Sunday, 21 June 2009

The gig-athon is over!

Four out of four gigs now done and dusted, so what has my Meltdown gig-athon taught me? Well, I attempted to write the review of Monday's Yo La Tengo gig on the night of the gig but ended up with my brain scrambled after two paragraphs and tiredness beating any coherent sentences out of my tiny mind. At least I tried though. The review eventually went live on Wednesday which you can read here: Yo La Tengo @ Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Moby’s gig at the Royal Festival Hall was good but veered more towards his downtempo chilled side, as does his new album 'Wait For Me', rather than his more uptempo, frantic dance side, which he last unleashed on previous album 'Last Night'. This decision could have been down to the atmosphere of the all-seater venue but when he did play 'Go', for instance, everyone leapt up and danced anyway.

Well almost everyone. I now know that hacks are placed next to the aisles at the RFH and QEH. I shall keep an eye on them in future to see if any of their empty soulless husks show any kind of flicker of enjoyment when they're doing the job thousands would happily wring their necks for...

Being in a catatonic state at a gig is almost forgiveable compared to what happened at Thursday's Mike Patton and Fred Frith gig though. Yes the gig was extremely experimental, self-indulgent and at times unlistenable. This changed however when hugely talented beatboxer Shlomo came on to assist but the lazy jaded hacks in front of us had long since fled and missed this. Surely this resulted in a poorly written, inaccurate review?

I just want to know who was sitting in Row E, seats 12 and 13 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Thursday night. I reckon they should be named and shamed! These people are paid to do their jobs and I'm not getting paid a bean for this and being more professional. If this is indicative of the level of commitment and professionalism among journalists within the newspaper industry then perhaps it's a good thing many of them are looking over their shoulders and wondering if they’ll still have a job in a year’s time. It may make them a bit more committed to the cause and more willing to prove their worth.

Anyway, back to the gig. The girl next to me sneezes. Does it add to the music? Brian Eno, who pioneered the concept of ambient music in the seventies, may well have said it did. The background noise is a relevant as the music itself, part of the music even. At the risk of disappearing up my own arse though, I have to say that while I'm glad I witnessed Patton and Frith jamming to their hearts' content, I am glad I didn't pay to get in. Paying £35 to watch a set that is only an hour long and contains no discernible music would have left me feeling short-changed, especially when you bear in mind that everyone needs to look after their pennies at the moment. In a way it was inspiring but then I can afford to be inspired by something I haven't paid for can't I?!

Last night was again hugely experimental as Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) teamed up with his serial collaborator, jazz drummer Steve Reid. Mesmerising stuff it was too. Review to follow. UPDATE - here it is!

Overall I had a realisation this week. Staying up till silly o'clock to write a review that I'm not even being paid for is ridiculous, especially when I am snowed under in my day job at present and need to be alert and focussed during the day. This may sound blasé but I think I'll stick to writing a review of a gig the night after it happens in future. It means it'll get published just a few hours after one written by a fully paid, full time journalist who couldn't even be arsed to stay for the whole gig. I don't think it’s my journalistic professionalism that should come into question when you look at it like that, do you?!

Useless music fact #4: Brian Eno came up with the concept of ambient when he was lying in a hospital bed recovering from a serious accident. He asked a visiting friend to put some music on before they left but after they left the room and the music started the volume was very low. Eno noticed how the sound of the rain falling outside merged with the music he was listening to and so was born the concept of ambient music.

Originally posted on on 21 June 2009.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Meltdown meltdown?

Over the coming week it's possible I may be biting off more than I can chew. I've agreed to cover four gigs in six days for this year's Meltdown festival down on the South Bank which is being curated this year by Ornette Coleman. Tomorrow (Monday) holds New Jersey indie stalwarts Yo La Tengo, Tuesday it's Moby, Thursday I'll be hoping for some melody from Faith No More's Mike Patton and his latest project, Tomahawk, and then Saturday will be spent watching Kieran Hebden of Four Tet fame jousting with jazz drummer, Steve Reid.

Four gigs in six days? 'You lucky swine!' I hear you cry but the challenge will be in writing all of the reviews. So I'd normally write a gig review up the night after, but then I'll be at another gig so I am contemplating writing the reviews on the night the gigs actually happen. Crazy perhaps but it could just work though it will take a new approach on my part to do it. The whole process of procrastination will have to go out the window (see previous blog entry) and the perfectionist in me will have to be bound, gagged and left in the cupboard under the stairs for the next week. Can it be done? I'll keep you posted but if I can find a quicker way of working through this coming week then that can only be a good thing. Alternatively the 'Meltdown meltdown' could happen and I'll end up quietly sobbing on my keyboard at 4am every night/morning...

Whether I manage it and how I go about it remains to be seen but four gigs in six days? I can't wait!

I nearly forgot this week's useless music fact (#3). One for the old skool cheesy quavers out there. Did you know that Altern 8's Mark Archer was once in Bizarre Inc before they found chart success with the likes of 'Such A Feeling' and 'Playing With Knives'? Archer of course enjoyed his own flirtation with the Top 40 when he strapped on his chemical mask and teamed up with Chris Peat to release glostick anthems like 'Infiltrate 202' and 'Activ 8'. Bizarre Inc went on from rave to release chart-friendly house before mutating into Chicken Lips while Archer has since picked his mask up again to DJ under the Altern 8 banner once again to make many an old raver misty-eyed.

Originally posted on on 15 June 2009.

Monday, 8 June 2009


Well, I was going to write my next blog entry sooner but I needed to erm wash the dishes and watch that programme about the sex life of fleas and then there was the reorganising of my bank statements into date order which I really HAD to do NOW, OK?! Anyone who remembers studying at school or university will identify with being faced with a deadline and feeling compelled to do just about anything else under the sun aside from the task in hand. It can be the same when faced with writing an article. Out comes the hoover, you feel compelled to call that friend you've quite happily neglected for the past three months and you find yourself taking a real interest in Murder, She Wrote for the first time in your life.

If the TV isn't a big enough distraction then there's the time sapping black hole of the internet to contend with too. The interweb is a devious beast as well because even when you do finally start researching your article online you can either find yourself distracted by the 'related links', which often send you off on a completely useless tangent, or you automatically log into your Facebook account out of habit. This can often lead to the obsessive compulsive procrastinators loop of Facebook, Hotmail, Facebook, Hotmail, Facebook, BBC Weather, Facebook, Hotmail. Neither direction is a good one to go in when you have that big black dreadline cloud hanging over you and can only lead to a very late night, two hours sleep face down on your keyboard and then the realisation when you awake with marginally more sense that nothing you wrote before you passed out makes the slightest bit of sense and even if it does there's five times the amount of words you were commissioned to write. The wood and the trees look remarkably alike but you're on a promise to get the article in first thing in the morning and that happens to be a mere 90 minutes away. You struggle through in between swearing and frustratedly tugging at clumps of your hair while feeling like some kind of drug-addled space cadet.

But somehow, you make it. You meet the deadline. The editor is happy and no one aside from you knows the ordeal you've been through to get the article written. To think you could have just bloody well got on with it without the impromptu spring clean or the assistance of Angela Lansbury... but that's something the professional procrastinator can only dream of.

Anyway, time to exorcise some more chart trivia from my overloaded noggin with useless music fact #2: The Prodigy reached number three with their debut hit 'Charly' in August 1991. The fairground style follow-up 'Everybody In The Place' went one better and hit number two but it wasn't till 'Firestarter' in 1996 that Liam Howlett and co. finally hit the top spot. However, even though that is their best known track to date, follow-up 'Breathe', which also hit number one, sold more copies. Fancy that eh??

Till next time…

Originally posted on on 8 June 2009.