With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Reel Big Fish – Liverpool O2 Academy – Wednesday 21st October 2015 October 23, 2015


This was my third visit to the O2 Academy in Liverpool in just over a week and there hasn’t been a poor night yet! Not that I want one mind you. Anyway tonight was going to be the first time that I had seen Reel Big Fish for around ten years. But before we move on to them there is the little matter of the support bands to deal with. First up were the rather fabulous local (well they are from the Wirral) purveyors of a really original British style of ska with a fun punk attitude, which echoes the Jamaican roots of the style with a nod towards the late seventies UK revival of this wonderful form of reggae. Ladies and gentlemen I give you Broken 3 Ways. If they are playing anywhere near you then believe me I will be very, very disappointed indeed if I hear that you didn’t go and see them.

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Next up were the California-based ska pop punk band Suburban Legends. Are they suburban? I don’t know. Are they legends? Well I reckon then can become so! They played some great covers of, would you believe it, Disney songs. This sort of thing shouldn’t really work, but it does with this band. The fact that they can carry off ska punk style versions of “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” and “Under The Sea” with such aplomb is the mark of a great band in my opinion. They supplemented Disney with a few originals and a rousing version of Neil Diamond‘s “Sweet Caroline“. Could this night get any better?

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Actually it could get better and it did. Is it even possible to not enjoy a Reel Big Fish gig? I don’t believe that it is. This was a phenomenal set by a band that remains at the peak of their power after more than twenty years of success. From set opener “Everyone Else Is An Asshole” to the superb cover of A-Ha‘s “Take On Me” at the end of the encore the quality and the pace never dropped. they played around with some potential and fun covers; “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Don’t Stop Believing” respectively. But perhaps the best cover of the night was a stonking work out of the ska classic “Monkey Man”, Toots Hibbert would be proud of that one! This band has so many great songs and they played a stack of them tonight; “Your Girlfriend Sucks”, “The Kids Don’t Like It”, “She Has A Girlfriend Now”, “Don’t Start A Band” and “Your Girlfriend Sucks” were some of my favourites from this set. I will not be waiting for ten years before I see them again. Go and see them yourselves right now. That’s an order!

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Apollo Festival York 2015 – Saturday 27th June 2015 July 2, 2015


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Sadly I missed the first Apollo Festival back in 2013 and then last year I had to leave early so I missed the headliner. However this year I was there for the day and what a bloody good day it was! With something like 50 acts across 5 stages I was never going to be able to see everyone but I did see a fair few acts. I was there with my wonderful wife Catherine ak.a. Catwoman and our great friends John and Caron who brought their daughter and our Odd Daughter (that’s another story) Amelia with them. Amelia proved beyond doubt that she is indeed a 5-year-old dancing dynamo of perpetual motion. Anyway enough of us, who did I see?

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First up it was 4 Pint Milk in the Rick Witter tent. They are from Huntington School and seemed all of 16 (apologies if you’re older than that lads!). But they rock like they’re much older. The part of their set that John and I saw was cover versions, but damned good cover versions. Jake Bugg’s “Green Man”, the Smiths’ “This Charming Man”, Stone Roses “I Am The Resurrection” and my particular favourite, “Brianstorm” originally done by the Arctic Monkeys. I hope these boys succeed, they play really well and they have an excellent dour and dry northern wit.

Back at the main stage I only caught Fat Spatula’s last song. On the evidence of that I thought they sounded pretty good and I wished I could have heard more of them. I should add that Catwoman didn’t like them at all. Next on the main stage was the winner of this years Ainsty’s Got Talent contest, Beth Bryers. She undoubtedly has a great operatic style voice which she used over a number of dancey beats including Bastille. I get the appeal to some, however for me Beth is an acquired taste that I unfortunately didn’t acquire.

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Rime Suspex though were something else, absolutely brilliant in my opinion. A relatively simple set up of a guitarist, singer and rapper. They were also accompanied by a number of samples I think. Imagine if South Africa’s Die Antwoord came from Blackburn and had better rhymes, well that is Rime Suspex in my view.My particular favourites from their set were “Money” and “Sick And Tired”. Given the lyrical content I almost certainly support their sentiments and politics. They didn’t hit the spot for my friend John, but he has never been a fan of white rappers. But I’ll work on him! Anyway I would definitely pay to see Rime Suspex again.

Our first visit to the Access Music stage brought us Matt Philpot. For me he was a pretty average singer songwriter singing 70s with a mostly laid back 70s vibe. The highlight of his set was a reggaefied arrangement of Aha’s “Take On Me” which I enjoyed. Next we saw the Rusty Pegs who are a bit alt. country and come across like a slightly more Nashville version of Fairground Attraction. I quite liked them.

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On our return to the main stage the Happy Daggers were on. I missed the first part of their set but what I did see showed me that these fellows  are funkin’ good and I want more! Rupert Stroud was on next, he and his band were very tight and well rehearsed. He is a rock influenced singer songwriter and he is bloody good. Imagine James Blunt with bigger balls, well that is Rupert Stroud.

After that it was a quick hop across to the Access Music stage for the magnificent Barcode Zebra. I saw them play at last year’s Apollo Festival and they were very good then. This year they were even better. Soul, funk, rock, jazz all in a musical blender supported by a really skilful band and an immensely powerful vocalist. I certainly hope to see more of them.

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Now it was time for the wonderful Crybabycry on the main stage. They had been caught in traffic on their way, but believe me it was worth the wait. I saw them earlier this year in a tiny venue during Live In Leeds. On their performance then and at the Apollo Festival I will stick my neck out and say that I believe that they are one of the finest bands in the UK at the moment. Along with my other favourite UK bands; Avalanche Party, Colour Me Wednesday and the Tuts. Powerful three-piece Crybabycry deserve to be on bigger stages and if you don’t like them then I suggest that you pop out and get your hearing examined. Can we have them at Reading and Leeds please?

Awesome covers band the Mothers followed Crybabycry onto the main stage and they rocked their socks off. I danced near the stage for their whole set which included storming versions of songs by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, songs from the Stax back catalogue among many others. They were fucking brilliant and I might try to book them for my 60th birthday party, although that isn’t until January 2019. After that I paid a final visit to the Access Music Stage where Catwoman and I saw Armonia. They played some really chilled and laid back acoustic songs including a wonderful cover of Lordes’ “Royals”

Classic 90s scouse indie pop band Space were next on the main stage and they were blooming amazing. I had forgotten how many great songs they have recorded. Favourites like “Neighbourhood” and “Female Of The Species” were there along with some new songs and stuff that I have never heard before. There wasn’t a duff song in their set. My favourite is one that I hadn’t heard before, the rather fabulous “Boy In A Body Bag” which is a bloody fantastic tune.

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Finally it was time for the head-liners the supremely talented Inspiral Carpets. I had seen them many years ago and they were always a band whose new release I would always check out. No other band of their generation rocks the Farsifa like these blokes do. The have some excellent songs in their canon including “Dragging Me Down”, “This Is How It Feels”, “Spitfire” and one of my all time favourite songs from any band or singer “Saturn Five”. Quite an appropriate song for the Apollo Festival don’t you think? The Inspiral Carpets used to refer to themselves as ‘cool as fuck’ and in my opinion they remain so. If you get a chance to see them you would be foolish not to.

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Finally let me say a big, big thank you to the organisers of the Apollo Festival especially Mr Apollo himself Stuart Kelly. Also a big shout out to my good friend Simon Pattinson who is on the organising team. Everything was brilliant folks, including the weather. If you change anything for next year then I suggest that you increase the food outlets and vary them a bit. Can I also offer to volunteer to help with organising Apollo 2016?

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This really is the final finally! If you haven’t done so already please click here to vote for the Apollo Festival in the Yorkshire Gig Guide Grass Roots Awards. I have!

Well given the weather it seemed somewhat appropriate :-)

Well given the weather it seemed somewhat appropriate 🙂

Public service announcement – none of the media contained in this post was filmed or photographed by me.

 

 

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 May 10, 2014


eurovision-2014Usually the most entertaining part of the Eurovision Song Contest is the voting and checking how many countries hate us Brits and show it by giving us nul points. But this year I really feel that we are in with a shout. Molly’s “Children Of The Universe” strikes me as classic Eurovision. I wonder how the votes will be split between Russia and the Ukraine? Anyway I should warn you that I am typing this post as I watch the show. So let’s get on with the 59th Eurovision Song Contest shall we?

Ukraine are up first with a typical Euro song title; “Tick Tock”. Why is there a bloke in a hamster wheel on stage? Singer Mariya Yaremchuk looks good and the song, in spite of its title is not too shabby. Belarus are up next represented by Teo with “Cheesecake”. He has a monster quiff does that Teo. It’s an ok kind of song with some good synchronised dancing in the performance, but no hamster wheel.

_74682088_43f07e35-39ba-4d5b-b4f2-183cdf5ea190Azerbaijan are next and they are trying to “Start A Fire” as sung by Dilara Kazimova. While there is no hamster wheel there is a trapeze. What is that all about? Anyway in my opinion this is a bit of a dirgeful ballad with a singer who seems a little too earnest for me. In Dilara’s favour Catwoman likes her dress. Pollaponk are representing Iceland and one of their backing vocalists is an Icelandic MP. Their suits are all primary colours but as the song says let’s show them “No Prejudice”. The song is a little pop punk with more emphasis on the pop. I’ll probably be wrong as usual, but I think this could win.

Carl Espen is trying to whip up a “Silent Storm” for Norway. He is not an established singer and keeping it in the family the song was written by his cousin. Not my kind of song. It strikes me as a bit forgettable. Paula Seling and Ovi are hoping for a “Miracle” as they sing for Romania. This song can’t make up its mind as to whether it’s a power ballad or just another piece of Euro Disco. It does feature a round piano though.

Armenia are putting up a comedian called Aram MP3 with “Not Alone” which didn’t sound particularly funny to me. Have I missed the punchline. I also felt his voice was a bit flat and out of tune at times. It definitely sees itself as an 80s power ballad though. Montenegro are the first country tonight that are singing in their native tongue. The singer is Sergej Cetkovic with “Moj Svijet”. It sounds like classic mid table Eurovision fodder to me, which given my track record probably means it’ll win. It is backed up with a roller skating dancer, why? Don’t ask me.

We are Slavic washerwomen

We are Slavic washerwomen

“We Are Slavic” is the Polish entry and is sung in English and Polish by Donatan and Cleo. Is it really a feminist anthem? Why are they all dressed as milkmaids? Greece are about to “Rise Up” performed by Freaky Fortune featuring RiskyKidd. The Kidd is actually a rapper from London. It strikes me as the first song of the night to really get the place rocking. Not a hamster wheel in sight, just a bloody huge trampoline.

21. Lifeball AIDS HIV Charity Magenta (Red) CarpetNow it’s Austria with a bearded drag artist, Conchita Wurst singing “Rise Like A Pheonix”. He/ She looks a little scary to me. It’s a good song but the whole appearance puts me right off. Germany ask “Is It Right” with a female trio called Elaiza. It features an accordion and has a bit of an oompah feel about it. I really don’t like this song!

Can Sanna Nielsen “Undo” the competition for Sweden 40 years after Abba won the contest? Possibly as it is this years favourite. Actually it’s a bloody good sung and Sanna has a great voice. If a ballad wins this year it might be “Undo”. TWIN TWIN perform the French entry “Moustache”; a song about a man who can’t grow a moustache. The singer can certainly grow a cartoon comedy haircut though. I can only assume that France don’t want to win. This song is shit!

TWIN TWIN - you cocks!

TWIN TWIN – you cocks!

The Tolmachevy Sisters have interlocking hair and they are singing “Shine”. Their hair has come undone, well at least that will make going to the toilet easier. But wait now they’re on a see saw; why? It was ok but they’re hardly Pussy Riot. Emma sings in Italian for Italy with a rocking little ditty called “La Mia Citta” a.k.a “My City”. The costumes are a bit Roman Empire. Not a bad song though.

indexTinkara Kovac is singing “Round And Round” for Slovenia. Sung in Slovene and English in a rather shouty way with added flute. We’re hoping for “Something Better” from Finland from Softengine. They sound a bit like a discofied Aha.

Ruth Lorenzo once came 5th in the X Factor and she is singing her own composition for Spain. It’s called “Dancing In The Rain”. Knowing my luck a former X Factor contestant will win it. It hurts terribly to admit it but the song is alright, not great just alright. The shouty bit at the end kills it a bit though. Those perennial neutrals Switzerland have a song called “Hunter Of Stars” by Sebalter. It has far too much whistling for my liking with a backing track that sounds like a speeded up “Duelling Banjos“.

40179_ruth-lorenzo-haciendo-corazon-simbolo-eurovision-2014Andras Kallay-Saunders is “Running” for Hungary. He runs around the stage a bit too. A good pop song methinks. Malta are “Coming Home” with Firelight. Two siblings in the band have a mother from Yorkshire. But the song is so Mumford it hurts. Is that style popular across Europe? I don’t know and frankly I hope not! But just to provide a balanced view, Catwoman likes this song apart from the female vocals.

Next up is “Cliche Love Song” by Basim singing for hosts Denmark. Blimey is he miming to Bruno Mars? This is possibly one of the best entries of the night. The Danish TV executives must be shitting themselves. It costs a packet to put this show on. After Denmark the Netherlands provide the “Calm After The Storm” as song by the Common Linnets. Who knew that the Dutch do Country and Western? They can though and it’s quite a good song.

mollySan Marino are the penultimate country with “Maybe” sung by Valentina Monetta. It sounds like the theme song to a late 60s James Bond spoof. Was that meant to be a giant sea shell behind her? Finally it’s time for the UK entry which is “Children Of The Universe” from Molly. I really do think she’s in with a chance. Not sure about her boots but for me Molly nailed it!

Before the scoring starts my tips are Sweden, Denmark and the UK and I reckon France ought to finish last. Now for the scoring which as you might have guessed featured all the usual political voting. Molly came 17th out of 26th so not as bad as many UK entries. The runaway winner was Conchita Wurst from Austria a.k.a the bearded lady with “Rise Like A Phoenix”. I really don’t get it, although to be fair on second hearing the song isn’t too bad! As for my tips; Sweden were third and I was right about France who finished last!

 

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Reading Festival Day 3 – Sunday 30th August 2009 August 31, 2009


Well firstly apologies for the delay in the delivery of this post but it was a long journey home and basically I’m bloody knackered, this old body just can’t take festivals like it used to. I’m sure my fellow ‘old boy’ festival buddy Nick H would concur with that, wouldn’t you Nick?

Anyway on to the final day of the Reading Festival for 2009. Who’s up for 2010? We get there reasonably early on Sunday to make the most of what was supposed to be a sunny day but turned out somewhat grey in the weather stakes, but definitely not grey in the music stakes! First up we saw In Case Of Fire on the NME Radio 1 Stage, these guys all wore the same red shirts, I’m not sure a band uniform works for me (apologies to Devo and Kraftwerk and others). Anyway aside from that these boys certainly knew how to play some excellent punk power pop. Next up it was Noah and the Whale on the Main Stage. I had a few of their songs before but live I felt they were much better. For me they were kind of folky pop with shades of Aztec Camera, perhaps Prefab Sprout and even Lou Reed at times. Their singer even used an electric toothbrush on his guitar at one point, now that is warped. But perhaps slightly more disturbing was that on many occasions the drummer seemed to be miming to a completely different song to the one that the band were playing!

After this we decided to pay another visit to the Festival Republic stage following our success with 65 Days Of Static yesterday. However this was not another one of those finds, we saw the XX and we really weren’t excited by them at all, kind of trippy Indie which seemed incredibly dull, but they seemed to have a lot of fans so to each their own. We saw one song from the Teeth on the BBC Introducing stage. They seemed very good, but we only saw one song, they came across as a geeky, space age version of Sha Na Na. If Sha Na Na were the Flintstones the Teeth would probably be the Jetsons.

Back to the Main Stage now for an appointment with Aussie band the Living End. A bit like Green Day but with a Double Bass. They’re back in the UK for a tour later this year, I reckon they’ll be worth checking out. After this we had perhaps our quirkiest moment of the festival, we tripped across to the Alternative Stage and chanced upon Adam Buxton who in simple terms showed a few film clips and gave out some free snacks. However the quality of the films was truly wonderful, especially the literal video for Aha’s “Take On Me” give it a search on Youtube, I will add it to a post soon as well.

Then it was back to the NME Radio 1 Stage to see the Passion Pit. This is a US band with a sound that could rip a hole in the fabric of space time and a singer who comes across as Leo Sayer begatting Mika whilst on hard drugs. (Ha! I bet you thought begatting only happened in the bible didn’t you?). Next we were back to the Main Stage for the rest of the day. Starting with the brilliant Vampire Weekend, these guys know how to party, the African tinged guitars help I’m sure. I love their first album and this time they even played a few new songs. I also love M79 and whilst I know it’s about a bus in New York, does anyone else think the instrumental hook sounds remotely like “The Wheels On The Bus”? I’d love to know. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were next and just as I had made up my mind for the best costumes seen at the festival this year along comes Karen O wearing something that must have come together after an explosion at a plastic recycling plant! A great set though, but don’t you think her shouty between song voice grates a little? Incidentally until that point my vote for best costume went to the Where’s Wally team, I think there were six of them dressed as the elusive Wally (to my friends from across the big pond, you’ll know Wally as Waldo). The most disturbing costume that I saw was the guy in the Nuns Habit with a pig mask. scary! If you were one of the Wally’s or the Nun Pig I’d love to hear from you!

Bloc Party were the penultimate act on the Main Stage. I have managed to miss them all the other occasions they have appeared here, but I’m glad that I caught them this time, they played a storming set and their laser show was pretty good too.

But this year I think Reading saved the best until last with probably the best headliner I have ever seen at Reading; the mighty Radiohead (can we call them the ‘Head?). I thought that being Reading they might play “Creep” but to open with it, I don’t think anyone expected that! Their light show was truly amazing and for me they proved once again why they are easily the most influential band of their generation. How will the organisers follow that in 2010? Watch this space to find out and in the meantime let me know who you’d like to see at the event next year. Whether you liked the same acts that I did or you liked the ones that I didn’t I really hope you had a great festival and a safe journey home

 

 
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