Does anyone else think festivals are crap? Well, I do, and I’ll tell you why.

First, there are too many of them. In the 70s, you only had Reading (Glastonbury didn’t really take off until the 80s). Now, if you look in the NME in any week during what we call the British summer there are dozens of them; and what’s a boutique festival supposed to be? And what idiot would arrange a major outdoor event which relies on good weather in this country during the summer?

And the toilets; you pay a small fortune to go to an event with toilet facilities that wouldn’t have been acceptable in the Middle Ages. I’m with the Manics on this one; take your own bog and don’t let anyone else use it. Next time you’re queuing to use a fetid stinkhole at a festival, ask yourself if the facilities backstage are the same; they’re not and you’re paying while they’re paid to be there (or freeloading). Read more

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 20 years and it’s an understatement to say that it’s been a roller-coaster.  This is the closest thing to a hometown gig on the tour and there’s a lot of love and mutual respect here.  The audience looks a lot older than at the last London show I saw and the reason is that most of these people are the fans that were there at the beginning.  This is an audience primed and waiting for the fuse to be lit.  The flamethrower that ignites it is “You Love Us” and Newport Centre erupts; the Manics are back in town.

James is trying not to swear too much because his dad’s here and Nicky manages a whole gig with only 1 costume change.  It would be easy to be complacent on a night like this but the Manics just don’t work that way; they’re incendiary from start to finish.  Songs from “Postcards from a Young Man” feature throughout the set and are well received by the partisan crowd, particularly the title song.  The strength of the performance, however is in the Manics back catalogue and their ability to deliver them with just as much venom as when they were originally recorded, although between songs the love and respect within the band and between the band and the audience is obvious.  There are a lot of references to Richey tonight and the tone is one of fond remembrance, which suggests that maybe the band are beginning to come to terms with that particular tragedy. Read more

This week I had the pleasure of meeting up with Southside Johnny before his show at Shepherds Bush Empire and had a chance to ask him a few questions.

AM – How did the European leg of your  tour go?

SSJ – Well, we missed our keyboard player, he had some family things, but Amsterdam was great .  The best part of Amsterdam is that The Paradiso’s a great venue.  We started off with the Solomon Burke stuff because I grew up with listening to that and some of the songs with the early band were Solomon Burke songs.  We started “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” and the audience started singing before I did and I thought “That’s great man” because it really felt like they were attuned to what we were doing and it was a great moment after Solomon had died a couple of days before in Schiphol airport (on the way to a show at The Paradiso).  Then the next night was good and the third night was a disaster.

AM – Is it a bit strange doing the London show so close to the start of the tour?

SSJ – No, you know it used to bother me, London, but we’ve done it enough times that at the end of the tour my voice is completely shot, so I’m glad to get it out of the way.  It is still a big thing, an important thing, for us because London is one of those places that you read about when you’re a kid and you can’t believe you’re actually there, but after this we go to Holmfirth and what could be more exciting than that? Read more

Does anyone else get fed up of hearing how great John Lennon and how he was the only important member of The Beatles? Well, the bad news is it’s only going to get worse. After Sam Taylor-Wood’s film “Nowhere Boy” last year and Christopher Eccleston’s performance in Lennon Naked earlier this year, we’re dangerously close to the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death and an opportunity to wallow in the worst of his mawkish, maudlin post-Beatles work. I can feel a BBC 4 themed Friday night coming on already: “Imagine – The Philosophy of John Lennon”, “Working Class Hero – a John Lennon Biography” and maybe some good old Beatles footage.

OK, “Imagine”; how did that dirge ever become the song that a pop genius is remembered by? The music is tedious and the lyrics are childish, when they’re not totally hypocritical. How can anyone sitting in a mansion in Weybridge write:

“Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can”? Read more