The Basildon boys are back, and like a dutiful soldier I naturally attended their only 2017 UK date, in the hallowed halls of the old Olympic Stadium in Stratford. Regular readers will appreciate that I have been following this band nigh on 27 years, missing only one tour, so here are some highlights with the usual apologies for poor filming techniques;
Here is an amusing and earnest chat with frontman Dave ‘Call Me Dave’ Gahan, from the frequently excellent Nerdist podcast. Unfortunately we missed the first track due to some poor time management issues, but the party only really got rocking when they delved into the back catalogue and the crowd rose to its feet;
As something of an obsessive list person it was brilliant to finally tick off some songs of theirs I have never seen live, and for the ‘proper’ fans I think the two track Martin Gore mid-set sequence was the best I’ve witnessed during the numerous times I’ve seen them;
If you put a gun to my head I think this was the best track of the evening, another back catalogue highlight that chimes with the ethos of their recent album Spirit, which I confidently assert is their best album in a decade;
So yet another great evening, somewhat overshadowed by the events at London Bridge that we learnt about once we retired to a pub in Bow for a final nightcap, but let’s just leave that event undiscussed as that’s the antithesis of what those fuckers want us to do. Instead, enjoy this main set closer which is always an exhilarating experience, 60,000 people in arm swinging unison which is what is uniquely great about these big, stadium events;
I’m a mere twenty minutes into this documentary about Iggy & The Stooges and have already learnt three valuable things – a) Iggy likes to be interviewed in the laundry room of his home, b) He was raised in a trailer that was identical to that of the Doris Day picture The Long, Long Trailer and c) Iggy for president – he’s a fucking survivor. Jim Jarmusch has assembled this fantastic documentary, it is quite amusing to me to finally realise that the Stooges split four years before the Sex Pistols arrived, and I haven’t even got into the Berlin / Bowie era yet – so talk about being ahead of the curve;
EDIT – Having been raised by my brother on a diet of 1960’s musical imagination – The Doors, Who, Zepplin and of course the overrated behemoths of the Beatles & Stones I always knew there was a missing piece between the decades, beyond the understood mix of MC5, The Ramones and the Velvets, and I’m sure half a dozen other bands that Q magazine subscibers could lecturer me on. Great documentary, the equal of those great music history efforts that BBC 4 have been producing over the past few years…
I think some of you might be interested in seeing this;
Ah, how appropriate, I see on preview that the festive WordPress snow has started to drift, an altogether appropriate underscore to our final concert of the year. I first saw The Cure just over twenty-five years ago during a one-off festival type day they were headlining at Crystal Palace, supported by such luminaries as Lush, All About Eve and James. There were always a favorite when I was growing up, like many moody teenagers I gravitated to their post-punk, gloom laden aural ascendance, not unlike my similar devotion to the likes of Nick Cave, Depeche Mode and NIN, alongside the whole Madchester scene and so-called American alt-rock popularized by Pixies, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and others – I wasn’t exactly a Stock, Aiken & Waterman kinda guy. It’s not as if I haven’t had numerous chances to see them since they are regular tours but I’ve just never got around to it, they kinda fell out of favor once I left home and explored new musical arenas, but like those first flutterings with music they’ll always have a special place in my ears, if you know what I mean. So with them embarking on yet another epic European tour I and an old friend took a long trip to the wild veldts of Wembley last week, for the first night of their three date residency. True to form they were pretty darn epic, now let me count the ways…..
First of all I need to apologize for the shaky-cam footage, I’ve curated these tracks according to my personal favorites rather than the quality of the filming, and I don’t think I’ve timed a gig arrival better in my life – they ambled on stage literally twenty seconds after we’d taken our seats. You must admire their eclectic approach to touring, usually, in my experience, a band has a well rehearsed, relatively fixed set-list, that it might interchange three or four tracks or the running order a little just to keep them alert and keep repeat audiences fresh. Not so with these portly smudged vampires, The Cure really love to wallow in their four decade career and thirteen studio albums, while also unearthing rarities and tracks not played in years. Last Thursday I experienced some of that, they played a couple of tracks from almost every album from their inception to the late 1990’s, and even managed to squeeze in an unreleased track and a one-off single for a film soundtrack. I’d have preferred a few more album tracks from Faith, Pornography or Disintegration but hey, you can’t have everything. This was a particular highlight;
After the storming first third which comprised of well-known singles and appreciated album tracks they slipped into more recent material mode, well, if you consider stuff recorded since the early 1990’s ‘recent ‘that is. This was a bit of a come down after the high energy start but that’s the risk with a band with such a vintage career, but once they got back into the first of three lengthy encores my energy levels started to replenish, particularly with this essential live track;
Obligatory set list here, for your perusal. Although this was an epic gig the band have gone to insanity shredding levels in recent years, giving the die-hard fans what they want which I think, from what I’ve read over the years, only the Grateful Dead in their heyday can equal them in terms of duration and adoration. So, just over twenty-five years later for me they came full circle from with an almost identical final burst of nostalgia, two storming tracks from their inception which formed a final electrifying echo to a fantastic live experience – I really must do this more often;
Well, fellow fiends, have you recovered from our most blood thirsty night of the year? I am still coming to the terms that one of my heroes, John Carpenter, was not only coming to the UK to perform a set-list culled from his hugely admired films, but that he would be performing in a venue that when it was announced lay dormant about ten minutes walk from my flat. Now, yes I have moved in the intervening few months, but the Troxy is still an easily accessible venue from my Isle of Dogs lair, and frankly there was no way I was missing this bucket-list chance to score another life-goal. Some of the reports of previous dates in the tour have been less than stellar, due to what sounds like some unscrupulous promoters who have drastically oversold the venue rather than any issue with the sound or performance. For this inaugural London evening instead we had the pleasure of a fine venue, an enthusiastic crowd and the benefit of it actually being Halloween night, so there was a palpable roaor when he and his crew took to the stage for a sonic shattering experience;
Well, OK, I’m dipping into the realms of hyperbole. This was a throughly entertaining evening, the sound and venue were great, and it was awe-inspiring to see the soundtracks to such beloved films of mine as those attached here and The Fog, and Big Trouble In Little China, and They Live played by the great man himself. That said there was a fair amount of filler, the new material is fine, its good background web surfing / writing music as far as I’m concerned, but it didn’t exactly come to life in the venue. I’m sure you’re all aware of the set-list which doesn’t appear to have altered from the North American strand of the tour, nor indeed does Carpenters pre-rehearsed banter between tracks. Still, as I anticipated just the audience brought out the more cult attuned London film set, some of which had made an amusing effort to dress up as the likes of Rowdy Roddy Piper or Snake Plisken, although no-one that I saw made a full Michael Myers effort….
I don’t think opening the set with two of his strongest tracks was necessarily the best strategy, and leaving the likes of Christine for the encore, as with the best will in the world that isn’t exactly ois most memorable contribution to the composer canon. Still, hopefully the footage above and below speaks for itself, you either like his stuff or you don’t, and given the timing and its influence I’d judge the biggest audience reaction was for the film Halloween, whose opening frantic oscillations brought a grin to my eyes. A fantastic evening which makes up the lack of the possible BFI appearance, so catch up on tour if you can;
Oh yes, we are starting to get excited now for the Halloween event, and be assured that there is more Carpenter to come;
My minimalist experience continues, with a Saturday night at the Barbican which was throughly fascinating. I joke among friends that I am dragged to these experiences, but they are terrific fun, broadening the horizons for the Menagerie whom really doesn’t appreciate the influence of these inceptors to the music which has been the soundtrack to our lives – techno, post-punk, and much of my favourite movie composers. Truth be told the first act wasn’t particuraly inspiring, but the main event was quite remarkable, a benchmark for all the music that has been the soundtrack to one’s life over the years. Yes, I understand in concept that every performance of this piece ‘in C’ marks it as unique and precious, but after that my critical powers diminish other than to say it was terrific, so enough, and here enjoy a similar performance;
TWhat madness is this, a music post? In the film obsessed Menagerie? Well, I just thought it might be fun to throw a few links together following a very successful weekend, I a do have another music event to cover which I saw a couple of weeks ago, we’ll have to come back to that later as I’m struggling to find appropriate links. Anyway, this weekend I was dragged along to the On Blackheath music festival, nestled deep in the suburbs of South East London, with the peospect of seeing the Saturday headline act Primal Scream as the main attraction. What was the second best thing about this as a forty(coughs) something? That within 45 minutes of the last chord reverberating I was back home in the Isle Of Dogs, relaxing with my thoughts, I don’t think I’ve been to any musical event, exhausted, drunk and sweaty, and got back to the warm safety of my bed after a ten minute walk and a handful of stops on the DLR. A fascinating insight to you all I’m sure, so lets move on with a few comments and some alternate sourced live footage;
Have you heard of A.R. Kane? No, me neither, but you wiser, NME gobbling musos may be aware of this quietly influential yet still relatively unknown band. Shoe gazing was a a genre I grew up with, alongside the rise of Madchester and the first flowerings of House and Techno bands such as Lush, Slowdive, Ride and The Pale Saints were drenching indie clubs around the country in dry-ice, strobe lights, taty cardigans and M head haircuts. Little did I know that as always with these things some unrecognized and little known artisans that set the aural landscape for these movements, as A.R. Kane are said to have heralded the entire genre of so-called dram-pop, and were a massive influence on the intense My Bloody Valentine. I love that, just like with movies, there are always some progenitors who build a unique, unrealized genre, then for numerous technological or aesthetic reasons the style gains purchase in the cultural DNA, like the obscure and unknown Stranger On the The Third Floor was the the first fatal kiss of film-noir that birthed a still potent genre that continues today, Its a shame they played so early in the day in one of the side tents but the crowd for them swelled as their set got stronger, and even afflicted with some technical issues they ended on a psychedelic high.
I don’t have a huge amount to say about Hot Chip, I think they’re OK and have a handful of groovylicous danceable tracks, and live they were fairly strong and kept the crowd warmed up for the main act through what was slowly turning to be a drizzly and rather miserable afternoon, weatherwise. So yeah, they were pretty good. (shrugs). That’s it. Let’s move on to the main attraction….
I’d seen Primal Scream in Hammersmith about a decade ago, always one of my favorite bands of that era as opposed to The Stone Roses or The Happy Mondays whom I think have dated quite considerably, but despite some ups and downs they have kept rocking over the past thirty years which is pretty good going. Naturally it was great to see three tracks from their seminal album Screamadelica plus a few other hits, they took a while to get going but once they launched into Swastika Eyes the groundwork was set for a storming final session;
It’s time for our annual check in with the great man himself, especially now that the tour has begun in earnest. I have reviewed the set-list and it is everything a JC fan could ever want, and when this kicked in with the visuals I actually burst out laughing. Roll on Halloween, and if my social media accounts are anything to go by just about everyone in London even remotely connected to the genre film industry will be gathered for one great night…..;
A rare bit of high culture this week as I was dragged along to a concert on the Southbank, part of the Royal Festival hall’s season of celebrating the 80th birthday of discordant minimalist Steve Reich. Further details here, I can’t even remotely offer any analysis of the material from any position of musical authority, other than to say it was an amazing performance just from a sheer concentration and focus perspective, and was quite an experience;
Oh how original I hear you cry, yet another bloody JC music post eh? Well, it’s my blog so you’ll just have to suffer the consequences, and this sounds great in full HD;
He’s confirmed he’s doing many of the classics alongside his new material, I eagerly look forward to the setlist when the tour begins, and it should be interesting to see how else is in the crowd at the Troxy come Halloween given that its his only UK date. Now, if the BFI can get their act together and convince him to do a Q&A when he’s in the vicinity……
Just logged into twitter, saw the prompt ‘What’s happening?’ in the search field. Twenty seconds later I muttered ‘god-damn right, what the fuck is happening?’;
‘I am here to kick-ass and play throbbing synth beats…and I’m all out of plectrums’. Or something;
New album out on the 15th, and a tour in October. I’m a happy man….
It seems more than a little flippant and self centred to post something somewhat inconsequential on such a horrible day, but that’s what the fuckers want us to do isn’t it? So pushing events to one side its been a whirlwind week for personal reasons, I won’t bore you with the details but the position this country has gone to when it comes to housing is a cluster-fuck of generational dimensions. I had a slight respite from these problems by visiting the opera last week, not an unknown event but given this was third visit in fourteen years I wouldn’t exactly call myself an aficionado or anything, even if this was the final part of the Philip Glass trilogy, some footage from another performance can be seen here;
There’s not much material leaked from the ENO production other than that provided below, but I can confirm that visually this was amazing, particularly in the latter acts when they broke the scale of the space to gave definition to the arena in a more three dimensional plane of axis opposed to the closer opening movements. The choice of jugglers as some theatrical symbol waned between thrilling to distracting, but the most importantly of all the music was stunning as it built its momentum and tempo over the three hours of performance;
I’m several leagues out of my comfortable idiom but overall this was an amazing evening, we had great seats yet it wounds me that I choose to live here in one of the great cities of the world but never fully exploit its natural resources, artistic and otherwise. So here’s to the next few years, if I can manage to extricate myself from the wreckage of London’s housing environment and not be forced to move further afield;
For all the wretched losses we’ve endured over the start of this miserable year – alas Andrejz Zulawaki, director of the phenomenal Possession has just been added to the list – we’ve just received some striking news. Firstly, as anticipated, John Carpenter is coming to the UK to perform a few dates of his recent soundtrack inspired album – this fulfils one childhood Menagerie dream. Super special bonus points – the venue for the gig on Halloween no less is only the fucking Troxy which is about ten minutes walk from my flat down Commercial Road. It’s a sign gentle reader, I shall see the maestro in his undead majesty, and maybe if I can swing it, interview him as well;
I’ve surprised myself by being somewhat knocked for six by this loss, I’m not much of a music fan anymore but have always been a fan of Bowie, and I think we all kind of knew he had been ill due to that relatively recent withdrawal from public life. He was one of those figures who always formed the background of one’s life however, was always there with those immortal albums and breakthrough songs, and unlike The Beatles or the Stones whom I really couldn’t give a flying fuck about he was a genuinely inspirational figure, so this loss is deeply felt around this quiet corner of the internet. So I have a little screen orientated tribute and I’ll keep my comments to a minimum, starting with this which I was only watching last night as part of my Tarantino revisit – this might be one of the greatest sequences in his entire career, purely because of the marriage of image and music;
Any consideration of his screen persona would be redundant without that era defining turn in The Man Who Fell To Earth, probably the most successful synthesis of his stage and screen persona,
Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence received a Blu-Ray upgrade a couple of years ago and nearly made the cut here, but instead I really want to talk about Judy;
He kept acting into the 21st century, garnering some sneering plaudits for this turn as the enigmatic Nikola Tesla, and apart from critics being critics I never quite understood why. Again he was trading on his slightly mysterious, otherworldly aura which seemed perfect for this role, and so what if the accent isn’t quite identifiable?;
More esoterically here is another path paving moment, before UK actors became the charming Hollywood psychopaths de rigour as exemplified by Gary Oldman or Anthony Hopkins Bowie made a memorable appearance in this nocturnal cult classic – the fact that his name was Colin, making him Colin the Assassin is just…brilliant;
Even when cropping in so called ‘kids’ films he remaining an enigmatic entity, one day I’d love to revisit this on the big screen as I remember this film having a memorable effect on my adolescent mind, and not just because of Jennifer Connelly;
Finally something a little more personal whilst perhaps an obvious choice, but I distinctly remember seeing this on Top of The Pops back in my youth and having my ripe neural pathways frazzled by this combination of oddly violent imagery and nursery rhymed sonic sound. It remains and will always be one of my favourite songs of all time;
What an absolute wretched start to the year. This isn’t a music blog so I won’t be going there, but the legend was of course something of a screen presence as well, and frequently unfairly maligned in that area if you ask me. Nevertheless I was a huge fan of his music, his persona and his experimental brilliance, the word legend is bandied around far too often but he was unquestionably one of the most unique, envelope pushing popular pop culture artists of the past century. I’ll craft something a little more substantial when the shock has subsided, but I always loved this exchange in one of his overlooked screen appearances;
No reason, no momentum, no outside influence, no inspiration. I just stumbled across this and wanted to share, energy and purpose that needs no retreat;
A quick detour into the marshes of TV as a respite from the Herzog Hagiography – more on him coming soon – but Marty’s new series looks pretty darn exciting. I’m not sure if he’s just Exec Producing or directing the pilot as he did to get Boardwalk Empire rolling, but in any case this has a great cast and looks quite…….energetic;
Heh, a quick tour and it looks like he has directed the pilot, good news. I wonder if this might supersede that Sinatra biopic he’s been attached to for years? I’m not a particularly big fan of ole blue eyes but what with the links to the mob and his position in post war American culture that could have been terrific….
Not directed by the great man himself, but it certainly has the vibe of his work;
Coincidently this lovely looking new transfer is creeping up my Christmas wish-list…..
A rare musical interlude, as I have secured a lucrative new contract in deepest darkest Lambeth I went celebratory clubbing last night for the first time in a very long time, and saw the titan of electronica Andrew Weatherall at the Xoyo club – it was quite an experience;
I haven’t danced like that for many a moon, the club had a great atmosphere, and bizarrely I don’t even have a hangover today – that four hours of throwing shapes must have sweated the impurities out I guess. Just to confirm the rumors yes he has lost his epic beard, and for some real old school nostalgia here is his classic Essential Mix from the last century;
Took down my sixth and final gig of the year last night, some more ethereal warbling from the powerful Anna Calvi. Interesting venue which added to the ambience, and not being a music journalist you’ll forgive me for pulling the old hybrid metaphor but she was like a crooning cross between Julie Cruise, P.J. Harvey and This Mortal Coil;
I don’t know if this is her best known track but it was the highlight of the evening for me, even if David Byrne didn’t turn up to perform. Lazy;