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Wednesday, 4 January 2017

New Years Revolutions.

The interview below may be a case of confirmation bias on my part, but I will admit to considering that this guy makes a great deal of sense.

As a parent I do ask myself if I raised my children to have unrealistic expectations of life.

The answer to that is that I have.
In saying that they can be anything, and they can do anything that they want, I was telling a lie, and I participated freely in the spreading of these falsehoods.
The reason being because we all want it to be true.
We ignore the fact that some things are beyond some people.
We don't acknowledge that for certain things to happen that we need to have specific doors to be opened to us, and without them the chances of securing a dream job, or life, can become so far out of reach that it really is impossible to secure it.
That is just life, and like children we pulled the covers over our heads and pretended that the world out there didn't exist.
We ignored something that couldn't be changed.
And we done our children a disservice from our lack of honesty.

A bitter pill to swallow?

Of course it is, but it is of our own making.

I also ask myself if I provided them with the skills required to navigate their way through adulthood.

And in a lot of that soul searching that I do I often come to the conclusion that I haven't.

Mainly because like everyone else I am still trying wrap my head around how to do it myself.

As a parent that is not an easy thing to admit, and I am aware that I am not a total failure in parenting, but there is nothing wrong with putting your hands up and saying I could have done better.
It is doubtful that anyone could honestly say that they couldn't have as we are all flawed in one way or another.

Part of the problem is of course environmental too.

None of us want our children to stand out as different from others so we strive to provide them with everything that everyone else has, and when we fail we feel that we are losing in the game of life.
By doing this we are adding this pressure to ourselves, and passing it on to those we love.

Another failure really.

Then, of course, there is the issue of technology and how it has impacted on society, but the reality about this is that mobile phones, i-pads, computer games, and everything else that we now see as basic requirements in life are inanimate objects, and we chose to make them an integral part in firstly our lives, and then our childrens.

You can't point the finger at a mobile phone and lay the blame of all the worlds ills at its feet.

We have all played our parts in bringing us to where we all are.

And why?

Because we don't want to be seen as losing in a game that has no rules.
Because we have been manipulated by the latest ad campaigns telling us what the latest must have is.
Because even if we are not swayed by them we are still a slave to this happening due to trying to fit in with those who are.

Anyway, this interview casts up more questions than answers, but it is probably time that we started asking them.
Maybe even time to lift our heads up and enjoy simpler pleasures.

I still have hope that my children will do fine, that they will find someone who loves them, cares for them as much as I do, and that they incrementally do a better job at this life thing than I have, and their children do a little better again.

The latest mobile phone isn't all that anyway.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Where there is fire there's smoke.

Moral outrage!

You have got to love it.

All it takes is one jerk in a crowd that possesses a knee and the torches are lit and the mob takes form.

The latest spark that has become a hardy flame surrounds the alleged incident of a homeless person having his belongings soaked by a security guard employed by Debenhams.

Facts are a bit bare at the moment of writing, but if this assault, - as that is what it is - happened then I would suspect that the store would instigate an investigation and then act on their findings.

Anything less would be a pr disaster for them.

And yet for so many that is not enough.

A boycott is required.
Not just the threat of one, but a call to withdraw custom from now. RIGHT NOW!


Obviously the abuse of a homeless person is a serious allegation, and if true then I have literally no shred of sympathy for the abuser.

If they lose their job then that is appropriate.

If there were others that were aware of this within the stores hierarchy, and they condoned this behaviour, then I don’t have anything to say to defend them.

They can all reap what they have sown.

There are some things to consider though.

The first being did it happen?

Another being that as it is alleged to have happened on Boxing Day then the time frame of a complaint to a resolution - at this busy time of year - has to be factored in.
From the tone of some it would appear that they would have been happier if this had been addressed on Christmas day, even though it was alleged to have happened on Boxing Day.

It also has to be asked was there an official complaint lodged, and is it true that no one has acted on it.

For all we know Debenhams already have the wheels in motion on an investigation and the threats of a boycott are unnecessary.
When news such as this catches the public eye then it is right and proper that there is a reaction.

The first of those being that the validity of the allegation is confirmed.

Then a letter of complaint should be sent.

Once that has been done then it is only right that the company has time to respond.

If they do address the complaint in a satisfactory manner than we have our internal social warriors stand down.

If they do accept that the incident happened, and do nothing, then a boycott is an appropriate response from the public.

Anytime prior to that then all it is doing is endangering the profitability of the company with that then impacting on the job security of their employees.

Think about that for a second.

The woman on the till who knows nothing about what has happened is at your mercy.
The man who is loading the van in the early hours of the morning and works for a company subcontracted by the store is at your mercy.

Does the power feel good?

If you have signed any petition calling for a boycott now, rather than later when more information is in the public domain then you are a willing participant of the mob.


I think that I will now go and stand outside a store with a placard complaining about an incident that will allegedly happen tomorrow, and they better have it all sorted out by yesterday.

'Have patience with all things, but, first of all with yourself.
Never be in a hurry: do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.
Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Reaction - Accelerator

The wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented, and neither does punk rock.
It just needs some fresh tires on it, and a foot put down hard on the accelerator so that it can leave a stretch of burning rubber in its rear view mirror as it peels away from the kerb.
And Reaction, from Airdrie - a breeding ground for disenfranchisement in all its shades of grey - fundamentally understand this premise, and on their debut album – after only being together for thirty odd years – deliver a fresh amphetamine fuelled history lesson to anyone that cares to jump on board for the ride.
The sign post that says UK82 is thankfully ignored as they speed down the highway, and the stops they do make to refuel on the road are more Stooges friendly, Dead Boys loving, and Ramones adoring, than any band from the back of beyond have any right to be welcomed in, but welcomed they are as the quality needle never dips below ‘make my day punk.’
Accelerator is not just the band delivering their homage to the sounds of the US punk explosion in the early seventies though.
Clash fans are going to bask in the shadow of some of the flavouring, and of course with the Damned ploughing the same source material so many years ago that same Anglo angle on it is there too.
Of course it would be very easy to continue listing the influential sounds that float to the surface on each and every song, but that would detract from the taking a step back and letting the whole damn album wash over you and letting it sweep you away with its passion for waiving the punk rock flag.
Okay. ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’, the sole cover and live favourite may have been a better b side on a single than an album track, or maybe it should have just been left for gigs, but who knows, maybe it is the unskippable track on the album for someone else.
It’s all subjective after all, and it’s inclusion doesn’t have them swerving off the road into a ditch they can’t get out of so who cares?
Not me.
I’m happy to take a dab of this and try and keep up with them.
Out now on Tarbeach Records (www.tarbeachmusic.com)

There’s also a split single with Heavy Drapes on the label too punk rock fact fans.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Is sorry the hardest word?

No one is right all of the time.
As the poet Alexander Pope eloquently stated 'to err is human'.
We all make mistakes, most of us make them daily.
They range from the large to the small, and they can be inconsequential mistakes to life shattering errors of judgement.
Mistakes are simply part of life.
We live with them.
Every single minute of any given day we decide on a course of action, and then once committed to, and acted on, we live with the consequences.

Unfortunately certain mistakes require others to live with the consequences too, and this is where it all gets a little more complicated.

If we revisit Pope we find that the latter part of the 'to err is human' quote is 'to forgive, divine' and we, in all our glory, are simply beautifully flawed humans and not divine.

So forgiveness is not often easy.

Especially when those who instigated what is, or could be construed as, a mistake, are fundamentally unable to accept their participation in the outcome.

An example would be in the aftermath of the EU referendum.

We currently have many of those who voted to exit the European Union advocating that everyone should now be working together to realize the bright future for the UK that they claim is on the horizon if we close our borders and renegotiate trade deals with the world.

There is some worth in this urge for a positive communal approach, but it would be easier to get on board with it if those who did vote for an exit were able to put their hands up and accept that their vote ushered in not just financial uncertainty in the present, but also that it opened the door to the far right feeling emboldened enough to go forth and deliver misery on every minority residing in this country.

That is not to say that all exit supporters were aware of this outcome, but rather that it would be easier to work with them if there was an acceptance of it now as a fact.
Some contrition shown, rather than the strong sense of denial that emanates from them, would pave the way to forgiveness, and open positive avenues of communication up, but until others can do that we, as the aforementioned flawed humans, will find it difficult to move on.

And that is understandable as the refusal to acknowledge what the vote set in motion gives the impression of an unwillingness to embrace responsibility, and if that fundamentally cannot be done then it does not lay the foundations of trust in each other that is required.

The cry to 'accept and move on' will continue to fall on deaf ears as it sounds like an arrogant refusal to accept the reality of the negatives that their actions delivered.

So if you are an advocate of leaving the EU, and your reasons are not rooted in low browed media instilled fear of migrants, and you really do want everyone, including those who voted to remain, to work together on building a solid foundation that the UK can rest on, then just for one moment can you stand up and say that you are sorry about the misery that is a by product of your vote, and then, but only then, maybe we can move on.

Simply shouting at eu supporters to shut up and get on with life is actually offensive, and only encourages more division.

So it's time to reflect, accept that the vote has delivered a less than positive reality that others have to live with, acknowledge your part in that publicly as a verbal act of contrition, and then hopefully we can all look to navigate through this mess together.

Or maybe sorry truly is the hardest word to utter, and in failing to say it things will only continue to slide towards further misery for us all.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

KISS Rocks Vegas, 25/05/16 Kilmarnock Odeon

For one night only, in cinemas globally, you wanted the best, and you got the best.

KISS have carved themselves a legendary reputation in the world of rock, and when they pull out all the stops it is easy to see why.
Their bombastic larger than life theatrics coupled with bona fide classics of the genre set them up as gods of a self made reality.

Simply put, no one does it like KISS.

Some would claim that Alice Cooper does it better, but Alice, while equally larger than life, is more theatre in the true sense, a story teller of dark twisted tales, while KISS are the undisputed heavyweight champions of circus rock and roll.
They deal in unsubtle spectacle.
Scratch the surface and there isn't another layer that can be peeled back to reveal yet another.
It's just KISS, KISS, and more KISS.

And if you can't get to a show then the big screen, as opposed to a DVD/blueray release, is the next best thing.
What the band deal in effortlessly lends itself to the cinema.
It's big, it's loud and if it was in 3D Gene could lick they sweat from your brow.
In fact I think he tried, and nearly succeeded, even within the 2D format.

Paul Stanley has been on the receiving end of some criticism of his voice recently, with even hard-core fans mouthing concerns that he just can't hit the notes anymore, but he powers through the set in Vegas, and it's doubtful anyone will be complaining about his performance this time out.

As a more old school fan of the band Detroit Rock City, Love Gun and Tears are Falling impressed, but the segue into The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' in the middle of Lick it Up brought a smile to my lips, and the Led Zeppelin vocal outro turned that into a grin.

Elsewhere Eric Singer does a sterling job on Black Diamond, and Tommy Thayer carries the lead guitar sound throughout with enough style that rumours of a return of Ace Frehley should probably just be put to bed, as while he will always be the original Spaceman it is doubtful he could really give Tommy a run for his money.

Over all, as a one off event, this will most certainly do the business for KISS fans, and undoubtedly serve to fill their tanks to tide them over until the band revisit these shores, and if you missed it, well KISS never miss a money making trick and a release will probably see the light of day in one form or another, but unless you have a home cinema the size of a traditional one it really isn't going to be the same experience.

And yet I suspect it still won't disappoint.

A different night of rock and roll, but still satisfying.

This review will also be featured on the New Hellfire Clubs site.

http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/




Sunday, 15 May 2016

Fireball – Fuelling the fire tour. Featuring Less than Jake, The Skints, Mariachi El Bronx (Glasgow Academy)

It is hard to believe that Less than Jake are creeping up on being twenty five years old.

When said out loud he next words on the lips as a response is usually something about where has all the time gone?

It slipped away when we weren’t looking is the answer.

They will be moving out and getting their own place soon as we tearfully wave goodbye and then joke that they will be back with their laundry to be done next week.

Pop punk and ska punk has most definitely come of age.

But while the summer sun, the skateboards, the flipback caps and three quarter length board shorts may be a distant memory for most - and currently the stuff of fashion house irony reboots - the music of the ska-punk bands such as Less than Jake is evergreen.

Slip the needle in the groove, hit play and let the laser pick up the tracks on the CD, or listen to them on your branded mp3 player, and a smile will creep onto your face.

Tired muscles that haven’t had a work out for a while will twitch into action and for a moment you will feel the heat of that sun warming you as the songs start to trigger memories.

Half a song in and the twitching muscles will have reached your legs and the foot tapping, if left unchecked, can lead to a little go at some skanking, but only if no one is looking as the dance like no one is watching meme that proliferates on social media usually results in random strangers laughing at you as the best case scenario, and being sectioned as the worst.

Fear not though.

Instead of making a fool of yourself skanking out of Central Station in Glasgow oblivious to the masses laughing at you there is another option available.
If you can just hold that urge down for a little longer then you can visit the Academy on Oct 9th where you can dance your legs off with the aerobic work out of a lifetime as the guys hit our glorious city as part of the Fireball – Fuelling the fire tour.

Even better news is that it’s not just a smorgasbord of ska punk that is on the bill, but playing alongside them are The Skints, and a personal favourite of mine, the side project of The Bronx, that are the magnificent Mariachi El Bronx.

What more could anyone want?

An austerity busting ticket price would be nice I suppose.

And guess what?

It bloody well is too.

With the tickets set at the price of ten pounds it’s difficult not to lay a bet on this being a sold out event.


Someone, somewhere, has lost the plot when deciding on how much to charge, but best not to focus on that and instead just get the word out and turn the venue into a heaving mass of a celebration of some great strands of punk rock in all its glory.

#FuelledByFire

Busted - Glasgow Hydro - 14/05/16

I've been to the year two thousand and sixteen.
Not much has changed but we look a little older.

And in some ways it’s true, but in others that’s not the case at all.

Busted are back, and while it would be easy to cast a jaundiced eye over the reformation to fit with the stereotype of the older -, but still trying to be hip - curmudgeon music fan looking down my nose at the teenybopper icons, I just can’t find it in my heart to do so.

Why?

Well to put it in very simple terms there’s not a lot that anyone could comfortably hang a critique on.

A claim of not liking what they are doing is the airing of a subjective view, but to say they aren’t cutting it musically, or in the delivery of their material, would be a downright lie.

From the Blade Runner styled reboot of the Pink Floyd pig balloon floating past, to the darker dystopian angle on the animal farm pig masks that nudged the playful ‘pigs can fly’ tour title out of the frame, the band have stepped up and coloured their brand with much darker adult tones that eases visually towards Roger Waters territory.

The new music doesn’t reflect that, but it is far more introspective and mature as it veers into the adult orientated niche that the Goo Goo Dolls have such a firm grip on.

That tiny step musically does however make sense, as to go away as Busted, the teen dream scream of yesteryear, and come back reflecting all the ugliness of adult life without a slicker veneer would be career suicide.
So instead the visuals are a little ahead and the music is still transitioning, while the over all impression given is that they know exactly what they are doing.

Listen to new single ‘I’m Coming Home*’ next to ‘Crashed the Wedding’ and there’s nothing to link them, but with a careful eye on the running order of the hits and newbies the band avoid any jarring clashes, and there is arguable not even a hint of a dip in the crowds reaction as they lap up everything thrown at them.

Busted literally have this nailed down.

The crowd is of course still largely made up of young women.
The preteens and teens of over a decade ago, - yes over a decade ago – and they are still enthralled by Matt, James and Charlie, but the hyper response that they keyed into has now been tempered by their own maturity and they are ready to be taken by the hand and guided towards the reality that will be Busted 2.0.

This changing gears career wise from a band that’s core audience is largely young and female into something that has a wider demographic appeal has proven to be far too difficult a stumbling block for so many others, and only time will tell if Busted can do it, but all the pieces are most certainly in place and if they fail to secure a second bite of the apple then there can be no blame laid at their feet as it will be more a case of wrong place and wrong time rather than a reflection on their efforts.

On leaving the cavernous Hydro there was only one thought that reared up in my head, and that was ‘well that just kicked the awful taste of McBusted doing that truly fuckin offensively pop punk by numbers abortion of a track ‘Air Guitar’ out of everyone’s mouth.’

Not a bad thing really.


*On listening to the electronica version from the studio it fails to come close to the guitar driven live rendition.   

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

And they all blew down.

While we all still snigger away like schoolchildren about the allegations of Cameron face fucking the severed head of a pig in a bizarre initiation ceremony it’s interesting to read some of the reactions.

One that has surprised me is the amount of people offering a free pass on it.

‘We have all done things we were ashamed of when we were young’ is so popular that it could be edging into trending status.
Strange really, because when I was younger I did a million things that I can shamefully look back on, but rattling the cold dead tonsils of a severed pigs head with the tip of my tadger while friends cheered me on wasn't one of them.
In fact I'm hard pushed to think of a singular moment that I was in a situation when it looked like this was about to happen.
Those claiming that we were all young once must have walked down a very different path that I, or my peers, ever did.

I can just imagine the old Etonian asking what the fuss is all about as we all did it, didn’t we?
I mean didn’t we?
I mean only those without sin can cast the first stone.
Can’t they?

Bizarrely if the sin is - yes you guessed it - fucking the head of a dead pig then I’m guessing that there are quite a few people that will fit the remit for casting that first stone.

Then again maybe I'm wrong and just led a sheltered life.

Neither did I burn fifty pound notes in front of homeless people; I never trashed restaurants or burned down a neighbours garage like Clegg did either.

Damn. I was never as debauched as these guys.
Nor wanted to be.

Then there are those who desperately want to point at another of the revelations from the forthcoming book from Ashcroft.

Who cares about the pig, what about Ashcrofts nondom tax status?

They really want to claim that the sexual congress with the severed pigs head is just a distraction from that, but is it, or should it be?

Aren't they both just examples of rich bastards considering they are exempt from the laws and morals that the rest of us are supposed to adhere to?
And if we accept that they are both really the same thing then out of the two what has the most entertainment value.
Is it the boring old tax dodging angle on it, or the FUCKIN’ A PIGS HEAD bit?

Admit it. We all know the answer and the proof is all around us.

In a decades time if this all led to his stepping down, or being ousted, and it hinged on the tax issue then how many would remember the details, but if it’s about the pig then who would forget?
Even if it isn't true I am going to go out on a limb and say that he still deserves to go as they've been buggering kids and covering it up for long enough anyway.

And that takes us to another angle on all of this.

Who out there can hand on heart claim that these people are fit for office?

They are the end result us getting what we deserve.

We allowed the establishment to shaft us so often that they think it is their birthright, and then when others step up from our ranks it is rarely for altruistic reasons, but often because they want to hang onto the gravy train of cash and privilege with the added bonus of the get out of jail free card that they all seem to get issued with along with their silver spoons.
Even when they mouth all the correct altruistic statements they are secretly open to looking into the abyss and letting the abyss gaze on their soul.

The current state of politics is that it has alienated so many that those left to throw their hats in the ring to represent us are often the least able to do so.

It’s not everyone of course, but so often it is a case of those so desperately wanting to lead being the worst possible people to do so.

The sort that would go to a party to get off their tits and skull fuck a severed pigs head if they thought it would benefit them.

And with that we are back to the start.


So will some altruistic person with a level head please get involved in all this, because if they don’t then it is just going to be an ugly catch 22 scenario forever and ever. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Wickerman 2015 - Part One

Festivals by their nature are hit and miss with the entertainment provided.
Not because they are apt to look to scrape the bottom of the barrel, but simply because a crowd of thousands of people with different tastes can’t be kept happy all the time.
For every stage that is visited that provides the hit there will always be one that delivers a personal miss.
It’s expected, and it doesn't mean the miss isn't entertaining, but rather that it fails to be to the individuals liking.
It’s nothing more or less than that, and when you stumble across that act that doesn’t work for you then the search continues for something that does, and a well balanced festival will provide it.

This however wasn't my experience of Wickerman 2015 though.
Instead it was a whirlwind of quality that often left me reeling.
Acts after act defied the odds and resolutely failed to disappoint.
Musically I didn't experience a singular downside at all.
When asked to name a favourite moment I can’t.
It’s not possible.
Each time I thought I had witnessed the jewel in the performance crown another act would mirror the experience.
From Hector Bizerk to The Sonics the Scooter tent relentlessly hit the spot.
From Julian Cope to The Waterboys the main stage was firing on all cylinders.
If there was any criticism to be levelled at the organizers then it would be that I didn’t have time to check out the other tents and stages with the exception of a hit and run on the acoustic tent to catch Little Fire.

One thing that was highlighted by Esperanza, Halfrican and Hector Bizerk was that we are not short of home grown talent.
It would be entirely possible to have not just a stage, but a festival, dedicated to Scottish acts and it would be a shock and awe assault on those who claim that we fall short of delivering acts ready to take on the world

Garage rockers Halfrican – who were in the Scooter tent - on vinyl sound like a collaboration between The Ramones and Jesus and Mary Chain looking to deliver a grungy surf rock release, but live it’s cleaner, clearer, less lo-fi and more power pop in the delivery.
I'm not even sure what I prefer between the two.
The dirt, or the sheen?
Both are equally attractive propositions, but the latter was probably more suited to the festival environment where they had the opportunity to attract people in with a bit of aural honey rather than a more abrasive set that would have left some on the ropes wondering what had hit them.

Then there was Hector Bezerk who initially raised some concerns among the punk rock aficionados as they were seen to be an odd fit for the stage, but their set was probably the most punk rock of all as they pushed at the boundaries of hip hop.
The journey from frontman Louie when solo spitting out Glaswegian accented rhymes to the initial sound of Hector Bizerk to the current one is a fast paced delight.
Here is an act that are not only redefining hip hop, but are now at the point of their evolution that they would not appear out of place if they took to the pyramid stage at Glastonbury to fill a prime time spot.
What we are seeing is evolution in action speeded up.
As they expand ever further into dabbling in other genres they are laying down the foundations to be a very important band.
If there is one act that it would be said that you must catch now if you want to be ahead of the curve then this is that act.

Esperanza are in many ways the polar opposite to Hector Bizerk as they are not looking to reinvent the wheel.
Instead they are honing the ska sound to sharp perfection.
They are becoming the lean mean skanking machine that others aim for but often fall short of having the stamina to nail as soundly as they do.
The turn out in the tent was an unsigned bands dream come true and the capacity crowd were taken through their paces exhaustively.
Again there is no reason at all why the band is not gracing larger stages.
Even with a Commonwealth games appearance tucked under their collective belts there is far more on offer than that one hit and run moment into the wider publics consciousness.
If there was another wave of 2-tone/ska to rise then Esperanza would be on the crest of it.
Undoubtedly if anyone is looking for a band that can guarantee to get a festival crowd on their feet to dance then they needn’t look any further.
If they aren’t on the main stage in 2016 then someone will have dropped the ball.
I would have had them signing a contract when they were seconds off the stage and still on a high from the performance and well deserved reception.

Moving on from the Scottish acts it’s fair to say that others on the bill at Wickerman were out to ensure that they weren’t left in the shade.
I’ve been a long time admirer of TV Smith and consider him as an unsung hero.
That being the case I was looking forward to his set and again it was a sublime experience.
Passionately eloquent he is the punk rock Dylan.
Bob, not Thomas.
From the start of his set to the end he relentlessly powered through a solid half hour of his back catalogue and kept the older fans happy by giving some focus to The Adverts period with his acoustic renditions of the 1977 double header of Gary Gilmours Eyes and Bored Teenagers drawing attention to how flaccidly bland the mainstream music scene currently is.
It’s not that there’s a dearth of talent.
It’s that there’s a dearth of investment in it.
In an ideal world TV Smith would be the elder statesman of rock.
A man with a message that is relevant to us all, and the ability to put it across with no quarter given.
What’s not to like?


The Ramonas are becoming a Wickerman mainstay.
While the festival isn't known for gravitating towards promoting tribute bands they are the exception to the rule.
Maybe there’s a throwback to the days that Claire of AntiProduct played as The Ramonas was originally her baby.
Who knows, but with the timeless sound of onetwofrefo bursting out it’s a call to arms for some aging punks to recommit to the gabba-gabba-hey.
I would have been in my element, but Julian Cope was on the main stage and over previous years our stars have failed to align on the solstice and our paths had not crossed so I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get to grips with the shamanistic madness on offer
Okay, it’s true that there were more bemused looks on the faces of those facing the main stage than rapt adulation, but this was Julian Cope, a man whose dalliance with hallucinogenics is well recorded.
If you play knock knock on the door of perception it’s Julian that will answer and as I had no expectations other than his set was going to be an ‘experience’ there was no preconceived idea of what was required for it to tick all the boxes.
It turns out that all that is required to enjoy Saint Julian is an ability to let go.
Just to allow yourself to live in the moment and if you can do that then it all makes sense.
Maybe not in hindsight, but within the moment it all works.
Every quip, every random verbal segue, every song approached can scream on paper that it shouldn't work, but it does.
His whole appearance at Wickerman on the main stage begs the question of who thought this was a good idea, but thankfully someone did.
While some may thank the gods that there is only one Julian Cope there are those of us who are very pleased that there is actually one as who needs tow anyway?
Here we have a unique artist, one who is willing to explore the fringes and come back bearing gifts from lands were angels fear to tread.

Insanity never tasted so good. 

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The veteran curmudgeon guide to festivals.

(A light hearted consideration of what has went wrong)

1) Gazebo glampers aka Your land is our land.

Half an hour after putting the tent up
and this monstrosity appears.
That, the blue one, a small one, a gazebo out of sight and more
space sectioned off for three adults and two kids.
Begone roughing it.
The modern festival goer requires a home from home apparently.
Or a bigger home from home.
No longer will a single sleeping bag and tent suffice.
Downsizing and embracing minimalism has went out of fashion.
This is the era of land occupation.
Today Glastonbury, T in the Park, Wickerman and tomorrow we annex Poland.
Modern day festival goers are now the lord's and ladies of all they see as first arrivals stake a claim and section off space to meet their requirements using marquee sized dome tents with multiple compartments, a gazebo, another tent for storage, yet another one for the kids, a second gazebo, strategically placed windbreakers and enough crime scene tape to stretch to the moon and back.
Why take an inch when a mile is on offer is the motto.
The bare minimum for two adults and one child works out at about an acre per person.

It's rumoured that they found Lady Haversham in an unused wing of an abandoned cavernous tent at the Bestival site.
The poor woman hadn't been seen by anyone in two years and was surviving on dust motes.

With the tiny house movement gaining traction globally and a family of five imaginatively managing to live in a shoebox it seems it's left to festival attendees to buck the trend and supersize their accommodation as much as possible.
Gone are the days of one sleeping bag and a two man tent shared between six drunken students.
Unless you have a reading room, a conservatory and guest room in your tent then you aren't doing it right.

We (old folk) used to look at tents laid out in front of us as we crested the hill and considered that a thousand laid out before us would approximately mean three thousand people in the camp site.
Now it's the opposite with a thousand tents being occupied by a hundred.

All well and good as who doesn't like some room to swing their cat?
Unless of course you aren't arriving within the first hour and are left arguing over a postage stamp sized plot of land in the outskirts of shanty town.
Then it's pish.

2) Babyshambles

Kids at festivals enjoying new experiences with their parents are great.
Lord of the flies packs roaming around are not.
Tarquin is not being impish when he and Annabelle play steal the tent pegs.
Eight year old Lucinda wandering around the campsite looking for mummy at 3am is not cute.
A festival is not a Club 4-10 holiday and there is no prize for how many - no questions asked - single Wellington boots can be collected over the weekend.
A festival is not a giant al fresco crèche for parents who think it's character building to abandon their little darlings for twenty hours out of twenty four, and no the dance tent doesn't have a place to leave your pram you sad excuse for an adult.

3) You had to - sort of - be there.

Non festival attendees attending festivals.
Hundreds spent on tickets, hundreds spent on tents and camping equipment, thousands spent on booze, hundreds spent on food.
Festival entertainment participated in?
None.

A weekend of sitting on a folding chair in a gazebo getting pissed and playing shit music at full volume while 'avin it large' is the goal and they've unlocked every master level at doing it.
If they leave the campsite they will lose all credibility with their mates.
Everything they need for a good time is right there.
A crate of Buckfast, the complete set of 'bonkers' downloaded onto the iPod, top quality speakers purchased in poundland and some Lambrini and glow sticks for the kids.
And if you are camped anywhere close enough to hear them then the drunken debate at 3am about how Clarkson leaving Top Gear is a sign of the decline of Western civilization will no doubt be enlightening.

They could get six months all inclusive in Greece for what they shell out for their non participation, but the Greeks have suffered enough so don't tell them.

4) Captive audience capitalism.

Once you enter a festival site the law of supply and demand is all that matters.
Those disposable ponchos at five for a quid you seen last week and didn't bother with will be a fiver for one at the hint of a single raindrop.
A bank of clouds on the horizon can start the prices rising.
A bacon roll can cost the same as a three course meal in a cafe.
You want a coffee?
You can't afford a coffee.
It's something to aspire to.
If one-upmanship is your thing then lounging around with a stall bought coffee will draw admiring glances from other festival punters.
Buy a Grande and they will think you are the headliner.
Grown men have been known to weep at the cost of a pint of Carlsberg.
The phrase 'crying into your beer' was coined at a festival.
You can buy a festival cash converter app for mobile phones now.
You type in what you want to buy, how much it normally costs and then choose the festival you are at and it will supply you with the approximate 500% mark up final figure.

Whoever thought of putting cash machines in festival arenas is a genius too.
It’s funny how they are usually sitting between the on-site bars and the token kiosks that the cashless on-site bars take.
That’s purely coincidental obviously.
And as the tokens are a quid each everything has to be rounded up doesn't it?
Bloody genius and I truly do wish I was on a cut of the profits.
Even though the system boils my blood.
The sign saying drink responsibly next to the other stating the tokens are non refundable is a bit of an oxymoron, but the latter is in a smaller font and most people fail to notice it.
Post festival the paper tokens are only usually good for one thing, and that's breaking the washing machine when you forget to take them out of the pocket of your muddied forty quid Tibetan lounge pants you bought and will never wear again.

5) It's all about the music maaaaaaan.

It's not.

If there are no jugglers, clowns, people dressed as penguins, theatre, art installations that boggle the mind, comedians, poets, dancers, cinema and eccentrics on and off stages and it's just music then it's a gig outside and not really a festival.
How to tell if you have been to a real festival is to ask yourself if you seen something, or experienced something, that you never even knew existed and it in some way enriched your life and if the answer is yes then you get the badge.
Congratulations.
If all that happened was that you seen some bands then you aren't trying hard enough, or it's not a real festival.
A hundred bands over three days in a field is not a festival.
Stop fuckin' calling them that.