Sunday, 6 March 2016

You know you're getting old, when....

As I am fast approaching my 40th birthday, it has made me think a lot about life.  Becoming a father for the first time has changed my life for the better. Indeed "little man" is intently watching me whilst I type this blog piece. It has made me want to provide the best life possible for him.  I am also aware of trying to make the most of the remaining life that I still have too.

Rock music has been a major passion of mine for most of my life and at the end of last year and the beginning of this year we have seen the passing away of many great musicians.  The deaths of Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Bain and Dale Buffin amongst many others has had more of an impact on me than I thought it would.  Whilst I may not have known any of these people personally, their music has played a part in being the soundtrack to my life so far. Sadly former Budgie guitarist John Thomas passed away earlier this week and I have recently discovered the "Nightflight" album by Budgie which he played on.  Budgie were fortunate to have had a host of great guitarists such as Tony Bourge, John Thomas and Craig Goldy during their existence.  Sadly singer/bassist Burke Shelley's own health problems have prevented the band from continuing, but like all of the above musicians they have left a great legacy with the music that they created.  Peter Knight, formerly of Steeleye Span and now part of the excellent Gigspanner summed it up well when he wrote "the singer may die, but the song will remain".

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A consistently brilliant band...

Ever since I was a young boy, I played the silver ball....er....maybe not...sorry I've been listening to The Who again.  Can't beat a bit of Daltrey, Townshead, Entwistle and Moon.  That's The Who and not a firm of solicitors incidently.

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing British blues rockers Thunder for the 4th time and out of the many bands I have seen over the years they keep getting better.  The first time I saw them was way back in 1990 at the Oxford Apollo on their first headlining tour.  They had just released their classic "Backstreet Symphony" album, which still sounds fresh and vibrant all these years later, whilst enjoying success with a number of Top 40 chart singles.  I then saw them purely by chance a few years later when one of my University flat mates begged me to go with her to see Bon Jovi at the old Cardiff Arms Park in 1995.  Whilst I haven't really liked anything by Bon Jovi since their "Slippery when wet" album I went along to not only make my friend happy, but more importantly because Van Halen were one of their support acts.  We missed the first support act (who I can't remember anyway), but 3rd on the bill was Thunder who delivered another fantastic set.

It was to be another 13 years before I saw them again when they were on a triple bill with Def Leppard and Whitesnake at the Cardiff International Arena in 2008.  Thunder blew both bands away, although I did enjoy hearing "Animal" by Def Leppard and "Still of the night" by Whitesnake. Whitesnake's lead singer David Coverdale's teeth glow in the dark by the way, but I digress.

I jumped at the chance a few months ago to meet up with one of my friends to see them again, even if I did get delayed en route to central Bristol a few weeks ago.  Having missed the first support act King King, I got there in time to see Terrorvision and got to hear the only songs I know by them namely "Oblivion" and "Alice, what's the matter?"  I was always aware of Terrorvision as they always seemed to be on late night music programmes on the TV when I was up writing essays at Uni. Thunder once more did a perfect gig and Danny Bowes voice still sounds as great now as when I heard Thunder back in 1990.  Hopefully it won't be another five years until I seem them play again.

A more optimistic future for the City?

It has been a significant last few weeks regarding Cardiff City's short and long term future.  Over the last couple of months what had begun with the gloom of the club being hit with a transfer embargo (due to breaching F.I.F.A's financial fair play rules last season) has ended with a massive reduction in the clubs debts and the settlement of City's longest known debt issue.  Vincent Tan's decision to write off £78 million of the debt owed to him has not only increased his personal shareholding in the club, but has also vastly improved the clubs balance sheet.  More significantly however has been the full and final settlement of a debt owed to the mysterious Panamanian registered company called Langston. Historically this debt has hung over the club like a millstone since former chairman Sam Hammam's departure from the club in 2006-7.  After a protracted legal battle it proved what most City fans knew all long, the identity of Langston was none other than Sam Hammam himself. With his Life Presidency due to be removed and a ban to be imposed to prevent him visiting Cardiff City Stadium in the future, things are now looking up for the club.  With the team improving and currently sitting in 7th place in the Championship, hopefully an appearance in the play offs would cap off a memorable season for reasons both on and off the pitch.  I had been highly critical of Russell Slade our manager, but he has worked on a much reduced budget and has enabled the team to remain competitive.  He must be congratulated for turning things around after inheriting a shambolic mess following the departures of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer and disgraced former manager Malky Mackay.