An incident at Malmo station yesterday meant my train to Stockholm was cancelled. I took advantage of an extra night in Copenhagen by going to see The Tallest Man on Earth at the extraordinary new DR Koncerthuset, a venue that looks like a giant cave, hewn out of granite and lined with oak. It turned out to be a magical experience, witnessing a unique performer entertaining with verve and panache.
For a quick trip to radio heaven, listen to Cerys Matthews’ show from 9 June 2019. Jeff Towns of Dylan’s Mobile Bookstore joins Cerys to discuss Idris Davies’ poem ‘The Bells of Rhymney’, which may be the most influential poem you’ve never heard. Documenting life in the South Wales mining villages of the 1920s, and based on Davies’ own experiences of following his father down the pits aged 14, the poem clearly influenced Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milkwood’ (just listen to the start), inspired Woody Guthrie’s ‘Talking Centralia’ (or ‘Talking Miner’), and was put to music by Pete Seeger, only to be covered first by Bob Dylan and then The Byrds.
The Leisure Society are Burton-on-Trent’s finest and Mark Knopfler’s old band, Dire Straits, are rumoured to have played the back room behind Veli’s Kebab Shop in the 1970s. Surely that’s enough of a connection for a joint gig review?
George The Poet just won several British Podcast of the Year plaudits and deservedly so. “Everything you know is a story”, he explains in episode one of ‘Have you heard George’s podcast?’, “like how when I was at school Pluto was a planet”. The main story-tellers of his community – young, black, poor and urban – are rappers. Collectively they now provide the content for a multi-billion pound global enterprise and yet, he laments, their stories of poverty, violence and exclusion aren’t much different from those told by N.W.A. back when George was growing up. Why?
“What am I doing in Dubai?”, asks Aldous Harding at the start of ‘Zoo Eyes’, the third track on her third album, ‘Designer’. It would be a good question for almost anyone, but seems particularly pertinent for a New Zeland born avant-garde singer-songwriter. We never find out the answer, it being Harding’s practice to sing in riddles (a latter section of the song goes something like “I drove my inner child to a show / We talked all the way home / In the nectar”). But if that’s a problem then it is the only one with this perfectly wonderful, constantly inventive, total ear-worm of a record.
I was briefly into performing magic as a kid, inspired by Paul Daniels on the telly if truth be told. A visit to the Wellcome Collection’s fascinating new exhibition, ‘Smoke and Mirrors – The Psychology of Magic’, has re-ignited my interest and reminded me just how malleable the human mind can be.
Los Angeles’ Green New Deal, which I was privileged to join Mayor Garcetti in launching this week, provides a template for a new era of climate leadership. being of Angelenos. It is a strategy to take forward the whole of society and thus moves climate change from a peripheral issue to the central organising principle of government.