Shameless Nudity

It would seem that at least one person has visited this blog in the last week in the hope of seeing pictorial evidence of Lady GaGa‘s lady parts, judging by the search engine referrers list. How quaint. Not that kind of site, I’m afraid. I’m really resisting some weak pun linking this information and the new Bloc Party single. Oh, just do it yourself, you know you want to.

Anyway, I’m still suffering a bit of Glasto withdrawal. What am I supposed to watch on the telly now? I know, it’s hardly the same as those people who actually depressed at no longer physically being in Pilton, but I so love the five-screen red button pleasure. Maybe it is that kind of site after all? Blur was everything I’d hoped they’d be and they genuinely seemed to be bombarded with love by the enormous crowd. Admittedly, watching Jo Whiley nearly crying and Zane Lowe over-analysing some songs, played by a band, on a stage, was pretty disturbing but I still went to bed happy, despite their best efforts. I particularly enjoyed viewing the rest of the night’s footage the following evening via Sky+ and finding a really-quite-pissed Mark Radcliffe confusing the hell out of lovely Lauren Laverne. She genuinely seemed surprised by how ridiculous Radcliffe was being. Brilliant, but ridiculous. The best TV presenting I’ve ever seen him do. In fact, I loved it so much I went out and bought his recently published memoirs. I also picked up new musical writing magazine/glossy-book-thing Loops – a joint venture by Domino Records and Faber & Faber. I’ll report back on what could be an exciting new development in due course, but I think Norman Records summed it up quite nicely in their review: “It’s an attractive little thing, all glossy and professional-looking with words in it from such legendary titans as Nick Cave (who seems to be writing largely about Avril Lavigne‘s vagina), Nick Kent, David Shrigley, Jon Savage, Simon Reynolds… Erm. It smells really nice too. You should probably buy one!” Hmm. I sense the Lady GaGa fans returning via Google again, anytime soon.

I think I’m coming round to the idea that La Roux‘s ‘Bulletproof’ is one of the singles of the year. It’s crept up on me and now I really, really like it. She does need to smile a bit though. She still has that look of the aggressively curious baby. You know the type. Friend shows you baby, you’re supposed to say ‘awww, how sweet’, but, on this occasion, you nearly soil yourself at the sight of ugly baby glaring at you angrily. That’s what she looks like in the video. Ten times more disturbing than any banned Manics album art. Still, the song is brilliant.

The Duckworth Lewis Method‘s album is now actually available for purchase and, as my review has appeared in print, I guess I can gush about it on here now. It’s a wonderful new set by Neil Hannon and Thomas Walsh (of Pugwash fame-ish) that is a delight from the first second to the last. Joyous and unashamedly pop, it rips off the embarrassing side of 70s pop/rock, wafts off into classic Divine Comedy balladry and takes a brief detour into Noel Coward country. (For all Googlers, that was count-ry, ok?) There are some iTunes bonus tracks that they’re currently allowing you to buy individually to go with your proper shop-bought copy of the album (which is in a lovely digipak) but I’m not sure that that will always be the case. HMV in Leicester had a whole chunk of the Artists Alphabetical section set aside for this album’s physical release tomorrow. Bodes well for sales.

Other music I’m thoroughly enjoying but not especially willing to write a lot about right now: Ohbijou, My Latest Novel and Banjo Or Freakout – all brilliant, all on Bella Union (do they ever get it wrong?) The Hot 8 Brass Band and some classic Tony Christie. You know you want to.

Madness. Divine.

An old man thrusting his crotch forth and lifting his shirt in the street would be a pervert. Put him on a stage in Pilton and it’s entertainment. Apparently. Just ask Tom Jones. Still, at the same time they were showing Tony Christie on the red button and he was fucking marvellous. What an entertainer. After a bit of drifting around the red button options and watching Mark Radcliffe freezing Lauren Laverne out of the Tom Jones interview, we were then treated to Madness who, if I’m being absolutely honest, were the highlight of the weekend’s coverage thus far. Bursting with energy and possessing a setlist of pure quality, they proceeded to entertain and delight for the best part of an hour’s telly viewing. The massive bouncing accompanying ‘House Of Fun’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’ was really rather charming and speaking of massive bouncing, did anybody notice how the director included a shot of a female member of the crowd displaying her breasts for all and sundry? I’m sure there’s a great reason related to artistic integrity, but I’m buggered if I can think of it right now. Jarvis and Yeah Yeah Yeahs looking good on the red button, although they’ve only just appeared and were on at the same time, so may need to nip to the BBC site for some catchup action tomorrow.

Blur soon…

(Slightly) Bored In The Uk

Clearly, Glastonbury is not best experienced from your sofa and, as such, any comments I make about the festival are entirely limited to the BBC coverage. But, this year really doesn’t seem to have hit the highs of recent Glastos, at least from the couch potato’s perspective. The red button content has been pretty limited and not especially exciting. Fewer new bands seem to have been shown and the waffle quota from the presenters seems to have been doubled at the very least. God bless the like of Gideon Coe and the ever-charming Adam & Joe on 6music for their sterling efforts in terms of bringing the festival to those us dotted around the country.

Franz Ferdinand, as much as I love their recent album – normal and dub version, were good but failed to thrill, while Bruce Springsteen was a tremendous presence, in fine voice but as extraordinarily lengthy as he always is. Glasto is perhaps not the time to test people’s endurance and from a TV perspective it was time to press the red button. Except there was bugger all on there.

As with 2007, Maximo Park offered a wonderful performance and the thirty minutes of their set that got shown several thousand times on the aforementioned additional channels was hugely enjoyable, even if Paul did use the same line about how grateful they were for people coming to see them despite the choice that they used last time. Ultimately, I just keep thinking about how long it is until we get to see Blur. Not long now. I wonder if my extreme anticipation for Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave is spoiling everything else for me? Or it could just be because I’m pissed off at being riddled with hay fever and too sodding warm. And there’s a heatwave coming.

Anyway, keep yourself amused during today’s early evening broadcast by searching Twitter for the Edith Bowman hate campaign; it’s oddly addictive. The failure to use Phill Jupitus this year is a screw up on the Beeb’s part and the continued banishment of Adam & Joe from presenting duties on BBC3 due to some Rolf Harris incident seven years ago seems ludicrous. As always, thirty minute video highlights from some of the artists are available from the BBC Glasto site, as are the 6music shows broadcast over the weekend.

Glasto update #3

Glastonbury on BBC3 is a bit of chore this year. Isn’t it meant to be fun? Don’t I normally really enjoy this? I’m struggling to think of anything particularly splendid thus far. Doves were great, but then they always are. I mentioned The Hot 8 Brass Band on Twitter, and they’re pretty great. For more, pick out last night’s BBC2 show (the 11.20 one) from iPlayer. They’re very near the start. Apparently, Kasabian are ‘absolutely killing’ on the main stage right now, according to Bowman. Follow Bowman loathing via the Twitter account. She’s just said Kasabian in a ‘comedy’ way. Oh, she’s so ironic.

Hello to whoever runs Maps‘ myspace page, by the way. Assuming you come back for a second time!

Lady GaGa: Making Bowman’s shorts seem lengthy

I don’t suppose it helps that we all know that Blur, Springsteen, Madness and are all still to come, but Friday at Glastonbury seemed rather underwhelming from the comfort of my sofa. As if to add insult to injury, almost all of the presentation team seemed completely incompetent. I can only assume that Edith Bowman has some very incriminating photos of someone very important at the Beeb because she surely doesn’t keep getting rehired on the basis of her actual work. Combine her with the ever-so-slightly too excited Reggie Yates and Jo Whiley, who seemed unable to utter any error-free sentences last night, and the links proved excruciating. The only saving grace was the increasingly enjoyable double act between the lovely Lauren Laverne and the equally lovely (though not in quite the same way) Mark Radcliffe, who seems to be getting younger with every passing year.

Musically, things weren’t much better. Lily Allen offered reasonably tuneful renditions of some of her splendid pop nuggets whilst being only ever seconds away from a wardrobe malfunction. A crisis was averted, unlike during Lady GaGa‘s performance, which prompted Laverne to actually ponder on air as to whether she was wearing any pants during the performance. Whichever way you look at it (and I’d recommend hands over the eyes) the performance was an unpleasant affair. Staging right out of 1970s excess and costumes right out of the necessary inches, one of the possible pop moments of the weekend fell flat.

Fleet Foxes were gently splendid but hardly likely to set the pulse racing. Unlike The Specials, however, who offered a blistering festival set, musically tight and vocally marvellous. Terry Hall even smiled briefly. It was quite brief. Blink and you miss it brief. But smile, he did. Doves, for the few songs they were oh-so-graciously allowed, were as outstanding as their recent tour suggested, ‘Kingdom Of Rust’ confirming its place in the pnatheon of Doves classics. Bloc Party were as distressing as you might imagine. Do any of the band apart from Kele even want to be there now? They don’t give that impression. Everything I saw of theirs seemed nearly-but-not-quite, much like their recent records. That reminds me, I need to review their new single at some point.

Jack Penate was hugely excited but forgot that jumping up and down whilst singing doesn’t tend to allow for a tune to be held. Or ever veered close to. Little Boots still sounded a bit too nasal to me. Something about her doesn’t quite click with me, but I can’t put my finger on it just yet. The Maccabees and White Lies were so inoffensive I can’t really remember anything their sets on which to comment.

I was thinking the other day about who would be this year’s Ting Tings. You know, hideously shouty, out-of-tune, technically inept vocals and ramshackle musical beige. As it happens, it’s the fucking Ting Tings. They were back. No new songs. Same shite performance as last year, just a bigger stage. How exciting.

Anyway, M Ward, Bon Iver, Jarvis, Maximo Park, Franz, The Low Anthem, Kasabian and The Boss all peform today, amongst many others. How much of such good stuff will make it to air, I’ve no idea. After all, we need to spend five minutes in car park while some vacuous girl with a big tongue interviews security before Edith and Reggie talk about how they dance to certain bands. God bless the red button.


An enormous sense of wellbeing

It now actually feels a bit like it never happened. Last night, sweating furiously and surrounded by several thousand like-minded obsessives, I saw Blur at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall. They were probably better than I’d hoped. And I’d had very high hopes for this show. So utterly powerful was this Blur performance that ‘Country House’ sounded like a world beater. Seriously.

The smiles barely dropped from the faces of all four of them across the entire evening and Graham’s not especially graceful backwards roll during ‘Popscene‘ seemed to sum up how they felt about being back on stage together after nine years. Damon doesn’t appear to have aged, in fact he looks an awful lot younger than he did when promoting ‘The Good, The Bad & The Queen’ two years previous. Alex remains one of the coolest performers gracing a stage in modern music, even if he does now tuck his T-shirts in and sweat in the strangest places. After opener ‘She’s So High’ came to an end, Dave looked out at the crowd in wonder and seemed genuinely affected by the response. Rather charmingly, that same look appeared on his face after every subsequent song, resulting in him throwing his sticks crowdwards at the end of the first encore.

Musically, they sounded indecently good for a band that are only five gigs in to the return from a sizeable lay off. Graham’s much vaunted performance on ‘Out Of Time’ was subtle but wondrous and the added brass and backing singers were deployed in an understated fashion to great effect. ‘Tender’, with its multiple false endings, seemed set to reduce the entire crowd to slightly weepy, grinning idiots but it was ‘Beetlebum‘ that seemed to leave Damon choked. He took a moment to thank the audience for its response, a response that was dished out to much of the night’s setlist. The singing was near constant, the bouncing not far behind. Fair play to the slightly chubby teen who suddenly appeared next to me towards the end of the set, clearly barely able to stand, drenched in sweat and more than a little emotionally overcome. He wasn’t alone. The audience reaction was startling and, while I fully anticipated coming across as a crazed loon, I don’t think I’d quite imagined that every other attendee would be the same. Welcomed like heroes and sent on their way by minutes of applause, Blur truly delivered.

I can’t really pick a highlight as there wasn’t a moment where I wished they’d chosen a different song or a performance that didn’t quite take off. It was a consummate performance from one of our very best bands. That said, ‘For Tomorrow’, ‘This Is A Low’, ‘Popscene’, ‘Trimm Trabb’ and ‘The Universal’ were genuinely rather moving from where I was standing. Inevitably, I’ve popped a few YouTube videos below to illustrate my point, although I would still send you dashing off to the post with the videos from Colchester for some startlingly good amateur footage. Rest assured, Glastonbury has its highlight in waiting. What with Blur occupying the Sunday night slot, it’s a fairly safe bet that the majority of the set will be shown on BBC2 without too much Whiley interference. Cancel everything, turn the telly up and enjoy.




Just after posting this, I read that Steven Wells, you’ll have known him as Swells, had died at the age of 49. I am a music press obsessive and anyone who read the NME while Swells was writing for them will remember what made him such a great writer. Whatever else he was (and he oh-so-fucking-many things) he was absolutely hilarious. While so few of us that attempt to write about music ever get close to the linguistic perfection that Swells could achieve, he was an inspiration for so many people. I may have to do a detailed review of the new Bloc Party single in tribute to him tomorrow. All the best, Swells. Your time on earth will be remembered by many for a very long time.

Swells’ last article

NME tribute