Thursday, October 30, 2008

Desktop of the week

This photo was taken last Friday morning on Alvie estate, just south of Aviemore. The horse rider in the pink jacket is my daughter. And it makes a very nice desktop picture.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, October 26, 2008

X-Factor: Diana's hand

What is with Diana's left hand? She always has it up beside her cheek, sometimes palm forward, sometimes with the back to the camera. Even when they gave her a swing to hold on to, the hand kept popping back to its beside-cheek place... Somebody tell her not to!

Labels: ,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cosmos Rocking...

I saw Queen + Paul Rodgers live at the SECC last night. Fabulous.
No support act, no hanging about, no delays. Queen + Paul Rodgers came on at 8pm, exactly as planned and played for two and a bit hours. Great set.

I saw Q+PR at Newcastle on the 'Return of the Champions' tour a couple of years ago, they were good then, but they were better this time.

The audience ranged in age from about 8 to about 70. There were lots of Queen fans from the 70s who had brought their kids - now also Queen fans - along with them. There was a 16 year old boy near me air-guitarring the whole time. And there was a great atmosphere, everyone was just there for some fun.

I've often found the atmosphere in concerts in Glasgow to be more aggressive than concerts elsewhere, with the possibility of violence lying closer to the surface than normal, but there was none of that last night. It was a very good-natured gig.

There were no major surprises in the set-list, they played more or less the same range of 'greatest hits' as last time with a few tracks from the new album thrown in for good measure. But the sequence of songs was good and worked really well.

Let's face it, they won me over by starting with 'Hammer to fall' ;o)

Hammer to fall, Radio Ga-ga, I want to break free, I want it all, '39, All right now and the drum solo...

Low points:
Guitar solo, C-lebrity, Seagull.

Up until last night, the best drum solo I had ever seen in concert was Mick Fleetwood's solo in the Fleetwood Mac concert in the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1988. That solo was innovative and entertaining in that, halfway through it, Mick Fleetwood left the drum kit and carried on 'drumming' on his electronic waistcoat and, erm, dangling balls... but that solo has now been surpassed.

Roger Taylor started the solo with a single drum and cymbal - this was out on the satellite stage - after a minute or two, bass player Danny Miranda pushed the electric double bass that he had played the last song on closer and Roger started drumming on the strings of the double bass. A few fingerings from Danny and they played a few classic basslines between them - the theme from Jaws, Another one bites the dust and Under pressure. After a few minutes of this, Roger returned to the single drum and cymbal combo and Danny left the stage. Every minute or so, a stage hand would appear with another drum or cymbal and add it to the kit, so the drumkit ended up being a full kit - after about 10 minutes of this. The culmination of the solo turned into 'I'm in love with my car' which was good.

Brian May's guitar solo had its moments too. Those moments were the bits when it turned into 'Bijou' (complete with a tape of Freddie singing the single verse, which was really good) and 'Last Horizon' - in other words, the best bits were when he played actual tunes. But the rest of the 10+ minutes solo was the usual heard-it-all-before 'Now I'm here' and 'Brighton Rock'-esque guitar grunting with heavy delays. This was probably cool in 1974 but he's been doing more or less the same solo for over three decades now and its getting boring! Brian, please stop it!

Another thing Brian should stop is doing 'Tie your mother down' as the second song in every concert. Clearly he must think that this is his greatest song, but you know what? It isn't. Its dull and predictable these days.

But those two Brian gripes aside, he does well for a man of his age - running all over the stage, not seeming to get a note wrong, singing the occasional song and backing vocal and apprently having a good time. Of course, he is surpassed by Paul Rodgers when it comes to overall fitness and looking good for his age - I'd go as far as to say that PR looks better and fitter now than he did in his 70s heyday. On the last tour, Roger looked half dead at the end of the night, this time round he looked fine, so I guess all that touring and drumming over the past few years has been good for him.

I had hoped that the experience of the 'Return of the Champions' tour would have got the necessity of playing a 'greatest hits' set out of their systems, and the band could let songs like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' and 'Fat bottomed girls' go and play some more obscure (or rarely played) songs from their back catalogue. Sadly, no 'White Queen' or 'Sail away sweet sister' sneaked into the setlist. And it was faintly disappointing to realise that we'll probably never hear the great Brian or Roger solo tracks live in concert again. Pity, 'Foreign sand' or 'Resurrection' would have been good thrown into the mix.

But these are minor gripes. The band played a good selection of great songs and did them well. The atmosphere was fab and everybody on stage and off was having a good time.

Yes, it cost me £62 all told (once you take booking fees, postage and car parking into account) but it was worth every penny.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 09, 2008

You gotta be kidding...?


Monday, October 06, 2008

The Cosmos Rocks

I bought the new 'Queen + Paul Rodgers' CD on CD-WOW a couple of weeks ago. It still hasn't arrived. So the other day I got fed up and a copy from someone else...

Circumstances have contrived to make it very hard for me to listen to this album. The first issue was my wife, who actively dislikes Queen, so I didn't get to listen to it in the house. Then my car stereo decided to stop talking to my iPod. Hmph. But I have now managed to listen to it a few times. And I have formed an opinion:

Its quite good.

Considered as a Queen album its clearly not one of the greats. But maybe that's not a fair comparison. As a Paul Rodgers solo album featuring Brian May and Roger Taylor its pretty good. It ranks as generally better - and more consistent - than the rest of Brian May's solo output and is head and shoulders above almost everything Roger Taylor has done as a solo artist (or with 'The Cross'). So I'm happy with it.

  1. Cosmos Rockin'
    What's with the 'scary' voice at the start? It was off-putting the first few times I listened, and then I realised it actually is quite Queen-ish. They're clearly trying to sound like Queen here. Basically this is old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. And absolutely fine for all that. The title is a bit contrived, I get the feeling that the title and the song evolved independently and were tagged together, but I could be wrong. Sounds to me (haven't seen the writing credits yet) like a Brian May tune with Paul Rodgers lyrics.
  2. Time to Shine
    Nice. Another May/Rodgers composition, I guess.
  3. Still Burnin'
    This is a 'we're not dead yet...' song. I'm guessing its originally a Roger Taylor song with input from the other two. Album filler, but not too bad. Good backing vocals from Roger and the WWRY bit is good and appropriate.
  4. Small
    Lighters in the air. Quietly strummed ballad with anthemic sounding chorus. Good. But I'm sure we've heard the guitar solo somewhere before.
  5. Warboys
    This is what I feared the whole album would sound like. Uninspired Roger Taylor lyrics, OTT Brian May guitar and Paul Rodgers grunting about in the middle. Thankfully it only lasts for one song. I'm sure we've heard that guitar stuff somewhere before too. Not bad but far from great.
  6. We Believe
    Lighters back in the air. Yes, this world can be made a better place if only we all join together, grow our hair long and curly and wear clogs. Musically its a quite good album track, lyrically its a bit much. I suppose you can't have everything. This would have fitted quite nicely on 'Back to the Light' or 'Made in heaven', if you like those albums, you'll like this.
  7. Call Me
    This has to be the most chauvinist, egotistical sentiment on the album - "Call me if you need my love". Truly awful. Only a 70s rock star could write or song this. But musically its perfectly fine, really quite good actually. Sounds like a pure Brian May song.
  8. Voodoo
    Bluesy. One of the best songs on the album. I can't really imagine Freddie singing this one.
  9. Some Things That Glitter
    Surely the most nonsensical opening line on the album: "Once I loved a butterfly, don't wonder how, don't ask me why...". Yet another ballad. Yet another perfectly serviceable song, neither great not bad. Guitar work kind of reminiscent of the late 70s Queen stuff.
  10. C-Lebrity
    Another Roger lyric. Rock song by numbers. Scores a 'C-' try harder next time.
  11. Through the Night
    Guitar ballad. Something annoys me about the way that PR sings the word 'through' every time. And as it occurs many times in this song its hard to get past it. "Throooeoeoooough". But there's lots of nice guitar bits in there too. A bit like 'Nothin but blue', in a good way.
  12. Say It's Not True
    Well, we've heard this before. In this version it comes across more like "Foreign Sand" than I'd noticed before. But as Foreign Sand is Roger's best solo track since Freddie died, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Its a small song, more suited to Roger's and Brian's voices and kind of loses its 'smallness' when PR's big voice takes over.
  13. Surf's Up... School's Out!
    A jam session that should really be a single b-side, not on the album. Quite a lot of cliche rolled into one song.
  14. Small Reprise
    The guitar ballad style reprise to 'Small' (track 4). Not really a track in its own right.
So. If you like Brian May's solo work, you'll almost certainly like this. If you like Paul Rodgers stuff, you'll probably like this. If you're a Queen fan, you might like this. But its not really Queen.

Labels: , , ,