Arts and Entertainment

A sideways look at the world of music

My Fantasy Band: Foe

Guitar - Stef Ketteringham
On guitar I've got a guy named Stef Ketteringham, from a band called Shield Your Eyes.

Pulp, Brixton Academy, London

"Do you remember the first time?" Jarvis Cocker pleads on Pulp's opening number? I do. As a gob-smacked audience member witness-ing a libidinous Cocker perform "Underwear" – one of Pulp's best live numbers and sensational tonight – on TV's The White Room in 1995, on a bill shared with Portishead. Forget the dismal Blur vs Oasis debate, the two P-bands were the most spine-tingling acts to emerge from these shores since The Smiths. If Portishead evoked J D Ballard's dystopian science-fiction, then Pulp were more reminiscent of Alan Sillitoe's kitchen-sink dramas, particularly Tom Courtenay's lanky rebellious teen in The Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner. Only with added smut, oodles of added smut.

I'll Be Your Mirror: Portishead, Alexandra Palace, London

Portishead's 1994 debut, Dummy, was so perfect it almost instantly became a cliché, a cul de sac they only escaped with 2008's aptly titled Third. But on the first night of a festival the Bristol band curated and headline, they dig deeper into songs it had seemed would bury them, expanding their sonic terrain of scratched hip-hop, vintage vinyl spookiness and Cold War spy movie cool, Billie Holiday and John le Carré.

Album: Lamb, 5 (Strata)

Lamb used to feel like the most infuriatingly middle-class band in existence: a Portishead for people who were scared of the dark, a proto-Dido to provide ambience at dinner parties.

The award that isn't always a sales success

You don't have to be a Mercury prize winner to drift into obscurity – but it helps. The 2009 winner, the rapper Speech Debelle, and Ms Dynamite (2002) are examples of winners whose commercial prospects dived after their moment of triumph.

Portishead struggle with new songs

Portishead find it "hell" making music.

Music & Me: When Saints Go Machine

When Saints Go Machine produce ice-cool shimmering pop that belies their tongue- in-cheek moniker. Signed to hip dance label !K7 records, expect to hear a lot more of the Danish foursome’s stunning songs this summer. Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild took time out to answer our questions.

Caught in the Net: Everything in immoderation

It's five years since Sufjan Stevens released his epic masterwork Illinois.

Caught in the net: Portishead chase forth

Given the three-year gap between Portishead's first record and their second, and the 11 years between album two and their third LP of new material, the emergence of new music a little over a year after 'Third' was released, displays admirable productivity for the band. OK, it's only a single song, not a full album, but still.

Portishead's release new single in aid of Amnesty International UK

Given that there was a three year gap between Portishead's first record and their second, and a whopping eleven years between album two and their third LP of new material, the emergence of new music just a little over a year after Third was released, is admirable productivity for the band.

Police shut 25-mile stretch of motorway

Police have closed 25 miles of the M5 in Somerset after a car hit an electricity pole.

Postal strikes hit 44 depots

Postal strikes will hit large areas of London and southern England this week. Postal workers will stage one-day strikes at 44 depots across south-west London, Essex and Bristol today, with further strikes expected later.

Album: The Horrors, Primary Colours (XL)

When The Horrors' debut Strange House was released in 2007, I described it as sounding like something you might end up with if you were to hold a Goth Idol talent contest.

Letters: Brave women of WW2

'Auntie Mary', and Bulldog Drummond, to the rescue
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