Glastonbury 2014: The Grand Finale (and a potential gig),

Evening everyone. Well, that’s Glastonbury over for another year. I’m actually missing the constant coverage already – even if BBC did have a tendency to show the same bands. I think I came across Elbow’s set three times actually, at least. I do love ‘One Day Like This’ dearly but that was just too much. On another note – how berserk was the size of the crowd for Dolly Parton?! I’d bet good money that the majority of that crowd knew about four songs, if even. Is that cynical of me?

Those random points aside, yesterday really did belong to Kasabian’s Glastonbury closer. I had high hopes for their performance and the boys from Leicester definitely did not disappoint. They were born to be on that stage – so much so that I was shocked to discover that was their first Glastonbury Pyramid Stage headline performance. They swaggered their way through a set studded with anthems, one that definitely veered towards greatest hit set as opposed to showcasing 48:13. In fact, only four songs performed were from their latest album. As I’ve said before I don’t consider it their best record so I wasn’t too disheartened at that. The highlight for me was ‘Fast Fuse’, it was a song from West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum that I had previously overlooked, but last night it blew my mind. The cherry on the cake being Noel Fielding making an appearance for ‘Vlad The Impaler’ as I had been hoping for that. Honestly, they were the highlight of the whole festival for me – best was saved until last most definitely!

The show was that good that I said to my brother this morning that I wish an opportunity to see them again in Belfast would arise soon. I saw them in 2007 as part of that year’s Tennents Vital festival. Regrettably though I wasn’t actually a fan then – I was there to see The Killers (who were headlining). Even the idea of Kasabian being second on the bill to The Killers strikes me as crazy now. Both bands have gone on to such dizzying heights that it’ll simply never happen again. So with that in mind, imagine my surprise when I came home two hours ago to discover, lo and behold, they’ve announced a Belfast date today! They play Odyssey Arena on December 9th and tickets go on sale this Friday. Needless to say, I’ll be trying to get a ticket for that!

I’ve got some catchup posts I want to make before then though, so you’ll definitely be hearing from me well before Friday!

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Glastonbury Day 3 Chatter: Kasabian, Metallica etc

Afternoon all and we’ve obviously come to the last day of Glastonbury 2014. It’s only been on TV for three days, but I’ll miss the constant schedule checks really come tomorrow. They certainly make boring Sundays much more interesting. I just hope that more performances find their way onto Youtube soon – I need to see Jagwar Ma, M.I.A and the complete Foster The People show yet.

Anyway, like most of you I was watching Metallica last night. I thought they were very good. In fact, it’s even given me an incentive to try Ride The Lightning  as I found myself particularly enjoying ‘For Whom The Bell Tolls’. I was really pleased to see that they got a a very good reception from the crowd. Booking Metallica is one of the more controversial Glastonbury moments but ultimately I think it was a good decision. It’s good for the band as it exposes them to an audience who in ordinary circumstances may not have considered listening to them. I’d consider myself in that bracket really. Not only that, but they’re a legendary band with over thirty years in the industry behind them. They’ve got a secured place in the pantheon of music. They’re much more worthy of headlining a festival as large as Glastonbury, than Mumford & Sons, that’s for sure.

Onto today’s schedule and I’m particularly excited to see Disclosure who headline the West Holts stage. I loved Settle last year and I’ve never saw any live performance footage of them before actually. Aside from Kasabian on the Pyramid Stage, there’s no other artist there I’m really looking forward to watching. I’m not a fan really of any of the other artists on today’s Pyramid Stage bill. I enjoy Massive Attack’s first two albums a lot so I’m a bit more interested in their headline performance of the Other Stage, especially if a good portion of the set-list constitutes material from Blue Lines and Protection.

I won’t be watching it live though because for me today is all about Kasabian. I fully expect them to be simply electrifying. Their music and image is just tailor made for a performance this size. It’ll be nothing less than sheer euphoria. Whilst 48:13 isn’t their best album, I just can’t wait to hear ‘Eez-Eh’ live – it should be banging. I’m expecting them to pull out the best overall performance of the entire festival. Frankly, I think it’ll take something extreme – like the band not showing up – for them to not do so.  See you later!

Glastonbury Day 2 Chatter: Metallica, Arcade Fire etc

Evening from a lovely day in Belfast – Glastonbury is now in full swing and I’m actually rather tired from staying up last night to watch the TV broadcast of Arcade Fire’s set. That’s sufficient enough proof that I don’t have the stamina for outdoor festivals. Anyway, I’ll do it all over again tonight, some things just need to be done!

Of course the best place to start with today’s Glastonbury chatter is with last night’s headliners: Arcade Fire. I thought their show was absolutely fantastic. Totally bonkers as expected and so consistently good. All credit to Arcade Fire, every song felt like it could have served as an encore, such was the unrelenting spectacle of it all. I was thrilled that they performed the majority of Reflektor. The only two songs from the album that I wished were also performed were ‘You Never Know’ and ‘Supersymmetry’. Apart from that they did every other song I wanted to hear. I was genuinely surprised though that they didn’t throw in one of their Clash covers. It seemed like a dead cert given it’s an English festival and Joe Strummer’s campfires were the stuff of Glastonbury legend – and they still continue in his honor thanks to Strummerville. The exclusion hardly ruined their set though. They actually exceeded my expectations, simply an excellent performance.

Onto today, and for the larger stages today is probably the weakest day of the three for me. The artist whose performance I’m most eager to see today is Jagwar Ma. They released the debut album of 2013 for me and even though they played Glastonbury last year I’ve never seen any footage of the set. Moving onto the smaller stages and I’m a tad annoyed that Charlie XCX, dan le sac vs. Scroobius Pip, and 2manyDJS with James Murphy aren’t being recorded at all. There’s actually a lot of electronic based artists on those smaller stages throughout the whole festival that I’d love to have streamed. I do find that disappointing.

Mind you, by far the most intriguing act for the whole festival for me is Metallica, who make their Glastonbury debut. I actually know little of their music (though I like a few songs) yet as far as left of field Pyramid Stage headliners go I’m hard-pressed to think of a more anomalous headline act. That alone makes this set something I simply have to see. Heavy metal isn’t a genre I listen to usually but it’s always good to take a step out of your musical comfort zone. I might even become enticed to seek out more of their music following it, stranger things have happened! Whatever happens, you’ll be hearing from me tomorrow so I’ll see you then!

Glastonbury 2014: Arcade Fire, Blondie + What’s To Come

Afternoon all – things are set to get very busy on the blog over the next three days because Glastonbury 2014 is now officially underway. I’m not there (obviously) but thank goodness for BBC coverage, Youtube and iPlayer, and I’ll have a better view than most actually attending the festival to boot. That’s what being 4ft 8 does to you. You can’t deny the internet can be a life-saver at times though!

Anyway, due to errands I haven’t caught any of the performances yet except for a snippet of Blondie who performed earlier. They sounded great which I was thrilled to see as Ghost Of Download I found to be very disappointing. Hopefully the live performances of the new material will improve my opinions of it somewhat. There’s a lot of artists I’m looking forward to seeing today actually: Foster The People, Chrvches and M.I.A being another few, and tomorrow and Sunday has plenty also. Honestly, me and my brother have been paying such close attention to the stream and who’s next etc it’s almost like being there in that regard.

Above all though the main act I’m looking forward to is Arcade Fire, who headline the pyramid festival for the first time. I’ve only gotten into their music within the last few months and this will really be the first time I’ve watched a complete live performance of theirs. Reflektor has become a belated addition to my best albums of 2013 list and I can’t wait to see how it sounds live (I’m expecting it to be great). Left of field is what I’m expecting from them really so I hope they deliver on that front. Of course I would adore it for David Bowie to fulfill his cameo role on ‘Reflektor’ live but that will almost certainly not happen. Much more likely to happen though is my wish they’ll throw in one of their Clash cover versions that they often do. ‘I’m So Bored With The USA’ featured a fair amount on their set-list at the end of 2013. I’d even really love to see their version of ‘The Guns Of Brixton’, though that appears to have been covered more in the mid-2000s. It’s such a bizarre version that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I really like it. It’s certainly unique. Given that it’s an English festival, I think they probably will perform a Clash cover. It’s certainly the right location for such a tribute.

I’ll be up for the live coverage on BBC1 this evening. I’ll be doing that for both Metallica tomorrow and Kasabian on Sunday too – it’s the first time I’ve wanted to see all three headline acts actually. I’m also looking forward to seeing what new bands I discover thanks to the festival too. In any case, you’ll be hearing a lot from me these next few days!

As a footnote – I just want to say that my blog has saw a real surge in views recently – so thank you so much to everyone who takes the time to read what I’ve got to say! I really appreciate it!

Mick Jones Turns 59

As today marks his 59th birthday, it would be careless of me not to post something in relation to Mick Jones. An extremely gifted musician who in so many ways was the soul of The Clash. No one member of  The Clash carried the group exclusively, but without Mick Jones the group were considerably poorer, if not outright disfunctional – just look at the regrettable Cut The Crap album.  His brilliant studio prowess enabled Joe Strummer’s visionary lyrics to manifest into timeless songs. Of course, Mick was no slouch as a songwriter either. He wrote classics such as ‘Stay Free’, ‘Train In Vain’ and ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’. Perhaps greatest of all though is the classic punk single ‘Complete Control’. It’s a rare Clash song in that it’s written by Jones, yet sang by Strummer. Mick wrote it as a ferocious response to CBS releasing ‘Remote Control’ as a single without the band’s prior consent. It’s an impassioned and scathing commentary against  artistic oppression and stands up as one of the greatest punk singles of all time – it’s certainly my favourite punk song from The Clash. The song fires on all cylinders and Joe Strummer was expressing the sentiments of thousands, if not millions, when he bellows “you’re my guitar hero!”, directed at Mick, during the guitar solo. He’s much more than The Clash’s guitarist and tune-smith though – I’ve not even touched upon the innovative music Mick made following The Clash with projects such as Big Audio Dynamite for brevity’s sake. In all of his various projects though his vision and strong desire to always push himself creatively is always prevalent. And, may there be many more years of it to come – happy birthday Mick!

Unexpected fandoms

Across my record collection, folk rock is definitely one of the genres least represented. The only records I have that could be described as folk are Simon & Garfunkel’s five studio albums (along with their Greatest Hits set and two live albums). It’s not a genre that I listen to much at all aside from them. That being said, after learning that Joni Mitchell was known for fusing folk with elements of light jazz on some of her records I was inspired to investigate her back catalog. I’m always intrigued by artists who can blur musical genres together and fusing jazz with folk just sounded… interesting, to say the least.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing over the past few weeks. I’m finding her music so beautiful. I was listening to Blue yesterday for the first time (on what marked 43 years to the day since the album’s original release). It was a gorgeous album and I really loved the deeply intimate and confessional nature of it. It sounds deceptively simple but it’s a more layered album than most. No mean feat. It’s such an evocative record that it’s easy to see why it has garnered the praise it has over the years. Yet perhaps surprisingly, it’s not even my favorite Joni album that I’ve heard. So far that title goes to Court & Spark. The quirky and slightly more jazzy direction of the album I find irresistible. It also contains my favorite Joni Mitchell song that I’ve heard until now, which is ‘Free Man In Paris’. I utterly love the lyrics, written about her former label boss David Geffen. She’s such a rich and layered artist and I really can’t wait to see what her other records offer. So far, I’ve heard Court & Spark, Songs To A Seagull, Blue and a greatest hits compilation. All of which I’ve really liked – if I keep enjoying her output as much as I have so far then I’m definitely going to have to pick up the 2012 box-set The Studio Albums 1968-1979

The Clash – Broadway

This smouldering ballad – buried deep in the heart of Sandinista – is amongst the finest recordings in The Clash canon. In ‘Broadway’, Joe Strummer’s lyrics depicting a tramp living on the streets of New York recounting his life to a passerby are combined with a beautiful jazz melody. Not very many punk bands could write a song as powerful as this. Then again, The Clash weren’t exactly your typical punk band either. It also boasts one of the finest vocal performances by Strummer. He sounds appropriately wearied and forlorn yet his voice is more melodic than it usually is. It’s a song of such beauty that it is staggering to think it came just four years after the release of the classic ‘White Riot’. It’s a level of musical evolution seldom seen in the music industry. The song is so majestic that even the needless tacking on of a child’s partial cover version of ‘Guns of Brixton’ does little to detract from it. That truly is saying something.