1 Mary J Blige
No longer a distant R&B diva, Mary J’s London Sessions album helped the nine-time Grammy-winner to connect with a younger audience reared on Amy Winehouse and Disclosure. Yet, as that jaw-dropping Glasto 2015 performance showed, her USP remains her ability to emote the hell out of every single note. No more drama? Don’t bet on it.
02 Arena, SE10, Fri; touring to 30 Oct
2 Field Music
Austerity’s answer to Steely Dan, the Brewis brothers have quietly built up an impressive catalogue of spry, brainiac pop within strict financial constraints. Recent efforts have pushed the boat out to include brass and strings, fully realising the band’s glistening potential.
Gateshead, Sat; London, Wed; touring to 29 Oct
3 Rough Trade 40
This anniversary concert for the crucible of British independent music features feisty one-off collaborations between original Rough Trade associates and keepers of the flame. Scritti Politti are joined by Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor; the Pop Group pool resources with Detroit post-punk revivalists Protomartyr; and John Grant continues his excursions into gnarly synthpop with the help of Wrangler, featuring Cabaret Voltaire’s Stephen Mallinder.
4 Ezra Furman
Furman’s recent Big Fugitive Life EP showcased the full range of his talents, from exuberant sax-driven rock’n’roll to a heartbreaking account of his grandfather’s escape from the Nazis. Meet a complex indie-punk dude who likes to party, often in lippy and a dress.
O2 Ritz, Manchester, Thu; touring to 31 Oct
5 Simple Things festival
Reflecting the diverse musical values of its host city, the programme for the sixth year of this Bristol festival includes – among others – Kano, Warpaint, Charlotte Church and a live performance from horror maestro John Carpenter, the godfather of darkwave synth.