Friday, 19 July 2013

Glastonbury 2013 Part 1

After a fallow year in 2012 which allowed us punters to pay attention to the Summer Olympics and allowed the cows to take off their ear defenders for a bit, Worthy Farm once more played host to the great unwashed and the festival that is Glastonbury.  As has now become a ritual on this blog I shall be posting two Glasto reports, this one with a few thoughts on this year’s proceedings and a second with my world famous awards.

So without further ado, here are some general observations.  This year’s event was generally more of the same, sporting a huge variety of acts from all genres and generations, playing to enthusiastic crowds of awe-struck teens, seen-it-all-before parents and bewildered toddlers.  What was different was that the weather was almost Woodstock-like with clear blue skies rather than the usual deluge and the TV coverage was bigger and better than ever before with live broadcasting of all the major stages on multiple channels, website streaming and mobile access.  In fact, it was all too overwhelming for the poor viewer who could not possibly watch everything and was reduced to the same dilemma that confronts the actual festival goer, that is, which acts do I watch?  Hurrah for hard disk recording!

Some things, however, never change and it is quite curious to note that despite the massive advancements in music tech and the changes in society generally, the one aspect of bands at Glasto that has not changed is that guitars have remained resolutely stuck in the 1960s.  Everywhere you looked guitarists were sporting Fender Stratocasters or Telecasters, Rickenbackers, Gibson Les Pauls or SGs.  If you found a bass player without a Fender Precision you were doing very well indeed.  It seems to be that guitars have become the genes of the rock world that are passed on from generation to generation, tying the line of heritage together into a complete whole.  There is almost a reverence in using classic instruments that the likes of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix once sported that says, ‘we are descended from the greats’ like the royal right of succession.

Without giving too much away, Saturday headliners, The Rolling Stones, will not be appearing in my Top 3 (to be revealed in my next post) and for one reason only; they are the meanest band in rock.  They made their fortune several times over, years ago, so why do they still insist on holding people to ransom over fees.  This time, they wanted to restrict broadcast time to one hour and when that was finally agreed (the day before their performance), started to quibble over repeat fees.  It’s not like broadcasting their set is likely to keep paying punters away, the festival was a sell out months ago.  It’s about time Mick and the boys started to give something back to the industry and the fans that made them what they are.

I’ve got hours and hours of recorded material to wade through and I've not seen their performance yet, but perhaps I won’t bother.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Couples in Rock

Benatar & Giraldo
Whilst it may be true that behind every great man is a great woman, it seems that in some circumstances, behind every great band is a great couple.  I’ve been reacquainting myself with my 80s love, Pat Benatar via her ‘Ultimate Collection’ (a download snip at 40 tracks for £7) and can’t help but notice that the common theme running through her lengthy career is her relationship with guitarist, Neil Giraldo who ascends from band member and writing contributor to husband and lifelong collaborator.

There is something quite endearing about such relationships.  Unlike most couples with a shared life they are not to be found in front of the TV with their tea on a tray but are more likely to be seen on that same TV doing acoustic versions of songs from their glory days.  Sweet.  In fact couples can be found in many places.  One pairing is Debbie Harry and Chris Stein who have effectively carried Blondie through thick and thin despite their relationship floundering and Chris’s life threatening illness.  Without their tenacity despite no longer being ‘an item’ the later Blondie comeback would not have happened.  Whether or not this was a good thing is still open to discussion but you can’t help admiring them for trying.

Another long-lived couple is Martha Johnson and Mark Gane who are now the only survivors from the 80s phenomenon that was Martha and the Muffins.  Now married, they have forged a lifelong musical partnership and still record under their faintly ridiculous name as at today.

However, before we get too complacent about the warm glow around couples in rock, let us not forget that musical history is littered with failed attempts.  Those of you who have albums by Fleetwood Mac and Abba in particular will bear witness that not all paths run smoothly to musical dotage.  Amongst others who fell along the way are Siouxsie/Budgie, Annie Lennox/Dave Stewart, Sonja Kristina/Stewart Copeland and many others too tedious to list.  It is the failure rate that makes those that endure stand out amongst their peers.  Had she lived, I envisage that Linda McCartney would’ve been a member of the elderly musical couples club, too.

It is said that married persons generally live longer than singletons, so perhaps this translates to musical couples?  If so look forward to a whole string of albums from Blondie, M+M and Ms Benatar.  Hmm.