Arts and Entertainment

Manchester Academy

Album: Steve Winwood, Nine Lives (Columbia)

Nine Lives continues in the vein of 2003's About Time, with Steve Winwood still mining a catalogue of bland homilies regarding such things as hope, faith and persistence for songs such as "I'm Not Drowning", "Fly" and "We're All Looking".

More happily, the album also extends his association with the jazz guitarist José Pires de Almeida Neto, whose neat, interior-sprung figures furnish the hooks to many of these songs, lending a cyclical, desert-blues feel to "I'm Not Drowning", a Pablo-style soukous tinge to "Hungry Man", and a samba-pop flavour to "Secrets" and "At Times We Do Forget". Lyrically, Winwood is more effective on the dystopian social unease in pieces such as "Hungry Man" and "Dirty City", but the album's too awash in new-age blather: the effect is to skew the arrangements too much towards dinner-party blue-eyed soul, somewhere between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins, particularly when the flimsy, fusion-lite sax appears. He can still deliver even the limpest of lines with compelling conviction, for all that.

You write the reviews: Show of Hands, Bloomsbury Theatre, London

The mighty English roots duo Show of Hands attracted a loyal audience of cutthroats, crooks and conmen to their show at London's Bloomsbury Theatre. "Is there anything left in England that's not for sale?" blasted the band's front man and singer-songwriter, Steve Knightley, flanked by the multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer and the pair's regular guest, the fiery-haired Miranda Sykes, on double bass.

Album: Daniel Lanois, Here Is What Is (Red Floor)

Here Is What Is is the soundtrack to a documentary in which the acclaimed producer of Dylan, U2 and Peter Gabriel tries to reveal “the source of the art, rather than everything that surrounds the art” – an impossible task, but one he comes close to fulfilling at various points here, most notably in enabling “Lovechild” to blossom into a complete song from the initial root of Garth Hudson’s piano improvisation.

Album: Norma Winstone, Distances (ECM)

Whether trilling wordlessly, singing her own poetic lyrics or enacting personal interpretations of jazz standards, the voice of Norma Winstone has created a uniquely sensitive sound-world for five decades.

This gadget rocks! The world's newest musical instrument

Peter Gabriel has one in his studio. Bjork takes hers on tour. But what exactly is it? Tim Walker gets to grips with the radical new instrument that's part digital sampler, part light-show – and part toy

Vampire Weekend, Astoria, London

With a name likeVampire Weekend, one would not be expecting to see a band comprising Upper West Side Ivy Leaguers, best known for their affection for deck shoes, yachting and cardigans. Something spooky is going on when a band member's father standing at the side of the stage looks sharper than his son. One of the most hotly tipped bands for 2008, whose self-titled debut album has only just come out, Vampire Weekend don't carry much of the cool of their forebears The Strokes. Not that the audience mind: the up-to-the-minute young indie fans, from punks to skinny-jeaned rockers to bearded folksters, along with some of the band's old mates from Columbia University, are already bitten.

Peter Gabriel, National Indoor Arena Birmingham

Until recently, Peter Gabriel has not been prolific. Now, he's back already, updating last year's Grown Up stage show, rechristened as Still Growing Up. It's a collaboration with the director Robert Lepage, performed in the round and making imaginative use of lighting effects to create radical changes of mood.

Guy Lux

Creator of the television game show 'Jeux Sans Frontiÿres'

Peter Gabriel, Wembley Arena, London

Gabriel's flying circus

Album: Daniel Lanois

Shine, Anti

Album: Adrian Sherwood

Never Trust A Hippy, Realworld

Rock star Gabriel tops film music poll

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