Thursday 24 May 2012

The Stone Roses - live at Warrington Parr Hall

OK I wasn't there, but the tingles of excitement I got yesterday from the announcement that the Stone Roses were playing a 'secret' gig at Warrington Parr Hall turned into rushes as I watched John Robb's twitter feed from the gig last night.

Rushes from a Twitter feed!!! What will it be like when I see them in Amsterdam in a couple of weeks time?!

This was the setlist; kicking off with 'Adored', followed by the pure pop of 'Mersey Paradice' and 'Sally Cinnamon' before the glorious 'Made of Stone' with that incredible chorus 'Sometimes I fantasise when the streets are cold and lonely'.

 They didn't let up, blasting through an hour of some of the most glorious guitar pop recorded, 'Where Angels Play', 'Shoot You Down' and 'Tightrope' (reinvented apparaently as a band rather than acoustic performance) were followed by an exceptional closing trilogy of 'Waterfall', 'She Bangs The Drums' and 'Love Spreads'.

So they didn't let up, but they held plenty in reserve; 'Fools Gold', 'This Is The One', 'I Am The Resurrection', 'Ten Storey Love Song' and 'One Love' to name a few.

I expect the Roses to tinker with their set through June until it is honed to perfection for the Heaton Park shows at the end of the month.

I haven't felt this excited about a band in a long time, reading the reviews this morning has left me glowing - Squire on fire, Mani and Reni locked in a groove (Reni with a double bass drum) and Ian Brown's singing on form and his commanding presence being felt throughout the crowd.

With Amsterdam, Heaton Park and T in the Park to look forward to, I cannot wait!

The Roses are a special band, one that unites people, sets styles, makes people talk in awe; the four of them gel in a way that others can only dream of.

The Roses are back...long live the Roses.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

So I had started the year quite well in terms of regular blog posts but a rather hectic 6 weeks or so through March and into April and then a lovely holiday in the South of France has meant that I have really not posted or blogged about a number of things that I have wanted to. So count on this as a round up of my albums of 2012 so far...I had originally intended to do reviews for all of them!

Expect my next installment to include; Admiral Fallow, Grimes, Miaoux Miaoux and Dexys.

2 Bears - Be Strong
Joe Goddard from Hot Chip and friends have produced an album that is practically a love letter to dance music and clubbing. Opener 'The Birds & The Bees' is perfect for a sunny day, 'Time In My Mind' sounds like something Mike Skinner may have mis-placed, 'Work'is heavier and progressive while 'Church' is suitably moving. A great album.

New Build - Yesterday was Lived and Lost
Felix and Simon from Hot Chip/LCD Soundsystem formed their own label and band to show that it isn't just Joe and Alexis from Hot Chip that have all the songwriting talent. Live they combine guitar pop with funk, soul and house...they are just as good on record.'Medication' is brilliant soulful guitar pop, 'Do You Not Feel Loved?' would fit effortlessly on to any Hot Chip record and 'Finding Reasons' is laid back bliss.

Lightships - Electric Cables
Lightships is Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclubs 'solo' project. A number of years in the making it has all the trademarks that Love has practically licensed during his years with Teenage Fanclub. Gorgeous vocals, stunning harmonies, blissful guitar, plenty of references to the sun, sunshine and city living....

Alabama Shakes - Boys and Girls
Opening with the tremendous 'Hold On', Alabama Shakes set their stall from the word go - raw and soulful. An old school garage band. The guitars, production and vocals are all served raw and pure. Turn it up and blast it out. Brittany Howard has an astonishing voice, look out for producers and songwriters seeking her out for guest vocals.

Django Django - Django Django
Gaining increasing exposure from the best kind of advertising; word-of-mouth (not to mention some very clever strategic press), Django Django's debut album is gathering a great fanbase in time for festival season and future tours.

Some great tunes

William de Vaughn - Be Thankful For What You Got
Much sampled by the Bristol scene in the 90's

I am currently digesting The Clash's triple album 'Sandista'. This is a belter!

So we've lost Donna Summer and Robin Gibb during the last week. Incredible talent, both have soundtracked many a post club party.

Fancy the 16-minute Patrick Cowley mix of 'I Feel Love'?
Or how about some classic Bee Gees?

Thursday 17 May 2012

Goodbye and thanks to BBC Introducing in Scotland

When an announcement was made by the BBC that they were making significant changes to their Radio 1 Introducing shows, there was predictable outcry and dismay from musicians and fans of independent and DIY music in Scotland. A pro-active and constructive challenge to this decision was led by the excellent Scottish blogger The Popcop and Paul Downie from DIY promoter/label Pelmet Nights.

Hopes were raised thanks to a valiant effort from music fans; over 7,000 signatures on an online petition, there was a motion in Scottish Parliament and the delivery of the petition to the House of Commons by Jason Popcop and Paul.

Sadly, the stamp of change has been sanctioned by the BBC. There will now be one single Introducing show for the UK rather than the 4 current platforms for bands/musicians and artists in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

All of the acts I work/have worked with (Futuristic Retro Champions, Miaoux Miaoux, Nevada Base, Sonny Marvello and Vigo Thieves) have received support and airplay from BBC Introducing, it definitely helps in a number of ways.

  1. Status/Recognition/Kudos Getting a quote from Ally McCrae or his predecessor Vic Galloway and then sticking BBC Radio 1 Introducing afterwards definitely helps your website or press release to look good. It will also likely attract more fans to the band.
  2. Confidence - Every single time one of the acts mentioned above received confirmation they were getting played on Radio 1 caused a great deal of excitement. It is Radio 1, even if it is the middle of the night. The exceitement, exposure and words of ecnouragement from Ally or Vic resulted in an increase in confidence. Every band/artists needs that to move forward,
  3. Promotion/Contacts The right people do listen to these shows promoters, press, record companies (big, small and teeny tiny)- you are likely to get gig offers or something after airplay.
  4. PRS money Getting airplay on BBC Radio 1, even in the middle of the night/early morning, means PRS money. A nice reward for the hours writing, practising and recording. Even better if you get a live session.
Every band/artist has dreams. Hell, for some of the acts that have been played on BBC Introducing that is them making it’….at least until after airplay, that magical 3 or 4 minutes on the nations largest radio channel can give them the confidence to see where they could get to next.

There are two sides to the tale though and the BBCs argument (posted below) for continuing with their plans is a strong one.

I guess what annoys me the most about this decision to axe the Scottish Introducing show is the simple fact that Scottish independent and DIY music and the whole unsigned scene is so important to such a large number of people. That may or may not reflect in the listening figures mentioned below, however the on air time of midnight onwards isnt exactly ideal for people who have work in the morning. I would hazard a guess that the majority of these listens/stats came from the online version, available for 7-days after the show has been aired.

The future - post BBC Radio 1 Introducing in Scotland
BBC Radio 1 Introducing was probably the definitive platform for new music in Scotland. It was recognition, kudos, a confidence is going.

We will have Vic Galloways BBC Scotland Show. Jim Gellatly has his In:Demand show that goes out across Scotland on a number of stations including Clyde 1 (to considerably more listeners than BBC introducing and at a more convenient time).

We have T-Break, GoNorth, King Tuts Summer Nights and New Years Revolution, Glasgow PodCART, Detour, MILK, Tenement TV, Radio Magnetic..Concepts, venues, promoters, internet radio, internet TV..

Could any of these go on to replace BBC Radio 1 Introducing in Scotland? They probably could if funded correctly so that they could do it full-time.

Collectively getting some of these people/groups together could easily create something quite special. They are already doing that in their own way.

Just a couple of months ago the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) award started, offering the winner the fantastic sum of £20,000 and excellent exposure. Each artist that made the list also received £1,000. Young entrepreneur Richy Muirhead has also worked wonders to generate some excitement and recognition for acts with his own Scottish Alternative Music Awards (the SAMAs).

However these excellent additions to the Scottish Music Scene are annual events. What is the for music fans who crave a weekly fix that can replace Introducing?
What can be done? - A pooling of resources?
There are some incredibly talented, energetic, passionate and obsessive music lovers out there doing all they can to promote new/unsigned/independent and DIY music in Scotland. I have met many of them through my management of bands and enjoyment of music and live gigs. I am constantly bowled over by their energy and passion. OK I know I have already mentioned energy and passion in this paragraph but they are two things that are incredibly important in making something work. I dont want to name names (although I kind of did in the section above), but there are enough people who could come together to create their own Introducing show fire it out weekly as a podcast; have sessions, maybe once a month record an online video/TV show.

My suggestion is to get these people together in a room, crack open some beers and, come up with ideas, debate, what do we want as a platform for new music in Scotland, what do we need, what do they 7,000+ people who bothered to sign the petition want and need?

A lot of these people work individually, or as a couple. I often wonder what could be done if they worked collectively. Even at times.

Of course perhaps their strength is that they get to do their own thing, highlight their own tastes, have fun doing it their way.

To end
Well it is sad news for the Scottish music scene. To get that Radio 1 airplay will become even harder. On the flipside, the new national show should be excellent and result in bands gaining even more confidence, exposure, opportunities and recognition I do hope that the people involved with Introducing in Scotland will get an opportunity to play a part in that.

This is what the BBC have had to say today in their final conclusions:

In addition we are approving the proposed replacement of the current late night opt-out
programmes on Radio 1 with a single programme that offers a UK-wide platform for

undiscovered, unsigned music and emerging talent from England, Scotland, Wales and
Northern Ireland.

In response to this particular change, we were presented with three separate petitions
protesting against the proposals. These campaigns, which were supported by established
musicians, noted that the current programmes provide the only opportunity on Radio 1 to

showcase up-and-coming bands and solo artists to both a nations and UK-wide audience.

They expressed concern that a single UK wide programme would lead to fewer live
sessions and outside broadcasts from musicians in the nations. In Scotland, the petition
had 7,105 signatories; with 6,359 in Northern Ireland and 556 in Wales.

We recognise the high level of response to these petitions and the level of feeling these
particular proposals have generated.

Although the restructure would mean losing the equivalent of four hours of airtime each
week, it is likely that each new music track will be broadcast to a much larger audience

than currently (across the whole UK), and we take some assurance from the Executives
commitment that the new programme is likely to have a higher proportion of first-play
new music each week (that is, relying less on music repeated from previous weeks), and
will seek to include artists from across the UK.

We are also taking into account that the current opt-out programmes reach relatively few
listeners each week: 57,000 in England, 9,000 in Scotland, 12,000 in Wales and 4,000 in

Northern Ireland. We accept that this is in part due to its late timeslot, but nevertheless
the low audience, together with the relatively high costs of producing three separate

programmes, means that the current offering represents poor value for money.

In agreeing to the proposed change we also believe that both Radio 1 and the BBC more
generally will continue to support new music and unsigned and emerging artists very

strongly, in particular through:

Radio 1s specialist music programming every weeknight from 7pm to 4am and for
twelve consecutive hours on Friday and Saturday nights

The BBC‟s wider platform for supporting new music, BBC Introducing, a
collaboration between Radio 1, 1Xtra, 6 Music, Asian Network, Radio 3, Local May 2012 17
Radio and Nations radio stations intended to showcase unsigned, self-signed and
other emerging musical talent from the UK. This platform will remain unchanged.