Sunday, 21 December 2008

17 December 2008 - Thompson Family Christmas, Queen Elizabeth Hall

Loads of Thompsons - Teddy, Richard, Zak, Linda, Kamila

Rejoice, people, for I bring you tidings of great joy - for this night another (Thompson) star was born - grandson Zak Hobbs. Teddy Thompson mc'd a Thompson Family Christmas get-together at the QEH in aid of Amnesty International, and a very special occasion it was - not least because Richard and Linda Thompson were reunited on stage after, oh, far too long. Joining the family were an eclectic set of friends, from the likes of Bert Jansch and Bob Davenport to Justin Bond and Shlomo. The full set list below is courtesy of the nice people at the Southbank Centre.

Teddy and Kathryn Williams opened the show with a beautiful duet of 'Silent Night', setting the very high standard of the evening to follow. It was a treat to see such respected folk artists as Bert Jansch and Bob Davenport, whose voice got stronger and stronger as he sang, on the same bill as the fab-u-lous Justin Bond and Jenni Muldaur. Rachel Unthank and the Winterset, the Northumbrian lassies, charmed us with 'Tar Barrel in Dale' about the New Year's Eve Baal burning ceremony in Allendale, while Shlomo beat-boxed his way through a couple of Christmas numbers.

On to the Thompsons. Kami gave a very sassy 'Purple Christmas' and oh wow! see Zak go on 'Run, Run Rudolph' - keep an eye out for this one - good on guitar and vocals. Richard's party piece was the specially composed 'Wrong Presents' - a wickedly funny song about a boy who has to hide from his friends at Christmas because his doting mother has bought him girls' presents. Teddy reggaed-up the show with his Christmas single - 'Christmas' - (of course) - out on download to raise funds for Amnesty. The really special moment for me was when Linda sang 'Shay Fanyan' offstage; a choked-up Teddy dragged her to the front of the stage to take a well-deserved bow.

Verdict - warm cosy glows all round. More, please, next year and do bring all your folks again.

Set List

  • SILENT NIGHT - Kathryn Williams & Teddy Thompson
  • PURPLE SNOWFLAKES - Kami Thompson with BAND, backing vocals - Kami Thompson, Linda Thompson and Zak Thompson
  • FAT AS A FIDDLE - Chris Difford with BAND
  • CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE - Ed Harcourt with BAND
  • FAREWELL REGALITY - Rahcel Unthank and The Winterset
  • WHITE CHRISTMAS - Jenni Muldaur & Teddy with BAND
  • THE WRONG PRESENTS - Richard Thompson solo
  • NEW DEPRESSION - Justin Bond with BAND
  • ALBERT’S ASHES - Brendan Campbell solo
  • RUN RUN RUDOLPH - Zak Hobbs with BAND
  • THE HOLY AND THE IVY - Teddy Thompson, Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson and Bob Davenport
  • CHRISTMAS - Teddy Thompson with BAND with backing vocals - Kami Thompson, Linda Thompson and Zak Thompson
  • SHAY FANYAN - Linda Thompson
  • GOOD KING WENCESLAS - Brendan Campbell solo
  • BRIGHT MORNING STARS - Kathryn Williams, Neil MacColl and Kate St John/Roger Eno
  • LAST CHRISTMAS - Kamila Thompson with BAND
  • WHEN THE BALIFFS CAME - Bob Davenport solo
  • HOLY THURSDAY / JERUSLUM - Bob Davenport
  • BOYCOTTING CHRISTMAS - Teddy Thompson with BAND
  • LET’S NOT FIGHT THIS XMAS - Chris Difford with BAND
  • CUTTY WREN - Richard Thompson with BAND
  • TAR BARREL IN DALE - Unthanks with BVs
  • MOONSHINE - Bert Jansch
  • CHRISTMAS WILL BE JUST… - Jenni Muldaur with BAND, backing vocals Kami Thompson, Linda Thompson and Zak Thompson
  • BACK DOOR SANTA - Ed Harcourt & Shlomo

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

2 December 2008 - Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam - Pure Groove Records

We London workers are lucky to have a new something to do at lunchtimes - the Pure Groove Records in-store sessions in Smithfield. Today was the turn of tongue-twisters 'Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam'. This likeable bunch weave a watery dreamscape of gorgeous melodies (no lyrics - yet) - the oboe and clarinet fitting in seamlessly with the acoustic and bass guitar. Others have picked up on this lot as ones to watch out for (check their Myspace) and they've been remixed by Rod Thomas too, so go check them out. Now.

Friday, 7 November 2008

6 November 2008 - Seth Lakeman, Shepherd's Bush

Fiddling Fantastic

Went for a look-see - wondering whether London is too cool for Seth Lakeman, or can a Shepherd's Bush crowd hoe-down with the rest (of course it can). Gig not sold out, but those in the know crowded downstairs. Three wild Swedish ladies of bluegrassy folk - Bakery(?) - belted out a sassy set, reminding me of the Dixie Chicks here a while back. Seth audience - a wide range, but mostly 'Folk'. Things didn't really kick off until the fiddle numbers - 'Kitty Jay' was mesmerising and the crowd urged him on. Note to management - get Seth a couple more fiddle players and then he can really let rip for an extended set. Powerful stuff, mind you.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

2 October 2008 - Teddy Thompson, Scala - King's Cross

"What's This?!! .. Oh Shit! .. I'm feeling happy .."

First of all, hats off to the venue - the re-vamped Scala in Kings Cross is a very decent 1000-person auditorium set on several terraces, so good views all round. The VIP room up in the balcony makes it a good choice for showcase gigs too, I guess.

Second, titfers doffed to Jeff Hill and his fellow Grey Race, who played their own set and went on to play as backing for the rest of the bill. Rufus Wainwright fans will recognise Jeff from the Release The Stars tour (among others).

Bravo to the main man, Teddy Thompson, and you really shouldn't need me to tell you that his most famous parents are Richard and Linda Thompson. Thompson/Wainwright gigs often have some family connection - tonight Teddy mentioned that his mother was in the audience, which prompted shout-outs for Linda from the gentlemen who had come along to see "son of Richard". Teddy has also inherited/absorbed his father's dry wit into his act - his mother had brought him "loads of clean underwear" he joked (well, it's what mothers do).

Relaxed and confident, Teddy played an accomplished, rocking set, drawn mostly from his latest album A Piece of What You Need. He used the Motown trick of playing the same song, the brillian 'In My Arms', first and last - and no-one was complaining. Singing with Grey Race as backing, or solo, each song was fantastic - those fans of James Blunt (the first and last time he appears in this blog - ever) are in for a real treat. There's another tour in early 2009 - why not catch him at Shepherd's Bush Empire in February?

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

29 September 2008 - Rod Thomas with a Band, Brixton Windmill

Rod Thomas with band

The It Hugs Back/Rod Thomas Tour. Having a backing band in tow for a change, Rod Thomas put together a gloriously up-tempo set, making the most of live beats and bass lines together with his trademark pedals synths and echoing loops. He took some of his recent favourites - 'You Get Goodbyes' and 'Your Love Is A Tease' among them - shook them up and turned out something new. The infectious new single 'Same Old Lines' put up its bid for more airplay but the real surprise was the rousing finale of 'Blueprint'. Formerly a wistful demo on lastfm, Rob grabbed it by the throat, wrestled it to the ground and then booted it into orbit with a kick-ass new treatment. Awesome. Off you go to his Myspace page and see if you can catch a gig.

"prompting commuters to ..... come down to gigs and blog about his music" - noizemakesenemies

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Autumn 2008 Schedule - Folkey-Dokey

Congratulation to the following acts who have made it onto our Autumn gig schedule:

Folk/Rock/Pop - Teddy Thompson, Scala London, 2 October

Folk/Disco - Rod Thomas, The Borderline London, 22 October

Folk/Folk Rock/Acoustic - Seth Lakeman, Shepherd's Bush Empire, 6 November

Better look lively lads, I feel a set of contorted comparisons coming on ....

Thursday, 24 July 2008

17 July 2008 - Leonard Cohen, O2

For much of the audience, this was an "at long last" event and one we had hardly dare dream of. Despite his age, some 74 years young, Mr Cohen nailed it from the very first song - and kept up the good humour and high standards right through. 'Hallelujah' brought the audience to its feet, in every sense reclaiming the song as his own. Having seen Rufus Wainwright perform this at the Hop Farm earlier, there seems to be a special magic attaching to this number - sing it with conviction, whoever you are, and it will win the day. 'A Thousand Kisses Deep' - recited to a silent, rivetted house - was entirely moving. All in all the audience were as delighted to be there as Leonard was - and his graceful good humour and humility was an example to all.

8 July 2008 - Panic at the Disco, London Astoria

The Astoria

It’s a real shame that this superb little venue is to be torn down to make way for the Crossrail Link. It looks like a seedy Soho dive on the outside but inside it is a seedy dive with just the right size capacity for a medium-level gig.

Security for the 14-17s was really tight, so the message is bring the ‘rents if you want to avoid hassle (if that’s not an oxymoron). Turning up with your big brother or sister really won’t do, and you’ll be forced to produce passport ID on the spot to prove your age. Not that I could see what the fuss was all about once we got inside. There is no way any of the kids would miss a nano-second of front-of-stage bopping and screaming to even consider looking at the bars.

Two supports – Carter Jonas (parental-advisory lyrics), very Remi Nichol; The Golden Silvers – who amazingly to me were joint winners of the Glastonbury New Talent contest this year. Main act – very slick and professional Panic at the Disco. If “Nine in the Afternoon” hasn’t yet hooked itself into your brain, it soon will have.

Monday, 21 July 2008

6 July 2008 - Neil Young, The Hop Farm

Festival time - that means the great outdoors and fresh air and sunshine and rain. The Hop Farm paddock is a neat enough site - the ground slopes gently up towards the stage and the acoustics were good - but as far as the traffic logistics went - what a nightmare, one entrance and one exit! If they're thinking of holding this event next year, someone should send Kent constabulary over to the V Festival pronto to see how things should be done.

So - arrived too late for the Guillemots - sorry, but you did sound good from the car park. Rufus Wainwright next, sparking in the pouring rain and once I'd got over my bout of brolly rage (you're standing in a field fer chrissake!) The sun burst out from behind the clouds the moment he starting to sing "Hallelujah" - nice touch that, festival gods.

My Morning Jacket began with a seventies throw-back sound - not unlike John Denver's 'Welcome to My Morning' (just imagine what must have seeped into their subconscious minds when they were little dudes) - but soon pulled out the Flying Vs to get on with some serious head banging. Supergrass were engaging and won the audience over, but Primal Scream didn't seem to get it on - at all.

Nearly six hours after arrival, patience and camel-like tactics paid off (thinking don't eat, don't drink, don't even move) and it was time for the man himself, the king of dirty rock guitar, Mister Neil Young, inspiration for a legion of rockers. The two hours was barely enough to sample a career of such length, of wonderful bravura and devil-may-care musicianship - as if declaring "I'm still here, and I'm still up for it!" Ending with an inspiring "Day in the life" - wonderful. Yes kids, the man did play the Beatles. They're good, these oldies, aren't they!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

31 May 2008 - Bruce Springsteen, Emirates Stadium

It was big, it was rugged, it was your down-to-earth purpose-built entertainment - and that's just the venue. Sadly, the sound was lost even though Bruce did his best to get things moving as the light faded and the torches came out. Quite something to come out of a gig and be escorted by police all the way to the tube - just like a real football crowd I guess.

Monday, 26 May 2008

24 May 2008 - Richard Thompson with Mary Gauthier, Royal Festival Hall

Double Treat - no, make that Triple Treat
It was good to see Mary Gauthier in London again - this time in her classiest UK venue yet, in support of Richard Thompson at the South Bank concert hall. Mary was in fine form as she gave the Thompson audience a "sampler" set from 'I Drink' and 'Camelot Motel' to the most recent 'Last of the Hobo Kings'. After battling courteously with the lack of feedback in the opening number, Mary wrapped us up in her spell of tales from life on the road and the hurt of post-Katrina New Orleans. Her wry tales between songs are a feature of her performances; tonight there was only time for the back-story to 'Hobo Kings' - which raised much laughter. I think Mary won quite a few converts - if the brisk trade around the cd table was anything to go by - and hopefully she'll be back soon.
Richard Thompson put on a masterful solo performance - as ever making light work of sounding like a full band, rather than a lone guitarist. Only a few songs in, he gallantly abandoned his set-list to play requests - 'Cold Kisses', 'Valerie' etc - although he drew the line at 'My Daddy'. 'Dad's Gonna Kill Me' thrilled again, as did 'Vincent' - but 'Bright Lights' is better sung as a duet. And on it went - preaching to the converted. There were no real surprises until the second encore when he introduced his daughter Kamila for a couple of numbers - her voice very reminiscent of her mother's. Rather like the Wainwright/McGarrigles, the talented Thompson clan is clearly another folk/rock dynasty - look them up at a festival near you this summer.

13 May 2008 - Willie Nelson, Hammersmith Apollo

The gigs this months are a bit like buses - nothing for ages, then along come several at once. Still, it doesn't do to pass up the chance to see the big W. Audience was full of die-hard Brit fans and teary-eyed Texans as Mr Nelson gave a faultless performance - stronger and better than before. If this is what it's like to be 75 then can I have some of what he's on, please - and lots of it.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

12 May 2008 - Chess in Concert, Royal Albert Hall

Taking a Bow - (courtesy of

Tim, Benny and Bjorn have been tinkering with this musical for a quarter of a century now, but they may at last be on to something. Don't be fooled by the "in concert" tag either - this was almost a full-blown musical with orchestra, choir, two sets of dancers, fireworks, the RAH organ and of course the fantastic lead vocals.

This show attracted a wide audience - from the Grobanites (who knew they were in for a treat), to Abba fans and musical afficionados. Knowing they were being filmed (for cd and dvd) the cast and orchestra gave it their all - no doubt the audio problems will be sorted out in the mixing studio. Josh Groban's powerful voice was outstanding - and obviously a pleasant surprise for those unfamiliar with his talents. Idina Menzel's performance was somewhat scratchy in the first half, good support from Adam Pascal, David Bedella and Marti Pellow, but the new discovery for me was Kerry Ellis, whose "I Know Him So Well" has finally blasted Elaine Paige's voice out of my head. 'Quartet' sung by the principals was absolutely thrilling, the choir's 'Merano' was a joy and 'Anthem', with which Josh closed the first half, was perfection. An evening of total delight - and we rewarded the cast with a five-minute standing ovation. Hopefully everyone can enjoy this when it comes out on general release!

Thursday, 6 March 2008

3 March, 2008 - Rod Thomas, The Macbeth, Hoxton

Launch party for 'You Get Goodbyes'

Packed out night for the launch of Rod's new single 'You Get Goodbyes' - a catchy number which turns the usual end-of-relationship angst on its head, in an upbeat celebration of honesty and moving on. Toe-tapping-tastic. Check out the 'B' side too, for the gorgeous 'Debris' (now that really is a sad break-up song) and multi-layered acoustic versions of two earlier hits 'Good Coat' and 'Your Love is a Tease'.

A brilliant set from the multi-talented Mr Rod, and he even got the audience included in the loop as chorus to his ukulele number 'Same Old Lines'. Check out his Myspace for more gigs and go dance your socks off.

Rod's web-site for music and all links: here

Sunday, 2 March 2008

1 February 2008 - Stackridge, 100 Club, Oxford Street W1

Lummy, Stackridge are back!

YBG debated long and hard over this one - nostalgia for the Colston Hall, Bristol and all - but, s*d it, everyone deserves a mid-winter treat, so off down to the Dad pit it was. Labelled in the press as 'Prog-rock', the moniker doesn't do this band any favours - they're quirky and unique, dating from the time when the 'Prog' bit applied to just about anyone who wrote a song over 3.5 mins long. To the basic line-up (guitars, keyboard, drums) add violins, flute, trombone and you start to get the idea. Top this with catchy lyrics (famously the student favourite, Syracuse the Elephant) and you're nearly there. But performance and execution is all - and this they had in spades.

It was good to see most of the original line-up too - Andy Davis, James Warren, Mutter Slater and Jim 'Crun' Walters, plus fine contributions from Glen Tommey and Andrew "Codge" Marsden. Sarah Mitchell and Rachel Hall on violin added the essential string section to Stackridge's unique sound. The band seemed reconciled to the fact that the Stackridge brand is bigger than their individual musical careers and are making sure that this is (at long last) their big comeback year. The delighted punters were of the variety who would book Genesis for their school dance BITD and a hero's welcome was given to the die-hard who had flown in from New York for the occasion. Happy in the Lord were we.

A new album is promised for the summer and the band returns to the 100 Club on 23 May - go and see for yourselves - I promise it'll be fun (and it's not that often you can say that these days).

Sunday, 27 January 2008

8 December 2007 - Hello Goodbye + Sherwood + Go-Audio, Folkestone

Folkestone never fails to please.

Back to the excellent Leas Cliffs Pavillion - on chaperone duties this time. The RW band (see below) noted the place was like a school hall - well this was Folkestone's Christmas high school hop. The place was heaving with kids having a good time - couples snogging in the corridors, girls crying/throwing up in the loos, lads over-moshing in the mosh-pit, girls girly dancing and the queue for the sweet stall longer than the queue for the bar. Still, the view from up in the Mom'n'Dad pit was excellent.

Another four-act gig - can't remember the first, but second-up Go-Audio were really good. A defo for 2008 festivals, please. Third-up Sherwood - ok, but was that soundcheck really part of the act, lads? Hello Goodbye v good indeed - audience thought they were ace and went mental enjoying themselves - which is always the aim of a good evening.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

22 November 2007 - Amy Winehouse, Remi Nicole, Brixton Academy

Yes, I know this show was ages ago, but I wanted to process my shock before writing anything. I'm glad someone eventually had the guts to pull the rest of Amy's tour - this night did her no favours at all.

The warm-up - the likeable Remi Nicole - played a competent set, but was let down by her material. I mean you soon get bored with lyrics along the lines of "My boyfriend's c**p, I told him so, Oh-oh-oh-oh, Oh-oh-oh-oh.." (my words, not hers, but you get the idea). Anyway, not bad all round but then there was over an hour to wait before the headliner. Management kept the pa music up loud - every time it dipped you could hear the booing. At last Miss Winehouse put in an appearance - of which you will have read plenty elsewhere. Enough to say, that she has enough talent to become truly great - the building blocks are there (such a stunning voice) - let's hope she overcomes her troubles soon.