Music: June 2007 Archives

Snow Patrol at the O2

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Snow Patrol at the O2

I visted the O2 last night (previously the Dome) for a "secret" Snow Patrol gig that was an invitation only affair for many of the people who worked on the site, or had something to do with it. My involvement is minimal to non-existent - I supplied the odd piece of data to a friend who works there.

The last time I got off the tube at North Greenwich was in 2000 when the Dome was originally open. I was vaguely curious about the delights it held in store at the time, but my real reason was that somewhere within, there was a machine that scanned your body and allowed you to create a digital avatar. You could then use this in various PC games. As it happens, I didn't really use mine as the resulting avatar really brought home how out of shape I was.

Anyway, last night I made my first return visit, and the Jubilee line delivers you straight to the neon lit venue. Once inside the dome, they x-ray your bags (or at least should), and then you can wander around the various shops and bars. There's an 11 screen Vue cinema, and a VIP bar which was quite smart.

I was whisked upstairs into one of the very plush suites which have a bar and eating area at the back, and seats in the arena at the front. All in all a very civilised way to watch a concert (Of course, this does now prevent me from writing a rant that I'd had building up inside me, about all the VIPs at that great "egalitarian" festival Glastonbury. Still, you do have to read Charlie Brooker on Glastonbury in Monday's Guardian). I preferred to sit on bar stools overlooking the seats in front of me into the main arena.

The arena is very adaptable with sports events including basketball, ice hockey and, er, Ultimate Fighting Championship events coming up. I also understand that for smaller events they can put in a fake ceiling to make the arena feel more intimate and cut-off the top tier of seats.

What about the concert? Well, I saw Snow Patrol on the Isle of Wight a couple of weeks ago, and they're very much a band that everybody likes a bit, but nobody loves. They're quite probably the biggest selling contemporary band in the UK, but they're just not a band you can get excited about. The invited audience at this gig certainly didn't get too excited. The band played gamely on, and had success with a couple of their really big numbers.

What I will say is that the acoustics are excellent. AEG, the American company who built it, are stadium experts and considering that it's a similar size to Earls Court or Wembley Arena, it sounds vastly better.

Finally, a really nice thing. There's a bit of wall somewhere near the main entrance which has the names of 11,000 or so people who worked on the project. And my name's up there! Names are sorted in alphabetical order, and although this terrible photo doesn't do it justice, I'm on the topline. I love it - even though I feel a bit of a fraud (See also my Lord of Rings DVD appearance).

My Name at the O2

Hyde Park Calling and the Buena Vista Social Club

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The Feeling

And so to Hyde Park Calling - a festival that happens at the same time as Glastonbury, and so has an "old rocker" feel to it.

Due to a bit of a cock-up on my part, one of the newer singers I wanted to see, Terra Naomi, who'd I heard on the cover CD of this month's Word magazine, was singing the last lines of the last verse of her last song as I entered her tent. Not a great start then.

The set-up is one big stage and two smallish tents. I was actually quite worried about how small the tents were, because I was planning on seeing the Buena Vista Social Club in one of them later. I made a mental note to make sure that I arrived nice and early to see them.

On the main stage, I watched The Feeling perform essentially the same set as they'd performed at the Isle of Wight Festival a couple of weeks ago. That didn't bother me too much because I'd enjoyed it before, and they've got a few quite decent songs, and I got to hear their cover of Video Killed the Radio Star again. What a great song!

The one worry I had was that the heavens were going to open at any time. Most people were glancing in a worried manner skywards every so often.

Next up was Crowded House, who were pretty good. I say that, but I only stayed for a couple of songs before heading off to the second stage in one of the tents. I wanted to make sure I could get in for the Buena Vista guys.

Member of the Buena Vista Social Club

I needn't have worried as there was plenty of space when I got there and watched Jason Mraz finish up. He was pretty good from what I saw of him, but his fanbase and that of the next band didn't seem to overlap and they all left. That afforded me the chance to get right down to the front and stand on the railings at the dead centre of the stage. You really couldn't get a closer and better view.

And that's where I stayed for the entire show. The Buena Vista Social Club band was formed for the film of the same name by Wim Wenders back in 1999. Since then, a few of the big stars who came together for that film and the subsequent album and concert performances have died. But Cuba's an incredibly musical place, and those band members have been replaced. As the Wikipedia entry quotes, the band is "something of an anomaly in music business terms, due to their changing line-up and the fact that they've never really had one defining front person ... It's hard to know what to expect from what is more of a brand than a band."

So today's version is not at all the same as the band we've seen in the film, although several "original" members are still there performing.

Nonetheless, they still play some quality music and a packed tent (made even more packed by the heavens suddenly opening and a much promised dumping of rain finally arriving) is soon dancing and clapping along to the great melodies.

I had a whale of a time.

Afterwards, I wandered out to watch a little of Peter Gabriel before I left to go home. I didn't hang around long, as one after another unfamiliar song was played. Then Gabriel announced that he'd held a vote on his website where fans had picked some of the lesser played songs for him to perform tonight. Suddenly, even though this was a "festival" where greatest hits sets go down fine, we were to become a fan club only event. I left.

More photos over at Flickr.

The Special Edition

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So I'm popping in to HMV after work to look for an album, and can't help but notice all the special editions of albums that are on sale. It's pretty typical these days for albums to be packaged in at least two different manners. It might be that one set comes with an additional DVD, although you need to be careful, since at the start of an album's life, there aren't typically all that many promo videos to give away. Or the album, might come in a larger pack with artwork, a booklet or some other wonder.

But sometimes it's just stupid. Take the new Paul McCartney album. You can buy it in its normal packaging. Which is fine. And as we all now know, it's available from branches of Starbucks as well as from download sites (although sadly for Sir Paul, the Starbucks sales don't count towards the charts). But there's a "deluxe packaging" set that comes with a second CD. That CD has some sort of "making of" piece of audio with Sir Paul talking us through the tracks. An interesting, and quite possibly worthwhile extra. It's the other "extra" that you get with this CD that made my jaw drop in HMV. The CD - which was released just a couple of weeks ago, don't forget - also comes with "3 Bonus Tracks, Previously Unreleased."

Wha?

You mean these are three tracks that didn't make the album - released on the same day - yet made the "deluxe packaging" set. How can anyone describe them as "Previously Unreleased?"

OK - so they might be McCartney back catalogue songs, but seriously...

However, the award for showing the most affront must surely go to the recent Bruce Springsteen releases. His last studio album was the excellent We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions which actually came as a dualdisc. That is to say, it was packaged with a DVD (indeed I saw some packaging that came with a DVD and CD on the same disc.

But don't buy that version, released in April last year. To tie in with his tour in the autumn of last year, the album was re-released as the Land Edition (same price at Amazon), which comes with three additional songs and an extra four videos on the DVD, an extended documentary, and extended booklet. That's annoying for a completist isn't it?

But wait, if you saw the tour, perhaps you'd like to relive it with the Live in Dublin version of the album just released. Although be careful. You may instead want to pick up the version that comes with a DVD.

There's no word yet on whether or not this album will be re-released in a few months with a couple more tracks. Watch this space!

On a related note, as I wandered into HMV I noticed that their security barriers carried their regular adverts for a CD or DVD release. This week, it was Hot Fuzz which was released last week. Except I couldn't help but notice that the first 5 in £15.95 was cutout and stuck ontop of something else. It couldn't have been the 3 in £13.95 that they were charging last week could it? Why... yes it could.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Music category from June 2007.

Music: May 2007 is the previous archive.

Music: July 2007 is the next archive.

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