Category: Music to my Ears

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

My first…part 4!

Another first of the month – wow! And it’s a pretty grotty one here; rain and cloud and general gloom. Welcome to Flaming June!

What June does mean is Download festival! Which is something I never thought I’d hear myself say, even as recently as 3 years ago, but here I am preparing for my 3rd one in a row and feeling very excited.

The decision to go to Download was a flippant drunken one. You see, I’m not the festival type. I don’t do rain and I don’t do camping and I don’t do wellies. I don’t do big crowds and I don’t do stinky toilets and I find a lot of rock music too heavy or shouty.

What the hell was I thinking of even suggesting it?

Honestly, I don’t know! It seemed like a really nice thing to do for the husband after a few glasses of wine (he’s a lifelong rock fan and used to go to Donnington when it was Monsters of Rock). By the following morning I was already half full of regret but it was too late; the tickets and accommodation were booked.

As I said, I don’t do camping, so it was staying in a guesthouse or nothing! I like home comforts, a dry bed and a bathroom. I can’t possibly imagine how anyone can enjoy themselves if they’ve had a quick wipe down with a wetwipe and their clothes are swimming in mud. But to each their own!

Oh, and we booked VIP guest passes in additional to the standard tickets, so we could go in and out of the guest area which has better toilets, less queues, bars, places to sit, undercover areas and additional entertainment, At £100+, on top of the £160 ticket, it’s pretty expensive, but £35 a day just for a more hygienic loo break is worth it!

So the car was packed full of clothes for every eventuality and we had plans to meet up with friends who went every year. We got ourselves settled, got ready, and called a cab to the festival site.

And it was AMAZING! The buzz collecting our wristbands and walking into the main festival arena was electric. There were hundreds of people, some dressed up, some dressed down, some already drunk. Everyone excited and up for having a good time. The sun shone all weekend meaning we could sit on the grass and chill out with drinks when there were bands that didn’t interest us that much. The food was really good; with food trucks and cuisines from all around the world. We went on the fairground and I screamed my head off. We drank Sambuca shots from a converted VW Campervan. We sang along at the top of our voices to Aerosmith and swooned over Steven Tyler.

I loved every minute.

This is my favourite picture of the weekend.

Download 2014 me and my husband

In fact it’s one of my favourite pictures EVER! It was taken by an ex work colleague of the husband’s, who is now doing very well as a photographer. I love the reflection of the circus tent in hubby’s sunglasses. It never fails to make me smile and fade off into hazy memories of an amazing weekend.

Read about last year’s wet and muddy Download here!

Are you a festival go-er? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Review: Thriller Live at the Lyric Theatre

Last weekend I went on a trip away with my Mom and Sister. On Saturday afternoon we had tickets to see Thriller Live.

I was going along for the trip and the company, not particularly for the show, and I had no idea what to expect. I love Michael Jackson’s early music but, because of the show title, I expected it to be just around the Thriller album.

The Lyric theatre is fairly compact and we were just 13 rows back so had a great view of the stage. The theatre is showing signs of age, but still has a faded glamour that gives it an element of charm rather than neglect.

The show was brilliant. Rather than having a storyline interspersed with songs (as many musicals do), it was very much based around the music with only a small amount of connecting dialogue. The cast consisted of about 20 people – 4 main singers, a Michael Jackson who appeared intermittently (and was brilliant) and the rest were dancers. The female main singer had an amazing voice which was really showcased by the songs and each and every performer did a fantastic job.

The costumes were glitzy, the sound levels enveloping and the choreography really impressive.

(pics from the website)

Musically the show started at the beginning of Michael Jackson’s career with some Jackson 5 material, through Off the Wall, into Thriller and then Bad. The best (in my opinion) Michael Jackson years.

I find that musical theatre can sometimes be a bit cheesy, but this was just a rip roaringly fun singalong experience that I’d recommend to anyone who likes the early Jacko music.

Anyone seen it?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

RIP David Bowie

Shocked and saddened to wake up this morning to find out that David Bowie has died.

David Bowie

I grew up listening to his music as my Dad was a fan. 80s songs such as China Girl and Lets Dance were often on rotation in his car on my way home from school.

It will forever be a regret that I never saw him live.

The fact that he had been battling cancer for 18 months yet still managed to record and release a new album is testament to the strength of character he had as a musician.

And yet again, the ugly evil disease proves that it doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have in life, cancer will strip it from you.

Less than 48 hours ago we were watching Lemmy’s funeral and feeling sad at the loss of a musical legend.

And now another legend has gone.

RIP Lemmy

Whether you’re a rock and roll fan or not, everyone knows of Lemmy Kilmister; hard drinking, hard living, epitome of a rockstar.

Lemmy

His death from cancer, so suddenly, is a surprise; although he hasn’t been well for quite a while.

I saw Lemmy performing live twice.

The first was with his rockabilly super group side project The Head Cat, at the Garage in London, 4 years ago. The place was absolutely rammed, and deservedly so. This was the first (and only) time the band played outside of the States and it was something special.

The second was seeing Motorhead at the NIA in Birmingham 14 months ago where the gig started, as ever, with the immortal line “We are Motorhead and we play rock n roll”.

Rock hard on the other side Lemmy. The music world has lost a great one.

Motley Crue – The Final Tour

This time last week I was basking in how great Motley Crue were at the Genting Arena the night before, and how excited I was to be seeing them at Wembley.

Motley Crue band logo

I’ll start this review by saying wow.

Now I’ll tell you why.

Firstly, Motley Crue as a band have been releasing records for over 30 years. When a band has had commercial success for that length of time; touring the world and playing to hundreds of thousands of people, it’s pretty fair to say they know their stuff. They know how to tour, how to put on a show and how to please an audience.

So it’s pretty difficult to review them in the way you would a smaller/lesser known band at a smaller venue.

Even so, there are bands that lose their shine and passion as the years go on; and perhaps their performance suffers as a result. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s band fall outs, maybe it’s quality of musicianship.

You couldn’t say any of that about Motley Crue’s two performances last week. The stage show was big – there was lots of pyro, millions of lights, fire, and a drumkit on a rollercoaster.

Motley Crue drum rollercoaster 2

Motley Crue drum rollercoaster

Drum rollercoaster

Yep, Tommy Lee’s whole kit was attached to a rollercoaster that came right out into the crowd. During his drum solo he traversed the length of the coaster and back again; going upside down while also spinning around on the drum platform. Pretty spectacular stuff!

All of the big hits were in there with pumped guitar riffs and singalong vocals. Vince was flanked by two hot girls in tiny leather outfits, and why wouldn’t he be? This is a band who were instrumental in 80s rock and really lived the rock and roll dream of sex, drugs and debauchery. They’re over 50 now, yet to watch them you wouldn’t know it. There were no signs of lethargy or slowing down- each and every member of the band was really going for it.

Vince’s vocals have taken a battering in certain reviews I’ve read, and a lot of people decided not to see them again after outdoor festival performances at this year’s Sweden Rock and Download. I don’t think an outdoor festival is ever the best representation of how good a band can be, to be honest. And with the amount of energy and movement he puts into working the stage, it’s hardly surprising he doesn’t hit every single note!

I’ve seen them 6 times in total now, which is a lot for a band I never really thought I liked before the first time, but I can honestly say that I’ve loved each and every show. Part of the brilliance is that there are hardcore fans at their gigs who absolutely live and breathe their music, so the atmosphere and excitement is electric. And the band genuinely seem to care about their performance and giving everything. The visual aspect of the shows, as well as the audio, is above and beyond what a lot of bands do.

At the end, Vince and Nikki stepped onto two mechanical arms which then swept out into the crowd, so they were over and above the audience and playing to people below.

Nikki and Vince

Necessary? Not at all! Imaginative? Yes! Expensive and difficult to set up at each gig? You betcha! But they did it because the passion is still there to deliver a great show.

Nikki fireworks

Nikki finale

Nikki

Nikki Sixx

The finale couldn’t have been more different. The band left the main stage and made their way to a small platform half way in the crowd, lighting their path with torches. Just the four of them; Nikki on bass, Mick on guitar, Tommy on piano and Vince on vocals they sang Home Sweet Home.

Home Sweet Home

Nikki and Tommy Home Sweet Home

Vince Home Sweet Home

Nikki close up

No fancy effects, no bright lights – just the band in a pared down, intimate (well, as intimate as you can be in a sold out arena!) and emotional goodbye.

Crue famously signed legal documents stating that they will never tour again, so there was always going to be a lot of hype to this tour. Sceptics would say it’s a sure fire way of selling out venues, which they did. And of course there’s lots of sadness from lifelong fans that they’ll never see them again, but going out on a high was a good move. The fans will be left with nothing but positive memories of a great live goodbye.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Gig review – Biters in Wolverhampton

Sometimes a band comes along that you’re genuinely excited about – that you’re grabbed by right from the off. For me, this year, that band is the Biters.

Biters

I’ve only been aware of them for a couple of months (although they’ve been around for a while), but their current album – Electric Blood – is everything a rock ‘n’ roll album should be, and more.

So I was very excited to hear they were touring.

Biters tour

Less excited when I found out it was on a Wednesday, in Wolverhampton.

a) Wednesday – well, say no more. School night. No drinking or partying or really throwing yourself into the occasion because you have work the next day (not that I need a drink to have a good time, but y’know).

b) Wolverhampton. Despite it’s pretty close vicinity to Birmingham, it’s a bit of a ballache to get to.

There’s also the small matter that it was less than two days til our holiday, nothing was packed and some of it wasn’t even washed yet.

But still.

Husband has this band ticked for good things, and I had a heavy sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) so we said “fuck it” to the practicalities, and off we trundled.

The Slade Rooms is a great venue – a big wide stage so you can see plenty of what’s going on, a good size gig room, ace sound and a big bar too. My favourite of the Wolverhampton venues I think – much more geared up towards a rock gig than, say, the Wulfrun or Civic Hall.

We weren’t bothered about seeing the support band, as is often the case, but arrived in time to catch them. And am I glad we did! Shock Hazard are a 3 piece from Norwich and they were great! The singer played lead guitar like he was in a full house at Wembley – a great frontman throwing himself around the stage, getting into the audience and, at one point, climbing up to the top of two big stacked amps (I actually said out loud “this isn’t going to end well” which probably wasn’t the reaction he wanted!) The band themselves look pretty mis-matched; a curly haired crazy rock god in the making, the bassist who looked like he’d be better suited in This is England 90, and the drummer who was so skinny he barely looked capable of lifting the sticks. But together they were amazing – tight, loud, fun to watch. It was a great opener.

And then came The Biters. They didn’t disappoint. Right from the off they kicked ass. Musically brilliant, vocally brilliant – loved them. 4 guys from Atlanta Georgia, this was their debut UK tour and I really felt for them – they deserved better. Wolvo on a Wednesday night is not going to go crazy, regardless of how fantastic you are (they were) and they deserved a bigger, better crowd. The front man actually said at one point “what do I need to do to get you guys going?” But what they were doing was just fine by me. Guitar riffs with a 70s flavour, singalong chorus’ and the kind of drums and bass that you can’t help but stomp along to. Singer and guitar player Tuk has the coolest style – all punky hair and skinny jeans and he’s a funny guy too; interspersing their songs with tales from the tour and home, and having some fun with members of the audience. But the music was the absolute star of the show, as it should be.

Highlights of the night for me were 1975 and Low Lives in Hi Definition, but really it would be wrong to put them out their as favourites because everything was so freakin’ good!

At times sounding like Thin Lizzy (never a bad thing!) with a distinctive vocal that makes them instantly recognisable, their songs are varied in tempo and style, but all with that inimitable 70s rock ‘n’ roll attitude that to me embodies all that I like about rock music.

If they do get as big as husband predicts, I’ll be honoured to say I saw them in a small venue in Wolvo on a Wednesday night.

But next time, if they could play a weekend date, the crowd might actually engage and show them just how great they really are!

Stupidly, I deleted all my pics (noooooo!) so here’s one courtesy of the husband.

Biters singer

And here is “Low Lives in Hi Definition”

Check ’em out!

 

Gig review – The Amorettes and Danko Jones at the Key Club in Leeds

We’re quite a fan of road trips to see bands we like and would generally rather travel to a weekend gig than do a mid week gig closer to home.

Which is how we found ourselves in Leeds on Saturday to see Danko Jones.

I was first introduced to the band by the husband (no surprise there!), about 5 or 6 years ago. They’re punky, funky, loud and in your face with great riffs and brash singalong lyrics but we’d never yet seen them live. So when they announced a UK tour, we were all over it.

Common sense would have been to go to the Wolverhampton date, but that was on a school night, and where’s the fun in that?

The Key Club was a great venue – small, intimate, dark, with great sound and a cheap bar! Seriously though, the sound quality and volume was very very good.

Support band The Amorettes are an all girl group that I wasn’t familiar with. They were pretty good – musically tight and full of attitude. For me it was spoilt by the fact that the lead singer delivered all her segues between songs in an OTT fake American accent. Why? You’re from Scotland! I hate fakery, and I hate it when bands feel they have to sound American to fit in. It completely undermines and spoils the rest of the performance for me.

And, in truth (which isn’t their fault) I was only really interested in the main band. Who did not disappoint!

One word.

Wow.

They literally blew me away. Right from the first chord the energy was incredible. Vocally, lead singer Danko is strong, raw and full of passion. Musically, for just three people, they make a hell of a lot of noise! It was like listening to the CD. Stand outs for me were “Legs” and “Do You Wanna Rock” (there aren’t many rock songs with cowbells in!)

Danko Jones Key Club Leeds

Disappointed to not hear “I Think Bad Thoughts” which was the original song that got me into them (and is probably my favourite) but that’s a very weak complaint in what was an incredible set, performance and night.

I already can’t wait to see them again – come back soon!

And, because I missed it, here is “I Think Bad Thoughts”

.

A weekend in Cornwall – Looe Music Festival

The husband came across Looe Music Festival a couple of years ago and we went for the first time last year.

We loved it so much that we said we would 100% definitely go again. And so we did.

As is usual with me I was watching the weather forecast on an hourly basis; hoping for sunshine but not counting on it. But we woke up to clear blue skies, packed the car, and off we went!

Driving to Cornwall

Looe is such a pretty place. I hadn’t been to Cornwall prior to our first visit last year, and was immediately struck by it’s beauty. A pretty harbour town, it’s split into East and West Looe by the River Looe – the two sides connected by a town bridge. It’s a myriad of small streets and fishing boats, leading down to a wide clean beach.

Out and about in Looe

Houses in the hills Looe

Looe harbour and houses

Looe harbour

It has a lot of history – check out the plaque on the Smugglers Cott pub! Built in 1430!

Smugglers Cott

During the music festival the whole place comes alive, with multiple stages around the town and bands playing in pubs, restaurants and out on the street.

It’s an absolute bargain at around £80 for a 3 day ticket, and there really is something for everyone. This year’s headliners were The Proclaimers, Jules Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, and Johnny Marr.

We stayed in a Parkdean caravan about a mile away from the centre which was comfy, cosy and in a great location.

The organisation is second to none. Well laid out with plenty of well priced bars, lots of clean toilet facilities and friendly helpful stewards, as well as lots of different streetfood stalls. Shuttle buses run every 10 minutes or so at peak times, stopping off at all the main holiday parks and campsites and dropping people off in the middle of Looe for just a pound each way.

The main stage is on the beach.

Looe Music Festival stage  Looe Music Festival beach

Looe Music Festival main stage

The whole area is so pretty…

Looking inland from Looe bridge

…and sparkles with lights as dusk approaches.

Looe

Looe evening

We ate noodles, paella, and Cornish pasties from various street food vendors.

Lamb, mint and potato pie with mash and gravy from Grumpies of Cornwall deserves a special mention. I could have eaten everything on their menu!

Grumpies of Cornwall lamb pie

Grumpies of Cornwall

Ate cake and drank wine at the harbourside after dark.

Cake and wine

And ordered handmade cocktails from the Beetle Juice van!

Beetle Juice cocktail van

The stage and beach light up for the headliners.

Looe Music Festival at night

Jools Holland at Looe Music Festival

Personal highlights included The Dodge Brothers – an Americana skiffle band. Mark Kermode – of film critic fame – plays the double bass; my favourite instrument in the world.

Looe Music Festival The Dodge Brothers

Wille and the Bandits played the BBC Introducing stage. We’ve found out they’re playing at a venue near us in a couple of weeks, which is great news!

Wille and the Bandits

And an afternoon in the Bullers Arms pub watching Steve Flanders play a great set which had the whole pub singing along.

Steve Flanders

The weather was fantastic all weekend – I had my legs out enjoying the last of the summer sun! (obligatory festival hats were worn too)

Looe Music Festival

Me at Looe Music Festival

I don’t like to be a creature of habit, because I want to see and do as many things in life as possible, but I already know there’s a very good chance we’ll be back for the third time in a row next year. That’s how special it is.

**Some photo credits to the husband on this post, including the ones with me in them, obvs!