ArtWot: Is Lady Gaga over, just when I was starting to like her?
11.12.2013
11:02 am

Topics:
Art
Music

Tags:
Lady Gaga
live
ArtRave


 
Being a Lady Gaga fan is akin to being in the closet. Like a deep, dark, terrible secret you cannot truly avoid for fear of going insane, one day you will have to face the music and admit to this forbidden desire, with the danger of losing the love and respect of your (more tasteful) friends.

So says my boyfriend, anyway. 

And I can see what he means. Admit to liking Lady Gaga and prepare yourself for a shower of derision and condescension, most of it from so-called “real,” self-appointed, “sophisticated” music fans.  The kind of people who overstate their own knowledge of pop but use it to patronise anyway, as if the only people who can possibly like Lady Gaga are dumb listeners who don’t know their music history. Puh-leeze. It is possible to know what Gaga is ripping (and riffing) off and still enjoy her work. It is possible to like Gaga not because of lack of knowledge, but because, you know, regardless of where they came from, you like her tunes.

But that’s the thing about Gaga, for me, anyway. I WANT to like her, I really do. And I do like her, to an extent, as far as all her visual and presentation work is concerned. But I have tried to get into her music, and failed. And in the proper context too: drunk, snorting poppers in a gay bar. But, alas… Nothing.

Until I heard “Do What U Want” that is, a relatively slow groove that marries the cold electronics of Glass Candy/Italians Do It Better with the over-heated melodramatics of guest vocalist, R&B don R Kelly. The wisdom of putting Kelly on a track with that name/hook may be very questionable (as are the lyrics of the track itself) but the song and production are pretty undeniable. Musically at least, Gaga seems to be finally transcending her influences.

Yet it seems like the irony of life, which has happened before, that once a major pop act begins to release interesting, decent music that I like, the public goes off them. Which, if the lukewarm response to the ArtPop album leak last week is anything to go by, is already happening. To an extent it is understandable. Gaga’s “weirdo” schtick could be said to be wearing thin, and perhaps she is presenting nothing new to the fans who have been soaking all this up for the last five years. Especially now that practically everyone in pop has to feign some kind of wacky weirdness in the wake of her huge success. But maybe just because of that overload of the faux-strange, right now Gaga actually comes across like she’s, whisper it, the real deal.

And before anyone starts, don’t bother trying to throw names of artists and bands at me in the presumption that, like, if only I’d heard that Nina Hagen b-side from ‘82 I’d see that the only proper course of action to regain credibility is to dismiss Gaga out of hand as just another pop product. Pop she may be, but so fucking what? I mean, seriously, who else is out there doing anything close to these things in popular music right now? Being the first musician to perform in space (yeah, let’s repeat that: IN. SPACE.) Her performance art tutelage under Marina Abramovic. Handing over design duties to Jeff Koons (even if he is over-rated, name another pop act who have given an artist of his stature control of their whole aesthetic, not just a record sleeve.) Her recent red carpet, ugly-teeth look (which seems to me as much a tribute to Jodorowsky as Michael Jackson.) Creating, and piloting, a flying dress called Volantis.

I have yet to see Gaga perform live, and from what I have heard, it is her live show that will make a convert of even the most cynical stone-heart. Looking at this very recent ArtRave show, I can see why that may be. Nevermind the Jeff Koons set design and the bizarro Gareth Pugh inflatable outfit (which already has come in for stick for apparently resembling the KKK) there’s stuff going on here that reminds me—in a good way, not a reductive way—of one of my all time favourite acts, the Pet Shop Boys, a band that managed to combine all the best bits of art and pop with genuine sophistication and class. 

Yes, she is pretentious, yes, she is over-rated, but maybe now that she’s on her fourth album, and actually beginning to deliver some decent music, Lady Gaga will shed some of her more fickle fanbase and begin to appeal to the real weirdos out there. I think it’s beginning to happen already, but we shall see. Would it even be possible to convert some of you dyed-in-the-wool, cynical DM readers to the dark side?

Lady Gaga - ArtRave (Full Show)
 

 
PS I don’t know if this rip is legit or not, but somehow I doubt it. Watch it now before it gets pulled!

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
‘Rock Queen from England’: rare Kate Bush live performance from Stockholm, 1979


 
Happy birthday Kate Bush, who turns 54 today. Did you know that she’s the same age as Madonna, who also turns 54 in a couple of weeks? That’s a wee bit of a surprise to me, as both artists feel like they come from completely different eras. I suppose Kate had a head start though, having had her first worldwide smash hit at the tender age of 19.

To celebrate Kate Bush’s birthday, here is a rare, live recording from Sweden. The film was made in 1979, on December the 21st to be exact, as part of her Tour Of Life (her one and only full live tour.)  While the footage on this upload suffers from some video warping, the sound is pretty decent, and at 22 minutes long, the five songs featured are:

“Moving”
“The Saxophone Song”
“James And The Cold Gun”
“Feel It”
“Kite”
 

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Happy Birthday Prince!
06.07.2012
12:20 pm

Topics:
Heroes
Music

Tags:
Prince
live
TV
Happy Birthday
Grammys


Rare 70s pic of Prince, uploaded by ChrisEagle08
 
The purple funk pixie turns 54 today. Happy birthday, Prince!

You are the reason I have dedicated my life to music, and also the reason for my occassional feelings of inadequecy. I mean, seriously, how can anyone ever compete with that?

Oh well, we do our best.

Here’s some footage of the master at his post-Purple Rain peak in 1985, tearing it up live at the Grammys, with The Revolution still in tow. He truly is the greatest performer rock or pop has ever seen, let’s just hope he doesn’t yank this cracking clip:

Prince & The Revolution “Baby I’m A Star” (live at the Grammys, 1985)
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Roxy Music live in 1972, the full BBC radio broadcast
05.12.2012
06:45 pm

Topics:
Music

Tags:
BBC
Roxy Music
live
1972
radio


 
Here’s a 35 minute recording of Roxy Music playing live at the Paris Theatre, London in 1972, which was broadcast on BBC radio in September of the same year.

Thanks to Vibracobra23 for the upload, and author and musician Stephen Thrower, who adds that:

[this was] previously available only on dreadful, tinny bootleg LPs but is now in pristine sound quality, and with an extra track - a fantastically intense version of The Bob (Medley.)


Tracklist:

1. The Bob (Medley)
2. The Bogus Man Part 2
3. Sea Breezes
4. Virginia Plain
5. Chance Meeting
6. Re-Make/Re-Model
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Bjork announces ‘Biophilia’ live shows in New York


 
Great news for people living in NYC, Bjork is bringing her phenomenal Biophilia live experience to the city next month. The shows will be taking place over two different residencies; one at the New York Hall of Science (six dates in all, between February 3rd and 18th) and one at the Roseland Ballroom (four dates there, between February 22nd and March 2nd).

While the Roseland Ballroom is more intimate, the grapevine tells me the Hall of Science will be better as it will facilitate the whole 360 degree stage show, which should hopefully incorporate giant tesla coils, homemade instruments, a large female choir and the full surround sound PA and plasma screens. I was lucky enough to catch a Biophilia show last year in Manchester, and it ranks as one of the best live shows I have ever seen. I reviewed it for Dangerous Minds, and you can read that here.

There have also been Biophilia shows announced at various European and South American festivals over the summer - for more info on the shows (and links to buy tickets for individual performances), visit the Facebook page for Bjork events.

Here’s an inkling of what you can expect:

Bjork “Joga” (Live at Manchester International Festival 2011)
 

 
Thanks to Lee Baxter.

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Monster movies: great live footage of ‘The Can’, 1970


 
Yes, ‘The Can” is the ‘Can’ we all know and love - Holger, Jaki, Michael, Irmin and, in this early 70s incarnation, the iconic Damo Suzuki. Here is a clip of the band performing the title track of the Roland Klick film ‘Deadlock’ in 1970 on Germany’s Westdeutscher Rundfunk television station.

When I first stumbled upon this clip, I assumed the TV producers had made an amusing mistake by adding an unwanted definitive article to the start of the band’s name. However, after checking the Can wiki page, it turns out that the additional “The” may not have been a mistake after all:

[By 1968] the band used the names “Inner Space” and “The Can” before finally settling on “CAN”. Liebezeit subsequently suggested the backronym “communism, anarchism, nihilism” for the band’s name. [Wow, what an amazing backronym!]

However, by the time this footage was recorded in 1970 the band had already released two records as ‘Can’ - Monster Movies and Soundtracks, which mostly featured Malcolm Mooney on vocals rather than Suzuki. So I think a little chortle can be had without feeling too foolish, but who knows, maybe it was a genuine mistake or maybe the bad flirted with a new name for a new singer? Either way, if it’s ‘The Can’ or just plain old ‘Can’ this is some great early footage of true musical pioneers: 

The Can “Deadlock” live 1970
 

 
After the jump, the awesome ‘Mother Sky’ from the same session…

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Peaches covers ‘Private Dancer’ - and it’s beautiful


 
This clip was recorded live this past August in Moscow, and showcases the Mistress of Filth’s new dj-cum-live-style show. Once you get past the mash-up of Slayer’s ‘Angel of Death’ (and the bizarre but entertaining dancers/fighters) Peaches stops the set to launch into a surprise piano-ballad version of the Mark Knopfler-penned, Tina Turner classic. It’s heartfelt and really quite powerful. Is this a new direction I wonder?
 

 
After the jump, Peaches’ guide to Berlin…

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Ticketmaster to ‘refund’ booking fees for all customers from 1999 to 2011


 
More tales of music industry corruption and sleazy insider wheeler-dealing, with an outcome that is a major poke in the eye to the some very greedy bastards. And it’s more than likely that you, Dangerous Minds reader, could directly benefit.

If being a fan of Pearl Jam taught me anything (it was a looong time ago I swear), it was that TIcketmaster suck. They have monopolised the sales of event tickets in the States and made it very hard for bands and promoters to regulate their own pricing and promote independent gigs. Well, now Ticketmaster has been forced to “refund” all its “handling fees” to all of its customers from 1999 up to this year.

Huffington Post reports: 

As the result of a class-action lawsuit, the ticket-pushing behemoth is going to be handing out $1.50 per ticket (up to 17) to everyone who used the site between October 21, 1999 and October 19, 2011. Those who chose the UPS shipping option will be getting a little bit more back: an additional $5.00 credit per order.

It seems Ticketmaster’s processing fees were deemed deceptive because they did not clearly state that Ticketmaster was profiting from them.

According to Business Insider, Ticketmaster will continue to have these fees, but must clearly label them as profit on their site.

Good news! However, I put the word “refund” in quotation marks here because, as some of the commentators on the HuffPo story have pointed out, Ticketmaster are not giving their customers money back, but money off their future purchases. And to a limit of just 17 transactions, maximum.

So while it looks good on paper, in effect every customer who used Ticketmaster is only due a $26 credit note. Unless you used UPS shipping to receive your tickets, in which case you could be due up to $85 in credit, which is quite tidy. But you still need to return to using Ticketmaster to get any value.

But still. Fuck them. It’s great that their very dodgy dealings have been called out in public for everyone to see. And as I mentioned at the start of this post, I’m pretty confident that a high percentage of our readership here at DM will have booked tickets through Ticketmaster at least once over the last twelve years (and very likely more than once at that). So Ticketmaster owe you - get on ‘em!

Thanks to Teamy.

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
A girl’s best friend is her guitar: L7 on Letterman


 
One of the best bands of the whole “grunge” era, here’s L7 rocking the fuck out of Letterman (and his band) in 1992 with their stone cold classic “Pretend We’re Dead”. For no other reason than it’s very cool and they look like they’re having a blast:
 

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Sonic Youth’s last ever concert (possibly)


 
Is this the end for Sonic Youth? It’s not clear yet whether the divorce of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore (announced last month) will affect the future of the band, but if it’s the case then this may well be their last ever concert. This Brazilian broadcast has popped up a couple of times over the last few days, but any excuse to post about this great, seminal band is worth it. If they do announce a split a more in-depth retrospective will appear on DM, but for now here’s something to remind us of how good they are. Almost 70 minutes of high quality noise-rock action in suitably dramatic weather conditions, it sees the band playing a selection of some of their best material from a 30 year career (from “Death Valley 69” to “Mote” to a rousing “Teenage Riot” finale), and they play it all on top form. Below is part one, parts two and three are after the jump:

Sonic Youth live at SWU Festival, Brazil (part one):
 

 
After the jump, Sonic Youth live at SWU parts 2 &

Thanks to Tara McGinley.

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Jean-Jacques Perrey returns to ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ with Gershon Kingsley, 1966


 
As a follow up to yesterday’s post of Jean-Jacques Perrey demonstrating the Ondioline on I’ve Got a Secret in 1960, here’s another of the great man in action on the same show - and it’s even better.

Perrey returned to the quiz show six years after his original appearance, and his secret was exactly the same. Only this time he was given more of a chance to display the range of the Ondioline by comparing its voices to that of the real life corresponding instruments. The panel also take longer to discover the secret, and Perrey takes some pleasure in making them guess.This footage is great, but the real treat here comes in the last three minutes, when Perrey is joined onstage by his musical partner Gershon Kingsley to perform the song “Spooks in Space” from their classic electronic pop album The In Sound From Way Out! (available on the compilation The Out Sound From Way In!). It’s a spirited, joyous performance of music that still sounds unique today, and is guaranteed to bring a smile to even the hardest of faces.

I was lucky enough to see Jean-Jacques Perrey perform in 2005 at the ripe old age of 76, and he was just as jolly (if slightly unhinged) as he appears on this show, like a slightly manic but beloved uncle who used a stuffed lion toy to help communicate. Way out, perhaps, but Perrey has been responsible for bringing early electronica to a large audience, while simultaneously stripping the music of its austere trappings. This clip is a great example of how he did it - when Perrey & Kingsley perform the fun is infectious:
 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
England shakes (quietly): PJ Harvey live, Manchester Apollo, 9/8/11


 
Two days after winning the Mercury Music Prize for her album Let England Shake (a record-setting second win in 10 years, let’s not forget, the first being for Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea) PJ Harvey and her band arrived in Manchester to play a live show at the legendary and cavernous Apollo, a show I was lucky enough to see.

Lucky in that I got to witness what was an excellent performance and a great reminder of just what a good songwriter Polly Harvey is. The huge Apollo stage was minimally decorated, and yet Harvey and her three backing musicians (John Parrish, Mick Harvey and Jean-Marc Butty) managed to dominate it. Harvey had her own solo set up away from the others on the left hand side of the stage, while the band and their kit were grouped together further back on the right. But this wasn’t a disjointed or egotistical affair; it worked perfectly, and each member got their own turn in the (literal) spotlight.

Stepping in and out of the light seemed to be a theme of the show, with a group of spotlights and a constantly working smoke machine at the back of the dark stage being the only concessions to design (apart from the church-pugh style bench Mick Harvey was sat on). Polly Harvey looked amazing in a black Victorian-gothic dress with matching head gear - an inverted version of what she wore at the Mercury’s - and at the moments when she was freed from playing her zither or guitar she slinked in and out of the heavy smoke and bare light like an undead spirit emerging from her tomb. Those moments stood to remind the audience just how magnetic a performer Harvey is, even when she’s doing hardly anything.

Harvey has seemingly abandoned the notion of guitar, bass and drums and a traditional rock-band set-up, and much like Bjork, focussed on creating a unique and unusual sound world of her own. So Mick Harvey plays a distorted electric piano, Parrish backs him up on guitar and/or a Nord synth, and Butty focuses his drums around floor toms played with maracas, and a military, marching-style snare. The three backing musicians swapped instruments and places regularly, and all got their turn on vocals. Having not had a chance to listen to Let England Shake yet I was very impressed with the songs, which were delicate, moving, and surprisingly very short. The atmosphere of loss and melancholy was at times very powerful, without descending into patronising hectoring that is the failure of most “protest” music. The show’s set list comprised of Let England Shake played through in it’s entirety, and a final section (including encore) of some older favourites including “Down By The Water” and “C’Mon Billy”. Harvey proved that she is a mistress of the “less is more” school of performance and the show was all the more engaging for it.

As I said before I was lucky to get in to the gig - lucky to see such a beautiful and moving show, but also lucky in that I managed to be in the right place at the right time to be offered a free guest list place. Otherwise I wouldn’t have gone - the tickets for the show (including booking fee) were a frankly extortionate £40. As excellent a performer and writer as Harvey is, I just can’t see how the show justifies the cost of that ticket. Maybe this is what the promoters knew they could get away with charging, or maybe it’s just the way the live music industry in general is headed. But there were no support acts and Harvey’s set lasted only one hour and twenty minutes - a few people I spoke to after the show said they didn’t think it was worth the price. And those were fans that enjoyed it too.

Perhaps when PJ Harvey tours Let England Shake outside the UK the tickets will be cheaper. I certainly hope so, because as many people as possible deserve to see this show. Here are a couple of clips from YouTube uploader Pogonka - they are bit shaky but the audio quality isn’t bad:

PJ Harvey “Let England Shake” live Manchester Apollo 9/8/11
 

 
PJ Harvey “The Glorious Land” live Manchester Apollo 9/8/11
 

 
Thanks to Jayne Compton!

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Watch The Melvins live at Hellfest 2011 in full
09.07.2011
03:23 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
rock
live
grunge
The Melvins
heavy
stoner
Hellfest


Poster by Alan Forbes, from Secret Serpent blog.
 
That’s some heaaavy shit. A full length, hour-long video of the original stoner/sludge/grunge/whatever rock icons The Melvins playing at France’s Hellfest earlier this year. Now with added second drummer for extra impact - ooft! I have yet to experience these guys live, but after seeing this I will be ordering tickets for their next tour later this afternoon. Setlist:

Hung Bunny

Roman Bird Dog

The Water Glass

Evil New War God

It’s Shoved

Anaconda

Queen

Second Coming

Ballad of Dwight Fry

Sacrifice

Hooch
Honey Bucket
With Teeth

Sweet Willy Rollbar

Revolve
Night Goat
 

 
Thanks to Lee Mann and uploader EvilManTheOne.

 

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Excellent Sparks live footage from 1974


 
Man I love Sparks! They are simultaneously the geekiest AND coolest band in the history of rock. We need to be showing more love to the brothers Mael and their highly literate, fun, sexy and intelligent music here on DM - they are California boys after all. This bizarrely brilliant short concert film is the perfect excuse to post about them.

Sparks always move with the times, and frequently they were well ahead of it. In 1974 they took baroque opera-pop to the top of the UK charts, a whole year before Queen did the same thing to more acclaim. In 74/75 they pretty much invented New Wave (the proof lies in this film)  and 4-5 years later when it had caught on Sparks had already moved on to inventing that staple of 80s pop, the synth-duo (through their incredible work with Giorgio Moroder). That’s not even taking into account the theory that 1976’s Big Beat album paved the way for power-pop. By the early 80s the brothers had settled down and repositioned themselves as perhaps THE quintessential New Wave band, hooking up with uber-fan Jane Weidlin of the Go-Gos along the way, and delivering the MTV staple “Cool Places”. Sparks were on the ball with their music videos too, recognising that the moving image was going to be key to music in the coming decades, and hiring a certain director called David Lynch to helm the promo for their classic 1983 stomper “I Predict”.

And that brings us back to this concert film. It is of course a brilliant look at the Sparks live set-up of the mid-Seventies post-glam era, but it also gives us some unintentionally funny moments too. It must have been a bit of a nightmare for the record company to position this brainy, sarky, odd-looking band as being another teeny-bop pop product, but boy did they try. See the over-enthusiastic reaction from the crowd to every single move the band make! Hear the roars that sound like they were from a different concert! Feel the prodding from assistant directors for bored audience members to get up and dance! Still, none of this hides the true, what-the-hell weirdness that shines out of Sparks, and particularly Ron Mael. Just check the moment at 1:40 when Ron gives a wry smile to an audience member and we see her shocked reaction.

This film is pretty short and only features four songs (“Something For The Girl With Everything”. Talent Is An Asset”, “B.C.” and “Amateur Hour”) and pop spotters will also be interested to see that Sparks are given an introduction by none other than Keith Moon and Ringo Starr:
 
Sparks Live 1974 Part 1
 

 
Part 2 after the jump…

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Fela Kuti live at Glastonbury Festival 1984
08.31.2011
07:28 am

Topics:
Heroes
Music
Politics

Tags:
live
Fela Kuti
Glastonbury
democracy


 
Shed your midweek blues with this excellent full length film of African funk magus Fela Kuti and band performing live at the Glastonbury Festival in 1984. The 70 minute film also features a candid interview where Fela talks about discovering his African identity in post-colonial, racist England and how this eventually led to his involvement in Nigerian politics. He also talks about how ideas of “democracy” inspired the song “Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense”, an incredible, 40 minute-plus version of which closes the show:
 

 
Thanks to P6!

Written by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
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