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The Charlatans
Thursday 11/12
The Charlatans @ The Howard Theatre
$29.50 / $35
Modern Nature was the eighth Charlatans album to enter the British top ten, hitting number seven in the week of release. All four singles from the record, 'Talking In Tones', 'So Oh', 'Come Home Baby', 'Let The Good Times Be Never Ending' were A-listed at BBC 6Music and featured on playlists at Radio 2, XFM and Absolute Radio. In October 2014, the Charlatans were given a lifetime achievement award by Q magazine, the icing on the cake after journalists wrote glowing reviews of Modern Nature across the UK and international press. Reflecting on the past twelve months and the long process that brought The Charlatans to this point, Burgess says that though the band were confident that they'd made one of the best records of their career, "until something happens you never really know. But it's gone as well as we could have hoped." It's not like they had an easy ride, however. The shadow of the death of their dear friend and drummer Jon Brookes after a long battle with brain cancer in August 2013, hung over Burgess, Mark Collins, Martin Blunt and Tony Rogers. Modern Nature was all about doing right with by memory. "Jon was adamant that there was going to be another Charlatans record, and you have to put that into your own thoughts," says Rogers. Looking back now, Burgess says that Modern Nature has "transcended being an album about death, about a tragedy. It's gone beyond that now, which is everything that Jon could have hoped for. He wouldn't have wanted it to be about something as final as death." What Modern Nature is about is soul. Collins says that "There was a soulful element that we all agreed on. Martin in particular wanted to make a soulful record. It's quite a big word isn't it, soul?" Burgess agrees that it was a difficult challenge for the band to set themselves. "What is a soulful record? It's all the fibres of everybody's being. It's not a cliché and there are no obvious reference points. It's just everyone's spirit." As well as Blunt's determination that the group record a soul album, Burgess was keen to try and capture some of the fire that first bound them together nearly three decades ago - not to go backwards, but to inspire them to create a fierce new energy: "we put everything into it. Everything that we did was something new. I was really inspired by our first record, because then we were doing everything for the first time and there were no reference points." United in Big Mushroom with Jim Spencer at the controls, The Charlatans were determined to make a positive, upbeat record. "We were aching for the summer when we wrote it" says Burgess. "It was freezing and we were trying to write songs that made us happy. " Music that the band were listening to in the studio and their sitting room, a huge space wallpapered with photographs of mountain scenes, included Arthur Russell's Let's Go Swimming, Brazilian funk, Northern Soul, William Onyeabor, Serge Gainsbourg with Jean Claude Vannier "weird, electronic, Moog-sounding things", Curtis Mayfield and "a lot of stuff with decent basslines. We were all dancing to Maxine Brown, 'Right Back Where It Started From'". The band all agree that despite the "big negative" of their loss, the aim was always to try and transcend tragedy while remembering their old friend. Jon Brookes is given songwriting credits on the album, and his drums remained where they were in the studio, tuned exactly as he left them. Blunt is quick to credit Brookes for his input in the direction the band were taking from 2001 album, Wonderland. "Jon did start bringing in loops and things, trying to be that Man Machine." The three temporary Charlatans drummers - Pete Salisbury of The Verve, Stephen Morris of New Order and Gabriel Gurnsey of DFA's avant-disco group Factory Floor - had to turn up and record parts based on drum machine loops on Brookes' kit. "Gabe reckons he got a slap," says Mark. "Halfway through a take he stopped drumming because he felt a smack on the back of his head. Nobody is saying we believe in things from the other side, but...." The result is The Charlatans' most confident, effortless, light album for years. Mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Portishead), its title comes from the avant-garde filmmaker Derek Jarman's diary collection, a copy of which fell on Burgess' head as he worked on solo material with psychedelic electronic folk group Grumbling Fur. First out of the traps is Talking In Tones, to come out as a limited edition 7" via The Quietus website's record label, which launched the career of East India Youth and earlier this year released Grumbling Fur's critically acclaimed third album. It builds out of wheezing, popping rhythms into a graceful, understated and strange pop song about telepathy in relationships, the title for which came to Burgess after a walk through the streets of London. In Modern Nature, The Charlatans have achieved that rare feat of making a gigantic step forward without losing what made them so special in the first place... and they're still looking toward the future too. Tim Burgess says that they're already itching to get started on a follow-up to Modern Nature: "The idea is to go and make another record quite quickly. It'd be great to do one while the feeling is so good," he says. And, as Tony Rogers promises: "the best is yet to come".
Lalah Hathaway
Saturday 09/26
Lalah Hathaway @ The Howard Theatre
$52.50 / $60
An instrument embodied, timbre unmatched with words that call our most internal emotion… Lalah Hathaway’s presence is never mistaken nor forgotten. Skilled to the highest order, Hathaway’s voice possesses both power and vulnerability with a quiet resonance that fills spaces of grandeur and the hearts of many. “Lalah Hathaway is, quite simply put, the truth.” (Diriye Osman, Huffington Post) Born into musical legacy, the offspring of musicians Donny Hathaway and Eulaulah Hathaway, Lalah Hathaway’s career was never a choice: “I was always a musician” Hathaway clarifies, “there was never a moment of maybe I’ll be…” Preparations for the release of Hathaway’s debut self-titled album were firmly in motion during her final semester at Berklee College of Music, where the Chicago-native nurtured her multi-instrumental and songwriting talents. Since inception, Hathaway’s musical journey has remained devoted to education and musicianship. “I never wanted to be known as just a singer. I always wanted to be a well-rounded musician, with my voice as my primary instrument.” Proof of Hathaway’s musical prowess is evident in her work, operating as performer, musician, writer and producer. Revered by some of the greatest musicians of the last century, a myriad of collaborations and international performances signpost Hathaway’s 25-year success. A true bridge between masters of the Jazz and Soul traditions and new generations of Popular Music innovators, Lalah Hathaway has performed with greats such as Stevie Wonder, Anita Baker, Prince, Mary J. Blige, Metropole Orkest, Esperanza Spalding, David Foster, Snoop Dogg, Natalie Cole, Robert Glasper Experiment, Terri Lyne Carrington, Marcus Miller, Dianne Reeves, Dizzy Gillespie, David Sanborn, Rachelle Ferrell, Take 6, The Winans, Me'Shell NdegeOcello, Kirk Whalum, Donald Lawrence, Snarky Puppy, Christian McBride and many more. Enamoured with colour, space and the evolution of music, Hathaway’s six studio albums chronicle an emotive journey through R&B, Jazz, and Soul. The inflections of Blues, Funk, Gospel, Classical, Country, Rock and Folk cited in her work, are a reflection of this virtuoso’s versatility. With the 2014 Grammy win for Best R&B Performance fresh in mind, Hathaway describes how her career continues to rejuvenate with new beginnings and possibilities. “Throughout my career there have been points where new recognition or opportunity has emerged that inspires me in new ways.” Underscored by singing three notes at one time (a chord), the Grammy-winning performance of Hathaway’s 1991 single “Something,” recreated with Jazz collective Snarky Puppy, affirms Hathaway’s timeless relevance and documents the vast breadth of her vocal capabilities. Lalah Hathaway is, in every sense, a live performer. 2015 will bring the release of Lalah Hathaway LIVE, Hathaway’s first ever live album. Supported by her international fans and peers, Lalah Hathaway LIVE is a result of a successful internet-based crowd-funding campaign. “I wanted to make an album for the fans and with the fans. My fans constantly relay to me how the music they love on my records is taken to a whole new level when they experience it live.” Evident in her online presence and strong interaction with social media, Hathaway’s engaging, comedic personality is embraced by her fans, both new and longstanding. “The listeners are a huge part of my live performance and I want their presence to be captured and acknowledged on this album.” Whether live, recorded, televised or online, Lalah Hathaway’s incomparable skill, talent, musicianship and presence are recognised by artists and fans the world over. Like her father before her, Lalah Hathaway stands as music quality personified, optimum in every way.
A Darlene Love Christmas
Saturday 12/19
A Darlene Love Christmas @ The Howard Theatre
$45 / $50
It's no wonder The New York Times raves: "Darlene Love's thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton's guitar or Bob Dylan's lyrics." Through the years, Darlene Love continues to captivate audiences worldwide with her warm, gracious stage presence and sensational performances. Since the early sixties, as part of Phil Spector's wall of sound hit factory, this great lady has done it all...from major motion pictures like the highly successful Lethal Weapon series to Broadway hits like Hairspray and Grease. She even starred as herself in Leader Of The Pack, credited as Broadway's first `jukebox musical.' Darlene has appeared on numerous television programs, running the gamut from her weekly appearances on Shindig to a recent guest spot on the PBS special entitled Women Who Rock. An autobiographical film is currently on the drawing board and another recent film that prominently features Darlene landed a distribution deal at the Sundance Festival - Twenty Feet to Stardom - is now in theatres across the country. The soundtrack CD will be released on June 22 and her book - "My name is Love, Darlene Love" - will be reissued to help promote the film. Darlene recently appeared on all the major network talk shows to promote it all - including a chat and performance with David Letterman. She will make some 100 appearances in the coming season. Darlene's background vocals with The Blossoms, for The Righteous Brothers, Sam Cook, Dionne Warwick, Marvin Gaye, and Elvis Presley (to name but a few) set the stage for her emergence as a star in her own right. She has truly walked that twenty feet to take the spotlight as her own. Her Billboard hits include: He's A Rebel, The Boy I'm Gonna Marry, Da Doo Ron Ron, Wait `Til My Bobby Gets Home, He's Sure the Boy I Love and the #1 holiday classic Christmas Baby Please Come Home, a song that she performs annually with Paul Shaffer and the CBS Symphony Orchestra on The Late Show With David Letterman ( this December marks her 27th appearance). Darlene Love received her industry's highest award when Better Midler, a great fan of her work, inducted her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the celebration, the two ladies enjoyed performing "He's A Rebel" together. As part of the festivities, Darlene also sang "He's A Fine, Fine Boy" backed by another distinguished fan, Bruce Springsteen. Another friend and fan, Stevie Van Sandt has championed her over the years and pushed her to come to New York. He wrote the the song "All Alone on Christmas" especially for Darlene to sing in the movie Home Alone 11. Rolling Stone Magazine has proclaimed Darlene Love to be "one of the greatest singers of all time" and that certainly rings true, but perhaps Paul Shaffer says it even more concisely: "Darlene Love is Rock N' Roll!