Monday, 30 November 2009

Bon Jovi DVD

It's been a while and to be honest, I've been rather busy with uni work and visits home. I have, however, found the time to purchase and indulge in the new live Bon Jovi DVD. I know now that if you're a reader and see Bon Jovi in the title, you're likely to skim through the post at best, but it's kinda what this blog is based around so you'll have to bear with me!
The concert was filmed on the last night of last year's highest grossing concert; the Lost Highway tour, at Madison Square Garden in New York. It was weird seeing the guys playing inside and on such a small stage, and Jon looked like a caged animal making as many footprints as possible across all corners. The mixing of the concert continued on from the band's personal insights of late, and I really enjoyed the many close-ups and extended shots, particulary of the drummer, Tico Torres. He's a complete powerhouse and you can just see the passion with which he plays. His fills and movements and mannerisms are HUGE but he's always got one eye on Jon at the front; they are by far the tightest unit of that band. Having said that, the concert felt like it was all about guitarist Richie Sambora, who's awe-inspiring guitar solos never cease to amaze me. If you're not a fan, chances are you might not still be reading! But as I've said before, it's probably not for you although I'm sure people would be hard pushed to admit that they don't put on a good show.

In other news, I went home for the first time since August this weekend just gone and it was so lovely and equally so weird being back in Glastonbury. Just walking into my local supermarket I instantly recognised a handful of faces; places really don't change. I'll be back in 2 weeks for Christmas though and look forward to a lengthy visit. I've got my uni gig next week, although I'm doing 2 sets; I'm having to learn a whole new set with just 2 more rehearsals left to go filling in for another drummer who has damaged his wrist! But the show must go on and I'm lucky really to be getting an extended amount of time onstage. It will be weird being in my most comfortable environment but playing to a room full of musicians who I feel will be stipulating my every move, although that will only really most likely be true for the drummers.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Seal/Imelda May/Sugarland

Abbey Road Studio Sessions

I'm currently watching the fantastic Abbey Road Studio sessions with three brilliant artists. Seal is the main performer, and I adore his incredibly soulful voice complete with fab band and large sting orchestra.

I'd never heard Imelda May but my foot was tapping right from the off to her eclectic blend of Irish folk/blues/jazz. I love the touch of the 50s-esque rock and roll guitar with the jazziness of the trumpet and upright bass; a real stomping performance.

For me though, the show was stolen by country duo Sugarland. I was first introduced to them back in 2006 when Jennifer Nettles did a country version of Bon Jovi's Who Says You Can't Go Home with the band, and it was thanks to her that made Bon Jovi the first rock band to top the Country charts in America and even win a CMA. She was today performing though with Sugarland and her voice grabs you tight and just does not let go; it's so Southern and just how you might imitate Dolly Parton et al. All three pieces were very much country ballads with mandolin and acoustic guitar but so very heartfelt and enjoyable; the feeling and passion is so raw and true and I totally urge you to check them out.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Bon Jovi on BBC Radio 2 LIVE!

Check out this exclusive video on the BBC Radio 2 site following Bon Jovi's show at the BBC Radio Theatre earlier this month here. Video is available in the UK only until 21/11/09.

Here's the set-list:

'We Weren't Born To Follow'
'Who Says You Can't Go Home'
'You Give Love A Bad Name'
'Work For The Working Man'
'Whole Lot Of Leaving'
'Livin' On A Prayer'
'When We Were Beautiful'
'It's My Life'
'Superman Tonight'
'Wanted Dead Or Alive'

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Learn To Love

These lyrics really stood out for some reason this afternoon so I thought I'd share them. Also, have a listen to Jace Everett: Greatest Story (Never Told) it's a fantastic song!

I have run from the truth
Since the days of my miss-spent youth
I was hungry for kindness
I was lost in life's blindness
When you're born without wings
All you dream of all you want
Is that feeling of flying
Of rising and climbing

Halle Halle
We're one breath away
Halle Halle
From our judgement day

You leave it all on the table
If you lose or you win
You've got to learn to love
The world you're living in

Always thought I’d die young
In these hands I help the gun
But it's too late for dying
Now there's nothing worth hiding
I've lost love lived with shame
I was humbled by my fall from grace
On the steps of decision
It's revenge or forgiveness

Halle Halle
And that's how it is
You've got to learn to love
The world you're living in

Sunday, 8 November 2009

the fiX factor

OK we all need to calm down, including me. In a fit of rage following the X Factor and Simon Cowell's stupid decision, I'm going to tell you exactly what is wrong with it. As a viewer, I find the X Factor mildly entertaining and enjoy debating what happens. As a musician, on a more serious note, I understand that actually, today's modern popstar has no other choice or avenue really within which they are able to break into the music industry without winning these silly talent shows. And even when they do, they're expected to compete with critically-acclaimed artists and make an impact with their very first album, when in fact most of the bands that have survived at least a good 20 years really needed, and were allowed the time given, in their first 2 albums the time to grow and develop, most often hitting it with their third shot.
So, John and bloody Edward. People say they're only 17, doesn't matter. People say they're entertaining, unimportant. It's a singing competition. And if this really is the only way that people can 'make it' these days, for pop artists at least, then surely this makes a mockery of the whole system and Jedward would have been better suited on Britain's Got Talent where it isn't purely about the singing.
I have taken part in many local Battle of the Bands, but have never won. You might think nothing of that statement, but usually these either rely on the popularity of the band in question and how many fans they bring along, or based on a very loose judging criteria by the butcher and the local paper's ents writer. I have stood in the wings and listened to an audience chant the name of my band as the judges read out someone else. I've also lost out to a band who were glued to the stage when mine had the energy of a Red Bull Factory, and the performance was based on stage presence. It's annoying at the time, sure, but you just shrug it off. It's no big deal, no big band has ever shot to fame after winning £500 at their local Salvation Army/Working Man's club/Leisure Centre. In short, there really is no difference between The X Factor and a local BOTB; it's a fix from the bottom to the top and there really is no hope for today's modern popstar if their only chance of breaking into this fickle business is through these stupid shows. My advice is this: if you are a club singer looking to hit the commerical music industry, 2 years ago I would have said get on The X Factor/Idol/Fame Academy whatever, because that's the way to go. As a band, it's all about the live experience you pick up and is as much as who you know as it is where you are at the time in what trend, playing what music, in what scene. So just get out there and play. Gone are the days when you might take your demo to a radio station in the hope that they'd like it enough to play it and that other stations would catch on and people might even request it. When I was in my first and most locally successful band, that was the biggest thing and I had no doubt that we'd go all the way, whatever that meant at the time. I applied for uni reluctantly as a Plan B. Had I not, what with the unforseen circumstances that soon followed, I'd be stuck at the bottom of the ladder again still playing the same little pubs in Somerset and looking for a job. Coming to uni was definitely the best thing I could have done, because I'm now afforded the 3 years of experience, education and advice that I hope will put me in really good stead to make a career in music, ideally with a band I get going with along the way. Nobody ever got a record deal just because they walked into a studio and produced their music degree, granted, but I know now this time for me is all about the experience I can gain and feel more positive about the future than ever. In the meantime, for GOD'S sake what is wrong with this Country; get those twins OUT!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Circle

Bon Jovi's new single We Weren't Born To Follow has been doing the rounds on UK tv and radio this past week. It's a great thing for the fans to catch a mimed (with live vocal) performance on shows like the X Factor and the National Lottery but I think everyone who could have taken notice would have done by now; I don't think they'll be picking up many more new fans with the publicity. And that's fine by me, as a diehard fan, because I know they've found that new sound since Crush in 2000 with It's My Life and, since then, have stuck at that tried and tested recipe that they know works. I've had a week with their new album, The Circle, and have of course had it on repeat and feel I can pass opinion on it now it's had a real good listen out of it. My first observations relate to my previous comments about the song-writing recipe; I don't know if it's because of the fact that they've found the real sound that works for them or simply because after 25 years there's only so many chord progressions you can play without completely changing your style of music. But when I listened to the album for the first time there were many tracks that I thought 'that sounds like it could have been on Bounce' (2003) and 'that sounded like it should have been on Have a Nice Day' (2005) and even 'that could have come straight from [Jon's solo effort] Destination Anywhere' (1997). You pick out the familiar drum breaks, guitar solos and lyrical phrases a little too easy which I guess could be seen as a bad thing, but it's probably just what I and many others will seek comfort in hearing. The longevity of Bon Jovi's career is owed to just that; not jumping on the band wagon of what is popular at the time and simply sticking to what they know and do best, and that is why their fanbase is so loyal (OK there might be a few membership cancellations with the o2 ticket prices but that's a whole other argument).
In short, this is certainly an easy review for the critics to write about. They'll all use the same 'intimate verses and fist-pumping choruses' jargon and maybe namedrop 'Sambora solos' and relate something somehow to Tommy and Gina in Prayer and finish up by telling you to 'dust off your leather jacket and fluff up your hair' before giving it a measly 3 out of 10, but in the words of David Bryan, "We've never been the critic's darling". Personally, I certainly love what I've heard so far, and all the tracks sound strong standing up on their own; there doesn't seem to be any fillers for the sake of the dynamic journey of the album, all of the songs really are strong in their own rights. And having said that they're not really pushing the song-writing boat out, they are just enough for us to find a rare gem in When We Were Beautiful and some really nice little bursts of talkbox that still sound fresh. Overall, as a real fan I love it. If you're not a fan, it [robably won't stand out to you but you had your chance to be lured into the circle a long time ago now when It's My Life brought about a whole new generation of fans (including this one) and since Crush, the records have only ever been for the fans. It's a little too early to pitch it for 'best album' against These Days but it certainly isn't ruled out as a contender.
Talking of publicity, I did really enjoy the 2-song set they did for the Radio 1 Live Lounge, check out the videos on Youtube of We Weren't Born To Follow and Prayer acoustic.
The picture above is of my Bon Jovi tattoo that I wanted to share :)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Jace Everett/Green Day

Just wanted to share a new artist I've discovered this week. If you are a fan of True Blood (USA/UK) then you might remember the ultra cool theme music to the show. Well the artist is Nashville sensation Jace Everett and he sounds fantastic. It's a real dark and dingy rock/blues kinda thing, think Nashville after dark, and just what you'd expect to be fronting an American show about sexy vampires. But musically it's wicked and I was very pleased to discover some other tracks of his!

In other music news, I went to Birmingham to see Green Day this week. I don't own any of their albums personally, although found myself up against the barrier as Billie Joe stormed onto the stage and, for the preceeding two and a half hours, was crushed and mashed and squashed along with thousands of others but actually really enjoyed it. They played a good handful of songs I could at least singalong to the choruses of and put on a great, fun rock show. Tonight, Bon Jovi are performing live on the UK's X Factor (ITV, 8pm) for which I am very excited and the new album is out tomorrow! I'm sure I'll have a review up soon :)