Dion alone: Rock ’n’ roll legend returns 9 Nov 2007

Dion_60s_2 Last night, in a scrappy venue at the north end of London’s Oxford Street, Robert Plant, Bobby Gillespie and The Coral crowded in with 200 young hipsters and old rockers to witness a very special gig, the return of doo-wop, blues and rock’n’roll legend Dion Di Mucci to UK shores. Andrew Male was down the front.

Click MORE for the full MOJO report. 

The remarkably well preserved 68 year old, sitting in the half-light gloom of London’s least assuming venue – the Metro on Oxford Street – is armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and a borrowed capo, and, despite having forty years of rock’n’roll history to draw on, Dion Di Mucci is visibly nervous tonight, asking members of the audience whether he’s doing OK, and apologising for the occasional detour into stories about Neil Sedaka, John Lennon and Fats Domino.

The blues is where he feels safe these days; he grew up on them, they informed such early, legendary hits as The Wanderer and Runaround  Sue, and that Jimmy Reed playing style is all over his most recent albums, Bronx In Blue and Son Of Skip James. So we go with him for this raw, cathartic session especially because he’s searching for the self same far-down blues sound he captured on those mid 60s Columbia sessions,  when he was in the pits of heroin despair. But it’s when that Neil Sedaka anecdote morphs into a gloriously off-the-cuff rendition of Calendar Girl that the gig assumes the shape of greatness. So even if his intro to Abraham, Martin & John bigs up the troops in Iraq, the delivered version is heartfelt, nuanced and assured. However, proceedings are taken to another level when Di Mucci introduces Ace Records’ own UK doo-wop trio, the Roomates, who provide sweet tri-part harmonies on easy rollin’ versions of Ruby Baby, The Wanderer and Runaround Sue, that find a certain Mr. Gillespie jigging wildly in the wings.

Suddenly there come the audience shouts for such much-loved hipster Dion landmarks as Born to Cry, Lovers Who Wander and Daddy Rollin’. By the end of the gig it’s even possible that the audience have convinced Dion Di Mucci how loved his is today. But if anyone was in doubt there was the after-show party where James and Ian Skelly of The Coral gently interrogated the singer into the night about mid '70s Dion tracks that even the man himself has forgotten all about. If he ever decides to pick up his guitar and embark upon a full Storytellers–style career overview we’ll see you there at the front of the stage.

A big-band Runaround Sue that keeps threatening to break it's bonds and get all nasty.

A scopitone film of Ruby Baby that kinda captures Dion's early 60s off-the-planet  altered state.

And here's what hippie America did to rock'n'roll: oh dear, it's Sha Na Na.

And finally...Dion's cleaned-up 1968 comeback, Abraham, Martin And John. Listen to the audience gasp when the song is announced and try to ignore the unnecessary backing vox. Click here to view.

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Sigur_ros_live MOJO was on hand this week to witness Sigur Rós’ elegant opening night of this year’s BBC Electric Proms season. Playing their first ever UK acoustic gig, the Icelandic quartet played to a packed Cecil Sharp House in London for nearly three hours, following their acoustic set with a screening of the band’s new film Heima and a typically awkward but hilarious question and answer session.

Click MORE for extra Icelandic goodness.

Led by the singular Jonsi Birgisson, post-rock’s most reluctant heroes swapped instrumental roles throughout the night to tiptoe their way through a setlist which all but duplicated the film’s soundtrack and proved that, as important as the production process is to the Sigur Rós sound, the songs still stand on their own feet when stripped down. 

Heima itself, a mixture of full live songs, interviews and gorgeous scenery footage, is a love letter to the Icelandic landscape and people. Directed by Canadian Dean DeBlois (of Lilo and Stitch fame!), it captures the essence of the band, humanising without demystifying them, and makes Iceland looks like God's very own country.

The Q&A that followed the movie was less enlightening – Sigur Ros are notoriously interview shy – but it did serve to convey the mischievous personalities that make up one of the world’s most cinematic bands.

Heima is released on DVD on November 5th alongside the companion album Hvarf-Heim. Read MOJO’s full review of the film in our January issue - on sale December 1.

Wednesday’s live performance can be seen by clicking here. 

And, on another note, here's the band showing that they can sometimes be the world’s least enthusiastic interviewees...

Sigur Ros Interview

Stuart Williams

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Dancrop MOJO’s Mark Blake was at Steely Dan’s London show on Saturday night. So was Paul McCartney. Both gave the bone-dry duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen the thumbs up – metaphorically at least. But would they have a horse onstage, as they had in Livepool?

For a full review, click the MORE button…

Steely Dan
Hammersmith Apollo, London
July 7, 2007

An animated Sir Paul McCartney, in suit and trainers, whoops it up during Steely Dan’s final encore, My Old School. On stage, Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and their ten-piece band have just taken the audience on a journey “way back into the deep ’70s”.

Steely Dan’s last album, Everything Must Go, came and went in 2003. The suggestion seems to be that they’re touring again simply because they want to. These days, Fagen looks slightly down at heel; Becker like a history professor at some Midwestern university. Contrarily but not unexpectedly, they don’t play the hits, so no Do It Again or Reeling In The Years. Instead, the sold-out crowd get a greatest album tracks set, including an obligatory single number apiece from Everything Must Go and 2000’s Two Against Nature.

The opening Time Out Of Mind, from 1980’s Gaucho, serves as a loosening-up exercise for the four-man horn section, and backing singers, Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery and Cindy Mizelle, who supply some urgently needed glamour stage right. Perhaps wisely, there’s no sign of the horse they paraded on stage in Liverpool on the Friday [see picture below], perhaps in tribute to the Aintree Pavilion venue, but with Steely Dan you never know.

Fagen and Becker have always favoured Gaucho and ‘77’s Aja albums over anything else, and the rest of the set reflects this. Home At Last and Peg are exquisite, the myriad twists and turns of Aja’s title track showcases the possibly bionic wrists of drummer Keith Carlock. The between-song patter is mordantly witty and self-aware. Inexplicably, then, Becker is permitted to sing the lead vocals on the 1976 hit Haitian Divorce; the resultant barking suggests an audience member has just grabbed hold of the mic.

Yet a final fling through Kid Charlemagne, FM and My Old School is faultless: a combination of smartypants jazz licks and ‘70s pop choruses. As the first man out of his seat and cheering for an encore, it’s all Sir Paul can do to keep his thumbs from assuming the position. Mark Blake

So let’s have another look at that horse...


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Remcrop MOJO spies at two nights of R.E.M.’s current run of live rehearsals at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre have returned full of praise for the band’s rediscovery of rock, guitars, vocal harmonies and, most importantly, good songs.

Click MORE button for new song news, banter… and surprises!

“THIS IS NOT A SHOW” said the slogan projected behind the stage, but these were more, not less than shows.

The idea was that R.E.M. test new songs in front of friends over five nights before retreating to producer Garrett “Jacknife” Lee’s Dublin studio to record an 14th full studio album. The result was an informal vibe and uninhibited music making, the new songs largely based on Peter Buck’s Rickenbacker and sparkling with Stipe/Mills vocal harmonies. “We are R.E.M.,” announced Stipe on the Wednesday night, “and this is what we do when you’re not looking.”

MOJO heard at least five bona fide future classics. The churning psych-rock of Mr Richards (“Pay attention! Pay attention!” keened Stipe) stood out. Disguised had to be started twice on the Wednesday – Mills and Buck appeared to disagree as to whose fault it was – before revealing itself as a marvellously melodic glam rock animal. Until The Day Is Done takes a folk turn into Automatic For The People territory, and Horse To Water may be the band‘s most intense assault since Monster’s Circus Envy. MOJO’s spies were at loggerheads over On The Fly – what a Wednesday viewer thought brooding and magnificent in a Country Feedback vein was described on the strength of Thursday’s performance as tedious and overlong, with even Buck losing interest towards the end.

Other new songs included Living Well, Middle Distance, Houston, Man Sized Wreath (about “Lillian Hellman giving Dashiell Hammett a blowjob with a mouthful of snow”, apparently) and Accelerate.

The so-called “olive branch” to an audience otherwise treated as (albeit very willing) guinea pigs was the slew of fanbait songs from the back catalogue. Wednesday night [setlist below] saw particularly fine versions of Harbourcoat, Second Guessing, These Days, 1,000,000, Wolves, Lower and West Of The Fields, and the sense that this was R.E.M. putting the lacklustre Around The Sun behind them and reconnecting with what has made them great was palpable.

After the shows, a relaxed Buck mingled, revealing his dissatisfaction with Around The Sun (the headline of MOJO’s album review “Do Go Back To Rockville” appears to have been taken to heart) and his approval of the band’s new methodology. A smattering of celebrity gladhanders – Robyn Hitchcock, Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody – seemed to agree.

R.E.M. are a guitar band again. Thank ye gods for that.


For more on R.E.M.’s five-night stand, and see some great pictures, visit remhq.com/news.

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Lashes Hot on the heels of their triumphant gigs at this year’s South By Southwest, Bat For Lashes have signed a US deal with Caroline Records and will now release their Fur And Gold debut on July 31 Stateside. The ethereal Brighton troupe have just played New York and return to the UK this weekend to play a special gig as part of the inaugural Women’s Arts International Festival.

Click the MORE button for more on the festival…

The MOJO sponsored WAI Festival takes place in the intimate surroundings of the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal, Cumbria and runs until 24 May. The charismatic Brighton quartet join legendary performers like Marianne Faithfull, Patti Smith and Bettye LaVette as well as a host of new talent on what is part of a packed line-up.

Tipped as one to watch in 2006 by MOJO favourite Devendra Banhart, Bat For Lashes have gone from strength to strength since releasing their debut album Fur and Gold last year. Thom Yorke recently named them as one of his favourite bands and their rapidly expanding fanbase includes Bjork and producer Nellee Hooper. Fronted by charismatic multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Natasha Khan, Bat For Lashes create intimate and atmospheric songs that draw upon psyche-folk and rock. For their latest single Prescilla, Khan flew to New York to re-record the song with a horn section. She also reinterpreted Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ as a sensual piano ballad for the B-side.

A special limited midnight blue version of Fur And Gold is also set for release in the US via Californian boutique label Manimal. For more on this 1000 copies edition of the album visit: www.manimalvinyl.com/index.php?shop

Bat For Lashes play the WAI Festival on Sun 6 May with support from Jane Weaver.

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

Thursday 10: BETTYE LAVETTE (at Coronation Hall)
Friday 11: PATTI SMITH & BAND (at Coronation Hall)
Saturday 12: PEGGY SEEGER
Wednesday 16: ALICE RUSSELL
Friday 18: LURA

Tickets for all the above nights are available from the Brewery box office: 01539 725 133 or via www.womensartsinternational.co.uk

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 12:14PM | 
Love in a Very Cold Climate16 Apr 2007

Iceland Think conditions at Glastonbury are tough?  Try –17 degree temperatures, driving snow and the risk that your accommodation could be submerged in an avalanche.  Music festivals on the Arctic Circle are only for the tough, or the Icelandic.  Over Easter weekend MOJO travelled to Isafjordur in NorthWest Iceland to witness the Aldrei For Eg Subur (“We never travelled South”) festival organised by local singer-songwriter and hip dude-about-the-fjord Mugison and his father, the local harbourmaster.  The location is straight out of Immigrant Song, with whales swimming in the local waters and unspoiled views to Greenland in the distance.  The event is launched in dramatic fashion by Mugison tossing dozens of orange smoke canisters into the bay.

‘Eclectic’ doesn’t come near to describing the bill.  French metallers Nosfell share the stage (a converted fish warehouse) with the town brass band, Bjork’s son’s punk band Slugs follows Christian songsmith Petur Ben whilst ravers FM Belfast make way for US alt.rock heroes Blonde Redhead. The audience ranges from toddlers to great-grandparents, the atmosphere both boisterous and welcoming to those artists who, in travelling to the town, almost doubled its population.

“I was drinking with my father in a pub in London on the hottest day of the year and we thought the idea up,”  says Mugison, “We imagined that we would do a festival were local workers would sing, DJ and entertain as they were the main attraction and we would get the biggest name in Icelandic music seen to support them. When we woke up the idea was still there so we called up some friends and to our surprise everybody was up for it.  I invited about 36 bands to play, not expecting many of them to turn up.  They all did.”

It all adds up to an explosive mix which ultimately blows with headliners HAM.  Despite modest commercial success in their original 1988-1994 years, the punk metallers have  been elevated to legendary status in the country and are cited by The Sugarcubes and Rammstein as a major influence.  Tonight’s 20-minute set is a terrifying, intense and sweaty mash of rage, joy and downright weirdness.  The Aurora Borealis dancing for hours above the town as the crowds disperse only add to the other-worldliness of the night.

If the V Festival is your idea of a good weekend, the Aldrei event isn’t for you.  If, however, you don’t mind some folk with your punk, some electronica spliced into your jazz sets and you have a very, very warm hat, you might want to consider Isafjordur as an alternative to Easter bank holiday television next year.

Thanks to Icelandic Music Export, www.icelandicmusic.is and www.icelandair.co.uk

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 10:28AM | 

Stephen_malkmus MOJO can exclusively reveal that Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks have confirmed that they’ll play the Sunday night headline slot at this year's Green Man Festival, August 19.

Green Man is the MOJO-endorsed mecca of nu-folk, head rock and good vibes held at Glanusk Park, Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales over the weekend of 17-19 August 2007. Acts confirmed so far include Bill Callahan (of Smog fame), Dead Meadow, Gruff Rhys, Vetiver, The Earlies, Vashti Bunyan, Richmond Fontaine, Euros Childs and Tunng. Joanna Newsom and Robert Plant headline on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 respectively.

Click More button for exclusive Stephen Malkmus interview, plus ticket details…

Stephen, where are you right now?
We’re in Fort Lauderdale, this suburban sprawl just north of Miami. We’re on this hippy festival bill. I’s called Langerado, related to Bonnaroo. It’s this big, hairy, soap-dodging mess. It’s spring break, too. So it’s kids off university doing Jell-O shots and trying to get laid. Great if you like drugs and the hairier girl.

Are the Jicks a good soundtrack to picking up hairy girls?
Of course! That’s why we’re playing Green Man. We hear it’s the Welsh way.

How’s your knowledge of Welsh culture? What’s the national plant?
I can see it, but I can’t name it. I wanna say hemlock…

Here’s a clue. It’s like an elongated onion…

Aaaah, I’ve got it! It’s a leek. I know some Welsh music. There’s this guy called Meic Stevens, who made a record called Outlander on Sain, which you guys should really do something on – it’s brilliant acid folk-type stuff.

What’s new in Jicksworld?
We’ve got a new drummer, Janet Weiss [ex-of Sleater-Kinney and Quasi]. We’re making a new record at the end of May with an engineer called TJ Doherty – a cool kid who worked on the Wilco record. We’re doing it in Montana, which is new for us. We’ve pretty much got it all worked out, bar lyrics. We’re ready to go.

What can you tell me about the new songs, without having to kill me afterwards?
I don’t know how to make it sound very exciting, but I like to think it manages to polarise and bring together at the same time. There are some really long songs – which some people like – and some short songs – which some people seem to hate. There are no guitar solos!

How does it compare with the last album, Face The Truth [2005]?
That was quite a scruffy record, 80 per cent of which I did at home, screwing around, embodying the DIY spirit. Perhaps a bit too scruffy in parts. This will be more rehearsed.

The difference between The Jicks and Pavement seems to boil down to: Less Chaos, More Rocking.
That’s true. We just played Maxwell’s in New Jersey the other day and Joanne [Bolme, bass] was taking the tube back to New York and there was a drunk guy saying, “I liked Pavement better.” And my friend is like, “Well did you ever see Pavement?” “Er, no” “Well that’s why you think that.” Pavement could be great or we could be horrible, then we got to be great for a little while, then we ended up as kinda… band-on-tour. But the chaos thing, yes, I don’t see that in a lot of the kids’ music these days.

Are you still rocking the Frank Zappa moustache?
It’s more trimmed than his. It works, I think – kind of a hipster thing. If you go to Brooklyn these days every guy’s got facial hair. For me it’s like, I’m pushing 40, I may as well try something different.

Green Man will be a big jungle of facial hair.
You British have been pioneering it. Nothing says, I’m a bit artsy and a little bit sexy quite like it.

Tickets for this year's event are available from the Festival website thegreenmanfestival.co.uk and from Ticketline UK on 08700 667799.

Adult weekend tickets cost £98 including on-site camping and parking and entry is free for Under 12s. There will be an additional cost for those wishing to bring a live-in vehicle.

If you would like any further information about tickets please email info@thegreenmanfestival.co.uk.

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147_the_who_2 Fornet

The Who have elected to use MOJO’s February 2006 cover for the artwork of their new EP Wire And Glass. Shot by reknown photographer Ross Halfin, the black and white image captures Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey in a Kray Twins styled pose.

The EP itself is released via Polydor on July and features a mini opera in six parts. Mirror Door, the longest segment of the piece will air tonight on MOJO Rocks – MOJO Radio’s Friday rock show as part of a special edition dedicated to the launch of Hyde Park Calling – the inaugural festival which features headliners Roger Waters performing Dark Side Of The Moon on Saturday night and The Who on Sunday.

Those unable to attend will be able to watch selected tracks of The Who’s set via an exclusive service offered by www.The WhoLive.com In addition to this The Who will make their live sets available for purchase via their website www.thewho.com

Hear Mirror Door tonight by tuning in to MOJO Radio at 9.00pm on Sky Digital (channel 0182), Freeview (channel 721) or via mojo4music.com

Posted by Ross_Bennett at 03:23PM | Leave a Comment (0)


Here’s a freebie for you – MOJO4music, in association with LiveGigsOnline, is offering a FREE stream of Shack’s show at Liverpool’s Carling Academy on 12 May. The Scouse quartet have been touring their new album, The Corner Of Miles And Gil, which is their first for showbiz mate Noel Gallagher’s Sour Mash label.

Songwriting brothers Mick and John Head started their career as The Pale Fountains, but they became Shack in 1988, they’ve been peddling a delicious blend of psych-tinged folk pop. To watch the webcast, click on the link below.


The Corner Of Miles And Gil by Shack is out now on Sour Mash. For more info, see www.shacktheband.com

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Seven hundred years of isolation, a body clock-shattering climate and a white spirit called Black Death are a few of the many things that makes Iceland, well, different. Reykjavik’s new Rites of Spring Festival, too, is a bizarre concept. With just nine acts over four days, from Balkan Gypsy music to satirical Icelandic Calypso, it’s very much the younger sister to its established sibling Iceland Airwaves Festival, yet World Music at the top of the world somehow works.

Highlight of the first two days is the collaboration of local jazz trio Flis with Bogomil Font, the current alias of Sugarcubes drummer Siggi Baldursson (above). Their infectious rhythms and razor-sharp lyrics make a curious but engrossing spectacle. “Hello, I Want to Eat Your Car”, in particular, may have gained something in translation.

No less fascinating are big band Nix Noltes, drawing members from local hipsters Mum. Their blend of Balkan and Bulgarian folk is a riotous cacophony, as earthy and terrifying a sound as you can imagine. If Finland can enter a death metal band, Lordi, into the Eurovision Song Contest, Iceland should consider these guys’ chances (what self-respecting Euro-Zone citizen couldn’t vote for a band with a Sousaphone?).

Bringing the festival to a stunning close are scene-stealers Salsa Celtica. A glorious fusion of Cuban charanga and salsa with Highland bagpipe and fiddles, the multinational collective brings the entire audience to its feet with its swirling melodies and virtuoso musicianship. The combination is clearly greater than the sum of its parts, their performance an irresistible force and ecstatic experience.

Its location half way between Europe and the Americas gives Iceland a natural opportunity to showcase the best of both continents’ folk music. Just as Iceland Airwaves has become a spring board for mainstream success (just ask Franz Ferdinand, The Darkness or Keane), The Rites of Spring could provide exposure for a new generation of talent. The festival is still in its infancy but, based on its first year, it could well find itself a fixture on the international circuit in years to come.

Photo: Óskar Hallgrímsson

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