My Glastonbury 2014


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My third, and best, Glastonbury Festival of the Performing Arts.

It’s the festival that just keeps giving, as with each trip you discover areas that you’ve not been to before.  The moving of Arcadia to the hill was not a complete success as it took it away from the action and the Disclosure DJ set that we went too was just stupidly busy.  It’s the first time I’ve seen strong drugs quite so openly peddled by dealers at Glastonbury, and this too was a negative.

salutes you

And of course, it rained.  When I say rained I mean it really, really rained.

Like, biblical man.

The thunder and lightning storm that hit us on Friday at 5.30 was truly spectacular and resulted in the site being shut down for an hour after a lightning strike on the Pyramid Stage.  This meant that Rudimental had to cut their set short.  Shame as it was just bubbling up (they were far better last year at T in the Park).

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Anyway that’s enough of the negativity, the rest of it was awesome and these are my picks.

It was a close call for my favourite act between John Grant, who put in an epic performance that nearly went nuclear when his extended take on Pale Green Ghosts kicked in and Massive Attack who put on a show of such perfection that it just drew your breath.  Both Horace Andy and Martina Topley-Bird were incredible (and, I think, Shara Nelson) in a stunning politically charged set that they refused the BBC to film.  The ground actually vibrated, so powerful was the bass.  One of the greatest musical experiences of my life.  Both these gigs were straight 10/10’s.

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Not far behind, if indeed they were, were remarkable sets by Midlake who really rocked towards the end of their set and Robert Plant whose smattering of Zep songs made a hugely eclectic set unforgettable.  His treatment of Whole Lotta Love was wondrous.

Also on the same glorious level was Dolly Parton, who was billed as something of a novelty act, but she carried off her set effortlessly with brilliant stories between her numbers.  Apparently it may have been Glastonbury’s biggest ever crowd with estimates of over 100,000 at her gig.  To hear 100,000 people sing 9 to 5 was something close to miraculous.

Dolly

On the 8/9 out of 10 level were Lily Allen (Is my Camel toe too prominent in this dress, she asked, and she called Sepp Blatter a c***)  Paulo Nuttini pulled off a mega performance.  Nick Mulvey fell into this category and was a new find for me.  His performance of Cucurucu was superb.  As was an early morning slot for Argentinian/Uruguayan Gypsy type tango/jazz from Bajofondo – sheer brilliance on The Other Stage and looking like their lives depended on it being great.  Mogwai rocked the Park Stage as headliners with probably the loudest noise of the weekend.

Everywhere is open to art.

Everywhere is open to art.

My other finds of the weekend were back to back acts on the wonderful West Holts Stage  Firstly The Internet, a soul act that sounds like Jill Scott and looks a bit like Janelle Monae and the wonderfully named The Daptone Super Soul Review from New York featuring the unique (apart from James Brown) Charles Bradley.  See them if you can.

Even the Glastonbury police horses are cool.

Even the Glastonbury police horses are cool.

And last, but no means least was Blondie.  At 68 She hadn’t lost any of her panache and it was a great set with a mix of new and old material.  It’s a bit scary to think that three of the best sets we saw (Blondie, Dolly Parton and Robet Plant) were by pensioners.

My patented Cider cup holder came in handy.

My patented Cider cup holder came in handy.

I wish I’d seen all of Arcade Fire’s set – we only saw the encores (although Regine Chassagny can’t really sing; either well, or in tune).  It was brilliant on the BBC  iPlayer recording, but we were at Skrillex first.  (Not good).

Other notable performances (all 7/10) were Interpol, The Jezebels, Kaiser Chiefs, Danny and the Champions of the World, New Build, Hozier, Nitin Sawney, Goldfrapp (although a bit one-paced), Rudimental and The Black Keys.

Very few acts were actually bad but those that didn’t float my boat very much were The 1975, Caro Emerald, Toumani and Sidiki and Michael Kiwanuka (who put on an ill-advised set).

Skrillex was just bad.

Other great things were the Classic Rock night at The Chameleon Bar and the Beat Hotel’s many cramped DJ sets including one we saw by FourTet and and Joe Goddard of Hot Chip B2B  (which means back to back apparently).

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Here’s to Glasto 2015!

 

 

 

 

2010. In hindsight.


Not a bad vintage actually.

Work wise I was run off my feet once again and almost literally in December which proved to be extraordinarily challenging due to the shitness of the weather and the fact that I was researching all over the country.  It was a real struggle, very stressful indeed.

Some great clients which include STV, Ampersand, Corporation Pop, 60 Watt, nmp and LA Media from last year.  But added a few too including Gill’s Cruise Centre, Paligap, and The Usability Lab.

My golf stank pretty much from start to finish and I had a poor Arran and a poor St Andrews.  However one highlight was an Eagle 3 on the par 5 second in the club championships first round.  I won that but went out in round two.  However Forty years of failing to Eagle were finally over. (Tom got about 6 last year alone).

Musically it was a big return to form after very poor shows in both 2008 and 2009.

I’ve already posted my tracks of the year elsewhere which will give you an idea of my top ten albums, but for the record, these are they…

I’m New Here by Gil Scott Heron

Band of Joy by Robert Plant

The Courage of Others by Midlake

Queen of Denmark by John Grant

The Suburbs by The Arcade Fire

Sky at Night by I am Kloot

Elektonische Music Experiment – German Rock and Electronic Music 1972 – 1983

Write About Love by Belle and Sebastian

The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green

Seasons of my Soul by Rumer

My blog had a record year, just, with 340,000 hits, up 45,000 on last year and beating 2008 by only 1,000.  As a result I hit the million mark last week and raised over £1,000 for St Columba’s Hospice in the process.  Thanks to all who contributed.

I did two music quizzes (one in Edinburgh and one in Manchester) for NABS and these raised £3,500

The Hibees were a farce from year start to end and our Scottish cup hopes look less plausible than for a very long time.  Looks like we’ll be going at least 110 years before winning it again.

Theatre again played a big part in my year.

My role as a director of The Lyceum developed and I thought Mark Thomson had a vintage year.  Every show was a hit in some form or other and the highlights for me were The Beauty Queen of Leenane, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, The Price and The Importance of Being Earnest.

FCT had another good year, my first at the helm and I’d like to thank the fab committee for their support.  Two great shows in Just So and Guys and Dolls and another ENDA award.  Annie’s next but no decision yet on the festival.  Our away day in October was deemed a great success.

Amy started at Uni and is working hard as she has done all year at Dakota.  She bought a virtually new car herself ( a Toyota Yaris) and I was really proud of her for being so focussed to be able to do this.  Ria is working hard at school and did really well in her standard grades.  Tom isn’t and didn’t.

Tom’s golf continued to improve and his handicap went from 11 to 7.

Sadly Jeana’s blossoming work at Suntrap came to an end when the funding was pulled.  She was devastated and I suspect still is.

We holidayed in California and it was a tram smash of a holiday from start to finish, summed up by this video…

http://www.youtube.com/v/E5lc8c9EsXg?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1

In books I didn’t read much.  I am enjoying Freedom by Jonathon Franzen but the best of the year was the Red Riding Quadrilogy by David Peace.

fantastic series of horrific police brutality .

And my movie of the year? Well, I saw over 20 movies at the flicks this year and a lot of real quality.  But I plump for The Social Network.  A Prophet was great as was Monsters and The Road, but David Fincher surpassed himself with an amazing script by Aoron Sorkin.

TV show of the year? No Question. Mad Men (we’re playing catch up and only nearing end of season two but it’s fabulous).

In reality TV The Apprentice continues to kick ass.

Digital gizmo of the year?  My iPad… but also my Canon 450 D.  An up and down year on the camera front but happy with my lot and looking for a Canon 5D Mk 1 and a new 28mm prime lens to move on a level in 2011.

Idiot of the Year?  Won hands down by Nick Clegg.  Only cos he sold his soul to the devil.  But he was run close by those fools that lead our government.  You know who they are.  Tony Blair continued to make a right fucking dick of himself and the legacy of Kenny Macaskill is not away yet with Magrahi in the rudest of health.

Sadly I lost a number of friends during the year; Myles, Kathy and Jim, I’ll miss you all.  God bless and love to all of your families.

Wife of the year? Jeana Gorman. 21st year running.  How can she bear it?

Put it this way. I couldn’t live with me. Still.

And so to 2011.

My hopes?

Hibees win the Scottish Cup.  (That’s just stupid.  Ed.)

Tom gets down to a 4 handicap.

I win something, anything, at Golf.

The kids do well at school and uni.

I am healthy throughout. (And lose rather a lot of weight.)

Both Cath and Jean stay healthy too

The credit crunch doesn’t get worse again.

Best of 2010. Music.


It’s been an epic musical year.

The best for longer than I can remember.

We’ve had great dance (Crystal Castles, Hot Chip)

We’ve had great folk (Villagers, Midlake, Anais Mitchell)

Great indie (Arcade Fire, Sleigh Bells, I am Kloot)

Great pop (Cee Lo Green, Glee, Paolo Nutini – well that’s a hangover from 2009 that’s just grown and grown on me, Rumer and Fyfe Dangerfield)

Great rock (Arcade Fire, Robert Plant)

Great balladry (Corrine Bailey Rae, Rumer, Tracey Thorn, Gil Scott Heron, I am Kloot again, John Grant)

And then there’s been a few oldies that have crept through into my particular headspace (Dead Kennedies, E.M.A.K)

Here is the full top 20 listing…

I am producing my usual year end CD (since 2004)

I think this is the best yet.  Certainly the greatest strength in depth.

If you want a copy let me know.

This incredible year of music.


What in God’s name has gone on in the music world this year?

In October alone we’ve had a major return to form from Belle and Sebatian and also by Sufjan Stevens. As well as a great new album from Robert Plant.

We’ve had album after album after album that continue to amaze. And yet 2008 and 2009 were, relatively speaking, deserts.

Next week we have a new Kings of Leon and before the end of the year a new Radiohead and, if Metacritic is to be believed, a new, wait for it, Kraftwerk album.

Oh my sweet Jesus.

There’s a new Norah Jones too. (I know, lacks credibility, but I love her music. Sorry.)

And just wait till you hear the crazy brilliance that is Sleigh Bell. Mama Mia!  On Spotify as we speak.  Please enjoy.

We’ve had Fourtet on fire, Massive Attack on fire, Hot Chip on fire.  The National on fire.

Wild Beasts, Midlake, John Grant, and of course, Arcade Fire. (On fire!)

Each and every one a gem of the highest lustre.

Wondrous.

John Grant. The Queen of Denmark. (supported by Midlake)


Midlake are greedy bastards.  Not satisfied with making perhaps the album of the year (The Comfort of others) they have colluded with bandless stablemate John Grant to make eh, perhaps, the album of the year.  So expect to see Midlake feature heavily in the year end lists.

This is a very Midlake album.  It has their arrangements, touches and noodles for a start.  It strays back into Van Occupanther territory in that it explores 70’s soft rock influence (Barry Manilow, Elton John) as opposed to 70’s folk which caught their ear in The Comfort of Others.

But this is not a Midlake album.  It is most assuredly John Grant’s.  Stridently gay in its copy and occasionally whimsical, it packs a meaty punch.

I was blown away on first listening and then it got better.  The gayness of it is very evident.  But it’s what makes the album, because it gives him lyrical richness.  He combines a mix of ‘fuck you’ attitude and humour.  I have to say the only downsides of the album is when he overindulges in the humour and when Midlake over-noodle on the keyboards.

It’s a thing of very great beauty.  If you like Anthony and the Johnsons but hated his voice this might be more to your liking, Because it’s outrageously mellow.

For fans of Midlake this is required listening. (In fact I will hazard a guess that some of you who saw Comfort of Others as a retrograde step will find this re-engaging you.)

This is a great record in anyone’s language.  If it sells 5,000 copies in the UK I’ll be amazed.  Please be one of them?

recent listening – Midlake


On Metacritic’s review page the Marmiteness of this album is clear to see with reviews ranging from 3/10 to 10/10.  I am firmly in the latter camp.  This album is utterly stunning and beautiful.  A real grower and although it lacks the jaw dropping stand out songs of Van Occupanther (esp Roscoe) it , as a whole, holds together perfectly.  Be warned, it is a different sound to Van Occupanther.; it feels like a folky trip to the 70’s.  That is no bad thing.  Trust me.