Sunday, December 28, 2008

Random thought

If I'm still in gainful employment during the next year, I think I'd quite like to visit Alaska. Is that nuts?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

David Ford - Milk & Cookies 8, Manchester

There's something about this photo that I really, really like. Taken at the David Ford show on Thursday when he was done with soundcheck.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


This copyright warning appears on David Ford's new EP...

"Ignore those whiney little bastards who complain about illegal copying of music. Hell, since radio went to shit, how else do you get heard? So be my guest, copy and share this music."

Monday, December 8, 2008


SLR - Check
Lenses - Check
Contract with agency - Check

Now all I need is my first assignment. Yikes.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I'm not going to turn this blog into "What I did on my holidays" but this one did give me pause for thought, so I'm going to do it anyway.

On Antigua we came across a carnival - crowds paved the streets, there was a steel band steel bandifying various hits.

Crowds lined the streets, enjoying the music.

It was only when we reached the front of the procession that we realised that this celebration was not, in fact, a carnival of any kind - it was a funeral. That's the hearse being followed by the mourners on the last shot.

On closer auditory inspection, the hits they were playing were things like My Way and Yesterday. But the atmosphere was still very much of a celebration of a life rather than a sombre acknowledgement of death. Not many funerals over here will ever be mistaken for a carnival by a tourist...

Do not adjust your set

Monday, November 17, 2008

Without wishing to tempt fate

On the eve of my spending the next two weeks pretty much MOVING in some form or another, here's what happens when I go to the US.

I land.
I go to customs.
I wait.
I get escorted to the little room.
They realise that I'm not who they're looking for.
The security guy tells me that he's not *MEANT* to tell me, but that there's someone with the same name they're looking for. They tell me this every time. All of them.
I get to go into the US.

This is an enormous pain in the ass. Sometimes I meet one with an ounce of common sense who realises that being that I'm a different nationality, a different age, and have lots of US passport control stamps for the last decade, I might not be the man they're looking for. But the majority of the time I get the jobsworth dumbass who acts like he's just singlehandled captured Bin Laden and saved the universe. Or just likes to fuck with tired, midly sarcastic British tourists who know what's coming next.

I hate security theatre. I particularly hate security theatre at airports. Has anyone ever been saved by the 50ml liquid rule? I should confess now that I accidentally took 100ml (one hundred whole mililitres) of toothpaste on a flight to Ireland. I forgot to take it out, they didn't notice, and - who knew? - the world didn't end. On that same trip, however, they took my mother's hand cream. The woman is sixty five years old. It was hand cream. The world was not saved by this act. No terrorism was prevented.

Anyway, for those of you who might care, I shall be moving pretty much constantly for the next two weeks, to wit:

Tomorrow - Manchester > London
Wednesday - London > Miami
Thursday - Miami > Fort Lauderdale > Eleuthera
Friday - Eleuthera > the general direction of St Thomas
Saturday - the general direction of St Thomas
Sunday - St Thomas (Scuba Diving)
Monday - St Kitts (Sailing, Snorkeling)
Tuesday - Barbados (Swim with Turtles)
Wednesday - Dominica (River Tubing)
Thursday - Antigua (Sailing, Snorkeling)
Friday - General direction of Ft Lauderdale
Saturday - General direction of Ft Lauderdale
Sunday - Ft Lauderdale > Sawgrass Mills > Miami > London
Monday - London > Manchester

On Tuesday I think I might have a little sleep, then try and work out my average speed over the preceeding fortnight...

If you're good there'll be photos on my return. If you're bad, there'll be LOADS of them. I shall be entirely without interwebs, although the ship itself has a webcam you can watch here

See you in a fortnight, then... wish me luck with immigration!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Copyright infringement, The Bangles, and me...

A few weeks ago, I noticed that Daisy Rock guitars had decided to link to my video of The Bangles from the Cornbury Festival.

But imagine my surprise when on one of my irregular visits to Myspace (David Ford had just posted a blog - that's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it) I spotted that they had used some of my photos from Cornbury. Strange, as I seem to remember marking them "All Rights Reserved"

Going to their main website, I found that - yep - they'd use them there too.

Let's play "spot the different", kids...

Bangles site 1
Bangles site 2
Bangles site 3


My Flickr 1
My Flickr 2
My Flickr 3

I've fired a quick email off to their manager and webmaster. You know, just to see what their justification is!

Edit - fair play to them, they said they'd been sent to them by a fan (although I assume Getty images won't be as accepting of this explanation) and are happy to take them down. I've just asked them to attribute them properly and I'm happy for them to be left up.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why I Hate Dell Outlet

I seem always to be blogging about poor customer service, but there's so much of it about to go round!

Ordered a laptop last Friday from the Dell Outlet. So this is a machine that is built, it exists and just needs payment to be taken, the machine stuck in a box and shipped. This is not rocket science, especially for a big player like Dell.

Got a confirmation email, promising further order status updates.

Five days pass, no news.

Call Dell. Call centre. India. Now let me take a moment to say that I have previously argued against automatically tarring all Indian call centres with the same brush, but I'll be damned if this wasn't the worst customer service experience I've had in years. They told me I had no order and that I needed to re-order.

So I called the Outlet sales people who told me that I did have an order, but Dell's computers didn't talk to each other, so customer service in India couldn't see outlet orders. I'm pretty sure it isn't beyond the gift of a company that makes, y'know, computers, to have a joined up IT system. But apparently it is. Hey ho.

Anyway, Outlet assure me order is fine and that it'll be processed yesterday (Thursday) and I'll have an email to confirm this by 6pm.

6pm comes and goes.

So I call them again today. Same guy. Investigates, assures me that the order will be processed by 4pm today.

4pm comes and goes.

Even if it comes tomorrow (it won't, they haven't even debited my card yet), I won't buy another Dell machine as long as I live, because I'll always remember the poor customer service. What I don't understand is why THEY don't realise that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

From the 'very punny' department.

Following the problems in the sub-prime lending market in America and the run on Northern Rock in the UK, uncertainty has now hit Japan.
In the last 7 days Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches.
Yesterday, it was announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song while today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.
While Samurai Bank are soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank are reported to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black.
Furthermore, 500 staff at Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Valley Of Sound

From the "How did that pass me by" department...

Heather Nova has an album out. Next week. We are not scaremongering. This is really happening.

New Heather Nova Album

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I'm not sure you necessarily want Sarah Silverman on your side in an election...

The Great Schlep

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shure thing

Things I have learned this week:

Royal Mail's track & trace lies about whether things have been delivered.

Shure's customer service is superb. Called them last week about my frayed headphones. Posted Saturday, brand new boxed pair arrived today, upgraded to the newly released equivalent of my old pair.

Apple's bundled iPod earphones are the work of satan and all his horned minions and everyone involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Three days using them was three days too many.

Friday, September 19, 2008

From the "Oh do just fuck off" department.

This email just received:

Subject : "Madonna Sold Out? Get Tickets At StubHub!"

I hope your secondary ticket market gets regulated by government, and regulated hard. You deserve it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Front Fell Off!

I may be very late to the party on this bit of Australian humour, but it did make me laugh. Very Bird & Fortune.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pictures Of You

I've been offered a contract as a freelance photographer for one of the large London agencies. I should send more random emails on Sunday night. I'm going to meet with them while I'm down in London. They've also offered to help get me accrediation for shows... I think that might require an investment in equipment, somehow...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Careful what you wish for

On a whim last night, I sent some of my concert photos to some press agencies. This morning, one of them agreed to take my photos.

I didn't expect that...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Ah, P Diddy, man of the people. How *will* he cope without the private jet, poor kid?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sometimes songs are just right

While the Republicans do everything to be seen to be helping out in New Orleans, I'm reminded of Springsteen's take on things last time round. Never fails to send a shiver down my spine.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Driver 8, Take A Break

Michael Stipe, Cardiff CIA by Mike Gray

A return trip to Cardiff, including an overnight drive. 9 hours sleep in two nights. Two REM gigs. Worth it? Totally. Two very different shows, one indoor, full of rarities and a more traditional big stadium show, both delivered with energy to burn.

Manchester Photos

Cardiff Photos

Saturday, August 16, 2008

After the break, more Stereophonics!

"After the break, more Stereophonics!". Is there a sentence more likely to break the human spirit?

Frankly, so far 4Music's V Festival programming has been a load of wank at best. The right channel keeps cutting out when they go to live coverage, and because bands occasionally swear, they cover it over with crowd noise, which just sounds ridiculous.

It's hosted by wankers who use words like "fezzie" and "rizzle", and while Muse are, as I type, entertaining the masses, we've instead got a pointless piece with a couple of morons on a camp site showing us a bag to wee in. It's like a metaphor for the quality of their coverage.

Oh, it gets worse. The following has just scrolled across the screen. "Still to come... performances from Jamie T and the Pigeon Detectives".

Shit, and shit. What kind of name is the Pigeon Detectives for a band anyway? Tossers.

And why is it that festival crowds on television always look like a neon clad argument for mass sterilisation? I'm sure it's never that bad when I'm there in real life? Or maybe I just don't notice.

Update: Age has not withered the unremitting awfulness of "Stella" by Jamie T.

Update 2 : They're showing The Pogues. Shane MacGowan may possibly have visited a local hostelry. He appears somewhat refreshed, and news hasn't reached him about the legality of smoking in the workplace.

Friday, August 8, 2008

State of The Union

David Ford has started blogging. In an entirely unsurprising turn of events, they make great reading.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sometimes they just don't get it.

I just got emailed an invitation to pre-order the new Ben Folds record. Excellent news, I thought.

It wasn't.

Firstly, if I want all the available music, Mr Folds would like no less than $84.99 US of my money. Plus shipping. Plus customs charges. So, since we're friends, let's call that £50.

Mr Folds can, let us be blunt, go fuck himself. It's all very well to have an exclusive package available with whatever bits and pieces they like to add, but to make the bonus CD of new songs only available in the most expensive package in this day and age, is absolutely ludicrous. Don't want the DVD. Don't want the vinyl. Don't want the box. Don't need it signed. I. Just. Want. The. Music. - and to pay a fair price for it.

Doesn't matter. They won't ship to the UK anyway. So I'll download it.

Oh, and want pre-sale tickets? Buy it again, from iTunes. They've got their own bonus tracks too!

Hooray for this brave new dawn of music retail.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Extreme Ways

In lieu of a proper post, here's Moby performing Lou Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side", acoustic at the Ruby Lounge in Manchester last night.

And for extra comedy, here's Ring Of Fire. Yes, *THAT* Ring Of Fire.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

iPhone 3G Watch - Day Three

It's only bloody shipped.

One Down

Just back from another missed gig, thanks to my fantastic new car. Thank you, Volkswagen, thank you RAC and thank you, A1 for getting me home in just FIVE HOURS, quite a feat for a 20 mile distance.

On Friday, while awaiting the Bangles gig in Sheffield (I know, I know) the power steering went. This was theoretically fixed by the RAC on Saturday. Obviously it wasn't - and it went again while in Liverpool, having also wasted a half day holiday. I was the first person there, of course, would have been right at the front.

VW would like me to put a £150 deposit on the hire car (oh yes, I have that in my pocket, here you go) and I'm by no means confident that they're going to sort this out.

Happy? Not much.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Diary of a Madman.

Call O2 to ask what's going on with my order. "Oh, this is sales, you need to speak to customer services."

Call customer services.

"Oh no, you're a new contract, that's sales."

Call sales. Bit cross.

"We'll call the relevant department and call you back in 5 minutes".

Wait. Still cross. No answer.

Call sales. Quite cross.

"I'll call you back in 5 minutes."

- insert deafening silence -

Call sales. Speak to moron. 10 minutes on hold. "We don't have access to that system. Call customer services."

Call customer services.

"We're a bit behind, call tomorrow if you haven't heard anything."


Monday, July 7, 2008


Things I remember cleary about yesterday:

Being very tired. Waking up in a Travelodge. Rain.

Things I remember only vaguely yesterday:

Ordering 5 Rachael Sage albums, 2 Tristan Prettyman albums and the Fine Frenzy album.

My Mistake

Following on from my previous post about The Ted Baker Dress (tm), I finally ordered it today, having found it in their sale, only to find out I'd ordered it a size too small.

This is evidently a huge mistake. It looks like I'm insulting her (without meaning to) and as there are none of the next size up available anywhere in the country, it's this or nothing. Bugger.

How to go from nice gesture to fuck up in one easy step!

While we're on the subject of fuck ups, let's talk about O2 and the iPhone launch.

It's now been just five hours (!) since I started trying to order one. I finally managed to get an 8Gb unit, even thought I wanted a 16Gb - their systems got utterly screwed over by what was effectively a thorough DDOS attack. Ah well, I suppose it's cost me less, and I'll just not be retiring the iPod. Seeing as my N95 has committed suicide in protest, the sooner the better.

To add insult to injury O2 didn't just accept my application, but referred it for a credit check. A quick check of Experian shows my accounts to be exactly as I imagine them and perfectly in order. So we shall see what happens. If they don't want my custom, I guess it'll be a HTC Diamond and then an unlocked PAYG iPhone come December...

Honesty in advertising

This advert just seen on Facebook:

"Fat? You have parasites!"

Erm... okay...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sound of Silence

Back home from the Cornbury festival, having taken one look at the weather this morning and (I'm sad to say) decided not to brave the elements for the second day.

Thought yesterday was very good, by and large. An excellent opening set from the mighty Love Trousers (although many didn't get to see it, I imagine because the gates opened late) and managed to blag their double B-Side CD from Mr Ellen himself.

Half Man Half Biscuit were their usual selves, helped by the excellent sound ensuring their lyrics were audible. In fact, that was a recurring theme throughout the day - just how well things could be picked out in the sound mix.

The Bangles were better than I'd expected, and looking remarkably well preserved.

Toots & The Maytalls really got the crowd going - lots of call and response. Hadn't expected to enjoy it, but it was impossible not to be won over.

Beverly Knight was the one act I saw yesterday who didn't do it for me, especially following the energy of T&TM who must be at least 30 years her senior. I didn't think she really engaged the crowd, but I could be wrong.

Paul Simon - bit of a mixed bag. I know you can't have all the hits, but no Still Crazy, no Kodachrome, no Bridge Over Troubled Water? I guess the curfew might have had something to do with it, though. I was also a bit unsure about some of the arrangements, at points I thought he might be threatening to do a Dylan and really play fast and loose with melody and rhythm - seemed to disturb the crowd singalong for songs like Mrs Robinson. It was nice to see him again, but I've seen better performances.

Oh, and there's a few photos here, including several of the Love Trousers...

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Make It Go Away

This is disturbingly accurate. I hate George Lamb with every fibre of my being.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Right Side of Wrong

Well, despite my earlier condemnation of LiveNation as the kind of force for evil that might one day destroy the very fabric of the music industry, I'd like to take a moment to give credit where it's due.

Last Friday, in the pursuit of classic rock (what do you mean, embarassing hair metal?) we headed to the MEN Arena to see Whitesnake and Def Leppard, something that was meant to be a bit of light relief after a couple of weeks of our respective mothers being ill.

Unfortunately, all we saw all night was a speaker stack with a light on it, which the production had thoughtfully placed in our line of sight. MEN Customer services couldn't move us beause it was sold out, so with little expectation, I emailed LiveNation - as promoter.

I got a reply less than a day later, offering tickets of equal value to any of their future shows - much as I'm tempted to make it 5 shows out of 6 for the Kylie run at the Arena, I think I'd better look at something else.

While I'm giving plaudits for customer service, another 'above and beyond' for Ted Baker. Gemma had seen a dress in a magazine a few months ago, and I was considering buying it for her, but a ) Being male and b) Having slept since then, I couldn't describe it to you if my life depended on it. By telling her how much and when the article was published, we eventually deduced the correct item. Good work, Carrie in customer services!

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Wall

This full time result just in:
Gravity 1 Idiot 0

Monster Love

Is this review of the new Hulk movie the year's finest film review? I think it might be.

"Roth groin area ambiguous. Groin area look lumpy. Bumpy. Perhaps odd penis. Perhaps odd trousers. Critic ... not sure."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

She Bop

I am unreasonably excited at the idea that Cyndi Lauper is finally touring the UK. When did she visit last? 1996?

Bumble Bee

"A shocked reveller dressed as a bumble bee gave birth during a friend's hen party without previously knowing she was pregnant.

Ally Ashwell, from Newcastle, was partying in Blackpool when she realised something was wrong."

Where do we start with what was wrong?

- She was on a hen party in Blackpool
- She was dressed as a fucking bumble bee

Need I go on?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Geek Love

The 3G iPhone is disgustingly nice. Everything from the GPS to the App Store to the 3G. It means leaving T-Mobile after 10 years, and getting tied to O2 for 18 months, but actually the contract is £7 less than my current one per month, and the phone's going to cost me maybe £200 for the 16Gb. Can't really argue with that.

Out the same day I'm going to see Kylie. I think that might be a dictionary definition "good day" :)

I Predict A Riot

With crashing inevitability, I got a ticket to see Blondie at the Liverpool Pops this July. I hate the Liverpool Pops with a firey passion. Why? Because they insist on a huge gold circle, and sell premium packages for the good seats.

Every year, the same rigmorole. Tickets go on sale - you get offered bad seats - you wait until mid-June, they decide how many people they can rip off for the premium packages, then put a load of the good seats on sale at normal prices.

So likely I'll be sat on the front row (yes, I got a front row ticket for face value, no package) next to some muppet who paid upwards of £100 for the same view. When will this ridiculous package system stop?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Are You Ready?

Thea Gilmore last night - actually a bit of an odd and uneven set in terms of content. A couple of covers, at least one unreleased track, and a new band member called Fluff. Also a sparser audience than usual, and one with a couple of talkers. Bah.

Lighting was a bit awkward, but the audio on the two songs below is pretty great.

Set List:

Old Soul
Seen It All Before
Dance In New York
You Spin Me Round
God's Got Nothing On You (new)
Sisters Of Mercy (Leonard Cohen)
Saviours & All
If You Miss Me
Black Letter
Call Me Your Darling
This Girl Is Taking Best
Are You Read
December In New York
When I Get Back To Shore
The Lower Road

You Spin Me...

Are You Ready...

Friday, June 6, 2008


Myself and Ms Niftyshellsuit at work have long since hatched a plan to go halves and buy one of Cybercandy's out of date mystery parcels of strange confectionary in order to bewilder our colleagues and possibly earn ourselves a few days off work with candy poisoning.

So you'll imagine my surprise, when this lot turned up at my door this afternoon.

Going to have to put a few more quid in her leaving collection now!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Here comes the rain again

Today has just been a day of bad things happening. It all started with a phone call at around 9am - Mum fell and broke her ankle in the garden, necessitating the ambulance, paramedics, the whole nine yards.

When I got to the hospital, they refused point blank to tell me anything until I'd sat in Waiting Room 3 for an hour like a lemon. This was worsened by the fact that Jeremy FUCKING Kyle was on. I'd heard of him only by repute, but this is a man who makes George Lamb look like John Peel. I have never wanted to murder someone more. Never.

When they finally did deign to tell me what was going on, I got about twenty minutes before they announced that she was going to theatre. This would have been around 11am. As I type, she has just gone - it is 6pm.

During the afternoon they have
- Failed to figure out who she is
- Told me which ward she was on, only for the ward to deny all knowledge and have no beds
- Tried to take her to theatre in a bed that contravened regulations necessitating them having to run around headless, complaining that they couldn't find rails
- Told me not to visit because she was being moved, only to find she hadn't been moved at all

And so on, and so forth. It's been a shocking experience, to be honest. There's been no information, no helpfulness, and my mother by the time they took her up for the operation was scared to death.

I'm scared to death too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Monday, May 12, 2008

One BILLION Dollars

It struck me yesterday that LiveNation might actually be evil. Not just a little bit evil, but cartoonishly so - full on secret lair, cat on knee, twirly moustache, I expect you to die Mr Bond evil.

Once in a while, I quite like a stadium gig. I know many of you will argue that we're better off going to see a friend's band at the local Spork & Hedgehog for thruppence over a pint of Old Stoat, but let's imagine for a minute that you and yours quite fancy an evening out with 50,000 others.

I bought a Madonna ticket today for the first time in quite a few years. The experience made me cross.

For a long time 'the kids' thought of the record companies as the enemy - dropping our favourite artists, bilking us through our teenage years with singles on multiple strange formats and albums being re-released with extras. But they are mere amateurs compared to the new breed of concert promoters.

On the face of it, it appears that LiveNation and their ilk are here to save our favourite artists, freeing the likes of Madonna from the tyrany of huge cheques from major labels, but the reality is that they've seen the writing on the wall for pre-recorded music and decided to take advantage of the only thing you can't download - the feeling of being at a live show.

Take her Wembley Stadium show. At first glance, tickets go up to an already eye watering £160 (plus fees). Or do they? In reality, tickets actually go up to £468.83 for a seat with hospitality - for which I believe I could conceivably fly to New York and attend the Madison Square Garden show (albeit with the cheapest ticket). The message is clear. You want a good seat? Buy a bundle. The reality appears to be that that the 'best' tickets aren't in the pool any more. You or I are never going to click the magic button on Ticketmaster and find ourselves sat by the stage for one of these events, no matter how early you arrive or what pre-sale privileges you have. Because they're not there any more. They're in a bundle.

Even if you choose to stand, they've got you stitched up three ways. Of course there's the now ubiquitous golden circle (and it's not specified how big that is) for which you pay an extra ten pounds. But your dedication to the noble art of the gig queue will matter not in the least, because they will also gladly sell you a package (at £150 premium over the cost of the gold circle ticket including fees) to let you into the golden circle before all those other poor saps who dared not to pay extra.

Not only that, they've chosen to form an unholy alliance with organisations that provide the acceptable face of touting.

When I did a search earlier for a ticket type that came up empty, it simply redirected me to one of their 'secondary market' partners who seemed plentifully stocked. Interesting how that can be for a show that hasn't even gone on public sale yet and fan club members are limited to just 4 tickets...

There seems to be a misguided impression that promoters are the innocent victims of touts. The truth is the opposite. They could do a lot to stop the problem - from putting names or photographs on tickets, to the simple act of allowing box office returns or forcing box office collection for heavily touted shows, eliminating the armchair tout in Glasgow who is touting for a gig in London. Instead, they choose to use touting as a way to legitimise their own second and third bites of the cherry - throw their hands up in the air, decry touting, and then get on with the business of benefitting from it.

It's all very easy for promoters to look at well established artists, wave a cheque under their nose, steal them away from the majors, milk their fans and cream off a fat profit, all the while not giving a shit how well or poorly the record sells - that's not their problem as long as the venue's full.

My hope is that this cream-off-the-top attitude will come home to roost if they don't invest in talent on the ground floor. Maybe they do, I don't know. Just how much are they interested in the minor leagues? If this kind of contract destroys what's left of the majors, where do they think the huge artists they give these deals to will come from in the future?

Is it finally time for legislation? I've argued against it before, given that the solutions are there for this to be done by organisers (Glastonbury, anyone? Largest music event in the national calendar and close to non-existent touting?) - there's evidently a way, but I see no will.

The secondary market is bleeding into the primary market and the general public are being taken for suckers. The live music industry has proved time and again that they can't be trusted.

For god's sake don't buy these bundles. Those tickets then end up back in the public pool by default (I firmly believe this is what happened with my Genesis and Police tickets - amazing tickets near the front suddenly appearing a few days before the show, coinciding with bundles going off sale) and the person at the front is the lunatic who's been sleeping rough outside the venue for the last month. He's earned it.

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I can see my own blog (but then I'm on my own domain) yet the blogs of Sir Yankee of Ragu and Dr Deborah are both off limits to me as Google has decided I'm a robot not a human.

And it didn't even administer some kind of Turing test. Wacky.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Girls On Film

I noted a few months ago to someone that the history of early twenty first century music will likely be documented for the most part in video taken on mobile phone / digital cameras.

This theory seems to be borne out by today's experience. I went to upload footage of a new Gemma Hayes song (Oliver) to YouTube, only to find that two other people had already done so - from the same show. Now, keeping in mind that this was a show that had a capacity of 300 and wasn't full - let's say 200, and I know that Riccardo filmed it too given that he posted it on his blog, can we assume that 2% of the audience at a gig are filming any given song?

Anyway, I was undeterred (my audio and video quality are, I think, better than the others on YouTube) and uploaded so here it is anyway.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Do Some Old!

This is the set list for the new Kylie tour, X

Act 1: Xlectro Static
Can't Get You Out Of My Head (Greg Kurstin Remix) (with excerpts of "Boombox", an unreleased song from Body Language)
Ruffle My Feathers (an unreleased song from X)
In Your Eyes

Act 2: Cheer Squad
Heart Beat Rock
Shocked (DNA Mix) (with excerpts of "Lose Control", an unreleased song from X)

Act 3: Xposed
Like A Drug
Slow (with excerpts of "Free" from Impossible Princess)
The One
2 Hearts

Act 4: Black versus White
On A Night Like This
Step Back In Time
In My Arms
Love at First Sight

Act 5: Naughty Manga Girl
Sometime Samurai (Video Projection)
Come Into My World (Fischerspooner Mix)

Act 6: Starry Nights
Flower (an unreleased song from X)
I Believe in You (Ballad Version)

Act 7: Beach Party
Loveboat (from Light Years)
Copacabana (a cover of Barry Manilow's hit)
That's Why They Write Love Songs (an unreleased song written by Steve Anderson)
Spinning Around

No More Rain
All I See (Acoustic Version)

Does anyone look at this set list and nod sagely, saying "I can see exactly what they were thinking..." or do you look at it and say "This is going to cause a vast amount of displeasure to the one-gig-a-year brigade who normally attend this kind of big pop show."

On the one hand, playing a large chunk of unreleased material along with an equally large dollop of the new album at the expense of 'the hits' is a brave move, it's surely at huge risk of alienating a substantial section of the audience, spoiled by the all-the-hits-all-the-time nature of last year's Showgirl Homecoming.

Expect cries of "Do some old!" from the cheap seats...


Having ranted about not doing this stuff any more, I'm considering buying tickets to see Madonna at Wembley. Lunatic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Kind Of Magic

25 solid days. Seven percent of my year. That’s approximately how much time I spent last year in pursuit of live music – factoring in travel time, waiting time and festivals, all the while holding down full time employment. Sometimes the waiting is longer than the music - much, much longer. I wonder why I do it sometimes – what I’m chasing, what I’m looking for.

It began for me with an £8.50 ticket on a Saturday evening in December of 1994, three quarters of the way back in the venue formerly known as the Manchester University Debating Hall with the appearance of Queen's Roger Taylor and the opening bars of “A Kind Of Magic”. I’m there with my high school art teacher and my best friend, but the minute the music starts, there’s nobody else in the room. My inhibitions vanish, and the spell of live music is cast upon me. There, right there, is one of my idols, performing a song that I’d heard a thousand times. By the end of the night, I was deranged, uplifted, shirtless and convinced that this was the best feeling in the world.

Like the junkie trying to match that first, unassailable high, I’ve travelled the length and breadth of the country. I’ve seen an acoustic performance in Central Park, a singer-songwriter in San Francisco’s Castro district, a back-after-ten-years performance on a barge. I’ve stood for hours in the freezing cold, waded through the Glastonbury mud to feel the metal of the barrier, to be first there. Right there.

I’ve interviewed Garbage in a hotel; told waiting journalists that Brett Anderson was sick only to have him flounce in right as rain pronouncing himself bored half way through the interview with his bandmates, wrangled with PRs for interviews that I knew before I arranged them would never get to print just to be close to my favourites.

I’ve been crowd surfed over, concussed, sworn at, called a music nazi and had an eyeliner stained towel thrown over me by Michael Stipe. I thought I would die in a mosh pit at Glastonbury with Feeder’s “Buck Rogers” the last thing I’d hear. I’ve cried in public at Manchester Apollo.

I organised a two-night, sold out benefit show. I didn't go to a convention in Canada that I'd organised due to complications involving two Dutch girls and a woman from London with a samurai sword.

I've got a Nick Cave tea towel, a Catatonia mug and an REM tea tray. One day I'm going to have to alphabetise three and a half thousand CDs.

I once wrote an advertising slogan for Celine Dion. I saw Ryan Adams be rude to a bloke in a lift. I’ve been to Wolverhampton. More than once. A singer’s manager took me out in Los Angeles. More than one singer-songwriter has bought me dinner.

I stopped the presses on the red-tops one memorable Sunday morning.

But I’m wondering if it isn’t time to give it up. I’m never going to actually get to write about this stuff for a living, or even photograph it. Should I be more selective about who I go and see? Less? Fight that feeling of ‘I could be missing THE ONE’? Did you shake it? How? Is it time to finally grow up? What drives some of us to this music related madness?

Hanging Around

Despite being quite comprehensively beaten to the punch, here's a couple of photos from Gemma Hayes on Friday night at Manchester Academy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What's Spanish for "You robbing bastards"?

Wow, that photo looks familiar. I've emailed their managing director. Let's see what happens.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?

Well, will you?

While you ponder that, here's Helen Boulding from last night...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Indelicates live at Manchester Ruby Lounge

Delighted that The Indelicates were just as good live as on record - an excellent show tonight, comprising most of the new album. Hope to see them venture North again soon.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

KT Tunstall - Preston

Another good set from KT last night - I've lost count of the number of her shows I've seen now. I do feel that some of the spontaneity has gone - or at least, the evolution - it used to be that every time I saw her (even at short intervals) the arrangements of the songs had developed, which seems to be less the case now, with little changing since the shows I saw last autumn.

Having said that, it was an excellent set, good value for money, and her banter has taken a turn for the demented which certainly kept people entertained. Not the best audience, and not the best venue - Preston Guid Hall is not really designed for standing shows and has terrible sight lines if you're at the back or in some of the seats.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Half Century

Yes, I count the comedy shows. I believe this makes 50 for 2008... and it's only April. With 11 gigs, April is the joint busiest gigging month I've ever had, equalled only by February 2005 - but one of those shows was an in-store, and these are all full shows.

January 31st - Stars, Manchester Academy 3

February 4th - Laura Veirs, Night & Day
February 14th - Sheryl Crow, Scala
February 15th - Smashing Pumpkins, MEN Arena
February 23rd- Tegan & Sara, Leeds Met
February 26th - Kate walsh, The Lowry

March 1st - Tegan & Sara, Manchester Academy 2
March 8th - Laura Marling, Manchester Academy 2
March 16th - Lucy Porter, The Lowry
March 19th - Kathryn Williams, Bury Met
March 21st - Spamalot, London
March 24th - Long Blondes, Faversham, Leeds

April 6th - Sorry I Haven't A Clue, The Lowry
April 8th - Long Blondes, Manchester Academy 2
April 9th - Portishead, Manchester Apollo
April 11th - Bjork, Apollo
April 12th - James, Liverpool Academy
April 13th - Portishead, Wolverhampton Civic
April 15th - KT Tunstall, Preston Guild Hall
April 17th - Indelicates, Ruby Lounge, Manchester
April 20th - Helen Boulding, Sheffield Boardwalk
April 22nd - Hotel Cafe Tour, Manchester Club Academy
April 30th - Adele, The Lowry

May 2nd - Gemma Hayes, Manchester Academy
May 22nd - Feist, Palace Theatre
May 25th - Martha Wainwright, Bridgewater Hall
May 26th - Paul Merton, The Lowry
May 28th - Bruce Springsteen, Old Trafford
May 29th - Avril Lavigne, MEN Arena
May 30th - Feeder, Manchester Academy 3

June 4th - Bat For Lashes, Liverpool Academy
June 7th - Thea Gilmore, Manchester Club Academy
June 10th - Robyn, Manchester Academy
June 15th - KT Tunstall, Delamere Forest
June 17th - The Police, Manchester Evening News Arena
June 20th - Def Leppard, MEN Arena
June 21st - Crowded House, Westonbirt
June 23rd - Goldfrapp, Bridgewater Hall

July 4th - Bangles, Sheffield Academy
July 5th-6th - Cornbury Festival, Oxfordshire
July 9th - Ben Folds, Liverpool Academy
July 11th - Kylie, MEN Arena
July 14th - Kylie, MEN Arena
July 17th - Kylie, MEN Arena
July 29th - kd lang, Bridgewater Hall

August 17th - V Festival, Staffordshire
August 24th - REM, LCCC
August 25th - REM, Cardiff

October 12th - Glen Tilbrook, Manchester Club Academy

December 19th - James, Manchester Central

Any votes for "Need to stay in more"?

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Another good set from Portishead tonight at Wolverhampton, marred slightly by drunken morons who pushed to the front shortly before the start of the set, and then proceeded to talk until the crowd told them to shut up. Last seen in the entrace to the women's toilets crying at the end of the show. Ho hum.

Set list exactly the same as Manchester (I must have imagined 'Only You' because they didn't play it tonight) but the 'wow' factor hadn't disappeared with a repeat viewing.

Portishead live in Wolverhampton, April 13th 2008
Portishead live in Wolverhampton, April 13th 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Come Home

So tonight was the third time I've seen James play live (four if you count a 3 song promo appearance for a Birmingham radio station, but I don't - so it's three). I'd previously seen James perform two very different sets, the first a peversely hit-free festival set and the second a deliberately fan friendly homecoming gig to celebrate their reunion.

Tonight's Liverpool Academy show struck the correct balance between the new album, of which they played the majority, and doing some old for the faithful which went down a treat. Tim Booth still dances like his limbs are independent of his body and a good time was had by all. Despite missing the likes of Laid and Sit Down there was plenty to keep everyone happy over the course of a two hour set. Oh, and they were introduced by someone quite famous... see the photos below.

In contrast to Bjork, seeing James tonight certainly made my mind up, and I'll be booking to see them again in December with Athlete as soon as I can.

Peter Kay introduces James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08
James live at Liverpool Academy April 08

Friday, April 11, 2008

Declare Independence

It's not been a good week for support acts. Tonight's was a DJ who basically seemed to be playing ambient effects more than anything else, before changing horses mid-stream and giving the audience some Bowie (Fashion) and Rockstar (N*E*R*D). Either way it was a waste of 45 minutes from my perspective. I never caught her name. Don't care to find out.

As I alluded to yesterday, I've never been quite sure about Bjork. She's someone who I know that I should like, but never quite find myself reaching for the records. My usual process with this is to just get on with it and go to a gig where I'm forced to listen to the artist and make my mind up once and for all. Sometimes it converts me completely (see Ben Folds), other times less so (Amy MacDonald)

Her show tonight was something of a mixed bag, musically. No real complaints about the set list - lots of the new album, but plenty of the older material - Hunter, Army Of Me, Pagan Poetry and quite a few others, but it sagged a little in the middle with some of the newer material and the associate skittering beats and electronic noodling.

The one thing I can say unreservedly is that she knows how to put on a show - from the opening burst of fire for Earth Intruders, to the laser show, flags, projections, costumes, a spider web type contraption that she threw out into the audience during Hunter and the epic glitter strewn finale of Declare Independence it was impossible to take your eyes off the stage. By the end the crowd had lost their collective minds and the gig had turned into a massive beat driven rave with all hands in the air and Bjork leading a call and response of "Raise Your Flag / Higher Higher" conducted amid a seemingly endless flurry of glitter.

Strangely, I still don't know what I think about her. She's a great show-woman but I still don't particularly want to listen to the records!

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Firstly, I'm sorry to say this, but A Hawk And A Hacksaw are among the worst support acts I've ever stood through. The crowd were more than respectful to them, but it wasn't the best 45 minutes I've ever wasted at 'the barrier'.

But that's beside the point. It's been nigh on 11 years since I last saw Portishead live, so last night at the Apollo was pretty special. It's amazing how little has changed - Beth hasn't changed a bit, Adrian seems to have gained a bit of weight but that's about it.

It was a great performance, if a little brief, and I've never heard the sound so good there. Nice to hear all the old stuff (who knew I'd be so glad to hear 'Cowboys' which I previously thought of as something of an act of sonic terrorism) and it was a nice new arrangement of Wandering Star - the rest of the evening was pretty much as on record. The new stuff is growing on me - slowly, but the crowd gave Machine Gun a good reaction. When "Mysterons" started, it's fair to say they went nuts.

Beth's an amazing vocalist but not the most charismatic frontwoman, and her stage fright still shows. She seemed incapable of anything more than apologies for her silence between songs. The lighting was subdued, and she never ventured more than a third of the way to the front of the stage. Good projections - very good use of the single handheld camera at the front of the stage.

I'll be glad to see them again on Sunday in Wolverhampton - I'll be over the "Bloody hell, that's Portishead!" factor and watch the show a little more objectively, maybe.

Set list:
The Rip
Glory Box
Magic Door
Wandering Star
Machine Gun
Sour Times
Only You
Nylon Smile
-- Encore Break --
We Carry On

Bjork tomorrow, also at the Apollo. A bit of trepidation about this one - I've always felt I should like her more than I actually do, but have never previously had the chance to see her live. I'm hoping she does some of the older stuff (Army Of Me et al) but I'll take it as it comes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

Back to the angry, then. Why must every single album I buy these days have an "iTunes exclusive" version with a couple of extra tracks?

Long Blondes - 2 extra tracks
REM - live tracks
James - track by track commentary

Stop it. Now. Thank you.


I devote an unnecessarily large amount of this blog to complaining, so it's somewhat surprising to say that I found my fellow gig goer today to be a complete delight.

Early this morning I picked up a wristband for the James in-store session at HMV in Manchester, and was told not to be late, as they'd be "on stage at 12:30".

Suffice it to say that we were still stood outside in the freezing cold at 12:55 and my hopes of seeing the set, much less getting the album signed in my lunch hour were pretty much nil. When we finally did get down to the room where the set was to take place, it was after one, and I decided to give up.

Step forward the couple in front of me in the queue (her at least six months pregnant) - "We'll get your album signed for you, it's no problem."

And come three o'clock, I met them in the Coffee Republic near work, and they passed me a fully signed copy of the album, complete with the comments "missed you" and "here now" from the band.

Signed James album

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


So, the new B-52's track on the Word CD is pretty good, and I've lined up a signed copy of the album from Newbury Comics, so when the news reached me that they were playing Manchester Academy, I thought I might pop along. Until I saw the price tag, that is - £26 + fees.

I will be very surprised indeed if they manage to sell it out.

Conversely, Feeder are playing and it's £15. Both of those gigs for me would be marginal as to whether I'd bother going. At £15, I'll take a punt. Once you're over the £25 barrier, I'm out.

It feels like gigs are getting more and more expensive at all levels, and not for any fundamentally good reason. I suspect (and might well be wrong) that the upshot will be more and more two-thirds full mid size gigs... did the music industry not get the memo that a recession is on the cards?

Top Of The Pops

I quite fancied seeing Blondie/The Stranglers at Liverpool Pops this summer, but the promoter has deemed everything up to Row X (!) on the floor to be gold circle, and has also decided not to sell any of the front 'few' rows (I never saw anything further forward than Row T!) at anything less than £180 along with drinks and a buffet.

Here's an idea. If it's not close enough that I can make out the artist clearly or indeed from Row X, be certain that it's the artist I've paid to see on stage, it's not really sensible to classify it as "Gold Circle".

So fuck it. I won't be seeing Paul Simon at the summer pops. I won't be seeing Blondie. I won't be seeing Crowded House, and I'll keep my £150. All of them have this same idiot ticketing structure. I hope they're left with a load of unsold seats and the bands play to an empty front half of the venue. Or best case, the bands will be playing to people who've availed themselves of the free bar to make their money back and have more money than sense and more alcohol in them than interest in the band. Good luck to them.

The Liverpool Pops has always been a shambles, from over zealous security (New Order) to hospitality idiots ruining it for everyone by talking (and indeed taking drugs openly) (Pet Shop Boys) and their ticketing has always been ludicrously tiered, but they used to at least sell a few of the front rows to the people who want to the band. Apparently no more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


It turns out that Liz Phair's career is not dead after all, despite the low sales of Somebody's Miracle. A re-issue of Exile In Guyville is in the pipelines and a new album in autumn. Billboard article

I'm not sure how much market there is for a Guyville re-issue, especially one with just 4 bonus tracks considering the wealth of unreleased material (the Girlysound tapes really need a proper remastering job and official issue much as Lisa Loeb did with Purple Tape earlier this year) - so it feels like a bit of an opportunity missed, but I'd be surprised if I don't find myself with a copy come June...

Monday, March 31, 2008

Beware the ides of April

Next week I seem to have agreed to see I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, The Long Blondes, Portishead (twice), James and Bjork. And still do a full week's work.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sour Times

Here's the HMV online blurb for the new Portishead single. Can you spot the deliberate mistake? Hint, it's the bit about them having broken up.

"In the mid-1990s, the dreamy-but-grooving sound of trip-hop was confined to the U.K. underground until Portishead brought it to the worldwide mainstream. Combining electronics, lush production, Ennio Morricone-like guitar breaks, and angelic singing from frontwoman Beth Gibbons, the band became a leader of the trip-hop movement. Portishead split after its second album, and Gibbons eventually went the solo route with her critically lauded 2002 album OUT OF SEASON."

Incidentally, is it me, or is the new album a bit of a let down?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

White Diamond

Where's Mike?

I've finally watched the Kylie "White Diamond" documentary and had forgotten that I can be seen three or four times. I'm never going to a filmed gig again.

The ultra observant may also have seen my cameo in the Earl's Court broadcast of the original Showgirl show. Still better than Gemma's appearance in the KT Tunstall Glastonbury video that showed up on one of her DVD singles.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Seetickets, these are my two friends - Logic and Common Sense. I don't believe you've met.

I have just had an email from our Nottingham based friends at Seetickets asking me to return a ticket for a cancelled event in order that they might process my refund. They've also suggested I use a secure service.

Anyone spot the flaw in their logic yet? I think they will when they get my reply...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Great Outdoors

So I'm going to V Festival. Well, one day of it to be precise. Interestingly, it's almost exactly the kind of line-up I'd expected from Glastonbury. Given that I'll get to (with any luck) see Alanis, Duffy, Muse and Amy Macdonald, that pretty much accounts for the ticket price.

But answer me this - why the hell are The Verve (who had the sum total of three songs that anyone can hum - and one of those was by the Rolling Stones) headlining at least three major festivals this year? It could only be worse if it was Maroon bloody Five.

Monday, March 3, 2008


So, in November I'm off on holiday to Miami, St. Thomas, St. Kitts, Barbados, Dominica and Antigua over the course of a couple of weeks. Finally going to get the chance to try scuba diving and hopefully get away from it all completely. It's going to be a long eight months.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Secrets and Lies

I'm considering taking a more anarchic approach to the internet in general, and particularly Web 2.0. Surely this is something we can have more fun with. We don't have to tell the truth in our Facebook status, and better yet, you can really mess with people who you don't actually see very often in real life. So if you say "... is going to Brazil for three months" ..."is in a Helicopter" they have no reason to doubt you...

Similarly, for those who you DO see a lot, particularly work colleagues, I'd go for something like changing your status late at night to "... is in Bournemouth" if you work in Manchester then turning up on time the following morning and remarking on just how tired you are. Just to see if anyone asks.

And why should we tag our Flickr photos truthfully for the indexing? Let's tag everything as "Fluffy Kitten" (that goes for ALT tags on web pages - I know it's not really cricket for people with screen readers, but they'll end up thinking the internet's a nicer place than it actually is, so everyone wins, no?) or just tag them as something at random. Conversely, all pictures of your cat should be tagged with historical figures. It'll give someone using Google Images something to think about when they search for picture of Brezhnev and get a picture of your cat.

I'll get us started, shall I?

Josef Stalin

I think I really ought to go to bed now, no?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Keep On Your Mean Side

I'm considering going to see The Kills. Anyone got any thoughts for or against on that one?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith

While we have long established that there will be a time when eight hours in a car and a bedtime that coincides with dawn stops being a sane thing to do for live music, it apparently hasn't happened yet, as we journey down to the Scala for Sheryl Crow's 'intimate' gig there on Valentine's Day.

(Five hours in the blistering cold - who said romance is dead?)

We were the first to commence queueing at about half two, and Sheryl showed up a few hours later and was gracious enough to sign autographs, although wasn't interested in having photos taken (not with her hair looking like that, darling). She seems unusually concerned about the secondary market in Sheryl Crow autographs, something that I wasn't aware was overly profitable - she made damn sure that everything she signed was signed TO someone to prevent it's re-sale. Odd, but there you have. Or more accurately, here you have it:

The show itself was fantastic - a far better set than I've ever seen her do before, even though a lot of it was material from her new album, which on first listen I wasn't immediately attracted to - the politics are too obvious and too heavy handed - one track in particular is a couple of hand claps away from a "can I get a hallelujah?". No, Sheryl, you can't.

But that's a minor complaint. She seemed happy to be there, smiled her way through the gig, trotted out a few of the hits (and got the words wrong to Soak Up The Sun - fair enough, they were mostly nonsense anyway.

For once, she was OK with cameras, having previously been dead against. There seems to be have been some kind of mindset change for her on the issue, as she now even has a section on her website to upload fan taken gig photos. It did make it all the worse that my G9 was in for repair, and I was left making do with a £40 emerency compact I'd picked up from Tesco before Christmas. The good news is that even thus handicapped, I got some good results:

More at for those interested.

Set list:
God Bless this mess (Detours)
Shine over Babylon (Detours)
Love is free (Detours)
Leaving Las Vegas (TNMC)
Cant Cry anymore (TNMC)
Diamond Ring (Detours)
Now That youre gone (Detours)
Favourite Mistake
Gasoline (Detours)
Detours (Detours)
Drunk with the thought of you (detours)
Strong enough (TNMC)
Out of our heads (Detours)
If it makes you happy (SC)
Winding road (SC)
-- Encore --
Doctor my eyes (Jackson Browne)
Soak up the sun (Cmon Cmon)
All I wanna do (TNMC)

Interesting approach in coming on at 9pm with no support. The problem with a lot of smaller venues is that they don't put the main act on until half nine and then you stand through two supports, who are almost uniformly terrible, leaving you exhausted before it starts.

This has obviously become the expected thing, though - it caught out quite a few people at last night's lukewarm Smashing Pumpkins gig at the MEN Arena. They came on around 8:25 and played until the end of time (or did it just feel that way?) meaning that people who turned up at 9:00 had already missed the likes of Tonight, Tonight and whatever the nine minute noodly prog thing they opened with was. The people next to me showed up at around 9:15 having missed a solid third of the set.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Print it out, take it to a gig. Shout "Bingo!" if you complete a run.

Stolen shamelessly from Paul Schreiber with a few additions.

• musician asks how crowd is doing
• musician thanks audience for coming
• musician asks audiences to name song, album or band
• musician tosses guitar picks or drumsticks into crowd
• musician toasts (with) audience
• musician tells audience to put their hands up/together/in the air
• mid-set stools out acoustic bit

• musician plugs merchandise
• musician plugs mailing list
• musician plugs web site
• musician plugs myspace

• musician mentions name of city
• musician mentions name of city, but gets it wrong
• musician mispronounces name of city
• musician uses wrong nickname for city ("frisco")
• musician asks if anyone is from _other city_
• musician says city is better than _other city_
• musician talks about previous visit to city
• and asks if anyone was there last time...
• details their day in _your city here_ and the crazy things they saw

the bar
• musician mentions name of bar
• musician mentions name of bar, but gets it wrong
• musician thanks sound guy
• musician thanks lighting guy
• musician thanks bartender

other bands
• musician says "I was here for the sound check and it sounded good"
• headliner mentions opener
• opener mentions headliner
• ...repeatedly
• musician mispronouces other performer’s name

the band
• band members have first names only
• musician forgets name of band member
• musician is too important to introduce the band at all

Let Me Out

Continuing my rant on the gig going process.

Springsteen at the MEN Arena is my worst in recent memory. I work close to the venue so thought I'd pop in on my way to work. When I arrived at the box office I couldn't quite believe what I saw - The Boss's demographic had radically changed. Clearly he'd had a massive Radio 1 smash that I'd been unaware of and here was a queue of pre-teens. But no, they were being herded by a latter-day Fagin in order to get round the 4 ticket limit. The security guards were ignoring this despite the bile rising in the queue's post pubescent members.

So on to work and the internet. I eventually got some decent tickets via Ticketline. Good for me. Except, a couple of weeks later, they moved the stage back to allow more people in - moving my tickets back and meaning I didn't see the man himself all evening. Oh, and then the promoter released the whole of the front stalls on the afternoon of the show - not a couple of unneeded guest list tickets, or returns, but whole blocks. Thanks, Harvey.

I also think it's slightly naive to picture the touts outside the venue as not being that bad. I hope each and every one of them gets audited inside and out by the tax man. Just try selling a ticket to a fellow queue member without allowing them a cut of the deal and you'll soon see their ugly side. A pox on them all.

Hospitality packages. Jesus wept. These drive me nuts. They essentially mean that people with more money than sense pay £150 for some wine and sandwiches pre-gig, and if you're particular unlucky, an open bar. My experience of Genesis was not ruined by simply being at a Genesis gig, but by being sat behind a group of these hospitality abusing monkeys who got utterly pissed and spent the entire time going back and forth to the bar. Enough.

And why can't I buy tickets direct from a venue any more? Booking fees are usually less, for starters, and sometimes they even have an understanding of the building. Last week, Seetickets managed to sell me tickets for Goldfrapp which physically didn't exist in the venue and swore up and down that they did when I called them. A few days later, I got an email admitting their mistake.

I assume this is just a continuation of the Carlingisation of music where every venue is reduced to Beername YourTown Venuename format. No, I don't want a White Room card. Sod off.

Remind me again, why do I keep doing this to myself?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Let Me In

At some point tomorrow, I will receive an announcement regarding the REM tour to take place at some unspecified point in the future, for which I will (as a fan club member) receive a pre-sale on Tuesday.

Which brings me to my rant.

I remember a time when I sent a cheque off to a PO Box, having seen a gig I wanted to go to advertised in a Sunday newspaper. Some weeks later, a ticket would arrive, and that would be that. Gigs didn't sell out in 30 seconds, touts in Scotland didn't sell tickets for gigs in London, and there was no such things as a 'golden circle'.

The ticket buying process seems to be changing for the worse month by month. At one point, internet ticket buying went a bit like this - at 9am on Friday morning, you choose your ticket reseller, and you go and buy tickets, then bitch to your friends about the booking fees.

Now, it looks more like this

  • Find out on the grapevine that an artist may be touring

  • Sign up to their mailing list, forum, facebook group, knitting circle and book group

  • Join the fan club

  • At some point, you will (if you are lucky) get wind that there will be a pre-sale

  • Or two pre-sales

  • Or three

  • So then you have to decide whether you'd like to take part in the mailing list pre-sale, the fan club pre-sale, the venue pre-sale, or the pre-pre-sale for the people who will give ticketmaster the most money

  • At the alotted time, you arrive to find that either a) they have no good tickets b) the site has crashed or c) you actually get some tickets

  • Of course, the ticket buying process is worsened by the tiers of tickets. Hello, golden circle, I'm looking at you. Just last week, I was offered tickets in Row T for a gig, that were claimed to be 'golden circle'.
  • I put it to you that the twentieth row is not a privileged view.

  • Can someone identify to me when it became acceptable to gouge people going to shows in enormous venues for extra money to guarantee being in the front third of a football pitch? It's not like Bon Jovi aren't making enough money.

  • And and of course, the different ticket merchants get different allocations depending on how chummy they are with the venue / promoter / artist - so should you go to Ticketmaster? Seetickets? Ticketline? Stargreen? Ticketweb? Or just give up and go read a book.

I'll let you know if I get any REM tickets.

Anyone who knows why it costs Ticketmaster more money to put a £50 ticket in an envelope than a £10 one, do feel free to get in touch.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Saying Nothing

About once a week, iTunes opens up and throws an error complaining that it's can't save the playlist because "an unknown error has occurred". This seems to cause it no problems at all, and all I can do is dismiss the error. So why display it?

It's nowhere near as good as the standard BIOS "No keyboard found, press F5 to continue" which is still a triumph of logic second to none.

Friday, February 8, 2008


So this year's Glastonbury headliners are Jay-Z, The Verve and Kings of Leon. I can exclusively confirm that if they can't be arsed booking decent headliners, then I can't be arsed going.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fun Is For The Feeble Minded

Copies of the Laura Marling songbox in my possession : 0


On the plus side, I've found out that I can finally go and see The Indelicates (who deserve a look despite their self consciously quirky song titles) in April. I can't imagine them ever having enormous/any commercial success but I really like their writing, even if a little too much of it is about the nature of fame and the media. Their relationship songs are fascinating, though - very acerbic and some flashes of genius, and a few interesting references to spot - how many pop songs reference Mrs Rochester? Still, 10 points for calling a song "Waiting for Pete Doherty to die" I suppose. While I'm critcising them, their tendency towards 'shocking' first lines is a little tiresome - Stars for example - despite the fact that the song that follows is great.

If you want to give them a chance, I suggest
Fun Is For The Feeble Minded

While I'm always glad to see them get exposure, Tegan & Sara's session on The Hub on 6music later in the month will be hosted by George Lamb. Who is, let us not forget, an utter prick.

Anyone who knows what's going on with Sheryl Crow's tour dates in June (on sale tomorrow) do feel free to fill me in. I thought it was traditional to give minor details like where they are, when they are, and how much it might cost. I'm naive. aren't I?

THE INDELICATES - "Julia, We Don't Live in the 60s" Video

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

June Bug

So, Juno, then. The movie - not the city in Alaska or the Canadian Grammies.

I've just re-watched it in an attempt to make sure I wasn't deluding myself when I saw it first on Saturday night and thought it to be quite the best written thing I've seen in a year - I wasn't. It gets a non-preview release on Friday - go and support it, it deserves it.

It's funny, smart, snappy, and leaves you wanting more, the soundtrack is perfect and Ellen Page remains the finest young actress working today (see Hard Candy for further proof, if you can handle the castration theme) and sports a fantastic soundtrack. Bonus points for the inclusion of Doll Parts by Hole, although that doesn't feature on the soundtrack CD. I feared it might be a disappointment on the lines of Little Miss Sunshine or Napoleon Dynamite. It's not.

I've seen a couple of people argue that the main character is too smart to have wound up pregnant in the first place. Hint: it's a plot device that makes the rest of the film work. I imagine the same people watched Transformers and argued about the placement of the hinges on the robots.

If I've got to find fault, the third act felt a bit rushed, and her relationship with the potential adoptive father was a little odd - to the point that at one point I thought they were going to go down the road of making them have an affair, which would have been deeply inappropriate.

Aside - my Laura Marling box set still hasn't turned up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Everybody's Doing It, So Why Can't We?

OK, OK, I'll give this blogging thing a go. I need to practice CSS, HTML etc... for work and I generally have opinions that nobody wants to hear, so this seems ideal.

Dave Gorman documentary tonight about 95% less funny and indeed less insightful than anything else he's produced to date. Considering just how much he could have covered in an hour and a half about the changing nature of America, globalisation, chain stores, the decline of the mom & pop etc... there didn't seem to be very much insight - or indeed very much substance at all, unless you count "Oh shit, this obviously crap car we bought off some bloke has broken down again! I never saw that coming!"

I imagine the book will be better, but curiously, that's not out until April.