I cannot remember too many occasions when a harp has featured on the stage of a rock concert, except perhaps for visual effect or, during the late seventies, to provide the pretentious ending to a tedious Jon Anderson lyrical soliloquy.
But I certainly have never seen one used as a major instrument throughout a ninety-minute set – until yesterday when, for once, a band with the word ‘Machine’ in their name were anything but mechanical. Added to which Florence Welsh is not merely a vocal force of nature, she also comes over as, quite simply, a lovely person; not something you can say too often about female leads in these days of ladette culture. Continue Reading
I have probably purchased more albums during 2011 than for some years and, what’s more, it’s been more difficult than I can remember for many years to select a short list of just the ten. So quite a bounce-back for this, my 49th, album of the year round-up. Hopefully my fiftieth will be just as interesting next year; if not, I guess I can always do a retrospective!
This year there have been several albums from established artists that one might expect to be a shoe-in to any top ten, but somehow they proved disappointments, not even making it onto the buy list, thereby excluding them from possible selection. Continue Reading
2009 was not a vintage year for new music; in fact for the most part it was a somewhat uninspiring end to what has been a most interesting decade of diversion and innovation. Which is primarily the reason for the unusual lateness in reaching a final decision; a delay, I am pleased to say, brought about by a sudden rush of better-quality material at the end of the year, the result of which is a somewhat more pleasing top three albums than appeared likely in October.
Most purchases are, nowadays, invoked after seeing or hearing a live performance. Radio’s 1, 2 and 6 are featuring ever-more studio sets, and on TV there is expanding festival coverage, plus regular series like ‘Live at Abbey Road’ and good old Jools. We managed to get to more gigs as well this year, although these were predominantly catching-up with old favourites that we hadn’t yet seen ‘in the flesh’, or simply wanted to see again. Continue Reading