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One of the highlight’s of Glastonbury 2010 was the secret gig performed by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood at the Park Stage on Friday evening.

Here is a recording of their performance that evening of one of the standout tracks from In Rainbows; Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.  If the gig itself wasn’t enough I had a really nice chat with Michael Eavis about the excellent sunny weather just before Yorke and Greenwood came on stage.

Malcolm McLaren, the godfather of punk rock  has died in Switzerland aged 64, from mesothelioma, a rare fom of cancer.  He had been suffering from the disease “for some time, but recently had been full of health, which then rapidly deteriorated” said his spokesman Les Molloy.

McLaren achieved notoriety as the sharp-witted, acid tongued, manager of the Sex Pistols.  McLaren claimed in the film, The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle that he master minded the entire road to fame of punk’s trail blazers.   He was born in North London, and married Vivienne Westwood with whom he opened a clothes shop on the King’s Road called ‘Let it Rock’ later renamed SEX.  He fought bitterly with Johnny Rotten over the rights to the ‘Sex Pistols’, name and the pair did not speak in the 10 years before McLaren’s death.

Large image of A Certain Ratio

Saturday night saw the coming together of two Manchester institutions.  Punk Funkster icons ‘A Certain Ratio’  played the epitome of the intimate gig venue ‘The Band on the Wall’.  It was opening weekend at the BOTW after 4 years of darkness whilst it underwent redevelopment,with combined funds from the Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a £4 million project.  The place has lost none of its character but has acquired 21st century cool which it effortlessly combines with the heritage that hosted 30s swing bands through to 70s punk.  Fitting enough that one of the 70s draws should be back for the unveiling.

It would be insufficient to say that ACR rolled back the years – in a sense they did but there is more to it than that.  The music really has stood the test of time.  The 2008 release ‘Mind Made Up’ fell easily into place alongside classics that were first played a quarter of a century before; and we had them all – Mickey Way, Flight and the Ratio take on Joy Division’s ‘Heart and Soul’.  Listening again this music really is still contemporary even though unlike their US prodigies ‘LCD Soundsystem’, ACR really were there.    

The rythym combination of Jeremy Kerr on Bass and Don Johnson on drums is a sight and sound to behold, but when Martin Moscrop slips onto the drum stool and Johnson straps on his bass for ‘Knife Slits Waters’ we see a band who if you cut them have the funk running all the way through.  The encore was gloriously free from surprises (Shack up and Si Firmir O Grido). It was a privilege to see ACR live again and a joy to to do so at the greatest little venue reinstalled as the beating heart of Manchester’s live music scene.

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It’s cool to slag off the Mercury awards, and the winners.  Today on the morning after the night before, the media made much of the Gomez factor and the unfulfilled promise of several of the Mercury winners. Well so effing what. Speech Debelle may not be everybody’s cup of hip hop but she won and that’s a fact.

What is truly brilliant about the Mercury Awards is that it raises the profile of a range of artists.   Speech had only sold 3000 albums before the event but now the world opens up to her music and vice versa.  My discovery of the year via Mercury was The Invisible.  The fact they didn’t win means nothing to me.  They are a class act and a playlist fixture  from now on.  It would be cheesy to big up The Mercury Awards for making The Invisible, visible.  So I won’t do that. No I won’t.

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Rumours of a mobile version of Spotify have been circulating for several months.  Spotify is already revolutionising how we listen to music in our homes but it looks set to do the same for music on the move.  The official blog for Spotify announced today that they had submitted an application to Apple for a Spotify app that they claim will be available in a few weeks.  An application for streaming music (that allows you to download playlists to the iPhone that you can listen to offline) appears to strike a blow to the very idea of an iPhone – that it’s a music player, which incidentally enables you to buy tracks directly from iTunes.

That’s why people are speculating as to whether Apple will approve the app, and there is no doubt that Apple could reject it on grounds that Spotify competes with the iTunes music store.  There is a precedent as Apple rejected the Podcaster app because it was seen as too similar to iTunes, an accusation that could easily be levied at Spotify.  At Revolver we believe that Apple will say yes to Spotify and if they don’t do it straightaway they will eventually because;

  • Spotify has already achieved a phenomenal brand equity in the few months since it was launched
  • The app will sell iPhones because it is so good and Apple makes more from devices than it does from the iTunes store
  • Music streaming uses a lot of bandwidth and ultimately that’s commercially good for Apple and their partners
  • If they say ‘no’, Spotify on Android phones may prove to be an iPhone killer

This last point is the real deal maker or breaker.  Spotify very cleverly released a demo video of an Android app in May and development has been taking place of both apps in parallel.  There are some great new Android powered phones on the way.  If Android phones used Spotify and iPhones could not it would go a long way to damage Apple’s dominance in the market.

One way or another mobile Spotify is on the way and subscription streaming is here to stay.  Buying music is so last century.

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The hurricane ravaged Escenario Verde (Green Stage)

 

This year’s festival at Benicassim has to go on record as one of the most eventful, especially on the Friday night.  A forest fire (if only Lloyd Cole had reformed the Commotions to play at the Spanish musicfest) raged across the road from the main stage, not in front of it as the hopelessly inaccurate report in the NME suggested, but near enough to warm the seat of your pants.  At the same time a 70 kph hurricane blew right across the site for several hours taking bits of the two main stages with it, most of the backstage VIP area along with numerous tents.

The main casualty was the Kings of Leon set.  Whilst they may have been prepared to postpone their appearance until the Saturday their gig gear had already left town, bound for the Swiss border.  Maxïmo Park did reschedule their appearance and didn’t disappoint. ‘Acrobat’ was a high (wire) point.

The thing about the Festival Internacional de Benicàssim, even more than other festivals is that you shouldn’t set too much store by who you’ll see.  In addition to the KOL storm intervention Lily Allen was a no show, possibly due to a wig malfunction.  Whilst one of my intended highlights ‘TV on the Radio’ did appear, they took to the stage an hour early during which time I was circling the site having pointless discussions with various ‘officials’ about different types of car park accreditation.

Still Oasis were pretty good despite the now obligatory sound problems.  Elbow brought the best of Manchester to the Castellón province and The Killers, headlining on the Sunday night brought the house down, what was left of it.