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Coldplay & Barry “F’n” Gibb

Coldplay wrapped up the 2016 installment of the greatest summer festival in the world, Glastonbury.  I guess with the recent developments in Britain, you would be hard pressed to find a better send off song than “Staying Alive”.  Really a great move by Coldplay to bring out one of rocks absolute legends, Barry Gibb.  Barry’s signature out of control falsetto is still there, although somewhat strained as he is about to enter his 70’s.  Well done by Coldplay, as they gave the crowd a night to truly remember and a perfect send off after another great Glastonbury festival.

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The Stone Roses – Concert Review – Manchester Etihad Stadium – June 17, 2016

I had ached to see The Stone Roses live when I was a teenager

I discovered them in 1996 the day John Squire left the band and signed their death warrant.

One of the first NMEs I bought was Squire’s parting interview, having been drawn to the newsstand by his brooding cover photo looking like an outlaw on a “Wanted” poster.

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I was so overjoyed at seeing them at Heaton Park in 2012 that I rather overdid the party juice and obliterated most of the gig from memory, but I stayed relatively upright for Glasgow Green and briefly pledged that it would be my final Stone Roses gig, regarding my teenage longing to see them live sated.

However, I found myself almost hypnotically gravitating to Ticketmaster when the Manchester Etihad gigs were announced.

The band are notoriously flaky and workshy, with a history of bust ups and walkouts, so every gig could be their last. Seeing them live is something to be cherished – even if they play more or less the same set every time.

With only two new songs in 20 years – including Beautiful Thing which they apparently haven’t learned to play live yet – their setlist remains largely limited to the tried and tested crowd pleasers that they dusted off for Heaton Park four years ago.

Back Of The Crowd made a rare foray into the mosh pit at the Etihad as it was the first time us plebs were allowed to see the Roses up close – with the front rows at Heaton Park and Glasgow Green reserved for VIPs and premium ticket holders.

When The Stone Roses start to play all the cynicism about the repetitive setlist and pricey entrance fee melts away and you’re swept up in a tidal wave of pure joy.

The opening bass rumble to I Wanna Be Adored strikes like a lightening bolt at every gig like you’re hearing it for the first time.

Ian Brown doesn’t have the bombastic arena shaking voice and stage presence of Freddie Mercury but he doesn’t need it – the songs were built for stadiums and where Brown falls down the crowd carry them on.

Most of their songs harbour massive singalong refrains:

“Seems like there’s a hole in my dreams.”

“Sent to me from heaven.”

“Sometimes I fantasise.”

“This is the one.”

The Roses dutifully played their flawless debut album in its entirety, and looked like they were having great fun with Don’t Stop – the incoherent psychedelic reverse tape loop of Waterfall that many of the Roses’ more fickle fans skip over.

It takes quite a bit of skill to learn a song backwards and emerge with another singalong chorus.

“Don’t stop, isn’t it funny how you shine?”

There were a few variations in the set from last time round.

It was good to hear Begging You, the Led Zeppelin on ecstasy techno-rock monster from Second Coming, belted out live – particularly as Public Enemy, the band that inspired the track, were the Roses’ warm up act.

All For One remains uninspiring, despite the crowd gamely pogoing along, particularly after the 10 minute long self-indulgence of Fools Gold. I must be the only fan that doesn’t bow down in awe at the overwrought fret wanking that closed Shane Meadows’ Roses rockumentary Made Of Stone.

Unlike I Am The Resurrection (more of which later) – Fools Gold just doesn’t go anywhere after about three minutes.

There was no room this time out for Ten Storey Love Song, one of the few big anthems from Second Coming, probably because Squire breached curfew scraping the barrel of Fools Gold.

Made Of Stone was air punchingly epic, and they launched straight on from there into She Bangs The Drums sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Then they took it down a notch with Breaking Into Heaven, another Second Coming track they’ve pulled from the vaults, which fell a little flat after the previous two era-defining classics.

Squire has apologised for writing songs that were about two verses too long on Second Coming and Breaking Into Heaven is a perfect example. It’s a cracking tune but it really is too long and over-written, even shorn of its apocalyptic intro, and slows down the momentum.

It was probably for the best though, as going straight from She Bangs The Drums to This Is The One would have caused a few coronaries amongst the Roses’ pot-bellied middle-aged bucket-hatted fans (although the crowd was noticeably younger this time suggesting the Roses have captured the imagination of another generation).

The inevitable closer I Am The Resurrection was literally breathtaking. The crowd belted out every chorus as though their lives depended on it, and the solo remains a masterclass in dramatic axemanship. Unlike some of Squire’s other solos Resurrection never outstays its welcome.

The crowd stopped pogoing and started dancing like it was 1989 at The Hacienda, and then it was all over. No encores. No frustrated food stomping and cries of “one more tune”.

The crowd were happy and judging by the massive grins and hugs the band were happy too. Their payday has finally come after decades of legal wrangling and mudslinging.

I felt briefly sated after Glasgow Green but Etihad Stadium left me wanting more. We even toyed with paying a tout to go again on the Saturday but wiser heads prevailed.

Hopefully, this will not be my final Stone Roses gig.

Setlist:

  1. I Wanna Be Adored
  2. Elephant Stone
  3. Sally Cinnamon
  4. Mersey Paradise
  5. (Song for My) Sugar Spun Sister
  6. Bye Bye Badman
  7. Where Angels Play
  8. Shoot You Down
  9. Begging You
  10. Waterfall
  11. Don’t Stop
  12. Elizabeth My Dear
  13. Fools Gold
  14. All for One
  15. Love Spreads
  16. Made of Stone
  17. She Bangs the Drums
  18. Breaking into Heaven
  19. This Is the One
  20. I Am the Resurrection

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Stone Roses New Track Beautiful Thing

A decent track from the resurrected Stone Roses is what the world was waiting for, and in a sense the world has got exactly what it asked for – a return to the blissed out grooves of Fools Gold.
Beautiful Thing has everything that made the Roses great – backwards tape mixing, shuffling beat, religious allegory, subdued guitar fighting for attention.

The Roses have reached into their past and rediscovered their groove.

In fact, they’ve reached so far back they’re even dipping into Garage Flower, the shelved Martin Hannett project from the mid-80s which featured raw versions of Adored and This Is The One, with a backward tape intro that’s almost identical to this early loop called Haddock:

“There was no crucifixion,” sings Ian Brown, as though trying to erase the memory of Love Spreads (“Love spreads her arms, waits there for the nails”) and everything that followed, pretending they’ve just swaggered out of Spike Island.

John Squire’s having none of it though. He’s deep in the mix doing his Jimmy Page routine but the band are keeping him in his cage after the overindulgence of Second Coming. There are shades of Breaking Into Heaven in his guitar work here, but it’s less imposing allowing the rest of the track to breathe.

“So so sucky vampire how you love to steal the vibe,” a fuck you to all the record companies and lawyers that shafted the Roses into oblivion.

“All wrapped up in your addiction so we’ll have to say bye bye,” which could be about anyone, frankly. Squire’s coke habit prior to his departure was legendary, but the band were said to be dabbling in different drugs at the time which undoubtedly exacerbated their fracturing friendship.

“You say you love John Lennon but you don’t want the world as one,” a gentle dig at Oasis, perhaps, who stole the Roses Mancunian thunder with a Beatles songbook and a swagger that was more hooligan than hippy.

Squire’s obligatory solo is sublime, with echoes of Santana, clearing the decks for a two minute freak out which is pure Fools Gold – heavy groove, backward mixing, electronic effects, guitar shredding, and closing with a trademark Reni shuffle and a full stop.

Beautiful Thing doesn’t quite restore the Roses to the king of the swingers just yet, but it’s a step in the right direction.

It also puts the much derided All For One into a bit of context. The Roses’ marketing strategy of releasing one song at a time puts each track under intense scrutiny, allowing detractors to nitpick every flaw, but when viewed in the context of the old money singles and EPs that were once the Roses stock in trade All For One now feels like a passable B-side to Beautiful Thing’s main event.

So what next for the Roses? After showing us what they’re still capable of, hopefully Beautiful Thing’s lyrical hook isn’t a hint that they’re going to pack it in again.

“It’s a beautiful thing, so I say bye bye”

They’ve still got at least one more task to fulfil, a huge anthemic chorus to match Made Of Stone, This Is The One, Ressurection or even Ten Storey Love Song.

 

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#Throwback Thursday – RHCP – Dosed

This week The Red Hot Chili Peppers release their 11th studio album, The Getaway. The RHCP continue to release funky, soulful, rock music that is very appealing to the masses. While their Superstar status has diminished in the past few years, they are still a formidable force in the rock landscape.

This week we look back to a great track from 2002’s By The Way album. Dosed is an exceptional song, and shows the tremendous skill in music composition RHCP posses.  The opening guitar riff is beautiful and entrancing. As the song builds Flea’s bass bounces all over your soul, as 4 different guitar riffs create this dreamy, wonderful kaleidoscope of mellow rock mastery. The chorus is sung by John Frusciante and Anthony Kiedis together in harmony, and is absolutely perfect. It’s an underrated song from one of the USA’s best rock bands. Here’s to rock vets The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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#Throwback Thursday – I Wanna Be Adored

Only a few weeks now until The Stone Roses play their first ever show at Madison Square Garden. To say I’m somewhat excited would be the understatement of the year. After convincing myself I would never see them after missed opportunities in England and California, to think I’m a couple of weeks away from seeing The Roses live at MSG, it’s just so surreal.

Although this clip is without the full Stone Roses band, Ian Brown is in full Monkey King mode. Guy is just awesome, can’t wait until June 30th. Way too long in the making.

https://youtu.be/E7dq6w9klDg

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Coldplay – Concert Review – Hampden Park, Glasgow – June 7, 2016

I’ve never been 100% convinced by Coldplay.

When they emerged at the turn of the millennium, I wouldn’t have placed a bet that the pasty faced posh boy in the anorak singing slightly off key in the rain would go on to have an unbroken string of international platinum albums, fill stadiums around the world and marry a Hollywood blonde.
Even when Coldplay hit their stride with their second album, the undoubtedly great single Clocks became so ubiquitous on commercial radio that it became irritating.

I much preferred the third album X&Y, slightly darker and less radio friendly, and was mightily impressed with their live set around that time in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park, closing with a still sublime Fix You.

So it was with these memories in mind that I ventured to Hampden Park over a decade on to see how the have progressed.

Coldplay reached a career high in 2008 with the epic single Viva La Vida and it was undoubtedly the highlight of the Hampden set – big enough to fill the stadium with the entire band belting out the triumphant yells and drummer Will Champion stealing Chris Martin’s limelight with his massive tom and bell.

However, after Viva La Vida in 2008 they went a bit pop and became the confirmed radio fixtures that turned Clocks from a classic to a car radio bore.

Teaming up with Rhianna on Mylo Xyloto was almost unforgivable, and the follow up Ghost Stories was so dour the band considered it unworthy of a tour.

Now they’re back (perhaps for the last time, if you believe the press) with the poppish bombast of Head Full Of Dreams.

Neither Mylo Xyloto nor Head Full Of Dreams are bad albums, but they’re just a bit too polished and pop-filled to feel authentic.

The stage show is spectacular, filled with lasers, fireworks, pyrotechnics, coloured glitter and even your own personal flashing wrist band – but one wonders if all of these baubles are just a distraction from how mediocre much of the set is.

If any militant fans are reading, please hold on to your hate mail. As I say, I’m not a fan – more a fickle admirer who has never been enchanted so my opinion doesn’t count for much in Coldplay quarters.

But aside from half a dozen big tunes, most of which I have already mentioned, very few songs set the pulse racing either on record or, unfortunately, live.

There was a noticeable mass-stupor whenever they played anything from Ghost Stories but otherwise there was a sea of smiling faces down in the mosh pit, most of them teenage girls suggesting the pop moves have paid off if that’s the audience Coldplay are looking for (it is vast, and lucrative).

But towards the end they retreated to a tiny stage at the back of the crowd, and played a mini acoustic set with some old numbers including one they played in their formative years at Glasgow’s career stepping stone King Tut’s, suggesting Coldplay still regard themselves as a mid-sized indie band at heart and not the Hello magazine darlings they have transformed into.

You can’t really grudge Coldplay their success. Most of their slightly earlier contemporaries are now trotting out 20th anniversary tours in small venues (as we have documented fairly extensively in recent months).

But they’ve become a stadium band without a full quota of stadium tunes. You can shuffle along to a song like Ink in an old ballroom but it feels a bit underwhelming in a huge stadium.

It’s doubtful whether Coldplay will ever come down to the level of a mid-sized indie band again, which is a shame as they have enough classics to forgive them a bit of filler if you don’t have to walk a mile for a pint or queue for two hours in a traffic jam to get out of the car park.

For that kind of hassle, you want something historic, era-defining, once-in-a-lifetime, but for me Coldplay just don’t cut it.

Setlist:

A Head Full of Dreams

Yellow

Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall

The Scientist

Birds

Paradise

Magic

Ink

Everglow

Clocks

Midnight

Charlie Brown

Hymn for the Weekend

Fix You

Heroes (David Bowie cover)

Viva la Vida

Adventure of a Lifetime

Kaleidoscope

In My Place

The Hardest Part

See You Soon

Amazing Day

A Sky Full of Stars

Up&Up

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D-Day Piper Bill Millin

Updated from last year, still one of my favorite stories. 
Today marks the 72nd Anniversary of D-Day. You would probably think that finding a connection between music and this historic day would be impossible, but think again.

There are some stories that seem too far fetched to be true. Bill Millin’s story fits this category and he is unlike any other D-Day combatant from that historic day. You see Bill was no ordinary soldier, he was a Bagpiper. Piper Bill, upon the insistence of his commander Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, led the Brits charge on Sword Beach. (more…)

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Teleman – Concert Review – Hidden Door Festival, Edinburgh – May 29, 2016

Teleman / Lanterns On The Lake

Edinburgh’s eclectic Grassmarket is hosting a mini arts and music festival Hidden Door until July 4.

Nestled away in the bombsite-cum-artspace is a neon installation by Jill M Boualaxai packed with tapes, wires and old computer keyboards.

The installation is a vision of the future circa 1982 – like a discarded set from Doctor Who or Blake’s 7.

Headlining Hidden Door’s live music room on May 29 was London art-rock band Teleman.

Teleman sound like a vision of the future circa 1982 – a band assembled from discarded bits of prog-rock, post-punk, new-wave and electronica with a bit of Britpop glue.

The four-piece are both modern and retro, with the stripped down production and the slightly hackneyed electronic effects which are back vogue thanks to bands like Alt-J.

Dusseldorf, the opening track on their new album Brilliant Sanity, and Strange Combinations reach back through Franz Ferdinand to their new-wave antecedents The Cure and Depeche Mode, while Fall In Time and Christine are pure Alt-J.

Steam Train Girl and Tangerine recall mid-period Blur, around the time of their lo-fi fifth album and 13.

Teleman’s debut album Breakfast was produced by Bernard Butler, and while they aren’t as ostentatious as Bernard’s old band Suede there are hints of the ‘90s indie darlings in there – particularly in Thomas Sanders’ well spoken English dandy intonation.

Sanders is an unlikely looking showman with his neat side parting and and stripy Topman-style shirt but he has some rock moves, even venturing out into the crowd for an extended audience participation version of Drop Out.

While their influences are clear, Teleman do have a few modern classics in the making to add to the alt-rock pantheon, packed away into the mini-encore at the end of the short festival set.


Glory Hallelujah sounds like it’s been around forever, so much so I had to check the iPod during my pre-gig research to make sure it hadn’t skipped to prime-period Arcade Fire.

I’m Not In Control is unnerving and hypnotic with obvious hints of Joy Division, particular the title and vibe which aren’t a million miles away from She’s Lost Control.

Thomas Sanders’ robotic delivery and his brother Johnny’ retro synths drew the crowd in, reaching a crescendo before cutting out just at the point where everyone was about ready to erupt into a mass Ian Curtis style freakout.

I’ve already bought a ticket Teleman’s return to Edinburgh in October, in the 250 capacity L-shaped buzz-kill Electric Circus.
While they’re still playing small (and in Edinburgh, sub-standard) venues a bit of love could upgrade them to the 650 capacity Liquid Room, which is currently two-for-two in Across The Pond’s gig-o-meter after Kula Shaker and The Bluetones redeemed the city’s reputation from the sins of the more cavernous Usher Hall.

I’ll also be paying more attention to Hidden Door’s penultimate Sunday band Lanterns On The Lake, who apparently haven’t visited Edinburgh for several years but are welcome to bring their fine noise back any time.

It takes a lot of talent and guts to resurrect the Les Paul and violin bow routine made famous by Jimmy Page, and subsequently pilloried into prog rock’s Room 101 by Spinal Tap.

But LOTL’s burly bald axeman Paul Gregory pulled it off, ably assisted by Angela Chan’s proper violin work to make the rafters of the dilapidated makeshift concern venue reverberate with powerful soundscapes and perhaps even upstaging top of the bill Teleman.

Setlist:

Skeleton Dance

Fall In Time

Steam Train Girl

Tangerine

Düsseldorf

Christine

Strange Combinations

Brilliant Sanity

Drop Out

Glory Hallelujah

I’m Not In Control