Friday, 25 February 2011

Night Time: Global Midnight

I contributed to a second episode of Rhodri Karim's superlative late-night radio show Night Time, discussing the effects of the Global Midnight of '68, during which a geo-orbital anomaly brought about an entire day of mignight. Rhodri and I were lucky to be able to broadcast a discussion between two of the leading academics in the field, Dr. Olaf Peterdeltersen, and Dr. Hunger T. Flam, of the Appalachian University. The discussion is really quite fascinating.

You can listen to the show by clicking here, and it should also be up on Rhodri's Night Time blog soon enough.

[Above] Rhodri in the radio studio. Out of shot: Drs. Peterdeltersen and Flam

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Dannish Babar Know What You're Thinking, 15-19th February 2011

For the last five evenings I've been providing the music for Dannish Babar's stand-up show, 'Dannish Babar Knows What You're Thinking'. Whilst he stood up, I sat at the side of the stage and played guitar. It worked well! We got a glowing review from Varsity [here] and a relatively good if confused one from The Tab [here]. I guess one problem with student reviews (possibly reviews in general) is that the reviewer is not always very well-informed on the particular genre of the work they are reviewing. I reckon the best reviews aren't only an exercise in "I liked this / disliked this because..." but are sensitive to the context and history of the work, and how it furthers the art form (or doesn't). That kind of review is also much more interesting to read.

Anyway. As my first experience of being in a comedy show, it was really interesting to look at the differences in stagecraft, audience participation and tone required. Comedy really seems to rely on its audience. It's true that the best music gigs are also the ones where there's a large and they're really behind the band, but if a band is playing really well it almost doesn't matter if they're playing to 50 people or 500. It's very different for comedy, the audience is integral in creating the experience. One night we had a small audience and a lot of the material that worked every other night - and produced massive laughs - fell flat, with only smiles and giggles from the audience. I think it's much easier to laugh freely when there are a lot of people in the room, partly because the presence of so many people provides a kind of tension that just isn't there with small audiences, and partly because it's less about the individual and more the collective feeling of the group - each person is more comfortable laughing when their voice contributes to the collective laughter of the audience, instead of being a singular sound. We were lucky to have pretty much sold-out audiences for the last two nights, which worked really well.

As far as music went, the challenge was to fit the music to the script so that there wasn't too much discontinuity or jarring - in the end, it led to me playing stuff that was quite neutral in terms of its emotional content, and was more designed to sustain momentum, apart from one or two points at which I played some exaggerated versions of 'inspiring advert music' and some sad music for ironic effect. It was really interesting to see how music could be used in this context, as it really couldn't influence Dannish's material too much, and it's easy for music to give meaning to words that they might not otherwise have. So it was an exercise listening and being sensitive to meaning as much as anything. It was also really nice to just play pretty much solidly for an hour and a half every night, and it was great how many people came up afterwards and complimented the show. Dannish has put together a really funny show, and, hopefully, there'll be some more performances at some point...

BONUS - here's the opening video:

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Kiss My Brass at The Pioneer, Feb 12th 2011

[Above] Photos by Mark Leaver

Last week I went back to St. Albans, to play a one-off reunion gig with Kiss My Brass on the sacred ground at The Pioneer. A lot of our friends came down, and the reaction we got was really strong, even after two years. I think the reason KMB songs still mean a lot to people in St. Albans is that really those songs are theirs. They're about things we did and friends we had growing up, and quite a lot of them are actually about The Pioneer. That music is like a soundtrack for the place, so it makes sense to have play through it all there again. It was nice, maybe we'll do it again in another few years, although I don't know how useful it is to keep looking back. Sometimes things are good because they were good in a certain place and time, and I think Kiss My Brass was great while we were teenagers. We were really lucky to have that band, and we worked hard at it when we weren't blazed or drunk.

Also I'm glad The Pioneer is running again, and will hopefully continue to run great gigs. All you need for a scene to happen is a stage for it to happen on, and people willing to come and listen and dance.

Cheers to Mark Leaver for those great photos. I think Benji has some videos too, which might surface soon ...

Sunday, 6 February 2011

A short story with pictures, like in the Sun but without speech bubbles

Last night the toilet in my house got broken:

I was angry, and took to brooding:

If only they'd broken a square sink, my Granddad has a load of them spare in his garden:

But no, we had to go to B&Q.


Saturday, 5 February 2011

Trip to Norwich

Last night I played a gig with most of The Shadow-Line at the UEA Union Bar. Tom, a cog in the great economic machine, couldn't make it. Needless to say, it just wasn't the same without the kind of soaring major 5th harmonies that only a true disciple of the bubblegum-thrash circuit can utter. That said, we pulled it off pretty well considering we hadn't practised and we had all had a couple of Tyskies with no dinner.

After we played there was a pretty good club night on at the Union upstairs. The guitarist from Bloc Party was DJing. There wasn't really enough dancehall for my liking. Would it kill you to play some Elephant Man once in a while, Russell Lissack? Anyway, there was a great atmosphere, especially as my brother, the band, and loads of people from St. Albans were there. I literally could not move without finding a friend to embrace.

After that, we went, for a while, to one of the nicest student houses I've ever been to. It even had an AGA. Literally an Aga. You can see it in the last photo, sort of. I asked the ladies if I could have a picture of them with their Aga, because I was so impressed. That said, it was only slightly better than the wall of tits in Howlin' Wolffe's house.

[Above] Bonus tit bottom left.

Here are some more photos:

[Above] an actual Aga. You can sort of see it.

The next morning, we rolled out of bed about midday and headed to the Bellevue pub for a fry-up. It was literally a pile of food. I can't remember the last time I ate so well. Although I did have some pretty good vegetable chilli at the ladies' house. Also there was this great headline in The Sun:

Even better, there was also this fine piece of graffiti on the train:

It really made my day. The best thing is how pleased that sharp-toothed monster looks; not only did he get a decent meal, but now he also has a walking stick.

Anyway it was well good time.