Monday, 31 March 2014

Equality for all or why you should support gay marriage.

On Saturday I went to a wedding reception.  The couple were very much in love and it was obvious to all the guests attending.
However this was no ordinary wedding.  This was a very special wedding on a very special day.  Saturday 29th March 2014 was the first day that same sex couples can actually marry each other.

It has been a long hard struggle to get here.  I feel in years to come people will question why it took us so long to recognise true equality.  They may ask why, for many years, we only offered a partnership and not a marriage for many years.  I wouldn’t know what to say to them.  All I can say is I am now proud that it is now an equal option for all couples, no matter what your sexual preference, to marry each other if they wish to.

To those who are not happy with this – this too was noticed at the wedding as there were security guards there.  The only wedding I have ever been to with security.  But they were worried about reactions of those who just don’t seem to understand what equality is.
So to those with religious Christian beliefs I say this - Jesus loved everyone.  He accepted everyone for who they are.  You cannot just pick and choose bits out of the bible you wish to use to support your bigoted beliefs.  And I am not an atheist.  I am a Christian.  I went to church for 15 years – barely missing a week.  I was supportive of Christian beliefs until I realised how judgemental some Christians are and how they use their beliefs to judge people.  Not just LGBT community, but also anyone who just didn’t fit in with their views.  I stopped going to church as my beliefs are that of accepting everyone.  And it definitely isn’t the case with the church.  And they should question why the congregation is less and less every year.  It’s not just about religion.  It’s about how does the church fit in with life today?  If the law says that same sex couples can marry – why should you say it is any different?  Who are you to judge? 

And to those who don’t object for religious reasons, but just because you want to object I say this – objecting to equality says more about you as a person than anything else.  And it is not a positive statement!
The wedding was wonderful and I am so pleased for Steve* and Mark* and wish them every happiness for the future.

One day I hope you will all join me in this wish.

*names have been changed.





Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Blancmange and Heaven 17 live for one night only. Manchester 15.03.14

Blancmange and Heaven 17 live for one night only. Manchester 15.03.14
Manchester is not somewhere I had been for a night out. I had been a few times in the past for work but never for pleasure. And this is pleasure one!

Unfortunately the hotels in Manchester on this weekend were extortionate. Not sure if it was the football or cause it is St Patrick’s Day weekend – but everything was more expensive than London.  We decided to stay in a cheap hotel a bit outside of town and get a taxi in. In theory this would still be cheaper than staying in the city.  However I didn’t bargain on staying in the hotel from hell. It was a cheap chain hotel – but one that hadn’t been done up for 30 years and still had woodchip wallpaper and huge TV’s (not flat screen).  However the staff was friendly enough. We decided to walk to a pub for some food before the gig. We walked and walked. It was in the middle of nowhere alright. There was nothing but a Tesco and a KFC. We opted for the later and my diet took a holiday.
We took a taxi to the venue but the taxi driver didn’t know which venue exactly as there are three academies.  Luckily some of my Heaven 17 friends found me and between us we all found the student bar!

Soon enough we were all inside the venue itself and ready for Blancmange to come on. While we were waiting there was some excellent early 80’s tracks being played including New Order’s Temptation, Soft Cell’s Sex dwarf and Devo’s whip it. It set the scene for what was to come.
Blancmange are first up and Neil Arthur does not disappoint. He is an excellent performer who gives his all to his work. He reminds me a bit of Ian Curtis. His energy and passion comes through the tracks. He even made an effort for Manchester, wearing a tie.

They played for over an hour and included, I can’t explain, Ultraviolet, of course, living on the ceiling (the crowd went mad for this) and my personal favourite, Feel me.  I love feel me 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.  They finished with Blind Vision. 
Again we were treated to some great tracks while the stage was set for Heaven 17.

I have seen Heaven 17 a number of times and have this to say about them. They are true professionals. You are guaranteed a great time if you go to one of their gigs. Glenn is always note perfect and Martyn takes personal pride in making sure it is all exactly how it should be. However, tonight they were the best I have ever seen them. They work so well together – they are funny and their respect and closeness for each other shows through. Tonight they reminded me of Morecombe and Wise. A comedy duo with affection for each other. It made for a great show.
They opened with circus of death from Martyn’s Human League days. Then they played at the height of the fighting (hey la hu) which they rarely play live.

They announced that tonight’s show was dedicated to Tony Benn who passed away a few days ago. And went straight into (we don’t need this) Fascist groove thang followed by Crushed by the wheels of industry. Two tracks that are obviously full of lyrics that are as apt today as they were 30 years ago.  Do I love the Heaven 17 lyrics because of the political connotations? Absolutely!
We are all singing and dancing along as they launch into we live so fast. Yet another song with lyrics that still fit our lives today. I wonder when they first wrote these lyrics if they knew they would stand the test of time?

Then a dance version of Geisha boys and temple girls was offered. Glenn said he reckons that a lot of Geisha boys and temple girls were out on the town tonight!
One of my personal favourite tracks was next. Play to win. Sex in fairyland was always a line I loved from Play to win. For years I have wondered what it meant and how Heaven 17 came up with it. At the after-show, Glenn told me the answer. It was certainly not what I had anticipated or expected or heard before from all the theories. But for me the H17 lyrics are open to interpretation. That’s what makes them special. For this reason I don’t want to ruin it for you all by telling you the definite meaning. Let it mean what you think it means to you.

The new Heaven 17 album is coming along nicely. I cannot disclose much at this stage but you should be getting excited. This will be the first new H17 stuff in years.  This is VERY exciting.  Let’s hope a tour to promote it will seal its success.  
If you have never seen them live – you must put it on your bucket list. You won’t find a better nights entertainment anywhere!

Heaven17 set list

Circus of Death

Height of the Fighting

Fascist groove thang

Crushed by the wheels of industry

We live so fast

Geisha boys and temple girls

Play to win

Come live with me

Loving feeling

Let me go

Boys keep swinging

Penthouse and pavement


I’m your money

Being boiled