Friday at Glastonbury

25th June 2010

So today (Friday) it is wonderful to be left speechless by Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz, by the stellar cast list (Lou Reed, Mark E Smith, Mick Jones, Snoop Dogg) and the range of musical styles (from hip hop to Indian traditional) all held together by those melancholy, insular, soul searching songs that Albarn does so well.

It is simply stupendous to bounce to Vampire Weekend and their recycled African rhythms, the perfect sound for a sweltering, sun burnt afternoon in a field in the south west of England. To marvel again at thousands of souls singing along: “Why would you lie about how much coal you have; why would you lie about something dumb like that…”, like some kind of massed chorus of Jeremy Paxmans. Now there’s one idea that Damon didn’t fit into his show.

Glastonbury 2010: The love of all sweet music or peace and love and no mud

25th June 2010

You can do Glasto straight, despite the entreaties from Snoop to smoke some weed, there is no need. Because here, for me at least, it really is, to use the hoary old cliché, all about the music (man).

It’s music that drives this annual apparition, this illusion of a city, this future fantasy in field more used the rain and the occasional chomp from a cow.

So, it’s forty years since it all started, back in the mists of legend either as some channelling of energy and spirits of the Vale of Avalon through that great pyramid and out into the world or as a way for Michael Eavis to pay off his mortgage, depending on which account you read. The first story is more likely in the hazy confusion of hippy 1970. Now, of course, it’s mostly a big machine to make money, like everything that’s still going in 2010, but at the heart of this middle aged beast there is still the music, without the music and the people’s love of music and the artists’ desire to make a new variation on the theme there would be just cows in fields here to feel the pulse of those ancient vibe-lines.

Oh, the small pleasures of the big city.

23rd June 2010

The longest day, not endless now I am older, but still long enough. That deep blue fade, still present after the pubs have closed. And the ride to and from some small moments of musical beauty, in a basement, while the vuvuzelas scream overhead, for Greece and Argentina.

Down below we watch as some souls get internal, with greater or lesser success. For queen and country? Hardly. No, this one’s for me, it’s about a love I found and lost and found, it’s about how I fell out of love with a whole town. It’s about something personal but also universal.

It’s about Blue Rose Code singing Whitechapel, a song about my city that touches me; it’s about the spindly intensity of Beth Hirsch singing the songs she wrote with Air, the songs that haunt her, the songs she will never transcend, the songs she loves and hates, the songs that made her, the songs she is so much better than.

And upstairs the match bundles to it’s conclusion and the salarymen sink more pints than they oughta on a Tuesday night, the wife won’t like it but the hangover will help them haze through the midweek gloom.

And after all that, the ride home, the azure glow still there, shining over the scrapers, the moon between the towers of the power station, the river in full flow, the traffic streaming past the peace camp at Westminster, the lights on Chelsea bridge, all to the resonating echo of those lovely songs. Always the songs. So many songs.

Oily Vinyl

21st June 2010

There’s nothing like a slice of deep black oily vinyl on a brght blue mid summer day.

Accept Cycles

20th June 2010

Out to Farringdon for the Nocturne, a criterion, a loop, a race round Smithfield for an hour and five laps, shaved legs pumping, hearts beating, wheels spinning, all the thrill of elite sport on the streets of London for free. What’s not to like?

There’s a full-on, really fast pro men’s race, plus a women’s version and entertaining diversions like the gentlemens’ folding bike race, done Le Mans style with a run and unfold your bike start. There are the customary ox heart buns from St John and fine ale at Pure Groove. There is energy and excitement, a midsummer carnival of an atmosphere, like something really good is happening.

And of course, as well as being really exciting these events also help to raise the profile of cycling in the capital and encourage more people to use the most efficient way of travelling in our town.