Sunday, 27 May 2012

Ultimate 80's festival 26th May 2012

Ultimate 80’s festival  26 May 2012

I had been quite laid back about the festival, looking forward to hearing some great music in the wonderful sunshine, but got panicked when there seemed to be a problem on the A1(M) and traffic was not moving. My husband did not think we would get there in time. He was wrong. We arrived in perfect time and queued to go in. Until this point I thought it was an outdoor concert, but they had changed their minds last minute and unbeknown to us (we brought sunscreen and a blanket with us) it was moved indoors.
We decided to sit on the raised part halfway back so we would have a good view but still hear the sound quality of the music.

First up was Katrina (from Katrina and the waves) Boy can that girl sing.  My husband commented on how great she looked for her age (although neither of us know her age!).  It is a shame her style of music is out of favour currently (a rocky feel to it) but I loved her and thought she gave an excellent performance. She stopped “Walking on Sunshine” as it was out of tune and started the whole song again. I liked this. This is someone who really wants to give a good performance. Well done Katrina.

Dr and the Medics
We all know they only had one famous hit which was a cover version anyway, so I was not sure what to expect from the Doctor. It started with a cyberman smashing a Dalek on stage. Yes you read that right! Doctor from Dr and the Medics is totally mad and was good fun to watch. He sung a range of 80’s songs such as Dead or Alive’s “you spin me round”, Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and The Cult’s “sanctuary”, all of which suited his voice and really gave an 80’s atmosphere. His young back-up singer was very energetic and reminded me of Mimi from Rent (for those of you who know that musical).  The Doctor, of course, did his version of “Spirit in the sky”. He came out to sign and sell his CD afterwards, and part of me thought that a bit sad, but there were many parting with their money to buy a cover version CD.

Howard Jones
Howard Jones is more my husband’s taste than mine and he really enjoyed him. I liked the songs I knew but found his microphone wasn’t giving out a good sound (he had one of those head things). I thought “new song” and “Like to get to know you well” went down really well with the audience and my husband really thought Howard was great and was dancing away.

Heaven 17
I have to declare an interest here that this is the reason I bought a ticket. I saw Heaven 17 in 2010 doing the Penthouse and Pavement album and they were awesome. My only regret was not taking my camera out of my bag, so I didn’t want to make the same mistake. I told my husband that I wanted to be at the front as this was not a problem as in-between the acts everyone went outside to enjoy the sunshine or have a cigarette break. We moved to the front bar but 10 minutes later some very drunk man was shouting abuse at me for “taking his space”. He obviously hasn’t been to a New Order gig! (Read my blog on the Birmingham New Order gig to find out more). He was threatening to hit me and my husband (who was standing behind me so not to take up too much room). I told him I loved Heaven 17 and this is why I bought my ticket and he could have this space back for ABC if he wanted. He was so abuse that his wife (who was also very drunk) told him to go outside. I did not see him for the rest of the Heaven 17 session, but it was not a good start and I was a bit on edge.
Heaven 17 came in and did a really amazing set. It included “Fascist groove thang”, “Penthouse and Pavement” (I LOVE both those tracks), Crushed by the wheels of industry (not a fav but enjoyable), “Come live with me” (as the drunk woman was standing next to me shouting it out). When Glenn said the next song was going to be “Geisha boys and temple girls” I shouted out that I love that song. He heard me and said he also loves it but it has a lot of words to remember. (I remember thinking it was just as well he wasn’t going to sing “soul warfare” then!).  I sang along with him to a song that not everyone in the audience would know. It was fantastic. At the end of the song he pointed at me and asked my name. I told him and he told the audience that I knew all the words to this song and then asked me if I could come to all his gigs to remind him of the words to his songs! (The answer is a definite YES!).  I was so chuffed he name checked me to the whole audience and it made all the aggravation with the drunks worth the effort. This is why you need to be at the front people!!!
Glenn sang a fantastic version of “sign my name”the Terrance Trent D’arby song that was originally produced by none other than our own Martyn Ware (Did I mention Martyn Ware is a musical genius?! Well he is!!).  This was such a great version and I think this helped turn my husband into more of a fan (I am slowly converting him!).
They also did an amazing version of Temptation mixed it with “love to love you baby” which was out of this world. The crowd were going crazy!
I was gutted that they had to go, telling us we had been a fab audience, when actually they had given us a fab performance.
After they left the stage, an American guy came over and said I must be a true fan and I looked like I was having a great time. I told him that Penthouse and Pavement is one of my five favourite albums of all time (H17 are in good company here alongside Bowie and Pink Floyd!).  He then went on to tell me he met the band outside and they reproduced the Penthouse cover and showed me the photos on his camera. I was a bit gutted. How much I would love to have my photos taken with them? (That is a rhetorical question as I would LOVE to!).  I nipped outside for some fresh air (and to hopefully “accidentally” bump into Heaven 17), but I couldn’t see them.

We came back in for ABC who did a good set including all their famous tracks. I have seen ABC before (when they supported Robbie Williams) but for me I had already seen what I had come to see (H17) so was happy to move back towards the back of the venue where it was a bit cooler.  We sang and danced to “poison arrow” “all of my heart” and “look of love”.  Martyn Fry looked very smart in his suit.
I had a wonderful time at the Ultimate 80’s gig, but have two unanswered questions. Firstly why do people pay to go to see a band and then get so drunk that they can’t appreciate the effort the artists are making and actually ruin other people’s enjoyment?
The second question is although I understand completely that it was called Ultimate 80’s, why did some people feel the need to revisit some of the dreadful 80’s clothes styles? I saw a lady with a neon orange see through vest top, a lady with a black lace dress and bow in her hair (aka Madonna) and many polka dot dresses and clashing jewellery. These were not young people, but my peer group who remember it all the first time around. I never liked polka dots and feel a bit old for leg-warmers!
This experience has prompted me to think about my own ultimate 80’s gig. If I was going to arrange something that symbolised the 80’s to me personally, who would I have? (Besides Heaven 17 of course!). I would have to include Culture Club, Frankie goes to Hollywood, and a lot of high energy music, and I suppose a bit of early Madonna, Duran Duran, soft cell and Wham. If any of those bands fancy getting together I am happy to arrange it and find a venue!!
I would NOT have Rick Astley. I consider the 80’s good before 1985. I hate Rick Astley’s “never gonna give you up” and consider that it belongs along with those leg warmers and polka dots. Who would be in your ultimate 80’s gig?  It makes you think!!

To view my photos of this event, please visit my flickr account.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The best thing about Dark Shadows...The chair!

Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

Johnny Depp does what he does best in this retro comedy horror, he stars in a Tim Burton film alongside Helene Bonham-Carter. Feel Deja-Vu yet?

I like the fact Depp plays a vampire called Collins. (Is this a joke on the Twilight saga?). I like the fact the film is like a comedy version of The Woman in Black.

But what I do not like is the randomness of some of the plot. For example, why is the daughter a werewolf and how did this come about? What happened to Josette’s ghost and why did Vicky see it but then it disappears despite the fact she was in love with Depp’s character. And why oh why is it set in 1972? (Answers on a postcard to anyone give a damn, c/o Tim Burton).

As usual, Tim Burton has made a film with some great effects (The witch’s porcelain face that cracks is fantastic, as is the love scene between Barnabus and Angelique), but the film lacks substance of plot, dialogue and any real meaning.

Verdict: I would rather be buried in a box for 200 years than sit through this again. Very disappointing.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

New Order. O2 Brixton Academy. 2nd May 2012

New Order. O2  Brixton Academy. 2nd May 2012
Further to my review of New Order’s gig in Birmingham, I thought I wouldn’t have much to say to review the same show again. Only, what a difference a venue makes!

Our hotel (Comfort Inn) was fab and even had an en-suite Jacuzzi bath! It was within comfortable walking distance of the venue. We had spent a few hours in Camden earlier in the day (My spiritual home due to the quirky edge it has), and although I had not bought much, I was enjoying being in London.
I hadn’t realised that it would start earlier so we didn’t have much time to find the venue but actually it was two straight roads away from the hotel. The queuing was around the side and I did feel slightly annoyed that O2 users get priority entrance to the venue. I was not aware of this in advance or I might have been tempted to borrow a phone!  Then some guy came begging for money for a charity. I was happy to give but felt he was a bit too pushy to someone who didn’t immediately offer to give and said he had no change. It didn’t feel right that he should insist on people putting money in. It should always be a choice. Apparently the O2 venue was supporting this action but I think it is bad practice to target a sitting audience in that way (and against charity commission’s regulations!). We were then separated into two queues, females and males. This felt a bit concentration camp-ish. I do appreciate it will probably get people into the venue quicker but it is not a good practice. The venue was much bigger (or at least felt much bigger and grander) than the Birmingham Ballroom.
We had chosen tickets in unreserved seating upstairs so that my husband could really hear it properly this time, and anyway I was still covered in bruises from being at the front of the gig on Sunday! We got front row of the upstairs seating which was ideal for both photos and hearing the music.

The toilets were not working properly upstairs so I had to beg to go downstairs to use them. I did use the upstairs toilets later and they really do need looking after a bit better. (Clean with decent facilities would be good. The hand-dryers are a waste of time!).
DJ Tin Tin and Jake Evans both did a very similar set to Sunday's (see below) but the audience was itching to see New Order. (They seem more impatient in London!).
I was not ready for the amazing difference in the two gigs. The most noticeable thing was sound quality was so much better from upstairs, but also at the London gig, New Order pulled out all the stops. The light show was amazing and really gave it a stadium gig feel. They slightly changed the set and included two songs from their Joy Division days as an encore. It was an amazing show and Barney was so much better and back to his old self (joking with the crowd about a guy who had come all the way from Portugal to see them!).
I am most definitely a New Order fan. It is interesting to note that the die-hard fans seem to be the ones who went to the Troxy gig. If you love New Order, the Troxy was the intimate gig they did last December and I feel those who went there have made these gigs possible. If you wish to thank me, you are most welcome!