Bon Jovi & Kid Rock – The O2 -23/6/2010

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bon-jovi-02

Thanks to the lovely people at Best Buy we find ourselves enjoying a tasty meal in the VIP area of the O2 before the show. It’s all very civilised and grown up, very fitting for a band now a mainstay among parents rather than their rebellious offspring. Bon Jovi are certainly an institution, so let’s see how they fair in a giant dome crammed with their rabid fanbase. (Hint- they do well)

But to get to Bon Jovi, we must first endure Kid Rock. His blending of terrible rap and even worse country-metal music was at least slightly relevant back in the bad old days of nu-metal. He’s not even that any more. He’s a dinosaur. He has become bloated (musically – he still looks like a trailer park meth addict) and needs to be hit by some kind of metiorite. Or a truck. I’m not bothered.

Swaggering around the stage in a series of stupid hats, backed up by a band of clearly talented, but slightly bored looking musicians, he plows his now almost exclusively country furrow to a venue that is not interested. People are here for Bon Jovi. Kid Rock is like an excitable muzak tannoy, allowing people to take their seats without silence.  At one point he goes around the stage playing all the instruments. This would be impressive if he was good at them, but he plays  to about the same level as a talented teenager in a school-age rock band.

With the audience not exactly warmed by this act, we await Bon Jovi. Best Buy’s corporate box is in a great location, overlooking the stage, but this view is traded off by the most overpriced beer I have ever seen in a venue. £4.80 for a bottle of Becks. VIP – Very Immoderate Prices (Yes, I used thesaurus.com for that)

Bon Jovi hit the stage to rapturous applause – they are note perfect and have an impressive array of age appropreate stage moves – these guys are still in great shape, but no one is diving off a speaker stack or flying over the audience on a harness.  It does seem to be the Jon and Ritchie show though, they get the front of stage, the rest of the band are relegated to the backline with the amps. But still, those two know how to work a stage – and strangely the O2’s stage-space is actually quite small.

Around half way through they bring out special guest Bob Geldof. Thankfully for everyone in the venue he comes on, does ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and buggers off. No sanctimonious speeches. Well done. This is a Geldoff I could get to like.

We get a bit of acoustic treatment, and even the inclusion of an accordian is welcomed. Ritchie Sambora sings his song, and we get some of Jon solo. The full gamut is covered.

But. We know that most of the people are here for the big ones. Bad Medicine, You Give Love A Bad Name, Livin’ On A Prayer.  How do they hold up?

Let’s be honest. You love those songs. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t. They are pop rock perfection. And even if you would deny their majesty, after a few pints you would be singing along. I’d put money on it.

They hold up very VERY well. Bon Jovi are not to be fucked with when delivering songs that have made them multi millionaires.  They kick them out with precision and passion and a set of teeth so white they burn your eyes.

I’m a bit jaded and hard to impress when it comes to music these days. I’m a bit of a dick like that.

I was singing along by the end.

Every. Word.

And dancing.

Yeah, they were good.

ATP Curated by Pavement – Reviewed

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When you first arrive on site, you are not greeted with the overwhelming whiff of jazz cigarettes and sweat, but an adventure playground and a stupid-looking goose standing right in your way. It’s not a normal festival by any means.

Some things, to be fair, will always be the same; even given a chalet, the kids will still find a grassy spot to sit on, sun or no sun; there will always be a goth contingent, although in this case, they are all Robert Smith hair and skinny black suits. But there is also a festical TV channel showing weirdo animation and arthouse movies, a water park and the ability to make yourself a proper cuppa every morning. If it didn’t make me sound like an old fogey, I’d declare it The Future. Which seems ironic at Butlins.

Due to a combination of rogue sat-nav, West London traffic and – gasp – real lives, we don’t arrive until 10pm on the Friday night, just missing the headliners Broken Social Scene. But no fear! This is All Tomorrow’s Parties and things work differently here. There’s still four hours of bands and 3 more hours of indie disco fun to be had this night.

We stroll over to the second stage, housed in one of the resorts entertainment venues, to watch Quasi, who, it seems form their biog, have less been booked to play, and more tagged along with all their friends and decided to do a set. It’s rousing, catchy and clever college rock and ideal for a late Friday slot.

Following a few rounds of air hockey we return to the second stage to check out Wooden Ships, seemingly hyped by every independent record store in the country. There is much hair, some cracking riffs, helped massively by the bafflingly excellent sound system (does an ABBA tribute act really need such good sound mixing? The desk is as big as the stage), but ultimately it is just a little too proggy to be a festival hit.

Saturday starts with the best of intentions, catching second stage openers Horse Guards Parade. They have a good line in banter, but ultimately their sound is that of someone singing 90’s Britpop songs over a post-rock backing, which seems to result in something rather awkward if not entirely unpleasant.

The sun and a pub lunch distract us for the next few hours, before heading back to the vast Pavillion to see Camera Obscura play the main stage. This festival definitely has a high male-to-female ratio, and at this point a lot of them seem to be grudgingly tapping their feet. Camera Obscura have perfected their particular line of Scottish twee, being more consistent than future AATP curators Belle & Sebastian, and a bit less precious with it.

Pavement, I have always maintained, were a little bit before my time. When Slanted & Enchanted came out, I was still young enough to be taken to Butlins in a non-ironic way. But the crowd here has a good few years on me, and they are loving it. The band are enjoyably wonky, the lyrics pleasingly odd, and the members, rather thrillingly, still don’t seem to be entirely comfortable being Pavement again. There is banter, playful inter-band bickering, and an invitation to a Stonemasonry workshop Sunday lunchtime (to be held, joy of joys, in the Bob the Builder themed playground). Someone in the crowd was wearing a Rush T-shirt, and we all hoped the reference was deliberate.

Later still we watch Still Flyin’, a San Francisco band who according to the programme promise a mix of reggae and Krautrock, but all we hear is perky US indie with the faintest of ska beats. They’d almost certainly gee up a tentative midday festival crowd, but this is 1am and everyone here has just seen Pavement be awesome, so the band seem slightly out of place.

Sunday starts with a trip to the pool, a carvery and a round of pirate-themed mini-golf, before heading to the Pavillion to check out The Dodos. Any band with a line-up of guitar-xylophone-drums is one I will generally enjoy, and this certainly true here. It’s a big expansive sound which is still poppy and melodic. A great little discovery.

By this point curiosity gets the better of us, and we go and catch part of Boris’s set, in which they perform their 2003 album Feedbacker in it’s entirety (although this is – oh, how this makes me feel ill – one track). There are three cool-looking Japanese people with double-necked guitars, a lot of dry ice, a huge crowd, and about 2 notes held indefinitely. It is one of those areas of music in which I am sure something utterly brilliant is occurring, but I’ll be buggered if I could say what. We go and play air hockey instead.

Later on, a bloke in white suit wanders on stage. We identify him firstly as the guy who was off his nuts and overly keen to have a long chat with one of our party in the loos of the Irish bar the previous night, and secondly as singer-songwriter Terry Reid. He’s clearly a guy who’s been around, and has the voice and the barely coherent stories to match. The songs are folksy and simple, and provide a much-appreciated contrast to the amount of big noodly space-rock elsewhere at the festival.

The Fall surprise a lot of people by being tight, tuneful and generally very enjoyable. Mark E Smith is still largely incomprehensible, but he seems to be keen to put on a decent show.

The Raincoats are hugely likeable and draw a massive crowd to see their folk-punk set. I had been put off of them initially, mainly due to the presence of what appeared to hand-felted Raincoats bags on the merchandise stand, but the fact is they are very very good, albeit every bit as twee as the merch makes out. But then again, so am I, so it was the perfect way to round everything off.

The line-ups for ATP festivals of the past have always seemed slightly too serious and heavy-going for my tastes, and largely this was no different, as evidenced by the amount of the times the word ‘sonic’ appears in the programme, and the massive queues for the gents. Nonetheless, the novelty value of watching The Fall next to a Punch and Judy theatre doesn’t really wear off.

The Record Player@Concrete – 1979

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Normally here on DT we avoid clubs and stick to real, actual live music, but it’s Saturday night in London Town’s most self-consciously hip district, which usually means cocktails in a former bomb shelter surrounded by pencil ‘tashed hipsters. But despite the lure of Deep House and hen parties at nearby Axis, we’ve managed to get ourselves down to Shoreditch High Street, avoided trying to sneak into Shoreditch house, and made it into Concrete for a night of retro thrills courtesy of new concern The Record Player….

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Bolt Thrower/Rotting Christ/The Rotted – ULU, London

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May 2nd, ULU – London

The Rotted

The Rotted

As befits a holiday weekend, it’s pissing down in London, so the DT staff hole up in a nearby pub and arrive late at University of London Union’s cavernous main hall just as The Rotted take the stage. While the banter is upbeat and the musicianship tight there’s a definite feeling that the band may be ploughing a rather dull furrow, their attempts to form a death metal conga line dredging up uncomfortable memories of 80’s chancers like Xentrix or Tortoise Korpse. Musically it’s a slightly odd mix, with black metal drums backing up some thrashy death and a very British sense of humour unfortunately undermining their credibility. They’re solid and spirited but ultimately unremarkable, meaning we quickly return to the merchandise area/bar/school hall area, avoiding a gigantic, very pissed skin in a Rudimentary Peni shirt in our efforts to locate a BT shirt that isn’t in XXXL size. This doesn’t exist, but luckily Greek titans Rotten Christ turn up to break the tedium.

Rotting Christ

Rotting Christ

While their move from the crawling evil that typified their early sound (and was far more appropriate to the band name)into the anthemic, gothed up festival sound they currently sport doesn’t always make sense on disc, in the live arena it makes them Christ a force to be reckoned with. Huge, swelling sound and chanting broken by those distinctive uro-centric barking vox and soaring solos. RT are a fist-pumping, festival-friendly crowd pleaser that magically lure every female in the room to the front while managing to keep up the spirits of their boyfriends back at the bar. A solid performance and the best sound of the day.

Another hour of dork watching, drinking and bemoaning the closure of the Astoria to all and sundry passes amiably enough, until that lost-but-not-forgotten opening theme strikes up and Bolt Thrower amble onto the stage, all happy faces and friendly waving at odds with the crushing war machine image and ridiculous stained glass logo.

Bolt Thrower

Bolt Thrower

It’s hard to believe everyone’s favourite Warhammer obsessed brummies have been absent from the live scene for the best part of a decade, so anticipation is high. Unfortunately the actual experience can’t compete.

‘The Sound’s Shit’ remarks a punter in front of me, and he’s spot on.

Masters of the run-gu-gud-dada chugalong school of Death, BT are hamstrung by a wobbly, thin mix that no amount of geniality from frontman Karl Willetts can cover. Ultimately we’re left watching some good natured midlanders wandering around the stage, classics like Kill Chain failing to connect –or occasionally even reach – all of the audience, leading to a lack of fun down the front and indifference at the back. Sad to say, but it makes the whole thing boring. Bolt Thrower are a great band – professional, fun, drinking-man’s death metal – and they deserve a better venue. Finger’s crossed it’s a one-off and they’ll be back on form for the next campaign.

mFlow – Is It Any Good?

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mflow

The new way of discovering music through people. – Where music comes recommended. -Sit back and listen in full as your friends, dj’s and artists flow you the tunes they really rate flow music to your own friends and followers and earn 20% of the price when they buy.

. Uh. Yeah. So it’s Spotify plus Twitter with some way to make some money if people buy what you recommend to them. It’s quite confusing.

So lets see if it’s any good. I’m downloading it now.

Setup is utterly painless. Not sure why it wants my whole name but hey. To them my name is Optimus Motherfucker. The login screen also looks like a laynyard. That’s a nice touch.

Lets see how it works. Nicely done tutorial – no  video. Just some screens. OK, so I have to follow people to get ‘flows.’ That’s the music I can listen to. I refuse to make a joke about ‘flow’. I’m above it. Really. If I ‘flow’ music and someone buys it I get a few pence.

Ok. So who can I follow?

Fuck. Zane Lowe. I hate that guy. NME? Bah. I’m not sure they fit my taste. Bit too, well, NME. Popjustice? Love the man’s writing, but can’t say I agree with what he says is AMAZING.

I’ve heard Metal Hammer is on here, so I might as well take a punt and follow them . How do I find them? Ah, they’re featured. If they weren’t I’d have no idea.

Followd. They’ve flowed some Bon Jovi. Way metal guys. But I can take a listen to the track. To be honest nothing they flowed is ‘new music’ though. Anyone who has even stood close to a metalhead knows the bands they’re recommending.

Let’s recommend something. Clutch? Clutch. More people need to know about them.

Search Clutch. One song. From The Crobar album. Strange. Let’s listen to it first so I know what I’m talking about.

Also, 90% of searches came up bad. Not much choice. Yes, the service is new so I’m going to be uncharacteristic nice and forgive them – but they better get a shit-ton of songs in there soon.

I only get a 30 second sample. Well, that blows.

What do I do with 30 second samples? I send them to people so they can hear the whole song. I’m comfused. And a bit angry. This makes no sense.

Can someone explain this to me? I want to listen to music, but I can’t. I’m going back to Spotify and Grooveshark until someone explains why this is a good idea. I like listening to whole songs. I like listening to new songs. I don’t like having to wait til someone sends me something so I can listen.

So, yeah, if you like your music taste dictated to you – go for it!

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