Welcome to the Thursday Photo Challenge, a weekly photography challenge for everyone who likes to take photos!
This week’s challenge is dance.
Dancing is one of my favourite things to do. I never had ballet lessons as a child because my mum thought girls shouldn’t be girly. I miss the childhood I never got, with the princesses and dance shows. I grew up to be an ice skater (amongst many other jobs). Go figure.
I have taught dance and one of the things I loved as an elementary teacher was incorporating dance into my classes’ daily routines. We danced good morning, we danced goodbye at the end of the day. In between, we sometimes all stood up and had a wiggle to get the energy out. Seven-year-olds need to get their energy out sometimes.
So this theme is one I wish I had more photos for. Unfortunately, when I’m dancing, the last thing I can do is take a photo. So I have chosen a photo of feathery ice crystals frozen in their intricate dance, instead.
How does dance inspire you to create a photo?
Anyone can join in! Here’s how to take part:
Take a photo or search your files for one that represents the week’s theme.
Write a post, including your photo, any words of explanation or inspiration you wish to share, and a link to this challenge page.
Comment on this post with a link to your post so others can see your contribution.
That’s it! Super easy.
This challenge will stay open for one week, then next Thursday, I will post the next challenge!
For those of you who don’t actually know, the Neverending Story was a movie from the 80s with a super-catchy theme tune. It was also a book by Michael Ende, a German dude. It was fashionable at the time for authors to sell movie rights to Hollywood then, upon seeing the film of their work, complaining that it destroyed their work and that they wanted nothing more to do with it (see also: Alan Moore).
Michael Ende sorta did that. So you don’t know who he is any more.
It’s actually a good read, in the same league as The Princess Bride. And The Neverending Story is also a great film. I liked the sequels when I was little, but they didn’t have the same timelessness as the first one.
But my favorite part is the theme tune by Limahl. The lyrics are just… just perfect.
Does your playlist need something fresher than an explosion in a Febreze factory? Do you need to hear the band that Captain Jack Sparrow would most certainly have at the top of his playlist (y’know, if iPods were around back then)? Has your musical collection struck an iceberg, and now it’s sinking faster than Celine Dion at a Guns N Roses concert?
Earlier this week, my life was a meaningless cycle of daily routine, designed to be productive but not exciting (imagine me brushing my teeth, washing my face, and it’s black and white. Perhaps someone’s playing a Film Noir soundtrack, but maybe not; it’s your mental image after all). Sound familiar? Well, then I discovered Rusty Shipp (the Film Noir turns into a very stylish seafaring monochrome with optional pops of colour; the Beach Boys are queueing to see them… the Beatles already did)…
Okay, maybe I’m going overboard. See what I did there?
Seriously, though, stop what you’re doing right now (put the cat in the kettle if you need to) and click play, this music will bring new awesome to your life, even if your existence is already perfect; this is Davy Jones Ain’t Got Nothin’ On Me:
Do you need to hear more RIGHT NOW?? Of course you do! Here’s their second song Sinking Scarabs:
See what I mean? Now I know I just worked very hard to get your undivided attention, but I am confident that I wrote a cheque that this music can cash. So if you haven’t clicked play, do it now!
Let’s get a bit more serious with the band now:
Rusty Shipp is a 3 piece band consisting of Russ T “Rusty” Shipp (that is his real name) on vocals and guitar, Andrew Royer on drums and Dustin Herres on bass. Their music is described as “surf rock meets punk and grunge” and I’d recommend it to anyone into cool activities that need an epic in-ear soundtrack. This would also be perfect for a road trip’s playlist music. Rusty Shipp are based in Nashville, Tennessee, and they’re probably one of the most strikingly creative bands I’ve seen in recent times. They’re inventing a completely new genre here, using elements of surf rock, grunge, hard rock, and even ska. They have been compared favorably to both Nirvana and Iron Maiden. Their lyrics showcase storytelling techniques we would usually associate with the great poets of bygone eras (Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner, for example, or Milton’s Paradise Lost) a progressive bassline and a guitar sound that needs its own surfboard! You can find out more about them at their website.
After hearing their latest song, Sinking Scarabs, I was so taken by their music that I had to find out more, so here is an exclusive interview with Rusty, Dustin and Andrew from Rusty Shipp:
How would you describe your band to new listeners in one sentence? Rusty: Raw, high-energy, Beatlesque songs with a surf rock overtone and philosophical lyrics. Dustin: It’s got that 90’s grunge sound but a surf rock feel to it. Andrew: Very reminiscent of the 90s grunge scene with a little surf rock tossed in for flavor.
I would definitely agree with that. Rusty, when you moved from Washington to Nashville to take the band to the next level, what were some of the unexpected challenges that you faced? Rusty: That it’s tough starting a band from scratch because most musicians you find on Craigslist aren’t serious; most of the serious musicians seem to rely on connections they’ve already made in the music scene and don’t resort to Craigslist.
That sounds difficult! It must take so much work to get a foothold when there’s so many bands all trying to get the same exposure. You’re one step ahead with your very unique musical style, but what are three things that you’d like your audience to know about the band? Rusty: We make a lot of Canadian jokes for some reason, are actually really nice, laid back, caring guys, and like Taco Bell. Dustin: We love stupid jokes. We love people. We love Taco Bell. Andrew: Super approachable, goofy, and we take what we’re doing very seriously.
Wow, so you guys really love Taco Bell. Tacos are pretty incredible when all is said and done. It sounds like it’s useful to have a sense of humor in order to keep a band together. What’s your favourite thing on your ipod playlists at the moment? Dustin: I’ve been listening to almost nothing but Dirty Loops and Dear Hunter for the past forever. Rusty: I’m currently listening to all the recordings of song ideas I’ve made the past decade, pulling out nuggets for future songs. Andrew: Been a lot of Coheed and Cambria and He Is Legend lately. A little Arctic Monkeys and OK Go to lighten things up a bit.
Wow that’s some pretty inspiring stuff. I am very partial to the Arctic Monkeys, myself. What’s the most rock-n-roll thing that you’ve done so far (musically or otherwise)? Andrew: I don’t know. I guess I’m not very rock n roll. I’m a little too laid back I guess. Rusty: I don’t know, but my mom bought me a rock n roll looking jacket for Christmas so I could finally look the part instead of wearing Hawaiian shirts. Dustin: I wear a fake leather jacket to and from work everyday. That’s pretty rock-n-roll if you ask me.
There’s that sense of humor you both mentioned in question 2! Andrew, you’re clearly made for surf rock! So one last question, what’s the thing you’re most excited about for 2016? Dustin: I’m excited to really start focusing on my music career and making myself become a better artist. Also, I’ve been helping with a church called Church Alive that just launched last year and I can’t wait to see how it grows this year.
Andrew: I’m pumped to see where this band goes. I think we’ve got a good shot to do some pretty cool things. Rusty: Making a solid, creative, radio-quality full-length album.
So there you have it, Bryan Adams and Maple Leafs are fair game, Craigslist isn’t the greatest place to find band members, even in Nashville, center of the musical universe, and the band members are really nice guys. Rusty Shipp have a sound that’s set to become legendary, so get in on the ground floor before they get so big, you’ll be staring at their albums on iTunes thinking, “damn, I wish I’d shared them with my friends.” Don’t be that person! Share this with everyone you know and watch your grateful friends’ faces as they light up with the joy you brought to their lives. Download their latest song, Sinking Scarabs for only 99c here and whatever you do, subscribe to their Youtube channel here so you are the first to hear their latest music!
Note: This is not a sponsored post. I have no financial interest in this band.
If you’re a punk fan, you’ll probably know that the Membranes were an integral part of the punk scene in the 70’s (and the post-punk scene in the 80’s). If it wasn’t for the Membranes, and the other bands that started up at the same time, there wouldn’t have *been* a scene.
The band has always been about as DIY as you can get – to be any more DIY, their lyrics would have to be about plumbing. Case in point – when the band first started, they didn’t have a drummer. Not to be put off, they used two bin lids.
How many bands these days would do that? How many of the school leavers who start a band would care so much about the fundamental soul of music that they’d make their own bass guitar? Then, despite not knowing how to play, they invented their own chords and tuning scheme so that they could get the sound they wanted. There’s a lot of people these days bemoaning their lot in life; the attitude of the ’70s was this – don’t wait around for things to happen. That was the point of Do It Yourself culture. In their most recent album, they’re reported to have used a plastic bucket, some rocks they banged together, and a fire escape (like, literally played the fire escape itself).
The Membranes embody everything I love about punk. They don’t conform to anything.
And while I always assumed I’d catch them at Holiday In The Sun (now called Rebellion festival), I actually ended up seeing them at Thursday’s Therapy? gig.
Surprisingly, they were the supporting band. Given that I’ve also seen Alice Cooper as a supporting band, that doesn’t really mean what people think it means. Which pretty much sums up the Membranes. They are deliciously obscure and delightfully inscrutable. I love that.
The line up is: John Robb as the frontman and singing and playing the bass and mouth organ, Rob Haynes on drums (and apparently anything else he can hit) – there was also something that looked like a large greek vase with a skin stretched over it, which I thought was a stool until he started hitting it.* There were also two guitarists – Peter Byrchmore and Nick Brown.
*I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much about music, but I know what I like and I know that I like stuff that sounds good and I don’t care what instruments (if any) it’s played on.
Here’s some pictures (email email@example.com if you are in the band and want the full size versions of any of these at no charge for use on your website etc, the full size versions have better definition but they don’t fit on my site due to the cost of data):
What I liked most was the amount of energy they had on-stage. I mean, they were fizzing with more energy than calcium carbonate that’s had acid dropped on it (which is pretty fizzy). They seemed to be playing their own thing, as if the audience’s lack of enthusiasm was inconsequential (the crowd weren’t biting… until they suddenly were).
I said yesterday about how when I don’t know the music, I’m quite happy to go along with it as long as it’s sounding good. Well I didn’t know any of the songs but I was headbanging from my vantage point in the weird side balcony beside the stage.
I’ve never seen a warm-up act manage to win over an audience like that… stepping back from my role as a member of the crowd, and going into analytical mode, I was awestruck by the audience’s transformation – at the start, the audience was mostly indifferent, then about halfway through, they very quickly got into it and suddenly there was bouncing and cheering and participating and all that sort of thing.
My favourite part? When the mouth organ came out. I mean, I guess that must be what a mouth organ looks like – I’ve never seen one of those before.
So by the time the band finished, I was sad to see them leave. Before Thursday, although I knew of the band, I didn’t know anything about their music (except that it was recommended by my stepdad who played drums in a punk band in ’77). I’d only really come to see Therapy? (I hadn’t actually looked at who was supporting, more fool me), at that point when the Membranes stopped, I would have been quite happy if they were the main act or if they’d done a long set. All in all they contributed to Thursday being a very memorable and outstanding gig out of the long list of gigs I’ve been to so far on my quest to fulfil my Bands Bucket List, despite not actually being on the list because I totally overlooked them when I was writing it. Don’t make the same mistake I did – they’re not a band to overlook.
Supporting bands get a lot of shit, and sometimes they get too much credit when they shouldn’t have any (the Last Internationale who were supporting the Who really failed to engage me on every level, I couldn’t believe anyone had hired them as a band for such a big event – perhaps this went a long way towards explaining why my patience wore too thin and I ultimately walked out of the Who early and got an early night sleeping on the floor of Dublin airport). It’s a tricky line to walk, to be a good supporting band, because it takes different skills than being a good main act. A lot of people think that supporting acts need to be new inexperienced bands who do it for the exposure to new audiences. Sometimes this works out ok, other times it bombs. Not many supporting acts understand their role well enough to really run with it. I think of all the bands I’ve ever seen in their supporting role (rather than their headline act), The Membranes sit up there alongside Anthrax and Alice Cooper as the three best bands you could hire to really get the crowd stoked (and I’d actually say slightly better than Anthrax).
And, as with Anthrax and Alice Cooper, I was left wanting to see, hear and know more about this band. I particularly liked the part when John Robb said to the audience “ask me any physics question” (I know for a fact that there were at least two physics teachers in the audience). So someone asked something like “what’s inside a black hole” and the whole audience went silent. Everyone’s attention was focussed on John Robb. Everyone was waiting, thinking “what’s he going to say?” He had clearly thought about all this stuff a lot and knew what he was on about, and I thought his answer was pretty impressive, especially since it was a random question asked by a member of the audience. I like randomness (all my Youtube videos end with “subscribe for more randomness”), and I like thinking about the nature of the universe. So I thought that was an excellent lead-in to the next song.
If the universe is being destroyed and remade from one moment to the next, then I never actually saw them because the past no longer exists. Which means I need to go and see them again. But when I see them again, they will be different and so will I, because you can’t cross the same river twice. Hmm…
At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a testosterone-fuelled shoutfest using three (established) chords, go and see Agnostic Front or someone similar. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that side of punk, except that everyone thinks it’s the *only* side to punk, which just isn’t true. If you’re looking for a thought provoking, entertaining, wide variety of music that defies definition (and thus becomes what punk is supposed to be about), the Membranes are for you. Or you could take the blue pill instead.
Last night I saw the Northern Irish band Therapy? (the cryptic question mark is part of the name) supported by The Membranes, in Leeds. My Dearest and I managed to get right to the front at one side where there were a couple of seats because everyone else assumed someone was sitting there already (thanks for the tip, Stanley Milgram). Naturally we didn’t sit down.
This meant we were standing right next to the speakers, and they were deliciously LOUD. I should have paid attention to my ears at the point where I was getting ear pain, or the point when I was getting dizzy. But I didn’t. So now it’s the next morning, I have a loud whistling noise in the ear that was closest to the speaker, a quieter whistling noise in the other ear, I can’t hear a lot with my right ear, but I do have some PHENOMENAL PHOTOS to share with you. If you’re a Therapy? or The Membranes fan, you’re in for a treat (and if you’re in one of these bands and would like any of the full size pictures – in higher definition – for promo purposes etc, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll work out a way to get them to you). I’m going to split them into two posts, one for each band, and this first post is for the Therapy? pictures because that’s who we went to see. I’ll link The Membranes when I add their pictures tomorrow.
Yesterday’s Therapy? concert was the first time I’d used my multi-shot function on my camera and I was quite pleased with the results. Today I’ve spent a lot of time going through the 625 pictures and choosing the best ones then resizing them because I can’t remotely afford £89 a year for the unlimited storage option on WordPress.
We were actually originally going to see Therapy? back in 2014, when we went to Sonisphere two weeks after our wedding, but because we were both working on the Friday and the Monday, and it was the middle of exam season, we could only get down to Knebworth for the Saturday, and I believe they were playing on the Sunday alongside Metallica. So when I came up with the Bands Bucket List, they were one of the first bands I added to it, not because they were in any danger of kicking the bucket any time soon (hell, they’ve got at least another 25 years before it’d become urgent to see them), but rather because we both really wanted to see them and felt we’d missed out by having to work before and after Sonisphere. As teachers, you can’t really book a long weekend off. Ever. So anything you want to do outside the holidays is tough shit (and anything you want to do *inside* the holidays has to be so squeaky clean because there’s kids everywhere). Work seems to get in the way of music (I was in before and in the next day after Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Motley Crue and Megadeth, both of which I haven’t written about yet), but I do want to get back to work again – especially since we’re broke and no immediate family members have died for 3 months straight.
For a Thursday night gig in Leeds, the venue was still pretty packed and I wasn’t sure how everyone had fitted.
It started out like this, the odd perspective of the venue made for some interesting shots.
If you’ve never heard of Therapy?, they’re classed on Wikipedia as a “alternative metal” band. I would say they’re a bit more DIY (as in; punk-like, not as in; goes on stage and shows off plastering skills) than your average metal band though. They generally play big crowds so this concert was nothing like I expected. They were playing through their Infernal Love album, which included Epilepsy, Stories, A Moment of Clarity, Jude the Obscene, Bowels of Love, Misery, Bad Mother, Me vs You, Loose, Diane, and Thirty Seconds. Had we gone to Sonisphere, we would have heard these tracks there, as they played the whole Infernal Love album then, too. I think we got a better view at Leeds though.
The current line-up includes Andy Cairns pounding the guitar and singing the lead vocals, Michael McKeegan wielding the bass guitar and contributing extra vocals, and Neil Cooper smashing the drums. To be fair, they haven’t got much of a history of line up changes. The long and short of it is that they struggled to find a drummer hardcore enough to hack the tours, but not necessarily with the drama that you’d think that implied. Their original drummer quit during the first Infernal Love tour in ’95, and since then they got a replacement who quit in 2001 and was replaced in 2002 by Neil Cooper who’s been with them ever since. I’ve said it before about replacement members from when I went to Dublin to see The Who, but when a replacement member has been with the band for longer than the original member, why do they still get called a “replacement” instead of just “the drummer” or “the flugel hornist” it’s like it implies they’re second rate and I’ve seen time and again that this isn’t true while I’ve been to performances for my bands bucket list. Consider Dave Gilmour as a perfect example (although I’ve not seen him). Regardless of your stance on this, it’s undeniable that Cooper is a phenomenal drummer who’s more than capable of punctuating the bold phrases of Cairns’ guitar and McKeegan’s whitewater rapids of bass.
They played great and I was over the moon to finally use my DSLR to take photos at a concert and the pictures came out quite well (but I can see room for improvement) and my Dearest got high fived by Andy Cairns and at some point my ear became very painful and I haven’t been able to hear properly all day. I went to about 15 concerts last year and this has never happened before (said the bishop to the actress) so maybe I’ll have to get a hearing aid. I’d totally go for one of those long trumpets.
They could probably have just played Infernal Love and two or three hits from Troublegum and gone home (which is what NOFX did when I saw them in Birmingham) but that wasn’t Therapy?’s style. In addition to the Infernal Love tracklisting, Therapy? also played Teethgrinder, Screamager, Knives and Nowhere, amongst others.
All in all, if you want an excellent night of entertainment you should go see the band. In fact, if you want music for a road trip, check out their back catalogue. I can’t think of a bad album they’ve ever done, and at no point in the proceedings last night did I feel like I was adrift in a bog of “wtf are they playing?” unlike when I went to see The Who and ended up leaving. Or Megadeth, which I also ended up leaving early (which I haven’t reported on yet because I’m still trying to work out whether I can be bothered) . If I don’t recognize a tune, I tend to not even care as long as it’s good. If it’s not that good, I’ll give them two more songs to sort it out, if it’s still crap I tend to leave.
At no point during Therapy? did I consider leaving. Which puts them as better than The Who and Megadeth for a live act in the past 9 months. And tickets are a fraction of the cost, and we didn’t get oppressed by door staff either, which was great. So go and see them already!
The supporting band The Membranes were also pretty good, I quite liked them (my stepdad recommended them when we saw NOFX actually, we had a flyer for Blackpool Punk Festival and he was telling me all the ones he liked, so The Membranes’ve got the Someone-Who-Was-Actually-Doing-Punk-Before-Sid*-Died Seal Of Approval). *Vicious, not Barrett. Barrett is not punk. But then, The Membranes are one of the original punk bands so this gig was like that time we saw Alice Cooper supporting Motley Crue.
Towards the end of the performance, the audience really sort of lost their shit so some of them climbed onstage to try and find their shit again. Then stagediving and crowdsurfing happened (which is one of my favourite parts of any good concert – whenever I’m at a venue and see a “no crowdsurfing” sign part of me dies inside (despite having no intention of crowdsurfing).
The two people above the audience have been pushed off the stage by the bouncer, who as you can see turned up after the stage got mobbed by crowd. The band were thoroughly professional and continued playing. And that was the end of the show.
It was so nice to see such a well-known band in such an intimate setting, I never expected this event to be this good when I bought tickets. I also liked how close we got to the band and I left utterly deaf, but happy. Maybe the deafness will subside with time. We drove home and despite my lack of hearing, it was apparently in all the wrong places so I still ended up sleeping in earplugs.
The sky opened and started pouring sheets of rain over London as we hurried towards Albert Hall to see Bob Dylan. We were running a little late, and not being terribly familiar with that part of London, we had a bit of trouble finding where we were going. Was this a sign from the Weather Gods that we shouldn’t be doing this?
We arrived drenched and I spent the first half of the show shaking with cold because the temperature inside the Royal Albert Hall was not warm enough to dry off from the October rain.
Before we go any further, I need to make it quite clear – I have no idea what 80% of the songs were that Bob Dylan sang that night. It didn’t really make a difference. The guy’s a genius. Do you know any other musical artist who can professionally mumble for 2 hours in the Albert Hall, London, and get a standing ovation? No profanities, no “I’m so pleased to be here” no “without you there’d be no us” it was just a man with a sparkly suit (a beautiful ensemble in black with a lovely teal embroidery-and-sequins accent, that was co-ordinated with the rest of the band wearing the same in the opposite colors, I really loved the outfits) doing whatever the damn hell he pleased on stage. There were a couple of songs I recognized from his latest album – Shadows In The Night – a re-imagining of sorts of some Frank Sinatra classics. Aside from that, I recognized Blowin’ In The Wind. The rest was a mystery.
I got the distinct impression that he did this tour out of a sense of humor – he was entertaining himself rather than the crowd, he didn’t feel he owed the audience a single thing. You had to admire his audacity. The amount of time and effort that went into putting this show together, and the music was great. It didn’t really matter that we couldn’t understand what he was saying – consider Enya, for a moment. She invented her own language to make her songs’ vocals sound more lyrical and fluid. She doesn’t perform live tours, of course, because her whole act is so post-processed that it wouldn’t be do-able as a live act. Bob Dylan seems to have taken the concept of music and once again turned it on its head. Do the audience need to be able to discern the lyrics? Are discernible lyrics part of what it takes to make a legendary show? Apparently not.
A thoroughly good time was had by all.
His re-interpretation of Blowin’ In The Wind was phenomenal. But then, it should be – he wrote the original.
One thing I didn’t like from my vantage point, sat behind the stage, two rows from the musicians, was the amount of people who flouted the no flash photography rule. If there hadn’t been a rule, I probably wouldn’t have cared, I dunno. But because of where I sat, it meant there were dozens of people getting photos and I couldn’t get any. Right at the very end of the show, when the band and Bob Dylan took a bow, I got my phone out and caught a couple of quick snaps, but they’ve mysteriously disappeared from my computer. Maybe the reason he didn’t want any photography is because he’s secretly a vampire and doesn’t show up in cameras or mirrors????? Or maybe the idiots who left their flash turned on just bugged the hell out of him.
I felt like the night was complete, since I’d also acquired two patches for my battle vest.
I feel incredibly privileged to have seen Bob Dylan (especially with the harmonica) and I don’t think I regret going in any way at all, but I think it’s not for everyone and you have to go in knowing that he probably isn’t going to spend 2 hours singing catchy tunes.
This review of Bob Dylan’s concert is quite short, so I thought I’d ask my Dearest to weigh in with his perspective on the Bob Dylan concert, since he was there too.
DH Says: “Bob Dylan was using his voice like a musical instrument, not like a voice. It was interesting being behind the stage because you could see all the stuff that was going on that the audience don’t normally see, such as that the whole band used ipads with all the scores, you could see the technical adjustments on the sound set, and exactly how the drummer was playing, that I really liked. It turned it into a very sit-back-and-listen, rather than sing along. Was it because Bob Dylan maybe didn’t like people singing along? I suppose you have to ask, would the same effect have been done if he’d just played an instrument such as the piano or guitar rather than singing. He was using his voice as a musical instrument, I think, rather than a voice. To some extent it worked. Do you think if you had expected the Bob Dylan gig to be like that, then you would have felt differently? I knew the concert was likely to be like that, Bob Dylan’s known for mumbling, so I don’t think that’s the case. But I think part of that is not knowing anything, so you can’t sing along, different music, unintelligible lyrics… I don’t think the Bob Dylan concert was ever going to be an outstanding night, but neither was it a disappointment – unlike Megadeth. I think it comes down to: Do I think its a shame I wasn’t doing something else that evening? Certainly not.”
So there you have it. We both had a great time seeing Bob Dylan in concert but I think his act can possibly be classified as avant-garde; don’t go if you’re expecting to hear Subterranean Homesick Blues. Another one for me to tick off my Official Bands Bucket List – the list of bands and musical acts that I need to see before they kick the bucket.
Wow so I was just checking my Twitter and saw that David Bowie’s death was announced today. He died yesterday, at home, aged 69. Cause of death: Liver cancer.
It seems to be shaping up to be a shit year for musician mortality; it was only this morning I was watching Lemmy’s memorial service on Youtube.
When will this wanton loss of musical icons end? He only released his latest album Blackstar (to critical and commercial success) two days earlier, on January 8th.
David Bowie was always the spearhead of popular music, no matter what decade, his style always evolved and was reinvented to shape the next musical era.
Now who will man the tiller of popular music? Who will be avant garde? Who will look good in a mullet??????
Some people might be wondering why I didn’t preclude Lemmy with “Rock God” or “Founding Father of Metal” or whatnot. I think his name speaks for itself. There’s Rock Legends, Rock Gods, Founding Fathers of Rock, then there’s Lemmy. He’s so fundamental and integral to the fabric of sound that any describing words would be hollow and puny by comparison. Yeah that was the present tense; the universe isn’t going to demand that we undo all music just because Lemmy’s gone – he’s still gonna influence it all just the same. He lived fast and somehow died old.
So anyway, I was browsing through what was trending on Youtube, and among all the “monkey meets cat” and “Russian doctor punches patient” type videos, I found the following videos from Lemmy’s funeral (that bloke from Motorhead, in case you don’t know who Lemmy was). If you were at all saddened by his passing, you need to watch these. I don’t know what order these speeches were made, so I’ve put them in order myself, starting with Mikkey Dee (Motorhead’s drummer) who had a brief word:
Scott Ian, the Bassist of Anthrax, gave a speech about what Motorhead meant to him in 1980, which I think a lot of us can relate to (and this is the funniest speech I heard at a funeral):
I was particularly moved by the fact that Slash gave a speech, since I’ve commented before on the fact that they’re kindred spirits. Here was someone who isn’t usually comfortable with being the centre of attention, doesn’t usually say a word during his performances, but who was speaking up about what a great guy Lemmy was:
And, I believe this came at the end because the video ends with someone saying “Lemmy has left the building,” Dave Grohl from Nirvana and Foo Fighters. The sound and picture goes around 1:52 (and again at 7:11) but the first thing Lemmy said to Dave Grohl was “I’m sorry about your friend Kurt.”
From there on, the sound becomes difficult to make out, maybe if you turn it up and have actual speakers instead of shitty headphones in a laptop, you might have better luck with it than I, but sadly it’s a 10 minute video with bad sound. Worth persevering if you’re a hardcore fan and want some closure on this though. If you ARE on headphones, take them out at 7:32 to avoid the high pitched whistling noise at 7:35, but then the sound comes back at 8:00 and it’s worth hearing:
(UPDATE: LINK ADDED OOPS):
If you need to see more Lemmy, this is the German interview that he gave shortly before his death, which Scott Ian (or was it Slash) refers to in the memorial service:
This interview from 1985 is also a laugh a minute, really shows Lemmy’s personality:
And I’ll shamelessly leave you with my favourite Motorhead song (I know it would have been cooler to pick something more obscure but oh well) I hope you’ll join me in getting your cigarette lighter out for the guitar solo,
BECAUSE LEMMY WAS BORN TO RAISE HELL:
Lemmy’s work on Earth is done, which leaves us with one question:
Who’d win a wrestling match; Lemmy or God?
There’s a good reason I never finished writing about Download Festival. Sunday was the day when I realized that I did not actually know my best friend of 9 years. That’s been one of the hardest things to deal with in the past year. You can get through most things with a good friend by your side. Without one, everything is an uphill battle.
Because the first half of the day pretty much revolved around her (as had the previous day) I was uncertain how to write this post. I had gone to the festival to see bands play. I’m still not really sure why she had gone, but I’d realized on Friday and Saturday that she had virtually no interest in rock bands. Following a narcissist around a festival does has its advantages – the lack of empathy makes them force their way through other people to their “rightful place” at the front of the crowd. What could I do but follow, or risk being separated again?
Let’s start with Billy Idol. Surprisingly, there wasn’t a huge crowd amassed yet, and we stopped much further back than we could have done. I got the best view I’d had all weekend. He sang many of my favourites including (of course) White Wedding and Rebel Yell, as well as some of the stuff from his most recent album Kings and Queens of the underground, which I am also rather partial to. Unlike many acts from the ’80s, Billy Idol has never overhauled his fundamental identity, so hearing him today is like hearing him in the ’80s, but better, because now he can do his newer stuff as well (which didn’t exist back then) which is still true to form. White Wedding will always be my favourite, and hearing, seeing, feeling him sing it was worth the cost of the three-day ticket in and of itself. The view, as I said, was excellent, and I wasn’t prepared to leave it (despite protestations from my friend to go and get drinks from the bar. I decided to stand up for my right to get a decent vantage point, and declined to leave the crowd), so when the set change between Billy Idol and Slash was going on, we moved forwards and got almost to the very front. We were nearly 5 rows from the front and the view was fabulous.
Slash came out with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. If that sounds like “Burt Bacharach and His Band,” it’s definitely ironic. There’s nothing stuffy or staid about Slash’s latest act, and I was privileged to witness his incredible guitar playing. When the crowd surged forward, I got propelled to three rows from the front. At some point, my friend told me her feet hurt, and would I walk back to the car park with her to get a change of shoes (about 2 hours round trip given the mud and her walking speed). I told her I’d wait right here for her (!) and turned my attention to the band again. I worried that I might have hurt her feelings, but my less caring side told me I shouldn’t give a crap after the way she’d treated me for the last 3 days. Nothing could drag me away from this.
Slash did a few things from his Guns N’ Roses days including Sweet Child of Mine, Welcome to the Jungle and Paradise City, as well as some stuff I didn’t know, but the real piece de resistance, the thing that blew me away and which defined Slash as the real genius behind Guns-N-Roses was Anastasia. If you haven’t heard it, there’s a fantastic live version here:
I was surprised to hear him playing the Guns N’ Roses stuff but I can only think that he and Axl came to an “agree to disagree-ment” that meant they didn’t sue each other for playing stuff they co-wrote.
Watching Slash play was a real treat. He seemed to zone out from the crowd, from the rest of the band, and just seemed to merge with his guitar, all his focus was on what he was doing. From the outside, he looked like he wasn’t even paying any attention to what he was doing, and the guitar was being handled as carelessly as a child’s toy or a toothpick. Under his hat and sunglasses, and his incredible mop of black curls, however, I could almost feel the energy he was pouring into the guitar. And in return, its strings danced a song under his fingers. I was mesmerized. I’ve seen some pretty incredible acts, but I’ve never seen anything as hypnotic as watching Slash manipulate those metal strings as a man might make love to a woman. Oh God, what I would have given to be that guitar, even just for a minute…
Then he pulled out the 12-string guitar. Mind… blown! Looking far less like a toothpick and more like he’d just swapped his pea-shooter for a chainsaw, his fingers continued to twinkle over the strings.
The crowd kept surging forwards and I could hardly breathe, one row from the front, until I could grip the safety bar and I was finally at the very front. I wasn’t aware that this was the venue (called “monsters of rock” but since renamed, presumably due to notoriety) where Guns N Roses played and there was a crush as the crowd surged forwards that killed two fans in 1988. I could certainly see a dangerous situation was forming, but the site security were managing it excellently without harassing anyone. Several times I helped people climb over the barrier because you couldn’t get out any other way, and security led them round to safety once they were over the barrier. Nobody going over the barrier was trying to get to the stage. Mostly it was mums with kids.
Having now seen a LOT of bands, many of which have been styled “the greatest band of all time” at one time or another, I can definitely say that of all the living guitarists, Slash is the greatest guitarist alive and if you love guitar music he’s definitely one to see playing live. He does NOT do that thing that I’ve noticed at a few other concerts, where the accoladed “lead guitarist” actually barely plays anything and some replacement gets on with the actual music making. I saw that at The Who AND Megadeth, and I was unimpressed. Slash didn’t do that.
Another real treat was watching Myles Kennedy. Because Slash is a great guitarist, NOT a great frontman, he needs a Circus Master to lead the audience, to sing the words, to add that characteristic fizz of energy that Axl Rose used to be able to portray so eloquently (even in his pyjamas).
Myles Kennedy is like a stable, more music-focussed Axl Rose, but he’s clearly no imitator – he’s an accomplished artist in his own right, Myles’s voice is more versatile than Axl’s and he can do a lot more with it; I can see exactly why Slash has collaborated with him so much recently – they pair together better than beans and toast, and when you listen to Axl Rose’s “Chinese Democracy” then follow it up with Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators’ “World On Fire” there is just no comparison. I’m sorry Axl, but falling out with Slash was the dumbest thing anyone ever did in history. He’s a Stoke-On-Trent escapee (as am I; I’ve always got time for anyone who gets away from that shithole of shattered dreams) and in my vast experience of attending gigs, he’s the greatest guitarist you can actually see play music. I know I just said it but it bore reiterating. I felt like I was in the presence of a true Maestro. This must have been how people felt when they saw Mozart at concerts back in the day.
Then, like a sparkler or a particularly enjoyable cigarette, the spark that the music gave life to was extinguished as it was time for the next act.
What could Motley Crue hope to offer that even remotely compared to Slash’s mind blowing performance?
In particular musical subcultures, especially heavy metal, thrash and death metal, the concept of the battle vest is well established, and you will see many 30-40 something men, usually bald and walking around built like a tank, sporting a battle vest at particular concerts and festivals. In the course of trying to work through my Bands Bucket List, I’ve seen quite a few. I’ve even got one of my very own.
I would go so far as to say, you can tell how metal a festival or concert is by the number of people wearing battle vests (and motorcycle club attire). I was the only one at Bob Dylan (but there was a guy with a mohican a few rows away).
What is a battle vest?
It’s a jacket, usually made of denim or sometimes leather, often with no sleeves (particularly in colder climes such as Nothern Europe, where slevelessness is metalness), which has patches affixed to it.
I feel very strongly about the procurement of patches. The patches in question are not just a collection bought on the internet declaring which bands I like (well, it can be, but that’s for amateurs, and if you’re 18 and have emblazoned your jacket with a Pink Floyd patch, you’re clearly just making a kindergarten collage out of a perfectly good piece of clothing), they’re all representative of the bands I’ve actually seen. Hence “battle vest” because it’s a chronicling, in embroidered patch, of the battles I’ve survived, the moshpits I’ve been crushed in, the number of times I got trampled by enormous 30 something bald men or had to sleep in a tent that should have been marketed as a child’s swimming pool. Sounds like hell?
That’s metal. And there’s nothing like it. The battle vest is a modern day Bayeaux Tapestry, and you just can’t buy them (well, you probably can, but that would defeat the point of the journey). Every single one is different, and those patches will stand up to a lot of damage before they need replacing.
The denim ones are usually faded blue or white (bleached) thick denim – the thick denim is integral because the battle vest will need to withstand wind, rain, spillages, moshing, the occasional vomit, and all the steps taken to purge the remains of the aforementioned. A deep blue cottony shirt that’s been done to look like denim (or girlyfied, as I call it, because you rarely see this crap being foisted on men) is not going to cut it. I bought my base jacket from ASOS.com and have added the patches as I’ve seen the bands on my bands bucket list.
On the leather ones, more and more people sew patches these days. It used to be the case that people would paint an album cover and band logos on their leather jackets, but for some reason (probably skill shortages) that’s gone out of favour in exchange for sewing patches. Or perhaps gluing them.
The glue-on patches are a bit annoying, to me – I try and press them on my jacket but they invariably go brittle and start coming away, so I end up sewing them down anyway. What’s the point of the glue, apart from to stain my jacket with the residue??
I have also seen people add badges and rhinestones, and this can work really well, but it can also look dreadful. If you want to look like a school kid from the ’80s, then go ahead and make a badge-only battle vest. But please don’t make a scene when the old-skool cause-ists (you know, activists, feminists, environmentalists, etc) in their woolen attire and sandals turn up and absorb you as one of their own and carry you away leaving the vague scent of cabbage in their wake.
I like sandals. But not at a concert or metal fest. I’d hate to lose a toe. I also know quite a few environmentalists – although, as with anyone who has a “cause” they tend to over-exaggerate their spiel to a point where no normal person can take it as seriously as the environmentalists would like, because otherwise we’d have to drink our own urine and only eat from dumpsters. It’s a shame. I’d like the environment to still be here in 100 years, and I separate my recycling like a compliant citizen, but you’d never find me handing out leaflets (the irony) or harassing people about it. I also like animals.
One of the big problems with putting a battlevest together has been that some of the bands I’ve been to see didn’t actually have patches. In some cases (Alice Cooper, below slash in the second picture), I got around it such as buying a fabric “wristband” for Alice Cooper and sewing it on. It won’t last as long but ain’t nothing ever permanent. In other cases, such as Billy Idol and Steeleye Span, there’s just no patch available, so they are notably absent from the thing. In the case of Steeleye Span, I bought a t-shirt. In the case of Billy Idol, I did not. I think some bands think they will make more money off you if they don’t sell a patch in their official merch, but the amount of bands I’ve seen this year, I’d need a whole new cupboard to put t-shirts in if I’d bought one for each of them. It would have added £15 to £25 to the cost of every concert, and that would have severely reduced the number of bands I could have seen overall.
Given the nature of my quest, to see as many of the bands on my Bands Bucket List before they kick the bucket, for me the battle vest was the only solution. I guess that’s one of the things about it; the battle vest is called a kutte in German because it’s a word play – a kutte is the name for the vestment a monk would have worn, when they had such things as mainstream religion in Germany. In a way, committing to seeing through my Bands Bucket List seems like a calling – a purely self-indulgent one, but still something that seems to at times touch upon the transcendent and help me make sense of the world around me and my place in it. It might not be a religious calling, but there’s certainly a spiritual aspect about it. I can’t explain it, except that I get into a trancelike state when the universe just becomes clear… or irrelevant. Either way, this whole task has given my life meaning again which I was distinctly lacking before I made a more-than-half-assed commitment to do this.
So what makes a really great looking battle vest? Well, one thing to bear in mind is (if you’re doing it right) it’s a work in progress, not a destination to race to, and it’s going to be “in progress” for quite a while before it’s completed. That usually means wearing it while it’s unfinished. Like how you have to be on the train before you arrive at your destination. Enjoy the process; if you never see yourself getting tired of bands of the sort who release patches, if you really love metal, I suggest you make your train seat cosy, because your jacket vest may never reach completion – and that’s a good thing! I’m looking forward (if money permits) to going to Bloodstock in 2016 and seeing some awesome thrash/death metal bands.
Also I’m adding Children Of Bodom and Asphyx and Murderdolls to my bands bucket list and will update it accordingly. Children of Bodom are supporting Lamb of God who are supporting Megadeth on Thursday (and it’s going to be awesome). Listen to them here:
Asphyx just sound excellent on Youtube (I saw their patch on someone else’s battle vest… see how this works now Billy Idol???), give them a listen, I really want to see them live now:
And this is the reason Murderdolls have made it onto the list. It’s probably old but I only got round to listening to them for the first time today and this was the first thing I picked, it’s the best. Cover. Ever (miles better than Tainted Love):