All 27 entries tagged Music
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April 25, 2006
- Live in London
Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. Capacity of a couple of thousand. As beautiful from the inside as the outside. Spot the 5 white people in the queue. No strip searching. No bag searching. No limits on photography (just a "no flash please"), just a small one on illegal recordings:
If you're caught making a sound or video recording of the concert, your camera will be confiscated. Hold on. No, you can keep your camera. We will confiscate your tape and use it for our radio shows!
As we enter, the Hill City Mass Choir are singing a couple of well known worship songs with a gospel flavour. Despite a low early attendance – Ali worries as there is no one sitting in front of us, prompting her cause for concern being picked out to give her testimony on stage and talk about "christians" again – the choir give their everything and set the enthusiastic mood for the rest of the night. Turns out this was only their warmup…
Then we're urged to silence even as people are still coming in, as upcoming hot UK gospel artists Four Kornerz are about to perform. As we're all in a good mood and they're dressed with style, we give them a big cheer and enjoy their gig. Imagine Outkast singing about their love for God instead of you and your girl in your caddy, and you get the idea. The balance wasn't quite right yet (as with Outkast, I could hardly understand the lyrics), but the musicians were great, and yes, the dress sense was
The compere of the night was Muyiwa of Premier Christian Radio – if you're interested in gospel or any chilled RnB soul music (that sings about a slightly different kind of love than Usher) then it's a good listen from 11pm onwards. He also performed with his backing singers to keep us entertained, but they lacked the energy of the previous two acts. They had humour though. HCMC came back for a few more songs now with the whole audience joining in – the night was organised by House on the Rock for their 10th anniversary, and both the choir and most of the audience were members. We were more than happy to be part of their celebrations!
It's Israel's first performance in the UK (save the one in Birmingham the night before) and he must have been well surprised to get so much enthousiasm from the audience (congregation?). The opening act was a seemingly endless medley of his "greatest hits", his funkiest songs and just one big happy feast of recognition and praise and dance. Let's just say I was happy I brought a bottle of water!
For Nikki: I recognized Another Level; Who Is Like The Lord; Trading My Sorrows; Again I Say Rejoice; New Season; and highlight All Around.
And then I lost track of what happened. It involved lots of amazing solo performances of both band and singers. Whereas I'd expected a few more people, Israel worked with only one singer per part(!) but all so competent that the four of them sounded like 5 million Rev choirs together. After all the hype and funk and dance and oh yes gospel – cue Lord You Are Good – the reflective moment couldn't have come at a better time.
So yes, suddenly Mr Houghton was left on stage by himself (though not after the synth dude helped him sort out his keyboard) to tell us the story of his life. Cue lots of borderline cheesy humour – but who cares? we're having a great time! Also cue lots of audience cheering for recognizing themselves and a rendition of One Love as his Jamaican heritage is being welcomed by the island descendants in the audience.
Eventually, he got to his point and the second half of the concert. Again, my mind wandered off (in the first half it was just me being delirious with all the excitement, this time it was just taking the chance for contemplation) so I'm gonna guess and say Israel was going through some psalms and spontaneous worship. All by himself. By the time I woke up from my deep thoughts, the rest had rejoined him on stage for the finale.
I should say grand finale. I just checked with Ali and Rich and indeed Friend of God was the song to start the dance towards the end. By this time Israel's guitar was working properly as well, and he got to showcase another talent whilst the crew lead us through song. But the London talent got a shot as well, when during Alpha and Omega the band went mute and the hall was filled by the chanting and worship of 3,000 great singers at the height of their worship feast. Now there must have been 2 or 3 more songs here including an encore (after the audience kept on repeating their ooh-ooh-oohs for one song) but the final showpiece of gospel extravaganza was Not Forgotten – some kind of Arabic melody and breakbeat mixture, aka Ali's favourite song.
It's hard to compare a gospel concert to any other, and even within its own genre, this concert was unique. I've seen LCGC (London Community Gospel Choir) perform twice, and they're always engaging, and quality. But in this case I felt part of the concert. The concert was great because I was there (if that makes sense at all?) and took part.
Okay I'll try and explain. I've had the same feeling after seeing Lauryn Hill live ages ago at Pinkpop Festival; Manu Chao 4 years ago at Lowlands Festival (Me Gustas Tu had just been a big hit in the Netherlands); Basement Jaxx last year at the Carling Academy. These artists, and Israel last weekend, seem to welcome you to their ground, their home, and ask you to join in and party with them. I think Lauryn Hill only sang one of her own songs – the rest was just a big DJ hip hop music battle – yet I wasn't disappointed. Israel cut quite a few of his songs short, but I didn't care because it was my party too.
For the untrained spirits or souls there might have been too much worship and praise in this concert. Actually, it was just one massive praise and worship session! But that's what gospel stands for, so it's what you would expect from such an event. Even so, there was so much musical talent and so much energy from both the stage and the audience that there should have been enough to enjoy as long as you accept being welcome.
February 25, 2006
- American Idol
Sun, 11.25am onwards, ITV1 [Fri, 8.15pm onwards, ITV2]
If you thought Xfactor was good, then watch this. It's tenfold more enjoyable, tenfold more entertainment, and there are at least 2 men and 2 women [or boys and girls] that can sing!
If you think talent shows are rubbish and detrimental to good taste, but can't help thinking why you're hummin' along to that Kelly Clarkson song, watch this show.
It's not too much of yesterday's news, as like More4's Daily Show, it is broadcast within a day or week of the American airing [last night's ITV2 show was a combination of the Tuesday and Thursday shows of last week in the States]. Sunday will show the pre-final or post-theatre shows, where all 24 remaining contestants sing their 1-minute song and 2 boys and 2 girls are voted off by the American audience.
It's blatantly got lots of Americans loving themselves and telling about their struggles and how they dedicate their song to X or Y. It's blatantly got people chosing the cheesiest or most mellow of songs afraid to show off their voice. It's also got those few people who know what they can do and give it all and make it worthwile to watch. And yes, it's got Simon Cowell who seems to be the only level-headed person in this circus of sorts. Oh and the presenter is alright.
Lucky for you, the American audience seems to have a slightly better idea of who to vote off, so next week there will be no more renditions of Barry Manilow songs.
January 29, 2006
Had a great day today, but don't really feel like blogging about it. Well, ok then, first the day, then the CD.
Had a wee bit too long a sleep in, but was on time to have a shower and buy some milk before getting in the car to get to Ramphal for our Rev concert/busking session. We were singing for a NAGTY conference - imagine 30 people with keyboard and guitars standing on the upstairs hallway [or imagine that on any upstairs hallway - yes, it was one of the more special concert locations in the choir's history!] - i.e. lots of bright young kids tired of mingling and networking all day. Not sure if they really enjoyed listening to us instead, but we had a good time singing and later enjoying the snacks! Ended up 'singing' the solo bits for Trouble Don't Last myself, which is quite hard on an empty stomach and when trying to reach the people the floor below with your voice.
After some more snacks [the best donut since I came to England!] I went to Foleshill with Ali and Rich to get some fabric and shiny sparkly things for decorations for our Rev concert [4th March]. Whilst there, we got so excited by fruit being stalled outside that we entered a shop and cancelled our trip to TESCO Extra. Eventually, we left the shop only 7 quid poorer, but with a life supply of turmeric and other bulk stuff that would cost a fortune at a better known place. On we went to Central Six where I finally found the generic black stretch [small...] long sleeve T that will increase my clothing options by 50%. Also had to wait for Ali for 30 mins – but I'll let her explain on her blog why it took her so long to pay for a cute grey coat.
Sorry – the CD only comes up at midnight, and I still have to mention the 3 [?] episodes of 24 series 4 we watched. Now, series 2 and 3 seemed more of a necessity to watch - Kiefer Sutherland was always good as Jack Bauer, and it was just about interesting enough to see which episode Sherry Palmer or Nina Meyers would pop up - but this series is amazing so far! It's gotten a bit more cheesy [especially funny with lots of irony and sarcasm] without actually losing much credibility or pace. Go watch it when [if?] you get the chance!
And now I'm listening to the Ataris. A quick shallow glance with blog search gives me only one earlier mention – a warning that listening to them before going to bed will cause you to wake up in a melodramatic mood. Great. Though I think I'm already there. The title, So long, Astoria actually already sounds melodramatic. It's not a bad thing though - it's a good CD to have on whilst writing a blog entry or something else relaxing. It makes me smile. It's never annoying, or childish [never got round to getting a Sum41 album for that reason], or cheap. Maybe just a bit simple. It all sounds a bit the same, though it doesn't get boring. I won't say it's nice though – it's not that bad!
Not ground-breaking. Not mood-lifting. It's a I'm happy with how I feel right now kind of CD. Also, it feels like the generic teenage slapstick [American Pie, Road Trip] or prom flick [Never Been Kissed] or The OC kind of album. Which I don't think is a bad thing! For me, it reminds me of the friends I go to gigs or festivals with, which is enough to make the CD worthwhile. For you, I can't find a reason why you would mind this CD, or it would be that – like Ali – you can't hear the melody through the guitar sound.
December 27, 2005
How about those urges? I'm a very inactive person. Not passive, just not active. I think quite a lot, don't worry, there is a reason I'm at this university, but I tend to forget to write thoughts down and do something with them. Sitting around all day thinking wears me out, but I need actual exercise if I want to sleep at night. Similarly, I need not forget to do some proper thinking on a hard day's work [to me, singing in Revelation or doing a day's Christmas shopping in London or Amsterdam counts as exercise]. Thinking time can be replaced by chilling to the best CD I bought in ages - Carole King's Tapestry [thanks for the suggestion Vix!].
After a day of hard work – the kind of day I have when I have walked the Maths Department – Student's Union path in 5 different ways, only to find out I spend the same amount of time no matter which path I take – it's an urge to listen to something smooth, or to watch something mindnumbing such as Neighbours. I haven't had the pleasure to get into the storylines of the main Australian export product, mainly because fortunately those days don't happen too often.
No, then the opposite: days I just get to sit in the maths common room, trying to find where I forgot the semicolon in my m-file this time, only interrupted by the occasional visit from my supervisor giving another direction to the research. I'm safe on Tuesdays, when the silence is broken by Rev and 2 hours of recharging of the brain by releasing all energy by
singing and jumping around pure chaos. But that's just one in seven days. The best way I can recreate the Rev atmosphere at home is – you guessed it – to turn on the taps and put on some Bon Jovi and run through the house singing and dancing along while cleaning dishes. The foam acts as the chaos part here.
Bon Jovi is just an example – anything loud with as much diversity and as much sound as possible will do. On a more contemplative day, Israel will do, and The Killers did a great job last year. While looking for my family's Christmas presents [at Fame in Amsterdam, if for some reason you need to buy something CD/DVD/Game related and you're in Holland, it's a good place to start] I came across the best that would encompass my 1 CD + 1 DVD limit for this year's holidays. It's actually 2 CDs and a DVD, but since they come in one box I thought it'd be ok. And it's more than ok!
Guitar, Bass, Drums, Violins, Brass, South-African voice that can linger – yup, the noise criterium is met. It all comes together in a great sound full of funk and rhythm that would endanger the melody requirement [melody - can't sing along if there isn't a recognizable tune!] if it weren't for the amazing song structures the musicians [or maybe just Dave Matthews] come up with. This particular collection has 27 tracks, 2 of which are part of a documentary [mainly pretty pictures with pretty Dave Matthews Band(DMB) background music, talking about how the concert came together], and 3 contain two songs – I don't know how many songs are on their name now, but DMB have a big enough selection to have some songs beautifully complementing one another.
Where many bands tend to create a great studio sound, but fail to convince us in live sets, DMB's live sets are mostly beyond amazing, where their studio albums usually sound downright dull. Their Central Park Concert suffered from a poor song selection, resulting in me only taking 1 of 3 CDs to England. Using the mirror, it's my loss I haven't given the new songs from those studio albums [Everyday and Busted Stuff] a fair chance. On the other hand, it's the great instrumental intermezzos or elaborations on songs that make the live sessions so great, and apparently they only worked in the older, better known songs. On The Gorge, the band seem to have had enough time to elaborate on those newer songs, and create new 'classic' overlaps with for instance Everyday and Where are you going.
Any DMB - even a studio album – would deserve 3 stars under my regime. A live album with a proper song selection would get to 4 stars, but in this case it's the DVD that earns this collection the ultimate star. I didn't really understand the appeal of music DVDs, and it's mainly the CDs that made me pick this set. But then us poor Europeans will need to pay for a ticket to America to see this band live, and even if only in your living room, with a DVD you get to see the band live. This concert's director has done an amazing job in capturing the essence of the band, where everyone has a vital part and encourages one another. So much fun on stage is mirrored by the crowd, who are ecstatic seeing the best band in the most beautiful surroundings [indeed, the 'gorge', in Washington State along the Columbia river looking over the river's canyons]. Seeing the band is called Dave Matthews Band, it wouldn't be unthinkable to see him 90% on your screen, but instead, the dirctor focuses on the key band member of each phrase, cunningly using the gigantic screen behind the band to capture the crowd or another band member. The Oscar in this case goes to the violinist, who becomes one with his instrument and puts so much drama and energy in his play that he gets the band to center around him on his solos, without ever forgetting to support the rest when his part is absent, even if only plucking the occasional string of his violin. And he never stops smiling.
Get this set if you've ever thought DMB are good. If you're interested in this band, this might be a bit too much to start with, but it's probably their best collection to date. If you'd like to hear a few songs first, I'm not sure if they're on iTunes, but try and find Ants Marching, The Space Between [was a minor hit record a few years ago, I think as part of a Nokia ad], #41, or Lie In Our Graves.
November 03, 2005
So much to talk about - maths conferences, blog style updates, almost early mornings - but I thought I'd pick something you might actually care about.
[Warning: this is the anecdote. Feel free to skip this paragraph and start reading the review from the next.] A long long time ago, I bought a CD at Morisson's [I shall never use consistent spelling for that store's name on this blog. Yes, that's a declaration.] long before they had a special CD issue desk and once I got home, to my shock there was no CD in the case. Due to a sudden change in daily regime I didn't end up in Morrison's [OK, that one's on purpose] for a whole month and only decided to take my chances last weekend. Lo and behold I say, I got my money back and as a true materialist, I traded the shiney metal for a new record, and now I am the proud owner of a masterpiece. I think.
[Warning: this paragraph doesn't say anything about the music. You might want to skip just one more paragraph.] Main reason for giving this album only 4 stars, is because I can't believe it's brilliant. After a week of listening, I haven't recognized a gem like Twentysomething or All At Sea, but then again those songs wouldn't fit on this album. For some reason, I like buying CDs [I know that was a jump, but trust me, I'm getting somewhere] for usually, someone has put effort in the artwork, and I'd like to think that the artwork tells you something about the CD (**). In Jamie Cullum's case, Twentysomething's blue and relaxed cover, gave the album a very 'blue' feeling, not as in 'feeling blue', but rather chilled and distant, not really sure of a direction (think of the title track). Catching Tales is more of a statement. Jamie Cullum stands bang in the middle almost looking at you. The red, jazzy font stands out and predicts a more certain direction and warmer feeling. Extra natural patterns give the sense of richer material, in song and lyrics. Those great chilled hits from Twentysomething would not fit in with the warm feelings this album produces.
[Actually, skip this one as well. No music talking here.] So is warm good or bad? Doesn't a great album need great songs? See, that's where I got stuck, and why I don't dare giving it that 5th star [unlike every other reviewer on the blogs - but I'll leave a rant about reviews for later.] - I've been listening to the album while typing this entry, and haven't had the slightest temptation to skip a track. Maybe because they're equally class tracks, or maybe because they're all just mediocre but form something wonderful when played together. Maybe I'm just waiting for the speedy bit in 7 Days to Change Your Life or the word 'grandmother' in Fascinating Rhythm – the word doesn't fit there, but does it make the song better or worse? It hasn't annoyed me yet, and the fact that it stands out and makes me think about it is something good, I guess.
The big change is that his voice is now actually part of the music. Unfortunately, there is no brilliant scatting on Catching Tales, but instead, Jamie's voice has gotten more tuneful and playful, and can you don't have to listen to the lyrics to get the song, as there is more music to help you understand. I don't know any music theory, but I can count, and I'm pretty sure there are more different tones and more 'fascinating rhythms' to be found on this album than any of his previous work. Despite the lack of scatting. Listen to Our Day Will Come and you'll hear everything this album has to offer in one song.
No great recognizable piano fiddling from All At Sea, hardly any scatting [while listening to Fascinating Rhythm, which is all about scatting and rhythm, but it's the penultimate track. Bear with me!] and no great covers you'd love to hear him sing ala High and Dry. Why on earth should you buy this album? It's jazz for the masses. Ali can't stand jazz and she managed to stay in the room and actually listen to the album [granted, her bf Rich had just cooked another amazing meal, but hey, there are more rooms and still she chose to
sit with us keep listening!] The last song has just come up and I'm actually sad it's almost over. It's got the joy Maroon 5 songs or Scrubs bring to some of you. It's got the loveliness of Norah Jones but is too cool for the O.C. [seriously!]. Jamie's still Twentysomething but has found his direction and it's a good direction. Music for the masses is not necessarily a bad thing.
October 30, 2005
Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't. I've been sulking for long enough now about people doing the Rate your life thing without tracking back to me or me friend Heeley. Instead, let's focus on the little things in life. [Especially when bus services keep letting us down].
- After a 4 week delay I finally got round to returning my Diana Ross & Supremes CD to Morrison's as the case was empy. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when there appeared to be none left in stock, they offered me a refund. Which I gladly accepted and used to buy the latest Jamie Cullum album – yet to be listened to.
- The UK stupid show viewing audience are learning, as the two worst X-factor acts ended up in the bottom range. Another great show of character as Simon Cowell sends the average singer Philip [with a lovely Irish accent though] home and keeps playboy and great entertainer Chico for another week.
- I spent more than 2 hours in Jumpin Jaks without feeling any minute even a bit unsafe. With alcohol percentage at a minimum level, and skimpy clad girls and pink-shirt wearing guys all around, that is a true miracle. Don't worry – I'm not going to praise JJ, though it was a good night out!
October 23, 2005
This weekend saw a year long
wasting spending time browsing blog entries finally come to a worthwile occupation. Ladies and gentlemen, the title for best birthday present of the year goes to Singstar - obviously. It is a miracle some of us are still able to speak after singing for 3 hours [the awe is strengthened by the silly conception we had that we had to sing every song in the right pitch if we didn't want to lose any points] [author is aware of having sung for 3 hours in previous Rev-related occasions].
Thank you warwickblogs for setting up a great community where people can share experiences like this and help each other finding the bestest birthday present ever!
October 13, 2005
September 25, 2005
Rubbish! I'm positive someone on the Warwick blogosphere had already written a great review of this film but I can't find it! Hmm… guess I'll have to spend a bit longer on this entry than planned.
I'm not a fan of boxing. Neither am I fond of glorifying films. However, this pic manages to depict what it's not meant to be depicting. The boxing sequences are a delight to watch – you crawl into Ali's mind and see all the punches fly at you whilst thinking out tactics [walk back] then switch to a long shot of just the footwork of the two fighters, without making you feel you're missing any of the action. And for glorification there is no space reserved – the part of Ali's (or Cassius') life that forms the storyline is not glorious at all. It almost ends up being a socio-political drama instead.
Actually, I lied. There is quite some glorifying. Although I'm not too informed on 1960s American history to know whether Ali was as big a political figure as Malcolm X. But that's what the film makes you believe. And the way this film has been produced, I'm quite happy to believe Ali was a great figure in that time. Someone should have taught him to speak clearly though.
Nearly everything in this film is perfect. The soundtrack on its own is worth 5 stars, and is seamlessly incorporated into each scene, often more thought provoking than the images themselves, but also given new meaning – or clarified in their relevance to the time [A Change Is Gonna Come after Malcolm X is shot dead – this shouldn't be a spoiler. Actually, I could tell the whole storyline and not spoil anything unless you know nothing about Ali's life] by whatever is on screen. And those images are wonderful in their own right. A lot of play with light and dark, and great interplay between Ali's life and current affairs.
Acting performances are great. Smith manages to make you believe he is a great boxer – maybe even Ali – as he dances inside and outside the ring. His scenes with sportscaster Howard Cosell [an amazing performance from Jon Voight – seriously, this actor sneaks into great films like a fox and you never know it's him till you see the credits. I truly believed this was a real-life sportscaster! Interviewing Will Smith…] are great amusement and the two must have had fun re-enacting those moments. Jamie Foxx is hardly recognizable as a balding (Jewish?) alcoholic who happens to be Ali's motivator, but puts down the most outstanding performance [apart from Jon Voight, but I thought that was a guy doing his actual job so let's just talk about obvious actors here] in this film, but unfortunately he doesn't spend too much time on screen here.
There is the greatest debit of the film. Although the scenes follow each other perfectly, and the story is not too hard to follow, in the 3 hours it takes from A to B, there are too many sub plots and sidetracks to actually enable us to enjoy a single character. It starts of with the focus on Cassius Clay becoming a champion and being renamed Mohammed Ali, with in the background his friendship with Malcolm X. The second part shows us Ali's trouble with the draft, a pending imprisonment, and his lack of income due to lack of boxing license. And the third and final is all about the build up to the Rumble in the Jungle, Ali's fight with George Foreman in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). In 3 hours we get to see about 4 people around Ali helping in his boxing career – seems pretty important to me to get to know them, but only Foxx manages to leave some impression, but not enough to give us an idea what his character actually did for Ali. Then there are 3 wives (at different times) who just come and go. Yes, just like that. Somewhere in between there is the friendship with and murder of Malcolm X, and a row between Ali and his dad about discarding the family (slave) name of Clay. With about 20 important people in Ali's life, the only character I feel I really got to know is Cosell [Jon Voight's]. And I learned some more about the social and political ongoings in the 1960s.
As a story-telling film, that's where its shortcomings lay. No problems with Smith's performance – the emphasis was just too much on what we already know: Ali's a womanizer, a great boxer, and had some great punchlines as well. As a 'motion picture' it's great. What your eyes get to register is one of the best and most beautiful film sequences – especially when boxing is concerned. The film is entertaining and educational, with great acting and a wonderful soundtrack. It's just a shame Ali had so many important and people worthy-of-a-story around him.
September 22, 2005
Wahey! An entry spurred by the moment. And Storm Radio. Whenever I hear this song something inside me tells me to jump with joy. It's not even a great song, but I think it's the "oh oh oh oh" singing in the background. Now, find me a night in the Union where they will play this song!
When I was a child, running in the night, I was afraid of what might be
Hiding in the dark and hiding on the street, and of what was following me
The hounds of love are calling
I've always been a coward, and I don't know what's good for me
Well here I go,it's coming at me through the trees
Help me, someone, help me, please
Take my shoes off, and i will throw them in the lake, and I will be, two steps on the water
I found a fox, who was caught by dogs, he let me take him in my hands
His little heart, it beat so fast
And I'm ashamed to be running away
From nothing real, I just can't deal with this
I feel ashamed to be there
Among your hounds of loving
And feel your arms surround me
I've always been a coward, and i dont know what's good for me
Oh, here I go, don't let me go, hold me down
It's coming at me through the trees
Help me, someone, help me, please
Take my shoes off, and i will throw them in the lake, and I will be, two steps on the water
And I will be, two steps on the water
And no I'm not going to analyze the lyrics. And yes I did leave out the repetitive end. Oh and it's by the Futureheads.