one of them a world-famous…

Azekel, Rough Trade East

When buying tickets for a concert, you sometimes have to fight for the scraps with other unseen and unknown buyers. You may very well find yourself to be at the losing end after having spent 15 minutes trying to access the website and then spending an additional hour refreshing in the hope that the words…

Jon Spencer, Rough Trade East

You can’t say that Jon Spencer doesn’t take his songs literally. There’s a lot of Bing Bang Boom at Spencer’s gig at Rough Trade East this evening, where he’s promoting the new album, Spencer Sings The Hits. The singer and guitarist is pretty much a solo artist these days, without his former The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion bandmates. But…

Ólafur Arnalds, London Palladium

There’s something to be said for the skill of being a concertgoer (yes, that’s a skill). I understand pogoing at a punk or hard rock concert or moshing at a grime gig, and I get singing along drunkenly at a rock show or screaming at the top of your lungs at a heartthrob pop show.…

Marlon Williams and Ryan Downey, EartH (Hackney Arts Centre)

EartH (formerly Hackney Arts Centre) feels more like an old warehouse than what it used to be; an art deco cinema called The Savoy, that opened in 1938. The space seems more prominent than your usual cinema or theatre because the area behind the stage isn’t hidden behind walls or curtains. Instead, it’s just an ample…

Black Honey and PINS, Electric Ballroom

There are three bands on the bill for tonight’s concert: RUSSO, PINS and Black Honey. Coming straight from work, I arrive at the venue and meet up with my concert-going friend just before the second band is about to go on. A later online check shows that PINS, from Manchester, have been around for several…

Lany, The Forum

Sometime earlier this year, when watching a YouTube video of sunny California, the accompanying song caught my ears, with striking lyrics like, ‘You were, you were, the drug of my choice, my great escape now… You are, you are, the drug of the town, who hasn’t had a taste? Come on, come on, everything’s fine,…

Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood, Union Chapel

Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood have worked together before. On this tour, they’re playing the songs from the latest album, With Animals, released less than two months ago, and a previous collaboration from 2013, Black Pudding. The first set of the evening consists of songs from Black Pudding. Two instrumental pieces bookend the first set of the evening.…

Gabriel Moreno, Upstart Crow Festival

It’s a mild, partially sunny Autumn day. I’m on my way home walking past Spitalfields – the old market which no longer feels like a market, just a bunch of food stalls, corporate pop-up shops and boutiques pretending to be ‘authentic’, selling overpriced items tagged as ‘vintage’ or ‘artisan’. You know the kind. I do…

Villagers, Rough Trade East

East London record store, Rough Trade East, is where it’s at for tonight’s in-store mini-gig + signing by Conor O’Brien AKA Villagers, who is here with his band to promote his latest album, The Art of Pretending to Swim. The band begins with the song Sweet Saviour and the first single from the album, A Trick of the Light –…

David Crosby, Shepherd’s Bush Empire

David Crosby has come to the end of a trail, the trail that is the European stint of his Sky Trails tour. The concert is presented as David Crosby and Friends. Given Crosby’s tendency of being in bands named after the first letters of the members’ surnames, I’d like to rename this evening, An Evening With…

Lewis Floyd Henry, Brick Lane

Brick Lane on a Sunday is busy and full of distractions – overpriced hipster shops competing with old school market stalls. The smell of dozens of different types of food and the sound of several street musicians scattered along the way are all competing for your attention. One of them is Lewis Floyd Henry. He treats…

Paul Simon and James Taylor, Hyde Park BST

Hyde Park is sizzling, and the astronomical price some of us have paid for a Summer Garden VIP ticket has paid off in the shape of the shade and easy access to cooling drinks and clean toilets. If only I could afford to go to concerts like this all the time. Concerts of this magnitude…

Roskilde Festival, Day 3 (Nick Cave)

This review is of Roskilde Festival 2018, based on the two days I attended – Day 1 and Day 3, emphasising the two main gigs I saw; Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Eminem. Friday afternoon, I arrive back at the festival site early in the afternoon. I want to watch Dead Cross with Mike Patton (Faith No More), Dave…

Roskilde Festival, Day 1 (Eminem)

This review is of Roskilde Festival 2018, based on the two days I attended – Day 1 and Day 3, emphasising the two main gigs I saw; Eminem and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Roskilde Festival is where I left it the last time I was here, six years ago. Unlike last time it’s not raining, and…

Hollywood Vampires and The Darkness, Wembley Arena

It’s only Wednesday, and it’s been a busy week – three evenings, three gigs. So I’m already semi-exhausted before even arriving at Wembley Arena for this evening’s concert with the Hollywood Vampires. I miss out on the first support band, The Stranglers, but take my seat just in time for the second support band, The Darkness.…

David Byrne, Eventim Apollo

For someone who never had the chance to see Talking Heads, David Byrne as a solo artist has been high on my list for a long time. So my expectations for tonight’s concert have probably been higher than what one can expect any performing artist to live up to. The only seats I could manage…

Pearl Jam, The O2

I’ll be the first to admit that my favourite Pearl Jam record is their first and most popular one – Ten. Since Ten, they have released and toured many records, and I confess I haven’t kept much track of their other records. So tonight’s concert consists primarily of songs I have never heard before. But it doesn’t matter.  Pearl…

Greta Van Fleet, Electric Ballroom

The streets of Camden Town on a summer evening are buzzing, and the market is closed for the day. There’s the feeling of a more local Camden for a brief moment. Without the shoppers. Without the tourists. Instead, the people you’re most likely to encounter at this time are clubbers and drug dealers, ticket touts…

James Riley, Blues Kitchen (Brixton)

The concept of this evening’s concert is the reason why I’m here in the first place, but also the reason I’m a bit sceptical: ‘Join us as James Riley performs one of popular music’s most controversial moments over two live shows… When Dylan went electric.’ Singer-songwriter James Riley and his band showcase Dylan’s notable shift from being…

Erland Cooper, St Pancras Old Church

King’s Cross is one of the noisiest, busiest places in London. A place to avoid. A place to quickly rush through to get to a train. A place to pass through on the way to somewhere nicer. But just a few minutes away from the madness of King’s Cross is an unexpectedly quiet, peaceful place…

Cam Cole, Streets of Camden Town

Camden Town is one of the landmarks of British music history. Camden High Street and the surrounding streets have been the ‘scene of the crime’ for many shenanigans over the years. Whether it’s one of Blur’s first gigs at Dublin Castle, The Clash playing The Roundhouse, Brit Popstars getting wasted at The Good Mixer, this…

Arcade Fire, Wembley Arena

Arcade Fire makes their arrival marching through the audience towards a boxing ring in the middle of the round of Wembley Arena. This entrance seems familiar for someone who saw U2 on their Popmart-tour, but once the band is on stage, it sure feels different. While U2 undoubtedly is a great and innovative live band, Arcade…

Harry Styles, The O2

Harry Styles is a popular gentleman.He was in a popular group (One Direction). He seems to be popular among other celebrities. He’s popular on social media. And he’s undoubtedly popular here at the O2 Arena tonight. Scores of people have come to see him, mostly females in their teens or early twenties. It’s easy to…

Luces Verdes, Casa de la Amistad

While on holiday in Havana, Cuba, I was looking for a concert, something local that wasn’t Salsa (which you hear everywhere). I wasn’t aware of any Cuban rock music, but like any tourist interested in pop culture, I visited the statue of John Lennon in a small park named after him (Parque John Lennon). When…

Nils Frahm, The Barbican

The last (and so far only other) time I’ve seen Nils Frahm in concert was at The Roundhouse, a standing concert, which had me retreating to a corner to sit down about halfway through. Not out of boredom, but just because a Nils Frahm concert doesn’t seem like a standing concert to me. But this time, touring…

Husky Loops, The Lexington

Husky Loops is an Italian three-piece band based in London. The trio, Danio (vocals and guitar), Pietro (drums and samples), and Tommaso (bass), dress in black and play songs built on funky grooves and metallic riffs. Tonight they play The Lexington, a somewhat smaller venue than the ones they’ve been recently playing while supporting Placebo on…

Starcrawler, Boston Music Room

Starcrawler is part of a crop of current American bands, like The Lemon Twigs and Greta Van Fleet, that despite different musical styles all have in common, they find their primary influences in the music of the sixties and seventies. The music press has described all these bands as examples of bands that might save rock…

Ezra Furman, The Barbican

Ezra Furman’s performance at the Barbican this evening is sold out. He has played in London before in sizeable venues and received good reviews, but this seems like the ‘big one.’ For starters, he’s without a band because ‘they’ve gone back to the States’ as he says without further explanation. Except for Ben, more of whom…

Johnny Flynn, St George’s Church and Resident Records

I’ve liked Johnny Flynn’s music for a few years, but he doesn’t seem to be touring much lately, and I hadn’t seen him live, so when he was going to play a gig in Brighton, an hour’s train ride from London, it was the perfect opportunity for a day trip to the seaside. When I saw…

Paul Simon, Motorpoint Arena

For someone who likes going to concerts as much as I do and who has admired Paul Simon’s music for as long as I can remember, it’s kind of weird I haven’t seen him live before tonight. And then again, maybe not because he’s one of the big shots. One of the expensive ones. One of…

Iggy Pop, Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall might not be a venue you would associate with someone with Iggy Pop’s rough and rugged reputation. But, from an artistic point of view, it’s strange, he hasn’t played here sooner. Aged 69, Iggy is an absolute music legend and has inspired more rock bands than many of the more ‘respectable’ rock stars out…