I won’t say much about the death of the grocer‘s daughter, I will just let the music speak for itself!
I won’t say much about the death of the grocer‘s daughter, I will just let the music speak for itself!
I can count on one hand the amount of tribute acts I have seen in my lifetime. Before last night it was just two; The Bootleg Beatles and The Wall a Pink Floyd tribute band. Both were very good. However in my opinion both were surpassed by the excellent show I saw at the Grand Opera House in York last night. It was titled ’WOW – A Celebration of the Music and Artistry of Kate Bush’. The fact that Kate Bush is such an original and unique solo artist means that any attempt at a decent tribute to her would be difficult. However 36 year Maaike Breijman from Holland pulled it off impeccably well.
She has a resemblance to Kate and a similar vocal style. She is also an excellent all round performer and she proved this by singing, dancing and playing the night away. She didn’t only focus on Kate Bush’s greatest hits although most of them were there. The overall show, including a brief interval, was close to two hours long. I lost count of the costume changes Breijman undertook but every one of them worked. Her band was superb as were the two male dancers that accompanied her for most songs.
She seemed to draw her influence for the performances from film of Kate’s one and only tour and the videos for the later songs. The show included a terrific light show and some excellent projections and props. Including the weather machine from the ‘Cloudbusting‘ video. I particularly loved her performances of “The Wedding List”, “The Big Sky”, “Wow” and “Babooshka“. She also brought things a little more up to date with an excellent version of the 2005 hit “King Of The Mountain”. The theatrical staging of “Breathing” from inside a womb was pretty impressive too.
The two most exceptional moments for me were her wonderful rendition of “this Womans Work” whilst accompanying herself on the piano and the obvious choise for closing the show, the incredible “Wuthering Heights”. It is highly unlikely that we will ever get to see the real Kate Bush play live now, although to be fair whoever thought David Bowie would release a new album? But in the absence from the stage of Kate Bush I can definitely recommend Maaike Breijman. The only disappointment for me was how few people there were in the audience. When she tours again I order you to do your utmost to see her. Sell your Granny, send your kids to sweep chimneys, do whatever it takes just make sure you are there for Maaike’s next tour. That’s an order ok! Click here to find the WOW website.
Based upon information released recently it is alleged that the US Government had planned to blow up the moon in the late 50s as a means of intimidating their nemesis in the Cold War, the Soviet Union. After the Russians effectively took the lead in the Space Race with the launch of Sputnik in 1957 it was apparently believed that a show of strength like blowing up the moon would really scare the Russians. Apparently it was called ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ or ‘Project A119‘. Even that sounds a little James Bond like doesn’t it?
It really does seem like a crackpot scheme and it is unlikely at the time that anyone possessed enough in their nuclear arsenal to actually complete the task. At best it might have left the man in the moon looking more like the elephant Man and the satellite’s surface covered in high levels of radiation. In addition any debris that fell to earth would almost certainly have been radioactive as well.
I wonder if this idea came from the same think tank that thought of the idea of using an explosive cigar to blow up Fidel Castro or to rig the voting in Florida in 2000 in favour of Dubya. Ooops wait a minute that second one was true wasn’t it? had it happened then Neil Armstrong probably wouldn’t have been there to utter his famous ‘one step for man’ line. But then again maybe it did happen and didn’t work very well other than to make the moon radioactive. That would certainly give more credence to those people who believe the moon landings were faked and took place in a film studio directed by Stanley Kubrick.
I’d love to know what you think of this incredibly stupid, yet potentially real plan of Eisenhower’s government. Bearing in mind that his Vice President was Tricky Dicky Nixon, maybe it isn’t surprising! Anyway as I have said many times before so here are a few songs that may not have happened or certainly wouldn’t have been the same had the moon been blown to smithereens, feel free to add your own moon related songs.
Apologies but there are two kiddie fiddlers for the price of one on this next one!
And finally a special Billy Bonus, my favourite track from Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark side Of The Moon’; “Brain Damage”
So the London 2012 Olympics is over, at least until the Paralympics anyway. I truly believe that this has been an amazing Olympics and for me usurps England winning the 1966 football world cup as our greatest sporting achievement. What do you think? OK I know the Scots won’t agree with that in the first place, but I would still like to hear your thoughts.
I realise that this post comes some 24 hours after the closing ceremony, but given the musical nature of that ceremony I felt I had to post something. The Olympic stadium was once again amazing; decked out to show a London skyline that included the London Eye, Big Ben and the Gherkin to name but a few. It all kicked off with the delicious voice of Emilie Sande accompanied only by a pianist, who was playing a piano covered in newspaper. After that the tempo really took off with forty members of the cast of Stomp dancing, drumming and percussing (is that a word?) on the recreated mini London Eye in the stadium. On top of all this there was a choir singing Beatles songs.
Next up was cellist and Churchill appearing out of the top of Big Ben and reciting words from Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ which was a great link back to the superb Opening ceremony. Obviously it wasn’t really Churchill, it was Timothy Spall. This was followed by newspaper clad crowds depicting the hubbub of London. The whole thing then slowed a little for the arrival of the VIPs; Jacques Rogge (President of the IOC) who seems to make even the dullest accountant I have ever met seem exciting and prince Harry representing the Royal family. Clearly he was never going to match his grandmother’s arrival at the opening ceremony! Obviously this was followed by our rather uninspiring, in my opinion, national anthem.
The whole show was a celebration of Britain and the next vignette was real class. It was the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 countdown by Michael Caine from the ‘Italian Job’ and then the iconic three-wheeled van of Trotter’s Independent Trading blew apart and out jumped, yes you guessed it, Del Boy and Rodney in their Batman and Robin costumes. A sublime moment and a nod to one of Britain’s greatest ever comedy shows; Only Fools And Horses.
The mood then turned very much to party as madness were driven around the arena playing ”Our House” from the back of a truck. This tempo was kept up by the Massed Guards Bands with a wonderful rendition of Blur’s “Parklife”. Just when you thought it couldn’t get better the stadium was filled with cyclists wearing the most amazing geometric and fluorescent hats. Two of them on tricycles which had Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe as passengers. So we were treated to a fabulous version of “West Ends Girls” on bicycles and tricycles. Could this happen anywhere but the UK? I doubt it!
One Direction were next, like Madness they were on the back of a truck, which sadly wasn’t headed to the tip. OK I have to begrudgingly admit they were at least in tune, but I still don’t like them. Interestingly they were one of just a few acts whose name was flashed onto the screen when they appeared. After that it was back to another great number from the cast of Stomp. That percussion sounded like ”Spice Up Your Life” to me. was that deliberate? Who knows? An incredibly talented dance troupe who I think were called Spelbound were next to take the stage. They performed a great routine to the Beatles Sergeant Pepper classic “A Day In The Life”
To keep up the 60s vibe Kinksmeister Ray Davies came on to sing his timeless and classic love song to London; “Waterloo Sunset”. eliciting some great ‘sha la la-ing’ from the audience in the process. Emilie Sande made a return next, minus the newspaper piano and sang over a film montage of some of London 2012′s most tearful moments. The three hundred or so flag bearers entered the arena after that, including super sailor Ben Ainslie fo Britain. Elbow soundtracked this whole piece with a great little set that included the beautiful “Open Arms”. The athletes followed the arrival of the flag bearers and they were corralled into the sections of the union jack which formed the floor of the stadium. Apparently this version of the flag was designed by Damien Hirst. Indian drummers then accompanied the construction of a large structure made up of more than three hundred white boxes. One to represent each Olympic event. The backing track to this was Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. I had momentary butterflies while wishing and hoping that Kate might actually appear herself. But alas she didn’t.
Apparently one of the traditions of the closing ceremony is that it contains the last medal presentation. It is for the Mens Marathon which took place earlier in the day and was won by Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda. This was followed by a thank you and recognition for all the volunteers, or Games makers as they were known from all the athletes. This was followed by a spectacular light show to the unmistakable sound of Queen’s mighty “Bohemian Rhapsody” followed by a children’s signing choir singing John Lennon’s “Imagine”. This segued into a film clip of Lennon singing the song himself. Apparently Yoko Ono commissioned a special remaster of the song for the ceremony. At the same time a 3D image of John Lennon’s face was built on stage. This was a prelude to the main musical events.
George Michael took to the stage for his first live performance since his life threatening illness he sang “Freedom 90″ his new single ”White Light” which is in fact all about his brush with death. He seemed fit and well and on really good form. I’m not sure I like the new facial hair style though, perhaps it will grow on me! Ricky off of the Kaiser Chiefs was driven to the stage as a scooter pillion passenger singing “Pinball Wizard”. I have gone off the Kaisers of late, by I must admit they did a storming version of the Who’s classic. The next part had me positively tingling with anticipation; A series of short film and audio clips of David Bowie. Would he actually appear? Surely not? And surely he didn’t. But his 1980 hit “Fashion” was used as a backdrop to a showcase of British fashion which included a weird march around the stadium from a series of models including Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss.
A huge skeleton of what might have been a viking boat was pulled on stage and the hidden figurehead was none other than Annie Lennox. She performed ”Little Bird” which was used on the soundtrack of Coppola’s film version of Bram Stoker’s classic story Dracula. The much rumoured Pink Floyd appearance turned out to be nothing more than Ed Sheerhan, Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford doing the Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” accompanied by a tightrope walker who recreated the Floyd album cover with the flaming man.
Russell Brand arrived on stage in what looked like the Scooby Doo van and he was singing, he’s not a bad singer either. He got out of the van to perform the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus”. The van begat a giant inflatable octopus from which Fatboy Slim did a brief DJ set featuring his own hits ”Right Here Right Now” and “Rockerfeller Skank”. Jessie J then sang “Price Tag” in an open top car she was joined by Tinie Tempah then Taio Cruz with “Dynamite”. All in open top cars. Then all three of them took the stage for a creditable performance of the Bee Gees disco classic ”You Should Be Dancing”. As they were performing in front of a drum kit marked up with the name of Beady Eye it was obvious who was going to be on later!
A group of London Black cabs entered stadium and performed a kind of synchronised dance. Then five of them moved to the centre of the arena and were lit up with some spectacular lighting arrays. This wasn’t the best kept secret of the show, but guess who the passengers in these five cabs were? Yes it was Scary, Sporty, Baby, Ginger and Pouty…. oops sorry I mean Posh. It was the return of the Spice Girl. They kicked off with possibly one of the greatest pop singles of the 90s (OK that doesn’t mean you have to like it); ”Wannabe”. They followed this with the samba rhythmed ”Spice Up Your Life” which they performed while being driven around the stadium atop the cabs that brought them in. As expected after seeing their drum kit earlier Beady Eye were next. Thankfully they didn’t play any of their own stuff, just a cover of “Wonderwall” which seemed to go down really well as a sing along with the crowd. Liam seemed quite nervous to me and is his voice a little rough these days?
ELO’s “Mr Blue Sky” was played as a backdrop for a section pioneering flight. This included flying bikes and a failed human cannonball who just happened to be Monty Python star Eric Idle who led the audience in a marvellous sing-alonga-python version of “Always look On The Bright Side Of Life”. he even made a great comedic attempt to join in with some Bollywood style dancing. This whole piece was perhaps the equivalent of the Mr Bean set in the opening ceremony. It ended with the real and successful firing of a human cannonball.
Matt Bellamy and the boys from Muse were the next to appear and they performed their song “Survival” which was commissioned for the Olympics. It’s good and their performance was excellent as usual but this is a long way from being my favourite Muse song. Interestingly, as some have likened Muse to Queen they were followed by a film clip of Freddie Mercury performing some improv jazz scat and despite being dead for more than twenty years the audience were enraptured and joined in the whole Freddie call and response thing. This proved to be the overture to Brian May’s appearance and it’s fair to say that he’s quite a good guitarist isn’t he? As the unmistakable riff to “We Will Rock You” began and Brian was joined by Roger Taylor I was briefly worried that Adam Lambert or someone similar might step onto the stage. Thankfully it was Jessie J, and inspired choice in my opinion. She did a great vocal on the song which never tried to emulate the late, great Mr Mercury.
It was then time to return to the formal activities which meant the Greek national anthem followed by a Welsh Male Choir version of the Olympic Anthem. This was sealed with the Brazilian national anthem and a formal handing over of the Olympic flag from London’s Mayor Boris Johnson to the Mayor of Rio De Janeiro via Jacques Rogge. The Brazilians then put on a samba fuelled show to let the world know what to expect in 2016. This culminated in an appearance by one of their greatest sports ambassadors; Pele. Then we had more formal stuff with speeches from Seb Coe and Jacques Rogge. Seb was quite inspiring Jacque was once again the definition of dull in my opinion. The remaining action was the extinguishing of the flame. This began with Take That (thankfully without Robbie) performing the appropriate ”Rule The World”. It continued with Darcy Bussell flying in as a Phoenix to join two hundred other ballet dances for an exciting modern ballet.
The petals of the cauldron where the Olympic flame burned were then lowered and were slowly extinguished and at this point I thought that was the end. However there was more to come in the shape of the Who. They were on top form and for a pensioner Roger Daltrey’s vocal power is still damned good. They closed with a rousing version of “My Generation” accompanied by yet another magnificent firework display.
I fell a little deflated after such a brilliant two weeks but so very proud to be British. I truly believe that we really showed the world what we are capable of as a country. Not just in the Olympic events but by how we put on such a brilliant event in itself. In spite of the little hiccups before the start (G4S etc) we really delivered this in style and won a whole treasure box of medals too. So let me take this opportunity to congratulate and thank everyone in Team GB, the organisers, all the other competitors, the BBC, the volunteers/ Games Makers and anyone else who was involved in this remarkable event.
Was this the best Olympics ever? I believe it as. Rio follow that!
Most of the film clips from the ceremony are IOC copyright and therefore difficult to show. So here are two songs that sum things up in a simple way.
Big congratulations to Bradley Wiggins who yesterday became the first Brit to win the Tour de France in the whole of its 108 year history. I hope this is an excellent spur for the Olympics too. For most of the Tour Bradley was unassailable, particularly the time trials. But there was also some brilliant team work and support from Team Sky. Even the French seem to have taken to Bradley with some pundits referring to him as Le Wiggo.
Bradley is a big Paul Weller fan apparently and this is a music blog not a cycling blog so here is a Paul Weller song for the talented Mr Wiggins, followed by a few cycling related songs. Enjoy them and feel free to suggest your own bike related music.
“Sunflower” – Paul Weller. I chose this for two reasons; first it’s one of my favourite Weller songs and secondly the sunflower is yellow just like the leader’s jersey in the Tour de France.
“Bike” – Pink Floyd. A great track, quaintly English and very Syd Barrett
“Bicycle Race” – Queen. This one was probably the obvious choice and who can forget all those naked women on bicycles? I was a teenager at the time, so I couldn’t!
It would seem that the talented Miss Adkins aka Adele continues to break records. This time it’s a sales record, her album ’21′ has now sold more in the UK than Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ making her album the 8th best-selling UK album ever in the UK, according to the Official UK Chart Company. At the current rate ’21′ is being shipped I reckon she’ll soon overtake Dire Straits‘ ‘Brothers In Arms’ and Pink Floyd’s classic ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’. I wonder if anyone will try to claim that ’21′ is in fact an alternative soundtrack to ‘The Wizard Of Oz’? Somehow I doubt it. Anyway big congratulations go to Adele for yet another chart feat! Check out the top ten best selling UK albums below.
01 GREATEST HITS – QUEEN (5,863,000 sales)
02 SGT PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND – THE BEATLES (5,044,000)
03 GOLD: GREATEST HITS – ABBA (4,989,000)
04 WHAT’S THE STORY MORNING GLORY – OASIS (4,517,000)
05 THRILLER – MICHAEL JACKSON (4,248,000)
06 BROTHERS IN ARMS – DIRE STRAITS (4,152,000)
07 THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON – PINK FLOYD (4,114,000)
08 21 – ADELE (4,020,000)
09 BAD – MICHAEL JACKSON (3,959,000)
10 GREATEST HITS II – QUEEN (3,887,000)
I’m sure that you’ve heard Katy Perry’s new single “The One That Got Away” which is clearly yet another slice of perfect perry pop and a great radio song. But what intrigues me about it is the line about making out in the lyrics. It reads ‘We make out in your Mustang to Radiohead’. Firstly we get Katy Perry mentioning Radiohead, which I feel makes for quite strange bedfellows. Secondly, does anyone actually make out to Radiohead? I love the band but they wouldn’t be my choice for a sultry, seductive night in with Catwoman! I would prefer a bit of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ album.
Having listened to the song again though it got me thinking about some of my favourite songs that mention bands or singers. You can enjoy five of them below. Let me know what your favourite songs that mention other artists are;
“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” – Vampire Weekend – mentions Peter Gabriel
“Destroy Rock n Roll” – Mylo – mentions a cast of thousands including Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, David Bowie, Van Halen, Madonna, Huey Lewis and the News, The Cars, Herbie Hancock, Bonnie Tyler, Stevie Nicks, Men at Work, ZZ Top, Paul McCartney, Weird Al Yankovic, Cyndi Lauper, Pink Floyd, Pretenders, Billy Joel, Billy Idol, Elton John, Neil Young, Sheena Easton, Patty Smyth and Scandal, Fashion, Big Country, Morris Day and The Time, John Lennon, Apollonia 6, REO Speedwagon, David Gilmour, Rolling Stones, Pat Benatar, Hall and Oates, Wham!, Rebbie Jackson, Adam Ant, Bananarama, Christine McVie, Queen, John Cougar Mellencamp, U2, Fleetwood Mac, The Alan Parsons Project, Rick Springfield, Thompson Twins, Missing Persons, Duran Duran, Police, Eurythmics, Culture Club, Boy George, Band Aid, Stevie Wonder and Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
“White Man In The Hammersmith Palais” – The Clash – mentions Dillinger, Leroy Smart, Delroy Wilson, Ken Boothe and the Four Tops.
“God” – John Lennon – mentions Elvis and the Beatles
“Punky Reggae Party” – Bob Marley and the Wailers – mentions the Wailers, Maytals, Damned, Jam, Dr Feelgood and the Clash
“All The Young Dudes” – Mott The Hoople – mentions T Rex and is easily my favourite song that mentions other bands or artists.
So if I were to say to you that earlier tonight I went to see a 68-year-old pensioner perform a thirty odd year old album it wouldn’t sound particularly exciting would it? But if I said that I’d been to see Roger Waters (off of Pink Floyd) perform the classic Floyd double album ‘The Wall‘ in it’s entirety backed by a superb band, amazing light show, pyrotechnics, massive marionettes, incredible film and animation and a flying pig you might think otherwise right? (But then you’ve probably already read the title of this post anyway!)
Firstly let me thank my friend and work colleague Grant who gave me a ticket for the show. He had already attended last week on the night that remaining Floyd members David Gilmour and Nick Mason joined Mr Waters on stage. So whilst I may have missed the mini Floyd reunion I did see the show and it was something else. Regular readers know that I have been going to gigs now for nearly 40 years and this show is probably straight into my top 5.
Roger Waters performance was commanding and immaculate. The projections on the wall and the other special effects made it more than just another rock show. This was a rock spectacle, a truly spectacular show. I have been listening to the album again these past few days and seeing it performed live makes you realise what a stupendous album it really is. It contains my second favourite Floyd song ever in “Comfortably Numb” My favourite is actually “Wish You Were Here” But ‘The Wall’ is an album I can still listen to end to end. All I needed tonight was a good spliff and it would have been perfect. Snowy White‘s guitar playing was stupendous, especially the solo on “Comfortably Numb”
Many people see the Who as a band who are Rock Opera experts and with ‘Tommy’ and ‘Quadrophenia’ they clearly are damned good. However in the annals of rock opera ‘The Wall’ stands with the best and for an album released nearly 32 years ago really stands the test of time. essentially it’s Waters’ first solo album that just happened to be recorded with Pink Floyd. It is very much about his life and the experiences that shaped him as a man. He is clearly more comfortable in his own skin now than he was all those years ago, but he still tells the story well.
If you get a chance to see this show do whatever it takes; sell your granny, pimp out your budgie or send your kids out to sweep chimneys, anything but make sure you don’t miss the opportunity!
Please note that none of the videos or pictures are from the show I saw, just in case you wondered. Mainly because my camera skills are pretty crap!
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