lovelondonscenes – 72

I walk through the grounds of Chelsea Art College (which isn’t in Chelsea) on the way to and from work most days. Last week, this thing appeared, as things often do – it’s an arts college. It looks like something that could have sprung up from a seventies episode of Doctor Who. The square is illuminated at night by strips of light from tubes built into the paving. It’s arty…

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On another night…

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Are Kraftwerk in the area?

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lovelondonscenes – 71

A couple of weekends ago Kath and I were walking up to Soho from Tate Britain, where we’d been to see the late Turner exhibition. One for a blog in due course. As we walked through St James’s park we came across the Fields of Battle – Lands Of Peace 14-18 exhibition. There were some amazing photos of sites in Belgium and France that look lovely now but were horrific scenes of battle in the First World War. We must never forget this, out of respect to those who fell, and in order to avoid the same the same mistakes in the future.

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The first photo below, Belleau Wood, near Aisne, was the scene of the last major offensive by the Germans, in 1918. America had become involved by this time and they played a major part in the battle. There was hand-to-hand fighting, which earned the Americans the name Teufelshunde. Devil Dogs. Frightening. What it takes to win a war.

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Next up, the Somme. Needs no introduction. A synonym for the horror of war. And now so beautiful.

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And finally, Messines Ridge. See the bomb crater and compare with today’s tranquil farmland.

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We must never, ever forget. Forget the horror, the sacrifice, and the role America played rescuing Europe twice in the 20th century. And protecting it thereafter.

God bless America…

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200 tracks

So, this blog is what it says in the title. 200 of my favourite songs, with only one allowed per band or artist.

But why?

Well, one of the best music blogs around is Every Record Tells A Story by a guy called Steve. It’s a mix of live reviews (often with great photos, so much better than mine), reflections on bands, records, musical trends, and humorous takes on the world of rock. He has just written a blog about the latest Oasis box set, which costs £116.99 (US$189) and asks what else you could do with the money. He’s looking to assemble a vinyl alternative.

I said I’d have a go at an alternative too, got lazy, and thought, well, how many brilliant tracks could you download for that price? Well, at 99p each on iTunes it would be 118. At 79p it would be 148. I started with 118 and felt, I need more. So I went to 148 and felt I need more. I went to 180 and felt…. I decided to go for a round 200. This means, at 99p each, you’d have to spend another £81.18. Worth every penny!

Alternatively, you could listen to this playlist I’ve made for you on Spotify. It is awesome. It ranges through rock, reggae, soul, rap, indie, punk, folk, country, dance, Mowtown, funk, metal. It’s not my favourite 200 tracks ever, but a random selection with only that one rule: no more than one track per artist, or band.

Enjoy! And by all means disagree and offer alternatives.

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PS. No Beatles because they are not on Spotify.

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The Horrors at the Troxy, 4 October 2014

I went to see the Horrors last night with my good friend Jon G. We’d seen them at Latitude in 2012 and they were brilliant, one of the best of the festival. Since then they’ve released another album, “Luminous”, which is good, but maybe not as good as its predecessors, “Primary Colours” and “Skying”. More of the same big sounds, but not quite as many tunes.

The Troxy is an interesting venue. A real Art Deco treasure in the East End, on Commercial Road, travelling out from the edges of the City to Limehouse. It opened in 1933 as a cinema/musical hall, went through difficult times after the Second World War, became a training venue for opera singers and then a Mecca Bingo hall. It’s been revived as a multi-puporse venue since 2006.

I didn’t take any photos from outside last night as the light was dimming, but it did look impressive. This is a photo from 2006.

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And here’s one I took inside last night.

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The support band were Telegram. I’ve heard them a few times on Marc Riley’s evening show on BBC 6 Music and liked what I heard. I thought of the music as Buzzcocks/Ramones with guitar solos. I wondered whether their name was inspired by the great T.Rex track “Telegram Sam”. I doubt it, but maybe their Dads or Mums had the record. Anyway, they were pretty good. Looking forward to hearing an album.

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And then The Horrors. Their show is an experience – the big, swirling sounds, the lights, the dry ice, the shadows. The band don’t expose themselves – for the most part they are silhouettes behind the flashing lights. It’s a powerful, but also quite detached presentation. The guitars soar, the keyboards scream, the drums pound furiously. And the lights, the lasers, get in your face. It’s big. It’s impressive. But, you know, there aren’t that many tunes. Singer Faris Badwan surfs of the waves of sound, all in black, emerging from the haze. A few people around us, sitting near the back, maybe not committed fans, not knowing what to expect, did leave halfway through.

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The lights are extraordinary. There was this laser that branched out to encapsulate swirling cloud, or maybe the sea. Complemented the music brilliantly.

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I was happy with the music. All my favourites got an airing. ” Who Can Say”, which does have a great tune as well as an immense beat; “Endless Blue” with its awesome riff; and in the encore, the amazing “Moving Further Away”, with its metronomic beat and swooning vocals providing a canvas for some brilliant guitar pyrotechnics from Joshua Hayward.

So the concert ended on a high. There were longeurs and I guess this is why The Horrors, while being one of the premier indie bands of the last few years, haven’t gone on to stadium status. The lights, the shadow, the banks of sound are so much part of the experience that it just isn’t going to work at three in the afternoon or even nine at night in a rainy field in the countryside. They have to be on the second stage – indoors.

The Horrors are a great band, but you have to meet them on their own terms. Go with the Goth.

 

 

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lovelondonscenes – 70

The sun came out and Quins beat London Welsh 52-0 yesterday!

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lovelondonscenes – 69

Ealing half marathon, Sunday 28 September. I wasn’t running – no way – but went down to Lammas Park to see my friend Jon finish. A lovely warm day- maybe even a bit hot for the runners. Nice for the spectators though!

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All the runners wore yellow ribbons in honour of the missing teenager Alice Gross, from nearby Hanwell. Her disappearance has had a huge impact on the local community. We live in hope that she will be found alive and well, while there is no clear evidence to the contrary. There are yellow ribbons everywhere.

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IMG_1541Thoughts with her family and friends in these desperate times.

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Have You Heard? – (55) “Songs Of Innocence” by U2

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So a couple of weeks ago, U2 surprised us all by releasing a new album “Songs Of Innocence” exclusively on iTunes. This surprise release is becoming a bit of thing with big-selling artists. I think Beyonce did it, and just today, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke has released a new album on Bitstream, which I think means you buy it direct from him. I haven’t tried yet, as I’ve read it is quite complicated to download, though also cheap ($6). I shall have to gird myself to battle with the technology. I must admit, I’d happily buy it off iTunes at the normal price and get listening!

Anyway, U2 did something different. They gave the album away for free to iTunes users, by putting it on their iTunes uninvited. A generous act, you’d think. But no, lots of people objected because they hate U2, and couldn’t delete it. So Apple had to come up with something to delete it. Not quite what was intended, but still, I doubt all the publicity has done any harm.

I had the opposite problem on my iMac – it wouldn’t load. iTunes told me I’d purchased it (for free) but it wasn’t on my purchased list. I did get it on my iPhone though – had to click on the Cloud to put it there. I gave the album a quick listen on the phone and thought, hmm, nothing new here. Still, because it was U2 I wanted to give it another go. One of my first ever blogs was called “Still in Love with U2“. I managed to download it on to my iPad and from there I was able to transfer it to the computer and then on to my iPod. All these Apple products! The iPod was key though, because that’s where I listen to things most. On my 160 GB Classic – which Apple has just discontinued. Outrageous! Blatant discrimination against music obsessives…

So, the music. Well, I’ve been listening to it quite a lot this week, and have revised my initial view. I think it’s really good. It won’t make it into my top five U2 albums, but it’s a good, tuneful rock album. There’s a really slick sound to it, with plenty of Edge’s guitar trills and some thumping bass lines. It will sound good in the stadiums, when they tour in 2015. And it tells me they have been listening to a few of their successors, and learning. “Sleep Like A Baby Tonight” and “Volcano” remind me a bit of Arctic Monkeys, as they are now, with “AM”. Maybe Britain’s premier live band, as they showed at Reading and Leeds. “This Is Where You Can Reach Me Now” has a feel of Foals, again as they are now, playing the big festivals. I can imagine both these bands, as they graduated from their early sounds (which is what made them) to festival/stadium rock, looked to U2 for an example, an inspiration. U2 have now returned the compliment.

But of course there is one band that lurk behind the latest U2 sound more than any other. Coldplay, of course. Now, when Coldplay began, much as I liked them, I regarded them as U2-lite. Now, when I listen to a track like “Every Breaking Wave”, I’m thinking that U2 now sound more like Coldplay than Coldplay on their last album, “Ghost Stories”, did.

So, yeah, what I’m saying is that “Songs Of Innocence” is a very good pop/rock album. In spirit it’s probably closer to “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” than any other previous U2 album, but with even better production.

If you like U2 and haven’t heard it, try to. If you don’t like them, this won’t persuade you to change your mind. But it it has whetted my appetite for their 2015 tour whenever they announce it. Which was, of course, the point of the innovative release.

It’s big business, but I don’t mind,  if I still like the music.

And I do.

 

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