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Caesar Sex Change, Buy Hockney, Alt-J: London Weekend

Alt-J, a Leeds, England quartet touring Europe, Australia and then the U.S. in support of its debut album
Alt-J, a Leeds, England quartet touring Europe, Australia and then the U.S. in support of its debut album "An Awesome Wave." The CD won the U.K.'s Mercury Prize in 2012. Photographer: Jory Cordy/Big Hassle PR via Bloomberg

Jan. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Alt-J is a box-office hit on the follow-up tour to its debut CD, “An Awesome Wave,” which won the Mercury Prize.

The quartet from Leeds performs songs such as “Tessellate” and “Breezeblocks.” The quirky titles have drawn comparisons with New York’s Vampire Weekend. There are dashes of Jeff Buckley and psychedelic pop in there, too.

Alt-J plays tonight and tomorrow at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Shepherd’s Bush Green, W12 8TT.

Information: +44-844-477-2000, http://www.altjband.com and http://www.o2shepherdsbushempire.co.uk

Saturday

“Inept spoiled rich boy.” “Jumped-up PR.”

Those irreverent words crop up in a portrait of U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, currently on display at the London Art Fair. Artist Annemarie Wright polled people online about the politician, and drew a life-sized portrait where the lines are actually handwritten opinions. Price: 6,500 pounds ($10,400).

Also at the Woolff gallery is a large, shadowy close-up of a man’s face. “Steve” (2012), by Texas-born Zac Freeman, is composed of discarded remote-control parts, mobile phones, computer keys and buttons. And it’ll set you back 16,000 pounds.

Happy to spend more? There’s a 28,000 pound crayon sketch by David Hockney, dated 1962, at the Fine Art Society. A fat, cigar-smoking Italian is draped in a sports towel bearing the number ``8.'' Hockney’s improbable title: “Italian Athlete.”

There are plenty more gems at the London Art Fair, which ends Jan. 20 at the Business Design Centre on Upper Street in Islington, N1: http://www.londonartfair.co.uk or call +44-844-8480-136.

Dining in the Upper Street area just got better with the opening of the Bangkok-style Naamyaa Cafe at Angel. This is the new casual Asian restaurant of Alan Yau, the man who created Hakkasan, Wagamama and Busaba Eathai. The Hong Kong restaurateur is known for his high standards and (post-Hakkasan) low prices. Information: http://www.naamyaa.com/ or +44-20-7291-1128.

Saturday Night

London has hosted all-male and all-black productions of Shakespeare in the last year. Now comes an all-female “Julius Caesar.”

Director Phyllida Lloyd has transposed this most imperial of tragedies to a women’s prison. Togas are out, sweatpants are in. Caesar (Frances Barber) is the boorish prison boss, and Brutus (Harriet Walter), the treacherous friend who kills her off with a drink of bleach.

At times the connection between a single-sex jailhouse and ancient Rome seems forced. Yet when the seasoned actors deliver their powerful lines, it all seems worth it.

“Julius Caesar” ends Feb. 9 at the Donmar Warehouse. Information: http://www.donmarwarehouse.com or +44-844-871-7624.

The streets around the Donmar are home to many restaurants. It’s worth the five-minute walk to 10 Greek Street. This is a casual venue in Soho with unfussy food that is prepared with care. It’s inexpensive and unpretentious and it can get very busy. Information: http://www.10greekstreet.com/ or +44-20-7734-4677.

Sunday

Jordanian-born pianist Karim Said, 24, is a protege of conductor Daniel Barenboim.

He gave his first solo recital at age 8, and is now a member of Barenboim’s bridge-building West Eastern Divan Orchestra. In the first of three 2013 recitals, he plays Debussy, Janacek and Schoenberg.

At the Purcell Room at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Information: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk or +44-20-7960-4200.

(Farah Nayeri writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jason Harper on cars, Rich Jaroslovsky on tech, Scott Reyburn on the art market and Lance Esplund on art.

To contact the writer on this story: Farah Nayeri in London at farahn@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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