It's an almost impossible trick to pull off, but The Roundhouse manages to be both mainstream (look, it's Katy Perry at the iTunes Festival!) and yet edgy. Maybe it helps to know that right here, back in 1967, a crowd of tripping hippies was getting naked to Hendrix and the Floyd and plotting the overthrow of the capitalist state. Or that 100 years earlier the place was filled with the roar of steam trains and then, for many years, barrels of Gilbeys gin. Noise and hedonism have always come naturally to The Roundhouse.
It took about two minutes into Brother and Bones’ first track at Hoxton Bar and Grill one year ago, before I actually considered raising a bull horned hand to the sky. I didn’t, thank god, but it was the closest I had come in a long time when Rich Thomas finally unleashed a full lung's worth of what felt and looked like years of musical and emotional passion and hard graft.
Nothing ever hit me with quite so much force as a beautifully distorted piano note that floated off the stage and over the crowd at a Sigur Ros festival in Belgium in 2008. The fact that I was in the middle of a dishevelled group of loved-up friends will have no doubt helped, as will the band’s theatrical presence and their soul-shaking lighting show. And being just half way through four days of hedonism, two gone, two to go, was definitely a factor.
A producer passed his iPhone to me in the pub a few months ago and suggested I watch a live recording he had filmed of the superb Films of Colour drummer, James Rees-Flynn in the studio. My first thoughts were that James has the hard-hitting style of some of the raw punk-influenced players, but that there’s a ghost-note-rich subtlety to his playing that hints at his being very well trained indeed. His left hand sometimes has a drum and bass feel, while his rattlesnake of a right foot loses nothing of its tightness during the complexity.
You would be hard pressed to spend time in Bristol and not hear about, drink at or dance in The Canteen. Located in the heart of Stokes Croft at the foot of the creative centre, Hamilton House, the venue boasts colourful, local street art, outdoor table tennis and free live music everyday of the week. It is the kind of place that epitomises the calm and holistic attitude towards life that seems to be cultivated in the city.
Here's a stupid question. Who is or was the greatest live act of all time? And here's the simple answer: Gil Scott-Heron. Oh, sure, there are loads of others, and we can fight it out, but on his day, in his moment, for sheer power and poetry and righteous rhymes, the answer is always Gil.
The eternal youth-spot that is The Magic Garden, Battersea, is one of the livelier music venues just south of the river. While the food is good, the bands are better and the boutique beer garden is open until midnight. Live acts at The Magic Garden are unfailingly eclectic, ranging from afrobeat to Gypsy brass ensembles, and sets can sometimes resemble a best-of-the-rest from Glastonbury’s Avalon stage – although, as the twenty-something crowd will assure you, this is no bad thing.
Last month saw the two-stop mini tour of South African blues musician Dan Patlansky gracing our British shores for the first time. Performing without his full band for this acoustic tour, Dan played to a completely demographic-free crowd - and from young enthusiasts to the 50+'s, smiles filled the stage-lit room.
The Naturals are one of the bands driving Bristol’s musical engine at the moment and there is good reason for that fact: the four have been playing music together for nearly 10 years in their current incarnation. Given that they are still enjoying their early twenties, that is some feat.