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The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing / Andrew O’Neill (live at the O2 Academy Islington)

London 18 November 2016

Andrew O'Neill live November 2016

Men guitarist Andrew O’Neill opens the show, an amiable, affable presence beneath his comedy black metal goatskull backdrop. His is a fascinating cocktail of comedy — the gentle absurdism of an Eddie Izzard or Ross Noble shot through with a pitch-black streak and edged with a harder political sensibility, all filtered through the lens of Heavy Fucking Metal.

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Before Victoria / B-Movie Romance / Martha Makes Mistakes (live at The Islington)

Before Victoria live October 2016

London 21 October 2016

As the nights draw in in Old London Town, it seems everyone’s ill. The photographer, the replacement photographer, half the musicians… but that’s not going to stop anyone having a raucous old time at the debut live showing of Marc Burrows‘s Regency-punk outfit Before Victoria in a small though tastefully-appointed venue at the back of The Islington pub in, well, Islington.

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Swans (live at Islington Assembly Rooms)

London 14 October 2016

Swans live October 2016Swans are a strange, beautiful and terrifying beast, a bit like that white royal waterfowl whose name escapes me but can break your arm with one beat of its mighty wing; but with shorter necks. And tonight sees the second of their London performances on the UK leg of what frontman Michael Gira says will be the last outing for their current incarnation.

So hopes are high, especially given his choice of splitting their London gig into two nights in a smaller venue, the intimate and alarmingly posh Islington Assembly Hall. Last time I saw them, at the Roundhouse, the size of the venue and some dodgy sound left me feeling faintly disappointed; although disappointment is a relative term

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Guitar Wolf / Atomic Suplex (live at The Dome)

Guitar Wolf live at The Dome October 2016London 7 October 2016

Atomic Suplex are in many way the ideal support band for Guitar Wolf, having seemingly followed them right into the gaping jaws and fuming exhausts of jet rock’n’roll.

A frontman with a pilot’s helmet complete with mic, decorated with the words ROCK and, of course, ROLL, some sleazy good-time boogie-woogie cranked up to eleven

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Luke Haines – Smash The System

Cherry Red

Luke Haines - Smash The SystemI must admit to having come late to Luke Haines. I managed to avoid Britpop almost entirely for reasons largely connected to booze, drugs and industrial rock, but my vague memory of the whole era is one of a terrible national mistake from which only Haines and Jarvis Cocker appear to have emerged with any semblance of dignity. Recent years have seen me falling in love with Black Box Recorder‘s almost-Ballardian dreampop perfection, so it’s with genuine curiosity that I approached his latest solo effort, Smash The System.

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Dangerous Men

Drafthouse / MVD

Dangerous MenJohn Rad‘s Dangerous Men is probably, unfortunately for me, review-proof. Made on a shoestring by Rad, an Iranian who moved to America literally 24 hours before Khomeini got in and — understandably — decided not to go back, it’s a crazy slice of slam-bang crime action, and it may just be the Deadly Premonition of moves when it comes to asking “is it any good?”

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Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Bad Seed

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‎– Skeleton TreeIt will cause no great controversy if I say that Nick Cave has been writing about love and death for most of his career. If The Birthday Party were the gleeful rictus grin of the Grim Reaper, then later work with the Bad Seeds saw him embrace grief as a response, rather than savage laughter.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor (live at The Coronet)

London 18 August 2016

Godspeed You! Black Emperor live August 2016 -2In a converted cinema in Elephant and Castle, protected from the outside world by the most stringent security this side of an airport, post-rock revolutionaries Godspeed You! Black Emperor are taking the stage. In darkness, of course, as is their wont.

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Asschapel – Total Destruction (1999-2006)

Southern Lord

Asschapel - Total Destruction“Goooing to the chapel and we’re… gooonna get- wait, we’re gonna get WHAT???”

Asschapel. They’re called Asschapel. Which is the best name for a band ever. And Southern Lord have just reissued their entire back catalogue. And, as befitting a band called Asschapel and a label with the rep of Southern Lord, it’s heavy as fuck.

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Lake Ruth – Actual Entity

The Great Pop Supplement

Lake Ruth - Actual EntityFormed by members of Holy Fuck, The New Lines and The Eighteenth Day Of May, Lake Ruth offer a disarming take on psychedelic indie pop with their début album Actual Entity. It’s a charming glimpse into a world of magic and wonder, although of course not one without its own darkness. Because otherwise pop music just doesn’t tend to work, and this manifestly does.

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Fields Of The Nephilim / The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing (live at The Forum: summer solstice 2016)

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer Solstice

Fields Of The Nephilim live at The Forum Summer SolsticeLondon 20 June 2016

Over a quarter of a century ago, when I was much younger and prettier, I moved to London. The first weekend I was here I went to see Fields Of The Nephilim, who had just released the prog-goth epic Elizium. The support were a band called Creaming Jesus, a wickedly funny goth/metal band fronted by a dude with a world-class glare and a serious grudge against mike stands.

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Swans – The Glowing Man

Young God (North America) / Mute (Rest of the world)

Swans - The Glowing ManThe Glowing Man marks the culmination of what frontman Michael Gira calls “the current phase” of Swans, and is the fourth album by the current twenty-first century line-up which has been delivering uncompromising beauty and brutality since 2010’s My Father Will Guide Me Up A Rope To The Sky. It shares with that album a returned fascination with traditional song forms, though for the most part these are buried within the epic abstractions of sound that characterised the intervening albums The Seer and To Be Kind. Taken as a whole, the four form a unique and wonderful ten or so hours of music; which would probably kill you if ingested all at

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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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