Category: <span>Media</span>

It has taken me a while to get the Spotify bug but as I can’t seem to escape it I’ve done my usual and leapt in at the deep end leaving my iTunes library mid-rebuild to explore Spotify and see how it fits with my needs. It’s good! I like a lot of things about it and I will happily admit it’s a much nicer place to be than iTunes which has meant that (as most of music listening is background stuff so I prefer things I’m familiar with) I’ve been going a bit playlist happy.

There are a mixture of things that are driving my behaviour, but the ‘availability’ of a large set of music than I have in my own collection, coupled with the speed at which I can find tracks are the main two reasons why I’m finding it much more fun to create playlists in Spotify.

However, it does leave me with a bit of a quandary.

Because I have access to so much music, I find myself easily distracted and start to get lost as I find more and more tracks I like.

For example, say I’m compiling a playlist of heavy rock music – Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Queens of the Stone Age, that kind of thing – and stumble across a remix of something which takes me off on a tangent into Nine Inch Nails and then to the Prodigy and then on to Chase & Status and… wait, what was I doing? This isn’t rock music!

Back to the playlists, but this time I’ll try and add to my Soul playlist. Ahhh yes, Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Eddie Floyd… wait I know that track from somewhere else, ohh yeah, Ami Stewart did a disco version, I liked that, I can add that to my disco playlist, and maybe some Bee Gees, Sister Sledge, Chic, ohh that Communards track that got overplayed… what’s this? Then Jericho, that’ll go in my 90s playlist and… gah! It’s happened again!!

Is it just me or is this a common affliction?

Has social media dropped my attention span so low that I can’t even keep focus long enough to add a handful of tracks to a playlist?

What does everyone else do?

Media Tech

Last Saturday we headed to Edinburgh for some Fringe frolics, with only a vague plan but no real expectations of what we might see, so as we walked towards the Gilded Balloon we accepted a few flyers and made some quick decisions!

First up was a musical comedian from Boston, Katie Goodman. She got things off to a great start with some lovely little songs and raps. Funny, crude and provocative, she certainly doesn’t mince her words; She thinks that some men are probably Gay, there are some things she doesn’t remember, she didn’t fuck it up and is a big advocate of Unfuck It Up.

Next up, and the highlight of the day for me, the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra. Cover versions, sing alongs, laughter, glow sticks, inflatable palm trees, DIY spotlights and mirrorballs not to mention some brilliant performances and delicious harmonies! It was an hour of joyous music and fun, I only wish it had lasted longer! (they do a nice line in tea towels as well). I am a ukelele convert!

Finally, we head down to the Pleasance and after some sustenance decide to pick whatever was next. And so it came to be that we found ourselves in the audience for Pete Firman, a magician with a nice line in cocky comedy, and some clever magic. He delivered some laughs, a some good tricks and it nicely ended the, somewhat random, day on a good note.

We struck it lucky for sure, three random shows that were all great, but of the three it would have to be the WIUO was definitely the pick of the bunch.

Life Media

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I have no idea how many gigs I’ve attended in my lifetime. I do know that I have tickets for them all, stored away in a drawer, all the way back to the first one (Simple Minds).

I’ve sporadically written up attendance at some of the more recent gigs, but by and large I’ve not bothered, mostly because in the warm afterglow of a gig, EVERY gig is pretty damn good!

It’s a common enough experience, you go and see a band you like and (for the most part) you have a great night hearing your favourite songs played REALLY loud and get this amazing feed of energy and vitality from the crowd. Sometimes it’s almost completely overwhelming and you get carried away in the moment, losing yourself in the moment.

Of course not every gig can be that good and, to date, I’ve only ever walked out of one gig. Sigur Ros and after 20-30 minutes of wailing droning noise I gave up. I like Sigur Ros a lot, but it wasn’t what I expected. But then, what does a band ‘owe’ us when we pay to see them perform?

One thing I have started to do over the last couple of years is be a little choosier as to who I see. Steering away from the ‘big venues’ and looking at smaller bands, or more intimate settings. Tonight I’m off to see KT Tunstall at Oran Mor, and old converted church near where I live. I’ve seen her live before so I know what to expect (great cheeky banter, and a very talented performer).

On the flipside of that I have just bought tickets to see Queens of the Stone Age (again) at the new Glasgow Hydro. Partly because I love the band, partly because of the new venue, which I really hope sounds the death knell for the Big Red Shed (SECC) in which I refuse to attend gigs because it’s so achingly bad.

Next week we are off to Glastonbury and, unlike two years ago at our first, this time around we aren’t massively planning who we want to see. We’ve picked out two or three bands we want to catch but, for the rest of the time we will be determinedly wandering around and hearing what we hear.

One day I’ll revisit that list of gigs, go through all the tickets and jot down any memories they stir up because, for me, that’s one of the reasons to go. To change the connection to the music, to be part of an experience that is both shared and individual. My memory of a lot of my life events is hazy at best, but when it comes to music I can remember lyrics and tracks from the day I bought my first LP (Friend or Foe by Adam and the Ants, favourite track the guitar heavy, A Man Called Marco) and it’s the same for gigs. I’m instantly transported back to the place, who I was with, my emotions at the time and, usually, a specific recollection or two (Runrig at Loch Lomond, smuggling in alcohol by injecting, with a syringe borrowed from some nurses, cartoons of juice with vodka).

Media

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“It just works”, they said.

“Except when it doesn’t” they didn’t say.

What follows is a bit of a rambling post about random playback issues I’ve experienced when using iTunes to stream music to an Airplay. Simply put, for no reason I can fathom, iTunes playback across Airplay will stop. The track is still playing in iTunes but there is no sound passed to Airplay. Searching for this issue has helped me narrow it down to the problem being iTunes, beyond that I’m stuck.

Read on for some lessons learned…

Media Tech

And so it was that, 20 years since first hearing a single called Alive by a band named Pearl Jam, that I sat and listened to the opening chords of Release with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

We’ve been through a lot, Pearl Jam and I, more than I probably remember. Almost every song has some meaning, some emotional memory attached and I’ll happily that I was probably a little over-excited to finally be seeing them live!

Setlist was interesting, they change it every night* so you never know what to expect but some of the song choices weren’t MY favourite but that didn’t detract from the fact that this is a well-seasoned rock band doing something they obviously enjoy. No gimmicks are needed, especially when you’ve got someone with a voice like Eddie Vedder, and despite my general loathing of overly guitar wank solos, even when Mike McCready was letting rip it seemed to fit, seemed to be ‘right’ for the song choice.

Pearl Jam have always been that little bit different. They don’t seem hell bent on commerical success and whilst they are very much a rock band, they always seem to have been happy treading a slightly different path, lyrically and musically. My love for word play drew me to them as I listened to Ten, their first album, and I’ve been a pretty faithful fan since then.

They don’t tour in the UK all that often, and I baulked at £90 for a ticket in London a few years back, but this time around it was a must. I’ve heard a lot of their live stuff, largely because they record most of their gigs and release them on their website for fans to buy. That said, you don’t half get value for money, two and a half hours worth of songs which continued even though the house lights had come on! Quite a sight to see a sold out Manchester Arena singing along to Rockin in the Free World (yup, Neil Young cover) and refusing to leave!!

The only downside was finding out that someone who spoke to Eddie before the gig requested a track, got it played and… yeah well it wouldn’t have been my choice of song, and from the less than enthusiastic response I don’t think it was a massive favourite all round!

Regardless, it was an excellent gig by one of my favourite bands, and for once it was great to have my expectations both met and overwhelmed!! Memories of Eddie swigging on a bottle of wine, the opening chords of Just Breathe (as part of Encore 1), a soaring Given To Fly, Pilate (not often played), and the closing encore of Better Man, Come Back, Jeremy, Alive and that stonking cover of Rockin in the Free World, will remain with me for a long time. Hopefully I’ll see the band sooner rather than later though, and if that means a trip to the USA, so be it!

* Setlist from the gig we attended vs setlist from the gig the next night (and yes, I now wish I’d got tickets to the second night!)

Media

When is too many, too many?, originally uploaded by Gordon.

I may have a problem.

In this photo there are 11 sets of headphones.

  • 3 – Sony MDR-ED 21LP
  • 1 – Apple iPhone set, with inline mic
  • 1 – generic headset with mic
  • 1 – Sennheiser PX100
  • 1 – Sennheiser PX200
  • 1 – Sennheiser EH1430
  • 1 – Sennheiser PMX70
  • 1 – Griffin Tunebuds
  • 1 – a-JAYS Three

I have a further 2 sets of generic iPod (white) headphones, and one set of Bose In Ear headphones which I use at work.

That’s 14 sets of headphones.

Fourteen.

FOURTEEN!

Update: I started writing this post mid-tidy up of some boxes full of cables, about 10 mins after publishing I’ve finished the tidy and found… another set of headphones (silver versin of the Sony MDR-ED 21LP).

FIFTEEN FRICKIN’ SETS OF HEADPHONES!!

I need help.

Anyone wanna buy a set of headphones from me?

Media Personal Musings

Faithless, Glasgow

I’m getting too old for the kind of gig I was at last night.

Too old to be on the main floor, arms raised, head back, jumping up and down in the midst of a writhing, sweary, ecstatic group of people all determined to give Faithless a little bit of payback for all the fun they’ve given us.

The place was packed, rammed to the rafters, there was no space anywhere so everyone just got on with things. Those that barged through had no choice, there were no angry exchanges, just bouncing, grinning, enthusiasm all round.

Epic. Was the word I used on Twitter last night and it still feels right. Maybe it was because I had no choice but to abandon myself to the whims and energy of the crowd, maybe it was because this was the ‘farewell’ gig from a band I’ve enjoyed for many years so I felt I had to give a little energy back to them, or maybe it was because their music demands such a response.

I’ve seen Faithless a couple of times before and by god do they know how to do a live show! They are most definitely a band, rather than the DJ led dance outfit which many of their tracks would suggest, and in a venue like the O2 Academy in Glasgow (an old theatre/cinema), with the bass reverberating, and the crowd in the palm of their hand, they nailed it.

The last few albums have been a bit hit or miss, so I can understand why they are calling it a day, but I’m sure they could spend another year or two touring the current setlist and still sell out wherever they go.

Epic.

Media

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I was at the Skunk Anansie gig last night and there were a lot of tattoos on display. A lot of them on women including one full lower arm piece. It got me thinking.

To have a large piece of ink on display, pretty much all the time, takes an attitude and lifestyle but which came first?

Was the “I don’t care what anyone thinks” attitude always there? Or was the tattoo part of gaining that attitude? Doubtless it was somewhere in-between but is there something there about being able to develop a mindset that maybe is sometimes hidden? A way of making a bold decision to make (force?) a change in your personality?

I think that it can take big events for some people to re-focus on themselves and take a step closer to who they want to be, and whilst it wasn’t the original reason behind my first tattoo, it’s certainly a lot closer tied to my thinking this time around.

Or maybe I’m just too old to care anymore.

Don’t answer that.

Media Personal Musings