Archive for April, 2010

April 24, 2010

Election debate – Which party is healthy for the music industry?

After last nights fiery debate between the three main party leaders I thought it was about time to look at the policies of each party and how they affect the music industry.   These kind of issues are ignored in the main debates, the mandate is to focus on the big – electoral policies that make the next days headlines.   Although it would be a misjudgment to forget about the multi-billion pound music industry.

Digital Economy Bill –  This law has just been rushed through the House of Lords.   It will punish both illegal downloaders and their ISPs, which is a positive move for the music industry, although it could be severely damaging for civil liberties.  It’s a shame that the implications of the law haven’t been more carefully analysed – this new bill effectively constricts democratic rights and sets a dangerous precedent for future state interference.  The copyright holders will benefit, although how much remains to be seen?

Labour –  rushed bill through at the last-minute.

Conservative – Equally supportive of bill.

Liberal Democrats – Have expressed concern over the lack of civil rights – would like further scrutiny.

Live Music Bill – This bill has also been rushed through the House of Lords before the dissolving of Parliament.  The bill effectively reverses the draconian licensing that Labour brought in to police small venues – it allows venues of less than 200 people to hold live gigs without a license.  This is great for the roots of the live music industry and will encourage more live music in pubs, while scrapping the wasteful beaurocracy of the former license.

Labour – Introduced the bill in keeping with their increasingly state controlled regime.

Conservatives – Largely in support when the license was first introduced.

Liberal Democrats – Lord Clement Jones was the Liberal peer who proposed the scrapping of the license and has successfully navigated the bill through Parliament.

BBC 6 Music – The unpopular white paper review by the BBC Director General, Mark Thompson, to reduce BBC’s services by closing down 6Music.  This radio station is a fertile breeding ground for much of Britain’s musical talent, closing it down would be very damaging for the industry.

All the parties have come out in support of 6Music, even Gordon Brown has expressed his concern.  How much of this is electioneering his hard to tell?  I guess we will find out who really does have a substantive policy on this issue?

April 15, 2010

Leftfield to make festival come back!!

Seminal 90’s electronic band Leftfield have announced plans of a summer return, 10 years after their last gig.   Often cited as one of the most influential British dance bands of all time, one half of the duo, Neil Barnes, has decided to return to his greatest and most thrilling project, the Leftfield live experience.  Combining heart shuddering bass with euphoric house, minimalist techno and dub darkness the live show is unlike anything else that is around today.  Disappointingly the other half of the pioneering duo, Paul Daley, will not be joining his former partner due to other work commitments.  Neil will reform the rest of the live collective for the shows, including Rasta MC Cheshire Cat.   Their first performance will be at Scotland’s Rockness in June.  They will appear at an assortment of festivals around Europe, including Benaccasim and at the inaugural LED – London-Electronic-Dance-Festival in Victoria Park in August.

Leftfield actually split in 2002, but their last set of shows were in 2000, culminating in a New Years Eve bash at the London Arena with fellow electronic visionaries Orbital, who have since returned to the live fold after a hiatus.  It seems the buzz of a rapturous crowd is hard to replace?  The chance for new fans to experience the expansive house of their classic album ‘Leftism’ in a live setting is a thrilling prospect!  Often voted in music magazines as the best electronic album of all time, it is dance music with a visceral pulse.   Lets hope sound restrictions that often blight outdoor events don’t diminish the force of the Leftfield experience?

April 2, 2010

Arctic Monkeys play virgin gig at the Albert Hall

In the grand Victorian ballroom of the Albert Hall the Monkeys presented their new-found maturity and dark intensity.  The sound of the now five piece rumbled with a muscular depth and menacing growl that has only been recently conceived since their artistic re-birth with Queen of the desert rock, Josh Homme.   For all the musical virtuosity and sonic insouciance though, at times the elegant and cavernous monument seemed to drown their own physical beings.  You can take the music out of the boy……………..Still only 25, but at times Alex Turner’s sheer physical slightness and psychological shyness rendered both their musical development and cultural volte-face a little premature.  Don’t get me wrong?  This was a masterclass in stage dynamics, creating an atmosphere of both rhythmic density and visceral, youthful excitement.   This band have come along way in a very short time………The opening of Dance Little Liar was all twisting groove and growling delivery, starkly opposite to the song that followed, brianstorm, which featured Turner’s trademark yorkshire yarns.

The development of the band seems highly evolved and could serve them well in the ensuing years, especially in the stables of longevity and integrity – it takes a while to train a thoroughbred.  The one area that seems a little unsure of its career trajectory is Alex Turner and his stage manner.   Forever shy, he use to hide behind his youthful strut and his ironic knowingness.   Now he seems caught between irony and sincerity – gone beyond his years of teenage brashness yet still to approach anything like the stage presence of an experienced front man.  He still doesn’t feel comfortable leading the band and through his uncertainty his presence feels a little lost, especially in the enormous surrounds of the hall.   There are generally two kinds of great front men – one who exudes charisma and can charm a crowd at will – the other is the type who rarely speak a word, who just permeates a menacing presence of danger and intrigue.  Turner is neither one or the other – too shy to charm , too nice to scare!  Josh Homme needs to take him back to desert camp?