Category: Music to my Ears

Friday Feeling [18] – I’m Ju to the Di

A bit of fun for today’s Friday Feeling.

Dame Judi Dench, aged 82, Shakespearean actor, theatre performer, Oscar nominated, Academy Award winning, Queen Elizabeth playing, James Bond legend and OBE…

…rapping with Lethal Bizzle.

Dame Judi Dench and Lethal Bizzle

Yes, you read that correctly.

Words can’t do justice to how fab it it, so I implore you to watch the clip!

Go Judi!

Have a great weekend and thanks, as always, for reading. x

Foo Fighters at Glastonbury

Did anyone see TV coverage (or live, if you were lucky enough to be there!) of Foo Fighters headlining Glastonbury on Saturday night? After having to bow out at the 11th hour in 2015 when Dave Grohl broke his leg, they made an outstanding appearance on the Pyramid Stage; 2+ hours of some of the best televised live music I have ever seen.

Foo Fighters logo

I’m a big fan of Dave Grohl. I think he comes across as a super nice guy, super fun and mischievous but also very dedicated. I have always said that he’d be on my invite list if I was hosting a celebrity dinner party (you never know, it might happen). But aside from my gooey eyed love for him as a person, he’s obviously incredibly talented and can deliver a tune. I’ve only ever seen Foos once, at the Millenium Dome many years ago, I was right up in the gods, about 3 rows from the very top rear of the venue, but even from there the sound was so good, it was like listening to a CD. The band are incredibly tight, with great energy, and a back catalogue of hits that could have anyone rocking out. Saturday night’s performance was no exception.

Which is why I was incredibly surprised when my work colleague told me that there was a review in the Guardian calling the show mediocre and awarding it only 3 stars out of 5. I was baffled. Had the reviewer watched the same show as me?

You can read the review here.

Pretty much everyone I know who watched it, on TV or in the flesh, said it was incredible. There are only a few people I know, who for some reason have an innate hatred of DG (like, how and why?) who didn’t enthuse about it.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that the reviewer in the Guardian thinks she is too cool to say how bloody brilliant it was, and wants to stand apart from the general admiring populous and score some imaginary hipster points by being negative.

Journalism used to be an admirable career and journalists used to be purveyors of truth. Now it seems that they only write for sensationalism, to attack people’s beliefs and standing in society (Jeremy Corbyn, anyone) or to gain some kind of notoriety. I appreciate that reviews are always subject to personal opinion, and therefore not everyone will agree, but on this one I think Ms Hutchinson is wildly off the mark.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen it, I’d encourage you to watch again on BBC iPlayer and make your own mind up (it’s an amazing set, you can thank me later)

What did you think, if you saw it? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Is Harry Styles the next David Bowie?

So asked The Guardian a few days ago, referencing an article from the NME.

(for the uninitiated, Harry Styles is a member of boy band One Direction, who were put together by Simon Cowell on TV talent show X Factor)

The very short answer is, quite obviously, no.

We don’t need another David Bowie. He was one of a kind, a visionary, with an eclectic history, back catalogue and chameleon like appearance. He started out at a time when making it in the music industry meant slogging your guts out, writing your own songs and being original.

Harry Styles was thrust into the public eye along with 4 other good looking boys in a manufactured, made for TV group, singing songs written by other people, not playing an instrument and with his career shoehorned into the public eye by the very powerful Simon Cowell. That isn’t music legend calibre.

Not to take anything away from Harry Styles. In fact I think his new song is absolutely amazing, and was truly shocked when the husband played it to me and told me who it was. I think it has the makings of becoming an epic song for a long time to come. But it isn’t 100% his song. He’s co-written it. I’m sure it’s been very carefully put together and orchestrated by Harry’s management company with a view to distancing people from his boy band past and turning him into a credible and respected artist. And maybe it will work. Maybe he’ll become a hugely respected solo star. Who knows?

But the media need to stop trying to recreate and replace music legends who have been and gone. Let singers be an artist in their own right.

David Bowie was an immense artist, with a career spanning decades. He’s an artist that I’m proud to wear across my chest (and did so today!)

David Bowie tshirt flared jeans and clogs

Will I ever wear a Harry Styles tshirt? Doubtful!

Read the for and against arguments of the Bowie likeness from two different columnists for the Guardian.

What do you think?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

GIG REVIEW: The Counterfeit Stones

I have mixed feelings about tribute bands. On the one hand I think it’s pretty good that you can go and see a band who look and sound like a real band that you like, but in a cheaper and more accessible way (generally smaller venues and playing more regularly than the originals). On the other hand I’m like “but it’s not the real band and they’re just pretending”. Although that’s what actors do and obviously I’m ok with that.

A dichotomy, no?

What I don’t have mixed feelings about, is how great the Counterfeit Stones were when I saw them on Saturday night!

I’d never heard of them before, but the husband told me they’re classed as one of the best Rolling Stones bands out there and, according to their website, Mick Jagger classes them as “The Most famous Stones band in England” (apart from the originals, obvs!)

“The Counterfeit Stones have successfully toured the globe for nearly twenty years, and during that time have played shows with audience capacities of up to 60,000. Their many fans include Bill Clinton, Prince Edward, Lemmy, Mick Jagger, the Gallagher brothers, Jerry Hall and many many more.”

None too shabby!

Playing all the hits, the ticket was real value for money with two sets of around 45 minutes each. Front man Nick Dagger has the voice, the look and the mannerisms of Mick – he struts, he swaggers and he sounds ridiculously like Jagger himself. Close your eyes and you could be at a Stones gig. Each band member is very tight and plays immensely, which was obviously helped by the really great sound at the venue.

counterfeit-stones-at-the-robin-bilston

There’s a comedic element to their performance, with a bit of audience banter and not taking themselves too seriously, certainly enhanced by the terrible wigs worn by “Keith” and “Ronnie” but for a singalong, rousing fun night out, you can’t go wrong! If you like the Rolling Stones and you see these guys advertised at a venue near you, my advice would be to go and have a great time.

I wore my new red velvet paisley flares from Forever 21. Aren’t they great? They got a lot of love!

forever-21-paisley-velvet-flares

Read about the time I went to the Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi gallery here.

What are your thoughts on tribute bands? Yay or nay?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

She wore bluuuuuuuue velvet…

I’m currently mad on velvet, hence the title of this blog post (it’s a reference to the 1960s Bobby Vinton song of the same name, in case you were wondering. Extra blog points if you “got it” without me explaining).

Velvet is so sumptuous and soft and wintery. It’s comforting and cosy, classy but hippy and it seems to be everywhere this year.

It started with these Jeffrey Campbell rip off inspired boots which I bought from ebay. Check out the colour!

plum-crushed-velvet-lace-up-boots

Then, I decided I couldn’t live without a pair of velvet flares. So 70s! So rock n roll! So cool! Luckily Forever 21 came up trumps, and I bagged these black beauties.

Not content with a triangular silhouette, I went in the opposite direction and started looking at velvet skinny trousers. I didn’t want anything too structured, but also didn’t want leggings. These ones from Boohoo are a perfect compromise – pull on style with no zips or buttons, but not too skin tight.

 

Then I turned my attention back to boots. Primark satisfied my hunger on a budget, with these plush grey ankle boots for just £15.

grey-primark-velvet-boots

Finally, for Christmas, my sister bought me these from River Island – velvet and leopard print. What could be better? They’re so incredibly comfortable and anyone who comments on how great they are has to stroke them (I insist!)

river-island-leaopard-print-velvet-ankle-boots

I ordered a load of velvet tops in the sale (not to wear with the trousers and boots, I hasten to add!) but unfortunately they were all pretty naff and belonged in the sale (or the trash).

Just in case you’re disappointed at the lack of actual blue velvet, here is the aforementioned Bobby Darin song to please your ears!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

GIG REVIEW: Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown O2 Academy Birmingham

The husband and some friends have been waxing lyrical about this band for a while now, so when we saw they were playing at the O2 Academy in Birmingham we jumped at the chance to go and see them live. They were supporting The Cadillac Three, who held less appeal, but at just £15 a ticket it was still good value.

Weekday gigs are often a bit of a struggle as I have a 30 mile drive home, a portion of which is currently plagued with roadworks and slow traffic, and getting back into the city centre for a support band isn’t easy. At one point it looked like we might miss them, but fortuitously their stage time was later than we expected and we got to see the entirety of their set.

Wow. What a great great band. From Nashville, they play Bluesy Southern rock with meaty bass guitar and chunky drums. The eponymous front man, Tyler, is full of energy, charm and swagger, plays guitar like a demon and looks like he’s just stepped out of the late 60s. At just 25 years old he’s already had a lot of exposure and acclaim from a young age, and the band have opened for rock legends like Aerosmith, AC/DC and ZZ Top. His steel guitar playing was outstanding and vocally he’s raspy, gritty and growly – like a rock and roll singer should be.

tyler-bryant-the-shakedown-o2-academy-birmingham-2

Musically there’s a lot of 60s and 70s influences too, and a touch of country alongside good old rock n roll. Special mention to Caleb Crosby who’s drum solo at the front of the stage towards the end was as exhilarating for the audience as it must have been exhausting for him.

tyler-bryant-the-shakedown-o2-academy-birmingham-3

Humble, gracious and polite (thanking the crowd for spending their money and supporting live music, praising the venue and the audience) it was all together an outstanding gig experience. A really cool band, with charisma for days, who I’ll most definitely be checking out again.

tyler-bryant-the-shakedown-o2-academy-birmingham-4

As a footnote, headliners The Cadillac Three didn’t ding our dong. We hung around for a couple of songs but they’re so Southern that the song lyrics were unintelligible and they came across as a bit of a bad parody. Sorry guys! On the plus side this meant that I was at home in pyjamas by 10pm! Rock n fuckin’ roll!

If anyone has any suggestions of bands I should be checking out, let me know!

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this live video so you can judge for yourself.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Happy Birthday Freddie Mercury

Today would have been Freddie Mercury’s 70th birthday.

Freddie Mercury

Wow. It’s hard to imagine the flamboyant exuberant performer as a man of 70. I hope he’d still be wearing sparkles and fur and playing up to the crowds. I hope he’d still be touring with Queen. I hope I would have got to see him, at least once.

I was only a teenager when he died, and was very very moved and upset. I’d grown up listening to 80s Queen in my Dad’s car – it was part of the soundtrack to my childhood. Seeing him so poorly, so frail, so unrecognisable in the last video for “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” was so sad. HIV and AIDS was still a fairly unknown and uncommon disease at the time, and unfortunately was a death sentence. But he was a performer right to the very end.

When Queen announced a tour with Adam Lambert as the front man, I knew I had to go. A lot of die hard fans were up in arms, and didn’t agree with another singer. And of course I, and any Queen fan, would have preferred to see the band in full, with Freddie at the helm. But with that not being an option, I still wanted to soak up the songs I’d grown up with in a concert setting.

It was an outstanding gig. Adam Lambert is a more than worthy front man – theatrical, camp, full of energy and with an amazing voice. I read an interview with Brian May where he said that Adam could reach some notes that even Freddie couldn’t reach live, and that he’d hate him a little bit for it! But it’s important to note that that Adam wasn’t trying to replace Freddie, and neither were the band. They toured as Queen with Adam Lambert.

There were homages to Freddie during the show and a fantastic segment where Freddie was shown singing and Brian played the guitar alongside him.

Freddie Mercury is irreplaceable. The band knew that, Adam Lambert knew that and the audience knew that. But the chance for a legion of newer – and older – fans to enjoy the music and the performance was a great one.

So Farrokh Bulsara, I hope you’re enjoying your party in the sky, and rocking out hard.

Have you ever seen Queen live? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

DISCOUNT: 33% off tickets for Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might remember that I went to London earlier this year to see Thriller Live.

The people at the Lyric Theatre in London’s West End have since contacted me and asked me to share with you a link to a 33% discount on performances between September and March.

Good to know my blog is so hard hitting and immediate, eh?

Just kidding!

Anyways, here’s the link, if you’re interested.

And you can read my review of the show here.

It’s really well put together and choreographed , and a must if you’re a fan of Michael Jackson’s early music. It starts off with the early Jackson 5 70s stuff, right through into Jacko’s 80s heyday, before he got all weird and preachy and a bit middle of the road musically.

Now, far be it from me to mention the “C” word at this ridiculously early point in the year, but this could be a good chance to pick up a (very) early bargain Jesus’ birthday present for your friends or family – making you look like a really generous gift hero whilst saving yourself some cash.

Just a thought!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Days out: The Rolling Stones, Exhibitionism

Part of the husband’s birthday present from me was tickets to go and see the Rolling Stones exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London. I say “tickets”, it was actually one ticket, because the other one was for me! Buying tickets as a gift generally means that I get to benefit too (unless it’s something hideous that I have no interest in, and then he can have the pair and take a third person of his choosing).

It would be unfair of me to class myself as a fan of the Stones. In fact I always maintained that I didn’t really “get” them. I didn’t grow up with their music and a lot of it seems fairly uncomplicated compared to stuff that I listen to. But when they announced a gig in Hyde Park 3 years ago, and a lot of my friends wanted to go, I was definitely up for it. Partially because of good old FOMO (which I’ve posted about before), partially because it could have been a piece of history (I mean, they are getting on a bit), partially because I was curious, and mainly because I fancied a day out with my friends.

In truth, it’s right up there with one of the best days I’ve ever had, EVER. It was so much fun, the weather was great, the setup was great, everyone was happy and smiling and The Stones were amazing. I really understood the hype that day. The atmosphere was electric, they sang all the hits and seeing them live definitely made me look at them in a different way.

Anyway, back to the exhibition. The entire Saatchi Gallery is devoted to it from April until October this year, which in itself is no small achievement as the Gallery spans multiple floors and usually houses multiple exhibitions at once. Entry is timed so you have to book your ticket for a specific day and time slot, which are spaced 30 minutes apart. Once inside it becomes apparent why this is done, because you’re taken on a journey through various gallery spaces with various media delivery, so it’s obviously a way of keeping numbers controlled and ensuring everyone gets a fair crack at seeing everything.

Going on a Saturday at 11.30am I expected it to be really busy, but we arrived pretty much on the dot (thanks to a delayed Virgin train) and walked straight in. It’s incredibly well done, starting right from the early beginnings of the band, through the 60s and right up to present day. There’s such a varied amount of information – memorabilia, original instruments, hand written song lyrics, artwork from across the decades; film, music and costumes.

Oh, and of course the obligatory giftshop, where you can buy an umbrella for a snip at just under £300 – perfect for these rainy days we’re having at the mo.

Unfortunately no photographs are allowed inside, but I did snap these sculptures out in Sloane Square.

The exhibition takes around 90 minutes to get around (I mean it could take longer, if you pored over every artefact, but that’s how long it took us and we felt happy that we’d seen everything).

Have you been? Would you like to? Are you a fan of the Rolling Stones?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

The Happiness Tag

Now that my head has stopped rebelling against happiness (so dramatic!) I thought it was time for something lighthearted to lift the mood. That’s not to ignore the terrible stuff that has happened since (RIP Jo Cox) but sometimes humour is needed in the depths of despair.

On that note, I  was tagged by the lovely Dannii Jane at A Beautiful Thing to talk about things that make me happy. So here we go!

Happiness!

The rules for this tag are simple. List 5 things that make you happy, 5 songs that make you happy and then nominate 5 bloggers to complete this tag.

5 things that make me happy

  • Sunshine. Instantly lifts my mood and makes me a nicer, happier person (and easier to live with too!)
  • A really good meal. That sense of yummy enjoyment when food is speaking to your very soul.
  • Holidays. Planning them, but more so going on them! Seeing stuff, visiting places, taking photos, lying on a beach – I love everything about getaways.
  • My balcony in summer. I love planning colour schemes and potting new plants, watching them grow.
  • Singing along to powerful songs – the likes of Mariah and Whitney – trying for (and missing!) the high notes and doing the whole fist grab warbly diva thing!

5 songs that make me happy

  • Chris Isaak – Wicked Game

This song reminds me of my husband, we used to listen to it loads when we first got together and it reminds me of that time.

  • Motley Crue – Smokin in the Boys Room

This was always the first song I put on the jukebox in the many nights we spent in the Rainbow Bar & Grill in West Hollywood, LA. It’s so fun!

    • Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

I loved this song from the first time I heard it. When we were at the Rolling Stones Hyde Park gig a few years ago I was running round trying to find some friends who’d travelled separately (Hi Cookie and Sadie!) We kept missing each others calls and texts and struggled to get in touch due to poor signal and then I found them when this song was playing. I will always always remember it for that.

  • Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime

The ultimate summer song and one that never fails to make me stop what I’m doing, smile, dance and singalong. I truly believe it’s the best summer song ever! You know I’m right!

  • Finally, a very unseasonal one! Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

I can’t listen to this without singing. I sing it so badly and I don’t even care, that’s part of the fun! It’s the ultimate Christmas song that I also do a weird hybrid pirouette dance when I hear it at home to make the husband laugh. For that reason he plays it on purpose when I’m doing other stuff, because he knows I’ll drop everything and come and dance in the lounge!

I’m actually not going to nominate anyone specific because I don’t want to put anyone on the spot, but if you’re reading this and it sounds fun then please get involved! And don’t forget to leave me a note in the comments with a link to your post so I can check out your answers.

Happy Friday and thanks, as always, for reading! x