THE XX interview – Evening Standard, 25 May 2018

It’s a few days before the Royal Wedding and the gates of Buckingham Palace are surrounded by scaffolding. Yards away, members of the public queue to meet quiz show host Alexander Armstrong. Meanwhile, all anyone wants to talk about is Star Wars.   I’m at Elstree Studios, currently home to Netflix series The Crown and BBC television’s Pointless, where the… Read more →

CIGARETTES AFTER SEX, Brixton Academy – Evening Standard, 25 May 2018

I received a few startled replies when I asked if anyone fancied Cigarettes After Sex in Brixton with me this week. The Texas-formed, Brooklyn-based band have a saucy name that sticks out on those all-important Spotify playlists, and a smouldering, post-coital indie rock sound that suits it precisely. A self-titled debut album from last year has been a word of… Read more →

THE ROLLING STONES, London Stadium – Evening Standard, 23 May 2018

  At a time when a farewell tour would be easy to announce and simply putting their collective feet up would be even easier, there’s satisfaction in seeing The Rolling Stones speeding onwards with no sign of a brake pedal. A strutting, peacocking advert for the joys of working beyond retirement age, the heavily furrowed septuagenarians were as entertaining as… Read more →

ALMA interview – Evening Standard, 18 May 2018

When you’re a singer from a country that hasn’t produced a major pop star before, the normal rules don’t apply. Alma-Sofia Miettinen, who trades as Alma, lives in Helsinki with her parents and is both visually and geographically a very long way from mainstream pop’s glossy perfectionism.   “I never had dreams of being Katy Perry. That’s unreachable for me.… Read more →

SINGING WITH NIGHTINGALES, Barcombe, East Sussex – Evening Standard, 14 May 2018

I am walking in deep darkness through Sussex woodland, part of a shoulder-holding chain of about 25 other audience members, to attempt to hear a singer who’s going to come on very late and may not show up at all. No, not Pete Doherty – Luscinia megarhynchos, the nightingale, who’s just back from Africa and noisily looking for a girlfriend… Read more →

BIG NARSTIE interview – Evening Standard, 11 May 2018

“Please tell the Evening Standard what you saw me do,” Big Narstie asks me. “I smashed this breakfast!”   It’s 2pm in an east London caff and the plus-sized Brixton rapper is prioritising an all-day fry-up over a photoshoot for which he is already late. Five rashers of extra well done bacon, two sausages, double scrambled eggs, toast and apple… Read more →

AURORA interview – Evening Standard, 4 May 2018

Aurora Aksnes has just returned to Norway after a trip to perform at Coachella, the huge music festival in the Californian desert. I’ve rarely met someone so happy to be home. The singer-songwriter, who performs under her first name, didn’t like all the dust, which hurt her eyes, and worried for the plants, which looked so dry. Here in Bergen,… Read more →

JON HOPKINS interview – Evening Standard, 27 April 2018

Most musicians make changes when they begin work on a new album, whether it’s getting a new producer, better instruments, a new bandmate or more inspiring workspace. As he started on a follow-up to his Mercury Prize-nominated 2013 release, Immunity, Jon Hopkins decided to upgrade his brain.   Following two years of touring that breakthrough album, then composing the score… Read more →

ISAAC GRACIE, Hackney Empire – Evening Standard, 27 April 2018

Isaac Gracie’s claims of nerves – a pre-show beer to quell a panic attack, early delivery of a song called Terrified – would have rung a lot truer if he wasn’t dressed in a mostly unbuttoned tropical shirt, bright red flares and stack heels. Here was a man who intended to be looked at. The 23-year-old from Ealing must be… Read more →

NASHVILLE IN CONCERT, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 23 April 2018

While The Greatest Showman’s soundtrack is spending longer topping the charts than the film spent in the cinema, the stars of the TV series Nashville put on a show that suggested that they too could live on as singers more than actors. “We film 10 months out of the year and then they let us out of our cages,” said… Read more →