Saturday, July 02, 2011

And while we're looking at the great smouldering kitchen...

US readers are being told to get ready to panic:

Yes, while the rest of use thought it was a question of shuffling out after a bit of a grease fire in a kitchen, for US Magazine, it was the second Great Fire Of London.

Silver Clef awards: High excitement

The Nordoff Robbins Silver Clef Awards - though usually raising a lot of money for the good works done by the charity - seldom generate much in the way of excitement.

Not this year, though: The place really caught fire.

No, actually caught fire, with the guests being sent out to stand in the street while the fire brigade came round.

It was after the prize giving - Paul McCartney was safely back inside his sealed storage unit - but there were still random people hanging about. Liza Minnelli, Tinie Tempah and Annie Lennox huddled together and hoped the puffs of smoke from the kitchens weren't merely the first acts in a Towering Inferno style disaster.

They weren't.

This year's winners, by the way:
O2 Silver Clef Award - Annie Lennox
Investec Icon Award - Liza Minnelli
TAG: Design & Interactive Newcomer Award - Tinie Tempah
PPL Classical Award - Alfie Boe
Hard Rock Ambassadors of Rock Award - Arcade Fire
Royal Albert Hall Best British Band Award - Biffy Clyro
Raymond Weil International Award - Swedish House Mafia
Sony Ericsson Lifetime Achievement Award - Status Quo
American Express Digital Innovation Award - McFly
Best Live Act - Sir Paul McCartney

Yes, that is McFly: digital innovators.

Gordon in the morning: Easily shocked

Much as Ocean Colour Scene's second coming saw them trailing out the butt of Oasis, so too are bands now clinging desperately to the arses of Kasabian.

Gordon has one in session this morning, and can't even be fagged pretending they're there for any other reason than who they know:

Kasabian's pals thrill in session
You know the band aren't something special when they can't even get their own name in a headline on their own session.

Gordon introduces the friends-of-friends:
KEEP an eye out for these MODERN FACES.

The as-yet-unsigned Scottish group have attracted a load of interest from major record labels after a shock recent support slot with KASABIAN.
A shock support slot? Is it really that surprising - they're signed to a Leicester label which Tom Meighan did a charity single for last year. And they play some ploddy boy-boy-rock. It's hardly like Kasabian went out with a group they found playing in a souk, is it?

Friday, July 01, 2011

How have we even had an immigration debate without Roger Daltrey's opinions being canvassed?

Roger Daltrey has a had a wonderful career - a bit of performing in Australia, a bit of acting in America, some fish farming in the UK. He's surely a big fan of the idea that people should be as free to sell their labour wherever as he has been, right?

No, of course not.

Daltrey, now 67, has told how the influx of thousands of immigrant workers from the rest of Europe during Labour’s 13-year reign left the indigenous working-classes unemployed.

The star told how the last government left ‘the British working man screwed like he'd never been screwed before by cheap labour coming in from Europe.’
It's unclear if Daltrey has got his first-hand knowledge of "the British working man" from experiences on his massive country estate, or at his chi-chi London home. Or, possibly, from his other home in America.
He went on: ‘We do need immigration, but surely it should be a level playing field where they can't undercut every working–class bloke in England for their jobs.’
That might sound like an attempt to be reasonable, but really just goes to prove that Daltrey's grasp of economics is a weak as his voice is loud. He seems to be blaming immigrants for being willing to work on a low wage, rather than the employers who choose to pay as little as they can get away with. In fact, Labour did help a little with this - they introduced the minimum wage without which it's probable that wages would have been driven down still further.

It's telling, though, that Roger doesn't want wage rates to be driven up by expecting employers to pay more to everyone - instead, he just wants to somehow have a "level playing field". But given that there's a marketplace in which everyone is already competing equally, isn't what he really asking for is an unlevel playing field?

Still, Daltrey is an equal opportunities blowhard:
However the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government were not spared his ire either, with Daltrey adding: ‘The quality of our politicians is tragic.’
I've read this article a couple of times, and can't seem to see the point where Daltrey offers to do any better.
Daltrey also had harsh words for the machinations of the NHS.

The star has long been involved in charity the Teenage Cancer Trust. As a result, he has experienced the workings of the NHS.

He said: ‘You suddenly see the enormity and complexity of it, and the truth that no one wants to accept that there's nobody in charge.

Everyone knows it can't carry on, but you can't touch anything in the NHS because the nurses are in their trench, the doctors are in their trench, the unions are in their trench – it's the First World War.’
It's not enormity - that means 'great evil', you booby. Daltrey's description of the NHS sounds less like a considered opinion and more like someone who has half-read a Daily Mail editorial and then half-downed a pint of Old Peculiar. The problem is not that you can't touch the NHS, it's that politicians can't stop touching the bloody thing. Seriously, there are teenage boys who are better at hands-off than the Department Of Health.

Daltrey doesn't offer any actual definition of what these problems are beyond his broad-brush claims that nobody is in charge, which makes it seem even more likely that he's just churning talking points from the press that he doesn't really understand very clearly.

Still, if he's so sure that politicians are all crap, I look forward to his doing the decent thing and running for office. Maybe then we'll actually get to hear some ideas about how to fix things instead of the moaning of a very rich man.

HMV tries to claim less space for CDs means it's committed to music

HMV is spending six million pounds it doesn't have refitting stores to make room for ranges it can't sell, reports Music Week:

Chief executive Simon Fox revealed today that the group would refit 150 stores by the end of September, increasing the selling space for tech products such as MP3 players from 8% to 25%.

This has led some commentators to suggest that HMV is moving away from CD and DVD. But Fox said this is emphatically not the case. “It is not about cutting back on range but about cutting back on space,” he told Music Week.
Righto. How will that work, exactly?
In order to do this, however, HMV will need to change how it sells music and DVD. This will mean titles appearing in one space, rather than in several different locations, such as the chart wall and the gondolas.

“It is largely around changes to uniting and merchandising without compromising on range,” Fox explained. “We are very, very concerned to make sure that we get our stores as active as possible for music.”
Yes, nothing says "active for music" like cramming all the CDs in to a corner. Actually, nothing says "active for music" because it's a meaningless phrase.

Music Week doesn't really ask Fox if there's something ridiculous in expanding the store's electronics range at a time when companies which are more obvious go-to places for things like mp3 players are struggling and one - Best Buy - seems to have frozen expansion plans in the face of consumers' indifference.

Seriously, Mr Fox? As phones get smarter and smarter, and the cloud-as-music-player becomes a reality, you're ripping the heart out of your shops (again) to make more room to sell mp3 players as they slide towards obsolescence?

Borders agrees a sale

The remaining Borders business in the US has agreed a sale to Najafi. They own the Book Of The Month club; the deal needs court approval and the company will liquidate if they don't get it.

Glastonbury 2011: One in three

The coverage of Glastonbury performed well for the BBC, with about one in three of the UK population watching or listening to at least something from the farm over the weekend.

Oddly, given how concerned the Mail was about how much money was being spent covering the event, it seems to have not found the room to publish this story.

I had missed another of the Mail's carping pieces last weekend, by the way. Having had it pointed out to them that the numbers of staff they'd complained about produced a shedload of content, the Mail decided to complain about, erm, how much coverage there was:

What ever happened to editing? BBC's Glastonbury coverage to last twice as long as the festival itself

The BBC's Glastonbury festival coverage will last for twice as long as the event itself.

The festival's main events run for 72 hours, but the corporation's coverage will stretch to 83 programmes, lasting a total of 144 hours.
So, apparently, if there are many, many simultaneous live performances, you only count the length of time in which they take place, but you compare it with broadcasting hours where you add together the total length of time they take.

The Mail doesn't suggest what parts it would have "edited". Perhaps you only need the first verse of each song?

[Part of Glastonbury 2011 full coverage]

Gordon in the morning: Good news for Chris Evans

Colin Robertson files for Gordon with details of a deal done:

MOTORMOUTH DJ Chris Moyles will clock up a DECADE on the Radio 1 breakfast show after signing a £1.25million new deal last night.

The 2½-year contract will take the 37-year-old presenter up to New Year 2014 and will end with his tenth anniversary on the show.
It's a bad contract if it's guaranteed him the breakfast show for the next thirty months. And it seems to be less about any enthusiasm for Moyles than the lack of any obvious heir:
While emerging R1 names such as Matt Edmondson and Greg James are seen as possible heirs, they are said to be still too "green". Fearne Cotton, who follows Chris at 10am on weekdays, has also been talked about as a contender. Scott Mills, 37, would love the job - but he will be too old by 2014.
If you're seriously thinking about Fearne Cotton, you've got a tremendous succession problem.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grim news from HMV

We all knew HMV's figures would be bad. Now we know how bad:

LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - Struggling British music and DVD retailer HMV , which has been selling off assets in a bid to secure its future, said trading conditions were set to remain tough as it posted a 61 percent drop in annual profit.

The 90-year-old group, which has issued four profit warnings this year, said on Thursday it made a profit before tax and one-off items of 28.9 million pounds ($46.2 million) in the 53 weeks to April 30, in line with its latest guidance.

After tax and non-cash impairments charges from the assets it has sold, it plunged to a loss of 121.7 million pounds.
There is a small, profitable business at the heart of HMV. It's just not clear if it can escape the large, loss-making business that surrounds it.

Jazzie B: Taking a John The Baptist role

Good news, British music scene. Jazzie B thinks he's spotted a saviour:

Dappy from N-Dubz could save British music, according to Jazzie B.

The Soul II Soul star - who was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to British music in 2008 - thinks artists have to rely too heavily on collaborations to get a break in the charts, but has earmarked Dappy as one step ahead of the competition.
If Dappy is the answer, you've got to wonder if the question was even worth framing.

Gordon in the morning: In the teeth of common sense

Nicola Roberts has had her teeth fixed. Strangely, this seems to be unacceptable cosmetic surgery for Gordon, who has decided to poke fun at her:

NICOLA ROBERTS could always join The Beano if her singing career goes up the spout.
I'm not sure how a real person would "join" a comic, even if she had teeth.

Did I say it was Gordon who was having a go? Oh, no, let me correct that:
Her GIRLS ALOUD bandmates have poked fun at her new teeth by nicknaming her Gnashers.
Yes, it's "the rest of Girls Aloud" who are doing the laughing. Because, you know, it'd be unseemly for a man in his 30s pointing and giggling at a younger girl who had worries about her appearance.

Still, it's better than the dull story about one of Kasabian giving a boxer an England shirt, which appears to be little more than free advertising for Umbro.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MySpace CEO: Exciting news - you're fired

Techcrunch has got hold of the email MySpace staff were just sent (what, didn't Mike Jones think that posting an update on his MySpace profile would be good enough?)

From: Mike Jones
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2011 11:26 AM
To: Myspace All
Importance: High


Today, we are announcing that Myspace will be acquired by Specific Media, one of the world’s leading online media and advertising platforms. Over the next few days you will be hearing from the team at Specific, including their CEO, Tim Vanderhook, regarding their exciting plans for Myspace and how it fits in with the overall vision of their company.

In conjunction with the deal, we are conducting a series of restructuring initiatives, including a significant reduction in our workforce. I will assist Specific with the transition over the next two months before departing my role as Myspace CEO.

I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for the incredible experience it has been to lead this company and to work closely with all of you over the past several years. While I regret we won’t be working together at Myspace any longer, I am very proud of the work we have done here and believe we have performed with excellence – even under extremely difficult circumstances.

My time here at Myspace represents the most engaging and challenging time of my professional career. I have found our team to be comprised of the best people I have come across in our industry.

You can read the press release below. Once again, thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.


It's not clear, but I suspect Mike's exciting severance package will be better than that of the other exciting people losing their jobs in the exciting plans that Specific have.

MySpace finds a new home

According to reports, Rupert Murdoch and News International have offloaded MySpace to Specific Media.

They're mainly an advertising outfit; apparently they've paid $35million for somewhere between 90 and 95 per cent of the site.

It's not entirely apparent that Specific have any specific plans for the music wing of the failing social network.

Morrissey: People hate it when I become successful

Morrissey is currently, shall we say, between record deals, and it's because he's so popular, reports ContactMusic:

Legendary singer Morrissey still cannot get a record deal and thinks his previous success is hindering his career.
Is that so, Mozzer?
He said: "There's not much I can do about it. Once it becomes public that you aren't signed, you assume that anyone who wants you will come and get you.

"I think labels for the most part want to sign new discoveries so that that label alone is seen to be responsible for the rise of the artist. Not many labels want bands who have already made their mark, because their success is usually attributed to some other label somewhere else at another time.

"Most artists are remembered for the albums that introduced them, or that made their success. For this reason, the press only write about me in terms of the Smiths story, and the fact that I've had three solo number one albums - or even 25 years of eventful solo activity - is never mentioned anywhere. Odd."
I suppose it is possible that labels would rather sign a new act than someone who is already incredibly popular. It's well recorded that record labels are almost supernaturally averse to signing sure things, much preferring to ignore easy number one albums with an established act in favour of spunking cash away on a bunch of teenagers who may or may not prove to be the new Birdland.

Maybe Morrissey is having trouble finding a label because nobody wants an artist who spends a lot of his time grumpily explaining what that isn't racist, actually.

Or perhaps its because - although he has done quite well in terms of chart position, only one of his solo records has managed more than 300,000 sales and the most recent, Years Of Refusal hasn't even earned a silver disc yet, two years in. A guaranteed top ten act, then, but one unlikely to shift 60,000 copies.

Gordon in the morning: Louis Walsh is cleared

The man who made allegations of sexual assault against Louis Walsh has withdrawn the claims, and The Sun couldn't be happier:

SIMON Cowell last night spoke of his joy after close pal Louis Walsh was cleared over false sex assault claims - with the X Factor boss saying he always knew they were rubbish.
Larissa Nolan files a long story about how Louis never touched a man in the toilet:
The man who claimed Louis groped him in a club toilet is now being grilled by cops on suspicion of making a false statement.

Ballroom dance teacher Leonard Watters, 24, was arrested after retracting his complaint.
In fact, The Sun is so delighted Gordon Smart himself writes a little think-piece about how absurd the very idea of the allegations were in the first place:
WHEN I first heard the allegations being made against Louis Walsh I was genuinely shocked.

Ask anyone who knows him - he's one of the nicest blokes in showbiz.

I've known him for seven years and he has always been one of the most friendly, decent and warm characters I have met in the music industry.
There's a lot of this.
Earlier this year we had a night out in Dublin, with some late night drinking.

On those occasions it was obvious to me he hasn't got a bad bone in his body - even after a big drink.
It was obvious.
As soon as I heard the allegations, I rang Louis to let him know that police were investigating. In that phone conversation he categorically denied he had done anything wrong.
What Gordon doesn't mention, of course - and the reason the paper is fawning desperately over a man who doesn't have a bad bone in his body - is that despite knowing what a great bloke he is, and having phoned him and having got a flat denial, the paper still ran the story as a page one splash.

Interestingly, Nolan manages to drop part of Walsh's statement of vindication. Sun readers are told this:
Irish multi-millionaire Louis, 58, said: "I have been informed that I am no longer under investigation. I have robustly maintained from the outset that this alleged incident did not occur.

"This has been a hugely distressing time for me but I would like to thank friends and colleagues for their support.

"I am now just looking forward to getting back to work."
Can you spot the difference with The Guardian report of his statement?
He added that he had instructed his libel lawyer to "vigorously pursue legal action" against the Sun.

"I have robustly maintained from the outset that this alleged incident did not occur. While I obviously welcome today's confirmation from the Garda that the matter has been dropped, I remain outraged that this story ran in the first place in the Sun and I have instructed my libel lawyer to vigorously pursue legal action against the paper," Walsh said.

"I have no intention of letting this matter rest until I have received total and absolute vindication. This has been a hugely distressing time for me but I would like to thank all my friends and colleagues for their support and I am now just looking forward to getting back to work."
So Gordon's flattery looks like a desperate attempt to try and head off Walshs' learned friends.

I'm not sure it's going to help - not just because the news of the dropping of allegations is reported way down Bizarre (after something about Megan Fox and a tale of Wayne Rooney going to the toilet) while the original story was splashed over the front page. More importantly, surely Gordon going into print this morning saying "I didn't believe the story for a moment, and Louis told me it wasn't true" makes the appearance of the allegations on the front page even worse, not better?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Metallica: Halifax threatens to not send in the cops

This is a bit of a complicated one.

Last year, the Black Eyed Peas and Alan Jackson played Halifax - we're talking Nova Scotia here, not the Yorkshire one. Ticket sales were disappointing (or, perhaps, expectations were unrealistic) and the promoter, Harold MacKay, is yet to pay back CAD400,000 advanced by the city. Harold had paid back a bit, but then his company went into insolvency.

This year, Harold's wife Michelle MacKay is trying to put on a Metallica concert in the city. Not so fast, says the city:

"The MacKay family has asked the municipality to provide services in support of the METALLICA concert. The municipality is not obliged to provide the services you have requested. If you and any member of your family wish to continue to do concert business with the municipality, the municipality expects that a payment plan to reimburse the public for concert debts will have to be negotiated."
The city won't let police, fire or even permits for the merchandise stall to be assigned to the event without seeing greenbacks. Canadian greenbacks.

It's possible that Metallica fans would prefer there to be no police involved, but the idea of not being able to buy a tshirt would be horrible. They'd be planning to wear that tshirt until the next time Metallica are in town.

Kylie: Jakarta off? No, she just started late

Kylie's no fool. She knows the traffic in Jakarta is a nightmare, so she arranged to arrive at her gig there by helicopter.

Unfortunately, nobody thought to chopper in the crew, and so the gig still wound up starting half an hour late by the time they'd made it through the gridlock.

Gordon in the morning: Power station

According to Gordon Smart, Beyonce had been planning to play Battersea Power Station but... well, was thwarted?

BEYONCE'S secret gig suffered a bit of a setback when Health and Safety gimps banned her from doing a special show at Battersea Power Station in London.

It seems that saying 'you know what, that would be an unsafe place to do a gig' isn't actually a useful intervention, but somehow 'lame'. If only Gordon were in charge; if someone wanted Beyonce to play in a barrel going over the edge of the Falls Of Glomach, he'd just smile and nod.

Actually, scrub that - he's suddenly realised they have a point:
I would call them killjoys but I saw Beyonce's backing singers, THE MAMAS, at Glastonbury.

Their bras alone would need scaffolding.
Ha ha ha, because they're BIG, do you see? Ha ha ha.

Beyonce went to Harrods instead:
Bosses at Harrods must have been delighted that Beyonce and co turned up.

They are among the few people on the planet who can afford to shop there.
What? Is this Smart trying to reach out to a credit-crunched readership by going "tschaw, those rich people with their rich ways, eh?"

He also finds time to kick one of his predecessors:
She also had the misfortune of being pestered by a chubby old showbiz reporter clinging on to his youth, PIERS MORGAN, who was interviewing her for news channel CNN.
By the time Morgan was Smart's age, he'd already moved on from editing Bizarre and was just about to start his second editorship of a national newspaper.

(Note: being fair to Piers Morgan has led me to sicking up both my kidneys.)
All those businessmen in hotels around the world will be looking forward to seeing an interview with one of the hit parade's finest.
No they won't, Gordon. They have channels which keep them better company, without having half the screen taken up by Piers' face.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Glastonbury 2004: This review just in

It's taken a while for him to file his copy, but Liam Gallagher has the last word on Oasis 2004 set. Talking to Shortlist:

You’ve also recently been critical of Glastonbury. Are you not interested in playing it again?

I’m not, mate. Listen, I don’t wake up in the morning and go, “Here you are, the world according to Liam Gallagher.” Someone asked me about Glastonbury so I told them that last time I played there it was shit. You can hear the crowd talking while you’re playing, they don’t put any money into the PA and it’s just full of fucking idiots. It’s like Bond Street with mud.
Liam, you do realise you're supposed to be so worth watching the crowd don't talk, don't you?

[Thanks to Michael M]

Glastonbury 2011: Was there a Zane Lowe thing?

Last night, watching Zane Lowe and Lauren Laverne wrap up after Beyonce had finished, it was mildly interesting to see someone on the BBC coverage say something other than "that was fabulous", but it took the Daily Mail to turn Zane Lowe's decision to watch something else into a point of national outrage:

Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe churlishly refused to comment on her set in a discussion with BBC 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne - and caused outrage on Twitter.

Lauren had been saying why Beyonce was a great pop artist who'd put in a fantastic performance in the true spirit of Glastonbury and asked Lowe his thoughts.

But Lowe mockingly burst out laughing before simply saying rudely: 'I went and watched Queens Of The Stoneage. Here's Kool And The Gang.'
Is that rude? Is it churlish to say 'you know, with there being about seventeen or eighteen different bands playing, I chose to go and see something else; after all, my show on Radio One isn't really the sort of place you'd hear Beyonce so I figured it'd make sense for me to go and see the type of act I play on the radio instead'?

If Fearne Cotton had said something like that, maybe it'd be worth mentioning. Given that she has a contract which only allows her to say that things are "fantastic" and all.

But Zane Lowe having gone to see Queens Of The Stone Age isn't news.
He had been due to continue hosting the aftershow coverage on the channel - but when it became clear that Beyoncé was going to be doing an interview following her set, he made a rather see-through excuse that he had to leave the site.

BBC Radio 2 DJ Jo Whiley then stepped in to do the interview with Lauren instead.
Is that true, though, Daily Mail? Of course it isn't. In fact, earlier in the evening, Zane Lowe had been complaining that he'd been told the aftershow interview was going to be an all-woman affair [1 hour 23 minutes in]:
"I just want to clear this up. When I started to talk about doing Glastonbury coverage on Beyonce day, I was told it ... it was going to be all about the ladies. I was like, Goddammit, that's sexist.
So, several hours before Beyonce came on stage, Zane Lowe had made it clear he wasn't going to be part of the interview team. On television. Still, why let the facts cloud a story, eh, Daily Mail?

Mind you, if you believe the subtitles, Lowe wasn't talking about Beyonce at all:
The Mail's picture captions even try to suggest that Lowe wasn't just not watching, but almost that he tried to ruin everyone else's fun:
Lot of love: Despite the likes of Zane Lowe, most people enjoyed Beyoncé's set even if they weren't massive fans
Yeah - I'd be really enjoying this set if I didn't think that at some point after the music is over, a television programme I won't be able to see might contain someone not saying that he enjoyed it in the way I am.

[Part of Glastonbury 2011 full coverage]

Glastonbury 2011: Quick morning press round-up

There was a strange moment yesterday, following the discovery of Christopher Shale's body in the Glastonbury toilets, that showbiz reporters were forced into covering a political story. So we tended to hear about how close he was to the Wayne Rooney caravan when he died, rather than his links to the Prime Minister.

Now the papers have had a chance to catch up. But if showbiz reporters had taken on strange roles yesterday, they weren't alone. The Daily Mail reports that Michael Eavis had appointed himself coroner:

At a news conference, Mr Eavis said: ‘I’m told it was a suicide situation in the early hours of the morning … It is a personal situation, but it looks like suicide.’
To be honest, even if Shale had taken his own life - perhaps especially if Shale had taken his own life - was it really appropriate for Eavis to be giving pronouncements on how he came to die?

Back with the music, over in The Sun, Gordon struggles to think of something to say about Laura Marling:
LAURA MARLING brought a welcome touch of normality to Worthy Farm.

With so many questionably-dressed people - both on stages and in the fields - it was refreshing to see somebody wearing their usual clobber.
Apparently so "refreshing" it demanded a sneering headline:
Laura Marling’s boring Laudrobe
Now, there's a load of Glastonbury coverage on The Sun's website, but I've yet to discover any of the bloke bands who turned up in work shirts and jeans be called "boring" for failing to have worn a lion costume. Funny that.

To give Rachel at 3AM in the Mirror her due, she did attempt to review the music. A bit:
During my bum breaks, I caught Jamie Woon's set and it was fantastic. I've heard a lot about this chap, but haven't listened to his stuff before. Sitting in the middle of a field with a pounding head and cider was the perfect way to be introduced to Jamie's chilled but strong, powerful tunes.

I spent a while sitting outside the dance tent and enjoyed watching the sweaty ravers from a purely visual perspective with my Vimto lolly (three pounds! Three. Pounds).
Hang on, she's already starting to file her expense claims.

Neil McCormick in the Telegraph isn't the sort to fall back on writing about ice lollies. He's noticed that - hey - there's something funny about a big US star being on a dairy farm:
Beyonce brought the sunshine to Glastonbury. Somehow the very idea of the urban pop queen strutting her stuff in mud-spattered wellies and pac-a-mac seems wrong, illustrating the disparity between her glamorous image and the down and dirty dairy farm festivities.
Hey - did you know Neil knows Bono? Out of U2?
Removed from the comfort zone of their usual sci-fi staging, U2 were forced to rely on road warrior skills, and proved consummate crowd-pleasers whose greatest strengths lie with heart and art, not space-age showbiz. At the end of the set, Bono pulled an Irish and a Union flag from the crowd to drape over amplifiers but that was about as political as it got, if you discount the limp balloon of a tax protest.
Hmm. I know he's your big chum, Neil, but it wasn't a "limp balloon" until security thugs went in and started to push the protestors about.

Interesting, by the way, that there were other political banners which didn't have security sicced on them - for example, the Don't Buy The Sun flag held aloft in front of the Pyramid stage - which does make it look even more like Glastonbury was just closing down anti-Bono protest.

Alexis Petridis, for the Guardian, saw the set of the other controversial act from this year's line-up:
Whether or not you agree with Michael Eavis's assessment that it was a "mistake" to book the Wombles for Glastonbury, it's hard not to feel at least a little impressed by them before they even play a note of music. On its final day, Glastonbury is being blasted by pitiless sun: it's a brave person who chooses to take to the stage dressed in a giant furry costume. Equally it's hard not to be a little puzzled by their decision to open their set with their best-known hit, Remember You're A Womble: when it finishes, alas, quite a lot of their audience chose to Womble off elsewhere.
Over at, freed from the deadlines and constraints of a print edition, the Glastonbury blog is the first place to turn for the latest from the field, right? Oh, Rebecca Shiller has filed. What did she make of Beyonce?
Last night, Coldplay headlined Glastonbury for the first time since 2005.
Oh. It turns out nobody has posted anything since lunchtime on Sunday, and that was about bloody Coldplay.

To be fair, there are a couple of news posts from later in the day, but 'Beyonce played' and 'Paul Simon played' hardly feels like you're getting much in the way of special insight.

Mind you, the coverage by sponsors Q makes NME seem like Reuters. A couple of news items - most recent is "here are the highlights that you might like to see today" - and a lazy Twitter box which seems to have relied on the website to do all the work - and that's it. Was that worth the sponsorship money?

[Part of Glastonbury full coverage]

Glastonbury 2011: View from the sofa - Sunday

Sunday was a great day. Press red started working again, and large chunks of great sets started to tumble out, muddled up from across stages and days.

The Vaccines twice - the set from what must have been Friday, judging by the rain and ponchos better than the second one, which sounded a bit puffed out. Warpaint, who hover on the verge of becoming part of the holy trinity. The Kills, who got hit by the poison pill of "I was really enjoying this until the long shot of Kate Moss staring from the side of the stage". And Everything Everything. Were they really wearing jumpsuits, or did it just look like it?

I'm not entirely sure what the chances are that if you flick on something which features Paul Simon you'll come in while Gracelands is playing, but it must be getting bloody close to 1 in 1 by now. Wasn't surprising to discover that he wasn't feeling well; he didn't sound as bad as he seems to think he did, but he did sound like he'd borrowed someone else's voice.

And so we reach the end of things, and Beyonce. Having started out the day convinced she was the first female headliner, by the time she took the stage Jo Whiley had her down as the first one in a quarter century; at the end of the set, she had been argued down to first in two decades. She's actually the first since 1999, when Skunk Anansie headlined. And Kylie would have done 2005 if she hadn't been ill.

Incidentally, the full list of female headline acts - starting with Suzanne Vega, and taking in Skunk Anansie and Shakespear's Sister - is a reminder that "playing last in chronological order at Glastonbury" has only been treated as kind of Nobel Prize for a few years. In 1997, Ash filled in when Stevie Winwood pulled out, remember.

So, how was the first woman to visit Somerset in thirty generations? Inventively, she styled her set as a tribute to the Spitting Image Orson Welles sketch. In that, Welles revealed that he'd played his career backwards - starting with the great movies, working his way back to doing crappy ads. Likewise, Beyonce started with what would have been a rousing finale - Crazy In Love and Single Ladies; worked her way through some of her more makeweight material; did what would have been a tantalising Destiny's Child medley before ending on one of those 'you are you, you're wonderful' syrup dollops - in this case, Halo. Complete with video of ordinary people on site smiling into a camera, like a mud-splattered Oprah audience shot. Even the fireworks came towards the start of the set.

Still, no "special" guests, and no Gordon Smart predicted Bohemian Rhapsody. Best Pyramid headline of the weekend, no question. But it's really going to benefit from being edited down.

[Part of Glastonbury 2011 full coverage]

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Glastonbury 2011: Christopher Shale was already in the news today

It could just be one of those strange coincidences, but Christopher Shale, the West Oxfordshire Conservative Association chair found dead at Glastonbury this morning was already in today's headlines, as the Mail On Sunday had got hold of a document he produced basically slagging the Tories off:

In a sign of how hard the party is finding it to attract new members, the document concedes that the Prime Minister’s own association gained only 22 members in the past year.

Their response is ‘Operation Vanguard’, which is designed to achieve a ‘transformational increase in [West Oxfordshire Conservative Association] membership, in ways others can apply to similar effect nationally’.

The plan is brutally frank about the failings of the constituency party. Shale writes that ‘collectively we are not always an appealing proposition’.

He slams the association’s fundraising efforts, saying: ‘Over the years we have come across as graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take.’
Strange timing.

[Thanks to @dillpickle]

Glastonbury 2011: Dead man named

SkyNews has just tweeted this:

Man who died in portable toilet at Glastonbury festival named as Christoper Shale, chairman of West Oxfordshire Conservative Association
That's David Cameron's association, of course.

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Clarence Clemons

On Collapse Board, Scott Creany explores how White America reacted to Clarence Clemons' death:

You do realize that by holding up the Bruce/Clarence dynamic as some sort of model, as some sort of goddamn INSTRUCTION MANUAL for harmonious race relations in ol’ messy America, you are essentially saying that white people should be in charge, should be the — excuse me, here — THE BOSS, and black people should be their sidekick, supporting them every step of the way? That the white man gets to be in charge? And the black guy’s just there to lend a little soul and authenticity?

Glastonbury 2011: Quick morning press round-up

You'll have been wondering yourself, but only the Mirror dared to ask the burning question: Just what has been Fearne Cotton's highlight of the festival?

She told me: “Swaying in the mud to U2 was pretty sweet, definitely my highlight. Then I raved in the dance village to ANNIE MAC. The weather has been crap and I managed to ruin my new pink jeans. So that sucked.”

Ah, those festival highs and lows.
Light and shade, light and shade.

The Mail seems to have lost interest in Glastonbury today, just finding space for some minor scuffle when somebody asked Wayne Rooney for an autograph. It's understandable he'd get annoyed if someone was cruel enough to ask him to write.

For the Telegraph, it's still the U2 set which is occupying their thoughts. In particular, William Langley wants to know why we don't respect the tax-dodging, power-loving, environment-destroying hypocrites?
Bono and his men are currently on a tour of the US, and to reach deepest Somerset they had to fly in from Baltimore and straight back out again to Michigan. But instead of showing gratitude, many among the plastic poncho-clad crusties were still complaining about things like the group’s “brand image” as the rockers arrived on stage.
To be honest, William, if you're on a massive tour of the US leaping from East Lansing to Miami as a matter of course, a detour to Bristol isn't that much of a journey out your way.

And the Glastonbury audience as "poncho-clad crusties"? Have you seen a shot of the crowd there that dates from any time after 1994?

Langley then runs through the grounds for objecting to U2's behaviour, before... well, petering out. It seems even Langley can't find any rousing conclusion as to how we're treating them unfairly, edging out with:
Glastonbury was fortunate to see the best of them. Even if some in the crowd would have preferred not to see them at all.
As one of the comments under his work points out, rather than constructing an argument that U2 are undervalued, Langley merely says 'some people don't like U2 much', which isn't really a revelation.

The Observer has had lots of letters, and one of them is about the Pilton Pop festival:
The Glastonbury festival is a feudal dictatorship with no trade union support for the workers, the equality levels of pre-revolutionary France and a private unaccountable security force. It's the modern equivalent of bread and circuses, with the green footprint of a small, coal-fuelled power station. The fresh air's quite nice, though.
The writer, David Trippas, gives his address as "Birmingham", but it's quite possible he sent that from an iPhone shortly after having asked Wayne Rooney for an autograph.

Glastonbury 2011: View from the sofa - Saturday

Cussedly, the BBC Red Button service fell off our TV last night, which made the opportunity to roam over the BBC coverage a bit harder. And BBC Four wasn't interested at all last night. It meant that I started to hit the "here's a GUIDE to Glastonbury" and "here's a person in our studio area doing some poetry" pieces that I'd managed to avoid on the first night.

Naturally, I avoided Coldplay at all costs, but did catch Guy and Chris doing a post-set chat with Jo and Mark "apparently the ghost of John Peel" Radcliffe.

Hold on. In an uncharacteristic twist, I'm about to say something positive about Coldplay.

Chris Martin, in particular, looked like a man who had just had the time of his life. Compared with Bono's attempt to try and explain how U2's set was probably the cleverest and most historic thing that had ever happened, Martin looked like someone who'd just really enjoyed himself and had been thrilled to be asked. Which was beautiful and refreshing to see.

They played a clip of the set after, and obviously it still sounded like weaponised turgidity, but at least their attitude was lovely.

Lots of space found across the BBC for Janelle Monáe, despite her having moved swiftly from the "brightest hope" to "not going to happen" column.

More Noah And The Whale last night, this time from a stage where the camera could get far enough back to have more than two of them in shot in at the same time.

Jessie J did her set sat on a massive, throne-like chair, and then brought on a kid from the audience to sing along with her. Coming at Saturday tea time, it was a bit like an attempt to reboot Jim'll Fix It. Jessie J did have mud smeared all over her face, making her look like part of the walking dead. Which, again, didn't shake off the sense that this was a Jimmy Saville joint.

At least her set was engaging, unlike Rumer, whose show was so blandly inoffensive the National Viewers And Listeners Association might have rejected her as entertainment for their Christmas Children's Party on grounds that she lacked grit.

Three triumphs yesterday: Glasvegas (although the blue light did nothing to shake the 'late night in a city centre Pizza Hut' feel to the set); the Daniella Nardini-plays-PJ Harvey of Anna Calvi; and Elbow. You've got to love Guy Garvey for taking to the stage with trousers covered in mud, like he'd just been out on a ramble before the show. By the time he got the audience doing a reverse Mexican wave and then twisted it into a spontaneous game of Simon Says, he'd won Glastonbury.

[Part of Glastonbury 2011 full coverage]

This week just gone

It's Glastonbury weekend, and you can read a full list of Glastonbury related posts if you'd like to.

The most-read things this week were:

1. Glastonbury 2011: Mail complains about how many people it takes to make hours and hours of TV and radio
2. Glastonbury 2011: Spinner's U2 fight turns out to be a slight disagreement over set lists
3. Liveblog: The last ever Mark & Lard show
4. Tatu up in arms: why would you think we were gay?
5. Glastonbury 2011: The uberpost
6. R Kelly sex video is admissible evidence
7. NME TV: Second least-watched channel in the UK
8. Heavy-handed security guards break up U2 tax protest
9. Glastonbury 2011: David Hepworth's festival flaw
10. Glastonbury 2011: U2 - view from the sofa

These were the interesting releases:

Atari Teenage Riot - Is This Hyperreal?

Download Is This Hypereal?

Bon Iver - Bon Iver

Download Bon Iver

Owl City - All Things Bright And Beautiful

Download All Things Bright...

The Fall - The Marshall Suite Box Set

Download The Marshall Suite

Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle Series 2

The sort of librarian you've got to have seen a lot of librarians to get

Glastonbury 2011: Death comes to the toilets

Breaking this morning: A man in his 50s has been found dead in a portable toilet on site at Glastonbury.