We should take Robbie Williams more seriously

Oh, nostalgia – so much better than it used to be! You’d never have guessed pop music was once the preserve of teenagers had you been visiting the Greenwich peninsula last week – not from the crowds, or from the artists. Here were Roxy Music, whose four core members boast a combined age of 295, playing what might be their last ever show. Here were the Tops and the Temps, bands each with just one original member left – 86-year-old Duke Fakir of the Tops, 80-year-old Otis Williams of the Temps. And here was the absolute youngster of the lot, Robbie Williams, a stripling of 48, but 32 years into

The subtleties of her songbook were lost in this enormodome: Diana Ross at the O2 reviewed

When Motown first packaged up a roster of artists and songs that could be embraced by a non-black audience, no new act – not Smokey Robinson or Marvin Gaye or Little Stevie Wonder or Martha and the Vandellas or the Temptations – crossed over into the bosom of Middle America as easefully as the Supremes. Or Diana Ross and the Supremes, as with many internal ructions they were later rebranded, Ross being the one with shimmering star quality who stood in the middle and sang the lead. They were signed to Motown 60 years ago and given songs by Holland-Dozier-Holland to sell in floor-length gowns. Those songs have seeped into

What a genuine delight to be among people: Gorillaz, at the O2, reviewed

The new music economy relies on cross-promotion and artists reaching out to different scenes. And the rise of streaming means everyone can hop between audiences with ease, hence those singles apparently by one person but with a cricket team’s worth of other names credited. As the Beach Boys once sang, ‘you need a mess of help to stand alone’. Alongside the featured artist sausage factory there are musical patrons. Take Damon Albarn, who has spent much of the past 20 years elevating the work of other artists, using the strength of his own name — made, of course, as the frontman of Blur — to promote music that might otherwise

It’s mavericks like Elon Musk who’ll get us through this crisis

This month’s most significant corporate deal attracted less attention than it might have done in normal times, crowded out by grim news elsewhere. It is the proposed £31 billion merger of O2 and Virgin Media to create a telecoms giant with 46 million customers. Following BT’s 2016 acquisition of the mobile operator EE, further ‘convergence’ in the sector had been expected, but the mid-lockdown timing was spun as a vote of confidence in the UK, described as ‘one of the most attractive markets on Earth’ by José María Alvarez–Pallete, chief executive of Telefónica of Spain, which owns O2. Investment of £10 billion in the new group’s mobile, broadband and television