Archive for May, 2008

New Paul Weller interview

May 9, 2008

Celebrating his 50th birthday and promoting 22 Dreams, his highly praised new album (due on 26 May), Paul Weller is treated to a full-length interview in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:







Gerry Smith

Dance music for grown-ups

May 8, 2008

Whenever I hear dance/electronica, I like it.  Basement Jaxx, Moby and Dizzee Rascal ring my bell.  I don’t know much about the genre, though, so I’m finding the current issue of Mixmag magazine very useful. 

Celebrating its 25th birthday, the dance monthly profiles “the 25 biggest names in electronic music: Daft Punk, Fatboy Slim, Basement Jaxx, LCD Soundsystem, The Prodigy, Moby, Mylo, Richie Hawtin, Roisin Murphy, Dizzee Rascal, Paul van Dyk, Goldie, Sven Vath, Felix Da Housecat, Erick Morillo, Sasha, Faithless, Underworld and more”.


If, like me, you mistakenly chose to ignore an important strand of contemporary music, and now want to catch up, the current issue of Mixmag is for you – it’s a shopping list compiled by experts.



Gerry Smith

FREE! Music for grown-ups on air in the next seven days

May 7, 2008

Over the next seven days, I hope to catch/record some wonderful music for grown-ups on TV/radio:


Wed 7 May

1200/2045 Schubert’s later work, Composer Of The Week – BBC Radio 3

(3/5, continues Thurs-Fri)


Fri 9 May

2100 Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan (Series 2) – BBC 6 Music

2200 Kings Of Cool – The Classic Crooners – BBC Four

2230 Jack De Johnette, Jazz Library – BBC Radio 3

2330 Bill Frisell, Jazz on 3 – BBC Radio 3


Sun 11 May

1300 Bach In Leipzig, Early Music Show – BBC Radio 3



Gerry Smith

Roberto Alagna, Barbican: disappointing

May 5, 2008

Well, you can’t win ‘em all. 


After a run of outstanding gigs, I expected another at London’s Barbican on Friday.  After all, Roberto Alagna is one of my favourite tenors.  And the programme was entirely Verdi.  The omens were good.


And if you went by the delirious reaction of the pension-age faithful, this was an Earth-shattering gig.  As the doe-eyed fan proudly confessed to me after the gig: “Roberto’s marvellous … he can do no wrong… “.


Despite my predilection for the singer – I’ve always been impressed by Alagna at Covent Garden, and warm to his easy, affable Sicilian  manner (he acts more like a Palermo midfield ball-winner than a precious keeper of the operatic flame) I felt Friday’s concert gig was well below the standard of other recent concert stagings I’ve seen, notably Bartoli and Fleming.




1.    setlist – some poorly chosen Verdi

2.    use of full orchestra and choir – Alagna had to compete with well over 100 other musicians on stage; at times, he was drowned out

3.    orchestra and choir had too many songs, sans Alagna

4.    performance – some of his tempi and pitch were hit and miss; he seemed to pull out of a few top Cs

5.    the singer’s shameless guying to the crossover popopera audience

6.    the fourth encore – a Sicilian pop song devoted to his lovely wife Angela, seated in row 10 – he will love her till he dies, apparently.  FerChrissakes, Roberto!


I really wanted to dig this gig, but it left me disappointed, despite four encores. It won’t stop me booking for Alagna every time he appears at the Royal Opera House, though.



Gerry Smith

Beck touring Europe/US

May 1, 2008

The year 2008 is turning into an annus mirabilis for gigs by great musicians for grown-ups.


I’m regularly ticking off people I’m keen to see.  Last week: Bjork.  Tomorrow: Roberto Alagna.  Coming soon: Leonard Cohen.


And I’ve just booked to see the wonderful Beck (Hansen) at Southampton Guildhall on Tuesday 1 July.  (He’s also playing Manchester and London, plus continental European and US dates.) 


It doesn’t get much better than this!



Gerry Smith