My Shop (work in progress!)

Monday, 29 September 2008


Last weekend I slagged off Katy Perry and called her a vapid pop act. Well she was on Jools Holland on Friday. OK I'm not going to go out and buy her album on the strength of her performance but she did impress me. She rocked!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Public service announcement

In case you're wondering where my mum, known to a lot of you as Gill, has gone and why she is not blogging it's because she is currently admitted to West Cumberland Hospital with gallstones and infected gallbladder. That is all the news I have but I will keep you updated.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Damien Rice

I then went on to watch the beautiful Damien Rice make equally beautiful music. I really must insist that you watch this too. OK so I have already potentially taken an hour of your life if you watched all of the Jools Holland show I linked in my previous post, so why should you spend another hour watching this video? Well I'll tell you...

I have been lucky enough to see Damien live twice. Both were gigs were in the same venue in Liverpool. The venue was small and intimate, perfectly suited to Damien's style of performance. Both gigs were brilliant but were completely different.

Gig 1
This venue was seated and my then boyfriend Tim and I managed to get seats on the second row. The support act was brilliant, a young lady called Elisa who sang alone, accompanying herself only on acoustic guitar. Her voice was absolutely amazing and brought me to tears a couple of times. Don't bother with her albums though, I bought one and was very disappointed to find it was nothing like her live performance and had gone all europop and totally over-produced.
O had come out in 2002 and still not many people had heard of Damien Rice. There can't have been more than about 200 people in the auditorium. On this night Damien played alone without the band members that helped flesh out his songs on the album. Far from it sounding dull and weak, it was vibrant and exciting. Damien uses lots of pedals and effects on his guitar and voice, even layering them all up to create a wall of sound that even Phil Spector would be envious of.
He was chatty, playful and knocked the audience's socks off! He managed to weave Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" into one of his songs and did the same with Radiohead's "Creep". I think he even threw in a little Jeff Buckley.
Gig 2
A hell of a lot has changed since the last gig. I have split up with Tim and was hoping to go to the concert with a rather handsome pHD student that I'd become friends with. Alas over the summer he decided not to go back to uni and coming all the way from south Wales was too much of a trek. Luckily one of my flatmates buys the ticket from me and borrows my copy of O so she can get to know his music.
Things are different at the concert too - it's the same venue but this time we're standing. People are still milling around while the support act is on so we manage to get near the front. This time Damien is accompanied by his band but minus his co singer Lisa as she is full of cold. She manages to put in an appearance later on though much to the delight of the crowd. People know who Damien Rice is now, he gets played on the radio and there are adverts for his album on the TV. People know the words to his songs and sing along.
In the video linked above you can see that they have lots of candles and joss sticks on stage, and it was the same at our gig. Damien asks for the lights to be turned down just before they play "Cold Water". As the performance is being recorded they can't turn down the lights completely. But imagine what it would be like to be at a concert with a few hundred people and it is completely black apart from the glow of a few candles and joss sticks, which is what it was like at the concert I was at. It was so atmospheric and made the hairs stand up on the end of my neck. Then at the climax of the song, when the drums kick in, they whacked all the lights up again. It was such an overwhelming moment.
Watching this gig online didn't compare to actually being there as I didn't get to fight with my friend as to which one of us Damien was looking at! But it did capture some of the energy and vibrancy of his performance, which sometimes doesn't come across in a recording.
So if you think that his music is wishy washy coffee shop music please watch this video and see how wrong you are. The man is inventive and creative, makes an acoustic guitar makes sounds that a lot of electric guitar players would give they plectrums to be able to make, and has the voice of an angel. Playing for an audience is where his music really comes alive. I was sat there with tears rolling down my cheeks with the beauty of it. Unfortunately I have yet to read this book which I bought last weekend so I can't tell you why I did that.

Jools Holland

Firstly this afternoon I watched the extended version of Jools Holland on BBC iplayer. This show had one of the best line-ups I had seen for a long time since I enjoyed Radiohead, Cat Power and Mary J Blige on the same programme. I really must insist that you watch it, so follow this link. It features such bands and artists as Kings of Leon (pictured above), Metallica, Nicole Atkins, V.V. Brown, Carla Bruni and Sway.

I normally watch Later... after it has been aired on television so I can fast forward through the performances I don't like. This week the only casualty was the one song performed by Sway, a rapper. I'm not a massive fan of Metallica but I was impressed by their performance of "Cyanide", enough to make me want to hear the rest of their new album. Be warned though, "Enter Sandman" which is no doubt one of their best known songs gets cut off part way through. I was outraged! Until I checked out the Later website and found the full performance there for all to see.

Kings of Leon are one of my favourite bands at the moment and I loved seeing them play "On Call" as it's one of the best tracks on "Because of the Times", and a couple of tracks from their new album which is out on Monday. Something tells me I will be taking a slightly extended lunch break to buy it. It's so refreshing that they're number one instead of some vapid pop act. It's been a long time since I felt the need to buy an album on the day it comes out, a privilege normally reserved for Radiohead and possibly Elbow. It makes me even more excited that I'm going to see them in December!!!

I'd never heard of V.V. Brown or Nicole Atkins before but their performances on Jools certainly warrented further investigation. Carla Bruni was pleasant enough, but she sang with an expression her face which annoyed me and didn't make me want to buy any of her music particularly.

Do you like

the new look of my blog? Or should I go back to how it was before?

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

D'eath by D'urbevilles

Image taken from Metro, who also have this opinion of the programme.

I have never read any Thomas Hardy. Most of my readers may now be gasping and thinking "philistine" as you either are my mum or are old enough to be my mum (with the exception of a couple of you) and have a passion for the classics.

I am rather fond of period drama from time to time, my all time favourite being the BBC's most recent Jane Eyre featuring the fabulous Ruth Wilson and equally fantastic (not to mention hunky) Toby Stephens. So as the nights are drawing I do like to spend a Sunday evening on the sofa under a blanket watching a good serial drama.

Sadly I was disappointed. I don't know if the fault was with the BBC's adaptation or with Hardy's story itself. It seemed to me that there was rather a lot of fictional cliches.

1. Poor family think they have aristocratic connections and send a member of their family to ask for money.

2. Head of said aristocratic family turns out to be mad old woman so affairs are dealt with by her son.

3. Son is a "bad 'un" and has his wicked way with poor innocent young maiden.

4. No longer innocent but still young maiden runs away. And yes it turns out she is up the duff.


Only it seems that there are three more episodes! What could possibly happen... so no doubt even though I thought it wasn't much cop I will watch it again to see if it improves. Of course these fictional cliches could actually be original in Hardy's work and everyone has copied him.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Where were you when...

From JJ's blog:

Princess Diana died - 31st August 1997?
I was 14 years old. It is a scientifically proven fact that teenagers need more sleep so I wasn't too happy when my mum woke me up around 9am on a Sunday morning. "Princess Diana has died" she told me, having read this in The Observer. She obviously thought it was big enough news to wake me. My first thought was that she'd been shot so I was surprised to hear that she died in a way that "normal" people die - in a car crash. My mum, grandma and I were going to go down to London and camp, just so we could say we were there as none of us are royalists, but sadly I had to go back to school a few days later. I was painstakingly putting the music of Kula Shaker's song "Hollow Man" into my music notation software on the computer. I had to do it almost note by note and played it many times to see how it was sounding and to see what it sounded like so far. Therefore I always associate that piece of music with the death of Diana.

Margaret Thatcher Resigned - 22nd November 1990?
I was seven years old, and I'm guessing this was a weekday, so I would have been at school. I vaguely remember it being on the news that John Major was going to be leader of the Tories but it didn't mean a lot to me. I should imagine that there was a massive party in Cleator Moor, a nearby town, as they used to burn a Maggie Thatcher guy every bonfire night. It wouldn't suprise me if they still did...

The twin towers were attacked - 11 September 2001?
I was 18, taking a year out after finishing my A Levels and had yet to find a job. My mum, grandma and I were shopping in Carlisle. We were having a bit of an Indian summer so we decided to sit outside at a cafe called Deli France and eat baguettes. Near the seating area was a Radio Rentals shop and soon there was a crowd gathering outside the window. We wondered what was going on as we couldn't remember hearing in the news that there was a football match that day. We finished dinner and went over to the window to have a look ourselves. It was showing pictures of the Pentagon and saying that part of it had collapsed. We wondered what could possibly have happened for part of the Pentagon to collapse. We carried on shopping and when we got back home my grandad was waiting to pick up grandma and he and my dad were sat on the sofa glued to the TV. That is when they told us about the Twin Towers. I remember getting fed up of the constant news coverage because they could tell us nothing new and wondered why they kept broadcasting. I remember having to go and lie on my mum and dad's bed so I could watch Star Trek: Voyager as dad wanted to keep watching the news. They had to change the episode they were going to show in light of the events of that day, so I wonder what happened in it.

England played in a World Cup Semi Final against Germany - 4 July 1990?
Again I was seven, so I would have been at school. If the match was on in the evening then it is entirely possible that I watched it as I remember seeing some of Italia 90 as my dad was watching it. I remember singing "Anchovieeeeeees, anchovieeeeeees!" along to Nessun Dorma.

President Kennedy's Assassination - 22 November 1963
I was but an undeveloped egg in my mother's seven year old ovary.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Black holes and revelations?

Pretty picture is a particle collision, courtesy of CERN.
The Large Hadron Collider is set to be switched on on Wednesday 10 September. There is talk that it might cause the end of the world if it creates a black hole. Scientists are trying to reassure us that we're not at threat, but I still can't help but feel uneasy. The point of the experiment is to discover hitherto unknown secrets about the universe.
So just in case... nice knowing you all!

All Quiet on the Northern Front

Art nicked from my mum!

You will have noticed that I haven't blogged for some time. This is because I am going through a big period of change and haven't felt much like blogging. Even though I've had plenty on my mind I'm sure you lot won't want to hear all the outpourings of my heart, so don't worry I'll keep it brief!

Vince moved out a few days ago and my new housemate Phil moved in. We're all going through a period of readjustment and it'll take us some time to feel normal again. What I realised through Vince moving out was that I still loved him and still want to work things out. I haven't really had a chance to speak to him about this since he's moved out yet but I will soon. There are things he has done or said which make me think he might change his mind about us but I am trying not to get my hopes up.