The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Queen Know Music Is Still A Business …

Yes, this is about my favourite band, Queen.

Yes, I know they aren’t really a band anymore and – to be honest – some of the stuff they’ve done in the last 15 years has made me cringe a little bit, but that aside, their music from Queen to Hot Space [I don’t have as much of an issue with it as most Queen fans do] are still albums I hold dear to my heart.

Anyway, as many of you may know, they’re producing a film about the life of Freddie up until the Live Aid concert.

I get why they decided that was the cut off date, because apart from it being arguably their pinnacle moment, he apparently had not yet discovered he was HIV positive so it allows the film to focus on his glory, not his pain.

Anyway, recently they released the teaser trailer for the movie and I have to say, it’s epic.

Not just because of how good Rami Malik looks in the role of Freddie.

Nor because of the bizarrely accurate voice of Brian May.

And not even because of the spectacular stage sets and fashions.

No … it’s because of the fantastic sound design.

Just like when they performed at Live Aid, the band know the best way to get people interested in the movie beyond sad fucks like me, is to remind them how many songs of Queen they know and like.

By mixing some of their biggest hits seamlessly together, they have increased the odds of making a movie about a man who died 27 years ago interesting to people who were born 27 years ago.

That’s pretty impressive, especially for a band that is almost 50 years old.

A band where the guitarist will be 71 years old in a week and the drummer 69 years old in about a fortnight.

[Not forgetting Mr John Deacon, who will be a young 67 in August. And looks it]

Now I know the trailer doesn’t really say anything and – I am still petrified it’s going to end up feeling more like a ‘Lifetime Movie’ than a Hollywood blockbuster [especially with all the issues the production has faced] – but I have to admit I have watched it so many times and been in awe every time … especially the bit between 11 and 16 seconds, where you see the different ‘looks’ of Freddie in concert, because I remember some of them from when I saw the band live.

Oh god, I’m even more pathetic than I thought.

Advertisements


Beyonce Makes Everything Better …
March 30, 2018, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Creativity, Culture, Music

So one of the things I love watching is artists performing other artists songs.

Even better, watching artists performing other artists songs in front of those artists.

It’s a big deal to do that.

A song is so much more than just music and words, it’s about connecting to the story behind the song – often a personal situation the writer experienced or faced – so to just ‘play the notes’ does everyone a disservice.

A while back, I wrote about how the band Heart played ‘Stairway To Heaven’ infant of Page, Plant and Jones and how it obviously deeply affected them because they didn’t just capture the magic of the song, but elevated the drama of it all.

In the post I asked, what must be going through their heads while watching it.

Was it the amazement that a song they wrote in early ’70, was still being played – and loved by people of all generations?

Was it that the shock that a song they wrote in early ’70, could still have so much energy?

Or was it that a song they wrote back in early ’70, was being played for the President of the United States?

The emotion of knowing it literally couldn’t get ‘bigger than this’ or the simple realisation his impact on World history was assured?

Well I recently saw another video of an artist performing another artists song in front of them and this had a totally different energy to the Heart/Led Zep one.

This was pure extravaganza.

A mixture of energy, entertainment and sheer-bloody-power.

Unsurprisingly, it features two of the World’s most incredible performers … Beyonce and Tina Turner.

To be honest, while I’ve always admired Beyonce., I probably haven’t recognized just how great she is.

That changed with this performance.

Don’t get me wrong, I always knew she was an amazing talent, but it’s the way she delivers her performance that really got me.

Somehow, she has managed to recreate the force of Tina Turner.

It smacks you in the eyes.

You feel it inside your bones.

Part of it is because it feels the music is always about to run faster than the lyrics … the other is the backing singers routine is short, sharp and precise, keeping the energy of the music alive visually as well as sonically.

For me, Beyonce’s performance of Tina Turner’s classic ‘Proud Mary’ is a revelation and by the look on Tina’s face, it’s both a recognition of the impact she has made on culture and the realisation that the door she opened – at great personal sacrifice – was worth it.

Watch it, it guarantees you will enter the weekend with a huge smile on your face.



History Repeats Itself …

So a while back I went to see Queen with Adam Lambert.

The last time I saw them, Queen were made up of the original four.

It was also the last time the original 4 would ever play live together.

Of course at the time, I didn’t know that was going to be the case – though rumor says Freddie did, even if the rest of the band weren’t yet aware – however despite only 50% of the band being on stage, it was still exhilarating to watch.

It was also a bit weird … because rather than see them in Europe, it was in China.

And rather than see them with my best mate Paul … it was with my wife [and a bunch of Wieden folk]

That might not seem that strange to you, but it was mental for me because the situation was the absolute opposite of that mad summer in 1986 where my parents, reluctantly, let me follow them on their tour.

I must admit, when I walked into the venue, I was nervous for the band.

This was the first time they had ever played China and the venue – an 18,000 seater – was only 10% full.

Of course I knew people would come in as the lights went down and if they really hadn’t sold many tickets, they’d have cancelled the show … but I felt some kind of responsibility given I was a fan from England living in China and wanting their first impression of this amazing country to be a good one.

Of course I shouldn’t have worried because as the lights went down, the stadium was packed – to the seats high, high, high in the rafters – and that made the whole night even more wonderful and emotional for me.

The band was brilliant.

The sound was brilliant.

The lights were brilliant.

And Mr Lambert was brilliant.

Sure, he is no Freddie, but he is an amazing singer with perfect levels of campness that did the songs, the show and Freddie … incredible justice.

But the real reason it was emotional was because the moment they hit the stage, they momentarily transported me back to being 16 … where I was on the cusp of entering a life full of adventure and possibilities.

Of course I hope I still have a lot more adventures and possibilities to come [more of that in a few months] but that doesn’t change the fact these concerts represent significant bookends of my life.

One where I was about to start my journey. One where I am its midpoint.

And I don’t mind admitting that when they came on stage, I found myself crying.

I know, it’s pathetic, but it was less about seeing a band that I love with all my heart [though it has a bit to do with that] and more a reminder that despite all the wonderful and sad things that have happened in my life over the past 30+ years, they were still there.

My friends.

My confidents.

My escape.

To paraphrase the great Bill Shankly, some say music isn’t a matter of life or death.

They’re right, it’s way more important than that.



If You Want To Feel Really Old …
October 12, 2016, 6:20 am
Filed under: Anniversary, Attitude & Aptitude, Culture, Film, Happiness, History, Music

… read the first 2 lines of this article on the 25th anniversary of the brilliant movie, The Commitments.

Scary eh! Almost as scary as the fact The Commitments is 25 years old.

TWENTY FIVE YEARS!!!

Then I remember how good that movie is and realise there won’t be many films made today that I’ll want to see in 25 years time, which helps me feel a teensy bit better about being an old fart. Which is handy, because on top of the first 2 lines of that article making me feel ancient, I’ve been spending the past few months working with Spotify and after every meeting I feel super excited and oh-so-old.

Anyway, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about – or just want a dose of nostalgia – cop a load of this:



Happy Birthday Freddie …
September 5, 2016, 6:15 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Anniversary, Comment, Death, Emotion, History, Music

Today would have been Mr Mercury’s 70th birthday.

SEVENTY.

If he was alive, I very much doubt he would be touring with Queen.

He would probably still be their singer, but he would only be making music with them, not performing it.

I would imagine that if he was going to perform, it would be more in terms of opera, as he did with Montserrat Caballé … because it offered him a chance to still command a stage, but without the need to run around in a leotard.

But he isn’t alive. He died at 45.

FORTY FIVE.

Which means I am older than he was when he passed away.

Things like that freak me out to be honest.

Both in terms of comparing what I have achieved in my life versus what he achieved in his [which is stupid, I know] and the reminder that life isn’t forever.

But that’s a post for another day, today I simply say ‘Happy Birthday Mr Mercury’ and thank him for the memories and the music.

God, I’m such a sad bastard.



And You Thought She Was Just A Big Pair Of Tits …
September 7, 2015, 6:20 am
Filed under: A Bit Of Inspiration, Comment, Entertainment, Music

I love Dolly Parton.

Love her.

Not because of her breasts.

Not because of her brilliant quotes like, “it costs a lot of money to look this cheap”.

Not because she started the amazing Dollywood.

OK, well, part of it is for all those reasons.

But the main one is this.

She is a fucking awesome singer songwriter.

Seriously awesome.

I was recently reminded of this fact when someone played me her song ‘Jolene’.

God that’s a good song.

But it was better than just that. You see my friend played me this clip of the song being played at 33rpm instead of 45 rpm and you know what … she is such a good singer and such a good songwriter that even though it was slower and her voice sounded deeper, it was still sharp, melodic and in possession of a guitar riff most bands would kill for.

So Dolly, may the rest of this week be as good as this song, whether I play it slow or fast.