Saturday, June 30, 2007

a conversation i had in cookie club last night

Cookie Club in Nottingham last night, I bump into an old school friend of mine on the dancefloor. Conversation continues well enough for a few minutes, before I come out and ask him straight: "So, are you still a racist?"

Yes, it would appear. Some of his highlights of the following conversation include...

"If I'm on the Underground and I don't like the look of somebody that gets on, I get off and wait for the next train"

"Right then", I replied, "so you are still a racist I take it?"

"Look Mark, I might be a little bit racist, but as I see it, it's better to be racist than dead"

Urgh. URGH. What a tosser. When pushed further for his reasoning he said that as I was brought up in Nottingham I had no appreciation for the situation, that he's well versed in being from Bradford. Even the local papers, he says, report the bare facts of the situation where a lot of non-white people are responsible for a large proportion of the crime (I have yet to investigate whether or not Bradford's local press is owned by the Daily Mail).

Would any of our Yorkshire cousins like to comment on these opinions? At that point in the conversation anyway, I simply had to walk away. But I wish I'd challenged him more, instead of him floating along not thinking his opinions are utterly deplorable.

So yeah, in conclusion: URGH.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

glastonbury 2007: the review

Say what you like about Glastonbury Festival, it's never anything less then a huge event. I was there for the forth time in a row this year, and have now written a review of it. For you to read with your eyes and that.

It all starts at 10:20 in Nottingham Broadmarsh Bus Station with Harriet, and the beginning of a deeply unpleasant coach journey. Before setting out we're warned that the air-conditioning isn't working. No big deal when we're getting nice air flow through windows whilst pelting down the motorway, but just you wait for the 2 hours spent at crawling speed once you get near the festival. Sweltering does not even begin to describe it. Still, we're uncomplaining people, and at least Harriet's got a few links on Radio 1 to do to keep us entertained for a bit (which would include us both singing 'The Wheels On The Bus' to Edith Bowman's 4 million listeners, as well as getting Divine Comedy - National Express played, something I'm particularly proud of).

So 2 hours on the swelterbus pass, and we approach the festival's makeshift bus station. Except, in a momentary confusion our silly coach driver mistakes a warden's 'come on in' hand signal to mean 'go that other way please', and the coach makes it's way in the opposite direction despite passenger protest and another long queue that we are now roaring past. The coach has to go find the nearest roundabout before rejoining the queue, and we have to spend an extra hour and a half rapidly dehydrating aboard that humid hell hole. FTO National Express: please stop subcontracting out lucrative festival operations to idiots. Thank you.

Still, we're there, and the next 36 hours are the expected mix of exploring and drinking, and then it's Friday and time for some bands (for most of us anyway, Jess would be throwing up most of the day and only recover in time to see Fatboy Slim's headline DJ set).

We see promising little bits of The Cribs and Modest Mouse in between ducking off to do more links for Radio 1. This time including a rendition of Busted - Year 3000 - truly we are cool - and Lucy giving a big mention to the fact that we're going to try and play some SingStar in The Q tent later. (Actually, if Lucy had been the DJ giving SingStar such a mention, Sony's PR people would've been so pleased they would've sent round a free PS3 to the radio station within a couple of hours. Get in touch please, Sony people.)

All that done with, it was time to see Bright Eyes, who delivered a perfectly pleasant set, which I now have no other recollection of. Not the most memorable performance then, obviously. Then it was over to see most of The Magic Numbers set, who were hitting all the right sunshine-pop buttons, even if their current album is crap. Perfect mid-afternoon festival entertainment, regardless.

The same, however, can't be said of Bloc Party, who fall flat. A poor sound mix doesn't help, but they fail to grasp the logic of playing to festival crowds, with minimal interaction and a refusal to play two of their singles (I Still Remember and Two More Years), which must amount to festival suicide. They still just about manage to get people moving, but this was a lazy and naive performance.

No such arrogance from The Fratellis, who's party-rock vibe is exactly what needs injecting into proceedings. It's an admirable set from a band on only their first album, they're visibly giving it their all, and everybody enjoys themselves.

Arcade Fire are billed as one of the main events of the weekend, but something is missing. This may be my fault: I'm late entering the crowd and have to contend with knocking about at the back where the crowd is middle-aged and the sound is lacking a satisfying level of volume. Then again, Win Butler's taunting of the apparently sedate crowd would suggest blame might lay elsewhere. Any Arcade Fire show is always something special, but this wasn't close to the legendary performance they're capable of.

On a day of two of my favourite bands underwhelming, thank the Lord himself for Damien Rice. One could happily spend the evening with the embarrassment of riches headlining other stages (Bjork, Hot Chip, Damien Marley, Fatboy Slim, Spiritualized or Arctic Monkeys), but at the Acoustic Tent Rice is performing above even his usual standards. It's a blazing, vitriolic show that is impossible not to get caught up in, and away from the technical difficulties of the main stages every beat of sound is perfect. In short: the best set of Glastonbury 2007.

Saturday comes, and The 'somehow-haven't-found-mainstream-success' Pipettes have an early start on the Pyramid stage. They attract a sparse crowd, but entertain them well with their collection of three-minute pop ditties.

Three-minute pop ditties aren't quite what Guillemots excel at. Instead they play with an added sense of occasion and scale layered on top of their already unique gig proposition. It won't help them gain widespread success, but they are very deserving of their cult status.

CSS play to a huge mid-afternoon crowd on the other stage, and rise to the occasion with balloons floating from everything and anything on stage. Ever-dedicated leadsinger Lovefoxx still suffers from a voice that suggests the record company are working her into the ground, but the energy she brings is remarkable, and as it proves, infectious. They will have made many new fans here.

It's a different kind of energy next from Klaxons, namely: drunk energy. Performing right on the edge for the full hour, it's a gloriously chaotic and haphazard set from three guys who are clearly loving every minute.

It's back to the tent for a bit, as I'd rather eat toenail clippings then stick around for Babyshambles and their unique bout of Kate Moss duetting hyperbole.

Returning for Maximo Park is a necessity though. As Paul Smith himself says: "we haven't got special guests, balloons or cheesy moves, all we've got is some songs we think you might like", which sounds like as perfect a summary of the band as is possible. Indeed, Maximo are in danger of getting lost on a bill as big as Glastonbury's, but they just about have the quality of songs to see them through.

Editors are a band moving away from their previous label of indie also-rans, if their new songs are anything to go by. Given that the audience don't know many of the songs on offer here, and that those songs aren't exactly snappy catchy pop gems, they are a remarkable success.

And then it is to the Pyramid Stage for headliners The Killers, who are the four hundredth band to suffer technical difficulties. At times the sound volume is dire, and the rest of the time just irritatingly quiet. The band are performing well, if failing to make the audience connection the legendary headliners of the past have (Coldplay, Paul McCartney, Radiohead, The Flaming Lips). By no means a disaster, lump it with Oasis's 2004 set as one of missed opportunities.

Sunday arrives, and this hungover and sleep deprived festival goer manages to muster the energy to see The Sunshine Underground, who prove to be well worth the effort. They do nothing different from their usual live show, but that show is so good they don't need to. Well worth checking them out if you're curious.

Then it's back to bed, to recuperate for a heavy evening session, that begins with a phone call from my brother - who announces I've got a 2:1 in my degree - just before seeing The Go! Team on the Other Stage. Needless to say, I'm in the party mood, and Go! Team are the perfect accessory to any party. It's a sparse crowd for an evening slot, but those present lap up new songs and old alike, and they are a real highlight.

Then, one of the real events of this year: Pendulum in the East Dance Tent. New live band, rare live performance, and a feverish level of expectation. Which they subsequently rose to. None of us stop dancing for the full duration, and it's the most enjoyable act of the weekend. Only it's brevity - they played for just 50 of their billed 60 minute show - stopped it being the set of the festival. Quite simply, nobody was yet ready to say goodbye.

Chemical Brothers are left to round off the weekend, which they do with all the slickness you'd expect. The sound was still too quiet, but by then everybody was used to the problem and we didn't let it ruin anything.

Then it was to The Park to further celebrate, followed by a 4am walk across the site in torrential rain wearing just a t-shirt and jeans. A mad predicament, but then, it wouldn't be Glastonbury without it.

Right, that was Glastonbury 2007. Who's joining us for 2008?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

departing manchester's student scene, my new microblog, and amstell recognition

There's nothing quite like a link from a proper well-regarded media website to send traffic to your blog soaring. It's even better when it's actual recognition from the website of your favourite TV show (over on the right hand side there). I also thought: I'd better actually write something is this blog then.

And well. it's all going on at the moment. Hence why I haven't really had time to blog. As some know, I'm no longer either a student, or a resident of Manchester. To that end, it was probably high time I changed the name of this here blog from "postcards from the manchester student scene".

Hope you don't hate the new name, I preferred it to "postcards from the nottingham graduate scene"

Also: there's Glastonbury. We're heading down there on Wednesday. I'll probably do a review posting and videoblog upon my return, but in an effort to be more instantaneous (and because Facebook hasn't bothered to set up Facebook Mobile in the UK yet), I've signed up to Twitter.

Not all that many people know it, so basically: I send text messages (or go on the website, less inventively) whenever I want, saying whatever i'm up to. Think of it as micro-blogging. You people can then keep up with it on my Facebook or Myspace page, on my blog,, or even sign up to receive the updates as texts on your mobile straight away, and totally for free. Perfect if you want or need to keep up with my Glastonbury antics.

Go visit me on if you wish to sign up or owt.

Also on the Glastonbury front, today was our first day of talking about it all this week on Edith Bowman's show.

It was all very good fun, I got to embarrass my brother with a story from his stag weekend, get Pendulum played on daytime national radio, and instigate a debate on how best to humiliate someone in front of 70,000 people.

So: you can listen again on Radio 1 Online, but be sure to listen the rest of this week at 1pm every day to hear us all, and especially on Friday where we hear Edith is going to be coming to find us on site, and spend an hour of the show broadcasting from our tents!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

clearest evidence yet that i am a radio one whore

Anybody listen to Edith Bowman's Radio 1 show? Hope so, because all this coming week, me and my Glastonbury-bound friends are on it.

It's a feature they do called Lunchtime Linkup, where every week they feature a group of people, be it from workplaces, uni coursemates, or whoever, and talk to them for the first hour of each show, between 1 and 2 in the afternoon.

Every day you'll hear at least one of us on there charting our Glastonbury preparation, journey and on-site antics, and i'm starting things off tomorrow with a discussion of stag weekends (given that i'm currently on my brother's one in Cork).

Listen in on air, or listen again at if you're curious!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

happy birthday muldoon/blog

Not that I expect anybody to actually care, but today marks the 2 year anniversary of my first internet blog post.

From very humble (read: awful) beginnings as a MSN Spaces blog through on to more regular blogs on Myspace back when everybody was jumping on it's filthy bandwagon around the start of 2006, to then seeing if I could get anywhere with a proper blog when I was living in Dublin and Tenerife last summer, it's been quite a journey.

Lord knows if I'll still be doing this 2 years from now, somehow I doubt it. I'll probably be sitting in Bermuda sipping a 95% alcohol drink, reflecting on my time serving in the Royal Space Army or something. But here's to those two years anyway. And hey: thanks for reading.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

my simon amstell london embarrassment

You may or may not know that my favourite comedian guy is the popular Never Mind The Buzzcocks host, Simon Amstell.

Well, I'm in London. I came down yesterday on the train (cost: £35) to see Amstell's stand-up show for the first time, with my London friend and fellow Amstell-appreciator Harriet.

Booked the tickets weeks ago, (cost: £6.50. Bargain!) and had been really quite looking forward to it ever since.

The plan was simple: get to London in the afternoon, saunter over to Mile End to find Harriet, saunter about some more, then make our way to Camden's Etcetera Theatre for about 8:30, because doors open at 7:30 and that would be pretty much perfect. We can't afford pricey Camden drinks, after all.

Except: we got to the theatre and are confused about how to get inside. We ask a barmaid, and suddenly it becomes clear: the 7:30 on the ticket wasn't the doors open time, it was the show start time.

Cue general mortified reactions.

We crept upstairs to the theatre anyway, and entered a room with no more than 70 people in it, and Amstell six feet from us, who then proceeded to welcome us in, and explain that he had just told the audience that that was pretty much the end of the show, and asked if anybody had any questions.

Harriet speedily asked if he could provide the gist of the show to us two latecomers, to which he then generously spent three minutes reading out the hundred or so prompt words he had written down, and telling a couple of short jokes he'd missed out along the way.

And then that was it. Show over. And a room of 70 people are laughing at us having been encouraged by our favourite comedian.

Awesome. Both of us know now, not to presume that that time printed on tickets is the time doors open. Important lesson learnt, I think.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

doctor who appreciation blog

Two questions for you on this Sunday evening: Are you watching Doctor Who? and: If not, why not?

Maybe you don't watch that much TV? That's understandable. Us kids these days often don't. But Doctor Who is the TV show that currently occupies that tired "if you only watch one thing, make sure it is this" cliché.

It's just bloody great television. If TV was the city of London, Doctor Who would be that funny shaped gherkin building. It's different, modern, lavish, expensive, and perhaps makes people seeing it for the first time a little jealous that wherever they're from can't make something as good as it.

Those of you that have been watching this series will know what I'm talking about. It's been the best one yet. And did you see last nights? It was the best of this year. And that's no faint praise.

Now I'd never watched any Doctor Who before it's 2005 revival. Bar Red Dwarf, I've never watched any Sci-fi TV. And we all know why don't we? That's right, it's because Sci-fi is crap.

So why then, is Doctor Who so good? It's not rocket science, really. The BBC decided it wanted it to be special program, so they gave it the biggest budget on British TV. With that big budget, it then means that they can attract the best writers on British TV, the best actors, and the best production team.

And it all goes in to producing one brilliant family-friendly TV show. Plus, the format of the show means that it's very rarely about science fiction, it's pretty much just a loose excuse to tell a bunch of short stories every year with a few reoccurring characters splattered throughout.

From tales of Shakespeare being hounded by witches, to being trapped on spaceships that have just 42 minutes before they crash into the sun, just about every episode this year has been a joyful pleasure.

And next Saturday's episode, "Blink", happens to be written by my favourite writer Stephen Moffat (yeah, I know.that's pretty geeky). He wrote the infamous "are you my mummy" episodes from the first series, and the great "The Girl In The Fireplace" one from last year. As well as every episode of the hugely underrated sitcom Coupling. Remember that?

So it should be another classic episode from him. Be sure to watch it, eh?

Friday, June 01, 2007

i heart the glastonbury 2007 lineup

One has to hand it to Glastonbury: they've lined up a stellar list of my favourite bands, and made hardly any of them clash with each other across the three days of the festival.

By far the best place to check out the schedule is over on the Guardian's website, where they've included start times as well. Below I've listed the acts I plan to see, so if you know me and you're going, why not leave comment on which of those you'd like to see as well, and maybe we can meet up and have a little dance, eh?

As I said, the line up features frighteningly few clashes. The worst is Kaiser Chiefs vs Pendulum. They're not on at exactly the same time, so do I see most of Kaiser Chiefs then hot foot it across and get an awful crowd position for the most danceable act on the bill, or shove off Kaiser Chiefs altogether, despite them saying themselves they're aiming to be the most-talked about performance of the weekend?

Missing Pendulum's rare full band performance isn't an option, that's for sure. And the only other line up clash for me? The Pipettes vs The Hours. And The Pipettes win that one hands down.

I'm also unsure who to see close the festival. I've little interest in seeing The Who, so it's stick around to see the I've-barely-heard-of-you Carl Cox, or Chemical Brothers on the Other Stage I guess. Opinions welcome, people!

Right, here's who I'm vaguely planning to see. Hit me back, peeps.

Damien Rice / Arcade Fire / Fratellis / Bloc Party / Bright Eyes / Lisa Hannigan / Joe Driscoll / Amy MacDonald
The Killers / Editors / Maximo Park / Klaxons / CSS / The Hours / The Pipettes
Chemical Brothers (?) / Pendulum / Kaiser Chiefs / The Go! Team / The Little Ones / The Young Knives / The Sunshine Underground / Mark Thomas