Last Sunday I went to see Patrick Wolf at the London Palladium in the West End. It's been a tough year for him - he's been through personal ups and downs and self-released his latest album but this show must have made it all seem worth while. It was incredible. After a slow start with some of his older, folky songs, he unleashed The Bachelor, his masterpiece, which he recorded with Atari Teenage Riot/Digital Hardcore supremo Alec Empire. Empire was on hand to help him out, as was Florence Welch, of Florence And The Machine, and the result was startling. Every band getting ready for their first gig should go and check him out - from the outfits to his impromptu dancing and glittery, rotating podium, he's one of the best performers we've got.
On Monday I interviewed Jake Shillingford, who fronted pre-britpop band My Life Story. They were one of my favourite bands at the time - they were glam, sparkly and had brilliant, sneering baroque-pop tunes to match. Since they split in 2000, he's been busy with his own electro-pop project, launched his own record label and also works as a music consultant. He seemed genuinely excited about their reunion gig on November 26, which will mark 15 years since the release of their debut album Mornington Crescent. He told me they're going to play the whole album - and some other classics - at Koko (cleverly opposite Mornington Crescent tube station!) He told me about the highlights of his time in the band, from taking Oasis on tour in '94 to joining the infamous Cynthia Plastercast hall of fame. I'm really looking forward to the show and can't wait to hear the likes of 12 Reasons Why, Sparkle and Girl A, Girl B, Boy C.
After speaking to Mr Shillingford, I hurried over to the Union Chapel to see Bombay Bicycle Club, The Maccabees and Editors at Mencap's Little Noise Sessions. Curated by Jo Wiley, it was a brilliant night. The bands all played stripped back sets, which is the great thing about the church - the bands can't play like they would usually, they have to be more restrained and every tiny fault is picked up by the near-perfect acoustics. Bombay Bicycle Club were the best I've ever seen them. Dust On The Ground and Always Like This were highlights but singer Jack Steadman's cover of Loudon Wainwright III's Motel Blues was their best song and really suited his velvety baritone. The Maccabees played a short set that included Can You Give It and Love You Better from their brilliant album Wall Of Arms, but it was Toothpaste Kisses that really stood out - beautiful. Editors were great too but singer Tom Smith seemed nervous and kept fluffing his lyrics. After being played to death on the radio, it was nice to hear their older songs given a make-under and the beautiful lighting really set the tone.
On Wednesday Blue Roses played at Bush Hall. The last time I saw her, nearly three years ago, she was plain old Laura Groves. She was bumped up the bill at the tiny Enterprise, in Chalk Farm after Adele dropped out due to illness, and if I hadn't recognised the name I wouldn't have known it was the same person. She doesn't just look different, her voice has transformed too. Like a mix of Joanna Newsome and Bon Iver - it was a lovely, dreamy set and, with the hall decked out with tables and candles, it was snug and cosy while it was chucking it down outside too!
There's plenty going on over the next week too. The London Jazz Festival continues across the capital until the end of the month. On November 21 the Jonas Brothers are at Wembley Arena and Ocean Colour Scene play at Shepherd's Bush Empire. The Little Noise Sessions continue on November 22 at the Union Chapel, with Florence and The Machine, Golden Silvers and tip for 2010 Ellie Goulding. On November 23 indie-folk darling Laura Marling will be at St Pancras Old Church and Snow Patrol will celebrate their recent greatest hits album at the Royal Albert Hall. On November 24 Informer favourite Cosmo Jarvis plays at Water Rats and on November 25 La Roux rounds off a great year with a show at Shepherd's Bush Empire.