London gig-goers have somewhat of an embarrassment of riches to select from this week. Several elder statesmen (and women) of alternative rock stop off in the capital to play anticipated shows, whilst artists of lesser years also make welcome appearances. Jeff Tweedy-led heavyweights Wilco play two nights at the Roundhouse on Friday & Saturday in support of latest album The Whole Love, whilst New York alt-country troubadour Ryan Adams promotes his pleasant, if slightly lightweight new album Ashes & Fire at a show at Union Chapel on Thursday. Meanwhile, later in the week PJ Harvey celebrates her recent Mercury Music Prize win by playing the first of a pair of shows at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday. Laura Marling performs songs from her excellent third album A Creature I Don’t Know at Westminster Central Hall on Wednesday whilst Florence & The Machine reveal forthcoming second album Ceremonials at Hackney Empire on Tuesday.
The Barbican hosts Honest Jon’s second annual ‘chop-up’ event on Saturday, pulling together a stellar, disparate line up that features Damon Albarn, Flea, Tony Allen, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Shangaan Electro and Theo Parrish amongst others. It promises to be a genre-hopping night where you could end up hearing everything from Afrobeat rhythms to Detroit techno to breezy New York jazz.
Meanwhile, enigmatic electronic visionaries (and previous Albarn collaborators) Silver Apples play a rare show at Corsica Studios on Thursday. Indeed, it is a strong week for the Elephant & Castle venue with American politicised scuzz-rock outfit White Hills appearing on Monday and prolific Anglo-Dutch experimentalists The Legendary Pink Dots closing the week with a show on Sunday. Elsewhere, The Vortex provides a handful of leftfield offerings with Swedish free-jazz supergroup FIRE! playing two shows with drone merchant Oren Ambarchi on Wednesday and Thursday, whilst the Marc Ribot Trio appear on Friday to cap an equally impressive week for the Dalston venue. Not to be outdone, Cafe OTO offers its usual selection of specialist, non-mainstream shows, the highlight possibly being the two day residency by Joe McPhee & Decoy on Saturday and Sunday, appearing as part of the London International Festival of Exploratory Music that opens this week. Seminal British reggae band (and John Peel favourites) Misty In Roots also help open the festival with a show at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green on Saturday.
Wednesday has a wide-ranging set of gigs to pick from. Touareg desert-rockers Tinariwen play KOKO, dazzlingly multi-lingual outfit Zun Zun Egui play from debut album Katang at the Shacklewell Arms whilst hoarse-throated, guitar sensations Wu Lyf play from their debut album at Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Glasgow quartet Sons & Daughters play a show at Dingwalls in support of latest album Mirror, Mirror and Three Trapped Tigers play from debut album Route One Or Die at The Garage.
The week also has a smattering of gigs by esteemed folk/country artists. English singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich plays Union Chapel on Wednesday in support of debut release Last Smoke Before The Snowstorm, whilst Chris Wood appears at the Slaughtered Lamb on Monday and James Yorkston plays St Matthew’s church in Bethnal Green on Thursday. Lindi Ortega has already picked up several admirers with her alt-country toned songs and she plays the Lexington on Monday to coincide with the release of her debut album Little Red Boots. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum country legend Steve Earle plays a show at the Royal Festival Hall with his band The Dukes.
The 2011 Freeze Festival at Battersea Power Station takes place this weekend and features performances from Groove Armada, The Streets, Everything Everything and Azari & III amongst others.
Other notable picks this week include American trio Why? bringing their grand piano tour to Union Chapel on Monday and Real Estate and Twin Sister playing what should be an enticing double bill at The Garage on Tuesday.
Bon Iver – Hammersmith Apollo – Monday 24th October
Glasvegas – KOKO – Monday 24th October
Ash – Kentish Town Forum – Tuesday 25th October
John Foxx & The Maths / Gazelle Twin – XOYO – Tuesday 25th October
Envy – XOYO – Wednesday 26th October
Veronica Falls – Camden Barfly – Thursday 27th October
The Jim Jones Revue – Shepherd’s Bush Empire – Thursday 27th October
Cut Copy – Roundhouse – Thursday 27th October
The History Of Apple Pie –Under The Bridge, Fulham – Friday 28th October
The Miserable Rich & The Real Tuesday Weld – Westminster Reference Library – Saturday 29th October
Kami Thompson – The Bowery – Tuesday 15th November
Niki & The Dove – Hoxton Square Bar & Grill – Wednesday 16th November
Ólöf Arnalds – St Pancras Old Church – Thursday 24th & Friday 25th November
Roll The Dice – Corsica Studios – Wednesday 30th November
Thurston Moore (playing Psychic Hearts in full) – Electric Ballroom – Saturday 3rd December
Meg Baird – Cafe OTO – Monday 5th December 2011
Plaid – KOKO – Wednesday 4th January 2012
Lanterns On The Lake – Cargo – Thursday 12th January 2012