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Formerly of the much-loved 10,000 Maniacs, Natalie Merchant (below), a woman with one of the most honeyed larynxes in America, comes to the UK for a short tour to promote her new single and stage favourite "Kind and Generous", from the lushly orchestrated Ophelia album. Merchant is a most confident performer and, as her outing on this year's Lilith Fair roadshow showed, she's on top form.

Academy, Manchester (0161-275 4815) tomorrow; Old Fruit Market, Glasgow (0141-287 5511) Sun, both 7.30pm

A barricade of noise will be erected at the Barbican as the American Pioneers series continues with Glenn Branca's Electric Guitar Swarm. Branca will be playing some specially commissioned work with his dozen or so six-string cohorts. The frenzy is preceded by two free shows in the foyer; Ben Neill plays with Helmet's Page Hamilton at 5pm, while Marc Ribot fuses Cuban rhythms and rock and roll at 6.30pm.

Barbican, London EC2 (0171 638 8891) tomorrow 8pm

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