A Driving Instructor's Blog

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The Met Office has revealed the names it will be assigning to storms during 2017/18. Here they are:Storm Names 2017/18 - Met Office

You could just leave it at that. If you’re like me, though, you might see something a little more sinister.

Once upon a time, hurricanes were always given female names. In our modern PC world, though, this is totally unacceptable, and nowadays they use a mixture of male and female names. I believe that they alternate – so one hurricane will be female, the next male, the next female, and so on.

The Met Office – which started naming “storms” in the UK last year – has been giving them both male and female names from the start. As you know, all science in the UK simply has to involve children (and people with the kinds of children), which explains why you get names like Oisin and Wilbert.

I mean, there have been about six people named Wilbert in the last 100 years. Most of them are dead (a bit like the name, really), and those who aren’t nearly are. And although Oisin is apparently a top choice for Irish language boys’ names in Ireland, I can honestly say that the only time I’ve ever come across it is in ancient Irish literature (Oisin was the son of Fionn MacCool) through one of my favourite bands, Horslips.

The sinister part to my mind is that there are 11 male names and only 10 female ones. Can you imagine the uproar and demands for resignations that would follow if it was the other way around? And I reckon it’s only a matter of time before they start naming them retrospectively – or renaming them after the event – so that damaging ones don’t go down in history as having female names.

I’d bet money that someone somewhere has already raised that one in a meeting.

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Tickets for this sold out in about five seconds, so I had to use my ticket guy to get me in. He came up trumps, with a second-row VIP ticket (free parking and free meal thrown in).Mostly Autumn - support act

The last time Ritchie Blackmore played rock was almost 20 years ago, but up till then he made his reputation as the main man in Deep Purple and Rainbow (they were his bands at the time). Since then, he’s pursued his love of folk and mediaeval type music with his band, Blackmore’s Night.

No one imagined he’d come back to rock – always aloof, with a reputation of being difficult to work with, he had always said he never would. Then, last year, he suddenly announced three one-off gigs around Europe (don’t get me started on Europe), one of which was in the UK, nice and central in Birmingham.Ritchie Blackmore - Birmingham 2016

You have to put this into perspective. Ritchie Blackmore doing this show was pretty much equivalent to Led Zeppelin’s one-off gig in 2007. Perhaps not exactly the same, but definitely up there. The cosmopolitan nature of the crowd showed this, if nothing else: there were Americans, Japanese, and many Europeans present. Deep Purple and Rainbow were that big in the 70s and 80s, and Ritchie Blackmore is considered a guitar-god in the rock world.

The support band was Mostly Autumn (well, mostly – four of the six-strong line up). I’ve seen them before, at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham, but this was a huge step up from the couple of hundred capacity there to a sold-out 15,500+ arena. They did bloody well, too.Ronnie Romero

Ritchie had caused not a little consternation in the music world by refusing to use any of the people who’d been in either Deep Purple or Rainbow in the past in this new incarnation of Rainbow. Some quarters of the music press were suggesting he’d go down like a lead balloon as a result. Ever outspoken – but logical with it – Blackmore had explained his reasons, which were sound if you looked at them objectively, objectionable if you hankered after the past. I initially had an open mind on the subject, but sided with Ritchie when I read that he doesn’t like hip hop music (well, not in 1995 he didn’t).Ritchie Blackmore

It should come as no surprise to learn that the media were wrong. As the band came on stage to the strains of Over the Rainbow, and to rapturous applause and cheers, they burst into Highway Star. In vocalist, Ronnie Romero, there is someone who could match Ian Gillan, David Coverdale, Graham Bonnet,  Joe Lynn Turner, or anyone else, note for note. And it quickly became clear that keyboardist, Jens Johansson, they have a player who could definitely do justice to the late, great Jon Lord’s legendary finger work.Ritchie and the band

Over the years, I’ve read a lot about Ritchie Blackmore, and something which always intrigued me was how many previous band members (Deep Purple) have said that Ritchie would go off on lengthy improvised solos, and it became a skill to work out when he had finished and they should come back in. A lot of years have passed since those days, but obviously – in order to duplicate classic songs – there had to be some showboating. You could see Ritchie keeping an eye on his band, and then giving them the nod when he was coming to a point where they should continue with the song.The lights

The full set list was as follows:

  • Over the Rainbow (intro)
  • Highway Star
  • Spotlight Kid
  • Mistreated
  • Since You Been Gone
  • Man on the Silver Mountain
  • Soldier of Fortune
  • Difficult to Cure
  • Catch the Rainbow
  • Perfect Strangers
  • Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Child in Time
  • Stargazer
  • Black Night

Encore:

  • Burn
  • Smoke on the Water

The light show was also quite spectacular. And one of the backing singers was Ritchie’s wife, Candice, with whom he works in Blackmore’s Night. You can hear a bit of the show here – this is Since You Been Gone/Man on the Silver Mountain:

I got my usual collection of great pictures, and I’ll always be able to say “I was there”.The end?

Ritchie had originally said these gigs were “just for fun” and not to be repeated. More recently he’s been quoted as saying he wanted to see if he could “still do it” (after his reception at one of the Euro gigs). It appears that he isn’t now against doing a full tour.

Here’s hoping.

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A number of my pupils (or their friends) attended the Download festival last weekend. I remember saying to one of them last Wednesday that it looked like they were going to have good weather for it (at the time, it was in the high 20s and very sunny). Note to self: stick to your day job and leave bad weather forecasts to the Met Office and Exacta.

You see, on the morning of the first day of the festival we had one of those downpours that needed a whole chapter to itself in The Bible. And then we had some more throughout the weekend. Download was under about a foot of what they were calling “mud custard”, and as long as I live, I will never understand how anyone can have a good time in such conditions.

The very idea of standing in a field for three days, unable to go to the loo, does nothing for me. Doing it in mud, the liquid part of which is going to be around 10-20% human urine (let’s not speculate on how much of the solid part is… no, let’s not even go there), trying to eat while covered in it, and sleeping in a tent in a similar state does even less. But as this video clearly shows, not everyone feels the same.

The video of this guy’s wacky dance moves has gone viral. TeamRock has apparently tracked him down and named him as Aaron Woods. He has become a worldwide celebrity overnight.

Good luck to him! He was enjoying himself.

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Although Florence and the Machine aren’t really my cup of tea, this story – in particular, the YouTube videos – honestly brought a tear to my eye.

 

The young girl she visited is apparently called Karinya, and she’s in a hospice suffering from a rare form of cancer (and most people will realise what that means as far as life expectancy is concerned). Karinya couldn’t attend a concert the band gave in Austin, Texas, due to her illness – so Florence and the band’s guitarist, Rob Ackroyd, went to her.

Best event of the year.

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OLD POST

ZZ Top have announced a gig in Birmingham at the O2 Academy in June 2016. I’m definitely going – I saw them a couple of years ago in Manchester and it was a great show.

ZZ Top Tour Dates & Tickets

Tickets go on sale Friday, 15 January. I’ve got mine.

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Sad to hear that Lemmy, iconic Motorhead frontman, has died from cancer at the age of 70.Lemmy from Motorhead

He’s had to cancel gigs over the last few months due to ill health, yet he was only diagnosed a couple of days ago.

He was a hard drinking, smoking kind of guy, and if the interviews are anything to go by he didn’t ease up much right to the end.

And yet another one bites the dust. There soon won’t be any decent rockers left.

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Had a good night out last night at the MEN in Manchester. Mötley Crüe are in their middle of their farewell tour and their main support act is Alice Cooper.Alice Cooper and his band

Surprisingly, I’ve never been to an Alice Cooper show before – and I don’t really know why. I like his music, and I certainly like him as a person (he has his own radio show over on Planet Rock). I’d been waiting for him to tour and the alert came through that he was supporting Mötley Crüe… well, the rest is history, as they say.

Actually, thinking a bit more about why I haven’t seen him before, I think it was hearing more of his music on Planet Rock that did it. I realised there was a lot more to him than I had always believed.Ryan Roxie and Nita Strauss

He has a brilliant collection of musicians with him at the moment, but even at 67 Alice can still mix it pretty well. As he says on his radio show, he doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, and he keeps fit – and you can see how that works for him.Alice Cooper band

Since his show was shorter than I guess it would have been had he been headlining, he basically played most of his major hits (of which their are many), including No More Mr Nice Guy, I’m Eighteen, Billion Dollar Babies, Poison, Feed My Frankenstein, and of course School’s Out. The whole show was a huge pantomime, with Alice donning various costumes and using various props, such as a guillotine, where he is beheaded; and a Frankenstein monster.Alice and the Nurse, and the Frankenstein monster

It was a really entertaining show, and I wish it could have gone on for longer.

At this point, I should mention that there was another support band on first, called The One Hundred. God help us if this is the future of rock music – although this is obviously a personal view, they were bloody awful. If nothing else, they were totally out of place alongside the likes of Alice Cooper and Mötley Crüe .

It’s a trend these days that concerts have three acts – the main band and two support acts. Although I have seen some good support bands, as the number of such shows increases, so does the number of mediocre support acts I have endured. In some cases, all these bands do is reduce the amount of time the headliners are on stage for,  and I’m not sure I like that. Mind you, it can go the other way, too. Earlier this year I went to see Black Star Riders (my primary reason for going) at Rock City, and they were supporting Europe (my tertiary reason for going). Supporting both were The Amorettes (my secondary reason for going). We left before Europe had finished – they were so tame.

Anyway, I digress. Mötley Crüe came on and did a brilliant set. All the old favourites from their 30 year career were there., such as Girls, Girls, Girls, Same Ol’ Situation, Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room, Shout at the Devil and so on.Vince Neill

As I said at the start, this is their farewell tour, and much has been said of the legal contract they have all signed which says after this there will be no more Mötley Crüe. It’s funny how time affects different people in different ways. Alice Cooper is nearly 70 and looks fit as a fiddle. Mick Mars – Mötley Crüe’s guitarist – is either 60 or 64, and the poor guy looks much older due to his on going health issues, which mean that he can’t bend his back properly and is in pain much of the time. Tommy Lee almost didn’t make these UK gigs due to tendonitis flaring up a few weeks ago while the tour was still in the US.Vince Neill, Mick Mars, Nicky Sixx

In spite of all that, they gave the fans a night to remember.

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