Caroline and I had a great night out last Thursday.
First night of the latest tour by Status Quo in a standing venue in the wilds of Blackpool (and it was wild thanks to the combined effects of wind, rain and hailstones as we made our way from Blackpool North railway station to the guest house we were staying in for the night).
It was a great show with all the hits and a bit more. This was the fifth time that I’ve seen Status Quo, but it was the first time for Caroline and she was more than happy when they opened the show by playing her song – Caroline!
I can honestly say that it’s the first time that I’ve been made to bounce up and down in a venue as the show was taking place in the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
The Empress Ballroom has a sprung wooden floor and boy did the floor move when everyone started to react to the songs being played onstage.
There will be more about the gig and Blackpool over the next week or so, but there are a couple of things that I didn’t understand about the audience.
Yes, I took a few pics on a digital compact camera, but many were consistently raising their phones to take shots throughout the show or to take video clips.
Now I could understand this in a gig with an audience of teenagers, but most (but not all) of the perpetrators were blokes around the 50 year old mark.
One person did however take the biscuit.
A bright young thing to my left decided to take shots on her phone throughout the show and also tweeted or received messages every couple of minutes or so.
Did I hope that she would drop her glass of whatever and black over the phone? Maybe…
Did I hope that she would drop the phone and it would somehow be kicked into oblivion when it fell, never to be used again?
You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment…
Took time out to read The Observer newspaper on Sunday and spotted a great t-shirt advertisement.
“I may be old, but at least I got to see all the good bands”
Great sentiment and one that I can relate to given the music review work that I did a few years ago.
Starters for ten include Thin Lizzy, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Madness, The Housemartins, The Chieftains, Dire Straits (in a hall, not an arena), REM, Nirvana (in the legendary Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle) and The Levellers…
Gone are the days of seeing over 160 bands in a year though!
After writing that little piece about music choices in 2014 a few days ago, it’s been interesting to hear a lot of music since then which sounds fresh, interesting and had what John Peel used to call the ‘F*** Me!’ Factor (as in ‘F*** Me! What’s that?‘.
The small, but significant problem is that it’s been old stuff, or a new take on an old song. Apart from Pharrell William’s Happy (which sounds good on the radio or as the soundtrack for the Fiat 500 commercials) there’s nothing that’s caught my ear recently.
I’ve not done any downloads from iTunes over the last three years and the last couple of CD’s I bought were compilations by Roxy Music and Al Stewart from a shop in Wimbourne, Dorset.
I listen to the radio in the car and tend to watch the BBC festival coverage of Glastonbury, T In The Park and Reading/Leeds, but I still draw a blank in finding new music that’s interesting or which doesn’t go back over old ground.
I saw an Ed Sheeran acoustic performance from Glastonbury on a 2014 festival round up a couple of days ago and then just happened to catch a BBC compilation about singer/songwriters on Yesterday – which featured James Taylor and Neil Young singing some of their songs from over forty years ago that still sounded fresh to these ears.
That festival round-up also featured Metallica and one Dolly Parton along with Arcade Fire, Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. The first two worked for me, the last three didn’t. Other than Metallica and Dolly, only Imagine Dragons‘ performance of an old Proclaimers song impressed, proving once more that some songs can work when given a totally different treatment by newer artists.
Unlike a version of XTC’s Making Plans For Nigel that I recently heard in a pub. I like the XTC original, but this version was the same song done as a ballad, and Caroline agreed with me that it just didn’t work. Some interpretations of older songs work – actor Jack Black’s take on Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get It On for example or The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s rendition of Delilah or The Toy Dolls punk take on Nellie The Elephant. Oh, and I nearly forgot about The Mission’s versions of Crazy Horses and Like A Hurricane…
Will 2015 bring any new music that sparkles, fizzes and sets the music scene alight once more?
I first started writing about music in the mid-1980’s when I did live reviews for The Northern Echo. Quite a few bands were new, some were on their way up, some were established and some were on their way down. Then there was a lull for a few years until Britpop happened.
When Britpop exploded, it was with a vengeance not seen since the days of punk. Some bands were good, others horrendous, but there were a load of memorable songs.
I happened to be a student at the time so Saturday nights were spent watching bands at Manor Quay in Sunderland or listening to the tracks being played by a couple of guys who, like myself, wrote for the independent student newspaper Universal Post. Some bands and songs were good, some were bad, but various songs played on those nights still shine on.
Will there be a new phase in 2015? That depends upon whether any new talent emerges that can take the UK music industry by the scruff of the neck and give it a damned good shaking up…
I might even update the music on my iPod if that happens and start packing it again whilst on my travels!
Most enjoyable films
Most enjoyable piece of music
Happy by Pharrell Williams – the only song that caught my attention in 2014. Yes, the music scene has changed somewhat since my days of seeing more than 160 bands in a year!
Most enjoyable television programmes (as seen here in the UK – not sure whether they’re available elsewhere!)
Great Continental Railway Journeys – is Michael Portillo stepping into Palin’s (Michael, not Sarah!) shoes as our leading travel broadcaster?
Speed with Guy Martin – still crashing (at 90 miles an hour with just a scratch on his crash helmet in the last one of the latest series), but getting various records along the way.
Marshall amplifier documentary on BBC4 – can’t remember the exact title, but it was the story of the UK’s iconic rock amp brand
My Autobiography by Guy Martin
The Moon’s A Balloon by David Niven
The People’s Songs: The Story Of Modern Britain In 50 Records by Stuart Maconie
UK Destinations (further afield on the agenda for 2015!)
Suffolk – unexpected pleasure that’s going to get at least one return visit. There will be a piece on here in early 2015.
North Norfolk – the place of many visits now. Relaxing, peaceful and a delight. There will be a piece on here in early 2015 too!
Langdale Valley – two visits in a month. No mobile phone reception and the week in an apartment was nice and quiet – unlike the two campsites visited over the August Bank Holiday weekend. That weekend was a one-off, because I don’t usually head off on a Bank Holiday!
Up the Langdale Valley from above Elterwater Village
The view from Southwold Pier – complete with inland lighthouse…
Take your pick of those on the North Norfolk coast…
Flixton Air Museum, Suffolk – wasn’t in the guide books, a poster was spotted on the notice board at a camp site.
National Media Museum, Bradford – first visited in 2000, plenty of other visits since!
Salt’s Mill, Saltaire – galleries, a good book shop, art shop, home shop, outdoor shop and a busy diner too.
Fodder Bailey’s Torte at Treeby’s Gallery Cafe, Keswick
Bacon, sausage and egg bun, Devil’s Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale – look for the motorbikes and you’ve found the right place!
Lamb Rogan Josh and Chapatis at The International, Bradford – good choice before or after a film at the nearby National Media Museum or a show at The Alhambra (or a gig by The Mission at Rio’s).