Sunday, 24 July 2016
Green & Sunshine.
Festival fever broke through the clouds of another British Summer today as a ray of light hit the centre stage of the Liverpool International Music Festival (the anagram friendly LIMF...easy now!), hosted by the good people of the stunning, scenic Sefton Park in Beatles town just a few miles from Penny Lane. This night was headlined by more hometown heroes like The Wombats bringing to a close a four day festival circut that featured the explosive likes of Ms Dynamite, maestro Maverick Sabre and Red Dwarf's Craig Charles on the ones and twos, but it was the woman with the best album of last year still on repeat (her stellar sophomore set 'Blood') who amongst all this green was gold.
Lianne La Havas' reputation proceeds her. Grammy nominated after passing Jools Holland's 'Later' grey whistle test. World tours supporting the colourful Coldplay's latest and greatest live circus after working with the late, great Prince (the purple one was a close personal friend who even announced his infamous, iconic 'Hit N Run' guerilla tour from Lianne's living room...her actual living room!! After vegan pancakes we're sure (is that a thing?)). And two testifying albums, 'Is Your Love Big Enough' and 'Blood', surviving seeing the red of a sophomore slump and bleeding new life into the young star. No wonder the biggest British soul singer since Corinne Bailey Rae (who is back this year supporting Lionel Richie with her wonderful new record 'The Heart Speaks In Whispers' (you can see the inspiration)), is also one of the best singer/songwriters of this next generation that we have today...in the world.
And it only took this red and blue town in a field fit for a game a half of football to see and hear why as La Havas cut through records from two classic 45's, for what would be almost an hour for your moneys worth if this whole thing wasn't free! Yep that's right like the LIMF sort of says like Luther (Vandross not Elba), "the best festivals in life are free". And the former Capital of Culture and now the one of Lambananas got to see the once and future queen of soulful guitar music without giving up any silver for the 'Green and Gold' singer. Lianne opened proceedings with 'Au Cinema' a soundtrack worthy of the retro inspired drive in movie theatre on the other side of the city, the milleniaal, call to respond break-up anthem 'Forget' and more in the form of her first albums self-titled track. But it was when she moved on to promoting her latest material that she really showed she was 'Unstoppable' as the atmospheric, runaway single suggests. This couped with the Jamaican and Greek heritage of 'G & G' from L.L. really gave the LIMF something to initial.
Still, real highlights from a setlist of real instrumentation, from the vocals to the chords of tracks like the grand 'Grow' and the 'Midnight' closer, included Havas' taking this writer back to the electric lonesome, neon streets of this Springs Shibuya, Japan with her found in translation track 'Tokyo' and her own take on the Aretha signature 'I Say A Little Prayer' which showed so much respect and Franklin love forever, forever! You wouldn't want to take any coffee break time during this superb setlist, even if you have been waiting all week and day for it. Bless her with another album and year and Lianna La Havas will be headlining her own shows you'll even beg to pay to see. Just you wait! Because right now with that you see for free she does more in three quarters of an hour than most do in that much of their career. From Tokyo to zero, dot, double zero her time is now. You listening? Just watch! It's in her blood. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 17 July 2016
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Almost famous for something other than what you see on screen. Behind the scenes if you go inside the actors studios you just may hear more from your favourite artists. Actors who can lend their creative craft to another medium. From movies to music some of your favourite Oscar winning Hollywood stars have added albums to their Academy. And we're not just talking about Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack. Or even the "Rap" pack led by the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Will Smith. In no particular order here's ten of the top thespians making tracks today.
Oscar Isaac: Ever since the Oscar worthy Isaac went 'Inside Llewyn Davis' with those Cohen brother folk the next great actor of our generation has hit another tuning fork in the road of his set to be epic journey of a career. Much like his chamelonic slicked back and shaven or shaggy beard and curls looks he brings to his diverse roles he makes real, the man has married the two performing arts together in mesmerizing matrimony. You can see all of this in black and white for the beautifully shot and wrote 'Switchblade City' (his own outstanding written work) video across a New York Subway for Details magazine. Now we need more like the force of his inspired 'Star Wars' ditty. Forget about those awesome rumours that he may be playing Springsteen...we need an actual album too.
Robert Downey Jr.: R.D.J. may be universally, out of this world famous as much as he is charismatic these days for his career avenging Iron Man work for Marvel, but the late 90's was a stark contrast for the man that some call Tony. The promising actor went to war with drug addiction and you could see it during his guest spots on hit golden era show 'Ally McBeal'. What you could also see and hear however was just how talented the charming actor was behind a piano. These ivory vocals lead to a decadent debut of an album ('The Futurist') and then a powerfully poignant Elton John video much like the Justin Timberlake 'This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore' one where the actor that broke through as Chaplin mimed along to Elton's best 'I Want Love' in an empty mansion before lip-syncing was a thing. Now if Elton and Eminem can do it live we want a duet.
Scarlett Johansson: Losing yourself in translation, listening to Johansson sing karaoke with Bill Murray in Tokyo isn't the only way you can see different shades of Scarlett. Even if the Black Widow's Japan classic with 'Scrooged' lead to a Sofia Coppela special reunion for 'A Murray Christmas' variety show last fall. Scarlett Johansson may have been missing here, but you can't let her 'Break Up' duet album with sensational singer/songwriter Pete Yorn pass you by. It was more than a gimmick or the one big hit 'Relator'. Just listen to her compellingly channel 'I Am The Cosmos' on her own. Or her own beautiful solo album 'Anywhere I Lay My Head' comprised of covers of compositions by the legend Tom Waits. And we all know how successful the 'Big In Japan' singer is between scripts and songsheets. Underrated isn't the word.
Jeff Bridges: With a voice like Beau's brother you just know this dude has the True Grit required to make music to drink White Russians too. The man that can go from Tron to country in a chord or code change really knows how to make a legacy for himself. It all started with his country strong work in 'Crazy Heart'...which also showed just how good Irishman Colin Farrell could jig as a Texan singer. This Oscar nominated performance lead to the gravelly voiced storyteller cutting a self-titled country L.P. that really made a name for itself. Bridging the gap between music and movies Jeff knows how to really tie everything together.
Terrence Howard: With Robert, Scarlett, Jeff and even Gwyneth Paltrow's 'Glee'-ful forarys into music you just know the jam sessions between scenes for the 'Iron Man' movies were something to marvel at. And even though he eventually got replaced by the man that was ahead of it all this year as Miles Davis, Don Cheadle, Terrence Howard could have joined in too. Because the man that was given a record deal after rapping up his hip-hop film 'Hustle & Flow' alongside 'Fast & Furious' rapper/actor Ludacris flipped it all completely. Releasing a jazzy classic, albeit cruelly critically wrote off album 'Shine Through It' that was his soul 'Sanctuary'. That wasn't rap but every other genre that influenced it. Now following his disappointment he's back in the game as T.V. show soap hip-opera's Lucious Lyon, running an entertainment series 'Empire'. But we'd love another album that shines through it all. Please Terrence! Don't stay off 'Mr. Johnson's Lawn'!
Jamie Foxx: Comedian Jamie Foxx may have had the last laugh on co-star and rival Howard's album which he said went double plastic. But the man that made his Oscar gold with 'Ray' knew how to hit platinuum too and not just when channeling Charles for Kanye West's 'Gold Digger'. The 'Slow Jamz' expert has shown he's a music, movie and comedy triple-threat with four albums added to his impressive genre and store section defying and defining catalogue. His biggest hits include 'Unpredictable', 'Extravaganza', 'Blame It', 'Fall For Your Type' and of course...'Hollywood'. Funny!
Zooey Deschanel: Zooey is far from a 'New Girl' when it comes to music and we're not talking about her 'Yes Man' mock-group Munchkin By Proxy or when the actress sings 'It's Cold Outside' in the shower with Will Ferrell's 'Elf'. Not only has she cut cute collaborations with '500 Days Of Summer' co-star Joesph Gordon-Levitt...who we need to hear more from. She's also hit record on her perfect She & Him partnership with maverick musician M. Ward. The couplets couple even crafted a haunting, hallmark Christmas album just in time for the holidays. Now you really must stay!
Ryan Gosling: 'La La Land' has another surprise for us as the trailer for Ryan Gosling and Emma Stones 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' reunion from 'Whiplash' director Damien Chazzelle shows Ryan really can carry a note like he was singin' in the rain for this Gene Kelly like classic dance number. Now it'll be all the guys screaming "oh come on" as Gosling strips away more layers. As the Hollywood heartthrob far from an ugly duckling is really black swanning right now. Heard it all before? Than just listen to the Dead Man Bones of his choir backed chorus of folk music bandmanship...also in time for Christmas. This guy who you didn't even think was funny until his turn with another actor come singer Russell Crowe really is nice.
Jared Leto: Chickens and eggs, jokes on us. Is this guy a singer or actor? He used to be few ('Fight Club') and far ('American Psycho') between but after joining the skinny of Matthew McConaughey's Oscar winning 'Dallas Buyers Club' this is no act. And as this rock stars punk clown prince is set to join Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger's Joker squad (not to mention Mark Hamill's always animated 'Killing Joke') this good bad guy will either be an ace in the hole winning hand or career suicide. If the latter is true and it's just another 15 minutes of fame Jared just has some other little project to fall back on...something called 30 Seconds To Mars.
Joaquin Phoenix: Inspiring this all Phoenix rose from walking the line as the greatest country star of all time in his beautiful biopic to coming back down to the ashes of a Zach Galafianakis looking 'I'm Not There', launching a W.T.F. rap career like an in reverse Terrence Howard. Turns out it was all a joke for cousin Casey Affleck's mockumentary. The Academy accredited is back to his acting best ('Inherent Vice'), but with a voice like that it's time he cashed in on some of that Johnny country. Time for Phoenix to return to that ring of fire.