Monday, February 27, 2006

Gig and the Spireites

It's been quite a good weekend, had my friend S around to stay and it's been a fun-packed programme. Kicked off on Friday night with a gig at the leadmill, a band called morning runner who have major label backing, but prove rather disappointing. Just sent a mini-review to teletext:

Morning Runner, although clearly outshining some terrible local support acts, fail to deliver. They seem to struggle to define their own sound, displaying no qualities that make them stand out amongst their guitar led indie-pop peers. A dabble into a quiet ballad proves disappointing, and is hard to hear amongst the conversations as people turn to chat, rather than become engrossed in the music. Early single, ‘work’ retains some sparkle and offers a glimmer of hope. Morning Runner, more like coach potato.

Perhaps it will appear on p354 this week, if I'm fortunate.

On Saturday went to Millmoor to see the spireites take on Rotherham United. I've never been to Millmoor before, and it is the worst ground I've ever been to, even worse than Saltergate. It just looked really grotty, half finished, and difficult to access. The pitch was poor, but Chesterfield came away 4-0 victors. A good performance, but hard to judge, as Rotherham were terrible. A really dull first half was ignited with a late Chesterfield goal, which seemed to spur us forward for the second period. We had little chances, but those we had were taken with aplomb, some great finishing. Despite all their problems on and off the pitch, it was rather disheartening to see about 75% of the home supporters leave well before the end of the match.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Highway Projects

I've been successful in my application to join a team this summer on mission in Nazereth, I'm quite excited about the opportunity to work out there, and am looking forward to the time, though I'm sure it will be both mentally and spiritually challenging. Just received an email from the group leader:

Lastly a good news story - we need 61 volunteers for 2006, and currently as of today we have 43 in place - the team is building up even faster than last year. Excellent! However, we still need folk - especially men, and volunteers aged 18-25 yrs (we have enough of us oldies in our 40's and 50's thanks!). If you know of anyone who might be interested, then please direct them to our website, and get them to ask for an application form

so if you are interested in going on mission this summer, why not have a look at some of the placements on offer here.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jumping on the bandwagon

It seems everyone is producing one of these images of their blogging words. You can get yours here. It's interesting to see which words have been used most often during my blogging time, bit disappointing to see that neither the delgados or science have made the grade.

Nothing of note to report this week, it's been fairly quiet after the excitement of visiting the capital over the w/e. Did speak to my sister on the phone for over an hour on monday. Which is quite a long time, she was quite excited to have seen a comment from clu, an old friend from Pilsley. She also wanted a mention on my blog, so now she has. She works for a school/church in derby and goes around schools telling kids that she's so hard when she was young she put her fist through a window, so they'd better listen about jesus.

ok, so that's not strictly true, but sounds much more entertaining, we used to race from the car to the house, only about 10 metres. Trying to pip me to the post, she ran arms out-stretched straight into the door, arm continuing trough one of the panes of glass. I reckon I still beat her though!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hemel continued

Went to church with chris on sun, and it was a nice change to not have to worry with set ups and collecting people etc. The service wasn't bad, despite the cheesy worship session from the 1980s. Not so sure about the pre-cut squares of bread for communion that had begun to go a bit crispy and stale around the edges. These were carried around on plates and distributed to people as they were sat down. Cue bloke with plate bringing bread to me and chris, "Body of Christ, lads?" not sure a high anglican would appreciate that!

People seemed fairly friendly, but the:
'what's your name?'
'And what is your name?'
'Oh, two Chris's, that's easy to remember'

conversation became a little tiring. As I blogged previously it seems difficult to bring conversations above the trivial, and 'so what do you do?' level. But then I find that some people I get on with almost immediately, and I'm not sure why that is, those friends who just seem to be on the same wavelength, like the same music, or books or something.

Chris took me round to where he used to work, which is right next to the buncefield oil depot. The destruction was hard to comprehend, it really looked like some war torn area. Buildings with the cladding completely ripped off, windows broken, pockmarks all over walls. You certainly realise how fortunate people who work in that area were for it to have exploded on a sunday morning.

After lunch we went into the Chilterns for a walk, although the highest point is only a mere 267m above sea level, the view was quite vast as the surrounding area is so flat.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Hemel and London

Had a nice w/e visiting friends. Visted Hemel Hempstead for the first time, meeting up with my friend chris. Now I don't know a great deal about town planning, but who ever helped make hemel become a commuter town, clearly knew less. There's more roundabouts then trees I reckon. The crowning glory of all these is a roundabout known locally as the 'magic roundabout'. I saw a sign like this:

But not exactly like this because Kodak have now moved from the building behind (and I'm informed the town tried to raise money to purchase the red Kodak letters because it was of significant local interest - which prob says a lot about hemel). 'What's that flower sign all about?' I asked Chris, to be informed that it was a large roundabout made up of a series of mini-roundabouts, designed to allow traffic to flow both ways around - genius!!

I'm pretty sure this can be the only example of such ridiculousness in the entire world. It does kind of work, but to be honest you probably save no time turning right on such an arrangement, then going all the way around a conventional roundabout.

Also met my friend c.e.m who did a phd at same time as me, she has a proper job! It was great to see her and check out her Mary Poppins view of London rooftops from her flat, it just required a few dancing chimney sweeps darting between the chimney stacks to make it more authentic.

Went into London sat eve with Chris, and we wandered around Covent Garden and Leicsester Square. Had a few beers in a nice pub and we tried to convince some guys from Leeds that Chris went to the same school as the arctic monkeys - I don't think we suceeded. Getting back was a nightmare - some power failure on the trains so we had to join this huge queue for coaches to take us on to watford junction station. Had to wait ages. On arriving at Watford junction we disembarked and were told to join another queue to take another coach to all stations on the way to Milton Keynes. Yep, we ended up getting back on exactly the same coach we'd just got off, as it was directed on this new destination.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Broken Social Scene - review on teletext

I sent in a review of the gig to Planet Sound on Channel 4 teletext, hoping that it might get used. That very same day I turned on Planet sound only to find that someone had reviewed the BSS gig in Nottingham. No chance of them showing another BSS review I thought. Wrong!! They did, here it is, my review:

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Album of the year?.....

Just received an email informing me that The Delgados will be releasing a double album of Peel Sessions later this year. Absolutely fantastic, it includes all the tracks they recorded for Peel:



Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Broken Social Scene - live

Going to gigs is certainly a very good use of time, and yesterday evening I enjoyed a performance by Broken Social Scene, at the academy 2 in Manchester. Not quite sure what to expect, having listened to their most recent album a few times, and reading that over 20 different musicians were involved in it's production, I was left wondering how such a record could be performed live. About 8:45 five blokes ambled onto the stage, no big music build up, and they seemed to pick up their guitars and start tinkering away with no apparent direction, whilst the lead vocalist welcomed the audience. It all seemed a little disorganised, like they didn't know what the first song they were playing was supposed to be. Finally they kicked in, and were joined on stage by two guys playing trumpet and sax, building a crescendo of noise that started to sound like I expected from their record. The band were then joined by a female violin player, who I must admit was very attractive (there's something about girls in bands...) and she was amazing, no static playing from her, she was dancing round the stage adding the violins unique sound to the mix. In fact it was quite something that there was no injury caused on stage, with numerous guitars being wielded around, dancing violin players, and a trumpeter tentatively weaving his way through the melee to reach a microphone in order to add his notes at the required time. It was really a site to behold. Thinking that the stage could not possibly accommodate any more musicians, on walked another girl to add some vocals. Her hair was buffooned out in some strange arty/alternative chick way that just seemed to work, and in my opinion the music just got better and better, causing plenty of dancing and nodding of heads in the audience. Talking of the audience, just in front of us was a little guy, with girls hair, doing this crazy dancing, hands waving in the air in some kind of cross between the zombie dancers in the 'Thriller' video and the girl in Psycho defending herself in the shower from the knife wielding Norman Bates. Then most annoying was a couple who were chain smoking through the entire gig, which was really effecting my enjoyment of the performance - I was just hoping that at the same time the government were going to ban smoking in public spaces. (Which, much to my delight, I heard was the case on the news on the way back - hooray! Why do we have to wait 18 months for it to be implemented though....)

Back to the gig, song after song continued, and I was enjoying working out where all the various sounds were originating from, with so many guitars and effects pedals in use, this augmented by two drummers (one of which dotted around from percussion, to guitars, to vocals and sometimes all three in one song!) and the amazing array of sounds emanating from a little Korg keyboard too. They even played a song from the new album that is in a more hip-hop vein (though there were no guest vocals from k-os) and I was intrigued at how such a sound could be achieved with no drum machines or sequencers, brilliant. Unfortunately, for me, the band began to fade during the last 30 min or so as they seemed to play quite a bit of self indulgent art school jamming, noodling away on guitars, with no real direction, but this did allow the lead sing to foray into the audience, where he walked around hugging everyone in sight! All told a great night, and I was even lucky enough to be the beneficiary of a rose. Well, the stalk anyway, being valentines, a number of roses had been thrown onto stage, and towards the end of the gig these were thrown back into the audience, one escaped through numerous flailing hands to drop right into me. Unfortunately it's impeded trajectory had resulted in the flower being knocked off during it's flight, leaving me with a prickly stem in my hand!

Oh and I think I've managed to take a couple of good photos this time, a bit of fiddling around with the camera and i discovered that setting the dial to the little running man icon, seemed to reduce any blurring. If they are good I'll post some later.

broken social scene

broken social scene

broken social scene

Broken soical scene, violinist

you see, she is lovely.

There are more pics on my flickr page

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Kitchen, films and music

So the kitchen is done at last. Managed to paint the emulsion this weekend, and it's turned out alright. Not quite the colour I was imagining whilst comparing the 1cm square colour boards in Wickes. Trying to purchase an off white, on the whiter side of cream, so chose something called Orchid White. Looks just like Magnolia, I'm sure all these off white colours do, they just try and give it another name, cos magnolia is such an uncool colour. Just got the doors to gloss, but I thought I'd wait till the weather was a bit warmer and I could open the outside door to help reduce the smell. In fact the weekend was quite nice, amongst decorating I watched a few films I'd recorded. Blair witch project, which is a nice idea for a film, but a bit boring the second time round, it's all shouting and moaning, and the ending is a bit rubbish imo. I also watched bend it like beckham, which I surprisingly enjoyed a lot. This probably gets filed under chick flick, the genre of film that I hate with a passion, so why record it, well it had good reviews and has keira knightley in it. Football films are also generally terrible, you just can't generate the suspense of a match on the big screen, it always has to involve a last minute goal or a penalty, and again this rule was followed here. (There are only two good football scenes to my knowledge, the first and best is the football scene in Kes, and the other is ossie ardiles doing that flick thing in Escape to Victory). However, there was so much more to the story line, clashes of cultures, clashes of generations, and confusions over sexuality, which made this film so much more enjoyable. I also liked the way in the film that football mad Jess, discussed her concerns and worries with her picture of David Beckham, in contrast to her mother, who brought her concerns to the picture of Guru Nanak in the front room. Had sunday lunch round at m&e house, which was great, it was a really nice meal, the parsnips were fantastic. Not had a roast dinner in ages.

Also been listening to a lot of music recently, so a few mini-reviews:

Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit

The Life Pursuit

Which I've listened to the most, ready for their gig. At first I was a little disappointed, because I'm so familiar with their incredible early material, and of course as the band have matured, so their musical direction has evolved. The more I listen to this record, the more I enjoy it, the tunes are really uplifting and some of the use of harmonies really puts a smile on your face. Interesting how the tunes hide the darker nature of some of the lyrics, for example on Another Sunny Day, the tale ends with an encounter of love:

There’s something in my eye a little midge so beguiling
Sacrificed his life to bring us both eye to eye
I heard the Eskimos remove obstructions with tongues, dear
You missed my eye, I wonder why, I didn’t complain
You missed my eye, I wonder why, please do it again

which ends in heartache

The lovin is a mess what happened to all of the feeling?
I thought it was for real; babies, rings and fools kneeling
And words of pledging trust and lifetimes stretching forever
So what went wrong? It was a lie, it crumbled apart
Ghost figures of past, present, future haunting the heart

I reckon it's worth an 8.5/10

The editors - the back room

The Back Room

I won't deny that this is a good album, however it sounds just like Interpol, Joy Division, and a touch of Elbow, so pleased I haven't parted cash to get this, but merely recorded it off my housemate.


Lou Rhodes - beloved one

Beloved One

Came across this, thanks to amazon, which suggests things you might like. And it was right, I might like it, as Lou is the former singer of lamb, who are a band I really admire. Lou's lyrics are usually exquisite at putting into words the effect love can have, in fact the lyrics from Gorecki are used in Moulin Rouge to good effect. So if you haven't written your valentine card, mosey on down to lamb's lyric page and get some inspiration. This album is very folky, and ad remarked that it sounded very much like someone you'd expect to hear at the performance cafe at greenbelt. Musically it's reminiscent of Lamb's last lp, but without all the crazy drum and bass, electronica that andy barlow brings to the mix. 6/10

Broken Social Scene - broken social scene

Broken Social Scene

An amalgamation of various canadian bands, forming a super group. Crazy intertwined melodies and genres, from indie pop to hip hop. Amazing how all the instruments and melodies seem to work together to form the whole. A few more listens and I think this will just grow and grow on me. Looking forward to seeing them live tonight! 7.5/10 for the moment...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Belle and Sebastian

Thursday evening...

Well I'd been looking forward to it for ages, and the belle and sebastian gig at sheffield octagon did not disappoint.

Met a and j, and we headed up in time to catch the support act. I thought it was the rakes, and the only track i'd heard by them, 22 grand job, was rubbish. So I wasn't holding out much hope, a bit of a let down, seeing as the last time I saw B&S, a relatively unkown band called franz ferdinand were the support. However, the support was the brakes, not the rakes, and that extra B made all the difference. I thought some of their tracks were great, especially the ones with the repetitive dirty, thumping bass lines. The vocalist was amazing, reminiscent of Joe Strummer, and certainly some of the tunes reminded me of some clash stuff. They also played a few of their songs that lasted a matter of seconds, just like Melt Bananna. Fantastic!

The Brakes

The Octagon is not my favourite venue, it can feel rather cavenous, and sometimes the sound is rubbish, but last night the mix was pretty good, though there was still that lack of intimacy that venues like the leadmill generate. B&S played most of their new album, interspersed with tracks from their extensive back catalogue. What I love about seeing B&S live, is the way the group interchange around the myriad of musical instruments they have for their tunes, keyboards, xylophones, brass, violins, guitars, bass, and it's during these interchanges between songs, that allow stuart and stevie to chat with the crowd, making us part of the experience. There was quite a bit of heckling, and requests for one song or another, and at one point, whilst the band were moving around, stuart tried to remember how to play and sing an old song that had been requested. Their new material really worked well, with it's uplifting music hiding the cutting lyrics of love won and lost. There were quite a few old tunes played, including Electronic Renaissance, which works really well in the live setting, with steve and stuart dancing around. Quite a few songs from If you're feeling sinister, Fox in the Snow, which highlights all that is great about Stuart's delicate vocals, and Get me away from here I'm dying, with it's achingly beautiful lyrics: I could kill, yeah sure, but I can only make you cry with these words. In fact because it was such a sad song, played second in the encore, the band decided to play one last song, something that was a bit more uplifting to end on. Stuart also had a forray into the crowd, picking up a radio mic he jumped into the crowd, and we wondered what he was doing, only to see him come running past us to sit at the back, by the mixing desk to sing for a bit, before heading back to the stage. Everyone has to go and see Belle and Sebastian live!

Belle and Sebastian

I really need to work out how to set the shutter speed at super fast, when I'm taking photos at gigs, you only get good shots if you're close to the action. Oh well, it gives a bit of a flavour.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

We are the famous CFC...

That's what we sing at chesterfield matches, it's not true of course. Chelsea are the famous CFC, and I enjoyed watching the match last night. Had a bit of a session in front of the tv last night. First watched most of The Princess Bride that i recorded the other day. This film is great fun, a really great story, and peter falk is fantastic as the narator. You just want him to say "just one more thing...." The other great thing about this movie is that a lot of the scenes are recorded in Derbyshire. I remember just before i went to uni I was doing some agency work in a factory making the bookends for WHSmith, bending plastic sheets, and there was a guy there who lived out on a farm and one of his dads fields was used for one of the scenes! Stopped the film before the end so that I could watch the match, and an entertaining end to end match it was too. Despite being 4-1 up, Chelsea seemed to continue to strive for more goals, which makes for good viewing.

Didn't need my headlights on the drive to work this morning - for the first time this year. The sun is out - wahay!

yep, i'm bored at work again, and there's something making it worse, I'm having to sit at another desk to accomodate someone else, much to my annoyance. Why, because I'm now next to the radio filling the air with it's putrid music, athlete, corrs, that song from dirty dancing. It's more than a sane person can cope with. That's commercial radio for you - Hallam FM, pile of cack.

Google have a new picture sorting tool, picasa, and it looks like the google team have come up trumps again. Prob download it and let you know how good it is, it has a button to upload my pics to this blog too.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Recovering christian conversation

We've been using the time to talk of god book at bible study and it's proved the basis of some really useful discussions, in fact we are using it in some church services now. Some thoughts it has raised I think hit at the heart of some of the problems with church as it tries to manifest gods revelation to others. In terms of practically recovering christian conversations it had a great example of a minister who, during lent, went to the homes of members of their congregations, for a meal. Whilst there, the minister shared communion with the person along with any friends/family who had also been invited. Meals are a great means of conversation, i remember a great talk by John Bell at greenbelt a few years ago called 'Jesus was a fatman' (which always reminds me of that black grape song with the lyric, Jesus was a black man, Jesus was Batman - no, that was Buce Wayne). The point being looking at images of christ, contemplating one of a jolly fat christ, leading to a discussion around the fact that many of the recalled stories about christ involved him meeting and conversing with people over a meal. The alpha course also uses a meal to good effect, but the context here is in providing a space for christians to converse about their faith openly, rather than trying to sell the gospel to an educated middle class.

It's strange that most post-church conversations are rarely about any of the points in the sermon, or issues of faith. In fact someone commented that in all the time they had worshipped at a methodist church they had never had a conversation with a minister that was nothing more than commenting on the trivial. Do people want to talk about their faith? Is it just taken as given that cos you're present at a church service then everything must be sorted with your faith? It's not with me, and i think i would often benefit from such discussions, at one level in a group context, but at a deeper level in a more confidential environment. Perhaps we are afraid to discuss faith with others, because it is seen as a personal thing, which to some extent it is, however faith and a relationship with god impacts your interaction within the world and others. Discussing these matters with others can lend much help through the sharing of experiences, whether they are stories of the miraculous or the mundane.

Now some people are better listeners than others, there is nothing worse than sharing some difficulty or frustration with life for the response to be some kind of generic prayer "god, we lift to you now this situation", that's just some all encompassing rubbish that does no benefit to anyone. God cares for his creation and wants to be involved in discourse, and yes prayer is helpful and useful, not in generic prayer, but direct prayer to the heart of the matter. Then thinking that the problem is now resolved because some words have been muttered to God, again misses the opportunity to help practically in a situation, even if all that is required is to share silence.

Where's this ramble going, well i think churches need to recover christian conversation, provide challenges from scripture that are relevent to life today, be open for discussion in a way that accomodates a wide range of views, allowing people to question, but to also be prepared to change. Maybe there are people trying to make sense of the world and life and spirituality, and just maybe, for some strange reason, they may try to seek it in a church. Perhaps they will be disappointed to merely sing some songs, stand up and down a few times, listen to a monologue and pray, having no opportunity to ask their questions, raise their concerns, listen to the experience of others as they testify to the way God has worked in their lives.

Things for church to improve: create a safe place for discourse of faith, share meals, better pastoral support, help people pray, create a place where people can share their faith. Then perhaps it will be better equipped to continue these ideas in the context of everyday life as it challenges injustice and spreads the good news of christ, peace, love, hope, justice for all.

There are of course many things that hold the church back from moving forward in such a direction, but i've blogged too long already.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Nothing to report

My life still remains uneventful, a complete defecit in interesting occurences or thoughts. Though I do have some on church, which i may put in another post, cos they'll be dreadfully dull for most people. But why post, if there is nothing to report, well it's because I am completely bored again at work, there's nothing to do. Sitting around twiddling thumbs for an hour is not my idea of fun either, I'd rather be photocopying some large document. So to kill a bit of time I'll log a few of my weekend activities. Saturday, continued with my decoration of the kitchen, picked up some paint from wickes, got home, went to get the masking tape for the windows, couldn't find it. Was sure I had some from when I did the bathroom. Had to go back to Wickes to get some more masking tape. Got home, found a spare roll of masking tape in a shopping bag that had been lying around my lounge for a fortnight, then found another roll under the sink whilst I was searching out my paint brush. Typical. Managed to get most of the woodwork glossed and gave the plaster an undercoat using this special paint that can cover up cracks. It looks quite good, just ready for the final coat now.

Also watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre that I videoed, it's supposed to be some kind of genre defining film and was banned for quite some time for being too disturbing. However I found it rather dull, no suspense, not bothered about the characters, feeling nothing as they are slaughtered. In fact the 'slasher' scenes are fairly gore free, and appear more comical than fear inducing. Perhaps that's a result of the dating of the film, should Mel Gibson do a re-make.....

I did like the style in which the movie was filmed, hand held camera work, probably super 8, grainy colour, not your superfine holywood digital picture. And the black humour, particularly the scene where the canibal father returns home to find that his son has cut open the door to the house with the chainsaw, whilst chasing one of the teenagers. He chastises his son for damaging the door, despite the fact that he's just slaughtered 4 teenagers!

Oh, and i wasn't successful in my bid to win some tickets to the football world cup, i had been quietly confident over securing tickets for tunisia vs saudi arabia. There is a slim chance of purchasing returns.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Smash Hits

Sorry it's been a while since my last post, but despite being incredibly bored at work, i could think of nothing of interest to blog about. Though I did find myself thinking of things on my journey home, and then promptly forgetting them again when back in front of the computer.

Well this lunch time I've just read this article on the bbc news site informing me that the Smash Hits Magazine is to be no more, the last edition to be published on the 13th feb. Reading the artical it states that the magazine enjoyed mass popularity in the late 80s, which is the era when I used to read it. I'd eagerly await my dad bringing home the latest edition and always enjoyed reading it. I first got into listening to pop music in the autumn of 1987, and would watch totp regularly, placing my tape recorder in front of the tv and recording the songs i liked. Then when radio 1 became FM and stereo they used to transmit totp on the radio at the same time, which made recording easier. I don't recall being bothered about the posters in smash hits, so can't really remember it's appeal, i enjoyed the interviews, and the lyrics were always a must read. I think at one point I used to cut the lyrics out and stick them in a book. But times have changed, teens are no longer interested in smash hits, and you can get those interviews and lyrics from the internet now - in fact with some bands you can even communicate with using band forums! So Smash Hits are going to focus their resources on new technologies instead - if only the church could recognise it's growing irrelevence in it's traditional form....