NME grooves to an office gig by the Hold Steady, a festival slot for the Good, the Bad, & the Queen, and an orchestra seat for Bright Eyes

By Pat Long
Updated July 11, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Floods and bombs: London’s a dangerous town for the dedicated night crawler. If you’re not blown to smithereens for dancing saucily to Rihanna, you have to snorkel home.

And if you survive the freakishly cataclysmic weather, terrorist car bombs, and trembling, frenzied smokers (the smoking ban came into effect this week), you’re still in mortal danger of being rocked without warning within an inch of your life at any minute of the day or night.

Even at work you’re not safe these days. Just two days ago, in fact, the NME staff were hard at work ”researching” girls on Facebook when the Hold Steady turned up and played a gig in our cafeteria. All good fun, although singer Craig Finn’s rotund figure caused a rush on the salad bar, but where will this work-based gig madness end? New Young Pony Club bashing out the hits in a corner of the National Science Museum? The Thrills playing in reference libraries? The White Stripes playing shows on public buses? All in the past few months, actually.

And this week, having finally picked the last bits of Glastonbury sludge from its pants, London is preparing to go rather more upmarket as the Tower Of London festival breaks from its succession of dreary MOR dross (James Morrison…Seal…Bryan Ferry…Katherine Jenkins…zzzzz — honestly, word is the ravens have seriously considered moving out) for one night only with a show by Daman Albarn’s London-obsessed project, The Good, The Bad & The Queen. Last time they played London, bassist Paul Simonon (ex-Clash) hacked off a piece of the stage with a hatchet as a memento. This time, we strongly advise Tower security to frisk him for Crown Jewels as he leaves the building.

It’s been a smart old week: last night Bright Eyes hit town with his Cassadaga-heavy show, taking the stage with a full string orchestra in pristine white suits like the coolest evangelical preaching troupe on earth. Suitably, this writer necked so much Jesus juice that his review notes are utterly illegible and he has no recollection of what was no doubt a rather slurred and shambolic post-show interview with Conor Oberst. Sorry Conor.

Buzz band of the moment? Have we mentioned Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, whose arch louche-pop stylings are currently going off in the A&R community like a smoking Volvo? They are, as I believe you Americans are fond of saying, ”da bomb.”