Poem: iWish My Brain Was Like My iPod

iWish my brain was like my iPod,
Designed by Jonny Ive,
Everything stored in memory,
Keeping me alive,
iCould plug my brain in,
To sync with something new,
If it turned out not quite right,
I’d simply click Undo.
If my brain was like my iPod,
I could Pause and Play,
Skip to find the bits I like,
And let the rest just fade away.
If my brain was like my iPod,
All scuffed up and abused,
It surely is the off function,
That would be most often used.

IMG_1651

Poem: iWish My Brain Was Like My iPod

(WMB4X) Give Opinion a Chance

I like a good documentary as much, if not more than the next man. That’s one of the many reasons Netflix is so good lets be honest if you are perusing your local HMV a documentary blu-ray is hardly the most value for money. These are usually one watch affairs.

One documentary title available on Netflix is USA vs John Lennon. This documents the period where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged a few bed-ins to promote the cause of world peace. Because of this activism the FBI held a file on Lennon as a “threat to National Security” they also tried to deport him. Of course in hindsight if they had been successful in that action he would have probably still been alive, as in 1980 when Lennon was shot dead gun culture in Liverpool was as rare as a parked car not up on bricks.

Watching this film got me thinking (as all good films should) Lennon was using his public persona to promote a cause which he believed in. He scared the authorities enough to use american tax payers cash to tap his phone and follow him. Although his personal exposure was raised by this action and record sales were not harmed, I believe this was not the primary purpose. It was always the cause that was forefront of Lennons mind.

Who have my generation got to speak out against the worlds wrongs? Well Bob Geldof yes. Bono?

Strange thing is about Bono. You never hear him going on about political causes when U2 don’t have a album out. As such everything he does has a rather self serving nature to it which de-values the charitable message.

Are they “my generation?” probably yes. But what of the current crop of starlets experiencing that space cadet glow. One Direction, Beiber et al. Nothing off message is aloud. Record company puppets not allowed so much as pube outta place let alone have a strong opinion about any cause. Non opinionated blandness sells. Look at Coldplay.

No opinion doesn’t offend any demographic so it maximises profit for the record company. Music since the beginning of our species has been an important tool of opinion and expression. This period in music is similar to the malaise that existed in the early 60’s America. Bland middle aged men singing songs written in a hit factory, about loving the girl next door and being polite to her Ma and Pa.

The Beatles and that man Lennon stepped off a plane and shook that all up, This generation needs a voice, someone to fill the vacuum. Someone to give a toss. Someone to give peace a chance.

 


Be sure to read the Resident Weebles WMB4X peace (geddit) today

(WMB4X) Give Opinion a Chance

Return of the Frantic Four: Status Quo, Wembley Arena 17/03/2013

As I mentioned in my previous post I was going to try and get tickets to see Status Quo, Reunion Tour. Boy am I glad I did.

I’ve been going to see Quo now for the best part of 15 years. This was my first time seeing the original line up. It was by far the best show I have seen. Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt seem to be energised by the return of the engine room of the band. Drums (John Coghlan) and Bass (Alan Lancaster)

Set List:

1. Junior’s Wailing
2. Backwater
3. Just Take Me
4. Is There a Better Way
5. In My Chair
6. Blue Eyed Lady
7. Little Lady
8. Most of the Time
9. (April), Spring, Summer and Wednesdays
10. Railroad
11. Oh Baby
12. Forty-Five Hundred Times
13. Rain
14. Big Fat Mama
15. Down Down
16. Roadhouse Blues

Encore:
17. Don’t Waste My Time
18. Bye Bye Johnny

If you know your Quo. That is an old school rip-snorting Rock set list, this was the original band. No keyboard distractions, no midsection of the gig where they play a few off the new album. This was a thank you to all those fans who have been following the band for even longer than I. No space for some of the more radio friendly songs here.

Quo “Oh yes, Rockin All Over the World, Right?”

Well yes, but this showed they are so much more. Musicianship, talent and a level of “good time” you don’t get anywhere else.

Quo_Rain

The support band for the evening do deserve a special mention. The Treatment, arrive to the stage accompanied by “Land of Hope and Glory” then proceed to announce every 80’s hair metal song in a mock American style. The lead singer seems to have chosen his stage persona by mixing David Lee Roth, 80’s Jon Bon Jovi, Sebastian Bach and Axl Rose up in a blender. Every song was preceded by a shrill “Come On!” as if he had his bollocks caught in the aforementioned kitchen device. Once you got over that, and accepted them for them. Not bad for support!

The atmosphere was superb once the Frantic Four hit the stage. Nuff and Spud (Lancaster and Coghlan) greeted like returning heroes, with the usually dominant vocals of Francis Rossi taking a back seat until In My Chair. Time flew by. This morning I ache, so it must have been good!!

Another special mention goes out to Barry, a guy who had travelled from Yorkshire to see the show. He was taken ill, shortly after the end of the gig. So we had to wait whilst he received treatment as he was in our row. This had a good outcome as Barry walked away and we were able to see the stage being taken down. Rockin and Techy. If you end up reading this Barry hope you are OK.

QUO_AfterShow

The gig I went to is available to purchase here as an Audio download and it will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray in September.

Return of the Frantic Four: Status Quo, Wembley Arena 17/03/2013

(28DW) Whatever You Want

Following on from The Resident Weebles great piece on musical preference I have a confession. Well I say that, but it shouldn’t be a confession. I should be proud, I am a fan of one of the most successful music acts in British history. However they are spoken of in hushed voices even in bone-fide music circles. This band have appeared more times on Top of the Pops (the once flagship BBC music show) than any other, they opened Live Aid in 1985, to a huge worldwide audience. They have had top ten UK singles and albums for the best part of 40 years. Their live shows are polished but have a uniquely raw quality. If they were American they would be held in high esteem, ala Aerosmith.

They are British. They are straight forward. They are Status Quo.

The frantic four, the original line up of the band, are touring this year for the first time in 30 years. I am waiting to hear back from Wembley box office to see if I have tickets. Fingers crossed. Francis Rossi, Rick Parfitt, Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan. Proprietors of unashamed foot to the floor blues based rock!

Now I like, Hendrix, Floyd and I have been even known to get the Led out. But I have a special place in my heart for Quo. They are my band, the first I saw live. Some may think that this devalues any musical opinion I hold. They are wrong. Francis Rossi once said “Our fans go and see other bands, AC/DC, Metallica, U2 but apparently they turn into wankers when they come to see us.” That is how Quo are viewed, rock lite.

Maybe this is because of the perceived simplicity of the songs the old joke that Quo only use three chords. A perception that Quo themselves parodied for the title of a recent album “In Search of the Fourth Chord” maybe it is also the band’s willingness not to take themselves too seriously that has led perception too. Yes there have been plenty of PR faux pas over the years, namely taking Radio 1 to court and the mid to late 1990’s cover album phase. 3 albums, (Don’t Stop, Riffs and Famous in the Last Century) all contained hardly any Quo penned songs.

All of Quo’s mid 70’s albums are classics. That should be spoken about in the same sentences as Led Zepellin vol 1 or even Pink Floyds Dark Side of the Moon. Instead they have become a guilty pleasure, mentioned along with cruise liner acts like Chesney Hawks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the Quo are as musically intricate as Floyd, but like Floyd they are good at what they do, unlike Floyd they are still doing it.

Quo are the reason I have my hair long and my guitar (that I can’t play) is a Fender Tele (well the cheaper Mexican version.) Whilst they may frustrate me with the same set list tour after tour or the lack of willing to release acoustic material, maybe I am expecting too much. If you however want a band who you can go see and have a great time, with songs that even the most avid listener of 1xtra will know (almost by osmosis) Quo are your band. Hurry before they retire and leave space for another bland-o-band on their labels books.


Please check out the work of my 28DW Comrades at The Resident Weeble and A Piece of Pandemonium 

(28DW) Whatever You Want

Trains, Delays and Ben Folds Plays: Bristol Academy 23/11/2012

Strange day. Strange decisions. If you have read my pieces about music before you will know I like to know details of the bands I like. I research musical influences, old stuff, new stuff, producers. I like Ben Folds. This like is strange for me because the interest was started by a Tim Minchin song lyric:

“He likes Ben Folds and the Jackson 5…” From Rock n Roll Nerd.

I got several albums. Liked those so when I heard he was touring small(ish) venues in England I thought it would be nice to see him. I knew of the Ben Folds Five, but had not researched in the slightest. In hindsight this was probably a bad idea, the first of many.

Mr Folds had decided to play in two viable venues for me. The Bristol O2 Academy or the Brixton Academy London. I’ve been to the latter before and hated it, so Bristol it was. Second bad idea. Around the time I booked the tickets I had been to the Bristol Hi-Fi show and travelled by train. So I thought it would be good to go by train for the gig. Third bad idea.

Due to a worrying waste of time meeting at work earlier in the week, the gig crept up on me. Train tickets not brought in advance, money! Floods in-between Reading and Bristol a concern. Also upon checking the timetables last train to Reading was due at 10:35pm meaning we would have to leave the gig early! Yet gig tickets were brought so we went for it. Half of our touring party wanted to visit Bristol Zoo so they left earlier than I.

Train from home to Bristol went fine. Was busy for a Friday afternoon but even managed to find a seat. The plan was to get the bus to the venue from the station. However I decided to use my Bus App which unhelpfully highlighted every Park and Ride only bus. So we walked, bewildered and slightly unsure of where we were headed, round in circles for the best part of 45 mins. My ankle shouting so many expletives at me even the local drunks off of Church Lane were embarrassed.

Halfway through our trek, losing hope of finding the venue. In the distance appeared a wondrous sight. My traveling companion and I thought it may have been a mirage. The glass fronted Brew Dog bar. My heart be still, my tired legs rejoice flavourful beer was in reach. We stepped inside the warm welcoming place, my glasses steaming up. We were guided through the choices of draft beers by knowledgeable and friendly staff. A good pint was had, I had very little time to realise that the place was filling up. This seemed like a good meeting point for our zoo visitor friends, so contact was made.

Upon our successful rendezvous we embarked on the second leg of the journey, to find the venue and collect tickets. Due to my sociable smoker friend, we had inside knowledge and found the venue in relative ease, tucked behind the Bristol Hippodrome. It looked like an industrial factory. Tickets collected we headed in with a few minutes to spare. The venue is standing only, so I had arranged seats (sounds silly that doesn’t it) up on a platform for our party. We we led through the bowels of the Academy to the platform. The security staff were again friendly. However this was my view of the stage.

Not good. The people in front of me were in wheelchairs, they had to kneel up in those chairs to see over the pictured metal bar. This had the offshoot of me only being able to see the bassist for 90% of the gig. As I am admirer of Ben Folds musical ability on the piano not being able to see this was a huge disappointment. The gig started slowly, with technical issues effecting the performance. My audiophile friend seemed to pick up that one of the speakers on the PA was blown, thus effecting the quality of the sound. That coupled with my lack of view and unfamiliarity with the work of the Ben Folds Five meant that this was not the best gig experience.

I have never been to a gig where I could hear so many people talking, for the first 5 or 6 songs there was a constant hum of conversation. Mid set the Five (surprised me that they are a 3 piece band) hit the speed and showed that they could indeed play, with loose form jams about toilets. However by this point my focus was on the clock.

I had it in my mind that I must leave at 9:50pm at the latest. To make sure we didn’t miss the poorly thought out last train home. Much to annoyance of my friends, we missed the encore. We found a taxi, and headed back to Bristol Temple Meads. Only to find out the train had been delayed. 22:35 became 22:50, 23:12, 23:20. We could have seen the 1st encore and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Damn it!

We sat in the cold. Discussing the merits of a Cheese and Chicken Tikka crepe. The train got later and later. My home town had never felt so welcoming. My bed seemed like the greatest place ever. As the expected arrival time of our train came closer we moved to the platform. Only for them to move it. At this point I was ready to kill anyone with even the vagest connection to the railway. Yes in my head I plotted to kill Thomas the Tank Engine. 23:40 train arrived. We boarded it and 10 mins later we were on the way home.

At some point in the journey, we were treated to a drunken American explaining the virtues of Mitt Romney to a follow passenger, at great volume and at great repetitive length. Also the train driver sounded on his announcements that he was either drunk or high!

Moral of the story. Never travel by train to see a band that you have very little clue about. Even if there is nice beer involved.

Trains, Delays and Ben Folds Plays: Bristol Academy 23/11/2012

Poem: Obsession

My latest obsession,
Joining a long line,
Of not so many passing fads,
My obsessions tend to stick,
Merely lessen in intensity.
From Here (Obsession) to Eternity

She sings like a tainted Angel,
Fallen but not too far,
A delicate fragile power,
A real soul, backed but not manufactured,
In tune,
Not on autopilot.

Not a virtuoso,
But her public saxophone rings strong,
Girl and guitar minus whimsy,
Brings a bite to her melody,

She hangs in the charts,
Like a original masterpiece  in a gallery full of fakes,
A refreshing  beauty,
To warm the heart,
To truly embrace the song,
You must love the singer,
Is your love big enough?

Buy a modern musical masterpiece here

Poem: Obsession

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday James Marshall Hendrix.
Anyone who is unaware of the work of Mr Hendrix please open up a new tab on your browser. Google or hell even Bing him. Go to You Tube educate yourself. If you like music, any music, from Rock to RnB, Soul to the long drawn out death rattle brought about by the terminal flatulence that is x-factor. All contemporary music will have in some way shape or form been influenced by him.

The “wild man” persona is what some people choose to see. Hard drugs and burning of guitars. Yet this Jimi himself didn’t like. He was a blues man, recording all that he could via a small tape recorder. He worked hard for a break, touring across America sometimes on a diet of day old donuts and left overs procured from local shop staff. LSD was present in jimi’s life, this was the 60’s he wasn’t Mr Clean. He did however play music from his heart. Experimenting with sounds, adapting equipment until it delivered the required acoustic quality. He had a love for the music.

Had he been alive today I can only surmise what he’d be doing. I would hope it wouldn’t be a ill advised concept album with Metallica. Some people have said he would have continued pushing our sonic boundaries. This is surely true but with the ever tighter grip of the music money men, I believe he would have grown weary of recording. Getting pleasure instead from jam nights in his soho blues club.

There is lots of hyperbole surrounding the artist deceased. It does nothing to detract from record sales. Take Jesus for example! No star is more deserving of this posthumous praise than Jimi, he changed the game. Sold more guitars for Fender than any amount of marketing could Happy Birthday from a world that produces banal uninteresting music, you are sadly missed.

Happy Birthday