Thursday, March 31

For one day only......MC Lars!
It's the end of the month, so time to max out my bandwidth limit. Here for one day only, in all it's glory is a clip from my extensive interview with genius Californian laptop rapper MC Lars last summer. Recorded for posterity by Katy, as it was conducted in the back of her car.

Phill interviews MC Lars (too late!)

And for your musical delectation:
MC Lars - iGeneration
MC Lars - Hurricane Fresh
Trademark Vs MC Lars - Hey That's Me

Wednesday, March 30

The verse of the Bambino
Surely 16 and 17 year olds should be swigging cheap cider on their local bowling green... Instead this bunch of precocious rock tearaways are rocking the Old Angel in Nottingham to its foundations this very evening. Read my interview with Bambino and find out about their mysterious producer, the legendary 'Andy from Doncaster'!

Note 1: I spent ages debating whether to cut the word pubes out of the final interview transcrpit. I'm afraid in the end though, I decided that the pubes had to go. But I put it to you, is pubes an offensive word?

Note 2: I had lunch in the Old Angel last week and on the table on one side of me was a transvestite eating a lasagne. On the other side of me, a man fed his pet dog veggie sausages. What a pub!

Late night car boot sale
The crazy canal diary was correct. Arnold Flea Market is indeed held on a Wednesday. So tonight I will be there. It seems quite strange that what is essentially a car boot sale happens at night. I wonder if it will be like Hamburg Fischmarkt featuring rock bands and full of drunk people. Somehow I think not...

I wonder if you can still buy lampshades for 5p like in 1991?

Monday, March 28

Phill's Important Movie Pass Experiment - Week 2 Roundup
I've been getting the most out of my movie pass this week. So much so that I feel like i'm beginning to know the staff at Nottingham UGC personally...

5. Somersault
If you are a fan of The Secret Life Of Us, the you will love this film. Abbie Cornish stars as a teenage girl who runs away to a ski resort the mountains after 'accidently' getting off with her mum's boyfriend. There she embarks on a series of rights of passage type adventures, before hooking up with a moody bloke who looks like Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics. At times the film is very otherworldly, the cinematography is excellent, with lingering shots of the landscapes and textures of the isolated Australian town. However, things occasionally don't make sense, like when the moody bloke suddenly decide to shag a middle aged man half way through. But these small inconsistencies in the plot do not take much away from what is an excellent film.
Rating 84%

6. Robots
Absolutely fantastic. Funny characters, great visuals, Robin Williams back on form, cameos agogo (even from Terry Wogan!). This is everything that a modern animation should be, appealing to both adults and children, the perfect mix really. Ewan McGregor is likeable as the main character and all of the smaller parts really make the film come alive. Recently appearing on Parkinson, McGregor said that this film was much less fun to make than Valiant. Sorry Ewan, when it comes to animation, American's do it better.
Rating 92%

7. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Wes Anderson is a genius. Rushmore is one of my favourite films of recent years and he again teams up with Bill Murray (who I still insist has never made a bad film). There is so much going on here - cool CGI effects stop frame animation, quirky sideplots and characters, Bowie songs in Portuguese. Several times I just found myself chuckling at some throwaway line. Cate Blanchett delivers her second fantastic performance in a row after The Aviator and Murray adds his usual world-weary cynicism and charm. This is a very intelligent and funny film.
Rating 88%

8. Constantine
This film is just ridiculous and way, way too long. What the hell was going on? I don't really know or care. Keanu plays the role almost exactly the same as Neo from the Matrix, he's not exactly versatile is he? Rachel Weisz isn't really given much to do besides the usual female action flick fodder. It's quite interesting at first as the plot slowly unravels, but towards the end it just goes on and on and on with a load of pseudo religious rubbish. At least half an hour could have been left on the cutting room floor. Some novelty factor is provided by Gavin Rossdale getting half his face ripped off (something we'd all like to have done, surely!). The special effects were really good, but for me failed to hide the gaping plot deficiencies. At the end, the woman next to me said "Wow that was awesome......I didn't understand any of it, but it was fantastic!" I think that just about says it all really. Fincho quite liked it though...
Rating 69%

Saturday, March 26

Hey Arnold!
I've decided that I need a rug for my bedroom in Nottingham. It's got polished wooden floorboards so there's definite rug potential there I think...

I've decided that the place to purchase a rug is Arnold Flea Market - will it rival Preston's fine market? We can only wait and see...

Information is scarce on the net, of the five results for "arnold flea market" (shortly to be six), one of them is a webpage entitled Log of Narrow Boat Thomas Covenant 1991.

I've got no idea what on earth this page is doing on the internet, it's someone who lives of a narrowboat's very dull diary and here are some choice excerpts involving Arnold, B&Q and Crocodile Dundee...

Thurs 27th Dec 1990
"Brought some spray foam filler @ B & Q and insulated and boarded the side seat in the boatman's. Emptied the bog.

Fri 11th Jan 1991
London Boat Show. Left Arnold 5.10am in a mini bus. Kennz par­ents, Kenn, Doreen and Margaret. Picked up several other people before heading for Earls Court. Arrived 10.40. Presentation of boat to the Grantham Canal Restoration Society 11am. Walked round until 4pm. Arrived Arnold 10.30pm.

Sat 26th Jan 1991
We managed to get the glass plates from B & Q at Arnold. Pictyres are now hung properly. Pete , Tina and Nicholas came to see us 5.30. Left 8pm. We finished hanging the pictures before we had tea.

Mon 11th Feb 1991
Slight snow thaw, but managed to get to Arnold to do the washing and for Kenn to attend an IWA meeting. He was co-opted onto the committee. Got back 11pm.

Fri 15th Feb 1991
Went to Arnold to do the washing as usual. Kenn had a bad cold but got dressed to go to his mums at teatime.

Tues 4th June 1991
Kenn up 6am all excited as he was going to Arnold to work on his computer. Rather like a child that cannot wait for christmas morning. Mog got up 7am after being brought tea in bed. Kenn figity so cut up some wood and tried to keep himself occupied until his dad arrived 9.15 am.

Wednesday 24th July 1991
At luchtime we had a surprise visit from the Durite rep Bernard Ingram. He saw the wind mill and called in. He retires at the end of the week. Mog and Gail Cross went to Arnold flea market. Mog purchased a light shade for the front lamp 5p. Meanwhile Kenn played at installing the software from the States. He didn't get a lot of joy, so is putting a complaint into Phil.

Wed 21st Aug 1991
The flea market went off very well getting rid of a lot of the stuff. The end of the evening coount gave Joan £120 profit. Mog and Kenn got two new ashtrays, horse brasses and some waterproofs.

Sat 7th Sept 1991
Watched Crocodile Dundee before depositing Kenns writing desk and computer boxes at Doreens.

Fri 20th Sept 1991
Another lovely sunnu warm day. Went to the pub in the evening to hear the Singing Cowboy"
Is it just me who finds this fascinating? Who exactly is the singing cowboy? Why do they keep going to Arnold to do their washing? What is the IWA comittee?

So many unanswered questions!

It's almost like a forerunner of a blog isn't it - or perhaps actually a LiveJournal. If you are as hooked as me, you can read more here, here and here.

So what information have we gathered? Arnold Flea Market was on a Wednesday 15 years ago...now where's that time machine...Doctor!....

You're fired!
My favourite show on the TV at the moment by an absolute mile is The Apprentice. 14 supposed business high flyers compete for the chance to work for the one, the only, Sir Alan Sugar - who lays it on with a trowel for the cameras to leave them trembling with fear in the boardroom:

"Never, ever, ever underestimate me! I don't like liars, I don't like cheats. I don't like bullshitters, I don't like schmoozers. I don't like arse-lickers and I don't like Terry Venables!"

As the contestants are given a variety of demeaning tasks to weed them out one by one, each episode inevitably descends into an avalanche of bitching and powersuited posturing within the losing team.

Then they have to go to the boardroom (cue long lingering shot of Sugar's posh car with private numberplate) to face 'Sir Alan' who will give one of them the curly finger.


Friday, March 25

Ice hockey - not the new rock 'n' roll
On Thursday I went to watch a Nottingham Panthers Ice Hockey match. It's the first time i've ever been and although it was quite entertaining in parts, i'm not sure if i'll go again for a while...

The game is split into three periods of 20 minutes, but it takes bloody ages to play. The clock keeps stopping all the time during play and then there are the interminably long breaks between the periods, presumably whilst you go and buy something from the 'merch booth'.

Sponsorship and advertising really annoy when i'm at my most placid, but during the match it drove me crazy. Seemingly every 30 seconds the announcer guy gets on the mic to plug some crap product or tinpot company. Some of their sponsors include an accountants, a solicitors, a union, a computer training company and a garden centre. Whilst their shorts are sponsored by some sort of drainage company, which the announcer delights in telling us every five minutes to the backing track of Hot Legs by ZZ Top...I think he was actually one of those guys you get a weddings, you know...the ones that fade down the song during the chorus so you can all sing along...even Phillipe Bergeroo hasn't managed to learn that one yet...

It's not very rock and roll is it?

Where's the blood, the violence, the baying crowds and Paul Newman? Perhaps I got the wrong idea from watching Slap Shot too many times...

Darling, i'm feeling linky
Ben loses his blog interview virginity to Richard Herring.

In said interview, The Herring introduces us to the delights of Internet Scrabble Club - Where has it been all my life? If you want to challenge me, my nickname is bergerac... i'm undefeated so far....

The CCL Game - Like Lemmings and hideously addictive! (via The Prykester)

Latte Art (via ITAGI)

Bob Gruen Rock 'n' Roll photographer (via New Links)

Thursday, March 24

Crap publicity photo of the week

Caption competition. It's the return of the popular feature, but what the heck is this promoting?

Leave your caption suggestions as a comment.

My suggestion is the guy on the left is saying "let's toast your new ice skate comb, it certainly works wonders with your hair..."

Can you do better?

Wednesday, March 23

The media whirl dahlings
After turning down an interview about my eBay exploits in The Sun last week, today I did an interview with The Big Issue about this very blog. At least Mike from Troubled Diva knows what it's like to be hounded by the paparazzi...

Monday, March 21

Dinner at the Moulin Rouge
Tonight I treated myself to a slap up meal at the finest restaurant in Nottingham, the Moulin Rouge in Trinity Square. Behind the counter as always was the lady with the bright red mullet, I like to call her Nicole. Also working tonight was her partner in crime Ewan, who is in charge of the kebab department.

When I went in, Ewan was polishing his kebab carving chisel with the efficiency and precision of someone with a deep love of kebabs. Meanwhile Nicole toyed with the ragged strands of her mullet in the reflection of the deep fat fryer.

I opted for the budget menu and took my seat in one of the delightful brightly coloured plastic chairs. I passed on a starter, knowing that their deliciously filling main courses would be more than enough for me. In the end after considering the merits of a pukka pie, I opted for a battered sausage & chips covered with mushy peas. Their forward thinking policy of self salt and vinegar application is one to be applauded.

In the back (the deluxe section) a couple were enjoying an intimate meal of fish and chips on a plate. I hope Fincho isn't reading this, I can surprise her and take her there for a romantic meal at the weekend.

The bill came to an agreeable £2.70 including a drink (can of cherry 7-up). With excellent service and first class food, I shall certainly be returning.

Saturday, March 19

Phill's Important Movie Pass Experiment continues
When I started this, Ben warned me that I was going to end up seeing a lot of mediocre films just for the sake of using my pass. Whilst that may be true, I am re-discovering my love of going to the cinema.

I haven't been to the pictures very much at all over the past two years, but it is the ultimate escapism. It really is great to just sit in a darkened room for a couple of hours and forget what's going on in the outside world. Of course I could also do this in my own home, but it wouldn't be quite the same.

However, I am already getting tired of those bloody Orange adverts and people who laugh at them.....stop it, stop it now....

Anyway, time for some more of my no doubt already legendary one paragraph film reviews.

2. Hotel Rwanda
This is both a necessary and difficult film, both to watch and I imagine to make. Hotel Rwanda features two great lead performances from Don Cheadle and Sophie Okonedo. The film is about Human Rights atrocities in Rwanda, it's a story that hasn't been heard by many people, as the the country was largely abandoned by the West and left to fend for itself (no oil). In many ways this film is like Schindler's List, as it tells the tale of a hotel manager who saved the lives of around a thousand refugees from the genocide. It's powerful, moving, but it does seem to move from one set piece confrontation and showdown to another and is often symbolic rather than realistic. A film to be endured rather than enjoyed, but i'm glad I saw it.
Rating 77%

3. Hitch
I went to see Hitch with some trepidation, as the words 'romantic comedy' usually send a nasty shiver up my spine. But wait a minute, the first half of this film is very, very funny. Will Smith is on fine form and there are laughs a plenty. But then, oh no, the scriptwriter abandons any pretence of being original and it descends in to a dire and ultra cheesy rom-com. The first half of the film contains some witty dialogue, whereas the second half is just awful, even Smith looks embarrassed. As Alan Hansen would say - A dire second half performance.
Rating 57%

4. Valiant
It could have been great, but for a kids film, this was only ok. Valiant doesn't have the crossover appeal to adults like say Ice Age or Finding Nemo for instance and in that sense I was a little disappointed. The film is about a squad of bumbling wood pigeons who have to bring a vital message back from France. As it is about the war, it contains a lot of regional stereotyping and reminded me a lot of 'classic' TV series Allo Allo! The Resistance mice were quite funny though. Of the actors, Ricky Gervais is probably the best, but there is no real outstanding voice performance. The bar is set very high for animations now and all in all, this is just a distinctly average film.
Rating 65%

Albert the pigeon's indie rock news
My squadron of indie rock carrier pigeons has been flying about getting all the latest news. Albert, (who is my favourite pigeon and gets extra jam sandwiches) tells me that former Ikara Colt bass goddess Tracy Bellaries has formed a new band called Mystery Meat with none other than Ciaran AKA Simple Kid. They're gigging around London at the moment and in the process of recording some demos and stuff.

He also informs me that singer Paul and guitarist Clare may still be working together along with former bassist Jon. The whereabouts of drummer Dom is as yet unknown, but my pigeons are on the case!

Albert the pigeon is also fitted with a handy recording device. He managed to sneak through the open window of their rehearsal studio to record this sneak preview of one of their tracks. Don't worry...he didn't poo on any of their equipment....he's housetrained.

Mystery Meat - Kiss All My Lurid Elements (Demo)

Friday, March 18

Fincho reviews Queen Adreena (whilst I take photos)
The atmosphere at Rock City is one of anticipation as Queen Adreena prepare to air new songs from their forthcoming album ‘Butcher and the Butterfly’.

The band have been out of the limelight since the release of their 2002 album ‘Drink Me’. Now two and a half years later, which Katie Jane has stated has been a fairly traumatic time for her, we wait with baited breath.

First up are three-piece Three Children Of Fortune from Kent. Their first song starts quietly and then builds to a frenzy of distortion in the chorus. This is a formula which they seem to use a lot throughout their set, but the contrast in dynamics does work and helps to keep the songs fairly unpredictable.

The stand out tracks are ‘Flesh and Bone’ which has quiet moments that display singer and guitarist Tommy’s vocal range, their first single ‘Ghost Clothes’ which is quite Idlewildesque, and their new single S.F.

The three-piece’s blend of emo and post-punk is well received, and Tommy’s blend of shouted, screamed, and sung vocals keep the audience guessing what is going to happen next.

Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Queen Adreena take to the stage with a blinding rendition of ‘Kitty Collar Tight’ from their last album ‘Drink Me’,

Katie Jane’s voice is amazing. It’s surprising how such a loud noise can come from such a small person, but she has obviously mastered both projecting herself and her stage act throughout the years.

She is wearing what appears to be a slightly Lara Croft inspired outfit, hot pants and a ragged top and is as unpredictable on stage as always.

Katie and guitarist Crispin Gray regularly try to push each other over during the set, Katie hitting him with her microphone, and Crispin dragging her to the ground on several occasions. At times it is rather like a rock 'n' roll pantomime but that’s what Queen Adreena do best.

It’s amazing how both musicians keep such a degree of professionalism throughout the show whilst performing such crazy on-stage antics. Never once does Katie’s voice or Crispin's rhythmic guitar playing falter. It’s all absolutely spot on.

We are treated to a mixture of old classics such as ‘Cold Fish’ from their 2000 album ‘Taxidermy’ and two fantastic versions of the anthemic ‘Pretty Like Drugs’ and the divine ‘Razorblade Sky’.

The other half of the set is new songs and they sound simply magnificent. Katie can use her voice in so many different ways, whether singing softly or in sudden outbursts of screeching rage and shouting.

The new songs appear to cover such taboo subjects such as murder in the new single FM Doll, and voyeurism.

The evening’s events are wound up with old favourite ‘Pretty Polly’ which the crowd is delighted to hear as Katie Jane rocks in an unsettling manner.

Then she disappears from the stage just as mysteriously as she arrived, leaving the audience feeling like they have just witnessed some bizarre carnivelseque ritual, but also feeling immensely satisfied. Pure magic.

Read the review on the BBC Nottingham site and see my photos.

Thursday, March 17

Kilroy in typeface shocker
I received a press release from Veritas today, outlining their new policies policy. What shocked me was not what the shallow, offensive bigotry it contained, but the fact that the attached word document was written in the most evil font of all - Times New Roman.

Though actually, thinking about it, it seems quite appropriate. Veritas sponsored by Times New Roman - stopping immigration through the medium of Microsoft Word's default font.

I bet he sends jokey racist emails to his mates written in that other detestable font, Comic Sans MS. A font that makes me shudder by just thinking about it. There is even a road sign written in Comic Sans MS near my house in Birmingham. A bloody road sign! You can imagine someone from the council saying "Hey, why don't we make this one a bit jaunty Kevin...let's do it in Comic Sans....my god, we're such rebels..."

I've got a proposal for Veritas - How about making Times New Roman and Comic Sans MS illegal? Now that's something worth voting for...

Wednesday, March 16

Local blogs for local people
I am now honoured to be included on the (un)official lists of both Birmingham and Nottingham bloggers and I'm stranded somewhere in between (Burton upon Trent?). I find myself in a curious position of being a Brum blogger who is on a loan deal to Notts for three months, but am I here to boost their strikeforce or merely to provide cover in case of injuries?

I'll be working a late night tomorrow as both Forest and Notts County are playing. Fincho finds it hilarious that my (and by definition her) life is dictated by the fixtures of a struggling, relegation threatened second-tier football club...

Bad luck to Mike who missed out on winning the Bloggie in the Gay, Lettuce, Bacon and Tomato category, but big respect to longtime D!HP sidebar residents My Boyfriend Is A Twat and Teaching The Indie Kids How To Dance for their much deserved wins...

And finally some news that now my interviewing techno DJ phase has passed, I may be interviewing the legendary J Mascis from the reformed Dinosaur Jr. very soon....the nerves, the nerves...almost as nerveracking as when I met David Dickinson,...but not quite....

Tuesday, March 15

Phill's Important Movie Pass Experiment
I went and did it, I bought a UGC Cinema pass for ten quid a month, with their secret sneaky clause that you have to have it for a minimum of twelve months.

Exactly how many films can I see in twelve months? 100, 200, 300 - more than one a day? Time for some bets to be made I think...

I will endevour to write a very short review of every film I see and give a percentage mark for ranking purposes (like they do in those there magazines). This will henceforth be known as Phill's One Paragraph Film Reviews - catchy eh?!? Top film after twelve months wins the coveted prize of a Postie!

1.Ocean's Twelve
O12 was scientifically chosen because it was the first film on when I got to the cinema after finishing work. As you might expect, the Soderburgh sequel is a shiny, glossy, post-modern cameofest. Entertaining and yet eminently predictable, it's an enjoyable romp and a diverting couple of house but nothing more. Clooney, Pitt and Z-Jones pout themselves around a variety of European locations, Julia Roberts plays herself (badly) but Don Cheadle's Dick Van Dyke Cock-er-nee accent again steals the show.....
PIMPE Rating:- 70%

Monday, March 14

Another bloody gig review - Art Brut & Neil's Children @ The Nottingham Social
London art-punk trio Neil’s Children had brush with fame when they made a cameo appearance in BBC2’s recent 1970s set drama series The Rotters Club. It was an astute piece of casting as their sound is heavily influenced by the late 70s post-punk sound.

The band’s sound is made up of staccato drums, driving bass, buzzsaw guitars and the yelping vocals of John Linger, bringing to mind a young Robert Smith or The Rapture’s Luke Jenner.

Early singles ‘Come Down’ and ‘I Hate Models’ attack you from the speakers with merciless intent, stabbing guitars and memorable lyrics.

As the set progresses their well chosen influences are further revealed. Gang Of Four, Wire and Public Image Limited are all thrown into the mix.

Art Brut frontman Eddie Argos makes an early appearance as he joins the band for their last song, before a mini outbreak of chaos takes hold. The bassist jumps into the crowd and vocalist Linger is dragged in after him. It’s an impressive display from the still fledgling band. I instruct you to keep your eyes on them.

The Brut are all about blurring boundaries between fans and band, but not by pretending to still be like their fans, but by getting their fans to be like them. “No more songs about crack and being poor” declares Argos in a clear dig at fellow London bands The Others and Babyshambles, before joining the crowd in a spot of pogoing during an instrumental break.

They’re a motley collection of characters. The guitarist looks like an accountant, the drummer stands up behind his kit to play whilst wearing a flat cap. And then there’s Argos, the art punk Tony Slattery, quipping his way through their already extensive back catalogue (sorry, couldn’t resist!).

There’s a touch of the Jarvis, as his deadpan delivery is augmented by on the spot lyrical changes and ad libs. “And yes this is my singing voice” he informs his critics, on the equally anthemic and hilarious ‘Formed A Band’.

Each song contains at least one memorable sing-a-long lyrical couplet. Or in the case of ‘Modern Art’, the entire lyrics are unforgettable. It’s the best song ever about dancing in an art gallery. Fact.

There’s been a lot of hype about this band and they could just as easily be the next Ultrasound as the next Pulp, but they’ve got an intelligence and a knowing cynicism that sets them apart.

“Haven’t read the NME for so long, Don’t know in what genre we belong” sings Argos in ‘Bad Weekend’. For a second you almost believe him.

As the night is about to end, the chant goes around the Social…

“Art Brut, Top of The Pops, Neil’s Children, Top of the Pops, Art Brut, Top of The Pops, Neil’s Children, Top of the Pops”.

Surely it’s only a matter of time…

Listen to Art Brut
Formed A Band MP3
Modern Art MP3

The Big Debate: Scallops Vs Potato Fritters
It's the argument that isn't sweeping the nation. It's the chip shop showdown. Where do you stand on this most important of questions?

I've been in Nottingham for just over two weeks now and the standard of chip shops here appears to be high, sullied only by the fact that they insist on referring to Scallops as Potato Fritters.

Where I come from (North Birmingham), there is no debate to be had - it's Scallops all the way. I expected Nottinghamians to show some solidarity with their fellow Midlanders but sadly this is not the case....

So where lies the divide? Is it regional? Is it a class thing? Or is it down to the discretion of each individual chip shop owner (These people form the backbone of our great nation after all).

Your thoughts please...

Sunday, March 13

Blogs on the radio
If you aren't doing anything tomorrow morning, then why not listen to Mike from Troubled Diva talking about weblogs on BBC Radio Nottingham. He'll be on between 8:20 and 8:40 talking about his Bloggie nomination.

If you're not in Nottingham, you can listen online to a live stream at the marvellous BBC Nottingham website, where you can also read another interview with him......

And whilst you are at it, read my interview with Nottingham breaks DJ and 'doctor of the decks', Max Cooper...

Saturday, March 12

Raveonettes/Dogs/Boxer Rebellion @ Rescue Rooms
Named after a violent Chinese uprising in 1900, The Boxer Rebellion marry together the worst parts of Kasabian and the Cooper Temple Clause, but without any of the swaggering cool of either.

Whereas Kasabian are your older brothers mate that you’d quite like to cop off with, The Boxer Rebellion are the geeky kid at school who tries a little bit too hard to be accepted.

Worryingly, the scarf wearing singer resembles a hairier version of Simon, the monkeyfaced presenter of Channel Four’s Pop World.

Each song merges into each other forming a stodgy soup of mediocrity. Time passes slowly. Very slowly.

They laboriously plod their way through their set to supreme indifference from the crowd apart from one overly-enthusiastic middle aged man. He’s probably one of their dads.

A career in the removal business beckons

Dogs are a more interesting proposition. “Wotcha” offers frontman Johnny Cooke by way of a greeting “Nobody says wotcha anymore”.

He’s a lankier, more humble and laid-back Johnny Borell, but sullies his image by wearing a crap scarf. The guitarist on the other hand would clearly like to be a member of AC/DC and obviously wouldn’t be caught dead in such a garment.

They’re still raw and rough around the edges but offer up glimpses of something potentially special on tracks like blistering break up anthem 'She’s Got A Reason', where Cooke screams “I liked you better when you liked me as well"....

On the night of the scarf, Raveonettes frontman Sune Rose Wagner bucks the trend by sporting a natty neckerchief.

Although the personnel of the Danish band number five, it is the duo of Wagner and blonde bombshell Sharin Foo that form the core of the group.

Foo exudes a casual air of detatched cool and icy Nordic aloofness, whether playing guitar, tambourine or even when brandishing a pair of oversized orange maracas as during ‘Veronica Fever’.

When it’s followed up with ‘Do You Believe Her?’ the set begins to build. However, by concentrating too much on tracks from their slightly disappointing second album ‘Chain Gang Of Love’ rather than debut ‘Whip It On’, they aren’t able to deliver the killer knockout punch.

The five musicians create an impressive wall of lo-fi rock noise but you get the feeling that they are holding a little something back.

It is only for the encore that the they cast off their restraint, playing three songs back to back without a pause, including ‘Attack Of The Ghost Riders’ and the closing stomp through ‘Beat City’.

On a night when nothing is original and everything is a version of something else, Dogs take the victory by at least manage to offer up something that you could, at a push, get excited about.

The Ga-Ga's at Rock City
Just who exactly are The Ga-Ga’s?

Rock ‘n’ roll animals who live fast, on a diet of booze, fags, pharmaceuticals and the occasional Ginsters pasty?

Or sensitive rock balladeers who sing about love and aren’t afraid to cry and show their emotions in public?

I’m sure support band Zen Motel would like to think of themselves as rock ‘n’ roll, but their neat centre partings don’t help their cause. Their set features a collection of almost identical, instantly forgettable rock-by-numbers songs. “We’ve got a massive fridge of beer, but I’m driving!” says their singer to ironic cheers. Rock ‘n’ roll credentials truly blown.

Ga-Ga’s frontman Tommy is celebrating his birthday and is serenaded with a version of happy birthday by the crowd. “You’re supposed to be gnarly rockers, you’re not supposed to sing happy birthday” he mocks, but secretly you know he’s pleased.

That’s because The Ga-Ga’s deliver the sort of good time rock that made former tour partners The Wildhearts so popular. Helping the crowd enjoy themselves is obviously high on their list of priorities and there are plenty of on stage antics, like Japanese bassist Toshi riffing his way along the Rock City bar.

Meaty sing-a-long tracks like ‘Left Of Centre’, ‘Ko’ and ’Replica’ from their recently released album ‘Tonight The Midway Shines’ all go down well.

Tommy is clearly a bit of a hit with the ladies. Kohl eyed and top hatted, he pouts and preens around the stage to the obvious delight of many of the younger females in attendance.

As the final chords of last song ‘Swallow Me’ ring out, the crowd show their appreciation for a fun, if undemanding performance.

The Ga-Ga's are rockers with a sensitive side. They probably won’t be writing any concept albums or rock operas in the near future, but sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best.

Thursday, March 10

Full price rail fare agogo
Happy birthday to Katy, now officially too old for a Young Person's Railcard!

Meet DJ Jeet
In five years he's built up his night Firefly from nothing, to booking the biggest techno DJ in the world, Jeff Mills. He's also a brilliant DJ himself too, if you like a bit of the old breakyhousetechno type stuff.

Read my interview with him. Or just have a listen to my clumsy interviewing skills and lack of skills with the faders. (Real Player needed)

eBay Gum III
Well my eBay media career continues apace with the news that I may well be being interviewed by the consumer affairs editor of a well known tabloid newspaper tomorrow....i'll keep you posted....

Wednesday, March 9

Rescue Me
I'm going to the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham again tonight, this time to see The Raveonettes. I seem to have been there that much in the past week and a half that I should take up full time residence.

Interestingly I have noted that the door staff use the same handstamper for every gig. So conceivably you could go to a gig and then not wash, then go to a gig the following night.

For a lifetime of free gigs there, a false limb could be used. Once the stamp is on, you could perhaps varnish it or paint it on, or perhaps use permanent marker.

You could also liven up any boring gigs (not mentioning any names) by waving it about in the audience, creating a handy talking point for the band onstage. Or if things get too much, it could be used as a missile to throw at the band.......

Monday, March 7

Spin Doctors @ The Rescue Rooms
I relived a little bit of my childhood last night by going to see the Spin Doctors at the Rescue Rooms.

Pocket Full Of Kryptonite was the first album I ever bought back in the early 90s and it sold millions and millions before the dreaded second album Turn It Upside Down. Shortly after that, guitarist Eric Schenkman leaves. Then a third album that nobody buys. Finally singer Chris Barron lost his voice as a result of vocal cord paralysis. That was that.

Fastforward to 2002. Barron gets his voice back and the band reform, but does anybody care anymore?

The Rescue Rooms is around a third full when workmanlike Mancunian three-piece David R. Black take the stage. They're a worthy and slightly dull with indistinguishable indie-pop by numbers songs blending into each other - the only frisson on interest provided by the female bassist.

There's video cameras scattered liberally about the venue and it transpires that a tour film is being made. The band urge the crowd to come down the front and cheer loudly after each song, which they grudgingly do. Nothing more needs to be said.

This Spin Doctors have no such problems rousing the audience. Aside from the odd random old man, most people in the room seem to be an exactly the same age - mid to late 20s. The Pocket Full Of Kryptonite generation. In 1991, approaching their peak, the band played at the much larger Rock City around the corner. Many of tonight's crowd were probably there.

Opening up with What Time Is It? four middle aged men take the stage. Slightly greyer, slightly heavier and in the case of bassist Mark White - with less hair.

What follows is just over 90 minutes of sheer blissful blues rock. Tracks from Kryptonite sprinkled evenly throughout the set, mixed with tracks from their other albums and *gasp* new material.

Barron is on fine form, bantering with the crowd, high kicking and dancing around the stage, but he's modest enough to let the other three musicians take equal time in the spotlight. Much like myself, he's rocking the tramp chic look. In fact, with his greying hair and beard he resembles like Jeff Bridges from The Fisher King or Bob Geldof's younger, slightly hipper brother.

Schenkman is one of the greatest unheralded guitarists of his generation. Every song seemingly ends with a lengthy blistering solo.

White has a distinctive, louche finger-picking bass style the gels with drummer Aaron Comess, in a way only a rhythm section that has been playing together for over a decade.

Having sold several million albums, playing to a couple of hundred people in a half full club should be a demoralising experience, but the Spin Doctors just seem happy to play at all.

All the hits are trotted out of course. Two Princes, Little Miss Can't Be Wrong, Jimmy Olsen's Blues and Cleopatra's Cat receive the biggest cheers. But there are a couple of tracks that the crowd still wants to hear.

For the encore, it's time for a bit of self-indulgence of the percussion kind. The opening beat of Refrigerator Car starts up, but then goes on and on and on. It's pretty cool but a sense of relief prevails when the song kicks it. As the track segues into the lengthy Shinbone Alley, Comess is at it again and it's an epic, epic drum solo, lasting several minutes. Fast bits, slow bits, quiet bits, loud bits, parts where he seemingly stops altogether.

The last bus beckons and as the solo finally finishes and the song (possibly) draws to a close, it's time to bid farewell to the doctors of spin. "How about that?" says Barron to the crowd smiling from ear to ear as he applauds his stick wielding bandmate, but as anyone who has ever eaten too much custard knows - you really can have too much of a good thing.

Some things should be left in the past, a guilty secret. But sometimes.... sometimes... once in a while... a little nostalgia can't hurt anyone.

Unlike drum solos.

Dean's culinary guide to Hamburg
Our scouse travel correspondent takes time out from his hectic international schedule to provide us with this handy guide to food in the city where he lived for three months last year.

~If you fancy a good kebab in Hamburg go to Barmbek, the best kebab shop in the state is just by the station. Plus you can see the lovely wood there where I went for a beer festival.

~You should see Blankense too, it was the only town that wasn't bombed in the war so its very picturesque, nice beach and seafood restaurants.

~There is a good ice cream parlour in Sulldorf.

~And a nice Italian place in Quickborn.

~Avoid Kebabs from Altona, they microwave them. Although it has Hamburg's best curry place, Sheer Kahn, which is still shit.

~Don't go to Fabrik in Altona, it's a nightclub where we where told the youngsters go. We went and it was a no smoking disco night and quite horrific. I was singing in a club style a la Reeves & Mortimer and a German woman asked Gareth if I was drunk.....(trails off into lengthy incomprehensible anecdote)

Patio banter
I moved into my house in Nottingham for a week and already the neighbours have been round to inform me that their patio heater was stolen last weekend. "Oh, I moved in last week!" I replied to them cheerfully and possibly not wisely - elevating myself to chief suspect status.

It appears the blighters used our garden bench as a getaway to get the heater over from next door.

It probably seems to strange to say, but I do seem to be more aware of crime living it Nottingham. Weirdly I felt much safer in Birmingham - maybe it's because I know the city, I don't know.

The area I live in is OK, but is bordered on both sides by rough areas (as it appears most alright places in the city are). So I am fine as long as I go straight on and don't turn left or right. A trip to Asda in Hyson Green at lunchtime has already led to an encounter with a drunken middle aged woman brandishing a can of Special Brew. I shall be looking for alternative places to buy my groceries from now on.

Whilst here, I've already recruited Ben to write an excellent article about DH Lawrence and used Katy and Squib's brilliant Million Dead photos from the Truck Festival last year to illustrate an interview with singer Hairy Frank.

Also if you fancy a laugh, why not listen to Mansfield Town caretaker manager Carlton 'Former England International' Palmer having a nervous breakdown and seemingly on the verge of tears after their disappointing draw at the weekend.

Saturday, March 5

Fisht of fun
How many puns can I manage using the words fish and kettle?

A Different Kettle of Fish 5 (or V if you are Roman) took place on Wednesday and featured a sparkling performance from Ruth Theodore. Attendance was slightly lower that hoped due to a combination of dissertations, inclement weather and the unfavourable alignment of the solar system. Those that weren't there missed out on obvious musical history akin to the Pistols at the 100 Club or Jimmy Nail at the Birmingham NEC.

Sadly the two timing French barman failed to show, but he missed a couple of stunning sets from Ruth, sandwiching a fleeting but fulfilling Bergeroo performance. You can read recollections of the night from Ben and Andy.

Phillipe Bergeroo setlist
Carina Round - Let It Fall
Grandaddy - AM180
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Ballad of Robert Moore And Betty Coltrane
Bright Eyes - Calendar Hung Itself
Teenage Fanclub - Sparky's Dream
Fiery Furnaces - Crystal Clear
Pavement - Range Life
dEUS - Little Arithmetics
Dodgy - Staying Out for the Summer
Johnny Dowd - Judgement Day

Big Dave Watch
A relitively restrained performance from the great man. He arrives late due to university 'hustings', but soon announces his arrival by trying (and failing) to start an impromptu chant of "The-o-dore, The-o-dore". Sadly wearing neither of his Charles Kennedy and Anthony Worrall-Thompson badges.

Codling in washing up shirker shocker
Tom Watson has fessed up to living with former Suede keyboard player Neil 'Codlo' Codling whilst at college in Hull.

"To my knowledge, he never once did the dishes" says Watso.... perhaps this was why he left Suede, an argument over dirty crockery with Brett Anderson.....we can only speculate...

Ray LaMontagne / Nerina Pallot @ Nottingham Rescue Rooms
Support act Nerina Pallot hails from London, although with tracks like ‘Idaho’, she could just as easily be from the other side of the Atlantic.

“I hear you’ve been rebranded today, but I thought Nottingham was perfectly OK before!”, she says showing her local knowledge to cheers from the crowd.

Pallot begins the set on guitar, before switching to keyboard and back again. She possesses a powerful voice, intelligent lyrics, excellent musicianship (particularly on keyboard) and a clear gift for melody.

Her new album ‘Fires’ is set to be released next month and tracks from that comprise much of the set, along with songs from last years ‘Dear Frustrated Superstar’ LP.

Set closer and single ‘Everybody's Gone To War’ gives a political dimension to her work, adding depth to a set that previously been a little lightweight.

Comparisons? You want comparisons? Well, how about a mixture of Tori Amos and Vanessa Carlton, with a dash of Suzanne Vega.

Ray LaMontagne
takes the stage and a hush descends on the Rescue Rooms. Bearded and flanked by a double bassist and a drummer he looks every inch the troubled, acoustic troubadour.

The opening track is a fantastic introduction to his poignant, deeply personal songwriting and rich, fragile, gravelly voice that brings to mind Van Morrison and the Buckley’s.

After the exhilarating start, things go downhill. LaMontagne seems visibly annoyed and spends an age trying to tune between songs, he’s clearly not happy with the sound.

Four or five songs in, his backing band leaves the stage and Ray has still not addressed the audience.

“Is that alright Keith?” He asks his soundman as he again tries to beat the technical gremlins. As an opening conversational gambit, it’s not likely to go down in Nottingham gig folklore, but it breaks the ice and he’s soon cracking jokes with members of the crowd about the strobe lighting.

Things begin to pick up, but he’s still not happy. “It sounds like I’m singing in to a trash can” he moans, before holding his head in his hands.

At this point the audience is beginning to lose interest and talking amongst themselves, as LaMontagne meanders through his set struggling to make himself heard. It’s not going well and Ray knows it.

Near the end of the set his backing band return and suddenly things are infused with a new urgency. ‘Forever My Friend’ lifts the gig onto a new level and the spellbinding album title track ‘Trouble’ leaves the now enraptured crowd baying for more.

Sheepishly LaMontagne returns, again apologising for the sound problems. For the encore he plays ‘How Come’ with his foil, double bassist Chris Thomas showcasing his funky talents and for a moment taking centre stage.

One more beautiful solo track is played to close out the evening, leaving people in no doubt that incredible talent that this singer possesses. Maybe when he returns to Nottingham next time, LaMontagne can deliver a whole set as good as the final four songs.

Friday, March 4

Melton Mowbray - home of pork pies and terrible headline writers