… than the drummer from Belle and Sebastian left stranded in a supermarket car park in his pyjamas for several hours because ‘His band mates only discovered he was gone after driving 500 miles.’?
News reaches us that Ronnie Wood has lung cancer, but has refused chemo for fear of losing his hair.
“It’s more I wasn’t going to lose my hair. This hair wasn’t going anywhere. I said, ‘No way.’ And I just kept the faith it would be all right.”
It’s hardy the most important feature of the story, and I’m sure we all wish him well, but I can’t be the only one who was, shall we say, surprised, that what’s on top of his head could be affected by affected in any way?
We had to bail out of a gig* early last night because the volume was just too much. I’m no stranger to loud gigs, but that’s why I have tinnitus and I’m keen to avoid it getting any worse thanks. After 40 minutes we were edging further and further back, but even by the doors it was clear that the volume was increasing and the only sensible thing to do was leave or face possibly permanent consequences. Does anyone use ear protection at gigs? And is there such a thing as ear plugs which reduce the volume while still allowing you to enjoy the music? Side topic, what’s the most punishingly and pointlessly loud gig you’ve seen and heard? AHEM! I SAID …(etc.)
* It was British Lion at Colchester Arts Centre. BL is the side project of Iron Maiden main man Steve Harris** and they were playing a warm up gig prior to some festivals around Britain and Europe. Metal was my gateway drug to music, but the only stuff I listen to now is occasional nostalgic visits to the songs I loved in my mid-teens, Maiden among them. I liked the idea of seeing an old hero who » Continue Reading.
Over on the BBC pay thread @Locust and @Moose-the-Mooche have started a sub-discussion on absurd games in work meetings to build team spirit. Moose correctly says that this is a whole other discussion, so it’s Friday, time to unwind a bit, and let all that office tension loose. Let’s have your stories of how those pens and pieces of plastic that you had been eyeing suspiciously since the start of the meeting panned out. Bonus points for stories about super-competitive colleagues who just take the whole thing far, far too seriously.
Mine from last week, which was actually quite fun, and I’m sure you can do better:
We were split into teams of 4. On the table was an elastic band with 4 pieces of string tied to it and each of us had to pull on the end of a string so the band would stretch and be used to pick up and move an upside-down paper cup. There were 10 paper cups and the competition was to see which team was fastest to make them into a pyramid of 4, 3, 2, 1. Chocolates to the winners.
The imminent BBC report of how much its highest paid front of camera people earn seems to be generating more media furore than anything since, well, the announcement of of a new Doctor Who who has two hearts but not X and Y chromosomes. I kind of get that they are effectively on the payroll of every license payer, but isn’t this manufactured outrage from the usual suspects (for which read anyone who is convinced the BBC is biased against their own common sense political views)?
Is this an issue on which anyone has strong opinions, or is it just another case of the media loving to talk about themselves, and a useful stick with which to poke the comments boards? I suppose the second is exactly what I’m doing here, but I am a bit baffled that it seems to be such a huge deal. Any thoughts?
We had a jolly time at Folk by the Oak yesterday, which is a terrific day out if you like your festivals over and done with in a single day so you can be in your own bed by midnight. This morning I went looking for clips on YouTube and found the same thing I have found after other recent gigs – videos which claim to be of that event but are patently fake, and loads of them too.
I don’t click on them because they are so obviously bogus, but what’s the deal here? Would I be sent to a link where I would be asked to enter my bank details to watch or something like that? And as this is, I’m assuming, some sort of scam, or at the very least sneak advertising, why does YouTube permit it on such a scale?
Since reviewing the Bat Out of Hell musical in these pages the other week I have been following ‘Jim Steinman Rock Philharmonic’ on Facebook. To be honest, it’s only because I saw that they had shared The Afterword’s own link to my review. ‘This one’s really good!’ they wrote. Aw, shucks, guys.
They share pretty much any link to a review of the musical, most recently Kate Mossman’s, who has found alternative employment since The Word’s demise with the New Statesman. She gives it a grudgingly admiring review, if only because Meat Loaf isn’t actually in it, but that’s not what brings me here. What I found odd was that she explains who Jim Steinman is by saying
‘Jim Steinman, who wrote the lyrics for Whistle Down the Wind, is responsible for most of Meat Loaf’s hits’
I know she may be writing for the benefit of an audience who seek out reviews of musicals, but am I the only one who thinks that even they would be more familiar with Meat Loaf than a semi-successful Andrew Lloyd Webber musical based on the famous film? (I had to Google it to find out what she » Continue Reading.
The London Coliseum
On a hot summer night, we wound our way down Charing Cross Road to theatreland for Bat Out of Hell – the Musical! The album is a massive, over the top confection, so it’s only fair that now it has finally hit the stage, more than 40 years after its genesis as an abandoned musical, it has found a home in the baroque wedding cake of the London Coliseum. As if the venue wasn’t ornate enough the huge set covers the proscenium arch and beyond with metal beams and the boxes closest to the stage are filled with speakers, promising that whatever happens next will be loud enough to shake the gilded plaster from the venerable hall.
What does happen next is a flash of light, a drum crack, and then a bellowed, ‘I remember everything!’ leads our hero Strat into the opening monologue of Love and Death and an American Guitar. Strat is the leader of the Lost, a tribe who are all eternally 18 and live in the disused train tunnels underneath what used to be called Manhattan, but by 2100 is the land of Obsidian. Obsidian is ruled over by » Continue Reading.
I was in Norwich the other weekend where, walking down All Saints Green, I spotted this unlikely bit of vandalism in tribute to everyone’s favourite lighter than light entertainer. Do other readers know of similar monuments? Perhaps your local Pelican crossing posts bear stickers celebrating Roy Hudd, or the bus stops have Paul Coia’s name burned into the plastic sheeting with cigarette lighters?
Union Chapel, Islington
“Welcome to an evening of songs that you don’t know!” was how Thea greeted the crowd at Union Chapel last night. It was a fair point. Her new album, The Counterweight, wasn’t released until today (a signed, deluxe edition from her website dropped onto my doormat about 12 hours after she stepped off the stage) and 10 of the 18 songs performed tonight were taken from the new album. Even those of us who follow her Facebook posts, receive her mailing list postings and so on had only heard a couple of them before. So there we were in the gorgeous Union Chapel, seeing Thea, her musical and life companion Nigel Stonier, a 4 piece string section along with drums and bass (plus occasional assistance from 10 year old son Egan Stonier) essay a hour and a half or so of music, an hour of which our ears had never met before.
Even to an audience as adoring as hers, and I freely admit that I would pay to hear her sing the Conservative Party manifesto, might find themselves tried by so much unfamiliarly material from an artist with an impressive back catalogue » Continue Reading.
15 Thommo UK solo dates just announced for October, all tickets on sale tomorrow at 10 am. Fill your boots.
The final episode (and sadly it probably is the final ever episode – see link) of Peter Kay’s Car Share was broadcast last night, though anyone in the know will have seen it weeks ago on iPlayer. Now it’s been broadcast to all and sundry, what do we think? [Spoilers ahead]
I have no hesitation in saying that this was the funniest and most moving television I have seen all year. The ‘Harry Potter’ episode was a bit of dip, though not without highlights, but overall this short series has been brilliant. I sometimes find Peter Kay hard to warm to, but his and Sian Gibson’s portrayals of John and Kayleigh were honest, hilarious and utterly believable. Anyone who didn’t find something in their eye when John watched Kayleigh walk out of his car and his life because he couldn’t confess his feelings for her, just as his dedication to her through the medium of his car radio is broadcast, must have a swinging brick in place of a heart.
Following swiftly on from yesterday’s ”I got hammered and cracked Justin Bieber in the face with a golf club’ says Ed Sheeran’, today we have ‘Sir Rod Stewart apologises over ‘mock execution”
I’m not sure anything will top Princess Eugenie cutting Ed Sheeran’s cheek with a sword while attempting to ‘knight’ James Blunt, but bless our music stars’ little socks for doing their best.
Now that there is just a hint of spring in the air, and those of us who work office hours are leaving work in daylight, the dormant gig-goer shuffles uneasily from his hibernation and raises his snout to sniff the air. Yes, he thinks, it may be time to think about ‘going out’ again.
I can see that my booked events fall into three chronological groups. March is all about spoken word with front row tickets for Ross Noble on his Brain Dump tour (which will be the third time we have seen him in about 12 months), and favourite author Christopher Priest making a rare public appearance for an interview at the local book festival. I’ve loved Priest’s work since discovering The Prestige on a second hand bookstall more than 30 years ago, but have never met him. We also have an application in for a recording with David Sedaris for the BBC. We’ve applied before but been unlucky, so fingers crossed on that one.
Things then take a folky hue as spring turns into summer with Kathryn Williams at Canada Water in April, The Unthanks at Deptford in May, Fairport’s 50th birthday bash at Union Chapel, also in » Continue Reading.
Does anyone else find that when they play videos on websites their iPad then stops playing videaos at all, whether on Safari in the YouTube app or whatever? Mine has been doing that for a couple of months now and it’s becoming a real pain.
The solution to getting videos running again is simple enough (go to settings and reset all) but a) I then have to reset the wifi, the password and other settings as well as passwords on sites like this (I’ve got it all down to a couple of minutes now but it’s a hassle I could live without) and b) when I have done that it will only be a few days before video crashes again and I have repeat all the resets.
Curse you 2017! The sad demise of Brian Pern following a ‘segway mistake’ has been announced. Thotch fans everywhere will find the world a sadder and less musical place today.
Hurrah! It’s National Tinnitus Awareness Week! It’s also a fair bet that those of us who suffer are pretty much constantly aware of tinnitus; that’s what makes the condition such a bugger to deal with.
I’m sure there are many here, like me, who generously donated some of their hearing in the cause of loud rock music. In my case I think I’ve always been susceptible to occasional tinnitus, possibly related to my metal youth, but it has been a constant presence for the last several years. I blame Jake Stigers (brother of the more famous Curtis) and the Velvet Roots, whom I saw in a tiny club with my head near a speaker when I was more than old enough to know better.
And you? I SAID – AND YOU?!
Today I have mainly been playing selections from the Matthew Sweet / Susannah Hoffs Under the Covers project. The song that really snagged on my mind and demanded to be played several times on repeat was You’re So Vain, and the reason for that comes at 2:50 in this video (which, I should point out,seems to have scant acquaintance with the recording. It looks like it was bashed together by a fan).
It’s that husky ‘Well I hea-ea-ear you went to Saratoga …’ that slays me. It often happens, doesn’t it? A performance which you enjoy is made unforgettable by a single little phrase of vocals or instrumentation. Let’s have yours.
Would anybody like one?
What’s that you’ve made …? Oh, ta – don’t mind if I do.
For the first time since I don’t know when we have no plans for New Years Eve. We’re too old to hit the bars in town, and no friend has stepped up to host a party (and I wasn’t about to volunteer). We’ll stay up for the bells to make sure 2016 is firmly nailed to its coffin and probably be in bed less than half an hour later.
All this is a far cry from the past when the old year has been seen out through a haze of booze, hugs and singing. But one of the reasons I have always preferred Hogmanay to Christmas is that it is voluntary; if you prefer to opt out no one will accuse you of being a Scrooge, so a quiet, through probably slightly drunken*, night in it is.
How about you? Wild partying or slippers an cocoa long before the fireworks go off? Best wishes for 2017 however you mark its coming.
* an added bonus of not having plans later is that we’re sipping Campari and prosecco right now.
The Stones are to forego their share of the royalties from a cover of You Can’t Always Get What You Want which is to raise funds for the Jo Cox Foundation. Mick in particular has never been known for the glee with which he opens his wallet so it’s nice of them to generate a little Christmas cheer out of one of the most shocking events of a year which has contained so many.
Or at least the vinyl lover who no longer plays their records.
A quick heads up. My local Poundland is selling record frames for, well, a quid. I thought some around here might want to stock up or request some as gifts. I can’t speak for the quality of the frames, but the ones I saw in store a least look the part.
New album out in spring (a typically eccentric addition to the Diversions series in the form of a album of the songs of Molly Drake) and a series of mainly very-small-venue gigs. For some reason the tickets for the earlier of the two London gigs, at The Albany in Deptford, are only a tenner each. Get ’em while they’re hot.
Last night I did something which I don’t think I have ever done before at a paying gig, and that is walk out before the end because I had enough and couldn’t be bothered to stay. I’ve had to leave gigs early because of transport issues before. Once or twice I’ve missed looked-forward to shows due to illness. But this was different. I couldn’t wait for the set to end and left.
It wasn’t really the act’s fault (I’ll save naming them till the end, because their identity isn’t really the issue) but for the first time I found myself becoming aware that my feet were sore enough from standing, that I was getting fed up enough of the ‘hilarious’ drunks in the corner, that I wasn’t going to hear anything better than what I was already a bit bored with, that if my phone hadn’t had a flat battery I would have checked for wifi and browsed my Facebook. So I turned to my other half and said, ‘What do you make of it?’ Barely were those words out of my mouth she said, ‘I’m ready to go whenever you are.’ And so we headed for the door.
I’ve spent the last couple of days decorating the living room, which means that I have had to move all the piles of CDs, DVDs and books for which there is no longer room on the shelves and, for the moment, pile them in the spare room ready for selling or charity shop disposal. It hurts getting rid of this stuff, doesn’t? I’ve done it before and honestly not regretted losing my precious possessions, or re-bought them, but I still hate to see them go.
Yesterday I went out for a walk after being cooped up in my flat for so long and came across this heart-breaking sight. I asked the couple in the house before having a rummage and it turns out they are moving somewhere smaller but none of the local charities could take such a large donation (about 2000 books, they thought). I rescued some of course, including firsts of Graham Greene and Raymond Chandler. No great financial value, but I couldn’t let a copy of The Quiet American that someone had cherished so much that they had stored a 1967 newspaper clipping about a screening of the film inside go to landfill.