O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

300 Words From London: Plague Songs

A live manifestation of an album of plagues - boils, frogs, hail and darkness to name but four. Lake was there, let him tell you about it.

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Lake, Editor, London for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2007
leading two choirs through a piano-bashing mockney knees-up
by Lake, Editor, London for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2007
leading two choirs through a piano-bashing mockney knees-up

Plague Songs, Barbican London 28/10/07

"Hello. I'm Rufus Wainwright and I hope you're all having a suitably horrible time"

This live manifestation of the Plague Songs project comes a couple years down the line from the original work: a community led art event which combined Penny Woolcock's Exodus film project, ubiquitous "body artist" Antony Gormley, an album of songs based on the biblical plagues and the good folk of Margate (a rundown seaside town with aspirations of artistic renaissance via Tracey Emin running hand in hand across the wet sand with JMW Turner).

A few of the original artists performed their songs but this was more a reimagining of the material with songs and guests emerging from a  constant musical pulse created by an eccentric house band that included Ralph Carney and Michael Blair (both having honked and clanked on some of Tom Waits' finest songs), Roger Eno and Kate St John. The music was under the direction of David Coulter who'd skippered a similarly cosmopolitan crew through the Disney night at Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown a few months ago.

So we were treated to frogs, flies, locusts and boils - the Handsome Family gave us lice via banjo and acoustic guitar. June Tabor sang a gorgeous acapella version of Laurie Anderson's Death of Livestock. Rufus Wainwright, almost incognito in jeans and a cinched black raincoat closed the first act with his Katonah. A song about the death of the firstborn, with backing from Imogen Heap. Wainwright's vocal showing the strain of his relentless touring with an aged, smoky crackle that suited the aching personal narrative.

Part two was memorable for both Patrick Wolf's extraordinary performance (fake blood, blue wig, plastic pistol and all) and Damon Albarn's surprise appearance leading two choirs through a piano-bashing mockney knees-up that was as musically  infectious as it was lyrically indecipherable. A peculiar yet entirely fitting way to end the evening.

see more stories from outsideleft's Music archive »»

Lake
Editor, London

the first journalism Lake ever had published was a history of Johnny Thunders for Record Collector magazine, since then he has written for publications including the Guardian, Dazed and Confused, the Idler and more recently, outsideleft.com as you have just seen.

OUTSIDELEFT Night Out 2
 
best LPs of 2019 Bill Callahan... best LPs of 2019
  1. Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest - Bill Callahan
  2. Return to Me - Lilac Time
  3. 2020 - Richard Dawson
  4. Chalk Hill Blue - Will Burns & Hannah Peel
  5. All Mirrors - Angel Olsen
Sno Aalegra... best LPs of 2019
  1. Shlagenheim - black midi
  2. The Imperial - The Delines
  3. Old New - Tomeka Reid Quartet
  4. Ugh, Those Feels Again - Snoh Aalegra
  5. 5 - Sault
Esther Rose... best LPs of 2019
  1. You Made it this Far - Esther Rose
  2. Hiding Places - billy woods + Kenny Segal
  3. I Found a Place - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy
  4. Thanks for the Dance - Leonard Cohen
  5. Walk Through Fire - Yola
David Benjamin Blower... best LPs of 2019
  1. We Really Did This and We Really Existed - David Benjamin Blower
  2. The Reeling - Brighde Chaimbeul
  3. Eton Alive - Sleaford Mods
  4. Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
  5. Biiri - Nihiloxica

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

Madi Army
Shane laments the loss of an intriguing website and the break up of beautiful friends
Behind the Counterculture #3 - UK TV Star Jeremy Beadle
Happy Shopper #26: Girl Talk
Mashup sensation Girl Talk tells us what he's wears when he's wearing anything
This Year's Deluxe Models: Elvis, Ronnie and Ryan
Proving that thunder only happens when it starts raining, we examine recent deluxe edition packages of Whiskeytown, Elvis Costello and Lynyrd Skynyrd
KFC: Three Shots at a Chicken
A KFC without Chicken is like a Bar without Beer
The Master Musicians of Joujouka
This music leads back through the blood and bone of millennia to the beginning of the whole rock n'roll circus
Some of our favorite things...