Archive for the ‘Music’ Tag

Rock Of Ages – The Reunion Tour

“Hello The Willows!... we’re called Senakot!  And we’re gonna rock the shit out of this place!”

“Hello The Willows!… we’re called Senakot! And we’re gonna rock the shit out of this place!”

“What’s that?  My eyes a bit funny?  Been on the wacky-baccy?  Nah; just done six lines of ex-lax.”“What’s that? My eyes a bit funny? Been on the wacky-baccy?  Ounce of coke?  Nah; just done six lines of Ex-Lax.”

“It’s great to be down here among the audience again!  Now how the hell do I get back to the stage?!”

“Listen you old git… audience participation is later in the set – show up my solo again with those maracas and you won’t find your wheelchair!”

Old guy with guitar

“This one’s called Sympathy For The Devil…can’t be too careful at our age.”


care home concert1

“Alright gorgeous find your damn Zimmer Frame and meet me outside after the show – okay?!”


Old rocker2

“You’re a great audience… I think we played here about six months ago.  Well, I did… the rest of the guys have passed on I’m afraid… Though I guess that’s the same for you as well.  Did we play here six months ago?!  What’s that?!  You don’t know… Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll enjoy us again.  For those who don’t remember we’re doing the same set as last time.  Right… now why am I here again?”


Festival Gig Security

"What's that?!  Two hundred pounds a ticket and this is the view ya get?  My heart bleeds for ya..."

“What’s that?! Two hundred pounds a ticket and this is the view ya get? My heart bleeds for ya…”

“Hey son, come on … over ‘ere!  Come on – that’s it, get your spot nice’n’early eh?  Good lad.  High fives?  Come on son… give us yer hand: I don’t bite – at least when I’ve been fed and I’ve already had a couple of the audience this mornin’!  Hya! Hya!  There that didn’t hurt did it?  Gangsta!  How about tryin’ this… eh… oh shit, never could get me hand like those rapper guys.  Never did like doin’ for their audiences much either.  Naah, I’m not racist or nothin’ – most of ‘em are white middle-class kids driven to the gigs by a yummy mummy, and the music’s shit anyway – innit?  Cool.

No, don’t put that there!  Oh; and if you insist on that bottle of Jackie D we’ll have to confiscate it won’t we? Dangerous object an’ all.  You could drink someone to death with that.  Hya! Hya!  Sorry lad, it’s not me who makes the rules.  And don’t hang that over the barrier unless you want it nicked.  The crowd?!  No…security that’s who!  Bunch of bloody reprobates every one of ‘em – me included!  I’m the worst – me – so Big Dave says. Yeh; I know… ironic ain’t it!  Ironic?  Doesn’t he play on the right wing for Croatia?  That’s one of me mate Big Dave’s jokes.  Wait a minute… you a student son?  You are?  Okay: well he does play on the right wing but only for a scratch team!  D’ya get it?  I don’t.  It’s one of Dave’s interlectual jokes…

"Perks of the job mate... Perks of the job."

“Perks of the job mate… Perks of the job.”

“I did for that Alanis Morissette once you know.  Naah, not in that way – Hya! Hya!  Protected her from the riff raff, I mean – like you.   Never liked her much though – always wearin’ jeans or one of them long skirts like a bloody librarian: music’s ‘bout as interestin’ too!   I much preferred that Girls Aloud… for one there was five of ‘em, and for two; you could see right up their skirts from down ‘ere.  And for three the second made me forget the third!  Hya! Hya!  I used to tell Big Dave – he’ll be along in a minute – that I had such a good view I knew which one of ‘em was on!  Naah, not that I’m sexist or nothin’.  Ah, the legs on that Nadine – eh?  You don’t like ‘em son?  What’s that?  Manufactured shite?  Maybe… but I bet you would have done wouldn’t ya?

Polly Jean Harvey… that was another one with good legs; did her at GlastonburyBritpop era it was – dressed up like a tart she was.  There I was havin’ a bloody good look durin’ that Fifty foot Queen Bee song and she comes over and threatens to splatter me balls wiv her guitar.  Feisty?  No, it was definitely fifty foot.  Anyway she must be a bloody lesbian!  Naah, not that I’m homerphobic or anythin’ – just that it’s not right; is it?  Cool.  Hey, son better change the subject… look at that walkin’ this way… Oh; it’s your girlfriend…

“Er, yeh… should be a good gig.  I prefer the outdoor stuff, yeh, I think it’s the more liberal attitude yer know; that sort of vibe.  Big Dave said I’m too liberal for me own good – I told him I must be the most relaxed member in the whole of the BNP!  What you laughin’ for!  Did I say it was a fuckin’ joke?!  There’d be no Ironic in my bloody team let me tell you that!  Hello darlin’ he’s alright, he’s safe – he’s wiv me ain’t he?  Aah, young love eh?  I could tell you some stories… many?  Loads of ‘em… been around me… I should fuckin’ coco!  Oh, festivals!?  That’s what you was on about.  What a prick eh?  What you say?!  Don’t yer even think of fuckin’ agreein’ wiv me on that!  I’m not a psycho or anythin’ just a bit sensitive me ol’ mum says.  It’s alright love – come on, come back, I’ll let him go; I was only jokin’ – Hya! Hya!

“…Ri RiMe! MeMadge?  Got the badge!  Gaga?  Drive my car!  Adele?!  Go to fuckin’ hell!”


“There yer go, it’s only a little tear… tell yer friends you did it surfin’ to Biffy!  It’s alright love; I’ve put him down now… er, as I was sayin’, loads of ‘em: I’ve had me back to them all: Coldplay, U2, Oasis – that Liam Gallagher hit me in the back of the ‘ead once: threw his bloody tambourine when he was busy tellin’ Noel where to go!  Don’t look back in anger – eh son?  There, that’s it … you can still see the dent.  No?  Oh, must be the bright sun, eh son?  Hot son?  You wait ‘till the other sixty thousand arrive!  Don’t worry love, we’ve got plenty of water to pass out – phew, she’s a worrier ain’t she? Always spit in it first though!  Naah, don’t tell her that son she’ll do her nut.  Keep the peace like I do eh?  Only a joke anyway… I would say I predict a riot but if she passes out the first aid tent’s a bleedin’ mile away in that direction.  One bit of advice though son, Big Dave always, I mean always pisses in the buckets of water he chucks over yer.  Right? Cool.

"Kate Moss?!  They all say that porky."

“Kate Fuckin’ Moss?! They all say that porky.”

“Hey darlin’… where is she?!  Gone to get somethin’ to eat you say?  Sensible as well as gorgeous – eh son?  Yer, need somethin’ inside yer.  Unless yer a real man of course!  No really, she’s a nice lookin’ gal, you’ve done well.  Festival virgin is she?  Or just a virgin eh?  Hya! Hya!  Go on get her in the tent later, no one’s gonna hear yer we’ve got megawatts of power – drown out a nuclear explosion it would – even yours!  See that stack over there, I had to stand right there for the Motorhead set yesterday – ‘what a delight it was to see the prototype exponents of British speed metal receiving a belated welcome into the bosom of a new young audience, as a legion of festival goers greedily surfed on the contagious cacophony created by a leering Lemmy and his cohorts in aural crime’ – that’s what The Times critic said.  At least I can still read… can’t hear a fuckin’ thing though!  Big Dave’s the same.  Deaf.  I said he’s deaf!!   Sorry son: that makes two of us – mine are still ringin’ from yesterday, right?  Says he’s glad of that when that world music shit is on.  He’s smaller than me: double ironic eh?  I found it blowin’ round the toilets – not Big Dave!  The paper stupid!  I always liked The Times – plenty of arse wipe for your money.  Must be all them long words they use.  Not much use now though.  I should have written to the letters page and complained.  Give us back the broadshit – signed: caught short of GlastonburyHya! Hya!

“Madchester?  Baggy?  I should say so – me trousers looked like they’d divorced me balls!”


“As I say; I’ve done ‘em all.  What’s that son…Ri RiMe! MeMadge?  Got the badge!  Gaga?  Drive my car!  Adele?!  Go to fuckin’ hell!  Robbie?  Yeh.  He put his foot on me shoulder.  Left or right?  How should I fuckin’ know!  Twat!  ‘And through it all she offers me pro…’ then he got off.  Next night I was in the same place and he did the same thing only this time he gets up to ‘protec…’  I flogged the t-shirt to some little honey that I pulled out of the front row for thirty-notes.  Perks of the job son!  Isn’t much I haven’t seen.  And done.  Best girls?  Easy; the ones who go to see Robbie.  Worst?  That’s easy too; too easy if you know what I mean – heavy metal bitches.  It’s all them devil signs – it’s the only horn I get from them: makes me feel like a chicken at Colonel Satan’s takeaway.  Naah, it isn’t just people like Robbie what gets the groupies, we do too you know!  We make ‘em feel safe – then we shag ‘em!  Count to three – fingers that is – then if it doesn’t work force entry: that’s the security code!  Hya! Hya!  What you fuckin’ laughin’ at!?  Mysogernist?  Who’s she when she’s at home?  Some woman rapper or summat?  Naah, don’t worry; I’m not a violent man.  I’m like one of them martial arts gurus me; I channel the force – I wouldn’t hit no one with this lethal weapon as it would compromise my pacifistic morality.  That’s what Big Dave says and he’s got a lethal weapon too. Yeh, we get our share of the girls… mind you that one wouldn’t let me put the t-shirt on her – bloody bitch: should have charged her fifty-notes!  Laugh again son and I’ll knock yer fuckin’ head off!  Okay?

All ready for some of Dave's special water?

“Everybody hot are we?!  All ready for some of Dave’s special water?!”

“See, I haven’t actually hit you have I?  And those red marks fade real quick – go on have a drink of this – get your breath back.  Plenty of Big Dave’s special ingredient in that.  Hya! Hya!  Yeh… you get blahsay to the job in the end.  Yeh; the stars become your friends so to speak.  They see you grapple some crowd surfin’ git off the stage so they ask for you again.  I had a Christmas card from that Chris Martin once – asked for a donation to make poverty history.  I’ll make him fuckin’ history, bloody tight wad!  I’ve got a collection of sweaty towels at home: Mick Jagger’s is me top one – he signed it for me.  Elton John’s towel’s got a silk monogram on it: E.J. it says.  Strange that.  Got one off one of them riot grrrl groups back in the nineties.  They were some harsh girls them.  Kick you in the balls as look at yer.  Or was it that Tori Amos?  Hmmm; could have been Courtney Love now I think of it.  Whatever, it’s got blood on it – not yer menstrual though otherwise it might have been worth summat.  How do I know?  Big Dave’s brother works in the lab of an STD clinic.  That’s how!  Very civilised that Chris Martin: tight but civilised.  He wouldn’t have blood on his towel.  Probably come up smellin’ of roses in any bloody case!  Moral spokesman for a generation and Gwyneth Paltrow for a shag!  Mind you their music’s dismal shite – ain’t it?

“Talkin’ about smell… you ought to be this side of the barrier facin’ you lot when the wind’s in the right direction!  Phew!  Big Dave says he can smell the excitement.  And the rest!  ‘I love the smell of excitement in the mornin’’ he says.  He’s always quotin’ that Apocalypse Now.  He plays it over and over when we’re on the road – that and ‘is Lethal Weapon too.  Says his only ambition is to do security for Napalm Death – then he gets to say – ‘I love the smell of Napalm Death in the mornin’’ The HorrorsThe Horrors?  Naah, never ‘eard of ‘em.

"You don't like 'em?  Heavy Metal too proletarian for ya...  Nevermind sonny you'll feel like Napalm Death without a shirt all day..."

“You don’t like ’em? Heavy Metal too proletarian for ya… Nevermind sonny you’ll soon feel like Napalm Death without a shirt on all day…”

“Me?  Strangely enough I chill out by goin’ to see bands.  Proper busman’s holiday eh?  Favourite?  What of all time cross me heart swear on the Bible me mother’s life look at the tits on that kind of way?  Oh that’s easy absolutely no doubt… Stone Roses or t’Happy Mondays: did you notice me slippin’ into a Manc accent there son?  Can’t help it.  Yeh, I was there then: ‘avin it large; poppin’ pills.  Madchester?  Baggy?  I should say so – me trousers looked like they’d divorced me balls!  Spike Island.  YeeurghaaaaaBez?!!!  What would I have been wearin’ one of them for!  Shaun Ryder – just like that, eh? Twat!  Students eh?  All that money and what do they know?

“Did a stint on the door of the Hacienda for that Tony Wilson once.  Naah, not long… stayin’ at the same venue all the time was like working in a factory.  I didn’t hang around.  So it goes.  No, never liked that earlier Manc stuff.  Joy DivisionIan Curtis?  Enough to make yer top yerself listenin’ to that dark shit!  Only time I concentrate that hard and jerk like an epileptic is when I’m comin’ either that or I’ve got a Tazer up me arse!  Big Dave’s got one – illegal it is.  He collects weapons – he got it off an internet site: it’s just like the ones the Met have got.  He wants to bring it along one day he says: mix work and pleasure he says.  Naah, I don’t mind New OrderBlue Monday?  Great porn flick that!  We watch that for a warm up, right.  Yeh; I like a good time… which is why Quo’s me real favourite.  What?  So I lied!  Oh, and I’m not religious.  And me mother’s dead in any case!

“I much preferred that Girls Aloud… for one there was five of ‘em, and for two; you could see right up their skirts from down ‘ere.”


“Went to see the Quo about a month ago, yeh; another one of their farewell tours.  Not so Sweet Caroline it was.  Yer see son, I forgot meself… I goes down the front hops over the barrier and starts doin’ me job of all things!  What happens?  I gets ejected… yeh, me… that’s what happens!  Ironic eh?  Broke his jaw though… case comes up in the autumn.  Cool.

“Jeez, look at that lot just arrived over there!  Twenty of ‘em; twenty’s about the oldest I’d say too!  Wall to wall crop tops and bikinis and the hormones to fill ‘em!  Yeh, as I was sayin’ son, I love the outdoor ones!  Wait for the crowd surf… I’ll be draggin’ ‘em out very slowly if you know what I mean!  Time I was movin’ on out… movin’ on up – over there!

“Nice talkin’ to yer son.  I’ve met worse.  Have a good one?  Yeh: and you; and a havin’ it large one or in my case a stiff one.  As we say in the security game: break a leg… and an arm… and a nose too if you can!  Hya! Hya!  High Fives?  NaaahOh, your arms still hurt… okay.  Coooool.”


Rock Of Ages – The Encore

"Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Good night The Willows. You've been a wonderful audience... 'til next time - keep on rockin'!!!"

“Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Good night The Willows.  You’ve been a wonderful audience… ’til next time – keep on rockin’ !!!”

care home singer

old man and guitar

“Right… Hands up if you like The Grateful Dead?”








“Me rider?  Oh; just two aspirin, an incontinence pad – and a nice cup of tea.”


“No… don’t play much no more these days… just keeps me hand in like.  What?!  Give it up altogether?!  No chance – I’d be missin’ them groupies too much!”

"Bloody hell Doris!  Why have you always got to spoil the quiet/loud bridge in Smells Like Teen Spirit?!"

“Bloody hell Doris! Why have you always got to spoil the quiet/loud bridge section in Smells Like Teen Spirit?! You know it’s my favourite!”

guitar and amp“Okay folks, we think you’ll really notice the difference from last time…  We got us a new Marshall stack that’s so loud it’ll make you shit yourselves.”

"Damn!  Since that Al Zheimer joined the band I never can remember the chords to Smack My Bitch Up."

“Damn!  Since that Al Zheimer joined the band I can’t remember the chords to Smack My Bitch Up.”

Rock Of Ages

"Winnie I said c-o-u-n-t-r-y and western..."

“Winnie I said c-o-u-n-t-r-y and western!”

"Now, unless you stop making devil horn signs at the vicar we’re going to wheel you back to your rooms!"

“Now, unless you stop making devil horn signs at the vicar we’re going to wheel you back to your rooms!”

nursing home concert

“Right folks we’ve reached our last song… and we’d like to do one of your old favourites for you – The Eagles of Death Metal’s Chase The Devil.  Feel free to clap along… “

Old folks concert

"A jumpin'-Jack-a-Flash-a-is-a-Gas-a..."

“A jumpin’ Jack-a-Flash-is-a-Gas-a…”

“I am not playing Kumbaya until you all promise to stop the circle mosh pit and the stage diving at the back!”

The Greatest Love Song Ever?

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face…


It’s too easy to get blasé about great songs.  Some after all are just there… every few years they punctuate the day-to-day once again in advert, soundtrack or radio playlist proving that familiarity has bred – if not contempt – then dulled appreciation from ears that have taken them for granted. 

The stunning trailers for David Attenborough’s Africa TV series – raised to sublime emotional heights by the use of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face –  has opened ears anew to the stunning impact and beauty of this undeniably great song…

Originally written by Scottish folky Ewan MacColl in the late-50s for his then girlfriend – soon to be wife – Peggy Seeger; The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was lifted to new artistic peaks by Roberta Flack’s definitive 1969 album interpretation and shortened hit mix that charted subsequently in 1972.  Stretched in musical scope and empowered it’s difficult to imagine MacColls’s reaction upon first hearing her version after his – to put it politely – reported indifference to interpretations of the song in the contemporary folk world. 

“To listen closely and to be softly lifted by the rush is to be touched by something otherworldly and spiritual …”


Expanded to twice the length of the original… Flack’s stunningly enunciated tour-de-force lifts the blueprint from sweetly personal folk secret to epic universal profundity by virtue of her soulful performance and the room the arrangement is given.  It is as if from being delivered in a private moment between two lovers on a back garden seat the song is allowed to drift and connect across the whole of the rolling landscape.  From the first opening notes of delicate, almost slumbering guitar and the simple rhythm that punctuates throughout – the emotions and devotions are given a chance to breathe.  This is helped by less emphasis on the dominant strings that are to be found in the production of the single version.    

There is a quality to the use of silence and pause, prayer-like invocations, dynamics and space here that retain tremendous clarity even from this distance.  Less is more they say… and here is a masterclass in a gently-building poetic lyric and the most tasteful reinforcement that has none of the blandness that has come to be associated with the term.  The quiet/loud template has been deeply influential among other singer songwriters and although it stretches a point to trace this beyond the ballad to the musical equivalent of the other side of town it is common practice among the heavy rock fraternity.

The stately progress of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face does more than momentarily suspend time; it halts it in the most unobtrusive, natural way while creating a dimension for peace and reflection.  Perhaps no other popular song expresses the body and soul intoxication of first love/love at first sight in so erudite and profound a manner as this.  It’s stark understated piano and time signatures give it a church feel.  To listen closely and to be softly lifted by the rush is to be touched by something otherworldly and spiritual – yet fundamentally of all our everyday experience.  

There is melancholy, though not specifically due to the lyrics, but from the evocation of eternity and the realisations that this level of heightened infatuation rarely lasts.  Forget the cynics and embrace the idea that such a love simply changes appearance with time. The first few expressions of Flack’s voice are akin to raindrops running down a window pane before a sensual waterRaindrops on windowfall – that becomes a flood subtly reinforced by the propulsive accompaniment.  

Beguiling as love itself as it swells on the lines – “Like the trembling heart of a captive bird.”  It is like falling over a breathless precipice of palpitations and trysts.  This lyrical punctuation is repeated again on the line  – “And the first time ever I lay with you.”  This is no paean to lust: the love here is pure and life’s available gift for rich(er) or poor(er).  This is truth without schmaltz.  The chemistry of attraction is not painted by numbers as in so much mainstream fodder but in richly poetic terms – terms that can be understood by all.  

“It’s a love song of the ages – for all the ages and stages of life.”


Thankfully the song has survived favourite status among X-Factor auditionees and finalists.  No amount of excruciating treatment before inanely-delivered comment and TalkTalk bookended commercial break has destroyed the spell it weaves in the right hands.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face – almost a genre in itself – has offered a statement; an Olympus to aim at – and an artistic plan for writers of love songs to scale for the last forty years.  Much as individuals have striven for the feelings it enunciates like the worst of addicts: lovesick in the best sense of the word. 

Sit down, switch off the mobile and all the other distractions and turn up loud… it will be the best five minutes you’ll spend today.  No matter how many times you have heard it the song still summons something from deep inside and – depending on your state of reflection or relationship – uncontrollably shallow breaths; or sometimes even tears.  It’s a love song of the ages – for all the ages and stages of life. The power never diminishes: it’s safe on a popular and critically constructed rostrum.  On a plateau with the most affecting of what is only a handful of truly great love songs.


Bob Dylan Goes Electric…

"Grim oop North?  They ain't kiddin' man ... I need a cigarette!"

“Grim oop North? They ain’t kiddin’ man … I need a cigarette!”




The song entitled: “Cloth caps and cloth ears; or I’ve got them ol’ David Irving revisionist blues again Mama.”

"Where's ma North Country girl?"

“Where’s ma North Country girl?”

 The place: Manchester Free Trade Hall May 17, 1966. (Otherwise misrepresented as the Royal Albert Hall on numerous bootlegs.)

 The people: Bob Dylan and The Band on the cusp of a cultural leap… and (ahem) an irate audience member…


Barry Wolstencroft: “Oi! Oi!  Yeh; you in tha front row… AYE; YOU LASS!…”

Bob Dylan: “Judas?!”  

Barry Wolstencroft: “What’s ‘e on abaht?!  Someone take a bite out of ‘is Eccles cake or summat?  Stop yer mitherin’ will yer Bob?  All this blowin’ int’ bloody wind – more like whisperer for a generation if you ask me.  Tell him t’ turn it oop a bit lass!  Only we can’t hear it at back ‘ere!  And as fer you and yer best seats in the ‘ouse Gary Collier: I’M NEVER LISTENIN’ TO YOU AGAIN, EVER!”

Bob Dylan: “I don’t believe you… You’re a liar!”

Barry Wolstencroft: “By ‘eck… there’s nowt as queer as folk.  We’ve got National Grid in fine fettle and we’ve ‘ad bloody Beatles on the lecky meter fer four years – even though they do come from t’oother place – you think we’d actually be able to hear him play wouldn’t yer?  Tis bloody 1966 fer chrissakes!  Cuttin’ edge it says in tha NME.  ‘ERE BOB; I PAID TOP DOLLAR FER THESE SEATS AND…”

Bob Dylan: (to Band) “Play fucking loud!”

♫ “Once upon a time you dressed so fine…

You threw the bums a dime in your prime… didn’t you?” ♪

Barry Wolstencroft: “Aye… Tha’s better.  I’m reet made up.  Tha’s proper grand – ain’t it lads?  Any road tha’s you off the hook Collier…  NOW DYLAN YER MARDY BASTARD; ABAHT THESE WEIRD BLOODY NEW LYRICS!”

"Hey Mr Taxi Man get me out of here - I'm not waitin' for my boot heels to be wanderin'."

“Hey Mr Taxi Man get me out of here – I’m not waitin’ for my boot heels to be wanderin’.”

%d bloggers like this: