Thursday, 31 July 2008

New Tentative Gig Announcement

I'll keep it short and sweet for once. A new gig is in the offing, in my home town of Bolton, Lancashire, on August 30th. An evening of folk music and other assorted indie-whatnots, the headliner will be my friend and work colleague, Ben.

It will also feature a performance on guitar from my good friend, Daniel Beckett, and joining him on vocals, none other than my own good self. So, if you want to hear me sing, come down to the Blue Boar on Saturday night, entertainment commencing from roughly 8:30pm onwards. Price of admission: no more than a couple of quid I'm sure (or a pint directed my way, or towards my friends of course).

I'm the one on the left, naturally. I will be signing autographs, but not on any body's a long story.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Mercury Rev - New Albums, New Tour Dates

On Monday, September 29th, Mercury Rev release their new album, Snowflake Midnight, which is accompanied by a second album, downloadable for free, entitled Strange Attractor. We are being treated to a double burst of the Rev's unique brilliance, subtlety and beauty, on the same day, at the same time, in the same dimension of this ever etheral existence of ours.

For full details of the albums, go to either or, where all the details reside, including information about track titles and how to obtain the Strange Attractor download.

Ah, the hell with it, here are the track titles for your viewing pleasure:

Snowflake Midnight

"Snowflake in a Hot World"
"Butterfly's Wings"
"Senses on Fire"
"People are So Unpredictable (There's No Bliss like Home)"
"October Sunshine"
"Runaway Raindrop"
"Dream of a Young Girl as a Flower"
"Faraway for Cars"
"A Squirrel and I (Holding On...and Then Letting Go)"

Strange Attractor

"Love Is Pure"
"Taken Up into Clouds, Changed and Rained Down"
"Pure Joie de la Solitude"
"Persistence and the Apis Mellifera"
"Fable of a Silver Moon"
"Loop Lisse, Loop"
"In My Heart, a Strange Attractor"
"Incident on Abeel Street"
"Af Den Fader Kommer Den Sol"
"Because Because Because"
"Nocturne for Norwood"

What has also been announced, and is just as exciting as two new albums, are Mercury Rev's tour plans, which include twenty-nine concerts, eleven of which are in the UK, one in America, and seventeen in the EU and Switzerland.

Three nights in Northern England are the personal highlight for me, and I will be attending the shows at Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, bringing to nine, the number of times I will have seen The Rev, with only The Doors at ten surpassing them in terms of my gig attendance. I suspect it is merely a matter of time before The Rev surpass even the mighty mighty Doors in my affections, having been The Doors of my generation, with the same originality, talent, beauty, terrors, and eerie otherworldliness that Jim Morrison and co. brought to the world 43 years ago.

It is so rare to see and hear such great talent, and I have been lucky enough to have met most of the these two sets of musicians who possess it. Thank God one set is still completely alive, active and creating new music and religious and spiritual experiences for those with the minds open enough to get it. Jonathon Donahue, you have been well missed here, as have your compadres of The Rev. Welcome back, my home is your home, always.

The Rev's 2008 Tour Schedule

7 Aug 2008: 22:00: For Noise Festival: Lausanne Pully, Switzerland

9 Aug 2008: 20:00: Beatday 08: Copenhagen, Denmark

12 Aug 2008: 20:00: Kilkenny Arts Festival: Kilkenny, Ireland

14 Aug 2008: 20:00: Pukkelpop 2008: Kempische Steenweg in Kiewit-Hasselt, Belgium

29 Aug 2008: 20:00: Hydro Connect Festival: Inverary Argyll, Scotland

13 Sep 2008: 20:00: End Of The Road Festival: North Dorset, UK

21 Sep 2008: 20:00: ATP New York 2008: Monticello, New York, USA

31 Oct 2008: 20:00: Cyprus Avenue, Cork, Ireland

1 Nov 2008: 20:00: Roisin Dubh, Galway, Ireland
2 Nov 2008: 20:00: Vicar St., Dublin, Ireland

4 Nov 2008: 20:00: Mandela Hall, Belfast, UK
5 Nov 2008: 20:00: Academy, Manchester, UK
6 Nov 2008: 20:00: Academy, Leeds, UK
7 Nov 2008: 20:00: Academy, Birmingham, UK

9 Nov 2008: 20:00: Academy, Newcastle, UK
11 Nov 2008: 20:00: Corn Exchange, Brighton, UK
12 Nov 2008: 20:00: Academy, Bristol, UK
13 Nov 2008: 20:00: Shepherds Bush Empire, London, UK
14 Nov 2008: 20:00: Academy, Oxford, UK

16 Nov 2008: 20:00: Den Atelier, Luxembourg, Luxembourg

17 Nov 2008: 20:00: Luxor, Koln, Germany
21 Nov 2008: 20:00: Lido, Berlin, Germany

22 Nov 2008: 20:00: Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
24 Nov 2008: 20:00: Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium

25 Nov 2008: 20:00: Elysee Montmartre, Paris, France
26 Nov 2008: 20:00: La Vapeur, Dijon, France

27 Nov 2008: 20:00: Bikini, Barcelona, Spain
28 Nov 2008: 20:00: Joy, Madrid, Spain

29 Nov 2008: 20:00: Aula Magna, Lisbon, Portugal

Glastonbury Festival Of Performing Arts

Well, it was all last minute, and it was chaos to arrange, but me, my mate Dan and my mate Carl decided to not just go to Glastonbury, but to actually go live and work there for a week, running traffic checkpoints, closing down roads, and generally imposing a truly minimal amount of order for the sake of protecting human (and animal!) life.

Yep, we camped out for a whole week, wearing ridiculously bright orange uniforms, working with the good folks at Avon & Somerset Police (who unlike Greater Manchester Police, actually treat citizens as human beings, considering them innocent until proven guilty and not harassing the law-abiding and trustworthy).

I'll keep it short, because there are a million other blogspot Glasto write-ups out there. Saw and heard a few bands, including The Feeling (ouch they sucked!), Leonard Cohen, Goldfrapp, The Verve and several jazz and indie acts knocking around random stages. The biggest highlight though was working for the good people of the villages and towns around the festival, such as Pilton, Cockmill, Shepton Mallett and of course Glastonbury village itself. Never have I seen a group of people so patient of 150,000 others, keeping a smile on their faces, enjoying the entertainment and not overreacting to the many minor acts of drunken silliness that in many other places would result in complaints and arrests.

Long live Glastonbury, and hopefully next year Michael Eavis will NOT book some dumbass rapper, and instead book a real talent like The Arcade Fire, David Bowie, Lou Reed or Iggy Pop to headline the most glorious festival gathering in the world.

I'll say no more. The happiness of 150,000 other people speaks more to the success of this event than my mere words ever could. Long live Glastonbury.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

One Bright Star, A Cup Of Sugar, An 18 Year Old, And An Automobile Accident

The Sugars

Well, I guess I don't blog as much as I used to. I'm never sure anyone is reading it anyway, but also, things happened that I love to talk about, but that I'm not sure I want to write about.

Last night though, shook me out of literary silence. Another Saturday night, another gig (The Sugars at the Night & Day), what's to write about, right?). Well, just when the mundane is imminent, the unusual, the beautiful and the horrible have a 3-way right in front of my face.

The Sugars were a long-standing date in my diary, a band I'd spotted a few months ago whilst watching other musicians farther up the bill. They surprised me, so I agreed to hand out some flyers for them in Manchester before the show, in exchange for a free ticket, which was nice. It was a good day to head out alone and catch some solo me time, whilst approaching complete strangers and thrusting paper into their hands that most of them didn't want, but were too polite to say no to, a) because I'm a big scary guy to those who don't me(!), and b) because I won the award for best-dressed flyer-person, wearing a nice suit for the occasion! The jacket of the suit was to come in handy helping to save someone's life later that night...

To be honest, my entourage and I didn't even watch The Sugars. We saw two support bands, went for a meal in Bella Italia round the corner (lovely pizzas, and great calamaris with a bottle of wine shared, adding up to about 13 quid each). We hit a couple of bars in the Northern Quarter and feeling a little lost for a 'local' type bar, decided to cross town to what is my Mancunian local - The Garrett, on Princess Street. Great boozer as I've said a few times in the past on here.

Princess Street, Manchester, By Day

Was all progressing normally, drinkie-drinkie, etc. etc. and then on the way there my friends dilly-dallied, leaving me to get there a full 20 minutes before they did. Which pissed me off naturally, but well, fuck it I thought, ordered a beer and waited. And it was in the waiting for others that I met a wonderful girl who merely wanted a light from me for her and her friends. And it was illuminated again; the notion that my friends have frankly stopped trying to be either interesting or interested in the world, each other, or me. It seems to take the attention of an 18 year old more and more often to remind me of what is beautiful in this life. Curiosity, passion, optimism, and kindnesses are what is synonymous with beauty, and it's old friend, 'the good.' I'm looking ahead to my life, which is now looking amazingly interesting, with my return to university for an MA programme I could only have dreamed of 6 months ago, with my 20's still alive and kicking against the impending hell of being another bastard career 30-something. Well, anyway, suffice to say, this young lady reminded this old, decrepid 28 year old that he still has something good to offer!

With all this beauty knocking around me, ugly and his good companian horrible decided not to let beauty completely hog the action for the night. At about 1:15am, I stood up to leave the bar and jump on a train home, only to see a man, no different than me, step into the road and get hit at about 25mph by a taxi. And when ugly happens, it really happens. I stepped across to clear the crowd away from this poor guy, fearing that anyone trying to move him could paralyse him. Thankfully the many drunk people were also fairly understanding of that point about paralysis, so not too many problems with controlling the 'mob' of onlookers. Still, it was Princess Street, a hang-out for differently-minded, and generally decent people. I, and a couple other people kind enough to stop and help in a constructive way, took off our jackets to keep this guy warm, and to place under his head. It was weird in a selfish perspective, to see my most aesthetic and non-functional piece of clothing become the most useful item I had in the world for ten minutes. I think the guy was ok, he was breathing and speaking when the ambulance and police arrived, and whoever he is, I wish him well, and a speedy recovery.

The good, the bad and the ugly, back to back to back, in the space of a night out. Typical!

Plotinus, Greek Philosopher

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Kennedy's, King & A Democratic Dream

You know, I've been watching with fascination and hope, and real optimism, the current US Primaries of the Democratic party. For myself, and others, listening to Barack Obama has evoked something we haven't felt in politics in quite some time. A feeling of optimism, hope for the future, that in these dark times of the 'war on terror' the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the Israel-Palestine conflict, in these dark times of wars in so many places, there is a chance for that most influential of nations and of peoples to empower themselves and subsequently the world, in order that these dark times may have light shone upon them.

It is a light of democracy, a light of truth, a light of freedom and a light of liberty. Somewhere out there, a small piece of light appears. We see a Democrat, a man who can change the world for the better, a man capable of sitting in the seat of the Presidency of the United States, with a fine mind, and a fine heart, who can put together those two great qualities and lead the world in finding peace, in finding solace, away from the cruel and horrible theatre that is war.

One of the wonderful things to have seen, is that we who believe in the message of change from Barack Obama, are not alone. There is a man, recovering from brain surgery today, who knew two of America's finest leaders, John and Robert Kennedy, as his brothers. And even while in recovery, his message to the world is that he wants to be strong enough as soon as possible to continue supporting and rallying for his friend, Barack Obama. Teddy Kennedy is the last of three great brothers, the last of three knights of our own modern-day Camelot, a Camelot where they could send men to the moon, pull back from the brink of nuclear holocaust with the Soviet Union, and work on the streets with black and white people towards a better understanding of who we all are and how we can and must share this precious earth with one another in the cause of peace, love and respect. Teddy Kennedy, I know you can't read this, you're too busy. But hopefully, one or two of your supporters will read this, and join with me, a man not normally religious, a man who is not even American, a man who has never met you and never will, in praying for your health, your happiness, and thanking you and your brothers for trying to make the world a better place.

With your support Senator Kennedy, Obama's dream of the Presidency feels a lot more like the restoration of Camelot in the White House. You see, your Camelot wasn't a monarchy of a family, it was never that. It is a meritocracy, that has sat and waited over 40 years, for the right minds, the right hearts and the right souls to come along, to rise to power and to reclaim what is by right, the noble destiny of the American people. All of the world waits in hopeful anticipation that your vision, the one you've held for so long, that you are bringing back to life with Barack Obama, will survive the cruelties, the brutalities and the political horrors of an ever more modern, an ever more cold, and ever more fascist world.

I watched a beautiful montage of Senator Bobby Kennedy's speech in Indianapolis in 1968, when Martin Luther King was assassinated. His words saved 1 American city in 100 from going up in flames of hatred. For those of you who doubt the significance of 1 city being saved while 100 burn, I ask you to only think of a million families not being as badly affected by violence, not being as badly affected by rioting, and not being destroyed by the misery and pain of finding that a loved one died, in a street, in the night, at the hands of unknown killers in a mob. We hope for Obama's and the Kennedy's vision to finally come to pass, for while even if 100 cities burn, we know that these men have the power, and the desire to start building piece, 1 city, 1 society, 1 country and 1 world at a time. God bless Barack, Obama, JFK, RFK, and Teddy Kennedy, who we hope will be well again very soon.