Sunday, 28 June 2009

Glastonbury 2009 - Sunday evening live blogging (Status Quo, Bat For Lashes, The Prodigy, Blur)

Back to the mighty Status Quo at the start of their afternoon set, they kick off with Caroline. Rossi is in great voice and the guitars are excellent. It's like Live Aid all over again. One of the biggest single crowds for the start of any day on a main stage. Great.

The Wanderer is delivered with as much fervour. Parfitt isn't a bad singer these days either!

The heavier Rain is next. Then Mean Girl. More excellent guitars on both. Everyone talks about Rossi and Parfitt but Edwards is a mean bassist and great keyboards and guitars from Brown. They may be a bit of joke in recent times but as a band, they certainly know how to deliver.

Softer Ride is one big guitar solo and a lot of fun.

Then a medley of classic hits starting with What You're Proposing and moving through about fifteen songs none of which I recognise.

It all goes a bit Spinal Tap for a minute. I keep expecting an inflatable Stonehenge to drop onto the stage and small people to run on. But trademark Quo quickly return - although it sounds more like early Queen now...

Leaving the medley behind, Creepin' Up On You more great rhythm and blues (you know the proper stuff that The Rolling Stones used to do).

It wouldn't be a Quo set without In The Army Now, so here it is...complete with audience participation. The song, seen by some as a joke these days, suddenly has a serious and relevant poignancy. Excellent delivery and the guitars are amazing once again.

Roll Over Lay Down is another mammoth song, trademark Quo but seriously good. And then back to the cheesy classics with Down Down. As the set comes to a close, Whatever You Want and Rockin' All Over The World (as seen earlier), finishes things off nicely.

Status Quo exceeded my expectations. And then some.

As BBC TV seem to be reshowing the Boss set from yesterday and not Nick Cave, and the 'red' button is broken, I will have to make do with Bat For Lashes on the Other stage courtesy of 6music. Daniel is sounding great, as we all would except it to - single of the year in my humble opinion.

First sounds of Blur at Glastonbury 2009 is the end of Girls And Boys then Tracy Jacks on BBC 6 music. Damon sounds like he's doing an impression of himself from 1992. Band are sounded great though...

Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe present the final BBC TV coverage of the weekend. Annoying that they didn't show Nick Cave in the last hour...

Back with Blur, it's a fast version of There's No Other Way.

And here they are on the TV. Strange then that the coverage is supposed to be highlights of Glasvegas, Bon Iver and Nick Cave. Ok I'll stop going on about that now. Girls And Boys starts the set and the banner declares that 'this is Blur live from Glastonbury'. So 6music can broadcast from the future now??? A little behind schedule...

Tracy Jacks, never one of my favourite Blur songs, sounds bloody brilliant with Coxon on backing vocals. Damon is steely and determined - proving that he can be the enigmatic front man. The band is like a machine, as if they are all performing separately but in perfect unison. No chemistry between them at all but they all know what they are doing. And they are doing it very very well. There's No Other Way is one of my favourite singles. Excellent Ride version too (if you can remember that far back to the birth of Brit-pop).

Jubilee is next followed by Badhead. In to obscure 'fans only' territory... Bit of a lacklustre ending. Beetlebum now. This is kind of when I stopped being a Blur fan, the (fourth I think) eponymous album is a challenge but worth sticking with. When did Damon get a gold front tooth? Excellent guitars from Coxon and some great posing from Alex James.

Out Of Time next - another great early single from when Coxon had officially left them. However, Blur are doing a good job of re-introducing people to the great band they once were. Some nice Spanish guitars from Albarn. James takes up the double bass for Tender, another great song. Albarn does an a cappella with help from the crowd in the middle before a rousing finale gospel style...

But the crowd has other ideas and keep going...Before Country House silences them...

A twenty minute break at the request of the band? Er...ok.

Whiley and Lowe introduce an acoustic Love Tattoo by Imelda May which is a nice surprise. I would probably be permanently camped at the Avalon stage for artists like May if I went this year. I can feel the lure of Glasto drawing me back....

Back on 6 music, everyone's family favourites The Prodigy (sorry it's late), are swearing - no surprise there then. They are well into Poison and keep stopping for crowd interaction. Meanwhile Black Eyed Peas are on the Jazz stage. Strange I thought they were R&B... Apparently they took to the stage and shouted "Wassupp London...". Excellent...

Still no signs of Nick Cave. I might just cry.

The Prodigy set seems to have turned into a huge expletive filled rave from 1990. Massive beats, lots of shouting and crowd dirrection. Just play The Fat Of The Land, that's what everyone wants!

Back with BLUR it's Sunday Sunday! Then it's Parklife. Always loved this tune. And it appears that Phil Daniels is on stage - either that or they have him on voice over. Bloody hell this is fast. Needs a slower tempo. They probably don't want a curfew fine, LOL.

Back to normal and End Of The Century next. Another great single. Would be nice to hear The Universal...

Cut from Blur...Firestarter by The Prodigy. Excellent. Looks and sounds like the band are gigging from the depths of hell. Insane performance. Then into Breathe - Fat Of The Land ftw!!!

Song 2 from Blur makes an appearance. A chance for a quick song seem to take a minute and a half to get going... I think this might be at the wrong speed too...If that's possible. How the hell can a reformed band from the 1990s show up the likes of Kasabian so badly. For Tomorrow is up next with a huge brass break.

Last song from Blur is The Universal. And it's another magnificent performance. Damon even manages a 'Glast-on-berry'. Irony? Moi? Huge emotions as Damon walks off stage followed by the others... Bloody marvellous stuff.

Acoustic Bulletproof from La Roux...doesn't sound very acoustic to me...

So no Nick Cave. I am writing to the BBC as we speak. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!

Gold Lion from Yeah Yeah Yeahs almost makes up for it. Not it doesn't.

Great sign off from Lamacq on 6 music.


Glastonbury 2009 - Sunday live blogging (Tom Jones, Status Quo, Madness)

Wow what a Glastonbury weekend it has been! So far...

In rock n roll style, Bruce was fined 3000 quid for breaching the curfew last night and going into 'boss time' or whatever he called it. Oh dear. Eavis is paying the fine apparently. Seems a bit pointless having a curfew if 1) the fine is so low and 2) the fine is paid for them. The Boss wanted a 3 hour slot!!!

No BBC TV coverage as yet so listening to Adam & Joe doing a great job on 6music and generally catching up on the news. Gabby Logan did a stint from the festival on 5 live and was so out of her depth it was scary. And she didn't get to interview the Quo even though she mentioned it about six times in the hour building up to the non-event.

They are just playing Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal. What a crap song. Not impressed.

Now it's Lauren Laverne again on 6 music and a song from Emiliana Torrini and Pendulum from last night - damn they were loud.

A quick (ish) chat with Adam & Joe before some more recorded stuff from Jarvis Cocker's set yesterday. Nothing live as yet - a bit early...

A bit on Bon Iver from yesterday. Nice... Vocals are a bit lost with all the crowd participation but sounding good. He is playing every day - now that is commitment. Complete silence for the gorgeous Re: Stacks. Wonderful.

Lauren chats with Mr. Lamacq about the Blur set later and then we get some Noah & The Whale - who now sound more like Editors...

Not heard (or seen) much Fleet Foxes yet but I thought they sounded a bit ropey. As a band who reply so much on the vocals, I was worried that a festival is not a great platform. But they is [sic] sounding good! Some nice falsetto.

Looking forward to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds 'warming up' the crowd for Blur - yeah right. Should be the other way around. Anyway there is talk of Justin Timberlake joining Black Eyed Peas on the World Jazz stage. One to miss I feel...

According to reliable sources, Rob Da Bank is head-banging along to Status Quo. I think a lot of Quo's magic will be lost after the Tap yesterday. Meanwhile I am listening to a bit of The White Lies set from yesterday - a cover of Dancing In The Dark?!? Really...

Now Lamacq interviews Madness (well some of them, including Suggs).

Big 6music interview with Bruce is good fun. He's just a bit mad...

It's 5pm and tie to switch from radio to TV for the BBC 2 coverage. Mark Radcliffe kicks off with a helicopter tour of the site and a biography of Tom Jones.

This is followed by footage of the set from the Pyramid and Hard To Handle - complete with members of the crowd holding up underwear - in fact there is even a clothes line full of 'smalls'. Tom is in good form and seems to be lapping up the atmosphere. A slice of the 60s with Help Yourself now - the vocal mix seems a bit low, either that or the brass is too loud.

Way too many flags in the crowd - they really need to do something about this. Lamacq talked about it earlier. I remember them from the years I went but it's getting well out of hand.

Oooo and there seems to be an issue with the vocal audio. Thought so. Someone sort it out!!! "Who's in charge???" demands Tom. You tell em.

Give A Little Love gets the disgruntled crowd going again! Before Green Green Grass Of Home - one for the oldies. Then into fans favourite Delilah.

Mark is joined by Lauren and a quick break for an acoustic set from the Noisettes. Time to make a cuppa...

After some comedy's The Yeah Yeah Yeahs! Yeah! Always a great live band. Karen O is wearing a jesters outfit and a sequinned jacket, jumping around in front of a huge eye. And now during Zero, a big inflatable eyeball is pushed out over the crowd.

THE QUO are up, starting quietly and then into the classic Whatever You Want...

I think they may have peaked early with Rockin' All Over The World. Oh this appears to the last song... more at 8 on BBC Four...

A quick tour of the Green Fields - where all the spiritualist stuff takes place. Odd place. I found it all a bit creepy and not much music going on but loads of workshops and stalls love. Back with Mark and Laverne interviewing Tom Jones. Poor Lauren doesn't get a look (or a word) in.

More of Tom's set with What's New Pussycat. I'm suddenly wishing for some newer material... and You Can Leave Your Hat On will do. A bit racey for a Sunday afternoon but no one seems to care a great deal. Sex Bomb continues the...theme... A guy in the crowd has a "Tom Jones sexed my Nan hard" t-shirt. Moving swiftly on...

It's Not Unusual brings things back to normal. And Kiss, one of my favourite covers of all time, is excellent. Some serious dancing and Art Of Noise stuff in the "I think I better dance now" segment. Ok this is a surprise: the EMF cover Unbelievable. Shame about the 'rapping' in the middle. Good effort though. Cool set.

More acoustic nonsense, this time from VV Brown. I'm fed up with going on about this woman (as I'm guessing are the rest of you). Time for another brew...

The Quo are back with an insight into the band with a quick blast of Deeper And Down.

And now a real song! This Is The Way To (Amarillo) by Tony Christie - who famously said recently that there is more to his music than this one song. He will be pleased then that this is the song the BBC chose to show. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. Real crowd pleaser...

Quickly on as Madness take to the stage...and One Step Beyond with the crowd drowning out the saxophone which can hardly be heard. The poor saxophonist is blowing his red cheeks into they burst and you can't hear it. They bring a mic over for him but the sound mix is all wrong. Not just Tom then...

Embarrassment is next and the brass is again all wrong. They need to stop and start again. On The Prince it's still a problem but the band perceiver and move on with NW5.

A great slow version of My Girl, with lovely keyboards...but not for long as it gets into full swing. The nutty boys throw in a few new songs including Dust Devil. Going down well by the looks of it but I'm waiting for the bug hits - the band has enough of them.

The Sun And The Rain gets the hits churning again. Switching over to BBC Four and into another song from the new Folgate album, Clerkenwell Polka. Not sure I like this new stuff to be honest. Would rather have House Of Fun, Wings Of A Dove and Baggy Trousers please!

Oooo Bed & Breakfast Man will do. Suggs tells us that the last Glastonbury performance was 1986!!! And they did this song. Cool... Then another of my favourites, Shut Up.

Forever Young continues the old/new juxtaposition that is making for a solid but inconsistent set. Ah now House Of Fun - my tweet got through!!! The brass audio is still screwed - some of it is really loud and the sax is so faint. Might just be the TV. Hope so. Wings Of A Dove next - my psychic powers are working then!

I swear that I haven't gone back to edit what I wrote earlier. It's Baggy Trousers up next. Superb! Ok the flying saxophone stunt looks painful!

Our House up next which gets the crowd singing again. And sounds like the sax is working again. And then my second favourite Madness song, It Must Be Love. Fantastic stuff. And of course Madness to end. Or maybe not as Night boat To Cairo fires up. Suggs now has a towel on his head - something of a bad move. Thankfully he removes it...

And then loads of kids invade the stage - proper friends and family? Or guests? Turns out it is all the Madness clan. Good set.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Glastonbury 2009 - Saturday evening live blogging (Pendulum, Franz Ferdinand and Bruce Springsteen)

Ok this is a weird mix: Florence And The Machine and Karma Police by Easy Star All-Stars - who apparently did the whole of OK Computer Dredzone reggae style. Some superb piano action from The Machine but not great vocals from Florence.

Then Edith and Reggie interview Kasabian. LOL - "It was a sea of baked beans" - Sergio. He looks a bit detached from it all. It is 10 minutes since they came off stage.

More from Pendulum, who I think might be a bit disappointing on record after this masterful performance on the Other stage. Some serious vocal production for Different and more strobe lighting than I have ever seen. Incredible. Luckily the BBC run a banner across the screen that warns people - about 5 minutes too late!!! Get it together people. I'm Not Alone by Calvin Harris takes it to another level. Amazing. I think I may be a fan.

Ok so Bruce is on stage, but no footage as yet.

Probably going to have to switch between The Boss and Franz Ferdinand. No guesses who I'll be focusing on. I hope he does the whole of Darkness On The Edge Of Town. That would make my year. Doubt it.

Pendulum end their set on Granite - another torrent of guitars and drum machines. This is one of the songs I have heard. And it is bloody amazing live. A rousing finale.

A quick interview back in the studio with Reggie and then footage of the Pendulum remix of Metallica...

On 6 music Bruce is in full flow, unfortunately it's the woeful Working On A Dream from his new stuff. He obviously didn't get my tweets. Or the emails. Or the fax. Or the letter...It still seems to be mandatory to shout 'GLAST-ON_BERRY' even if you are Bruce Springsteen. And now he's going on about building a house of love... this is a huge interlude that seems to be going on for years. The boos are obviously 'Bruuuuuuuce' as everyone knows.

And The Boss is in good voice. No classics yet though. I'm more a fan of earlier stuff and this all sounds like new pseudo-country...

On the other stage Franz Ferdinand kick off with The Dark Of The Matinee - a favourite from the band's eponymous debut (and best) album. Despite competing with Bruce, there is a huge crowd. Then No You Girls. Then Do You Want To. Oh dear we seem to lapsed into the new albums.

This won't go down well, 6 music cut away from Springsteen to go to Franz Ferdinand. As Kaiser Chiefs said...I Predict A Riot! Turn It On is next. Not a song I recognise but it has all the right ingredients. One thing about Glastonbury is that the Eavis's know the great 'live' bands. Franz Ferdinand seem to be one of those bands. The recent albums sound flat and listless but this is a great set so far. Wonder if they will do anything special as way of a tribute or is 'Michael' too obvious???

So no tribute and into Walk Away which is not great...

They make a great job of The Fallen with huge guitars. This is how good that first FF album really was...

BBC 2 coverage and Bruce is on stage. Excellent. He starts with Badlands. And IT IS BLOODY BRILLIANT. There is huge feedback from the crowd, as expected. This may be the biggest gig the festival has ever bagged. Quickly into Prove It All Night...My God he is doing the whole of Darkness On The Edge Of Town...just not in the right order!!!

Okay maybe not Outlaw Pete is next. An odd choice as it's not a classic or very good. So much for my plan - Bruce did you not get my messages??? It goes on for ever and he dons a cowboy hat for the ending...It is a rousing finale which sees The Boss walk to to the front of the crowd for the first time....EVER! Naturally he is grabbed and molested...

Out In The Street is up next. From The River. Another odd choice given all the other good songs on that album. Bruce goes for another "meet and greet" walkabout during the song.

Working On A Dream continues the trend of 'new songs'. It is to be expected that new stuff will be plugged but there is so much back catalogue to pick from and only an hour or so to fill - maybe the set will go on until 3am like Hendrix at Woodstock!

Franz Ferdinand are still churning away with the electronic Outsiders...

Back on the Pyramid The Boss is in mid 'build a house' comedic preach. I hope he realises how ridiculous this looks. The new age crowd seem to understand. That's the main thing.

Waiting On A Sunny Day is next. Again not one of my favourites. A huge crowd sing-along moment before another obligatory and magnificent sax break.

You certainly cannot doubt this guys commitment...

Cool...Promised Land. Goes to show that Darkness On The Edge Of Town is the BEST album he has made!!!

And here it is...The River. Against the dark of the stage, Springsteen looks like he's on fire, with steam rising from his shoulders. Haunting falsetto and harmonica at the end . Just brilliant.

Born To Run now....this could be the best Glasto set EVER!

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, from the Born To Run album, is a another crowd favourite and a solid live performance. The E Street Band are on great form tonight.

To end, the band deliver American Land from the Seeger sessions. Bruce names all of the band before a few more shouts of 'GLAST-ON_BERRY' for good measure and makes the crowd understand what they have just seen. They then finish the song...

Encores (at this rate about five of them) beckon and so we get another song.


Bruce declares it's 'curfew time' before that becomes 'Bruce time'. And then straight into Dancing In The Dark. The crowd are getting value for money. I think Born In The USA might be a song too far. Any chance of Thunder Road?

Reaction from Mark Radcliffe: "He could have put something into it". LOL!

Follow that BLUR!

Glastonbury 2009 - Saturday evening live blogging (Spinal Tap, Crosby Stills & Nash, Dizzee Rascal, Pendulum, Maximo Park and Kasabian)

On the BBC red button The Virgins are sounding great on the John Peel stage. The don't look like a 'proper' band - more a group of misfits and musicians made up from other up-and-coming indie bands. Bare-footed, long coat wearing front man Donald Cumming is bit of Bob Geldof and a bit of Julian Cope - not a great voice but an interesting presence on stage...

Ok this is getting silly now. Jarvis is playing with Shlomo on the Park stage. Go Jarvis!

The 6 Music pick is Pete 'troubleman' Doherty - nice duet with Jack Penate. All sounds great to me...He turned up, he stayed upright and he performed. Good job.

Lots of Jacko tribute news coming in including Badly Drawn Boy and Little Boots doing Earth Song!!!

Just checking some of the internet footage and the Spinal Tap set is up...excellent turn from Jamie Cullum on keyboards. He was really into it. Saucy Jack is a bit too much early Pink Floyd meets Genesis in the Peter Gabriel days. "It's all about today. It's all about the majesty of rock". "That means it's all about you!". "If it hadn't been for Micheal Jackson, there would never have been a Spinal Tap" from Harry 'Simpsons' Shearer. Priceless.

Back on the Pyramid stage Crosby Stills and Nash rock out Marrakesh Express. The trio look a shadow of their former selves and struggle vocally. Michael Eavis looks on with concern. Long Time Gone is much more like it. A shame that Neil Young couldn't stick around for a few numbers. Would have made the festival. Great guitars.

Then the delicate and oddly trippy Guinevere. The way that these guys switch between vocals is majestic. True masters of their art... I'm not sure it exactly captures the crowds full attention. They look like they wanna rock!!! Ok the vocals may not be the best any more but they can certainly show Fleet Foxes how it's done.

Ruby Tuesday is up next in the CSN covers set. A brave attempt at a classic- and they just about get away with it.

Quick break to BBC Three and Dizzee Rascal's tribute to Jacko, starting with Billie Jean, and a great vibrant interview with Edith and Reggie. Like him or loathe him, he is charming and genuine and confident. He wants to headline next year. Good luck to him.

Meanwhile CSN continue to churn out the hits. Superb guitar work from Stills and the long drawn out solos we would expect. Again it's like Woodstock again (a bit before my time but I get it).

Great vocals from Dave Crosby on Almost Cut My Hair and more solid support from the band. They have a great keyboard player and drummer with them.

And now For What It's Worth - a real classic. Stills is on vocals. A good effort considering. Then it's Wooden Ships. Then Teach Your Children.

Back on BBC Three Kasabian kick off their set with Underdog, predictably from the new album. It sounds good. Shoot The Runner is up next. Maybe this will work with a mix of singles. Serge is on good vocal form - guitars great too... Kasabian get into full swing with Cutt Off from the debut album. Excellent. This has all the makings of a brilliant set - if they keep the new songs to a minimum...

Club Foot, also from the debut is an anthem and a half. Why the band can't write songs like this any more is a mystery. One great thing about the set is how Meighan gets the crowd involved - he definitely feeds off human interaction. A lot more than he realises.

So it's Processed Beats up next. Very cool. Glad to see BBC Three staying with the set! Empire now - they are using their brains and sticking to the greatest hits. That is what festival sets are all about.

Not sure where Fire fitted into the set but the heavier arrangement worked much better live - a much better vocal mix and lots and lots of energy. It all works. Meighan is sounding excellent, a perfect mix of laid-back calm and cheeky arrogance. This is exactly how they should be.

Edith and Reggie interview Franz Ferdinand - ok so they might be good but I really don't like the new stuff. Alex talks about the set and says it's going to be 'the stuff that got you into the band in the first place', so that's Take You Out then :) and probably some new stuff.

The Boss made his first appearance of the weekend, guesting with Gaslight Anthem! If this is anything to go by the headline slot last tonight should be massive.

BBC Three coverage turns to Maximo Park, a band I know but know very little about not being a fan. They seem to playing a Bloc Party track. Or what I thought was Bloc Party. Oh well...

After an interview with Edith, the band are shown performing new single Questing, Not Coasting. Sounds a bit like Idlewild with all the song writing ability removed. A bit unfair. It's not all that bad. Still not a huge fan after this but the set should attract some new blood.

A quick blast of Pendulum madness. Wow. Showdown then Fasten Your Seatbelt. I need a lie down... Fantastic use of Prodigy sample for a blistering set from Pendulum. They may have stole the show. Rob Swire gets the crowd under control before Propane Nightmares. And they seem to loving every minute of this frantic and excellent set.

Meanwhile on 6 music Adam & Joe are talking about 'bottling' and taking things a little too far. Very funny though.


Glastonbury 2009 - Saturday afternoon live blogging (Spinal Tap and Dizzee Rascal)

I'm wondering how much Spinal Tap I will hear this afternoon...and how much I will be able to endure. I'm interested to see what kind of stage props the band will subject us to...

Of course today is all building up to the big headlining set from The Boss but lots of great bands coming up. A big draw for me is Kasabian who really need to put in the performance of their lives if they are to convince me that they still have what it takes. The new album is a mess but maybe it works live. We will wait and see.

Huge crowds gather to see Rolf Harris perform - he's now a bit of a Glasto icon. And Damon is preparing for tomorrows big Blur headline slot by watching Spinal Tap. Huge fan apparently...

Seems like music and tennis is connected but also a dividing force. Justin Timberlake is at Wimbledon. I've heard his music. He's better off staying at the tennis. (I'll get me coat).

6music are repeating some of Doves set from last night. Excellent stuff...

News that Spinal Tap set is in full swing. Jamie Cullum has joined them on keyboards and there is talk of dwarfs. That can only mean Stonehenge... Now Jarvis Cocker is playing bass for the Tap. The world officially goes crazy.

Some more from yesterday's White Lies set on 6music. Death from the excellent debut album To Lose My Life. It's like they have been doing Glastonbury for years.

Finally we have some BBC2 coverage. First up is a bit of the set from The Script and Talk You Down. Plenty of passion and energy but the band seem to be turning into Keane. Shame. Breakeven is introduced with a cool drum solo and is easily the band's best (known) song. The vocals are seriously ropey and front man Danny O'Donoghue looking and sounding very uneasy. They are yet to become a festival band.

Lots of talk from Lowe and Whiley about Spinal Tap but no actual band. Come on people show us some music! More tour guide stuff from Mark Radcliffe showing a wonderful vista of the festival site. But still no SPINAL TAP!!! Instead there is an acoustic performance from Jason 'I want to be Jack Johnson' Mraz. Yawn...

At last some Spinal Tap, opening with the appropriate Stinkin' Up The Great Outdoors. Just the one track as a taster and a bit of a boring straightforward one.

A quick interview with the boys (the irony of the last song is lost on Zane Lowe) and then into the magnificent folk-rock prog-opera that is Stonehenge, complete with inflatable stones and the dwarves. Seen it all before but it is brilliant stuff. More to come hopefully.

I hate to complain about the BBC coverage this year but do we really need to a feature on Glastonbury fashions. Pretentious moi?

Then a repeat of Get Behind The Wheel from last night's Neil Young set. Any chance of some *new* music, like from today, please?

Apparently Dizzee Rascal is performing a medley of Michael Jackson covers. Nice tribute but a bit obvious. I hope they show it...Speaking of Mr. Rascal, he's up next on BBC2 performing to a huge crowd. Maybe the appetite for rap is alive and well. I still don't think it has any place at Glastonbury.

Now a repeat of Lets Dance from Lady Gaga. Now I see (and hear) it again, it's obvious that there are about four vocal tracks at the same time and she isn't always singing. Even when she asks the crowd to sing, there are still invisible backing singers to be heard... Hmmm...

A Bruce montage and more nonsense from Rascal brings this afternoon on BBC2 to a close.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Glastonbury 2009 - Friday live blogging (Neil Young, Bloc Party, Doves)

BBC2 finally gets back with Mark Radcliffe and the fragrant Lauren Laverne and quickly into The Needle And The Damage Done by Neil Young. Superb. One man. One guitar. One stage. Thousands of people watching. Into Words, all grinding guitars and melancholy, a small part of the south of England is suddenly Woodstock in 1968. The song is one massive guitar solo - with bits of singing... Incredible stuff.

On BBC Three Doves has taken to the stage. Kingdom Of Rust is under way, the title track from the new album. The band is sounding great with wonderful support. Then Black And White Town from that last album.

A brief interlude and we return to Neil Young on the Pyramid Stage performing Get Behind The Wheel from Fork In The Road then the massive Rockin' In The Free World like he's a teenager again. The crowd is singing along, amazed at what they are seeing. I now officially wish that I was there - standing at the front of the stage to see this genius in action. More great guitar work and the man himself is in great voice.

A few false endings later and the song comes to a huge inevitable climax with frantic arm waving from the crowd. Awesome stuff...and yet another chorus. Will this song every end?

Meanwhile Doves are back for an encore. You can't do this at the festival! Thanks BBC! Harmonica brings in the start of Here It Comes, with a subtle change of personnel for vocal duty and drums...

On Pyramid Neil Young has started Day In The Life by The Beatles. Interesting choice. It comes complete with chaotic central kitchen sink-falling-down-the-stairs moment. Even with all the chaos the song gets a huge amount of respect and ends in a torrent of drums and guitars.

Young's guitar ends up with about two strings, propped up against the amp and he finishes the set with a few bars on the xylophone, before throwing in the sticks in a kind of 'middle England' Jimmi Hendrix moment.

Bloc Party provide a great version of Mercury complete with the same loop pedal as used by The Ting Tings. A hugely rocking set from Bloc Party including the early single So Here We Are - electronics free and full of looping guitars and rolling drums.

A quick return to Mark and Lauren and then it's more Blockl Party, this time with the fantastic Two More Years. Kele looks out across the crowd like he can't believe he is there. Then it's time for one of my Block Party favourites: Flux. Again, brilliantly performed and a good end to a busy night.

So that was Friday at Glastonbury - a lot more to come tomorrow and Sunday night and as and when I get the chance to catch up.

Glastonbury 2009 - Friday live blogging (Lily Allen, The Specials, The Maccabees, Lady Gaga, White Lies, Little Boots, Jack Penate, The Ting Tings...)

So Glastonbury is finally here and for me that means BBC coverage on TV and radio - a combination of BBC Three (complete with annoying amateur presenters - and of course Edith and Reggie!), BBC Two and 6 Music (with for some reason Cerys Matthews). It's almost as good as being there, but sadly not for me this year.

So first up is Lily Allen and WOW what an outfit. Say what you like about the women, she is an alluring presence, especially in this blue Kylie-esque number open at the front and revealing just about everything. Nice purple hair too. Lots of shots of youngsters in the crowd and as yet no profanities.

What is this with R&B and Rap at Glastonbury?!? Does anyone realise it just does not fit. In spite of this obvious fact, NERD made a surprise appearance this afternoon and got the crowd moving with limp vocals and not much else. It seems to be obligatory to shout 'Glast-on-berry' at the crowd every five minutes if you are an American act. A huge shame as NERD are a compelling mix of guitars, rock and rap (like it's 1995 again!) even if they do come across like a limp version of Body Count.

Friendly Fires perform the soundtrack of the festival - Jump In The Pool, with the crowd under the summer sun and enjoying it immensely. Great stuff.

A quick blast of The Maccabees on 6music sounding ok. Hope to catch them on TV.

Ah now the enigma that is VV Brown. How she got a Pyramid Stage slot is anyone's guess. It brings back horrible memories of her turn on Later with Jools earlier this year and the fantastic song writing that is "crying tears from my eyes..." from Crying Blood. And because she doesn't have any other songs she sings it again, this time as a Reggae version. Laughable if it wasn't so sad. Time to move on...

Lily now in the studio talking to Edith and Reggie, wearing a different dress and a nice pair of green wellies. Back on stage it's Littlest Things and she has the crowd in the palm of her hand. Well at least the bit that isn't holding the cigarette. The single long white glove is a neat touch. Then she performs 22, another whimsical tale from her new album. And then an oldie: Smile followed by the horrible Womanizer ?!? A Brittany cover and not a great one either. Oh dear. Off comes the hair but thankfully (for the sake of decency) the dress stays on.

OOoooo Now we are talking...White Lies are on. Not sure the 80s suits work boys! First up from the indie-goths is Farewell To The Fairground complete with crowd sing-along stadium bit. Nice one lads.

More Friendly Fires now. Loads of brass and more early evening summer sun. Glorious.

And now Little Boots talks to BBC Three's Gemma, just finished her set (that's the lovely LB and not the hapless G). LB reveals that her first album was the debut Take That!!!?!

And earlier from the John Peel stage she performs Earthquake. It is definitely the girls shining this year so far. In great voice as always and lots of commitment. Apparently she is flying off to do another gig and then flying back by helicopter to see Blur on Sunday!!! Showbiz ftw!

New In Town is also great. Contender for single of the year. Maybe I've heard it too many times. Love the chorus.

More Maccabees now - Love You Better. Yes it's the track that sounds like a Arcade Fire cover. I like it - beautifully constructed epic pop with lashings of brass again. Great festival stuff.

"I love a live Horn" - Edith Bowman, Glastonbury 2009. Eeek!

Help! It's Lady Gaga. Who seems to be performing from within a huge artificial cake! She is mad as cheese with an outfit that puts Lilly Allen to shame. Paparazzi is actually good - question is where are the backing singers helping her out with the vocals? Or is she miming? Surely not...

Just when you thought it couldn't get any more weird, a space-aged guitar-keyboard thing comes out of nowhere and she 'pretends' to play it while turning round and round on a turntable. What little creditability she had is lost with a big 'glast-on-berry' and she launches into Love Game. And it all goes bad disco. Lots of mad dancing and we seem to be in a rave hosted by Marilyn Manson!!!

The Ting Tings are on the BBC Three sofa! Taking a break from France, the pop duo are back in England for a slice of summer festival life.

Torn On The Platform by Jack Penate is up next. Not a fan but it's decent enough.

And then back to Just Dance by Lady Gaga. Yes she's still mad but this time in a new outfit. I'm not sure if I am becoming a fan. Poker Face kills it for me...

Not entirely sure what this track is but it's going on a bit... Ah set over.

Back to Lily again with The Fear. Whoa mass audience participation expletive moment! Excellent stuff.

All building up for The Ting Tings set....

But first more Lady Gaga with Eh, Eh complete with Madonna style boobs - this time with added fire... And then Poker Face in her underwear. Who says sex doesn't sell? Actually no does.

To be fair it was a great show with a lot more than just being on stage and churning out songs. It's good to see thought going into a performance even if the end result is insane. 10/10 for effort.

Still no Ting Tings - come on BBC Three!!!!

More set from Jack Penate. Have I Been A Fool? is ok but it's all a bit samey for me.

Edith talks to Jez Williams from John Peel headliners Doves.

And then Be The One by Jack Penate. A bit rushed and breathless but a good solid energetic performance from the Londoner. Bit too much brass though... Mark Ronson anyone?

Over on BBC Four The Specials are churning out the hits - Friday Night and Saturday Morning is one of my favourite songs of all time. Hall and the boys do their best but suffer terribly without Dammers' keyboards. At least they all look as if they want to be there. Even the dour faced Hall. Oh dear Man At C&A. Awful song....

Then Message To You Rudy - a true classic. No doubt the band still has the spark and they seem to be . It's all a bit lacklustre. Do Nothing is just going through the motions. They are a band living in the shadow of the politics that tore them apart. "I'm just living in a life without feeling" seems to sum it all up.

Back to BBC Three and The Ting Tings are finally on the Other stage. Katie looking great in a purple and black catsuit. Great time to play, just as the sun is setting. We Walk is delivered with skill and perfection: Jules at the drums on guitar and Katie singing and playing keyboards. Lots of unnecessary screeching from Katie but a solid performance.

Katie grabs a guitar for Great DJ after demanding that the crowd 'f**king dance!'. Rock n roll. This is followed by an excellent version of Fruit Machine using a loop pedal. Some great accompaniment from the glamorous brass section! If this isn't the best set of the night, I don't know what will be. Although Neil Young is to come later...

A break for Eastenders? Seriously is anyone still watching that???

Back on BBC 2 Mark Radcliffe and the fragrant Lauren Laverne are on the hill. Weather reports out of the way (it's not raining!), a quick montage then Mark talks about The Specials "back in all their glory". Really Mark? Really?

Anyway we kick off again with a frantic version of Too Much Too Young. The band seem to rise to the occasion.

Ok some bizarre editing sees Zane Lowe introduce the Ting Tings again - starting with Great DJ previously shown on BBC Three. That's another one for the BBC "reality check" archives...

On the 'red' button, Little Boots is still going. Setting up her Tenori-on she launches into her final song Stuck On Repeat. A weird version with a lot of open spaces and electronics... If this girl is not massive in a year I don't know what she has to do to get there.

A cool feature about Neil Young, telling all those people who have no idea who he is, erm...who he is. And playing some of his great music from After The Goldrush and of course Heart Of Gold and more. I am looking forward to hearing the set - with fifty albums worth of stuff to choose from...He might just do the whole of Fork In The Road. That might cause a riot. A full 13 minute version of Change Your Mind would make my night...

Ah..excellent more Ting Tings. Shut Up And Let Me Go is introduced with a very long drum intro before kicking off, again with Katie on guitar. A central break before some huge drumming as Jules gets the crowd going. These two certainly work for their art. And the final song of the set is What's My Name. I would have liked to hear We Started Nothing, complete with Ronson-esque brass ensemble. But it's a big crowd sing-along for the 'big single'.

And it is superb.

What the hell is the big deal with Jamie T? Sounds like a guy doing Arctic Monkeys covers...really badly. Awful.

Reggie and his wellies, introducing Ghost Town by The Specials. Looking forward to this enormously. Sadly it doesn't work at all live. There is a good reason they haven't performed this since the 80s. Good effort. Some really good instrumentation. Hall still looks very uneasy and not pleased to be there.

A brief chat with Mike Skinner (The Streets) then Edith introduces Bloc Party. No band just lots of dedicated fans. So back to Reggie for more pointless rambling with Mike Skinner. Nice crop circle of his face though...

And now Bloc Party are up, opening with One Month Off. Was surprised to see the band so high up on a main stage bill but they are one of these acts that have a huge following - and are seen as the antithesis of the 'granddads' on the other stage. Kele Okereke is such a charming and enigmatic front man - no wonder the band has such a loyal fan base. And the John Peel t-shirt is a great touch.

Back on the red button (what DID we do without it?) Little Boots is well into Meddle. My favourite song from Hands....

Michael Jackson RIP

I have never been a huge fan of Michael Jackson.

But his music is everywhere - on TV and radio and in our culture, an ever present force. An incredible talent. Sadly in his later life, the struggle of keeping it private and reclusive (for right or wrong reasons) became all that the media wanted to focus on. Trying to live a closed life in an open world, a world in which the media are ever intrusive and determined to root out every detail, became impossible. And so Wacko Jacko was born. No longer a man. Now a mask.

Sadly this is how he will be remembered.

In terms of his music, much has already been said about Thriller but all for good reason. I remember holidays and car journeys when the only album we would listen to was Thriller. Over and over again. Time after time. I never owned the album yet I knew it by heart. Friends who owned Off The Wall and Bad and later Dangerous had the same impact. His music was always there.

Hopefully this is how he will be remembered. At least by me.

Michael Jackson August 29th 1958 - 25th June 2009


Thursday, 25 June 2009

Placebo - Battle For The Sun Album Review (2009)

Placebo are a true guilty pleasure. With a tendency to tell tales of real life with warts and all proudly on display, the threesome of Brian Molko, Sefan Olsdal and now drummer Steve Forrest always make challenging and interesting music, all wrapped up in Molko’s twisted heart-on-sleeve lyrics of sex, sexuality, drugs and darkness.

The highlight of the band’s career so far has to be 1998s Without You I’m Nothing, with the subtle yet menacing title track building slowly to an emotional climax, being the best thing Molko has put his voice to. Far superior in musical talent and production to the tentative but ballsy debut, the album is a masterpiece. From here, Black Market Music never reached the same levels of depth but has some great moments. A three year break brought a real lull for a band who peaked early and has never regained the early promise of all the right ingredients. Last effort Meds is ambitious but flat and again we have to wait three years for something else.

Battle For The Sun, produced by David Bottrill and mixed by (genius) Alan Moulder, is the first record with new drummer Forrest, features occasional brass arrangements, and is the best album Placebo has made since Without You I’m Nothing. It is bold, brave and brilliant.

Opener Kitty Litter sets the scene with a protracted grinding guitar intro. Molko’s distinctive operatic vocals let fly fairly familiar territory as he declares “I need a change of skin”. Always blatant and honest, this is a down and dirty love song. In the last minute, a cute handclap interlude threatens a lapse but they get away with it. Ashtray Heart sounds like an attempt at emo, but again it is unmistakably Placebo thanks to Molko’s voice. The guitar work is excellent which is more than can be said about the chorus. It’s not that it’s bad. It’s just dull and predictable. Which is more than can be said for the title track…

Battle For The Sun is wonder from start to finish with the repetitive vocals teasing and caressing the percussion fuelled backing, pierced only by the constant throb of guitar until the pace builds into a more determined but equally repetitive rant. And then out of nowhere the strings wash in for the ‘chorus’: “Dream brother, my killer, my lover”. It is a case of rinse and repeat with a real moment of aggression and release after “You…are a cheap and nasty fake…And I…am the bones you could not break…” before the strings return. Then another bought of strings after a great guitar break, this time building to a wild and breathless climax. You will not hear a better constructed five and half minutes of music on another album this year.

For What It’s Worth is a great sub-three minute pop song, a simple beast full of great touches: blasts of brass, twisting guitars and breathy backing vocals. The band even find time for a Crystal Castles Atari interlude and then a pseudo-talky bit closing with “No one cares when you’re down in the gutter…got no friends, got no lover”. Then more brass and squeals of guitar. Great stuff. Devil In The Details provides the first of the albums delicate moments and an example of what Placebo do so well. It is uneasy, nasty, venomous and utterly compelling with a gorgeous melody under Molko’s tension and angst. Again, guitars and drums provide an enormous torrent of sound to compliment the vocals. The song finally opens up. “All of the songs I hope to write one day…Looks like the Devil’s here to stay”. A great open-hearted album-defining piece.

Into Bright Lights, a much lighter Killers-esque tribute that almost works very well. In the end the spirally electronic guitars provide the lift as Molko talks about ’open prisons’ and ’finding the true and inner me’. Another soaring chorus brings “A heart that hurts…is a heart that works”, proving that amongst all the seemingly evident banality there is still a flair for great song writing. It is different yet formulaic.

Speak In Tongues is a definite weak low point until about a minute and a half when it suddenly explodes into life and Placebo become Smashing Pumpkins - all epic emotion, guitars and crashing drums. “We can build a new tomorrow…today” has Molko reaching for the heights again. The Never Ending Why is more trash-rock with brass and ends up just going through the motions - a downbeat morose chorus is saved only by the guitar work. To raise the lull of a sub-par trio, Julien is a down and dirty determined tale of loss and sorrow full of metaphor. It sounds very laboured at times in spite of some fantastic music. But “You can run but you can’t hide. Because no one here gets out alive…” is hardly inspired writing. Molko goes on to repeat “Slow motion suicide” ad nauseam.

Happy You’re Gone is a glorious return to form, like a Bright Lights part two. The song is a series of slow meandering walks between string soaked blasts of rock-opera. Breathe Underwater is all about the vocal arrangement and some more sublime drumming. Again, this is nothing massively new but it’s committed, edgy and brimming with energy.

Come Undone is another magnificent song, fragile at first then it kicks off in style: “You don’t know how you’re coming across, acting like you don’t give a toss, walking around like you’re on some kind of cross, it’s a shame on you the irony’s lost…”. Superb guitars yet again blending to create soaring melody and a huge central instrumental break. For the massive finale, Molko delivers his best vocals of the album.

The album closes with another gem Kings of Medicine, tinged with humour, references of drink and drugs and going astray. Musically it pulls together piano, trumpets, guitars and just about everything else. A fitting climax to the album worthy of the Polyphonic Spree!

Molko and the boys are back and sounding more determined than ever. For the most part Battle For The Sun is focused and determined, serious and full of ideas. Some of the band’s usual charm is lost in a few excursions into formula but these are minor indiscretions.

Battle For The Sun is far from perfect. But then again nothing ever is.
-- CS

Andy Hughes RIP

Sad to hear the news today of the death of Andy Hughes of The Orb.

He was only 43.

I grew up listening to The Orb, from Little Fluffy Clouds, through the glorious Live 93 album (which I listened to over and over until one of the tapes broke and I had to get it on CD!) to albums UF.Orb and Orblivion. Not always pioneers of electronic music, the band certainly made the genre their own and defined a distinctive sound.

After The Orb, Andy continued working as a producer and working with new bands such as Basement Jaxx.

RIP Andy.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Thea Gilmore - Angels In The Abattoir

Ok this is new! Thea Gilmore is launching a new membership only venture called Angels In The Abattoir.

For 52 quid a year you get a 'partnership' as she calls it. In short this means (taken from the blog)...

"A new, original and unreleased track download delivered to your inbox every month

this will amount to a full, exclusive album every 12 months which will not be available anywhere else.

A lyric sheet, handwritten and signed by me to a song of your choice.

An entry into a 'Thea Gilmore Song Lottery' - all members can suggest a song they want to hear me cover and once during the year I'll pull one out of the hat and record it!

A namecheck on my albums. For the duration of your membership you will receive a special thank you on my albums

Opportunities for exclusive live shows and backstage passes to gigs.

A set of 4 exclusive badges, unavailable elsewhere

Access to a members only website. Designed and run by me, featuring:

Video diaries
An ‘ask Thea’ forum
Previews of new releases, merch and generally getting the news before anyone else."

Read all about it here.

So basically you get an exclusive album (12 tracks in 12 months) and some extras. Now I love Thea Gilmore and her music and this is a great idea but 50 quid is a bit steep. That said, I'm sure Thea would not do something like this and then deliver a bunch of discarded b-sides and a crappy website. That is not her. She has her reputation and credibility at stake.

It starts early to mid-July, according to the blog.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Moby - new album

I've always been a huge fan of Moby, not just since Play but well before that. His last few albums have been a challenge. Last Night didn't do it for me. 18 is very inconsistent and Hotel is marvelous. Like him or loathe him as a person, Moby always makes interesting music but after the last album I feared a nasty change in direction.

Now all signs for the new album Wait For Me are good. The album is promoted by the dark weird instrumental A Shot In The Back Of The Head coupled with a 'drawn' black and white video directed by David Lynch. Far from the commercial past. You can find it on Pitchfork TV here.

Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum Album Review (2009)

What has happened to Kasabian?

I have been a huge fan of Kasabian ever since the band’s debut album smashed its way into my ears and introduced me to a world in which Ladrock swagger met electronic and guitar fusion mixed with plenty of self-confident cocky attitude. The follow-up Empire was hard work at first but I warmed to it within a few weeks, as the slower more down-beat Kasabian evolved from such less-than-humble beginnings.

The problem is, back then they could get away with it. Tom Meighan and Sergio Pizzorno were tenacious and arrogant but more importantly they were charming and engaging; a pleasant compromise between Oasis and Primal Scream, Kasabian were the future. Now the future has become a third album. West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is not as insane a ride as you might expect from the title. In fact it is very straightforward. What started as a homage to a nineteenth century psychiatric hospital ended up as a frustratingly bland, badly executed, mind-achingly dull album.

You do not know how much it pains me to say this. It really does.

Given how Empire closed with the brilliantly brave and audacious The Doberman, I expected great things from West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. The first signs of trouble arrived with the single Fire. Strangely it turns out to be one of the best songs on the album, even though the parts do not seem to fit together and it is all a bit laboured. This is something that plagues the album throughout. I have no doubt that work has been put in, ideas have been realised and time has been spent making this album. But the end results ‘sounds’ like none of these things happened. And that is why it doesn’t work.

At times the album is just bad Oasis. Yes the comparisons have been made at length but there was always a gap wide enough to distant the two bands. After the spirited Underdog, Where Did All The Love Go? is so Beatles-esque it could have been penned by an adolescent Liam. At two and a bit minutes, Swarfiga is an interesting instrumental. It lacks any real stomp and purpose and sounds at times more like a soundtrack for a bad ghost train ride in Blackpool.

Borrowing heavily from Twin Peaks, the awful Ladies And Gentlemen (Roll The Dice) is a tuneless drunken mess. Secret Alphabets is so disjointed and random that the constant jumping from one idea to the next is a constant distraction. Shame as the instrumentation in the last couple of minutes is genuinely good. Closing track Happiness attempts to be Screamadelica in a single piece of music. The execution feels like a final slap in the face. As clichéd as it sounds, happiness it is not.

It isn’t all bad news. Fast Fuse injects much needed pace and energy into the lethargy, stays close to the band’s roots but has a film of dirt over the polish. The western soundtrack West Ryder Silver Bullet is an engaging journey but drags hopelessly until the last minute of dramatics. Thick As Thieves in this respect should work but sounds like a piss-take, especially when it runs out of lyrics halfway through. Vlad The Impaler has all the right ingredients held together by a thumping bassline but it is still just going through already well-trodden motions.

West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is best when Kasabian are doing something different. A horrible paradox because I don’t want Kasabian to be different. I want them to be Kasabian! I want a return to the glorious pomp of the debut that grabbed my attention in the first place. I want the attitude back. The energy. The what-the-hell-are-you-looking-at bravado with a jaunty smile. I want Kasabian back.

As a real fan of the band I wanted to inject some real personal thoughts and opinion into this review. That is why it is written in the first person, something I rarely do. I feel so strongly about this album and maybe more listens, the right mood, or a revisit might yield more positivity. But for now West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum will remain one of this years most important and painful disappointments.
-- CS (for TMM)

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Little Boots on Radio 1!

I think I might actually be obsessed with Little Boots now. So much so, I tuned into Pete Tong on Radio1 last night for a live session. I normally only turn to Radio 1 for Colin Murray and occasional festival coverage but I made an exception and it paid off.

Excellent versions of Meddle and Remedy with a full band. I like the more stripped down Little Boots (no jokes please) but I am warming more to the big production approach of the album.

Little Boots performed the following tracks:

New In Town
Stuck On Repeat

The session is right at the end of the show.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

BBC 'Queens Of Pop'

This article is so ridiculous I just had to post it.

It takes three new female artists: Florence And The Machine, La Roux and Little Boots and presents them at pie charts (yes pie charts) as apparently they are just bits of other artists, typically from the 80s.

Monday, 8 June 2009

2009 Music Chart - May

New albums last month from Green Day and Marilyn Manson (it's the 90s all over again!). Check out the Lunic album!
  1. To Lose My Life - White Lies
  2. Two Suns - Bat For Lashes
  3. Scream - Chris Cornell
  4. Dark Was The Night - Various
  5. Alpinisms - The School Of Seven Bells
  6. 21st Century Breakdown - Green Day
  7. The High End Of Low - Marilyn Manson
  8. Kingdom Of Rust - Doves
  9. Fork In The Road - Neil Young
  10. Not Without A Fight - New Found Glory
  11. Fortress 'Round My Heart - Ida Maria
  12. Nonsense In The Dark - Filthy Dukes
  13. Sea Sew - Lisa Hannigan
  14. Welcome To The Night Sky - Wintersleep
  15. Lovethief - Lunic
  16. Hey Everyone - Dananananaykroyd
  17. The Airborne Toxic Event - The Airborne Toxic Event
  18. Rockwell - Anni Rossi