Monday, 12 December 2011
Whilst the gig may not have been entirely enjoyable, we did get to watch a video by Genki Sudo's World Order for their song called "Machine Civilization". In between each band "The Fleece" had a large screen advertising gigs and at the same time they were playing this video on a loop. We enjoyed it visually as the soundtrack wasn't coming through at the time. As I can't describe it effectively in words, I have included a link to the video for your fun/enjoyment/puzzlement/confusion (delete where applicable).
In the evening my lovely lady and I visited "The Fleece", which is a small rock venue that has standing room for around 200 people. We went to see Wilko Johnson, original guitarist and founding member of Canvey Island's pub rock legends Dr Feelgood. Whilst Wilko left Feelgood in 1977 and has enjoyed a successful solo career and a brief stint in Ian Dury and The Blockheads in the late 70's/early 80's he still possesses an energy to perform at age 64 like a man of far younger years.
Sadly the evening was not as enjoyable as we had hoped for. After arriving at the advertised start time of 7pm, nothing happened until 8.25pm when the first of two support acts appeared. Whilst we were frustrated at having to stand around for so long, the first band "The Soulvents" from Bristol were pretty good and played an enjoyable 35 minute set to a small, but appreciative crowd. After a short equipment change we were disappointed to see a second support act, which came in the form of a band called Petrol from Serbia. They were ok but were not my lovely lady's cup of tea as they were too noisy. They reminded me of a cross between Feeder and Muse, but sadly not as good as either of these bands. At this point we were feeling very tired after their 45 minute set and a bit fed up from being bumped into and pushed about by various inebrated locals stumbling to the bar.
Eventually at 9.30pm Wilko and fellow bandmates Dylan Howe (drums) and Norman Watt-Roy (bassist with The Blockheads) came on stage to an enthusiastic welcome. It was worth the wait as Wilko and the guys rattled through a host of songs from his own solo work plus some of the Dr Feelgood classics he wrote from the "Down By The Jetty" album such as "Roxette", "The More I Give", & "She Does It Right". Another handful of later Feelgood songs "Back In The Night" , "Don't Let Your Daddy Know" and "Sneakin' Suspicion" were also included in a high tempo and entertaining set. We left before the end at around 11pm as we were both very tired and disappointed that the behaviour of some inconsiderate people in the crowd had ruined a perfectly good gig for us. I have included a video of a track called "Barbed Wire Blues" by Wilko for your enjoyment. The sound quality is admitedly poor as it was recorded on my mobile phone, but hopefully it catches some of the energy of his performance.
Whilst we are also currently encountering stormy weather here in the West Country, my lovely lady and I both thought it was quite amusing that there was a pile of snow shovels available to buy outside the store. I expect that they will have sold out of these in Scotland following the snow, winds and rain that have hammered the country over the last week. So far the snow has yet to make a repeat visit here from last year when the West Country had a fair covering. In all fairness though it was nowhere near what my parents had in West Oxfordshire last Christmas. It will be interesting to see which weather patterns develop in the build up to Christmas, but right now I will batten down the hatches and stay warm indoors.
Saturday, 10 December 2011
For me this piece of music will always be synonymous with the episode from "The Prisoner" called "Hammer Into Anvil". There is a scene in which Patrick McGoohan's character Number 6 listens to the opening 20 seconds of six identical records and writes something down before leaving the village shop music listening booth. He uses this unusual behaviour as one of many ploys to bring down the village leader Number 2 played by Patrick Cargill. Number 6 eventually manages to drive Number 2 to an emotional and mental collapse by pretending to be an agent sent by the village authorities to check on Number 2. However, unlike Number 6's lack of satisfaction with the Bizet records, I, on the other hand thought the rendition I heard today was rather good.
Friday, 9 December 2011
My only prior experience of Mike Oldfield's music was through his chart single hits "Portsmouth", "Moonlight Shadow" and "In Dulci Jubilo". He has always been a bit of a mysterious character and in watching a recent interview with him I realised that he is a shy man who prefers to let his music do his talking. The phenomenal success of the album on its original release and the pressures of his new found fame made him want to withdraw from public life. He remains popular today and especially in Europe with his unique brand of progressive world music.
The album itself consists of two parts, which mirrors many progressive rock albums of that era (including one of my favourites "A Passion Play" by Jethro Tull). What makes it incredible is that Oldfield played most of the instruments on it and the opening theme has been used in many tv shows/films but perhaps most infamously on the horror film "The Exorcist". I can see why people rave on about it even if it also includes a bizarre movement called "piltdown man" featuring a drunk Oldfield shouting incoherently over the music. Apparently this track had the vocals added after Oldfield had an argument about lack of vocals on the album with his record label boss, Richard Branson of Virgin records. It has made me want to check out two of the albums that he released later the same decade namely "Hergest Ridge" and "Ommadawn".
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
I suppose it was the first time since growing up in the village of Eynsham, of my University days in Caerleon that I have seen the night sky so clearly. I can't take any credit for the picture though as my camera couldn't take the sky in such detail! Needless to say though on a clear, but cold night we could see the moon and the stars without any street lighting getting in the way. The constellation of Orion (pictured left) and the Plough were both very clear along with the vapour trails of various commercial aeroplanes flying overhead. The streets were quiet and not even the usual hum of the police helicopter was around to ruin the peace of the scene.
It added to the happy atmosphere in the office on what was a fun day. It seems weird to think that Christmas will be upon us in two and half weeks, but it will be nice to spend time with friends and family during this time.
Monday, 5 December 2011
Following Tuesday's 2-0 win over Premiership strugglers Blackburn Rovers, genuine optimism of a return trip to Wembley has been evident this week and also for a home league win today. That optimism was rewarded with a 1-0 win over Birmingham City at Cardiff City Stadium courtesy of Kenny Miller's (pictured right with team mate Lee Naylor) 68th minute strike. Bearing in mind Birmingham won the Carling Cup and were relegated from the Premiership last season, this is further evidence of how far we have come as a club in the last 25 years. This is an exciting era for the club and is a far cry from the "Durban's disasters" of the mid 80's, the boom and bust of the Rick Wright era in the early to mid 90's and the dreadful mid to late 90's under Samesh Kumar. Whilst our Malaysian investors have brought stability to the business and off the field activities, Malky Mackay has built a team that is proving that you don't have to have big names to be a successful team. Norwich and Swansea were both promoted last season with players that many people hadn't heard of, but the key strengths of both teams were that they were fit, hard working and had a very strong team ethic. These characteristics are evident in this Cardiff City team and hopefully it will be our turn to celebrate in May.
Sunday, 4 December 2011
Saturday, 3 December 2011
Following my haircut I realised that I now have rather a lot of gray hairs. In all fairness though that doesn't have to be a bad thing as I take comfort from Proverbs 16:31 as it says, "Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. " After trying some Moroccan Lamb meatballs for lunch we discovered this rather interesting street performer. I didn't catch his name but in essence he plays the fiddle whilst balancing on a makeshift tightrope. We enjoyed it visually and musically, but hey enough of my yakking, enjoy!
Thursday, 1 December 2011
My lovely lady and I enjoyed a great performance by the band at St Georges Hall in Bristol last night. Steeleye have now reverted to being a six piece for the first time since the 1980's. The change was partly due to the departure of the excellent Ken Nicol on guitar last year so the band now has two guitarists in Peter Zorn and Julian Littman. Peter is a multi instrumentalist as well and aside from acoustic guitar he also plays flute, saxophone, oboe, mandolin and bass guitar, whilst Julian can play piano and electric guitar. Vocally the band have extra depth as a six piece and we were treated to the whole of the 1974 album "Now We Are Six" in the first half. The second half of the show consisted of tracks from the "Winter" and "Cogs, Wheels & Lovers" albums plus classic tracks "Cold, Haily Windy Night", "Who told the butcher?", "Gaudete" and inevitably "All Around My Hat" to close the show. Peter and Julian complement the sound of existing members Maddy Prior (Vocals), Peter Knight (Violin), Rick Kemp (Bass Guitar) and Liam Genockey (Drums) and whilst Ken Nicol was technically a better guitarist than Julian Littman, he is still an excellent part of the current incarnation of Steeleye Span. Hopefully they will be back again next year, but until then I am counting down the days to my lovely lady and I's next gig, Wilko Johnson at The Fleece also in Bristol.