Barbican, London Sets by the Malian husband and wife and a group dating back to the 30s featured fine harmonising and inspired guitar solos
This was a rousing and intriguing pairing that could turn into something more interesting than cleverly packaged nostalgia. Here, after all, were veteran musicians from Africa and the US with remarkably similar histories. Mali’s bestselling husband-and-wife team of Amadou and Mariam met in the sandy compound of the Bamako Institute for the Blind in 1975, while the original lineup of those gospel harmony specialists, the Blind Boys of Alabama, got together in the late 30s at what was then called the Talladega Institute for the Negro Blind. Both went on to international success, and both were strongly influenced by R&B.
First up were the Blind Boys, whose last original member, Jimmy Carter, was born in 1929 and is still in fine soulful voice. They concentrated on the enthusiastic revival of old classics, from People Get Ready to Amazing Grace, and were backed by their own guitarist Joey Williams, and the drummer and bassist/ngoni player from Amadou and Mariam’s band.
The R&B legend reveals he will play three more shows before taking a break for surgery in September
Stevie Wonder is to undergo a kidney transplant. The 69-year-old singer told the crowd at a gig in London’s Hyde Park on 6 July that he would give three more concerts this summer before the operation in September.
He made the announcement after playing his 1972 hit Superstition, saying that he wanted to prevent rumours about his health from spreading. “I have a donor and it’s all good,” he said.
From his teenage years on Motown to his funk masterpieces of the 70s and later pop ballads, Stevie Wonder’s music is nothing but joyous. Ahead of his performance in London’s Hyde Park this weekend, we rank an incomparable body of work
Who wants to hear a 12-year-old singing Great American Songbook standards? Apparently Berry Gordy, whose big – and baffling – idea seemed to be that Wonder should go into cabaret, as evidenced by these syrupy orchestral selections. Wonder gives it his best shot, but they are way beyond his abilities.
Manchester Apollo Uplifting anthems came laden with poignant nostalgia on a night where the vivacious veteran showed no sign of stopping
Ten years ago, Gladys Knight appeared in Manchester on her “farewell tour”. That obviously didn’t work out. Her opener tonight, I’ve Got to Use My Imagination, refers to “reasons to keep on keepin’ on”. A superb cover of Luther Vandross’s Never Too Much allows her to yell: “I just don’t want to stop.”
And why should she? At 75, she may be less nimble on her feet than she used to be, but she looks fantastic and her voice still justifies her nickname: the empress of soul.
(Warner Bros) These guide demos of his own songs, recorded by other artists, show just how brilliant and casually confident Prince was
For Prince, writing for other artists was a way to proliferate his musical influence and secure his legacy. (Depressingly, his closest modern analogue in that respect is Ed Sheeran, a man spreading a considerably thinner gift thinner still.) Originals, a collection of Prince’s guide demos for his funk proselytisers, shows the breadth and brilliance of his compositional talents – and also the judiciousness underpinning his own catalogue.
(Columbia) Midas-touch producer’s divorce album moves from reggaeton to yacht pop with vocalists Yebba, Miley Cyrus and more – it’s oddly old-fashioned
Earlier this year, Mark Ronson lamented the state of modern pop in a Guardian interview, saying songs are currently produced to sound “as loud as possible coming out of an iPhone”. His new album duly feels like a pop album of old, centred around some truly excellent singles, and padded with filler.
Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis’s film, Yesterday, imagines what might have happened if the Fab Four had never existed. Guardian writers and Beatles experts offer their own alternative histories
Towards the end of Jon Savage’s masterful book 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded, there’s a telling line from an interview with the Who’s Pete Townshend, surveying the disparate pop scene in December of that year. “It needs the Beatles,” he said, “to sort things out.”
Jazz Cafe, London The 80s Mogadishu group were unknown in the west for decades. Now they sound determined to savour the spotlight
Dur-Dur Band are a time capsule, the sound of 80s Somalia fossilised in funk. Mogadishu musicians Abdillahi Ujeery and Mohammed Karama’s group was formed in the face of great upheaval: the nation’s former government overthrown, replaced by a socialist regime with an (initially) pro-arts agenda. This new government abandoned ties with the Soviet Union, allowing an influx of American pop on to Somali radio that led to exciting fusion sounds: Chicago soul with Banaadiri beats, Motown melodies with dhaanto grooves. Dur-Dur Band, with their transfixing Somali-disco licks and party-starting spirit, epitomised this new dawn.
Playing at London’s Jazz Cafe, they sound as invigorating as they did back then, when they’d perform energetic sets as house band at Mogadishu’s legendary Juba Hotel. It was a twist of fate that led to their reformation, and to the packed-out crowd in attendance tonight. Dur-Dur Band, whose music never travelled far beyond Somalia in their heyday, were unknown in the west for decades, until a Milwaukee musicologist discovered a dusty cassette tape in 2007 that had survived the country’s civil war. When he uploaded it online, reissues of their music on cult labels Awesome Tapes From Africa and Analog Africa followed, leading to a resurgence.
Meridian Water, London The sound isn’t always up to standard in Field Day’s new Tottenham home, but Diplo, Deerhunter and Death Grips are among those who transcend it
It’s not only first-time house buyers who are getting pushed out of inner London – it’s festivals, too. After getting priced out of Victoria Park by the live events behemoth AEG and its flat, white offering All Points East, plus a not particularly charmed year in Brockwell Park, Field Day has – much like the nightclubs cropping up around the capital’s periphery – decamped to Tottenham’s marshlands in the far north of the city. This site features an outdoor main stage next to four cavernous warehouse units; it’s no surprise that they’re working with the team that turned a London printing factory into atmospheric, daytime clubbing space Printworks.
The central warehouse space is the most successful. It doesn’t have quite the same sci-fi drama as Printworks, but it does have an equally pounding soundsystem. John Talabot’s DJ set, built around portentous minor chords, finds a sweet spot between rational techno and emotional deep house, while Mall Grab’s breakbeat trance and junglist breaks perfectly matches the 90s-nostalgic fashion – platform Filas, Moschino shirts – worn by the Gen Z crowd. However, this space is host to the worst live set of the weekend, by Lost Souls of Saturn, the duo of Phil Moffa and Seth Troxler (the latter has sustained his career by being 10% more charismatic that any other tech house DJ, which is to say 50% less charismatic than almost anyone else). Boring, self-important ambience links undercooked rhythmic passages, under embarrassingly juvenile visuals that juxtapose commerce (bad, but looks cool) with war (ditto). Their overblown grandeur is shown up by Kelly Lee Owens and Marie Davidson, who are spellbinding with little more than a mic and a kick drum.