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Sunday, 29 May 2011

Wilton's Music Hall...

Wilton's Music Hall in the East End has just had it's funding application turned down by the Heritage Lottery fund.
This means that unless there is a last minute financial reprieve in the immediate future (or unless Paul Daniels swoops in with his wand) this incredible last bastion of Victorian music hall architecture which now doubles as an utterly unique mixed arts venue, will close by the end of the year. And all because it needs £4 million pounds to repair a structure which was woefully neglected and abused for much of the last century but is, remarkably, still clinging on for dear life.

I once went to a magical night of music there where I heard the most beautiful rendition of 'Stardust' by Hoagy Carmichael played by my friend Sheikh Ahmed. The setting, atmosphere, sense of history coupled with this stunning piece of music was so moving I almost cried...

Hoagy Carmichael 'Stardust'
I wondered what the bulk of £4 million quid was buying these days;
Apparently £2.5m would put Cheryl Cole back on the X Factor
The latest budget for the Olympics has risen to £9.3bn
There is a Royal Travel Fund at the Department for Transport which paid out almost £4m for Prince Andrew alone
Top players in the UK Premier League are are now reported to be earning in excess of £10m a year
Even the Prime Minister spent £680,000 of taxpayers money refurbishing Downing Street

Wilton's is the last standing music hall of it's kind.
When it's gone, it's gone... 

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Brainstorming sessions recently with my friends Cally at Antar and directors Rod Main and Ita Fitzgerald about videos, releases, packaging, stuff we like, things we want to make happen...

Interestingly, whomever you are plotting with, talk always turns to logistics, red tape, paperwork, permits, all the things that 'piss on your chips' as Ita so deftly put it.

Unfortunately, these are the parts of creativity that kill the buzz - all the form filling, capital raising, phone calling, hoop-jumping blah that takes the sheen off your enthusiasm to just get up and do something.
When we made the video for 'Hell-Money-O' I spent the whole day thinking I was going to get my collar felt for blocking the pavement with a 'minor'...

We were looking at an old U2 video and I remember it being reported that they had closed off an entire area of Dublin. Nice work if you can get it...

And, while we're on the subject of someone else granting you permission to do something, they are lobbying to get a piece of graffiti removed from a wall outside The Premises rehearsal rooms in E2 because the artist didn't get permission to paint the mural in the first place (unless you're partial to the glitz and glamour of the adjacent Gala Bingo Hall, this was one of the ugliest stretch of roads in Hackney until The Rabbit brightened it up).

My latest video idea could turn out to be a logistical mightmare. Head down, soldier on and don't draw attention to oneself.

Carpe Diem, as they say in Hounslow...

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Gonzales. A. Ma. Zing...

In all the time I've been making music I've only really been truly, specifically, artistically jealous of another musician twice before.

The first time happened several years ago while I was reading an interview with Bruce Springsteen. At the end of the piece the journalist asked him what music he'd been listening to and enjoying recently and one of those he sited was Fourtet. I swear to God, I was so green-eyed I could have hidden out behind Keiran Hebden's wheelie bin and jumped out on him with a can of mace...
The second time occurred last year - I was undergoing my Sunday morning ritual of listening to The Archers omnibus on Radio 4, closely followed by Desert Island Discs (yes, that is really what I do on Sundays), when the lovely Jon Snow, for it was he, played a track by Mara Carlyle and said how much her music and her live performance meant to him.
Talk about gutted. (The fact that I happen to agree with Jon Snow is neither here nor there...)

So, imagine my horror this evening when I went to see Chilly Gonzales in London and the old familiar feelings reared their ugly head. Equally at home performing inspired classical solos on the piano or spitting out genuinely hilarious and brilliant lyrics (who would think to rhyme "ball sack" with "tall chap"..?) whilst accompanying himself on the bongos - there is nothing that man can't do. And as for his band of double drummers and pianists, including the uber-talented Mocky, it doesn't even bear thinking about.
People are quick to bandy about the term genius - and in all honesty Gonzales would be the first to do so in relation to himself - but the cap rarely fits.

I would have given my right arm to be part of that band tonight.
The guy is blessed...