Thursday, 25 August 2011

Anyone who knows me will be aware that one of my favourite things in the entire world is live music. There's nothing quite like it. Especially when the band I'm watching are one of my favourites like last night's Taking Back Sunday show.

As a regular gig-goer, I've accumulated a group of friends that I go to gigs with. I even have some friends I only ever see at gigs and as a result we talk a lot about music and what we love about certain bands, albums, songs, shows and general music experiences.

At a recent show (Death Cab For Cutie, if you're asking) I got to thinking about the things I don't like about live music. I'm not sure what set me off but I came up with quite a list and I've decided, interesting or not (you decide) to share them with you now. See how many you agree/ disagree with!

Firstly (and I think this may have been what set me off) I've never really understood why some people feel the need to video bands on their phones and cameras. I've only really noticed this in the last few years because when I first started going to gigs nobody really had digital cameras and mobile phones weren't that sophisticated. I'm showing my age here, aren't I?!

You can go on YouTube right now and find hundreds of live videos of bands and artists that someone's uploaded. My question is this; How can you possibly enjoy a show for what it is if you're watching it through a viewfinder on your phone? Surely the point of live music is the experience so why not actually watch it rather than record it for the purpose of watching it again later. You'd be as well just watching it on YouTube in the first place!

Another thing I can't abide (and I warn you, I'm about to get angry) is couples who stand right in front of you and proceed to make out for the ENTIRE gig. Why even buy a ticket? You can put the CD on at home in the privacy of your own bedroom where no one else has to feel sick at the sight of your unnecessary PDA. You're not watching the band anyway, save us all the nausea!

And on that note, how annoying are couples who stand practically glued to one another? It's got to be uncomfortable to stand like that for an hour and half. I do apologise about the bitterness, but let's face it, it's not cool

Another gripe is guys who think it's appropriate to take their shirts off when it gets sweaty. Yes it's warm sometimes and yes, it's slightly uncomfortable. But what's more uncomfortable is being one of the poor bastards you brush past leaving your disgusting stale sweat and body odour all over.

Given that I have the bladder of an eighty year old woman and (hold the front page) I also like a drink, I generally have to run to the loo every now and then. (Always running and always during pre-planned filler songs!). Because of this I get incredibly irate when I get to the toilets to find girls standing around doing their make up. I just really have to wonder why these people even bother to go to a gig if they're going to spend all night preening themselves in the toilets rather than enjoying the band. I'll never understand that.

I've saved the two worst things about gigs for last; touts and unofficial merch sellers. They make my blood boil. No gig is a gig without having "TICKETS TO BUY OR SELL" shouted in your face. These low lives buy as many tickets as they can, selling out the show thus making it impossible for genuine music fans to get hold of one without buying them at double the price from them.

As for those people who sell merch outside the venues, they should be fined every time they do it. Merch prices inside venues are so expensive these days and it's no wonder. Bands must really struggle to sell their genuine merchandise when these creeps are outside selling cheap knock offs at half the price. I'd much rather spend that little bit extra and support a band trying to make an honest living than give any of them the time of day.

Enough complaining, I'm off to see if there are any gigs coming up!

Monday, 28 March 2011

Manchester, So Much To Answer For...

On saturday I was browsing the books in Fopp, as I often do, looking for something to read on the bus home. A book entitled 'The Manchester Musical History Tour' caught my eye. I love music. I love Manchester. So here was a book that could've been written for me.

Reading the back cover convinced me further that I would enjoy the book. Written by two Manchester music enthusiasts, the book is essentially a tour of venues and landmarks of interest regarding Manchester's music scene over the last few decades.

What interests me the most about this book, for obvious reasons, are the places I'm most familiar with. It's absolutely fascinating to read about the venues I've frequented over the last 10 - 15 years with a sense of historic relevence.

For example, when I was 15 my friends and I were desperate to go to a club night. Despite the fact that at 15 I looked more like 11, we'd heard that it was notoriously easy to get into The Ritz. And we weren't wrong. We started going there on a weekly basis (thankfully our parents were ignorant of our endeavours) and it became a regular thing.

We liked The Ritz, not only because we could get in, but because it played music we like. I distinctly remember hearing Pixies' 'Monkey Gone to Heaven' and The Smiths' 'Panic' and thinking it was weird to hear music my dad liked in a club that he would kill my sister and I for going to.

So, I'm on the bus home from town, happily reading 'The Manchester Musical History Tour' when I come across a sentence that excites me so much, I suddenly realise I'm grinning like a bastard on the 101; "...many a band have also performed here, including New Order, Magazine, and The Smiths, who played their first concert here..."

What?! The first club I ever heard The Smiths in was also the very first venue The Smiths played? That is total madness. And exciting that it all happened in the city I call home.

But that got me thinking, how many other venues in Manchester have I spent quite a bit of time in and not considered their history?

When I was about 17 I started going to Jilly's Rockworld. It was considered slightly "cooler" that The Ritz (or The Shitz as we'd started to call it) so we decided to try our luck with the bouncers there. It worked a couple of times and by the time we were 18 we were completely sold. There were several rooms including the main room which played general rock and heavier stuff and our favourite Room 1 (the punk room) which played anything from The Clash to Saves the Day.

Me and my sister, Claire started going there as much as we could to get our fill of pop punk and pester the DJs for our favourite songs. We'd become friendly with the DJs after a while and they started to play our requests without us even asking. Tony, who also ran Roadkill Records at the time, decided to quit DJing as he also DJ'd at another clubnight, so I saw my opportunity and went for it.

For the next couple of years I'd DJ every thursday in the punk room and occasionally in the fish bowl on a saturday. I always thought it was awesome that 24 Hour Party People, the story of Tony Wilson and Factory Records, was filmed in the club. The fact that I'd worked there was my claim to fame. But reading The Manchester Musical History Tour, I discovered that there was a reason they'd filmed it there.

According to the book, the first meeting between Tony Wilson and Warsaw (who would go on to become Joy Division) happened in Rafters which changed it's name to Jilly's Rockworld years later. As if that isn't amazing enough, a young Morrissey tried his hand at freelance music journalism reviewing shows at the venue. If you're as big a fan of The Smiths as I am it's very difficult to get your head around the fact that Morrissey hung out at the same venue I did twenty years later.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Manchester bands and music. Especially if you know Manchester pretty well. I go through Manchester every day and I've never stopped to think about the musical history of the places that have become so familiar to me.

The Manchester Musical History Tour was written by Phill Gatenby and Craig Gill. I'm definitely going to embark upon the tour this summer.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

I know I've blogged about this subject before but animal testing is a cruel and pointless pursuit and it really makes me angry.

A few months ago I realised that I wasn't actually very sure which cosmetic brands did and didn't test their products/ ingredients on animals. So I did some research online.

I found out, to my utter disgust, that a lot of companies test on animals and then just flat out lie about it. For example, a company may print on their cosmetics "Company A does not test on animals", but what you don't know is that they just use another company to do their testing for them. You'd think that would be illegal but clearly there's a loophole somewhere. And even if it says that the product isn't tested on animals, that doesn't mean that some of the ingredients aren't either.

The point of the blog is that today I went make up shopping specifically to find products that weren't tested on animals and managed very easily to get everything I needed. Between Marks & Spencer, Superdrug and Asda there's nothing I struggled to find.

All of these companies (as well as a couple of online stores) are against animal testing and while Superdrug still sells brands that do test on animals (Rimmel, Pantene, Palmolive etc) their own brand products are fine and are mostly suitable for vegetarians and vegans. (It will always tell you on the back of the product if it is NOT tested on animals. If it doesn't say anything chances are it IS).

Marks & Spencer's stuff is BUAV approved which means none of it is tested on animals.

What angers me is that people generally don't have a clue that this goes on and if they do hear about it they just ignore it. There are so many major brands that test on animals. Why is this allowed to happen?

I really wish people would get a conscience and only buy BUAV approved and non animal tested products. It's not like they're difficult to get hold of. I can't actually believe something so sick and inhumane is still allowed to happen.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

What you don't know won't hurt you... But it might hurt somebody else.

I recently found out that a company I often buy beauty products from tests on animals. I have to admit that my stomach turned thinking about it. It made me feel sick to think that I was giving my money to a company with such low moral standards that they would test on animals when it's completely unnecessary.

This isn't just going to be me preaching because that's something I really don't appreciate but I just want people to think about the consequences of their purchases.

Obviously there aren't many companies that advertise the fact that they use these methods of testing but sadly there are very few that don't. I'm not going to turn this blog into a means of slagging off certain companies because that's their decision but I certainly don't support them and I don't understand the need for it.

For your interest Superdrug are against animal testing and none of their own brand products are tested.

Also check out this site for beauty products that are 100% suitable for vegetarians and vegans:

And if you have the time have a look at the BUAV website:

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Lately I've become very tired of all the music that's on my ipod. I really need some new bands to get excited about because I never really get as excited about music as I used to. I think one of the main problems is that bands and artists lately don't seem to have all that much to say.

I've been told on several occasions that I'm a pretty opinionated person. In fact the last time someone said that to me was just a few hours ago! And I suppose I am.

I've always believed that music is an extremely powerful way to get an opinion across and I think it's an incredible way to have your say without being too forceful with your views. I miss bands that have something to say.

If you know me well enough you'll know that I'm a bit of a feminist and years ago all of my favourite bands were also of this persuasion. Bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, L7 and Le Tigre all had a huge effect on my musical tastes and as a result I began reading up on feminism and other similar ideas.

And it's not just feminism that music has encouraged me to consider. A few years ago I was really into punk (and still am to an extent) and bands like NOFX, Strike Anywhere and Propagandhi also made me look at society in a different way and question the scructure and reasoning behind the way society runs.

To sum up, music has generally helped me shape my personality and beliefs. Feminism, animal rights, inequality and politics are some of the important issues I've been pointed towards in some way or another.

I think it's a shame there aren't more bands out there who are playing for a cause rather than fame and money. I'd like to see it for a change.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Yes Man

This is the kind of book that I wouldn't ordinarily go for as it's more of a diary type book than a novel and you can't beat a good novel. But from the moment I picked it up, I couldn't stop reading it and even when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about reading it.

The most appealing aspect of this book is the sheer positivity that just flows from it. It's the story of Danny who, upon finding himself in a bit of a rut, pulls himself out the only way he knows, with positive thinking.

One day Danny's train is canceled and he gets talking to a stranger on the replacement bus. In conversation the stranger tells Danny to "say Yes more" and that's exactly what he does. However, he doesn't just say yes more. He says yes to everything.

The consequences are both hilarious and heart breaking because as time goes on you really grow to love Danny and forget that he's not a character in a book, he's a real person describing real experiences.

Highlights are the conversations Danny has with his friends in the pub. I would recommend this book to anyone.

I've even started saying yes more myself!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Kick Ass

Yesterday I went to see Kick Ass which turned out to be a very good decision!
If you were a bit of a geek when you were a teenager you'll probably appreciate the premise of this movie all the more.

Dave (Aaron Johnson) is your average comic loving, "nothing special about him" teenager who starts to wonder why nobody has tried to become a super hero before. After a particularly funny conversation with his two friends he decides he's going to do it and before long he's suited and booted in a green and yellow jumpsuit and calling himself Kick Ass.

After fending off a gang of drug dealers Dave becomes an internet sensation and real life super heroes Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit Girl (Chloe Moretz) step in to warn him of the dangers of being a super hero.

The villain of the movie is Frank D'Amico, the local drug dealer whose son, unaware of his father's real job, is desperate to get into the family business. In a bid to take down Kick Ass, D'Amico appoints his son, Chris (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to create his own super hero identity, Red Mist.

The stand out performance without a doubt comes from Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl. In some positively Tarantino-esque scenes she truly kicks ass!