The more i read about bands, the more I understand it is about 4 colleagues who make music, and who disagree as much as they agree. This is a shock and moderately upsetting. In the 45 years i have been following music, my perception of bands has been as per the Fabs in “Help”, or The Monkees. I really did think bands were pals and ex-flatmates who enjoyed each other’s company, had amusing sessions in the pub (plus full and frank recording sessions like The Troggs, and hedonism like Motley Crue). When i read how distant members of an act are to each other, even when travelling the globe in luxury, I start to understand why they start to get creative inertia and the band is just a brand. Tony Iommi’s description of a Sabs tour above… it sounds a bit sad.
Interesting. much more interesting than more imperial Floyd rehashes.
But the Spandau Ballet connection …. in the words of Nigel Tufnell, “Is this some kind of joke?”.
Cambridge Corn Exchange
A sold-out venue with not a mullet in sight and a ‘mature’ audience, more gender mixed than anticipated and extremely well-behaved were in progressive heaven as Marillion ran through most of FEAR and a good range of older tracks; their “earlier incarnation” was represented by the final encore in which the crowd (those who knew the words) filled in; love those retro-synth sounds. Two and half hours flew by as this complex music (with all sorts of nods to recent sounds, trip-hop, etc.) was performed with tightness and (relative) economy and taste compared top how it COULD be. The show was very nice visually, and well-integrated to the songs and lead vocalist Steve Hogarth’s performance. Sound was pretty damn good, as you’d hope. Vocals could have been a little more up, IMHO, but mostly very clear.
As above. Silent and rapt in the music, and not pissing around on their phones. not too many TRUE FANS having to do their sclerotic shuffle in front of those sitting down. Nice people being friendly to strangers, it was almost like a private party. One thing: middle-aged men drinking beer at gigs: don’t; the » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Chris Squire, the voice and, er, “bottom” of Yes, released a solo album in 1976 with his fellow ex-Synner Andrew Pryce Jackson, plus heavy friends like Bill Bruford, Patrick Moraz , and the LSO. Tuneful progressive pop slightly less frenetic than the home band ensued, including OGWT favourite, “Hold Out Your Hand”, which did for the shortie kimono what only Keith Barron had done for the similarly lengthened bathrobe previously. The album is all present and correct, and as perfectly produced as it once was, along with a remix by latter-day King Crimson multi-instrumentalist, Jakko Jakszyk that makes it sparkle but in a slightly different way. Also included are singles and demos of “Silently Falling”, “Lucky Seven”, and the great Christmas single that never was, “Run with the Fox”.
What does it all *mean*?
Chris Squire’s musicality in Yes was often underappreciated in all the sturm-und-drang and whimsy around him, so when able to control things a bit more to his liking, you can hear what he brings to the show, which is a real sense of choral potential and clever arrangements. This is very tasteful progressive pop which still pushes the limits of » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Like many, I’ve been snotty about Marillion. The fact is, they are a different and far, FAR better band than they were in their earliest incarnation. Steve Hogarth’s description of themselves as akin to “Radiohead and Pink Floyd in touch with its feminine side” is about right; emotionally intelligent modern progressive rock (which is what Radiohead are, albeit hipper). The first half of the concert DVD is their most recent (and excellent) album, “F.E.A.R” which goes through styles, textures, emotions, amuses, excites, and soothes in a way few albums by bands into their 4th decades do. The band are clearly top of their game in what they do, but unstarry with it. Lead singer Hogarth is a quality frontman who engages and emotes through the songs with wit and charm, and seems close to being overcome by the warmth and love the evening evoked. The second half is a selection of songs from the back catalogue played with a string section and a horn (COR!), but no “greatest hits” as such, nor anything pre-1989. It wasn’t needed, would have lowered the tone, and isn’t missed. It also looks like a million quid, which i » Continue Reading.
There was me thinking The Band were gigging again. Seems not, as the mighty Take That have a musical with the same name. Imagine, if you will, the Robbie Robertson fans who turn up to the show and are presented with homoerotic boy-band callisthenics. They may find their tastes going in a whole new direction.
Any other disturbing potential misunderstandings?
I was at a Damned concert the other day – great fun. My feeling about concerts by heritage acts these days is that the audiences are becoming warmer with each other, and it’s becoming like we are a regimental reunion for our grandfathers. There is the shared experience, the passing of time, the continued love of a particular act, the recognition of particular moments, the characters who emerge (Jonno, who has seen The Damned over 1000 times)… Hawkwind gigs are similarly communal as are ‘Ver Maiden. Is it that people have given up on cool at last? Not that it is easy to be cool without without a trendy barnett, carrying at least 30 spare lbs of lovingly acquired gut, and a slight wish for the gig to be over by a time which means you can be in bed by midnight.
This place sometimes makes me feel there has been no change in 40 years. In music, of course, but also in the personalities. Tigs is the cool clever gorgeous girl everyone is in love with but too shy to ask out (she’d be very kind in her rejections making her even more loved); Beany is lighting farts and has a large collection of comedy records; RobC is the first one to be experimenting with herbal substances and seems to be in on a cosmic secret we are only reaching for; SteveT is a preternatural solid source of common sense and good taste. Black Celebration looks askance at the retro musical taste with pity and amusement, I am Roland Browning in a wig. Have I got this right? Are there other roles that naturally emerge?
I am starting to feel the time has passed for big bands and big crowds of pensioners and their phone-fiddling junior relatives to try to relive the excitement of seeing these bands 40 years ago. The reforming Of Genesis 11 years ago was as underwhelming as you might think, going by the footage. Peter Gabriel’s work ethic has decently reduced somewhat (I think it was all over after the “Passion” soundtrack), and Steve Hackett has a variety of ways to get the last juice from the orange. So many artists haven’t really been effective in decades – what has Jimmy page delivered likewise in the last 40 years? Floyd’s last decent album was “Animals”. Just how long do you keep flogging a dead horse before you know it’s over?
I have mixed feelings about The Moody Blues. Love “Days of Future Past” and some of the hits, but they could be painfully safe (Justin Hayward’s bouffant, etc.). Nevertheless, their cheese factor was high, and to me that is a good thing. Plus, and it’s a big one, flutes play a major part in a lot of music I enjoy.
I’ve been dying of this bloody awful flu and fell into a YouTube strand of old “Wheeltappers and Shunters” episodes. The sghow was set in a fake northern working men’s club with lots of variety turns who then seemed elderly but now look younger than most of us on this blog. It was endlessly fascinating, wierd, archaic, and sometimes downright sinister (the Krankies would have me on the phone to the social services now).
with alvin stardust and cyril smith on the judging panel here, it really underlines why we liked punk rock and jethro tull. This life was NOT going to be a option.
“Bands and genres that were scorned and laughable by rock snobs and the hip cognoscenti then are not the bands that are scorned and laughable by rock snobs and the hip cognoscenti now.” Discuss. Use both sides of the exam paper, with worked examples. The most egregious examples are to be named and shamed.
I’ll start: not until Steven Wells in the NME did they stop being such jerks about metal and hard rock.
It is my sad duty to inform you that DikMik (Michael Davies) of Hawkwind has genuinely been “Born to Go” and passed onto the next plane.
Hawkwind’s tour in May was a treat for fans, with them supporting themselves as an unplugged act, This CD has both the more familiar trippy bikerdelic space rock (I will use “bikerdelic” until it is officially adopted) and some of the earlier acoustic set, a mellow section which was rather more enjoyable than I expected, being personally generally suspicious of acoustically style rock. They left “psi power” off this disc, but you can’t have everything. The album was recorded at the spiritual home of the 70s London Underground, the Camden Roundhouse, where Hawkwind last played in 1977, doubtless at an “all-dayer”. Camden has lost the alternative edge it once had (Compendium Books, etc) for a depressing mix of gentrification and student tat, but Hawkwind did their best to bring it back for the evening, and probably played better and with better gear (no snickering, hopheads) than back in the day.
Soon we are back with the more familiar swirling synths, echoed vocals, recited science fiction-poems, stentorian chords and riffage, with hypnotic jams bringing on flashback moments for some listeners. Those jams … anyone who met “Julie” back in the day, will most likely remember her if they listen to » Continue Reading.
The Doobie Brothers supplied a hits-filled, good humoured set that got a much stronger reaction than I expected, and even had Bill Payne (Little Feat) on keyboards (sadly, no “Day at the Dog Races”). The Steely Dan set was a tad truncated, but given that, as stellar as one might expect, thrilling a sold-out 20k seater. A lot of tracks from”Aja” and “Gaucho”, which suited me. Expensive lighting provided big looks and is probably necessary in a hall such as this. Sound remarkably good bar a trombone mike not switched on during a solo, and the band tighter than a gnat’s chuff. Donald Fagen seemed to be enjoying himself; maybe he’ll be back sooner. I’d like to see a solo band gig with more of his solo material at a smaller venue, e.g. the Royal Albert Hall.
Very mixed in age and with plenty of women. A few too many shiny happy people types for us sport-hating snarky hipster types who like to claim Steely Dan for their own. Their “dancing” was a bit of an irritation given a fair few had dodgy knees and so not sitting was not an option; » Continue Reading.
I wonder if the shift away from “edgy” violence in the arts and media will be paralleled by a similar shift from ‘edgy’ sex in the arts and media; it must be 40 years since Mapplethorpe argued you could skewer art pretensions by making it pornographic (see his biography). Then there was the Cosey Fan Tutti/ GPO exhibition at the ?ICA which also sought to deconstruct/ challenge/ [enter your post-modern buzz-word here] sex and pornography. Fashionistas eventually got it, Jeff Koons, his missus, all those photo essays of the fetish and s&m world, Madonna’s “Sex” book (oh those amusing transgressions she played with), Terry Richardson, porn as a norm, and the hiding in plain sight of sexual predators (I see Max Clifford and Weinstein as reflecting similar phenomena). I’m all for sex, and all for it being represented in an honest manner to accommodate a wide variety of orientations and preferences. Can this be done in a better way than currently? Discuss.
This is a rather nice article about our louche hipster fantasy friends which i think mostly nails their appeal (and why others may not get it).
I’m glad someone has pointed the “actors are not geniuses” thing out. Very few modern actors/ actresses appear to me more than a decorative chassis able to remember lines, and as such are soon to be superseded by CGI. I recall reading that Sir John Geilgud had no idea about the Shakespeare he was acting, but he gave it some drama and hoped it worked. I reckon the intellectualising of acting and music raised the art from the more honest “artisan”. Many of our musical heroes become increasingly disappointing the more we learn about their views, and therr atre very few real geniuses – most are a case of right place, right time, right producer, can play/ sing/ dance at bit. There are equally talented folks undiscovered or around at the wrong time for their oeuvre. Furthermore, the idea that our favourite entertainers emerge out of a free market of talent has to be understood in the context of the entertainment industry, and it’s less charming side of movers and shakers, some of whom were as sexually exploitative as Weinstein, so can open out or thwart talent at it’s earliest point. Discuss.
Nantwich Civic Hall
A full playthrough of “Power In the Darkness” 40 years on from “2-4-6-8 Motorway” at 1.30pm in the afternoon in Nantwich Civic Hall, rock n’ roll capital of Cheshire? Yes please. In th efirst bloom of PC amidst punk orthodoxy, the Tom Robinson Band were a basically unreconstructed rock band with plenty of riffage and strong Hammond Organ singing songs with political lyrics that helped stop the rise of Thatcherism (see what i did there?). Now 67, Tom Robinson plus excellent side men played a pretty straight run-through of everything they recorded before 1978 (I missed “I’m All Right, Jack”) plus the album, Tom going at it like a dog with a bag of hot chips, and clearly enjoying himself, if sometimes puffed-out by the frenetic pace. A few songs had slightly updated lyrics which avoided the obvious (Trump, Brexit, UKIP, Corbyn) for slightly broader humanist sensibilities, which i think was a good decision given how cliched it would have been to name the usual suspects. One thing; to me, “Martin”, a music hall paen to idiot delinquents, could be dropped: hitting someone in the face with a cloakroom stool, nicking cars, joyriding, » Continue Reading.
Have other folks hoping to attend this received their tickets yet? We haven’t.
Also, should we try to engineer a mingle at this event? i will have junior and the only teenage girl – my daughter, sauceboxes – in the audience with me.
Again, please advise.
I quite like a lot of Lou Reed’s post-Velvets output (I find the Velvets deeply over-rated, though am aware there are other views available). What I find interesting is the free pass his edgy, reformed junkie shtick gives to behaving like an insufferable tool. Did anyone ever stand up to him and give him a lesson in humility? This article has some interesting observations. I suspect he tried to dominate his conversation with Havel, as he didn’t want to be told how important Zappa and the mothers were for independent thinkers behind the Iron Curtain. Behind an opiate curtain you don’t really give a crap about anything except you habit. Lou, then his cheerleaders Lester Bangs and Nick Kent pretty much made being “elegantly wasted” junkies hip (heroic wingman, Keith Richards, who at least laughs at himself). I hope they are proud.
The discussions of a lack of women on music mag covers reminds me of what I am sure is not an original observation; the women of punk/ post-punk opened up music the way a bit of ramalama didn’t; The Slits, Siouxie, X-Ray Spex, Rezillos, Penetration, Laura Logic … I can listen to any of these still; I find blokey punk all a bit lumpen. These days I find PJ Harvey, Goldfrapp, and St Vincent more interesting than hip indie sausage fests (and I like sausages). I’ve never been one for positive discrimination and approved quotas; I simply find these acts better.
I must say this pleases my dark heart. That this rag exists and “The Word” doesn’t is a travesty of what is true and good in the world. It was mostly a singularly boring read, and I’m not sure if it’s focus on Woodstock-friendly singer songwriters then dull American bands playing catch up with UK indie made it any better. it is about as interesting as the freesheet NME (is that still going?). Then there are the legendary album reviews…
I was looking forward to this gig, and wasn’t disappointed. Moved from outside “The Custard Factory” (?selective appeal issue?), we were faced with a packed and hot O2 and a stage with several 10-foot high inflatable mushrooms dotted around the stage and venue. It was that kind of gig. Public Service Broadcasting (the other PSB?) delivered a lively and enjoyable set, and are sort of where Kraftwerk, Hawkwind, and Neu! meet with an old style Human League presentation of wry and evocative films and PSB clips of mining, factories, and the Soviet space programme, performed by a bunch of post graduates and a hip Jason Rees-Mogg. I liked them, and venture we will hear more of them. The Flaming Lips are a kind of modern psychedelic/ non-symphonic progressive band with some ravey elements. The visuals were tremendous, and confirm my view that a few bits of kit and imagination produce something better than Roger Waters in an enormodome. Lots of inflatables, confetti, smoke cannons, psychedelic lighting,etc. Theyn did bits from “Yoshi…”, “Yeah Yeah Yeah”, a cover of “Space Oddity” from inside a zorb-ball… Some nice synth work and a sense of humour and ridiculousness » Continue Reading.
I grudgingly accept it is not “my” music. Anyone can like anything, and go to the same gigs as you. One has the false reassurance that ‘you’ get it, and they are a poser/ lost/ etc. I read that George Osbourne attended an NWA concert in the 1980s, and yesterday’s Times revealed nice Tory Matthew Parris attended the Lyseum in the late 70s withex-Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to see the Angelic Upstarts and 999. I am sure the Massive can report a wide variety of disconcertingly wrong persons at gigs they have attended, or have heard claimed.