Fat Fakir

Heart of Gold. Nerves of Steel. Knob of Butter.

And the woman plays the part of the anchor

Sunday 27th April 2014

Updates back to their unpredictable infrequency. Abnormal service resumed and all that. Anyway, regular readers will be assured to learn that despite abandoning my habit of updating this website, I haven't abandoned my habit of collecting of cheap DVDs although I do have to admit to having a pile of them that are still awaiting a proper viewing. So, in strict alphebetical order, here's a little list, let none of them be missed.

And that, my pretties, is that, for this update. Next time, which may not be that far away given that the football season is almost over and I'll have nowt to do on the weekends, I may regale you with tales of Ted Chippington and my adventures following him. Don't get too excited though - I only went to two gigs. Until the next time, remember to do up your trousers and keep your shoes clean.

Unreliable Musical Memories

Tuesday 25th February 2014

In terms of both live gigs and albums, the last few months have been fairly quiet. There was the Crewe Live festival way back last May, as usual, and I've been out to see a few bands, although nowhere as near as many as I used to in my heyday. Time, distance and alcohol all dull the memories now, so I've probably forgotten something splendid. Anyway, here, in no chronological order are the highlights:

Wire - Contrary old art-rockers enjoying a bit of a renaissance. My friend Charlie and I went to see them in Manchester. They were supported by Xaviers, who are a free-form improvisational trio comprising of a couple of members of Japanese noise-niks Bo Ningen and their mate, visual artist Kenichi Iwasa. Whilst that might sound as exciting as having your teeth filled without anaesthetic, they were actually pretty good. In fact, they gave us a pretty intense 30 minutes or so as you can hear if you listen to Saint Mary on their Soundcloud page. Be sure to turn it up loud. Wire, by contrast, knew exactly what they were doing and gave us a pretty tight set mostly drawn from their recent album, Change Becomes Us. There were a few classics in there from the early '80s and some work in progress stuff that will end up on the next album (hopefully due ere long). They finished the encore by being joined on stage by Xaviers for a thunderous version of 'Drill'. Fantastic.

John Bramwell - I Am Kloot frontman, appearing at the Crown Hotel in Nantwich (just a short stroll from my house) as part of the Nantwich Words and Music festival. This small-scale antidote to the madness of the Easter Jazz Festival regularly attracts some interesting names performing intimate gigs. Last year, as I'm sure you recall, I saw Mark Radcliffe doing his Family Mahone stuff. That was good but, frankly, paled alongside Sir John of Bramwell, who had us spellbound for a good ninety minutes, armed with naught but his guitar, his songs and his witty banter. Quality. So much quality, in fact, that it encouraged me to pick up a couple more I Am Kloot LPs...

Elvis Costello - A summer evening's trip to the Apollo in Manchester to catch Sir Elvis of Costello doing his 'Spectacular Spinning Songbook' stuff. We arrived somewhat early and took advantage of the local chipshop to have some tea, and the local hostelry for some pre-match drinks. We were also able to take advantage of the O2 Priority queue and got into the venue in double-quick time. Dispensing with a support act, Mr Costello took to the stage with a three-piece backing band, a go-go dancer and the mysterious Josephine (who picked the audience members who got to spin the wheel) and gave us a rip-roaring stomp through his back catalogue. The random nature of the songs selected from the spinning wheel did make the set feel a little uneven at times, and there were a number of little-heard tunes thrown in, but his surprisingly strong voice and excellent guitar work made up for that. By the two hour mark he'd long abandoned the artifice of the wheel and was picking the songs himself anyway. Personal highlights were 'Alison', 'Pills And Soap' and 'Shipbuilding' but, you know, it's Elvis Costello, so it was pretty excellent all the way through.

BoxJam - The annual all-dayer at the Box in Crewe in aid of Oxfam. It features a variety of local and not-so-local musicians, all giving their time for free in aid of a worthy cause. With it being an all-day thing you can usually just dip in and out and catch the things you want to see and do something else in between times. This year though, all the bands I wanted to see were on consecutively. First up were Photo Booth Smile, who were good but didn't give the impression they were enjoying it much. Perhaps they'd been listening to the BoxJam's official poet, like the rest of us. Then there was a short, sharp, sweet set from new band Moving Moscow. The emotional Muscovites all have pedigree from other Crewe bands and the draw, for me, was Dan Parry, ex of Sgt Wolfbanger. It's about time he had a band on the go. Herewith, a couple of tracks from their Yuletide appearance on Radio Stoke to get a feel of what they are like. Last up, Was Roy Orbison tribute act, Orbisounds. I am a massive fan of the Big O (and Roy Orbsion, fnaar, fnaar) so was keen to see this. One bloke with a guitar and a backing track and he covered more than just the Big O's songbook. He was very good. The only weird thing was that every photo I took of him came out with his face distorted. He looked like a demon wearing Roy Orbison's body, to be honest. Perhaps he was...

Crewe Live Not sure there's much point in discussing this fest now - ten months on. I enjoyed it as usual, drank too much, as usual, and now barely remember the bands that were on. It's always a civilised festival, involving not much walking, no mud and proper toilets (even if the average pub bog does resemble the old Glastonbury long drop by late Saturday night). With a wide variety of bands and musical styles on show, if you don't like a band you don't have to go far or wait long to see something else. High points for me were a blistering headline set by Rolo Tomassi on Friday, the quirky delights of ilovecolour on Saturday and a strong set from Troops of Mafeking on Saturday night. Not sure there were any low points, although there were one or two bands I can live without seeing again. The only minor disappointment was missing the wonky pop of Benjamin Bloom. I guess we all thought we could see him at this year's fest. However, with the main organiser, Toby, having departed for pastures new, we've got an anxious wait to see if the festival will be on this year. Hope it is.

Anyhoo, here's a little musical treat for y'all - a complete set by Pere Ubu live at the Sons d'Hiver festival. Worth it even if you only fast forward to the 26 min 50 second mark and watch them do the fantastic 'Breath', which is one of my favourite songs of theirs. This is followed by an amusing slap-down for a persistent heckler who has been calling for 'Non Alignment Pact'. Musicians ARE scum, it seems.

And finally, I haven't been out to see Ted Chippington since I saw him supporting The Nightingales in a pub in Shrewsbury last year, but he is on tour, supporting The Nightingales (again) during April. I'm hoping to fix up to get to a couple of the gigs. In the meantime, here is a lovely interview with him on the Quietus website. Can't. Be. Bad.

Threesome from Hell

Tuesday 28th January 2014

Just a brief update to confirm that I am still alive, just, and planning a few changes to the old website. I've been thinking that I need to make changes here, there and everywhere, anyway. Getting up at six most mornings is wearing me out and I spend most of my evenings knackered and de-motivated, so don't do anything useful. I haven't updated this site for months, haven't followed up on any of the creative ideas I've had and I'm not putting any effort in to finding a new job, which is something I've been set on for a while. Even the trashy DVDs that I usually watch by the bucket-load are stacking up... Anyhow, as a result of the continuing ennui, I've missed the opportunity to fill you all in with the fantastic things that I've done on those rare occasions when I've managed to shake off the torpor and get out of the house. Never mind though, that will all come soon. Honest.