Seven days into December already so that makes it day 7 of this years blog post advent calendar. This year, if you haven’t been following it, is the ABC of British bands. December 7th makes it the letter ‘G’ so today I bring you Genesis.
Genesis were very much an albums band and they have had five UK number one albums. Their first was ‘Duke’ in 1980, which means none of the Peter Gabriel era albums topped the charts. They never had a UK number one single, but they did top the singles charts in Canada and the USA with “Misunderstanding” (1980) and “Invisible Touch” (1986) respectively. Now enjoy a wide selection of Genesis songs, My favourite is “I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe)”, what is yours?
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.
Did you see the staggering piece of footage on the UK news this week? Where a woman in her 70s saw off six would be jewel thieves in Northampton. She saw a commotion and thought a young lad was being beaten up, so she waded in with her hand bag at which point she realised it was a robbery. It was a while before other members of the public stepped in and held one of the gang. the police later arrested three more of the six.
I’d love to see them explain themselves in prison, they will truly be complete laughing stocks. The three that were arrested were aged between 18 and 39 so all considerably younger than Ann Timson the magnificent lady in question. She said that she recognised that she had put herself in danger but that she would probably do the same again. This lady is my hero of 2011 so far, can anyone top Ann Timson?
Obviously this is a music blog so I will now give you a few relatively appropriate songs;
“Beat On The Brat” – Ramones. Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone formed the band in New York in 1974. Despite the apparently shared surname they were not related at all. They chose Ramone after a pen name used by Paul McCartney, which was Paul Ramon. Clem Burke from Blondie once appeared with the band and named himself Elvis Ramone.
“Touch Of Grey” – The Grateful Dead. Fans of the band are often referred to as Dead Heads. The term was used in one of my favourite songs; “The Boys Of Summer” by Don Henley. “Out on the road today I saw a Dead Head sticker on a Cadillac, a voice inside my head said don’t look back, you can never look back”
“Get Up, Stand Up” – Bob Marley and the Wailers. This is a classic Marley song and was often his encore. In fact it was the last song he ever played live having used it to close his gig in Pittsburgh in September 1980.
You folks may be surprised to find that the usual format has returned for this post, it’s had a few days rest and is now ready to appear again, but dam you should see the rider it requested! I didn’t know it was possible to buy baby oil and lard in those kind of quantities! Talking of riders, is everyone aware of what a rider is? Yes I know it’s someone who sits on a horse Jes! But thanks for the input anyway. But that’s not what it is in this context. According to Wiki, which to be fair isn’t always 100% correct the ‘hospitality rider’ is a list of requests for the comfort of the artist on the day of the show. Sometimes this document is provided along with the technical rider; other times, it is provided much closer to the performance date. Thanks to those wonderful people at the ‘Smoking Gun’ website you can now view the recent riders of more than 270 acts, there is some interesting reading there, trust me! Click here to see it. Apparently one of David Bowie’s requirements is that each room must have at least two fans, I presume he means air coolers and not groupies! Hey did you see how I just sneaked in another DB reference?
I also feel bad that I didn’t post this earlier, but many of you will be aware of the death of British TV icon Wendy Richard. Wendy is perhaps best known for her roles as Miss Brahms in 70s sitcom ‘Are You Being Served’ and as Pauline Fowler in Eastenders. But wait I thought this was a music blog I hear you cry………. louder please! well yes you’re right it is a music blog and it is absolutely right to feature Wendy Richard in it too. She was the uncredited voice on Mike Sarne’s 1962 UK number one “Come Outside“. Wendy was paid just £15 for that session and the song went on to sell around a half a million copies. In 1964 she also made a cameo appearance in the Beatles movie film ‘Help!’ but her contribution sadly ended up on the cutting room floor.
presumably Wendy and Molly were discussing Mrs Slocombe's pussy 😉
There are two birthdays today, Friday 27th March, well ok there are loads more, but just two on this post! Starting with Mr Tony Banks off of Genesis who is 59 today. He was a founding member of Genesis and along with Mike Rutherford one of the only two original members to have remained with the band for the whole of it’s existence, since 1967 in fact. In the early sixties Banks attended Charterhouse School in Sussex in the UK where he met Rutherford and also Peter Gabriel. Although Tony Banks has provided occasional vocals for Genesis and some on his solo work he has also employed an eclectic group of vocalists for his solo projects. These include Nik Kershaw, Toyah Willcox, Fish and Jim Diamond. Here is Tony with Genesis playing “Mama”
Tony was very proud of his keyboard style kitchen work tops, but where the hell was the bloody sink?
Second and final birthday for today is that of Mariah Carey, she reaches the ripe old age of 39 today. Did you know that Mariah’s folks named her after the song “They Call The Wind Mariah” from the musical “Paint Your Wagon”. They called the wind Mariah eh? I can feel a fart joke coming on but I’ll resist! Wow that’s a first maybe I’m reaching maturity, bloody hell I hope not! Mariah is often referred to as the ‘Queen Of Pop’ (oops there’s another fart gag there surely?). Although it’s hardly an exclusive title as at various times the following divas have also been given that accolade; Celine Dion, Beyonce, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears and Madonna. Here comes Mariah with “Hero”
That's Mariah on the left............. I think!
On this day in1973 the late great (well the l’s & g’s have been resting too) Jerry Garcia off of the Grateful Dead was arrested for speeding in New Jersey. The Police discovered cocaine and LSD in his car. But strangely they discovered no speed, hmmmmm…… is that grounds for wrongful arrest? Jerry’s full name was Jerome John Garcia and he was named after the composer Jerome Kern. In 1987 Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream produced the Cherry Garcia flavour, the first ice cream ever named after a rock musician. For a month after Jerry’s death in 1995 the ice cream was produced using black cherries rather than the usual red as a form of mourning for Garcia. For all you Deadheads out there here is Jerry with the Dead and “Ripples”
Could this be a deady bears picnic?
And finally on this day in 2000 the late great (well they did have a very, very good rest those ‘ole l’s & g’s) Ian Dury died after a long battle with cancer. When Ian first confirmed that he had cancer he was said to have told family and friends, “I haven’t got cancer, but cancer’s got me and it’s going to have to bloody deal with me!” That has to be th epitome of positive thinking, what a great man. Also the UK tabloids had been sniffing around and offering silly money for their ‘IAN DURY IN CANCER SHOCK’ headlines, but he beat them on that too. Ian went to the Guardian newspaper and gave them a UK press exclusive on his condition in exchange for a donation to a cancer charity. I’ll say it again, what a great man! Apparently the Blockheads are writing and recording again, this time with Dave The Draw, Dury’s friend and minder on vocals. It would have been all to easy to show a clip of “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick”, so I won’t, here’s “What A Waste” instead, with a great intro from Mr Peter Cook too, from the TV show Revolver!
Ian was never happy when he was in the papers, unless of course he was sleeping