Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Emma Pollock live

It's a while since i've been blogging, and it's not through a lack of things to say. Maybe it's a lack of time, or i just can't be bothered anymore. Perhaps it has run it's course. Maybe I'll offer the odd review, but perhpas my time can be better spent. If i get loads of people saying - chris we love reading your blog, i may change my mind. I doubt that is a likely outcome.

So it was a little over a week ago i went to see emma pollock performing live at leeds Brudenell Social Club. I'd been looking forward to this gig for ages. Emma used to be a member of the delgados, one of my all time favourite bands, and i was also a little apprehensive that i'd just will it to be good, even if it wasn't. Thankfully there was no need for any rose tinted glasses, the performance was fine and some of the songs were extremely good too. Her husband, paul savage, played the drums, though on future tours another drummer will be employed. I sent a review off to planet sound, but the editor went to see her live in London, so his review was aired and thus far mine has not been screened.

I'd gone straight from work as I'd planned to work from our leeds office. Not familiar with this venue, or indeed with leeds, i set off in the car, spying a maccy D i decided to pull in and get something to eat. Thinking ahead i'd remembered to bring a book with me and i 'enjoyed' a delicious meal whilst reading. It must've been my lucky day as i won a mcfluffy or whatever it is they call an ice cream there. Headed on down towards the venue, i was still a bit early so read some more before trying to seek it out. Found the place, some kind of working mens club, and the doors didn't open till 8pm, i'd guessed a 7:30 opening. The club bar was open, so i ventured inside, drinking a j20 cos i was driving. Got a funny look when i asked if i could have a glass for my drink when presented with a bottle. Scanned the room and amongst the smoking men there was an indie looking kid. Got to be going to the gig I thought, so siddled over and started chatting with him. No gig goer, but a nice guy, in fact he was writing a book and we talked quite a bit about writing and things. That was great and inspired me to get on with my prose. Went into the next door room about 8:20, the doors finally open. Saw Emma by the bar and had a chat with her, she's really very pleasant and seemed guenuinely pleased that an old delgado fan had come along. I'll maybe post my teletext review here, but i'll give it a couple more days to see if it gets a screening.
Below are a couple of youtube links of the performance and John Earl's review.

emma pollock teletext review

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The adelphi

I knew there was something else....
On wednesday I went to visit kb in hull, it was good to catch up and see her. Some friends of hers were playing a gig that evening and they were playing at the adelphi. Fantastic, i thought, not only a gig, but one at the fabled adelphi. Hull's premier seedy music venue. I can't imagine there is another venue like this in england, if not the world. Situated down a normal street of housing an end terrace house has been converted into a small, dark gig venue. The lower floors knocked through to create a performance area, with small bar and sound desk at the back. Even better, real ale pub on hand pull. Once inside i sent a txt to my friend who had previously described the venue to me. He replied asking if the beer was still rancid. It was! First up was some uni prof playing acoustic covers on his guitar. Then some scream majors, screaming nonsense over beats supplied by music geek with his iBook, whilst hairy beast played heavy guitar riffs. All kids seem to be using i-This or that these days. Sounds good, but looks a bit naff live. Then kb's friends, KIERANONONONONO, take the stage in comedy hawaii outfits. More screeching guitars and apple macs with keyboards and decks. They made quite a racquet, not too disimilar to Wyld Stallyions of Bill and Ted fame, before they had travelled in time to get music lessons! Quality, such energy and enthusiasm. Pity it sounded dreadful. Apart from the shouty rendition of happy birthday, that was actually quite good.

Funny ha ha

I'm sure i had a few things i wanted to blog about, but i just can't seem to recall them at the moment. Wasn't the fa cup boring, though predictably so. Without an early goal it was always going to be a case of not giving the opposition the edge. I'm pleased it didn't end up going to penalties. ad came round for some food after and we headed out to the winter garden to listen to this aural artwork that was being aired, supposedly as an experiment to see if music affected the plants. It was a kind of etheral ambient noise, rumbling bass and slow beeps, not unlike the free cd that came with 'everything is wrong' by moby, back in the day. Not the kind of music you'd listen on your stereo, but a sound that created an 'other-worldly' atmosphere in the winter garden alongside the weird and wonderful plants from around the globe. It reminded me of the forbidden planet. Quite a few of the plants were in bloom so i took some photos (in my sheffield set), some of which look quite nice, haven't a clue what plants they are though.
Went to the showroom to see an american indie flick called funny ha ha. It's filmed in 16mm with mono sound and follows the life of well educated twentysomething searching for love, a decent job and purpose in life. There's no plot as such, it's quite postmodern in that sense that you jump straight into a glimpse of the characters life and abruptly leave it again as the fim ends. The conversations were mainly improvised and the 'you knows' and 'i means' and 'it's likes' really add to the reality. Not like those flowing profound sentances that are the staple of programmes like dawson's creek. I thought it really explored a sense of purposelessness of life faced by recent graduates searching for jobs that utilise their skill base adequately, as well as the search for a relationship. The film was clearly not enjoyed by the philistine sat behind me with his girlf, almost constantly making unwitty remarks to her throughout the show. I was just about ready to smack him in the face. If i wanted people to talk through the film I'd've gone to the odeon.

Look at the audience and go blah..

From reading jonny baker's blog i was aware of some kind of discussion forum called Blah... It seemed to be the place trendy christians go to discuss spirituality in contemporary society. They just started one in sheffield and ad reminded me it was on this week. We decided to go and see if we could blend in with the 'trendyness' despite not having any daft sculptured facial hair or howie t shirts, or even an i-book. Thankfully we did. The event was held at the showroom and discussions were around god in contemporary film and tv. In particular films surrounding the paranormal, stories that traditionally draw on christian imagery in the good/evil fight eg crucifixes etc. We watched clips from constantine (which looks diabolically bad) and buffy the vampire slayer (yay). To be honest the clips were overlong, but the discussions were interesting. The clips seemed to portray a sense of evil that had to be overcome by the strength and action of the 'hero' usually human. A physical action, rather than a spiritual one. There was not any explicit reference to god, rather an implicit being, creator, force of good that is older than all religions. This 'god' was portrayed as present, but in the background, inactive and passive. Whereas the christian faith is about an active and caring god, present and acting through the holy spirit now. There was quite a lot of theology babble around though - metanarrative and nietzsche. Some guy raised a point about the metanarative of buffy, which i thought was nonsense. He was clearly using the term to encompass the whole of the buffy story, failing to take into account the metanarrative that it was written by educated westerners brought up in an, although nominal, christian tradition, steeped in spiritual folklore also risen from a christendom perspective. I'd be interested to hear equivalent stories from india and compare. There was plenty of time to chat with people afterwards, and i had a somewhat awkward conversation with some girl who i clearly had little in common with. It was quite a struggle, then her husband arrived and she introduced us. He asked what kind of construction work i did, and i explained the LIFT schemes which led to an interesting conversation on the privatisation of buildings for public services. During which I noticed his wife's eyes glazing over, then he started asking about my phd, which was clearly more than she could take, leaving, as I began discussing the regulation of cholesterol - lol

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Eurovision clips

I hardly ever get any traffic to my blog, but there was a small spike of activity these last few days. One of the most searched for items to reach this blog, bar my name, is eurovision clips. I posted some clips of the wonderful lordi last year and people still drop by - have they not heard of youtube!
This post has nothing to do with eurovision, cos I didn't see it, instead here is my review of the 65 days of static gig i went to the other day. It's been edited to read more scathing than my original text.
Click the image to see it enlarged if you want to read it.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

bank holiday iv - 65 days of static

Just to finish my star wars-esque bank holiday double trilogy. Went to the plug, one of my least favourite venues, to see 65dos. Always a breath of fresh air to see these guys in action, competely different to the usual lilting indie pop i prefer. As usual, Mirimar disaster are in support, screaming primaeval grunts over heavy rock. It always amuses me that the singer has such good diction and incredibly clear when addressing the crowd, and completely incoherant when singing! 65 dos produced another tight set of new and old music, roaring guitar melodies and manic bleeps makes for a good combination. Visuals mixed in a bit of vjaying to add to the mix. Hopefully there will be a review on teletext this week - so watch out on p344 channel 4 (or 824 if you use digital).
Some pics flickr

bank holiday v - number9dream

I picked this book up at fopp merely because it was only £3 and i'd really enjoyed cloud atlas by the same author. I'm pleased i did as it's the best read i've had in ages. Written in a really dynamic first person present tense, the story flows rapidly, interspersed with fantasy, memories and dreams. As illustrated in cloud atlas, david mitchell seems to enjoy using a variaty of techniques and genres within one book, and again there are stories nested within this book. Set in Tokyo the story follows a country boy on his search to find his father who abandoned his mother before he was born. Now 20, his search brings him to the big city and an unfortunate encounter with the underworld, that may just reveal the secrets to his father's location. Can't recommend this book highly enough. The author spent a number of years out in japan teaching engliish, and he obviously draws richly from his experience out there. Though, i recently read a review of the book stating that it borrowed heavily on ideas from 'norwegian wood' by Haruki Murakami, so i shall have to read that and see.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

bank holiday iv - a new hope

There's a walk called the sheffield round walk. I had heard of it. Where does it start? and where does it go? Interested cos i like sheffield and i wanted a chance to explore some more of the city. Searched the internet and discovered that it wasn't a very round walk when it was first conceived 80 odd years ago, but it has subsequently been 'joined up'. Found the route guide at the millenium galleries on saturday and had it in my mind to try the walk on monday. Weather forecast was pretty poor - rain all day.

woke up on monday - sunlight and wind shaking my window causing me to stir - too early. Tried to sleep again - too light. Read some. Fell asleep. Awoke with my alarm and read some more. And just to the end of the chapter for good measure. Hey - it's not raining, i'll do that walk.

The walk

Drove to hunter's bar (arctic monkeys - fake tales of sanfransisco) and began the walk in endcliffe park. It was quite busy, joggers, dog walkers, kids on bicycles. Fairly straightforward walk alongside the river porter. The river was followed up and up, past forge dam (pulp - the wicker man) and into a wooded area. Fewer people now, and although i'm still in the city limits the only sound is that of birdsong. Followed the river up through porter clough and out at ringinglow by the alpaca farm. Crossed over by the round house and took a path down limb valley, negotiated some cows that seemed as nervous of me as I of them. Remembered my walk by lake niavasha in kenya when i stumpled upon a herd of buffalo. Followed the path into yet another wooded area, used to supply fuel to kilns involved in lead smelting years ago. Never been here before and it was really nice, there were bluebells everywhere. Eventually came out at eccleshall road, amazed to hit civilisation again. Crossed over the road across a playing field and up into eccleshall woods. Another place I've never been, one of englands largest areas of ancient woodland in an urban area. It's a hive of footpaths criss-crossing and again loads of bluebells. Arriving at abbeydale road, pass dore station, crossing the river sheath, and up into ladies spring wood, steep uphill climb. Another ancient woodland, previously a coppice supplying wood for burning. On and on, past beauchief golf course and over to meadowhead. Into Graves park, another area of greenery bestowed upon the town by one of it's famous philantropists. There was some kind of may day event on that appeared to be very busy. Onto the last stretch of the walk, and probably the least walked, heading back towards the city centre. Down through gleadless valley, past bishops house and into meersbrook park. There are some stunning views across the city centre from here. Through the park and into the edge of sharrow/nether edge. Interesting urban demographics here, through highly asian populations, walking up the hill to the more affluent area of the city, skirting brincliffe edge and coming out in the centre of nether edge, with it's mansions - even passing a house with a tennis court! From mansions, down into student digs and back to hunters bar. I don't quite know the distance but i'm sure that's far - i'm sure that's pretty far. Well about 14 mile if the guide is to be believed. Took me about 5 hours with 30min for lunch, though i was sure i was walking faster. The latter part of the journey was fairly difficult to navigate. It's well worth doing - it's amazing the tranquil places nestled in this city.

More pics in my sheffield flickr set

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

bank holiday III - mac

church was a bit of a chore, a couple of people were away and all of a sudden the whole set up and collection becomes a real bind. The service was quite nice, nothing exceptional, a trainee local preacher having a trial service. I thought she did alright, though nothing revelationary or challenging. Went to see my friend cem over macclesfield way after church. We had a good afternoon strolling by the canal and getting something to eat before returning to chat whilst watching the best indie anthems ever, or some such countdown chart on mtv2. It's strange to see snapshots of indie hits that i really liked as a teenager. A time when the song artists appeared to me to be relatively ancient. Looking back now, seeing damon albarn singing boys and girls, for example, thinking - doesn't he look really young there! Another sign of the ageing process and no, i no longer enjoy listening to radio 1 in the daytime.

Bank holiday II - "wax on, wax off"

Did my usual wander into town in the morning to think about my book, i'm having a bit of difficulty over some grammar technicalities, it's all to do with the changes of naration i'm using. Milled around town and got some shopping done, as chesterfield had been relegated there was no cause for a trip to oldham in a last gasp chance to stay up. Instead i spent most of the afternoon in the garden painting my fence. A fence that appears to be on it's last legs, yet another looming expense, however, i hope the lick of paint will see it good for some months to come. The hours of fence painting, if mr myagi is to be believed, should help turn me into an expert in karate - so beware, I can probably kick you in the head, even if one of my legs is broken now.
Finished the day watching some snooker and reading this excellent book. Took me ages to get to sleep, my shoulder really ached, like i'd got a dead arm or something. I just couldn't get comfortable. So much for mr myagi!

bank holiday I

I've been pretty busy lately, too busy to blog as i've been out enjoying the nice weather we've been having. i don't particularly like super long blogs, they are just little morsals of thoughts and things i've been doing. if you've got time to be reading long in depth debates and shenanigans you really ought to be getting out more. so i'll blog some small episodes over the coming days:

so it was election time, i'd declined to be a poll clerk this year as i wasn't in need of the extra cash and i didn't fancy the really long day. Ther was little coverage over the elections and they seemed to come and go with little fuss. The predicted labour failure didn't really materialise. my ward was very tight, just a few votes in it. To be honest i'd have been happy with the candidates from labour, lib dems or greens. Members of the labour party were going around knocking on doors to remind people to vote and to get an idea which way people were voting. I'd never seen them do that before - they were obviously keen to win the seat. They lost out to the lib dems by about 30 votes! Thankfully there seemed fewer interest from the british national party around sheffield, though they still collected reasonable numbers of votes in the wards they stood which is a worrying trend.
At bible study we're using an mrdf study guide looking at poverty and slavery. It's been interesting and this week we were looking at some of the laws given to the newly flourishing israel nation after leaving slavery. Rules that ensure profiteering is not a major driver, but the growth and stability of all members, rich and poor, of the israel nation. Laws that give rights to the alien and ensure stumbling blocks are not placed in the way of those less able. Alright if we were to read on in the passage there are numerous odd laws that must really be taken within the cultural setting, but the basics to which the israel nation was raised are a great set of starting ideas. We mused how we would run a new settlement. The key seems to be the 'buy in' from all members of the group. It only works if everyone does their bit, however menial. In practice though, humans seem to be inately selfish which i guess is why capitalism creates greed at the exploitive expense of others, communism breeds apathy and a superior ruling class that has to enforce the pricipals in order for them to work, the welfare state breeds people who exploit the benefits entering a cycle of dependency and an unwillingness to work. It makes you wonder if there is ever a way that the kingdom of god can work here on earth as prayed for in the lords prayer - may your kingdom come on earth, as it is in heaven. Will there be a time when everyone wants to serve god in that way, or will selfish tendancies or disputes about irrelevencies continue.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

new tv

Yay! I've just bought a second hand tv off a guy at work. It's got digital tv, widescreen, will plug into our computer recorder thingamijig with s-video to SCART connection. But the best thing is I can get chunky old analogue teletext so i can read my reviews in all their glory. Plus i can catch up with all the rest of the planet sound reviews - they really are good. Hooray for teletext.

Just been shopping and nearly created a toilet roll landslide. A huge pile of multi packs stacked enticingly at the end of the row screaming look at me - 33% extra free. I wandered over, began to lift one of the top packs and noticed that a pack behind had been inexpertly stacked. It began to slip, causing the pile atop it to begin to gently slide towards me. Luckily i managed to stem the flow and rectify the situation without having to endure the embarassement of being engulfed in an avalanche of bog roll.