Tag: 2019

TONES AND I interview – Evening Standard, 20 Dec 2019

I break off my interview with Toni Watson halfway through to ask if she’s okay, or if she’d prefer to stop and do something else. Sitting backstage in a pub venue on a sofa raised on beer kegs, so that her legs dangle innocently like a child on a wall, she sounds as if she’s about to start crying. I’ve… Read more →

20 ALBUMS OF THE DECADE – Evening Standard, 13 Dec 2019

As the decade closes, it’s obvious who the biggest acts were. Since the ready availability of YouTube and Spotify stream counts, this period has been awash with gargantuan statistics, principally generated by Ed Sheeran and Adele but with Taylor Swift, Drake and Ariana Grande also making up the big numbers. But what music was so good it will genuinely last?… Read more →

STORMZY ‘Heavy is the Head’ album review – Evening Standard, 13 Dec 2019

You can tell how big a deal Stormzy’s second album is not just by its timing – intent on using those size 12s to boot Robbie Williams, Harry Styles or Coldplay out of the Christmas number one spot – but by the power of the gathered horns that form the backing for the opening song, Big Michael. It’s a mighty… Read more →

MICHAEL BUBLE, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 10 Dec 2019

‘Tis the season for Michael Bublé. The Canadian balladeer’s 2011 Christmas album sold 12 million copies and is as vital a part of the season as knowing what time the Queen’s speech is on. So it was the perfect time for him to drop down the O2’s chimney and throw a few snowy songs into his usual array of swinging… Read more →

AITCH interview – Evening Standard, 6 Dec 2019

Aitch is an hour and a half late to meet me because he says he’s having an emergency at the barber’s. This seems unlikely given that the teenage rapper’s hair is generally putting green short, but when he finally shows up at his management’s office – a chilly shipping container on a Manchester industrial estate – he explains. During a… Read more →

LA ROUX interview – Evening Standard, 29 Nov 2019

Elly Jackson has a lot to say. The musician, who trades as La Roux, talks for half an hour longer than our intended interview slot, then carries on for another 20 minutes after I’ve turned off the dictaphone. When we finally wrap up, she looks out of the window of her publicist’s Brixton office to see that she’s been up… Read more →

BEST MUSIC BOOKS OF 2019 – Evening Standard, 28 Nov 2019

Writing a memoir has become as predictable a part of a pop career as playing your best album track-by-track on tour and consuming more drugs than the South Wing of St Thomas’ Hospital. This year a few musicians indicated that, as album sales figures fade, this typing lark isn’t just a one-off. Dance producer Moby and Suede’s frontman Brett Anderson… Read more →

CIGARETTES AFTER SEX interview – Evening Standard, 22 Nov 2019

Among my range of hard-hitting interview questions, I don’t think I’ve previously been cheeky enough to ask someone if they’ve ever had sex while listening to their own music, but Greg Gonzalez does rather invite the enquiry. The Texan musician called his band Cigarettes After Sex, then set about making two albums of foggy, post-coital indie guitar songs that sound… Read more →

BJÖRK, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 20 Nov 2019

An artist’s first arena appearance is usually an indication that they’re at their commercial peak, fully in the mainstream with enough hits to fill 90 minutes or more. For Björk, making her inaugural visit to the O2 at 53, it was an opportunity to display the world of her most recent album on the grandest scale. Anyone hoping to hear… Read more →

BJÖRK interview – Evening Standard, 15 Nov 2019

Björk at the O2 Arena is a concept that might have made more sense in the Nineties, if only the venue had existed. That was when the Icelandic musician was making platinum-selling albums, her startling, vaulting voice front and centre in pop culture. Today the mainstream is a distant memory as the 53-year-old, together with her recent close collaborator, the… Read more →