Category: music

violenza_donneTo mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I’m sharing this song and video.

It was written for the documentary The Hunting Ground which highlights the shocking number of rapes that take place on US college campuses and the subsequent cover up by the institutions involved.

The song written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga is entitled “Til It Happens to You” and the video graphically addresses this important issue:


MERCURY REV live at The Bronson Club, Ravenna, Italy 14th November 2015

mercury revWhen the music’s over, life loses meaning.

In the immediate aftermath of the bloodshed in Paris, it was a relief that Mercury Rev decided to go ahead with this show in Ravenna, their only date in Italy.

“The music doesn’t stop. Maybe it’s the only thing we have now” says Jonathan Donahue at the beginning of a luminous concert which briefly makes the horrific events at Le Batacian seem like a fleeting nightmare.

It is a timely reminder that music has the power to excite, inspire and unite. When the news is dominated by death it gives us strength and hope. Continue reading


GRASSCUT – Live at Diagonal Loft Club, Forlì, Italy 11th November 2015

In Grasscut’s short nine-song set, the Brighton-based duo play the whole of one of the year’s best releases : Everyone Was A Bird. The odd one out is – Reservoir – from 2012’s Unearth.

In my review of this album for Whisperin’ & Hollerin’, I highlighted the subtlety and intimacy of this record. Perhaps inevitably, these qualities are hard to replicate in a live setting, particularly one where many punters are out for a drink and a chat rather than to listen to music.

Nevertheless, it is great to put a face to the songs and to personally thank Andrew Phillips and Marcus O’Dair for the music after the show. This studious looking pair are joined on stage by drummer Aram Zarikian.

The black and white homemade movies playing on a screen behind them is a nice touch in that it emphasizes how Phillips’ primary subject is the British countryside near his current home or from his childhood. Both in words and images, these are no dewy-eyed odes to nature. We see bleak yet beautiful Autumnal or Wintry landscapes peppered with electrical pylons and the ominous presence of a nuclear power station.

The absence of string instruments is quite a loss and the sampled voices, including the voice of poet Siegfried Sassoon, cannot be heard clearly but they still manage to convey the rugged charm of the melodies and richness of the language.

SPECTRE directed by Sam Mendes (UK, 2015)

This movie is two and a half hours of pure Bond bunkum which starts promisingly but, unlike the superior Skyfall, is content to fall back on style over substance.

Daniel Craig with steely blue eyes and tight muscular body makes a good 007 and is as indestructible and unflappable as ever.

Realism is not the keynote of course but you would expect him to accrue a few designer scars or at least to get a few stains or rips in his clothes.

As it is, you cut him and he does not bleed, beat him and he does not bruise and he always gets the girl. Another unfathomable trick he pulls off is to be able to find an immaculate range of suits or elegant casual wear despite never carrying more than hand luggage.

His maverick mission is to crack Spectre (note the English spelling), a criminal organization which has infiltrated the heart of the British establishment with a cunning plan of using global surveillance via the Internet and wiretapping – sound familiar? Continue reading


Neil Hannon

Neil Hannon

I know this song by The Divine Comedy is not new but, playing it again today made me realise what a gem it is.

Neil Hannon’s crooning portrait of an ageing jet setter reduced to a relatively modest and lonely existence accepting drinks from some “nice young man” is a witty, compassionate and perfectly nuanced piece of writing.

My favourite lines are: “Your son’s in stocks and bonds and lives back in Surrey, Flies down once in a while and leaves in a hurry, Your daughter never finished her finishing school, Married a strange young man of whom you don’t approve”

The orchestral version on the 2006 album – Victory For The Comic Muse – is immaculate but the solo performance in the video below is also pretty damn fine.


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