You may have noticed over the years that I’m not one for going to large stadium gigs. The intimate, smaller venues are almost so much more engaging – and generally a lot cheaper – for most bands that I love. That said, I have been very lucky with the bands I have seen in smaller venues. Sometimes though, you just have to bite the bullet and Friday night was just such a time – to see Fleetwood Mac play Wembley Arena – and I’m very glad I did.
The band came on around 8.30pm and started off quite slowly, with a bit of chat and a few slow songs. Stevie Nicks seemed a bit faltering and the energy was a bit off, but then, suddenly, everything turned around as they belted out hit after hit with barely a pause in between. Lindsay Buckingham did most of the audience interaction for the night, and seemed to be on stage more than any other band member performing a number of solo acoustic versions of classic songs. Never Going Back Again was stunning and moving and Buckingham’s guitarmanship is outstanding. Around an hour in the band was on top form, Nicks seemed to be more comfortable and started engaging more with the audience, and during World Turning we were treated to an extended guitar solo with shouted audience instructions from Mick Fleetwood, which culminated in a turntable/drumming head to head before the rest of the band came back on stage to finish the song.
I don’t think any Fleetwood Mac fan was disappointed, other than by the absence of Christine McVie. They played songs from all stages of their career – even solo efforts from Nicks and Buckingham and, most wonderfully, the blues classic ‘Oh Well’ from their pre Nicks and Buckingham incarnation – with Lindsay carrying off Peter Green’s singing and searing guitar with energy and impact. The only downside on the night was that we were so far back and the video screens were a bit crap, but the energy carried around the arena to keep us hooked. The full set, with no support, was about two and a half hours – three encores – impressive stuff and a wonderful night.
Hmm.. seem to have been a bit too quiet on the ol’ blog-o-sphere this month! This I attribute to not having anything witty or insightful to say. Apparently my Mercury is heavily retro-graded according to my ever helpful friend Paula. Possibly I’m just recovering from an epic August full of weddings and other fun stuff.
So, a brief update on the month so far: we’ve wandered around many areas in North London to try and work out where to live next. Hampstead was very nice but stupidly expensive, but the heath is lovely and you can swim in the lakes as long as you don’t mind catching something! London Fields was lovely but stupidly expensive. Stoke Newington had a nice park, and was only ridiculously expensive – notice a trend here? Living in London may have its upsides, but cost of living certainly isn’t one of them. We also went along to the London Twestival, which was great fun – most of which was had doing craft making small Twitter style birds. Ah, bless.
Sunday we braved the many thousands of other cyclists at the London Skyride. It’s a wonderful chance to cycle round car free streets in central London, but I have to say it feels less safe cycling round with little kids either wobbling around left and right or zooming through small gaps than it does with cars! That and the somewhat OTT corporate sponsorship from Sky and the highly un-environmentally friendly rubbish, plastic bags, etc generated by the free giveaways. Bio-degradable bags, anyone?
Other than that I are mostly be running a lot. Or was at least until last night, when my knee gave out going past the Houses of Parliament. So another fitness regime has bitten the dust.. for now!
In what is likely to be one of the ‘must see’ gigs this year for indie rockers, if not the rest of us, Pearl Jam have announced a special one-off gig at Shepherds Bush Empire on August 11th. It’s time to beg, borrow or steal your way in there folks, as this promises to be something else.
Of course considering Pearl Jam sold out London’s humongous O2 in 17 minutes I think we can all safely assume that those not in the industry will have a gnats piss chance in hell of getting in. Still, hope springs eternal, and for those of you who are hopeful (read: ‘deluded’) what you need to do is pre-order a copy of Pearl Jam’s new album Backspacer from HMV.com. They will then send you a unique link that lets you fight it out during the pre-order period between 21st and 22nd July. For the rest of us tickets are on sale July 23rd but let’s face it.. there won’t be any beyond 0.1ms into the pre-sale assuming HMV’s servers don’t go into meltdown. Which they will.
Another great gig last night – this time the Super Furry Animals at the Just for Laughs hall. After an interesting couple o’ support bands – the monotonal stories of Jeffrey Lewis complete with hand drawn comics, and the wonderful pop punk intensity of Times New Viking – the Super Furries came on with Gruff wearing some kind of space helmet and singing through the eye plate with some great, dark dance beats. It seems they want to be Daft Punk.. but that only lasted for a song before it was helmet off and back to some smashing melodic indie rock. The Furries are on tour right now in the US – so go see them if you can.
Just got back in from a splendid night down in the Old Port of Montreal, watching the ever splendid Daedelus. He played an hour set, half an hour less than scheduled for some reason, but what an hour. The beats ranged from mellow hip hop to near techno, with seamless mixing and live playing from a range of film samples and of his own creation. It even snowed a little which just made it seem all the more magical. Thanks again, Mr D.
As usual Daedelus was creating live tracks on his wonderful box of lights ‘n buttons, which you can buy now should you so desire. Samples are started via the box on the fly and you can watch the lights moving across in time with them as they play. The samples can then be adjusted, repeated, replayed or played as if on a keyboard all from the same box. It’s amazing to watch in action if you get the chance.. oh wait, here’s a live clip from youTube so you can see (not Igloofest!)
Go see him if you get the chance – or check out one of his amazing albums. He’ll be huge soon, and deservedly so.
Well Led Zeppelin have just finished their one-off gig at the O2 arena in London. From the Radio 6 broadcast I’m listening to the set list was full of classic Zeppelin tracks – Song Remains the Same, Kashmir and Stairway to Heaven all featured. Hopefully soon someone will put some bootleg tracks up and we can all have a jolly good listen to find out how the old rock fogeys have held up. Some of us can’t afford £86,000 for a pair of touted tickets y’know.
In related news, the Vicar owner of Bron-Y-Aur, the small cottage in Wales near Machynlleth, has asked that Led Zeppelin fans refrain from doing the pilgrimage to his remote home. Back in my young student days in Birmingham I made that trip as part of an ill fated camping weekend. I hadn’t planned on it being a special visit, but as soon as I saw that cottage named on the Ordnance Survey map I had to go. It was dusk when I got there, so I snapped a photo of the wonderfully atmospheric, tree covered driveway then went home – happy to see the place where Page & Plant had spent a weekend creating some amazing songs.