Public Service Broadcasting, Brixton Academy


Breaking this long blog fast to briefly wax lyrical about Sunday’s gig action, Public Service Broadcasting at Brixton Academy.

For the uninitiated, PSB take audio (and, when playing live, visuals) from old newsreels and archive footage and set it to music. They’ve released two terrific albums – Inform-Educate-Entertain (2012), featuring archival material from everything from the building of the first Spitfire to the ascent of Everest, and this year’s The Race For Space, which brings together original NASA and Soviet cosmonaut recordings with political speeches and more.

To be honest, I could waste half a page of words on how the band had every person in the room transfixed from the moment the narrator announced their presence. How an eerie tremor rippled through the audience as air raid sirens went off and Blitz-like searchlights scanned the venue (‘London Can Take It’). How we all held our breath as Apollo 8 went behind the moon, and cheered like fools, like our lives depended on it, like we were actually there, when it successfully emerged (‘The Other Side’). How this half-Kiwi felt some patriotic pride for the first time in perhaps ever when Hillary’s gnarled mug filled the screens en route to knocking the bastard off (‘Everest‘), before snow filled the Academy and everyone smiled themselves silly.

Or you could just watch it. Go! (Or enjoy ALL THE BRASS action with Gagarin.)

Postscript: This was the first gig I’d been to since the Bataclan attacks and there was a slight but definite sense of unease among the crowd, especially where we were, at the very back of the hall. At one point a minor scuffle broke out with a security guard at the door and every head in the vicinity turned to see what it was – and kept looking back over their shoulder for the next five minutes. What went on in that concert hall in Paris simply doesn’t bear thinking about.

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Love Do Me Right, Rockin’ Horse

Discovered this tucked away in the S Memo app (who knew?) on my battered old Samsung phone. No recollection whatsoever of where I might have heard it or indeed how I managed to type it, but it’s a cracker all the way back from the year I was born (1975, fact fans).

With a definite nod to Babe Ruth’s The Mexican, released two years earlier, this develops into something all its own: essential fat-bassed, organ-led 70s funk-rock. This Rub N Tug edit from 2005 is quite something too.

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Fantastic Four, I Got To Have Your Love

Stumbled across this album the other day and good god, what a tune. Makes my heart sing and my ass cut a rug. Superb.

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Rose Royce – RR Express

Been rather busy of late setting up a certain shop that, if you like the music on these pages (as well as great beer and hot-as-hell chilli sauce), you may enjoy. More details soon…

In the meantime, by way of procrastination, I’ve been going through the last few years’ worth of Shazam tags on my phone, and hot damn there are some great ones, forgotten in the mists of time and booze.

Here’s a Rose Royce stunner – in all its 12-minute glory – from 19 January 2014. No idea where I was (Facebook gives no clue but perhaps a Lucky Cloud Loft party?). Obviously a good night as I managed to also tag this Wild Rumpus gem (lending further weight to the Loft theory, run of course by half of Wild Rumpus, the mighty Colleen Cosmo Murphy).

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Oneohtrix Point Never, Zebra

Off the forthcoming Franz Ferdinand Late Night Tales. Thoroughly discombobulating.

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Buffalo, Magic Carpet Ride

Stumbled upon this c/o Psychemagik‘s most excellent 2010 Blackout ’77 mix. It’s sublimely ridiculous – I think I might just like it more than the original, which I also LOVE. For full effect, hear it in situ in the Psychemagik mix here.


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Kelis, Millionaire

Not a track I ever thought I’d post here, but damn, did it hit the spot at a strange little Loughborough Junction party post the Lambeth Country Show at the weekend. Note to self: if your party is feeling a little tired, put this on and watch the ladies (and laddies) go wild.

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Franz Ferdinand @ Somerset House

Franz Ferdinand were brilliant at Somerset House last night, There, I said it. Straight in to the top 5 gigs of 2014 for me, and good to see the chaps haven’t lost any of their lustre since the last time I saw them, a rather frightening eight years ago.

In fact, I’d wager they’re better than ever. Alex is still archly dramatic (and devastatingly dashing), Nick attacks that ukulele-height guitar like a frenetic George Formby, Bob – rock’s teddy bear of bass – continues to look adorably bemused by his bandmates while laying down top rhythm, and Paul still bashes those skins to within an inch of their lives (and I particularly liked the Shack Up break you sneaked in there, sir!).


Standouts included old favourites Michael (still conjuring up the Optimo hedonism after all these years), Matinee and Take Me Out (probably the most rollicking singalong I’ve seen this year), Can’t Stop Feeling and Ulysses, which (possibly – I had drunk a bit by this stage) segued into the set closer Outsiders by way of an incredible ‘all hands on deck’ group drum-off. Jolly times at the encore too – it’s always better on holiday with Jacqueline, and Lovers and Friends jumbled up with a bit of Fat White Family’s Touch The Leather worked a treat too, before a ferocious This Fire finished the night.

To be honest there was little to find fault with. (Except perhaps the oldest crowd I’ve seen since Paul Simon – a side effect of giving Amex cardholders cheap tickets. Having said that, most of the fogeys rocked out – and perhaps I’m just scared due to fogeyism being just over the hill for me. How old is too old to lose your shit to Tell Her Tonight?)

Actually, I’m conscious as I write this that I said pretty much the same thing – “It was ALL good” – the first time I blogged about the Franz after their stunning Astoria gig in May 2004. Delving into the archives shows that this is indeed true, and so for comedy cringe value, I post that “review” below.


From the vaults: 2004

“Well, it’s morning (actually, it’s almost afternoon – yikes, that’ll learn me for sleeping in) and I have to confess that, sadly, I am not Mrs Alex Kapranos. Yet.

My dream of a midnight wedding ceremony was sorely dashed by the fact that the post-gig party at Infinity required crew passes and no amount of blagging and “But we’re with the band (‘s mates)” was going to get us in without one. Never mind – I have it on good authority the lads may be enticed down to a certain South London lock-in tonight, and as they say, these boots were made for stalkin’…

Anyway, to the gig, damn it, and what a gig – unanimously agreed to be the best of recent times. It takes a lot to keep this jaded old nag bouncing all night but the Weegie lads accomplished the feat. Pal Matty noted, and I agree, that they’re probably not quite at the top of their game just yet, but when they do reach their peak – and that moment can’t be far away – it will be a sight to behold indeed.

Not that I’m dissing any aspect of last night’s performance. Oh no. Musically, they’re tight as you like (all hail brilliantly frenetic guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Nick McCarthy and rock-solid drummer Paul Thomson), and their on-stage presence is a sheer delight – the perfect blend of camp Jagger-esque swagger and endearing “All this? For us?” bemusement.

Best tracks? God, so many. Obviously the singles were winners, but top of my list were opening track Tell Her Tonight, personal faves Michael and JacquelineDarts Of Pleasure B-side Van Tango, and 40 Feet and This Fire (set-closer and encore-closer respectively). Actually, that’s practically 70% of their repertoire. OK, I liked it ALL. And did I mention Alex Kapranos is sex in a very tight shirt? (He will be mine.)”

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Manuel Göttsching, E2-E4

Classic Album Sundays presents this most sublime record next Sunday 20th July at the new and sonically amazing Brilliant Corners in Kingsland Rd. One not to miss.

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The annual Glastonbury review (part 3)

Finally! We’ve reached the end! No more talk of the Great Big Festival that obsesses me and half the British population each June! (Until next year, that is, when it all starts all over again.)

I mentioned in the last post how miraculous it is that Glastonbury goers can keep going at such a frenetic pace for so long. I also said something about it being “always with a smile on your face”. Here I may have slightly massaged the truth, for there’s no doubt that by Sunday morning, the scratchiness has set in. A mixture of sad acknowledgement that this is the final day combined with 96 hours’ worth of late nights and good times catching up with you, and there’s no doubt it can be hard to get moving.

But after a rough start (waking to the realisation my wallet had gone AWOL somewhere between our 5am chai at the Lizard Cafe and our South Park camping spot, and fighting through the biggest crowd ever assembled on the Pyramid Stage field), it simply took a “Well, howdy” from Dolly to make everything OK again. Yet again, our Glastonbury Sunday turned out to be the very best day of the festival.


The fabulous Team South Park do Dolly as she’s meant to be done

#1: Tankus the Henge and friends, Lizard Cafe, silly o’clock, Monday morning

Literally stumbled across this while staggering back to our tents veeeery late / early on Monday morning. If there’s a better way to end a festival than arm-in-arm with 30 strangers, chanting along with the wildest New Orleans-style steam piano band this side of Louisiana (“We’re licking Arcadia, licking it til it rusts!”), then I’d like to hear it.


#2: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, John Peel Stage, Sun

Been waiting a ridiculously long time to see this band, Anton Newcombe is a long-time hero and Joel Gion remains both the coolest and, conversely, most ridiculous man on the planet. There’s something fascinating about their stage presence – as the band members talk, laugh and bicker among themselves (no biffo this time), it’s as if you’ve stumbled across a stoned jam in their lounge. (And sorry, kids, cigarettes ARE still cool when the BJM smoke them.)  Their swirly, woozy sound was the perfect tonic for swirly, woozy Sunday brains. I’d urge you to watch the full set on iPlayer while you can. Truly sublime.


#3: Jagwar Ma, Williams Green, Sun

We’d heard an enormous amount of hype about these Australians – and wow, did they live up to it. They’d played earlier in the weekend, in torrential rain on the Park stage, but Sunday night at Williams Green is where they really cut loose. Perfect, sub-105bpm driving beats saw us lose our collective shit and dance our asses off, emerging out the other side as flushed, sweaty, delirious messes, believing we’d been in the presence of genius. Like the best bits of Weatherall-era Primal Scream, Tame Impala, the Beach Boys, Happy Mondays and yes, even the BJM, all rolled into one incredible package. (No video seems to exist of the Williams Green gig but this gets somewhere near.)


#4: Strummerville, Sun

Don’t know how many hours we lost sitting around the Strummerville campfire sharing jokes and stories with a bunch of new friends. Thank you for leaving us such a wonderful legacy, Joe.


[Pic c/o this blog – thanks]

#5: Weapons of Mass Percussion, Sensation Seekers Stage, Sun



And of course, where would we be without Dolly? Did she mime? Do we care? No. Marvellous.

Huge thanks to all who helped make our Glastonbury 2014 experience so incredible yet again – the 100+ artists, big and small, who we managed to catch during our time there; the stall-holders for feeding and watering us so well; and above all, the fabulous bunch who are Team South Park, who not only ensure we all get tickets every year but that we have the very best time when we get there. I can’t wait to do it all again with you next year. xx


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