Having reached the ripe old age of 51 last year I am starting to get more and more stuff sent to me, via email and in the post, about older people’s stuff and retirement in particular. You probably know the sort of thing; Saga/insurance/comfortable trousers and footwear etc. Now I’ll have the targeted advert senders know that I’m still a Docs and Levi’s wearing kind of chap thank you very much. But it does make you think. Last month, having recently inherited some money, I brought a very nice camper van, no, not the old VW type, a much newer Peugeot Boxer Van model, and quite frankly I’d like the time to start using it more than just at weekends. It’s not really a typical mid-life crisis, as Mrs NL was right behind the idea being a stalwart camper herself. That’s my justification anyway… I suppose I am quite lucky in that I don’t actively hate my job, although I am becoming more convinced that I’d like to go part time at some point in the next few years. The kids are in compulsory education for another couple of years, and we will move somewhere much cheaper at that point. » Continue Reading.
Any ideas for the most awkward gig you’ve been to? Sometime in the early 2000’s, on holiday in North Devon, Mrs. L and I went to see Suzanne Vega at the Queen’s Theatre in Barnstaple. Mrs L was a big fan and I liked a few songs, so all seemed set for a good holiday gig. Accompanied only by a bass player, Vega started with a couple of nicely stripped down songs which seemed to go down well. However, she then made her first announcement. “It’s so nice to be here in Cornwall, (confusing Devon for its next door neighbour) I’m looking forward to a cream tea.” Now for an American on tour I guess this was an easy mistake to make and I would have cut her a lot of slack for it, hoping she might have used humour to make the best of an error but there was no chance of that. There was a slightly awkward murmur, and a loudmouth a couple of rows behind shouted out in an irritated and pained voice “Oh NOOOOOO, you’ve got it wrong, this is DEVOOOONNN!!!” Now Suzanne Vega can come across a little School Marm-ish at the best of times, » Continue Reading.
This is a non-music related post but it may still be of interest to some. An article in today’s Guardian by John Harris (ex music journo, more recently turned to politics and Brexit in particular) about the decline of British towns has made me think about how our town centres have changed over the last twenty to thirty years or so, in particular the paragraph on the “radical reinvention” of Doncaster town centre and the proposed bars, restaurants and rejuvenated markets that this will entail. Now I trust John Harris and his often very depressing tales of post referendum Britain. He makes a good point about the state of our town and city centres reflecting our current tortured angst as a nation. However, I wonder, is Doncaster’s approach really so radical, as it seems to be the default/last throw of the dice for most places who can attract a bit of investment? As some background to this, for the last few months we have been taking our daughter round the university open day circuit. You may know the type of thing: you drive to a town you aren’t really familiar with, find the correct building, then find the correct room » Continue Reading.
What was your “style tribe” when you were growing up? I do a lot of work with teenagers from 16-19 and they all look quite generic nowadays. Maybe at my age I just don’t recognise any groups these days but no particular groups or subcultures seem to particularly stand out. The (very) occasional goth stands out a mile now amongst the sportswear, Superdry and Primark acquisitions that this age group seem to favour, my own two kids (16 and 18) included. Hey, I don’t blame them, it’s cheap and mostly durable stuff. I started out in about 1979 as a 12 year old, heavily into 2-Tone and punk/post punk, which meant a Harrington, jeans and black Doc Martens shoes etc. (My Mum wouldn’t let me have boots until a couple of years later. Rock and roll eh?) At the age of 15 I morphed into the Oxfam heavy overcoat, black fingerless gloves, black jeans, black jumper and black DM boots look. On my 16th birthday I dyed my hair black and had my ear pierced. I thought I looked cool, and disdainful of the rest of bland society. Actually I must have looked like a chilly Marc Almond on his » Continue Reading.
With the BBC 4 “On Guitar… Lenny Kaye” programme showing tonight, I was thinking about guitarists whose work I admire. As a dabbling guitarist myself I am probably of the early Billy Bragg style, ie choppy and percussive rather than virtuoso, using just a handful of chords and making a little go a very long way. Being of the more late 1970’s and 80’s persuasion I probably veer much more towards the punk/new wave/indie style than anything else but there is the occasional (and possibly surprising) exception amongst those I admire. This is a list featuring some of my favs, in no particular order:
Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) Gets a mighty sound every time and makes Never Mind The Bollocks the superb album it is. Good in The Professionals too.
Billy Bragg Probably an unlikely candidate for a “guitar hero” to many but hey, I learned to play using Billy’s songbook from 1985 (I think.) It’s made me the “less is more” kind of guy I am now! I even found a green Burns Steer guitar which even makes me sound acceptable…
Johnny Marr Personally I can never get near the magic that Johnny comes up with, but he sounded » Continue Reading.
As suggested by John W on The Yachts thread. Here’s your opportunity to address the broad church that is Powerpop. What a broad church it is too. For me it could be anything from certain Beatles tracks, to The Jam to Fountains Of Wayne and then onto things like Marshall Crenshaw, The Smithereens, even some XTC. Many will disagree I suspect! Anyone prepared to argue the point and make their own definition? Any modern examples?
Inspired by the “I wish I’d seen this band” thread, I thought I’d ask what is the most unlikely gig you have actually seen? Mine would have to be when I saw TC&I back in October at a small local arts centre in Swindon. Who are TC&I, you may well ask? If you didn’t already know, or hadn’t already realised, it will all become much clearer when I say (for those unaware) that the TC stands for Terry Chambers and the “I” refers to Colin Moulding. Yes, we’re talking about half of XTC, who famously stopped playing live in 1982 due to singer and writer of the bulk of their songs Andy Partridge suffered an on-stage breakdown and subsequently decided to stop touring or indeed playing live at all. He pretty much stuck to it too. As a result I never thought I’d get to actually see any of those fabulous songs played by the people who wrote them. TC&I (an inspired name I thought) had released an EP in 2017 which had been well received if a tad under-publicised. So when back in July a week of dates all at the 200 capacity Swindon Arts Centre was announced, tickets » Continue Reading.
Having been born in 1967 I became a teenager in 1980. I didn’t suddenly get into music at that time because I already had. However I did most of my growing up in that much maligned decade and I do get rather fed up of the received wisdom nowadays that the eighties is only about Duran Duran, Wham, Princess Diana, Phil Collins, Live Aid, big hair, crap production, Yuppies and “Greed Is Good.” That stuff had a lot of fans for sure, but it isn’t just how I remember it! Sure, there was some awful stuff around but you ignored it. I remember new wave, post-punk, Billy Bragg’s first album, (whether you like him or not it was fresh, raw and different) the rise of REM/Sonic Youth/Pixies, the birth of The Smiths, some decent soul, innovative early hip hop, pre-gentrified festivals and a real dissenting voice that resulted in protests. Lots of them. In 1984 I left school. In the six years that followed I went to loads of gigs, played a bit of music myself, drank quite a bit, protested about a lot of things, calmed down a bit and by the end of the decade realised I should » Continue Reading.
I see on another thread there is a mention of football! Hope it’s OK to start a specific one. Does anyone else follow the beautiful game? Although I was raised as a West Ham fan I’m a non-league sort of guy these days. My team, Hampton & Richmond Borough of the National League South, are having a (cough!) “transitional” season in that we lost our manager and the backbone of the side to another club in the summer. All a bit depressing as we made the playoff final last season. Who are your teams and how are they doing at the moment?