Preview – Creation Day Festival

Creation Day, West Park, Wolverhampton, 29-30 May 2021

If you had to choose someone to curate a new music festival, it’s unlikely anyone would argue that Alan McGee would be a good call. Founder of the legendary Creation Records and a great supporter of new music, his long-standing involvement with and insight into the industry is something to behold. And with an impressive roll call of artists already announced, the inaugural Creation Day is booked for the last weekend in May 2021, headlined by Happy Mondays and Editors.


On the Saturday, Ian McCulloch will be dusting off his shades to bring Echo and the Bunnymen to the stage amidst their recently announced tour, while Shaun Ryder will be making his first appearance of the day with the illustrious Black Grape. Sunday sees long time McGee mentees Glasvegas making what will surely be one of the highlights of the weekend with an always powerful performance and presumably more shades.

Still a huge champion of rising talent, McGee also includes a swathe of newer acts on the bill, the likes of CAT SFX, The Clockworks and Heavy Lungs all set to showcase their music. 

Limited first release tickets go on presale tomorrow, 21st October at 10am, followed by general sale on 23rd October at 10am.

Weekend tickets are priced at £110, day tickets at £55, booking fees apply. Factoring in current Covid-19 restrictions, limited numbers of tickets will be on sale at a time and this will be reviewed in adherence with national guidelines.

Check the website for further details and to purchase tickets.

Words by Siobhan

20th October 2020

Book Club – John Cooper Clarke: I Wanna Be Yours

John Cooper Clarke: I Wanna Be Yours

The tale of a young lad from Salford whose colourful life took some dark turns, where diction beats addiction and the hero battles with the heroin… I Wanna Be Yours is, perhaps unsurprisingly, a compelling read with highs and lows aplenty, in every sense of the phrase.

From the outset, Clarke gifts us with indicators of where he learned and developed the dry satire with which he made his name. Advice from his dad (‘Never leave a bookie’s with a smile on your face’), the family dentist whose name was Frankenstein, and his leap from Rupert the Bear annuals to waxing lyrical about Dostoevsky all sound like they could slot straight into his repertoire.

His descriptions of his surroundings conjure up the mysticism of the world seen through a child’s eyes; the Italianante building that housed their apartment with the West Side Story style fire escape, the chemist on the ground floor (‘a wearer of cravats, a drencher of colognes’), being traumatised by Vivien Leigh on a trip to the cinema with his mum, all culminating in his contracting TB aged 8 and a resultant recuperation period in Rhyl. Allowed to wander free until it fell dark, he was drawn to the fairground, ‘It was a zone of full-on sensory overload: the food had too much flavour, the light was too bright, the music too loud, the smell of onions all-pervading; everything was drenched in sugar and colour’. Music became as important as books and a happy combination of the two would eventually catapult him into his always intended career of professional poet.

Live at the Charter Theatre, Preston Guildhall, 2019
© Gary M Hough at allthecoolbandsphotography

Taking his punk-poetry to the stage, Clarke’s initial break famously came from the unlikely corner of Bernard Manning and moved on to him playing gigs with The Pistols and The Fall amongst many others. He also name-checks lesser remembered bands with exemplary monikers like Ed Banger and the Nosebleeds, and his mention of Johnny Rotten having ‘the complexion of a compulsive blood donor’ is typically sharp. It’s easy to see how some of the larger than life characters he encountered along the way might later have morphed into Vince the ageing savage, Salome Maloney and Gaberdine Angus in verse.

But if anyone thought he would skip over the extraordinary range of narcotics that interloped his rise to fame, they would be sorely mistaken. There are no holds barred as he unfolds his progression through every kind of fix imaginable, gun-toting deals, failed attempts at rehab and several short-lived dalliances with death. It’s always honest, never glorified and frankly a wonder that he’s still with us.

Live at Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham, 2017
© Siobhan at 16 Beasley St Photography

Thankfully, his ongoing survival has allowed poetry to crossover to many who would otherwise have rejected its once exclusive status. He references the importance of his English teacher, Mr Malone, making the class read poems aloud and how it taught him that, ‘The main consideration is what a poem sounds like. If it doesn’t sound any good, it’s because it isn’t any good’, a premise that went on to create the most notable bard of our time.

They say that every picture tells a story. Clarke takes that concept and turns it on its head as, from start to finish throughout the book, the words paint pictures so vivid you can see the Salford streets and smell the hair pomade. Take a dip into the weird and wonderful world of Dr John Cooper Clarke, he’ll be there if you want him, ninety degrees in his shades.

I Wanna Be Yours is published by Picador on 15th October 2020 and a UK tour is planned for next year – details for both here

Words by Siobhan

12th October 2020

Exhibition – Bowie/MacCormack (Brighton Museum & Art Gallery)

Exhibition, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 17th October 2020 – 6th June 2021
Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me – Bowie/MacCormack 1973 -1976

Header image: David 1975 © Geoff MacCormack

The life and times of David Bowie have been documented more than most; tales of wonder and imagery to match across an incomparable 50 year musical career, from the hedonism of Haddon Hall to the augury of Black Star via the darker hours of the Thin White Duke, it’s hard to find a patch that hasn’t been sewn up. However, in this photographic exhibition of the early to mid 70s’ era, we see Bowie though a different lens, with all the pictures having been taken by his close friend and travelling musician, Geoff MacCormack. 

There is no shortage of iconic images of Bowie in the world; hanging out with Iggy and Lou Reed, unfazed by the enormous dog rearing up next to him on the Diamond Dogs shoot, the manequinned Pin Ups’ cover all reflect different sides of his life and work, and he has often been the muse of world renowned photographers including Mick Rock and Terry O’Neill. The beauty of this collection is that it captures some moments of intimacy that a staged shoot never would, and the opportunity to see these in person is something to absorb and appreciate after a long enforced absence from galleries and museums; what a wonderful welcome back.

David asleep on the Trans Siberian Express, 1973 © Geoff MacCormack

Full details from the press release here:

Geoff MacCormack’s close friend from the age of 8 years old was David Jones, the boy who would become David Bowie and one of the most influential performers in music, fashion and theatrical stage craft of the twentieth century.

In 1973 Bowie called his childhood friend and suggested he may join his band, The Spiders from Mars, and go on a worldwide adventure, travelling first class by sea to New York and then on to Japan, from Japan to Siberia, through Russia by Trans-Siberian Express to Moscow for May Day Parade, Poland, East and West Germany, just in time for tea at the George V Hotel in Paris, followed by a relaxing holiday in Rome, just to chill out.

And just when Geoff thought the fun might be over, Bowie said; “Would you mind being a Diamond Dog and coming back to New York on an even better ship, eating caviar every day and joining another band, then another band, helping out on a few albums and generally hanging out and having the time of your life for a couple more years?”

Left: David on the set of The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1975
Right: David backstage after the ‘retirement’ gig for Ziggy Stardust,
Hammersmith Odeon, 3rd July 1973 – both © Geoff MacCormack

Geoff did not hesitate and became Bowie’s backing singer and percussionist in 1973 on the Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane world tour. Arriving in Japan, Geoff ditched his Kodak Instamatic camera in favour of a Nikon and began taking a few images here and there, starting in Siberia on the Trans Siberian Railway and ending two and a half years later in Los Angeles during the Station To Station sessions.

Because Bowie disliked flying they travelled together by cruise liner and trains across the world giving MacCormack and his camera the opportunity to capture Bowie at his most informal and relaxed.

From Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane of Britain’s Glam Rock years, the ground-breaking Diamond Dogs tour across the USA and their obsession with American Soul music, to Bowie’s first major film The Man Who Fell to Earth (1975) and the recording of Station to Station and his Thin White Duke persona, this exhibition of intimate photographs, some of which have never been seen before in a public exhibition, gives a glimpse of a close friendship, travel and life on the road with one of the greatest rock stars of all time.

David in costume with Geoff MacCormack,
on the set of The Man Who Fell To Earth, 1975
© Geoff MacCormack

The show will be held in the museum’s three large galleries and will include 60 large original framed photographs of Bowie by MacCormack. These photographs will be complemented by a short film never seen before in the UK shot by Bowie on their trip to Moscow in 1973, music videos of Bowie and MacCormack on stage together, film excerpts and music in the galleries.

Michael Bedingfield, Chair of the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust said, ” Bowie was one of the most influential and captivating artists ever and we know this show will appeal to his many fans of all ages. The images offer a rare glimpse into a fascinating time of his life spent with one of his oldest friends. We are thrilled to be able to offer this show at Brighton Museum as our first major show on reopening after the lockdown. Don’t forget to book your tickets online on our website.”

David filming the May Day Parade from the window of the InTourist Hotel,
Moscow, 1973 © Geoff MacCormack

Rock ‘n’ Roll with Me – Bowie/MacCormack 1973 – 1976 runs from 17th October 2020 – 6th June 2021 – as with all galleries and public spaces, some restrictions may be in place so please check details before attending and, if you’re feeling unwell, please stay at home for everyone’s safety.

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Pavilion Parade, Brighton BN1 1EE
The museum is currently preparing for re-opening so please check back on the website for opening times and ticket information/pricing – tickets will be available to book from 2nd October

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from Brighton Museum & Art Gallery and remain the copyright of Geoff MacCormack

Intro by Siobhan

28th September 2020

Album Review: IDLES – Ultra Mono

The peaks and troughs of appreciation for IDLES have been especially prevalent in the news (or at least the slightly more spurious headlines) lately. It’s been interesting to see how a mass of readers generally happy to slate the NME for its progression into clickbait journalism can be equally swift to transfer that judgement onto its subjects based purely on the fragments of conversation it chooses to print. Following last week’s piece, social media focus was very much centred on IDLES’ lack of female support on their previous tour. No more than a few days later, the band announced an impressive string of female acts to support at next year’s shows and those same detractors seem to have been deafening in their silence in voicing this as a positive move. Mixed reviews of their new album have at times lauded their genius and alternately called out the simplicity of the often shouted lyrics, so what do people want from IDLES on third album Ultra Mono?

As a unit, they’ve never tried to present their music in any way other than raw and rough around the edges other than on the occasional more poignant track. And these guys have been around a long time, years longer than they’ve been in the public eye, and their sound has never been anything but unapologetically confrontational. It’s never going to be everyone’s cup of Earl Grey but IDLES have amassed a huge collective of supporters for whom their music has been a comfort and an opportunity to be part of the ever expanding community that surrounds them. At times, this can play to their detriment as there is an element of their following that has a bit of a pile-on approach if anyone criticises something they do but this is possibly true of any band – no artist can control how their fanbase grows; all they can do is keep making the music they love and hope that it speaks to people (or shouts at them sometimes, why not). Ultimately, whatever your views on the music, IDLES have responded to the criticism and invited some absolutely class acts on tour with them including Big Joanie, Cate Le Bon and Sinead O’Brien, Ultra Mono has some solid tracks on it that beg for the return of live music and their songs will continue to be an escape for many who are struggling with social restrictions, and that’s really no bad thing.

Produced by  Nick Launay (Nick Cave, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam Adam Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy) and featuring guest vocals from an unexpected collection of artists (Jehnny Beth, Warren Ellis, David Yow and Jamie Cullum) Ultra Mono brings IDLES’ third album release in only slightly more than as many years. Additional programming by American rap producer Kenny Beats takes the mood to a harder place, less singalong, more single minded. ‘How’d you like them clichés? Let’s seize the day, all hold hands, chase the pricks away’ snarls Joe Talbot on what is maybe the most transferable track from earlier days, Mr Motivator.

Throughout the album there are pace changes aplenty. Kill Them with Kindness jumps out with a thumping drumbeat and pure punk riffs and collab with Savages’ Jehnny Beth Ne Touche Pas Moi will doubtless be a live favourite, particularly if social distancing continues, as the references to everyone having their own dance space will be ironically appropriate. Carconogenic showcases IDLES doing what they do best, addressing social issues against adrenalin filled guitar bursts, berating the minimum wage and overworked nurses while providing an apocalyptically fine tune all in less than four minutes. A Hymn carries the role of quieter, reflective track, ‘I want to be loved, everybody does’ showing the universal underlying vulnerability that is often masked with bravado. The accompanying video documents a trip to the supermarket and if anything sums up this year it’s that.

Is there still a place for IDLES? Of course. Will everyone like this? Shouldn’t think so, but for many it will be the horse to their carriage. Does it matter? Not really, just enjoy it if you want to, let it make you happy if it does and don’t believe everything you read in the papers.

Ultra Mono is released tomorrow, 25th September 2020 via Partisan Records, album purchase and tour details here; watch the video for A Hymn below

Review by Siobhan
Photo © Tom Ham

24th September 2020 

Kraszna-Krausz Photography & Moving Image Book Awards

Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards announce Long and Shortlists

Header image: Swimming Pool in Wiesbaden’ (1934) © Dr Paul Wolff and Alfred Tritschler. From ​Dr. Paul Wolff & Tritschler, Light and Shadow – Photographs 1920 bis 1950 ​ edited by Hans Michael Koetzle (Kehrer, 2019)

Established since 1985, The Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards provides a platform that highlights a beautifully diverse range of Moving Image and Photography books. The awards are open to books that have been published in the previous year and are available in the UK. This year saw over 200 entries, from which short and longlists have now been drawn up and were announced yesterday.

In a year that has seen galleries closed and exhibitions cancelled, it seems timely to appreciate another medium through which to view the art involved in image making and some stunning end results.

The 35th edition of the prize sees some stiff competition and judging will surely not be easy.

Quil Lemons, “Purple” South Philadelphia, 2018, from​ ​
The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion​
by Antwaun Sargent (Aperture, 2019) © Quil Lemons

Winners will be announced in September prior to a livestream event featuring conversations about the two winning titles, hosted by and
in partnership with The Photographers’ Gallery. This takes the place of the usual awards ceremony, allowing celebrations to take place safely.

You can find more information about the work of the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation and about the selected books on their website.

Left: Jonas Mekas, ‘At the Film-Makers Cooperative’, 1962.
From ​I Seem to Live. The New York Diaries. Vol. I 1950-1969​
by Jonas Mekas (Spector Books, 2019)

Right: Two Archivist (gloves on), Photographic Collections,
National Museum Wales, Nantgarw, Cardiff, 2016 © Sophy Rickett.
From ​The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows​ by Sophy Rickett
(GOST Books, 2019)

From the press release:

‘The books in the running for the 2020 Photography Book Award and Moving Image Book Award address diverse global issues related to race, justice, identity, and the construction of truth, history and memory.

Ranging from illuminating artist monographs and anthologies to in-depth critiques of photography or filmmaking, to photobooks reconstructing hidden stories, and much more, the lists reflect the Foundation’s enduring recognition of rigorous and original books that will likely have a lasting impact on their field.’

Still from Revisiting Genesis, by Oreet Ashery. 2016.
Web series, 93 mins. (Courtesy the artist).
Erika Paul Mellon, Lucy Reynolds & Sarah Perks (eds),
Artists’ Moving Image in Britain Since 1989​
(Centre for Studies in British Art, 2019)

2020 Photography Book Award Shortlist

LaToya Ruby Frazier (Mousse Publishing & Mudam Luxembourg)

Photography, Truth and Reconciliation by Melissa Miles (Routledge)

The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows by Sopy Rickett (GOST Books)

Moving Image Book Award Shortlist

Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film by Allyson Nadia Field, Marsha Gordon eds (Duke University Press)

Frame by Frame: A Materialistic Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons by Hannah Frank (University of California Press)

This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia by Joan Neuberger (Cornell University Press)

2020 Photography Book Award Longlist

The Canary and the Hammer by Lisa Barnard (MACK)

Women War Photographers: From Lee Miller to Anja Niedringhaus by Anne-Marie Beckmann & Felicity Kom, eds (Prestel)

Seeing the Unseen by Harold Edgerton (Steidl co-published with the MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts)

LaToya Ruby Frazier (Mousse Publishing / Mudam Luxembourg)

Signs and Wonders: The Photographs of John Beasley Greene by Corey Keller (Prestel)

The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art & Fashion by Antwaun Sargent (Aperture)

Dr Paul Wolff & Tritschler: Light and Shadow – Photographs 1920 bis 1950 by Hans-Michael Koetzle (Kehrer Verlag)

Photography, Truth and Reconciliation by Melissa Miles (Routledge)

The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows by Sophie Rickett (GOST Books)

Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum, 1897 – 1922 by Margaret Sartor & Alex Harris, eds (University of North Carolina Press)

Jamal Nxedlana, Johannesburg, 2019, from​
​The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion ​
by Antwaun Sargent (Aperture, 2019) © Jamal Nxedlana

Moving Image Book Award Longlist

Artists’ Moving Image in Britain since 1989 ​by Erika Balsom, Lucy Reynolds & Sarah Perks (eds) (Paul Mellon Centre)

Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film ​by Allyson Nadia Field, Marsha Gordon, eds (Duke University Press)

Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons ​by Hannah Frank (University of California Press)

The Brighton School and the Birth of British Film ​by Frank Gray (Palgrave Macmillan)

Film, Music, Memory ​by Berthold Hoeckner (University of Chicago Press)

The Lost World of DeMille ​by John Kobal (University Press of Mississippi)

I Seem to Live. The New York Diaries. Vol. I 1950-1969 ​by Jonas Mekas (Spector Books)

This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia ​by Joan Neuberger (Cornell University Press)

The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics ​by Sydney Ladensohn Stern (University Press of Mississippi)

Silent Cinema: A Guide to Study, Research and Curatorship​ by Paolo Cherchi Usai (Bloomsbury)

Aggressive Assimilation, by Adrian Stimson. 2013.
Adrian Jr./Old Sun Residential School/Adrian Sr.).
Photographic triptych, 50.8 by 162.56 cm. Courtesy Adrian Stimson.
From ​Photography, Truth and Reconciliation ​by Melissa Miles​ (Routledge, 2019)

Intro by Siobhan
Details and photos via Flint Culture – copyright as detailed; please do not reproduce images without permission

23rd July 2020

Preview – Rockaway Beach Festival

Rockaway Beach Festival, Bognor Regis, 8th-10th January 2021

It is with a certain amount of trepidation that I’m daring to put together a festival preview, given the situation we find ourselves in. However, this is not scheduled to happen until early next year and the line-up details so far fill me with some kind of hope that there really is something to look forward to. Returning to its now regular if somewhat unlikely home at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis, Rockaway Beach continues to pull in a fearsome list of acts to hang out by the fruit machines and, although we’re early in the announcement rollout, 2021 looks exceptional so far.

Breaking Glass favourites Walt Disco, Lazarus Kane and Italia 90 are all set to perform, along with other artists we’ve caught playing great shows in the last year including Porridge Radio, Life and the illustrious Fat White Family. Add to this the much lauded and guaranteed to have everyone dancing PVA, fresh punk trio Big Joanie and alt-rock royalty The Vaselines and you have yourselves a party of serious proportions.

Lazarus Kane 

Walt Disco

Porridge Radio, Italia 90

LIFE

Fat White Family

Keep your fingers tightly crossed that this is far enough away to happen. There are obviously lots more acts to be confirmed but, even based on this initial outlay, Bognor in the new year is looking very attractive.

Get more details as they come through and ticket information here

Words and photos by Siobhan

13th May 2020

 

 

 

Preview – The Great Escape

The Great Escape, Brighton, 14th – 16th May 2020

A stalwart of the UK festival season, The Great Escape is a huge showcase for new music and spreads across the whole of Brighton with venues of all shapes and sizes playing host to hundreds of artists from all over the world. In just two months’ time it’s all due to take place again.

In the light of current international festival cancellations, it’s a waiting game for all involved to see how things will develop but the latest information from TGE says ‘At this time, all shows and events are going ahead as planned. Please be assured that the safety and health of all staff and visitors is our main priority and we are implementing recommendations and instructions appropriately. We are closely monitoring official guidance from the World Health Organisation, Public Health England, UK Government, local public health authorities and are working with event promoters and organisers as information evolves.’

Hopefully things will improve in time for the festival to go ahead, even if not in its usual form. In the meantime, we’re taking a look at some of the artists on the line-up and hoping that all is good to go ahead. Here are six of the best UK acts who each come highly recommended…

Arxx

Local two piece Arxx play full throttle garage rock with a sense of purpose and determination. Favourites on the Brighton scene, their live sets are always worth catching.

Kid Kapichi

From not far along the coast in Hastings, Kid Kapichi are attracting lots of attention, having recently toured with Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes amongst others. Check out their full on indie tunes reminiscent of early Slaves.

Lazarus Kane

A live highlight for us last year, Lazarus Kane is a lot of fun to watch and brings bucketloads of fine indie disco – featured in our ones to watch in 2020 list, don’t miss seeing the band if you get a chance.

Lucia & the Best Boys

Part of the brilliant current Glaswegian scene, Lucia & the Best Boys are gradually becoming better known across the country and offer up accomplished indie grunge with an 80s’ synth backdrop, lots to take in here.

Lynks Afrikka

Having had the privilege of seeing Lynks Afrikka live recently, this is a big recommendation for tongue-in-cheek art pop with plenty of fun and dressing up thrown in, you won’t be disappointed.

Walt Disco

Another band in our ones to watch for 2020 list, Walt Disco are another excellent product of Glasgow’s new music scene. Combining indie disco with all the flair but none of the saccharine of the New Romantics, this band are clearly on the up and deserve your attention.

All festival details, updates and ticket links are on a The Great Escape website and you can listen to the artists featured here on the playlist below…

* UPDATE 23rd March 2020: Sadly, as expected, this year’s Great Escape has been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions – tickets can be carried forward to TGE 2021 or refunded from point of purchase *


Words and photos by Siobhan exc Lucia photo by Alan

13th March 2020

Preview – All Points East Festival

All Points East, Victoria Park, London, 22nd-24th & 29th-31st May 2020

Following on from its success in previous years, All Points East returns to London over two weekends in May, a host of big names already announced and more to come.

Headliners already confirmed are Bombay Bicycle Club (22nd), Tame Impala (23rd), Massive Attack (24th), Kraftwerk (29th) and The Kooks (30th). The last night, Sunday 31st, is still to be announced but, if the others are anything to go by, the news is set to be worth waiting for.

There are also plenty of other artists to look out for on the various line-ups – the inimitable Iggy Pop, guitar legend Johnny Marr, the exceptionally talented Nadine Shah and everyone’s favourite disco cowboys Warmduscher to name just a few.

To coincide with the festival, In The NBHD will be putting on a calendar of free activities including cinema, music, arts and creative workshops coupled with a selection of street food sellers and bars. This year focuses on sustainability and there will be opportunities to learn how to upcycle using repurposed and natural materials.

Check out the All Points East website for full details of who’s been announced so far, updates as they come through and ticket links.

In light of other recent music events being affected by COVID-19, please keep a check on news from all festivals/events to make sure you have the latest information

*UPDATE 27th March 2020: Sadly, as expected, this year’s All Points East has been cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions – tickets will be automatically refunded from point of purchase, you are advised that you do not need to contact your seller unless you haven’t heard from them by 9th April *

Words by Siobhan

9th March 2020

Exhibition – Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers (Design Museum)

Exhibition, The Design Museum, London, 1st April – 26th July 2020
Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers

Header shot: Kraftwerk © Peter Boettcher

Just four weeks from today, The Design Museum in London will be opening a new exhibition which looks set to be a must-see for any fans of electronic music and the technology attached to it. With immersive audio-visual experiences and a chance to see exhibits and installations from the world of electronica, this could feel more like a night out than a visit to the museum. Take 3D trips with icons of the scene Kraftwerk and The Chemical Brothers and bring back memories of the pulsing dancefloors of the rave scene – all the while marveling at how this genre has spanned the decades and remains at the forefront of new music today.

Left: Jean Michel Jarre’s virtual studio, photo © Gil Lefauconnier
Right: MR 808 Interactive by ROBOTS SONIC, photo © Gil Lefauconnier

Full details from the press release below:

‘The Design Museum in London launches a new exhibition exploring the hypnotic world of electronic music, from its origins to its futuristic dreams. Discover how design, technology and innovation powered the genre in the work of visionaries including Kraftwerk, The Chemical Brothers, Jeff Mills, Daphne Oram, Jean-Michel Jarre and Aphex Twin. Experience the museum premiere of electronic pioneers The Chemical Brothers’ sensory spectacle by creative studio Smith & Lyall, featuring mesmerising visuals for the Grammy Award-winning track Got to Keep On. This exhibition makes connections between electronic music and contemporary design, fashion and art, including works from Charles Jeffrey of Loverboy, Andreas Gursky, Peter Saville, Boiler Room, The Designers Republic, Christian Marclay, Jeremy Deller and more.

The Chemical Brothers, The O2, 30th Nov 2019 © Luke Dyson

Grab your headphones and plug into the first music-themed exhibition at the Design Museum, from Wednesday 1 April 2020 – featuring a club-like environment where lighting and video are synched to a specially curated soundtrack by French DJ Laurent Garnier. Complete with a new series of live AV experiences, visitors will be transported by multi-sensory installations. This is your chance to step inside the visual world of The Chemical Brothers, featuring elements of their legendary live show, as visuals and lights interact to create a three dimensional immersive experience by Smith & Lyall – inspired by the psychedelic duo’s acclaimed No Geography Tour. Delve into the extreme visual world created by Weirdcore for Aphex Twin’s Collapse and celebrate 50 years of legendary group Kraftwerk with a 30 minute 3D experience.

Kraftwerk © Peter Boettcher

Left: Peter Keene, In Search of Daphne, The Oramics Machine Revisited,
A Work in Continual Progress 2015-2018

Right: Jeff Mills’ Supernatural costume, photo © Gil Lefauconnier

An adaptation of the hugely popular exhibition from Musée de la Musique – Philharmonie de Paris, the London showcase will put a spotlight on UK electronic and rave culture. Featuring over 400 items, the exhibition is divided into 4 sections: Man and Woman Machine, Dancefloor, Mix and Remix, and Utopian Dreams and Ideals. The journey begins with a timeline of revolutionary instruments and the innovators who pioneered them, including Donald Buchla, Tadao Kikumoto for the Roland Corporation and Daphne Oram for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. As well as an ‘imagined’ music studio from electronic music innovator Jean-Michel Jarre, a dynamic light installation by 1024 architecture, the Moog 55 synthesiser and the iconic TR-808. Travel to warehouses and dancefloors across the world in celebration of rave and club culture. Explore the design process behind the vinyl sleeves of Tomato and Underworld, fetish fashion by iconic queer designer Walter Van Beirendonck, objects from the iconic Haçienda club and turn back time with large-scale images of rave culture by Andreas Gursky. Expect to see clothing by Charles Jeffrey of Loverboy, projections of dancers from all corners of the globe including New York, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and Moscow and relive the moment of ecstasy experienced by many on the dance floor.’

Vanity Flightcase by Bruno Peinado, photo © Gil Lefauconnier

Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers runs from 1st April – 26th July 2020
The Design Museum, 224-228 Kensington High St, London W8 6AG
Opening times: Mon-Thur & Sun 10-6, Fri-Sat 10-8 (10-9 on selected Fridays)
Standard tickets Mon-Fri Adult £16, Child £8, Sat-Sun Adult £18, Child £9; various concessions and group tickets are also available, please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Design Museum and are copyrighted as credited

Intro by Siobhan

4th March 2020

 

Exhibition – Masculinities: Liberation through Photography (Barbican, London)

Exhibition, Barbican Art Gallery, London, 20th February – 17th May 2020
Masculinities: Liberation through Photography 

Header photo: Rotimi Fani-Kayode – Untitled, 1985
© Rotimi Fani-Kayode, courtesy of Autograph, London

Across society there are many traditions and expectations; how we look, think and behave are all subject to comment by the press and the opinions of others on social media. Thankfully, views from the past about what should be perceived as ‘masculine’ are being challenged and are changing as a result. Still, there is huge disparity in this between different cultures and backgrounds and the chance to consider this in visual form makes up the subject matter for a new exhibition at The Barbican, opening its doors in February.

Photo: CatherineOpie – Rusty, 2008
© Catherine Opie, coutesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles
and Thomas Dane Gallery, London

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography features a wealth of big name photographers as well as some newer names in the arena. Having begun to take photos as a child with a gifted Kodak Instamatic, LA based Catherine Opie has risen in stature to exhibit in galleries across the US and internationally, her portraiture and social commentary shots famed around the world and now displayed here. Also included is the work of Rotimi Fani-Kayode. Arriving in Brighton as a child having fled the Nigerian civil war, he went on to study photography in New York before returning to the UK to produce an esteemed body of work, both technically and socially, before his death in 1989. He is quoted as saying, ‘On three counts I am an outsider: in terms of sexuality; in terms of geographical and cultural dislocation; and in the sense of not having become the sort of respectably married professional my parents might have hoped for. Such a position gives me the feeling of having very little to lose’; a statement that underlies the essence of this exhibition as it sets out to encompass masculinity in all its forms and realities.

Photos: Left – Hal Fischer – Street Fashion: Jock from the series
Gay Semiotics, 1977/2016
courtesy of the artist and Project Native Informant London

Top right – Catherine Opie – Bo from ‘Being and Having’, 1991
Collection of Gregory R Miller and Michael Wiener
© Catherine Opie, courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles,
Thomas Dane Gallery, London and Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York

Bottom right – Sunil Gupta – Untitled 22 from the series Christopher Street, 1976
courtesy of the artist and Hales Gallery
© Sunil Gupta all rights reserved, DACS 2019

Details from the press release below:

‘Barbican Art Gallery will stage Masculinities: Liberation through Photography, a major group exhibition that explores the ways in which masculinity is experienced, performed, coded and socially constructed as expressed and documented through photography and film from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition brings together over 300 works by over 50 pioneering international artists, photographers and filmmakers such as Laurie Anderson, Richard Avedon, Rineke Dijkstra, Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Peter Hujar, Isaac Julien, Annette Messager and Catherine Opie, alongside a lesser-known and younger generation of artists including Cassils, Sam Contis, George Dureau, Karen Knorr, Elle Pèrez, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Hank Willis Thomas, Karlheinz Weinberger and Marianne Wex among others.

With ideas around masculinity undergoing a global crisis and terms such as ‘toxic’ and ‘fragile’ masculinity filling endless column inches, the exhibition will chart the representation of masculinity in all its myriad forms, rife with contradiction and complexity. Touching on themes of patriarchy, power, queer identity, race, sexuality, class, female perceptions of men, heteronormative stereotypes and fatherhood, the works in the exhibition present masculinity as a largely unfixed performative identity shaped by cultural, political and social forces, with photography and film central to the way in which masculinity is shaped and understood.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography is part of Inside Out, the Barbican’s year-long programme exploring the relationship between our inner lives and creativity.’

Photo: Peter Hujar – David Brintzenhofe Applying Makeup (II), 1982
© 1987 The Peter Hujar Archive LLC
courtesy of Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography runs from 20th February – 17th May 2020
Barbican Centre, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS

Opening times: Sun-Wed 10-6, Thurs-Sat 10-9, Good Friday 10-9, Easter Monday 10-6
Standard tickets Mon-Fri £15, Sat-Sun £17 – please check the website for concession prices and for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from The Barbican and are copyrighted as credited

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Unconnected to the exhibition but a valuable resource for those who may need it, The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is leading a movement against suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths every day. Their website advises, ‘Anyone can hit crisis point. We run a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems’. If you need to speak to someone or would like to support their cause you can find CALM here.

Words excluding press release by Siobhan

21st January 2020

 

Urban Festivals 2020

While the whole of the UK seems to be fighting with Storm Brendan (a rather friendly moniker for endless downpours and winds that blow you off your feet), thinking about outdoor festivals may not be top of your agenda. However, the rise in popularity of the multi-venue city festival offers the opportunity to plan some outings that don’t involve taking a tent along. We’ve picked out 5 across the UK that are well worth putting in your diary…

Stag & Dagger – Edinburgh 2nd May, Glasgow 3rd May

Picking up steam and recognition every year, Glasgow’s Stag & Dagger takes place across venues in a compact area of the city centre in early May. With much more to come, acts confirmed so far include the eclectic mix of Shame, Ezra Furman, Hockey Dad and Vanishing Twin. This year sees the festival extend to Edinburgh the same weekend for its own event, line up to be announced imminently.

Stag & Dagger Glasgow  /  Stag & Dagger Edinburgh

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The Great Escape – Brighton 13th – 16th May

The prototype of urban festivals, Brighton’s The Great Escape has been a fixture in the city since 2006. It’s by far the biggest of this kind of event and plays host to hundreds of artists from around the world. Given the extent of the venues involved it’s helpful to have some local knowledge or test things out with a dry run as you can cover some serious distances over the few days. The line up is still in progress; some of those already confirmed are Lazarus Kane, Girls in Synthesis, Molly Parton and Sinead O’Brien.

The Great Escape

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D2D – Manchester 22 May, Bristol 23rd May, Nottingham 24th May

Dot to Dot takes its line up to 3 cities in 3 days, making it a bit more accessible to more people with less travel. The lucky locations are Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham and this year a collection of venues across each of them will play host to the likes of Easy Life, Gracey, Spacey Jane and Drug Store Romeos plus many more to be announced.

Dot to Dot Festival

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Dials Festival – Portsmouth, 3rd October

Heading towards the end of the year for the next two which may seem a long way off but past events suggest they’re definitely worth a bookmark. First up, Dials Festival has built up over the last few years into an established showcase for a whole range of genres and talent. Raising funds for charity partner Solent Mind, this is music with awareness and that combination is surely something worth celebrating. Keep an eye out for announcements throughout the year.

Dials Festival

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Swn Festival – Cardiff, 16th – 18th October

Wales’ first and biggest multi venue metropolitan event, Swn Festival returns to maintain its reputation for bringing new music to the fore, with many past performers having gone on to much bigger things. Details of this year’s line up will emerge in the run up to the festival and you can sign up to their newsletter now to receive updates.

Swn Festival

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Words by Siobhan

16th January 2020

Preview – Icebreaker Festival

Icebreaker Festival, Southsea, 25th January 2020 

Back in its regular January slot, Icebreaker Festival once again brings a plethora of new musical talent to Southsea’s Albert Road and Elm Grove, putting on over 80 artists in 1 day at 7 venues in the area. With a wide range of genres included in the line up, there’s an opportunity to discover some new favourites live and that’s just what we’re hoping to do, as well as catching up with some acts that are already making waves.

Returning after strong performances at last year’s event, look out for some lively desert rock from The Howlers (Wedgewood Rooms) and soul-infused garage from Currls (Edge of the Wedge).

Highlights at other local festivals this year, it’s also great to see mighty art punks LibraLibra and electro duo Drusila on the bill – both on the Wedgewood Rooms stage; neither of whom should be missed.

A few more recommendations for the day come in the shape of…

– Blues-soaked rock from local favourites The Stone Birds (The Wine Vaults)
– 90s influenced grunge-rock from Dutch Mustard (Edge of the Wedge)
– Some lovely laid back soulful sounds from The Isle of CC (The Wine Vaults)
– And what looks set to be a blow the roof off performance from indie punks Glossii (The Deco)

We’ve added tracks from all the artists mentioned to the playlist below so you can listen at your leisure…

*Edit – sadly, it seems that Glossii have decided to call it a day and won’t now be appearing but give their music a listen anyway and keep an eye on new projects from band members*


Check out the full line up complete with stage times for each venue on the Icebreaker website.

Words and photos by Siobhan

7th January 2020

2020 Vision – Six of the Best

And so as we leave 2019 behind and head into a new year, who should you be keeping your eyes and ears open for in 2020? We’ll be continuing to highlight new music as we discover it; for now here are six of the best bands we saw for the first time this year and would highly recommend…

Deux Furieuses 

With second album My War is Your War firmly on the critically acclaimed shelf, powerhouse duo Deux Furieuses look fully set for bigger things to come. Their songs are confrontational yet accessible and they can play a band twice their size off the stage. Check out the video for Let Them Burn here.

Deux Furieuses

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Dry Cleaning 

While spoken word has taken centre stage this year with many bands, there is something different about Dry Cleaning’s sardonic compositions and delivery – captivating live, their debut EP Sweet Princess was released in August. Catch their take on the changing face of the monarchy with Magic of Meghan below.

Dry Cleaning

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Italia 90

Keeping the spirit of punk alive with a glut of dirty guitar breaks, Italia 90 have been building their material and stage presence for some time now. The result is an unexpected melee of brash social commentary with tunes that will stick around in your head for a long, long time. Latest EP Italia 90 III is available now; listen to Road to Hell here.

Italia 90

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Lazarus Kane

In September, Lazarus Kane burst into our psyche with scorching track Narcissus, an indicator of plenty more genre-crossing tracks full of electro disco beats and a faux southern drawl all adding to the creation of the artist’s character. The music alone is enough to muster intrigue as to what comes next – listen to Narcissus here.

Lazarus Kane

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The Ninth Wave

The ethereal world of The Ninth Wave is definitely worth taking a plunge into. With double vocals and synth-laden guitar riffs calling The Cure and Magazine to mind, their live sets are a compelling experience. Their status is heading skywards with debut album Infancy cementing their reputation as an accomplished and innovative act to be reckoned with. Check out the video for Human Behaviour here.

The Ninth Wave

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Walt Disco

To close the list an absolute gem of a band, Walt Disco grab the very best of 80s’ glitz and glamour and take it to a new sharp-edged level of flamboyance both musically and theatrically. There are undeniable echoes of the past with notes of The Associates and Siouxsie / Budgies’s kitscher side project The Creatures, and a live performance that you’ll miss at your peril. Watch the video for recent single Dancing Shoes below and keep this band very firmly on your radar.

Walt Disco

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Words and photos by Siobhan

30th December 2019

Book Club – Tim Burgess: One, Two, Another

Tim Burgess: One, Two, Another

’Life’s a bag of Revels, I’m looking for the orange one’ (Polar Bear, 1995)

If you’ve seen Tim Burgess playing live, solo or with The Charlatans, you’ll know that it’s inevitably a happy experience. It looks like he loves what he does, like it’s still fresh, still surprising, and that’s infectious. It’s no secret that things haven’t always been plain sailing but his performing, and now writing, is approached with an honesty that is refreshing and endearing; if this was a tale of fiction you’d be rooting for the lead character to come out on top. As it is, it’s real life and the same applies.

With the release of his third book One, Two, Another this week, we get another opportunity to jump into his world and hear the stories behind the lyrics. Covering over 70 tracks spanning his career, each set of lyrics is followed by a personal annotation of their background, some funny, some sad, some a gift to the trivia collector, all painting pictures that together form a fascinating diary of the last 30 years. Having covered the autobiographical element in his first book Telling Stories, then delved into his love of vinyl and record shops in Vinyl Adventures, Tim takes us behind the scenes of the words that we’ve all come to know and love, citing influences from Bob Dylan to Wu-Tang Clan.

Tim recalls reading the printed song lyrics in Smash Hits (a ritual familiar to all those of us growing up before Google became a default) and the process of writing and hearing people’s reactions to the end product, saying, ‘My songs have recurring themes: love, loss and euphoria, and many are dreamt up as smiley, throwaway oysters. But I never know what the pearl is until the audience sing along with me.’

There are many pearls in the catalogue and it’s great to read about everything from the trips across the States to the northern nightclub bouncers that all played a part in creating some of his best loved songs across the years. As you read the book you’ll want to dig out your records and fall into the safety net they offer, pulling in your personal nostalgia and memories of times past and loved ones lost and found to match his stories. There’s a lot of truth in the lines:
‘Here comes a soul saver
On your record player
Floating about in the dust’
(Here Comes a Soul Saver, 1995)

A past Record Store Day Ambassador, collaborator with his peers (he speaks in the book of achieving his ambition of working with Paul Weller on Spinning Out) and a constant champion of new artists, Tim’s more recent tracks and albums on his own and with The Charlatans play just as important a role in the story – and who knows what the future memories from these will be?

2017’s Plastic Machinery contemplates the feeling of being pulled into the political quicksand of the current climate:
’So, let’s just run
Even if only in our heads
Leave all of this behind
Unless we could stand still’
With his immediately recognisable guitar riffs featuring on the track, Johnny Marr comments, ‘Tim Burgess is a crusader and vinyl’s epic voyager. He knows why pop’s art, a culture and a cure. Learn and listen. He knows good things.’

Johnny’s right – clear your Sunday afternoon, dust down your turntable, grab a copy of the book and enjoy.

One, Two, Another is published by Little, Brown UK on Thursday 14th November 2019

Words by Siobhan

12th November 2019

Exhibition – Photography Season (National Museum Cardiff)

Exhibition – National Museum Cardiff, opening 26th October 2019
Photography Season 2019 -2020
– ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander  
– Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions
– Martin Parr in Wales

Launching its new photography season, National Museum Cardiff opens its doors to a trilogy of exhibitions featuring four of the most respected and influential photographers in their fields, each with distinctive and recognisable styles and an underlying honesty in their work.

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August Sander was an early proponent of taking portraits which truly represented the subjects without ‘tricks and effects’ to create an accurate record of people living and working in Germany. In today’s environment his style would be seen as reportage with no filters. Sander is quoted as saying, ‘By sight and observation and thought, with the help of the camera, and the addition of the date of the year, we can hold fast the history of the world’.

Photo: August Sander, Secretary at West German Radio in Cologne, 1931

Press release excerpt:
‘ARTIST ROOMS: August Sander presents over 80 photographs by August Sander (1876-1964), one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century. The portraits are drawn from Sander’s monumental project, People of the Twentieth Century, through which he aimed to capture a true portrait of the German nation and of the time. Sander photographed people of all ages and backgrounds, from farmers, policemen and politicians to bricklayers, secretaries and artists. His subjects, always anonymous, are titled by profession or social class and categorised into 7 distinct groups; The Farmer; The Skilled Tradesman; The Woman; Classes and Professions; The City; The Artists and The Last People.

ARTIST ROOMS is supported by Arts Council England, Art Fund and Creative Scotland and is jointly owned by the National Galleries of Scotland and The Tate. The exhibition has received additional support from the Colwinston Charitable Trust.’

26th October 2019 – 1st March 2020

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Applying a similar philosophy to Germany’s industrial architecture, Bernd and Hilla Becher were aware of the evolving face of the horizon as developments in technology changed things forever. Bernd noted that he ‘was overcome with horror when I noticed that the world with which I was besotted was disappearing’ and the couple set about recording as many structures as they could to preserve knowledge about them.

Photo: Bernd & Hilda Becher, Blaenserchan Colliery, Pontypool, South Wales, 1966

Press release excerpt:
‘Bernd and Hilla Becher: Industrial Visions brings together 225 photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher, two of the most significant artists of the 20th century. Since the 1960s their work has reinforced photography’s international currency as art. As founders of what is now known as the ‘Düsseldorf School’, the Bechers influenced a new generation of artists including Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth.

For over 50 years, the Bechers collaborated on a project to document industrial structures across Europe and the USA. Their photographic inventory included winding towers, blast furnaces, cooling towers, gasometers, grain elevators, water towers and lime kilns. In 1965, the Bechers made their first visit to Wales and returned in 1966 after receiving a British Council Fellowship. Based at a campsite in Glynneath, they explored the south Wales valleys and made an extensive series of photographs that now stand as monuments to a lost world of labour that were once central to the social fabric of industrial communities.

The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Russell Roberts and has been kindly supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust and the Henry Moore Foundation.’

26th October 2019 – 1st March 2020

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The third exhibition features the sardonically sincere pictures of Martin Parr, one of our finest photojournalists with an eye for capturing the wit and charm in an everyday scene. His approach, he says, is that ‘With photography I like to create fiction out of reality. I try to do this by taking society’s natural prejudice and giving this a twist’. His twist results in a series of photos that, while adding in the unexpected, draw memories and emotions that are vivid and real.

Photo: Snowdonia, Wales, 1989 © Martin Parr / Magnum Photos / Rocket Gallery

Press release excerpt:
‘Martin Parr in Wales features photography by Martin Parr, one of the most influential and prolific photographers working today. Over the last 40 years, he has recorded people, places and cultures in the UK and beyond, exploring themes of leisure, consumption and communication. His humorous and affectionate portrayal of modern life has changed the way we understand society and its many nuances.

Parr has always been drawn to Wales, having lived just over the border in nearby Bristol for 30 years. In that time, he has undertaken several editorial and cultural commissions, covering subjects from working men’s clubs to coal mining. This exhibition brings together, for the first time, a selection of Parr’s work in Wales from the mid-1970s to 2018. His photographs – many of which have never been exhibited before – explore different aspects of Welsh life and culture, from male voice choirs and national sports to food, festivals and the seaside.

This exhibition has been developed in collaboration with Martin Parr. It has been kindly supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust.’

26th October 2019 – 4th May 2020

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Photography Season 2019-2020 runs from 26th October 2019 – end dates as listed above for each exhibition

National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff CF10 3NP
Opening times: Tues – Sat 10-5, galleries close at 4.45, open most bank holiday Mondays, closed  25th – 26th Dec and 1st Jan
Free entry – please check the website for further details of this and other exhibitions before visiting

All images and exhibition details are reproduced with permission from National Museum Cardiff and are copyrighted as credited

Words by Siobhan (quoted sections from official press release)

23rd October 2019

Book Club – Brett Anderson: Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn

Brett Anderson: Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn 

Taking a second plunge into the publishing world, Brett Anderson returns with his follow up memoir to its precursor Coal Black Mornings. Where his debut focused solely on the days before he was hurtled into the public eye as Suede became an improbable household name, Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn brings the next stage of the story, with a brutally honest look back at the band’s spiral to success and the pinnacles and pitfalls that inevitably came along for the ride.

Although he said this was the book he wouldn’t write, the opportunity for people to hear his own view rather the sensationalist click-bait of the headlines has brought about a change of heart. Brett describes reflecting on the period as akin to watching someone else living your life, noting that ‘it’s remarkable how hindsight can lend a clarity that at the time was beyond you’.

The book avoids the often touted glamorous tales of the music world as he talks of journeys supplemented with Silk Cut, Walkers crisps and Batiste dry shampoo. Something that is demonstrated often however is his love and respect for his bandmates past and present, whilst acknowledging the at times difficult relationships therein. The irony of recording Stay Together whilst the connection with Bernard Butler was starting to crumble is not lost; appearances on Top of the Pops and in puppet form on Spitting Image offer reminders of how Suede managed to break through to the mainstream despite, or perhaps because of, their insistence on doing things on their own terms.

© Phillip Williams 

For the music fan there are deep forays into the writing, production and performance of the songs. It is interesting to note the desire, even early on, for every musical footprint to be noteworthy, resulting in what he describes as ‘exiling classics to the wastelands of the flip side’ – the likes of My Insatiable One, He’s Dead and My Dark Star all allotted to what for most artists would be the lower echelon of the B-side. There is a clear understanding that whilst a flurry of hype will propel you into the public eye, it won’t hold your place if there is no substance to follow the fanfare.

The story can’t be told without addressing the demons of addiction that could so easily have dictated a much more desolate outcome. Again, there is no glamour or glitz attached to this period as Brett recalls ‘the substances becoming slowly harder, the evenings becoming slowly more humourless, the chances of escape from it all slowly less likely’. Thankfully there was an escape and there was enough strength in Suede as a collective to continue and move forward.

There are lighter notes throughout the book and times filled with humour and positivity. As a south coast dweller, it was lovely to hear mention of an early show at The Joiners Arms in Southampton, where Brett felt there was ‘a moment’ and recalls it as a pivotal point where the band and crowd were in the same headspace, feeling the same thing, the role of the audience so important in making everything worthwhile. (Happily, The Joiners hasn’t met the fate of many an independent venue and still exists to offer opportunities for smaller bands to play and build into something much bigger).

The book takes us to the break-up of the band in the highly anti-climactic setting backstage at The Graham Norton Show, a mark of success for some, the end of the road for Suede – in this innings at least.

© Pat Pope

With chapter names like Dogshit and Diamonds, Crouchenders and Anything can Happen in Life, Especially Nothing you know this will be no run of the mill music biography.

The leap from lyricist to author doesn’t always run smoothly but Brett has a natural skill for storytelling; he’s a compelling raconteur, a graphic scene-setter. The book offers a point of detailed reference for fans, and for any reader an insight into the disequilibrium of a band trying to make a dent on a music scene flooded with Britpop and imported rock ballads. If we didn’t know to some degree what happened next it might be a somewhat despondent ending. However, now that we’ve felt the aspirations fired by the Coal Black Mornings and spent disordered Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn, perhaps Brett will take us along on the next part of the journey and we can witness the evenings of Suede’s story in book number three…

Afternoons with the Blinds Drawn is published by Little, Brown UK tomorrow – 3rd October 2019

Photos with permission of the publisher and copyright of the photographer named

Words by Siobhan

2nd October 2019

 

Preview – Dials Festival

Dials Festival, Portsmouth, 5th October 2019

The summer festivals may be safely tucked away but there’s no shortage of indoor events to look forward to, with the added bonus of not having to worry about getting sunstroke or washed away in the rain. Starting the winter season off in style, Dials Festival is back with another fine line-up, all hand picked from a huge pool of new and emerging talent to make up a really well thought out mix of artists and genres. Held at The Wedgewood Rooms and surrounding venues on Southsea’s Albert Road, this year’s headline slot is filled by The Blinders, bringing a phenomenal live reputation and plenty of searing post modern anthems, their set will undoubtedly be a highlight of the day.

Returning from hugely popular sets in 2018, it’s great to see LibraLibra and Fake Empire back on the bill. Both bands took early slots last year but pulled in the crowds and made big impressions – both well worth checking out.

The rest of the line-up looks equally appealing, some acts I know, some I don’t… yet. Having attended all the Dials events so far I can honestly say I’ve found new favourite bands every time and am looking forward to history repeating itself once again. Three of the best come highly recommended in the shape of menacing melodies from the mighty Madonnatron, pure disco-infused indie from Walt Disco and an intense hit of raw punk from Luxury Apartments.

Aside from the artists, Dials is once again supporting and raising funds for Solent Mind, a much needed and utilised local charity. There is no doubting that music can give a massive release from mental health issues and the pairing of Dials and Mind is one that makes perfect sense. If you haven’t got a ticket yet there are limited numbers still available at the incredibly cheap price of just £20. There’s just a month to go so make plans, get along, support a great cause, come and say hello then find some favourite new bands of your own.

More info from Dials Festival here

Words and photos by Siobhan

5th September 2019