The Presets Live At The Royal, 29/10/08

The Presets
The Presets! Click the pic for a small gallery!

Whoah! Last night I went to see The Presets and they were awesome!

I’ve liked them ever since I heard ‘Are You The One?’ off their debut album and 2008’s newie, ‘Apocalypto’ is even poppier. It’s a raw, chunky slice of electropop, fusing classic synthpop with a completely modern dance imperative.

And live they’re even better! It was so lovely to see an electro gig like this in Derby and so many fans come out and just jump about like lunatics. Derby is normally quite rock and quite apathetic, this was as unlike that as possible. The Presets rocked the crowd but we still demanded an encore! If you get the chance to go and see them, do not miss out.

Props also to Micachu who were so good I had to buy their record.

Ahhh, what a great night out! πŸ™‚

Gothness

Gothness

Release the bats!

I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I’ve got quite a big streak of goth in me. Not goth in the modern, American sense (all latex and metal) but in the more British, ’80s, 4AD, Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry way.

So I thought I’d do a set of gothy pics in that kind of style. Click the pic above for a morose gallery! πŸ™‚

Of course, if you’re going to appreciate the gallery properly, you better have a kitten handy, consumption and Danielle Dax on in the background…

Bille The Vision And The Dancers Live At The Royal, Derby, 24/10/08

Billie The Vision And The Dancers

Billie The Vision And The Dancers, live last night! Click the pic for a gallery!

If you’re a regular Groinker, you probably already know that I have a soft-spot for Billie The Vision.

So, as soon as I heard they were playing in Derby, supporting The Pipettes, I got tickets and me and my mrs went to the gig last night.

WOOO!

Although the set was very short as they weren’t headlining and the PA was acting up quite badly, the talent, charm and honesty of BTV shone through. Yeah, there were a few idiot kids in the audience shouting homophobic stuff out about Lars’ clothes but BTV managed to convert most of the peeps there who hadn’t seen / heard them before.

There were a couple of girls in front of me who started off the BTV show giggling, wondering why a man was dressed up in women’s clothes. By the end of the gig, they were clapping and jumping up and down. Such is the power of great pop.

BTV played a mix of songs from old albums and the newie and, honestly, they performed like superstars on that stage. New songs like ‘Lily From The Middleway Street’ just stormed along, a great, grand party of a tune, inviting everyone. And then there were softer, slower oldies like ‘Man From Argentina’ that were sooo sweet. It helps that all the band are effortlessly great on their respective instruments but technical proficiency can so often lead to leaden, worthy workouts. Not so with Billie The Vision. Live, everything BTV do serves the songs, frames those perfect vignettes perfectly.

If I had to make any criticism, it’s that they didn’t play long enough but, obviously, that was out of their hands.

It felt quite bizarre, standing in a venue in Derby hearing this band I’ve loved since hearing about them when I was gigging in Sweden. To see them, in real life, a few feet in front of me… well, it was a night I won’t ever forget.

Please, check out their music if you haven’t already!

Bar Lisi Playlist 22/10/08

Billie The Vision And The Dancers

Wednesday was special. I played multiple tracks by Billie The Vision And The Dancers as I was so excited that they were gigging in Derby on Friday (I saw them!).

So, the best old song was ‘I’m Pablo’ by BTVATD. (Off their 2005 album.)

And the best new song was ‘Groovy’ by BTVATD. (Off their 2008 album.)

If you like lyrics like Jonathan Richman’s or indiepop that is happy and sad at the same time, I think you should probably welcome Billie into your life. And hey – it’s not like you even have to risk any money: you can download all of their albums for free from their own website.

I pay for mine, either via Emusic or buying the CDs because I want this fabulous band to carry on making some of the best pop music I’ve ever heard.

To find such beautiful lyrics married with equally golden music is a rare treat.

On Wednesday, I played:

Beirut – Elephant Gun
otograph – melodie
Billie The Vision And The Dancers – Stuttering Duckling
The Duellists – Starters, Alfriston
The Insomniaddicts – Quitting Time
Sufjan Stevens – Come On! Feel The Illinoise!
Casey Jones – Know This X
M.O. & Brakko – Pluk de Dag
Distance – Mount Zion (Remix)
Circuits – Pistols at Dawn (Tim ‘Love’ Le
Fugazi – Exit Only
Termanology – Watch How It Go Down (prod. by DJ Premier)
Murder City Devils – I Drank the Wine
Smash TV – Chase And Status
Throwdown – Unite
Jens Lekman – You Are the Light
The Mighty Underdogs – Escape (feat. Mr. Lif & Akrobatik)
Chromeo – Needy Girl (Lifelike Remix)
Killswitch Engage – Rose of Sharyn
King Cannibal – b – Badman Near Dark (Komonazmuk Remix)
Beirut – Scenic World
Fighting With Wire – Everyone Needs A Nemesis
Ghostface – Be Easy (Feat. Trife)
The Presets – Yippiyo-a
Raised Fist – Working on Wood
Cycom – Distractions
Ted Leo and The Pharmacists – Criminal Piece
Girl Talk – Shut The Club Down
Gojira – All The Tears
MGMT – Electric Feel (Justice Remix)
TV on the Radio – Crying
TC – Where’s My Money (Caspa Remix)
Death Cab for Cutie – No Sunlight
Underoath – Anyone Can Dig A Hole But It Takes A Real Man To Call It Home
Late of the Pier – Focker
Billie the Vision & The Dancers – I’m Pablo
Thee More Shallows – The Dutch Fist
Big Black – L Dopa
MSTRKRFT – Vuvuvu
Mystery Jets – You Cant Fool Me Dennis
Maybeshewill – Seraphim & Cherubim
Why? – The Vowels Pt. 2
Hint – Muddled Morning (Feat. Rizzle)
Braintax – The Beast Is Us
Lykke Li – Little Bit
my big ego – duck and cover/hiroshima
Deerhoof – Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back
Sway – F Ur X (Ft. Stush) (Prod. By Youngster)
Evergreen Terrace – Rip this!
Laakso – Dancing Queen
The Field Mice – Fabulous Friend
Yelle – To Cut A Long Story Short (Vic
Sylvie – Please Make It Home
De Colombiaanse Bloedgroep – Denk Tank ft. Blaxtar
Felt – Train Above The City – Bitter End
Ratatat – Mirando
These New Puritans – Swords of Truth
Hallo Venray – Circles
Ladytron – Runaway (Stray Dogs In Paris Remix)
Clark – re-scar kiln
Atmosphere – The Waitress
Blitzen Trapper – Gold for Bread
Blues And Snake – You’ve Struck Gold
Alan Braxe – Addicted
Future Of The Left – Manchasm
Kid Sublime – We Dont Play Feat. Illa J
The Girls – Where Wolves Drink
Sonic Youth – Sunday
Efterklang – Mirador
The Fairline Parkway – Eaves
Benga – Roller
The Postal Service – We Will Become Silhouettes
Bobby Baby – Bobby
Teenage Fanclub & Jad Fair – Behold The Miracle
Billie The Vision And The Dancers – Groovy

Geoff Hoon – Evil, Moron Or Both?

Geoff Hoon - proud baby murderer
Hoon, right, with another happy child-murderer

Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon has said the government is prepared to go “quite a long way” with civil liberties to “stop terrorists killing people”.

He was responding to criticism of plans for a database of mobile and web records, saying it was needed because terrorists used such communications.

By not monitoring this traffic, it would be “giving a licence to terrorists to kill people”, he said.
(Source: BBC News)

While the political pundits ramble on about voter choices, credit crunch and the US show-elections (not real elections as the only choice is between two capitalists), let’s consider our government here in the UK.

Take Geoff Hoon. Is he completely evil, in a Himmler, Goering kind of way? This would seem to bear that out:

Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, suggested yesterday that mothers of Iraqi children killed by cluster bombs would “one day” thank Britain for their use.

Mr Hoon’s claim came as the Ministry of Defence confirmed for the first time that it had dropped 50 airborne cluster munitions in the south of Iraq, leaving behind up to 800 unexploded bomblets.

Labour MPs, landmine charities and aid agencies all condemned the Defence Secretary for his comments in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

When put to him that the Iraqi mother of a child killed by cluster bombs would not thank British forces for their actions, Mr Hoon replied: “One day they might.

But Alice Mahon, MP for Halifax, said Mr Hoon’s remarks about the mothers of Iraqi children killed by the bombs were “cruel and unfeeling.

“It was an outrageous thing to say. Does he seriously think he will win hearts and minds with talk like that? It was a typical quote from a conqueror, not a liberator,” she said.
(Source: The Independent)

Saying that the mothers of the children you murder will thank you for it one day – come on, only a Nazi would think like that. “A conqueror, not a liberator,” as Alice Mahon says above.

But he did say that. And he wasn’t sacked from our wonderful government of liars and war criminals. In fact, he’s doing very nicely, thank you.

Now he’s saying that he’d go “quite a long way” to protect us from terrorists. Really? Then why is he so intent on making new terrorists with our continued illegal occupation of Iraq? The bloody war there, the pile of over one million Iraqi dead, surely that’s going to create a lot of people who are angry at Britain and want revenge.

Oh, sorry, I forgot!

Those Iraqis will run at us, smiling and waving, as they drip with the blood and brains of their murdered children. They will sing our praises at the way we bravely used cluster bombs and chemical weapons on them, to liberate them.

Time for a reminder of this quote from Roland Huguenin, one of six International Red Cross workers in the Iraqi capital:

β€œThere has been an incredible number of casualties with very, very serious wounds in the region of Hilla. We saw that a truck was delivering dozens of totally dismembered dead bodies of women and children. It was an awful sight. It was really very difficult to believe this was happening.”

Oh, and those cluster bombs that Hoon loves? This Commie brigade hate them:

More victims of US liberation
A boy weeps as others survey the damage caused by a US air strike on Fallujah. Picture:AFP

β€œIt’s appalling that, despite the well-documented problems with cluster weapons, the US and UK are dropping them on Iraq,” Andrew Purkis, chief executive of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund said in a statement.

β€œWe urge people to join our campaign to put pressure on governments to take responsibility for the clear up of these indiscriminate weapons of war. Until then, cluster bombs must not be used.”

(Source: The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund)

Yeah, Princess Di – what a lefty troublemaker, eh? Good old Hoon, standing up to these anarchists!

You see, now I understand Hoon’s reasoning process: it’s non-existent. This is, after all, a man who thinks killing babies makes friends for the UK. It’s no wonder that he thinks that the only way we can be free is to have all our freedom removed, to be watched by the government every second of every day in every aspect of our lives.

And after all, haven’t the UK government proven how careful they are with our data? I mean, they could be leaving it on buses and posting it off to the wrong person and suchlike… But that’s not happened much. At all.

I think Hoon is right. Why don’t we install cameras in every home, watching every citizen just in case one of us is a terrorist? This is the HOON WAY! What do you want – trivial civil liberties or to be protected from evil terrorists?

Yep. Makes perfect sense.

If you think like Geoff Hoon.

The 39 Steps At Quad Derby

The 39 Steps

Today, my mrs. and I went to see one of my favourite films, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The 39 Steps.’ I’ve seen it many times on telly, I’ve got the DVD but I’ve never seen it at the cinema so when I saw it in the Quad programme, I couldn’t resist. It’s the first time I’ve seen a film at the Quad so this post will be a little bit about both: the flick and the cinema.

Before we went up to Cinema One, we had hot drinks and a bit of tasty apple crumble in the Quad Cafe. I love the view from the cafe, looking out across the market place. There are always skate kids, families, couples and sometimes giant insects walking past so it’s a good start to the cinema experience. It’s how a modern cinema should be, bright, airy and with friendly staff. Too many cinemas are dingy and threatening, resembling cut-price carpet shops more than temples of entertainment. Not the Quad!

We went up when the ads had started and we were lucky enough to bag a double seat, perfect to snuggle up in. The pre-show finished and then the curtains came in from the sides (1935, remember, 4:3 aspect ratio, widescreen didn’t become common till the ’50s). Then the film started…

Perfect.

I’ve seen this film so many times. Must be at least twenty or more by now. But seeing it properly, as it was meant to be seen, was a revelation. There’s so much detail I’ve never noticed before, so many touches that Hitchcock added that combine to make ‘The 39 Steps’ the masterpiece that it is.

The 39 Steps

The story, the screenplay is fabulous, just barrelling along from one tight scene to the next. Many films have tried to mix suspense and humour, romance and spies and failed terribly, hamstrung by their scripts. No such problem here – the script is all killer, no filler. What actor wouldn’t love the line: “Oh, it’s a whole flock of detectives!” The script, the story is, of course, the same on a big or small screen.

But the storytelling was enhanced by seeing the details on the actors’ faces, every passing micro-emotion, every nuance. I can confidently say this: acting hasn’t got any better since 1935. Donat, Carroll, the other leads and every bit part act their socks off. No-one lets the side down. Surely this is testament to Hitchcock’s skill as a director of emotions as well as actions?

The 39 Steps

In the cinema, your eyes can rove over a scene, absorbing details you may not consciously process but which, in the hands of a gifted filmmaker, all conspire to draw you into the world, into the narrative. Watching a film is always a contract: the audience agrees to suspend its disbelief on the promise that the film does its best to entertain them.

Sadly, even the best directors in the world can’t guarantee that their work will be seen in the best way. I enjoyed Dark Knight but within 45 minutes of the start, I was squirming and in pain as the seats in the Westfield Showcase are some of the most uncomfortable I’ve ever been in. This spoilt my immersion in the film and, inevitably, my enjoyment too.

No such problems at Quad. Nothing compromised today’s showing. The seats are huge (they must be if I can fit in them comfortably!) and completely relaxing. The sound and projection were top-notch, nothing dragged me out of the film.

The 39 Steps

So I revelled in it. I loved it. Every frame, every slightly speeded-up chase sequence and every model shot. I also loved seeing things I’d never noticed before, like the adroit pull-focus Hitchcock does when Donat is in front of a road sign. Or the shot in the back of the car of the handcuffed stars which then pans around the back, apparently passes out of the window and then watches the car drive off. If that shot was done today, with all the available CGI trickery, I’d still think it was pretty slick. That Hitchcock pulled it off so gracefully, 73 years ago… well, the man was a genius, wasn’t he?

I’ll finish with probably my favourite scene (though they all are, to be truthful):

The 39 Steps

Look at the still above. It’s from the scene where Carroll and Donat are in the hotel and she’s taking off her wet stocking. For me, it’s the epitomy of Hitchcock: dangerous, sexy, funny, all rolled together. As far as she knows, she’s shackled to a murderer. The bit where Donat’s hand rubs down her leg and then briefly cops a feel of her knee before she distracts it with a sandwich is perfect. It’s like the legs and the hands are the actors, the faces aren’t even needed. And, again, I have to imagine any modern director doing this scene with the same mix of suspense and whimsy and I simply can’t. There’s a deftness here, a skill and precision that transcends the decades from when this film was made (and all the social changes since then) and grabs us by the heart. The reason this film hasn’t aged as terribly as some other 1930s’ fare is that Hitchcock connected to human universals. And those haven’t really changed in thousands of years. This is why he’s a genius and why ‘The 39 Steps’ is a perfect film.

Am I right, sir?