Category: music


Same man - different mask. Bob Dylan - then and now.

Same man – different mask. Bob Dylan – then and now.

Why does Bob Dylan still play live and why do people still pay good money to see him?

The second question is easier to answer than the first. It is something of a cliché to refer to an artist as a living legend but Dylan surely merits this label. It’s therefore only natural that many will flock to pay homage (and cash!) to a man whose vast body of work is second to none.

When he exploded onto the folk music scene in the 1960s, an adoring public would sit in rapt silence to hear the words of this poet come visionary. On his Song For Bob Dylan, David Bowie got it about right when he sang: “you sat behind a million pair of eyes and told them how they saw”.

Robert Zimmerman’s ‘protest’ songs articulated the mood of a nation and helped fuel movements opposed to the Vietnam War, institutionalised racism and the dearth of moral /political values that causes like these symbolized. Yet, Dylan has always diligently avoided aligning himself to political or religious movements, stubbornly following his own path. “Don’t follow leaders” he advised in Subterranean Homesick Blues and he has never set himself up as a spokesman for any generation. Think for yourself has always been his message. Continue reading

PLAID / M+A / CLARK – Villa Torlonia, San Mauro Pascoli, Italy

acieloaperto_12-giugnoIn the first of an excellent series of ‘a cielo aperto’ (open-air) summer concerts in Romagna organised by RetroPopClub, an impressive line up of three IDM electronica-orientated acts were each given an hour each to strut their stuff.

London duo Plaid (Andy Turner and Ed Handley) opened proceedings with a solid but visually dull set. Two guys standing behind laptops is not the most thrilling spectacle at the best of times and the music was not dynamic enough to compensate for this. A few visuals were projected on the walls of the building behind but did nothing to hold the attention.

Local heroes, M+A from just up the road in Forlì put on a much more crowd-friendly show to warm up the atmosphere admirably. On record they are the duo M (Michael Ducci – vocals) and A (Alessandro Degli Angelo on keyboards). For the live show Marco Frattini adds some meaty percussion as a welcome alternative to soulless drum machines. Continue reading

YOUTH directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Italy, 2015)

1youth3“Youth is wasted on the young”, quipped Oscar Wilde, or was is George Bernard Shaw?

Whoever made this observation, knew something of the poignancy and sadness of growing old.

All Paolo Sorrentino’s films to date have featured elderly characters struggling to come to terms with the realisation that the best years of their lives are almost certainly behind them. Youth , despite its title, is no exception.Paradoxically, it is more about facing up to the inevitability of dying than the carefree pleasures of our ‘salad days’.

At its heart is the friendship between a retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) a film director who believes that he still has at least one great film in him. Continue reading

GIRL IN A BAND – A MEMOIR by Kim Gordon (Day Street Books, 2015)

The somewhat reductive title is surely intended to be ironic since Kim Gordon’s autobiography is most certainly far than that of just another  ‘girl in a band’.

This is evidenced by the fact that the postscript defines her as an “artist, musician, producer, fashion designer, writer and actress”. Not only that but she is even a little dismissive of her musical prowess : “I’ve never thought of myself as a singer with a good voice or even as a musician”, she reveals.

Most of the time her desire to be a name in contemporary art world seems more important than being a rock star.

Despite this, Gordon is best known as founder member of post No Wave , pre-Grunge and super cool experimental rockers, Sonic Youth. This is a band who, she writes,“could only have come out of New York’s bohemian downtown art scene and the people in it”.

But anyone seeking a straight bio of the band will be disappointed by her non linear recollections. What dominates the plot is her relationship and marriage to Thurston Moore, the rise and fall of which parallels that of the band they founded together. The first chapter is entitled ‘The End’ and refers both to Sonic Youth’s final concert and the messy marital breakdown. Continue reading


GOAT Live at Bronson Club, Ravenna, Italy 8th May 2015

goat bronsonMasks can have a transformative power. They can help mere mortals turn into superheroes, they can embolden the sexuality inhibited to initiate erotic games or they can help transform a modest Swedish psychedelic band into a charismatic stage act.

In concert all the members of Goat wear non-matching masks or burkas.

The focus of the live performance is on the two vocalists impressively decked out in full witch doctor regalia. Their voices are screechy, high-pitched female chants – although one of the two was (if I’m not mistaken) a man. The all-singing, all-dancing duo jump, strut and strike shamanic poses while the five-piece band stand stoically behind them grinding out a relentless set of rhythms. Continue reading


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