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Haven't been saying much lately. I should really get round to some sort of update. It's reached the point of being poked . . . I'm very sorry and will say something substantive soon.

In the meantime, those of you fortunate enough to be in Edinburgh may be interested in this event tonight at the Bongo.

The Processional, Beastie, No Point and Te Pooka drummers, and the Edinburgh Samba School. Five percussion groups for only five of your Earth pounds.
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Yes, it's a picture of me baring my torch. Obviously.

Writers Bloc had readings in Biggar and Prestonpans. Read more... )
Stephen Pinker gave a lecture for the Uni, which had to be moved up into the McEwan Hall due to demand. Contains swearing. Big, clever, funny swearing. )
Obviously at the end I did what I've done many times before - tried to work out what it says around the base of the dome. "Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting get understanding: exalt her and she shall bring you to honour." Proverbs, chapter 4.

Much fun. After that I went out to Dalkeith country park for a drink with Jim the arsonist and his mates, which was also great. I found some lager in Tesco's called "Lech", which is a very funny name if you ignore it being Polish.

After that it was the Meadows Festival, which was a lot smaller than previously, but then it did have its legs cut out from under it in the meantime. This was the first one for two or three years, and pretty good for effectively a new first time. Hopefully it'll gather momentum again over the next few years. There was a genuine 9/11 conspiracy theory stall, which I didn't stop and ridicule in spite of the fact that I probably could get back in touch with a structural engineer who studied the collapse of the towers in detail - something that, famously, said wackos have never paid any attention to.

Yesterday I went to see Mark Stewart and the Maffia. Read more... )
I've been reading my new (i.e. the older) copy of My Friend Mr Leakey today, which has been fun. I've noticed one thing, though - where the Seventies printing mentions Negroes as the victims of a particular kind of African devil, the older one uses a different word. It still starts with N, though. Pinker had mentioned it as currently the most taboo word in US English. I guess that in Britain it was still OK to use it in front of children as recently as 1948.

On getting back from the gig (OK, and from the pub afterwards) last night, I found a mail from a ticket agency with a whole list of stuff I've no interest in and details of Amanda Palmer playing at the end of September. Well and good, although I notice that Dolls gigs do apparently still happen very occasionally . . .

However, that wasn't the eyeopener. Other Dolls are afoot. New York Dolls, in Glasgow, anyone? In a venue the size of (and probably, admittedly, with the aroma of) a gorilla's armpit? That sounds like a good deal to me. And a couple of weeks later, Swervedriver.


Now that's not a name I thought I'd hear again. Still, tempting . . . I wonder if Dave Hetherington knows about this? I may have to pass a message via CJ.

Mixed week in politics, of course, SCOTUS have belted Bush one in the bollocks over Guantanamo. Your friend and mine Antonin Scalia, however, seems by all accounts to have delivered a shameless dissenting statementlamenting the effects of the actual decision, which would fly exactly in the face of everything he said about the grounds for his beliefs when he spoke in New College last year. Ah well. Maybe he's been misquoted.

Over here, a certain disastrous vote went the wrong way (but was tantalisingly close) and a Tory MP has resigned to fight his own safe seat at a point when the government's in trouble. His party leader, one David Cameron, described the move as "courageous", presumably meaning by Sir Humphrey's definition of the term. The words "nothing much to be gained" come to mind - he's likely to find that his only serious opposition comes from the Sun. If it descends into a farce and he ends up making himself and his party look ridiculous, he will undoubtedly go down in history as a political genius for finding a way to make the government look good in spite of its recent misadventures.

And if you think that sounds harsh, listen to what some other people are saying - one shadow cabinet member said. "There is a slight hint of self-indulgence and a slight element of tragedy. David cannot come back in a bigger position. He can only come back as even more self-righteous, but will he be more morally pure with a majority of 1,500 over the Monster Raving Loony Party? He has walked the plank and this risks looking like a pantomime."

I must finally mention that Weegie popsters The Hussy's are playing FOR FREE at the usually-execrable-but-I'll-make-an-exception-this-time 3 Sisters (on the Cowgate, if you've had the good fortune not to have come across it) on Sunday. Actually, they're playing in Manchester, at the Dry Bar, on Tuesday and in London Village (Purple Turtle, apparently) on Wednesday, so some of you could do a lot worse than pop along. Sadly, I've no indication that the other gigs are free, but I'm sure you can, as the saying goes, check local press for details.


May. 5th, 2008 01:05 am
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Another picture of me on Wednesday. From the front this time.

Today I saw Nick Cave doing an impression of the Duracell bunny. He's surprisingly good at it. Barry Adamson was supporting. Expensive, but memorable. Lauren didn't feel up to the gig, so I (woe is me!) had to go along with Mark to stop the ticket being wasted. I passed on the opportunity to buy a tea-towel printed with the handwritten lyrics of The Mercy Seat, which I may come to regret.

In other news, the Hoose has Half Man Half Biscuit on the jukebox and a tremendously amusing carrot behind the bar. A picture may well follow.

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First, Kristin Hersh, from Throwing Music:

"Paradoxical Undressing" by Kristin Hersh is a live spoken word project incorporating film, music and essays. The show will feature excerpts from Kristin's upcoming memoir, "Paradoxical Undressing" read by the artist, with musical accompaniment.

The show tells the story of a teenage girl wrestling with issues of extreme creativity, mental illness, pregnancy and life in the music business as founder of seminal American indie rock band Throwing Muses.

The first paradoxical undressing performances will be held in the UK at St. Andrew's in the Square in Glasgow on 25 March 2008 and at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London on 26 March 2008.

Secondly, Leonard Q "Laughing-boy" Cohen, Esq:

17-Jun-08 Manchester, UK Opera House
18-Jun-08 Manchester, UK Opera House
19-Jun-08 Manchester, UK Opera House
20-Jun-08 Manchester, UK Opera House (likes Manchester, obviously)
29-Jun-08 Glastonbury Festival, UK (ticket registration closes on the 14th, though)
16-Jul-08 Edinburgh Castle (for me, that's about a 15-minute walk from the front door)
17-Jul-08 London village, UK Millenium Dome (as was)

Other concerts in Canada, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy and Greece. More will apparently be announced later. Fuller details here.

There are prices for the Canadian gigs, and they're not cheap. Still, Cohen at the Castle . . .
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Screaming Banshee Aircrew

"droll rock cabaret . . . like some 1920s Weimar Berlin show morphed through a goth-punk processor" (The Observer)
"an arsenal of tunes clearly outlawed by international treaty" (Sandman Magazine)

Rome Burns

"erudite, wordy, quirky" (Starvox)
"Brilliant in virtually every way" (Mick Mercer)

Cabaret Voltaire, Blair street, Edinburgh.
24th November 2007 - Doors 7pm
Tickets £6 (sbtf) from Ripping Records or Underground Nation, Candlemaker Row, Edinburgh
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Happy birthday Iggy (a week late, but what the hell.). Interestingly, Thee Ackurssed Witchipedia claims that Pop is one of the few famous musicians to have published in an established journal of Classical scholarship, a claim I leave others to evaluate.

I caught a train down to London on Monday for a spot of work on Tuesday, and obviously picked up a ticket to see Neubauten in the evening. [livejournal.com profile] kixie said I should go to a place nearby (Tupelo something) to meet her, [livejournal.com profile] zoo_music_girl, [livejournal.com profile] childeric, [livejournal.com profile] denalyia and an Aleks. When I got there - only very slightly late after dropping the camera back at Kate's - there was someone else there who seemed familiar. I thought this was just because she looked a bit like Marianne until she turned to face me and I realised it was Hellen1. Krys now seems to think I know everyone, which isn't true. There were upwards of several people at the gig that I've never met. Anyway, it was good to catch up with (and in one case meet) people, and the food was good too.

I've not been to Koko/Camden Palace before, although I've been past it on the street plenty. I nearly went to see In The Nursery support VNV there several years ago, but assumed that because it looks like a little place from the outside it would also be small inside and it would be sold out. Big mistake. Big place - another old theatre with more balconies than you can shake a stick at. The support - The Devastations - were already playing, I think, when we arrived, and they were fairly good, but more in an intriguing way than as something to hold me immediately. I'm going to get something by them, I think.

I had a wander while they were playing and found [livejournal.com profile] scy11a and [livejournal.com profile] drpyrojames on the first balcony, so I stopped and had a chat with them. After that I went further up, not finding anyone else, and then went all the way to the bottom again and got collared by Steve Galbraith, who seemed very cheery. I missed him and Suzie that last couple of times they were in Edinburgh, so it was especially good to see him, at least - S and sprog were at home, although apparently also fine. He claimed as much, anyway.

I went as far forward as I could - which wasn't actually all that far - for Neubauten, and the first thing I noticed when they came on was that the sound was fairly ropy. Blixa's comments were often indecipherable and the opener - Good Morning Everybody - lacked punch. It picked up a bit during the next one (Selbstportrait mit Kater, I think) but stayed woolly right through to the end. I'm told this is a general feature of Koko gigs. A shame. Aside from this they seemed on good form, although the slower songs suffered from the lack of detail. As there was a run of these in the middle of the set, certain individuals got a bit bored, or even walked out. I enjoyed myself, but it wasn't the best I've seen them. I'm told the recording of the set's very sharp, though. I went back up by James and Sarah for the last encore, and on the way out bumped into [livejournal.com profile] kekhmet - it was a good evening for unexpected meetings.

CJ fancied going for a swift half, so we went off to the Dev, and when that turned out to be closed we went round the corner to a place I think is called the Elephant Head for a quick drink before the last train - a nice place with some songs playing I hadn't heard in a while. I ended up running down the Camden Town escalator to avoid missing the last train, but there were actually at least another two after the one I caught.

On Wednesday I caught the ten train back to Edinburgh. In another unexpected reunion, I bumped into Miffy outside the National Library. Not too long after I got back [livejournal.com profile] decomposingsoul and [livejournal.com profile] mirumuk turned up, and after tea, coffee and hot chocolate (and two of those in the same mug in Milk's case - odd boy) I called [livejournal.com profile] nik_strychnine but was told he had just left. It was alright, though, because he was coming round to mine to investigate the lift I'd offered him.

So we actually left in good time, and the trip over was fairly uneventful. I got to point out a few Glasgow landmarks to people (Charlotte, mainly, I think) who'd not done Glasgow before, and the Tramway itself was easy to find, in spite of the odd discrepancies between the map on the venue's website and the one on multimap. We parked on a side road just the other side of the railway station and joined the queue.

Now, I've mentioned that I'd met Hellen unexpectedly the day before. While I was in Cambridge I knew two Helens - or, rather, a Helen and Hellen. One of the reasons it was odd to see Hellen at the London concert was that Helen ([livejournal.com profile] fellcat) had arranged to come up from Durham to the Glasgow one. Actually, I walked right past her in the queue because she was sitting down reading, but I did spot her from the end when she stood up. I think she was the only long-lost friend that night, although the gig scored in other ways.

I'd not been to the Tramway before. It's a converted Tram depot in Pollockshields, south of the city centre, that's been used as a venue for . . . a fair while. I didn't know (or didn't remember) that it's the site of the Hidden Garden, a project by NVA, the art organisation founded by Angus Farquhar, also of Beltane and Test Department fame, so it's already an appropriate venue even before we remember that it was the site of the Glasgow performances of Test Dept and Brith Gof's production of Y Gododdin.

Physically it's a Victorian brick shed, now divided internally. It looks battered from the outside, but is well-kept within. We went past the merch stall. which featured a bearded Japanese man who was addressed as Mr Suzuki. This was of course the great Damo Suzuki (who of course Mark E Smith is not, despite his claims otherwise), who was providing the first performance. It took a while for this to happen, during which various people turned up - Sandy, Lara, Seth, Roy, Kirstin, and the like. When the Damo Suzuki Network took the stage, the first thing I noticed was that they also had numbers on their side - Suzuki himself plus a drummer, bassist, two guitarists, a keyboard player and two saxophonists. They started playing . . . and kept playing. I'm not entirely sure whether they played one song that lasted forty-five minutes, several segued songs that added up to forty-five minutes, or whether they don't do songs in that sense at all. To be perfectly honest I couldn't make head nor tail of it. I went down the front to listen specifically to the horn players, but I couldn't understand what they were doing either - both seemed to be devotees of the squeep-gronk school of saxophony, and it didn't fit into the rest in any way I could follow. I assume this is all just Quite Advanced and was going right over my head. Ah well. They did play with energy, though. I think if it was the sort of thing I understood and liked then I'd have had a great time - I'm just not sure whether the audience members who understood it were outnumbered by the band.

After a bit they left, and the DJ was back. This was Twitch from Optimo, and was a reminder that I must pop along at some point. We got Half Life, Mutiny in Heaven, Incubus Succubus and various others in that vein.

Again, the first thing I noticed when Neubauten came on and Blixa opened his mouth was the sound - it was beautifully clear. This made a big difference, especially to the quieter songs. When Andrew was dropping polystyrene packing chips during Grundstuck, the little plinks they make on impact were very distinct. I enjoyed the Glasgow set a lot more.

According to Blixa they'd never played Scotland before. They went down very well, though. Sadly the first half of the concert didn't record properly, so no live album for me. Blixa had to explain this to the audience, and ended up telling people they shouldn't blame him, as he was only making sure that they knew. They got a huge round of applause when they left, though, so I don't think anyone was holding it against them. The people I spoke to going out were all very enthusiastic. So was I. They were great. Sandy was claiming that if he'd known they were going to be that good he'd have been buying tickets to give away - as it was, none of the drummers turned up, which was a poor showing.

[1] [livejournal.com profile] agent5 and [livejournal.com profile] gurlesque - Hellen of "change at Baker Street" fame, for those I've mentioned her to.
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Marking time before a more substantive post, can I remark that Gogol Bordello and the Dresden Dolls are both on Later with Jools Holland on Friday?

I'd also like to ask why nobody told me that Bob Mould will be playing Edinburgh at the end of next week. Excuses, everyone?

There's a Replacements best-of out. I know this because it's talked up in The Skinny, which also has an article about why we should like Sonic Youth (but little about the irritations associated) and a right good kicking given to James Lovelock's new book - "It is good science that will save us now, not this modern Jermiad of hopelessness and gloom." They also recommend a single called "The heart is a useless ally". Good name. It's by Kelman - anyone any idea what it'll be like?
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Friday - Gin Goblins and The Dickies )

Saturday evening - comedy and a club )

Sunday. Stayed in fiddling with stuff. PLayed a bit of Civ. Won a game, although it was only against the AIs, set to "amoeba" level. Washed the dishes listening to the Durutti Column, which was quite pleasant.

Further to the Half Man Half Biscuit gig, Depressed Beyond Tablets mentions Neubauten, and Shit Arm, Bad Tattoo is indeed all about the second Libertines album (and its cover picture).

Young Gods last night, after seeing Ed briefly. Very good. The slightly more wibbly stuff mostly ealier in the set, and the heavier punchier stuff more towards the end. No Longue Route, but they did play September Song, which was just wonderful (and quite unexpected). They look a bit older then they did, but otherwise haven't changed much. An actual electric guitar appeared at one point, which threatened to be a very unYoungGodslike moment, until it became apparent that Franz wasn't going to anything as mundane with it as play any notes.

The support had been Pylot, who were very rock indeed. Solid and fairly well done (very good bassist), but not inspiring.

The Guardian this week is giving away the REM Album Reckoning, which is very good and includes what for my money's their best song, Rockville. You have to get four "Guardian" masthead strips off the front page, out of the five from yesterday to Friday.

Kenny Richey's back on Death Row. Officially this time, as the Supremes have thrown the case back to the local court. The BBC's article (alightly more informative, unsurprisingly) is here.

I was meaning to point out this nice article about John Maynard Keynes. He had a life, apparently.

El Reg is running (or maybe was running, by now) a poll on the worst sorporate anthems of recent years here. So you'll know what you're voting on, there are links to three of the worst offenders, including the infamous KPMG song. Go on, give it a listen - it really is shockingly awful. I assume this is real, but frankly is worth hearing regardless.

The Guardian also ran an article on the reaction of Austria's liberals to Irving's imprisonment.

More locally, El Barrio and KJ's are set to be demolished.


Oct. 17th, 2005 12:49 pm
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The weekend - two gigs and a relaxed Sunday )

Today I notice that there's an implausible way of collecting embryonic stem cells that won't convince any of the significant opponents - after all, if it could conceivably form a foetus then it's impermissible to intentionally harm it by that argument, so all you're doing is creating a doomed twin.

Also, a figure of 50,000 is being bandied about for pandemic flu, although the worst-case (and very-unlikely-case) figure given is actually 750,000 - 1918 was 150-200k with about two-thirds of the population Britain now has, and there's no reason to suppose that that was as bad as it could conceivably get. However, this was also before many medical advances, including much life-support, antibiotics to fight secondary infections, and so on, so it really does seem very unlikely to go that far.

I've been looking at Google Earth again too, and trying to find Bear Island. After a prolonged search, I found a patch of sea with lots of named features but no actual land at all (at 74deg25' North, 19deg5' East). Clearly it's the famous submersible-island supervillain base. Who says you can't find out anything useful on the Net?


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