Sunday, 20 October 2019

The Murder Capital

It's been a shit year in some ways, politically, MFC, my general health (though I soldier on) etc. but what has been notable is the amount of great new music.  I've managed to get my arse into gear actively listening to new stuff and I've been to 2 very good festivals.  My beloved EOTR at the end of August and Twisterella  which I reviewed (no less) a few days ago.  Interesting (to me anyway) factoid - both have been nominated for the Independent Festivals In At The Ground Floor award.  Fair play, great category to be nominated in.

EOTR is of course my first love with lots of Americana/Country/Alt folk I'm generally well in my comfort zone but this years line up seemed to include a load of young shouty punk bands. Normally ouch but a couple of them were really good,  Fontaines DC and The Murder Capital, both from Dublin (not sure how that's going to pan out in the UK, post Alexander Boris dePfeffel Brexit).

Maybe more later about Fontaines DC but I was particularly taken by The Murder Capital.  The rock'n'roll thing has of course all been done time and time again but The Murder Capital were a bit different, visually at least.  Their live show was well choreographed and theatrical.  They'd clearly taken time to put it together and it was well worth the effort.  It had an intense gangland theme and they had quite a swagger.  One of my picks of the festival.

I've got the album now and after a more considered listen I'm still going with my initial instinct that they give a clear nod to Joy Division musically, especially with the bass line melodies and drum sound/patters.  Thinking of Life, Green and Blue and the brilliant Twisted Ground with a classic beautiful Hooky type bass line.  Still, very good and in truth imo preferable them to Joy Division.

The benefit of having a low readership is that there'll be no death threats for me making that comment.

On Twisted Ground - The Murder Capital

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Twisterella 2019

Very nice review of Twisterella2019 in The Morning Star.  Hail!  I never get sick of reading stuff like "Middlesbrough as a town is buzzing. It feels like something is happening".  I wish I could agree mind. 

I last attended Twisterella in 2016  when I thought I'd been permanently deafened by a band called Foreignfox.   It's too late to repair my permanent tinnitus but I'm going to try protecting what hearing I have left.

As the Morning Star says this year's festival was a great Boro day.  I did a fair bit of pre-festival swotting up on Spotify (it's the only way).  Fail to prepare and prepare to fail and all that and it came good.  I had a big list, cut a few and then cut it some more during the day.  I then missed a couple chit chatting but I think I still saw about 10 bands/artists. It was mostly ok, some of it very good and some it was bordering on fantastic

What I really like about festivals like this though is that bands other than the headliners are limited to 30 minutes sets.  I've seen many bands over the years who I' ve enjoyed for 30 minutes, started getting weary of them by 45 minutes and then started hating when they've gone over the hour. Too much filler over thriller.

The best of the day?

I really enjoyed enjoyed local band Nel Unlit.  The club type venue (Town House) was far from perfect for them and the sound engineer must have took a deep breath when he saw them slope up with (from memory) 2 drummers, guitars, bass, saxophone/clarinet, cello, violin, a keyboard an accordion and 4 vocalists but they were still great.

I know I should change the record but it's still is all about the songs and how they are executed for me.  I love great melodies/multi vocalists/strings/lots of space/surprises and Nel Unlit deliver .  Have a listen to their last 2 singles Firefly and Apple.  They stand up alongside anything I've heard over the last couple of years both in terms of originality and musicality.  Looking forward to more and hopefully some physical releases.

Also really enjoyed hip-hop/rapper from Newcastle, Kay Greyson.  It's hard to believe it's nearly 40 years since  Grandmaster Flash and all the Sugarhill Gang stuff came out and even harder to believe the genre has remained popular pretty much ever since. It's not something I'd normally go for but I really liked "Give It All" on Spotify so I had a gentle jog the 60 feet or so along from the Town House to TSone where she'd just started her set.

What can I say?  It was rap with a little bit of Ragga "Sweet Rum Punch" was brill.  It was just the right time  for me and it felt quite refreshing, I'll definitely watch out for her playing on Teesside again.

Micah Erenberg is an artist smack bang in the middle of my comfort zone.  Canadian, a bit zany,alternative folk stylee, sort of Jeffrey Lewis (without the comics)/Langhorne Slim.  What's not to love?  He seemed genuinely surprised and thrilled with the enthusiastic largish late afternoon  audience (apparently he played at Cockermouth to about 10 people the previous night).

TheWestgarth 2 crowd certainly did the town proud and we didn't need much encouragement to join in with his choruses.  It's no wonder everybody loves playing the Boro (it's true).  Best audience I saw all day.

Special mention for Hartlepool's MT Misery who joined Micah for the second half of the set "rocking" up the sound (in a good way) as they played some very good powerful pop music including a raucous finish.  Bravo, great show!

I saw Newcastle's Martha Hill play in the Spooker Attic about a year ago (coincidentally supported by MT Misery's Andrew Smith) and was really looking forward to seeing her again at Twisterella.  Guitar/vocals backed with keyboard/cello/and drums all played sparingly is always music (excuse pun) to my ears.

Spiders, Let Me Down Easy and Blindfold are all great songs and the Boro lapped it up especially (and typically) when she announced she was going to have a pint and her first parmo after she'd finished.  I might try announcing that if I ever do the open mic again.

Just checked her Spotify and at the time of reading she has 1614 monthly listens to her songs.  Jeez, no justice.  If you get the chance to see her don't pass  I think she's got something.

I didn't fancy any of the headliners so I made  Bella Union's Pomo Poko (9pm upstairs in The Westgarth) from Norway my last band.  I'd seen them at this year's End of The Road festival, last month,ju where they were ok but just played too long for my taste (see above - probably about an hour but it felt more like 3).  Some of the songs were ok but it all was all a bit lost on the main Woods stage on a warm late Summer Sunday afternoon.

On the other hand 30 minutes in a sweaty club in Middlesbrough on a Saturday night in October was a date made in heaven.  50 somethings pogoing, doing that slamming into each other thing, somebody from the same group crowd surfing.  Oh dear!

I'm only joking, I'm not going to dis it.  It was all very entertaining ('with' rather than 'at') as were the band.  I've since had another listen to Pom Poko on Spotify.  Mmmmm. in fairness they were better live.  I enjoyed them but twice is probably enough.

So that was it.  Another super successful Twisterella  and long may the event continue.  Big shout out to the organisers/promoters/venues and the 1500 people that turned up.  And cheers to Morning Star for nice words about Boro.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

So what's the word then - again?

Wrote my last post with trepidation.  Think I've actually forgotten how to write anything more than 280 characters.  In fairness I don't think I ever really worked out what or how much to tweet or when to like/reply/re-tweet etc.

I've just checked, I tweeted 203 times in about 3 and a half years.  Wish I'd stopped at 200.  Think I could have left it at that, I love round numbers and all that but 203?  I dunno...... as I said I'm off Twitter for now anyway.  I just hope my 68 followers will be ok without me.

By the time anybody joins me here it should all be running as sweet as a nut.  Just re-learning how to do all the sidebars and stuff.  I knacked it all up last year and couldn't work out how to put it right but I think I've sussed it all out.

Think that'll do for tonight.  Will just leave you with the Avett Brothers and We Americans from their  wonderful new album Closer Than Together.  I'm a sucker for truth and honesty.

 It's given me an idea about maybe writing a song about Captain Cook's exploits in New Zealand.  Might try it out at an open mic night or something.  Probably not in the Boro though.


What can I say?  That was quite a break but I'm back and I'm going to have little trial "writing stuff up" on my blog as part of a making better use of my "Twitter time".  I estimate (very roughly) I've been spending about 2 hours a day on Twitter (and increasing), most of which is non-productive.  I always start with the idea of picking up my latest news but then invariably meander into the comments which then leads to all the bickering/arguments/insults.  Anybody on Twitter (and if you don't fall into this trap you're a better man/woman than I) must know what I'm on about. It just brings the worst out in people including me to be honest.  I don't argue/bicker/throw insults but I'm sometimes only half a click away from doing so.   

Anyway, I've deleted the App from my phone and am going to delete it from my computers once my current conversations are over and I'm off Twitter until the end of the month.

So, 2019 eh?  Actually nearly 2020.  Jeez...  and nearly 14 years blogging!  Ha ha, hardly!  I hear anybody who's followed any of this drivel before.  Apart from the odd sojourn I haven't posted regularly for years but feel free to trawl through the archives on Blogger and Live Journal.   

I rarely look back myself.  The personal bits (from memory lots of it) just make me sad. I was relatively youthful and full of energy when I started blogging and precious people I talked about are now no longer with us.   That said, on the 3rd January 2006 as part of my new year's resolution I said, 

"Firstly, I thought I'd have a go at this journal thing. I don't think I'm a brilliant writer or anything but I do have interests, theories and opinions on plenty of subjects so I might as well write them down. If nothing else it will act as a record of my thoughts until I grow tired or become too lazy to fill it in."

So here I am in 2019 obviously older.
Wiser? - maybe.  
Have I still got interest, theories, opinions about everything?  - yep.  
Is it worth writing down?  I think it is.  
Can I be bothered?  Let's have a go and see, at least for a short while.  I can always pad it out with a few photos.


Tuesday, 24 July 2018

40 years and Counting (down)

Some milestone eh?  Yep, I started working here 40 years ago today.  WTF!  No, actually WHAT THE FUCK!!!!

My (just) 17 year old self in 1978 could not have imagined what the world would look like in 2018.  I wish I'd written myself a letter and sealed  it up to be opened 24 July 2018!

No I don't.  What the hell would have said anyway?

When I was 17 I was into music (punk of course), cricket and the Boro.

I still love music (not punk of course), cricket (not so much) and the Boro (much more so) so in some ways not a lot has changed.  I was forming my political ideas and already really into fighting racism which has been a life long fight documented in my blog many times.

I was learning about Apartheid and was convinced justice would soon prevail and the all white South African government would be overthrown.  Apartheid went on until the early 1990's, another 12+ years.  It seemed a long wait, yet 12 years back from (approximately) today  seems like yesterday.  I read a book that had quite a bit about perception of time over the years.... Fascinating and at times a bit scary.   I'll save that for another post.

Ha ha, not everything has changed though.  At least my rambling writing style is the same.

You can probably tell I've done lots of reflecting today.  Not much at all about the job itself, just about my journey into work that day and my mam and dad and my uncles and aunties who were all alive.  What I had for lunch.  Having to work during the 6 week summer holiday.

They're going to present me with a certificate tomorrow and I'm guessing they will expect a few words.  As above might be ok.

Over and out.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Day 10 - Blogger Post 243 - Pre-Work Blues and plans.

Well I almost managed it.  I've broken promises runs of posts so many times so I didn't mention the plan.  I planned to post every day of my holiday at home and only failed to post yesterday.   Close but no cigar!

My good friend Richard G and real blogger spotted there was life here and mentioned it on FB.  Daily views are now up to the dizzy heights of 6 - Cheers Rich.

I've quite enjoyed doing being at the keyboard again and it's been less onerous than I remember. Then again I've been off work.  It's hardly been thrilling stuff but it is what it is circa 2017.  You can't expect the knock about stuff that was going on 10 years ago.

A quick check has just confirmed that I started "writing stuff up" as I always call it 2 January 2006.  Lots has changed since then both in my life and the outside world.  I've just had a flick through both LiveJournal and Blogger, it's all there if you too are inclined.  I used to go on about my family, music, exercising, politics, cricket, the Boro and the pub. Not much knock about stuff to be honest and pretty much the same sort of stuff I've been up to the last week. Maybe not that much has changed?

Needless to say I've got plans.  Ha ha, again .....

Friday, 18 August 2017

Day 8 - Is there no end to this fun?

Wolf Alice were actually quite good.  As I mentioned, I had seen them before but couldn't really remember much apart from having a female vocalist.  Long standing followers know I always remember the girls.  A good rock/pop band playing some good songs with some decent hooklines. None particularly memorable but I'm not complaining.

It was really nice to be back upstairs at The Westgarth.  The sound was excellent, I could even hear the vocals, they are so often (maybe intentionally) lost in the live mix.  As I mentioned last night Wolf Alice had tagged a few smaller venue shows dates at the front end of their tour and it was very nice of them to include Boro in the "warm up" dates.

I'm sure there was method behind the madness.  From my (fairly vast) experience bands at the very least get a fair crack of the whip in the Boro and especially at The Westgarth.  The bands always appreciate the respectful and usually enthusiastic audience and the care taken by their local promoters and Steve, the laid back venue host. It was always going to be a love in.  I wasn't their the first time WA played there but I'll bet it was a love in and so it was again last night.

Good luck to Wolf Alice when they move onto play the bigger venues.  We are the Boro!

The Kids Are Solid Gold nights continue to be special from the personal greeting from Andy, Phil, Siobhan and Steve when you walk in to meeting up with old friends to talk about what's coming up, what you're listening to at the moment to reminiscing about the great shows of the past.  And last night was no different.

Even better, nowadays it's not just TKASG promoting shows on at The Westgarth. Other promoters such as Steve Harland, Martin Mathers and Dave Griffiths put shows on of varying genres ensuring the old Working mens club continues to thrive. Long may it continue.

And big NB to the fair people of Middlesbrough.  We need to keep turning up.

Note to self............

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Day 7 - Not much going on in my world today

Just as well as I'm not feeling great. Things were going too good, I've been well for ages but my IBS has flared up which causes me other issues health wise. It's the sort of thing that would have sent me running to see my GP 5 years ago but I just get on with it nowadays. As long as there is a decent toilet I can run too I just get on with thing.   I know, what a martyr.

I'm off to see Wolf Alice at The Westgarth tonight with Ste. They played there 4 years ago but have moved upwards and onwards since then. I didn't go but I'm pretty sure I saw the at EOTR 2013.

So WA are playing a few warm up dates at smaller venues before they move on to their main tour.  Quite a coup for The Kids Are Solid Gold and the Westgarth itself.

Will report back tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Day 6 - Bramble Picking and back over to Carlton via The Transporter

We've had another busy day.  I don't know about Shamila but I'm starting to flag a bit.

We planned to pick some brambles from my secret stash over the border (found Monday).  Travelling from north of the river it seemed a good idea to drive to Port Clarence and take an as the crow flies short cut over the Transporter.  

What's not to love about The Transporter  (Wikipedia hyperlink for non locals)?  Still a working bridge and all that blah, blah blah.  I hadn't been travelled on the gondola for over 20 years and Shamila hadn't been over since she was a kid.  I didn't tell her my plan until the last minute and it earned loads of brownie points for such a simple trip.  Yes!!!!!

We picked our brambles (more of that on Facebook) from our secret supply before heading over to Lord Stones  to right the wrong of yesterday.  Here's a photo of me giving Shamila a pre-walk pep talk.

and it seemed to do the trick.  We worked back over and cracked it.  We're going to have another go at doing the complete walk next week.

Going to have a rest tomorrow.  Well, I might go to the gym.  Hope you don't lose any sleep with the excitement.

Here's another sixties number.  

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Day 5 - Walking, Eating and The Boro

I had a bit of a play about with the design of my Blog.  I really wish I could get it to line up the photos a bit better, collage like or something. It looks crap. I took all the stuff from the sidebars (tech term which means down the sides).  It was all old stuff and I can't be bother to maintain it.  I know it's far from great.  I might have another go later.

So what have I been up to today?  Once again, I am able to report, plenty.

Me and Sham decided to do a walk I'd pulled out of the Gazette a few moths ago by long standing correspondent Bob Woodhouse.  It was described as "Raisdale Circular, a 6 1/2 miles from Lordstones out and around Cringle and West Bilsdale moors".  I can only describe it as an enjoyable slog.  The instructions were vague to say the least but we were still on track  4/5 of the way round until we finally had to admit to defeat after failing to find a supposed gap in a wall either at the top or bottom of Wath Hill and just trudged back along Raisdale Road just over a mile back to Lordstones.  Can't speak for Shamila but I was knackered and a bit dispirited to be honest.

Here are a couple of photos.

I guess you win some you lose some and under normal circumstances that would have been it.  It's a bit of a trek to get over to Carlton from Billingham but what the hell, over a beauty lunch at the Blacksmith's Arms at Carlton we decided to go over again tomorrow to try and work it out.

And the Boro tonight?  An uninspiring 2-0 against sure to end up bottom of the table,  Burton Albion.  Not great but 3 points and up to 4th in the table.  It's very early in the season but better to be 4th in the table than 24th.

More adventures in Carlton tomorrow.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Day 4 - Fantastic Day

Today went just as I'd played out in my mind and unusually I managed to do everything planned.  I  had a good session at the gym, did my tour of Middlesbrough and met up with Shamila mid-afternoon. We headed off to Whitby for a game of crazy (to the unenlightened) or mini (to those in the know) golf and fish and chips for our tea.

I'm pretty knackered so I'm just going to let the photos tell my story of today if that's ok?  Might do an early post tomorrow.  I've got the Boro match tomorrow night.


Sunday, 13 August 2017

Day 3 - In The Boro part 1 and chores

Inspired by a flick at a book Shamila got her Dad for his 86th birthday (3 cheers) about the history of central Middlesbrough I thought I'd have a mooch around my home town, "The Boro".  I'm a bit ashamed I've never done it before.

There's not an awful left of "the olden days" in Middlesbrough to be honest.  Here's an article from the Gazette a couple of years ago about some of the buildings we've lost.  Read it and weep.  For example in fairly recent years we've lost the old St Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Sussex Street that was demolished after an arson attack in 2000

and the Cleveland Scientific Institution which was demolished in 2006 to make way for a car park.

 You couldn't make it up. I won't say it was a criminal act because I might get into trouble. In any case Mandale Properties and Middlesbrough Council had no case to answer because all the correct procedures were followed in relation to its demolition. Well that's the main thing.

And after that rather splendid intro (if I say so myself)  I'm sad to report due to circumstances out of my control we (me and Sham) had to abandon today's tour after about 40 minutes.

We got as far as Exchange Square, buildings including Exchange House, now known as the House of Blah Blah, behind it including the Impasse Centre (vague memories of local concerts here in the late seventies/early eighties).

and the Railway Station.  It was looking good but hey ho I'm off tomorrow so I'll give it another go and report back again.

I'll say manyana then.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Day 2 - No Mo!

Gutted Mo couldn't double up.  What a superstar.  The best British sportsman bar none in my lifetime.  As I'm watching he's posing for lots of selfies with VIP's in the front row around the stadium,  agh.....?  Wasn't not so keen on that bit to be honest.

Bit of sport going on today.  It was also Boro's first home game of the season and and we won. Though it was far from thrilling.  Almost tempted to say "are you Karanka in disguise" to Gary Monk.  We played really well for about 20 minutes in the first half when we scored but we a bit lucky in the end. Bamford and Christie were great but Assombalonga didn't look as good as Kike did on his home debut 2 seasons ago for me.  It's early days and I'll be back there on Tuesday.  It's still unconditional love for the team but I don't feel any obligation to give Boro any early season benefit of doubt after Gibson bizarre intervention in the general election campaign.  

Me and Sham went for an exhilarating "sprint" this morning up and down the Tees from Stockton to Dinosaur Park and back.

Shamila swears she can't jog but lots of people run slower than we march.  We didn't have any formal stops but there's an endless supply of brambles this year it would have been rude not to indulge.

Lots not quite ready but enough are ripe and gorgeous and the great thing about being an old man is you know exactly when they're ready.

We're going back again tomorrow to pick some to stock up for some bramble crumbles.

In celebration of my return I'm going to share a few old tunes so ....

More tomorrow.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Day 1

So the first day of my home holiday is over.  Well just my normal day off from work but it's ok to count it as the first day as it makes it up to a nice round 10 days isn't it?  Actually one of the benefits of being part-time is that I get more holidays (at least in my mind) .  I haven't worked Friday's now for over 7 years and it still sometimes feels like I'm nicking off on a Friday.  The pay I lose for cutting a day is negligible, a benefit of being so poorly paid I like to think.  Shh.., don't tell anybody, they'll all want to do it.

You might have noticed I haven't been posting much for .... well a long time now.  Enough to be able to tell people "I write a blog" mind, not that I ever do. I haven't even got an excuse.  I've still got plenty to say but I've been doing other stuff.  Y'know, the gym, walking, reading the news, reading a few books, listening to music, watching TV box sets, currently Ozark (it's pretty good but I've just found out how the series ends from some unknown person on Facebook - bummer) blah blah blah.  All pretty mundane stuff but it keeps me occupied.  I'm not moaning (well I am a bit) but I'm still searching (nod to Kevin Rowland).  Do you know what I mean?  And I wouldn't have it any other way unless I actually find "it".

Anyway, regular readers (ha ha, sure everybody's given up by now) will recognise the pattern. Me babbling on hoping some inspiration will appear out of thin air. It might but if it doesn't I'm content rambling on autobiographical stylee for me to read back to myself when I'm too old to do anything else.  It will remind me what a fun loving guy I used to be.

Anyway, so what have I done today?  Well actually plenty.  As well as watch an episode of Ozark,  I read all the newspapers on and off all day, I went to the gym, cut my lawns, fixed my hedge trimmers (I cut through the cable last time I used them), cut my privet and listened to over 3 hours of random play music on my ipod (who said I couldn't multi-task?) all before picking Shamila up from work at 4.30 pm.  Phew!

So, time to say goodnight.

Just for a bit of filler