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”

The rise of New Year’s Day clubbing

Published in Refinery29 on December 29, 2015

New Year’s Day: hangover chill day on the sofa, with a box set and the leftover Quality Street, watching shit films and bemoaning the fact that you’re starting the year not as your best self… right? Wrong. New Year’s Day is now the perfect occasion… to go clubbing. Continue reading “The rise of New Year’s Day clubbing”

Review: The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, SSE Swalec Stadum

Published in The Independent on December 20, 2015

Only the imagination of Gruff Rhys could have come up with this singular show. He expands his 2007 album Candylion into a psychedelic fable – for all the family! Billed by National Theatre Wales as a “theatre gig”, live music propels the story, with the audience standing or moving about the space. Continue reading “Review: The Insatiable, Inflatable Candylion, SSE Swalec Stadum”

Johnny Flynn, interview: ‘I’m just a glutton for experience’

Published in Evening Standard on November 26, 2015

Johnny Flynn has what you might call a restless creativity. He’s an actor of British theatre, American movies and international sitcoms but a musician too, singing as the frontman of his band The Sussex Wit, scoring BBC4’s Detectorists and composing Renaissance music for Shakespeare’s Globe. He’s even in talks to write his own musical. Continue reading “Johnny Flynn, interview: ‘I’m just a glutton for experience’”

Mogwai interview: zombie drama gives band a new lease of life

Published in The Independent on Sunday on October 25, 2015

The brilliance of French zombie drama The Returned – which has just, well, returned for Series 2 – is its creepy understatement. The deceased don’t gurgle or stagger; they seek out loved ones, and slide eerily back into their lives. Shot at dusk, every scene is spookily half-lit; just right for the half-living. Then there’s the score from Glasgow post-rockers Mogwai: a chillingly effective mix of subtle, icy melodies, ominous ambient electronics and swells of guitar. Continue reading “Mogwai interview: zombie drama gives band a new lease of life”

Anna Calvi interview

Published in The Independent on Sunday on August 16, 2015

When she steps on stage, Anna Calvi is utterly fearless. “It’s the area in my life where I’m the closest to the superhero version of myself,” says the guitarist and singer, currently on tour, with two albums and an EP behind her. “I feel very in control of what I’m doing but at the same time I can really let go… let go of the worry that I have, my anxiety. It’s very cathartic.” Continue reading “Anna Calvi interview”

Beth Jeans Houghton on Du Blonde, her nervous breakdown and industry sexism

Published in The Independent on June 6, 2015

“We were on tour, and I had really bad death anxiety for about five days, and I hadn’t slept, and I was just going insane – I felt like my brain was spilling out of my head.” Beth Jeans Houghton pauses, and adds: “It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.” Continue reading “Beth Jeans Houghton on Du Blonde, her nervous breakdown and industry sexism”