Sunday, July 26, 2009

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Amy finishes pillow July 2009

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

La Roux & IO Echo @ Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, 22 July 2009

La Roux shoes by Amber Gregory
Photo of Elly Jackson's shoes by Amber Gregory. She has more fab photos of La Roux at Cafe Du Nord.

IO Echo are just beginning. There is a strange contrast between the engaging singer's gun pointing poses during the songs and her giggles during the breaks. They don't have many songs and include a Beatles tune but the songs they do have were nicely structured.

It was crowded and hot in the Cafe du Nord. I had a younger, slightly shorter companion with me, attending her first concert, so we squeezed in near the front. As we waited we admired keyboardist Mikey’s Mac, which had a La Roux screen saver. Elly Jackson was performing with two keyboardists as her drummer was absent with visa problems. She sung better than I expected, her melancholy voice is clear, though stronger in the lower registers. The crowd liked the more up-tempo songs. She dances occasionally, crouched down at the back of the stage. She wraps an arm about her diaphragm as she sings, as if she needs to squeeze out the words. She is not a natural performer, but she does enjoy herself, at one point she tries to put keyboard player Nikki off her backing vocals on Quicksand. She seems used to playing festivals, at the end she makes a joke that people who don't like electropop will be pleased that it's over, forgetting that we all paid to be there to see her. They only play songs for the album, which keeps things pleasantly short.

I was around for the first wave of synthpop in the 1980's (when I was, like Elly, a major user of Elnett), and I love the way La Roux have used that sound. I am also amused at the way Ben Langmaid has taken the role of being the quiet one in the duo to greater heights than even Chris Lowe by not actually appearing on stage.

Elly was also on the cover of The Guardian that morning...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Toronto Star has the best front page today (10 July 2009)

The Toronto Star has its cake and eats it too by putting this picture on its front page. We see Sarkozy and Obama apparently ogling a passing young woman in a pink dress. But the paper pretends there is nothing happening by not making any comment. This video investigates further.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Yes / Asia @ The Warfield, San Francisco, 2 July 2009

I had a ticket to see Yes in March, but it was canceled. They rescheduled with Asia as support band. This make some sort of sense as Steve Howe plays guitar in both groups. The new show is at the Warfield, which is a downgrade from the Fillmore. Inside they have video screens, is this just for the aged audience or a new feature of the venue?

Asia were a great laugh. They only ever had one good album, so they play most of that. They are a real supergroup made up out of parts of old bands like some Frankenstein's monster. They played a big song from each of their former groups. John Wetton was in my favourite version of King Crimson and he boomed out In the Court of the Crimson King in his distinctive baritone. He looks like one of those football players you see playing on senior teams, you would not want to mess with him. Carl Palmer (Fanfare for the Common Man) looked like he was really happy to be there, and I was happy too until he played a drum solo. Geoff Downes (Video Killed the Radio Star) poses like the 70's star he never was. He has 10 keyboards to choose from but mostly he plays with one hand, using the other arm for balance. Later he played air guitar. Steve Howe seems wasted in this band. He looks thin and frail (he is a vegetarian) but his playing is superb tonight. There are big cheers when it is announced that Roger Dean is attending the concert.

Yes are one of those groups that have had a lot of different lineups. At one point they had so many ex-members that there were two extant bands playing the same material. I saw Yes in 1980 when they had got rid of their distinctive singer and lyricist (Jon Anderson) and gotten the Buggles in instead. Now, when I go and see them again, they have shown their usual disregard for history by again replacing Jon Anderson, this time with a singer from a tribute band. Still I should be happy that I can see them at all as they mostly play evil seated stadiums. And for once I am not anywhere near the oldest person in the audience.

The most surprising thing is how good the new singer is. Plus he is having a good time, dancing to the long instrumental sections. The other new player is the son of a previous member. I don't like this trend but Oliver Wakeman is modest and rather prettier than the rest of the band.

The only person who has been in all of Yes's incarnations is bassist Chris Squire. I have to admit that at one point in my life I owned one of his solo albums. He is great, he has the rumbliest bass sound in rock. As Steve Howe has got more emaciated, Chris has got larger. Still he sounds good, especially after some discussions with the sound guys.

Yes play a lot of the same songs they always do. Apart from 2 songs from Drama (the one with the Buggles) which are greeted with great excitement they don't play any songs written after 1974. But who cares? This is what everyone (including me) came to see. Yes, they are a it of a nostalgia band, but they still rock.