Sunday, 27 March 2011

He sees faces in the sky

People often say to me "Hey, Bright Ambassador, where did you get that groovy user name from?" Well, wonder no more, dear reader, because here's where I got the name from. The last time I saw this band I had the full force of the bit at 7m 12s in this video directly in my ear'ole because I'd found myself standing right next to the PA in an attempt to get a better view of Chloe Alper. I seem to remember climbing on top of floppy-haired students, such was my desire to have a gawp at the nu-prog goddess of the four string. I was 38 at the time. Oh dear. I reckon I could piss the drum part in this an'all. Ee-zee!
What a pity their last LP was a bit of a stinker. Ho-hum.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Fools Rush in

So this Rush ticket thing then. I wish I'd never bothered asking this Random Rush Fan to come now. I said to him "If you can't find anyone to go with you can come with us". He's more than taken me up on that offer. He rang me the other night and said "I'm looking at Rush tickets now, how many extra people can you get in your car?" Bloody hell. I'm sure I've got an aura above my head that I can't see which reads "Sucker". I've offered to take the bloke, out of the goodness of my heart I might add, thinking it'd be a shame for him to go on his own, and now he's roping in all sorts of mates to come along. I have a hatchback, not a minibus.
I kind of wish I was going on my own now. I've seen Rush quite a few times now and I've always been on my own. I do this because I know they're a bit of an acquired taste and I certainly wouldn't want to subject anyone else to Geddy Lee singing, in the way he does, about a dystopian world in the future where music has been banned and then a guy who finds an ancient flute in a cave gets chucked into chokey for playing it. Or something. See what I mean? Would you like to sit through that? And a ten minute drum solo? Thought not. Whenever you say to people that you like Rush they always either say "Who?" or they roll around on the floor pointing and laughing. It's best if you hide your light under a bushel as far as liking Rush goes. Saying you like Rush is a bit like saying you vote UKIP. Or admitting you're still a virgin (and in many cases with Rush fans...). Or that you think Jeremy Clarkson has got some interesting things to say (and in many cases with Rush fans...)
The other reason I like to go on my own is so that you don't have to interact too much with other Rush fans. You can just turn up, get your ticket ripped and enjoy the show. More typical Rush fans can't wait to spend time together. They rock up in the Signals Tour t-shirt they bought at Stafford Bingley Hall in 1982 and swap  tales about the flattened sixteenth Alex dropped into Closer to the Heart at Wembley on the Hold Your Fire Tour of 1988. Or the time that Neil Peart fluffed a drum fill during By Tor and the Snow Dog at Birmingham Odeon in 1979. Aah, what larks. Not.
They also love to drink. And they love to drink together. Usually while eating a curry. Eating a curry while wearing their Moving Pictures t-shirt. And when they've finished doing that they like to headbang and throw that stupid devil's horn sign populated by Ronnie James Dio. And when they've finished doing that they moan that Rush aren't as good as they used to be. I tell you, Desmond Morris could get a whole book out of observing Rush fans at a Rush convention.
Aah, now then, Rush conventions. I used to be quite pally with a lad, when I used to frequent Rush messageboards (not advised, Rush messageboards. All human life is there) and I asked him once if he fancied going to the UK Rush fan convention, you know, 'for a laugh'. I loved his answer, and I've never forgotten it: "Spend a day with a load of Rush fans? No thanks."
So I wish I was going on my own now and not having to spend the late afternoon and evening listening to some Rush fans quack on about Cygnus X-1. Sometimes loving a band is very hard work. I hope Geddy Lee's pleased with himself.
Having said all that though, they're one of only two bands whom I get incredibly excited about when I see them walking onstage. Who'd have thought that three Canadians could exert that much emotional power over one human being?

Here's the world's greatest living drummer, and, as it happens, also the world's mardiest man trying to do 'comedy'.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Not very special Kay

I give to charity. I feel that as a relatively decent human being that I should. I'm not saying "I'm great cos I give to charity and I'm going to shout about it so you all know", but as someone who's in relative good health, has a roof over his head, is kept warm, gets paid okay for his job, has access to clean water and a plentiful supply of food then I feel I'm a lot better off than two thirds of this planet's population, so you might as well spread the wealth a bit.
Something that always surprises me is when people ask what you'd do if you won the lottery. I tell them that I'd keep enough for myself to live on for the rest of my days, spread some amongst my family and friends and then give the rest away to charity. "Why would you do that?" a colleague asked me once. The answer is that where I'd spend the money on thrash metal box sets, sweets, army surplus vehicles, Top Trumps, expensive pants, trainers, or Lamborghinis, there's a whole lot of good work some charities could do with a million or two. Of course it's not up to me to dictate how other people spend their money. For all you know I might have a crack cocaine and high class escort addiction and that would be my right to indulge in those things (although crack is illegal. The closest I get to a high these days is last winter when I mistakenly took a dizzying cocktail of Red Bull, Disprin and Tixylix. What a night that was! And the nearest sexy thrill is a sly glance at the odd bum every now and again).
So anyway, this colleague countered with "I don't need charity so they're not having my money" Which got me riled up for a start. He wouldn't have my argument that in the future he or his family might need to call on the services of a charity.
What I'm leading to here is this: I saw Peter Kay on telly the other night promoting that single he's done for Comic Relief. A worthy cause, I'm sure you'll agree. What he then was announced was that he was releasing an exta 500 tickets per night the last stint of his tour. Why can't he just promote something for charity without promoting his own career? I saw him launch that Children in Need single, then in the next breath said "Oh, and tickets for my tour go on sale tomorrow morning at nine, that's nine o'clock!" To be fair he did say that a pound from the sale of each of these 500 extra tickets will be donated to Comic Relief. But not to be fair, only a pound? Couldn't the exchequer of Peter Kay find a bit more in himself to donate more than £500 a night? This is Peter Kay who sold out 21 nights at the Manchester Arena in an hour, that's over 300,000 tickets. Plus there's the other venues ticket sales too, so he's hardly on his uppers, is he?
How much money does one person need? Really? Especially as he always quacks on about how he's just this normal bloke from Bolton who doesn't live a showbiz life. He's clearly saving up for something; God knows what.
He's not even very funny. As the great Stewart Lee once observed: "Peter Kay isn't really a comedian, just someone whose very good at remembering things."

Friday, 18 March 2011

Throw beef curtains wide...soz, couldn't help myself

Please be aware that the usual bigging up of prog metal bans, shite TV rants and other nonsense is being suspended for the duration of this post while I talk about 'man feelings'. Eeerrgghh! Yes, I know, but if we all hold hands we can get through it together, okay?

So then, to the Nottingham Arena last night to watch Elbow. Not been there for a couple of years since I went to see a shirtless James Hetfield of Metallica stomping around the stage with a customised Flying V strapped on shouting "COME ON SING, NOTTING-HAM! LET'S MOTHERFUCKING TEAR THE MOTHERFUCKING ROOF OFF THIS MOTHERFUCKING PLACE!"
Last night couldn't have been more different. First things first though and the evening got off to bad start when I saw a Glaswegian I know who used the medium of Facebook last year to openly criticise me. Don't know what I'd done to upset her but the cheeky cow kissed me and addressed me as 'Big boy' last night. Ugh! So that put me in a bad mood.
Wasn't to last long though. Elbow are one of those bands that get grown men weeping. Don't know why. Look at leader Guy Garvey, a lump of a man in a three piece suit who wouldn't look out of place as a bouncer (also nice to see someone the same shape as me make it as a rock star).  Thing is, he's immediately got everyone on side; women fancy him and men want to be his mate. In between songs his patter is that of a stand-up comic but when the music starts again his voice is like hot butter dripping off a biscuit. He could break a thousand hearts with one song. And he did with me, unlike a lot of the crowd who decided to film it via mobile phones, during Mirrorball (perhaps my favourite Elbow song) I shut my eyes and sang along. Bloody amazing.
I did have my doubts about how Elbow would cope in an arena; needn't have worried. A smaller stage had been set up on the floor with a runway between so that Garvey, and other band members at times, could go into the middle of the crowd. This stage came into its own when a piano doubled as a cocktail cabinet which the band took green drinks out of while a spare was handed to an audience member.
There was also another lovely moment  - similar to the last time I saw them when Garvey directly addressed a couple in the audience the male half of whom was going to ask his girlfriend to marry him during a particular song - where he directly addressed a couple in a block right at the back of the arena. He announced that they were officially the farthest people from the stage and bought them up on a big screen. During the finale of One Day Like This he ran from the stage up to that couple and sang to them. Just lovely.
I'm not known as 'a crier' but I had a massive lump in my throat at the end. That's what you get with Elbow you see: loveliness. You come out feeling so good about yourself and every other human being on the planet. It's left me with a great feeling today. I love Elbow. I love my gig-going mate who always laughs at me throwing in Gregory's Girl quotes randomly. I love that shifty man who was standing a bit too close to my car when we got back to it. I even love that Glaswegian woman. And I love you.

Edit 19/03/11: Elbow once said "we still believe in love so fuck you". Sentiments which I whole-heartedly agree with. BUT I still don't want to go on holiday with you.
It's a beautiful day out there, go on, go outside and pat a random small child on the head. Or summat.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


Just had a phone call from my drum tutor (he hates being called that. Good) to tell me that he's given my phone number out to some random Rush fan who wants to go and see the Canadian prog metal power trio. Thing is, this Random Rush Fan asked me ages ago if he could come with me next time I was going to see them. Guess what? I've already bought myself and my drum tutor tickets for Rush without telling Random Rush Fan that I'd got them. I didn't tell him because a) I'm not overly bothered about going with him and b) I, er, kind of conveniently forgot about him. Now this tit of a drum tutor's gone and given him my mobile number so that Random Rush Fan can ring me to discuss going to see Geddy Lee and co at Sheffield Arena. When Random Rush Fan asked Drum Tutor if he knew if I'd got tickets to see Rush he just said *insert stupid voice here* "Er, I know he's thinking about it". 'Thinking about it?' I bought him and myself two tickets last October! What am I supposed to say to Random Rush Fan when he phones now? "Oh yeah, I wasn't bothered about going with you so I didn't bother to tell you." Or how about "Oh yeah, Rush, you say? Do you know I think I might already have got myself and Drum Tutor tickets, let me check in my fucking ticket stash and find out. I know they're one of my favourite bands and everything but it's slipped my mind about buying tickets. Now, where did I put them..?" I know Drum Tutor reads this, and I hope you're enjoying teaching someone triplets, paradiddles and 12 stroke rolls while I'm sitting here fretting about what I'm gonna tell this bloke. I bet you're pissing yourself, aren't you, Mr Drum Tutor? Groo! Well done, you're starring on my blog.

Anyone got any suggestions for a get out? God, I'm fucking mad...

Thursday, 10 March 2011


So, being forty then. What was I worried about? It's fine. I've not suddenly gone all uncool, started eating Werther's Originals, stopped liking loud music or moaning about aches and pains. In fact, seven weeks in, I think forty suits me quite well. It means I can now go "Of course I don't know who Jessie J is, I'm forty for God's sake" or "I'm a little bit past all that, I'm forty for God's sake!" or "Of course you won't remember the YTS/not having a mobile phone/having to do a paper round/Margaret Thatcher/John Major/Tony Blair, because you're an embryo and I'm forty." It's also great fun to say to your friends who haven't reached forty yet "Make the most of this year, after your 39th birthday it's the quickest year you'll ever know. Can you hear that clock ticking? 'tick tock tick tock tick tock' is how it goes. Can you hear it? 'Tick tock tick tock tick tock.'" Yes, I am a pain in the arse, aren't I?
Besides, I often think that getting older will suit me as I'm quite looking forward to being one of those old gits who makes out they're 'a little bit deaf'. Deaf enough to be able to hear "Would you like a cup of tea and a biscuit?" but deaf enough not to hear "Would you like to come and help with the washing-up?" Hoo-hoo, I can't wait for all that. I'll have the time of my life.
What I do find about reaching this age is that other people of a similar age without kids suddenly want to come on holiday with you. As though we've all got to huddle together for warmth from the Parent Mafia. I don't care whether you have kids or not, I'm telling you now, I DON'T want to go on holiday with you. Holidays are a little bit like Christmas Day: spending them with other people is weird. Everyone has their own traditions and customs, like eating pork pie for breakfast or making up their own rules to Monopoly. I don't want to go to the bloody pub with you every night that we're on holiday. Or go to that nice place where you and Clive went last year. Or have a cream tea at the place that you can't find but you know it's down this lane somewhere. Or listen to you two shagging. Okay? I'm not going on holiday with you.
I've had this "Hey you should come on holiday with us!" thing twice in the past few weeks. The latest coming from a very good friend who is forty next year along with his wife. Their big idea is that they hire a castle and loads of us all go for the week. No, no, NO! I refuse! For a start there'll be loads of people I don't know, there'll be enforced jollity and his wife gets on my wick after a couple of hours (They've been together for well over ten years and are entirely wrapped up in each other still. Which is nice, it must have been kismet or something. Yeah, there you go you see, I'm still an old romantic really). Besides which, I'm intimidated by her breasts.

So yeah, I'm really chilled now I've got to forty. Can you tell..?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Pop your top off

I've had my biennial medical check-up at work today. I hate having them. I think it's because I'm always frightened that they're going to tell me I've got something horribly wrong with me. Working with powders we have to have this lung function test. Have you had one of those? You blow into this pipe. And I mean BLOW. The guy doing it's stood there going "Keep going...keep going...keep going" by which time I'm collapsing after expelling my lungs into the mouthpiece of this instrument. Mind you, at least I did better than one employee who had his medical yesterday. Instead of putting his lips around the mouthpiece he pushed his lips inside it. Something went horribly wrong and he now looks like this. What an idiot, and he's a supervisor. Mind you, it's given me something to laugh about for the last two days. Other than that this medicals all box-ticking, you know: "Blow into that, stand on that, stand under that, can you read that?, what numbers do you see?, do you smoke? take your glasses off, can I check your blood pressure?, have you ever had a discharge coming from your ears? Yada yada yada..." I've never known anyone not pass this medical. That's because it's there purely for the company's benefit, they just do it for their insurance. What I hate though is "Can you go and do something in there for me?" Groo. Going to the miserable toilets with a miserable sample bottle. And the bastard shouted after me "From mid flow please!" Err, how degrading. Every time I go to the loo I have a srtruggle fighting with this monster I'm packing in my undercrackers, factor into that having to stop mid flow to direct it into a small opening and then stop again when it gets half full. Errrggghhhh! Horrid. Mind you, it did give me chance to use my stock gag when he asked me to "Put something in there", my witty repost was "Have you got, you know, any magazines?" Eh? Eh? Are you having that? Eh? Oh, please yourselves...
Anyway, you'll be pleased to know that everything's fine and dandy. Hurrah!

What I should have asked him to check was if I had the word 'TWAT' emblazoned across my forehead. I took my sister out last night because nobody else wanted to go and see Mike Harding with her. I bought her the tickets, drove her 15 miles to see it, paid for the car park ticket AND bought her a drink. At the interval I said to her "Do you want a drink?" to which she replied "Nah, I'll just go to the loo" Charming! I don't want people to think I'm cheap but she's my sister I certainly wasn't expecting, or wanting, a quick snog and other shenanigans as a reward for all my financial efforts. I wouldn't mind but I know she's not exactly hard up. I'm going with her to see John Shuttleworth next week, I'd best take my credit card.