Monday, 20 December 2010

All Nomadic again

It's always nice to see Christmas in with some music and after getting such a buzz from the Savage Nomads performance in November seeing their last night at the 12 Bar was awaited with eager anticipation.

They didn't dissappoint.

The sound was perhaps a little less polished than at The Hope and Anchor, but the skills of the sound guy were more than made up for by the buzz of the night.

A much more festive atmosphere and a little more anarchy made for a really fun night.

Although, having seen the Nomads twice now, soon I'm going to be clamouring for new material.

The old material is great, but there are only so many times you can listen to the same set list at a live performance; get writing guys.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The minds of the future: the tuition debate

The vote was cast over the value of putting through young people through university.


Well, it's real expensive you see, and so we can't afford it, but you, with no voting rights and possibly no jobs, you can.

27,000 for tuition sound fair, aside from your living expenses, of course?

You can start paying back the 27,000 when you're earning over, say, 21,000.

Never mind if you haven't got houses yet, houses are overrated.

The hypocrisy of power

I mean some of us we have to have two, but you lot, you don't need one.

Oh, did I mention that on top of all this you'll be paying for our wages.

And, most of us didn't have to pay anything.

But times have changed now, we're important and that.

We have to do what's best for the country.

Because borders are more important than young hope and aspiration.

What do I think of all this?

Well I've written to my MP, now I'm going to write to every Lord I can find the name of to ask, politely, if they could ask the V.I.MPs if they could re-think this.

And for the record I haven't thrown a rock at anything yet, but I'm getting painfully tempted.

Better get back to reading those Ghandi books that I was introduced to while I was studying.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Patrick Wooooooooolf: electro folk pioneer

Ok, I realise that some people - particularly folk stalwarts - would say that Bob Dylan was an electro folk pioneer; but trust me 'folks', ha ha, he's a completely different breed.

I have been following Patrick Wolf for a long time now and in some respects this is the best gig I've seen him perform.

He bounds onto the stage in a red boiler suit complete with black belt and red suit jacket with a fantastically angular red flower to complement the black ones covering the keyboard; only Patrrick Wolf can pull this shit off without me wanting to punch him.

The set gets onto a cracking start with Bluebells, one of my favourite tracks off The Magic Position.

The current sound

Since I saw him last he's become far more orchestral in his live performance.

Although I sort of miss the days of him standing pretty much alone on stage fighting to create his beautifully emersive tracks with technical wizardry and sheer passion, he has lost none of his passion and now brings the instrumentation to pack the kind of punch his songs demand.

He winds us through new and old songs seemlessly, telling tales and giving thanks in his classic delicate yet assured style.

Following The Libertine:

New Material

We are introduced to what he calls his Libertine for today, This City.

It proves a beautiful piece with all of the passion, pace and poignancy of his best work.

A sustained and enthusiastic applause brings him back for an encore and he finishes up with The Magic Position, the song that ensured I parted with the cash to buy that particular album.

One last question

So after the ICA gig supporting Franz Ferdinand, the clustered audience at the Barfly, Valentine's night at The Borderline and the magesty of Union Chapel; what's The Magic Position, eh, Patrick?

Monday, 6 December 2010

The homeless view of London

A friend of mine told me a while ago about tours of London conducted by homeless people, organised by sock mob.

To me this sounded like a wonderful idea on a number of different levels, not least because I don't like being herded on and off a bus.

Seriously though, the project sounded interesting, positive and potentially empowering.

I finally found the time to attend.

A different view

Our guide for the day was Sean, he loitered inconspicuously to one side until we started the tour and then quite simply took command as if we were just a group of school children that he was trying to educate.

Our tour centred around Old Street; I had envisaged being led around a very large area but in fact our hour long tour took us round a very small section of Old Street, there was just a surprising amount to be shown.

I think that in a lot of ways I have become quite jaded, or at least I did until I met Sean.

I'm a bouncing ball of naive innocence in comparison to him.

However, I have never lost my home.

The tour

He told us stories, and showed us places I'd never noticed before - and I've spent a lot of time in Old Street.

It was interesting, yet sad.

He showed us a lot of places that had dreamed of a fairer and more charitable world, but had hit the rocks of commercial reality or unscrupulous councils.

I was forced to look through his eyes and it made me ashamed, angry and sad.

Taking stock

A friend of mine challenged some of the facts that he had quoted at me later, it sowed a seed of mistrust that had simply not been there before, but I knew some of them had been accurate and though the journalist in me will try and source some of them, the humanitarian in me is furious that someone's word shouldn't be taken as readily as my honest words are spoken.

This food for thought cost me £5 and kept me occupied at a time of year that everyone seems to be focused solely on the shops.

I will leave you with one statement he made that has not left my mind.

For the Olympics all the homeless people in the area will be asked to move to Derby, those that refuse will be sent to mental hospital for the duration.

Sean thinks he'd prefer the hospital.

Did I mention that he had a wicked sense of humour.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Monsters, yeah all right then

A friend of mine invited me to see Monsters.

I had heard nothing about this film but from the title I assumed it was a kids film.

As it happened I was wrong it was a Sci-Fi clearly aimed at adults or at least older teens.

The main characters are Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) a photo-journalist and his boss's daughter
Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) who has found herself needing an escort out of an (alien) infected 'zone'.

This film had the feel of District 9, but it just wasn't quite as good.

However, it was made for a fraction of the budget entirely by Gareth Edwards.

It was beautifully shot.

The idea behind Monsters was very interesting and equally challenging.

And the acting was practically flawless, I believed what was unfolding at every turn.

My real complaint came that the beginning caught my attention and I was drawn on a ponderous strangely compelling journey.

And the end of that journey failed to meet my expectations.

It was sweet, but very hollywood for a film that had promised so much more.

I'd reccommend it, but you will be left wanting.

Unfortunately, unlike District 9, it doesn't allow much scope or promise for Monsters... 2.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Legend of the Guardians: 300 with Owls it isn't

I am quite squishy at heart.

I get sickened by cheese at the same time as liking positive messages and films like Happy Feet.

So all the advertising and reviews of Legend of the Guardians sucked me in.

Christmas was approaching, the guy on Newsnight Review said: "It's like 300 with Owls", The Guardian said: "a cross between The Lion King and Star Wars - but with owls."

So, there was definitely going to be owls in it and it looked like it might be, slightly too innocent for my age, fun.

I'm sorry but it wasn't 300 with Owls by any stretch of the imagination and could only be compared to the newer, shitter, Star Wars episodes.

Legend of the Guardians was also made by the same people as Happy Feet, another draw.

This wasn't a patch on Happy Feet.

There were touches of good story telling, but overall it was disappointing and it lacked a real crescendo.

The end sort of caught me by surprise with a distinct: "Is that it?" feeling.

At best this film was cosy.

Also, I can't see 3D - it's getting old, I just want a good film.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Democracy vs the monarchy

Breaking news: pro-democracy figure released after years of house arrest; couple in the UK announce their engagement.

Last saturday I wandered downstairs to receive the news that Aung San Suu Kyi had been released from house arrest after ten years of house arrest.

It raised a tired smile from my lips, which did no justice to the weight and beauty of this news; so I can perhaps forgive David Cameroon for his painfully understated "well overdue" comment.

Aung San Suu Kyi is one of the future modern day political figures that truly makes my heart swell.

She is a hero almost beyond measure in my eyes.

And this is only heightened by the fact she is a woman.

So imagine my dismay that in the following days instead of being inundated with news about the hopes and developments in Burma's new 'democracy', I hear on the hour every hour about the engagement of a little known UK couple: their called William and Kate, oh, did I mention that he is the third in line to the throne of our, er, 'democracy'.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Rocking Montague

Out for another deliciously fun gig night this weekend.

Looks like I'm making a habit of this.

Turned up chiefly to listen to Chekhov's Rifle play, for the...

No wait, I can't actually remember how many times I've seen them.

Let's just say it was the latest of many.

Chekhov's line-up is now all male, after the female bass player was baby-capacitated.

They deliver a tight and rousing set, with a 'new song', oo er.

The set is not even spoilt by a dropped and swiftly recovered drumstick, not a beat missed.

Great jiggly fun, with lyrics to leave you baffled.

They are followed by Tim Ten Yen.

I'm always a bit suspicious of a man with a tiny Casio keyboard.

In this case it can be easily forgiven.

This was a shits and giggles set with all the gusto I have come to expect from performance poet Richard Tyrone Jones.

Prancing about the stage he sang beautifully over an iPod and had most of the audience in stitches.

“I have an enemy a sea anemone.”

And a song about a cat looking out across the dance floor.

After all this I was well revved up for the last act, who during the sound check had moved through three instruments.

What a disappointment!

Mainly covers and not inspirational ones, I'd like to say more about the set but in truth I walked to the back of the bar after a couple of songs to chat in peace.

He was musically proficient, but, well, dull.

At least The Montague Arms is a lovely place to have and a drink if the bands don't pass muster.

An eccentric pub, meets ship, meets taxidermist, with bar staff who probably need hearing aids.

It's great.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Why I wear a Poppy

I have listened to and had a fair few conversations about whether you should wear a poppy.

I think it's important.

This is why:

Anthem for Doomed Youth

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?

Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Or pretty much any Wilfred Owen poem.

For me the poppy is part remembrance, part fury that we still haven't learned.

If we had, this wouldn't have been created:

Thank you to Huey Morgan for playing it this morning on 6 music.

I can think of few more appropriate songs today.

Wear a Poppy, remember, never again.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Savage Nomads - the alternative bonfire

I ventured out last night to see The Savage Nomads, with absolutely no expectations (despite being told "I think you'll like them.")

I was suitably impressed.

They even made me forget that I probably won't be seeing any fireworks displays this year.

In amongst all the third rate indie/rock bands that seem to be acosting my ears at the moment this bunch of spritely lads are a breath of fresh air.

It's not often that I see a band and spend the following day searching youtube clips to share with my friends, and then feel that those clips don't do the band justice.

These guys are a live band through and through with an easy confidence that makes their stage performance all the more compelling.

The singers style is reminiscent of Incubus, with a more British twang.

(Though I wonder whether he might be a little too young for Brandon Boyd to have been much of an influence, and possibly a mite too cool).

They're definitely not carbon copies of anyone, but not quite mind blowing perfection either.

But there's an infectious promise there - I might just place a bet that in a couple of years time they'll be playing far bigger venues than The Hope and Anchor.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Facefilm aka The Social Network

The Social Network starts with a date, an end of a relationship and Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg); fitting for a film all about the Zietgeist of modern times - Facebook.

The overblown tag line for this film gives a fair hint of what it's all about, but don't let this put you off.

Yes, it has a soundtrack that drives, pumps and screams fast lane.

Yes, Justin Timberlake is in it as Sean Parker - he's bloody good.

Yes, there are hot girls, deal table posturing and dot com bickering.

This film is not subtle, but then what about building a billion dollar business before your thirty is subtle, slow paced or small scale!

This film is not about technical brilliance or geekish facts.

It is about building the characters behind the ongoing saga of our age: the internet and big business.

But it isn't a biopic, it's a selection of moment by moment snatches of the insecurities and confidence that intertwine to make some of the most powerful, frightening and fragile characters you could possibly imagine; beautifully acted by all.

This film is comic, fun, fast paced and, if you grab all the implications, brainshatteringly scary.

It paints a picture of the power and arrogance of some of the greatest young business minds in America.

If everything this film portrays of these characters is true (they're all completely nuts), I never want to use Facebook again, but if this film teaches you anything it is that I, you, everyone will.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Sound of Rum and Kid Carpet

Kate Tempest, Sound of Rum’s lead singer, brought a positive energy to the stage as she hit it meaning her call to draw in the audience was readily obeyed.

Those who regularly attend gigs of fledgling bands and the not-quite-so-famous will be familiar with how often this call is met with icy stares and resolute ‘coolness’.

This isn’t a well researched notational review, this is very much a spin from my opinion.

So I was caught up by a truly poetic lyricist who shouts out her calls of messed friendship and a life manifesto.

Ferry (drums) and Archie (guitar) provided a tight and proficient understated backing, which should be complimented in its ability to stay far enough in the background to let Kate’s lyrics through and yet remain strong enough musically to make this a professional and fresh performance.

There were no egotistical twirls from any quarter; a vibe of assured positivity; and a groundedness that made these kids appear mature beyond their ages.

Kid carpet by contrast brought a much more knowing irony and jaded comedy to the stage.

More hilarity than musical prowess, but great fun for it.

“We built this city…” on slav-er-y, indeed.

Musical stand up with the florish of Bill Bailey and more young brash sarcasm.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Flag waving

I was watching Newsnight the other night and I was frustrated with the dialogue that was presented.

They were talking about which flag to identify with, which nation to align to.

Ok perhaps I just like the idea of a red flag that anyone can have.

But something that unites all of us, that allows all of us to join if we’re willing to accept and support all the people under it…

Remember they should be anyone.

The idea of a nation is a construct.

It truly is.

Any idea of nation is largely propaganda.

It is a marking from some majority or strong minority of what we are.

It is rarely built to be all inclusive.

It is the very nature of us as opposed to them.

I don’t want homogeneity either, but culture is a mix match.

You pick a bit here a bit there and you embrace the parts that speak to you and each person embraces a slightly different selection.

If a nation really defined us so strongly we would all like the same tunes, the same comedy, the same plays… Need I go on?

Things are mixed up and provided there’s no real viciousness it’s beautiful.

Sure there’s the times it is vicious, it is them and us, it is fuck off and don’t come anywhere near my family.

But that can often be inspired by which flag are you.


What is the point of a flag?

It came out of making it clear to the troops, you bought or bullied into fighting for you who to shoot.

Not who to hug, support, nurture and feed. It’s about, which one am I meant to be beating and stamping on.

So: why a red flag?

Because it has a history of trying to support those who are being bullied, now that’s not to say that it doesn’t have as chequered a history as any other flag.

Anyone seen Land and Freedom, read Animal Farm, studied the course of the Russian or Chinese revolution?

Then you know what I mean.

Yet I still think it’s the best flag going, forget a hammer and sickle or that way of going, imagine each lot of people that decides that’s what they want picks up a red flag and keeps it plain, so the next person that picks it up will share it, not so they know not to shoot each other, but to know they’re to be trusted and given a hand, plus any extra that there is to spare.

I guess I'm suggesting remaking it.

Maybe people would be happier if it was green.

But somehow red speaks to me.

If it's about picking one identity then no wonder the boy on the feature on the British National Party (Google them if you wish, I'm not linking to them) thought multiculturialism couldn't work. I'd like to introduce him to my friends.