Two Grey Rooms

My favourite Joni Mitchell song (though, thankfully, no-one’s forcing me to choose) is from the 80s. ‘Two Grey Rooms’ is about a narrator who rents a flat so that they can watch somebody walking to work, someone who used to be their lover, though he or she looks to be too young. You look so youthful/time has been untruthful/heaven knows, I loved you thirty years ago. Joni once told the LA Times the song was inspired by a story from the youth of the German film director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. It’s a story of obsession… about this German aristocrat who had a lover in his youth that he never got over. He later finds this man working on a dock and notices the path that…

2018: The Sleeve Notes

It’s that time of year again. This is the thirtieth year in which I’ve made a best of the year compilation (on cd since 2000) to send out to friends instead of a card, and, for half that time, I’ve also written some online sleeve notes, updating approximately daily from today until New Year’s Eve. I haven’t posted this year’s out yet, so if you’re one of our regular recipients and don’t want spoilers, look away. It’s been a good year. I could have easily filled two cds worth of great stuff (I know somebody who sends out three) but selection and sequencing is all. I’ve broken a couple of my self-imposed rules this year. I’ll explain that and discuss what I couldn’t find space…

All Saints & The Human League – Nottingham

Forgot to post for all of November, so here’s a double gig review to make up. I yield to nobody in my love for a good Girl Group and, when I didn’t get the Post review slot (Rachel did a good job here) and couldn’t persuade anyone to go with me, I went to see All Saints at Rock City alone. Not quite sold out, and I got a good spot near the front, as the photo above shows. Their new album’s OK, and I was pleased that they included the best song from their last album, which made it onto our 2016 best of compilation. (which reminds me, this year’s sleeve notes will begin to appear later this week). More to the point, their band…

Kacey Musgraves – Oh, What A World, Nottingham Royal Centre, October 26th, 2018

This review was written for the Nottingham Post. Now and then an act plays the Concert Hall you know you’ll never get to see there again. They’re destined for arenas and bigger. Tonight, Kacey Musgraves joins that short list. After some small, self-recorded releases and two mainstream country albums with sassy lyrics, the thirty-year-old broke through to another level with this year’s Golden Hour, as glorious a set of country-pop as you’ll hear. Until today’s release of Robyn’s Honey, it was the pop album of the year, no contest. No wonder the Royal Concert Hall is packed. Dancing Queen and Staying Alive preface the thirty-year-old star’s arrival. The staging is elaborate, with a large three fan backdrop and raised area where the Texan stands, hidden…

RICHARD THOMPSON TRIO, NOTTINGHAM ROYAL CENTRE 18.10.18

  ‘We’ll get to all those classics you’ve driven a hundred miles to hear a little later…’ There are two kinds of Richard Thompson fan: those who prefer his electric tours and those who enjoy him most playing solo acoustic. Nottingham used to get his acoustic tours, but his visits this century have been with a band. You’ve had to travel to see him solo, though it’s always worth the journey. The last one I saw was ten months ago, in Sheffield, where he was touring Acoustic Classics. Yet, while Thompson is one of our greatest songwriters, he’s also one of our greatest, most distinctive guitarists. Band shows allow him to solo and stretch out. He must love playing them, because the prices are the…