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Magic Moments

PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2014 9:25 pm
by alister prince
Best wishes to all forumistas for 2014.
I was mulling over 'cultural' highlights for 2013 with our son George and we thought that it would be interesting to hear what were SOTWsters. One choice - a gig, recording, book, movie, whatever. Here's mine:
Chastity Brown at The Green Note 12th September.
I was looking forward to this, I like her latest album ('Back Road Highways') and I like The Green Note. It was an even better night than I'd hoped for. The gig was sold out and the atmosphere was buzzy. The venue had put on an extra set the day before and the word was that it was good. From the start Chastity showed she' a non-conformist. Her album is is named after the title of the final track on her previous record; also, not only had she left her band behind in Minniapolis, (she had come with just her , excellent, keyboardist Blair Masters), she'd left her banjo and sax too. She's recognised as being a mean exponent of both. Instead she played guitar and harmonica and accompanied herself on electric piano for one number. For the first minute of the the first number her guitar playing was a bit wobbly, then she hit her stride and away she went, she was good. She's got a great voice, more soulful than on record and a slightly idiosyncratic singing style, fascinating not irritating. Her stage presence is feisty with a droll sense of humour, on occassions very witty. Most of her repetoire was from the album' but she did a variety of other numbers too; several of which were very moving.
If I were to make comparisons, I'd say she's got somthing of Macy Gray about her. It's not tangible, it's her demeanour. But I won't dwell on comparisons, she was brilliant in her own right and even better than her album. The cocktail was superb - Chastity, The Green Note, the crowd, even getting home in the late evening was painless.
Looking forward to your MMs

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:08 pm
by GDP
I'll have to agree with you on that! Chastity Brown was amazing - a definite favourite of the year. Thank you.

Another moment of 2013 for me was seeing Lady Maisery, in sunny Bury. Great harmonies, individual playing and onstage chat.


Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:47 pm
by Jamie Renton
Can I have 2 moments? a pair of gents both well into their 8th decade, both demonstrating the kind of stage presence that would put much younger men to shame:

Freddie Notes at 100 Club (as part of the London International Ska Festival)

Ebo Taylor at New Empowering Church (I couldn't find a clip of that gig, here he is performing on the same tour in Amsterdam)

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:35 pm
by will vine
Circumstances - time, energy, money, location (I wish I lived in London) conspired to make 2013 my least involved year, musically speaking, since I was a teenager. I have bought very few records and been to equally few gigs. I seem to have called off the search for the latest big thing and taken refuge in rediscovering things like The Average White Band's first two albums.Thanks to Norman and Gary though for keeping me somewhat in touch with No Reason.
By chance, about a month ago I picked up a cd in the back of my library truck. Without any great expectations I shoved it in the player. It's not for everyone but it's as close to a magic moment as I got last year. I'm still playing The Jazz Age by The Bryan Ferry Orchestra. Exquisite.

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2014 9:48 pm
by Jamie Renton
Jamie Renton wrote:Ebo Taylor at New Empowering Church (I couldn't find a clip of that gig,

Have now:

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:38 am
by Kari Salonen
I have the same problem as Will. I saw very few gigs last year and bought very few albums (mostly old too). The best gig I saw was by Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and even that was more like putting on a comfy old leather jacket - nothing mind blowing or magic, just extremely nice.

There were two revelations, though, so I am in the same box as Jamie. The first was a recent album by the local jazz/rap project Ricky Tick Big Band & Julkinen Sana. You won't understand what they are on about (mainly just bigging up themselves), but the flow and the swing are seamless:

And the second magic moment was discovering the dhrupad legends Mohinuddin and Aminuddin Dagar. I finally found myself the time (and was in the right frame of mind) to delve into dhrupad a little and to read about the subject. And I found this long live recording by them from 1957.

I loved that Bryan Ferry jazz track, Will. I had heard about the album but I didn't expect it to be instrumental!

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 3:24 pm
by Garth Cartwright
Nice to see Ali and George enjoyed Chastity Brown - I love her album Backroads Highways and would have gone to that Green Note gig had I not been on a plane to Tirana. I intvd her for the Sunday Times and she was very charming. I'd never thought to compare her to Macey Grey before but thinking about it there is a similarity. I'd also suggest a blacker Lucinda Williams - similar blues/country/gospel influences.

Due to my line of work I can blag my way into a lot of gigs which means I go to far more than most people. So I can't single out a single gig. Instead here are a few highlights.

GARY CLARKE JR@The Garage - his album is overproduced but live he is the real thing. A superb blues guitarist!
JERSEY BOYS - I'm a Four Seasons nut so getting to see this musical and it being really, really good made me very happy.
PAUL KELLY@Cardogan Hall - the Aussie singer-songwriter is not well known here but he has written some fine tunes over the decades and with acoustic guitar and piano (and electric guitar accompaniment) he delivered a great set of strong tunes.
JAZZFEST & MARDI GRAS - yes, I was in New Orleans for both and they were mind blowing. Attending a Wild Magnolias Indian rehearsal deep in the ghetto is one of those "unforgettable" experiences. Sadly, I saw Dr John at Tipitinas and he was uninspired, on cruise control. And seeing BB King at Jazzfest was the saddest gig of the year.
ALICE IN CHAINS@Miami - my fave grunge band now have a black singer. They still have the biggest, heaviest riffs. Live they are brilliant. Almost as good as
IGGY & THE STOOGES@Meltdown - Best r&r band on this planet.
ERROL LINTON'S BLUES VIBE@Floridita - where the Marquee once stood is now a Latin theme bar-restaurant. Errol, Adam & co' delivered a beautifully felt set that would have shone alongside Peter Green and Clapton and other Marquee blues folk way back when.
EMILIANA TORRINI@Heaven- one of my discoveries of 2013. I love her album Tookah! Kind of like Kate Bush - just better. Her gig at Heaven found her singing with great beauty.
BOB DYLAN@RAH - 3rd time lucky! Bob was really engaged with the songs, the band played beautifully, the jazzy arrangements of old classics opened them up. A very nice surprise.
ALABAMA 3@Forum - The best live British band going delivered a great, great performance. When on form - like this gig - few bands anywhere match A3.
BIG JOE LOUIS@Ritzy - South London bluesman played a great, great set at my Princes night on Dec 28. A fine musical finale to the year.

Disappointments - seeing both ZZ Top and Bonnie Raitt for the first time, artists I've long had a lot of affection for their 70s work, and finding both rather bland. Oh, Graham Parker's Rumour return was underwhelming too.

Worst gigs - Neil Young & Crazy Horse@O2 (stadium schlock - Spinal Tap levels of awfulness), Dexys (Kevin Rowland should not be let near a stage).

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Wed Jan 08, 2014 11:55 pm
by MartinOwen
Two unique combos in north Wales:

Sekou Keita with Robin Huw Bowen on the triple harp (pre-dating the collaboration with Catrin Finch) Pontio

and Tambeurs de Brazza with the increasingly interesting 9Bach

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2014 2:15 pm
by Gordon Neill
Like so many of us mortals, I don’t get out as much my wife would like me to. I only managed to go to three gigs during 2013. In reverse order:

Andrea Bocelli at the Glasgow Hydro. I did find myself wondering how such a hip guy as me ended up at such a safe middle-of-the-road opera-lite affair as this (the answer is that it was a birthday present for the missus). But, despite myself (and the cringe-worthy appearance of a bunch of schoolchildren to chirp away for a couple of songs), I enjoyed it. The man can sing, he can play the piano, and I recognised many of the tunes.

Bassekou Kouyaté and Ngoni Ba at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. For some reason, this was part of the annual Celtic Connections festival. I’ve no idea why. But I was happy to have the chance to see these guys again. Their gig in Edinburgh in 2009 was one of the best I’ve ever been to. This time around they were fine but, for me, the magic had gone. I subsequently found out that one of the original band members had been replaced by Kouyate’s son. Maybe that explained the lack of rock’n’roll oomph that had so impressed me five years ago.

Yasmine Hamdan at the Bush Hall, London. This was a genuinely terrific gig. Small venue, tight band, strong tunes, and a singer who can actually sing. It wasn’t perfect. She came across for much of the time as a pole dancer without a pole, with lots of wiggling and crotch thrusting. And, for some reason, she felt obliged to carry out minor costume changes in between songs, like an economy Lady Gaga. For one song she’d be wearing high heals, on another she’d take them off. Then she’d wear a scarf, then she wouldn’t, then she’s shove on some sunglasses, etc, etc…. It was all a bit strange. Stranger still were some of the audience, particularly an older chap who’d taken up a central position right at the front. As far as I could tell, he spent the entire evening staring at Yasmine’s crotch (you could see his head moving rhythmically like one of those nodding dogs in the backs of cars). And then I started to worry that I was becoming one of those older chaps. But a wonderful gig, a wonderful singer and, apparently, a wonderful crotch.

As for CDs, I’d have to go for Parov Stelar’s ‘Coco’. Me being me, it’s a few years old. But 2013 was the year that I stumbled over this unexpected gem. There were other great CDs that I discovered during the year (Yasmine Hamdan’s latest effort was fine, but her previous collaboration ‘Arabology’ is terrific; Zaz’s album ‘Zaz’ was another lucky stumble). But for sheer consistency and durability, ‘Coco’ gets the treasured Gordon Neill’s Magic Moment Award. It’s dance music, some of it is electro-swing, and it might struggle to get included as part of the world music world (although I think Parov has appeared at Womad). But the tracks are short, there is a surprising amount of variety and, if you like the stuff, the standard is incredibly high and consistent throughout the double album. As a bonus, there are some terrific vocals from various guest singers. Particularly Lylith on ‘Distance’ doing an uncanny Amy Winehouse sound-a-like. An album I’ve played repeatedly over the past year and, based on comments from friends and visitors, even normal people like it. Surely Parov Stelar must be one of the most impressive artists around at the moment. Magic!

Re: Magic Moments

PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 4:23 am
by NickH
Three 2013 musical highlights spring to mind.

1. Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited entertaining an enthusiastic crowd of indie music fans on the main stage during May's Field Day festival in Victoria Park (

2. Rokia Traore's hugely entertaining, energetic set of songs in Brighton's Corn Exchange in November. A spellbinding version of Billie Holiday's Gloomy Sunday impressed too.

3. The only pop reunion which really mattered in 2013 was the first gig in 20 years by the Len Bright Combo. Sadly it seems that December's Lexington show by Wreckless Eric & co was a one-off event, which is unlikely to be repeated. The YouTube footage confirms that they're still a brilliant live band though (