Saturday, June 26, 2004

A LONG DAY'S SOFABURY INTO NIGHT: The television coverage has really hit its stride today, deftly leaping between BBCs Two, Three and i, and severely cutting back the level of twitterage from Colin - Edith's actually been allowed to take the lead in some of their links, too, which is the sort of victory even the staunchest feminists had thought they would be denied.

Lots of talking over at the new bands stage, of course - BBCi is basically working like a big webcam for the duration, pointed at the stage for unbroken coverage, which gives Gill Mills a lot of time to have to fill. Of course, when you're wedged down the front of a stage, you can never be sure if the person wedged next to you is going to be a bore or a joy; Gill, it's fair to say, we'd happily be propped over the front barrier with. Today, she's been wearing something that appears to have been made out of a parachute. We think we're going to be having inappropriate dreams when we go to bed. More importantly, she's excellent at making the long wait a joy: her banter with Mark Radcliffe was the sort of meaningful nonesense Colin would love to be able to do. Radcliffe reported his experience watching the Black Eyed Peas - "two songs spun out to an hour and a half" and snickered that Paul McCartney's helicopter had been forced to land at Bristol airport because of the bad weather; Gill appears to ask him if he'd rather shag Macca or Liam and Noel and then states that she's not so desperate to fill until Zero Seven comes on that she's going to re-enact Linda McCartney jingles.

The Zero Seven come on, and you kind of wish she'd be back doing the Linda McCartney whistle. Incidently, isn't it some poor planning that sees Zero Seven headlining the New Bands tent, while something dancey is being served up in the dance tent, and Basement Jaxx are over on the Other Stage?

Basement Jaxx, by the way, are wonderful - there's about sixteen hundred people on the stage, all of them dripping sass and sexiness from every pore. And I'd totally forgotten just what an amazing single Romeo was. It's like having a bucket of still-kicking funk tossed over you. And the massaged in.

So, McCartney then. His first three songs on BBC Two are all Beatlesy covers - Drive My Car, Penny Lane and Get Back. This is his 3001st gig, and, to be honest, his voice sounds so shot that could well be his 3001st gig this year, rather than ever. And his backing band - which, doubtless, are all handpicked and well-paid and respected in their fields - sound more like midfield plodders than virtuousos (especially on Penny Lane; other bands would have been all the way up the Lane and into The Tavern tucking into their Mexican Breakfast before the Macca backers had got past the laundrette). The problem for Paul is that he's doing songs that are, these days, done much more like him by the thousands of fake Beatles acts that crawl the globe. You don't even have to go to the BeatlesFestival to come across them anymore; in the last week and a half Bargain Hunt and Ground Force have both shoehorned in appearances by the Mersey Beatles and some other bunch of duplicates-in-mop-top-wigs in the course of their usual BBC One business. Of course, there's a little bit of frisson from him being the bloke who was the songs, but based on a strict criteria of quality, he'd probably fail an audition to be in his own tribute band these days.

As Band on the Run starts, some tattered bright red banners drop down from the sky, although nobody seemed to realise they'd be slapping him in the face and flaunting themselves over the equipment. It's like we're suddenly live behind Claire sweeney's washing line. Then Back in the USSR. Does he do this every fucking time he plays live? He seems too, which is odd, since its a rubbish song, by any standards or measures you want to use. There's then some banter with the audience - we say banter, he actually started talking really oddly, like he thought we were the sort of people who couldn't really be trusted to make our own toast without burning the house down, but he was slightly scared in case we realised that he was thinking that: using an odd voice which sounded like a Brummie scouse impersonator and talking very slowly. Curious. Thank god he started doing Live and Let Die soon enough. We'd hoped he was going to back this with his other great spy movie theme, but if he did do Spies Like Us next, we wouldn't know as BBC Two and BBC Three swapped stages, so we got ver Jaxx and Colin got to pretend he was really, really excited by Paul McCartney.

Then, out of nowhere, comes the Jazz World stage - this year's poor relation, although not quite as poor as the acoustic stage which seems to have disappeared entirely; Phil Jupitus earns his fee by introducing Pressure Drop. When we reviewed the current series of Later, we were told we wrong to claim that Toots and the Maytals were a mile better than Bob Marley and the Wailers. We don't withdraw that; we just want to add a few extra miles to the distance they've always been out ahead.

BBC Two then return to McCartney, who's slipped on something of the wife's - not a leg, before you run away with yourself, it's a Ban Land Mines tshirt - the better to knock out Yesterday, Let it be, I Saw Her Standing There and - for a moment, my cycnical cold heart almost skipped a beat - Helter Skelter. Helter Skelter, of course, is meant to have lead Charles Manson to instruct his followers to kill. If he'd heard this shit version of it, he'd have probably done all the stabbing himself. Then its a little medley - if he'd have done Stars on 45, we'd have been impressed - and he's off, back to the Mull to feed himself a meat free cutlet. But not before setting off a small bomb full of glitter. They'll be picking that out of cow's hooves for months down at Worthy Farm. They'll be cursing him to high heaven.

Amy Whinehouse has just done something exclusive in the BBC Two studioette. She clearly wasn't that bothered about following on from Mr. Beatle, as she did very little to suggest she was trying. Perhaps we should just be thankfull she bothered to stand up.


Aaron said...

With Winehouse - why does the BBC go to the largest live music festival in Britain, and say to itself - "ooh, I know, what'll really turn our coverage around is an 'exclusive' acoustic performance".

McCartney was absolutely rubbish - I was there in 2000 when Bowie played, and that was magical - it didn't matter a toss that he was an old duffer living off former glories by the end - and he played for what must have been two hours. Sir Paul's set seemed very short, for some reason (although that might be just a TV thing).

Anonymous said...

Gill Mills? Err, no.

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