Thursday, 7 February 2013

How to win a bet - Dirty Old Town

If you fancy a tip on how to win yourself a bet in an Irish bar, stick around & I'll explain.

Ask someone where the classic folk song 'Dirty Old Town' is set & you will generally receive the following responses, Dublin?, Belfast? At which point, you can correct them & pick up your winnings as I've done in Irish bars previously, by advising that it  was written about Salford, Greater Manchester, where its composer was from.
The association with Ireland one suspects, is in the fact that it has been covered successfully by both
 The Pogues & The Dubliners,  it has actually been covered many many times by a very diverse set of artists, from Rod Stewart to The Specials.
The song was written by legendary folk singer songwriter Ewan MacColl, father of the late, great Kirsty MacColl, and also wrote, among others, the Grammy award winning 'The first time ever I saw your face'.
Bearing in mind that I've always loved the song, it was a very nice experience to be at The Matchstick Man pub in Salford Quays last December, when an old guy by the name of Jim, got up to sing, mercifully curtailing the tired old karaoke songs which were being ritually put to death in the bar & belted out a beautiful rendition of the the old song in homage to his hometown. Whilst the days of a good old singalong in North West pubs are largely long gone, as they are elsewhere in the UK,  it was especially unexpected as it was pleasing, to hear this authentic slice of northern gold served up in Salford on a cold December night.

Refreshments in Salford Dec 12
We were in the pub following the Squeeze gig at the Apollo, it is incredibly difficult to give a balanced view of this gig as I've been a fan for such a long time but in the interests of a objective critique, here goes!  Musically they were amazing, Glenn Tilbrook has lost nothing of his excellent vocals and remains a very underrated guitarist, some of his solos on the night were pure joy. When they played the hits and much loved songs we had all come to hear, it was awesome. However, they spent way too long self indulging in both new & obscure tracks which quite frankly, in parts had us yawning. Seriously guys, you know what everyone was hoping for, its not all about you, its about the audience you are entertaining, unfortunately it didn't quite come off & ended up a little bit disappointing. I suppose when you have been around as long as this band has, they have the right to a little self indulgence but come on, Squeeze, you can do better! Highlight for me, outside of the obvious 'Up the junction' and singalonga-labelled-with love, was Black Coffee in Bed, this track really works surprisingly well in a live environment.
One person who certainly didn't disappoint was support act  Paul Heaton, the ex Housemartins and Beautiful South singer/songwriter treated us to tracks from all phases of his brilliant career, with the emphasis particularly on the early Housemartins stuff, he was expertly assisted by his own three piece band, an acapello rendition of 'Caravan of Love' as a finale brought the house down. Without doubt, the best opening act I've seen for some time. I'm sure the crowd at the Apollo would not have complained at all if he'd have played on for another hour, outstanding!

The night was introduced  by comedian Peter Kay, another lifelong Squeeze fan, very random opening, but very funny! Fans of Corrie will be interested to hear we got a taxi to the gig from Streetcars! Alas neither Steve nor Lloyd was driving!
Gigs a plenty coming up this year, February will see us at both the Train & The Killers gigs in Manchester, The Fratellis are up next in Camden Town in April & Springsteen and the E Street band in Cardiff in July! Not bad for starters, hopefully going to be a great year for concerts!

Sad news about the demise of HMV but is anyone really surprised? The idea of a record store has been out-dated for years, surpassed with the no-nonsense, stock everything black holes that are Amazon and iTunes and generally the world wide interweb!. I loved mooching around record stores back in the day just as much as anyone else, but the music industry and how we peruse and purchase our music has changed dramatically, and for the better in this bloggers humble opinion. Instead of thumbing album or CD covers I now sift through the mountain of music at my fingertips on Youtube, if I like, I buy, there and then. I intend to cover more on the changing face of music making and purchasing in a future blog, but for now, HMV like the rest of the high street has failed to move with the times and is now paying the ultimate price. The high street has to reinvent itself, there are still, believe it or not, suburbs in a number of the UK's major cities and towns, where the High street is flourishing, they are doing so becaused they have evolved to adapt to the needs of their consumers and are vibrant places to visit, spend your hard earned pennies and simply enjoy being out in town. Unfortunately they are in a minority, more need to follow suit if we aren't to be completely taken over by the relentless march of betting shops, takeaways and hairdressers!

On a brighter note, a brand new Summats single will be released shortly, stangely enough via the aforementioned iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc, with a new EP hot on its heels before the summer. Its been a long time coming, our unerring ability to procrastinate never fails us! However, the tracks are largely ready to go with a little more effort put in, studio time coming up to finalise vocals, then its down to our friend and producer Danny Wyatt aka Fractured Calm to deliver the finished tracks, no pressure Danny! :)

Until next time, take care and keep smiling.