Live reviews

The Great Folk Jukebox, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 7 May 2011

[by Ken Hunt, London] The Great Folk Jukebox was billed as “A Tribute to Singing Englishmen with Marc Almond, Bishi, Green Gartside, Bella Hardy, Robyn Hitchcock, Lisa Knapp, Oysterband & June Tabor” (with, as the Oysters’ John Jones quipped, “the beast that is Bellowhead” – nine thereof – as house band). The ‘Singing Englishmen’ part was a doffing of the cap to a Festival of Britain concert held on 1 June 1951.

8. 8. 2011 |

Piotr Wyleżoł Quintet with Adam Pierończyk & David Dorůžka, Purcell Room, London, 30 May 2010

[by Ken Hunt, London] Nigel Kennedy’s late May 2010 flourish, his Polish Weekend at the Southbank Centre, brought together an array of Polish jazz and musical talent that included Kennedy’s Orchestra of Life (playing Bach and Ellington), Robert Majewski, Anna Maria Jopek and Jarek —mietana. Tucked away in the early Sunday afternoon slot was the Piotr Wylezol Quintet. A relatively recent development, aside from the band’s pianist-leader, it comprised Krzysztof Dziedzic on kit drums and Adam Kowalewski on double-bass, their fellow countryman Adam Pieroeczyk on soprano and tenor saxes and the Czech composer David Dorůžka on electric guitar.

25. 7. 2011 |

Marry Waterson and Oliver Knight, Royal Oak, Station Street, Lewes, Sussex, 5 May 2011

[by Ken Hunt, London] The Royal Oak is home to one of the finest folk clubs in the south of England. It epitomises so much about the English folk club set-up. It takes place on Thursdays while not far away the Elephant & Castle at White Hill in Lewes hosts the weekend Lewes Saturday Folk Club. The Royal Oak’s guests regularly include the cream of established of artists. Between March and May 2011 bills featured Tom Paley, Martin Carthy & Chris Parkinson, Jez Lowe and Tim Laycock as the main guests. Yet it is one of those clubs, like Sheila Miller’s Cellar Upstairs folk club in Camden in north London, like Sheila Miller’s Cellar Upstairs folk club in Camden in north London, that balances established and new acts so well. This night the honours fell to Marry Waterson and Oliver Knight.

16. 5. 2011 |

An Evening of Political Song, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London, 17 June 2010

[by Ken Hunt, London] An Evening of Political Song, explained the Southbank literature, “drew upon a rich history of political song” before, sigh, spoiling things slightly by lamely billing this night in Richard Thompson’s Meltdown as “a night of songs in the key of revolution and protest”. Still, mustn’t grumble, ‘political song’, as dictionary definitions go, is about as precise as ‘folk song’ in its handy one-size-fits-all solution to issues that just won’t go away.

20. 12. 2010 |

Ali Akbar Khan: Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 7 April 2003

[by Ken Hunt, London] Ali Akbar Khan shuffled on stage with a walking stick, reasonable given he was one week away from 81. By night’s end, all memories of the frail character that had mounted the dais at the concert’s beginning had vanished. Swapan Chaudhuri, one of the most exceptional tabla players alive, provided the percussive accompaniment – a job a bit like catching eels with bare hands. He has an uncanny knack of being able to match and bat back this sarodist’s glorious spontaneity. Alam Khan was the second, junior sarodist but he coped brilliantly with his father’s senior waywardness.

21. 6. 2010 |

Leonard Cohen, Mercedes-Benz World, Weybridge, England, 11 July 2009

[by Ken Hunt, London] Say you woke up one morning and the smell wasn’t coffee but the stench of something having gone off. What would you do? It happened to Leonard Cohen while he was on retreat at the Mount Baldy Zen Center in southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. With a sheaf of law suits behind him, Cohen’s remedy was to hit the road, drumming up new interest by touring and giving audiences what they wanted. He picked himself up, brushed himself down and started all over again – sensibly chronicling the process with the revenue-injecting CD and DVD Live in London from the O2 venue in London in July 2008.

19. 7. 2009 |

Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys: Barbican Hall, London, 27 May 2009

[by Phil Wilson, London] Dr. Ralph Stanley – as he’s proud to be called these days – isn’t someone you’d necessarily describe as ’82 years young’, but he’s still in great form. There was a precautionary chair on stage at the Barbican, but he only draped his jacket over it, and even for the band members’ solo numbers and the instrumentals he remained standing and merely stepped back to allow them the spotlight.

5. 6. 2009 |

Brass Monkey: The Goose Is Out! DHFC, East Dulwich, London, 15 May 2009

[by Ken Hunt, London] Brass Monkey was a band that unfurled before my eyes. Or so it seemed. From their varied beginnings consolidating in the trio of Martin Carthy, Howard Evans and John Kirkpatrick that performed from January to December 1980 to the establishment of the powerhouse acoustic quintet, Brass Monkey proper, in January 1981 of Carthy, Evans and Kirkpatrick with Martin Brinsford and Roger Williams, their impact was never less than revelatory.

18. 5. 2009 |

Kadri Gopalnath and Ronu Majumdar’s Evolution

[by Ken Hunt, London] One of high-flyingest jugalbandis (duets) in Indian music it has ever been my utter pleasure to witness took place on 25 December 2008. It occurred on the opening day of the 133rd Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan in Jalandhar City in the northwest Indian state of Punjab. It was a North-South jugalbandi. The North was represented by the transverse bamboo flute or bansuri maestro Ronu Majumdar and the tabla virtuoso Ram Das Palsule. The South was represented by the alto saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath and Hari Kumar on the South’s double-headed barrel drum, mridangam.

24. 2. 2009 |

Bang On A Can and Iva Bittová, DeSingel, Antwerpen, Belgium, 17 October 2008

[by Ken Hunt, London] Bang On A Can (BOAC) is an ensemble that blurs the boundaries between rock, the avant-garde and contemporary composition. Their concert in the Blauwe Zaal (‘Blue Room’) at DeSingel – a modernistic complex, founded, so to speak, on the deal that art is the basis and concrete of a culture – featured in its second half the headlining Czech vocalist-violinist Iva Bittová on her own or performing with BOAC. Note the hyphen because she does both at once and sometimes creates a third voice from the two elements in a manner that has to be seen in order to believe.

30. 1. 2009 |

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