Paul Lester

Review: Sarah Silverman

By Paul Lester, October 23, 2008

Hammersmith Apollo, London W6

When the audience, muttering resentments, spilled on to the street at around 9.15pm, barely 45 minutes after notorious American comedian Sarah Silverman came on stage, one was reminded of that old gag, recounted by Woody Allen in Annie Hall: "The food here is terrible - and such small portions."



By Paul Lester, October 19, 2008

I'm looking forward to tonight because I'm going to review Sarah Silverman in concert at the Hammersmith Apollo for the JC. This is exciting for two reasons. One, I get to see whether Silverman really is, as per her reputation, one of the funniest comedians on the planet. And two, there's a chance I might meet a woman. I mean, I'm bound to meet women - after all, they comprise half the world's population - even if it's just the briefest of exchanges with the girl in charge of the guest-list or the lady who shows you to your seat with a torch. Do they still have those?



By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

This is probably as good a time as any to reassure everybody how I feel about women. I love them. Every single one of them. My mum, my grandmothers, my sister? All great. My ex-girlfriends? Got photos of them all pasted chronologically on my wall, a veritable shrine to ladies past (although I can't help detecting a decline in the quality of pulchritude sometime around the turn of the '90s, which can possibly be put down to the loud American grunge music I was listening to back then).


Suicide: How the godfathers of punk kept the faith

By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

New Yorkers Alan Vega and Marty Rev were punks before punk was invented, known in the '70s for their violent gigs and raging synth rock. Now they're hip again, with Bono, REM and Radiohead citing them as influences.

You may not have heard of American duo Suicide, but you will have heard of the groups they influenced. Depeche Mode, New Order, Moby, Radiohead - almost every techno or industrial act, or rock band that uses synthesisers, has cited Suicide as an influence.


A love life off the rails and on the buses

By Paul Lester, October 10, 2008

Sorry to come over all Charles Dickens, but this for me is the best of times, the worst of times. No sooner have I achieved superstar status in the Jewish community following my appearance as a columnist in these pages - with, I'm presuming wildly and optimistically, hundreds of dates with hot Jewish ladies eager to cheer up this poor, miserable divorcee proceeding as a result - than I face a possible ban from driving. And so won't be able to go on any of said dates.



By Paul Lester, October 8, 2008

It finally happened. It came late last night in the form of a text and an ominous bleep on my mobile phone. My very first stark warning, as a result of my Suddenly Single JC column, from a woman with whom I had the briefest of flings over a year ago. "I'd sincerely appreciate it," read the text, with the polite but firm air of a quietly grave teacher, "if you didn't discuss me or anything that went on between us." How strange. And not a little disturbing in its stern formality.


Seeking normality: one other-planet popster

By Paul Lester, October 3, 2008

Admired by his peers, feted by his fans, all experimental dance musician Max Tundra wants now is for builders to whistle his songs.

Max Tundra is about to become a big star. Or, at least, he is in the minds of his fans, who believe his fast-cut, intricately assembled electronic pop has commercial potential.



By Paul Lester, October 2, 2008

Oh dear. Just when I thought my ex couldn't impact on my life any more, she goes and gets me banned from driving. In a way. And it's all because of my fab! new!



By Paul Lester, September 29, 2008



Interview: Idina Menzel

By Paul Lester, September 26, 2008

Acting, singing, comedy - Idina Menzel can do it all, and that includes severe self-doubt. It has a lot to do with her parents.

Idina Menzel is one of the biggest names in musical theatre, having appeared in Rent on Broadway and Wicked in the West End, as well as a film actress, starring most recently in Disney fantasy, Enchanted. She is also a recording artist, her latest, mostly self-penned album, I Stand, being produced by Glen Ballard, the man who helped Alanis Morissette sell 16 million copies of Jagged Little Pill.


My wife ran off with the builder. And you think you’re neurotic?

By Paul Lester, September 24, 2008

Not that I want you to feel sorry for me or anything, but my wife left me last year for the chap who was doing up our house. So now I’ve got three things in common with Larry David — a neurotic dislike of most social situations, not a great deal of hair, and an ex with a predilection for Men Who Can.


Debbie Wiseman: She scores emotion

By Paul Lester, September 19, 2008

We meet one of the UK's most prolific and celebrated film and TV composers


It’s the Motorhead of klezmer (with jokes)

By Paul Lester, September 12, 2008

The Jewish music scene is not known for its sense of humour. Max Pashm and his group aim to inject a little laughter when they play at Simcha on the Square



Review: Billy Joel: The Biography

By Paul Lester, August 28, 2008

Billy Joel has never been cool. A surrogate Elton John, Bruce Springsteen- lite, he lacks the cuddly flamboyance of the former, the gritty appeal of the latter and the critical respect of either - you will never see his albums, even multimillion-selling ones like 52nd Street, in those Greatest Ever lists.

Despite an attempt in the late '70s to present Joel as a sort of street-tough piano man, the quintessential pugnacious New Yorker, many still consider him to be the epitome of bland sophistry.


The James Bond hitman whose lyrics fire hearts

By Paul Lester, August 7, 2008

Don Black is responsible for several classic 007 film themes, as well as a host of hot soundtracks in his 44-year career as one of the world's finest lyricists.

Did you know that James Bond was born in Mill Hill? Well, not the secret agent, but certainly some of his most famous songs. Because Thunderball, Diamonds Are Forever and The Man With The Golden Gun were all written by Don Black, one of the most prolific and successful lyricists in the history of British popular music, when he was living in that quiet north London suburb.


Two talents to listen for

By Paul Lester, July 24, 2008

Rachael Sage and Natasha Panas are singer-songwriters ready to hit the big time. They are also proud of their very different roots.


David D’Or: Meet Israel’s classical hero

By Paul Lester, July 17, 2008

David D’Or has sung for the Pope and Bill Clinton.

David D’Or is Israel’s Charlotte Church — only, obviously, he is male, and not married to a rugby player. But he is his nation’s best-known classical singer and has, over the years, performed for everyone from the Pope and the King of Thailand to Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. Not surprisingly, he believes his music can make a difference.


Miri Ben-Ari: The hip hop violinist set to salute Israel

By Paul Lester, June 27, 2008

Miri Ben-Ari plays classical and contemporary, parties with Kanye West and supports Holocaust education. We talk to her ahead of her London gig


Julian Velard: Sad, lonely… and loved by housewives

By Paul Lester, June 20, 2008

Julian Velard is the biggest news in music since Duffy. He is courted by top record labels and daytime TV hosts. So why does he look so miserable?

If you were impressed by the vocal gymnastics of Jamie Cullum and Michael Buble, but would rather they sang their own songs; if you enjoy Amy Winehouse’s music but are disturbed by how, well, disturbed she is; if you like Billy Joel or Elton John but wish they were not so uncool... try Julian Velard.


Erik Satie: Gonzales, the classical rap comic

By Paul Lester, June 12, 2008

He plays Erik Satie, hip-hop and does satire on stage between songs. No wonder he has identity issues