Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Primal Scream

So, there I was in London at the weekend, down to see Andy BHT, and to hear his band Fuzzystar play at The Wilmington prior to his relocation back to Auld Reekie.  It was another very good night at the Wilmington, and I thought that the 'star had certainly tightened up, to rather dramatic and compelling effect.  The melodies, lyrics and what-not was always good, but now there was also precision and power.  Impressive.  I had their songs in my head for days after.

I also, somewhat randomly found myself at Primal Scream's gig of their influential "Screamadelica" album at Brixton Academy.  I'd been offered a spare ticket the night before, so I thought "What the hey, I like that album", and went.  I was glad I did, as it was certainly a fun night, although I thought at times that the sound churned around the Academy like old socks in a washing machine.  Bobby G has matured into a surprisingly effective frontman, roaming around the stage and exhorting us to sing along like a man possessed.  Mani on bass acted like a man absolutely petrified, gulping huge amounts of air and staring around him like he was seeing demons.  If it was an act, it was brilliantly played.

 As I was down the front, I was damn near within touching distance, slightly perturbing to see someone famous that close up, if truth be told.  One suddenly realises that they are an actual, live, human being.  I'm sure our eyes locked a few times.  Disconcerting.

But, what I was thinking was, is it a good thing for so many people to be so keen on an album you did 20 or so years ago?  In some ways of course it is, as it shows that album has withstood the cruel brillo pad of time, which erodes so much once shiny music.  Not many can lay claim to that.  But, I'd imagine that most artists would rather that people got most excited about their latest work, whatever that is.

Who knows though?  He probably enjoyed himself anyway, so good luck to him and the rest of the Primals.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

The Listening Room

Who DIDN'T notice the guitar in this logo?
I was hosting at The Listening Room on Sunday just gone, the main act being Confushian.  I was somewhat concerned beforehand that the place might be stuffed with noisy bozos watching some sort of sport on the screens, but thankfully the place was very quiet when I got there.

Which, you might think, would be a bad thing.  Not if you're running an unamplified acoustic night, it isn't.  And then, the list quickly filled up with lots of good musicians, and the room also had some interested non-musicians too.

It would have to be said that the quality on display in the open mic section of the evening (8-9 pm) would have been enough to have made any main act tremble in their boots.  Matt Norris, Caro Bridges, Roger Emmerson, Lindsay Sugden, Julien Pearly, Sir Tom Watton, Gavin . . .  all on top form and sounding great.

So, it was just as well for all of us that Confushian are made of sterner stuff than the loose blancmange which passes for our resolve.  They put in a truly stunning performance, I was particularly impressed by Fraser's new skill of playing the saxophone.  If someone had said he'd been playing it for 20 years, I'd have believed them.  John "Fingers" Farrell's guitar playing was as flawless as ever, no mean feat for someone whose main instrument is bass (for the awesome Townhouse).

So, one of those special nights, when the magic dust has been sprinled liberally around.  Not one for hyperbole, Roger murmered "What a wonderful evening" as he departed.  I couldn't agree more.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

When the cat's away . . .

Both my flat-mates having gone out for the evening, I seized the opportunity to inexpertly bellow some songs in my room, and attempt to play the harmonica.  I should probably be able to practice like that when they're in, but I can't.  And the trouble is, they aren't both out at the same time very often.

I think it must be something to do with singing being more personal than playing an instrument.  I know of plenty of other musicians who feel the same, and wait until the coast is clear before letting rip.  And sometimes you do need to practice singing loud, like when you're due to host the Listening Room at the Blue Blazer on Sunday for the excellent Confushian.  As I am.  I'm really looking forward to it, actually.

Photoshop has stopped this now
Topic Change.  The name "Justin Bieber" has been another word for opprobrium and distaste for many.  In fact, I first became aware of him when my son expressed his extreme dislike for him.  I'm not still sure that I've ever heard his music, although I do somehow know, without wishing to, that he likes Cheryl Cole and has had his hair cut.

I was thinking, it's not so very different from when Donny Osmond was around.  Same target demographic, same artless child/man mercilessly exploited by all and sundry, who will probably end up in rehab someday (although I hope not).  All that's really changed these days is that the Internet allows people to vent their feelings for or against these figures.

I thought the Internet was going to change music and make it somehow more democratic? (cue hollow laughter turning into maniacal . . . - that's enough now - Ed)

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Secret CD's, gigs

So, another fortnight, another batch of gigs.  First up was the Secret CD's night.  When it was held in the Phoenix Bar on Broughton Street, it often had so many people attending, that they couldn't all physically get in.  Not too surprising, given the small capacity of that place, and the fact there were usually four bands on the bill.  I suggested to ol' Hairy Legs (aka James Igoe) on a few occasions that he move to a larger venue, given there was clearly a demand for his well-run night.

Thankfully, that has now happened, and the Speakeasy in the Voodoo Rooms is an excellent choice.  First on the bill was Hannah Werdmuller, someone I had never heard before.  I would say she was competent without being startling, ploughing a furrow that (to me) others had ploughed before.  The audience seemed to like it though.

Next was the Dull Fud's, who impressed me with their peformance, their energy, and their presence onstage.  Nothing remotely dull there.  It was very enjoyable, but George and I wondered if the live experience could make the transition to CD.  Again though, the crowd were thoroughly entertained.

Iona Marshall was next, I think promoting a new CD.  I've heard Iona over the years, and it's never been quite my bag, something about the music doesn't engage or interest me.  I seemed to be in the minority in the room on that though, so I held my tongue.

Lipsync For A Lullaby closed the evening, and their music does interest me.  The band started life with a conventional line-up (bass, guitar drums kinda thing), but have now moved to a string quartet kind of arrangement, with Atzi singing and playing cello.  It's certainly original, and at times, very dramatic.  It's more in the way of following the classical tradition than the "stick strings on an existing pop song" approach.  As a result, there aren't many discernible choruses, or tunes you can hum, but it's pretty compelling nevertheless.

On Tue night, The Storm played at OOTB, the first time I'd even been to their new venue of the Montague Bar.  As it's horse shoe-shaped, it doesn't immediately suggest itself as a natural place for live music, as about half the bar can't see the stage, although they can still hear the music.  Somehow though, that didn't seem to matter.  We played OK, although as I reflected later, often in a noisy bar, the finer nuances of a performance can be lost, and you end up just battering the percussion like a demented ape.  Ol' Hairy Legs was the featured artist, and very enjoyable it was too, good to hear the man play his own material for once.

And then, on Wednesday, it was Calum Carlyle hosting another music night, but this time his "Edinburgh Unplugged" at the Royal Oak.  Good to hear Townhouse and Graeme Mearns acoustically, and also the two acts I'd not heard before, The Wild Myrtles and Eilidh Steel and Mark Neal.  And, for £2, it's rather good value.  Plus, the beer isn' too expensive ;)

Whew, now I'm knackered, and just want to stay in for a night or two.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Norm-ing, Storm-ing, Performing

I've recently unleashed the Lindsay and the Storm website onto an unsuspecting world.  What the great unwashed may make of it is hard to say; I found a useful quote whilst studying Human-Computer interactions at University, which went something like:

It's almost impossible to predict how a first-time user will behave.

It's very true.  Recently, I went to use Google Analytics, after not bothering my arse with it for a couple of years, so naturally the site had changed in that time.  I spent quite a long while looking at the screen and clicking on stuff, wondering how to access the blasted things.  Finally I realised there was a large blue button marked "Access Analytics", which seems so obvious now, but the first time round, for some reason, I didn't notice it.

So, if anyone wishes to say what their first (or subsequent, for that matter), impression of the above site are, then be my guest, and thanks! 

I almost rang the Norm up the other day for a chat about music and what-not.  I didn't, but then I mentioned my good intention to him, at Tommy's stag do.  He looked rather startled by the notion.  "Do people ring each other for chats anymore?"  I wondered, feeling suddenly very, very old.

In other news, The Storm played with Miyagi at the Greenmantle pub on Nicolson Street on Friday.  It was good to play live again, but we were plagued by feedback problems, and discovered afterwards that all of Peter's violin playing had been completely inaudible.  Miyagi were good, at their best when slightly quirky and off-kilter, I thought.  I wasn't so keen myself on the more country-tinged numbers that seem to have crept in to their set.  Still, it all beats watching the telly of a Friday night.