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From Sophie Ellis-Bextor to Bruce Springsteen and Annie Lennox: The best virtual gigs of the week 

A gig on your laptop sounds like a contradiction in terms. It won’t be the same consuming thrill, but it can still be a treat of a different kind – cooler, calmer, more intimate. And easier to get to. There are now so many virtual shows that the Gigs And Tours website publishes a daily list. If your concentration span is fraying, don’t worry: some only last a few minutes.

Musically, the early days of lockdown belonged to John Lennon, as singers flocked to channel his existential clarity. Now the central figures are two living legends, Annie Lennox and Bruce Springsteen.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor is currently holding a Kitchen Disco every week. Shot by her husband, it’s a hot mess of cheesy tunes, chatty asides, sparkly outfits and freewheeling children

Lennox stood out at the #TogetherAtHome concert, singing There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart) with her daughter Lola, who oozed star quality herself. Often busier as a humanitarian than as a musician, Lennox seems to have found her voice again in isolation. 

Feeling irritable last Sunday, she dealt with it by sitting at the piano and sending her 289,000 Instagram followers an intense version of Cold. She was less fierce, but no less powerful, on Eurythmics’ Here Comes The Rain Again. A natural stylist (silver crop, scarlet AC/DC T-shirt), she could just do with a decent mic to calm the piano.

Bruce Springsteen turned Land Of Hope And Dreams and Jersey Girl into tender duets with his wife Patti Scialfa at the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit and has just released a live album

Bruce Springsteen turned Land Of Hope And Dreams and Jersey Girl into tender duets with his wife Patti Scialfa at the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit and has just released a live album

Springsteen, with his sympathy for the underdog, was made for this moment. In March, he put a whole Hyde Park show online for free. At the Jersey 4 Jersey benefit gig, he turned Land Of Hope And Dreams and Jersey Girl into tender duets with his wife Patti Scialfa. Now he’s supporting pandemic relief by releasing a live album, Brendan Byrne Arena 1981 (£7.95), which captures The E Street Band at their best.

Another elder, Neil Young, is posting a performance every week. The Fireside Sessions, filmed by his wife Daryl Hannah, give you half an hour with that radiant voice. Also posting home-made gigs, more improbably, is the Royal Albert Hall. Royal Albert Home presents one-hour shows ranging from KT Tunstall to Alfie Boe.

Another elder, Neil Young, is posting a performance every week. The Fireside Sessions , filmed by his wife Daryl Hannah, give you half an hour with that radiant voice

Another elder, Neil Young, is posting a performance every week. The Fireside Sessions , filmed by his wife Daryl Hannah, give you half an hour with that radiant voice

If you miss getting really lost in music, the place to go is Radiohead’s YouTube channel. Every Thursday at 10pm, they post an entire gig from their archive, so you can follow their evolution from yearning balladeers to uncompromising pioneers. The viewing figures, from 280,000 to 830,000, prove that art-rock can have mass appeal.

In need of light relief? Step forward Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who holds a Kitchen Disco at 6.30pm every Friday. Shot by her husband Richard Jones, it’s a hot mess of cheesy tunes, chatty asides, sparkly outfits and freewheeling children (they have five boys). It shouldn’t work, but it does.

 

If you miss getting really lost in music, the place to go is Radiohead’s YouTube channel. Every Thursday at 10pm, they post an entire gig from their archive, so you can follow their evolution from yearning balladeers to uncompromising pioneers. The viewing figures, from 280,000 to 830,000, prove that art-rock can have mass appeal. 

 

THIS WEEK’S CD RELEASES

By Adam Woods 

 

Wendy James                      Queen High Straight                                   Out now 

Rating:

Transvision Vamp Wendy James’s 1980s stardom has waned, but her crisp tones and attitude are intact, and this audacious 80-minute effort bursts with unexpectedly strong songs and stylish, vintage sounds, in thrall to the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and 1960s pop

Transvision Vamp Wendy James’s 1980s stardom has waned, but her crisp tones and attitude are intact, and this audacious 80-minute effort bursts with unexpectedly strong songs and stylish, vintage sounds, in thrall to the Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan and 1960s pop

 

Kenny Chesney                       Here And Now                                              Out now

Rating:

Country chap Chesney has chalked up eight No 1 albums in the US, though he’s best known elsewhere for marrying Renée Zellweger in 2005. Maybe he’s trying to correct that with this 19th album but, despite a song co-written with Ed Sheeran, it’s just a collection of earnest yet generic hymns to good times and lost loves

Country chap Chesney has chalked up eight No 1 albums in the US, though he’s best known elsewhere for marrying Renée Zellweger in 2005. Maybe he’s trying to correct that with this 19th album but, despite a song co-written with Ed Sheeran, it’s just a collection of earnest yet generic hymns to good times and lost loves

 

Mark Lanegan                 Straight Songs Of Sorrow                              Out now

Rating:

A miraculous survivor of the grunge years – he was a close friend of Kurt Cobain – Mark Lanegan sings in a seen-it-all rumble that has been his passport to a lengthy solo career. This is a companion to his new memoir and is one of his best, encompassing folk and spooky electronica

A miraculous survivor of the grunge years – he was a close friend of Kurt Cobain – Mark Lanegan sings in a seen-it-all rumble that has been his passport to a lengthy solo career. This is a companion to his new memoir and is one of his best, encompassing folk and spooky electronica

 

Drake                                  Dark Lane Demo Tapes                                      Out now

Rating:

Toronto megastar Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes isn’t billed as an album – the next proper one of those is coming in the summer – but a ‘mixtape’, rounding up recent odds and ends, including would-be dance craze Toosie Slide, and, as usual with Drake, some moody score-settling

Toronto megastar Drake’s Dark Lane Demo Tapes isn’t billed as an album – the next proper one of those is coming in the summer – but a ‘mixtape’, rounding up recent odds and ends, including would-be dance craze Toosie Slide, and, as usual with Drake, some moody score-settling



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