Talking pub politics with Charlotte Church

Published in Refinery29 on October 17, 2016

No-one would have predicted that the biggest hit at po-faced super-muso festival All Tomorrow’s Parties earlier this year would have been former “voice of an angel” Charlotte Church doing pop covers in a spangly leotard. But this is her latest project – her Late Night Pop Dungeon – and the Welsh singer absolutely smashed it: the crowd went wild for her band covering everything from En Vogue to Joy Division to Nine Inch Nails. Continue reading “Talking pub politics with Charlotte Church”

Review: Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight, Oval House

Published in What's on Stage on October 10, 2016

Let’s just say this now: this was a gig, and this is a gig review. It’s a shift in form that Christopher Brett Bailey – whose last show, the acclaimed This Is How We Die, concluded with noisy guitars – set out in a photocopied handout given to the audience, with earplugs. Continue reading “Review: Kissing the Shotgun Goodnight, Oval House”

Warpaint interview: ‘We don’t need a lead singer but we do need each other’

Published in The i on September 2, 2016

There’s always been a gap between Warpaint, the bouncing live band, and Warpaint, the downbeat foursome of their records. Meeting two of the American dream-pop/psych-rock group – bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg and guitarist Theresa Wayman – they give the impression that both their fans, and the band themselves, have always preferred their more upbeat incarnation. Continue reading “Warpaint interview: ‘We don’t need a lead singer but we do need each other’”

Review: KlangHaus On Air, Royal Festival Hall

Published in What's on Stage on July 13, 2016

KlangHaus: On Air began life in an old animal hospital in Edinburgh two summers ago. Now, it’s arrived at the Royal Festival Hall, and offers a thrilling, sonic trip through a normally hidden roof space of that great brutalist building. Continue reading “Review: KlangHaus On Air, Royal Festival Hall”

On the rise and rise of the city day festival

Published in The Independent on June 29, 2016

You might be forgiven for thinking the UK had hit peak festival: every weekend from May to September offers a chance to lose yourself in a field. All summer long, train carriages are stuffed with damp tents, and newspapers stuffed pictures of girls in wellies. Continue reading “On the rise and rise of the city day festival”

How do you review a suicide note? On Sarah Kane and the myth of troubled women

Published in What's on stage on May 20, 2016

How do you review a suicide note? This was the question asked at the premiere of Sarah Kane’s final play, 4.48 Psychosis, at the Royal Court in 2000 – most famously in Michael Billington’s oft-cited review. With a new opera version about to open, this question is no less troubling today. Continue reading “How do you review a suicide note? On Sarah Kane and the myth of troubled women”

How female artists are turbocharging their live shows

Published in The Independent on March 18, 2016

Record an album. Take it on tour, faithfully performing singles and favourites interspersed with old hits. Sell records. Repeat. That’s the basic formula. But, increasingly, just playing your album live is not enough; we’re seeing a rise in more inventive, odder live shows, that owe a debt to performance art. And it seems to be a particular trend among smart, interesting female artists. Continue reading “How female artists are turbocharging their live shows”

Savages on writing love songs, not drinking, the term ‘strong woman’, and playing Paris after the attacks

Published in The Independent on Sunday on January 10, 2016

Releasing an album of love songs is not the next move anyone expected from Savages. The four-piece burst on to the music scene in 2012, with dark, angry, noisy post-punk; soon winning a reputation for blazingly intense, immersive live shows, the quartet of Ayse Hassan, Fay Milton, Gemma Thompson, Jehnny Beth were as severe as their styling – they dressed all in black – and were duly hailed as the latest saviours of rock’n’roll. Continue reading “Savages on writing love songs, not drinking, the term ‘strong woman’, and playing Paris after the attacks”

Why Welsh language pop is music to our ears

It may be a native tongue of our landmass, but for many in Britain the Welsh language sounds pure tongue-twister. That sing-song tone, that Celtic lilt; the spittle-flecking double-Ls and guttural back-of-throat vowels… And yet Welsh also holds a real fascination – especially when married to that universal language: music. Continue reading “Why Welsh language pop is music to our ears”