Friday, August 24, 2007

A Quick post from NZ


It's now Friday afternoon here in NZ - am totally screwy on the dates and times in relation to elsewhere - and we have just returned from an overnight stay in Hamner Springs. We're off on Monday to take the train on the TranzCoastal route up to Picton and then on to Wellington for a couple of nights. Woo and Hoo! Should be good.

Weather here has been incredible and I can't believe how sunny it has been - the last couple of days at least have been warm enough to actually not wear a coat! It's the equivalent of February here!

Toot toot dear ones. A steady of stream of postcards should have started wending their way to the UK from LA and NZ and more to follow, but otherwise look out for the return and the pics and holiday review.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

'Ello peeps!

This is Los Angeles calling!

Thanks to the non-miracle of modern telephony that is the US system, of course my cellphone doesn't work here. Grr. Serves me right to get carried away after texting from NZ last year.

Anyway, here we are at LAX waiting to go two days into the future.

We have had a spiffy time here contrary to many expectations or fears: Hollywood is a stranger mix of tattoo parlours, goth shoops and scientologists. But seeing the Egyptian, Chinese and El Captain cinemas was awesome. Today we have been on Santa Monica beah and it was HOOOTTTTT!!!

Bettr sign off. Will try to be in touch. To those who fretted about me, I'm fine. I even managed to take care of someone in a worse state than me when flying out of Heathrow.

Cheers peeps.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Goodbyee- goodbyee!

Holiberry. Of to LA and NZ.

See ya chicks. I will try to post some time but if not see you in Sept.


Sofa envy

Seriously, I mean, seriously, I have major sofa-envy.

Finding Film: the importance of broadening cinema on mainstream TV?

Interesting that on the back of overhearing a debate on the radio this morning about the merits of funding the BFI film and TV archive against funding restoration of the Cutty Sark, I should stumble across a little post by Pete Ashton, resident Brum spokesperson and ace photographer and all round good culture vulture for the greater Birmingham region.

Today I found Ashton's piece on how he first learn about films, especially non-British films, via the wonders of TV.

He's right to note that it's become something of a returning complaint in recent years - that mainstream terrestrial TV no longer caters to the broader dynamics of presenting film. Once upon a time, BBC2 had regular foreign films (even if they were sometimes at ungodly hours of the day - though crucially several were scheduled in prime time), and regular serious film review programmes, AND the brilliance of Alex Cox's Moviedrome slot with a good intro to the subsequent screening. I watched dozens of classic films on my portable b&w tv (good job many of them were b&w!). Now, unless you fancy - and can get - BBC4, you're pretty much bollixed for seeing non-US/UK films. Hell, even C4 used to give its late nights over to so called art-house cinema. As for getting an education in film history: forget it.

So Pete Ashton's solution is rental. And I have to say its something I have been considering for some time and may well take up. I quite fancy working my way through a catalogue of great world cinema, both as a reminder of my youth and to see more of the films I really should have watched anyway.

What were the films you remember seeing that now never get a terrestrial outing? Or do you think the segmentation and reliance on digital channels is positive for new generations to learn about film?

Or will the fact that we're ALL going to be digital soon enough make this argument redundant? Does it matter if mainstream channels don't screen older, classic, world cinema films if they're available on DVD or specialist channels?

Cloud's Summer Sundae 07 pics of Kitty Daisy and Lewis

Go see - Kitty, Daisy and Lewis were brilliant and these pics capture some of that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

If this picture doesn't make your heart sing...

... then you are past hope.

Jams brings us a spectacular flower.

Edinburgh Comedy night in aid of ACCORD

Awh, shame they couldn't have scheduled this whilst Anna was up in Edinburgh but this event looks grand - and is in a good cause:

Comedians appearing at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe are staging a special one off Dcotor Who themed comedy show as part of the appeal fund, raising money in memory of David Tennant's mother, Helen McDonald, who died recently.

The gig will take place at the Laughing Horse@Linsays, (Fringe Venue 56), on Saturday 18th August from 9.10pm - 10.10pm.

Although the show is not ticketed, and is not part of the official Fringe programme, those attending will be asked to donate £10, with all proceeds going to the ACCORD hospice where Mrs McDonald worked for many years, and where she spent her final days.

Among the comedians taking part so far are Mitch Benn, Bill Bruce and Toby Hadoke whose 2006 Fringe hit - Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf - has recently been turned into a successful BBC Radio show.

This is a late night show, and is therefore not suitable for anyone under that age of 18. Entry is on a strictly first come, first admitted basis.

The full line-up of acts will be announced prior to the event.

Ken Mathie, Fundraising Manager for the ACCORD hospice, commented: "Everyone associated with ACCORD has been extremely moved by the public reaction to Helen’s passing. She was such a lovely person and will be sorely missed by everyone who was fortunate enough to know her. This show is a wonderful example of the support we are receiving from fans of Doctor Who and I wish all the comedians involved every success"

So far fans have raised over 9,000 pounds from the appeals set up by and members of the Outpost Gallifrey Forum.

Donations can still be made at People who donate are asked not to mention David Tennant in the comments section, in order to protect his privacy.
Notice from Outpost Gallifrey's news page. Personally, if I wasn't a continent away, I'd have loved to have gone... if only for the wonderful Mitch Benn.

Summer Sundae pictures

BBC Leicester site - bands

BBC 6Music photographs

Flickr pictures tagged Summer Sundae 07

Tip me to any more you find people...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Review: Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Or should that be Ma Phillips?

Awh, bless her. On reading this gem of a book, you can see how she has well-deserved all the grinning plaudits the book has drawn. It is, quite simply, a delight. Gods Behaving Badly is currently - as at 13 August 2007 - 122nd bestseller on That's not bad going our chuck! And its a thrill to see her book on the shelves and promoted in bookshops and think: I know her!! (well, I know its only in the blog-kinda 'know' way, but given the exchanges we've shared I think I can claim some level of 'knowing').


It's well-written (god, you would/wouldn't be surprised at the appalling numbers of poorly expressed prose out there). It has a well-driven plot. It has characters you care about (even, or especially, the horrid ones: Daniel Craig living it up as the arrogant but beauteous Apollo? Bring that casting on).

It has well-constructed settings (I felt I could visualise the house of the Gods and other places without excessive tell-the-reader everything descriptions). And best of all it makes fine use of all those half-remembered Greek Gods and Goddesses. By the end I was cheering Artemis and the gang, grinning at the lovely Neil and Alice's adventure and wondering how utterly brilliant a filmed version would be.

It's a joy to read, and not just because of Hermes...

Guy Garvey's tribute to Tony Wilson

I'm not exactly an Elbow lover, so Guy Garvey doesn't entirely induce cheer in me. Still, you had to love his tribute to Tony Wilson whose death he acknowledged on Saturday by recounting his first meeting with the H himself. Apparantly GG had a full speech of praise prepared. Only a few points into his cataloguing of influence, however, Wilson promptly said "fuck off" and walked away.

It's a credit to what the man was that such a tale continued to endear him to Garvey (let alone us).

Summer Sundae 2007 - Sunday

Sunday was unsurprisingly a more chilled down day. There was plenty of leftfield stuff on offer but somehow we managed to miss most of the good stuff that Mike had aimed for (note to self: check with the music doyen before attending to get good music tips!).

Still, that might give the impression that Sunday was a let down: no, no, no.

The tent was way too packed for anything like an experience of The Strange Death of Liberal England, so we instead pootled off for some trad jazz from Sonny Monks' Jazz Band. Always nice when the sun comes out (as it, against expectations, did) to have some sunny jazz. We then took in some of Cherry Ghost, especially enjoying a recognition for "People Help the People". We then wandered for some energetic ska from El Pussycat before sneaking out to enjoy a side-stage view and delight in the surreal Milton Jones (aka the new and slightly less deadpan Steven Wright). Playing in much the same slot as Mitch Benn did last year, it was again a delightful interlude of fun, with the usual display of humour on chocolate shoes, his favourite film ("released under the name of 'and'..."), and an excess of various grandfathers. Momentarily he got undercut by the audience when he asked for 'teachers', got a shout-up and asked "what do you teach?": the reply came "children"... We even had the "pie to three dismal places" routine, with a special mention for Nottingham...

We then struttered back to the Musician Stage for a packed out performance by Seasick Steve, with a serious amount of awesome playing and truth-telling lyrics of a hard-bitten life (didn't stop one wag at the merchandise tent later muttering 'he can't be that broke now if he sells t-shirts at £15 each...'). Noshing fish and chips as we had so loved doing last year whilst listening/half watching The Pigeon Detectives, the sun was by now seriously out. With a lively front-man (somehow not half as annoyingly strutty as The Displacements lad had been, despite very similar moves) they kept many of young crowd especially very cheery and took time to enjoy the surreal signs displayed to them. "Get Your Owl Out" - which I had seen walked past me earlier on - caused particular amusement as he got the banner up on stage and got the whole crowd to shout the phrase out before skimming the sign back to its owner. I'd have loved to have seen the thrill of the sign-maker! (Later, we had the fun of seeing them doing their signing session at the 6Music Hub Tent. Cue one girl, posed with the band yelling to an oblivious mobile phone camera carrying parent "FATHER!" He did turn round and take the shot!)

At 6.30 it was a bit of a tear as to where to head next. We stood in the tent for Alberta Cross but it took less than 8 seconds before we were bored witless by their serious country rock and beards: meh. Forgoing Gruff Rhys (sorry Rob and Mike), we instead hurtled up to the Musician stage again where we were treated to a very fine and thoroughly grin creating gig from Tom Russell. An utterly anti-Nashville country, cowboy and folk singer with a wry humour, he provided a fabulous time with great musical assistance from Michael Martin. He sparkled between songs with the banter of an experienced professional performer (reciting tales of being asked questions on plane journeys due to his passport saying musician he reported how he is often asked "are you someone I should know?", to which he always replies 'no' - since he doesn't really want the love of sharp suited lawyers and other assorted briefcase-carrying businessmen. The next question, he reported, was usually "what kind of music do you do?": "I've now decided that the best answer to give is Christian Hip-Hop...")

Anyway, with vocal accompaniment from audience member Julie Christensen (a former Leonard Cohen backup singer), we got treated to a fabulous and rambunctious set, including a fabulous track called "Who's Gonna Build Your Wall?" which totally encapsulates everything Cloud has been saying for an age about the stupidity of the US chucking out illegal Mexican immigrants...

It was such an excellent show that I felt compelled to dash out for more cash - despite knowing it would incur charges - just to be able to get some CDs. Definitely fab fun!

After that, we came out to "Rescue" by Echo and the Bunnymen and retrieving some lost youth sentiments, we thoroughly enjoyed some divine old memories including an especially vigorous "The Cutter", a fizzy and quirky paced "Never Stop" (the song I most loved to blast to kingdom come from my bedroom), and drawling delights such as "The Killing Moon", "Seven Seas" and "Bring on the Dancing Horses". They finished with a sublime reworking of "Nothing Lasts Forever" which was blurred into "Walk on the Wild Side" and back out again (with a nice aside to "Leicester City is the place where you say 'hey babe, take a walk on the wild side...'"). Cracking.

We missed the start, but we then quickly rushed in the hall to catch The Broken Family Band bringing their own take on alt-country lyrical subversion. Ending on everyone's favourite "It's All Over" they were a thoroughly enjoyable way to (almost) finish the festival. Even if some idiot at the front decided to moan at them. Bastard (but not said in the joyful mocking tone of Tom Russell's banter to his audience).

After that we tried to stay for the Spiritualized Acoustic Mainlines set... but...

We tried. We did. But two blokes sat facing each other across the stage, even with a string quartet and three enthused black gospel girl singers, was just not thrilling enough... Stu has raved about it from hearing the radio and maybe I was just not in the zone for it. Anyway it all became moot when my foot suddenly began hurting as if it had been twisted. Urgh. I hobbled to the hall to sit down in the bar, wincing in minor-league pain. Then a former student of mine joined us and we had a nice little catch up (we'd seen her at last year's festival too). That was quite fun but I was seriously beginning to flag. I knew that unless we forked out for a taxi to get to the car park I still had a walk down to the car. Boo. Reluctantly we ditched staying indoors for Duke Special (I'd have had to get upstairs to a seat and just couldn't face another walk) and began a much slower than expected trundle to the car park - avoiding the patented Neilie-knows-the-way route which last year took us on a grand walking detour of the entire Leicester city ring road... But the drama wasn't quite over as we had to negotiate with NCP to sort out our parking ticket: we had had it 'validated' at DMH but I had overheard when we did so that some people had had problems with the cheaper parking price this should have guaranteed. As anticipated, it took a little doing, but finally the NCP phone guy agreed to our cheaper rate and sorted us out. Phew. Now we just had to get out of Leicester... Easier said than done with our sense of direction and map-reading skills. It took us 5 extra miles of driving to get back as it had to get to Leicester. Pah.

Home, pitta bread, humous, cuppa tea. Bed.

Three days done: all good, and as last year with much MUCH more we could have done instead or as well. But even with a small festival you can't see it all. The best thing - whilst also being a slight disappointment - was there was no dedicated CD selling stall and far less flogging of CDs by artistes. Frustrating as we so enjoying picking up the artists work last year, but probably a good thing as we spent about £200 last year on music!!!

Right, now off to pack for the vacation!

Cud (kinda) at Summer Sundae 2007 - Saturday

Now, we HAD been really looking forward to seeing Cud on the indoor stage of De Montfort Hall itself. Sarah understand this anticipation as she too was a Cud fan. So you will appreciate the mixture of emotions we felt when it was annouced that Carl's partner had just given birth to boucing 9lb 2oz Reuben at 1.30pm that very afternoon. There would be no inimitably voiced Carl, the fuzzy haired lead singer?! How could we possibly have a gig?!

Well, it shouldn't have worked.

It really should have stunk of bad cheese.

It should have been an embarrassment.

But it SO wasn't.

The band stayed and invited members of the audience to join 'Cud Karaoke' (or as the festival newsletter phrased it, 'Cud-U-Like').

It was, quite simply, a triumph (possibly of something over something but I can't find the words).

As a series of blokes (and two women) proceeded to live the dream and sing Cud songs in a variety of faux-Carl styles, it was a pleasure and a sizable crowd lapped up the sheer audacity and joie-de-vivre of the experience. I mean, come on, karaoke at your local pub means a 3 watt amp, a dodgy microphone and your bevvied up mates in a space barely the size of your average house. This was performing on a proper stage! With a proper sound system and engineers! With a VERY considerable audience! With one of your favourite bands ('cos, lets face it, you wouldn't be there that much by chance if you were one of those going up on stage)!

First up was, suitably, a young bloke in a blue Cud t-shirt. Nice one! He was pretty darn fine and came back twice more, including for 'Eau Water', the finale. We had bellied blokes. We had blokes bring a young girl - daughter? - on stage to dance (and contribute a fine yell of 'Boots!' to a spirited version of 'Hey Boots!'). We had pointless dancing as a mate did the singing (always an enjoyable sight). We had two women brave the stage, and though one eventually took fright and let her - actually very able voiced - friend take over, they drew some very enthused cheers.

And everyone who went on stage got to hug and shake hands with the band, who were clearly having a whale of time (and indeed did joke they might do this again sometime - I'd watch out Carl!). You can get a flavour of the event with this series of clips from the mighty source of all videos.

Enjoyability factor: 10/10 for the sheer unexpectedness of it all!

Summer Sundae 2007 - Saturday

Saturday's line-up looked equally promising, with plenty of enjoyment ahead. So it proved, especially with a ladel load of sunshine in the mix for the second day in a row. Woo-hoo!

We finally tootled over to Leicester and got there just after lunch, missing some of the early bird sets by the likes of trying-WAY-too-hard-to-be-a-typical-indie-rock-stud band, The Displacements*. However, we were in perfect time to grab a front row barrier stance for Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. Reading their biog as being teenager siblings doing rockability with accordian, double bass, hawaiian guitar etc, we thought it would be fun.

WOAH! They were storming! By the end of song two they had drawn everyone from everywhere with their hip-swinging 50s zip. With Dad Graeme and mum Ingrid on guitar and double bass respectively, they stormed the afternoon with an energy that showed their years but talent way beyond what you might expect for their youth. They've previously charmed Blue Peter, Glastonbury and more and deserve to be huge. Definitely the big grin moment of the day (part one). It was no surprise to find the Magic Numbers amongst their fans, as they congregated to the rear of the stage and lapped up the fun. With a mix of hillbilly, rockabilly and general delight infusing their musicianship, it was a thrill to watch. We pleaded for more, but the tight timings denied us, so Buona Sera it was (albeit in the afternoon). Still, they DID get more as later that day they were invited to join the Magic Numbers for the final song of the Saturday night: bummer we were going to miss that...

Anyway, after the highlight of K, D, and L, We then enjoyed a little background music from the likes of the Andy Griffiths Band. We mooched, enjoyed Jazz Jamaica in the sun, had ice-cream and ducked momentarily in the comedy tent (which wasn't very funny). It was time to go indoors and experience a second highlight of the day which was both highly anticipated and yet completely unexpected. That was the Cud experience (an event well deserving its own post - sorry folks!).

After that amount of sheer bonkersness, we had a breather and joined the ever dourly wonderful Malcolm Middleton. Ah, the requisite amount of Scottishness there folks! With fabulous violin accompaniment, his soured lyrics cheered any number of paunching blokes (and me).

One of the bands I really wanted to see was Maps, the live expanded version of Northampton's finest current band. Having first caught them via the hypnotic "Don't Fear" being featured on a Word compilation, I was very keen to see how they translated their dense soundscapes to the live arena. I needn't have feared. Though clearly James has yet to master inter-song banter as well as he manages the electronica equipment he so successfully manipulates ("cheers!" "Ta") they were nevertheless gorgeous to see and hear. The sound enveloped the audience, wrapping us in thick layers of swooping sounds and gently repeated lyrics. With tracks from both their mini-album 'Start Something' and the debut album proper 'We Can Create', the 45 mins we had with them was thrillingly lovely. "To the Sky", "Elouise" "Start Something" and of course "Don't Fear" were all especially wonderful...

Now after this, we should by rights have stuck around for lovely Missy Martha Wainwright. Cloud had caught her Hub performance to join me late for Maps, and I had fancied seeing Rufus's wonderful sister.


Hunger and age overtook us and La Tosca called for a second year for a well-earned sit down and proper food. So it was we missed seeing Martha. So shoot us (please not literally).

By the time we returned, the Sophie was in her full-blown pop princess mode, captivating an extraordinarily substantial element of the diverse audience. Fun while it lasted but I needed something to sooth me and so we dipped in with perfect timing to catch Low's ever-spine-tingling "(That's How You Sing) Amazing Grace". Housed in the cavern-like Hall, the intimacy their work gained in the Rescue Rooms was lost, so as tempting as it was we skipped off for a taster of Simple Kid (alongside the female halves of the Magic Numbers, Michelle and Angela).

After that we were torn. Part of us wanted to be good and experience the noise and energy of !!! (Chk, Chk, Chk), but somehow we were seduced by the cheery happy feel of The Magic Numbers. Gosh, darn it, they really are just bundles of fun. And we saw that Graeme from Kitty, Daisy and Lewis was on stage during the soundcheck/set-up... oooh...

After a few songs, including "Forever Lost", we did nip off for a quick bite of the !!! cherry, but the sun-going down delight of a hot summer's evening with the Numbers was too hard to resist and we went back out: after all, unless we fancied hanging about till the 1am train, we had to leave early anyway to get the train back to Nottm. Grr... Still, at least we got chance to congratulate Lewis and Graeme for the awesome performance earlier in the day and they were very excited about Kitty, Daisy and Lewis getting the chance to do the finale song with the Numbers.

So it was that after a number of sing-a-long hits and more, we had to reluctantly consider leaving. We caught Martha Wainwright starting up a version with the Numbers of 'Some Velvet Morning' in honour of the wonderful and late-departed Lee Hazlewood, but there was no way we dare stay later.

Of course, the train was 5 mins late which meant we could probably have chanced at least another 10 mins extra at the concert, but that would have led to last minute running on an emptying stomach... not good for a Lisa...

A very fine second day indeed.

* After seeing The Displacements around and about the festival and wondering why they - especially the singer - seemed familar but not famous, I remembered where I had last seen his strutty mannerisms: it was during their desperate chat-ups to fawning front row girl fans when they were the 3rd support act to Tilly and the Wall.

The Divine Comedy at Summer Sundae 2007 - Friday

The Divine Comedy - set list review. With plenty from the most recent album (much loved by Anna), but very mindful of the delights of his substantial repetoire, this was a great performance.

Die a Virgin: a wonderful opening, perfectly showing of Hannon's continued expert charm and sexy posing.

National Express: Sing-a-long!!! Hannon in full-on wit commentary drew very cheering singing from the audience. It may have been the height of his silly phase, but he has clearly become more at ease with this aspect of himself.

Diva Lady: Like it's companion piece "Lady of A Certain Age", it well proves that Hannon hasn't lost his touch for incisive analysis.

** Between song banter: Hannon tells us how wonderful we are as an audience - "others have told you, but I mean it", promising us "I'm your one and only" which cues sharp intake of breath from some desirious audience members....

He then introduces the next track as a commentary about the "social delapidation of the state"**

Generation Sex: ah, the t-shirt I have for this still makes me smile because only Hannon or Jarvis could get away with its sentiments.

Lady of A Certain Age: bigger than its acoustic version in the hub, this track was no less magnificent for all its extras. As Anna said, this is Hannon's 'The Art Teacher' - a song that brilliantly captures the passing of time, memory and poignant observation of a more vibrant past.

The Light of Day: the finely orchestrated balladeering of the Divine Comedy has long been one of their trademarks and this proved no exception.

** Between song banter: "right, back to the smutty stuff!"**

Something for the Weekend: one of my very favourite bits of innuendo and dark humour, this was wonderfully well received by the enthusiastic crowd.

** Between song banter: "I'm not as young as I used to be!... can't do many of those in a row anymore... I may as well confess, I'm 36. I got a bad back moving some furniture: for fuck's sake! Oh dear....I shouldn't say those sort of things given my next song's about my mother..."**

Mother Dear: as said of the Hub version, it could easily have been too cloyingly sentimental. Instead it feels heart-felt and touching. Probably not a song everyone could love, but I found it lovely.

** Between song banter: reaching to put back on his sunglasses - they were on, then off, then on throughout the night - Hannon jokes that he can "get away with it because you know I don't mean it... except that I do, but I don't, but I do... ah, layers of meaning..."**

When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe: from album Promenade, that this track fits in so well with the other more recent works is testament to the continued talent that Hannon has bought to the Divine Comedy project. It remains one of his most lush tracks.

** Between song banter: As the sound system picks up some random sounds, Hannon joshes that they're "picking up the local taxi channel - sounds like a Radiohead gig" before launching into a song in three parts about economics, religion and revolution.

The Plough: A tart observation of people's rebellion and realisations of the ways of the world, drawing some world-weary singing of the refrain "I'll plough my own furrow, I'll go my own way".

Mastermind: Regeneration was, at the time, not a well-loved move from Hannon as he ditched the suits and went for the ragged indie look, but the songs still had a verve that could not be surpressed. Amazon described "Watching Neil Hannon's career has been a little like witnessing the spirits of Scott Walker and Jonathan King fighting for control of the same mind." Regeneration may have lacked the fluffy, smutty stuff of his previous couple of albums, but it retained his sparkly commentary.

Your Daddy's Car: with glasses off again, we went for a spin in our favourite vehicle.

** Between song banter: striking an inadvertant chord, Hannon quippingly sings "It's been a hard day's night" as the band launch into...**

Becoming More Like Alfie: done in a funked up style, this again had the crowd joyfully singing along.

Lucy: an early favourite of mine, not least for its appropriation of William Wordsworth, from the lovely first proper album Liberation.

Don't Look Down: another early track, this time from Promenade. That these much earlier tracks sit so elegantly alongside his most recent work shows a continuity of form that others must envy.

Tonight We Fly: Awh, man! The rising pace of this track just swells the heart thinking about it! A wonderful end to the main set.

** Between song banter: after a brief exit, the band are cheered on to the stage and three shadowed figures tap at the lefthand keyboard to give us a quick 'Threesome' - something that causes him to remark that he'd "just had a threesome with Andrew and his wife. I never thought I'd say that..!" He then goes on to try and introduce the next song as a love song about a love triangle, inducing the crowd to willfully yell "My Lovely Horse" in request. Gamely refuting this request and chastising the audience that "it's not a love song, it's about a lovely horse" he goes on to introduce...**

Our Mutual Friend: A stand-out track from his previous album, Absent Friends, this is by turns both touching and raw. The performance of this track is especially excellent with the strings really coming into their own.

Sunrise: having paused just briefly to ask how we were doing, the band launch into the aching sweep of this especially autobiographical track. It was a fitting finale.

With a stage of hanging chandelier-esque lighting, a singer on top flirtatious and entertainer form, and a band of excellent musicianship and beautiful strings, it was a perfect end to the first day.

Summer Sundae 2007 - Friday

After a belated departure to Leicester, discovery that TheQuarter was shut due to screw ups of water supplies due to roadwork, and minus the still-at-work Mr Cloud, I was wondering whether Summer Sundae could possibly live up to expectations. Sure, it didn't have last year's top-ho stars (which really had been a magnificent spread of riches), but I was hopeful...

Well, the sun came out and the need for new sunglasses and suncream was high. This should have been a good clue it would go well, and so it proved!

As I got in I caught bits of Daisy B, Colum Regan and Vijay Kishore on the Musician Stage, though nothing entranced me enough to hang about. I was in 'passing through' mode, taking in the sun, the heat and the generally lovely ambience of the environs. I said hi to the FairTrade stall-holder, who recognised my custom from last year when I bought my lovely woollen knitted jacket (as modelled here when I attended the Nottingham blogmeet in March 07). I spotted some earrings I liked a happily slotted those in place. I was at this point stood at the top of the hill, to the right of the sound desk, from where I could just see down the hill to the 6Music van and beside it a 'Hub' tent.


Is that Neil Hannon I see on that small stage several hundred yards away?!

Galloping down the hill I bag a spot and delight in three lovely songs from the divine Mr Hannon. Ooooh, he is lovely, even with some facial covering. We get two songs from 'Victory for the Comic Muse' ('Mother Dear - a song that should induce sentimental vomiting but which instead, especially in acoustic form, was charmingly poignant, and the sharply observant 'Lady of a Certain Age'). But between them, and though the lad has probably long since tired of it, we get a sublimely smile-stirring 'Songs of Love'. Awh man: a sunny afternoon, dry ground, and Neil Hannon singing 'Songs of Love' on an acoustic guitar with keyboard accompaniment. My festival was off to a great start!

Wandering around again, I saw Fazed (winners of a BBC regional competition to open the main outdoor stage) who were pleasant enough but left me unfazed. Mind, they did end on a nice and lively version of 'Teenage Kicks'. It was still 'all good' as the George would say.

Unfortunately, I then popped in to the Indoor stage of De Montfort Hall and managed to stick less than 3 songs of the band Palladium. The brochure described them thus:

Palladium are classic English eccentrics. They make music that is epic, joyful and ludicrous recalling Pink Floyd, The Police, Hall & Oates and The Who in the early 70's. Brave is a band who wear tweed jackets and golf visors onstage and have names like Rufio, Fez and Rocky – supernaturally talented musicians who look like they got lost in fancy dress cupboard.
Um, no.

Sorry, but eccentric now apparantly means you get a bassist as lead singer (seemingly channeling the spirit of Level 42, but thankfully minus the guitar strapped way-up across the rib-cage) and a keyboardist with a sideways worn open-top baseball cap doing that very eighties wiggly body-bending 'dancing'. And did I mention that the singer was wearing very tight WHITE jeans?

I tried to think of them as intentional pastiche, a laff, you might say.

After less than 3 songs, I was on my way out of the door...

Still, by two songs into Kate Nash, Cloud had arrived. Hurrah!

We then went to the Rising Stage and caught the end of Saab 900i (and wished we'd managed to see more - and could find out more about them), and then stayed for the very chilled combo performance of kREEPA Vs ASMO. The Rising Stage, btw, was significantly larger than the diddy-sized tent that we saw the likes of Camera Obscura in last year. Anyway, the schedule for that stage was revised, starting later (3.45pm for Saab instead of 3.30pm, and then knocking onto starting gigs on the hour instead of the half-hour: I seem to recall this happened last year too. Wot? Are the organisers just a bit unprepared for their scheduling?)

K vs A gave us a combo that was kinda jazzy, kinda noise-y and kinda soundscape-y. Interesting, but somehow emotionally unengaging, though it did draw the type of people who wear Einsturzende Neubauten t-shirts (much to Cloud and mine's annoyance, at rememberance of the ignoramuses who failed to book enough tickets for the band's Rock City gig earlier this year. Grr.) It possibly says a lot that I wasn't entirely infuriated to hear the drifting twitterings of Kate Nash's 'Foundations' carry across the air from the main stage...

After that we had some background and passing music from the likes of The Aliens (former Beta Band members - see also here) and The Dirty Backbeats as we had a bit of a walk together in the sun. Nothing really stuck guys, sorry. You were perfectly fine background though.

We then grabbed a wood stove made pizza - very nice indeed - before wandering off to see the always addictive ramblings of lanky-as-ever John Cooper Clarke. God, the guy is ravaged but he can still thrill a crowd. To a packed Musician Stage tent he amused and entertained the crowd with wit and bile, ultimately over-running (though no-one seemed inclined to stop him) enough to clash with the decibels of Swedish harmonised indie poppers The Concretes from the main stage. This should have stopped the JCC show in its tracks, but instead he turned it to his advantage, leading the audience in an inpromptu rendition of the Velvet Underground song 'Who Loves the Sun'. Whoops and cheers duly ensued as he was (happily) persuaded to finish as planned with old favourite 'Beasley Street' and its revisitation in homage to the locality's Lawrence Llewellyn-Bowen revamp, Beasley Boulevard. Cracking stuff.

After that it was off to the Rising Stage to see the utterly grin-fused chaos of Modified Toy Orchestra. After having caught a track of theirs on Radio 3 last year, I was determined to see the Brum man and his gang at work. Woah! It was a total blast! Opening with the classic cow track 'A grand occasion' it continued to enchant and delight the audience, including one small girl perched on her dad's shoulders who just looked bewildered by the sight of these toys being so manipulated. "The Fisher-Price Kraftwerk" as Cloud said. Urged to 'get your pink tie out' by a section of the crowd, frontman Brian Duffy looked suitably confused, but the band cut a dash with their suits and grins and quirky sounds. Brilliant fun. And they ended on a Kraftwork cover (My Pocket Calculator).

After that we took in a wander, absorbing some necessarily outside the packed tent background from Richmond Fontaine before setting ourselves up for The Divine Comedy on the main stage. Cloud nipped off briefly to go inside for some seriously great DJ'ing (apparantly) from DJ Yoda: if it hadn't been the Divine Mr Hannon, I'd have gone to experience some proper scratching and DJ record playing myself: hey, anyone who can drop in Dylan to some DJ-ing has to be worthwhile. However, I couldn't tear myself away from lounge-posing charmer of Ireland.

I'll give The Divine Comedy their own post I think, befitting the end to a glorious day.

Summer Sundae 2007 - the overview review and more is coming...

Last year you got three days worth of list reviews and an overview. Ah, the halycon days when I had so much time. This year was more chaotic, partly because of the forthcoming vacation and partly, well, I just hadn't got the energy.

So that means you will now get a series of reviews written in quick succession. Awh.

And I never even registered that lovely Mike was going to be around on the Sunday. That's how unprepped we were this year...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

DWM New Who Season 3 Companion magazine and other forthcoming activities

Yippee! There was me expecting that this was out the day I fly and expecting to have to squeeze it into my hand luggage. By chance I pop into Forbidden Planet today and YIPPEE! There it is! Hurrah!

So, between now and Wednesday I will be:

  • Dying my hair (it's been cut - and by all accounts people like it)

  • Going to Summer Sundae in Leicester (not camping, just train/taxis)

  • Finishing reading The Eyre Affair

  • Starting and finishing reading - Gods Behaving Badly (signed copy arrived today, personalised by the lovely Ma Phillips)

  • Starting and finishing reading DWM New Who Season 3 Companion magazine

  • Catching up with the most recent issue of the Buffy season 8 comic book

  • Washing clothes dirtied by attending Summer Sundae

  • Packing for vacation
Pah - its all a bit busy!

And some kind Sass-y soul sent me a DVD copy of Blink with the full-length Doctor Who confidential to keep me cheered.


Office packed

Well, by the time I get back from New Zealand and go back to work my office will be in a new location - we're shifting buildings so I had to go in today to pack up my stuff ready for the move.

Bit weird saying goodbye to a building.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wongablog shoots and scores against a particularly annoying fish in a barrel

It's easy to do, but it is an incredibly annoying fish.

Mike got Prince on an off-night

Ouch. I guess even genius can decide they won't play ball, but like Swiss Toni I've never really quite GOT Prince. I like probably a handful of songs - chiefly Sign 'O' the Times - but only the sort of performance that Mike didn't get would have enthused me I suspect...

Political chuckles

Reading the piece on Denis Healey in the Grundie on Saturday made me smile: this piece overall (picking out one of it's choicest remarks and providing an additional anecdote) does the same.

Trots have moved

The drink-soaked kind that is.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

This Is The Orch (and not Superqueens)

The always fascinating Mr Mick has directed me to new project The Orch.

Grand stuff.

Monday, August 06, 2007


After a day with friends reminding us of the queues, security and general paranoia and broo-ha-ha of Heathrow, followed by Scottish Patient's recent loss of patience with airport security (and a quicker than expected descent), I'm somehow not looking forward to our flights next week as much as I would like to be...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Who in NZ

Oh well: they could have screened it on Mondays - which would have meant I could have watched the Xmas special again as well - but I'll settle for the chance to sneak a couple of eps in whilst I'm in New Zealand...

NewWho S3 starts in New Zealand just as we are en route.

Tomorrow in two weeks time will not exist

No, I'm not having an existential crisis.

I'll be in the air where I will go from Saturday to Monday.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Okay, you're freaking me out

Look, whoever it is in Cardiff who keeps phoning Neil's phone but not leaving a message...

There's no good way I can end that sentence is there?

Neil reckon's it's Torchwood...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Bringing on the new Doctor?

Gargh, the recriminations are already up and running, the fearful acceptance of the inevitable truth that nothing lasts forever.

The leaky sieve that is BBC Wales could well have spoken to the Sun - again.

Are they right?

Thoughts are here, here and here [although that last one, as you know, is now 'Members Only']...

UPDATE: "The James Nesbitt story is a total fabrication. Made up. A fantasy. Just a guy sitting at a desk and just inventing stuff.

I wasn't going to say anything, but I'm getting embarrassed for the deeply wonderful Jimmy Nesbitt. So tell everyone please, cos it's getting very silly.

Steven Moffat"

posted at Outpost Gallifrey and copied to their news site...
So there.

Tardis poster

RadioTimes Tardis poster

Oooh! It's almost enough to make me feel cheered up despite the sun going in.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Successful pledge drive at 'Behind the Sofa'

Raising over £400 to keep the bandwidth of those scamps at Behind the Sofa/Tachyon TV, the crew have just launched the site's first competition.

As yet, they haven't written the on-site reviews of these audio CDs - reviews that may prove as much fun as anything the CD stories themselves have to offer - but, you know, competition! The chance to win stuff!

All this after a citation in the Guardian this past weekend...

Jason of the Argosnauts

Cloud has recently taken to asking if I have heard from 'Jason' lately.

This will make perfect sense if anyone has seen - or rather heard - the latest series of adverts for a certain catalogue shop...

UPDATE: just so you can see one of the ads...