Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20, 2015 at 02:04AM

What's this DO Note recipe do then? And why on earth am I not going to sleep?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Question Time

There was a rumble on last night's Question Time, as populist right wing character - and QT regular - Nigel Farage, was a guest alongside popular comedian/activist/florid purveyor of lexicon Russell Brand.

The main thing anyone seemingly will remember from the set-to is Brand denouncing Farage as a "pound shop Enoch Powell." On the face of it, some zinger. Until you think about UKIP more closely.

The main financial backers of UKIP are lapsed Tories, worshippers at the font of Thatcher, who you suspect would be in the "Enoch was right" camp.

The target audience of UKIP, being bombarded with propaganda that all Britain's ills are due to foreigners - either politicians, bureaucrats or immigrants - are, due to the current economic mess, worsened by ideological austerity, people can only afford the pound shop, if they can afford anything at all. UKIP pretend that they are the answer to their problems, not bothering to say that their solution is basically the Tory party with absolutely no compassion.

Forty years of relentless lies and distortion, coupled with politicians too cowardly to confront these lies, and Britain ends up with a political party leader who could have been the antagonist in a George Formby film? Turned out shite again.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott @ The Academy

I blogged here a while ago about my first gig, The Beautiful South at Leeds Town & Country Club in 1994.

Last night was a reunion of sorts, twenty years on and 200 miles west, in a different country.

Since that first gig, I've seen Paul Heaton numerous times, either with The Beautiful South or solo. Various small and large venues across the UK and Ireland, football stadia, fields in Somerset, even a café in Manhattan.

But this promised something different, albeit familiar. No longer solo, Jacqui Abbott would be back on stage alongside him. And they had a fantastic new album to show off, which they did from the start.

The crashing opening of "Some Dancing To Do" brought the band on stage, followed by Paul and Jacqui. And then Jacqui sang and I was suddenly years younger. One of the best female voices of recent pop has lost nothing in it's absence. I once read a review about Eddi Reader saying she could sing the telephone directory and it would still sound fantastic - the same applies to Jacqui.

But there was Heaton's back catalogue to be plundered, and each song brought a flood of memories.

"Old Red Eyes Is Back" triggered the memory of being tossed around the floor at that first gig like flotsam in a human sea.

I had forgotten just how good "Prettiest Eyes" was - I don't recall ever hearing it live. (Maybe one in a big shed somewhere?) It also resonated with me much more than it did in my single days.

"Rotterdam" - I was still word perfect after all these years. Naturally "Irish stout" got a huge cheer. (This also brought to mind the single's B-side "Pollard". Do look for it online.)

"Dream A Little Dream" (yes, not a Heaton original) - Christ, I spent seven quid of my student loan on an import CD of that!

"I'll Sail This Ship Alone" was my highlight of "Welcome To The Beautiful South" - and here it was being sung in front of me.

And from further back in time, gems from The Housemartins' brief burst of glory - including my first sight of P.D.Heaton on noisy guitar for a splendid "Me And The Farmer".

As usual, Paul had plenty of entertainment between songs: the dichotomy of Tayto crisps in the thirty two counties, a tale of a Battle of the Bands competition that involved Gary Glitter, an art competition...

One of the best gigs I've been to in ages. New songs fitting perfectly alongside old songs - some of which I'd never heard live or never thought I'd hear again.

All in all, brilliant.

And welcome back Jacqui! (The blokes stood behind me were certainly happy to see you.)

Set list:
Some Dancing To Do
Old Red Eyes Is Back
Costa Del Sombre
Prettiest Eyes
Moulding Of A Fool
We're Not Deep
The Snowman
When It Was Ours
Dream A Little Dream
Don't Marry Her
The Right In Me
Good As Gold
Happy Hour
I'll Sail This Ship Alone
Me And The Farmer
Loving Arms
Caravan Of Love

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saying the unsayable

To all those politicians and media commentators (you know who they are) who "say the unsayable" - stop talking rot.

1) The things you are saying are perfectly sayable - obviously so as they are spewing out of your mouth.

2) People who want to say those things, already say those things. They don't need somebody to claim to speak on behalf of them - everyone in earshot has already heard them and already made up their mind.

3) The people who choose not to say those things may have conciously done so as those things are either:
a) prejudiced
b) unpleasant
c) some form of "-ism"
d) patently untrue based on personal experience, research or that commonly missing human value of "not being a dick"

Saturday, April 5, 2014

It was twenty years ago today...

...Tuesday, 5th April 1994, that I went to my first gig. The Beautiful South, at Leeds Town and Country Club.

I'd bought my ticket a few weeks earlier, not sure from where - but not the T&C's box office, as I headed into Leeds on the bus not 100% certain where I was supposed to be going. Cookridge Street wasn't one of the usual places I went when in Leeds.

Anyway, it must have been the school holidays, as Easter Monday was the day before. I suppose I was a little nervous, entirely unknowing what a gig entailed. I must have had a coat, but I think I tied it around my waist - as a poor sixth form student, yet to earn the big bucks from a Saturday job at Maplin, I probably skipped the charge.

I bought a programme - another fresher mistake. This had to be stuffed into the gap between my coat and jeans, at the mercy of any spilled drink or overenthusiastic jostling. Fortunately, it survived and lived with my other gig memorabilia* for many years. There was a quiz inside, win a day's drinking with The Beautiful South. Even though I was not yet of boozing age, I entered. I completely misunderstood one question, so my liver was saved. (I'd have fallen asleep after the fourth or fifth pint in any case.)

What I remember of the T&C is that there was a rather grand staircase from the main doors, up to the box office and through into the auditorium. This was a tall, white plastered room, reminiscent of a church.

What do I remember of the gig? Not much. A few things peer through the fog of time:

1. The first song, "Minicorrect". It was rumoured to have been one of the reasons for Briana Corrigan having left the band, due to its lyrical content, alluding to S&M and abusive relationships. I already had two versions on CD: a loud, fast demo that was B-side to "Good As Gold", and the languid, string-drenched album track on "Miaow". What speed it was played at, I forget. The single memory I have is the stage lighting turning, shining bright yellow lights over the audience, absolutely flooding the place. I never again heard it played live.

2. "Old Red Eyes Is Back". One of my favourite Beautiful South songs, and judging by the human tidal surge, many other people's too. I think I went across the room at least twice - all the way over to the right, then all the way over to the left, then finally back to the middle.

3. The albino man and his little friend. There was a guy, quite old, who wore white, had white hair, and looked quite out of place at any gig. He stood stoically still, a few metres away from me. He had a friend with him, who looked for all the world like Ronnie Corbett. I saw the albino guy at other gigs - most bizarrely, Garbage, also at the T&C, but Ronnie Corbett was never with him. Perhaps he was at the golf course.

4. Encores. Being my very first gig, I wasn't entirely familiar with the concept of the encore, let alone two. I can't remember what songs were included - possibly Woman In The Wall or 36D. (The main set had closed with one of them, the other was definitely in the encore.) Fortunately, being in the middle of the crowd, and also not having to race for a bus home for school in the morning, I held my ground. A rare moment of copping on that the rest of the audience were not moving either.

5. The support act were called Frente! and came from Australia. They might have appeared in "Home and Away" at some point. They had an album called "Marvin the Album". Other than that, I couldn't tell you anything about them.

So that was my first gig. I saw The Beautiful South again at the end of the year at Hull Ice Arena - just as Carry On Up The Charts was beginning to sell like hot cakes. There were many more after that - bigger sheds in Sheffield, Manchester and Dublin, the whatever-it-was-called-at-the-time stadium in Huddersfield (once supporting R.E.M., another their big 'South v North' show), a trip to London to Islington Carling Academy, and a hastily arranged set in a New York record shop/cafe as a planned concert had been cancelled.** I've also seen Paul perform in the Leftfield tent at Glastonbury, Billy Bragg joining in with a cover of "White Man In Hammersmith Palais".

I expanded my gig going horizons beyond The Beautiful South, and I've lost count of how many I've been to in total. My first four years in Dublin racked up at least a gig per month, the rate now slowed somewhat now I've other priorities.

Still, roll on June 7th!

* A pile of ticket stubs, T-shirts, postcards and other gubbins, in a drawer, under my bed.

** I happened to be on holiday in NYC at the time, it wasn't planned the other way around. Although I once did go to Brussels to meet up with other TBS fans who were members of the List For Whoever mailing list.