Diario

  • A Good Man Goes To War

    Giu 4 2011, 14:45

    Here's my little playlist inspired by the trailer and prequel for tonight's Doctor Who.

    So we have a mysterious woman who's all "I'm Searching With My Good Eye Closed look at my lovely eye patch". The Deep Blue Fatman recognises they're heading for an Eon Blue Apocalypse if they continue to Make War. He's been listening to the Headless Funky Monks to find out they're going to be By Demons Be Driven when the good One Man Army goes to war. But hey Today We Are All Demons so we should all Run Like Hell. Sounds about right.
  • FINALLY! 2009 meets its match.

    Set 19 2010, 14:13

    Took me a while, but here's my pick of the music of 2009:

    Crack the Skye is intricate and vast and ambitious and mythic and snarling and soothing and everything you'd expect from [the mighty] Mastodon, but nothing grabs me by the throat and flings me about (like a ragdoll) the way their last two albums did. Nothing gets under my skin and makes me bleed at the beauty of it all, but I'll happily recline in this heavy monument.

    My Maudlin Career has some nice moments, it's pretty enough, but, you know, not that memorable, really. Gentle. And sometimes you need gentle. But.

    Awwwwwwww I do adore Patrick Wolf and I don't understand why he's not more well known. Is he just too good and people feel inadequate when they hear him? The Bachelor is beautiful and inventive, vibrant and strong, alive with personal and global political commentary. Is he a minstrel who wandered off with his viola into a futuristic sci-finiverse? Is he an alien android who fell through time, finding his synthesiser had morphed with a ukelele,and sings to ward of the black death? Stainless steel, space age folk music, that's what it is. The Sun Is Often Out makes me cry. 'Was your work of art so heavy that it would not let you live/you'll be missed' *choked sob* 'they're throwing flowers in the river/tears are being shed/you'll be missed'. I can see it, I'm there: the little detail, the understatement. Aww. An assertion of 'no one will wear my silver ring' in the title track is a nice way of dealing with feeling alienated by social norms and rejected by the ones you adore. If you change your phone number you can't feel sad that no one's calling. Love the righteous anger, the metallic clash of Battle 'If you're sick of being a victim /of their ignorance/ then battle/ the conservative...This is our battle.' I could write an essay on each and every track, but instead I'll just say this is a wonderful and unique piece of diverse marvel. Possibly my favourite of the year. Hard times.

    Metric's Fantasies is a neatly produced package of intelligent indie pop stuff. Emily Haines' laid back vocals, catchy lyrical hooks, a pleasing variety of sounds and mood. Great for an enthusiastic singalong, and although it touches on darker places, and is quietly mournful in places, the trajectory of the album as a whole is uplifting leading up to the almost aggressively affectionate: 'no one's getting out/without stadium love'. Favourites being the sorrowful, resigned Blindness: 'Send us a blindfold, send us a blade/Tell the survivors help is on the way' and the playful, infectious: 'oh seriously/you're gonna make mistakes...Come on baby play me something/ like Here comes the sun' of Gimme Sympathy.

    Rammstein's Liebe ist für alle da is not their best, but even when weakened, they're millions of miles better than pretty much everything else and possibley My Favourite Band Of All Time. Maybe. Grandiose while humble, dark and silly, heavy and beautiful. Has man become machine, or are the machines learning to speak human? And how could a bitter old spinster like me not melt at the title track? And their live show is CATEGORICALLY the most marvellous thing that has ever graced a stage.

    La Roux is like a mate who's great fun to hang out with but then you never remember to call her.

    Was surprised how much I like The Blueprint 3. Although it has all that hippity hoppity swagger, the confidence is really endearing, like it's both justified, but humble. 'this is your song not mines[sic]' (and yes that particular use of English DOES make me sick.) Unfortunately it's another that sees me dancing at bus stops, but also grinning at gangs of hoodies saying 'hey' 'ho' in a hip hop style, like I am down with the kids, which is rarely a good move for a woman in her thirties. I love how the music is all put together, forgive the clumsiness of my language here, but all these bits have been cut up and rearranged and it's a lovely, seamless scrapbook of sound. Although I actively hate the Keys and Hudson songs. Actively.

    I frequently embarrass myself in public because of lstening to Incredibad, partly for that stupid dancing I do, and partly for the laughoutlouding. I'm no expert on hippity hoppity music, I'm not afraid to admit, but it seems to me the only thing they took seriously about this project was the music. It's lovely. A beautiful veneer, holding everything together and giving it purpose. Comedy music so often falls flat because attention to one dilutes the other, but they're so silly, so immersed in their interpretation of the world, but have a respect for the music so it works. All I can say (with my voice breaking) is: DING DONG. NORMAL GUY IN THE HOUSE. And smile intensely.

    Far another case of not-her-best-work-ever, but I love Regina and will hear no bad said against her. The voice is still amazing, even if the tone and content is maybe a little tame. Love the plonk plonk warmth and optimism of Folding Chair and her evocation of gorgeous guttural dolphin song. Lots to love a lot. And yes, I will marry you, Regina Spektor, you have but to ask me.

    Today We Are All Demons is probably my favourite album of the year. Probably. If I were the type to go for hierarchies. It floats along, cushioned by clouds I'd associate with disposable euro-pop, euphoric synthesised melodies that see me nodding at bus stops and swaying at the sink, and has this jackbooted precision and cold hearted aggression with it. A harsh inhumane rhythm of a cold but clever industrial soundscape. The perfect album for improving a bad mood, for any bad mood. The wetmouthed 'without pain [tinkle piano tinkle tinkle] life is not worth living in the title track. Mmm. And, gasp, the out-of-body gorgeousness of At the End of It All. 'what became of me/never hurt like this/at de end of it all/a heartless machine...now I stand alone/at de end of it all'. Yes I love the mispronunciation of the voiced dental fricative. The sound of standing on a cliff, facing the onslaught head on, and finding beauty and dignity in your resolve to acknowledge how harsh life can be. A soundtrack to accompany you as you use your astonishing Maths skills that nobody really appreciates to plot the co-ordinates to the Starliner. And I can't help but feel this isn't the best they're capable of, it's like this music HAD to be made, forced its way out, but with honing and training, time and money, the sum of these parts could be so much greater. Which is rather exciting.

    I remember listening to Yours Truly, The Commuter while standing on an open air underground train platform in the depths of east London one time. The dislocation and solitude was necessary to really grasp it for me. The otherworldly, dreamlike flow of I am Lost (and the moment cannot last) 'my concerns have been confirmed' hits me in the abdomen. And writhes there. The simple statement in This Song is the Mute Button of 'I wish I could laugh now/but I'll never see you again' is just heartbreaking. Well it would be, if I had a heart left to break. The fragile beauty of a gerbil in the corner of your cupboard strumming a guitar. A gerbil you'll never free yourself from.

    Was The Crying Light really released in 2009? Seems o7lder, but iTunes says 2009 so I shall discuss. Like a fragile wine glass that's so beautiful and delicate you hardly dare to use it. And of course, you smash it up the first time you attempt to drink from it. But you're left with a beautiful heart shaped scar where you used to have a mouth. I'm certainly not going to analyse anything so ethereal in simple terms of like and dislike. But I really like. Especially the passionate Aeon, and extra especially when that pretty fluttering voice gets all gritty and grr. 'hold that man I love SO MUCH'. Yes. Do. If only I'd remembered the track Epilepsy Is Dancing when me and Tim were having a 'songs including the words DANCE or DANCING' competition for no reason at all, during an afterschool INSET session on the subject of epilepsy. That woulda shut him up once and for all.

    I presume More Heart Than Brains is a tribute to The Goodies and their trandem, although Doctor Graeme Garden hasn't returned my calls, so I can't be sure. Always glad to listen to artists with an ! in their name. I wore the music like a coat bought on a whim that turned out to compliment my eyes rather pleasantly. And then you pop your hand into a pocket you didn't know was there and find a couple of quid. Always something new. And the lyrics are startling and really worth close, closer, closer listens. How could I do anything but love the stuttering 'I'm. So. Lost. I'm. So. Lost.' in No Idea How. Mournful, but not wallowy. Like an expanding universe revealing itself before you, making you feel so small, so small, but also giving you a bit of a WOW.

    Whoever thought there'd be three albums that could be categorised Hip Hop in my top ten? Whoever thought anyone would be audacious enough to ignore the word 'ten' when compiling a top ten. Hmmph.

    It's not often I can listen to an album on repeat these days. It's definitely an under-cover-of-darkness album, made me quite angry when I tried to listen to it in the morning, but Lovetune for Vacuum is certainly that. Combining dark, teutonic piano hammerings (heh), found sounds like a camera shutter or a forgotten telephone ringing in an empty room, with a gorgeously textured, pained, coloured howling, soothing voice. Reminiscent of Nico if we must make comparisons (apparently I must) but far more than just that. Really really beautiful, original (to my ears at least, and I'm not the most adventurous soul.), passionate, sinister, brooding, beautiful, curious. 'When I was a child/I toyed with dirt and I fought/As a child' she intones on Spiracle 'I was a child/I was a child/I was a child/I am a child.' Sob. Apparently it is to be categorised 'classical music', hmm, classical music that's been severely traumatised, probably in a cellar, and then had several body parts replaced with mechanical versions. By skilled seagulls. In a dusty library. At night. Glorious, and definitely a contender.

    Draw the curtains.

    And then there were some albums I couldn't be bothered to listen to properly (or even at all) yet. So it's best I don't decide categorically on A Favourite, really, isn't it? I mean the production on Bonkers made me drop my figurative, vegetarian-alternative-to-porkpie [toast] so maybe one day I'll love the whole album.

    Lovely.
  • 2008, international year of music, east Birmingham.

    Dic 31 2008, 14:37

    2008 is sure to go down in history as the year I was in touch with contemporary music. I seem to recall struggling to put together a top ten this time last year, and here I am juggling with more than double that number of albums I have an opinion on. What larks. Finger on the pulse, ish. I'm sure hanging out at a music festival, with an open mind, and a member of the yoof, didn't hurt.

    Now I'm very much opposed to the putting of things into charts. Suggesting that one piece of art is 'better' than another is nonsense. On different days, for different purposes, in different moods EVERYTHING can change. But I do seem to have firm ideas about my top 3 at least, so I shall attempt to say something about some things I have had some thoughts about.

    I've tried to like Glasvegas, ok not very hard, but I they've a fun name and lots of positive hype, but that man's voice is just too much for me. I don't CARE what he has to say, or how much it might resonate with me, that voice is vile to my ears. I'm a little concerned this might be racism so I'll reassure the world that I have LOTS of Scottish friends. I should wink there, yeah?

    I tried to listen to British Sea Power, and had similar problems. I see what you're trying to do, but no, not for me, thanks.

    Again with the hype, waiting forty three thousand years before releasing the album you've been taunting the music press with throughout that time, brought a little notoriety to Chinese Democracy. I happened to be in a rock bar on the eve of its launch, I won a G n R branded lighter no less! Kinda useless for me, but it's nice to get stuff. I can conclude on this one listening, while psyched up by adrenaline by my team's recent victory, some of this album is ok to have a little dance to. But really I don't care how good it is, if it is, Axl's a cock. That puts me off.

    I'm a massive fan of punctuation, so welcoming another band with '!' in their name into my world was very satisfying this year. Hadouken!'s Music for an Accelerated Culture is bratty, aspartame n fluoride, moral-high-ground glee. Fabulous, but a bit tiring in large doses.

    Yes, Metallica showed us an experienced hand that's still hungry to create something new, living in the moment, and yes Death Magnetic is the best thing they've released in many years, but it doesn't scrape the heavy beauty of the music they made in the eighties. And for a moaning minnie like me, this will get in the way. What is it I want then? No innovation, no change, a bunch of elderly gents endlessly harping back to the 'good old days', trying to rewrite the same old songs, endlessly? Is it? That doesn't sound good. In other words: there's no pleasing some people so you should just try to please yourself. I like this album, the guitars have me pulling ecstatic orgasm faces at certain points, I just don't have much hunger to devour it.

    Similar praise for Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone. When you've loved an album as thoroughly and tenderly as I've loved Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses), and I'm still finding new favourite songs from that, in fact I might possibly have died this year without the defiant survivalism of Opium of the People to steel me, it's hard to hear something new. And Slipknot's albums do tend to have distinctive flavours and textures distinguishing them. So it was a big ask for me to love All Hope Is Gone. Although with a title like that, with who I seem to be, was sure to be something of a hit. They were outstanding when I saw them live the other week, humble, grateful, proud, oh that's for another journal. There are many fantastic songs on this album and I'm looking forward to uncovering their nuances in the coming months of listening. Fair to say they make me a little peckish. I just love the lyric 'no one else can see/the preservation of the martyr in me', encapsulating what I love about Slipknot, the acceptance of the rubbish state of how things are, coupled with a rejection of this, even if the mode of rejection, of reclaiming an identity, is usually brutal and harmful. As if by naming it, shaming it in public, one can overcome what one has been forced to become. Knowledge is power.

    Oh I'm losing patience with this, I want to get to my top five!

    So, racing onwards a little, I learned that fancying the artist was enough of a prompt to download and album thanks to Estelle. I liked the shimmer, sway and sheen of Hercules and Love Affair. Adored the hippity-hoppity, literary, rockity anger of The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, oh Reznor produced, I SEE. Didn't have much time for The Slip, it's ok, just not the gut wrenching, radiant salvation I know that man is capable of. Lights in the Sky does woo me, however. X Marks Destination didn't have the 'slipper wearing uncle is an electro god' vibe I suspected The Whip were capable of from their live personae. Santogold is great.Volume One is lovely.

    And other things, now to my top five. Yay. We have:

    In the shadow of much appreciated earlier work, Department of Eagles's In Ear Park is like a fortnight away on the Adriatic coast, being serenaded hourly by someone of unearthly beauty and unparalleled gentle tenderness, with whom you have not one word of shared language. Time, you have plenty of time to understand one another.

    Velocifero I'd love to know how I survived without Ladytron in my life for so long. Like the windows of a show home. Only better to dance to. A cold because it's been hurt and can't risk being hurt again, devastating beauty for position number three.

    Pendulum's In Silico is, I discovered, an ideal soundtrack for making christmas wreaths with a bunch of ten year olds. What IS it? I can't say, because I'm out of breath from the dancing. It just IS, and that has to be enough.

    Mindless Self Indulgence's If is the number one album of the year in my book. By miles and miles and miles. This music makes me so happy. Self-deprecating, silly, wise. Is it dance music? Is it rock music? Is it industrial jungle pussy punk, yes it is, and what could be finer? I do so love those moments that happen so rarely in life, when your young offspring introduces you to music containing filthy, irressponsible words like 'she won't put out/let's go make out with her friends' and 'punch your lights out, hit the pavement/that's what I call entertainment' and excuses for erectile dysfunction 'if it ain't your face/then it's your body'. I have a new favourite song every other day, which is a good sign, and all of them make me feel a little bit sleazy, but entirely proud of that sleaziness because it's the grimy underside of a life fully lived, but never taken too seriously.

    That was then and this is now, that was just nostalgia. Oh god what an album "Couples" is, triumphantly sitting in second place for me. Exploring the breadth of outsider-y loserdom, pain and rejection and sheer, absolute loneliness of a life gone wrong, but without any sense of off-putting victiminess. YES! The Long Blondes are a less self harmy Slipknot. Enjoying so much in spite of the abundant reasons to give up. 'I'm going to hell' fact, 'so I may as well enjoy myself...' What an absolutely timely lesson to learn. And it's all dressed up so much cuter, too. Each song with an identity of its own, so that by the time you've got to the end of the album, you're all invigorated, refreshed and ready to start back from the beginning. And Barry M has waited too long for a shout out in popular music. AND and, speech marks is like "Heroes", which is entirely wondrous.

    In a world of its own, in a bedroom of its own, head in the technicolour clouds, eyes full of artificial stars, is Love To Make Music To. And since I'm usually in a bedroom, and a world, all on my own, we're rather well matched, me and Daedelus. Feels like sailing through blood vessels. Your own blood vessels. Perched in a chic little boat and sailing through your own blood vessels.

    Made in the Dark a bit hit an miss for me, but I adore Hot Chip and this album was grown with such affectionate, joie de vivre, such disregard for what SHOULD be in favour of celebrating what IS. Because whatever you choose will be cool, if you believe in the power of your own right to be cool. And when it does hit, my insides go all gooey and nothing else seems to matter. Which is a sensation I like very much.

    Which was nice.

    Traditionally people issue thanks to those who've made such listening possible. So, thanks, people. 'tis appreciated.
  • Shaking fists, hips and the very firmament.

    Ott 30 2008, 15:11

    Remind me never to go out during the winter. And ok I didn't really think October counted as winter, but we've had snow in Brum and more than a few chill winds. So how brilliant that I'm back at the Academy AGAIN tonight.

    Well I've no idea what Max Tundra is. He bounded on stage brimming with confidence, which should have been endearing, but it saddens me to say I felt he was more at the smug twat end of the spectrum. The music was so busy. I can only compare it to a week of eating extra coloured skittles while watching 80s telly on eighty tellies, at full volume, and then retire for a lie down in a darkened room. Still, he seeemed to be enjoying himself. And I do respect artists who make music that no one else is making. It's just sometimes I have to ask why.

    Hot Chip were lovely, lovely, lovely and brilliant. And I love them. Unfortunately my signature position had a stack of amps blocking my view of lovely Joe, but I could still hear him. Alexis's voice, which sometimes whines and weasels and annoys my ears, was warm and tender and glorious. And the Ginger One was a revelation. He OWNED the stage, absolutely, and it was so invigorating to see someone so at home and comfortable up there, with so much RIGHT to be exuding that confidence.

    The crowd started bouncing away from the get go with One Pure Thought which led to a compelling Shake a Fist. The unrecognisable(ish) And I Was a Boy from School and Hold On kept things lively. New track Alley Cat offered a chance to groove more slowly, a pause for reflection, an indication that they'd really thought about pacing the set. The pace was brilliant actually. They knew just when to throw in an Over and Over and send people mental and just when to hold back with one of those songs off Made in the Dark that I don't rate so much.

    And then right at the end of the main set, Alexis and The Ginger One pointed up at the balcony which was shielded in white curtains. What is it? Mimey wondered. Only a load of massive fucking balloons descending on an unsuspecting, adoring audience. Massive fucking balloons, lit up in beautiful pink light, for a massive, unco-ordinated game of volley ball. And what I love so much about live music is how, after a group of people have risked putting together and sharing their art with the world, after having sat in one's bedroom weeping, dancing, singing, living an artist's art, the creator and the grateful receivers are able to share. Not only did we get to listen and cheer, they got to hear our appreciation and play, we also shared a fucking big game of ball. Which was slightly surreal if I dare use that overused word, but really really cemented (for me) that sense of a shared venture. Neither band nor audience would be quite what and who they are without the other. Hurray. The balloons were worth going to the concert for, according to L, who doesn't like music. I had to tell her not ALL gigs have exciting balloon games, she'll be so disappointed!

    The lighting wasn't sophisticated but it was special. Plenty of strobe WITH NO WARNING!!! But it worked. Bits where one member in turn was picked out in white light while the rest of the room was in darkness. Beautifully compelling atmospheric use of smoke, when smoke is so clumsy and annoying, so often.

    And after much hysterical screaming, (having persuaded my daughter that a live concert's the perfect place to release ALL that pent up tension: where else can you stand in public and just scream?) came an Evil Encore. Mmm. Well they were all lit in gorgeously wicked green. They gave us Ready for the Floor, a track that always annoys me lyrically but undermines my protests with how it builds and pulsates, a disappointing No Fit State which I'll forgive on account of it being one of the greatest songs ever written of all time and I'm so glad I was able to scream thanks for its existence to them, and an amusing yet moving bubble of Nothing Compares 2 U sliding seamlessly into In the Privacy of Our Love. A gentle and affectionate way to finish the show. And Joe left the privacy of his bass synthesiser, came forward a little and showed me his beard. I find his beard very comforting.

    In all it was a thrilling, life affirming performance, and [wounded name calling] anyone who could've been there and chose not to is a big idiot [/wounded name calling].

    Wed 29 Oct – Hot Chip, Max Tundra
  • The UnReview

    Ott 28 2008, 10:38

    Now I know I've been a bit deranged in recent times, but even so I don't think I'd start hallucinating Telecasters everywhere just to torment myself. Honestly the guitars look like they were made of lego by androids brought up in the Gulag who were never shown the civilising attention of human warmth, and they always seem to be played by smug twats more bothered about their coats than the music. There seemed to be rather too many at the Academy last Thursday. Whywhywhy?

    Although I may be prejudiced on this.

    Having said that, Thu 23 Oct – Blood Red Shoes, 1984
    was a lot of fun. The Academy 2 is about a gazillion times better a venue than its more fully grown conjoined twin. There was ATMOSPHERE. I could see the bands, well bits. I got served at the bar without having to pass go four times. There weren't stupid queues in the ladies. It felt like there was some point in my being there.

    I'm yet to discover who the first band was. The bass player (I think it was he, I was on a rather self obsessed roller coaster of epiphanies and nightmares, and a little distracted as a consequence) had floppy hair reminiscent of the early nineties indie scenes. The band had a tight and pleasing enough sound reminiscent of the early nineties indie scenes and (DD said and I came to agree) Eton Rifles. I wiggled and clapped and enjoyed it, but there was no whooping as it was all a bit previous and done. Lucky I don't know who they were then, so I won't be prejudiced about them in the future.

    Next up were 1984 who were FRENCH. I don't know why I'm pointing that out as it's entirely irrelevant to anything I may subsequently say about them. They had a song about un oiseau. That was nice. And slightly relevant to their nation of origin. I enjoyed their set, though I'm struggling to think of anything to say about them. They got us to scream for them in a competition to see which city had the loudest scream. That's what I need at the end of a half term of using my voice. And they had great rapport with the audience, I thought.

    Goodness this is the most precise and detailed review I've ever commited to web page. Hmm.

    Then headliners Blood Red Shoes who we'd turned up to see came on, and again, I don't really know their work that well so how can I possibly comment? Lots of banter with the audience, mainly regarding the temperature of the venue. Most of the gigs I've ever been to were in the academy and most of the clubbing I've ever done was in its sticky hallowed rooms (they changed the name but not the carpet when it stopped being the Hummingbird. Whywhywhy???) so I associate such events with extreme personal heat. Is this not the standard?

    Guitar/drums duos are always interesting. It's funny how much of a part the bass plays when it's often not prominent enough to be noticed. (I don't THINK there was a bass player with BRS, I'm very tiny and may have not noticed) But this was less of an issue with BRS than I've felt it was with other bands. Again with the detail, I'm a journalistic tour de force this morning. Their voices work well together. Her's more aggressive than might be expected, his higher pitched, I don't know, something, times where I expected a girl to be singing it was *gasp* a boy. I like to be a little artistically wrong footed from time to time. They were tight and commanding, having a good time and making sounds that didn't especially bring anyone else to mind, and why on earth else would you want to make music?

    Money? Oh, maybe.

    So in conclusion:
    despite using bad guitars there were nice sounds that I really enjoyed in the live context, and, little known bands in little known venues where you don't remember any of the music hardly at all offer the best live experience and should be supported. So I'm not sad at all about not having tickets for Slipknot or Mastodon in soulless big venues. Erm.
  • Sunday

    Ago 26 2008, 15:29

    Sunday 24th of August is OFFICIALLY the longest day of my life. And I mean in the GOOD way. Mid-afternoon I had an OMG that cup of coffee/cry I had was THIS morning. It felt like weeks previously so much had happened since. The coffee, a delight inducing caramel soya latté, didn't make me sob in public. The coffee was nice. Unexpectedly hearing A Change Is Gonna Come in Starbucks had me lose control. Can't imagine what that's about.

    By Sunday I was simultaneously ready to ravage every woman who walked past (lank hair and mud splatters are SO hot), couldn't conceive of ever living in a house again, and aching for my big empty bed and the absence of everyone. The festival vibe, the constant stimulation was a bit overwhelming.

    Sunday was the focus of my devastation, if I had a heart to break then Slipknot cancelling would have smashed it. Focusing on particular artists when attending a festival is never a good idea. As it turned out Avenged Sevenfold also ended up cancelled and while I wasn't bothered about them this mucked around with the main stage's running order no end. And would have caused stress if I wasn't working so frantically to not be stressed by anything but just accept reality and look for the positive.

    We tried to get into the arena early so we could see Mindless Self Indulgence. I rushed through my bag of leaves and mayonaisse to be sure to not miss my hit of "Industrial Jungle Pussy Punk". To say me and Zesty were a bit excited about seeing MSI would be a hopeless understatement. It's hard to look forward to something so much, but maintain a level of 'I won't die if this isn't perfect'. Now it would have been CRIMINAL if MSI had taken to the stage at midday as planned as they were EASILY guilty of the best performance of the festival and deserved a big, appreciative audience. In my humble opinion. But I'm not humble at all: I'm RIGHT!

    But enough of that, they didn't come on until the evening.

    Bring Me the Horizon opened the main stage as replacement for Slipknot (*sob*). They sounded pretty good. Quite heavy, growly, screamy vocals, not too predictable, performing with a sense of humour and perspective. There were rather a lot of hostile projectiles flying from Us (well not ME, blates) to Them. The singer said "this stage is a mess, some of you really don't like our band" and dismissed it with a 'nevermind' or an 'oh well' and launched into their next song, which was glorious. He was playing The Fucking Reading Festival (TM) and knew exactly what it meant. Respect is due!

    Then we popped over to see Robots in Disguise in the dance tent. We were right at the front, if a little over to the side, so I got a good view coupled with a proper crowd vibe. OMG they were amazing. The lead up was all songs with 'robot' in the title. I had to slap Zesty with her own pink welly for not knowing who Kraftwerk are. First these AWFUL robots came on to the little stage. The sort of robots you'd make if you dressed yourself in supermarket reject boxes and tinfoil: BRILLIANT. Then Dee and Sue came on and it was as if they were in the middle of the best party of their lives and their only desire was to share that with as many people as possible. It was fairly infectious. The music was bratty and funky and I will certainly be exploring it further. Second best performance of the festival. They had fun so we had fun. Thanks!

    Henry Rollins was, didn't I talk about him already, excellent. There were laughs, he has a funny delivery, but his memoirs from travelling in Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar weren't really funny. Eye opening. I particularly liked what he said about trying to kill a bug, and the bug looking up at him believing his murderous intent was an arm of hope and help and how this was like American foreign policy. Apt, as it struck me that all the bugs and spiders climbing up our bodies were most likely just trying to escape our thumping feet. I met some very pleasant small creatures over the weekend. Really.

    Only caught a bit of The Whip but they're also on the 'must explore further' list as it was lovely. Although it did inspire a slice of bad journalism from me, as this one bit brought to mind the phrase: "like the bastard offspring of Crystal Waters and Marilyn Manson ". It was like really emotional but with all the cold clarity of electronica. Mmm.

    The brief slab of Alexisonfire was ok. I didn't like the performance of Some Shit Comedian Called Chris. Lightspeed Champion did new things with a violin but wasn't overly inspiring. The snippet of Tenacious D told me that Jack Black is a movie star and I was there for music.

    I was looking forward to seeing Conor Oberst and his mystic flip flops or whatever it was (possibly I'll need some caffeine if I'm to make it to the end of this review.) as his voice is beautiful and with Bright Eyes he gave me some of the lyrics I most treasure in the world, but it was boring and atmosphere-less, so we left and had a bit of a boogie with Simian Mobile Disco who were ace and I wish I'd seen more of from deeper in the tent.

    The main problem quiet, country-ish Conor faced was trying to follow Pendulum who won the 'On the wrong stage' award with only the slightest competition from CSS. OH. MY. ZOD. Pendulum's crowd was insane. The NME tent was rammed, we were about thirty rows of people behind that with probably another thirty behind us. I couldn't see or hear anything much, but my goodness I wanted to. We moved after a bit of an intuitive dance and did get something of an experience, but, goodness, what a vibe. Lucky Pendulum. Lucky people who got in early and were strong enough not to get crushed.

    Headlining Metallica were excellent. Coming onto the stage after a build up of Ennio Morricone's Ecstacy of the Gold (I think that's what it is) hasn't got old or tired yet. It's the most excitement inducing tune I know of. I rocked my little head off and screamed my little lungs out and it was joyous. They leaned heavily on the first four albums, mainly playing songs I don't like. Grr. But Ride the Lightning was sublime and had my insides contorted into a painful climax. The explosions were exciting, especially during One which is not only a naive statement on warfare but also one of the greatest metal tracks for relentless riffs. Their new song, Cyanide was it? was good on first listen.

    In all they were confident and securely rockstarish, but humble(ish) too. James seemed surprised by the roar that greeted his enquiry about whether anyone had seen Metallica before, and constantly acknowledged the symbiotic relationship between band and audience. They were fresh and enthusiastic as well as being so very experienced. Not that I wasn't feeling old old old all weekend, well I haven't just taken my GCSEs and I don't have that as a topic of conversation, but it struck me as amusing that the songs they played were released long before most of the audience were born. The joy of music that can reach across the generations.

    Enter Sandman got everyone moving and shaking and finishing with Seek and Destroy (from, like, 1983! that's, like, ancient history!) (and ok *I* was probably still grieving for Adric and panting over Marmalade Atkins back then, and definitely had NO interest in thrash metal, but still, I was ALIVE in 1983!) was a bold move that paid off as most sections of the crowd went wild. Tho one bloke on the walk back to camp did complain they played for too long. Oh DO fuck off!

    During the performance I slipped off to see Cansei de Ser Sexy who very annoyingly clashed. There shouldn't have been any competition, one of these bands is packed with people I want to enjoy intimacies with and one of these bands I have seen before and were on stage for a full two and a quarter hours so I could easily leave them for an hour or so. The dance tent was absolutely rammed and the screens at the side were not showing the performance. People seemed to be having a good time, I did another of my climbs, VERY inadvisably onto one of the straps holding the tent to the ground and fell off a couple of times. FUN! DANGER! I stayed for Meeting Paris Hilton and This Month, Day 10, wiggled a bit, but then ran back to Metallica because headbanging with strangers is more satisfying than unfulfillable sexual fantasies.

    Some people like doing stuff in chronological order, but I laugh at them.

    We only got to see a little of Hadouken! because of the rescheduled MSI slot, but it was fun and bleepy and impossible not to dance happily to. Really enjoyed them, wished I could have stayed, but had to go.

    I insisted we should watch MSI from way back so poor little shortarse me would be able to see something. We'd had our in the thick of the crowd experiences with QOTSA, Justice, Santogold, we didn't need a repeat SURELY. But there was hardly anyone in front of the stage with ten minutes to go so I allowed myself to be persuaded. What a good decision that was. I built myself a little platform from the bark stuff they scatter underfoot. This helped me rise to five feet and half an inch: the ideal height for seeing bands! We were a few rows back from the front (probably more than a few but it felt close) with the perfect trajectory for seeing the stage so long as no one tall came and...oh hello.

    It was perfect. Clear view of the screen right at my side, moderate view of the stage, excellent view of the one side where half the band came to play a lot. The crowd felt quite devoted, keen, warm, attentive. The sun twinkled but didn't blind. The rain had stopped. Then there they were. Launching right in to the simplistic, aggressive, funky Shut Me Up. "I like my coffee black just like my metal" is high in the chart of lyrics I worship at the feet of that don't make me cry. I do indeed like my coffee black, although I've only a limited appreciation for black metal. It's, like, well profound.

    To be honest I don't remember the music that well. We roared with our hands in the air, and jumped around bu it certainly wasn't note perfect. The performance of Lights Out would've been disappointing if I wasn't having so much fun, but that's part of the charm, they were enthusiastic and aiming for a good performance over a recreation of how the record sounds. There was a lot of programmed sound I didn't see anyone playing. And Lyn-Z may be the most beautiful woman in the world (I think everyone agrees on that point, this isn't personal opinion) and her playing bass with her head bent back to the floor trick is certainly impressive (tho Zesty says she did that WHILE crowd surfing when they played Brum earlier this year) but she could warm up a little. Smile woman, don't worry about wrinkles. Kitty the drummer was cheeky, and is a very attractive woman, it's a shame she's so in the shadow of her bass player, really. But Steve pulled such funny faces (I like sophisticated humour, me.) and there was so much banter between him and Jimmy, it was like in a family, kind of evil but deeply affectionate. Like the Bloodhound Gang, not taking themselves at all seriously, having a ball and accidentally, it seems, making music that's so uplifting and so good to dance to. I'm certain most people just don't get the joke and can't appreciate the beauty. It's energetic, dark music made by beautiful people who know that beauty can mean whatever you want it to mean. It might not be big and clever, but AH-AAAAAH, that is why it IS big and clever, ah-aaaaah.

    And Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. I would love to convey his performance in words but I don't think I have the skill. Jimmy Urine is like Willy Wonka only with the camp cranked up and a sinister overload, showing off at somebody else's birthday party, simultaneously stealing the limelight unforgiveably, but being so entertaining nobody could be mad at him. Well not for long. I want to adopt him. He poured Jack Daniel's on the stage and then licked it up. We went 'ew'. He signed the screens beside the stage with the name Urine. We went 'wooh'. He did the "Say 'I'm an individual'...say 'I can make my own mind up'...say 'I won't do what people tell me EVEN if they have a microphone'.." (I paraphrase) shtick. We laughed and cheered coz we're British and GET THE JOKE. (Not wishing to offend the non-British with a sense of humour.) He clambered from the stage and told us that we were the real Reading and onstage isn't, demanding mud, which he then rubbed all over his face and proclaimed "now we can not-shower TOGETHER". Oh he is everything I want in a showman. And when he closed their show by lipsynching There's No Business Like Show Business with extra happy jazz hands I nearly fell over because he was lovely, his band bring me joyjoy and time had flown.

    And that's why MSI get the award for Performance So Entertaining That Time Became Meaningless And I Forgot My Damaged Mosh Muscles and Traumatised Colon from me. Well done, guys.


    I'm finding it quite tricky to not whoop and clap at the end of every song I listen to. I miss the smell of grass underfoot. These brick walls are SUFFOCATING me. I can't wait until next year..who's with me???
  • Saturday

    Ago 26 2008, 10:06

    By my third day of being at Reading I'd pretty much forgotten there was an outside world and never wanted to go back. I even forgot to buy my Guardian and THAT doesn't happen on many Saturdays. At the same time I was craving civilisation and expressed this through intense consumerism. I'm not much of a shopping lover in real life, but I almost wet myself in delight wandering into The Oracle. FANTASTIC toilets (they had toilet paper and flushed your waste away), although there was a MASSIVE queue for the men's. How odd. Reading is a wonderful place to go shopping if that's your thing, and really brought into focus how Brum got it wrong with BULLRING. Too many people is one aspect. Still that's nothing to do with the music so I shall return to the matter in hand.

    On Saturday, apart from a brief look at The Killers as we left the arena, confirming that their existence means nothing to me, we saw nothing on the main stage. Brendon Burns's comedy was interesting, someone on the Festival Republic stage was mildly diverting, the BBC Introducing stage provoked a little hip wiggle and head nod as we passed it but basically the NME tent was the place to be. So that's where we spent our day.

    We left our tent to see Santogold and she really didn't disappoint. In a world of criticism and complaint it is so nourishing to engage in a public act of NICE. Of getting together with other people to announce our appreciation, saying THIS IS GOOD. That's what I like about live music, the exchange where you get to thank the artist for making the sounds that've meant something to you. And Santogold's audience were the happiest, most devoted and appreciative I've ever been part of, though Regina Spektor last year came close. And as I say, it was glorious to be part of something so positive when the world is generally so full of people pointing out how shit everything is.

    So back to Santi. Firstly her dancers/backing singers are awesome. Not the most robotic onstage helpers of the weekend, but gloriously so. Regimented and beautiful, shall we say. Everyone on her stage was restrained and aloof, but in a dignified way, in a "I am a star even if they have me on this early in the day" way; chic thrift store chic and stage presence. Oh but the crowd went crazy when she did her 'my feet are on fire' dance.

    Sometimes performing when you've only got one record can be limiting. It helps if your songs not only combine ideas and moods in ways that are different from everybody else, attention is even easier to hold on to when each song has its own special identity and is different from all the others. The crowd explains it all. There were people doing the hippity-hoppity sort of dancing, northern soulish movers and others engaged in dirty headbanging. Space and sound for everyone where the sum is so much more than the parts. It's sort of democratic. The electro-noodly interlude in You'll Find A Way kept things exciting and it seemed that the warmest, bounciest response was for Lights Out.

    I had my best view of any stage during Justice having engaged in a bit of climbing.This wasn't the best time to climb. My wonderful view was two men not moving behind a bank of amplifiers and a nice glowing cross. And for this I was risking death and incurring hard to explain bruises. Again it was the audience who shone, and being on the floor amid the rejoiceful bouncing was far more the point than looking at the people who made it possible. Goodness but the audience ADORED Justice. It's a concept I'm very keen on. All this AND I'll never be alone again. Justice said, so I should ignore the evidence of reality and trust. Perhaps.

    And I think I told a stranger in the Justice audience that I loved him, because he was wearing a 1980s Villa shirt and seeing the words 'Mita Copiers' from my bird's nest made me all warm and fuzzy for a childhood where I didn't understand about corporate sponsorship or the offside rule, but just that claret and blue make a homely combination. And then a girl who had also climbed looked like she would die from Justice ecstacy and then a man done a wee in the middle of the tent and everyone moved away from him. And then the music started again and then it stopped for real.

    Arriving at the tent toward the end of Foals's set I got a bit "oh I've heard this sort of thing before", all ennui and demands for refreshment. Before I knew it I was leaping around enveloped in a warm haze of early 90s indie and feeling profound affection for the music. I shall certainly be exploring Foals further.

    At my last Reading Bullet for My Valentine saved my Sunday. On that occasion they opened the main stage. In the NME tent they didn't really make sense. I'm not sure metal in a tent really works. It seemed to me that the band were a bit bitter, uncomfortable, trying too hard, something. Probably I would have raved about them if I'd been in the tent moshing drunkenly, instead of sitting at the side of the tent shuddering about the blocked lady urinals. I've not got much experience of using urinals but are they supposed to fill up until they overflow and pour out of the door, guys? Fortunately (?) I'm not so proud that I won't swim through stale piss to avoid a queue.

    And then we had a nice early night, and though the camp was livelier on Saturday night, and our neighbours lit a fire that crackled me into an unexpectedly awake panic, and the French people on the other side did like to orate noisily, the vast majority went to bed at a reasonable hour (by 3 at least) and were quiet.

    But by the end of Saturday I was still panicking that I wasn't going to get my money's worth and feeling I really ought to have tried harder to see more bands.
  • Friday

    Ago 25 2008, 20:27

    Well here's my sort of review Fri 22 Aug – Reading Festival. Very much in the vein of how will I know what I thought or felt or experienced unless I've written and shared it with the world? I think this is what I thought and felt and heard and saw.

    So me and Zesty popped down to Reading to see what all the fuss was about. The fuss was about bad smells, uncertain footing and suffering for art. Mmm.

    Blood Red Shoes reminded me of why I used to want to be a rock star, of how good it feels to be onstage with a microphone and a guitar. Must do that again, sometime. Angry but friendly, guitar sounds that make me come, unexpected and lively drums. Mmm. The lyrics (as I heard/recall them) "we must pretend that everything is alright' is a hook I could build a whole society round. I shall certainly explore Blood Red Shoes in the future.

    Be Your Own Pet provided shambolic, energetic, scuzzy, reckless noyzzzzzze that was very entertaining but not exactly good.

    The Duke Spirit weren't bad. But they weren't inspiring or entertaining. Nothing special, so we left the NME tent and went off to eat overpriced food that we didn't really need out of boredom.

    The sound was appalling for Queens of the Stone Age and for the third time of me seeing them live, I didn't get a sense that they were enjoying their time on stage. A lack of engagement, a lack of pleasure in the process. I think it's hard to get much from a performance if there's no soul on stage. Hey, maybe Josh sold his to get a hit! No One Knows can't go down badly, we had a nice little dance during that, and it was surprising and joyful to hear Someone's in the Wolf and I Think I Lost My Headache.

    I made an effort to enjoy what was enjoyable and not get hung up on negatives, this was very successful even though I couldn't see anything and could barely hear it. My positive resolve was sorely tested during QOTSA by the OCEANS of people on the move. Grr. Find a place and stand still, maybe swaying a little, I'll allow that, but there's really no consideration that other people might be stood there because the band they like is on stage and it might be disturby if you bash into them and barge them out of the way. I mean if you're DYING come on out, I'll step aside, but otherwise keep still.

    I won't even expand on My Gig Hell, let's just say I had my Tall Person magnet turned up high and directed in front.

    Now I already knew Rage Against the Machine had taken to performing in the orange jumpsuit and hood of a Guantanamo detainee, and I was aware that I'm very against human rights violations, torture and so on. But even so, when they came onstage and performed Bombtrack masked and uniformed I got a bit weepy. Angry weepy. In fact now I think about it I think I was sobbing all the way through their set. I may have been doing something else at the same time as my neck muscles and right hip didn't work the next day. But it actually did make me think. And in conclusion I still think torture's out of order.

    The whole thing, along the lines of Serj Tankian who, also a bit pissed off with the American administration, we caught a little of earlier (just made me long for SOAD), was powerful and political. Serj suggested that being part of the unthinking majority is silly. Zack of Rage thought that Bush should be hung for war crimes, and Mr Blairs should join him and that goverments are afraid of their people so if we unite we can force change. Actually they should all make friends with Henry Rollins whose angry and eloquent spoken word performance was sublime. And all about good people power.

    Anyway back to the music, if it's possible to separate it from political urge, RATM were tight and enthusiastic and energetic. They obviously wanted to be on stage speaking with a crowd. The music was all righteous, funky anger. A more lively version of the CDs really. The intonation at the end of Know Your Enemy:
    "Compromise,
    conformity,
    assimilation,
    submission,
    ignorance,
    hypocrisy,
    brutality,
    the elite.
    All of which are American dreams, all of which are American dreams, all of WHICH are American dreams, all of which ARE..."
    was EVEN MORE goosebumpy than previously. And I find it pretty bloody goosebumpy at the best of times!

    And as for Killing in the Name, there aren't the words. Zesty was so desperate to go back to the tent. I was so adamant I would not, COULD NOT, leave until I'd shared Killing in the Name, although pretty certain that this'd be the last song. (And we were cold because someone refused to bring a jumper, so I ended up losing mine to her. Grr.) It is such an outstanding work of art, I have so many special associations, I always have a naive 'this song could change the world for the better' catch in my throat. Let's just say it meant quite a lot to dance WITH RATM during Killing in the Name, amid a crowd of enthusiastic devotees, under a darkening sky, and I didn't hold much back. Let's just say it was cathartic, energising and I did a little cry.

    There was some funny stuff on the Alternative stage, too. Mitch Benn, I think it was, was good.

    And I went back to my tent feeling disappointed that I'd seen so little, having spent some happy hours reading magazines in the sun on my lovely calm, campsite, and some other hours being especially polite to the townsfolk while getting evils and soya based caffeine drinks from them. After my last experience of camping at Reading I was dreading riots and terror and no sleep, but the red campsite was fine. Money spiders everywhere were friendly. I felt safe under the watchful eye of the attendants up the fire tower we'd camped next to. My sleeping bag was all snuggly. You know, I think I LIKE camping now!

    Although not so sure about the toilets.
  • In A Field

    Apr 3 2008, 14:08

    I’m going to The Reading FestivalLa la la. And because of this I shall talk of nothing else until August. La la la.


    We have Rage Against The Machine, The Killers and Metallica headlining, with Queens Of The Stone Age, The Fratellis, The Enemy, Biffy Clyro, Serj Tankian, Dizzee Rascal, Taking Back Sunday, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Anti-Flag, Tenacious D, Slipknot, Feeder, Bloc Party, The Raconteurs, Editors, We Are Scientists, Dirty Pretty Things, The Subways, Babyshambles, The Wombats, Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Manic Street Preachers, Bullet For My Valentine, Justice, Foals, The Cribs, Dropkick Murphys, Avenged Sevenfold, Conor Oberst and Pendulum so far confirmed for the rest of the fest.

    I’m not overly excited as yet. There aren’t that many here that I’m desperate to see. This is not a bad thing. When you go to a festival with too many expectations it’s easy to be disappointed or find that there are unforgivable clashes. I haven’t forgotten the nightmares of choosing Sepultura over Marilyn Manson, Life of Agony over Slipknot and Korn over Slayer at various Downloads. And surely the point of a festival of music is to expose yourself to a wealth of sights and sounds you wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to. I like to be outside of my comfort zone, musically speaking. I’ve been surprised before. I met the music of Death from Above 1979 and Sons and Daughters at Reading, after all. Surprise is good.

    But what of the headliners, I hear you cry. I’ll get to that presently.

    This is unsupported opinion but I think a festival is a good venue for a recently reformed band. Pixies worked last time I Readinged. So Rage Against the Machine should be fine. Well they’re funky and powerful and politically motivated. This good. And if memory serves they ‘re not afraid to make a spectacle. This also good. The image of the four of them naked but for the gaffer tape over their mouths (in some protest or other about censorship or something, I don’t know….) will never leave my brain. And Timmy’s tatts are ace; Tom’s hats are great; Zack’s dredds are triumphant and Brad, well, Brad has eyes that are closer together than any other human alive. It’s a winning combination. But so much of RATM’s output has been, bleurgh, a funky beat, a bit of a message, some shouting, THAT guitar solo. I can take or leave it.

    And then I stop to consider the irresistible call to arms in Wake Up. The sassy strut of Bullet in the Head “believing all the lies that they’re tellin’ ya/buying all the products that they’re sellin’ ya/they say jump and you say how high?” Mmm. I’m invigorated. The haunting agony of Settle for Nothing “A jail cell is freedom from the pain in my home/Hatred passed on passed on passed on/a world of violent rage/but it’s one I recognise/having never seen the colour of my father’s eyes” well that makes sense and moves me, “if we don’t take action now/we’ll settle for nothing later.” Oh I’m full of righteous fire just thinking these words. And what the hell can I say about Killing in the Name without slicing my outsides open to show my insides. “Fuck you I won’t do what you tell me” Oh but I’m empowered. Empowered enough even to refuse RATM’s demands and fall in with The Man. Heh. And there were some good tracks on The Battle of Los Angeles.

    And this is before considering the fun you can have with RATM and the cheese-musician game. Zack de la Roquefort, Timmy Camembert, Tom Morello-cherry-cheese-relish and, erm, sorry Brad you lose out on this one too, Bad Milk. Oh the laughter never stops round me!

    So it would seem that a) I’m heart skippingly delighted and excited about seeing them live and b)I have no idea why I only have Rage Against the Machine on shitty cassette tape.

    So Saturday night brings the killers. Oh well. I’m not prepared to give them either capitals or a link, I don’t like the killers. I think they’re overrated, over hyped and average. I think the fact that they took second place on the bill at Reading three years ago, on the basis of ONE ALBUM, is an absolute travesty. Playing after Queens of the Stone Age when lovely Joshy was responsible for at least NINE albums at that point between QOTSA, Desert Sessions and Kyuss. It was an outrage, a disgrace and a shocking pandering to public opinion that I WILL NEVER FORGIVE.

    And yes ok, they gave a polished performance that I enjoyed, and yes they did seem to reach to a variety of audiences, uniting a disparate crowd, and yes if Rufus Wainwright wrote that song for Brandon they can’t be all bad, but there is still something redolent of Brosmania about their fanbase.

    Though one can have fun with changing their lyrics. Oh how we laughed when Smile Like You Mean It became ‘mormon masturbation’ and then ‘hairy wookiee penis’ and who could resist the allure of a line that started life as ‘it’s indie rock n roll for me’ but became ‘it’s veggie sausage roll for me’. Like I say, non stop amusement when you’re near me in a field.

    I’m hoping there’ll be something unmissable away from the mainstage on Saturday night. Either that or that I’ll have the chance to bank some sleep hours in a quiet campsite. Mmm. Sleep.

    And on Sunday it’s the best metal band in the world ever. Ever. Best. Best ever. Well the best down-the-line thrash band. And fair enough I don’t listen to Metallica that much any more, and true they’re not the most innovative or exciting of all the music I own, but that’s because they invented it. (And yes I am ignoring all those who influenced them and all their contemporaries, because this is my journal and I can.) I don’t expect them to keep reinventing the genre, that’s a bit much to ask. But,


    and it’s a big BUT

    but what if they too are over the hill and past it? What if they shatter all my dreams and trample over all my memories with Zimmer-framed incontinence. What if they focus on their 1997 – the present work (cries of misery) when I really want them to focus on 1985 –1990 (pant wetting cries of ecstasy) (incontinence can happen to any of us)?

    I saw Metallica play in 1999 in Milton Keynes, admittedly not during their heyday, and really not the greatest venue, but one of the most commanding performances I have ever seen by anyone. Absolutely masterful. SUCH stage presence, James had the audience eating out of his hand. Not literally, there were 50 000 of us, that would’ve taken a long time. Such energy, such passion, such, erm, such stage presence.

    Oh but the exquisite and epic Ride the Lightning, the fearsome, singleminded sledgehammer of Master of Puppets the more playful and more mature …and Justice for All (isn’t that melody from The Wizard of Oz!) and the everything of Black Album. James learned to sing, they reworked a melody from West Side Story, they discovered the string arrangement and how quiet could also be powerful. There were werewolves, and demons threatening sleep, celebrations of the liberation of homelessness, a rebuke to putting faith in a vengeful deity above common sense and such accomplished conversation between the two guitars.

    I’m melting, I’m melting! Oh the excitement.

    Coming soon:

    “What I think of the rest of the line up” (including begging for advice about who I should aim to see!), and “What I’ve learned from previous festival experiences that I need to utilise this year.”
  • Tears On My Pillow

    Mar 24 2008, 23:45

    I cannot imagine anything more useless than compiling a list of songs that make people cry. Different people cry at different things at different times depending on EVERYTHING.

    But I can't think of a better way to waste time than compiling mine. For now. At the moment. Subject to many and much changing.

    Once I started weeping as I walked down the road. I was listening to Fiona Apple, lovely, lovely Fiona, on my portable CD player. (like an iPod but RUBBISH.) There is much to weep over in Never Is a Promise. The piano is simple and restrained, the string arrangements waft in and out like waves of memory, and her voice is veers between agonised and ugly, defiant, tough and determined, and fragile and beautiful. And lyrically we move through many stages of a relationship dying. At some points it's possible that the protagonist will allow herself to be silenced in order to keep things going. But she "realise{s} what [she is] now too smart to mention" and lo we have progress.

    I get the tingles as soon as I hear "You say you understand/you'll never understand" my nose starts to prickle when we get to "You don't know who I am/you say I need appeasing when I start to cry" and my face is all wet and puffy when she croaks out that final who-cares-if-it's-ugly now "lie" in the give me back my dignity and get out of my life "I'll never need a lie". Love you, Fiona.

    The award for biggest consequence of crying over a song goes to Pulp. One Tuesday morning as I readied myself to go to work Pink Glove came on and I was inexplicably in floods of tears. I mean it's a song full of regret and longing, seeing someone in the wrong relationship when they should be with you. "I know you're never going to be with me/but do you understand now that maybe/you got it right first time". It's lashing out in the belief that no matter how ugly, honesty, pulling that head from the sand, can only make the situation improve.

    And Jarvis' vocals are breathy and sexy and persuasive, "should you stop being you just to be how he wants you/ooooh" and the keyboards are wistful, like a breeze of potential.

    "I realise that you'll never leave him"

    By the end of that evening I had realised I'd got it right first time, had left him and was back with me; destiny achieved. Thanks, Pulp.

    Crying for a conventional reason takes me to "Heroes". Only in fantasy can I be king and you be queen. The universe and stupid people will get in the way. They were in love and they died. They couldn't beat them forever and ever, or even for one day. And when you're in love you wear it like a suit of armour, like a furry coat, that will repel arrows and keep away the cold. But no "nothing, nothing will drive them away". The enemy keeps coming and love is an illusion.

    If I haven't already started weeping just by thinking 'it's "heroes" and love wasn't enough' then I definitely dissolve at the key change when Dave begins the animal-in-pain yelp. Oh what a sick world when "be[ing] us just for one day" brings destruction. Oh what a point of liberation through degradation when we come to terms with being "nothing" and knowing "nothing will help us". Sad face. And the music is jiggly removed from the story, with the painful, intermittent swoop of ooweeoo to ground us, yet show us that slash of hope in the bright blue sky above. Complex. Yet so simple. Three cheers and much sobbing for David Bowie.

    Most recent weeping on public transport was thanks to LCD Soundsystem on Friday. I was folded into a train seat reading Carson McCullers hanging on every sentence wondering what my granny thought when she last read it. Trying to tap into why she loved her writing, were her reasons the same as mine? Someone Great started, a stream of fat, hot tears started rolling out from behind my sunglasses and my body entered into the crying quite ferociously twitch.

    It's so specific, and so true. The phone rings and you know what's coming, but you can't know, but within a second you've felt so many new pains that you're changed and then, finally, you do know, you understand what it means to lose someone. The world goes on, the sun shines even, and it shouldn't because everything should stop and pay tribute to the fact that everything's changed. Everything should be awful because everything is awful. And a million droplets of conversation flood your head, observations, pleas for comfort "but there, that's the problem" as your mind snaps from 'I must tell them...' to 'I can never ever tell them anything ever again'. Which is really unimaginably horrific.

    But the music is so clean and artificial and beautiful, tinkling, pulsing, the reassurance of the medical bleep, the warning of sirens; it swells and takes flight and life must carry on, and it hurts so badly because it was love and they were great, but because it was love and they were great it's also ok that they've gone. It is so much better to have loved and lost.

    "and it keeps coming til the day it stops"..."we're safe for the moment" that painful and ridiculous reminder that this is our fate, all of us, the thrill of being still alive, the knowledge that one day it will stop. And then, or is this just me, the threat, the taunt, have I done enough to leave behind greatness when I die? I hope I've got time.

    And there were a lot of other songs I planned to include but the table's getting soggy. If I give it a wipe my tears will clean it, which is symbolic of how wondrous and healing it is to have music to channel, prompt and express the full range of emotional life. Catharsis through music is the best.