Monday, 14 June 2010

12 June 2010 - A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle, Royal Festival Hall

McGarrigle/Wainwright/Thompson gang and friends
Good start to the day when I bumped into 'Bright Light Bright Light' in Covent Garden on my way to the Festival Hall - yay for village London!

Opening Richard Thompson's Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, this was definitely a very special and moving occasion - fan-folk had come to see their favourites and of course to remember Kate McGarrigle, who died of cancer in January.  Some had seen the McGarrigle sisters perform BITD, and even Richard and Linda Thompson on their 'Bright Lights' tour - and of course many were there to see Rufus, Martha and Teddy.  The third McGarrigle sister, Jane, was there too.  Richard and Linda Thompson made history being on stage alone together for the first time in about 35 years for 'Go Leave'.  The Thompson/Wainwright/McGarrigle bedrock was interspersed with guest slots from Nick Cave, Neil Tenant, and the surprising Krystle Warren - among many others: Teddy Thompson shone for 'Saratoga Summer Song'.  However, the real treat was to hear Rufus sing his mother's songs such as 'I Eat Dinner' (with Emmylou Harris) and 'The Walking Song'. Sister Martha was absolutely amazing throughout and she and Rufus really teared up during 'Proserpina', one of the last songs Kate wrote.

Anna McGarrigle nailed it when she said "The really great thing about children is that they're there to sing with you when your sister's not.  It's different, but it's also wonderful".  Quite.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

3 June 2010, Bright Light Bright Light - Bush Hall (opening for The Hooziers)

Here's a clip from the rather wonderful 'Disco Moment' - there's more to come very soon from this amazing talent, a brilliant single in August 'Love Part II', we're told, and then THE ALBUM. Bush Hall was packed to the rafters for The Hooziers, who had the bright idea of opening with a New Orleans-style jazz band entering the room from the back - such style.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

19 May 2010 - Randy Newman, Royal Festival Hall

A rare opportunity to see this American legend and virtual soundtrack of every Pixar movie you have seen (and a few more besides). Delightfully warm and witty, he warmed to his theme as the evening progressed and cast a few spells of magic. I enjoyed his Buzz Lightyear schtick about the musician's craft being drowned out "by some bulldog on the screen" - that's Hollywood for you. The joke about old rock stars never retiring was given a twist of irony when he got the audience to belt out the "you're dead" chorus to one of the songs. Well worth stepping out for, I'd say.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

29 April 2010, Rufus Wainwright - Regent Theatre, Ipswich

An artist indulged. The first half of the show was given over to a run-through of 'Days are nights: songs for Lulu' - a sombre collection, mostly chanelling Rufus' grief at the impending/actual passing of his mother Kate McGarrigle [she died of cancer in January]. He entered silently and slowly crossed the stage to the piano, dragging a 17-foot feathered train behind him - specially designed by his friend Zaldy. Fair enough, and I'm all for artists exploring the further reaches of their creativity. Several songs will no doubt make their way into the regular set-list - 'Who are you New York', 'Martha' and 'Zebulon' perhaps. But what did it for me was the visuals - a background projection of an eye (R's) heavily made up with black greasepaint, slowly opening and closing like a lizard's eye. There were even tears. We'd been warned/politely asked not to interrupt during this section, but it all got too much for the Glaswegian (?) heckler. I quote: "C'mon Rufie, play us yer f*****g songs!" Twice. Quite.

The second half was very much a requests/best-of show, ranging from 'Poses', 'Cigarettes and chocolate milk', 'Art teacher' to 'Going to a town' - which last one seemed seriously under-rehearsed. It's been one hell of a year (literally) for our man, yet he's touring relentlessly and has Kate's tribute concert at Meltdown in June to work up to. Thankfully, there were hints of the old Rufie, telling us of some of the old stuff "bubbling under", to erupt any time now. So, c'mon Rufie, we're waiting for ye.