Gina Snowdoll: Eeeeeks! It's a blog!
Gina's musings on transgenderism, fashion, music, records, books, telly, life, the universe and everything

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Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Here's another...

...photo from Punk Aid, courtesy of Nitegrrl:
Punk Aid 2004 Snooker Champions
The Punk Aid 2004 Snooker Tournament Champions
Tamsin, Nitegrrl, Captain, Me

I wouldn't normally post photos of myself in guy mode here on the blog, but let's face it with all that hair in my face, you can't really see me anyway.

I'm still getting used to the blonde hair. Wreckless Eric and his other half Karen thought said it looked good at last night's gig. However, when I was buying my weekly Didcot-Oxford rail ticket from Didcot station last night, the moody old mare at the ticket office said that I needed to get myself another photograph on my rail card as, "You don't look like that any more."

What crap! People change their hair all the time. Until recently I had my hair quite long, and I think I now look more recognisable as the person on my rail card photo than I did then.

And what about passports? A passport lasts 10 years. Are you really expected to keep the same hairstyle all that time just to match your passport photo?

I think the comment was actually quite sexist. Women change their hair colour and/or style all the time. I bet she doesn't tell any female customers to change their photo on their railcards just because they've had a new hair-do.

Anyway, I told the daft cow that I was still recognisable, but she kept on that I needed a new photo. Which, of course I shall ignore. Most the time when I'm travelling on the train I wear a hat anyway, so you can't even see my hair. I think I might even report the old bag. I seem to recall she was the one who diddled me out of 10 quid some time back. I don't forget these things.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:29 pm [edit] 

Eeeeeks! It was the beginning of the month...

4th March, to be precise.

That's is to say, it was this blog's "Blog Birthday" back on the 4th March. And I missed it.

Wow! Three years blogging. Who would have thought? And I so nearly didn't make it, as I was going to pack in all this blogging malarkey a month or so ago.

How about a new design layout, did I hear you ask?

I can't be arsed, to be perfectly honest. This style works for me. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 12:16 pm [edit] 

Wreckless Eric / The Rutles, The 100 Club, London, 30 March 2004

Despite still not having recovered from Punk Aid, I had another late nighter ahead of me, so I caught the train into London yet again, and because of delays on the line after Twyford, had to hare my way to the 100 Club in Oxford Street, and managed to get there on the dot of 8 o'clock just before they opened the doors.

I had a quick chat with Eric and Karen at the start of the gig, and Eric was telling me how some of The Rutles guys, musicians he'd been a fan of for years, were all drooling over his guitar at soundcheck. (Eric played a red Gibson 330 semi-acoustic throughout his set - it sounded great, but then Gibsons are the best).

It was not the longest of Eric sets, it has to be said, but then he was in the support slot.

The set was as follows:

Joe Meek
Palace of Tears
Reconnez Cherie
Continuity Girl
Same
Local
*book reading*
Take the Cash
Whole Wide World

Eric was on very good form - as ever - and insisted on replaying the guitar solo part of "Reconnez Cherie" as he felt his first attempt was a bit too Bert Weedon's "Play In A Day".

Someone called out to Eric, "Where's your band?", obviously not realising that Eric has been playing solo for years now. "I couldn't fit them on the stage," countered Eric, "It's like playing in a fucking music shop window up here!" Indeed, the stage was completely dominated by the Rutles' gear: drums, keyboards, microphone stands, a grand piano (which I think is a fixture of the club) and loads of guitars, amps, etc.

As to The Rutles, I felt strangely unmoved by the entire thing. The majority of the audience were lapping it up - they knew all the words and were singing along, cheering and calling out. I found this quite extraordinairy - these people must've been real fanatics - for me these were just songs from a spoof documentary first broadcast over twenty years ago. The musicianship was exemplary, but one has to wonder, is Neil Innes a musical genius to be able to parody The Beatles so well, or were their songs so formulaic that the style could be easily copied?

I don't know about them being The Prefab Four. For starters there were eight of them, and out of these only two of them were actually in the film, that is Neil Innes and the guy who played Barry Wom (the drummer). Obviously Eric Idle couldn't make it, but apparently he didn't actually play any of the music in the film anyway.

Anyway, I had to leave before the end of The Rutles' second set as I had a train to catch. I don't like having to leave before the end of a gig, but at least I had caught Eric, who was the act I really wanted to see anyway.

Photos? Errrmmmm... my camera was playing up, and anyway I wasn't in the best spot. (There was a bloody great grand piano in the way).

See also: www.wrecklesseric.com
posted by Gina Snowdoll 10:49 am [edit] 

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

A new lease of life?...

So, those who read my first report about Punk Aid might well be wondering, is this a return of Gina Snowdoll, who said she might never get dressed up again?

Well, I dunno. At the moment I'm looking on it as having been a one-off. I still have no desire to go out to all the tired old tranny clubs again, and I really don't want to mix with some of the people on the "scene" to be absolutely truthful, and if you think I'm being a snob then so be it.

At Punk Aid I more or less had my arm twisted to be Gina by various Damned message-boarders and by the Captain himself, who said that he'd only put a dress on if I did likewise.

There had been talk of getting together a team to enter the 5-a-side football tournament on Saturday afternoon. The team was to be Captain, Nitegrrl, Me, a guy called Tig (an occasional message-boarder) and A N Other (just anyone we could grab - possibly Gene October or one of the other guys from Chelsea).

Then Captain announced that we should all wear dresses for the football. No problem for Nitegrrl, but what about the rest of us? Anyway, Friday night, Tamsin and I couldn't get the electricity to work in the chalet, and ended up trying not to freeze to death in our beds. Most of Saturday morning was spent trying to sort out the electricity situation. It was also a freezing day, and I was hardly in the mood for running around the football field in a short dress, bare legs exposed to the elements.

Anyway, we turned up at the football pitch at the agreed time, and it was utter chaos. There was a game going on, but it seemed to be a free for all, and there was no one organising the tournament as such. When the others turned up, we decided that (thankfully) the whole thing was a non-starter and this was when we went to the pub instead, and then played snooker (as described in my earlier entry).

"Phew, I'm glad I've got out of that one", I said. Captain replied that I may have got out of playing football but I hadn't got out of wearing a dress, and that I was expected to get frocked up for the evening. Bugger!

We went back to the chalet and both Tamsin and I fell asleep. I woke up some hours later and it was dark. I looked at the time and saw that it was 8 o'clock already and I felt really panicky.

However, I started putting on the make-up, and it all came back to me quite naturally despite the fact that I hadn't cross-dressed since my birthday in 2003 - that is over 14 months earlier. I could have done with a mascara that hadn't dried up, but other than that it all went without a hitch as if it was second nature to me.

Then I got myself dressed. As I've mentioned on this blog, since my illness I'd put on a lot of weight (hence the working out at the gym I do these days), so I'd chosen a couple of dresses that I thought would still look OK, as many in my wardrobe either don't fit any more or else are too tight and would make my tummy look too big. I chose a short lacy dress that had a flare to the skirt section, so that hopefully this would distract from my tummy. I also put on a pair of fishnet stockings (very punk rock) and a pair of high heeled boots, which I reckoned I'd last in for longer than I would had I opted for a pair of stilettos.

My first choice of wig was a cheapy purple coloured thing, my reasoning being that it wouldn't matter if it was nicked or somehow ended up going through the wars, but Tamsin advised me that it didn't really work, and checking in the mirror I saw that she was right. So, I had to risk my decent brown wig, and on putting that in place I saw that it was indeed the right decision.

Actually, I didn't look all that bad. To be honest, the few photos I've seen of me from that night do not do me any credit. I looked much much better than that in the flesh, and that's not me blowing my own trumpet.

The only other problem was that it was cold out, and also my shoulders looked too broad in that little dress. Tamsin suggested I put my leather jacket on. I felt that it might look too "male" but it didn't really seem to matter when I tried it, it still looked quite "punk rock".

So, we ventured out into the night and into the main hall where the bands were playing, we got a couple of drinks and sat down. From what I personally observed, not many people took much notice of me. Hardly anyone gave me a second glance. Which was nice.

Until Captain turned up, that is! As the photos show, he was wearing a little psychedelic patterned dress and was acting a bit OTT as ever, so when I went up to greet him, people put two and two together and saw that I was a tranny. Loads of people were posing for photographs with Captain, and the funny thing was that I was grabbed to pose in a photo with some skinhead character. God knows who they thought I was.

And then Jed on The Damned merchandise stall introduced herself, and said she hadn't realised who I was (she must know my name from the Damned message board). I thought this was amusing because she's met me loads of times before, but always when I'd been dressed in male mode.

During the Damned's set, my legs were really staring to ache; standing up in those high heeled boots all that time was taking its toll. Also, it was getting really hot under that wig. As soon as the Damned had finished, I grabbed the chalet key from Tamsin and legged it back to get changed into something more comfortable, and looking in the mirror before I removed it all, I still looked alright, despite sweating away under that wig.

I put a pair of jogging bottoms on and my Captain Cosmic top, changed the heels for a pair of trainers and went back to find Tamsin and whoever. I left the make-up on, as I thought it still looked kind of cool.

The funny thing afterwards in the pub was that this guy kept asking me if my own blonde hair was a wig, and I said No, but I was wearing a wig earlier. He was just too confused.

So yes, very nervous and apprehensive about getting dressed up after all this time, but it all went quite well. I still want to have lost a lot more weight before I do it again, though.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 1:59 pm [edit] 

More about Punk Aid

On the TVs in our chalets, one channel was tuned to "PTV", which was Punk Aid TV on which they showed various bits of archive footage and films with a punk theme (e.g. Derek Jarman's "Jubilee" and the Sex Pistols pic "The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle").

There was one documentary shown from way back. It was a German production, the subject was punk rock in Britain, circa 1977/78, and it featured footage of various punk bands of that era, such as The Clash, X-Ray Spex, and others even lesser known.

Also included was some footage of Chelsea, which mainly consisted of one Gene October talking utter bollocks to the camera in all sincerity. The funny thing was that later when we were in the pub with Captain and Nitegrrl, Gene October came over to talk to Captain and he was exactly the same, still talking bollocks a whole twenty-odd years later. It was a bit surreal observing this having just watched the documentary.

Nitegrrl related a funny story about the Friday night when Captain was DJing. Apparently Gene October came over to the DJ booth and thrust an Iggy Pop CD into Captain's hands and said, "Play the first three songs from this."

10 minutes later Gene went back to the DJ booth to complain that his songs hadn't been played yet, and was told that he had forgot to bring the CD with him - it was just an empty CD case!

I found that really funny. I'm sure he's a nice guy really. Perhaps he just tries too hard to be "punk rock"?
posted by Gina Snowdoll 1:07 pm [edit] 

Monday, March 29, 2004

Proof of extraterrestrial visitors here on Earth, #1

Dalek Re-charging facility at Victoria station, London
Here's irrefutable proof that we have alien visitors here on Earth. A dead giveaway, this one. Note that the facilities at Victoria Station, London, seen here in the above photograph, include Ladies, Gentlemen, Disabled, and a re-charging pod for Daleks.
posted by Gina Snowdoll 2:33 pm [edit] 

Punk Aid '04, Pontin's, Hemsby, Gt Yarmouth

I've just arisen this morning from my slumbers after a weekend of PunkAid. Good to meet up with a bunch of message boarders - Nitegrrl, DamnedFairy, NewRose77, White Rabbit SKG, Brabantio, Maff, Stimpy & Twinkle & Vincent, Steve Seitz... was surprised that there weren't more of you there, but I suppose you're all going to Bilston.

Of the bands, we didn't actually watch that many. On Friday night we saw Teasing LuLu - who were fab other than a dodgy start with a dodgy guitar (where does Lucy get these 'orrible guitars from?). No Serena on drums this time - I think she's in France snowboarding or something - but nice to meet Steve again - a top guy as they say.

Then we were mainly drinking and chatting while the other bands were on, so can't comment much on them, other than the final act of the evening The Beat.

They were superb - even if they only have three original members (Ranking Roger on vocals, the drummer, and the scary looking keyboard player... I think). They played all the old hits ("Tears of a Clown", "Mirror in the Bathroom", "Stand Down Margaret") and threw in a few surprises such as The Clash's "Rock the Casbah" and a new "punk" song that worked surprisingly well. These days Ranking Roger is joined by his son Ranking Junior on vocals.

Captain Sensible was DJing between the bands throughout the night and played a good mixture of punk tunes, pscyhedlia, 70s glam, etc. Apparently he was having a hard time of it because he'd be trying to cue up the next song and at the same time having to fend off requests from drunks for The Cockney Rejects or whatever.

On Saturday afternoon, Tamsin and I, along with Nitegrrl and Captain visited the on-site pub (The Queen Vic) and then decided to go have a game of snooker, which was a bit of a laugh as only Tamsin knew how to play. We tried not to encourage him, but Captain did keep breaking out into "The Snooker Song" every now and again (i.e. the "Big Break" theme). After an hour or so, a Pontin's member of staff came out and told us that there had been a snooker tournament scheduled that afternoon, and as no-one else had turned up, we had all won it, and presented us with the grand prize of four cans of Stella.

Went to sleep for a long time late afternoon, early evening, so can't remember much. Then I had to get some slap on as Captain had said he'd wear a dress tonight on stage, only if I wore a dress too. So, I ended up in a short dress, fishnets, high heeled boots, make-up and wig, and we went to the main hall to watch the bands. Captain soon turned up in his little pscyhedelic frock, wig and sunglasses and was soon being photographed with people by everyone. He wanted him and me to go onstage to introduce Chelsea, but when he went and asked, Gene October was having none of it.

Chelsea came on and played an energetic set, with Gene telling the audience what a bunch of ****s they were at regular intervals.

During most of this, Tamsin and I were helping the lovely Jed by watching The Damned merchandise stall, whilst she had to pop off hither and thither. We were rewarded with more Stella, and about half a bottle of vodka - which I don't touch - and which was to be Tamsin's undoing the next morning!

At about half past midnight The Damned came on, so we legged it down to the front of the stage, and once again they were fantastic. After Captain had got his own back on Gene October (for not letting us introduce Chelsea), saying "Gene has just shagged me up the arse!", they started with a storming version of "Melody Lee" with a lovely piano intro by Monty, and with Captain on top form on guitar.

Other highlights were "Antipope" with a nice drum section in the middle eight for Pinch, and of course everyone's favourite, "History of the World, Pt 1". Nice also to have "Neverland" back in the set!

Before the encore Captain did his best Val Doonican impression (albeit, dressed like Fred Flintstone at this point) complete with high-backed chair which Dave dragged out from somewhere.

After a fantastic version of "Love Song", it all ended with "Smash It Up" as it ever does, and a worried-looking Scott trying to grab Captain's guitar before he trashed it. Oh, and Dave let off a fire extinguisher. What a devil!

I dashed back to the chalet to change into something more comfortable as the heels were killing me by this point and the wig was making me too hot. Came back, and everyone repaired to the Queen Vic pub for the rest of the night and right into the morning (it was light when we we thrown out). Nitegrrl kindly invited a couple of drunks over to our table (one of whom was convinced I was wearing a wig - by this time I wasn't - it was my own bleached hair).

Tamsin got talking to some strange guy about politics and I drew the fuzzy end of the lollipop being talked at by some manic guy firstly about transvestism, and then it transpired that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ himself (he was being absolutely deadly serious). Help! Why do I always seem to attract nutters?

We all got chucked out at around 7 in the morning (taking into account the clocks going forward) and I was quite grateful to be allowed to get away from Jesus and go find my bed.

Highlights: Teasing LuLu. The Beat. Not having to participate in the 5-a-side football. "Punk Aid Snooker Champions 2004". The Damned. Good company.

Lowlights: The bloody tokens for the electricity meter in the chalet - we couldn't get them to work the first day and nearly froze to death on Friday night. Meeting Jesus. Not taking enough cash.

Teasing LuLu


The Punk Aid Snooker Tournament Champions 2004
l-r: Tamsin, Nitegrrl, Captain, Yours Truly


Gina, Captain, Nitegrrl


Captain and Tamsin


The Damned

posted by Gina Snowdoll 11:45 am [edit] 

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Loads to do tonight

Must pack bag for Punk Aid, phone Tamsin, watch (and tape) 24 episode 7 on Sky, go to Tesco...

AND before all that I have to go to the gym!

Phew! (in advance!)
posted by G L Wilson 6:18 pm [edit] 

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Reading the detectives

I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but I am quite a fan of detective fiction. There's Sherlock Holmes of course, but I also like reading Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse books, and another one of my favourite crime authors is Peter Lovesey who wrote about Sergeant Cribb, Peter Diamond and various others.

Recently I decided to give Reginald Hill a whirl, and bought several of his Dalziel and Pascoe novels (being a cheapskate I bought them for a couple of quid on eBay). Anyway, this one I'm reading right now, I'm only about a quarter of the way through and reckon I've solved it already. I realised I'd just seen a really big clue - one helluva giveaway - so I reckon I know whodunnit.

But perhaps it's all a red herring. Only one way to find out, and that's to keep on reading!
posted by G L Wilson 3:54 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Sparks, Hackney Ocean, 21 March 2004

RONIt was a bit of a mad and busy weekend. To London on Saturday night to watch Kraftwerk, then back home to Didcot in Oxfordshire, a bit of a lay-in in the morning and then in the afternoon (after I'd been to the gym) back off to London again to go see Sparks in Hackney.

Getting to Hackney was quite interesting as there wasn't a tube station near, so I had to take a bus for the last part of the journey, and didn't really know what landmarks I was looking for. Someone I ended up there OK, and joined a small queue of people, and immediately got talking to a few of them. It seemed that quite a lot of people were doing the double this weekend, that is Kraftwerk and Sparks.

Went inside and grabbed a drink from the bar, whilst the support band were still doing their soundcheck in the main hall. When they had finished, a thin white-haired guy who looked to be about 60-odd commented to me that the soundcheck had finished. I made some comment that I wasn't too impressed by what I'd heard. "Oh, what do you mean the style of music?" he asked. "Well, not really," I said, "I mean the sound - there was a lot of feedback." Then I went on to say, "They're The Egg, aren't they? An Oxford band..." "They started out in Oxford he said. I'm an Egg Daddy." And with that he walked off. Whoops... looks like I inadvertantly offended the Dad of one of the members of the support band.

It turned out that The Egg's set was quite good. They played a hippie-ish spaced-out kind of music, with synths, bass, guitar and drums. They were very tight and proficient musicians. However, the singer/synth player wasn't the greatest vocalist, and it was him causing the horrible feedback when he tried to shield the mic with his hand as he sang. Ouch! Sorry Egg Daddy, I hope your son was one of the other three.

After much disassembling and assembling of equipment, it was time for Sparks. Ron walked out onto the stage to rapturous applause, and seated himself at the piano and began playing the now legendary intro for "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us". But he was playing it faster and faster and even faster! And then there was an explosion from a pyrotechnic device in the middle of the stage, and a show of - quite appropriately - sparks!

RUSSELLRon quit the stage and then Russell came on with the two backing musicians, and launched into "The Rhythm Thief", the first track from the "Lil' Beethoven" album. I had last seen Sparks exactly a year ago to the day at the Royal Festival Hall, and as on that occasion this was to be a "Lil' Beethoven" show in which they were to perform that album in its entirety.

It was a very theatrical show, with video screen at the back of the stage used throughout to help illustrate the proceedings. Ron "played" the piano with his 6-foot arms for "How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?" and he danced and got up to various other wacky antics (and played the piano too, of course) whilst Russell sang his hear out (as ever!), and the two were aided and abetted by Dean Menta and Tammy Glover on guitar and drums respectively plus backing vocals.

I managed to get quite a good spot in the audience quite close to the front of the stage and was able to get to see our heroes up close. Which was nice!

After the final track from the album, a rousing sing-along version of "Suburban Homeboy", there was an interval. I'd promised a friend - a big Sparks fan and record collector - to get several copies of the vinyl edition of the album which were only being made available at these gigs. I told the guy at the merch stall that I'd like several copies, and would buy two from him now and then come back and see how many he had left at the end of the night because I didn't want to be greedy and deprive other people of getting the record. He said that was very fair of me, and to come back after.

Then I started yapping to someone else about Kraftwerk, and was telling him about the forthcoming Karl Bartos show in May, when I realised that the lights were dimming and it was time for Sparks to commence their second set of the night. Somehow I managed to get my spot back near the front again just before Ron came out onto the stage and did an amusing little dance along to "It's a Sparks Show". Russell, Tammy and Dean all joined him on stage again, and launched into "National Crime Awareness Week", perhaps one of their lesser known songs, but still a goody!

They played classic songs from the 1970s ("Here in Heaven", "Talent Is An Asset") and songs from the "disco" period ("Beat The Clock"), and threw in a few surprises such as "The Ghost of Liberace" from the "Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins" album.

Song of the night for me had to be an absolutely storming rendition of "When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing)". Absolute perfection! Everyone was singing along. Then it was time for "This Town Aint Big Enough For Both Of Us" - for real this time - no false starts as at the beginning of the show. (And did Russell get lost in that and repeat the wrong verse and extend the song unwittingly? I have a bootleg version of this which is about 7 minutes long as Russell and the band get well and truly lost and can't seem to find the end of the song.)

They bid us goodnight, but of course they came back and gave us an encore: a great guitar-driven version of "Amateur Hour" (from "Kimono My House") and the sublime "When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'". Simply fantastic.

It's rumoured that they are coming back in May. I'll be there if and when they do.

On my way out I went back to the merch stall and bought up another three copies of the album on vinyl, and then there was a mad dash to get back to Paddington as it was 23:30 by now and my last train home was at 00:20. It was a bit like the mad dash at the end of a movie when the hero or heroine has to get to the airport on time to stop the person they didn't realise they loved from leaving. Only less emphasis on the romance in this case. I just wanted to get home and not be stuck in London all night. Somehow I made it to Paddington with 10 minutes to spare which gave me time to buy a sandwich and a drink before boarding my train. Phew!

Sparks, Sunday 21 March 2004 set-list:

This Town Intro
The Rhythm Thief
How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall?
What Are All These Bands So Angry About?
I Married Myself
Ride Em Cowboy
My Baby's Taking Me Home
You Call Is Very Important To Us
Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls
Suburban Homeboy
--(interval)--
It's a Sparks Show
National Crime Awareness Week
Here in Heaven
Something For The Girl With Everything
Beat the Clock
Nothing To Do
The Calm Before The Storm
The Ghost of Liberace
Talent Is an Asset
Hospitality on Parade
When I Kiss You (I Hear Charlie Parker Playing)
This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us
--(Encore:)--
Amateur Hour
When Do I Get To Sing 'My Way'

Thanks to Martina for the photos - they are not actually from this gig, but are from the same tour
posted by G L Wilson 4:18 pm [edit] 

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Kraftwerk, Brixton Academy, London, 20 March 2004

Kraftwerk, Brixton Academy, 21 March 2004
It's the early hours of Sunday morning and I've just got home from London and another Kraftwerk gig, this time at the Brixton Academy. The audience were a lot more raucous at this one than the audience the other night at the Royal Festival Hall, but they were also a very enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

It was the same set list again, so not much different to report, although having said that I still found it immensely enjoyable. This time I didn't forget the camera, and if anything got slightly carried away taking photos - turns out I took 93 snaps altogether - including the one above!
posted by G L Wilson 1:05 am [edit] 

Friday, March 19, 2004

Kraftwerk, Royal Festival Hall, London, 18 March 2004

Absolutely amazing! Who would have thought that watching four middle-aged men standing behind their laptop computers for two hours could be so entertaining?

The show started with "The Man Machine" - and with the curtains still drawn and the silhouettes of the band picked out in red light. The curtains parted to reveal Kraftwerk, each member behing his workstation, dressed in smart suits, red shirts (a la "The Man Machine" album cover) and black ties.

To be honest, Kraftwerk themselves did not move very much. The guy sitting next to me voiced the opinion that all Florian Schneider would be doing behind his laptop was checking his emails! (Which I didn't think was very fair - I saw him moving quite a bit).

This has always been one of the big questions about Kraftwerk playing live. How much is really live and how much is just programmed? Can they really justify having four people up there on stage pressing buttons when it could probably be done by just one or two people? Of course it wouldn't look the same - it's traditional that Kraftwerk is a quartet (even if two of them are "employees").

Watching carefully, I saw that Ralf Hutter was indeed playing many of the melody lines live, as was Henning Schmitz on a couple of the songs, such as "The Model" (at least I think it was him. Or was it Fritz Hilpert? I never sorted out in my mind who was who out the those two "new boys").

But really, it didn't matter who was doing what, thanks to the large screen behind the group onto which graphics and videos were projected from a trio of projectors. Particularly striking were the video graphics for the song "Vitamin" from the "Tour De France Soundtracks" album. This featured images of pills of all shapes and colours spinning around in space as if in freefall.

Similarly, I found the video for "Trans Europe Express" quite hypnotic. At one point I even forgot the band were there, I was so transfixed with the visuals, which included lots of period footage of railways. The "Metal on Metal" sequence with the train buffers hitting one another in time with the metallic clanging of the music was particularly effective.

I was surprised that they played for so long (approx two hours). I have quite a few recordings of Kraftwerk live and I'd never heard a set as long as this. They played a section early on in the concert devoted to the "Tour De France Soundtracks" album, and re-visited this album for a couple of songs in the encore.

But they still found the time to play all the famous tunes, including - of course - "Autobahn", "Radioactivity" and "The Model".

I was beginning to worry that they wouldn't play any songs from the "Computer World" album (my fave Kraftwerk album), but following a break during which the curtain was drawn following "Trans Europe Express", they bounced back with a "Computer World" suite of songs - "Numbers" (which has got to have one of the most sampled rhythm tracks going), "Computer World", "Home Computer" and "Pocket Calculator". I must say I missed the mini "pocket calculator" synths - that song used to be so much fun when they performed it out on the front of the stage like that. Nevertheless, the visuals were amusing. Oh, and they had nice flashing LEDs on their ties during this segment of the show too.

Then the curtains were drawn again, and re-opened to the sounds of the song "The Robots" featuring the robots themselves! Yes, Kraftwerk's own mechanical doppelgangers are back on this tour. I liked the way they moved not quite in time with each other. I wonder if they are like furbies and learn from and imitate one another? The really funny thing about the appearance of the robots was that they got the biggest cheer of the night! The real Kraftwerk weren't even on the stage!

Another curtain fall and rise again, to reveal Kraftwerk in their now legendary fluorescent "wireframe" lycra outfits, and the show closed with "Elektro Kardiogramm", "Aero Dynamik" (the current single), and "Music Non Stop". This latter song they finished in time-honoured Kraftwerk fashion, each member playing a little solo section and then quitting the stage in turn, so that it ended with just Ralf on his own before he too bade us goodnight and left the stage.

So yeah, I missed the calculators, I missed the impressive looking banks of equipment that they used to have before going digital and networking four laptop PCs together. And, I have to be honest and say I missed Wolfgang and Karl, but hey, you've got to stop living in the past I suppose. I did prefer it when the percussionists were actually seen to be hitting things, that is playing their electronic drum kits. It's just not as visually pleasing when the guys are almost stationary whilst pressing keys behind their workstation.

The Times said that "They looked like a bunch of undertakers demonstrating the latest PlayStation console". What amused me, is that I thought they looked like the parody of Kraftwerk that appeared in one episode of Father Ted (an electronic group featuring four priests appearing at a Disco at the local village hall). Either that, or they looked like a bunch of Dads together. ("Oh, what's he doing down in that shed now? Playing with his pocket calculator again, no doubt.")

I'm off to see them again on Saturday. I'll try to remember to take my camera this time!

Set list:

The Man Machine
Expo
Tour De France 03 (Etape 3 / Chrono / Etape 2)
Vitamin
Tour De France
Autobahn
The Model
Neon Lights
Sellafield / Radioactivity
Trans Europe Express / Abzug / Metal on Metal
--(curtain)--
Numbers
Computer World
Home Computer
Pocket Calculator / Taschenrechner
--(curtain)--
The Robots
--(curtain)--
Elektro Kardiogramm
Aero Dynamik
Music Non Stop
posted by G L Wilson 11:00 pm [edit] 

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Off to see the lads from Dusseldorf tonight. Expect more on that story tomorrow!
posted by G L Wilson 2:44 pm [edit] 

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy

Emerald

Happy St Patrick's Day! (He was actually Welsh, you know. His Welsh name was Padraig.)

Nevertheless, for those in the mood for a bit of the Irish, here is THE Irish drinking song for you to download and enjoy:Me, I have the remains of a bottle of Jameson's to finish (Ghost and I demolished the best part of it at the weekend).

Cheers!
posted by G L Wilson 7:31 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Client, Oxford Zodiac, 10 March 2004

Whoops! I was going to write a review of that Client gig that I went to last Wednesday, wasn't I?

Well, I'm going to cheat a little bit, as the Beeb Beeb Ceeb have already done the job for me! See: Client + A Scholar & a Physician + Piney GIR - Zodiac

EXCEPT... whilst I agree with what the writer said about A Scholar and a Physician (I thought they were so bad that they were brilliant, if that makes sense) and Piney Gir (the synth and megaphone version of "My Generation" was fantastic!), I don't agree that Client were boring.

Their austereness is part of their charm - it's what they do! As Ghost said to me, they are like a female Kraftwerk.

I saw them last year supporting Karl Bartos, and again as on that occasion they had a guy at the back in charge of sequencers and the mix, and a guitarist/bassist fellow, but this time the performance was much more in keeping with what appears on their album (also called "Client"), and the guitar was not allowed to dominate. Which was a bit of a pity, I thought, as the addition of the extra guitar parts was an added bonus back at the Bartos gig and worked very nicely in a live situation.
posted by G L Wilson 10:12 am [edit] 

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Yesterday I had some personal family business to attend to. I don't want to go into too many details suffice it to say that it was my late brother's birthday and in tribute I went to visit the place where we scattered his ashes. This involved a couple of bus rides, about eight miles of walking and a very steep climb up a hillside.

What a day for it! I had twisted my ankle the night before, I woke up with tonsilitis, and overnight it had snowed quite heavily. Something was trying to stop me!

However, I'm not that easily thrown off course once I set my mind to something, and it took the best part of the day, but I got it all done. There were a couple of minor incidents such as when I accidentally took a step into a snowdrift and found myself waist-deep in snow, and later when I was trying to climb down a bank I slipped and fell quite heavily onto my back. (Ouch!)

Last night I watched the first part of this I'm Famous and Frightened thing on Living TV - eight celebrities have to spend a weekend in a haunted castle. It was actually much better than I imagined despite the annoying presenter and a very unconvincing spiritualist medium (he's no Derek Acorah). Big surprise of the night was Julie Goodyear (Bet Lynch from Coronation Street) who turned out to have psychic abilities.

Today I feel extremely tired both physically and mentally - yesterday took a lot out of me - so I'm going to do very little today. I have to go shopping and then that's it for me.

Oh, I might try to write about the Bellydancing and the Client gig earlier in the week. Stay tuned.
posted by G L Wilson 12:53 pm [edit] 

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Hello?...

Is anyone out there? Does no-one leave comments any more? I go to other people's blogs and their posts each have a whole host of comments. But here? Not a sausage.
posted by G L Wilson 9:26 am [edit] 

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

This time last year...

This morning I was leafing through a copy of Metro (a freebie London newspaper) on the train, and I found a section that listed the No.1 hit singles this time last year, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, etc.

One year ago, the No.1 record was "Beautiful" by the hideous Christina Aguilera. When she croaks "I am beautiful no matter what they say" it really sounds as if she's just trying to convince herself, as WE all know that she is a skinny bitch with access to a big box of make-up. If you scrubbed all that make-up off and whipped her wigs away and set them on fire just for the fun of it, then she'd be a very ordinary girl with nothing special about her whatsoever. Not that that in itself is a problem. It's her self-obsessed attitude that really stinks. But I have spoken about that already here.

Five years ago, Britney Spears was at the top of the charts with that "Hit Me Baby One More Time" pile of arse. FIVE years ago? Can it really be five years? Blinkin' flip, the years are rolling by far too quickly for my liking. How old is Britney Spears anyway? She still looks like a teenager to me, the only thing that occasionally makes her look more womanly is that fact that her breasts sometimes appear to be enormous, whilst at other times they would seem to be titcy. Are they inflatable perhaps?

Britney Spears is another girlie who'd look plain ordinary without the considerable talents of her make-up artist. Actually, if you look closely she does have this neanderthal-type heavy brow thing going on there. At certain angles she looks like someone did indeed hit her one more time - right between the eyes.

Ten years ago an even more hideous female singer (I use the term very loosely) was No.1. It was Mariah Carey and she was murdering "Without You" which until then had been a lovely song by Harry Nilsson. Why did she have to go and spoil it for everyone?

15 years ago, Simple Minds were No.1 with "Belfast Child"... Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

(Sorry, I fell asleep. What a boring record.)

20 years ago, the No.1 single in the charts was "99 Red Balloons" by Nena. I remember the first time this song was shown on Top Of The Pops, it was when the show were trying to be all clever and play hit singles from other countries, and they showed Nena - a german band, I believe - performing "99 Luftballoon" (the german language version).

"That'll never be a hit over here", I said to myself. How wrong I was! It was like my prediction regarding "Yes Sir, I Can Boogie" all over again. I always thought it was funny how Nena namechecks Captain Kirk in the lyrics of "99 Red Balloons", as if a Star Trek reference would make them cool. Utter tripe, this record, but easily the best of the bunch that I've presented here for you.

Why do the British public have such goddamn awful musical taste?
posted by G L Wilson 2:09 pm [edit] 

Monday, March 08, 2004

The Happiness Of The Katakuris

The Happiness Of The Katakuris
Those of you who used to stay up late to watch the comedy improv show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" on Channel 4 will remember that one round of the show was called "Film and Theatre Styles" and the contestants would have to improvise a scene, changing the style every 30 seconds or so to that of a different genre as suggested by members of the studio audience.

This weekend I watched the DVD of the japanese movie "The Happiness Of The Katakuris" by cult director Miike Takashi, and was reminded of the "Film and Theatre Styles" game, for this is a movie that transcends genres and which will quite happily switch from a live action scene at one moment, to a clay-mation animated scene the very next! The movie is so eclectic; just when you think you are watching a horror movie, the characters will suddenly burst into song, or perform a song and dance routine! One of the musical numbers even turns into a cheesy japanese karaoke video, and later on there is a dancing zombie sequence reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

This admittedly rather surreal movie has got it all: action, adventure, singing, dancing, animation, zombies and volcanoes! The basic plot is that a family have given up everything to go and live halfway up a mountainside where they open a guesthouse, but unfortunately with very little success. When they finally do get some custom, their guests each die under bizarre circumstances. Rather than alert the authorities and in so doing ruin the putative reputation of the guesthouse, the family decide to bury the bodies. Things are complicated with the arrival of an eccentric con-man claiming to be an US airforce pilot and the son of Queen Elizabeth II's illegitimate sister, and are exarcerbated further when a murderer on the run is encountered.

This film is so difficult to describe. The best advice I can offer if you are at all curious about it is to watch it! It is a fantastic movie and has been described as "Dawn of the Dead meets The Sound of Music". I personally feel that it's like a japanese version of Monty Python, what with the switches of genre, the songs, and the use of animation.

Utterly wonderful. *****

I bought mine on DVD from HMV (look in the World Cinema section) for £9.99, although you can of course get it from Amazon or play.com.
posted by G L Wilson 2:07 pm [edit] 

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Record Fair

I'm off to the Record Fair at Oxford Town Hall today. I have a nice wad of cash from the sale of the Kraftwerk Manchester tickets. I got £87 for two tickets that had costed me £50 (inc booking fees, postage, etc) last year. Can't be bad.

If I were a more dishonest person I would regularly buy tickets when concerts are first announced and then flog them nearer the date for a tidy profit. It's like when I found out that Goldfrapp were playing Somerset House last year. I'd heard about it too late - the gig was in about a week's time and was sold out, but I desperately wanted to go and ended up playing double the face value for a ticket on eBay. I'm glad I went though, it was gig of the year for me!
posted by G L Wilson 10:17 am [edit] 

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Most Haunted's Derek Acorah being all spooky, like

Spoongate

I've spent the past few days perusing the messages boards and forums on the internet devoted to Living TV's hit show Most Haunted, following a particular allegedly "paranormal" incident this weekend just gone during a two-part special of Most Haunted Live set in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Saturday night's proceedings got off to a slow start with Yvette Fielding, medium Derek Acorah and the crew visiting a couple of not-very-interesting supposedly haunted locations. Then they went to the Falstaffs Experience and things suddenly started happening. The filming crew's lights kept going out despite supposedly having been fully charged and someone or something was throwing lumps of coal and pebbles. The consensus of opinion on the show was that this was poltergeist activity. Following on from this Derek became possessed and had to be calmed down and led outside.

Following these dramatic events, I was keen to tune in to Sunday night's programme and I wasn't to be disappointed. At another location in Stratford-upon-Avon, the poltergeist activity re-surfaced when quite clearly a spoon was shown to be thrown from behind the camera (from the bottom left of the tv screen) over the shoulders of those in the shot and onto the floor. The crew all denied having had anything to do with it, and it certainly looked like evidence of paranormal activity.

So, what were we the audience to make of the spoon-thowing incident in Stratford-upon-Avon? It was certainly the most dramatic thing to be seen on Most Haunted thus far.

I can undestand why some people have suggested that it must have been thrown by one of the crew - I'm not saying that I believe this to be the case - just that I can understand this point of view. The spoon certainly came from the direction of the crew, although it must have been thrown from a crouching position.

I think Matthew Smith (the programme's resident skeptic, back in the control centre) receives far too much criticism. They need someone to present the skeptical side of things. I dearly want to believe Richard Felix (Most Haunted's historian chappy) when he says "We do not throw things, that would undermine what we do" (or words to that effect), but I think that we, the audience, need to have a little more than just his word to go on. Someone like Matthew Smith - or several someones - should be far more heavily involved, and should actually be there at each location with Yvette and Derek. Possibly this was the role envisaged for Phil Whyman who also takes part in the location investigations, but for the most part he stays silent and makes notes. We need someone there on the scene to present a balanced report on the proceedings.

Again, I don't want to believe that Derek Acorah is up to anything duplicitous. I like Derek a lot - he is a man with great charisma - but the skeptic must keep an open mind and at least acknowledge that he could be faking things. I mean, he could have dropped that lump of coal onto the floor on the Saturday night in the Falstaff Experience, after all this was when all had been plunged into darkness following the failure of the lights; he may have had it in his pocket. I don't believe that this was the case, I just want to point out the possibility.

Another interesting thing about the spoon-throwing incident was that Derek Acorah was incrediby quick to identify the object as being a spoon. He says "It's a spoon" to Yvette as she is freaking out, and then he repeats it much more clearly just before Phil Whyman picks it off the floor. Derek must have been at least six or seven feet away from the spoon at that point. So, does he have really good eyesight in the dark, or did Sam - his spirit guide - and/or the other spirits present tell him what it was?

The spoon incident does not give us any more evidence of the "paranormal". All it does is to raise more questions (as the aforementioned Most Haunted Forums and Message Boards currently bear testimony to).

Like Matthew Smith, I would like to see Most Haunted take a more scientific approach to their investigations. Some kind of adjudicator is needed, and the investigations need to be more controlled scientifically speaking.

It's still a fascinating television programme, but is it documentary or is it entertainment?
posted by G L Wilson 12:34 pm [edit] 

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Upcoming gigs...

All of a sudden I've got a few coming up, so this is just so I can keep track of them:
  • Wednesday 10 March, Client, The Zodiac, Oxford
  • Thursday 18 March, Kraftwerk, Royal Festival Hall, London
  • Saturday 20 March, Kraftwerk, Brixton Academy, London
  • Sunday 21 March, Sparks, Hackney Ocean, London
  • Friday 26 - Sunday 28 March, Punk Aid (inc. The Damned, Hugh Cornwell, The Beat, Teasing LuLu, etc), Great Yarmouth
  • Tuesday 30 March, The Rutles / Wreckless Eric, The 100 Club, London
That's a few to be going on with!
posted by G L Wilson 1:31 pm [edit]