When pop's fickle finger briefly pointed towards Sunderland about five years ago, Renney's band the Golden Virgins were swiftly signed up alongside the Futureheads and Field Music.
Elvis Costello has become one of the biggest names in music to join a cultural boycott of Israel by cancelling two planned concerts there at the end of next month.
The musical arranger, conductor, composer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Kirby was best known for the delicate, understated arrangements he created for Nick Drake on Five Leaves Left, the singer-songwriter's 1969 debut, and its 1970 follow-up, Bryter Layter. These albums, together with Pink Moon – the musician's bleak third album recorded without Kirby – only sold a few thousand copies at the time of their release, and following Drake's death after an overdose of antidepressant drugs in November 1974, he was almost forgotten.
Think of a gang from LA and some pretty negative images come to mind, but the smiles on the faces of the punters throughout this gig spoke of a welcome to one particular gang of Latinos that was reciprocated in an exuberant performance that combined accomplished musicianship with undiminished enthusiasm. This quintet has been playing together for more than 30 years, and it showed in the way the original members – Louie Perez, Conrad Lozano, Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin, supplemented by the muscular and inventive drumming of Cougar Estrada – played a set that they seemed to be making up as it went along.
Elvis Costello albums seem to arrive with increasing frequency these days, their diversity appearing more like compensation for their patchiness.
Lily Allen's single, released as a CD tomorrow, takes aim at an ex-partner, mocking his love-making skills. Katy Guest reports
No one does gravitas quite like JB. She does it without self-doubt. And if that great whipping silken flag of a soprano is rather diminished now (small mercies, you might say), Joan's sense of solemnity has not diminished one whit.
Allen Toussaint talks of his sporadic, unbought solo work and the royalties from the hits he's created for others with equal affection.