Prosecute Damon Albarn over on stage cigarette urges anti-smoking charity

An anti-smoking charity called today for Gorillaz frontman Damon Albarn to be prosecuted for smoking a cigarette on stage on the first night of a tour.

Rock's Faustian pact with the theatre

From Mamma Mia to Jersey Boys, the stage is awash with kitschy jukebox musicals inspired by pop bands. But Damon Albarn's Monkey kicked off a credible age for the rock musical, as new works from Tori Amos, Fela Kuti and Sparks now show. Andy Gill reports

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Leading article: Great expectations

After the breathtaking opening ceremony put on by Beijing in last year's Olympics, it is as well that the organisers of the London Games are beginning their own preparations for that event early. As we report today, the prodigiously- talented musician Damon Albarn is being sounded out to be artistic director of the 2012 opening ceremony. Another contender is Stephen Daldry, the decorated theatre and film director.

Leading article: Roll up the banners

This weekend, the music festivals at Leeds and Reading will be flag-free zones. The organisers, Festival Republic, have decided that the elaborate pennants waved at open-air events may obscure the audience's view of Radiohead and Arctic Monkeys. The same company threatens to outlaw them at next year's Glastonbury, after they threatened to occlude the sight of Damon Albarn from Blur on the main stage in June.

Album: Bill Frisell, Disfarmer (Nonesuch)

Even Damon Albarn and Jack White have some distance to go to equal the genre-bending achievements of Bill Frisell, not just the outstanding jazz guitarist of his era but also the most diversely prolific, equally at home providing accompaniment to Buster Keaton movies as he is collaborating with Elvis Costello.

It Felt Like A Kiss, Hardman Square, Manchester

It begins even before you get inside the building. There is a big list of warnings to the audience. It will be a promenade production with stairs to climb and uneven surfaces.

DJ Taylor: Picking at the carrion

Why do serious commentators responding to the deaths of popular cultural icons feel the need to project their political preoccupations out over the coffin?

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Steve Rider opposes plan to provide affordable homes for locals in Devon hamlet

Candi Staton, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

'You're looking at the genuine article tonight," Candi Staton politely boasts before her rich, honey-tinged voice caresses the Elvis Presley hit "Suspicious Minds". The 65-year-old country-soul diva refuses to belt out songs, and has no time for the vocal gymnastics of an X Factor automaton or even for the brassiness of, say, her near contemporary Tina Turner. Staton's exquisite voice is a sweeter, more vulnerable, instrument and her act is a tender, more soothing experience. It's little wonder that the dance act The Source used her comforting timbre for the 1991 chill-out tune "You Got the Love". The dance anthem provides a cosy embrace at the end of the night and evokes a euphoric response here, particularly from a gaggle of suited gentlemen of a certain age.

Tony Allen with the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble

The crowd is packed in so tight that dancing isn’t an option. Despite the disparate star guests – Natty, Damon Albarn and Baaba Maal – they are almost all here for Chicago’s obscure nine-piece jazz band the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. Eight of these slickly hip-hop-styled young men are sons of Phil Cohran, trumpeter in Sun Ra’s space-jazz Arkestra and founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

The Hypnotic Brass Band - A true band of brothers

The Hypnotic Brass Band are from Chicago – young, black and gifted players on a variety of horns who owe more to soul and jazz than the marching band tradition. They play outdoors, too, but don't mention busking, says Andy Gill

Album: Damon Albarn, Monkey: Journey to the West (XL Recordings)

A series of songs written using the Chinese pentatonic scale and sung in Mandarin might be considered a hard sell, but with Jamie Hewlett's animations of Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy now on TV rotation in trailers for the BBC's Olympics coverage, Journey to the West appears to be in the process of becoming a cultural benchmark. Rightly so: there can't be many multimedia projects that are quite as satisfying and entertaining as this phantasmagoria of myth, music and mummery.

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