Friday, December 13, 2013

Black Sabbath @ P.O.P.B., Paris - December 2nd, 2013


Black Sabbath had long been one of my favourite bands and it's only now that I get to see them live. Sure, I've seen Ozzy before. And I've seen the Dio version of the band under their new name Heaven & Hell. But since they reunited a little over fifteen years ago I was never able to see the original Black Sabbath.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Trixie Whitley @ RTL2, Paris - December 3rd, 2013


Merci Tonton Zégut pour cette magnifique découverte qu'est Trixie Whitley, fille du regretté Chris Whitley.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

R.I.P. Lou Reed

It seems like everyone has eulogised Lou Reed. Lars Ulrich's words were honest and poignant, Laurie Anderson's letter was... different, put it that way. Legs McNeil's essay was fantastic as usual and I thoroughly enjoyed Neil Gaiman's story. You don't need to read this, Lou Reed didn't this written about him and if I'm honest I really didn't need to write it. Well, I kind of did actually.

I don't remember of a time when I wasn't aware of Lou Reed. Even before I was listening to music, any music, I knew he existed. I knew it was a thing. I knew the banana. I knew the glammed-out, sexually ambivalent face from the Transformer record sleeve. Because at some point, pop iconography finds its way to you. Like a kid today could totally know Marilyn Monroe from that still of her dress flying over the vent without having seen any of her movies. Jesus wishes he could still have that impact over mass culture.

So, Lou Reed was always around. Like Bowie, another androgynous figure you grow up knowing without knowing why.

But then if you’re like me, around the time your age switches to two digits, you start getting into rock n’ roll. You get bit. I fell pretty hard and I still haven’t recovered today. God knows I love film, and I love literature. But there’s something about music… Some people will tell you that rock n’roll is about more than the music. It’s about the clothes, the politics, the drugs, the lifestyle, the videos… Yes, it is about all that but at the end of the day it is about music. How a stupid two-minute song can break your heart or make you dance or drive you to clench your fist and punch that asshole boss of yours (I wouldn’t recommend it).

My gateway was silly. It was a movie. In 1985 I saw Back To The Future and it got me hooked on to electric music. Like kids in the fifties or sixties would get hooked by watching Elvis or Beatles movies. By the time I was fifteen I had a record collection that was the envy of everyone I knew, but then again everyone I knew had good taste. And of course in that collection, Lou Reed had a prominent place. From the Velvet Underground records to his solo classics to the absolute shit he recorded (there IS plenty of it, look no further than Metal Machine Music) Lou Reed was a special figure. Like everyone of rock’s mavericks.

I can appreciate it all. I like Bryan Adams as much as the next wuss. Joe Cocker has his moments. Steely Dan can hit the spot. I can listen to Nick Lowe or Huey Lewis. Hell, I can even find redeeming qualities in Seals & Croft. But there’s a reason these guys, whatever their success, have remained faceless. They are not icons. Lou Reed was one and we lost him last Sunday. We lost him and it hurts. It hurts just like it hurt when we lost Jimi, Miles, Janis, James Brown, Keith Moon and countless others. I hurts just like it’ll hurt when we lose McCartney, Jagger, Clapton, Dylan, Bowie, Daltrey and whoever else is next headed for the hole in the ground.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind you all that there is no God and that the afterlife doesn’t exist. Deal with it.

So when someone’s work, image, their whole life really, has not only informed everything about the person that you are today but also influenced the world around them, you can be forgiven for waxing nostalgic.

I never met Lou Reed. By all accounts, it’s lucky I didn’t. Yet he was part of the fabric of my universe ever since I can remember. His songs touched me often, annoyed me sometimes, put me off other times. Sometimes I didn’t care at all. But he was always there. And the songs that touched, boy! I’ll take them to the grave with me. If I had to chose one it would be Lisa Says. The version on that crappy 1969 Velvet Undergournd live album that sounds like it was recorded from the toilet of the joint. You know, the one with the wedgie. Brings a tear to my eye every time.

So my kids are going to grow up in a world without Lou Reed. If that’s not sad enough, they’re also going to grow up in a world without the Rolling Stones. Without Jeff Beck. My eldest is three. The youngest is not even eight weeks old. Shit, by the time they’re old enough to go to a concert on their own the Strokes will be the elder statesmen of rock n’ roll.

I never saw Lou Reed in concert. One of the few could-haves that I regret. I remember when the Raven tour came through town. By that time, his shows had devolved into boring, pretentious, boring, BORING masses. I couldn’t be bothered. More recently I remember him playing Berlin with the original band, video projections by Julien Temple, and the great Bob Ezrin as musical director. I sat this one out too because of ticket prices. Which five years later seem cheap, nowadays this is what second tier metal bands charge. I also purposely sat out the Metal Machine Trio tour, because of the album that gave it its name. I regret that one too, as I saw some videos and it sounded fantastic… Oh well.

Anyway, I never got to see Lou Reed butcher “Waiting For My Man”. I can live with it. I’ll have to, because it’s only rock n’roll. But right now I’m listening to “The Blue Mask”, one of his best records in my opinion. IMHO, as the kids say. One of the best moments in the whole history of music is Robert Quine’s solo on Waves of Fear. But that song! Man, that song! It’s cliché to say that Lou Reed’s voice was unique, it’s cliché to say he was an erudite writer, it’s cliché to say that his guitar playing was under-rated and it’s probably cliché to say that the world won’t be the same without him.

So fuck 2013. Fuck that year that saw the death of JJ Cale and Lou Reed.

Yeah, that was my eulogy. I know, it wasn't all that good. It started out ok but fizzled out at the end. Just like we all do.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saint Vitus @ La Maroquinerie, Paris - March 9th, 2013








Monday, February 18, 2013

Gary Clark, Jr. @ New Morning, Paris - February 18th, 2013




A great set from this young man who is evidently the future of blues guitar. The playing and the singing are as raw and intense as the groove is relentless. His current record Blak & Blu is one of the genre's best releases in a long time and most of tonight's setlist consists of tracks from that LP, with a few choice covers peppered in for good measure.

Seeing him in such an intimate setting is privilege: it is obvious that he will be headlining much bigger venues very soon. It's not often you get to witness the inception of a future legend.




Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Wilko Johnson @ le Divan du Monde, Paris - February 5th, 2013


When an artist announces a farewell tour it's usually met with skepticism at best. The Who "retired" in 1982 and have embarked in hundreds of tours (and even a record) since. Ozzy had famously named his pseudo-retirement trek "No More Tours" in 1992 and he's still at it (and still a tit) twenty years later. KISS did the same around the turn of the century and Frank Sinatra, well Frank pretty much invented this scam didn't he?