ma ma ma telephone

i wrote this for the fly:

Lady Gaga
O2 Arena, London
16/12/2010

Lady Gaga‘s festive freakshow rolls into London’s O2 Arena for two days entertaining girls, geeks, gays and even a few family units. The singer hops from Karen O-style studded leather jackets to Madonna-inspired breast cones complete with live fireworks, taking just over two hours to perform eighteen songs.

Most popular music cynics make an exception for Gaga whose brand of surrealist-shock chic has both enamoured and bonded an army of odd-balls, using collective appreciation of wacky hats and haircuts, pork product dresses and gender obscurity but perhaps most importantly, the love of a truly great pop song. And Lady Gaga well and truly proves her pop credentials tonight by firing out crowd pleasing treats such as ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Poker Face’, mobilising the assembled devotees at this opening night show. Despite carting her crazy array of costumes and charisma around the globe for more than 150 dates (The Monster Ball tour began way back in November 2009) the Lady displays no sign of weariness as she grabs the O2 by the balls and entertains.

With only one full length album released she necessarily deploys a hefty dose of chat to fill her arena slot but cleverly mixes pensive life stories with filthy monologues and queasy videos to create a theatrical grand gesture. This is no ordinary gig. There’s a touch of Tim Burton to the sets and the audience anticipate the next costume choice as much as they do the next hit to be played from Gaga’s ‘The Fame Monster’ LP. Revelling in her position as pied piper for the socially awkward she sports a succession of oversized capes, leopard print leotards and boxy dresses as she looks out at glammed-up O2 Arena audience who have ‘got their Gaga on’ by wearing all manner of wigs, weird sunglasses and OTT dresses. On the odd occasion when she’s not hiding behind masks, monsters and costumes, and relies solely on her voice to grab attention, she proves to be a delicate human being, just like everyone else. And it is this rare flash of reality that keeps Gaga close enough to the ground to make her relevant. Seated at a piano she gives a haunting performance of album track ‘Speechless’ giving a glimpse of the inner Gaga and proving that she can sing and play her instruments, too.

‘Alejandro’ gets the full performance package with boy dancers kissing, but it is the perfect pop of ‘Poker Face’ which commands the loudest roar of approval. For ‘Paparrazi’ she fights with a giant monster, getting floored before rising from the bowels of the stage with fireworks exploding from her cone-shaped breast plates. Lady Gaga has already inspired a generation and the endless energy and enthusiasm of her performance means that no one goes home feeling short-changed by their trip to the Monster Ball tonight. Despite the incredible sets, wild hairstyles and provocative fashion, underneath it all is a genuine musical talent and a girl with a very relevant story to tell.

 

everyone loves jackie deshannon, surely?

isn’t she just wonderful? not least because her real name is actually SHARON, and being wise enough to know that a name like sharon wouldn’t sell records – even in the 1960s – she created jackie dee shannon, as a non gender specific nom-de-song (pretty forward thinking of her, no?).

i would have gone for jackie-shaz, personally, but each to their own. anyway, dee shannon soon became deshannon and this wee blond rock star hit the stage, singing all manner of treats including dirtyconverse favourites, ‘when you walk in the room’ and ‘needles and pins’.

the searchers borrowed both of these gems and made them more famous in the uk, and they were well cool. badge of approval.

AND, after the beatles toured with her (well, she toured with them) they wrote a song called ‘ticket to ride’, which if you listen to the opening guitar riff, could sound less like ‘when you walk in the room’:


jackie-shaz also co-wrote the subtly theatrical ‘bette davis eyes’ which was immortalised in beautiful 80s techni-colour surround sound synth by kim carnes in 1983. and she hung out with eddie cochran, swoon. pure…love…her.

and so, it was to my delight to note that one of my NFBs, tennis have covered a jackie-shaz track. this wee cover is ACERS. cannae wait to go see them play live in london on jan 7 @ the lexington.

tanlines in the middle of winter

latest exciting gig-related news is that tanlines are playing at xoyo on 4 december as part of a small uk tour. i will be there, along with a sizeable proportion of the local hoxton tosspottery, no doubt.

this is why i like them:

‘real life’ is the latest in a long line of fine synth pop efforts to have made it onto my itunes playlist and as per the band hail from brooklyn. oh, and they refer to themselves as a ‘production duo’, which is far cooler than the more conventional ‘band’. nice.

the original is pretty cool too, although memorytapes did them all sorts of favours with their wee remix.

veronica falls hard

veronica falls

the five things i like most about my favourite creepy swoon-pop band, veronica falls:

  • the handmade t-shirt i bought for £5 when the band played at white heat in soho last year. it was the last one.
  • starry eyes – possibly the best b-side of 2009/10. had it on repeat for the most of the first half of this year and still smile A LOT when it comes on my ipod.
  • one of the boys from the band is really friendly (joce met him in a pub once, and said he was pure nice).
  • the URL for their myspace page is ‘www.myspace.com/veronicafallshard
  • they are slightly creepy

you can listen to the delightful starry eyes, as well as the unsettling ‘found love in a graveyard’ and foreboding little ray of sunshine that is ‘beachy head’ (beautiful video below), on the band’s website. they are playing white heat at madam jojos on 16 november, as part of a wee winter tour. i’m going to be there.

unholy thoughts

i was listening to kele bloc party’s album ‘the boxer’ last night on the bus home and have decided that my favourite track BY FAR is ‘unholy thoughts’.

Click here to download/listen.

i’m not sure i completely get the lyrics yet, but am almost certain they are amaze:

i met the devil last night / at an after-show / bandanna, and a red new era cap / no more coke, alice / no more cocaine / you’re getting sloppy / and then someone has… / someone has to say / he was there… / he was there… / i hear their thoughts now before they speak / i feel their eyes now / gouging my soul, accusing me / we’re on a park bench / bleaching the day / these thoughts they multiply / and one by one become holy / the mind is powerful / the mind is powerful / but it will not work… / it will not work… / in reverse….

unsurprisingly when I think of kele I think of bloc party, which in turn then makes me think of ‘silent alarm’ (good: ‘banquet’ on the dancefloor at wonky six years ago) and ‘a weekend in the city’ (notsogood: when it was first released, i invited this girl i was sort-of into, to come over to my house to listen to it. my idea of a hot date but clearly not hers, because she didn’t reply). i never really got into that second album…

you can hear a few more songs from ‘the boxer’ here. and, as noted yesterday, he’s playing the electric ballroom on 19 november with cocknbullkid.

my top 5 kele bloc party songs:

  • she’s hearing voices
  • banquet
  • this modern love
  • unholy thoughts
  • so here we are

one magic song

on friday i went to see magic kids at the camden barfly.

they’ve just released an album called ‘memphis’, presumably because they are from memphis. i haven’t yet listened to it. i bought tickets for the gig on the basis that the song ‘hey boy’ is a brilliant beach boys rip-off. 2 minutes and 15 seconds of sun. plus, allo darlin’ were the support band.

memorable bits of my magic evening included:

  • the lead singer’s jeans. male camel toe.
  • hey boy (where’s your girlfriend?)
  • the wholesome girl with the violin and tidy slimline brown leather belt
  • the new allo darlin’ song. and polaroid song.
  • that’s about it

given that mega-twee invariably gives me travel sickness, i really should have listened to that memphis album first. i also should have read the guardian’s thoughts on the band: “one of their tracks, phone, is super-exuberant and almost creepily twee.” fact.

other than when they were playing ‘hey boy’ their unnaturally smiley smiles made me feel a little bit queasy.

the last two words of that guardian quote tell you everything you need to know about magic kids gigs. next london one is on 28 october at twee mothership, the lexington. don’t forget to wear travel sickness bands.