With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Damon Albarn – York Minster – Thursday 2nd December 2021 December 5, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:44 pm
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I have seen Damon Albarn on numerous occasions, three or four times with Blur, twice with the Good, The Bad and The Queen, and once with Gorillaz. But until now I had never seen him perform solo. I saw his streamed solo set at the Live From Worthy Farm a few months back and that, plus the release of his new solo album, was perhaps a precursor to what the shows on this short tour might be like. Firstly though I must mention this iconic venue, which was completed in 1472 and remains the largest cathedral of its kind in Northern Europe. I have missed out on a couple of contemporary shows here previously; Benjamin Francis Leftwich and the Howl and the Hum. Although the live stream of the latter was stunning.

After a 30 minute wait outside in a freezing York, we were finally ushered in for the 6:30 show, a second was planned for 8:30. The Minster setting was spectacular, particularly after the main lights were dimmed and it was then mostly candlelight. The stage was simple with a piano and seats for a string quartet. Yes, this was never going to be some kind of full-on band show. A rather unassuming Damon (my wife Catherine a.k.a Catwoman said scruffy) took to the stage to the sound of the string quartet playing Darke’s “In The Bleak Midwinter”. The first song was “The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows”, the title track of the new album. Six more tracks from the new album followed of which for me the highlights were “The Tower of Montevideo” and “Particles”, both stunning in their simplistic beauty.

But it was the last few songs that really set the evening on fire. First, it was “Beetlebum”, a UK number one for Blur back in 1997. The original was a warped, psyched out, Beatlesy kind of tune whose lyrics dealt with Damon’s experience with heroin. But this string and piano-driven version was ethereal and otherworldly, such a phenomenal take on a great song. This was followed by “Lonely Press Play” from Albarn’s first solo album ‘Everyday Robots’ from 2014. The sadly very short set was brought to an emotional close with a gorgeous take on Blur’s “The Universal” to which we all sang along quietly. I was kind of jealous of the fans at the later show who bagged two more songs than us, “My Terracotta Heart” and “Under the Westway”, both Blur deep cuts. But putting that aside this was a truly incredible show and a never-to-be-forgotten experience!

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The Howl And The Hum – York Minster – Tuesday 25th May 2021 June 4, 2021


With proper gigs still a few weeks away I guess I will take live streams and socially distanced shows just to get my music fix. This particular show was of great interest to me for a number of reasons. The Howl And The Hum are a great band from my adopted city, York, their debut album is stunning and the venue was York’s truly iconic Minster. That building was completed around 550 years ago, even if I added my age to the combined age of the band it wouldn’t even come close to that number! Apparently the whole idea of the band playing the Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York a.k.a York Minster, began as a joke. Initial suggestions were for the band to drop from the rafters or arrive via jet packs. I guess health and safety rules sadly put paid to that!

Sam Griffiths the Howl And The Hum’s venerable front man, nicely decked out in a cowboy style shirt adorned with skulls and roses, kicked off with a solo rendition of “Hostages”. He sounded like Thom Yorke playing to a tiny audience in an intimate venue. Well if you don’t count those of us watching via the stream it was a small, and I am sure very happy audience. Even watching via the live stream, which unlike Live At Worthy Farm was truly live and not “as live”, I could sense this was a very special show. The sort that people will speak of in reverential hushed tones for many, many years. Griffiths’ vocals were heavenly throughout, perhaps none more so than on “Remedy To Rust”. He was joined by a string section for this tune and I was also entranced by the Neil Young vibes that showed strongly. One of my favourites of the whole set was “A Hotel Song” which deals with suffering existential crises in hotel rooms. This was followed by “Until I Found A Rose” on which the celestial strings enhanced the song to levels even higher than the venue roof.

“Hall Of Fame” deals with the fall out and complexities of a faded, but perhaps not ended relationship. A tune that oozes sadness in a way that not many songs are able to. A lament that would moisten the tear ducts of anyone with even half a heart. For “Terrorforming” we were treated to stunningly beautiful choral support from a women’s choir led by Gina Walters. The song has become one of my most favourite tracks ever. It never fails to instil in me huge confidence and love for life, while at the same time shines a light on the inevitable fact that I now have less years left on this planet than I have spent on it so far. Is that what was intended for these lyrics? I have no idea, but that is how deeply it gets to me! Drummer Jack Williams joined Griffiths and guitarist Conor Hirons for a great run through of one of the Howl And The Hum’s classics, “The Only Boy Racer Left On the Island”. Next “Sweet Fading Silver” built towards a magnificent crescendo before a beautiful melancholy close. Sam Griffiths dedicated a new song, “Thumbs Up” to the bands bass player Bradley Blackwell who sadly missed the gig as he was unwell, I really feel for him, but this band will play huge gigs one day and he will be there for them. Does this song have the only lyric that has ever mentioned ‘Predator 2’? Either way it is a great song and once again I was reminded of Thom Yorke in Sam Griffiths incredible vocal style. I believe that even people who claim to have never heard, or heard of, the Howl And The Hum will know the song they closed the set with. It was “Godmanchester Chinese Bridge” and this was a full on mountainous performance with the band, strings, choir and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink! This is almost certainly the greatest live streamed gig ever! We really need a physical, especially vinyl, release of this monumental gig!

None of the videos are from the gig, but enjoy them anyway. Also click here if you want to see the show, it is only available for a very short time (until 23:59 UK time Sunday 6th June, and it will cost you hardly anything, just £5!

All the photographs and videos were found on line if one of them is yours and you would like me to credit you or remove it please let me know!

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“And I know what you’re thinking, you still think I am crap” July 4, 2011


So it appears that I now live in the place that everyone else in the country would like to live, according to a recent survey. I live in York, an obvious jewel in North Yorkshire’s and indeed the UK’s crown. I’m not sure it was the most popular place when I moved here in 2007 so I suppose I could assume that it has become so popular because I live here. What do you think? Anyway I really enjoy living in the north, in my opinion it is a million times better than London. But in fact that could be said of most other places in the UK. So what do I think are the best reasons to live in York, apart from the obvious one for me which would be my fiancée Catherine aka to regular readers as Catwoman. I will try to complete this as a top ten, but in no particular order.

The history – walking the wall is always a wonderful experience when you consider the thousands of years of history below your feet. Vikings, Romans and the Scots have all occupied York at some time or another

The Maltings – in my opinion the best pub with the best beer in York

Dusk – in the daytime a rather excellent coffee bar and at night a rather unique club (This is definitely not a view shared by Catwoman)

The Mediterranean Barbers – The only place in town you can get a full wet head shave (Just the thing for those of us, like me, that are follically challenged)

The Minster – I am not a religious person at all but the magnificence of this building transcends religion. Obviously I ought to mention Archbishop John Sentamu here, a truly wonderful character

Guy Fawkes – in my opinion probably the last person to enter parliament with honourable intentions and he was born in York

Rafi’s Spice Box – all the ingredients (apart from the meat or veg) and instructions that you need to make an excellent curry

Castle Museum – always something new and with a brilliant recreation of a Victorian Street (the National Railway Museum and the Yorkshire Museum are worth a visit too)

Travelling Man – it may be the only comic shop in York, but even if it wasn’t it would still be the best. Staffed by a great team who keep me supplied with the best Marvel has to offer!

Cedar Court Grand Hotel – this building used to be the railway offices which is where I worked when I first met Catwoman. It has been a hotel for just over a year and last October we went for a meal in the restaurant there, where I did the traditional popping the question on one knee. To complete the circle we will be getting married there in September. Does that mean I will become Mr Catwoman?

Apologies to the places and things I have missed. I could easily have come up with ten more. (Notable omissions which make up that additional 10 are; York City FC, Rowntree Park, Fibbers, The Duchess, Oak Street, Little Betties, The Blue Bicycle, City Screen, York Library, the Vinyl Record stall outside M & S) I would love to hear what your favourite things about York are whether you live here or not. If you’ve never visited this wonderful city yet then pull your finger out and get yourself along here. I may even meet you in the Maltings for a swift one! But I am half Scots so don’t expect me to buy you one! I have said on many occasions before that this is a music blog so let me finish with a few songs that are about city life.

Obviously there is a real dearth of songs about York itself, although there are thousands about it’s young offspring from across the pond. You know the place, so good they named it twice? Well my city is so good it only needs one name and that is York!

“Big City” – Dandy Livingstone

“In The City” – Eagles

Paradise City” – Guns n Roses

“In The City” – Jam

“Dancing In The City” – Marshall Hain

 

“Hey Andy, are you goofing on Elvis?” July 11, 2010


What a bummer, I missed the train again!

I was reading the news earlier today and I discovered a fantastic longstanding tradition that I had never previously heard of and yet it appears to have started more than 30 years ago. It is the annual Amtrak Mooning in Laguna Niguel in Orange County California. It took place this weekend and started as some kind of bet in a bar. A drinker in the Mugs Away Bar which is opposite the Amtrak rail line offered to buy a drink for anyone who would go out and moon at the next train. One drinker took the challenge and it has grown since then to a point where thousands of people take part every year. Many people even travel on the Amtrak on that day especially to see it.

Don't look now but there's a crack on the track!

Here is a video of the Amtrak Moon event from 2005

I think this whole idea is bloody hilarious and maybe we should kick something off like it in the UK, maybe on the platform at Baker Street Station or a bridge over the main east coast rail line in York. Who would be up for that?We already have the Annual Naked Bike Ride in York in June, maybe we can combine it with a rail mooning event.

What I don't get is why there are so many clothes on a naked bike ride

Strangely I was considering a train related post having visited the National Railway Museum in York yesterday with some friends and their two children. So when I saw the Amtrak mooning story on the Beeb I thought I’d combine the two. So here are a few songs relating to trains or mooning. If anyone knows of a song that actually combines trains and mooning then please let me know.

The Train Songshttps://justwilliam1959.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1701&action=edit&message=10

Runaway Train” – Roseanne Cash. She is the eldest daughter of the late, great Johnny Cash. Her first, self titled album, was recorded largely in Germany. It was released in 1978 although not in the USA

Downtown Train” – Rod Stewart. Rod has recently turned down the opportunity to tour again with the remaining members of the Faces and his place is taken by Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. Now I just don’t get that, do you? Glen Matlock off of the Sex Pistols replaces the late, great Ronnie Lane.When speaking of his divorces Rod was allegedly quoted as saying “Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and just give her a house.”

Long Train Runnin‘” – Doobie Brothers. The fledgling Doobie Brothers were called Pud until a friend noted their fondness for smoking doobies (marijuana cigarettes to those of you who were bypassed by drug culture). So not real brothers at all!

Chattanooga Choo Choo” – Glenn Miller Orchestra. Mr Miller was born just two months before my wonderful Nan, Rosie Lavinia Schofield in March 1904. She died aged 93 back in 1998. Glen Miller was recorded as missing presumed dead on 15th December 1944 after his plane ditched into the English Channel

The Moon Songs

Blue Moon” – Marcels. The group who formed in 1959, were named by Fred Johnson’s (who sang bass)Priscilla, after a popular hair style of the day (the Marcell wave)

Under The Moon Of Love” – Curtis Lee. Curtis had a US hit with this song and “Pretty Little Angel Eyes” in 1961, both were produced by Phil Spector and both were covered in the 70s by UK band Showaddywaddy who had a UK number one with “Under The Moon Of Love” in 1976

The Whole Of The Moon” – Waterboys. This song was a minor UK hit in 1985, its progress was hampered by singer Mike Scott’s refusal to appear on the BBC’s Top Of The Pops where he would have had to lip sync the song.

Man On The Moon” – REM, The song is about US comic performer Andy Kaufman. This video is a live performance at a Rock The Vote show and has Michael Stipe duetting with Bruce Springsteen

 

 
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