Music Archive

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IMELDA MAY AT THE COLSTON HALL

Imelda May live at the Colston Hall in Bristol,17 February 2011.

Bristol’s Colston Hall is a tale of two centuries. Firstly, there is the modern lobby and adjoined café where cubed seats and glass tables cling to the walls like a forgotten game of dice. In a masterstroke of artistic modernity there weren’t enough cubes for the restless latecomers who had no choice but to loiter and form orderly queues just for the hell of it. On the ground floor a jazz singer battled against the wash of sound checks and arithmetic that filtered through the walls of the auditorium – ‘one-two one-two…rubber duck…’  Sympathetic clapping grew more lacklustre as it spiralled up each level. On the top floor, as if dragged by the tide of a Mexican wave, we gently applauded what we hadn’t heard.

In contrast to its modern foyer, the entrance to the Colston Hall arena is like stepping through a time warp. The worn wooden seats had stories to tell and the panelled balconies glistened with thick gloss; layers peeled in places to reveal a more colourful past. The assembling audience was a charismatic array of period pieces and slick-backs. I hadn’t seen so many casualties of leopard print and Brill cream since the local feminist alliance boycotted Teddy Boy Tuesday at the Pontypool Workingman’s Club.

The supporting act was rock’n’roll home-boy  The Real John Lewis, “No toasters, here!”.  Either Gremlins had been let loose on the soundboard or the sound guy needed a good dapping. Regardless,  Johnny Bach didn’t skip a beat; always at ease and engaging the crowd  between pacey numbers, coupled with irreverent bursts of down-to-earth character from ‘across the bridge’. In our beloved Wenglish mother-tongue, Johnny Bach modestly announced that there were, “see-deez for sale in the foya” (sic), before dropping in a John Lewis iPad gag, and then bursting into a playful medley.  As momentum reached full pace the thick sea of slick-backs and throw-backs rocked and applauded. The Real John Lewis acknowledged the hall after the final song -and with a bow, exited stage-right. Live is where the rockabilly heart is!

At around 9pm Imelda May graced the stage. She looked like the femme fatal that film noir had forgot, sporting her trademark blonde curl, an Elvis printed dress and red high-heels. Her powerful voice punched the air as if celebrating liberation; between songs, snappy wit and lush Dublin tones passed sweetly through her cherry red lips. The set featured most of the tracks from the ‘Mayhem’ album, a few songs from ‘Love Tattoo’ and some rockabilly covers. ‘Kentish Town Waltz’ induced gentle sways while ‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom’ and ‘Big Bad Handsome Man’ had us stomping the Colston floorboards for all they were worth.

The ninety minutes of high octane rockabilly blues and sensual soul flew by like a bullet train. For the encore Imelda effortlessly belted out an Elvis Presley number followed by a rockabilly version of Tainted Love which was simply sublime. The biggest ovation of the night came during the band introductions when someone from the back row shouted, ‘what about Imelda May?’  You can add modesty to the growing list of May’s endearments.

To tell the truth, if anybody had asked me what I thought of Imelda May prior to the release of ‘Love Tattoo’ I would have claimed to know little about virulent strains of tree disease. I’m not generally interested 1950’s rockabilly music but May’s contemporary touch has transformed the rockabilly sound into something more modern and accessible – while retaining the roots and echoes of yesteryear’s pressed vinyl.

Over the years Imelda May has stuck firmly to her guns in terms of musical direction by refusing to bow to the expectations of record labels eager to groom, mould and market her into a different product; I respect her for doing so. The fact that this endearing Dubliner was not featured among any of the Simon Cowell’s cash-converters at the recent Brit Awards is the most telling evidence yet that the British music industry is robbing us all blind.

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RAMMSTEIN ROCKEN! RAMMSTEIN BRENNT! – SONISPHERE 2010

Fire, flames and foam ejaculation! Rammstein rocked! Rammstein burned!

Rammstein sure know how to make a grand entrance! A German flag covering the entire stage drops to ground revealing the band, fronted by the surly looking Till Linderman – resembling a more carnivorous and satanic looking Frank-N-Furter; wearing a red leather apron, a hair net, and a red feather scarf. The inside of his mouth is glowing with a bright white light. He looks unnerving as he opens his mouth wide.  The intense ‘Rammleid’ pummels the crowd into frenzy during which the demonic Linderman chants ‘Rammstein!’  The combination of his resonant growls and the overpowering thrashes of guitar during ‘B******’ left me stunned – as if an invasion force had cornered me inside a phone box and violated me with a hand grenade. Not being able to understand the lyrics made the songs seem even more sinister.

Even without the hair net and other apparel Till Linderman looks like a hit-man employed by Hell to take out Death for being soft. The unsettling gaze in his eyes is that of a man who is clearly at home with being unhinged; the Dark Knights’ darkest nightmare. Linderman’s intimidating bass voice sends shock-waves across the field whilst he beats his fist (the ‘Till-Hammer’) furiously onto his thigh.  In Rammstein tradition fire and flames engulfed the stage.  During ‘Feuer Frei!’ Till and his ‘axe-men of the apocalypse’ breathe flames from their mouths.  For ‘Benzine’ Linderman sets a ‘stage invader’ on fire with a flamethrower – he looks to be enjoying it too much.   More pyros and flames whip the crowd into euphoria as Rammstein powers through favourites such as ‘Links234’, ‘Sonne’ and ‘Pussy’ – where Till straddles a giant penis that ejaculates foam into the audience.

During ‘Liebe ist für alle da’ Linderman drops Flake into a steel tub, filling it with molten ash poured from an elevated platform.  Flake is resurrected wearing an all-in-one LED suit.  He plays the keyboards for the rest of the show while rhythmically marching on a treadmill.  A definite highlight of the show was during ‘Fish’ where Flake sails the crowd in an inflatable dinghy. Along the way he collects a military hat and a Union Jack.  A stowaway from the crowd jumps on board before being ejected.  During Flake’s sailing Till Linderman stands at the back of the stage with one and behind his back; stern and statuesque as if overseeing a particularly bloody invasion.

The performance was too much to take in at times with the imposing Linderman and his dark minions conjuring up a furious wall of sound while Hell, fire and flames danced around them. In an ironic twist, the Rammstein machine drove 50,000 dumbfounded Brits to chant along in their mother tongue during a weekend that was supposed to celebrate Brit legends Iron Maiden’s homecoming. This was an earth-shattering display of German engineering; surreal, unsettling, and sensational. The only time Linderman addressed the crowd was to say ‘thank you’ at the end. With his assertive tones it sounded like a threat to burn all of our eyeballs out with a soldering iron.   Rammstein rocked! Rammstein burned!  I’m still feeling the aftershock.

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SONISPHERE: A FUCKING ROCK FESTIVAL!

Sonisphere rocked Knebworth with an astounding array of acts taking place over three days.

Already an established travelling circus in Europe, Sonisphere has elevated itself to one of the premiere summer rock festivals in the UK, threatening to surpass better established venues like Download in sheer vision and scale. Not bad for a festival still in its infancy.

The Sonisphere arena consisted of two stages positioned either side of a field barricaded by food stalls that pretended to serve what was written on the tin. Among the varied clothing and camping stalls was a shisha smoking den, a tea room, a coffee and cake shop (no, not ‘that’ type of coffee and cake shop) and an oxygen bar. If nothing on the main stages sounded appealing – even after a good puff and a draw of air – there were other acts to be found hiding in the many sponsored tents that were scattered around including comedians and performance artist – I’m sure I saw flaming horses at some point.

From asexual fashion victims Placebo to Prodigy pretenders Pendulum there was something to suit every taste, and then some.   Europe fanboys basked in washed-up nostalgia, while Turisas and Apocalyptica brought a cultural flavour to the weekend.  The music came thick and fast at either end, sometimes feeling like a relay race.

Such was the astounding volume of acts and performers that it was simply impossible to have crammed them all in.  Among my notable highlights were Terrovision who reminded me of why I liked them so much in the 90’s – and had me asking myself why I had forgot them in the noughties – and 60daysofstatc, who sounded as if they were from another place and time.

I suspect Gary Newman and Alice Cooper of being the same person; dentures with differing hair pieces. Both were on good form for their collective ages. Irish metal-heads Therapy? persevered in front of a supportive crowd, enduring two power-cuts during the opening song ‘Knives’. It is an injustice that Therapy? weren’t given one of the main stages because they could have filled the Bohemia tent over ten times its capacity.

Rammstein sounded like a savage invasion, enticing fifty thousand Brits to chanting in their mother-tongue.  It was a spectacle that nearly overshadowed the mighty Iron Maiden on their homecoming. Nearly! Old skool guitar licks came thick and fast as the legendary Maiden demonstrated what a good rock show is, was, and always will be as long as they carry the baton.

It was strange to be heading home and seeing ‘normal’ people dressed in colours buzzing about the service stations.  Part of me didn’t want to re-adjust to what normality was after the euphoria of Sonisphere.   But there’s always next year.  I would definately encourage friends, rockers, and metal-heads to carve Sonisphere in their calendars for next year. I’ll definitely be seeing you there!

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TENNANT & LOWE TO A CARDIFF BEAT

The torch-bearers of sophisticated pop-art showed no signs of being boring in Cardiff.

Planted in the centre row of a sell-out Cardiff International Arena, I surveyed the room expecting the stands to be awash with mardi gras rainbow colours, and jubilant screaming queens with pointed hats. Instead, I found myself amid a diverse collective ranging from 80’s Hawaiian shirted throwbacks -- recapturing their novateur vogue days – to fashionable indie-intellectuals – here to appreciate the tongue-in-cheek passé chic.

The show opened with the giddy 80’s hit ‘Heart’. Tennant and Lowe emerged from between two walls wearing head-cubes that looked ridiculous enough to be cool. Two backing singers, also with cubes for heads, played on a fake keyboard -- an affirmation of the duo’s reluctance to feature ‘real’ musicians on stage. ‘Heart’ playfully bridged into another frothy love affair ‘Did You See Me Coming?’ after which, Neil addressed the Cardiff crowd, introducing a mish-mash of ‘Can You Forgive Her?’ and ‘Pandemonium’.

As one would expect from Tennant and Lowe, there is always room for a political reference. ‘Building A Wall’ sees a toing and froing between Chris and Neil, ‘Protection! Prevention! Detection! Detention! There’s nowhere to defect to anymore!’ The songs climax harked back to Pink Floyd’s ‘Wall’ concert with the demolition of a wall. Rather fittingly, ‘Go West’ maintained the politische fragen -- this time with a Soviet twist. Video projections featured iconography relating to the fall of Communism. The whimsical arrangement of ‘Go West’ was a noticeable highlight -- consisting of a new ‘Paninaro/Opportunities’ arrangement with Chris on electric drums.

The upbeat momentum continued with an obliging fan-boy jolt: a previously unperformed coupling of ‘Two Divided By Zero’ and ‘Why Don’t We Live Together?’ complete with dancing New York skyscrapers and a snappy Disco tease of ‘Opportunities/In the Night’ -- allowing Chris to take centre stage for a jig that received the most rapturous applause of the night. ‘I was faced with a choice at a difficult age…‘ was the tie-in to ‘New York City Boy’, conjoined with a pleasing rendition of ‘Always On My mind’.

A verse of ‘Closer To Heaven’ juxtaposed into a revised version of ‘Left To My Own Devices’. It lacked the orchestral flourish of the Introspective original but was busy enough not to need it. A laconic piano solo by Chris – and a rare smile – signalled a change in mood. Trademark Pet Shop Boys melancholy ensued with a rare treat called ‘Do I Have To?’, a bitter-sweet ballad about being involved in a love triangle.  Neil, now in a tuxedo, is accompanied by two ladies in red ball gowns dancing the Tango – head-cubes still in place.

‘King’s Cross’ reflected the feelings of despair in a world where no one listens, or cares; the end of the line where hopes and dreams are crushed – pertaining as much to today’s Con-Dem Nation as we as the icy thumb of Thatcherism. ‘The Way It Used To Be’ aroused the mournful despair felt when enduring adulterated love; a male dancer’s stirring routine effortlessly foretold the emotional turmoil. Brooding reflections continued with ‘Jealousy’, featuring a passionate pas de deux of a disintegrating relationship that climaxes into a violent dissolve. Tennant’s asexual twain resounded the worldliness of someone who understands what it feels like to languish in reflective solitude.

The tempo shifted up a gear as the dramatic drumbeats of ‘Suburbia’ lifted the crowd. ‘Suburbia’ was the song that hooked me to the Pet Shop Boys’. It tells of the rotting and decaying suburban world hidden behind plush picket fences and its chorus remains as infectious and timeless as ever. For ‘What Have I Done To Deserve This?’ Neil performed a duet with a posthumous Dusty Springfield; appearing as a backdrop on the great wall, “Tonight we remember Dusty Springfield,” he exclaims. ‘All Over The World’ is turning out to be a crowd anthem, but why the boys felt the need to squeeze in a cover of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’ among a gay disco-come-euro-pop mélange featuring ‘Sea Vida E’, ‘Discoteca’, and ‘Domino Dancing’ I’ll never know. Regardless, they stamped it as their own.

Neil Tennant’s mournful reflections layered over Chris Lowe’s power-pop beats don’t come any better than ‘It’s A Sin’. Its double meaning addresses inner conflict and guilt; be it religion, sexuality, or a troubled past. It would have been an unforgivable sin to not have performed ‘Being Boring’ during the encore. They didn’t disappoint. As the swirling chords ascended I was taken back to teenage parties, ‘in rented rooms and foreign places’ with dreams of leaving loved ones behind to go in search of fame and fortune.

The last song was the Disco version of ‘West End Girls’ remembering London amid the neon colours of Leicester Square, Soho, and the West End -- voyeuristic worlds where, ‘No one knows your name’. It was a fitting end to a celebration of the duos lasting legacy. Neil Tennant’s voice – as good as ever -- contained no notions of masculinity or femininity, but somehow managed to express euphoria and wry nihilist romanticism that was more impassioned than the most powerful of vocalists.  To me, the Pet Shop Boys are the forefathers of simplicity, elation, and melancholic despair; tackling personal issues such as alienation and escapist fantasy, self-acceptance and broken relationships, unrequited love and secret affairs. Matters of the heart  are intertwined with affairs of the mind; employing art, culture, history, literature and politics to a disco beat.

There was a youthful exuberance that came across in Tennant and Lowe tonight; these cool uncles certainly haven’t chosen to slow down or to rest on their laurels -- nor have they resorted to churning out lazy renditions of tired classics in order to please the unappeasable pop culture. The emphasis of this tour is geared more towards euphoria than cultural avant-garde. Having exhausted them on the last set of tours, the boys have omitted all songs from their previous two albums – Release and Fundamental – along with expected chart hits which cleared room for some older novelties.

For all their theatrical indulgences there is never a trace of ego, pomp, or pretence to be found in Tennant & Lowe -- in the music industry, that is an irony in its self. The Pet Shop Boys are a band with nothing left to prove. Tonight, if front of an appeased Cardiff crowd, these torch-bearers of sophisticated pop-art made a point of proving why they’ve both made such a little go a very long way.

‘Pandemonium (Live at the O2 Arena)‘ is available on Spotify

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MUSE: THE RESISTANCE

There are claims that the Punk movement killed off Progressive Rock in the early 80’s, and that Country Life Butter […]
There are claims that the Punk movement killed off Progressive Rock in the early 80’s, and that Country Life Butter really is the best. I’m more of an Anchor man myself, but I do believe that Punk forced a much needed re-invention of the Progressive Rock genre. There is clear evidence that the layered textures and rampant creativity of progressive rock continues to shine on in its  coat of many chord changes; encumbered in a more indie driven sound.

Waving the flag for Progressive Rock in 2009 is Muse with ‘The Resistance’. Muse have always shown the middle finger to the music industry by releasing what the hell they want, and this album shows no restraint in terms of their lust for experimentation. ‘The Resistance’ is rich in harmony with melodies far more rewarding than anything the vapid X-Factor mainstream is serving up. This is music for listeners.

It’s difficult to rate this album against what Muse have released in the past because it is clearly intended to follow in a different direction from the outset; adopting a more piano driven electro-pop sound with a notable absence of the typical axe-grinding. With its musical diversity and varying pace, it takes a few listens for ‘The Resistance’ to sink in – but doesn’t any music with substance require the same? The conceptual soundscapes of the music will no doubt come across as pompous, bizarre and self indulgent.  Good on Muse, I say!

Modern music has a habit of reproducing its closest rivals. In a masterstroke, Muse have borrowed from a diverse list of artists while managing to maintain their firm, melodic and textured stamp in the process. There is not a track on this album that I would want to skip through, and that is extremely rare for me. Also worth mentioning is the absence of dynamic compression that has been sonically chocking music. ‘The Resistance’ pops when it pleases, rocks when it requires, and moves when it means to.

Another welcoming aspect of this album is that each track sounds very different from the last. I will not attempt to breakdown each individual track but I will mention the final trilogy called ‘Exogenesis‘; a science fiction soundtrack in waiting, complete with classical strings and piano pieces that will have 19th century composers conducting soulfully in their graves. With references to George Orwell and its political, romantic, and rebellious overtones, the lyrical content of ‘The Resistance’ further demonstrates the creative complexity and maturity of this band.

‘The Resistance’ is a refreshing alternative to the same old offerings being dished out by a blood clotting, greasy spoon industry. Contained in this classic recipe is a wisp of Led Zeppelin, some lashings of Queen, a synth-teasing taster of Depeche Mode, and subtle blends of The Stranglers, The Beatles, Goldfrapp, Brian Eno, Ultravox and U2. Add an accompaniment of classical piano overtones, lyrically intertwined with literature, and what one is presented with is a bold, sonic cuisine, executed with great panache. This isn’t any old eggs and bacon; this is a feast fit for a Crimson King.
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BACK IN THERAPY?

Therapy? were my instrument of torture for family and Brit Pop loving friends during my teens; my rebellious musical equivalent […]

Therapy? were my instrument of torture for family and Brit Pop loving friends during my teens; my rebellious musical equivalent of the Sex Pistols. This Irish punk influenced band was responsible for tuning my ears into the energy, power, and aggression of heavy metal. It seems fitting to reminisce about the first time I saw them live because it was my first proper, stripped-down gig. That night in November 30th, 1994, at the Cardiff Astoria is an experience that has always been fondly etched in my mind; a time when the EU police didn’t exist to protect anyone from happily going deaf, and the bars would serve watered-down piss to any old toddler with a fake ID.

I can even recollect what I was wearing: faded black jeans with a  Jack Daniels belt buckle (that I still wear), a ‘Pogo on a Nazi’ Therapy? T-shirt, a red and black lumberjack shirt, a 1960’s police issue great-coat, a pair of worn out ox-blood Doctor Martens and a Jack Daniels bandana – most of which I still wear. I was armed with 30 quid, 20 Marlboro, and the obligatory Zippo. Out of the 30 quid I had managed to hose myself down with eight pints of cider and black, but I can still remember the gig and the state I left in; puking in a flower bed, proposing marriage, and passing out.

Therapy? blasted on to the stage, performing ‘Isolation’ as the opening number, relentlessly stampeding through metal-beaters like ‘Potato Junkie’, ‘Stop It You’re Killing Me’, ‘Accelerator’, and ‘Nowhere’. Fyfe Ewing was still drumming for the band then, and with his free-flowing style the music was never too rigid or structured. I really got off on his drumming; concentrating on him more than Andy and Michael. I had found a strategic vantage point in order to get the best view  – the upstairs bar overlooking the stage. I will never forget being sat in the company of two female friends during ‘Femtex’. I raised my pint to Andy Cairns and nodded to him as he looked in our direction. In acknowledgment he looked me straight in the eye, gave his wicked grin, winked, and nodded back before singing the lines, “Do you want a fuck, do you want a friend…?” Those were the good old days!

It would be 15 years before I would see Therapy? Again – at TJ’s Rock Club in Newport on the 16th October, 2009. To describe TJ’s as ‘a bit of a dive’ would be like saying Donald Trump parts his hair in the middle. With its stone/rock-face and rustic interior it closely resembles Santa’s Grotto in the spring-time, after being gate crashed by rowdy Klingons. The tables rock – not in a good way – the chairs are retired bar-brawl veterans, and the bar taps are simply there as part of the décor. In defiance of the Rock Gods there is no Newcastle Brown Ale, only cheap cans of Fosters and Carling. In one half of the venue the landlord has inconspicuously stashed some stolen pool tables in plain sight. The condemnable toilets could easily meet Olympic springboard diving requirements and the main stage, or balcony, is small enough to make the Spinal Tap ‘Stone  Henge’ look impressive. It was a fitting venue for a heavy metal gig.

Most of the crowd in attendance – married couples who sat on bar stools – were in their late teens during the 90’s; it was a styleless sea of greying, receding veterans with sensible haircuts, facial hair, and jobs – who’d probably left the 4.2 kids with Uncle Dave for the night before slipping out of their familiar Henley’s gear, dusting off an old leather jacket from the attic and squeezing into a long-forgotten rock t-shirt; exiting via the upstairs window and sliding down the drainpipe. This was a mature, dedicated fan base that out-grew the need to look cool and trendy at the turn of the century (or was that just me?). There was also a local, worn out old bike with false breasts who was, “here for a bit of moshing, like, innit”.

I wasn’t expecting anything special from tonight’s event; a few recognisable songs slung in among the newer material for nostalgia. I had become sceptical of Therapy? since those forgotten glory days; all the new stuff seemed pale in comparison to the earlier albums – ‘Babyteeth’, ‘Nurse’, ‘Pleasure Death’ and ‘Troublegum’ – listened to as they were through younger, less expectant ears. For me, the bands decline had coincided with the departure of Fyfe Ewing who always added an extra groove to the Andy Cairns/Mike McKeegan freight train. I was, however, about to be force-fed a molten slice of metal pie, served with a firm reminder of why Therapy? were my metal messiahs during my teens.

Supporting Therapy? were a Welsh band with a singer that hid his lisp well, and some guy from ‘The Almighty’ who had obviously fallen upon hard times because he couldn’t afford a band.  Therapy? took to the stage quite late. A displeased member of the crowd lobbed his pint at Andy, calling him a mother-fucking ‘female’s front bottom’. Unabated they kick-started the proceedings with the classic ‘Opal Mantra’, steamrolling through ‘Turn’ and ‘Isolation’, stopping briefly to announce the next song; dedicated to Spike Milligan entitled ‘I Told You I Was Ill’. I’d forgotten what good craftsmen Andy and Michael were. Each instrument effortlessly complemented the other. Andy can still deliver the vocal goods too, his voice sounding more mature, less strained and gruff. The drummer wasn’t too shabby either. His style seemed more rigid and less showy than his predecessor. This showed through on songs like ‘Isolation’ where (remembering 1994) Fyfe’s free-flowing style brought the song to life. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop me dancing like a deranged idiot.

Two new songs – ‘Blacken The Page’, and ‘Enjoy The Struggle’ – from the ‘Crooked Timber’ album followed. Orbiting around us during the first few numbers was a freaky looking college couple that seemed determined to tongue the last breath out of each other while taking photos at odd angles (I was a virgin, once). During a belting version of ‘Teethgrinder’ some tanked-up idiots broke on to the stage in an attempt to stage-dive (have you ever tried to stage-dive in a wardrobe?). Andy Cairns ended up on his back and his guitar stopped working. The rest of the band carried on un-phased, waiting for Andy to rise to his feet. While waiting for the techies to get his guitar grinding again he serenaded the crowd with a chorus of “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna turn around or desert you…” Then, with his axe back in business, they ploughed on. “If you’re gonna come on to the stage, at least have the decency to feel my balls before you jump off!” adds Mc Keegan.

After ‘Teethgrinder’ and a surprise performance of the accompanying B-side – ‘Summer of Hate – Andy thanked everyone for turning up and supporting the band during difficult times; by the look on his face he was clearly being sincere. This is where I swallowed my metal pie, before certifiably rocking to ‘Innocent-X’. A few post Infernal Love numbers followed, most noticeably ‘Live Like A Fucker, Die Like A Mother-Fucker’; dedicated to Gordon Brown & Co. My deranged dance moves continued into the next two old-school memories ‘Fantasy Bag’ from ‘Pleasure Death’ and ‘Nausea’ from ‘Born in a Crash’. ‘Stories’, ‘Diane’, ‘Die laughing’, ‘Nowhere’, ‘Potato Junkie’, and ‘Screamager’, relentlessly pounded the adoring crowd into submission . Over the next few days I would dig out my old albums and bootlegs and make up for what I had missed all these years.

They don’t make bands like this anymore and I doubt – for me – they ever will. For years I have been going to concerts with blinding light shows and super sound rigs designed to compensate for the fact that the performers are merely matchsticks in the distance. But gigs like Therapy? at TJ’s are as raw and stripped down as they come; up close, and fuckin’ personal. Commercial obscurity has not dampened Therapy?’s passion and enthusiasm. At TJ’s in Newport, these old-school Irish metal-heads reminded everyone of what they do best: they blew the mother-fucking doors off!

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TOGETHER WE BUY

Just a bit of a moan about product placement, really.

Some time ago while performing a rendition of Queen’s I Want to Break Free with a Dyson, I was distracted by an MTV documentary about an ego-driven Irish band (no, not U2) and the making of their new music video. As with most of the mainstream music videos that are ‘manufactured’ these days, product placement is skilfully knitted into every frame.

‘…The Nokia N96 rests seductively in his palm; the winter sunlight gleaming off the slick ,black contours of the smooth, defined finish. He caresses the slide-down keys, invitingly stroking the soft, hugging lapels of his Alexander McQueen coat. This is no ordinary music video… this is a corporate S&M video…’

The Script and their little green marketing gurus have taken one giant marketing leap by using the power of the Internet in a new and radical way: ‘click-and-buy’. Click-and-buy is not a new thing, but the little green marketing gurus have cleverly approached it from a different angle.

The Scripts new music video can be streamed on their website where fans are able to point and click-purchase over two hundred items as they appear in the video. Products range from a lamp, shoes, jeans, hair products, tickets to Ireland – and probably an acre on the moon.

Since the internet ‘began’, artists have been selling band related merchandise like t-shirts, programs, box sets, books and DVD’s, which have always been fair-game ways of raking in some extra cash. But a fucking Mercedes? That’s right: through watching the Script’s music video you can click-purchase a Merc.

Maybe it’s a Script branded Merc with song lyrics engraved in the leather interior; hand-stitched by Dublin virgins (all two of them). Autographed airbags, perhaps; or the mp3 stereo pre-loaded with their one and, hopefully, only album.

When watching music channels these days you don’t have to wait for the commercials to view a commercial. Music videos are being skilfully crafted into fast moving, almost subliminal sales catalogs; playing on the minds of the young and trendy generation with ‘must-have’ needs.

Music videos are supposed to augment and complement the music not entice an online shopping experience. Is the reputable ‘arty’ video director discarding his creative integrity to aid the advancing market forces? Is product killing the video star?

At the relentless pace that technology is advancing it won’t be long before music channel viewers are able to purchase anything at all by simply ‘pressing red’ on their Sky remotes.