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Archive for the ‘New Order’ Category

[POSTPONED: September 22, 2021] Pet Shop Boys / New Order: The Unity Tour [rescheduled from September 12, 2020 moved to September 28, 2022]

As a touring band of a certain age (and financial situation), it didn’t surprise me that this tour was postponed one more year–what do they need to put themselves at risk for?  I bought these tickets on Feb 26, 2020!

However, I was pleased that this time the show isn’t the day after the My Chemical Romance show,

indexI saw the Pet Shop Boys in Morristown a few years ago.  The show was great.  The guys sounded amazing and I had a really good time–except for the crowd around me.  They were all loud and talking and tall and pushing.  I wished I’d gotten better seats as well.  So I told myself if they toured again I would see them if conditions were good.

Well, how about if they toured with New Order?  I’ve been a fan of New Order forever but I’ve never seen them live.  I’m not even sure I ever really wanted to see them live.  But putting them together with New Order was  perfect.  I didn’t realize that peter Hook had left the band.  I did see that he was doing solo shows, but I didn’t realize he had no main band anymore.  I also didn’t realized they’d put out any new music since Get Ready.  Well, I hope they were just going to play the hits.

I didn’t really want to go to Madison Square Garden, but I’ve had good luck there lately so I picked it over any other large venue.

On June 11, I got the news that Pet Shop Boys & New Order – The Unity Tour was to be postponed until next year.  I had pretty good seats, so I’m glad I get to keep them.  I’ve waited a while to see them again, what’s one more year?

 

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[POSTPONED: September 12, 2020] Pet Shop Boys / New Order: The Unity Tour [moved September 22, 2021]

indexI saw the Pet Shop Boys in Morristown a few years ago.  The show was great.  The guys sounded amazing and I had a really good time–except for the crowd around me.  They were all loud and talking and tall and pushing.  I wished I’d gotten better seats as well.  So I told myself if they toured again I would see them if conditions were good.

Well, how about if they toured with New Order?  I’ve been a fan of New Order forever but I’ve never seen them live.  I’m not even sure I ever really wanted to see them live.  But putting them together with New Order was  perfect.  I didn’t realize that peter Hook had left the band.  I did see that he was doing solo shows, but I didn’t realize he had no main band anymore.  I also didn’t realized they’d put out any new music since Get Ready.  Well, I hope they were just going to play the hits.

I didn’t really want to go to Madison Square Garden, but I’ve had good luck there lately so I picked it over any other large venue.

On June 11, I got the news that Pet Shop Boys & New Order – The Unity Tour was to be postponed until next year.  I had pretty good seats, so I’m glad I get to keep them.  I’ve waited a while to see them again, what’s one more year?

 

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shoppingSOUNDTRACK: MATT MAYS-Live at Massey Hall (May 4, 2018).

I had never heard of Matt Mays.  He was once a part of the Canadian country band The Guthries (who I also don’t know).  Perhaps the most surprising (and disappointing) thing to me about this show is when I saw an ad for this concert and saw that Kathleen Edwards was opening for him (!).  And that so far they haven’t released the Kathleen Edwards show.

Before the show he says he wants all feelings present–happy, sad–he praises the expression “all the feels” because that’s what he wants to happen tonight.  He wants the night to be “like a Nova Scotia kitchen party.”  You laugh you cry you dance and you fight all in one kitchen.

He starts with “Indio.”  Like most of these songs, it is a rocking guitar song with a definite country-rock feel.  It’s also interesting that a Nova Scotia guy is singing about “old fashioned California sin.”  There’s a ton of lead guitar work from Adam Baldwin.  Mays also plays guitar and there’s an acoustic guitar as well from Aaron Goldstein  The song breaks midway through to a piano melody from Leith Fleming-Smith.  Mays asks “You feel like singing Toronto? It’s real easy.”  And it is: “Run run run you are free now.  run run run you are free.”

For “Station Out of Range,” he invites his dear friend Kate Dyke from St Johns, Newfoundland.  She sings backing vocals.  It opens with some big crushing drums from Loel Campbell.  It has a slower tempo, but it grows really big with some really massive drum fills.

“Building a Boat” opens with a repeating keyboard pattern before a real rocking riff kicks in.  Ryan Stanley also plays guitars.  The song rocks on with a lot of little guitar solos.  Mays takes one and then Baldwin follows.  They jam this pretty long.

“Take It on Faith” starts with a simple piano before the guitars come roaring in with two searing solos.  The melody is really catchy, too.

“Terminal Romance” is a slower number.  Mays puts his guitar down and its mostly piano and bass
(Serge Samson).  Eventually a guitar with a slide is added.  It builds as more guitars come in.  They jam this song for about 8 minutes.

He ends the show with “Cocaine Cowgirl,” an oldie that still means a lot to him.   He says he’s been playing Toronto since he was 19 years-old in font of tow people.  He’s thrilled to be at Massey Hall.  His band is his best buds from Nova Scotia.   It’s an absolutely wailing set ender with Mays throwing in some wicked solos.  The song seems like its over but Mays plays some really fast guitar chords and aftee a few bars everyone joins in and rips the place part with intensity.  It runs to nearly ten minutes and it’s a  really satisfying ending.

[READ: August 3, 2019] “Shopping in Jail”

When an author releases a lot of books and essays in various formats, it’s pretty inevitable that you’ll wind up re-reading one or two.  Especially if some of those essays are reprinted in other books.

So it turns out that I read this small book five years ago (it’s understandable that I didn’t remember that after five years).  Here’s what I said about it five years ago:

Just when I thought I had caught up with everything that Douglas Coupland had published, I came across this book, a collection of his recent essays.  I enjoy the very unartistic cover that Sternberg Press has put on this.  It looks extremely slapdash–look at the size of the print and that the contents are on the inside front cover.  But the essays contained within are pure Coupland and are really enjoyable.

I have read a number of his older essays in recent years.  And here’s the thing: reading old Coupland essays just makes you think, ho hum, he knew some things.  But you don’t really think that he was on the forefront of whatever he was thinking.  So to read these essays almost concurrently is really fascinating.

His thoughts are science fiction, but just on the cusp of being very possible, even probable.  He also looks at things in ways that the average person does not–he notices that on 9/11 people didn’t have picture phones–imagine how more highly documented it would have been.  These essays are largely about technology, but they’re also about the maturation and development of people and how they relate to things.  Coupland can often seem very ponderous, and yet with these essays he seems prescient without actually trying to predict anything.  I enjoyed this collection very much.

I’m going to include what I said last time (in italics), but I felt the need to add some five-years later thoughts on each essay. (more…)

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2002SOUNDTRACK: ANT & DEC-“We’re on the Ball” (2002).

indexEvidently, for nearly every football tournament since 1970, the English team has had a theme song.

Occasionally one of those songs will reach non-footbnall fans.  In 1990 New Order did “World in Motion” which New Order fans will know whether they like football or not.  One of the band members described the single as “the last straw for Joy Division fans.”

Who the heck are Ant &Dec?  They are TV presenters (of what I’m not sure) with really questionable haircuts.  I don’t know if they wrote this song or just sing it. I’m not even sure what the verses are on about as they seem to be irrelevant–filler until you get to the chorus.  A vibrant horn melody introduces the easily chantable:

We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball
We’re on the ball

The final verse is one that any football fan can appreciate:

Japan, Korea, here come England
It’s Neville to Cambell
Cambell to Rio
Rio to Scholesy
Scholesy Gerrard
Gerrard to Beckham
Beckham to Heskey
Heskey to Owen
To Nodd
5-1

Honestly I prefer Fat Les’ “Vindaloo,” which has a huge na na na part and this wonderful boast: “We’re gonna score one more than you.”

[READ: September 25, 2019] “We are the World”

Nick Hornby wrote his final music article for the New Yorker in 2001.  He then wrote this article about soccer and then stopped contributing to the magazine at all (until mid 2020, it turns out).

This article is all about the World Cup.  I’m sure there are many writers who can write wonderful things about the World Cup, but I feel like Hornby’s unbridled love for the game, combined with his quick wit and mild snark, make his World Cup writing excellent.

It’s always weird to read about things that happened nearly twenty years ago as if they were current. It’s even weirder to read about things that happened nearly twenty years ago that you didn’t care about, or possibly even know happened, from someone who cares very deeply about it.  “It is mostly pointless to try to convince an American readership of the joys of football (yes football) but it would be hard for anyone not to take pleasure in the rhythm of life in a football-mad country during the world cup.”

The world cup was on at 7:30 AM in England most days . England’s tabloids had to battle the World Cup for eyeballs and gave up: “On the morning of England’s game with Brazil the cover of the Daily Mirror showed only the flag of St George–England’s official flag–and the caption, ‘This page is cancelled. Nothing else matters.'” (more…)

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garhSOUNDTRACK: CAYETANA-New Kind of Normal (2017).

cayetanOne of the worst feelings is when you find out about a band right after they’ve broken up.

I feel like I’ve been aware of Cayetana forever, but they only formed in 2011. I wonder if there’s another band I’m confusing them with.

Well, Cayetana played their last concert at Union Transfer this past August 3.  It’s nice that they played their final show in front of  a home crowd.  I would have gone had I known I liked them.  Which I now do.

Cayetana were Allegra Anka: bass guitar / back-up vocals; Augusta Koch: guitar / lead vocals; Kelly Olsen: drums / back-up vocals.  For a band with an exotic-sounding name, their music is pretty straightforward.  But boy is it good.

Their songs are pretty standard alt-rock with a 90’s feel, but there’s really interesting instrumentation under Koch’s satisfying vocals.

 One of the most immediately pleasing things is the sound of the bass guitar, and that the bass doesn’t simply follow the guitars–there are basslines galore on this record.  I love the counterpoint of the fast and complex New Order-like bass line and the ringing guitar notes on the opener “Am I Dead Yet?”

There’s great guitars (with feedback) and thumping drums on the really catchy “Mesa.”  There’s great drums on “Too Old For This” as well.

The harmonies are terrific like on “Easy to Love” where you can clearly hear all three of them.

Most of the songs are pretty catchy, but there are few with a twinge of discord.  “Bus Ticket” has some harsh notes and a thumping ending.   And “Side Sleepers” slows things down and feels more bass heavy, which is no bad thing when the basslines are as cool as this one.

“Certain for Miles” starts quietly with just bass and drums but adds a nice ringing guitar about midway through.  The wonderfully titled “Phonics Failed Me” is a midtempo rocker with a great instrumental break.

“Follow” has more of that great opening bass work like The Cure or New Order and “Dust” has an even better bass introduction–slow and moody with lots of bass chords.

“World” ends the disc with a slow moody tone with echoing guitars and lots of great bass lines and chords.  It’s quiet and ends with a car starting up and driving away.

A fitting ending to the bands final album.

[READ: August 22, 2017] “Harbor”

I read a story by Greenwell a couple of years ago.  It was written in 2017.  They are both set in Bulgaria. They both have a character named N.

I found this story confusing, probably because of the cultural information that I couldn’t quite parse.

Underneath all of the action, the narrator is coining for R. who just broke up with him.  Every couple of months he flew to Lisbon to be with R., but R. said he needed to figure things out.  The narrator wanted a new life too.  He was tired of teaching.  But he wanted the new life to come with R. in it.

As with the other story, the Bulgarians and Americans writers are hanging out.  The narrator explains there is no such thing as a Bulgarian professional writer–they all had other careers.  The Americans were younger and boring by comparison.They play spin the bottle.  But before they can finish, the waitress comes over and tells them to stop.  She removes the bottle.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: NEW ORDER-“Ceremony” (live) (1981).

Recently, Peter Hook was in Philly to play some New Order music with his band The Light.  I wonder how much different that show sounded from this one.

New Order formed out of the ashes of Joy Division in 1980.

Their first single, “Ceremony,” was actually written with Joy Division prior to Curtis’ suicide. It popped up as a single in advance of New Order’s 1981 debut album, Movement, which is about to receive the deluxe-reissue treatment; to commemorate the occasion, the band is circulating a little-seen performance of “Ceremony,” recorded live at Manchester’s CoManCHE Student Union.

Imagine having been at that show in 1981?

The music sounds amazing here–the guitar sound is perfect, the bass and drums are spot on.  But the vocals are terrible.  Practically inaudible.  I realize that he’s mostly speak/singing at this time, but you really can’t really hear him at all on the first verse.  It’s a little better on the second verse, but it’s the instrumental break that’s the real high point.

You can read about the re-release here.

[READ: January 23, 2019] “Cream”

The first line of this story sounds like it could describe most of Murakami’s stories:

So I’m telling a friend of mine about a strange incident that took place back when I was eighteen.  I don’t recall exactly why I brought it up.  It just happened to come up as we were talking.

Murakami is all about the strange incident.

He gives some details about himself at the time–finished high school, not yet in college–when he received an invitation to a piano recital.  The invitation came from a girl who was a year behind him in school but who went to the same piano teacher. They once played a piece together but she was clearly much better.  He’d stopped playing and obviously she had gone on to give a recital .

The recital hall was at the top of a mountain in Kobe.  He took a train and then a bus and then had a short walk to get to the venue.  It was a weird, inconvenient place for a concert venue.  He brought flowers to show his appreciation. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 22, 2018] Johnny Marr

My friend Garry got me into The Smiths in high school. I had been exclusively into metal before that, but there was something about the guitars and lyrics of The Smiths that I really enjoyed.  And I quickly became a huge fan of Johnny Marr.

The Smiths broke up in 1987 and that was that.  Johnny Marr has since gone on to play with dozens of bands, including Electronic, The The and Modest Mouse.  He has also been releasing solo albums along the way, but I didn’t really listen to any of those.

Because of my love for The Smiths and much of Morrissey’s solo work, I tried to see Morrissey last year.  Of course that show got cancelled.  So I assumed I’d never get to see any members of The Smiths live (I have no idea what the bassist and drummer have been up to).

Then I saw that Johnny Marr was doing a one-off in New York City for his new album Call the Comet (which was getting great reviews).  I tried to get tickets but didn’t.  Oh well, no big loss.  Then a few months later, he announced a small U.S. tour including a stop in Philly.  He has only played Philly in 2003, 2013 and 2014.  So this seemed like my only chance.

I don’t know much about the guy himself.  Morrissey, as we all know, is a prat.

But what about Johnny?  Is he an aloof 80s alt rock star?  Like hell he is.  His merch all says “Johnny Fuckin Marr.”  He was chatty and funny.  He had on a great shirt and smiled a lot.  He was generally a load of laughs.  Who would have guessed?

But the real question is, Is Johnny Marr to stuck up to play Smiths songs?  Like hell he is.  Actually I didn’t know if he’d play any Smiths songs. But i was pretty psyched when he played six of them.

But he was there to promote Call the Comet and so he started out with a new song called “The Tracers.”  It had a repeating “whooo whooo” refrain and a rocking guitar part.  Knowing what I know about Marr, I never expected his songs to rock out like this.  And yet they did rock out.  Virtually every song he played was rocking and full-bodied.  And his backing band was fantastic James Doviak played guitar and keys.  I enjoyed that he supplemented Marr, playing mostly rhythm guitar but occasionally taking on some of Marr’s signature sounds as well.  Despite the shades, he never stepped into the bright lights

Johnny then delighted me and everyone in the room by playing the opening chords of The Smiths’ “Bigmouth Strikes Again.”  This is one of the first Smiths songs I’d ever heard and it was amazing to hear it live.  The crowd went berserk (so many old men dancing!) and then Johnny sang.

Johnny is no Morrissey and he does not try to be. He does not sing like Morrissey, but he does have the same Mancunian accent so while it was no Morrissey it was not exactly wrong either.  The delivery was less arch but was still right.  It was an awesome treat.  If that was the only Smiths song he played I would have been happy.  But he had a few more tucked away.

He followed that up with the new song, a B-side to “Hi Hello” called “Jeopardy” which had a rockin riff and trippy vocals.  Then he played “Day In Day Out” which has an acoustic-sounding guitar.  Doviak didn’t switch guitars, he juts switched effects which was pretty cool.

Johnny sang from the center of the stage where the soft lights were on him.  Sometimes he was obscured by white, other times, he was faintly visible.  But every time he took a guitar solo he walked up to the front of the stage where the spotlights shone on him and we could see him in all of his leather jacketed or heart-print-shirted glory. The only bad thing was that the really tall men (are all former goths really tall? At least none of them had Robert Smith hair) would put heir heads together blocking my view to scrutinize his playing, leaving me looking at pomade and bald spots.

He said, “Hi guys, how are you all doing.”  He then corrected that he wasn’t only talking to the men.  He’s from England, if he was only talking to the men, he’d say “hello darlings.”  This was an introduction of sorts to “Hi Hello.”   And then came the opening riff to “The Headmaster Ritual.”  So there would be more than one Smiths song!  This song, in addition to having a great guitar riff also has a notable bass line which Iwan Gronow played perfectly.  It was like hearing the band (except that Johnny sang “same old suit since 1982”).

The next cover was a huge surprise because I had forgotten that Johnny was in the duo Electronic (with Bernard Summer from New Order).  Neil Tennant was a guest on “Getting Away with It” (Neil did not guest at TLA, of course).  It was odd because I knew this song pretty well but it sounded so different. The original has lots of keys but this song had far more guitar than synth (and no Neil Tennant).  But the guy next to me (short with a nice head of white hair) danced like a fool.

“Hey Angel” has some great guitar soloing.  Then Johnny switched gears to play a beautiful “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.” It was interesting as he sang the words and I wondered what he thought about Morrissey’s lyrics.  They are so distinctly The Smiths, but would he have ever written anything like that himself?  Certainly he doesn’t now.  Did he feel weird singing it?  I can’t imagine that Johnny Marr has felt that way in decades 🙂

He joked that politics was fun eh?  Given Morrissey’s recent proclamations, who knew where he was going with this, but he just proceeded to say that “Bug” was dedicated to “you know who.”

Then he asked, “Any requests?  Bet you weren’t expecting to hear that!”  People shouted some favorites and he responded “That’s no one of our songs, sir.” And then finally he said, “What’s that you say sir ‘Get the Message’ from 1991.  Yea I think I can do that.”  This was another Electronic song although I wasn’t as familiar with it (but that other guy sure was).

“Easy Money” from his previous album also sounded familiar.  Perhaps it had some airplay a few years ago.  The guitar chords were very Johnny Marr but the riff was heavy and the verses were very synthy.  Either way it was pretty great.  He followed it up with another song from Playland, “Boys Get Straight.”  It was also a solid rocker, with great drums from Jack Mitchell.  Clearly I need to check out his solo albums.

Just as I was wondering how long of a show Johnny Marr would do, he started playing the most iconic riff in all alternative rock.  “How Soon is Now” was just amazing.  Johnny played the echoing chords and Doviak plays the searing note  The only downside to the whole thing was that I could barely see him or Doviak the whole time.  However, being in the same room as the guy playing those chords was more than enough.

That was a set ender and frankly could have been a concert ender, it was something I’d hoped for and I got and I was satisfied.

But they did indeed come back for an encore.   As has become traditional, the encore included two songs from the new album before getting onto real encore material.

He played that chord and we all knew it was “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.”  I never thought I’d hear a room full of middle-aged men sing “to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die!”  It was amazing.

When that song was over he told us that we were the last night on his tour so how about one more?  (It turns out he played the same two songs back to back on all of his shows.  In fact it was the same setlist all tour, but he did make us feel special).

And who cares if he was lying when the opening notes of “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby” rang out and once again, we all freaked out.  It was an awesome end to the show and left all of us singing and happy.

I had basically written off Morrissey bailed on us last time.  I basically felt that I would maybe go see him if he ever came back, but possibly not.

But now that I’ve seen Johnny Fuckin Marr play “How Soon is Now” what do I need Morrissey for?

 

SETLIST

  1. The Tracers 
  2. Bigmouth Strikes Again š
  3. Jeopardy (b-side of single)
  4. Day In Day Out €
  5. New Dominions 
  6. Hi Hello 
  7. The Headmaster Ritual š
  8. Walk Into the Sea 
  9. Getting Away With It 
  10. Hey Angel 
  11. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me š
  12. Bug 
  13. Get the Message 
  14. Easy Money 
  15. Boys Get Straight 
  16. How Soon is Now? š
  17. encore
  18. Rise 
  19. Spiral Cities 
  20. There is a Light That Never Goes Out š
  21. You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby š

Call the Comet (2018)
Playland (2014)
š The Smiths cover
Electronic cover

 

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[ATTENDED: September 13, 2018] Yuno

I had heard of Yuno, but hadn’t realized it.  All Songs Considered played his song “No Going Back” back in February.  I liked it but had forgotten about it come September.

When I saw the poster for the Superorganism show and saw that Yuno was opening I assumed it was a dance band (possibly Japanese, probably female).  But I didn’t investigate.

So I was surprised when Yuno came out and he was an African-American dude from Florida.  As soon as he said his name (like “you know”) I remembered joking about the pronunciation of his name on the podcast and it all came flooding back.

Yuno is a 27-year-old from Jacksonville.  He recorded a lot of his work in his bedroom and posted it on Soundcloud.  In what sounds like a made up story Ishmael Butler of Shabazz Palaces started tracking him on Souncloud and eventually reached out to him to record an EP with SubPop.  (Yuno didn’t tell us this, I looked it up). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DIVINE COMEDY-Loose Canon: Live in Europe 2016-2017 (2018).

I loved The Divine Comedy at the turn of the century (the fin de siècle, if you will).  They were one of my favorite bands.

Since then Neil Hannon (the man behind the band) has released a few albums which I have liked–but none as much as those early records.

This recording is primarily his latter songs, and as such isn’t as exciting to me.  (Although setlists from the tour shows that he played a lot of older songs as well, so this disc is mostly a latter period recording).

The first three songs are from the newest album Foreverland: “How Can You Leave Me On My Own,” “Napoleon Complex” and “Catherine the Great.”  And among the next few songs are “To the Rescue” and “Funny Peculiar.”   So that’s five in all from that album.

The previous album Bang Goes the Knighthood accounts for five more songs “The Complete Banker,” “Bang Goes The Knighthood,” “At The Indie Disco,” “Assume The Perpendicular” and “I Like.”

So that’s ten of seventeen from the two latest albums.

After listening to it a few times I have come to appreciate his newer music even more and to see that it is equally as cleverly crafted.  He’s just a different person now with different lyrical and musical ideas.  I will certainly give a re-listen to the last decade;s worth of music.

“How Can” is fun a bouncy, “Napoleon” is snarky and witty.  “Funny Peculiar” is a duet with  guest vocals from Lisa O’Neill.  She has a fascinating singing style which is kind of peculiar in its own way.

“The Complete Banker” is wonderfully sarcastic and catchy and “I Like” is so simple and delightful.  “Assume the Perpendicular” is an other fun uptempo song, but of this batch its “Indie Disco” that is the real highlight (this includes an excerpt from New Order’s Blue Monday”).

It also sounds like this was a fun souvenir for anyone who saw the tour (he dressed up as Napoleon and others, and apparently “Indie Disco” was really fun live).  I have always wanted to see them and hold them high on my list of bands to see.  But he hasn’t been to the States in almost ten years, so I don’t have high hopes to experience them live.

The band for The Divine Comedy’s live shows has changed over the years, sometimes large and orchestral or, like this tour, a simpler five-piece.  They sound good although they do underplay the orchestral quality of the music.

Going back there’s one from Victory for the Comic Muse “A Lady Of A Certain Age” and one from Absent Friends “Our Mutual Friend.”  These two songs are lovely and quite poignant, especially “Lady.”  They are a far cry from the raucous songs of old.

The first older song is from 2001’s Regenertaion with a wild and fun rendition of “Bad Ambassador.”  His voice doesn;t sound great on this song.  I’m not sure if he ever sounded great live, but he certainly underplays some of the bigger moments in the song.

The crowd really gets pumping for Fin de Siècle‘s “Generation Sex” and “National Express.”  These two songs are a lot of fun and I imagine mus t be really rousing live.  Once again he doesn’t sound great. Not that he has lost his voice but almost like he;s not trying all that hard.

The disc is collected from shows all over Europe, so its interesting if they picked songs where he doesn’t sound that great.

It’s not until the encores that he brings out two really old songs 1994’s “A Drinking Song” and “Tonight We Fly.”

I’m sure they picked this particular version of “A Drinking Song” because he admits to being quite drunk himself.  And there’s a funny moment where he gets a hair caught in his throat.  “Is it yours?”  Indeed, his banter with the audience is a highlight.  He is clearly a good showman, and perhaps that makes up for some of the shortcomings of the disc.  This song is a good example.  His voice is much louder than the instruments and, frankly, he doesn’t sound that great as what is mostly a capella–but the overall presentation is fun.

The ending “Tonight We Fly” is a treat as well.  Again, he doesn’t sound perfect, but he sounds like he’s having fun.

I feel like this makes me want to see them a little less–except that it sounds like the performance is great even if his voice isn’t anymore.  Regardless, is he ever comes back to the States, I’ll be there for sure.

[READ: January 19, 2018] “The People Who Kept Everything”

I read this novel 7 years ago.  But since I’ve been going back through old Harper’s and found this excerpt I thought it would be worth reading (the excerpt) again.  And I really enjoyed it, I had forgotten about this scene until the end of the piece.

The narrator says that on the night before he left for college his father gave him a Spanish dueling knife and told him to keep it and never lose it.

When the narrator asks his father where he got it he says he’d better not say–he could tell him he won it in a card game in El Paso or a cathouse in Brownsville.

He kept the knife in a drawer and it moved with him to every location her went–dorm rooms, apartments.  Often it was in the kitchen with the cutlery, ignored by everyone except the new girlfriend who wanted to cook something. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BISHOP MOROCCO-“White City” (2010).

I’d never heard of Bishop Morocco.  Then they played this song on CBC Radio 3.  “White City” is a fascinating confluence of influences.  It sounds somehow late 80s/early 90s yet the the electronic drum sound is decideldy retro, early 80s.

The guitars are heavuily vibratoed.  As are the vocals.  It’s a surpiringly full sound given the limited instrumentation (it’s pretty much guitars and drums).  And it’s quite gloomy (circa The Cure’s Pornography), and yet once the chorus kicks in (still vibratoed, but now major chords) the song perks up (some).

The CBC site has 4 songs by them, and each one confirms that the early New Order/Cure sound is what they’re shooting for.  The cover of their EP “Last  Year’s Disco Guitars” really seems to encapsulate their sound (more so than their album cover does).  I enjoyed the song but after a few listens, I grew kind of bored by it.

[READ: July 4, 2010] “The Entire Northern Side was Covered with Fire”

Rivka Galchen is a completely new author to me.  This was a weird little story that I enjoyed quite a lot, because even though it seemed to be all over the place, narrative-wise, it was actually quite focused.  The narrator is an author who has a burgeoning fan base: male prisoners, who write letters. But of equal importance is that at the time that she sold her movie, her husband had just left her.  Out of the blue.

Although perhaps not out of the blue.  Because in a very humorous (darkly humorous) bit, we learn that all of her friends knew of her husband’s site: i-can’t-stand-my-wife.blogspot.com.   (more…)

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