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.