The thoughts and ocassional ramblings of a 30-something muso.
Hello, I’m a muso. I'm one of those guys you see digging around the racks of vinyl in London's backstreet record shops. I'm not addicted, I can give it up whenever I want. I just need to find that limited edition 7" single that the NME made single of the week. Maybe you've bumped into me in the queue for the bar at The Academy or The Astoria. There are thousands of us in London - I've seen all the regular faces in the record shops and at the gigs.

This blog is my attempt to write about the records that I love, the gigs I've been to and, well, anything else to do with music. Hopefully you'll find something here that makes you nod in agreement or rant in disagreement or maybe even laugh.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Glastonbury Festival, Friday Evening

After The Walkmen play their last triumphant number we head back across to the Other Stage to see Badly Drawn Boy and as a bonus we get the last 3 songs of The Rapture’s set, which hasn’t really changed much since we saw them way back in January.

As the evening sun shines down on Glasters the little fella with the wooly hat shambles on stage - the most unassuming rock star of the festival. His voice is horse from playing a set of pub gigs in the run up to the festival, but that doesn’t stop him some beautiful songs. Last time I saw him play on this stage he played a duet with his girlfriend that had me on the verge of tears. This evening he dedicates songs to his girlfriend and their two children, as well as Joe Strummer, who BDB claims is his inspiration for playing the festival. You see it turns out that Damon wasn’t actually booked to play this festival or any other – in his words “no fucker wanted to book him” – and so he is here as a replacement for Ozzie chancers Jet. We definitely got a good deal and not even BDB’s political rant can take the shine off the set (actually his admission that he’s gone all Bono, except better looking and with a better singing voice is indeering). Can the evening get any better?

Oh yes, because next on are Franz Ferdinand who draw a huge crowd of fans and curious onlookers for their run through their million selling debut album. And so they rattle through the songs with the crowd singing back every lyric. Some of the songs are now complemented by Shadowsesque dance routines but we can’t hold this against them. This band were meant to play festivals and it’s a headline slot on the Pyramid Stage next year or I’ll eat my tent.

Next we zip round to the main stage (with a quick stop for liquid refreshment) to see Kings of Leon. This time last year KoL played the New Tent to a massive crowd, causing the buzz that launched their career. Tonight they’ve been moved to the Pyramid stage and are second from the top of the bill, supposedly by request of Noel Gallagher. Maybe the move up is too much too soon as they look very nervous; maybe it’s the curse of Gallagher (I’ll write about it some other time) jinxing another new band; or maybe the loss of their trademark beards has removed their groove. Either way this evening’s mix of old “classics” and new tracks is a little dull.

Shortly after 10:20 Liam Gallagher swaggers on stage with all the arrogance we’ve come to expect wearing what can only be described as a sleeping bag designed by Versace. The rest of Oasis shable on behind him and launch into Rock and Roll Star and the crowd at the front goes mental. For the rest of us the band appears to be a parody of their old selves, there is no fire driving them anymore and we could be listening to a cover band. Five songs in and the band launch into Columbia and no-one on stage has acknowledged the presence of the crowd out front. We’ve had enough and head off to see The Chemical Brothers.

The Chemical Brothers are Glastonbury stalwarts. I think they’ve played here every year that I’ve attended. They’ve played all of the stages with both “Live” and DJ sets and every one of them has been a blinder. Tonight is a live set and by the time we get around the site to see them they’ve already played a five minute segue of their greatest hits allowing them to wander off into 10 minute explorations of some of the more obscure tracks. Never fear there’s plenty of stuff to keep us amused and the light show is a great distraction from two lab technicians playing keyboards. The set finishes and we wander off towards the stone circle as happy, sun burnt campers.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Glastonbury Festival, Friday Daytime

Back from another blindingly good Glasters full of Sun, Rain, Cider, Veggie burgers and music – more of which in a moment.

But first I’d like to mention the disappointing result in the football and the repercussions. A mindless vandal decided to take out their frustration on our Swiss flag, which we fly at Glastonbury every year. One of our crew heard someone outside during the night and in the morning we awoke to find out flag pole felled and the flag ripped off and missing. A really nice start to the festival. Wankers.

Anyway, spleen vented, on to the music. So who was the best, who was the worse, and who did we miss because we were hiding from the rain. Well all be revealed in the next couple of days but it may take a few days to get it all down.

First band of the weekend for us is Kasabian, who we saw play at The Cabernet War rooms just 1 week ago. We’ve managed to persuade our friends to get over the disappointment of loosing the flag and get down to the Other Stage to check out “Leicester’s answer to the Happy Mondays”, who also sound rather like Primal Scream. General impression – these guys rock.

No sooner have Kasabian played the last note of their set we dash round to the Pyramid stage to see the end of the set by Bright Eyes. For those not familiar with Conner Oberst’s miserable gloom troopers let me summerise – he lives his life under a dark cloud. But not even these songs about death and black ribbons can cloud our day. Top fact – Nick Zinner from the YYYs was playing guitar for Conner today.

Next on our list of bands to see is The Walkmen, but on the way to see them we pass I Am Kloot playing on the Other Stage and hang around for a couple of songs. A few years ago, I Am Kloot put out an album of mellow songs for mellow people and we really enjoyed them. And then the world and his dog put out acoustic chill albums and the whole New Acoustic Movement thing happened. And then The Strokes happened and everybody wanted to play guitars really fast and really loud. Unfortunately this left I Am Kloot a little lost – which is a shame because they really do have some great songs.

So, what do we know about The Walkmen. Well’ they’re from Washington DC and have the same manager as The Strokes. They also have a similar sound – chirpy guitars and scuzzed up vocals that set the New Tent. The band really put everything into the set – the veins stand out on singer Hamilton Leithauser neck as he delivers every lyric.

That's all for today - a review of the rest of Friday's bands tomorrow night.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Off to Glasters

We're so excited, and we can't hide it, we're about to go and we think we like it.

Yep. We're heading down to glasters tomorrow morning. THe weather looks dodgy but hopefully it'll clear by the time we get down there tomorrow and it won't rain again until Saturday. Only time will tell.

Away from the weather I understand there are some bands playing. We're going to try and see Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon and Walkmen. I may go and see Belle and Sebastian to see if the tracks from the last (rather shoddily produced) album sound any good live.

Full report when we get back on Monday.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Managed to see the last 20 minutes of last nights TV program on John Coltrane and was amazed to find out the following nuggets of music trivia:

1/ His masterpiece, A Love Supreme, is a prayer that 'Trane wrote after finally quitting heroin - each syllable of the prayer is spelt out with a note on the saxophone.

2/ Other smack addicts have apparently quit on the spot after hearing A Love Supreme. Maybe Pete Libertine should give it a go. Expect The Libs to venture into Jazz Odyssey if he does.

3/ He died from Liver Cancer rather than an LSD overdose as I had always been lead to believe.

All in all an interesting piece of TV – well done BBC.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Have I mentioned that it's only a week until we head down to Glastonbury for this year's festival ?!?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Just back from seeing Kasabian play a special gig at The Cabinet War Rooms - a pretty good gig with free food and beer, not that that would sway us ;-)

If you're in tomorrow night the BBC have one of their arts programs presented by beardy Alan Yentob, this week focusing on sax genius John Coltrane.

Monday, June 14, 2004
Graham Coxon, Electric Ballroom

It’s the hottest day of the summer so far and whilst our work colleagues are supping lager in the sun we’ve chosen to forgo what may the the only sunshine London may see all year to see Graham Coxon, he of Blur fame, rattle through his rather good post-Blur record.

Cathy Davey - Bjork meets SleeperBut first, as always, a quick report on the support bands. First on is a Cathy Davey and a group of earnest looking musicians. She has some pretty good tunes and a voice that sits somewhere between Bjork and Louise Weener – this means that the good songs, such as the set closer which comes complete with chemical beats, sound like The Sugarcubes; whilst the more, erherm, MOR, songs sound like Sleeper. Yep kids, things go full circle – the Britpop era had Sleeper and now we have Cathy. Whatever next – a garage version of Menswear? Lets hope not. Anyway I’ve probably done Cathy a disservice, she really isn’t that bad.

Graham CoxonNext on are The Futureheads who, in my ignorance, I had assumed were some kind of dance act (Something about that name). How wrong can you be? I’m at the bar when they start their first song and part of me wants to stay at the bar and avoid what sounds like a bad Jam tribute band. They don’t look much better either – something of the Grange Hill School band circa 1984 complete with black trousers and white shirts that appear to be two sizes too small. The lyrics appear to be something about homework and fancying the girl in their French class. Actually, we made that up to make them sound more interesting. In their heads they sound like The Clash. To us the sound, well, dull.

Graham CoxonFor Graham Coxon this is as close to a gig at home as you can get. He only lives just up the road from the venue and has probably just seen his daughter off to bed before arriving at the venue. Maybe this is why Graham looks so relaxed and dare we say happy when he arrives on stage. Or maybe it’s the fact that he knows he has an album cram packed with top pop songs that he’d like to share with us. We always thought that Damon was the one from Blur with all pop songs and Graham was the one with all the “difficult” influences. But now Graham has the tunes and those influences have all been absorbed into the genetics of the new songs – the cover of Magazine’s That’s when I Reach for My Revolver, from Grahams sophomore LP The Golden D (he’s onto his 4th now, the first three were recorded whilst still with Blur) sounds so fresh and has the front few rows pogoing around.

Graham CoxonIt’s not just the songs that remind us of Damon – its Grahams whole stage presence. Gone are the days of standing at the side of the stage looking scared – he now commands the centre of the stage, star jumping at the end of songs and bending over his guitar for the solos.

There’s something for everyone here. The old blur fans get to see their guitar hero up close; The new fans get to hear Bittersweet Bundle of Misery and those of us who have followed the evolution of Graham as a solo artist get to hear the excellent I Wish and some rare B-Sides. Everyone has a great time and the mosh pit engulfs the room for Freakin Out.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Glasto Web Cam

Just under 2 weeks until we head off to Glastonbury for a week of hot spiced cider and to a lesser extent music.

The BBC have their web cam up and running again for this years festival.

They also have a rather nice mini site here

More Libs News

Went to see Graham Coxon last night on his home turf (Camden) for a great gig - review soon. In the mean time there are been several scraps of news concerning Pete Doherty and the Libertines.

On Monday it was roumored that Pete was missing - but then he turned up to play a gig with the band at the launch of a club night on Monday. And then, yesterday, it was reported that Pete had been jetted off to Thialand to spend time with monks trying to shake his habit. Finally, today, there was news that the band have cancelled all forthcoming gigs, including this years Glastonbury appearance.

Monday, June 07, 2004
Pete Libertine Missing

The ongoing saga of Pete Libertine takes another twist as the NME reports that he has disappeared after leaving the Priory (after his second visit).

Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Glastonbury Line Up Announced

In case you haven't heard yet, the Glastonbury line up was officially announced today. No real suprises from the recent rumours, an early evening show on the Other stage for Franz Ferdinand and the Libertines step up to the main stage (although whether Pete will make it or not is unsure at the moment).

Just one question - what happened to Prince. He's been rumoured to be on the bill for the last 3 years only to disappear from the official line up.

Kill Kenada & Jetplane Landing, Islington Academy

Tonight we come to praise of the kings of American alternative music, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Fugazi and Nirvana.

First on are Kill Kenada, a three piece from these shores who have absorbed the influences of Pavement and Nirvana and regurgitated them as jagged pop songs with lots of tempo shifts and crunchy guitars. They seem to have been on tour for most of this year so their is a fair chance that you'll get to see them some time soon.

A couple of years ago I read a review of Jetplane Landing’s first album, Zero For Conduct, and was moved enough to buy it. And what a great record it was – a home recorded, lo-fi gem that made me pine for the long lost Pavement. Tonight they play a couple of tracks from this including the caustic What The Argument Has Changed, but most of the stuff comes from the more recent record, Once Like A Spark, which I have to admit to not hearing.

I have to say that in the last 2 years they’ve morphed from the power pop of the Ash like Summer Ends (from the aforementioned debut LP) to the less immediate There Is No Real Courage Without Real Danger. But during this time they’ve picked up a sizable fan base who are all here tonight for the last night of the UK tour. And the band really appreciate the fans – maybe a little too much – it’s OK to thank them for buying your records and turning up for the tour – but it starts to grate towards the end of the evening when singer Andrew Ferris thanks us (at length) after every song. Maybe he's overcome by the rabid response of the mosh pit, who seem to be oblivious to the subtropical heat in the venue (top tip to the Academy – turn the air conditioning ON!). Watching Andrew on stage is a little disconcerting as he seems to be looking at you directly singing to you. I’ve checked this with a friend who I bumped into at the gig and he felt that he was being addressed directly as well.

Its so great to see a fiercely independent indie band putting out their own records and touring without any major label messing. If you get a chance go and see them.

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