Reasoning with Self EP launch: Shareefa Energy and friends

D’Gaf, LondonGolden Blue and Shareefa Energy, D'Gaf, Jul 21, 2015, by Aaron Lee (1920x1080)To see spoken word poet, Shareefa Energy, and her performing friends is to witness a bountiful celebration of generosity and positivity. A celebration that smacks in the face of the continued tokenisation of women with agency in our society.

Shareefa launched her debut EP, called Reasoning with Self, at D’Gaf in Leyton, Tuesday evening, July 21, and to mark the occasion she organised her own spoken word poetry night with a guest line-up of all-female acts. What follows is simply a taste of what these eloquent sisters had to show. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Gorillaz – Demon Days

Parlophone Records, 2005Gorillaz - Demon Days artwork, wallpaper edit (1024x576)A gimmick. That’s what they put Gorillaz’ success down to. Despite everything that had been achieved by this unusual musical concoction in the 18 months since the launch of their 2001 debut album, detractors still labelled them a here today, gone tomorrow band. But little did they know that the virtual band, created by musician, Damon Albarn, and cartoonist, Jamie Hewlett, would front what would later be acknowledged as one of the most influential and progressive records of the noughties: Demon Days. Continue reading

BAFTA Games Awards 2015: a ceremony restoring faith in the game industry

Ashley Johnson, BAFTA Games 2015, Mar 12, 2015 (1366x697)In the last couple months, the annual string of overblown award shows has bestowed us with news stories about conflict, heroism and confirmation that it’s hilarious to see celebrities falling over. By contrast, the BAFTA Video Games Awards are rarely the stuff of TMZ-fuelled tabloid controversy. For starters, it still isn’t broadcast on national television (this year it was streamed via Twitch.tv), and most of the non-gaming presenters are probably minor celebrities even for the show’s UK-based watchers.

But that doesn’t stop the Games Awards being a repeatedly positive example of celebrating these digital creators, storytellers and engineers; many of whom demonstrate, as they accept their awards, a humility and altruism that the recipients at more established, celebrity-orientated award shows frequently lack. Continue reading

In memoriam: Leonard Nimoy

Mr Spock, Leonard Nimoy, Mar 16, 2010, by Pineapples101 (1331x749)Leonard Nimoy inspired so many generations with his defining role as Mr Spock from in original 1960s series of Star Trek. That’s where I saw him for the first time; sitting on my sofa, as my father, my brother and I absorbed the adventures of the crew of the starship Enterprise. Continue reading

Marlena Shaw: the underappreciated queen of soul

Marlena Shaw, press photo, Cadet, 01It’s a real struggle to try and sum up what’s so arresting about Marlena Shaw. This New York-born chanteuse of soul and blues is best known in the UK for her interpretation of ‘California Soul’, the exuberant, feel-good soul-stunner written by Ashford & Simpson.

From the instant Shaw’s coffee-blend-rich voice takes over from the gust of strings and hand claps that greet your ears, you are enveloped by visions of a picturesque California. Glamorous figures gliding by sun-soaked beach strips; open-topped convertibles streaking through the heat haze, coursing down bare roadways; M&S Food ad-style close-ups of buffet tables and barbeques awaiting party guests; lovers laughing together like not a thing in the world could trouble them. Not just good times, the best of times. Continue reading

In memoriam: Bobby Womack

Bobby Womack, Hague Jazz 2011, 16/06/2011, by Maurice Haak (1920x1080)Comfort and supreme sense of serenity. That’s the feeling that rouse within me when I heard Bobby Womack sing live for the first time at the Camden Roundhouse in April 2010.

I’d heard of this trailblazing soul man before, but at that point I couldn’t actually say I ‘knew’ his music with serious conviction. That night at the Roundhouse, I was there to see Bobby perform with Gorillaz – Damon Albarn and his circus of musical collaborators. My unfamiliarity with his legacy didn’t stop me from appreciating what a special moment it was to be in his presence and feel his energy, however.

I’ll never forget the atmosphere all around me from the crowd that night when he sung ‘Cloud of Unknowing’. A dreamy, ever-so-slightly foreboding song, steeped with organs and strings. It’s classic Albarn at his melancholic best. It’s also seemingly a complete world away from Womack’s lean-in-and-listen soul music, you might think. Yet, every syllable fluttered with emotion. The mood in the concert hall at that moment was breathless – the entire crowd had been beset by the same euphoria. Continue reading