Arts and Entertainment

Josie Long is an award-winning comedian and writer. She will perform with Robin Ince in Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People at London’s Bloomsbury Theatre (10-22 Dec) and also on tour in Robin and Josie’s Shambles.

Bernstein Mass, Royal Festival Hall, London

Mass is Leonard Bernstein’s most personal, most provocative piece. His daughter Jamie has described it as his “most Lennyish” piece – meaning that it knows no inhibition, that it is everything he was. There are no fudges, no in-betweens, no half-measures.

Broken Bells, Royal Festival Hall, London

Greeted with an awed silence from the packed Royal Festival Hall, James Mercer (singer-songwriter and brains behind jingle-jangle indie outfit The Shins) asks an impromptu question that catches his enraptured audience off-guard. "Anybody here skateboard?" he enquires optimistically. "I used to skate at Southbank before it was a skate park. This is my homecoming," he explains, with that tone of wistful poignancy that characterises his work to date and manifests itself in the lovelorn lyrics of the track that follows, "Trap Doors".

Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson, Royal Festival Hall, London

The programme for Richard Thompson's Meltdown festival carries a photograph of Thompson in his salad days – taken, probably, in the late Sixties or early Seventies, some time around his founding of Fairport Convention and his marital and musical union with Linda Thompson. A little Nick Drake-like, he gazes wistfully off-shot. It feels iconic. But while for a lot of people Thompson's name might ring a bell, ask them to hum one of his tunes and you'll probably draw a blank.

Elvis Costello, Royal Festival Hall, London

"I've been wading through all this unbelievable junk/ And wondering if I should have given the world to the monkeys," he spits out with relish on "God's Comic" in this blistering solo set. It's about time we reclaimed our very own Elvis, and thanks to Richard Thompson's Meltdown we get a rare sighting (he now lives in New York with his wife, Diana Krall) of this British new-wave whiz.

Paolo Nutini, Royal Festival Hall, London

By the time Paolo Nutini swoops into "High Hopes", the third song of a rousing and beautifully chaotic evening, it's clear that any sense of decorum that the Royal Festival Hall exerts is hanging by a thread: nervous stewards (and bizarrely, or not, depending on how hard you care to think about it, ushers with mops), shepherd grinning, swooning dancers back to their seats.

A Celebration of Kate McGarrigle, Royal Festival Hall

Memories of a mother loved and lost

Paul Lewis, Royal Festival Hall, London

Ever since Alfred Brendel took Paul Lewis under his wing, this 38-year-old British pianist has been in the fast lane, but his beginnings were not privileged.

Nigel Kennedy / Orchestra of Life, Royal Festival Hall, London

We’d had the first two movements of Bach’s Violin Concerto in E, Nigel Kennedy and his newly formed Orchestra of Life bathed in a haze of blue light and discreetly amplified as befits a gig not a concert. “What’s next?” says Kennedy, glancing at his play list nestling between the foldback speakers where adoring fans had also left an assortment of messages and CDs for signature. “What about the third movement?” shouted a man in the front stalls. “Don’t like it”, retorted Kennedy. And there was no answer to that.

Observations: A bit of a glissando

It seems the harp is having a moment. After Florence Welch brought 12 harpists to The Brits, American harp-playing folkie Joanna Newsom sold out the Royal Festival Hall for two nights and has received rave reviews for her enchanting album Have One on Me. It has taken a while for a British exponent to give the instrument a similar profile. Lancastrian solo artist Nancy Elizabeth uses the instrument in her beguiling work, but only the smaller Celtic version.

Randy Newman, Royal Festival Hall, London

"No one is retiring from the rock'n'roll business anymore," quips Randy Newman. "Rock'n'roll is like chess but stupider. You've done all your best work at 14," he adds before launching into his typically arch "I'm Dead (But I Don't Know It)" where he encourages us to call out "he's dead, he's dead". We gamely do. The US satirist has never fitted the rock-god bill, he's always been a tad too portly around the gills – resembling an avuncular turtle with a sly, wry smile – but he's always attracted a loyal, similarly shaped, following. And as a lyricist he's right up there with Cohen, Lennon and Dylan.

Joanna Newsom, Royal Festival Hall, London

A girl, a 'persnickety' harp and a God-given gift to challenge Gaga

Rolando Villazon/ Gabrieli Players, Royal Festival Hall, London

He’s come through throat surgery and survived From Pop Star to Opera Star (though the jury is still out as to which posed the greater threat) – so on the surface of it an all-Handel programme (strategically tied to his most recent album, of course) might have seemed like a sensible way of nursing Rolando Villazon back to full vocal health: plenty of fast moving coloratura to keep the healing chords supple, lightly inflected legatos, and only the soft-grained period instruments of the splendid Gabrieli Players under Paul McCreesh to surf.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Jurowski, Royal Festival Hall, London

Prokofiev and Myaskovsky – firm friends, musical polar opposites. Once again Vladimir Jurowski demonstrates the essence of creative programming bringing us two highly contrasted but musically well-complemented pieces and one genuine rarity – Myaskovsky’s 6th Symphony.

London Philharmonic Orchestra/ Alsop, Royal Festival Hall, London

The platform is empty as the conductor, Marin Alsop, enters with four flutes who then proceed to sit in silence as the first downbeat of the evening produces barely audible but blissfully consonant string chords from celestially far off.

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Vietnam & Cambodia
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Bruges
India & Nepal
Japan
Berlin, Dresden, Meissen & Colditz
Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album