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Little Annie (live at Café OTO)

London 20 May 2016

Little Annie live at Café OTO May 2016Tonight, Matthew, Café OTO will be a smoky jazz club, only without the smoke due to it being 2016. It’s Ellroy for vapers, a healthier Lynch movie. Because tonight Little Annie is here delivering the latest instalment of her nearly forty-year career of eclectic awesomeness, on the back of her wonderful new album Trace. Accompanied by double-bass, understated drums, piano and sax, she takes the stage shrouded in a bright neon yellow scarf, and it’s this combination of the shrouding and the vivid colours that’s to typify the evening’s entertainment.

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Desertfest London 2016

London 29 April – 1 May 2016

Oranssi Pazuzu live at Desertfest 2016 (Picture: Richie Ruchpaul)Desertfest is the place where the stoned immaculate of Britain (and several other countries) meet in one of London’s coolest areas, watch some of the heaviest (and out there) bands over a three day period in five different venues.

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Michael Gira / Thurston Moore / Laura Cannell (live at Saisonscape)

The Barbican, London 30 March 2016

Saisonscape March 2016Spring is sprung, the grass is ris, I wonder what this thing at The Barbican is? Well wonder no more; it’s called Saisonscape, and it’s a series of concerts which have been organised by Art Assembly‘s Julia Dempsey to celebrate the idea of growth, renewal and the creation of new life in an artistic context. That all sounds quite heavy, but for tonight’s concert she’s chosen musicians who play set pieces but allow themselves room for improvisation to illustrate the theme.

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Enslaved / Skuggsja / Wardruna (live at By Norse)

Wardruna live at By Norse 2016The Coronet, London 19 March 2016

Saturday night in Elephant and Castle and the queue is round the block. Almost literally. Due to the sad state of the beloved Shepherds Bush Empire, tonight’s entry in the mythic By Norse canon has been shifted to The Coronet, a converted cinema and nightclub whose security conditions for entry are of the stringent type that works just fine if you’re a club and people are showing up five or six at a time, but tends to grind to a (really fucking cold) halt if you’re putting on a gig and the whole crowd have shown up at once.

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Savages / Bo Ningen (live at The Roundhouse)

London 17 March 2016

St Patrick’s Day in chilly London, and I’ve opted out of going out drinking in pubs filled with (mainly English) people wearing green hats and pretending they always liked Guinness in favour of going to see some rock’n’roll, in the alarmingly hipsterised Roundhouse (a craft ale stall? Bar snacks ranging from “nuts” and “crisps” to “bags of meat”? Crikey), because the mighty Savages are playing, supported by the equally mighty Bo Ningen. Which is quite a line-up, though hardly a surprising one, the two bands being long(ish)-standing friends and collaborators.

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White Hills / Teeth Of The Sea (live at The Lexington)

London 13 March 2016

Sunday night on Pentonville Road, and The Lexington is rammed. At first it’s hard to tell who’s here for the bands and who’s just here for a pint, but then the first act take the stage upstairs and people flood upwards. And it’s not hard to tell WHY they’re here for the bands — as Teeth Of The Sea fiddle around with their eclectic and quite frankly bizarre selection of instruments and boxes, including a bass guitar with a Throbbing Gristle sticker affixed.

Teeth Of The Sea live March 2016

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The Pop Group – For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?

Freaks R Us

The Pop Group - For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder?The Pop Group‘s reissue project continues apace with the release of their classic 1980 LP For How Much Longer Do We Tolerate Mass Murder? This, their second studio album (and their last for 35 years) saw their overt politicisation, as the title will attest. To the cynical and jaded ears of someone coming to this in 2016, like me for example, there’s an endearing, almost naïve quality to their sloganeering, as with a lot of ’80s agit-pop; but as punk had already proved, that need be no barrier to either artistic success or good songwriting.

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Mugstar / Henge (live at Baba Yaga’s Hut)

Electrowerkz, London 26 February 2016

Visiting London’s Electrowerkz in 2016 after spending far too many nights here at the legendary Slimelight in the ’90s is a singularly disorienting experience. It’s the same building, but where once there stood a dingy warehouse now stands an actual venue, even though they’re the same bricks in the same places. Indeed, it’s so disorienting that we may as well be on all the drugs we were twenty-odd years ago, though these days there’s an actual bar and we stick to booze, being old.Henge live at Baba Yaga's Hut February 2016

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The Bolshoi – 5 Albums

The Arkive

The Bolshoi - 5 AlbumsMany years ago, I was all about The Bolshoi. Tipped-off by a friend at sixth form college, I borrowed their album Friends from the local tape library (for the benefit of our younger readers, tape libraries used to be a thing back in ancient history. As, of course, did tapes. And libraries.) and instantly fell in love with its marriage of goth-inflected cynicism and massively catchy tunes. For a while back there it was up there with The The‘s Soul Mining and the Sisters Of Mercy‘s First And Last And Always as my favourite album.

When I left home and hit the big city, I managed to track down their first mini-album, Giants, and was blown “clean away” (as it

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Savages – Adore Life

Matador

Savages - Adore LifeWhen SavagesSilence Yourself burst onto the scene in 2013, with its rock-hard riffs that rocked hard but were never hard rock, it was genuinely refreshing — like a time capsule from the early ’80s that had somehow manage to attract modernism to itself rather than simply aping it, and had somehow managed to get here while entirely missing out grunge and metal.

A totally focused and purposeful blast of pure post-punk energy, it was impossible NOT to wonder to yourself “how the hell do you follow that?” It was such a self-contained artefact, it would have been tragic but understandable if it had remained at that, and no more new Savages material had been forthcoming. Because, really, where WOULD you go

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David Bowie – ★

ISO/Sony/Colombia

David Bowie - BlackstarNew Bowie album. For years that meant bollocks all.

LOCATION <DOESN’T MATTER, REALLY> TIME <xx111994>

I remember a mate saying to me back in 1994, on turning up on a Saturday night, “Here’s the new Bowie album”. “NEW Bowie album? It’s the fucking ’90s. That’s not a good selling point. Just play some old ’70s ones, we’ll be cool”. He had the drugs, so he won the music. It was Outside. It blew the top of my head off, and then shat awesomeness so far down my spinal column I was shitting cool for a month.

It rocked so hard we went all the way to Exeter and back on a single coach fare and the kindness of strangers. Mind you, it took us two days

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Fields Of The Nephilim / Black Volition (live at The Forum)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum December 2015London 21 December 2015

Having been unceremoniously shunted from the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (due to what is officially known as “structural weaknesses” but which I personally suspect may be closer to “some bastard wants to make some luxury flats”, Fields Of The Nephilim are tonight gracing The Forum with their presence. The date’s also been changed, which is undoubtedly a right bastard for people who can’t change their plans, but which on the plus side means they’re playing on the winter solstice, which is pretty much the perfect time of year for a Nephs gig.

And they’ve brought friends. And what wildly eclectic friends they are. Black Volition are confusing, confounding, and rather wonderful. They start off kinda Bauhausy, playing

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New Model Army (live at The Forum)

London 11 December 2015

“And you could be there…”

Zoom in. You’re down the front at The Forum. New Model Army are playing up a storm, and Justin Sullivan has put you right in the head of a religious extremist. They started with the never-more-appropriate-than-right-now-when-we’ve-just-started-bombing-in-Syria “Bloodsports”, a song which in itself encapsulates the endless War On Terror, from the packing of bullets to the bombing raids and slaughter to the impact on personal and community relations back home in the space of three minutes. They let it form a state-of-the-world triptych with angry classic “Christian Militia” at its centrepiece, rounded off by “Breathing”, an intimate glimpse into the mind of a terrorist atrocity survivor. As a statement of intent, it’s powerfully intense. As the opening to a rock show, it kicks ass. Zoom out. Take a breath.

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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Underworld)

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015

TMTWNBBFN live at The Underworld November 2015London 21 November 2015

A grim Saturday night in Olde London Towne, and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing have their name up in lights. Well, kind of; even the acronym only just about fits above Camden’s legendary Underworld.

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Eaten Alive

Arrow Films

Eaten AliveAs I write this, the horror community is mourning the loss of Gunnar Hansen, whose turn (yes, that one, round and round with a buzzing saw in the middle of the road in the blazing sun) as Leatherface helped put Tobe Hooper on the map, Texas Chainsaw Massacre having not only been a huge hit, but unbeknownst to anyone having also changed the face of horror forever.

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