A few selections from the London gig scene this week as things start ramping up as spring and the better weather approaches – hard though it may seem to believe over the last week.
Mariam The Believer – Electrowerkz (Wednesday)
Sweden’s Mariam Wallentin came up with one of the best albums of last year in “Blood Donation”, a record she describes as “sounding like something you’ve dug up from the dark ground”, which is a pretty accurate description for my money.
Amira Kheir – Rich Mix Arts Centre, Bethnal Green (Thursday)
“Hailed as the ‘Diva of the Sudanese desert’ (Journal du Mali) Sudanese-Italian singer Amira Kheir has been enchanting audiences around the world with a sound inspired by traditional music from her homeland Sudan and anchored Jazz and Soul. The result is a unique style of ‘Sudani-Jazz’ that gives tasters of Sudan’s rich musical heritage of distinctive Saharan blues and Sufi music whilst being reflective of the artist’s key Afrocentric and Jazz musical upbringing.
As a young singer, musician and composer now residing in London, Amira draws from her own multicultural background to create music that explores themes of home, belonging and transcendental spirituality. Her music is evocative of Northern Sudan’s desert landscape and celebrative of its ancient culture, but recognising of the world’s multitude realities and rooted in a desire to break all the boundaries used to keep people divided. It is anchored in a compelling call to come together irrespectively of our backgrounds to share our single human journey. Within Amira’s music is a universal message of peace, love and unity and global call to rise up and confront oppression, corruption and injustice. This young artist is rapidly establishing herself as one of the new voices in the African renaissance.
Andy Fairweather Low – Club WM (Friday)
Andy Fairweather-Low was a sixties teen heart-throb and lead singer / guitarist with Amen Corner, the band whose name John Peel famously forgot on a rare appearance on Top Of The Pops in the late sixties.
His trademark high vocals graced hits like “Bend Me Shape Me” and “If Paradise Is Half As Nice” (see below for a recent live performance of the latter)
He had further hits in the 70s with “Reggae Tune” and possibly the greatest song ever written about the Demon Drink, “Wide Eyed And Legless”.
In recent years he’s opened for the likes of Eric Clapton but I for one will not be holding that against him. Still sounds pretty good as you can see from this clip of him singing Amen Corner’s biggest hit.
Chris T-T & The Hoodrats / Capyaras / Laura Cannell = Union Chapel (Saturday lunchtime)
A candidate for the loveliest venue in London, the Union Chapel isn’t a converted church – it’s still a working church. With everyone sitting in pews, it creates a completely different gig environment. Seeing Laura Veirs here a couple of years ago remains a personal highlight.
This week sees something a bit special with Chris T-T and the Hoodrats headlining, playing tracks from their excellent album “The Bear” along with older stuff – Chris has a hell of a back catalogue. He’s described on the Union Chapel site as “a modest but exceptional songwriting talent” which is probably accurate – some of wish he was less modest, then he’d be better known 8=)
Here’s Chris T-T in acoustic solo mode
Akala – Jazz Cafe (Sunday)
Interesting bloke, Akala. He’s been a round a few years, starting off in the grime dungeon but moving towards hip-hop as he got a bit older. He writes proper lyrics actually about stuff and is well worth catching live
Absentees – Ye Olde Rose & Crown (Sunday)
Moving from proper hip hop to proper folk, Absentees are a cross cultural group from the US, Ireland and the UK. They are a living representation of evolving roots music whilst still being steeped in tradition.
The group is comprised of four of the best instrumentalists and vocalists on the UK Americana scene.
Keeping American folk culture and political song alive, along with original, contemporary folk music.
An Afternoon With Mary Wilson – Tricycle Theatre (Monday) – also The Drum Theatre, Birmingham (Tuesday)
Not to be confused with be-beehived eighties jazz/pop singer Mari Wilson, nor with seventies country singer and one-hit wonder Meri “Telephone Man” Wilson – nay, nor EVEN with Mary Wells, first superstar of Motown in the early sixties.
Mary Wilson, original Supreme, fine songstress, writer of the best music autobiography I have ever read – “Dreamgirl – My Life As A Supreme” – the title referencing the Broadway musical Dreamgirls which had a loose connection to the Supremes’ story.
Expect stories and chat with some tunes, and if you really want to wind her up, ask her about Diana Ross’s behaviour at Florence Ballard’s funeral.
I felt really old when I saw this was on in the afternoon – I guess the target audience for classic Motown, half a century on from the Supremes’ first big hit (below), has gotten into tea-dance territory. Still, it would have been nice for those of us who still have to slave away for The Man nine-to-five to attend.
From the sparky way the book is written, and also from hearing Mary being interviewed on the radio, I’d say this will be a major highlight of the week – tickets still available last time I looked.
Organised by The American Embassy, which is exactly and entirely the sort of thing American Embassies ought to be doing instead of bombing people.
Fat White Family – Electrowerkz (Tuesday)
This is the one. South London’s finest headline one of the excellent series of NME Awards shows that they put on all over London every February prior to the NME Awards Show, which always has an interesting and challenging line-up. The NME is fighting the good fight against the increasing corporatisation of music and should be supported.
See you dahn the front for at least a couple of those 8=)
There will also be tracks from four or five of the artists featured on the Beat City podcast #17 available from next Monday