Damon Albarn, R6 Music Festival 28/2/14

On Friday 28 February 2014 my lady and I enjoyed our time at the Radio 6 Music Festival at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse.  With two stages featuring a total of twelve acts between 4.15 pm and nearly eleven o’clock, the highlight was Damon Albarn’s set with his new band the Heavy Seas.  Yes, it’s a cliché, but as headline act for the first day of the two day festival, then surely that was only to be expected.  Again, well yes, but boy did he and the band deliver.

Starting with the title track from his new album, Everyday Robots, there really was no stopping our Damon.  I was a big fan of Blur (yes, and Oasis too), but I’m not so familiar with an awful lot of his work since (Gorillaz included).  I could therefore, have been a little disappointed that there wasn’t a great deal of Blur material.  However, I’m forty-four, not as self-indulgent as I used to be and this was a 6 music event, so I knew that this wasn’t going to be a Blur fest.  Furthermore, being stood within five metres of Albarn added to my enjoyment – I think perhaps that this was perhaps the greatest appeal of the whole event.

As for the gig itself, Damon Albarn conducted himself without any of the airs and graces which perhaps could be ascribed to a pop star.  He was up front about the fact that the gig was the first time that he and the Heavy Seas had played together.  It’s a strange paradox perhaps, but the overriding impression that I left the arena with was his humbleness.  These are some new songs, with my new band, I hope you like them… and us.

Set list:

Everyday Robots
Hostiles
Lonely Press Play
Tomorrow Comes Today (Gorillaz song)
The Selfish Giant (Live debut)
You and Me
On Melancholy Hill (Gorillaz song)
Hollow Ponds
Photographs (You Are Taking Now)
Kingdom of Doom (The Good, the Bad & the Queen song)
All Your Life (Blur song) (B-side from the Blur track, Beetlebum)

Encore (slightly delayed after drummer, Pauli The PSM, had put his foot through a drum skin):
Mr. Tembo (Live debut)
El Mañana (Gorillaz song)
Heavy Seas of Love (Live debut)

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Morrissey – Autobiography

I was given Morrissey’s autobiography, cunningly titled Autobiography, as a gift for my 44th birthday recently.

Now he does come across as a cantankerous old sod, but from reading this it would appear that an awful lot of the public’s view of him is garnered from some really quite spiteful reporting in both the mainstream press and the music press. Who’s to say if all, some of it or none of it is deserved.  It’s refreshing to hear it from his point of view.

One thing cannot be taken away from Steven Patrick Morrissey, and that is the fact that he is one of the most important cultural icons of the last thirty years.  Of course some people have got themselves all hot and bothered over the book’s branding, but again, this is mostly down to the large amounts of hubris spouted about him, than any actual intent on his part… I’d say.

 

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Stop dreaming of the quiet life

So here am I, Saturday morning, attempting to get out before it starts bloody raining again.

So, why, you ask, I am sat typing this?  I have no logical or plausible answer to that question.  It’s as likely as not that I’m struck by the need to put something on my blog.  I am, as it were an inconsistent blogger.

My regular visitor(s) will have noticed that there are plenty of Daily Mash articles – all of them very funny – but not nearly enough from me.  No doubt Google Ads will notice soon, and my account with them will be suspended.

Not that that should be too much of a problem, as I’m just not making the bucks from that particular income stream. Or, in actual fact from any income stream whatever!

Anyway, enough of this nonsense.  It’s back to work on Monday after a week off with the teen / almost-teen fruit of my loins.  It’s been a curious sort of week.  They have been with me this week, and I have been cursing the fact that I can’t watch what I want to on the telly and I can’t “go on the computer” when ever I want to. But now they’re back at their mother’s for the week and it’s, like, kinda too quiet here…

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Educators as Education Secretary

Now there’s an idea.  Following on from my post on the relative merits of Messrs Grieve and Gove for their respective positions in government, I though I’d take a look back at those people who have held the position of Education Secretary, just to see when (if?) there was last an actual teacher or lecturer in the post.

Well, it’s perhaps surprising that you don’t have to go back all that far. Although not quite a teacher by profession, Ed Balls (June 2007 – May 2010) had actually done some lecturing, at Harvard nonetheless.  Going back further, Ruth Kelly, SoS for Education between December 2004 and May 2006 also spent time as a university lecturer.

Now, laudable as those stints as lecturers are, it’s relatively easy to teach or to lecture a class where most, if not all, of the members actually want to be there…

So, we go back to Estelle Morris (June 2001 to October 2002) to find somebody who actually taught at the chalk face in a more challenging environment.  Ms Morris you see was a PE and Humanities teacher for eighteen years between 1974 and 1992.  In an inner city secondary… take that!

Going back just a smidge further, we find Gillian Shephard, former school teacher, who was SoS for Education between July 1994 and May 1997.  She also worked as a school inspector before making her move into politics.

So, one might say then that teachers as SoS for Education are not all that uncommon and I should keep my gob shut and let the Prime Minister of the day decide how best he should populate his cabinet.  However, I must return to the theme of my earlier post, they would never even think of putting a non-lawyer in the post of Attorney General so why a non-teacher in Education?

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Just who are these people?

If you have had your head in a bucket of sand for the past few weeks, months or years it is likely that you will not know who Mr Michael Gove MP is.  For those of you who haven’t, then you will know that he is our esteemed Minister for Education.

Now I give you another name to conjure with.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Dominic Grieve MP.  Mr Grieve, is another member of the UK’s Coalition Government, and more to the point he is the Attorney General.  So far so obtuse I hear you tut tutting.  But please bear with me…

Both of these government ministers are in charge of departments which have the potential to affect millions of our citizens.  Both are of a politcal hue which leans more towards the ultra violet than infra red.  But that’s not relevant to my point here, it’s just another thing that they have in common.

No, my point is this. Dominic Grieve is a lawyer by education, training and no doubt by inclination.  It seems eminently sensible that he be charged with the role of Attorney General.  Horses for courses and all that.  But what of Mr Gove?  Has he ever held the post of teacher or lecturer or anything else connected with education?  Not that I can see; I don’t think that he’s even been responsible for the kids at lunchtime at his local primary school.  He’s a journalist by trade.  Get that, a journalist is the person ultimately responsible for the education of our children; that’s my kids, your kids, everybody’s kids.

In fact scrub that, because he’s not ultimately responsible at all.  At the end of his term he’ll just walk away having imposed his own ideologically skewed vision on the children and young people of this country with, I’ll wager, barely a backwards glance.

If it doesn’t work, personally, I’d blame the teachers…

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Fleece jacket as comfort blanket

Well, the sun is out and I’m… still wearing my Berghaus fleece out to work.

Now it’s not that I still need it to keep me warm, oh no.  It’s far too pleasant for that at the moment.  We have lovely sunshine and temperatures up to 22 or even 23 degrees C.

No, it’s a comfort thing.  I need to wear it because, like Linus in the Charlie Brown and Snoopy stories, I feel undressed without it.  It’s also handy for keeping keys in the pocket, not to mention my wallet and, oxymoron alert, my sunglasses.

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Iron Man 3

Went to see this the other day.  Took the boys and my wife.  Loved it.

Confession: I am a big fan of Robert Downey Jr.  I love him as Sherlock Holmes and this role is just so well (under)played.  I don’t know if you remember but Downey had some serious issues a few years ago with drugs and associated misdemeanours, but he really seems to have gotten himself back on track.

Anyway, to get back to the film.  It’s probably a run of the mill Super Hero Action Adventure, but these films have such a willing suspension of disbelief dimension to them that, for my money, it’s hard to know what not to like!  Of course it’s also got Gwyneth Paltrow in it, so that beauty and glamour stakes can hardly be higher.

I’d say that Guy Pearce as the villain and Ben Kingsley in his cameo as the villain’s puppet make the film for me.  Pearce is understated yet deliciously unhinged, whilst Kingsley is especially good.

If I had one criticism, it would be the whole 3-D experience.  To be brutal, and especially for the price, I can’t really see the appeal.  It doesn’t really add much for me, and that’s even with my new clip on 3-D lenses.

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You won’t believe this… you really won’t believe this.

It’s strange but true, but we have a refugee from a local ‘gangster’ holed up at ours.

You may wonder where ‘ours’ is exactly. Now I’d love to tell you it’s in Chicago or San Francisco or Soho.

However, I’m an honest, but discrete Blogger, so I’ll just tell you it’s in rural England.

Poor chap is absolutely petrified so I’ll add no more than that. But it is kind of thrilling doncha think?

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