Thursday, 24 July 2008

17 July 2008 - Leonard Cohen, O2

For much of the audience, this was an "at long last" event and one we had hardly dare dream of. Despite his age, some 74 years young, Mr Cohen nailed it from the very first song - and kept up the good humour and high standards right through. 'Hallelujah' brought the audience to its feet, in every sense reclaiming the song as his own. Having seen Rufus Wainwright perform this at the Hop Farm earlier, there seems to be a special magic attaching to this number - sing it with conviction, whoever you are, and it will win the day. 'A Thousand Kisses Deep' - recited to a silent, rivetted house - was entirely moving. All in all the audience were as delighted to be there as Leonard was - and his graceful good humour and humility was an example to all.

8 July 2008 - Panic at the Disco, London Astoria

The Astoria

It’s a real shame that this superb little venue is to be torn down to make way for the Crossrail Link. It looks like a seedy Soho dive on the outside but inside it is a seedy dive with just the right size capacity for a medium-level gig.

Security for the 14-17s was really tight, so the message is bring the ‘rents if you want to avoid hassle (if that’s not an oxymoron). Turning up with your big brother or sister really won’t do, and you’ll be forced to produce passport ID on the spot to prove your age. Not that I could see what the fuss was all about once we got inside. There is no way any of the kids would miss a nano-second of front-of-stage bopping and screaming to even consider looking at the bars.

Two supports – Carter Jonas (parental-advisory lyrics), very Remi Nichol; The Golden Silvers – who amazingly to me were joint winners of the Glastonbury New Talent contest this year. Main act – very slick and professional Panic at the Disco. If “Nine in the Afternoon” hasn’t yet hooked itself into your brain, it soon will have.

Monday, 21 July 2008

6 July 2008 - Neil Young, The Hop Farm

Festival time - that means the great outdoors and fresh air and sunshine and rain. The Hop Farm paddock is a neat enough site - the ground slopes gently up towards the stage and the acoustics were good - but as far as the traffic logistics went - what a nightmare, one entrance and one exit! If they're thinking of holding this event next year, someone should send Kent constabulary over to the V Festival pronto to see how things should be done.

So - arrived too late for the Guillemots - sorry, but you did sound good from the car park. Rufus Wainwright next, sparking in the pouring rain and once I'd got over my bout of brolly rage (you're standing in a field fer chrissake!) The sun burst out from behind the clouds the moment he starting to sing "Hallelujah" - nice touch that, festival gods.

My Morning Jacket began with a seventies throw-back sound - not unlike John Denver's 'Welcome to My Morning' (just imagine what must have seeped into their subconscious minds when they were little dudes) - but soon pulled out the Flying Vs to get on with some serious head banging. Supergrass were engaging and won the audience over, but Primal Scream didn't seem to get it on - at all.

Nearly six hours after arrival, patience and camel-like tactics paid off (thinking don't eat, don't drink, don't even move) and it was time for the man himself, the king of dirty rock guitar, Mister Neil Young, inspiration for a legion of rockers. The two hours was barely enough to sample a career of such length, of wonderful bravura and devil-may-care musicianship - as if declaring "I'm still here, and I'm still up for it!" Ending with an inspiring "Day in the life" - wonderful. Yes kids, the man did play the Beatles. They're good, these oldies, aren't they!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

31 May 2008 - Bruce Springsteen, Emirates Stadium

It was big, it was rugged, it was your down-to-earth purpose-built entertainment - and that's just the venue. Sadly, the sound was lost even though Bruce did his best to get things moving as the light faded and the torches came out. Quite something to come out of a gig and be escorted by police all the way to the tube - just like a real football crowd I guess.