Touch. Daft Punk. Feat Paul Williams.


This is a quiet song on a much (rightly) lauded album.

But give it some space to breathe, away from the hi-energy surroundings in which it finds itself, and you’ll discover a real belter of a song.

A song about existentialism.

The sense of touch being what life may really be all about.

Is this a ghost singing?

I dunno. (What I do know is its credited as American Hall of Fame singer and composer Paul Williams who sounds like he’s on his deathbed.)

And what I also know is that it is a great piece of modern singer, songwriter, techno genius that touches the heartstrings throughout.

Nile Rodgers. The great comeback


Today Nile Rodgers was told he was in full remission from aggressively invasive prostate cancer.

That’s good and let’s face it, any of you 50 odd year old blokes out there will empathise with that.

I am happy for Nile because he made my summer.

Selfish?  Perhaps.  But heartfelt?  Oh yes.

He made my summer because I saw him live on The West Holts Dance Stage closing the first night of my Glastonbury Festival and it was monumental.  (described today in The Telegraph as reaching folklore status.  30,000 at a venue that holds 20,000).

He’s done a lot of festivals and gigs around Britain since, so there’s a good chance you too might have seen his angelically clad 11 strong ensemble.  If you have you will realise, like me, that he is something of a latter-day day musical God.

But that’s just the half of it.

Read this book.

Then you’ll know it all.

images-1

Nile Rodgers, Le Freak, is one of the great music memoires.  In that it charts not only a golden era in pop music that he and his bands dominated but it also charts the near destruction of a mega talent addled by drink and drugs.

He was brought up in a fantasy world by junkie parents who frequently abandoned him to a life of substance abuse, starting with glue and ending with shedloads of cocaine and booze.

Which is worse he wonders?  Drink seems to be the conclusion.  Drink is dirtier.

After all is maw and paw were out and out junkies so maybe drugs ain’t so bad.

You’ll have to rise above this and avoid moral high-grounding if you are going to enjoy this read because he likes a toke or two.

B’nard Edwards fell victim, dying of pneumonia in a Tokyo Hotel bed after a gig with Niles.  It was Niles who found him the following morning.   But, B’nard wasn’t the only one.

Bowie, Madonna, Duran Duran, Chic, Sister Sledge (those puritanical christians who couldn’t stand Rodger’s ethic, but took the success anyhow) are all given their moments of glory in this glorious travelogue through the clubs of Manhattan.

It feels like Niles wrote it himself, not by a ghost.  So, it has its technical flaws, but fuck that.

This is a visceral, beautiful, no gorgeous, celebration of hedonism wrapped up in a blanket of talent.

And you know what?

He got away with it.

You want him to get away with it as you struggle through the genuine challenges that he faced as a youngster and the way he THREW himself at the guitar.  In such a way that he became legendary.

He THREW himself at drugs too.  But he also THREW himself at production so that he defined not just an era but a genre and a genre that came back to bite him.

Disco, which he never claimed to own, became such a desultory term that he was, post peak of Chic, a musical outcast.  A joke.

Yet, he was never a disco diva.  He was R and B,  R and R.

Always.

With a dance flavour.

The theme to this book is this wonderful song that he wrote and that I have many, many times enjoyed, perhaps  more than I should have,  with my sisters, my wider family, my work colleagues and my fellow festival goers.

I’ve been exhilarated for a reason.

Today he gives us this…

I am so glad this is a celebration and not an obituary.

Rankin. A life or death matter. Alive; in the face of death.


I just watched an extraordinary documentary filmed around an exhibition that glamour photographer, Rankin, put on earlier this year at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool.

It was about people in the last stages of their lives, all of whom knew they were about to die for one reason or another (mostly cancer).  His reason for doing this show were deeply personal.

My particular reason for watching was because the (now sadly departed) wife of a friend of mine, Louise Page, was one of his models.  Louise died of bone cancer three days after the exhibition’s opening night peacefully with Al and her parents in their home in Ilkley.

Another notable model was Dr Feelgood lead singer Wilko Johnson, and an Auschwitz survivor.

Although Louse could not fail to be our focal point the real star of the show was Rankin himself who came across as a lovely sympathetic man and took some Extraordinary pictures, not least this one of Louise.

louise-by-rankin

Loiuse wrote very emotionally about her journey here.

What made the documentary so moving was the incredible sense of acceptance, even euphoria that some of Rankin’s models described as they came to terms with their fate.  Truly life affirming and beautiful.

Thank you Rankin.

I can’t sleep…


Phoenix and Kraftwerk.

Four Frenchmen.  Four Germans.

Approximately.

The three or four best hours of my music viewing life.

Here.

t

My son and I have had some decent chat about what is better;  Glasto or T.

Neither of us was better informed, (apart from him).

Because only he had done both.

Now we are equals.

He has a point about T.

It is an amazing experience.  The crowd absolutely rocks, much more so than Glasto, full, as it is, with hipsters.  I totally loved the gig experience at T.

Still, I do not have the bottle to sleep over.

But that’s only part of it.

Glasto is the most amazing overall thing you can ever do in your life.

Please do it.

The best musical experience of my life.


I’m 51.

I’ve been to a lot of gigs.

(I’ve been to Glastonbury  FFS.)

Twice.

I’ve seen the Rolling Stones (zzz).

I’ve seen Kraftwerk before (in about 1980 or so).

But tonight I saw the most sublime three hours of music that I have ever seen, heard, felt in my life.

If you don’t know Phoenix you need to.  Because they kick-started it.

phoenix

Try this (their opener tonight)

Now, imediately buy their album, Bankrupt, and while you’re at it join me in the queue to buy Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix because, I promise you, you will not regret it.

Phoenix fucking destroyed the King Tut tent tonight.

It was epic.

And then…

And then…

And then…

Dare we wish too much in case we jinxed it… came Kraftwerk.

I cannot even begin to describe the monumental wonderment that was Kraftwerk in a hot, sweaty tent in Balado, Perth and Kinrosshire.  It was simply the most perfect 90 minute set ever conceived.

This was their set list (thanks to Setlist.fm)

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 00.20.55

I actually thought I would weep with joy at The Robots, Autobahn, Tour de France AND Radioactivity, all of which were breathtaking.

The 3D show was like, WTF, it’s a music festival, you can’t do a 3D gig.

Well, it transpires, YES YOU FUCKING CAN.

3d

See what I mean?

Did I mention I was on the barrier?

robots

To Ria Gorman all I can say is; thank you and I love you for buying me this ticket for my birthday.

You have no idea how happy you made me today.

A last word…

I was not a TITP advocate.  I’m too much of a Guardian reader for that but, you know what, TITP is really very good.  The Audience is much, much more music savvy/appreciative than Glasto.

Just sayin’.

Glastonbury 2013. My verdict.


En famile at Glastonbury 2013.  The bar on William's Green.

En famile at Glastonbury 2013. The bar on William’s Green.

The Glastonbury Festival is the single most visceral experience I’ve ever had.

This year was my second and the best I’ve been to. Not just because a lot of the bands we saw were great (because some of them weren’t – the strength in depth in 2011 was far greater), but because I went with my three, now adult, kids and we had a (mostly) collective experience that I doubt we can ever beat.

For me Glastonbury is about the music, but when the BBC cameras stop rolling at 11.30 each night much, much more goes on and this time I took a lot more of that in (Arcadia and Shangri La in particular).ria and amy at Arcadia

2013 was all about The Rolling Stones (more on them later) and, like others, I can only speculate that, generally speaking, the top of the bills were weaker than previous years as the Stones’ coffers had to be further topped up to get them.  So, we explored the smaller stages a lot more and unearthed some peaches.

In particular I loved the Williams Green Tent  (an outstanding venue with the best sound and lighting in the entire site – we saw about seven gigs there).  The Park Stage is a real favourite of mine and so is West Holts (my favourite big stage).

The John  Peel Stage suffers fro awful acoustics and my worst gig of the weekend was at JP.

The Pyramid Stage suffers from being too quiet unless you are at the front.  And the only gig I saw on the Other Stage also suffered from poor sound mixing.

All that sounds a bit negative but we had a ball.  And I’ve decided to rank the bands I saw as follows.

1 Savages (10 out of 10).  This incredibly in your face all-girl four piece simply assault you from the stage. In a festival of viscerality this was Glastonbury distilled to perfection.

2 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (9 out of 10) Truly wonderful performance.  At times the “wind” from the bass stack hit you in the face as he told his tales of death and destruction.  In particular his cover of “stagger Lee” by Fred Waring and his Pennsylvians brought the house down.  As part of the performance of this song he stood on the barrier and caught a female in a white dress in a long drawn out stare that was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

3 Chic with Nile Rogers. (9 out of 10) Simply incredible greatest hits show with a ten or so strong band and great backing singers.  Danced n=my ass off without about ten other people for 90 minutes.

4 Penguin Cafe. (9 out of 10) One of my all time favourite groups beautifully reignited by Arthur Jeffes, son of Penguin Cafe Orchestra founder Simon Jeffes, were wonderful in the Avalon Tent.  I was on the barrier for this one.

5 The Hives (9 out of 10).  The Hives opened Glastonbury on The Other Stage and blew most of what followed away with lead singer, Howlin’ Pelle Amquvist, stealing the show with patter that was not matched by anyone else at Glasto (other than, I’m told, Steve Aoki)

6 Ben Howard (9 out of 10).  A beautiful set that somehow managed to captivate most of the Pyramid Stage’s vast audience.  An unexpected gem from a man who only has one album.  What a belter.

7 Rokia Traore. (9 out of 10) Another opener, this time on Saturday on the Pyramid Stage.  Totally out of place here but this beautiful Malian singer pulled out all the stops and it was magical.

8 Vampire Weekend (8 out of 10).  Just a good, polished, fun set on the Pyramid Stage.

9 Fanfare en Petard (8 out of ten) a French rap jazz combo that we stumbled upon on the Shangri La Hell Stage on Thursday night.

10 Melody’s Echo Chamber.  (8 out of 10).  Melody (like Ben Howard) has taken no beating with the ugly stick but her music too was just right for a sunny Saturday lunchtime on the Park Stage.

11 Primal Scream. (8 out of 10).  The “pretend Rolling Stones” were much better than the real thing with Bobby Gillespie seemingly under the influence and raging against the machine that was a disinterested Pyramid Stage crowd in place for the “real thing” that was to follow.  “Are you fuckers all on Valium?” he shrieked in disdain.  Much to my amusement.  They rocked.

12. The Vaccines (8 out of 10).  They’d already performed on the Pyramid Stage but we opted to see them in the much more intimate Williams Green tent.  Very good indeed.

13. Foals. (7 out of ten).  A great set.

14 Tribes. (7 out of 10).  A good set in William’s Green.

15 Swim Deep (7 out of 10).  Nice wee band.  Good set in William’s Green.

16 The Rolling Stones. (6 out of 10). None of my group of friends much liked them.  “Are they waiting for the BBC to finish filming before they get going?” Chris asked me.  The party just never started.  Highly professional, tight and note perfect as they were it was unengaging.  The Pheonix that crowned the stage came to life for “Sympathy for the Devil.”  But so what?  Only one song really cut the mustard for me.  I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.  How very, very appropriate.

17 Barbarossa.  (6 out of 10). A good set but spoiled by the crowd talking throughout as they waited for The Vaccines.

18 Palma Violets (6 out of 10).  A hot ticket on William’s Green, but no big deal.  Copycat early Clash with only 2 good songs.

19 Ben Caplan. (6 out of 10).  Funny guy.  Funny beard.  Funny voice.  All good fun.

20 Mumford and Sons (5 out of 10).  Pass marks, but no more.  The good thing about their gig was that we were right at the front,  so it was a good atmosphere.  But these guys are one trick ponies.  By far the highlight was the encore of “Get by With a little help from my friends” with The Monkeys, Vaccines and Staves joining them on stage.

21 The 1975. (5 out of 10).  Nothing that special.

22 Martha Wainwright (4 out of 10).  I like her a lot but not in her acoustic stage set that was shrieky and awful.

23 Jake Bugg.  (4 out of 10).  Who on earth decided to put him on the Pyramid Stage?  Out of his depth, nervous.  What’s more he was characterless and boring.

24 Bastille. (3 out of 10) He wasn’t helped by an awful John Peel sound mix but it was desperately dull throughout too.

So that’s it.  Back to work now.

(Wish I’d seen Portishead)