Paul’s rules for a happy gig-going experience

19 March, 2011 Leave a comment

These rules are my distillation of my experiences of gig-going as a fiftysomething who is now attending far more gigs than he used to, egged on admittedly by a music-mad son who likes his dad to buy his tickets for him…

1. Choose your venue with care. Preferably small, preferably standing. Standing because…

2. If your neighbours are annoying you, you can move. Taking the moral high ground and standing your ground (and fuming) is counterproductive. Avoid the braying masses by standing elsewhere. Preferably…

3. Stand at the barrier. Not centre stage, but well off to the left or right. This is ideal because:

3a. You will be stood next to the speakers. It will be loud, so you will not be able to hear the fuckwits.

3b. Off to the side, you avoid the jumping, moshing, crowdsurfing fuckwits.

3c. You will have an ace view of the action. And you will have something solid to lean on.

3d. You will be at the front – with the fans. Who are less likely to talk, and more likely to focus on the performers.

4. Don’t drink. You WILL need to go to the loo, and you WILL lose your place. And have to stand with the fuckwits.

5. Choose your act with care. There are some performers who are MADE to be heard live. Focus on them.

6. At festivals – all the above rules apply, especially the ‘venue’ rules. It is a fact that a small band on a small stage is ALWAYS a better experience than the biggest band in the world on the Pyramid. If you want to see U2 or Beyonce at Glastonbury – set your Sky+ before you go and head off to the Park or the Acoustic tent instead.

Categories: Uncategorized


13 June, 2010 1 comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Mott the Hoople – The Ballad of Mott (A Retrospective)

And so it begins – the 2010 World Cup is two days old!  And already I’m sick of that bloody noise, droning on and on incessantly throughout the game.

But enough about Mick McCarthy.

England get off to their traditional awful start, shooting themselves in the foot with yet another dreadful goalkeeping error.  Whilst you have to feel for Robert Green, it was woeful.  I suspect that’s his World Cup over already.  Please God let Ledley King’s tournament not be over, as the thought of Carragher lumbering about in the centre of defence, a leg-breaking tackle and sending off just waiting to happen, doesn’t bear thinking about.  Phil Jagielka, Joleon Lescott and others must wonder what they’ve done to upset Capello.

Still, good to see Messrs Donovan and Howard playing well, as did Joe Yobo and the Yak in the Argentina – Nigeria game.

It’s early days, but no single team has really stood out so far.  Possibly the South Koreans, but then they were playing a Greek team who were so abject it was untrue.  Argentina made hard work of their win against Nigeria, but there is so much talent in their ranks one would expect them to go far.  I hope they do – if only for the joy of seeing Maradona strutting about on the touchline like a bearded, bouncy, wind-up weeble.  Diego could dominate this tournament – in a very different way – as much as he did in 1986.

So today the delights of Algeria v Slovenia, Serbia v Ghana and Germany against the Socceroos.  Come on Timmy!  Plus, of course, a Grand Prix to fit in as well.  Mrs W can have the telly back when I’m at Glastonbury.

A bit of Mott playing in the background as I type.  Back in the mid-70s, Mott were *my* band – firstly the early, pre-fame rocky stuff on Mad Shadows and Brain Capers, then the later, glam-flecked Dudes phase when they bothered the charts for a brief period.  The glam stuff never really sat well with them, they were rockers at heart, but when they were good, they were very good indeed.  And no-one wrote better songs about being in a band than Ian Hunter.

And here is just such a song!  The Ballad of Mott!  A song by Mott, about Mott.  Tune!

>What are they gonna say about him?

30 May, 2010 Leave a comment

>What are they gonna say?  That he was a kind man?  That he was a wise man?  That he had plans, man?  That he had wisdom?  Bullshit, Man!

I’m gonna say that Dennis Hopper was one of the finest character actors of the last fifty years.  He had his demons – and he played some demons as well.  Frank Booth may well be the scariest, most believable psychopath ever portrayed on screen – and Dennis portrayed him to perfection.  Just how much of Dennis was in Frank?

But Dennis didn’t just do scary – he did cool as well.  Here’s a great scene from a great film.  Clarence and Alabama have just left for California, when Christopher Walken comes calling on Dennis to find out where they’ve gone – with all his narcotics…

You’re Sicilian, huh?

Dennis Hopper.  Legend.  As Frank might have said, “Don’t drink to his health.  Drink to his fuck.”


29 May, 2010 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Cornershop – Handcream for a Generation

As always, following in the footsteps of my youngest, I’ve extended my blogging wings across to the next big thing, Tumblr.  A slightly prettier blogger, a wordier Twitter, it just might catch on.  I’ll still keep posting here, for all you blogger diehards, but will port everything across to my Tumblr page as well.

Neatly, I can also link my Tumblr page directly to my own personal website – so those of you who’ve looked in vain for some content on – look again!  Given the nature of Tumblr, you might find some additional content up there that won’t ever appear on this page – so get bookmarking…

A while since I’ve posted – a combination of work taking up most of my time and precious little exciting to blog about, but what else is a boy to do on a wet Bank Holiday Saturday?

With the festival season approaching, the wetness needs to be having a word with itself and disappearing to foreign parts.  Weather something like that we had last weekend will do very nicely, please!

And a very pleasant weekend it was too.  Went over to Huddersfield to see The Boy, and we ended up in his drinkery of choice – The Parish.  No bands, just a nice couple of pints in the sunsheeine and one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten.  Tasty!

And speaking of festivals, tickets arrived this week for both Glastonbury and Cropredy.  Spent the day “working from home” waiting for the Glasto ticket – which finally arrived…at 9:15 in the evening.  So a day wasted – but ticket firmly in my grubby paws.  Yay!  In other Glasto news, U2 dropped out due to Bono’s back-knack, to be replaced by Gorillaz.  All well and good, but I’ve got a dilemma now.  With U2 playing, it was a no-brainer – off to the Other Stage to see the Flaming Lips (and finally be persuaded – one way or the other – whether they are The Most Wonderful Thing Ever or The Emperor’s New Clothes).  Now, it looks like I’ll have to see the audio-visual extravaganza that is Damon Albarn’s side project (or side-side project, not sure which).

Or I could just sit quietly in a corner somewhere, up to my gills in Strawberry Cider.

Cropredy should be interesting – backup festival with Simon, given that Latitude went and sold out on us.  Looking forward to some folksy jiggery-pokery, washed down by the odd gallon of real twiggy ale, in the hot August sun.

One band I won’t be seeing this summer on the festival trail is Cornershop, that excellently-named fusion of Asian rhythms and western rock/hip-hop/reggae embellishments.  Often too eclectic for their own good, they are always interesting, if easier to admire than like.

Here they are, ‘Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platform”, which is easy enough for them to say.

>No Winners, Only Losers – Election Reflections

9 May, 2010 1 comment

>So – three days on from the election – and the dust is still settling.

Ironically, it looks like I got what I wished for – sort of.  What I really wanted was an option on the ballot paper that said ‘none of the above’.  And that’s what we’ve got – so far.

All three major parties managed, unerringly, to lose this election.  And despite it being a very good election to lose, I’m not sure any of them meant to.

Labour obviously lost – votes, seats, credibility.  Although constitutionally still in charge, Brown is now Dead Man Walking – in his own party as much as in the country.

Lib Dems – incredibly – also lost ground.  After the initial flush of Cleggmania, the country looked a little more closely and decided they weren’t that keen on what they saw.  And, most likely, they were squeezed in a number of seats where the best ‘keep Brown/Cameron out’ option was someone other than the Lib Dems.

So if Labs/Libs both lost, then the Tories must have won, surely?  Well, no, they didn’t, did they.  Yes, largest share of the seats, largest share of the vote…but our current voting system is called ‘first past the post’ for a reason.  And – despite 13 years in opposition, up against the most unpopular, discredited, party and party leader for decades, in the midst of a massive recession and caught up in a deeply unpopular war – Cameron couldn’t persuade the country to give him a clear mandate to govern.  And he certainly does not have the ‘moral right’ to govern that some commentators have ascribed to him – if you’re not first past the post, then you’re not the winner.

What will we eventually end up with?  Clearly some sort of short term coalition or looser alliance, with Clegg as kingmaker.  Firstly, and rightly, he is talking with Cameron to see if they can find some common ground.  Currently Cameron is playing hardball – a meaningless commitment to do a bit of thinking about PR, and an agreement to explore areas of common ground with the Lib Dems that they were already committed to – in short, Cameron is offering nothing to Clegg in the way of concession.  Cabinet seats are meaningless and worthless if they do not come with any associated executive power.

For Clegg to agree to work with the Tories on this basis would be absolute madness and surely would be unacceptable to his party and to the vast majority of Lib Dem voters.  This will probably be Clegg’s one and only chance to get some meaningful progress made on electoral reform – and he won’t get that from Cameron.

So – will Clegg end up propping up the Labour party?  I think he’d probably like to – negotiating from a clear position of weakness, Labour will offer far more in the way of concession, particularly on electoral reform.  It feels like Labour would sacrifice the chance of absolute power if they could introduce a form of PR that would guarantee, more than likely, an ongoing centre-left coalition that would force the Conservatives into the political wilderness for generations.

But, but… an agreement with Labour alone will still not provide a working majority.  And there’s the rub.  The Scottish and Welsh nationalists would have to be accommodated as well – and how do regional parties fare in a proportional representation-based system?  Furthermore, to bring the nationalists along, financial concessions will have to be made to the regions that will squeeze England even more.  And the electorate will not like that.

And since the country, quite clearly, does not want Labour, Clegg will get no credit from the electorate for propping up the current government – with or without Brown at the helm.  But – big but – he just might get electoral reform.

Despite the advantages of a deal with Labour, I think Clegg has to do a deal with Cameron – for his own credibility and for that of his party.  But he won’t get PR, and he’ll lose massive support both within and without his party in the process.  The Lib Dems are not a party of the right (or even the centre-right) so it will be an uneasy and fractious alliance that will do the country no good at all.  Might it then be the best option for Labour?  To go quietly, lose Brown and bide their time while the Tories and Lib Dems tear each other apart trying to deal with an appalling economic situation, then come back in a year’s time?

But if Cameron succeeds in getting a grip on the situation – or if events work to his advantage – he has the power to call the next election at a time of his choosing, and with a modicum of goodwill from the electorate, just might get a working majority this time next year.  At which point he drops Clegg like a stone and the Lib Dems are consigned to the wilderness.

Ultimately, Cameron HAS to get the Lib Dems on side – but without conceding an inch on PR.  If he can do that, then he might – just might – end up the winner.  But in the longer term the biggest loser – ironically – will be Nick Clegg.

Categories: election, politics

>Another Year Older…

>Today’s soundtrack:  Various Artists – 12″/80s

So – another year, another birthday.  Spent in far more enjoyable circumstances this year than last year, without a doubt.  This time last year I was working my way through an all-day interview session with a predetermined outcome (quite possibly) that did not involve me being the winning candidate.  This year however, back in the saddle, it was over to Manchester in the sun for a spot of lunch with Mrs W, Son No 2 and his girlfriend.  We went to the Hard Rock Cafe in the Printworks, and very enjoyable it was too.  Despite gentle threats, I managed to avoid the birthday sing-song from the waiters and we filled up on nachos and a variety of burgers.  I commend the Red, White and Blue!

After the inevitable trip to Fopp, we went our separate ways, me laden down with CDs both purchased and gifted.  Coupled with the monthly download from eMusic, I’m now well stocked up with a range of new music to listen to on the trips up and down the motorway, to and from work.

Ah yes, work.  Week two passed very smoothly, thank you very much.  Lots of meetings in different places as I continued the induction process, all passing off very smoothly indeed.  Oh, and a birthday card from the team on Friday as well.  I’m going to like this job.

With the extended weekend giving us the chance to recharge our batteries, it’s been quite a lazy couple of days.  Got back in time on Saturday to catch the second half of Everton’s disappointing draw with Stoke that inevitably condemns us to a season without European football.  Now whilst part of me thinks this might be a good thing – fewer games, a focus on the domestic competitions – I’ll miss the midweek games against obscure Slovenian teams and the inevitable exit to a half-decent Spanish outfit in the ’round of 32′ or whatever they call it these days.  A fate Liverpool are now condemned to after their meek capitulation to Chelsea yesterday.  So it looks like Chelsea’s title rather than ManYoo’s, thanks initially to Stevie G’s misguided backpass that let Drogba in for the first goal.  What was going through Stevie’s mind, I wonder?

I think Liverpool’s close season is going to be hugely interesting this year.  Will the FSW still be there?  Stevie and Nando?  Not if their body language is anything to go by.  Which doesn’t leave much.

Double bill (quite literally) of Tarantino this weekend – we watched the two Kill Bills over Saturday and Sunday.  Hugely enjoyable, entertaining tosh, borrowing heavily from the chop-socky kung fu films of the ’70s, with a bit of manga thrown in as well.  Loved it, and on the big telly, the blu-ray version looked great.

Despite all my new purchases (and gifts) over the weekend (oh, since you ask, some Fall, Weller, Santana and the new Laura Marling, plus downloads of Midlake, Caribou, Luxuria and a Cath Carrol album I found lurking on eMusic), today’s soundtrack comes from that much-maligned decade, the ’80s.  The 12″ collection does what it says on the tin – collects extended 12″ remixes of songs released in the eighties.  As I type, I have Pete Wylie’s ‘Tribal Mix’ of Sinful playing in the background and very fine it is too.

The 12″ remix was very much an eighties thing, and I was an absolute sucker for it at the time – I must have bought more singles on 12″ vinyl than on 7″ – just to get the extra tracks and the remixes.  Some were great – notably the Trevor Horn remixes of the Frankie stuff – and some were pretty awful (the Langer/Winstanley extended mixes of Costello’s stuff spring to mind).  But to inveterate collectors like myself, it was a great time to be buying singles.

Here’s Grace Jones, with Pull Up to the Bumper.  Not the extended version unfortunately, but very redolent of the era.  This couldn’t be more ’80s if it came with its pastel jacket sleeves rolled up and a pair of espadrilles on its sockless feet.  But it is still very good indeed.

>It wasn’t supposed to be like this, surely?

25 April, 2010 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Death Cab For Cutie – Studio X Sessions

So – back at work – aren’t the weekends then free for rest and relaxation?  Why is it, now I’m working for The Man again, that I ended up working harder round the home today than I have done for ages?

Because the jobs don’t go away, I suppose, and maybe also because I’m now back at a proper ‘working pitch’ that I’ve more enthusiasm and energy to actually do the things that I would ‘eventually get round to’ before.

First thing, it was off to the supermarket to do the weekly shop.  My turn this week – Mrs W has suggested that going forwards we alternate – her turn next week.  Big shop this week, we both need ‘cutting-up’ for worktime lunchtimes and the freezer has been running a bit low.  I did make a schoolboy error at the checkout though – standing in a queue, laden down with a full trolley, and one of the supermarket kids calls me over to a free checkout.  Result! I thought – until I realised he’d set me up on a self-service lane.  Fine (I suppose) if you’ve one or two items – but not a trolley-full, surely?  Anyway, I got on with it, getting crosser and crosser as I had to weigh (and find the price for) red onions (under ‘O’ rather than ‘R’ in the menu) and mini ciabattas (described as ‘rolls’ in the menu – who would have guessed?) and get the girl to confirm I was eighteen and ok to buy booze.


Mind you,. I still finished quicker than I would have done had I stayed in my queue, so not all bad.

Back home, and after a delightful lunch of BLTs on the small ciabatta rolls I’d struggled to buy in the supermarket, and after the ManYoo-Spurs game, it was out into the garden for more chores.

Firstly, the mower and strimmer made their first appearance of the year, followed by the garden shears as I trimmed back a bush that was encroaching from next door – and then it was the turn of the electric drill, some wood and a raft of wood screws as I finally got round to repairing the fence that had been falling down all year.  Lastly, the rake and the hose came into play as I cleared and re-seeded the bare patch of lawn that had been ravaged by birds and badgers over the course of last year.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?  Well no, the work continued, this time in the kitchen.  Although this turned out to be a really pleasant surprise.  We’d struggled to fit all today’s food shopping into the freezer, so to make room, I’d taken out some bags of soft summer fruits that Mrs W had bought ages ago for reasons that are still unclear to me.  I had half-hearted plans to mush them up and make some smoothies or something, until inspiration struck.


Did a quick search on t’internet, found a recipe, and got on with it.  The fruit I simply drained and placed in the bottom of a dish.  The crumble comprised 150g each of plain flour, porridge oats, demarera sugar and butter, mixed together by hand in a bowl until it got all crumbly and sandy.  Crumble topping on top of fruit, in a hot oven (180 degrees C) for half an hour or so.  It made the kitchen smell delicious and, oh, it tasted good as well!  We had it with some fruit yogurt that was lurking, although I’ve now got some double cream in for tonight’s leftovers.

A pleasant little download ep from American ‘intelligent rockers’ Death Cab for Cutie this morning.  We saw Death Cab (named after a Bonzo Dogs song) a couple of years ago at Latitude, and enjoyed them immensely.  There’s always a place for good, melodic pop sung and played with a bit of wit and style, and the Americans seem to be particularly good at it.

Here’s ‘The New Year’ live on Soundstage from a few years back…