A Driving Instructor's Blog

Music

I was watching one of the music channels last night before I went to sleep, and they played Rise by P.I.L. I had forgotten how good a song it is.

When it was first released, it made me buy a few other P.I.L. albums, and the track Don’t Ask Me also came to mind.

Back in the 70s I absolutely hated the Sex Pistols – and to be honest, I still do. They were just too contrived. But there is no denying that John Lydon – and the late Malcolm McLaren, come to that – were very talented (even if Lydon spent the late 70s punk era pretending he wasn’t).

Share

I went to pick a pupil up a couple of weeks ago – he lives right in the centre of Nottingham. On my way through the city I hit traffic around the Trent FM Arena. This was due to the fact that Torvill and Dean’s ice show was on that night.

Now, I could start a whole new topic about the average age of the people going to this show, and the fact that being of that age somehow gives you the right to stop on yellow lines with strict No Waiting restrictions, right in the middle of busy multi-lane one-way systems during rush hour. But that isn’t my point.

Anyway, I picked up my pupil, and before we drove away I said to him that we weren’t going anywhere near the city centre because Torvill and Dean were on at the Arena, and the traffic was bad.

He said: “Who are Torvill and Dean?”

I couldn’t believe my ears. He had never heard of them. He justified this by saying that he knew about things from his own lifetime, but not before – but I still found it shocking, and I still wind him up about it.

To make matters worse, I was telling the story to a Pass Plus pupil a week or so later, and she’d not heard of them either. Better still, she said “Are you into ice dance then?” Bloody cheek! I can’t stand it, but I know who Torvill and Dean are.

I mean, what is the world coming to when young people haven’t heard of things that happened before they were born? Some of the best films and funniest comedians lived, worked, and sometimes died, long before I was born – but I still know of them, and I knew of them long before the Internet.

And it’s the same when it comes to music. Rush – who, behind only the Beatles and Rolling Stones, are the band with the most consecutive gold and platinum albums of all time – are totally unknown to most pupils. Last year, one chap (who was into rock music) had never heard of them, but when I gave him some of their stuff he was just blown away. He played it to one of his friends who said “I just can’t believe I’ve never heard of these.” At least I got a couple of converts out of it, though.

But anyway, I refuse to accept it is a sign that I am getting old. It’s just further evidence that young people are getting dumber – at least as far as history goes!

EDIT 19/05/2010: And it gets worse. Another one last night hadn’t heard of Torvill and Dean, either. The problem of ignorance amongst today’s youth is a bigger problem than anyone realises.

Share

EDIT: UK TOUR ANNOUNCED ON 19/11/2010

My heart missed a beat… but it is only a North American Tour. However, Rush’s website says that they’re working on a new studio album, and that means a World Tour is quite possibly on the way.

This is from the News section:

Tickets for Rush go on sale in select markets beginning April 16th at www.livenation.com

(Toronto – Thursday, April 8th 2010) – Rush – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart – is without question one of the most inventive and compelling groups in rock history, equally famed for both its virtuoso musicianship and provocative songwriting.Announced today, The Time Machine Tour is an evening with Rush, where they will perform their classics, give a taste of the future – and for the first time ever – feature the Moving Pictures album live in its entirety.

The band is currently working on their 20th studio album with producer Nick Raskulinecz (co-producer from 2007’s Snakes & Arrows) and in addition to their classics plan to showcase a few new tunes live this summer.

“We were off for a year and a half, and now it’s just pouring. Everything is totally crazy and there’s not a minute left in the day. We’ve got these half-dozen songs, and we’ll probably go in the studio and work on a couple of them and see how it goes, perhaps release something – and I say perhaps – and then we plan on being on the road,” says guitarist, Alex Lifeson.

This summer’s Live Nation promoted tour will visit approximately 40 cities throughout North America beginning June 29th in Albuquerque, NM and finishing October 2nd in West Palm Beach, FL with stops along the way in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Dallas, Holmdel, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, Washington, and more along the way (complete tour itinerary follows).

Rush has sold more than 40 million records worldwide and garnered untold legions of devoted and admiring fans. According to the RIAA, Rush’s sales statistics place RUSH third after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band.

Released in 1981, Moving Pictures was their most successful album, certified 4x Platinum and features some of Rush’s most well known songs and perennial radio favourites Tom Sawyer, Limelight and the Grammy-nominated instrumental YYZ.

“Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage” a documentary created by filmmakers Scot McFadyen & Sam Dunn (whose filmography also includes: “Iron Maiden; Flight 666,’ “Metal, A Headbangers Journey” and “Global Metal”) will premiere at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival on April 24th followed by the Canadian premiere at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival on April 29th. The band was also recently showcased in the comedy “I Love You Man” where they play themselves in a concert scene featuring actors Paul Rudd and Jason Segal as ubra-fans, a performance which has exposed the band to a whole new generation.

Inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame this past March alongside Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, and the Guess Who, Rush has also been nominated for multiple Grammy awards and won a number of Juno Awards. They were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994 and bestowed the Order of Canada in 1997. Consistently celebrated and respected worldwide, Rush is the most successful Canadian rock band of all time and they remain one of the biggest grossing arena rock bands ever.

Tickets for Rush Time Machine Tour will go on sale beginning April 16th in San Francisco, Uncasville, Saratoga Springs, Denver, Chicago, Wantagh, Seattle and Holmdel at Livenation.com. Tickets for performances in Milwaukee, Sarnia and Syracuse go on sale April 17th, check local listings for ticket information. Citi® cardmembers will have access to pre-sale tickets through Citi’s Private Pass® Program beginning April 13th in select markets. For complete presale details visit www.citiprivatepass.com.

For complete tour and ticket information, visit:

www.rush.com & www.livenation.com

Quite amazing, isn’t it, that Rush are third in the all-time list of bands with the most consecutive gold and platinum albums.

Anyway, I’ll have to start saving so I can do the whole UK thing again (that Glasgow trip nearly killed me last time).

EDIT 25/04/2010: I’m getting a few hits from people querying whether Rush are touring the UK. At the moment their website only gives details of North American venues and there is no suggestion that it is a World Tour.

EDIT 20/05/2010: Still getting hits asking if Rush are touring the UK. Another thing to consider is that they usually only tour when they have released an album. As the press release says, they’re working on one… so a world tour must be on the way, but I would guess it will be in 2011 or later.

New Rush Single - From Clockwork Angels Album

New Rush Single – From Clockwork Angels Album

 

 

EDIT 10/06/2010: You can buy a CD single of two new tracks from the forthcoming album. Available as mp3 downloads from Amazon – but I’ve got mine on order from the Rush Backstage Club . If you go to the Official Rush Site you can hear clips of the tracks in the background – they sound good. The album will be called Clockwork Angels.

 

Share

EDIT 18/3/2011: Someone came here asking “what is Roy Wood doing now” and I noticed his site is down. I don’t know why. As far as I know he is still touring.

I went to Sheffield last night to see Status Quo , with Roy Wood’s Rock & Roll Band in support.

Roy Wood at Sheffield Arena Roy Wood began his music career in the sixties – most famously with The Move , and in later years with The Electric Light Orchestra . But I remember him from my teenage years in his band, Wizzard .

Outwardly, he’s kept his age well – he doesn’t look that much different to the way he does in the videos they keep showing of Wizzard in its heyday on the cable music channels. But he’s also kept his voice.

He played a lot of the old, well-known songs – including The Move’s  Flowers In The Rain, Blackberry Way, and Fire Brigade .

His backing band was quite impressive. I haven’t got a clue what their names are (look at his official site to find out ), but they consisted of backing/co-lead singer, four sax players, keyboards, bass guitar, and drums.

IRoy Wood - Backing Bandt seems this was only part of the full band he tours with – he has a seven-piece brass section most of the time.
.
As you’d expect, he finished with Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. The crowd had remained seated throughout the set (what can you expect from old people?) but they got up to clap and dance for this one. In fact, the only thing they didn’t do was get their lighters out and start waving them around!
.
After the set was changed, Status Quo came on. Francis Rossi has been unwell – a number of gigs prior to this one had been cancelled or postponed (I think he has had bronchitis). He looked a little drawn, and Rick Parfitt did appear to be doing most of the vocals early on.
Rick Parfitt & Francis Rossi Now, I have to be honest – I’m not the biggest Quo fan in the world. I don’t dislike them or anything, and I do enjoy listening to them (I enjoy just about anything live. Except rap, of course). But a lot of my interest is based on two things. Firstly, they play guitars, and secondly, the are more or less legends in the music business.
.

The set was actually very good. The animated back-screens worked very well, and the rest of the band was very accomplished (even if the bass player did look like someone you want to slap). Quo played most of their hits, either in full or in medley.

From a musical perspective, it was a very enjoyable night.

Rick Parfitt I like to people-watch when I go to these things – I mentioned the average age of the crowd at the last Queen concert I went to, and I always mention general behaviour and demeanour (who could forget all those children trying to take their own photographs on mobiles at the MGMT gig?)
.
If anything, the average age of this lot was the highest yet. About three quarters of the way through the Quo set, many of them started to sit down – unable to cope with long periods of standing. But the overriding annoyance this time was the old-people smell. Specifically, old women’s perfume!
.
I had two near me. One of them was wearing that sickly flat stuff that makes you feel sick, and another was wearing something that felt like you were having two nails hammered up your nose. God, it was overpowering. And that’s another thing I just reminded myself of: I’d say that more than 50% of the crowd was female.
.
It was pleasantly easy to get out of the car park (only half the Arena had been used for this show, so there was only half the usual traffic – and a lot had come by bus anyway). It was also pleasantly cheap to park (£5). Compare this to when Rush played there – parking had been extended to cover a big field behind the Arena, and it took well over an hour to get out, and I think it cost more like £10 to park.
Anyway, enough moaning. It was still a good night, and a very pleasant way to end a year of live shows (I don’t think I’ll go to another this year).
.
Oh. One more thing. I’m going to have to get a decent bloody camera, which can take pictures in low light with a fast shutter speed. Only a handful came out – it all depends on how still you can hold your hand and whether the subject moves. Mind you, this Sony is over 5 years old now.
Share

Planet of Women

I might have mentioned this somewhere else, but a while back I went to see Graham Bonnet (formerly of Rainbow ) with a mate of mine. Now, I was never a big fan of Rainbow and I always thought that Graham Bonnet seemed to be trying way too hard in more ways than one – those Wayfarer shades always spring to mind, along with the veins bursting out of his neck when he sang.

In all honesty, the gig was pants (my opinion, obviously, as there were people there who were clearly enjoying themselves). But the real revelation was the support band.

I’m not completely sure how Planet Of Women works. They appear to be a trio of girls, but they also rely heavily on a talented backing band – which seems that it might be composed of whoever is around at the time. This is not intended to take anything away from them at all, and I guess that all will become clear(er) in time. But the lead singer’s voice is nuclear-powered – she sounds a little like Tina Turner but far more powerful.

From what I can figure, the lead singer (Jade) has been unwell and that would explain why I can’t find any upcoming tour info (though annoyingly, I keep finding reviews of gigs I’ve missed). Their website suggested an album was in the offing. Nothing seemed to appear, but when I did a bit of scouting I managed to pick up an EP/single off eBay , and I also found a live set available for download from TuneTribe.

I’ve resampled a few tracks from the live set – have a listen.

1. I don’t Care

2. I’m A Woman

3. Waking Up The Neigbourhood

Share

Being out and about I’ve noticed that some people – a surprisingly large number, in fact – have had Christmas decorations up since November. Pretty sad, really.

Appreciation of aesthetics is not one of the strong points of people who go for early Christmas decorations. They seem to be of the mind that if half a dozen lights look nice, then several thousand will be absolutely stunning. They’re right – but it all depends on what you mean by ‘stunning’.

Thinking about last year, one house not far from me had a Santa on skis crashed on to the roof, another Santa with skis splatted to the bedroom window, a Santa with a sack on a rope ladder hanging off the drainpipe, another Santa hanging from the windowsill… there were probably more. I lost count.

Already – and since November – there are houses with those preformed lights stuck all over the front: Santa on a sleigh, various reindeers, hot air balloon (never understood that one), a train (that one, neither), fir trees, dangly icicles (many of which have been hanging off the roof since last year), spirals wound around trees in the garden… the list goes on.

I don’t know if you ever watched that film with Dan Aykroyd – Coneheads. There’s one scene where Mr Conehead takes a photo of his daughter going out to the prom with a human date. He has this huge camera flash with a metal grid across the front. When it goes off you see the human with his hair all singed and blasted back, and the grid pattern burned into his reddened face. Well, there are a couple of streets around here where you really would be advised to wear sunblock if you walk down there at night. ‘Tacky’ doesn’t even come close to describing it.

Listening to the radio today it was part-entertaining and part-sad to hear the presenters trying to turn every single comment into a Christmassy one. It’s only 4 December – we have 3 weeks to go! I’ve heard Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody (link removed as it is now broken) about a hundred times in the last three days, and Wizzard’s I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday (link removed as it is now broken) is a close second.

I’m now waiting to see my first ‘idiot wearing a Santa hat’.

Share

OK, I think I got this gallery thing figured out – here are some photos I took at the Queen + Paul Rodgers gig a few weeks ago.     

Click the thumbnails to see a medium-sized image, then click that image to see the full size photo (the full-sized images are reduced to 800×600 from the original 2592×1944).

Share

Well, I went to see MGMT last night. Musically, very good, but couldn’t hear a damned word he was singing. Couldn’t even hear a word he was saying on the (very) rare occasions he spoke to the audience. The sound was a bit muddy and the vocals had way too much echo on them.

I was surprised by the performance. The band has almost no stage presence at all. It’s just five people, each doing their own thing in their own little space. The singer looks like a sulky teenager and behaves like that all the way through. The keyboards player at least made an effort: he was wearing large and ridiculously dark sunglasses. The lead guitar looks the part and is quite accomplished, and since much of MGMT’s repertoire involves fairly long guitar riffs this was welcome. I don’t think the bass player looked at the audience all night. You definitely got the impression that they didn’t really want to be there.

The thing we noticed on the way in was the age of the crowd. It was full of students doing what students do best: being annoying. I’ve never seen so many people in one place all trying to take their own photographs.

In the venue there is a flight of stairs which leads up to a first floor. I’m pretty sure there is a bar up there, and I’d be surprised if there are no toilets (but there might not be). Well, we stood quite near these stairs, and also near the two or three steps which lead down to the floor in front of the stage. As the time neared for the main band to appear there was a constant two-way flow of people up and down the stairs and up and down from the main floor. I have never seen it that way before. Even when the band came on, it triggered a further flow of people – away from the stage, it seems.

I suppose that since students are only technically not children, and certainly at this precise moment they were children up until about a month ago, the presence of a flight of stairs to keep walking up an down simply because it is there has to be accepted by those who were genuinely there as adults. (Incidentally, at a Rush gig last year someone had brought their son – he only looked about 9 or 10. He must have walked from his seat at one end of the row, past me to go somewhere, then come back 5 minutes later at least a dozen times. It’s just what kids do, even if it IS extremely irritating.)

Oh, and the other people-watching thing involved the two girls in front of me. After they’d taken a few pictures of themselves on the camera phone, heads together, laughing hysterically, arm outstretched, they then spent the whole gig yak-yak-yakking to each other. I don’t think they looked towards the stage once.

Finally, we went for a curry in a local restaurant which has featured on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. It was absolutely crap – like the chef had forgotten to put any curry powder at all in the dishes when he was making them. There was literally no curry taste of any kind.

Share

Every night, when I go to bed, I spend some time listening to the various digital music channels on Sky. I channel-hop until I find something decent – something which can make your finger tired after a while, as the amount of decent music seems to constitute less than 1% of the total music played on these channels.

I detest all forms of (c)rap music – the ‘c’ is silent when you pronounce that.

I like rock, so Kerrang! (Sky channel 368) is annoying when it plays (c)rap music. It’s also annoying when it keeps playing Slipknot and other bands who all sound exactly the same, and who feature lead singers for whom laryngitis is a suitable cover to hide their inability to sing. Apart from Kings Of Leon, Foo Fighters, and so on, one gem I heard recently was Operation Ground & Pound by Dragonforce. It was good enough to make me get tickets to go and see them on their forthcoming tour.

MTV2 (355) blows hot and cold. It goes through long phases of playing absolute rubbish (more (c)rap, Oasis, pop music, people from London pretending they talk like black gang members, people pretending they’re from London pretending they talk like black gang members, etc.). At rare intervals, they play a track a few times by someone who actually sounds good –  so I got tickets while back to see MGMT in a few weeks. Meanwhile, MTV2 is back to playing Oasis every five minutes.

Sometimes, you’ll channel-hop several times through all the channels and the only music you can find is (c)rap. Boring bass lines, blokes trying to pretend they’re gangsters (sorry, ‘gangstas’ – illiteracy is mandatory for this genre), women trying to pretend they’re somehow hot, all feeling really happy with themselves because the video editor made it look as if they could dance like Michael Jackson used to be able to. Yaaaaawn. The only song in the last 10 years broadly from this genre that was anywhere near good was Outkast’s Hey Ya. And everything they did after that (and before) was crap (the ‘c’ isn’t silent this time).

Now, I enjoy some classical music, too. It’s great to hear Vivaldi or Mozart played by a decent orchestra or musician on ClassicFM (now oMusic, channel 369), though hearing Nigel Kennedy say ‘cool’ at the end of a performance is somehow pushing attempts to make classical more accessible a little too far. Videos for classical music often try too hard! There’s something slightly disturbing about a strapping red-haired woman being shown dressed demurely in one scene, then with her legs wide open and a cello stuffed in between them in another. It just doesn’t quite work. Some of the newer classical or pseudo-classical composers are simply pretentious (anything by the Michael Nyman band – discordant, reptitive garbage), but every now and then you find out about something really good. Sigur Ros and Efterklang are two such, and Little Death Orchestra’s Tiny Crescent Sun was excellent (shame they were a one-off).

But one that really caught my attention the other night was Nell Bryden’s Second Time Around (link removed as it is now broken).

Share