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Paul Weller – Hammersmith Apollo London

FL_paulWeller_500pxYou couldn’t really set it up any better: Paul Weller, a sell-out home town gig on a Saturday night, last show of the tour and Ronnie Wood on stage with him. That should have been the platform for a special gig but it just…wasn’t.

Your writer left disappointed so I’ll get the whining over to start with. Far too much mediocre paint-by-numbers rock, an overload of newer material, very little rapport with the audience and only playing for an hour and 40 minutes.

Do I feel better having got that out? No I don’t.

Continue reading

2010 Mercury Music Awards

British music does not, it must be said, have an Oscars. The Brits are, somewhat unashamedly, about a combination of one part critical acceptability to three parts unit-shifting ability. The NME Awards are, well, the NME awards. They reflect who students who are swapping STIs to at the time. The Ivor Novello is just too old, smug and irrelevant. The only award which can legitimately claim to matter is the Mercury Music Award, whose 19th installment takes place tonight in London. Continue reading

The Gigs of Your Life

In a new feature, ELM writers look back at some of the shows which changed their lives. Kicking us off, Tom Joad shares with us some of his favourite gigs down the years…

Look, everybody does this. Sitting in front of a VDU, bored, distracted, worried about their mortgage, headache, hangover, partner, car, basic professional prevarication. Then a lightbulb appears: so here are reminiscences about three gigs, from the 70s, 80s and the noughties, which meant something to me or were particularly memorable.

The song remains the same – Paul Weller’s new album

Paul Weller returns this week with Wake Up the Nation, an album which, staggeringly, turns out only to be the tenth offering of his near-two decade solo career.

Weller has been in and out of favour with the cognoscenti for so long that it became impossible to determine accurately where he was positioned at any given time – erstwhile guru of elder statesman rock cool or orange-tanned dadrocker with a feathercut best suited to a post-menopausal fiftysomething woman. In the end, the British public decided following this was a bit too much hassle; they liked his music and liked him, so afforded him national treasure status (albeit a slightly narky national treasure.) Continue reading

What’s the point of the NME Awards these days?

10,000 Maniacs had a song back in the day called ‘Planned Obsolescence’. One wonders if it’s time to dust down that concept and usher it towards the NME Awards after this years awards. As Muse and Kasabian swept the boards, much as they had at the Brits, it’s tough to offer up much argument for the venerable old mag’s awards being anything other than just another excuse for a party. Continue reading

News Nuggets – Gristle and Arseholes

What have the great and good of the music world been up to this week? Have the Sex Pistols said ‘fuck’ on a TV show and caused national outrage? Has Mick Jagger been accused of a frankly disconcerting fusion of sex and dinner with a glucose-based chocolate bar and Marianne Faithfull? Has someone called Matt Bianco ‘a bunch of wankers’ on kids TV?

No. Sadly, nothing so epoch-shattering to report. But still, we’ve space to fill and that, so here goes…. Continue reading

Great Moody Bastards in Rock

People, as Depeche Mode once so sagely pointed out, are people. And some people are nice, and some people are nasty. The Beatles, unarguably the most influential pop band of all time, set the tone by being led by the relatively fluffy bunny who was Paul McCartney and the complete bastard who was John Lennon. Lennon’s music, so often beautiful and inspirational, seemed completely at odds with the man who made it. And, much as ladies love a bad boy, rock fans are intrigued by the music made by people for whom the epithet ‘difficult’ seemed ready-made. Here we look at a motley crew of artists who were not only tortured, but probably deserved to be.

Van Morrison – Van’s blend of Celtic soul, jazz and groove has the power to inspire and beguile. Which is odd, as he is a gruff little tool with an unreconstructed sense of self-worth and a contempt for, well, anyone who isn’t him, really. Almost poetically rude, it still can’t deflect from a body of work the equal of any of his contemporaries.

Warren Zevon – An alcoholic drug-addict with a taste for group sex with hookers, the term hellrasier doesn’t do the man justice. His various ex-wives tell tales of a charming man who would kiss them as he left for a show, then return with ladies on his arm, coke up his nose and no care as to how they felt about it. Top selfishness and yet album after album of twisted beauty.

Johnny Ramone – Right-wing bigot who stole Joey Ramone’s girlfriend and refused to apologise for it even though they remained in the same band for another 14 years. When asked if he felt like reconciling with Joey when he heard that the singer had terminal cancer he replied ‘No. Why would I want to do that? That would be for me rather than him.’ Famously wrong-footed the audience at the Ramones 2002 induction to the Rockn’Roll Hall of Fame by praising President Bush. But he was still a Ramone, dammit, and that’s good enough for me.

Ian Brown – Never knowingly smiled. Thinks he is acting as a mysterious shaman, instead resembles a gurning monkey attempting to read Próust. Still responsible for the best opening and closing lines on any album, ever.

Roger Waters – Christ, where do you begin with Waters? An absolute ball of loathing wrapped in a sweater. Hates his band, his band mates, war, famine, teachers, money, politics and Bono (so he’s not all bad, then.) Pre-Wenger, one could suggest his love of Arsenal was linked to this, but no excuses these days. Lives in New York and rides the subway sneering at commuters, probably. Some utterly knock-out music in his back catalogue, however.

Paul Weller – Possibly the man least likely to cover ‘Shiny Happy People’. Reeks of abrasiveness and so difficult he broke up the Jam at the peak of their success because he was bored. Respect. Refused to play in a supergroup covers band with Noel Gallagher because the Oasis man wanted to do a Bowie cover.

Barney Sumner – The New Order frontman is, even by Mancunian standards, a miserable bastard. Once did a photo-shoot for a magazine where they had agreed he would have veto over any pictures he didn’t like. Of the 220 they sent him, he red-penned 219, saying they were ‘ a bit Wet Wet Wet.’ Announced in the late 90’s he was taking Prozac. This did not come as a shock.

Peter Buck – Although he’s calmed down a bit in the last few years, the R.E.M. axesmith was a top rock curmudgeon in his day. Famously hating videos, he simply stood in them, body language reminiscent of a reluctant teenager on a family holiday. Was arrested in 2002 for running amok on a plane flying into Heathrow. He claimed the combination of taking a sleeping pill and drinking “small amounts” of wine had caused a reaction known as “non-insane automatism”, and he had not intended to commit an offence. (He was found not guilty.) In the 80’s was censured by his band-mates for conducting an interview hammered, announcing ‘I hate Americans, we are a nation of used car salesman’ and calling for someone to shoot then-President Reagan.

Rivers Cuomo – The Weezer frontman put the band on hold for five years after the success of their huge selling eponymous debut to go to college and complete his humanities degree. Later said that even his Mother was saying ‘honey, this is really the time you should be concentrating on your rock band.’

Pete Townshend – Always intrigued me that a man who could write something as beautiful as ‘Let My Love Open the Door’ could, in any interview, book or anecdote, come across as such a cunt. Never seems to be happy with anything. Doesn’t appear to enjoy anything. Despite being in The Who! Mental.

Well, that’s enough tough-lovers to be dealing with for one day. One thing all the above have in common is they have a songwriting ability most of us can only dream of. So, should the artist be tortured? Maybe!