Right there!

chem element of surprise

Memorable gigs attended

The Who, 1976

The Who, 1976

For no particular reason, here’s a few standout gigs I’ve been to down the years. The first big rock gig was The Who at Charlton Athletic F.C. in 1976. It was pouring with rain but The Who were brilliant and very loud. The great keyboard loop at the beginning of Won’t Get Fooled Again seemed to go on forever and drummer Keith Moon lived up to his wild reputation. I saw a lot of great live bands in the late 70s from Pink Floyd to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Peter Frampton. Queen and Steve Hillage at Hyde Park was a corker in 1976 too.

Marillion, 1982

Marillion, 1982

By 1982 I was living up in London and making regular visits to the famous Marquee Club to see an unsigned progressive rock band called Marillion. There was a truly electric and magical atmosphere at those early Fish Marquee gigs which increased in intensity as the band got closer to signing with EMI. Great times and a further inspiration for my own music during the 80s.

Bono with Salman Rushdie, U2 in 1993

Bono with Salman Rushdie, U2 in 1993

U2 at Wembley Stadium in 1993 remains one of the most extraordinary gigs I’ve ever been to although they aren’t one of my favourite bands. The Zooropa tour broke completely new ground with an astonishing multimedia spectacular. The big screens flashed up “Everything You Know Is Wrong”, “Believe Everything” and “Taste Is The Enemy Of Art” and other assorted nonsense, or is that wisdom? Huge, mind-blowing, completely bonkers and brilliant.

Chemical Brothers, 2005

Chemical Brothers, 2005

 

By the 90s I was more interested in dancing (if my jumping up and down or whirling round and round in Brighton clubs could be called dancing) and later Britpop. There was a real energy to the early raves and the dance music that came out of that scene – Orbital, Massive Attack, Underworld were all great live. The positivity seemed to gradually die out after a few years so it was an unexpected joy to experience the consciousness-raising Chemical Brothers on my birthday in May 2005, a fantastic night. Without any drugs I might add – the music has always been enough maaaan.

Steve Hackett and Genesis Revisited, 2013

Steve Hackett and Genesis Revisited, 2013

More recently, having missed 70s Genesis with Peter Gabriel the first time round, Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited tour in 2013 was a chance to put that right. Great performance, great band, Hackett has continued to inspire at many gigs since I first saw him in 1979.

Just a few snapshots.

The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science

TheHereticsAuthor Will Storr takes the reader on an extraordinarily human and personal journey as he asks the question: “Why do obviously intelligent people believe things in spite of the evidence against them?”. This is one of the most original and thought-provoking books I have read for some time, it really is quite brilliant.

There are many unpredictable twists and turns. Throughout the book, Storr encounters a wide range of colourful characters and belief systems on his travels. A Creationist minister, homeopaths, Holocaust denier David Irving, and Skeptics themselves are just some of the cast of characters. The author is skeptical about everything – including his own skepticism. “My work has taught me that the truth is always nuanced; that outrage is mostly born of misunderstanding and that, sometimes, black really can be white.”

There is a flavour of the investigative journalist Louis Theroux and, for those who remember him, the late Robert Anton Wilson. A rational and scientific approach is mixed with personal memoir, an open mind and a great sense of humour. Whatever your beliefs and views on the superiority of a scientific approach to knowledge, this book can not fail to shake you up a bit! Genius.

The fracking and shale gas farce continues

FrackingOhio2014Tory energy minister Matthew Hancock is the latest Tory Charlie to enthuse about the supposed benefits of fracking and shale gas. “I want to speed up shale. It takes too long at the moment. We have to ensure that instead of an array of complicated permissions we have very firm but very clear rules.” Oh good, full speed ahead. No need to worry about the recent disaster in Ohio then.

FrackingPoliceCostOr indeed, no need to worry about the huge cost to the taxpayer for policing the many legitimate peaceful protests that are taking place around the UK. No need to worry about the cost of the damage to roads caused by lorries, something I witnessed myself last year in Balcombe. Would the industry survive if they had to pay for such “inconveniences”?

All is well. Keep burning those fossil fuels, we really don’t need to worry about all that climate change stuff do we? The fracking companies get massive subsidies and tax breaks to damage the environment – maximum profit and minimum risk for the¬†investors and shareholders. Corporate Britain strikes again – hurrah! More info at Frack Off.