This week’s new live music

Massive Attack | Cheatahs | Jason Isbell | Craig Leon | Nikki Iles & Norma Winstone’s Printmakers | Dutilleux

Massive Attack, On tour

Even with a genre-shattering band such as Massive Attack, there still exists the notion of a definitive lineup. However, the group that made their first two classic albums – comprising 3D, Mushroom, Daddy G and Tricky – were destined for greatness but, given their volatile personalities, possibly never longevity. Since their mid-1990s heyday, though, the band have gained a monumental stature, embracing guest vocalists and political issues, becoming a kind of Newsnight version of Gorillaz, and lately working with film-maker Adam Curtis. The band have also attempted a rapprochement with Tricky, who has recorded for their new album – material from which may well be aired here – only to then apparently abruptly end the association. Evidently, like a dangerous country, Massive Attack is interesting to visit, though you wouldn’t want to live there.

Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Tue & Wed; O2 Academy, Glasgow, Fri; touring to 5 Feb

JR

Cheatahs, London

Noisy but diffident, shoegaze seemed an unlikely candidate for revival. Yet since its heyday, distinct waves of bands have emerged to swell the congregation of the “sonic cathedral” (as contemporary critics dubbed the sound). Cheatahs, a London-based band from all over the place, have been pretty fervent in their worship of the scene’s major players; their sound a blend of My Bloody Valentine wow and flutter and Ride’s vaporous vocals, with a hint of Dinosaur Jr attack. Received wisdom on this kind of music cites its vagueness of songwriting, but Cheatahs have timed their return with a good-quality second album, Mythologies, at such a time that their emphasis on texture, noise and abstraction seems like a breath of moderately fresh air.

XOYO, EC2, Tue

JR

Jason Isbell, On tour

Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell Photograph: David McClister

Once a member of Drive-By Truckers, the 21st century’s most southern and most rocking southern rock band, Jason Isbell has expanded his brief to rock the whole of the US. A songwriter who understands the alternative country audience of romantically disappointed ex-servicemen, heavy-drinking manufacturing workers and long-estranged high-school sweethearts, Isbell is increasingly able to address them in songs with strong tunes. He is undoubtedly releasing records into an environment where particular hospitality is being extended to musicians telling rugged stories in an artful way, but Isbell’s also producing strong work. His current album, Something More Than Free, has its share of widescreen Springsteen-style narratives, yet also offers perky Bakersfield country and Neil Youngy moments of melancholic insight.

Concorde 2, Brighton, Tue; O2 Academy Bristol, Wed; O2 Forum Kentish Town, NW5, Fri; touring to 24 Jan

JR

Craig Leon, London

Craig Leon put the reverb in Martin Rev and Alan Vega’s Suicide. He also produced Blondie, the Ramones, Richard Hell & the Voidoids and the Fall, as well as having a hand in the emergence of many seminal New York bands from the 1970s and beyond. In 1981, he released his first solo album, a synthesizer record called Nommos, on John Fahey’s label Takoma. A concept album based on the creation myth of the Dogon tribe of Mali, it became something of a cratediggers’ classic. Bootlegged a few times, and eventually reissued by Superior Viaduct (without Leon’s blessing), Nommos was ahead of its time technologically: its kraut-like motorik rhythms used a very early version of the LinnDrum. Originally, Leon wanted to record with a string section, but couldn’t get the money or resources together to do it at the time. Now, more than 30 years later, he’s begun to perform Nommos live with a string quartet; for this date, he’s joined by the Silk Street Sinfonia.

Cafe Oto, E8, Sun

JA

Nikki Iles & Norma Winstone’s Printmakers, Shoreham-by-Sea

Norma Winstone
Norma Winstone Photograph: PR

The presence of four of Britain’s best jazz singers at the South Coast jazz festival (Thu to 24 Jan) – Anita Wardell, Christine Tobin, Claire Martin and Norma Winstone – bears witness to Martin’s appreciation of the vocalist’s art in her role as co-programmer. In picking the Printmakers sextet, she reminds audiences of the world-league gifts of Winstone, but also brings a jazz group who count the English countryside among their inspirations. The Printmakers, with co-leading pianist Nikki Iles and guitar star Mike Walker, mingle covers of Joni Mitchell with jazz, Latin and country, expressed in vaporous harmonies evoking a soft-hued rural England.

Ropetackle Arts Centre, Fri

JF

Dutilleux, Poole & Cardiff

For much of his career Henri Dutilleux did not receive the attention his shining, beautifully crafted works deserved. It was only in the last decade or so before his death in 2013 that he was finally recognised internationally as a voice whose stylistic descent from Debussy, Ravel and Roussel was just as valid as the modernist line through Messiaen and Boulez. The centenary of Dutilleux’s birth falls on Friday, and there are concerts to mark it across the UK. In Poole, this includes cello concerto Tout Un Monde Lointain; the BBC National Orchestra of Wales has two of Dutilleux’s own works; while the Wigmore Hall (W1, 24 Jan) places his music alongside that of Debussy and Ravel.

Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre For The Arts, Wed; St David’s Hall, Cardiff, Fri

AC

Contributors

Jennifer Lucy Allan, Andrew Clements, John Fordham & John Robinson

The GuardianTramp

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