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.

 

Roger Waters – The Wall Live – O2 Arena London 18th May 2011 May 18, 2011


So if I were to say to you that earlier tonight I went to see a 68-year-old pensioner perform a thirty odd year old album it wouldn’t sound particularly exciting would it? But if I said that I’d been to see Roger Waters (off of Pink Floyd) perform the classic Floyd double albumThe Wall‘ in it’s entirety backed by a superb band, amazing light show, pyrotechnics, massive marionettes, incredible film and animation and a flying pig you might think otherwise right? (But then you’ve probably already read the title of this post anyway!)

Firstly let me thank my friend and work colleague Grant who gave me a ticket for the show. He had already attended last week on the night that remaining Floyd members David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined Mr Waters on stage. So whilst I may have missed the mini Floyd reunion I did see the show and it was something else. Regular readers know that I have been going to gigs now for nearly 40 years and this show is probably straight into my top 5.

Roger Waters performance was commanding and immaculate. The projections on the wall and the other special effects made it more than just another rock show. This was a rock spectacle, a truly spectacular show. I have been listening to the album again these past few days and seeing it performed live makes you realise what a stupendous album it really is. It contains my second favourite Floyd song ever in “Comfortably Numb” My favourite is actually “Wish You Were Here” But ‘The Wall’ is an album I can still listen to end to end. All I needed tonight was a good spliff and it would have been perfect. Snowy White‘s guitar playing was stupendous, especially the solo on “Comfortably Numb”

Many people see the Who as a band who are Rock Opera experts and with ‘Tommy’ and ‘Quadrophenia’ they clearly are damned good. However in the annals of rock opera ‘The Wall’ stands with the best and for an album released nearly 32 years ago really stands the test of time. essentially it’s Waters’ first solo album that just happened to be recorded with Pink Floyd. It is very much about his life and the experiences that shaped him as a man. He is clearly more comfortable in his own skin now than he was all those years ago, but he still tells the story well.

If you get a chance to see this show do whatever it takes; sell your granny, pimp out your budgie or send your kids out to sweep chimneys, anything but make sure you don’t miss the opportunity!

Please note that none of the videos or pictures are from the show I saw, just in case you wondered. Mainly because my camera skills are pretty crap!

 

“I’ve walked for miles, my feet are hurting” May 16, 2011


Yet more Gaga news for you today, she certainly knows how to create a media stir for herself doesn’t she. I guess I’m as guilty as the rest too as she does appear here quite a bit. She has become the first celebrity to reach ten million Twitter followers. She tweeted this message to her followers; “10 Million Monsters! I’m speechless, we did it! It’s an illness how I love you. Leaving London smiling”. She was the first to reach nine million in March having overtaken Britney Spears last year. She has 24 million ‘likes’ on Facebook although in terms of celebrities Eminem is ahead of her as is Texas Hold ‘Em Poker.

She also appeared at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Carlisle this weekend. She dedicated a song to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka Wills and Kate) and played a couple of jazz numbers. In her continuing quest to make an entrance unlike any other star she arrived on stage in a coffin. She was dressed in black and apparently wearing a prosthetic pregnancy. Unless of course it was real! Before Gaga’s super injunction takes effect I would like to state categorically that I am not the father! I would like to thank my good friend Nick Horslen for sending me the clip of her stage entrance. Incidentally Nick also categorically denies that he is the father.  Nick also came up with a pun to describe the Gaga entrance that is up there with my worst puns. It went something like this ‘Lady Gaga had a bit of a coffin fit I hear…’ keep taking the tablets Nick!

Now for some non Gaga news. Last week Roger Waters played a few shows at the O2 Arena in London as part of The Wall tour. I would have loved to have gone but I never got around to booking early enough. But a work friend of mine was there and not only was it a great show, but also for the first time since Live 8 in 2005 the remaining members of Pink Floyd (David Gilmour and Nick Mason) joined Waters on stage. To say that I was envious of my friend Grant would be an understatement, being there for that particular performance is one to tell your grandchildren isn’t it? Click here to check it out on the BBC

And finally time for more mondegreens aka misheard lyrics. These were posted in the Rock Of Ages Yahoo Group and there are some real doozies there!

“I bless the rains down in Africa.” (Toto – Africa)
People sing: “I left my brains down in Africa.”

“Might as well face it, You’re addicted to love” (Robert Palmer – Addicted to love)
“Might as well face it, you’re a dick with a glove.” (some people have suggested that they thought this was about Michael Jackson!

“Body’s aching all the time.” (Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody)
“but he’s naked all the time.”

“And as we wind on down the road.” (Led Zeppelin – Stairway to heaven)
“There’s a wino down the road.”

“And kept her apart from the things that she loved.” (The Beatles – Getting Better)
“And kicked her apartment of things that’s Sheila.”

“Excuse me while I kiss the sky.” (Jimi Hendrix – Purple Haze)
“Excuse me while I kiss this guy.”

“See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen” (Abba – Dancing Queen)
” See that girl, watch her scream, kicking the dancing queen.”

“Like a virgin, touched for the very first time” (madonna – Like a Virgin)
“Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time”

“We built this city on rock and roll.” (Starship – We built this city)
“We built this city on log and coal.”

“I’ll never be your beast of burden.” (Rolling Stones – Beast of Burden)
“I’ll never leave your pizza burnin’.”

“Here we are now, entertain us.” (Nirvana – Smells like teen spirit)
“Here we are now, in containers.”

“The answer, my friend,
is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” (Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the wind)
“The ants are my friends,
they’re blowin’ in the wind
The ants are a-blowin’ in the wind.”

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road.” (Green day – Time of your life)
“Another turnip boy, the Ford stuck in the road.”

“Got my mind set on you.” (George Harrison – Got my mind set on you)
“Thought my mom sat on you.”

“There’s a bad moon on the rise.” (Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising)
“There’s a bathroom on the right.”

Just because I love the song and it doesn’t get played too much here is “Beast Of Burden” by the Stones.

 

“‘Cause we’re lovers And that is a fact Yes we’re lovers And that is that” October 16, 2010


This is all that's left of the last person who did a bad cover version of one of my songs, so take heed Cowell!

Travesty hardly does it justice in my opinion, but frankly I am both saddened and angered that the X Factor Finalists charity single this year will be their version of David Bowie’s “Heroes”. OK I haven’t heard it yet, but I really can’t imagine it will be anything better than mediocre at best. The only redeeming feature is that it will be raising money for the Help For Heroes charity. Incidentally I do find it sad that the soldiers who get injured in pointless wars like the one in Iraq have to rely on our charity for a better life. I don’t begrudge them that at all, I just think that the government should do much more for them. By the way, just because I don’t support the war in Iraq and other places doesn’t mean I don’t support our soldiers that are out there risking their lives. Anyway rant over for now. read about this awful cover version at the NME and the BBC.

The Division Bell goes Lego

In some more encouraging news Nick Mason, sticksman for the Floyd has said that charity could lure the band back on stage together at some point in the future. Their last appearance on stage together was at Live 8 in 2005. But Roger Waters and David Gilmour did play together in Oxfordshire in July this year in aid of the  Hoping Foundation which supports Palestinian children. Let’s hope Mr Mason is correct and that it happens soon. How about Pink Floyd at Glastonbury? Read all about it here on the BBC and NME.

They used to say that home taping would kill music, well it didn't did it?

Rob Dickins former boss of Warner Records for 15 years up to 1998 has claimed the way to save the industry and really hit back at piracy is to reduce album prices to just £1. Personally I totally agree with him. I believe that there is no greater reason for people to illegally download than the current price of music, particularly downloads which require no physical product to support them. Here is the story on the BBC. What do you folks think? What percentage of your downloads are illegal?

The Inbetweeners boys raid the NME

Finally for this post, this week’s NME was taken over and edited by the boys from superb British comedy the Inbetweeners. If you haven’t seen it yet, what are you waiting for? I also understand that the rights have been sold to the US, I really cannot imagine how the hell it will translate for a US audience. Click here for pictures of their takeover of the NME.

 

“From feudal serf to spender, this wonderful world of purchase power” September 15, 2009


Me and my helmet :-)

Me and my helmet 🙂

Here we go again folks and I have some brilliant news, well it was brilliant for me anyway. On Saturday I spent the day at the Riders Edge Harley Davidson centre in Wales. This was a gift experience which was given to me as a birthday present by the wonderful and beautiful Catwoman for my 50th birthday back in January. You have to bear in mind that I have never been on a motorbike in my life. So to say I was a little apprehensive at first would be a major understatement. Let’s just say that I made sure I packed a clean pair of under crackers…….just in case!

Anyway being a complete novice I spent the morning, around three hours riding a 500cc machine around the private roads within the Royal Welsh Showground at Builth Wells. Whilst I never fell off once I came close a couple of times! I guess I pictured in my head having to lean right over when taking corners, but that’s for the speed freaks, at the speeds I was doing taking a corner upright was easy. Incidentally while it felt much, much faster I don’t think I got above 40 mph. For me the coordination required to change gear with your left foot while not looking down at all was very difficult. But when you think about it it really shouldn’t be. I mean I don’t look down when I change gear in the car so why should I need to when riding a motorbike? Well perhaps because I’m not using a gear stick with my hand but trying to change it with my foot. But by the end of the morning session I had reached the dizzy heights of 5th gear twice and stalled less than ten times in total and as I said earlier, I never fell off or crashed once! The last part was a great result for me as I fully expected to take a few spills.

Me on a Harley

Me on a Harley

So after just three hours on the saddle they sadly weren’t going to let me loose on a fabulous Harley on my own. However I did get a pillion ride on a gorgeous Harley Davidson machine under the control of one of the Rider’s Edge expert instructors, Ian. Having never even ridden pillion before that too was also a great experience for me. Cruising around some wonderful Welsh countryside. Great weather, great views and remarkably attractive sheep, well at least I would imagine they are attractive if you’re perhaps Welsh or a Kiwi.

Uneasy Rider perhaps?

Uneasy Rider perhaps?

I would like to take this opportunity to say a big, big thank you to all the folks at Riders Edge. Especially Clive, who was my instructor in the morning and also Ian with whom I rode pillion in the afternoon.

In the meantime and as this is really a music related blog let’s steer it back in that direction! Can you guess what today’s theme might be? Well it’s a bit obvious really isn’t it? Today’s theme is Motorbikes! Here are a few motorbike or motorbike related songs with a morsel of trivia about each of the artists or songs

“Motorcycle Emptiness” – Manic Street Preachers. This was the fifth single to be taken from the band’s Generation Terrorists album in 1992. The lyrics are inspired by a book about biker gang culture called Rumble Fish which was written by S E Hinton

“Motorbikin’”– Chris Spedding. This 1975 Top 20 hit was Spedding’s biggest and he is perhaps best known as a sought after session guitarist. He has played with many artists including; Bryan Ferry, Roxy Music, Elton John, Brian Eno, Jack Bruce, Nick Mason, John Cale, Katie Melua, Harry Nilsson, Tom Waits, Paul McCartney, Jeff Wayne and even the Wombles! He also famously played on and produced three demos for the Sex Pistols in 1976. The three songs were “No Feelings”, “Problems” and “Pretty Vacant”

“Funky Moped” – Jasper Carrot. This was a surprise hit for Mr Carrot in 1975. The single was backed with a risque monologue based around the 60s TV series the “Magic Roundabout“, which at the time I thought was bloody hilarious! he also has a thespian daughter; Lucy Davis who played Dawn in the Office. She was excellent in that series don’t you think?

“Silver Dream Machine”– David Essex. At the age of 23 in 1971 David took the lead role in the musical Godspell on the London Stage. I actually went to see that show as part of a school trip in 1972 when he was still in it. Our coach was delayed because all the girls on the trip had gathered outside the stage door to scream and get his autograph. It was around the time he released his first major single “Rock On”. My first serious girlfriend; Gay Topsom, was a big David Essex fan and I remember buying her each of his singles as soon as they were released. I never had enough money to stretch to an album. But we were together for two years from 1975 to 1977 so I guess that’s a fair amount of singles. She left me for a guy who was slightly older and more importantly had a car! But you know what I’m over that now and if you’re reading this Gay, I forgive you 🙂

“Bat Out Of Hell”– Meatloaf. Meat was born Marvin Lee Aday on 27th September 1947 so he will turn 62 in a couple of weeks. get your cards written and sent now folks. Jim Steinman the producer and I suppose you could say creator of Meat’s landmark Bat Out Of Hell album was apparently trying to get something that sounded like a cross between Wagner, Phil Spector and Bruce Springsteen. Well I for one reckon he succeeded. What do you think?

“Born To Be Wild”– Steppenwolf. This band hailed from Toronto and many credit their recording of the iconic “Born To Be Wild” as the first Heavy Metal record, although just as many disagree. It has had a long association with motorbikes, very likely due to its inclusion on the soundtrack to the movie Easy Rider which starred Peter Fonda

I used to have this poster on my wall as a teenager :-)

I used to have this poster on my wall as a teenager 🙂

I am sure that you can think of plenty more so fire away folks!

This is the poster I really wanted on my wall as a teenager ;-)

This is the poster I really wanted on my wall as a teenager 😉

 

 
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