This is a Good Day

I used to have Snoopy mug with that sentiment on it. But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about today being a Good Day. And the reason that today is a Good Day is because there is a new a-ha album out.

Now, I’ve been wracking my brains, but I can’t recall if I’ve ever mentioned on the blog that I’m a bit of a fan of the band. And right now, I don’t have time to check, because I’m listening to the new a-ha album that came out today.

After 10 studio albums and 4 previous live offerings, several (or more) compilations, a lot of B-sides, rarities, remasterings and the like, and over a timespan of more than 32 years, you might be forgiven for thinking that I’ve heard it all. And, in actual fact, I have (albeit that there are two new songs on the album).

And of course, Unplugged albums are nothing new. But, without wanting to sound over the top, this acoustic album offers me something so weirdly unfamiliar. A wholly different angle to songs that I’ve heard so very many times. The version of I’ve Been Losing You – a song 30 years old – had me with tears in my eyes this morning: the sheer approachability of the lyrics, harmonies and emotion in this form is breathtaking.

Of course, I’ll be listening to it non-stop for the next [time span], until I think that there’s nothing more to discover. And then I’ll go away for a bit, before coming back and hopefully discovering a bit more.

But for this morning at least, every track is a completely new adventure and I couldn’t be happier.

This is a Good Day.

Bastille Cape Town review (2017)

That date in the title just to differentiate this post from a similar one 3 years ago.

Right, let’s get on with this: brief and to the point can like to be my style this morning. (UPDATE from end of post: this didn’t happen, sorry.)

First off, this was a birthday gift for our 9 year old daughter, so standing tickets were out of the question: she’d get really tired and be staring at several or more student bums for 3 hours. So we were sitting right up at the back – a position which has both its advantages (comfy seats, better view, fewer bums) and disadvantages (bit distant from the action, not quite the same atmosphere).

We arrived just in time for the first support act, Opposite The Other. Local boys done good. Not my sort of music, but there’s clearly a great deal of talent here. There was a bit of a dearth of character and stage presence though. But then, this was a first act, playing to a half empty arena some 2½ hours before the main event, and South African audiences are notoriously disrespectful anyway, so I’m not sure that anyone noticed or cared.
I’ll give them a solid 6/10. Not bad, could do better.

But then after their exit, came the MC. I missed his name, but basically he was a late middle aged American gentleman; a balding and somewhat portly chap with zero personality. Good choice for the job. And here let me digress a bit: look, I’m not sure that I could MC a concert. But that’s why I don’t MC concerts. In much the same way, I’m pretty sure I can’t do open heart surgery so I go out of my way to avoid putting myself in situations where I might find myself having to do open heart surgery.

Play to your strengths, innit?

I don’t know much about the MC last night, but I have a feeling that he might be better at open heart surgery than MCing concerts.
It sounded like he was going to be doing the Durban (Friday) and Joburg (Saturday) concerts too. You guys are in for a treat. Eish.

Fortunately, the fun sponge and his monotone verbal stumbling eventually made way for Matthew Mole (who is not actually a mole) (private joke, sorry) and even more fortunately, he was very good. Tight, professional, engaging, and clearly and rightfully proud of what he was doing. One drummer, one synth and varying sizes of strummable instrumentation, plus some well-placed confidence and that voice: a really simple combination which worked really well. Let the music do the talking, as it were. The audience was also more receptive -probably aided by some Castle Lite and some better-known songs – and the performance finished with our temporary protagonist standing on the fence at the front of the crowd and banging a big drum, yielding almost iconic imagery like this (nabbed from his Facebook page):

Good work, Matthew. 9/10. Maybe even a 9½.

Time for Mr Boring to come on again and try to evaporate any excitement or atmosphere, but amusingly, this  ime around  is  icrophone was ‘t  orking pro erly and so we were spared from much of his “witty” “banter”.

There may actually be a god, after all.

Bastille time. Volume up a notch or two. Lighting up several more. And a huge welcome as the band took to the stage, introduced by a video of their strange newcaster, who resurfaced again and again during the evening. We began with Send Them Off! and from the get go, the huge energy was evident. The familiarity of Laura Palmer – a beautiful, almost orchestral version with soaring strings reminiscent of The Sun Always Shines On TV -really got the crowd going and we were away. Even more so when Dan wandered out into the crowd while performing Flaws. And then memories of Kirstenbosch 3 years ago were stirred as the audience talked right through a beautiful rendition of Overjoyed. You rude bastards. All of you.

A good setlist of stuff followed with songs from Bad Blood and Wild World cleverly combined to not stray too far from the familiar, nor lose the energy while also showcasing their slower “massively depressing” (Dan’s words, not mine) music.

We got an emotional Durban Skies dedicated to Dan’s family (and notably only ever performed live in SA) and then an acoustic Two Evils from the balcony just down in front of us, before a really weird ending to the set, with Things We Lost To The Fire and then Pompei and then… nothing. Even though the newsreader on the big screen told us “That’s all!”, it took the house lights coming up and the roadies dismantling the drum kit before the rather confused audience started to leave.

But this oddity aside, it was a brilliant performance. Energetic, loud, entertaining and captivating. And all so hugely professional. Really amazing. About 20 songs, about 90 minutes on stage. Great value for money. They’ll be joining Matthew on a high quality 9½. (Don’t be sad. I don’t give out 10s easily.)

Oh, and before we go: a shout out to Grand West. They really do do concerts well there. Extra exits, well lit temporary pathways to the car park, helpful staff prepaid parking tickets, brilliant traffic control. Each bit saves just a few seconds, but add that up across 7,000 strong crowd and it makes a big difference. There’s a lot that other venues could learn from them.

Concert tonight/We Were Beautiful

It’s another Rite of Passage moment this evening as we take Scoop to her first “real” concert. She’s done several local acts at local places…

…but this evening’s Bastille concert at Grand West will be her first international one.

Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to stick a Bastille tune on here. However, having gone to their Youtube, I then spotted the new Belle and Sebastian video that I’ve been wanting to share for ages. And given that I’m going to see the real thing later, I felt that I might as well forgo a Bastille video and give you that instead.

Really good song. Really simple video. A Saturday morning in Glasgow. And a trumpet.

Concert review tomorrow (maybe).

The Punishment of Luxury

First full day on my hols. I’m hardly likely to be writing you an essay, am I? (Spoiler: I wrote a small one for tomorrow’s post.)

So let’s have some music.

The keyboard work on OMD’s new single is the 2017 embodiment of Kraftwerk. That’s obviously no bad thing.

The lyrics and video poke fun at our disposable, trivial, superficial and narcissistic modern lives. They’re not inaccurate.

Thus, it makes for both excellent and somewhat disturbing listening.

Squares

After taking/seeing this image of my daughter amidst the flowers on the coastline at L’Agulhas, I have had The Beta Band’s Squares as an earworm.

And yes, you do know the song – you just don’t know that you know it.

As for the flowers. LOADS of them. Spectacular.