Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Where is my Glittering prize?

I had been really excited to hear that Simple Minds were touring again. I had seen them in the mid 1980’s at the height of their fame at the Milton Keynes Bowl and had really enjoyed the gig.

To hear them join forces with Ultravox and gig at the O2 arena was too much to resist and I bought tickets as soon as they were released.

The hotel and train was booked. We dumped our stuff off at the hotel and headed over to the O2. I love the O2. It has a magical atmosphere. It is full of very overpriced restaurants and they are all very busy – but it doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm. I suppose it is because every time I go to the O2 it is to see a band or show at the O2 arena.

I spent £90 on merchandise in less than 5 minutes. (How long did it take me to earn that money? More than 5 minutes I suspect!)

However, this was my first time to the O2 as an O2 customer. I am glad I switched. I was given priority VIP treatment. I could hang my coat in the free cloakroom, was offered free mints, hang out in the VIP lounge bar and had a private lift up to the arena. No queuing. No hassle. It was just perfect.

We found out seats and got ready for the first of tonight’s acts, Ultravox.  I had never seen Ultravox before, but of course everyone knows Vienna and Midge from co-writing ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’ 

I was amazed at the quality of Ultravox.  This is not a small venue and Ultravox had everyone going. I was standing and dancing for the whole of their set (Yes I even danced to Vienna although not quite sure how now).  They were amazing and Midge’s voice is very powerful.

I knew a lot more Ultravox songs than I thought I would. I was impressed how they comfortably filled the room. They were a class act.

There was a short interlude before Jim Kerr from Simple Minds led the band on stage and asked the audience to ‘show me your hands’. Errm why? Do you think they need washing? It was a strange thing to say and perhaps I just didn’t get it – did he mean he wanted us to clap? He said it a lot. A lot. A LOT! It got a bit old after a while. And I always loved how Jim danced. He used to use his arms and hands a lot. (A bit like my dancing!) So I missed that – where were his hands? He crouched down a lot but I wanted to see him dance!

Anyway, none of that matters cause Simple Minds have made some epic tracks and I couldn’t wait to hear them. I have to say it was wonderful to hear all my favourite tracks such as ‘I travel’, ‘Love Song’ and ‘Sanctify yourself’.

They started off with Waterfront.  I love this track and it was a great one to start the show. However I did find that either the music was drowning out the vocals a bit or Jim was not singing where he should. It was hard to hear him clearly. I am a words person. I like lyrics. I want to hear the words. And actually while I am at it, Jim listen to me – I paid a lot of money to hear you sing. I have a personal hate of singers expecting us (the audience) having to sing the song for them. Its ok for the odd one line or for the extras (you know the naaa naa’s and dooo dooo’s) but Jim kept asking us to do the work for him. At one point he said ‘We should pay you’. Well now you mention it…if you don’t sing it clearly and most of it then maybe you should! We paid to hear you sing Jim – stop making us do the work!

He joked about how broke the band are as the lights are so expensive, but actually all he did was make me do a mental calculation of how much this had cost me. The train to London, the hotel, food for two days, merchandise and of course the cost of the ticket. Now times that by 70,000 or however many people were at the gig and I thought his bank do not think he is too shabby right now! He should probably not say things like that – it’s not warming his audience to him in these times of austerity.

I think it is fantastic that Simple Minds can still pull such a crowd to fill the O2 and other large arenas, but I think it’s not the same. Simple Minds did not feel sincere and I was left feeling they had sold-out.  Personally, I would not choose to go another Simple Minds gig again. Yes I was that disappointed!

However, Glittering prize and Waterfront been stuck in my head since the gig – you cannot deny the quality of the tracks!

Set List:


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Two helpings of Blancmange? Yes please!

Two helpings of Blancmange? Yes please.

I had been looking to seeing Blancmange for months. They were doing a very special night at my favourite club, Only After Dark (OAD), after their UK tour.

But whilst trying to Google the set list on Sunday, I only found out they were playing Milton Keynes that night. I am not a spontaneous person. I like to plan my gigs – but an opportunity like this was not to be missed and so we bought tickets online and drove to a pub I hadn’t been to in over 30 years!

It was a bit like going back in time. The pub hadn’t changed that much. I didn’t have good memories from it either. It was this very pub that someone opened up my handbag and stole my camera out of my bag. I had also once (when I was very young) taken an offer of a lift home after missing the last bus. The one person I knew in the car was dropped off first and I was left with a stranger who threatened to throw me over the railway lines. I never did anything like that again. He had really scared me. So the Crawford Arms does not hold good memories for me. Tonight I was hoping that all was going to change.

The support act was Ernest Herb. He was one guy with a keyboard but he had a lovely tone to his voice and could really play. It was a bit gappy in between songs and I don’t think he really knew about working the audience, but you can’t hide real talent and he was very talented.

Then for the main attraction. Blancmange came onstage headed up by Neil Arthur. This is a man with a great voice, a talent for song- writing and a great sense of humour.

After the first couple of tracks, someone in the audience shouted something out. He couldn’t hear so he asked them to repeat it. They embarrassingly said never mind, but he said ‘well it was long enough, give it another go’. This time we all heard the man say ‘play the track from Now that’s what I call music 3’. Neil said to him ‘well let us know when we play it won’t ya’ it was a brilliant comeback. He was great at working the crowd.

‘I can’t explain’ is such a great opening track – it has the energy and angst of punk with the electronic genius of kraftwerk. It is one of my personal favourites and it was fantastic to hear it live. It was followed up by ‘Feel me’, which is my personal all-time favourite.  I love feel me (and had my original 12” signed afterwards) as the words and bassline just work so well together. And of course it has the immortal line… ‘put your hand in a pocket, a pocket of a friend. What do you feel? Tell me now?’. Classic.

He went on to sing the rest of the happy families’ album in full, including wasted and waves. This is the first time it has ever been done and it was fantastic. On ‘sad day’ he picked up the guitar himself and played. It was a beautiful moment. This album is so diverse and special. If you only know Blancmange for ‘Living on the ceiling’ then buy this and have a listen. It truly is a work of art.

He came back for his encore with the band saying they are the tribute band. ‘Tribute bands – they are so technically correct – but that’s not the point is it?’ I loved his sense of humour and the band looked like they were all having a great time. They finished with Blind Vision.  It was an excellent night.

He came out to meet me and sign my stuff (including my much treasured ‘Some Bizarre album’ which the band manager told me is worth about £300 – I had no idea!).

They had some very special merchandise on sale – happy families’ playing cards, cups, t shirts, albums (that were only sold at the gigs!) and vinyl as well as posters of the event. The artwork for Blancmange has always been well thought through and it is reflected throughout the merchandise.

I feel very lucky to have been at this small gig in Milton Keynes, but do you know what the best thing is? I get to hear it all again at OAD on Saturday!


Friday, 15 November 2013

Children in Need

Warning – rant in progress!

Today is children in need day. Only it has been children in need month with the run up to the event. You couldn’t turn on the TV without a reminder or two about it. We have been almost brainwashed by it.  But instead of being brainwashed, I am feeling more and more annoyed about it for several reasons.

Firstly Radio 2 has been doing amazing prizes all week, but to ev
en have a chance you have to bid over 30k. In these times of recession do the very rich need to gloat like that about how they can afford to give huge sums of money away? (I believe the Monaco Grand Prix trip went for more than my mortgage!)

If the rich have that amount of money and want to donate – the graceful thing would be to do it in private instead of doing it so publicly. I was made redundant this year and now earn substantially less than I did. I don’t need reminding of other people’s wealth.

I also have issues with all the brainwashed public who dress up and raise money for children in need. Now be honest, are they really doing it to raise money or is it another way of saying ‘look at me and how good I am raising money for charity?’

I have worked in the third (charitable) sector for a long time. I have personally volunteered since I was 21 years old. I have donated my time and money to several charities over the years. I don't need a big cheque or to go on national TV to do it.

There are lots of small charities who are really struggling to survive. So if you want to dress up and raise money – do it locally. Do it to really make a difference rather than making you look good. Do it so you can see the difference in your local community. Or if you want to make a difference to the vulnerable abroad, how about donating to the emergency relief in the Philippines? Now there are some people who really need our help.
But please think about donating your time and money carefully. Don’t be a sheep.

OK - rant over!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Thor - The Dark World

I had enjoyed Thor and had been looking forward to this film. I was not disappointed.

This is in fact a much better film than the original for the following reasons:
1.       Lots of action

2.       Lots of funny lines

3.       Lots of ancient world and magic

4.       Great scene of Thor washing with a bare chest!
The story is a good one. The dark elves want the worlds to be dark. It is an ancient story of revenge and a familiar one to many other films.  Thousands of years ago Asgard won the fight against evil and hid their dangerous weapon, The Aether.
The fight between the Asgard and the dark elves is inevitable but there are a few twists and turns in this story which are unexpected.
The dark elves look like cybermen in their war costumes and some of the magic ‘tricks’ are stolen from Star Trek, but none of this takes away from the enjoyment of the film.
Chris Hemsworth is Thor and what a phoorrr he is!  With Anthony Hopkins as Odin you know this will be a well-acted film. The outstanding star of the show and the one with the best lines is Tom Hiddleston who plays Loki.
I don’t need to convince you to watch this – if you love Marvel films you will love it. If you like fantasy adventure you will love it. If you like Chris Hemsworth (also in Rush) you will love it.
Call me a geek – but I loved this film!
It might not be film of the year (my personal vote for that goes to ‘Now you see me’) but this is a very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Move over Simon Cowell, Martyn Ware knows real talent! BEF gig - London 2013.

Move over Simon Cowell, Martyn Ware knows real talent!
BEF gig - London 2013.

For those of you who are not already familiar with the British Electric Foundation or BEF concept, it was founded by Martyn Ware as an idea to launch a portfolio of many future musical projects of which Heaven 17 would be just one.  Of course Heaven 17 went on to be very successful.

BEF (or British Electric Foundation) is about real talent and this gig was going to be a very special one – it was to promote the third BEF album.  The album called Dark was well overdue if they average one album every decade.  As for the content well it is dark by name and dark by nature.  Martyn says the idea is to take an already well known track and ‘darken it up’ which means he really emphasized the words of the song and the dark meaning behind the lyrics rather than it just having an upbeat tempo.

Arriving early to get a good spot, I was greeted by the best DJ on the planet (apart from my husband – clause in marriage contract) Mr Mark Jones.  It is obvious he really loves his job and really gets the crowd going with some great tracks.  I felt his set should have been longer, but not to worry as we were equally blessed by the support group, The Echoes, a young band and major talent that really gave their all.  The crowd certainly warmed to them.  If a starter sets you up for your main course, then The Echos certainly did that for us.  Mark reappears to play a few more excellent tracks while the stage is set up for the main event.

Martyn comes on with the band and promises a very special night, kicking it off by introducing his best friend, Mr Glenn Gregory.  Glenn does a perfect rendition of ‘It was a very good year’ which was a hit for Mr Frank Sinatra and younger fans may know the track from Robbie Williams  Sing when your winning album.  Glenn hits every note perfectly and even if I think he may still be a bit young to talk about his autumn years, he does it justice.  What a start to the evening!

Then Martyn introduces Mr Andy Bell (From Erasure) who comes on and knocks us dead with his version of ‘Breathing’.  The audience are barely breathing  just listening to him. You could hear a pin drop.  He follows this up with another track, ‘Love of my life’.  Andy’s performance is at the best he has ever been.  He is emotional and pitch perfect.  Fabulous.  It makes me even more excited about how anyone can follow that.

But who can follow that?  Well Sarah Jane Morris (best known as the woman who sings on The Communards track ‘Don’t leave me this way’).  Wow does she know how to own a stage!  Her dress is perfect for the concept of the Dark album – black and quirky.  And boy does she deliver!  Her voice is so good and she gives an outstanding performance with her two tracks ‘I don’t wanna know’ and ‘family affair’.  If I wasn’t already standing she would be getting a standing ovation from me.

Next, our own Billie Godfrey comes on (she is already part of the Heaven 17 family and well known for her delivery of Temptation) but how would she fare singing ‘Smalltown Boy’?  Well this girl can sing and she really shows her talent off to full effect on a slow number.  She follows it up with a track called’ Free’.  This is simply bliss.

To follow this, the other backing singer from Heaven 17 (the baby of the H17 family) comes on to frankly knock us dead again.  I cannot believe the great voice that comes out of this small young woman.  She sounds like she was born with soul and it is oozing out of her.  She gives us’ Copilot to pilot’ and ‘walk in my shoes’.  Martyn agrees by telling the audience to leave now if they don’t get it.

Next Glenn comes back on and sings ‘Party Fears Two’.  I have heard him sing this several times at various gigs and it is always emotional.  This is the same venue where he first sang it for Billy MacKenzie’s tribute concert, but this is the first time he has ever made me cry.  (And I mean chin quivering proper crying here – I was a wreak).  He delivered it with such emotion and I am sure Billy is looking down on him and is proud of him.

 ‘Didn’t I blow your mind this time’ is covered by Green Gartside.  For those who don’t instantly recognise the name, you will recognise the voice as Green is the voice behind Scritti Politti.  He does this track justice with a mellow and easy going melody with slightly sinister undertones which make it moreish.  He did blow my mind this time!  He follows this up with ‘I don’t know why I love you’.  What a fabulous voice he has and what a fantastic show this is!  What more is there to come?
I make no apologies for telling it artist by artist, track by track as it would be a real tragedy to miss a review of anyone.

Berenice Scott is best known as the keyboard player in the Heaven 17 family.  Who knew she could sing?  Well she can and sent shivers down my spine as she covers’ Blondie’s ‘Picture this’.  It is a very brave person who would take on such a well known track but also to step into Kate Jackson’s shoes (She was in New York and unable to make it to this BEF gig but it is Kate who sings this on the album).  However at the risk of sounding cheesy from a rather well known TV show, Berenice makes it her own.  She was amazing and it was great to see her centre stage away from her keyboard.  She should do this more often.  Martyn really does know how to spot real talent!
And talking of Martyn spotting real talent, this next artist is someone who works as an Undertaker in his day job, but if there were any justice in the world, David J Roch’s voice would be enjoyed the world over.  What a talent this young man is.  He gave a simply stunning performance of ‘Same Love’.

Claudia Brucken comes on next. (Best known from Propaganda) and sings Bert Bacharach’s ‘The look of love’ followed by ‘These boots are made for walking’.  Claudia has her own style and gives a unique twist to these classics.  And I just want to mention Martyn here.  He is on stage the whole time – so while other artists come and go, Martyn is playing with them, singing with them and being PA for the whole event.  It must be exhausting but I get the feeling that Martyn couldn’t be happier.
I was excited about the next act.  Kim Wilde is a very talented person.  We all know her from ‘Kids in America’ (which has a special place in my heart as without it I would never had met my first boyfriend!), but this is a grown up Kim. This is a raunchy sexy extroverted Kim.  The video for ‘Every time I see you, I go wild’ was nothing short of fabulous.  She looked totally amazing in her vampire killer outfit and when Martyn announces she will be wearing that outfit on stage, well I heard every man in the room’s mouth drop open!  She still knows how to knock ‘em dead and that is just with her looks.

However, Kim is a seasoned performer and has real talent.  The first time I heard this track it took my breath away.  Kim sounds so amazing on it and the song has a sexy undercurrent running through it.  It reminds me of how I feel when I put quality chocolate in my mouth and let it melt slowly.  That is what this track does to me!  Simply perfect!  Kim is the three ‘S’. - sexy, sassy and stunning singing.
She follows this up with R Dean Taylor’s ‘Ghost in my house’ (which is one of my all-time favourite soul tracks).  She can act too as she gives an impression of looking for a ghost on stage.  What a performance!  It doesn’t get better than this!  She finishes her set with her own cover  ‘keep me hanging on’.  Just perfection.

And how on earth do you follow Kim Wilde? You do a bit of Bowie! Glenn comes on and covers ‘Boys keep swinging’ . Now I am not a fan of anyone covering Bowie being a huge Bowie fan myself, but Glenn really does do a fantastic version of this – he has the perfect voice for it and really does show that he and Martyn are fans of Bowie and would never do a poor version.  (Actually I have never seen or heard Glenn or Martyn do a bad version of anything – they are true professionals who always give value for money performances).

So what can follow that? - the final number of the evening and what they always finish with – Heaven 17’s Temptation. 
What a performance.  What a gig.  What a night.  What a memory.  I will remember this event for many many years to come.

This gig was like a trifle.  Each layer is identifiable and individually delicious on its own but together it takes perfect.  The fact that Martyn has announced there will never be another BEF gig is so sad- it’s the electronic equivalent of when Bowie said ‘Not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show we will ever do’.  When music of such quality and distinction evokes such emotions and diversity – it is truly a tragedy that this is the last ever BEF gig.
They say genius isn’t always appreciated in its own lifetime and I feel this is true of Martyn.  In years to come people will gasp at how many people just didn’t get it.  But for now, know you are one of the few who do.  If you were lucky enough to get a ticket and experience this – you may understand my write up and know you have shared in something magnificent.  If you missed it, well you missed a unique experience – never to be repeated.  Go buy the album and console yourself at what you missed!
Photos below:
1. Martyn Ware
2. Glenn Gregory
3. Billie Godfrey
4. Kelly Barnes
5. Green Gartside
6. Berenice Scott
7. David J Roch
8. Claudia Brucken
9. Kim Wilde
10. Andy Bell
11. Sarah Jane Morris






Monday, 12 August 2013

Bowie is... just wonderful!

Bowie is…
I want to take you on a journey…it is an emotional journey of my life…and I can tell you it all via the Bowie is exhibition currently at the VA.

The backstory to my going to see the Bowie is exhibition at the V&A is detailed. I did not realise they would sell out online so quickly and was devastated when I heard they had.  My lovely hubby bought some last minute evening showings but they were for the last week of the exhibition in August and I am not known for my patience.
So under the guise of taking my 15 year old to a museum, I travelled 50 miles to see if we could secure tickets on the day.  I thought I had been clever, choosing a day that was neither the weekend nor a school holiday, but alas there was still easily a queue of people at least 150 in front of me.  We queued for about half an hour when I decided to ask about membership.  I found out that members get free entry to the V&A exhibitions (I knew that) but each membership can get up to four children under 18 into it for free!)  plus 10% off all the Bowie stuff I am gonna buy – plus 10% off the coffee shop.  Sold to the lady in the Bowie t-shirt!!  My only regret was I hadn’t bought this months ago and visited it hundreds of times already.
I did not know what to expect but we picked up our headphones and went in.
The first thing to know is there is not a set way around. Take time to take it all in and explore everything. Watch out for the peepholes in the black wooden doors. Read each David Bowie is..line. 

It is an art exhibition and therefore talks about how Bowie has influenced attitudes, fashion, music and more. Bowie ’Art’ includes his music, his costumes, the way he designs his sets for videos and tours, his films and plays…is there no end to this man’s talent or …forget ‘or’.  There is no end to this man’s talents!
The exhibits include a letter explaining why David Jones became David Bowie.  It has the hand written music of The Laughing Gnome.  It has taken my breath away and I am transformed back to the first time I heard ‘Can’t help thinking about me’.  And this is only the first part.

It continues with more hand written lyrics including Life On Mars and Five Years.  I found it really interesting to see how the lyrics had changed from what Bowie had originally put to what we know and love the song of today.  For example, ‘stared at the wheels of a Cadillac' – was originally tram or train (it’s crossed out so rather hard to see).  One of my favourite areas in this section was the life on mars video. I stood close and really felt I was in the Top of the Pops studio.  I danced and pretended I was the only one there.  Did you know that the costume for that performance was based on droogs from the film A Clockwork Orange?  No?  Neither did I?  This exhibition is educational even for a die-hard fan who knows an awful lot about Bowie.

There are many outfits throughout the exhibition, but some of my personal favourites are the following: Jazzin' for Blue Jean, Earthling jacket, Life On Mars (blue suit). Thin White Duke (black and white) and of course the iconic clown from Ashes to Ashes.  I was amazed that it was all in such good condition and had been saved all these years.
I enjoyed seeing the verbaliser which is a computer machine that randomises sentences to make a lyric stand out in a way you may not have thought of before. 

It goes right up to modern day as well with videos such as ‘Where are we now’ and ‘The stars’.  I also enjoyed the puppet from ‘Where are we now’ as Bowie was looking right at me and blowing me kisses and winking.  Had better not tell Iman!  ;)
There is a special part of the ‘Berlin years’ looking at Low, Lodger and Heroes.  It even has his keys to his apartment from those days!

One of my favourite parts (or do I mean another of my favourite parts) was when I went into what I can only describe as a stadium with Bowie singing to me.  (Ok, me and a few hundred others in the room) but it had been very cleverly created with costumes of the videos light up behind the thin veil. 
One comment that has always got to me has been ‘Not only is it the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show we will ever do’ made me cry. I sobbed all the way through ‘Rock n' Roll Suicide’ and when he said give me your hands I was singing and raising my hands up to him as if he was only singing to me.

I question how strongly the people who attended are as a fan as I saw no one sing,  no one dance, no one excited comment, so I felt justified when after a few songs I clapped at the end of each one.  I don’t care what other people think.  I love Bowie and wanted to express it.  Bowie has been in my life longer than both my husbands, my kids, most of my friends.  To me, Bowie has been the friend I needed when I was low and lonely as a teenager, and that bond is stronger than ever today.
This was such an emotional journey for me.  At each part of Bowie’s life and change in direction, I have grown and changed too.

Thank you Mr Bowie for being there.  You were my first love. I will never forget you.
Note: since writing this I have been again twice to enjoy it.  I saw different things each time I went.  It is where I want to be buried when I die!!

And in case you wondered just how influential he has been in my life, last week my mum asked me why I had never married Bowie. ‘Mum, he never asked me!’



Sunday, 14 July 2013

Read all about it - OAD is the cure for the common cold!

I am gonna be so rich and famous!  Why I hear you ask.  Well I have found the cure for the common cold!  I really have.

I was sent home from work on Thursday as everyone got fed up hearing me cough around the office.  Was so poorly I rang in sick on Friday.  I had tried chicken soup, loads of tablets and water, anything that I could to try to get better, but I still felt awful.
There was no way I could see myself going to OAD, despite the tickets for train being booked and the hotel paid for.  My husband said he would go and give my apologies.
I agreed to go to the hotel and relax.  That might help and it would at least keep the germs out of my house.
On the train up there I felt like I was in a horror film.  You know the kind – The Cassandra Crossing or Contagion comes to mind.  I was the character who had the virus who would share it all before dying within the first ten minutes of the film.  My husband’s character was the hero who would save the world and become self-sufficient in a remote shed (are there many of those in Birmingham?).  Anyway you get the general idea.  I was not imagining this as you should have seen people’s faces as I coughed and sneezed my way during the journey.  Virgin train passengers were not impressed and looked angry fed up or concerned about catching my germs.
We booked into the hotel about 4pm.  I could barely eat my dinner in the pub next door and decided I wasn’t able to go.  I went back to the hotel and had a short sleep which was much needed.
But Hubby kept saying I should try it and we can come home if needed.  So with hours to go I started to get ready not knowing at any moment if I would launch into another coughing fit.
By the time I was ready to go; I had stopped coughing and didn’t look that ill.  So on the surface I looked ok.  In the fresh air I felt a lot better.  I don’t know if it was the adrenaline for OAD, I had missed it so much as we had not been able to go last month due to Hubby’s work commitments but this was having an impact on my health. In a good way.
As soon as I got there I felt well.  I mean no cough, no cold, no sneezing.  Nothing.  I also found great music, lovely people and fab environment. 
Not only did I feel well but then I felt so happy with the choices of music played.  It was as if someone had hacked my dream list of OAD tracks from my computer (Yes I do have one of those) and decided to play them all.
I had no choice.  I had to dance.  The first song to get me on the dance floor was (we don't need this) fascist groove thang by Heaven 17. I had only seen it done live by Heaven 17 the week before but this song never gets old!

Following that compulsion was ‘No GDM’ by Gina X which I love and was on the dance floor singing and dancing away.  The next stand out track was ‘The Bunker’ by The Bollock Bros.  (Is it me or does the backing of both tracks sound very similar?)  I love this too and danced away.
As a huge Bowie fan I like to mix with other huge Bowie fans.  I was deep in a Bowie conversation when the ultimate song that gave me a compulsion to dance came on.  It is no secret that I have been asking for this for months.  And the track?... ‘Bela Lugosi’s dead’ by Bauhaus.  Back in the day I was known to wear capes and be always on the dance floor to this (normally the only one as most DJ’s were too scared to play it during busy periods).  Not only was this played at a perfect time of night, but they played the video from the film ‘The Hunger’ (which features Bowie for those who are not in the know).  One of the best ever starts to a movie.  Ever!.  How I love this song and dancing to it sealed my night as a perfect one.
In fact David summed it up nicely as I was saying goodbye. He said, ‘Bowie and Bauhaus – it doesn’t get better (for me) than this’.  Thank God for David.  Without him there would be no OAD. (NO GDM and No OAD – OMG!)
Despite being unwell I lasted until 2pm.  I had not expected to last that long and had had an amazing time.  Many many thanks to my increasingly growing OAD family.  Some of the nicest and most stylish people I have ever met!




Monday, 24 June 2013

Hacienda and Hooky

Hacienda.  It means so much too so many.  To Manchester it was a special place to go where the music and atmosphere came together to produce some nights that have gone down in history.  Built by New Order, Hacienda was a nightclub like no other.

I attended Fac 51, an anniversary of Hacienda.  They opened late as they were running late and two acts of the night had already cancelled their appearance – Danny Rampling and K-Klass.  Not a promising start to the evening.
The queue consisted of various ages and many familiar faces from previous New Order gigs I had been to.  I am well known as ‘the girl who takes the photos’.  There was no merchandise on sale.  I thought this missed a trick.  South London is rough and the venue, The Coronet depicted just that.  After going through a security screen similar to at an airport, they then searched my tiny tiny handbag and it was pulled apart looking for chewing gum.  Now I know they don’t know me and know my feelings on chewing gum but I hardly think it’s a threat to the venue!  Drinks were extortionate.  Two drinks (singles) for £12 but that didn’t seem to stop many of the audience from getting completely wasted.

I have to be honest and declare that acid house was never my cup of tea.  I don’t mind a bit of Chicago house and can even manage a bit of trance on occasion but Acid is a step too far.
The crowd seemed friendly enough but I think I have a bit of an issue with the Manchester mentality.  They seem to think it is acceptable to swear, shout and push other people.  I know it’s not the drugs they were on as it was still fairly early on in the evening.  Or maybe I am just getting old!  An example of what annoyed me is the young pretty girl who pushed into the front to see Hooky.  I didn’t have an issue with that, but her very short bob kept ending up in my face every time she danced and shook her head.  I questioned myself, was I jealous of her energy, looks or youth?  No I was just rather pissed off that her hair kept getting in my face!  Her boyfriend disappeared during the set and this seemed to be an invitation for older men (I would suggest 30 years older than her at least) to hit on her.  One had his arm around her shoulders and another kept asking to drink her beer of which she allowed.  If this is normal behaviour for Hacienda, I AM getting old!  (She even kept smiling sweetly at me as if I should be happy her hair is in my face!). Let it be known, I do not want anyone’s hair in my face. Ever!

Anyway, Hooky was the main event and what we had come to see.  I was very excited about this.  I had seen Hooky play with New Order about six years ago and had met him in a lift (but that is another story).  Today he started his set with two brilliant Joy Division numbers, Isolation and Heart & Soul.  But hold on; was there something wrong with his mike?  I couldn’t hear him properly.  (And I was front row).
The set list was excellent and included a great set of New Order tracks including True Faith (One of my favourites), Everything’s gone green (another of my all-time favs), Blue Monday (Of course!), Fine Time (Hubby was delighted to hear this – it is rarely played live), Temptation (Hooky sang ‘I’ve never met anyone quite like you before’ right at me and pointed to me.), Bizarre Love Triangle and Your silent face. 

Great set list indeed.  But I couldn’t hear Hooky . It sounded all fuzzy.  Was the mike too low?  I would forgive him this oversight but there were other issues with this performance which made the whole event disappointing.  Hooky kept turning his back to the audience to bash a bit of an electronic drum (when most of it was already programmed in) and most bizarrely of all – he hardly played bass!
Now before you all blast me for this review, let it be known I have a lot of respect for Hooky. I think he is one of the best bass players we have ever had.  I love his work with both JD and NO.  I paid full price for this ticket to see him (it was not a sold out event and many tickets got discounted) so I do feel I have the right to comment fairly on the performance.  I have always promised readers of my blog an honest opinion and this is what they get.  And my honest opinion is this:  I have felt Hooky was desperate to be a front man for many years while in New Order.  Now he has his chance.  But he doesn’t engage with the audience.  He didn’t talk to us once.  He didn’t even thank us.  I at least wanted him to play his bass and impress us. (Mark King from Level 42 impressed me big time with singing AND playing his bass AT THE SAME TIME!).  Why can’t Hooky deliver?

I would love to ask him where he sees himself in five years’ time.  Will he still be doing old stuff?  Will he be writing new stuff?  Can he possibly see himself back with New Order?  I can tell you I do not think his future is rosy if he continues performing like this.  My husband and I are die-hard fans of New Order and would pay gladly to see a good performance.  But we would not do this again.
Where does that leave you Mr Hook?  

All in all, a very disappointing evening.
PS. Anyone who says it was a great evening was either drunk, on drugs or has never seen hooky play with New Order /Joy Division before!