Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Time To Get Ill.

This is quite possibly the best idea anyone has ever had when filming a concert. The usual trouble with concert films, in my opinon, is that they always feel a bit clinical. You never feel part of the crowd, which is the whole point of going to gigs. The Beastie Boys have come up with a whle new concept and what could have been a disaster really works a treat.

New York's finest Punkiest/Funkiest Hip Hop crew handed out 50 video cameras to fans and instructed them to do whatever they wanted with them so long as when the lights when down, they were filming. There were also six professional cameras and some CCTV cameras in use too.
The whole effect is, well, awesome!! Granted, some of the operators are a bit shaky but that doesn't matter. Because the cameras are all synchronised you get reactions from right in the midst of the audience to what is going on up on stage. People dance, rap along, punch the air, jump up and down and that's just the camera operators!!

The music is great too with Mix Master Mike laying down some great grooves and man can that guy scratch!! He is mindblowing. I can't remember seeing anyone use the decks so fast, he is a master of his art. Ad-Roc, Mickey D and MCA jump about the stage in their usual abandon in rather fetching green tracksuits and look like they are still having fun after all this time. You can't it seems keep a B-Boy down.

The dvd contains shit loads of extras, including the ability watch the gig from the six pro cameras, there is a band commentary, some documentaries, music vids and some hidden extras that allow you to follow some of the camera operators exclusively. It is a great package and well worth checking out.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Nail Shot Up Like A Bright Red Snowflake.

Low perform 'Things We Lost In The Fire' - Koko - London 26th July 2006.

It is quite difficult for me to review a Low gig. They transcend beauty you see. As far as live music goes the Minnesota trio are just about Goddam perfect. This was the seventh Low gig I have seen and as usual I wasn't disappointed.

Low have been missing for a little while. Bass player Zak Sally left last year and Alan Sparhawk had some anxiety and depression issues that necessitated a bit of a break from touring. And Mimi Parker fell pregnant.

But now Low are back with new bassist Matt Livingstone who fits in with Low's somewhat geeky image. Zak Sally is a brilliant bass player but a geek he is not. Far too cool for his own good that man. Anyway, as part of the Don't Look Back series of gigs, where artists perform one of their seminal works in its entirety, Low were asked to play their fabulous album Things We Lost In The Fire.

If you like your music played at breakneck speed and like to fling yourself about the dancefloor in wild abandon, then Low are probably not for you. The kings of a sub-genre called (by whom I don't not know), Slo-Core, they produce music so achingly gorgeous and meloncholic in brings a smile to your face. They play slow, real slow, a wall of guitar noise, solid bass and steady rhythms which is intermingled with the sweet two part harmonies of Sparkhawk and his wife Parker.

Things... is probably their greatest moment and to hear it all start to finish was a treat. The venue was like a sauna by the time they hit the stage but once the opening Chords of Sunflower started nothing else mattered but the stage. To be fair Low don't do a lot on stage. Sparkhawk jokes with the crowd now and again but there are no guitar hysterionics. Just a wall of quite beautiful music. It doesn't pound you into submission a la Mogwai, but rather it just sweeps you away like the tide.

After completing Things... we were treated to a couple of old B sides from the single releases from the album and then the best version of (That's How You Sing ) Amazing Grace from Trust that I've heard them do. This was down to the fantastic sound quality at the gig and Sparhawks effects peddles. The mixing desk was manned by the recording engineer from the Things... sessions. The final song was the seminal Two-Step from Secret Name which had been, rather annoyingly, called for all night by some fans.

This was a wonderful gig and made the thought of the journey home to Southend in sweltering heat all that easier to bear.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

A Fox In The Snow.

A fox yesterday.

Okay it wasn't actually in the snow. I lied so I couild include a tenuous link to a Belle and Sebastian song. However it is a good story.

Yesterday I was dozing in bed, as is my want at 5 o'clock in morning, when I heard the patter of tiny feet. This usually means that Twiglet is up and about and about to demand his brekfast. He does this by jumping on the bed, burrowing under the covers and attacking my feet/legs until I get up and feed him. Not wanting to be attacked I raised my head in order to head him off at the pass. I was shocked to be confronted by a FOX IN MY BEDROOM!!!!

I don't know which of us was the more surprised, but if there was a contest I reckon I might win it. Upon seeing me he scuttled off sharpish into the kitchen where he could be heard, whilst I put my leg brace on, crashing about. I arrived in the kitchen and he standing on my kitchen table jumping up at the window trying to get out. Unfortunately the window was tightly closed and he did some bouncing off practice. By the time I had opened the back door he had zipped into the lounge and out of the window, which I had left open in an attempt to at least circulate a small amount of cool air overnight. By careful deduction, I ascertained that this was also his means of entry.

Twiglet, who watched the bouncing off practice from the garden was completely unfazed by it all and sauntered in for his breakfast as if nothing had happened. Marmite was out losing his collar and bell. More expense and birdy carnage to follow no doubt.

This was all quite exciting and woke me up better than any cup of tea would have done. It is by far the best fox related incident on my life so far. I will still be opening the lounge window at night, but not quite so wide.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Album Reviews.

The Avalanche (Outakes and Extras from the Illinois Album) by Sufjan Stevens.

When you see the words "Outakes and Extras" on the cover of a cd the usual response is the head for the hills. Outakes are outakes for a good reason. They're shite. Usually. However, Sufjan Stevens is a different matter. The music on this album is of high quality. In fact it has tracks that are better than some of the stuff that made it onto Illinois, which is quite a feat, seeing as that is such a good album.

What you get here is another 75 minutes of blissful Americana. We get three alternate versions of Chicago (not thankfully the show tune) and several tracks that didn't quite fit into the Illinois opus. Played back to back in adds up to 150 minutes of music that in effect this makes Illinois a quadruple album!! And you don't get many of them these days.

Stevens plays everything except trumpet and drums on this album, he is a multi-talented man. He is, in my opinion the only man who should be allowed to play a banjo in the whole wide world. Is he a genius? Just maybe.

I can't wait for his London gig at The Barbican on November 3rd.

Through The Windowpane by Guillemots.

Is Fyfe Dangerfield the new Brian Wilson? That is the question I ask myself. This album has been eagerly awaited at Chez Marmite after I saw a clip of them on MTV and I bought there mini album From The Cliffs.

Although there are other members in the band in seems that it is entirely Dangerfield's vision that is laid down here. He writes, produces, arranges and does the washing up on this album. The stand out track is the song of the summer Made Up Love Song #43. It's a song about being in love and realising that you're being loved right back and how "the best things come from nowhere". Call me an old romantic if you like but I love it.

As with Sufjan Stevens it is quite hard to pigeonhole Guillemots, they have a sound of their own definitely, but they're not like anything out there at the moment. They don't do wig out guitars and they don't try and sound like a late 70's punk band (like most everything else these days). What they are is purveyors of blissful intelligent pop music. An definite album for the summer and a good outside punt for the 2006 Mercury Prize

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Access Denied - Radio One Documentary.

Well, as I expected, I didn't make it to the final cut of this documentary, broadcast last night on Radio One, about disabled music fans access to live music, both as a punter and a musician. From listening to the programme I don't think my experiences or views were extreme enough. Fair enough. That is what programme making is all about.

But how did the programme shape up? Well I was a little disappointed to be honest. As I feared it was all a little bit tabloid. Radio One did actually commissioned a programme about our access to music, which is good to see. It shows interest. But I'm afraid at times opportunities were missed.

It is all very well interviewing someone about their experiences as a wheelchair user who goes into the mosh pit. Fair play to the guy, but that isn't the experience of the vast majority of disabled music fans. Most of us stand at the back or watch music from the viewing platforms (if there are any). The producers stance on this issue did clarify why I was asked on several ocassions, both by the researcher on the phone and by the producer at interview, if I found that being at the back spoiled my enjoyment of the gig and if I felt disconnected. They were, it seems, angling for something. They wanted someone who needed to be down the front with the 'normal people'. Well it isn't like that. Disabled people I have witnessed have enjoyed the gig and got into it just as well as anybody else in the venue, from the viewing platform.

They also asked me a question about attitudes of venue staff that I have come across too. Now I have been very lucky as generally I have been treated well. However the story about the disabled guy who ended up getting arrested for kicking off at bouncers because they wouldn't let him in a venue did nothing to raise awareness at all. It was just tabloid journalism. My immediate reaction to the guy was that he was a bit of an idiot for getting himself nicked.

And when Feargal Sharkey, now a industry bigwig, denied that there was any agenda behind disabled artists getting signed to major labels it wasn't really challenged. An opportunity missed? I think so.

However, there were some really good bits. The interview with disabled DJ, Emma and the segment about deaf raves were excellent. It showed just how much it meant to be a disabled music fan. Suzanne Bull from Attitude Is Everything was great too. She explained just how unacceptable it was that venues are inaccessible and how many venues and promoters are working to remove the barriers.

I'm glad the programme was made, because it did raise some issues, and, after all it is better than being ignored. I am however, a little sad that it was an opportunity missed. 6 out of 10 I'd give it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Man, that's a good book!

I have been a member of a local reading group, called The Gallery Book Club.We are based at Southend library and have been in existance for the last 18 months or so. Recently we have been in receipt of some exciting news. What is this exciting news I hear you cry? Well hang on a minute while a get a cup of tea and I'll tell you.

Lovely, nothing like a cuppa...where was I?...oh yes the exciting news wot I gotted.

Our group has been one of six chosen to partake in the judging for this years Man Booker Prize. As you may well know the 'Booker' is the most prestigious literature prize in the UK. It's winner can bank on increased sales along with the £50 000 they receive for winning.

As part of the judging, we have been invited to attend the Booker Short List party on 14th September at The London Library in, er, London!!. It is there that the six novels up for the prize are announced.

Then between the 14th September and the award ceremony on 10th October we as a group will have to read all six novels and review them. It is not expected that all of us should read all six books, but I am determined to give it a go. It is a chance of a lifetime to read the whole list (and what's more it's free) and I want to make the most of the opportunity. It will mean of course having to plough through some 'difficult' and 'worthy' books. I expect none of them will be written by Christopher Brookmeyer or Peter Robinson, none of them will be detective novels and none of them will be easy to read, but hey, The Remains Of The Day won the Booker and that was a decent read.

I fully intend to review each book at Blogging Bookworms in the month between the short list being launched and the winner being announced. I may even announce by own Marmiteboy Booker Prize before the official announcement. It's going to be fun this.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Syd Barrett - 1946 - 2006

Musical genius and founder of Pink Floyd has died peacefully at his home in Cambridge following complications arising from diabeties.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Access To Live Music - Radio Programme.

Yesterday I went up to London to be interviewed by a radio producer for a programme that is being put together about access to live music for disabled people. The programme will tackle not only access to venues for punters but also for musicians too.

I answered a request in a post on the BBC Ouch Messageboard asking for interested parties to contact a production company in Manchester. Those of you who are regularish readers to this Blog know that I'm a big live music fan and have an interest in access to live music. Anyway, I e-mailed the company and low and behold I received an e-mail back asking for my phone number. Later that day I received a phome call from a researcher called Cordelia, who spent about 20 minutes finding about my interest in live music, how often I went to gigs and about my work as a steward at last years Reading Festival. She asked me if it would be possible for me to get into London the next week and meet with her producer so that she could interview me further. At the time I didn't know if I was to be used as a resource, or whether I was to be interviewed for the programme itself, which was to be broadcast on Radio One (You know, the young persons station!!)

On Wednesday I made my way to the production offices of Something Else, (who produce all manner of radio shows, a fair few of them jazz related) and met a woman called Jo Meek (who has never produced any 1960's pop records) who interviewed me. It was recorded on one of those new-fangled digital recorders that are about as big as a credit card. The last time I was interviewed by a radio reporter, (for a programme on a treatment I was having at the time) it was on a machine as big as a small radiogram!!

The interview itself was very interesting to do. I was asked basically the same questions I had been asked on the phone but went into more depth. The main thrust of the interview, was the changing nature of gig going for disabled people and whether there had any positive changes over my life as a gig goer (I've been going since 1983 and have been disabled since 1985).

I was also asked to pose a question to an interviewee for later that afternoon, who was none other than Undertones ex-front man Fergal Sharkey. My question to Sharkey (who is now a music industry bigwig) was to ask him if bands should be at the forefront of making music accessible. If bands refused to play at venues with bad access or facilities for their disabled fans, then maybe some of the more reluctant venues might get their arses in gear.

Of course there is no guarantee that I'll make it to the final cut of the programme. There have been loads of interviews and not much time available. However it was an interesting experience to be involved it it.

The programme is to be broadcast as part of Steve Lamacq'a show on 24th July at 11pm. It might be worth a listen

I know I shouldn't really laugh but...

If there is one thing that really gets to me it is non-crips parking in disabled parking bays. It incenses me beyond belief. In fact only this weekend I had a row with a motorcyclist how had parked in a bay thus stopping a disabled motorist parking legitimately. His excuse!! He wasn't going to be there long. Twat!!

Then why pray, did this story, kindly brought to my attention by Lady Bracknell's honoured secretary, make me giggle?

Picture the scene. Frankfurt, Germany. It is the group stages of the World Cup and Holland are playing Argentina. Three young Argentinians can't afford to get in to see their heroes, so they each buy a wheelchair and pretend to be disabled. They get in with cheap tickets and all is going swimmingly. Then disaster strikes. Argentina almost score and the excitment gets the better of our three protagonists and they start leaping and dancing about, forgetting, it seems, that they are wheelchair users for a second.

According to one of the fans, identified as Gustavo, says: "Our friend couldn't stop jumping and a person near us thought there was a miracle happening."

Another of the group, Claudio, adds: "We are embarrassed by what we did, but we had no alternative. We did not have the money to pay for a ticket."

All three fans were kicked out of the ground for their actions, and why I really should be angry at what they did, I just couldn't help but raise a smile.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Phew Wot A Scorcher!!

And I don't mean Maria Sharapova. Well not much anyway. Lily would tell me off.

It is too hot to think, move, cook, sleep, read, eat, walk, drive, listen to music etc, etc.

And I'd like it to stop now please. I have to go 'up that London' tomorrow as I'm being interviewed by a radio production company about access to live music for disabled music fans. Whilst this is exciting, and I may end up on Radio One as a result, I don't fancy trolling around London in this weather.

A warm, dry day with a cooling breeze would be lovely thanks.


Saturday, July 01, 2006

World Cup 2006