It’s a week in London where most of the gigs of note seem to be backloaded towards the end of the week. The pick seems to be the pair of shows that John Cale is playing at the Barbican on Friday and Saturday. We’re promised a ‘futurespective’ career-spanning set which, given his history and wide-ranging collaborations, should result in two pretty special shows (he’ll be backed by the London Contemporary Orchestra and the House Gospel Choir).
Over in Camden on Friday and Saturday, the Electric Ballroom will be the venue for the return to London of The Hold Steady. The shows are being billed as Boys And Girls In London so we can assume it’ll be two crowd-pleasing sets.
On Saturday, Everything Everything will be appearing at Alexandra Palace and in similar, large-gig fashion on Wednesday Elbow will be playing tracks from last year’s fine Little Fictions album (as well, no doubt, as selections from their recently released ‘best of’ compilation). As an extra bonus, John Grant supports.
While we’re on the subject of big shows it would be remiss not to mention At The Drive-In at Brixton Academy on Friday. At the other end of the musical spectrum, Soccer Mommy (aka 20-year-old Nashville native Sophie Allison) plays from debut album Clean at Moth Club on Tuesday.
Clear Language by Balmorhea was one of 2017’s best instrumental albums, a beautiful blend of modern classical and post-rock and they will be appearing at Oslo on Sunday (it’s worth getting there early for the gentle, ambient sounds of support Martyn Heyne also).
Another artist who made an equally notable impression last year was saxophonist Nubya Garcia and she plays a show at St James The Great Church in Clapton on Thursday in support of forthcoming EP When We Are. Another jazz-themed show worth investigating takes place at the Jazz Café on Friday where an impressive line up of Arun Ghosh, Soumik Datta and Sarathy Korwar will play a night of music inspired by India.
Melt Yourself Down meanwhile return with their hard-hitting, dynamic sounds at new venue (to us anyway) Ghost Notes in Peckham on Wednesday (it’s in the same car park as Bold Tendencies/Franks).
Talking about new-ish venues, Lightbox (a nightclub space in Vauxhall) plays host to acclaimed, up and coming guitar outfit Let’s Eat Grandma on Thursday. There’s four other gigs on that night also worthy of your time – ex-Mansun man Paul Draper appears at the Electric Brixton playing new solo material alongside a full performance of Attack Of The Grey Lanterns by his former band.
Also on that night, band-du-jour Superorganism continue their rise to prominence over at Oval Space, south London outfit Insecure Men make the trip north to play the Scala and Karl Blau promotes latest Bella Union-released album Out Her Space at the Borderline.
The Southbank Centre have already announced the first set of gigs to take place in the new Queen Elizabeth Hall and more shows across the site have just been added. Les Amazones D’Afrique play the Royal Festival Hall on 27th May and Lost Horizons (the band of Bella Union boss and former Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde play from debut album Ojala the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 14th September. They’ve also announced the first acts appearing at their Alchemy festival, exploring the connections between the music of South Asia and the UK. Talvin Singh, Luke Sital-Singh and more appear during 4-7 May.
Elsewhere, Pet Shop Boys return to the Royal Opera House for another run of Inner Sanctum shows from 25th-28th July. We rather enjoyed their last shows there in 2016. Finally, Godspeed You! Black Emperor will be appearing at the Barbican on 13th and 14th July to soundtrack a new piece by by dance company Holy Body Tattoo.