I was just picking up my ticket and earplugs when Patti Smith was ushered through the crowd in front of me. I would have said hello, but the last time I spoke to her she threw a plate of sandwiches at me after I described her then-boyfriend, Allen Lanier of Blue Oyster Cult, as a ‘certifiable midget’.


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They look, famously, on the cover of last year’s Tonight At The Arizona album, like the wayward off-spring of The Band, with whose songs and music their own colourful excursions into the hinterlands of ‘the old, weird America’, as essayed by Bob and The Band on The Basement Tapes, are frequently compared.


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Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
London Wembley Arena
Thursday, May 22 2008

“Good evening” says Robert Plant, flinging back a mane of tangled hair from his face, early on in tonight’s extraordinary show. “And welcome to. . .” he goes on, and pauses. “Well, I don’t know what it is,” he says then with a smile that before it’s finished turns into a grin, and a big one at that, visible evidence of a man clearly enjoying what he’s doing, even if he can’t put a name to it. “But you’re welcome to it,” he adds, “whatever it is.”


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“This is an old song,” says AA Bondy, introducing the next number in his opening set at the third Club UNCUT night at the Borderline. He’s not kidding, either. What I had presumed would be some lost early gem from his back catalogue turns out to be a dark and powerfully brooding version of Blind Willie Johnson’s apocalyptic “John The Revelator”, originally recorded in 1930, which is going back some.


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Neil Young
Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday, March 6 2008

The last time I saw Neil Young at the Apollo was in 2003, when he was touring to promote his ecological country rock opera, Greendale, still unreleased at the time, which meant no one had heard any of the songs. The unfamiliarity of what he then played provoked among the audience a certain restlessness that quickly gave way to collective dismay when it dawned on them that he wasn’t going to play merely a selection of songs from the record, but the album in what turned out to be its indigestible entirety.


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Earlier, I’d been telling someone that when I saw Pete Doherty at a small Soho club called Jazz After Dark, back in January 2006, it had occurred to me, no doubt somewhat fancifully, that this was to some perhaps small but nevertheless vital extent what it might have been like to see the fledgling Dylan in some bar in Greenwich Village, when the 60s were still young.


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Bear with me a minute while I blow away a few of these cobwebs. Yeah, that’s better. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I went yesterday to a screening of Martin Scorsese’s Shine a Light, his film of The Rolling Stones in concert at New York's Beacon Theatre.


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The Rock Against Racism manifesto at the time of the second of 1978's major anti-fascist festivals, held in September in Brockwell Park and featuring Elvis Costello and Aswad, called for: "Rebel music, street music. Music that breaks down people's fear of one another. Now music. Music that knows who the real enemy is. Rock against racism. Love music. Hate racism."


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I won’t after all be one of the 20,000 people who tonight will be at the O2 Arena for the much-anticipated Led Zeppelin reunion show. I had a ticket, but in the end gave it up to John Mulvey, who will now deservedly be there, along with uncut.co.uk news supremo, Farah Ishaq.


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We arrive what we think is early at Wembley Arena on Tuesday night for Babyshambles’ biggest headline show of their career, but are anyway still too late to see opening act Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong, who are ending their set with a petulant burst of feedback when we get there.


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Editor's Letter

The 39th Uncut Playlist Of 2014


A lot to get through here, but I'm indebted once more to the resource that is www.nyctaper.com, who this week have posted two amazing live sets by Steve Gunn and Ryley Walker. Elsewhere, there's a new Waterboys track to check out,...