Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Reading Festival 2006.

As I arrived on the Rivermead site at Reading on the Wednesday lunchtime before the festival began, the heavens opened, just as they did last year. It right royally pissed it down and I was not a happy bunny. I was even less pleased when my tent decided it wasn't going to be erected. It is an umbrella tent and by rights should be the easiest of tents to put up, but somehow the struts had become twisted and the bugger wasn't having any of it. In a rain storm and with the very kind assistace of one of the camp security guys it eventually became untangled, after taking the thing apart, and it went up with out any further problem.

Some of the other Attitude Is Everything stewards also arrived, namely Mark from Northampton and Tony and John from Hartlepool and we all managed to set up camp together. We were the only people in the whole disabled campsite at this time so we were able to spread out a bit and chill out. After signing in with Oxfam, getting our shifts sorted out and going to a briefing meeting that evening we were free to do what we wanted until our first shift on Friday morning. We made the most of it by sitting about drinking beer and smoking tabs whilst listening to some top tunes from the Hartlepool lads cd collection. Another of the Attitude crew, who was looking after the Attitude info tent in the disabled camping area, DJ Void better known as Tom, had also arrived at this point.

The first official day of the festival was on Friday. Mark and I had been allocated as stewards to the Lock Up/Dance tent. The first two days of the festival featured punk bands in the Lock Up tent and so it was acoustic Ska band Blue Kings that kicked off my festival musically. They put of a good show and had quite a following. Then came a bit of Zombie Thrash Metal with Call More Paramedics, the highlight of their set was an impromptu "circle pit' that started in the middle of the tent around the main tent pole. For those of you who don't know what a circle pit is I'll explain. Basically you and several other people mosh but at the same time run round in a circle, if any one goes down the pit stops, picks up the faller and then carries on. When a circle pit is in full swing in the middle of a large crowd it looks fucking brilliant fun. It was to feature heavily in the tent for the next couple of days. After several more ordinary, in my opinion, punk bands I managed to swap tents for about an hour in order to see The Gullimots, as one of the guys in the Radio 1/NME tent wanted to see Lightyear. I was more than happy with this as I was really looking forward to seeing them when the line up was announced. They are a very good live band indeed and went down well, this despite not really being suited to such a big arena. I would love to see then in more intimate surroundings.

My shift finished at 4 o'clock so I went and had some food and then made my way to the main stage to see Belle and Sebastian. It was Stuart Murdochs birthday on Friday so Stevie got the crowd to sing 'Happy Birthday' to him, to which he looked highly embarrassed. As Belle and Sebastian shows go. this was a little disappointing. Fab as they are live, a big arena such as the Reading main stage, is just too big for their kind of sound, not that they were bad in any way, far from it, it just lacked some atmosphere. The same can be said for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs set. Now I really liked the first Yeah Yeah Yeahs album and the second isn't half bad either, but live!! Dull, dull, dull. Karen O rolls about on the floor with a silly mask on and tries her best but the theatrics are lost because of the vast arena.

John, Tony and I had agreed to meet up back at the Lock Up stage to watch Ice T's thrash metal band Body Count. T glided on stage wearing a Michael Myers mask to an estatic welcome. What followed is just maybe the best festival gig I have ever seen. They were blindingly good. The power and speed of the music and Ice T's rapping were mesmerising. Body Count in the Mutha Fuckin House. Indeed.

I then went off to see the Twilight Singers, Greg Dulli, ex of Afghan Wigs new band. I have recently bought their new album and whilst I like it I thought it lacked something. Live however I needn't have worried, they were very good indeed and the guest spot by Mark Langegan was great. One of my favourite artists Jeff Klein was also present on keyboards.

The headline act on the Carling Stage on Friday was a band that my supervisor Rob, who I got on famously with, had told me about. Bedouin Soundclash play a funked up reggae type sound that had the audience bouncing along with them. It was a good end to the day.

My Saturday shift in the Lock Up tent meant missing some bands that I had really wanted to see, like The Fall and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, but all in all it was a good day. The first thing I saw, prior to my shift was the Watford punk band Captain Everything. They had brought along quite a few fans with them and it made for a good atmosphere in the tent. They aren't anything new but they sounded pretty good. Straight down the line punk.

My shift started mid way through a set by punk-ska outfit Capdown. There was a couple of fantastic circle pits in eveidence and a fair bit of crowd surfing. As a result six single shoes, a watch and five mobile phones were handed in. Only two shoes were claimed by mid-night!!!

Flogging Molly had already played on the main stage earlier in the day but this didn't stop the tent being rammed. Their Pogues like material whipped the crowd up and the moshing was fierce but good natured. Not my cup of tea musically but great fun none the less. Later on we had those lovely American boys Anti-Flag to contend with. I've seen them before and am a bit of a fan of their political brand of punk. We had more stage divers (well flag pole divers) for this than any other band over the weekend. In fact I had to call in the security guards to stop it as it was getting so bad. It's not the people diving off the poles I was worried about but the poor bastards that had to catch them when they have jumped from about 15 feet. Anyway, security handled it in a good natured way and the two guys who were standing on the barriers to stop any diving were duly soaked to the skin by water and beer.

Reel Big Fish finished the night off fantastically. They are the perfect festival band. I've never been a huge fan of ska really but this band do it so well. They banter with the audience non-stop, play loud and fast and generally have a good time themselves. It was a fucking great gig and left everyone there wit a huge smile on their face.

Sunday was dance day in our tent and I wasn't really looking forward to my shift. Especially as I had only knocked off 7 hours beforehand. Still it wasn't too dreadful. I quite enjoyed Shit Disco who sounded like they had come out of the Manchester funk scene circa 1979. Very like A Certain Ratio to my ears. Sway was the usual egocentric rapper, but wasn't half bad and Lady Sovreign was not the novelty act I expected. She is darn good at what she does. That was the end of my shift as a steward for this year. I went to see Hope Of The States play what is rumoured to be their last ever gig and then met my mate Richie and his girlfriend. We did listen to Slayer and whilst I can appreciate the musicianship it didn't move me any. It seemed souless and clinical to me.

The last thing I saw was perhaps one of the best things I saw. The Klaxons are going to be huge, judging by the reception they received in the Carling Tent. They play a sort of raved up punk and they do it brilliantly. The tent was awash with glowsticks and er.. klaxons as the band hit the stage. It was the most tightly packed tent I saw all weekend and the dust cloud that the bouncing crowd surfing punters caused was a sight to be seen. Last year The Artic Monkeys stole the weekend with their mid-afternoon show, this year I reckon it was The Klaxons. You'll be hearing about them very soon.

I had intended to go and see Pearl Jam who were headlining the main stage but after The Klaxons and three songs into the very ordinary Larrakin Love's set I just ran out of steam and went back to the tent.

How was this years Reading compared to last year's? Well musically I didn't think it was as good but I had a better time. I made some great new friends and look forward to working with them again next year.

Top Five gigs at Reading 2006

1. Body Count

2. The Klaxons

3. Reel Big Fish

4. Twighlight Singers

5. Gullimots.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Life Under Canvas.

Well tomorrow I'm off to the Reading Festival again as a steward. I did this last year and it was a really good experience. As with last year I am working via Attitude Is Everything as a disabled steward and I expect to be working on the disabled persons viewing platforms ensuring that ease of acess is maintained and that only those people who are entitled to be on the platform are there.

I'm not so impressed with the line-up this year although I am hoping to see Belle and Sebastian, The Fall, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, The Guillimots, Anti-Flag, The Mystery Jets and Bodycount. Last year I 'discovered' quite a few bands and I ended up spending a fortune on cd's. I'm kinda hoping for the same this year too.

Although the festival doesn't start until Friday all the stewards have to be on site by tomorrow afternoon. I'll be kicking my heels a bit on Thursday but Attitude are having a tent in the disabled camping area so I'm hoping to help out there.

If you are going to the festival yourself have a good time and don't forget the toilet roll!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

100 Not Out.

Blimey!! I've just noticed that this is my 100 post since joining the bloggersphere. That's an average of 2 a week since I started on 24th August last year.

They say that a year is a long time in politics and from now on they might be saying that a year is a long time in the life of Marmiteboy. A lot has happened to me in the last year. I have become a festival steward (soon to be repeated next week at this years Reading Festival), I have been tattooed again, gone through a bout of depression and received some therapy that has changed my life, I've seen countless bands, read loads of great books and am looking forward to being part of the Booker Prize judging panel with the reading group I'm a member of and I have bought way too many pairs of trainers but not enough cds.

One of my bested friends is now a member of 'The Establishment' after deservedly receiving an MBE this year. Another one of my best mates became a Dad for the first time. Best of all though is that I met Lily. She has been so fantastic for me. I never thought it would happen and I just assumed I'd be on the shelf for the rest of my days. Now I know I won't. Thanks darling.

Being a blogger has introduced me to loads of fab people. A few of us were posters on Ouch and that started to get a bit silly (lots of trolls about) and it seems that we all decided to do this instead. Some people like The Goldfish and Turtle were blogging long ago and I for one am glad I decided to join them. I wouldn't have met Stella or Gimpy Mumpy if I hadn't been blogging.

Blogging is good. Here's to the next 100 entries.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

There's Always Someone Watching Me.

The current 'terrorist threat' bothers me. I'm not worried about being blown sky high at any minute as I'm of the opinion that the threat is overblown by the powers that be. It is a good way of keeping the masses down is installing fear. It also diverts attention away from other more tricky political situations. For example the recent Israeli/Lebanon situation. Just when the UK and US governments were being criticised over the lack of a stance over the carpet bombing of Lebanon an 'imminent threat' to our nations security rears its head.

Now I maybe a tired old cynic (okay then, not even maybe), but the recent Forest Gate incident when an innocent man was 'accidentally' shot and the killing of the Brazilian guy last year make me wonder if our intelligence services are really that good.

This isn't my main problem with the situation though. Rather it is the climate of fear and mistrust of others it installs. I heard just today on Radio 5 Live that an Asian guy who was meeting relatives at Heathrow was photographed by digital camera by the police and then questioned for 15 minutes. I wonder if I'd been meeting someone at the airport if I'd have received the same treatment? I doubt it very much.

Young Asian males in this country are being targeted at the moment for no other reason than they are Asian. And it is a very worrying situation. When it is mooted that the government is contemplating allowing the security services to give Asian people special treatment at airports, by questioning them more than anybody else before they get on a plane, I start to worry. It is food for the wankers in the BNP for a start to start peddling their racist filth about all Muslims being terrorists. And they'll get away with it too if the tabloids are saying the same thing.

We are in danger of going the sdame route as Germany did in the 1930's here. Jewish people were touted as the cause of Germany's problems and treated with suspicion at first and then hatred. And we all know what happened next.

I urge the public not to get caught up in all this. We are living in a time when there are elements out there that want to blow us up, how much of a real threat there is don't think we really know, however to tar a whole sub-culture with the same brush is dangerous and irresponsible.

I'm sorry this is a bit of a rant but it made me very angry this morning when I heard about the guy at the airport. We have laws in this country about equal treatment and at the moment it seems if you happen to be a Muslim (or just Asian) these laws don't apply to you.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

I Heard It Through The Bassline.

In recent times the British Hit Parade (as I believe the young folks call it) has been awash with cover versions of other artists songs. The problem with this is twofold. First, they are generally shite and second, there is no thought that goes into these cover versions. They are straight karaoke copies. Some dreadful ex Boy Band member does some sickly remake of a sugar coated 70's ballad. Enough to make you glad that Top Of The Pops is no more. However, it isn't always so bad. There have been some darn good cover versions in the past and so I bring you some of my favouries.

I Heard It Through The Grapevine by The Slits.

This may be a bit controversial,but in my opinion this is the best version of this song. Don't get me wrong, I love Marvin Gaye, he has produce 0ne, if not two of the greatest soul albums in the history of music, it's just that The Slits pounding version is nothing short of brilliant. Produced by the legendary Dennis Bovell the bassline thumps into your body. They make it their own.

Jolene by The White Stripes.

Jack and Meg White recorded this song as part of a Peel session in 2001. What I like apart from some great guitar riffing from Jack, is that the lyrics have not been changed to suit the gender of the singer. "Jolene, please don't take my man." Indeed.

Surfer Girl by Low.

This is lovely. Simple as that. It's a song that Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker sang to their daughter Hollis as a lullaby. It's just them and an acoustic guitar and is far removed from Low's usual sound. Brilliant.

Hurt by Johnny Cash.

Who'd have believed that Johnny Cash would end up covering a Nine Inch Nails song when he was doing his rhinestone Nashville bit in the Seventies at the Grand Ole Opry!! Cash really connects with the lyrics here, which are about drug abuse and self harm. If you've seen the devastating video you'll never forget it.

Love Hangover by The Associates.

One of my favourite 80's bands, and in my opinion, one of the most underated The Associates version of this Diana Ross song is spectacular. Late vocalist Billy Mackenzie's multi-octave range is tested to the limit here. And he wins hands down. I recently bought thhis again on cd and it still sounds fantastic.

Mrs Robinson by The Lemonheads.

It is almost a shame that The Lemonheads are best known for this song because it is one of their least accomplised records. It's still bloody good though.

Rock El Casbah by Rachid Taha.

Before we start I have to admit that I didn't like The Clash. They are one of the most overated bands in rock history. A rock-a-billy band that rode on the back of punk. Still this version of their biggest hit by Algerian Rai/Punk superstar Taha, sung in Arabic, is pretty darn good. It should have always sounded this way.

Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me by Low.

The Smiths most self indulgently miserable song is given the Slo-Core treatment by Duluth's finest export (Bob Dylan is the other). Have I ever told you how much I love Low?

In Between Days by Ben Folds.

This is a pretty straight version of The Cure's classic. But I don't like The Cure and I really like Ben Folds. It's my list, so there!!

Wild Horses by The Flying Burrito Brothers.

So much better than The Stones lack lustre version. Gram Parsons gives the song a real passion that I think is missing from Jagger and co's song. One of his finest moments.

Mr Blue Sky by The Delgados.

Another Peel session (in which they also covered The Dead Kennedy's California Uber Alles) by one of Scotlands finest bands. The Delgados turn ELO's overblown opus, into what it should have been. A bloody good pop record.

Of course there are loads of other decent cover versions out there waiting to be discovered. Any song that is given a bit of a twist from the original gets my vote every time. Except if the original happens to be by James Blunt. No one can make one of his songs sound anyting other than crap.