I bet that somewhere on the internet there’s another photo of this man in this street. A prize* to the first person to post one
*Not actually a prize
Apollo Theatre, London
One doesn’t frequent the theatre as much as one ought, nor will one in future if the theatre continues to stiff one for eighty-three notes plus a £1.75 ‘Restoration Contribution” for a seat in Row B of the Circle. In an odd way it’s the smaller amount which hurts you more – having recovered from the mugging at the Box Office, you find yourself reeling all over again at their temerity in coming back to you with hand outstretched for a levy to fund the polishing of the proscenium or the re-sticking of the stucco. Such costs, you might think, would be intrinsic to the gross figure previously presented, but not so. Throw in train tickets, a couple of Shaftesbury Avenue burgers and half a bottle of claggy Malbec each, and the chiz household is well on its way to £250 in the hole for the privilege of sitting side-by-side in silence in the dark all evening, something we normally expect to get for free at home. A modest mortgage renegotiation at half time scores us two thimbles of Haagen Daas, the ice cream equivalent of a Farrow and Ball testing pot; it’s » Continue Reading.
Spare a thought for Bros, who have had to cancel the majority of their comeback tour for what must be the best rock euphemism since ‘Not a big college town.” Something about the story suggests that the logistical problem might be that there were too many seats in some of the venues.
I wonder if the Afterword brains trust can come up with some more suitably ambiguous phrases to explain unexpected underperformance in the music business?
Metallica’s 2004 public therapy session is now on Netflix and well worth a visit if you’ve never seen it. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of their music – to me it’s terrible stunted post-pubescent bawling, but they are a nut-tight band, at least with their instruments in their hands. It’s just when they’re off stage that things go all titty-uppy.
SKOM is about what happens when you’ve been rich, feted and adored throughout an adolescence which has somehow extended into your early 40’s, and the only person who might potentially speak truth to you is another overindulged princeling who makes faces behind your back for a living. Hetfield and Ulrich had seen, done and acquired everything by this point, but emotionally they’re still in nappies.
By happy chance – or design, maybe? – they hired a recording studio, a film crew and a $40,000-a-month therapist at the same time as Hetfield went through addiction recovery. Between the riffs in the studio there are endless riffs round the canteen table, as these monsters of rock very slowly turn back into something like functioning human beings. Egos get deconstructed and songs get partially built. It takes fucking ages, with » Continue Reading.
Hotel California’s not hard, is it? Any fool with an acoustic can crank out its circling chords. But for a charity show on Sunday David Ford decided to attempt a full band version using a series of loops. David’s built his own loop station which can run six (I think) concurrently. Watch his feet – it’s a technical exercise as much as a musical one, but no less enjoyable for it.
I made this video from audience clips so any timing mistakes and bits deliberately left out are mine not his
Two young women, maybe 17, on their way to college
– How does it go again? – Which part? – The first line. Hello darkness… – Hello darkness my old friend of mine – Right. Are you sure? – Yep. Hello darkness my old friend of mine – Sing it – (sings, to the tune of ‘…because the vision softly creeping’) Hello darkness my old friend of mine – Okay, thanks – Good luck
So says Mr Bruce Springsteen, CEO and principal shareholder of The E Street Band, in his new book. He goes on:
“If I was going to assume the workload and responsibility, I might as well assume the power. I’ve always believed the E Street Band’s continued existence is partially due to the fact that there was little to no role confusion among its members. My bandmates were not always happy with the decisions I made and may have been angered by some of them, but nobody debated my right to make them.”
It’s a theme elaborated on at length in the recent Tom Petty documentary, Running Down A Dream. The great keyboard player Benmont Tench tells of being summoned to the studio, told what to play, and dismissed. Petty shrugs his shoulders at this treatment of his friend of 40 years. Maybe that’s what you get when your band’s called X and the Ys.
For a band to succeed they need a talented one and an ambitious one. Often they’re the same person. Then they need Curly, Larry and Moe who do what they’re told. Bruce’s benign dictatorship was probably the only way that operation could prosper. A band may » Continue Reading.
Anyone else on the sinister side with me and Jimi?
One of you tricky buggers will probably get this from the first clue, but if not I’ll give you another one.
1. The band started the recording sessions with four members and ended them with two
So record store day approaches and new research discovers that half of the people who buy vinyl, or vinyls as the young folk would have it, don’t actually listen to them. Vinyls-evangelist Jordan Katende, who is proof we are paying students way too much, buys them for the ‘old-school’ vibe they give his bedroom. I think the idea is that having a 12-inch square close up of Phil Collins’ sweaty frown turned coquettishly towards the bed, or the strikingly similar cover of the latest Adele album blu-tacked above the headboard, will encourage young ladies to tarry later than they planned. Didn’t work in 1981, Jordan, and I can’t see it working any better now.
Poor listless fellow workshy fop Duncan Willis yearns for “the times of our parents where you had to go out of your way to buy a song.” Oh boo hoo, Duncan, with your instant free access to every record ever made, ever. £15 a throw to feel a connection with your dad? You could get therapy for less than that.
Irritating proto-bieber and wind-up gramophone enthusiast Jake Budd chips in with “The soundwaves, they’re not electronic. There’s something satisfying about it for the brain, I think.” » Continue Reading.
Back in the 60s and 70s, when youth culture was still young, we expected our rock stars to live outside the law. We wanted them to take drugs, smash up hotel rooms, sleep with very young women, ‘piss anywhere, man’, get into scrapes with Sergeant Pilcher and hide bars of chocolate in the most inventive of locations. The last one’s not illegal, but, you know.
We also expected them to stick it to the Man, in songs, in interviews, in dreadful Orwellian nightmare future concept albums, and in court; We are not concerned with your petty morals, as Keith told the judge. This was the kind of thing we wanted from our counter-culture cowboys – they were cool, unbowed and rebellious, and we identified with them and took our lead from them. We also expected them to stick it right up the man by paying as little tax as they could.
So even as far back as ’66 you had grumpy opinion-forming millionaire Moptop George complaining that 5% appeared to small, as evil Labour PM Mr Wilson harshed the Swinging Sixties vibe; and a little later middle class, grammar school LSE dropout Michael Philip Jagger took his dandy pals » Continue Reading.
What do we think, Afterworld? Has it changed our lives for the better?
I use Twitter a lot for work. It’s my first point of call every morning to see what’s happening and what everyone’s saying about it. It’s pretty much always first with new news, not always accurately, but way ahead of other media.
I never really got on with it for personal use. I’m just not interesting enough to share so much of myself so often. The worst thing is the way that nonsense and misinformation can gain credibility through volume and repetition. If something’s retweeted enough, it becomes true. As an ex-journo and now a lobbyist, that scares and frustrates me equally. On the other hand, it’s the perfect medium for great jokes and bad puns, two of the finest things in the world.
What’s your view? Use as many characters as you like
Over on the Afterworders on Facebook page, our old friend Faux Geordie has requested that someone post this article here “to cram it down that buffoon Cheesus/Chiz throat [sic]“.
Happy to oblige…
Skipping from the wings as his band competently embark on Where The Streets Have No Name, Owen effortlessly commands the eight square feet of stage between the Gents and the fruit machine. His stadium-hewn hand gestures, conspiratorial winks and hello-out-there horizon scans are as mesmerising to those in the back row as they are to those in the front, and the two in between. Comparisons with the young Bono are inevitable, as in, Jesus, this guy thinks he’s the young Bono.
Owen’s toured with all the greats – Mike and The Mechanics, to name but two – but tonight it’s all about him, busting a generous gut at Guildford’s premier and only rock venue in front of 80 people, 50 of whom, like me, came for the support band and were too polite to leave before he came on.
The man can certainly sing but something’s made him think we want to hear him talk too. After the third rambling monologue – a sweet but generally poorly-received riff on one elderly fan’s bladder function – the less starstruck of us are starting to form the suspicion that perhaps their hadn’t been as much » Continue Reading.
So, new guidelines on the amount you should drink in a week. 14 units is six pints of beer or seven glass of wine, or a ‘Saturday night’ as we would have thought of it until recently. You’re not allowed to bank them for the weekend, though, you’ve got to space it out over the week.
Basically we’re going to have to double down on our lie to the doctor when he asks us how much we drink. Instead of saying 25 units, when the advisable maximum was 21, we’ll have to pretend we’re doing 16, and that’s a much bigger fib. The stress of maintaining the falsehood will probably be worse for our health than the drinking.
The upside is that if we do as we’re told we’ll only have a one percent chance of dying from alcohol-related diseases. Other activities which carry a 1% risk of death (and in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out I am making these up) include 10-pin bowling, standing up too fast, owning a hamster and listening to jazz. None of which have upper limits imposed on them.
I guess we have a responsibility not to be a burden on » Continue Reading.
I’ve recently given in and invested in a Sonos / Spotify combination. I know: only five years behind the game, as usual. With a large slice of the entire history of recorded music available to me, I have mostly been listening to stuff I already own.
Right now it’s REM’s Green album. I bought this on LP when it came out in 1988. Two years later, living in New Zealand and missing my records, I bought it again on cassette. Obviously when CDs came in I had to upgrade to that, and a few years later ripped the CD to MP3. Now I’m listening to it streaming.
So I’ve bought the same album four times, and I suspect it’s been cheaper each time. If I could be bothered to root around in the attic I could probably assemble all five versions (and possibly the kit for playing them – I think there’s a tape deck up there somewhere.) Five formats – can anyone beat that?
This was a bit of a find, and a bit of a revelation for a confirmed jazzophobe like me. A village hall in rural France (when we arrived, the road crew were taking on the locals in what appeared to be a life-or-death game of petanque) is an unlikely place for a jazz epiphany. But first, a trestle table in the car park offering dinner options; cheap red in a plastic cup at 1 Euro a throw, and a hot dog. Well, this being France it was saucisson de canard en baguette, but you can’t have everything.
My expectation of some ancient Gallic ivorie-plonquer shrugging his way through La Vie en Rose was blown away by the discovery that 28-year-old Kauflin is American, a well-respected protégé of Quincy Jones, and the subject of last year’s documentary Keep On Keeping On, about his friendship with the legendary trumpeter Clark Terry. How his trio ended up here among the Langedoc vines I don’t know, but the event promoter was the most Jazz person I’ve ever met. Imagine being a super-cool laid-back daddy-o beatnik hepcat, and being French as well. That’s how Jazz he was.
I’ve » Continue Reading.
I had a bit of an ’80’s jag in the car this afternoon. Mostly Echo and The Bunnymen and The Icicle Works. I realised, while singing along with the windows down and causing genuine concern among pedestrians at traffic lights, that those guys wrote absolutely epic choruses. Ian McNabb in particular; I was hollering along to When it All Comes Down, Seven Horses Deep and Hollow Horse (see below).
Now this is a fine example. First, it makes you wait one minute and eleven seconds before you hear it. Does anyone keep a hook that hidden these days? Then, when it comes, the words are glorious nonsense (Fortune deep and wide, Intimidated, restless in the wait) but it just sounds… epic. Two minutes later, the third and last time you hear it, it arrives like an old friend at the door with a bottle of Bourbon and a DVD. After that it’s in your head forever. An epic chorus lifts the spirit like nothing else. It’s something about the chord change, the extra instrumentation, the backing vocals, the way everything just… flies.
So who does this for you? What song has a chorus that’s drilled into you before it’s even » Continue Reading.
50 years ago this week a young singer called Barry walked into an LA recording studio with some of the finest musicians of the time, including Hal Blaine and Larry Knechtel. They song they recorded is remembered for two reasons; the world’s most minimalist harmonica fill (a semiquaver parp at the end of the first verse) and for being, so far, almost exactly 100% wrong.
We’ve all had evening that seemed to go on forever – often involving grandparents, experimental theatre or the Mahavishnu Orchestra – but no teatime-to-bedtime stretch has ever lasted longer then the half-century-and-counting sunset predicted by Barry and the boys in Eve of Destruction. It was actually PJ Sloan, guitarist, lyricist and miseryguts, who sat around watching human respect disintergratin’ while his blood was coagulatin’ while moanin’ at a friend for not believin’ everythin’ was endin’. So it’s probably a bit unfair that it’s Barry McGuire who is going to be remembered for jumping the gun that PJ was totin’, but that’s the problem with being the spokesman for Armageddon; if the four horsemen don’t ride to your rescue you look a bit of a berk, and if they do, there’ll be no one around to » Continue Reading.
This is the Mixed Use Desk at Glasgow Airport. You can tell it’s the Mixed Use Desk because it’s got a sign on it saying ‘Mixed Use Desk’ and you can tell it’s at Glasgow airport because the sign says that too.
The thing that’s bugging me about the Mixed Use Desk is the ‘Mixed Use’ part. It’s bafflingly non-specific and it’s not like there’s a whole clump of specialist-function desks around here from which this one needs to be distinguished. I don’t know if it’s there for you to eat your dinner on, or change your baby’s nappy on, preferably in that order; or maybe I can put on a tie and insist on seeing everyone’s passports. I just don’t know. Its function is at best tantalizingly obscure, at worst willfully obtuse. The Obscure / Obtuse Desk is what it is, if you ask me.
The sign could just as easily say ‘Desk’ and we’d be no less well informed. But then none of the other furniture here is labelled, and most Scots can tell a desk from a chair or bed two times out of three. I imagine a huddle of Facilities Managers deep in conference around the » Continue Reading.
I’ve just been to the garden centre to get my mower fixed. The carburettor keeps getting clogged. I was explaining this to the lad in the workshop when his boss came over. The kid said “This is Mr Chiz. He’s got a carb problem.” I clutched my overhanging belly and exclaimed in mock indignation “I’m just big boned, that’s all!”
Even the crows in the wood beyond joined in their silence. I realised I had made The Joke That Everybody Makes.
The other day we had an engineer round to look at the boiler and I started off on a riff about isn’t it funny how we measure temperature in one scale (It’s minus two out there!) and high ones in another (It’s 90 degrees in the shade!). He made a noise like grinding gears and gave me a look of weary contempt that shut me right up. It was The Joke That Everybody Makes.
I’ve heard that “What’s the weather like up there?” is the second most common thing very tall people hear when they meet someone for the first time. (The most common is “You’re very tall.”) And I wonder what air conditioning engineers do with » Continue Reading.
Nottingham Rescue Rooms and Northampton Roadmender
How many bands have had a panicky Transit dash along the M1 after turning up at one of these venues when they were supposed to be at the other? Ford has avoided the problem of map-mangling drummers and bass players who wander off at Newport Pagnell Services by sacking the sidemen and doing everything himself on this One Man Full Band Tour.
Using three (I think it’s three) loop units, Ford builds a full band backing on his own – guitar, bass, keyboards, drum and percussion. As well as the musicianship involved, there’s enormous technical skill in the timing, the stops and starts of each loop to create dynamics in the song. There’s also a lot of balletic footwork on a starship bridge of a pedal board. It looks like spinning plates while riding a unicycle on a tightrope in a hurricane, and sounds like a band who’ve been playing together since the day they were born.
In 17 years of watching our boy play sticky-floored dungeons and end-of-the-earth arts centres I’ve seen the audiences change from gawky fairy-winged minigoths, to trendies twenties, to gotta-go-got-a-babysitter young parents. Some » Continue Reading.