As we enter another new year, it is once again time for me to recount some of the highlights of my 2013.
- Meeting Arthur BrownIn early December, I tendered my perk from his Zim Zam Zim album PledgeMusic campaign, by seeing him in concert and meeting him after. It is important to note that this was not your usual M&G, heck, most people nowadays couldn’t appreciate Arthur Brown enough anyway, irrespective of when they discovered him. 😉 This was more like an audience with Arthur Brown, a very cool experience!I first saw Artur and his Crazy World (of) band at the High Voltage festival in London in 2011. Like many others I only knew the “Fire” tune from the suite of the same name, but I did make it a point to go see him play. That day I first experienced the great natural high the man can produce. I had a huge smile on my face, and I was 100% sober!
CWOAB is theater, prog, rock, soul, funk and entertainment of the classic variety in one. Brown also still sings, dances and acts just like in his younger days. Before I knew of his connection to Lemmy (Kilmister of Motörhead), I sensed that Arthur too was one of the originals, old enough to remember before there was rock’n’roll and intact enough to tell us young ones about it.
Like Lemmy, Arthur Brown is very wise but also charming and amusing, and he too would rather tour with a small circle of trustworthy friends than top the charts. One one hand’s side, it’s a massive shame that he’s not getting the attention and respect he deserves (massive influence on the likes of Alice Cooper, for example), but on the other hand’s side him and his band are like a secret shared amongst true lovers of musical art.
Unlike Lemmy, however, Arthur Brown has a beautiful female lead guitarist on his right, a big talent much better looking than ol’ Phil.
- “See youse at the Barras”, 2013 editionAnother recent and very memorable night was this year’s Shed Seven concert at the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow, Scotland. This too seems to be a secret gem of the music world that I would argue any true fan of real music would be a fool to miss.The Barras, as it is known locally, is a venue that has everything. Atmosphere, great sound and a great view of the action, everywhere. And although you’ll be one of under 2000 people in there even on sold out nights, it might as well be just you and some mates you never knew you had. And the gig will start where most other venues will end them, i.e. with energy, sound and noise at 11. At the Barras all of the main act’s set is the encore, it’s that powerful. The bands love it and play at their best, and the crowds know that and too bring their A game, thus creating this unique energy feedback loop that will only be extinguished some hundred odd yards from the venue, when you can’t hear anyone sing into the night anymore after the concert.This atmosphere there I think comes closest to what Liam Gallagher calls being “mad fer it”. So prepare to be intimidated if you don’t already love the band you’re going to see there. 😉
- Mike Portnoy
This was the year I declared myself a Mike Portnoy fan, and not only because I got to meet him twice in 2013.I have liked his work a lot for quite a few years (apart from the A7X pop, that was unnecessary), but it was this year’s flaming bag of poo sold to the masses as chocolate biscuits by his former colleagues that sealed the deal. Portnoy knows why he participates in the projects he starts or joins and will not put his name on something that isn’t of his high standard.I suppose Portnoy has a bit of the older generation mentality in him. Like the generation of Lemmy and Arthur Brown, he won’t sign off on mediocrity and will work overtime if more fans get to enjoy more of his work.
I’ll refer you to my previous Portnoy related posts and remain by saying that I really look forward to Progressive Nation ’14 and more Transatlantic, Flying Colors and Winery Dogs after that. I also can’t see Neal Morse taking a year off, so I’ll probably get to enjoy at least two Portnoy related concerts in Switzerland alone this year too.
Not only did he lead Motörhead to the top with yet another masterpiece in the form of Aftershock, he also, true to his ethos, rescheduled the entire fall tour when he realised he couldn’t deliver. While it’s of course sad that he’s had to slow down, it’s much more important to remember that, as Neil Young sang, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.
- The Stone Roses
Thanks to my fast fingers, the first TSR event of 2013 was the premiere of Made of Stone in Manchester. Not only was it the first premiere I’d been to (and first of two in 2013), but it was also very exciting to be able to be at THE event, not some screening for plebs, but the same one that the band, their friends and the crew attended.After the monumental experience at Heaton Park in 2012 I naturally had to attend their Finsbury Park concerts as well. Like the bearded mega fan said in the film, there’s just something indescribably exciting about the band, and to me it’s an excitement that just does not get old no matter how many times I hear the same songs.
The only Roses thing that’ll top that now is the hotly anticipated third album. As with my other top events of the year, I’d also advise them to do it properly or leave it be. Their successors from the Britpop scene have proven this. It is in that sense a good thing that there’s not been a new Blur or Oasis studio album but instead several smaller side project releases.
- Not Another Happy Ending
Almost a year after visiting the film set in Glasgow, I finally got to see the finished product at the commoner premiere of the film in Edinburgh. I call it the commoner premiere because the true premiere was earlier the same day and only upper class people were allowed at that one it seems.
I enjoyed seeing the actors and crew members again, even if only from afar this time, and the movie remains one I can only recommend, in spite of my bias.
- HMV survives
Although I do prefer independent stores, I am very glad that HMV survived and has started to justify its own existence again. I’ve enjoyed seeing HMVs in all the cities I visited this year making a greater effort and wanting to be relevant again. My biggest thanks go to the Newcastle branch (and probably Universal) for arranging the Megadeth signing session where I not only got to have my copy of Super Collider signed (which I’d purchased at the Indie down the street) but also, by means of a snapshot, won an autographed poster too. This helped considering the terrible acoustics at the venue later that day.
- The Inspiral Carpets
I’ve got to add this as only their internal politics would merit an exclusion from this list.I thoroughly enjoyed seeing them live, and in their hometown of all places. Steven Holt is a surprisingly good singer, much better than he is sometime given credit for, and the band, much like Shed Seven, still play as well as during their heyday period.