The Fallen Heroes @ The King's Head

Baby, shake it!

When The Fallen Heroes play they mean business. That's music in motion – from the front man Ben Martyn grabbing the most stylish girl in the audience for a dance, to the drummer Emile Martyn (who started the band) doing the rounds rhythmically and  banging his baguettes on any possible surface.

The two brothers brought back their heady Bourbon St spirit when they moved home from New Orleans.  Freshening up their Jazzy-Bluesy-Boogie Woogie Southern sound with new material and giving more of an edge to this modern London band.

Playing a great lively mix,  they jazzed up the King's Head and Upper Street passers-by.  Some even popped in to join the crazy dancing crowd.
Covers like Jerry Lee Lewis' Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On and The Ronettes' Be My Baby were given a stomping facelift, with the horn and the keys adding a rich colour to their hit mix.  It's all rhythm and romance with The Fallen Heroes –, in the end you gotta shake it!

Review by Danai Molocha, a.k.a. rockets4solitude, as seen at

Kate Radmilovic and Tuomas Pursio @ St Sepulchre Without Newgate

Some like it (Red) Hot

In almost a century of exhaustively open-minded modernism and fusion madness, we have seen tenors accompanying helicopters (try Stockhausen's Helicopter String Quartet) and sopranos headbaning with metal bands (try Nightwish). Classically trained hunks in smart suits, like Il Divo, now harmoniously carve their way into collective pop mentality.
Adding some earthy sensuality and artistic versatility to an all-time classic repertoire, Red Hot Opera events choose intimacy instead to tap into their audience's senses.
For their “Magical Mix of Opera & Broadway Favourites”, on the evening of the 18 of May, St Sepulchre Without Newgate church provided the atmospheric backdrop. Leading soprano Kate Radmilovic (who recently shined as “Carlotta” in Andrew Lloyd Weber's Phantom of the Opera, among various other operatic engagements) had invited Finnish bass-baritone Tuomas Pursio as her musical companion for the night, in a series of accomplished international guests that join her on occasion.
Wine was added generously in the foyer to ease guests towards some relaxing afterwork chat.
Soon, the soft light emanating from lanterns hanging high in Neil Sheriff's elegant d├ęcor lured everybody into their seats in the main hall, in the mood for music.
Saxophonist Heather Hoyle was in charge of warming up the crowd with an easy-listening mix, comprised of jazz classics like “Take Five”. It was her alluring walk among guests in a long red dress, though, that really turned heads.
Heather's eclectic welcome was a hint that we weren't in for our average opera night.
Kate Radmilovic soon made a dramatic entrance, meeting with Tuomas Pursio on the duet La Ci Darem La Mano from Mozart's Don Giovani, followed by choices, from Faust to Sweeney Todd, that ticked all the boxes for a classy opera night. Our absolute favourite, a cheeky and playful rendition of "Papageno and Papagena", the meeting of two lovebirds from Mozart's Magic Flute. Radmilovic's voice expertly rose goose-bumps, her warm presence also making her tangible to her audience.
But here opera was also paired up with Sani Muliaumaseali's and Jamie Thompson's recitations raising eternally lingering questions on love and heartache; with Camilla Bates' and Dan Holley's flirtatious dances, under the piano accompaniments of Claire Pasquier Wilson; and with some sporadic creatures in masks, that helped to enhance the mystery in St Sepulchre Without Newgate.
Red Hot Opera served the mutual flow and love of all arts, not restricting itself to any one category. There was vocal dexterity and sexy sax, dramatic insight and romantic dancing, a historic regimental flag and Chinese paper lanterns, all in one.
Precious things met with familiar things – and there was always some odd performer appearing out of nowhere, even during the break, making Red Hot Opera something beautiful that you don't just have to look at, but be part of.
An interesting concept that surely needs more space to evolve and tune up, as interlacing multiple arts can be both tricky and complex. But there's a tickling sensation that Red Hot Opera has more to say...

Les Effrontes @ The King's Head

Jazz a la francaise

The music of Les Effrontes (cheeky ones in French!) is accordingly saucy and romantic, witty and playful, balancing the right amounts of relaxing and entertaining melodies on a breezy Sunday night.
Injecting swinging Jazz rhythms into the classic French Chanson of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel, the five Effrontes launched on a journey in time, from the centre of Islington straight to the heart of Paris. They had prepared a naughty bunch of tunes for us workers in denial of the pending Monday morning blues.  From Pink Martini's Je Ne Veux Pas Travailler (“I Don't Want To Work”) to Tom Wait's Temptation, via Joe Dassin's Champs Elysees and, naturally, Edith Piaf's Je Ne Regrette Rien.
Compared to the band's joyful rhythmical accompaniment, French/American vocalist Tiffany Schellenberg was a relatively low key presence as front-woman. But her smoky voice fully unravelled at the risky high notes, alternating in the lead role with Ian Bailey's cheery saxophone.
Les Effrontes are out there touring London pubs. Climb on board for their next nostalgic adventure. (watch the listing for more...) Oh la la..

Review by Danai Molocha, a.k.a. rockets4solitude, as seen at

Thrush Metal, Cerebral Ballzy @ The Macbeth

The Nuts & The Ball-zy


Nice combo. Lots of kids slamming it with hardcore punk, no wave, indie and jumpy ska sounds, providing us visitors with a fairly enjoyable (often in a sick, distorted way) evening.

We saw some head-banging and some crowd-surfing, some plain plaid shirts and baggy T-shirts coming off to reveal cutsy laced bras. No objection here.

Where we do, however, object, is nowhere really seeing all that bad ass energy channelling towards a band's originality.

We like young lads  feeding off their idols, musically (though we do object to the concept of idols itself); but one's you're done with your basic compulsory sonic breast-feed, why not shake off the attachment? Why repeat an era, and not create your own?

Cerebral Ballzy are probably too addicted to the idea that they're 21st century's Bad Brains, therefore too afraid to explore what else's in it for them - and they sure create a fussy whirlwind of a show to make us think there could more.

And Thrush Metal... We liked the girls' unconventionally rock repertoire, but their we-don't-give-a-fuck attitude could be more convincing. Bringing back The Runaways' or The Silt's subversively sexy/ballsy rock in 2011 is hardly a revolutionary act.

How about getting to grips with the fact that what is done, girls rebelled and girls won. We've "shown them"; it's time we showed them more.

What really proves a band's guts, in a time where every musician's out to become the next rich and famous - aiming for posterity, before they even create a present, sensationalising, before they even feel music's sensation themselves - is to HELL WITH ALL THAT!

Be yourselves.

The Lucky Strikes @ Core Arts


The party started early on Friday night at Core, with live bands (such as Hackney-bred folkies Troubadour Rose) gradually warming up the spacious room for the evening's headliners, The Lucky Strikes. Their new album Gabriel Forgive My 22 Sins, gave us good enough reason for celebration.

Interweaving traditional folk sounds from their native fish village Leigh-on-Sea and classic Blues/Rock/Americana influences, from Leadbelly to Neil Young, The Lucky Strikes' music switched from the emotive power of a protest song to the pure fun of a local shindig.  The band's heroes were, without a doubt, spiritually and musically present.

Despite the temporary absence of their fifth member (Wild Jim Wilson in the fiddle and the banjo), Mat Boulter's strong timber and Dave Giles passionate guitar, keys and accordion combined with Paul Ambrose's bass and Will Bray's drums, brought their rich, uplifting collection of old and new songs into full effect. A lot of the songs were an early preview of their next album.

Judging from these songs, The Lucky Strikes have a good few years – and more live parties – lined up ahead of them.

Review by Danai Molocha, a.k.a. rockets4solitude, as published at

Jimmy C & The Blues Dragons @ Round Midnight

Surfing the blues

The blues can hardly get more cheerful than when in the hands of Jimmy C;
The night was set to catch fire. Jimmy gave a Guitar squealing performance, supported by the three other Blues Dragons. 

Slowly warming up the pub with songs from his latest album – a collection of electric, highly energetic blues with a bit of heart felt rock – Jimmy C and his dedicated band started cruising down rock 'n' blues memory lane:  Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, James Brown, Chuck Berry and John Lee Hooker mingled with Chicago blues in a dynamic set that tuned the crowd into a massive sing-along. Then more of Jimmy's truly dexterous guitar tricks, followed by the solo walk of the saxophonist's amongst the swaying fans.
There's no doubt this band could get many more fans – and much bigger rooms – hot into their “Crossroads Boogie”.  But rocking and swinging in the intimacy of a small Islington pub was clearly unbeatable.

Review by Danai Molocha, a.k.a. rockets4solitude, as published at

Band Of Holy Joy @ St. Pancras Old Church

Romantic Punklore 

The Band of Holy Joy – what a delightful enigma! Now reaching their third decade, they continue to form one of the most intriguing, yet underestimated Indie Folk bands that have ever come out of Britain.

The haunting projections by film maker Inga Tillere welcomed the quintet on stage (or should I say altar?) with their combination of vocals, guitar, bass, drums and electric fiddle (the latter being especially characteristic of the band's sound), against a crowd of long-time initially timid fans, potentially intoxicated mates and jolly toddlers - all of which eventually joined their majestic dance.

The full-on dramatic energy was soon followed by lyrically eloquent ballads, surprisingly reminiscent of the impending darkness that prevails in cult bands like Current 93.
photography: Danai Molocha
Frontman Johnny Brown's passionate delivery went hand-in-hand with Chris Brierley's electric violin, bringing to light their new single “Oh What A Thing This Heart Of Man”.  Radically romantic “Punklore”, “I Dreamt That The City Was On Fire”, “Evening World Holiday Show”, “Fredda Cunningham” were also there.
Having resisted both Punk's sarcastic anger and Folk's easily digested poetic Soul, they have coalesced into eclectic musicianship and politically charged lyricism.  Which has left them in a place of their own – and it's as good as it gets.

Review by Danai Molocha for

The Oscillation @ Rough Trade East

Just a few days ago, I put on my headphones and played The Oscillation's latest album Veils (the second one in line). That moment gave birth to my desire (along with some drumming butterflies in my belly) to see them live. Little did I know that my wish would so quickly come true. Thursday, May 5th, The Oscillation hit the Rough Trade East stage to give us a fresh (and free) taste of their latest sonic panorama.
A lively palette of psychedelic colours took over the background, projecting those earlier butterflies from my belly to the wall opposite me. And then the band religiously took their place behind the keyboard, the bass, the drums, the guitar and started to add notes to the colourful dance deploying before us.
Ranging from The Stone Roses' drugged vocals to The Verve's more esoteric dragged jams (at least those are the references that kept ringing in my head in this particular set), the band proved it possesses maturity, sophistication and the ability to lose themselves in the music. 
Unfortunately, though, without always taking us with them. When they were clearly loving what they were doing, I felt a distance building between them and the audience (maybe it's the latter to blame, as it invariably kept a few feet of safety from the stage since the very beginning). Despite the power of sound (both in volume and in craftsmanship) a wall stopped the feeling right in front of them.
I wouldn't judge them from this one gig, though. 
First of all, the word of mouth that they have built a fanbase around the world thanks to those powerful live moments has convinced me that there's more to it, yes. 
Secondly, just seeing a band that favours its' inner journey rather than a pompous and vacant stage presence is still a winner. 
photography: Danai Molocha
And thirdly, I was there under those huge headphones, I listened carefully to the sounds (the way I had with their promising debut) - the drones, the melodies, the esoteric and the outgoing, and there's definitely a foursome that knows how to take care of its music. If that sometimes happens at our own expense, we forgive them.

Interview - Rufus Wainwright: "I'm David to Lady Gaga's Goliath"

I got in touch with Rufus just a few hours before Prima Donna (his first opera work) premiered in London, eager to steal a little piece of his mind on the recent controversial reviews, his latest CD release [All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu] and his tumultuous upbringing, all the way backwards to his cherished icon of teenage sexual awakening, Judy Garland. The recent loss of his mother [the Canadian singer/songwriter Kate McGarrigle] often covers his voice with a discreet veil of melancholia, but he sure laughs a lot. Primarily, with his own self.

Do you feel nervous getting ready to face the discerning British audience?
Well, I've enjoyed the ride so far...The experience remains something beautiful, but it's time to let Prima Donna take its course. I've been rehearsing All Days Are Nights: Songs For Lulu at the same time, and I have to say that makes me way more nervous! Staying alone with my piano feels much harder than playing with an orchestra or a band.
Prima Donna divided the critics, to say the least. Do you feel that it was a satisfactory attempt on your part?
It came out exactly the way I wanted it. I'm very satisfied with the production. It was received with a standing ovation, the audience applauded enthusiastically. A big part of the audience had never been to the opera before – and that is always a good thing. Look at Verdi's or Wagner's first operatic attempts – and Prima Donna, of course, stands right up there with them [laughs]! Well, you could at least say that it's way better than Verdi's first attempt [no laughs]. We all have to start somewhere... The orchestra and the singers say that they love performing my music and that's all that counts in the end.
All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu is a minimalist work. Did you conceive it as an answer to Prima Donna's operatic baroque?
They both came naturally. It's in my nature to constantly question myself: “Are you really that good or is there a hidden trick there somewhere?”. Writing on my piano has been a real challenge. And it happened at a time when some catalytic events dominated my life, whether that was my first opera, my mother's deteriorating health, or my collaboration with Robert Wilson [Rufus and the acclaimed avant garde director staged Shakespeare in Brecht's theatre in Berlin]. The creative rush has been amazing – and, sometimes, also very traumatic. My piano became my only refuge, my cocoon, a place where I could retreat alone with everything that was happening at the moment in my life. Like a good sword, it had two sharp edges! I had to put a lot of strength behind this solo album.
Could you say creativity was for you a sort of therapy? Is music a medicine?
The role of music as medicine worries me: Sometimes it makes you even crazier than you used to be! What I know for sure is that from where I'm standing right now – and this has to do with my mother, above all I have to move on. Music is the vehicle that helps me to go through the sadness and lifts me up. Music carries all my emotions with it. It's very helpful in a lot of ways, but it's only a vehicle. It's not a magic potion that will chase all the nightmares away.
Both your parents are famous folkies [father Loudon Wainwright III is also a respected singer/songwriter] and that immersed you into music from a very early age. When did you first feel that you have come into your own?
A catalytic event, that helped me find my voice musically, was accepting my homosexuality, somewhere around the age of 14. When I realized without a doubt that I was gay, becoming part of the folk scene was no longer a piece of cake – you know, the planet Bob Dylan, where my parents lived, was a heterosexual world above all. I ended up doing more “devilish” things: singing Nina Simone, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Judy Garland. I felt the need to identify with much more feminine, romantic, mythical characters, as opposed to the very pedestrian, macho folk and rock 'n' roll music.
A lot of people say that poor economic conditions go hand in hand with poor creativity. How are things looking to you from the inside in the current state of financial affairs?
I have to say I admire Lady Gaga for her direct attack on the world of music commerce and the way she managed to capture everyone's attention in one fleeting second. You have to give her that! On the other hand, my own idols are much more human and vulnerable. I want my music to be David to Lady Gaga's Goliath... Well, I don't think that'll be too successful! But anyway, I just hope that, many years from now, my last album will be a point of reference for singer/songwriters to say that something different was happening back then. 
You have won a lot of awards, but lately it's been common knowledge that very few of the winners actually deserve them. How much of a reward are they to you personally?
Well, my father waited till 2010 to win a Grammy and he's sixty-three. He's been waiting his whole life. I suppose something similar will happen to me... Life begins at sixty!

Interview by Danai Molocha for Athinorama weekly, Athens, Greece, June 2010