Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Parklive, 12 August 2012

For everyone that's been wondering what I thought of the Blur concert from a few weeks ago; here's an email that I've been circulating to family and friends:

Got there really early, too early in hindsight.  The original time given for doors was 2:30 but then that got changed to noon as I think the promoters, BT London Live, got stressed about the amount of people coming and didn't want to have a huge crush, or everyone coming at the same time (i imagine).  We got there around 1 and there were probably 50-100 people there already.  My first concern was making sure I'd get a spot at the front as I didn't want to go to all this trouble to just be in the back or middle of 80,000 people watching it on a screen.  At this point, there was loads of room up front.  The venue was set up so there was a main stage at the front and then sort of a front area for the crowd which was partially separated from the rest of the audience by a large hole with barriers and security.  I'm guessing, but I think they did this to have some sort of control over the crowd and to make sure people wouldn't get crushed and stuff.  I'd heard that it's too overwhelming to be all the way up front and you lose your shoes, people piss on you, and you can't enjoy the concert from up there.  So me and Sumeera basically picked a spot which was in the middle of the front section.  In hindsight, this was not one of those concerts where people lose their shoes and all the rest of it.  It was very well organized.  There were all kinds of food options, lovely toilets with sinks, loads of places to get merchandise, etc. all over the place.

So once we scoped out where we wanted to sit/stand, we walked back up to the front/back of the venue (maybe a quarter of a mile away?) and went to Cadbury Village, prayed, went to the bog, and got food (some very nice vegan, organic Mexican burgers).  After that there was a looong wait watching the Olympics in the sun until Bombay Bicycle Club came on.  They were alright actually but I can't be bothered to get into most new music.  They were on for about 45 mins then there was a half hour break before New Order took to the stage.  We were both quite excited to see them, I think Sumeera wanted to see them more than Blur, however their performance was quite underwhelming, at least at the beginning.  They're crazy old first of all and show/act it (unlike The Specials who played after them).  They also played a selection of odd songs to start off their set including some song I'd never heard of, ever, and Crystal.  They had some good visuals though which made things interesting.  Things got even more interesting when they started playing the hits which were nicely reworked so you didn't quite know what song they were playing until a minute or two into the actual song.

After that it was The Specials who were great.  I noticed quite a lot of Specials fans in the crowd actually.  I'm guessing it's b/c they recently had their 30 year anniversary tour so they had some buzz about them.  Everyone was really into it.  I didn't even like The Specials that much before this concert but they put on such a good performance with loads of energy, they looked smart, and you could actually tell what was being sung.  BTW the sound at this place was brilliant.  It wasn't too loud at all and didn't distort or anything.  The screens were also sweet.  They were in HD, and you felt like you were all the way at the front of the stage looking at the band right in front of you, they were that good.

The Specials played for something like an hour then they showed some of the Closing Ceremony of the Olympics and split the screen when the Parklife bit started (at the CC) with a massive Blur logo.  The band came out behind this 3D replica of the Westway motorway (which is actually on the way to the tube from Z-Man's!) which looked crazy

 I dunno, it's gonna be hard for me to explain how great the concert was, words cannot do it justice.  They started off with four tracks off Parklife and place was going insane!  It seemed like everyone knew the words and everyone was totally into it bouncing around and dancing.  It was amazing.  They brought on this Syrian bloke who did the Oud for Out of Time and Phil Daniels and Harry Enfield came on for Parklife (that was one of many highlights for me).  I just felt so, I don't know what, listening to all these wicked tracks being placed out live in front of me by my favourite band by what will probably be the last time (I know that sounds a bit bent but you get the idea).  The time just flew by.  At the end there was a massive encore and after the last track, The Universal, Damon just stood there looking out at the crowd pumping his chest where his heart was and almost crying.  Unfortunately, it looked like he was saying goodbye to me (and no, I didn't cry, Z-Man asked me that).

I do not regret coming one bit.  I will never forget that concert. 

The end.


Friday, August 24, 2012

the Wales, part 2 and too much new tunes!

Phoof, I tell you what, it gets overwhelming, it really does.  The amount of good new stuff I hear, it's bloody hard to keep up with, let alone blog about!  I feel like when I was younger I really had a lot more time to listen to music than I do now.  Plus I also think there's way more music now (I won't go on about it, see some of my previous posts on that topic).  Anyway, point being, I could probably blog everyday, there's at least that much I hear and like.  Well, getting to it...

First off, my promised continuation of posts about Welsh artists.  Today I'm going to post about Cian Ciaran, who's in Super Furry Animals but is releasing a solo record called "Outside In".  SFA have been around for a while but I believe this is the first time Cian's releasing things solo.  He did a session on the radio, which is where I heard 'You & Me', a great song that reminds me of John Lennon and David Bowie

Right,  now that I've tackled that, onto the shedload of new stuff I've been liking over the last week or so.  I'll give minimal information, when I give any, cos you all know how to use the internet and can find more info yourselves.

Jake Bugg, straight out of Nottingham, and only a teen, which makes me incredibly jealous.  Not sure how good his other stuff is, but this song has really grown on me (actually, just heard 'Lightning Bolt' at his website and liked that too).  Sidenote -- I'm finding that I'm liking songs and artists more when I've only heard them on the radio, and have to imagine who they are, what they look like, etc.  Seeing them has been detracting from the mystery somewhat.  Alright, here's Taste It:

Next up, Bat for Lashes,  not a new artist, must have something new coming out but I don't know anything about that; I just know that I like this song, even though it's not what I'm usually into:

And lastly, outta Canada, it's a band with a really crap name: Purity Ring!  Didn't think too much of their other songs but this track is cool:

Purity Ring - Fineshrine from Young Replicant on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

the Wales, part 1 -- H. Hawkline

I'm hoping this will be the first in a series of posts from me highlighting Welsh music I've heard and liked recently.  There's definitely something about certain Welsh acts that ties them together -- a wistfulness, a taste for the psychedelic, and definitely a singing style -- when you listen closely you can tell when a singer is Welsh; not all the time, but a lot of the time.

My first taste of Welsh bands was in the 90s when I got into Manic Street Preachers, Super Furry Animals, Stereophonics, and, to a lesser extent, 60 Foot Dolls and Gorky's Zygotic Mynci.  The act I'm going to highlight today reminds me a bit of the Magnetic Fields, at least in his singing voice; there's also a similar hint of folk and psychedelia, and a similar accent, to Gorky's frontman (and current solo artist), Euros Childs.  I quite like this track, which I heard on the radio the other day, not only for it's sound but also for it's lyrics.  It's by H. Hawkline, and I believe he's a solo act:

I looked up the other tracks from this EP on t'web and was similarly charmed by them -- I wouldn't mind getting the vinyl but it's adding up to a bit too much after currency conversion and shipping.  If only I was in some indie record shop in the UK....

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Got it covered

There's been a couple of tracks that have recently popped up on the radio that I'd first heard only as covers.  It's a little embarrassing when that happens sometimes -- you hear a song, love it, and don't even realise it's a cover.  I'm not sure it matters but I can definitely see some purists berating anyone who loves a cover while thinking it's an original.

The ones that have come up recently for me have been 'Concrete Jungle' by the Wailers (and by the way, I'm assuming it's an original by them, but I don't know for certain) and 'Staring at the Rudeboys' by the Ruts.

The Wailers track is the one I'm more embarrassed about.  I first heard it in a version by Ceu, but then heard the Wailers' version on the radio last week and thought "of course it's a cover!".  There was always something about that track on the Brazilian artist's album, but I never thought to look into it.  I like both versions though, I think Ceu did enough to make hers her own.  You can check them both out below:

The Ruts track I first heard as a version by Gallows.  Unlike with Ceu, hearing the original has changed my thoughts about the Gallows version.  It's almost a straight cover (just some added aggression) and I don't think it even makes any contextual sense.  Yes, they added some rapping and a weird bit in the video that looks like a stand-off between black and white people.  But the Gallows track came out in the UK in 2007 and, as I recall, there weren't exactly any racial tensions that needed addressing -- at least not the black vs white kind.  Plus, I find it hard to take the short, shouty, ginger, Gallows singer very seriously -- he looks sooo angry, and he's got lots of tats (but everyone does now), and he screams a lot in the vid, but he'll never seem very hard to me.  The original is more appealing, especially when you consider that it came out in 1980 -- you can imagine how it addressed some of what was going on at the time -- race riots, the rise of the skinhead, but also the musical mashup that was happening between punk and music from the Caribbean.  The Ruts vid I'm putting up isn't complete, but I'm sure you can find your own, better, version, if you try hard enough.

Doing this has got me remembering one of the first times I heard a song and realised the version I'd been liking for so long was actually a cover, and a cover that didn't really change much about the original.  The song is 'That's When I Reach for My Revolver; by Moby, or so I thought for years!  Then I heard the original version by Mission of Burma and realised that Moby had changed nothing about it!  I'm sure it served a purpose for him though, as up til then I, and probably most people, had only known him to be an electronic artist.  The production on his version is a bit cleaner, the song a bit tighter, but if anything I think that makes it slightly worse than the original.

Obviously, this happens a lot.  There are good covers and terrible covers (oof, remember that horrible cover of 'Blue Monday' from a few years ago?  Shudder!).  If you've got some you'd like to highlight, feel free to stick them in the comments.