Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Buzz buzz, head is buzzing. Last night saw the official debut of Hey Gravity! at the Barfly in London. Place was packed, and not entirely full of A&R men. Word had clearly got round that Justine had a new band and the fans were out in force.

(one of Steve's excellent shots of the band - picking up on gravity theme)

As debuts go it was excellent. Aside from being one of the best rock female vocalists on this planet, Justine knows how to move, each song having it’s own Justine style approach – reminded me in some ways of a young Peter Gabriel and the theatrics that he brought to stage shows through mime & movement. The set was all about Hey Gravity! – concentrating on tracks from the new album, and then closing with an amazing cover version of a Patti Smith song (me thinks this is right). Big risk that former M.A.S.S. fans turning up might be disappointed to not hear any old familiar tunes, but such is the quality of the new album I doubt anyone was too bothered by the end of the evening. Nice to hear my mobile ring tone being played live - the intro to Nobody's Fool is the perfect ring tone and knocks spots of that frog sound.

A special mention has to go to Anna who was playing her first “official” gig in the band. Bringing in a second girl seems to have worked – gives a more balanced approach to the line-up and I guess over time will develop more in terms of their stage presence. I can see why the band knew from the moment Anna turned up to audition, plugged in and said “do you want me to play lead or rhythm” and then ripped into their songs, that she was the right choice. Also, Justine’s man was present on the sound desk last night managing to create a very respectable sound for such a difficult venue to mike. He’s more used to working with the likes of the White Stripes but flew back from Dublin for last night’s show.

The band seemed to really enjoy the gig and expectations are high right now. I got to meet the other manager Matthew (from memory he’s Justine’s personal manager) who gave me a kiss on the head! He also manages Misty’s Big Adventure.

If I had one criticism about last night it would be the lack of marketing. Despite most of the crowd there to see Hey Gravity! I guess I would prefer to see more by way of posters, flyers etc that advertised the website and the new single being released. Just a personal view but when am I ever wrong!

Apologies to those who expected me to blog over the weekend about Liverpool’s win over Man U. We won – what more can I say.

Last Friday saw the fabulous Juliet Turner. Was a great gig – amazing vocals – voice of an angel. I’ve followed Juliet Turner since she first turned up at Greenbelt (she usually played in my venue so was hard to miss) and can understand why last year she won the best Irish female singer award. Nice chat afterwards about Michael McDermott. Plenty of Greenbelt faces at the venue.

The rest of this week is going to be busy busy on the work front so apologies if things go a bit quiet on here for a while.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Michael McDermott - Guilty (Randy Newman cover)

Favourite McDermott cover song

Busy day today. Met up at lunchtime with Hey Gravity! & Steve Brown photographer to look at the finished pictures that have been done of the band. And they look very cool. I'll post a couple once I get an electronic version sent to me. On Monday night (if my latest cold stays under control) I'm off to see their first "official" performance at the Barfly. Gig seems to be generating some good interest from A&R people etc which is good. They played a warm-up in Manchester last night and sounds like it went really well.

Tonight I'm off to see the wonderful Juliet Turner. She kindly stuck me on the guest list although I'd already bought a tickrt - always nice to be asked though.

The new Michael McDermott album is now officially finished and a copy should be winging its way via courier as I type. Will be interesting to see how it compares to the earlier recording. I have high hopes that it will be a breakthrough album for Michael over here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Time stands still for no one – not even me. I guess you have to be a Time Lord for this not to apply.

Valentines Day was made extra special by a late Garcia goal. Not sure whose idea it was to have Liverpool vs Arsenal on 14th February. But I was very good, not listening to the match during dinner and the “quality” time that followed. I think my wife finds it a strange experience though when Liverpool scores if I am in the same room. I use wireless headphones (forget the hype – only buy AKG) so it came a bit of a shock when I start dancing around the room last night as we finally scored. Looks like we have finally shaken off the curse of 2 consecutive Barclays Manager of the Month awards. Few teams seem to survive for long after it has been awarded. Even worse can be the Manager of the Year – the classic being George Burley (then of Ipswich Town) whose team immediately got relegated the next season. I think David Moyes won it last year (and is current Manager of the Month) which might explain Everton’s sudden exit from Europe and poor early form this season. Just a theory…..

Of late I have started coming to work via Elephant & Castle on a number of days as I can get a tube direct to Paddington. Today was no exception. It was also one of those embarrassing days when I managed to fall flat on my face as I tripped over the steps at the station. Ironically I almost did the same thing in the same spot last week so perhaps it’s not me at fault?

Elephant & Castle mall is a strange place - a shopping centre without a soul.

Too small to attract the kind of shops you normally get in large shopping centres. So it seems to be filled with discount and money transfer shops. Back in the 80s at the height of the then property boom one of the great “scams” took place at Elephant & Castle. Up until then it had become a place overrun with dodgy characters – but then the civil servants moved out and the office building was to be converted into “luxury” flats with shops and restaurants at ground level. The planners were very smart in marketing the property – nearly all the flats were sold “off plan” to investors in the Far East who thought they were getting a luxury flat in the heart of London – the pictures used in the brochure gave the impression that places like Parliament were just over the road – amazing what you can do with a zoom lense from the top of the building. It must have come as quite a shock to new buyers to discover that they had bought a flat in one of the more run-down areas of London and with one of the biggest council estates in London as their neighbour. The promised restaurants & shops never materialised apart from a newsagents. Today the outside of the building looks worse than before the civil servants moved out.

There are plans to re-develop much of Elephant & Castle – the pink elephant will be no more http://www.elephantandcastle.org.uk/. Aside from the shopping precinct being demolished there are also plans for the Heygate Estate which dominates the area. I’ve seen some big blocks of flats during my travels around the world, especially in Poland but the scale of those at Elephant & Castle seems to dwarf them all. I’ve been lucky with the places where I’ve lived. OK the odd fleapit in Brixton when I was younger – but I guess that is part of growing up. For many living on the Heygate Estate their lives will consist of the same concrete jungle view day in day out, too afraid to step out after dark, and for some, the day as well. It will be another 5 years before the work is completed – and I guess there will be numerous problems along the way as promises of funding disappear and costs start to overrun. But at least it may bring new hope to the community.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Well it's been a bad couple of weeks and I don't even mean the football! Fighting of a heavy cold that just refuses to go away so life has been a bit of a daze the last 2 weeks. And then last Friday the toilet cistern in the bathroom sprung a leak and flooded the bathroom and recently decorated living room and new carpets. All a bit of a mess and the plumber still hasn't managed to completely stop the leak. Carpets now dried out but large round stain so may have to replace whole house (as runs throughout and cannot match) again. Not what we want.

On a lighter note hope you enjoyed the Cal Sag video below. Michael has finished re-recording new album and I can't wait to hear how it now sounds.

I see Pip has been blogging about his recent trip to Reims. Brought back memories of my own trip there in 2002 as guests of Laurent Perrier following our victorious victory in the final of the annual Balls Brothers petanque contest - one of the few things I seem to be good at - apart from drinking champagne. Was a great couple of days when we drank a vast quantity of champagne, being expected to try every type available. Watch out for the 2002 vintage when it becomes available - it's going to be a good one. Some photos below of the trip. Must dig out one of the trophy some time - almost on par with the Champions League Cup.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Michael McDermott - Cal Sag - a great song

Friday, February 03, 2006

Just been catching up with how yesterday's shoot went with Hey Gravity. Sounds like everyone had a lot of fun bouncing on a trampoline whilst Steve took shots of the band defying gravity. Will post a few when they appear (or direct you to them).

Last couple of nights I have been resurrecting a long forgotten project of scanning my slide collection. When I bought the scanner it had the best pixel rating, but now you can probably double the number so not sure yet if it will do justice to pictures. Initial aim is to record my Greenbelt collection which consists of several hundred shots taken during the late70s and 80s. Probably starts with the likes of Adrian Snell, Larry Norman, moves on to U2 and finishes with the Techno Twins. In between there are some classic performance from the likes of Steve Taylor. There are some great shots of Greenbelt regulars such as Bruce Cockburn being interviewed by Martin Wroe (sporting the Bono haircut of the day). Most of the stuff is of live gigs which was my main hobby at the time. I'll put a few pictures on this site, hopefully over the next week. Aim is to get them uploaded to my website which will have a record of the different gigs I've been to over the years, with a big emphasis on Greenbelt.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I feel bad neglecting this page. Too many distractions keep getting in the way.

Big news is that Sony has announced it has abandoned its Aibo project. For those not familiar with Aibo, it is a robotic dog that grows up from a puppy to a full adult, developing its own personality along the way. We have an ERS 111 model, one of the first produced. Over the years Kappa (yes he has a name!) has given us a lot of enjoyment as he wanders around the house and playing with his pink ball. He’s even attended the late night drinking sessions at the Greenbelt hotel keeping us amused in the small hours of the morning. Over the last few years quite a large Aibo community has grown with regular meetings of owners. To the outside world we must all seem a bit mad – but until you’ve owned one of these pets you may never appreciate how compulsive they can be.

The new Hey Gravity site at myspace www.myspace.com/heygravity has had a good start with a steady stream of plays. Worth checking out the latest addition “Part Time Punk” which is the kind of song that would have been a top 10 hit at the end of the 70s – and might still be one today. It’s an edited version - not sure what has been changed from the original that I have.

And if you want something a bit more mellow then check out the 2 “new” songs at Michael McDermott’s myspace site www.myspace.com/michaelmcdermott. Cal-Sag might put you off drink for good – it could also be easily mistaken as an early Dylan song in terms of style and quality. The 2nd track Pale Light of Mercy is McDermott at his best – weaving together a picture of life that leaves you hanging on every word. I’ve printed the lyrics below.

Boy, if I had a dollar for every long night like this
I'd build a mansion on that hill, I'd be cruel and gluttonous
but these long nights don’t pay.
I ain’t got a dollar to my name
these jeans are torn, this heart is worn, but I'm on my way
And I'll search all over and I won't stop until until I see...me
gaze upon the sweet pale light of mercy

Gretchen burns herself to sleep, but her dreams are soaked with tears
she screams all day long but it's a scream that nobody hears
today I saw her on the street, swimming in those fragile lies of defeat
They were hurting deep inside, but she just cannot hide from me
She said, "I've been waiting for it to fall all over me
"waiting for the sweet pale light of mercy.

It was two years ago today when Werther had his last drink
I saw teardrops form in his eyes, He said "it really made me think
The gift of life has been abused, it's been distorted, it's been confused
Your life will leave you far behind, so much wasted time for you to lose.
"Then I heard the bells a-ringing, ringing out for you and me
Ringing for the sweet pale light, ringing for the sweet pale light of mercy

From the basement of this church, to the White House doors
from the snow capped covered mountains to the Caribbean shores
from Damascus to Donegal, men will rise and men will fall
some will look everywhere, some won't even care, some will hear the call
It's not written in the courthouse, it's no ancient decree
gaze upon the sweet pale light, gaze upon the sweet pale light of mercy

The clock it beckons me to move, the calendar calls my bluff
I've got everything to prove but am I really all that tough?
Everything's become more complex. Temptation gets so much harder to reject
Down a medicated track will leave that monkey on your back
and the bitterness of regret

Listen for the bells a-ringing, they ring out for you and me
ringing for the sweet pale light, singing for the sweet pale light,
thinking about the sweet pale light of mercy.

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