Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sadly, The Damned have not done a solo date in London this year, so the only way to see them was to pay £30 a ticket (!!) and go along to the Academy in the UK show at the Shepherd's Bush Empire.

The whole thing lasted from 5-11pm, but seeing as The Damned were the headliners, I decided to miss out on the earlier bands. Sadly, I didn't miss Sham 69.

Walking into the sweaty and overcrowded venue at 9pm to see that Sham 69 were still playing was a slight disappointment, but I hung around at the back and waited. Ultimately, there is something rather depressing about seeing a crowd of pot-bellied, middle-aged men singing along to "If the kids are united".

But I won't waste time talking about how crap Sham 69 are. Let's move on to happier things.

The Damned came on at ten, and thankfully some of the ageing skinheads decided to go home, which meant more room for the actual fans. Unfortunately there were some over-enthusiastic bastards at the front who decided to start throwing beer straight away. All over Dave Vanian's snazzy leather jacket! But if you're stuck at the front and you've thrown all your beer, you can't move to the bar to get yourself some more, so the beer-throwing stopped fairly early on.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. The Damned have aged very well. They can get away with it, unlike The Stranglers who were too old to begin with. Captain Sensible hasn't aged at all (fact) and Dave Vanian may be slightly stockier than he was in his youth, but considering he's just celebrated his fiftieth birthday, he still looks fantastic. In fact, age has its advantages - Dave's voice is stronger now than it's ever been.

The show was a bit on the short side, but I suppose that can't be helped. The setlist was fantastic, and they wisely avoided playing Eloise, which wouldn't have gone down too well with the leftover Sham 69 fans. The lack of Eloise aside, the setlist was practically perfect:

Wait for the Blackout
New Rose
History of the World (Part 1)
Love Song
Melody Lee
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde
Neat Neat Neat
I Just Can't Be Happy Today
Ignite
Anti-Pope
Plan 9 Channel 7
Rabid Over You
Generals
Jet Boy Jet Girl


Encore:

Smash it Up (Parts 1 & 2)


There were no weak moments - although I wouldn't call myself a fan of the extended version of Neat Neat Neat they play these days - and songs like Ignite are just as good today as they were back in the 80's. I nearly exploded with happiness when they played Rabid. The fan's favourite. All the songs from Machine Gun Etiquette were well recieved, and Jet Boy Jet Girl (a cover of Plastic Bertrand's "Ca Plane Pour Moi" with rewritten, dirtier lyrics) is great live, especially with the "ooooeeeeooo" bit that everyone sings along to. And Anti-Pope was dedicated to, er, Cliff Richard.

All in all a great night. The only thing that would have made it perfect is if Rat Scabies had made a guest appearance. -sigh- Well, I can dream...

P.S

I'm a nerd so I enjoy doing this kind of thing:

Setlist by album

Damned Damned Damned (2)
Machine Gun Etiquette (6)
The Black Album (3)
Strawberries (2)
B-sides (1)
Plastic Bertrand covers (1)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Tomorrow night - The Damned! I think I'll give the other bands a miss, seeing as the line-up is generally rubbish, The Damned being the exception. To make matters worse, Jayne County has been replaced by Sham 69. Boo. I also have a horrible suspicion that the Shepherd's Bush Empire will be full of old skinheads. The Damned aren't on till 10pm, so I won't be in any hurry to get there...

Nothing much to write about. The most exciting thing that's happened over the past couple of days is that I had an argument with my mother when she described Rufus Wainwright as "easy listening", and I queued up for the slides at the Tate, only to find out that you practically have to camp outside if you want to get on before 4:30pm. I did end up going on the London Eye - about six years after everyone else - but there were queues there too.

Today I made an exciting purchase. Psycho-Sonic, by The Sonics. They didn't have the debut in HMV, but the compilation was reasonably priced, and it had a good selection of tracks, so I bought it. I am still besotted with "Strychnine":

Some folks like water
Some folks like wine
But I like the taste
Of Straight Strychnine



Well said.

Ooh, The Damned. Can't wait.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Yesterday I made the mistake of going shopping with a friend on the King's Road, using the logic that "everything's so expensive that I won't be tempted to waste my money". That didn't quite work, seeing as I ended up paying twice for my train ticket, I bought a coffee, later a portion of chips, a book, and two CDs. How did that happen?

One of thing of interest (or not) is that when we were drinking coffee we saw Phil Mitchell - no idea what his real name is - from Eastenders having his photo taken. Shame it couldn't have been someone else. Most of the time, when you see someone famous, it's the never the kind of person you want to see. I always half-expect to see famous people at airports, but the only vaguely famous person I've seen at an airport is some Conservative MP at Heathrow.

My diet I mentioned casually at the end of a previous post is starting today, because I messed it up yesterday by giving into temptation and eating a fat bowl of chips at Ed's. They were good chips, though. Not that that makes a difference.

Just as we were heading back home on the tube, I suddenly had an overwhelming urge to buy a CD. I realised that I hadn't bought any new music in ages, so we went on the hunt for the nearest large HMV or Virgin Megastore. Eventually we ended up at Fulham Broadway raiding Virgin. Sadly I couldn't find "Here Are The Sonics" anywhere, but I made up for it with:

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds - Murder Ballads
Rufus Wainwright - Poses

Murder Ballads features both Stagger Lee (scariest song ever) and the equally sinister Where The Wild Roses Grow. Poses has Rebel Prince, and I think I would have paid the full price of a CD just to own that one song.

I've nearly finished listening to them all the way through, but it's still too early to pass judgement. They're more or less what I expected. Murder Ballads will not be the album I play when I'm feeling sick or depressed, that's for certain.

Post-shopping trip, I forced my friend to watch Metropolitan. I thought she would like it, and she did. She could have been pretending to like it in order to avoid offending me, but to be honest, I don't know how anyone could not like Metropolitan. I'm going to use this as an excuse to rave about how fantastic it is again.

Quite simply, it is the wittiest, most intelligent, amusing, attractive and charming romantic comedy ever made. I had grown out of romantic comedies by the time I was twelve, but Metropolitan is not just any romantic comedy. It is THE romantic comedy. I don't see why most romantic comedies are slushy, boring, clichéd and rely on stupid, repetitive jokes. Why can't romantic comedies be intelligent? Metropolitan is romantic, and a comedy, and intelligent.

The script is outstanding, for a start. Every line is perfect. I've quoted from Metropolitan before, but I'm going to do it again, just to prove my point.

Audrey: What Jane Austen novels have you read?
Tom: None. I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism. That way you get both the novelists' ideas as well as the critics' thinking. With fiction I can never forget that none of it really happened, that it's all just made up by the author.

Charlie: Fourierism was tried in the late nineteenth century... and it failed. Wasn't Brookfarm Fourierist? It failed.
Tom: That's debatable.
Charlie:
Whether Brookfarm failed?
Tom: That it ceased to exist, I'll grant you, but whether or not it failed cannot be definitively said.
Charlie: Well, for me, ceasing to exist is - is failure. I mean, that's pretty definitive.
Tom:Well, everyone ceases to exist. Doesn't mean everyone's a failure.

Jane:
Why should we believe you over Rick? We know you're a hypocrite. We know your "Polly Perkins" story was a fabrication...
Nick: A composite.
Jane: Whatever. And, that you're completely impossible and out of control, with some sort of drug problem and a fixation on what you consider Rick Von Sloneker's wickedness. You're a snob, a sexist, totally obnoxious, and tiresome. And lately, you've gotten just weird. Why should we believe anything you say?
Nick: I'm not tiresome.

The characters, despite their faults, are all loveable. The plot is uplifting without being slushy and sentimental. The conversations somehow manage to get away with being pretentious. In short, Metropolitan is the perfect film.




Oh, and it helps that Nick (middle picture) is beautiful.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I once made a mental note to myself never to see an Adam Sandler film. And now, due to circumstances beyond my control, I am being dragged to see Click.

Described on IMDB as "boring", "awful", "childish", "horrid", "dumb", "dull", "cringingly unfunny", and "shallow". Yes, I was deliberately reading the negative reviews, but even so. The only thing to look forward to, judging by the soundtrack listing, is the use of The Cars song "Magic".

Anyway. Wish me luck. At least it's only 107 minutes.
"You know we got rats in the cellar?"


I love Bette Davis. I've only seen two of her films, true, but for proof of her brilliance, all you need to do is watch All About Eve and What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? I would choose both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford over Marilyn Monroe any day. Even when she's being completely over the top and running across a beach in drag-queen make-up and a frilly dress clutching two strawberry ice-creams, she's great.

She is also rather scary. Especially when she's kicking Joan Crawford in a rather aggressive manner or cooking dead rats. It sounds like a stupid thing to admit, but there were some parts of What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? where I was genuinely frightened.

And, not only is she scary in the film, but she was scary in real life. She wasn't very nice about Joan Crawford. On the other hand, Joan Crawford wasn't very nice about her either.

Bette Davis on Joan Crawford:

"I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire."
"She has slept with every male star at MGM except Lassie."
""You should never say bad things about the dead, you should only say good...Joan Crawford is dead, good!""

Joan Crawford on Bette Davis:

"I don't hate Bette Davis even though the press wants me to. I resent her. I don't see how she built a career out of a set of mannerisms, instead of real acting ability. Take away the pop eyes, the cigarette, and those funny clipped words and what have you got? She's phony, but I guess the public really likes that".

And according to IMDB....

"During the kicking scene, Bette Davis kicked Joan Crawford in the head, and the resulting wound required stitches. In retaliation, Crawford put weights in her pockets so that when Davis had to drag Crawford's near-lifeless body, she strained her back."

Modern day actresses aren't half as interesting. The good old days...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It's inevitable that by the time half-term comes around, I'll be such a wreck that I'll fall ill almost immediately. I've managed to last five weeks carefully avoiding sick people so that I don't have to take time off school and catch up with ridiculous amounts of homework later on, and now, just as school breaks up, I'm sick.

I had no energy yesterday morning, so instead of going to my kickboxing lesson I lay in bed with the curtains drawn, listening to Belle & Sebastian's Tigermilk to see if that made me feel any better. I'm not seriously ill, I just have a rather unpleasant cold. I think it's extremely unfair that people who suffer from hayfever in the summer have to put up with colds in autumn and winter too. Hayfever sufferers should be excluded from other illnesses. Sadly, nature doesn't seem to care that I'm a hayfever sufferer and the whole of Saturday was spent sniffing, trying to write and failing, and listening to Belle & Sebastian. Hopefully today will be better.

Happier things. Happy Birthday mother. She appreciated my card (or at least she pretended to - it's her duty as a parent to feign admiration when presented with something badly made) and the presents we gave her. One of the presents my father bought her was a "teach yourself German" CD set. I blame her for asking for it, but I wish he hadn't bought it for her. From now we're going to have German lessons every time we get in the car, apparently. After giving up German in Year 9 I thought I'd never have to even think about it again. Apparently not. Scheisse.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Last night I went to the cinema for the first time in ages (last film I saw at the cinema was Pirates of the Caribbean 2 in July) and saw Marie Antoinette. The cinema was surprisingly empty, considering it's only just been released.

I think almost every single review I've seen of this has given it three stars, which is just about right. It's definitely a case of style over substance. One reviewer said it was as "deep as a puddle", or words to that effect, and that pretty much sums it up. It looks spectacular, but drifting from party to party gets a bit repetitive after a while. There are only so many shots of Kirsten Dunst wearing extravagant dresses and eating lots of cake that can fill up a 123 minute film without getting boring. It all starts off promisingly, even though Kirsten Dunst doesn't exactly look like a fifteen year old, but the plot is practically non-existent and when the credits finally roll, I was left thinking "was that it?".

On the bright side, the soundtrack was quite good. I wasn't sure if it would work, but as some people have pointed out, in places the film looks like a long Adam and the Ants video anyway, so it's not too bizarre.

One thing I will say is that I found Marie Antoinette infinitely more enjoyable than Lost in Translation.

After school I had a couple of hours to kill before I saw the film, so my friend and I sat in Starbucks drinking mocha frappuccinos very slowly, eating a ridiculously large blueberry muffin and reading Heat magazine. Heat is usually extremely dull and not even worth flicking through when you're waiting for a doctors appointment, but this issue had a picture of Rupert Everett sitting on a table in Harrods and then breaking it, so it wasn't a complete waste of time. As for the coffee and the muffin...I ended up feeling a bit sick, and I'm wondering if it might be time to go on a half-hearted diet.

Not a weird, "you can't eat anything" diet. As a vegetarian and fussy eater I can't afford to go on diets that don't let you eat anything. I mean the kind of diet where you cut out chocolate, biscuits and ridiculously large blueberry muffins.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

So, it's farewell to Lord of the Flies. The next thing we're studying in English is An Inspector Calls. As it's our holiday homework to read it, I thought I'd get a head start, so I dragged myself off the computer, skim-read the introduction, and began.

Only problem is, I'm finding it difficult to take it seriously. I keep visualising it as a Monty Python sketch, and I imagine Graham Chapman's voice for every character. I expect the punch-line to come at any moment. Hmm, not a great start. It always feels slightly odd reading a play, anyway. You can't appreciate it properly unless you see it on the stage. It probably works better as a play. Maybe it's my fault - I wasn't concentrating properly, as half of my brain was busy listening to the Breakfast on Pluto soundtrack.

On a side note, Sugar Baby Love by the Rubettes is the most uplifting song in the universe.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

It's my mother's birthday on Sunday, so I've made her a card. I'm not artistically talented in the slightest, but I thought it might be fun. This is the picture on the front.

Ta-da:




















Shelley in a birthday hat holding a balloon with a smiley face. Before you accuse me of putting my own interests and obsessions first, my mother appreciates Shelley just as much as me. She was the one who introduced me to him in the first place. Anyway, for mother's day I gave her a Beethoven themed card, and for her birthday she'll have this lovely, hand-made (or rather, computer made) Shelley themed card.

Eventually I'll run out of dead people to put on her cards, but I can worry about that later.

The only thing I need to worry about for the moment is her birthday present. I said I'd get her "What Ever happened to Baby Jane?" on DVD, but that is easier said than done.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I may have missed him at the Koko earlier this month, but it doesn't matter any more, because I am seeing Patrick Wolf at Union Chapel in December. I now have a concert to look forward to every month (Damned in October, Muse in November and PW in December). Hurrah. That means I'll have seen five bands this year, which beats last year's total of four bands. Not a lot of bands, I know, but when you're young and poor (sigh) you can't afford to see bands you like every weekend. If I was less discriminating I could probably afford to see bands more often, but I make a point of only seeing bands I really really like. The money problem isn't helped by the fact that some bands (-cough-Roxy Music-cough) charge £30 a ticket or something insane like that.

Going back to my original topic - yay, Patrick Wolf! Union Chapel should be an interesting venue for a concert, too. I'll be sitting in pews. Pews!

Click here if you want to see the inside of Union Chapel. Probably not, but if anyone is reading this and also happens to be going to see Patrick Wolf, then it may be of interest.