Sunday, 31 May 2009
First, it was the turn of Ladyhawke, someone I'd vaguely heard of but never heard. Supported by an 11-piece band (including a string section) on she came in a large sleeveless denim jacket and blond hair almost covering her face, performing song after song with no chat or engagement with the audience. I quite liked what I heard, lots of synths and power-chords but the drums should've been turned down and the vocals turned up - I couldn't hear what she was singing about. She seemed genuinely pleased by the applause which is always going to be a bit muted on multi-act bills with people attending to see different bands. Then the lights came up and time to change the stage set for the Tom Tom Club.
On came the TTC lads (minus Mystic Bowie but with Kid Ginseng) with Chris tripping as he jumped onto the riser with his drum kit (ouch) and then appeared two visions of loveliness in short cocktail frocks, Tina with her hair in pigtails and wearing the sparkliest black frock while Victoria was all blond in an ivory minifrock. As soon as Tina had slung her bass they were off and bouncing with 'Suboceana' and a "boom boom chi boom boom" to you too!
Lots of guitar and percussion and Tina's bouncing bass, the sound mix was much better with Tina and Victoria's voices easily floating at the top of the music. The lasses didn't stop moving, filling the space at the front of the stage, bouncing and pogoing, and Victoria couldn't stop smiling the whole time, they seemed to be so pleased to be there and part of the Island celebration. Their music is happy and infectious and the people around us that were clearly there to see another band started clapping more lustily after the first couple of songs had got them in the mood. Chris and Tina have been around long enough (Talking Heads anyone?) to know how to put on a good performance and they certainly gave their all last night and earned the sustained applause at the end, much more than a polite clapping, it was the sound of a crowd who'd enjoyed themselves.
Songs included 'L'Elephant', 'Who Feelin' It', 'Punk Lolita', 'Genius Of Love', 'Man With The Four-Way Hips' and 'Happiness Can't Buy Money' (which I was humming to myself while walking round Shepherds Bush Green on the way to the venue). Tina very kindly dedicated 'You Sexy Thing' to Ladyhawke who was sitting not far from us in the balcony. They closed with a fierce and energetic version of 'Wordy Rappinghood', played fast and hard and a stunning climax to their set.
I was smiling and singing along throughout the set, bouncing in my seat just as Tina and Victoria bounced around the stage looking lithe and hot (them not me). They create such a happy sound and are a great live band. The only disappointment (other than the set not being longer) is that Tina didn't throw her knickers at me like she did when I saw them at a CBGB night a few years ago (but that's another story). O well. Sorry, no time for nostalgia, I'm off to bounce some more ... Ok bye!
Friday, 29 May 2009
I haven't watched any of 'Britain's Got Talent', either this series or previous ones, but I've watched the semis this week and I'm astonished. This is talent? I didn't see any of the previous shows or performances, but I'd heard the hyperbole. Singers assisted by backing vocals to cover up karaoke voices. A guitarist that just copies a Robert Palmer video. A grandfather and grand-daughter double act that can't sing. Eh? What am I missing?
I'm bored by the show now. Click on over to watch the Bears have fun with 'It's Raining Men' and ignore the rest of the shows.
Hot off the press: Maximo Park's second single from the new album will be 'Questing, Not Coasting' and it's due out on 13 July. 'That Beating Heart' (the song played at the start of the Maximos encore when I saw them at Brixton) will be one of the 'B' sides.'
You can pre-order the single bundle here.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
The Maximos set out to confuse by changing their normal places on the stage, with Duncan on the right (looking at the stage) and Archis and Lukas on the left. Then the lights dimmed and there they were, music pumping and lights going wild, as one great song followed another, with Paul running and jumping all over the stage.
The lads were promoting the new album so we were treated to a selection of new classics as well as earlier classics from the first two albums. The new songs work well live and stand up with the rest of the set, providing a change of mood and pace, more keyboards and more jumping round. Paul's voice is getting more expressive as he plays with words and goes for strange rhymes to twist his tongue around.
Favourite songs from 'Quicken The Heart' were 'In Another World (You'd Have Found Yourself By Now)', 'Roller Disco Dreams' (with it's line about watching fireworks over Brixton was mandatory for this gig), 'Overland, West Of Suez', 'Questing, Not Coasting', 'Wraithlike' and, of course, the first single, 'The Kids Are Sick Again'. Old favourites included, 'Going Missing', 'Our Velocity', 'Girls Who Play Guitars', 'Your Urge' and 'Limassol'. I was delighted to hear the crowd lustily singing along to 'Books From Boxes'. The encore started with a new song, 'That Beating Heart,' that I haven't heard before and assume will feature as a 'B' side - or maybe even a non-album single? - at some point. I liked it.
There were two downsides to the gig - no badges at the merch stand (so I bought a key ring) and having to squirm around in my seat to stand a chance of seeing Paul who spent most of his time down the front of the stage although I did see one scissor-kick - obscuring heads in front of me and the bar at the front of the balcony makes it difficult to see anything at the front of the stage. There was also a bit of overuse of the strobe-light-into-the-crowd thing, but other than that the lights were excellent. The lads were on top form, tight and loud and seemed to be having fun. Good on ya, lads!
And thanks to David Thousand Words for his pics that I nicked off Flickr - go and take a look!
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Monday, 25 May 2009
Believe it or not but I do have a relationship with the club. I saw one (or maybe two) matches there around 1970 when Bobby Moncur was captain and Frank (a defender, I think) Thingummy's grandma lived round the corner from mine. Moving rapidly into the new millennium and I've been into the new stadium for my little brother's wedding a few years ago when we had a guided tour round the dressing rooms and onto the pitch.
I feel sorry for Alan Shearer, brought in to try to save the club but he can only work with the tools he's given and yesterday's sad performance showed quite plainly that the tools aren't good enough for the job. I hope he stays on to try to turn the club round next season.
Now, I still don't care much for football but I want the Toon back in the Premiership. I won't start following their progress or anything but I like being able to say, in an off-hand way, that my 'home' club is better than yours and I can't say that if they're not.
Saturday, 23 May 2009
The album isn't listed on the Cooking Vinyl site yet but there's a press pack on there. So, naturally, I've signed up for their newsletter so I get all the news. And, if you look on iTunes, you'll see that most of Buffy's albums are available for download - for ages, only 'Coincidence' and 'Up Where We Belong' were available. Looks like it's a Buffy summer, what with the gigs at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London and the Cambridge Folk Festival a few days later.
I love this song, it's a a perfect description of a teenage crush and the first stirrings of love, the simple joy of seeing your loved one again. We all have an Indian Cowboy somewhere in our lives.
This is from Buffy's 'Up Where We Belong' DVD and the song ends with some powwow singing.
I *want*. I *need*.
Men's clothes are so un-colourful these days - well, they always have been I suppose unless you go back to Cavalier times (sorry, the so-called new romantics were a mistake but I did like my purple Robin Hood boots back in the day). I do, of course, own the Most Beautiful Shirt In The World but I need trousers to match. Loudmouth, here I come...
The question is: do I go for Shagadelic or Disco Balls?
First job is to lose a few inches around the waist and then invest in a more colourful world. London beware!
Thursday, 21 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
As with the previous two albums, the title is lifted from the lyrics of one of the songs and, in this case, it comes from the first verse of the first song on the record, 'Wraithlike'. 'Wraithlike' also lays down the challenge of the new album with it's manic beat and lyrics suddenly over-ridden by a siren, lending it a sense of urgency and increased pace, an excellent start to the record. It also signals a greater use of synth and sounds on these songs than on previous albums, a smoother production and overall sound.
I think that's the underlying message of the album - it's still the Maximos, still manic punky-pop for jumping round the room to, but more controlled, more thought through and thoughtful, a bit more grown up as their fanbase grows and develops. The songs and production are more mature and more confident, not afraid to experiment and take a few risks while being sure of their groundwork. All in all, this growth is quite impressive, taking the band forward while retaining the core of what makes them a great band.
I got the special edition of the new record, a boxed set of the album and a DVD of the Newcastle gig before Christmas (both in gatefold sleeves) plus a small booklet of photos the band took in Los Angeles where they recorded the album. Mine was signed in gold ink by Lukas. It's a nice edition of the album and very reasonably priced compared to special editions from other bands.
Go on, give it a listen and quicken your heart. There's joy and ecstasy to be had, glory and no little jumping round the room with a silly grin on your face... give it a go and then buy a ticket to your nearest Maximo gig (if any tickets are available).
Monday, 18 May 2009
Naturally, when I need to get somewhere in a hurry, London turns against me. This time it was Parliament Square and Whitehall shut to traffic, and full of police and protesters - I didn't see what the protest was about but assume it was the pro-Tamil protesters that have been there on and off for the last few weeks. I can't blame them for being there, given what's happening, and more power to the protester these days, but it doesn't half affect a fanboy on a mission.
Anyway, I made it to HMV just in time to grab the almost-last place in the queue before the security bods in black started directing people into a second queue (and consequently, a longer wait). Nattering aimlessly with Chris while we waited and then suddenly, she was there, a vision of red lipstick and black hair quite a way away on the stage at the back of the shop, but that was definitely Siouxsie. It took a while for the queue to start moving, but once it started we moved closer quite quickly and then were standing on the stage with DVD and free small poster ready to be signed, a smile flashed and a thank you and off...
While waiting we'd discussed what we'd say to Siouxsie - after all, how many times do you have a few seconds to speak to a great hero and legend? I decided I'd ask whether The Creatures back catalogue was going to be remastered and re-issued - after all, The Banshees albums are gradually being re-issued. Of course, when confronted by Herself, all smiles and gracious thank you's for me saying I really enjoyed her shows last year, I totally forgot to ask my question. Drat.
The DVD is of her last show at Koko last September, the gig I didn't see since I'd only just come out of hospital and there was no way I was going to risk my back at Koko. I haven't watched it yet but there are costume changes and more Banshees songs than at the other gigs, so I expect it to be fab. I saw Siouxsie at the Astoria 2 gig, at The Roundhouse and at Shepherd's Bush. Now I've got the DVD to enjoy during the likely long wait for the next album and shows. Siouxsie is worth waiting for.
Sunday, 17 May 2009
His band was led by Our Lady J on piano and conducting duties (resplendent in red with sparkly gloves) along with cello, flute and drums. I've seen Justin a few times over the years and this was the most 'formal' venue yet, a 'proper' concert venue. He was dressed appropriately for the occasion in a frock made of "laminated tranny-porn" in the first half and a black sparkly, fringed cocktail number for the second half, the halves nicely split by Our Lady J singing 'Pink Prada Purse'.
Justin opened with 'The New Depression' (from his 'Pink Slip' EP) and regaled us with tales of his trip to the 'fairy sanctuary' in the Appalachian Mountains to perform the pagan rites of spring last May, writing the chants and spells that led to the current recession and the erection of a new maypole. As witches, both Justin and Our Lady have a lot to answer for.
The show was off and running, with songs and chat, the most unlikely stories about the people he knows and the situations he finds himself in. I've no idea how much is true and how much is exaggerated, but it certainly adds up to an interesting life. He sang all the songs from 'Pink Slip' and host of others plus a great song he introduced as being from the American songbook, 'Viking Dan' by Bambi Lake (he's done it before but I'm always happy to hear him sing a Bambi song). He also sang a Christmas song protesting against proposition 8 he wrote and performed at a benefit show organised by Rufus Wainwright last year at Carnegie Hall. His three song encore finished with 'The End', his song at the end of 'Shortbus' in the scene with him singing through a megaphone with a brass band.
A mix of song and laughter, madly meandering surreal chatter, politics and social commentary (blink and he's moved on), odd frocks and sparkling wit, it's all there in Justin's shows. We hung around afterwards to get a signed copy of the EP and to say a few words and I was pleased to hear that he might write and record a full length album over the summer. I hope he does but who knows? Go and see a Justin show if you get the chance, you'll leave with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.
Saturday, 16 May 2009
It's different to her last, gospel-inspired, album and opens with the guitar and drums mid-tempo rocky, 'Love's Song' before moving on to the ballad, 'Other People' which treats her political disenchantment with Bush's administration as the break up of a love affair with America ('we should see other people'). She then heads into the soulful, 'Liquid Prayer' which wouldn't be out of place on a Beverley Knight album before heading back into protest-land with 'Ballad Of The Battle Of The Ballot And The Bullet', using her words as weapons. She also heads into heavy metal for 'Giantkiller'. Ms Shocked is nothing if not versatile.
This is the 'Chelle Shocked I remember from 1988 and 'Short Sharp Shocked' and is her most accessible album for some time. I hope it does well for her - I'm enjoying it!
Friday, 15 May 2009
The band’s sold out UK tour which started last night with back-to-back shows at Newcastle academy was marred by guitarist Duncan Lloyd having one of his favourite guitars stolen prior to the show.
The guitar is a 1979 brown and gold Gretsch country gent, the guitar was purchased from Stella Barker from the 80’s pop band The Belle Stars and prior to this was played by Joe Strummer from The Clash.
We are offering a significant reward for the return of the guitar. All information will be kept strictly confidential.Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Monday, 11 May 2009
Welcome back George.
Sunday, 10 May 2009
The film opens with Wolverine and his half-brother running their way through war after war from the 1850s to Vietnam, not ageing and shrugging off injuries and, at one point, a firing squad. Then joining a government-funded super-group of mercenaries at which point Wolvie and his brother go their separate ways... and five years later meet up again to fight to the death while saving hoards of mutant kids from being lab-rats. Our hero saves the day, of course.
The film introduces us to more super-powered mutants in under two hours than you could dream of. I'm not quite sure why it needed so many mutants in it but it pleased the fanboy in me as much as it irritated. The plot was a bit thin but who cares when it's non-stop action all the way? The trick is not to think about it too much and just let it wash over you.
Friday, 8 May 2009
It was good to hear this evening that Linda has a new album in the pipeline and a new project - she needs to raise $50,000 to record and release the record. And that's where the Hector Fund comes into play. Linda posted a personal message:
My name is Linda Thompson. When I was twelve years old, a career counselor visited my class in Scotland and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I told her I wanted to be a folk singer, she told me not to be stupid!
It’s many years later. I still want to sing songs and it’s even harder to make a living as a folk singer! Since I returned to making music, the business has gone through a lot of changes. I’d like to make another record, and I think I can make a really good one (famous last words!).
I’d like your help. I’m trying to raise money so I can record the music, and be able to pay the excellent musicians, engineers and studios a fair wage and release the album to the public. So I am asking for financing -not charity (please save that for a more worthy cause) - but a business transaction. You, the audience, put up some money and I return the favor by sending you the music and much, much more!
I’m trying to raise $50,000 to cover ALL of the costs associated with independently producing, manufacturing and marketing an album in today’s marketplace.
When I started playing music in the sixties and seventies, we shared everything– perhaps some things we shouldn’t have. I’d like to return to a little bit of that spirit now. You the audience can share in the experience of making my record with me and be the first to hear it when its done - and I get to stick it to “the man” (whoever passes for the ‘man’ these days) by working outside of the system.
Download A Very New And Very Unreleased Song Right Now For Free
As a special offering to all of her fans - and hopefully potential donors to her Artistfunding Campaign - Linda is giving away the recently recorded track, “Never The Bride” and releasing it here at The Hector Fund exclusively as a first taste of what her forthcoming album will sound like. The song features a stellar cast of musicians (click here for full credits) and was co-written with her very talented and very handsome son, Teddy Thompson. Click below to get hooked up and read on to find out how you can help Linda finance her new studio album and get hooked up with cool stuff direct from Linda herself.
Click on the link and take a look at what it's all about. If you donate you can choose the level of support and get name-checked in the album artwork, be named as an executive producer or even have your very own Christmas song by the Thompson Family.
So go on, take a look at the site, buy a part of the record by making an investment, support independent music and have some fun.
Thursday, 7 May 2009
The logistics for the event were less impressive than Bev, with lots of security men in suits moving people on to keep the aisles of the shop clear but not saying where we could actually stand to watch the star of the show. But I won't whinge.
I've ordered the special edition with a DVD (called 'Monument') of their live show before Christmas up in Newcastle. There are some clips from the DVD on their site and it looks truly fab - I've just enjoyed a great version of 'Going Missing' that ended with tons of sparkly stuff being showered on the audience - if only I'd been there...
Anyway, there's still time to order your own copy (details here). This is what I'm hoping to receive in the next day or so:
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Clearly I'm too late to enter (and grow something worthy) for this year, but should I aim my sights at next years championship?
It's always good to have something to aim for.
Monday, 4 May 2009
The album is produced by Todd Rundgren, who produced the Dolls' first album, and it has that same kind of almost-live vibe going on. This album seems, on a first listen, to be a bit more immediate than the last album, 'One Day...' (yes, it's *that* good), and that was a great record and a grower. I think this one will be a grower as well so I'll play it a few more times before I decide on favourite songs.
One of the things I love about the Dolls is David's voice - he's got a great rock/blues voice, full of expression. The guitars all seem individualised, a bit like a good curry when you can taste each individual ingredient and spice as well as enjoy the overall curry flavour. A lovely feast topped off with David's very original lyrics.
Go out and buy it (or download it) and enjoy!
Sunday, 3 May 2009
After visiting the overflowing merch stands and a feast of beer and chips, we took our seats in the arena to find we were almost as far away from the stage as it's possible to be and still be in the lower tiers. At least there was a clear view of the stage above the heads of people standing on the floor of the arena. The lights dimmed, and a video started rolling to a soundtrack of 'Highway To Hell' (eh??) and then a dancer emerged at the end of the runway and Pink exploded out of the runway and was pulled into the air on a rope, sporting a long fluffy pink tail as she drifted into the heavens above the crowd. She slowly moved towards the stage as the curtains fell to reveal a carnival themed set most appropriate for the Funhouse Tour - gaudy lights, hall of mirrors, two playground slides and even a waltzer. Tick for spectacle!
The show opened with 'Bad Influence' from 'Funhouse' and, as you'd expect, the latest album was heavily featured> The place erupted half-way through the show when she sang 'So What'. The song 'Funhouse' saw two giant, malevolent inflatable clowns suddenly appear behind the band, leering out at the audience - they deflated just as quickly. A high octane version of 'Ave Mary A' saw her prowling the stage and spitting out the lyrics with powerful backing. A high point was 'Sober' with Pink 30 feet above the stage being flung about by an acrobat and showing us her aerial moves while singing upside down and flying through the air on her trapeze - she was, obviously, attached to a safety wire but that was pretty impressive stuff. She did more aerial work later in the show attached to a bungee rope and bounced and spun above the heads of the crowd at the end of the runway and in the encore to 'Glitter In The Air' when she floated up, up and away wrapped in a billowing cradle with four dancers doing their stuff in mid air. When your pop star turns into a circus performer for real - rather than for a one-off trick - then you've got to love 'em!
The sound was great, the lights were spectacular, Pink's trapeze adventures were stunning and she was on top form, dancing around the stage and runway, teasing, taunting and flaunting, looking well fit and with a grin plastered on her face. She played old favourites interspersed between the new songs from 'Funhouse' and the only low point for me was the accoustic set half way through the show that not only slowed the pace down so the show could build again, but it seemed to lose it's way a bit - too many slow, accoustic songs and disappointing (to me at least) to have an accoustic version of 'Trouble' - I wanted to see her prowling the stage with electric howls for that song. The accoustic set finished with a Led Zeppelin song I didn't recognise with a long guitar solo at the end, obviously designed to allow Pink time to get off the stage into a new costume.
Pink does Led Zep? O yes. She also did 'Bohemian Rhapsody' in captain's hat and bright yellow ringmaster's jacket a la Freddie - I thought the opening bars were just the prelude to a segue into one of her songs but she did the whole song, and pretty damn fab it was too. Surprisingly! A final cover was Gnarls' 'Crazy' which she used to close the main show. I found that strange, to close the show with a cover of a song when she has five albums worth of her own songs. At least the encore included a stonking version of 'Get The Party Started'. It was followed by a tender 'Glitter In The Air' with Pink floating away wrapped in a golden cradle...
I thoroughly enjoyed the pink-lass. Slinking around in sexy outfits, singing her heart out on the stage and in the air, great songs, acrobatics, giant clowns, bungee bouncing, a fun stage set and lights... what else could you possibly want? Good on ya, Pink!
Oh, and we got a taxi home ...
Saturday, 2 May 2009
What a nice, sunny Saturday morning this is.