Music 2008

SEEING STARS 

On Attending Stars gig, Cypress Avenue, 23/1/08 

Incontestably, ‘Steve McQueen’ by Prefab Sprout is the greatest album ever made in the history of recorded music.  It was played as intro music.  Halfway through ‘Hallelujah’ the band shambled onstage.  Co-singer Torquil Campbell (yes, I looked him up on Wikipedia – he’s starred in ‘Sex & The City’ and ‘Law And Order’ y’know) told us ‘Prefab Sprout are the greatest band ever’ and Stars struck up a languid piece of chamber pop par excellence (I don’t know the song’s name – titles are for Liverpool to win).  The misery of the godawful support act was forgotten as our ears bathed in the textured glory.  Such ‘Elegance’.  Sadly, the heavenly pop hits didn’t continue to flow seamlessly.  It seems they’d taken the Sprouts ‘Couldn’t Bear to Be Special’ to heart.

For every peerless silk purse moment which sounded like something off ‘Swoon’ we were also served up a stodgy pigs ear which wouldn’t have been out of place on ‘Seven & The Ragged Tiger’.  Amy Millan was a lot of the problem.  Her breathy, whispered vocals soon got on my wick.  She appeared bored at times and was singularly lacking in charisma – ‘The Ice Maiden’.  Her co-vocalist was singing songs written out of necessity; Millan was on-stage as a break from reading knitting magazines.  Torquil Campbell also played the trumpet and a recorder.  He is ‘The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’.  Completely. 

The sell-out crowd didn’t add much to the night.  We were all in the audience but only some of us were looking at Stars.  Others were content to have full-blown conversations throughout and the drunken pond-life standing near us were ascloseasthis to getting hit upside their head.  Near the end we had a rather marvellous, drunken stage invasion by a Robert Forster look-alike (the ex-Go-Between not the ‘Jackie Brown’ actor).  He and Campbell wrestled intensely as they stared maniacally into each others eyes and bounced around while the Star kept singing.  The stage invader stripped to the waist and, arms aloft, dived back into the crowd.  This ‘Horsin’ Around’ led to him being carted off the premises to the accompaniment of smashing glass.  He had some ‘Enchanted’ evening.

‘We Let The Stars Go’ and kill us softly with their songs a few times though and it was ‘Bonny’.  ‘When The Angels’ had the ‘Appetite’ (ok, that’s the last Prefab Sprout song-title I’ll purloin) it was wondrous.  And in fairness over the hour and a quarter they dished up at least half a dozen showstoppers.  ‘Personal’ was the pick of them.  Sung by Campbell with eyes shut, when he got to the lines ‘Is it you or me?’, which he repeated deathlessly at the end, it was immortal.  It’s off their new album (‘In Our Bedroom After the War’) which is getting very mixed reviews.  It should be bought for ‘Personal’ alone.  An astounding song.

I went to see ‘No Country For Old Men’ before the gig.  My expectations were high for that film also.  While the great expectations were not met, the film and the concert were both consummately entertaining.   Entertainment is perfectly acceptable in this ‘Cruel’ world.  Forsooth, not everyone can be Paddy McAloon or Steve McQueen…

Ralph Mexico

 
 
HAMMELL ON TRIAL, AUDIENCE ON FIRE
 
On Attending Hammell On Trial gig,  Cyprus Avenue, Cork  25/2/08
 
 
True story.  4 guys.  Monday night.  Car to Cork .  Lot of laughter.  Agreement reached that music is dead as we know it.  Meglomaniacal dunces U2 are in 3D in the cinemas.  James Blunt is still alive.  The gutless talent-free zone that is Glen Hansard wins an Oscar.   It’s all been done.  These days it’s all ‘moon in June’ rhyming by po-faced mummy’s boys who think being sincere and earnest is more important than having anger and balls.  If you have an acoustic guitar you are a bedwetter.  You strum your F Minors and sing how she left you for the town’s mechanic who has Go Faster stripes on his car and a Nickelback cd.  Wah-wah no-one understands me.  Hammel On Trial (Initials: HOT; Attitude: FLAMING) lines up these lily-livered deadbeats and uses their spinal chords as toothpicks.  His battered 1930s acoustic guitar looks like it’s been shared between Howlin’ Wolf, Keith Richards, John Gotti and Robinson Crusoe.  It’s his only guitar and it’s an angry bastard.  He wrote a song about it.  ‘Seven Seas’.  Probably the greatest song about putting down a 10 bucks downpayment on a guitar and waiting for your ship to come in before paying off the rest.  In the song, he composed sea-shanties, he rented ‘Jaws’, he watched re-runs of ‘The Love-Boat’ – no ship came in.  He read ‘Moby Dick’, he got a tattoo that read ‘Ishmael’, he walked like Brando in ‘On The Waterfront’ – still no ship.  Then on Christmas Day he saw three ships coming into the Bay.  Three ships.  Christmas Day.  Closer. Closer.  Three ships.  One.  Two.  Three.  Bingo.  Ships.  None of them were his. In the end his wife paid off for the rest of the guitar so ultimately ‘Seven Seas’ is a love story.  Weep over that Barbra Cartland.  You tart. 
 
Hamell told jokes about working in a bar that was a crack den.  Jokes about his friend’s mother dying in hospital and him taking her on in thumb-wrestles before rigor-mortis set in.  Jokes about his son playing in the traffic.  Jokes about giving up drugs after 20 years of putting in the hours big style.  Jokes about his mother being ‘a lousy piece of ass’.  Jokes about sex-starved miners.  Jokes about not understanding our Cork accents.  Jokes about the nerdy couple at the front (‘you guys met on the internet, right?).  He sang a song about his hero John Lennon.  He sang a song about pussy.  He sang a song about his father killing his mother.  He sang a song about oral sex.  He sang a song about lying to his son.  He sang a song about hating his son-in-law.  When I say ‘sang’ I mean ‘spat out words like an uzi, hitting targets like the World Paintball Champion’.  Bang bang bang.   This was white hot heat.  
 
He tore Hemingway’s words asunder; in Ed’s world it’s better to live 100 years as a lion than a single minute as a lamb.   He talked about seeing The Who as a 14 year old.  How he sneers when people ask him what he thinks of some lame-brain, weak-kneed shock-jock new band.  ‘I saw The Who.  I was 14.  They were louder than war.  Their drummer died and came back to life.  The instruments were destroyed in a tsunami of electricity.  They had tantric sex with the most gorgeous looking broads in the arena.  Three at a time.  And you expect me to be impressed by your puny alt rock sh!t?  I didn’t do that many drugs!!’  He bashed out ‘ Rockaway Beach ’ and ‘White Riot’ to finish.  Punk’s not dead, it just smells a bit off.
 
Look, it was a Monday night.  Just 4 guys at a gig.  Maybe some of them had a piss against some Pajeros in Bandon on the road home.  Maybe a weeny cd was ejected from the car stereo, broken and thrown to the wind as the car sped through Innishannon.  Maybe plans were made to play improv noise in De Barras this summer under the moniker ‘Lanky& The Rotten Crotches’.  All of these things are possible.  Sometimes a great notion just needs a leap of faith.  Hop, skip and jump, wait for the bump.        
 
Ralph Mexico
 
 
WELCOME TO THE PLEASURE (of) COHEN
 
On Attending Leonard Cohen gig, IMMA, June 2008
 
 
If this was Leonard Cohen’s last ever appearance in Ireland – Hey, that was some way to say ‘Goodbye’.  For 3 hours (including two 15 minute intervals which allowed me observe up-close the ridiculously well-mannered toilet queues) the 74 year-old defied conventions of age, time, expectation and delivered more than 20 songs that have had such an effect on me I’ve decided to become Jewish in his honour.  I’m booked in for a circumcision with Dr. Peelitbach on Wednesday week.  Shalom.
 
The evening had started delightfully with the discovery that the perfect way to listen to support act Damien Rice is to be chatting in the queue for Pieminister with the wind blowing the sound of the onstage warblings out of earshot towards Phoenix Park.  He sings it best when he sings nothing at all.  Oh, and the pies were scrumdiddleyumptious.
 
After a theatre-style countdown (Mr. Cohen will be on-stage in 15 minutes, 10 minutes’ etc.) the band took their places without fanfare and the venerable poet/ icon/ ladies man/ legend ran onstage.  Some kind words of thanks in his humble, endearing way and a swoonsome ‘Dance Me To The End Of Love’ led to the first of innumerable standing ovations.
 
Cohen’s stage manner alone was sufficient to justify the €95 entrance fee.  He carried himself with such grace: the way he held his fedora to his heart when accepting the end-of-song applause; the style of singing some songs in a semi-geneflecting pose as if reading from an autocue scrolling along the stage floor; the twinkle he still has in his eye – he may now ‘ache in the places that I used to play’ but somehow I doubt the old rogue has many lonely, poetic nights of the soul.
 
I’ve pared the highlights down to a list of 5 songs that, trust me, was as fiendishly difficult a task as refraining from punching out the lights of the snood-wearing loudmouth who was sitting behind me ‘entertaining’ the masses with his ‘Listen to me Leonard’ lobotimised leerings.  So here’s Laughing Len’s Loveliest Lullabies:-
 
(5) ‘Bird On A Wire’.  Never my favourite Cohen song but this version was delivered with adjusted lyrics and a palpable yearning that was spine-tingling.  Key line – ‘I have tried in my way to be free’.
 
(4) ‘Hallelujah’.  The song he’ll probably be remembered for more than any other, it really is a monumental piece.  It was unmistakable the way he raised his voice for the lines ‘All I’ve ever learned from love, is how to shoot somebody who outdrew you’.  You gotta’ think this was especially for his ex-lover/ ex-manager who defrauded him out of $5million while he was in a Buddhist monastery.
 
(3) ‘Tower Of Song’.  A glorious, self-deprecating lyric about where he stands in the pantheon of great writers (Hank Williams lives 100 floors above him for starters) which he rattled off jauntily with his tongue firmly in his cheek.  Key lines – ‘You’ll be hearing from me baby, long after I’m gone; I’ll be speaking to you sweetly from a window in the tower of song’.
 
(2) ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’.  Read sans accompaniment as slowly the night drew in.  The bard’s voice carried real authority.  This dude can talk about leurve.  He’s put in the hours.  This was an amazing, lustrous experience to hear these words.  On this stage.  At this time.  Immense.  Key line – ‘I saw there were no oceans left for scavengers like me’.
 
(1) ‘Suzanne’.  Appearing early in the second half of the show with Cohen alone on acoustic guitar.  He seemed to age during the songs duration – beginning as a hungry, young poet and ending this song that will outlive us all as a senior citizen looking back over a life less ordinary.  He didn’t sing this song for 12,000 Irish mortgage-holders who were concerned about steering the BMW through the traffic in time to get a glass of Chablis ’97 at the clubhouse bar before relieving the babysitter.  He sang this one from the heart – for ‘the poet in every bar and genius in every bedroom’ that Dublin contains.  His eyes were soft with sorrow as he sang.  Our eyes or ears weren’t worthy of such greatness.  Key line – the whole song.  Listen to it now, peasants.
 
Of course there are quibbles; this wasn’t R.E.M supported by The Go-Betweens in the RDS in 1989 after all.  The band were a bit floaty, smoothy, jazzy and some songs (‘In My Secret Life’, ‘Waiting For The Miracle’, ‘If It Be Your Will’) were pretty samey but then a killer line such as ‘She’s 100 but she’s wearing something tight’ would appear and you’d have to smile.  When ‘Democracy’ was played we were (mis)treated to the cringe-inducing spectacle of your great aunt Martha dirty dancing with senile uncle Kevin in the aisles.  And the song is dire to boot.  The journey down ‘Boogie Street’ should have detoured over to ‘Chelsea Hotel’ to save our souls.   
 
The great man’s between song patter was memorable as well.  That was when he took a break from introducing the band.  The backing singers, Sharon Robinson and the Webb sisters, got more name-checks than Jesus at a Cliff Richard concert.  “Y’know its 15 years since I stood on a stage.  Back then I was 60; just a kid with a crazy dream”.  “Ireland still has a magical way of saying it won’t be dictated to, as the referendum showed last week”.  My companions at the gig were hoping/ praying for ‘So Long, Marianne’ and ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ respectively.  I was holding out for ‘Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye’.  All three remained unplayed.  Maybe it was for the best.  We could very easily have been overcome by joy and expired in ecstasy.  Can you imagine the headlines: ‘Fans Die Of Happiness At Leonard Cohen Concert’.  That would be one for the annals like ‘Fire Destroys Old Trafford, MENSA Membership Drops by 70,000’.
 
Ralph Mexico
 
 
WILLIAM, IT WAS REALLY SOMETHING
 
On Attending Billy Bragg gig, Cypress Avenue, Cork 5/12/08
 
 
The Highlights:  The older songs like ‘A Lover Sings’, ‘The Milkman of Human Kindness’.  The duet of Gram Parsons’ ‘Sin City’ with the bearded yankee support act.  The awesome rendition of Woody Guthrie’s ‘I Ain’t Got A Home in this World Anymore’.  More recent songs such as ‘Accident Waiting to Happen’ and ‘Must I Paint You a Picture?’.  He sang ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ for Mr Obama.  Rihanna singing about her ‘Umbrell-a-a-a-a’ this was not.
 
The Hits:  ‘Greetings to the New Brunette’ was a stonking opener.  ‘Levi Stubbs Tears’ was note perfect and all the more chilling as Levi Stubbs passed away a few months ago.  ‘Sexuality’ was breezy and upbeat while ‘A New England’ (‘Let’s finish with a sing-song shall we?’) was ‘A New England’.
 
The Between Song Chat:  Some humanist lectures from the heart.  Some slagging of his soundman (Grant Showbiz – ex Smiths manager) and the support act who had seen the Spire in Dublin but failed to find the famous post office nearby.  Some tales about the importance of The Clash.  Sadly, no mention of the Beamish and Crawford closure and maybe a little too much about British politics.  Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet was a recurring target for a good kicking though which was cheered to the rafters.
 
The Lyrical Changes:  In ‘Greetings to the New Brunette’ where previously he sang ‘How can you like there and think of England when you don’t even know whose in the team’; tonight we got ‘How can you lie there and think of England when you don’t even know what happened to Roy Keane’. 
 
In ‘Sexuality’ – ‘I had an uncle who once played for Red Star Belgrade/ He said some things are really left best unspoken/ But I prefer it all to be out in the open’ – He replaced the last line with ‘Now he’s ran off with the postman’. 
 
In ‘Sexuality’ where previously he sang ‘I look like Robert De Niro, I drive a Mitsubishi Zero’; tonight we got ‘I look like Robert De Niro, Scaramooche Scaramooche Can you do the Fandango’.
 
The After Show Bonus:  First Killian met the great man.  ‘I’ve been a fan of yours for 25 years’ said Killian.  ‘Ah, you’re too young to be a fan that long’ said Billy.  As we posed for a photo I asked the noted West Ham fan ‘What do you think of Zola?’  I had to repeat the question ‘cos Billy thought I’d asked him ‘What do you think of Orla?!?!?’  He then whispered to me ‘Curbishley is on his way to Sunderland’.  We’ll see if he’s right but I’d believe anything he said after a stonker of a gig like this one…
 
Ralph Mexico
 
 
A SPACEMAN CAME CONQUERING
 
On Attending Bob Log 111 gig in De Barras, 21/9/08
 
 
Picture the scene in Bob Log Mansions before the looper heads off to work.  ‘Hey honey’ says his wife, ‘don’t forget to wear your crash helmet with the phone receiver attached to the front.  And honey, do you still ask girls to come onstage and dip their boob in your drink?  I’m not sure how I feel about that’.  Bob looks his wife dead in the eye and says ‘Darling, I am Bob Log III.  I was put on the earth to play the blues.  Now where’s my satin jumpsuit?  I got work to do’.  Exit Bob.  Camera cuts to wife working at the sink.  She sighs to the camera ‘I love Bob’.  Fin.
 
Well sister, you ain’t alone – the world loves Bob Log III too.  The world is also frightened, intrigued, mesmerised and shocked by his kerrazzy music and even kerrazzier antics.  He’s a one man White Stripe nation army.  A Blind Lemon Jefferson with 20/20 vision.  Howlin’ Wolf in a crash helmet.  The bastard son of Robert Johnson, Big Mama Thornton and Wile E. Coyote.  Blues are falling like hail and he’s got a hellhound on his tail.  The world’s not worthy.
 
Arriving down the stairs of a heaving De Barras playing his gee-tar and wearing his signature customised crash helmet, he looked like he’d crash-landed from a distant star.  He sat on his drum-seat and kept the beat steady with his drum pedals and bass drum, all the while playing blizzard blues guitar and shouting vague, distorted slogans.  He took the rib-cages of every audience member and rhythmically ran his metal tongue plectrum up and down ‘til the blues beat coursed through our bodies like gunfire strafing the Kalahari desert at dawn.
 
Typical between song banter was ‘Wow, Bob Log is feeling good tonight.  I can’t believe I’m sounding so good.  This next song is about how much I love my guitar.  It’s called ‘I Love My Guitar And it’s Feeling Every Bit as Good as I do Tonight’.  A beat.  Blues guitar.  Wild vocals.  A winner every time.
 
He invited two cailíní to sit on his knee for one tune.  They did so with good grace, great waists and a smilin’ face.  The invite went out went out for someone to dip their boob in his drink.  Killian was gutted when man-boobs were disqualified.  We all rocked on.  The Log-man did a walkaround of the venue while still a-strummin’ and a-hollerin’.  He stumbled over his drink on-stage – well it was dark and steamy under that helmet.  He left the stage drenched in feedback and applause.  His jumpsuit was soaked in glittery sweat.  The Clonakilty Guitar Festival was over for another year.  The takeover of the world by Bob Log III had annexed another area.  Can you imagine what Bob Log IV is gonna’ be like???
 
Ralph Mexico
  
 
ALL A GLOW IN GLASGOW
 
On Attending Robert Forster gig, Glasgow, September 2008
 
 
Ireland is the middle of financial meltdown.  Belts are being tightened nationwide as bankers everywhere get out the special razors before running the special bath.  The only crisis evident on Saturday at 10am in the bar at Cork airport was a shortage of staff to sate the thirst of the rabid hordes.  We might be sinking, but as a nation we’ll sink drunk.  Dan and I joined in the supping of happiness-inducer; safe in the knowledge that we were going to Glasgow – a city where they don’t like alcohol as mu – oh….
 
So, we paid Michael O’Leary £7.60 (ten freakin’ euro!!) for two tiny cans of Carlsberg on the plane.  Had a couple of tins on the train from Prestwick to the city.  We weren’t charged for a ticket on the train.  Oh good, more money for pop.  First port of call was King Tuts – famed forever as the place where Alan McGee saw Oasis and signed them on the spot.  There was live Dixieland Jazz on the premises when we arrived.  Had a beer, a burger and a slash against the Wonderwall that features a quote from Hunter S. Thompson on the silver steel.  Checked into the hotel after a quick visit to a few shops along the way.  Buchanan Street is a nice pedestrian street but it could really have been any city centre in any city UK.  Except for the Official Rangers Merchandise Store, of course…
 
The Gallery for a quick rant about the utter hopelessness of the Tallaght Marvel as news of ‘Pool’s draw with Stoke arrived on the mojo-wire.  Sauciehall Street and into The Cellar purely for it’s ‘Unknown Pleasures’ cover design over the door.  Quality entertainment at an open mike session.  (Mis)treated to ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’, ‘Sunny Afternoon’ and sundry wonders.  Left when some scobe began a song ‘by my good friends Turin Brakes’ that sounded like a barrel being scraped by a Coldplay boxset.  Big queues outside ABC so tripped downstairs into some other musical mecca where The Associates’ “Party Fears Two” added a patriotic fervour to Tennants sipping.  Nice ‘n’ Sleazy for a gape at the cool young thangs and some hot burritos.  Time for the gig.  Taxiiiiii….
 
Oran Mor is a big multi-level venue in the West End.  We missed the Robert’s first song as we tried to locate the venue.  But we saw enough from then on in to be blown away.  Backed by a three piece band, the tallest rake in pop looked sprightly for a man of his years and mixing a back catalogue as outstanding as his with an audience clearly besotted with him, it was a sure-fire winner from the get-go.  Three songs though will remain forever as moments of immense genius – all three were linked to the missing Grant McLennan whose spirit pervaded the gig:
 
“Darlinghurst Nights”.  This amazing latter-day Go-Betweens song about days of youthful dreams and nights with friends sounded breezy, loving, sparkling.  It was easy to picture Forster and McLennan as the youthful dreamers spending breezy, loving, sparkling nights with friends.
 
“Quiet Heart”.  Always my favourite McLennan song (even more than ‘Cattle & Cane’).  There was no intro and no words at the end.  There was no need.  Sang now, this love song Grant wrote 20 years ago becomes a eulogy sung about him by his great friend. 
 
“Demon Days”.  From ‘The Evangelist’, this is the unfinished song Robert found in a notebook of Grant’s after he passed away.  It’s monumental on the album but live it transcended.  Again, no words before or after – just a straight delivery of an utterly gorgeous song.  The audience were gobsmacked.
 
Phew.  Robert doesn’t do cloying, mawkish sentimentality.  There was no cheap mention of Grant until he’s introducing the band at the end – ‘And on bass is the lady that Grant McLennan used to call The Duchess of the Deep End – Adele Pickvance’.  But for those three songs especially it was impossible not to think of the missing Grant and just be thankful for him and The Go-Betweens.  Bless.
 
But, I hear nobody cry, how was the drinking going?  Not bad at all.  Lot of pints at the gig.  Standing beside a Marilyn Monroe lookalike who sang along to most of the songs.  No need to try and talk to her.  It was a perfect Go-Betweens moment having her there as ‘German Farmhouse’, ‘Spring Rain’, ‘Surfing Magazines’, ‘People Say’, ‘Clouds’ rolled by.  And she queued up in front of us to meet Robert afterwards.  Dan spoke to the great man first and got him to sign ‘Danger in the Past’ on one of the pair of posters we’d lifted from the walls of King Tuts earlier.  He then complimented me on the ‘Warm Nights’ t-shirt I was wearing which I’d bought at a Dublin gig in ’96 (and never worn since).  He signed the back of the shirt (as he had done 12 years before).  He then wrote ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll friend’ on my poster and the pair of us skipped away happy as sandboys.
 
Upstairs to the bar in Oran Mor.  Robert and his band were nearby, besieged by the kind of people I used to be.  We snatched a quick word with Glenn the guitarist but drinking gin ‘n’ bitter was taking precedence.  Into Sauciehall Street for more of whatever.  Bloomin’ Freshers Week so we couldn’t get in anywhere ‘cos (a) we had no student cards and (b) we were drunker than Brendan Behan after Patrick Kavanagh’s funeral.  Back to the hotel for a few nightcaps.  We came.  We saw Robert Forster.  We were conquered. 
 
And fairly conkered when the 8.30 taxi called for us the following morning but I’d rather not go there….
 
Ralph Mexico 
 
 
 
TOM WAITS FOR NO MAN
 
On Attending Tom Waits gig, Dublin 30/7/08
 
 
Postcard From a Punter in Block A (with a smudged Kanturk postmark)
 
Hey Tom, You called your tour
‘Glitter & Doom’
Well, there was some Glitter,
Just a little bit of doom,
But also some Beige too.
‘Glitter, Beige & Doom’-
Doesn’t quite have a poetic ring…
 
The ‘Glitter’ was seeing you live
Up there in your crumpled suit and crumby hat
And your versions of ‘Cold, Cold Ground’,
‘Innocent When You Dream’, especially ‘Time’
And about a dozen others were sublime-
An hour and a half of greatness
 
And hey Tom, even the ‘Beige’ was ok I suppose,
It just wasn’t an awesome hour.
6 or 8 songs kinda’ drifted by
And if it wasn’t elusive, enigmatic you on stage
I’d have been compiling grocery lists in my head.
I really expected better.
 
Hey Tom, I know I’m a stickler
But your between song banter
Was the square root of Beige.
I didn’t expect cutting edge comedy,
But Jeez, ‘Frogs growing in my belly’
C’mon! Don’t throw us any kind of lines
And expect us to swallow ‘em
 
Hey Tom, a piss-poor ‘Singapore’ was a portent of ‘Doom’
But your desecration of ‘Tom Traubert’s Blues’ beat Banagher.
It was akin to someone who’d never heard the song
Trying to sing it on Karaoke
I’d like to see footage of it on youtube
To find out if it really was as Godawful as I thought at the time
 
So Tom, I’m delighted I saw you.
I’d beg for a ticket to see the ‘Glitter’ parts again.
I’d borrow a ticket for the ‘Beige’ parts.
And the ‘Doom’?
Yeah, it was so heroically terrible
I’d steal a ticket to see it again.
 
Ralph Mexico
 
 
2008: A MUSICAL ODDITTY
 
On Reviewing the Music Year 2008
 
 
Has there ever been a year like 2008 for live music?  Cohen, Waits, Weller, Young, Bragg, Glastonbury seen for the first time.  Electric Picnic surpassing all expectations yet again.  Boyzone returning to the stage.  Who cares what the songs or albums of the year were – alive, alive-oh was where it was at for the past 12 months.  Here’s my Dozen Top Songs Performed Live 2008 (excluding Glasto and Picnic beanos)…
 
12.    ‘Madame George’ – Eric Bell (Shanleys, Clonakilty).  Van Morrison’s finest sang by the ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist before a reverential crowd.  So good, that last orders was postponed for another hour or so.
 
11.    ‘Personal’ – Stars (Cypress Avenue, Cork).  A slightly disappointing gig overall.  However, this was staggering.
 
10.    ‘Dance Competition Tune’ – Dan Deacon (Whelans, Dublin).  Don’t know the name of the song but crazy Dan got a hilarious dance-off going during it.  He gave rules before the dancing began.  ‘No f***ing cowards’ was the main one.
 
9.  ‘Neon Lights’ – Kraftwerk (IMMA, Dublin).  The whole show was top-notch and following ‘The Model’ with this slow pearl was show-stopping.
 
8.  ‘Girls On Knee Song’ – Bob Log 3rd (De Barras, Clon).  Again, not sure of the title but the Log-man got two willing participants to bounce on his knee as he squalled some blues rock to warp the ether.  Couldn’t get a volunteer for his ‘Put Your Boob In My Drink Song’ though…
 
7.  ‘Seven Seas’ – Hammell On Trial (Cypress Avenue, Cork).  One battered guitar.  One potty mouth.  One snarling attitude.  No hair.  Hammell converted many new believers that marvellous night.
 
6.  ‘Greetings To The New Brunette’ – Billy Bragg (Cypress Avenue, Cork).  Why is it ‘A New England’ that he’ll be remembered for?  Would Lily Allen ever just cover this and change the world order?
 
5.        ‘Eton Rifles’ – Paul Weller (Marquee, Cork).  The only Jam song he played.  He’s created many a solo classic but still, this is The Jam.  Respect.
 
4.  ‘Hey, Hey, My, My’ – Neil Young (Marquee, Cork).  Some songs had 14 minute guitar solos.  ‘The Needle & The Damage Done’ lasted 2 minutes.  All of the songs had a fella’ on stage painting up a picture for the next song along.  The Mona Lisa wouldn’t have done this justice.
 
3.  ‘Time’ – Tom Waits (The Rat Cellar, Dublin).  Has there ever been a sadder song?  ‘She said she’d stick around ‘til the bandages came off’, indeed.  Tom finished with this.  Has there ever been a better finish?
 
 2.  ‘Demon Days’ – Robert Forster (Oran Mor, Glasgow).  The ghost of Grant McLennan was everywhere.  Just three minutes long, yet Enormous.
   
  1. ‘Suzanne’ – Leonard Cohen (IMMA, Dublin).  Imagine if the X-Factor abomination had happened 12 months ago and ‘Hallelujah’ sold 5 million in 2007?  Laughing Len would have been quids in and might not have bothered touring.  That would have been a crime of Mugabe proportions.  The man is a legend and ‘Suzanne’ is his masterpiece.  We’re not worthy etc.
Ralph Mexico
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