Tag Archives: acoustic performance

Upcoming London gigs in early June – A Formal Horse & Ham Legion; Olga Stezhko; The Spiders of Destiny play Frank Zappa; a Bowie Night in Soho

29 May

Here’s some quick info on upcoming gigs in early June which I’ve heard about – all of them in London.

Over the last couple of years, Westminster Kingsway College has established itself as one of the capital’s finest homes for quirky art-rock – by which I don’t mean student hobby bands thrown together for campness or for ironic prankery, but a rich, complex, committed electric music spanning the range between gutter-punk and flouncing prog via metal, jazz, folk, avant-gardening and anything else which gets melted down into the stew. Here’s one of those gigs that proves the point.

A Formal Horse, 2015

A Formal Horse + Ham Legion (Westminster Kingsway College, 211 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8RA, Tuesday 2nd June, 6.30pm)

A Formal Horse is a new progressive rock quartet based in Southampton. Although the band’s sound is difficult to pinpoint, their dense instrumental passages are reminiscent of King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra, whilst Francesca Lewis’ lead vocals evoke the whimsical surrealism of the 1970s’ Canterbury scene. Wonky melodies and serene vocals over a brutal sound – their music keeps you on your toes. However, A Formal Horse go beyond simply regurgitating the music of their predecessors. With influences as diverse as Bartók and Bon Iver, the band prove that there is still much territory to be explored in the field of British progressive rock.

In June 2014, the band released their debut EP, which was recorded by Rob Aubrey (IQ, Transatlantic). They went on to perform at London’s Resonance Weekend alongside Bigelf and Änglagård, and were described by Prog Magazine as a “festival highpoint”. Since, they have shared stages with Knifeworld and Lifesigns, cementing their position at the forefront of the British progressive scene.

Ham Legion spent 2014 honing their sound and developing a storming live show. You can expect a collision of beaming up beat power pop, grinding metal outbursts, dramatic changes of mood, sudden passages of twistingly epic prog then moments of restrained delivery and somber reflection. They are striking out in 2015 with the release of their debut album towards the end of the year.

Tickets available here – £6.00/£5.00

Olga Stezkho: 'Eta Carinae'

Olga Stezkho: ‘Eta Carinae’

Olga Stezhko (the far-thinking Belarusian classical pianist whose ‘Eta Carina’ album impressed me so much last year) has two London concerts coming up in the first fortnight of the month. The second’s likely to be an all-access crowd-pleaser. Given its charity fundraiser status, I’m not sure whether the first is likely to feature or indulge any of Olga’s intriguing conceptual preoccupations with Scriabin, Busoni, cosmology and early twentieth century consciousness, but even if it isn’t it’s a great opportunity to see a fine musician at work in a grand location.

Olga Stezhko charity piano recital in aid of Friends of the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (St Pancras Parish Church, Euston, London NW1 2BA, Thursday 4th June, 1:15pm – 2:00pm)

Programme not revealed – free admission, donations requested.

EC4 Music in aid of The Prince’s Trust (Barbican Hall, Tuesday 9th June, 7:30pm – 9:30pm)

The choir and orchestra of London-based EC4 Music return for their seventh fundraising concert in aid of The Prince’s Trust with a stirring selection of music from both sides of the Atlantic.

Programme:

Leonard Bernstein – Overture from ‘Candide’
Aaron Copland – Appalachian Spring
George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
Vaughan Williams – Serenade to Music
Leonard Bernstein – Chichester Psalms
Eric Whitacre – Water Night
Hubert Parry – Blest Pair of Sirens

Performers:

EC4 Music Choir and Orchestra
Tim Crosley – conductor
Olga Stezhko – piano
Claire Seaton – soprano
Roderick Morris – countertenor
Thomas Herford – tenor
Adam Green – baritone

Tickets available here – prices from £10.00 – £35.00 plus booking fee.

Some of London’s most active art-rockers are brewing up a free Zappa homage in Croydon at around the same time. Details below:

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The Spiders of Destiny play Frank Zappa (The Oval Tavern, 131 Oval Road, Croydon, CR0 6BR, Saturday 6th June, 8:30pm)

Great googly moogly! On June 6th, nine-piece tribute band Spiders Of Destiny come to The Oval Tavern to play a marathon set of music by the late, great Frank Zappa. Featuring world class performers with a sense of humour from notable prog/alternative bands such as: Knifeworld, Perhaps Contraption, Pigshackle, Medieval Baebes, The Display Team, Hot Head Show, Poino, Spiritwo, First, A Sweet Niche and more. So polish up your zircon-encrusted tweezers, trim your poodle, learn the mudshark dance and join us as we propagate the conceptual continuity instigated by one of the masters of modern music.

More info here – this gig is FREE ENTRY but there will be a donations jug doing the rounds during the intermission.

book-bowiespianomanAnyone with an interest in David Bowie, rock history, cabaret, electropop and all of the other things that get swept up into Bowie’s art should head to Soho on Thursday 11th June for A Bowie Night at Gerry’s Club, at which pianist and writer Clifford Slapper launches his book ‘Bowie’s Piano Man: The Life of Mike Garson‘ (which also has its own Facebook page).

As well as readings and signings there will be performances of Bowie songs from avowed fans Danie Cox (from “flock-rockers” The Featherz), Ray Burmiston (of ’80s heroes Passion Puppets), club siren Katherine Ellis (Freemasons, Ruff Driverz, Bimbo Jones etc.) and acoustic singer Jorge Vadio. There’ll also be a performance from a longtime ‘Misfit City’ favourite – London balladeer, Brel translator and onetime ‘Pirate Jenny’s’ host Des de Moor, who’ll presumably be singing his Bowie-gone-chanson interpretations from his ‘Darkness and Disgrace’ show. (I’m particularly pleased to see that Des is back onstage. It’s been a long time.)

More on the book below, and more on Gerry’s Club here.

“It is pointless to talk about his ability as a pianist. He is exceptional. However, there are very, very few musicians, let alone pianists, who naturally understand the movement and free thinking necessary to hurl themselves into experimental or traditional areas of music, sometimes, ironically, at the same time. Mike does this with such enthusiasm that it makes my heart glad just to be in the same room with him.” – David Bowie

Mike Garson has played piano on sixteen David Bowie albums, including Aladdin Sane, with his celebrated piano solo on its title track, Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, 1. Outside and Reality. He has also played live with Bowie on countless tours and shows, and remains his most long-standing and frequent band member.

For some time Clifford Slapper has been working very closely with Garson to write a book which explores the life of this extraordinary and eccentric modern musician. It documents in detail how as a pianist he was catapulted overnight from the obscure world of New York’s avant-garde jazz scene to a close and long connection with Bowie. In addition, Garson is recognised as a classical virtuoso, a jazz master and one of the world’s greatest exponents of improvisation. He has also recorded and performed live with other rock legends such as the Smashing Pumpkins and Nine Inch Nails. All of this is covered by this first ever biography of Mike Garson.

Its starting point was several days of in-depth and frank conversation with Garson himself, and covers a wide range of themes which will be of interest to all Bowie fans, but also to anyone with a passion for music, social history or the process of creative inspiration. Input has also come from many interviews with those who have worked with him over the years, including Earl Slick, Trent Reznor, Sterling Campbell, Reeves Gabrels, Dave Liebman and many others.

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End-of-May gigs (mostly London) – Bank Holiday weekenders from Daylight Music and SmileAcoustic; a mixed-classical benefit for Nepal; Knifeworld again; fun and frolics underneath the arches with John Ellis and co.

22 May

Just because I’m likely to be stuck indoors for the next fortnight doesn’t mean that you have to be. Some interesting gigs are coming up in – mostly in London, I’m afraid – but just in case any of you are London-based, here are some ideas to see you through until June.

First of all, there are two free Daylight Music events over the weekend. Running eclectic free gigs that span from cosy to experimental, and from classical to folk to noise-pop, Daylight Music have been a Misfit City favourite for a long time. See here for reviews of previous events in September and October 2013 and in January 2014; and see below for details on the upcoming concerts…

Join us for a weekend of music with artist travelling from Los Angeles, Wales and Spain to dazzle you. And while you’re reading this, have a listen to a special mix by Ex-Easter Island Head.

Daylight Music 190: Winter Villains + Poppy Ackroyd + Jon DeRosa (Union Chapel – Saturday 23rd May, midday to 2pm)

The new Spring Season kicks off with a name to watch; Poppy Ackroyd is a classically trained pianist and violinist who weaves delicate, atmosphere music by manipulating and multi-tracking sounds from just those two instruments. On the same week, you can hear Cardiff’s Winter Villains and their intricate chamber pop music (the duo were nominated for the Welsh Music Prize in 2013) and Jon DeRosa from the USA, whose new album ‘Black Halo’ is out via Rocket Girl on 25 May. Hannah Lawrence plays some usual and some unusual melodies on the Henry Willis organ in between this week. Full details here.

Colleen with Ex-Easter Island Head (LSO St Luke’s – Sunday 24th May 7.30pm)

A double bill of musicians renowned for manipulating your expectations as much as they do their instruments; creating hypnotic minimalist music from simple arrays of strings, percussion and even just vocals. Colleen mixes acoustic instruments with electronic sampling techniques to create rhythmic, lyrical folk-pop songs. Her new album Captain of None will focus on a melodic repertoire, with fast-paced tracks rooted by prominent bass lines and her instruments of choice, the treble viola da gamba and her voice. Liverpool-based Ex-Easter Island Head turn the electric guitar on its head, to compose physical, droning soundscapes.

Next up, on Bank Holiday Monday there’s an afternoon-and-evening free concert in Bethnal Green, promoted by unplugged specialists Smile Acoustic (who are new to me, but seem very welcoming). Far too many different acts to summarize quickly – although I do recognise Matt Finucane, who first came to my attention doing anti-pop with Empty Vessels years ago and who’s now matured (though he probably wouldn’t use the word) into a sinister songwriter and a horror/science fiction writer. Read on…

SmileAcoustic: Tasting Menu Bank Holiday Special (Rich Mix – Monday 25th May, 4pm onwards)

Smile Acoustic has been making many friends, and all our friends seem to make great music… so we thought it high time for a get together. An extra long weekend requires extra entertainment after all! So we present a feast of flavours, in our first ever Tasting Menu. Full information here.

4pm – Prash Gor, Kirsten McClure, Lauren Lucille, Matt Finucane, Dave Santos, Gian Luca, Mark Harrison, Jeremy of The Green Rock River Band, Horatio James

7pm – Bellatrix, Camilo Menjura, Arthur Lea

Yes we’re cramming in a ridiculous amount of talent into an additional late afternoon show, as well as our usual evening gig. An incredible array of original songsters will be gracing the stage, with a line up that takes us all the way from banjo to beatbox. Free entry as ever, as is the cake. See you there!

On Friday 29th May, in west London, UK Music for Nepal are putting on a classical music benefit aiming to raise ten thousand pounds for the victims of the earthquake. It’s mostly performances of Romantic and Baroque work (by Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Bach, Liszt and Fauré), but with a few outbreaks of early twentieth century modernism via some Scriabin pieces, plus a world premiere of a new piano work by composer Keith Burstein (a onetime Romantic Futurist and still an ongoing champion of latterday tonal music – see here for a long-ago review of his first String Quartet). It’s also got a striking array of performance talent – see below…

Gala Concert for Nepal @ St Barnabas Church, Ealing, May 29th 2015
Gala Concert for Nepal (St Barnabas Church, Ealing, London, Friday 29th May, 7.30pm)

Programme:

Johann Sebastian Bach – Chorale Prelude “Nun Komm die Heiden Heiland” BMV 659
Frédéric Chopin – Polonaise-fantaisie in A flat major, Op.61
Gabriel Fauré – Sicilienne, Op.78
Gabriel Fauré – Élégie, Op.24
Aleksandr Scriabin – Etude in D# minor Op.8 No12
Aleksandr Scriabin – Nocturne for Left Hand
Sergei Rachmaninov – Cello Sonata in G minor, Op.19
Franz Liszt – Consolations, S.172
Sergei Rachmaninov – Prelude in G minor Op. 23 No. 5
Johannes Brahms – Variations on a theme by Paganini (Book 1)
(and a world premiere by composer Keith Burstein)

Performers:

Alicja Fiderkiewicz, Carlo Grante, Artur Pizarro, Murray McLachlan, Viv McLean, Nico de Villiers, Keith Burstein – piano
Corinne Morris – cello

Tickets available here – prices from £20.00 to £50.00.

Also on Friday 29th May there’s the latest London gig by Knifeworld, part of a five-date English tour also taking in Manchester, York, Bristol and Brighton (as mentioned a few posts back). Expect an evening of explosive, tuneful and corrugated art rock played with the vigour of a soul revue and the complexities of a ’70s prog band. For the York gig, they’re supported by motorik rockers Muttley Crew and for the London gig by bounding art-rockers Barringtone (ex-Clor) and Cesarians. The Brighton gig is a Tim Smith benefit gig at which they’re supported by prog-poppers Ham Legion, the mysterious M U M M Y (a brand new project by Cardiacs affiliates Jo Spratley and Bic Hayes) and self-styled bitter and twisted songwriter Stephen Evens (who says of himself that “the songs are beautiful and the words are horrible. I don’t know why you don’t think that’s a good thing…”).

Knifeworld on tour, May 2015

Finally, on Saturday 30th May at 8pm there’s what’s billed as “a night of fun and frolics” at the Wanstead Tap (a craft beer shop in Forest Gate which doubles – or quadruples – as café, bar and performance space). The main attraction is John Ellis (the former Peter Hammill, Stranglers and Peter Gabriel guitarist whom ‘Misfit City’ last encountered via his ‘Sly Guitar‘ album). John’s solo gigs are rare, but he’s something of a master of post-punk art-rock guitar, so well worth seeing. Also on the bill are “post-punk electronic balladeers” Cult With No Name and Kamelia Ivanova (who’s either highly mysterious or needs to fix his or her Facebook page). See below for the flyer.

John Ellis concert @ The Wanstead Tap, 30th May 2015

‘William D.Drake Pawformance’ – Friday 22nd May 2015. London. Schott Music Shop.

22 May

If you’re free and easy in London tonight – and fancy an evening of intriguing piano music – try this. In spite of some of the more ominous language used in the Subba-Cultcha review, Bill’s music is as full of light, flight and green-leafed freshness as it is of strange chords and left-field turns. Fans of post-modernist dissonance, polystylism and mongrel English romanticism will all be well satisfied. As a bonus, you get extra listening pleasure via James Larcombe (of Stars In Battledress and Arch Garrison) fingering one of his collection of tuneful antiques.

William D Drake

yewspawlpcoverGrabwebYou are most warmly invited to an evening performance of ‘Yew’s Paw’ in the intimate surroundings of Schott Music Shop in Central London.

Glass of wine and nibbles will be provided with Mr Drake’s compliments.

Be sure to arrive early to enjoy Mr James Larcombe performing on his marvellous melodeon.

Yew’s Paw is an album of piano pieces written and performed by Mr Drake at his pianoforte, and released in February 2007.

Listen to tracks and buy the album here.

Friday 22nd May 2015.  7.30-9.30pm

Tickets £10 – Buy in person from Schott Music Shop or by telephone 020 7534 0710.

Schott Music Shop (Recital Room), 48 Great Marlborough Street, London. W1F 7BB

‘YEW’S PAW’ – ALBUM REVIEWS

Subba-Cultcha. February 2007 – Jonathan Sebire

‘Yew’s Paw’ consists of thirteen solo piano pieces, a macabre soundtrack that draws forth a huge swell of foreboding and tempered power across its…

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