Róisín Gadelrab’s music news: Maxi Jazz live; John Grant’s fundraiser; Ex-marine at Blues Kitchen
28 April, 2017 — By Róisín Gadelrab
MAXI Jazz is a formidable frontman – a magnetic, humble, smiling man with a smooth, breathy, alluring vocal and a presence that pulls an unintentional groundswell of goodwill from anyone within his sightline. He managed to maintain this generous spirit and enthusiasm, clearly delighted by the crowd reaction, on Saturday night, telling self-deprecating stories about the inspiration behind various songs – “this one’s about middle-aged men chasing after younger women – it didn’t work” – while crammed on the Jazz Cafe stage with his 12-piece backing band, The E-Type Boys. Maxi repeatedly gave them their dues. A talented bunch, with relentless percussion, the Kick Horns and vocalist LSK, twice brought forward to sing lead on songs for which he had helped Maxi find a melody. While Maxi’s own songs continually surprised, wrongfooting listeners with constant changes in tempo, style and genre, sometimes several times within one song, it was the Faithless tunes that brought the greatest reception – the cool reggae version of Weapon of Mass Destruction bringing the crowd alive and a dark blues version of We Come 1 merging into his own Homesick Blues.
• Musician John Grant plays a poignant gig, A Kidney for Oleg, at Union Chapel on May 2, to raise money for a man he met when studying Russian in 1988. They became friends, writing to each other for many years. Grant once spent six weeks with Oleg’s family in Ukraine. After losing touch for more than 20 years, Grant and Oleg reconnected and, when he learned Oleg was dying of kidney failure, the singer decided to try to raise money to help the friend who had been so good to him in the past to travel to Bellorussia for a transplant.
• John Power, of Cast and The La’s fame, plays a solo show at Islington Academy on April 29.
• To coincide with Blondie’s May 3 Roundhouse show, the band have announced a London pop-up shop and photo exhibition at Camden Market (open April 29-May 3). Snap up exclusive Blondie merchandise and previously unheard Charlie XCX co-written single Tonight.
• Regent Street Cinema celebrates the disappearing side of Soho with rare film screenings this weekend. From the smoky jazz clubs depicted in Tubby Hayes, All Night Long and The Small World Of Sammy Lee, the coffee bars, strip clubs and clip joints of Expresso Bongo, the beatnik scene of Beat Girl, to the lavish recreation of late 1950s London in Absolute Beginners.
• Former US marine, 6ft 4in Bruce Mississippi Johnson, bring his blues/soul vocals to The Blues Kitchen on May 2.
• Barbican’s Sound Unbound Festival takes place this weekend (April 29-30), aiming to break down boundaries between classical and contemporary music with more than 60 short concerts taking place all over the venue. Trumpeter Alison Balsom, pianist Chilly Gonzales (with Britten Sinfonia performing his new guide to the orchestra), DJ and composer Gabriel Prokofiev, and celebrated British composer Anna Meredith are among the exciting line-up.
• Desertfest, the UK’s premier stoner rock, doom, sludge and psych festival, returns to Camden for the sixth year, taking over various venues from April 28-30. Info from www.desertfest.co.uk/
• The Glitter Band play the Dublin Castle on April 29.
Breakin’ Convention artistic director Jonzi D
• Sadler’s Wells hip-hop theatre festival Breakin’ Convention takes place over the bank holiday weekend, ending with a free Park Jam at Spa Fields featuring Speech Debelle and Klashnekoff.
• Cult Liverpool imprint Skeleton Key Records bring their label tour to The Lexington on May 1 with The Sundowners and Edgar Jones & The Joneses.
• UK Americana combo Steepways launch debut album Holy Smoke at The Fiddler’s Elbow on April 29.
• Smirnoff and Fabric have teamed up to host a free Women Shaping Tomorrow event (May 2-4), featuring workshops, talks and networking opportunities.
• The Garage reopened last week with a new bar and revamped gig rooms. Check the listings for upcoming gigs.
• Notable gigs: The Mighty Mocambos, 229; Rejjie Snow, The Forum (April 28); Los Campesinos!, Koko; Dan Walsh, Green Note (May 1); Little Hurricane, Borderline (May 2); Alexander O’Neal, 229 (May 3).