Friday 30 May 2008

David Gedge - a top man, clearly

The Wedding Present: David Gedge (L) and Terry de Castro (R) during 'Suck'
I need to be careful that this doesn't turn into a music blog, but I saw The Wedding Present last night... and they were truly great. I arrived early at the comparatively small venue and secured a spot right by the stage and, pint of Summer Lightning in hand, settled in for a good night. I've seen the Weddoes many times before, in all sorts of venues, from Koko in Camden right down to the (now sadly defunct, as a live music venue at least) Penny Theatre in Canterbury, and they've always been good. But last night they were excellent, beyond even my fan-boy expectations.

After the well-received support act (the interesting Dawn Landes, a very sweet and musically diverse singer songwriter from New York) had done her thing, the atmosphere - a heady mix of anticipation and good humour - continued to build. At 9.30 the lights were dimmed, and The Wedding Present took to the stage. Frontman David Gedge, pictured left, the only ever-present member of the band's line-up, was in good form, bantering with the crowd, informing us that his surname came from the area (though he's from Leeds) and that he's probably the most famous Gedge ever - as such, didn't he deserve a statue here, he mused? On the basis of last night's show, few in the crowd would argue with that suggestion.

The Wedding Present: set list from 29th May 2008, signed by David GedgeFor a band that released a new album (El Rey) this very week, they didn't overdose the set with too much new, inherently unfamiliar, material but crossed the span of the band's 20+ year career fairly evenly. The set list, as chosen by bassist Terry de Castro (also pictured left) even contained You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends, which Gedge described as "Eighties indie pop"... he then introduced the next song as "modern indie pop" and, with barely a trace of irony, offered the observation that the two songs sounded much the same.

As the final song, Dare, tailed off into a whine of guitar feedback, guitarist Chris McConville threw his set list into the crowd... which went straight into my hand! I didn't even have to move my arm to catch it - result! And better still, Gedge appeared at the merchandise stall after the show and, as you can see on the right, signed the list for me. Ever the fan, I was embarrassed to find myself informing Mr Gedge that he was a "top man" for doing so...

Tuesday 27 May 2008

"Love Heroin"

It's easy to knock Richard Curtis - he got a bit carried away with Love Actually, and was a little over the top with those last few Vicar of Dibley episodes. Plus, in recent years, he's been a little too preachy for my taste on the subject of Third World debt, and when I say that please bear in mind that I am in broad agreement with just about every point he raises on the subject. But preachy is preachy, however worthy the sermon. Aside from these later quality control issues though, he did give us Blackadder and Four Weddings and a Funeral so, on balance, you have to conclude he's a good guy.

And then, he also gave us Notting Hill. Quite aside from a few implausibilities (not least Hugh Grant's struggling bookstore owner being able to afford the house with the blue door) and the unashamedly tacked-on feelgood ending, this is the film in which Curtis wrote this line for Grant's character, William Thacker...
"It's as if I've taken love heroin, and now I can't ever have it again."
...which, as anyone who has lost or unrequited love will tell you, nails it perfectly.

Withdrawal is hell.

Thursday 22 May 2008

"And my girlfriend will be so, so angry..."

I had a shortlist of possible things to write about in this post. These are they, and why I haven't written about any of them:
  • Unrequited love - what do you do when the woman you love just doesn't feel the same way about you? I won't be writing about this because it's just too depressing for words.
  • Getting old - there comes a time when the child becomes the parent and the parents become the child. I don't like to think about parents getting old because the terminus of that train of thought is, literally, terminal. Again, too depressing for my current frame of mind.
  • Prospects (lack thereof) - when the chance comes to advance in your career, and all you need is some encouragement from your manager for it to happen, how depressing is it when that manager won't give a straight answer when given the opportunity to provide that encouragement, and then calls you a "pushover" in front of a colleague? That's enough splenetic venting on that, so it doesn't need a whole post.
  • Life as a succession of disappointments and failures - what do you do when you realise that, at the wrong end of your thirties, your career is going nowhere (except, maybe, backwards), the twin parental pillars of stability in your life are getting old and frail, you have no house, drive a seven year old car, have no family of your own and are in love with a woman who feels warmth for you but no desire - where do you go from there?
So I won't be writing about any of that, because I want to get to the end of this post without slitting my wrists.

Instead, I'll write about a vaguely stupid song, and about the power of music to transport you immediately back to a period in your life when that song was relevant. I was in Dublin over the weekend and heard "Where's Me Jumper?" by The Sultans of Ping FC in the Old Jameson Distillery souvenir shop and instantly, in my head at least, I was 21 again. Vaguely stupid, maybe, but also brilliant - I urge you to download the MP3 from Turquoise Days. Go on... do it now!

Tuesday 6 May 2008

Musical b(l)og roll

I thought long and hard about what to write for my first post of May. On the shortlist was the terrible news of the cyclone in Burma, but that story is still unravelling and besides, what can I add? The BBC already tells you all you need to know about that. So I thought about writing something to raise awareness of the dangers of trans fats (they're slowly killing us all, so read more about them in this old but excellent Guardian article). And since it was my Mum's birthday yesterday, I thought about writing a piece on how great mums are. But, though true, how twee would that be?

Then, having spent most of today avoiding work by catching up on a few of my favourite music blogs, it suddenly occurred to me that I could share them with you... so here they are.
Just about all of these blogs include copyright disclaimers to the effect that any tracks posted thereon are for trial purposes, and that if you like what you hear you should head straight out and buy the record. They also tend to offer to take any mp3s down should the band (or, more likely, record label) be offended by their redistribution. So what I'm saying is, try to be legal - though at the same time, how you use these blogs is up to you. And if anyone questions your downloading habits... you ain't seen me, right?