With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

London 2012 – The Olympics Closing Ceremony August 13, 2012


So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.

I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.

Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.

The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.

The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing “Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!

One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like “Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”

To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012’s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”.  The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.

Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda.  This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.

George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90”  his new single “White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.

George couldn’t master Mo Farah’s Mobot so he invented the Georgebot

A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed “Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.

Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits “Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic “You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!

A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); “Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed “Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?

ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.

Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? 😉 As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.

It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate “Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.

The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.

I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/  Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.

Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!

Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.

 

Gary Numan – York Barbican – Friday 22nd July 2011 July 23, 2011


I mentioned another post earlier this month that I would soon be off to see Gary Numan at the Barbican in York, well it came around quite quickly and I was there for the show last night. It was a part of the weekend long DV8 festival across a number of York venues. It also seemed like there had been coachloads of Whitby Goths dropped in York for the weekend. It could easily have been a Bram Stoker convention. But really I jest because I love the fact that some people, mostly young, take the time to be a little different with their appearance. That indeed was one of the many things that I loved about my late, great cousin Deborah Schofield who died way too young quite a few years ago now. I reckon she would have enjoyed herself last night.

Catwoman did accompany me, against my best advice, I did tell her that she probably wouldn’t like the music. But she came anyway, to try to share my interest. That is one of the many things that I love her for. But she did leave halfway through Gary Numan’s set, I was pretty darned impressed that she made it that far actually!

So onto the show. Personally I thought the support band were dreadful and sit very easily in amongst the 5 worst bands that I have ever seen and I saw my first gig in 1973. Their musicianship was very good, the songs were mostly average and the lead vocalist, well I believe they need to get one! The bass player really looked the part though, he could have stepped right out of Johnny Thunder‘s Heartbreakers in the late 70s. But that is all just my opinion and they did seem to have quite a few fans. Of course it could be that they weren’t allowed anywhere near a sound check as often happens with support bands. Click here to check out their MySpace page and tell me what you think. I would like to stress that this is my opinion and I look forward to the inevitable backlash!

Luxury Stranger finished at 9.30 and then we waited nearly an hour for the main man Mr Numan to arrive on stage, but for me it was definitely worth the wait. I suppose tribal loyalty (I’m a Bowie fan) means I shouldn’t like Gary Numan, but frankly I find all that kind of stuff pathetic. Numan opened with a kind of dark electro fanfare which rolled neatly into the excellent “Down In The Park“. I must confess that I probably know more of his late 70s work, but the newer stuff is strong and powerful and he has a great stage presence. he sure as hell knows how to work his very passionate audience. I will almost certainly buy his new album ‘Dead Son Rising’ when it comes out in September.

He played the classic “Cars” shortly after Catwoman left the building. A shame really as this may have been the one song she would have recognised. He finished the pre encore part of the set with my favourite; “Are Friends Electric?” it still sounds fresh and futuristic. The main synth riff was replaced with a piano riff which works really well. He was only off stage briefly before finishing with two songs. The light show was bloody good as was the sound and the venue is great. I went away happy at midnight as I would imagine the rest of the audience did too. I would definitely go and see him again and I truly believe that his show would work well at the Reading Festival, probably late afternoon on the Main Stage. Are you listening for next year Reading organisers?

I don’t have any recordings from last nights show so here are a few excellent clips for your further listening and viewing pleasure.

And finally an excellent old interview with Graham Norton

 

“Where the thunder turns around they’ll run so hard we’ll tear the ground away” November 15, 2010


Dear readers I have recently encountered a real problem. As many of you know I am not the world’s biggest Robbie Williams fan, in fact I take many opportunities to disparage the Robster. However my problematical dilemma is that I like the new Take That album (Robbie is a member again for now) and I also like the song he recorded with Gary Barlow for his current greatest hits package. I can just about live with all that I suppose. But if I ever tell you that I really love Robbie’s awful dirge “Angels” or that I have become a fan of JLS or Boylife or Westzone (I believe that Boyzone and Westlife are truly interchangeable) then take me to the vet and have me put down humanely!

Take That prepare to become David Haye's next victims!

Whilst talking of Take That, JLS and Westlife they all appeared on this weekend’s light entertainment show (it really, really isn’t a talent show is it?) the X Factor. Take That performed “The Flood” which was a million times better than the dreadful shite that JLS and Westlife performed. The JLS song, “Love You More” is at least raising money for the BBC’s Children In Need appeal, whereas Westlife’s “Safe” is just awful and not for charity. As usual there was a controversial vote, Aidan Grimshaw was booted out, very deservedly so in my opinion, at the expense of Katie Waissel. One has to ask what has she ever done to the people who vote on the show that she regularly receives fewer votes than Wagner (pronounced Vagner except for the old Irish windbag Louis Walsh!) But seriously, how can it be classed as a talent show whilst people like Wagner progress so far?

The real reason Robbie rejoined Take That is that he saw the on stage perks they now recieved! ............ While you're down there indeed!

But by far the biggest controversy about the show this weekend was whether or not Cheryl Cole farted whilst giving her verdict on Cher Lloyd on Saturday’s show. It’s a story carried by many of the UK tabloids, personally I reckon she did, what do you think? Did Cheryl really fart on live TV or is it just another whiff of hype from the X Factor machine. Cast your vote below and remember you will still have to pay me if you try to vote after the poll has closed.  😉

I wonder if that incident will give her new single “Promise This”  a little extra wind to take it into the charts? Is it me or do the tights/ stockings she is wearing in the video look like artistic skid marks?

Holy Moly said she was going for a Bram Stoker's Dracula look, personally I think it was a cross between Princess Leia off of Star Wars and Minnie Mouse!

Let me finish with a question for you. How should one describe a Boyband that are no longer boys? I don’t know the answer but I would love to hear your suggestions. I have heard Manband used, but frankly that sounds like something a gentleman of a ‘certain’ age might use in conjunction with Viagra.

 

“Out of self respect I’m out of bread, I’m under loved I’m under fed” April 9, 2009


We took a day out to Whitby in North Yorkshire yesterday which is only about an hours drive from where I live in York. Many of you may know that Whitby is where much of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is set and much of the fabulously imposing structure of Whitby Abbey still remains. I think I will have to read the book again soon. Catwoman tells me that Whitby is supposed to be Goth Central, well apart from a couple of pre-teen girls with My Chemical Romance hoodies there was nothing even remotely close, maybe they just come out at night. By the way I know that MCR would not be considered goth, but really that is the closest thing I saw. But if the Daily Mail is to be believed, and I really don’t think it is, then these two kids were off to do some self harm and plan for suicide!

Whitby Abbey, it'll look good when it's finished won't it?

Whitby Abbey, it'll look good when it's finished won't it?

I did find a small independent music store though, as usual! I bought a copy of the supremely talented Julian Cope’s album ‘Black Sheep’ I got into Cope quite late really but I love his stuff now, especially his solo albums, I’m not so keen on the Teardrop Explodes. Incidentally did you know that the band got their name from issue 77 of Marvel Comics Daredevil from 1971 (which also featured Spiderman and Prince Namor)? Well they did and did you know that whilst I like Daredevil and Spidey the Silver Surfer is probably my favourite Marvel character? Well he is, but is followed in a very close second place by the Fantastic Four!

The page of the comic from which the Teardrop Explodes got their name

The page of the comic from which the Teardrop Explodes got their name

Whilst in Whitby we simply had to visit it’s most famous Fish and Chip restaurant, The Magpie and trust me it was well worth it! Click on the name to check it out. Speaking of fish,have any of you seen the new TV advert for Birds Eye Salmon Fish Fingers? I’m not sure if it is being shown outside the UK yet. Either way and just in case click here to see it. I think it is bloody hilarious and the best TV ad I’ve seen for ages.

I’ll cover just one birthday today 9th April. It’s the 29th birthday of Albert Hammond Jr off of the Strokes who has also produced a couple of solo albums in recent years too. He is the son of US singer songwriter Albert Hammond, I could make a joke here about his parents lacking creativity by giving him the same name as his Dad, but I won’t because that’s exactly what my parents did. no they didn’t name me Albert Hammond, he wasn’t my Dad ok, that’s just a “Big Stripey Lie” (you like the secret Kate reference Mickelodeon?). No my Dad, and therefore me too, were and are William Adamson, although no one ever calls me William anymore. Nowadays it’s Bill, Will, baldbloke or git. Anyway back to Mr Hammond Jr, I bought the Strokes’ first album ‘Is This It’ while I was on holiday in Canada in late August 2001. My copy contains the track “New York City Cops” which was removed from the US and some other territories releases after the terrible events of September 11th 2001. It was deemed disrespectful to the many public servants who risked and in many cases lost their lives on that day. I do understand that, but clearly it was written and recorded some time before those horrific murders so maybe now is a good time to reclaim it! Click here to see the band performing it live. Albert met Julian Casablancas, also off of the Strokes whilst at Boarding School in Switzerland. Albert’s dad had a massive hit in the early 70s with what I suppose would be termed one of my guilty pleasures these days, “It Never Rains In Southern California“. well maybe it does but surely it rains much, much less there than it does here in the UK.

Once again the Strokes fail to win at Giant Scrabble, spelling c;early wasn't their strong point!

Once again the Strokes fail to win at Giant Scrabble, spelling clearly wasn't their strong point!

It has been pointed out to me that Queen have not yet featured in my blog so far, well it’s nothing personal I do like them quite a lot. So here they are! On this day in 1973 Queen played a showcase gig for their new record label, EMI, at the Marquee Club in London. The late great (those l’s & g’s are getting very regular now, it must be all the Bran Flakes!) Freddie Mercury came up with the band’s name and claims he never even thought of it’s gay connotations, here is what he said about it; “I thought up the name Queen. It’s just a name, but it’s very regal obviously, and it sounds splendid, It’s a strong name, very universal and immediate. It had a lot of visual potential and was open to all sorts of interpretations. I was certainly aware of gay connotations, but that was just one facet of it.” For me Queen was more than just Freddie, it was a combination of him, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. That is why I really don’t get stuff like the newish Paul Rodgers and Queen album. I think Paul Rodgers has one of the great rock voices but he’s not a part of Queen is he? I’m sure that some of you will disagree but that’s my opinion. Anyway let’s end this Queen piece on a fun note with another excellent Freddie quote. Queen and the Sex Pistols were recording in the same London studio complex in 1977 when Sid Vicious went into the wrong room and saw Freddie Mercury sitting at the piano alone. Sid allegedly said something like “Freddie Mercury, still bringing ballet to the masses are you?” Freddie’s excellent reply was allegedly something similar to “Oh yes Mr Ferocious dear, we are doing our best” Here are the mighty Queen with my favourite of all their songs “Seven Seas Of Rhye

Freddie loved to lord it over all those who were shorter than he was, which was basically..........everybody!

Freddie loved to lord it over all those who were shorter than he was, which was basically..........everybody!

And finally this day in 1991 saw the death of record producer Martin Hannett. He was born in Manchester and had produced many Manchester bands including; the Smiths, New Order, Joy Division, Happy Mondays and Magazine. He also worked with U2 and the Psychedelic Furs. He was credited as Martin zero for his first production job which was the “Spiral Scratch EP” by the Buzzcocks. He died of heart failure in 1991 after years of heavy drinking and drug addiction, which included heroin. Many people have a real misconception of the nature of addiction, myself included until recently. I have learned a lot from an Australian blog which now features on my BlogRoll, it’s called ‘The Australian Heroin Diaries‘ and you really should check it out. As far as Martin goes I had to finish with Joy Division’ fantastic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”

Martin was constantly being followed by two small UFOs that no one else could see

Martin was constantly being followed by two small UFOs that no one else could see

 

 
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