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?
“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.
On Thursday night I found myself in church. As someone who has been an atheist since starting to read science fiction at the age of twelve, St John’s in Bethnal Green was an unlikely venue for an evening’s entertainment, but William Tyler was playing and a church turned out to be the perfect venue for his beautiful acoustic guitar finger-picking. @williamtylertn
All I knew about the East Pointers upon entering the Lexington last night was that, according to my friend, the lead singer is the most beautiful man she’s ever seen. I don’t feel qualified to give a definitive view on that, although he did have a great hat, but the band were straight out of the top drawer.
This year’s Festive Fifteen, my annual round-up of the best new songs I have had the pleasure of hearing this year, is the product of a multitude of influences. I discovered three of the artists at the wonderful Green Man Festival in Wales. Five tracks reached my ears courtesy of the ever-wonderful BBC Radio 6 (6 Music if you must). Only three were record shop recommendations, probably the smallest total in my decade of Festive Fifteens, and a sure sign that I am not spending enough time in those educational establishments. But that is balanced by the fact that I have enjoyed live shows by more than half of the featured artists – a very healthy state of affairs.