Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Track Of The Day: Disclosure - Where You Come From

Last month in August, Disclosure released five brand new tracks online, all of them more than worthy of a listen. The vibrant 'Where You Come From' is a fine bit of house filled with African flavours. A new album is due for release next year. Speaking about the track, the duo said: "'Where You Come From' samples the incredible Sudanese artist Kamal Keila and a few other tracks from the amazing record label Habibi Funk."


Rewind: Dodgy - Every Single Day

Released 20 years ago in September 1998, this single by Dodgy reached number 32 in the UK charts, and turned out to be the last song the classic line-up would release for almost a decade. 60s pop flavours and ominous vibes lead into a bright singalong chorus on this track, which doesn't suggest a band in crisis, but in reality 1998 was not a happy time for Dodgy.

Having risen as one of Britpop's best-known band's in the mid 90s, the trio were rising high in the charts during 1996 and 1997 with the hit singles from their album Free Peace Sweet. However, just a year later the group and frontman Nigel Clark announced that they were parting ways, and that this would be their final single together. It was released as part of the best of compilation Ace As And Killer Bs. Mathew Priest and Andy Miller would recruit a few new members and continue under the Dodgy name for a disastrous album, before bringing the band to an end in the early 2000s. Later that decade the original line-up reunited and began touring again. They have since produced two brilliant albums, and are currently writing material for their sixth studio LP.


Monday, 17 September 2018

Track Of The Day: Suede - Flytipping

Expansive, shadowy melancholy and loud epic drama from Suede's new album 'The Blue Hour'. It's the London group's eighth studio album and completes a trio of fine albums released by the band since their reformation earlier in the decade. The Blue Hour is released this Friday (21 September) and Suede will be playing UK and European tour dates in October.



Rewind: Silver Sun - I'll See You Around

Some excellent punky power pop from Silver Sun, released 20 years ago in September 1998. Their best moment, the bright, catchy West Coast-flavoured 'I'll See You Around' reached number 26 in the UK singles chart and was taken from the band's second album Neo Wave. After various hiatuses over the years, a new Silver Sun album was released in 2013, recorded solely by frontman James Broad, and last year the original line-up of the band supported the reformed Sleeper.



Sunday, 16 September 2018

Track Of The Day: Orbital - The End Is Nigh

The masterful electronic duo Orbital have just released their first album in six years, and it's excellent. Monsters Exist is a dynamic piece of work, balanced between dark, heavy, dreamy, upbeat and euphoric moods, and full of tracks filled with hugely satisfying and proudly weird synth sounds. 

After an ecstatically received series of reunion shows in 2017, the techno giants have spent 2018 playing a string of high-profile festival dates and headline shows across Europe. Having rebuilt their partnership as a live force, the new record displays that their future is bright in terms of creativity and continued relevance. The full length album version of the slightly Daft Punk-like 'The End Is Nigh' dips into techno-funk, lit up by brightly sizzling pads that beam across its thick beats. 

While Monsters Exist starts and ends without much clarity, everything in between shows the duo hitting with full force. The deluxe edition features a number of excellent tracks that would be more than worthy of inclusion on the main record, and adds to a package that more than makes up for the duo's six year absence. Strange, varied and admirably fresh, Monsters Exist is a great addition to the Orbital catalogue and one of the decade's best electronic albums. 

Read the full review HERE, where you can also listen to the album in full.



Rewind: The Divine Comedy - Generation Sex

This fine bit of chamber pop from The Divine Comedy reached number 19 in the UK singles chart, and was released 20 years ago in September 1998. Detailing the madness and corruption of the (then) pre-millennial age, the song also references the previous year's death of Princess Diana, and the ironic hypocrisy of the public buying tabloid papers to read about her death, while also believing the press to be responsible for the car crash that killed her. The song comes from the band's sixth album Fin de Si├Ęcle, and features a guest narration by columnist and presenter Katie Puckrick.



Saturday, 15 September 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Orbital - Monsters Exist (2018)

The masterful electronic duo Orbital have just released their first album in six years, and it's excellent. Monsters Exist is a dynamic piece of work, balanced between dark, heavy, dreamy, upbeat and euphoric moods, and full of tracks filled with hugely satisfying and proudly weird synth sounds. 

You can listen to the album in full via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

After parting ways in 2004, Phil and Paul Hartnoll got back together a few years later in 2008 for some live shows. They went down so well that they decided to carry on, releasing a flawed but underrated eighth LP in 2012's 'Wonky'. However, in 2014 Orbital announced that they were "hanging up their iconic torch-glasses and parting ways for the final time". Putting the split down to being "driven apart by music’s strange and infamous brother-vs-brother dynamic", the pair concentrated on separate projects for the next few years. Luckily, we hadn't seen the last of Orbital, and we didn't have to wait long until they reunited for a second time in 2017. Working, creating and touring the world together had left the duo in need of some space and time apart, but now the brothers have a pact: whatever happens, Orbital does not stop. They’ve learned to talk and accept each other. As Paul says, “If we were both the same, then it wouldn’t be Orbital.”

After an ecstatically received series of reunion shows in 2017, the techno giants have spent 2018 playing a string of high-profile festival dates and headline shows across Europe. Having rebuilt their partnership as a live force, the new record displays that their future is bright in terms of creativity and continued relevance. Admittedly, the album gets off to a slightly slow start as the opening track does initially seem to venture off its path a bit, yet represents an overall tone-setter which gradually pulls you into the record. Full of sinister industrial keys, the title track is atmospheric, foreboding, dramatic stuff that comes across like film score music for the dancefloor, while atmosphere changes completely for the lively, joyously off-kilter 'Hoo Hoo Ha Ha', brilliantly mindless fun powered by bouncy bass and playful synth-trumpets. It's a major contrast to the following 'The Raid' where the dark mood returns, cranked up several levels to a crushing apocalyptic thud, with ominous dialogue enhancing the terrifying cinematic trip hop.

Things suddenly leap into a new level of clarity with the record's superb centrepiece 'P.H.U.K.', an epic dancefloor classic where pounding roboid beats lock into place with energising retro-futuristic synth bleeps, spelling out some sort of glow-stick-aided sonic SOS cry. The Hartnoll brothers at the very top of their game. They remain at the top on the fascinating 'Tiny Foldable Cities', a stunning piece of music dazzling with its buzzing bass, strange analogue pads and intricate, hypnotic progressions, as close as techno can get to classical music. The album's second half delves into more club-focused tracks with the energetic 'Buried Deep Within' and 'Vision OnE' keeping the energy levels up, delivering mesmerising hooks and fresh, fat beats partnering nicely with quirky retro tones. The pace calms as the slightly Daft Punk-like 'The End Is Nigh' dips into techno-funk, lit up by brightly sizzling pads that beam across its thick beats. It's during this run of five tracks that Monsters Exist focuses itself strongly enough to make maximum impact. Featuring a fascinating, revelatory monologue by professor Brian Cox, the haunting, expansive closer 'There Will Come A Time' works nicely as a music/narrative combo.

It is both a return to form and the beginning of a forward-looking new ear where Britain's greatest electronic act are once again relishing new ideas and sounds. In addition to the main album, the deluxe edition comes with a whole extra CD/record of bonus material which is more than worthy of a listen. The 4/4 beats and acid vibes on 'Kaiju' deliver an old school delight that could set any warehouse party alight, while relaxed acoustic guitar and soft bells make for a moment of short, delicate beauty on 'A Long Way From Home'. With its slightly Aphex Twin-like title, the bleepy 'Analogue Test Oct 16' again matches the past and the future, before 'Fun With The System' provides another "why is this only a bonus track?" moment with its tasty percussion and infectious repetitions, while the dreamy 'Dressing Up In Other People's Clothes' takes things into a more ambient place until its steady big beats and analogue flavours venture into contemporary Kraftwerk territory. Bouncy bass and squealing techno notes counter the accessible drum sounds on 'To Dream Again', another stand out track. The bonus material concludes with an arguably superior instrumental take on 'There Will Comes A Time', where the voiceover isn't there to distract from the wondrous music, and the Kareful remix of 'Tiny Foldable Cities', where the sound is complimented by more effective use of futurist use of retro sounds, particularly the vintage organs.

While Monsters Exist starts and ends without much clarity, everything in between shows the duo hitting with full force. The deluxe edition features a number of excellent tracks that would be more than worthy of inclusion on the main record, and adds to a package that more than makes up for the duo's six year absence. Strange, varied and admirably fresh, Monsters Exist is a great addition to the Orbital catalogue and one of the decade's best electronic albums. 8/10



Track Of The Day: Chase And Status ft Cutty Ranks - Retreat 2018

It's not often that dubstep and drum n bass sounds feature on Rewind/Fast Forward, but they have to be exceptionally brilliant to do so. This single from London duo Chase And Status is packed with old school jungle flavours, and is a remake of a 1980's track by dancehall legend Cutty Ranks

Chase and Status are one of the most commercially successful acts associated with drum'n'bass and dubstep, with multi-platinum albums, numerous charting singles, and production work for major artists like Snoop Dogg and Rihanna. Consisting of dance DJs and record-label owners Saul Milton and Will Kennard, with additional live performers, the group combine cutting-edge beats and production techniques with elements of rock, pop, reggae, hip-hop, and other styles, resulting in energetic tracks fit for the club as well as the radio.



Rewind: Depeche Mode - Only When I Lose Myself

Released 20 years ago in September 1998, this haunting beauty from Depeche Mode reached number 17 in the UK charts. It was the band's thirty-fifth UK single, released on 7 September 1998 and recorded for their compilation album 'The Singles 86-98'. 



Friday, 14 September 2018

Track Of The Day: The Orb - The End Of The End

The brilliant opening track from the ambitious, eclectic new LP 'No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds'. This one finds their trademark ambient dub house sounds combining with enchanting soul-pop songwriting, with vocals from Emma Gillespie. While much Orb material of recent years has been characterised by minimalism, their 15th studio album finds the electronic legends exploring a dynamic range of influences, moods and sonic possibilities. The record also sees the duo collaborating with a host of guests including Youth, Jah Wobble, Hollie Cook and Roger Eno.

“I wanted to try something with more musicians and more voices. More contributors essentially - similar to the conditions our first album ‘Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld’ were recorded in”, explains Alex Paterson. “Thomas and I made two streamlined, techno-style albums for Kompakt which I love, but this time I wanted a change to expand the palate, and to bring in other elements that will keep people guessing and keep them confused. This is a more English and less German sounding LP and it’s on an English label, although obviously the music comes from all over the globe and beyond, as do the musicians.”  One of 2018's best albums and the finest Orb record in many years, it sounds amazing on limited edition blue vinyl (which I think is still available at the time of posting).

The Orb will be celebrating their 30th anniversary by playing a six date UK tour this Autumn. The shows will feature a Greatest Hits set alongside tracks from the new album.


Rewind: Eels - Last Stop: This Town

This magnificent single from the Eels was released 20 years ago today on 14 September 1998, reaching number 23 in the singles chart. One of the best songs of the era. Featuring an irresistibly sweet music box-like hok that carries the track, this was the first single to be released from the second Eels album Electro Shock Blues. Mark 'E' Everett wrote the songs on the often dark and solemn LP following ther suicide of his sister Elizabeth, and after becoming the last surviving member of the Everett family (until the birth of his son Archie a few years ago)

Last Stop: This Town imagines the departed as spirits flying over neighbourhoods and cities, able to see everything below them in a way that the living can't. Well, that's how I see it anyway. Despite the song's tragic background, it has a joyous vibe and comes with a humourous video featuring animated singing vegetables. Typical Eels, balancing the sadness with joy. The latest Eels album 'The Deconstruction' was released earlier this year.


ALBUM: Paul Weller - True Meanings (2018)


It's astonishing how Paul Weller carries on making classic album after classic album. Released today, True Meanings is a majestic, varied yet focused record gleaming with mysterious, graceful beauty, every track reflecting a special warmth. Quite simply the best living songwriter on earth. 

You can listen to the album in full via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

Having just won the award for Songwriter Of The Year at the GQ Awards, and played a stunning set at the Bristol Downs Festival earlier this month (reviewed in depth HERE), the British icon is on a roll. His 14th solo album (and 26th overall) is described as "record unlike any he has ever made before, characterised by grandiose-yet-delicate, lush orchestration: an aesthetic to which Paul’s better-than-ever voice, singing some of his most nakedly honest words, is perfectly suited. It is not “a departure”, in the sense that soul bearing, melancholic songs have always been an important part of what he does: from English Rose, to Brand New Start, right up to The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe from last year’s Jawbone soundtrack. But never, ever before has he allowed himself an entire album to exhibit this side of his song-writing, or presented them quite like this.

The album was recorded in a 3 week period at Paul’s Black Barn Studio, and produced largely by Weller. It was engineered and recorded by Charles Rees and mixed by Jan Stan Kybert. It also features contributions from folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, Conor O'Brien, Noel Gallagher and Lucy Rose. 


ALBUM: Manic Street Preachers - This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours revisited 20 years on


20 years ago today (September 14) the Manic Street Preachers released their fifth studio album This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours', a much-anticipated record at the time, which went on to become their biggest seller.

Listen to the album in full below on YouTube. If you enjoy the music, be sure to purchase a copy of this record and support the artists.

At the time I was a 14 year old who like many had become a fan via the seminal A Design For Life and their classic 1996 album Everything Must Go. Hardcore devotees from their early years were hoping that their fifth LP would be a return to the heavier, punkier sound of the first three records. But let's face it, that was never going to happen. Following the disappearance of lyricist Richey Edwards in 1995, the band's musical style took a natural change in direction, as Nicky Wire's writing style influenced how James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore would approach the music.

'The Everlasting' is one of those incredible opening tracks, a spacious, cinematic epic radiating with the saddest, resigned beauty, and their first number 1 single 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' is elevated by its awesome guitar effects. There's the pretty verses and bombastic stadium rock chorus of 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart', and the powerful 'Ready For Drowning', with its haunting church organ and a splendid sound perfectly evoking the Welsh valleys. One of those all-time "should've been a single" classic album tracks. Its lyrics tell the story of the Welsh village of Treweryn and its destruction; it was flooded in the 1960s in order to create a reservoir to supply water to Liverpool. 

The stunning oriental flavours of 'Tsunami' are followed by the solemn acoustic moods and brooding cello of 'My Little Empire', an ode to solitude with a sound slightly reminiscent of Nirvana's 'Unplugged' album. Over the years, the yearning power ballad 'I'm Not Working' has grown on me to become one of my favourite moments on the album, lit up by wondrous production and fine instrumentation.

Another major highlight comes with the joyously melodic 'You're Tender And You're Tired', a song topped with brilliant piano and a spectacular vocal from Bradfield. 'Born A Girl' charms with its sparse, delicate blues, while the huge 'Be Natural' features utterly sublime guitar lines and another heaving chorus. A genuine classic, wide-screen magnificence arrives in the form of 'Black Dog On My Shoulder', with it's glorious brushed drums, sweetly playful bridge, graceful, soaring strings, and another vocal that sends shivers down the spine. Magical in every way, and easily capable of reducing me to tears. 'Nobody Loved You' is angsty and heavy as the LP gets, and the bleak, almost-jazzy closer 'S.Y.M.M' has always been considered a somewhat anticlimactic and lyrically slightly awkward ending, but it is what it is, and it adds character to the record.

It was the first Manics album not to feature any of Richey's lyrics, and only three years after his disappearance, the album is yearning with a great sense of loss and moves at a much slower pace than previous records. It's imbued with a deep feeling of introspection and stands as one of the most beautifully melancholic albums ever made. It went straight to number 1 in the UK on the week of its release, and went on to sell 5 million copies. It's title is a quote by Welsh Labour politician Aneurin Bevan, and its cover photograph was taken on Black Rock Sands near Porthmadog, Wales.

20 years on, and This Is My Truth stands tall as one of the band's finest works.


Thursday, 13 September 2018

Track Of The Day: Gorillaz: Tranz

Urgent cosmic brilliance from Gorillaz, featuring wondrous synths and 80s electro vibes. Damon Albarn's virtual group have released a new video for this track from the highly recommended recent album 'The Now Now'. It's a set of songs that provide a noticeable contrast to last year's 'Humanz'. Wheras that album and its predecessors were often very busy in terms of arrangements, and full of guest vocalists, 'The Now Now' relies more on the masterful songwriting skills of Albarn, and his production methods.

CREDITS:

Director: Jamie Hewlett
Co-director: Nicos Livesey
Executive Producer: Bart Yates
Producer: Georgina Fillmore


Rewind: Mansun -Six (Album version)

In a change from the usual singles from 20 years ago, here's another album track from 20 years ago. Another version of this was released as a single the following year, but this is the opener from Mansun's second LP 'Six', released 20 years ago this week. The Chester combo's extraordinary post-punk prog masterpiece has gone on to be regarded as a cult classic. You can listen to the album HERE, where you can also read a recent article I wrote revisiting this great record, along with pieces from an interview with the band's Paul Draper, and other memories of 'Six'...


Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Track Of The Day: Paul Weller - The Soul Searchers

This Friday (September 14) sees the release of another collection of songs from the legendary Paul Weller. Already hugely critically acclaimed before its release 'True Meanings' opens with this wondrous acoustic tone-setter, a collaboration between Weller and Connor O’Brien of Villagers, who provided the lyrics. Rod Argent of The Zombies guests on Hammond organ.

Having just won the award for Songwriter Of The Year at the GQ Awards, and played a stunning set at the Bristol Downs Festival earlier this month (reviewed in depth HERE), the British icon is on a roll. His 14th solo album (and 26th overall) is described as "record unlike any he has ever made before, characterised by grandiose-yet-delicate, lush orchestration: an aesthetic to which Paul’s better-than-ever voice, singing some of his most nakedly honest words, is perfectly suited. It is not “a departure”, in the sense that soul bearing, melancholic songs have always been an important part of what he does: from English Rose, to Brand New Start, right up to The Ballad Of Jimmy McCabe from last year’s Jawbone soundtrack. But never, ever before has he allowed himself an entire album to exhibit this side of his song-writing, or presented them quite like this.

The album was recorded in a 3 week period at Paul’s Black Barn Studio, and produced largely by Weller. It was engineered and recorded by Charles Rees and mixed by Jan Stan Kybert. It also features contributions from folk legends Martin Carthy and Danny Thompson, Conor O'Brien, Noel Gallagher and Lucy Rose. 



Rewind: Belle and Sebastian - A Summer Wasting

Today's Rewind selection from 20 years ago isn't a single, but a track from a brilliant album which contained no singles. The magnificent moment is from Belle And Sebastian's third studio album 'The Boy With The Arab Strap', released on 7 September 1998. One of the essential end-of-summer records, with a charming Glasweigan sound. Back in the late 90s, the Scottish indie chamber pop combo were very cool, highly praised and respected on the independent scene. Their quiet, humble brand of delicate, folk-flavoured music was a refreshing contrast to the high profile bombast of Britpop. After a number of EPs and albums, 'The Boy With The Arab Strap' found the band at their creative peak. 

Read an article about the album and listen to it in full HERE.


Tuesday, 11 September 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Menace Beach - Black Rainbow Sound (2018)

The third album from Leeds-based duo Menace Beach is a celestial treat for lovers of alternative rock. The songs on 'Black Rainbow Sound' show a band who have come into their own. Having always embraced a diverse set of influences, this time round the pair explore them to even greater effect. The vividly energetic title track immediately launches the listener into the album's stratosphere, a propulsive helping of Krautrock-infused psychedelica with driving bass, infectious vocal hooks and the guest vocals of former Fall member Brix Smith-Start.

The vintage drum machines and analogue keys on 'Satellite' bring to mind Stereolab with a twist of the same sort of Yorkshire kitsch found on Human League or Pulp records, while the classic 'Crawl In Love' is one of 2018's best tracks, bursting at the seams with squalling analogue synths, a monster of a shoegazey riff, a pleasingly lo-fi drum sound, and a weird druggy atmosphere billowing from its groove like a dense smoke. In places, almost bringing to mind a more psychedelic, shoegazey version of Mansun. 'Tongue' has nagging Fall-like repetitions, off kilter vocals, and a brooding chorus, before the record journeys into the colourful lo-fi of 'Mutator'. The woozy synthpop daydream '8000 Molecules' is a nice contrast to 'Hypnotiser Keeps The Ball Rolling', an enjoyable helping of stoner Krautrock with raucous post-punk riffage. 

'Holy Crow''s melodic and playful verses combine with scuzzy, distorted bass that gives the chorus a razor sharp edge, before weird, wonky electronics add to 'Watermelon''s forceful motorik rock n roll and enticing dual vocals from Liza Violet and Ryan Needham. The discordant meets the harmonious on the grungy space rock closer '(Like) Rainbow Juice', featuring a superb monologue from Brix as the indie icon makes her second appearance on the LP.

A fine mixture of post-punk electronica, and psychedelic shoegaze synthpop, with some excellent sonic qualities and the best songwriting yet from the duo. 8/10

You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 


ALBUM: Belle And Sebastian - The Boy With The Arab Strap (1998)

20 years ago this week, Belle And Sebastian released their third studio album 'The Boy With The Arab Strap', on 7 September 1998. One of the essential end-of-summer records, with a charming Glasweigan sound. Back in the late 90s, the Scottish indie chamber pop combo were very cool, highly praised and respected on the independent scene. Their quiet, humble brand of delicate, folk-flavoured music was a refreshing contrast to the high profile bombast of Britpop. After a number of EPs and albums, 'The Boy With The Arab Strap' found the band at their creative peak. 

Beginning with the gentle Nick Drake-like 'It Could've Been A Brilliant Career', other highlights include the glorious 'Sleep The Clock Around', the sweet, enchanting vocals of Isobel Campbell on 'Is It Wicked Not To Care', the mysterious beauty of 'Ease Your Feet In The Sea', the magnificent 'A Summer Wasting', and the rich, warming 'Seymour Stein'. All songs that sit at the very top of the band's musical achievements. Right in the middle, there's the Glaswegian spoken word and jazz funk stylings of the brilliant 'A Space Boy Dream', clearly intended as an interlude to break up both sides of the album. The record's second half produces a double whammy as 'A Dirty Dream Number 2''s Northern soul back beat and wonderful melody 60s pop melodies lead up to the superb title track, with its subversive lyrics disguised in as an innocent sounding bounce of a rhythm, complete with T-Rex handclaps and a recorder solo.

The LP's closing moments are more subtle, and as a result, the remainder of the record does seem to tail off. Yet 'Chickfactor', the brief and lovely 'Simple Things' and 'The Rollercoaster Ride' are still worthy of a listen. Despite a few glowing moments on the follow-up LP, I don't think Belle And Sebastian never released a record this magical again. While still occasionally producing gold like 'I Want The World To Stop', for the most part they lost their shine as they branched out into other styles, and launched an unashamed attempt at mainstream success. 

You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 



Track Of The Day: Paul McCartney - I Don't Know

It’s become a long running cliche over the years to enthusiastically declare that Paul McCartney has "returned to form" pretty much every time he's released anything since The Beatles that wasn’t terrible. This time, his new album Egypt Station contains more brilliant Macca moments than anything he’s made in years. Although it thrives on a surprisingly contemporary sound, at the same time much of it recalls various points of his long as me illustrious career. The highlights include the stunning Abbey Road-like 'I Don’t Know', a beautifully soulful track which ranks as one of his very best.

McCartney said: "I liked the words 'Egypt Station.' It reminded me of the 'album' albums we used to make... 'Egypt Station' starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from."

There's also the upbeat ‘Come On Me’, and ‘Confidente’, a touching acoustic ode to his old guitar. Aside from the gorgeous ‘Hand In Hand', when you get past the first few tracks, the best stuff remaining is the material that doesn’t sound much like McCartney at all: the hugely divisive Coldplay-on-viagra singalong 'Fuh You', the closing medley ‘Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link’, the odd bossa nova of 'Back In Brazil’, and the Chic-like 'Caesar Rock'. Elsewhere, the epic multi-part 'Despite Repeated Warnings' is a bit of an awkward, disjointed listen, it’s lyrics concerning a ship with a dangerous captain at the helm, in what is probably a political metaphor. Brilliant and flawed, but this time brilliant shines more noticeably. 8/10 is my verdict.


Rewind: Helen Love - Long Live The UK Music Scene

This single was released 20 years ago in September 1998, reaching number 65 in the UK charts. In the mid 90s, the music press was in a frenzy over Britpop. The whole nation would soon be captured, and the party escalated to crazy heights. By 1998, the bubble had burst and the media was awash with doom and gloom over falling sales and a grim outlook for the future of the music industry. Dated but ridiculously catchy, this humorous track by Welsh bubblegum punk outfit Helen Love is full of sarcasm and presents itself ironically, yet in another context it could be the defiant anthem playing as the Britpop ship goes down. This is the band's only entry in the UK singles chart. They have released a number of EPS and albums since, the most recent being the 'Double Denim' single from this year.


Monday, 10 September 2018

Track Of The Day: Thom Yorke - Suspirium

Alluring, sparse new track from the Radiohead frontman. 

It comes from Thom Yorke's upcoming 25-track "Suspiria" soundtrack, which is due out Oct. 26 on XL Recordings. The original 1977 horror "Suspiria" was directed by Dario Argento, with a score composed by the Italian rock band Goblin. The 2018 remake also takes place in the 1970s, and is released on Nov. 2. 

Yorke talked about composing the film's music: “It was an odd process from the beginning. When Luca [Guadagnino] first came to see me, with the producers and [editor] Walter [Fasano], I just thought they were mad, because I’ve never done a soundtrack before. And ‘Suspiria’ is one of those legendary soundtracks. It took a few months to even contemplate the idea. It was one of those moments in your life where you kind want to run away, but you know you'll regret it if you do."

"I watched the original film several times, and I loved it because it was of that time, an incredibly intense soundtrack. Obviously, Goblin and Dario [Argento] worked incredibly closely when they did it together. But it was of its time and there was no way I could reference it in any way. There was no point, other than what I found interesting was they used repetition of motifs, again and again and again. Part of your mind is saying, ‘Please, I don’t want to hear this anymore.' That was really great. That's sort of hooked me into the whole process."

Yorke added, "There’s a way of repeating in music that can hypnotize. I kept thinking to myself that it’s a form of making spells. So when I was working in my studio, I was making spells. I know it sounds really stupid, but that’s how I was thinking about it. It was a sort of freedom I’ve not had before. I’m not working in the format of song arrangement. I’m just exploring ... It was a really cool way to totally immerse myself in an area that I normally wouldn't go, with full permission."


Rewind: Delakota - C'Mon Cincinatti

Some big beat indie funk from the brilliant and underrated Delakota. This was released 20 years ago in September 1998, reaching number 55 in the UK singles chart. This single also came with a 12" EP of remixes by Fatboy Slim.

1998 and '99 are years that I will always remember for some amazing songs from new bands, who only reached the bottom end of the charts, before most of them disappeared forever. Delakota were one such act. In fact, if this sort of indie band became more popular in the late 90s, they could've helped take guitar music to far more interesting places at the turn of the century. 

Their previous single 'The Rock' was a beautifully tranquil song that soundtracked many of my evenings in the summer of 1998. An essential late 90s indie track. I wrote about it HERE


Delakota's sound combined the big beat and hip hop sounds of the late 90s with strong indie rock songwriting and a lively, diverse range of influences. Described as an "alternative dance" act, they formed from the ashes of pop-punk outfit The Senseless Things, who split in 1995. Drummer Cass Browne and Morgan Nicholls formed Delakota with Des Murphy (Solid State Revival, Wasteland, Los Bastardos, Genius Freak) and Brian Pearce in 1997. In an interview with musicmuso.com HERE, Browne stated that he was shaken by the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 and as a result, steered clear of guitar music for a while, choosing instead to experiment with samplers: “Everyone had followed the band (Nirvana) from their early ‘underdog’ status to the behemoth that they grew into (whether they liked it or not!) and it felt to me that if this is what becomes of a band at the height of their career...  I just couldn’t listen to guitar music for a long time after that. With Senseless Things over, especially so. I got heavily into soul music; Curtis Mayfield for one, Sly and The Family Stone, more James Brown, Funkadelic. Jimmy Cliff. The Studio One catalogue. Sunshine music, really. I got into lots of Hip Hop. I guess it was me trying to stay away from anything that sounded self-depreciating. Kurt really took that to the 9th degree and it really made me want to stay well back from it for the time being. I just needed a complete internal re-invention. I wanted to feel positive.”



Following 'C'Mon Cincinatti' and 'The Rock', the band made the album 'One Love', an eclectic debut that brings to mind Primal Scream but with a more uplifting, playful approach. Described as "a soulful fusion of hip-hop, big beat and indie rock", it also drew comparisons with Beck and the Beastie Boys. At times it sounds not unlike The Charlatans making a record with Groove Armada, or The Chemical Brothers remixing The Stone Roses. Psychedelica mixed with country, gospel, Stax vibes, dub sounds and an unintentional touch of the early 90s Madchester scene. As well as playing at festivals and being hotly tipped by the music press, Delakota were played regularly on Radio 1's flagship alternative show The Evening Session. One of their live appearances was on BBC2’s Newsnight, having been invited on the show to represent new British talent after a discussion about the current state of the music industry. While some brilliant and interesting genre-splicing sounds were being created, behind the scenes things didn't seem so positive financially, as Browne remembers years later: "I was in Delakota, living on £30 a week, laughing my ass off the whole time, drunk and high and really enjoying it! Then I realised I needed to buy more gear as it was getting difficult to make music..." 

The group parted company with their label GO Beat in 1999, and began working on a second album. They released two new singles, but after 2000 they were never heard from again. Either the band went on an extended hiatus, or completely packed it in after Des Murphy quit due to "major label pressure". Nicholls also released a number of singles and an album under the alias Morgan via Source Records in the late 90s, and after Delakota became inactive, he joined Muse as a live member, contributing backing vocals, keyboards and synthesizers to their shows. He also played as part of the Gorillaz live band in 2005 and 2006. Cass Browne was another Delakota band member who made contributions to Gorillaz, performing with them from 2001 until 2010. He was also the author of all the dialogue of the vitual band's members, and scripting all the interviews as the characters for magazines who wish to interview Noodle, 2D, Russel and Murdoc.

Des Murphy released some of his own music, before becoming a member of Penguin Cafe, who also feature Cass Browne in their line up. In 2017, Browne, Nicholls and the other two original members of The Senseless Things decided to reform the band after a 22 year split.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Track Of The Day: The Living End - Amsterdam

The emotional, Billy Bragg-like 'Amsterdam' is the second track from The Living End’s forthcoming album Wunderbar, released September 28. It will be the Australian punk rock trio's eighth full length effort.


Rewind: The Smashing Pumpkins - Perfect

This wonderful single was released 20 years ago in September 1998, reaching number 24 in the UK charts. The breezy 'Perfect' was the second single to be lifted from the band's fourth album 'Adore', a record which found them in a more subtle mode. Following a number of line-up changes over the years since, a "reformed" Smashing Pumpkins featuring key members from the early days are currently recording and touring.


Saturday, 8 September 2018

ALBUM: Paul McCartney - Egypt Station (2018)

Released this week on 7 September 2018. You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

It’s become a long running cliche over the years to enthusiastically declare that Paul McCartney has "returned to form" pretty much every time he's released anything since The Beatles that wasn’t terrible. This time, his new album Egypt Station contains more brilliant Macca moments than anything he’s made in years. Although it thrives on a surprisingly contemporary sound, at the same time much of it recalls various points of his long as me illustrious career. The highlights include the stunning Abbey Road-like 'I Don’t Know', a beautifully soulful track which ranks as one of his very best.

McCartney said: "I liked the words 'Egypt Station.' It reminded me of the 'album' albums we used to make... 'Egypt Station' starts off at the station on the first song and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from."

There's also the upbeat ‘Come On Me’, and ‘Confidente’, a touching acoustic ode to his old guitar. Aside from the gorgeous ‘Hand In Hand', when you get past the first few tracks, the best stuff remaining is the material that doesn’t sound much like McCartney at all: the hugely divisive Coldplay-on-viagra singalong 'Fuh You', the closing medley ‘Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link’, the odd bossa nova of 'Back In Brazil’, and the Chic-like 'Caesar Rock'. Elsewhere, the epic multi-part 'Despite Repeated Warnings' is a bit of an awkward, disjointed listen, it’s lyrics concerning a ship with a dangerous captain at the helm, in what is probably a political metaphor. Brilliant and flawed, but this time brilliant shines more noticeably. 8/10 is my verdict.



ALBUM: Hole - Celebrity Skin (1998)

Hole's fifth album 'Celebrity Skin' was released 20 years ago this week on 7 September 1998. You can listen to the album via YouTube below, and if you appreciate the music, go and buy yourself a copy. 

Despite being criticised by some for its supposedly more commercial sound, in terms of alt-rock songwriting, this was Courtney Love's band at their very best. It would be the last Hole album for 12 years, and brought the group's golden period to an end on a high. "It's better to rise than fade away" states the superb 'Reasons To Be Beautiful'. It features three terrific singles: the brilliantly in-your-face title track that sticks two fingers up to the plastic glamour of Hollywood, the infectious 'Awful' and the joyously melodic 'Malibu'. The majority of the album tracks are also a fine listen, such as the Billy Corgan-assisted 'Dying', the heavy 'Use Once And Destroy', and the excellent acoustic moodiness of 'Northern Star'. After the group's split in 2002 and partial reformation in 2010, Love brought Hole to an end once more in 2013.


REVIEW: Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds/Paul Weller at the Bristol Downs Festival, 01/09/2018


This is a very special day for the city of Bristol, yet it turns out to be far more than that. Despite the South West being the location for Glastonbury, other events in the region don't tend to register on the same scale as the bigger UK festivals. The Downs Festival in Bristol however, has been improving and strengthening its line-up each year, and tonight they have managed to bring a bill that includes some highly rated new acts, a DJ set from Basement Jaxx, drum n bass hero Goldie, and techno legends Orbital. But if that wasn't enough, for the main stage, they've also managed to book the coolest living British icon that there is. And unbelievably, he's only second on the bill, the headliner being the man behind the biggest band of the last 30 years. This was bound to be monumental, yet even I had no idea just how astonishing this evening would turn out. It's no exaggeration to describe it as historic, since every show played by these two particular musicians will one day be seen as part of music history, future generations wishing they could have been there to witness it and be part of it. Rather how I feel when I talk to people who were lucky enough to see David Bowie, or The Beatles even. Sometimes we forget that these people aren't going to be around forever, and we forget that we are lucky enough to be alive at the same time as them. Everything is history.


Which is why it makes my very first time watching Paul Weller even more special. Make no mistake about it, this man is a legend in every sense of the word. I would've happily shelled out £55 to see him play alone, which is just as well seeing as I wasn't able to get to Bristol until the late afternoon. Annoyingly but inevitably, they put Orbital on at the same time as tonight's main stage headliner, who I would never give up the chance to see. Never mind, the techno duo are back in Bristol this December. Tonight, I just need to get a good place near the front of the stage to see not one, but two of my heroes in action. Somehow, I've never had the chance to see Weller, despite being a fan for about 23 years. Living in Wiltshire for the first 32 years of my life, not being able to drive, and not having much money meant that I could never really get to gigs outside of the region. If anyone as big as Weller would play anywhere near me, the tickets would sell out before I could find the money or means to get there. Thankfully things changed, and coincided with the announcement that Weller and another very special artist would be playing at this festival about an hour's drive from where I live. Everyone here from the South West is blessed to have Weller here tonight, especially if it's their first time seeing him. 

It's odd for someone with a new album out in less than two weeks to play nothing from it during an hour-long set. However, an hour is a minuscule amount of time when you have 41 years of music to choose from. With the contemplative, orchestral folk sound of the 'True Meanings' album signalling another new chapter for Weller, before that era begins, he chooses to close the previous one with a faultless festival set that showcases just a few of the timeless treasures that he has given to the music world over the last five glorious decades. Appearing on the stage to a loud cheer, the Modfather and his band kick straight into the grinding muscular groove of 2015's 'White Sky', with two drum kits giving its rhythm an extra-solid base. The song and it's performance are awe-inspiring, as is the fact that this icon who I have listened to so many times and seen pictured in so many places is here in front of my very own eyes, doing the thing that has put him into the history books. I say "the thing" when there are actually lots of things. Originally released when he was part of The Style Council, the infectious 80's soul anthem 'Shout To The Top' is impossible not to move to, the guitars on the early 90's 'Sunflower' are like a masterclass in effective riffage, while 'Long Time' from 2015's eclectic 'Saturns Pattern' is a superb krautrock/RnB tune with a Velvet Underground vibe and a no-nonsense call-and-response verse. 


This set is on a different level to anything I have been present at before. Usually if I hear a set of classic songs covering all eras from the late 70s to the present day that were all relevant and vital songs of their times, then it must mean I'm watching a covers band. These are all songs written by the man standing in front of us. How many artists can you truly say that about? The beautiful breeze of 'Hung Up' reminds of his rootsy reinvention as a solo artist in the early 90s, while 'Friday Street' from a few years later shows us that his talent as a songwriter played a pivotal role during the Britpop era, and produced some of the era's most incredible albums too. While many bands and artists from that time rely a lot on material from that period, for Weller it's just one arrow in his bow. When he plays 'Man In The Corner Shop', you also remember that he was the brains behind the most successful band of the late 70's punk scene, one who evolved and split at the peak of their powers, their status and reputation preserved for all-time. It's not as if I didn't know about The Jam, The Style Council, or any of Weller's early or recent solo material before. It is all music that has been part of my life for most of my days. Yet hearing it all played together in one set is when it hits you: this is one of the all-time greats, a man whose role in music has been so great and varied, that he can legitimately be described as elemental. Like Bowie, when you look back at musical history, he is a figure who pops up everywhere, and who survived the test of time by staying relevant, and embracing the possibilities of reinvention. And we are here on earth now, still able to play a part in his story while he is still here writing it. Is the state of music REALLY as bad as what some think it is, when THIS is still happening? If you're one of those people who needs a bit of perspective on that subject, I'd get yourselves to a Weller gig pronto.


This man has penned so many great songs that even if he played for hours, he still wouldn't be able to fit them all in. Every setlist is different, and never predictable. You never know what's coming next. It could be the hard punching rhythm and blues of 'Peacock Suit', an awesome moment from 1997's 'Heavy Soul' which perfectly embodies the title of that brilliant album. It could be the joyous northern soul-pop of the 1984 hit 'My Ever Changing Moods', his surging retro-rock signature tune 'The Changingman', or the infectious punk-funk of The Jam's 'Start!' Hearing these songs played by their author is a privilege to say the very least. It's almost like a dream, in fact. And the renowned compositions just keep on coming: the stunning, bittersweet elegance that is created by 'You Do Something To Me' is impossible not to be captured by, while the stunning 'Wild Wood' is given more space and atmosphere when played at this slightly steadier pace by Weller and his excellent band, who are all on top form tonight. It would almost be rude not to give a mention to the brilliance of guitarist Steve Cradock, still the perfect sideman after all these years as well as continuing to move and excite other audiences with Ocean Colour Scene.


It's so impossible to criticise tonight's set in any way, that I even forgive the inclusion of 'Woo Se Mama', the weakest track from his excellent 2017 LP 'A Kind Revolution' and yet the only one played tonight. What I used to consider a naff song with a naff title is played so well that it brings me a step closer to warming to it. Faultless performance is also in store when they bring the funk again, along with a generous helping of rock riffing for a fantastic, almost celebratory 'Into Tomorrow', with bassist Andy Lewis skillfully demonstrating his value, as do the rest of the group. Meanwhile, Weller reminds us that as well as being a legendary voice, and a true master of songwriting, he is also a great guitarist. He is so many other things too. Including the writer of the rousing 'That's Entertainment', a definitively British singalong so enjoyable that crowds are still singing it at the top of their voices 38 years after its release. "Anthemic" is not an exaggeration.


Such an incredible experience seems to go by in the blink of an eye. Around 16 songs packed into an hour, with no time to play so many other classics, let alone any new material. And ridiculously, this total God of a figure isn't even the main act. In context, it doesn't seem so ridiculous when the headliner is Noel Gallagher. Admittedly, Noel probably wouldn't have had such a successful career if it wasn't for the influence of Weller's music, but tonight that doesn't seem like the point. It's always good when a festival bill features a brilliant penultimate act to get the crowd warmed up for the main event. But Noel's "warm up act" happened to be a massive icon. The crowd aren't just warmed up. They are absolutely buzzing. It's almost too much excitement to take, especially for someone like myself, having just watched one of my heroes live for the first time and realised that he is even more legendary and important than I thought. And rather than taking time to recover from such an overwhelming experience, less than an hour later I am about to see a man whose songs soundtracked my youth, and whose band absolutely ruled the era in which I grew up in.

The last time I was able to see Noel Gallagher was 18 years and four days ago, when Oasis headlined the Leeds Festival back in August 2000. To say that a lot has changed since then would be an understatement. The year 2000 was a bit of a funny time for Oasis, and certainly a transitional period. Following their massive success, the hype and disappointment of Be Here Now, the death of Britpop, the departures of Bonehead and Guigsy, and recording their fourth album with an incomplete band, what Oasis needed was an album to put them back at the very top. People pinned their hopes on 'Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants' being a big return to form, leading to an even bigger disappointment when they learned that it wasn't. The group were as brilliant as they ever had been at Leeds that year, and the boisterous crowd didn't seem to mind that the previous two albums weren't as good as the first two. It was also the last date on a tour that saw the beginning of Oasis mark 2, Andy Bell and Gem Archer having been recruited to tour the album, make the band complete again, and to bring in some different songwriters. It was meant to revitalise the group, but instead the second half of the Oasis story had some very mixed results.


Despite Noel's usual enthusiasm in the press for his songs, there was this nagging feeling that the biggest songwriter of the era was struggling. Under constant pressure to match '(What's The Story?) Morning Glory', and feeling the weight of the disproportionate criticism given to his previous two albums, the man who they called The Chief was suddenly being held back by writers block and a lack of confidence.

Or was it something else holding him back? Frustrated by his older brother's reputation as "the talented one", Liam Gallagher had a go at writing his own songs for Oasis, resulting in a lot of ridicule when the dire 'Little James' was included on SOTSOG. The frontman's voice was always immense on the recordings, but in the 2000s he could often ruin live performances with too much emphasis on aggression, arrogance and attitude. In the studio, Liam wouldn't be afraid of adding a touch of laddish vulnerability to his vocals when certain tracks required it. But such tenderness would go straight out the window as soon as he stood in front of a massive audience. At times, the look on Noel's face as his often-drunken brother failed to hit the high notes said it all. It's undeniable that Liam added something special to Oasis, but at times he could completely sabotage any hint of delicacy in the songs.

In hindsight, as soon as the second phase of Oasis moved into action, the band began to drift apart. Their remaining three albums would be 50% tracks written by Noel, with the remainder being penned by Liam, Andy and Gem. As a result, the records sounded uneven and at times somewhat compromised. Although these albums improved on the sales of that fourth record, Oasis would never reach the dizzy heights of the mid 90s again.


Following that explosive backstage fight in Paris that divided the brothers for good in 2009, fans split themselves into Team Noel and Team Liam. The former reckoned that the band was essentially a vehicle for Noel's songwriting. Meanwhile, Liam's disciples argued that Oasis was all about that voice. Of course if you were a bit more sensible, you'd probably agree that what made Oasis special was the combination of Noel's songs and Liam's vocals. I used to think that there was some sort of magic at work with those two, and the fact they were brothers seemed like fate. Maybe Noel was born to write songs especially for his future brother to sing, and Liam was put on this earth to sing his older sibling's songs. You couldn't imagine 'Headshrinker' being sung by Noel, and you wouldn't think that Liam could write a classic as stunning as 'Champagne Supernova'. For a while, they DID need each other. But only to write the first chapter of the story.

Just because it was meant to be doesn't mean it was meant to be forever. If Liam singing Noel's songs was what made Oasis, then technically we weren't getting much of it during the later days. On those last three albums, Noel would only write half the songs, most of which his younger brother would refuse to sing, or perhaps wasn't suited to. So the elder Gallagher would have to voice many of them himself anyway. In hindsight it's no surprise that the band eventually split into Noel and Beady Eye, since it had been going that way for a while.


Noel needed no time to adapt to being a solo artist, since he had been singing his own songs for years. You could argue that Liam wasn't missed on The Masterplan, Half The World Away, Don't Look Back In Anger, Little By Little and many other songs. Noel's vocals offered a softer contrast to his brother's, and were better suited to acoustic numbers and the darker, more emotional material that he was beginning to write towards the end of the band. Even during their existence, there were many who said that Noel was the true talent, that he would be better on his own, and that they didn't like Oasis because of Liam.

These are all things to put into perspective. I wish I didn't even have to mention Oasis, but the story is essential to understanding the context of this incredible show tonight: how the past has shaped the present, how things have changed massively, how other things have remained, and why Oasis should NEVER reform.

Having Weller playing before Noel and his High Flying Birds hasn't just had a great impact on the crowd, but it's also warmed up Gallagher and his band. It's also a genius move to remind people that although Weller was once the songwriter in one of the greatest bands of all-time, he moved on to different things and became even more of a legend. If he had reformed The Jam, we wouldn't have had all those astonishing solo tracks.

If there were any criticisms of the first two Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds albums, it would be that they didn't stray that far from the Oasis formula. That all changed with last year's incredible 'Who Built The Moon', the album that saw The Chief finally stepping out of his comfort zone. Its mighty opening track 'Fort Knox' certainly makes for a fine set starter as Noel and his band walk on to the stage, the chunky funk beats and booming bass building up the already highly charged excitement. The largely instrumental curtain raiser must be a surprise to anyone here who hasn't listened to any of Gallagher's solo work. Influenced partly by Kanye West's 'The Power', with its amped-up loops and Eastern vibes, this is no simple exercise in basic indie rock. This isn't to say that Noel has gone completely all-out experimental. Writing catchy melodies and big hooks is what he does incredibly well, but this time there's a new approach in terms of sonic boundaries. Those who love slagging him off for not taking risks will now have to desperately find a new excuse to have a dig.


For someone who hasn't been able to see Noel in nearly two decades, it's like welcoming back a very familiar old friend who has returned to the fold tooled up with a lot more weaponry. He launches into the awesome glam romp of 'Holy Mountain', one of his most irresistible and infectious songs yet. As Bowie/Roxy Music vibes meet with the French punk spirit of Plastic Bertrand, the lively tin whistle hook digs itself deep into people's minds as the jubilant chorus does everything you'd want from a Gallagher singalong. Noel may be moving on from indie guitar music, but accessible tunes are what he excels at. That's pretty evident from the fact that only two songs in, and I am already having just as much fun as I did when I was part of that Oasis crowd in August 2000.

The sensational northern gospel of 'Keep On Reaching' does exactly as the title states, mixing Motown with Manchester and occasionally bringing to mind Spiritualized doing a more urgent relative of 'Loose Fit' by the Happy Mondays. Again, this clearly isn't the type of thing that they used to feature on those Shine compilation albums. This is soul music with a definite swagger. The stunning 'It's A Beautiful World' exudes a colourful, cosmic sense of wonder as kinetic breakbeats compliment winding guitar lines and another magnificent chorus. If any proof was needed that it really IS "a beautiful world when we dance in the light", then being here tonight would cast away any doubt. Only less than a couple of years ago, I wasn't sure whether Noel could experiment with new sounds without compromising the quality of his songwriting. Instead, he's making it sound brilliantly effortless.

Another thing that seems effortless is the ability to slot these more ambitious moments next to tracks from the first two High Flying Birds albums and even some old Oasis numbers. We get steady paced drama and another fist-in-the-air singalong with the strident 'In The Heat Of The Moment', while the wonderful 'If I Had A Gun' provides a masterclass in powerful, heartfelt guitar anthems. And yes, some people STILL think it's 'Wonderwall' when they hear that familiar sounding intro. It's not a lie when I say that it's an equally great song. Also taken from the debut solo album is the bouncy Kinks-like 'Dream On', which should be more than enough to disspell the myth that Noel "lost it". It's quite telling that although the previously mentioned song was never a chart hit, it gets people singing just as loud as they do on the 2002 Oasis classic 'Little By Little', which sounds more rousing tonight than it ever has. It's a smart move to not focus too much on nostalgia, yet it would seem ridiculous if the man behind the biggest anthems of the 90s didn't allow himself to play any of them. It's a past that's impossible to forget or simply just ignore. Nowadays, The Chief has managed to strike the perfect balance. It feels more like looking at history through the eyes of the present rather than simply attempting to recreate it. I don't necessarily think of 2002 when I hear 'Little By Little', but of everything that has happened since, and how every event has led me to where I am now. I think about how Noel's music helped, inspired, guided and picked me up throughout those years. But most importantly, I think about the fact that after 24 years, I am still listening.


When Noel quit Oasis and brought the band to an end, I cried tears of sadness that night as an important era officially died. Tonight, as the glorious 'Whatever' is aired, they are tears of absolute, unbridled joy. I'm no longer wishing it was the mid 90's again, because my life is incredible in 2018 and these songs are still here to soundtrack the good times and the things that I never had back then. They are also here like a faithful old friend whenever I need a lift. After hearing the song that brought Noel and Oasis into my life, it would've been sad if it was immediately followed by a weak track from the present day. Nostalgia would win, the doubters would be proved right, and the music world of the present day would still seem like a spiralling comedown from the 90s. Luckily, where Noel Gallagher is concerned, there are no weak new songs. Maybe it hits you when an eternal classic like 'Whatever' is followed by the recent 'If Love Is The Law', and you hear no drop in quality. The sweet 60's pop melodies and its coupling of subtle verses with a surging chorus would certainly take a cold heart to dismiss. And as unimaginable as it was during the 90s, Noel is making music that people are DANCING to as opposed to leaping up and down shouting and throwing their beer in the air. Those who consider that a bad thing should open their minds. I for one can't help but get a groove on during the sublime New Order/Blondie-flavoured 'She Taught Me How To Fly', where guitars and disco rhythms move together brilliantly. There aren't many 24 year old B sides that can get a whole field singing at top volume in 2018, but the magnificent 'Half The World Away' does the job with ease, it's yearning, laid-back beauty enhanced with the warmth of a fine brass section. 



And yet this still doesn't feel like a nostalgia-fest, this is a man playing songs that led him to where he is today. Songs that led many of us to where we are today. When the audience are given an immortal musical landmark like 'Wonderwall', it's not necessarily just the mid 90s that come to mind. Such a song has become so deeply embedded into popular culture that it is timeless. It is a thing of now just as much as it is a thing of the 90s. Some of the people here weren't even born when Oasis were busy dominating the music world, and yet the song is part of their lives, part of them. That's apparent from the reaction it gets tonight, and guess what else? Nobody seems to be missing a certain former Beady Eye frontman.

Noel's younger brother probably wouldn't have suited the majority of these tracks anyway. His vocals may have edge, attitude and clarity, but not the soulful touch required for the electrifying 'AKA What A Life', where solid songwriting structure, house piano, psychedelica and dancefloor euphoria are mixed to awesome effect. Even further removed from the Britpop days, 'The Right Stuff' was never a huge favourite of mine when it featured on 2015's 'Chasing Yesterday'. Perhaps it sounded out of place there. Tonight in its live incarnation, it sounds immense. During the Be Here Now days, could you ever have imagined Noel creating brilliant psychedelic soul music? But there are some things that will never change, and one of them is that people will never get fed up of singing 'Don't Look Back In Anger' at the top of their lungs. All-time classics like these are so big and such an important part of our culture, that wherever they are played feels like it's the centre of the world at that moment. 

Usually a mass singalong like that would've been the climax of the evening. Not tonight. "Shall we get Weller out?" Well, we're not going to say no are we?

There can't be anyone cooler on earth than Weller as he strides onto the stage complete with black leather jacket and guitar. The place goes mad as they break into a jubilant 'Town Called Malice', Weller sounding totally triumphant while Noel and his band look like they're having the time of their lives. I would be too if I was playing legendary songs to an adoring crowd, and able to be joined onstage by one of music's all-time greatest icons. It's one of those moments that everyone here will be telling the grandkids about in years to come. An overwhelming "I was there" experience, that couldn't have been better. The Modfather remains on stage as the night ends with a celebratory, emotional 'All You Need Is Love', another moment from the past that has not only stood the test of time, but also brings a timeless message to the present day and for many generations to come. 

Essentially tonight reminds us to treasure the great things from the past, to stay open-minded to change, to enjoy and savour the present day, and to believe in the future. So before you ask Noel Gallagher for the millionth time if he's going to reform Oasis, ask yourself this: why would he want to?

A magical, glorious night. May there be many more for both Weller and Noel. 10/10


Watch a selection of videos from Paul Weller's set including Peacock Suit, Shout To The Top and Into Tomorrow below. The playlist will play automatically.




Watch a selection of videos from Noel's set, featuring It's A Beautiful World, Whatever, Half The World Away and Wonderwall. The playlist below will play automatically from the first video.