Bob_marley A unique BBC documentary on Bob Marley’s Exodus is coming to your screens this Sunday, June 3. Here, speaking exclusively to MOJO4MUSIC, award-winning Arena director Anthony Wall explains in his own words the challenges that faced him while attempting to stay true to Bob Marley’s revolutionary spirit.

Click the MORE button for the full story…

Anthony Wall: “Last summer, I realised it was the 25th Anniversary of Marley’s death and the BBC weren’t doing anything. When Island Records was still a company in their own right Arena did lots of co-productions with them. There was the 1986 documentary Bob Marley And The Wailers and a world music series we started in the late 80s called Rhythms Of The World. I had a meeting with [Island founder] Chris Blackwell and he mentioned the 30th Anniversary of Exodus. I said ‘We don’t really do ‘making of’ programmes. It’s got to be a bit more complicated than that for us’. So he said what about something on 1977? Intriguing, I thought, but how the fuck do I make it work? I had a real resistance to interviewing anyone. If I talked to anyone from the story now, what with the passage of time and all the side agendas, I’d get a load of old bollocks.

“I was one of those people who’d drifted away from Marley in ‘77 but I listened to *Exodus again and I realise I was completely wrong. It’s very much the concept album moving from heavy into light. I completely came to reassess Three Little Birds. It seemed to me that I was hearing one of the most subversive messages ever. With those words he’s saying Fuck You more comprehensively than in tracks like Get Up Stand Up. It’s pulling you into this radical Rastafari message and it’s all a pretty much a positive feeling.

“Like Che Guevara he’s become a short hand for freedom and resistance to oppression without becoming vulgarised. I felt such a bloody sense of responsibility making the film. You’d have to put him alongside Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Ghandi as one of the third world and black American leaders who’ve won the day in prestige in the Twentieth Century.

“It became a film about 1977 but I made the decision not to talk to anybody ‘in sync’, no trade union leaders or feminists, I didn’t want to give anyone that authority and I got more and more drawn to democratising the witness, 1977 existing in the minds of everybody. Marley didn’t go to Goldman Sachs and say “who is my target audience?” His target audience was everybody in the fucking world. So I thought sound how people received their information about the world in 1977 and it was through the unified, clear and clean aesthetic of those TV news cameramen. I wanted to do something that was the total antithesis of I Love The 1970s, which was one of the worst things that’s ever been on television.

“I got the structure of the film just before the final deadline, using the album itself to create a fundamental narrative through it, so with the music and the news footage, one is a response to the other. It’s a basic Marxist proposition really; things happen because of what’s happening.

“My film editor’s partner watched it and described it as “a ganja news dream”. I was happy with that because I wanted watching it to be like some strange dream where you’re not sure quite happened, almost like a cubist take on the original 1986 documentary, taking that material and turning it round. It once appeared that archive material had a finite meaning whether it was JFK being shot or Margaret Thatcher outside No. 10 in 1979 but, if you re-contextualise it, it turns out it can have more than one meaning. It was put together quite instinctively but there is a kind of progress from but it was very difficult to put together so if it does seem quite simple now I’m very, very pleased. It hits something very deep inside you.”

See if you agree with Anthony Wall’s assessment of his so-called “ganja news dream” by tuning in to Arena: Bob Marley - Exodus '77 on  BBC2 on Sunday 3rd June at 10pm, BBC2 (30 years to the day since the release of Exodus itself).

Dvd_2 The full story of the making of Bob Marley’s Exodus appears in the new issue of MOJO magazine on sale on June 6, and featuring exclusive contributions from the Marley family. The 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Exodus is on sale on Monday and is available to purchase here by clicking the BUY button.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 05:35PM | 

Rufus Dawn French and other comedy pals joined Rufus Wainwright as he returned to the London stage at The Old Vic this week. Stuart Williams reports on a four-night stand packed with melodrama, lederhosen and the odd wizard in the audience…

Click MORE button for the full live report on Rufus at The Old Vic…

Just three months after his triumphal re-rendition of Judy Garland’s live album at the London Palladium, Rufus Wainwright is back the capital, this time for a sold-out four nights at the Old Vic. 

Giant diamond brooches replace the stars in the 50-foot stars and stripes draped behind the stage, and the band is kitted out in Alexander McQueen clobber, looking to all the world like grumpy seven year-olds dressed against their will by their mum.  Rufus himself enters resplendent in a three-piece suit before slipping into possibly less comfortable lederhosen for the second hour. The glorious Rufus circus is back in foggy London town.

Whether his current album Release The Stars turns into the million-seller he craves is yet to be seen, although its entry at Number 2 in the UK charts was a pleasant surprise.  Right now, though, the album’s put to bed and he’s concentrating on translating it into his live show – a show designed to appeal to all five senses (plus quite possibly a couple that you didn’t know you had). 

Indeed, during the course of the evening, all the songs from the album are given an airing to glorious effect.  Not Ready to Love is heartbreaking, Tulsa (an ode to Killers’ frontman Brandon Flowers) hilarious, Do I Disappoint You  euphoric, and Going To A Town full of disaffection for his homeland.  Most remarkable is that he can fill two electrifying hours on stage an still miss out a sizeable section of his increasingly classic back catalogue (no Dinner At Eight, Go Or Go Ahead, Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk…)

Just when he has your heart in the palm of his hand, though, he squeezes it like a whoopee cushion. The Sian Philips lines from the magnificent Between The Legs are delivered on stage the first night by Frances De La Tour (of Rising Damp fame as well as her theatrical work), and by Dawn French (pictured, left) on the second evening, and, on the third night, by her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders, much to the delight of the crowd. Their presence produces moments of surreal Henry V-styled rabble-rousing that brings the audience to its feet. Indeed, Sir Ian McKellen (better known these days as Gandalf) adds to his wizardly reputation when he is seen almost levitating and issuing melodramatic ‘bravos’ at thye climax of De La Tour’s first night performance.

Most of the encore is given over to the campest thing to hit the London stage since, well, his Judy Garland concerts earlier in the year. Entering wearing a dressing gown, he sits downstage, snaps on costume jewellery and dons cherry red lipstick before revealing full drag å la Garland, replete with tiny jacket and the best set of legs since newsreader Angela Rippon high-kicked her way from behind her desk during her appearance on the Morecambe And Wise show. Adding to the gaiety of the occasion, his long-suffering band then appear in tuxes and together they recreate, or more accurately approximate, Garland’s Get Happy in a fantastically shambolic manner, straight-faced and fishnetted.

Subtle? No. Wonderful? Yes. In fact, these Old Vic shows capture a modern day torch-singing troubadour who, right now, just happens to be at his techicolour peak.

Rufusrlt A full and frank interview with Rufus Wainwright appears in the next issue of MOJO magazine which is on sale on June 6. In the meantime MOJO is happy to recommend the man’s current album, Release The Stars, a four-star review of which appears in the current issue of the magazine and which can be purchased by clicking this Buy button…

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 03:09PM | 

Ian Control, the eagerly anticipated biopic about late Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis has won the Best European Film award at this year's Cannes Film Festival, just as trailers for the film have begun to appear on-line…

Click MORE button for the full story and Control trailer…

Control, which opened to rave reviews and was one of few British films showing at the film festival, is an adaptation of Deborah Curtis’ memoirs of her life with the troubled singer, Touching From A Distance. Famed Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, who cast relative unknown Sam Riley, a former warehouse worker from Leeds, as the iconic Curtis, directed the film. Oscar-nominated actress Samantha Morton portrays Deborah Curtis.

The Cannes jury said, “This is a very impressive and assured debut from a renowned photographer, but [Corbijn] never allows the look of the film, beautiful though it is, to detract from the powerful story and character development’, and described Riley, 27, as "excellent" in the role, along with the rest of the cast. The Cannes jury ended with, “This is a film that will strike a real chord with audiences around Europe, and not just with music lovers”. And certainly, the on-line trailer - a rough version of which can be viewed by clicking the image below - proves that Control’s emotional pull is both hugely affecting and harrowing.

Control follows Curtis, who suffered from epilepsy and struggled both with personal problems and the band’s success, through the years leading up to his suicide at the age of 23 on May 18 1980, on the eve of the band’s first US tour.

Riley, who previously had a small role in 24 Hour Party People, actually sings in the biopic; a role not entirely alien to the actor - his former band, 10,000 Things, spent four years with Polydor but, as Riley himself admits, never "troubled the charts". New Order, the band formed by the surviving members of Joy Division, and Curtis’s widow, all collaborated on the project, elements of which were shot in Nottingham despite being based in Macclesfield. Filmed in black and white, the film possesses an equally visceral soundtrack, with songs from New Order, David Bowie, the Sex Pistols, the Velvet Underground and Iggy Pop.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 05:04PM | 

Buckley_covercrop Because we're so nice – or is it because you’re so nice? – Sony have provided MOJO readers/users/whatevers with yet another exclusive, unreleased Jeff Buckley track for our aural delectation. It’s a cracking version of Grace song So Real that's only ever emerged on a super-rare promo CD. It's the second of two commercially unreleased tracks to, er, grace the new and definitive Buckley compilation So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley, but you can hear it right here right now.

Jeff Buckley – So Real (non-album acoustic version, recorded live in Japan)

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 04:51PM | Leave a Comment (3)

Calidreamingcrop The Nudie-suited types at Warner Brothers are marking the release of their 2CD compilation, California Dreaming, by promising one MOJO winner 50, yes, 50 catalogue albums by the artists represented on the record. That’s a grab bag of albums by Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Joni Mitchell, Tim Buckley, Randy Newman, Rickie Lee Jones, Little Feat, The Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Bread, America and Fleetwood Mac. Cripes!

Click below for details…

Answer the question below correctly to go in the hat for a chance to win 50 Warners albums of a Californian bent. The next 10 runners-up out of the electronic chapeau bag a copy of California Dreaming. Competition closes June 11.

What’s the name of the famous road that links San Francisco to Los Angeles, taking in the iconic milieux of Big Sur, Half Moon Bay and Monterey? Is it a) Highway 61; b) Route 66; c) Highway 1? Send your answer and contact details, including postal address, here...

And to get you in the mood, how about a couple of Cali-centric streams? Both are featured on the California Dreaming comp.

Joni Mitchell – Blue
The canny Canuckstress in exquisite, heart-quivering form on the title track of her epochal 1971 album.

The Byrds – So You Want To Be A Rock’N’Roll Star?
Sardonic latin rock from the already-veteran LA scenesters. From 1967’s awesome Younger Than Yesterday.

Calidreaming80 California Dreaming is out now.

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 01:22PM | Leave a Comment (10)

Fran_healy_crop There’s still time to contribute your thoughts to the MOJO readers’ Records That Changed The World, your chance to put the musos right who voted in MOJO 163 and decided in their wisdom that Little Richard’s Tutti Frutti and Kraftwerk’s Autobahn were more epochal than Ray Stevens’s The Streak. Get in the mood with Fran Healy from Travis, who drifts into a reverie at the mere mention of Music From Big Pink by The Band (Capitol, 1968). “It’s bonkers,” says he.

Click below to read his fervid appreciation…

Fran Healy: The Band’s Music From Big Pink still sounds at odds with music the way it did back when it was released. With America’s counter culture peaking, it was a rebellion against rebellion. The songs sound like they’re from the 19th century, when the pioneers came over, before there were buildings. They used old instruments, and grew beards! It’s bonkers, too, because at first the guitar sounds drunk, the Hammond has a weird tone, and there’s loads of trombones, but it’s so accomplished and original. For starters, you can’t open an album with a slow song, but Tears Of Rage is the slowest song ever! It really sets the tone for breaking some sort of mould and convention.

“For me, the key song is The Weight: everything coalesces, and it’s a pop song too, which uses religious overtones to tell another kind of story. The Band are a great role model because they did everything in such a noble, cool, proud way. Because they’d been together for eight years before Big Pink, they’d made all these contacts, and through them became a band’s band. Every band around would have bought Big Pink, The Beatles included. Look at The Last Waltz – the film is a who’s who of the world’s greatest musicians: Clapton, Joni, Dylan, Neil Young, Neil Diamond! Without Big Pink, I certainly wouldn’t be in a band. It’s such a pure record that it encourages you to be true to yourself, to just run with what you do naturally in music, and don’t be afraid to do something that no-one else has done.”

Nominate your records that changed the world (remember, singles and albums are equally eligible) below, or by mailing  Travis's  fifth studio album, The Boy With No Name, is out now.

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 10:34AM | Leave a Comment (2)

Jeff_buckley_crop It’s a tough ask: sum up the awesome talent and squandered promise of Jeff Buckley in 14 tracks. Sony’s new compilation, So Real: Songs From Jeff Buckley has a good stab at it, and dangles genuine fan-bait in the shape of two tracks, hitherto commercially unreleased. Hear a full stream of a startling cover of The Smiths’ I Know It’s Over – by clicking below.

I Know It's Over (live)
Smiths cover (from The Queen is Dead, fools!), recorded at a live session at Sony Studios, edited for broadcast on WNEW-FM on April 6, 1995, but not included on the radio broadcast.

The compilation hits the streets on May 28, a day before the 10th anniversary of Buckley’s death, drowned in the Mississippi river in circumstances that have never been fully explained. He was only 30 years old. Pulling together tracks from his two studio albums, including the unfinished Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk, plus delicious side-orders from the posthumously expanded Grace and Live At Sin-é editions, it’s as agreeably unobvious a Greatest Bits as you could conjure.

Tracklisting is as follows…

1. Last Goodbye (B)
2. Lover You Should Have Come Over (B)
3. Forget Her (C)
4. Eternal Life (Road Version) (C)
5. Dream Brother (Alternate Take) (C)
6. The Sky Is A Landfill (D)
7. Everybody Here Wants You (D)
8. So Real (non-album acoustic version live in Japan, previously available only as a promotional single)
9. Mojo Pin (A)
10. Vancouver (D)
11. Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin (A)
12. Grace (B)
13. Hallelujah (B)
14. I Know It's Over (live) (see above)

Source key…

A – from Live At Sin-é (originally released 1993, as Columbia 44K-77296; reissued September 2003, as Live At Sin-é: Legacy Edition, Columbia/Legacy C2K 89202)
B – from Grace (originally released August 1994, as Columbia CK 57528)
C – from Grace: Legacy Edition (originally released August 2004, as Columbia/Legacy C3K 92881)
D – from Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk (originally released May 1998, as Columbia C2K 67228)

Look out for the full, weird, tragic story of Sketches From My Sweetheart The Drunk in a future MOJO…

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 10:08AM | Leave a Comment (0)

Mark_kozelek_crop Remember Irish crime writer John Connolly and his MOJO obsession? Say hello to Mark Kozelek, the former Red House Painter and Sun Kil Moon mainman, whose music features on a compilation CD that came with the former’s last novel (wonder where he got that idea?). Connolly describes Kozelek as his muse and audio equivalent; Kozelek repays the compliment in this interdisciplinary interview with Mojo’s Andrew Male.

Click below for interview…

When did you first become aware of the work of John Connolly?
Mark Kozelek: I was contacted by his publisher. They told me that Red House Painters’ Summer Dress was one of several songs that inspired characters in his novel The Black Angel and they were looking to put Summer Dress on a compilation that coincided with his book.

What was your take on his books?
Eerie, cozy, seductive. He has a way of moving in and out of tender and violent, of warm and cold, like I haven't seen before, and the way he cuts from characters and settings so rapidly, it keeps you on your toes. His characters will seemingly have no connection, each chapter beginning like a new book, then it all ties together. It's masterful. He describes and writes like a poet. Each paragraph ends with a trail of magic dust behind it - the details are so rich, vivid, nothing is left out. What's also fascinating to me about John is his grasp of American culture - the landscape, the politics, everything. I wouldn't guess by his writing that he wasn't from here. The way he'll describe a New York neighborhood or an island off of Maine is 100 per cent accurate and totally fresh. He's incredibly knowledgeable historically, culturally, on every level.

Have you met him?
Yes, we met when I played in Dublin in 2005. He gave me a signed hardback of The Black Angel. That was so thoughtful... how he and his girlfriend Jennie had made it out to the show, stayed until the bitter end and found me. I found him very kind and genuine. Coincidentally, I’d just seen someone reading The Black Angel on a plane on the way to Europe for that tour. Then after meeting John, I noticed it in the bestsellers racks at airport bookstores. That's when it all came together that this guy was a fiction heavyweight. That's how it all connected. I'm 40 so I'm not finding information online, I don't come from that background. How I discovered John and what he was about happened in a real way. It really meant something.

Do you see parallels between your music and John's books?

Yes, mostly in the elaborate, poetic description. I agonize over detail and John is also unusually descriptive. There are also parallels in the contrast between light and heavy. In my music, in songs like Duk Koo Kim or Salvador Sanchez, there's a lot of brutality, but in songs like Brown Eyes or Summer Dress, there's a lot of tenderness. Musically, if you listen to early RHP records, I can't think of a better example of the sudden jump from gentle to violent. John’s novels do that too - they use the same kind of dynamics. One minute someone is lying in bed, in a soft, serene setting, then CUT to a hooker being slapped around in an alley.

Has he influenced you in the way that you have influenced him?
Not in an obvious way, but he has inspired me. When a guy like John praises your work, it makes you feel like you're doing something right. John just has a way of tying words together that makes you pause, causes you to crack a smile at how great his writing is. He's very lyrical. For me, being aware of other poets – one’s that are good at it - it keeps you sharp. And it doesn't hurt to know that guys like John are listening.

How do you feel about influencing him? His books are quite creepy...
I’ve always been interested in true crime, watch tons of Court TV, A&E and horror films, so I've got a tough stomach and am very much at home with that side of John's writing. Plus, in his books, the violence is intermingled with the supernatural, which softens the blow. As far as me influencing him, that is unbelievably flattering. I tend to meet mostly musicians who I’ve influenced, which is nice, but can be boring, like school teachers meeting other school teachers - not much to learn there. But when you meet an author like John, and they're inspired by your music, that has a special place. That's the ultimate praise, when an artist from a different medium, like writers or directors, are inspired by what I do. Growing up, skipping school and playing guitar all day, I would have never guessed that one day I'd have an influence on someone as acclaimed and talented as John Connolly.

Mark Kozelek’s book of lyrics, Nights Of Passed Over is published in July by La Mano 21. He will be playing a solo show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, October 29th. A live Kozelek track, Have You Forgotten, features on the soundtrack to the August-released documentary, The Trials Of Darryl Hunt.

A new compilation CD – featuring a brilliant mix of acts including Midlake, Sufjan Stevens and MOJO’s own David Sheppard – comes with hardback copies of Connolly’s new novel, The Unquiet. It’s called Into The Dark; find out about it here…

Or find out about Voices From The Dark, the comp that came with The Black Angel and features Red House Painters’ Summer Dress…

Posted by Danny Eccleston at 11:36AM | Leave a Comment (0)

When earlier this year MOJO compiled Love Will Tear You Apart, the collection of raw melancholia that accompanied the magazine’s Joy Division cover story in February, Susanna And The Magical Orchestra provided us with a cover version of Ian Curtis’s most haunting track. Tonight, as the Norwegian moodists play the inaugural Women’s Arts International Festival in Kendal, Cumbria, MOJO is happy to present the beauteous video version of their take on Love Will Tear Us Apart here....

Click MORE button for more on Susanna And The Magical Orchestra....

Not known for their touring exploits, tonight’s show at the MOJO-sponsored Women’s Arts International Festival marks a rare UK outing for Susanna And The Magical Orchestra who’ll be joined by labelmate Hanna Hukkelberg for this one-off gig.

Born and bred in the small town of Konsgberg, Norway, Susanna  Wallumrød and Morten Qvenild make enchanting, cinematic songs as Susanna and The Magical Orchestra. Inspired by experimental jazz and electronica, their debut album A List of Lights & Buoys shocked and seduced critics and music lovers with intimate and stripped down covers of Dolly Parton’s Jolene and Leonard Bernstein’s Who I Am among others. Their recent follow-up Melody Mountain repeated the trick with Love Will Tear Us Apart nestling alongside startling versions of AC/DC’s It’s A Long Way To the Top, Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right, Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence and more. Qvenild conjures crystalline melodies and restrained electronic arrangements from his autoharp and synths whilst Wallumrød soars and crescends like the long lost sister of Joanne Newsom and Carol King.

Fellow Scandinavian Hanna Hukkelberg started singing and playing instruments at the age of three. A graduate of the Norwegian Academy of Music, she played in various jazz, rock and free jazz bands before releasing her debut album Little Things. Whilst her vocals drew comparisons to Bjork and Stina Nordenstam, it was her use of found sounds and music box instrumentation that won her a growing fanbase. Written and recorded in Berlin and Oslo, her new album Rykestrasse 68 is another lovely ambient folk-blues-jazz record. Every track uses layers of imaginative instrumentation but its her heart-stopping cover of The Pixies Break My Body that demands repeated listens.

Susanna and The Magical Orchestra and Hanne Hukkelberg play Women’s Arts International Festival tonight, while tomorrow night MOJO’s very own Lucy O’Brien will host an intimate evening in the company of legendary British singer Sandie Shaw.

The full line-up of remaining shows reads as follows (all shows at the Brewery Arts Centre):


Tickets for all the above nights are available from the Brewery box office: 01539 725 133 or via

MOJO is also happy to recommend Melody Mountain, the aforementioned Susanna And The Magical Orchestra album which can be purchased simply by clicking here....

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 06:29PM | 

Willy Britain’s second annual festival of new music hit Brighton last weekend with a series of MOJO Club nights starring headliners the Archie Bronson Outfit, Willy Mason and Good Shoes. Clive Prior reports on three enlivened nights of “liveners”, impromptu jams and stage invasions…

First and foremost, let’s be clear: just like South By SouthWest, it is near-impossible to scoot around Brighton’s Great Escape festival and see the 150 acts playing across three days in approximately 20-odd venues. You can try, but, from the experience last year, it wears the shoe leather. So, instead of attempting the impossible, we make a decision from Day One to stay at the Brighton Pavilion Theatre, home to the MOJO Club for the three-night duration.

It’s there that the first night features a celebration of the friends and relations of Domino records. While boasting a roster that includes high-flyers such as recent MOJO cover stars Arctic Monkeys as well as Franz Ferdinand, FourTet and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, the list of artists on the label is as long as it is wide, which it why tonight is almost “a game of two halves” (to use a Cup Final-related turn of phrase).

First up, local Brighton bard Jason Pegg eschews his Clearlake band set-up to deliver a mood-setting acoustic set. His endeavours creates the perfect mood for the presence of Fence Collective acolyte and recently hitched top Scottish tunesmith James Yorkston whose softly strummed delivery is met with hushed silence and an audience seated on the floor who appear enraptured by his ability to transform the theatre into his frontroom. He leaves the stage beaming, and will later tell MOJO of his next project, a tribute to the songs of late folk legend Lal Waterson.

Such is the camaraderie within the Domino camp that Yorkston’s set is watch by all the other acts on the bill, include Archie Bronson drummer Mark who remains among the seated throng. A throng whose peace is rudely disturbed by the post-Joy Division pop trash of These New Puritans. While the Southend foursome -  who cite Sonic Youth, The Fall and Faith No More as influences – aren’t signed to Domino in the UK (that honour belongs to Angular), a licensing deal means that the label distribute their music overseas. Big plans are apparently afoot in Belgium and the Low Countries. And so to headliners, the Archie Bronson Outfit

Veterans of last year’s Great Escape MOJO Club sortie – they filled the ‘special guest’ slot beneath British Sea Power – the four-piece return as headliners at MOJO’s request. With their last album Derdang Derdang making the magazine’s Best Of 2006 list, it is high time for a new Archies album. Their fifty five minute set provides proof that their brand of Beefheart-meets-QOSTA stomp – exemplified by singles Cherry Lips and Dar For My Sweetheart – remains as infectious as ever. Rumours of a side-project with James Yorkston surface following their set, but reassurances of a third ABO album is enough to send the gathered MOJO party home happy. And awaiting tomorrow’s fun with a strangely fuzzy head….

….And that out-of-focus feeling fails to clear as we arrive at the Pavilion to catch rising Icelandic startlet Lay Low onstage. Our new ‘home’ is already packed enough to suggest that no one else will get in to see any of the next three acts. In front a sizeable audience, Lay Low – whose voice possesses an intimacy that places her somewhere between Billie Holiday and Björk – turns in a performance that suggests that her debut album, Please Don’t Hate Me, should be a riveting affair when it emerges in the UK later this summer.

With all the bills at the MOJO Club hand-picked by the magazine team, it comes as no surprise that Lay Low once again sets the scene perfectly for Canada’s Patrick Watson. Set to finish his entire European tour tonight, Watson makes it clear that beverages all round are in order. Indeed, Watson’s bonhomie augments his remarkable post-Jeff Buckley delivery. The fact that the man has just signed a major deal in the UK (the word is that its with V2) means that you will be hearing more of him imminently.

The same is true of fellow Montreal moodists The Besnard Lakes. One of MOJO’s tips of 2007, tonight their blend of Beach Boys melodies with Arcade Fire’s grandeur is expansive, textured and quite beauteous – and no more so than on Disaster (from their current album The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse). A new album on the Jagjaguar label is apparently in the pipeline, although the band have yet to work out when exactly they’re likely to find time to record it.And so to headliner Willy Mason

Having re-evaluated his position following the success of his 2004 debut Where The Humans Eat, Mason is back with a true sense of purpose. And tonight, while his set is full of the customary rough edges, he is in effortless form, running through debut material like Save Myself and solo show closer Oxygen, alongside cuts from new album If The Ocean Gets Rough. The audience – that include all four Magic Numbers, who’ve legged it over from their own show to see their former touring partner – look on with sentiments that range from awe to near disbelief.

Having clearly enjoyed himself, Mason leaves the stage and repairs to the front of the venue where he enjoys several chugs on a large bottle of scotch. He is, of course, kind enough to pass it around. Oh dear…

If the previous two nights have seen the Pavilion almost over-run, then tonight is anticipated as being potentially the busiest, rammed as it is likely to be with indie-rock hipsters here to worship at the alter of Morden’s, er, most mordant – Good Shoes (Morden Life Is Rubbish proclaim their T-shirts, knowingly).

First up are The Sigma, an energetic York/London-based outfit brought to you by the same managerial stable that brought you Vincent Vincent And The Villains (more of whom in a second). Despite their tender years, The Sigma’s brand of shuffly soul-rock suggests that good times beckon.

Medway adventurer Kid Harpoon is next up in the company of his full band The Powers That Be. While Harpoon’s brand of shanty-town folk-punk has been doing the rounds for a while, it now appears that the rest of the world has at last caught up with him.

The same is true of Vincent Vincent And The Villains, West London’s suavest rock’n’roll troupe. Having spent the last few months touring with Good Shoes they’re well versed in pleasing the headliners’ crowd. Throwing in a glorious curveball, they open their set with an untitled semi-hispanic instrumental that promises to transform itself into a finished song at some point soon. From hereon in, however, the Villains plough on in glorious dishevelled style, tracks like I’m Alive soliciting a suitably unhinged response from the crowd.

If the audience appears well primed by the Villains, the reaction that awaits Good Shoes is even more remarkable. A ramble through a selection of topper-most tunes from their recent Think Before You Speak set is hardly enough to satiate the crowd. In fact, their set ends in joyous chaos as the audience charges the stage. Frontman Rhys Jones repairs backstage as the band attempt to come to some sort of co-ordinated end. Tonight, as we contemplate a night of proper, there will be no encore. Just a 350-capacity venue whose stage is populated by a large chunk of the audience looking on in glazed bewilderment.

Tune into MOJO Radio’s exclusive report from the MOJO Club at the Great Escape at 9.00pm on Friday May 25. MOJO Radio is available via Sky (channel 0182), Freeview (channel 721) or via the radio player on this site.

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 07:58PM |