gig: Massive Attack Glasgow Academy 29 Sep 2009

September 30, 2009

2009-09-29 22.30.54Massive Attack don’t really fit any genre very well – perhaps experimental, but have also been classed as club or chill.  I don’t really know or care very much, I do like everything I’ve heard from them so when Pete suggested it I went for it.

I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by live music.  The show, musicianship, atmosphere – always comes together when bands perform live.

Massive Attack put on a fantastic live performance which is all about the music.  The lighting is effective but minimal using banks of LED for light and video effects.  We managed to arrive fairly early and after a quick look around went to the front to have a look at the stack and since there was space ended up staying at the crush barrier – long time since I’ve done that.  But with this type of music it was a good choice, the crowd was very good, there wasn’t much aggro (just one guy who had too much to drink and was dealt with by security). 2009-09-29 22.08.37

Back to the music.  I wasn’t sure if they would perform the tracks live or DJ mixing or some sort of mix.  It turned out almost everything was live with the odd sample mixed and synth sounds. Also, for what I thought was a two-piece group they had a large line up and with five mics lined across the stage it was intriguing to know how they were going to use them.  As it turned out the two main members of Massive Attack (Robert Del Naja (3d) and Grantley  Marshall (Daddy G) were joined by a drummer, guitarist, keyboard player, bass and percussion (first band with two drummers I’ve seen since Adam and the Ants back in the early 80s)… and with three other vocalists.

The best of these vocalists for me turned out to be Horace Andy – I only discovered this after the gig because he was brought on with the line “a man who needs no introduction” well I had no idea who he was.  Turns out he is a somewhat legendary reggae style artist born in 1951 and recording since 1967. In more recent years he has worked with Massive Attack and 1 Giant Leap (which is where I’ve seen him) to bring him to a new audience and he does have a fantastic vocal style and stage presence – a joy to watch.2009-09-29 20.32.59

Also worth mentioning the support act – Martina Topley-Bird.  This was strange, and really didn’t start well.  One girl (Martina) coming on to stage looking like she didn’t want to be there and some big bloke in a massive drum kit.  It took a few songs for her to warm up and relax but when she did there was a really good performance in there. She played various instruments from electronic experimental stuff to an old Wurlitzer organ and did some fantastic self sampling multi layered vocal work.  Certainly an amazingly talented person with an awesome voice – she also joining Massive Attack several times during the night.  I’m still not sure if I like the music as it is the sort of thing that needs to grow on you but that’s where spotify comes into its own!

Massive Attack – worth catching live!


continued West Wing adventures

September 28, 2009

As I mentioned before, for a number of years I have ignored many friends who have said how good The West Wing was.  Not because I haven’t believed them I simply didn’t care too much about getting into another show that without starting at the beginning and who really cares about american politics anyway…

However, now only eight weeks after buying the boxed set on somewhat of a whim I am with some trepidation about to start the seventh and final season. I have tried to take my time – and failed.  I have watched 3 or 4 episodes in a row (one evening 9 episodes – my excuse being I stumbled into the ongoing story about Zoe that bridged two seasons and you just can’t walk away from that plot).  Now I start this season knowing that it will be the last, no more West Wing.

Should I pace myself – one episode a week was enough for most people as it was aired – or just splurge through the entire season in one sitting?

I’ve already tried to put of the inevitable by going back to watch bits of season 3 but it doesn’t really make sense to review without completing.

So here goes The West Wing Season 7….

BTW 12:30 on a Sunday evening doesn’t seem a good time to start but I’m not tired so stuff common sense.


culture clash

September 19, 2009

I was helping out the guys at GBR this weekend with a video job in an Episcopal church in Bearsden.  It was the installation of a new priest, or rector or something so lots of clergy in flowing robes, liturgy, organ, choir etc.  All very nice though a bit sad because of the ratio of grey heads to young people…  when people talk about a dying church this is the evidence and I can understand why.  Tradition is nice and I’m glad these churches exist and people are dedicated to them, but I couldn’t worship that way on a regular basis.

20090919-episcopalAfter the event I packed up the gear and headed over to Kelvin Hall where I knew there was another GBR event – this time providing sound, lights, etc for some kind of Scottish semi-pro wrestling event.  So lots of big blokes in spandex prancing around practicing their ‘feights’ also some female wrestlers in less spandex doing the same and ring-girls is short skirts and tall boots posing around.

20090919-wrestling

I can’t remember being so struck by the crazy culture clash.  Ceremony and clerical vestments dating from 500 years ago, all very polite and ‘Vicar of Dibley-esk’ church life, then muscle bound ‘freeks’ in fake tan and spandex and girls posing around in garish makeup.

I didn’t hang around for the wrestling itself, the ‘pre-match’ atmosphere is more than enough for me, but it made me think of the incredible cultural divides that exist in our community as I came out of this hall of craziness to a calm coffee shop.  I suppose there is no way of avoiding ‘each to their own’.

Sorry for the quality of the photos (shaky phone cam) and no way was I taking photos closer to the crazy wrestlers.


it’s been a bit mental

September 18, 2009

… it’s that time of year that things at work ramp up for the start of term (always seems to come as a surprise to people that students come back and teaching starts again).  Same sort of thing happens at Church, new term new season of Deeper meetings.

On top of those regular things the building work on the church hall has started, and even though this has been talked about and planned and saved for for many years the last week or so between the contracts being signed and work starting happened very quickly.

So a new style of morning service known as ‘together‘ has started in the morning and the first 8 weeks of it uses a lot of tech so I’ve been trying to support that – the system we use for words projection needs upgrading, the PC was playing up when showing video and we are starting to use a live texting system to get responses and feedback from the congregation during a service.  I’m not trying to imply that this is all down to be, there is a team of Easy Worship (the software we use) operators, it is just that this is a little out of the ordinary so I’m making sure things are working for the first few weeks.  Also helped put together a theme video for the service.

This weekend is the first Deeper Renovation and (I think) I’ve finally managed to put together the opening video for it.  Have to say it is a blank page regarding what else I’ve to do during the event but as most of the visuals are improvised on the night that will be fine.

The other things that have kept me busy has been the growing obsession with The West Wing (now well into Season Five) and The Wire which finished a couple of weeks ago and was fantastic.  Oh and I’m trying to learn to play Bass guitar which is fun.

So, that’s a quick catch up.


Movie: Inglourious Basterds

September 5, 2009

It’s a Tarantino film, so what do you expect?  Well I expect (or dread) extreme graphic violence and I don’t like that part of it.  Not particularly the violence itself but the overly graphic depicting of the violence in my opinion isn’t that necessary.  On the other hand I also expect, a good story, some thought provoking ideas, excellent movie making techniques and something out of the ordinary.  This is what I expect from Tarantino and it makes the violence tolerable.

ib-posterInglourious Basterds ticks all those boxes.  A story of  Jewish-American soldiers “The Basterds” are behind enemy lines in German occupied France to spread fear by scalping (shown in too much detail) and brutally killing Nazis.  Meanwhile Goebbels (Reichsminister of Propaganda) is persuaded to hold the premier of his latest propaganda movie in a cinema ran by a woman who happens to be Jewish, although obviously they don’t know that.   Mike Myers pops up in a very strange scene where he is obviously playing Mike Myres with a silly accent and the story rolls on…

It has been criticized for being overly long.  It didn’t feel to long in total, but some scenes did seem to take too long while other areas of the story could have been expanded.  I would have liked to see more of “The Bastards” in action rather than the aftermath and torture scene we did get.  Also, the scene in the basement bar just seemed to go on for ever although it was fantastically well constructed with Citizen Kane style extreme low and high angles to build tension. The other thing to remember in this movie is that it isn’t supposed to be historically accurate – this takes place in Tarantiono’s universe which may look like the one we all know but it just isn’t.

There are another couple of typical Tarantino trademarks thrown into the mix which I’ll mention. The first was to suddenly, well into the movie have a narrator explain a bit of background on a character.  This could easily have been done in a number of other ways, most simply of course to have it narrated by one of the other characters and therefore keep the flow of the story.  Not only was this narrators voice not one we had heard before but it was Samuel L. Jackson who has a very distinctive and recognisable voice and doesn’t otherwise appear in this movie.  The result is that you are jarred out of being involved in the plot to suddenly think ‘oh yes I’m watching a film’.  However, the second strange technique was that in crowd scenes on a couple of occasions the names of leading Nazis appeared written on the screen with arrows pointing out who it was.  I was surprised that this was very easy as a viewer to accept, it meant that we knew these important historical figures were there but it didn’t have to be shoehorned into the plot to introduce each one.  Still, I’m sure some people didn’t mind Samuel L Jackson popping up a couple of times but were distracted by the text on the screen – so I suppose it all balances out.

The film reminded me of some of the classic war movies like The Dirty Dozen, which build the tension towards a climax that you really aren’t sure will work out or not.  Those films also managed to weave in the occasional bit of humour, Inglourious Basterds does this very well the accents, circumstances, some props and of course Mike Myres for no obvious reason all made for several laughs during this movie.

I liked it.