There comes a time in the careers of certain people when they hold the whole world in the palm of their hand – or, at least, it must seem like the whole world. Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, has just arrived at that point following the massive success of his song Let Her Go. This tune, while being nowhere near his best (as anyone who knows the 2007 album Wicked Man’s Rest will attest), has that elusive quality shared by Mr Blaunt’s You’re Beautiful: it’s a song that gets to the heart of what women want to hear. Continue reading
If we ignore the fact that it’s in Hove, and it’s arguable whether eleven acts makes a festival, we’re left with the relentless march of the ‘percussive acoustic guitar’ style, an affectation shared by each act, for better or for worse. The problem I have with players like these has been well-documented, by me, and it ought to be pointed out that two of the very best exponents of this style, the late Eric Roche and the very much alive-and-gigging Thomas Leeb were, at one point, both students of mine. I didn’t teach them anything about the acoustic guitar, but that’s another matter. But I heard them develop, and I jammed with Eric on occasion, so I do know how this stuff works, and my standards are high – impressing me ain’t easy. To be fair, I doubt many of the players here give a rat’s arse what I think but that’s another thing entirely. Continue reading
Huzzah for Philip Hensher. In yesterday’s Graun it was noted that he’d refused to write the introduction to an introduction to Berlin literature for free, on the spurious grounds that writing was what he did for a living. The book’s author, Andrew Webber, apparently called him ‘priggish and ungracious’ for his stance, with the publisher, CUP, stating the following: Continue reading
If there was one thing held in common by the throngs awaiting last night’s performance of the operatic expression of Iain Banks’ rather odd but brilliant debut The Wasp Factory, it was surely a question: what the fuck? The simple fact of the matter is that not one consciousness in that ante-chamber really had a clue about what they were about to see – even had they read a review (we hadn’t, purposely), it still wouldn’t have done much more than increase the feeling that the turning of this book into opera was, well, unlikely. Perhaps it’s as well. Continue reading
There’s a fundamental problem with some kinds of music. It’s to do with environment. Pop music suits clean, medium-to-large venues, classical music needs classical venues, from country house to church to concert hall, modern jazz sounds best a long way from me. Blues/rock flourishes in sweaty, smoky clubs where you can feel the music as well as hear it. What it doesn’t want is a seated audience, a big light show, drum and keyboard risers, an amp just for feedback, a different guitar for every song. Continue reading
St George’s in Kemp Town is a funny venue – the toilets are not only outside, but down in the basement – especially for a blasphemous Irishman, but the sound isn’t as bad as it could have been, the sightlines reasonable.
The support was, er … well, let’s just say when he crossed the stage after he was done I was glad he was only going to get his drink, and not play another song.
Then, with the opening bars of Soul Limbo, it began. Continue reading
Here’s my piece on Al di Meola from Guitar and Bass magazine.
Why not read the full transcript?
This interview happened in two sections, as we were cut short by unforeseenness at Ronnie Scott’s, though it’s not the best place to interview someone, in the band room behind the stage. Al and I finished off over Skype while he was in the Ukraine a couple of days later. The xxxx indicate places where I couldn’t even guess what lay beneath the digital crackle. As with so many guitar players, Al was a most generous and patient interviewee, and I enjoyed our chat immensely. Continue reading
Picture the scene, if you will. A trio of long-haired muso types are crouched in a cellar, soldering irons in hand, as they make lead after lead after lead, threading together the great looms of cable which will form the nervous system of the studio into which this cellar is slowly metamorphosing. Every lead has to be numbered at each end, and tested thoroughly before being encased in the various tubes designed to ferry them from control room to vocal booth and isolation booth. They’re a real pain to take out and fix once in place, so you tend to install a few more than needed, just in case. Continue reading
Parkinson’s is a strange condition, in some ways it’s best described as a ‘but more so’ disease. It’s like getting older, earlier, but more so. It’s like being stiff after vigorous exercise, but more so. It’s like being drunk, but more so … it’s like being alive, but more so. Don’t worry, I’m not about to take the path of ‘it’s the best thing that ever happened to me’ least resistance, as if praising it could make it better. It’s shit. Utter shit. But I can, and will, suggest that it amplifies life in certain strange ways, and the way in which it goes about its business can be instructive. It does micro/macro exceptionally well, because with Parkinson’s, little things can have wide-ranging consequences. Continue reading