Arts and Entertainment

Sometimes, even the most hardened doubters of Gary Barlow’s MOR entertainer schtick have had to concede that he can write ’em. Cynics can relax, though, because no such concessions are required for his first solo album since 1999, which falls below Barlow’s best – “Patience”, “Rule the World” – at just the point when he needed to up his game.

Michael McIntyre, The O2, London

If there had been a spot for stand-up in the London 2012 closing ceremonies, it would surely have gone to Michael McIntyre.

Katy B was a flash of quality on a night when sponsors seemed to dominate

Olympic Torch Relay Finale, Hyde Park London; Public Service Broadcasting, Bul & Gate, London

Only Dizzee Rascal can save us from this mess

A new scientific model will help to predict EMI's star acts, such as Kylie Minogue, make the perfect song

The perfect pop song? It's the algorithm, not the rhythm, that counts

Predicting a No 1 song used to be a mug's game. But today a team of data experts and computer geeks will generate a scientific model which promises to help EMI's star acts craft the perfect hit.

Album: Cheryl, A Million Lights (Polydor)

Cheryl Cole here offers her most confident set yet, augmenting the familiar collaborators – will.i.am, Calvin Harris, Taio Cruz – with fresher talent like producer Panther, who brings a range of sonic exclamation-marks to the twitchy electro of "Girl in the Mirror".

Singer Chris Martin and the rest of the group are cashing in on the wristbands

The Coldplay gigs that are impossible to forget (for all the wrong reasons...)

Fans claim glowing wristbands given out at concerts are keeping them awake at night

Coldplay handed 2 million wristbands handed out on their Mylo Xyloto tour

Wristbands give Coldplay fans a late flash-back

Coldplay fans have been spooked after the coloured wristbands which turn stadiums into a spectacle of lights during the band's shows suddenly began flashing of their own accord, days after the event.

Album: Maxïmo Park, The National Health (V2)

There's a drive and urgency about Maxïmo Park's The National Health that perfectly matches frontman Paul Smith's dominant lyrical theme, of taking arms against a sea of troubles in order to forge a better life for yourself.

Coldplay, the Emirates Stadium, London

“Jump, jump with us,” Chris Martin demands before “Charlie Brown”, Coldplay’s Big Country-style stomp, and his adoring fans promptly obey, leaping in a sea of brightly lit, radio-controlled wristbands. There are numerous, very vocal Coldplay haters, but this slick indie quartet really do try awfully hard to please. Martin even apologises for “all the crap [travel, food prices etc] you have to go through to go to a concert these days”.

Tunbridge Wells' Forum scores NME top music venue award

Royal Tunbridge Wells may be the traditional voice of Middle England’s morality but the busybodies are in danger of being drowned out after one of its nightspots was named the best small music venue in the UK.

Rutter says: 'I probably don't listen to as much opera as people expect me to in my free time. Sometimes, I need to switch off from work.'

Cultural Life: Claire Rutter, soprano

Theatre: I went to see the ENO's 'Tales of Hoffmann'. There's some great singing from everyone. The production was very entertaining and a bit wacky in places, which appeals to me. It's quite a long opera, but Richard Jones's production didn't feel like it. I sat in the dress circle for the very first time – I usually sit in the stalls – and enjoyed champagne in the intervals. I think this production would also appeal to newcomers to opera. It was a worthwhile night out, and nice to be on the other side of the curtain.

Niceness rocks! Ballads take centre stage at the Brits

To some they're just the stars of the 'New Boring' but Adele, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay took the major awards last night

Critic's View: The Brit Awards, O2 Arena, London

It was crying out for Cocker, Ross... even Gervais

Britons rule in the album charts

Adele is at the forefront of a new British revival in the album charts with home-grown artists recording their best sales since the mid-1990s when Oasis and the Spice Girls ruled.

Album: James Levy & the Blood Red Rose, Pray to Be Free (Heavenly)

PTBF is an attempt by the Brooklyn singer-songwriter James Levy and one half of the Pierces (Alison) to create an orchestral pop-duet album in the spirit of Lee and Nancy. It is a near-total triumph: Levy's smooth baritone and Pierce's breathy vocals wrapping themselves around songs of love and loss (mainly loss).

Chris Martin's band are not allied with Spotify

Coldplay 'wrong' on download boycott

Legal action against illegal file-sharers has helped to bring an 8 per cent rise in global digital-music revenues, but an industry report claims stars should stop boycotting streaming services such as Spotify.

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University Edible Garden, Leeds – a sustainable garden in the centre of the university, passers-by can help themselves to the home-grown produce
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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
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Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz