Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Roaring Forties

The Roaring Forties
Cos he's the Shiek of Cork City!

The Roaring Forties
Last of the Mohicans

The Roaring Forties
Seems like a good idea when you're drunk!

The Roaring Forties
George and Magnum discuss fashion.

The Roaring Forties
Back when socks were cool!

The Roaring Forties are playing at the Half Moon this Friday evening and to be honest I just can’t wait and I’m looking forward to a really good show. I haven’t seen them live in what seems like ages, I think the last time was in December during the week before Christmas so I’m well due a fix by now. Furthermore, as I have now officially decided that The Roaring Forties are one of my all-time favourite bands, the time has come to celebrate this wondrous epiphany by explaining to you all what makes them so damn great. (Look, I really resent the fact that some of you are already thinking that this is nothing more than a cheap shot at trying to get on the guest list!)

The Roaring Forties are fun! Yes, fun I say, you know that thing that you used to love when you were a kid. Of course by now it’s probably been beaten out of most of you and some of you might have only a vague glimmer of what having fun used to feel like. However, fret not, for help is at hand in the form of this wonderful band and if you want a great night out that is guaranteed to wash away the cobwebs and bring a big beaming smile to your inner child then you really owe it to yourself to get your ass down to the Half Moon on Friday. (Anyway, I’d be more than happy to pay to see them play, come on, guest lists are for cheapskates.)

The Roaring Forties are funny! No, this is not the same as the previous point as fun and funny are two completely different things altogether. Ok, fair enough, they’re not all funny... look, alright, alright, I’ll admit that apart from Julian’s suits (thanks for the complimentary tickets to the Bubble Brothers’ Wine Bash by way, legend man) that George is the only funny one but he’s funny enough to make up for rest of those moody feckers although in fairness to Julian he does make a reasonable effort and does smile a lot while drumming. But I digress, George is a funny guy and if his off the cuff quips don’t bring a smile to your face then I’m afraid there’s simply no hope for you. Just take a look at some of the photos to the left and come to your own conclusions. (In fairness, I’d be totally mortified and embarrassed if I was put on the guest list.)

The Roaring Forties encourage dancing! Stop, don’t panic, dancing is good. No matter what bullshit you feed me, I know you wallflowers are not truly happy standing there with that grim countenance and glazed “you must be fucking joking if you think you’re getting me out there” look across your face. Anyway, it matters not because it’s practically impossible to spend the night sitting on your ass at a Roaring Forties gig. Their infectious swing jazz rhythms will not so much gently coax you out of your seat and onto the dance floor but are more likely to light a stick of dynamite under your chair and strongly urge you to get your ass on the floor while you still can. Once you’re there, you can prance about like an idiot just like the rest of us, except for George of course, who is a very good dancer, why he hasn’t yet appeared on “Celebrity Strictly Come Dancing” is an absolute mystery to me. (Look, I’m not just buttering up George to try and get on the guest list, what is wrong with you people!)

The Roaring Forties are talented! What, you thought I was just buying into the image without worrying about the substance. I’m afraid not, unfortunately I’ll have to admit that they’re also a very talented bunch of musicians. (As if they’re frickin’ heads weren’t big enough already, now they’re just going to be insufferable.) I have to say that I was totally blown away the first time I heard Gareth’s guitar playing, he was like Django Reinhardt on acid, although now that he has left, I’m looking forward to hearing Pedro play. And I suppose you’re right, the geezer that does the singing - what his name again? - he’s not bad either I suppose. (Like, they probably don’t even have a guest list and if they do then it’s probably full anyway.)

The Roaring Forties are nice! No, I don’t mean like ice-cream or jelly babies, I mean they’re nice people. You know, the kind of guys who could play in your granny’s front room without making a mess or breaking any of the good china. Seriously though, these guys are just nice decent people who probably wouldn’t cross to the other side of the street to avoid you and who are very friendly and approachable and who are mainly concerned with ensuring that you have a terrific night out when you come to see them. And if you can’t make it on Friday then be sure to check out the gig list on their website so that you can catch them another night. Take it from me, you won’t be sorry. (Now if that doesn’t get me on the fucking guest list then I frickin’ give up!)

The Roaring Forties The Half Moon Theatre Bubble Brothers Strictly Come Dancing Django Reinhardt

Since posting this, I have been informed that this is possible one of the most sycophantic, vomit inducing, subtle as a brick posts that I have ever written and that some of you are still cringing in embarrassment on my behalf. Damn, what can I say... I was just trying to be nice and a little funny at the same time. Look, never mind, just look at the pictures and ignore the words. :-)

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Public Enemy at the Savoy

Public Enemy Logo
The infamous PE logo!

Public Enemy Flavor Flav
Flavor Flav rocks the Savoy!

Public Enemy Savoy
Some of the crowd knew what time it was!

Public Enemy Chuck D Stevie G
Chuck D and Stevie G

Earlier this week, Public Enemy played at the Savoy. Yes, that’s right, Public Enemy, one of the greatest hip hop groups of all time played in this here great People’s Republic of Cork for the first and possibly only time ever! While it might be fair to say that on a musical level Public Enemy have waned in the last ten years and have never quite managed to regain the inspirational heights of their first ten years, apart from the odd track here and there, it is important to look at Public Enemy from the right perspective.

Personally, I still remember the first time I listened to "Yo! Bumrush The Show", their first album, on a bootleg tape that some very kind hip hop heads in Carrigaline made for me as it was practically impossible to find any hip hop music in Cork back in those days. To say that I was literally blown away would be an understatement, the entire album was simply brilliant, an incredible synthesis of intelligent militant lyrics and skilfully crafted beats combined together into the distinctive PE sound that sent shockwaves through the commercial music world and added further fuel to the continued rise of Def Jam Recordings, who had already unleashed LL Cool J and were fast becoming one of the most pivotal and influential hip hop labels of the time.

Anyway, as luck would have it, I was on the guest list again, yes, I know, that’s twice in one week but you should never look a gift horse in the mouth apparently, so I convinced my good friend Betty the Sheep to tag along with me (you can read her musings about the night by clicking here) and I treated my younger brother, who’s a mad hip hop fan, to a ticket because that’s just how nice I am. :-) So off we went like the three musketeers sans D’Arthagnan on our merry way. Unfortunately, we missed Arm The Elderly, the support act, as we stopped for a drink at the Woodford on the way but I’m pretty sure that they didn’t notice that we were missing and I suspect they must have been thrilled to play support to the likes of Public Enemy.

When Chuck D and Professor Griff appeared on stage I was a little overawed and when Flavor Flav finally came out, the whole place erupted into applause. Come on, who doesn’t like Flavor Flav??? The guys a frickin’ legend and like don’t you just have to dig those clocks! To their credit, PE started churning out the hits from the get go and the large crowd seemed to be really enjoying it all and I’d wager that most of them were more than a little wrecked by the time the band left the stage over two hours later.

While personally I really enjoyed the gig and thought it was good if not brilliant, their sound felt more like a rock group than a hip hop group and given that they had a drummer and two guitarists playing with them, I suppose this isn’t surprising. However, my main complaint in this respect would be that this is not the same Public Enemy you would hear on one of their albums, in fact it’s an entirely different PE sound. Ok, I admit that it’s probably difficult to replicate in a live context the production techniques that go into generating a studio hip hop sound and also that many people might really enjoy the alternative live PE sound but for me personally it just wasn’t the same. On the other hand, seeing Public Enemy in the flesh was an experience in its own right and, at the end of the day, was well worth the effort. :-)

(By the way, thanks to Stevie G for letting me steal his photos without busting a cap in my ass!)

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DJ Cash Money at the Savoy

DJ Cash Money
Girls always like some Cash Money!

Stevie G
Stevie G and Cash Money's MC

DJ Cash Money Where's The Party At
My signed copy of "Where's The Party At?"

The last time DJ Cash Money was in town he played on a Sunday night and as we were a little wrecked we ended up having to leave just as things were livening up, as related in one of my previous posts. Fortunately, he was back again last weekend and this time round he was playing on a Friday night, which meant that we were able to sample the full delights of his show.

As our names had been added to the guest list (oh, how posh), the night started well as it’s always nice to wander in fashionably late, declare that you are on “the list” and toddle in for free, it kind of leaves a warm cheap glow in your pocket. This time round, Cash Money started banging out the tunes from the word go, in stark contrast to the previous gig where he slowly built things up for the first hour or so and then began to get things moving just as we had to leave. However, I would have liked if he had played a few more old school hip hop tunes rather than churning out the crowd pleasers but I suppose it’s hard to please everyone all of the time.

At this point, I’d like to give a mention to the really friendly but kind of freaky guy who came up to us out of the blue and told us that if we’d both dance with him for ten minutes that he’d go away and leave us alone, I think he said his name was Kieran but I’m not sure. Anyway, a pretty surreal bout of dancing ensued with all kinds of freaky vogue like moves, interspersed with quizzical glances between the two of us, both of us worriedly wondering how long it would be before he asked us if we fancied a threesome! Luckily, he was true to his word and once the dancing was done he just wandered off to find his next victims. Oddly enough, for some reason we seem to attract that kind of lunatic fringe attention but it was kind of fun at the time!

Finally, I’d just like to thank Stevie G for introducing me to Cash Money afterwards, who graciously signed my copy of his 1988 album, "Where’s The Party At," which I had brought with me just in case I got the opportunity to get it signed... sad I know but we all have our little foibles. :-)

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Irish Weather

Smart Telecom It's simple to be Smart

Two of my pet hates are the weather and Irish. Not the actual real weather you understand, in fairness things would be kind of boring if we didn’t have weather not to mention the fact that you’d have nothing to talk about with strangers. No, I’m talking about weather forecasts on radio and television and while I’m at it I might as well take a swipe at all those sad people who insist on watching the weather forecast - “I’ll just hang on here now to see the weather forecast after the news” - with a strange look in their eyes like they’re getting some kind of freaky satisfaction out of it or something. My attitude is that I can’t fecking change it so I don’t frickin’ care, I suppose I reckon one’s attitude to the weather should be like assessing your chances with a woman, it’s probably best to just remain optimistic and simply hope for the best.

As for Irish, don’t get me started! Apart from the fact that it’s always fun to tease the die hard Gaelgoers, if not a little too easy, any residual love that I might have harboured for our native language was firmly thrashed out of me during thirteen years of torture inflicted upon me by the State and their insistence that I would learn Irish whether or not I really wanted to. In fact I would be willing to go further and argue that it is the actions of the uncompromising Irish lobby that are directly responsible for the poor regard in which me and many others hold the Irish language. Even more so, given the findings of recent studies that show that the level of Irish proficiency is nothing short of shocking given the obscene amount of money being spent teaching it, how long more will it take for common sense to prevail and for everyone to realise that forcing children and teenagers to learn something that has little practical use for most of them is not the way to endear them to the very thing you’re trying to promote and foster. Well, you get the picture, I hated Irish in school but the short-sighted bastards still forced me to do it, you wouldn’t believe how angry I feel when I think about how much I could have learned about other things of interest to me instead.

Now that you have an idea from where I’m coming in relation to both the weather and Irish, you can imagine my own incredulity at the fact that I now find that an unexpected combination of both the weather and Irish is forcing me to see both in an entirely new light! Unfortunately, even though I struggled hard and tried not to succumb, I’m afraid the unrelenting charms of the TG4 weather girls finally got to me in the end. Look, I’m only a weak man and I challenge any red-blooded male out there amongst you to deny that there’s not something incredibly sexy about those pretty TG4 weather girls blabbering away in Irish about the frickin’ weather of all things. Brought up on a strict RTE weather diet, Evelyn Cusack never did much for me when she rambled on about cold fronts, showers and gale force winds. Although in fairness, she has put in a good effort in recent years and looks a lot more stylish these days in stark contrast to the drab years of old. However, I’m afraid she just hasn’t a hope in Hell of competing with the likes of Aoife, Maighréad and Sinéad from TG4. Obviously they’re good looking and wear beautiful fashionable clothes that effectively enhance their overall appearance but, for me at least, it’s the way the Irish rolls of their tongues that turns the whole thing into something far more alluring - clocha sneachta, scamaill eadtrom, tintreach, báisteach, grianmhar - never have these words sounded so sexy as when they’re being spoken by a TG4 weather girl!

Personally, I think TG4 should be wholly applauded for their sterling efforts in bringing Irish to the masses in a manner that doesn’t immediately turn me off. And while the lads are well catered for, in fairness to TG4 there’s something for the ladies as well in the form of the inimitable Dáithí Ó Sé, a far cry from RTE’s poster boy, Gerald Fleming. Yes, I think all of you ladies would probably agree that if Dáithí borrowed Gerald’s famous catch phrase and said “goodnight to ya” with a little wink in his eye that it would be an entirely more satisfying experience!

Finally, I’ll close by mentioning that the TG4 weather is still sponsored by Smart Telecom and given the recent misfortunes of said company, I thought it was quite funny when the Smart Telecom advertisement appeared after the weather last night with the immortally priceless ironic phrase that it’s simple to be smart! Somehow I suspect that the interpretation that immediately popped into my head was not quite the kind of “simple” their marketing gurus originally had in mind...

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